After three days going south from Conote, they reached River Thracia. Once the entire army entered Manster’s territory and passed the river, the bridge linking Manster and Conote was dropped. In the distance, they saw the mountains that surround Manster Castle. Then, when they thought the ridges were moving, they noticed that countless flying dragons were coming down on them.
“The dragon knights!!”
“It’s a surprise attack from the Thracian army!!”
The infantry, which was ready to flee, was soothed, and the archers commenced attack.
“Calm down! Even dragon knights aren’t invincible. If you calm down and aim bows at them, they’ll fall!”
Chunaav, the general leading the archers, could be heard scolding the soldiers. Lenster’s horses were calm, but the ones ridden by Conote’s generals and soldiers alike were becoming unquiet. When the heavy cavalry tried to move forward to protect the infantry, a rain of arrows fell from the forest to their right.
“Is this an ambush?!”
A group of infantry units – probably Thracian – could be seen coming out from the shadow of the mountains to the left. The Lenster-Conote union army wasn’t prepared for this, so the troops rushed to combat. It became a chaotic melee battle.
The dragon knights cleverly stayed at a height beyond the reach of the arrows, while the infantry and heavy cavalry kept on soundly exhausting the union army’s forces. Moreover, a mercenary-like group came to join the battle, hailing from the forest.
“There are even more fresh troops?”
“Your Majesty, the bridge heading to Conote was…!!”
Lurvin, who was defending the rear, rushed to King Calf.
“What happened to the bridge, was it taken?”
“It was dropped. By a soldier from Conote… not only can we not cross the river anymore, but also we’ll become easy targets for the dragon knights.”
“Damn that Leidrick, he really did it!”
The soldiers became agitated. However, King Calf remained valiant –
believing that somehow they’d manage to defeat Thracia and enter Manster Castle triumphantly…
As dusk drew near, the violent battle headed toward a break. Thracia had certainly suffered damage as well, but the union army had been reduced to about half of its initial size. Some of the Conote soldiers fled as well, but King Calf didn’t care about them.
They stretched the tents in near the place where the bridge stood, gave medical treatment to the wounded, built a bonfire and prepared for a night attack. Then, King Calf gathered the remaining generals inside his tent.
“You’re the only ones left?”
“General Lance was killed by the dragon knights when hindered by the infantry…”
“General Alface too, against Thracia’s heavy cavalry…”
“Only seven generals are remaining…
it seems most of the knights have been wiped out, as well…”
King Calf’s face showed his anguish. The pitifully bandaged Lurvin, too, was trembling with frustration. Everyone had suffered wounds, tasting this battle’s severity.
“We don’t know what happened to Conote…”
“If that cursed Leidrick tries to perpetrate something, King Carl will at least stop him, no?”
“However, those charged with protecting King Carl are all taking part in this battle. The ones who remain in the castle are either Leidrick’s subordinates, or under his patronage.”
The generals from Conote declared their scorn.
“That Thracian dragon knight was saying something, like they already knew we were going to come here. Of course, it isn’t like it was a secret, but there’s no doubt that somebody leaked that info.”
“That considered, if we don’t reorganize ourselves, we won’t be reinforcements for Manster; rather, we’ll be annihilated.”
There was a commotion after the word “annihilated” was said. Even Lurvin, who said it, made a sour face and fell silent.
“I know you don’t want to think about it, but we can’t let ourselves be defeated here. Not only for Manster’s army, who’s waiting for us, but also for our own countries… we can’t let that detestable Thracia advance any further!”
“However, we can’t quite advance like this… what should we do…”
A general from Conote asked, quietly.
“We’ll restore the bridge and cross the river, then retreat until near Conote. There, we’ll rearrange our ranks and attack back.”
“Otherwise, we’d have to be prepared to make large sacrifices to reach Manster, right?”
“It’s reckless, but those are our only options.”
The atmosphere was gloomy, and they were close to making a decision. However, suddenly, there was agitation outside, and the sound of clashing swords could be heard.
“It’s the Thracian army!”
The generals went outside, led by King Calf, who hadn’t removed his equipment yet. Countless people were already crossing swords, and many soldiers were fleeing as well.
“What are you doing?! What happened to the knights?”
The heavy knight general, Shales, shouted.
“It seems they’re battling on the other side, and the Thracian army is in the sky…”
“Why are you so carefree?!”
“They’re withdrawing. Perhaps their objective was to lower our morale, rather than battle further?”
Lurvin calmly analyzed the situation. As he pointed out, the supposedly Thracian soldiers were retreating simultaneously.
They were attacked countless times that night and, as a result, the union’s soldiers were tired when morning came.
In the midst of the morning mists, the bridge that linked their army to Conote could be seen – and beyond it, there was the Conote army.
“Why are you here?”
Apparently, the one leading the army in front of their eyes was none other than Leidrick.
“If you need help, we’ve arrived as reinforcements… it seems the bridge was dropped by mistake. We had only planned to drop the bridge if you lost, to prevent the Thracian infantry from advancing. His Majesty, King Carl was worried, so we’ve come here.”
The generals from Conote were overjoyed to hear Leidrick’s words. King Calf expressed his thanks and asked him to join the front, but he hadn’t heard anything about Leidrick guarding their rear.
“In this case, let’s retreat for a moment and lure Thracia. If we take on them slowly, even they will grow impatient, no?”
King Calf, who prudently wanted to keep those concerns to himself, gazed at Leidrick.
“It seems it’s too late for that. They’ve come.”
Leidrick said calmly, and the others fell silent.
“It’s the Thracian army. They’re coming at once.”
“It can’t be helped. Prepare to strike back. We’ll hold out here.”
With his back turned to the river, King Calf spurred his horse and went towards the Thracian army.
However, the Thracian army’s movements were unusual this time around. Instead of attacking, they were only hunting the soldiers who went after them… or so it seemed. The dragon knights, too, launched mock attacks and called their opponents’ impatience… like that.
“Shit, who do they think we are?!”
Lenster’s knights were saying that sort of thing. Taunted and trying to save their wounded compatriots, they ended up losing their own lives.
The flying dragon of Trabant, the king of Thracia, was slowly circulating high in the sky. He probably knew that his army wouldn’t lose the upper hand.
The retreating Lenster and Conote troops were made targets of Thracia’s attacks, and the damage they took only increased. Even King Calf was injured, returning to the rear with the help of Lurvin and other subordinates.
“Damn you, Leidrick. Why don’t you move? Why don’t you attack? Isn’t Thracia our enemy?”
A general from Conote who had grown tired of waiting went to Leidrick, who wouldn’t go beyond the bridge. Even then, Leidrick displayed a bold smile and stayed still.
Then, the flying dragon of Trabant, the king of Thracia, appeared. The Thracian army stopped advancing.
“All troops, face Lenster and commence the attack.”
Leidrick, who had stayed silent until then, surprised the soldiers from Conote who were mixed with Lenster’s army. He killed the general who had come closer to him with one stroke and, likewise, the part of Conote’s army under his control crossed over the bridge and started attacking the exhausted army of Lenster.
“So you’ve deceived us.”
“King Calf, King Carl is waiting for you. Please go meet him soon.”
Leidrick drew his lance. King Calf, who had the blood of Nova running strongly in his veins, normally wouldn’t have trouble avoiding it… but not this time. His tired and wounded body wouldn’t move as he wished, and the corpses of fallen soldiers around him make him lose his balance. As he looked to his side, he saw Shales being pierced by the lance of a soldier from Conote. Lurvin, who should have been by his side, had countless arrows engraved on his body and was fighting frantically, swinging his sword. The Conote soldiers who had been fighting alongside him watched the situation dumbfounded, unsure of who to follow.
“As expected from the military hero and heaven-sent child of Nova, King Calf. Why don’t you die already?”
“I won’t be able to face Cuan if I’m killed by a cursed betrayer like you!”
Unable to stop his blood from flowing, King Calf continued to fight Leidrick.
“So, since I’m a betrayer, I’ve joined forces with Thracia for the continuity of Conote.”
Leidrick grinned broadly and stepped back. As he did, lance-wielding soldiers impaled King Calf from both sides.
“Guuh, y… you damn coward…!!”
King Calf used his lance as a staff, in order to support his own body.
“I have no fear of being called a coward or anything similar. However, king, I shall finish you with my own hands.”
Leidrick abandoned his lance and took the sword that rested in his waist.
“Look, soldiers of Thracia, King Trabant!
I, Leidrick, have killed King Calf of Lenster!”
Lurvin, who had somehow survived the enemy attacks, screamed upon seeing his king’s atrocious figure. In no time, the infantry’s lances pierced his body.
“Soldiers of Lenster and Conote. If you beg for your lives and serve me, I’ll let you live. Those who don’t will be killed, without exception.”
Leidrick displayed the defeated King Calf’s head and let out a victory cry. At this point, most of Thracia’s army had retreated already; the ones remaining in the battlefield were soldiers from Lenster, who had lost their will to fight, and soldiers of Conote.
King Trabant, who was flying high in the sky, came down near Leidrick.
“Congratulations, you’ve done well. With this, you’re the lord of Conote, isn’t that right?”
“Are you going to keep your promise?”
“Of course. As long as you don’t betray me, I’ll keep it.”
After taking a look at the head Leidrick held, Trabant once again took to the skies and flew away.
“Lord Leidrick, I don’t see King Calf’s horse anywhere.”
“Ignore it. What can a horse do? We’re going back to Conote. All troops, prepare to evacuate.”
The Conote Army led by Leidrick quickly retreated.
“… Your Majesty…”
Once the enemies left the battlefield, the fallen, wounded soldiers of Lenster who had survived finally stood up.
“… We must warn the castle…”
So said the less wounded of the knights.
“Warn them? But how? Do we have the means to do so?”
“Either way, we must go away from here…”
So said a soldier who, able to stand by himself, was supporting a companion.
“Manster will fall, too.”
“If only Lord Cuan were with us…”
“Even if you say that, it can’t be helped. We don’t know if the Thracian army is going to come back here if we stay here doing nothing. At least those who can move must go back to the castle… we won’t have our wounds treated here. Besides, we can’t go to Manster, Conote is no option either, so the only place we have to return is Lenster Castle.”
Following the young knight’s desperate attempt of persuading them, the surviving soldiers slowly started moving.