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Sunday, June 04, 2006
18.104.22.168. The Wheel Turns Again
The next day, Robert requests for a transfer to Rael’charon to be reassigned under Duke Walthorn, and it’s granted at once because Rael’charon only ‘borrowed’ Robert from Walthorn and he knew this would happen. And just as Robert predicted, Arcadia declares war against Lore – but it’s earlier: two weeks after Robert’s transfer. So Robert has barely had time to report for duty to Walthorn in Varestine and return with Walthorn to the capital with the Duchy of Walfront army. Lore was also prepared for this war, thanks to Walthorn and Rael’charon’s advices and quick preparation. Robert doesn’t have neither time nor chance to say goodbye to Eloise, and immediately sets out to war as a scout and spy to provide extensive information about the Arcadian army – how many troops are there, about encampment and location, route of supplies, morale, the leaders of the army, army maneuvers, etc. Lore’s advance force consists of six thousand spears, two thousand archers and one thousand and five hundred cavaliers. And they must intercept the Arcadian army of twelve thousand spears, three thousand archers and artillery and four thousand cavaliers at the Ingram Coast. So its 9500 Lorean advances plus seven thousand in the main army – total 16,500 men against 19,000 Arcadians led by the crown prince, Alexis Deveraux, a superbly powerful general at only 20 years of age. The advance forces led by Duke Walthorn and ‘The Four Pillars’ reach the Ingram Coast before the Arcadian ships land, and they meet the coast guards all ready with their catapults and ballistae. When the Arcadian ships are in range, Walthorn signals the attack. Giant ballista bolts and large boulders are showering from the sky, only sinking 19 ships and damaging 60 ships in five volleys. The Arcadians come in 230 ships consists of small caravels, medium galleons and large man-‘o-wars, all sailing in loose formation – so it’s a lot easier to avoid ballistae and catapults. So the Arcadians successfully reach the shore, and the armies clash in rows. The loose ship formation has its weakness too. The army reaches the shore in long intervals and small groups, so the vanguards in the front most ships become sitting ducks for Lorean archers. But the vanguards are generally the best and fiercest soldiers with greater survivability. The vanguards alone can force Walthorn to send his infantry, while the artillery keeps firing to the ships at sea, sinking 24 more ships and damaging many more. Duke Walthorn and the Loreans deliver a terrific defense, and they are winning at first. But as more ships reach the shore, the Arcadians prove to be far more superior in numbers than the defenders. At last Walthorn is forced to abandon the artillery and flees with the army to Alceste. The Lorean ships come too late, only the fleet in Wagnerport is active – and they are soon being forced to flee with heavy losses. The situation is bad for the Loreans, and The Arcadians initiate a full pursuit. Lord Walthorn and ‘The Four Pillar Generals’ – Sir Mallard, Sir Patrick, Sir Eldric and Lady Irene choose to cover up the retreat and to keep the troops’ morale high. Soon, Alexis’ troops catch up with them and Walthorn and ‘The Four Pillar Generals’ fight them fiercely while retreating. Then the red-haired Arcadian commander-in-chief, Alexis catches up with Walthorn. Alexis shouts, ‘Well, Lord Walthorn! You surely fight like a lion!’ Walthorn lands a killing blow on an Arcadian soldier, and turns to see Alexis. Seeing this opportunity to kill the commander-in-chief, Walthorn challenges Alexis into a single combat, saying... ‘And you fight like an eagle, prince. I’m surely eager to try your skills here and now!’ ‘Fight between the lion and the eagle. What a spectacle!’ Alexis draws his twin swords, Im’htaloc and Im’colath and charges forward with his black horse Darkwind, and then Walthorn follows suit with his trusty steed Paeldagrin. They clash – sword with sword, sword with shield. Although Walthorn is much older than Alexis, he can still fight evenly with the red-haired prince in the red armor. The first round ends with a draw. Alexis and Walthorn keep a distance between them for a while to restore their strength, and then they charge again. This time they fight more fiercely, still mounting their horses and launching their deadly moves. This time Alexis is losing – and Walthorn keeps on pressurizing him with quicker and heavier blows like Three-Point Chain Slash and Power Bash combination and inflicts some more injuries on Alexis – as though this old warrior never tires. In this critical moment, When Alexis bends to evade a blow; he takes out some kind of powder stored in a pouch behind the saddle, and then throws the blinding powder on Paeldagrin’s eyes. The horse suddenly reacts and jumps on the spot, making Duke Walthorn fall head-first on the ground. Walthorn’s heavy armor puts a pressure on his head, breaking his neck. Duke Walthorn was slain in the battle. The Loreans are thunderstruck. But they are too panicked to catch Alexis cheating. The troops’ morale drop at once and they flee haphazardly before ‘The Four Pillars’ can do anything about it.
Meanwhile Robert, by Duke Walthorn’s order reaches the Marlham Palace to request reinforcements to aid the retreating advance force. He finds King George, Rael’charon and the generals in an emergency meeting. After Robert presented the report and request, the king replies. The king replies, ‘Very well then. Sir Alaric, Sir Barnaby and Sir Tylitch, go with 3,000 troops and 200 cavaliers and aid Duke Walthorn! Go, and make haste!’ Sir Alaric, Sir Barnaby and Sir Tylitch salute the king – bow their heads with their hands on their chests – and go at once. Rael’charon then salutes and speaks. ‘Pardon me, Your Majesty. But won’t we use this opportunity to strike the Arcadians down with our full force? They must’ve been tired from the journey and our attacks, and with our fresh troops they will surely be annihilated.’ ‘Don’t be hasty, Rael’charon. The Arcadians are not to be underestimated. Their number are far superior to us, and don’t forget they have a brilliant general, the crown prince Alexis. They must’ve been aware of their condition and stop their pursuit. We better wait for more reinforcements to arrive and rely on our impenetrable walls. Anyway the Duke of Wardstone has agreed to send aid for us as per your request, hasn’t he?’ ‘Indeed true, Your Majesty. I’ve received a word that 4,000 troops from Wardstone are marching to Alceste in full speed. I deeply admire your wisdom, Your Highness. Let it be as you wish.’ Rael’charon of course knows about the situation better and would’ve suggested the same strategy as the king’s, but as the king spoke of it first, Rael’charon thought it would be best to let the king took all the credit and humbles himself before the king. Then Rael’charon and Robert dismiss themselves from the throne room with a salute. Outside the throne room, Rael’charon says to Robert, ‘Follow me.’ And Robert follows him to a solitary corner. As they reach there, Rael’charon says, ‘Robert, you know the king is wise beyond our measures, but we must be ready of all possibilities. Now you go quickly to the front, find out the current situation and report it to me at once by any means possible. I think the situation now is far worse than you’ve reported, and your lord might be in a grave danger.’ ‘Yes, Your Excellency.’ As Robert turns to leave, Rael’charon calls him again. ‘Oh, Robert, just one more thing. I’ll say hi to Princess Eloise for you.’ Robert’s serious expression is unchanged, but he blushes. Rael’charon is amused to see that. ‘Hahaha! You DO have a heart after all, Robert. I just want you to know that I support you on your plans. But I fear you will have to change your course.’ Robert doesn’t understand the last sentence, but he bears Rael’charon’s words in mind, saying, ‘Thank you for your advice, Sire.’