𝐖𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐊𝐧𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐬 (𝟏)
Indeed, Marquis Crucho was an exceptional commander.
The most difficult aspect of commanding an army was the retreat.
The armies of this world were not well-organized. Loyalty was even harder to find.
The fact that some mercenaries were famous for their loyalty meant that other mercenaries were lacking in this respect.
Thus, both mercenaries and soldiers would flee without hesitation if the army’s morale was low, especially since their own lives were at stake.
It was rare for an army’s morale to be as low as during a retreat, yet Marquis Crucho’s army was retreating in an orderly manner.
“Marquis Crucho is an experienced commander, so this is to be expected.”
Upon hearing the report from the scouting knight, Johan nodded. He already knew Marquis Crucho was an outstanding commander from experience.
The attack had lasted less than a week, but it was fierce. Thousands of soldiers were throwing ladders and shooting arrows.
Being able to lead such a total attack with troops gathered from various places itself proved his capability.
However, Marquis Crucho greatly underestimated the combat power of the army led by Ulrike. They were neither tired nor injured.
Even after the siege, the soldiers remained almost unharmed. It was unthinkable that they couldn’t hold their position on the walls, especially with Johan there.
“I would like to hear your opinions, knights.”
At Johan’s words, the knights’ faces brightened, and they began to offer various suggestions.
Suggestions included launching multiple assaults with a robust cavalry of several hundred to gradually annihilate the enemy, and targeting Marquis’s main force directly.
Johan gathered their opinions and made a decision.
“Let’s follow them at a distance. If the enemy’s morale is low, that alone will cause many soldiers to scatter.”
“That’s a wise decision.”
Setting a trap under the guise of retreat was not something anyone could do. Pretending to retreat could lead to the disintegration of an army.
However, Johan decided to prepare for any contingency. Suetlg had advised the same.
‘𝘈𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘢𝘭𝘭, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘯𝘦𝘮𝘺 𝘪𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘢 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘢𝘥𝘷𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘢𝘨𝘦𝘰𝘶𝘴 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯, 𝘴𝘰 𝘪𝘵 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥𝘯’𝘵 𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘰𝘣𝘴𝘦𝘳𝘷𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘢 𝘧𝘦𝘸 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘥𝘢𝘺𝘴. 𝘐𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘶𝘳𝘨𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘭𝘺, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘤𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘢𝘱𝘴𝘦 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘰𝘸𝘯.’
On the first day, there were dozens.
On the second day, there were hundreds.
On the third day, the scattering was so widespread it was frightening to Count .
“I apologize, Marquis.”
“No, the commander is clever.”
Marquis Crucho did not feign retreat, but it was true he was laying traps.
He intended to rally the remaining elite troops to annihilate the pursuers and then turn the morale around with that.
However, the enemy only followed closely enough to seize an opportunity, not rushing in. This naturally brought the soldiers’ morale to rock bottom, knowing that knights ready to strike were nearby.
Now, it seemed there were less than a thousand left, mostly infantry and too many conscripts. They were those who would collapse at a charge led by knights.
“We will charge.”
When his knights moved to act, Marquis Crucho stopped them. The enemy wasn’t all knights either; except for twenty or thirty, the rest were likely mounted heavy troops.
But their number was in the hundreds.
Marquis Crucho’s cavalry, even if scraped together, amounted to only dozens. Many knights had fallen during the siege, and mercenaries deserted at night, making it hard to be confident of victory.
In this era, knights and cavalry made up the bulk of warfare. Conscripts and mercenaries mostly couldn’t withstand knights. Once the formation broke, it was over.
“Who is the knight leading them? A new face. Were such knights in the Abner family?”
Johan’s name was already a rumor among the Marquis’ camp.
Soldiers atop the walls, trembling with fear, had spread the rumor about the mighty knight.
Initially, the knights didn’t believe it, but as they were pursued, they couldn’t ignore the rumor.
“He’s Knight Johan of the Yeats family. Said to have slain a troll in Marcel.”
“Huh. . . Such a knight existed? A shame not to have recruited him.”
“Don’t worry. He’s young and unrefined. We can win in a direct confrontation.”
Marquis’ knights proudly declared, as true knights are never lukewarm.
“If possible, we should enter Lebuten without fighting. Any clash now would cause great damage.”
“If we speed up. . .”
“We’re already losing men at this pace; speeding up will leave even fewer. And the enemy will start attacking.”
Increasing the retreat speed would only create vulnerabilities, practically inviting an attack.
“But Marquis. . . Now is not the time to worry about appearances. If you’re captured, the situation worsens significantly.”
“I agree. You should escape first, Marquis.”
“What are you saying? You mean to leave the army behind and flee. . .?”
Marquis Crucho asked in disbelief, but his knights were serious.
“I’ll stay and command. Escape tonight with the other knights, Marquis.”
Usually, Marquis Crucho would have rebuked them, but not now. The dilemma was too great.
If he continued leading the army, they could reach Lebuten in days. Many dispersed mercenaries would likely join there for a regroup.
But if the army crumbled further. . .
Even Marquis might not escape. With less than dozens left, no tricks would work.
To escape first, it had to be now, while over a thousand decoys diverted attention.
“. . .Understood. Let me know once you’ve decided.”