Translator, Editor and Proofread: theunfetteredsalmon
The Pharoah was furious at the news of losing the supplies. He ordered the rear of the Horus legion to turn around. At the same time, the Isis legion surrounded and destroyed the remnants of the ambushers in the desert. At that moment, the Hittite army took the initiative to attack from the north. King Lucier was not in the army. The Head turned out to be none other than Golier. He led the combined forces of the Enlil and Anu brigades!
The ambush of the Seth legion was the masterpiece of the surprise attack team trained in the Anu brigade. The Pharoah made mistakes in both his command and intelligence judgments. He thought he was using the strength of two and a half legions to attack his enemies, but instead, he found himself stuck in a tight spot, attacked and dispersed by two enemy elite brigades. Only the Horus legion was able to fight the enemy army whilst the Isis legion was busy gathering the remnants of the Seth legion.
The Horus legion was very effective in fighting, but they had subjected themselves to fatigue from long-distance travelling and raiding while the other two legions remained fairly idle. The battle lasted three days and three nights on the border between the desert and the grassland. The elite Horus troops launched a series of charges and attempts to break through the enemy’s defence line, but all to no avail. Instead, the counter-charges under the command of Golier collapsed the Horus troops’ frontline.
In the very first battle of this war, the Pharoah was defeated.
The Horus legion had to retreat and regather itself, but Golier did not give the Pharoah a chance to recover. He commanded the two brigades under him to encircle the elite Ejyptian legion in an attempt to wipe the enemy out. By this time, the situation of the battle had reversed entirely. The troops under the Pharoah’s command were exhausted and had little to no energy to fight back. Fortunately for them, the Isis legion arrived in time as backup and engaged in a fierce encounter with the forthcoming Hittite army.
It was a scuffle that lasted only a full day, but the scene was tragic. The casualties on both sides surpassed that of the previous battle. The Ejyptian army was undermined, just barely holding its ground, but the heavy troops in the Isis legion fell behind and were defeated by the encroaching Hittites.
When the raid failed and the battle officially began, the Pharoah’s army found itself in a difficult position. With only exhausted troops under his command, the Pharoah faced two elite enemy brigades. Fighting on would almost certainly ensure pyrrhic losses while retreating would undermine the weight of Ejypt, not to mention it was difficult to lead troops across the Syah desert.
The Hittite army did not form a tight encirclement, but they stood in tight positions to guard the water source right outside the desert. They constantly launched skirmishes and small engagements to tire out the enemy. They seemed to be waiting for the Pharoah to withdraw. Once the exhausted troops turned and retreated into the desert, with low morale, lack of food and resources, not to mention the rear attacks from the Hittites should the Ejyptians turn and run, the Ejyptians would collapse or perhaps even perish altogether.
The Ejyptian army did not sit still, so they made a desperate attempt at fending off their enemies. They moved forward to occupy a spot that had a supply of freshwater. At that time, the Hittite army strategically withdrew to create a gap, and just when the Ejyptians set up camp to find space to breathe, the Hittites launched yet another counter-attack from three directions, pushing the Ejyptian army back behind the border of the desert.
After several back-and-forths, the Ejyptian army had suffered heavy losses and consumed most of its remaining resources. It no longer had the ability to be offensive. Now, the remnants of the army could do nothing but await rescue, which could come in two different directions. The first was from the reinforcements of local organisation. After the destruction of the Seth legion, Urhiya protected Rod Drick on their escape. With the remnants and generals of the Seth legion and the reserve troops that awaited emergency deployment in Cape, perhaps they could attempt a rescue.
However, the situation of the Pharoah’s army was critical. The front command advised the Pharoah to consider escaping alone under the protection of the supreme mages. However, such an action would cause the battle to be a complete defeat and greatly damage the Pharoah’s glory. The army that would be abandoned in the desert would more than vanish. There would be no reconciliation.
The closest reinforcement, on the other hand, was the An-Ra legion, which had not yet been put in combat and had troops and staff in pristine condition. The Pharoah then ordered the An-Ra legion to move eastward to reinforce the main army, even if only to attract the attention of the Hittites to cover for the withdrawal of the Pharoah. It was not easy to send such an order three hundred miles across the desert. Any roads had been cut off by the Hittite army a long time ago, so only mages would be able to fly out and deliver anything at great risk.
The Pharoah sent five shuttles. The first four were to cover and distract enemy mages and perform interception. Cezane, the supreme mage, with the shuttle and Vikar the supreme warrior, were the main force to break through the enemy lines. The two men did not fail the Pharoah’s entrustment. They managed to bust out of the heavy blockade and siege, bringing the order to the legion of An-Ra.
When the warrior Vikar finished his story, Amon and Idu comforted him with good rest and recuperation, ensuring him that the An-Ra legion would do its utmost to save the Pharoah from danger. Vikar fell back asleep not only because he was injured, but because Idu performed magic to make him tired. Cezane’s body and bones were clearly not as strong as the warrior’s as he was still asleep.
When they left the tent, Amon and Idu moved to a secluded place to discuss quietly. “It’s not too late,” Amon said. “If you want to fly to explore, I would suggest we take advantage of the night to stake out the enemy’s positions.”
Idu shook his head in disagreement. He replied, “In the starry night, any alert supreme mage would be more vigilant. In fact, we could find ourselves even more exposed. We cannot move just because the main army tells us to move. We must ready the legion for marching. We shall wait until later when the sun is high up in the sky with dazzling sunshine. Perhaps this will disrupt detection magic that would certainly be performed by the enemy mages. On top of that, it would be more suitable for flying and scouting. If the clouds are at a low altitude, even better.”
Amon asked again, “How many flight-capable artefacts were distributed to the army?”
Idu sighed. “The Wind Shuttle is the standard flight artefact. It’s very fast and relatively manoeuvrable. However, it is extremely expensive, as most magic artefacts are. The An-Ra legion was equipped with five shuttles, all of which are the property of the Empire and not the belongings of our mages.”
Amon thought for a moment before continuing, “Actually, we have seven shuttles now. Cezane brought one on his arrival and I shot another out of the sky.”
George grinned. “Cezane’s shuttle will certainly be returned to him later, but we can borrow it. The shuttle you shot would be the spoils of the Head of the legion, so you could keep it as your own without violating any rules or laws. Frankly, it’s no use having more shuttles. I can count only five of our mages who can control a shuttle. Our amount of masters at magic is far less than that of the Horus or Isis legions.”
Unbeknownst to him, Idu forgot to count Amon and Metatro as well. Amon shot down two men with one arrow in the daytime. They were not killed by the arrow, but with the height they were flying at, they fell to their deaths.
The enemy warrior on the shuttle was fine while the mage was a sixth-level mage who was maintaining his power to ensure the steadiness of the flight. Nevertheless, the power of the arrow that struck them was so enormous that it had a continuous burst of energy like rapid tidal waves. The shock of the tremor that followed was much stronger than the effect of the initial impact.
The mage was caught off guard. He lost control of the shuttle, resulting in him and the warrior falling to their deaths. Their staff, weapons and the shuttle were, of course, Amon’s spoils of war. The shuttle was certainly damaged, but only slightly and was easily repaired in Amon’s hands. It was a much simpler and unexpected gain than collecting materials to build it from scratch.
Amon did not elaborate. He wondered aloud to Idu, “Could I have another shuttle for the time being? It may prove useful for a rainy day.”
Even after a second awakening of power, it was difficult for a supreme warrior to master the most profound supreme magic of flying as well as proficiency in wind magic, not to mention the simultaneous use of both. It was almost impossible to control the Wind Shuttle. But Idu deigned to ask no further questions, so he gave Amon a shuttle.
Amon returned to his abode with two shuttles in hand. Metatro was standing guard outside the camp with his subordinates. Amon asked, “My cat, are you back?”
Metatro answered, “Lord Schrodinger arrived not too long ago and went straight into its dwelling.”
Amon actually took the cat along with him in the legion. The cat’s food and drink were being handled by the Head of the legion every single day while it rested and slept in Amon’s personal tent. Schrodinger’s shelf was so big that it was clear how much Amon doted on the cat. The guards and staff jokingly called the cat ‘Lord Schrodinger’, which was also a form of flattery. Over time, the joking turned into a habit, so much so that even Metatro took to calling Schrodinger a lord.
When the incident happened, Schrodinger slipped out of the tent. Amon was too busy dealing with legion-related matters. It was only when he learned that Schrodinger had returned that he was relieved. When he entered his tent, he saw Schrodinger crouching on the seat of the Head of the legion, almost looking like it was smirking. Amon smiled and pulled out cooking utensils as he always did like a magic trick, proceeding to make Schrodinger a pot of delicious broth, since the cat had not eaten anything since daytime.
Schrodinger the cat sat on the seat that belonged to the Head while being served and eating a big meal. It stretched its claws and scratched the table before him, meowing at Amon. The two had been together longer than Amon had with anyone else since the Great Flood. Even though Schrodinger could not speak, Amon could guess what the cat wanted just by looking at its face. He immediately brought a large tray of sand and put it before Schrodinger before asking, “You left the tent, did you find anything? Is there anything you’d like to tell me?”
A cat’s claws were usually retracted in its paws, only stretching out when it was catching mice or something. But Schrodinger’s claws were very interesting. The mysterious cat could choose to extend any of its claws at any length at any time, just like a man extending his finger to draw in sand.
First, Schrodinger drew a semi-circle along the edge of the sand in the tray, with five points distributed along the lines equally. Then, a line was drawn on the other side with the word ‘Nanar’ written down. Another line was drawn above it, followed by the word ‘ambush’. Amon understood that this was a map of the battlefield’s terrain and various military fronts. Schrodinger was clearly reminding him that the Hittite army was expecting the An-Ra legion to reinforce the Pharoah and so they laid an ambush in the desert, awaiting him and his troops.
As long as the An-Ra legion travelled deep into the desert and exhausted itself with marches, it would be ambushed by the Enlil and Anu brigades in the most disadvantageous terrain while the Nanar brigade would take the opportunity to cut off their supply line and wrap up the battle from the rear.
Schrodinger’s claw did not stop drawing. Next, the cat drew a frame behind the defence line of the Nanar brigade near the southern part of the Charcoal Forest, in which was written “King of Hittite”.
Amon, who was sitting opposite of the cat, could not help but stand up and whisper, “What are you saying, Schrodinger? Is the King of Hittite there?”
Schrodinger nodded, then stretched its paws and wiped out all the drawings and marks on the tray of sand. This information was too important for Amon to ignore adjusting the overall plan of operation. The Pharoah had been deceived. He thought that King Lucier and the Enlil brigade were stationed on the southern coast. In fact, only the brigade ended up being there while King Lucier was far behind. Golier and the Anu brigade quietly gathered in the same spot.
How did Golier accomplish all this without alerting the Ejyptians? Aside from despatching several different spies and preventing scouts from discovering the frontline, there must have been other methods. For example, the soldiers could have disguised themselves as civilians or servants and mixed into the logistics teams that transported materials or built strongholds, then completing the assembly under the guise of common military tactics. As long as the primary line of the Ejyptian army was fixed, the battle had already been decided. The Hittite army did not change the variables and elements of its brigades on the surface, deceiving even the supreme mages that flew to scout.
Seeing the map drafted by Schrodinger, especially the location of the King of Hittite, Amon came up with a plan. Since the plan was too risky and very bold, he had to consider and investigate all details carefully and personally.
Shortly after sunrise the next morning, people woke to overly strong sunshine. The reflection of the pale sand was dazzling, almost to the extent of blinding. Amon instructed Metatro to stand guard with Hardedef while he left the camp quietly with the Commanding Priest Lord Idu. Hidden behind a sand dune in the distance, once they were sure there was no one nearby, Idu took out a magic artefact and said, “Head of the legion, let us go.”
A little stunned, Amon lowered his voice. “Crystal Shuttle? Lord Idu, you kept this pretty artefact from me!”
Idu responded with a sigh under his breath, “Lord Amon, you have a good eye. You can recognise such an artefact at a glance. You must be experienced with all magic artefacts, no? Many years ago, a good old friend taught me how to make it. Unfortunately, I had neither the ability nor the financial resources. Later, I had the privilege of becoming the honorary high priest of the Temple of Isis and even later, an official high priest. By then, I had saved enough money to build such an artefact, which was in fact not that long ago. It is my precious private possession and a memorial of the past.”
What Idu held in his hand looked like a translucent, glass dish, with the charming symbol of wind seemingly dancing in the centre. Three Aquaticores surrounded the dish symmetrically. The parangons and the vessel artefact seemed to be naturally integrated. It was up to anyone’s guess what kind of magical means made such a valuable item. With the cost of its materials, the price of making one must be exorbitant, especially considering all the materials that were destroyed in the process. Its preciousness was unimaginable.
Idu steered the Crystal Shuttle up into the sky with Amon aboard. Close up, the space formed by the shuttle was like a dim reflection of translucent light and shadow. No trace could be seen from a distance, especially since the shuttle was facing the reflection of the sunlight bouncing off the golden sand. When flying high with the sky as the background, the Crystal Shuttle looked even more invisible. In clouds, it appeared like a grey or white mist.
When airborne in the sky, the shuttle turns into a misty cloud, which saves a lot of magic power, not requiring any form of deception. Idu turned and said to Amon, “Crystal Shuttles have a stealth effect whereby we can avoid the sensation of detection magic. If you keep a safe distance, even the supreme mages will miss it. If I did not have this with me, I wouldn’t have dared to take you to scout.”
Amon nodded his head. “I’ve heard of such a flying artefact, but it’s generally too difficult to craft. It’s the first time I’ve seen or heard of someone who successfully made one. Although its stealth abilities are good, we would be hard-pressed to ensure we do not attack or perform offensive actions as it will lose its stealth significance. It also has another weakness, that is, it is slower than the ordinary Wind Shuttles.”
Idu took out a Wind Shuttle with his other hand. “It doesn’t matter. We’re only scouting at a high altitude. We have no intention of being aggressive today. In the case of our discovery, no matter how capable we are, we would never be able to fight an entire army. We can use the Wind Shuttle to escape. Should it come down to that, don’t forget to use arrows to cover our escape.”
As the two lords spoke, they continued moving eastward. Although the speed of the Crystal Shuttle was not as fast as that of the Wind Shuttle, it was certainly not slow as a flying instrument. By noon, they had flown across the desert and approached the main battlefield. They could see two brigades in the distance. The Pharoah’s army was stationed on the edge of the desert, only a dozen miles from the nearest water source. It was obvious that there had been more than one battle between the camp and the water source. On the ground, broken weapons and items were scattered across the the battlefield. The gleam of the metals reflected light as if they were stars visible underneath the overbearing sun.
The banner of the Hittite Army sat surrounded by three sides. On both sides of the Pharoah where the Ejyptians may retreat, a cordon of scouts was set up along the way. In the direction of the An-Ra legion was a heavy line of defence that awaited Amon to throw himself into the net.
At present, the Pharoah’s army could no longer attack and only had the ability to passively defend themselves. The Hittite army could calmly deploy squadrons of elite troops to attack the An-Ra legion. It was impossible to determine all the details and clues from the altitude Amon and Idu were at. Maybe there were other ambushes awaiting them on both sides of the desert. Rod Drick was the first to suffer at the hands of such tactics.
In the enemy camp, there were many masters like Golier. Although the Crystal Shuttle shielded them from detection, the two men dared not float too close. After looking at the general layout of the battlefield, Amon immediately asked Idu to take him back. However, the return journey was not a direct one like when they first left. Amon made a somewhat risky decision. He decided to circle north and float behind the Nanar brigade facing the An-Ra legion. He watched over the hills in the southern part of the Charcoal Forest.