BBYW Vol. 1 Interlude 7

 

Interlude 7 – The Feast Starts with Fireworks

 

The first division troops, led by Bjorc Zagann, were proceeding through the mountain. 500 armed soldiers were climbing up the mountain path, stepping over grass, crossing through the bushes.

The scouts previously sent by Eis Halphas had mapped the mountain paths completely.

They had to avoid being seen by anyone for their ambush to succeed, so they chose roundabout paths that the locals seldom used. The faces of the soldiers trailing up the steep mountain paths were showing signs of severe fatigue.

Their morale was still unaffected, however, as they were led by the hero of the imperial army.

After a full day of climbing, they finally reached the mountain top.

“Good, this will be our final rest stop. Once we cross to the other side, the battlefield will be before us!! The empire’s victory depends on us! Steel your resolve, all of you!!”

“Yes Sir!!!”

The troops’ final rest stop was in a valley just before the peak that separated them from Fort Bryden.

The valley was surrounded by tall walls of rock, so there was no risk for anyone to spot them. They could use a nearby stream to replenish their water supplies. It was the ideal spot, as observed by the spies who had explored the area.

“Phew…I’m too old to climb mountains like this.”

Zagann sat on a large rock and sighed. His imposing physique was already over 60 years old: every day he felt his strength leaving him.

“I wish I could retire already and spend my last days in peace. But that will have to wait until the kingdom falls…”

If the empire could subjugate the Maxwell territory in this battle, the fall of the kingdom would be close.

The central nobles, with their lack of any actual battle experience, would crumple like paper before the empire’s invasion. The other margraves were fully occupied with defending their borders, so they would not have the troops to spare.

Forty years had already passed since Zagann first joined the imperial knights. Thinking that his long battle was finally coming to an end, he felt the wrinkles on his face smoothen.

His elite troops were convinced victory would soon be theirs too. They were resting, exhausted by the unfamiliar mountain path, but their eyes brimmed with expectation.

“Phew, I’m beginning to lose it. At a certain age you start losing focus right away…I have to whip the troops into shape before we depart…”

Bump.

“Hm?”

Zagann stood up, thinking to rouse the troops, when something hit his foot. A black sphere had rolled up to him.

He picked it up and saw it was a pot made of clay, with a short rope sticking out of it.

The short rope was burning…

“Troops, head down!!”

Zagann realized what the object really was and shouted.

At the same time, the pot exploded with a thunderous boom.

The boom was not only just one: it was followed by many others all over the valley.

The soldiers’ screams of anger and agony were overwhelmed by the loud explosive sounds, as their silhouettes disappeared in thick black smoke.

 

◯ ◯ ◯

 

“Whoa!! So that’s fireworks!?”

Looking at the series of explosions down the cliff, Ladd cheered loudly.

Excited by his first experience of the power of gunpowder, he lit another clay grenade and threw it down.

I had led Salm, Ladd, and the 30 soldiers assigned to me up the mountain behind Fort Bryden.

We found the empire soldiers in hiding, just as expected, so we took a position above their rest stop and started attacking with the clay pot bombs I had prepared.

“I do not think those are actually fireworks, but…young master, where did you retrieve such things?”

Salm’s reaction was very different from Ladd’s: every explosion made him shudder and tremble.

Nevertheless, he continued throwing down clay grenades, a testament to his serious personality.

Gunpowder and bombs were weapons often used in the southern countries beyond the sea. Their usage was mostly unknown in the kingdom and the empire, as well as how to manufacture them. Apparently, the southern pirates used gunpowder to attack enemy ships.

The damage they caused was clearly substantial.

“It pays off to work hard when young, indeed. My mother loves toys like these, you see.”

Because of that, she often forced me to make them when I was little.

Thanks to that I learned how to make them, which I did from time to time to keep a good number in stock.

“Your Lady Mother…?”

“Hey hey, keep your hands moving, keep throwing. If you’re out of bombs, start shooting arrows!”

“Yes Sir!!”

The Maxwell soldiers started raining arrows on the valley, covered by the black smoke.

They couldn’t properly aim, of course, but for any survivors among the empire troops it was definitely dangerous.

“It’s impressive how you could find the empire’s ambush though. This mountain is really wide, isn’t it?”

“They used spies to explore the mountain after all. If they planned to cross the mountain unnoticed and strike the Maxwell forces from the rear, this was the ideal spot to take a rest.”

The plan was probably conceived by Eis Halphas, the “wise general” of the Twin Wings.

It’s hard to predict how dumb people will act, but smart people act rationally and logically, so it’s not difficult to anticipate their train of thought.

“I’m impressed, young master, truly.”

“Don’t praise me too much, Salm, or I’ll get cocky. Well then, I doubt they’ll be able to regroup and come attack now. They’re going to retreat any moment now…hm?”

“WOOOOOOOHHHH!!!”

A roar even louder than the explosions echoed through the valley, as a giant silhouette emerged from the smoke.

A figure as tall and bulky as a bear climbed ferociously up the cliff, almost running vertically.

“…are you serious…?”

“YOOOOUUUUU BASTARDS!!!”

In no time, the massive figure reached the peak. It belonged to an imperial soldier, who made use of the momentum of his climb to leap in the air and swing down his spear.

“Ghuh!?”

“Waaahhhh!!!”

The incredibly heavy blow shattered the rock and caused a landslide.

Some of the Maxwell soldiers were caught and fell down the cliff.

I managed to keep my footing and glared at the man who delivered such a terrifying blow.

He was one of the Twin Wings, “mighty general” Bjorc Zagann.

The strongest general of the empire pointed his spear towards us.

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