Chapter 9 – Those Who Landed
The time was around dusk.
A light rain was falling, taking away the heat from the bodies.
The knights of Rockdam were so exhausted from the battles that had been raging since the morning that they almost lost the will to live. The invasion of the Kingdom of Heim, day after day, was taking a toll on their spirits.
The borders and many farmlands had already been invaded, and the walls of the royal capital were on the verge of being destroyed.
It was due to these thoughts, that they felt that the knights of Heim would come crashing down on them tomorrow morning. A knight in a castle erected by the sea suddenly noticed something unusual in the waters.
“…Hey. Wake up.”
“Stop it. The savages of Heim have finally gone back. Let me rest for a while. They’re going to invade tomorrow. You should at least pray to God instead of worrying about some strange thing.”
“A-as I said, look at that! Hey!”
Perhaps more bewildered than tired, the knight forcefully shook his colleague’s body and forced him to face forward.
The colleague’s sudden action brought irritation to his face, but he suddenly realized that there was something wrong with the sea, which he turned his eyes to for a moment.
Then finally ── he was astonished and shouted out loud.
“Oh… Oooh… G-giants! There are giants in the seaaaaa!”
Lined up horizontally, twelve gigantic shadows appeared. The never-before-seen size of this thing advanced in a straight line toward the royal capital of Rockdam. It was silent and full of unique power, and it seemed to be ready to devour anything that came in its path.
Then, after a breath or so, what came next was a deafening explosion that resembled the roar of a gigantic monster, in addition to an impact as if it had been hit by a storm.
At the same time, they realized that there was an intense, blinding light emanating from within.
What happened? Were we attacked? They looked back toward the castle in a panic but could not see any damage. They look even more mystified at the current situation, where there is no damage in the royal capital, no matter how they look at it…
“Hey! Smoke is rising over there!”
One of the knights notices smoke rising in the area behind the city walls.
It was a wide area of smoke that could be seen even now in the evening.
“──It’s just outside the gates. No way, Heim has been attacked!”
“Someone, anyone, go call the general!”
The people of the Rockdam, who had been in a state of panic, were now secretly searching for hope.
◇ ◇ ◇
Needless to say, the attack that just took place was by the Ishtalika fleet.
The fleet had left the capital of Ishtalika and appeared on this battlefield, firing without any warning.
“Your Excellency the Marshal, we have confirmed that the shells have landed.”
Lloyd replied with a satisfied smile as the crew announced the success of the attack.
“After a brief respite, this blow must be full of surprise and fear for them. Come on, my fellow brave souls! This is our best chance! Let us land and attack at once!”
Lloyd announced loudly, leading the royal knights on the bridge to the entrance.
“It would be better if Logas-dono was killed in the process. Well, that would be unlikely, though.”
Lloyd was hoping for what he called a godsend, but it was hard to believe that the commander was resting so close to the enemy territory. Lloyd laughed to himself as he expressed his wishful thinking.
“Lloyd-sama! It looks like we hit the target!”
“That sounds good!”
The knights, who had also finished getting ready and came out, called out to Lloyd.
“Our attack must have responded to their fatigue from the battle!”
Hearing his voice, the knights followed Lloyd as he walked with large strides. Lloyd picked up his magic tool for communication and shouted at it.
“Notify the entire fleet! We, Ishtalika, will take control of this battlefield with our land warfare magic weapons we brought!”
He declared loudly.
“Show no mercy! Crush the beasts of Heim for the triumph of Ishtalika!”
With his resounding voice, he uttered the signal for battle.
──Now, the port of Rockdam did not have enough capacity to receive the Ishtalika fleet, so the Ishtalika fleet split into several locations and anchored on land, then opened the front of the battleships wide and brought down their magic weapons.
The knights of Rockdam, exhausted from the battle with Heim, were flustered by the sudden appearance of the group, and they were on guard with their swords at the ready, looking at the situation from a distance.
“I’m a little sorry about all this.”
In their exhaustion, the Ishtalika fleet would be nothing short of terrifying.
Lloyd exuded a slight feeling of apology as he stepped into Rockdam for the first time.
“What shall we do, Lloyd-sama?”
A royal knight called out to him.
“It was we who landed without informing Rockdam. We must be civil in this matter. ──I see the commander has just arrived.”
While the others were watching from afar, a knight came riding in on a horse at a brisk pace.
He looks no older than 40, and his armor and sword were distinct from those around him and easy to recognize. He had a large scar over one eye, which gave Lloyd the impression that he had been through several hardships.
Seeing this, Lloyd raised one arm and signaled to the knight.
The knights, who were aboard the first ship together, all lined up at once and stopped facing forward without saying a word.
The man who appeared to be the commander of the Rockdam saw this and dismounted his horse.
“──I am Rendall! I am the commander of the army in the Republic of Rockdam! Unfortunately, we are only waiting for tomorrow’s guests and have no time to deal with new ones. Let us know what your business is and from which side you are coming!”
The man who introduced himself as Rendall put his hand on the long sword at his back as he said this.
“Oh, you seem like a good commander.”
Lloyd’s attention was caught by the fact that he responded without fear in the face of Ishtalika’s intimidating presence.
“I beg your pardon. I am Lloyd Glacier, marshal of the unified state of Ishtalika. By a strange coincidence, I have come to fight with you and Rockdam.”
Lloyd then introduced himself as the marshal, and all the knights of Ishtalika drew their swords at once and held them in front of them with both hands.
The orderly movement caught the eyes of the exhausted people of Rockdam.
Many of them naturally relaxed at the mention of the word “Ishtalika,” and some even collapsed to their knees. From Rockdam, where there were regular ships to Ishtalika, the general understanding of the country was much higher than in Heim.
Some expected that the army was coming from Ishtalika.
But it was also true that they thought there was no way they could help them, as they had no ties to the country.
“We hope you will forgive us for our rudeness. We will now exterminate the beasts of Heim.”
Naturally, Rendall had expected Lloyd to mention that he was from Ishtalika. But like many knights, he could think of no reason why he would help them, and he was wary.
He said nothing and approached Lloyd with a leisurely step.
The royal knights saw this, and one of them tried to stand in front of Lloyd.
“It’s fine. Don’t do anything.”
The knight was stopped by a hand, and he backed away.
The sudden appearance of Ishtalika left Rendall feeling unsettled.
When he reached for Lloyd as if seeking relief, his breathing was ragged, and his eyes were shaken.
“There is nothing more to ask for if our Rockdam lands are not to fall into the hands of the savages.”
Rendall reached in front of Lloyd and threw down his leather gloves. He reached out a hand with several crushed blisters to grasp Lloyd’s hand tightly.
◇ ◇ ◇
The country of Rockdam had a solid and strong wall of rock surrounding its capital. It had protected the country since ancient times and was capable of withstanding for a while even when surrounded by a large army of Heim spread out in front of it.
If so, then an attack by sea would be an option.
However, in the case of Rockdam, its ships were not badly equipped, perhaps due to the influence of regular shipping to Ishtalika. Heim may have hated this and avoided a sea battle in which they would have no freedom.
“All ships have finished unloading our magic weapons… and horses for the cavalry.”
A royal knight reported.
Lloyd, who was walking on the wall, heard this and continued to ask.
“How are the horses?”
“Some of the horses were a bit nervous, but nothing to be concerned about.”
“That’s good to hear. We’re going to march now.”
Lloyd planned to march steadily, step by step.
But the speed of those steps would be very fast.
“May I have a word with you, Lloyd-dono?”
“What is it?”
Lloyd quickly answered the voice of Rendall, the commander of Rockdam.
“The light attack a short time ago was also from the Ishtalika. If so, why don’t we use it to eliminate Heim’s army at once? Heim’s men were encamped outside the city walls. Because they are a large army, the area of their encampment is very large, but it seems your weapons have the destructive power to destroy them easily.”
“Unfortunately, that is an unreasonable range of fire. It wouldn’t be very effective if we were to take on an army that has already gone the distance. That is why we need to move forward.”
They were able to do this because the first ship, with Lloyd aboard, was closer than the other battleships.
Against Heim, who seemed to be in a hurry and had opened the distance, it was no longer possible to be highly effective.
“By the way, Rendall-dono. I apologize for this unexpected visit, but I would like to pay my respects to the head of state as well.”
“I am sorry, but that is not possible right now.”
Lloyd pondered how to negotiate… but Rendall hurriedly continued to speak as if he was trying to make things right.
“It is not something I should talk about with people from other countries, but he is mentally ill. I’m sorry, but he has been in bed all morning, scared out of his wits, and can’t afford to go outside.”
“O-oh… so that’s the situation, I see.”
Behind Lloyd, who had a troubled expression on his face, a royal knight put his hand to his forehead in disgust. If the head of state was like that, the knights on the battlefield wouldn’t be able to stand it either.
He even felt some pity for them.
“As you can see. There are still some soldiers from Heim left.”
They arrived at a high point from which they could see all the way outside the gates.
Even though they had launched an effective bombardment over a wide area, there were still many of Heim’s soldiers outside the gates.
With the encampment being so large, it seemed that many of them had also survived.
“If the force is as strong as it looks, we should be able to drive them back to Birdland in four days. There are no troublesome half-monsters or monsters to be seen.”
Hearing Lloyd’s words, Rendall asked,
“Are we really going to fight now? It’s going to be dark soon. Isn’t it inconvenient to fight?”
“It’s the same for the opponent. Besides, we will have to prepare our camp before it gets completely dark.”
It would be insane to prepare for encampment there after driving off Heim’s large army.
Lloyd called out to the royal knights as Rendall opened and closed his mouth like a fish.
“We’ve probably already transported the magic weapons to the gate. The cavalry should be ready by now. …If so, it’s time to go to war.”
…The knights of Rockdam opened the gates with trepidation.
Although the knights of Ishtalika lined up behind them in an orderly fashion and with faces that held no fear, opening the gates was the same as leaving them unprotected.
But there was no one else to turn to.
They could not help but wish them luck and victory in their campaign.
On the other hand, the Heim soldiers noticed this and felt a sense of discomfort.
“──Hey! Aren’t the gates open?”
“Huh? W-why are they opening the gate?”
There was something disturbing.
The general of Heim, who was leading the army, hurriedly mounted his horse, and while galloping around the area, he said loudly.
“Form up! Form up! The dead and wounded can wait! Shield-bearers, move forward! Archers, get behind them!”
If the opponent is going to charge, then they should fortify their defenses and fire their bows.
As soon as he gave the order for the standard position, Heim’s army formed up at once. Not to say that they were in perfect shape, but they were enough of a threat for Rockdam.
The city gates finally opened.
What on earth was about to happen? As they stared at the gate in the distance, something unfamiliar appeared.
“What is that… A crossbow?”
A large, horizontal crossbow dyed pure white.
There were several pipes and cannon-like tubes that connected to each other, something unfamiliar to Heim’s generals.
At about the same time, an intimidating sound echoed through the air.
As it moved across the ground, it gradually grew louder and louder, causing the soldiers of Heim to feel uneasy.
Just a few minutes ago, victory would have been in sight.
Now they realized that what they were feeling was pure fear.
The sound that was transmitted like an earth tremor was the sound of the silver army slamming their spears into the ground, and it was filled with an indescribable pressure that shook the space and shook their hearts uncomfortably.
“The white knights…”
The movement was undisturbed and exerted pressure like a single living being.
The general realized that they were from Ishtalika.
The unfamiliar crossbow was also the reason.
The distance between them and the general was about 500 to 600 meters visually…
If it were an ordinary crossbow, it would not be enough to be frightened of, but if the opponent were Ishtalika, it would be a different story.
“Hey. Is there anyone nearby?”
“Take Heim’s flag and get close to them. Ask them what they want.”
He called out to the nearest soldier, and the soldier started his horse.
After a few moments, the soldier on horseback reached within earshot.
As he waved his banner and called out, a large man with a body as big as his horse appeared from among the white knights, leaning his body against the huge horse.
“It seems that he is their commander.”
At that moment.
The general’s eyes caught sight of Heim soldiers running desperately. This was no ordinary event. A moment later, as he was about to wait for the report.
“It was snowing…──”
The general looked at it and muttered as he reached out his hand.
If he were to use an analogy, it would be like diamond dust. A faint light danced down like a shimmering light around the area.
The next moment, he let go of his consciousness before he had time to think about anything else. He didn’t understand when the light had been released from the crossbow or why it blew up at him.
───On the other hand, the troops in the rear were taken aback.
A sudden gleam took away many of Heim’s lives.
As soon as the shimmering something subsided, the shield squads and the spear squads that had been poised behind them were mostly reduced to a mute mass.
As they slowly fell to the ground, the red liquid was pouring out of their bodies all at once.
…Were they attacked?
…..That thing? The vanguard had indeed fallen, but…
What just happened was that something shone and was noticed as well as the vanguard soldiers collapse in the next moment.
It was more difficult to understand what happened.
The loss of the commanding officer only increased the confusion. Even though Heim was caught in a whirlpool of confusion, on the other hand, the white knights did not stop their momentum.
The white knights moved forward as if they were taunting.
As the huge crossbow began to move forward slowly, slowly, the sound of the spears slamming down began to sound again.
Now that there was no one to represent and discipline the soldiers.
Even those in the position of second-in-command, who were present to some extent, could not utter a quick call.
“It is coming… it is comiiiiiing!”
They retreat backward from front to front, pushing aside the soldiers standing behind them.
The appearance and power of the white knights, who had turned into one living creature, seemed more mighty than their visible appearance.
They were the ones who were on the hunting side. They were absolute beings. This position was only possible until the other day, and now the tables had turned, and they were immersed in the emotions of the small animals on the side of the prey.
“Retreat… retreaaaat! Now that the general’s safety is unknown! It’s not good for us to remain here!”
Finally, one of the second-in-commands shouted loudly. He cried out and signaled to everyone by blowing his whistle to give instructions.
Now, Lloyd said to the royal knights who were watching the scene.
“Take a good look at that. That is the appearance of the small fries who have lost their commander. Even if I should lose my life, you must not forget to carry out the prescribed measures.”
With Heim finally beginning to retreat, the forces of Ishtalika moved forward, carrying the crossbow.
With a shout, a sound similar to the earth-shaking sound of spears striking the ground echoed through the air.
It was meant to inspire the knights of Ishtalika, implying that they were the strong ones.
Gradually advancing, the army of Ishtalika eventually reached the location of Heim’s group, which had been hit by the earlier blow. The soldiers of Heim, who unfortunately survived, were holding their bodies as if in agony. Although the loss of life was still the same, the amount of time they had wasted suffering had increased.
“──Cut them off.”
Their lives would not be saved. When Lloyd signaled to cut, the knight who heard his voice immediately interceded with the fallen soldier.
“It’s a bit of a pity that you didn’t die after being hit by the bursting crossbow, isn’t it?”
When a royal knight said so, he turned his attention to the huge crossbow that was being carried away.
“…It is a cannon that condenses the energy within the magic stone, processes it like a lead ball, releases it, and finally bursts into small pieces. I don’t even want to think about having such a thing eat my body, though.”
“You have nothing to be afraid of. If you hurry back to the battleship, you might even survive.”
Lloyd and the royal knights talk lightly.
They continued on their horses, but Lloyd suddenly noticed a survivor.
“──Hmm. It seems he is still alive.”
Lloyd gave a signal to his horse and sped up a little to get closer to the survivor.
The well-dressed knight was breathing irregularly and shallowly.
His blood ran wide on the ground, indicating that he was already in a precarious state.
He turned his head to look up as Lloyd advanced with a clatter of hooves.
“Hah… hah… Ahh… Y-you… b-bastard…!”
“I thought Logas was the commander here, but what a letdown. If it had been that man who died, our morale would have been at its highest.”
Lloyd muttered ruefully, no longer even giving him a respectful title.
In his fading consciousness, the fallen man, or rather the general of Heim, felt frustrated at the sound of his voice.
“I got the commander’s head. That would not be a bad result for the first blow. …No hard feelings.”
With these words, Lloyd dismounted from his horse and pulled a short sword from his waist.
The game had already been won. The knight’s spirit was, therefore, to deliver the final blow.
The moment he was about to slice his neck with the short sword, the commander put his mouth close to Lloyd’s ear and muttered.
“Fuh… hah…Y-you… are… the dull crown prince’s… dog, huh…”
At that moment, Lloyd’s arm stopped moving with a twitch.
“You mean you don’t need an intermediary for your death. That’s what your words sound like to me.”
With ice-cold eyes, he managed to suppress his anger and headed for his horse.
Why did he stop his sword? A royal knight who was watching Lloyd looked at him with wandering eyes, but Lloyd straddled his horse and said nothing.
Instead, he declared in high spirits that they had won the first battle handily.
He then sent some knights back to the Rockdam to report back to their home country from the battleship. The report of the victory using a special message bird would have reached Ishtalika immediately.
──The road to Birdland continued onward.
The group prepared an encampment at a place a short distance ahead, and first of all, they shouted with joy at the overwhelming victory.