Titan Beneath the Heavens
Chapter 161: Eighteenth Episode: Chapter 7
Chapter 161: Eighteenth Episode: Chapter 7
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
On the mountain ridge to the right of Boudesdorf's Center Highland, at the Highland Defense Center about 1.7km away from O'Neil Andrew Morisette, the Third Battalion under the Military Intelligence Special Combat Brigade's Commando Group initiated a defensive front against the freedom fighters that poured out of the mountain ridge like a wave.
Church's year 799, the 20th day of the 5th month, 12:53. It was actually the time when the Commander of the Third Battalion of the Commando Group breathed his last. The military campaign at Boudesdorf's Center Highland had broken out.
The platoon under the leadership of Second Lieutenant Massimi was positioned at the core of the Third Battalion. He and his fifty soldiers formed a small square front at the edge of the pine forest. The soldiers covered their bodies with their shields and confronted the freedom fighters who were charging towards them from the mountain ridge. These bandits hurled all sorts of peculiar objects. Second Lieutenant Massimi finally had an opportunity to catch his breath after blocking an iron cooking pot and an ax without a handle.
"Acshin! Return to the highland and report to our commander on the situation here!"
The young communications officer gazed over the enemies that stretched out as far as the eye could see, then glanced towards his commander whose face was grim. Hesitantly, he asked, "Sir, what should I tell the Marshal?"
Massimi let out a mischievous laugh and unsheathed his sword, "Just tell him… Congratulations sir, we have found the main force of the bandits!"
Sergeant Acshin promptly saluted and then disappeared into the mountainous forest behind him.
At the same time, at the right riverbed of the Center Highland, once the cavalry scout group had received the initial warning of the encounter with the enemies, they galloped at breakneck speed back to the highland defense core behind the riverbed. The scouts switched to strong, long-ranged crossbows, gathered inside the vehicle front and carefully surveyed the situation.
Soon, shouts from the freedom fighters echoed out from the mountain ridge behind the dry riverbed. Commander Mitchen, who was positioned at the left wing of the defensive front, shouted an order to his soldiers to draw their bows.
"Open your eyes wide! Take aim at the riverbed! Leave none of them alive!" Mitchen took the lead and released his bowstring. The powerful feathered arrow flew into the underbrush. A freedom fighter was sent crashing down with a shout.
Oscar looked at his left flank before shifting his gaze towards the right flank which was connected to Boudes Mountain. The Marshal scratched his head in disbelief, "Luke, have I fallen into a trap? Or got caught in a snare?"
Brigadier General Luke Citel unsheathed his sword, "Sir, you're not wrong there!"
"Ola… then there's nothing to grumble about!" Oscar heaved a sigh, "I command all men to… face the enemies!"
The leader of the Special Combat Brigade saluted the commander before he led a crowd of officers and men to their respective positions.
The right flank of the mountain ridge had just undergone baptism via a rain of arrows. After a ceaseless attack that was disorganized and uncoordinated, the Third Battalion of the Commandos still maintained their dense and compact defensive formation.
Their leader had fallen and this reality was more or less terrifying. However, the soldiers of the Commandos' Third Battalion remained unafraid as they still had the Platoon Commander, whose quick-wittedness surpassed all others', and the serious and diligent Company Commander. They had experts in single soldier combat and a tenaciously cohesive team spirit. When the officer's commands reached the ears of the soldiers, each of them was clear on their individual roles.
"Keep your spirits up! Fight to the end!"
Second Lieutenant Massimi gazed at the Company Commander who was as excited as a bull and shook his head slowly. It shouldn't be like this! The three battalions were halfway up the mountain that was a short distance from the mountain ridge, and the pine forest behind cut off the soldiers' line of sight. The incline before him had also severed any opportunities for an attack from the top. Second Lieutenant Massimi clearly understood that if they didn't retreat immediately to the Center Highland, it was highly likely that the Third Battalion would fall in this unknown mountain ridge.
"But d*mn it! I'm merely a Platoon Commander!" Massimi glanced again at the high level commissioned officer who was continuously rushing about among the ranks.
The colony of freedom fighters finally erupted with a bellow that they had never had before. They had assembled in the jungle of the mountain ridge. The various shouts of commands proved that they were undergoing a restructuring. The rebel fighters that had laid low in the tunnels for several months finally obtained their precious opportunity for war.
The 20th day of the 5th month, 13:13, at the main peak of Boudes Mountain. The freedom fighters had built a hideout for their leaders. Through the fence on which branches and leaves crept, Bagheeda Narov watched the composition of the Guards on the Center Highland attentively.
The leader, after muttering incomprehensibly to himself for a protracted amount of time, finally withdrew his gaze and pointed at a map on the wooden table.
"The dry riverbed is crucial for the left flank. Regardless of the cost, break through here!"
A thickset man dressed like a hunter promptly accepted the order. He led a group of freedom fighters to enter the tunnel, supposedly hurrying to the war zone.
"As for the left flank's mountain ridge…" Bagheeda frowned. He didn't expect the Guards to only have one battalion enter the mountain forest. According to his calculations, O'Neil Andrew Morisette would send out a group to seize control of the mountain ridge right after making it to the top of the highland.
"Don't bother about the Center Highland first. We want to cut off the retreat route of this battalion. The Guards will definitely ascend the mountain to assist and at that moment…"
One of the warriors beat him to the answer, "at that moment we will let them never return!"
"Excellent, just like this!" the Marshal of the Guards, His Imperial Highness Prince O'Neil Andrew Morisette stood on a tall point of the Center Highland and assessed the deployment all around him.
"The bandits are sure to launch the most powerful assault from the dry riverbed because there is a vast open space close to it that is easy for a compact formation to charge! So…" Oscar's gaze bored into Mitchen and Tove Van Sukhoi who were beside him. "Both of you must guarantee that the arrows and artillery barrage cover the entire riverbed area. I don't have excess infantries to invest there."
Torry didn't reply and merely called his Firepower Demonstration Officer over, "Modify the firepower demonstration diagram. All the artillery shells are to be released at the riverbed. Don't waste even a single one of them!"
The Demonstration Officer complied and carried it out. He simply squatted on the grass and started making amends to the diagram directly.
"Blasky! The Marshal bid me to ask you, why the hell are you still here? Why haven't you withdrawn the Third Battalion that's on the mountain ridge?"
Big Worm glanced at the infuriated Special Combat Commander and pointed towards the Commandos who were rushing to build a fortification.
"The Third Battalion can gain a half an hour or even an hour for the entire team…"
"I don't want to hear any of these!" Brigadier General Luke Citel turned his head away in annoyance. "I only want to know whether you've given up on your own battalion?"
Blasky pursed his lips; he knew that the surrounding soldiers were watching him. "This can't be helped… you know that! I will not send someone up the mountain and take the risk. Moreover, even if the Third Battalion retreats at this moment… it is already too late!" the leader of the Commandos said while gesturing towards the silhouettes that kept flashing into and out of view on the right flank of the mountain ridge. That was the bandit group that had flanked them from the rear.
When Second Lieutenant Massimi's shoulder was run through by an arrow shot from behind him, he already knew the fate of the Third Battalion. The bandits had actually launched an attack from their rear, which was not within the predictions by the three Company Commanders.
"It must be those tunnels!" the First Company's Commander said while helping Massimi snap off the arrowhead. Massimi gritted his teeth. The pain was so excruciating that he almost lost consciousness.
"Leave it to me!" Massimi gazed at his Company Commander. Without waiting for a reply, he ordered his members to charge towards the rear of the battlefield.
The yelling and killing in the mountain forest finally reached its peak. The frontlines of the Third Battalion were covered with shields. Although the arrows that flew from the rear caused a few of the soldiers' silhouettes to fall, they still shouted the slogan of "Guards, advance!" at the top of their lungs and firmly repelled the rebel soldiers that charged towards them incessantly.
After several years of baptism by weapons, the freedom fighters were quite adept in dealing with the Guard's defensive formation. However, they had an abnormally arduous time when they encountered the Special Combat Commandos. The shields of these soldiers were exceptionally thick, as the outer slab was inlaid with galvanized iron sheets. Hacking with their axes would only cause the blades of their weapons to bend out of shape and stabbing with their pikes and bills would more often than not cause the weapons to be gone forever. What's more were the precious arrows; the price of the wooden bows and iron arrows were painstakingly costly. The freedom fighters basically didn't have many arrows on hand. These limited sharp weapons that took lives were in the hands of a few snipers. However, the sinister arrows shot by the snipers would often be repelled by the closely packed shields of the formation.
"This won't do!" one of the freedom fighters muttered softly.
Not long after that, when the Third Battalion had cleared away most of the enemies before them, a rolling log that was burning finally tumbled down directly towards them from the mountain ridge at their rear.
"Crouch low! Crouch low! Press down on your shields!" the Company Commanders of the Third Battalion shouted loudly. The rolling log pulverized the mountain rocks, set the forest on fire and let out a terrifying, earth-shaking roar as it rushed downward inexorably. The first to come into contact with the rolling log was one of the platoons of the Third Battalion's Second Company. Regrettably, they couldn't hold against the rolling log offensive. This massive burning log had a dozen or more growth rings. It shot upwards at one of the huge boulders, and as the soldiers were pressing against their shields unwaveringly, it suddenly fell from the heavens and smashed into the midst of the compact crowd.
Following the miserable wails, the soldiers of the Guards whose hands and feet were fractured were routed and hid into the formation beside them. A breach then started to appear on the defensive line. This breach was widening as the soldiers who were already in the inferno made their last struggles. Their faces were soon charred and their armor also started burning up. There were men who continued to put out the fire on them, only to fall victim to the main attack of the snipers.
Massimi's platoon charged straight down the mountain. He couldn't see the enemy and only knew that the members following him continued to fall under the sinister arrows. Blood stained the Second Lieutenant's uniform rust red. His face twisted sinisterly and he searched ceaselessly in the surrounding mountain forest. At last, one of the rebel soldiers stood up at a spot not far off from him.
Massimi widened his eyes. He saw that his opponent's longbow was twinkling with the dazzling splendor of a star.
The longsword of the platoon commander flew out and it's point pierced straight into the body. The freedom fighter who fell face first onto the ground released a feathered arrow high up into the air. Massimi leaped into the pit where the deceased hid and retrieved his longsword from the body. It was at this moment that countless rebel soldiers that were poised and ready sprang up from the mountain forest.
"Kill them all!" Massimi pointed the tip of his knight's sword into the air and his soldiers all saw the clear surface forged of steel. Forty over team members shouted as they confronted their enemies, completely engrossed in the selfless tearing and killing. The points of their swords were stained with blood, torn flesh hung between their teeth, and their armor became shattered metal fragments, but all these couldn't stop them from snatching away the lives of their foes and ridding them of their willpower.
The comrade-in-arms by their side had fallen, but it was okay! The foes didn't even have time to brandish their axes and so it was the best time to cut off their heads. Blood spurted out from a bloody groove on his body, but it didn't matter! The tip of the enemy's pike was wedged between his bones but this was the best opportunity to counterattack with a slash of his blade. Someone's arm had detached from the armor, but the question was, was it serious? However, no one cared. This rascal still had on military boots with spurs and after falling to the ground, he could still inflict worse harm on the bandits! It was the commander who helped the soldier whose arm was amputated. Massimi placed his sword in the soldier's only hand!
The soldier was bawling loudly. He turned around and embraced his commander fiercely. A pike immediately ran through his chest. Massimi's eyes were bloodshot. He picked up a mountain rock that was as large as a watermelon and charged towards the enemy, pounding viciously at his face! Smash! Smash! Smash! Smash! Massimi had smashed open the enemy's head, shattered his skull and scattered the viscous brain! Following closely, he lifted this huge rock that was an alternating red and white high above, about to pound another foe!
A familiar shout finally made the Special Combat Second Lieutenant return to his senses. Massimi slowly laid down the rock, and only then did he distinguish that the "enemy" before him was actually one of his men.
"We... we have killed our way out!"
Massimi assessed the mountain forest that had resumed its silence and slowly collapsed onto the ground. The soldiers of the Second Platoon under the First Company of the Commando's Third Battalion had just gone through a desperate fight for their lives. They were only left with twenty men. Blood was dripping everywhere on the bodies of the twenty soldiers. Their weapons had all chipped and broken, revealing appalling defects, but they still crowded around their commander happily.
"Look, our Center front!" a soldier pointed towards the highland not far off. Their commander and comrade-in-arms had already used hardwood and wired fence to seal off the open space between the mountain ridge and the Center Highland.
Second Lieutenant Massimi panted while shaking his head, "Regrettably, that isn't our destination! Our brothers are still giving it their all on the mountain! We have to go..."
Perhaps... the twenty lucky surviving soldiers of the Second Platoon under the First Company's of the Commando's Third Battalion held a grudge against their commander's orders, but when they returned to the front lines, there were still twenty men and not one of them had fallen behind nor grumbled in dissatisfaction.
The frontlines of the Third Battalion were gone! Just a moment ago, the rolling log had broken the formation of the ranks and snatched the lives of many soldiers. And just a while ago, the bandits launched the most ferocious charge since the start of the war. The soldiers lost three company commanders and also four platoon commanders. When Massimi and his members returned to the array, the soldiers erupted in ear-splitting cheers and even the wounded soldiers lying on the ground crawled up to them.
"You're the boss now, Massimi!"
"When you realize that you're the sole officer in the ranks, what you should do is not to lead the soldiers to grapple on desperately with the enemies but try your best to let your soldiers live on!" Massimi suddenly recalled the words that Marshal O'Neil had said to him not long ago. The Second Lieutenant evaluated his comrade-in-arms who were in an awful state. He really had no idea how to ensure that his soldiers lived on.
"On my way up I passed a woodland that was tucked away. We will build a casualty assembly point and then chop some wood to reconstruct a defensive front!"
"We... we're not returning?" a soldier that was blood-soaked pointed at the Center Highland below the mountain.
Massimi patted the soldier on the shoulder, "This is our battlefield, enjoy it well!"
The soldier gave a bitter laugh. He turned to face his comrades who were crestfallen, "Hey, what are you still doing standing there! Our new commander has given his orders. Hurry and move. The bandits will return soon!"
The 20th day of the 5th month, 13:48. When the cries of war had died down at the right flank of the mountain ridge, O'Neil Andrew Morisette finally lost his patience and called for the Leader of the Commandos into his man camp.
"Could it be… we couldn't do anything at all for our comrades on the mountain?"
Blasky shook his head, "Sir, you've seen that the bandits are making a mistake. They're sending their men group after group into the battlefield in an attempt to make us continuously expend our energy. Only if we maintain a powerful military strength of an army group can we defend the Center Highland. If we divide soldiers for the rescue on the mountain ridge… We aren't familiar with the state of the mountain, we…"
"Sir, a person from the Third Battalion is back!" Kirk Dexton used his double-handed great sword to raise the curtain of the tent. He tugged at a disheveled soldier and barged in.
Blasky's interest was instantly roused. He recognized the little soldier, "Acshin, am I right?"
Acshin nodded, on the verge of tears, "Sir, I actually could have returned sooner, but one of the bandits knocked me out somewhere and I was tied up. I have escaped from their tunnel. I…"
"Don't bring these up! How's it on the mountain?" Blasky grabbed the little soldier who was still traumatized.
"The mountain… the mountain is full of bandits. I… I came out from a tunnel about a hundred over meters from the right flank's frontlines. I think the bandit's tunnels possibly connect all the way to the highland."
Oscar regarded the little soldier sternly, "You're saying that… the bandits are beneath our feet!"
Acshin nodded promptly, "I saw that there were still passageways ahead of the tunnel entrance, but at that time, a bandit was shouting and I quickly crawled out of their tunnel!"
Oscar whipped around to face Sandinand who was beside him, "Is there any way to deal with these rats?"
Devil Sandy nodded and turned around to exit the huge doors to organize manpower.
The communications officer looked at his leader and then at his commander and it suddenly dawned on him.
"You... you don't intend to rescue the Third Battalion?"
Oscar didn't utter a word and only Blasky nodded, "The Third Battalion has already missed the opportunity to retreat. Now the bandits are all over the mountain. They are done for."
"Sir!" Acshin suddenly saluted Oscar whose face was downcast. "I request to return to my unit. I am a communications officer. I want to be with my field commander and comrades. I officially request for your orders!"
Oscar sized up the communications officer who had a resolute determination and slowly returned the salute, "Order the Third Battalion to be on standby."
"Yes, the Third Battalion is to be on standby! I will pass it on without fail!" Acshin again saluted and turned to leave without a backward glance.
"Perhaps… they are only cut from their retreat route!" Oscar forced a smile towards his Leader of the Commandos.
Blasky shook his head gently, "No, sir. Being cut from their retreat route signifies that they are done for!"
The 20th day of the 5th month, 14:16. The four forts of the First Artilleryman Division of the Guards positioned on the Center Highland of Boudesdorf had finally started to roar with rage.
On the mountain ridge west of the riverbed, the bandit battalion started to launch a clan assault. These people of the mountain wielding worn out blades and carrying strong wooden shields leaped out from the mountain forest like madmen and charged out of the valley courageously. With their agile skills and at the speed of mercury flowing onto the ground, they charged into the dry riverbed. The archer group which was looking down from a high point of the Center Highland immediately started locking onto their targets. Commander Mitchen, enlightened by the artillery barrage demonstration diagram, established each platoon's attack scope. Prioritising the precision of the efforts of the strike, Mitchen firmly abandoned sending a volley of attacks. He instructed the Special Archers that were comparable to the snipers to ensure they obey the rule of taking a life with every arrow.
Amidst the sunlight, mist formed from the dust of the earth which rose from the cracked riverbed. The artillery barrage of the Guards once again plowed the riverbed dirt. Under the blaze that spewed from the sky and the earthshaking rumble, bodies flew in every direction like birds. Blood spurted out from the tattered limbs that flew into the air. The viscous blood was transformed into droplets that filled the air under the explosions of the artillery barrage. The momentum of the artillery shells stirred up a mountain breeze which, in a moment, had blown the bloody mist into the mountain forest. The freedom fighters that were waiting to attack were immediately affected by the intense stench.
As opposed to the left flank that had rumbles of explosions and blazes rocketing into the air, it was dead silent at the right flank of the mountain ridge. Pure white snow had accumulated at the main peak of Boudes Mountain, appearing as tempting as white bread.
The sound of falling logs echoed within the peaceful mountain forest. The survivors of the Third Battalion placed the wounded at the core of the front. Their commander, Second Lieutenant Massimi had finally obtained a brief moment of rest. Massimi sat beside the roots of a massive tree that towered into the skies and used his dagger to dig out a small hole in the bulky tree roots. He then placed a soldier who was so severely injured he had lost consciousness into it.
"21… 22… 23… 24…" a long time elapsed before the rumbling of the cannons that rang through the heavens died down. A soldier came up to the Platoon Commander, "Sir, didn't they say they would fire thirty over rounds?"
Massimi glared at the lad, "Just mind your own business!"
The soldier retreated to the side, still muttering something that he refused to let the commander hear, but Massimi had caught it. The soldier said, "If the artilleryman brothers on the highland knew that we're here then they should let the bandits get it," Massimi gazed at the mountain forest that was absolutely still. He felt that he should send another communication officer to rush down, but he suddenly saw the silhouettes that continued to float into and out of view in the mountain forest and he gave up on the thought. He knew that at this moment, the Third Battalion already had nowhere to go. They were a battered, lone army. Perhaps… the artillery barrage should fall on his front, otherwise, when would this end?
Massimi jerked his foot away and laughed even more bitterly. It turned out that he had been stepping on the palm of one of the wounded all this while. The commander covered the wounded's eyes and called a soldier, "He has left us as well, carry him over there!"
Looking at the dry riverbed that was littered with corpses, Bagheeda rubbed at his red and swollen eyes. He had finally realized that he had made a grave mistake. His opponent was not a certain noble lad who was used to kicking people around nor was it a certain Division Commander of the Guards who was spoiled by tobacco, alcohol, and women! His opponent was O'Neil Andrew Morisette and the Special Combat First Brigade of the Imperial Military Intelligence Bureau. The former was the national hero who had won the defending war at Saijo Mountain while the latter was from 8431, the unit that had persevered in the four years-long battle in the depths of the ancient forest in the south.
Bagheeda looked to his side. The freedom fighters were moving their wounded to the back of the mountain. The leader of the freedom movement was finally aware that he had underestimated his foe. Going against the five thousand men combat army group led by Marshal O'Neil, a small-scale attack, and continuous harassment wouldn't do any good. The facts proved that this war tactic that had been used countless times couldn't even deal with the Infantry Battalion of the Special Combat Brigade.
"Has the pocket been sealed?"
A communications officer hurriedly came up towards his leader, "Already sealed! Two groups of the Eighth Region's Second Corps are each stopped at the two of the hilly areas about 3km from here."
Bagheeda nodded. He fished out a pocket watch, "14:55". The war had lasted for two hours, but he still hadn't seen any results.
The leader of the freedom fighters spat violently. He had to alter his tactics in dealing with the enemy and establish a secure battlefield layout.
Facing the map that was spread open, O'Neil Andrew Morisette scratched his head and then brushed aside dandruff that had fallen onto the map. TO his left was a crowd of defensive line commanders. The Marshal of the Guards had convened a short war meeting during the brief artillery barrage interval.
"I would like everyone to review my mistakes!" His Highness Prince removed his military beret. "The facts prove that Major General Silvio Barrick of the Second Corps' guess was on the dot. The bandits have been hiding in this mountain area and waiting for us to come looking for them. Then they will mobilize all their vital forces for a clean annihilation."
"Although I was similarly worried about such a situation, I still ventured into this district that is in crisis. And so, I wish to apologize to everyone! My combat goals were unclear, my calculations of the strength of the bandits are obviously lacking and furthermore, I don't have staunch confidence in battle. My tactics in dealing with an ambush have been too conservative, I…"
"Hold on, sir!" Brigadier General Luke Citel cut off His Highness Prince's statement. He was fond of this Marshal who boldly took on the responsibilities. "I... don't think there's anything wrong with your war tactics!"
The Special Combat Brigade Commander pointed at two huge battlefields on the map. "On the left flank, the charge initiated by the bandits at the dry riverbed was completely crushed! They have at the very least left more than a hundred corpses there. As for the right flank, there aren't any movements there anymore. Despite our Third Battalion falling into a heavy ambush, the bandits there were definitely not let off easily. All these can only prove that… the bandits were the ones who made a mistake. If they had launched a full-blown attack when we haven't established a secure hold at the Center Highland…" Luke Citel eyed the time, "I believe that if that were the case, we would have already gone to see the God of Light!"
"If my presumptions are correct, the reason why the bandits quieted down is that they have already decided to change their strategy!" Oscar rapped on the Center Highland on the map. "The bandits have indeed made the same mistake as me, being too conservative in battle. Firstly, they used a rabbit to lure one of my units away then used the advantaged army to cut off this unit's contact with the center front, and later, mobilized a medium sized battle force to attack repeatedly…"
"That's right!" Torry actually didn't doze off. "They have obviously underestimated my corps' artillery barrage. Four cannons are insufficient to block off the entire riverbed. The bandits didn't actually launch a feint attack in the other two directions!"
Oscar nodded, "This is what they're going to do next– launch a huge scale attack on the left flank of the riverbed and the right flank of the mountain ridge. Perhaps... enemies have hidden close to our vehicle front, we can't say for sure."
"Please give your orders!" Brigadier General Luke Citel was the first to salute the commander and then the entire camp of generals lifted their arms one after another.
"Adjust the deployments!" Bagheeda Narov licked his cracked lips. He watched in satisfaction as the freedom generals on the scene lifted their heads and stood up straight. Despite the enemies' fighting strength completely exceeding their expectations, they still held onto the belief that the scales of victory would tip over in favor of the people who believed in freedom and equality.
"On the left flank, the struggle revolving around the dry riverbed must continue on!" Bagheeda banged the table hard. The "Center Highland" beneath his fist shuddered incessantly. "Although the opponent's cannons are precise and hit hard, their defensive strength is all concentrated in the right flank and the vehicle front behind the highland. So… we will start by launching our assault from the right flank. This time we must be sure to eradicate the fallen thorn on the mountainside and then directly attack O'Neil's Center front."
"At the same time, the attack on the right flank is launched," Bagheeda's palm covered the vehicle front to the north of the highland, "We will use the most solid offensive to attack the vehicle front! However, there's a Heavy Infantry Group and Cavalry Group guarding it. So this place isn't suitable for a charge. Our fight here is merely to lure O'Neil's troops and part of the artillery barrage."
"In other words…" Bagheeda's hand traced the blood-soaked riverbed, "The fatal assault will come from here."
The 20th day of the 5th month, 15:21. The peace of the Center Highland of Boudesdorf had already persisted for more than half an hour. A lone horse sped towards it from the warpath connected to the highland. The Special Combat Warrior guarding the vehicle front saw the headless corpse that was spraying blood on the horse's back in the distance.
"It's the communications officer that we sent to the rear. It seems that we are indeed surrounded," Bison Bill muttered. He saw his own soldiers pulling open the hook cable that sealed off the vehicle front and stopped the warhorse which was drawing labored breaths.
"It's too quiet!" Bill said under his breath to Fire Eyes Arthur beside him.
"Yes, it's unusual!" Arthur carefully sized up the tall underbrush before the vehicle front. That was where he and the Marshal had come from. He believed that at that time, the underbrush was full of bandits lying in wait.
"Torry!" the Commander of the Heavy Armor unit yelled at the top of his lungs towards the highland. The Brigadier General of the Artillerymen appeared within Bison Bill's line of vision soon after.
"What?" Torry gave a curt answer.
"Waiting on like this won't do!" Bison Bill shouted loudly, "Couldn't you let your men fire a few rounds at suspicious spots or on anything that moves?"
Torry disappeared behind the summit of the highland once again, but not long after that, the artillerymen officer's orders traveled out from the vehicle front.
"Cannon six, ready! Two hundred meters straight ahead! Adjust the cannon's distance…"
"Reload… reload, complete!"
Following the tremendous boom, one of the cannon platforms set up within the vehicle front emitted an acrid smell of smoke. The artillery shell passed over almost parallel to the surface of the earth and landed accurately into the field of daylilies before the vehicle front.
A severed arm flew up into the air amidst the explosion. The soldiers of the Guards immediately raised their weapons. The silence after the explosion only persisted for a few seconds before rallying cries suddenly erupted from the tall underbrush. The freedom fighters that had crept into the battlefield finally leaped out. They closed in on the vehicle front rapidly.
"Hahaha!" Bison Bill took the gigantic battle-ax which was strapped over his shoulder into his hand. "I really am smart!"
"Yes, yes! You're indeed smart!" Fire Eyes Arthur commended him while aiming his hand crossbow towards one of the freedom fighters who was charging towards the vehicle front.
Bison Bill was not the only intelligent officer! The sole surviving commander of the Third Platoon, Second Lieutenant Massimi had already anticipated that the bandit's large-scale military offensive was about to descend upon them when the warzone quieted down.
Those who had never seen the freedom fighters charge and break through the frontlines would definitely be intimidated by the scene! The mountain warriors who were all over the mountains still moved in a platoon. They dodged and maneuvered through the thickets and between the mountain ridges like apes. Before the weak defensive lines of the Third Battalion of the Guards, they maintained a highly effective charging rate and a narrow front.
Intelligent Massimi didn't pay attention at all to the freedom fighters that were weaving in and out on both flanks. He had his eyes focused only on the mountain ridge in front of him until a unit of the mountain warriors arrived.
Massimi raised his longsword. His army rank gleamed under the scorching sun!
"The Commander-in-chief and the Gods are with us! Guards… advance!"
The arrows knocked down the front row of enemies, but the enemies behind swarmed forward. The longsword pierced through the shield opposite it, but the enemy behind the shield actually used his own body to prevent the point of the sword from moving. Meanwhile, the spear finally found a gap. It could pierce through two men, but the saber of the third foe had already come down from the boulder on the mountain. The tenacious Special Combat Brigade soldiers had encountered an even more tenacious opponent. Around the frontline that was drenched in blood, the hundred-over surviving soldiers of the Third Battalion were grappling with the enemies with the most exalted of fighting spirits.
The blades of knives clashed against the edges of swords and shields slammed against one another. The soldiers shouted slogans that were brimming with bloodthirstiness loudly. They shoved, stepped and attacked one another. Anything that reflected light was a weapon and any shadow that moved was hostile! The Special Combat Soldiers appeared to be advancing but also appeared to be falling back. Massimi kept in rhythm with the resistance. Under the constant shift in position, he still managed to maintain the weak defensive line.
At last, one of the wounded caught a glimpse that the enemies' outflank had arrived at the foot of the mountain He raised his hand crossbow with difficulty, aimed at the opponent and pulled the trigger. The freedom fighter was sent backward flying, but even more bandits had charged into the Casualty Assembly Point that was strewn with the wounded.
"Don't look back! Don't look back!" Massimi shouted his command at the soldiers at the frontlines. "Guards, advance! Advance! We have to advance!"
The sound of the wounded's weak shouts echoed from the Third Battalion's Casualty Assembly Point. All the wounded took up their weapons. They used their axes to hack at the legs all around them and thrust the longswords towards any of the enemies who dared approach them.
Massimi split apart a bandit but a machete came swinging towards him from behind. How fortunate!
Most of the weapons the bandits wielded were objects that only farmers would use. The point of the machete had already curled backward and it left a mark on Massimi's armor in that split second. At the same time, the gallant and tenacious battlefield commander was flipped onto the ground.
Massimi brandished his longsword the instant he fell and the bandit's legs were immediately severed from his body. The Second Lieutenant of the Guards drew in a breath. He finally had the opportunity to size up the battlefield. His comrades were making their final struggle. A gravely injured soldier that had almost bled dry clung desperately to the enemy's body as the enemy's ax sliced into his throat. A soldier who had lost a leg sat on the ground helplessly. He cursed the enemies like a madman and waved a longsword ceaselessly. However, not long after that, numerous weapons had pierced through his chest. A soldier whose eyes were bloody holes screamed his mother's name and a bandit stuffed a lance into his mouth. Another soldier gave a bellow before the embrace of death and then fell sideways onto the ground, clutching at his intestines!
Massimi's vision was blurred by the metallic smelling blood. Perhaps there were tears mixed together with the blood, but we wouldn't know. At the foot of the mountain, the enemies were about to crush the feeble resistance of the Third Battalion's Casualty Assembly Point. We could only hear Massimi erupting with an enraged and haughty shout.
"Guards! Advance! Follow me to break out of the siege…"
"Break the siege?" Oscar gave Bison Bill, who was drenched in blood, a once-over.
The Heavy Armor Commander wiped off the bloodstains on his battle-ax. He nodded his head firmly at the commander. "That's right, sir! My Heavy Armor Group can tear apart the enemies attacking the vehicle front. Arthur's scouts will escort you to break away from the battlefield!"
Fire Eyes Arthur was baring his teeth and drawing back the corners of his mouth. His breastplate had a gaping hole that revealed mangled flesh. This strong-minded commander of the scouts choked out a handful of blood and then poured the blood back into his mouth.
Lastly, he pounded at his mouth relentlessly.
"Sir, what Bill said is right! If you want to leave, leave immediately. The situation is extremely critical; no one will blame you! The bandits choosing to surround and annihilate this place is just too ruthless! There is no water source here. No matter how long we hold out, there isn't any meaning as falling apart is imminent."
"Falling apart?" Oscar assessed the vehicle front not far away. The military supply wagons that were linked together with metal chains were like little boats in a storm, bobbing up and down amidst wave after wave of stormy waters.
A battle cry finally sounded from the right flank and the bandit army charged out of the forest on Boudes Mountain. They rapidly scaled the highland. Along the wooden spikes and barbed wire fence piled to the right flank of the highland, the Special Combat Commandos had arranged themselves into an orderly battle array.
Oscar averted his gaze and slowly undid the cloak on him, exposing a Marshal uniform that was lit up by the medals and the totem.
"Distribute the last of the fresh water to the soldiers."
"Sir!" Bison Bill practically cried between gritted teeth, "You must leave here! Even if we die, we cannot let our commander…"
"Shut up!" Oscar finally roared in reply. He grabbed the Bison by his collar in rage, "I haven't lost!'
The Marshal of the Guards drew out his machete with Devil Sandy at his heels. Oscar stood on the high point and once again surveyed the overall situation. Although the bandit's military offensive on the vehicle front was ferocious, it lacked effective organization and follow-up force after the initial assault. The enemies that had charged up Boudes Mountain had evidently swallowed up the Third Battalion on the mountain ridge. Otherwise, they would not invest their military strength so confidently. However, the Commando unit had gained precious time upon the battlefield. The sturdy front that they had constructed so hastily wasn't something that the bandits, who didn't have any heavy equipment, could do anything about.
This also meant that… the dry riverbed was the final focus point that determined the fate of the battlefield!
Oscar turned to face both of his commanders, "Return to your respective positions! If I win this war, both of you will automatically be demoted to private while if I lose it, we shall go fuss over our woes to the God of Light!"
On the 20th day of the 5th month, 16:09, which was also the time O'Neil Andrew Morisette's entire main force was thrown into the battle, the clear sound of a whistle finally came from the mountain ridge to the left of the dry riverbed.
The Marshal of the Guards couldn't help but gave a laugh of "Ola!" as he watched the bandits crossing over the riverbed. "I really wish to meet the opposite side's commander. This man will surely be my close friend!"
Mitchen had finally ordered his Archer Group to attack without distinction. The Brigadier General of the Artillerymen had also issued the command to his soldiers to sacrifice the cannons and annihilate the enemies. The dry riverbed was trembling and weeping as blood soaked the dry cracked soil. There was a slight trickle of running fluid on the riverbed.
The running fluid gathered into a river of blood in front of the slope that led to Boudesdorf's Center Highland. The soldiers who yearned for liberty had set up wooden ladders to attack the summit by the river of blood. The wooden ladder was directly built on the steep incline. Clothed in all sorts of uniforms and commanding in a variety of Titan accents, the soldiers climbed the highland one after another.
"Draw your swords!" Mitchen who had no other alternative actually issued the order for his rank of archers to face their foes. However, a strong hand had already come to rest on his shoulder.
Oscar gave a slight grin to the Commander of the archers whose faces spelled a bitter fate.
"Retreat to the rear of the front! It isn't your turn yet over here!"
Mitchen nodded. He saw that a thousand man army had already rushed down the steep incline to face the bandits. Devil Sandy who kept crying out "wretched scum" brandished O'Neil Andrew Morisette's Marshal flag like a nutcase. The man also kept muttering to himself.
Oscar bared both hands. The bright and beautiful Marshal uniform on him was an ideal target. However, the snipers of the bandits missed by great margins. It seemed that this child of Andrew was really the God-chosen warrior in legends.
Devil Sandy didn't have any mental problems, it was just that he was provoked when he saw his family members being slaughtered mercilessly like cattle. The upper part of his body was bare and the demon tattoo on his chest could really explain the matter. His team members kept thinking that their commander was reciting a terrifying incantation, but when they approached him, only then did they realize that Sandinand was actually spurting filthy curses.
"Feed their testicles to the dogs! Hang their women on the trees! Then stuff the women's intestines into the anus!"
Sandy used the tip of the spear that formed the Marshal flag to pierce through a bandit. Before he breathed his last, he even asked the person whether his mother had been knocked up today! Sandinand was like this; he could always think of horrifying words. The soldiers who followed him would usually maintain a smug, reserved expression when they fought. They threw themselves into the battlefield under such atypical motivation. Over time, Sandy's warriors also felt a need to curse their opponents ruthlessly before they ended them.
The bandits that were pushed back into the riverbed couldn't move a single step. Devil Sandy used the advantage of the higher edge of the riverbed to continuously beat back the freedom fighters that dared charge for the top. The offensive surrounding the vehicle front gradually dwindled. The heavy armor soldiers didn't even have to worry about the rotten weapons the bandits wielded during the battle.
The clash in the right flank of the battlefield was quite eye-catching. The bandit's fire arrows lit up a few army camps at the heart of the front and even destroyed a section of the barbed-wire fence and a pile of sharpened stakes. However, that was about the extent of their damage to the core of the front. The Special Combat Commando's thick shields and spears that were almost three meters in length completely impeded the attack of the bandits.
O'Neil Andrew Morisette sheathed his machete into its scabbard. This wave is about to end, he thought, and he turned towards the messenger orderly beside him.
"Let Arthur charge! Wipe out the enemies around the vehicle front and the riverbed!"
According to the flag signal agreed upon earlier on, little Kirk excitedly waved the command flag that represented the charge of the cavalry.
Hercules Godot, who was soaked from head to toe in blood, and Bison Bill, who had on a similar scrunched up face and hoarse voice, worked together to move the military supply wagon that was blocking the road.
Fire Eyes Arthur removed his visor and raised the lance in his hand up high.
It was the 20th day of the 5th month, 17:00. The sun was setting in the west, and the glorious sunset blanketed the edges of the highland in light and fire. O'Neil Andrew Morisette's confidence of a sure victory only became unshakeable when Arthur's Cavalry Scout Group charged into the riverbed. Although previously the military campaign had come to an end and there was a period that made one wallow in despair, as a Marshal, Oscar had yet to make any obvious mistakes. The battle that he'd commanded at the Boudesdorf's Center Highland would be recorded as a war history teaching material and become the classic example of a weak military force at a fixed position defending against an advantaged enemy.