When I looked at Ji Si and took out a tiny bottle and poured the liquid onto the tip of everybody’s spear, they all asked: “What’s that?”
Ji Si paused for a moment and replied: “It’s a demonic bottle. It contains spring water her highness gifted. She added a command so that the spring water contained in it’ll combust. Once it makes contact with the enemy, they’ll be reduced to ashes. Your highness, you’re aware that these demonic bottles were filled with this not long after the last war, right? I think it’s better to refer to the spring water in it as her highness’s “command”, rather than as water.”
“What else can it do besides set fire to things?”
This thing is awesome! It’s like an enchantment. It could turn a normal spear into a fire-spear. So, does it just set fire to the Earth Dragons once it pierces them?
“There is also ‘Freeze’, ‘Venomous Poison’ and ‘Explosion’, all of which were made from her highness’s holy spring. I thought you knew about it, your highness.”
Ji Si looked at me with doubt and said: “Your highness, you should ask her highness to share some of this knowledge with you. Not only is her highness a wise a ruler, she is also a brilliant strategist, a skill she proved ten years ago. And today, it is your turn to prove yourself to us.”
He took out the imperial guard unit’s flag on the side and passed it to me with a face filled with frivolous pride. I took the flag and said to those in the formation: “Please give me a spot in the formation.”
“No, no, no. Your highness, a king does not need to enter battle himself. You just need to standby at the camp. The troops will not get confused. You need not throw yourself into the formation. You need only to stand behind them. As long as the flag remains standing, our troops will fight to the death.”
Ji Si grabbed me by the hand and dragged me to the back of the formation. He looked at me with the flag, and softly said: “Ten years ago when our defence line crumbled, her highness took the flag in hand, and charged the enemy’s vanguard while roaring loudly. When that happened, it was like a goddess had descended and all the troops who were on the verge of the defeat re-assembled, the troops who were fleeing regretted their decision, and all the elves regrouped under her highness’s flag. The life of every elf was entrusted to the flag in her highness’s grasp that day. After that, that flag which stood irrevocably became the source of confidence for our men. Every man concluded that as long as the flag stood, no one would retreat. Come. Come, your highness. Her highness’s blood runs through your veins and you are her son. It is now your turn to take the flag. Please deliver your speech. It does not need to be a heroic speech. You just need to let our men know that you have our backs!”
The flag blew in the wind as it whispered through the canyon. The tense air was shattered by the roar. The floor beneath us shook like an Earthquake hit and the sound of metal clanged in rhythm with our heart beats. Dirt rose at the entrance of the valley as our prey entered our ambush.
Mom led the charge last time? Where did mom summon all that courage to take the flag and charge the enemy lines when she was just a single woman facing off against humanity with troops who’d lost all morale already? Was it her love for her country or was it out of responsibility as the queen? All I’ve heard about kings and emperors who came before me was how tyrannical they were. But I’ve now seen how brave a wise and capable ruler can be.
“Attention! Children of the World Tree, Men of the royalty of elves!”
I didn’t know what to say, but I could feel my blood-flow speeding up and my heart beat racing with excitement. My hand holding the flag trembled, my breath sped up as I stared at the dirt closing in. Was I craving battle? Was this because of my background as a solider or was it because of the owner of this body? I didn’t know. I’m not very familiar with the culture of elves. What came out of my mouth was a pledge made up of a combination of stuff I’d read during my time here.
The spears the imperial palace guards held were steady. There wasn’t a hint of doubt from them, but I could tell that all their attention was focused on me. I watched the dirt dancing in the air, felt the trembles of the Earth and looked at my men as the blood in my body began to boil. I tightened my grip on the flag. This strong motivational feeling made me sick but at the same time, uncontrollably excited.
“Listen in. Behind you is the land of the elves, your wife, your parents and children. Behind you are the gazes of all elves, and above you are god’s watchful eyes! Remember the oath you pledged, remember the honour flowing through your body, remember your responsibilities and remember your training. I shouldn’t have to say much to warriors like you. All of you are the unbreakable walls of our city!”
“Look at the dust swirling up over there. Look at those beasts running rampant! Nothing is allowed to run rampant on our land! We inherited this land from our ancestors, and we mustn’t let it get damaged! Don’t let those watching your backs down! Don’t let me down! I’m right behind you holding our flag high! As long as this flag stands, we will not fall! May the gods bless us! May glory and victory be ours!!”
The first row of men crouched down and pointed their spears towards the wave of dust coming toward us. In front of the dust was a small silhouette jumping off the rock faces.
I loudly shouted: “Lucia!”
Her silhouette got closer and closer as well as the Earth Dragons. I’ve seen drawings of what Earth Dragons look like in the books I read. This was my first time seeing a Triceratops like animal. The horn on their head resembled the battering rams used in city sieges. They were big as rhinoceroses, yet faster than a horse. Their steps shook the Earth like Earthquakes, making the two sides of the mountain appear like they were going to collapse. We were standing on land and yet it felt like we were at out at sea rocking and swaying.
Dirt filled the air and covered the sky like a sandstorm, and they were the demons lurking within. They were huge and strong. People always fear things larger than them, that’s completely normal. Our long spears look like mere toys to them. I didn’t know what I could place my faith in.
No, I actually do have something I can place my faith in.
I can place my faith in that small silhouette flashing in the distance.
“Prepare your magic!”
I stretched my arm out to stop Ji Si standing by my side. I looked at the small silhouette and said: “Lucia will get hurt! Don’t unleash your attacks yet! Wait!”
“It’ll be too late by then!”
“Once the Earth Dragons enter, it doesn’t matter when we block off the exit! I can’t put my Lucia in anymore danger than she’s already in!”
I kept a close watch on her small silhouette as it got bigger and bigger. Lucia finally came into sight. Her leather armour was covered in mud and leaves, her ponytail came undone and her blonde hair was flailing in the air.
I shouted in her direction: “Lucia!!”
Lucia’s voice was trembling and was carried to me by the wind. I saw her reach her hand out to me as well as the Earth Dragons close behind. I don’t know what she went through, but I was certain this was worthy of becoming a legend of courage, intelligence and unwavering determination. Seeing her reach out for me, I stretched my left hand out as my body continued trembling.
“Seal the exit!!”
Two giant fireballs headed for both sides of the cliff and created a huge hole when they exploded. The rocks in the valley collapsed and sealed off the Earth Dragons’ exit.
“There’s no retreat route for us! Everybody is watching us! We are the city walls!!”
I watched on as the Earth Dragons charged us. Not a single man under me was showing a hint of fear. The Earth Dragons were facing the virtually invincible vanguard. It felt like all my blood rushed to my head as I faced these creatures which had killed me once before. Everything in view turned dark while I felt so sick I wanted to puke. My entire body was trembling. I felt cold but couldn’t stop sweating. My limbs went numb but I just wanted to slaughter them.
Is this war? Is this war?
I looked at those crazy beasts run rampant, and then I looked at my men, and finally my fiancé. I lifted the flag in my hand up high. The sunlight shined on our flag as it fluttered in the wind. This is the flag that holds the blood, glory and miracles achieved by the military. And this time, it’s my turn!
“For our kingdom, our people, and our queen!”
I watched as the Earth Dragons and my men roared!”
“For our queen!!”
The roars of the elves could still be heard amidst all the quaking and noise. Lucia rushed to the front of the formation. She came down from above and I opened my arms to catch her tightly in my embrace as she descended. She had the scent of the perfume on her as well as the smell of rotten leaves. We tightly hugged each other. She breathed lightly on my shoulder as I rubbed her back. I was so happy and moved I couldn’t speak. Lucia was fine, she wasn’t hurt, and now she was back in my embrace. Tears started to form in my eyes as I felt the warmth and breath of my beloved.
Lucia softly said while on my shoulder: “Your highness! Please give the orders!”
I let go of Lucia, clasped her face in my hands one last time, and lightly wiped the dirt marks on her face. She smiled and fell to the ground from exhaustion, clinging to my leg. I drew blade, the blade of a commander, looked in the direction of the ballistae, and shouted: “Ballistae unit, ready up!!”
I could hear the sound of the chains and wood from the ballistae moving. The Earth Dragons fully appeared in our sights. Their presence exceeded what I’d imagined. There weren’t twenty, but close to fifty of them I think. Perhaps Lucia lured the ones living in the Black Forest as well, but it was fine. Since they’ve come for us, I won’t let Lucia’s efforts be for naught.
They were getting closer!
The ballistae roared as the bows clanked and fired the arrows at the Earth Dragons. The concentrated rain of arrows flew in the direction of the Earth Dragons rushing us. The arrows pierced the Earth Dragons in the front line. Blood, organs and flesh sprayed into the air as if it were raining blood. The air was quickly filled with the scent of blood making it difficult to breathe.
The arrows with the ‘explode’ command exploded as they hit their targets, blowing the dragons into pieces.
The Earth Dragons were blown to smithereens one-by-one. However, the ones in the rear didn’t seem to slow down. They stepped on the exploded flesh and organs like a water-stream flowing over rocks as they continued to rush us. The ballistae came in really handy, and the explosive arrows really did the job. The rain of blood didn’t stop from the moment we fired the ballistae. We were covered in their blood before we even engaged them.
I wiped my face and brushed off god-knows what parts of the Earth Dragons stuck to my face. I closely monitored the Earth Dragons’ silhouettes approaching us. The ballistae were firing away like no tomorrow, but due to us having so few, they were only able to slow down their movements. Even if one exploded, the ones in the rear wouldn’t care and continued their charge.
They’re too close! The ballistae can’t work their magic at this range.
I loudly roared: “Ballistae unit, retreat! Everyone to the rear! Good job! Now men, there’s nothing left to say. For our queen!!”
“For our queen!!”
The elves operating the ballistae jumped down one-by-one and rushed over to join our formation. The centre of the formation made way to allow others through and then they regrouped tightly together. The Earth Dragons had just about crushed all the ballistae. The Earth Dragons covered in blood were disgusting. It’s like they were completely covered in blood and bits of flesh. The men closely watched them rush at us while howling.
Whether we make it through or not will depend on whether we can stand our ground or not!
“Hold your positions! Don’t let them break the formation no matter what!”
The first row of men kept their spears trained on the beasts as they kept an expressionless face. They were neither scared nor glad, just like martyrs. The large beasts came charging as they roared. The men in the front line had the heaviest tanking job. If they lose their footing, then everything we’ve done up till now will be for naught.
They’re close now! I could see their scales flashing. The men in the frontline lowered their heads and pointed their spearheads directly at the incoming enemy.
A strong gust of wind blew in front of our men and the dragons, taking away all the dust smothered with blood, all the stones, and even put out all the flames. The wind blew fiercely towards the hordes of Earth Dragons. The Earth Dragons went into a state of shock and panic like a horse does when frightened. The dragons in the rear continued to race forward and knocked all the dragons at the front away, completely destroying any resemblance of a formation they had. The dragons in the front rows helplessly fell into the spears of our men. The spears pierced them neatly as they fell to the ground miserably.
I lowered my head and looked at Lucia. Lucia clenched her teeth tight and the veins on her forehead looked like they were going to pop. She focused on the spot where the gust of wind was rising, and combined her fire magic with Ji Si. Their combined fire-dragon hit the horde of Earth Dragons and completely wiped out their vanguard.
“Your highness, this is all… I can do…”
Her eyes met my mine. She then smiled slightly and hinted at me not to worry. Then she collapsed to the side.
“Somebody take care of Lucia! Men!!”
This is an opportunity!
I can’t let Lucia’s efforts go to waste!
I walked through the blood, raised the flag, looked at the horde of Earth Dragons who were now in complete disarray, and shouted: “Men! Onward! Charge!!!”
That’s it, that’s it!
Now it’s our turn to charge them!!
“For our queen!!”