The soldiers lined up in front of the fort walls silently checked their own equipment. Among the feeling of heavy tension, I kept staring at a map in my hands of the surrounding territory.
The role given to the Kaldia army in the upcoming battle on the plains was defending the left wing formation, and to guide the Shiru tribe back to the fort safely before their pursuers arrived. The left wing formation consists mostly of a dense formation of spear infantry, and their main role was to ambush the Shiru tribe’s pursuers. In addition, a cavalry unit would head eastward through the Amon Nor Mountains towards the Bandishia plateau. It’s to help, and guide the Shiru tribe. They’ve been included in the refugees that we’ve decided to accept. For that reason, we have to go to the trouble of guiding them.
The refugees currently at the fort are farmers, and also culturally similar to what’s considered normal in Arxia. If I can acquire the refugees’ leaders, the Shiru tribe, safely without incident, they’ll become indebted to me for shielding them from the pursuit of Densel which represents the Rindarl Union.
In the name of protecting the refugees from persecution, the House of Lords has decreed that Arxia shall defend our fellow believers of the Ar Xia faith, and save any fellow believers that are under attack from other countries.
Because he knows that very well, that’s why Earl Einsbark issued the order for the troops to move out.
I thought it was unlikely that Densel would have expected us to shield and come to the aid of the Shiru tribe, but judging from the amount of troops they have, there’s no way they would have prepared so many troops just to chase the Shiru tribe. It’s made rather obvious since there’s no way they would need siege weapons to deal with the Shiru tribe. What’s more, they even have the Shiru tribe right in front of them and pincered.
“My lord, here, your sword.”
I didn’t realize that someone was next to me, I raised my face in response when I heard myself being called in a soft voice. When I looked up, I saw Gunther holding a shortsword out to me.
“……Oh, uhhh. My bad, Gunther.”
I hurriedly received the sword from him, folded up my map and put it away in my waist pouch. I sheathed the shortsword and attached it to my belt. Since I already had a spear prepared standing next to me, I had completely forgotten to equip myself with a sword as well. I must have been too nervous.
Although there will be actual military operations going on, this time the main role of the Kaldia army isn’t primarily focused on combat. But even so, the situation could always change at any time on the battlefield, and both for self-defense and to lead my army, I need a sword. I mounted my horse and began directing my troops with the sword as we marched.
“Oh ho, you’re in the regular battle garb for nobles. When on my lord, it’s quite something to see.”
“Since you’re a soldier, this must seem like a mockery to you.”’
“I think all this looks just fine on my lord.”
Gunther was being even more overly familiar and jokingly bantering with me than usual, I realized it myself and felt how out of character it was. ……I’m about to be on a battlefield. When that thought came to my mind, my heart that had remained calm up until now starting suddenly beating fast. In order to slow down my rapid heartbeats, I consciously took deep breaths.
“……About what. If it’s about the sword, I already heard it.”
This is my first battle with me leading my army. Since I’m their leader, I can’t allow myself to stiffen up and be overcome with tension. I should be thankful to Gunther for overstepping the boundaries between us with his daring words. It was good for relieving the tension, and taking my mind off that I was going into battle.
And so I just kept watching Gunther’s back as he left my side and returned to leading the marching troops. He’s really someone that doesn’t spoil or go easy on me at all…… Indeed, for the domain lord who’s just a child to not flinch on the battlefield, it’s probably something necessary.
In the meantime, I heard a voice order “Form columns!” and the soldiers from Fort Jugfena who were all equipped for battle organized themselves standing neatly, making clanking sounds.
“Are all preparations ready?”
Volmar who was in front of the troops, glanced around at everyone as he raised his voice. Even though his voice wasn’t overly loud, it carried well, just like his father Earl Einsbark’s voice.
All the soldiers and knights saluted him.
He briefly informed the troops what I already knew, that the Densel army was right upon our doorstep, and to prepare for battle with the goal of protecting the Shiru tribe. When the soldiers responded affirmatively, Volmar stepped down, and in his place Wiegraf stepped forward.
“The infantry and cavalry are to create a camp outside the castle walls. The center formation shall consist of the 1st and 4th Cavalry Platoons, as well as Igor’s squad, the right wing shall be the 2nd Cavalry Platoon and the rescue squad, while the left wing shall be the Franks squad and the Kaldia domain army. All archers shall man the castle walls. Averin squad, please take charge of the fort’s defense and protection. The 3rd Cavalry Platoon is acting as a detached force and has already moved out.”
The 3rd Cavalry Platoon that he just mentioned is probably the unit that’s meant to guide the Shiru tribe. Not counting the archers and the single squad we’re leaving behind to defend the fort, our battle strength is approximately 450 troops. While it’s quite a difference to overcome compared to the enemy’s 700 troops, it’s not so unfavorable that we wouldn’t be able to beat the Densel army.
“Listen up, our primary objective is the protection of the Shiru tribe, not the eradication or retreat of the Densel army.”
The overall plan was to first march the army close to the Densel army’s camp, both as a threat and to directly inquire as to the meaning of their advancing army. If battle is unavoidable, the primary tactical objective is to be the destruction of their siege weapons.
The 3rd Cavalry Platoon is to be responsible for meeting up with the Shiru tribe, and the Kaldia army is to become a detached force as well to guard the Shiru tribe once that happens, and the knights and soldiers are to retreat and battle defensively when contact is made.
“A strategy based on retreating may be difficult to accept, but based on the situation I believe it’s not unreasonable. Don’t turn your backs on the enemy, and make absolutely certain to not break formation while retreating.”
As the strategist Wiegraf personally informed all soldiers of our battle strategy, I felt like I could feel all the soldiers holding their breaths.
– Come to think of it, Densel troops haven’t been so close to Fort Jugfena since the battle that occurred here seventeen years ago. Although I had learned that piece of military history from Mrs. Marshan, and Earl Terejia had hammered the neighboring country’s politics and aggressive stance against us into me, there had always been a part of me inside that had put it away in a corner of my mind until I confronted and confirmed it for myself. Fort Jugfena’s soldiers are well trained, and probably most of them are veterans that have experienced actual combat.
– But as for the Kaldia domain’s troops, it felt like there was a creeping sense of anxiety. More than half of my troops have never experienced actual battle before.