The center was collapsing. The enemy was pouring inward. The soldiers were struggling to push back, but the enemy attack was so fierce that they could not stop it. In charge of the center were the militia, the people who had been conscripted.
They have no experience of regular warfare, and most of them have never been in a war. That’s why they fall apart so quickly. There are several major gaps in experience, tension, and skill level, but they are most noticeable immediately after the war begins.
(We need to push back as soon as possible. The morale is at its lowest point. We don’t know when they’ll run away.)
This is where they need to build their confidence. If the militia struggles, the regular soldiers will start to show their strength as well. Then the army will become even more united and strong.
In order to create a friendly rivalry, Hiro included this as a strategy in his plan.
It would not only motivate the fearful soldiers and make up for the lack of strength in the militia, but it would also lure in the enemy.
“Get out of the way, you little shit!”
“It’s a rare opportunity like this. You can’t afford not to take advantage of it, right?”
Hiro cut off the head of the enemy soldier who was approaching. The corpse collapses, spewing blood from its neck.
“For the sake of my future plans, I’ll let you guys be the food for the militia.”
A large number of angry enemies filled his vision, and a fierce yell shook the air. When Hiro lightly waved the “Heavenly Emperor” in an annoyed manner, the heads of the enemy soldiers flew off one after another, and red blood rained down on the earth.
“This is the price for doing as you please. You should know what true fear is.”
When he stepped forward, the enemy stopped moving in the face of his overwhelming dominance.
The militia charged in with swords in their hands. On the battlefield, hesitation can cost lives. Enemies were cut down, and their corpses were cruelly crushed. However, the enemy was a demon race, even if they were rotten. Some of them were so skilled that it was hard to believe they were soldiers.
“You half-breeds! How dare you defy the demon race!”
A large sword that is taller than the demon who wields it blows away the bodies of his allies and scatters their guts. Didn’t want to kill the momentum. Hiro took a light swing to catch the large sword.
Not with his sword, but with his fingers.
“It’s light. If it were pureblood, my fingers would be gone.”
“Wh… what the hell is… you?”
The demon’s face was not enraged, only astonished.
“You’re also a half-breed, after all.”
When Hiro released his finger, the big sword was freed, and the giant body staggered. Hiro quickly swung the “Heavenly Emperor.”
A soft breeze wrapped around the demon’s body――…
The neck that left the body was pulled by gravity and slammed into the ground with a dull sound.
“Now… who’s going to be my next opponent?”
When the Heavenly Emperor’s cutting edge circled around them, the enemy soldiers retreated in fear. Hiro glanced at the scene as if he were bored and then kicked the ground.
The enemy soldiers put up a desperate resistance, but in vain, only corpses were left on the road where the light blade had passed. Following the path of blood, the militia began to shout and push back the enemy forces at a furious pace. It became an inspirational message that spread to the entire army.
When he had built up a large pile of corpses, Hiro finally stopped.
“Let’s finish off this move first. With your death.”
The last of the bloody path was the enemy’s commander ― one of the three demon generals, Garius Van Sarzand. He widened his smile happily and leaped from his horse, and landed on the ground.
“It’s wonderful… to see how you managed to turn things around by going to the front lines yourself. It’s very impressive.”
Garius pulled his sword from his waist and held it aloft, exhaling quietly.
“That is why you are the descendant of the God of War. That’s what makes me excited!”
“Fearlessness lures the god of death, does it not?”
“Then let me slay you with it and show the world that I am a true warrior!”
Garius, who has opened his legs into a fighting stance, glares at Hiro.
“And you are no different. Because you are overconfident in your own power that you come out to the front like this, isn’t it? If you think you can’t be defeated, you’re no different from me. That too is conceit.”
Garius’ sword sliced through the cloudy air, but the attack did not hit Hiro.
“Thank you for your advice. But you’re mistaken. I’ve never been conceited. That’s what hurt me in the past.”
“Hmm, you’re right! First, I’m going to cut off your beautiful face!”
He stomped on the ground and attacked in all directions with his anger on his blade.
“I’ve never seen anyone so simple and easy to manipulate as you. Normally, I would have let you off the hook for your stupidity, but alas, not this time.”
When he pulled his head back, the blade passed right under his nose. He pulled his body back, twisted his body to avoid the thrust. He avoided the sword that came from the lower part of the body by kicking the trajectory. This will allow him to have more time to think, and he will be able to foresee and dodge the next attack.
In the face of an onslaught of attacks, Hiro continued to dodge without moving a step.
“…Hah, wh-what’s that?”
Garius is getting tired, and his movements are slowing down.
“How much of a difference does this make?”
Although there may be fatigue, the attack of Garius, which contains a lot of irritation, is lackluster. The large sword sank into the ground, and Hiro stepped on the blade’s tip and swung the “Heavenly Emperor.”
“I’d like to thank you for doing as you pleased at the banquet. Even the three demon generals are like this when it comes to one on one.”
As Hiro slashed his sword diagonally from the shoulder, the blade shattered Garius’s collarbone. It tore through his organs, causing him to bleed profusely. But he didn’t let himself fall; he stomped on the ground and endured.
“Gah, T-to think that I can’t even hit a single strike is just… ridiculous!”
Perhaps he has reached the limit of his endurance; he spits out a large amount of blood from his mouth and sinks to the ground.
“Ba-Baal, this is not how it works――…”
The light faded from Garius’ eyes. Cheers erupted from the surrounding allies.
Hiro turned his gaze to the second line of the enemy army. Did they detect something unusual? They were making a move.
“We won the first battle. All that remains is――.”
”Wise brother! The enemy’s second and third lines are moving! They’re coming towards us!”
It was Hugin who came riding up under Hiro. She reached out her hand to him. Hiro grabbed her hand and climbed onto the back of the horse.
“Then, let’s retreat slowly. Have you brought the flag?”
The flag that Hugin carried on the belly of the horse ― the flag of the Levering Kingdom ― was waved, and the drums were beaten with horns from the main army, which was far away. The sound of sword fights that had been occurring in various places quietly subsided. Then there was a change in the movement of the enemy’s first line ― they began to retreat now that Garius had been killed.
“We will also retreat to form a line. Also, let’s tell the troops that they don’t need to pursue.”
The distance to the enemy’s second line was sufficient. After that, if the troops who are impatient with the success of the battle do not go after them, they can retreat with enough time to prepare for the next battle.
In addition, the greater the number of surviving enemies, the greater the impact on future battles, and by taking advantage of this, they will have the opportunity to try new strategies.
Leaving behind a cheerful reply, Hugin immediately turned her horse’s head around. On the way, Munin came riding along in a good mood. His whole body is red with blood, probably because he was rampaging in the front line.
“Well, even demons are no different from humans. If they get wounded, they bleed and fall down easily.”
Hiro inwardly muttered that he could rely on him and put his gratitude into his words.
“I bet the first one will be Munin.”
“Really? I won’t have to worry about Chief Ghada getting mad at me now!”
Munin happily raised his spear and let out a shout.
“The rebel army began to rest as they built their encampment at a distance.”
Said a low-ranking soldier. Hiro, who had returned to the main camp, was now reading a report. The soldier was not sure if Hiro was listening. He looked uneasy but continued to speak.
“It seems that they have sent out the scouts… what should we do?”
Hiro turned his gaze away from the report and looked directly at the soldier. As the setting sun illuminated the ground, the snow that had fallen was tinged with red, and the armor of the soldiers gave off a color like a lingering fire.
It was not only the setting sun but also the blood that had been spilled.
“Let’s get some troops down on the perimeter and capture them. Tell that to the commanders of the seventh and tenth units.”
That’s it for the first battle. They now had to prepare for a night battle, but they probably didn’t intend to.
To the soldier who responded by slapping his right chest, Hiro put the report away in his pocket and spoke again.
“Aah… and instruct the troops to keep a vigilant eye on the surroundings.”
After watching the soldiers leave, Hiro turned to the place where the military council was to be held.
“I was hoping to cut another two or three thousand.”
The southern army was camped in an area that was covered by forest to the west and east. The place was designated in case the rebel army came after them, but it seemed to have been in vain.
He had thought that they would charge in anger, but it seems that there was some calm left in their hearts.
The soldiers were able to get some rest early, which is not so bad…
“Above all, our morale is up. And now we need to make our next move before they try to turn the tide.”
Hiro muttered to himself and entered the tent, where Claudia, Munin, and Hugin were waiting for him.
First of all, the three of them and four others, including Hiro, will hold a military council. After that, the unit commanders will come to report on the damage to their units.
“Oh, stay put. Let’s check the situation right away, shall we?”
Munin and the others were about to salute, but Hiro interrupted them and walked over to a table in the center of the room. A map of the south was spread out. The pieces that dot the map are where the traps are set.
“The first line should have lost about two thousand. If we include the lightly and seriously wounded, the number will exceed three thousand. On the other hand, we have about 1,000 injured and about 3,000 people who have the energy to fight.”
Claudia places one of the pieces on the ground where Hiro and the others are now.
“According to the intelligence report, the enemy’s main position is the same as it was when the war began, and there is no sign of movement.”
A little farther away, in an open area, a piece is placed. This is where Fraus’s main camp is located.
“They won’t break their stance to intercept us. They may have become more cautious after seeing the defeat of the first line.”
“Hmm, there’s no sign of any movement from the enemy army since we arrived here. They have been sending looting units to various places, but…”
Hugin said, and Claudia snorted in annoyance.
“I see… Then, do you think they have some ulterior motive?”
“I think it’s better to think that way… It’s too unnatural for a large army not to take advantage of it, and I think it’s reasonable to assume that they are planning something.”
“Do you think they are planning to launch a night attack?”
As Claudia gave him a look, Hiro shook his head slightly.
“If the opponent doesn’t seem to have made a move, then we’ll have to wait and see. But then they can’t move a large army because they would be detected. I don’t think a night attack is an option.”
Above all, the enemy army is being forced to reorganize after the collapse of the first line, so there is no time left to launch a night attack. Then, even if the second or third line is unharmed, they will not be foolish enough to reduce their numbers if they are planning for the future.
“If they attack us by surprise, we are ready for a night battle and have prepared some traps.”
There’s nothing to worry about. Things are going well. It’s time to make the next move.
“Since that’s the case, shall we launch a night attack?”
“I believe the opponent has taken countermeasures as well.”
Claudia responded to Hiro’s words.
It’s a strategy that has been used since ancient times to overturn the difference in numbers ― to launch a surprise attack.
But, of course, if the opponent is aware of it, it is meaningless.
“We can’t afford to lose our numbers. All we have to do is make some noise and make them upset.”
“Even if that’s the purpose of exhausting them, we don’t have the numbers; we don’t have the luxury of being able to replace them.”
On the other hand, they might be too tired to be effective in battle. The opinion was reasonable, so Hiro nodded and gave his reasons.
“It doesn’t matter; they won’t have to fight tomorrow. I’ll let the troops that worked through the night rest.”
“…They’re not going to fight?”
As Claudia frowned suspiciously, Hugin interrupted her.
“W-what do you mean by that?”
The fact that she looked somewhat flustered was probably because she didn’t understand what Hiro was trying to say. He could have told her the answer, but she would have stopped thinking for herself if he did. He wanted her to come up with the answer on her own as much as possible.
As Hiro was pondering what to do, an unknown soldier came rushing into the tent.
“…I apologize for interrupting the military council.”
The soldier said quickly, breathing hard, and took two letters out of his pocket, faltering. Hiro acknowledged them and then looked at his right arm ― there was a white cloth wrapped around it.
The number “5” was embroidered on it.
“Is it a message from the Fifth Imperial Army?”
“Yes, the Fifth Imperial Army, a direct order from the White Wolf Knights.”
The Second Prince is the commander of the White Wolf Knights, which means that he is the Second Prince’s direct messenger. The two letters that were presented to Hiro as the messenger bowed were probably from the Second Prince, his master.
Hiro took the letters, unfolded one of them, and smiled.
“It seems that only your name is written on it?”
There was no content in the letter — only the messenger’s name, indicating that he was genuine. When Hiro presented it to the messenger, the messenger’s face had turned pale, and he pressed his forehead against the ground.
“H-he wants me to wait until we meet before telling you.”
Perhaps it was because he was plotting against Hiro, a member of the royal family, but his voice trembled like a sinner awaiting his death sentence.
“Oh, don’t worry about anything. I didn’t mean to offend you.”
Hiro sat back in his chair and sighed. It’s a blank sheet of paper ― that’s what it means; it’s asking whether Hiro wants reinforcements or not.
“So where is the Second Prince now?”
“He is massing his forces near the border of the Levering Kingdom. We are ready to move at any time upon His Highness Hiro’s signal.”
“If I ask for reinforcements… how long will they be here?”
“Probably within the next eight days.”
“I see. Then I have something to tell you.”
Hiro asked Claudia for a piece of paper and handed it to the messenger.
“The rebel army has been destroyed.”
It’s not just the messenger, but Claudia and Hugin and the others were stunned.
Hiro walked up to the messenger and tapped him on the shoulder.
“It’s not a lie or anything. It’ll be over by the time you arrive at the Second Prince’s.”
The messenger looked puzzled in disbelief.
“You don’t have to leave right now. You can have a meal, recover from your fatigue, and then return.”
That was all Hiro said, and then he called out to the guards as he headed out.
“What can I do for you, sir?”
“Give him some food. And get him a healthy horse.”
“Yes, sir, then come this way, messenger-dono.”
With a puzzled look on his face, the messenger walked out of the then, urged on by the soldiers on guard.
When Hiro turned to Claudia and the others, they stared at him with a face that seemed to want him to explain.
“I’m open to questions. So let’s see how they react first.”
Hiro’s smile deepened as he looked at the map spread out on the desk.