Outbreak of War in the Western Realm Arc
The Beginning of the Grand Storm
Editors: Darkdhaos, Ruzenor
The land was dyed black, a darkness that was cold and gleaming, showing the tough and thick metallic ground. And the ones that turned this land black were giant knights covered in dark steel armour— Silhouette Knights. This was an army of Silhouette that gave the illusion of extending into the other end of the horizon. They were gathered here in orderly formation.
This was one of the renowned great countries within the ‘Western League of Nation, Occident’— the capital of the Žaloudek Kingdom. The extravagant palace was situated in the middle of the capital, and the ground paved with stone slabs extended to its front. If one looked from the balcony jutting out from the front of the palace, he would be able to view the entire plaza carpeted by black.
On the balcony were several figures, two men and one woman. They had been watching the gathering of dark knights since just now, and finally, a young man walked forward. He was a youth about 25 years old, giving off the impression of great competence.
In concert with his steps, the low pulsing sound of the giant knights gradually quieted down. The intake valves of the Ether Reactors were suppressed, and the Crystal Tissues didn’t make any sound, the entire place fell into dead silence. Seeing the dark Silhouette Knights motionless like statues, the young man nodded with satisfaction, and spoke calmly— His voice was broadcasted to every corner of the plaza through a certain device.
“‘Black Knights’, the pride of our nation that stands proudly in the west! We have finally reached this moment, and my heart is deeply moved.”
The first son of King Baldomero Bilt Žaloudek, Carlitos Emden Žaloudek paused, and surveyed the plaza slowly. His narrow eyes that gave the impression of being sharp were full of energy, and he wanted to convey his determination to everyone.
“Gentlemen, as you know, our Dear Leader, His Majesty Baldomero is bed ridden due to illness, and during the times of our early forebears, our lands were split due to despicable acts of treason. And now is the time to rebuilt our nation, and make our Kingdom great again! The regrets of my father pains me, his son, deeply! We have to inherit the will of His Majesty!”
Clank, clank, the Black Knights knocked their weapons on the ground, expressing their consent wordlessly. Carlitos was pleased with what he saw, and continued:
“In the past, these western lands are united under only one nation and one king. I am sure that all of you know, the name of that nation was ‘Father Aburdene’, and the league of nations in modern times… Our Kingdom of Žaloudek, Kingdom of Kuscheperca, The Allied Union of Rocard and the ‘Eleven Flags’. However, those are just splitted remnants of that giant nation.”
His tone became agitated, and his hands started gesturing wildly as he preached to the Black Knights:
“Father Aburdene expelled the Demon Beast with its power and ruled humanity, founding a utopian country! But the ambitions of fools burned this ideal to the ground, how can we not lament this loss!? We, the Kingdom of Žaloudek is the nation that inherited the bloodline of the fallen grand nation. We have the responsibility, and the duty to fulfill the grudges of our ancestors!”
In response to Carlitos raising his arm, the Black Knights started moving. They turned from statues to soldiers of dark steel, stomping their feet and banging their shields in support of their master. The uniform sound of clashing on the stone slabs reverberated throughout the plaza, and the ground rumoured loudly.
Carlitos raised his hand again, stopping the fervent movements of the Black Knights, and the army of steel reverted to silence again.
“The time has come.”
This was said calmly, but reached the heart of the listeners with deep passion. All the pilots controlling the Black Armour looked at their Holo Monitor with feverish eyes.
“For us to unite the great Empire that fragmented dishonourably— That time has come!”
The knights burst out a roar, and the noise of the revving of the Ether Reactor shook the very air. No one could be certain what was being said, as the emotions started burning.
“We will take back our lands with the entire force of the Black Knights! Gentlemen, to war!”
Carlitos was the acting monarch in place of his father, and his words were equivalent to the will of King Baldomero Bilt Žaloudek. The pilots spurred by the prospect of invading their enemies maneuvered the strongest Silhouette Knights, shaking the ground with their every step.
C.E. 1281. With the coming of spring, the Žaloudek Kingdom declared war against the Allied Union of Rocard. One week after their declaration, Žaloudek Kingdom mobilized more than half of their forces— six knight orders with the Black Knights, the Green Bronze Claw Knights and the Bronze Fangs Knights in the lead. They formed two divisions of about 600 Silhouette Knights, then marched to the borders.
And so began the total war that ravages the league of nations in the west— named by those in the future as ‘Western Grand Storm’’ started.
“Allied Union of Rocard didn’t even last a month…”
In the capital of Kuscheperca Kingdom— Delvincourt, within the palace situated at its center, there was an exceptionally large audience hall. The King— Aukusti Vario Kuscheperca was seated on the delicately crafted throne as he said that with a bitter expression.
The reason his brows were furrowed deeply was because of a report from the western borders this morning. Its content was simple— the Allied Union of Rocard had fallen. The speed at which it had fallen was beyond the expectations of the Kuscheperca Kingdom which had been earnestly scouting out the situation since the declaration of war by Žaloudek.
“The Allied Union of Rocard might just be a coalition of minor states and far inferior to us in national power… But there should be proficient in defending through long years of experience.”
“According to reports, Žaloudek relied completely on brute force in battle, and broke through from the front without using any tactics.”
“They might be a great nation, but for Žaloudek to actually possess such power…”
King Aukusti listened to the discussion of his gathered subjects without a hint of emotion. The two largest countries amongst the Western League of Nations were Žaloudek Kingdom and Kuscheperca Kingdom. Their borders weren’t connected, with several states of the Allied Union of Rocard standing between them. Caught in between the two giant nations, these countries so small that a gust of wind might unroot them only survived so long because they played the role of being a ‘buffer zone’.
They did their best as small states to form a union, and made use of the military competition between the two nations to keep both sides in check, and maneuver between them deftly. However—
“This means that something happened in Žaloudek. Something boosted their power drastically, strong enough to spur their expansionist ambition.”
When they heard King Aukusti make his conclusion in a low voice, the subjects looked at each other. They couldn’t imagine what caused this situation, and this wasn’t the only thing they had to worry about. After the fall of the Allied Union of Rocard, there wasn’t any news that Žaloudek had stopped their march— In fact, the reports showed that the opposite had happened.
“Their opponent might be a small nation, but they just finished a war with another country. And yet they want to attack us? No matter how strong that nation is, that is too foolhardy.”
Leaving Rocard aside, the Kuscheperca Kingdom was a great power and a thorn in Žaloudek’s eyes. Even a great nation like Žaloudek didn’t have the prowess to conquer both countries consecutively, which was why the Western League of Nations could keep their peace. In other words, something happened in Žaloudek Kingdom that was big enough to overturn this status quo.
The thought that ‘Kuscheperca Kingdom will be in grave danger if we don’t solve this mystery’ flashed through King Aukusti’s mind. He couldn’t shake off this ominous feeling, but he couldn’t show any weakness as the King.
“No matter what, since they are coming, we have to fight back.”
After hearing King Aukusti made his resolve, the gathered aristocrats all nodded nervously, with the faces of those with territories in the west showing the most bitter face. After all, the pride of the Žaloudek Kingdom, the Black Knights would be attacking their territory soon.
“Muster our forces in Silda Trider with haste. Let the invaders know that they should return to whence they came from and reevaluate their own power!”
Silda Trider was the defensive line in Kuscheperca Kingdom, known as the absolute defense line of Kuscheperca. They will be using these forts as their base to engage the Žaloudek army. After the King issued a clear order, the nobles carried out his will hurriedly.
That might be so, but Žaloudek should already know about Silda Trider, and couldn’t break through no matter how large a force they committed. Are they confident of breaking through it…?
As he watched the aristocrats, King Aukusti’s heart darkened. Unable to shake off the gloom of his heart, his cast his gaze to empty space as if he was looking at the walls of the grand fortress in the far west.
After decimating the Rocard states in a blink of an eye, the Žaloudek Kingdom built on their victory and march towards Kuscheperca Kingdom.
The area where western Kuscheperca Kingdom borders the Allied Union of Rocard was a vast plain known as Bastol. It had few barriers, a terrain that was easy to attack and difficult to defend. But the Kuscheperca Kingdom used its national power to construct tall and long walls here, and these walls were known as the First Shield of Silda Trider, Silda Uxia.
The sturdy walls weren’t just several times taller than Silhouette Knights, there was also a fortress city behind it. With the combined defensive potential of the both of them, it was claimed that even an army of a thousand Silhouette Knights wouldn’t be able to overcome it.
In the face of the world renowned great wall that was the physical manifestation of Kuscheperca Kingdom’s national power, the Žaloudek army also spread its units out and built a large camp. Both sides deployed their entire forces in the very first battle. In the center of the plains dyed black by the Žaloudek formation, two figures surveyed the stone walls that covered their entire field of vision as they conversed:
“As expected of one of the famous Silda Trider, it looks like a difficult fortress to capture for us as well.”
“Hmmp, it’s just a symbol of fear. Afraid of losing their lands, so they closed their gates like tortoises.”
One of them resembles the first prince of Žaloudek, but looked younger and had an arrogant aura about him.
His name was Cristóbal Hasslo Žaloudek. As his name suggest, he was the younger brother of Carlitos, the second prince of Žaloudek and the Commander-in-Chief of this expedition. The burly middle aged man besides him was Doroteo Mardones, who didn’t belong to any Knight Order, and was Cristóbal’s strategist.
Between the tense atmosphere of the two armies, the two of them were evaluating Silda Uxia casually as if they were chattering idly. They could see clearly from their position that the Kuscheperca Army was deployed in front of the fortress. After all, no matter how sturdy a fortress was, it would be broken if attacked relentlessly, so the Kuscheperca Army couldn’t rely solely on a defensive battle.
As they watched the Kuscheperca Army that was ready to repel the Žaloudek invaders, Carlitos revealed a cruel smile, like a beast ready to pounce.
“So Kuscheperca adopted a defensive formation huh. Just as we expected, Your Highness.”
“It’s pitiful that they can only rely on cheap tricks. Alright, I’m fine with both sides staring at each other… But it would be unpleasant if they think we are cowards. Let’s start a fight.”
“Yes my liege.”
His order was enacted the next day. With the rising of the sun, the Žaloudeks marched forth. Accompanied by bugles and gongs, the Black Knights advanced in neat formation. Rank by rank, the majestic march of the Žaloudek army gave the Kuscheperca Army the illusion that a black wall was moving towards them.
“So that is the new machine models of Žaloudek huh… How huge…”
The pilots on the Kuscheperca military model ‘Resvant’ all held their breath because of the grand formation advancing on them. Their comment on the size of the enemy machines weren’t a metaphor, the latest Silhouette Knight model of the Žaloudek Army, the ‘Tyrant’ was at least a head taller than the Resvant. The Tyrant had fearsome armour and unbelievable power output, their entire body gave off a power that was on the verge of exploding.
Seeing that the Žaloudeks were attacking, the Kuschepercas prepared to engage. Silda Uxia launched the first long distance attack, the rain of stone launched by the catapults rained down on the Žaloudek armour. It wouldn’t be strange if such attacks could crush the Resvant along with their shields. But the Tyrant deflected the attack easily with their raised shields. Just how strong was the newest Žaloudek model? The Kuschepercas were stunned that the catapult attack didn’t have any effect.
Soon, the Žaloudek army moved into range of Silhouette Arms, and the magic projectiles from both sides changed the surrounding terrain. Shortly after, the Tyrants charged right into the Resvant formation. To avoid friendly fire, the catapult attack stopped. The Tyrants tossed their shields aside and engaged in melee attack. The sound of the two armies clashing broke out in the simple defensive structure built in front of the fortress.
“W-What’s with these guys… So tough! Weapons are useless against them!?”
“Damn it, my sword is bouncing off them…! Arrghh!?”
In no time, the battle turned one sidedly. The Tyrants completely showed their overwhelming power. The incredibly strong armour of the Tyrants blocked the swords of the Resvants effortlessly, and they destroyed the Resvants with one heavy swing of their warhammer. In the face of the onslaught of such tight ranks, the Kuscheperca couldn’t do anything except shuffling back.
The power of Žaloudek’s new model machine was greater than the Kuscheperca feared. Originally, the performance between the Žaloudek and Kuscheperca’s machine wasn’t too different, but there had obviously been a revolutionary technology breakthrough in Žaloudek recently. Even if they knew that, it was no consolation for Kuscheperca that was losing the battle badly.
“Damn it, the Žaloudek bastards are already climbing the walls…!”
“We can’t hold the line if this goes on… Fall back! Fall back and defend the fortress!!”
Moments later, only the foreboding black armours and crimson flames were left on the Bastol plains. Scattered all over the surroundings were the debris of Resvants. In contrast, the wreckages of the Black Knights were scant. The one sided massacre left the Kuscheperca army no choice other than retreat. Fortunately, the Black Knight’s heavy armour and massive power output were offset by their low mobility, so they couldn’t catch up to the retreating Kuscheperca army, who were able to escape from the devastating hammer blow.
As they watched the enemy that covered the entire plains, even though the Kuschepercas were behind the famed infallible walls, the soldiers still fell into despair and uneasiness. The Žaloudek overwhelmingly powerful new model— in the face of that black tsunami, even the renowned impregnable Silda Uxia couldn’t stand the assault forever. For the first time, they had doubts on how impregnable the fortress was, and dispatched a messenger with the battle report to the capital urgently, along with the hopes of all the soldiers in the fort.
The Žaloudek forces that advanced to the walls calmly prepared to lay siege. Compared to the panicking Kuscheperca army, they were so calm that it was terrifying, showing no signs of excitement about forcing their enemy to a desperate situation, or any rashness with their prey right before them. The only exception was the Commander-in Chief at the base behind them— Cristóbal, who was laughing heartily.
“Hahaha, how delightful! They must be sending out their horses in a panic right now!”
“That is only expected, Your Highness, what should we do next? Even the elite Black Knights couldn’t do anything to such a high wall.”
“Why are you asking even though you know the answer. Just make a show of attacking the walls relentlessly as planned. They will pool all their forces here sooner or later, without knowing that they are exposing their weak point.”
When he heard Cristóbal make an ominous prediction about the future of Kuscheperca, Doroteo could only answer with a wry smile.
The urgent message that arrived after exhausting several horses to death cast an air of emergency onto the capital of Kuscheperca once again.
“The strength of Žaloudek is incomparable to how they were in the past, we can’t fend them off even if we give everything we have… If this goes on, it will just be a matter of time before Silda Uxia falls…!”
The messenger who was absolutely dejected kept bowing his head onto the ground, and the leaders of Kuscheperca who were watching him all turned pale. King Aukusti was worried because his ominous feeling became reality, but he tried his best to keep a calm demeanor.
“Damn Žaloudeks… I was wondering where their confidence stemmed from, to think they are that powerful. Are their Silhouette Knights really that strong.”
“They are truly fearsome armoured monsters, we will be struck down if we took them on from the front… And the core of their strategy is to win by numbers, so there aren’t any flaws to exploit.”
The King sighed deeply in his heart, and leaned by on his throne weakly. For them, Silda Uxia was an impregnable existence. Even though the name Silda Trida meant that there were Silda Kaksla (Second Shield Fortress) and Silda Kormeda (Third Shield Fortress), their defensive capability weren’t as great as Silda Uxia. It would be foolhardy to engage the enemy in a straight fight too. After taking into account the existence of the fortress, the combat prowess between the two armies was obvious, and there were limited countermeasures that could be taken.
“Your Majesty, I propose alerting the western 15 counties, and gather our forces!”
When he heard the suggestion by a western aristocrat of Kuscheperca Kingdom, King Aukusti nodded grimly. Mustering the forces was a simple and practical method, and the Silhouette Knights of Kuscheperca, the Resvants, couldn’t match the enemy, and would need the advantage of numbers.
The Žaloudek’s Tyrants wield extraordinary prowess, and it would be impossible to break through the heavily armoured formation from the front. They had experienced this already. So they had to take them out one at a time by luring them to the fortress behind Silda Uxia. By thinning the enemy, there would definitely be weak points. It goes without saying that this plan would require great sacrifices. After discussing for a very long time, they couldn’t come up with a better alternative.
The meeting ended in a heavy mood, and King Aukusti retired to his chambers. He was known to be calm and gentle, but he couldn’t keep his cool anymore. When he was alone, he took off mask of serenity and slammed his fist onto the table.
“This Kingdom finally became prosperous after such a long period of peace… And such national crisis strikes…”
Žaloudek Kingdom was shrouded in a strange air since long ago, but didn’t make any major moves in the last decade. Now that he thought about it, they were probably preparing for this horrific invasion all this while. As a King, he failed to see through this and let down his guard in such time of peace, which was even more inexcusable.
“But I will settle this crisis myself! I mustn’t leave this war to that ‘child’...!”
King Aukusti made up his mind and lifted his head. Suddenly, in this royal chamber devoid of anyone but him, a voice called out to him.
King Aukusti turned in surprise, and before him was a beautiful blooming flower that was in the form of a human. She was King Aukusti’s only daughter, first in the line of succession, ‘Elenora Miranda Kuscheperca. She had a sorrowful expression as she walked to her father’s side.
“Father, I heard about it. The attacks of Žaloudek are strong, and has shakened the defences in the west…”
“Don’t worry, Eleanora. Our Silda Trider is invincible, and the western lords are gathering their forces to counter attack, we will drive those unruly ruffians away soon.”
The twisted face of the monarch reverted to his gentle expression in an instant. Instead of the dignity of a king, he looked closer to a father soothing the uneasiness of his daughter. Eleonora will be 16 this year, and had lived in a peaceful environment since birth, and she was raised into a gentle and refined lady. Her personality was the furthest thing from violent, and as she was the only child of the King, Aukusti intentionally kept distressing news from her.
“...You are right, father. I can rest easy after hearing you say that.”
Eleanora who never doubted her father showed a gentle smile like sunshine in spring. After chatting a while more, the King watched the back of his departing daughter and muttered softly:
“That’s right, there won’t be a problem. I will take care of this war, and not let this fall on your shoulders.”
Unexpectedly, there were signs that the two armies separated by Silda Uxia would be engaging in a long war.
Žaloudek displayed overwhelming strength and devastated the Kuscheperca, but they didn’t seem enthusiastic on breaking down the tough walls of Silda Uxia. With the Tyrant they were piloting, it was possible for them to destroy the wall. On top of that, there weren’t any defences in front of the walls, leaving it literally unprotected. However, the Žaloudeks was moving sluggishly. The Kuscheperca army couldn’t fathom this behaviour, but it was a good chance for Kuscheperca who were at a disadvantage. Reinforcement from all over the Kingdom was sent with urgency, and they were starting to gather around the fortress.
And so, the battle at the national borders dragged on for a month, and it had been two months since Žaloudek began its invasion. In this time, the attack of the Žaloudeks slowly but surely damaged Silda Uxia. There were many cracks in the walls that were the pride of Kuscheperca, and it wouldn’t be surprising if it collapsed at any moment.
Behind it was the Kuscheperca army that had been gathered completely, and they were relieved in finishing to muster before the walls fell. The air was thick with the scent of an inevitable battle, with the combined forces on either side of the walls exceeding one thousand. A large scale battle that was rarely seen could break out at any moment.
Even though it happened on the other side of the wall, news of such a large enemy force gathering spread to the Žaloudeks naturally. This was the moment Cristóbal had been waiting for, and he issued the order with a smile— the command to execute the secret mission that would decide the course of this battle.
“It is time, summon the Steel Wing Knights! Fufu, I will be moving out too, we will head straight into the heart of the enemy!”
“Yes Sire! I will do so at once!”
That’s right, Žaloudek who possessed such powerful forces and the Kuscheperca army who mustered an army to match— They were waiting for such a balance, and the moment when the Kuschepercas gathered in large numbers to overcome the strength difference between their individual machines.
And so, during a night with dim moonlight, Žaloudek’s ‘new weapon’ became one with the darkness and started their assault, without the Kuscheperca army noticing.
The center of the capital of Kuscheperca, Delvincourt, was far from the western borders. It had great national powers, and the long term stable political climate spurred the rapid growth culturally. And so, Delvincourt was one of the most prosperous cities in the west. However, the streets lined with elegant brick buildings lost its usual hustle and bustle, and the entire city was shrouded in uneasiness. News of the Žaloudek army threatening their national safety had reached the capital through various channels, and with the war going badly, all the pedestrians had grim faces.
On this day, one of the sentries on the outer wall of the city felt uneasiness by the unusually quiet night. Only the crackling of the torches used for lighting could be heard in the darkness. His attention was drawn by the sudden flow of the clouds and stopped. It wasn’t easy to determine the flow of the clouds in the dark night, and he gave up a short moment later. Thinking this was probably his worries about the Žaloudek invasion playing tricks on his mind, he felt ashamed for being so easily spooked and returned to his patrols.
However, his instinct wasn’t wrong.
The sound of canvas being blown by the wind came from somewhere, and the unnaturally loud noise of the wind seemed wrong to him. He was standing on a wall way above ground level and didn’t felt any wind, so where did the sound of canvas come from?
He felt a chill down his back. Taking out a whistle from his pocket and holding it with his lips, he surveyed the surroundings tensely, determined to not miss any slight movements. It wasn’t long before he witnessed an incredible sight.
Coincidentally, moonlight shone through the thick clouds as if they were parted by a giant hand. The pale moonlight fell onto the colossal figure that was advancing through the sky. The whistle fell from the wide open mouth of the sentry and the first thing he questioned was his eyes, then his sanity. The colossal figure parted the wind in its wake could only be described as a ‘ship’. His common sense was sounding alarm bells. Ships should be a transport vessel that floats on water, and definitely couldn’t fly in the sky. On top of that, how could such a colossal object take flight?
It didn’t appear black because of the backdrop of the moon, but because the ship itself was painted a dark shade that blended right into the night. Even the two ‘sails’ on either side of the ship were dyed completely black, that’s why the sentry only noticed it at such close range.
As he stood in place stiffly, the floating black ship continued getting closer. In this windless night, only the vicinity of the ship had wind that was blowing in the direction it was traveling in. It was too close to hide its presence, and only the details of the external part of the ship could be made out. The sentry who was just one step from falling into panic made his last act of reason, a cry came out between his chattering teeth in place of the whistle.
“S-Someone…! T-There are intruders… No, it’s a ship. A black ship is attacking from the sky!!”
During the time the sentry stumbled away, the flying ship that was still approaching was about to cross the walls. One ship. No, two ships, three ships— Behind the black ship spotted by the sentry, there were identical flying ships following behind. A total of ten vessels, a large fleet. As they watch the vessels appeared one after another, the people on the ground fell into panic. No one could believe it, and when they witness the sight for themselves, they would be frightened into silence. After that, when they could make out the banner of Žaloudek on the sails, they would regain their voices in the form of screams.
This was the ace of the Žaloudek Kingdom, Steel Wing Knights, a special knight order made up of the first functional flying ships in this world, ‘Levitate Ships’.
The shape of the Levitate Ships was strange, as if a seaborne ship had been flipped upside down. Sails had been raised on either side of the ship, allowing it to advance with the wind. On the smooth top of the Levitate Ship— which was the bottom of seafaring ships— there was a part jutting up, which was the bridge which housed the command center of the ship. Inside the bridge, all sorts of mechanical parts were exposed, making it look messy.
There was a slightly elevated seat in the middle of the bridge. That was the seat of the captain, but someone unexpected was seated there right now— the Second Prince Cristóbal who should be at the western border of Silda Uxia was here.
“Kuscheperca wimps, scrambling around like pigs that had been pricked in the butt!”
“Anyone who didn’t know about the existence of Levitate Ships would be this surprised… What? Ugh… Your Highness, the spotters below sent a report saying the number of lights in the city had increased, they are probably preparing to engage us.”
“That is just futile resistance, out sword is already at their necks. Very well, let’s begin. All ships slow your advance!”
After receiving Cristóbal’s orders, the soldiers in the bridge opened the steel cover on the walls that revealed steel pipes, and shouted the orders into them. The orders would be transmitted to all parts of the ship through the sound relay equipment.
“Attention figurehead! Reverse the direction of the Blow Engine. Retract the sail after slowing down, prepare to defend against ground attacks!”
“Figurehead acknowledge, reversing direction of Blow Engine.”
At the bow of the ship, a statue with the top half of a Silhouette Knight could be seen. It might be a little obnoxious to use it as a figurehead of a ship, but on closer inspection, the head of the knight was actually moving. The part known as the figurehead wasn’t just a simple statue, but the top half of a Silhouette Knight was grafted there. The Silhouette Arms in its hands created whirlwinds around the Levitate Ship, changing the ship’s course. This was the true reason why there was sound of the wind in this windless night.
The decelerating ship glide across the sky, passing over the walls easily and looming over the castle behind it easily.
As for the castle in the center of the capital, the guard garrison were panicking. That wasn’t strange, since no one knew how to fight a ship flying in the sky. They could only follow the defence procedure of a night raid and increase the number bonfires, not even realizing that this would allow the enemy to see them and attack more clearly.
Inside the bridge of the Levitate Ship, Cristóbal was laughing his ass off at the foolishness of the enemy. He drew the sword on his waist as if he couldn’t sit still anymore, and got up from the captain seat with a leap.
“Gentlemen of the Steel Wing Knights, pride of our nation! Tonight, we will take the capital of these fools!! Offer me your best!”
The soldiers started moving to carry out his command. The communication soldier relayed orders through the communication pipe, and the entire crew of the Levitate Ship acted in accordance.
“Orders! Orders! Begin air dropping Tyrants, start the landing preparation! Pilots standby inside the cockpit!”
“Starting airdrop procedures, injecting air into the Etheric Levitator!”
In the middle of the ship was a large machine, the heart of the Levitate Ship itself— the Etheric Levitator. Many soldiers surrounded it, staring at the gauges as they adjusted a series of levers. The Etheric Levitator was a powerful but delicate machine. If anything went wrong, the entire ship would crash into the ground. Hence, they need to be as swift and careful as possible. The craftsmen wiped away the sweat on their palms after accomplishing their goal.
“Report! All Tyrants are manned, airdrop preparations complete!”
“Dilution rate is 5.21, machine is stable, descending speed is good!”
Cristóbal listened to the report of the soldiers and deepened the smile on his face. And finally, he received the report he had been waiting for—
“Spotters report that the distance with the land is within 30! Within airdrop range, there aren’t any attacks from the ground yet!”
“Excellent, glory to the vanguard! Open the bottom hatch! Steel Wing Knights, attack!!”
The flat armoured bottom of the Levitate Ship opened, revealing several dark holes. Immediately after that, Silhouette Knights flew out along with the rattling sound of chains. No matter how sturdy a Silhouette Knight was, it would be decimated if it fell from such a height, so the altitude of the ship needed to be lowered, and crane lift would be needed to slow their descent midway.
After they were close enough to the ground, the Tyrants unbuckled the chains and landed with a cloud of dust. Because of the problem with weights, each vessel had the special roster of 2 platoons (6 machines) of Silhouette Knights. It was a much smaller scale than the army at the west, 60 black towering knights still appeared in the capital of Kuscheperca. This was the first time in history that Levitate Ships used airborne tactics. In the face of the attack that defied common sense, the capital of Kuscheperca couldn’t defend itself.
A few hours after Žaloudek launched its sneak attack, one of the prosperous cities of the west— Royal capital Delvincourt was ablaze, a hellish place where the citizens scrambled to hide. Black steel giants traversed the streets lined with brick buildings as the garrison knights of the capital city fell one after another. An adequate amount of defenders had been stationed around the city, but they didn’t expect the enemy to attack directly from the air. And so, only one battalion (60 machines) rushed on scene immediately after realizing something was amiss.
“Damn it, what kind of heavy armour is this!? The Resvants are no match for them!!”
Just a swing of the warhammer by the Tyrants clad in black armour would send a Resvant flying along with its shield. After hearing about the situation at the borders, the royal guards were already prepared to face powerful foes. But the difference was beyond their imagination, and were on a completely different level from them. The vast gulf between the Tyrants and the Resvants was obvious to them.
Even so, the royal guards didn’t give up. A group was about to surround and attack the Tyrants that were moving in small groups, attempting to use numbers to make up for firepower. But when they were tightening the encirclement, a suspicious black figure that was obviously different from Tyrants came running over the roofs of the buildings. The dark figure raised the sharp claw at the end of its arm, and swiped down the head of a Resvant. The size was obviously that of a Silhouette Knight, but its appearance was strange for a Silhouette Knight designed after the form of a human in armour. Its torso was really slender and its arms long and twisted.
“What’s with these guys!? Are they from Žaloudek too!?”
The surprise attack of the black figure caused some confusion, but the Resvant team still attempted to counter. The black figure dodged the attacks easily as if it was mocking them, its movement surprisingly agile. Using the moment when the Resvant was unbalanced, the arm of the black figure ‘reach over’ violently, its claw piercing the abdomen of the Resvant just like that. The Resvant caught off guard didn’t even have the chance to evade and was silenced.
“Damn it, how dare you…!”
After seeing their comrade pierced by the arm of the alien, the other Resvants charged at the black figure in a fit of rage. It might be nimble, but with the burden on its arm, it won’t be able to utilize its speed. The Resvants couldn’t let this opportunity go.
But before they could do so, another black figure blocked their way. It was a Silhouette Knight with a similar slender body. The Resvant pilot who was blocked clicked his tongue, and used his momentum to slash at the new opponent. When the strike infused with wrath was about to hit the black figure, something slightly reflective flew out from the back of the figure, hitting the entire body of the Resvant with a hard blow. It destroyed the Resvant’s Crystal Tissue, stopping it like a puppet with its strings cut.
“Hmmp, what a let down.”
The diminished Resvant group lost their ability to keep up the encirclement, and the Tyrants started their counter attack. The Kuscheperca knights couldn’t do anything and lost their lives to the heavy warhammers. The black figures left the routing Resvant unit behind and melted into the darkness once more.
“... Kuscheperca is finished… Work hard and earn more merits then.”
One of the Silhouette Knight appearing to be the commander gave its orders, and the other black figures nodded slightly and moved out. They hurdle buildings nimbly as they searched for their next prey. The next target of the black unit melting into the night was the core of the capital— The royal castle.
King Aukusti could feel slight tremors from his throne, which meant that war was upon him. He had received plenty of bad news all this while, and no one could grasp the entirety of the battle yet, confirming what was happening where. Or rather, the entire capital had become a battlefield.
The Kuscheperca army committed their forces before understanding the situation, and ended up in the foolish state of their army being dispersed. They couldn’t do anything and were being slaughtered by the small elite Tyrant teams.
The worst outcome flashed across the mind of King Aukusti, and is face turned gloomy. At this moment, a soldier with a gloomier face arrived with news: “A bigger flying ship is heading this way.”
— It was certain that the enemy wanted to end this decisively.
“Is this the end…”
King Aukusti’s tired mutter was lost in the noise of his surroundings. He was secretly grateful that no one heard that and stood up.
“Gentlemen, looks like we will have to make the final decision.”
This was the capital, there was no retreat route for them. If the capital falls, the country was as good as destroyed. That was why the soldiers gave their all in resistance, but it was futile as the urban battle already decided the defeat of Kuscheperca, and the net was being tightened around them. They could use the castle as the last bastion of defence, but during the national emergency, all the defences were focused on the sturdy walls of the city, and the castle itself lack defensive capabilities. Since the enemy bypassed the walls and landed directly inside the capital, this was just a futile struggle. ‘Kuscheperca Kingdom will fall’— King Aukusti accepted this fact.
There was something he had to do. He walked to his daughter who looked uneasy, and surprised himself with how calm he said these words:
“The castle is surrounded. If this goes on, all the royalty would fall into their hands. Before that, you need to hurry and escape through the hidden passageway.”
“W-What about you, father!?”
“I… am the king of Kuscheperca, I have the obligation to fulfil my final duty.”
Tears welled in Eleanora’s eyes. She threw away the etiquettes she had been taught since birth, and jumped into his father’s arms.
“How… How can I do that, father!? Please run with me!! There is still time…”
“I can’t, Eleanora.”
King Aukusti pushed Eleanora away gently, looking straight into her eyes and rebuking her in a gentle voice:
“If the king is the first one to run, then I won’t be able to face the knights who are fighting with their life on the line. I will be mocked if I hand over the ‘King’s Mount’ over without a scratch.”
Her words were stuck in her throat. King Aukusti hugged Eleanora who was crying uncontrollably, and shifted his gaze to the person standing beside her:
“Can I request something difficult from you, Martina?”
“Of course, I will protect Princess Eleanora with my life.”
The daughter of the former regent of Fremmeria, Martina Alt Kuscheperca, who married, Fernando Nevarez Kuscheperca, the younger brother of King Aukusti, nodded firmly. She then called out to the other girl who was present:
“Isadora, you two go first.”
“Yes mother. Come, we need to be quick Eleanora, there isn’t time…”
Martina’s daughter, Isadora Adalina Kuscheperca forcefully pulled away Eleanora who refused to leave. Even though Eleanora screamed and resisted, she was no match for the merciless Isadora. King Aukusti who watched them leave had a face of regret.
“My apologies, Martina, for troubling you.”
“Not at all, Your Majesty… I am not speaking up for Eleanora, but wouldn’t it be better for Your Majesty to leave with us? The King’s Mount is just a Silhouette Knight, compared to your safety…”
“That’s true, but you have seen the enemy right, Martina? A ship sailing in the sky had never been seen before. It is difficult to fight an airborne enemy.”
King Aukusti looked out into the night through the windows, and before him was a black levitated ship illuminated by the blazing flames on the ground. The ship that was one size larger than the others was also painted black, but on a closer look, a large banner could be seen on it. There was no mistake, it was the colours of Žaloudek Kingdom.
“... If there aren’t any royalty in the castle, the Žaloudeks will conduct a search with that vessel. It is not that easy to escape through the secret passage and hide from an aerial search, so the King has to be here. In order to draw their attention here, and to slow them down.”
Martina looked at the unusually calm Aukusti, and understood that he was ready to meet his end.
“And so, the heavy burden will fall on that child… Seems that I am neither a good king nor father.”
“That’s not true…”
“Ever since my wife died, I doted that child very much. It will be fine under normal circumstances, but I am not sure if she could handle such a situation… Martina, can I leave her to you?”
“Alright, I promise you that child and I will repel the invaders one day.”
“I’m counting on you. Alright, we don’t have time to chatter… Please tell Fernando that I will be leaving the rest to him.”
Martina bit her lips for an instant, but she composed herself and curtsied, then chased after her daughter, leaving the man on his throne. King Aukusti closed his eyes for a long while, and when he realized that the ship was even closer, he showed a hearty smile.
“They might be accursed invaders, but their abilities aren’t bad. However, don’t look down on us…!”
The King issued his final decree—
“I will take the field! Prepare the King’s Mount!”
The sound of battle that had been raging on since the invasion of the Levitate Ship stopped gradually. Most of the Kuscheperca forces had been eliminated, their figures gone from the capital. Black armoured knights tightened their encirclement around the royal castle, even the Levitate Ships was closing in from above.
At this moment, the gates of the castle opened grandly, and Silhouette Knights appeared in formation. The Resvants were adorned with decorative sashes, as if they were about to participate in a ceremony. The machines garrisoned in the castle wasn’t much in terms of fighting prowess, and committing them to battle highlighted how desperate the Kuscheperca army was.
However, the Žaloudek army ignored the Resvants, focusing their attention to the extravagant Silhouette Knight in the center of the formation— The King’s Mount of Kuscheperca Kingdom, Kartoga Ol Cauchard. Unfortunately, the moonlight was dim and aside from the reflection of the torches, it was hard to appreciate its beautiful designs. But it was enough for the Levitate Ship to target it.
Standing in the middle of the Resvants group which couldn’t hide their unease, the Kartoga Ol Cauchard — King Aukusti who was piloting it looked up at the giant ship in the sky calmly.
“I heard King Baldomero had fallen sick in recent years, he can’t be riding in that thing…”
The defenseless Kartoga Ol Cauchard walked forth alone. No one attacked the king, and a ship landed on the road in front of the castle. Unable to fathom how such a colossal ship could move so quietly, King Aukusti watched eagerly.
“Ara, seems like the other party accepted. It couldn’t be helped…”
The machine with a yellowish brown base colour and shining brightly drew its sword. With the blade pointing skywards, it held the sword before it as if in prayer. It then thrust out the sword straight ahead, then turned it and stabbed it into the ground. The Žaloudek army held their breath, this was an ancient ritual of challenging a formal duel. Since it was a duel requested by the King’s Mount Kartoga Ol Cauchard, there was only one man present who was qualified to answer.
“I am Aukusti Vario Kuscheperca, King of Kuscheperca! The commander of the Žaloudeks on that flying ship, can you hear me!?”
A machine on the Levitate Ship stood up in response to King Aukusti, the only white armoured Silhouette Knight surrounded by a sea of black.
“I will answer you! I am the son of King Baldomero of Žaloudek, Cristóbal! The commander of this punitive force! King Aukusti, I will be your opponent in place of my father, the monarch!!”
“... Oh, to think King Baldomero would hand the frontlines to a child. But as the commander, you are good enough to be my opponent! Accept my challenge then!”
“That’s what I intent to do, King Aukusti. Enough talk, let’s converse with our swords!!”
The white machine leapt, and the moment it landed, the flag machine of the Žaloudek army, Alkelorix, raised its sword and shield towards Kartoga Ol Cauchard.
“Have at you!”
The Resvants and Tyrants in the vicinity all stopped to watch the duel between these two. The strongest weapon in the world was the giant humanoid machine called Silhouette Knights. Probably because it mimicked the design of knights, it inherited many archaic and inefficient customs. ‘Duel between the command machines’— that was one such ancient custom that was especially inefficient. After all, the gate of an army, or even an entire nation would rest on the outcome of the fight.
Kartoga Ol Cauchard didn’t just look good, this personal machine of the King also had the best performance in the Kingdom. Even though King Aukusti’s skill was mediocre, it should be a match for a tyrant. However, the capability of Alkelorix was far better than Kartoga Ol Cauchard.
With a white base and gold frills, Alkelorix left a deep impression as it wield its sword in the night— Kartoga Ol Cauchard needed to give everything to take this blow. In this one-sided situation, Kartoga Ol Cauchard could only defend.
There is no chance of winning this duel too!? Damn Žaloudek… And that flying ship, just what kind of secret technology have they uncovered!?
After a few exchange, the movement of Kartoga Ol Cauchard had obviously slowed. Unable to withstand the fierce attack of Alkelorix, its Crystal Tissue was starting to crumble. This could also be attributed to the gentle personality of Aukusti and the war-like nature of Cristóbal.
Kartoga Ol Cauchard that fought on bravely was finally defeated. His frustration grew and Aukusti’s rushed swing was deflected. Alkelorix slashed at the opening, cutting deep into the abdomen of Kartoga Ol Cauchard, destroying its armour. The Crystal Tissue was severed and the core area of the machine was damaged. The intake valve broke down, destabilizing the mana supply. Unable to maintain its power output, Kartoga Ol Cauchard fell quickly, its body crashing into the ground amidst a dust cloud.
“... Ugh! W-Well done… Prince of Žaloudek, you’ve won… Come… finish this!”
King Aukusti couldn’t stand after receiving the heavy blow, and said calmly as he shook his dizzy head. Even though his words would forfeit his life, a king can’t lose shamefully.
“King Kuscheperca, I won this match, but you put up a good fight! Farewell!”
Cristóbal’s tone was full of glee, but he still gave a proper reply. At this instant, Alkelorix deployed its Back Weapon it had not used yet and fired at Kartoga Ol Cauchard. Hit at such a close range, Kartoga Ol Cauchard erupted in a flame of explosion. Pieces of its shiny armour flew all over the place, breaking the machine into parts and reducing the cockpit into ashes.
As they watched the wreckage of the King’s Mount blazing strongly, the soldiers of Kuscheperca cried out in sorrow with no regards to their appearance, then abandoned their machines and surrendered obediently. Because of their culture, the results of the duel between the commander machines were absolute no matter what the outcome may be. Although the Kuscheperca army didn’t have a choice in the first place.
Right before the break of dawn, the capital city of Kuscheperca, Delvincourt fell. At the same time, it was the end of a great nation in the west. This shocking news first spread like wildfire in the Kuscheperca Kingdom, and then shook the entire Western League of Nations.
After that, the ‘old’ Kingdom of Kuscheperca fell into chaos. It was inevitable since they lost their King, but the worse thing was the death of the upper aristocrats who had gathered at the capital which was sacked, which impacted their territory greatly. The ones who should be taking over was a mess, and the situation became worse as days went by.
The Žaloudek army seized the opportunity and made an incredibly bold move. Even though they captured the old capital, they ended up isolated in the middle of enemy grounds. Not satisfied with just the subjugation of the capital, they sent out their ace— the Levitate Ships to attack the other parts of the country. The strategy was as dangerous as walking on a tightwire, but it still ended with the complete victory of Žaloudek.
Because of the new weapon that might ‘attack from anywhere’— the debut of the Levitate Ship, the nobles of the old Kuscheperca Kingdom had to change their tactic of focusing on the defence of the borders. Realizing the threat they were facing, the strategy they adopted was simple, which was to position their defences in all the important cities. But being too wary of aerial attacks meant they couldn’t move their forces easily, and the nobles ended up trapping themselves.
The Kingdom fell into a mire after losing their king. In order to resist the Steel Wing Knights rampaging all over the nation, the nobles started withdrawing the forces they dispatched to Silda Trida. Even though the famished beasts was sharpening its claws right before them.
Seeing it from the big picture, this was a very retarded move— but the knights mustered at the fort actually obeyed this order. The citizens losing the spiritual pillar in the form of their king was a huge factor too. Since the backbone of the entire nation was flimsy, they had no choice but to narrow their defences to their home villages. In the end, they couldn’t bear seeing their home town being attacked.
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