Chapter 1403: Backup Party
Translator: Sean88888 Editor: Elkassar1
To handle enemy cavalry, the first thing that had to be done was naturally to dig trenches. The trenches did not have to be too deep – a foot would suffice – but they must be numerous. They were the things cavalry hated the most. If the situation did not permit, then digging holes worked too.
To dig holes was actually more simple. The soil of the fertile Pelennor Fields was moist and compact. Find any shovel, stab it into the ground at an angle of 70 to 80 degrees, pull it out with force, and it would scoop the earth up, leaving behind a pit about 30cm deep. If a horse’s hoof dropped into the pit in the middle of a gallop, the horse’s foot would surely break due to the terrifying forward inertia of the sprint.
Such hard labour was, of course, left to the Orcs labourers. Moreover, considering how famous the battle of the Rohirrim cavalry on Pelennor Fields was, Jax was naturally prepared for it. Everyone knew that the charge of an entire host of cavalry was deadly, but they also knew that if the cavalry were forced to slow down, they would not be much stronger than infantry.
What’s more, Sauron’s army had also made preparations to counter these reinforcements that were, truthfully, not unexpected, in the form of the Oliphaunt army of the Haradrim from the south. So long as the infantry could hang on for a short period of time, these monstrous southern beasts would be able to easily destroy the cavalry’s charging formation!
Sheyan and his party members gathered to tally the contribution points they had.
Sheyan did nothing but sleep last night, but thanks to his prestige in the party, everyone still handed in all the contribution points they had gained without secretly keeping any for personal use. The only funny thing was that Aldaris actually traded his contribution points to Zi with an indignant snort, letting Zi hand them in together with hers. He used such an obvious, roundabout way to show that he was still Zi’s supporter and not Sheyan’s subordinate.
Party Ace initially had nearly 1300 contribution points, but after the emergency meeting held by Jax, they knew that they were currently in a dire situation, and a loss in the war would be terrible news for them too, so in consideration of the overall situation, they contributed 1000 contribution points to the alliance.
Of course, these 1000 contribution points were not given for free. Together with over 800 points given by another party, they had redeemed a heavy trebuchet. All contribution points generated by the heavy trebuchet would be distributed back to the two parties in a 6:4 ratio.
However, the heavy trebuchets mainly targeted the city walls and had very high damage rate, so it was hard, almost impossible, to earn back the investment in them. They were like the military weapons of a country. Most of the time, they were costly and would not provide any financial gain, but a country could not do without them. A trebuchet could get lucky and kill some bigwigs like Pippin, of course, but the chances were so slim that it was no different from winning the lottery.
Party Ace had invested 1000 points but only got back less than 500 points in return. It was a loss which they had no choice but to bear as one of the backbone parties. If they did not, their side would have no chance to breach the city. Fortunately, after a night’s hard work, Party Ace had earned back more than 1100 points, so they now had a total of over 1500 points.
1100 points did not sound like a lot for one night of battle, but it was actually already quite considerable. Based on the exchange rate, this amount of points was equivalent to killing more than 1100 ordinary Minas Tirith defenders! Don’t forget that the opponent had the terrain advantage. If they could not be immediately killed, they would often be rescued away by their comrades. Moreover, when the soldiers that were hired by enemy contestants were killed, they only gave half the normal contribution points.
Sheyan proposed that they use the 1500 contribution points to redeem the three Trolls who were willingly following their party – Black-Ear, Big-Nose and Limp. The normal price of a Troll was 380 contribution points, but to specify the Trolls to redeem in this way would surely incur additional costs.
But the Trolls redeemed in the normal way were all ordinary Trolls, and they would start with zero experience points. On the other hand, who was Sanzi? A professional summoner. He had already found out all the detailed stats of Black-Ear, Big-Nose and Limp.
First, they had their own names. Just as the generals in the LOTR story who had their own names were undoubtedly stronger than those without, so were the Trolls. Specifically, their base attributes were about 10-15% superior to the redeemable ordinary Trolls.
Second, these three Trolls were experienced, tried-and-tested soldiers. Black-Ear had the most experience in war, Big-Nose had the highest Strength, while Limp had the most MP. In fact, Black-Ear was already on the verge of evolving – in other words, his experience bar was already over 95%. Big-Nose and Limp were not far behind either, the progress of both having already exceeded 80%.
In the end, for the sake of hiring the three Trolls, Party Ace paid more than 1200 contribution points! And that was the the price after a 30% discount thanks to Sheyan’s Legend Level +3! But of course, you get what you pay for. After the three Trolls put on the horrifying armours specifically made for their species, they looked as imposing as three blocks of steel monsters. The maces in their hands gleamed black and frightening.
What’s more, because they have higher base attributes than ordinary Trolls, they were able to sustain the additional weight of the Earth Shield that Kulutego bestowed on them while fighting in full armour. In addition, three basin-sized rocks were rotating slowly around their bodies like moons orbiting a planet, providing them with additional protection. They could even control these rocks with their minds and fling them at the enemy!
When all the preparations had been made, it was time to choose the party’s position on the battlefield. This was of the utmost importance.
Although the Pelennor Fields was a plain, there was a slope on its western side which extended for more than ten miles. The Rohirrim cavalry would no doubt be tired after travelling over such a long distance, so unless the commander’s brain was filled with mud, the cavalry would surely attack from the west, taking advantage of the slope to boost their momentum.
The Orc slaves and labourers had unshakeable faith, so their morale would only collapse under the most extreme of circumstances. Therefore, they were perfect as front line cannon fodder.
Although the contestants on Sauron’s side had already laid down a large number of traps, the elite Rohirrim cavalry led by King Théoden, which galloped unhindered across Middle Earth, would surely not be so easily dealt with, so the cannon fodder’s purpose was only to slow down the cavalry with their body. After the cavalry’s momentum was halted, what awaited them would be the ferocious counter attack of the real army of Orc and Uruk-hai!
If the numerous pits for the horses were considered the first line of defence, then the Orc slaves and labourers were the second line of defence. As the military stratagem goes, the first drumming raises their fighting spirits, the second weakens them, while the third absolutely devitalises them. After being worn down by the first two lines of defence, the cavalry would then have to fight a deadly battle with the main force of Sauron’s army. No matter how powerful they were, they would surely be contained.
Therefore, nearly 90% of the contestants had chosen to position themselves slightly behind the main force of Sauron’s army. The golden spot right behind the main force was especially sought after. As the contestants saw it, the main force of Sauron’s army was like a big sponge which would completely absorb the impact of the cavalry. After that, it would be the contestants’ turn to jump into the harvest.
But after repeated deliberation, Sheyan actually chose a spot that was nearly as far east on the battlefield as possible. Their party’s position was so far away from the west that they were already quite close to the Source of Darkness hall. Party Ace were hence ridiculed as the “backup party” by the rest of the alliance. Many people gave Reef strange looks; he was unfortunately the one who had to bear the blame for Sheyan’s decision. That caused Reef to keep giving Sheyan resentful looks in return.
But Zeus and Skull thought differently when they found out of Party Ace’s baffling decision. They knew what a monster Sheyan was. As a result, they could not help moving their parties’ positions, which were originally quite close to the frontline, a little more to the back. The vacant spots they left behind were filled up almost immediately.
The air was heavy; not a gust of wind could be felt.
Even the Minas Tirith defenders had suspended their attack because the dark side had stopped attacking and had withdrawn from their range. However, by this time, Minas Tirith defenders were already a spent force – even the contestants were exhausted – and could only defend by relying on the terrain advantage. They had no more capability of launching an attack on Sauron’s army and pincering them from both sides, and could only watch from the walls.
A black line suddenly appeared in the western horizon.
A black line, like the tide.
The grave blast of a horn traveled through the air. The horn sounded faint because it came from more than ten miles away, yet it was not weak at all. It reminded one of galloping horses, and the determination to die on the battlefield!
The one who blew the horn was no doubt King Theoden’s flag bearer. The Great Horn was fashioned by Vorondil from a horn of the Kine of Araw. The mouth of the great horn was inlaid with silver and engraved with ancient runes. This horn was equipped with a long belt which enabled it to be slung over the shoulder. The sound of the horn was clear and long, and those who heard it would be buffed by the three magic spells of ‘Bull’s Strength’, ‘Bless’, and ‘Wind’s Grace’.
The cavalry spread out several kilometres long on the top of the gentle slope in the distance. A man in golden helmet and armour rode forward, unsheathed his sword, and galloped across the front of the cavalry formation while striking his dazzling sword against the spears raised by the cavalry host. He was King Theoden of Rohan! A murderous intent instantly burst forth from the entire cavalry host. Even from so far away, it almost smothered the breath and heartbeat of Sauron’s soldiers!
Straightway all the horns in the host were lifted up in music, and the blowing of the horns of Rohan in that hour was like a storm upon the plain and a thunder in the mountains!
“Ride now, ride now, ride! Ride for ruin and the world’s ending!”
“Death! Death! Death!” cried King Theoden.
He shouted alone at first, but it was soon answered by hundreds, thousands, all the way to the entire host!
(King Théoden’s epic battle speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POdknqszMDY )
And with that, the cavalry of Rohan charged down the slope like a rushing tide!!!