Mercenary King Gilbert
Editor: Darkdhaos, AMetroid, Ice Phantom
Imperial Year 851, 4th June, Morning.
The sound of the horse hooves sounded out on the grass plain.
The wheels turned loudly.
The blacksmith Enzo sat cross legged on the luggage platform. Before him was a coffin like wooden crate.
Inside it was the Grand Tonnerre Quatre, entrusted to him by Princess Argentina.
Sitting besides Enzo on the bumpy carriage was his disciple Lionel who was making a zipper.
He first secured the material used for the zipper, hammered it, then carved out the shape of the zipper with a chisel.
The old man in brown robes they met in the town earlier was sleeping soundly because of the fatigue of his journey.
Enzo opened the curtain covering the carriage and looked outside.
It was completely white outside.
The sun should have risen, but they couldn’t see far at all.
But they finally met up with the horseman who visited him earlier.
The weather was foggy.
He turned back to the horseman, who seemed to be smiling gently. He was just a short distance away, but Enzo could only make out his vague silhouette. Dense white fog was all around him.
“Wah, it’s really foggy.”
The driver shrugged.
“I can’t tell the directions this way.”
“Hahaha… if we stay on the main road, it will be fine.I am confident in my sense of direction.”
The horseman leading the way waited on the spot marked on the map by Regis, his mission was to escort Enzo to the army base camp.
If the base camp changed location, there would probably be a different horseman.
At this moment— The horseman muttered:
“There wasn’t any rain last night right? Fog tends to form as the wind is weak here, but there wasn’t much rain these few days.”
This seemed to have spurred Lionel’s interest, and he leaned forth.
“There are places where it is easier for fog to form?”
“Of course. This region might be hilly, but it is surrounded by mountain ranges, so there isn’t much wind. The ground is soft and doesn’t drain water easily. If it rains… Well, even if it did rain a little, it still feels weird.”
“It didn’t rain?”
“What is this? Why are there patches of wet and dry ground…”
The sound of the hooves differs because of the grounds it trotted on. The solid sound of dry ground and the cushy smack of wetlands alternate every now and then.
The wheels were turning noisily on dry soil just moments ago, but now it sounded as if it was rolling over a wet ditch.
The ground was really strange.
Lionel said cheerfully:
“It’s like someone went out of their way to spill water all over the ground!”
The driver and the horseman laughed heartily and looked around them.
There wasn’t any wind, and the white fog obscured their vision. They couldn’t see much further ahead, even though there should be plenty of hills around them.
If the weather was clear, they could even see the mountain peaks in the distance.
Was an amount of water equivalent to rainfall in this region spilled onto the ground?
The horseman tilted his head.
Enzo couldn’t understand either.
“Spill water onto the ground? Who would do that, and why?”
“Erm, no, I was just kidding.”
Lionel said with a laugh.
“Hahaha...” The horseman relaxed and laughed too.
“Halt! That carriage there! Which unit are you from!?”
Someone asked in High Britanian.
The horseman who was leading the way with a smile turned pale instantly.
The figures of infantry appeared gradually in the dense fog.
Less than twenty paces away.
About ten of them.
Among them was a knight in full plate mounted on horseback.
Which meant that they were sentries.
They didn’t have any flags, but from the language they spoke, they were from the High Britannian army.
The driver asked in a trembling voice.
“... Boss, what should we do?”
Enzo was just a blacksmith, and didn’t know what he should do if he ran into an enemy sentry.
The only one they could rely on was the horseman leading the way…
And they were in despair because they knew that. The face of the horseman looked worse than the driver.
They probably couldn’t escape.
If the enemy opened fire at them, everyone would definitely die.
After defeating the horseman leading the way , the heavily armoured knight will catch up if the carriage tried to escape.
On the carriage, neither Enzo, his disciple, the driver nor the old man had any means to resist them.
— Should they surrender?
Impossible. There was no way the High Britannians would let them off after seeing the sword inside the crate.
“... I’m sorry… It’s all because of me. I chose to take the main road because of the heavy fog… We should have taken a detour.”
“... Please run away. The main base should be 5Li (22km) from here. I will hold that knight off.”
He placed his hand on the hilt of his sword.
He didn’t cower despite knowing that death was imminent, a truly brave man. It’s probably because of the burden he was shouldering.
The High Britannians closed in with their rifles.
Enzo tapped the shoulder of the driver, and whispered:
“... The moment he draws his sword, we will run.”
But the enemy stopped just a dozen step away, and aimed their rifles.
They were still some distance away, and the High Britannian heavy armoured knight shouted in Belgarian:
“Get out of the carriage right now! The driver too! Do it now or we will shoot!”
The situation changed…
They didn’t even give the horseman any chance to stall for time!
If the horseman charged out now, he would be killed immediately. And he can’t even turn and run now.
Enzo’s left hand was trembling.
It was an unredeemable error, he couldn’t even breath.
— Maybe we should charge together with the horseman, we might break through when they open fire.
At this moment, one man alighted from the side of the carriage.
His brown robes were fluttering in the wind.
The old man who was sleeping soundly in the luggage compartment was walking towards the High Britannians soldiers leisurely.
“Who can sleep well when there are talks of opening fire.”
The other party shouted in Belgarian:
“Who are you!?”
“As you can see, I am an old man. You are a big guy, you wouldn’t be scared of an old man right?”
The elderly man shrugged.
He was still five paces away from the High Britannians.
“Take your hands out of your robes!”
“Ah, no problem.”
He took off his brown robes and tossed it to the ground.
He was of medium built and hunching his back like a kid. He was undoubtedly an old man.
A piece of linen which could be found anywhere in Belgaria or in any other nation was tied around his waist. There was a plain longsword hanging there.
The heavily armoured knight demanded:
“Throw the sword away!”
“You are afraid of an old man that much? Your subordinates will laugh at you.”
“Want to eat lead!?”
Unfortunately, the opponent was cautious.
The old man shrugged, and took the sword from his waist.
“Alright, alright… This is just cheap stuff… Something I got from my great grandfather… fooled you.”
He threw the sword out.
Just where did his arm power come from, the longsword spinned into the sky.
Enzo looked at the sword.
High Britannian soldiers did the same.
The sword disappeared in the grey fog.
That was the sound of something cracking.
— What happened?
They turned their gaze back in a hurry. The old man who was five paces away just now was gone.
The sound akin to a strangled chicken was made by the heavily armoured High Britannian knight.
Behind him was the old man.
He was like a boy grabbing on to a man from behind.
He was grabbing the helmet of the knight with both hands.
The head then twisted in an impossible angle,
He broke the neck!?
After making sounds that seemed impossible for humans, the heavily armoured knight died with blood spewing from his mouth.
The old man sneered.
“... This old one’s name is Baltasar Basil De Balzac! An ancient clan who were bestowed a sword by the L’Empereur Flamme!”
The elderly man drew the sword from the waist of the dead knight.
It was a beautiful silver sword crafted from the new generation of steel.
The blade was thinner than others. Broader swords were more fashionable in Belgaria recently, while this thin sword was similar in shape to those made fifty years ago. Maybe this type of sword was the rage in High Britannia right now.
“... Hmm, not a bad sword, I will be borrowing this.”
Baltasar’s figure disappeared.
And couldn’t be found anywhere.
The old man who was supposed to be sitting on the back of the horse flew without any preparatory movement.
He suddenly approached the soldiers holding rifles, who screamed in response.
Blood splattered everywhere.
Their captain was killed, another was down before they could even say his name. He was like a ghost.
“Kill him! Shoot!”
A soldier shouted in High Britannian.
Gunshots sounded out.
But at such close distance and without any cover, the rifle didn’t have any advantage.
And their opponent was Baltasar who was moving beyond the limits of humans.
It was no longer a battle, but a one sided massacre.
They couldn’t keep up with his movement. Blood splashed wherever his sword touched, and the enemy soldiers fell.
In an instant, all of them were dead.
After glancing at the corpses on the ground, Baltasar threw the sword he took away.
The sword made from the new type of steel had many chips. It had cut through the armor of plenty of soldiers after all.
That wasn’t something that could be done with normal arm power.
He picked up the sword and robes he tossed aside before the battle.
“What are you all standing around for? More enemy will come after hearing the gunshots, get the carriage moving quick.”
The driver waved his whip in a hurry.
Enzo reached out his hand.
He grabbed the hand tightly and climbed onto the luggage compartment of the carriage.
The horseman led the way.
“We are going off the main road and taking a detour! Please follow me!”
“Please do so!”
After the driver said that, both of them sped up.
Baltasar sat down.
“Huff— huff” He panted.
“I won’t be able to handle it if there are twenty of them.”
“You are amazing, Lord Duke. We didn’t know who you were back then, please forgive us if we did anything that offended you.”
Enzo lowered his head, and Baltasar waved his hands.
“No no, I only said that to attract their attention. I am just an old man you can find anywhere.”
In the fog—
The sound of the hooves were earth shaking, threatening to break open the dense fog.
The pride of the Fourth Imperial Army, the 400 Black Knights, 500 Crescent Knights, and a hundred light armoured riders made up to a thousand men.
Around them were 10,000 infantry.
Before charging out of the fog, there was a need to confirm if the enemy had left their base.
It was impossible to move without making any sound in the fog.
It was clear from the sound.
Leaving the soldiers aside, it was impossible for the wagons to not make any sound.
The carriages creaked as they moved through the plains.
Scouts tracked the movement of the enemy in the fog, and reported it back to the cavalry.
Jerome was at the head of the unit.
Besides him was Abidal Evra.
“According to the scout reports, the enemy are holding their position!”
“Good! All units, attack!”
After receiving the orders, his knights sounded the warhorn.
Just as they planned, twenty riders formed a group, and there were four groups here. They set off one after another.
They took out the equipment that had already been tied with ropes, and threw it onto the ground.
One end of it was tied to pieces of wood.
It made clanging sounds.
This was a tool to disrupt the hearing of the opponent.
Under the cover of the sound, the cavalry surrounded the camp, making it hard for the enemy to grasp their position.
Sound of gunfire came from the fog.
It was far.
— The enemy won’t be able to see us, he told his riders earlier on.
Even the Mercenary King would find this unexpected situation hard to handle.
Jerome gave the word:
“First wave, go!”
Angry voices rang out, and the Crescent Knights started charging.
The cavalry started firing from far away.
But compared to the intimidation they did last night, they were much closer.
The High Britannians started fighting back.
But the Crescent Knights didn’t charge in a straight line, but in a curved line.
The retaliatory bullets hit empty air.
If it was night, they could see the armour’s reflection of the starlight or bonfire. The place could be lit by fire arrows, so they could still see something.
But it’s different this time.
In the dense fog, such a counterattack was nothing— Jerome suppressed the amazement in his heart.
But despite all this, the enemy stayed put with the supplies. They couldn’t leave their resources behind and run, and it was too late to load it up the carts now.
The High Britannian army couldn’t move.
And so, both sides sought each other’s position in the heavy fog as they fought, since the situation applied to both parties.
Because the enemy only dared to defend their position by using the range advantage of their weapons, the Imperials had the chance to deploy their forces in a superior position.
The enemy focused their counter attack on the Crescent Knights.
Jerome waved his lance.
“— Black Knights, charge!”
They didn’t increase their pace.
Instead, they moved quietly, controlling the pace of their warhorse, as they closed in carefully.
The gunshots were getting nearer.
If the fog dispersed at this instance—
The murderous High Britannians will point their rifles this way.
It was still too far away.
Too far for lances, but close enough for bullets to pierce the thickest armour.
The best distance for rifles.
Jerome eased his horse forward, as if he was reviewing his troops.
The other riders was breaking out in cold sweat.
Their concerns were clear.
— Isn’t the noise from the knights supporting their advance too soft?
The attack of the Crescent Knights are too shabby.
Will the enemy realize that is a diversion after failing to hit anything?
All these scenarios were scary.
This was the fear of the unknown and death.
As if they were swimming in a white world.
At this moment, they saw a black figure.
A High Britannian shield soldier— before he even processed this fact, Jerome squeezed the stomach of the horse.
The vanguard started charging like the wind.
The enemy camp that appeared in the fog was just twenty paces away.
For a warhorse charging at full stride, that distance was covered in just a blink of an eye.
The shield bearing soldier opened his eyes wide and wailed:
“It’s the enemy!!”
Jerome thrust his lance ‘Le Cheveu D’une Dame’ at the large shield.
The frame of the shield was made from metal, but most of it was wood. If thin steel was the main component, it would be useless for defense. If it was made thick enough to withstand swords and pikes, it would be too heavy to wield properly.
And wooden boards would be enough to fend off the attack of a horseman.
But the soldier defending the thrust didn’t expect the quality of the lance, the speed, and the arm power to be so different from normal troops.
The shield shattered in an instant, wood fragments flew everywhere.
The lance broke the shield and pierced the soldier’s body.
Followed by a scream accompanied with spewing blood.
“Warrghhh—! Those who want to die, come at me!”
He flung the pierced soldier aside.
The soldier landed heavily, spilling blood everywhere.
“Open fire! Rifle units! This way!”
An order that captures the style of the High Britannians perfectly. Soldiers with the guns turned their horses and aimed their rifles.
Jerome thrust his treasured lance.
He knocked aside the rifle aimed at him and opened a huge hole in the enemy soldier’s chest.
At this moment— The cavalry had broken through the makeshift fences of the camp, and defeated the enemy soldiers one after another.
The cavalry that broke through the lines were massacring the High Britannian forces.
Civilians who were tasked with transporting the goods were trembling on their carts.
If they were Belgarian citizens, they would pick up arms and fight since they were trained.
This was a huge difference between the relatively peaceful High Britannians and the Belgarian Empire that had been fighting wars continuously for a few hundred years.
Even if the soldiers with rifles could hit the knights at close range, they would be cut down before they could reload.
The knights suffered insignificant casualties before the soldiers that didn’t receive rigorous training.
The stage was set.
Abidal Evra rode over on his horse.
“The enemy is fleeing!”
The enemy soldiers threw their rifles away, stepped over the fences they built themselves and ran faster than the Imperials.
“It’s fine, leave them to the Crescent Knights and infantry.”
The High Britannians seemed to have forgotten that their enemy was an army of 16,000. Even if they were able to escape from the cavalry in the camp, they would still be surrounded by the Belgarian army.
Jerome was bothered by something else.
“Hey, did you see Gilbert?”
“The Mercenary King!? Ah, no…”
There was no sign of the Mercenary King.
The ones fighting were the regular troops of the High Britannians.
“Tch, he escaped… Maybe not…”
Jerome pulled on his reins and turned the horse around.
“Hey, Abidal Evra, take the cavalry and continue sweeping up the remnants of the enemy, try to secure the supplies. But if they resist too fiercely, burn them along with the supplies.”
“Understood! Erm, what about you, General?”
“I’m heading back to base! Hey, watch out for guys who are taking their time walking!”
After saying that to the knights around him, Jerome headed back to base.
He seemed to be faster than when he was charging at the enemy.
Jerome gritted his teeth.
“I won’t allow you to die in a place like this!”
They might need to move at a moment’s notice, so the camp equipment such as tents had already been packed.
The flag flying over the base was a simple one. Altina brought the tables and chairs out of the tent.
Regis stared at the map laid out on the table.
He moved the pieces according to the scouting reports, keeping on top of the development. Even so, they were some distance away from the frontlines, so the reports were a bit slow.
They were about 1Li (4km) away from the enemy camp.
In order to keep in contact with the scouts as fast as possible to grasp the situation of the battle, they were positioned as close to the battlefield as possible.
But if they were too close, enemy soldiers roaming in the fog might run into them.
It would be terrible if a large amount of fleeing enemy bumped into them.
Even though the Belgarian soldiers were well trained, the rifle and shield tactic of the High Britannian was a big threat.
Even the Seventh Army that was proficient in melee combat was decimated by the enemy.
And it was impossible to issue strategic commands. It was meaningless if the soldiers couldn’t receive the orders.
Even though the range of the rifles didn’t matter too much in the fog, it will still expose the headquarters to danger.
Altina held her wrist in disappointment and looked towards the fog.
When Regis suggested that Altina should guard the base, he thought that he would be rejected.
“If it is for the good of the army, I will endure it even if I have to stay in the base.”
She said with an unhappy expression, but still agreed.
Maybe Altina learned that she should respect the duty that everyone is tasked with.
If she could understand this, this would be a pleasant growth of character.
Sound of gunfire rang out from the fog occasionally.
They were actually quite a distance away from the battlefield, it was hard to hear the hooves of the horses and the angry shouts of the soldiers.
“Eh… Regis, can we move the base closer?”
“... No. At a time like this, there is a high chance of running into an enemy unit that got separated from the main forces. With most of our forces deployed out, that would be dangerous.”
“That’s true huh.”
In order to win by numbers, a large number of troops were placed around the base.
It was guarded by 5,000 infantry.
The rest of the forces were sent out to attack. 10,000 infantry surrounded the enemy base. Light armoured knights and the Crescent Knights feigning the attack numbered 600, the Black Knights had 400 riders.
They suffered losses the previous night, so the actual numbers were lower.
A messenger came before Regis and reported the situation.
“— That’s all!”
Regis moved the pieces on the map again according to the message.
The information conveyed at this moment was that the Black Knight is charging at the enemy camp.
The feign by the Crescent Knights seemed to have worked.
“... Hmmm… Please hand this to Lord Benjamin.”
Regis handed an order decree to the messenger, who placed it inside a bamboo tube on his back before setting off.
He scanned the map once again.
There weren’t any weak points.
The battle was proceeding smoothly.
“What is it, Regis?”
Altina asked as he was moaning.
“... Nothing, it’s going great.”
“Isn’t that good?”
“Eh? Could it be… It’s nothing, just that they are being too docile even though the Mercenary King is in command. I thought they might realize the intention behind the feign and launch an attack.”
“Why do you think so?”
“Even in the fog, the enemy should be able to tell the feign attack units were not attacking straight on. If so, they should be expecting an attack from another angle.”
“Wouldn’t the fog be meaningless then?”
“... No… the rifle units won’t be able to see clearly, so they are less likely to score a hit. Leaving that aside, it should be simple to deduce that the Imperial army isn’t in front of them, right?”
“Well then… The enemy will gradually draw away from the unit feigning attacks right? They are being attacked repeatedly in that place after all.”
“... So the situation I was expecting was… After attacking the Crescent Knights for a while, the High Britannians will withdraw to the supply carts and retreat.”
This was the strategy Regis came up with.
They won’t have any other choice after escaping from the fog. They can only surrender.
It would be unwise to stubbornly defend the base even though a chaotic battle was imminent.
Altina tilted her head.
“They would be able to escape if they keep running in a direction without any enemy!?”
“... It is impossible to cover such a large distance at full sprint. When they are exhausted, the infantry deployed there can wait at leisure while the enemy labors.”
Regis pointed at the red pieces on the map.
Altina was enlightened, and said:
“Ah, I see.”
“Even if they want to escape, there is a large number of enemy waiting for them… In that case, the best way to reduce casualty would be to surrender.”
“Isn’t a chaotic battle avoidable in the fog?”
“The shield and rifle tactic is heavily reliant on tight formation. In a chaotic battle, the Belgarian army would be stronger.”
“Well, that might be so, but prolonged battle will increase casualty. Even though the enemy might be considering surrender, but before the Black Knights charge in, they didn’t move at all.”
“What if the enemy base is no longer there?”
“The fog might be heavy, but it would be hard to imagine 10,000 enemy soldiers sneaking past our groups of scouts…”
He didn’t deny the possibility though.
But the fog couldn’t conceal the noise.
The sound would be loud in close proximity, and would drop drastically with distance.
It didn’t feel reliable.
Even if that was the case, it was impossible to miss the sound of many of the carriages moving.
“... Hmmm… Impossible. If they could do that, it would be a more amazing invention than the new type of rifle.”
Just by walking with another horse, the sound would be transmitted through the ground even if it wasn’t transmitted via air.
And the horses have scents, which meant that they could smell them.
Altina looked westward.
“But it was different than expected right?”
“... That’s normal. The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. After all, it’s an adversary we never fought before.”
“That’s true, it’s common to see that the person is different from the rumours.”
“Hmm… If I missed something…”
Regis looked at the map.
Altina turned her head and gasped.
“Regis! An unknown carriage is coming from behind!”
The guards noticed shortly after and panicked.
They raised their pikes and yelled: “Halt!”
It was a large carriage.
Approaching side by side were two horseman.
They were the soldiers sent to guide the way.
“It’s me! I brought Mr Blacksmith with me!”
A large bearded man with a physique similar to a bear appeared and waved his hands.
“I am a blacksmith! Here to deliver a package for Marie Quatre Argentina de Belgaria!”
Regis stood up and walked towards the carriage.
Altina followed right behind.
“Our guest is on that carriage! Clear a path!”
The soldiers in the defending camp made way slowly, like the gates of a city.
After keeping their pikes, the soldiers on guard saluted.
The carriage came slowly from the west and drove slowly into the base camp.
The rider leading the way at the very front dismounted besides Altina.
“I have brought Mr Blacksmith with me!”
“Sorry for the wait!”
One of them was the horseman waiting in the east. The other was a horseman who stayed behind at the old base when they shifted last night. His task was to lead the Blacksmith to the new base.
They completed their mission splendidly.
Altina replied “Thank you very much.” and the horsemen finally relaxed their expression.
They treated the carriage more cautiously, and stopped it further away.
On top of the hill, the flag marking the base camp was erected in the middle, while Altina’s chair and the table for battle plans were placed on the side.
A short distance away was a place for meals, equipment repairs, treatment of the wounded and for the shift workers to rest.
Five hundred infantry protected the heart of the base at all times.
On the outer layer were one thousand men formed into teams of tens.
The carriage was stopped in the middle of the rear defence units.
Under the watchful eyes of the soldiers, the Blacksmith Enzo alighted from the carriage.
He looked tired, and it was easy to tell how hard his journey was from his face and gait.
Enzo bowed respectfully.
“Your Highness, I have brought your item with me!”
“My deepest gratitude! It must be difficult to make a delivery to the dangerous battle field!”
“It is a sword after all. How can you do without it on the warfront. I am concerned about that, so…”
“Can I open it now?”
Altina walked towards the carriage.
Regis nodded at Enzo.
“I gave you much trouble… It will be great if the war ends soon…”
Enzo looked around him, and said in a volume the soldiers around him won’t be able to hear:
“... How goes the war? Will it affect Rouen city?”
“... As far as I can tell, there’s no need to worry.”
“Rouen city is very close to the capital right? I asked my wife to take the kids and seek refuge in my old hometown. It’s further to the north.”
“... Did sister seek refuge?”
“Erm, no. She insisted that ‘it will be fine to leave it to the Princess and Regis’. Well, the Empire won’t fail, so my worries are unfounded.”
“... Although we are trying to even the score after the devastating defeat earlier… Anyway, the war will end soon, it will be fine if the First Imperial Army doesn’t mess up.”
As Enzo had a worried look on his face, Regis told him not to worry.
Regis and Altina walked side by side to the carriage.
When Altina reached the carriage first, she suddenly leaped back
Someone flew out of the carriage!
The man was holding a sword.
And he slashed at Altina’s head.
No one could react in time.
But Altina responded swiftly. She drew the sword on her waist and blocked the blow.
Ding! A sharp sound echoed out.
The attack didn’t stop, and the man from the carriage started his second wave of attack.
“Hee! Hee! Hee!”
“Eh… Tch… Hah! Hyaaa!”
Altina wielded her sword nimbly, fending off the multiple attacks before countering from the side.
Her blade grazed the brown robes.
Both parties pulled away.
And closed in immediately—
Clasping their left hand.
“Isn’t this Baltasar! You actually came!”
“You are as good as ever, Argentina!”
Altina laughed happily, and the old man opposite her chuckled.
The soldiers around them were bracing their pikes moments ago, but now they looked at each other, wondering what happened.
Regis ran over.
“Could you be Duke Baltasar Basil de Balzac?”
The old man nodded loftily.
Altina held her sword with her right hand, and swung her left hand that was holding the old Duke’s hand like a kid.
“... Don’t do that… What if the guards thrust their pikes at you?”
“If I get to die by their pikes, it would be a fitting end.”
Altina nodded in agreement.
It’s troublesome even if you understand.
“... Princess, the troops are watching.”
“Ah, that’s right.”
Altina only noticed this now, and showed a serious expression as she sheathed her sword.
Baltasar kept his sword too.
Regis started explaining to the confused soldiers:
“Well… This is ex-Duke Baltasar. Everyone must have heard of him. He is the swordsmanship teacher of the Princess.”
The soldiers finally put away their pikes after understanding the situation.
House Baltasar achieved numerous merits as the right hand man of the founding Emperor, a famous noble house that was bestowed with one of the treasure swords of the Empire. It was a given that the ex-Duke was qualified to teach the Princess swordsmanship.
The surprised Enzo sighed in relief.
“Hah… We were very worried during the fight with the enemy soldiers.”
“Kakaka! If my hands turn dull, I might lose my head.”
Baltasar seemed to be saying something casual, and Altina besides him also laughed. But it wasn’t a laughing matter.
The way these two thought were a bit different from others. Or were they muscle headed?
Regis couldn’t understand.
But the mission to make the delivery to the battlefield had been completed perfectly.
“What brings you to the west, Baltasar?”
“Nothing important. I just heard that Altina was troubled by some mercenary.”
Altina smiled wryly.
“Well… Yes… To avoid a slash, my sword hit a tree, and the hilt was broken…”
“Whatever happened or broke doesn’t matter. Did you lose?”
Altina bit her lips vexingly and nodded.
Baltasar sighed deeply.
“Not good enough… The important thing isn’t the way you use your sword. No matter how strong your opponent, how dire the situation, even if they have guns or anything else, you have to win. Losing in the battlefield means death. Everything is over if you die.”
“I know… So I sent my sword for repairs.”
She looked towards the carriage.
“Bring it out.”
Together with his disciple, he unloaded a crate that looked like a coffin.
The driver watched from behind the curtain.
The crate was sealed with many nails, and needed to be pulled out one by one.
Baltasar observed the crate curiously.
“Ohh, so you are the blacksmith who is repairing that sword.”
“Yes. Will need to focus here… You too sir, to actually be the teacher of the Princess.”
“Hmm! Not a teacher! But a friend! It’s not teaching since it’s like this.”
“That’s right, just someone I befriended through swordsmanship.”
“This old one had never lost though!”
“Ehh!? But I won thrice!”
“I didn’t lose!”
The old man said childishly.
Enzo finally pulled all the nails out.
“Well, in the blacksmithing world, you two would be fellow disciples.”
His disciple laughed wryly.
The crate was finally opened.
Regis planned it wonderfully.
What’s left would be taking the sword.
And wait for the battle results of Jerome’s knights.
Then sending news of the Fourth Army’s victory over the supply unit.
Be it the High Britannians or the First Imperial Army, after they receive this news…
The war will end.
Even if the High Britannians have new rifles and cannons, If the 40,000 men under Latreille’s command do not engage the enemy on the field, the fort wouldn’t fall in just half a month.
A gentle breeze caressed Regis’ forehead.
The God of Death struck in the dense fog, the first to fall were the sentries.
In the beginning, the soldiers around them didn’t understand what was happening.
It then became a one sided massacre without any resistance. All of them died without any last words.
The grass was covered in fresh blood. The headless soldiers stood there without even raising their pikes.
They probably didn’t even know how they died.
A man holding a giant trident appeared.
Men in black clothings then came out of the fog one after another.
The armour they wore and the weapons they wielded varied wildly. There were spears, swords, bows, scythe, bo and even unknown weapons.
The only thing they had in common was their black robes and the stench of blood.
The man with the trident said in a low voice.
“One man to take on a hundred… And open a bloody path!”
The group in black assaulted the soldiers before they even answered.
Belgarian soldiers weren’t weak.
“Enemy! It’s the mercenary… these guys…!!”
A soldiers picked up his pike to fight.
But his vision was filled by a large hammer.
The thing that came as the screams of despair rung out was a hammer. It bent the pike and smashed into the face of that soldier.
His opponent was a large burly man wielding a giant hammer.
The pikes of the soldiers who engaged him all broke, and they backed away.
“What is with that guy…!? Just like a tornado…”
“We can’t retreat! The Princess is behind us! Stop them!”
“Damn it… Now is the time to show the honour of the Empire!”
The troops drew their swords and slashed at him.
But the swords snapped crisply into two, as if they were already broken.
It was because of the strange shape of the large sword that cut them. the sword's blade was very wide at the tip and was curved.
Maybe it came from the east, just like High Britannia’s tea.
A slender man with slit like eyes surveyed the area, then yelled:
“Fufu… Haha—!! Hyaa!! Laa—!!”
He wielded a twisted sabre, which was surprisingly sharp.
It easily split the sword and pikes of the Imperial soldiers. Instead of the blade being sharp, it was the man’s arm power that was amazing.
Be it veins or bones, all of that would be cut in two like wheat stalks.
The Imperial soldiers fought on as if they didn’t realize the result of the melee combat had already been determined, until they were all defeated.
The one standing at the very front was a man with a trident.
The Mercenary King Gilbert Schweinzeberg.
He led the strongest mercenary group.
The three hundred elites of ‘Renard Pendu’ began their assault in the fog.
Their individual combat prowess was overwhelming, crushing the defence formation of the Imperials easily.
But the soldiers of the Empire wouldn’t retreat so easily.
Wars had been ongoing before the times of their great grandfather, all men were educated with the idea that they would be going to the battlefield one day.
At this moment the guards on the left of the base were engaging the mercenaries.
The Pikemen leader commanding ten soldiers charged at the burly mercenary with his pike.
“We are the 19th Pikemen team!! Even in death, we will show the enemy our honour! Everyone, charge!”
The mercenary cut down all the pikes, and took the heads of the Imperials with a follow up blow.
The soldiers behind thrust their pikes from the side of the dead soldiers.
The twisted sabre fell from his hands.
Two, then three pikes pierced his body.
The Pikemen leader shouted:
The thrust of a spear changed direction.
One of the mercenaries thrust his spear into the Pikemen Leader’s stomach.
“Guaa!? Damn it—!!”
When he was hit, the leader released his pike. When he was dodging earlier, he was already prepared to die.
He just went and grabbed the spear of the enemy tightly.
“Long live the Belgaria Empire!”
The mercenary whose weapon was seized was surprised for a moment— He was then stabbed by numerous pikes.
No matter how strong the mercenary was, they only numbered three hundred.
If the battle was drawn out, the 5,000 Imperial soldiers wouldn’t lose.
But when the army went through merger, the soldiers lacked training and the command system was still imperfect.
Of the 5,000 men, half of them were the old guards from Beilschmidt. The rest were the remnants of the Second Army, and private armies sent by the lords of various territories because of the state of emergency.
Among them were untrained recruits, retired soldiers, and even nobles who joined because of pride.
For the poorly trained soldiers, they already presented a huge weakness in the operation of the unit and the conveyance of information before their combat potential even comes into question.
Some didn’t hear the orders correctly because they were too excited. Some made their own judgement based on their experience. There were soldiers who couldn’t carry out their orders due to fear.
In the end—
The guards who were supposed to reinforce the crumbling defence units came too late.
The soldiers guarding the base camp had fallen.
The man with the trident was already before Altina.
They were just ten paces apart—
Just how many soldiers did he kill to reach this place.
A rain of blood seemed to have drenched the black robes as it was still dripping blood.
Pieces of meat still lingered on the trident in his hand.
The man showed a feral smile.
“I believe this is the first time we met, Princess of the Empire.”
“Trident… You must be the Mercenary King Gilbert Schweinzeberg.”
Altina drew the sword on her waist.
The guards were still locked in battle by four mercenaries with extraordinary arm power.
Regis finally realized his misstep.
“... How can this be.”
An unimaginable situation occurred, not only did it make him shiver, he couldn’t catch his breath either.
Breaking through the base camp guarded by 5,000 troops with less than a thousand men!
“Your Highness, how about a trade? Using the supplies in exchange for your life.”
“Weighing my life against the future of the Empire? Who will agree to this kind of deal?”
“This wench… I have to teach her a lesson.”
Altina was very loyal to the Empire.
Jerome won’t agree to this terms. But it would be hard to judge what the soldiers would do.
There were plenty of ways to inflict pain and despair to humans. If the Princess issued the orders after torture, it was highly possible that the troops would give the supplies back.
Regis cursed his own shallowness.
— When he made plans for the fog, he considered the possibility of the enemy trying to capture his commander.
That’s why he arranged for 5,000 troops to guard the base camp, just in case.
But it was broken through so easily!
He underestimated the ‘Renard Pendu’.
The problem was his misjudgement of the new unit’s combat potential.
Imperial soldiers were strong, but just lumping them together wasn’t enough to make them strong. Regis didn’t utilize the soldiers efficiently.
Even if he had to let the Second Army claim the victory of this battle alone, he should have assigned all the old guards from Beilschmidt to guard the base camp.
If Regis was proficient in martial arts, he would be able to tell that the new units were no match for the mercenary.
Gilbert shouldered his trident and approached nonchalantly.
“I have something to ask… I know that this isn’t the season for fogs. What did you do?”
Altina wiped away the sweat on her brow.
They were still facing off against each other, but she was under a lot of pressure.
“My strategist is a wizard.”
“Hmm? I see… I noticed on my way here that there are patches of wet grounds all over. Did you spill a lot of water? Was that the secret behind that magic?”
“You actually understand this much.”
“That explains the half assed night raid earlier. The purpose was just to pin us down at the camp site. It would have been disastrous if we discovered the units spilling water.”
Altina was silent.
She didn’t affirm or deny. Gilbert nodded.
“What an impressive strategy. The strategist huh… Regis d’Auric right?”
He swept his eyes across everyone present.
First were the escorts around Altina, then Enzo’s disciple besides the crates near the carriage, and finally Regis.
He heard Franziska’s description before. Regis had a frail body unlike a soldier. Gilbert couldn’t explain why he could identify him.
He laughed out loud.
“Hahaha! Really! You are Regis!?”
“It is my utter defeat! The first time my perfect record had been tarnished! A guy who can create fog! As expected of a wizard!”
Instead of a compliment, it was closer to the mocking laugh of a devil.
Even though Regis felt breathless, he still replied with determination.
“... In order to stop this from happening, I planned so long… To stop the Mercenary King Gilbert from going near Her Highness. The one who failed is me.”
“Ahh, I can understand. You thought the enemy couldn’t break through if you had 5,000 men on defence right? Naive, war isn’t determined by numbers!”
“... This fatal incident is because of the soldiers’ lack of training.”
“Lack of training? Wrong!”
Gilbert span his trident.
And pointed it at Altina.
He watched this way with bloodshot eyes.
“The things that decides a battle has always been— Guts!”
Altina gripped her sword tight too.
“I feel the same! When I handed the task to Regis, I didn’t considered how the soldiers would think, so it’s my mistake. I’m too naive to think I can win with just numbers!”
“As expected of the Princess. Well then, I will claim the price you have to pay for your failings!”
“What nonsense are you saying? Mercenary King? The price is letting you show your face before me.”
“I am the Princess of the Belgarian Empire! Even though that’s not what I want to be!”
“Haha! Very brave. But I don’t mind crushing your arrogant pride and making you beg! I will tear off your skirt and nail you to a cross, Princess!”
Gilbert stamped on the ground and the grass shook in the shockwave as if there was an explosion.
And charged in with a speed that was hard to imagine.
The escorts wanted to protect Altina—
But were stopped by the four mercenaries nearby.
After shattering the pikes blocking his way, Gilbert moved before Altina.
The sharp edge of the trident appeared before Altina’s eyes.
She evaded by twisting her body.
“Is that all you got!?”
“Haha! You think you can dodge that easily!?”
Like a snake, the trident tracked Altina’s body.
The path of the trident changed suddenly— which was impossible to do without extraordinary arm strength.
Altina parried with her sword.
“Come get some!”
The trident was pulled back instantly. Before the fact it was pulled back even registered, it was thrust out again.
An ear piercing screech.
The trident was blocked again.
Any slower and her wrist would have been cut by the blade.
“Faster! This is not playtime in summer!”
It was impossible to tell how many thrusts there were.
Consecutive thrusts similar to Jerome, but the attacks were faster than him.
The intense sound of metal on mind as the sword creaked.
Regis was thinking.
This was his fault.
He was fine with any punishment that might be meted out to him.
But what he could do now was…
— Gilbert’s objective was to capture Altina alive. There was no meaning in killing her.
If he did that, the only thing that awaited him would be 5,000 soldiers tearing him to shreds to avenge their commander.
He should only be thinking of capturing her alive.
Regis turned and looked:
“... It should be, no… I have to be sure.”
He can’t fail anymore.
At this moment, he said with certainty.
“Gilbert is aiming for the Princess’ sword!”
“Oh, but even if you figure that out, what can you do!?”
Gilbert attacked fiercely as he shouted that out.
Altina was barely fending off the blows with her sword, and she also couldn’t counter. But she had no intention of running.
She must be hanging on while gritting her teeth.
Even the unskilled Regis could tell her determination.
With her sights set on becoming the Empress, she couldn’t turn tail and run before a mere mercenary.
Absolute faith in her martial skills—
Might ushered in a result that runs contrary to Gilbert’s plan.
Altina’s sword couldn’t withstand the damage and shattered.
“What!? It broke so easily!?”
She could still dodge the attacks, but she lacked the means to defend against them.
Gilbert threw his head back in laughter.
“Haha! The blades of my trident is made from Tristei!”
“What did you say!?”
“Anyway… I will break one of your arms first!”
If she had to block a sweeping attack, Altina will lose her arm.
A fluttering brown robe barged in.
It was Baltasar.
After taking the heavy blow, he slid back a little.
“Ku~~ I see, he is strong.”
“Altina… What you should be holding isn’t that thin sword right? The blacksmith is waiting for you.”
“B-But… the one on one duel…”
Now wasn’t the time to hesitate.
Regis ran over.
And reached Altina’s side.
Within range of Gilbert’s attack.
“Regis!? You can’t use a sword, what are you doing here! You can’t even defeat a hamster right!?”
What cruel words.
Baltasar might be guarding the front, but it made Regis’ knees weak just thinking about being in range of the Mercenary King’s trident.
But he can’t run away alone.
Suppressing the fear in his heart, he said:
“I-I came to convince you… Is your goal to become a sword saint? Or the Empress to lead the people?”
“Huh!? To be the Empress of course!”
“Then, instead of losing properly as a swordsman, you should prioritize the victory of the nation correct?”
Now wasn’t the time to answer.
Gilbert wielded his trident.
“Get out of the way old man! Go cuddle a cat or whatever!”
When he was facing Altina, he held back 30% in order to not kill her by accident.
Right now, his repeated attacks seemed to be landing at the same time.
But Baltasar blocked them all as if he already knew where they would land.
Using this chance, he closed in on Gilbert.
“Hah! How joyous! Aside from the dark knight, there is someone who can block my attacks! And so old too!”
“Why you! With such refined skills, what are you doing as a mercenary!? Shouldn’t you be a knight and defend your country!?”
“My country… Is my mercenary group! I will protect them! Don’t think that I will listen to your lectures! I won’t let the Princess escape!”
A powerful strike.
Baltasar blocked it, but was knocked onto the ground because the force was too powerful.
He couldn’t get up.
He tried to calm his ragged breathing.
“Such… Such a pity… If I was twenty years younger.”
His right arm holding the sword was bent in the other direction.
Gilbert swung his trident again.
At this moment—
“58th Pikemen team, go to the enemy’s back! 59th to 80th Pikemen team, don’t let the other Mercenaries come near!”
The soldiers fighting chaotically reformed ranks after hearing her orders.
Altina walked forth from amongst the soldiers with their raised pikes.
In her hands was a new sword.
Gilbert twisted his mouth.
“Ho? You’re afraid of dying now? Fourth Princess of the Empire, you were just talking about a proper one on one duel earlier.”
“Because of my personality, I am concerned about the battle over there.”
“Of course. War is all about men killing each other.”
“If I am not concerned… I don’t think the soldiers will raise their shields in battle.”
Altina dropped her giant sheath.
And drew her sword
Unlike the sword that broke days ago, this one had a much thicker hilt.
The large hilt was as heavy as a hammer.
The design was simple, and all the parts were one size thicker.
According to the blacksmith Enzo, the material used was completely different, so the sword was much heavier and harder.
The blade had been polished, making it smoother with a silver glitter.
It was reflective enough that one could count Altina’s eyelashes off it.
She turned to the enemy.
“I won’t lose. I am not aiming to be a swordsman, but the Empress, so I definitely won’t lose… So be seeking help to buy time, repairing this sword or listening to the advice of my strategist, I will do everything needed of me.”
“Isn’t winning a one on one duel the condition for becoming a commander?”
“I will ask my troops about that later— After I defeat you!”
Altina charged forth.
Thrusting her huge sword.
Even though they were some distance away, there were pikemen standing by behind Gilbert.
Gilbert couldn’t retreat.
And engaged with his trident.
The new ‘Grand Tonnerre Quatre’ clashed with Gilbert’s trident—
The trident creaked under the pressure.
Even though it was made with tristei, that was only for the blade of the trident.
Gilbert gritted his teeth.
“Don’t you have anything else to use!? An outstanding sword, but such a heavy weapon can’t keep up with my attacks!”
Just like how he broke the sword moments ago, Gilbert unleashed high speed thrusts.
At this moment, Baltasar who was on the ground shouted:
“Don’t swing! Push it back!”
When facing the enemy’s thrusting attack, she shouldn’t swing her sword— and should block with the blade.
After blocking the attack, push the enemy back with her sword.
With the hilt she was holding as the pivot, the sword blade and hilt spun in place with a simple twist.
The blade might be huge, but it could be moved in a large arc.
She deflected Gilbert’s attack.
The flurry of attacks stopped.
Even Altina who counterattacked was stunned.
“Ah… I see… By moving the hilt a little, the blade will move a lot. I always thought the blade was too heavy before the repairs, which affected the wielding of the sword.”
“Ughh… It’s not over yet!”
Gilbert launch his consecutive attacks again.
Altina moved in to restrain him, wiping away the enemy’s trident attack by moving her hilt a little.
Instead of a sword technique, this was closer to using an oar.
If Gilbert had a weapon that could withstand the might of this sword, he might opt for another way to fight.
But he probably had never encountered someone like this before— an opponent who could fight toe to toe with the Mercenary King’s trident with a sword.
Altina didn’t wield her sword wildly like before, fighting in a way that was hard to preempt and pressuring her opponent.
Numerous cracks appeared on Gilbert’s trident.
At the same time, the fight with the mercenary group ‘Renard Pendu’ was quieting down.
No matter how much one person excelled in combat, their weapons and stamina won’t be able to last in the face of enemies outnumbering them by tens of folds.
Because of the fatigue and their weapons breaking, they were defeated and subdued one after another.
Even the Mercenary King couldn’t avoid the accumulation of fatigue, and his movement was obviously turning dull.
Gilbert raised his trident high.
“For their sake, I can’t lose! Hyaaa—!!”
“To change the Empire, I must win! Haaaahh—!!”
The weapons clashed, and Altina swung her sword.
Throwing up a gust of wind.
Blowing away the grass on the ground.
The silvery white blade glittered, and the bloodied trident head—
After losing his weapon, the walls of soldiers behind him positioned their pikes inches away from his body.
Gilbert was adamant in following his beliefs, refusing to fall at a time like this. He closed his eyes while standing still.
The troops erupted in cheers.
The joyous mood spread like wildfire.
What they wanted was a leader who brought them victory.
Voices praising the Empire and the Princess echoed through the hills.
Regis sighed in relief.
Looking from afar, the sun had finally pierced through the fog, and the weather on the hills gradually became clear.
“... The fog is gone.”
And the wind blew over.
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