GOR Chapter 242: Incoming Battle!
Becoming a 100-man captain brought a great deal of preferential treatment for Chen Xiaolian – naturally, that was only by that era’s standard.
Bighead was selected to become Chen Xiaolian’s attendant – a knight attendant was a position worthy of envy in the eyes of many.
Observing the 100 soldiers wearing the colours of the Norman army, Chen Xiaolian felt rather prideful – however, a good chunk of that feeling of pride crumbled after seeing the disorderly formation of those men.
When evening arrived, Chen Xiaolian, Lun Tai and Bei Tai came together and after separating into two, they secretly kept an eye on the movements in King William’s tent.
More accurately, they were secretly standing guard.
In this era, it would seem that King William was quite the outstanding military commander – the same evaluation was made of him even in the future.
The next day, Chen Xiaolian brought both Lun Tai and Bei Tai with him to participate in the military conference.
Having read fantasy novels about knights, medieval wars, cavalry regiments, Chen Xiaolian was left with a wondrous impression. However, the chaotic manner in which the military conference of this medieval army was conducted utterly shattered the image in Chen Xiaolian’s mind.
They were like a bunch of ground beetles blasting their mouth off at one another!
Compared to them, those who could sing a little like Knight Tayloff was more becoming of an aristocrat.
As for the real aristocrats… Chen Xiaolian happened to encounter one from French, an aristocrat general of the Brittany army… the fellow’s body had a thick stench. There was also a huge amount of incense smoke on his person.
Unfortunately for Chen Xiaolian, he happened to be standing right beside him. He was almost killed by the smell of incense coming from the aristocrat.
Additionally, this fellow also liked to flail his arms about when he talked about something that could not be understood.
In essence, the gist of the military conference that they held in the morning could be summarized as:
After winning the war, how do we split the lands of England?!
This was an eye-opener for Chen Xiaolian!
Although they did win the battle in history…
At this moment, before the decisive battle had even begun, they were already rubbing their palms to get their hands on a piece of land that might not even be theirs. They were quarrelling in order to seize lands from one another to the point of almost pulling out their swords and starting duels.
This is the army of King William that won the Battle of Hastings in history?
If one were to label these bunch as fools.
Chen Xiaolian was curious, that King Harold of London… how much of an idiot was he to lose to this bunch?
King William continued sitting upon his seat the whole time and he rarely spoke at all. It was only when the aristocrats were on the verge of punching out did he use his authority to suppress them.
At the same time, Merlin too, did not speak up during the meeting.
Chen Xiaolian noticed that Merlin was seated near the lower area beside King William – by looking at his seating position, it was clear that Merlin was King William’s core confidant!
To Chen Xiaolian’s surprise, Tayloff who had been criticized as a flatterer was also seated very near King William.
Additionally, among King William’s confidants were his two half-brothers, Odo and Robert.
These two men were King William’s brothers… at present, they do not have a very high status… however, after King William became the King of England, it was only natural that their status soared upward. They would rise to the position of Duke or higher.
Chen Xiaolian’s evaluation of these two men was… strong, valiant!
The two of them appeared to the standard Knights of France. They have a good level of riding and lance techniques.
After the military conference concluded, Chen Xiaolian made some inquiries. He found out that King William was relying on his two brothers to exert control over the core portion of the Norman army.
That information did not seem to be too different from the workings of the Eastern dynasties.
The Imperial family held control of the military forces. That appeared to also be one of the aspects of the European dynasties.
However, Chen Xiaolian noticed something.
King William’s two brothers did at least exchange words with Tayloff and laughed together. However, they basically had no such exchange when facing Merlin.
In fact… all the generals within the big tent were seemingly keeping a distance from Merlin. In fact… some even revealed expressions of… disgust, or rather fear?
That was odd.
This was where Bighead proved himself to be of value.
He was someone who had been mingling inside the Norman army for a long time; he had joined the mercenary camp since they began recruiting in France and thus, knew much about the inner workings of the army.
“Here, many people do not like that Merlin. Because… he is a very eccentric fellow.”
Chen Xiaolian became curious and he asked, “Why?”
“Because…” Bighead suddenly seemed fearful. He turned around, seemingly afraid that his words would be overheard. Then, he lowered his voice and said, “Because… there is this saying among everyone that Merlin is a warlock!”
Isn’t that the word used in the medieval era for magician?
Chen Xiaolian’s interest was piqued.
That was something that complemented that name.
The name Merlin… sounded like someone who was a magician! If he were not, then something would be off.
“Warlock?” Chen Xiaolian considered before asking, “Is there any evidence? Or did someone witness him use magic?”
“Err…” Bighead’s face twisted up.
He was after all just a minor character. Before he had elected to follow Chen Xiaolian, he had only mingled around inside the mercenary camp. He was simply unable to enter the Norman army’s camp.
He had only been able to see Merlin a few times, and those were all from far away. Presently, he was able to meet Merlin up close because of his identity as Chen Xiaolian’s attendant.
Still, he did provide some interesting information.
“Merlin’s nickname is… the Eccentric from the Forest.” When Bighead said those words, his expression and tone of voice… reminded Chen Xiaolian of the movie ‘Harry Potter’.
Mm, when those fellows in the movie mentioned Voldemort, they would have this expression of fear on their faces.
“Nobody knows where he came from. All we know is that before he came to follow King William, he had come out of the forest. Maybe he was a barbarian.
“However, according to the legends, he could transform into wild animals and talk to the animals using their language! He could also talk to trees and get them to help him pass messages.
“The most terrifying part is that he knows how to cast spells! It is said that those who offended him would be put under a spell by him and die a terrible death!
“Additionally… he can make predictions! He can predict the death of others…
“Only God knows if that is a prediction or a spell!”
Chen Xiaolian laughed. “Is there any evidence of that?”
“Err…” Bighead thought about it and answered, “Back when we were in Normandy waiting to cross the sea, the pirates from Sicily informed us that the ships were ready. However, Merlin advised King William to postpone his plan to cross the sea.
“Two days later, a storm struck us!
“That storm lasted for a whole month!”
Chen Xiaolian smiled and said, “That… isn’t that a good thing? If he hadn’t stopped you fellows… you would all be buried deep in the sea.”
“What do you mean by that… back then, weren’t you also in the army?” Bighead asked.
Chen Xiaolian coughed out twice and stared at him. He said, “Enough nonsense! What next?”
“Err… next… next, he accurately predicted when the storm would end.” Bighead shook his head and said, “There is a rumour among the soldiers that the storm was not something Merlin predicted… rather, he had created the storm using witchcraft!”
Pausing, Bighead continued, “At any rate, as the old saying goes, warlocks always bring bad luck wherever they go!”
Chen Xiaolian was silent.
All those were seemingly insufficient to prove that Merlin was a magician…
The ability to accurately predict an incoming storm… that was most likely unrelated to magic.
That was just profound knowledge toward the workings of the weather.
About whether Merlin was a magician or not… and whether he possessed knowledge of magic, Chen Xiaolian discussed it with Lun Tai and Bei Tai.
Their speculations were totally different.
In fact, all three of them had fought side by side with Merlin.
In that battle, Merlin had personally participated and fought… his performance was more toward a general and not some magician or warlock.
If he was a magician, how could he become so helpless in the face of heavy rain and muddy roads?
When the guide had taken them through the wrong route, why couldn’t he have created a teleportation array to send the men over?
Hmm… oh, well. Chen Xiaolian felt that he was suffering from occupational disease as a novel author.
However, the generals’ unwillingness to get close to Merlin was true.
Moreover, it was said that Merlin also had no attendants!
According to him, he did not require any attendants. Additionally, he disliked having others enter his tent.
Perhaps… he had some personal secrets that would cause inconvenience if known to others?
Chen Xiaolian was reminded of the first time he met Merlin. After entering the tent, Merlin was clearly before him. Yet, due to some strange power, he had ignored Merlin’s existence.
That was very strange.
“I personally hope he is a magician.” Lun Tai made his stance clear. “He is on our side. The stronger our comrades, the easier this war will become.”
Both Chen Xiaolian and Bei Tai agreed.
Additionally, there was another problem…
In the enemy camp… were there any game participants?
At least, there was none so far.
During the ambush, they did not encounter any.
The enemy side also did not try to assassinate King William.
That was something of a surprise to Chen Xiaolian.
Later in the afternoon, Chen Xiaolian suddenly heard the urgent sound to summon the military!
Together with Lun Tai and Bei Tai, he quickly ran forward.
He saw a considerable number of soldiers within the wooden stronghold running forward anxiously. A group of archers rushed out in the direction of the walls of the wooden stronghold!
“What happened?” Chen Xiaolian asked as he saw Tayloff running forward. He was sheathing his sword as he ran forward.
“The soldiers from London! The soldiers from London have arrived!” Tayloff glanced at Chen Xiaolian before quickly running forward.
Chen Xiaolian, Lun Tai and Bei Tai were quick to follow…
The soldiers from London had indeed come.
In fact, the moment they arrived by Hastings, they had been found out by the Norman army’s scouts.
A minor skirmish broke out between the scouting team and the vanguard army. After gaining an advantage, the Norman scouting team made a decisive withdrawal and relayed the message.
The wooden stronghold housing King William’s army was built on a plain beside a hill in Hastings.
The army brought by Harold chose to set up their camp on one of the hill located some distance away.
The terrain of that hill was quite good, easy to defend and hard to attack. Back then, Wiliam had also considered whether or not he should set up his defences there.
However, after considering the fair number of mounted soldiers within his army, King William decided not to set up on the hill and instead chose an open plain.
Chen Xiaolian and a group of men squeezed about before the wooden stronghold. Their eyes stared across the high wooden fence as they watched the distant hill. Groups of London soldiers appeared on top of the mountain… they were coming in from the back of the hill.
After having occupied the hill, their quickly spread out their formation.
It was a dense formation and huge shields with cross emblems on its surfaces were raised up.
As that happened, a royal flag was raised!
From atop the hills, the soldiers of London began cheering.
“That is King Harold… ah, I meant to say, False King.” Standing beside Chen Xiaolian was Bighead. He forced his way over to Chen Xiaolian and leaned over. Turning back to observe them, he said, “That is the False King’s flag! He had personally come to the battlefield!”
Their eyes were kept onto the top of the hill and the sounds of cheering from the London soldiers forced its way over to them.
Some men who seemed to be part of a peasant militia came up to the front line. Then, they collectively turned around, took off their pants and revealed their white buttocks toward the wooden stronghold.
This insulting action immediately incited the wrath of the soldiers of the Norman army.
Some raised their swords and axes and shouted aloud. A variety of French swearing could be heard.
Chen Xiaolian was not disrupted by those sounds. He was carefully inspecting Harold’s army!
There seemed to be a lot of men within Harold’s army.
Like many of the armies in this era, the number of regular soldiers within Harold’s army was small.
Majority of them were peasant militias, a motley bunch. They had a messy array of weapons in their hands and their clothes were also very simple. Most of them wore only robes instead of armour.
As for the regular army, they were positioned at the very front of the enemy formation.
The formation was made of several rows of shield walls. Clearly, the formation here was more dense.
“Those must be King Harold’s royal army,” said Chen Xiaolian in a low tone.
A voice came from behind Chen Xiaolian.
Chen Xiaolian turned around to see the cold face belonging to Merlin.
With no one else beside him, Merlin walked until he was beside Chen Xiaolian. After giving him a glance, he continued to stand beside him – Bighead sensibly made the decision to retreat to the side.
“Harold’s personal army… he has two armies, the ‘Dragonflag Army’ and the ‘Warrior Army’. Those two are the most elite of Harold’s armies. Additionally, his army also consists of the private armies of some local aristocrats and some peasant militia formed by the freemen.” Merlin quickly said. “There is no need to worry about those people. As long as we defeat Harold’s royal army, his ‘Dragonflag Army’ and ‘Warrior Army’, this battle will be ours for the taking.
“Harold had yet to solidify his rule! If he loses the elites under him, then the other aristocrats may not continue to obey him… then, that is when our opportunity arises!”
Chen Xiaolian was surprised.
He found an interesting detail!
Listening to Merlin’s words, it would appear that… he did not think that they could defeat Harold in this war.
From his words… in the incoming battle, he wanted to either annihilate or badly maul Harold’s personal army.
Then… the purpose of this battle would have been accomplished.
After losing his personal forces, Harold would be incapable of controlling the other aristocrats.
When that happened… King William would be able to slowly erode Harold’s power.
This seemed like… a long-term plan!
However… that was not what happened in history!
Chen Xiaolian’s mind raced and he discovered where the problem was.
Historically, this battle was the biggest battle King William encountered before entering England!
After the battle, King William marched his forces into London and was met with almost no opposition!
Because in history…
In the Battle of Hastings… King Harold was killed in action on the battlefield!
It was a highly improbable event!
Truth was, in the history of wars in Europe, whenever the countries go to war against one another, it was very rare for the King to die in the battlefield!
At present, not even the ambitious King William could have imagined that he could kill off Harold in this battle!
Because, at this moment, the number of men on both sides were actually… not too different.
Harold had about 8,000 men in his army.
King William’s army… was about the same!
Additionally, King William’s army had to fight while being on the move!
Their numbers were equal, but the other side had the hometown advantage.
Not even in his wildest dreams did King William think he could finish off Harold here.
In his opinion, the most optimistic result would be to defeat Harold’s army. It would be best if he could badly damage Harold’s personal army, thereby eroding his influence on his subjects.
After that, slowly swallow up his lands.
That was King William’s plan under normal circumstances!
“In the Battle of Hastings… Harold was killed in action and King William managed to enter the city of London while facing almost no resistance… this is… an accident!”
Chen Xiaolian’s mind suddenly came to understand the key point here!
The war for the throne…
He will need to ensure that in this Battle of Hastings, they will end up with the same brilliant result.
If so… the key point lay in…
Killing off Harold in the battlefield!
Otherwise… the war will develop in an unfavourable direction.
This was Harold’s home after all!
He was still the present King of England.
If he were to survive and return to London…with the powerful defence afforded by the walls of London… King William’s French cavalry may not be capable of breaking through!
Mounted soldiers were not good at sieging tactics. This was something that the whole world knew.
Moreover, Harold possessed an advantage. He was now the King!
Even if he were to lose his army, as long as he can survive out of the battle, he would be able to recruit and mobilize more soldiers!
Things were different for William as he was leading an invading army!
Each death would signify one less soldier! He would not be able to make up for that number!
Chen Xiaolian was quick to relay what he knew to Lun Tai and Bei Tai through the guild channel.
Their eyes turned cold.
They needed to, amid the battle taking place between 16,000 men, find and kill off the main commander of the enemy army, the enemy King!
This quest was not an easy one!
Additionally, there was a high possibility that, beside King Harold, there were game participants protecting him!
It was then…
A knight galloped forward from the opposite hill!
In his hand was a spear with a flag affixed to it.
The doors of the wooden stronghold were quickly opened and a Knight from the Norman army charged out.
Chen Xiaolian was able to recognize who that Knight was. It was King William’s brother, Robert.
Robert was wearing a Knight’s full body armour. He charged out and met up with the other Knight.
Then he brought back a gauntlet.
“Go back and get ready,” said Merlin. His face was filled with joy as he said, “It seems tomorrow will be the day of the decisive battle! This Harold is as impatient as the rumours say! He had only just arrived, yet he is already impatient enough to send someone out to declare a battle! Humph! He is being too hasty!
“If he chooses to station himself here for a few days and rest his men, perhaps his chances of winning will be higher!
“Unfortunately for him… he is too impatient!
“It seems that the decisive battle will happen tomorrow.”
After saying that, Merlin walked away. Since he came alone, he also walked back alone. Soon, he disappeared amid the crowd of men.
Chen Xiaolian glanced at Lun Tai and Bei Tai and said, “Let’s go back too.”