Six loud thunderous twangs ran out simultaneously as numerous razor sharp bolts whooshed past Lorist's body, causing a few cries of pain to ring out nearby him.
The Silvermoon once again revealed her face from beyond the clouds.
Lorist's mind was thrown into turmoil: he didn't know who behind him had gotten hit. Using the dim moonlight, he saw that roughly 20 meters away was a stone gap about 3 meters wide on the ground beyond which rows of tents were placed. Ironguard Legion troops crouching behind sandbags and rocks near the tents could be seen. Further away at the foot of the hills were countless torch fires gathered together: those were probably the men of the Second Highness who had come to aid them after receiving the signal.
Beyond the gap, a row of torches were lit and the illumination allowed Lorist to see the six sentry ballistas that were operated by a few nervous soldiers. Lorist could also see that one bow-wielding enemy soldier after another approached the gap with some orders being shouted out for the bowmen to engage in suppression fire against the soldiers of the convoy to prevent them from advancing.
"Gaaargh!" With a loud roar, Lorist leaped up from the ground and covered the distance of 20 or so meters within a blink of an eye, crossing the gap and slaughtering away at the bowmen.
Among the chaotic crowd or people, Lorist bathed in blood from head to toe as his longsword culled one enemy after another like a knife cutting through butter all around him, causing the surviving bowmen to run away in all directions with their tails behind their legs.
"Die!" A flash of silver light emanated from a pike that was thrust towards Lorist's back like a vile and devious snake. However, it was almost as if Lorist had eyes behind his back as he moved his left leg slightly and turned backward, parrying the strike with his longsword. Following that, he jumped into the air and slashed his longsword downward as he fell.
The pike-wielding Silver ranked knight didn't space out either. With but a flick of his hand, he moved his pike to intercept Lorist's strike.
As the sword collided with the pike, a loud clang rang out before the pike broke into two. With a lightning-fast slash, the sword streaked across the knight's body from his left shoulder to his right.
As if the knight had gotten struck by lightning, he slumped to the ground immediately with his body split into two before blood spurted out everywhere.
"Kill... Kill this demon... Demon..." said a stuttering voice from behind Lorist.
At that moment, blood that was not his dripped all over from Lorist's body. He currently seemed like a demonic god of slaughter that had walked out of a sea of blood in the eyes of the enemy.
Blade glows manifested on two pikes as two other Silver ranked knights rushed at Lorist at once from both of his flanks with the pikes aimed towards Lorist's two hands.
"Let's... Let's attack together... Kill him..." As the stuttering soldier said that, a blade glow manifested on his longsword before he raised it up high and rushed towards Lorist, making a vertical downward slash when he closed the distance...
Just as all that was happening, a silhouette appeared by Lorist's side holding a sword with a silver blade glow and thrusting it towards Lorist's heart.
Even though it was four men on one, Lorist didn't feel anxious at all. From his point of view with his dynamic vision, he could see the attacks and predict the trajectory of each and every one even though they were really fast in actuality. The slightest opening during those attacks revealed a huge opportunity for him to strike back at his foes.
The first attack that was about to connect was the pike headed for his left arm. Lorist stepped back slightly and angled his body from the waist up backward slightly as if he hadn't moved at all, causing the pike to miss his body by a hair's breadth. Subsequently, Lorist grabbed onto the handle of the pike and pulled it towards the other pike coming from his right, intercepting the incoming attack.
As the two pikes collided, Lorist pushed the pike in his hand upward, causing it to knock the other pike upward as well, forming a cross-shaped guard that blocked the incoming sword strike from the top with a loud clang.
Having released the pike in his hand, he jumped forward and flicked the longsword in his right hand, knocking the glowing sword of the silhouette beside him, and with another twist of his hand, the longsword headed towards the chest of Lorist's sneaky assailant.
The silhouette had jumped forward with all the force he could muster and had intended to strike when Lorist was occupied with the two other attackers. However, he didn't expect that Lorist would start retaliating by targeting him first. With his sword knocked away, his chest was exposed completely.
The silhouette attempted to stop only to find that his momentum continued to propel him forward as he cried out, "Ahh... No, don't! Ugh!"
Not much had to be said; Lorist's longsword pierced straight through the chest of the assailant and emerged from his back.
Within a short moment of two eye blinks, Lorist had already killed one of his attackers.
The other three Silver ranked knights still had their weapons entangled together and were frantically trying to pull themselves apart. To save time, Lorist didn't pull his sword out from the body of the first one he killed and merely swung it with full force, causing the sword to rip apart the former assailant's body and travel towards the other longsword user.
The sword-wielding Silver ranked knight hurriedly pulled his sword away and positioned himself to intercept Lorist's strike. However, Lorist suddenly changed his slash into a thrust, causing the knight to react by swaying his sword around in a panicked attempt to knock Lorist's sword away. Just before the two swords crossed, Lorist's longsword stopped just ever so slightly, causing the Silver ranked knight's sword to not hit anything, creating an opening for Lorist to push the longsword into his foe's throat.
"Agghhh!" As the Silver ranked knight was dying from the blood flowing out of him, the blade of a pike suddenly emerged from his body and headed towards Lorist. It was the first pike-wielding Silver ranked knight that had pierced his pike through his comrade's body without any regard the moment he saw him dying from the wound at his throat in an attempt to catch Lorist off-guard.
Naturally, an attack like that didn't pose a significant threat to Lorist. However, he was shocked that the Silver ranked knight would be so cruel as to use his fallen comrade's body as a shield. In a fit of rage, Lorist's body jerked and avoided the blade of the lance before he drew his longsword with his right hand and swung it forward. The blade of his sword flashed like lightning as it decapitated the pike-wielding knight with one blow.
The other pike wielding knight was already shivering non stop. Even though it had only been a short while, he noticed that the rest of his comrades had died off the moment he awoke from his stupor.
Seeing the knight holding the pike with shaky hands, Lorist said in a deep voice, "Discard your weapon and kneel if you want to be spared!"
That Silver ranked knight crumbled mentally completely before he tossed the pike at Lorist and ran off immediately.
Lorist's body swerved to avoid the airborne pike and he grabbed onto its handle before throwing it back in the direction it came from.
That escaping Silver ranked knight's body shook as the pike pierced his body and emerged on the other side before he landed flat on his face on the ground and let out his final breath.
After the soldiers nearby witnessed the deaths of the four Silver ranked knights, they ran towards the barricaded area frantically while letting out panicked cries. In their haste, they had cast away their helmets, armor and even their torches, pikes and shields.
"Milord! Milord!" Patt's shouting voice could be heard coming from behind.
Lorist was glad that Patt hadn't been hurt. He called out, "I'm here. Watch out for the gap on the ground."
After taking a few steps, he picked up a still-lit torch that was on the ground.
A huge group of people followed behind Patt as he jumped over the stone gap. The next person to do so after Patt was Reidy.
"Are you guys alright?" Lorist asked excitedly, before he turned and pointed to the enemies that were running away behind him and said, "Patt, bring some men with you and don't let them get into formation to resist."
Patt waved his hand and called out, "Kill them! Go!"
The group of people rushed forward and headed towards the area of the tents before they cursed out loudly. It seemed that there was yet another stone gap over there and the first few heavy-armored pikemen didn't notice it and fell into it. It was fortunate that the gap wasn't too deep and the soldiers who fell were merely injured but managed to retain their lives.
"Reidy, go and light up the tents over there, both to illuminate the area and to signal for the Second Highness's reinforcements. We will take this base with a pincer attack!" Lorist instructed Reidy before he called out to the guards nearby and said, "Hey, turn the sentry ballistas around and push them over there..."
One tent after another was set aflame, sending thick waves of smoke up into the air. The fire burned ever more brightly with the strong winds, sending out a wave of light that dispelled the darkness around Bread Hills.
Reidy didn't set all the tents on fire as Lorist had instructed but instead asked some men to dismantle the other tents and toss them into the fires that were already burning. Without delay, ten bonfires could be seen at the Bread Hills.
"There's a wooden bridge here!" With the illumination of the burning fires, some soldiers discovered that a few wooden planks were placed over the gaping stone gap on the ground. They quickly crossed it and resumed their pursuit towards the enemy who were trying their best to assemble in a fit of panic.
It was only now that Lorist was able to get a clear view of the Bread Hills. The terrain was truly true to its name: there was not a single tree nor grass on the hills and the whole hill area seemed like a round, long bun that was placed on the ground. It was estimated to be around the size of two soccer stadiums and its most striking feature was the two large stone gaps that made the hills look like scored buns.
At that moment, Lorist was standing near one of the largest bonfires. That spot was the tallest part of the Bread Hills and the Ironguard Legion had probably set up their base there where rainwater didn't gather up.
At a barricade not far away, there was still an estimated 1000 soldiers, around 800 of which whom were getting into a line formation and preparing to intercept the incoming heavy-armored pikemen. So far, less than 200 of the pikeman had crossed the stone gap with the wooden bridges and they were assembling into a square formation under the orders of their commanding officers to march towards the enemy. However, as more soldiers crossed the bridge, the square formation eventually turned into a line formation. The distance between the two groups of soldiers was around 60 meters now and they would clash within the first moments of a charge.
Some soldiers at the enemy lines could be seen moving the tens of sentry ballistas from their original positions. However, it took much effort and time for them to do so and just as they were halfway done, they noticed more soldiers coming from the bottom of the hills when a horn tune was blown for them to begin their charge uphill, causing the Ironguard Legion soldiers who were moving the ballistas to argue on whether they should put the ballistas back where they were to fend off the enemies coming from below the hill or continue to move it forward to aim it against Lorist's troops who were about to begin their charge at any moment.
Lorist saw Patt step out from the formation in an attempt to give the enemy a final ultimatum as the soldiers behind him cried out, "Kill! Kill! Kill!"
Gradually, the soldiers standing at the front of the Ironguard Legion's formation dropped their weapons, causing the rest to follow suit. In the end, all of the enemy soldiers cast away their weapons and surrendered completely.
The heavy-armored pikemen let out booming cheers as Patt led them forward to apprehend the enemy soldiers, thus occupying the main base area.
"Well done!" Lorist exclaimed. He continued to give an order, "Blow the horn to indicate that we've conquered the Bread Hills and hang the Raging Bear Flag of our family up at the base."
The tune of victory blasted throughout the night sky as the flag of the Raging Bear flapped proudly at the base, illuminated brightly by the burning fires.
A blonde female knight quickly rushed up the slope and dismounted before she sprinted towards the barricade that was constructed from stacked up rocks and vaulted over it, landing beside a ballista nearby. Just as she drew her sword and readied herself for battle, she was greeted only with the sight of the heavy-armored pikemen who wore the equipment of the Whitelion Legion.
Seeing the blonde-haired knight arrive, Lorist stepped forward and greeted her. "Cousin Glacia, why have you come?"
Glacia, noticing the blood all over Lorist's body, cried out in surprise. "Why do you look so bloody? Are you hurt anywhere?"
"Hehe, I'm fine. This blood is not mine. I'm not hurt in the slightest," Lorist said, before he noticed a crestfallen Reidy walking towards him.
"What's wrong, Reidy? Did something happen?" Lorist asked.
"Milord... Just now, when we reached the peak of the hills, Brother Els fell off it..." Reidy reported the shocking news to Lorist.
"What did you say? What happened to Els?" Lorist said as he started in surprise. At that moment, he recalled the ballista bolts that whooshed past him back at the first stone gap...
"When we first arrived at the peak and were calling out to you, we heard your warning and Patt and I got on the ground right away. However, the rest that followed behind us didn't manage to react in time and many got knocked off the peak by the ballista bolts. Ruhr also got hit by one bolt and as he was sent flying back, he banged into Brother Els and the both of them fell down from the peak. At that time, Patt and I were so shocked from the ballista bolts that came flying that we were unable to get up. However, we managed to get ourselves together after we thought of your safety and didn't yet know that Els had fallen off the hill. We only got to know this after two guards that followed behind Els before he fell told us about it when we were setting the tents on fire," said Reidy with an almost crying expression.
"Send a search party out immediately! If he's alive, we have to find him! Even if he's dead, we must find his corpse! If anything happens to Els... I will definitely bury the Ironguard Legion alongside him!" Lorist shouted his orders with a solemn face. At that moment, his mind was only fraught with worry for Els's well being and he no longer felt any of the joy from conquering the base.
"Yes, milord," Reidy said before he gathered some men to begin his search, only to stop when he heard sounds of battle and a horn blowing the tune of charge.
"What's going on over there?" Glacia asked as she looked towards the distant, dark army camp.
One torch after another in the distant valley lit up and allowed the rest on the Bread Hills to observe the situation. From Lorist's vantage point, Terman could be seen leading his knight brigade in a charge straight up the slope of the other mountain valley with no one being able to obstruct them whatsoever.
The Silver ranked knights at the front of the charge manifested their silver blade glows on their riding lances and cut through their enemy relentlessly. Within moments, the enemies that gathered at the middle of that valley got completely smashed apart as cries of pain and despair resounded throughout the battlefield.
"The enemy is finished," Lorist said without much emotion.
Seeing Glacia's confused expression, Lorist explained, "We have already made arrangements for an ambush at the valley over there for the reinforcements of the troops from Lichtana Citadel. First, we had our mounted archers release some volleys of arrows to thin down their numbers before we had the knight brigade charge in and break their formation with the mounted archers securing the other side of the valley. That's why, cousin, you don't have to worry about any of the reinforcement troops escaping."
"Locke, I really didn't think that you would be able to form a knight brigade like this... Can you..." Glacia said as she stared at Lorist with a pleading look.
"Cousin, if there is a request that will leave the both of us with hard feelings, please refrain yourself from bringing it up. I formed this knight brigade through the best of my efforts with the benefits of the family in mind. In the future, I would even expand it into a Silver ranked knight brigade. However, if you are willing to leave the Second Highness and return to the family, I will let you lead and command this knight brigade," Lorist said, diminishing the hopes of Glacia.
"Stingy fellow..." Glacia mused before she stopped saying anything else.
Within an hour, another horn tune could be heard coming from the valley.
"The enemy has been eradicated," Lorist said as he released a breath of relief. "The sky is already brightening up. Cousin, you can have your men start to form a defense line right now. I'll leave the sentry ballistas to you. Aim them in the direction of the citadel so that we have something to fall back on just in case. I need to go now."