North x Northwest - Chapter 280
Volume 8 Chapter 280
Side Story 4 – Liloa’s Chapter 2: Mortu’s Castle
Translators – Pru and Formidable
Count Arthur was the enemy’s supreme commander in the Pontenbach War.
This was Liloa’s first time meeting him, as he had been away for several months possibly due to political issues. He had become his troops’ symbol as he led the long war such that during his absence, the morale of the Federal army had declined noticeably. Thanks to that, the Imperial army gained the upper hand, but that only lasted for a while now the count had returned. In other words, the situation has become more difficult for the empire again.
After everyone was seated, Arthur asked.
“…And you are?”
“I am Liloa of Obernyu.”
“The Archduke’s daughter?”
Count Arthur, leaning against the backrest, laughed out loud. The officers next to him chuckled as well.
“I thought the only women on the battlefield were prostitutes…”
He looked at her and tilted his head. His all-too-familiar gaze scanned Liloa’s whole body, while his eyebrows twitched unpleasantly.
“…Perhaps, by any chance?”
As several imperial officers stood up from their seats…
“Hahahaha, it was just a joke, so please take your seats.”
Arthur remained calm and waved his hand.
“I guess the Empire is pretty desperate, seeing how they’re sending a girl to the battlefield.”
The negotiation, in which neither side had any intention of reaching an agreement, naturally broke down. Since then, some of the officers grew uncomfortable with Liloa’s outer appearance.
Along with that, Liloa began to hear curses that she didn’t deserve to hear. In fact, after Liloa showed up at the negotiation table, the imperial army was given the nickname “the Witch’s Army” or the “Prostitute’s Army”, with the latter being mentioned more often, perhaps to inflict greater insult.
“They have an insanely limited view.”
‘Witches and prostitutes, it seems like there hasn’t been any progress in women’s history for a thousand years.’
Liloa had no idea that she would become the witch she only read about in historical fairy tales.
Whereas the imperial officers felt humiliated and were at a loss, Liloa held her head up high, prompting Robero to similarly step forward to reprimand her. She was ordered to recuse herself because her presence had tainted the reputation of the imperial army. The emperor’s noble army was suddenly reduced to an army of a prostitute, and as expected there were no officers who opposed Robero.
“I am not a prostitute, so what is the problem?”
“Is it not a problem in itself that you followed me to the battlefield without laying low? Liloa, I had been lenient with you, but not anymore. If you disgrace the military’s reputation any longer, even His Majesty will not be able to keep you here.”
Liloa looked around the empty conference table where the meeting had just ended. Of course, she wasn’t allowed to participate in the meeting. After the meeting was over, Robero, who couldn’t contain his anger, called her in.
“I’m going to the canyon too.”
“I just told you to keep quiet…”
“Do you truly think they will stop talking about prostitutes and witches just because you keep me hidden? I predict they will only have more reason to say it because they became excited that everyone in the imperial army admitted to the humiliation. I will prove that I can help the military save face.”
“And what if you get hurt…”
“LeBrun never trained us to be afraid of getting injured*. Moreover, I was taught that volunteering despite knowing the risks is tantamount to admirable courage, yet no one seems to think I am commendable.”
“You only need to do what you are assigned to do. You are already doing a great job.”
“But I believe the reason I have been given an aspirant uniform and a place in the platoon is because my real task is more than just encouraging the soldiers.”
One day, when the imperial army’s losses were deepened, a meeting was called involving the aspirants. Robero entered the barrack where cavalry officers were gathered together. Because there was not enough space, the junior officers stood in a circle around the conference table and Liloa quickly walked over to the table to find a place to stand.
Robero, sitting at the head of the table, rubbed his forehead as if he were tired.
“The Jussin Canyon raid failed.”
The atmosphere in the barrack immediately turned cold. A colonel spoke up in a gloomy manner.
“The Federal cavalry is too overwhelming.”
The senior officers sitting in their seats said one thing at a time. However, because it was early in the meeting, no meaningful discussions occurred. But then a young lieutenant colonel stood up and spoke.
“We have to try again though, or the Midwest will…”
At that moment, an arrow hit the map spread out on the table, and the young lieutenant colonel, who was just about to give an impassioned speech, was suddenly hit by another arrow in his shoulder and collapsed…
After a momentary period of silence, an officer shouted belatedly.
“…It’s a surprise attack!..”
Arrows pierced through the barrack’s tent like rainfall.
As officers drew their guns and swords, the sharp sounds of metal clashing against each other could be heard from all over. Suddenly the roaring of horns mixed with voices filled with a sense of urgency echoed all through the camp.
The commotion outside the tent confirmed the invasion of the federal army.
A large hand of an officer grabbed the back of Liloa’s collar and pushed her under the table with a force strong enough as if to throw her. A moment later that same officer fell to the ground with his eyes wide open, his motionless body immediately gave away that he was dead. Several more officers fell before the archers’ attacks finally stopped. By then, Liloa jumped out from under the table and pulled her pistol from her belt.
She was the only person still standing on her two feet in the barrack as the rest of the uninjured officers appeared to have gone out already. Sensing an acrid smell coming from somewhere, Liloa instinctively covered her nose and mouth and escaped the burning barrack.
The barracks were in chaos. Lancers charged through the camp and swung their heavy spears downward. They might have their faces covered with hoods, but there was no one who didn’t know that they belonged to the Federation. Even civilian villagers, who had come into the military camp to cook and help out with the distribution of dinner, were struck one by one. No one was spared. Unable to even put on their shoes properly, soldiers rushed into defence, but they were still exhausted from the night march. To make matters worse, animalistic screams pierced the sky as if a fire had been set where the horses were tied up.
Night raids rarely ended successfully. And even if something was achieved, the losses to the troops would always be severe enough that their position could be compromised. Still, in this situation it was reasonable for the federal army to push through and think they could deal a significant blow, especially knowing that the Imperial army just came back from its long and tiring march.
Liloa quickly looked around.
The officers who had been in the barrack with her were already on horseback and confronting the enemy. Without time to think, Liloa ran toward her barrack before she felt a hot sensation on the top of her head. A lit fire arrow barely missed her.
Liloa quickly fired her gun at the cavalry charging from the side. His horse fell over after being struck in the neck and the soldier tumbled down with it.
When she arrived, Koud Bhan was already running rampant in front of her barrack. Liloa quickly cut the rope of the stake with her dagger and climbed on top of her horse. With hasty coaxing and snatching of the reins, her faithful horse eventually swerved.
As the flames surrounding the camp grew stronger, Liloa rushed through the screams and deaths.
When she pulled the reins and lowered her posture, Koud Bhan jumped over a burning object. In the middle of the continuing confrontation, the northern horn suddenly rang for a long time, prompting the attacking lancers wielding swords and spears to turn their warhorses in unison.
“…Catch up to them!…”
“…Archers! Take aim!…”
“Karabinae! Where is 11th Platoon!”
“…The second infantry!…”
Although the battle lines weren’t organised, the soldiers who could still afford to fight rushed out to chase the enemy, with Liloa at the helm. The distance was still close, so she swung her long sword, aiming for the horses’ hips and sides. Three or four had already fallen, but she didn’t have the time nor luxury to count them all.
Koud Bhan jumped over the fallen beasts right in front of them.
The wind blowing from the mountain range hit Liloa’s face sharply. Noticing the rest of the Karabinae surrounding her, rifles opened fire from both sides, piercing the lancers or their war horses. Liloa didn’t miss the timing and pulled the trigger as well. Her bullet had an accurate trajectory, but she missed because her target instantaneously tilted his body. It was amazing for someone to instinctively avoid an attack from behind so quickly, but it seemed like the bullet had at least grazed her target’s ear judging from the blood that splattered around the edge of his hood.
The rider pulled down his hood and looked back. His shapely black eyes glared at Liloa as if they were devouring her.
Liloa recognised him even in the dim moonlit darkness.
The sound of Count Arthur grinding his teeth was surprisingly audible…
– – – – –
For clearance, during this whole war arc, Liloa has already finished her education at LeBrun. So for example, the library scene with Ed has already happened.