CHARIOTS OF WAR
|We must free Freidle, or it'll be hell to pay.|
O’ forth, brave warriors
We go to war to end all wars
With weapons sharp and polished
We’ll make evil be banished
O’ forth, knight crusaders
‘Cos we are stout defenders
We fight back all invaders
And the good will be winners
O’ forth great paladins
Heroes since time begins
Come O’ champions of light
Lead us to destiny’s bright
- ‘The Crusade Chants’
Sung by troops during the Third Crusade
18.104.22.168. To Free Freidle
Two days after Rael’charon changed his plan for the Crusade after the double agent Talbot du Bois’ blew his own cover, a great Alliance army is marching towards Freidle, the capital of Borgia to reclaim it from the Dark Forces. This first division is led by Adler von Bachmann, and consists of troops from Lore, Escudia and Thyrine. The Borgians also join there as reserves and guides.
Viscount Adler is somewhat displeased with this ‘arrangement’, on the prospect of working together with the two people he loathes most: Sir Robert Chandler and Don Hernan y Parvaez. So, instead of rallying his troops, he spends his journey looking sulky. Eidos, the only one he can talk to (or order around) is up in the air with the Airship Aurora, the Borgian dragon riders and the Escudian pegasus riders.
‘Why so glum, Commander?’ Oh, no, Kyflynn’s mocking voice is the last thing he needs now. Adler wants so much to ignore it, but his noble pride won’t allow him to.
So he responds, ‘I’m surprised of your concern, Paladin. I’m pondering about our field strategy once we get there.’
The night elf assassin says, ‘Well, you make that strategy, you need actual information, and my order is to scout ahead and gather that information for you and assisting other scouts. So, I better get going now. See you later!’
He darts off on foot and out of sight. Adler just sighs, thinking. Humph. That insolent bastard. Had he not a Paladin, I must’ve punished him in front of the army already to maintain discipline and order.
Before anything else pops inside his mind, suddenly another voice startles him.
‘Permission to speak, Commander.’
Robert shows up in front of the Commander, riding his armored horse, Paeldagrin. Adler snorts and answers, ‘Permission granted. Go ahead, Sir Robert.’
‘The Supreme Commander Rael’charon has instructed me to go ahead of the main army and bring the Cavalry and charioteers to set up a flank attack. My apologies, Commander, but I have to get going now. Failure to carry out instructions in the scarlet letter will bring severe consequences.’
‘Humph. Just go ahead, Paladin. I’m sure you’ll be a great help when the time comes.’
‘Thank you, Commander. I’ve volunteered to help you and I’ll surely keep that promise.’
Robert salutes to Adler and gallops ahead. He raises his sword high, its fiery blade serves as signal. Soon enough, the infantry moves aside, giving way to the cavalry and chariots. Robert and his troops then ride to another path, leaving Adler and the rest in the dust.
Damn that Rael’charon. He really didn’t delegate his authority to me at all. His instruction to me was: ‘Guide the first division to Freidle. The Paladins already had their instructions in the scarlet letters. After you liberate Borgia, go with haste to Castoria to regroup with the second division.’ Still, I have no choice but to obey or lose the Alliance’s support. Damn, damn, how I hate being in this position.
While Adler recalls his regrets, a pegasus rider descends to the ground, lands and gallops on his side. The rider is none other than Don Hernan y Parvaez, master of the Leviathan and the stand-in leader of the Escudian pegasus riders.
‘What do you want, Don?’ says Adler with resentment in his tone. ‘Don’t tell me your order is to detach and scout ahead, or something like that.’
‘On the contrary, Commander,’ answers the Don calmly. ‘My order is to assist you all the way and give you advices according to the situation, being a tactician myself. To do that, we must put away our differences in the past and fight together against our common enemies, the Heir and his Dark Forces.’
‘Oh, great. Now I’m stuck with my ex-partner in this team. Okay, we’ll be partners again – for now. Mind you, when this Crusade is over, you and I have some scores to settle.’
Hernan smiles and says, ‘I’m so looking forward to that, Viscount.’
The next day, Adler stands in front of the Allied army, thinking. Formation, okay. Indeed, it’s a game with all cards open, so better use standard, frontal one. Troop conditions and strengths... So far we had an advantage over the enemy. Morale, excellent. Skills, we are far superior than those mindless brutes. I guess we are ready. It’s time to free Freidle. It’s now or never.
And then, looking back at the troops, Adler shouts, ‘ALL UNITS! FORWARD, MARCH!!’ The Alliance marches into position.
Indeed, it’s a game with all cards – Alliance’s cards – open. The Dark Forces are all ready to intercept them in front of the run-down city walls. On the front of that army stand the demon generals apart from each other, conjuring their dark energy to suppress the zombies from charging head-on.
So, they’re ready and waiting for us. All right, wait until you get THIS!
With that thought, Adler shouts, ‘Archers, SHOOT!’
Soon, a volley of arrows comes like rain. Shrieks of panic come from the undead, and soon a number of them fall victim to this rain of sharp iron. Another volley comes, the undead become disorganized, and the demon generals have no choice but to ‘unleash’ them.
‘RRRHAAAAH!!!’ The demon generals’ roar signals the melee.
BROOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM!!!
The ground shakes as the undead (especially the abomies, the giant zombies made of rotten flesh) charge with frenzy.
CLANG! CLANK! CLATTER! CRASSSH!!!
Impacts! Weapons against weapons, weapons against armors, weapons against flesh... the undead’s brutality is met with shields and spears of the formidable phalanx.
‘GAAAAHHH!!! GRAAAA!! HUAAAH!!’
Adler keeps observing the flow of war. Judging from the voices, screams of pain and death from the undead are more deafening and numerous than the Alliance’s, while the battle cries are the other way around.
The vanguard, Dar’gum and his sons are unstoppable. With Barudan the behemoth, they push forward, crushing any enemy that stands in their way.
Aha, the signs are clear. The Alliance gets the upper hand. If things go on like this, we’ll liberate Freidle in no time! Adler smiles with glee.
But, wait! What’s coming from the walls? Skeleton archers! Agh! Are they going to shoot the infantry – along with their own comrades? This is madness! They do this with a good reason. Oh yes, I just remembered. Arrows can’t kill an undead in an instant, unless it struck a zombie’s head, shatter skeletons into pieces, or... burn them into ashes!’
‘Archers! Shoot oil flasks and fire arrows at those archers on the wall!’ He shouts.
The archers come prepared. Just as they’re in range, a volley of arrows with oil flasks hanging on them is launched towards the skeleton archers.
SWISSSH!! A skeleton archer just watches as an arrow comes through its body. The oil flask on it breaks, the oil is spilt on the floor beneath and the arrow just dangles between his ribs. The skeleton laughs without voice, his jaws are wide open.
The next moment, comes another volley: fire arrows! The skeleton’s jaws hang and come loose. To complete the the surprise, the fire arrow hits the floor, right on the spilt oil and FWOOSH! Instant inferno.
Stand against heat the skeletons can, but big fire can reduce their bones into dust.
To complete the annihilation, the Borgian dragon riders join in and FWOOOSH!! the firebreathing turn the city wall into a blazing furnace.
Adler seems satisfied with that maneuver. Okay, now let’s see what they have under their sleeves. He surveys the skies using his telescope and a smile curls up on his lips.
Just predictable. Whenever dragons are around, these dark wyverns always show up and crash the party!
Hazmat, I guess it’s your turn now.
The ancient white dragon’s masculine voice comes in Adler’s mind. You know, Adler. I don’t like you using that privilege I gave you to order me around. Treat me with respect or I’ll block our mind link!
Respect? Adler replies. I’ve been hearing people demanding that from me for years! Even if I give you respect, what do you offer me in return?
My offer is still the same: I’ll lend you my power, allegiance, loyalty and friendship. You can summon me anytime ONLY if you throw away that abominable sword Kraal’shazar. The offer still stands, since you are the new leader of the Borgian dragon riders.
And my answer is still the same: I shall not abandon this sword. I have said that to Archangel Avariel and denied the Excalibur. How can I throw this legendary sword away for an oversized dragon I cannot carry anywhere even into my bedroom for protection? Sorry, but I must say no.
You always go by your logic, Adler. I should’ve regretted choosing you as my human counterpart to lead the dragon riders – a leader without a dragon! Still, I must respect your decision as I never take back my words. You have denied me, whose loyalty never wavers, so here’s a word of warning. That sword of yours will not always be loyal to you. One day, it’ll desert you for a more compatible, more powerful master. You are forewarned.
The sword on Adler’s back shudders violently. Look, even the sword protests you for that. You better apologize for your false accusation.
Better save your breath, Viscount. I’ve told you before, I never take back my words. Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it, just this once for the sake of the Crusade.
Just help your comrades and fight the wyvern riders, and if they unleash their big monsters, you handle them.
Right. Just leave it to me.
The next moment, the gigantic for of Hazmat the three-headed dragon comes past, overshadowing Adler and the troops below. SHAAARSHHH!!! The triple rayblast from his mouths disintegrates a wyvern along with its rider in the air.
The skeleton archers have been taken care of, and now another wave of undead comes. The oversized abomies*) are unstoppable in their rampage, but they are now met with their nemesis: the pikemen, who pierces them with their lethal long pikes, and the archers, who shoot them without worrying of hurting their own comrades.
‘Second division, forward!’ Adler commands.
‘Guess it’s my turn now,’ says Hernan. And then he and his troops plunge into battle.
The Escudians’ war cry rouses their comrades’ morale, and the Alliance begins to push forward, driving the enemy back into the city walls.
(* Abomy/Abomination: a zombie / doll monster like voodoo-doll shaped like a big fat man. Made from patched human skin (mostly rotten) and stuffed with rotten flesh, this abomination is a lethal but somewhat mindless killing machine. Add a soul in it, and it’s like an ancient time Frankenstein Monster. Also regarded as ‘the foulest of the fouls’.
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