Chapter 0245 Battle of Gold Hill
The morning mist was finally clearing from the battlefield.
Both armies had already finished their preparations and were getting ready to engage.
Everyone there understood that this very day, a battle that would decide the fate of the nation was going to take place.
Normally, there would be some kind of exchange where representatives from each army would come out to assert the righteousness of their cause army and denounce the other’s….
But there was no such thing this time around.
After a few messengers came and went, King Abel and King Raymond met in the center of the battlefield, each with one of their men beside them.
Naturally, the scene was visible to both armies, and the soldiers, while raising their wariness, were curious to see what would happen.
“It’s been a while, Uncle.”
“Yeah it has indeed, Albert.”
From Abel’s point of view, Raymond, his father’s brother, was his uncle.
Since Raymond was never on good terms with his father, they never had a friendly conversation even when Abel was at the royal castle.
In the first place, before Abel was born, Raymond had already retired from the royal castle after becoming the Duke of Flitwick.
“Uncle, will you give up the throne?”
Abel’s direct request made Raymond burst out in laughter rather than get angry.
“You already know that it’s not going to happen.”
“If you relinquish the throne, I will not question the fact that you sent the ‘Five Dragons’ to assassinate me, and I will recognize the Flitwick Dukedom as your territory as it has always been, Uncle.”
“Right…I heard you were attacked by a couple of A-rank adventurers. That’s so terrible.”
Raymond said in a way that sounded as if it had absolutely nothing to do with him.
“If this were to be one-on-one combat, then I would stand no chance. But in a battle between armies, I can hope for more than just an even fight. If you surrender now, I don’t mind giving you some territory.”
“Not interested, Uncle.”
Abel naturally refused Raymond’s proposal.
“I’m sure you know as well as I do, Uncle, that the real enemy is the Empire. They already have the eastern part of the country under their control, and some of the northern parts, like Count Gothar, have also aligned with the Empire.”
When Abel said that, Raymond moved his eyebrows only slightly.
Perhaps he did not know that Count Gothar had joined the empire.
“The Empire is after the ‘black powder’ produced in the eastern part of the Kingdom. This is something that will change the face of warfare going forward. We absolutely cannot let the Empire have it.”
“I see. I understand your point. It goes without saying, I do not intend to let the Empire control the eastern part of the Kingdom. But for now, I will make use of the Empire’s military strength.”
Abel said with a sad look on his face.
He was really disappointed … by how naive he was to take the Empire so lightly, he thought.
But at the same time, he also realized that nothing he said was likely to get through.
“Now then, Albert, let’s see who among the both of us has the bigger fist.”
The two men parted, leaving behind a conversation that was going nowhere.
Returning to his army, Raymond quickly raised his right hand and lowered it.
In response, Raymond’s army, the vanguard 10,000 strong, marched out slowly.
It was a force of militia, adventurers, and archers.
Followed by the middle guard 20,000 strong, also began to march.
The pressure from the 30,000 troops approaching in a flanking maneuver was considerable.
“Here they come!”
The central division of the southern army was made up mainly of adventurers who are good in melee.
And the volunteer militias that would fight in squads of five ….
And the man who would lead the central division, which would fight the longest against the enemy…was Master McGrath, whose popularity among adventurers and militiamen may even rival that of King Abel.
As the hero of the last ‘Great War’ and the guildmaster of the adventurers’ guild in Rune city, representing the South, there was no doubt that he was the best person to lead the central division.
However, even Master McGrath was feeling the pressure of the 30,000 flanking troops.
The battle finally opened with ranged attacks using bows.
Countless arrows from the vanguard of Raymond’s army flew toward the Southern Army.
Since the development of the bow and crossbow in all ages, until the appearance of ‘gunpowder’ on the battlefield, ‘arrows’ took the greatest number of human lives on the battlefield, according to some researchers.
However, that was not the case on ‘Phi’.
“O Wind, rage on fiercely, <Wind Pressure>.”
<Wind Pressure> was cast by wind-attribute magicians stationed in various parts of the Southern Army.
The effect was simply billowing wind …but the gusts of wind caused by this wind pressure spell rendered most arrow attacks useless.
Of course, an arrow fired by a first-rate archer could penetrate through the <Wind Pressure> spell … but there were no more than ten such archers among the 10,000-strong army.
Although they were tricky opponents as snipers aiming at commanders, they were far from capable of raining down arrows, or so-called suppressive fire….
Thus, the bow and arrow, which had long been one of the mainstays of the battlefield on Earth, was completely reduced to a supporting role on ‘Phi’.
“Let’s go, boys! Kick ’em apart!”
With Master McGrath’s order, adventurers from the central division of the Southern Army rushed toward the approaching Raymond forces.
Leading the charge was a pair of swordsman and shield-bearer.
Vandash, the Six Petals swordsman, and Gorky, the shield-bearer from the same party.
Gorky punctured a hole in the enemy’s battle formation with a shield bash using his huge shield, and taking over, Vandash further cut through the enemy on three sides.
For those distracted by it for even a moment, it was the end …they would be decimated by the attacks of the Southern adventurers that came charging behind them.
And inspired by their success, the volunteer militia also fought in groups of five, achieving great results.
Raymond’s army, however, wasn’t about to take it lying down.
The fighting spirit of the knights and the militiamen who had been recruited was not low.
Since it was the end of the line if they were to lose.
But if they won the battle, they would be spared.
The militiamen had families in each city… and threatened with the fate of their families should they lose… they had no choice but to fight to the death.
The nature of war itself in the first place, is inhumane, right…?
A volley of shots from the adventurer magic corps, positioned in the middle guard of Raymond’s army, landed on the central division of the Southern Army.
In general, offensive magic has a shorter range than arrow attacks.
However, they have the advantage of being easier to aim than bows and arrows.
It is possible to hit the target accurately…in most cases.
The Southern Army, in turn, fired arrows at the magic corps.
Of course, as mentioned earlier, activating <Wind Pressure> rendered the arrows useless.
However, during that time frame, the momentum of the offensive magic is weakened.
Furthermore, by making them use wind pressure, it also ate into their remaining magic power.
That fine game was being played between the two armies.
Ryo, who wasn’t accustomed to such things, just couldn’t get it.
“I think I should just step in and end all this with a single…”
“No, Ryo, sit down.”
Abel retorted with one statement.
“As I said yesterday, we must win with the entire Southern army. If we don’t do so, it will hinder our subsequent plan of recapturing the royal capital and pursuing the imperial army, and most importantly, it will cause problems in governing after we regain the entire Kingdom. We all came together to reclaim it…that one simple fact is indispensable.”
“I-I know, but still…”
“If you’re going to make an appearance, it’s going to be right before the final phase. Till then, sit still, Ryo.”
Normally, that was where Ryo would act spoiled, but they were in a battlefield.
And Abel was the supreme commander.
The orders of the supreme commander are absolute. …Otherwise, the organization would not be able to function.
Even Ryo understands that much.
But even so….
Yeah, even so…if he were to step in, the number of casualties in front of him would surely go down…he realized that, and even he though understood the logic in his head, his heart was in agony.
The battlefield was one such place…a place where the heart was tormented.
The battle, which began around nine in the morning, was still in a kind of stalemate before noon, with neither side having the advantage.
Raymond’s forces pushing in with the flanking maneuver were being pulled out using hit-and-run tactics, and then whittled down with magic artillery fire from both sides, which they had to react to…and then were pushed back again.
That tactical deployment proved that Master McGrath was not only an A-ranker as an adventurer, but also as a commander.
Undoubtedly, that was made possible thanks to the flawless bombardment command of Landenvia, the guildmaster of Acre, who led the adventurer magicians.
Of the adventurer magicians who joined the Southern Army, those with fire and earth attributes were under Landenvia’s command.
Wind-attribute magicians were stationed at various locations for <Wind Pressure> deployment, with priests running around and administering treatment.
Master McGrath, who had been on the front lines for nearly three hours without any rest at all, commanding and sometimes attacking the enemy himself, was indeed beginning to show signs of fatigue, even for a former A-ranker.
“Ahh damn it. This is what happens when you do nothing but paperwork…guess I’ve lost my touch.”
Master McGrath blurted out, and a ceramic container was presented in front of him.
“Here, Master McGrath, it’s a special recovery potion to relieve your fatigue.”
“Oh, thanks. Don’t mind if I do.”
Landenvia, the one leading the magicians, offered it to McGrath.
Master McGrath accepted it without hesitation and drank it in one gulp.
“Hoo~! Tastes pretty neat, too! It was made on purpose for this battle, wasn’t it? I hope they keep producing it all the time…I can feel it melting away my fatigue.”
“It takes more effort than ordinary healing potions…so it might prove a little difficult to produce unless during a time of war like this.”
Landenvia responded to Master McGrath’s rather serious request with a wry smile.
As Master McGrath works hard every day, exhausted from all the paperwork, he would love to have this fatigue-relieving wonder at his fingertips.
He kept his eyes on the front lines despite his disgruntled face.
Since he knew from his vast experience.
If there were going to be any surprises, it should be about time.
Hence the reason he continued to command the front line.
That’s when it happened.
Several barrels came flying from the middle or perhaps rear guard of Raymond’s army.
The ‘barrels’ landed a little further back in the Southern Army from the front line and suddenly exploded.
Yup, they ‘exploded’.
With a roaring sound, the people and a big chunk of the ground at the point of impact were blown away.
“What the hell…”
The sight startled Master McGrath and made Landenvia exclaim.
They had no clue about ‘black powder’, one of the Kingdom’s top secrets.
“I knew it, they already had some in possession.”
Ilarion Baraha, at the central command post on top of the hill, said with a bitter look on his face when he saw the ‘barrels’ explode.
He and Abel had pursued the matter of ‘black powder’ stored in the royal capital being diverted to Carlisle, the capital of Flitwick Dukedom, in the mess that occurred before the chaos in the royal capital.
They heard that the younger brothers of Lord Hookah, the Minister of Finance were involved, replacing the contents of the black powder being diverted to prevent it from ending up in Carlisle, but it appears they were not able to prevent it entirely.
Come to think of it…Raymond had joined forces with Lord Aubrey of the Union at the time, and now he’s joined forces with the Empire…and doing something that could be called traitorous rather than sugarcoating it as unconventional.
Ilarion let out a small sigh.
Now wasn’t the time to think about it.
He activated <Amplification> magic.
“This is a direct order to all magicians in the southern army. Shoot down every last one of those incoming barrels.”
Ilarion gave orders to the entire army from the central command post using <Amplification>.
That was an exceptional tool for an army that has no choice but to issue instructions either by hand signals or expensive alchemy tools.
Normally, under chaotic conditions such as those on the battlefield, <Amplification> cannot be used.
It was only made possible because the user was Ilarion, and because it was a special <Amplification> tuned for use on the battlefield.
Fire-attribute offensive magic was also fired from Ilarion’s side toward the new batch of incoming barrels.
The caster was Arthur Verasis, deputy commander of the Southern Army Magic Corps.
All magicians except adventurers were under the command of Ilarion and Arthur.
The barrel exploded on the spot when Arthur’s magic hit it.
“Sounds deafening even when destroyed mid-air, doesn’t it?”
Arthur blurted out.
“It’s a lot better than on the ground, where it could engulf our allies.”
Arthur agreed with Ilarion’s lighthearted remark.
Having seen so many deaths, both friend and foe, the two of them may have reached a certain point of enlightenment.
To live a long life is to see many deaths.
In the end, the attack with ‘black powder’, which was a drastic or rather desperate measure, failed to shake the Southern Army.
“I guess it’s about time.”
Abel checked the battle situation from the central command post on the hill and looked at his pocket watch.
“Ilarion, Ryo, if you’d please.”
Abel said, and Ilarion answered. Ryo nodded his head and left the central command center, heading for the front line.
Ilarion announced to the entire Southern Army using <Amplification>.
“The water-attribute magician is on his way. All troops evacuate. I repeat. The water-attribute magician is on his way. All troops evacuate.”
Master McGrath, who had been on the front line of the battle, raised his head as if he had been hit by a bullet at the sound of Ilarion’s voice.
He then looked around and shouted.
“Everyone fall back!”
Having said that, in a state where they were currently engaged with the enemy, they weren’t able to break off so easily.
For the time being, he began restraining enemies keeping his allies from escaping by throwing knives at them as they pulled away.
In the end, they somehow managed to retreat together.
Needless to say, the enemies gave chase, but more importantly, they didn’t seem to understand what was happening.
If an opponent who had been fighting on even grounds suddenly started retreating, it would be confusing.
The front-line commanders would think it was a trap.
Taking advantage of such confusion, the Southern Army’s front line succeeded in pulling back to some extent.
Master McGrath was at the tail end of the withdrawal from the front line.
And he could see Ryo standing alone at the end of the line where he was headed.
“Come to think of it, this is the first time I’ll be seeing Ryo work his magic.”
He mumbled but kept running without stopping.
Then his eyes met Ryo’s.
Ryo gave a small nod and chanted.
<Floating Magic Circle>.
At that moment, in Master McGrath’s eyes, Ryo’s sheath seemed to glow just a little.
A slight leak…a faint light, only for a brief moment, as the alchemy was activated.
Then, sixteen magic circles floated up around Ryo.
“What the hell…is that…?”
Master McGrath muttered as he continued running.
When those who were running with him stopped in their tracks, he patted them on the back, urging them to keep running.
They were all surprised.
Although they were running hastily, they were still within Ryo’s magic range…Master McGrath could feel it.
Then he looked at Ryo.
Ryo must have understood.
He smiled a little and floated up.
Along with the sixteen magic circles floating around him, Ryo floated into the sky.
And as he stood still in the air, he heard Ryo’s voice chanting.
“<Icicle Lance Shower ‘Fan’>”
At that moment, hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of ice lances were launched from Ryo and those magic circles.
From the sky, countless ice lances could be seen flying in an unfolded fan shape, with Ryo at the center.
They shimmered beautifully, reflecting the rays of the falling sun.
Many of Raymond’s frontline commanders wondered at the sudden retreat of the Southern troops.
Most of them recognized that it was a “trap”.
But, the problem was what came after.
If it’s a trap, how do they proceed?
The answer they had was, “we do nothing”.
To be precise, it was “nothing we can do”, but at that point, it was pretty much the same either way.
From the Southern Army’s point of view, or more precisely, from Ryo’s point of view, they were immobile targets.
The ice lances, faster than the speed of sound, bit into the battle lines of Raymond’s army and completely disintegrated it.
The lances, fired in a fan shape, were not only fired as a single volley.
With each simultaneous shot, Ryo increased his altitude a little more, and gradually fired at ‘targets’ farther and farther away.
From above, the ice fans expanded in area with time….
“Abel’s order is to neutralize the enemy. Though it’d be easier to kill them …. But, they are also fellow citizens of the Kingdom. After the war, they’ll become valuable assets to be incorporated into the Kingdom’s army. So all I’m doing is just destroying their weapons and rendering them helpless.”
Tens of thousands of ice lances destroyed the weapons held by Raymond’s soldiers, knocked over their horses…and took away their will to fight.
Drawing his sword, King Abel swung down his right hand and, through Ilarion’s <Amplification>, commanded the entire Southern army.
“All troops charge!”
It was indeed, a long-awaited order.
The Rune Frontier County troops, positioned on the far right flank of the Southern Army, began to charge toward Raymond’s army in the front under the command of Alfonso Spinazola, the next lord of the Rune Frontier.
And the troops of the Marquis of Heinlein, positioned on the far left flank of the Southern Army, led by Marquis Alexis Heinlein, their lord, launched a cavalry charge with the knights against Raymond’s army in the front.
And in the center.
New adventurers charged forward in place of those who had just retreated.
Adventurers from Rune.
Leading the charge were a swordsman and a shield-bearer.
Close behind were a spear-wielder, a magic swordswoman, a dual swordsman, and a scout.
And two swordsmen.
The leading swordsman was Abel, the King…and the shield-bearer was Warren.
Abel is without a doubt an adventurer and a swordsman through and through before he is a King, for him to take the lead charging ahead of the assault order he had personally commanded.
Running behind them were Phelps, the leader of the White Brigade, his deputy Sheena, as well as Blair, the dual swordsman, and Lorenzo, the scout.
The two D-rank swordsmen from ‘Room 10’, Niels and Amon, managed to keep up with the A and B-rank parties.
Although they are D-rankers, ‘Room 10’, who have become known as ‘wyvern slayers’, have come to be respected not only by adventurers in Rune city, but also by adventurers in other cities.
But they were followed by hundreds of other adventurers.
All of Rune’s adventurers specializing in melee charged as King Abel’s Kingsguard.
Ahead of the southern army’s assault, the chain of command of Raymond’s army was already in tatters.
Ryo’s ice lances had destroyed their weapons. Resistance was impossible.
The knights, magicians, adventurers, and the conscripted militiamen….
What would happen if the Rune Knights and the Heinlein Knights came charging at them with all their might…they would have no choice but to flee as fast as their legs could carry them.
The aim of those two knight orders was not to drive Raymond’s army away.
Both knight orders finished breaking through all the outer edges of the vanguard and middle guard of Raymond’s army, and against the rear guard units, they began to break through diagonally and toward the center.
From the sky, their trajectory was like closing the mouth of a sack.
While blocking and encircling the rear, they were on course to hit King Raymond, who was in the center of the rear guard, in other words, at the highest command post.
“Damn it, he’s not here?”
“He already fled…”
“He abandoned his allies and left just like that?”
The highest command post that both knights hit was already empty….
They did not know at what point he escaped, but the capture of King Raymond was unsuccessful.
However, the battle between King Abel and King Raymond ended that day with King Abel’s victory.