Masked Knight – Chapter 77

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Blood Oath

 

In the grassland, there were no mountains. No matter where you looked, you would see a large and empty space. Such a special area was the best location for pastures. As such, even the women and the children could ride horses in the grassland. This inherently favorable condition was considered the source of strength of the Great Moon Kingdom’s cavalry.

 

Unfortunately, the location also had a fatal flaw.

 

The grassland had no mountains which meant that there were no metallic materials in the area. They also had little lumber. So even though the cavalry of the Great Moon Kingdom was strong, they could not be fully equipped. Reuenthal was a rare and capable man who had traveled around the continent and studied military tactics to make their cavalry more powerful. Despite that, their equipment was unfortunately still behind the times.

 

Without sufficient iron, they were unable to equip a heavy cavalry. Without sufficient stones and wood, they were unable to build city walls and towns. As a result, the Great Moon Kingdom had no defense lines in the grasslands. Their whole nation was porous and accessible everywhere and was completely undefended.

 

Rody’s strategy was really simple. That day, Commander Gordon arrived at the city and entered through the front gate along with his remaining 10,000 soldiers. After that, Rody took 10,000 of his own men and 10,000 of the Northwest Legion’s remaining cavalrymen out of Watt Fortress through the back gate. The 20,000 cavalrymen were split into two groups. They used small paths to avoid the fortresses which had been captured by Reuenthal such as the Loulan Fortress and the Trier Fortress.

 

The Central Cavalry was naturally led by Rody while the 10,000 Northwest Legion cavalrymen were led by one of their commanders, Giesslunt. The two armies were like sharp knives heading straight for the Great Moon Kingdom’s grasslands. They rushed all the way without stopping. When they encountered an enemy, the enemy was completely routed. There were no survivors.

 

Reuenthal might have dispatched a lot of mounted scouts to Watt Fortress but it did not work out as planned. While the fortifications for the fortress were still being constructed, Reuben in accordance with Rody’s orders had dispatched Gordon and his men to attack in small squads. That act had diverted Reuenthal’s attention. When scouts were reported missing, he believed that those scouts had gone too close to the fortress and were killed by the defenders.

 

Taking this opportunity, the Empire’s 20,000-strong cavalry did not rest and rushed straight for the Great Moon Kingdom’s Dragon Plateau!

 

The foreigners of the grasslands were generally nomads. They lived as tribes of different sizes and were scattered all over the place. However, after the founding of the Great Moon Kingdom, the tribes unified and listened to the orders of those at the Dragon Plateau.

 

Rody also exterminated several grassland tribes. Most of the young men had already been recruited by Reuenthal. Although the people of the grasslands were brave, those left behind were either old and weak or women and children. How could they fight against the Radiant Empire’s fully equipped cavalry? Rody did not kill the helpless. His attack was only to confuse Reuenthal. He wanted to wreak havoc in the heart of the Great Moon Kingdom. The more chaotic, the better. The Great Moon Kingdom’s armed forces were naturally eliminated when spotted. But the old, the weak, the women and the children were spared. Rody also ordered to leave behind a small amount of provision for them. The other possessions of the tribes, the tents, goats, or cattle were all gathered and burned. This was a stratagem taught by Andy.

 

The Great Moon Kingdom had used its unique advantage to form an army of 200,000 cavalrymen. However, their total population was less than a million. Most of their cavalrymen usually just pastured their herds on normal days. Since they were good at horse riding, they could easily become a cavalryman with just a little training. But their economic production was almost zero. From all the grazing they did, their only riches were the livestock, cattle, and horses. Destroying all those was a big blow to the Great Moon Kingdom.

 

According to Andy, if Rody really wanted to be cruel, he should have massacred everyone regardless if they were old, women or children. As the Great Moon Kingdom’s population was not big, killing them would be a serious blow to the Great Moon Kingdom and would weaken their national strength. Assuming that the women and children were killed, even if they had 200,000 young men in the front lines, those young men would not be able to sire children for the future generations. It was the best strategy if a person wanted the Radiant Empire’s cavalry of 20,000 to defeat the Great Moon Kingdom. Even if the Great Moon Kingdom started to encourage more births, a child would still need more than 10 years to grow into an adult. By that time, the Great Moon Kingdom’s population would no longer be able to be restored.

 

This ruthless stratagem was used once by the late Duke of the Tulip Family during Abbas the Great’s reign. The grassland foreigners suffered huge losses and could not recover for decades.

 

However, Rody was young and would absolutely not use such a cruel method. Although he did not kill all the tribesmen, he ordered to kill all their herds and horses. The soldiers drove the animals into the stockades and burned them all. Without their herds and horses, the tribes would only collapse. Since the Great Moon Kingdom was the unification of those various tribes, losing one tribe would also mean weakening the Great Moon Kingdom’s strength.

 

So within a few days, the two cavalries swept away more than 10 tribes and caused fear in the grasslands.

 

As for the Dragon Plateau, Rody knew that it was best not to attack that place even if he had the chance. Although most of the enemies were away, the main base would still have tens of thousands of enemies. To attack an enemy several times their size would only happen if they had lost their minds.

 

As long as he continued to attack for a few more days, Reuenthal would likely retreat.

 

After non-stop running for three days other than the occasional rest needed by the horses, the soldiers could no longer sit properly on their saddles. Although the ‘Lightning God’s Whip’ were tired, they managed to support themselves as a result of their rigorous training. However, after two days, it felt like there were people pursuing them. This unnerved Rody. In that kind of location, the enemy could easily catch up in a day. In the wilderness, it would be hard to defend themselves. Although the Central Cavalry were elites, after several days of fighting, they would have a higher possibility of losing.

 

Besides, their pursuers seemed to be skilled at tracking. They appeared to be getting closer and closer with each passing day. It was also difficult to hide their tracks in the wide grasslands. If the enemy outflanked them, there would be a high chance of being completely routed.

 

The past few days had progressed smoothly. Rody, while being chased by the pursuers ran in a circle in the grasslands. He looked at the sky and then he ordered the army to divide into three teams with 3,000 in each team. They then split up and ran towards the borders.

 

The pursuers were caught by surprise when Rody split his army into three. The pursuers were actually cavalries sent out by the Dragon Plateau. The commander of the cavalry was not flexible with his tactics and panicked for a bit. He did not dare divide his troops so he took a chance and randomly picked one of the directions to continue the pursuit.

 

Rody led 3,000 of his army and ran for about half a day. He then noticed that he was still being chased. Without panicking, he further divided his army into three teams, each having 1,000 soldiers. Again, the three teams ran in three different directions.

 

The commander of the pursuers from the Great Moon Kingdom was frustrated and he cursed the people of the Empire for being so sly. After that, he once again randomly picked a direction to pursue.

 

After chasing for another half a day, the sky turned dark. A soldier reported to him that the enemy had again divided his army into 10 teams and ran in 10 different directions. The commander of the Great Moon Kingdom was stunned and his mind went blank.

 

He was one of the Great Moon Kingdom’s most famous and valiant generals. Unfortunately, bravery was not going to save him from deceit and he was left feeling confused. He was at a lost, so he could only randomly choose one of the directions to pursue.

 

After dividing his army several times more, Rody was left with 100 soldiers. These were all his elite bodyguards. However, his luck was not so good. His pursuers seemed intent on chasing his team. Despite splitting up several times, the enemy still managed to track his group. Rody could not help but sigh.

 

Splitting up after the raid was a tactic he had decided to use. The first purpose was to confuse his pursuers. Without knowing how many soldiers Rody had, the pursuers would not dare divide their forces to pursue. After Rody’s army split up a few times, the pursuers were eventually aware of the size of his army. However, by that time it was too late. After the army was split up into several smaller teams, they would not be easily intercepted. As long as they could escape the grasslands, they could regroup at Watt Fortress. Relying on the strengths of the cavalry, it was the best way to withdraw. Finally, it would also minimize losses in the event that a group was caught.

 

It was by luck that Rody’s group was still being chased. The horses were also starting to slow down. Although the horses were being prompted to run, they were feeling tired after running for a few days. The horses did rest occasionally but they were still getting weaker as time passed by. Rody looked around and saw that his men were also prompting their horses to run faster but like him, their speed had dropped.

 

Suddenly, there was a cry of alarm as Rody’s horse gave a sad neigh and collapsed. Rody skillfully jumped off the horse but he still tumbled.

 

His bodyguards immediately reined in their horses nearby and jumped off their horses.

 

Rody saw that his horse was frothing and was no longer able to stand. He could not help but sigh. He had never expected his horse, which looked more majestic than the others to be the first to die.

 

The captain of the bodyguards said, “Your Excellency, please get on my horse! We will ride together!” Among 100 bodyguards, his horse seemed to be the healthiest.

 

Rody frowned and looked back. He could faintly see the enemy horses in the horizon.

 

“Your horse is also at its limit! If we both ride together, it will only collapse faster!”

 

The captain of the bodyguards then replied without hesitation, “In that case, Your Excellency shall ride my horse!”

 

“Nonsense!” Rody gave a gloomy smile and slowly said, “Everyone, the enemy has been tricked by our strategy of splitting our army. However, they are finally about to catch up to us. We may have been the unlucky team to attract the enemy pursuers but now, our other comrades will be able to escape! Today may be the day we all die! Are you afraid?”

 

“We are not afraid!” The 100 people shouted in unison. Those 100 people were elites of the Wolves Fang. All of them did not fear death. Even though they were faced with a hopeless situation, none of them showed any sign of fear.

 

Rody nodded his head. His heart was filled with sentimental feelings as he pulled out his sword and loudly shouted, “Since we cannot run anymore, we should take advantage of what little strength we have left and fight! Even if we die, we will take down as many soldiers as we can!”

 

“Your Excellency!” The captain of the bodyguards said, “We are not afraid of death! However, Your Excellency must not die!”

 

After that, the captain of the bodyguards turned around to look at his men and spoke, “Your Excellency, please take my horse and leave first! Your subordinate will lead the army to enable Your Excellency’s retreat!”

 

The Wolves Fang resolutely pulled out their swords and shouted, “We will cover to enable Your Excellency’s retreat!”

 

“Cover what retreat?” Rody felt agitated and cursed. “This is not covering a retreat! This is courting death! You want me to go first but was there ever a commander who would leave his subordinates to die so that he could retreat?”

 

The captain of the bodyguards spoke unwaveringly, “Your Excellency, although we are a small force, we are confident enough to hold them back for some time! As the captain of Your Excellency’s bodyguards, I can die without regret! Only Your Excellency can ensure the safety of hundreds of thousands in the Northwest. If anything were to happen to Your Excellency, the Northwest will no longer be able to defend itself from Reuenthal.”

 

Rody felt agitated and full of grief but he gritted his teeth and shook his head.

 

He saw that the pursuers were getting closer and closer, enough to feel the vibration on the ground. The captain of the bodyguards also looked worried and spoke loudly, “Your Excellency, if you do not agree to this, then we will all die together! What is the difference? As long as there is a chance, Your Excellency should take care of yourself for the sake of the Wolves Fang and the Northwest Legion!” After saying that, he placed his sword at his own neck and continued, “If Your Excellency refuses to go, we will die anyway. Therefore, I might as well die in front of Your Excellency!”

 

When he saw that Rody was still hesitating, the bodyguard shouted again, “Your Excellency, if you do not go, you will die here! When you die, no one will be able to stop Reuenthal! I am afraid that the whole of the Northwest would be ravaged by Reuenthal’s cavalry!”

 

After that, all of the bodyguards also mimicked their captain and placed their swords at their necks as they looked at Rody resolutely.

 

Rody’s vision blurred and his throat choked. He could not even say a word. He also noticed that there were bloodstains on the captain’s neck. All of the soldiers also looked determined. If he shook his head again, blood would definitely spurt out immediately.

 

Rody had the personality of a tough warrior. After killing on the battlefield for several days, he also became more resolute. However, he was currently trying not to cry. Without saying anything more he got onto the captain’s horse. He took out a long arrow and broke it into two before swearing, “Today, I will rely on you, brothers! If I am able to escape, I will avenge you! I will make the enemies spill their blood and turn this grassland red! If I violate this oath, I will be like this arrow!”

 

He bit his lips, turned around, whipped his horse and galloped away. He knew the 100 soldiers were looking at him but he did not dare to turn around. Rody was afraid that he would turn back and assist them if he did.

 

Once the duke was far away, the captain of the bodyguards sighed. He turned around and shouted, “Alright! Everyone, we may die here today but we must not tarnish the name of the Central Cavalry! We must not tarnish the name of the ‘Lightning God’s Whip’! Understand?”

 

100 voices shouted in unison, “Kill!” Every one of them looked determined.

 

The captain of the bodyguards got onto a horse and rode it together with another person.

 

“Line up!” Listening to the order, the 100 cavalrymen formed a neat line. Although they only had 100 people, they were still imposing. They quietly waited for the enemy to arrive.

 

A little while later, the Great Moon Kingdom’s pursuing soldiers arrived from a distance. From afar, they saw a small neatly arranged cavalry. The general of the Great Moon Kingdom’s cavalry was stunned.

 

Have they gone mad? Are they trying to fight us with only 100 soldiers?”

 

Before he could decide whether he should immediately rush in and attack, he heard a powerful shout from the other side.

 

“Shoot!”

 

After that, hundreds of arrows immediately started to fly over. Many of the cavalrymen from the Great Moon Kingdom were unable to react in time. They were hit by the arrows and fell off their horses. The general had quickly bent down and managed to avoid one. However, the bodyguard behind him was hit instead.

 

The general became furious and shouted, “Charge! Destroy these foreign barbarians! For each head, you will be rewarded with five cattle and sheep!”

 

When the captain of the bodyguards saw a number of their enemies were killed by their arrows, he laughed loudly and bleakly. After that, he gave the order for the Wolves Fang to abandon their bows and arrows and to draw out their swords.

 

He then saw the enemies rushing over furiously while shouting, “Strier (Kill)!” The loud shout came from numerous indifferent faces which were also mixed with both greed and fear. They had many swords and spears. They approached like black clouds rolling over.

 

The captain of the bodyguards gave a calm smile and then he shouted loudly, “Wolves Fang!”

 

“Kill!” The 100 cavalrymen cried out and managed to overshadow the loud voices shouting,  “Strier”. Their voices were so loud it could pierce the sky.

 

After that, the 100 cavalrymen charged forward. They were like a magnificent army of thousands of soldiers. Shouts of ‘kill’ were heard throughout the day until the sky turned completely dark and they were completely annihilated…

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