|Author: Kobayashi Homare
|Original Source: Syosetu
|Word Count: 4111 characters
|English Source: Re:Library
|Word Count: 1799 words
After rolling for a bit, Barbaros’ head finally came to a stop. There was not a single sound around, even though this was a battlefield. Only for a short time though, the black knights began panicking.
“I can’t believe she got Barbaros!”
“Let’s get away! We don’t stand a chance if he couldn’t!”
The black knights had been mostly picked from gangs and street hooligans, instead of being trained soldiers, so they quickly turned around trying to escape. But a formation of proper soldiers was blocking their path. If they really thought of each other as allies, they would have tried to find another way out, but in their confusion and desperation they started attacking their own army.
“O-out of the way! Don’t try to stop us!”
“Ghahh?! What are you doing?!”
“We can’t run away with you in the way!”
Everyone seemed to turn on everyone. I had taken care of the majority of black knights, but there were still around two hundred left. Still, they were strong enough to easily kill any regular soldier in their way. Helping out the enemy army would have been a good option for the country’s future, but something else was even more important. The enemy army fell into disarray as the majority of their trump card, the black knights and their leader, had died. The portion of the army that had made it to my allies was probably also taken care of by now. The tides of battle were turning, and as everyone tried to find their way out of the confusion, I headed to accomplish my original goal.
“Is that him..?”
I flew into the air and surveyed the enemy army. I spotted a small group that detached from the main army and began escaping. The only person who would abandon his army and attempt saving himself in this situation was Stied. If they were cowardly soldiers, they would have run on their own, not with so many guards.
“Time for retribution!”
I fixed my gaze on the enemy’s leader and flew towards him at full speed.
“Don’t lower your guard! Keep your eyes on the sky too!”
The prince had been confident sending Barbaros to battle, but he was quickly defeated and the army fell to disarray. Though to be precise, it only got so chaotic because Barbaros’ defeat was such a blow to the prince that he instantly attempted to abandon the army. Lapis was truly overwhelming our army, but that was only in a small focused point, overall we still had the upper hand. Our advantage in numbers was starting to push back against the enemy army in the frontlines, and if we kept Lapis distracted for a bit longer she would have no army left to protect. But even then…
“Faster! Just kill whoever gets in the way! Open a way to escape! Everyone else should stay behind to distract her!”
I felt like Prince Stied could not stoop any lower than this, it was truly a shameful sight. There were still many of our allies fighting for their lives, but he wanted to throw it all away just to save himself? He always acted so high and mighty, was it so hard for him to stand firm now? I felt like an idiot for thinking he would act his age for once. There was no point in protecting someone like that. But I was a sworn knight. I vowed to protect him with my life!
“Magicians, join the Prince’s bodyguards! We have to bring him safely to the capital!”
A young knight approached me on his horse. He had just left the battlefield, the adrenaline from fighting still in him, his breath quick and face flushed red.
“Sir, please give the order to attack! If the remaining cavalry and I charge into the enemy’s army we might be able to create an opening in their defenses. That should buy you enough time for the Prince to retreat!”
“Are you stupid?! I refuse to use you as scapegoats in this senseless battle!”
Amongst soldiers and knights, there were always some kids like that. It was like only their bodies had matured, but their mind remained like a child’s yearning to become heroes, refusing to understand the danger of death and always willing to give up their life. The main job of us veterans was to hold their reins and stop them. No matter how naive they were now, they would always become splendid knights with time.
“Fall back with the Prince! I’ll go with the rear guard! That’s an order!”
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He seemed willing to protest at first, but then he recalled orders from his superior are absolute, so he swallowed his words and fell back. Us oldies would keep them safe, we would not allow anything to pass… As soon as I thought that, disaster struck from the sky.
She flew faster than our arrows, easily dodging them and going past the archers and magicians, crashing into the group of knights keeping the Prince safe. There was an explosive sound and a large dust cloud. Just by her crashing into them, half the knights around the Prince were knocked out.
“This is bad! Everyone who can still fight, follow me!”
She would get to the Prince soon. He might be a despicable person, but he was still our leader. We had to keep him alive no matter what. I whipped my horse and rushed towards them.
“You must be Stied.”
After I crashed into the fleeing group, all of Stied’s guards were blown away and I held the person with the showiest clothes and armor by the neck. He tried to shake me off, flailing his arms around, but it was impossible for someone who had never trained to push me away. Just one hand was enough to keep him restrained.
“Let go of him!”
I swung my sword with my hand, as if I was about to kill Stied, which made everyone freeze. That was enough confirmation that I had the right guy. There was a small chance it was all a distraction, but I doubted they had any time to rehearse something like that. It was safe to assume I was holding Stied. His cheeks were red with anger, and he desperately tried complaining but could only flap his lips voicelessly. He probably wanted to beg for his life, and I decided to relieve a bit of pressure from his neck.
“B-b̲a̲s̲t̲a̲r̲d̲! Do you know who I am?! I’m this country’s new king! Release me and kneel! I might spare your life if you do so!”
I was left speechless hearing that drivel, even the soldiers nearby were left baffled. His pride was so inflated he failed to realize the dilemma he was in, it was kind of impressive in a way. The only downside was that his brain was too small to justify such an attitude.
“Okay, you’re an idiot, I know. I’m already tired of your voice, but I need to ask some questions. Depending on how you answer I might decide to postpone your execution.”
“How dare you speak that way! I’m-”
I squeezed his neck again, forcing him to keep silent, then tried asking again.
“The leader of those black knights, Barbaros, used to be Leble’s hero. Does that mean you joined hands with Leble?”
“Did she say Leble?!”
“Why them, of all people..?”
“I knew that name sounded familiar from somewhere…”
My question produced multiple reactions from the soldiers and knights. If that was true, then Stied had committed a grave crime, treason. He stood as the country’s ruler, supposedly protecting the country, yet he willingly invited a foreign treat. All the deaths in the battlefield had been completely unnecessary. Everyone who at first wanted to save Stied, looked at him with doubt now, and I slackened my grip again.
“S-so what! Yes I had their help, but they’d just leave when I’m done, so what’s the problem?! Didn’t I already get rid of my enemies with the black knights?! With me on the throne Bordaule would be reborn! Not even Leble would be a threat! You should just shut up and do as I say!”
The doubtful stares turned into hostile ones. He could speak all grandiose and prideful, but nothing he said made sense. Even if the black knights gave him a victory, did he really think Leble would silently pull back? That was impossible. Quite the opposite, the battle would leave Bordaule weakened and vulnerable, so they would just sweep in and take our land. And all the black knights would instantly turn against Stied. That was how it always ended when someone made deals with an enemy country.
“Your Highness…I never expected that from you…”
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One of the knights looked at Stied enraged. Any respect or honor for Stied was gone from his eyes, replaced by scorn and disgust.
“Why are you looking at me like that… Hey, Tannux! Why are you standing there like an idiot, come and save me! You useless old man!”
“…I refuse. You might be a prince, but anyone who betrays the country shall receive the death penalty. That’s clearly written in the law. I won’t let you claim you were ignorant of that fact. And there’s no self-respecting knight that would ever defend a traitor!”
Now it was Stied who was left for words. There was no one left who wanted to help Stied. Everyone had turned their backs on him. Stied kept looking around in desperation as I forced him down on the ground.
“Killing you here is easy enough, but things are a bit more complicated with Leble involved. I’ll restrain you here, and the law will deal with you. Do you all agree with that?!”
I held Stied down as I asked the knights and soldiers. Everyone hung their heads down, biting their lips in frustration. The only one who spoke was an older knight, who Stied had called Tannux.
“Seeing what this has come to, there’s no meaning in us continuing this war. Lapis, we’re retreating.”
With Stied out of the picture, it seemed like Tannux was the next one in command. He quickly gathered the nearby soldiers and told them to spread word of the orders to retreat.
“Good, now it’s my turn.”
I also had a signal to give out, creating a bright and large ball of light, which I shot high into the sky. A blind flash spread through the sky some time later. That was the signal I agreed on with my allies, to show I had captured Stied. The battle was over.