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Book 4: Chapter 3 (5)

While Guiscard was facing various problems in Ecbatana, Arslan’s army had already traveled about 10% of the way there.

May 15th. Until that day, the Parsian army had been advancing unhindered. At this time of year, the sun was hot, but the humidity in the air was low and the breeze was soothing to the body and mind.

Arslan, riding a light-colored horse, had not spoken much since the army left. There were many things he still had to think about. On the third day, he looked north towards the face of the mountain Damavand, and could not help but be surprised by the dramatic change in the mountain’s appearance. He’d wanted to send out a detailed investigation party, but given the current situation of the Parsian army, there was no soldiers or time to spare for that, and it would have to wait until after they recaptured Ecbatana. His personal interests could not take precedence over the more important business.

After passing south of Mount Damavand, the smell of war became stronger and stronger.

The first barrier to Arslan’s army was the fortress of Chasum. Located on a hill about half a farsang (2.5 kilometers) from the road, surrounded by shrubs and cliffs, this fortress did not appear easy to capture.

However, upon hearing the name of this fortress, both Daryun and Kishward were taken aback. Even they, who were both Marzban, were not aware of its existence.

This fortress had been hastily built by the Lusitanian army during Arslan's expedition to Sindhura. Its main purpose was to choke a key point of the continental highway and monitor the movements of Arslan's army.

"That Guiscard fellow isn’t half bad!"

Learning that there were, indeed, some formidable enemies in the Lusitanian army, Narsus could not help but smile. Without challenges like these, it wouldn’t be any fun to fight. Although, their army suffering significant damage definitely could not be said to be a pleasure.

Zaravant and Isfan asked Arslan for permission to attack the fortress. As far as the young generals were concerned, this was their first battle since joining Arslan’s army. Their blood must have been boiling. However, Narsus coldly refused their request. He sent Elam to take charge of the reconnaissance, and after receiving his report, he looked at the map while mumbling under his breath, and then made his battle plan.

"It's decided. Let's leave Chasum fortress alone for now."

Jaswant stated his own opinion politely.

"Is it really alright to leave the fortress alone? Won’t it be a problem in the future?"

"Even if we attack it now, it's not simple to capture. There is no reason for us to do so. Let's just leave it alone for now and move on, Your Highness."

"If that's what you think is best, Narsus."

Arslan knew that the young tactician’s words must have taken into account hundreds of scenarios, and he accepted the advice quickly.

Narsus summoned Elam and Alfreed and gave them each an account of their tasks, sending them as envoys to Daryun and Kishward’s camps; on the other hand, he sent ordinary messengers to the first camp, telling them to leave the fortress alone and move on.

Isfan and Zaravant were very dissatisfied with this order, but since Tus had already started to advance in accordance with it, they had to follow it.

The Lusitanian army in Chasum fortress also sent out scouting parties to inquire about the movements of the Parsians, and they immediately received news of their advance.

The lord of Chasum fortress was a man named General Clemence, who had also taken part in the invasion of Maryam.

"Heathens who do not fear God, I will make you pay for your sins of cult-worship that have accumulated for centuries."

Clemence was a devout follower of Yaldabaoth. He had strong faith, and was extremely kind and just to those who also followed Yaldabaoth. He had an excellent temperament, and was known as "Clemence the Just" in Lusitanian.

However, he was extremely cruel to those he considered pagans. From his point of view, the pagans were of the devil, and their sins were so deep that the only way to do the right thing was to kill them. "The only good heretic is a dead heretic" was his most frequent saying.

"Have the infidels ignored my fortress and continued marching west? Well, our daily training drills will finally be put to use."

Once the Parsian army began to move forward, Zaravant and Isfan were hasty in their march. They thought this would allow them to encounter an enemy sooner and start fighting. Even the older Tus's admonition fell on deaf ears, and they continued to argue with each other without giving in.

"Zaravant, slow your march for a little while."

"Nonsense! You're the one who should slow down!"

Thus, Isfan and Zaravant kept advancing with each other arguing back and forth, finally pulling away from the second group by five farsang (about 25 kilometers).

Barhai, a commander in the second formation, was taken aback.

"If they want to go ahead, they need permission! Should I call them back?"

However, the black-clad "Tiger General" only smiled faintly and shook his head.

The first line, which had abandoned its companions in the second line and marched forward, met the Lusitanian army on the afternoon of the 16th. Finally, they had met an enemy. The Lusitanian army had constructed earthen barricades on the road to prevent them from attacking.

The battle started immediately. While sending news of the fight to the rear, Zaravant and Isfan let the cavalry charge forward without waiting for Tus. Their initial attack was thwarted as millions of arrows were fired from within the barricades. However, Zaravant gave an order.

"Don't panic! Spread out left and right, go around behind the barricades and overwhelm the enemy!"

As always, the Parsian cavalry knew no fear.

"Yes, got it!"

"We'll show those damned Lusitanians what we’re made of!"

The cavalrymen of Pars pulled on their reins, kicked the bellies of their horses, and dust rolled up as they advanced. It was the invincible Parsian cavalry’s attack.

However, the Lusitanians’ strategy was very cunning. The Parsian soldiers, who had started to spread out to the left and right of the barricade, tried to go around to the back, but they ran into a rope tied across the road. They sneered, drew their swords and cut the rope. As they watched the rope flying through the air, there was a sudden and strange sound, and thousands of stones fell on the heads of the Parsians. The rope had been attached to the stone-thrower. Stones larger than a man's fist fell like rain, and both men and horses were struck squarely. The horses whinnied and fell to the ground, and the riders could not move once they fell.

Even Zaravant and Isfan had to give the order to retreat. At that moment, the Lusitanian knights who leapt out from behind the barricades rushed out with their spears.

"Don't let the infidels escape!"

The Lusitanian knights took advantage of the situation and pursued them. At that moment, Tus’s 4,000 men cavalry arrived, and the two conflicting armies immediately fell into a state of melee. Tus himself was caught in a tangle with several Lusitanian cavalrymen.

Tus, who was pinned down, was undaunted. He swung his sword in his right hand while loosening the chain coiled around his left shoulder.

The chain was thrown out with lightning speed and struck the Lusitanian knight directly in the face. The knight's nose was broken, his teeth were shattered, and his face was covered with blood as he tumbled off his horse. Tus did not let the other knights have time to cower. The chain flew in mid-air, knocking down two more knights.

The chain combat art had been passed down from the Nabataean people. Tus had been learning it since he was ten years old, and is more skilled with the chain than a sword.

Isfan and Zaravant's crisis was temporarily averted, and although Tus was very skilled, he really couldn't hold back the attack of the Lusitanian army either. He ordered a retreat, and drove back the advancing Lusitanians. The power of his chain was certainly frightening to the Lusitanian knights, but his personal bravery was not enough to prevent the defeat of the whole army. The first formation of the Parsian army continued to be pushed back, and without the assistance of the second formation, they could only keep retreating.

However, at this time, an urgent message came to the front of the line.

"Something’s wrong! Stop the fighting! Chasum fortress is under attack by the Parsians and is about to fall!"

"Wait, what?!"

Clemence was shocked. Even if they won this battle, if Chasum fortress was captured, they would have no fortress to go back to.

Clemence hastily ordered to stop the attack and return the fortress. They were already some distance away from the fortress. Could it be that this group of the Parsian army was just a decoy?

Since the Lusitanian army suddenly stopped their pursuit, Tus and others reorganized the defeated army and started to follow behind the Lusitanians to catch up. At this time, Tus showed his commanding power, which was far above the ability of ordinary people. The Lusitanian army, which was in a hurry to advance, went back into their earthen barricades.

At this moment, the sound of rain came through the dusk, and countless arrows attacked the Lusitanian army. The Lusitanian soldiers fell down with screams. The Parsians had infiltrated their barricades somehow.

"Damn it ……"

Clemence, who moaned helplessly, knew that he had fallen into the enemy's trap. The Parsian army's cavalry made a move to attack Chasum fortress, then snuck into the earthen barricades and attacked the Lusitanian army that had passed through there unsuspectingly. From the barricade, the Parsian troops jumped out and attacked the Lusitanian army, which was lost in confusion.

The Knight in Black ran on the front lines, and when he decided that Clemence was the commander, he came straight at him. The black-clad knight burst forward as fast as an arrow fired from a bow, and the Lusitanian cavalrymen who tried to hold him back rolled off their horses with a spray of blood. Clemence heard himself scream as he saw the Parsian’s long sword glowing in the thin dusk.

"Those who wish to meet the same fate will come to me, Daryun!"

Instantly, the Lusitanian army was silent, yet the silence was soon broken with more screams when Clemence' head was thrown to the ground in front of their eyes. Clemence was a strong man, yet his head was cut off by the Black Knight of Pars in just one move.

There was a knight named Castellio in the Lusitanian army who had once been saved by Clemence. Castellio, in order to avenge his savior, did not flee with the crowd, but stayed in place alone and continued to fire arrows towards the Parsian army. Although he shot down two men, he was shot through the right elbow by a beautiful Parsian woman with long hair. When she saw Castellio fall, the Parsian woman, Farangis, ordered her men to catch him. The brave Lusitanian knight was bound and brought before the commander of the Parsian army. He had already accepted that he would not be spared, but the young commander did not kill him.

"Return to Ecbatana and tell the King of Lusitania this: Soon, Arslan will visit him with Parsian-style courtesy."

    Thus, the knight Castellio was able to live on with his beloved horse, and became a messenger to inform his king of their defeat on the continental highway to the west.

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