17 Battle of Alm 2
It was a complete, successful victory for Drake and his immaculate soldiers. The worst casualties were Immaculate getting lightly injured or damaging their weapons. As for the gains…they were truly incredible.
Drake came with a butler, and returned with a squire. Lewis became a full-fledged knight in this battle, though he had fainted not long after the fight after breaking through. If not for Drake, he would have died after all. No matter how strong-willed you are, such an experience was not so easily swallowed.
The loot was pretty fruitful as well: there were over 200 sets of weapons and armours, enough to equip a small army.
'If I equip the hundreds of trainees in Drake's den, my military camp, I will earn another 200 men capable of fighting. That's good.'
Drake was about to return to Drake's den and rest with his army. By taking down Alm, he had completed his goal of weakening Viscount Frey's influence in the South of his territory. More importantly, he had showed everyone that his Household was full of lies. Their most famous knight, the Brave Knight as they loved to call him, had fallen in front of a 15-years-old newly advanced knight and an army that wasn't even accounting for half of the forces of the Alm soldiers.
The looting took a day.
It was one day too long.
The Governor and his army had been scouted nearby, marching towards Drake and his men at a barely conceivable speed. They had 300 men, and unlike the Brave Knight Paul Frey and his subordinates, these men were the real deal. All of them were on horses, qualifying as an elite light cavalry force.
There was no escaping the battle. Even if Drake made use of his men's horsemanship, with the loot and the heavy armour of the Immaculate, it was utterly impossible to win a light cavalry force with speed.
Even if he did, their victory would have been useless.
Neither Drake nor his trusted advisors could have expected the Governor of the South, the Knight Berret who always stayed in his castle and sent his men to do his binding instead of himself, would suddenly march South with the entirety of his army, leaving the Alm castle barely defended.
"How can this be?", Drake asked
He had analysed the battlefield over and over again, and he knew that the Alm checkpoint was an undistinguishable weak point in the enemy's territory. He had analysed the historical records, and gathered testimonies on the individual Knights so that he could come up with the most solid plan.
He even went through the trouble and expensive pain of hiring 3 companies of mercenaries to stir up trouble in three different towns, wealthy towns that were all strategic points and economical pillars of the Frey Territory. Meanwhile, Alm was just a checkpoint.
Drake chose Alm as his hunting ground to utterly defeat his enemies. He didn't seek wealth, or fame by attacking Paul Frey and defeating him in battle. He sought blood. He wanted the Viscount Frey to suffer a blow in his face. He wanted the Viscount to be afraid.
Little did he know; his plans had been seen through by the Viscount. And the man seemed to have planned to end Drake's conquest right here, at the roots.
Drake was biting his lips. Blood was flowing on his chin, and his green eyes, flickering with guilt and hatred, seemed hungry for revenge.
Drake thought for a while, not listening the pledges of the elven girls who advised him to run away, using his immaculate soldiers as bait. In their eyes, it was a pretty normal occurrence for a lord to run away using such a method.
However, Drake wouldn't do this. These immaculate soldiers swore an oath of loyalty to him, swearing to die for him if the need arose. And he swore to use them wisely. He couldn't just send them to sacrifice themselves. They were immaculate soldiers, war slaves: they weren't pigs.
Drake suddenly had an idea.
"Instead of running away from the enemy, we will charge them."
Everyone around Drake was shocked. It wasn't a suggestion, it was an order.
"My lord, with all due respect, no matter how strong a heavy cavalry can be in front of a light cavalry, the difference in number is too great. The only reason why we won against the enemies last night was because they were drunk, untrained and taken by surprise. Today, the tides are reversed. Our soldiers are tired, and the enemies is hungry for blood, driven by revenge", Lewis said, trying to reason Drake.
"My decision is made. We will not sacrifice my soldiers as pawns. We will fight bravely.", Drake continued, "but I am well aware that charging blindly into the enemy's ranks will only lead to a massacre."
Drake always based his decisions on data. His biochip ran simulations, and based on the probabilities, he would make choices. It wasn't a perfect way of leading an army, but at least, he could make the best choices in any situations, unless a variable was put in his way, like the very variable that pushed him in this predicament.
[Beep! Simulations run. Probability of winning a direct confrontation: 12%. Probability of surviving in a direct confrontation: 88%. Probability of running away safely by sacrificing the Immaculate soldiers: 99%.]
The odds were favouring his escape by sacrificing his immaculate army. The biochip was only a tool. It ran simulations whenever told to do so. But it couldn't think by itself. It only obeyed Drake, and besides data storage and basic simulations, it was unfortunately unable to come up with helpful plans.
But Drake didn't fool around in the past 15 years. He wasn't a scholar, but his knowledge in tactics and historical battles far exceeded the norm of royal strategists, not because he read a lot, but because he lived two lives, one being immersed in a battlefield.
No matter the creatures attacking him, they all shared a trait: weakness in front of fear.
"Cut the tongues of the prisoners, make them drink a lot of wine so that they are drunk. I will act as bait in the incoming battle. I will fake a surrender. When they stop their army to check the truthfulness of my surrender, you will ambush his men. Focus on the commanders and leaders. As for the Knight Berret himself, I will kill him by surprise. No one expects a 15-years-old boy to master a knight-killing technique after all", Drake revealed his plan.
"The moment he enters my attack range is the moment he dies."
What followed was an endless series of dissuasion attempts headed towards Drake. In the end, Lewis was forced to accept Drake's orders, and so did the elven twins.
The Immaculate Soldiers might have been trained to follow orders blindly. But they weren't blind anymore ever since Drake purchased them and treated them well, training them into intelligent and skilled soldiers. Drake didn't want stupid subordinates. He wanted elite soldiers who could think for themselves, who could adapt in a battlefield.
They were aware of their fate when the enemy light cavalry was scouted only a few hours' from reaching their position. They couldn't escape, and any attempt to battle directly would result in a bloodbath for both camps, a bloodbath that was unlikely to result in a win.
They expected the lord to run away from the battle. He was only 15 years old, he was just a boy with no proper experience of fighting.
And yet, their predictions turned out to be wrong. When they heard the news from the anxious Lewis and the infuriated elven twins, they knelt. They knelt in front of Drake, while repeating these very words:
"TONIGHT WE HUNT!"
It was a clear, bloodthirsty war cry that had more meaning that it seemed.
The Immaculate soldiers felt a warmth in their heart, a warmth that was felt for the first time in their lifetime. It was the feeling of being protected by their lord. It was the feeling of being treated as soldiers. This was the feeling of being valued by their commander. It was a feeling of…fulfilment.