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The sky was calm. It was so clear that if one stretched out their arms, they could almost be sucked into it. The air was so fresh and clean that it was hard to believe that people were fighting for supremacy on the ground.
Even so, Hiro’s stern eyes never softened as he gazed into the sky.
“Do you have a grudge against the sky?”
Said Ghada. Hiro shifted his dark eyes from top to bottom and turned to the owner of the voice.
“No, I felt a strong presence…”
He felt a familiar presence from the northwest. Hiro turned his narrowed eyes to the northwest once more. But he could no longer feel the chill that sent shivers down his spine as before.
“I can understand why you’re worried, but I’d rather you focus on what’s in front of you right now.”
“Yes, you’re right. Let’s just focus on the enemy in front of us for now.”
Hiro smiled and nodded his head in agreement with Ghada’s words.
His vision was filled with soldiers in heavy equipment that cut through the calm air as he looked ahead. On the other side of the orderly line of his own private army, a black shadow is stirring at a distance.
A coalition of nobles from the Grand Duchy of Dral was standing in the way, leading soldiers from the neighborhood to stop the advance of the “Raven Army.”
According to the intelligence report, the number of soldiers was 7,000, which was more than Hugin had reported ― the formation was centered on the militia, with the main force of regular soldiers in the front row, and the middle position formed like a thrust.
In addition, cavalry was deployed on both wings. It’s called the dragon scale formation, and it’s an effective formation for breaking through the center.
“Well, this is the only formation left for them to choose from, I guess.”
“It’s impossible to make a conscripted militia understand complex tactics in a short period. So they probably chose the simple and easy-to-use dragon scale formation.”
In contrast, Hiro’s army formation was a bit different.
The center of the line is lowered to a shallow position with light infantry dismounted from horses, and the main cavalry is placed on both wings, stretching out toward the enemy like a dragon spreading its wings. This is a formation to wait for the enemy’s assault ― the dragon wing formation. With this as the first line, the cavalry troops positioned behind it formed the second line, which was hidden behind the first line in a vertical formation. These two formations together are known as the Fishing Iron Formation.
“The time has come to test the results of Ghada’s training.”
“I’ve only known you a short time, but I think I have a good grasp of your character, One-Eyed Dragon. I’m teaching the Fishing Iron Man to handle even the most reckless requests.”
“I’m looking forward to it.”
Then, after taking a single breath, Hiro waved his right arm to the side to signal the horseman.
The great flag of the black dragon fluttered in the wind. The horn was blown, and the soldiers on horseback began to beat their spears against their shields.
The flashy sounds made by the soldiers made the air ring with excitement. At the same time, it incites a sense of elation. The battle cry echoed deep in their stomachs, energizing their bodies.
“Morale is high… so I’m going to distract them.”
“Oh, I’ll leave you in charge of this one. I know this is unnecessary, but be careful.”
Hiro waved his hand behind his back to Ghada and then looked at Hugin.
“A separate unit will be sent out! Those who disrupt the formation will be punished severely!”
Hugin, who understood his intentions, raised her voice. Hiro ordered the swift dragon to start moving forward, and the cavalry followed one after another, kicking up a cloud of dust.
In this way, the other five hundred troops separated from the main force, but the enemy army easily spotted them because of the clear view of the plains. However, they could not read their movements, or perhaps they were too cautious about making any move on them.
“Hugin, shall we continue to make a large detour to get behind the enemy?”
“Yes! But… I don’t think they’ll let us get behind them so easily, will they?”
“There is no need to force ourselves to get behind them. Because the role of this separate unit is already over.”
“Hmm? What do you mean?”
Before answering the question, Hiro sent a signal to the flag bearer to wave a large flag. As soon as they received the signal, the main force led by Ghada began to move forward in a cloud of dust.
“All we have to do is just flick it off in the corner of their minds that there is a separate unit.”
That’s enough to make them hesitate. Whether to organize a separate force or to prioritize defeating the main force of the “Raven Army,” this hesitation, even if only for a moment, would have fatal consequences on the battlefield. The longer they wait to make a decision, the more they miss out.
“Then the ordinary ones will try to defeat the enemy’s main force with a simple idea of recovering from their failure.”
Hiro said, and the Dral army advanced. They started to head straight for the main force of the Raven Army.
“Let’s wait and see for a while. We’ll observe their movements from here and figure out how we should move.”
“Um… Wise brother, I have a question.”
Hugin said, showing signs of hesitation.
“What is it that you don’t understand?”
“N-no, it’s not that…”
Hiro tilted his head at the inarticulate words.
“You can ask me anything you want without hesitation.”
“Err, umm… ugh… I’m sorry!”
Hugin lowered her head, looking flustered as if she felt she had offended him.
“No, I’m not mad at you… What’s really going on?”
Hiro smiled at her as he admonished her for losing her composure. Hugin, whose eyes were wandering, looked up at Hiro while fiddling with the reins.
“…If you don’t like, you don’t have to answer me.”
Hiro nodded and waited for her to speak.
“Why did you attack the Grand Duchy of Dral? It would have been better to head to the Felzen region and rescue Liz-neesan… With Wise brother’s military tactics and prowess, it would have been possible.”
So that’s what she wanted to ask. The question was perfectly natural and nothing to hide, so Hiro decided to explain it to Hugin.
“The first has political implications. The reason is that I didn’t want the western nobles to take credit by cooperating with the Third Prince Blutar.”
Hiro pointed his hand at Hugin and held up his index finger, followed by his middle finger.
“The second is to make up for Liz and Aura’s blunders. In order to do that, we can’t convince the emperor with half-hearted achievements. We needed a spectacular strategy that would be easy to see.”
Finally, muttering… Hiro held up his ring finger.
“The third was the need to attack the Grand Duchy of Dral for future planning, this is not confirmed, but it will come into play later.
“…Y-yes, I see.”
When Hugin gave her reply, she made a difficult face and fell silent. It can be seen that she was making an effort to understand. If that’s the case, it was worth the effort to explain. Hiro looked away from her and turned his attention to the battlefield.
The two armies were clashing vigorously. The wind carried the sound of sword fights and the shouts of both armies to Hiro. Next, a violent cloud of dust rose up and began to cover the battlefield with a mixture of blood and smoke.
“I wonder if we’ve managed to turn the Dral army’s attention to the front.”
“I think it went well. But, isn’t it possible that some of the troops that noticed it in the middle of the battle ran away?”
“Some people may be aware of our intentions, but an army of thousands is like a muddy stream. It can’t be stopped abruptly.”
In addition, it was time for the Fishing Iron formation to come into play. The thin center of the formation lures the enemy deeper in ― which means that their attention is further concentrated on the front.
This creates an illusion on the Dral front lines. They think they have the upper hand and that if they keep pushing, they will win.
“And unaware that they are being lured, the prey rushes to the open center.”
But what awaits the emboldened Dral army is the second line of the Raven Army, a vertical formation of cavalry. They begin their assault from the center, which the Dral army desperately tries to push open.
This assault would completely destroy the front line of the Dral army.
The only way to avoid total annihilation was to retreat, but the two wings of the first line were already blocking the way on both sides. Above all, once the momentum is gained, it is not easy to stop. The Dral militia in the rear and the cavalry of the Raven Army in the front crushed the Dral’s main infantry troops.
“Hugin, are you going just to watch the Dral army crumble like this?”
Hiro called out to Hugin next to him. She looked at him and blushed, ashamed that she had been watching the war progress as Hiro had described it.
“I apologize! I showed you my unworthy appearance!”
The “Raven Army” victory would not be shaken even if the separate unit did not move. However, there is a high possibility that the cornered Dral army will put up fierce resistance. They are desperate to protect their country and their families. They will want to stop the Raven Army here at all costs.
“So let’s give the order. It’s time for the separate unit to move in order to discourage the enemy.”
Since they were in a situation where they could get behind the enemy, there was no way they could miss it to minimize the damage.
“Separate unit! Charge! We’ll break through the enemy from behind!”
Hugin galloped her horse with a dependable shout. Hiro also ordered his swift dragon to ride alongside Hugin. Behind them, the separate unit, with their spears at the ready, followed with an air of heroism.
“Hugin, the right-wing of the opponent, has moved. It seems that there is a competent and brave commander there.”
Perhaps realizing that the separate unit was about to set up an encirclement, about 400 cavalrymen moved away from the right flank of the Dral army. It’s not a bad decision, but for once, it’s not the right one either.
When Hiro looked over at Hugin next to him, her temper was rising, probably because of the blunder she had just made.
“Get out of my way!”
Hugin’s spirit swelled.
“Soldiers of Dral! Burn the emblem of the Black Dragon in your eyes! We have the blessing of the God of War!”
Hugin shouted as she released the reins and stood up on her horse. She drew several arrows from her quiver in that position, drew her bow, and released them in rapid succession.
The number of arrows that cut through the air in a straight line shot the enemy soldiers right between the eyes, killing them.
In response to her immense skill, the well-trained separate unit flashed the tips of their spears and dexterously pierced the gaps in the armor of the Dral soldiers, causing them to fall from their horses.
Some of them were lucky enough to escape death, but they were trampled down by the horseshoes that followed. Even so, the onslaught of the separate unit did not stop. Blood splattered in the air, polluting the atmosphere with the smell of death.
After penetrating the blood mist, the separate unit attacked the rear of the Dral army with a fierce force.
The completion of the encirclement and annihilation tactic ― in the end, it was also the beginning of the slaughter.
A picture of hell was being created, and the enemy no longer had the strength to resist. Enemy soldiers running for cover fell prey to spears, blood-sucking swords colored the ground, and the ground turned red.
The only way to end this tragedy was to wait for the enemy to surrender. In order to hasten this process, it was necessary to capture the commander, so Hiro and the others ran to the enemy’s main force to urge them to surrender.
When they finally reached it, a white flag was raised on the ground.
“Hugin, you’re late. Where have you been wandering?”
A man with a sarcastic expression on his face stood under the white flag. Behind him, Munin rubbed his nose with pride.
“Hiro-sama! I’ve captured the Dral nobles!”
In front of them, the Dral nobles, bound by ropes, were lined up in a horizontal line on their knees.
“N-not only great brother, but also… big brother.”
Hugin, who recognized Ghada with a surprised face, was stunned to have her biggest credit stolen from her. Hugin fought hard to redeem herself, but Ghada was probably better than her.
Or if the initial move had not been delayed, the position might have been reversed… but there is no use in talking about it. Hiro pushes her back as if to comfort her.
“Hugin, there is still much fighting to be done. You will have the opportunity to make your mark.”
“…Next time, I’ll be ahead of even great brother.”
“That’s the spirit. You will surpass Ghada in no time.”
Hiro said, and Ghada repeatedly nodded as if in agreement.
“You’re a quick learner, you know. You will soon surpass me.”
“As expected, it won’t be easy for me to surpass great brother!”
Hugin shook her head apologetically as if she couldn’t bear to be lifted up by the people around her.
“I will train you again when we return to the south. Be prepared for that.”
“Yes! I’ll be counting on you!”
Seeing Hugin’s cheerful smile, Ghada narrowed his eyes dazzlingly. Then, he threw a disgusted glance at Hiro.
“One-Eyed Dragon, I wanted to take credit for this once in a while. Unfortunately, I got the first prize.”
“I’m glad to see everyone competing like that; it makes things easier for me.”
Hiro said casually, letting Ghada’s provocation slide. He looked at his surroundings.
With the white flag raised from the main forces of the Grand Duchy of Dral and the Union of Nobles, more and more soldiers were beginning to give up their weapons and surrender. Then, out of the corner of his eye, Hiro caught sight of something.
A crest flag, cruelly covered in mud. It belonged to the Dral army, but it was not the flag of the Grand Duchy of Dral.
Originally, the grand flag flown on the battlefield was the emblem of the imperial family in the Grantz Empire or the emblem of the family itself. In the case of the Grand Duchy of Dral, it is the coat of arms of the Grand Duchy of Dral that they raise, but the grand flag covered in mud was unfamiliar.
In other words, it did not belong to the Grand Duchy of Dral.
(Why didn’t they raise the Lord’s flag?)
Hiro stepped down from the swift dragon and walked up to the captured nobles to wipe away his discomfort.
“It is a pleasure to meet you. I am Hiro Schwartz von Grantz.”
Before introducing himself, he throws a question to the nobles, who roll their eyes in surprise at the sight of Hiro.
“You are the nobles of the Grand Duchy of Dral, correct?”
Looking at the face of the nobles, he checked the emblems on their armor, but none of them had the emblems he had seen earlier.
“I see… so you’re the descendant of the God of War…”
One of the Dral nobles said.
“Yes, I am often as surprised as you are.”
“You can bask in the afterglow of your victory for now. If we die here, I’m sure Hunthaven-sama will avenge us.”
“Second son of the Grand Duchy of Dral, huh…?”
“Yes, he is on his way with an army of 20,000 to bring down the hammer on you.”
Hiro meant it differently, but the Dral nobleman seemed to have misunderstood.
“Then I’ll ask him directly.”
Without the need to point it out, Hiro said aloofly without losing his generous smile.
He was thinking of questioning him about the legitimate heir who marched into the Felzen region, but if the second son who is in charge of his absence can come here directly, there is nothing to ask from the nobles.
“I guess I don’t have to interrogate them anymore.”
That’s good. Hiro added at last and called Ghada over.
“Take them as captives. Can you extract some information about the second son for me? Don’t do anything rash and treat them with respect.”
“Politely, huh… It isn’t easy, but I understand. Is that all you need?”
He’s probably asking if the information about the Felzen province, or Liz, is sufficient.
“Apart from what’s going within the territory of the Grand Duchy of Dral, the information they’re getting at this remote location is likely to be minimal. It will only make things more difficult and less profitable for us. So, I’m going to ask Hunthaven directly.”
Then Hiro instructed Munin to take up a position, his eyes narrowing sharply as he looked up at the murky black sky to the northwest.