Pivot of the Sky

Chapter 216: The time of God’s descent

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Sennachi’s latest order was for Faust and Naqia to go quietly to Enlil City in the Plains of Duc, while he himself remained in the occupied cities of the Kingdom of Bablon, now the newest territories of the Kingdom of Assyria, enjoying the achievement and pleasure of a conqueror. By this time, the Bablon Kingdom had already ceded its land and submitted to Sennachi, and the war in its territory had subsided, and the second phase of the war between the kingdoms was largely over.

The biggest loser of this war was of course the Kingdom of Bablon, but the biggest winner was a god – Enlil!

Both Assyria and Hittite believed in Enlil as the king of the gods, and they opened up new territories, built their shrines there, and ruled in the name of the gods, representing the expansion of the priestly nobility and the power of the shrine. Enlil’s divine realm was getting wider and wider, while Marduc was losing every day. This was not a direct encounter between the two great gods, but the result of an earthly war.

In a sense, the Assyrian kingdom was the most important pawn in Enlil’s hands. Sennachi’s ambitions and Faust’s strategic planning were more or less guided by this deity, and many of their ideas and wishes were even directly related to Enlil’s oracles. For example, when Sennachi had just ascended the throne, Enlil sent down an oracle saying that he would become the great monarch of the continent and suggested what he should do.

When the fierce war in the Kingdom of Bablon gradually subsided, this chaos of the kingdoms entered the third stage. The ambition of Sennachi was ignited, and his goal was again to target the Plains of Duc. Having already established the strategic base of Enlil City, the next step was to break the city of Salem and obtain the trade routes of the Charcoal Marsh.

Sennachi’s conservative plan was to share this thousand kilometers of fertile land with the Hittite Kingdom, but the best plan was to completely occupy the entire Plains of Duc. If this goal was achieved, the Assyrian kingdom would be at the height of its power on the continent and Sennachi would be the greatest monarch of all time!

Sennachi’s sending of Faust and Naqia to Enlil City quietly was in fact also hinted at by Enlil. This great god predicted the future situation of the Plains of Duc based on the development of the battle and the comparison of the forces of each side, and his own guidance became part of this prophecy.

Aesop did not know at first that his opponent had changed and that it was no longer the warrior Felix who held the military and political power in Enlil City, but Faust who was the mastermind. Faust did not reveal his strategic intentions at first, nor did he show himself openly, but was secretly strengthening the power of Enlil City, and on the surface even showed deliberate weakness in several small conflicts.

Through the conquest of the Kingdom of Bablon, the Assyrian Kingdom captured a large number of people into slavery, which Faust used to solve the most difficult logistical problems. He gave these slaves a way of life or hope, and as long as they could transport enough production and strategic supplies across the Syah Plateau to Enlil City, they would be free and become inhabitants of the city, and they would be given a piece of land for their future achievements in battle.

The Syah Plateau was cold and treacherous, and the logistics of supplying men and materials were very costly, but with such a policy, the captive slaves would be able to sell their lives. The Giant Legion had been fully assembled, and an even larger reserve army had arrived in Enlil City as civilians, stockpiling supplies and building weapons.

News of King Sennachi’s conquest of Bablon had reached Enlil City, and many of the warriors who fought in that battle had become the kingdom’s emerging nobility, owning large tracts of land and large numbers of slaves. This made the soldiers in Enlil City, who had not achieved any success so far, both envious and expectant, and they were eagerly looking forward to breaking the city of Salem and becoming the new noblemen of the Plains of Duc.

The Kingdom of Bablon offered its submission to the Assyrian kingdom, which was very similar to the submission of the Hittite kingdom to the Ejypt Empire, except that it did not build a shrine for Enlil in all the cities of the country, and Sennachi then called himself the Great Emperor of Assyria.

Aesop and others more or less realized that the situation in Enlil City was not right, but at this time there was another more important thing that attracted everyone’s attention, and it was the latest situation between the Assyrian Empire, the Kingdom of Bablon, and the Kingdom of Hittite. While Faust was secretly plotting in Enlil City, the war in the Kingdom of Bablon had completely subsided, and Great Emperor Sennachi sent an emissary to the Hittite capital to talk with King Asher about an alliance.

If Sennachi had not suddenly attacked Bablon from the northeast, the Hittite kingdom would not have won the war on the western front, so Asher was a direct beneficiary. Previously, the two kings had already sent messengers to congratulate each other on their respective victories. Now that Assyria and Hittite had each gained something, Sennachi made another proposal in order to consolidate the war.

First, he proposed to form an alliance between the two countries, to strengthen cooperation in commerce and trade, and to repatriate escaped slaves to each other. In addition, Sennachi also mentioned the issue of the Plains of Duc and proposed to divide the Plains of Duc equally between the north and the south, so that this thousand kilometers of fertile land would become the new border between the two countries.

In Sennachi’s proposal, Enlil City in the northernmost part of the Plains of Duc and the city of Salem in the central northern part were the territory of the Assyrian Kingdom, while the cities in the south, Meso and Budamia, were, of course, the territory of the Hittite Kingdom, and also included a large uncultivated area, both much larger than the existing territory controlled by the two countries. From the current situation, this proposal was beneficial to both sides.

However, there was one problem that Sennachi deliberately did not mention. He included the sphere of influence controlled by the city of Salem into the territory of the Assyrian kingdom, in order to test the attitude of the Hittite kingdom. The Hittite King Asher apparently did not want to turn against the currently powerful Assyrian Empire, so he sent a messenger with an interesting reply.

He expressed his hope to Sennachi that the two countries would form a friendly alliance, and at the same time, he also played along and addressed Sennachi as Great Emperor of Assyria. But he also mentioned in his letter that he had named Amon as Prince of Salem and that the 200-mile radius around Salem was the territory of the Prince of Salem, which belonged to God Amon! If the will of God Amon made the city of Salem submit to the Assyrian Empire, Hittite would not stop it.

On the surface, the Kingdom of Hittite did not oppose the drawing of the border between the north and the south but stated clearly that it was not up to the two kingdoms to decide where the city of Salem belonged to, it was up to the people of Salem to make their own choice.

The Hittite kingdom has just occupied the city of Budamia and the west bank of the Euphrates River, and the newly established city of Meso was still waiting to be developed, so it was wise to establish a firm foothold in the southern part of the Plains of Duc before expanding further. However, both Asher and Sennachi knew in their hearts that the two countries might clash in the future on the Plains of Duc, depending on whose ambition was greater and whose power was stronger.

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For the time being, the city of Salem was a barrier and a nail in the coffin between the spheres of influence controlled by the two countries. King Asher was happy to see Salem in a deadly conflict with the Assyrian Empire since this would allow him to consolidate his operations in the southern part of the Plains of Duc, so he took a wait-and-see attitude, not directly supporting them militarily, but not stopping civilian trade and supplies either.

The outbreak of a larger war between Salem and Enlil City was initiated by the city of Salem, as Idu finally sensed the seriousness of the situation. Faust’s covert accumulation of strength, even if it was hidden, could not be without traces, and when Idu flew in the sky to check on Enlil City, he detected two anomalies.

One was the obvious increase in the number of people crossing the Syah Plateau, which used to be regular logistical personnel, but now there were more and more ordinary immigrants coming in groups, many of whom froze to death or even fell to their death on the small paths of the plateau, but many more had managed to reach Enlil City. Secondly, Enlil City had opened several new iron mines in the foothills of the plateau, and most of these new arrivals were smelting fine iron.

Therefore, even though Salem was growing rapidly in the past two years, the strength of Enlil City was also not staying constant as one might think. If Sennachi was free to attack the Plains of Duc after the conquest of Bablon Kingdom was over, Salem would be placed in a very passive state. It was time for a real battle, and if Enlil City was defeated and the Syah Plateau’s routes were controlled, Salem’s position would be completely consolidated.

Idu also met with danger once when he was in the middle of a surveillance flight, and he had been attacked suddenly by several shuttles above the Syah Plateau. He immediately escaped without making any moves, and it was later that he found out that the Sage Advisor of Assyria, Faust, had arrived in Enlil City.

Idu and Aesop and others were discussing countermeasures when something happened again in the Charcoal Marsh’s trade route. A caravan was intercepted and killed, and a large number of supplies were destroyed and abandoned in the swamp. There were only two entrances to the Charcoal Marsh, which were in the hands of the city of Syah and the city of Salem, so it was difficult for anyone who was not an expert to cross the swamp and ambush the merchants.

“Swamp Goddess” El Mar was ordered to investigate and she found that it was the work of Enlil City, and someone had disguised as a merchant caravan and entered the trade route with combat supplies. Since Salem needed combat supplies, it also bought weapons from the outside world. But after entering the Charcoal Marsh, these people found a suitable place to leave the trade route halfway and set up an ambush.

Instead of attacking the official logistical supplies delivered by the Hittite Kingdom, they attacked a civilian caravan doing business with Salem and then retreated back into the depths of the swamp to hide. El Mar found them in the swamp and captured all of them for interrogation before she found out that they were spies sent by Enlil City to attack the logistics supply line of Salem.

Now that the Kingdom of Hittite had occupied the city of Budamia and opened up shipping lanes on the north and south shores of the inland lake, the commercial route in the Charcoal Marsh was not as important to the expeditionary force as it was at the beginning, but for Salem, it was still an essential route to secure. So El Mar was ordered to be stationed in the Charcoal Marsh and to strengthen the military strength of the stations on the trade route.

The accident on the trade route made Aesop realize that he could no longer wait passively, and with no news from God Amon, the city of Salem had to decide for itself how to solve the dilemma. At that moment, another skirmish broke out between the two cities, and Hardedef led a team of rangers to defeat a small force of the Giant Legion that tried to start a dispute.

Idu took advantage of the situation to expand the scale of the battle, leading the Salem Legion on the offensive. The city of Salem was now far stronger than it had been in the past, with a full legion of 5,000 warriors and dozens of mages, who were usually engaged in farming and drills, and who could be assembled to charge at the frontlines in a war.

Idu’s strategy was simple and practical, and the first step was to take advantage of the onset of winter to attack the fields outside of Enlil City so that the enemy could not obtain food supplies from their home ground. The second step was to bypass the fortified city and cut off the route from the Syah Plateau into the Plains of Duc, preventing reinforcements to Enlil City. The third step was to encircle the foot of the plateau, attack the mines, and eliminate the outer strongholds. The fourth and final step was to siege the isolated Enlil City, not by making strong attacks, but by trapping the city and making a war of attrition.

With the Syah Plateau cut off and the fields and mines outside the city disrupted, there was no need to fight, as Enlil City would have to surrender sooner or later. Idu knew that if they attacked the city head-on they would incur a great cost as the Giant Legion had powerful offensive and defensive equipment, but if the Giant Legion could be lured out of the city to do battle, it would be the result that Idu wanted to see.

The first wave of attack was won by Salem, and the inhabitants of Enlil City, who were farming outside the city, fled into the city when they saw the Salem Legion arriving in force. Idu himself set up a line of defense between the two fortresses to meet them and ordered Hardedef to lead the vanguard around the city to attack the pass at the foot of the Syah Plateau, while Enlil City finally met them in battle.

The Giant Legion sent forward commander Jufie to lead the chariots, clashing in a chaotic battle with Hardedef’s cavalry at the foot of the plateau. Hardedef won, took control of the route, and ordered boulders to be collapsed onto the route, temporarily shutting down the road. However, at that moment, Faust suddenly led the main force of the Giant Legion out of the city and attacked Idu’s main formation.

Faust hadn’t expected Jufie to win, and the troops sent over were not many, the purpose was just to temporarily hold Hardedef back. The moment Hardedef won, Faust sent the main forces that have been waiting for a long time to the battlefield. Idu had been prepared, but the strength of Enlil City exceeded his expectations.

Faust launched a fierce attack as soon as he set up his army formation, with Felix jumping off his chariot and wielding his giant sword at the front, while the Giant Legion placed their heavy crossbows and stone-throwers in battle formation. They fired off a round of bombardment before the main force charged forward, and the Salem Legion was unable to resist the attack.

Fortunately, there were two fortresses to rely on, and Idu commanded the army to retreat until the rear of the two fortresses, forming a triangular defensive posture. As for Faust, he consolidated the frontlines on one hand, and on the other hand, he concentrated his siege troops on attacking one of the fortresses.

At this time, Raphael had been appointed by the Kingdom of Hittite to the Anu Legion. Lynk was still training in the Garden of Eden, and El Mar was sent to garrison the Charcoal Marsh. Presiding over the two fortresses’ magic formations currently were Metatro and Gabriel. Seeing that the military formation on the battlefield was about to collapse and that the magic formations in the fortresses could not hold out for long, Idu urgently ordered Gabriel to break out of the siege and to join up with the Salem Legion.

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A fortress was finally sacked and the magic formation was also destroyed. Both armies suffered considerable casualties, but the Salem Legion obviously suffered greater losses. What’s worse was that the link between the vanguard led by Hardedef and the main force of the legion was cut off. When Hardedef realized this, he immediately led his cavalry to retreat back and attempted to execute a pincer attack on the Giant Legion with the Salem Legion.

Faust changed tactics again at this point by placing the siege troops behind the infantry battle formation and used the stone-throwers and crossbow formation to stabilize the defense line. Then he ordered the troops to resist Idu’s counterattack with full force while concentrating their main force of chariots to meet Hardedef in the rear, so as to wipe out his forces first.

The battle was a miserable one, as Hardedef led his cavalry in a desperate attempt to charge back to the main force but was completely surrounded. He himself might have been able to fly and escape at first, but his duty was such that he could not leave his troops behind, and when the battle unfolded there was no escape. Idu also launched a counter-charge, attempting to assist Hardedef in breaking out, but he was held up by the defensive battle formation of the Giant Legion.

By now, the battle had descended into chaos, and Idu knew that a counter-charge to rescue Hardedef might not be worth the loss, but he had no way to give up. By the time the army was strung together, Misphi led a team of horsemen to break a bloody path to reach the battlefield where Hardedef was surrounded. She didn’t have to do this, the cavalry might be futile, she just hoped to attract the attention of the siege soldiers to create a chance for Hardedef to break out.

Hardedef watched as Misphi rushed forward, her red robe like a fiery cloud, but then her horse was hit by an arrow and fell to the ground. Misphi held her sword on foot as she was surrounded, and her comrades around her were killed, while a throwing spear pierced her chest. Hardedef let out the last roar of his life as he wielded a huge sword and rushed towards her like a madman. Jufie, who came after him and fought him again, was killed by the raging Hardedef. In the end, Hardedef himself finally fell less than ten feet away from Misphi.

The intercepted vanguard was wiped out, and the Giant Legion’s renewed strength after three years far exceeded Idu’s expectations. It was pointless for Idu to continue the counter-charge, but the two armies had entered a messy stalemate at this moment, making it impossible to retreat.

Faust, after eliminating Hardedef, organized the chariots to rush back to reinforce the main force, flanking from both sides of the battlefield, while Idu mobilized even the last reserves onto the battlefield. Metatro, who was guarding the other fortress, came over with his troops from the flank and crushed the left flank chariot encirclement. Both sides fought until darkness before gathering their armies, and the Salem Legion suffered heavy casualties and was completely defeated in the battle.

If it had been a little later, if Metatro hadn’t abandoned the fortress in time and led the last force to reinforce it from the flank, the Salem Legion would have been buried here. After gathering the remnants of the army, both sides had a short rest. One fortress was destroyed, but the other was not lost, so Idu continued to place their battle formation here, and a mood of despair prevailed throughout the army.

The final battle to decide the fate came, Goddess Mourrin sent down an oracle, and Aesop led the people in the rear to hold a grand sacrificial ceremony, while the generals and troops in the front also prayed and called out to God Amon on the battlefield. The majestic figure of God Amon appeared in the air with a golden light, and the Salem Legion was instantly lifted from the depths of despair!

However, immediately afterward everyone let out a cry of surprise as the battle formation of the giants spread out and a stone platform appeared, in front of which stood Faust with his staff held high, and in the center of which a woman shot an earth-shattering arrow.

The black arrow that carried an indestructible power flew straight towards God Amon, at this moment on the battlefield where only the whistling sound of the giant arrow cutting through the air could be heard!

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