Chapter 5


[Claudia]

[7th Reign of Heims, Year 1061.]

[Dividian Border]

There was hardly any resistance from the local towns upon entering the divide, all the local towns, and cities that were not under the protection of the Wardens quickly surrendered and aligned themselves under the Banner of House Cervum.

"If this keeps up, our only problem, in general, is the Wardens of the Divide."

I told my Vice-Captains who accompanied me, many seem to be willing to join the army, which is also helpful.

From the 3,000 Reachmen Cavaliers to approximately 4,500 men and women who are willing to join me.

Granted they may also be ship-jumping turncoats who once allied themselves with the Wardens. I thought as I rode Stormcrown across the blasted land of the Divide.

How are these people able to live in such conditions? I thought to myself, The Divide is known for their cold climate as this serves as the northern doorstep into the Kingdom of Ravenhall, the coldest region in Magna.

With the Reach as the southern, in contrast to the warm and temperate climate of the Reach, the Divide is almost a wasteland, especially once winter is in full swing.

I'll also need to end this campaign quickly or else the Warden's will be able to take full advantage of the situation once winter fully arrives. I had heard that the wardens are very skilled in brutal winter combat if that happens my army will be in a bad position.

I soon arrived at the forward camp that was currently besieging [Castle Frostfall], one of a few fortresses that align themselves with the Wardens. I then dismounted Stormcrown and proceeded to head towards the camp.

"Status of the siege?" I asked the Vice-Captain of this siege, to which he saluted and replied.

"The Wardens are dug in deep into the Fortress, it will take a while before we'll be able to defeat the Wardens in the fortress."

I glanced at the ramparts of the castle, it had been gravely battered from the volley of cannon fire and magic bombardments, but it wasn't enough to create a hole for my troops to besiege in. As for the aqueducts within the area, they all have water flowing within it, so there will be a possibility that my troops will drown within the tunnels if I try to send in sappers.

Unless… I then glanced at Ivaldi at my hand.

Oh hey, you're done at your soliloquies, right? She asked.

Very, I have this reckless idea, you'll like it but it will have some repercussions. I replied at her as I began to walk towards the castle ignoring the shouts of the Vice-Captain as the marksmen of my army fire at the Wardens to cover my approach.

What do you mean?

This. I then lifted up Ivaldi and prepared a throwing stance, the Lance then began to glow bright green and the very air around it began to the crackle of the sound of lighting gathering around the very tip of the lance.

Eventually, green lighting began to gather around the lance causing the [Mark of the Saint-King] began to glow green on my chest as I threw the lance towards the Gate of the Castle.

It then resulted in a massive explosion of green electricity as timber and stone began to fly past me while I saw various Wardens running out of the gates screaming in pain as they were caught alight from the blast.

I then turned to the Vice-Captain and casually caught Ivaldi as she returned to me and said.

"Reachmen! To arms!"

The troops shouted back in reply as they follow after me as we enter the castle grounds, adrenaline slowly filling my mind as we begin to lay siege within the fortress. One by one the defenders of the Castle Walls fell as I slash and stab my way into the fortress of the Castle.

A once orderly siege had then turned into a chaotic melee with a thousand different action from both sides. As I impale one Warden using Ivaldi I then glanced to my right to find another sprinting towards me, sword and mace in hand.

I then pulled Ivaldi away from me as I blocked and parried the attacks of this dual wielding Warden. Compared to the earlier ones that I killed, this one is adept at melee combat. And judging from his Officer Uniform he is likely part of the Warden's Officer Corp.

"Impressive," I commented as I slammed the other side of Ivaldi to push him back, and decapitated the Warden that was about to attack me from the side. "Is this the skill the Warden's carry?"

"We're a lot better than this ma'am." He replied as he readied a combat stance. "When a Warden fights, they fight until their dying breath, without the fear of death."

"What?" I then looked behind me to find that the Warden I had impaled earlier is now missing and appeared in front of me, both daggers drawn one of which impaled me in the shoulder.

"No matter the cost." She said calmly as she was about to impale me with the second dagger. Recklessly, I then allowed Ivaldi to release a blast of lighting from my hand and blasted it directly at her face frying her brains and instantly killing her.

I then backed away from her corpse, panting for breath as my ears rang from the explosion that resulted from it, while I watch the Warden-Officer walk towards me calmly with both weapons drawn while casually cutting down any of my men attempting to kill him.

I then aimed Ivaldi at him and released a blast of electricity, to which he bravely ran towards me with both weapons ignoring the damages it will bring.

Only to be blasted away from the lightning, instantly killing him.

I then looked around my surroundings, to find that one of my troops made it at the very top of the Castle and tore down the banner of the Warden's and raised a banner of House Cervum's.

I then let out a relieved sign and said.

"We won."


[Severus]

[8th Reign of Heims, Year 1061.]

[Still Waters Valley]

I then calmly hiked along the path within Valley, it was the 7th of Heims as snow slightly fell upon us as I lead the Fiore knights and the Wardens to training.

"Saint-King's Mercy!" I heard Clarus let out an agonizing shout as he hugged himself to keep warm as he sprinted next to me. "How in blazes are you Wardens are able to keep your balls warm in this biting cold?!"

But before I can reply one of the Senior Wardens who was walking next to me spoke.

"Three actually." He replied with a carefree smile. "It's either running, walking or fucking."

"But there aren't women around," Clarus replied looking around with a dejected expression.

"It doesn't have to be women." I joked at him and let out a chuckle while he looked at me with a horrified expression, the Senior Warden beside me laughed as well as he proceeded to walk faster and away from me.

"I think he fell for it." I turned to the Senior Warden as the two of us started to laugh. It was a popular tradition for Veterans uses that joke towards the Greenhorns during winter training.

It wasn't long after a messenger came riding a horse, the rider itself looked tired and haggard hinting he had spent hours riding all the way here.

"Warden-Commander I have an urgent message for you!" He said in a panicked voice.

"Calm yourself," I said, nodding to the Senior Warden to press onwards he then nodded and pressed onwards. "What is it?"

"The Reachmen have arrived! We have lost [Castle Frostfall] and the towns surrounding it!"

"They're a bit early than I expected." I pondered placing a hand on my chin as I think. "Gather the War Council at Nightbarrow Keep immediately, and have the remaining towns and Keeps evacuated and sent there and tell Lucius Venatus and Albus Scientia to get ready."

"Understood." He nodded and immediately rode off, I then gestured to a nearby Warden to prepare a horse for me to use.

[At Nightbarrow Keep.]

I gathered with the rest of the Leaders and the Officer Corp at the main hall, all of which were discussing plans on how to retaliate from such a loss, since Castle Frostfall the doorstep into the Divide, where most of our well-trained soldiers were stations.

"Status report?" I asked Septimus upon entering.

"A good portion of our best fighters, including the Warden-Battlemaster was lost during the fall." He replied calmly.

"And our supporters?"

"A few lesser houses," Valeria replied coolly, but her hands appear to be clenched possibly distraught over the loss of manpower considering most of her best knights were also in that fortress.

"Are the troops ready?" I turned Albus and Lucius with a knowing smile.

"All ready Sev," Albus replied with a thumbs up.

"The good news is yes, they're ready. But the weather conditions will lower the effect of the muskets in battle." Lucius commented with a shrug.

"It's a wonder how you three seem carefree over a loss of a strategic point." Valeria glared at the three of us, I simply chuckled and replied.

"On the contrary, this was part of the plan," I replied calmly.

"What plan?" She asked coldly, but the glint in her eyes tell me she is somewhat surprised to hear this.

"Oh, you'll see," I responded in a calm and serious tone, I then turned to Albus and Lucius and said.

"Have all the troops moved to Still Waters Valley."

I then proceeded to walk out of the room, I then heard footsteps following after me I then felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned my head to find Septimus looking at me.

"You better know what you're planning boy." He said in a worried tone.

"Don't worry, I have a plan," I replied with a nod. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'll need to prepare some things."


[Claudia]

[10th Reign of Heims, Year 1061.]

Much like the previous day, we had been able to lead a fast campaign since our arrival. Many towns had surrendered under my banner save for a few fortresses that resisted us.

I had received word that the main force of the Wardens is gathering for a defense at Still Waters Valley and Warden-Commander Severus. Therefore I am leading all of my troops to defeat the Wardens once and for all.

"At this rate, we'll be able to defeat the Wardens in no time." I heard my Vice-Captain say in a carefree manner.

"I wouldn't get too overconfident." I reprimanded the Vice-Captain, despite the fact that I had similar thoughts earlier.

"The Wardens sacrificed their troops during the sieges of the previous fortresses that we encountered and have mustered their remaining troops at Still Waters," I explained to them. "Why else would the earlier sieges from before be this easy?"

He simply remained silent as we quietly marched across this small path that connects towards Still Waters. Despite all this, it would appear to be quiet as if someone is watching over us, what's worse is that Ivaldi is oddly quiet therefore something is not right.

"Say what's that weird markings along the path?" A Soldier pointed out.

I then paused for a moment and stared at the aforementioned markings along the path, I then proceeded to frantically look around in a panic to find similar marking scattered across the path, on rocks, on trees, one by one all of which that started to show up spontaneously.

"It's everywhere." It's everywhere. Ivaldi and I chorused, I then turned towards the rest and shouted. "Everyone get down!"

But before anyone can react all of the aforementioned markings then released a blast of Magic energy across the path, killing a good number of my troops.

"Ambush!" I heard one of my troops shouted in the smoke. I then looked up to find Wardens pour out of the ledge all armed to the teeth with weapons.

"Protect the Princess!" I heard my Vice-Captain shout only to be skewered by several archers nearby."

I gritted my teeth and summoned Ivaldi and prepared to fight.

Claudia… I heard her speak in an almost low voice. I don't feel like fighting today…

"What do you mean?" I shouted as I locked blades with a Warden and slammed the butt of the lance at her, sending her back.

Something is not right… She said in an almost whimpering tone. Before I can reply to that I then heard a man shout.

"The Commander's mine!" I then looked to the ledge to find a Young man with Dark brown hair and steely blue eyes glaring down at me with a Sword in hand. He then leaped down from the ledge above me sword ready to cut me down in half. To which I instinctively locked blades with him.

"Warden-Commander Severus," I replied.

"Princess Claudia." He replied in a serious yet calm tone.

"I don't suppose you're here to reconsider your decision?" I asked him politely as I distanced myself between him while cautiously aiming Ivaldi at him.

He remained silent as he sprinted towards me, three of my soldiers stood between the two of us to which he quickly decapitated the first using his sword, calmly bisecting the second starting from the head and stopping midway to the stomach, then calmly grasped the shoulder of third and impaled the stomach of the third.

The sight itself reminded me of what Corona told me about him prior to starting this campaign.

"Be careful when fighting the new Warden-Commander." She said worriedly.

"Why is that?" I tilted my head in confusion.

"Severus Quintus has a reputation of being a skilled and pragmatic swordsman in battle. And if rumors are to be believed he fights like a berserker due to his pragmatic tendencies, especially when angered."

Oh, how true those rumors are Corona.

He then stood covered in dirt and blood with his sword ready to fight once more, which was a really impressive Frost enchanted steel sword, trust me I know when I see a good sword. Then started to sprint towards me to fight.

The attacker is now the defender it seems.

I thought to myself, as I then aimed Ivaldi, who had turned silent the whole time and allowed the very air around me cackle with lightning and released a blast of lighting towards the Warden-Commander.