Titan Beneath the Heavens
Chapter 237: Twenty-sixth Episode: Chapter 2
Chapter 237: Twenty-sixth Episode: Chapter 2
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
If one would like to know the soul of music, they should visit one of the rehearsal rooms in Vielonna. Some musicians carried out rehearsals in the elegant courtyard and spacious, brightly-lit mansion, most of which were supported by some rich noblemen who adored this art.
In Vielonna, when asked about the oldest performing group with the best skills, everyone would agree on "Vielonna Philharmonic Orchestra", which was also the world's top symphony orchestra. The rehearsal room of Vielonna Philharmonic Orchestra was located at the Imperial Opera House by the river. The theatre was the base of the orchestra. Each of their performances took place here.
On Monday, the 23rd day of the 8th month, it was the working day of Philharmonic Orchestra. Early in the morning, the servant in charge of cleaning the rehearsal room was surprised to find the rehearsal room empty. There were no musicians who came to practice in the early morning.
The servant began cleaning the house while murmuring to herself. She cleared the cigarette butts on the floor, arranged the scattered high-back seats and the music score rack and the podium. The servant changed a bucket of clean water and used a new towel to wipe the conductor's podium until it was shining brightly. The beautiful lines on that rosewood surface were even giving out a faint woody aroma.
"This is really rare!" the servant looked at the time while cleaning the desk clock. It was already eight o'clock. The sun was hanging up high in the sky but there was still no one in the rehearsal room.
The tranquil rehearsal room made one feel unusually depressing. On the other hand, the rude Imperial Guards stationed at Don River who were constantly shouting commands were terribly upsetting. It reminded the servant of the man in her house. Like every other man under the sun, he was of nothing good and could not be counted on at crucial times like these!
At times when the evil Farans broke into the house, the man in the household should have packed up some valuables and brought their wife and children to seek refuge in the inland. But how smart he was! If not mistaken, he had joined the independent division established by some Lord Count that set off the city since the middle of the month and left with no news up until now.
The evil Farans were near the immediate vicinity of Vielonna. The servant heard from the noble women of high status that the banner of the invaders could block the noon sun. What did that mean? The woman had no idea. She only knew that if the musicians were not coming to the rehearsal, then the rehearsal room would always be this clean and tidy. In other words, she would be unemployed. What about her eldest son and younger daughter? Although classes were suspended for the moment and the shop that her eldest son worked as an apprentice was closed, but she was, after all, the mother of her children. She had to provide for the two small mouths that were waiting to be fed.
"Just wait for a little longer!" the woman comforted herself. Since she was young, she knew that the musicians were highly responsible people. Even if the heavens have fallen, they would not put down the instruments in their hands. If one would like to be a part of the Vielonna Philharmonic Orchestra, to love for music much more than life was the only requirement for them to be accepted. Fortunately, the musicians in the band did have this quality.
Shortly after nine o'clock, four drummers rushed into the room. They were not wearing a tuxedo. Instead, they were dressed in civilian clothes covered in dirt and dust.
"Thank God! Thank Heaven!" The woman started clapping her hands in delight.
"Aunt Sigo, you are still here!"
"Why would I not be here?" the servant named Sigo was surprised. Had she been dismissed from work?
A drummer beat heavily on the timpani, "Don't you know yet? The city is in chaos. The Fifth Region commander announced that today will be the last time they open the city gate and main road leading to outskirts. The streets are full of people who flee to escape the war. We would not be late if we were not blocked by the stream of people on the road."
"It seems like everyone is late!" Another drummer announced happily.
"Opening the gate and main road for the last time? What do you mean?" the woman was not bright to begin with. She was illiterate and did not know how to count. Her concept of common sense was also incompetent.
"Listen..." the drummer explained, "It is estimated that the evil Farans in the south of the city will launch an attack tomorrow morning. Those arrows and trebuchets do not have eyes. General Gondol Abassia admonished the people to evacuate as soon as possible..."
"General Gondol Abassia!" the frightened Sigo placed a hand on her chest, "I know him! General Gondol Abassia is a hero!"
"That's for sure!" another drummer echoed. They wanted to discuss further on the current situation but the door to the room was opened and their colleagues entered gradually.
Violinists, cellists, harpists, pianists, trumpeters, percussionists, flutists, and piccoloists... Around ten o'clock, Vielonna Philharmonic Orchestra resumed its organizational system although some of their members blended in with the fleeing crowd to escape the city. However, from the perspective of the orchestra, they were just a person of no consequence to the team. They loved life more than music and that made them of little significance.
The chaos that was happening in the city made the musicians' encounter exceptionally rare. Everyone did not hurry to flip open their musical scores or be in a position with their musical instruments. Instead, they expressed sympathy and sent regards to each other while exchanging embraces. They lit cigarettes and took out private bottles of wine then gathered around to discuss the city defense movement. Using the most appropriate word choices, they cursed the life of Farans who had provoked countless troubles to the people of Vielonna.
"Conductor? Has anyone seen the conductor?" a reckless musician yelled as if he had discovered the new world. Everyone from the orchestra had already noticed this. The conductor's apartment was only located across the street from the Opera House. Each time it was the famous conductor who arrived first at their rehearsal practices. He would distribute music scores and arrange relevant matters for the rehearsals but today...or maybe, the conductor was not that kind of a man. In the past, he had had a great sense of responsibility toward the orchestra, music, and the city.
When he noticed that his question was not getting any response and there was an awkward silence that filled the room, this mindless man immediately figured it out. He had just raised a thorny question. Could an orchestra without a conductor still be an orchestra? Especially for Vielonna Philharmonic Orchestra, the conductor and that thin metal baton in his hand were the souls of all these musicians. Their planet could only operate around this metal baton.
However, there was still a way!
Four bored violinists finally broke the long silence in the rehearsal room. They made beautiful gestures with their hands and quickly played the cheerful melody of Mendelier's quartet in G minor. That brought back smiles to the musician's face. They listened with all ears, then slowly nodded their heads following the rhythm. Moments later, the timpani and triangle made a sound and instantaneously the rest of the violinists joined in. The third syncopation in the first part of the melody was left open with a tail hence the trumpeters and cellists took the opportunity and responded immediately so the movement continued. The joyful atmosphere affected everyone in the venue.
The sound of music traveled afar and attracted the crowds who stayed near the Opera House. Young children tiptoed by the window sill, revealing only their small heads, adults gathered outside the doorway and tall and strong soldiers occupied the porch, either sitting or standing. All of them were listening intently to the wonderful music. Although the audience watching the rehearsal was still a lot less compared to before, everything was still the same, apart from the absence of a conductor.
The ensemble movement suddenly stopped midway as they turned into the fourth part. All the musicians turned around in unison to the flutist who ruined the moment. The flutist stared at the door with his eyes widened as an awkward-looking figure dressed in a knight armor appeared from the door. "Conductor! What is it with you?"
Those in the rehearsal room were panic-stricken. The musicians rushed forward with their respective musical instruments and surrounded the white-bearded conductor. Each one of them threw several questions at him.
"Stay quiet! Calm down! You are not parrots learning how to speak. You are the members of Vielonna Philharmonic Orchestra!" The conductor as well as the leader of the orchestra shouted loudly. His voice was not that harsh, but the musicians were used to shutting their mouths in his presence. They examined their conductor in a curious and somber manner. He was dressed in an armor instead of the usual well-tailored tuxedo. This was a very rare sight! It was something that the musicians found difficult to accept!
"Let me ask you a question!" the conductor in the armored suit erected its baton toward the ceiling, "What is the purpose of Vielonna Philharmonic Orchestra? Or should I ask, what is the purpose of music?"
"Shapes one's value..." "Play up the beauty in the world..." "Purify the soul..." "Leave behind the luxury..." "Return to natural..." "Gives people a sense of aesthetic enjoyment, to express their thoughts and joy..." -- It seemed that every musician had a different understanding of music.
"As for me personally!" the conductor of the orchestra laid down his thin metal baton. His armor glowed brightly under the shine in the hall. "Music — whatever it brings to humanity and human society, as the music itself, it has a soul! One of the greatest things it can do is to deliver a heart of optimism, the fearlessness of oppression, longing for freedom and love and peace to a person who loves music and who understands the soul of music!"
"It's the heart, my colleagues!" shouted the conductor, "The motherland has been invaded. The city of music has been attacked by the savages! As a person who loves music and listens to the soul of music, I cannot sit still and ignore the problems in front of us. I cannot retreat to the safe space or look for shelter. Are the Farans' bones tougher than my metal baton? Is the number of enemies more than the notes in 'Radetzky March'? I have to see for myself!"
The musicians looked at him in stunned silence. They were also a group of people who loved music. They understood the soul of music, so to speak...all of them had a heart that has been molded and shaped by the soul of music.
On the afternoon of the 23rd, Vielonna finally settled down after a long hectic morning. There were no janitors collecting garbage scattered in the city, nor traveling businessmen or tourists that shuttled back and forth the streets. This grand city seemed to have somewhat fallen into reduced circumstances. Imperial Guards guarded the city walls in the West and South sides, built tall barricades, forts and various defenses along the banks of Don River. The area which was once a city of music was now prepared for battle with countless sharp spears around the streets, looking like a curled-up hedgehog.
The headquarters of the Titan Empire Fifth Region was vacant like a haunted house. There was no hustle and bustle like before the war nor the annoying noises of operating mechanisms.
"Where did the people go?" asked Aunt Sigo who hid behind the back of the conductor, frightened. She was carrying a cotton bag in her arms. On her face was a thin layer of powder.
"God knows!" The conductor walked past the empty corridor and stopped in front of an open-door office.
There was finally a living soldier who was occupied with what was laid on the table. The conductor knocked at the door gently and the other party raised his head from his work.
"How can I help you? The headquarters of Combat Department have transferred to the south city, in the war history museum near the riverbank. If you wish to look for the commanding officer, then there is where to go."
The conductor looked at the sign outside of the office door then returned his attention to the Captain inside.
"Hi! I'm not looking for the commanding officer. It's you who I'm looking for!"
"Me?" the young Imperial Guards Captain was puzzled. He had been left idle for about half a month.
"Yes! All local nobles' independent armed forces must come to you for registration. Only after your review that you can turn it into the military headquarters for decision. Is this not true?"
"I supposed so! And you are…?"
The conductor extended his hand outward but quickly retrieved it as he suddenly thought of something.
"Salute, Captain! I'm Count Holmsinki, the descendant of the feudal lord of Hucknald prefecture. I brought with me the family's seal, heraldry, and the certificate signed by His Late Majesty Morisette VIII from six generations ago," the Imperial Guards captain took over the documents and the silvered hair conductor continued speaking, "According to the provisions of Titan Codex, a Count of military hereditary can establish independent armed force up to a division organisation during wartime, but currently I only have the manpower of one group."
"Okay, okay!" the Imperial Guards Captain did not mind having another brave fighter in the war to defend the motherland. "I will report to the battle post tonight, so please settle all the procedures by then. Your group should be the last independent armed forces in the five southern provinces, but there should be enough time."
"Says who?" Aunt Sigo who had been silent all the time was not happy, "It has been more than 100 years since it was first established!"
The Imperial Guards Captain did not seem to hear what the small potato was saying. He filled in the noble title and name on the application for the establishment of an independent armed noble according to the statute and attached a military certificate signed by an imperial emperor at the end of the document. This thing would best explain the problem.
"Alright! One final step…you have to register a name for your group! Why not Holmsinki Independence Group? Isn't that the name of your house?"
"Never!" the old conductor pushed his chest forward in pride and gestured to Aunt Sigo next to him. The servant then spread out her masterpiece that she had spent the whole afternoon working on it. It was a brightly-colored military flag.
"We are the Vielonna Philharmonic Orchestra!"
The captain in charge of registration widened his eyes in disbelief, "What? What is the name again?"
"Imperial Guards Fifth Region Second Corps City Defence Third Division!" General Gondol Abassia shouted aloud a designation number. Almost immediately, a tall and strong local man among the crowd of military man replied "Here!" in a dialect with a hoarse voice.
The commander of Imperial Guards Fifth Region took a flag from the flag bearer behind him. His face full of scars glowed with excitement. His empty left sleeve made a noise when he turned around swiftly.
"I now confer your troops the military flag of Lanas Independent Division which have established great feats in the defending battle of Vielonna. Hopefully, your troops will overcome all difficulties and fight until the end along this hero banner!"
"Yes, general!" the new division commander of Lanas Independent Division received the flag respectfully and performed a military salute.
"Next..." the officer in charge of reviewing registration of local independent armed forces mentioned that the military headquarters had transferred to Imperial Guards Vielonna War History Museum near the south city garrison. General Gondol Abassia had only been here once. What impressed him most was not the long history of war but the hall filled with flags of heroic units that had made great achievements in the previous city wars.
The soldiers' souls awakened some buried memories. Numerous completely worn-out flags that contained a long history were on display in the huge showroom. General Abassia and Hercules Mendez were discussing how they could utilize these banners to ignite the spirits of the warriors.
"Why don't we just gift them to the troops on the front line? Do you want them to become the loots of Faran? We'll be sent to hell for this," Mendez was impatient to solve the problem. He did not know he had just suggested a brilliant idea.
General Abassia made a prompt decision to call all the commanders of the garrison force. Corps was given corps military flag, the division was division flag, and the group was given group military flag. While encountering the souls of heroes, nothing could explain the problem better than the broken military flags. The southern army had stepped up many times when their home was invaded. With their blood stained on these historical remains, they left behind the most intuitive patriotic education for the future generations.
"This is more effective than pre-war mobilization meeting!" Abassia smiled as he looked at the scene in front of his eyes. The commanding officers who had received the military flags ran to inspect the historical data. Brief moments later, they would know the flag held in their hands were carrying the dead and stories of countless martyrs. The one-armed general closed his eyes comfortably and a scene immediately appeared in his mind. The soldiers gathered around their commander who had the flag in his hands. The commander would recite the story of these flags and their symbolism to these lovely soldiers. The soldiers would tremble with anger when they heard about the climax, then shed a tear or two as the narrative took a sad turn. Finally, their commander would raise his arm in the air and the martyrs' flag fluttered as the wind blew. The Farans would be scared to death, be defeated and flee in a great disorder.
"This is really ridiculous!" Mendez Blane exclaimed suddenly when he was inspecting a document.
General Abassia brought himself back to the reality and turned around. He became serious as he checked on that document but seconds later, a wide grin resurfaced on his face.
"This is indeed a city of music!" the senior official of the Fifth Region grabbed the quill and wrote on the bottom of the document, "Approved to be established!"
On the early morning of the 24th day of the 8th month in Church's year 801, the Faran Kingdom Army which was also known as Anti-Titan Alliance Southern Army arrived at the city of Vielonna after a month long of war. Their troop consisted of 14 corps and 42 divisions with a total of 150,000 people.
In the service, the First and Second Corps of the Imperial Guards Southern Army Corps Fifth Theater were instructed to station at Vielonna. The Second Corps of Eighth Theater was in Vielonna before the war waiting to be reorganized and would later join the city defense as a total reserve. Concurrently, the cavalry corps under Group Army that came rushing from Bragg to help set up two attack campsites in the east and north of Vielonna city. The local nobles' independent armed forces of Burton Province took over castles and fortresses along the Don River. The rest of them were in the mountains, repetitively attacking the enemy's provision sources.
In any case, the war was not beneficial for both the enemy and the attacked. Titan's front line was too long and too wide. Although the main enemy forces were concentrated in the vicinity of the capital of Burton Province, they could not ignore the many other strategic locations in the vast five southern provinces. Even until the last day before the outbreak of the battle, the Group Army headquarters failed to work out an effective plan to deploy troops for reinforcement to Vielonna.
On the other hand, the Faran Kingdom Army had not encountered any large-scale battle after breaking through the border of the Titan territory. They took rests when necessary and continued when replenished while consolidating their supply routes and fighting against the never-ending attacks of independent armed forces along the route.
Before this, the Farans had the impression that the Titan nobles were all well-mannered and courteous, taking hardships or insults while lying down. But now, this impression had changed completely.
Even a small baron had the courage to bring his family's servants to burn the enemy's granaries, not to mention the influential families that had a good reputation and a long history. Most of these big families were feudal lords who had all the wealth and manpower that they wanted. The difference between the army under their hands and the regular Titan army was only an official designation of a military unit.
The Faran Kingdom Army which attacked Vielonna, also known as Titan Eight Region, almost got wiped out completely in Honwarren Castle and Silure Mountain areas. First, they were obstructed by an old castle that was still being renovated, then a civilian-born Major General from the Imperial Army led them into an ambush in the mountains. Titan mountain warriors took advantage of the geographical advantage to conduct a beautiful ambush. This completely dismissed Faran's idea of splitting troops to attack Vielonna.
In other words, the problems faced by the Farans were deadlier than those of the Titans. Although his forces maintained an absolute advantage on one front line, if the Faran Kingdom deployed all its offensive forces to the city of Vielonna, the Titan Southern Army Group would unite the five provinces to fight against it.
However, even if they currently had the upper hand on the front line, it was not going to last for a long time. Bragg was planning to divide the troops into batches and slowly deploy them as reinforcement to the battle disposition in Vielonna. But Faran would mostly devote its forces to the west battlefield presided by the Hoillanders. The offensive against Vielonna on the south line could only hold up the other party for so long.
Vielonna was the political and economic center of the five southern provinces. As long as Faran insisted their threat to this city, the Titan Southern Army Group would not easily engage themselves on the western front line. In this way, the Anti-Titan Alliance would naturally get a higher chance of winning the attack on western front line.
On the 24th day of the 8th month, a negative sentiment shrouded the military campsite of the Farans. They did not want to fight and did not dare to fight anymore because they thought that no matter how hard they tried, there was no chance of winning.
The strength of the Titan Imperial Guards Southern Army Group was clear and evident. It was impossible for the Farans to take down the walls, artilleries, river, and almost 50,000 Imperial Guards guarding by Vielonna in one day. Once the attack suffered a setback, or if Vielonna showed even the slightest exhaustion, it was believed that the southern army who were spread across the five provinces would come rushing in desperation to send the Farans to hell.
Regardless of these strategic and tactical expectations and assumptions, 150,000 men of their offensive units were already on the front line of the opponents. In this situation, even millions of excuses could not make them change their mind to not fight against the opponents.
Thus, in the morning of the 24th day of the 8th month in Church's year 801, the Farans had no alternative but to summoned their courage and devoted themselves to the first Vielonna decisive battle in the history of Titan Defending War.
By now, in less than an hour before the first outbreak of the Battle of Vielonna, the bell tower on the church would issue the morning prayer reminder every few minutes. The loud sound of the bell scared off the white pigeons which left unattended on the eaves. The white pigeons flew back and forth on the market square. They only saw the busy soldiers but not those 400,000 citizens of Vielonna.
With comparably less crowd than in the past, the cosmopolitan city of Vielonna appeared quiet and deserted, although not entirely. Several patriotic priests and pastors in the local diocese remained. They spontaneously organized believers together and established various non-governmental organizations including rescue teams, fire brigades, and catering teams.
In the north of the city, some poor, penniless citizens who were unwilling to leave their homes were taken in by those great nobles and big merchants to live in their spacious and brightly-lit mansions. However, they also had to work in return. For example, polish the weapons of the guards, sew the military uniform of the guards, run errands for the guards, and entertain the guards. In short, they were occupied by endless things every day.
The individuals in the Titan nation were united in this way. The soldiers performed their duties according to the establishment, the civilians followed the daily schedule arranged for them by the parish bishops and governmental officials, the nobles and businessmen...it seemed that nobody required the nobles and merchants to contribute anything during the war. But most of the older gentlemen of Vielonna noble houses remained at home for household affairs while the younger lads joined in various independent resistance groups.
Women have always been the weaker party during the war but that did not apply to the women of Vielonna. They were flowers, water, and the fountain of joy. They were the pure and noble angels. The lady who sewed clothes for the soldiers may have been a lady marquis. The women who voluntarily put on the cloak of the Red Cross and entered the battlefield front line without equipped with any knowledge of the medical care and the women sang tirelessly from morning to night. They sang to praise God, to praise love, and to praise the great souls. Like the Imperial Guards, they swore and cursed, mocked and teased those devils who came from Faran.
On the early morning of the 24th day, pigeons danced in the breeze as the bells chimed. The sun shone through them and cast shadows on Don River. The wharf along the beautiful riverside street was no longer hustling and bustling like in the past.
Imperial Guards built barbettes, set up with barricades, established battlements, affixed iron railings to windows of buildings, even the blue river were separated by iron ropes and thick oak wood. There were also two temporary pontoon bridges built on the river. They who lived on boats and the workers on the quay connected the side of the bridge together with iron chains before laying bed planks on it for extra safety. This made the workers who had nowhere to go felt relieved when they saw the Imperial Guards shuttled back and forth constantly on the stable pontoon bridge.
Flags fluttered on the old city walls in the city south. Soldiers stationed there were enjoying steaming hot breakfast on the walls. They laid their weapons within reach as they savored soups while keeping eyes on the Faran campsite.
Nothing interesting ever happened in the enemy's campsite. It was nothing more than trebuchets, carriages with extension ladders, and battering rams. The dozens of phalanxes consisted of thousands of people were already in their formation but that was not a big deal. One of the Imperial Guards bragged by saying, "The sluts in the old city are able to break them down with urine…"
The city south of Vielonna resembled a lair in Dulin. It was a slum inhabited by people of the lower-class status. The people who lived here were valiant and competitive about small profits. Almost half of the residents in the old city center have fled as the war was approaching but the atmosphere in those areas where the more "valiant" people lived was still vibrant and lively. For example, the hookers in the red-light district and underground gangs in gambling houses and taverns.
The hookers were so occupied these days. The Imperial Guards who were about to fight in the battlefield would first go through this kind of amorous array. It was better with the veterans but with the new young men who had no experience with women before, these hookers even had to pay instead of getting paid.
The soldiers were unusually friendly to these streetwalkers unlike normal. Before, they would kick aside these prostitutes with assault, but now, the breasts of the prostitutes were like the chests of a mother, the embraces of the hookers were like the waves of Don River!
As aforementioned, the war was coming. Well-behaved women occupied themselves in the city north, while improper ladies contributed in their own ways to the war on the bed planks of city south.
A young soldier once asked a maiden when she tangled her arms in his, "What would you do when the Farans come? Would you…?"
"Well, why not?" the woman's voice was surprisingly loud, "Our doors are opened for business, we're not some Narcissus Corolla of His Highness Prince O'Neil. But you can rest assured that before the devil knocks on the door, I would get myself into venereal diseases! Then you can come back to wipe out these wobbly legs piglets!"
These were the hookers of Vielonna, the sluts of Vielonna!
The idlers scattered on the street were not as laid back as they were. There were many ruses being played in their mind and these people had no moral constraint but there still existed the minimal national plot. When the invading army was about to break through their houses, these gangs immediately realized that the Faran soldiers would swindle their meager wealth and then snatch away the women in their families.
"What good can this be?" the men scoffed at Imperial Guards' garrison defense measures. They built barricades according to the gangs' improvisation and set up several blocks of the old city's inner reach to the north as indestructible as iron barrels. No one knew how and where these men got themselves some discarded warfare equipment of the guards. These idlers who vowed to never leave their territories behind happily put on the leather armor and picked up their bows and knives. Even the soldiers who passed by their defense areas would be pulled aside for questioning. They acted as if they were contributing great efforts to the war.
Early morning, sunshine sprinkled from the barricades in the old city and the eaves of broken huts onto the narrow streets. Despite not much smoke coming out from the chimneys, the summer heat was still upsetting.
The men who guarded the streets suddenly yelled and shouted. All the people living in that area quickly got out of bed and rushed outside to check what happened. Some even forget to wear their shoes.
A strange team of soldiers came from the north shore. They were dressed in armor of different styles. Not one of them was holding any weapon. Instead, they carried various cases of musical instruments.
The men followed this team through half of the city and only stopped at the small square below the city wall. An elderly officer and a general of the Imperial Guards who came forward exchanged greetings. The nosy people could not hear what the two were talking about, so they assumed that the strange-looking troops were something of a military band.
"They're not a military band!" exclaimed Aunt Sigo who was in charge of cleaning the site. She was irritated by that comment. She was the servant of the Royal Opera House and she could not read or understand maths. But which servant could understand the staff? Which servant knew tone theorems and the seating arrangement of a symphony orchestra? Maybe there was indeed a servant who knew all these, hence Aunt Sigo added a last question in the end, "Which one of you here have ever made a military flag for Vielonna Philharmonic Orchestra?"
Everyone calmed down immediately and the soldiers who walked past widened their eyes in disbelief. These old musicians were the famous Vielonna Philharmonic Orchestra? The old man who was having a pleasant conversation with General Gondol Abassia was the world-famous conductor master - Holmsinki?
Perhaps the Vielonna Philharmonic Orchestra's reputation had made a loud name for itself. The soldiers already felt a surge of warmth and joy stirring in their hearts even before hearing the music. More and more soldiers gathered on the hoarding on the city wall. Everybody stretched their necks at the direction of the small square.
A lady hurried back and forth to arrange rows of chairs for the musicians. These renowned musicians dressed in armor took their seat and like every other performance, the conductor adjusted the detailed position between the sound field and the various instruments while the musicians picked up their respective instrument in a practiced manner.
"Report..." from the watchtower came a sudden cry, "Faran Kingdom Army! South…2500 meters...30 phalanxes of thousands of people…twenty trebuchets..."
General Gondol Abassia smiled as he walked up the city wall. He glanced at the enemy campsite and exclaimed, "We still have a little time."
Hercules Mendez Blane also smiled. He took out an envelope from within his arms, "Come on, my brothers! Listen to the letter Marshal of the Imperial Guards, General Minister of the Southern War Affairs, His Highness Prince O'Neil Andrew Morisette has written for you!"
The soldiers slowly gathered with their enemies right under their noses. In the letter, His Highness Prince O'Neil Andrew Morisette did not mention anything about fighting courageously nor resisting aggression. He told the soldiers who were stationed at Vielonna that he married a beautiful, dignified, and well-mannered Her Highness the Princess of Italia. And they loved each other deeply just like the ordinary families of the soldiers. His Highness the Prince also announced the pregnancy of Andrew's Narcissus Corolla. It was estimated to be a boy, and if so, the boy would be named Sinelli. When the child grew up, his father would gift him the land of Faran as a feudal property.
This was a letter to one's family, but it was written as an open letter to all the soldiers. The Faran campsite was making a deafening noise on the move. The lavish green land of Vielonna was stepped on by the invaders' army boots. The soldiers did not bother with this but they all understood the family letter delivered to them by Prince O'Neil.
The letter did not speak of any morale-boosting words, but it reminded the soldiers of their wife, children, sisters and brothers in their homeland. The letter did not speak of any military term, but all fighters were hopeful for the future – to occupy Faran and gift it to the children as feudal property! This was the hope of the Titan Prince, the Marshal of Imperial Guards but it was also the hope of all soldiers! Everyone hoped their children would bring pride to the family and be someone who was a cut above the rest!
"It's almost time!" the commander of the Fifth Region murmured.
On the watchtower, hung the military flags, the Golden Lion flag and the four-colored regional flag that symbolized the Southern United Government of Five Provinces.
A communications officer rushed out of the enemy's camp. The southern warriors on the wall laughed at this reckless man because their commander had prepared a gift for the silly battlefield messenger.
The gift arrived before the Faran communication officer opened his mouth. The commanding officer of Imperial Guards Fifth Region raised aloft a square sign, which on it one simple word was written in red paint, "Go!"
On the wall of the old city sounded a harsh, frantic laughter. Titan soldiers began clamoring, "Go!" "Go as far as you can..." "Go as quick as you can…"
The Faran's face reddened, but at the very least he had to finish delivering the message. When he was about to speak again, the first row of Titans on the wall suddenly raised their bows. The vigilant communication officer quickly turned to his heels and rushed back to his campsite. By then, a dramatic scene took place! The arrows fired did not land on the territory where the Titan soldiers had sworn to protect but on the Faran campsite. The other party's communication officer was already shot to death.
Perhaps, even if a battle was destined to be long-drawn-out under their noses, the soldiers of both sides would not have a clear idea of what the war was all about. They were soldiers and they were born for this. But once a true, bloody sacrifice appeared in front of the eyes, the battlefield immediately became silent!
Everyone's attention fell on the soldier who was already on the ground. No one wished to be like him.
The conductor of the orchestra was an internationally renowned master and he flicked the baton perfectly. As soon as the gesture was over, the trombonists and the team of military drummers who joined in for the time being began to move immediately. The majestic music sounded in the ring plaza below the watchtower. The soldiers were attracted to the music behind them. This was the military march they were familiar with.
The cries of justice inspired every soldier. From the city walls to the plaza, and from the plaza to the inner city. When all corners of the city were filled with cries of justice, the Faran Kingdom Army's ten fully integrated offensive corps finally entered the firepower coverage of the southern front line of Vielonna.
Temporary barrettes built on the city walls issued continuous loud roars. The air under the sun was ignited and released by the artillery. Smoke and flames of war kept rising upward to the sky. It was as if the shells had torn down the time and space in front of the city, then landed on the head of the invaders.
Blood and flesh splattered in all directions as if a human life was worthless. Rows of people fell and then groups of people trampled over the corpses and bloody ground.
A battering ram was hit directly by the artillery and it fell into pieces within seconds. The wooden vehicle smashed down a phalanx, ruining the Faran's formation. Even if the artillery reduced a large number of the enemy, an awkward gunfire interval was encountered after a round of open fire. The Fifth Region did not have enough artillery parts or artillery shells. Even the artillery soldiers were put together temporarily by technicians, but it did not matter. Vielonna had more than enough flesh and blood and the reputation as the city of music.
The musicians did not pay attention to the sound of killings on the battlefield. They could not even be bothered about the boulders that had been shooting over their heads. The ups and downs movement of the baton were the commands of the battlefield. Their bows were the military bow, the trombones were the artillery and the drumsticks were the swords and spears. The melody produced under the tips of their fingers was the most magnificent and strongest city wall in the world.
The symphony mixed with desperate roars joined by plaintive cries of the dying, extinguished the fear in the soul.
The soul of music flew over the city and danced over the battlefield. Life was like a symphony, especially so on the battlefield. Only the soul of music was indomitable, immortal. It taught the soldiers who had lost their lives to shut their eyes. It taught the living to never give up fighting, to keep on advancing.
The extension ladder of the enemy rested on the old city wall and the enemy's battering ram also took on the old city wall. Since it was the old city wall, its height and width were not satisfactory either. The Imperial Guards dropped their bows and arrows. They yelled and rushed forward with knives, swords, long spears and shields! All their body language was only trying to deliver one message – to kill! Kill! Kill!
The soldiers tore off the gaiter on legs to stop the blood oozing out from their eye sockets. They endured the pain and pulled out the knife that pierced through their broken arms. They would at least kill or scare off a couple opponents if they swing the knife around madly. Being stabbed in the critical areas by the opponent was harder to deal with. Some soldiers would die in that instant, some who were dissatisfied would wrap their arms tight around the invader to fall off the city wall together. Skulls and fresh blood splattered high up to the sky! But it was not the end. Inside the mouth of the skull that had lost its body was biting a piece of the enemy. No matter what, they had to destroy the enemy!
The sun slanted westward. The fiery sunset added more color to the blood puddles on the city ground. Titan soldiers either helped each other or sat down on the ground, their eyes set on the enemies' receding shadow.
The baton flicked again lightly, and the musicians stood up. At the end of this show, there was no flowers nor applause. All of them performed a salute to the audience who had already lost their lives.
The music disappeared. Instruments were collected and kept away in various bags.
The conductor thought for a moment, then wrote down a line on the flyleaf of the opened movement.
"The Soul of Music – Vielonna's Life Suite!"<script>chaptererror();</script>