Flames of War In the Night
Translator: Mythos IX
Editors: Darkdhaos, TaintedDreams, Skythewood, ExLeecher-kun
Imperial Calendar Year 851, April 30th
Just before the noon bell rang.
In Fort Volk which was built from a mine, soldiers who were wounded, were sent to the large space in front of the fortress’ main gate.
The new recruits training outside were ambushed by the Duchy’s vanguard units.
The area was filled with their groans. There were too many injured and the treatment seemed like it would go well into the night, the more helpers there were, the better.
However, Regis and the others had a different role to fulfil.
Fort Volks, Commander office——
The plain white walls and black pillars in the room caused it to feel rather dull. Not much had changed since it was captured from the Varden Duchy.
After Belgaria’s Imperial Army occupied the fort, vases were placed in the corners of the room were decorated with fresh flowers.
However, the scent of the roses was covered by the stench of blood.
Up til now, they were busy helping out with medical treatment, hence explaining the bloodstains on their clothes.
In the middle of the room was a long table.
Seated at the innermost position, the commander— Altina sighed.
“For this to actually happen… …”
Opposite of her was Jerome, who leaned his large and heavy body on the chair, threatening to bend it.
Apparently, only an experienced general was able to remain this calm. He did not even bother to wipe the bloodstains off his uniform.
“Hmph… … Do all of you need to be so depressed over some recruits dying?”
“This isn’t about the numbers, being recruits or veterans. We lost our comrades alright?”
“Will the sigh of the princess bring back the dead? Leave that to their families. Gather your spirit and do your role if you wish to prevent more casualties.”
“Uh… …Even knowing that, I… …”
For Altina who was only fourteen, it was necessary to gather her thoughts after such a tragedy had happened.
Jerome frowned and his sight shifted to the side.
“You too, Regis! How long are you going to show that pale face?!”
“A,ah… … Sorry… …”
Even Regis had participated in a war before and seen numerous injured soldiers.
However, it was his first time encountering unexpected casualties after his appointment as a strategist.
Out of all the possibilities, did he make the most appropriate decision? The dead seemed to be accusing him like this, making it hard for him to breathe.
A firm hand rested upon his shoulder.
It belongs to Evrard who was sitting beside him.
He was a knight that was over forty years of age. His features were his thick beard and bald head. With his large build, he looked just like a bear.
Before, he used to be a captain of a knight order. Now he was the captain responsible for the defense of the fort.
“Sir Regis, this is a battlefield and we are soldiers. Everyone is prepared to die, so please do not carry too much of a burden alone.”
“... … Thank you… … I’m fine.”
I can’t afford not to be fine.
If I don’t do it, there will be more death. I can’t just lower my head and stare at the grains on the table.
Regis regulated his breathing.
He surveyed the Commander’s office.
Altina was sitting to the left of Regis.
The energetic girl with a beauty appearance that could shame the palace’s beauties, was wearing a pained expression.
Beside her was her bodyguard, Eric. Being a young knight at the age of sixteen, he lacked battle experience and was as pale as Regis when he saw the large number of casualties.
Eddie and Prince Auguste were sitting to the left of them.
Eddie was not just a renowned swordsman, but also the current head of Balzac.
“Although I hate killing, I’m proficient in close combat. Do despatch me to fight in places you deem fit.”
Even in Belgaria, where there were many powerful veterans, his swordsmanship was outstanding.
His words made Regis relax a little.
The First Prince Auguste, for a certain reason, gave up his inheritance rights before the king. Hence, he was no longer a candidate to take up the throne.
That was the story made known to the public.
In actuality, Auguste’s real identity was his sister, Princess Felicia.
In this fort, only the seven people currently in the commander’s office and two maids knew about this.
If Auguste’s real identity was leaked, it would have an opposite effect when she expressed support for Altina. In addition, she would also be charged for lying to the king.
To hide her identity Felicia, continued to act as Auguste and used his status to stay here as a guest.
She had a gloomy expression and looked quite depressed. Usually she was not lively, but now she was even more dispirited.
“... … Is my mother… … fine?”
Eddie consoled her.
“She will be fine. The Trouin Family not only have their army, the Second Imperial Army is there too.”
Felicia’s father was the emperor, while her mother was the second consort, Catherine, who hailed from the Trouin Family.
Trouin’s territory was located in the west of the empire, which happened to be the area which was attacked by the enemy.
According to the intelligence Regis had,
On the 23rd morning, seven days ago, on the west coast, the port city of Chaineboule came under attack and had fallen.
The enemy was a High Britannian steamship.
Equipped with the most advanced cannons, the larger version of the Type 41 Elswick Cannon had increased firepower and range.
Meanwhile, Belgaria only had sailboats.
Hence, the naval battle was hopeless for Belgaria.
The vanguard of ten thousand had already landed. There should be more of them by now.
On the afternoon of 23th April, the Second Imperial Army marched to intercept the invaders.
Seven days had past, the battle should have concluded.
It would be nice if they were repelled.
According to Regis’ speculation, it was likely that Belgaria lost terribly.
The Second Imperial Army was not prepared to fight off a foreign invasion. Their march towards the west was a political move and their numbers did not even reach ten thousand.
On the other hand, the High Britannian Army had prepared the newest model of guns and cannons. There were also weapons and protective gears made from their newly developed metal.
Belgaria’s soldiers were veterans, but those battles used bows and spears
While the enemy specifically prepared the latest type of guns.
Regis cut of his train of thoughts.
“Other than the Second Imperial Army in the west, the Empire will definitely send reinforcements. Since the request for reinforcements has reached the northern borders, those armies who are closer should have reached the west.”
He could only console her.
“I see… …”
In Belgaria, the military power was in the emperor’s hand.
However, the emperor, Liam, was already old and no longer able to take to the frontlines. Hence, the second prince Latreille commanded the Belgaria’s military in his stead.
And Latreille’s command was ‘send half of your force to the west as reserves and be on standby.
Regis reconsidered the situation.
“Although Belgaria waged wars in many directions, about half of them were small skirmishes centered around strategic locations… … However, High Britannia sent a powerful force and invaded on a grand scale. At the very least, General Latreille recognised that their intent was to conquer our lands. I agree with him as well.”
Altina agreed by nodding her head.
The others were quietly listening to Regis’ analysis.
“There is quite some distance between the western region and Fort Volks. Even if we dispatched our army, I do not know whether we would make it on time. Which was why General Latreille ordered our force to act as reserves. From the military viewpoint, this is not an urgent issue…”
Regis replied to Altina who tilted her head.
“But from a political standpoint, this is important and there is a need to act urgently. This is because Your Highness and Prince Latreille are fighting over the inheritance rights.”
“So that’s it. In other words, whoever fares better against High Britannia, the more support they will have?”
“Simply put, you are correct. Although I do not know whether half of the border regiment will be able to change the tide of war… … We must avoid an embarrassing situation in which we don’t participate in the war.”
Altina showed an unhappy look.
“I also agree that we should move quickly, but not because of political reasons! I wish to genuinely lend a helping hand when my allies desperately need it.”
“That’s true… …”
Altina was too kind and there were times when she was stubborn like a child. That was precisely why Regis wanted to make her the ruler.
“In any case, that concludes the situation regarding High Britannia in the west… … Next is about the Army of the Grand Duchy of Varden that is approaching this fort. We cannot send any forces to the west without dealing with this first.”
“The soldiers will not be able to concentrate if they have to worry about their back while on the move.”
Not just Altina, Jerome raised his opinion
“How can we just let them go after getting attacked! Those imbeciles who dare to challenge us, I will let them regret it in hell!”
Although he was usually unrefined with his choice of words, it was rare to see him showing his anger.
On the surface, he did not seem to care about the recruits, but deep down, he was thinking about his subordinates and was unable to suppress his anger.
Regis picked several stratagems from the books he read before. Next was the gathering of information before finalizing the plan.
As there was a war, the Commander’s office door was open.
A soldier came running to the door and saluted them by raising his right hand to his left chest before reporting loudly.
“Report! The enemy is approaching from the zone B4! Three thousand infantry!”
“That route, is it… … Are they equipped with the new guns and cannons?”
“Not all of the enemy, only some of them are equipped with the new weapons.”
After that, two more soldiers came running.
“Enemy spotted at zone B3! Two thousand infantry!”
“Report! Two thousand enemy infantry at zone G5! They brought along their cannons!”
The scouts that were sent out for reconnaisse came back reporting one after another. Hearing these, Regis placed the yellow flags which represented the enemy on the map.
Altina’s expression was dark.
“That is a lot of them, moreover, they are trying to surround us?”
“Looks like they placed all the mercenaries together. That is probably why most of them didn’t carry the new firearms. After all, mercenaries wouldn’t use a weapon they are not familiar with.”
“However, experienced mercenaries are also powerful.”
“Even so, they would quickly withdraw when they are at a disadvantage. It’s alright, the battle will end tonight.”
“It is better to end it quickly, but really…? Ah!!”
Altina had an expression of unease for a moment, but looked over with a serious face after shaking her head.
“I believe in Regis! Please tell us. How we should proceed?”
Jerome stood up.
“Let me hear your plan, Regis! I will say it up front, I do not want any flaws in it. I want them beaten to the point they would think twice about attacking!”
Evrard puffed his chest up.
“It is for this day that we trained our soldiers. Please command us!”
“I will definitely protect Her Highness!”
Eric also stood out.
Eddie and Felicia who were sitting at the side were also looking at Regis.
Being looked by them makes me want to retreat without hesitation. It can’t be help, I don’t really have the confidence.
Even so, the intelligence that will decide the battle has been obtained.
Regis pointed at the map which was on the table.
“The enemy believe that they can attack the fort with the new cannons, which is why they brought them along.”
Altina raised her hand.
“Regis, there are also new cannons in this fort…”
“Although it could be a little technical, Fort Volk’s cannons are Type 38 Elswick Cannon, while the cannons the enemy brought seems to be new Type 41. Be it range or power, those are better.”
“In that case, wouldn’t the enemy have the advantage?”
“That is so in terms of range and power… … However, those cannons should have flaws too.”
Altina had a puzzled look.
That goes the same for the others. After all, the performance were inferior, thus they were puzzled by what he meant.
Regis continued explaining.
“While the Type 41 is stronger, it was originally used in steamships. The mobility will slow down when travelling on land. From the investigation reports, the Varden Duchy will be setting up their formation in front of the fort tonight…We still have some time to prepare, and that is an advantage for us… Furthermore, the enemy is likely to rely on the cannons to attack, if this advantage was gone, I believe they will lose their morale and retreat.”
“I understand that we have the advantage because of their slow movement speed… … But isn’t their cannon better? What shall we do?”
The furrowed brow of Altina seemed to have the words ‘I don’t understand’ written there. She might be making such a face, but there wasn’t any gloom in her beautiful features and instead felt really cute.
Jerome knocked on the table.
“Trickery again! It is likely that the enemy will be using the high performance cannons. However, you want to overcome their advantage… What are you planning?!”
“A plan for a night battle, I already informed those on duty to prepare. Sir Jerome is to lead the troops in pursuit...”
Altina suddenly brought her face closer to Regis.
“I'll go too!”
“Rejected, it is better for Your Highness to stay in the fort…”
“People will lose confidence in me if I did such cowardly acts. I do not wish to be the kind of commander who hides in a hole!”
What she said was true. Most of the soldiers here were experiencing their first war.
They did not witness the duel between Jerome and Altina.
Even if the regulars were spreading the words, were the recruits to personally see Jerome during battle, then they would lean towards him.
It would be hard to maintain their organization if the commander’s influence declines.
“Even so… It’s a night battle.”
“There is no meaning in me going, when there is no danger, Regis!”
“Well… … It can’t be helped. Regarding what you said… No, I shall respect your decision, Your Highness.”
Regis had been calling her Altina, just like a friend, because she wished for it. Though most of the people here already knew that...
Knights on their prime like Evrard respect Altina and called her a goddess.
It was true that Altina was indeed beautiful. Moreover, her slender white arms had unbelievable strength. Any respectable soldier seeing the young and beautiful princess swinging her giant sword would be mystified, but not find it unbelievable.
In front of devotees like Evrard, calling the princess by her nickname and not using honorifics was a big problem.
More importantly, they do not know when the scouts will report back. If the soldiers were to misunderstand their relation, it would affect their morale. After all, Regis was a commoner despite being the strategist, while Altina was an imperial princess.
“Understood, Your Highness… … Then, this will be the formation.”
Regis placed a red flag onto the map.
It was the area outside of Fort Volks.
The plan was for them to leave the safe impregnable fortress in order to risk a swift and dangerous battle.
“Is it really fine, Your Highness?”
Altina clenched her fist.
“We are moving! We will be breaking through the Duchy’s army tonight, after which we will head west!”
It was a moonless night.
The clattering of the armours of the Army of Varden’s Grand Duchy’s could be heard from afar.
They were positioning themselves at the edge of the forest which was outside the range of Fort Volks’ cannons.
It was the same position Regis took when they took down the fort two months ago.
However, Regis only had a force of two thousand, while the cannons were the smaller and older model.
Based on the reports, the Varden Duchy have a force of twenty thousand and prepared twenty Type 41 Elswick Cannons.
Just the main force right in front of them numbered four thousand.
It was a grand army.
About 10 Ar (715m) away from the Duchy’s army.
Regis and the rest were hiding in the forest.
They were only a force of two hundred.
If they were spotted, they would be surrounded and destroyed.
That might be so, but the plan would be compromised if soldiers setting up the ambush were discovered. Increasing the number of soldiers would only increase the risk. Hence, a small number was best suited for this.
Even when Regis learnt all that from books he read…He still felt fear creeping in his skin.
It was as if a knife was pressing on his neck.
It was cold enough to freeze his body, but his palms were sweating.
Even though it was April, it was still cold in the night as they were in a northern country. Luckily, there was no wind blowing in the forest.
From the side, Altina closed her eyes and was patiently waiting for the signal.
Hanging on her waist was Grand Tonnerre Quatre which was larger than her. It was one of the seven treasure swords of the founding emperor, L’Empereur Flamme. It was 26 Pa(192cm) long and the silver blade was kept within the sheath.
The battle have yet to start.
Beside her was Eric, who have blended into the darkness and one could barely see his silhouette.
It was that dark during the moonless night.
Eddie also joined the battle as a bodyguard. If the battle would go as planned, he would not get his turn to perform...
Naturally, Felicia was in the fortress.
After all, she could not fight. Among the royalties, be it Altina, Latreille or Bastian, they all have extraordinary strength. However, Felicia was not gifted with such powers and was no different from any other girls.
Evrard was commanding the fortress defense corps. Although he was stationed in a safer location, he still played an important role in this battle.
Jerome who was leading five hundred soldiers was hidden closest to the enemy. Despite the small number, they were all elites.
The troop closest to the enemy plays the most crucial role. They were close enough to even hear the snoring of the enemy.
If they were discovered, the plan would fail.
As if they were walking on a tightrope.
They were worried about the enemy hearing their heartbeat and breathing
It has yet to begin?
Regis took out a pocket watch.
Although it was a moonless night, the stars allowed one to see things on their hand.
Regis used the faint lighting that was partially blocked by the leaves to look at the watch.
A sound broke the silent night.
Fort Volks, which was built upon a mine, began firing their cannons through the cannon opening.
This alerted the enemy who were setting up their formation.
Half of them were surprised, while the other were mocking their foes.
They cannot hit us.
The cannons in Fort Volks were once theirs were the old model. They understood the performance of the cannons very well.
At this distance, they would not be hit no matter how many times they fired. At best, the cannon could hit the area before the Varden Duchy’s main forces. That should be the case.
Regis then confirmed his victory in the darkness.
The sounds of explosion rang.
It did not come from the centre but from the forest.
It came from the back of the Varden’s Grand Duchy’s main force.
Pillars of fire could be seen.
Amongst the enemy troops, there definitely were not many who understood what happened right away.
Fort Volks’ cannons definitely could not hit the forest.
However, the pillars of fire were behind them.
The sound of cannons firing could still be heard from the fort.
This time, the explosion occurred at the right side of their formation.
Groans and wailing could be heard.
It was in Germanian.
“Commander, it’s the cannons! The cannons from the fort hit us!”
“Impossible! This shouldn’t be happening, we are outside the range of Type 38 Cannons!”
Another explosion occurred behind them once more. This time, it was even closer to them.
In this situation, the experienced mercenaries would no longer be waiting for any order to come.
Since they were already within the range of the cannons, their options were to either retreat or attack. Since there was no order to attack, the mercenaries began withdrawing.
Some mercenaries began escaping from the crescent moon formation of their units.
The Varden’s commander was probably thinking ‘Attack from such range was impossible.’
Regis, who was not a god, did not know what was the opponent thinking. However, it was alright, as the commander’s intelligence means nothing to the soldiers who were in fear.
No matter how excellent the commander was, it would be hard for him to control the army once there were deserters.
The cannons that should not hit them had struck them. In this situation, they should began retreating out of the cannons’ range. That was a standard procedure.
They should escape and hide in the forest.
In such a situation, the enemy commander had no choice but to issue a retreat as to prevent the army from scattering.
“Retreat! Take cover in the forest!”
“Understood!! All units, to the forest…!!”
The faithful regular soldiers who awaited for the commander to issue a command also began to run towards the forest as though some restriction was lifted.
The firing of the cannons from Fort Volks had gotten more intense.
The area outside the forest was getting bombarded.
The soldiers could not help but think about escaping to somewhere further away from there.
Black beasts were hiding in the direction they were running to.
The ferocious beasts were unleashed at that moment.
Commanding five hundred elites, Jerome let loose a warcry and drew his sword out.
Even if the enemy was four thousand, they were frantically escaping in the wild and were unorganised. Furthermore, the enemy did not even think that the Empire would set up an ambush in the forest.
It was a one-sided battle.
Jerome and the Beilschmidt Border Regiment soldiers under his command had white cloths tied to their right sword arm. This was so that the soldiers could see his own raised hand before slashing down the sword.
They also used whistles to confirm each other's positions.
Thanks to that, the empire soldiers could recognise one another in the dark, thus preventing friendly-fire and maintain teamwork.
In contrast, the Varden’s Army only considered a long term siege battle. Hence, they were unprepared for a night battle.
To call the enemy commander incompetent was too harsh. Having hired expensive mercenaries, preparing for a night battle that had a low probability of happening was unrealistic.
The pillars of fire brightened up the forest.
The enemy also began to attack back since they could now see, however more than half have already began running in other directions.
It was natural as they were ambushed at a place where commands were hard to reach. They would lose, even their chance to escape if they continue to remain there.
Altina who was still nervous said,
“Up till now, the plan seems successful, Regis.”
“Yeah… The sound and flashes of cannons firing blanks were in sync with the explosions set off by our engineers near the enemy formation.”
“Even so, it’s no wonder that they thought the cannons hit them.”
“If it wasn’t night time, they should have discovered the boxes of gunpowder used for this trick…”
Scouts came to the headquarters where Regis was at.
“Varden’s main force is now heading northwest!”
“Hmm, just like what the books said… It would be hard to predict their movement if they were led by a commander. However, within such chaos, they will make similar judgement and move without thinking much.”
Under their own judgement, the soldiers who were escaping, would only run towards the Grand Duchy of Varden. This was human psychology. Once a human was in danger, most of them would run towards their home or escape together with others.
Regis had already deployed an ambushing unit where the enemy was heading.
The enemy would be gradually cut down and captured under the successive attacks.
To the Varden’s Grand Duchy Army, the scene might look like them being engulfed by the Belgarian imperial soldiers.
The outcome was gradually determined.
To Regis, it was fine to let those normal soldiers escape.
However, Beilschmidt Border Regiment had to dispatch half of their force towards the west. Be it Altina or Jerome, both had to leave for the expedition.
The fort’s defence would be weakened.
If they wanted to temporarily prevent the Grand Duchy of Varden from regaining their strength
to attack, then they had to achieve a great victory here.
While it was understandable, Regis still sighed.
“Ha… … No matter what, I am not used to pursuing the enemy.”
“Even for me, I’m not fond of chasing after the enemy. That said, aren’t things a little too successful?”
Despite knowing there was an ambush ahead, there were some brave souls that escaped towards the opposite directions from the main group. Hence, the main unit was also engaged in battle, but not to the point where Altina had to join in.
It seemed that it was settled by Eddie’s unit who was responsible for the front.
“Well … Isn’t that good? Even if we had a night battle in the forest, we won’t be able to see the other soldiers.”
“Regis? Could it be that… You already knew this would have happened,hence setting up this formation?”
“Isn’t it common sense not to let the king enter the forefront of the battle?”
Regis replied softly such that the guards around could not hear it.
Altina had a dissatisfied look.
“I got deceived by Regis again!”
“Aren’t we deployed outside the fortress? Also, do not let your guard down, as it is not totally safe here.”
Altina opened her eyes
She drew the large sword which was hanging at her waist.
As the new scabbard could be opened from the middle, not much effort was required to draw the sword out.
The blade was drawn out.
Altina then thrust the sword.
Regis was about to be executed—— Not.
The sword that was thrusted past by Regis’ nose and struck something in the darkness.
Sound of metal colliding could be heard.
Something had fallen near Regis’ legs.
It was an arrow.
Phew~ Sound of whistling could be heard, which was out of place in a bloody battlefield.
It came from the top of a tree.
Like a monkey, someone came down by slipping from branches to branches.
Was it a child? The small body made people have such thoughts.
A voice belonging to a female said,
“Not bad! I can’t believe that you actually blocked the arrow which came so suddenly in the darkness.”
It was in Germanian.
Altina readied her posture and replied in the language of Belgaria
“It is not that sudden if it came from the front! Furthermore, one would get used to the darkness after staying here for so long.”
Regis was still not used to the darkness despite staying here for so long. Neither did he realised an arrow was flying towards him.
Either Altina was too outstanding or Regis was just useless. Those were the only two possible answer.
The enemy slowly emerged from the shadow of the tree.
The starlight shone upon her.
She was holding a small crossbow with a quiver on her back.
Apparently, the enemy was a young girl.
Even so, the girl had a bold attitude.
Even when the heavy infantry who were protecting Altina drew their swords, her expression did not change.
“Ahahaha! Belgaria’s princess sure is interesting!”
“Even though you are at the centre of the enemy formation, you are still so calm?”
“Of course! After all, I won’t lose.”
The girl flicked her braided hair back and smiled happily. She was not putting on a facade, she was just that confident.
There was a silver accessory on her.
Under the starlight, one could vaguely see the accessory, it was an upside down fox..
Regis then remembered something he read from the past.
“Could it be that she is from the mercenary group, Renard Pendu?”
“Oh?” After saying that, the girl shifted her sight to Regis.
“You are quite knowledgeable. Or could it be that we are quite famous?”
“Who are they?!”
It seemed that Altina did not know who they were, which was not surprising.
“It’s a mercenary group that accomplished great war merits in the Germania Federation. It was said that they were participating in the northern civil war right now…”
“It’s not that we pulled out of the civil war. It’s just that the rewards here is higher due to the stalemate. Thanks to you capturing the fort, our work have increased. In any case, I would have earn lots of money by killing you, Your Highness.”
“Stupid! Isn’t that like selling the bear’s skin before killing it?”
“Ahahaha! My brother often said ‘Do not celebrate what a great day it is before the day ends’. Are you my brother or what?”
“I don’t even know your brother!”
“My brother, Gilbert, is really handsome!”
In the book that Regis read, Gilbert was also quite famous.
Renard Pendu’s leader, Gilbert Schweinzeberg was also known as King of Mercenary.
It was said that be it a duel or group battle, he had never lost. He was even good in negotiating.
He seemed to be one-eyed and used a trident
“That’s your brother? In other words, you are the sister, Jessica?”
“Aa, that’s my elder sister. I’m the second sister, Franziska. That reminds me, you seems to know me quite well. Perhaps you are my fan? Do you want a handshake? Ahaha!”
While laughing, she reloaded the crossbow.
The crossbow was now ready to fire.
The crossbow that Franziska used was the pull lever type, rather than the power, the main point was its ability to shoot consecutively.
The arrows used were short too.
Before the arrows were shot, Altina dashed forward.
“What can a crossbow do at this distance!”
Even though some of the guards were heavy infantry, Altina ignored them and dashed forward.
Perhaps there is a need to talk to her about the rationale of stationing guards.
While Altina thrust her sword.
“There are enemies on the tree!”
One should consider that there were still others when only Franziska came down from the tree. Hence, one should take into account that possibility when thinking.
As expected, an arrow came flying from the tree.
Altina forcefully pulled her sword back and used it as a shield to block the arrow.
Soon after that, arrows also flew towards Regis.
Just when he was about to get shot, Eric came with a large shield and protected Regis.
“Are you alright, Sir Regis?!”
“I’m fine, Eric. I will leave the princess to you too!”
A few heavy infantry guards were injured by the arrows.
In the darkness, it was difficult to block such long-distance attack. However, none of them abandoned the commander to take cover.
“To battle! Protect Her Highness! Let them witness the Imperial soldiers’ prowess!”
Altina who was unaware of the surrounding after attacking swung her sword down as to slash Franziska.
Franziska easily dodged it.
She was that agile.
Although Altina’s sword seemed slow, one requires large movement to actually dodge it. It was not something that could be easily avoided.
Moreover, they were in a dark forest..
“This sure is tough! It seems that coming here is the right choice. Not only did I met a fun opponent, there is also a reward for killing the Belgaria’s princess!”
“It’s not that easy!”
Someone shouted while waving his sword.
Eric thrust his sword towards the area in which Franziska retreated.
“What?! Don’t be a hindrance!”
Franziska avoided the attack by lowering her body mere inches from the ground.
At the same time, she fired the arrow.
Eric stopped his movement instantly.
The cold sweat that Regis hate started dripping down his back.
Altina turned her head and shouted the knight’s name.
However, Eric did not reply.
He had fallen to the ground.
“Is there anyone there?! Come quickly!”
Regis shouted for help.
The soldiers wanted to help were stopped by the arrows that were coming from the tree. Even the area near Regis was shot.
Regis quickly went and hide under a tree as he realised he would only cause more trouble by coming out.
As expected of a famous mercenary group, to be able to shoot with just the starlight and sound of the enemy. As expected of a famous mercenary group, they recruited really capable members
Belgaria’s soldiers were not that weak to be suppressed by the shooting for long. Countless arrows were fired at the tree which they deemed the enemy was.
Screams could be heard.
Following that, three people fell to the ground.
They could not confirm whether all the enemy was shot down as nothing could be seen, but the allied soldiers could tend to Eric.
Please stay alive, Eric — Regis could only pray.
Altina was still fighting against Franziska.
As both of them were close together, no one dared to fire their guns and arrows.
In addition, those who dare to approach might be cut by Altina’s large sword.
“How dare you!!!”
Franziska lowered herself and avoided the strike.
Normally, one could not counterattack in this posture and could only defend. However, her weapon was a crossbow.
Just by pulling the trigger, one can attack faster than a knight.
“I will be taking the bear’s skin!”
Like a huge needle, the arrow was fired.
The arrow approached Altina’s right eye.
Her beautiful crimson hair was swaying in the forest.
Altina turned her head to the side and avoided the arrow right beside her cheek.
“This time for sure!!”
However, one cannot use the crossbow without reloading no matter how it was designed to shoot continuously.
Franziska then retreated.
Knowing that the enemy was not counterattacking, Altina swung her large sword down as she pressed forward.
The strike was curved.
And was targeted at Franziska’s waist.
Just before she was hit, Franziska jumped.
Franziska’s left hand was holding onto the crossbow while she used her right hand to grab onto a tree branch.
As if a bird escaped into the sky, she hang onto the tree as to avoid the assault.
The fierce strike hit the tree trunk.
Altina looked stunned.
The impact from hitting the tree trunk hurt her hands, and the sword was stuck in the tree.
Franziska turned her body that was hanging in the air by using only her right hand. At the same time, the lever was pulled. Once she landed, she took arrows from the quiver and reloaded the crossbow.
“Ahaha! Isn’t today a day that will decide my bright future!”
Altina tried to pull the sword out.
She managed to pull out the sword and made a large crack in the tree.
A clattering sound could heard.
It was a strange sound.
Altina thought that it was the tree that broke, but that was not the case.
The hilt of her Grand Tonnerre Quatre was bent.
The night sky prevented her to see it clearly, but it was obvious that the sword was bent in a weird angle. Altina stabbed the sword into the ground.
The sword was broken?!
Altina widen her eyes as she said it weakly.
Franziska took that opportunity to fire her arrows.
Seeing that, Regis thought his heart was going to stop.
A man in black clothes managed to prevent a hopeless situation.
Eddie Fabio de Balzac.
He had wide shoulders and a tattered cloak was draped over his black military uniform.
The weapon that blocked the incoming arrow was the Defendre Sept. It was a wide blade with a comb-shaped notch engraved on its back.
“Hey, Altina, are you fooling around?”
“I,I’m not fooling around!”
“Then, is it that you lack killing intent?”
As they were known each other since young, they were not that formal with each other.
Eddie readied his sword while facing the opponent as to protect Altina.
Although Franziska had reloaded her weapon, she did not act rashly as she realised that the person before her was someone with considerable power.
“You… … Who are you?!”
“I’m from the Balzac house. If you are a mercenary, you should have heard of my name before.”
“Hmm, so you are the ‘Lazy Duke’?”
“Looks like there are bad rumours about me.”
Despite his excellent swordsmanship, he never injured his opponent on the battleground before. This was why he had such a infamous title.
“What? Aren’t you inviting others to laugh at you just because you hate fighting?”
“Well, I suppose you’re right… … Even so, it’s a little wrong.”
“As for me, I have to kill the princess over there, so get out of my way!”
Franziska shortened the distance between them.
It was unexpected for the opponent to shorten the distance when her choice of weapon was capable of long distance attack.
Eddie swung his sword horizontally.
Reacting to this, she bent down.
Her target was the person behind Eddie.
She aimed her crossbow at Altina who was holding the broken sword. Without her sword, Altina could not even defend.
“This time for sure, my bear skin!”
Altina was stunned.
The enemy pulled the trigger, producing a metallic sound.
However, the arrow did not shoot out.
“What’s going on?!”
Franziska looked at her hand and was shocked.
Her crossbow string was slashed.
The only time she could think of where this might have happened was the clash earlier.
Franziska glared at Eddie after distancing herself.
“Pardon me, but as the crossbow was too dangerous, can you allow me to destroy that?”
“How can that be! Even though you are called the Lazy Duke… … Exactly what is going on?!”
“Looks like it’s a misunderstanding… … The reason why I did not injured anyone was not because I’m afraid of a fight. It’s just that I dislike killing my opponent.”
“W,what that is that suppose to mean?! Don’t joke with me!”
Franziska’s face redden from rage as she grinded her teeth.
Seeing that the enemy lost her weapon, the heavy infantry rushed over.
“Surround her! Do not let her escape!”
“Schisse(shit)! These damn little shits!”
Franziska pushed off the ground.
The infantry slowly closed in and swung their sword. However, it looked like them coordinating with her sword dance, missing her.
Without a sword or a shield, she could only dodge with a crossbow in hand. This was not something an ordinary person could do.
If it was daytime, they could use guns to fire upon her back. In fact, they could even do it at night.
Slipping past the heavy infantry encirclement, Franziska entered into the darkness and disappeared.
Out of frustration, arrows were let loose. However, what could be heard was her angry voice.
“Next time, I will kill you for sure, Your Highness! You too, Duke Balzac!”
What resounded in the forest sounds like a witch’s curse.
Eddie kept his sword back into the scabbard.
“If possible, I do not want to meet her again.”
Regis ordered the troops to move as their location was discovered.
After that, he went to find Eric who was undergoing treatment.
Fort Volk, Infirmary.
Wearing a white outfit with glasses, coupled with her neat short hair. She was one of the rare female military doctor within the empire.
“This is going to leave a scar.”
“... I’m… still alive.”
Eric who was lying on the bed mumbled while staring at the ceiling.
His surrounding was separated by white curtains.
This was thanks to the female doctor. Eric was just a fifth grade combat officer, just a noncommissioned officer. Originally, he should be lying on a cloth on the floor and receive treatment at the field hospital.
His left shoulder was bandaged firmly, though he could move his elbow.
Gradually, he could feel his fingers getting numbed.
At that time, he raised his shield too late, causing the arrow to bypass his defense.
The result was his left shoulder getting shot.
If the arrow was a little more to the right, it would be the heart.
The female doctor had gone on to treat the other patients.
“It’s because we obtained victory. You sure are lucky. If it’s a defeat, it might delay your treatment and you might die.”
“... So we won… … What about Her Highness?”
“Although she is a little depressed, she only had some bruises.”
“Is that so… That’s great… Really…”
Eric sighed in relief.
As a guard, this was more important than anything else.
“Not just Sir Evrard, even Her Highness and Sir Regis were worried about you and visited you. As they might hear that thing about your body, I chased them out before treating you. Since you are awake, do you have anything to say to them?”
“... There is no need… … They have to set off towards the west in the morning. Looks like I can’t go… … As such, they do not need waste their precious time on a useless person like me…”
“Hey! something like useless is... Well, I guess that is fine too.”
The female doctor put aside the conversation and proceeded to the other patients.
Eric used his right hand to cover his eyes.
At the same time, he grinded his teeth.
Even his head was bandaged.
His eyes felt painful, but they were heating up for another reason.
Although the female doctor heard it, she pretended that she did not notice it and continue treating others.
After some time,
“Hm, Isn’t this Sir Regis?”
The female doctor’s voice could be heard beyond the curtains.
Regis’ voice could also be heard.
“It’s been tough on you, good job.”
Eric’s body went stiff.
As a bodyguard, he should be disappointed in me for not even capable of being Her Highness’ shield— Was what Eric thought. He even hesitated to show his face to Regis.
Eric stayed still under the blanket.
The female doctor asked a question.
“Is there anything important, Sir Regis?”
“As the sky is going to brighten soon, I’m thinking of setting off.”
“Ahh, is it time for this already? I’m terribly sorry that you have and fetch me personally. Is it really fine for you not to sleep?”
“Aside from Her Highness and Sir Jerome, it should be fine regarding the soldiers as those who participated in the night battle are not involved in the expedition. I am very sorry that you could not get any sleep.”
“You should worry more about yourself, Sir Regis. After all, I can sleep on the carriage.”
“Haha… I’m also on the carriage.”
“Now you mention it, that is true.”
Eric gulped as his name was mentioned.
After a moment of silence, the female doctor replied that Eric was still asleep.
“Is that so…”
“You can’t bring him along. Just healing the wound require a month while recovering his strength will required two.”
“Ahhh, I understand. It’s just that, I wanted to express my gratitude.”
“Gratitude, is it? For charging towards the enemy and got shot— Not these words, right?”
“Before he was injured, Eric protected me. If not for him, the one lying on the bed could be me…”
“I see. As Sir Regis did not wear any armour, you could be lying inside a coffin.”
“Well, that is possible too.”
“Though, it could lighten my workload.”
“Ha,haha… … Although it might be bad saying this, but it is better than increasing the work for priests…”
“How about wearing light armour?”
“That is not an option either. If a strategist wore armour, won’t that mean that the strategist is worried that the enemy might attack the main formation…? It looks as if the strategist have no confidence in their own plans.”
“Is that really the case?”
“... … Actually, I can’t stand up after wearing an armour.”
“Haha… That… In any case, I wanted to thanks Eric, but I don't want to wake him up. Though, is it fine to leave a letter here?”
“How about doing so after you come back? I feel that it is best saying this face to face.”
“I see… Let's go with that then. In that case, doctor, please head towards the hall at the first floor after you are done preparing.”
After saying goodbye, Regis’ footstep gradually got softer.
The female doctor drew open the curtain.
“Well, you saw the person you wanted to meet, so don’t be too depressed.”
“... ...Yes… I won’t.”
“I have to follow Her Highness. I will leave the rest to my assistant. You have to listen to him and recover before Sir Regis return.”
Her gentle tone was even rare to the female doctor herself.
Eric withheld his tears and said.
“... ...Nn… I … want to… become stronger… and properly fulfill my duty…”
The female doctor did not say anything and just messed with his hair.
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