Marius and the others, who raise their voices in provocation and form orderly ranks within the punitive force that is in the process of collapsing, naturally gathered the attention of the zoan who were pursuing the escaping soldiers. The zoan swiftly exchange looks with their fellow brethren and turn their fangs at Marius’ group.
“Scatter the humans!”
Dashing across the ground on all four, the zoan charge at Marius’ group with angry bellows.
“Lower your waists! If you don’t hold onto your shields properly, you will be blown away!”
Holding up a large shield in front of himself, Bolgus lowers his waist and prepares for the impact by drawing his right foot back widely to the rear.
In the next instant terrifying impacts of flesh and iron clashing into each other roared across the battlefield.
The soldiers were rammed by the zoan warriors, bringing them close to be sent flying alongside their shields. The force is dreadful. The soldiers end up being pushed back, the soles of their firmly planted feet sliding across the ground.
Moreover, the soldiers are dragged out from behind their shields. As they are about to have their throats sliced, the claws and machetes of the held-out hands scrape along the shields’ surface with scratching sounds.
When they were beginning to wonder if their shields’ defenses would be broken through, Marius cried out with a thundering voice,
“You bastards, is this all your resolve amounts to!? Show me how you stand your ground!”
The soldiers put even more strength into their bodies with a shout of fighting spirit.
Even though the zoan pushed one-sidedly until then, they became unable to move any further, as if the weight of the shield wall had immediately increased.
“Force them back!”
Moreover, alongside Marius’ order, the soldiers pushed back the zoan. Due to this unexpected counterattack, the zoan warriors end up being bent backwards or sent flying to the rear.
With the zoan warriors staggering, the spear infantrymen, who waited behind the heavy spear infantry, all thrust their spears forward at once. The zoan warriors, who had lost their balance, are unable to dodge that and casualties and injuries occur among many warriors.
“Open a path!”
The soldiers’ ranks divide and Marius sallies forward from there.
In various movies and novels there’s often a scene where mounted knights or commanding officers kick about the ordinary soldiers. Seeing such scene, there are probably people thinking that you just have to knock down the riders by using long weapons such as spears.
But they should consider it properly. The horses in this world and during such periods of medieval times are about one size smaller than those seen in modern Japan. And yet they still have quite the body weight. Moreover, on top of various harnesses and armors having been affixed to them, a completely armed human is riding on them.
If you compared the gross weight to a horse of the modern era, it’s almost equal to that of a minitruck.
Something like that is rushing at the zoan with a speed of 50 km/h. In addition, it’s not running stably like an automobile. The hooves cause loud sounds as they hit the ground and since the horse’s body is heading towards them while moving up and down in big motions, its impact exceeds the imagination of a modern person. If it’s not a person with quite the build, they will not be able to withstand the charging mount.
As a matter of fact, the zoan in front of the mounted Marius also didn’t do anything besides running about trying to escape.
Having decided to aim for a zoan that looked like the strongest among them, Marius threw the throwing spear in his hands towards that person. No different from its aim, the thrown spear pierced the chest of the zoan, inflicting a fatal wound.
Moreover, after Marius had ransacked plentifully among the zoan while making his horse draw a wide arc, he turns back the neck of his horse towards the soldiers.
The zoan warriors were about to charge into the middle of the soldiers while chasing Marius in a hurry, but because the soldiers once again readied their defense by lining up their shields in front, the zoan couldn’t do any more than stumbling a few steps forward on the spot.
In response to Marius request, Bolgus throws over a throwing spear. Grasping that, Marius pushed it towards the sky.
“Since we are those who want to die, come at us, zoan!”
Matching up with Marius, the soldiers also strike their weapons and shields, intimidating the zoan.
Not only did the small force, which the zoan warriors considered to be easily routable until just a short while ago, launch an unexpected counterattack, they even provoked them. As expected, even the zoan faltered due to that.
At the same moment one of those zoan warriors backed off, his back collided with someone.
Once that warrior looks at the party he collided with, he begins to tremble with his teeth clattering.
“Hoo, even among the humans you can find warriors, eh?”
It was a red-furred giant— Zurgu.
Without even looking at the warrior that bumped into him, Zurgu focused his eyes only on Marius riding his horse,and showed a ferocious smile across his entire face.
“Now then, there’s a bastard this marvelous me is going to fight myself—you lot, open a path.”
Zurgu tried to come out in front by pushing the warriors aside with his log-like arms, but he notices a single presence rapidly approaching him from behind.
Suddenly Zurgu suffers an impact as if being pushed from above on his shoulders as he stopped his feet and tried to look back, wondering who it might be.
“Zurgu, I’m going to borrow your shoulders.”
Using Zurgu’s shoulders as stepping stone, they jumped over the warriors arrayed in front and landed after a full revolution.
And then, they deeply inhale to the brim of their lungs as if building up their tension and release the air alongside a very loud voice,
“I’m Garam, son of Garguss, of the Fang Clan, one of the 12 zoan clans! Being the clan chief of the Fang Clan, I have been appointed as Great Clan Chief of the All-Zoan-Alliance!”
The introduction of Garam echoed on the battlefield like a thunder.
Due to the introduction of their Great Clan Chief, who leads all the zoan fighting here and is also regarded as prided hero of the Solbiant Plains, all the zoan warriors present raise cheers.
“T-That’s unfair, Garam!”
Among them only Zurgu stamped his feet in vexation.
“Ooh! The zoan’s Great Clan Chief, eh!?”
Even Marius revealed a tone of admiration due to Garam’s bold introduction. After immediately advancing his horse onwards, Marius also replies with an introduction.
“I’m Marius Meshis! Great Clan Chief of the zoan, come and fight me!”
Once he whips his horse once after saying so, he made his horse gallop towards Garam.
Answering that, Garam goes down on all four and dashes forward.
This one-to-one fight is like a flower on the battlefield.
Everyone present here holds their breaths and attentively watches the outcome of that bout.
While making his mount gallop, Marius wondered how the zoan, who named himself as Great Clan Chief, would move.
If I judge his agility from when he jumped over the lined up zoan, it’s obvious that this zoan isn’t a Great Clan Chief in name only. Even if I throw my spear from this distance, it will probably be dodged easily by this caliber of an opponent. I have to throw my spear after closing the distance as much as possible.
However, wanting to close the distance also applies to that zoan. Thinking about it, zoan rarely possess long-handled weapons, let alone bows. To defeat me, he must knock me off my mount first. And for that there’s probably no other option for him except going around to my side as he dodges my spear and then wrestling with me, capitalizing on his previously shown jumping power.
In that case, the match will be decided in the instant we pass each other.
“Let’s see, from which direction is he going to come!?”
Marius lowered his line of vision slightly and stared at the throwing spear in his hand.
He’s holding the spear in his right hand. As such, that zoan should try to approach from the left side where it’s difficult to throw the spear, as the horse’s head would be in the way.
Indeed, that’s if I consider it normally.
But, Marius reassessed.
If it’s that black-furred zoan who named himself as Great Clan Chief, he will betray that prediction and ignore both sides, opting to jump over my horse from straight ahead.
That was his premonition.
And, in accordance with that prediction, the body of Garam, who dashed at him head-on, immediately bent back in an instant, as if it were a bow drawn taut. It was as if Garam danced in midair towards Marius as he kicked off the ground, almost like he were bouncing.
Due to that Marius is certain of his victory.
He very likely succumbed to the pressure of the horse as it approached close to him. Even if he leaps over the horse’s head, his jump is too early. With that, the time for him to stay airbound unable to dodge becomes long.
Marius was convinced in the zoan’s certain death and tried to throw his spear at Garam who was in the air.
However, Garam’s moves his left hand sharply and an instant faster than that. Making a silver trace sally forth from there, a machete flew towards Marius’ throat.
Marius tried to evade the machete by twisting his body above his mount, but unable to full dodge it, the machete deeply stabs into the root of his right shoulder. Due to the intense, burning pain and him having twisted his body, Marius’ thrown spear missed its target and pointlessly pierced the ground.
Seeing Garam leaping upon him following the machete, Marius thought that he will be thrown on the ground at this rate, resulting in a grappling contest. Alongside deliberately stretching his body on top of the mount, he heartily kicks Garam’s chest with his raised right leg.
Marius, who tumbled down off his horse, fell to the ground while protecting his head with his arms. It was his luck that he wasn’t kicked by the horse at the time of falling off it, but even so his body complained with dull pain from all over.
Through sheer willpower, holding down the desire to sit down on the spot and cry, Marius stood up using the sword hanging at his waist as if it were a cane.
Garam, who had recovered his stance a short step faster, lowers his upper body half until it is parallel to the ground and comes charging Marius’ location without any hesitation.
He fell from a higher place than the horse and moreover likely couldn’t adopt a proper way of falling after being kicked by me. And yet Garam charged with a momentum as if he hasn’t felt the slightest bit from it, causing Marius to be struck with terror.
At the same time as he pulls out the sword he used as cane from the ground, he makes the soil, which he tore up with the sword’s point, fly towards Garam. Due to the dirt hurled towards his face, Garam immediately took a plunge directly to the side and evaded it. However, because his feet stopped due to that, Marius assaults him with his sword held above his head. Garam stopped that blow with his machete that he held in a backhand grip.
Determining that this would be his last good chance, Marius tries to overwhelm Garam by using his body weight to push down from above. Compared to Marius, who puts his entire body into the sword, Garam has difficulty fully making use of his strength as he’s in a stance of being pressed down from above. Even Garam can’t completely overturn that.
With their blades continuously grinding against each other intensely, Marius and Garam glare at each from such a close distance that they can feel each other’s breathing.
Suddenly Garam’s body sinks in slightly. Marius, who used his entire body’s weight, lost his balance due to the power holding him upright abruptly leaving, even if it were only for an instant.
Within that instant, Garam stretches out his left arm.
The arm’s destination is the other machete which was stuck in Marius shoulder. Within a single breath, Garam pulls the machete out and swings it towards Marius’ throat.
And then fresh blood whirled around in the air.
Those were Marius last words. Collapsing from the knees, Marius crumbled into the bloody mud and never stood up again.
Once Garam thrusts his big arms into the air, stirs of dejection run through the soldiers, but at the same time the zoan cheer grandly in excitement and exhilaration.
Garam thrust a machete dyed with fresh blood towards the shaken soldiers.
“Mop up the rest of the defeated lot!”
With that as the signal, the zoan, who got encouraged by Garam’s gallantry, swooped down on the soldiers while raising battle cries. Having been outnumbered to begin with, the soldiers trembled due to Marius having been killed in front of their eyes, and thus the shield wall was easily penetrated.
If it’s destroyed at one part, it becomes something brittle. The soldiers are swallowed in no time into the crowd of zoan who advanced on them.
Even so, there’s not a single person who surrendered or ran away. Every single soldier fought to the last before he was killed.
The one who defeated Bolgus within the melee was Zurgu.
As expected of a veteran soldier like Bolgus, he was able to exchange several blows with Zurgu, who can call himself of being in line with Garam strength-wise. But, due to the fierce attack of Zurgu, who seemed to vent his anger about having the spotlight stolen by Garam, Bolgus’ sword was sent flying before long and he ended up having his throat sliced.
Zurgu regarded that as the match decider, but was taken aback due to Bolgus, whom he deemed to be in a hopeless situation by then, trying to grapple his waist while raising a soundless war cry. But, Zurgu immediately responded to even this unexpected counterattack and lightly dodged the arm trying to catch him.
Falling to the ground while grasping air with his outstretched hand, Bolgus died.
After confirming that, Zurgu was about to go out in front to look for the next enemy, but at that moment he stops due to noticing his waist being pulled from behind.
Once he casually looks down at his waist, he saw Bolgus’ fingers stuck in his string belt. Whether he made a mistake in reading the distance, resulting in being unable to completely evade, or whether it was a miracle created by Bolgus’ tenacity on the verge of death, remains unknown.
Whichever it might be, Zurgu stops his feet and frowns.
“Clan chief? Is anything wrong?”
A soldier, who considered it strange that Zurgu doesn’t move from the spot, called out to him. In response Zurgu waves his hand as if saying “It’s nothing,” and makes that warrior join the pursuit.
And yet Zurgu kept standing there. Eventually, Bolgus’ fingers slipped off his string belt due to the weight of his arm, and Zurgu finally moved his feet.
“I suppose I fulfilled my obligation.”
Once he says so over his shoulder, Zurgu goes down on all four in order to participate in the pursuit and dashed forward.
Hearing over his back the zoan cheer far in the distant rear, Darius lowered his face slightly and curbed the inner corners of his closed eyes while biting his lower lip. When he was called out by one of his guards, who got worried due to Darius having completely stopped moving, Darius stretched out his right arm and squeezed out a hoarse voice.
“Lend me a bow…”
Receiving a bow from his guard, Darius raised himself up to his full height on top of the dashing chariot, nocked an arrow into the bow and drew the bow to the limit. Before the surprised guard could say anything, the arrow is released while raising a cutting sound through the wind.
That arrow splendidly pierced the head of Mildas who was clinging to palanquin carried by slaves. The body of Mildas, who died with an expression of shock plastered all over his face, shakes violently and rolls down from atop the palanquin. The slaves, who carried that palanquin, tossed the empty palanquin away without a second thought and ran away.
Glancing at the corpse of Mildas which turned into something like tattered rags after being crushed underfoot by the soldiers following from behind, Darius says as if spitting out,
“Apologize to Marius and the others, and then fall to Genobanda’s place. You filthy pig!”
But, having lost the young man, whom he acknowledged as his own successor, and many subordinates, who went through countless battlefields together with him, Darius’ grief couldn’t be healed even a bit by him killing the priest, who was tainted with worldly desires, with his own hands.
In the end Darius barely managed to escape to the rear thanks to the sacrifice of Marius, Bolgus and their small force. After that Darius delivered a crushing blow to a part of the zoan, who got carried away and attacked him, after hosting his flag, gathering the soldiers of the defeated army that managed to escape, and reforming their ranks. Darius, who managed to cross the river while holding back the zoan, who were at a loss on how to continue after that, burned the bridge in order to prevent any further pursuits and was finally able to withdraw into the city of Luoma.
The number of soldiers, who safely reached Luoma together with Darius at that time, is said to have been less than 3,000.
For an army with more than 7,000 soldiers in total this was a huge and overwhelming defeat. What was even more painful for Darius was that many of the excellent commissioned officers, whom he had nurtured so far, ended up dead.
Due to this, Darius’ support in the Holmean army took a steep nosedive.