And She Said She Loved Me... Chapter 4
Jan pushed himself up from the ground. Bones popped loudly as he stood up and shook the sand off of his clothes. He felt the back of his head. A blunt instrument of some sort had scraped the right side of his head, no damage done to his skull.
Jan looked around for the ship. It was nowhere in sight. He then realized it was mid morning. He had been out of it all night. He would consult Lepant on this. Kasumi would be rescued.
Lepant sat in his mansion in Kouan. President McDohl had recently named him Governor of the southern region. Not wishing to get involved with politics, he would've declined, but his love to the new president convinced him to take the position.
The citizens of Seika, Kaku, the Great Forest, and Kouan respected him dearly. He sat reading quietly in the serenity of a Sunday afternoon. Like Jan, he wouldn't have to worry about politics much until the capital was restored. But occasionally he would have to meet with Jan and his committee to outline new laws and such.
Warren, Kasim Hazil, Milich Oppenheimer, Sonya Shulen, Kwanda Roseman, Kirkis, Joshua, the Dwarf Chief, and Zorak were all key roles in restoring the Toran Republic.
Lepant was deeply engrossed in some of Mathiu's notes. He had very interesting theories about warfare, politics, and business.
These notes were delivered by Apple, saying that the biography was finished and she wouldn't need them. She had found them on his desk back at the schoolhouse in Seika.
Lepant decided to start with business, then warfare. He wasn't about to touch politics, because as soon as Jan resigned, he would do the same..perhaps sooner.
There was a rap at the door. Lepant was pretty angry. How dare somebody interrupt his quiet evening by the fireside, reading and relaxing with Eileen.
He went down the stairs and flung the door open, and saw a beaten and tattered Jan.
"Commander!" Lepant said, momentarily forgetting the world of politics.
"Lepant, I need your help."
"Come in, come in!"
"Thank you." Jan entered the house and followed Lepant into his study. He pulled a chair near the fire. Eileen brought him some tea.
"What brings you here?"
"I need your help. Have you ever heard of a country named Mooranjra?"
"Mooranjra..yes! It was mentioned in some of Mathiu's notes. He has several pages written on it."
"Because Toran is at war with them."
"They kidnapped Kasumi."
"They force women to wed in that country against their will, now they steal from other countries."
"Oh, Lepant! What if they were to take me off somwhere? You'd come rescue me, wouldn't you?" Eileen cut in. This was more than enough to make Lepant beyond angry.
"Alright. I'll have Sonya prepare thirty of our best warships by tomorrow."
"Thank you, Lepant."
It was early the next morning, and Jan arrived at the harbor to greet Lepant, but was given the cold shoulder by Sonya.
"Alright, men!" Sonya shouted once she saw that all the ship captains were present. "We have thirty ships, ready to sail. Supplies and weapons are stored inside each ship. Seven ships will take to the front line, followed by the other twenty-three. I again apologize for the short notice. We will be landing in unknown territory. This is a country named Mooranjra. The captains of the first seven ships will be Myself, President Mcdohl, Lepant, General Hazil, General Roseman, Cleo, and General Oppenheimer. And now I would like to introduce all of you to Captain Gwynn, second in command of our navy. He will accompany our country's president. Any questions?"
One of the captains, who would be commanding a ship in the back row, stepped forth. "Yes, I object to our president going to war for personal gain. I also object to him being in battle, if he dies the whole country goes to hell!"
"Have you no loyalty? Have you no concern for a woman who played a major role in liberating this country? Have you not the courage to step forth at every opportunity to risk your life for your loving president? This isn't just merely something to satisfy Jan, this is to save Kasumi, and women all over this foreign country who are abused, raped, and murdered! Think of your wives, what would you do if they were beaten, used, and killed by these dogs? Would you idly sit by and say 'I don't care!? This heart warming speech invigorated every captain in Sonya Shulen's navy. Lepant stepped down, pleased with his choice of words. Everybody rushed forth onto the assigned ships.
Jan stood on the deck of his ship, 'Odessa'. He gazed at the tranquility of the ocean, the ocean he should be gazing at with Kasumi. He would find Ronland Korsair, and make him pay!
Gwynn stepped up beside him. Gwynn had short, black hair, which flowed softly in the breeze. He had dark eyes to match. He stood at five feet and ten inches. He was very muscular and very handy with a spear. A rune adorned his right hand, which was alien to most, excepting those who studied runes as a profession. Jan would ask Jeane about it later.
"This girl, Kasumi, you two are in love, no?" Gwynn cooly asked.
"W-what!? Is that a psychic rune or something?" Jan replied, with a hint of anger in his voice.
Gwynn laughed, "No, no. Ha ha. I have a talent for spotting these things."
"Oh, I see."
"You're also a very sad person. I could sense it from when I very first saw you, in the Battle of Shazarade. I was once an Imperial, but my loyalty was for Lady Sonya alone, and always will be."
"You're good. But now it's my turn. You are in love with Sonya Shulen, but you decide to keep your feelings to yourself because you know how stubborn she is, and her feelings for my father will never change, even though he's dead."
"Ha ha. Keep practicing. I'm Sonya's cousin."
"Oh, boy, is my face red!" And it was. Jan had to turn his head to conceal the embarassment.
"It's okay. Many make that mistake. Most of the time I let them keep on thinking that."
"I see. So tell me about some of your military experience. I want to make sure I have to best soldiers in my army."
"Well, Sonya recruited me into her ranks when I was eighteen, and taught me how to wield a spear. I fought in the last battle you encountered with Sonya, but she sent me away to Gregminster so I wouldn't be captured. When the war ended, and I found out Sonya was the admiral of the Toran Navy, I immediately went to see her, and since then have been studying war on the sea."
"Well, It looks like I have the best."
"Ha ha. If you say so. Hey, would you like to join me in my bunk for some wine?"
"I'd be delighted."
It was nearing morning, and Kasumi could begin to see streaks of daylight enter her small cell. She had a horrible night. When she finally reached shore, she was forced to march for three hours without water until they arrived at the capital. He arms were bound by rope, preventing any quick escape or attack. She was roughly thrown into a dungeon, which had only the cold stone floor to lie on. She was given a small mug of water and a piece of dry bread for dinner. She was kept awake all night by the vulgar shouting of other prisoners. The dungeon smelled of urine and rotting flesh, and was lit by only a single torch at the end of the corridor of cells. Was she to spend her remaining days in this place? No! Jan would come! He wasnt dead!
"I think I see land!" One of the shipmates shouted to Kasim Hazil.
"That is good. Tell the men to arm themselves and prepare to march."
Within three and a half hours, all thirty ships had docked and unloaded their passengers. It was nearing evening when the army found a place to make camp and set everything up. The troops were entitled to one serving of water and venison, each, for there would be dire need for rations once battle was waged.
Kasim entered the main tent, which served as the conference room. He was greeted warmly by his fellow generals: Jan, Gwynn, Lepant, and Cleo. They briefly outlined the events tomorrow would bring. Jan was to lead the main forces, five thousand strong along with Cleo and Milich Oppenheimer. Sonya was to lead a second battalion, three thousand strong, with Gwynn and Kwanda Roseman. Lepant and Kasim Hazil were to lead the third and final force, twenty-five hundred strong.
"What about the remaining forty-five hundred?" Lepant asked.
"They are to remain with the ships and the camp. If we are in need of a quick retreat or reinforcements, it'll be safe to leave them here with Captain Rainer."
Captain Rainer was the one who spoke up against the mission from the beginning, but had changed his mind after hearing Lepant's strong words. He was fairly young, somewhere in his mid-twenties. He had brown hair, which hung down to his shoulders and equally brown eyes. He was somewhat short, standing at around five feet and four inches. But being small, he was quick as lighting with his bow and arrow. This would be his finest test yet. He had put his strength to the test in only small roles in the previous war, but he felt confidant that he could command four thousand men in a major battle.
"That ends this meeting." Jan said. "We will eat and prepare ourselves before the sun rises, so everyone should get some rest."
Ronland stood over his father's bed. He had died about an hour ago. Ronland was the new king of Mooranjra, but completely unaware that the Toran Army camped upon his shores.
Ronland was happy. He stood in the throne room of his palace, and looked around in admiration. Ronland was about six feet tall, very muscular, and had very intimidating eyes. He was also very talented in martial arts, magic, and swordplay. Let all that challenge his authority step forth!
Kasim and Lepant had been marching for around two hours when they reached the outskirts of a small town.
"What do you propose we do, Sir Lepant?"
"Hmm, it seems as if the villagers are just getting up to start their daily routines of farming and such. We won't attack. We should engage conversation with their chief, and see if we can gather some information. If they send forth resistance, we will try to only take captives."
"You have a very strategic mind, Lepant. You remind me of Mathiu."
"Heh. Nobody's as good as Mathiu."
"I'll miss him."
The two men led their army to the village gates. Several villagers were alarmed by their presence, for they were not used to their appearance. Finally an elderly gentleman stepped forth.
"May we help you?"
"Yes, we come from the country of Toran, which is far to the east. We have waged war on Mooranjra. You people seem harmless, so just cooperate with us and there will be no trouble." Lepant said.
"War!? Who do you think you people are!?"
"We're the best."
"I'm sorry, but we are a proud village and will tell you nothing. Though we are soon to have a tyrant as a king, he will be our king!"
All this time, a rather large man, by the name of Brorj, had mounted his horse, and set off at full gallop to warn the capital. Brorj was one of the most feared men in Mooranjra. It was lucky for Ronland he hadn't entered the tournament a week ago. He stood at nearly seven feet tall, and muscles rippled all over his body. He could split a man in two with his axe.
"Those are harsh words coming from somebody who is at the mercy of two and half thousand soldiers." Kasim said.
"We'll see!" said the old man and raised his arm. The gates swung shut, and little windows around the wooden wall of the village lifted up. Arrows were fired striking down the front lines of the army.
"Torch it!" Lepant shouted.
The back row archers were hastily trying to make a fire while a hundred valor-filled soldiers rushed forth at the gates. They madly hacked away, trying to bring the front wall down.
"Fire is ready, sir!" a soldier yelled to Lepant above the cries of men cursing God or shouting for their wives and children as arrows pierced their armor and found their hearts.
"Fire at will!" Lepant returned. Two hundred archers formed a line and fired burning arrows simultaneously. The scent of smoke soon filled the air, while villagers desperately tried to smolder the flames. Soon the gates had to be opened to help let the smoke escape. Lepant and Kasim quickly led their men into the gates and hacked away at anyone wielding a weapon.
'How horrible,' Lepant thought, "these men aren't even trained!"
Soon, only cowering women and children remained, pleading for mercy.
"Do you swear fealty to the Toran Republic?" Lepant asked, holding his sword to the throat of the old chief.
"It is you who shall swear fealty to us!" The old man cried. Lepant soon understood what he was talking about. Many galloping hooves could be heard in the distance, as cries of soldiers echoed through the walls of the village to prepare to fire down the front lines.
Kasim and Lepant stepped outside the gates, and could see around three thousand cavalry soldiers riding at full pace towards them. The archer's bows were singing as they quickly sniped down the first few horsemen. Brorj had seen a small army on his way to the capital, and alerted them. Soon they were mixed with Lepant's and Kasim's troops, and the archers had to put their bows away.
"All men, retreat!" Kasim shouted.
"They have us surrounded!" Lepant shouted back.
"What are our chances of breaking through?"
"Well, we lost around five hundred in our last skirmish, and our men are weary. They have about a thousand men more than us, and are heavily armored, and are on horseback."
"We'll try our best, then!" Kasim shouted. "Men, try to break through! When you break free, disperse!"
Mooranjrans were already filtering in through the gates and savagely tearing through men's bodies with their swords and spears. Lepant and Kasim led a charge of swordsman to cut a path through the infinite line of cavalry. Soon they broke free, but at the cost of fifteen hundred men.
"We can't run from horses!" Kasim said to Lepant.
Lepant thought fast. "Men, there was a forest about a mile back. Try your best to run for it!"
Lepant and Kasim stayed behind to secure the escape of the rest of their men. They tried hard, but to no avail, to block out the blood curdling screams of men dying horrible deaths. After about half a mile, the troops began to lack endurance, and found themselves overwhelmed by the juggernaut, which trailed an inch behind them. Lepant and Kasim turned to their right, followed by the few remaining men.
"What are you doing!?" Kasim shouted.
"There's a drop-off about a hundred more yards from here. Keep running!"
"God, please protect Marie, aaargh!" could be heard as they neared the drop-off. Fifty yards, forty yards, thirty yards, twenty yards.
"Oh no!" Kasim cried, as a line of soldiers rode swiftly to block their route to escape.
"We can't surrender!" Lepant cried as he rushed forward, at a quicker pace, and dove through the blockade to freedom. Cold steel could be felt slicing through his thigh as he jumped, but then, he could feel himself tumble down a hill, and felt a chill as he rolled into a river. He soon saw Kasim tumbling down after him, as well as a few other soldiers. Lepant then began to feel faint. He was losing blood, fast.
"Oh my god, Lepant! You're bleeding!" Was the last he heard before he blacked out.
Kwanda bared his battle-axe, as he marched beside Sonya. It was an extremely hot day, and he removed his helmet and carried it at his side. He dampened a piece of cloth as he wiped sweat off his brow. He thought he heard the clashing of steel in the far distance, but it was probably just his imagination.
"It's nearing noon." Kwanda observed.
"Yes. We're supposed to send messengers to Jan and Kasim. Gwynn, take two of your swiftest riders and meet Kasim, he should be about fifteen miles to the south. Corporal Wineberg, take another two men and make haste to meet Jan several miles to the northeast. Tell him we've been marching for nearly four hours, and have seen nothing. Our troop will stop here for a break. If you don't report back within an hour, we will continue marching."
Gwynn and the corporal both led their two companions and set off.
Ronland sat in the throne room, laughing at the filthy servants groveling at his feet. He was enjoying every minute of it. He heard a thunderous boom as the doors swung open and crashed against the sturdy stone wall. He saw a monstrous figure walk angrily toward him.
"Sire, men calling themselves the Toran Army have declared war on Mooranjra!"
"The Republic of Toran, your highness." Braja said. "I believe that little lady you kidnapped lived there. Apparently they aren't too pleased."
"Hmmph. You, big fellow, what's your name?"
"Brorj, about how many men would you judge there to be?"
"Two thousand, possibly three thousand. But methinks that there are other armies."
"Great. Brorj, I will send five thousand men to go back with you. I'll have them waiting at the gates within the hour. Braja, tell Mulch and Gragh to take four thousand each and scour the eastern regions for the foreign army."
Lepant awoke to a pain in his calf muscle. He looked up to see Kasim wrapping a leather strap around his wound.
"Ow, it's too tight!"
"Lepant, you're awake."
"Loosen the bandage!"
"Right." Kasim kneeled down and undid the knot he had made. Some blood poured out before Kasim could tie the bandage again.
"How bad is it?" Lepant asked.
"Not too bad. The cut isn't too deep and is only about six or seven inches long. But I wouldn't advise you to walk for another twenty-four hours. It may be a few days until you can fight again, and probably a week or two before you can remove the bandage."
"Oh. Where are the other men?"
"Four soldiers made it through their barrier. One was dead when I got to him, two are wounded worse than you, and the last one I sent for help."
"How long have I been out?"
"About two minutes."
"Wow. Feels like two weeks. What injuries did the other two suffer?"
"Fortunately, neither of them were cut. But, I think bones are broken from the fall, and some serious bruises were inflicted. Which reminds me, I need to try and make some casts."
Kasim walked off to do his work.
"Why is it so hot?" Cleo complained as she marched with Jan's ranks.
"Because, Mooranjra is farther south, and closer to the equator, than Toran. They get more of the sun's rays than most countries." Milich responded.
Cleo and Milich both marched in the back row, for if they were ambushed from behind, quick action would need to be executed. Suddenly, the marching came to a halt.
"What's going?" Cleo asked.
"I think Jan is talking to either Kasim's or Sonya's messenger." Milich said. He was right.
"All is well in our ranks. General Shulen has ordered a break until I return." Wineberg said to Jan.
"We're going pretty smoothly, too. Have you received word from Kasim?"
"Not that I know of, sir."
"Alright. Hurry back to your lines, now."
"Yes, sir!" With that, the corporal and his two comrades rode off.
"What do you think was said?" Cleo asked Milich.
"Probably just checking in."
Soon, the marching started back up, and Cleo continued to complain about the heat.
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