Book 5: Chapter 1 (2) |
Parazada, who had borrowed a horse from Kubard, finally managed to catch up with Arslan's army late that night. As he hurried towards the army that was slowly advancing west in the moonlight, a group of men appeared in front of him and blocked his path.
"Who are you, insolent person? Who would so arrogantly try to approach the camp of His Highness the Crown Prince?"
The speaker asked as they drew their sword. Parazada could not help but be surprised that the voice that reached his ears was female, and pleasant as a musical tone. After hearing Parazada's report, Farangis immediately took him to the Prince's camp. The tactician Narsus, the Marzban Kishward, and other important generals were all gathered together, and Parazada's report seemed to have been a bomb dropped among them.
"The Turanian army has crossed the border…"
There were no cowards among those who followed Crown Prince Arslan. However, they all felt a pang of tension. Even Daryun and Narsus couldn't remain calm. Turan, the Ruler of the Grasslands, was an age-old enemy of Pars. Lusitanians were certainly hateful, but they all had the impression that Turan was an even more formidable enemy.
Before going to the Land of Silk, Daryun had fought in battle with the brother of the Turanian King, and cut the fierce general down from his horse. From that time on, Daryun himself became an enemy of Turan, and while he came and went from the country of Serica, there were several people who wanted to take his life. However, there was also chaos within Turan, and assassinations and schemes were common, so there had been no large-scale hostile acts towards Pars for two or three years.
But now, Turan was invading from the south. This came as a big shock to the Parsian people. After seeing that the Parsian army was about to take back the king's capital, Ecbatana, from the hands of the Lusitanian army, Turan intervened from the side. And the one who tipped them off had been the neighboring king of Sindhura, Rajendra.
"He's exactly the kind of person who would say that! The one who needs saving is Sindhura, isn’t it? At this point in time, he still wants us to think he’s doing us a favor." Kishward could not help but say with a bitter smile.
"What is Narsus’s opinion?"
Daryun asked his friend.
Before that, Narsus hadn’t said a word, and kept his eyes closed in serious thought. Only when Daryun pointed a finger at him did the young tactician finally open his eyes. With the crowd now looking at him, Narsus expressed his opinion clearly in one sentence.
"I think we'd better turn back the army, Your Highness."
They had finally embarked on the road to liberate Ecbatana, but now they would have to turn back. It was a major disappointment, but there was no other choice.
The worst-case scenario was to be attacked by the Lusitanian army from the East and the Turanian army from the West, so it would be best to take advantage of the fact that these enemies had not joined forces to attack together. This is what Narsus said to the crowd.
Farangis shrugged her shoulders.
"I'm sure Prince Rajendra will be clapping his hands in success."
"If it makes him happy, so be it. Anyway, his thoughts are nothing before His Highness Arslan's great plan to restore the country."
Narsus made a clear decision, and Farangis and the others nodded their approval. The army’s new course had been decided, but the Knight in Black, Daryun, cocked his head.
"We must turn back, but if the Lusitanian army knows that the Turanian army is invading, they may still come after us. We should conceal this matter!"
"No, there is no need to conceal it."
Narsus' answer was as clear as ever. Not only did he not want to conceal it, but he even wanted to inform the Lusitanians of the Turanian invasion and the Parsian army’s new course. He reasoned that if he made it public that "because of the invasion of the Turanian army, the Parsian army had hurriedly returned to the East ", the Lusitanian army would certainly want to confirm the authenticity of this information. Once they knew that it was the Parsians themselves who released this information, the Lusitanians would be wary. They would be convinced that "this could be a trap, so we shouldn’t attack yet", and as a result, they would just hold their breath and watch the Parsians leave, and would not attack.
On the other hand, even if the Lusitanian army attacked from the royal capital, it did not matter. The Lusitanian army was only able to go against the Parsian army because of the strong walls of the royal capital, Ecbatana. If they dared to leave the city’s walls to fight in the field, Narsus had over thirty tactics in mind to defeat them, and drive them back to the city in just one battle.
Narsus made this statement to his colleagues. In fact, Narsus had an even more powerful strategy in mind, but he did not want to present it at this time.
Since the decision had been made, there was no need to bring up unnecessary issues.
"Then, immediately prepare the army to return east. Everyone, please make preparations to leave immediately."
Hearing Arslan’s order, Narsus said to one of his companions.
"Lady Farangis, please lead 500 cavalrymen to Peshawar first to raise the morale of the soldiers defending the fortress there."
It was a dangerous task, but the beautiful Kahina with long black silky hair readily agreed. Then, Parazada, who had been silently supporting his tired body against one side of the military council table, got up and knelt down in front of the Crown Prince.
"Then, I will lead Lady Farangis to the fortress of Peshawar. Is it possible to lend me two horses?"
Arslan's dark eyes floated with a worried look.
"You are too tired. Rest for one night and set out with the infantry tomorrow!"
"Thank you, Your Highness, for your concern, but I don't feel like resting at all. Please allow me to travel with Lady Farangis."
"I see, it's up to you. However, is there a reason you need to borrow two horses?"
"One is to repay the person who lent me this horse. Only thanks to his generosity was I able to appear in front of Your Highness."
Because Kubard had asked for secrecy beforehand, Parazada did not mention his name. In any case, the person who lent the horse to the messenger was a benefactor of their army. Arslan conveyed this to Farangis, and ordered the attendants to prepare a meal for Parazada.
Parazada declined the meat-based dishes and asked only for a bowl of wheat porridge and ale with eggs and honey.
The extreme fatigue had made his stomach weak, and he had to avoid heavy food. After finishing the porridge as fast as possible, Parazada drank all the ale, but when he tried to stand up, he staggered and fell to the ground. A short time later, a loud snoring was heard.
"Let him have a good rest! He should sleep well before the effects of the medicine in the ale wear off!"
Parazada was exhausted. If he didn't rest before riding such a long distance again, it might kill him. Arslan knew that it was useless to reason with him, so he played a little trick. After giving instructions to arrange a bed for the snoring knight, Arslan nodded to Narsus. This was a wordless instruction for Narsus to act immediately. Narsus nodded back, knowing that he had also instructed the servant boy Elam to act immediately, as planned.
After seeing Elam leave, Narsus smiled at the Crown Prince and said,
"Are you sorry to be turning back, Your Highness?"
"I suppose so. It’s a shame, but it's for the best."
These were Arslan's sincere words. There had been a great deal of suffering since the Battle of Atropatene, and if things went too smoothly, it was rather disconcerting. It was only natural that there were obstacles. That said, it was rather surprising that Turan had not invaded Pars before now.
Narsus speculated on this matter. Perhaps it was because there was a lot of internal strife in Turan, and there had been no available power to attack other countries. Once things had settled down, they looked around at their neighbors and found that every country was in a state of division and chaos, so they’d finally made up their mind to attack.
Although they were also horse-riding people, the social structures of Pars and Turan are different. Parsians had a fixed residence and engaged in agriculture and commerce, while Turan was a nomadic nation that, because of its wealth, dominated other countries to collect taxes or plunder. Plundering was not a crime in Turan, but a very important industrial tool. They did not have to use the name of the gods like Lusitania, and for them, plundering was certainly considered a brave act.
The two captains, the "Mardan fu Mardan" Daryun and the "Tahir" Kishward, had to prepare their respective forces and left the Crown Prince. Arslan took Jaswant to the small procession of wagons near the camp. These people were the Lusitanian refugees led by the apprentice knight Etoile, also known as Estelle. Since Pars now had to turn back in order to fight a new enemy, they could not continue to travel together.
"So you’re leaving us behind? Isn't that irresponsible after we’ve come all this way together? What are we to do with our sick and children?"
Arslan felt that he might be chastised in this way, but Etoile just looked straight at Arslan, who had apologized to her, and did not say anything. Then, she loosened her interlocked hands and nodded to the foreign Prince, who was only two months younger than her.
"It is the duty of a sovereign to go and rescue his men when they’re under attack. It is good that you decided so quickly. Thank you very much for keeping watch over our sick and children, and allowing us to travel with you."
Arslan could not help but feel shocked. He knew that Estelle was a very brave girl, but frankly speaking, he was surprised at her understanding. After saying thanks, Estelle asked.
"By the way, what kind of gods do those Turanians believe in?"
"I'm not sure about the details, but it seems that they worship a sun god! I believe its name is Dayan."
"Is that so? Then they’re all pagans, anyway. However, please don't wipe them all out, because the remaining Turanians can be converted to the faith of Yaldabaoth. It would be a shame to kill them all."
Arslan thought Estelle was joking, but the young girl had a serious look on her face. In any case, her wish for the Parsian army to win was sincere, so Arslan gave a solemn thanks and told the young girl that he had left sufficient food and medicine with them. The maiden's reply was this.
"I do not intend to accept this as a gift. Since it is a loan, we will definitely repay it. If you heathens die, you will fall to hell, and it is impossible to return from that world. So you must come back alive.”
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