CHAPTER 158: THE BATTLE OF ARLEANS
Harald had occupied himself on the opposite hill, when they move their camp last night without Arial knowledge.
They moved stealthily and swiftly during the night after their great feast.
Seeing that the camp is in feast when Arial heard the report he let down his guard and did not send any other scouts to check the situations after that.
It was a big mistake. One that he is eager to redeem by winning.
Arial look at his soldiers and then look at the mass of people in front of him. A battle on the low ground would have been favourable to cavalry; and Harald know this.
So Harald occupied and fenced in a hill, one of the hill of Arleans, , and there Harald awaited Arial attack.
Arial knew that his horseman had thus to make their way up the hill under the shower of the Vanguan javelins, and to meet the axes as soon as they reached the barricade.
Then Arial speak.
‘SOLDIERS’ he yelled. And his soldier all straightened their posture ready to listen the Duke speech before going to battle.
Words that will ignite their passion.
And what motivation is as tempting as eternal glory? That is what Arial had promised and it is what he intends to delivers.
‘YOU ALL KNOW WHY WE ARE HERE!’ Arial said, his voice is clear and loud.
The soldiers nodded in solemn manner, their eyes looking at the majestic presence of the Duke riding on top of his flame colored horse, circling the area, looking at the faces of the soldiers, while their ears is listening to the Duke words, one by one.
They all listen in silence, waiting to hear what the Duke would say.
‘No speeches, no words that I can say to express my gratitude and none left unspoken. I thank God, and thank you from the bottom of my hearts for believing in me. I will not speak long today. I only want to say a few things before we march into battle.’
‘TODAY!’ He yelled and his voice reverberated around the open space.
‘Today, we will either, be glorious and carve our name in history, or fail and forgotten! If we win, history…and the world will remember us, and our deeds here. If we fail we will be forgotten if not blamed as loser always is.’
The soldiers echoed their approvals, by offering agreement on the matter
‘TRUE!’ some of them yelled. Arial smiled and continue his speech.
‘I have no other charge to charge you with, but this one last reminder before we undertake this momentous task before us. REMEMBER THIS! ASK YOURSELF, MY FELLOW SOLDIERS! MY FELLOW LORDS! KNIGHTS! ARCHERS! Will our actions today echoes across the centuries? Will strangers hear our names long after we gone? Wonder who we were? How fiercely we fought? How brave WE fought? Will we be remembered? I ask of you my soldiers to bring honour to your name and your might. Let our names be distinguished! Let our names echoes across the centuries, let them wonder who we are, let them marvel of our fierceness, let them admire our bravery, let them sing songs and told tales of our exploits! Let our descendant be proud of their ancestors, telling our story in the cold winter season, huddled up near the fireplace, rejoicing in our stories and pride in their hearts for our deeds. LET US TODAY ACHIEVE A TASK IN WHICH OUR NAME WILL FOREVER LIVE IN HISTORY!’
‘LET THEM REMEMBER!’ the soldiers screamed with their lungs, tapping their shields with their swords, sound of clanging shields and cheer erupted from Arial army and Arial turned his horse to face his enemy, knowing that his army is full with fighting spirits and their morale surged up.
And then with one loud shout he yelled.
‘CHARGE! AND BRING FORTH OUR MIGHT!’
And Arial sped off to the front while his army follows behind, riding to battles, like the descent of Shield Lady from the Feasting Halls of the Horned Gods, riding in their flame steed.
The battle, is more than a trial of skill and courage between two captains and two armies.
It is a trial between two modes of warfare. The Vanguan clave to the old Anglais Raxons tactics.
They fought on foot in the close array of the shield-wall. Those who rode to the field dismounted when the fight began.
But Harald is waiting and he is waiting that his judgement would lead to a draw, a conclusion that he desperately wanted.
He will not charge.
Not until Arial is close enough to him, not until he has used every measures to slow down Arial army from coming to the fenced and well protected hill, while waiting from the southern lords to decide whether to join Harald in his battle or sit this one out, resting or maybe hoping for a secession
Cori certainly isn’t sending any help.
Not when Renasia has attack their eastern port as Great Renasia wanted the sole right of trading on what they called Great Sun Waters, declaring that they wanted to take the entrepot and trading post near the western port of Cori and Cori could not send help, not when at the same time they are dealing with the powerful Empress of an empire.
So for now they are waiting…and enduring.
From the hill Harald missile corps move out and began taking positions and then the battle will shortly begin between these two great armies.
But like Arial himself he too has his own words to speak out to his soldiers for this act of aggression by a Duke of a foreign nation.
By a claim that Harald and the rest of Vangua lords and nobility find absurd.
Of course, some nobility find Arial claim to be reasonable but even so, they have their own prejudice.
Like the Caelum hated the Anglais, the Anglais hated the Caelum.
Caelum may suffer persecution before the time of Levitia, but Anglais also suffer discrimination during the Vern Empire Era.
It was only until Emperor George the Wise that Anglais discrimination lessen and they created a power base in many of the kingdoms, in Vanguan and Dostov primarily migrating there during the secession.
Harald is standing in a podium hastily made by his soldiers last night after they finished their feast.
And then he yelled.
‘HEAR MY WORDS!’ The soldier all watch their King standing on the top of the podium with a bearing of a noble king, a countenance of openness and kindness.
‘MY PEOPLE. GREAT AND BRAVE PEOPLE OF VANGUA!’ He thundered aloud.
‘The Duke of Arrandy and his forces have attacked our great country, killing and pillaging, razing and burning. In their wakes, villages destroyed, cities turned to ash. The Duke claim the throne is his!
‘FALSE CLAIMS!’ The lords yelled out.
The soldiers nodded in agreement and hurl insults to the Duke. If the Duke could hear the insults surely the Duke would flipped out in anger and kill all of them.
Harald is satisfied and continued his speech.
‘I say where the proof in that claim of his is? On what authority did he have to make such claims? The throne belongs to the people of Vangua is it not?’
‘YES!’ The soldiers applaud, thankful that they had such a generous King. Harald drive his point more convincingly when he mentioned the council of lords.
‘I have been approved by a great assembly of lords who entrusted to me the heavy responsibilities of governing the nation, and protecting its people. But today that trust is in danger of being broken. Today we are met with a great threat that is threatening our freedom and possibly the Kingdom itself. Entire responsibility for this predatory attack falls onto the Duke. This war is forced upon us by the duke selfish claims, his greediness and vices which threatened hundreds of thousands of people, exposing this country to great calamity. He meant to destroy us! To conquer us! These Caelum lords! Who have once enslaved Anglais, Raxons, Loth, Visiroth and countless of other races. Have we once benefited from their rule? Have we not suffered during the Empire rule? Have we forgotten the toils, sweat and blood of our predecessors who have given their utmost devotion to liberate our country from the Caelum rule?’
‘WE HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN’ some noble lords yelled.
‘YEAH. WE WILL NEVER FORGET!’ Soldiers yelled.
‘My people. My brave people! Do not despair. Do not be discouraged by their numbers. This is not the first time that our people had to deal with an attack of an arrogant foe. At the time of the Empire, Alexander the Divider try to conquer us back with his might army. What does our people reply to this arrogant foe?’
‘WAR!’ The soldiers yelled. Harald smiles.
‘Yes. Our reply was war for our motherland, and he suffered defeat and met his doom. It will be the same for the Duke, who in his arrogance has proclaimed a crusade against our country. Our army and our whole people will again wage victorious war for the country, for honour, for liberty. I call upon you, people of Vangua. Rally around me, your King. OURS IS A RIGHTEOUS CAUSE. THE ENEMY SHALL BE DEFEATED. VICTORY WILL BE OURS!’
‘HAAAAR’ the soldiers erupted to cheers and deafening sound fill the hill.
And moving don the podium, the battle begins.
‘SHOOT’ Harald officers yelled.
And by that orders hundreds of javelins thrown and arrows released to Arial approaching army, slicing the air with force.
Harald armies first hurled their javelins and shoot their bows, a thousand arrows heading towards them, falling from the sky like rain, piercing anyone who is late at putting up their guard.
West uses his shield to block the oncoming arrow while ordering his men, while Kyle dodges it using his horsemanship.
Arial is still on his horse riding it like the wind, his glaive slicing the arrows and the javelin.
This unbelievable scene rendered the javelins and arrows almost useless in front of him. Behind him the commanders is ordering their men to take position while Arial bravely rode to the front line alone.
‘My lord, wait for us!’
Some of the lords yelled out to Arial as they could see Arial is riding faster to meet and clash with Harald armies.
Even though they have agreed in this kind of attack, worries are still apparent in the eyes of Arial vassal lords.
How could they not?
Arial is their lord and the main power of the Invasion. If he falls in battle, morale would plummet and they have no reason to stay in Vangua any longer.
Their heart beats very fast every time an arrow swished by the Duke, every time javelins almost strike him.
They could have a heart attack seeing the display of reckless bravery of Arial.
This is the best tactic for him. Since Arial has massive battle power and strength combined with his long glaive, it is better for him to act like an overbearing avenger.
With his power and skills no one doubts the Duke prowess and survivability.
Not even his guards could catch up to Arial now as he keeps slicing anything that is thrown at him.
The moment of impact between these two armies is in about 30 seconds now as Arial army is trying to endure the barrage of javelins and arrows.
People fell like flies, blood coloured the green grass red, stench of death can be smelled, fear and dread, hatred and rage fill the battlefield.
Bloodcurdling screams, wails and cries become the music for the battlefields.
Then from behind Arial there is an order being shouted and this time the skies are filled with rains of arrows, sharp and numerous arrows as it rained down at Harald armies.
Arial missile corps counterattacks begins.
Kyle from behind after positioning his missile corps quickly order them to take position and release their arrows to both secure the safety of Arial cavalry and Arial safety while at the same time killing the enemies archers.
After all archers isn’t the Vangua specialty of arms.
The strength of the Arrandians lay in the arms in which the Vanguan is lacking, in horsemen and archers.
Arial has one of the strongest cavalry in the continent and one of the most deadly units of archers and bowmen the world has ever seen.
His army is well discipline and have high endurance. For the cavalry their offensive power is great while Arial missile corps is very precise in their attacks.
When the rains of steel arrows rained down upon the front line of Harald people fall like weak trees after a storm.
Hundreds upon hundreds of people scream. Some die in pain, dozens of arrows lodged in their bodies, while some is fortunate and managed to hide behind a shield wall, as hundreds of arrows stuck on the wooden shield.
This is a pitched battle and Arial is leading it.
Seeing their own leader very much flinging himself into the jaws of death how could not the common soldier feel touched, seeing that the Duke words are true.
They will either win the land together, or fail and die together.
Arial is still in front rushing to battle. Arial is not stupid either . Thinking of these he finally reached the point of clashing.
Hundreds of soldiers is running towards him all reay to axe him to death. Arial smirk.
‘I WILL TAK-‘ Arial swing his glaive and the bodies turned into slices of meat as blood spluttered like fountain, gushing from the decapitated lower half of the soldier that have tried to attack him.
The one behind the bald headed soldiers also suffer the same fate while some of them is too stunned to move and become the glaive next victim.
With its weight and Arial strength people are truly like branches of an old tree, one swing is all it took to reduce grown men into a puddle of blood.
His steed on the other hand, trampled on the corpses mutilated bodies, each step the horse as take is stained with people blood, leaving a blood trail showing where the killing begins and showing no signs of ending.
Harald army take their weapons of close combat and charge at Arial. Most of them use war axes, but Arial spotted some using a long sword.
‘COME IF YOU DO NOT VALUE YOUR LIVES’ Arial yelled, as his grip on the glaive tightens and he swings the glaive like a tornado, as blood spluttered around like a dancing of blood and limbs.
Behind him his army is advancing faster and faster marching in tortoise formation while the cavalry lead by West is advancing rapidly and then a huge clanging can be heard and screams filled the battlefield.
West has reached at the right flank as they clashed with Lord Girth corps and engage in battle.
Arial on the other hand is advancing slowly as hundreds of soldiers threw themselves at Arial trying to stop his advance only to be sliced into pieces of meat.
But……how could normal soldiers stopped him? He who is called Central Celestial, feared and respected in the martial art world?
How could they dare think that they could even put a scratch at his body, he is who is called the Dragon?
How could anyone contend with Arial might and overbearing presence that seem to choke the normal soldier with feelings of dread when Arial rides towards them?
Arial is activating his Imposing Presence and some people could see that when Arial is advancing some people unconsciously moved back and some even let him pass, their feet’s could not move, their knees buckled under such pressure of overwhelming presence.
Arial on the other hand is smirking, traces of blood can be seen on his face, a testament of the festivity of gore he is engaged right now.
Blood colour his face red, his black dragon scale armour become darker combining with the black colour of the dragon scale and the red blood of his enemies.
Arial turned around as he saw that Lord Soterton and Kyle are advancing.
Lord Sothern orders the foot soldiers to speed up their march while Kyle is ordering the archers to load up their arrows.
Every once in a while a horn is blown and West and Lord Soterton who is now reaching the right flanks will hold up their shields as they protect themselves from the barrage of arrows that rained down upon him.
Arial on the other hand took his glaive and swing it like a windmill, creating a vortex of wind on top of his head, deflecting every arrows that came from above.
Arial knows that Harald armies have not enough supplies of arms since the North belongs to Arial right now and with Montberry and Alsencon lords swearing fealty to his force, it had made Harald army needful to supply the place of the picked men of Harald with irregular levies, armed almost anyhow.
Of their weapons of various kinds the bow was the rarest. Sooner or later even their arrows will run out.
Their way of fighting and their method is fundamentally different from each other, but these two ways of fighting is brought each one to perfection by the leaders on each side.
But they had not yet been tried against one another.
At Venicia Harald had defeated an enemy with cavalry even though it is not his specialty but because his overwhelming number and that he caught the Anjouian by surprise.
But the same tactics won’t work with Arial not to mention Arial cavalry is stronger and more disciple with formations that is ever-changing.
Not to mention Arial experience in cavalry both in human continent and during his war on the plains of the Orcs.
Harald would then surely fall back to the tried and tested methods of fighting that his lords are used to.
Pitched battles, is rare in continental warfare. That warfare mainly consisted in the attack and defence of strong places, and in skirmishes fought under their walls.
But Arial knew how to make use of troops of different kinds and to adapt them to any emergency.
Harald too is a man of many resources; by adapting his men to the enemy’s way of fighting.
To withstand the charge of the Arial horsemen, Harald clave to the national tactics, but he chose for the place of battle a spot where those tactics would have the advantage.
Fenced in a hill where undoubtedly Arial horsemen will be showered by Vanguans javelins and the shooting of arrows, and to meet the axes as soon as they reached the barricade.
But the war is not yet determined and Arial knew he could not last long and neither could his soldiers.
He needs Harald to come down. He knew what Harald is thinking. A draw. It is the same as losing for Arial.
The gayety and joyousness of the initial fervor of Arial army soon disappeared, as corps after corps got fairly engaged in the awful work of the day.
For hours there reigned on the over the whole battlefield one wide-spread scene of havoc and death, every soul among all those countless thousands delivered up to the supreme dominion of the most dreadful passions, excited to a perfect frenzy of hatred, rage, and revenge, and all either mercilessly killing others, or dying themselves in agony and despair by both sides.
The battle is turning longer and longer and even Arial feel a little tired.
It seems Harald has gained reinforcement as his army is trying to overwhelm Arial forces with numbers.
Arial could not let Harald gains the upper hand.
He needs to think a way to made Harald and his armies to leave their camp on top of the hills to fully utilize his cavalry.
More men is coming every second to aid the Vangua King, and he could see it with his eyes focusing it with his internal energy, standards from noble houses.
Harald has brought all the great lords and knights of southern Vangua.
A large army Arial could sense is approaching the King camp and Arial could imagine the scene, thousands of soldiers a-glitter with spears and axes.
On the other hand Kyle is also providing aid to Arial reckless charge.
The archers that Kyle is controlling marched forward in an attempt to throw Vangua army into confusion.
While West is eager to help the lord and forcefully made his unit ride faster to the Duke aid, Kyle advised caution and urged the other lords to protect the missiles corps.
Kyle understands that Arial wanted to seize the Hill.
The mounted men of the other lords isn’t ready so Kyle hoped that the archers could delay the Vanguan vanguard until the other unit knights is ready to charge and seize the hill.
‘SHOOT’ Kyle yelled.
The grim-faced archers advanced, crossbowmen in the middle, and fired a fusillade at the enemy’s faces that clouds the open sky.
‘SHOOT’ Kyle yelled again.
Their orders is to harass the Vanguans in hopes of throwing them into confusion, but not to be sucked into premature combat.
If too hard pressed, they are ordered to fall back where they would be supported by the knights, who should by that time have donned their armour and mounted their horses.
Arial did a good job in attacking head on because a man of his strength is capable enough to do that and Kyle understands that.
But he also hope that Arial would fall back and then regrouped. And he is disappointed. The duke had no intention of turning back as he keep advancing.
If, the archers succeeded according to Kyle best hopes, surely Arial and his horsemen unit would then charge and take the hill.
Herald may have won the hill, but not before being badly disconcerted by a cloud of arrows launched towards them.
‘SHOOT!’ Kyle yelled again. Kyle missile corps is one of the most accurate marksmen in the continent and Arial unit is one of the strongest cavalry.
The wounds from the terrifying crossbow quarrels sustained by some of the foot soldiers of Vangua shattered their morale, convinced them, that they are up against some new miracle weapon, and this made some of them desert the King cause running to the nearest forest or village near the battle site.
But some of them remain steadfast and Vnaguan archers climb back up as ordered to the hill.
Kyle archers could make no impact on the enemy as shooting from a lower level, their arrows either struck the soldiers shields or passed over their heads.
Arial on the other hand is worried. He wanted to settle this fast without inflicting too much damage to his armies.
Then some of the lords broke through and joined Arial passing the blockade behind Arial. Lord Sotehrton also able to break through and re-joins Arial.
‘Shield wall!’ Sotherton yelled when he look at the hill.
Arial nodded solemnly.
‘Let us charge then’ Arial said. Sotherton smiled bitterly. There is no other way but up.
These men and lords, their soldiers and knights ride up the hill and charge the shield wall. However Harald is prepared for it.
Arial and Sotherton could see the crowned sword standard in one of the slopes.
Harald knights and soldiers wear full armour, helmets and coats of mail, with round shields and javelins to hurl at the beginning of the action, and swords and axes as the follow-up weapons.
To stiffen his weak spot, Harald combined his foot soldiers and his elite bodyguard in tight packed formation.
His army is now in close formation, protected in the front and at the flanks by the shield-wall.
Harald had an ideal defensive position for his soldiers to fight off the Arrandians knights and archers, though the location is not without disadvantages.
The ranks would have to stand in close order so that the dead would scarcely be able to fall, and the wounded could not detach themselves from the action.
Also, the shield-wall would have to part to allow the elite bodyguard to wield their dreaded two-handed axes.
Even though a warrior is momentarily (and dangerously) exposed while wielding it, his warriors had practised this manoeuvre time after time, and Harald felt confident not to mention his extensive experience during subjugation of Freya and the battle at Venicia
The Shield Wall corps as they are now called by the King is more of a worry, for some is frightened by the initial fusillade from the crossbows and others deserted when they saw the narrow space in which they would have to fight.
This did not trouble Harald, for he knew he had only to hold out until nightfall when reinforcements is certain to arrive; he could play for a draw but Arial had to have a win.
None the less, he was always alert to the issue of morale and decided to exhort his men, stressing their invincibility if they stood firm.
However, that if they broke rank, they will certainly lost to the Arrandians invaders. So when Arial broke rank and charge head first into the battle, Harald is gleeful.
But then he sees that the Duke did not charge because he is impulsive. It is because he is confident.
And now he and his lord is riding up the hill.
Harald just smiles.
‘Let see whether your army could stand my shield wall. You might be powerful but are your army as powerful as you? Would you sacrifice them?’
Arial and his army reached the hill only to be stabbed from all directions. His army is skewered, impaled and scythed down in dozens.
‘Assist us Light and grant us victory!’ this yells can be heard sometimes from the Arrandian knights but could make little impression to the Vanguan as they keep their slaughter.
Arial and Soterton on the other hand deftly avoided being stabbed. Arial even broke three of the shield wall before realizing that there is still thousand that he needs to mow through before he reached to Harald and his army is being decimated right now.
Is this Harald plan? To let him the only one that survived this Hill? And then overwhelmed him with numbers?
Vanguan soldiers on the other side of the hill worked out a kind of land shanty as they go about their grisly work; anyone gaining a toehold anywhere near the adamantine barrier of shields is run through and the corpse thrown back with an exultant cry of ‘GET OUT, INVADERS!’
The advantages of height and the sheer physical strength of the terrifying axe men break up the infantry and mounted attack in turn.
Arial is now stuck at a hard place. And then he got an idea. And he smiles as he rides down from the hill.