All Ships, Fire Broadside!
Editor: MythosIX, Darkdhaos, Rockgollem, Teddy Miao, AMetroid, Ice Phantom
As the sailors prepared to leave the village, the homes of the farmers that were housing them temporarily became empty.
By right, the lodging should be returned to the villagers, but the expedition that brought the soldiers of Fort Sierck from one end of the Empire to the other end had very nearly exhausted their strength.
Those who were not doing too well stayed behind in Fort Le Troyeti.
The villagers expressed their understanding and loaned their houses to the soldiers to stay for the night.
The battle will begin tomorrow, Jerome will lead most of the troops towards Fort Le Troyeti.
Regis tossed and turn on the bed of the house he was staying in.
The time was 9PM.
After asking about the navy and finalizing the upcoming plans with Jerome, it was already late in the night.
The illumination came from candles, the quality seemed to be subpar and the light was quite dim.
But he could still see the item in his hands clearly.
Regis took out a book from his luggage.
During the march from the capital to the west, they stopped by a large city once. This new book was brought right then.
Regis opened the book as he laid on his bed.
The story was about a group of protagonists trapped in a game world going on an adventure to save a girl who had been targeted by ruffians.
The main character being a swordsman was a typical development. Just like Duke Eddie who stayed behind at Fort Sierck.
However, the main character of this story was a young man who used support magic to help his comrades…
As he read the interesting story, the world around him seemed to be fading away as light and sound diminished. He didn’t even know where he was right now.
“Hmm, it is moments like this that make me glad that I am alive.”
“We are setting off tomorrow before dawn…”
“Well, it is troublesome to ride on a boat, but I am afraid that I couldn’t get up from bed if it is too dark outside.”
In the time before dawn, the inside of the room was darker than the outdoors which was illuminated by the moonlight. It was so dark that you couldn’t see your fingers.
It would be great if he could lit a candle within the reach of his arms, but unfortunately, Regis wasn’t familiar with the layout of the room.
And so, in order to leave in a moment’s notice, Regis reminded himself repeatedly that he was facing the door when he slept, didn’t change out of his clothes, and tuck his packed belongings right besides the bed.
“The preparations are already done… Eh, Ms Clarisse!?”
He wasn’t sure when, but a lady wearing a green apron dress came in without him noticing.
Clarisse sighed and said:
“Sir Regis, you are the same as usual.”
“W-What is it? Did something happen? Altina calling for me?”
“As she needs to wake up early tomorrow, the princess has already turned in. Sir Regis, aren’t you going to sleep?”
“Of course I will sleep. It is easy to get seasick due to lack of sleep. I just wanted to read a little before I retire…”
“I see I see.”
Clarisse smiled gently. Sigh, she did insist that Regis must describe her as gentle.
If this goes on, the candle would be taken away by her again.
“Erm… If I don’t finish the book, I would be bothered by the story and be unable to sleep.”
“You know your eyes have turned red?”
“Well, my eyes do hurt, but that is probably because I am not used to the sea breeze. At least let me finish the part about them clearing the dungeon raid…”
“I understand. Well then, I will read it to you. You should rest your eyes and body.”
Clarisse reached for the candle.
“If you are unwilling, then just rest well.”
“Waahh! W-Well… Please do so.”
Clarisse seemed jubilant as she picked up the book besides Regis’ pillow and sat on the bed, making it creak.
“Fufufu, if her highness sees this, she will definitely misunderstand.”
“Eh? What misunderstanding?”
“... Nothing at all. Well then, please close your eyes, Sir Regis… It’s useless even if you look at me.”
In the flickering candlelight, her profile and shadow was shaking. Under the shine of the faint light, the slight swell of her chest was charmingly tempting.
It felt strange for Regis to look at her from a different angle. After Regis had lied down, Clarisse sat very close to him.
There was a faint fragrance of tea.
Brown pupils were looking his way.
Regis felt his chest tightened and heart race. He was lying down but his breathing became ragged.
Clarisse averted her eyes with her cheeks blushing.
“If you stare at me from such a close distance, I will feel shy.”
“Ah… S-Sorry, because you are too beautiful…”
She widened her eyes.
Regis covered his mouth as if he had misspoken.
“W-What did I say!?”
“... Erm… Such words… Cannot be uttered lightly alright?”
“That’s true. I wanted to compliment you, but such words that only judge the appearance of a woman is really…”
“No, that’s not the problem… If Regis says something like that now, I might not be able to hold back, okay?”
“Tomorrow is an important day, so not now… Alright, close your eyes.”
She reached out and closed Regis’ eyes gently.
He could feel her cool soft fingers and gentle fragrance.
Regis closed his eyes obediently.
Clarisse started reading.
It was in a volume that only Regis who was lying down could hear, but she spoke very clearly and was pleasing to the ears.
Leaving aside such technical stuff as the word's reading and the intonation, which were perfect, what pleased him more than anything else was the fact that Clarisse was reading just for Regis.
Ignoring the reigning Emperor, in the past, there was a position of bard in the courts. And among the nobles, there were also servants who whispered to their masters who were lying on a pillow.
It seemed that he was enjoying the life of a noble, which filled Regis momentarily with joy.
The next morning—
The sky was still dark and the stars were sparkling.
“By the way, according to Marshall Latreille’s orders, all the units here would be assigned to the Imperial 4th Army… Both the navy and the army units. This part is a bit difficult to understand.”
When she heard what Regis said, Altina tilted her head.
“Since Vice Admiral Bertram is the Fleet Admiral, just calling it Fleet Bertram should be fine right?”
Putting it that way is wrong! Bertram shook his head.
“Since your highness is the commander in chief, and would be on board the flagship in person, the fleet should be named ‘Fleet Marie Quatre Argentina de Belgaria’,”
Regis agreed with him.
“... The Fleet Admiral would still command the sea battle, but it would be hard to say ‘Fleet Bertram, move out’ in the presence of the princess.”
“Don’t worry about me alright?”
“Please spare me, your highness. I will get mocked by my subordinates.”
“But my name is too long. Ah, to save time, just call it ‘Fleet Regis’ then!?”
That name was too weird.
However, Bertram was all for it.
“I have no problem with this. If this is for the sake of the battle, I won’t mind as long as the name is appropriate.”
“... Have mercy on me. Well, let’s name it ‘Western Liberation Fleet’. The objective of the battle is to sink the High Britania supply ships and retake Chainboule Harbour anyway.”
“The name fits the goal.”
“Well, it’s fine since Regis said so.”
And it was decided.
In order for large ships to dock, a harbour with deep waters was needed.
And of course, the fishing village didn’t have such facilities.
It would take some time, but it was necessary to walk out to the trestle and take small shuttle boats in order to board the large ships in deeper waters.
Regis was escorted onto the shuttle boats.
The one who went with him was just Altina, there were no other escorts, not a single soldier from Fort Sierck.
It was only the two of them this time.
Clarisse didn’t tag along either. She stayed behind and did her chores. She couldn’t go to a battlefield.
Abidal Evra did insist on following as an escort.
However, warships were not leisure cruise, and couldn’t let too many untrained sailors to board. Also, a knight escort would be useless against the cannons used in sea battles.
If the navy had any schemes in mind, it would be meaningless even if they brought more escorts. They could only trust the navy, and Altina wouldn’t be boarding the flagship if she didn’t.
Altina will be boarding a ship that was lighter than she imagined for the first time.
She carefully helped Regis board.
The boat rocked with the waves.
The sailors slowly rowed the boat away from the trestle amidst their spirited shout.
They slowly drifted away from land.
When Regis went out to sea the day before to prepare for sea battle, he felt weird when he sailed away from land.
In the sky, there was the white moon as well as there were many stars.
The weather seemed to be good.
A sea breeze that could only be felt after going out to sea.
The shuttle boat headed into the deep sea.
Regis looked nonchalantly at the breakwater.
The hill ridges were turning white.
On the breakwater, a small figure stood against the sky that was gradually turning white.
It might be a vague silhouette, but Regis recognized her.
With hair that had the colour of blazing fire, the girl— Narissa looked his way.
Although she wouldn’t be able to see him from that place.
Regis was thankful from the bottom of his heart.
Thank you very much for your assistance. We will definitely protect this country, please take care…
Imperial year 851 June 1st—
The ‘Western Liberation Fleet’ set off from the fishing village.
There were a total of forty four warships in the fleet.
The capital ships consisted of nine Athena third rate battleship (80 guns). Slightly smaller than the primary force would be fourteen Selene fourth rate ship (50 guns), and twenty Ouranos corvette (18 guns).
The Athena class might be inferior to the enemies’ Princess class 74 guns battleship in terms of firepower and speed, but it could match the firing range.
Total length of 120Co (53m), 34Co (15m) wide, mast height of 140Co (62m).
As they had the advantage in numbers, a naval battle should be possible if they decided to ignore the losses.
But of course, war with other nations will continue after repelling the High Britannia invasion, so they couldn’t lose ships too casually…
Selene class was commissioned to maintain security in domestic waters, so it wasn’t really adequate as a battleship.
It was less than 80Co (36m) long. Most of the guns were small to mid sized. It was mainly utilized to pursue pirates and smugglers. Its armour was thin, and would find it hard to exchange fire with the High Britannia navy.
The Ouranos was 45Co (20m) long, less than half the size of a capital ship.
If powered fully by sail, its speed would probably be faster than a Princess class. However, it couldn’t be counted on to be of much use in a cannon battle.
Other than these, there was also a battleship larger than all the other warships, Poseidon First rate battleship (120 guns). Total length 160Co (71m), 45 Co (20m) wide, there were only two such colossal vessels in the Empire.
However, only one of the Poseidon class would be taking part in this sea operation— Ship number 2. They weren’t being stingy with their warships, it’s just that ship number 1 was still under maintenance.
Repair and maintenance of battleships tends to take a very long time. That’s why two or more of the same type of battleship would be built at the same time, so a similar class warship could be committed to the frontlines at any time. It would be more ideal if there were three ships.
If the model of the ships were different, the controls would be different too. But there wasn’t time to teach the sailors how to man a ship in the frontlines. If the fresh sailors couldn’t even get the basics down, the ship would fall into chaos during a battle.
Even if you teach them by using similar ship models, there would be a limit to that too.
Right now, the third Poseidon class ship was still under construction…
If the plan worked, the construction of the third vessel would be terminated— Regis thought.
Aside from the ships, there were other smaller vessels, such as the shuttle boats that ferried Regis, reconnaissance crafts and many more. The responsibility they shouldered was equally important, but they couldn’t be relied on to take part in direct battle.
Regis boarded the Athena third rate ship Frantam. Not just battleships, the navigation seat of all sailboats was located on the deck— right in front of the poop deck. The symbol of the ship, its steering wheel was right there.
The helmsman would steer the ship according to the instructions of the captain. It was the same for the other sailors too, all hands aboard the ship must obey the captain’s order.
It was not just the ship the Fleet Admiral was on, all the crews in the entire fleet must follow his command.
His orders were conveyed through the flags on the flagship.
Bertram confirmed the situation of the fleet.
“Well then, we will set sail… Is that fine?”
“The success of this operation will decide the fate of the Belgaria Empire. I’m counting on all of you.”
“I will keep these words close to my heart.”
Bertram took a deep breath, fixed his hat, then extended his right hand forward.
“—Western Liberation Fleet, move out!!”
Signals sent from flags couldn’t be seen at dawn, so the signaler used a gas lamp to pass the message on to the other vessels.
After hearing the orders of the Fleet Admiral, the captain of the flagship immediately ordered the crew to advance slowly.
Unlike a naval battle, when sailing at night, the flagship would lead the way and signal others through a gas lamp.
There was one on the crow’s nest, one at the ship’s bow, and one on either side of the stern. This allowed the ships behind to know how large the flagship was, and how far away it was. But if there were any problems causing the lights to go out, it would be troublesome. The strong sea breeze made it hard to relit the gas lamps.
Fortunately, everything went smoothly as the fleet left the fishing village, and headed towards
The sky in the east gradually brightened.
“This ship looks much bigger up close!”
“... Well, both types of ships were built by the Belgarian Empire, but the Athena is bigger than a Second rate vessel.”
Looking from the stern of the ship, the deck leading all the way to the bow seemed endless. Even the mansion of a noble wasn’t this large, this was just like a castle.
The wooden masts pierced the sky and thick canvases draped down from them. The massive sails seemed to encompass the entire field of vision.
This castle that was sailing towards the deep ocean carried about 500 sailors. It was on the scale of a small village. Bertram would be responsible for the ships out in the sea, and he was consolidating the reports from all ships thoroughly.
It seemed that some equipment was left behind at the harbour during the naval battle of Trouin.
Some of the vessels had received damages that couldn’t be repaired out at sea.
“Admiral! Janvier is moving very slowly!”
It seemed that one of the Ouranos class vessels couldn’t keep up with the speed of the fleet.
“... Don’t overdo it, let her change course to the third rendezvous point.”
The Fleet Admiral seemed busy.
In order to not bother him, Regis and Altina started chatting.
“Anything bothering you?”
“The ship will change directions if we turn that wheel?”
“Ahh, that steering wheel huh. It is connected to the rudder below the ship. By changing the orientation of the sails according to the wind, you can change the course of the ship by turning the wheel.”
“You can change the direction of such a large ship just with that wheel?!”
“Well, to prevent the ship from drifting all over the place, it requires quite a bit of arm strength. It’s not a simple matter of just turning it.”
The Athena class had three masts.
Regis and the others were further to the rear than the third mast.
That’s where the steering wheel was located, the railings would be right behind them. That’s where the Fleet Admiral was.
In order to let the Fleet Admiral do his work in peace, Regis and Altina kept some distance away.
The ship was huge.
To the rear of the ship was the quarter deck with a raised platform. This place housed the conference room, and the personal quarters of the Captain and Fleet Admiral.
As expected of the flagship Frantam, it even had a royal suite. Altina was staying inside this time.
By the way, it wasn’t mentioned where Regis’ quarters were— He probably was assigned to a luggage cabin below deck like the rest of the sailors.
Sailors were not assigned beds, they would just spread a piece of cloth between the luggage or next to a cannon to sleep. They might hang a hammock from the ceiling to sleep too.
At the very least, I should find my personal piece of cloth…
But that would be a matter to worry about if Regis survived the battle.
The sky brightened gradually.
The flagship used flags to signal its orders to the entire fleet.
In order to catch up with the Poseidon class vessel, the flagship Frantam moved off first, followed by five Athena class. Of the forty four warships, only six vessels made up the main force. In fact, they possessed more than half of the entire fleet’s fighting prowess.
The remaining warships didn’t simply wait in place, they had to fulfill their mission too.
At this moment, the reconnaissance craft reported back.
The adjutant who received it reported to the Fleet Admiral.
“Reporting the number of enemy vessels in Chainboule Harbour! Supply ships eighteen! Princess class six! More than forty small crafts!”
Bertram said with a frown.
The sailors working on the deck turned rowdy.
The captain looked worried too.
Regis fell into deep thought.
— Seems reality is different from what I imagined.
Bertram looked towards Regis.
He was just seeking the opinion of the strategist who proposed the battle plan.
The adjutant of the Fleet Admiral, Captain of the Frantam, as well as the sailors around them looked his way with a worried expression.
“... The supply ships were not here yesterday, so it probably came last night from their homeland. That might be so… But I already considered the possibility of enemy reinforcement, so it won’t be too big of a problem.”
“Oh? You knew about this information before we even received it?”
“Not really. I merely estimated the forces which the enemy should have had from the battle of Trouin.”
I see, Bertram nodded.
Altina was calm all this while.
“I trust Regis deeply!”
Regis felt happy and uneasy at the same time. He said in a soft voice only Altina could hear:
“... It might sound weird coming from me… But wouldn’t it be dangerous to put too much faith in me?”
“Ahaha, I am not that stupid. I can tell if the situation is within your expectation or not just by looking at Regis’ face.”
“... I see, seems like I am not suited to play poker.”
“Fufufu, how about a match next time?”
“Are you good in poker?”
“I have beginner’s luck, let’s give it a try.”
Altina smiled, and Regis smiled too.
Bertram was a bit surprised to see them like this.
In this critical situation where the enemy forces were higher than expected, the young strategist and commander showed no sign of fearing or shrinking away.
The adjutant said with an incredulous expression.
“... Erm… They are expressing their confidence in the battle plan?”
Bertram nodded lightly.
If that is the case, all we can do is pray. Or do they actually not know what a naval battle is like?
He found it hard to clear the doubts in his mind.
However, they were in the middle of a battle, and he had to consider his position as the Fleet Admiral. He must not utter complains that would lower morale.
Bertram asked the commander in order to confirm his thoughts.
“Even though the enemy forces doubled… we are still going to attack as planned, is that fine?”
“Yes, of course! Let us take back Chainboule Harbour!”
Altina pointed to the cape.
It was a piece of land protruding out into the sea like a spear. Their view was blocked by the forest on the cape, but behind was indeed Chainboule Harbour.
From the gaps of the forest, a tower that had the dual function of lighthouse and watchtower could be seen. It seemed to have been destroyed when the High Britannian army first attacked.
Chainboule Harbour was built in a V shaped bay.
According to the Empire founding war legend, L’Empereur Flamme gave his sword as an offering to pray for victory, that’s why it’s called Épée Prière Bay.
There was more than enough space inside the Épée Prière Bay to conduct a cannon battle.
According to the recon craft reports, there were some sail boats near Chainboule Harbour— 18 large supply ships. Six Princess class warships were docked there too.
The Imperial fleet needed to avoid fighting inside the bay. As the terrain was surrounded by land on three sides, the wind was much weaker there.
The sail ships won’t be able to speed up.
On the other hand, the adversary could move really fast even on the calm ocean surface.
If the imperial navy was the only side that was moving as though they were in quicksand, the battle would be decided in no time.
That might be so, but the enemy warships were deep inside the harbour, they won’t be able to take back Chainboule Harbour if they don’t enter the bay.
With the flagship Frantam leading from the front, the fleet entered the bay in single file formation.
“Enemy vessels sighted!”
The report came from the crow’s nest of the front most mast.
Regis and the others stood in front of the quarter deck focusing their attention ahead as well.
It was just as the report said, twenty odd large vessels were stationed around the harbour.
There were countless small boats.
The High Britannians were not idiots, and had reconnaissance crafts patrolling the entrance of the bay. They should have discovered our fleet— the enemy’s Princess class was already spewing black smoke.
This was the first time Regis saw a steamship, he had only read about this new generation of ship from books so far.
The basic structure didn’t differ much from the previous generations of war ships, it was still a ship that was mainly built from wood. On either side were numerous gun ports.
It was a steamship, but it still erected three masts, maintaining the function of a sails.
Altina tilted her head.
“Regis? Isn’t that a steamship? Why does it still have sails?”
“To be more accurate, the Princess class is actually a hybrid between steam and sail ship. It has both a steam engine and sails.”
At this time, ships that ran solely on the steam engine didn’t exist. And as a military vessel, there was the need to consider the steam engine malfunctioning. When the wind was strong in the open sea, using sails would actually be faster.
“Hmmp— how sly of them to use both.”
“Well, if there wasn’t anything exceptionally good about it, they wouldn’t be mass producing such a heavy and expensive machine that consumes lots of coal.”
Between the 1st and 2nd mast of the Princess class, there was a small chimney churning out black smoke.
A steam engine needed to burn coal before it could be used, increasing the pressure of the steam boiler until it reached working level. It seems that the ship had finished its preparations.
The enemy ship started moving.
Trying to keep us away from their supply ships— That’s obvious.
“Get ready for cannon battle!”
Bertram issued a solemn command.
The adjutant relayed the order loudly to the seamen below deck.
When the captain and sailors heard that order, they prepared to fire their guns.
The signaller relayed the order to the warships behind, and they began opening the gun ports.
Normally, one cannon would be operated by two men. The men in the next room were responsible for loading the gunpowder.
The main cannons used by the Athena class were the super sized imperial warship cannons. It was front loaded, the gunpowder sack was rammed in, followed by the cannon ball.
A thin needle was inserted through the breech and pierced the bag of gunpowder.
The needle was pulled out, gun powder poured into the hole it made, and the preparation for firing the cannon was complete. After taking aim at the enemy ship, all that was left was to wait for the orders to fire.
The cannon wasn’t fixed to the deck, but loaded on a four wheeled gun carriage. The gun carriage was tied to the hull with chains.
It gave the cannons a certain level of freedom, making it easier to aim to the left and right, and to ease the recoil after firing the cannon.
However, the ships would shake violently during a cannon battle, and aiming would be difficult.
The cannons were ignited using the flintlock, this way of ignition was the same as the cannons on land.
The enemy vessels drew closer.
The range of the Princess class was about 45Ar (3216m).
It was only 28Ar (2715m) for the Athena class.
The difference was obvious.
However, technology that allowed precision measurements at such a distance had yet to be developed. Even if a surveyor was present, the accuracy of the cannons weren’t that high. In the end, it was up to the gut feeling of the Fleet Admiral.
The inbounding Princess class turned it’s rudder to its right.
“Enemy ship, right rudder!”
It was turning its port side this way.
For animals, the belly was its weakness, but it was the opposite for warships where its weapons were placed on its flanks.
Altina tilted her head.
“If this continues, wouldn’t we be shot by them?”
“... Erm, yes.”
While Regis was mumbling, the port side of the enemy warship was already covered in black smog.
A moment later, the sound of thundering roar was heard.
Even though it was quite a distance away, the sound of the cannon was still enough to shake their heart.
— It was still too far.
Even though the Princess class had very long range, it was still hard to score a hit when the distance was too far. It wasn’t that easy to hit from that far away.
His mind understood this clearly.
But his legs couldn’t stop shaking.
Countless cannon balls flew over.
Black dots didn’t come over horizontally, but seemed to be falling from the sky.
The speed of the cannon balls will slow down because of air resistance, so the shots would be fired at an angle.
The cluster of shots came straight towards the flagship Frantam Regis and the others were on.
And crashed spectacularly into the sea!
Numerous splashes came up from the ocean surface.
Not just Regis’ back, even the sails on the tall masts were wet from the splashing sea water.
The sea rippled, and the warships undulated with it like leaves in the waters.
Regis needed to exert all his strength just to hang on to the railing.
It should be the same for Altina— Regis thought. However, she was standing steadily on the deck, not even holding on to the railing.
“Why aren’t we shooting back?!”
“Because… it’s still too far… probably.”
The second wave of attack reached.
The reloading speed was too fast!
Regis shut his eyes.
The only thing he could do now was pray.
The roar of the cannon shook the heavens and the sea, the water splashed onto the ship like rain. It seemed the deck was going to be shaken apart.
“One of our ships sunk!”
When he heard Altina’s voice, Regis wiped away the sea water on his face and opened his eyes, and felt a sharp pain.
Sea water got into his eyes, it was so painful that he thought he was injured.
His mouth tasted salty.
His nose was stinging and tears came out.
When Regis took part in land battles, he wasn’t this troubled. After all, he did train as a cadet.
But his first sea battle experience was much tougher than what was described in the books.
That was to be expected— there wasn’t any distasteful novels describing the heroes of seafaring battles feeling pain because seawater got into their eyes.
After rubbing his eyes hard, Regis finally opened them.
Altina was nowhere to be found.
Did she fell off the deck!?
He felt that his vision darkened for an instance.
At this moment, her voice came from above. Was he being summoned by the heavens? But it was still too early for that.
“Regis! Another ship caught fire!”
Following the voice, he found Altina scaling to the top of the quarter deck and looking to the back.
Like a child climbing up stairs excitedly.
Although the ship was shaking so violently that Regis thought he would be flung out, she was moving as though she was on dry land.
Or was it that Regis was just too weak?
No, even the sailors were hanging on the nets on the deck for dear life.
Altina jumped down from the quarter deck.
“What?! What if you fall into the sea!?”
“Instead of that, the ship is burning!”
“... Well… Ships are made from wood, of course they would burn after being hit by iron balls heated by gunpowder.”
“But there are people on there?!”
Compared to land battles, a naval battle had a higher death rate.
It’s a battle waged with cannons after all.
Even so, Altina still didn’t understand.
“... The waters inside the bay isn’t too cold during this period, they can last for about six hours after falling overboard. At least, they can be rescued by other ships if they swam for a while in the bay— Wah?!”
Another close shot landed near the ship, the splashes soaked the entire deck.
Hah! Altina grabbed on to the railings for the first time.
The bow of the Frantam was hit and smashed!
There was the sound of a crack as loud as lightning.
Completely different from the rolling of the waves.
Regis felt an impact as if he was kicked and flew out. At that moment, he thought that he was going to die.
His arms were pulled suddenly and he returned to his original position.
“Regis?! It is dangerous if you don’t grab onto the railings when the ship is shaking!”
When it is shaking? The ship is always shaking… For Altina, it is not really shaking unless the ship was hit directly?
Regis’ heart pounded and his breathing was ragged, that scary event only lasted for a moment.
“Hah… Hah… Thank… You…”
“Are you fine, Regis?”
“Ah… Ahhh… Why did you know that the cannons were going to hit, Altina?”
“Eh? I was looking at it flying over, so obvious right?”
It was true that one could judge the speed of the cannon after looking at it. However, it would be too difficult to tell if the shot was going to hit or miss for normal people.
The ship was still shaking.
The shot this time seemed to have grazed the sails.
Altina pulled Regis up by his arm, which led to their forehead almost touching.
After getting splashed by the sea water, Altina turned even more brilliant. Her expression had nothing to do with nervousness, Regis felt a different kind of charm from her.
Altina whispered into his ears:
“Can we win?”
“... It will depend on the command abilities of Fleet Admiral Bertram?”
“What about the situation right now?!”
“...It’s going as planned.”
At this moment, the Fleet Admiral made his call.
“Flagship, right rudder!”
“Understood! Right rudder!”
The captain shouted before the adjutant did.
Almost at the same time, the helmsman started turning the wheel.
The adjutant changed the signalling flags as instructed.
— All ships, follow me.
The imperial fleet also turned their port side towards the High Britannian warships.
Making a pass in the opposite direction of the opponent— this was a Head-on Engagement.
The distance between the two sides were half that of the first cannon attack.
Everything was going as planned.
“... The formation of passing by each other. We will only exchange shots for a few rounds, engaged in battle but with minimal accuracy.”
“Can we hit if we can only shoot for a few rounds?”
“That’s right, what will happen?”
If the Fleet Admiral turn left rudder, they would be sailing side by side with the enemy— a Parallel Engagement. Unlike a crossing battle, the accuracy of the cannons would be a hundred percent. For the one manning the cannons, sailing alongside to each other was as good as staying stationary.
If it was a parallel battle, the difference between firepower would become obvious.
According to the objective of this operation, a crossing battle by turning right rudder was the correct choice.
Finally, the imperial warships could bring their guns on the broadside to bear on the enemy vessels.
“All ships, fire broadside!”
They started counterattacking.
In the battle plan drawn up by Regis, this was the first naval attack.
It was a different sense of shaking compared to before.
Regis could feel the vibration under his feet.
Smog rose from the port side that was facing the enemy, covering his field of vision.
It smelled unpleasant.
Breathing was hard, and his eyes hurt from the smoke.
He could barely see anything in front of him.
But they were out in the sea after all, the sea breeze cleared the smog in no time.
His vision cleared once again.
Altina pouted unhappily.
“We didn’t hit anything!”
“The first shot is used to gauge the distance.”
“With the smoke all about, can we really gauge that?”
“That person over there is responsible for gauging the distance.”
The two of them looked up.
The smog that covered the entire ship didn’t reach the crow’s nest on top of the mast.
According to their observation, the sailor on the crow’s nest will signal with flag whether the shot landed far or near. The messenger on the deck will then relay this information to the cannons on the gun decks.
Information on the ship was relayed by sending runners.
While they were loading for the next shot, the enemy opened fire.
The captain was a veteran of cannon battle, and wouldn’t stand idly by while the opponent fired at him. He ordered the ship to sail in a zigzag line to hinder the enemy from grasping his position.
The second shot that was fired—
Didn’t accomplished much.
There were hits too, but it wasn’t enough to break through the deck of the steamship. It would be meaningless if they destroyed the mast and sails of the opponent anyway.
The enemy could use its steam engine to propel themselves, their decks were thick too.
In the face of the Princess class clad in tough armour, the shots that did hit didn’t do much. Some parts of the ship did catch fire, but were put out promptly.
In a cannon battle, the chances of a shot landing was one percent— Even if it was an effective shot, it would cause less than ten percent in damage.
When the smoke cleared, Altina squinted her eyes.
“It seemed ineffective.”
“Well, this isn’t really a complaint about the shooting accuracy… But if the face to face shootout could work, I won’t need to come up with battle plans…”
This cannon battle was actually ill advised.
Exchanging shots any longer would only be to the Empire’s disadvantage.
A report came from the crow’s nest.
“Allied vessel Feuille is down!”
That’s the second ship.
The Empire lost two Athena class warships.
Fleet Admiral Bertram kept quiet for a moment, and then issued his next order.
“Full right rudder! Pull away from the enemy and head for the south bay!”
Maybe it was because the cannon battle took place inside the bay, but the difference in combat power was more brutal than expected.
“Is this also part of the plan?”
“... To be honest, we are deviating a little. The difference between the firepower and speed are more than I expected, but still within margins… But the toughness of their armour is a bit too good.”
Altina had a worried look, but didn’t say it out loud.
In order to calm her down, Regis said:
“... It will be fine. The main act is just beginning.”
The vanguards of the Western Liberation fleet were six Athena class warships. Two of them were too damaged to be seaworthy, so the crews abandoned the ships as they couldn’t put out the fire.
Soon, the fire reached the ammunition stockpile and the ships sank after an explosion.
Lots of shrapnels flew out, and the sinking ships created a whirlpool. The sailors in the water worked their best to swim away.
But there wasn’t time to rescue them right now. The allied fleet had retreated to the mouth of the bay, and could only hope the Lord will watch over them.
The remaining four Athena class warship turned full right rudder after the exchange of broadside fire, and started turning back.
They were pulling away from the enemy.
However, they weren’t heading for the exit of the bay, and sailed across the Épée Prière Bay.
The six Princess class on the opposing side also turned right rudder.
Altina pointed at the enemy ships.
“Are they returning to the harbour?”
“No, they should be trying to chase us… However, they need to protect the supply ships in the vicinity, so they want to gain control of the area around the harbour first.”
If the enemy Fleet Admiral was the type to chase after the prey no matter what, he would charge for the mouth of the bay to intercept the imperial fleet and not let them escape.
If that was the case, the imperial side would change course and attack the supply ships, achieving great results.
— It seems that they wouldn’t let us have our way so easily.
Regis was reminded of the battle of Lafressange.
The de facto commander of the High Britania Royal Army was Colonel Oswald Coulthard.
Regis had never met him, but since he was the commander-in-chief, he must have assigned the task of escorting the supply ships to an excellent Fleet Admiral.
“Regis, the enemy had retreated back into the bay!”
“Well… they are really fast and the wind in the bay is weak…”
“Is this also part of the plan?”
“Such a situation is written in books too. It is also written on the navy textbooks. But I don’t know the character of the opposing Fleet Admiral, so we came up with a scenario where we are under his attack to see how he would react… Seemed like their Fleet Admiral is someone who uses steady and cautious tactics, and his captains follow their orders dutifully.”
Regis observed the enemy movement in detail.
Their formation was a little messy, but all the warships executed their orders speedily, there didn’t seem to be any gaps.
— But if that was so, it would be easy to read the enemy’s movement. Seem like the enemy Fleet Admiral needs to shore up on his battle experience.
He had a calm face, but his heart was uneasy…
Regis was someone who relied more on knowledge and calculations instead of instincts.
The exit of the bay was to the west, the bay was to the east.
The liberation fleet entered the bay from the west and lost two warships after engaging the enemy in the central region— right now, they were sailing towards the south of the bay.
They would run aground if they continued, they had to choose to either turn to the west or east.
The six Princess class serving as the escorts for the High Britania supply ships turned back to the east, keeping the imperials from making a move on the supply ships.
And of course, they didn’t want the imperials to escape so easily, and were in pursuit.
On the flagship Frantam— Altina leaned out from the port side.
“Regis! Regis! They are getting near!”
“... Well, they don’t want to let the imperial fleet inside the bay to escape… They might give it up if we ran away speedily, but since we are slow, of course they will chase us.”
“We are letting them catch up intentionally?!”
“... Are we?”
Regis grabbed the railings and walked unsteadily towards Bertram. He was exhausted after enduring the shaking of the ship during the cannon battle.
“... Fleet Admiral.”
“Ohh, Mr Strategist, how does your first sea battle feel? It’s not over yet though.”
“To tell the truth… I want to lie in bed and rest right now…”
“I am with you on that. I was cramping a little when I gave the order to withdraw.”
“I see… Well, can you aim for the warships behind the second vessel next time?”
Bertram was a bit surprised.
“The enemy Fleet Admiral is probably Oxford. From the sea battle earlier, you can tell that he is an excellent commander. Instead of shooting right after getting in range, wouldn’t it be better if the warships behind them all got into range?”
“Hmm, well, the opponent is a good commander… I considered that too… Ugh!”
Regis covered his mouth.
Although he was only talking, he couldn’t stand it anymore and puked.
Bertram was stunned.
“Alright, I will attack the warships behind their second vessels, you should take a rest too.”
“... But, I won’t be able to see the enemy that way.”
“Hmm, how about this, just use my room. The room is right in the back of the quarter deck, it will be better to see the situation behind from there, alright?”
“Eh? Is that fine?”
“It’s fine— Oh right, the princess must be tired too, I will let my men escort you to the room and rest.”
The Fleet Admiral said and a young adjutant led Regis and Altina to the quarterdeck and opened one of the room.
“Please, this is the place.”
“... Thank you very much.”
“I am actually not that tired… But I should drink some water.”
Altina followed too.
Behind the conference room was the captain’s quarters.
It wasn’t very big, but compared to the sailors who didn’t even have a bed, it was much better.
The furniture was high class, similar to the room of a noble.
A chair covered by velvet and a bed with silk sheets. A table that seemed to be made from heavy wood was secured to the floor. There were even delicate decorations on the table.
The fire that broke out during the battle was extinguished after much effort, but a fire could be seen in the heath here again.
On the wall inside was a square window, this place was indeed better suited to watch their rear compared to standing in front of the quarter deck.
Regis sat on the chair that was facing that window.
He could see the enemy ships behind them.
“Ah… Looks like we are turning.”
“The orders were given after all.”
The adjutant said as he poured tea.
In the eyes of the enemy, our fleet is turning right, making a pass through the southern coast before escaping to the west, that’s how it looks right?
The adjutant offered the tea to Altina who was looking out of the window.
“Well then, please rest here.”
The adjutant saluted and exited the room. It was the courtesy shown by a noble towards a royalty.
As they were in the middle of battle and Altina was the commander, just a military salute would suffice… It seemed that the other party had not completely accepted her as the commanding officer because Altina was too young, and a woman.
Right now, Regis and Altina were alone inside the Captain’s quarters.
It was the same everywhere— She shrugged and pulled her head back from the window.
Downing the tea in one go, she filled the cup just like the adjutant did and offered it to Regis.
“You should drink some too.”
“I didn’t notice because you were drenched by seawater, but you actually sweated a lot.”
“... That’s right.”
Regis drank the tea to moisten his patched throat.
Altina looked out the window once again.
“The enemy is closer than before… Hey Regis… Why are the High Britanian ships so fast?”
“You know the difference between steamships and sail ships?”
“It’s the burning of coal right? I have seen trains before, and know they are faster than horses. But I don’t know why…That’s not it, I want to know why the Empire can’t make something similar?”
“Yes… This is the difference in industrial technology. We might know the principle behind the steam engine, but it requires mass production of highly accurate parts. It is the same for the new rifles and ammunition. This is the difference because of the use of machines.”
Belgaria could only rely on professional blacksmiths to cast highly accurate pieces of metal. But the High Britannians could mass produce them in factories by using machines.
“Using machines to make machines?”
“Yes. The Belgaria Empire also has a factory right? But the scale isn’t as large as the High Britanian ones.”
“I have never seen a factory. The smithing house I visited earlier was the first time I have seen one too.”
“I see, how unexpected.”
“It can’t be helped, I only came out from the courts one year ago to see the outside world freely.”
“... Well, if you read more books, you would at least know such common sense.”
“Eh?! Because I am always practising my swordsmanship! If it is about swordsmanship, I will know a lot!”
“Well, that’s the style of the Belgarians, it’s a factory made for elite soldiers. This is why we are being chased by a steam ship right now. Is this answer satisfactory?”
Altina frowned as if she had eaten something bitter.
Regis shifted his gaze back to the window.
To the right was land.
It was a forested cape.
There is the danger of going aground if we get too close… But in the eyes of the enemy, we are being chased and only came here because we had no other choice. That’s the battle plan.
Behind us were three other Athena class warships. They were more or less damaged because of the battle earlier.
With smoke rising from their chimney, the enemy ships slowly gained on the Imperials. For them, the imperials were to diagonally to their left— to the northeast of the imperials.
As the High Britannian had the speed advantage and wasn’t that close to the cape, they made a beeline for the Imperials.
“Well, even though we lose out to the enemy in both speed and firing range, we have no intention of giving up. We are almost at the designated area.”
At the exit of Épée Prière Bay, the figure of the Ouranos, which were the fastest ships in the fleet, appeared.
They were less than half the length of the Athena class.
They couldn’t be counted on to match the Princess class in a straight up cannon fight.
The Fleet Admiral of the High Britannians, Oxford maintained the formation of his fleet. To him, these warships weren’t even a threat.
They were just meaningless reinforcements.
However, these Ouranos class ships were a key part of Regis’ plans. The key to start the prologue of counterattacks.
As planned, the flagship Frantam sent out signals with flags. The Ouranos that received the orders took on the mission to support the Imperials.
The sound of cannons rang out, shaking the trees in the cape.
The sound didn’t come from the four Athena class that were being chased, or the six Princess class that were chasing them.
It came from the other side of the cape.
Not just the sound of cannons, black spots also covered the sky.
Those were cannon balls.
The enemy fleet tried to turn away from the cape in a panic… but it was too late.
All 37 support vessels of the Western Liberation fleet fired in unison.
The tight group of cannons rained down, throwing up large ripples on the surface of the ocean, and seemed to engulf the enemy fleet.
The 2nd ship, and even the 3rd ship of the enemy were caught in the fire.
No matter how tough the armour of the Princess class was, it would still shatter after getting pelted with so many shots.
“Amazing! It worked!”
Altina yelled and pressed her face onto the window.
Even though Regis devised the plan himself, he was shocked by the destructive power. A normal ship would have been blown into bits.
However, in the middle of the rain like attack— the figures of two ships appeared. The body was tilting heavily, but it was still afloat.
“It…. didn’t sink?!”
Even so, it would only be a matter of time. Its mast was broken and the sails were burning. The chimney was smashed and even the sturdy armour was in pieces with fire coming out from everywhere.
“Ah, Regis! The waves are coming!”
The waves caused by a large number of cannon fire rushed their way.
The flagship Frantam and the other allied ships of the Empire all turned their rudder inside the moment the cannons fired— However, some allied ships turned too slow.
Of the four ships that were sailing near the cape, the last one in formation was pushed towards land by the waves.
A loud sound could be heard and the ship tilted. The warship seemed to be trapped and couldn’t move.
“Eh? What happened?!”
“... It’s a reef.”
The other warships avoided being washed onto the reef, but they couldn’t keep steady no matter how hard the helmsman steered.
The waves bounced back after hitting the land, and pushed the ships out into the bay.
They didn’t want to be near the enemy ships, but it couldn’t be helped as the steering wheel couldn’t hold the course. They were like leaves being swallowed by a torrent.
Even Altina had to grab onto the desk. Regis was thrown from the chair onto the bed.
“Ugh! R-Regis, are you okay?!”
“Ahh… I’m a little…”
Since he was on the bed, he was lying down. But in a sense, it was a safe place.
Next, we just need to wait for the sea to calm down, then escape out of the bay— he thought.
The cannons sounded again.
Altina who was barely standing looked out the window.
“They opened fire.”
On this vast ocean, they should still be quite some distance away. It was hard to imagine them firing it at this juncture.
And most of the cannon shots missed.
But the next moment, a loud destructive noise pierced Regis’ ears.
The flagship Frantam jumped.
— Did we get hit?!
Both Regis and Altina who was grabbing onto the desk were thrown onto the floor from the impact.
How badly are we hit?
He heard the sound of groans coming from the outside.
As expected, they were hit.
The ship was shaking violently, and Regis couldn’t even stand steadily.
But he couldn’t stay in this cabin any longer.
Regis lay prone on the floor and crawled outside.
“Where are you going?!”
“To take a look! You stay here!”
“What are you saying!? I’m going too!”
“Don’t be ridiculous!”
After crawling to the door, Regis stood up like a toddler and grabbed the door handle.
Like a tortoise hit in the belly, Regis rolled back in.
“What are you doing! Hold on tight!”
His back was supported.
Altina stood on her feet steadily despite all that shaking, just like the desk that was nailed down to the floor.
Regis was dumbfounded when he saw that.
“... Altina… You are actually very heavy right?”
“You want to be thrown overboard?”
“It’s not about the legs. At a time like this, you have to use your abdominal muscles! Alright, stand steady. We are going outside to take a look!”
Altina turned the doorknob.
And they were greeted by the howling wind.
Part of the wall in the conference room was damaged.
“It’s that bad…”
Was the front of the quarter deck hit?! That place holds the steering wheel and the captain’s seat. For a flagship, the seats for the Fleet Admiral and adjutant would be there too.
Altina pulled Regis who stood stiffly from the shock and walked towards the door of the half destroyed conference room.
“... It’s true…. This place was hit.”
The place Regis and Altina were just in was now in tatters.
Part of the warship was shattered, and fire had broken out.
The sailors were working hard to extinguish the flames.
The Fleet Admiral was down on the deck.
The adjutant held onto the Fleet Admiral and shouted:
“Admiral Bertram! Admiral Bertram! Pull yourself together!”
Regis rushed to the Fleet Admiral’s side.
Altina who was besides him gasped when she saw the state the Fleet Admiral was in. There was blood everywhere on his head.
The only first aid the sailors could provide on a ship was to bandage his head.
In a voice that was on the verge of tears, the adjutant said:
“Wooo…. When we were hit, in order to protect me, the Fleet Admiral he…”
“His head was hit by shrapnels?”
It was really bad luck.
In such a wide ocean, no matter how advanced the enemy ships might be, their attack shouldn’t land so easily. To think that they were able to hit the heart of the fleet.
The Fleet Admiral lying on the deck opened his eyes gradually.
The adjutant said in tears.
After seeing Regis, Bertram’s mouth broke into a sneer..
“... Arrr… Her Highness?”
Altina answered the Fleet Admiral from Regis’ side.
“Admiral, we will treat your wounds right now!”
As if he was ignoring the words of the adjutant, Bertram turned his eyes on Regis.
“... I leave… the command to you…”
“Ehh?! You are talking about me?! Did you mistake me for someone…”
“Please… Mr Strategist… Save… the fleet and the Empire…”
After saying that, the Fleet Admiral lost conscious again.
A middle aged ship’s doctor finally ran over at this point.
“Bring the Fleet Admiral to the conference room now! Bring me some hot water! We can’t let the Admiral die! Hurry!”
He roared his orders and the green faced sailors finally moved in a panic, and the Adjutant collapsed onto the floor in tears.
“Now is not the time to cry!”
She pointed to the adjutant who raised his head in surprise.
“We are continuing the fight! Aren’t you the adjutant?! The one closest to the Admiral?!”
“Then, if the Fleet Admiral can’t command any more, what will happen if you can’t command too?! You want to be attacked by the enemy?! Then you can’t save the people you want to save!”
“Ugh… But… Y-Yes!”
He staggered up and forced himself to salute.
He then faced Regis.
And wiped his red eyes.
“Mr Strategist! No, Acting Fleet Admiral Regis d’Auric! The battle earlier was splendid! We couldn’t sink the Princess class no matter the price we paid. And now we sunk two of them!”
“The Admiral entrusted command to you because he admired your talent!”
“Wait… You really want me to be the Acting Fleet Admiral? I don’t know if I can…”
“Now isn’t the time to say such depressed words, Regis! The enemy is coming!”
The enemy fleet that suffered a heavy blow started to straighten their formation— they were closing in from the left.
The enemy was just one ship.
As expected, the 2nd and 3rd ship couldn’t fight anymore, even though it was still floating. If they didn’t put out the fire, it would sink eventually.
As for the three other warships, one was chasing the flagship to support it. The other two weren’t planning to link up with the flagship, drifting away to the cape to reorganize themselves.
The Imperial side still had three Athena class ships.
As the bridge of the Frantam was struck, the command system fell into chaos.
What Regis needed to do wasn’t just a competition for one person, but a command that will decide the fate of 2000 sailors.
Now wasn’t the time to discuss about his lack of confidence or suitability.
“Hah… No choice… Although I am not confident in commanding… Erm… Stay on course and head for the bay.”
The adjutant relayed the orders while the First Lieutenant manned the helm personally in place of the injured captain and helmsman.
“If we go ahead like this, wouldn’t we be attacked?”
“Yes, we will.”
Right now, the allied ships should be within range of the leading Princess class warship.
I thought they would return to the harbour.
Or rather, they are filled with fighting spirit after we sank their ships.
Regis felt he had miscalculated.
“... Did I misjudge… I thought the enemy Fleet Admiral Oxford was someone who preferred to follow the books. That’s why I adopted this plan in response… However, after losing two ships from a surprise attack that came from the other side of the cape, and with the ships being unable to move steadily in the ragged waves, he still continued his pursuit… He is an exceptional ship captain.”
Even though the front of the quarter deck being hit by enemy fire was just an unlucky occurrence.
The enemies’ fighting spirit was clear.
It wouldn’t be surprising if they fired again at any time.
“We can’t escape?”
“... Well… It seems like they won’t let us escape so easily… Time to dazzle their eyes.”
“Dazzle their eyes?”
Intriguingly, Altina opened her eyes wide.
The adjutant awaited the next orders.
“Erm… Send an order to the support team on the other side. ‘It’s fine even if it doesn’t hit, fire at the enemy ships with your maximum range’... We will be firing in concert as well… After this, we will let that ship debut as planned.”
The flagship Frantam sent out orders with flags once again.
The flags signalled synchronized with the command sent from the crow’s nest of the ships to the deck. The only addition was the order to open fire.
A moment later, sound of cannons came from the other side of the cape.
Following Frantam’s lead, the three allied ships also opened fire.
Large amount of cannon fire fell before the enemy ships, making a huge splash— or rather, it was a wall of water.
The sea started raging again.
Regis grabbed on to the railing for dear life.
Regis had never read about a Fleet Admiral as embarrassing as he was. Once again, he felt he was not suitable to be the Acting Fleet Admiral.
The shaking was intense, but Altina was still standing steadily.
“Why did you ask the support ships to fire? The enemy isn’t in range yet.”
“... The enemy doesn’t know about what kind of ships are behind the cape. They will become wary and think ‘maybe they have cannons with enough range to reach here’, right? The next shots should be coming soon.”
“You mean the shots flying towards those ships?”
And it almost hit the warships.
The enemy ships didn’t open fire yet. This distance was too far even for the Type 41 Elswick guns. Even more so for the Empire’s guns.
“That might be so, but it’s enough to dazzle their eyes. And in such rolling waves, the enemy would find it harder to aim.”
But even so, there was still the chance of them being hit...…
Regis glanced at the front of the quarter deck that was burned and shivered.
He recalled the appearance of the injured Fleet Admiral.
The next one to fall might be himself— But it was fine if that happened. It wouldn’t be surprising if an useless admin officer like him lost his life on the battlefield.
However, he had to do his best to keep Altina from getting injured.
The continuous cannon fire could only achieve the effect of stalling for time.
The wind got stronger.
They were really close to the bay exit.
If they get hit even once after wandering into the enemies’ range, the Ouranos would be seriously damaged, so they began to withdraw. The small crafts that retrieved the sailors from the Athena class that was sunk had also dispersed.
As if it was a replacement for all of that, a large battleship appeared from the tip of the cape.
One of the sailors shouted:
“Poseidon class battleship!”
The strongest battleship of Belgaria and the pride of its navy— the 120 gun armoured Poseidon class battleship.
The body of the ship was covered in armour like a knight in full plate. On the side of the ship were more cannons than that of the Athena class.
Numerous gun ports opened and aimed at the entrance of the bay.
The superiority of the armour and firepower of the Poseidon class was obvious, but it was much weaker than the Princess class in terms of range and speed.
And that giant battleship was charging into the bay by itself. If it approached the harbour like this, the High Britannian supply ships would be pulverized in an instant.
If a Poseidon got in close, even the Princess class battleship wouldn’t be able to withstand it.
The flagship of the enemy slowed down its speed.
The other warships reacted slower and prepared to change course to engage the Poseidon in battle.
If they approached the cape again, they would probably be attacked by the support ships. The opponents knew this, so they changed directions and prepared for the attack.
Using this chance, the flagship Regis was on escaped out of the bay with the other two allied ships.
Altina leaned her body out of the starboard.
“We can win with just one ship?!”
“No way, we can’t win even if it is one on one… The enemy just needs to keep attacking from range, and our ship will explode once they hit the gunpowder.”
Belgaria built a heavily armoured battleship at the expense of range.
To be more detailed, it was a short ranged and slow battleship.
Regis who was next to Altina, rested his elbows on the handrail.
Our losses are three Athena class battleship, injury to the Fleet Admiral and the sacrifice of the Poseidon class. The enemy lost two Princess class battleships. These results…”
“Eh?! That big ship sacrificed itself in order to let us escape?!”
Actually, even if we escaped out of the bay, that slow battleship wouldn’t be able to escape. We have removed the men, gunpowder and equipment from it, fixing the rudder in place and letting it charge straight ahead. Even if we allowed such a battleship that is behind the times to be sunk, we can’t ignore the lives of the 800 sailors on board.”
The overly reputed battleship was a burden to its allies instead of a bane to the enemy. This might be hard for others to accept but— Regis thought that instead of the enemy vessels, this heavy and slow giant ship was responsible for more deaths of the Empire’s sailors.
That’s why he came up with the unmanned ship attack plan. On the surface, this was for the sake of ‘supporting the retreat of our fleet’.
The enemy fleet who didn’t know the truth kept their distance cautiously and fired from a distance.
There wasn’t any gunpowder for the cannons, so it wouldn’t explode.
Despite suffering uncountable amount of cannon fire, the Poseidon class battleship still remained afloat.
But even if the ship was covered in heavy armour, the weakness of sail ships were its sails.
The sail that was harnessing the wind was hit by cannon fire and started burning.
The battleship eventually stopped.
And started drifting with the waves.
Due to the direct hit from the cannons, a hole was opened near the bottom of the ship, and seawater seeped in.
All large ships including war vessels pumped out water by using manpower.
With no one on the ship, the pump wouldn’t move.
The ship gradually tilted towards the port side where it was flooded and it gradually sunk.
Regis watched the warship until it sunk completely.
“The flagship is ship number one… The ships sunk by the support fleet are ship four and ship five… After the attack, the one that followed the flagship closely was ship five… The ones controlling the harbour region were eight and nine.”
“What are you talking about?”
“... For navy fleets, orders are basically conveyed through flags. But if they waited for orders, they might not be able to keep up with the development of the battle. And in a cannon battle, they might not be able to see the flags clearly because of the smoke from the cannons. And so, the personality of the captains are important in a battle.”
“Their tendency in a fight?”
“... How they would react in an emergency… Something like that.”
“You understand them now?”
“... I misjudged the personality of the Fleet Admiral just now. It was dangerous to make a decision like that, but I still did. I understand some of the things.”
Regis asked the adjutant standing at on top of the quarter deck.
“You marked the spot?”
Altina looked puzzled again.
“... You attended the war council too.”
“... But, when Regis was discussing tactics with the navy officers, you kept using terms I didn’t understand.”
“... If you didn’t understand, why didn’t you ask?”
“That’s too embarrassing. Others will tease me and say ‘how is it possible for you to be a commander if you don’t even understand these’.”
“I see… Well, I have a good book for you. <Sailor’s Rule>, written by a certain Fleet Admiral a hundred or so years ago. It list down the basic terminology of the navy and fundamental fleet tactics. It will be useful for you.”
“Hmm… Erm… How thick is it?”
“Thickness? About this thick.”
Regis who was never concerned about the pages in a book thought about it for a moment, and gestured the thickness of the book.
It was clear what Altina was thinking from her face.
“I have to read such a thick book?”
“Hmmm, but it will be thin if you go by volumes.”
“Erm… How many volumes are there?”
“For just the fundamentals, just five volumes would be enough? Well, the part I like is in volume eight. The literary style is a bit old, but compared to High Britannian and Hispanian where I have to refer to a dictionary to translate while reading, it was great. There aren’t many books about the navy, so this book is valuable. I wasn’t allowed to loan it out when I read it in the Military Library, but maybe it will be fine if you borrowed it?”
“Ahhh, yes… it’s close to my house anyway.”
If it is swordsmanship or horsemanship practice, Altina will be eager to start even in the middle of the night. But for the sake of the future, she should put more effort on her studies.
The adjutant walked down from the quarter deck.
“I have confirmed the spot where it was sunk.”
“Yes… Let’s sail for the 3rd rendezvous point. They won’t pursue us even if we withdraw like this. Also… How about leaving half of the small crafts around the bay for reconnaissance? They just need to do so until we begin attacking tomorrow, it’s fine if anyone is afraid and wants to run away. Just watch the enemy movement as much as possible.”
The adjutant saluted.
And introduced himself again.
“I am the adjutant of Fleet Admiral Bertram, Third Grade Combat Officer Spark. Acting as Fleet Admiral Regis’ adjutant for now.”
“... Erm, the commander of the western forces is the princess.”
“I understand. But the Acting Fleet Admiral is the only one with command authority over the fleet.”
“Yes! I accept Regis appointment as Acting Fleet Admiral! I have the authority to appoint you, right?!”
Even though she hated studying, Altina remember everything Regis said very clearly. She could even stump him at times.
Acting Fleet Admiral huh.
It was an emergency earlier so he didn’t protest, but he needed to continue with his command now. There was no telling when the next battle will start… After learning that he will be in command henceforth, he couldn’t suppress the unease in his heart.
“Erm… I did say that… The upcoming operation might be rather dangerous, we have steeled ourselves that some of our men might die…”
“You are the man Bertram entrusted command with, please don’t belittle yourself.”
“... Confidence huh… That might be hard.”
Regis kept sighing to himself.
The First Lieutenant of the flagship Frantam asked:
“Pardon me for interrupting! I have a suggestion, can we change the flagship to the 4th vessel Brouillard?”
“... Is the damage to this ship that bad?”
“Frantam took several hits in the battle earlier, the deck is slanting. The quarterdeck, bow and sides of the ship have quite a few holes.”
“... I see… I will respect the decision of the battleship captain then.”
“Thank you very much!”
After saluting, he went off to perform his duties. The adjutant also left to command the reconnaissance task of the small crafts.
Altina shifted her gaze to a battleship that was approaching gradually.
“We are going to board that battleship now?”
“... Yes, we have to shift. After all, we will need to prepare for the next battle immediately. I am not confident… But I will still do it properly.”
“Defeat all the enemies!”
“... No matter what, a fleet that loses out in range and speed would only be pummeled one sidedly. We need to get our hands on the combat power to hold our own against them.”
“We are making a steamship?”
“... We don’t have the time. At the pace the Empire is progressing, it would probably take fifty years. There is an easy way right now, which is to borrow it from the enemy, right?”
“Eh?! Will they agree to that?”
“... That’s true, they wouldn’t.”
Vessel one Frantam couldn’t sail fast because of damage to its sails, so Regis and the others transferred to vessel four Brouillard.
Fleet Admiral Bertram was still unconscious, resting on the bed in his room. The rest would be up to the ship doctor.
The only thing Regis, who was entrusted with a heavy role, could do was to bring him news of victory when he wakes up.
And that was to reclaim Chainboule city, stop the invasion of the High Britannians and protect the Belgarian Empire.
Altina cast her gaze to the east.
It wasn’t too far from land right now, what she saw at the end wasn’t the horizon, but the coast of the Belgarian Empire.
“Will Latreille be fine?”
“... If it is him, he won’t be defeated that easily. However, his opponent, Commander Oswald is not a simple character.”
“That commander feels scary… And not just that, it might sound weird but… It feels like walking in the night without any street lamps…”
“The Empire is always at war. It would be strange if we forget about fear.”
“That’s true… Probably.”
Altina seemed hesitant to speak.
“... No one can tell what the future holds.”
“... What I do know are the things I read from books.”
Footnote by fans
First rate vessel— three decks, 106 or 122 guns, manned by more than 875 people, water displacement 2500-3500 tons. The signature ship is the ‘Victory’, flagship of Admiral Nelson that participated in the naval battle of Trafalgar.
Second two vessel— three decks, 98 guns, manned by around 750 people, water displacement above 2000 tons.
Third rate vessel— two or three decks 64, 74 or 80 guns, manned by 490-720 people, water displacement 1300-2000 tons. The most common capital ships in the British Empire.
Fourth rate vessel— two decks, 50 guns, manned by around 350 people, water displacement above 1000 tons.
The above four classes of vessels are called battleships. Vessels smaller than this were categorized into Frigates, Corvette and Sloop
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