Chapter 44: Defensive Battle At Fort Jugfena (Part 2)
Just like the neighboring countries, Arxia uses a conscription system to recruit soldiers, so most soldiers would originally be farmers that had only used hoes and plows up to now. In truth, the Kaldia army is mostly agricultural as well, as even the enlisted soldiers will have one month off each year to go back to their hometown and help with farming or the harvest, and they’re also the ones in charge of growing wheat on the land under direct control.
That’s why, it’s not considered unusual for more than half of my soldiers to have never experienced actual battle.
I shook my head a little to dispel the anxiety that was threatening to invade me.
In my previous life, war had nothing to do with me, the concept of people killing each other on a battlefield had only seemed like a fantasy up until now. It’s still getting through my head that this is all real, awareness is setting in that my current reality isn’t quite so sweet.
I chewed lightly on the insides of my cheeks, and used the pain to discipline myself. Maybe it’s because of the pain, it felt like I could organize my feelings faster than usual. I straightened my back as I rode my horse. Now that I was at an adult’s eye level, I could see the knights clad in black on the other side of the soldiers.
Among the soldiers trickling out through the castle gate, Ergnade came running up to me.
“Please be careful out there, Eliza-dono. I shall pray that the god Xia keeps you safe.”
“You take care as well. Your role is probably more dangerous than mine.”
After all, he’s in the center formation. On top of that, if battle starts, his role is to attack and pierce the enemy formation. It’s a much more dangerous job than mine.
Ergnade smiled softly, and stroked my hair without messing it up.
“I’m fine. I, and the people around me, we’re all prepared for death. However, I have no intention of dying in such a small skirmish.”
I didn’t say anything else, and I just kept staring at his face, to the extent of burning it into my mind. He finally struck his chest, really forcefully.
This moment finally stopped with great difficulty, and for a moment, Ergnade’s smile seemed to get deeper as he left.
The soldiers quickly got into formation outside the fort’s walls. It’s to have the Densel army pay attention to us, is what our leader Earl Einsbark said to do. On the battlefield, the side with more information has the advantage. It seems that manipulating information so that the other side only knows what you want them to know is one of the basics.
At Volmar’s command, heavy drumbeats began sounding in a steady rhythm. In accordance with its beat, the soldiers advanced.
While being surrounded by soldiers, even though I knew it was out of place, I was impressed with the marching.
During my birthday celebration march, I had kept thinking that I wanted to do it like a marching band, and as expected, thanks to the drumbeats, it felt like the soldiers were able to march much more in unison with each other. Even though my army had also been training since they’d come here, it seems that they have no sense of rhythm at all. Because the terrain here is all flat, it’s perfect for charging, and it probably won’t be too hard to hear the drums within a 200 meter distance or so.
Before long, we arrived at the Densel army’s campground. Their 700 troops were already lined up in a dense mass waiting for us.
But the closer we approached to them, the more I felt that something was off. I squinted to try and see things better, and maybe my expression gave it away as well, Gunther who was standing next to me asked what was the matter.
“I don’t know why, but…… Something seems strange about the enemy. It might just be my imagination.”
“Ahh? ……Hang on a second.”
Although I was unsure of what my feeling was, Gunther glared over at the enemy formation and thought for a moment in silence, then he suddenly raised his voice hurriedly.
“Oi, there’s no horses in the enemy ranks. On top of that, most of their troops’ heads seem to be fluttering in a funny manner.”
When I heard that their heads were fluttering, the memory of a scarecrow from my previous life suddenly entered my mind. Whenever the wind blew against it, it would begin to flutter. What I thought next was, what a convenient thing to remember at this point in time.
“……This is probably a decoy.”
“What? Who, who’s the fastest in our army!”
When Gunther bellowed at the soldiers behind him, my army all stopped in surprise and shock. As the soldiers froze up and and had thinking expressions on their faces, one skinny arm rose up from among them.
“Yes! I’m quite confident in my speed and everyone says I’m the fastest!”
The one who stepped out from among the troops as he said so, was the soldier in training, Paulo, who had the role of leading my horse when we were on our way to Fort Jugfena.
“Alright, then I’m giving you an order. Head directly for the 1st Cavalry Platoon in the center formation, and give their leader Ergnade the message that ‘The enemy army seems strange. There’s no horses present, and the enemy soldiers look like props.’”
“What!? Sending someone like me as a messenger to the knights!?”
Paulo raised his voice and he was wide-eyed in surprise, but maybe it’s because he knows the urgency of the situation, he left immediately at top speed. Watching him go, I felt like he wasn’t bragging at all when he said that he was the fastest.
“What’s the matter, Viscountess Kaldia?”
It’s probably because they were wondering why the Kaldia army suddenly stopped marching, the vice captain of the Franks squad traveling with us in the left wing came over on horseback to inquire.
He’s a soldier that’s rather advanced in years with a white mustache and beard, and rather than fit, it could be said that he’s more plump.
“Something’s strange about the Densel army, I believe that it could be a decoy.”
There’s no horses, and the enemy soldiers’ heads were shaking unsteadily in the wind, much like scarecrows would. The vice captain listened to my explanation as he stroked his beard, but when I finished and requested that he report the situation to his captain, he began chuckling.
When the vice captain started suddenly laughing despite the tense situation, Gunther was struck speechless. He kept laughing without regards to the tension.
“Viscountess Kaldia, you’re really such an adorable child. You remind me of my grandson.”
The vice captain has gone off on a tangent that I don’t understand at all.
I couldn’t help but tilt my head in confusion, while the vice captain turned to Gunther and kept talking with a joyful expression on his face.
“When being mixed in with only adults in a place like this, children will usually want to say things that make them stand out. You don’t have to take them so seriously.”
What’s with this guy.
At his overly nonchalant attitude, Gunther and I were frozen in astonishment for quite a long time.