“Event: Defense of Harcourt.”
Harcourt, the largest city in the southern parts of the Grann Flamm Kingdom, was the branching point from which the royal highway extended to various other places in the region. That geographical advantage made it into the largest commercial hub of the south.
The goods produced in the area, and in the neighboring countries, would always naturally flow toward Harcourt and only from here would they be carried into the core and the other regions of the kingdom. The reverse was also true. The goods market at Camargue could not even be compared to this place.
Right now, Harcourt was giving off a military-like ambiance unthinkable in a place with this kind of reputation as a trading district. It was all due to the sudden appearance of an army – three thousand of the kingdom’s knights. At the same time as those troops arrived, the city was informed of an incoming demon raid throwing it into mayhem. Due to its location, somewhat removed from the national border, the settlement had been developed as a purely commercial city and it was not prepared for a siege. It was, in consequence, natural for citizens to get anxious.
Only once the fact, that the Crown Prince himself had arrived to take part in the conflict, came to light, did the people regain their peace of mind. Not because they felt reassured by his protection but rather because they did not expect him to be sent to a dangerous battlefield. A reasoning that would raise complex emotions in Arnold were he to hear it.
Nevertheless, the residents of Harcourt followed the orders of the Crown Prince and the local feudal lord locking themselves in their own houses in preparation for the upcoming attack of the demons. The only people moving about the town were the knights of the kingdom and the local levies.
But it wouldn’t take long for that hurried scurrying about to cease. The preparations for repelling the demon raid were finally complete.
The defense of the city was concentrated around its southern gate. This was Maria’s suggestion, based on her knowledge that the demons would approach from that direction.
The whole three thousand strong army of knights was assembled in a line in front of the gate. Two thousand of those were mounted. Outer wall on each side of the gatehouse was manned by local militia armed with bows. The rest of the local levy was standing by behind the gate as reserves.
There seemed to be a certainty that there wouldn’t be any attacks from other directions.
The army headquarters were also set up on the curtain wall. That was the case due to Arnold being stationed with the archers, as it would be easier to use offensive magic from up high.
「…They’re not coming, are they.」
Muttered the Knight Commander while everyone around him was nervous with the raid looming large. He was also participating because Prince Arnold and Maria’s group lacked experience in leading an army to the battlefield, regardless of their combat prowess. He would be the one to command the army while Arnold and the others would be left to attack the demons on their own.
「The scouts say they will be here soon.」
Replied Prince Arnold to the Knight Commander’s remark. However, he misunderstood its subject.
「Ah, no, highness, I was not referring to the demons.」
「…Oh, I understand now.」
It was the Crown Prince who wished the army of Bandeaux to participate in the war. There were other people interested in making that happen as well but Arnold was the one to make the request.
But Rion’s troops were still absent, even at this late moment.
「I wonder if something happened?」
「According to missives, their departure was quite late. Perhaps, that was the reason.」
The Crown Prince had never even considered that his summons might be declined. Had that happened, Bandeaux rulers would have to be punished accordingly. Even Arnold didn’t want to do such a thing.
「Mhm. However, would that guy ever make such a mistake?」
If their absence was caused by just a delayed departure, then, in the end, that would just make them late. Knight Commander didn’t think Rion wouldn’t ever make such a foolish error.
「….We can establish the reason later. For now, let’s just focus on our battle with the dem–」
The rest of Arnold’s words got buried under the shout of a soldier on a lookout duty. It hadn’t been the Bandeaux levies that had arrived, though. A dark shadow had spilled over the plains south of the city. The demons were closing in.
Crown Prince Arnold reflexively called the Knight Commander by his name due to the unbelievable sight before them.
「Fifty, no, eighty thousand… Probably. With such variance in their shapes, it’s rather difficult to get a better estimate.」
Even from a distance, it could be seen that the enemies were not just of one kind. Other variants, large enough to be conspicuous, were mixed in with the horde.
「Maria, what are those?」
「They’re too large for me to determine. However….」
「I never expected so many of them to come.」
「What!? Are things going to be fine!?」
They conducted their preparations fully trusting Maria’s information. But now that the enemy that came was different to what she expected, Arnold became anxious about the battle’s prospects.
「Of course, we can defeat them. However, a little more prudent approach to this battle might be better. And we can just ascertain what kind of demons came while fighting.」
As long as she recognized what kind of demons there were, she would know their weaknesses. And with that, they could just adjust their tactics accordingly. Maria had never for even a moment considered a possibility of defeat.
「Well then, I guess we shall wait, huh?」
This question was aimed the Knight Commander, who in response sent a signal to the troops below to stand by.
Slowly, the silhouettes of the demons became clear. The overwhelming majority of them were Goblins but that was not all that faced them. There were hordes of Orcs further to the back and behind those one could see numerous shapes of demons clearly different from the rest.
「….Ogres? A-Are you kidding me?」
Maria’s voice was betrayed that she was clearly shaken. Once again, the reality proved to be beyond her expectations.
「What is it?」
「…There are demons present that are stronger than I expected here. Ogres, Oni to put it simply.」
People of this world couldn’t possibly know about the existences called Oni.
「Nevermind, what matters is that they’re strong.」
「…Are we still fine?」
Arnold wasn’t a coward, he just feared that if they were to lose, the residents of Harcourt would be the next target.
「Yes. We will just have to weaken them with magic as much as we can. They can’t use spells themselves.」
「I see. So we will have to wait until they come really close.」
Spells too had effective ranges. And those were, in fact, unexpectedly small. Because of that, while knowledge of magic could give an overwhelming advantage in an individual combat, it was not always an asset in a war.
In enough numbers, catapults and ballistae would produce a comparable effect at safer range.
The effective reach of their spells was the reason why Arnold and the others were stationed on the outer walls. Casting spells from a higher vantage point would enable them to attack targets located a little farther than usual.
Thus the prince and his coterie were waiting for the enemy to enter their range. Which did not happen.
The enemy horde stopped advancing.
「….They’re not coming closer at all.」
「Indeed, highness. It’s as if they know the range of our magic.」
「I guess it’s wrong to judge these things by the appearances. What are we going to do now?」
「Wait. If we try to assault like this, we’ll stray off too far from the walls.」
Even the knight commander had no experience battling demons so all of them could only rely on Maria. But the girl’s calculations seemed to be completely off and with being the case, they could only proceed cautiously for now. The army’s highest priority was the protection of the city of Harcourt, therefore the demon’s refusal to attack was not really a problem.
However, there was a reason why the horde didn’t advance, one Arnold and the others failed to think of. After all, they never expected the demons to follow a master-plan.
Rion, having arrived late, became aware of this at once.
At the helm of several hundred of cavalrymen wearing armor in three distinct colors, he headed straight toward the knights stationed in front of the south gate.
「The Bandeaux levy, huh? That’s quite a flashy armor they’ve got there.」
「They do, highness. And thinking about it, that’s fitting. They are divided into four clans and, apparently, they go to war dressed in the colors of their clan.」
The Knight commander was also seeing this for the first time and his explanation was based on what he had heard before.
「Nevertheless, only three hundred, huh?」
Both Frederick and Arnold thought that the number of troops Rion brought here was too low.
「I wonder what are they doing?」
Rion and the officer in charge of a knight squadron seemed to be having a heated exchange. But even though the dispute was obvious, it was not possible to make out what was it all about.
Soon, it became obvious that dispute was going nowhere, so the Crown Prince and his retinue came to the lower section of the walls.
Rion looked up and his eyes met Arnold’s.
「The demons before you are just a diversion! You need to immediately dispatch reinforcements to the nearby villages!」
The prince was at a loss as to how he should respond to the astonishing message in young baron’s words.
「Which village is under attack!?」
Asked the Knight Commander in Arnold’s place.
「I do not know the name! And it’s not just one place! Three villages to the east are in danger as we speak!」
「…How can that be.」
Although, when compared to the population of Harcourt, the number of civilians in danger was small, there still would be casualties. This meant they were outsmarted by the demons and that was a humiliation for the Knight Commander.
「We cannot handle it alone! You need to reinforcements there immediately!」
Once again, Rion appealed for a relief force. However, the army commanders could not answer his plea immediately. There were enough demons facing them here to ruin the city behind them given a chance.
「This cannot be done right now! The demons in front of us must be defeated first!」
Again, Frederick was the one to speak because that was also something that had to be answered and Arnold kept being silent
「Then hurry up and attack at once! How can you even defeat those demons by just standing there!?」
All this was enough to make Rion snap, there was no longer any respect in his voice.
「We’re waiting for them to come closer! Our magic won’t reach them at this range!」
「What!? Is that all there is to the comrades of the hero from legends? If you can’t reach as is, then make it possible!」
「Mind your words, fool!」
The Knight Commander had snapped too by this point. Incidentally, he also thought that if he didn’t yell, the morale of people that could hear Rion would be affected.
「Ah, enough already! That guy can stay mum if he wants! And you just shut it and watch!」
Rion clearly demonstrated that he would not put up with being shouted at and that he considered further talk pointless. With this, he departed from under the outer walls.
「What are you trying to do?」
Rather than getting even angrier, the Knight Commander and everyone else in the area became increasingly curious about Rion’s aims.
And young Frey simply started to advance toward the demons on horseback. He was soon joined by Ariel. And, after a short pause, all the clansmen fell in behind the couple.
It was pretty obvious what he was trying to do at this point. But the people watching still couldn’t believe it. The army of Bandeaux consisted just of three hundred riders. And they were about to pick a fight with a horde of demons tens of thousands strong.
The clansmen were afraid as well. But the horses of Rion and Ariel kept advancing and, afraid or not, they had no choice but to follow suit.
Soon the distance between Rion’s army and the demons shortened considerably and two birds appeared over the heads of the clansmen.
「….A firebird, the phoenix!?」
At first, Arnold initially thought that it was the highest grade spell that was passed down within the royal family but almost immediately he rejected that idea.
「I’ve never heard about a wind spell like that.」
There were two birds, one was made of fire and the other was made of wind. They had been summoned by Ariel’s and Rion’s magic. Flying faster than the horses they eventually merged into a single infernal whirlwind aimed straight at the monsters.
And just as the observing people started to think multiple demons would be engulfed, the spell exploded. Numerous demons were sent soaring through the sky, blown away by the blast.
A wide gap opened in one part of the demon ranks. Rion charged into it without hesitation. The Bandeaux riders followed suit.
Only one of their number remained behind. It was Ariel, alone, both her hands raised high into the air.
A light had formed on her arms, slowly growing in intensity until it turned into a huge incandescent ball. She swung both of her hands forward launching the spell that changed from the huge ball of light into a tornado that harmlessly passed through Rion and his soldiers before assaulting their enemies.
Many more demons were swallowed by this tornado and blown away. And as the whirlwind was advancing forward, Rion, hot on its heels was penetrating even deeper into the horde. Numerous flashes of red and blue light could be seen flashing around him.
In considerable shock due to this turn of events, Arnold’s group and the royal army were watching stupefied. In a way, this had a greater impact than the first appearance of the demon hordes.
However, this was just the start. The battle had just begun and Ariel had no intention of letting the knights just watch the show.
「Knights of the kingdom!」
Moving away from the front lines she addressed the formation of knights arrayed in front of the wall. Her clear voice echoing through the plains.
「What does the crest on your chests stand for?」
Each knight had a crest etched on his breastplate. It was supposed to be a symbol of their loyalty and courage
「For what purpose do you draw your swords?」
They understood what she was trying to tell.
「Who are those shields meant to protect?」
Our shields will protect the kingdom and those who dwell within its borders. Anyone belonging to the knighthood would know this oath.
「And yet you are standing there idle?! Even though there are enemies in front of you and so many people that need protecting behind them?!」
Her words resonated strongly in the hearts of the knights and soldiers. A strong flame ignited in their souls as they rejected her implicit accusation – they did not fear the demons, they were just following orders.
「Knights and Soldiers of the army! This is your time! Show us your strength, your courage, your valor! Please! Please, lend us your power!」
With those words still loud in the air, Ariel turned back her horse and advanced towards the demons again. Looking over the shoulder at the army behind her she raised her arm into the air again.
「Please! Follow me!」
The war cry of the kingdom’s warriors reached the heavens. Carried by its power, Ariel led them toward the fight.
「Split the army in half! The first half is to follow me, the other is to go with commander Frederick!」
Those orders came from the Crown Prince. Arnold had descended from the walls and managed to line up next to Ariel at this point.
「One would think it would be reckless to have you charge in. Leave the rest to me.」
「….Is that really fine, highness?」
「It may be uncertain how we match up in magic but I’m still your better when it comes to horse and sword.」
「…In that case, I’ll leave it to you, highness.」
「Yeah. That will be for the best.」
「Form a flying column! Pry open that gap made by the Bandeaux cavalry!」
The Knight Commander, who followed the Crown Prince down the walls, was already giving orders to the cavalry attached to him. He charged towards the monster horde without hesitation. Crown Prince Arnold was following right after him.
Meanwhile, in the thick of the fighting.
「Apollo! Give us more space!」
「…I’m trying! I’m trying but there’s too many!」
「Mohit! Go help him! Attack from both sides! At this rate, we won’t be able to advance further!」
「I am! But!」
Although the clansmen managed to open a gap and penetrate the horde, due to the number of demons their charge started to lose momentum.
「Force the breach bigger, just for a moment! Cassius! Wheel around, we’re going forward again!」
「Both flanks! Wider!」
「Orrryaaah!」 「Push! Force them back!」
The yellow and green clans were trying to force back the demons attacking from left and right. To make the best use of the gap that created, Rion and the clan Red withdrew for a moment in order to gain few extra yards and charge harder.
「Keep going! Stay your course! Charge!」
Rion shouted orders while advancing ahead and crushing demons before him. His enemies were set ablaze, decapitated or deprived of their limbs, that scene was so intense that even the clansmen, proud of their military, were shivering.
「You’re in the way! Moooove!」
What Rion was aiming for was at the very center of the demon horde – an existence giving off a strong magical pressure. He thought that was the being controlling the demons.
And his enemy’s desperate attempts to stand in his way only reinforced his suspicions. Regardless of whether they were being controlled or not, they were certainly protecting something there.
Rion suddenly felt that the pressure of the demons had lessened slightly. Searching for the cause he spotted an enemy that turned its back on him trying to face a new enemy.
「…As expected, that old man really is a monster.」
That new threat to the demons was the knight commander. Rion could tell even though the old man was wearing a great helm. Even in a situation like this, the man’s strength was amazing. He might have had mounted knights at his back but he still reached this far by the strength of his blade only, without using any magic.
「Hmm, I guess right now that’s a huge help. Time to work harder as well.」
Disturbed by the Knight Commander’s charge the demons were distracted and not focusing on the clansmen. This chance couldn’t be allowed to slip by.
「Cassius! Apollo! Mohit! Are your skills inferior to that old man!? Is this all there is to the Bandeaux’s best!?」
An obvious provocation. However, there was someone bound to respond and, indeed, Apollo swallowed the bait whole.
「Like hell I’m inferior to that old guy! I have just finished warming up!」
And with that, Apollo, his yell still reverberating in the air, started working harder than before slaughtering enemies wantonly. Cassius and Mohit were fully aware of the provocation but seeing this they had no choice but join. After all, Apollo was someone neither of them wanted to lose to.
That spurred on the rest of the clansmen and they advanced deeper again.
And then, another current was born in the whirlpool of battle. That was the Crown Prince Arnold and his troops joining the fray, although a little late.
Facing pressure from three sides, the demons were clearly showing signs of unease. Even the being controlling them seemed shaken.
「Brat! Where is our goal!? What is this charge aiming for!?」
The knight commander yelled a question. Even he was starting to find this tough.
「The objective… The objective was fulfilled! Endure a little longer!」
「What are you…?!」
「The flag was raised! The leader of the horde is dead!」
At the rear of the horde a blue flag could be seen. While it might have been unknown to knight commander this banner was the war standard of Clan Blue.
This was one of the signals that Rion and Kiel had decided on beforehand while figuring out the strategy. Rion’s group was to break through the front and penetrate as deep as possible. If they were to be able to take down the leader then the battle would be concluded with that. But in the circumstances where they failed to do that, the hundred riders of Clan Blue were to take a detour and hit the enemies from the back to slay the one controlling the demons while the horde was preoccupied.
Since the controller of the demons might have been an exceptionally strong being, Rion considered this a drastic solution and hoped not to have to use it.
He expected that with Maria, her harem and the Knight Commander present, the army would be able to slaughter the demons easily. He considered this plan viable exactly because he knew that it was a game.
The end result of him not pulling his punches, despite knowing the scenario, was scattering of the demon horde with the enemies desperately trying to escape.
But the kingdom army had no time for pursuit. The highest priority right now was reinforcing the outlying villages that were under attack.
With this, the event concluded. However, its consequences would be much more complicated than in the game’s scenario.
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