Hannibal watched the movements of the Ashtaroth army from afar.
The Ashtaroth army had chosen the defense in depth formation.
“Of course, they did.”
All they had to do now was buy time. If their other army succeeded in defeating Queen Alioshe, then all would be well for them.
He would do the same if he was Ashtaroth. And so while he was not annoyed, he did feel a little frantic.
Alesha’s mother, Alioshe, could die at any time.
She could die right this second, and the whole army would collapse.
That would be bad. Hannibal had grown oddly attached to his monstrous subordinates. Unlike the ones that worked under Alioshe directly, Hannibal’s ants did not eat humans. And Alesha was like a daughter to him.
To think that both would disappear if Alioshe were to die. His heart felt pain.
He wanted to avoid this no matter what. But Alioshe was too much a fool. Her immense greed caused her to antagonize all of their neighbors, and so they were fighting on multiple sides.
“A shallow, foolish queen.”
It was a miracle that a saintly person like Alesha had been born from such an avaricious queen.
When he looked, he saw that she was tending to the wounds of his ant subordinates. She was using healing magic.
She had not slept at all since yesterday. No, since the battle began. She would not stay quietly underground, and was constantly commanding the medical units.
Not only that, but her mercy didn’t just extend to their ants and human soldiers, but the surrendered enemy soldiers as well. It did not matter if they were friend or foe. She treated the badly wounded first.
This kindness was enough to stir the once cold heart of an old man.
Hannibal looked at Alesha as if she were his own granddaughter, and thought back on the time that they had first met.
The day that she risked her life in order to summon him. That day, she had also worked hard to nurse him back to health. Hannibal had been summoned the same moment that an enemy soldier had stabbed him with a spear in his own world. It was the very second that he was about to die.
After being betrayed by friends from his homeland and being captured by a foreign king, Hannibal had lost the will to live. And it was then that Alesha enveloped him gently.
For the rest of his life, he would not forget that moment. He remembered it like it was yesterday. That was why he fought so desperately now.
After thinking about all of this again, he began to talk to the old man who was next to him.
This old man wore a fox mask. He was also from the same world as Hannibal, but he never showed his true face. Hannibal didn’t even know his name.
However, he could trust this old man more than anyone. Because he was another person who had become enchanted by Alesha, and swung his sword for her.
So they were comrades.
And so he spoke to him. Quietly, so that no one else could hear.
“I think we may lose this battle.”
But the old man in the fox mask did not reply. He was not angry. He just looked at Hannibal through the mask.
“If this continues, Alioshe will be killed.”
“…However, you are going to prevent that, aren’t you?”
“Aye. I will launch a desperate attack now. I will go out to the frontline and break the enemy formation.”
“That is impossible. Even the best general would not be able to break through their defenses.”
“Except Hannibal Barca. Who do you think I am?”
Hannibal laughed mischievously.
“Listen. I will open up a bloody path. In the meantime, you take Princess Alesha up north. Save Alioshe. And then you can return underground for a while and recover our fighting force. And when that is done, take authority and crown Alesha as queen. Then they should be able to live in peace underground.”
“What? You are talking as if you are leaving everything to me.”
“I am. Because I will die here. Besides, I have no choice but to put my life on the line in order to beat this Ashtaroth youngster.”
“Surely you wouldn’t lose to that fledgling.”
“He may be a fledgling, but he is a dragon fledgling. I have no idea what kind of commander he will grow into in the future.”
“Then you should live and watch.”
“That is your job. Now, we are wasting time arguing here. If you waste any more of my time, I will cut off your legs.”
Hannibal said jokingly, but the old man with the mask seemed to recognize that he had no choice.
He muttered. Then he took off his mask.
And said his name.
“My name is Nagakura…Nagakura Shinpachi. I was born in a place called Emishi in Hinomoto. I’m a petty samurai. While it was only for a short while, I am proud that I was able to fight under your command.”
“And I am proud to have had a subordinate like you.”
Hannibal said with much emotion, and then they shook hands.
That would be the first and last time they did that.
Nagakura Shinpachi turned away from Hannibal, and explained to Alesha that they had to go north.
Hannibal would open a path so that Nagakura could escape. And so he made his army form an arrowhead formation, and they charged into the Ashtaroth army.
But the defense in depth formation was strong against offensive formations like this. It would take away all the momentum that was born from that formation.
However, Hannibal ignored such logic and continued to charge.
Five times a day, the desperate charges continued until the Ashtaroth army started to weaken, and their formation was broken. And the mounted soldiers led by Nagakura rode through, successfully moving up north.
Upon seeing this, Ashtaroth groaned at Hannibal’s leadership. But he would do more than just watch. Because it was clear what Hannibal intended to do.
“He’s sending them north in order to save Alioshe. If it were anyone else, I would say that sending one small army would not change anything. Toshizou, take your men and chase after them.”
Toshizou said happily. Because he had seen a familiar face leading the cavalry unit. It was the old man that he had drunk with yesterday. The one he had fought alongside against Sacho’s dogs.
And so Toshizou took the cavalry from the Ashtaroth army and left in order to chase the enemy.
This meant that Ashtaroth had to fight Hannibal without the help of any Heroes. It reminded him of how he felt when he was first born.
But when he said this to Eve, she replied,
“Then you will surely win. A newborn babe and a dying old man. The gods will surely favor you.”
“I hope that is the case.”
I muttered vaguely. Of course, I had no intention of losing. The enemy was tired after so much charging. And so now was the time for us to attack.