Chapter 37 – A battle is a clash of power versus power

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Are the wide, hazy and thin clouds in the blue sky proof of wind blowing in the high heavens? It’s something far in the distance, which no man’s hand can ever hope to reach, eternally existing in the high sky. No matter how many battle flags they make flutter in the wind, in the end it doesn’t exceed the bravery of a person who walks on the ground. But, it’s a conquest. That’s because a person’s pride can’t be obtained anywhere but in the world of people… is what she thinks.
There was a single horseman who wore an extravagant army overcoat made out of red and purple threads and had golden decorations on the black steel. Even for the Eberia Empire a female knight being unusual remains unusual. No… she should be called a former knight, shouldn’t she? Her name is Berta Ignacio with her maiden name being Alba. Her family name has changed not due to marriage, but thanks to getting adopted.
The Ignacio household. It’s an Earl household among the Four Marquis’ and Six Earls of the Eberia Empire. It’s a powerful family of nobles. Originally being born to a Knight household, she climbed the ranks because of her prowess in the art of war. Now she is standing still, while clad in arms befitting her social position. She is a display of artistic gallantry.
Berta breathed making sure to inhale the thinly-spread, wonderful air from the lukewarm, late spring atmosphere. There’s no meaning unless it’s something filling the inside of those wearing heavy armours and helmets. Mustering her honed mentality, passion is born. From the abdomen to the chest. From the chest to the mouth. And then it’s released.

“All of you! Brethren who unified under the banner of the gold-crowned sword king! The time has finally come!” (Berta)

Once she roared while holding up her spear, the 3000 elite heavy cavalry riders concorded with their yells and spears. All of them are honourable imperial knights. They are young lions who pierce armours and helmets with the long bows in their hands and who mow down the ground with the long-handled spears they possess. It shouldn’t be necessary to talk about their skill in swordsmanship as well. Only those who are strong have the qualification to join this chivalric order.
The Golden-crowned Sword Chivalric Order.
This chivalric order, which is led by Berta, exists as a trump card of the imperial army on the battlefield. Small military accomplishments hold no meaning to them. Them not being accompanied by foot soldiers is proof of that. It’s their usual custom to whittle down a part of the enemy forces as a means to check the military exploits of the individuals. Although the knights always have the subordinate knights ensure that, they have no interest in such an act of confirmation from the very start.
The time when the gold-crowned sword king flag stirs, is certainly the moment when the state of the war shifts. It’s not for victory as an individual unit. These 3000 riders only wield their military force in the pursuit of victory for the imperial army.
Right… Berta is currently facing a large army as a single unit within another large army.

“We are going to rush at the enemy! Follow me!” (Berta)

The battlefield is the Plain of Wandering Calamity. It’s a meeting place of soldiers who wash blood with blood.
The enemy is around 50.000 soldiers of Asuria’s royal army. The allies consist of approximately 45.000 soldiers of Eberia’s imperial army.
Berta’s 3000 riders, who were placed close to the centre’s left wing of both armies, which deployed widely in the plain, forcefully launched forward. On their horses’ hooves they step into that nearly certain death consisting of rains of arrows and forests of spears. They are clad by an invisible flame called battle spirit. Even while their numbers decrease by one, and then one more, they don’t retreat.

“Fire!” (Berta)

A successive shooting of arrows from atop the horseback. All of them are longbows that usually take three people to draw the bowstring. The allies’ arrows from the back were focussed as well. A slight disorder was produced in the line of the enemy army in Berta’s cavalry’s path. Berta’s group dashes into that tear, which will likely close right away, while perceiving that they must not miss the opportunity that won’t exist for much longer. They rush in. They stab with their swords.
The sound of something being broken was released into the atmosphere.
The 3000 riders, which pushed their way through into that opening existing in the soldiers’ line that are similar to a multi-layered wall, were just like a steel wedge. Far from being repelled, they tightly penetrate deep inside. They scatter blood as they clear away the surroundings. They exhibit their fierce military prowess. The royal army’s battle array writhed in agony while hating it. The place, where the wedge hit, was a spot they couldn’t ignore. It was an excellent spot compelling them to react.
Moving its battle formation, the royal army attempted to crush the 3000 riders somehow. Otherwise the communication with the entire army will fail. However, because of that, the imperial army begins to push. The royal army’s momentum has been killed and in proportion to that, the imperial army’s momentum has increased. And, perceiving the movements of their allies in the rear, the 3000 riders advance further in.

“Destroy them! Hit and crush them!! We are the empire’s sword! The sharpest military force!!” (Berta)

It was appropriate to call the 3000 rider’s way of fighting a storm. While penetrating deeply into the middle of the enemy, they don’t allow getting surrounded and dominate the surroundings with the force of their blows. They don’t stop advancing deeper and deeper while attacking. Of course, it’s not like they advance unhurt. However, those, who fell off their horses, draw their swords as foot soldiers at once and swing them until the moment of their deaths. These people are also powerful.
At the place where Berta’s cavalry was thoroughly rampaging, a group in majestic equipment appeared in order to stand in their way. The battle flag they are flying depicts a wheat ear surrounded by a circle. It’s the Round Edge Chivalric Order known for its name in the Asuria Kingdom’s Eteramaki Earldom. It’s said that a lot of military personnel belongs to them.

“Just when I was wondering who it might be, it’s a woman!? First I shall praise you as admirable, but your head will be decorating my spear!”

An especially big knight among that chivalric order roared while brandishing his long-handled spear with a buzz. Was he taking her lightly by not even lowering his face guard, or did he wish to keep his field of vision? His pride becomes apparent on his face and his nasal breathing becomes rough as well.

“I’m Osshi Otala! The raging spear of the Round Edge Chivalric Order is me! It’s a duel!!” (Osshi)

“I’m Berta Ignacio. I have no use for your head. You shall simply die on my spearhead!” (Berta)

The two clashed.
The skill of the knight, who called himself Osshi, is certain. He handles his spear freely from atop his horse. His thrusts are sharp and his strikes have power to the degree of ripping the air. Even his steering of the horse with just his two feet is skilful. He is indeed strong… Berta evaluated his ability in her mind. And she does nothing but defending herself. Focussing her mind on his spearhead, she sticks to parrying and repelling all of his attacks by making free use of her armoured elbows and shoulders. She kills the enemy’s techniques.

“Humph! Are you hesitating!?!” (Osshi)

The one who made his horse withdraw while saying that is Osshi. He used his hand to lower the face guard in the instant when he secretly hid himself behind the horse’s neck, but Berta isn’t someone to miss such a chance. While devoting herself to accelerating up to the brink of her body falling off the horse, she pulled away her right hand on the way and unleashed a one-handed thrust with her left hand using all her power. As she thrusts, she sharply twists the inner side of her palm.
She pierces him in one go. She drills into a fatal spot. In no more than a mere flash.
Berta’s blow hit the face of Osshi just in the moment he tried to hide it while grazing the horse’s neck. It’s his mouth. Her spearhead vanishes into the mouth cavity as if being sucked in. The bloody feeling led to an iron sensation after something hard was broken. Doing that to the limit, she immediately draws back the spear until below her hand. Once she recovered her stance while making a rotation in the opposite direction of the twist which reached her shoulder, a spiral blood trace was drawn on the spearhandle.
That’s Berta’s very own and best thrusting technique. Learning by hearsay the technique of a certain man, it’s something she imitated in her own way. Piling up research and training, she succeeded in just this one technique. Berta achieved her current standing due to possessing this thrusting technique. Once unleashed, it will definitely kill the target.
Berta doesn’t look at the crumbled-down knight with the tragedy inside his helmet anymore . She doesn’t announce his defeat either. That’s because she’s the person who fights while spearheading the gold-crowned sword king flag. She only gives commands while wiping off the blood on the spearhead.

“Trample them down! Assault the enemy’s headquarters just like that!” (Berta)

She drew her long bow once again in the gap produced by the one-on-one battle. Berta charged in order to mow down the shaken Round Edge Chivalric Order. Right now their allies are following them and break through the royal army all over with hearty, fierce attacks.
Did it turn into an impetus to drop the flags depicting a wheat ear surrounded by a circle? All battle flags of the royal army were trembling and at last the rout began. They were unable to stop the imperial army’s momentum. Once that happens, it’s the end. It’s next to impossible to rally soldiers who started to disperse during the engagement.
However, on the contrary, it also became more difficult to reach the enemy’s headquarters in this chaos. If the enemy flees, their allies chase them. From time immemorial, a pursuit battle offers the best chances to obtain military accomplishments. Berta exhaled slightly and gave her orders while holding up her spear.

“Don’t break the lines! Avenge our fallen comrades by striking down worthwhile enemies! Aim for those who are still resisting as an unit!”

As soon as Berta said that, they routed a platoon that was staying in formation. Promptly judging who’s their officer from his position and posture, she pierces him with one fatal blow. However, even if it’s for obtaining evidence of their military gains, she won’t attack just because she can. Even as both armies are in the process of scattering as it turned into a pursuit battle, she doesn’t split up her chivalric order. Widely surveying the battlefield, she confirms enemies, who take organized actions, and strikes against those.

“Don’t chase too far! Do you plan to compete with bravery by going further ahead than us! Keep the ranks intact!” (Berta)

Berta spared rather a lot of effort to call out to her allies during battle. Although the enemy’s falling apart, that doesn’t mean that all of them became helpless. There was no mistake that they are plotting to re-assemble the troops at the eastern end. They will also be assisted by the rear guard over there. In this place, even between the armies of both countries, it’s the empire’s side which is inferior in numbers.
Getting on with the momentum and chasing them is easy, but also a poor plan. Berta calmly assessed that anew. Currently it’s also a situation where the imperial army’s side can’t do that. Our side’s rear guard is weak and low in numbers. We cannot afford to step in too deep.

“Mop up the remnants of the enemy army! I repeat! Mop up the remnants of the enemy army!” (Berta)

The gold-crowned sword king flag flies as if it’s a sign of firmness. Berta strived to control the army. While gazing at the distant view of the enemy army fading away into the Plain of Wandering Calamity, she influences her surroundings and makes them gather and bundle in battle.

“All of you! It’s our victory! Raise your cries of triumph!” (Berta)

After a short time a war cry of the imperial army resounded in the Plain of Wandering Calamity. The one who was at the very front that was Berta. And the one who received the most praise was Berta as well. The name of the Gold-crowned Sword Chivalric Order is repeatedly shouted. And, the name of Berta, who led them, was yelled by many voices, too.

“Berta-sama! “Thunder General!” Berta-sama!”

“For the glory of the Gold-crowned Sword Chivalric Order! Blessings to the “War Maiden of the Golden Sword!”

Berta and the Gold-crowned Sword Chivalric Order continue to stand there in majesty. Not by showing smiles and waving hands, but by displaying their appearance as the sword of the empire. In their middle is Berta Ignacio. There was even divinity in her way of standing there triumphantly.
Thus, one battle ended.
The Plain of Wandering Calamity battle, which becomes the first clash between the Asuria Kingdom and the Eberia Empire since the outbreak of war. The great battle was won by the imperial army. There was no big difference in losses between the two armies, but it’s obvious that the royal army took flight after being scattered. There were also prisoners and looted items. Who remained on the soil that became the battlefield while roaring is the imperial army.
With it being a battle where both sides wielded power against power without displaying any original stratagems, the significance of that victory was tremendous. They loudly sing praises of their own strength and thoroughly denounce the enemy’s weakness. For the imperial army, which lost its entire main force even while killing the hero, this victory was a necessary experience. There’s also the matter of one of their fortresses being burned down to ashes by a small number of enemies in the previous skirmishes. The reality that they won was something they desired more than anything.
And, at the same time, it meant the birth of a brave.
The larger the exhilarating feeling of victory, the bigger the achievement of the unit that brought it about. With the Gold-crowned Sword Chivalric Order being the brave unit, there’s no other brave but the person leading them. The name of Berta Ignacio resounded across both countries like thunder alongside her nickname.
But, the shadow of glory is also accompanied by sacrifices.
The knights of the Gold-crowned Sword Chivalric Order, which were 3000 knights strong in the beginning, had now lost more than 150 knights in battle and more than doubling that, over 400 knights, were sent to the rear as wounded soldiers. They triumphed and yet suffered 20% casualties. Berta herself has bruises, arrow wounds and cut injuries as well. Especially cruel bruises remained on both her arms after the one-on-one with the knight who introduced himself as Osshi. That’s only natural. Even her steel armour and helmet had been bent and dented.

“Does it hurt?”

There’s a man who finally showed up after Berta, who finished dealing with the post-war period, took rest in the camp. In spite of his entire body being covered by equipment provided by the army, only his military overcoat sways with a strangely high-class black colour. Berta smiled wryly. The booze held in the hand of that man isn’t a brand of the empire. It’s a high-class item produced within the kingdom.

“You arrived quite late at the camp, but being appointed to Lieutenant Colonel is a sign that you won plenty of military achievements, Balcello. Let’s start with congratulations first?” (Berta)

“Let’s keep it off the records since you are making me drink, okay, General Ignacio? I’d like to spare myself a whipping at this age.”

“Heh… so you don’t have any intention to pay the fine then? Call me Berta.” (Berta)

“Then, Berta, it’s a victory celebration.” (Balcello)

Berta prepares the glasses while laughing. Those are cups of wine secretly exchanged in the camp that’s slowly becoming dark, but it possessed a deliciousness that spread through her hurting body with its dull pain. They had a relationship where they were used to pour each other the alcohol.

“… How was the Sword Corner Chivalric Order? Thanks to you taking them on, our side could fight predominantly though.” (Berta)

“They were powerful. We were attacked by arrows and tight battle arrays.” (Balcello)

“A wise strategy. As opponent of Balcello’s light cavalry, it might be foolish to have a contest of speed.” (Berta)

“There was also a commander who was good at dueling, but… you know.” (Balcello)

While not saying anything into the wine cup, he implies that man with his vague tipsiness. It was unthinkable for Berta to not know about whom he was talking. After all, she entered the path of martial arts for the sake of killing that man. She thinks nostalgically about the red of the wine. I swore to defeat him and yet that man ended up getting killed within the flames before he was defeated… Salomon Hahato.
It’s the same for many, having parents serving as soldiers in the imperial army. For Berta, Salomon is her father’s enemy. In addition it’s also revenge for her two elder brothers. If she counts in her mother who died from illness out of mental agony, it’s fine to even call it revenge for her family. Just when she pursued strength in order to defeat that man who robbed her of her family, her revenge was stolen away by the hands of the enemy’s nation. She acted out her lurking emotions in her training, sublimated them, and now at last attained his certain death thrusting technique by learning.
Yes, Berta’s technique is Salomon’s technique. And the one who conveyed that technique to Berta after having seen it is Balcello. The commanders, who know of the Salomon on the battlefield, are few. The strongest among them is this one man. If the two meet with each other, it’s inevitable for the topic of their talks to turn towards Salomon.

“I was able to survive today as well due to that man’s technique. I feel good if I consider that I was able to obtain that man’s strength, but honestly spoken, it’s irritating. I also want to drive it into the person himself. Since that won’t ever come true, I can do nothing else but to keep improving my skill earnestly.” (Berta)

Berta griped while being forced to recall the sensation of the spear in her hands. Only at the time of drinking wine, with this man as her company, she permits herself such conduct. Although attention is paid to her because of her career and abilities even under normal circumstances, Berta has been demanded to become even more exemplary after being adopted into the family of an Earl. Originally it’s already quite a problem for her to have Balcello as a friend, but only this has been granted permission, since it’s something dating back to the time before she became an adopted child.
The emperor’s army’s lieutenant colonel Terencio Balcello. It’s said that he once had been shunned by the emperor because of a plausible rumour about him and the empress, now he is shunned even more as a man who ran home after sacrificing the crown prince. Contrary to his abilities, his bad luck continues.

“Though that technique… it seems there’s one user in the royal army as well.” (Balcello)

“Hoo? I thought that it was that man’s original technique, but was he taught by someone?” (Berta)

“Although I didn’t see it directly, it’s probably impossible for him to have been taught by Salomon directly.” (Balcello)

“Can you assert that?” (Berta)

“Due to the age, you know. Since it’s said that he will become 14 years old this years, it’s likely impossible.” (Balcello)

Due to the unexpected story, Berta took a long and hard look at Balcello’s face. This man has absolutely no interest in anything that’s unrelated to military matters. For example, Berta was never courted by him. Even considering it objectively, Balcello is strange since I’m a popular topic of conversations because of my beautiful face, she thinks. Though it’s a welcome change.
It is strange for such a man to talk about a child that’s said to be 14 years old. Moreover, even though he apparently never met him directly, he has learned by hearsay about the technique he uses. I wonder whether it’s not a story he heard in some kind of investigation?

“Do you know of the cavalry from the “Fire Attack”?” (Balcello)

“Hmm, it’s the light cavalry of the aforementioned Royal Guard Unit of the Third Princess, isn’t it? It doesn’t seem like they participated in this time’s battle though.” (Berta)

“That’s right. It’s said that there was a single child soldier among that cavalry. You probably heard about it?” (Balcello)

Due to Berta’s look, and her knitting her eyebrows a bit, Balcello explained to her in an apologizing manner.

“Yeah, there was such a story, wasn’t there? I thought it was quite a cheap, fabricated story by the other side, but… you say that boy uses it, that man’s technique?” (Berta)

“It seems so. I heard it from the soldiers who ran away from the fortress. From several people.” (Balcello)

Berta ponders. If I remember correctly, Balcello might have had the time to gather such testimonies since he was temporarily stationed at the fortress in question. Investigating the enemy’s true identity can also be called proper common sense in the art of war. That’s probably the source of the previous statement.
However, she was stuck on something. If one considers investigating the enemy, one should search for intelligence about the unit’s commander first above all. It’s no exaggeration to call intelligence besides that as trivial. With that being a strategic mobilization by the Third Princess’ Royal Guard Unit, their commander is the former feudal army lieutenant Akseli Anel. That man was lining up the unit’s ranks in the centre of the Plain of Wandering Calamity at that time. The unit, which raided the fortress, was a detached light cavalry. The intelligence regarding that detached unit is complicated and there are even stories that it might have been a mercenary unit.
‘At any rate, even you call it magnificent for example, it’s still the single act of bravery of a child soldier after all. It has no more than trivial significance in regards to the gravity of intelligence. However, why is he so well-knowledgeable about this? It’s a story that won’t appear unless you do a quite detailed search. In short, it means that Balcello has taken some interest in the boy.
Berta was intrigued. Rather than that boy, her curiosity about Balcello investigating so many details was stimulated. With Salomon being the only soldier that Balcello has talked about until now, the rest was treated by him in a manner of being extras.

“Hmm… it’s an interesting story. What’s the name of that child soldier?” (Berta)

She ended up asking with a slightly grinning expression, but Balcello pretends that he didn’t see it. Tasting the wine while feigning ignorance, he tells her with a tone that leaves no room for hesitation.

“Marko, it’s seems that’s how he’s called.” (Balcello)

“Only the family name? Marko… Marko, eh?” (Berta)

Berta tasted that name alongside the wine on top of her tongue.
It entangled her tongue mysteriously and apparently hid something that caused her chest to become hot after swallowing it.

 


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