Felicia of the Steel Production Street
Editors: Darkdhaos, Ruzenor, Seir K, CEObrainz
The sun was setting to the west, near the mountains. The sky was still bright, but the vicinity of the city was already covered by the shadows of the mountains, making it dim.
The water level had been decreasing since several days ago — Some people bring that up in their everyday conversation.
The captured citizens were living in harsh conditions. Most of them didn’t care how much water there was. They couldn’t even be sure if they would live till the next day.
“It’s true! The water! It’s gone!”
The person who was peeking out the window from the second story of the building—
A burly skinhead wearing an eyepatch, the man had a scar on his face which made him look like the bandit's boss shouted.
He was the guild master of the steel production guild.
The one who leads the captured citizens.
Vallis who was beside him nodded.
“I already told you, this plan was a direct order from Field Marshall Allen de Latreille and proposed by the strategist Regis d’Auric. There are no plans in the Imperial Army that are more certain.”
“Woahhhh—!! What Mr Soldier said is true! Hey everyone! Let’s go! Let’s go!”
The guild master instructed immediately.
Those who were confident in their running speed dashed out from the buildings.
Putting those who are slow in front would slow down the entire group, but these people were also serving as scouts.
For example, if the enemy took notice of this plan, then the exit of the waterway would be rained upon by countless bullets.
— Were they noticed?
That was the only thing Vallis wasn’t sure of.
He was certainly confident of his running speed. However, he had a more important mission, and that was to protect the escapees together with the guild master.
Everyone prayed in their hearts.
— Please don’t let the enemy notice.
Gunfire lit the walls. The red flash that robbed others of their lives spread in the dusk light.
“It’s no good!?”
The one who groaned was Fel.
However, the guild master refuted that:
“No! They are just sentries guarding the waterway! It’s not that easy for a rifle or two to hit! Everyone, we have to bet on that! Go! Go! Go! Run while you can! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!”
With a roar, a group of citizens dashed out from the shadow of the building.
A group of men was in front.
They ran very fast.
Next were women, and men who brought women.
And at the rear were those with children and others who chose to bring their belongings no matter what.
It would be ideal if the sequence was reversed, but they might be wiped out instead.
And this was a matter of life and death — There were those who wanted to flee even if they had to push aside the slower ones in front of them.
Because of this, compared to the ones shot by the High Britannian sentries, many more had fallen and got trampled by the others.
Even though there was no water in the waterway, there was still mud which made it easier to slip.
A large number of people slipped and fell down.
Despite that, the number of captives that had escaped was many times more than those who died in the dried waterway.
On the second story of a building that was facing the waterway—
The steel production guild master carried his bags.
“I should get going.”
“... It isn’t over, but we are close to succeeding. It’s all thanks to your aid that we can rescue most of the captives. Thank you for your cooperation.”
“Don’t say that. If Mr Soldier didn’t bring us this information, we probably wouldn’t have noticed that the waterway is dry. Even if we did, we might have just gawked at each other.”
“I am just carrying out my mission.”
“That’s why I said that everyone is grateful. Hey, is that really fine?”
“This is part of my mission.”
“I see. Don’t die on me, Mr Soldier!”
“... Of course. Thank you for lending me this good lance.”
In Vallis’ hands was a completely black lance. Only the lance’s tip had a silvery gleam.
It was a lance made from new steel.
“Hah, I was right to hide it in advance.”
The guild master laughed. Although it made him look like a bandit leader who successfully got his prey.
He ran downstairs.
And left the building with his waiting subordinates.
A person tugged at Vallis’ sleeve, it was Fel.
“Aren’t you going?”
‘I should be asking you, hurry up and go. Run along with the women and children.”
“I can’t leave you behind. I agreed to help you okay?”
‘Stupid… The battle is already…”
“It’s not over, you just said that.”
Fufu, Fel laughed. Even though she was still a kid, there was an indescribable beauty about her. A nostalgic smile Vallis had seen somewhere before.
Strangely, Vallis didn’t think about forcing her to leave.
Or rather, staying with her made him feel more at ease.
“... You really are a helpless girl. You have to place your own survival as the top priority. Try your best not to leave my side.”
The sounds of hooves hitting the road echoed and drew close.
As expected — after finding out that the captives had escaped, the cavalry stationed in the steel production street rushed on scene.
They were few in numbers, but many would die if they caught up to the captives.
— I can’t ignore this!
There were 8 riders that gave chase.
Vallis decided to get the last rider first.
“Fel, close your eyes and mouth. Don’t move.”
Vallis grabbed her waist with his left arm.
And stepped onto the ledge of the 2nd story window.
“We are going!”
She covered her mouth to stop herself from screaming.
Vallis leaped out of the window.
Twisting in midair, he thrust his 42PA (320cm) long lance out.
Even though it was dark, he still pierced the throat of the rider accurately. After pushing him off the horse, Vallis got onto the empty saddle.
The horse neighed, it was going to fall!
Vallis twisted his body and managed to keep his balance.
“Fel, grab the mane!”
Vallis held the lance with his right arm and put Fel who was in his left arm onto the back of the horse — Letting her sit in front of him. She grabbed onto the head of the horse.
With his free left hand, he grabbed the reins. He got back the balance of the staggering horse.
He squeezed the belly of the horse. As he had fallen far behind the riders in pursuit, he had to catch up fast.
Even though this rider rode at the very back, the soldier might be mediocre, but the horse wasn’t bad.
Vallis excelled in horsemanship too.
— In the first place, there isn’t anyone in the Imperial First Army that is weaker than a rider from Britannia!
The horse probably sensed that the rider’s skill was good, and started galloping.
He caught up.
The High Britannian riders were cautiously descending into the waterway.
One of the horsemen turned back.
“Hey, you are finally here! That’s slow—”
The thing that finished the sentence was the head flying off.
Vallis charged down the waterway on horseback.
With man and horse working as one, he landed on the ground with soft mud, allowing him to keep his stance.
He twirled his lance.
This was something the steel production guild master risked his life to hide. The enemy’s head flew off with just a glancing blow.
Vallis used plenty of weapons before, but this was the first time he wielded such a blade. It wasn’t the appropriate time and place, but he was still moved.
The horsemen pursuing the captives didn’t think they were being hunted too.
In an instant, three horsemen were killed.
But it seemed that the first four had gone deep into the waterway.
“Are you alright, Fel!?”
“Don’t mind me! Get them!”
Vallis spurred his horse on.
The captives were fleeing in the mud.
The place that was once a river had dried up.
— This is just like wizardry.
Even Vallis who was told the details of the plan couldn’t help opening his eyes wide.
The High Britannian soldiers shot with their rifles from the walls of the steel production street.
There weren’t many of them, but if they aimed at the dense crowd, they would hit someone.
The citizens were also being pursued by riders, who were killing many with their lances.
“Warrghhh! Galian pigs! Is running all you can do!?”
These were the citizens carrying bags and holding children. They couldn’t defend against the riders and their lances.
But the riders never imagined that the most dangerous presence on this battlefield was coming from behind them.
The fight only lasted an instant.
No, it couldn’t be called a fight. In just the span of one breath, the three riders who were hunting the citizens were dead.
The remaining horseman rode onto the slope of the river bed and escaped.
— His priority right now was to defend the citizens.
Vallis could hear the sound of hooves.
A lot of cavalries charged down the river bed that didn’t have any water.
Vallis clicked his tongue.
“Langobalts soldiers huh!?”
He braced his lance.
The cavalry that arrived — numbered more than 20. Their total number was probably 5 times that.
About a hundred horsemen were pursuing the escaping civilians.
And right now, the only one capable of fighting here was Vallis.
— This isn’t a number I can defeat.
He had already braced himself.
During these 5 days, he had kept his tension high. And right now, the high strung string finally snapped.
“... This is the end huh… This isn’t too bad of a place to die.”
“What, are you giving up!? Vallis, you have to live on!”
“Fel!? Sorry about dragging you into this…”
“We made a promise right!? You will protect me, and kill all of them! You have to protect me! If, if… I don’t want Vallis to die too!”
Could it be, this child followed me because she thought this might happen? She knew I would become the shield to protect the citizens? To stop me from throwing myself away?
Normally, he had to escape in order to survive. That was the situation right now.
Discarding the heavy lance and overtaking the escaping citizens, then the two of them would probably be saved.
— However, Fel probably didn’t wish for such a retarded method.
Vallis held his lance tightly.
“I’m sorry that you have to do this together with me… And of course, I will protect you. I will live on. After all, I haven’t wiped out the enemy yet.”
“Yes! E-Erm… Vallis.”
“What is it?”
“D-Do your best!”
“... Of course!”
More than a hundred horsemen charged at him—
Vallis spurred his horse.
And braced his lance.
“I am Third Grade Combat Officer Jean Ulysse de Vallis of the Imperial First Army! You shall not pass!”
He had probably defeated 10 horsemen.
He was stabbed in the sides once and hit on the head, suffering a slight concussion.
He wanted to give up several times.
But when the sight of Fel’s figure appeared in his field of vision, an emotion he himself didn’t understand welled up, and his body carried on fighting.
He stabbed another rider.
An angry roar sounded out.
“Arghhh! The opponent is just one horseman, what are you lots doing! Surround him and thrust from all directions!”
“Lord Ricks, it’s dangerous! Please stay back!”
It was a knight in golden full plate armor.
— The knight commander? I will defeat him!
There was a good chance that a unit will retreat after losing their commander. Even though that would be dependent on the capability of the deputy…
Pleading the exhausted horse to go forth, he charged ahead once more.
He then touched the petite back of the girl grabbing the head of the horse lightly.
“... Hah… Hah… Fel… Are you still alive? Just a bit more… Hold on.”
Did she die from being too close to the intense battles?
Even though he felt uneasy, Vallis could still feel the warmth of her body with his hand.
— Still alive.
His reason of being right now was to protect this girl from harm. That’s what Vallis thought.
All he ever had was nonstop missions. But now, he could feel a motivation he had never felt before.
Vallis squeezed the belly of his horse.
And charged at the man named Ricks.
His adversary sneered.
“Fufufu… There isn’t anything easier than seeing through the actions of a desperate opponent.”
“When forced into a desperate situation, they will charge the enemy commander on sight. They don’t have any other choice!”
He was tricked.
The horsemen were ready and thrust their lance. They were aiming for his horse.
He didn’t even know the name of the horse.
But it was the horse that fought the most bravely among the horses Vallis had rode.
It neighed, and fell with foam at its mouth. Its body was pierced by three lances.
Vallis was thrown onto the ground.
Even though he could lift the lance, his legs and waist were at its limits with just a shiver.
“Fel, are you alright!?”
“Ughh… Yes… Nghh…”
She held her slender waist and collapsed onto the mud.
Fresh red blood.
Fel’s fresh red blood was…
Soaking the belly of her clothes.
A Lance? Or a rifle? When was she hurt! I didn’t even notice!
During the battle, there were several times when his consciousness was blurry. And during those moments, he failed to protect her!?
“... Erm… Ugh… Please… Vallis… Please don’t die…”
“What are you saying. Such… such a thing… Fel, no! Don’t die! I won’t allow it! Don’t die!”
His vision was a blur.
He didn’t even notice that his tears were falling.
Vallis thought about it before. Thought countless times. How would he be like the moment he dies.
Shot by arrows? Turned dull in the midst of battle? He detested dying of illness in the warzone, but that was rather common too.
But he never imagined.
He would be holding a child covered in blood, and that he would be bawling even though the enemy was right before him. So this was his last moment in life.
“Fel! Don’t die! Don’t die! Please… Don’t die… Please…”
Why, just why was this child such an important existence to him. He couldn’t understand.
Even Vallis couldn’t explain it clearly.
But he couldn’t stop his outburst of emotions. When he thought that Fel might die, Vallis couldn’t even hold his lance properly.
“Hurry up and end him!”
The Langobalt horsemen readied their lances.
Numerous lances thrust towards Vallis.
The sound of hooves came from upstream of the dried riverbed.
They numbered 800!
Charging at the very front was the young knight commander of the White Hare Knights, Batteren.
“Ahhhhh!! Send those Langobalt bastards flying!”
“What !? Tch!”
Ricks turned his horse hurriedly.
The mud splattered.
Batteren threw his lance. It passed through the gaps between the guards on horseback and pierced Ricks from the back.
“Ahhh, Lord Ricks!”
With the commander dead, the horsemen fell into confusion.
The Langobalt horsemen weren’t weaklings and would continue slaughtering the captives without their leader. But right now, they were being hunted by the Belgarian knights that outnumbered them several folds and fell into disarray immediately.
Vallis trembled as he held Fel tightly.
He didn’t have the strength to even stand.
He just kept crying.
A chestnut horse stopped by his side.
“Hey, you… From that uniform, you are a High Britannian soldier?”
Batteren was questioning a man who was holding a child that didn’t look Belgarian and bawling his eyes out.
Vallis raised his head with tears in his eyes.
“S… Save her… Please save her… Fel, she…”
“Hmm? Could it be, Vallis!? What happened to you!?”
In Batteren’s impression, the man known as Vallis was someone who was born to be a soldier.
Is she his family? Did she live in Grebauvar city? Batteren thought. That Vallis he knew looked much more emotional now.
Batteren pointed upstream of the river.
“Take her away! The doctor is here!”
“That strategist didn’t leave the doctor at the headquarters, but sent him here instead. That child is still breathing, and if she is lucky, she might be saved.”
To be frank, Batteren detested Regis.
But he had to acknowledge him now.
— He even foresaw such a situation?
Vallis shook off his tears and roared:
“Wo... Wo… Wooooahhhh!”
He stood up.
His legs weren’t trembling anymore.
And ran through the mud.
At that moment the Vallis whose face was red, sniveling with tears and running while covered in mud was the coolest— The one who said that was Felicia who survived after that.
Chapter 5: Turbid Waters
The sun had already set behind the mountains. The shadows of the soldiers were also stretched out on the ground.
At the Imperial forces headquarters.
A young messenger saluted.
Although he gritted his teeth to suppress his feelings, his eyes were sparkling, cheeks red, and his voice was a pitch higher because of excitement.
“The White Hare Knights are escorting the citizens who were once captives in the steel production streets of Grebauvar! They are disengaging from the front lines as planned— I-It’s a success!”
Wahh! The soldiers cheered.
Even though the battle wasn’t over, there were already people shouting “Vive l’empire!”
That was how exhilarating the results were. It was more difficult than retaking the fortress city.
And before this report, the Imperial soldiers saw the brilliant command that stumped the enemy commander, so it had evolved into a celebration as if victory was assured.
Even though the fortress was unharmed, and more than half the enemy was still standing.
Latreille and Germaine were silent. Maybe they didn’t think of this as their merit.
The other staff officers were the same.
After seeing Regis showing his true strength through his command, all of them were at a loss for words.
Latreille who received the report nodded lightly.
He wasn’t smiling.
“... I am sorry about this, but there is no time to be gleeful about this. Gentlemen, now would be the most crucial phase of the battle. One wrong move, and it will become the greatest defeat in Imperial history. Everyone please be mindful and don’t make any mistake.”
The relaxed atmosphere tensed up immediately.
Even though Latreille meant to only hand the command to Regis for the remaining 30 minutes— But after the citizens started their escape, Regis continued holding on to the command authority.
“... White Hare Knights advance to the center. But minimize your losses. If the enemy congregates, it is fine to withdraw.”
“Please wait a moment!”
“Lord Batteren is too busy. Pleases leave this mission to us!”
The one who named himself and stepped forward was the commander of the White Wolves Knights Corps that was standing by at headquarters— Zemmourt.
He was a young knight, about 25 years old, just like Batteren.
Regis thought about it.
In April earlier this year—
On the founding day festival, relations between Altina and Latreille soured. During that time, the Beilschmidt border regiment had a skirmish with the White Wolves.
Because of Regis’ scheme, their former commander and half of their comrades fell in that battle.
In this battlefield, the ones who hate Regis the most wasn’t the enemy, but the survivors of the White Wolves.
Even though Latreille delegated command authority to Regis, he wondered if they would follow Regis’ instructions faithfully.
Because of this feeling of unease, Regis left them at headquarters as escorts.
Zemmourt closed one eye. This man was emitting an aura befitting a commanding officer of the Empire.
“If we watch idly as this intense battle ends, we will lose our standings after returning to the capital. Can you grant us the chance to reclaim our honor and trust?”
“... There is no time so I will be direct… Will you obey my orders?”
“Fufu, seems like Sir Strategist has some misunderstanding about the current White Wolves. Do you think we are that vengeful?”
“... Aren’t you?”
“Half the unit died means that half the unit won't know the grudges of the past. Including me, half of the soldiers who just joined the unit were transferred from the south.”
Regis had read such a report before.
This meant that Zemmourt didn’t bore any personal grudges, and was trustworthy.
However, it was easy for emotions to trend towards negativity.
“... If I was in Zemmourt’s position… I would feel the need to do something to gain the trust of the old soldiers that comprises half the unit.”
“What you said is true. However, from the same perspective, this is also a chance to show everyone that we will follow Sir Strategist’s orders.”
There was no time to continue their conversation.
Batteren was exhausted, this was an undeniable fact. Both men and horses were at their limit. It would be great if he could leave it to the Zemmourt.
Regis stopped his thoughts.
“... If you disobey the orders, we might get wiped out.”
Zemmourt lowered his head deeply as if he was before a general.
Regis turned and met the eyes of Latreille who was standing behind him.
Latreille nodded without a word.
He probably meant that he would leave it to Regis.
— Is he testing my abilities?
Regis adjusted his orders.
“Well then, the White Hare Knights are to standby to the rear. The White Wolves would advance towards the middle. In order to cover the retreat of the other units, please draw the attention of the enemy. But only until 1800 hours. Understand, once it is 1800 hours, no matter how the situation is, you have to retreat immediately.”
Zemmourt stood at attention and saluted.
With the White Wolves that were committed into battle mid way as the anchor, the frontline was built up again.
As the sun was going to set, the opponent didn’t attack forcefully.
— If this goes on, it will proceed just as planned.
It should be.
Regis received the reports from the various units and found the battle to be progressing smoothly.
At the same time, he felt something was out of place.
“... Colonel Oswald Coulthard… Didn’t use any schemes, and simply handed his forces over to the King of Langobalt… That’s all?”
Hah! Regis opened his eyes wide and turned his head.
“Field Marshall, please lend me some men!”
Latreille asked confusedly.
“Hmm? Is something wrong?”
“If my predictions are correct, there is still time!”
“I won’t turn you down now. What is the objective, and what sort of troops do you need?”
“Cavalry! I just need 100 cavalries…!!”
However, the White Wolves had set off for the front lines.
The White Tigers are holding the battle lines. They couldn’t be dispatched.
So they could only use the exhausted White Hares that had retreated to the rear…
“100 cavalries. If that’s all, my guards would suffice.”
“Ehh!? But they are supposed to protect…”
“And of course, I will be going too. If Sir Regis wants to squeeze out a hundred cavalry in such a situation, then I think your plans are valuable enough— how about it?”
Regs hesitated a moment, then nodded immediately.
‘Please do! It’s very urgent!”
Latreille leaped onto his war horse.
“Well then, follow me Sir Regis! Tell me the details on the horse!”
“Ehh!? Ah, erm… Yes…”
He was surprised, but still reached his hand out — His hand was grabbed and pulled up forcefully. He was seated behind Latreille.
He almost fell off, so Regis hugged Latreille without even thinking.
But Latreille didn’t seem to be mad.
The horses Regis rode would thrash about wildly… But Latreille controlled the horse and made it still like a statue. As expected of the best horse in the Empire.
Latreille gave the orders.
“Germaine! I will leave this place to you!”
He answered with a salute.
In moments like this, the relationship between Latreille and Germaine was completely different from Altina and Regis. For them, it was only natural to act separately in order to fulfill their own responsibilities when needed.
But Altina wanted to stay with Regis as much as possible. If Regis went out of her sight, she would feel very uneasy.
— As soldiers, the two of them are probably acting the right way.
Regis pointed to the fortress.
“Field Marshall, please head into the northwest forest!”
“Hmm… Going around the battlefield huh… If the enemy noticed us, this 100 cavalries won’t be able to do anything. Then speed is of the essence. Escort unit, move out! Those who are slow will be left behind!”
The knights all answered with a loud roar.
The Langobalt Army—
“Your Majesty, the White Wolves Knights are moving out from the Imperial headquarters!”
“They are committing their reserves huh. Seems like they can’t spare the effort anymore.”
Even though the deft movements of the Imperial forces put him at a big disadvantage, Paul slowly reorganized his units after using all his wits.
The ability to unite the soldiers that had been defeated, such abilities were far from stupidity.
In the first place, they had the advantage in numbers and equipment, and also the support of cannons from the fort.
“Hmmp… It was a bit of a tough fight… But it would be fine if we defeat the enemy in the end.”
If he could achieve the results he wanted, the process didn’t matter.
— Well, I was hoping to present a flawless victory to Margaret in the beginning.
The Langobalt Kingdom had a low evaluation of the High Britannian Army. Even though they had new rifles, the soldiers were still weaklings.
Leaving aside naval battles where the performance of the ships mattered the most, the High Britannians weren’t much on land battles.
This was a fact. In this battle, their low level of training resulted in them being unable to keep up with the movement of the Imperial forces, and the formation became chaotic several times.
As for why the Imperial forces lost to the High Britannians so many times, Paul thought the reason was ‘the Empire has grown weak’.
If he had the advantage in numbers, Paul was confident that he could turn the situation into a one sided slaughter.
But the truth was, he got fooled by the Empire’s strategist, and all his plans were countered.
Even though his main forces were intact, his overall forces had fallen quite a bit.
— On top of that, the captives had escaped.
He glanced to the river.
Because the river suddenly dried up, the waterway became an avenue to escape.
There weren’t many sentries.
His adjutant tilted his head.
“Why did the river dried up all of a sudden in this season?”
“Let the scholars study that in the future. It is too inefficient for soldiers who aren’t experts to think about it.”
To be honest, Paul felt something was amiss.
However, in his mind, his duty was to command the army and defeat the enemy.
As he was faithful to his duties, he focused his energy on the situation before him and expelled everything outside the battlefield from his mind.
He never imagined that the trap set by the Imperial army was upstream all this while.
A messenger ran over.
“What is it!?”
“Ughhh… Knight commander Ricks has been killed in combat! By the White Hare Knights!”
“... What!? Is it confirmed!?”
“After leading a hundred or so horsemen to pursue the escaping captives, he engaged the White Hare Knights shortly after.”
No matter what the reason was, the commander of the unit shouldn’t be exposed on the battlefield.
Paul gritted his teeth.
“The rest of the cavalry are supporting the right flank under the command of his deputy.”
“What about the enemy! The ones that killed Ricks!?”
“They escaped in the direction of the Imperial territory together with the captives!”
Which meant that their mission was to protect the fleeing captives.
His adjutant proposed:
“My liege, as the combat prowess of the knight reinforcement are weakened, we are having a harder time holding up. Please give the orders to retreat back to the fortress!”
“Don’t be retarded! Now is a good chance! Not only did the White Hare Knights charged left and right on the battlefield, they even went to escort the escaping captives. No matter how exemplary the Imperial cavalry are, the stamina of their horses should be at their limits!”
The White Tiger Knights who had been roaming the battlefield to support the battle lines were also exhausted and their movements had slowed down.
Even though they worked with the infantry ranks to switch back and forth in order to rest, they had charged numerous times and expended a lot of their stamina.
— What is left is the White Wolves Knight that had finally moved out. I heard they are just a subpar knight corp with half of them being fresh recruits.
“This is the moment of victory! Send out all the people in the fort! Even the High Britannians! The enemy used up all their forces! If we press them now, we will win!”
He still had more than 10,000 troops that were unscathed.
“Kuku… To exhaust one’s forces before sunset… The enemy commander just knows a little street smarts! A commander of an army needs to see the battle in much longer terms!”
He looked towards the western sky.
The sun was near the mountains. But it was still far from it setting completely.
It would be another two hours before nightfall.
“We can win! Yes we can!”
With the reinforcement from the fort, the Langobalt and High Britannian forces strengthened their attack.
Even though the Empire committed the White Wolves, there wasn’t anything special about their movements.
— As expected, the unfathomable way of my plans being countered as they unfold is just a fluke.
He couldn’t imagine that the man who commanded so amazingly had left headquarters for other matters. After all, that went too far against common sense, so it was natural that he couldn’t predict that.
There wasn’t any need for special instructions now — He never imagined that was what his adversary thought.
His adjutant shouted.
“The White Wolves are falling back! So are the other units! The front lines of the Imperial forces are collapsing!”
“Alright—! Pursue them! We will ravage the headquarters of the Imperial Army in one go!”
The entire army received the orders to charge.
Paul felt that victory was at hand.
The ground was shaking.
In the beginning, he thought it was caused by the charge of his own army, but that wasn’t so.
He heard a thunder-like sound from a certain direction.
The soldiers panicked, and looked around them.
Paul also surveyed the surroundings.
“... I-I don’t know.”
His adjutant said in a trembling voice.
Paul looked towards the Empire.
“They are running up the hills?”
As a fundamental of battles, the ones who have the higher ground holds the advantage. However, there were limits to this. Even if they deploy on such steep slopes that they couldn’t form ranks properly, it would just tire the troops needlessly.
It would be fine if they were just defending, but their movements would be dull if they switched to the offensive. And it would be hard to coordinate with their allies.
“... They are… not forming up?”
The unfathomable noise was getting louder.
He then remembered suddenly.
Weren’t those signs that a flood was coming?
When he noticed the sound of water, he could already see the flood of water washing brown grass and mud coming at him.
The troops wailed.
There was no meaning in ordering a retreat.
The army lost their cohesiveness immediately and the soldiers scattered. But where should they run? Most of the troops ran in the direction of the fort.
But they were close enough to see the flood. It was probably impossible for the soldiers in armor to escape.
The smarter ones ran for the slopes.
The west of the battle field was now a dried river bed. A place that would be flooded very soon.
And the only place they could escape to was the eastern slopes.
However, the Imperial forces had secured that position before hand.
Those who were both lucky and calm escape up the empty slope where the Imperial bullets couldn’t reach. However, they numbered less than one tenth the total number.
Paul pulled his reins.
“Ah, Your Majesty, where to!? We should run to the slopes—”
“To the fort!”
“How could I abandon Margaret!?”
The soldiers under him were engulfed by the water.
— This is actually a trap!
The river dried up, and the prisoners escaped as if they knew this ahead of time.
On top of that, the action taken by the Imperial forces before him.
And this flood.
Were all this set up by the enemy?
“Ughh… Can such a thing… be done by men!?”
The horses were swept by the torrent and fell like twigs.
Soldiers wearing armor sunk.
Innumerable screams were overwhelmed by the immense flood.
Just the water was a big threat, but there were logs and stones mixed in too. Armor and lanes were all useless now. Aside from running at full speed to escape, there was nothing else they could do.
His adjutant caught up in no time.
“Ohh! You made it!”
“As expected, just this amount of water can’t drown the valley!’
Turning back, he could see that compared to the eruption earlier, the water flow had stabilized.
The water overflowed the river banks, and the city was probably the same with the water gushing out from the waterway. This was really terrible.
“What a horrible sight. But, if the fortress is intact...”
“As long as the cavalry survives…!!”
They lost a lot of men, but a sizable number of cavalry capable of fighting rushed over.
Paul grabbed his reins tight.
His body was trembling.
“A… Alright! With the cavalry as the core, if we consolidate all the surviving soldiers, we can still fight! How can we bend down to those Imperials!”
“First, I have to check on Margaret’s safety!”
The adjutant frowned resignedly, but nodded.
“... Yes, in order to command the High Britannian troops, that is necessary.”
Paul made his adjutant wait and walked into the private chambers of the queen, located in the depths of the fortress.
“... What is this?”
There were no guards.
There should be an adequate number of guards to protect the High Britannian Queen.
Because of the flood, the vicinity around the Grebauvar city became empty. Although the city part was flooded, the fortress portion shouldn’t be damaged too much.
“I can still fight. I can still fight… Margaret…”
He pushed open the door without even knocking.
There wasn’t anyone here.
Margaret and the High Brittanian strategist Oswald Coulthard were not here. Not just that, even the maids and guards were missing.
“... What is going on? Margaret! Margaret! Where have you gone!? It’s me! Paul Langschultz!!”
This was the bed she would lie on even in the day, the Belgarian made couches she likes and the white tea set from the far east. Everything was the same before Paul went out to battle.
But only she alone wasn’t here.
“... Where… did you go?”
His adjutant came in.
How unsightly, Paul glared at him.
“What is it!? And this is the private chambers of a royalty!”
“... Not anymore.”
“I questioned the maids who are left behind. She said the High Britannia Queen and her escorts had already left Grebauvar. They left via the west gate.”
“They actually!? When!?”
“... About an hour ago. When the captives were escaping.”
There was no doubt that during that time, the attention of the fortress garrison and the two armies fighting in the field was focusing on the captives.
No one noticed that at this moment, the High Britannia Queen had quietly slipped out from the west gate in the opposite direction.
Paul held his head.
“... How could it be… Is it because she saw me fighting an ugly battle!?”
“Didn't she plan to escape all this time? And the result is, no one is chasing the High Britannia Queen, but we are in a deep crisis.”
If he didn’t fight this battle, the Langobalt Kingdom would still have the option of capturing the High Britannia Queen and using her as a negotiation chip with Belgaria.
At the very least, they could demand a Queen’s ransom from High Britannia.
However, the Belgarian Empire focused all their energy on the King of Langobalt, while the High Britannia Queen got away scot free!
Paul’s lips quivered.
“... What are you saying? Did Margaret… use me… as a sacrificial pawn?”
“I don’t know how she thinks, but that’s the situation right now. In the beginning, we used the citizens as shields… Thinking about it carefully, we won’t be able to negotiate peacefully because of that. And isn’t the one who suggested that Colonel Oswald?”
Normally, using the release of the captured city and prisoners as chips, one could request for a ransom.
However, if the scheme of using citizens as shields was used, it would be impossible for them to negotiate with the Empire.
After all, they wouldn’t be forgiven on an emotional level.
“We were too rash in taking this Grebauvar city that had not fallen for a long time. And didn’t the High Britannian Queen used this point exactly?”
Paul lowered his head.
“... No. We… just need to win. The fortress is still intact. The city is just being flooded momentarily, we can still fight!”
His adjutant showed a bitter expression.
No matter how he objected to his king, the only answer he got was to fight.
It was true that there was no possibility of a peaceful negotiation.
A soldier ran over. But it was the private quarters of an important person after all, so he stopped at the entrance.
“What’s the matter this time?”
Paul asked annoyingly.
The expression on the soldier’s face seemed to be saying that something troublesome was happening again.
His breathing was ragged probably because he sprinted here, and his face was pale.
“... The water…”
“You are telling me that now?’
“No, my liege! It isn’t a flash flood… the water level isn’t dropping.”
“What do you mean?”
“It seemed that the enemy built a dam downstream, and blocked the river flow.”
“A dam!? Why!? What is the Empire trying to do!?”
The soldier couldn’t answer.
The adjutant said in a tone as if he was groaning.
“Your Majesty, the Belgarian Empire… wants to flood Grebauvar city.”
“T-They are actually doing such a thing!?”
But of course, not the entire place would be flooded. The walls and the taller parts of the fortress were built rather high up.
However, if the water flooded one story high, they wouldn’t be able to use the city.
And facilities such as food storage, cellars and stables— were located on the first floor.
Paul’s face turned as pale as the soldier reporting.
“... Can we destroy the dam?”
“With the water reaching a certain level, the cavalry won’t be able to get close. Infantry would be able to approach from the slopes.”
“However, our troops are…”
They lost more than half their soldiers in the flood earlier.
How many men were left? And even for those who survive, do they still have the will to fight?
“We will fight our way out!”
“Don’t say anything more, just follow me! Just those who still have the will to fight is enough! This is the final battle!”
He descended the stairs of the fort.
Drawing out the sword at his waist, he shouted:
“The Belgarian Empire is on their last legs and is nothing to be afraid of! I am the King of Langobalt, Paul Langschultz!”
When he attempted to go down to the first level.
The water already flooded half the level.
It was up to his waist.
If they wore armor and rode on their horses, they would need to bet their lives on it. After all, falling off would mean drowning.
There was not a single knight armed and ready to go in sight.
Their horses were here, but they all sought refuge on the second story.
Paul took off his armor and threw it away.
He didn’t know why he was yelling as he waded to his horse and mounted it.
“Open the gates! The King is taking the field! All those with valor follow me!!”
“... Your Majesty.”
His adjutant who had also taken off his armor approached.
“Ohh! Get on your horse too!”
“... Your Majesty…”
“What’s the matter!? Mount your horse! Open the gates now!”
“...... Your Majesty…… The mechanism to open the gates had already been submerged in water.”
“Let’s raise the white flag.”
His adjutant lowered his head and said.
Paul lifted his sword and slashed at the water.