“Someone… someone stop those knights!”
“What are our knights doing? Slay that knight leading at the front!”
Jerome’s extraordinary destructiveness attracted the attention of the Northern troops in an instant. Their knights hurriedly galloped in his direction to impede him.
“Reveal your identity!”
One knight bellowed as he valiantly thundered towards Jerome. Jerome replied proudly.
“I am Jerome Taker, Captain of the Knight’s Order of House Forrest!”
“Forrest? An impressive knight, for one serving some country bumpkin I’ve never even heard of. Now, how about you have a taste of my-”
“How dare the likes of you insult my lord?!”
Although Jerome had been abiding by the due formalities, he exploded with a roar and charged at his opponent the moment he insulted Milton.
The other knight was startled by Jerome’s whirlwind of vigor, but braced himself shortly thereafter and faced Jerome with his horse.
“Let’s see what you got!”
Though this knight was in his thirties, he had reached the mid-levels of an Expert. Someone of this caliber in the Lester Kingdom was apt to be called one of the best among the younger knights.
“Know your place, fool!”
His opponent was simply too unfair.
The moment the two’s auras collided with each other, the deafening clashing of their blades rang around them.
This single blow from Jerome sent his opponent reeling backward.
“This is… What kind of monster could…”
The knight looked at Jerome with disbelief. He had been sent flying after a single exchange of blows. His arm was trembling at the tremendous power behind Jerome’s swing, and he felt as if his sword would slip from his hand any second.
In this state, Jerome turned his horse back around and charged again.
The knight shouted with bewilderment, and Jerome shouted back.
Thus came Jerome’s merciless second swing…
Another thunderous clang rang out, but this time it was not followed by the painful grunt of his adversary. Had he clenched his teeth to stop a sound escaping as a matter of pride?
He had not.
“What? Sir Darion!”
It was simply that the dead do not speak.
“Sir Darion fell with just two blows?”
“From where did a monster like that…”
With this knight named Darion one-sidedly defeated by Jerome, the other knights of the North were struck with fear and faltered. Darion was one of the strongest knights of the North, and such a man had been overwhelmingly crushed without so much as a chance to put up a proper fight. It was only to be expected that the other Northern knights were intimidated.
Jerome did not miss this window to carry on leading the Forrest knights in their charge.
“Follow my lead! Our objective is the man behind the rebels, Byron the Second Prince!”
With Jerome at the center, the knight’s order unhesitatingly charged through the rebel lines.
“Your Highness, the unidentified legion of troops is claimed to be an army led by Count Forrest of the South.”
In this suddenly pressing situation, the news that the messenger brought only made the Second Prince grind his teeth.
“Count Forrest of the South? Damn it! I’ve never even heard of this bastard – and he just suddenly comes out of nowhere?”
The Second Prince, too, had heard that the Southern region would not participate in this war. He had not paid them much heed past this information. After all, the South in its entirety gave off a strong image of being rather underdeveloped, so he believed it would not make much of a difference whether these small fish became involved or not.
But he did not think that the Southern militaries would suddenly intrude after all this time.
What was even more outside his projection was…
“What on the damned earth is this? I demand to know why we are being beaten so lopsidedly.”
The Southern forces were much stronger than the prince had taken them for. The momentum seized by their initial ambush on the rear was a substantial factor, but what was just as significant was the headway that the enemy knights were making afterward with their fearsome destructive power. The Second Prince’s troops could not respond in kind as the enemy continued to attack, burrowing straight into their center.
Marquis Marius was the first to get his bearings.
“Your Highness, the knights of the enemy appear to be stronger than we believed. Your personal guard must be dispatched to deal with them immediately.”
“Agh… very well. The royal guard is to follow Marquis Marius’ commands at once. Stop the enemy’s Knight’s Order!”
“Yes, Your Highness!”
The Second Prince had selected the strongest knights of the North as his personal bodyguards to protect himself. Although he would not have consented to them leaving his immediate side in any ordinary circumstances, he did not have a choice at present.
Marquis Marius issued his commands.
“Surround the enemy knights! Footmen ready your spears, and archers pour down fire! Make them regret waltzing in so deep!”
Following his command, the rebel army immediately began surrounding Jerome and the knight’s order who were deep in their lines.
“My lord, the enemy is attempting to surround Sir Taker and the knights.”
Milton promptly asked the messenger for more information.
“What’s the situation?”
“The encirclement is almost complete. It seems that it would be difficult for them to withdraw with their own strength as they have penetrated too deeply.”
“It appears he followed my orders to a fault.”
Milton’s order to charge did not mean for Jerome to enter so deep into enemy lines.
To Milton, Jerome was the epitome of a lionheart. Although he usually gave off an air of gentleness and thoughtfulness, he was a lionheart on the battlefield who would gladly charge into hell if Milton so ordered him to. This encirclement would not be enough to stop Jerome.
However, the detachment of knights that followed Jerome into combat could incur some losses. And so…
“I cannot leave them be as they form their encirclement. Trike!”
“Yes, my lord.”
Trike quickly answered, having been on standby next to Milton.
“I shall enter. Make an opening for me.”
Trike ordered his own officers.
“Let’s go! Lads, we enter our first battle!”
Behind Trike followed a unit of horsemen. However, these were no ordinary cavalry.
The sound of tumbling wheels revealed the identity of this unit: it was a chariot unit, a rare sight in this world. Chariots had always been a peculiar archetype. They were faster than infantry but slower than cavalry; and while their destructive power in charges was something to behold, they could not change directions easily and were therefore unable to react flexibly to situational changes.
But Milton had his own reasons for recommending chariots to Trike.
“Sir knight, a chariot unit has appeared in the distance.”
“A what unit?”
The knight was slightly taken aback by this unusual news – but sure enough, he could see a chariot unit where the soldier was pointing towards.
“Damn, chariots? There’s no end to the anachronisms of these Southern hillbillies.”
He immediately issued orders to his troops.
“Chariots have entered the battle. Pikemen, have your pikes at the ready.”
The infantry used long spears to impede the charge of mounted troops. No units capitalized on this interaction as much as pikemen. When they raised their pikes in the direction of the cavalry that was closing in, the damage would be reflected to the cavalry as much as the momentum of their charge.
“On the ready!”
The knight kept his pikemen on standby, waiting for the perfect moment to raise the pikes.
“What’s this? Why are they not coming?”
The enemy’s chariot unit was not advancing in their direction, but peculiarly circumnavigating them.
The knight could not initially understand what they were trying to achieve, but it was soon made clear to him.
At Trike’s command, the archers aboard the chariots let their arrows fly high into the sky.
Shuk shuk shuk! Shuk shuk!
“AARGH!! My eye!!”
This particular chariot unit was not meant for charges. They were chariot archers, carrying bowmen who fired volley after volley from the rear.
The shower of arrows pouring down on the infantry, who had been anticipating a charge with the pikemen at the forefront, was the very definition of a catastrophe.
“SHIELDS!! Raise the shields!!”
Suffering massive losses, the knight hastily commanded his troops to raise their shields – but his men had already fallen into such a panic that their commander’s voice did not reach them.
“You fools! Raise your shields and protect your hea- kuh!”
Soon enough, the knight who was roaring commands was impaled in the neck by a well-aimed arrow. And it did not end there.
Another choked on his own blood.
The knights who were urging on their troops as the arrows pouring upon them were felled one by one. Knights were meant to be soldiers that charged into enemy fire without hesitation. The plate mail they were wearing was also designed to best protect them against arrows. However, the knights that were being felled at this moment were a different story. The arrows were striking vital points where there remained gaps in the plate mail, such as the face or neck. It went without saying that all these knights were Trike’s works of art.
Having eliminated six knights, Trike commented as he drew his bow once more.
“This is comfy, that’s for sure. Is this what the lord meant when he said to hide trees in a forest?”
Trike had always thought that his role on the battlefield was that of a sniper. In this day and age where the concept of sniping itself did not exist, he still understood that his role was to fire singular arrows that would make the enemy’s nucleus fall apart. He knew that if he did so, he could make a large impact on the outlook of a battle with even one arrow.
Milton arranged for a type of unit that would aid him in this role. Whilst the other archers on the chariots were ordered to fire at the enemy, Trike would blend in amongst them and eliminate the enemy commanders. When Trike first heard this proposal from Milton, he had his doubts whether it would pan out as intended. However, he found it almost fascinating how easy this was now that they were in action. With his arrow mixed in with the others, the knights could not at all discern that they were being aimed at and block appropriately. Normally for every three arrows he fired, one of them would be deflected by the occasional man with good sense, but now…
All six arrows found their mark on six knights.
“Now, this is what I call one shot, one kill.”
Trike’s lips crept into a smile as he scanned the enemy lines. He could not find any more knights that were commanding the troops in his field of vision. In essence, the enemies before him were now nothing more than common soldiers with no commanders, broken with fear and fallen into a panic from the arrow volleys.
“Is this where my role ends? Send the signal.”
The soldier next to Trike whipped out a whistle and blew it three long times.
Tweeet! Tweeet! Tweeet!
With that signal…
“Rick, Tommy, do not fall behind.”
“Yes, my lord!”
Milton entered battle with the remaining knights and soldiers.
Milton joined the fray, personally leading his troops into an enemy formation that had become a disorganized mess due to Trike and his unit of chariot archers.
“Stop… Someone stop them- urk!”
With Trike having sniped all the onsite commanders, the soldiers could not muster up an adequate response. The enemy troops eventually became more occupied with avoiding rather than facing them, and Milton relentlessly pushed through from the forefront as he cut the enemy’s formation into half.
“Follow Count Forrest!”
“Let us drive out the treasonous rebels!”
The troops’ morale surged forth with their commander Milton courageously playing an active part on the frontlines. This morale was soon converted into their own valor, and they bravely fought as they displayed strength beyond their usual capabilities. The rebel troops were overwhelmed by this force of will.
Jerome, who was still fighting all over the place from the inside of the encirclement, did not stay still either.
“All knights, we shall turn our attention to the right.”
As if answering Milton’s call, Jerome and the knights began attacking in Milton’s direction at once.
With their commanders decimated, the soldiers assigned with this part of the surround formation could not possibly withstand an attack from two sides.
“Commander! Please, give us direc- GAH!”
Ultimately, the entire right side of the rebel troops that the Second Prince was accompanying collapsed.
In essence, the rebel detachment’s strength had been halved.