25 Ch-24 The Strange Encounter
"Ain't in no hell do I like to see you, Pena. You and me both know that, so don't say idiotic stuffs like 'How do you do'? Instead, tell me what the f*ck are you doing here? Wasn't your job to protect the Castle?!" asked Sir Peder with a hint of anger and competition in his voice.
Pena was one of the oldest Captains of Cainhorn army, right after Peder and also the next in hierarchy. He was often called upon to take the charge of the Castle defenses whenever Julian or Sir Peder was absent of duties. He was incharge of the outer wall defenses before The Disaster but after Hendrickson's forces took over, he was transferred back to the Castle defenses and was put on hold. He has a hot-blooded approach and is very popular with the forces, especially the cavalry, much more than Sir Peder. Along with that, he has a deep feud with Sir Peder on who's the best Captain.
Pena jabbed Peder and said in a cocky tone, "C'mon man, tell me that you're happy to see me. After all, you would've lost a bunch load of your soldiers if you had fought head-to-head and perhaps … disappointed Lord Felixyon upon the report, won't you. So, lets make a deal. You simply write in the report that I, the Great Pena, saved your a*s from those mindless idiots for enemies in return … for this help." He shrugged his shoulders heavily.
"F*ck off!!" barked Sir Peder at him. he was practically snarling like a dog at him. Right then, Aslak stepped forward and took the command of the conversation.
"Enough with these small talks, Sirs. Now, can we please move onto the bigger picture here? First, I want to why and who ordered you to come here?"
Sir Pena gave a small bow to Aslak and replied, "Milord, it was Lord General Loann who ordered me to support your infantry section before charging into the docks. He also asked me to help you with any and all help you may need, Sir!"
Aslak nodded and asked, "Anything else, Sir?" Sir Pena shook his head.
"Well then," said Aslak and asked Sir Pena, "Sir, so, can you please tell me what you think about this situation?" he pointed at the garrison.
Sir Pena clicked his tongue and replied, "I think it's best to charge at them and slaughter. Those traitorous bastards deserve no mercy." Sir Pena didn't hide his hot-blooded attitude at all. Aslak rolled his eyes and said,"Yes, and how do you suppose we do that? Let the infantry get close to the blockade and manually remove the sacks. That's suicide!"
But Sir Pena didn't care at all. He shrugged his shoulders and replied, "Sir, my responsibility is the cavalry and cavalry men, not the infantry. Frankly, I don't care what happens to them."
"Tsk!" Aslak clicked his tongue and replied, "Well, frankly, I'm in charge of them, Sir. And I don't want my men to die meaninglessly to our own people. Move! You guys are dumber than asses!!"
Aslak soon lost his calm over him and cried out angrily. He shoved Sir Pena away and walked infront. The cavalry, which was listening secretly to the conversation, silently gave way to Aslak. Sir Pena on the other hand, seemed unfazed. He titled his head and asked Sir Peder, "Do you think that I made a mistake, Peder?"
Peder almost smiled in satisfaction and replied with a funny tone, "Yea. A big one, my friend. I hope Aslak don't give a bad report about you to Felix. I sincerely hope to see you in your post. Haha!!" he laughed as he walked towards Aslak.
Sir Pena frowned in confusion and muttered, "What the hell…."
Aslak walked into the frontline of the battlefield and stood attentively right in the middle of hundreds of corpses. He grimaced at the face of the torn off body parts and dead men but only for a minute. Soon, he moved his vision away from the dead men towards the ramparts of the barracks, where now hundreds of soldiers were holding down a loaded arrow. Aimed right at Aslak and the cavalry. He frowned as he saw that most of the soldiers were conscripts from Cainshire.
Aslak heaved heavily and then cried out in the loudest voice, "Where the hell is your Commander!!!!!"
Right as he said, all of his archers from his archery division stepped forward and took aim at the garrisoned troop. He waited patiently for a few minutes but no one replied. It was apparent that there were no commanders and the soldiers were simply following the orders given in the books and Aslak knew it. He only wanted one of them to step out and surrender for god's sake.
He again heaved down and shouted, "Show yourself, you puny idiotic Commander!!!!"
This time, more murmurs erupted among the ranks of the defenders, but still there was no reply. Aslak frowned for a moment. In reality, he could go on forever, playing such mind games with people, taunting and insulting them until their minds gave up, but right now he was tight on time. Anger gripped him and he shouted at the garrison.
"SHOW YOURSELF OR ELSEI WILL SLAUGHTER EVERYONE INSIDE IN 3… 2… 1—"
All of a sudden, a young man dressed as a Knight stepped out and stood heroically at the forefront. He had a long pole in his hand with a white cloth wrapped around it. It looked like he was about to surrender.
Aslak's heart fluttered in joy for the first few seconds when he saw the white flag but then it was dashed by what the young Knight said.
He shouted in a loud voice, "Sir Aslak, I'm a humble Knight of the Burkaneer regiment and I would like to surrender on the behalf of all my fellow soldiers. But before I do, you need to make some promises on your Knighthood. Are you ready?"
"Sigh…" Aslak sighed. He had already guessed that something like this would happen. Though, according to the books and stories, there's always lies and deceit hidden underneath this fart, but what does it matter to throw some good words before letting someone die. Aslak smiled brightly against the rising sun and shouted back, "Very well, what are your conditions?"
"Thank you, sire. My conditions are very simple. Please let the rest of the soldiers of my Burkaneer Regiment serve under Lady Faye. We have nothing else to bargain for, no Gold, no information or anything, other than our life and so, we would like to … like to … disown our allegiance to Lord Hendrickson. Is this enough?!" he replied back with a heavy tone. It was apparent that disowning his knighthood wasn't easy to him.
Aslak sighed and smiled widely. "VERY WELL, SIR. I, ON MY HONOR OF A KNIGHT, PLEDGE AN OATH TO LET YOUR MEN WALK OUT UNHARMED. NOW CAN YOU PLEASE REMOVE THIS BLOCKADE SO THAT WE CAN COME TO AGGREMENT." Aslak lied to him because he still hasn't completed his Knighthood training because one needed to be 16 years old to pass it and even though, he looked a lot like a 16-year-old, he wasn't one.
The Knight, who should've agreed immediately, didn't reply. He thought to himself for a moment and then replied back, "OF COURSE SIR, BUT WE NEED A GUARANTEE. WE WANT TO HOLD YOU AS CAPTIVE UNTILL ALL OF OUR WOUNDED ARE EVACUATED AND PROPERLY TENDED TO. CAN WE AGREE TO THIS?"
Curses and shouts of 'foulplay' erupted from Sir Pena's cavalry but Aslak had a wide smile on his face. Finally, there was someone who wasn't a complete idiot in times of war. He gave a thumbs up and shouted back, "A'RIGHT. HAVE YOUR WAY GENTLEMAN. I'M ALL YOURS!!"
Aslak proudly puffed his chest up and headed towards the barrack with his hands akimbo. He wasn't a single bit scared about the fact that he was going into an enemy stronghold teeming with enemies as a captive. But on the other hand, Sir Peder and Sir Pena, were shocked and scared by this sudden agreement of goodwill. They immediately stopped Aslak as they though it to be the worst possible idea.
"Sire, you mustn't go there! Its dangerous!" cried Sir Peder urgently.
"Yes, sire. I know that over here, you're the head Commander, but please, consider our old experience and give us some face by not going in there. Its fraught with danger and humans are full of lies. We don't care what happens to those conscripts in there, but we do care about you. If something happens to you, Lord Felixyon will place our heads on a pike for display."
"Yes sire, so, please reconsider. We can send anyone else for the bargain, but not you. Even I can go but sire, not you!!" Pleaded Sir Peder.
"Hahaha!!" but all these pleading was only able to bring out a belly full of laughter from Aslak. Aslak laughed to his heart's content and patted both of their pauldrons. "My oh my, both of you old sirs are making me laugh to my doom. Don't worry, Sir Peder and Sir Pena, nothing will happen to me. I appreciate your concern about my welfare, but you're wrong about a few things. 1. Humans lie all the time, true, but not all humans. There are people who will break and speak out the truth in dire circumstances and events. And as for knights, they are more likely to tell the truth and surrender when they lose. 2. I know people when I talk to them, sirs. This might sound rude, but I think I can trust him. Not to mention, I've my own archery and skills to sneak out, even slaughter them, if I want to. You do not need to worry. 3. Felix never gave me the title of head Commander. You're your own Commanders and therefore, this is my own decision to garner goodwill and reduce casualties. And oh! Remember, when the wounded comes, DO NOT maltreat them. I do not want heedless casualties, whether they are Hendrickson's soldiers or conscripts, and remember what Felix said, 'Today's enemies are tomorrow's allies' 4. He will not blame you for what I do. 5. Seriously, you guys are lacking a lot in war experience. Grow up a little and read a few books. Goddammit!!"
With the last word, a curse, Aslak marched unafraid towards the barracks. As soon as he reached the barracks gates, small shouts rung out from within. He waited outside for a few moments and then a few boxes, crates and sacks were pulled away to make a way. From there, the very same Knight who was negotiating with Aslak walked out infront of him. But right after walking out, the first thing he did wasn't address Aslak, instead, he beckoned to his men inside and soon, lines after lines of wounded soldiers, with two people supporting them, walked out and marched slowly towards the other end.
Aslak looked astonished at the long procession of wounded soldiers and felt a little relieved. But even then, a small ounce of doubt remained that these wounded soldiers might be actors but it was soon dismissed, as many had severed legs and arms. At the end of the line, long lines of women and girls also marched out. They were Cainshiren, no doubt, but from their ragged conditions and bruised faces, it was evident that they were **** victims.
Anger flushed into Aslak's heart but he didn't let it cloud his decision. After most of the wounded had evacuated, only then did theKnight address him by a simple knightly greeting.
"Good morning, sire. I thank you for your good grace and I apologize for the lie I told." He cried through his visor. Aslak's heart fluttered at the word 'lie' but he asked without a hint of changing emotions, "What lie?"
"Sir, about these women. I knew that you and your other … commanders would be furious if I said that we had women as hostage, so I lied. I'm really sorry for it." he bowed his head slightly, in a knightly gesture of shame. Aslak looked amazed at his knightly gesture for a moment and then laughed out loudly, "Absolutely, my friend. I bet my other commanders are seriously pissed with your right now!!" he pointed behind him. The Knight looked where Aslak was pointing and like he said, there were two old men looking at them with stares full of hatred and anger.
"… Uh-oh…." Cried the Knight. Aslak looked amused at him for a second before patting his pauldrons. "Don't worry my friend, as long as I'm here, no one can touch you. C'mon, lets go in and have a talk. Its chilly out in the open for so long."
"…. As you wish, sire."
Both of them entered the barracks through the small opening simultaneously.
Right when Aslak entered the barrack, he was surprised by the scene infront of him. He saw dozens of pikemen pointing their spears at him and staring at him viciously. Along with them, there were hundreds of archers aiming at him with their bows drawn. If Aslak didn't saw the numbers of archers dwindling previously from the ramparts of the barracks, he would've felt cheated. That everything was a lie. But thankfully, it was not.
The new Knight walked infront of Aslak and stood broadly towards his own men and said in a warm tone, "Guys, what the hell are you doing??!"
"Move aside Keizer," suddenly a feminine voice rang out as a girl of about 11 walked infront. She was the same age as Aslak but was far taller than he was. She had fair skin, big bright eyes, thick lips and long legs. Extremely long legs. She wore a standard soldier's uniform and wore a long sabre on her waist. She had a haughty look on her face but it was clearly visible that she was as scared as aneleven year old should be. But what was most amazing was the fact that she was Cainshiren and Aslak knew her. She was Lilianna, one of Aslak and Felixyon's young friends.
Aslak frowned for a moment and then orderedthe Knight, "Open your helm, friend. Helms aren't nice when having conversations." He made it sound like a normal sentence, but his tone put it way off course. The Knight stared at Aslak for a moment before sighing and replying, "… If that's what it's needed to gain your trust, sire."
"Don't!!" warned Lilianna but the Knight disobeyed her. He placed his hands on his helms and methodically opened all its locks and pulled it out. Aslak wasn't surprised at all by the face he saw. A dark face with bright topaz eyes and thin lips, a signature of the southern people. People belonging to Hendrickson's territory. He had long flowing hair tied in a small pony tail, which was decorated quite fashionably by small glitters and beads, clearly a work of art of a woman. He had a broad neck and a warm smile on his face. He looked like a real Knight, his age around twenties, something.
Aslak smiled in relief, but the next moment his hand darted towards his sword and …
"My oh my!" cried Aslak coldly as a cold grin flashed across his face. His sword, which was a long straight steel blade with a decorative hand guard, a hybrid of a falchion and fencing sword, swooped in like a claw and only stopped at about 2 inches off the Knight's neck.
The Knight, Keizer was shocked by the sudden change of atmosphere and stood like a statue but his soldiers couldn't, especially the girl Lilianna.
"No!!" she cried and dashed towards Aslak and Keizer, unaware of the arrows which had already left their strings.
Twang! Twang! Twang!Twang!Twang!Twang!Twang!Twang!Twang!!
A rain of arrows darted towards Aslak, the Knight Keizer and Lilianna and in a jiffy, Keizer's face of warmth turned grave and he jumped towards Lilianna.
"No!!" he screamed in desperation but it was dissolved in another shout.
Everyone standing was shaken by this shout and the shockwave knocked over all the arrows. Not only that, it also knocked back the frontline of pikemen back onto their fellow soldiers and turned the entire formation into mush.
"Hey, you idiot…"
"Get off me…"
Silent screams and curses rung out among the soldiers but it was soon dimmed by the strange whistling of cold wind.
Everyone inevitably turned towards Aslak, the source, and was shocked by the change. The good ol' Aslak had changed completely into a cold demon as cold wisp of energy and miasma erupted out from pockets and cracks of his armors and froze the area around him.
It was the Lord's Aura.
And even though, these illiterate soldiers didn't know what it was, fear had gripped their hearts. Even Keizer and Lilianna had frozen in their tracks and were lying on the ground one on top of the other.
To them,Aslak's white and silvery armor was automatically turning into a shade of dark blue and his steel cap-like helm darkened like the night. Only his eyes were now visible, which also had a dangerous blue hue to them.
Keizer gulped down nervously once but then stood up with resolution. He drew out his long sword and pointed it at Aslak and said in a shaky tone, "S-sire, I-I only want t-to discuss p-peace talks with you. I-I mean n-no harm to you. P-please forgive me and my soldiers for the disrespect."
Aslak's face warped considerably and a disgusted expression surfaced out. He said in an angry tone, "I'm not angry. I … simply don't understand how can Cainshirens like a scumbag like you!!"
"…What?" gawked Lilianna, who was still lying on the ground, frozen yet in astonishment and shock. So, were the other conscript and Keizer.
But Aslak seemed as if he had a mental breakdown. He turned around and punched the 2-meter-high stack of crates and sacks and channeling most of his Battle Qi into wind energy and blowing all of them away. He pointed outward and screamed in a commanding tone, "All of you!! MARCH OUT!!!"
They simply gawked at him for the first few moments but then Keizer stepped forward hurriedly and commanded his soldiers out.
"All of you organize!! Column formation, five in a row. March out!!" he shouted and immediately all the soldiers scrambled into a neat column and marched out uniformly. All the leaving soldiers looked at Aslak strangely but all they were rewarded with was a cold stare of Killing Intent.
Finally, when all the soldiers had marched out, Aslak hid himself behind the walls of the barracks and started kicking the ground like a madman.
"Yes! Yes! Finally! The Lord's Aura!! How do you feel that, Felix!!! You got the aura when you were Rank 9 but I got it in Rank 7!! Do you feel the difference!! Hahahaha… huhuhu…" suddenly Aslak's cry of joy turned into tears and sadness as he sobbed miserably, "How can this be?!!! How can Lilianna fall for such a lowly guy like him!! Dammit! After wasting six whole months of my allowances on her, 30 plates of shrimps and lobsters on her, she wastes me like this …. Wahaha!! Damn you, Felix!! You sent me here intentionally, didn't you!!You knew all this!! AARGH!!!"