Eunius straddled his horse, commanding the private army he brought with him to face off with the army of General Bahn.
On this chaotic battlefield, both sides had their command in relative order. Albeit, only relative to the rest. The reason they couldn’t pay undo mind to keeping formation lay in the black giant nearby—the gora recklessly thrashing around.
Eunius took a glance in its direction.
“I’d like to end this while Aleist is keeping it busy; then I can go help him out.”
Even if the sky was beyond him, he could help as long as it was on land. But regardless of what wanted to do, the matter wouldn’t be settled so easily.
Bahn Rhoshwas—a general who had worked his way up, a seasoned veteran of the empire, and a strong opponent in land battles. While he didn’t stand out due to the existence of the dragoons, Eunius’ father had held a close fight with him more than a few times.
The dragoons would come out before the victor could be decided, so there was no score to keep. Which side was stronger? Both countries likewise regarded the question as wholly inconsequential.
Yet on a battlefield where they couldn’t borrow the dragoons’ aid, it would hold a large meaning. The quality of troops at Eunius’ home the Diade House was high.
But the opponent was a prominent force of the empire.
Eunius licked his lips.
“Go at it making light of them, and we’ll be devoured.”
He said, pulling his sword as he looked at the faces of his enemy—the faces of elite soldiers.
“Run them down!”
The numbers were even, or perhaps the other side had a slight advantage. The empire had supplemented a majority of their forces with monsters. For that sake, the numbers of humans were lower than expected.
The soldiers Eunius led wrung out their voices, gripped their weapons and collided with enemy forces.
The frontmost soldiers clashed, filling the air with the sounds of clanging metal and shouts.
With both sides accustomed to battle, slight casualties didn’t fluster them in the slightest.
But perhaps the opponent’s side was short on time, they came out with hard offensive measures.
A large-build man on a horse grandly brandished his battle axe, butchering soldiers on Eunius’ side.
Swinging around a large axe that- at a glance- made clear the strength of his arms, he made a straight line towards Eunius.
The official to Eunius’ side cried out.
“Young master! He plans to take you out and pierce straight through our army.”
Eunius gave a small laugh.
“Is he mocking me? Or is he out of time… looks like both!”
Kicking his horse’s stomach, he had his allies ahead of him stand back as he raced towards the unit led by General Bahn.
Upon seeing that, Bahn performed a wide swing with his axe to cut Eunius down; but Eunius caught the blow with his greatsword. The horses both rode had stopped in their tracks, their hooves sinking into the earth
Once a conspicuously large metallic sound had chimed across the battlefield, both enemy and ally had begun taking distance from the two.
General Bahn glared at Eunius.
“Youngling, are you related to Diade?”
Eunius held up his greatsword in one hand, directing its tip towards the general.
“The eldest son. You’re Bahn Rhoshwas, right? I’ve heard about you. Heard there was some bloke my old man couldn’t take out.”
As General Bahn clenched the hilt of his battle axe, it let off a grinding, grating noise. His muscles swelled and raised a sound.
“Oh quit it. You’re just another coward protected by the dragon, I’d usually say. But if your Diade’s brat, that changes things up a bit. You lot are just about the only ones to hold back my army’s charge.”
Each side holding high their weapon of choice, what followed was a simple clash of steel.
“But youngling… now you’re in the way. I’ll send your old man down afterward. Go wait for him in hell.”
Olding his sword horizontally to block the strike from on high, Eunius grit his teeth.
(What weight. This guy really is strong.)
Eunius felt his own horse’s shaking legs and tried to ward the blow aside, yet his attempt had General Bahn forcefully blow him off of his horse.
“Protect the young master!”
The knight who went out front was promptly cut down.
Eunius rolled across the ground before immediately standing and shouting out.
“Don’t get in the way! I’ll take him down.”
Looking down on Eunius from horseback, Bahn scoffed at those words.
“You look halfway competent, but you’ll stand before me with that level of skill? Your head’s in the clouds.”
But Eunius had properly measured out his opponent’s abilities.
“That so? But I got it with that one. I’d love to have fought you in your heyday, old man.”
It was a provocation, that the aged Bahn was lacking.
“… Youngling, I’ll praise your tongue if nothing else!”
General Bahn galloped his horse, lifting his axe, charging at Eunius to slice him in twain. Eunius lowered his hips and watched his movements.
(You’re definitely strong, old man. But you know… I’m even stronger. And I know people far stronger than me!)
As he watched his foe’s movements, Eunius was overcome by a sensation as if time was passing by in slow motion. He concentrated, and matching General Bahn’s motions, he swung his great sword.
The sword was clad in light, and as that light grew stronger, he finished his cut before the general was within sword range.
“You fool. You grew impatien—nngh!!”
General Bahn spat up blood. Holding his mouth, he fell from his horses back; his axe pierced into the ground as he fell to his knees.
A single large wound across his chest.
Eunius’ magic sword has inflicted a blow on him. Seeing that, Bahn siped his mouth, stood, and took a stance with his axe.
“Hey now, I felt quite some resistance.”
While Eunius felt resistance on his blade, it did seem General Bahn was far tougher than he’d anticipated. The general laughed.
“Gahahahah! Youngling, I’ve been fighting form before you were born. Like hell it’d be so easy to off me. But… I’ll admit you’re not all talk.”
While his subordinates gathered around him, Bahn had them step down.
“… No complaints, having you as my last foe. No, guess you wouldn’t want this old man. I’d have loved to have fought you ten. Nay, twenty years earlier.”
“Don’t be stupid. You’d cross axe with rattle?”
The two laughed, their looks gradually shifting to serious as the surrounding air tense up. Around them, ally and enemy fought, yet their minds were taken by the duel.
And the two stepped in and passed by.
It happened in an instant.
A large cut opened up on Eunius’ arm, leaking some blood.
But General Bahn collapsed right on the spot.
The ground flowed with a heavy torrent of red.
“… Youngling. Your name?”
“Eunius. It’s Eunius Diade.”
“I see. A good name. I’ll be waiting in hell. Until our net match…”
When General Bahn used up the last of his strength, the surrounding imperial soldiers lowered their weapons one after the next. Eunius saw that and shouted out.
“Don’t kill those who’ve surrendered. Spread the word… Bahn Rhoshwas has fallen to Eunius Diade! Cease your resistance!”
His subordinate raced over.
“Young master! The sky!”
Looking in the direction he pointed, the gora had vanished, lacing a scene of black smoke rising up onto the sky.
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this… Rudel, just end this already.”
Luecke’s army marched in close formation.
Vargas barked from nearby.
“Maintain formation! Don’t disperse under any circumstances!”
Knights toting shields engraved with magic circles stood at predetermined positions hoisting up their shields Upon confirming that, Luecke used his magic.
A pale green flame broke out around, his army, dispersing the lightning that rained down from above. An intense explosive sound rose as the earth was gouged out.
“We’re lucky the ground was damp. Otherwise, the dust cloud would be terrible.”
Vargas cried out at Luecke’s words.
“Not that it matters, young master! Do something about this. At this rate, the magic will keep coming down, and we won’t get any closer.”
The enemy was stationed on a low hill, having prepared a circle there, and was firing off magic from it. That alone wasn’t a problem, but the magic output was way too high.
If they took on a single blow, it would be enough to inflict serious damage unto the entirety of Luecke’s forces.
He managed to elude those attacks, utilizing the shields to cast large-scale spellcrafts.
Luecke toughed his hand to his chin.
“But how curious. With that setup I can make out from a distance, they should have a higher output. That’s what I’ve been preparing for with each defensive measure but… is it not yet complete? Still preparing?”
As one who used magic, he held a genuine curiosity. This was despite Vargas’ pleas.
“You can think about it later, but just do something now. If it gets complete, we’re all in danger!”
Luecke felt somewhat let down.
(If this had nothing to do with Rudel and the others, and our motherland wasn’t in peril, I wouldn’t mind waiting for them to complete it… more so, I should invade after insuring it’s complete to thoroughly investigate their circle. No, there’s no such time… what a waste. If Lena weren’t here, I’d watch a while longer.)
While he looked the type to prioritize his own interest, at the same time, he was also considering his means of attack.
“… Vargas. The enemy is clearly making light of us. Otherwise, they can only launch incomplete attacks because their magic circle isn’t fully prepared. I’d rather it not be number one. That would mean with all that careful preparation, they can only fire magic on this paltry level.”
Vargas leaked a sigh. Even in that instant, lightning rained down from the sky to be blocked by Luecke’s magic.
“You wouldn’t believe how thankful I’d be if they were just putting on a show.”
Luecke ignored him and explained.
“Their strength is either equal to, or slightly greater than our magic formation for a simple shield. In that case, it’s simple. We will maintain this formation and charge towards the enemy.”
Hearing that, Vargas opened his mouth.
“Charge, I said. Charge.”
Those around couldn’t conceal their hesitation either. They couldn’t think the heir to the Halbades House actually voiced a word like charge. No, they would indeed charge from time to time.
But that was after they had done something about the opponent, and they wouldn’t charge to force through enemy lines like the Diade House.
“… How do you figure?”
With Vargas acting as a representative of surrounding opinion, Luecke spat a sigh.
“Fool. We need only move while keeping the shield up. If our opponent changes the attribute of their magic, we’ll immediately adapt. You’ve all been trained to do so. Simple, right?”
Vargas’ eyes turned teary.
“I’ve said it before, but you know… aren’t you in the wrong family!? Young master, I thought you were kinda… a bit more apt to using your brain!”
“Vargas… don’t think I’m a muscle head like Rudel and the others. I’m an intellectual. All I’m saying is that this is the optimum means of victory. I’ll admit, it vexes me I can’t win over our foe with magic.”
He chose a charge for victory, there wasn’t any particular impatience in Luecke’s eyes. Knowing he didn’t thoughtlessly choose a reckless assault on his first campaign, Vargas didn’t rebut him anymore.
“Alright, you’ve all got to properly fulfill your own roles. We’ll be swiftly changing formation on the move. Everyone’s coordination will be the key.”
Vargas cried out yet again.
“Change formation in transit!? This isn’t any ordinary formation, young master! The spells are reproduced by the positioning of the shield knights, and asking them to—”
Luecke shook his head, placing a hand on Vargas’ shoulder.
“Do it. That is an order, Vargas.”
When he was so kindly informed with a smile, “Yes” was all that was left to say.
And the Halbades House’s moving army spread about a bit from its close-knit formation.
Luecke began his move to the center.
As they would have to make delicate adjustments to their positioning, while Luecke rode a horse, the shield knights had to dismount theirs and go on foot.
The march began once Luecke was in place.
This time, a mountainous load of large fireballs was fired off from the enemy camp. While they were many in numbers, they also had a speed, and it was in a rain of fire that Luecke’s men were to move.
“Change formation. Water.”
Abiding by his orders, the shield knights hastily moved and took their places as a pale blue light enveloped their surroundings.
The flames that collided directly went out. The places on the ground set ablaze by those that missed faded away as soon as they touched against the pale light.
Luecke watched for his foe’s reaction.
(Now then, what’s their verdict on our approach… here it comes. )
The soldiers- presumably guards- on standby took up their weapons, and started on their way towards him. As the imperial soldiers approached, Vargas and the others drew their weapons at the ready.
But the enemy troops were few in numbers.
While the magic from the enemy camp had stopped for a moment, the problem was that they were preparing for another round.
“Vargas, the shield knights shall prioritize maintaining formation. Everyone else, protect the shield knights.”
Drawing his sabre from its sheath, Luecke began commanding his troops.
“It’s supposed to be the other way around! We were brought up to protect you and our allies!”
Luecke shot back.
“Shut it! Just do it! If you guys misstep, we won’t be able to block enemy fire!”
As soon as he had said that, the enemy camp was at it again.
As Luecke ordered the shield knights to change formation, the others provided support. The imperial soldiers were few in numbers, and while they fought desperately, they were taken down one after the next.
(They don’t mind firing on allies, eh. Can’t say I respect that. But it’ll pick up the pace.)
“Here it comes!”
The enemy soldiers outside the formation were swept up into a tornado and blown into the air. Upon seeing that, many soldiers gave up their resistance.
Cast down your weapons and surrender. We are increasing our speed to the enemy camp.
Vargas posed Luecke the question.
“Will the enemy wait for us? Shouldn’t they already by—”
But Luecke firmly declared.
“They’ll be there. They can’t move. They’re too fixated on their magic after all.”
And with those words, the Halbades House army continued its advance.
What they came upon once they were right at the camp were the magicians who had still remained on the site.
In chaos, abandoned by their guard knights and soldiers and left behind.
In the center of the magic circle, a single unhealthy-looking man in a robe raised his voice. His ear perked at the chipped and uncanny voice, Luecke urged on his horse.
“Y-you utter fools! Don’t let those brutes into the circle! Don’t step there! What do you take this artistic magic circle for—”
Luecke looked down on the screaming man—Leor.
“It certainly is a work of art. This deployment, and the sheer beauty of the sigils… I’m sure no ordinary man c ould even imagine it.”
To Luecke’s words, Leur knew he had found a kindred spirit. His expression brightened right up.
“Y-you can tell? I never thought I’d find someone in Courtois who could understand this—”
Luecke’s sabre stuck into Leor’s chest. Witnessing such a scene, the magicians—Leor’s assistants raised screams. Those assistants were quickly apprehended and restrained.
Luecke pulled out his sabre.
“W-why? If you let me live, the secrets of this magic circle could be…”
A portion of the circle was incomplete.
To add to that, there were spots he had erased because the enemy had come.
“You’re right. It really is a pity… but even so, I am a noble, and a knight of Courtois. I have to see beyond the magic. And someday, I’ll unravel the secrets of this circle, just you wait.”
Hearing Luecke’s words filled with confidence, a slight smile crossed Leor’s face.
“That’s impossible. The likes of you… I am a genius…”
Confirming Leor had breathed his last breath, Luecke issued orders to Vargas.
“Vargas, have those with the knowhow accurately copy down the magic circle. The positioning of all the ceremonial equipment as well. Record it all, copy it all, preserve everything important and—”
But before he could finish, Luecke looked at the sky.
In his eyes was a scene of black smoke rising to the sky.
Luecke narrowed his eyes.
To Vargas’ worried voice, Luecke shook his head.
“Vargas, lead all troops. We’re moving.”
“Are you sure? Isn’t this magic supposed to be amazing?”
Luecke immediately mounted his horse and started off.
“I’ve got something more important to attend to.”
Luecke looked at the sky and muttered.
“Rudel, I can’t really lend a hand if he’s so high up.”
There, Vargas spoke.
“It’d be a whole lot easier if we could attack the sky with this thing.”
Luecke immediately took a look at the circle. It was around sixty percent complete. While a portion had been erased, from what he could see, at the very least, those portions could be reused.
He jumped down from his horse.
“… Well said. Gather up all the shield knights at once. We’re putting this to good use.”