The one to lead the Kasandora Kingdom’s army against the witches, so as to retrieve Fort Ein, was Ligaya, to whom one could also refer as Guiscard’s right-hand man.
Guiscard’s career had mainly focused on accounting and management of their army’s funds, hence, he had no real battle experience. Besides, if their opponent were the witches, Guiscard thought it would be more reasonable to entrust the skillful Ligaya with that task rather than have himself butt in. Guiscard had also decided he would support Ligaya’s back.
“Excellent, we shall set off for a sortie.”
At Ligaya’s order, the vanguard of their troops began to march.
The 1st wave consisted of 300 soldiers.
The 2nd wave, which fell under Ligaya’s direct command, had 300 soldiers as well.
Whereas, the 3rd and last wave consisted of 200 people.
The mentioned 200 people, which comprised of messengers, transportation soldiers and guards, acted as Ligaya’s rear that supported his main forces.
Ligaya held no criticism against Guiscard’s seemingly cowardly tactic, as it was of utmost importance to assure the safety of Guiscard, who was the general of Kasandora Kingdom’s army.
A platoon will fall into commotion upon its leader’s death. The same goes for a captain’s company and a commander’s battalion, as well as for the general of the whole army. Since this was how troops functioned in this era, Ligaya thought it was just natural for Guiscard to stay behind.
(Rather, I should be thankful to General for not expressing his willingness to carry out the attack by himself. The only ones to troubled would be, as usual, soldiers on the frontline.)
There were times when even Ligaya, who possessed plenty of battle experience on the frontline, had to deal with irrational orders from his superiors. Because of that, he warned himself while drawing a conclusion.
Despite that, their enemy this time was the witches.
As this was Ligaya’s first battle involving the witches, he too felt a bit nervous.
The 2nd wave proceeded to its departure after leaving some time gap.
And the 3rd wave followed soon after.
Ligaya’s plan was to make the 3rd wave a reserve troop, with the 1st and 2nd wave being offensive troops. According to those soldiers that escaped from Fort Ein, there were less than 50 witches in total. Because of that, having 600 soldiers on their side, Ligaya should be able to cope with their enemy somehow……. rather, they had to manage it at all cost.
(I really wish there are no more than 50 of them. However, for the witches to be able to capture a fort guarded by 300 soldiers, I wonder if their number is truly less than 50. Naturally, I haven’t heard the witches who have been living inside the dark forest to band together against their enemy, but, while I can believe there are around 50 of them, I can’t agree with this amount being actually able to bring down such a guarded fort. No…..)
Ligaya recalled their last battle against the witches at the Schweiz River. He wasn’t there back then, but he heard from others who happened to be present it had been seemingly a wretchful defeat.
(For our army of 2000 units to suffer an utter defeat like that against a mere 20-30 witches. There’s no room for negligence. That’s why, we’ve brought siege engines with us.)
This time, Kasandora Kingdom’s plan was to utilize catapults and a battering ram in order to capture the fort. For that reason, their plan of retrieving it took slightly more time, due to preparations involving heavy weaponry. Ligaya felt they were going a little bit overboard with their attack on such a small fort, but nevertheless, the enemy were the witches. He thought they had to do as much as possible.
Ligaya, who saddled his horse and took command, ran his eyes over the surroundings. There were no villages to the south of the royal capital, and the amount of arable land was scarce. Instead, where Ligaya was standing, nothing but wastelands and a forest could be seen appearing on both sides of the main road that stretched from Kasandora to Fort Ein. In front of them, there was a hilly area, which in comparison to a plain, obstructed their long-distance view.
(Perhaps, we should expect an attack from the witches soon.)
It was unclear for Ligaya when, what kind of magic, as well as under what conditions the witches would launch their attack against them, which made him feel anxious.
Even after listening to those who survived from previous battles, Ligaya still had no clue.
He learned more or less about the enemy’s effect and type of magic, such as water, wind, and fire magic, but he couldn’t grasp why their troops came under the enemy’s attack.
(Could it be that the witches have become able to manipulate and toy with our army? It’s the first time for me to hear about this, but….)
There were many things that Ligaya had no idea about, such as what the witches’ attitude before and after a battle was, as well as their strategy.
Despite saying so, they had to fight and win.
(With this fragmentary knowledge that we’ve obtained, what’s left is to entrust our luck to the heavens.)
Ligaya could only become serious.
(Besides, from the witches’ unconventional fighting method, there’s a chance they will launch a preemptive attack on us.)
Therefore, Ligaya dispatched numerous scouting troops from the 2nd wave, and also from the 3rd wave, which assumed the vanguard position, to look out for any unexpected attacks coming from the witches.
“I guess the enemy will be entering our range soon.”
Naga muttered after looking down at the Kasandora army from a high elevation.
He was able to make an almost exact estimation of the number and battle formation of their enemy based on the information from Yuuki’s reconnaissance and Selena’s Heaven’s Eyes.
“Everything is going according to the plan.”
Naga believed in the success of his strategy.
The aim of his plan was to defend Fort Ein, still, Naga thought he wanted to carry it out without causing much damage for both sides.
He expressed that intention, as it was one of his principles of war, but according to Yuuki,
“The more of the enemy we kill, the more benefit we gain.”
She said so while being very displeased.
Not just her, many other witches wore the same, or rather, wondering expressions. Still, Naga faced them down.
“Following your method there will be no profit at all.”
Right now, Naga was awaiting the right moment for the 2nd and 3rd group, lead by Raibach, to make their appearances.
Whether their plan of establishing a peaceful world would succeed or not, Naga believed it would greatly depend on how many human allies they could gain. They couldn’t rely just on their own strength.
“Only that way, can we benefit.” – Still, because the witches weren’t satisfied, Naga had his own way by emphasizing his words.
In order to make this plan successful, they had to treat Raibach, who was in charge of the 3rd group, well.
Raibach probably wouldn’t be pleased, were he to learn they achieved victory simply because they slaughtered Kasandora Kingdom’s soldiers, as many of them were his former comrades. Therefore, Naga wanted to avoid that. But, because the witches wouldn’t be content with that, Naga thought it was better not to state his true intentions.
(I guess you should always start with the first step, or rather not, but, there’s no telling, some of the witches might consider Raibach a nuisance if they see me appointing him to a responsible post, even though he was just recently a prisoner……. Hm? Always start with the first….. Whose quotation was that again?)
A fragment of his memory from his principles of war resurfaced in the back of his mind, but, Naga decided not to dig any deeper into that.
Anyways, like that, Naga kneaded a plan to repel the enemy’s troops while bearing in mind his fundamental policy.
With that, Naga and the witches proceeded to their tactic.
A certain mantle was placed inside a shallow, dug hole located close to the main road. As the mantle began to float, the one to appear from it was Elysione.
So as not to be discovered and caught by the enemy, Elysione lowered her back and adopted a crouching position.
Because the main road stretched between hilly areas and a mountainous zone, it was natural for the Kasandora Kingdom’s army to reach Fort Ein in columns. Naga predicted such a thing would happen, and therefore, considered it in his plan.
“Mother, just a bit more.”
Elysione called out to Vita, who was inside the mantle.
“I’m ready at any time.”
“….4, 3, 2, 1, now!”
Zun – Being unable to endure, Elysione crawled on all fours once she received a shock reaching her stomach.
Despite Elysione being used to Vita’s magic and preparing herself mentally, she still couldn’t bear its effect, as she was unable to put any strength into her limbs while falling flat. Even if one was to try to muster a bit of one’s strength, it didn’t seem they would be able to move an inch. It was no exception for Elysione, and so, the vanguard from Kasandora’s Army’s 1st wave, which was taken by surprise, immediately bent their knees, leaned forward and fell on the ground.
The range of Vita’s magic was more than 300 meters. 20-30 soldiers, who walked in front of the 1st wave’s column, fell onto the ground and struggled upon entering Vita’s range of magic.
“W, What’s going on?!”
“Is the enemy attacking?!”
Among the soldiers, there were also a few of those who had been involved in the previous battle at Fort Ein.
“This is just like that time!” – Despite those few thinking so, they had no counterplan nor any idea about how to deal with the situation.
“It’s an attack, from the witches….”
The mentioned soldiers could do nothing but groan with those words. They could not even send instructions to their allies.
The soldiers in the rear readied their spears and bows hurriedly while bracing themselves for the attack. Still, the enemy was nowhere to be found. Nobody seemed to have noticed Elysione and Vita hiding themselves in a crouching position, inside a dug hole located hundreds of meters ahead of them.
Thinking it was an attack commenced by the witches, those who had directly witnessed the abnormal situation were seized with fear. Despite only 20-30 people in front of the 1st wave collapsing, it was enough to stop the soldiers who followed behind.
“Why did the front suddenly stop?!”
Not being affected by Vita’s magic, and in addition, not seeing their enemy, those from behind had not the slightest idea why the soldiers in front had stopped. Had it been a pillar made of fire blowing up, they would’ve been able to grasp the situation even from far away, but, those unaffected by Vita’s magic had yet to experience it in order to realize the gravity of the situation. Nevertheless, it was clear to them something was occurring, and hence, commanding officers of other following troops dispatched messengers to check the situation in front.
Just then, something flew through the air while cutting it.
The thing sank into the ground and created dust, at the same time producing the loud sound of an impact.
“A, A cobble?”
Other cobbles followed up, creating more dust each time they hit the ground with a loud sound of an impact.
Unlike before, everyone had realized it was an attack this time. They could experience it on their skin.
Still, they became petrified upon learning they were targeted.
Ais was throwing and aiming from the side. Her target was those who were outside the scope of Vita’s magic. The distance between her and the enemy was long, making it difficult for Ais to aim precisely. But, because the soldiers were too scared to move, there was no real need for her to aim whatsoever. It was fine as long the cobbles could reach near soldiers.
Those who were unlucky would be hit by one of the rebounding cobbles. They would lose their consciousness once they got hit in their helmet. Reversely, the cobbles would bounce off if they hit their armor, depending on the degree of the impact, but, if the soldiers got hit numerous times, it was quite likely their armor would break and their body, pierced. In case of their legs and arms, they would become fractured. Were the situation to continue like that, the troops from Kasandora would sustain nothing but heavy injuries due to Ais’ tremendous strength. In the worst case scenario, the soldiers would pass away. Thinking that way, perhaps their bodies felt heavy, but, they couldn’t afford to lie down there. Trying to stand up, many of them began to fight against heavy odds.
Soon after, their bodies turned rapidly light. Those who had noticed that jumped up one after another.
As one would expect, they ran away at full speed amidst the clouds of dust, behind other troops.
The soldiers crossed with those trying to advance forward, as a result, creating a commotion among other troops.
“Oi, what the heck?!”
“Return back to your position!”
“Did something happen?!
A certain leader together with his men at the back tried to hold back those escaping, but, the latter wouldn’t stop to move.
“The witches are striking!”
“If you go ahead of you, you won’t be able to move!
“Once you’re immobilized, you will be targeted with cobbles!”
Actually, Kasandora Kingdom’s troops weren’t the target of the shots. Not even the accuracy of those shots was precise. Nonetheless, watching cobbles falling closely near them while being immobilized was what overwhelmed their feelings with fear. They were convinced that the cobbles would surely hit them if they stayed down. For that reason also, nobody tried to move. The very same terror spread among other peers who stood behind.
Many of the present soldiers had already gone through a bitter experience at the Schweiz river, and even those that fought against the witches back then at Fort Ein. At that time, they were immobilized in the same way and lost their consciousness from being electrocuted by lightning. The soldiers who were part of the garrison at Fort Ein turned around and fled away as if trying to catch up with their other comrades, upon recalling the previous event.
“Hey, where are you going?!”
“Stop! Return back to your post!”
The leaders of various platoons were shouting desperately, but, far from the commotion settling down, it further escalated to the back of the end of the 1st wave.
Bang! – Again, a strong impact could be felt reverberating in one’s stomach, however, this time it was the leaders and their subordinates turn to fall, or perhaps, better to say, tumble clumsily.
“Uwaaah, it’s again here!”
Having their paths blocked by the leaders, the soldiers who had pushed and shoved each other collapsed onto the ground while screaming. Elysione, who had seen the 1st wave’s front crumbling and being unable to fight back, moved to the next mantle and again repeated the same action using Vita’s ‘Song of Gravity’.
Just as planned, Ais changed her position and again commenced her throwing.
Following that, Yuuki, who was watching the commotion from above, landed on her hoverboard.
One of Sraymeyer’s members, Lily, rode it with her.
Having a desperate expression, the petite Lily clung to Yuuki’s body as they soared into the sky. She casted her fearsome magic and caused a storm with lightning.
Dozens of lightning bolts rained down from the sky while aiming at the soldiers that moved in confusion. As well as for Lily, there was no particular need to specify her aim. Since the soldiers had been wearing armor and holding swords and spears, they were struck by lightning one after another.
The commotion among Kasandora Kingdom’s troops continued to escalate more and more.
Just then, a crowd of wooden dolls that followed Kay was approaching.
To the soldiers, the witch who was half naked with her skin radiating in silver appeared as though she was leading the crowd of dolls. The dolls made from short logs and thin limbs carried bows with them while swinging their body left and right soundlessly. It was a somewhat bizarre view. Not to mention, in addition to the incessantly thrown cobbles, there were also lightning bolts showering the enemy’s heads.
The vanguard from the 1st wave of soldiers was just one step away from falling into a complete state of panic.
“Please save me!”
The platoon leaders had finally come to realize their own mistakes by trying to stop those fleeing. However, it was already too late, as their bodies turned multiple times heavier, making them unable to move with ease.
Soon, the surrounding ground was buried with soldiers who struggled desperately while tumbling.
“It’s the witches!”
“We’re being attacked by the witches!”
Those soldiers that escaped first to the back cut through the 1st wave and ran til the middle of the 2nd wave.
The 2nd wave also started to lose its composure upon hearing from the fleeing soldiers they were under attack of the witches. Despite company captains giving out orders to advance, so as to support their allies and repel the witches, almost half of the present soldiers watched the turn of event without moving.
In the end, there were those trying to follow the orders, those hesitating to progress, and those running away from the 1st wave. The last ones mixed up with the 2nd wave, making another commotion.
Finally, the commotion kept spreading til the middle of the 2nd wave.
(Damn. What the heck is going on?!)
Ligaya had not the slightest idea about what was going on. The only thing he could grasp was that his troops had already started to crumble after the first clash with their enemy.
(Is this how the witches fight? It’s as though we’re being toyed with by them. I don’t get it. For the witches who had been passive til now, how are they able to fight like this?! Doesn’t it feel like there’s some sort of eminent leader guiding a troop of elites?)
It was an excellent preemptive attack, which far exceeded even Ligaya’s expectations. He felt like nodding and agreeing with the reason why General Geobalk, who had served long in military service, had stained his reputation with a single loss.
(No good! This isn’t the time to think about that. If I don’t rearrange the formation, we’ll lose at this rate.)
Ligaya, who was at the rear of the 2nd wave which he led, became desperate and moved forward. He shouted at other commanding officers and continued to spur on the soldiers, in order to suppress the whole turmoil.
Seeing how the turmoil escalated among the 1st wave, Vita released her magic. As she did so, those who were groveling regained their mobility. At the same time, feeling how their bodies lightened, the soldiers jumped up hurriedly and turned away.
The cobbles which had been incessantly coming from the side wouldn’t stop. Every time they crashed into the ground, clouds of dust would continue to rise. Nobody from Kasandora Kingdom’s troops could afford to lie down on the ground forever, as they would have their bodies pierced through if they did so.
Since the only one to throw the cobbles was Ais, there wasn’t a large number of them like when it was an all out barrage, still, it was the case for lightning striking from the sky. The individual lightning strikes weren’t that strong, and even being hit by one of them directly wouldn’t be life threatening, however, the target would lose consciousness, were it to be serious.
On one side, there were soldiers groaning and tumbling on the floor from being hit by cobbles, whereas, on the other side, there were those suffering spasm from getting struck by lightning. The field was mostly dominated by those scenes.
Still, it didn’t end with just them.
Arrows were flying through the air from the direction of the wooden dolls that had approached near the enemy. The density of the arrows corresponded to the number dolls, which exceeded more than 60, and was similar to the number of items thrown out during an explosive barrage. Since the attack was conducted by the dolls, their shots weren’t a big deal, but, Kasandora’s troops wouldn’t know about that. They would consider the dolls’ strike on a par with those terrifically strong throws carried out by Ais.
Feeling they were risking their lives, nobody from soldiers would try to advance or fight back against the witches.
It was just a natural course of action for the soldiers to turn away and flee.
The commotion spread throughout the entire 1st wave and it was no longer possible for the soldiers to settle down and refrain from escaping.
The number of defectors was about to increase even further once the previous ones screamed about the terror of the witches’ magic, such as the one that made your body turn heavy.
Many of them that had yet to experience Vita’s magic began to think they would become her magic’s prey, were they to stay there any longer. Nonetheless, among unaffected soldiers, there were also those brave enough to put a resistance against the witches. They directed their bows toward the crowd of wooden dolls and shot. Still, the dolls wouldn’t cease to move with just 1 or 2 hits.
“It’s their front! Aim at the witch in front! If you take it down, those dolls will cease moving!”
At a leader’s order, several people focused their arrows on Kay. Nevertheless, no matter how many times the arrows hit her, they would just bounce back.
The enemy would still be able to comprehend, if she wore thick armor, but, the witch was half naked, no matter how much they looked at her. Even if they aimed at her bare skin, the arrows wouldn’t pierce through.
*kin kin* – metallic sounds were produced together with the arrows bouncing back.
If the arrows proved to be useless, the only thing soldiers could do was to slice their enemy, nonetheless, not even those who happened to be brave enough had the courage to approach the dolls and Kay amidst the rain of arrows and flying cobbles.
Having witnessed the might and Vita’s magic, the terror of Ais’ throws and Lily’s lightning attack, everyone from the 1st wave got cold feet and began to withdraw one by one.
However, what waited for them ahead of their path was a new assault, which one could say was intended to stop the enemy.
A herd of wolves plunged into Kasandora Kingdom’s 1st wave.
The wolves, which gave out threatening sounds of growls, ran freely between the enemy’s legs, making them become filled with fear. Even though the animals were controlled by Harlequin, she didn’t tell them to bite their enemy to death. The girl only ordered the wolves to run between soldiers’ legs, but that alone had an immediate effect. The enemy’s horses acted violently upon sensing the smell of the wolves, which they feared the most.
The horses left the battlefield one after another, either shaking off their owners or with them in tow. There was no end to the commotion.
Finally, not being able to maintain its formation, Kasandora’s 1st wave began to retreat.
Because the 1st wave turned back, the 2nd wave fell into an even bigger commotion.
There were also soldiers who got the wrong idea about their comrades taking flight due to the latter’s 1st wave being obliterated.
As a result, they would imagine the witches closing in immediately after that. The soldiers threw away their post and began to escape in quick succession from fear.