Chapter 32 – Resembling a blow that isn’t too much nor too little

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The wind is ringing and the earth is grumbling. The sky is serene and high. The ground stirs as it’s kicked and stepped on.
While Kustaa changed the grip of his spear to two-handed, he stood up in the stirrup against better judgement. It’s a sort of dangerous riding trick, and yet it’s impossible to make the horse decelerate. In front of his eyes spreads an area with gentle hills within the Plain of Wandering Calamity. He is instinctively able to interpret all of the ups and downs as merit for tactics. After stretching his neck, he looked at the rear suddenly.
While making the White Dragon Flag flutter across its entire length, 500 riders gallop. He recognises the faces of all of them, they are his colleagues with whom he went through both joys and sorrows for this time, for this day. Kustaa smiles within the wind pressure. Responding smiles appeared everywhere. It stands to reason. They are currently allowed to dash forward as military men underneath their true lord. Even the enemy they are supposed to defeat… there!
On the opposite site of the 500 smiles a pterosaur is flapping in the wind. A light cavalry battalion of the Imperial army, 1000 riders. The state of them rushing ahead of us makes it easy to understand that they are good riders by the manner in which they seem to pitch forwards as if falling. Those wielding spears are still obvious, but Kustaa holds doubts what the people, who have drawn their swords with their associates in the meantime, are planning to cut. It’s completely a race with the ranks being disordered.
(Well, in regards to the ranks, our side looks bad, but… hmm) (Kustaa)
Kustaa’s 500 riders are galloping in groups of several riders each. With them intermingling in a meandering way with each other, overall it certainly looks unsightly, I suppose… I made them advance so that it would seem like that.
(The distance is around this much, I suppose. They way of being disordered is so-so, too. However, are their horses just a tiny bit inferior? It will be troublesome if I can’t get them to run a bit longer.) (Kustaa)
The reason for Kustaa deliberately standing up was that it would be difficult to adjust the speed if he can’t check with his eyes. It’s quite complicated to keep a distance where they aren’t overtaken while appearing to be so. For Kustaa there are many worrying scenes where the opponent is an enemy who has insufficient military technique. It’s also necessary for them to appear appetising as a carrot before one’s eyes.
However, the compensation of all that work approached in a distinct shape.
A hill like a huge wall can be seen in front of the route. It’s long and tall. Since there are small undulations on both sides once you arrive there, it might appear as if Kustaa’s group is leaping into a dead end of the plains once one looked down from the heavens. He went ahead while examining the spacious terrain, but it’s a location that was recognised as perfect ground for a cavalry vs. cavalry battle.

“… Alright, go, go.” (Kustaa)

Right after announcing that, Kustaa sat down and spurred on his horse. The wind pressure immediately gains in strength. It’s a horse with the distinction of being chosen from among good horses, which were singled out before having been trained. If he felt like it now, it would be fast. He approved of it with a passing mark, it’s different from a horse of the same kind. Kustaa believes in that proudly. We now move gladly as the elite war potential of our lord!
Without changing their speed on the open field, the 500 riders ran up a slope. Turning towards the right as they ascend, they are drawing a parabola with the horse-riding cluster on the hill. As if something that was thrown into the sky and is now falling down in return… the 500 riders were now running down with a sharpness in their ranks similar to a spearhead. At the head is Kustaa. He plunges in headfirst.

“Get ready!” (Kustaa)

In front of Kustaa’s eyes was reflected the situation of his allies crushing into the enemy. What hit the enemy at the flanks, appearing from the undulations at both sides, are 500 elite light cavalry riders on each side. Penetrating into the 1000 enemy riders even while flying the White Dragon Flag in the wind in a strange state, they run up the undulations while inverting each others sides. The ones left behind are only the disordered enemies.
Towards a place that turned into a chaotic crucible where men and horses aren’t maintaining front and rear anymore. Into a forest of flesh and iron with the name called horse-riding.

“Go!” (Kustaa)

They pierced through.
The enemy, although being divided into three big parts due to the penetration from left and right, was cut up in a straight line. That breakthrough force, which had its might enhanced by speed, rivals the charge of heavy cavalry. Penetrating the vague interior of the cluster as something sharp, tough and swift, they spread out and scattered the enemies. In front of the spearhead with the name Kustaa the masses are also divided. The rider’s lance with its scarlet decoration, which is brandished in both his hands, is repeatedly painted in red, without the time to dry, as it emits steam.

“Capture the horses! Kill the men!” (Kustaa)

Now taking up position at the exit and entrance which became a dead end for the Imperial army, Kustaa wields his lance more and more. There is no intention to let either horses or men get away from the encirclement with Kustaa’s 500 riders in the west, a hill in the east and 500 riders each in the north and south. Although a small quantity of horses disappeared towards the east, he offered them surrender without waiting for the imperial soldiers to be halved.

“If you don’t want to die, take off all clothes and lay upside down on the ground. The hands behind your head. If a single one runs away, we will kill 10 in his surroundings. The officers shall come forward. It will turn into a massacre if you lie. Speech except by the officers is prohibited. Disobedience in this will cause killing in the surroundings as well.” (Kustaa)

As he actually kills several tens of people, Kustaa hastens the disarmament of the Imperial forces. They are tied up and their clothes and armours are collected. All of his colleagues were used to it from their business as mounted bandits.

“I-I am the vice-commanding officer of the Imperial Army’s 208th Light Cavalry Battalion.”

“What happened to the commanding officer?” (Kustaa)

“… He died in battle!”

“Tell me that guy’s name. Search for his corpse. There’s his equipment as well. Do it swiftly.” (Kustaa)

“Wh-… b-bastard! You asshole, the courtesy in war.”

“Shut up. The next time you unnecessarily open your mouth, I will kill 10 people besides you. Hurry up.” (Kustaa)

“… !!”

Having sent a fast messenger, they finished the basic work before he returned. The rope, which bound their hands behind their backs, was stretched over to the flesh-coloured people and they were lined up by linking them together. After enclosing the horses in a loose dead end, their bits and stirrups are also linked together by ropes. Also, apart from that, the 500 riders with Kustaa changed their equipment to that of the seized Imperial army’s light cavalry. The hoisted flag has the seal of a pterosaur. It’s the completion of improvised imperial forces.

“Okay, switch with the guys who came to take over the wounded. The same for the vacant positions. There are no more than 100 reserves. You lot, though it’s fine to be injured, take care to not die!” (Kustaa)

Kustaa passes his short rest by receiving reports from the companies and platoons. Without anticipating it, the messenger and transportation personnel arrived. They are made to head east after giving them prompt orders. After confirming that the prisoners staggeringly disappeared behind the hill, Kustaa advanced his horse towards the presence of his lord.

“They were a lukewarm bunch.”

“Since the main force of the empire is deployed towards the southern side, well, I guess that’s how it is.”

Accompanied by 99 riders with a red cloth, he, with the black hair and blue eyes, is showing a calm bearing on top of his horse’s back. Marko. He is the lord who constantly grants numbness of his premonitions to Kustaa. Having an eternally unchanging expression, there’s no blood smeared on the spearhead, he holds lightly, at first sight. However it was him whom Kustaa understand for sure. The unique spear method of drilling and piercing a single spot drawing a spiral of red on the handle without leaving blood on the blade. Kustaa was unable to suppress his smile.

“Next time let them get away at a suitable moment. Do you understand?” (Marko)

“It’s an argument of may-not. At most I will try to recommend escape in an imperial dialect, yes.” (Kustaa)

“Mmh? Did you have such special skill?” (Marko)

“I was taught somewhat by that Bertrand fellow. During the course of event’s at a drinking bout in the village, yes.” (Kustaa)

“… Ah, that brawling disturbance? Now that you mention it, you were provoked, weren’t you?” (Marko)

“That’s because I can put my devotion into words. There’s no way he will get me angry like this. That asshole.” (Kustaa)

While vowing in his heart to settle it privately in front of his lord, Kustaa spurred on his horse in order to accomplish his own mission. 500 riders follow after him. It’s a disguised travel as the imperial army’s light cavalry from a moment ago, thus they were conscious of the awkward speed and ranks for no particular reason. Concealing his fighting spirit at the bottom of his stomach, the idea of purposely having no feeling of tension surfaces in his mind. He felt like they were a carefree bunch.
At present Kustaa finished half of the third battle in the Plain of Wandering Calamity.
Heading towards a confrontation with an Imperial Army’s regiment that has a strength of 3000 soldiers and consists of 1000 light cavalry and 2000 infantrymen, Kustaa’s group plans to crush these numbers with just 1500 light cavalry. First the 500 riders including Kustaa lured in the enemy’s light cavalry with their act of being clumsy and once they detached them from the infantry, they succeeded in assaulting them with 1000 riders in an ambush. Next the 500 riders will plunge into the enemy’s infantry by disguising themselves as their allies and the remaining 1000 riders will attack the place which was thrown into confusion. That’s the strategy. However, the outcome they are wishing for is to scatter the enemy to let them get away without killing too many of them.
Of course, that’s not only for the sake of winning. It’s one part of the plan of Marko. It’s a deed similar to the objective of not returning to the front line fortress once after the Royal Guard Unit sortied. The fourth battle after this enemy was defeated is their true goal.
(Right, it’s this. It’s certainly because that person is battling in such way.)(Kustaa)
In the tight helmet of the imperial army, Kustaa was aware of his own face grinning broadly. Kustaa is conceited above average about his tactics in horse-riding. A person who can go to war successfully to a degree that it surprises even me and is more skilled than such a me… Such person is Kustaa’s lord. It’s Marko’s place that is currently employing him.
There is something Marko declared before their sortie. “This time’s sortie will spread the name of the Royal Guard Unit across the continent. There will be sacrifices, but by raising achievements no one else is able to, its existence will be carved into history.” That was excessively audacious and yet his declaration was filled with conviction. What made the Royal Guard Unit into one body was just this moment, Kustaa recalls. It was also a dearly missed scenery. Controlling the battle due to being made to believe in victory with those words by that child… That person who mesmerized Kustaa and whom he admired was there at that place. It was no dream.
Preceding their sortie, a single rumour was circulated at the front line. According to it, the 3000 soldiers, who were splendidly beaten up by an Imperial Army’s battalion the other day, were from that Sword Square Knight Order who has once again come back to the front line some time ago. It appears that Marquis Yurihalshira intends to deliver a strong blow to the Imperial Army on this occasion. He who makes light of growing old. The esteemed general of the country’s defence is going strong.
It was a plausible rumour that the place, where their target has headed to, lies in the southern part of the Plain of Wandering Calamity. From the facts that it was after all the southern area where the knight order patrolled at the time of the previous battle and that the supply line towards Yurihalshira Margraviate is located on the southern side as well, it was a story everyone accepted as a supposedly natural fact. The rumour was spread in order for it to happen like that. By Marko and the others.
Yes, this is no more than a fabricated lie. However, it’s a story everyone expects to likely be true. After the actual location itself was announced as the real spot of the Sword Square Knight Order to be stationed at the front line, it already changed into reality.
Furthermore, that rumour also circulated to the empire’s side. We bought several prisoners for their trick so that it would be conveyed. I’m sure the other side has an intelligence network, too. The empire’s side showed an instant reaction. That’s because it’s about Marquis Yurihalshira and the Sword Square Knight Order. Concentrating their patrolling units in the south, their precautions were strengthened and they were told to kill the imperious-seeming knight order on sight. Those might be correct measures. With them being just a little premature, they aren’t wrong.
However, because it was far too early, Kustaa’s group deeply invaded into the northern part of the Plain of Wandering Calamity while pushing back the empire now!
The inhospitality towards the Royal Guard Unit has affected this as well. Friendly troops aren’t dispatched to the front. Something like a patrolling mission with independent corps has been thoughtlessly terminated by the kingdom’s front line. However, that was intentional. Since the Royal Guard Unit has sortied to prove its “courage,” nobody has been allowed to deliberately hinder that… the point of the sortie without reinforcements is reasoned by taking them at their word which has been adorned with such poison.
For this reason the rumour is more effective than the truth.
Currently the troops in the northern part of the Plain of Wandering Calamity are always scarce to an unbelievable extent. The enemy and their allies aren’t here, as most of them are single-mindedly focussed in the south. Now that Kustaa’s lot is camouflaged as an imperial army, it’s only the 1000 riders, which include Marko, flying the White Dragon Flag.
Yes, even the main force of Akseli’s Royal Guard Unit isn’t in the northern part.
At the moment they sortied from the fortress, the Royal Guard Unit was marching while hoisting the White Dragon Flag with 3000 soldiers. And, when they encountered a patrolling unit of the Imperial Army it turned into their first battle. Akseli’s unit’s, Yalkho’s unit’s and Oiva’s unit’s 1500 soldiers linked up into a firm formation and confronted the enemy steadily on their first march as Royal Guard Unit.
Even for the Imperial Army it was a battle flag they have seen for the first time. Moreover, for an army they likely had in a sense unsophisticated movements. Being startled by the imperial army and having weak vigilance, the confrontation of armies dragged on without either side opening hostilities. That’s because it was an unit that didn’t look like a main force. Those of the Imperial Army, who have actual ability, were in the southern part of the Plain of Wandering Calamity at that time. Even the royal army, to cope with that, used part of its military force in the south as well. Although it might be temporarily, the Imperial Army’s battle array in the north is sparse and weak. Moreover they were unskilled, too. Since it was the first campaign of the Royal Guard Unit in the end, if you speak of the royal army that faced them, either side couldn’t sneer at it. It wasn’t an atmosphere where either could strike unreasonably.
And then, with Kustaa’s light cavalry swooping down on the enemy ferociously, the enemy forces were routed.
The Imperial Army was completely unable to deal with the sudden change from laxness to crisis. Breaking through by going around and cutting into the right wing, their battle formation was torn to shreds while the enemy wasn’t able to detach their attention from Akseli’s group at the front. Especially the 100 riders led by Marko charged into the centre and rampaged. Due to Kustaa’s lot coordinating with them in that, the enemy’s losses were amplified into something enormous. In the end, with Akseli’s 1500 just watching, it turned into an annihilation with just the 1500 light cavalry.
After contacting the supply unit, the Royal Guard Unit headed further west as is.
The second battle ended in victory in the exact opposite way of the first battle. This time the 1500 light cavalry disturbed the enemy forces as decoy and threw their pace out of order. And, while the enemy had their attention lured by that manoeuvre, Akseli’s 1500 infantrymen clashed into them. At the location which was pierced with arrows and spears, the decisive action was the cavalry charge by the 500 heavy cavalry led by Akseli. Because it was the circling movement towards the enemy’s rear by Kustaa’s lot which produced that gap, it was a battle where the difference of duties in the first battle became apparent.
There were damages to the infantry unit as well. It was decided that the Royal Guard Unit would change their course at this point. They headed to the south. Given that they would simply withdraw, it bore the danger of drawing in the enemy. They wouldn’t be able to gain time for the supply unit to withdraw either. Thus they slowly headed south while preparing something like a wooden fortress, albeit a simple one, and took up position there. That place was good for fighting and it was also nice for quietly pulling the enemy in after luring them suitably. They even didn’t forget to dispatch messengers to the allied forces deployed in the south. Having already triumphed in two battles, they have succeeded in proving their “courage.” There would be nothing more left than dealing with it appropriately in case they were to be abandoned beyond this.
However, Kustaa isn’t within that battle formation. Dashing towards the north once again as soon as the supplying finished, he shifted the neck of his horse towards deeper into the west. And, discovering patrolling enemy forces with low morale has turned into the third battle. Acting as if the 500 riders got lost, they threw their easy prey off guard. And, after luring the 1000 light cavalry riders, who were a sufficient horse-riding war potential, they destroyed them together with Marko’s 1000 riders who were hidden.
Fighting up to here, the military operation is still in the middle of its progress.
At Kustaa’s front the battle flags of the imperial army became visible. The enemy is in a negligent, sorry state as it’s an area where it’s unthinkable for the royal army to appear. The soldiers have more or less formed into ranks, but they probably should be in a battle formation with a little more wariness after they were left behind by their cavalry war potential, Kustaa is astonished. Rather, shall we attack them just like this?
Of course he won’t do such thing. He knows. I’m no more than a game piece on the board where the war is carried out by that person. A piece that can run well and kill well. If it moves selfishly, it will be likely forsaken cold-heartedly by that person. For that person war is in all respects rational. Involving the soldiers in a battle, which seems to be an attempt to amass luck with imprudence and being engrossed in front of the enemy, is something he loathes from the bottom of his heart.
(… Well, that’s why he probably failed in due course. It would be great if it was the opposite at least. That person and the hero guy.) (Kustaa)
While his chest aches a bit due to him recalling the old times, Kustaa opens his mouth widely. Standing up in the stirrup, while grabbing the reins in one hand since it’s acting, he extends the other hand at the side of his mouth and shouts.

“Oouih! Stray enemies escaped! We arrested half of them as prisoners!” (Kustaa)

Kustaa smiled with a natural feeling. For a lie that seems to be the truth it’s wrong if all of it is a lie. Without blending truth into it, it doesn’t feel real either. It’s alright, the second half is true. It’s fine for you guys to smile as well… while ridiculing them like this in his heart.

“Since there’s also many horses, it’s difficult to travel. Let’s join up with the other party.” (Kustaa)

Since that was a complete lie, Kustaa understood that it gave birth to suspicions towards his own words. I can grasp that from the expressions looking up this way. Yes… we are already at such close proximity.

“Well, please join them in the world of the dead or somewhere else. With that half of it will turn into truth.” (Kustaa)

Fresh blood flew around while he wielded his spear. That continues all over. Surprise, angry roars, screams, grief… while those resounded, the infringement of the 500 riders began. On this side everyone is silent. Kustaa doesn’t have the time to raise his voice each and every time because he is killing. Words themselves are weapons. They create plans. Even from now on like this.

“Run away, it’s fine to escape! This place is already an extremely dangerous place! It’s a place dominated by death!” (Kustaa)

While yelling in the gaps between killing, Kustaa pondered as well. How should I settle things with that man called Bertrand? I cannot afford to risk my life and it’s the same with my lord’s life. Either of us is a game piece of my lord. Killing between fellow game pieces will end in both sides being abandoned. If that’s the case, how can I teach him a lesson…? Does he rather want me to decide it primarily?
Once he looks, Marko as one part of the 99 riders with red clothes has come galloping. There we go, it’s the conclusion of the third battle, Kustaa deepened his ferocious smile. While talking in imperial dialect, he wields his spear and kills moderately.
And, the fourth battle will be… the beginning of the conclusion of this sortie.
As result of it, Asuria Kingdom and Eberia Empire would become aware of the name of a single boy for his military fame.

 


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