Episode 81. The Drake on the Battlefield (3)

Ultimately, Seon-Hyeok’s choice was decided for him.

“Everyone up! Get ready for battle!”

Hearing their company commander shout in a heavy voice, the cavalry, which had been lounging in the barracks, reflexively shouted back.

“Get ready for battle!”

“Get ready for battle!”

The riders repeated after their commander, hurriedly grabbed their weapons, and gathered in front of the barracks.

“Captain Clark. Find the person in charge of the garrison and notify them of the approaching enemy!”

Clark quickly understood the situation at hand and asked about the enemy’s numbers.

“It’s at least three regiments.”

Three cavalry regiments were enough to trample the infantry and civilians remaining at the garrison in an instant. Recognizing the severity of the situation, Clark rushed to the regimental commander’s barracks.

“All units, get ready for battle! Archers to the watchtowers! Gather the civilians in the center of the garrison!”

“Move quickly! Come on, you bastards!”

As though they had heard the news, the infantry began to busily move about. The civilians looked on uneasily at the bustling infantry. However, they calmly followed the soldiers’ instructions without causing a commotion. This was the attitude of the people who stubbornly refused to leave the western territories despite repeatedly suffering at the hands of the Nocteins.

“Hans. Be careful.”

“Mom, don’t worry about me and go group up with everyone.”

“Theo, you punk. I guess I’ll finally get to see those skills that let you be condescending all the time.”

“Shut up and go inside. Do you think this is a joke?”

Were most of them family members? 

Many tried to encourage the soldiers in their own way.

“Hm…”

Seon-Hyeok’s heart grew heavier seeing the soldiers feign confidence as they led their family deep into the garrison.

“What the hell is going on?”

The regimental commander hurried over and asked about the situation.

“Enemy cavalry is approaching. It’s at least three regiments in size, and it’s clear from their movements that we’re the target.”

“In that case, we’ll need to reinforce our wooden barricades and prepare for a drawn-out battle. Our enemies won’t be able to linger in our territory indefinitely.”

The regimental commander answered without showing much concern. It was clear he thought the three Noctein regiments could be held off if he supported the Drake Cavalry. However, the situation was not as simple as the commander thought.

“There are some troublesome enemies among them – they’re at least on the level of senior knights.”

This had already been confirmed by the energy-sensitive Atiya.

“There’s no way the Nocteins are crazy enough to send senior knights into a war like this.”

“I never said that they were senior knights. They’re just on that level.”

These were foes equaling the veteran knights capable of adeptly manipulating sword energy, and simultaneously individuals who could be sent into battle without the situation escalating into an all-out war. Seon-Hyeok immediately knew who these people were.

“They’re most likely foreigners.”

Years had passed since the foreigners came to this world. If they hadn’t died yet and weren’t neglectful in their training, it was more than enough time for them to reach the level of the average senior knight. Naturally, it wasn’t good news that several individuals on that level were mixed in with the enemy cavalry.

“So the Noctein bastards are resorting to petty tricks. Even so, I’m relieved Viscount Drachen and the Drake Cavalry are currently here with us.”

The regimental commander replied with a smile that did not suit the situation. Then again, those in command had exaggerated Seon-Hyeok’s accomplishments to date in an effort to boost allied morale, and the veneer of his Gradus likewise blinded the regimental commander.

This can’t do. At the very least, those in command should be fully aware of the situation.

Seon-Hyeok was about to open his mouth to address these burdensome expectations, but he suddenly noticed that it was unnaturally quiet.

“Ah…”

The archers on the watchtower, the infantry reinforcing the low barricades around the garrison, and the spearmen nervously fiddling with their spears had all stopped what they were doing and were looking in his direction. The expectations carried in those hundreds of pairs of eyes were not much different from those of the regimental commander.

As soon as he realized this, Seon-Hyeok couldn’t speak.

‘Save us.’

‘Protect us.’

‘If it’s you, it’s possible.’

‘Let me return to my family.’

Seon-Hyeok felt dizzy as he imagined the voices of the troops. He was suffocating from their blind trust and expectations.

“Viscount Drachen?”

“We’ll send out a scout to find out exactly what their numbers are and how heavily they are armed. My ability is only enough to determine their approximate size.”

He was able to blurt out a response. Thankfully, his voice did not tremble.

“First, please reassure the troops. We can plan our battle strategy afterwards.”

At Seon-Hyeok’s words, the regimental commander answered in the affirmative and disappeared to take care of his soldiers.

“Is the situation so dire that we need to consider retreating?”

Clark’s voice was low as he asked. Clearly, Seon-Hyeok’s clumsy acting was insufficient to fool his longtime comrades.

“These enemies seem thoroughly prepared. I’m certain they’ve made plans for me and Goldie.”

Atiya had already notified him of seven enemies to be wary of. If they all attacked at once, there was nothing even he could do in response.

“Then why are you trying to fight them alone?”

Clark looked displeased when he heard about the situation.

“Did you forget everything I taught you? Do you remember what I said before?”

“What…”

Clark’s attitude was as serious as ever as he berated Seon-Hyeok.

“Even senior knights avoid fighting heavy cavalry if they’re leading a full-speed charge.”

Now that he thought about it, Seon-Hyeok did remember hearing something of the sort while receiving cavalry training.

“We’ll provide support. If the battle becomes too much, fall back to the rear. We’ll turn the enemies into hedgehogs with our spears.”

The usually serious Clark spoke with an uncharacteristic bravado. The other veteran riders quickly followed suit and added their own confident comments.

“And anyways, you’ve been taking care of everything by yourself recently. At this rate, my spear’s going to rust from lack of use! You should let us have our fun too!”

“He’s right! The company commander should take care of his subordinates instead of being selfish and having fun by himself!”

Only after hearing his subordinates did Seon-Hyeok notice he had become arrogant. Without even realizing it, he had come to believe that only he could defeat powerful enemies, and because of this belief, the trust and expectations of his soldiers had become a burden. But at this moment, he felt completely refreshed.

“As long as we’re on horseback, we’re confident even against a knight division! So leave it to us!”

“Uh, aren’t you exaggerating a bit? Even if you’re confident, a knight division…”

“Shut up! We’re the best on horseback!”

“Knights haven’t got shit! You just have to stab them with spears and throw them off their horses!”

By now, the riders weren’t encouraging their company commander, but rather trying to bluff their way to confidence. Seon-Hyeok felt much better as he saw his soldiers drunk on their own bravado.

“And they’ll pull their own weight, if for no other reason than out of a primal desire to survive.”

Seon-Hyeok turned in the direction Clark gestured, where he saw infantrymen checking their weapons and reinforcing the barricades ahead of the battle. Their eyes, previously longing for salvation, were now full of determination. Like the others, they were also desperate to protect those hiding behind them.

“Ah…”

These soldiers could not possibly be a burden. They were brave warriors willing to hold spears and swords to protect their own lives, and comrades he would stand next to on the battlefield.

“And so, stop playing the hero and do your part as our leader.”

“Right. I must have lost my mind for a while there, after all that talk of having Gradus and being the Drake Knight.”

“There’s no treatment for delusions of grandeur!”

The riders snickered.

“It’s a good thing you realized your shortcomings early! If you go too far off the deep end, the only treatment is death…”

The rider quickly shut his mouth after babbling excitedly. However, the atmosphere had already cooled, and the others quickly reprimanded him.

“Punks who don’t know to hold their tongue are the ones for whom the only treatment is death. So you go and die too, you son of a bitch!”

Ring! Ring! Ring!

The bell atop the watchtower rang incessantly.

“Enemy! It’s the Noctein bastards!”

The soldier on the lookout screamed to announce the enemy’s approach.

“Damn it. It wasn’t three regiments – it was four.”

Clark frowned upon hearing that there were at least a hundred more enemies than the company commander had suggested.

“But there’s nothing we can do about it. We’re caught with our pants down, so we’ll need to make the most of our situation.”

After saying so, Clark looked around at the members of the Drake Cavalry.

“They have four times as many riders. Anyone too scared can stay out of the battle.”

However, there were none left in the Drake Cavalry who would ever be so scared as to back out of a battle.

“Even so, aren’t they just soft light cavalry? If it’s trash like that, who cares if they have four or five times our numbers?”

“And it’s not like we have to fight them until we’re all dead. We just have to cause some chaos and come back. Our captain always has too much to say.”

Clark grinned as the veteran riders grumbled.

“Don’t resent me after you die, you crazy bastards.”

The infantrymen standing beside them and listening in on the conversation looked puzzled at the overconfident words of the riders. They were treating the dangerous battle against four times their number like a casual walk around the village.

“It’s like you have three lives.”

The commander of the 22nd Regiment expressed his admiration at the cavalry when they claimed they would crush the enemy’s spirit before they could even reach the allied defenses, and he offered his encouragement.

“If we only had three lives, we’d all already be dead. Considering we’re still around, we seem to have a few more.”

The regimental commander once again showed admiration when Clark smiled and responded.

“You’re really out of your minds. You and your company commander. You’re really not normal.”

“If being crazy is a requirement for becoming a rider, I can assure you that we have the greatest group of lunatics in the kingdom right here.”

“And the craziest among them is probably your company commander.”

Come to think of it, Seon-Hyeok was nowhere to be seen.

“Well, he doesn’t have any intention of dying today, so I’m sure he’s doing this because he’s confident.”

However, Clark and the regimental commander didn’t think this was strange. They just exchanged meaningful smiles, as though they were plotting something.

“One cavalry regiment approaching!”

“Prepare to fire!”

The regimental commander readied his archers upon hearing the message shouted by the soldier on top of the watchtower. The archers standing by behind the wooden barricades leaned back to ready their bows.

“Shoot one volley in unison, and after that, fire at will. Your targets will be determined by your captains.”

Once the archers were ready, the regimental commander looked at the Drake Cavalry and lightly bowed.

“I hope we can see each other alive again.”

Instead of answering, Clark lowered his head and lined up the cavalry. The riders, standing at the entrance in preparation to leave at a moment’s notice, breathed heavily.

“Don’t be nervous, you bastards. Stop acting so cowardly in front of the infantry.”

At that moment, the enemy began to pick up their speed. They circled around the wooden barricades as if trying to gauge the range of the Adenburg archers, and this circle grew increasingly smaller.

“Fire!”

When the regimental commander felt they had entered arrow range, he shouted, and the archers released their bowstrings.

Twang!

With that, the battle began with a volley of arrows.

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