The wavy hilltops were like a crumpled floor mat. Retaining the colors of late summer in its appearance, the lush greenery seemed to glisten under the drizzling rain as a thin veil of fog developed over the battlefield.
On the opposing hills right next to the riverbed, within the Linden forest, gradually increasing silhouettes were visible. They were soldiers dressed in bulky armor paired with pointy helmets, on their right shoulders were each the skull of a white-maned lion. The eyelids of the maned lion hung low as if it was contemplating, which reflected the stance of the legion.
The first to step out of the forest was a squad of officers, on the fringes of their breastplate was a symbol of a burning Devil with long flaming horns to resemble their involvement in the War of Ampere Seale, the veterans who had returned from a bloody war against the Devil and lived to tell the tale.
Right in front was a young man, under his steel helmet was a determined gaze. His name was Mars, not only did he participate in the Battle of Ampere Seale, he was there when the Calamity of Wolves occurred in the Loop of Trade Winds. Within the earliest batch of Trentheim youngsters, a total of sixty strong that was dispatched with him, one-half of them lost their lives in the battlefields of Ampere Seale.
But he lived, and for that, he received the honor of the White Maned helmet from the Count himself and was promoted to the ranks of Middle Cavalry Captain.
He tilted his head towards another officer behind him, also bearing a similar helmet with a golden tassel. What was exposed were a pair of wheat-colored pupils, eluding wisdom from its bearer. He knew the man as Julian, even though he was not part of the Battle of Ampere Seale, he was one of the longest-serving officers under the Count, and among his oldest followers at that.
And now just like himself, he was the heart and soul of the White Lion Battalion. There were many individuals like this back in Firbur, and under Brendel’s two current systems, one was the original Red Bronze Dragon mercenaries, the leader none other than the Red Bronze Dragon, Leto.
This war-hardened veteran was a Trentheim legend in his own right, many of his followers were the same group that had followed Brendel since the very beginning. This system now unofficially plays the role of Elder.
Nevertheless, it was Brendel’s intention to lighten the military positions of mercenaries and semi-professional parties within Trentheim, the Red Bronze Dragon mercenaries were now positioned in Mirtai, and was mostly responsible for the security of Firbur alongside the Cave Dwellers who were assigned the defense upkeep in the region. Leto was never one with huge ambitions and was more than satisfied with the arrangements.
Naturally, Brendel’s arrangements were not due to the concern on the positions of power, but to induce the future recruitment of professional military into Trentheim with the benefit of the kingdom in mind.
No one was more aware of the innumerable faults of the traditional private armies derived from the Noble Houses than Brendel himself, and Viero armies’ bloody encounter today was a clear testament to it. It was now evident to all the reasoning behind Brendel’s arrangements, and those who had doubts before were left impressed and in awe.
What they could not comprehend, however, was that Brendel saw far beyond just this, he knew exactly what Aouine needed, now and beyond.
Brendel’s other system, which formed the White Lion Battalion and the Wind Archers Legion was created with the future of Trentheim in mind, but anyone from Brendel’s first system was free to join regardless.
Many saw this legion as the true core of Brendel’s future arrangements, and views the White Lion Battalion in high regard, including those of Brendel’s closest mercenary commanders.
Besides Cornelius who was now in the logistics department, Jana and Forn had both taken the initiative to join the White Lion Battalion and were now the Knight Captains of the Third and Fourth Brigades respectively.
These ex-mercenaries along with Trentheim’s locale, topped off by the White Lion Battalions original members from the Royal Faction Youth division formed the three main divisions. But Brendel despised the fraternities of the divisions and made sure they remained only on ground level.
Julian noticed the gazes of his comrades, turned back, and within the fringes of the forests, an impeccably tight formation of White Lion Infantries marched behind him. The young soldiers all drew their swords, almost in unison, their broadswords glistened under the drizzling rain of autumn.
The flag-bearers had yet raised the flags so the brigades were not yet distinguishable. On the far corners, under light fog were a few upright silhouettes on horseback.
“Are you nervous?” Under the chilly weather, every breath formed a cloud as Brendel spoke. But with his skill level, he naturally saw no need for a steel helmet or any burdensome heavy armor, donned only chainmail and a breastplate.
Under the metallic breastplate was a leather strap tightly knotted to his waist, and on it were the crest of Double-headed griffin. It was a reward from his conquests, the Lonia’s Gap.
Turning towards Freya where the question was directed, the future War Goddess replied with a shake of her head, “C’mon Brendel, it’s not my first stint anymore,” She recalled her last battle at Ampere Seale, where she nearly lost grip of her sword that she practiced so thoroughly before. Nevertheless, after successive battles, she began getting used to the heat of war.
Lifting her head and looking beyond the mists, “This sure feels like Bucce, Uncle, Aunt, this time I’ll send those repulsive invaders back where they came!”
The same Pine mountains, and across the opposite side of these mists and rain were the same enemies as before, Freya had the fiery determination resembling the flames ravaging across Bucce that night.
She instinctively clenched her Lionheart Sword.
Within the fog came a row of men.
“Carglise!” Priestess Merial next to Brendel called out, like the release of huge tension. She was no longer cross-dressing, and had reverted back to a maiden’s outfit. Her long, braided blonde hair made a name for herself as the renowned beauty of Firbur, but she decisively chose Carglise, to the dismay of many.
Merial’s parents were a Noble family from the south side of Ampere Seale. They carried Kirrlutzian lineage, which knowing that fact made it hardly surprising that her father had the snobby personality endemic to the Kirrlutzians, and had always disavowed her relationship with a poor peasant youth in the form of Carglise.
Not until Brendel’s reputation exploded within the kingdom did Carglise’s elitist father-in-law acknowledge his potential, and chose to no longer stand in the way of their marriage. And exactly because of that, Merial and Carglise were deadly loyal to Brendel ever since.
Carglise blushingly turned towards Merial as he approached, along with several other young men trailing behind.
Brendel took a good look and noticed Cowan at the far end. He actually came in person.
Slightly surprised, but Brendel did not express any of it on his face as he raised his hand, then tossed the helmet with the winged crest and a long tassel towards him.
Carglise firmly received the helmet, with a teasing look on his face he replied, “Carglise reporting for duty, Milord. We’d like to request your return to the legion,” While watching as his Lord commander nodded, he snuck a peek at Merial and awkwardly added, “Milord, why did you let her come too?”
“Ms. Merial is the most stellar priestess in the territory, and also the squad leader of the Army-Associated Bishop Division, so why can't she be here?”
Brendel continued, albeit slightly disgruntled, “True, on private matters you might have a say on this, but that shouldn’t affect her interest in offering her capabilities towards the benefit of her territory, isn’t that right Carglise? You’ve got to think bigger.”
Merial naturally was not the best priestess under Brendel, that spot goes to Hipamila, but Hipamila was a Priest of Himilude, and Aouine, under the influence of the Holy Cathedral of Fire can only allow for her to move in solitude or risk religious conflict.
Brendel when delving into the topic was suddenly reminded of another who was temporarily residing in the territory, an individual far ahead of Merial both in terms of religious knowledge and position within the Holy Cathedral, and that was The Nun Princess of Antoburo.
It was important to note however that Magadal was still yet to fully recover, and during her recuperation, despite how eager she was to repay the favor, Brendle would not allow for her to travel to Radner in such harsh weather, which could be brutal.
The Priestess too was following on Brendel’s remark, her cheeks reactively red as a tomato from the embarrassment, one that was mirrored by her husband Carglise despite his thick-skinned personality.
He noticed that he was always engaged in friendly bickering with the Count of Trentheim, but recently the Lord commander himself seemed to be ahead of him in this matter. Truly in a league of his own.
He naturally did not know Brendel in his past life were to receive messages hundreds or thousands of times the pace and volume as he did now. In terms of bickering and intellectual debates, it was bound to be one-sided, the only reason Brendel did not raise disputes often before was because he hadn’t yet solidified his authority.
It appeared that even Carglise did not realize that at this point he had now whole-heartedly acknowledged his Lord commander who might even be a year or two younger, awkwardly coughing to sweep the conversation under the carpet. Right then, Brendel was sharing gazes with Cowan from behind him. The young man appeared noticeably thinner than when they last met. His cheeks were already curved inward, yet his dark pupils seemed sharper than ever, eluding his admirable perseverance.
Draped in a thick, bulky hood made from animal fur, his stance resembled Little Pero. It had only been six months but he had grown taller, and despite being just a teenager, he had all the charisma of a regional leader.
“It’s been a while, Milord,” Cowan was first to speak.