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Revanchist

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  • Class: {{esusrinfo_class446539}}
    Level: {{esusrinfo_level446539}}
    Guild Name: {{esusrinfo_guild446539}}

    Revanchist

    "War is Hell." – said many people.

    Yet throughout his long and eventful career, Raven Cronwell had grown increasingly doubtful of that aphorism. There were times when he couldn't help contemplating whether such comparison was fair enough in the first place. Like that one time when Raven was forlornly gazing across a burning village, perhaps the sufferings that took place there were the final catalysts which made up his mind, helping Raven to sum his thoughts up succinctly:

    "War is not Hell, for in Hell the innocence is spared..."


    …The Crow Mercenary Knights Company was in process of pursuing the remnants of the enemy force, led by Captain Vilus, which they had decimated in battle previously. Because of an accident, they were forced to stop temporarily, and thanks to that the enemies managed to slip away. Later when Crow Mercenary Knights were searching for tracks left behind by the hostile force, they spotted columns of black smoke rising to the sky from afar, and decided to move there to investigate.

    Turned out that the smokes originated from a village which looked like it was raided recently, with bloody bodies of the dead civilians and their livestock scattered everywhere. A few survivors were crying in anguish next to the deceased people, and some tried to put out the fire in vain. Glancing down at the map of the area, Raven could tell that the village belonged to House Ilych – a close ally of House Cronwell.

    Not wasting even a minute, the Company rushed in to help the villagers. They searched for more survivors and healing the wounded. While they were extinguishing the fire, they couldn't help noticing that many valuable properties of the villagers were piled up outside and set aflame.

    The fact that almost everything that could be looted from the village was instead destroyed on-site puzzled Raven. Those didn't look like what bandits would do at all, as bandits would simply rob anything not nailed down instead.

    Raven immediately asked survivors about the raid and was answered that it was an army who did that to their village. Upon further investigations, the Company could identify the perpetrators of such atrocity – they were none other than the very enemies the Crow Mercenary Knights had been chasing…

    Raven was shocked to the core. He immediately ordered a small portion of his soldiers to stay and help the villagers, while he departed with the rest of his troops to chase down Vilus's army, based on the latest information given to them by the villagers…


    _ Sir, we have successfully encircled the enemies. Unfortunately, they have managed to reach a military outpost and then barricaded themselves inside said building. Should we negotiate and ask them to surrender?

    Raven looked toward the cannons of the Company – the things which indirectly caused them to lose tracks of the enemies and then arriving too late to save the village... He answered corporal Castor with a dangerous tone while his face was still looking downward:

    _ I will ask them… in Hell! Deploy and arrange all of the guns* around enemy's position, and order troops to immediately shoot down anyone who attempts to break out of the encirclement. Also immediately summon the rest of the units who are still in that village to regroup with our force here, we're going to need more troops to ensure that they won't be able to escape. There will be no quarter! I repeat, no quarter!

    Suddenly an idea came to Raven. He told the messenger who was about to depart to summon the rest of the army who were ordered to stay at the village previously:

    _ Tell the troops there to ask the survivors for information regarding the names of the ones who lost their lives because of the raid, all of them.

    …Shortly after, the soldiers who previously were ordered to stay behind had finally arrived, and the officer who was in charge of them handed Raven a scroll with the names of all of the deceased villagers.

    Raven then immediately told several literate soldiers to help him writing these names on the cannonballs, using chalks so that each cannonball would have a different name written on it. Meanwhile, their enemies were still holing up inside the outpost, wondering what Crow Mercenary Knights were doing, and when they would finally attack.

    When everything had been prepared, Raven ordered all of the cannons – five of them totally - to open fire simultaneously. Cannons were loaded with cannonballs which having names written on them, then all of them firing in a salvo, and then repeating.


    Vilus's army came to realization too late, that from the start, the Crow Mercenary Knights had never had any intention to assault the outpost they were defending. By that time they could only passively enduring and bracing themselves every time a new salvo discharging cannonballs at them. Here and there, walls were littered with cracks and holes, ceiling rumbling and dust falling down every time the deafening roars from multiple cannons firing at the same time, from multiple directions, could be heard. Here and there soldiers were thrown off balance and falling to the ground, some others were injured when being hit by splintered rocks and woods - a result of impacts delivered by cannonballs…

    Raven was standing and observing the whole time, eyes gazing at the outpost which was in process of being torn apart by the wrathful barrels of his army. Soon that site would become the collective grave of his enemies… Raven hoped that the souls of dead villagers would partially be appeased by doing so.

    Then suddenly there were movements. Vilus and his force couldn't endure any longer, they began to burst out of their defending positions, then attempting to break through the encirclement to escape.

    Immediately, Crow Mercenary's archers and crossbowmen - who had been waiting for just that - by then began to unleash everything they had at the enemies. Cavalry detachment also moved toward the position which the enemies tried to escape to, and then they stood ready to intercept them.

    Several enemy soldiers fell when they were hit by arrows and bolts, they couldn't even reach the lines of Crow Mercenary Knights Company. The entire hostile force was thrown into disarray, several of them decided that they had had enough, so they turned tails and running back to the outpost they had occupied previously. Then subsequently the rest of the enemy force had no choice other than following suit. Raven ordered his troops to not pursue them, and then the cannons resumed their bombardment of the building.

    After a while, the building was in a very bad shape. One-third of the ceilings had already collapsed, walls were punched through, leaving large holes which allowed people from outside to observe the people inside…


    Suddenly a large white flag could be seen being raised high above the roof of the building, wavering left and right. Then more white flags began to appear everywhere across the building. What they wanted was as clear as daylight.

    Owen Felford then ordered the artillerymen to stop firing their cannons. Raven Cronwell turned to him and asked:

    _ What do you think you are doing?

    Owen was surprised, he replied:

    _ Aren't we supposed to accept their non-conditional surrender and taking them as priso…

    Raven bluntly interrupted Owen:

    _ Did you forget that previously I have ordered that "there will be no quarter"?

    Owen frowned:

    _ But, but… captain, think of the ransoms which the families of our enemies would pay to buy their freedoms. Also, we have already won and at this point, you're just wasting cannonballs… Camp prefect Seris! What timing, as you can see, Raven didn't want to stop but I can't understand him at all!

    While Raven and Owen were arguing, Seris and other high ranking officers of the army joined them.

    _ Raven, they want to surrender, why don't we give them a chance?

    Raven lowered his voice while replying to Seris:

    _ Did they give those helpless villagers a chance when they were butchering their victims in cold blood?

    _ But the family of Vilus will pay us handsomely to have him back, he's a noble, dang it!

    Owen butted in.

    _ I think captain Cronwell is on the right here. The fact that he's a noble is the exact reason why he has to be punished much more severely compared to commoners. His actions have sullied the dignities of nobles in this country…

    Lieutenant Yves de Croix-Rivière also joined in the argument. She was a gallant and upright aristocrat who hailed from House Croix-Rivière.

    When his subordinates were arguing, Raven ordered the artillerymen to resume their bombardment:

    _ Keep firing at least until all of the cannonballs with names on them are expended.

    Some salvos later, the building occupied by the enemies looked like they were about to collapse for real. Soon there would be no one left...


    _ Cease firing immediately! I said STOP!

    Owen yelled for the artillerymen to stop. It looked like even someone like Owen couldn't keep his cool any longer, he drew his sword and used it to point at the barrel of a cannon:

    _ Can you see this? The barrels of the guns, they are overheated to the point that they're glowing! See, see? You want the guns to shoot until their barrels are hot enough to the point they are molten or something?!

    Raven shot a stare at Owen, but deep down he realized what Owen said was true. He was too carried away by his fury and frustrations, his fixation with exacting retribution on the evildoers had temporarily blinded him to the consequences of his actions.

    The battle fell into silence for a while, to the point that the sounds of birds chirping from afar could be heard. Raven Cronwell sat down for the first time since the battle began, and was temporarily lost in thoughts…

    Then the noises of shouting soldiers brought him back to reality. Something had happened, and as Raven was looking at the direction everyone was facing, he could see another pole being raised from the outpost occupied by his enemies. But this time instead of a white flag, there was something much smaller on the shaft of that pole, it looked like…

    …The head of the leader of his enemies, captain Vilus himself! For some reason, he was beheaded under the hands of his own men, his skull was attached to the top of the shaft and raised high in display.

    The soldiers of Crow Mercenary Knights Company burst out in laughter and cheering. Looked like Vilus's army had killed their commander as a tribute to their enemies in hope that they would be allowed to surrender and keeping their own lives.

    Raven heaved a sigh, then shook his head in disbelief and disgust. He was at a loss for words, having a goosebump and mild headache at the same time. Took him a couple of minutes until he was able to regain his senses, and only by then did he issue an order to capture the few enemies who were still alive at that point as prisoners.

    Then suddenly Raven felt a hand clapped on his shoulder, he turned sideward and saw the grinning face of corporal Castor:

    _ I approve of your actions, captain. Vilus died like a dog, in such a humiliating way like that. I know about Vilus, the same type of war crime he had committed at the village we passed by previously has in fact been done by him multiple times before. We simply can't afford to let him live, that monster won't hesitate to do that again has he been given a chance…

    Then Castor left, the grin was still on his face. Castor looked like he was in such a good mood, which was rare for someone like him. The same thing couldn't be said about Owen though, he went away immediately upon seeing Raven approaching from afar.


    At night, Raven Cronwell observed Castor interrogating some prisoners of war:

    _ Gentleman, I don't want to say much. I hope you will cooperate with us, and in turn, I can ensure that you will be allowed to go home in one piece, safe and sound. Grasped it yet?

    The prisoner nodded in a hurry, eyes blinking repeatedly to suppress his fears.

    Then Castor continued his interrogation, first started with some trivial questions. Then suddenly he stood up and knocked his fist on the table, created a large bang, then queried the prisoner with a loud voice:

    _ You better be honest, maggot! Why did Vilus raze down the whole village and butchered its inhabitants? What did you get from doing such a thing like that? I will give you five seconds to think before answering, or else!

    The prisoner was astonished and looked like he was about to jump out of his chair. He stuttered while trying to hide his face behind the backs of his hands:

    _ Sir, ple…please calm d-down. I-I w…was just following my orders. Vilus said that the village belonged to H-House Ilych, which was an adversary of his faction. The destruction of the village served the purpose of enacting the s-scorched earth strategy. If we destroy or pillage properties and m-manpower belonging to your side, then we can deny your side from utilizing them against us. Sir, please spare me, I have already known my crimes, I'm sorry, please…

    What the prisoner just uttered had already been deduced and partially anticipated by Raven - scorched earth. It was such a disgrace and dark aspect of warfare, when innocent bystanders, who merely wanted to live their lives, were harmed by the opposing side or even their own side, even though they didn't even directly participate in combat.

    Castor quickly stepped forward and grabbed him by the collars, then lifting him up:

    _ Is that all?

    The prisoner was scared, he instinctively grabbed Castor's writs while gasping and answering:

    _ S-sir, b-beside that… Vilus also had another reason for d-doing that. He was m-mad because your force had defeated and routed us, that was why he l-lashed out at those villagers… Ouch! Ow!...

    Castor let go of the prisoner's collars, but the prisoner couldn't keep balance and then fell to the floor.

    Upon hearing what was said, Raven quickly stood up and left. He felt as if a heavy burden was put on his shoulders, and he felt even more guilty at that point.

    Raven had been blaming himself for the deaths of those civilians.

    He argued, after all, it was because of his decision that slowed down the Crow Mercenary Knights Company when they were chasing after Vilus and his army. He insisted that the Company would take a shortcut route to catch up with their enemies sooner, but unfortunately, the route he chose had turned into a muddy trail thanks to raining weather. Humans, horses, and carts could still cross it, but the cannons were bogged down and immobilized.

    It took a lot of time and effort to pull all of the cannons out of the quagmires. Crown Mercenary Knights had no other option rather than turning back and taking the original route they were supposed to travel on before the previous detour…

    "If I didn't vanquish my enemies and routed them, or later on I didn't choose the wrong route, could be that all of those dead villagers were still alive at the moment…"


    With a sorrowful mood, Raven Cronwell wandered around aimlessly. Soldiers greeted him when coming across him, but he didn't pay any attention. When he was turning around a corner, suddenly he bumped into someone. The impact ended Raven's daze, and he could realize he had collided with Owen Felford…

    Both of them kept silent for a while, then Raven spoke first:

    _ Apologize me, did you hurt?

    But Owen kept silent. Raven continued:

    _ Are you still angry with me?

    _ No, how could I? It was totally my fault for daring to question your decision and arguing with you, Mr. Infallible…

    Owen didn't even try to conceal the sarcasm in his reply.

    Raven was in a sullen mood, his mind was off-balance, and Owen's passive-aggressive answer drove him over the edge. He scowled while speaking:

    _ You don't understand, Vilus is a vile piece of work, many have fallen victims to his scorched-earth strategy. Ransoming him would allow him to come back later and continuing that kind of atrocity.

    _ Why should I care? That's none of our business. We could have gained a very large amount of money if we ransomed him and his subordinates. But thanks to you, not only we have lost the amount money we could have gained from ransoming Vilus, but also the amount of money we could get by ransoming a large percentage of his subordinates who would still be alive had we accepted their surrender sooner.

    _ Innocent bystanders died, does that fact mean nothing to you?

    Raven tried his best to restrain himself while clenching his hands. The last thing he wanted to hear from Owen was that his best friend letting him down by valuing money more than human lives.

    Owen Felford suddenly came back to his senses, and in an attempt to conceal his true colors, he tried to shift the blame to Raven:

    _ What about ah… uhm… the enemy soldiers died when you ordered the guns to continue shooting even though they wanted to surrender?

    _ You want a reason? How about three instead? Firstly, they were the ones who committed crimes first. Secondly, they were combatants and not civilians, I could have always explained that I suspected they faked surrendering to lure us in and then attacking instead. And thirdly, in war, there is a rule called "no quarter", which specifies that if the defending side in a siege didn't surrender when breaches had been inflicted on their fortifications and walls, and kept continuing their defend beyond that point, then the attacking side would be allowed to give "no quarter" to the units of the defending side, which means we weren't required to take them as prisoners. As you can see, they stubbornly defending the outpost even when breaches had already been created, and later even attempted to sally out and breaking through our encirclement. Hence we were allowed to give them "no quarter".

    Owen was at a loss for words. He didn't expect that Raven would be able to come up with that retort. Owen then piped down and left, leaving Raven who went back to continue brooding alone again.

    Notes:

    *In military terminology, cannons are called guns.

    The meanings of the title of this work, "Revanchist":


    _ One who advocates or fights for the recovery of lost territory or status, one who advocates a policy of or relating to a revanche (French for revenge).

    Source:
    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/revanchist

    ==========================

    That's all, thanks for reading my work, and if you feel generous t=hen please give me your feedback.
    Last edited by Tyrannicide-solace-; 03-27-2020, 11:08 PM.
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