“The enemy had more than 3000 troops?” (Klaus)
Finishing scanning through the scroll, Klaus Yurihalshira exhaled long and deeply. The chair’s back creaks. Letting his look wander over the desk and even the bookshelf, he stopped himself reaching for the sake bottle on top of a shelf’s corner. Halting for a short while, he calmly separates from it. Once again Klaus leaked a small sigh. He gazes at the man humbling himself in front of him.
“Yes. I believed the number of cavalry being possibly too scarce for the objective, but that was my thoughtlessness.” (Knight Leader)
The one who replied is an imposing knight at the prime of his life. It’s the Knight Leader of the highly honourable Sword Square Chivalric Order. Possessing a deep loyalty towards the Marquis Yurihalshira household, he is a man who dashed across the battlefield with his horse’s bit lining up next to Klaus’s in the previous war.
That man appeared in the capital’s estate of the Marquis and made his report to Klaus, the family’s head. It’s the details regarding the earlier battle of the Sword Square Chivalric Order in the Plain of Wandering Calamity. He has a bearing as if he is waiting for something, while answering the questions and stopping even after submitting his personally written scroll of that account. Klaus doesn’t lift the wrinkle of his eyebrows.
“Those are magnificent military gains. The number of defeated imperial soldiers exceeds 1000. From the confiscated equipment we were able to confirm that the opponent was the 57th regiment of the imperial army. Since we could partially destroy them in one strike, your prestige as a Chivalric Order has spread far and wide.” (Klaus)
He didn’t answer. His lips are sealed and there’s no smile on them either as he has a calm belief in their bravery. Klaus inhaled deeply, accumulated the air and voiced out his words while exhaling.
“… The losses are large. It’s especially bitter to have lost 320 riders. It wasn’t a damage that should be incurred at this stage of the war where it’s still no more than skirmishes. This will turn into an issue of accountability.” (Klaus)
“Yes. All of these casualties were brought about by my incompetence. I came here resolved.” (Knight Leader)
Klaus felt a bitter taste within his mouth due to the appearance of the Knight Leader declaring this flatly. This man is questioning his own course of action. The Sword Square Chivalric Order is a chivalric order formed by the Marquis Yurihalshira household in order to achieve its goals. Being the family head, Klaus has the duty to judge all of their activities.
320 lesser knights killed in action. That is a grave affair.
In the Asuria Kingdom the status of a knight is proportionate to that of a noble. They are a privileged class which is allowed to to hold a family name. Unlike nobles, this is something limited to one generation, but many knights try to not let their name vanish by raising their own children into knights. The investiture of a knight is a special right held by the Four Marquis’ and Six Earls, but on that occasion the fresh knights are allowed to succeed the name of their parent. It’s actually a family name succession.
For a single human, what will work well if he wants to become a knight? There are special case investitures of people who obtained remarkable achievements, but basically the method is to become an apprentice of an active knight. There are various things they must study like military arts, horse-riding, manners and weapon knowledge. Such a person under training is a lesser knight. They are beings who are on the way to become knights one day.
Therefore lesser knights are mainly the children of knights. Although there are some to whom that doesn’t apply, it’s only a minority. Also, in order to avoid weakening because of partiality towards one’s family, lesser knights are unable to have a relative as master. Traditionally they are trying to grow into powerful knights by avoiding the chivalric orders their relatives belong to and become apprentices in a different chivalric order.
On the other hand, a lesser knight has status, too. Even if they are studying under the same master, those who follow as foot soldiers to the battlefield have a lower rank. The higher rank will fight together with their master while being mounted. As they aren’t allowed to possess heavy armour, they gallop nimbly across the battlefield. That is the role of light cavalry.
In other words, the death of 320 mounted lesser knights also means that they let 320 capable men, who were in a position to soon be investiture’d as knights, die. Moreover, most of them were the sons of knights which belong to other chivalric orders. Their parent’s expectations were likely great once they were given a horse in the Sword Square Chivalric Order, which ended up resulting in tragedy.
It’s inexcusable for Klaus to not punish the Knight Leader in some way. It’s not only because of the laws and his position, but there was also an issue with the way the Knight Leader let them die. The 320 riders, who galloped towards the left wing, ended up becoming a “decoy.” If you look at it only from the outcome, then that’s how it will be seen. If you add up the 1000 riders who were in a different place, it will result in the enemy light cavalry, which was over there, having 1250 riders. The fact that he dispatched 320 riders to deal with them… he won’t be able to escape from having being pointed out that he attempted to use suicidal tactics.
“… Let’s hear the reason why you attacked while limiting your speed to that of foot soldiers after taking the enemy’s back.” (Klaus)
“Yes. I did so while taking into consideration the stamina of the men and horses due to the already long period of marching. Also, I judged it as highly dangerous to have the foot soldiers stand out by leaving them, as consequence of there being little difference in the numbers between the light cavalries of both sides.” (Knight Leader)
In this fight the chivalric order discovered the enemy without the enemy realizing that. Moreover, it was a good opportunity to attack them from behind. Klaus imagined the situation and shook his head slightly. That’s not a situation where you draw attention to the front with foot soldiers as far as I know. At least that’s not the way the Sword Square Chivalric Order fights.
“Why did you split up the cavalry and had them act separately? Let’s hear you reasons.” (Klaus)
“Yes. It was for the sake of crushing the enemy’s morale. We were able to catch sight of discord in the coordination between the enemy’s light cavalry and infantry. That was presumed from their usage of scouts and their deployment.” (Knight Leader)
“That’s why you tried to promote that, you say?” (Klaus)
“Yes. It’s just as you’ve said.” (Knight Leader)
Severing the enemy’s coordination is efficient and proper as a tactic. In this time’s case, the knight unit accomplished that by taking a really effective location. They would be able to inflict a heavy blow no matter how they moved afterwards if they advanced between the enemy’s light cavalry and infantry. In reality they partially encircled the infantry by doing that and they tried to make a pincer attack with the light cavalry heading towards opposing sides.
“However”, Klaus groaned quietly. Speaking of this time’s battle, there was a problem.
The lesser knights exhaustion had been a preamble included in the Knight Leader’s orders. Although they excelled at winning, the lesser knights were dispatched into a clash of around 5 minutes be it the infantry or the light cavalry. Causing a gap in the enemy with that is certainly an effective application of a knight unit’s mounted charge, but… if one considers another factor, it can be seen in a totally different light. Klaus didn’t proceed with the unconfirmed conclusion from his reasoning.
“Sir… you apparently treated my son too carefully.” (Klaus)
There was no answer. He won’t be forgiven for speaking falsehood to Klaus who is the lord of the chivalric order. It was obvious that this vow is causing his silence.
The tactics used were for the sake of lowering the possibility of danger approaching the knight unit Lukas had joined, as much as possible.
That’s the definite truth of this time’s battle, Klaus saw through that.
It’s impossible for the chivalric order to avoid a battle if they discover the enemy while having the numerical superiority. Though it’s not impossible, it has to be quite the reason. And it’s very unlikely for something like a reason to avoid it existing if it happens during their patrolling duty where they have been granted permission for battle. They will fight. While protecting Lukas Yurihalshira in his first battle.
Keeping away the light cavalry from the main battle location, the infantry will be responsible for attacking from the front with spears and arrows and the enemy will be destroyed with one strike by carrying out a mounted charge without getting exposed to the enemy’s attacks. They won’t be traced by mobile troops even in melee. The battle time won’t be dragged out either. In order to obtain one swift victory by winning safely as far as Lukas is concerned… only for that reason he made free use of such tactics.
If…, Klaus imagined. If Lukas wasn’t there, how would the Sword Square Chivalric Order have fought?
They probably would have made a decisive action with a mounted charge from the beginning. Klaus is almost convinced of that. They would likely have rushed recklessly at the enemy before the enemy could reshuffle their battle formation while the light cavalry would dash to cover the flanks. Routing the archers and next tearing the spear-wielders to pieces, they would break through the centre of the enemy line. It would be dangerous, but I have no doubt that it would be a much more efficient strike.
And the enemy would get pincer attacked once the foot soldiers caught up. They would have likely earned military gains while crushing them to death. They would have been fully in time even after that to support the battle between the light cavalries. It’s also possible that it would have become a pursuit battle just like that once they annihilated the enemy’s foot soldiers. Around here my predictions will become vague, but even so it would have likely turned into a greater victory. Probably it would have also ended with less deaths.
All of it is nothing more than an if-story. Klaus didn’t commit the folly to voice it out. However, he doesn’t blame the Knight Leader either. It was unthinkable for him being able to do so. All of it is Klaus’ own responsibility. It’s because he appointed the chivalric order so that Lukas could have his first battle.
That’s why Klaus spoke those words.
“The light cavalry battalion affiliated to the 57th regiment of the Eberia Empire’s army… can they be defeated?” (Klaus)
The tone of his voice has naturally become low and serious. He was aware that he was forcing himself to a new resolution.
“We obtained information regarding them from the captured soldiers. The battalion’s commander is Lieutenant Colonel Terenzio Balzero (T/N: Terenshio Barusero) of the Imperial Army. I have heard that name on the battlefield. Back then he was a colonel though.” (Klaus)
He understood from the Knight Leader’s widely opened eyes. Picking up the rising fighting spirit alongside his surprise, Klaus’ mouth twisted into a smile.
“Yes, you know that man as well, Sir. It’s Balzero the “Blacksnake.” I thought that he was a man indifferent to promotions, but on top of a man of such calibre being demoted, for him to receive an official appointment as battalion commander…” (Klaus)
Balzero the “Blacksnake.” It’s one of the renowned names of the previous war.
He is a man who passed his time by laying waste to battlefields while leading the strongest mounted unit. Known for his thorough control of his soldiers, the troops led by him moved swiftly and sharply without even the slightest disorder. As a result of them wearing a military cloak for night attacks even during the day, it seemed as if a black snake was attacking the royal army if seen from afar. That’s the origin of his nickname.
Klaus only knows of his menace from reports. As he was always at the side of the king, the battles he participated in were naturally only important ones. And the blacksnake didn’t appear on such battlefields often. Being hated by the army’s top brass… it was rumoured that the ominousness of his nickname seemed to be true.
That’s why the blacksnake wasn’t on the battlefield where the hero died. At that time he was attacking the supply line of the royal army in a totally unrelated location. His troops were known for attacking transport units at various locations.
“He was alive, eh…?” (Knight Leader)
“I have also heard the rumours about the blacksnake’s subjugation. And as usual he seems to be a terrifying man.” (Klaus)
“Yes. The pressure I felt at the time when I confronted him was something terrible. I wasn’t able to move even though we had twice the military forces… for some reason I felt danger from all directions while directly looking at the enemy.” (Knight Leader)
“I see. It might have not been necessarily a mistake? The 250 light cavalry the right wing let escape… they were able to reduce them decently, but… it’s also possible that they laid in ambush somewhere.” (Klaus)
“I see… he is a truly fearsome man.” (Knight Leader)
Yes, it’s a deplorable type of tactic. Once he put together the reports from the other units, Klaus is able to see the outline of the situation. It seems that “Blacksnake”‘s 1000 riders were dispatched as reinforcement in the north after receiving an order from the regiment commander. That was before the Sword Square Chivalric Order and the Imperial Army’s 57th regiment clashed. That was because a similar battle occurred then. The confrontation between two battalions of the royal army with 2.000 in total and one reinforced battalion of the imperial army with 1.500 in total proceeded into a battle with an advantage for the royal army at the beginning, but they were utterly destroyed by the 1.000 riders who assisted as if they were a gale. Both of the royal army’s battalions were annihilated and the commanders of each were killed as well.
After they carried out such a battle, they probably participated in the battle between the light cavalries when they were about to return to their own regiment. No, or possibly… Klaus changed his mind. Weren’t they lured in with the enemy foreseeing that from the start?
“Let me ask once again. Can my chivalric order defeat them?” (Klaus)
The answer towards that question was given by the Knight Leader’s eyes before his mouth did.
“Yes. I shall stake the flag of the Four Sword Square on it.” (Knight Leader)
He was lifted into high spirits. It’s a declaration waging his pride and honour as knight to subjugate the military commander, who was said to be famous, and the adversary, who defeated his companions of the chivalric order. It’s no longer a story of advancing and retreating anymore. The Sword Square Chivalric Order has recognized “Blacksnake” as the arch-enemy in this place. From now on they will pursue him on the battlefield with all their power.
Klaus is able to listen to the fading sound of the Knight Leader, who left the room with loud footsteps. That was a dearly missed sound. It’s the sound of a knight heading to the battlefield while encouraging himself. It’s a sound reverberating as nothing but the determination of a person who departs to a world of conflict, where honour and disgrace intersect with each other in an instant.
Did I sound like that before, too? Or, did I only listen to it in the past as well?
Klaus remembered the old days. He thought about the him at the time when he was in high spirits on the battlefield. My body was filled with power. Right, now I’m here after fighting to the bitter end while exposing this life to death. I surpassed every kind of trial. My life walked hand-in-hand with the glory of battle. I loyally served the king spending everything I had.
However, a single flame flickered within his mind making Klaus gasp.
A *gii* resounded from the chair’s back. He let go of the fighting spirit, which had swelled up within his body, through a long sigh. The zeal, he felt, cooled down as well. My body is very heavy. As if becoming decrepit and ugly with age just when I was about to feel young again, such was the sudden change he tasted.
All of it was a matter of the past.
He had given up the rank of Marshal of the National Armed Forces. Managing the chivalric order and his feudal army, there won’t be any chance for him to personally grasp a sword anymore. He has already lost the pride of conflict. Since Klaus is aware of that himself, he scornfully laughs at his previous excitement.
“I had you die and ended up continuing for the sake of death.” (Klaus)
Klaus Yurihalshira spun his words in his study where there’s no one besides him.
“Inescapable situations and such are ridiculous. You ruled over them. Hardships and such are laughable. You passed away silently. The glory of battle and such is quite absurd. Even now you are putting that name to shame.” (Klaus)
It was a tribute. It was a confession. However, there was no regret.
Tears, which don’t result in drops of water, seemed to flow down on his dry cheeks.
“The peace you gave us ended up torn apart already… Salomon.” (Klaus)
The footsteps, he heard in the past, resounded at a distant place in the ears of Klaus. The sound greatly perturbing one’s mind of the man who resolutely left walking towards death… the sound which is similar to a nail being struck into an ice field reverberated monotonously and incessantly.