VOLUME 3: CHAPTER 160 – THE BATTLE OF PIANA HILL I (1/2)
The western army Gowen led numbered approximately 1700 men strong .
It was on the beginning of the month of Toura that the goblins met them .
The touch of the wind was yet cold, the twin moons still had that poor countenance from the winter, and the wings of Werdna (Goddess of Darkness) veiled the squirming ones .
“Found them!” The leader of the wolf pack, Gi Gu Verbena, drew his long sword and axe as he ferociously laughed .
“Great brother!” Gu Big, Gu Long, and Gu Tough called out, then they sent the messengers to the king . “Let the king know, we’ve found the enemy . ”
Reflected on the goblins’ eyes that could see even in the dark was a great number of humans they have never seen before .
To the goblins, the night was no different from afternoon . They could clearly see the human camp illuminated by watch fires .
“Nu…” Gi Gu groaned when he recalled that time they attacked the human camp . Back then the humans used wagons for fences, but this time around, the humans had a properly built fence and even a moat .
The defensive structures of the camp couldn’t be that sturdy as it had to accommodate an army encompassing 1700 soldiers, but when Gi Gu thought of how difficult the previous battle was, he couldn’t help but frown .
“Humans are truly meticulous . ”
According to the king’s plan, they would be attacking the human reinforcements meant to save the colonial city .
Because of that Gi Gu was expecting the humans to be panicked . He did not expect them to actually take their time, even going as far as to make camp .
“If they hadn’t made camp, I was thinking of attacking, but…”
The southern goblins Gi Go led numbered at most 500 . If he were to follow the guerrilla tactics the king had taught him, it should be possible, but only if the enemy had an opening .
“Let’s try pry their guard open, shall we?”
Gi Gu learned from his battle with the killer ants that pushing on despite the odds could greatly tax the army . Gi Gu may have been given the duty of vanguard, but he had not lost sight of his main mission .
The night was the hour of monsters . Currently, the enemy seemed to be biding their time, so it didn’t seem wise to just show themselves nonchalantly before them .
“Send the beasts . If the enemy moves, attack!”
The southern beast tamers raised peculiar beasts . The beast tamers of the Gi Village preferred to raise double heads and triple boars, but the southern beast tamers raised southern beasts . Hence, they raised beasts such as the dino, elephants with giant tusks, or dinohius, boars with abnormally developed tusks .
On top of the warm climate of the south, the southern beasts were also bigger .
Because of that normal goblins couldn’t become beast tamers in the south . Rare was the lowest class that could start on the path of a beast tamer .
“But Great Brother… The king might catch up,” Gu Long said .
Gi Gu laughed . “Great! In that case, we’ll be able to show his majesty a bloodbath . ”
“Great Brother is great!” Gu Long praised .
Gi Gu patted the three siblings, then he started giving instructions .
The night had only just begun, and the twin moons that shone dazzlingly in the night sky were crescent in shape .
As the yet cold evening winds blew, Gowen looked toward the darkness of Werdna’s wings .
The old wound in his shoulder ached as he muttered, “something doesn’t feel right . ”
For someone like Gowen, who was an old veteran, he could sense the strange uneasiness in the air .
The scouts he’d sent said nothing was amiss, but he still felt something wasn’t right .
“We need to go help the colonial city as soon as possible, but… This pressure, this feeling… Could it be?”
The beacons of the colonial city showed that the city was holding just fine .
The clever goblins weren’t able to close in on Yuan .
The last battle with the goblins really helped Yuan grow, after all . He was no longer that same weak kid he was back then .
He was talented to begin with, so after a little polish, he’s finally become a decent commander .
—But the battlefield isn’t so simple .
Gowen was currently the western feudal lord, a holy knight, and a famed soldier renowned as the Iron-Armed Knight . But when he was just starting out, it wasn’t all smooth sailing .
He would lose one battle, only to lose the next, but it was by surviving those battles that Gowen gradually became stronger .
Grasping victory wasn’t an easy thing .
If they were only battling a normal horde of monsters, Gowen wouldn’t be so wary and would honestly be happy over his subordinate’s progress .
But the enemy this time were those goblins .
“Could it be… Could it be that the goblins planned this?”
Did they intentionally surround the colonial city to flush out the reinforcements and crush them?
The colonial city wouldn’t fall easily . It was made specifically to defend against the goblins, so it was only a given .
“So they spared themselves the trouble of throwing themselves against the wall and decided to attack the main force, huh?”
A siege battle did not suit the goblins .
Such a battle would usually be fought through siege weapons or through an endless wave of human resource .
The goblins couldn’t possibly have any siege weapons, so that would leave them with no other choice but to overwhelm it to take it down .
The more Gowen thought about it, the more convinced he became . The goblins must’ve abandoned the colonial city and decided to attack the main force .
“I’ve been had,” Gowen grit his teeth as he came to that conclusion .
If the goblins doesn’t come in the night, they might come when dawn breaks . No, they’ll probably come right before the sun rises .
“But… This is a good opportunity . ”
If the goblins were going to fight them on this plain, then nothing could be better . After all, the humans had the advantage on the plains . They couldn’t possibly lose .
A faint smile appeared on Gowen’s face as he thought of a plan to decimate the goblin horde with .
“Let’s bring them to Piana’s Hill . ”
After thinking for awhile, Gowen went back to the tent, where his officers were gathered
He had much to do .
In the plains shrouded by morning fog was a small hill to the west and a small forest to the east that was not so easily discernible .
On the plains, Gowen gave out orders to his officers to prepare for departure .
They would be moving their forces out today as scheduled .
Preparations to deal with the goblins have already been made, so they could move at ease .
The soldiers folded their tents and disassembled the fences, then they packed them back into their carts and handed them over to the supply platoon .
The soldiers then took their breakfast in turns .
They had only been training for a year, but they moved like flowing water, as if they knew exactly what had to be done . This was the result of their daily training and Gowen’s leadership .
“Commanders, we will be moving today as planned . Remember to keep calm at all times,” Gowen said as he ate with the officers .
The officers did not eat differently from the regular soldiers . They ate the same hard bread and dried meat provided by the supply platoon .
After eating, the western army moved away from the forest, and up the small hill . Of course, they made sure to stay vigil of the forest as they moved . When they reached the small hill, Gowen ordered the army to move further west, causing the army to move directly away from the forest .
“Hmm… They sure are biding their time,” Gowen muttered to himself as he watched the forest from behind .
The western army moved with the cavalry at the front, followed by the chariots, then the supply platoon, the magic platoon, and lastly, the infantry under Gowen’s direct command .
Gowen was trying to lure the goblins hiding in the forest .
—Look! My back is wide open!
Even when the slow-moving supply platoon and mage platoon changed course, there were no signs of attack coming from the forest . No, there were signs, but they were being desperately kept in check .
The goblins were careful . Seeing that, Gowen couldn’t help but grow tense .
Gowen had ordered the cavalry to go scout the path up ahead . They have already been briefed yesterday by Gowen on what to look out for, specifically ambushes or anything that might hinder the army, so they were able to masterfully carry out their orders .
“Reporting! No signs of enemy,” the messenger reported .
Gowen nodded at the messenger’s report, then he looked out over Piana Hill .
If one were to look at the hill from up the sky, he would quickly note that the terrain in Piana Hill was like that of a wave . Climb up one hill, and another would come . The hills were connected to each other, forming an image just like that of a wave . That wave-like terrain extended 7 kilometers east and west .
It was the kind of place that would lead one to think he’s finally reached the bottom, only to realize that there was another hill waiting .
It was a place unsuitable for battle, but Gowen purposely picked it out .
The goblins wouldn’t attack without an opening .
And the fact that they wouldn’t do so without one – as proven last night – proved that there was someone clever among them .
Gowen wished to trap that clever goblin .
Right now, he was saying, ‘Look! I’m open . Don’t you want a piece of this?’ But the moment that goblin takes that bait, Gowen would destroy him and his entire army .
It was because of that that Gowen had been showing his back to the forest .
When they had finally gotten down the hills for the second time, a report came .
“Enemy attack! Goblins are attacking from behind!” The messenger reported .
Gowen’s lips curved into a smile as he looked behind .
At the top of the hill were beasts and goblins moving together .
“Cavalry, tell the chariots to move out! Execute the plan,” Gowen said .
“Yes, my lord!” The messenger said .
Gowen did not bother to turn back to the messenger as he gave out orders to the infantry . ”
“Length and Width Formation!”
At Gowen’s behest, the company commanders and platoon commanders moved their infantry . If one were to look at the formation from behind, one would see that the formation of the western army was shaped just like a rectangle .
“Maintain half a spear’s length between each other!”
Even as Gowen gave out orders, his gaze never left the goblin army that was making its way down the hill .
“Never seen those beasts before, but they’re probably variants of the shell elephants (derino) . And those odd-looking boars are probably a relative to the triple boars . ”
Gowen calmly analyzed the beasts as he continued giving orders .
“One row, move one step to the left!”
It was an odd order, but the soldiers followed nevertheless . Trust and reverence made Gowen’s orders absolute in their hearts .
The army of goblins and beasts descended from the hill with coordination none would expect from monsters . When they were only 200 meters away, Gowen shot his bow at the beasts .
“The targets are big! Keep calm and shoot!” The archer platoon commander said .
The archers smiled faintly at the ‘keep calm and shoot’ joke .
With their tension released, the archers were able to calmly shoot their bows .
Arrows rained down upon the goblin army, but though many of the beast tamers riding atop the beasts were shot down, the greater majority of them were fine .
Worse off were the beasts themselves . The beasts would never forget the pain of being covered in arrows .
The beasts turned a deaf ear toward their masters (beast tamers), and in their rage, charged toward the resentful humans .
But the humans were ready, their infantry wielded their spears as they waited for the beasts to reach them .
“Front row, one step to the left!”
The soldiers at the front row shifted to the left .
The beasts wanted to trample the humans, but all of the sudden, the humans before them vanished, and what greeted them was a path enclosed by human walls .
Dino-type and boar-type beasts were never skilled at changing direction . That was even truer for the southern beasts, whose bodies were bigger than their Gi Village counterpart, making it that much harder for them to change directions .
The beasts were left with no other choice but to run the path the humans had prepared for them .
“Throw your spears! Kill the beasts!”
Behind the infantry, atop the slightly elevated hill, was the supply platoon .
Just as Gowen had planned, the beasts coming down the hill was forced into Gowen’s human road, leading them up the hill, where the spear-armed supply platoon was waiting for them .
At the behest of the supply platoon commander, countless spears came flying toward the beasts .
Bolstered by gravity, the spears drew a parabola in the air and penetrated them .
Their flesh skewered, their blood flowing, just like that the enraged beasts were forced to their knees .
The beasts didn’t notice because of their wrath, but they had incurred countless wounds along the way . The resulting blood loss sapped away their strength, keeping them from moving any further .
When Gi Gu Verbena saw what happened to the beasts, heat dried up his brains and he yelled with mad fury . “Bastards! How dare you hurt my cute subordinates!”
Gi Gu drew his long sword and axe . “Slaughter them!”
“GURuoOOOAOO!” The goblins bellowed out in response .
The battle cries of the goblins overlapped each other as it resounded throughout the hills .
“Harpies, inform the king of this place!” Gi Gu said to the harpies flying beside him .
He didn’t bother waiting for a response .
“Onwards!” Gi Gu said as he led the 3 Gu Siblings and the rest of the southern horde into the human army .
When it came to a charge, the army with the greater momentum would obviously have the advantage . The greater the momentum, the easier it will be to tear the enemy apart . Following that logic, Gi Gu Verbena’s decision to attack when the human army was at the bottom was certainly not wrong .
Gi Gu Verbena’s skill was already shown by the fact that they patiently waited before attacking .
“Foolish goblins, let me teach you how to fight in the plains . ”
Unfortunately, there was an enormous gap between the humans and the goblins when it came to battling on the plains . That difference came from the long history of bloodshed that resulted in the birth of tactics and army movement .
“Put your shields up and stop their charge! Closed Formation!”
As soon as Gowen saw the goblins charging, he immediately ordered his men to close the formation and clump up .
This was that same hedgehog-like formation that he’s played countless times back during the battle in the forest .
The humans just clumped up, but with their numbers, they had more than enough to receive the goblins’ attack . To begin with, they had the number advantage .
Despite the formation, Gi Gu and his goblins did not show any signs of stopping .
If they were humans, they would have surely slowed down, gently marched to Gowen’s army, and then begin exchanging blows, but the goblins just kept on charging without a care for the world .
“That’s not the goblin from before,” Gowen said when he saw Gi Gu leading the horde .
This goblin was not the king class from before . This one was at least two sizes smaller than that goblin and the pressure he emanated was also different .
What exactly was this goblin horde?
Could the main force be sieging the colonial city? Could this merely be a plot to buy themselves more time?
No, that would only be possible if the goblins had siege weapons, but the beacon Yuan had lit showed that everything was going well .
That being the case, there might be another goblin horde .
“Regardless, we should cut down the enemy before us quickly . This is a good chance to crush them!”
By the time Gowen finished his short pondering, the goblin vanguards were just about to clash with the clumped up humans .
“GURUuooOOA!” Gi Gu bellowed out a howl as he sent a human’s spear flying and crushed his shield with his axe .
When the humans cowered, the three Gu siblings charged in and bashed their axe into the humans .
Apparently, the charge of a duke class was too great for the closed formation to handle .
As soon as Gowen realized that, he gave out new orders . “I will deal with the big one . The middle line will move back, but the rest will move as we planned!”
“Yes, my lord!” The messenger said .
They humans maintained their closed formation despite the hole as they tried to gradually retreat, but Gi Gu’s charge wouldn’t let them .
The humans are retreating! After them!”
Gi Gu freely swung his axe and sword, mercilessly lopping off spears, shields, arms, legs, and necks .
Goblins swarmed in through the hole Gi Gu had punctured open . Gradually, that small hole grew bigger and bigger . It was only a matter of time before the middle line would collapse .
The goblins were able to push the humans back at the middle line, where Gi Gu fought, but the other parts of the battlefield were currently at a deadlock . That was because the other charges weren’t as powerful as Gi Gu’s . As a result, the humans’ closed formation was able to stop them, and the goblins and humans ended up in a situation where they were pushing each other .
Looking at the whole picture, the goblins were clearly disadvantaged .
That was even truer considering how few this horde numbered .
It was a battle between 500 goblins and 1700 humans, after all .
No matter how much stamina the goblins had, they couldn’t possibly win against an army that was over three times their size .
But that was precisely why Gi Gu decided to use the momentum from running down the hill . His plan was to confuse the enemy with the beast horde, then follow up with a charge of their own .
Unfortunately, Gowen’s calm response and cleverness easily avoided that situation .
They were on the brink of collapse when the beast horde got covered in spears . The fact that Gi Gu was still able to force a deadlock with his next move was about the best he could ask for .
Gi Gu started thinking of a way to retreat while attacking .
As Gi Gu’s long sword buried itself into a human’s armor, he crushed the man’s helmet with his axe, then he looked around him .
If they climb back where they came from, the human archers will shoot them down .
A retreat after a charge wasn’t easy .
Not to mention, they were currently in a place where the hills extended everywhere . Spears and arrows could come falling from atop the hills, and they wouldn’t be able to block them .
It was here that Gi Gu finally realized that they were baited .
Gi Gu grit his molars as he grasped his weapons tight .
Their one saving grace was that they were able to push the middle line .
If they could just break that line, then they would be able to break the other lines too .
His mind made up, Gi Gu swung his weapons once more .
As Gi Gu’s cry resounded, the goblins deepest in the middle line fought fiercer .
But Gi Gu’s encouragement did not last long, for soon after, the sound of hooves reached their ears . It was the cavalry and the chariots that had gone ahead .
Just as Gowen had ordered them, they came from the flanks to surround the goblins .
“On this day, Lord Corseo shall be avenged! Spears!”
The cavalry wielded their spears and attacked the left flank of the goblins . Leading the cavalry was the young platoon leader that Corseo doted upon .
Eyes bloodshot, the platoon commander charged hatefully and unhesitatingly toward the goblins . His subordinates followed after him .
It was as if the late Corseo’s tenacity had possessed the young platoon commander . That fierce charge was enough to collapse the goblins’ attack .
The goblins that got hit by the charge flew into the air, trampled under the hooves of their horses .
After the cavalry collapsed the left flank, they ran around and attacked the left once more .
Seeing that, Gi Gu tried to stop them . “Those in the back, block that cavalry! Throw your spears!”
The tactics Gi Gu had ingrained into his horde was the king’s three-man cell . One goblin to stop the enemy’s attack, one goblin to collapse the enemy’s stance, and one goblin to finish the enemy off .
They have been overwhelming their enemies up till now like that .
Because of that they had to stop the enemy . Unfortunately, the enemy wasn’t so simple . The fact that they could send the goblins flying showed their strength wasn’t normal .
Because of that Gi Gu had to give orders directly .
“Gu Long, Gu tough, Gu Big, I’m leaving this front to you! You must break through!”
“Yes, Great Brother!” The three goblins replied as they fought fiercely at the middle line .
Thinking he could leave that front to them, Gi Gu turned his back, only to hear Gu Tough’s screams right after .
When he turned around again, the three goblins that have been fighting fiercely just a moment ago were all on the ground .
“So you’re the commander,” an old knight with gray hair said .
Gi Gu could tell from the knight’s aura that he was no mere human, so he quickly fixed his posture .
“Who are you!?”
“Gowen Ranid . ”
Realizing that the commander was before him, Gi Gu bellowed out a howl and jumped at the holy knight .
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