Knight Chevany put down the beastskin map he held in his hand and paced around in circles within his tent. He didn't expect that he would lose up to a company's worth of men, 500 people out of the original 3000, after 10 short days of the expedition since they left Wildnorth Town. The Northland Army was organized in a 5 to 5 system; a regiment had 5 companies, a company had 5 squads while each squad numbered around 100 or more people.
The beastskin was a report submitted to him by a logistics officer. According to it, the light cavalry scouts had 83 casualties, 120 patrol troops were missing and more than 40 soldiers who were felling trees were killed. The casualties for the first attack on the bastide numbered at 74 people and 103 of them got killed during the night assaults on their camps by the Nortons. Combined with the 131 soldiers who died from being crushed by that huge boulder. the total number of casualties had soared above 550 people.
"What other things do you have to tell me?" Knight Chevany asked the logistics officer.
"Um, sir, the soldiers who were injured today number more than 200, among which tens of them might be handicapped for life. Combined with the heavily-injured soldiers, the casualties are at around 300 people. I think that letting them stay within the camp will negatively affect the morale of the soldiers... Sir, you might want to consider sending them to Wildnorth Town to rest up and heal from their injuries..." said the logistics officer.
"Hmmm..." Chevany mused as he stopped pacing around. "You're right, the Norton Family is indeed a family with more than 300 years of history and they are by no means easy to deal with. Our war with them might be drawn out for a long time and it is indeed not good to let the injured continue to stay within the camp. Send them back to Wildnorth Town tomorrow then. Right now, Wildnorth Town might become an extremely important base for us to recover and regain resources. The supplies we got from taking over the town will also last us long enough for a one-and-a-half-year-long siege against Maplewoods Bastide."
The logistics officer said, "Milord, if we're planning a long term siege, we should transport some more supplies back here after we send the injured soldiers to the town. We only brought 15 days' worth of supplies when we first set out and what remains can only last us for 6 days at most."
Knight Chevany nodded and said, "It's better to be prepared. After all, it won't hurt us to have too much supplies. As for whether we will besiege them for the long term, it's still not final until I go over all the strategies we can use first."
"Is what you told me true?" Lorist said with a surprised look.
"Yes, milord. It would take them around 20 minutes to get from there to here. There are 40 horse carriages filled with injured soldiers and which are escorted by three pike cavalrymen squads. Combined with the coachmen, they have a total of 350 plus people. We've been monitoring their camp for the whole time and we received the information the moment they departed."
Lorist made his decision and said, "It's finally time for us to swallow them up. We've been camped out here for 8 days straight and it's finally time to move. Paulobins, notify the four mercenary crews that if they are willing to follow me, they should take the rear so that they don't startle the enemy.
"Waxima, have the rest get ready within ten minutes to set out with me."
To the soldiers of the Northland Army who were returning to Wildnorth Town, it was merely a short journey that would only take them around 90 minutes. They were looking forward to their return as there were quite a number of women within the town. Even though around 400 of them were virgins and were not to be touched as they were to be sold for a high price by the duke, the rest of the 600 or so married women were free for their picking. After being deployed for 10 days, they felt that it was due time for them to enjoy their share of women that their enviable comrades who stayed back at the town have no doubt relished in.
Seeing the defenseless soldiers of the duke approaching, Lorist tugged on the reins and clamped his legs to dig his heels into the abdomen of the horse to spur it forward.
"Kill!" He was the first one who rushed out of the forest.
Javelins flew out like lightning bolts and in the time he traveled the 60 plus meters of distance between the forest and the path, Lorist had killed off more than 20 of the pike cavalrymen escorts before he held up his own pike and started slaughtering away at the rest.
Following closely behind him was Waxima and Paulobins and the three guard squads and family soldiers that they led. The guards were equipped with javelins while the family soldiers were using training longbows. Under the command of Paulobins, they did not rush into the scene of battle and merely attacked from a distance with their arrows and javelins.
The situation around the duke's soldier's convoy descended into chaos almost immediately as the armed escorts struggled to fend off the assault. Hundreds of pike cavalrymen surrounded Lorist while the other hundred plus headed in the direction of the guards and family soldiers that were attacking them from afar.
Sounds of killing, horses neighing and people crying out in agony reverberated throughout the battlefield.
Lorist swung his pike in circles up in the air, covering a circular area around him with a radius of three meters as he rushed forward. Wherever he went, cavalrymen would fall from their mounts with injuries all over them.
Waxima brandished his riding lance which was emanating a brilliant silver blade glow as he rode to Lorist and protected his right flank. The two of them circled around each other like a wheel as they proceeded forward to crush any semblance of resistance the duke's men showed.
One could see a distinct path that was carved straight through from the beginning to the end of the convoy. Apart from the ten or so escaping cavalrymen, no other resisting enemy could be seen across the area. Lorist turned his horse back only to see that less than 100 cavalrymen were still desperately fighting for their lives with the others either lying on the ground or trying to flee in all directions from the rowdy mercenaries that chased them from behind.
The moment one cavalryman fell from his mount, four to five mercenaries leaped towards him right away. By the time they dispersed, only a headless, naked corpse remained on the ground.
The rest of the resisting pikemen were soon killed off by the mercenaries. Having no more enemy to fight, they rushed straight at the injured soldiers within the carriages and caused even more cries of pain and terror to ring out.
Lorist looked at Waxima who was trying his best to keep quiet.
"I thought that you would stop them from harming the injured soldiers," Lorist said.
Waxima shook his head and said, "Well, normally I would, but not this time."
"Why?" Lorist asked curiously.
Waxima sighed and said, "Even though they are injured and defenseless, they are still the ones who have preyed on and killed the citizens of Wildnorth Town who were equally as defenseless as they are now. It is only retribution for them to be killed by the mercenaries..."
"..." Lorist had nothing else to say about the matter.
At that moment, Paulobins brought a number of guards and family soldiers over.
"How are our casualties?" Lorist asked.
Paulobins replied, "Milord, apart from three idiots who were injured by the pikes that were thrown by the enemy, the rest of us didn't even get so much as a scratch as we were attacking from a safe distance without engaging in melee combat."
Lorist was quite satisfied with the results. While eliminating the enemy forces was one thing, ensuring that one's own soldiers survived was also important. Given that the family was situated at the Desolate Northlands, manpower was the thing it lacked the most.
"More than 10 of the enemy have escaped and it would take them around 20 minutes to return to their camp from here. The reinforcements would take another 20 minutes at least to arrive. I give you all 10 minutes to clear up the battlefield. At least the mercenaries seem to be obeying the regulations and not touching our spoils. We only want the mounts, the money pouches and the weapons," Lorist said.
"Yes, milord," replied Paulobins before he ordered his men to start collecting the spoils.
With bodies lying all over the path after the battle, the guards and the family soldiers could be seen busy picking up the javelins and arrowheads that were stuck onto the enemies. The projectiles that they used to attack served as clear markers to indicate to the mercenaries that the soldiers were killed by the family troops and the right to claim the spoils belonged to the family. The bodies that had Lorist's javelins pierced through them were also left untouched. Only the tens of corpses that were killed by him and Waxima which didn't have a clear marking were stripped naked by a few greedy mercenaries.
By the time Knight Chevany led his 50 plus leather armored cavalrymen to the scene, one hour had already passed by. All he could see were naked, headless bodies and severely damaged carriages. All of the coachmen, injured soldiers and the 3 squads of pike cavalrymen were stripped naked and decapitated.
All 700 of them! Apart from tens of pikemen who managed to escape, the rest were all lying there. Knight Chevany was so enraged that he felt like he was about to explode. The soldiers he brought over also looked onto the scene with bloodshot eyes. Resisting his angst and dread, Knight Chevany ordered his men to get off their horses to dig a pit to bury the bodies in before they themselves headed to Wildnorth Town.
After telling the Gold ranked Knight Hennard who was stationed to protect Wildnorth Town about the situation of the battle, Knight Chevany departed after staying for one hour and left behind 200 leather armored troops that would send the supplies from Wildnorth Town over to his camp.
On the afternoon of the next day, the gates of Wildnorth Town opened and more than 20 four-wheeled carriages exited the town. The carriages each carried huge piles of supplies which would be able to last Chevany's troops for 20 additional days. On the flanks of the small convoy, the 200 plus leather armored cavalrymen could be seen. Due to the incident that happened the day before, Knight Hennard also sent along 300 longbowmen along with the convoy to ensure its safety.
Lorist, Waxima and Paulobins were mounted and looking at the group of soldiers from a distant hill.
Paulobins could no longer hold it in and asked, "Milord, aren't we attacking them? They're transporting food and supplies! If we leave now, we might be able to ambush them in time..."
Lorist shook his head and said, "We will not ambush them. That's because our true aim is Wildnorth Town itself."
"That's right. Do you know why I ordered you and the other four mercenary crews to not approach the town and merely observe it from afar?" Lorist asked, before he answered, "That's because I was afraid that you would alert them. The citizens of Wildnorth Town could already defend itself well against us the last time with only 1000 men. And taking into the fact that the mercenaries only fight for money and aren't willing to put their own lives at risk, even if we have up to 1200 people on our side, if the mercenaries aren't willing to give it their all, I'm worried that the burden of facing off against the troops defending Wildnorth Town would fall onto us instead. Even if we manage to take over the town, we wouldn't be able to withstand the counterattack of the enemy outside the town and end up being chased out of it in the end."
Pointing at the supply transport troop of the enemy, Lorist smiled and said, "Right now, our provocation on the enemy worked and they sent 300 of their longbowmen out to accompany the transport convoy. That way, there will be only roughly 700 troops left within the town for defense. If we attack at night, even if the mercenaries aren't willing to fight at the frontlines, we can still take the town with 300 of our own men and the casualties won't be huge either. As long as we manage to reach the walls, the mercenaries will definitely follow along as well if they see that the battle is progressing in our favor. Given that they have already made quite a sum from the duke's army before, I'm sure they wouldn't mind making some more."
Even though the troops of the duke that were escorting the supply convoy arrived at the camp near Maplewoods Bastide safely, Knight Chevany still felt rather troubled. He had brought the 300 of his leather armored cavalrymen to camp within the forests for an ambush before dawn. In the end, the Norton Family troops didn't show up to pillage their convoy. So, they could only follow their convoy back to the camp.
"You all know the rules, right? If any of the members of your crew breaks them, you must punish them yourselves, okay? Don't make me dirty my hands," said Lorist candidly.
The four crew leaders that stood in front of him nodded jointly. Richard, the Gold ranked mercenary from the Cromwell Mercenary Crew said, "Milord, please don't worry. All of us understand the rules. The loot on the enemies we kill will belong to us but the other spoils within the town all belong to you. We will definitely not lay our hands on them."
Lorist nodded and continued, "Our family troops will follow me to take over the walls and open the gates. You guys will only have to rush in and attack. Do pay attention to our signals. Paulobins, it's time to make our move."
The moment the silvermoon was obscured by a passing cloud, Lorist rushed out of the forest with Paulobins following behind him with the both of them holding a long wooden stick on both ends as they rushed towards the town with speed and silence.
Lorist resembled a huge black bird as he scaled the walls. Two of the guards who were dozing off on the walls were startled awake, but the moment they wanted to report the enemy presence, they felt their throats running out of air before they were assailed by a sudden pain. Losing consciousness, both the guards slumped to the ground powerlessly.
Lorist stepped forward and held both the shoulders of the guards whose throats had just been slit by him as he laid their bodies gently onto the sides of the walls to make it seem like they were merely slacking off and taking a nap.
The soldier distribution on the walls of the town was sparser than Lorist had expected given that he only killed 14 guards after traveling near 80 meters from the spot he ascended the walls to the gates of the town. To top that off, most of the soldiers were half asleep and were not aware of their surroundings in the least. Beside the drawbridge mechanism above the gates stood six guards who had all unknowingly had their throats slit by Lorist before they were able to make any noise.
As he raised a torch and swung it thrice high up in the air in a circular motion, Lorist sighed and thought back at the density of the soldiers back when he first attacked the town walls which ended up with tons of heads rolling all over the ground, much unlike the current situation where the walls were hardly defended and attacking it was merely a walk in the park.
Six patrolling soldiers came over from the other side of the wall and seemed to be complaining about something. Lorist silently sneaked near them and in a quick explosion of movement, the six soldiers fell to the ground one by one.
With audible 'thunks', three siege ladders were laid on the walls and Waxima was the first one to climb up, followed by Paulobins, the double metal armored guards and lastly, the family soldiers.
Seeing the tens of people get up the walls, Lorist whispered, "Paulobins and I will bring some guards to open up the town gates. Waxima, be alert and lower the drawbridge."
Waxima knocked onto his left chest lightly and said, "Yes, milord."
Within the tunnel leading to the gates, ten or so guards could be seen sleeping rather soundly. Lorist actually accidentally stepped on one of the soldiers who was lying on the ground when his eyes had yet to adjust to the darkness. The soldier got up and grumbled, "You blind..." before he was stabbed to death by Lorist while Paulobins and the rest of the guards rushed in and killed off the rest.
However, two soldiers managed to cry out loud during the whole commotion.
Lorist said hurriedly, "Quick, open the town gates and let the mercenaries in..."
The gates were opened wide and the drawbridge was subsequently lowered, causing the mercenaries who were hiding in the forest to rush towards the town en masse.
However, their movements managed to attract the attention of some enemy troops as one of them shouted, "Who opened the gates?!"
It was soon followed by a loud, panicked cry. "E-enemy attack! The enemy has entered the town!"
Sounds of horns blaring to signal an enemy attack could be heard immediately while the mercenaries let out their war cries as they rushed towards the enemy soldiers who hastily arrived at the town gates.
Complete chaos broke out in Wildnorth Town as Lorist smirked and thought, Wildnorth Town is finally in our hands...