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Schnee Fortress ― one of the fortresses that the Levering Kingdom had built in the past to strengthen its control over the south. After establishing its control over the south, it had become less important and was now a wreck.
Hiro walked between the busy soldiers to the command center.
(It’s a fortress in name only, isn’t it? I wonder if such a fragile fortress can last a day.)
Throughout history, Schnee Fortress has only been turned into a battlefield once, when the neighboring nobles raised an army in discontent with the king of the time. Since then, the fortress has not been exposed to warfare and has only been periodically repaired to repair decayed parts, with no preparations being made to protect it from outside forces.
Stepping into the command center, Hiro looked at the people inside in turn.
They immediately stood up and saluted him. Hiro also returned the salute and asked them to sit down. Hiro walked over to the desk and took the upper seat.
One of the unit commanders stood up with a nervous look on his face. He had some documents in his hands.
“As we expected, the enemy has surrounded the Schnee fortress. Princess Claudia, who had been diverted to the rear, has informed us. They are fully prepared and will launch a night attack at any time upon our signal.”
Of the three thousand, one thousand have gone around to the rear of the enemy. The purpose of this was to launch an all-out attack on the enemy’s main camp.
If the main camp falls, even if it is a large army, the chain of command will be disrupted, and they will have no choice but to run away.
In addition, when the southern army broke through the enemy’s first line, they took about three hundred pieces of equipment. The soldiers disguised with them were supposed to provoke the rebel army to fight each other. There’s no omission. Everything is going according to plan.
Hiro nodded in satisfaction and instructed the unit commander to spread out the map on the desk. The pieces were laid out. Claudia’s current position, the rebel army’s main camp, and the army’s position led by the Second Prince.
“There seems to be no sign of the Fifth Imperial Army moving. I think they’re going to sit back and watch until our victory or defeat is decided. And it seems that Munin-dono has safely met up with Princess Claudia.”
“I see. It seems to be going well.”
Hiro smiled and urged the unit commander to take a seat while he himself stood up from his chair.
“As per the plan, in another hour or so, I will send a signal to Princess Claudia to launch a night attack against the rebel army.”
“According to the reports, the enemy has tightened up the security behind them to guard against a night attack. There is a possibility that this will not be very successful… Can’t we just send out spies to do a preliminary investigation first?”
“There’s no need. We’ve already infiltrated the enemy’s camp with a lot of spies. Whether they can read us or not, we will succeed. The night attack will surely succeed.”
Hiro smiled fearlessly and took down the rebel pieces. Everyone fell silent, and in the surging silence, there was a slight sound of knocking.
The night sky was shrouded in thick clouds, the stars were shut out, and the world was shrouded in darkness. Under normal circumstances, not even a large stone falling to the ground would have been visible.
But the rebel watchtower ― Baal stood there, looking out behind the main camp.
Below him, a large number of bonfires were being lit, illuminating the area so brightly that he could see beneath his feet. Many soldiers were stationed there, their eyes glowing eerily from the flames.
The only thing they were looking at was the darkness, where no light could reach, and waiting for the enemy to attack.
“Well, I guess it’s about time…”
“Are they really coming? I think that with this kind of vigilance, they won’t try anything.”
“Prince Fraus is a worrier. The enemy will surely come. Look, you can see it.”
Baal said to the man next to him ― Fraus. His gaze went to the tip of Baal’s hand. As his blue eyes looked over, he saw that some of the soldiers were chatting.
“There’s a sense of calm in the air, even though the enemy might attack at night. And it’s not just them… There are many others who are less cautious.”
When Fraus complained, Baal only laughed, surprisingly happy.
“This is what they are trying to do. It’s not just that they’ve been trying to get our soldiers tired; it’s that they’ve been trying to get us to drop our guard and let our guard down. And tonight is the culmination of that.”
The southern army is going to attack at night. In order to make it look like they were going to launch a night attack, they had to put the enemy on high alert and exhaust them. By repeating this process over and over again, they have been able to loosen up the guard on them.
If counting the other small and medium-sized useless and insignificant measures, there are probably more than eight. Totaling all of them up, it can be said that they succeeded in lowering the morale of the rebel army. Then there was one last thing left to do.
What is going to happen now ― first of all, they are going to launch a fake night attack.
“The enemy will come at us from the front, making a loud noise.”
“Hou… what does that mean?”
When Fraus asked, the sound of horseshoes roared from ahead.
An enemy attack! A soldier’s urgent voice reached the watchtower.
However, Baal formed a quiet smile and instructed his troops to release their pre-prepared messengers to the various locations.
“It’s a lure. It’s an obvious trap. There is no need to dance around it.”
“You mean we don’t need to worry about this noise?”
“No, it’s also very well thought out. It will be a stepping stone for the next move.”
The next move was to use the sound as a signal to attack the rear using a decoy. The decoys are probably criminals who have gone on a rampage of their own ― people who will sooner or later be put to death according to the laws of the Levering Kingdom.
“We’ve lost contact with some of the plundering units. There is a strong possibility that the southern army has captured them.”
There was no room for sympathy, considering the ruthless actions they had taken in the south. The enemy will not hesitate to use them as bait.
“――Enemy shadow from the rear!”
“See, I told you it would happen.”
“It’s amazing. How is it that you can read their movements so well?”
And thanks to the large number of bonfires burning, they were able to spot the enemy’s shadow with ease.
“Release the arrows! And don’t fall prey to their schemes. Deal with them calmly, and you won’t have any problems!”
Following Baal’s instructions, the archers released their arrows. They hit one after another, but some of the horses seemed to have escaped the rain of arrows, and they crashed into the horse fence, making it impossible for them to penetrate. Baal immediately sent a detachment to investigate to see who the horsemen were.
In the meantime, Baal and Fraus descended from the watchtower.
“Next comes a powerful attack from the front.”
“In other words, the attack is supposed to be from the front, but it’s really from the rear, and even that is a lie.”
Baal’s smile deepened at Fraus’s words.
“Indeed, in other words, it’s a wave attack. More importantly, it’s a bad idea to attack the rear, where security is tight. Even a man who does not know the art of war would not make such a foolish move.”
Even a child could understand that. What is hard to understand is why the enemy would do such a thing. They were probably trying to spread out their forces as much as possible. However, if their intentions were readily apparent, it would have been easy to deal with them.
A messenger rushed up to the mounted Baal and Fraus.
“Baal-sama, when we examined the corpse of the enemy that came out from behind, we found a criminal mark on his shoulder. It seems that he was not only tied up with ropes but was also tied to a horse so that he could not move.”
“Hmm, it seems that nothing is out of the ordinary. Then blow the horn as planned! We’re going to crush the enemy forces coming at us from the front!”
He told the messenger, and not long after, horns were blown from around the area.
At the same time, the shouts coming from the front began to intensify. The battle must have begun on a full scale. Baal decided that the real battle was in front, and he began to give the order to move on.
“Now, slaughter them. Behead every last one of them.”
That line died out. At the same time, Baal’s face lit up. The reason is ― fire spewed out from the surrounding area, blasting into the sky with tremendous force.
At the same time, “Enemy attack! Enemy attack!” A voice with a hint of frustration rang out from somewhere.
“It looks like the battering ram is on fire!”
Baal glared at his flustered entourage and shouted to calm the flustered soldiers.
“Don’t panic; this is just another ploy by the enemy to disperse our forces! There is no need for siege weapons anymore! Keep the fire going, and don’t hesitate to head for the front! Concentrate your forces on the front!”
The southern army is carefully preparing ― they are trying to deceive and disperse as much of the rebel army’s forces as possible.
This is probably the work of an operative who took advantage of the opportunity to hide in plain sight when the rebel army was distracted by the night attack on the first day. It’s a brilliant move, but it’s just a desperate ploy.
The winner has already been decided. Baal’s victory was undeniable.
“If he had just stayed in the siege and played his little tricks, he might have survived a little longer.”
Baal’s expression was one of disgust, and Fraus opened her mouth grimly.
“It seems that I am not going to be able to help you here either. When will I be able to test this power?”
“We have many battles ahead of us. There is no need to be disappointed.”
He shrugged his shoulders, kicked his horse in the stomach, and began to move forward.
When he met up with the rear troops on the front line, a fierce battle was underway as the enemy seemed to be forcibly attempting to break through the center. However, thanks to the preparations they had made for a possible night attack, and more importantly, if the difference in the number of soldiers were in their favor, it would be easy to push back the southern army.
There was no disruption in the chain of command here. Coordination between the various troops seemed to be in place, and the rebel army, not wanting to miss out on the advantage, was bravely and boldly slashing at the southern army.
Pressed by the momentum, the southern army retreated. They would soon escape to the Schnee Fortress.
“I know you wanted to succeed at all costs, but this is the end of it… Let’s crush them to the ground.”
The enemy’s lines will soon collapse. All that remains is to slaughter the fleeing enemy soldiers without fail.
“Notify the entire army. Crush the enemy army!”
He ordered his entourage at his side, and the drums and horns sounded loud. Fraus, next to him, looked contentedly at the front line, which reeked of death.
“This is the end… It seems that the descendant of the God of War was not much of a problem.”
“Even though he is a descendant, he is a descendant of a short-lived human race. Their blood is extremely diluted.”
“Well… if we can defeat the descendant of the God of War, we can let the world know that the demon race is reborn.”
Baal’s body was blown forward as he was about to open his mouth to reply. Baal couldn’t react to the sudden event. When he got up without understanding the situation, shouting came from all directions.
Baal lost his balance after shouting and fell to one knee. Turning his gaze downward, he saw that an arrow had pierced his back and side.
“Where did this come from…?”
The blood trickled down the arrowhead and was sucked into the ground. His face was more confused than painful. Fraus rushed up to him with a surprised expression.
“Lord Bitenia, are you alright?”
“Yes, this is no more than a scratch. I’d rather check the situation ― but I guess it’s not necessary.”
He noticed that arrows had also wounded the soldiers around him. Some of them were dead or not moving at all. Baal gritted his teeth, stood up, put his arm behind his back, and pulled out the arrow that had pierced him.
He then slowly turned around and shouted out a laugh that he couldn’t suppress.
“Fufu, hahahahaha, I see… the real target was the rear!”
A large number of cavalry were avalanching in from the rear. The momentum is like a muddy stream, and the soldiers in the rear, who are thin, can not stop it.
The initial decoys had rendered many of the horse fences useless. The enemy soldiers were riding into the main camp through the broken parts. Then, a large number of bonfires were lit by the enemy and burned the tents.
The enemy cavalry trampled down the fleeing infantrymen.
“…You dare to choose a poor strategy.”
“Baal-sama! Not only has the enemy attacked from behind――.”
The messenger rushed over with a look of frustration on his face.
He was pierced by the spear of a Grantz cavalryman who came from behind and bounced off the ground several times before disappearing from Baal’s sight. At the same time, the sound of sword fights from the left and right, along with the screaming of allies, is sounded.
“It’s a brilliant side-attack you made here. In the dark, it’s impossible to get an accurate count. Even a small number will have a tremendous effect.”
The siege was completed. There was no room to deal with attacks from all sides, as all the soldiers here concentrated on the front as if they were in heat.
Baal, who looked on from the sidelines as if he were a spectator to a screaming battlefield, was inundated with enemy cavalry.
“Fuh, I’ve been fooled, haven’t I?”
When Baal picked up his magic bow, the Fail Note, he fired three arrows in quick succession. It succeeded to pierce the throat of the enemy soldiers and kill them.
“…It looks like it’s your turn.”
Baal grabbed the flustered Fraus by the shoulders.
“What do you mean it’s your turn? In this situation?”
“You can’t turn the tide of battle, but you can break away from it.”
Baal told Fraus as he nonchalantly slaughtered the approaching enemy.
“First of all, let’s retreat once. We can’t afford to get hung up on victory here.”
If they reorganize now, they can still maintain more than 10,000 troops.
“Most importantly, even if the night attack is successful, the enemy will not be unharmed. They will probably lose a lot of soldiers in this battle. Considering that, we can still make a comeback.”
Baal said as if he was talking about something else, but Fraus’ face turned red, and her anger swelled.
“You said that you could win!”
“Calm down. Now think about getting out of here as quickly as possible.”
In response to Baal’s words, Fraus roared in frustration as he cut down the enemy soldiers around him as if he were exploding in anger.
“The main force is now leaving!”
“That is good.”
If they stay here any longer, they will not be able to reduce the enemy’s momentum. This defeat is a blow, but it doesn’t change the plan, and more importantly, it’s going as planned.
“We still have a plan. All we have to do is win in the end.”
There is no need to win constantly. Even if they continue to lose, even if they continue to have their plans overlooked, they will always be the winners if they can pull off a victory in the end.
“So let’s hurry back to the capital to reorganize the army and start over.”
Baal said and pulled his horse to leave the battlefield. Immediately after that, there was an eerie sound. It was a very, very small sound. It was a tone that had never been heard in this war situation.
It never left the ear, leaving behind an eerie feeling that persisted forever.
“I have overcome many hardships. I’ve stepped over many corpses. I have abandoned many hopes.”
It approaches quietly as if drawing him into the everlasting darkness.
“When someone who has never known despair speaks of a better plan, it makes me sour.”
There are no ups and downs in his voice. And yet, there was a weight that penetrated deep. Baal and Fraus immediately prepared themselves and looked in the direction of the voice.
Surrounded by many corpses, a boy with an eye patch covering half of his face stood there.
“Don’t even think about running away.”
His gentle face tightened sharply.
“You’ll be my bread and butter here. I won’t give you a second chance.”
The boy grasped his silver sword with ease.
“Now ― it’s time to teach you despair.”
The darkness around him deepened, distorting the space and filling it with deadly energy.