The Undead Legion of two thousand strong began setting up formation by the shallow riverbanks. The pitch-black Spider Swordsmen arranged neatly one after another into flawless grids, on their chests were the spider emblems of their namesake. Upon command, in unison they all took a step forward, their hands held onto tar-black broadswords with a grip the size of a whole palm. Taking a single step, they lowered the sword with the blade onto the ground.
One hand aligned with the chest whilst tightly gripping onto the sledgehammer, the other with the longsword, upright, leaning on their shoulders. With every single step, each of the two thousand one hundred skeleton structures repeated the same position as they marched forward, their impeccable rows of blades shimmering under the overcast sky like the jaws of death.
A small assemble of Black Knights gathered around Count Visgard. The Dark Noble leader, nicknamed the Silencer, too, donned the Black Knight’s armor, but intentionally left out his helmet. Above the chest armor was a pale, white skull, with a pinch of greying hair on the crown of the skull akin to barren weed after an event of a catastrophe.
On his face were patches of corpse spots, and in his eyes were the nether flames ethereally burning, his entire presence exuded the resemblance of soulless death. In one hand was the grip of the immensely sharp blade of Black Rose. Just as his namesake, he watched out into the western front without a word uttered.
This was a hilly terrain over the riverbank, the rain formed a thin layer of fog, blurring the vision on both sides. Beyond the fog was a stretch of forests, the tree lines crisscrossing resembling a wall of nature.
And right then, from within its depths came ever-increasing white flags as they emerged, then promptly reorganized into immaculate rows of human infantry, their metallic armors reflected whatever little light was offered under the overcast sky.
And as the sounds of footsteps grew louder and more evident, Count Visgard appeared a tinge perplexed, he had never heard of this army, but they were evidently well equipped and appeared no less of an official legion.
A mile wide was the distance between them as both sides peeked across at each other.
“No shieldbearers, light foot-soldiers, sized at around five main divisions more or less,” Count Visgard with a quick glance estimated the rough military size of his mortal counterparts in a split second, but that was just child’s play to him, many from the Seas of the Dying Moon could do it without a hassle.
As a minnow autonomous region at servitude to the Madaran Empire, it lacked nearly everything. Everything except militants that is, most notably experienced militants.
It had the best mercenaries in the Darkened world, with hundreds of wars fought, the tension of war had become an imbued trait.
“One and a half squads,” He lowered his guard, Soul Fire belonging to the pride of the Black Rose began to take hold, and with it came discrimination of his mortal opponents.
The Spider Swordsmen were the infantry and cavalry’s biggest weakness, as long as there was no heavy cavalry, they would be the most powerful force on the battlefield, notwithstanding their opponents’ clearly inferior numbers.
Count Visgard stoically smirked, convinced that these prideful, arrogant human Nobles were still obliged to their archaic belief that infantries were only dispatched for defensive formations. What they’ll never understand is that when the Madaran infantry show their fangs, they would be left to our mercy as we tear their faces into bits!
“Let the spiders announce the degree, that the era of mortals have now come to an end,” The Black Knights Commander proclaimed as he eyed the Aouine forces, the White Lion Battalion’s progress further confirmed his perception.
Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the riverbank were twinkling lights from the ground up.
“They’re initiating spells.”
“They have a Magician squad.”
The Black Knights’ conversations around him perked the attention of the Count as his brows raised ever so slightly. Hmm, this is no mere Noble army. It seems our adversaries were not so simple-minded after all. If they have magicians within their ranks this would at least be a Vanmier Legion-level army. It might even be a division of the Central Army...but which one is it?
He frowned from contemplation. The Southern Army should be close to Ampere Seale by now, so what can this legion possibly be?!
The flashes of magic began to accumulate, and along with that the dulling of Count Visgard’s expression. This scale, could it be the Aouine Royal Cavalry? Or could this be part of the Black Blade Squad or the White Lion Legion?
But that can’t be, those three Aouine armies would never be approved for a dispatch to the Southern border, unless they intend to forfeit Ampere Seale and everything north...
He furthered his assumptions. But this army, it’s far beyond ordinary. Even though we have Necromancers in our ranks, any keen eye can tell that Necromancers are not on par with that of mages! A Magician Squad of this caliber is not something we have ever seen! Even from the military history beyond the War of The Holy Saints, there was no record of this division.
A thousand five hundred infantries, with a squad of over a hundred magicians...
“This is madness!” Count Visgard was driven to the point of insanity by the lineup of his mortal opponents, convinced his opponent must have gone mad, or that he had begun hallucinating.
The thundering sounds of war horns continued resonating through the battlefield.
“The Vierans want us to retreat,” Brendel withdrew his sights inward from the fog of the riverbanks. Turning towards his company of Cowan, Carglise, and Freya, he assented, “Seems like they still have their conscience intact.”
“Hehe, it’s great to know that the people we’re about to bail aren’t complete garbage,” Carglise chuckled as he replied.
Cowan was tight-lipped, it was the first war the youth from Schafflund had participated in. The scenes that unfolded before him were far different from what he perceived them to be.
As the White Lion Battalion began marching forward under the endless drizzling, commands ringing in their ears along with the words of “Draw your weapons!”, “March forward!”
The youths of Trentheim upon leaving the forests were still rather disoriented, but a hundred meters in they promptly recalibrated into their formations. The commanders and herald officers on horseback sprinted from behind, the battle flags waving in the cold, crisp air.
To Cowan, this painfully effective legion was notably different from what he witnessed from the other Noble armies, leaving him slightly emotional, it was as if the armies of the history books had came back to life.
That section of history in question, was the Founding of Aouine.
He instinctively turned across towards his Lord commander, Brendel, firmly held onto his sword, naturally on horseback. He watched upon his armies with charisma and belief, despite his expression devoided of any emotion.
This army seems just alright in his eyes. Cowan thought to himself. What exactly is the army that he’s planning to build?
Brendel then cracked a faint smile. The White Lion Battalion had already begun to take shape, representing the first step that Aouine had taken, but what he was striving for was for himself to see the floodgates flung open with his own hands. On the other side of the shining, shimmering golden gates was another era. Its preceding era had begun in the Year of the Silver, and once they ventured beyond those gates, a new era would begin under his lead, today.
From tomorrow onwards, the future was in sight.
He raised his head, watching the sleek silhouette before himself, modestly shrouded in the rain. Just then, Freya too turned around to stare towards Brendel. On her snow-white warhorse she sat baffled, perplexed by his methodologies, What is he doing? That’s not how you use a Magician squad…”
In the Aouine Battle Tactics Handbook it was clearly stated that, the precious magician must receive the most established of defenses, if there were over a hundred magicians in a squad, they must receive an army’s protection. Otherwise, they ought to be separated to prevent disruptive attacks.
The Magician squad was a precious supporting force in battle, occasionally even game-changing. In comparison, the mages possessed far superior individual battle capabilities and were undoubtedly more powerful as an individual unit on a battlefield. In conventional war strategies, they were supposed to be evenly sprinkled across an army, and as such receiving the defense they needed, while being able to focus on dealing the most impact on opposing forces.
However, Trentheim's Magician squad was aligned into a neat row shoulder to shoulder with the infantry. Besides the minimal protection of the White Lion Battalion towards this formation, their chanting and songs melodious to the ear resonated throughout the riverbank like the jovial music of the Holy choir. Right then, a light shield began forming and layering before The White Lion Battalion.
Carglise watched as the mellow light rings accompanied by beads of rainwater fell upon each one of them, including himself.
He rather intriguingly reached out to feel the energy shield just mere inches from his person, it was as if a visible layer of pressure currents looped from all sides around him. As it came into contact with his fingers, they warped past it and formed a whirlpool.
So this is the Shield of Winds.
“Magnificent,” Carglise murmured under his breath. To assign that many mages into an army of only a thousand and a half received nearly complete opposition from everyone involved, most vocally from the likes of Amandina and Medissa, the former coming from the perspective of the challenges it took to develop a full squad of mages from the territory. She nudged Brendel to treasure this extremely hard-earned squad. The latter, Medissa reasoned with her experience as part of the Battle of the Holy Saints, and was not in support of Brendel’s concentrated deployment of the magicians. As for the others, Freya included, most stood clear in opposition.
Trentheim indeed had a significant number of mages at this point, but many were sourced from a plethora of mercenaries, witches, and the druids of the Loop of Trade Winds. The key point of concern was that they were not home-grown reserves, which meant depletion would be an obstacle when the time comes to replenish the void.
From the eyes of all in attendance in the past days of discussion, this was deemed a rare formation of a Magician squad, and they should be treated as such, and be kept a mysterious force and carefully wielded. Nevertheless, Brendel sensibly convinced his way through the bulk of the opposition with his words, grouped the mages together, and formed this Magician squad that they beheld today.
This unprecedented Magician squad, since its establishment had received opposition from all sides, and according to Carglise, even Ciel placed little faith in the future of the squad. The Kirrlutzians under the command of Veronica even saw it as a flaunt of a recent upstart.
But is he one though?
Carglise took a good look at the composed Brendel, scuffled his chin as he offered himself an answer, “Hmm, right he does seem like one,” Regardless, with over two hundred in a Magician squad offering enhancement spells, it was more than enough to envelope the entire army into its protection. As layer after layer stacked upon the White Lion Battalion, the scenes were indeed quite spectacular for the beholders.
“The Lord Commander’s insistence does seem justified now,” Youla took a final glimpse towards the opposite side of the riverbank, before pulling down her metal mouthpiece, under the chilly weather of autumn she spoke, as the air began to puff with every breath.
Forn from a close distance shook his head from uncertainty. He then drew his longsword and began marching forward with his subordinates. He was visibly apprehensive.
Gathering the mages was not a completely unprecedented move, but its effects were always deemed inefficient, as the enemies would naturally break the formation apart to diminish the effects of the spell.
And even if they could obliterate a couple of enemy divisions, once the concentrated magician squad got hit, the cost of damage and demise of the valuable mages far outweigh the benefits. It was in nearly all cases hardly worth its expense, and hence with the sands of time the practice became obsolete, and ultimately left in the past.
But why would the Lord Commander want to bring it back?!