Book 4: Chapter 2 (5) |
Kubard predicted that the Lusitanians would wait for darkness to fall to launch a surprise attack. The Lusitanians still had 280 horsemen, while only two were on Kubard's side. They were driven away once, there was no way they would just retreat.
"In order to shake people’s confidence, and to identify their targets, they will start a fire. Because they’re unfamiliar with the geography of this land, they’ll come from the main road. Trust me."
For Kubard, this was his first battle since the defeat of Atropatene. At that time, Kubard led 10,000 elite cavalry. Now, he had only the remnants of Maryam's army and the peasants, fishermen and petty officials of Daylam on hand, which together amounted to only 300 men.
"This’ll be fun!"
Kubard mused, as he ordered around people who had never seen a single battle. The men who had seen their wives killed were burning with vengeance and had a strong desire to fight. If they could manage to follow Kubard’s instructions, they may be more reliable than actual soldiers.
Merlane, with a black cloth tied over his head, built a wood fence along the street connecting the cliffs to the coast of the Darband Sea. He poured fish oil in front of the fence, and sprinkled it with a strange black powder.
This was a weapon used by the Zott clan for attacking large caravans. It combined fat, saltpeter, sulfur, charcoal, and three more secret medicines. This recipe produces an incredibly loud sound. Combined with fish oil, it should be even stronger. After he had finished venting his anger and dissatisfaction with the princess of Maryam, he silently went about his work.
When the moon rose to the middle of the night sky, the sound of horses' hooves rang out in the darkness. The Lusitanian cavalry's counterattack began.
Nearly three hundred horses' hooves pounded the ground as they approached. The sound seemed to scare some of the common people. However, it felt nostalgic to the former Marzban, who once led 10,000 troops.
In the darkness, a few small fires ignited. Flaming arrows tore through the night air. They tangled with twigs and wood, flashing red and yellow flames, and the armor of the approaching Lusitanian cavalry reflected the fire, an unpleasant light emerging from the darkness. At that very moment, the arrows fired by Merlane pierced the ground.
The situation had completely changed. The fire triggered the black powder and fish oil, creating a dazzling curtain of fire that blocked the path of the advancing Lusitanian knights.
The horses went wild with fright and their riders were thrown to the ground. The fire was out of control, and the loud popping noise paralyzed the ears of the people. The horses whinnied in panic, and the riders were unable to stop them.
A captain of the riders shouted. Those who had managed to stay on their horses obeyed his order and spread out. At this time, several riders who had fallen off their horses were crushed and killed under the hooves of their companions.
It was too late to care. The Lusitanian horsemen ran to the other side of the road, guided by the faint light of the moon, trying to make their way around the heretics.
However, the trap designed by Kubard and Merlane had several layers of construction. The horses that were running on the road suddenly tipped over a rope that had been drawn across the road. The cavalrymen were thrown out of their saddles, flew through the air, and fell to the ground. While they groaned and struggled to get up due to the pain and the weight of their armor, they were caught in a fishing net.
The Lusitanian soldiers were caught in the net, but still tried to break free. The unpleasant-smelling fish oil was poured on their heads. As they tried to escape, flaming arrows were fired. The fish oil burst into flames that roared to life.
There were screams and shrieks as the bodies of the Lusitanian soldiers, reduced to flaming masses, flailed on the road. It was a brutal way to fight, but the inhabitants of Daylam, who had watched their wives being abused in broad daylight, showed no mercy. They ran with sticks in their hands, and beat the flaming Lusitanian soldiers until they no longer moved.
The Lusitanian soldiers on the other road noticed something glowing falling from the trees, but it didn’t seem to cause any harm, so they continued to run forward. They eventually ran into a knight in front of them, blocking the road. A one-eyed man wearing Maryami armor. Of course, it was Kubard.
Because of the narrow road, the Lusitanian cavalry could not go around him, so they had to meet the one-eyed man face-to-face.
"Heretic! Now you're going to pay the price for those treacherous moves!"
The first cavalryman raised his lance and advanced. Kubard easily dodged it and slashed the Lusitanian cavalryman across the neck as he came closer. The head flew off and the body fell to the ground with a heavy thud. By this time, the second cavalryman had been slashed from his right shoulder to his left armpit.
Kubard swung his great sword vertically, slashed horizontally, and stabbed diagonally, and all of these movements were decorated with copious amounts of human blood. The rattle of the swords as they exchanged heavy blows rang in Kubard's ears. Soon after, the screams quieted as the cavalrymen dropped their weapons and began to flee for their lives.
The Lusitanian cavalry captain who now approached was also a man of some martial fame, and he didn't panic at all when faced with Kubard. Perhaps in order to let his companions escape, he stood up and clashed with Kubard's greatsword. Sparks flew everywhere and the clatter of swords filled the air. However, there was still a big difference in terms of strength, and it wasn’t long before blood shot out from the captain's slashed neck and the man fell to the ground.
"What a shame! Your skill did not measure up to your bravery."
After saying these words to the corpse on the ground, Kubard kicked his horse's belly and started chasing the fleeing enemies.
The night was still dark, but the fleeing Lusitanian cavalrymen still had sea sparkle on their armor, so there was no need to worry about losing them. There were six of them in total, which was all that remained of the enemy.
(TN: If you’re wondering, by sea sparkle, they mean… bioluminescent dinoflagellates. These are microscopic phytoplankton that glow as a defense mechanism to ward off predators. I actually studied marine biology in college, so I got unreasonably excited about this. The world of phytoplankton is vast and incredibly important to ecosystems!)
The six being chased ran past the Daylam citizens, sitting with their lances and clubs on the side of the road.
"Don't let them get away! Go after them!"
If one of them got away, the situation here would be known to the main forces of the Lusitanian army. If they were all killed, the Lusitanian Army would never know what was going on, and even if they came to check, it would take quite a bit of time. The people of Daylam could use this time to fortify their defenses and perhaps ask for help from Prince Arslan's army.
The Lusitanian soldiers must not be allowed to escape. The people of Daylam knew this, but they had exhausted all of their strength and stamina and could only sit on the ground. They were not used to fighting, after all.
Kubard had no choice but to go after them himself.
A harsh slash cut the Lusitanian soldier's neck, spurting blood that flew through the night air.
With another slash, another cavalryman was cut down. The Lusitanian soldiers had no more intention to fight back. They ran frantically and desperately. The other four cavalrymen had managed to get too far away, and now the only thing to do was use a bow and arrow.
To be a Marzban, one must be an expert in various weapons such as the sword, spear and bow. However, even among the Marzban, there were still those who were better or worse with certain weapons. Kubard was not the best with a bow and arrow. Of course, he was still better than an average soldier, and managed to pierce the body of one of the fleeing enemies.
Kubard shot two arrows and took down two Lusitanian cavalrymen. The third arrow missed, but the fourth took down another man.
By this time, the third man was out of the range. Kubard stammered and dropped his bow, realizing that this would turn into a long chase. Just as he was about to urge his horse forward, a strong gust of wind blew past Kubard.
The Lusitanian knight, whose figure had become a tiny black dot, fell backwards from his saddle. Kubard watched as the young man with an unpleasant expression on his face lowered his bow.
The young man of the Zott clan replied with his usual unhappy expression when Kubard praised him.
"I consider myself the second best archer in Pars."
"Oh, really? Who’s the first?"
"Haven’t met them yet, but I like to think that someday I’ll find someone better."
“What an interesting fellow!” Kubard thought to himself. This man’s skill with a bow and arrow alone might have been enough to earn him the title of Marzban.
Suddenly, Merlane drew his sword and stabbed the ground. It turned out to be a Lusitanian cavalryman who had fallen to the ground, but was not completely dead, trying to strike one last blow at Merlane.
"I am Merlane of the Zott Clan. If you died unjustly, feel free to come to me in the form of a vengeful ghost."
Shaking the blood from his sword, Merlane said these words viciously. This marked the end of the bloody battle.
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