The Master of the Brave - Chapter 135
The Master of the Brave
Chapter 135. The Siege of Erz (III)
It was two days later, in the morning, when Prince Neumann’s army launched an all-out attack. It was after sunrise. They showered the soldiers of the Erz garrison on the wall with a large number of arrows and used fundibulae to fire stone projectiles one after another. They also put troops of mages to the front line, and with their magic they raised flames. The soldiers of Prince Neumann’s army, relying on the overwhelming number of soldiers, rushed to the lower part of Erz’s walls and hung ladders and hook ropes one after another.
The defenders of Erz, however, took advantage of their elevated position and continued to rain arrows on the enemy. As for the soldiers below, whose arrow fire was overwhelmingly inferior, the hunters and other archers hid behind shields and fired at the enemy soldiers with the intent of one shot, one kill.
Royce himself used defensive magic to deal with the attack magic fired by the mage troops. They dropped logs that had been piled on the city wall and let the boiling oil from the large pots pour over the heads of the enemies as they pounced with ladders and hook ropes. The wall, which had been repaired with wood, caught fire, but Royce dared to order it to be left to burn.
“Keep the fire burning! Even as enemy soldiers, they can’t get in if the fire is still burning vigorously! Just be careful it doesn’t spread too much!” Royce instead had more oil poured in to increase the size of the wall of flames. Inside, the city craftsmen had already built a sturdy double fence of iron and logs to prevent any easy breaches. The name Erz, a city of blacksmiths and woodworkers located in the foothills of the Majil Mountains, was not to be taken lightly.
To support the town, a unit of adventurers led by Kelvin came up behind the trees as Prince Neumann’s army was about to make a fierce attack. When the unit was first formed, it only had about 300 adventurers, but now it had grown to 500. The adventurers belonging to the raiding party brought adventurers they knew from other cities, and some of the captured frontline commanders of Prince Neumann’s army turned on them.
“All right, thank goodness the rearguard is empty, let’s stab them to death!”
With a fierce grin on his face, Kelvin gave the order, and the adventurers jumped out of the forest and charged furiously behind the enemy.
“Bastards! These two-bit adventurers…!”
The adventurers, who formed groups of three to six people, were capable of fighting superior demons for more than five minutes. Even against a noble knight who could manipulate magic and strengthen their body, the rear guard skillfully distracted them with arrows and stone projectiles, while a vanguard warrior split their skull with their axe.
“Don’t let the enemy throw arrows at you!”
While fighting, Kelvin grasped the situation of the entire battlefield and quickly issued orders. According to the order, the adventurers cut deep into the enemy lines and broke ranks, leaving the enemy unable to shoot their arrows so as not to kill each other.
“What the hell are you doing, surround them and attack, crush them with numbers!”
Noticing the surprise stormtroopers led by Kelvin, Prince Neumann’s army moved to the rear, instead of clashing with the stormtroopers head-on. They planned to surround the raiding party and annihilate it. But…
“You’re in my way!” When Kelvin noticed the movement, he ran in front of the enemy knight, “‘I, who know the truth of the wind, the truth of the sword and the truth of the blade, tear the sky with a thousand blades!’” Then Kelvin intoned a series of incantations. “‘I, who know the truth of the wind and summon a gale! May it rush like a torrent and turn everything to dust!’”
The target was the horse of the enemy knight in the lead. Kelvin, holding a wind-clad sword, made a great flash with his sword. The violent void vortex created by the magic attacked the horse ridden by the leading knight in a straight line. The wind blade easily severed the horse’s neck and legs, causing it to perish on the spot. As expected, the mounted knight was not unscathed; according to the laws of inertia, he was thrown forward before he could even scream. The other knights on the backs of their horses also stopped dead in their tracks.
The adventurers, who saw the momentum of the enemies trying to surround their allies slowing down, did not wait for Kelvin’s orders, but each of them tried to escape on their own and fled into the forest.
Kelvin had deliberately ordered the adventurers to move in groups. This made it easier for them to move freely. It also made it easier for them to escape if they met later at a predetermined location, since they were lighter. The adventurers had repeatedly moved this way, forcing Prince Neumann’s army to wear down quite a bit, but this day was different. Normally, Prince Neumann’s army, which was always at the mercy of the raiders, would have given up the chase once the raiders fled into the forest. But this time, although they escaped into the forest, 2,000 soldiers were pursuing them. They were moving through the forest as fast as the adventurers in the raiding party.
That’s not good… While running through the forest faster than any of the adventurers used to it, Kelvin immediately realized that the enemy was chasing them. It seems they have selected mercenaries with forest combat experience and formed a specialized unit to intercept us.
Once the advantage of their ability to act in the forest disappeared, the rest would simply be a battle of numbers.
Kelvin could stand up to a large number of ordinary mercenaries, but against nearly four times as many enemies, he would not be able to escape death. And, above all, he would not be able to keep retreating forever.
Thanks to the fact that Kelvin and the rest of the adventurers had been disrupting the rear of Prince Neumann’s army, the enemy forces had not been able to concentrate on attacking Erz. If they continued alone fleeing through the forest, Erz would fall.
As he ran to try to break free from pursuit, Kelvin kept thinking about whether or not to return fire. He felt a cold sweat running down his spine, different from the hot sweat that flowed during battle. That’s when it happened.
In a different direction from Erz. The sound of a large number of horseshoes could be heard faintly.
Don’t tell me… enemy reinforcements?
The sound seemed to be getting closer and closer.
If it’s enemy reinforcements, we need to check it out. Kelvin waved to the nearby adventurers and changed course. Next, he walked into the forest paths, where the trees were opening up.
There was a cloud of dust rising from the direction opposite Erz on the path. It looked like they were heading toward the city after all.
The enemy troops pursuing Kelvin and the others were also approaching.
If they were ambushed not only by the pursuing troops, but also by enemy reinforcements from behind, they would inevitably be annihilated.
Strangely, however, the pursuing troops of Prince Neumann’s army that appeared on the roads as well, began to retreat in panic as soon as they saw the smoke in the distance. Their agitation was far greater than Kelvin and the others had shown.
It could be… Kelvin gathered the adventurers and waited for those approaching on the spot.
Finally, the figures of people on horseback could be seen, and the military flags they were hoisting came into view.
The knights at the head of the line proudly displayed a military flag with an engraved coat of arms, just as Kelvin expected: the flag of the Lyon Royal Army. They were the reinforcements that the people entrenched in Erz had been waiting for so long.
“What unit do you belong to?” The knight of the Kingdom of Lyon, who was running in the lead, called out to Kelvin and the others, who had put away their swords and straightened their stances.
“My name is Kelvin; I belong to the personal guard of the Princess of the Lemmrousell Empire.”
“So, you are a member of her Imperial Highness’ guard! Then you are Wynn-dono’s colleague, aren’t you? We are His Highness Raul’s advance guard of the Lyon Royal Army. We’re in a hurry to get to Erz’s side, so if you’ll excuse us, my Lord and Princess Cornelia are working with the main body of our army in the rear. If you wish to join them, it would be best if you waited here.”
“Thank you for coming. It is fine for me to meet with His Imperial Highness in Erz. If possible, we would like to accompany you and your army. Would we be allowed?”
“Of course! Then let’s go together to save the people of Erz!”
The advance troops of the Lyon Royal Army numbered around three thousand. In terms of numbers, Prince Neumann’s army surrounding Erz still had a decisive advantage. However, the morale of Prince Neumann’s army immediately collapsed when 3,000 soldiers gallantly appeared from the rear with the flag of the Kingdom of Lyon’s army fluttering in the wind.
Although there were only 3,000 of them, the knights whom Raul had personally selected drove out the rear of Prince Neumann’s army, and the latter had no choice but to retreat.
And in the evening of that day, the main army of the Kingdom of Lyon entered Erz.
“Brother… I am glad that you are safe.”
“Thank you for your trouble, Cornelia. I also thank Raul-dono for coming to our aid.”
The royal siblings of the Lemmrousell Empire rejoiced in each other’s safety for a moment. Then Alfred turned to the crown prince of the neighboring country, Raul, who had arrived with reinforcements, and shook his hand.
“I’m sorry I took too long. But I could not help admiring the people and the soldiers of Erz. They were able to defend themselves until we arrived, with a difference in strength ten times greater than their own.”
“Indeed. Without the cooperation of the people of Erz, or rather the people of Elstead County, I would have lost my life long ago. I hope to repay their kindness sooner or later.”
From outside Count Elstead’s mansion, the people of Erz would be heard celebrating their victory incessantly. The siege of Erz, which had lasted more than a month, had thus come to an end.
A night had passed since the Lyon Royal Army entered Erz. In a room of Count Elstead’s mansion were gathered Wynn, Leticia, Alfred, Cornelia, Raul, Royce and Kelvin. On a table was a map of the southern part of the Empire.
At first, Raul, meeting Royce for the first time, cast him a look of suspicion because of his protruding belly, bald head and incredibly sagging chin. However, when Cornelia introduced him as a trustworthy person who not only organized his bodyguards, but also went out of his way to help Alfred’s side win the recent turmoil, he straightened up and bowed his head.
“Count Elstead. I thank you for your willingness to supply our forces.”
“We are the ones who should be thanking you, your highness. Supplying you was a matter of course. Food and water, as well as weapons, vehicle repairs and anything else you might need.”
“I want to take this opportunity to leave for the Marquisate Cliffdorf immediately. I know it may be unreasonable to ask this of Erz’s people, who are exhausted after finishing the battle, but I would appreciate it if you would allow it.”
“I understand, Your Highness Raul. The craftsmen of my territory in Erz are as skilled as the dwarven masters. I will certainly comply with your request.”
Raul gave a small bow to Royce, which he said with a truly proud smile on his face. When the conversation between the two ended, Alfred looked at all the faces in the room and opened his mouth.
“Now, as Raul-kun mentioned, we will march to Rudolf, the capital of the Cliffdorf Marquisate.”
“Aren’t we supposed to liberate the imperial city of Simurgh first?”
“Our Father the Emperor is in Neumann’s hands. If we march on the Imperial Capital with Lyon’s army in this state, Neumann will widely accuse us of being traitors who are plotting to usurp the throne, both at home and abroad.”
If Alexei issued an edict to hunt down Alfred as a traitor plotting to usurp the throne, the other nobles who still maintained neutrality without joining Alfred and Neumann’s forces, as well as the East Knights, who had been called the invincible shield that had prevented the demons from invading the Lemmrousell Empire, and the North Knights, who had a large navy, would also become enemies.
“First, I am thinking of striking the ground of Prince Neumann’s patron, Marquis Cliffdorf.”
“I, as lord of Elstead, cannot forgive them for invading my territory and causing such tremendous damage to my people. Besides, I can think of countless reasons for you to advance your forces to the Cliffdorf Marquisate, including the fact that they have declared His Highness to be a fake.” Said Royce, following Alfred’s words. He sat calmly with his hands folded in front of his large protruding belly, but there was clear anger in his calm tone. Although it was necessary to save Alfred, great harm had been done to the people. The number of victims was not small. Royce was very angry with Welt, Marquis Cliffdorf, who had provoked him.
“Besides, it is Petersia who is helping Marquis Cliffdorf. I would like to join General Rhedoric of the Western Knights Sector and beat up the rude people from his country who have invaded ours.”
“For Lyon, it is also a good opportunity to curb Petersia, which has been expanding its power.”
Raul also nodded to Alfred.
The reason Raul formed an alliance with Alfred was not only to acquire the right to the northern part of the continent, where there had been a country that was destroyed by demons and there was no ruler, but also to control the Kingdom of Petersia.
The Kingdom of Petersia was a country that had grown rapidly in power since the Demon King was destroyed. It was located in the center of the continent that was not directly invaded by demons, and the war ended with the country’s forces intact compared to other countries. It took advantage of the gap between the exhausted great powers that had been actively sending troops to the Continental Anti-Demon Alliance, and continued to expand by attacking and destroying the surrounding countries one after another.
It was unlikely that the Lyon Kingdom would go to war with Petersia in the near future, as the Majil Mountains were a natural strategic point, but they were very wary of them for being so belligerent.
The Lemmrousell Empire was a large but depleted country bordering demonic territories; it was likely to be destroyed by the Kingdom of Petersia if it came to war. Even if destruction did not come, if the eastern part of the country bordering Petersia was destroyed, Lyon could be invaded.
The Lyon Royal Army was interested in joining Alfred in defeating Marquis Cliffdorf and the Kingdom of Petersia, which was spreading its tentacles towards the Lemmrousell Empire.
“But as long as the imperial city of Simurgh and Father are in Neumann’s hands, can’t they quickly resurface once they touch Marquis Cliffdorf’s soil?”
“Yes. That is why we have to attack Rudolf, the capital of the Cliffdorf Marquisate, and at the same time secure the custody of Father.” When Alfred answered Cornelia’s question, he pointed to the map on the table. It was a map depicting the entire Lemmrousell Empire. He took one of the pieces of the map indicating his army, and placed it on top of Rudolf. “I am going to attack Rudolf, as I said before. On a large scale, with a whole army. But this is a distraction. If I become the general and attack Rudolf, the enemy’s attention will turn to me. Meanwhile, a small number of us will head to the Imperial City and attempt to seize and claim custody of the Emperor. So, Cornelia. I want you to go to the Imperial Capital.”
“Go to the Imperial Capital…” When Alfred told her, Cornelia’s gaze drifted to Wynn and Leticia, who were listening silently, and then she looked at Alfred with a slightly stern look. “That is, if I head to the Imperial Capital, Wynn-kun will be my escort. In doing so, do you expect to take advantage of Leticia-sama’s strength?”
“Cornelia, in either case, it is inevitable that Leticia-sama will be involved. And even she has no intention of staying out of it, does she?”
Alfred put his hand on the table and said that, and Leticia nodded. There was a reason Wynn was going into battle and she with him, but Leticia also had people in Simurgh she had a relationship with, like the people at the Wandering Bird Inn, Paul, Laura and Ifelina.
“If Leticia-sama fights on the front lines of a war, other countries might see her power as a threat and become more suspicious. But if it’s to save someone close to her, that’s another story.”
“In fact, I heard from my big brother in Peshlika that my father is on his estate. Knowing that, I naturally had a good excuse to go to Simurgh. So, Cornelia-san, don’t worry about me.”
“If that’s what Leticia-sama says… then just me and my entourage are heading to Simurgh?”
“Raul will go with me. I need your help to capture Rudolf.”
“Yes, that’s right. As for me, I think it would be more interesting to leave the army to my men and go to Simurgh, but if I do, they might think I have other intentions. Should I leave about 2,000 here for defense and reconstruction?”
Alfred nodded at Raul as confirmation.
“Your Highness Cornelia, may I accompany His Highness Alfred?” The next to offer was Royce. Royce was the lord of the domain of Elstead County, but also a squire of Cornelia. He could not go against Marquis Cliffdorf’s army without Cornelia’s permission. “As Elstead’s Lord, I can’t let Marquis Cliffdorf get away with this after he harmed my people.”
“I understand. Please fulfill your duties as lord to the fullest.”
“Thank you for your consideration, Princess Cornelia.” Royce thanked Cornelia and then bowed to his most trusted subordinate sitting next to him. “I’m sorry, Kelvin. I know you have a lot on your mind when it comes to Marquis Cliffdorf, but I want you to leave this to me. Please take care of Her Highness.”
Royce and Kelvin had a history with Marquis Cliffdorf, Welt. Originally, both Royce and Kelvin held the position of Colonel as General Zaunas’ staff in the Continental Anti-Demon Alliance. However, General Zaunas, called the hero of the Empire in the Continental Anti-Demon Alliance, was assigned as head of the Simurgh Knight School by Marquis Cliffdorf, who feared that his popularity would threaten his position. Later, General Zaunas took advantage of Emperor Alexei’s disinterest in political affairs and staged a coup d’état to eliminate Marquis Cliffdorf and his faction, which was plotting to monopolize power, but failed. Royce and Kelvin, considered to be of the Zaunas faction, were also held responsible and demoted to the position of squadron leaders.
“I will leave the retaliation against Marquis Cliffdorf to the captain. However, Your Highness, I think it will be a bit difficult for us to save His Majesty the Emperor on our own, don’t you?”
Acting in small groups was good for evading the enemy, but it would be difficult to free all the important people who were probably locked up together with Emperor Alexei. Simurgh was on high alert, and it would be difficult to enter the city. It was almost certain that security would be even tighter inside the imperial palace where Emperor Alexei was held.
“Don’t worry. I have my own men in the imperial capital.”
“I see. Is there any way to contact them?”
“I seem to recall there was a squire in the entourage with ties to the Marine Enterprise?”
“You mean Squire Locke?”
When Wynn answered Alfred’s question, Alfred nodded.
“His family, the Marine Trading Company, has offered to help me in secret. Once I get in touch with them, they will arrange contact with my forces.”
“Understood. However… there is a high possibility that the Marine Trading Company is also being under surveillance.” Kelvin spoke with concern.
The reason why the Marine Trading Company offered Alfred cooperation was not only because their third son, Locke, was a squire linked to the princess of the empire, but also because it would allow them to be able to obtain greater rights if Alfred’s faction won. However, Prince Neumann’s faction must have been aware of this and, of course, they would have investigated Locke. There was a high possibility that the Marine Trading Company building would be under surveillance in case someone from Prince Alfred’s faction tried to contact them.
“We’ll discuss this later with Squire Locke to see if there’s anything we can do.”
Kelvin looked at Wynn and nodded, and the meeting came to an end.
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