Hier kommt das dritte Kapitel der Woche! (It's the third chapter of the week!)

German speakers, was I correct? (apologies in advance if I screwed up xP)

The second battle of Southern was the only time House Fisablen's and the four central duchies' forces faced those of the four houses in a field battle. Near 160 thousand soldiers were pitted against The Northlands. After House Norton unleashed their secret weapon, the catapult, the elite infantrymen of the four central duchies crumbled in the face of the gigantic stone balls falling from the sky. The Nortons unleashed a storm of ballista fire, inflicting more than 60 thousand casualties on the four central duchies' men. They were utterly defeated. Had it not been for House Fisablen's reserve legion that intercepted the pursuing Ragebear Knights, the four central duchies might've been massacred as they ran.

Extract from Chronicles of the Grindia Continent: Records of the Rise of the Bear -- Battles of Southern



Lorist finally let out a breath of relief after the battle's victory was decided. The tide of war in Southern was finally under his control. However, he was quite troubled by his massive casualties. Thirty thousand of their 100 thousand troops were incapacitated, much more than what Lorist initially expected.

The greatest losses were in Loze and Pajik's Tigersoar divisions. They had crushed the three assaults by the barbarian cavalry and even launched a counterattack and defeated House Fisablen's Fifth Frontier. They rushed with what cavalry they had left into the enemy's two flanks of the enemy and managed to break them, building a firm foundation for the victory that followed. However, less than a third of the original 30 thousand spear cavalry troops remained. Not counting the injured, there were more than ten thousand dead.

Up next was the Ragebear Knights. Three thousand silver-ranked knights and six thousand knight attendants fought against the 20 thousand of House Fisablen's reserve legion. Even though they managed to hold them back, they suffered four thousand casualties.

Count Felim's two Pegasus divisions were in charge of aiding the Tigersoar divisions led by Loze and Pajik. While the main force was the Tigersoar soldiers, the Pegasus legion suffered around six thousand casualties as well.

House Kenmays's heavy-armored division was intercepted by the four duchies whilst in pursuit and suffered two thousand casualties.

Lastly, House Shazin's two division, one light cavalry division, and another light infantry division, were deployed on Lorist's order. At first, their pursuit was rather successful. However, when House Fisablen deployed Third Frontier to receive the retreating soldiers, the two were stopped. The two sides fought an intense battle and the two divisions incurred a total of four thousand casualties.

The unit that suffered the least casualties was Firmrock, who had taken charge of defending the main camp. More than three thousand barbarian corpses were littered around the camp, but Firmrock only suffered about five hundred casualties. However, if the dead soldiers defending the towers were included in the count, Firmrock had lost a total of five thousand men.

In total, there were around 30 thousand casualties, half of whom had perished heroically on the battlefield. Lorist sighed as he finally understood what the saying 'ten thousand skeletons for the fame of one general'.

The four houses' forces had suffered 30 thousand casualties during the second battle of Southern, yet House Fisablen and the four duchies couldn't shed a single tear even if they tried to. House Fisablen had lost a whole reserve legion, 20 thousand soldiers who could be considered their strongest force. They had all been completely wiped out on the battlefield. Fifth Frontier was crippled. Only around 16 thousand of the original 40 thousand light cavalry returned, yet all of them had to reinforce Third Frontier and fought fiercely with the light cavalry and infantry divisions of Count Shazin. Their fight ended in a draw with them losing another three or four thousand.

What angered the duke most was the grassland barbarian cavalry. He had deployed all of them under his command, split into three separate units. Around 20 thousand were sent to attack the Nortons' main camp under the purview of Third Frontier. But they had refused to attack after losing a mere three or four thousand. Seeing as those at the camp only intended to stall for time, Duke Fisablen couldn't be bothered to deal with them just yet.

However, he wouldn't forgive the 40 thousand barbarian cavalrymen deployed on both flanks, of whom only 20 thousand managed to return alive. According to the household knights serving with Fifth Frontier's reports, barbarian cavalrymen were defeated because they refused to follow orders. When they ran away during the chaos, they disrupted the legion's longbowmen formation, allowing the Nortons' two spear cavalry divisions to break into their formation and massacre them. Unable to resist the crushing defeat, Fifth Frontier had no choice but to retreat.

With the reserve legion completely wiped out, the 45-thousand-man Fifth Frontier left with only 18 thousand, Third Frontier lost four thousand. Including the 25 thousand casualties among the grassland barbarians, the house had lost a total of 75 thousand men.

Not including the barbarians' losses, it had lost 50 thousand. Despite that, the reserve legion's complete defeat tore at Duke Fisablen's heart. It was the knife the house had spent so long sharpening. Almost everyone was most elite barbarian captives that helped the house suppress the rebellious barbarian tribes across the grasslands, a great contribution to the house. They were all gone just like that. The duke regretted it greatly and wondered why he sent them out in the heat of the moment to help the troops of the four central duchies retreat. Had he known earlier this was how it would turn out, he would've retreated and preserved his forces. In the end, not many of the duchies' infantry managed to escape anyway.

As opposed to the regretful Duke Fisablen, the four dukes had cried their tears dry. They lost 80 thousand troops in one battle! Only around ten thousand managed to make it back to the main camp. Shabaj was the most fortunate. They had around five thousand soldiers left because they were placed in the back of the army. Handra's infantry fared the worst, less than 800 were still alive. They were placed at the vanguard and had to weather not only the fall of the gigantic stone balls but also the storm of ballista bolts. Their casualties were heavy beyond imagination and the ones who remained were only able to survive thanks to the fact that they turned tail to run.

About three thousand Farkel soldiers managed to make it back. Forund had a similar number. All the soldiers who escaped and returned to camp were panicked and traumatized. Many shot out of their slumber noisily at night, haunted by nightmares. The soldiers probably thought they had just experienced the forbidden spell, Meteor Rain. It was a legendary spell of the magic civilization. To them, there was no way so many stone balls could be fired without magic. It was suicide for commoners to fight the legendary magi.

And, in actuality, it was the second battle of Southern that propelled the Norton catapults to fame. Almost every nation developed a great interest in their catapults and steel ballistae. The four central duchies, who attacked the first line of defense managed to capture quite a number of ballistae and they had their worksmiths try to reproduce them, to no avail. The most difficult part of forging them was the steel plates they used for the arms.

There were quite a number of replicas made of the catapults, though. Even though many of the nations didn't get to see the real thing themselves, the mere idea of flinging gigantic rocks through the air let quite a few worksmiths figure out the mechanism. It didn't take long for springald, arm-and-bucket, and lever catapult designs to be produced. Even though they couldn't throw rocks as far or as accurately, and could only fire projectiles of relatively smaller size, they were a fresh new military engine for the armies of Grindia. A symbol of technological advancement.

"Your Grace," Els said as he rushed in, "the scouts report an abnormal situation broke out in the enemy camp. The four duchies' banners are nowhere to be seen."

"What?" Lorist raised his head. The battle had ended less than three days earlier, but the duchies' banners had disappeared completely. What was going on? Did they turn tail and run?

"Send people to search the highway to the duchies immediately. If they really escaped, they must've left some traces," instructed Lorist.

By three in the afternoon, the scouts returned. They brought word of fresh carriage and horse tracks along the highway heading for the duchies. They were presumed to have been made around five at dawn. It was obvious they had given up on fighting the four houses in Southern and retreated with what remained of their men. Currently, all that faced them was House Fisablen and its forces.

"Your Grace, should we send a unit to chase them down?" asked Howard.

Lorist stroked his chin in thought.  He eventually shook his head.

"There's no need to care about the duchies. They're no longer in one piece anyway. Our men are busy cleaning the battlefield right now. We also have to spend quite some time to recover from this battle. I worry we will fall into an enemy trap ourselves if we send our light cavalry after them.  It's best we don't spread ourselves thin."

After pacing around in the tent for a bit, he asked, "Are there any other oddities at the enemy camp apart from the four duchies' banners disappearing?"

"No, Your Grace," Els replied, "The scouts report House Fisablen's forces are forcing the barbarian cavalrymen to dig ditches and set up defensive fortifications. Our men couldn't circle around to the rear of the camp. Frontier was quite thorough with their patrols."

"It seems the old man intends to clash with us even after the four central duchies escaped!" Lorist said with a laugh, "We can resume our original plan for Southern. When our forces finish resting, we'll go hammer House Fisablen's tortoiseshell. Chasing them out of Southern is the first step of completing our plan. Once they're out of Southern we likely won't have any more large battles. When we fix Southern into an impregnable metal wall according to our plan, House Fisablen will be pushed back to the great plains. I really want to see when the old guy will finally submit to me."

With House Fisablen's reserve legion gone, Fifth Frontier neutered, and Third Frontier pushed to their limits -- given that they weren't even fully manned at 30 thousand men -- as well as the duchies' withdrawal, Lorist had the advantage.

As long as House Fisablen could be chased back to the great plains, Southern would fall into the four houses' hands and the trade route with the duchies would be cut off. Salt Merchant Committee could then monopolize the market and mess around with House Fisablen however they wished. No matter how much gold they managed to mine, it would inevitably fall into the four houses' hands.

However, Lorist still had to remain patient for now. There was much to do after the battle. There were more than 30 thousand casualties on the duchies' side, another 30 thousand plus captured. In all, the duchy lost 70 thousand elite infantrymen. This was why Lorist didn't care about the duchies' escapees. They were just troops in shambles on which he didn't have to keep an eye.

Apart from the duchy captives, there were also another eight thousand plus barbarian captives. Lorist sent them all to Count Felim for his mines without a second thought. As for the 30 thousand captive foot soldiers and ten thousand plus injured captives, Lorist put them in Baron Camorra's care. They were young, strong laborers that could contribute much to the repair of the main highway between Winston and Southern. As for the injured captives, they were given treatment and would be released in three years after their recovery.

On the 28th day of the 7th month of Year 1778, the third battle of Southern began. However, this time, it was started by the 70 thousand soldiers of the four houses. They faced 50 thousand Fisablen troops and 40 thousand barbarian cavalrymen. Even though the numbers of Duke Fisablen's men exceeded those of Lorist, the latter grasped the initiative and the enemy could only react passively.

Lorist proudly snorted, "What I have is time. I can take everything as slowly as I wish."

The snort obviously sounded rather horrid, as evidenced by Howard, who clasped his ears tight after hearing the annoying sound. However, the other guards didn't notice what Howard did as they watched the gigantic stone balls fall from the sky on the enemy's defensive formations. Thunderous sounds rang out non-stop, accompanied by showers of dust.

Thunderbolt Brigade, under Ovidis's command, had smashed all that obstructed them. Potterfang and the soldiers of Firmrock, together with Suleimos and the heavy-armored troops of House Kenmays, focused their efforts on making makeshift bridges with the ditch-filling carts. As for the forces of House Fisablen, their efforts of countering the attack were straight up laughable. Malek's carroballista unit waited hungrily for prey. Any of the Fisablen soldiers who fought back were either crushed by the falling stone balls or skewered by incoming ballista bolts.

Lorist didn't mind spending a few days taking down the defensive formations set up by Duke Fisablen. However, the duke wasn't willing to stay and keep on playing. He pulled his army back during the third night. When Lorist realized he had done so noon the next day and wanted to give chase, the last few knights who remained at the camp set it on fire. The great flames prevented the four houses from giving chase until the fire was put out three days later. But by then, the camp was already a burnt husk and Duke Fisablen long gone.

"Old fellow, you won't be able to run," said Lorist hatefully.