Biraghi Den Entrance – Two Years Ago
Biraghi Den, the once-abandoned fortress after the war between Calpheon and Heidel, is now home of the peasants of Heidel who couldn’t pay the overbearing taxes. As a result, they’ve gone rogue to survive.
The inhabitants of Biraghi Den aren’t all bad by choice. It’s just so happened that a lot of the rogues moved on from petty thievery and now turn to murder, kidnapping, and ransom. They don’t have a choice; they must do what’s necessary to survive. Who could blame them?
By the entrance of Biraghi Den is Crisostomo Ibarra and his soldiers behind him at the ready.
The cavalry captain, now Crisostomo’s second-in-command, stand ready beside his Legate. He breathes heavily, not knowing what’s up ahead.
“Captain,” Crisostomo said, “What do you think of the bandits? You may speak freely.”
The captain stands firm, “Sir! I believe these thieves are just doing what they can to survive… but I know that resorting to murder and ransom is not the answer.”
“Good answer. Remember, captain, being poor is not an excuse to harm others. Now, do you know what we do with murderers?”
“We’ll make them face trial and lock them for life?”
“No, captain, Lex Talionis is my answer.”
“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth… a life for a life. Such is the Law of the Retaliation.”
“But sir… wouldn’t that also implies that these bandits are just retaliating because of the overbearing taxes?”
Crisostomo grins, “You’re right, and we’re paying the price. And the cycle continues.”
Crisostomo turns around to look at his soldiers. All the soldiers are standing firm, their head up high, and their banner soaring above them all. The company consists of 10 platoons of 15 men, with a total of 150 men, all on horseback.
“Soldiers!” Crisostomo said.
All the soldiers are now paying attention to Crisostomo. He paused for a few seconds for the sound to die out.
“The Kalis Parliament has assigned us… to cleaning duty. Look at the mess this place is, filthy! That’s why we’re here, we’re going to make this place spotless. Check every nook and cranny. I want to see these bandits either dead, dying, or captured. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, commander!” the soldiers all said in unison.
Crisostomo then turns around, facing the entrance to Biraghi Den.
“Captain, I want you to lead the assault,” Crisostomo then reach for his helmet that is attached to his right side then puts it on, “I’ll just be taking a stroll by myself to the top of this hill. Feel free to join me if you like, while cleaning your way up.”
“Sir!” The captain then looks to his fellow soldiers, “The whole company will advance!”
With that said, Crisostomo unsheathes his greatsword and puts it on his shoulder then casually walks forward towards Biraghi Den.
The captain is now ordering the troops.
“Alright! Two mounted platoons to the left, and another two mounted platoons to the right! Pave a way for the commander! Four platoons go on foot and watch out for stranglers! The rest, on me, we’re going to help the commander.”
Battle of Biraghi Den
Crisostomo and his men entered Biraghi Den through the south-eastern entrances. His mounted platoons split up every time the path splits. The forest in Biraghi den is thick. No fighting yet ensues, it’s too quiet, almost too quiet.
Sensing that something wasn’t right, the platoons from the centre stop on their tracks to assess their surroundings. They’ve advanced too far from the main force.
Suddenly, an arrow flew from the trees in front of them and hits one of the soldiers on the neck.
“Ambush!” the platoon leader signals a tactical withdrawal.
From the north, the platoons there are already engaging the bandits head-on. While from the south, the platoons aren’t engaged in any combat.
A few minutes later, the platoons that are retreating regroups with Crisostomo’s forces. Suddenly, arrows one by one are hitting their location.
“Cavalry, fall back downhill and make your way from the north!” Crisostomo shouted, “Turtle formation!”
As the mounted soldiers ride downhill, the soldiers quickly compressed with one another in lines of five men.
The first line of soldiers raised their shields to just below eye level, while the second line placed their shields on their back and switched to bow and arrow then crouched down. Crisostomo is with the second line.
The third line places their shields up above their heads, resting the other end of the shield to the first line. The fourth line switched to their bow and arrow as well and crouched down, while the fifth and sixth line raises their shields above their heads.
Arrows then rain down over them, hitting only their shields.
The turtle formation is an excellent defence against incoming projectiles like arrows and rocks, the only exceptions are from larger projectiles and magic.
A minute has passed, and the arrows finally stopped raining on them.
“Just hold formation,” Crisostomo said.
Suddenly, there are shouting from the bushes and are now coming their way, the bandits have set up an ambush.
Crisostomo then nods, “Rain arrows!”
Quickly, the first and third line lowers their shields and crouched down. The second line then stands up with their bow and arrow ready then fires at the incoming bandits. The second and third line then crouched down to give way for the fourth line to fire at the enemy.
The soldiers stand up then charges at the enemy. They bashed their shields against the bandits then slashed them with their swords. Now, the centre force is engaging the enemy. The southern platoons have also started engaging the enemy.
Bit by bit, Crisostomo’s forces are making their way uphill and the bandits slowly retreat.
Two soldiers are going too far away from the formation and facing the bandits by themselves.
“Not long now, we’ve got them beaten!” one of the soldiers said.
Another soldier nods, “Yeah, these bandits are nothing for the pride of Calpheon!”
“Oy!” the captain shouted, “don’t get overconfident and get back in formation!”
From behind, the soldier was hit by two large axes. He’s dead.
“Giants!” the other soldier said, then was hit by another large axe.
The Captain clicks his tongue, “These kids!”
As the soldier said, two giants armed with two large battle axes emerges from the forest then charges at the soldiers. Two soldiers went flying as the giants swing their axes at them.
The soldiers are now scattering and make a run for it but were stopped on their tracks as they saw Crisostomo hits the ground hard with his greatsword and something red glows brightly behind his helmet where his right eye would be. Instead of continuing their retreat, they turn around and raises their shields, readies their swords, then charges at the bandits. They’re more afraid of their commander than the enemy.
Crisostomo slowly walks past his soldiers while dragging his greatsword on the ground. After moving a few feet away from his soldiers, he tightens his grip on his greatsword and dashes at one of the giants and made a huge swing. The giant parries Crisostomo’s blow and laughs. Seconds later, the other giant went behind him and raises his axes.
Crisostomo made a left dash to dodge the attack. The giant’s axes are now stuck on the ground because of the powerful attack. This gave Crisostomo the opening he needs and swings his greatsword at the giant.
The giant was taken aback then coughs blood as he sees his plate armour has a huge dent. His ribs were broken in that attack.
A few seconds later, the giant saw a large sword piercing through to where the dent was.
The giant looks up and is now trembling in fear because of what he is seeing. Two red dots glowing brightly from Crisostomo’s helmet, looking directly at the giant’s soul. The other giant rushes to aid his friend and swings his axes at Crisostomo.
Crisostomo lets go of his greatsword that is stuck on the giant to dodge the incoming attack.
Now weaponless, the giant grins then swing his axes continuously at Crisostomo. Luckily, Crisostomo manages to dodge the attacks.
The giant’s onslaught continues but Crisostomo hits a tree with his back. The giant grins then swing his axes at Crisostomo. But Crisostomo manages to duck so the giant hits the tree. Quickly, Crisostomo punches the giant’s guts. The giant flinched. Shortly afterwards, Crisostomo kicks the giant and the giant falls to the ground.
A few moments later, Crisostomo turns around and pulls out one of the axes that are stuck on the tree. Slowly, Crisostomo walks towards the giant.
“No! Mercy!” the giant cried.
No word from Crisostomo, instead, he raises the axe as the two red dots on his helmet shine brighter.
Crisostomo made a large swing with the axe and dismembered the giant’s right leg. The giant rolls over and tries to crawl away as he cries in pain.
Other bandits started running away, a lot of Crisostomo’s soldiers are trembling in fear, while some are in awe, especially the captain, because of how powerful their commander is. This made the captain signal a general advance uphill through the forest of Biraghi Den.
The giant is still trying to crawl his way out, but he hits on a metal leg, he slowly looks up and saw Crisostomo towering over him with a bloodied greatsword at hand, resting on his right shoulder.
Crisostomo raises his greatsword above the giant.
Not a single word still.
The giant then cries in pain loudly as his lungs will allow him as Crisostomo repeatedly stabs him on his back with the greatsword effortlessly even with the giant’s steel-plated armour.
In One’s Position
Crisostomo kneels on his knees because of exhaustion as the two glowing red dots on his helmet slowly fades. He opens his palms and saw it covered in blood all over.
Suddenly, there’s something rustling by the bushes. Crisostomo quickly looks to his left. To his surprise, a child emerges from the bushes. The child is in shock, his whole body is shaking, mouth wide open, and tears building up.
“D-dad…?” the child manages to say.
Crisostomo is taken aback then looks at the giant lying before him, dead and with his greatsword piercing through his back.
Now breathing heavily, he then recalls what happened during the war between Calpheon and Heidel. He saw his cousin, Florentino, in the boy. He can see in the boy’s eyes the same fire burning, the same hate that he saw in Florentino a long time ago.
Crisostomo remembered clearly what happened that day. Florentino’s father was killed in front of him then he went wild, blood drunk.
Crisostomo knew what he has done, and he knew what going to happen next, so he just stood there.
As the boy let out a deafening cry, he rushes towards Crisostomo while clenching his fists.
Two soldiers arrive and try to restrain the boy just inches away from Crisostomo.
“Let me go!” the boy cried while struggling, “He killed my father! He’s a murderer!”
Crisostomo nods, “I know…”
“Why? Why did you kill him!?”
Crisostomo stands up and looks at the two soldiers, “Take this boy away from the battlefield, to the orphanage.”
“No! Let me go!” the boy points at Crisostomo, “Just you wait! I’ll come to you!”
Crisostomo pulls out the greatsword from the giant then starts walking towards the forest.
Just Ibarra… who wants to play video games even though he has an 8-to-5 day job…