Chapter 57: Chapter 57
“Everyone, front-wedge on me!”
With the enemy reinforcements coming and Saulus’ troops already exhausted, the general could only try to slow down the defeat. Unless his counterplan for the ambush backfired due to the treason of some of his allies, then just stalling the fight, for now, would be enough.
Following Saulus’ orders without a second of a doubt, the still healthy soldiers dragged the injured ones towards Saulus’ position, before forming two angled lines fronted towards the center of the wedge.
At this point, both of the injured legionaries that could still stand and fight joined Saulus, forming the second line of the center of the wedge. Even though the three of them could still fight, there was no denying that their injuries would greatly lower their capability of facing the enemies, making the second line the best place to utilize both their skills and presence.
Protected by the trees from the sides, with the three heavily injured legionaries and Queen herself stuck in the safest spot of the formation, Saulus’ troops now had to wait. There was no way for them to leave the injured aside. Not yet. Not while there was still a chance that they could defend their position.
And then, the enemies appeared.
Swarming from the woods like insects, it was clear that they held a great numerical advantage. But as grim as the situation looked to be, Saulus quickly noticed that the people that attacked them at first were not only far better equipped, but also far better fed.
The crowd that was now standing just a few steps away from Saulus’ formation, unsure how to react to the tight line of battle-hardened men, was closer to a bunch of bandits gathered together than a serious military unit. And it actually made sense.
Even though the forest beside Mengia reached almost all the way to the southern province controlled by the patriarch loyalists, it would be insanely hard to sneak any amount of people through the border. Even if doing so was relatively easy, providing them with enough supplies that would allow the force to travel to the civilized areas already severely limited the potential numbers of the covert troops.
And from this simple fact, Saulus conjectured that while they initially faced veterans; the reason behind a relatively high toll of that short fight on his own veterans, right now their enemy consisted mostly if not entirely out of some random bandits for hire.
If fighting alone, just for the sake of winning, Saulus would quickly order his men to turn from wedge into V-shape formation, instantly pressing the attack. Using the experience of his men, it would be an easy job to dent the enemy forces before rooting them and forcing the collapse of the entire group. The many times when Saulus’ legionaries acted as the policing force and took down entire bandit dens only served as empirical proof of his thoughts.
But right now, Saulus couldn’t do such a thing. He could not expose the core of his formation, where both the Queen and the heavily injured men were!
“Do not fret! Think about the rewards! Go and get them, boys!”
The shouts from the leader of the group in front of them quickly brought some order to this otherwise completely unorganized group. With a few more words, they reorganized, turning into a relatively uniform square.
This time, it wasn’t the same voice that uttered the command. But with how focused on the enemy Saulus was, he failed to take immediate notice of it.
Following the command, the enemies rushed forward. With just a few steps separating the two groups, it took just seconds before men once again clashed against men. The clanging of swords ensued. Relatively safe in the second row, Saulus finally gave up on his knife, opting to go for the sword hanging from his side.
Once the general’s blade appeared on the battlefield, the pressure on the front group of the formation quickly decreased. Anyone who dared to enter the area would face not only the devastating attacks of a battle-hardened veteran with years of military service but also the devious pokes executed by Saulus from above his soldier’s arm, from between his legs or from any other place that allowed either of them to exploit an opening.
But such a situation could only last for so long. Seconds after the initial crash, the bandits unknowingly started to use their advantage. By moving away from the deadly face of the formation, they quickly found out that the backside of the group was open to attack!
“Collapse to circle! Collapse to circle now!”
Taking a momentary break from fighting himself, Saulus quickly scanned the situation before shouting his order. The next moment, the man in front of him suddenly wavered on his legs. Instantly noticing the situation, Saulus didn’t hesitate for a single moment. Grabbing the man by his clothes, he forcefully pulled him behind himself while stepping forward to fill the gap.
At this point, Saulus couldn’t even feel his injury. Swinging his sword left and right, he could only occasionally glance to the sides, only to notice that his men successfully bent the back of the two echelons, connecting them at the back of the initial formation. But right now, surrounded from literally all sides, the inevitable process of squeezing began.
But it ended just as quickly.
The same voice as before. At first, it encouraged the bandits to fight even harder. By now, only nine of Saulus’ men remained capable of fighting, with at least four of those priceless veterans and friends of the general falling to their death. But the next second, Saulus and the soldiers beside him understood that this ‘kill’ command wasn’t directed towards the bandits.
“Protect the Queen! Protect the General! Kill them all!”
In one instant, the entire situation turned around. With soldiers dressed slightly different than standard legionaries now pouring from between the trees only to begin the slaughter of the bandits, Saulus could finally breathe a sigh of relief.
Finally…Shaking his head, there were no more enemies for him to fight, so Saulus dropped to the ground, heavily panting from the immense exhaustion. The next moment, the intense pain of his wound struck, taking away all the breath that he had left in his lungs.
“Sorry for being late.”
Soon, the same voice that ordered the last two commands appeared just beside Saulus, finally allowing him to understand how he could find it to be so familiar.
“You sure are, Bloy. What took you so long?”