The archers immediately switch to firing at the back of the soldiers who’re still protecting themselves from the hail I’m blowing in their faces. A half-dozen of them fall and they finally realize that there are now archers firing at them from behind.
“Push!” I urge the two low born squads but only the one to my left presses the attack while those in front of me hesitate.
Of the twenty soldiers left, a third turns to charge the archers but Rowland lion’s steps to block them with his bastard sword held in both hands. Nahl begins pressuring their now thinned lines with the claymore while Uhla throws her sword at a woman who receives it in the head.
She grabs two of our injured peasants by their clothes and drags them to the back. With my construct’s harassment, Rowland as well as the archers attacking one side while Nahl pressures the other, the peasants finally recover from their panicked retreat and get back to the attack.
Our formation is overwhelmingly more favorable than theirs but they have shields that allow them to focus entirely on defense. After a few tens of seconds without casualties, I notice that the Noble didn’t run far and is using the fact Rowland is no longer going after him to charge the archers.
“Idali!” I call out as she crouches down to charge. “To me!”
While she rises back up, I burn the rest of the energy in a burst of wind that shreds the hands of a handful of soldiers. Idali leaps back and lands by my side, allowing me to quickly wrap four portions of flow around her torso.
“Go, my minion, spread your metaphorical wings and fly to your destiny!” I cheerfully exclaim as I propel her over the fighters’ heads with kinetic force.
“Wench! At least give me real wings if you’re going to admit I have none when you throw me!” She screams in protest as she flies off.
Metaphorical tears forms in the corner of my eyes at my minion’s dedication, loyalty, and enthusiasm. Idali bats her arms and legs as she barrels towards the Noble charging with his war-hammer held overhead.
She thrusts out with her Vuskyt spear and hits the man in the heart, throwing him off his saddle just as his weapon falls. It impacts a peasant’s shoulder instead of his head and that of the woman right next to him.
The horse, on the other hand, keeps charging and bumps in the backs of the archers. The one who now has a broken shoulder falls flat on his face while another two stumble forward, the woman loses her grip on her bow while the other loses his hold on his arrow and bowstring.
The projectile flies off, past Rowland’s head to cut the ear of a soldier and land square in Nahl’s chest to be stopped by his hard leather armor reinforced by a defensive construct.
As I prepare to call for surrender since Idali took out their Liege, the Noble barely deflects a follow-up stab from Idali with his war-hammer. I frown, the soldiers are surrounded from three sides and outnumbered but this still isn’t going all too well.
“Work together to break their shield-wall!” I bark.
While my words make it through their ears to their brains, I decide to act to break the stalemate. I draw a portion of flow and snap it into a lion’s leap to flash past Flo towards the Mirus’ frightened soldiers.
I apply another portion to my palm as I slam it into a shield and direct the kinetic force through it. My hand stops dead on impact but the soldier flies off to crash into those protecting his back, his rib-cage caved in. I crouch to dodge a counter-slash and leap back.
As I land, and the peasants exploit the two holes I made in their lines with their spears, I spot a squad of cavalry that appears from the east with arrows planted in their wooden kite shields reinforced by hardened leather.
These ten Nobles likely traveled along this side of the river and hid behind the ruins when they could. It seems like I’ve succeeded more than I expected at making their General over-commit to me.
He clearly felt so strongly his troops would win he sent reinforcements without a single clue about what happened or waiting for a report. Idali flicks her Vuskyt spear up to deflect a blow from the Noble’s war-hammer and slams the handle into the man’s nose.
As blood spurts from his face and the man tries to step back, she uses her symbiont to flash past him using a blind-spot. She raises her spear overhead and spins it around to thrust it under her left armpit, impaling the Lord from behind. She then turns to the squad of riders to charge them.
“Rowland, Nahl, go help her!” I command as I send them each five portions of flow.
The two store the energy in their gourds and immediately disengage without trouble to themselves or the peasants thanks to the fact the enemy formation is crumbling.
The lack of bodies to fill the gaps in their lines to hold back the fourteen peasants as well as defend from the nine archers firing at them is proving deadly and causing soldiers to drop like flies.
With this part of the battle mostly under control, I keep my attention on Idali as she crouches with her right leg behind and propels herself straight at the rider. She has such speed that her thrusts goes through both the horse’s head and the rider’s chest.
Her Vuskyt spear is, of course, ripped out of her hands as she impacts the horse’s side while it drops dead. She does manage to bounce herself off it and have her symbiont stomp on the ground with enough force to send herself over the lance that the following Noble tries to kill her with.
Her left knee smashes the Lord’s face, mostly by accident, and they both fall in a clump behind the mount. In fear for her life as a Lady at the back of the group pulls on her reins to go after her, I reach out to the flow stored in Rowland’s gourd and link to it.
Thankfully, he didn’t completely seize control of it and allows me or I wouldn’t be able to do this. I draw the energy out and shape an air-needle that I launch at the woman’s back.
The construct gets past her chain-mail but stops dead on her hard leather armor so, with a thought, I released the compressed air and set fire to it. The woman panics and jumps off her horse to deal with flames that have already burnt out.
This gives Idali enough time to kill the Noble whose nose she shattered by elbowing his skull again. Nahl slams his claymore into a horse, causing it to wildly veer off to the side and block another two.
The three work together to effectively turn their charge into a melee and then a complete clusterfuck of horses as well as human limbs flying around. My minions do manage to stop them in the street, preventing them from interfering.
Shit. I notice four soldiers suddenly charge out towards the archers, leaving three injured behind. During my minion’s fight, the peasants picked off soldier after soldier until their numbers dwindled to a mere handful. The issue is that I wasn’t paying close enough attention and their suicidal charge might double our casualties.
Hm? My hand snaps to my waist to seize two broadsword hilts between four fingers. Just do this. She flicks our arm back with more strength than I could muster without a construct and then hangs back as if to wind up our spine.
She uses a full body lion strike to unwind, stomping forward to launch the weapons at the soldiers’ backs while adjusting their trajectory with three thin filaments of flow. The short broadsword impales one straight in his neck while the other impacts the other in the small of her back. Easy.
No, I don’t think anyone else can do this, sister, at least not within a split second’s reaction time. That’s because they think, don’t do that. I let out a small laugh as the archers focus their fire on the remaining two soldiers and turn them into cheap pincushions.
“Charge and end these Nobles!” I bellow.
“Yaah!” Flo yells with a few of her people.
The peasants charge out with their spears brought forth. I smile as I walk up to my weapons and jerk them out of the two dead soldiers. The Nobles, who used much of their reserves of energy on their armors to block my assaulting minions, struggle to hold them back.
It doesn’t help that half kept their lances to try to exchange blows with Nahl and Idali to now be faced with a swarm of fifteen peasants supported by arrows. It would be easier for them to deal with if the pushed their mounts forth with their swords.
“For the Queen!” One yells out and his cry is picked up.
Idali suddenly launches at the Lord facing her with his lance, her silhouette blurring as she leaps past him to thrust her Vuskyt spear in and out of his throat. I’m more than certain the maneuver wouldn’t be possible without the symbiont’s cool substance that makes it feel like time is slower.
The man, looking dazed, looks to his left and right as blood streams out of his neck. He soon drops. As his body hits the ground, Idali leaps at the back of another Noble to impale her from behind.
The five who still have a mount try to charge past Nahl but he executes three of their horses in a single beastly swing of his claymore, proving that being average in size isn’t a detriment to effectiveness.
They lose another of theirs to a clever counter from Rowland who flicks aside a sword with a perfectly calculated amount of force that leaves his sword in a perfect position for a thrust to the heart.
Three peasants cooperate to kill two Nobles lying on the ground by poking at them until their spears find their way into their bellies. This is the last straw for the Nobles who turn tail one after the other, the two who still have a mount leave the others in the dust.
Flo slams her spears in between the legs of a Lord, causing the man to slam head-first into the ground. Her move is imitated by two peasants who each trip a Noble who are then swarmed by the rest and promptly executed.
A volley of arrows rises and falls on the retreating riders, injuring the shoulder and waist of one while the other somehow takes two arrows in the inside of his thigh.
The two survive and manage to flee over the bridge while the peasants execute the injured with blood-thirst similar to what Mirus’ soldiers showed when they thought they were winning.
“Die! Die! Die!” They exclaim.
Rowland notices the spectacle first but stays silent despite his grit teeth. Idali dismisses the show with a shrug but still looks away. Uhla is at the back healing our most injured and doesn’t catch on. Nahl’s expression falls and turns greenish at the gory spectacle of spears being repeatedly thrust in the bodies.
“Enough!” Nahl calls out without effect.
“Order!” I bark, estimating they’ve let out their fears enough to keep going. It takes a moment but they stop stabbing. “We’re going to operate as reinforcements now, you have two minutes to rest!”
Of the fourteen that made it out of this skirmish with light injuries, half drop to their ass on the spot and one lands in a puddle of blood. I notice that there are a few loose mounts that stayed around as my three minions head over, Nahl and Rowland holding their weapons out to each other.
“Keep them.” I stop them. “You’re not aggressive enough Nahl, the claymore helps with it and Rowland’s going to bust his shoulder again if he continues using it recklessly like he has, not to mention the bastard sword keeps him somewhat defensive.” They sigh and take back their weapons.
“Remember when you stripped me naked and left me unconscious in an alley?” Idali cuts in to ask rhetorically. “Being thrown was much, much, worse.” She tells me with a grin that contradicts her statement.
“That’s not the whole story, and you got the order wrong, I knocked you unconscious before stripping…” I pause because Rowland is making an odd face and Nahl is staring. “Okay, that definitely came out wrong.”
“Do you have a plan?” The ex-Templar questions with a serious frown, pettily preventing this discussion from devolving further.
“I do, go help Uhla wrap things up.” I order him. “Idali, Rowland, try to catch us five horses to ride.”
They split without wasting time like good minions. Flo walks up to me, there is now blood splatter decorating the dried mud sticking to her face. She raises her spear and slams the blunt end on the ground with a stern nod.
“Take the shields, leave the swords unless you have some training for them.” I tell her.
Flo nods, she heads off to grab two of the least injured to point them at the gear to pick up and distribute. It takes a few minutes for everyone to get their shit together enough I consider them ready to go.
“Up, we’re leaving!” I call out.
“Give us a minute.” One responds, speaking for most.
“We’re going on the attack until we capture their supplies.” I continue, ignoring the protest. My words cause most heads to perk up. “Whoever scores the most kills gets first pick at the food!”
The peasants jump to their feet like their asses are on fire with enthusiastic faces despite likely thinking that this is a tall ordeal. As I lead the troop out of the town, to the dismay of many, Rowland and Nahl catch up on horseback with the other two riding behind.
“The injured?” I ask.
“Sent them back to the headquarters.” Uhla replies.
“Alright.” I acknowledge. “You four are to lead the charge but dismount as soon as our lines clash.” I instruct.
“Was a meal really all you could promise them for risking their lives?” She questions with a disapproving expression.
“It’s what speaks to them at this moment, it’ll motivate them to stay alive.” I reply as I try not to get annoyed at her naivety. “They’re hungry and, to them, fighting for their next meal makes much more sense than to fight for coin they can’t spend or a future they simply can’t see hope for on this battlefield. Those in charge too often fail to understand that there is a difference between why someone enlists and why they keep fighting, speeches are only suitable at the start or end of a battle.”
She replies with a hesitant nod. Rowland and Nahl tap their mounts’ flanks to push them to the forefront as we leave the ruins to march alongside the river towards the east.
I hope that the enemy general witnesses us and understands the extent of his defeat. This should destabilize the arrogant Noble and possibly draw Siegfried out. I don’t use a fireball because, after three times, he would likely realize that it was all a trap from the start.
We quickly reach another entrance that gives into the ruins and encounter a skirmish where twenty soldiers occupying the street are trying to force their way into ruins defended by handfuls of peasants with shoddy spears.
“Arrows! Shields up! Cavalry charge!” I command.
The nine archers move to the center of the path and nock projectiles on their bowstrings while Nahl and Rowland launch their mounts forth. The peasants take a bit longer to set formation with the wooden shields they stole but manage to form a decent enough line.
“Infantry, advance!” I order.
The arrows fall on the back of the soldiers, causing multiple injuries but killing none. As they turn to face the threat, they witness two horses galloping at them and another volley of projectiles flying at them while two rows of peasants with spears begin their march.
Mirus’ soldiers try to form a shield-wall but, without even mentioning the harassment from the other rebel unit, they’re too bogged down in rubble to do so in time. The arrows drop, killing one by piercing through her right eye.
Nahl and Rowland use their longer weapons to carve a way through their ranks. In the back, Uhla and Idali use their weapons to finish off those they pass by. They’re so successful they kill seven of their foes and make it all the way to the other side of their ranks.
“Infantry, charge!” I bark.
“Yaaarrh!” Flo and her people scream out.
The peasants start running and almost immediately break their lines, ostensibly because most of them are struggling to manage both a shield and spear at the same time.
The rebels make contact, losing two while they kill four. They begin wavering and that’s when my four minions who have dismounted engage their back-line.
It seems like the soldiers are at the breaking point but they somehow manage to grit their teeth through it. If I had to guess, this is a result of ruthlessness from one side or the other convincing each that surrender will result in death.
“Archers, flank.” I order.
The squad drops their bows and draw the long knives at their waist to follow the command. They move in a single file in quite the show of discipline to sneak by the side of the street to join the battle.
The other unit is still harassing the soldiers but they aren’t committing nearly as much as my rebels, whether hesitant or fearful in nature, their decision shows they don’t want to risk their lives for a battle they deem winning.
This type of thinking is, in fact, a great way to lose a won battle. That fact is compounded by my troop’s use of shields which reduces their lethality compared to when they could hold their spears in both hands.
“Attack, break them!” I encourage as the archers fold into the fight.
The other unit grows more enthusiastic but remains standoffish. No matter, Nahl and Rowland suddenly bring down their weapons, splitting two skulls which opens a huge breach into the enemy ranks.
Idali suddenly flashes through and appears in the middle of their group. She thrusts her spear in a soldier’s back and then slams the butt of her weapon, still buried in the man, into the head of another. The two squads of soldiers fold like wet parchment and start running away.
“Kill!” Flo erupts.
As before, I decide not to immediately intervene despite deeming the chase pointless and unlikely to result in many kills in these ruins where one can climb, hide, or sprint off in any direction.
I’ve read that it’s best to let soldiers vent after a victory before pushing them towards the next. Although I’m relatively certain the writer was speaking about taking long breaks between battles rather than skirmishes, I think it applies here just fine.