Now, in the early summer, the sun was fiercely beating down on the earth.
“Damn, even the sun seems to hate us. Why is it so hot?”
“It’s early summer, Corporal Max. It would be strange if it weren’t hot.”
“If only we could wage war in the cool autumn.”
My infantry was chatting about how hot it was, how they wanted sex, and how they planned to confess to their lovers next month when the war was over, and they were discharged.
In contrast to the relatively relaxed infantry, the crossbowmen and mages on the hill were very busy.
“Idiot! I told you to stick all the arrows in the ground! Get rid of the quiver! Or strap it to your shoulder!”
“What are you doing, crossbowman, without placing your pavise in front of you?”
“I’ll correct it! I’ll correct it!”
“Hurry up! Hurry and load, and check if things like the goat’s foot lever are working!”
While doing so, the crossbowmen pre-loaded their crossbows, and the mages checked if their staffs, the tools for casting spells, were functioning properly.
Officers and non-commissioned officers emphasized sticking arrows into the ground and prepared to fire at least 30 shots per soldier.
“Idiots! Tighten your helmet straps and tuck your body tightly inside the shield when you crouch!”
“Just shoot well and survive, that’s all!”
“You know, if you’re shooting arrows and the knights approach, grab your pavise and fall back, right?!”
While the officers were repeatedly drumming into the soldiers’ heads what they had to do, sometimes kicking their shins, a soldier shouted in a very loud voice,
“The enemy crossbowmen and magicians are within 300 meters!”
As soon as these words were spoken, the officers and NCOs who had been scolding the soldiers, along with the soldiers themselves, quickly loaded their arrows and aimed at a 45-degree angle toward the enemy.
I lifted my baton and swung it from top to bottom, issuing commands.
“Usually, we advance while being hit by arrows, but now it’s different! Cover your heads with the boards made from pavises and doors we prepared yesterday! Also, stick close behind the hill!”
Covering their heads with boards significantly reduces the chance of fatal injuries from arrows, and sticking close to the hill could block a frontal attack.
“Advance forward! Advance forward!”
“Put down your spears for now and lift the shields over your heads!”
“Not only your life but also the lives of your superiors and subordinates next to you depend on the shield you’re holding!”
To avoid being hit by an arrow, I dismounted from my horse and hid under a shield with the soldiers.
“Now! Fire arrows and magic at them!”
“When loading or casting spells, hide under the shield, then quickly stand to shoot and hide again swiftly!”
“The one who survives is the strongest!”
The long-range battle began in earnest, and the sound of mages chanting spells could be heard from the hill right in front of us.
After about two minutes,
“Prepare for arrows and magic! Prepare for arrows and magic!”
Along with the warning of long-range attacks, I felt the impact of an arrow hitting the shield I was holding.
“Without the shield, I would have been dead. Filthy bastards.”
“Just hold on a little longer. We will win. Hang in there.”
Though occasionally I heard soldiers and officers getting hit and killed by arrows or magic that penetrated the shields, it seemed like there were no significant casualties among the soldiers of our brigade, including those of the Reich Imperial Army.
However, we couldn’t let our guard down, as we were expected to exchange arrows and magic with the enemy to a tiresome extent.
I spent a very long time under the shield, praying for the long-range attack to end.
“The Francois crossbowmen and mages are retreating!”
“Shoot! Shoot!! Kill at least one more!”
“Revenge for Otto!!”
At the same time, as all the infantry stood up, removing their shields, tens of thousands of soldiers’ arrows flew at once towards the enemy.
Exaggerating a bit, it felt like even the sun was completely obscured by the arrows, as if we were under a shade.
The soldiers, who were about to be unilaterally hit by the arrows and magic, were doing their best to run away and avoid the barrage of arrows.
“Aargh! You crazy bastards!”
“Don’t look back, just run!”
“Don’t think of blocking! You can’t block them, you idiots!”
As we gained the upper hand in the long-range battle, the infantry were inwardly rejoicing.
The enemy knights began to charge from hundreds of meters away towards our location slowly.
At this point, unless we shot a siege weapon, our attack wouldn’t reach them, and the earth trembled with each step of the 15,000 Francois knights’ horses.
It was like a continuous, mild earthquake, as faint vibrations traveled up from the ground we were standing on.
Naturally, this shaking only intensified as the enemy knights approached the side where the Reich Empire’s infantry were.
I’ve blocked lance charges several times as an infantryman, but the tension of extending a spear and defending against an enemy that charges like a tank on horses weighing over 500kg never gets familiar.
I was so tense just watching from behind, so the fear and tension felt by the soldiers and junior officers at the front must be several times greater than mine.
“Damn, damn. Can I really return alive? I can’t see well hidden behind that hill, but I have to block the charge of more than 15,000 knights.”
“Hey, moron, shut up. Do you think you’re the only one scared and panicking?”
“Damn. These days, the new recruits don’t get disciplined enough, so they yap like that. We’ll see when we get back.”
It was obvious. The one swearing and scared was a newbie, and the one telling him to shut up was likely a private first class or a corporal.
Harassing the privates to make them forget the fear of the enemy through the fear of their superiors.
Someone trying to ensure that each person could hold their spear and fulfill their role in the battle was probably a sergeant or a non-commissioned officer.
At that moment, a military police lieutenant, acting as a provost officer, came up to me and inquired through his gaze whether we should execute a few to maintain discipline.
“Killing a few here would only lower morale.”
As I said, unnecessary friendly fire would make troops think the commander had lost his mind rather than enforcing strict discipline.
Moreover, even the invincible navy under General Yi Sun-shin would have been decimated in a single battle under a mad commander.
The soldiers also knew that there was no chance of winning under any circumstances, so it would only serve to crush their morale.
While waiting in this boiling tension, I heard murmuring among the crossbowmen and magicians in front of us.
“Tilt the crossbows at a 45-degree angle and aim! If you don’t know what 45 degrees is, look at the guys next to you and follow them!”
“Hitting them with even one more shot increases our chances of winning!”
“Stop messing around and think about each shot!”
When that order was given, the crossbowmen began to grumble, seeing the commanders making three times more fuss than usual.
Their bodies, which were trained hundreds or thousands of times in loading, could aim faster depending on the intensity of the commanders’ urging.
Perhaps, even in the fear of facing the knights head-on, the skills ingrained through repetitive training were naturally coming into play.
Seeing this, I thought it would help our defense to find out the extent of the enemy’s momentum just before the clash.
“I’ll go up the hill for a moment to check the momentum of the enemy knights! I’ll be back before they reach us, so don’t worry.”
After saying that, I climbed the hill three meters high and looked down at the enemy.
The sight of an enormous number of knights—over ten thousand—clad in shining silver armor with rainbow-colored banners (flags attached to lances) fluttering, charging in a well-organized formation.
And they were shouting loud enough to be heard from hundreds of meters away.
“Montjoie Saint Denis!”
Essentially, those who had been excommunicated and were practically heretics were invoking the name of a saint of Deus’ religion, praying for victory.
Let’s see whose side Deus would take and who would be granted victory.
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