Chapter 77 — Whiterun Battle Formation
Three days after mobilization, the army finally left the borders of Whiterun and entered the wilderness. The army scouts and adventurers scattered around the main army brought back plenty of intel on the surroundings. A while back, monsters had attacked merchant squads traversing past this region and got their hands on a great deal of the merchants' goods and valuables. After several battles, the ownership of those items changed hands once again. Of course, the adventurers and soldiers had to hand them over to the city after slaying the monsters. Soran also killed some monsters, and his reserve of Slaughter EXP once again returned to 3000. However, he earned pretty much nothing in terms of loot and money.
"There's a stockaded village ahead." Soran looked at the familiar path, and said to Yarse beside him, "I was here when the village got raided by lizardmen. They defended against the first attack, but I'm not sure if they moved away after that. It's probably a lizardman settlement by now though."
If the villagers had ultimately decided to stay, Soran was almost sure they would all be dead by now. He signaled Yarse, and the two crouched as they walked toward the river near the stockaded village. Lizardmen liked places with water sources nearby, which was one of the reasons they targeted the village in the first place. When they could barely see the wooden fences in the distance, Yarse took out a cylinder and placed it in front of his eye.
Soran stopped and waited for Yarse.
"Looks like it's already occupied by lizardmen," Yarse said while handing the monocular over to Soran. He then said nonchalantly, "This is just a little plaything made with alchemy. Only 10 Gold Derahls."
Glass was not all that rare, but pure glass which was transparent was troublesome and costly to produce. Binoculars and monoculars were alchemic products, with some having enchantments and runes on them. A simple one like Yarse's was relatively cheap, but those with special effects could cost up to hundreds of Gold Derahls.
Soran received the monocular and looked at the village. He could see lizardmen standing watch on the watchtowers, and most of the houses inside the walls had already been burnt down. The lizardmen had destroyed the houses and built simple huts instead.
"There's a good handful of them." Soran returned the monocular to Yarse and said in a low voice, "I don't think we can handle that many lizardmen. Let's go back and hand over the intel to the army."
Yarse nodded in agreement, then stowed his monocular away. Adventurers would only engage in a fight if they believed their chances of winning were over fifty percent. A veteran like Yarse would not challenge missions beyond his capabilities; everyone had only one life after all. Even if they won the battle, it was no different from a loss if they suffered from severe injuries and became disabled. Taking high risks too often would not end well, and those who did so would eventually have to pay for their actions. Losing a limb was too costly, and more often than not adventurers would be unable to afford the fees for treatment.
The two quickly returned to the army camp and reported their findings. Soon, a brawny man who seemed to be an officer came to meet them. He wore full platemail armor and was equipped with a steel shield and gauntlets, leather gloves, a refined longsword, and a short crossbow. Behind him stood fifty soldiers, all belonging to the Whiterun army. They all wore leather armor with metal plating and had shortswords, metal shields, and light crossbows. Whiterun did not have a lot of archers, but almost every soldier knew how to use a crossbow, meaning light infantry could take on the role of arbalists when necessary. Apart from the soldiers, a wizard dressed in a gray robe also came along. Although Soran could not tell his level, he seemed to be above Grade 2.
"Whiterun Guard Corps 37th Infantry Division, Captain Hanks here." The bearded man nodded at Soran and said, "The higher ups sent me to clear out the lizardmen."
Due to frequent battles, the armies of this world would almost never turn complacent. Perhaps they may become corrupted, with some soldiers turning to the evil alignment, but their combat strength would still remain.
Hanks was a decisive person. After gathering his men, he immediately asked Soran’s group to lead the way. Some people considered warriors as "proper warriors" only after they had reached Grade 3, and Hanks only seemed to be a Grade 2 warrior to Soran. However, his equipment was of much higher quality than adventurers’. Although they were not Rare-grade items, at the very least, the platemail armor he was wearing was still better than poor-quality Rare-grade equipment.
After an hour or two, the team was now near the occupied stockaded village. Hanks let his men rest for a while, then asked Soran and Yarse, "Can you two take out the sentinels?"
Yarse and Soran nodded, then crept their way toward the two flanks separately.
The ranger took out his longbow and made a hand sign to the right before sneakily jumping into a tree. As longbows had great range, Yarse was responsible for taking out the sentinels on the watchtowers. Soran, on the other hand, dissolved into the shadows with his enhanced crossbow in hand. His duty was to take out the two guards near the main entrance.
Meanwhile, the soldiers were still hiding quietly in the forest several hundred meters away from the village.
Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh!
The sound of projectiles whistling through air reached their ears. Yarse sniped the sentinels standing near the alarms, while Soran killed the guards at the main entrance.
After seeing the lizardmen drop from the watchtowers, Hanks immediately donned his helmet and ordered his men to move out. "Wizard, break the door!"
The wizard was apparently dissatisfied with the way Hanks ordered him, but he still quickly chanted a spell, and a half-ton stone golem appeared out of thin air. The ground shook every time the golem took a step. The Whiterun soldiers spread out, with their shields lifted upfront, then charged at the village. When they were a hundred and fifty meters away from the front gate, they shifted their shields to cover their upper torsos and took out their light crossbows.
The interior of the village went into an uproar after the lizardmen realized they were being attacked. Archers immediately climbed onto the watchtowers and began firing away at the soldiers.
Ting! Ting! Ting!
A dozen arrows flew toward the Whiterun soldiers, but they continued to press forward. Their shields effectively protected them against the projectiles, causing many of them to skitter or bounce off their shields.
The stone golem could not even be bothered with protecting itself against such puny attacks. It walked directly to the front gate and began slamming it with its fists. In just under a minute, the stone golem shattered the wooden gate.
"Take battle formations!" Hanks lifted his shield, slowed down, and shouted, "Whiterun Tactic!"
The fifty-man team immediately split into groups of five, each with three standing in front and two standing in the rear. The vanguard unsheathed their shortswords and charged with their shields in front, and the others followed while reloading and firing their crossbows repeatedly. Hanks lifted his shield up high and shouted a war cry, then joined his men in their charge. Even though he was wearing full platemail armor, his speed was still close to that of hundred-meter-sprinters back on Earth. He ran straight through the entrance, slamming into a lizardman warrior with his shield and sending it flying.
The wizard stayed back, with no intention of engaging in battle; even the golem stopped moving after destroying the gate.
The Whiterun soldiers quickly took over the main gate. After slaying another three lizardmen, Hanks returned to his men and yelled, "Regroup!"
The soldiers formed a square formation, with those standing on the outermost layer defending the formation with their shields and swords, while those in the middle fired their crossbows. They maintained the formation regardless of what happened. They did not rashly pursue the retreating enemies, but instead slowly moved forward while slaughtering any lizardmen they came across. Whenever anyone got hurt, the soldiers would immediately pull their injured comrade to the rear of the formation. Even Hanks got hit by a few arrows, but they were ineffective against his armor. He returned fire with his crossbow, then guarded his head with his shield.
After overcoming their initial panic, the lizardman warriors began to gather. Against the armored soldiers, archers were relatively useless and could not deal much damage. As such, the lizardmen decided to charge and engage in close-quarters combat.
"Defensive formation!" Hanks shifted his stance and lifted his shield, then roared, "Charge! Shield bash!"
The soldiers regrouped to form a horizontal row. They lowered their crossbows and lifted their shields and stood still. When the charging lizardmen were only thirty meters away, they responded by roaring together and rushed at the monsters. They slammed right into the lizardmen with their shields, bashing them.
The sounds of collisions and groans resounded throughout the village. The soldiers on the flanks began to narrow the formation, forming rows of ten. They slowly pushed forward while blocking attacks with their shields and retaliating with their shortswords. Almost like harvested wheat, the lizardman warriors dropped to the ground one after another. However, the damage dealt was insufficient to end their lives. As such, the soldiers in back rows dealt the final strike on the barely surviving lizardmen one by one.
Like a sturdy wall, the soldiers repelled the waves of attacks by the lizardmen one after another. There were dozens of lizardman corpses on the ground, but the fifty-man formation was still going strong. None of them panicked, and they marched on at a steady pace. They did not retreat when the lizardmen attacked, nor did they speed up to pursue the monsters when they fled. They simply closed in on the lizardmen, slowly forcing the monsters into a corner.
Yarse met up with Soran on the flanks. The ranger unsheathed his sword and looked around. "The Whiterun guards started training to use shields in combination with shortswords when they were in the militia. This degree of attack is not enough to break their formation. Let's sneak in from the sides and kill the lizardmen's leader."
They could hear the soldiers roar together. They stopped every thirty steps, making their advance slow, but that was enough to corner the lizardmen. Even with just one-third the numbers, they were forcing their enemies back. Any lizardmen that attempted to attack them were either stabbed or shot to death. After every wave of attacks, there would be a dozen more lizardman corpses on the ground, while the soldiers remained unfazed.
With the number of archers steadily decreasing, the pressure on the light infantry acting as arbalists was almost non-existent. They could freely fire away at the monsters, further lowering their numbers.
Perhaps unable to stand the pressure anymore, a lizardman warrior who seemed to be stronger than the others roared, then led ten of its brethren and attacked from the flanks. It attempted to attack from the side of the formation where defenses were weaker.
Hanks yelled in response, "Throwing axes!"
He took out a short axe, only twenty centimeters long, from his back, spun it in his hand, then threw it to the front. Within the square formation, twenty soldiers who seemed to be especially well-trained all took out axes from their backs and threw them on Hanks' signal.
Half of the charging lizardmen dropped dead on the ground. The one leading the charge was the first to fall, with five axes embedded in its body. Other lizardmen tried to jump into the center of the formation, but they were dead by the time they reached the ground.
The monsters’ morale finally plummeted to the point that they completely lost their will to fight. They started to flee out of fear.
From the moment the soldiers breached the gate till the end of the battle, not fifteen minutes had passed. The Whiterun soldiers only marched five hundred steps inside the village, but it was enough to kill, or more precisely, slaughter all the hundred or so lizardmen. Only seven soldiers were lightly injured in the battle, most of them struck by arrows.
It was a complete massacre—a merciless slaughter by a well-trained army against a mob of monsters.
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