Translator, Editor and Proofread: theunfetteredsalmon
Amon’s first move was with his own An-Ra legion, attacking the Nanar brigade to the north. He said lightly, “At noon today, the Head of the Nanar brigade arrived. I assume Lord Golier has seen him too. I haven’t lost any battles against the Nanar brigade, and we can still attack them if we so choose.”
Golier nodded. “I admire you for training a miscellaneous army the way you have so far. The Nanar is no longer dominant over you.” As he spoke, he moved the Nanar brigade one step back and smiled. “I shall allow you one step forward.”
Amon pointed at the sand table. “In this way, I can take the water source, greatly reducing the pressure of logistical issues.”
Golier nodded again and said, “Yes, you will be able to support the legion much longer, but you cannot win in the long run. The Nanar brigade is backed by Syah. It is very convenient for them in terms of reinforcements, manpower and logistics, while the An-Ra legion is far away from home or any settlement. Even if you win against the Nanar, the main Hittite army will finish their job on the main battlefield and encroach on you and eventually wipe the An-Ra legion out.”
Amon groaned. “It is the main battlefield that decides all. The sepat of Cape will not abandon the Pharaoh, and you will stop any reinforcement coming from them in the desert.” Amon removed another chess piece from Cape city and placed it in the middle of the desert.
“You can see clearly that the purpose of our battle is to defeat all reinforcements and let the Pharaoh’s army die of attrition,” Golier said. “How can you fight this?”
Amon did not respond, but he moved two chess pieces from the Nile river directly across into the hinterland of the Kingdom of Hittite. After they landed, he moved them straight to the capital of the Kingdom. Then, he explained, “With the strength of the Ejyptian Empire, at least two more expeditionary legions can be mobilised. The Pharaoh had not used the navy this time. If you leave this battlefield and fight directly from water, would you be able to make it back in time? The Nanar brigade has been practically stared to death. The Enlil brigade is too far away to do anything.”
Golier frowned. “Why do you fight like this? The Pharaoh’s goal was to claim the fertile land of a thousand miles around Duc. If you cross the sea to attack Hittite, my king will still be able to mobilise another two brigades, not to mention being able to rely on the city to house them.”
Amon sighed. “If the expeditionary army gets overwhelmed and fails its mission and the Pharaoh either dies or flees, the objective of the war will change completely. It will become a war of vengeance between both our nations, the new territory will take a backseat in terms of priority. To tell you the truth, if Ejypt were to cross the water with all its might, you would have to withdraw your troops anyway. Your Majesty the King would not gamble with the entire kingdom, would he?”
Golier raised his eyebrows. He added, “This is all but a hypothesis. In any case, such a path would result in no winner.”
“There are many things in the world that are unwise to do, and yet there will always be people who will do them,” Amon sighed yet again. “Who says there will be no winner? Take a closer look.” He moved two more chess pieces belonging to Assyr and Bablon, bypassing the plateau from the north and crossing the desert from the south repeatedly.
Golier scowled. “These two pieces are not under your command.”
“The army of Ejypt may not be under my command, but the pieces on this chessboard are free for me to move. The death of the Pharaoh would invoke the wrath of the entirety of the Ejyptian Empire. Even if he escaped, the Pharaoh, with his temper, would seek to wipe out his disgrace with retaliation against the Kingdom of Hittite, in which case crossing the sea would be his best bet. Regardless of the result of the war, Hittite would certainly be severely hurt, and the Ejyptian Empire would be incapable of preparing for another expedition soon enough. When the new, fertile land is finally accessible, do you think Assyr and Bablon would not participate?” Amon smiled knowingly at Golier.
“With the direction of their gods, no one will surrender. But this situation of the war is a deduction by you, who is only the Head of a legion. In reality, that would never happen. If today I hear that Ejyptian warships were being deployed, I would order the immediate retreat of the entire Hittite army. I would never gamble the fate of the Kingdom of Hittite, let alone the lives of tens of thousands of people. It is a pity that you are Amon, not the Pharaoh.”
Minister Juguli, who had been observing and contemplating the conversation before him, suddenly said, “Actually, there is another way to play this game of chess that would drastically change the outcome…”
“Minister Juguli, how do you mean?” Celia asked curiously.
Juguli stared at Golier but he did not speak. Golier was also silent. Amon smiled and took the initiative to explain to Celia, “The method our dear minister is proposing is very simple – just kill me.”
He looked around the table. “Killing me is a very simple task. Perhaps just mobilising heavy troops to besiege this tent and hiding from a distance is enough. However, you must first consider two points. First, if I die, there will be no chance of the Pharaoh or the Ejyptian Empire doing what we have discussed, which would be in both our favours. Secondly, how will you conceal the news of the king’s death? On top of that, who will succeed the throne? There is no planned heir for your kingdom.”
All the people present, including Lucier, turned dark. The king’s eyes stared gloomily at Juguli. The desperate minister quickly pleaded to the king, “His Majesty the King, that’s not my intention! It is not what I meant!”
The king spoke in a low tone with no obvious anger, “My prime minister, I know that you are loyal to the kingdom. In here, we speak of nothing but various assumptions. If you have any valuable input, you are welcome to voice it. I am a king. If necessary, I will sacrifice myself for the kingdom. Amon, please continue.”
Amon nodded to the king to express his thanks. “I cannot guarantee my own life, but I am not afraid of death. I’ve prepared for it since I decided to come here. Should the king die, what consequences will there be? Metatro…”
Metatro had been waiting for an opportunity to speak. He tightly grasped his dagger and said, “If the news of the king’s death is kept under wraps successfully, the military of Hittite will not be shaken. It is assumed that they would then take their victory. But as far as I know, there is no designated successor to the Hittite throne. This time, Prince Asher was brought to participate in the war. The prime minister was also drafted. There is also Prince Ainis, the king’s eldest son, acting as regent, and assisted by the Minister of Internal Affairs.
Both princes must be Your Majesty’s favourite sons. Your Majesty seems hesitant about passing on the mantle of king. They both have the ambition to fight for the throne, and they also have the support of their respective subjects. If Your Majesty is still around, there would be no problem for Hittite, but the situation will become much more complicated if Your Majesty dies here.
Prince Asher is now in command of the army, if you choose to push him to the throne, you will be his most trusted people, the kingdom’s hero. On the other hand, Prince Ainis has the ardent support of his ministers. He has everything he needs to claim the throne. By accusing his brother of regicide, he may not even require Your Majesty’s approval. Without a foreign enemy to unite against, the Kingdom of Hittite may face imminent civil war. Regardless, I am an upright man who says what he thinks. Your Majesty, I plead your understanding.”
Before his arrival, the supreme mage Idu had analysed the political situation of the Kingdom of Hittite and found that they were indeed facing a struggle over the throne, especially since one prince was leading the army outside of city walls while the other is in charge of supervising the kingdom. Once the king dies without an official heir appointed, the possibility of civil strife was very high. Metatro was now trying to sell an idea, so he put this prediction out in the open.
None of the lords dared to speak. Although the matter regarding the throne was an open secret, people would only talk of it in private to avoid unwanted attention.
The only one who could speak openly was the king himself. Lucier, weary and tired, slowly said, “In fact, your Pharaoh has the same issue. Should he die, the Ejyptian Empire would be thrown into a struggle over the throne, and maybe civil strife for a while.”
Amon smiled and nodded. “Yes, but Your Majesty should consider his wellbeing first. You are a noble and distinguished king. There is no need to bury yourself with me.”
At last, the king looked up and asked, “Your excellencies, if Ejypt promised us all the conditions and victory for the Kingdom of Hittite without further conflict, what conditions do you think they will propose?”
Golier and Juguli looked at each other, and then back at Lucier. “That question may have to be directed at the Pharaoh and the lords around him. I’m afraid the Head of the An-Ra legion cannot decide.”
Amon pondered for a moment. “I suggest that both countries sign a non-aggression peace treaty. Specifically what content should be discussed and sworn in the name of their respective gods? The Pharaoh’s temper may be volatile. Allow me to send a messenger to the Pharaoh. If there is no response, there may have to be another battle before anyone will be willing to sit down to negotiate again.”
Lucier asked, “Minister Juguli and Commander of the Hittite Army Lord Golier, do you concur?”
Golier puffed. “Let Amon try to send a message. But… who can you send?”
Amon beamed and pointed to Metatro. “I have only this captain of my Guard beside me. First, I will send him to the An-Ra legion to inform them of the goings here before he rushes to the Pharaoh’s camp to explain. I’m afraid he will need an escort. The sooner you leave, the better.”
“I suggest that Celia control the Wind Shuttle, while Aruka accompanies and escorts the warrior on the king’s orders at the fastest possible speed,” Golier thought aloud.
Lucier nodded agreeably. “Very well, consider this my order. I eagerly await the Pharaoh’s reply.”
Metatro, having reached the peak of glory in his life so far, returned to the camp in the shuttle escorted by the supreme mage Celia and the supreme warrior Aruka. When the soldiers heard that the King of Hittite had been captured by Amon, cheers rang through the sky.
From there to the Pharaoh’s camp, the Commanding Priest Lord Idu also operated another shuttle to follow. He tried to bring a batch of supplies in his spatial artefact. Although it was a drop in the bucket for the entire Ejyptian army, it was better than nothing. He had to take the opportunity to explain to the Pharaoh why the An-Ra legion was not pulled out immediately as ordered.
Because the An-Ra legion was in a fierce standoff with the Nanar brigade, not to mention the main force of the Hittite army lurking in the desert with lines of defence, Amon, the Head of the legion, took the odd risk to create a miracle and hold the King of Hittite hostage, forcing the Hittite Army to take the initiative to negotiate.
When the Pharaoh received the news from Metatro, the first thing he did was to reward the messenger as well as Idu who had arrived in ecstasy. However, he was dissatisfied. He asked why Amon did not force the King of Hittite to surrender.
Before Metatro could respond, the lords and ministers surrounding the Pharaoh urged the leader not to think as such. Hittite’s army was in the best possible position. The kingdom could not just stop working and lose a monumental war because of a king. If Lucier would have rather died than surrendered, Amon’s efforts would have been in vain. What’s more, they still had the issue of the main army of Hittite, as well as doubts whether the command of a king could be carried out and enforced.
The Pharaoh was somewhat unwilling. He had captured his enemies’ king and he still had to agree to the harsh conditions put forward by them. How could he let it go? He let Metatro return with the following conditions if they agreed to withdraw: Hittite would still belong to Ejypt. Relations would return to their state pre-war.
Of course, Lucier, Golier and the others could not agree to such a condition. Amon sent Metatro back with a letter to convey the attitude and expectation of the Hittite side. The three conditions mentioned were not negotiable, and that discussion should move on to other things. Because of the Pharaoh’s mouth, Metatro almost broke his legs moving back and forth as a messenger. Fortunately, he had a supreme mage to control the shuttle instead of having to walk, so he wouldn’t have died of exhaustion before he accomplished his mission.
The Pharaoh still hesitated as he had delusions about the situation of the war. He hoped that the reinforcements from the sepat of Cape would arrive soon. While Metatro was flying back and forth, another battle broke out in the desert, where the emergency reinforcements from Cape were defeated. They were unable to break through the lines of defence that the Hittite army had put up. The main Ejyptian army was running low on food and water. They did not have many arrows left.
At last, the Pharaoh decided to bow his head. At that point, there were several other things that Hittite had to worry about, causing them to decide to negotiate as soon as possible.
According to yet another confidential report, the Kingdom of Bablon was gathering troops in the city of Uruk. The Uruk legion led by Gilgamesh seemed to show movement, but its target was unclear. Bablon was a kingdom united by different city-states, and their legions were named after their cities. The Uruk legion led by Gilgamesh and Enkidu was the most powerful.
On the other hand, Ejypt also seemed to have assembled two other legions. One of them was the legion of Geb, which was on its way to Cape. The other was the legion of Osiris, which was the navy. It appeared on the mouth of the Nile river. Although those two legions could not catch up to rescue the Pharaoh’s army, Hittite would pay a great price if they fought them.
The Geb and Osiris legions were the main forces defending the northern and southern borders of the Empire separately. This time, half of the troops remained garrisoned in their positions, their places filled by other cities’ garrisons, forming an integrated army. This was a little different from Amon’s prediction during the game of chess on the sand table. The situation of the second army of Ejypt was both land and sea, going hand-in-hand.
There was also one piece of news that was most worrying to the king. Rumours that had spread to him said that King Lucier had been assassinated right before the battle and that Golier had conspired with Prince Asher as a plan to succeed him to the throne with the backing of a great victory. Since Lucier was being held by Amon, he could not appear in front of his army to refute the rumours, nor could he return to the capital to stabilise the situation for the time being. Prince Ainis was also arranging a response. The political situation in Hittite was now full of unpredictable variables.
Both sides had their difficulties, and thus, they could not drag on. After seven or eight trips, Metatro finally found time to rest. The Ejyptian side put forward the condition for the An-Ra legion to bring supplies to and join the main Ejyptian army, and that the Hittite army could not obstruct in any way possible along the way. Golier agreed, ordering the Nanar brigade to march eastward to rejoin the main Hittite army.
And so, there was a strange march between the two countries. The An-Ra legion packed up and marched, escorting its logistical troops eastward through the desert. Not far north, on the edge of the desert and grassland, the Nanar brigade marched in full view of the An-Ra legion. They stared at each other cautiously.
Lord Idu had returned and was leading the march. However, Amon, the Head of the legion, was absent. Hardedef, the Leader of the soldiers, was leading the troops. The frontal troops of both regiments met several times, and although there was no fighting, there was no lack of disdain towards each other. Orbene satirised that Hardedef and the others would only cower and let their Head take the biggest risks, engaging in despicable and underhanded kidnapping activities when they were in a helpless position.
Hardedef responded harshly and without hesitation, “It was not without struggle. It was clear who was winning and who was losing. If you are not convinced, let us not rely on backup. Let us fight in the desert. We are not afraid of you!” Those were the words of a gambler, of course, but in reality, the two regiments had little fear of each other.
The king, escorted by heavy guards, walked North of the Nanar brigade. He also had two bodyguards close to him. The king was sitting in a carriage while Metatro stood behind him, short dagger in hand. There were no other guards in the carriage, The driver of the carriage was Amon.
Celia, the supreme mage, put aside her Wind Shuttle. She followed the carriage closely on horseback. She advised Amon, “Why do you drive yourself when you are the Head of a legion?”
Amon laughed and answered, “I have met Enkidu, the number one warrior on the mainland, driving for Gilgamesh. What is wrong with driving today for His Majesty the King? It was I who took the king, and it was also my proposal for peace talks. Of course, it was my duty to personally bring the king to the meeting place.
“Don’t forget our agreement,” Celia reminded.
“You mean the duel? It’ll be a while away. I’m going to command my legion to withdraw. After all is settled, I will send messengers to you. I will make a special appointment regarding the time and place of the duel. I am not one to break my promise.”
The meeting place for the peace talks was ready. Two large tents were set up in the desert, twenty feet apart. Tables and seats were arranged outside the main entrances. The people negotiated face to face while the army retreated far away. In case of emergency, the supreme mages on both sides placed powerful magic arrays in their tents.
The boundary of the magic arrays was at the centre of the open space between the tents. Any movement breaking through the border would invoke attacks by powerful forces.
On the side of Ejypt, there was the Head Ankh of the Isis legion, Commanding Priest Wadj-hotep of the Isis legion, Leader Ruia of the Isis legion, Commanding Priest Lykwid of the Horus legion, Leader Vadin of the Horus legion, Idu, Hardedef, as well as a dozen important guards beside the Pharaoh.
The Pharaoh sat in the middle. Aside from the Pharaoh and Hardedef, all other members of the meeting were either supreme mages or warriors. The commanders of the legions and the supreme mages had seats, while the rest of the warriors stood with swords on their waists. There was an empty seat in the front row.
theunfetteredsalmon: I’m flying (again, yay) back to the UK this time, and I’ll be unpacking all the boxes that took us a full week to pack. We’re also going to have to go out and buy things and settle down. I’m also entering school, finally! I have to pick up documents and go for orientation literally next Monday. For now, chapters will be reduced to once a week until the week after the next as of this posting, but if I find time to translate, the schedule won’t change. Thank you so much for your patience!