Harem Dynast

Part 2: Chapter 4 - Battle of Royal Capital Curling
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Part 2: Chapter 4 - Battle of Royal Capital Curling

“This is Curling… The land in which I was born and raised.”

Ansandra sounded somber as she peeked out the carriage’s window to see her homeland after the long journey back there.

The scene before her eyes was not the one from her memories.

The Bastore Plain was blessed with plentiful grains, but Clanaria’s thorough endurance strategy had rendered it a wasteland nearly void of green.

When she had left this place, she had never even dreamed it would ever look like this.

So very much had changed in the past two months – a mere two months.

(And it is all my fault. This is the sin I must bear…)

“So it is not over yet.”

Lorent spoke to himself when he saw the famous Curling Castle.

“…Indeed.”

Stephan, the Domos military’s Chief of Staff, agreed with bitterness in his face.

Curling Castle was well-known for its magic walls which were as impressive as a heavenly palace of the gods and glowed with a brilliant white light.

It all matched the reports from the spies they had sent out ahead of them.

But large trenches had been dug around it, the dirt from that had been used to construct earthen walls, and a triple fence had been built on top of that. Those complex defenses were entirely different from that report.

“This is sure to have raised the morale of the soldiers in the castle.”

Lorent was an experienced commander for his age, but not even he had seen a castle with such largescale fortifications.

“The best tactic would be to starve them out.”

“It would indeed, but we are short on provisions ourselves. We could overcome that if the nearby villages have supplies worth taking, but if not, we would be the ones to starve. Our Domos soldiers could endure the meager provisions, but if we show an opening we are sure to see a rebellion from the cities and prisoners we just took or from Celeste and Sulbey.”

Stephan, the experienced aide, gave a serious reply to young King Lorent’s casual comment.

As they had invaded deeper into Clanarian territory, they had taken in the guards of fallen cities like Ramlese as well as mercenaries who wished to side with the apparent winner, so Domos’s forces had grown to 40,000.

The ones truly from Domos only numbered 8000, so it was clear that one wrong decision would lead to disaster.

And this number also proved that Clanaria’s army had not used their full numbers in the Battle of Corlal Field. If they had been truly worried about Domos’s invasion, they would have prepared a greater force.

A moment of carelessness had placed Clanaria in serious danger. But that also meant that a moment of carelessness could send Domos into the abyss as well.

The mercenaries were one thing, but the soldiers from the regional cities would not be willing to put up a real fight. They would only do the bare minimum.

They had only betrayed their kingdom out of fear of Domos’s military might and with Princess Ansandra’s presence giving them an excuse. The instant Domos seemed at a disadvantage, they would not hesitate to side with Clanaria once more.

The young king nodded and accepted his former tutor’s assessment.

“We have to bring down that castle before we starve.”

Lorent sighed, but he did not actually find this that serious.

He had absolute confidence in his strategic ability to determine his enemy’s weakness and use that to break through.

He knew the goddess of fortune would not always be on his side and that it was dangerous to overestimate his own ability, but that just meant he had to rape the goddess of fortune and make her his.

If he was to become a true conqueror, he needed the great economic power of Clanaria.

“Thinking isn’t going to solve this. We can start by sending out a messenger demanding they surrender. Dominic, you do the honors.”

Dominic was a proud strategist and one of Lorent’s mistresses, but ever since the Burns incident, she had become known as a “ball-devouring demon woman”, so she had become a target of fear and respect from the Domos youth.

At this point, there was an extremely high risk of a messenger being killed to send a message back, but when Dominic received the order, she set off for Curling Castle with no hint of fear.

Even while surrounded by hostile Clanarians, she boldly relayed the message.

“With all due respect, King Baldwin’s Second Princess Ansandra is now the Queen of Domos and mother of our kingdom. Thus, Domos and Clanaria are like brothers. There is no need to prolong the ravages of war. We hope you will make the just decision for a just future. If you will cooperate, we will provide Queen Ansandra’s father Baldwin with the special position of Marquis of Clanaria. In the future, Curling will be ruled by Queen Ansandra and we will do our absolute utmost to avoid any unneeded confusion for the people of this land. We will also prepare 100 gold coins for the families of each man who died in the previous fighting.”

This was an unexpectedly generous offer from a supposedly barbaric kingdom, but Princess Virginia scoffed loudly while surrounded by Prime Minister Stuart, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dubuc, Minister of Finance Madeley, Former General Zoral, the current commander Uldarg, and high officers like Lucy.

“Ohhh ho ho ho. Could you not tell at the first glimpse of our castle? We have no intention of capitulating. If you insist on having Clanaria, try taking it by the sword. I will crush you with my magic and send the remains of your army back to Domos!”

With her offer refused, Dominic bowed with a spiteful boldness and urged them to reconsider.

“Lady Virginia, you are Queen Ansandra’s sister, so Domos would never treat you poorly. Someone of royal Clanarian blood would rule Curling. Even if you capitulate, you will retain your pride as a kingdom, so please give it more thought. It is obvious Domos would emerge victorious if we fought now. Please consider the wellbeing of your people.”

Dominic’s comment about Domos emerging victorious wounded the pride of Clanaria’s military commanders.

“Woman, don’t get cocky! The wellbeing of our people!? You are the ones who have inhumanely invaded us! I will remove your head and hang it over the castle gate to signal the beginning of hostilities!”

The one who roared angrily, drew his sword, and approached was Uldarg.

Even with a drawn blade pointed at her, Dominic’s expression remained so aloof it seemed frozen in ice.

“Stop it! What pride have you as a warrior if you would cut down someone who has not drawn a weapon of their own?”

Lucy did not speak loudly, but Uldarg drew back as if she had thrown cold water on him.

“Messenger, you have nothing more to tell us. Please leave.”

Dominic’s dark emerald eyes coldly observed the female knight who had apparently been in an indecent relationship with Queen Ansandra. But she must have accepted her words. She said nothing more and obediently left the castle.

Lorent accepted that.

“Good work, Dominic.”

It had all been for show and he had not expected Clanaria to accept.

You could say he had given such a generous offer because he had assumed it would be rejected. But it was true he had wanted Clanaria to capitulate.

But not because he was concerned about the psychological burden on his wife Ansandra. He had simply wanted Curling Castle undamaged.

Curling was a trade center where rivers and roads intersected, so it had a large population and economic power. It would clearly be the most important fortress in his quest to conquer the continent.

“I see. So they refused, did they? It is a sign of generosity when the strong reach out a helping hand to the defeated, but it is a sign of pettiness when the defeated reject the offer and walk down the path to destruction. So let us fight and measure this strength they feel so confident in.”

After Dominic reported on the situation inside the castle, Lorent gave the order to attack.

“Carnap, give them a taste of what we can do.”

To reach Curling Castle’s walls, the Domos army would have to break through the defensive formation in the field outside.

They sent in a group of 1000 that was primarily composed of mercenaries armed with metal axes and hammers meant to break through the fences.

The Domos army itself was not equipped with siege weapons. Their focus on this expedition had been to move with lightning speed, so slowing themselves down with that kind of equipment had been out of the question.

“Whoever gets inside the castle first will be richly rewarded. Don’t hold back!”

General Carnap was a former mercenary, but Lorent had recognized his talent and selected him for his army.

His long and glossy black hair was neatly combed and he had dark, deeply-sunken eyes. The daring look on his narrow and noble face and his long and slender arms and legs left enough of an impression to tell at a glance this was not your ordinary man. His skill on horseback was not the same as a pure Domos general, but he had excellent leadership and he commanded his troops in a bold but almost cowardly careful way.

“Crush those stray dogs of Domos!”

Commander Uldarg was in charge of Clanaria’s defense and he had magic bullets and arrows fired from behind the earthen walls. Long spears were stuck through the gaps in the fences to fight back.

Long spears crossed with metal axes and both sparks and magic light burst out.

Arrows were fired from the rear of both armies to support their allies, so they blotted out the blue autumn sky. The attack and defense on either side of the fences was quite intense.

“I was right. They just threw together whatever troops they could. They aren’t fighting on the level they should with those numbers.”

After about two hours of fighting, Lorent smiled coldly while keeping his troops fighting.

Clanaria was being pushed back by Domos’s fierce attack.

Individual warriors had breached the enemy formation. When they climbed over the fences, the demoralized Clanarian soldiers fell back within the castle. The Domos soldiers’ feet thundered along the ground in pursuit as they tried to defeat the tail of the enemy troops and charge inside the castle.

But the castle gate closed when Domos was just a step away from getting in, so Carnap was forced to attack the castle’s white walls instead.

“Release the fire.”

Fire arrows and fireballs dyed the white walls a bright orange.

While the Clanarian troops inside the castle ducked back, the Domos soldiers used grappling hooks and ladders to climb the walls.

Almeida’s troops had been held back as a second wave, but they advanced once they saw that. They fired from horseback to support Carnap’s troops. That cavalry unit was made up of Domos’s greatest warriors outside of Lorent himself, but just as they approached the castle walls…

“Ohhhh ho ho ho ho. You fools can apologize to my beloved in hell. Apologize for attempting an attack far out of your league, that is.”

Atop the castle wall, Virginia let her cape flutter behind her, spread her legs wide, gave a snort, and laughed with intoxicated zeal.

“Do it.”

She gave the signal by swinging down a colorful fan decorated with peacock feathers. The 30 witches who acted as her personal guard appeared on the castle wall in black robes.

They spread their arms toward heaven. Giant magic orbs appeared there and dropped almost straight down from the wall.

This was one magic technique Virginia had developed in the course of her research. It could not fly like magic bullets could, but it allowed them to create those great orbs of magic power and drop them.

Depending on how you looked at it, this was simpler than magic bullets, but it was a truly effective attack against a foe closely gathered together and clinging to the castle wall.

With a deafening explosion, Carnap’s troops fell from the wall. And Almeida’s troops were below.

With more and more masses of magic power falling in that concentrated area, confusion filled the Domos army and archers sent a rapid stream of fire arrows down at them.

Carnap and Almeida attempted to draw back their troops and allow them to spread out, but the earthen walls and trench they had crossed earlier got in the way and they could not regroup properly. They instead wandered aimlessly in that narrow space and were quickly picked off by the arrows.

It seemed the earthen walls and trenches had not been for defense. They were to restrict Domos’s movements once they had been drawn in to the castle’s walls.

“Give the order to withdraw. No more attack is needed here. Have them temporarily withdraw.”

Even Lorent sounded concerned as he commanded a withdrawal. Because he could guess what the enemy would do next.

“Pass a message to Stephan and Naja. The enemy is going to make a counterattack, so they need to cover for the withdrawing troops.”

On Lorent’s instructions, the armored cavalry and flying dragon soldiers waiting in the rear of the Domos army began to move. But that command proved to be too late.

“The enemy is like a trapped rat! Don’t let them leave alive!”

The closed castle gate reopened and a War Goddess in a pure white uniform descended upon the battlefield.

Lucy wielded a long spear and she was followed by Clanarian soldiers driven mad by a desire for revenge.

They were not great in number, but they were enough to make a difference in the narrow land between the earthen walls, trenches, and castle wall.

The Domos soldiers were packed in too tight to swing their weapons while the Clanarian soldiers could swing their weapons and hit an enemy without even aiming.

Trapped between attacks on the ground and from above, Domos was crushed and cut down.

This was not a battle; it was a slaughter. They were unilaterally swept aside.

“Ahhh, what are you doing? Fire.”

Naja’s flying dragon unit rushed to their allies’ aid and fired arrows from even higher than the castle walls.

But unlike during the Battle of Corlal Field, they did not bring a major change to the battle. This time, Clanaria had thought up a flying dragon countermeasure.

“That is wind magic. With these distortions to the air currents, your dragons cannot fly.”

When Virginia saw the dragons approaching, she immediately set up wind barriers around the castle walls.

Several layers of distorted air defended against the archery attack and affected control of the dragons, so this magic killed two birds with one stone.

“Tch, what a pain.”

Naja and her dragon knights nearly lost control, so they quickly pulled back.

However, the Domos troops on the surface had succeeded in withdrawing while Clanaria’s attention was briefly on the sky.

Then again, calling it a withdrawal sounded nice, but it was more like Carnap, Almeida, and the rest fled for their lives.

“No further counterattack is necessary. Do not leave the fences. Return to the castle.”

Lucy ordered her soldiers to withdraw. Outside the fences and trenches, Stephan had his cavalry prepared for the enemy. Heading out there would only get Lucy’s soldiers killed.

Clanaria’s advantage was limited to the narrow space between the castle wall and those trenches and fences.

But a win was a win.

“Raise a cry of victory, for we have won.”

“Hip hip hooray!”

This was Clanaria’s first strategic victory over Domos after a long string of defeats.

Not only did the soldiers cheer, but Virginia launched colorful magic into the sky from atop the castle wall.

“Ohhh ho ho ho. As long as I remain with you, our victory is guaranteed?”

The first attack had ended in failure, so Lorent quickly gathered his commanders and discussed countermeasures.

They had sent in 2000 soldiers and received 400 casualties, while the enemy had taken almost no damage at all. That was only a small part of their army, but it was still a crushing defeat.

“It would seem they still have quite a tactician among them.”

Those sexy sanpaku eyes, which were said to charm the female heart with the visible white on the bottom, were directed at Almeida whose prized beard was half burned and at Carnap whose pompously neat black hair was a complete mess.

Lorent was not as much of a cruel tyrant as his public image led one to believe, but he was not a foolish leader who gave important positions to incompetent people, so he was known to purge commanders as an example to others.

“I recognize that you did your absolute best. It was my mistake to carelessly attack those solid walls. But I expect you to fight valiantly to prove I am not mistaken about you. We will make an all-out attack at a later date, so work to regroup your troops before then.”

Lorent’s voice remained entirely calm, but that made it an icy blade that stroked across the kneeling generals’ necks.

He was implicitly telling them they must make up for this failure in the next battle and, if they did not, they would lose their heads.

They next discussed a plan of attack on Curling, but they could not reach a consensus.

Lorent and the rest of the Domos commanders had never before attacked a castle as large as this.

There was a suggestion to attack in waves of 1000 to exhaust the enemy, but there was a greater risk of the repeated defeats sending Domos into full retreat before the enemy tired. Domos’s staff officers were not so foolish that they failed to predict that.

“Hopard, what do you think? Have you never considered how to attack this castle?”

When Lorent’s interest turned in his direction, the defeated general paused to think with a complicated look on his face.

He could have refused to answer by saying he did not serve Lorent until Curling Castle had fallen, but Hopard was drawn in by the conqueror’s charisma.

“I have thought day and night how to defend this castle,” he began. “The defenses of Curling Castle’s walls must be among the greatest on the continent. But it is an economic city, so many waterways flow into the city. That may be a weakness.”

“…Waterways.”

It seemed castles here were indeed built differently from the ones back in Domos.

Water supply and sewage infrastructure were maintained and they formed a labyrinthine structure belowground, so Hopard said it was possible for people to pass through there.

Lorent nodded as he viewed a map showing the shape of the walls surrounding Curling.

“Understood. I will take your idea into consideration.”

With that, Domos’s basic strategy was decided.

“Anyway, I can see now why Lucy and Virginia are known as great women,” sighed Stephan.

Lorent smiled like a proud man-eating tiger.

“If they are beautiful women, I would love to make them mine. Taming a stubborn and intelligent woman is amusing in the same way as conquering a kingdom.”

Ansandra had been drawn to her husband’s shining ambition, but she was unsure how to respond when he said he wanted her sister and friend as his mistresses. She simply blushed and nodded.

Then she changed the subject.

“I will use what connections I have.”

She prepared herself for what was to come. There was no going back now.

Quickly conquering Curling was the fastest way to end this series of tragedies.

To accomplish that, she wrote letters asking her acquaintances to betray Clanaria and had them attached to arrows that were fired into the city. Virginia and Lucy would assume she was being forced to write them and ignore what they said, but Ansandra still put her heart and soul into writing the letters.

The following day, the Domos army had Kubdai, Vatistuta, and Lumishas’s units work together to remove the trenches and earthen walls constructed around Curling Castle’s walls.

Of course, Clanaria was not going to let them do that, so they sent a downpour of magic bullets and arrows from the castle walls and sent out foot soldiers armed with long spears.

Fighting while filling in the trenches was extremely difficult.

Domos did not push themselves too hard, so they would pull back when Clanaria’s resistance grew too great and approach again once the enemy left. They kept up the fight between the plain-looking trenches and earthen walls.

They were like cats greedily walking around some hot porridge.

After keeping up that seemingly ineffectual attack for ten days, the Domos soldiers looked anxiously up at the unshaken Clanarian capital of Curling.

“Are we going to waste a few more days like this and then retreat when our supplies run out?”

It was while they began whispering those concerns late at night that a visitor came for Ansandra.

“Mimi’s brother!?”

Ansandra immediately authorized the visit when Head Maid Granmars whispered who it was in her ear.

The person who appeared was fairly short for a man. He was a young man named Legins.

“Thank you very much for the letter asking after my foolish sister. Mimi went missing a few days ago, so I hope you are not offended that I read the letter in her place.”

“I see… So Mimi isn’t there.”

Ansandra was worried, but this was an age of war. The girl could have lost her life anywhere. But knowing that girl, Ansandra had a feeling she would show up as cheerful as ever once everything was over.

“I have a lot of influence as a merchant. I could even get inside the castle.”

“Eh…!?”

Getting inside that fortified castle was no small feat, but this young man must have known a secret way. The look on his face urged her not to inquire further, so she did not. It may not have been a route that anyone other than him could use.

“You seem to be asking around for traitors. Well, I have a suggestion there. Please provide a document ensuring the safety of Miss Frangese, who once served as your maid.”

“…”

Ansandra gasped at this unexpected suggestion.

Frangese was a little girl of only 4. Contacting her would not accomplish much of anything. The political significance was found in her father.

He was Clanaria’s Minister of Finance Madeley. He was known as a financier, but he had such perfect integrity that no one had ever found cause to talk about him behind his back. Ansandra highly doubted he would betray his homeland.

“Can you pull something off with that?”

“I can.”

She was doubtful, but the young man would not have made the offer unless he was confident.

She gulped once and held her head high as she responded.

“Understood. I look forward to your efforts. Once you succeed, you will be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams.”

The final decision was hastened by news from the rear. General Lumishas of former Sulbey royalty gave a report at a war council.

“Early word has arrived from my father back home. He says there are signs of a rebellion beginning.”

The military commanders fell silent.

They all knew the time limit had arrived.

All told, Clanaria was far more powerful than Domos. They could easily imagine how Domos’s position would rapidly decline in a long-term battle.

It was entirely possible that Clanaria’s strategy had been to draw in Domos’s main force, send spies to Domos-controlled territory, and foment rebellion.

Lorent had gathered a fanatic level of faith in Domos itself, but he was no more than an invader in Celeste and Sulbey.

It would surprise no one if there were people in those lands that would believe a rebellion could succeed if they had the cooperation of a large kingdom like Clanaria.

If the Sulbey region was sealed off by a rebel army, Domos’s army would lost its path back home.

So if they lost here, they would be truly eradicated.

(The standard choice would be to pull back before the Sulbey rebellion grows and extinguish those flames. Either that or go for an all-or-nothing bet on conquering Curling.)

The preparations for an all-out attack were making progress, but there were no absolutes in war.

They should withdraw here. Continuing on would be too risky a bet.

But they all knew their king’s temperament.

“…”

Lorent said nothing as he left the encampment.

The outside was dyed blood red by the setting sun.

Lorent mounted his beloved steed Black Flame Hair, rode out to the front of his army, drew Fang of the Demon God, and held that great sword toward heaven.

“We will now make an all-out attack. Tonight shall mark Clanaria’s demise. Do not allow the Clanaria Kingdom to see the sunrise.”

His black bronco, black breastplate, and black blade glittered gold with the last rays of the sun.

He looked sinisterly beautiful and the people were convinced anew that he was the conqueror who had the devil’s favor.

Then Ansandra walked out in a translucent red dress and spread her arms before the troops.

“There is no good or evil in war. It is the victor who continues writing history. It is the victor who defines justice. Much blood must be spilled whenever the gears of history turn. We must use any means necessary to build a lasting peace for the future. So win. Do so and the world will smile upon you.”

Her plentiful blonde hair blew in the dust of the battlefield and every curve of her body showed through her dress with the setting sun behind her.

Her breasts had grown, her stomach was slender, and her butt had filled in. She had a sex appeal no one would expect from a girl still in her teens, but that may have come from how very much sex she was having.

She had the divine beauty of a goddess. But goddesses came in many varieties. This goddess accepted slaughter in the name of mercy and she was overflowing with a frightening level of sensual beauty.

“As the wife of Domos King Lorent and the legitimate ruler of Clanaria, I have but one command: bring ruin to Clanaria.”

She was a wicked woman who had turned on her homeland. Her beautiful body was wrapped in cloth seemingly stained with blood, and nothing could have been more appropriate for a conqueror’s wife.

Lorent smiled in satisfaction, reached an arm down from his horse, wrapped it around that demon-charmed woman’s slender body, and exchanged a passionate kiss with her.

“As you can see, Clanarian women are beautiful nymphomaniacs. So go get one for yourselves, men.”

“Ohhhhh!!!”

After their king and queen’s encouragement, the soldiers’ morale was sky high.

Domos soldiers were generally uninterested in the finer points of strategy. They preferred all-or-nothing attacks.

“Every last soldier continue after me. We will take Curling as the first step toward conquering the continent.”

The army led by a bloodthirsty demon king began attacking the castle with its full strength.

“It appears Domos is making an all-out attack. King Lorent has been seen in the lead.”

Lucy climbed to the top of a lookout tower after receiving that report.

The western sky was dyed a brilliant orange by the setting sun. When she looked down, she saw the entire Domos army spread out lengthwise and widthwise and filling the air with shouts and war drums.

A forest of the Domos army’s Divine Wolf flags rose up with an extra-large Golden Dragon flag in the center.

Next to it was a man on horseback whose black armor shined gold in the reflected sunlight.

No one told her so, but she instinctually knew that was Domos King Lorent.

Upon realizing that, Lucy nocked an arrow in her bow and loosed it.

(Hit him!)

This was at the farthest reaches of a bow’s range, but it was worth trying for Lucy who was skilled enough to be known as a divine archer.

“Wha-…!?”

She was dumbfounded when she saw what had become of her arrow as it flew right on target.

She had not expected to actually kill him, but she had hoped to injure him and laugh at him if he fell from his horse. But Lorent actually caught the flying arrow in his right hand.

Even if the arrow’s force had weakened at the far end of its range, that was the kind of trick only a stage performer would be able to pull off.

(Impossible…)

After performing that seemingly superhuman feat, Lorent nocked the same arrow in his own bow and fired it.

The arrow stabbed deep into the castle wall below Lucy’s feet.

(How powerful an archer is he…?)

Lucy’s heart was filled with awe and fear as she stared blankly at the enemy.

“Curse that barbarian king. It looks like the shock has finally worn off. Does he think he can breach these walls if he takes the lead to drive up morale? The fool.”

It took a fair amount of effort for Lucy to muster a daring and cold smile.

“Let’s show him what Curling’s defenses can do. Draw in the enemy, return fire with magic bullets and arrows from the walls, and give pursuit when their ranks crumble. This must be a last-ditch effort for Domos. Work hard, everyone.”

Clanaria’s army also raised their voices and beat their war drums as they prepared to meet Domos in battle.

Lucy had been taught military strategy by her father Albare, so she was confident she accurately understood Domos’s circumstances and mentality. The one fear in her heart was that that fearsome man had no strategy in mind and was simply making a straightforward all-out attack.

“Charge!”

When Lorent looked up at the towering white walls and roared that command, hooves rumbled along the ground and Domos approached.

They attacked through the areas where the fences and trenches had been filled in over the past several days.

The cavalry changed direction when they were about to run right into the white wall.

They circled to the left and right while right up alongside the wall and they fired arrow after arrow from horseback.

Undaunted, the Clanarian soldiers launched magic and loosed fire arrows.

After using the 20 arrows in each of their quivers, Domos’s first wave left the castle wall and the second wave rushed in.

This time, they did not change direction in front of the wall and instead fired or set up grappling hooks and ladders which they used to climb up.

“Don’t let them up! Knock them down!”

On Lucy and Virginia’s orders, hundreds of arrows and magic attacks poured down on the enemy.

The Domos soldiers clinging to the wall were knocked down one after another, but the lucky ones continued climbing.

Then the third wave arrived.

They spread out to the left and right while right alongside the white wall and fired arrows from horseback.

With their support, a few dozen of the second wave successfully reached the top of the wall.

“Kill them!”

With a yell, the Domos soldiers let their bared blades flash as they raced across the wall.

They were met by a dull and shiny wall of spear tips. The Domos soldiers were skewered by that wall, gave off a spray of blood, and fell back down to their allies on the ground.

But the Domos soldiers ignored their allies’ corpses and rushed to the wall.

Eventually, Domos had made five all-out attacks, but Clanaria had successfully driven back each one.

The castle walls glowed white even at night and they seemed entirely impregnable. Domos had to have already lost more than 2000. Clanaria’s losses were not insignificant, but they were thought to be less than half of Domos’s.

“They just keep up this hopeless attack…”

Clanaria could sense Domos’s incredible intensity, but Lucy’s calculations told her Clanaria could win this. But then during the 6th wave…

“Fire! Fire is flowing inside!”

Screams rose from the city.

Curling was a large city with highly-maintained waterways. The enemy had apparently sent oil through one waterway and then thrown a fireball in after it. Flames raced across the water’s surface.

“Oh, no!? Did Lorent take the lead to distract us from this plan?”

The ten days of seemingly meaningless fighting had been a means of securing the entrance to the waterways.

After realizing the enemy’s plan, Lucy gave up any attempt to head outside the walls and took the soldiers under her direct command back into the city.

The magic soldiers led by Virginia and the archers could handle protecting the castle walls for a while.

The autumn sun was said to set quickly, but even after it had fully set and stars filled the sky, the city was still lit by the bright red flames.

Lucy raced to the scene on her white horse, but the flames would not be put out.

The enemy was using wind magic to send in oxygen and intensify the flames. And as the wind whipped, the fire would spread to the wooden houses near the waterway.

“Put out the fire! Don’t let it spread to the buildings. Immediately tear down any building that is burning or about to burn!”

Lucy barked an order that was strategically sound, but was nothing but trouble for the people who lived there.

She wanted to set up a wind barrier to weaken the fire, but Domos’s magic forces were apparently focused on this plan and the wind barrier simply would not take.

“Wh-what is that…!?”

Human silhouettes appeared within the conflagration on the water.

Domos infantry had entered the castle after the fire. They had traveled through the waterway even as their own armor was set ablaze.

That suicide squad was led by Burns, the unfortunate young man whose balls had been bitten off by the madwoman Dominic.

Luckily, his balls had been reattached with magic healing. There were rumors that the psychological scars had left him impotent…but it seemed he was not that weak-willed after all.

“Daryaaaaah!!! I’ll hog all the glory for myself again!!! And then I’ll be rewarded with a kiss from Lady Dominic!!!”

Burns advanced while swinging around a mace that had to weigh as much as Dominic. He was foolhardiness itself, but his actions had a great effect on enemy and ally alike.

He had made a name for himself (for better or for worse) at the Battle of Corlal Field, so he had volunteered for this dangerous mission so that he would no longer be known as the man who had his balls bitten off by a woman. And he was achieving actual results here.

The large man seemed several sizes larger than he really was. He was the type who grew more talented the more he accomplished. What had once been a simple young man had grown into an incomparable hero.

“Ahhhhh… The enemy has made it inside the castle walls.”

A few Clanarian soldiers uttered groans of despair and collapsed, but Lucy swiftly provided new instructions.

“Use ice magic. Freeze the entire waterway.”

A chill soon poured down from all directions and the waterway froze with the Domos soldiers inside it. Burns became an ice sculpture out in front of the rest.

“Ohhh ho ho ho? This is a largescale magic experiment. There is no need to hold back. Keep firing that magic like crazy!”

The defense of the castle wall had intensified even further.

The Domos army had made eight waves of attacks, but Princess Virginia’s heroic actions had saved and supported the Clanarian army.

The deadly battle was primarily fought on the north side of Curling Castle, so Clanaria’s focus was naturally turned to the north. One woman smiled to herself as she looked up at the south wall.

The female knight was lightly armored and had her red hair roughly tied back.

“Honestly, you’re so busy covering your tits you’ve left your ass wide open?”

Naja laughed cheerfully as she led her flying dragon unit up into the night sky.

“Now’s the time. Jump onto the wall.”

Around 100 brave warriors had been clinging to the backs of the flying dragon knights and they now jumped down onto Curling’s castle wall.

“Okay, get going! Everyone in there is an enemy, so kill them all!”

This suicide squad was led by Shigsal.

That extremely young member of the Pixy clan led Domos soldiers who wore no armor and only wielded hand axes.

Of course, the Clanarian army had not left the south gate entirely unguarded. But just as this attack from the sky caught them unawares, veteran commander Stephan made an assault with his unit.

“Werner, you handle this.”

“As you wish.”

The man who took the lead was a long-time hero of the Domos army. People referred to him as Werner the Decapitator.

He was not just now making a name for himself like Burns. There was not a soldier in Domos who had not heard of his exploits.

Thanks to the enemy’s confusion, Werner arrived at the south gate without anyone stopping him and he swung his massive sword.

He broke through the great metal gate with deafening sounds of destruction.

“Okay, we’re in. Follow after Werner!”

The encouraged Domos soldiers rushed in with swords held high. The cornered Clanarian soldiers desperately fought back.

An intense melee developed and the outer edge of Curling Castle was filled with a flurry of blades and spears.

The Domos army had a slight advantage in this sort of battle. Screams of despair echoed across the walls. Nevertheless, the Clanarian resistance intensified. Swords, spears, and other blades clashed together while the stone pavement and stairs below their boots grew red and slick with the blood of both sides.

“Minister of Finance Madeley has surrendered to the enemy.”

Lucy glared silently at the castle wall when that bad news arrived. Each gate had been breached in what seemed like a chain reaction.

“That settles it…”

Ansandra breathed a sigh that could have been relief or despair as she heard the new development while trembling in a carriage at the rear of the Domos army.

The betrayal of one of Clanaria’s highest officials would be a great shock.

She heard the screams of Clanaria’s people and the cheers of Domos’s. Anyone could tell the victor had just been decided. More and more of Clanaria’s soldiers were killed or ran out of strength and surrendered.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Dubuc had been banging his wooden staff against the castle wall to encourage the Clanarian troops, but as the enemy pushed in like a tsunami and allies collapsed all around him, even he prepared to jump to his death. But just before he could, Shigsal reached him and took him prisoner.

“Do not fall back! This battle shall determine whether we must flee to some other kingdom or not!”

Uldarg put up an impressive fight as he defended the north gate where fighting was fiercest.

That former aide to the late General Albare had 4 sword wounds and 6 arrow wounds, but he continued fighting back against the gathering Domos army with the ferocity of a lion.

He had initially used a sword, but that proved too unwieldy here and he began swinging around a large machete instead.

As he fought, he found he had been dragged outside the gate. He saw the enemy commander named Almeida within that melee.

“He must be an important figure in Domos to wear such fine armor. If I slayed him, I could die with no regrets.

The wild warrior brandished his large machete, kicked his horse, and raced straight toward Almeida.

“Very well. I will send you to the afterlife.”

Almeida was forced to raise his spear against Uldarg.

Sparks flew from their weapons and their horses crashed into each other.

The impact was so great they both wobbled in their saddles.

Uldarg’s fierce courage was no less than Almeida’s iron courage, but their horses were a different matter. The front legs of Uldarg’s steed crumbled and he was thrown to the ground. Domos soldiers rushed in to cut him down.

A pillar of blood erupted…but from the Domos soldiers.

Uldarg had rolled along the ground while swinging his large machete to slice through the enemy soldiers. He hopped to his feet and clicked his tongue in disappointment when Almeida was nowhere to be seen, but then he spotted a new target.

“General Hopard!? You were honored with the position of Left General and yet you sold out your kingdom, you immoral traitor! How dare you set foot in the land of your ancestors once more!”

Hopard was surprised to hear his name shouted with such rage.

The wild warrior had no horse or helmet and ran over with nothing but a bloody machete.

Hopard could have argued his case, but he was not given the time. More importantly, Lorent had graciously not punished him as a prisoner of war and he had come on horseback to see the final moments of his doomed homeland. It was obvious what that would look like.

Hopard caught the bloody blade on a metal fan, but the difference in intensity was even greater than the difference in combat skill. After the third exchange, he abandoned the metal fan and turned his horse around. Uldarg prepared to swing the large machete down on the fleeing man’s back, but then an arrow flew in from the side and pierced his left eye.

“Hgh.”

Even that berserker came to a brief stop. But then he forcibly pulled out the arrow. His eyeball came with it, but he threw it aside all the same.

He was more frustrated that a second target had escaped him.

His remaining, bloodshot eye raced around in search of another target, but then the wall of cavalry opened up to either side.

“What…?”

He saw a large black horse ridden by a tall man with perfect proportions. His face was made from deep, graceful lines and his sanpaku eyes gave off an intense light He looked unreal in the light of the magic and fire flying all around them.

He was accompanied by a woman with notably large breasts for her slender frame who rode on a chestnut horse. Uldarg recognized her as the one who had come to Curling Castle to demand they surrender.

“Your Majesty…”

Dominic gave a warning when that bloodshot eye reached her. Lorent silently nodded and drew his great sword.

“…Domos King Lorent.”

Uldarg gasped at his incredible luck.

While wandering the melee, he had happened across the enemy’s supreme commander who he had sworn revenge against. Taking this man’s head would change everything. It would cost Uldarg his life, but no opponent would be more valuable.

“Your head is miiiiine!”

Uldarg gave a roar and raced across the ground. He raised his large machete overhead with an arm soaked to the elbow in blood.

Thick blades crossed, a rainbow light flashed, the heavy clashing of metal rang out, and it was all absorbed by the autumn night. The force of the impact knocked Uldarg’s entire body back and he collapsed to the ground.

“Gh…”

He was a great warrior. Not as great as Lorent, but the gap was not so great that it should have ended in a single exchange. However, Uldarg had already used up too much of his stamina.

He tried to get back up when another attack was incoming, but that was when he made a mistake.

He normally thought of his armor as no different from normal clothing, but it now felt unbelievably heavy.

The badly injured warrior glared at his sworn enemy with regret burning fiercely in his one eye.

Lorent asked a question from horseback.

“What is your name?”

“Uldarg.”

The exhausted man spat back the answer and then gathered all the strength remaining in his body to roar up at the other man.

“But I am also known as the man who curses Domos King Lorent. Barbarian, do not think your cursed luck will last forever. Your path is paved with blood and you will one day pay the price for your evil deeds. I will become a vengeful spirit that will destroy Domos. Wa ha ha ha ha ha!!!”

Uldarg laughed like a madman and swung his machete down at his own throat.

The fountain of blood reached as far as Lorent’s cheek.

“Hmph. Say whatever you like.” Lorent looked disappointed because he had hoped to capture the man and have him fight for him. “I will soon have thousands of vengeful spirits cursing me, so I can’t let a curse from the likes of you bother me.”

Just then, Lorent’s left cheek reflected a bright light. Dawn had arrived. The light rose from the distant eastern horizon and it illuminated the white castle wall which had been scarred by magic bullets and arrows.

With so many of its blades broken and quivers empty, the Clanarian army was losing the ability to fight in an organized fashion. When Lorent received word that all four gates had been taken, he gave an order.

“Okay, enter the castle. You are free to take what riches and women you find. But kill no one who surrenders. Now go.”

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