Chapter 108 Echo (Part 1)
The Months of the Demons had already ended two weeks ago, and the snow has finally turned into streams which ran into the Redwater River.
The spotlessly white landscape slowly faded away, and the trees on both sides began to sprout again, becoming green once more.
The land to the east of Border Town was the land Anna that had already cleared of trees and snow, and because of this it had now been turned by His Highness into the temporary practice ground for the First Army.
At the practice ground, Carter was holding a gun and checking if the bayonet was securely installed.
This was the newest invention of His Highness, but compared to the automatic operating machine and the modified snow powder, this new invention seemed to be a little too simple. The moment he had for the first time taken the new weapon into his hands, Carter knew almost immediately that it wasn’t a qualified weapon.
In short, it was just a sharp iron triangle, with the middle line as the base, which had two small iron pieces pointing downwards. Although it had a sharp edge, it was absolutely impossible to slash with the weapon – the blade was just too short, if it had to bend, it would immediately break. It had hardly any tip to speak of while the other end was only around a thumb thick. Even if he was able to attack an enemy, if he tried to slash out horizontally, Carter couldn’t say whether he would even be able to cut apart the enemy’s clothes.
This weapon had only one use, and that was, stabbing. And before it could even be used it still had to be connected to the gun. Used by itself, even a dagger would be a better weapon.
In the eyes of the knight, it was totally unqualified to be used as a weapon and a big waste of pig iron to create such weapon with only one type of attack. If a blacksmith within his territory had dared to create such a weapon, he would have tied the man and given him one fierce beating.
But even if it was such a bad weapon, Carter could still see His Highness originality and his passion for the all of the details. For example, the design for the connection between the gun and the bayonet. The mouth of the barrel had two grooves with a right angle at its end, as long as the two small iron pieces at the bayonet were fitted into the grooves and the bayonet was turned half around the barrel then the bayonet would become fixed. Thanks to this concept the grooves and the iron pieces didn’t need to fit perfectly, if they were a little too loose, the gunner could just insert some pieces of paper between the two iron pieces and the grooves, and when it fitted better, only then should he rotate the bayonet. In the case that they didn’t have any papers, tree leaves would also be okay.
“Put the bayonet on the gun!”
When they heard the keyword, the gunning team took out the bayonet from their bag, and put it on the gun’s barrel – until now they had only been able to produce forty of the new weapons and their supporting bags. So the soldier who didn’t receive the new weapons had to put a short stick on their guns.
This kind of action was almost trained through the whole morning, and now most soldier only needed to adjust the bayonet two to three times until it was fixed. According to His Highness’ words, the bayonet should only be used as a last resort. He didn’t want his men to start a close combat attack on their own with the bayonet. Carter disagreed with this statement, as long as a man didn’t personally stab a weapon into an enemy, they would still be considered as children. Only if they saw their first blood, would they transform from ordinary miners and hunters into soldiers.
Iron Axe also stood among the ranks of trainees. Although he had previous claimed to only be a hunter, but from his skills Carter could see, that the man had absolutely received special combat training before. His skills weren’t any worse than the skills of any other knight.
His Royal Highness had asked Carter to teach the soldiers how to use the new weapon correctly. Having received this order, Carter felt a little guilty. The bayonet was a kind of weapon he had never seen before, so it was impossible that he couldn’t know how to use it.
However, after seeing the prototype, Carter was once more immediately filled with confidence. After all, the bayonet was nothing other than the equivalent of a short spear. In addition, due to its special blade, it was much easier to use than the pike.
Due to its unique blade design, the bayonet training method has also become very special. They didn’t need to learn how to split, lift, block or sweep with the bayonet, they only had to train one move, stabbing. So the knight let all the soldiers line up and then began to teach them the most suitable method for stabbing – placing one foot before the other, bending the knees and then pushing their arms forward with their maximum amount of power.
This kind of repetitive training method was extremely boring. So Carter was amazed that everyone was so meticulously completing this kind of training exercise. Before the winter they were all still a bunch of weak and lazy civilians, but now they behaved like a decent group of trainees. When Carter shouted a command they would immediately take action, and he had to acknowledge that they even put more effort into the training than the squires he had previously trained. Of course, if he were to give them a sword, or to say it using the words of His Royal Highness, if he gave them “cold weapons”, he would still be able to defeat them with a stick in a mere three strokes. But in terms of their willpower, their progress is already worthy of acknowledgement.
After an hour of training, Carter let the gun team sit down and gave them a break. At this moment His Royal Highness the Prince also showed up on the practice ground, followed by a woman who was wearing a hood. This didn’t take the Knight by surprise. Previously, at the beginning of the training, His Royal Highness had informed him in advance, that during today’s practice they would be assisted by a witch.
However, Carter hadn’t known that the witch would be so tall, as far as he could determine it with his eyes, she was almost as high as His Highness. But nevertheless she is still exquisite and good looking, Carter thought. Then he came back from his thought and let the soldiers stand up, allowing them to greet the 4th Prince with a salute.
“Your Highness!” The soldiers shouted and raised their hands.
“Thank you for your effort,” receiving their greeting Roland nodded, and walked around since he also wanted to speak with just Carter alone. But at this moment a soldier suddenly rushed in the direction of the Prince. Discovering this Carter frowned, placed his hand on the hilt of his sword and took a step forward, placing the Prince behind himself. Nightingale had been even faster to react, her hand appeared out of the fog and grabbed Roland’s arm. As long as the situation turned out to go even slightly wrong, she would be able to pull the Prince into the fog.
But then they discovered that the person was rushing out was actually Iron Axe.
And even more, he didn’t run to the Prince, but instead to the unknown witch, immediately falling down to his knees in front of her. Not the Kingdom’s normal kneeling on one knee, no, he threw his whole body flat on the ground, with his head deeply buried between his arms, “My Clan Leader!”
With this, the training of the gun team came to a forced break.
“First tell me, what’s going on?”
Back in the Castle Hall, Carter, Echo, and Iron Axe stood in a row, while Roland sat at the Lord position, he asked clearly dissatisfied.
Discipline, you have to always maintain discipline! This is one of the most important rules within the militia and now the army should also have the same iron discipline! Not to speak about seeing the Clan Leader, even if you were to see the King you shouldn’t move even a toe out of line. This is the only requirement, there will be always time to report later.
From the beginning on Roland had a very good impression of Iron Axe, but with his action of today, he could only sigh. So his final analysis was, it seemed that his inner cultural quality wasn’t able to keep up with his practical talents, he clearly hadn’t understood the meaning of the word discipline.
“Your Royal Highness,” Iron Axe couldn’t help himself to wait any longer. He wanted to kneel down, showing his regret. But when he was already halfway down on his knee, he was stopped by Roland.
“Stand straight and speak!”
‘Yes!” Iron Axe swallowed nervously, and then began to speak, “I grew up in Ironsand City and vowed my loyalty and devotion to the Osha Clan and the new Clan Leader Silver Moon.”
“No, Kabago, I am not the Clan Leader…” Echo quickly disagreed.
“No, you are,” Iron Axe retorted, “Your father and brother already died, in accordance with the Osha custom, from the moment of their death you became the Clan Leader of our Osha Clan. When I heard that you were sold to the Port of Clearwater I immediately went there, but I was unable to find you, I thought that you had … died.
“But I -”
Roland interrupted Echo, “One by one, first let Iron Axe finish his story.”
“I will obey you until the end of my life, Your Highness.”
The story wasn’t complicated; Roland was quickly able to understand the general idea behind what happened.
Echo was originally a member of the Ironsand City’s Osha Clan. Her former name was Silver Moon, and her father had been the Clan Leader of the Osha Clan.
The people of Sand Nation didn’t have an easy life. Ironsand City was only able to accommodate a limited population, so every three years, each clan had to take part in the sacred duel, and the six clans who won would receive the right to live in the city, while the other clans either lived outside of the city, or went together to the Green Sea. These places were dangerous places to live, although they offered water, but the demonic beasts and sandstorms would cause a great threat to the Sandpeople. So during each Sacred Duel, the warriors of various clan would spare no effort in order to win.