Lorist felt really worn out as he had firstly killed his way up to the base on the hill and eliminated the Ironguard Legion soldiers who were guarding the base with ballistas. In the end, he even eliminated five Silver ranked knights and he was completely drained after that. That's why he later ordered Patt to lead the heavy-armored pikemen who had just arrived to help out in the efforts of conquering the base.
But even so, Lorist had no choice but to wait within the main tent as he still had some matters to settle, especially given that Els had fallen off the hill and was yet to be found, causing Lorist immense worry.
Lorist's whole body was still covered in blood that was half-dried up from the mountain breeze, resulting in an itchy and sticky mess which caused him much discomfort. The moment he returned to the newly erected main tent at the army camp at the foot of the hills, Lorist stripped his bloodstained clothes off and donned only a loose robe as he waited for the news.
At that moment, Yuriy, Terman and Potterfang walked into the tent.
"Milord, the enemy's 5000 troops were eliminated and we managed to catch up to 3000 of them alive. Potterfang already killed the Gold ranked knight commander," Yuriy reported.
"Good work, Pog," Lorist praised.
Potterfang said as he smiled and shook his head, "Well, it wasn't completely due to me. Had the Gold ranked knight not suffered three arrow shots already, I'm afraid I might get tangled up with him much longer."
Lorist nodded and asked, "How are the casualties?"
Terman stepped forward and said, "We lost 7 Silver ranked knights and hundreds of other soldiers."
A shroud of silence descended onto the tent after that report.
After some time, Lorist sighed and said, "Collect their bodies and cremate them so that we can bring them back to give them a proper burial at the Martyrs' Graveyard back at the dominion. That place is where brave warriors who have sacrificed themselves for the sake of the family are enshrined."
"Yes, milord," Terman replied solemnly.
Yuriy then asked hesitantly, "Milord, I heard Els is..."
"He fell down from the hill and I've sent a search party to look for him. It's already nearing dawn and I believe we should be receiving word of it now. Well, the Bread Hills isn't that high up compared to other mountains... Don't worry, I'm sure Els will be fine," Lorist said in an attempt to console both Yuriy and himself.
"And Yuriy, your role in the next battle is an important one. Head to the route towards Vanades City and make sure to seal off the entire road. We must not let news of this incident tonight spread out. Remember what I said before: we must make the enemy blind and deaf to all that is happening. We'll have to depend on the performance of your light cavalry scouts this time around," Lorist said as he patted on Yuriy's shoulder. "Don't worry, I will definitely tell you all the moment I receive any news about Els. Trust me, he'll be fine."
"I understand, milord. Please be assured that my light cavalry scouts will definitely carry out the mission properly," Yuriy replied in a serious tone as he stood straight up.
"Pog, the next phase of the plan will be up to you. I'd like you to try to impersonate the men of the Ironguard Legion to attack Vanades City. If we are successful and manage to occupy it, seal off the city and head towards Xith Castle immediately. As long as we can take that castle, we will be able to keep the Seamountain Legion of the Madras Duchy within the Sidgler Province. That way, our convoy won't have to worry about being obstructed by them when we cross the duchy.
"If it fails..." Lorist paused as he furrowed his brow before continuing, "We must at least keep Vanades City within our control. That way, we can prevent our convoy and the vagabonds from being stranded at the Yungechandler Province. Yuriy and his light cavalry scouts will surround the Vanades City and Pog, you shall lead the heavy-armored cavalrymen and the mounted archers to engage in stalling warfare. When the heavy-armored infantry and the carroballista unit arrive, we can attack it with full force to conquer it.
"If surprise attacking Vanades City doesn't work, Loze will have to bring his two regiments of heavy-armored cavalrymen to face off against the castle. I believe that even if the Seamountain Legion comes, they wouldn't dare to engage in an all out battle with us. If it's the contrary, I'd like to see how their soldiers perform against our heavy-armored cavalry..."
In Lorist's original plan, after taking the base at Bread Hills, he would have his men to attack Vanades City and Xith Castle immediately to ensure that the convoy would have nothing to worry about during the rest of the journey.
The first group to depart was Yuriy's light cavalry scouts, Pete's mounted archer company and Lode Wales's three regiment of heavy-armored cavalrymen with Potterfang as the chief commander of all those units. As for Potterfang's newly-formed heavy-armored infantry army, they would leave with Dulles's carroballista unit.
Hence, Lorist would only have Terman's knight brigade and the main camp's guards by his side. He still had to stay behind to assist the Second Highness with cutting off the water source of the Lichtana Citadel and Charade would be busy leading the convoy's members and the vagabonds to the space beneath the Bread Hills with the aid of Freiyar and Malek's garrison legion to prepare for the continuation of the northbound journey.
"That's what we'll do. Be careful and godspeed to you," Lorist said.
"Thank you, milord," said Potterfang and Yuriy before they saluted and left to prepare for departure.
"Let's go and check out on any news of Els. Why haven't they reported anything yet?" Lorist told Terman in a worrying tone.
After exiting the tent and walking for a while, Lorist saw a guard rushing over hurriedly. "Milord, we found him... Sir Els is still alive..."
Ruhr however was dead. There was still a huge ballista bolt sticking out of his body.
Els was quite fortunate that he wasn't struck by a bolt and was instead knocked off the hill by Ruhr. At that time, he still wasn't aware of the danger and just as he was two steps away from arriving at the top, Ruhr suddenly flew backwards towards him. He even tried to catch Ruhr but was instead knocked flying along with him. As he was falling from the height of around 50 meters, he hurriedly circulated his Battle Force to shield his body and fell towards a huge tree branch that broke his fall before he landed to the ground. He was severely injured with many of his organs injured by the fall, but he still managed to cling onto his life and would require no less than four months to recover.
When Lorist met Els, he was still conscious. With a pale face, Els made a bitter laugh and said, "Why am I so unlucky... I had only recovered from resting three months after the battle at Green Plains... Now I'll have to sit tight for four more months... Sigh..."
Letting out a relieved breath, Lorist smiled and said, "Maybe it's just your fate to be injured greatly during every large scale battle. Hehe, alright, you better go get some proper rest. Don't worry about the rest of the stuff here, I'll handle it."
Els's main injuries stemmed from his damaged organs, so he had to rest and was forbidden to ride on a carriage nor a horse. Lorist had no choice and could only have someone carry Els back to Nadegas City where he would live within a rented house to recover. He also instructed some guards to stay back there to watch over Els and bring him to the Northlands when he's better.
After settling the matter of Els, Lorist returned to the camp and instructed Reidy to get him some bath water with which he could wash off the dried up blood on his hair and body.
After that, Lorist fell asleep half-leaning on the bath tub.
He slept soundly and only awakened noon on the next day.
Noticing that he was currently in bed, he believed that Reidy must have moved him there during his sleep. After stretching and yawning, Reidy entered the tent and said, "Milord, you're awake. The Second Highness visited during the afternoon yesterday and waited until the night. After seeing that you were still asleep, he left without wanting to bother you. I believe he'll be coming back later today."
Just as Lorist was having his meal a little while later, the Second Highness did in fact come. Seeing Lorist awake and well, he was incredibly happy. However, he declined the offer to dine with Lorist and settled with a cup of wine and waited patiently for Lorist to finish his meal.
In actuality, the Second Highness didn't have anything important to say during his visit to Lorist. He came over mainly because he heard about how Lorist rushed into the base of the enemy alone and started slaughtering away at the troops, something which, even the Second Highness himself, a Two Star Gold fighter, felt that it was an impressive feat. Given his Battle Force prowess, the Second Highness could feel that Lorist only radiated an aura of an Iron rank and he originally thought that Lorist was only good for his strategizing and planning and didn't take note of Lorist's Battle Force ability at all.
Even though he was quite envious of Lorist's many Gold and Silver ranked subordinates, he believed that Lorist had won them over only with his charisma and understanding of the human heart alone. Now that he reconfirmed that Lorist's Battle Force was really at the Iron rank, he thought that it was indeed possible for Lorist to have led his men at the very front but refused to accept that Lorist had personally went up there before the rest of his men arrived and thought that the rumor was possibly fabricated so that Lorist, the new family leader of the Norton Family, would have a legendary and heroic image.
After finishing his breakfast, Lorist went up to the Bread Hills again with the Second Highness and witnessed the busy scene below. Countless noncombatants were currently digging out trenches outside the firing range of the ballistas at Lichtana Citadel to build a mud wall that would circle and surround the citadel.
"Tomorrow... Tomorrow, we will cut off their water source up at the mountains," said the Second Highness excitedly.
"Didn't the Ironguard Legion send out anyone to harass the crowd down there?" Lorist asked.
"They did once yesterday but they were driven off by our ballista and longbow fire and even lost 300 of their men. Seeing that we were prepared, they also decided to begin their preparations for a siege. I'll see how they react when they notice their water supply has been cut off," said the Second Highness as he laughed.
When the night came, Lorist received Potterfang's report that Vanades City had already been occupied and sealed off by them. Entry was allowed into the city but nobody was permitted to leave. Right now, he was about to bring his men to launch a surprise attack on Xith Castle and was making preparations to disguise themselves as a merchant convoy to take the castle gates. Potterfang believed that the company of garrison troops at Xith Castle wouldn't be able to resist the fearsome assault of two regiments of heavy-armored cavalrymen.
After asking around, Lorist discovered that the heavy-armored infantry and the carroballista unit had departed during the afternoon hours ago and had headed towards Vanades City. They were estimated to arrive at the city by tomorrow evening and after helping Potterfang's forces take the castle, there was no longer anything to worry about for the journey back to the Northlands for the convoy and the vagabonds.
Afternoon the next day, the Second Highness brought two Gold ranked knights and tens of other Silver ranked knights as well as a company of longbowmen up to the Liden Mountains. After circling around it, the waterfall that served as the main source of water for the Lichtana Citadel could be seen near a slope halfway up the mountain. With a Battle Force enveloped sword, the Second Highness easily made an opening at the pool of the waterfall to redirect the water. He also found a hidden pipe under the water and blocked it up before he left the mountain with only one Gold ranked knight, leaving the rest of his men camped there to deal with the citadel soldiers that would no doubt come up to investigate the cause of their exhausted water supply.
On the third day, Charade led the convoy's people and the vagabonds towards the border to begin the journey towards the Northlands. When the soldiers at Lichtana Citadel saw all the people using the route along Bread Hills to head to the main route to Vanades City, they noticed that their plans to keep them out of the border had failed. But they still didn't realize the true magnitude of their predicament.
On the fourth day, the soldiers at Lichtana Citadel finally noticed that their water supply was cut off and when they sent someone up to the mountains to investigate the cause, their men were fended off by the attacks of the longbowmen stationed uphill. It was at that moment when they knew that their backup plan had failed completely and there was no way for them to defend the citadel in the long term.
On the fifth day, the Ironguard Legion soldiers at Lichtana Citadel sent out two regiments of 5000 plus people to launch three test attacks against the mud wall defense lines that surrounded the citadel only to be beaten back into hiding by the Andinaq Kingdom's Royal Defense Guard.
Afternoon that day, Lorist once again received a report from Potterfang that stated that the Xith Castle had been successfully conquered and the three regiments of heavy-armored cavalrymen and the mounted archers had entered the castle, hence sealing off the route to Sidgler Province completely.
Lorist was extremely delighted as he thought, now, we finally have nothing to worry about on the journey north...
At night during the sixth day, Lichtana Citadel mobilized all its forces and launched a night assault. Their main focus was attacking the northern part of the defense lines and hopefully being able to break through it.
The ones that manned the defense lines were two regiments of the Second Highness's newly-formed Royal Defense Guard. They didn't expect that the Ironguard Legion would go all out and engage in a near-suicidal attack. With the Ironguard Legion frantically attacking without regard to casualties, the two regiments of the Royal Defense Guard also fended horribly. With every squad leader and company leader of the Royal Defense Guard units there dead, their soldiers quickly crumbled and the Ironguard Legion's forces managed to find an opening outwards.
Just when the Ironguard Legion soldiers thought that they had hope of escaping, Terman, who had just been instructed by Lorist to come over, brought his knight brigade along and gave the Ironguard Legion's forces a full-frontal attack. With them being on flat terrain without any cover nor ranged weapons whatsoever, the Ironguard Legion soldiers stood no chance against the mounted knights. It was basically a massacre and only less than 3000 of the original 10000 plus soldiers from the citadel managed to retreat inside again with more than half of them injured in some way.
On the seventh day of the encirclement of Lichtana Citadel, the citadel had a desolate and dark atmosphere. Apart from that, Lorist and the Second Highness were busy cleaning up the battlefield and helping to rescue the wounded. During the era of cold arms, night assaults like that were extremely cruel and terrifying. Of the 10000 Ironguard Legion soldiers that left the citadel to attack, more than 5000 of them turned into corpses with hundreds more so badly injured that they weren't able to return to the citadel.
Only less than 1000 out of the 5000 Royal Defense Guard soldiers survived with all of the military officers dead, some of whom were the former students of the Dawn Academy. Terman was the one who cried the most as two of the students were the elite members of the Swordsmanship Society of the academy and used to be his close friends and subordinates.
On the eighth day, the remaining 3000 plus soldiers within the Lichtana Citadel opened the gates wide and sent a messenger out who held and waved a white flag. That messenger stood before the Second Highness as he shivered and said, "Water... water..." with his dried out mouth.
The Second Highness's men proceeded to occupy the Lichtana Citadel without any resistance. However, the funny part was that the men that went to occupy the citadel arrived with wooden buckets filled with water from the Egret Lake instead of weapons in their hands.
On the 24th day of the 10th month of Year 1767 of the Grindian Calendar, the Ironguard Legion that was known to be the strongest in terms of defensive capability raised the white flag to surrender to the Second Highness of the Andinaq Kingdom, Auguslo. The battle for Lichtana Citadel ended within ten short days with the decimation of the Ironguard Legion with the citadel ending up in the control of the Second Highness.
Even though it was one of the shortest battles to ever happen which concluded within only 12 or so days in total, the casualties on both sides were huge with the defending side being almost entirely wiped out. The casualties of the attackers that numbered fewer than 5000 men caused many other nations much shock and awe, rocketing the reputation of the Second Highness to fame overnight as a rising star on Grindia in terms of military exploits.
The battle began as a result of a convoy belonging to one of the nobles subordinate to the Second Highness that was refused passage through the Madras Duchy on their journey back to their homeland. The blockade created by Duke Madras using the Ironguard Legion to restrict access to the people of the convoy and the vagabonds spurred the Second Highness to mobilize his troops to eliminate the Ironguard Legion to remove the obstacle faced by the convoy and the vagabonds.
Here is a recounting of the events with respect to their chronological order: The Second Highness first stationed the 30000 men of his Royal Defense Guard at the Lichtana Citadel while secretly constructing a bridge at the Egret Lake with the newly-formed Whitelion Legion. The soldiers of the Whitelion Legion then proceeded to attack the army camp at the Bread Hills, allowing the Royal Defense Guard to set up a defense line around Lichtana Citadel. The Second Highness then cut off the water supply of the citadel and forced the Ironguard Legion to emerge from the citadel to try to penetrate the defense line in a desperate attempt, which ended ultimately in their defeat.
At the same time, the Second Highness also ordered the Whitelion Legion to continue their advance and attack Vanades City and Xith Castle, causing the Seamountain Legion of Duke Madras to be sealed within Sidgler Province, establishing the foundation which the Andinaq Kingdom used to absorb the Yungechandler Province of the Madras Duchy.
The various military chroniclers and historians of the continent called this battle 'The Miracle of Egret Lake'.
Author's note: Due to Lorist's forces using the equipment of the Whitelion Legion, his men were seen as the soldiers of the Whitelion Legion by the chroniclers and historians. That's why the historical records of the continent described them as the newly-formed Whitelion Legion.