"Apologies for hiding it from you, Lisana," Alissanda said as he picked up a Stokian soldier by the head and tossed him over the wall. "It's not that I don't trust you, but I have a feeling that you're not in your usual state. Just in case, I had a magus use a glamor on me to let me tag along. I hope you can understand."
Lisana didn't respond immediately. She merely looked at him and paled.
He didn't think her reaction would be that strong and scratched his head awkwardly before he looked around in a rush.
Yet another Stokian who didn't know what was good for him charged over, but his target was the stunned Lisana. He didn't understand why there would be a woman on the battlefield, nor did he know why she was blanking out in the middle of a battle. However, that wouldn't stop him from killing her. No matter what it was with her, so long as she was wearing the Hockian uniform, it was his job to cull her.
Alissanda looked back at her and noticed she was still blanking out, so he sighed and swung Lunaminous towards the waist of that daft soldier.
"Lisana!" he said sternly, "Team Leader Lisana!"
She snapped out of it a few seconds later and saluted. "Yes, Sir!"
His voice turned cold. "Given your current state, I believe you've lost the ability to make rational decisions for the rest of this operation. Do you agree with that assessment?"
"I…" Her eyes reddened considerably. Not long ago, she had gone over this operation extensively, considering all possible outcomes and how to deal with them. She spent practically the whole night without any sleep.
A Stokian ambush had long been one of her many anticipated scenarios. She had run it over in her head multiple times and made all sorts of calculations to reach the conclusion that if the enemy were anticipating them, the smartest decision to make would be to retreat.
She had long envisioned such a scenario, but she didn't order the retreat in the end. She didn't know why, save for how she simply didn't want to disappoint Alissanda any more, even if it came at the cost of many lives. No matter what, she didn't want to see his disappointed expression ever again.
So, despite all her hesitation, she wasn't able to order the retreat. Even if she had to tough it through, she no longer wanted to let her prince down, because she would lose everything if that was the case.
In the end, she settled on stubbornly fighting on instead of haggardly escaping back to camp with her tail between her legs, because that was tantamount to proving that she was of no use to him. She didn't even dare to imagine the deeper implications of that.
However, she had made a mess of everything in the end. She knew that even if they could take the gates, that didn't mean they could keep it defended long enough.
With the elite warriors' help, taking the gates wasn't that hard a task. They were the bravest and strongest fighters in Goldeagle, after all. While they weren't worth as many as a hundred men like Alissanda, they could at least take two or three times their number.
Her team was quite a huge threat to the enemy. Even if the Stokians had long been prepared for a siege, she didn't doubt her team could take the gates if they made up their minds.
But that wasn't the main issue. Rather, it all depended on whether they could hold the gates until the main Hockian force arrived. If the officers in Fort Kesta had predicted a fierce attack, they would definitely have endless reinforcements waiting to take the walls back.
The southerners had experienced how terrifying the barbarians could be after the war reignited during spring. That was why even if the officers in the fort knew that taking the gates back from the Hockian elites would cost them a lot, they still wouldn't hesitate to pay the price.
Instead, she was most worried about the Stokian counterattack. She was confident she could take the gates, but she knew they wouldn't be able to defend it from the rabid attacks of the defenders.
When she made that decision, she made up her mind to sacrifice the lives of many.
Knowing that, Alissanda knew that she had lost the basic ability to make judgments and relieved her of command.
Still pale, Lisana nodded and said, "I… I accept your judgment, Sir. I'll give you command over the team. I…"
He looked at her and casually stroked her head. "It's better if you head back. You've been acting rather abnormal. I'll be worried to keep you here."
She didn't respond and merely stood there. It was as if her soul was absent.
Seeing her like that, he knew that whether she'd make it back to camp safely was uncertain, to say nothing of fighting enemies.
He sighed and ruffled her pink hair. "Even though I don't know what you're thinking, follow me!"
She looked up at him in confusion.
"Just stick to me," he said in a serious tone, "I'll… I'll make sure you don't come to any harm."
"I understand." She didn't notice the concern he had for her and merely followed him around like a puppet.
You silly girl… he thought when he saw her expression. Stretching his left hand out to hug her, he began swinging Lunaminous with his right.
While he had one hand occupied and hugging Lisana tight, he didn't really mind. He sent his impetus gushing at an enemy that leaped towards him.
"Brave warriors of the empire!" he yelled as he fought, "Fight on and take this gate! I am with you!"
While he didn't announce his name, the members of Goldeagle were all too familiar with their former commander's voice from how often he went into battle with them.
After hearing about Alissanda's unexpected participation, the knights suddenly seemed agitated. While Jast was their new commander, that didn't diminish the worship they had for Alissanda one bit.
After all, he was the youngest and best-performing commander the unit had ever had since its inception. If Goldeagle used to be a unit of elite soldiers, after he took over, they became legends. And every single one of the knights of the brigade was part of that myth!
That was the reason behind their blind loyalty and confidence in their former commander. Almost everyone believed that so long as he was there with them, they would definitely win. During the years he commanded the brigade, they had never tasted defeat!
"Kill!" all the knights cried, waving their weapons in hand and charging fearlessly into their enemies.
Some ten minutes later, they finally got a firm foothold and enough space in the fort.
Even so, it still wasn't an optimistic situation. Most of the walls were still in Stokian hands and numbered a few times more than their own. The Hockian team could only gain temporary control over the main gate. Given that it would take quite some time for the main force to arrive, they definitely wouldn't be able to hold the gate long enough for that.
More pressingly, if the gates were taken back by the Stokians when the Hockian main force was halfway there, the ones inside the fort would be completely surrounded. By then, they would lose far more than a few elite warriors!
Alissanda observed the situation and made up his mind. He let the blanked out Lisana go and took out a spatial stone from his dimensional pocket as he mumbled, "Sometimes, I think her help is far more important than yours, Leguna…"
"Come, Miss Annelotte, please help me out." He used his power to activate the stone and caused a five-meter-wide portal to appear.Previous Chapter Next Chapter