Arc 4 The Beloved, Chapter 74 Evil
South of the Dragon's Maw—-where tens of thousands of soldiers glared at each other.
A new fortress was built in Miccronia, which was burned to the ground.
The soldiers who had formed up there were staring at each other in an orderly battle line on the plain.
In the blank space between them, there were two men.
They looked at each other from horseback and then spoke.
“Surrender, General Wiring.
You have no chance of winning.”
Standing before the old general, Gertz Wiring, was a man with copper hair.
His armor, with its carved wings, glistened in the sunlight.
Even if there is no chance of winning, it will certainly but some time, General Verreich.
If I surrender here without crossing the sword, I will lose my reputation as a noble.
I have already chosen this place as the place to die.”
“I see, that is admirable.
I pity the soldiers who will accompany you.”
He looked at the soldiers guarding the Dragon's Maw.
From the north, which cannot be seen from there, was a 15,000 Christand army led by Selene.
And in the south, 22,000 of Verreich troops led by Nozan.
Against them, Gertz Wiring forces numbered about 12,000.
They have no chance of winning.
“I won't die in vain.
Reducing your military strength and buying time——then His Royal Highness will take care of the rest.
He will bury you as traitors.
As long as I can be of help to that end, that's fine.”
Nozan's eyes narrowed sharply.
And his mouth lifted.
It was a malicious smile.
“Kuku, are you acting like a loyal retainer? My lord, Christand Bogan, is the enemy——Gildanstein's.
His handsome face was distorted with rage.
The raw hostility like that of a beast oozed out, and even the soldiers who looked at the two from afar shivered.
“You sure have guts saying that in front of me.
……Then I will show no mercy.
Regret those words in pool of blood.”
However, Gertz accepted it head-on and spoke boldly.
“There is nothing to fear anymore.
Let us talk with our blades.
A warrior should speak with his sword, not with his words.
Isn't that right, General Verreich?”
If you are a true warrior, that is.
If you are merely accumulating years, even a dog and a beast can do it.
I hope your words are matched by your sword, old general-dono.”
With a laugh, Nozan turned his back on him.
Gertz also returned to his own camp.
The young adjutant who approached Gertz had an indescribable expression on his face.
No one thought they can win.
Buying time——they knew they can't do anything more than that.
“Don't look like that.
If we buy time, General Hilkintos and His Royal Highness will come to reinforce us.
If we can hold out until then, we will find a chance to win.
We have enough supplies, and this is also within our expectations.”
Actually, the siege itself was within the realm of assumptions, but he never thought that this place would be surrounded so soon.
But to reassure his men, as a general, he had to tell them so.
The battle between Kuraray Marcellus and Nozan Verreich.
That itself was bound to happen.
If Christand refused the truce, Nozan would surely move.
Anticipating this, Gertz sent out another 10,000 reinforcements from here, giving Kuraray more than sufficient military strength to defeat Nozan.
Even if not, he could buy time——or so he thought.
However, looking at the result, it was Nozan's overwhelming victory.
According to the stories of the soldiers who had escaped, it was four days since the start of the clash.
It was an instantaneous event caused by a surprise attack on the rear.
The Marcellus army was cleanly decapitated, and as a result, the Verreich army increased its military strength.
Gertz was completely cornered.
Seeing that the two corps led by Krische Christand were out of sight, they must have gone west to suppress Hilkintos' armies and prevented them from joining up.
He had heard that the Hilkintos army had already departed from the west.
It should be only two more days' journey to this point.
If that was the case, it would make more sense to buy time here.
The Hilkintos army would probably raise a force of nearly 30,000.
In contrast, Krische Christand's two corps would only have about 15,000 at best.
They will not be able to hold off the Hilkintos army forever.
It will be fine we can last for a week.
If we can endure that much, the situation will be reversed.”
His voice, though hoarse, had poise and depth.
The soldiers lined up along the mountain and looked up at the old general with trepidation.
“We can't win in a head-on confrontation.
But this heavy fortress that you have built——here we can buy enough time.
…And the good news is that the Cursed Child, Krische does not exist here.
If so, we can fight as usual without fear.”
The soldiers shouted in relief.
What Gertz feared more than anything was Krische.
After the series of massacres in Bernaich——some of the soldiers were still afraid of her.
Due to the nature of the Dragon's Maw, it means that if they were pincered, they had no choice but to fight in the mountains.
If she appeared here, it would be difficult to maintain morale.
The trees have lost their foliage and the visibility has improved, so her elite units weren't as much of a threat as they used to be.
However, ingrained fear is something that cannot be wiped away so easily.
In that sense, the fact that Krische was not here was the best news they could have.
“The Brave general Hilkintos is on his way here from the west, and His Royal Highness is heading here from the south while raising a large force.”
It was half a lie.
South——He didn't know if they can expect reinforcements from the royal capital.
This was because the royal capital was wary of Nozan going straight to the south.
Even if they could come as fast as possible, there would be a delay in information.
It would take another week or more from here.
The only hope was in the west——but Gertz was not expecting Hilkinthos in the west to bring reinforcements to here either.
“If either of them arrives here, they will be the ones who will be driven to their deaths.
Don't think of this as a desperate battle, but rather as a desperate resistance.”
The coming decisive battle in the royal capital.
For that reason, the only objective here was to reduce the forces of the princess's faction and let Hilkintos' army link up with the army of the royal capital.
From the beginning, Gertz never thought about surviving.
His sole purpose was to keep the forces here and prevent reinforcements for Krische's army, which should be heading west.
If they did so, Hilkintos' army would defeat Cliche.
Even if they didn't, they would break through in an advantageous manner and join forces with the royal capital.
Gertz's desire was not a victory here, but the final victory.
“Don't exert yourself to kill the enemies.
Hope to drink today's sake (alcohol) with your comrade.
If we do that, the Goddess of Victory will surely invite us to her banquet.”
The old general smiled with determination.
The soldiers did not understand the true meaning of his words, they simply believe them.
The battlefield is only filled with deception.
In Mirskronia, there were still remnants of the flames from the previous day.
Burned down trees and half-bald mountains made Mirskronia rather easy to defend.
The elevation difference is an absolute advantage on the battlefield.
If the trees that were in the way were gone, they would be able to make use of the archers, and the rain of arrows overhead would make it extremely difficult for the enemy to march on.
Gertz had been fortifying the Dragon's Maw that had been burned down——especially Mirskronia.
He had also been training his infantry to be able to use the bows and had greatly increased the number of archers.
The quality is poor, but if he can increase the number of arrows, then that's good.
Although the situation was bad, their preparation was not bad.
Seeing the inferiority of his forces, Gertz completely gave up the defense of Bernaich and focused on Mirskronia.
The reason was that he did not have enough troops to defend it, but the main reason was that he could not rebuild the fort in time, and he was afraid of another fire attack.
The Christand army showed ruthlessness even burning down mountains for victory.
No one thought that there would not be a second time.
To prevent it, they would have to defend from the foot of the mountain, and the recent incident was still fresh in their minds.
The soldiers would not be able to keep up their morale.
Gertz thought so and abandoned Bernaich.
Either way, the Christand can't move forward unless they completely seize this place, which is a logistics relay point.
“Don't be afraid, keep shooting arrows! That way they won't be able to come up!”
The leftmost watchtower facing Verreich's army in the south.
From the top of the watchtower, a large obese man gave the order.
Takirus Senger, commander of the Second Battalion of the First Corps of the Wiring Army, shouted at the top of his lungs, spitting in the air.
His throat was dry and sore from the excessive shouting he had been doing recently.
The battle was still going on, even on the fourth day.
Stretched over fences and countless watchtowers.
As expected it would be difficult for even Nozan Verreich to make a frontal breakthrough in the face of such a quagmire.
He had come up with a strategy to thoroughly demoralize them.
Taking advantage of their superior military strength, he attacked day and night harassing them.
They never stepped in and took no risks.
It was intended to completely take away their physical strength.
The north——Selene Christand also launched a similar attack, and it seemed that the slow march with a large shield over the troops' heads, maintaining their strength.
Close the distance, set up the partition screen against arrows, and gradually close the distance between them.
Then, on the western side of Mirskronia, where there was still some green, a part of the enemy soldiers could be seen making a detour.
Waiting for an opportunity to attack.
If the enemies were to attack, it will probably be from there.
If they come along the mountain ridge, the advantage of the elevation difference will not work.
However, since the defense was thickened in anticipation of such a situation, the main camp would not immediately fall.
Although arrows rained down from Bernaich from time to time, it was really only effective at harassing the enemy.
Even if an arrow can be shot from Bernaich, it is impossible for it to cross over here.
“…How's it going, Alba.
How are the soldiers doing?”
“As expected, they're very tired.
Whether day or night it continues.
But the time the general said——it's only a few more days.”
The centurion at his side played with his gray beard and smiled.
He was a good centurion who never ceased to laugh even under such circumstances.
By his side is a man who should be called his comrade-in-arms with whom he has shared joys and sorrows for a long time.
That was most reassuring.
He couldn't let up.
But it was not over yet.
Takirus nodded his head in an exultant manner, and after confirming that there were no eyes around him, he said.
“I guess we chose the wrong master, no matter how I see it this seems where we will die.”
“I guess it can't be avoided.
I thought it was impossible for Takirus-dono to die on the battlefield, but are you going to die while claiming loyalty and honor in the end?”
“Haha, stop it.
…Well, putting me aside, I'd like to see you do the same, Alba.
Dying to let me escape.
If that happend, I'll pray for your soul to rest in peace while embracing a woman.”
“I hope you will die a respectable death, at least for the sake of your men.
By all means.”
They laughed and hit each other on the shoulder.
It was a silly joke and exchange, but they knew that the time would soon come when they would no longer be able to do so.
And that, for what it's worth, they would never run away leaving the other.
do you think reinforcements will come?”
“It won't come.
It's the serious General Wiring we're talking about.
He must be thinking of becoming a martyr himself.
He's a true warrior, I want to learn from him.”
“Saying things you don't mean at all.”
Exasperated, Takirus laughed.
He thought he was doing well as he piled up experience on the battlefield.
Avoiding danger, but steadily gaining results——but even that will end in a few more days.
This would be his last battle.
Thinking that way, his heart was bright and clear.
“How old is your son?”
It's a splendid one not following after me.”
“Already that old? His face probably looks like me right.”
“Haha, no way.
It's definitely my seed.
My wife is a chaste person, so she hates people like Takirus-dono more than anyone else.
It's no good being fat, Isn't it? Aren't yours the ones who look like me?”
“I'll kill you, that's definitely…
No, I can't say anything.
To be honest, it's really doubtful whether both girls are my seed.
The faces are clearly different.”
Alba burst out, holding his stomach and laughing pleasantly.
“Haha, that's why I told you to keep playing with women in moderation.
Saying whatever you like.”
“I don't mind if you punish me if I'm disrespectful.
Look, here's the neck.”
Takirus sighed as Alba make a chopping motion on his neck with his hand.
“I must be the most unfortunate battalion commander in the world.
To die with a centurion like you.”
“If I had to say, that's my line.
I wish I would die in battle with a better battalion commander overflowing with honors.”
“I heard that your dream is to die in your bed.”
“Now, did I say something like that?”
With a wry smile, Takirus glanced at the scenery below him.
Countless archers on fences that's built over and over again.
There were more than enough arrows.
There were originally 10,000 arrows in this area.
It would be no problem to continue shooting for several weeks.
Many of the enemy soldiers could be seen making noise and resting in camps a short distance away.
They took turns attacking day and night.
They rested as if on purpose to show it, even though daytime in the middle of a battle.
The soldiers approaching them also did not seem very enthusiastic.
They were only advancing steadily, moving forward with their arrow shields in front of them.
The height of the screen gradually increased—-
Alba, it's strange.”
“That screen doesn't look like it's meant for our attack.
Hasn't it gotten a lot taller?”
A screen that unfolded at the bottom of the mountain.
Especially the lower part is quite tall for an arrow shield.
If anything, it looks like a blindfold——it seemed like it took a lot of effort for just a screen.
The trees cut down on Bernaichwere carried to the lower screen and processed there.
He assumed it was used as a new material for the screen, but it was strange.
You don't have to put into that kind of trouble, you can just carry the finished screen.
What's the point of going out of your way to process the screen over there?
And there was still something strange.
There will always be surplus materials that cannot be used if it was processed there.
However, there was no sign of them being transported anywhere, which would have been an obstacle to the work.
Are they being transported somewhere during the night?
If so, why?
Takirus wrinkled his brow and pondered.
“It's true, it's a little strange…
but it doesn't seem like a bad idea to use that place as a workshop.
In short, it's the same as the mole hole in siege warfare, and it's more efficient to put the workshop in front.
If you know that we have no intention of counterattacking, it is not that strange of an idea.”
“…we should have installed a catapult.”
“We used too much power constructing the fort.”
North side——he heard that the Christand army was using four catapults.
They probably deem it effective on Mirskronia, which had become a bald mountain.
It's range was up to halfway up the mountain, and the situation was said to be worse than here.
It takes time to prepare in advance at the workshop, disassemble it, transport it, and assemble it on site, then adjust it.
Because the catapult requires a large number of skilled workers, it was put on the back burner.
“…and it can't be helped in that situation.
Everyone was frightened.”
The disturbances in Bernaich by Krische Christand.
The effect had lingered.
As a result, the rebuilding of the fortress in Bernaich was temporarily suspended, and it was just last week that it was decided to focus on the fortress of Mirskronia.
The fact that the workers hated working at Bernaich was also a big factor.
After a week of persistent disturbance, everyone was afraid to go up the mountain.
The work was hurried but difficult, and the fort was only recently finished in its present form.
If they were to build a fort in Mirskronia, the wood would have to be cut from Bernaich, not from Mirskronia, which had been burned down.
Soldiers and workmen alike feared the head-hunters of Bernaich——Krische and her Black Century.
The sight of the brave men, who had gone mad or turned into mute corpses, had instilled more fear in them than the number of dead.
They did not have enough time or mental space.
With this much better visibility, the catapult can fully demonstrate its power.
A wide field of fire and range, could have forced the enemy to bleed a lot.
But it's hard to expect that under those circumstances.
It was too late.
“Cursed Child, huh…what a monster.”
“I'm just thankful that, that thing was headed toward General Hilkintos and not this way.
I almost died myself.”
Alba also went up to Bernaich once.
On the last day of the raid, the ascent was made with four Century in a tight formation.
It was the century opposite Alba's group that was targeted.
It was a coincidence that he survived.
If it was the other side, he would have died.
Before they even had time to counterattack, the enemy had cleanly withdrawn, and what was left behind were frightened people who could hardly be called soldiers.
what a shame.”
“I have no choice but to pray that General Hilkintos will take revenge.”
This time, the attacks continue day and night, and the state of fatigue continued.
If that symbol of terror, Krische Christand, was here——that's something he didn't even want to think about.
“That said…it's still work.
I'll report up to the corps commander in the meantime.
The messenger, who had been standing by a short distance away, immediately ran up and saluted.
“To the corps commander.
And ask for confirmation.
The enemy at the foot of the mountain——“
—-At that point, a heavy metal sound resounded.
It was the sounds of gongs being struck that even shook Takiru's steel armor.
An assault, at this timing.
Takirus immediately Looked at the bottom of the mountain——at the plain.
However, what was there was not the figure of an enemy soldier roaring and charging.
It was something unexpected.
And the appearance of what he had feared.
Her silver hair, tied in two, swayed in the wind.
Wearing a black cloak.
And behind her were men in black armor.
In the girl's hand was a stained and torn flag——Hilkintos' crest, showing a two-headed lion.
The black-clad soldiers were accompanied by a one-armed man bound with rope and gagged.
The girl stepped forward boldly with them.
While at a blood-drenched battlefield, she walked through like it was a town street.
And on the flags lined up behind them was an unfamiliar drawing.
On the black-painted banner was a crescent moon sharp as a sickle and a skull.
As if symbolizing a neck cut by a blade——it was their unit banner.
Even those who were raining arrows stopped moving for a moment.
And long time no see to some of you.
I'm Krische Christand.”
A voice that has been augmented by magic resounded everywhere.
The girl said in a young voice——but emotionless.
Then she threw down the Hilkintos flag in her hand.
“Here is the former general of the Kingdom, Margrave Aurugorn Hilkintos…
and the treasonous sinner who pointed his sword at the First Princess, Kreschenta Fana Vera Alberan.”
In front of Krische, Hilkintos' body was held by his sides.
He is then made to kneel over his crest.
“As many of you know, the law of the kingdom states that any person who points his sword at royalty is guilty of high treason and must be put to death without any excuse.
The crime of pointing the blade at the rightful heir to the throne, Her Royal Highness Princess Kreschenta, will never be forgiven.
…Therefore, Krische took this opportunity to state that I, Krische, will carry out the execution in the name of Her Royal Highness Princess Kreschenta.”
General Hilkintos have been defeated?
Such puzzlement filled the minds of the Mirskronia soldiers.
“The usual way of punishing the high treason is to tear a man's body apart, but since this will be an informal execution, Krische will personally tear him limb from limb.
A crime must be properly punished.
Krische swears by this name that Krische will not forgive a traitor who has committed high treason against the royal family while being given the title of margrave and the position of general.
Please rest assured.”
Some of those with magical powers noticed that Krische was smiling.
A mad Cursed Child——and the tragedy at Bernaich.
Those who knew it instantly shuddered.
“Umm, as for why is Krische ripping off the limbs according to formal etiquette when it's informal? As you can see, this is an example.”
Krische raised her finger and said.
“As for Krische, Krische doesn't want all of you to shed unnecessary blood as fellow citizens of the Kingdom.
You probably don't know that your actions are high treason, and you are tempted by the evil General Gertz Wiring to fight here.”
'So Krische wanted to make it known', she continued.
“I want you to know what the sin of high treason is, and as for Krische, Krische wants you to realize your mistakes here and surrender.
Of course, Krische promises we won't treat you badly.
However, if you continue to resist, that means you have acted out of your own will.
There are no more excuses, and Krische will not hold back.”
——Krische will do her utmost to make the sinner pay for their crime.
Perhaps it was a signal, as the girl said that, she was handed a large curved sword by one of the women.
She then cut the rope that bound the kneeling man's body
The man——Aurugorn Hilkintos tried to escape at that moment, then one of his legs was cut off by Krische who easily chased her from behind.
A spine-chilling scream could be heard through the gag.
Krische grabbed the man by the neck as she moved, dragged him, and threw him onto his banner.
Aurugorn screamed in pain, but Krische didn't show any mercy.
She stomped him on the back.
“You cursed child! How dare you speak out against a general who surrendered peacefully with such a one-sided plea, do you know not about the Holy Spirit Covenant!”
Takirus raised his voice.
An angry voice extended with magical power——followed by several other voices.
Krische nodded repeatedly as she listened to the voices.
“Isn't it too outrageous? Some people may think so.
It's much to cruel treatment for a general who had surrendered.
Isn't it a violation of the Holy Spirit Covenant? However, the figure that this man showed earlier, did you see it?”
Krische stepped on Aurugorn and place the sword on his shoulder.
“This man is a disgrace to noble.”
Blood was dripping from the blade.
“The other day, this man pretended to surrender and tricked us, he had planned to escape from the beginning just like a moment ago.
As a result, the lives of soldiers who should have survived unharmed were meaninglessly taken away.
…The offensive behavior disguised as surrender is a clear violation of the Holy Spirit Covenant.
That was done by a Kingdom's noble, a general of the army.”
Then he swung down the sword and cut off his arm.
The screams muffled by the gag were as ugly as they could be.
This was not the appearance of a general who had commanded tens of thousands.
“The reason Krische is showing this is also to prevent the same tragedy from happening again.
As you said, there are rules in war.
Even in the midst of slaughter, there are rules to be upheld.
There is a discipline to protect the honor and the cause of those who fight——there are rules to protect such aesthetics.”
She twirled the great curved sword, which was clearly too heavy even when looked at from a distance.
'Krische will always respond to those who adhere to it in accordance with the favorable interpretation.
you do not, then——“
——She swung down and severed a leg.
There was a scream.
Some of the soldiers were shaking from fright, and others were crouching down, covering their ears.
“…Like this Krische does not have any mercy for you.
Violation of the Covenant is a grave sin, close to high treason, but in reality, it is a vague rule that leaves a great deal of room for interpretation.
Remember, it is left largely to the conscience of the one who complies.
If Krische wanted to, Krische could kill every soldier in this room with legitimate reason without violating the Holy Spirit Covenant.”
The battlefield came to a halt while Aurugorn had both his limbs chopped off.
What had been a glorious kingdom general convulsed on the ground, looking like a caterpillar.
——Krische stepped through his neck as if to show it off, and after completely ending his life, she turned to the mountain again and announced.
“Krische is not good at talking, but if many people can understand by actually showing it like this, that's the best thing for Krische.
I hope that you will understand what Krische just said and make the right decision.”
She returned the sword in her hand to the woman and continued.
“Also, Krische will bother you tonight.
…The battle will probably be over by tomorrow morning.
To avoid needless bloodshed, please make your decision early.”
After saying that, she lowered her head deeply, and the silver girl returned to the camp.
She was cutting off people's arms and legs, but she was still calm.
All that was left was the cold air, awakening from the heat and madness of the battlefield.
And a general who was brutally killed.
The will to fight was completely consumed by fear of the girl.
Takirus, who looked on in a daze, sensed the inevitable defeat that day ——he slammed his fist into the wall of the watchtower.
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