It’s now past sunset, and night has fallen upon both sides’ camps on the Tave River. Tonight, the moon was conveniently hiding behind the clouds, causing darkness to come earlier than usual.
I was sitting on Vedwoka’s back, gently opening and closing my right hand as I watched my lightly equipped Kaldia army head downstream for Fort Droitros from Fort Droidas. I seem to have overexerted myself using my halberd earlier in the day using the aid of Rashiok’s momentum. I returned to Fort Droidas after that battle, and noticed that my wrist was throbbing. I must have strained it slightly.
Although that may be the case, it’s not at the extent where I can’t move my hand, so I’m going to have to go back on the battlefield just like this. Well, unlike during the daytime, this time there’s no substitutes that can take my place. After all, I’m supposed to be the commander of the Kaldia army.
…For the past several years, my soldiers have been involved in the construction of the village for Kaldia’s new citizens, as well as my new mansion that’s become the new center of Kaldia domain. Considering that I’ve been on guard against the possibility of war with Rindarl, my army’s swelled up to a size that’s disproportionate for the small domain that Kaldia is. Kaldia domain remains a poor one though, and I can’t afford to keep an army that doesn’t work for its pay. Until we have sufficient food resources to abolish the longstanding tradition of going out to forage for your own food at night, all our resources must be put into development and agriculture so as to prevent my budget going into the red.
And to be honest, the members of the Kaldia army are more skilled with hoes and axes than swords and spears, but at least almost all of them have experience working with rivers. They often go to the lakes and streams, searching for food through fishing and other means.
Wiegraf already seems to have taken their experience in the water into account. My Kaldia army’s numbers are probably just right for carrying out this secret operation we’re about to do next.
…By the way, the secret operation to ambush the enemy’s ships was why my Kaldia army has switched to saws and axes from their swords and spears.
My Kaldia army stopped a little ways from their navy’s position, and six excellent swimmers from my army began slowly approaching their six large ships by swimming through the Tave River.
The enemy’s huge ships belong to the country of Parmigran. They were towing along some smaller ships with infantry soldiers on them. The big ships appeared to be acting as a logistical supply station for food, arrows, and ammunition.
For Rindarl, or perhaps I should say for the Densel Dukedom, they don’t seem to have any more forces other than what we already knew about. As evidence, these ships of theirs didn’t head downstream even though the battle turned disadvantageous for them.
They’re probably in the situation of having to wait for their soldiers in Eris to recover and head out. The Densel nobles leading their troops from the ships are probably desperately trying to get prepared for tomorrow morning.
I saw that my soldiers had reached the bows of the enemy’s large ships. Each of them swung their axes around several times, waiting for my signal. I also signaled for them to wait with my sword, and waited for a signal from Fort Droidas.
“…It’s almost time. Mefuri, how are you feeling?”
When I asked Mefuri who was sitting in front of me, she only responded by nodding with a frightened expression on her face.
“Don’t make such a scared face. Tonight will be your glorious first battle on the Arxian side.”
Mefuri nodded again. However, her expression remained tense. She’s probably afraid of her betrayal being discovered by Rindarl. In any case, she’s currently at a turning point in her life she won’t be able to go back from.
“Take your mind off it by thinking of something else. That’s right, how was today’s food? We’re on the battlefield, so provisions are a bit rough, but I think it didn’t taste all that bad. The amount wasn’t much though, but that can’t be helped.”
“It, it was amazing, yeah. Also, eating so much, it, it was the first time for me.”
“Is that so? -Ahh, I see. …I don’t know what type of person was looking after you before, but now I know that he was a bastard that didn’t give you children proper meals. Listen up, Mefuri. What you just ate was nothing more than coarse grains. Without a doubt, the food situation in my domain is the worst in all of Arxia, but it’s vastly improved over the past few years thanks to my constant efforts in improving the situation.”
I made sure to add plenty of compassion to my voice, as if I was saying ‘I would never allow any country to do that to you ever again.’ Mefuri’s eyes began to well up with emotions.
“You’ve seen my soldiers already, right? What do you think about their equipment? You can tell that it’s much poorer in comparison with the other knights. My domain is a poor one. However, it definitely should be a much better standard of living than whatever your old life was like. As proof, do you see a single soldier of mine that’s skinny to the point of being malnourished?”
As I used a calculated emotional appeal to firmly bring her over to my side, Mefuri’s face began distorting as if she was about to cry. I wondered if she was remembering back to some painful memory, since her shoulders were trembling.
While stroking Mefuri’s back, I confirmed that the lighthouse at Fort Droidas was lit up. This was the first signal.
“…Alright, Mefuri. It’s time to use your power. Vent your anger on those that used you like an animal. Be reborn as an Arxian and a believer of the Xia sect, and bring Misorua’s judgement down upon those that would take from others.”
I feel almost as if I’m playing the part of a demon who’s trying to deceive a child, but well, in my opinion, Rindarl was definitely the side that was in the wrong.
The wind brought sounds of a commotion’s beginning to me. The Arxian infantry suddenly began their assault on the enemy’s small fleet.
The countless torches they held illuminated the night and revealed the blood that was still on the ground from the earlier battle.
Rindarl obviously noticed Arxia’s assault beginning, and their ships that had remained quiet up until now suddenly became bustling with noise.
Their commanders’ panicked voices overlapped with the sounds of their soldiers getting off the ships. I had been waiting for this opportunity, so I signaled my soldiers waiting near their ships’ bows to begin.
They were equipped with hand axes. Of course, such a weapon would be unable to break through the ships’ hulls. It would surely take a long time for them to make a large hole in any ship’s hull in an unstable environment like the water.
But, a hand axe was more than sufficient to make a tiny dent or hole in which to place something in.
After my soldiers returned to me and confirmed that they all successfully placed their objects, I incited Mefuri to truly commit her first act of betrayal.
“Do it, Mefuri. Bid farewell to Rindarl!”
“……Ah, ahh, ahhh, ahhhhhhhhh!!!”
A loud voice filled with despair and anger rang out from her throat.
It sounded as if she was trying to shake off the fear and hesitation at betraying her home country.
It sounded as if she was venting the anger and frustration from her heart that she couldn’t form into words.
Pop, I heard that eerie sound once more from the water, as the six ships’ bows were grandly blown away in simultaneous explosions.
“Go, my army!! We have direct orders from the General Commander of Arxia! Annihilate the enemy on the Tave River! Destroy all their ships! Make the Tave River run red with their blood!!!”