Titan Beneath the Heavens
Chapter 45: Fifth Episode: Chapter 9
Chapter 45: Fifth Episode: Chapter 9
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Nine kilometers! It’s not a long ride, however, war had given it a deeper meaning. In the short nine kilometers, if the agony and curses of the knights were woven into a poem, it would probably cast shadows on the epic heroic poems of the history.
Nine kilometers of road was not ideal for night travel. The roads were rugged at best. Even though the silver light from the moon could bring a sense of luminance to the knights, the procession was encumbered and the heavily injured soldiers were in pain. The beasts in the mountains seemed to have occupied the area they used before. As they travelled out of the place, they had heard satisfied roars from beasts as they tore each other apart.
The commander of the mixed army of Narcissus Knights and capital knights, Colonel Kamille Rayen’s only order when they departed was the gag order. He ordered the knights, no matter their health condition, to not utter a sound during the march. Because of that, none of the knights were allowed to groan or to yelp to express their pain.
Knights who couldn’t move were strapped onto their horses’ back, each of them were assigned another knight to take care of them. They always had to wipe the sweat off of their teammates’ head, as well as preparing bandages to wrap the wounds that got torn open.
The speed of the procession was slow. One of the knights started to tell jokes to another, saying if their commander had discovered the second squadron to advance at this speed, they would probably be strapped behind the Raytheon stallion and forced to run for the whole morning.
The knight’s joke was soon cut off. Pain and lost of blood made him forget the gag order. No one was there to punish him, but he still regretted it as soon as he opened his mouth. He was so nervous, he started changing his partner’s bandage again, despite knowing his partner had already passed on. He felt he still needed to do something for the brave sacrificed warrior.
The Princess’ horsemanship was not bad, she had already gotten the Narcissus Knights’ approval when she hopped on her ride, however, there’s nothing in that the Princess took pride in. Alanis’ expression was unnatural, but she was, after all, the Princess of the Empire, she had already put the attempt on her life aside. Her utmost concern right now was Emory’s health. Her other maid was by her side as the poor Emory was fixed onto the stretcher on the horse. The Princess wasn’t sure if Emory was conscious, she hadn’t been making any sound since she got on the horse, but the Princess saw her lips and hands quiver slightly.
The Prince sat on the back of the horse, slipping in and out of consciousness. He was not to be blamed. He’s probably the most unlucky Prince in Titan Empire’s history, he hadn’t even got through his first month after the coronation before someone decided to try for his life! Ola! The teen smiled wryly at himself, as a Prince he’s such a failure!
Young Lady also mounted her horse, her armor was specifically designed for females with its strong bust and iron chains for upper body, and an increased waistline designed like a skirt so it could fit on top of a dress. Sasha liked the armor so much, she used to spread it out on the floor just to perform maintenance on it. Even though she had never thought about wearing it onto the battlefield, as an Andrew, some things were not meant to be avoided or think twice about.
How was Kamille? The Colonel was imagining his higher-ups when he finally meet them. The two old turtle doves would definitely scoff at him with their harshest words. Kamille grinned, he cold even predict what they would say, "Hey kid! I heard you messed up big time! How was it? Are you going to cry?" This was his brigadier. "No! This kid wouldn’t cry, he would be busy changing his diapers! Haha!" This was his regimental commander. Kamille was sad, what would his soldiers say to him? In the ten years he had been in the army, he had sent away and received countless warriors, he didn’t know what his soldiers think of him. Even though he knew the second squadron loves him, that’s not the most important thing to him, what’s important is seeing his warriors returning to their homes safely, and greeting them the next day at their farms.
Lady Duchess Celia Andrew Nedgabel hid herself in a large cape, her mask shining silver in the moonlight. None of the knights knew why the Duchess would wear the mask on the march, maybe the Duchess was weeping, or maybe she just didn't want to look at the saddening line of injured soldier behind her.
A unique chirping came out of the woods, it's a type of harrier bird from the Tyler grassland, the kind that the Narcissus Knights usually employ to send letters back home.
Kamille dismounted his horse. The impact of the landing caused his wound to hurt as if it’s going to tear.
"How was it?"
The returning scout dismounted as well and hurriedly approached the colonel. "I saw them! Sir! We saw them! Everything matches up with what Paladin Sarlat! The only discrepancy was that the enemy probably has more than five hundred people. We need to speed up, the sun will be up in less than two hours!"
Kamille waved his hand, dismissing the scout who remounted his horse and who was prepared to lead the party.
After Paladin Kamille gestured at the captains behind him, the army responded immediately, with the soldier who still could fight mounting their horses. It’s time they leave the injured behind.
The ladies were asked to stay. They were not suitable to join the assault, so they were tasked with taking care of the injured. The whole party was divided into two halves in an instant, the mounted knights greeted their comrades, it was the farewell salute of the knights, simple but deep in meaning.
The knights who can still fight handed their swords to the injured. As a ritual, the ones staying would hold the blade-end of the swords. They would remember their comrades’ faces, if the fighters perished on the battlefield, the knights who performed the ritual would take care of his body and his family.
The knights approached their destination with caution, silence fell onto them like a curtain.
Just before dawn, the soldiers congregated at the specified location. Over here, they’d need to do another round of screening. Even though all the wounded soldiers were clutching their weapons, not all of them would be able to join the attack.
The knights with bone fractures were all chosen to be on the offense, they were strapped tightly onto their horses, and their weapons were placed onto their injured hands, some were so badly wounded their hands even warped. No one spoke in this process, they knew their injured comrades would probably fall in this battle, but as a knight, they still remembered their responsibility.
The Law of Narcissus Knights, number twenty seven: Thy lives shall be released upon death, but Knights shall fight ‘til thy swordhand lay limp in the mud. To fight is thy mission, thine only choice ‘twixt birth and death.
A veil of mist slowly descended upon them as moonlight faded. There was no sunlight to warm the damp air, causing tiny droplets to form in the air. The air couldn’t bear the weight of the droplets and formed white fog in the mountain, in the woods, and in the valleys. The wispy whiteness permeated every corner of the area, its nebulous silhouette added to the mysterious environment.
Bunches of sparks still remained on the bonfire in the camp, ash spilled around the ground, wet by the morning mist. The blend of fresh air brought in by the daybreak added to the smell around the camp.
Several guards were huddled up around the wood pile, chatting amongst themselves. Occasionally, one of them would yawn loud enough to echo in this empty clearing. The only movements in this dawn came from their quick, tongue-twisting Italian language. The guards didn’t place their attention on the vacant woods around them, but the gold coins they would soon be getting and the two accidental gains they acquired in the attack that had just passed.
Kaga carried a dagger in his mouth, behind him were six elites hidden in the bushes. The two nearest guards were less than ten meters away, behind the fence.
As a veteran soldier with more than ten years of experience, Kaga had lost count of operations that involved ambushing a camp, however, this operation seemed to carry the most meaning to it. Kaga didn’t want to see Johanne who broke his leg becoming a living target of the enemy marksmen and archers because he was secured on the horse.
He had forgotten many things, but Kaga remembered, there were nine others who followed Kamille into the army. After ten years, the ten people had left only three, Kaga didn’t want to lose any one of them anymore.
One of the guards saw a bloody blade piercing out of his partner’s neck, he tried to look around. In his horrified state, he only saw a ashy-faced knight charging toward him, he wanted to scream, but a cold light flashed on the knight’s hand, becoming his last memory.
Kaga and another Narcissus Knight hurried over and caught the two bodies that were going to tumble and caught them before they did. Just as the other knights were trying to dispose of the two bodies in the bush, it seemed like time had frozen.
A scout had revealed himself from outside the camping area, his upper body was out of his outpost. His mouth was gaping wide as he saw the Narcissus Knights in his camp.
Kaga blanked out, instinctively, he raised his throwing knife before he saw something even more horrifying. A black shadow appeared out of nowhere behind the scout, as the scout was going to yell, he spasmed for a moment before his eyes turned into the color of a dead fish’s eyes.
Kaga’s subordinate was so anxious, they almost attacked. Fortunately, their superior stopped them in the nick of time. The seven knights approached the silhouette. Through the mist, they noticed the scout’s outpost was built on the on the bottom of the decline, normally it wouldn’t be seen if one wasn’t close to it.
"Kaga!" The King of Assassins had spoken to the knight before, even though the knight didn’t have the ability of a Paladin, he was quite capable in this sort of sneaking around.
Kaga led his knights and mimicked the assassin, sneaking into a tent nearest to the outpost.
One of the knights almost screamed, but his partner managed to cover his mouth.
The situation in the tent was gruesome. Out of the ten beds, nine were occupied by headless bodies, the only mercenary who survived had a brightly colored sock stuffed into his mouth. His eyes were filled with horror.
Nine heads were tied together with a piece of string and were hung from the ceiling of the tent. Kaga and the other knights were partially nauseated. Even though they are soldiers who’d been through many battles, it’s still uncomfortable seeing a ‘chandelier’ made of human heads.
That’s right, the human head chandelier were hung in the tent like chandeliers. The Narcissus Knights checked the faces of those people, which was the only thing they could accept. At least those people died without a speck of horror on them.
Snowstorm pointed at himself before the surviving mercenary on the bed. He took out a knife, ignoring the captive who thrashed about. The Narcissus Knights didn’t know what he meant, they’ve suddenly forgotten their mission. They saw the Prince’s bodyguard stabbed the captive from behind his neck with a fruit knife, dark red blood dripped out of the wound, onto the assassin’s clothes, and flowed down to the ground. The mercenary immediately stopped, his life force drained.
"Remember this action, I ask all of you to complete this in all the tents silently, however, there are more than five hundred people here, so it’s impossible to kill them all. I want all of you to slice at least two heads off in every tent with whatever way you like, but not too much, strong bloody smell can induce nightmares to the asleep, if they woke up from their nightmares, the nightmares would turn their pitchforks on you." The King of Assassins didn’t stop his hands while speaking, he used his fruit knife to carve off the mercenary’s head, spilling his blood with a disgusting squirt.
"What’s after? Hang them up on the beam like you did?" A knight voiced his question.
"No, haven’t you realized? Use your imagination, you can place their heads wherever you want, just make sure it’ll be a surprise for them."
The seven knights, including Kaga nodded simultaneously, they knew what they needed to do. When they launched their assault with their mount, these guys would surely rush out of their tents just to find mounds of surprises, maybe they wouldn’t even have time to wear their pants! Kaga and the knights knew what to do.
In the area of the woods with the thickest fog, trees were obscured even at a dozen meters away. The sky slowly turned a greyish-white color. Small creatures approached the tall horses with caution, they had never seen big, friendly animals like this.
Kamille waited anxiously. One hour! Kaga and his squad had left one whole hour ago! Dammit! The Paladin looked around, everything seemed to still be buried under a whitish lake water.
A sound suddenly appeared, approaching from far from the bushes. Kamille raised his hand, the bowman squad on his left aimed their arrows at the direction the sound came from.
It was a bloodied man, he stopped behind a tree, the bowmen captured his silhouette, a dozen bowmen with more experience had even pulled their bowstring, ready to strike.
"Tiger!" Kamille motioned the bowmen to disengage and approached the man alone. In just a moment, the squad leader walked out of the woods, smiling while looking at the team in front of him.
This was the two teams remaining in the Second Squadron of the Fifth Corps, Fourteenth Cavalry Brigade of the Narcissus Knights, there were about a hundred fully armored knights standing in the morning fog, waiting. Even though they could not see the scenery in front of them, they knew it was almost time for them to attack.
Kamille steered his horse toward the bowmen, he waved both his hands lightly, and the fifty archers automatically split into two teams, moving speedily to the left and right sides respectively. The Paladin worked his way to the sword-wielding knights, the two hulking men who was leading the teams brandished their weapons as a hundred warriors clanged their own against their shields, scaring the little animals away. The Paladin pointed at the bush on the left of the enemy camp with his head, prompting the leading men to move there slowly.
The quiet woods returned to its peaceful silence after a brief moment of busyness. The Paladin stood in front of the cavalry and let his mask cover his face, which was followed by countless identical movements behind him.
The knights had lost their identity, as well as their fear. Their eyes were beaming with bloodlust, and their damaged masks were covered with a layer of dew within moments.
Kamille exhaled lightly, his breath forming white fog through the air outlet that leads to outside of his mask.
Toot… toot… Honk!
"Wake-up horn?" The mercenaries were confused, isn’t that a military signal? The first mercenaries to wake up realized something was wrong! Why is his tent filled with the smell of blood!
Screams rang one after another from different tents, the quiet camp soon descended into chaos soon after the horn blared. The mercenaries were surprised with the sight of their comrades’ decapitated head. Some of them against their own chests, some were pierced through and left on top of spears, some were left floating in a bloodied water barrel, and some were placed neatly in one corner.
Who’s sounding the horns?"
The mercenaries run around in the camp as if they were fleeing from a disaster. Most of them were carrying their weapons, muttering the name of God.
"Tooooot…" Honks blasted out from the woods around them once more. The mercenaries temporarily cleared their fear enough to identify their situation. They looked around, the depressing honks fleeted about in the air above them. "We… we’re surrounded!"
The mercenaries automatically cleared a path for their commander who stumbled out from his tent in the middle. Something was definitely wrong! The mercenaries looked at their commander, noticing that he was muttering something under his breath!
"Sir!" A mercenary stopped their commander’s stumbling about, Black Ape’s huge torso fell into his arms, all the mercenaries could see it now, their commander’s hindbrain was planted with a shiny dagger!
The mercenaries forgot to breathe, they didn’t dare to breathe, they knew what Andrew Haila signifies.
"Andrew Haila!" Left! Left side! The huddled mercenaries turned to their left, the sound wave echoed loudly in the woods.
"Kill them!" "Kill!" Countless voices mirrored the first, bringing along thundering clatter of the horseshoes.
"Narcissus Knights!" "It’s them!" "Narcissus Knights were the one behind this!"
"Spears!" "Spearmen, take them down! Positions behind the fence! Quick!" The mercenaries hadn’t found out about their commander, they were just ordering in accordance to protocol.
"Annihilate them!" Howls pierced through the perplexing fog, the mercenaries quivered behind their shields. "Be careful!" A mercenary yelled as he saw a black silhouette charging at his team among the fog.
The mercenaries raised their shields instinctively. After a loud bang, a severed head bounced into the crowd, its eyes wide. The mercenaries didn’t even have time to be scared, as heads flew in from all directions, they ran into each other as they identified each of the heads. Several voices attracted the mercenaries’ attention in their fear-filled growl.
"God! These are our scouts!"
"My lord! They’re all dead!"
"We’re being surrounded by the Narcissus Knights!"
"There they are!" The last voice finally moved the mercenaries! All of them looked at the direction where the sound came from.
Unfortunately, the response to that was a shower of arrows, the sound of the bowstrings can even be heard through the thick fog.
The Narcissus Knights’ first attack didn’t cause them much damage, but the people moved even closer together, herded by the arrows. The mercenaries stared at the arrows in shock. There’s no one, no one was there aside from the thick blanket of fog! The shieldbearers were all mobilized and stationed toward the direction of the attack.
Bowstrings sounded again from the woods! Dozens of arrows lined up in an array of sorts, soaring above the woods and abruptly took a downturn from their peak. The crowd stared at the sky, fear-stricken, as the steel rained upon them. Flesh-piercing sounds resounded left and right, followed by shrieks and hopeless wails!
"Front! They’re in front!" The mercenaries lost their protection in front as the arrows flanked them.
The shields were moved again, arrows stopped after three rounds of fire. A mercenary who had lost his guts pulled his partner aside and shakily pointed at the flagbearer that appeared suddenly on the slope on the right. "There… there…" The mercenary’s eyes widened. Countless ferocious silhouettes appeared behind the flagbearer.
Time seemed to have stopped as it broadcasted the frightening scene. Warhorses exhaled white mist, faceless knights with their black capes, the blooming narcissus flowers on their shields becoming exceedingly clear, but they all turned into roaring tigers as they closed in.
"Andrew Haila!" "Kill!" Terrifying screams had once again broken the thin veil of voicelessness.
The mercenaries turned around, their mouths gaping as they stared at the knights pouring down the hills on the right.
A leading knight raised his spear, aiming at the unfortunate soldier who pointed at him! Clatters of horse clops flooded the camp, drowning out existing sounds. The mounted knights charged at their respective targets with the speed of waterfalls.
The mercenaries’ fears were disrupted by the javelins and axes that flew at them. In a series of screams, they split up, but not before the mounted knights charged into them with unbelievable speed.
They were so fast, the Narcissus Knights didn’t even have the chance to aim before slashing at their enemies. Five-hundred-odd crowded mercenaries were torn to pieces in just a blink of an eye. The warhorses’ charging force and their hooked iron hooves stampeded innumerous feeble bodies. Within an instant, the knights forced the mercenaries into two teams, who watched as the last of the knights disappeared into the woods on the left.
Arrow shower came as expected as the survivors looked for covers in panic. They fought over shields and effective covers, trampling over the dead and the injured, not realizing the purpose of the arrow was to prevent them from running away. They had not thought about how, under the threat of arrows, the separated team joined up with their teammates. They had also forgotten, the direction where the arrow attacked may not have incoming attacks. Just as they erected their shields and spears, shouts of "Andrew Haila!" came in on their backs again.
The Narcissus Knights teamed up in tens, their weapons tightly clutched in their hands, the speed of their assault was controlled. When they closed in with the mercenaries, spears shot out in between the shields, the mercenaries gawked as they charged against the knights’ weapons. Kamille controlled the direction his team was charging cautiously. Even though this enemy camp was big, the small mountain pass was still not a great location for a cavalry to speed. He had spent a large amount of energy to keep his formation as they ride up the slope.
"Kill them!" The knights roared, they destroyed their enemies’ tents, using their own spears to heaved their enemies bodies into the air, they used swords to smash their enemies’ shield, even though some of them accidentally fell off their horses, it didn’t matter, they would return to fighting the mercenaries on foot.
Bowmen came out of their hiding place, they stood on high ground, firing their deadly arrows without care. The bowstrings were lined with drops of blood as the frequent firing damaged their leather finger guards, each of the archers’ hands were a bloodied mess.
The knights massacre didn’t stop, even though the camp’s location limited their mobility, as long as their warhorses were still running, they would not stop brandishing their cold weapon.
A Narcissus Knight was surrounded by a group of mercenaries, their spears stabbed into his abdomen simultaneously. His sword slashed at the spears, but his life had been fallen as he was hoisted into the air.
The knights charged at their teammate with a thundering howl, their swords sliced toward the mercenaries who were retreating toward the hill on the right. They had no choice, it’s the only place without arrow strikes.
Some of the knights in the camp were still fighting mercenaries who were solo, the archers who were in charge of sniping would, most of the time, reach their target before the knights, causing the knights to charge even more passionately toward their next target. Sobbings, moanings, begs, and neighings formed a thrilling ensemble in this dawning valley, which was amplified by the consistently growing players in the symphony.
The mercenaries evacuated from the only gap in the battlefield like a swarm, chased by the knights and arrows after them toward the hill behind the slope.
A loud roar came out in front of them, the mercenaries could no longer distinguish what the roar meant, they only saw two hulking figures bolting at them like the devils themselves. The hulks had left the mercenaries with a strong impression, it was nothing they could have defend against, the mercenaries turned around, there’s no point fighting, their commander had already died, vice commander was nowhere to be found, no one could stop them from searching for survival now.
The sounds from their backs was still as booming as ever, the fleeing mercenaries used all they can to maneuver the mountainous woods. Finally, there was no more path in front of them. A hundred-meter-tall cliff blocked their path. The first few mercenaries returned to the nature in shrieks of despair as their fellow mates who came after them squeezed them off. Several smarter guys used the damaged weapons in their hands to cut down a few after them before it stopped the rest from charging forward.
The Narcissus Knights stopped their horses about thirty meters before the mercenaries, forming a tight formation. Soon after, hundreds of foot warriors erected their shields beside the knights, followed by the bowmen behind the shields.
"Kill ‘em!" "Kill!" The formation closed in step by step, the knights were restraining their excited warhorses to stand still, only the shieldbearers from the sides approached the mercenaries slowly.
"Kill, kill, kill!" A huge breeze blew past the area, clearing the woods of the wispy mist.
"I surrender! I surrender!" A braver mercenary stepped out of his line and kneeled, flinging his battle ax far away from him. He was shaking, trembling, and tears crawled all over his face. To him, all these actions needed a lot of courage to complete.
The other mercenaries on the cliff were affected by this, and started throwing down their weapons by the bunch, the clink-clangs of weapons dropping on the ground filled the air.
The fog slowly faded as the first ray of sunlight squeezed its way into the valley.
"Toot… toot… toot…"
"Andrew Haila!" Together with the unique blaring of horns, the whole valley was filled with cheers, at another spot in the woods, the injured knights puffed up their chests, pointing their backup weapons to the sky. Even though they weren’t able to move due to the various injuries they’ve received, it didn’t impede them from giving their loudest cries.
Prince O’Neil Andrew Morisette stayed on his mount sickly, he couldn’t join in the fight, as his Mam had him in her arms the whole time. His Royal Highness started having a fever, the dolantin he took made hallucinations flashed through his exhausted eyes, and made him hear tigers’ roars that were not there.
"Your Royal Highness!"
"Your Royal Highness!"
"Your Royal Highness!"
As Oscar treaded the camp, the knights greeted him with utmost respect. Wherever the Prince went, all the knights genuflected with the swords stabbing at the ground, giving him the highest regard as the commander-in-chief of this battle.
The teenager opened his eyes, the noisiness around made him slightly dizzy.
Oscar took a look around, the tent was brightly lit, but since when had he slept in a bed? Furthermore, this may not even be his own tent.
The teenager struggled to get off the bed, but the action brought him a sensation, as if his whole body was going to crumble. Oscar panted, he could still endure this. It’s like, it may be, it may have been, the chubby boy felt really confused, he only knew he had withstood this level of suffering, it really was nothing.
"How is the sky dark?" Oscar waddled out of the tent he knew not of, asking the guards keeping watch on him by the side of its entrance.
"Your Royal Highness, it is now seven in the evening, you had been sleeping for a whole day." A knight answered his question.
"Oh! Have we won? I think I remember."
"Yes, Your Royal Highness! We’d achieved the final victory, killed over three hundred bandits and captured over two hundred of them! All this was your wise decision to assault milord!" The knight expounded excitedly.
Oscar didn’t say anything, he didn’t even know how they had won. He saw his butler, his knight commander, as well as the King of Sins, and his doctor. They were all wearing a grin on their faces.
"Your Royal Highness, how are you doing? You shouldn’t have gotten off bed."
Oscar’s ears were ringing, he looked at the sky with its brightly twinkling stars. A moment of dizziness hit him, and the Liar Extraordinaire caught him as he was falling.
"Kamille is right! Your internal organs were hurt, you should definitely not get off your bed."
The Prince finally heard it clearly, he stood as straight as he could, held up by his butler’s arm. Hasn’t he won? Winners shouldn’t look sickly, like him.
"I had slept for a day? Have you gotten any gains?" Oscar wanted to look more princely, but his voice was scratchy, as if his voice box was punctured multiple times with needles.
"Your Royal Highness! The Italian Le-Mans Mercenary Group had already been eliminated, through this battle, they had sacrificed more than seven hundred men, two hundred more are in our hands." Colonel Kamille Rayen finally beamed. It was a huge victory for the Narcissus Knights, they had eradicated a whole warrior organization with two temporary cavalry squads.
"Heheh, heheheheheh!" Oscar laughed uncontrollably, no one knew if he was still conscious, he looked like he had just ingested hallucinogenic drugs.
"We had separated the key leaders and kept watch individually, the main issue now is how we should handle the war captives, they are similar in number with us."
Oscar could no longer tell who’s talking to him, but the phrase ‘war captives’ made his brain think fast again.
"Kamille… My Paladin!" The teenager grabbed the necktie of the person in front of him, Kamille, beside of the King of Sins who’s being manhandled by the Prince was giggling non-stop.
"No captives, Kamille! No captives! No, captives!" Oscar repeated.
Becoming solemn, Kamille pushed Doramy aside. It’s wasn’t a matter to laugh about. He placed the Prince’s hands on his own necktie. "Your Royal Highness, is this an order? No captives? To validate this order, could you please clarify the reasoning behind this decision?"
Oscar yelled impatiently, "Hey! I’ve already given my order! Reasoning? Ask your soldiers, these captives were all doused in the blood of the Narcissus Knights. Remember! I don’t want any captives, but I do want to spare one, let him return to Italia, let him report to those people who wanted my head as a business deal, let them see the real O’Neil… Andrew… Morisette!"<script>chaptererror();</script>