Editor: MythosIX, Darkdhaos, Rockgollem, AMetroid
Imperial Year 851, 3rd June, Morning—
After the Fourth Imperial Army recapture Chaineboule City, it marched to a hill 10Li (44km) to its east, and set up base there.
The place was surrounded by vast plains with white clouds and gentle winds.
If they weren’t at war, this would be a great place to take an afternoon nap.
After resupplying in the west, the headquarters finally had a large tent.
In the aftermath of the battle of Lafressange, it was a rush against time as they forced marched to the west coast. Not just the tents, they even abandoned their cannons. During that time, the headquarters were just surrounded with simple canvas, and didn’t even have a roof.
And now, the new tent even had windows to take in sunlight, and was rather lavish.
It was guarded with many heavily armoured infantry.
In the headquarters, both the commander Altina and the strategist Regis were present.
The maid Clarisse was preparing tea.
“Please have some.”
After receiving the tea cup, Regis could finally moisten his parched throat.
Altina tapped on the map laid on the table.
“Sir Jerome sure is slow.”
“... He was tasked with all sorts of miscellaneous jobs after all. Putting that aside, when it’s time to rest, we should rest.”
Regis opened the book in his hand.
The book in his hands right now related the tale of a young man who entered the Military Academy once again. It wasn’t because he was retained, he was just caught by the powers of someone with superpowers that could turn back time. Such was youth.
Altina poked Regis’ cheeks.
“It’s fine to read books, but spend some time with me too.”
“Eh? You want to discuss something?”
“Not that… Chat with me sometimes… Have some tea together… Is that okay?”
“But the only thing I can talk about are the contents of books.”
“That is fine too.”
Altina was making a fuss out of nowhere and puffed her cheeks.
She seemed angry— That might be so, but it didn’t feel that way either.
Regis tried his best to recall similar scenes which was similar to the way she acts.
She was like a girl cajoling a good friend or lover…
She was the fourth Princess of the Belgarian Empire. And she was the commander of the Fourth Imperial Army, and holds the rank of Lieutenant General.
Only fifteen of age, she set her sights on becoming the next Empress, a girl supported by many soldiers and citizens, especially the new nobles of the south.
Marie Quatre Argentina de Belgaria is not like a girl of common birth.
In contrast, Regis had very low evaluation of himself.
All this while, he could only search for similar situations he read in books, and achieve victory with the help of excellent teammates and luck. He had never thought that he possess extraordinary talent himself.
In the end, Regis thought of himself as ‘if a situation similar to the ones found in books doesn’t happen, he won’t be able to do anything.’
Since he took up the post of Altina’s strategist— handling the wretched inspector was Eric’s merit, and he couldn’t do anything about Latreille’s scheme during the trip to the Imperial capital Versailles in April at the very beginning.
He then collated Eric’s hint, Eleanor’s information and the fact uncovered by Altina to set up a way to counter them.
When the Seventh Imperial Army fought the High Britanians, he knew that charging with the classic tight formation would present problems, but he couldn’t raise an opinion that would change the mind of the commander.
Regis thought of himself as just a second rate strategist.
Furthermore, he was bad with swordsmanship and couldn’t ride a horse.
He had no charm as a man at all.
Because of all these reasons, he ruled out the possibility that ‘Altina was cajoling to a lover’, not worthy of further review— At least it wasn’t possible for Regis.
If that was so, what was Altina thinking?
“I am bored now, tell me an interesting story— that’s what you mean? That might be so, but I can’t spin an interesting tale like a bard.”
Regis smiled wryly.
Altina had sure made a difficult request.
“What, you are making me sound like a wilful Empress.”
“Well, not to the extent of ‘tell me an interesting story every night or I will kill you’ like that person.”
“What is that!?”
“Eh? You didn’t know? In the past, there was a king…”
Regis told her a story he read in the past. Even though Regis had always been reading books, he still understood how he could tell the story in a way to make it interesting and easy to understand.
Not just Altina, even Clarisse was listening intently.
He related the tale while drinking tea, and when he was about to finish his tea…
“Brigadier General Beilschmidt and Lieutenant General Beaumarchais are seeking an audience.”
A heavy infantry guard outside the tent announced.
Jerome Jean de Beilschmidt was a renowned general who held the title of ‘Black Knight’ and ‘Hero of Erstein’.
He was now serving under Altina, but he was still the amongst the top generals of the Empire.
Regis trusted him unconditionally in a battle.
He entered the tent with a knight who had orange hair.
That was the commander of the Second Imperial Army, Lieutenant General Benjamin Emanuel de Beaumarchais.
The eldest brother of the Beaumarchais Marquis House.
His younger brother Jestin Gabriel was the deputy commander.
By the way, the third brother Germain was Latreille’s trusted aide.
Regis saw Benjamin during the Founding Day Festival in April, but they didn’t speak.
Right now, he showed an unsatisfied face after making his greetings.
The Second Army that was devastated by the High Britannians was assigned to the new Fourth Army by the orders of Field Marshal Latreille.
So Benjamin was now a subordinate of Altina.
The Belgarian Empire had a deep Patriarchal mindset.
Furthermore, Altina was just fifteen.
It was natural for Lieutenant General Beaumarchais who was almost forty to feel uncomfortable.
At the same time, the Beaumarchais Marquis House was one of the grand nobles based around the capital, which meant he belonged to the Second Prince faction.
The political enemy of the Fourth Princess in the struggle to inherit the throne.
If not for the war with High Britania that threatened the survival of the Empire, the two sides would be at each other’s throats.
He is probably thinking the same thing, Regis thought.
Will they use this chance and send him to his death in order to gain a slight advantage in their political struggle? It was natural for Benjamin to have such doubts.
He didn’t take a seat after entering the tent, but survey the surroundings with cautious eyes instead.
“Please have a seat.”
Regis gestured. Benjamin pondered for a moment and nodded.
He must have judged that it was inappropriate for him to remain standing alone.
Jerome who entered at the same time treated this place like his own home, grabbing a chair and sat down.
“Really, you are really a slave driver! Did you messed up when you ask the cavalry to transport resources!?”
“Ah… Sorry. The infantry would have taken too much time.”
At this moment all the key personnels had been gathered.
Sitting at the innermost end was Altina, with Regis on her left.
Jerome was closest to the entrance, and to his right was Benjamin who was stretching his back.
Clarisse stood at a corner like an expressionless statue. She would only smile in front of people she was close to, and would be as cold as a doll in the presence of others.
Altina said to Lieutenant General Benjamin who still seemed nervous.
“Thank you for your hard work! How is everyone doing?”
She spoke without restraint, which was her style.
However, Lieutenant General Benjamin was like a child who couldn’t solve a maths problem, staring at the table with his fists clenched tight.
To him, Altina wasn’t just royalty, she was also his commander.
But she was a girl fifteen years of age, and the central figure of his rival faction.
His complicated position and thoughts made him sweat profusely, and he couldn’t even make standard reports.
“The soldiers? They are confused since they were performing a mission they don’t understand. ‘Bring as much lake water back with buckets?!’ Are you trying to make a pond?”
“Well… Even though I explained how we are using it…”
“I don’t understand what you are saying, it’s like magic. Should we summon the inquisition?”
“... This is based on basic natural sciences.”
Altina leaned forward.
“Regis just got to the good part of the story he was telling just now. It is very interesting.”
“N-Nothing… It’s just a simple tale…”
Jerome glanced at Regis with a weird look.
“Hey Regis, I thought you are just a strategist, you are actually a bard too? Even though you are so weak!”
“... I am not a bard, but I already know that I am weak.”
“During my time in the capital, I hated sissy men the most! I won’t even talk to them if I see them in the palace. If you are a man, you should pick up a sword!”
“Then I will counterattack with my lance!”
“Erm… That’s not the problem here…”
“Tch, guys who can only coax little girls with sweet words are Putains! Garbage!”
“I-I am a princess! I won’t get coaxed!”
Regis shook his head in resignation.
Altina’s face was red from panic.
“Hah!? I wasn’t coaxed… I just thought that the story was interesting… Yes, that’s all.”
Even the roots of her ears were red.
Benjamin rolled his eyes when he saw this. Based on his common sense, this was an unthinkable situation.
Royalty should be treated with more respect, military conference should be more serious and to the point. Conversations between nobles should be more elegant.
Jerome knocked on the map laid out on the table.
It was a map that sketched a certain place.
Normally, it should be detailing the terrain around their own forces, but it wasn’t so. It was a map of a place that was further to the east.
“Hey Regis? You said the High Britannians will stop here. How do you know that?”
“... I already assigned the advanced work party some preparatory work.”
“Preparations? They are not deers or rabbits, why would they stay here? Are you going to dig tunnels again?”
“Hmm… The water level is higher in this region, it would be difficult to drain away water if we dig holes. It would be possible for the granary areas, but it is the territory of Duke Chautiene, and they have been raising sheeps for a living since ancient times…”
“Hah!? That doesn’t matter! Ten thousand enemy soldiers are 5Li (22km) away from there! How can we dispose of those ten thousand bastards!?”
“... Not a problem, I have a plan.”
Regis didn’t have confidence in his talent, he thought that he was just relying on similar problems and solutions he read from books.
“You said that again.”
“You heard about the famous work by Georges Jean 'the Hero of Canekkie Plains’? As a scientist, all of his works are based on scientific research…”
Jerome gave him a look.
“If I read that book, can I adapt to any situations?”
“Well… Not to such a fantastical degree… Everyone can only come up with a conclusion based on their own experiences and information, and combine it with the knowledge within books. If it was something they don’t know, they wouldn’t be able to make such a conclusion.”
“... When solving problems, one should search from the knowledge they already knew. My source of knowledge are books, I can only remember what books I read and their contents, that’s all.”
Jerome thought about it.
He had always dismissed Regis’ opinions, but he made a rare show of considering his words.
“This seem to resemble the relationship between muscles and food.”
“Ahh, I see. People will eat everyday. But when you move your muscles, you won’t think about each and everything you have eaten right?”
“I get it. So that means a guy like you is someone who remember what he eats when you move your muscles! What a weirdo!”
Even when Jerome told him that in a tone of despise, Regis didn’t get angry.
“Such an analogy isn’t wrong… but is it weird to know clearly where my knowledge stems from…?”
“Hah! Instead of that, explain the strategy first!”
After knowing about how he wasn’t normal, Regis thought it was expected that others think he was strange.
The knight Kruger was a second grade combat officer assigned to Jerome five years ago. That was before they were reassigned to the Beilschmidt border regiment.
His strength was top notched within the Fourth Army, and he was a trusted subordinate of Jerome.
With short brown hair and sharp eyes, he had a deep scar on his face, giving others the impression that he was very strict.
That might be so, the scar was from a knife wound inflicted by his wife when she discovered his extramarital affairs…
Second grade combat officer Abidal Evra was commissioned in the same class as him.
Born as a commoner, he was bestowed the nobility title of Chevalier. The two of them became the pillars of the knight corp.
Speaking of which…
In April, Abidal Evra was the one who escorted Princess Argentina to the capital and back.
After that, he was entrusted with many tasks.
Be it escorting Her Highness to Rouen City or guarding the strategist Regis enroute to the Harbour, it was all assigned to him.
Up till now, the mission of escorting the Princess has always been done by the Fort Evrard defense captain's grandson, the young knight Eric, but...
Ever since Eric got injured, the escort duties had all fallen onto Abidal Evra.
On the other hand, Kruger didn’t achieve outstanding results in his unit, and was now performing simple tasks of escorting the pioneers.
“Sigh, what a huge difference. I really want to do something grand that will make me famous…”
Unfortunately, such an opportunity never came.
Imperial Year 851, 3rd June, Evening—
Kruger led one hundred knights and headed east. But it wasn’t a glorious mission of being the vanguard.
They advanced 20Li (88km) to the east of the Fourth Army’s headquarters. They came here before the arrival of the High Britannian supply team.
The mission was to guard the pioneers.
The pioneers numbered about two hundred men.
They knew they had arrived before the enemy, but wasn’t sure why they need to prepare to camp for the night.
Instructions from the strategist Regis were… Unfathomable.
It wasn’t the preparation of a trap.
There wasn’t anything special here, and after surveying the surroundings, there weren’t even any tall hills in the vicinity.
The sun was about to set. With the sun turning red as it descend into the west, it cast elongated shadows of the soldiers standing in the moist grasslands.
When he was sighing, the captain of the pioneers, Ferdinand Stuttgart came to his side.
Hailing from the Germanian Federation, he performed exceptionally during the attack on Fort Volks in taking measurements and digging the tunnel, and was highly evaluated.
He was a short amiable man with a small moustache.
“Sir Kruger, our work here is done!”
“Oh? That’s faster than expected.”
“As instructed by the strategist, we only built it halfway.”
“What is that strategist thinking!?”
Kruger said loudly, and Ferdinand merely respond with a wry smile.
The pioneers started retrieving their tools, but there were some who were scattering them around.
“The things left behind are older tools. If we kept it too tidily, it wouldn’t look like we are faking it.”
“This is the instruction of the strategist too?”
“He is a man who is very particular about details.”
“Hmm… Anyway, the units that are carrying the heavier items will move off first, we will send the rest by horses and wagons.”
Ferdinand nodded and prepared to set off with his pioneers—
At this moment, the sentry from the west ran over.
“It’s the enemy! The enemy is here!”
“About thirty men! They appear to be scouts!”
Scouts will advance in front of the main party, and were responsible for detecting traps and ambushes.
Normally, there wouldn’t be so many of them, and they would immediately report back to the main party if they encountered any enemies.
This was to ensure that they won’t be wiped out even if they were ambushed. Sometimes, they would capture civilians who spotted them.
The civilians would be tasked to carry their supplies, and robbed of their fortune, such things were normal on the battlefield.
The face of the pioneers leader Ferdinand turned green.
“It’s the enemy! Sir Kruger, let’s escape!”
“Hold it! If we run off so simply, wouldn’t all our plans be exposed? The strategist must have considered this possibility.”
“Y-Yes. We didn’t notice the enemy and set up camp here. And then…”
“We will protect you, don’t worry.”
“I understand… The enemy is the Mercenary King Gilbert, a merciless man.”
Kruger squinted his eyes and looked to the west.
“Ahh… That’s right, the Mercenary King is here.”
An expert with the trident, it was said that he had never been defeated. Not just highly skilled in combat, he was also an excellent commander and had never lost any battles.
— What if I defeat him?
The supply unit of the High Britannians will affect the entire war.
And the one commanding the supply unit was the Mercenary King Gilbert.
The man who decided the fate of the Empire, such a title wouldn’t be an exaggeration.
If he is killed by me, Kruger, then I will be the man who lead the army to victory, and accomplishing great war merits would no longer be a dream. Just like Jerome who earned the title of ‘Hero of Erstein’, I will be hailed by the masses as the ‘Hero of Lafressange’. I might even become a real noble such as a Baron...
The figures of riders appeared on the west of the hill.
It’s the High Britannians.
Since the scouts were here, the main party must be nearby.
We have more men, taking those riders shouldn’t be a problem.
They are equipped with the newest rifles, but there are only thirty of them, we have one hundred cavalry, two hundred infantry— They might be infantry, but they are actually pioneers, even though it wasn’t obvious from their appearance.
The scouts withdrew.
If I challenged him to a one on one duel, the Mercenary King will probably accept.
Kruger was lost in his dream.
Just like how the Princess challenged the hero Jerome half a year ago— He imagined challenging the Mercenary King to a proper duel and winning.
“Shouldn’t we retreat, Sir Kruger!?”
Ferdinand asked fearfully.
I will put an end to this war—
In the end, Kruger swallowed these words back.
“Tch… By the way, what else did the strategist say?”
“I think it was… ‘Don’t be too caught up with achieving merits, retreating is also part of a battle.’ Something strange like that.”
“I-Indeed, an order to not stife for accomplishment on the battlefield is incomprehensible… Why is he known as the wizard?”
Maybe it’s a nickname the people gave the strategist, that’s all.
But could a normal man seize Fort Volks, save the defeated Seventh Army, or even win against the powerful ‘Queen’s Navy’?
“The strategist must have considered this too.”
Speaking of which, he ordered cannons not in range to fire, and archers out of range to shoot… During the naval battle, he also allow a large allied ship to be sunk.
Kruger broke out in cold sweat.
The scouts shouted again:
“The enemy main forces are here!”
They probably heard the intel from the scouts, so the soldiers holding rifles rushed over.
The Mercenary King was probably among them.
Kruger drew his sword.
And issued the order.
“All units… Retreat! Make haste!”
The cavalry immediately turn their back to the enemies and ran. The rest of the Pioneers either climbed onto carriages or horses, forgetting about the camp they built halfway and ran off.
— Damn it! Is there any meaning in escaping so shamefully!?
Just as planned, Kruger’s unit turned their back to the sun and headed east, crossing over two hills along the way.
The enemy was a supply team, most of the soldiers were tasked with protecting the supplies. They won’t send riders to pursue for a handful of enemies.
After Kruger made a huge detour, he made it back to the main camp of the Fourth Imperial Army.
By that time, the sky had completely darken.
Imperial Year 851, 2nd June, Noon—
On a narrow road in Lafressange hill, a carriage moved slowly.
The blacksmith Enzo sat on the luggage compartment.
The wagon was loaned by the blacksmith guild, it was a large wagon pulled by two horses. The top of the carriage was covered.
The Union wasn’t willing to loan out the carriage when they found out it was headed towards a battlefield, but when he explained the trip was to deliver the treasure sword for Princess Marie Quatre Argentina de Belgaria, their attitude changed immediately.
The Union chief took charge personally, saying: ‘If the sword is not delivered, it will be a disgrace to the blacksmiths of Rouen!’, and loaned the carriage to Enzo.
To prove his words, Enzo showed the sword to the chief…
As expected of the chief, he had seen the drawings of ‘Grand Tonnerre Quatre’ before, and complimented the restoration done to the sword.
‘Grand Tonnerre Quatre’, which the Princess Argentina borrowed from the Emperor, was altered during the time of peace. Maybe it was done for ceremonial use, or to make it easier for the reigning Emperor at that time to hold?
The result of altering it because of such non-issues was the addition of decorative items that broke its balance.
Regis once said ‘the art museum in the capital has paintings of the sword before it was altered.’ Enzo memorized it after visiting, and finally restored the treasure sword to its original form.
He was proud of his perfect work.
The new ‘Grand Tonnerre Quatre’ had a thick hilt, which matched the heavy body of the sword.
The balance was restored.
However, how many people could wield this sword freely?
The Princess was petite, so it was hard to imagine her holding it.
He had never seen the Princess using the sword in battle.
Although he fixed the treasure sword as requested, and was sure it was much better as a weapon now, it would require more arm strength than before.
— Well, he wouldn’t know the details unless he saw it for himself.
That’s why he had loaded his crafting tools onto the carriage.
Besides his toolbox was his disciple Lionel. He was carving a piece of wood, unaffected by the shaking carriage.
“Hmm? What is it, Master?”
“Ah… I actually wanted you to stay behind and take over my work.”
“I became your disciple because I admired your work. This is the most important job in master’s life right? I want to see it to the end.”
“The other disciples shied away when they knew I was heading into a war zone.”
In the end, only Lionel came along.
“It’s great that they accepted the job of staying behind. Thanks to them, we won’t dally on the customers’ requests even if I am not around.”
No matter how important the Princess’ job was, he couldn’t be late in handling the other customers’ requests.
If his disciples did their best, he won’t delay the other jobs he accepted even if he didn’t return in time.
“For their sake, we have to return alive.”
They bravely faced the unpredictable danger.
Enzo wondered if this man named Lionel was braver than him, or was he just simply optimistic.
“By the way, we should be reaching the next town soon.”
“Yes, the map does say there is a small town around here…”
A canvas was draped over over the carriage to shelter them from rain and the wind. He rolled up the canvas and looked outside…
“Wait,” he told the driver.
“Where’s the town?”
He thought the towns far away from the main road would be fine…
The fencing made to keep wild beasts away was in tatters.
A corpse on one end of the road bored the mark of bullets.
“... The High Britannians actually attacked the towns.”
“That’s too despicable.”
Lionel placed his hands on his chest to soothe his rage.
“What should we do!?” The driver asked.
“Just sneak through here like this,” Enzo answered.
If an invading army attacked a town, the purpose would be to pillage.
Be it people or items, they will rob everything of value.
Or rather, if anyone was still around, they would probably be enemy troops.
They advanced cautiously.
Lionel pointed in front.
“Someone is there!”
Enzo thought for a moment.
If it was the enemy, they should run away now. But it might be survivors.
The drivers who had small eyes was opening them wide right now.
“Do we run!?”
“... No! Let’s take a look!”
The carriage advanced slowly.
Enzo and Lionel leaned out of the carriage and stared at that place.
They only saw a cloak tied to a tree swaying with the wind, that’s all.
“... Hey? Lionel?”
“S-Sorry Master… I must have been mistakened…”
“Phew… don’t scare me like that.”
Enzo sighed softly.
At that moment—
The horse neighed and suddenly stopped.
The carriage also braked immediately, almost throwing Enzo off the carriage.
Lionel lost his balance, and the carving in his hand flew out.
The driver shushed the horses to calm them.
Enzo supported the large crate that was about to fall off, and pushed it back to its original position with some effort.
“Sorry! Something just dashed across!”
— What was that?
Maybe it’s an animal.
“My apologies, I must have alarmed you.”
The voice that drew near in an instant gave Enzo and the others a fright.
A man stood besides the driver.
An elderly man wearing a brown robe.
In his hand was a delicate carving.
“This fell off.”
His wrinkled face smiled, deepening them further.
After receiving that carving, Lionel bowed deeply.
“T-Thank you… Erm… Are you a survivor of this town?”
“No. I just reached here, and was thinking about searching for survivors.”
The old man shook his head.
Both parties fell silent.
As if they were keeping a moment of silence for the deceased townspeople, everyone kept quiet.
A moment later, Enzo asked:
“What brings you to this town?”
“I am running low on food, and was thinking of buying something here. I didn’t imagine that I would see such a scene.”
“What a disaster.”
“That’s true. Instead of a war, this was more like a catastrophe.”
Enzo thought as he clenched his fist.
Their provisions were limited. They wanted to rush to their destination with a light load, so they didn’t bring much food and water.
If they shared with the old man, they won’t have enough.
And giving some supplies to the old man would just delay the inevitable.
Even if he scavenge for food in the town to survive another day or two...
Enzo came from Rouen City to the east, which just happened to be the opposite direction the High Britannians were invading from.
Many of the cities were pillaged and the people ran away, leaving behind ruins.
Although there were still some relatively safer places...
Enzo knew that there was another town about two days journey by foot to the east.
“What are your plans?”
“Can you sell me some food, how much will it cost?”
Enzo wasn’t good at lying.
After pondering for quite a while, he explained the current situation to the old man with a wry smile.
“It’s the thought that counts, don’t feel bad about this. Since you came this way, there must be a task you want to complete, right?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“I have no intentions of holding back the strides of the young. Even if I pass on here on this land, I will be satisfied.”
Lionel thought about this seemingly deep words.
The driver asked uneasily.
“Dear customer, it will be troubling if we don’t have enough provisions.”
“Even so, I can’t just leave him…”
Enzo finally sort out his mind.
He turned to the old man.
“Sorry, we have to head to the battlefield. We will be joining the soldiers waiting for us, and head for one of the Imperial Armies.”
“Oh, an army.”
“This is urgent, we don’t have the time to make a detour to another town.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
The old man shook his head and shrug.
Enzo was thinking of another way.
“Well then, if you are willing to come with us to the war zone, we can give you a ride. How about it?”
The old man opened his eyes wide.
Lionel also looked at his master in surprise.
The driver muttered with a worried expression.
“Is that really fine? Our food and water might not be enough.”
“Even if he head east and reach the other town in several days, it might be deserted. He won’t see any towns unless he scale the mountains northwards, and there are no towns to the south.”
“Furthermore, even if we give the old man provisions for a day or two, it won’t be of much help.”
“That might be so…”
“Since we can’t just leave him, it would be better to bring him to the warzone. If we ration a little, we should be able to make it.”
The driver agreed and nodded.
If there wasn’t enough food, Enzo thought that he could just give his share to the old man. He wouldn’t die if he didn’t eat or drink for a day.
The old man asked:
“Do you have to head for the battlefield.”
“Yes, because we have something very important to do.”
“Hmmm… That’s true, instead of staying here, it would be better to follow you to the battlefield.”
“If we are lucky, we can meet up with the Imperial Army. Food and water wouldn’t be a problem then.”
The old man nodded deeply.
“You are a true man! I like that!”
“I am an old man who came from the capital, please take me with you.”
“I am a blacksmith from Rouen city, this is my disciple.”
“Good day, I am Lionel. From sewing machines to armour, do visit our store if you need anything!”
After hearing the disciple said something so casual, the old man laughed.
Enzo pointed at the load-carrying tray.
“Lionel, please make some space.”
“Alright. Let’s stack these boxes here… It would be better to tie the covers up, please wait a moment.”
Pardon me— The old man said and boarded.
Enzo unconsciously noticed something tied to the left of the old man’s brown robes.
“... You have a sword?”
“Of course. Not having any weapons while traveling is dangerous, this is for self defence.”
“It’s fine, just my occupational habit.”
“Regrettably, this isn’t anything valuable, just something cheap.”
The old man pulled back his cloak to show them his sword.
Just like he said, it was a normal mass produced sword that could be found anywhere.
Lionel who cleared some space gestured for the old man to sit on a rug.
“Your butt will hurt if you sit for too long.”
“Compared to camping out in the wild, this is heavenly.”
“My skills will become dull if I keep idling. If possible, can I sharpen your sword?”
“Hm? that, should be fine…”
The old man seemed to be waiting for Enzo to acknowledge, so Enzo said:
“Please leave it to him if it is okay with you. His skills aren’t bad. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he struck out on his own next year.”
“No, I’m still learning. I will still be counting on Master’s tutelage.”
As he spoke, Lionel took out his sharpening tools and prepared to get started.
The old man leaned on a crate, and sighed in relief.
“Phew, thank god for showing me grace.”
“Meeting in such a place was like a sign from god… I have prayed sincerely before, of course.”
The driver raised his whip and the carriage moved off once again.
Imperial Year 851, 3rd June, Night—
The sky was filled with stars.
They will be heading over today.
After being resupplied, the Fourth Army had plenty of equipment.
The commander and commissioned officers stayed in huge tents, the rank and file only had simple tents, but it was enough to shelter them from chill and rain.
In the center of the large tents were simple beds for Altina and the maid Clarisse.
Inside the tent besides them was the room of Regis who had been promoted to a commissioned officer…
Regis sat inside the carriage that was unhooked from the horses.
The white and beautiful carriage was large enough for six people to hold a meeting in it.
The windows were made from high quality glass, and the axles of the carriage were secured with springs.
This was the highest quality carriage in this era, not something that could be bought with the budget of a border regiment. It was a personal gift from the southern new noble Eleanor to Regis.
Designed as a mobile command center, it had a small foldable table, and Regis placed plenty of documents onto it.
The light from the lamps hanging on the walls were swaying.
The sound of knocking broke the silence.
Regis lift his head from his book and looked out the window.
The hills that were only illuminated by the stars were pitch dark. The only thing he could see from the windows was his reflection that was lit by lamp. He couldn’t see anything outside.
No matter what, someone dangerous wouldn’t knock the door.
Regis turned the handle and opened the carriage door.
The light shone on the visitor.
The swaying orange light contrasted with the fiery vermillion hair. Even the dim lamplight couldn’t conceal the breathtaking beauty of her porcelain white skin and ruby like eyes.
“Are you free, Regis?”
The one visiting was Altina.
Her lips were smiling, but it couldn’t hide the nervousness in her voice. Did she have something to discuss?
Regis tidied the books sprawled out on the seats.
His heartbeat was racing for unknown reasons.
It was already midnight, but it wasn’t anything unusual about a commander seeing a strategist the night before battle.
But the sight of her in the night had a different charm from usual. She had a fragrance that seemed to be from fairy tales. Regis wondered if he was dreaming.
Altina got onto the carriage.
And sat opposite Regis.
“Thank you for your hard work, still not turning in?”
“... I will be working through the night.”
“Is the preparation for tomorrow not done yet?”
“That isn’t so, the main tasks have been entrusted to Sir Jerome. We have begun the battle operation. According to the Pioneers that returned and scout reports, the enemy has set up camp in the place we predicted.”
“Can we win?”
“... According to the current situation, if we can’t defeat the supply team, it will make me wonder if they have the help of a wizard.”
“No, I just…”
“Alright alright, you are going to say ‘I just happen to know’, right?”
Altina said with a smile and Regis scratched his head.
She took one of the documents on the table and looked.
It was the map of this area, from Chaineboule City in the west to the hills of Lafressange.
“... What’s the matter?”
“Hey, I don’t understand something… Maybe I’m a bit dumb, but I don’t get this.”
“What is it?”
“I am thinking if Regis already expected the High Britanian supply team would escape from Chaineboule?”
It was rare to see Altina carefully choosing her words.
Regis didn’t answer.
“Sir Jerome’s unit wasn’t far from Chaineboule back then right? Why did you give the order not to attack the escaping enemy units?”
“For example, if we blocked the exit of the city, the supply unit wouldn’t be able to escape. We can then order the fleets to fire upon the city. Even the invincible Mercenary King would have no choice but to surrender right? Well… If I can think of it, Regis can do it too, I just want to know why you didn’t do so.”
It wasn’t a suspicious attitude.
Altina was like a curious student raising a question to her teacher.
Trusting your subordinates too much was dangerous…
But right now, Regis should be happy about being trusted.
“Hmm… I shouldn’t explain this too clearly…”
“No problem. There are no one else around the carriage, and no one will come here. Your words are just for my ears.”
Speaking of which, Altina’s ears were more keen than a dog, and her eyes could rival a cat.
“... I understand, then I will share my views… It’s not a reason that will make anyone happy, and might cause internal strife if the wrong people hears it. No matter how much you trust them, do not tell them about this.”
Altina nodded obediently.
Regis lowered his voice and said:
“... Simply put it’s because I don’t trust the Second Army.”
“Eh? Not confident in their strength?”
“... No, it’s not about that.”
Regis was hesitant to speak, but since he already said this much, he had to make it clear.
“Who can be sure that the Second Army is not in cahoots with the Britanians?”
Ah— Altina opened her mouth wide.
“... Sir Jerome and the border regiment are well trained soldiers. They didn’t let their guard down even after joining up with the Second Imperial Army. Even if they are in bed with the enemy, it wouldn’t cause too much damage. Protecting Altina is the top priority… That’s why I entrust this mission to them.”
“But things won’t be so simple when we fight the Britannians. If they turn on us in the midst of battle, we will suffer greatly.”
“So that’s what you think.”
“... We might all be soldiers for the same nation, but they might not be completely on our side.”
“Then why didn’t you tell me this before hand?”
“You are an straightforward person, if I ask you to be wary of them, your attitude would be completely different. On top of that, the Second Imperial Army was reorganized into the Fourth without prior warning and have a new commander, it was impossible for them not to feel a little a little resistant to this.”
“That’s true, Benjamin always looks so serious.”
“... He is probably wondering if the commander will betray them… Like using them as a sacrificial pawn to bait the enemy.”
“I won’t do that!”
“... Let’s assume that in a terrible situation, the Fourth Army had to choose to sacrifice half of our soldiers. I would definitely choose to save my own border regiment and old guards… If I didn’t do so, the soldiers would probably protest.”
“Ughh… That… I can understand.”
Because the Beilschmidt border regiment was also part of the Fourth Imperial Army…
It was a fact the Fourth Army was formed after absorbing the Second Army. It was natural that the old units led by the commander Altina would become the core of the Fourth Army.
If the old guards didn’t receive better treatment, they will feel that it was unfair.
For humans, injustice was a strong medicine.
Even more so if it was a matter of life and death.
Jealousy and survival instinct will make them uneasy, which will fill them with rage, and become a trigger point for a riot.
“... When the new troops joined our ranks, the thing I watched closely was the old guards and whether they felt any unfairness. However, if the preferential treatment is too obvious, it will weaken the cohesiveness of the new soldiers. I wanted Altina to not be over cautious before we find a balance point in how we treat our troops…”
“Regis is right. If I thought that they might betray us from the start, I will show an unnatural attitude.”
It was a bit unexpected, and Regis sighed.
Altina noticed and asked:
“What’s the matter?”
“Nothing, I just feel that you have grown.”
“I-Is that so? Where? Which part?”
Altina’s cheeks blushed, and she flicked her hair and placed her hand over her chest discreetly.
Regis gritted his teeth and said with a serious face:
“... If it was the old you, you will definitely say angrily ‘I will hide my suspicion carefully!’”
“But if it is the current Altina, you won’t need to duel with Sir Jerome in order to improve your command relationship with him.”
In the past, Altina challenged the former commander Jerome to a duel in order to become the de facto commander of the Beilschmidt border regiment.
She won back then, but now…
If she was good with negotiations and socializing, there would be other ways to resolve that.
“T-That’s not true, the duel was necessary! I knew my strength from the very start, I won’t act like a stubborn child putting on a front!”
“Really? If Sir Jerome rode his horse and used his lance for the duel, how would you handle it?”
“Eh? Erm… I already knew from his personality that he wouldn’t do that!”
“Hmmm… You didn’t say ‘I will win even if that happens!’, you certainly have grown.”
Regis seemed to have overdid it, as Altina’s eyes became watery.
So he smile wryly and said:
“... Isn’t that great… You are just fifteen, you won’t be qualified to be the Empress if you don’t grow further.”
“I’m not qualified? I can’t do it?”
“Not right now… But people will grow. To be a qualified Empress, there are many things you have to learn.”
“... Regrettably, to become a ruler, learning how to doubt others is necessary.”
“No problem. If doubting others makes me unhappy, I will read a poem by the window to change my mood.”
She was royalty by birth. She should be enjoying a peaceful life. But she abandoned her life of luxury, and committed herself to the battlefield to fulfill her dreams. Being too suspicious would hold her back instead.
Altina went back to the topic.
“You stopped Jerome from cutting off the High Britania Army that was escaping Chaineboule because of your distrust of the Second Army, is that right?”
“... Yes, and also, I am not very confident that we would win.”
“The enemy has about 15,000 soldiers right?”
“Even though the Seventh Imperial Army are mostly infantry, they still numbered 20,000, but were powerless before the enemies’ 10,000 men.”
“That’s true. We only have 16,000 men, and quite a number are injured.”
“In terms of training, the Seventh Army is stronger. After taking all this into consideration, I feel that it would be too difficult for Sir Jerome to intercept the supply unit. And winning might not be a good thing.”
“What do you mean?”
“... After this war is over, we will be struggling against Prince Latreille for the throne. If the army that is supporting us suffers huge losses, it would be bad.”
“Instead of that, shouldn’t we prioritize the defence of the Empire?”
“... ‘Those who can’t see what will happen in a thousand years have no right to discuss politics’, Mr Villoresi wrote that in his history book ‘Tipoly's Rampart’. He thinks that if you can’t consider a problem a thousand years later right now, you are not qualified to be a leader of a nation.”
“But, if the nation is falls, there won’t be a future for everyone.”
“... Even so, we still need to treat both sides equally. It is the privilege of the people to give up on ‘prioritizing the present’. If the leaders of a nation abuse this privilege, the nation will fall a thousand years later. And when it falls, there would still be plenty of people alive then. The nation will need to take responsibility for these citizens in the future.”
“Ugh… A thousand years later?”
“Well, in contrary to this saying, there will be people who think ‘this problem will not be relevant a thousand later’. But of course, the time frame can also apply to tomorrow, next year, next decade or next century.”
“What if it was a choice between today or the future?”
“... If the situation calls for us to discard one or another, that isn’t really a choice. Quoting a line from the book ‘Wall of Teebow’, ‘to drink poison today or tomorrow’. If one don’t have the resolve to choose, they can’t be a leader of a nation.”
“Is that so?”
“... Normally speaking, most people will choose to drink poison tomorrow. They will hold on to the hope that another choice will come up tomorrow.”
“But people who place their hope on miracles are no different from gamblers and girls who daydream, and cannot shoulder the responsibility of guiding the people. Miracle won’t happen in reality, Prince Charming will never come, and only destruction awaits the nation.”
“It is wrong for a ruler to hope for a miracle.”
“... Well then, what will you choose?”
Some other things were also written in the book.
If someone made the third choice of ‘not drinking poison today or tomorrow’, that person would be the least suitable to be a ruler. That would be unrealistic and unwilling to face the problem head on. Just a fool who didn’t even think about solving the issue.
These words that seemed to be idle chatting concealed Regis’ true thoughts.
Altina answered without a second thought.
“Cut down the guy who is asking about drinking poison, of course!”
She puffed her chest out and stood proudly.
Regis was stunned, and laughed the next instance.
“Hahaha… I see. As expected of Altina.”
“W-What is it? Is it weird?”
“... No, well, instead of strange… This is the right answer.”
She faced the problem head on and thought hard about how to handle it. Such an attitude was admirable.
Although her knowledge was lacking.
But Regis could give her hints to solve the problems.
Confidence filled his heart like never before. He had been bearing this burden since he became the strategist after all.
Altina said unhappily.
“What is so strange about this?”
“... Maybe the founding Emperor of Belgaria thought the same way when he built this Empire. We should use a strategy that matches the current era… That is why the battle tonight is most suitable for you.”
“That’s right! We just need to defeat the supply unit of High Britania! I can fight anytime! Even if my opponent is the Mercenary King!”
Altina stood up and said grandly.
Regis looked at the clock hung on the carriage.
“If the operation proceeds smoothly, we will begin the attack in four hours. Catch up on your sleep before that.”
“What about you?”
“I have to consider the things that will happen after this operation ends. Don’t worry, I will sleep tomorrow morning.”
“You are already certain that we will win?”
Regis smiled without saying anything.
Altina blinked her big ruby like eyes and jumped off the carriage with a smile.
“See you later then, Regis!”
“Alright. We are in the middle of a war, be careful.”
She turned gracefully and left. Regis looked through the window and saw her figure disappear into the night.
Previous Chapter | Main Page | Next Chapter