92. Chapter 92 – The Illusion of Blue Flames
The chair in which Odilon de Meisenav sat was thrown to the ground and smeared with dust. His servants and guards would quietly put the chair back and carefully wipe off the dirt. Until just half an hour ago, such a scene had been the norm.
“Why!? Why couldn’t you stop the Highserk soldiers?!!”
In response to Odilon’s frustrated question, one of the retainers opened his mouth solemnly.
“Unfortunately, the common soldiers given to Viscount Barnes-dono were running to us all over the place, obstructing the movement of Master Diland’s troops heading for rescue. And those Highserk bumkins didn’t kill them, it seems that they’re trying to guide the rout direction.”
“Barnes!! You damn fool!! So, what happened to him!?”
One of the vassals said so, choking his voice for a moment.
“There’s been no news about him after last seen around the branch castle. Probably――”
Odilon’s side was now incredibly cornered. The bad news never stopped pouring in since a while ago.
Odilon put the chair out of the picture. There was no time to rest his hips, he must lift them and give orders.
Depending on how many soldiers and supplies one could gather during the peacetime preparation period compared to the enemy, victory would be decided. That was the basis of the strategy that Odilon, who was good at business and politics, had acquired, and it was supposed to be an unwavering truth. That idea was now crumbling.
“Viscount Louisan-dono, we’re being pushed. The formation is crumbling. At this rate, Edgar will break through it.”
“Don’t let them break through no matter what!! Send Baron Fanfahl to support.”
“A member of the main family, Diland-sama, had died in battle. The Highserk soldiers couldn’t be stopped!!”
“Diland was killed?! They’re only at most 500 men! What were the accompanying soldiers doing?! What are those regular soldiers for?!”
It was a mistake to send Diland, a member of the main family, to rescue the remnants of soldiers entrusted to Barnes. Odilon was bitterly regretting his decision.
While the castle was blazing with blue flames, only the Highserk soldiers reacted correctly to the situation. No, by now, it might be better to call it a trap. At least Odilon was convinced of it.
The attack on the branch castle was entering the final stage, and when it almost completely fell, that wide-range attack suddenly came up. After that, the Highserk soldiers rushed without hesitation, and the soldiers who had lost their leaders were harvested without even having time to rebuild themselves. Finally, the Highserk soldiers charged to the main camp.
At first glance, it looked like the end for Barnes’s soldiers. But, the Highserk soldiers guided the leftovers while killing them and saving some at the same time. While they were trying to hold on, Baron Josh sortied from the branch castle and attacked while linking their formation with the Highserk soldiers.
It was a move that shouldn’t be taken by Josh, the leader of a faction that was said to have a feud with the Highserk soldiers. Dissatisfaction and complaints about Highserk were delivered from the hidden scouts. But, even that, might be just a deception. After all, now, the attack came from two sides, and the Meizenav side was being driven into a corner.
Still, the advantage in number was still the same, and considering the degree of exhaustion, Odilon still had a chance to cross the winning line.
And for Odilon, who continued to ponder and give orders, favorable news had arrived.
“Orleane-sama, who was stuck with the mercenaries, had returned.”
One of the members of the main family called Orleane, was an excellent nephew who was tasked to monitor and give orders to a mercenary group that tended to run out of control.
“You’re alive? Good job in coming back. What happened at the branch cas… O-Orleane?
From a young age, Orleane continued to train his military arts and magic to support the Meizenav family. Despite his youth, he was appointed as the head of the Meizenav family’s martial arts group. After all, he had a bulky physique, intelligent brain, and abundant mana. And such a young man’s body had been severely burned.
“Healing magician, what are you doing!? Heal him, fast!”
Odilon urged the nearby healing magician, and the healing magician answered with a voice filled with impatience.
“Odilon-sama, I-I’ve done my best. Before coming here, Orleane-sama, he… I-I’m sorry, I can’t put his condition into words.”
Orleane then weakly opened his mouth to Odilon who looked speechless.
“I, rushed into, the branch castle, with the, mercenaries. The castle walls, and castle gates, were all under control, and with, Viscount Barnes, joining us, the victory, was supposed, to be, in our grasp. Until, “that”, showed.”
Orleane gasped with excitement and fear.
“Don’t force yourself”
Odilon held out Orleane’s hand to stop the conversation, but his sensible nephew shook it off.
“Uncle, that won’t do. I’ve, to talk about it, now.”
“Wearing a demon mask, “that thing”, caused hot wind, and blue flames, in the area. That’s all. The ones with a magical barrier, were dancing crazily, inside the flames. And the ones with poor mana, were dying, one by one. However, Viscount Barnes, and the mercenaries, who were trying to kill him, were annihilated… While I was running away, I listened, no, I was forced to listen to it. A laugh. The guy, who wrapped himself in the fire, wounded and killed, about 200 soldiers, in the surroundings, whether they were, his allies, or not, was just, laughing. My back, and my legs, were scorched, and roasted, while I was running away, with Viscount Barnes, but then, the Highserk soldiers, came, to attack us.”
Orleane quenched his thirst with the water bottle the healing magician handed him over, and continued his words, quickly.
“They were, laughing too. Shouting “The Fire of Hell Gate, The Demon Fire, The Remaining Fire of The War God, has returned to us, Highserk”. Viscount Barnes, was killed there, and I, took off all, my armor and weapon, and blended, into the line, of ordinary soldiers. Finally, I made it this far.”
After hearing from his nephew about what happened at the branch castle, Odilon and the other generals stood speechless. After all, the high-spirited and enthusiastic Orleane had become so fragile. Nevertheless, the content of the talk made others feel that they shouldn’t miss a single word.
“Understood. Leave the rest to me. I’ll take care of the enemy.”
Although Odilon wasn’t that good at military arts, he was also an aristocrat, a Count who had great influence in the area. So, he took the enemy of the scattered soldiers, preparing to avenge his nephew.
Odilon, who was about to make his move, was stopped by his nephew.
“No. Uncle, in order to repel, the fierce attack, and avoid being completely crushed, please, don’t gather, the soldiers, closely. That’s, their aim. If, you do that, if “that thing”, manifests blue flames again, everyone would die.”
“Oh, couldn’t you, hear it? That fanatical laughter, is approaching. They’re coming. Even if you’re called a coward, you should continue, your retreat, from here, now.”
Orleane, as madness and insanity came to his eyes, was dying and could die at any moment.
Twisted open his fingers that were in adhesion condition, he grabbed Odilon, on the neck.
“Do you want to be like this!?”
Looking closely, Odilon understood that there was still some intelligence left in those eyes. Leaving behind any of that, Orleane warned Odilon of the danger, even if it meant he would be ashamed.
“Orleane-sama, has gone insane!!”
“Put him to sleep. If he moves more than this, he would really die.”
“Let me go. Meizenav, would really be burned, by that blue flames.”
The held-down Orleane went on a rampage, and just like that, his consciousness was fading. Fortunately, he still continued to breathe, and so the healing magician continued to cast healing spells.
Suddenly, Odilon’s ears caught laughter. He suspected, that perhaps it was just a hallucination, but indeed, laughter could be heard. As if blessing something, as if cursing something, one thing was certain, it was clearly tinged with madness and steadily approaching.
Immediately, gathered vassals and summarized the latest situation. The battle line was greatly twisted like elegant steel that had been hammered between the hammers and anvils, but perhaps because of the fatigue caused by the series of battles, the enemy was unable to complete the twisting.
Still, the Highserk soldiers continued to approach, albeit slowly, yet surely.
The numbers were reaching an even point, and the whereabouts of the formidable magic user, who set ablaze the branch castle and many soldiers, was unknown. It was hard to believe that such a big attack could be used so many times―― But if, that was the case, and used in the correct situation, the damage would be even more than the branch castle. And even though now, they were just ghosts of the northern countries, the Highserk soldiers continued to fight tirelessly.
Believed to be a second-rate country, the soldiers of that country were far tougher than Meizenav’s regular soldiers. And now, the Meizenav soldiers were also frightened by the laughter, and their morale was getting low. Northern countries were said to not stop until they destroy their opponents, and as a result, three countries were destroyed in just one war.
Stupid people. Odilon used to mock them so.
They were a horrible existence that Odilon couldn’t understand even now after crossing blades with them. Were they insane because they were crazy from the root, or if it was the all-out war that made them crazy? Odilon couldn’t decide what was the right answer.
More so, the story of the blue flames that came from a soldier, who despite being in the middle of a battle, dared to be alone with many enemies, and still managed to give a serious effect on his soldiers. Odilon found it so absurd.
If Odilon threw everything away and gave it all for victory, the weakening Dalimarx coalition might have been repelled. But, compared to Edgar and Hadro, who were fascinated by the blue flame and risked their own lives to get the winning trophy, Odilon was caught in the illusion of the blue flame at the critical moment and couldn’t bet on the winning trophy. Thus, the results could be predicted.
“Vi-Viscount Louisan has been captured by the enemy!! Also, Baron Fanfahl has been defeated!!”
The trembling messenger’s words were terribly heavy.
Odilon’s whole body felt weak. Still, he managed to squeeze words.
“This battle, is our loss.”
With the news that was brought, the actions that the Meizenav family should take were decided.
“Escape Odilon-sama! Retainers, bring him to the main territory even if it costs your life.”
“We are going to be bait. Soldiers, give your all to stop them, and take them to be the guide to the Netherworld!!”
Meisenav had lost. Moreover, it was a crushing defeat.
Odilon grimaced in humiliation and admitted his defeat. Still, he didn’t despair. He could not.
The loss of military strength, reparations, and bail money would plague the finances of the Meizenav family for ten years or more. It wouldn’t possible to start a war outside of the main territory after this for a period of time. However, the Meizenav family hadn’t died. And even if they couldn’t launch a revenge battle in the remaining of Odilon’s life, they could save power and hand it over to the next generation and win. As long as they ended to be the winner, that should be fine, no matter when.
Odilon apologized from the bottom of his heart to the vassals who offered their loyalty. He resolved to bring back as many soldiers as possible, and reduce the number of prisoners of war as many as he could. That was Odilon’s duty as the defeated lord.
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