Translated by Tianic, edited by Grammarly, contributing editor: Tana N
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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]To draw a new combat plan sooner, I called an immediate general staff meeting once I returned the camp. I’ve asked my staff officers to prepare detailed countermeasures for possible strategy my enemy could utilize.
Undoubtedly, after the last battle when I revealed my troops’ real power, my opponents will counter attack fiercely next time. Currently, they had a considerable amount of deployable army. I presumed they probably will take me down by playing slowly and steadily.
Thus I explained the situation to my troops. Under such a severe circumstance, the soldiers began their efforts constructing pitfalls, snares, and traps by savaging everything they could find on the wildland. It was a harsh job, but since the result of the traps built for the last battle greatly astonished them, these sweaty men spared no strength. They only feared the pits were not deep enough, or the traps were not large enough. These people came off slaves and farmers, to begin with, and I’ve replenished them with necessary civil work knowledge before the war. Days later, the wildland was entirely filled with invisible holes and pits like a giant hive.
Compared to soldiers, the officers were much busier. Since they have gradually adapted to their duties, their professional characters were beginning to show.
“How do you tell that an officer comes from the recon regiment?“ If being asked, the soldiers will say, “Look, whoever runs to take a pee is the one you seek.”
The soldiers were right because every recon officers never have enough time to spend. They glared their reddened eyes and spread their investigation system onto the entire wildland. Several thousand unblinking eyes were now watching an area from the west coast to Xawin City to the east. Hundreds of pieces of intelligence came to me every day.
After screening, the valuable information will be sent directly to General Staff.
“How could you tell that someone is a staff officer?”
“Once you see someone put food in his nose instead of the mouth, bumping into walls when walking, wearing shoes upside down and slapping himself every now and then, you’re looking at a staff officer.”
It was exaggerated but very true. Staff officers, most of the time, were thinking about the difference between the enemies and us or making tactical coordinations, making formation selections. Sometimes their latest strategy, which they’ve spent days to draw, was overridden by one piece of the latest news. The staff officers worked around the map instead of working on their own appearances. They did not care anything other than planning the next battle.
The soldiers treated the officers’ professional behaviors with gratitude and respect. They will save the best food for their officers, stop the officers who almost hit a wall and place things that the officers needed in the most convenient places possible. Because they knew that the officers were working hard to protect everybody’s lives.
For other commanders, the camp atmosphere before the big war should be oppressive, but mine was entirely different. It was a harmonious campsite. The soldiers took order to eat and sleep, trained with the highest morale. The military law breakers are nearly extinct.
What was uniting the soldiers were neither food nor laws, but a real sensation.
‘You and they’ used to be the most common way to address other soldiers and officers. Now, the words have gradually been replaced by ‘we and us’. As the addressing changed, the 9th Legion has completed its ultimate transformation. It turned from a heap of loose sands to an elite army that was only loyal to me. They have turned as sharp and obedient as the black steel blade on my back.
What was pity was that more people showed their hobbies to enjoy a few casual kickings from me. If I were to kick every one of them, it’d keep me busy from morning to nightfall.
But when there was time, I would still tap their heads, kick their asses or yell at them with dirty words. Because I knew what I did will make them feel they were cared and give them a sense of belonging. Most of them were refugees who spent decades on the Line. They were the lives abandoned by both Protoss and Asmodian. When they found a sense of hope here with me, what they feared most might only be being abandoned again.
What came before the AUF troops was a messenger from Gallia City.
There were plenty letters including regards from my three lovely wives, interrogation from a daring businesswoman and information from Fischer. Of course, the bloody orders from the headquarters were included.
Let me start with the orders.
To Commander of 9th Legion of the Protoss United Force, Knight of Protoss, Ser Cohen Kheda,
… as the final battle is imminent, the Asmodian United Forces are making their so-called last, useless defend. We believe the light will be forever on the Protoss/Asmodian Line after the war.
…due to the intense battle, the 9th Legion must initiate an active attack immediately after receiving the order and contain the entire AUF 5th war zone army within the Camp Empire. You must once again sabotage the enemy supply route thoroughly…
Aside from the above little piece of words that I could barely recognize as specific order, the rest of the letter was filled with sentimental religious expressions. Its level of craziness were hundreds of times over the sickening love letters between a couple that’s passionately in love. The last signature was still Prince Carl Ulysses’.
“Bullshit.” I cursed then gave the order one last glimpse to make sure I did not miss anything. After, I made a paper ball out of the letter and put it in my palm.
As I concentrate my magic power, the ball blazed. Well, my magic level has been improving.
I blew away the leftover ashes and opened Fischer’s letter and started reading. The more I read, the grimmer my look.
As my troops were winning battles, the overall war was going on intensely. On the thousand miles of the battle line, both sides have lost enormous soldiers. The near 2 million troops from the two alliances have depleted over half. Comparably, PUF army suffered more. They’ve lost several battles, and their defensive line was collapsing.
Fischer also warned that although the PUF army was still attacking, it was their last and final strike. The Protoss United Forces could at least hold for half a month, then will withdraw. By then, the Asmodian United Forces will have the time and energy to deal with me. He urged me to retreat immediately!
No one expected the Protoss United Forces to meet its defeat this soon, but Fischer’s intelligence was very trustworthy. I did not see why I should not listen to him. The date marked on the letter was 10 days ago!
“Get Carlos for me!” I yelled to the outside, then was immediately fulminated with anger by the second thing Fischer mentioned in his paper.
After Prince Carl Ulysses had brought a group of temple-assigned bureaucrats to justice, the Heaven Island grand temple immediately reacted.
That very night, the three cardinals required to meet the Protoss race and pleaded to chastise Prince Carl Ulysses. Intervened by the War God though, their appeal was not taken, because punishing the supreme commander during the War was undoubtedly a stupid act. Nevertheless, the Prince himself was still called back to his home country.
Since the cardinals had not achieved their goal, they once again pleaded to the Protoss race for another request: they wanted to cut back the number of Protoss Knights, they’ve primarily asked that there shouldn’t be more than one Protoss Knights within an empire!
Obviously, their appeal was targeting me! However, out of unknown considerations, the Protoss race unexpectedly agreed their appeal. The Goddess Charlotte sent a direct letter to His Majesty Climos Summers. She required the King to select one Protoss Knight among the two to repeal.
Due to that Fischer had to succeed the throne and the fact he cannot be a Protoss Knight and an emperor at the same time, His Majesty Climos let Fischer hand in the Protoss Knight armor and rapier. Although the King and Fischer could not care less about it, such an improper deprival of rights was not acceptable to any nobilities. It was shameful!
I will not let it go easily, you temple bastards!
“Sir, you wanted to see me?” Carlos entered my pavilion.
“Carlos, things have changed.” I nodded to him, “We must fall back immediately!”
“In such a hurry?” He saw the seriousness on my face and was stunned.
“Yes, we must fall back to Gallia immediately.” I said, “The War on the Line might be already over now!”
“This is a letter from 10 days ago.” I showed him the papers, “I am sure we’re in an utterly grim situation. If we’re seiged by the AUF troops, we’ll be doomed!”
“I’ll see what I can do now!” Right after Carlos said that, Marfa entered.
“Boss, new info!” Marfa said tensely, “Enemy spotted.”
“They are coming from 2 directions, the one from Camp is led by Guildford. He has brought all his troops and is coming for us!” Marfa said, “The other is coming from the Line. They’re a day’s ride from Xawin!”
“Guildford has 200, 000 -ish, mostly infantries.” Marfa said, “The one from the Line has around 100, 000, three legions, riders, infantries and special forces! They’re coming in fast. Guildford is only a day and a half’s ride from us.”
I was surprised. Since the AUF was able to relocate troops from the frontline, the Protoss United Forces must have failed already!
“Carlos, order the troops to withdraw immediately! Burn the camp! I’ll guard the rear with 4 IGT troops! Send my order to Wilder, tell him to set a fire on Guildford’s back and go back to Gallia directly via the sea!” I said absolutely, “Marfa, tell your agents to be vigilant! Watch everything that moves!”
“Sir, yes, sir!”
While my troops were collecting their things, more information about the 2 enemy armies came continuously to me.
The one came from the Line traveled exceptionally rapidly because most of them were riders. I judged they must want to cut my leeway. The other Guildford’s army from Camp has divided themselves into two groups and were marching toward us fiercely with 50 miles in between.
Such manners of the enemy told me they’ve had their operation plan drawn very early. Nowadays, as the time has matured, even Guildford who won’t easily mobilize his soldiers poured in everything he had.
Since the battlefield I designed had a maximum capacity of 100, 000 enemy troops, I cannot guarantee my victory given an extra 20, 000~30, 000, let alone the enemy was more than 300, 000 in number!
“Boss!” Marfa once again dashed to me, “Guildford had a team vanguards separated from his main force, they’re coming fast!”
“Don’t panic.” I took over the paper from Marfa and glanced Carlos, “How’s our troop?”
“The investigation corps was sent, our advance soldiers have set off already.” Carlos told me, “In less than half hour, we’ll burn the camp, and the rest troops should be ready!”
I eyed the officers around me, “You’ll all follow Carlos except for the guarding troops! I want you to reach the meeting point in the shortest time possible! I will catch up ASAP. As long as we reach the canyon, we’ll be safe!”
Moya looked at me and said, “Sir, I can’t leave you here. Let me guard the rear!”
“Yeah! Let me do it, sir!”
The officers all talked at once to volunteer and let me go first.
“Shut your fucking mouths!” I glanced all of them with my shift and fierce eyes, “If I let you idiots guard the rear, all the 10, 000 soldiers are doomed! Now get your stupid asses outta here!”
The officers all dispersed.
“Carlos,” I hinted and said quietly, “keep an eye on those fools for me.”
“I know.” Carlos nodded carefully and said, “Sir, take care yourself.”
“Don’t worry.” I laughed, “I’m not gonna die quickly.”
As I watched the last regiment leave, we started burning the camp.
The entire camp was set on fire. The smoke that raised could be seen dozens of miles away. This was enough to draw Guildford’s vanguards’ attention. If I take this enemy troop down, Guildford will be forced to slow down.
My four IGT corps have been waiting in burrows 3 miles from the burning camp. We were waiting for Guildford’s vanguards.
As the camp was built entirely by wood, it kept burning for the entire afternoon. As the big fire extinguished, Guildford’s vanguards appeared.
After the initial contact, they ran cautiously into the camp and checked every corner.
Soon afterward, they drew their conclusion and sent a few fast horses to tell Guildford that we’ve fled.
I gazed upon these enemy vanguards and anticipated their next move. Moments later, they started mobilizing, and the entire troop was approaching us.
As they were a mile and a half from us, our marksmen fired their arrows! In the meantime, a team of wingmen lifted to intercept the messengers’ horses.
A dense rain of arrows traveled in the sky. They formed a huge and fuzzy and black coating and shrouded the enemies. According to my judgment, the first few rounds of fusillade should put down most of the enemies.
But I was wrong this time!
Beyond my expectation, the enemies reacted so fast that their front soldiers yelled to warn then instantly raised their large shields. Immediately after that, several various-colored magic screen started to take form!
In a blink of an eye, the arrows have impacted the enemies.
Although they were protected by shields, the tri-edged arrowheads’ lethality brought severe damage to them. Among the uproars, their front saw a huge amount of soldiers fell.
As my marksmen were preparing to send away their second wave of arrows, there came a sound of violent shout from the enemy crowd! Then their soldiers followed quickly while shouting! Moments later, about 300 enemy warriors with colorful costumes outran the rest soldiers and rushed in front of us.
Though the Asmodian people always do things with their free style, there was no need for their soldiers to dress in such eye-catching and exaggerated clothes? Could it be those red-clothes warriors were special? Judging by their astonishing speed, I confirmed my thought.
“Watch out!” I roared, “Elf marksmen take targets at the red warriors! Mages prepare to support melee combat. Front soldiers prepare to fight!”
Once I shouted out the order, the soldiers quickly came out of their hiding burrows and formed in the standard line. My pikemen squatted on the ground while the mages were blessing them with enchantments. The elf marksmen have lowered their war bows, their targets were none other than those red warriors.
In such a tense moment, the elves’ movements were still steady. They drew their bows as usual, relaxed their muscles as usual. But I knew, such acts meant they were extremely focused!
The arrows were away even before the TWANGs came.
As my elf marksmen were doing a good job, the red warriors dodged even better!
Some of them bounced high in the air while spun to dodge the arrows that came, while some lowered their bodies close to the ground and slid rapidly, the rest stood still then made silver circles with their weapons to deflect the incoming arrows.
After the second round of arrows, only about 30 red warriors were killed. These monsters’ speed was bizarrely fast! We could only shot another 2 rounds before they reached us.
“Archers, shoot at will! Pikemen advance! Axemen, support! Mages, release your enchantments and start to defend!” I yelled to adjust the deployment, “Rear rows, extend your blade handles! We’re not letting those red ones break through!”
The front row officer lowered his saber, “MAR-CH!”
“MARCH! MARCH! MARCH!” The pikemen stood up and thrust their spears! Mages blessed them with melee buffs. As the buffs glared like a rainbow that pushed to the enemies, sounds of bowstrings loosing echoed again. The third round of arrow was sent and flew over the pikemen’s head towards the enemies.
More than 100 elf marksmen have floated. Since their last attack resulted badly on the red warriors. Their faces turned grim. This time, their arrows were glittering various colors, they’ve blessed their arrows! Almost instantly, a flash of light saw the arrows away with incredible speed!
The red warriors dodged with their usual methods. Only this time, they’ve underestimated my elves!
Some of them were pierced through the hearts before they could even bounce; as for those who slid close to the ground, they were frozen instantly by the spells chanted on the arrows; those who intended to knock away the arrows, they winded up in pieces made by the magic on the arrows.
After this round of arrows, more than a hundred red warriors went down. I couldn’t help myself but shout, “GREAT!”
The rest of the hundred red warriors silently rushed to my pikemen. I could finally see their weapons: a pair of long snow-white sabers!
“KILL!” The first soldiers thrust their spears hard!
Around half of the red warriors jumped high then swirled and landed behind the pikemen! Those who did not jump utilized their sabers and blocked the spears!
“FUCK! They’re monsters!” Astonished as I was, I yelled, “Pikemen hold up. Rear soldiers, slaughter them!”
If I hadn’t seen it myself, I would refuse to believe that nearly 100 enemy soldiers would bring me so many casualties!
The red warriors who landed behind the pikemen spun like a tornado that pressed upon the soldiers. After, most of the pikemen were killed before they could turn.
The red warriors who did not jump took advantage of the pikemen’s low flexibility. They quickly dashed near the soldiers and swung their long sabres. Once they attacked, they either dodged or moved back. They left no chance for my men to strike back!
With each swing of their blades, one of my men fell. The cold light on their blades never missed!
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