Poison God's Heritage


Chapter 54 Against The Odds

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Chapter 54: Against The Odds

"Spears at the ready!" the captain shouted at the ten tightly packed lines holding the entrance to the enclosed s.p.a.ce.

"Archers! Loose!" he called as the backline shot arrows that arced their way into the incoming cavalry. A few of the arrows fell harmlessly on the sand, but a good portion struck rider and mount, causing the horses that were rus.h.i.+ng at breakneck speeds to falter or outright fall.

A horse's tumble was nothing if not catastrophic, as the whole beast would tumble forward crus.h.i.+ng the rider above it under its weight. Not to mention, causing a good deal of the riders behind it to stumble to the same fate, crushed under the hooves of their own allies.

But the majority of the charging horses knew how to deal with such incidents, as they nudged their horses to jump over the dead and dying bodies of their allies to continue the charge.

"SPEARS UP! HOLD THE RANKS!" the commander called and the front row raised their spears. Futile as it might be against the charge of heavy cavalry, the spears pierced through horse and rider, while many of the horses charged right through the ranks, swatting allies with vehement savagery.

The riders were well equipped for the charge, with long spears, glaives, or metallic polearms. Some even had chain-linked morning stars that they used to swing at the heads of my allies. Breaking bone and crus.h.i.+ng skulls.

The cavalry bore through the ranks like a hot knife through b.u.t.ter and there was nothing the captain could do to hold the charge, especially since a perfectly aimed spear had cut through the captain's incessant commands, as it bore through his throat.

Another soldier hurried to grab not the captain, but the banner, if the banner falls, everyone is doomed. The same soldier shouted orders and the battle continued.

One would think that in a battle every one would be fighting face to face, but it was far from it. Only the soldiers engaged were able to fight, as the rest of the ones behind them waited. There was no room for everyone here to fight, and there was only one thing they could do, wait for their comrades to die before they took their place, or pull them back to relative safety if they are too injured to battle.

And second, after an arduous second as I waited, the battle was getting closer to me. I had a scimitar in hand, a little heavy but not discomfortingly so. It rested well in my hand, it was made of low-quality steel, nothing comparable to cultivator weapons, but it was more than enough to slice through the enemy's leather clothes with relative ease if one were to apply a bit of strength.

Another spear shot through the soldier's ranks and pierced through the chest of the soldier that held the banner, only to have the banner fall towards the ground, and if it were to fall, all will end. Yet this d.a.m.nable banner, as if it had a nasty will of its own was falling towards me, where I unconsciously grabbed it before it touched the floor.

As I had the banner in my hand, a few soldiers looked at me, though their faces were a blur, I could feel their apprehension, fear, and uncertainty, but most of all, hope, hope that I could lead them out of this miserable situation into an impossible victory, or at least survival.

"Pull the wounded!" I shouted and my voice rang, "Hold the line, and any able archer keeps shooting your arrows!" I called and many followed, comforted by commands, soldiers fell in line. A weak, barely able to hold itself, but a line it was. And the arrows fell.

The arrows managed to subdue the incoming cavalry, where my infantry made quick work of the overly extended cavalry in our ranks. A cavalry ride was great for charging through infantry, but against thick lines of spears and arrows, the cavalry found little success in making more way, now stuck in the midst of soldiers, they were killed almost instantly. A rider had the height advantage in a group of soldiers, but even if he could fend one or two, when you have half a dozen soldiers surrounding your horse, then you're bound to be impaled.

And with the arrows still being loosed on the incoming riders that desperately tried to replenish their overextended cavalry, it was all but impossible to get any closer. The tight encloser had guaranteed that every horse that had been felled by arrows was an obstacle to subsequent horses, further stopping any cavalry from replenis.h.i.+ng their front lines. And with that, the rest of the cavalry were forced to retreat, dooming the few that had charged headfirst into the army.

A small victory, and a well-earned rest for my soldiers the moment they made quick work of the few riders that were within their ranks. But, that's nothing to throw a celebration for. As in the distance, there was another group of marching soldiers, heavy infantry, walking right through the desert sands, hot as it was, and insufferable as it was, these soldiers still tided through the blistering heat in their armors.

The moment they'll make it here, it will be all but defeat that will await us.

"Retreat!" I shouted, getting a stunned reaction from everyone. But this was the best action I could think of, waiting here would mean nothing, we'll be slaughtered to the last the moment the enemy was upon us.

"Retreat!" I called once again and the soldiers finally turned tail and began running.

"You," I called and began pointing at a few soldiers, who were well halfway in stride, they stopped looking at me, and I could even feel the helplessness in their eyes.

"Light the camp and tents on fire, it should buy us time to escape, do it quickly and run as fast as you can," I called and moved forward, there was no way for me to take one of the enemy's horses, as I didn't know how to ride one, and even if I did, I'm better off not riding a warhorse that had lost its master, lest I want a broken back and a rude spear through the chest once someone finds my body and laughs at how dumb I was trying to hijack a warhorse.

"DON'T SPRINT!" I called and everyone stopped, "Keep moving, half-speed!" I called and the rest of the army moved at a brisk but not so fast speed. Almost like a jug, this was both to keep them warm, even if the weather in this desert had done they the burnt of that work, but they needed to keep their bodies ready for battle lest the sweat would cool them and cause them more exhaustion and unreadiness to battle.

The pitched tents were thankfully packed tight, and when my soldiers lit them on fire, they caught it like a swat of dry hay under a summer sun's blaze.

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Smoke rose, and fire lit through the camp, securing our back from an a.s.sault for a few moments. The blaze helped scare off the horses as not even a warhorse was brave enough to charge through it, and it was hot enough for even the heavily armored soldiers to try and move through, their only option was to wait, and we weren't going to wait for them.

A few brave soldiers even picked up their spears and ran behind us, to secure the way for the rest at the expense of their own lives.

I couldn't stand back and help them, even if a part of me wanted to, but the bigger cowardly but pragmatic part advised otherwise, these soldiers needed someone to lead them out, and if I were to fall… I don't want to think about it.

The sound of horses falling echoed soon behind us, this wasn't good. It meant that the enemy had been far closer than I antic.i.p.ated, and they were hot on our heels. Yet thank the mighty for smiling down upon us as the exit of the valley was, I sight. This was both a relief and at the same time a proof of the soldier's indomitable will as even more decided to stand and leave the wounded to run away so they could hold the enemy.

The friendlies were out of the valley, but we'll be mowed to the last if we exit right now. The soldiers knew it and they decided to sacrifice their lives for the rest to escape. I never knew them, never spent more than these few hours with them, but felt a sense of belonging to see people laying their lives for the rest.

This selfless act was enough to send s.h.i.+vers down my spine, I can't explain it, but it was enough to make me stand my ground. I handed the banner to one of the soldiers, "Keep them running!" I called and drew my sword.

How stupid, how futile, laying one's life on the line for the rest to escape, but at the same time, it felt like the right thing to do. This is what the book had said, and this is what I'll abide by. It felt right! And if it feels right, then it's definitely right.

No matter the odds. I'll fight. Even if old and frail. No, I'm not old, not here not now, I'm a young man, a soldier. And even if I had no sense of attachment to these soldiers, there was a sense of belonging and camaraderie that I cannot explain, and it would be wrong to abandon people who selflessly sacrifice their lives for the rest without me doing the same.

Against my pragmatic self, against every common sense of self-preservation, it felt right to stand here, with these few dozen heroes, it felt right to die here. Because otherwise, none would escape. And at that moment, I forgot that I was in a test, and immediately, the cloud over the faces of the soldiers next to me disappeared.

Most of them had expressions of grim determination. None were cowards, none thought themselves heroes for doing what they're doing, they all knew, that their friends and comrades relied on them to survive, and they'll be d.a.m.n sure to make that happen.

Though I wasn't here for a long time, it only felt right to say this, "It's been an honor serving with you."

There and then, the enemy cavalry was upon us.

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