It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (19/60), enjoy~
At dawn, the “Raven Army” left Tutelary Fortress after completing their preparations.
It was November 13, 1023rd year of the Imperial Calendar.
After leaving Fort Tutelary, the “Raven Army” crossed the border in an instant and began their march to the Grand Duchy of Dral.
For a start, Hiro instructed the “Raven Army” to take advantage of the darkness and surround the neighboring villages. Capturing all the villagers, women, children, and elderly alike.
“Hand them over to General Bakish’s soldiers who are camped on the border.”
Hiro’s order was carried out solemnly. The villagers lined up and were sent to Bakish’s camp in the rear. They were so terrified of the “Raven Army” that they did not put up any resistance.
It could be said that they realized that they were no match for the mighty soldiers, but what most of them were feeling was confusion. This was because, although there were a few conflicts when they showed resistance, they were never subjected to any violence other than that, and they were treated with an attitude of sincerity that made it hard to believe that they were invaders.
Therefore, confusion occupied most of their hearts, and they were taken to the rear with a question mark on their faces, saying they didn’t understand what was going on. In this way, the people of Dral were unable to flee from the sudden invasion of the Great Grantz Empire, and the villagers near the border were all captured.
And at the time when the sun’s rays were tearing the blue sky and pouring down on the earth, Hiro and the others were on their way to Hanatigal Fortress, which guarded the border on the side of the Grand Duchy of Dral ― the Lesuende village on its outskirts.
“Wise brother, is this the last village?”
Hugin’s languid voice struck his ear. Hiro, who had been looking at the map in the roofless carriage, looked up. There was a sense of urgency in the air as he looked around; soldiers in black equipment surrounded the village and gathered the villagers in one place.
Their faces were blue with despair, and they were tearfully begging for their lives. Hiro turned his gaze away from the villagers and looked at Hugin, whose brown skin glowed dazzlingly in the sunlight.
“Yes. Let’s make this village our last stop. We’re way behind schedule.”
Hiro then called out to the soldiers guarding the village and instructed them to raise a smoke signal. Immediately, the troops surrounding the other villages would begin to move as Hiro had instructed.
“There are seven villages near the border. We’ve only managed to surround four of them, including this Lesuende village.”
Hugin grumbled, but the fact that they were able to surround four villages in such a short time should be enough. Hiro saw no obstacle to the plan.
“Don’t worry; we’ll succeed. I have a few tricks up my sleeve for that.”
There was no need to think too hard about the ruse. It’s very simple and clear: the one who keeps on deceiving wins. In the past, his brother-in-law, the first Emperor Altius, had complained that it was difficult, but Hiro had laughed it off, saying that anyone could do it.
“Is that so?”
As if to pull the thorn out of Hugin’s still anxious heart, Hiro put a smile on his face and put his index finger to his lips.
“Of course. Do you not believe me, Hugin?”
“I-it’s not like that!”
Hugin’s face turned red, and she waved her hands in a panic.
“W-well then, I’ll trust my wise brother and go scouting!”
As if to hide her embarrassment, Hugin, who had left behind her cheerful words, turned her horse’s head and galloped off in a cloud of dust. Hiro was stunned to see her off, but suddenly a large shadow fell over her head.
“We are ready.”
When he turned his head toward the voice, he saw Ghada, his second-in-command. He had the same grim expression with wrinkles between his brows as usual, but today he was somewhat less resolute.
Hiro tried to figure out what had happened, but he soon arrived at the cause. Perhaps, like Hugin, he was worried about being so far behind schedule. He might be feeling responsible for the fact that he’s the one who trained the “Raven Army.”
Hiro sighed and stood up in the carriage, saying that he had no choice.
“If so, just let a few of them go.”
At Hiro’s command, Ghada handed out instructions to his men. Then several young men were freed from the ropes. Their faces showed a real sense of confusion. It was understandable. It wouldn’t make sense if they were released as soon as they were captured.
“You are to report to the Grand Duchy of Dral. I will release you only for that purpose.”
Hiro pointed to the flag bearer with his left hand. Then a large flag spread in the wind.
The villagers all gasped when they saw the emblem on it.
―A black dragon holding the silver and white sword.
It is the coat of arms of the second emperor, who was once praised as the heroic king of the twin black.
“Then, I want everyone to pay attention to the rear here.”
When Hiro said more, the youths and soldiers all turned to look behind them. Black smoke was rising high into the sky from everywhere. The source of the smoke was where the village was located.
It was as if a black dragon was feeding on its prey, vigorously painting the sky black. There were screams from the villagers. They cried out, wondering if their village would be next.
As the resentment shook their eardrums, Hiro looked down at the villagers with cold eyes.
“Tell them all, people of Dral. Tell them that the Great Grantz Empire has attacked.”
Hiro spread his arms wide, and the wind blew. The hem of the Black Princess Camellia was flung backward with a flourish, slapping the air again and again with grace and wildness.
“And remember, the Raven Army, once led by the God of War, was called…”
The villagers’ bodies trembled as Hiro solemnly announced, stroking his eye patch.
“On the path of the Raven Army, even the Demon King is no different from the trees and grass.”
It was a tribute to the brave and courageous army that they had once been. It was considered dangerous because of its bravery and was buried in the dark by the third emperor.
“Do not forget these words.”
Hiro motioned with his chin for the young men to run and lay down in the carriage.
“What an actor you are. Why don’t you quit being the Fourth Prince and join a theater company?”
Ghada’s sarcastic words hit his ear. Hiro smiled and pointed his hand to the sky.
“The first step is now complete. It’s time to make the next move. As soon as the villagers are handed over to General Bakish, we will begin our march.”
“Understood. We’ll also call back the troops that are surrounding the other villages.”
“Yes, please. By the way, have you brought the swift dragon with you?”
The “swift dragon” is a non-native species of dragon that lives mainly in the Shaitan Islands.
A few adventurers captured a few of them from the Shaitan Islands about 300 years ago, and they escaped to breed in the central continent. For some reason, Hiro happened to catch one of them rampaging in a village four months ago, and although he couldn’t ride a horse, he was able to ride the swift dragon.
“Yeah, I was told that. It should have been relaxing in the back…”
After saying that, Ghada called Munin.
“What do you need, chief?”
“I thought you were supposed to be taking care of the swift dragon; where is it?”
“No, it’s… um…”
Munin’s gaze wandered as he scratched the back of his head. Ghada’s hand clasped his shoulder.
“You’re not letting it escape, are you?”
“N-no, don’t be absurd! It’s just that Hugin took it on a reconnaissance mission!”
Ghada was taken aback by Munin, who got down on his knees right on the spot to apologize.
“Hugin was able to ride the swift dragon?”
Swift dragons have a strong sense of pride because of their descent from dragons. Therefore, it doesn’t like to have people on its back. This is why the fact that Hugin went with it on a reconnaissance mission caught Ghada by surprise.
“No, she can’t ride it, but they seem to get along strangely well… They went on a reconnaissance trip together.”
“What was she thinking, scouting with such a creature…?”
Ghada held his forehead and looked up above his head in annoyance, but suddenly he heard Hiro laughing and narrowed his eyes.
“Haha, you siblings are really funny. Despite the situation, you make me feel at home.”
“Is this the time to be laughing? This incident is really too much to take in. I’ll have to reprimand her when she comes back.”
Hiro raised his body, softened the corners of his eyes, and shook his head.
“It’s much better than being overwhelmed. The more room you have, the more successful the strategy will be.”
“That’s true, but…”
“Your Highness, Hiro, the villagers have been handed over. And we can execute the plan at any time.”
When Hiro turned his attention to the voice that interrupted them, he saw a soldier standing there.
“Then notify all units. We will now begin our march.”
The soldier left with a salute and mounted his horse, turning his head and waving a large flag.
“Then I will return to the command of the troops.”
Munin also rode up to the troops he was leading.
Dust began to rise from the hurried formation of the Raven Army. There were loud shouts from the commanders around them. Satisfied with the scene, Hiro turned his gaze to the Hanatigal Fortress, one cell (three kilometers) away. Even from a distance, he could see that it was buzzing with activity. They must have realized that their village was being burned when they saw the black smoke rising from various places. But they didn’t make a move, probably because of their loss of nerve.
“All troops, advance! Don’t break ranks!”
Ghada’s booming voice shook the air, and a moderate sense of tension spread among the soldiers. As the carriage began to move, Hiro raised his right hand in a small gesture.
“Ghada, it’s about time. Let’s show the enemy holed up in the Hanatigal Fortress the reality.”
Ghada nodded and pointed his sword at the flag bearer.
“Set it on fire! Let them know the threat of our Raven Army!”
Soon after, black smoke began to cover the village of Lesuende. The whole area turned black as if it had been spilled with ink.
With this cruel scene behind them, the “Raven Army” began to march in an orderly and unhurried fashion. Keeping their distance from the Hanatigal Fortress, Hiro and the others moved southward and passed by it. There was not enough time for them to deal with the besieged army. Above all, the situation was changing every second. There was no time to waste.
And when they were 89 roos (267 meters) away from the Hanatigal Fortress, they saw a flurry of movement in the enemy army.
“They’re on the move…”
A message came rushing up to Hiro, who muttered to himself.
“The main gate of Hanatigal Fortress has been opened! The enemy is expected to move out!”
“Maybe they were waiting for us to pass by, or maybe their egos wouldn’t allow them to miss the enemy in front of them.”
Hiro looked at Fort Hanatigal and saw that it was covered in dust. If they were to be attacked from behind, they would suffer tremendous damage. The only way to avoid this is to turn the Raven Army around and face them head-on.
“How many are there?”
“Unconfirmed! But according to intelligence reports, there are less than four thousand of them stationed at the Hanatigal Fortress, and it is certain that their numbers will never exceed our own!”
If they clash head-on, they will not be able to avoid damage to their troops. If so, it’s time to use the first strategy, albeit quickly.
(There’s no need to be conservative. It’s better to take the fight to them at once.)
Hiro stroked the eye patch covering the left half of his face and pointed his hand at the messenger.
“Instruct the bannermen, large flag to the right, all troops reverse at full speed and crush the enemy forces coming from behind.”
The messenger nodded and headed for the flag bearer. Next, Hiro called out to Ghada, who was running alongside him.
“Does Munin seem okay?”
“The weather is good today. The view is excellent. He won’t miss a thing.”
Hiro followed Ghada’s gaze as he glanced at him. There was a lone figure on the plain, far from the main army. He’s holding up the black dragon’s coat of arms flag ― it’s tilted to the right.
“Now, I’m going to take command of the first squad. Leave the front line to me.”
“No, I’ll be heading to the front this time.”
Ghada, who was about to kick the horse in the stomach, turned around with a surprised expression.
“For the future, I want to make sure she learns a lot.”
With a smile on his face, Hiro’s fingertip pointed to his right-hand side. At the same time as Ghada’s gaze turned to it, an innocent voice sounded.
“Wise brother! I’m back! I’ve found out the composition of the enemy army!”
Hugin was the one on the horse. And next to her, the swift dragon is running. Hiro jumped down from the carriage, directly kicked the ground, and jumped again ― he got on the back of the approaching swift dragon and pulled the reins.
“I’m heading to the front now. Hugin, come with me. We’ll talk about it on the way.”
“Hey! What am I supposed to do?”
Ghada, looking flustered, raised his voice. Hiro looked back over his shoulder.
“You take command of the main force. I will go kick the enemy to pieces.”
As soon as he said that, Hiro patted the swift dragon on the head and urged it to run. Hugin was desperately trying to keep up with him.
“Wise brother! The enemy seems to be over three thousand, two thousand of which are made up of infantry.”
“Then, as soon as the first line is in place, let’s charge. We’ll use the momentum to penetrate the center of the enemy.”
When Hiro reached the front line, the front of the first line faced the enemy, but the middle and rear lines were still in disarray. They were not slow to turn, but they were not fast either.
“The middle and back rows were still in disarray. But if we wait for the middle and back rows, we won’t make it in time…”
The enemy is running at full speed to get behind them. The only way to crush their momentum is to hit them with everything possible and take advantage of their weaknesses. Above all, there was a reason why he wanted to keep their attention on him. The only people who can move quickly are less than a thousand; Hiro made a quick decision.
“Attention, first line!”
Hiro raised his voice high in the air.
“The front line will now begin the assault on the enemy army!”
The heavy bass of horseshoes kicking the ground and the reverberations of overlapping armor created a clamor. Even so, Hiro’s voice resonated well. His unique voice penetrated deeply into their eardrums, making everyone listen.
“As soon as the middle and back rows are ready, start moving in sequence!”
As if in response to Hiro’s wishes, the soldiers clanged their spears into their shields, one by one. In the end, it was accompanied by a loud roar that created an earth tremor that shook the entire battlefield.
“Raise your swords if you want victory. To deny defeat, raise your shield.”
Hiro quietly pulled out the “Heavenly Emperor” at his waist.
“With a single blow ― offer victory to the twelve great gods of Grantz!”
Hiro’s voice echoed across the plain, and he took the lead at a brisk pace. Following him were a thousand black horsemen. The enemy forces, who had thought they could take the back, were clearly shaken.
“Great. Let’s push through them like this.”
The rest of the battle was a contest of spirit and simple strength. The Raven Army, led by Hiro, has a much higher level of morale than ever before. On the other hand, what about the Dral army? They were angry that their village had been burned, but many of them were also terrified. In a situation where each individual’s feelings are disturbed, misalignment is bound to occur. Fear would cause some of them to put their strength into the reins and start to slow down.
If this happens, there will be no such thing as a formation.
“We’re going in from the right side!”
As soon as Hiro saw the gap, he rushed into the gap of the Dral army with great speed.
“Stop them at all costs――!”
“It’s too late!”
Hiro, who decapitated an enemy soldier whose face was twisted in fear, sent the masterless horse spiraling out of control and crashed into another enemy horse. When the enemy soldier who lost his stance was kicked off his horse, the enemy soldier was crushed by the following cavalry.
“Push them back! We can’t afford to lose to those atrocities who burned our village!”
In spite of the obvious difference in strength, there was an enemy soldier who was unafraid to come forward.
“Let’s do our best to respond to their splendid spirit!”
Therefore, he paid the utmost respect to those who were brave and bold enough to come at them. He would reap the life out of them with great skill, take their spears and throw them. It easily pierced the necks of several enemy soldiers and rained blood all over the area.
“Push open the center! The goal is only the enemy commander!”
“Follow His Highness Hiro!”
As if in response to Hiro’s shout, a private soldier shouted with vigor. This was the catalyst for the shouting from all sides.
In the face of the beastly roar, the enemy’s momentum completely stalled ― and then the middle and back rows, which had been in formation, joined in and swept the enemy forces away like a muddy stream.
“Retreat! We’ll join up with the heavy infantry and get back in formation! We’ll be annihilated if we continue like this!”
When Hiro turned his gaze in the direction of the voice, he saw a middle-aged knight in fancy armor holding up a sword. Unlike the other soldiers around him, he wore conspicuous armor, probably because he was the commander.
Hiro pulled on the reins and let the swift dragon’s head spin, determined not to let him escape. However, his feet did not go to the enemy commander because the enemy commander slipped from his horse.