Editor: Darkdhaos, Ice Phantom, CEObrainz
The next day.
It started raining early in the morning.
It was terrible weather for camping out. Not only was it cold, but there wasn’t a place to sleep, which made the ordeal troublesome. So it was great that they made it to Fort Bonaire, where the soldiers were happy that they could sleep under a roof.
Regis told everyone the plan that he would be heading to the capital during the morning conference.
He would need to leave the unit for more than a month.
Benjamin, Jestin and Coignieres treated this as only natural. In their eyes, this was very normal for a Belgarian soldier.
Bestowing the title of Chevalier to a commoner, they couldn’t think of any reason to reject this. This was common sense for the country.
Jerome clicked his tongue and didn’t say anything more. Even though he ordered Regis to ‘Get out and go back to the capital’, the first time they met he seemed to think this was a pity.
Altina nodded quietly. After saying so much to her last night, she finally accepted.
Clarisse who stood at the corner of the room was listening in, but didn’t show any emotions or reaction.
After that, the troops were also informed that Regis was leaving the unit.
Nobody was surprised by this decision.
After all, this was a summons from the Ministry of Military Affairs, and he had to carry out the orders unless the commander filed a protest.
Or rather, it would be a bigger surprise if Regis ignored the order and resigned.
If he did resign, he could travel with the unit as Altina’s servant, and the soldiers would still follow his plans without question.
However, they were not engaging the enemy right now.
Regis started thinking about the things that occurred to him when he heard about this.
—— There is something I have to do in the capital.
“Well then, for today’s topic. As support for the Seventh Army, the detachment that would be sent to the east…”
“Isn’t the former Second Army taking care of that?”
Altina asked, and Regis scratched his head.
“In the previous battles, there are problems in the coordinations of the units. And of course, improving this would be the main objective for the eastern front line support mission… But if we don’t take some measures against it, we will repeat the same mistakes. That’s why I want to send some former Beilschmidt Border Regiment officers to go with them.”
“You want them to train the Second Army while they support the Seventh Army?”
Jerome was not thrilled.
“You want to take my subordinates from me again? You know how bloody long the training is going to take?”
“... Sorry. But I think Sir Jerome is very good with nurturing troops.”
“Hmmp! I don’t remember nurturing anything. I just order them to do the necessary training, those who can’t or won’t keep up can just get lost.”
“Willingness to follow orders and keep up with training proves that the soldiers are well disciplined. Most importantly the ability to fight under Sir Jerome’s flag is a sign of valor.”
There weren’t many warriors more terrifying than the ‘Black Knight’ in the entire continent. The soldiers that didn’t falter under his training were definitely brave.
“How irritating… When you say such flattering words, it means you have some sort of scheme.”
“... Not at all.”
“Who are you picking? Who will be sent to the east?”
It’s hard to say this out loud.
But this was the best choice.
Regis said his proposal.
“Erm… Actually… I wish to ask Sir Jerome to go to the east…”
Jerome had an expression as if he was looking at a retard.
“Are you serious?”
“I thought about other candidates… But the only one who could train the former Second Army to work in the same way as the Beilschmidt Border Regiment, take command even though it’s someone else’s unit, and is capable of boosting the depleted eastern front lines… The only person capable of doing this is…”
“What about the Fourth Army?”
“Even if the Germanian Federation attacks, we could use Fort Volks in a defensive battle. And we also captured the type 41 Elswick cannons too, so we won’t lose in a cannon shoot out.”
And some of the captured High Britannia cannon crew turned coat and joined the Belgarian Empire.
Getting them to fight their home nation might be out of the question, but they could be counted on in a fight for survival against other countries.
Compared to the defensive fort battle, the eastern frontline could utilize the strength of the cavalry much more.
“I heard the eastern terrains are hills and forest, so the cavalry isn’t of much use.”
“That’s true, if we launch an attack, we will have to fight in the forest against the Estaburg Kingdom soldiers who excel in ambushes. That will neutralize the advantage of the cavalry. However…”
Regis laid out the map.
He proposed the plan of pulling back the defense line, and fighting the enemy on the plains.
After confirming with Coignieres, they had decided to focus on defence.
Regis already lost count how many times Jerome clicked his tongue.
“This doesn’t suit my character!”
“... But this is the most logical method…”
“Regis, you might be good, but you don’t have what it takes to command others.”
“Hmmp… You should get a taste of how it feels to let your subordinates take part in nonsensical battle plans!”
“Sorry, but I think this is the plan that will incur the fewest casualties…”
“You really like to talk about logic, have no greed, and are too normal. You think the soldiers on the battlefield are decent people? If what they are after is ‘not to die’, they won’t fight in the first place. It’s useless to tell them that the plan will ‘incur the fewest casualties’, telling them it’s a plan where they can earn war merits will spur their morale better. Those with too much greed will die fast, but those without greed can’t become soldiers.”
Regis lowered his head.
It’s true that he didn’t have the mentality of a soldier, and won’t understand in a true sense no matter how many books he reads.
“... I will keep that in mind.”
“Hmmp… Well, putting aside what the soldiers think, this is better than a moronic plan that will lead to a mountain of corpses… And maybe they were influenced by you? Even those guys from the infantry are getting cocky and discussing tactics.”
“Is that so?”
“In the end, even those illiterate guys are imitating you, and say that they want to learn to read books or something.”
This was a wonderful thing for Regis.
And he felt excited.
Jerome looked even more irritated.
“Don’t make such a pleased expression, the more knowledge there is, the more troublesome things get!”
“Ha, haha… Is that so…”
His actions influencing how the soldiers think, and getting them interested in words and books, that was very exhilarating.
The Imperial Fourth Army planned to spend the entire day resting, and set off for fort Volks when the weather cleared tomorrow.
And the detachment will set off to the east with the Seventh Army.
Fort Bonaire might be just a short distance from the capital, but the road had not been fixed and would delay his travel time. Even it was just half a day’s journey, setting off early meant he would return to the Fourth Army earlier. And so, Regis decided to set off in the rain.
Also, it would be better to collect information as soon as possible.
The rain fell intermittently.
Regis looked out to the backyard from the entrance of the central tower.
To go to the capital, he would need to set off from the north gate to the back.
He was now waiting for the carriage to be prepared.
Clarisse who was here to send him off came over.
“Regis, are you really leaving?”
She looked lonely.
It’s probably due to the fact no one else was around, the two of them stood closer than usual.
Regis didn’t want to go too —— But it couldn’t be helped.
“Because I have something I have to do in the capital.”
“Haa… What should we do…”
“I already made the necessary arrangement, Altina will definitely do it well.”
“Yes, Her Highness will be fine, she is my Princess after all… But if Regis isn’t here anymore, what should I do… I might not be able to live on…”
“Haha… That’s exaggerating too much.”
“If I don’t have anyone to tease, I might get bored to death.”
“You are just using me to kill time!?”
“Fufu… It will be a pity that I won’t be able to hear such a retort…”
“You won’t die just because of that! … Well, I think it’s a pity that I won’t be able to drink tea prepared by Ms Clarisse…”
“I won’t lie.”
“Is that so… Seems like I am just a teapot to Regis…”
“That’s not what I mean!?”
Clarisse changed her attitude and looked at him seriously.
Her eyes looked a little misty.
“Regis… Please be careful… Before thinking about the Princess and the Empire, do think about yourself too.”
“Thank you, take care of yourself too, Ms Clarisse.”
Clarisse suddenly pulled away.
And lowered her head deeply.
As Regis was wondering what was the matter ——
“Oh! He’s here he’s here!”
Enzo walked over from the other side of the corridor.
“Regis, are you going to the capital?”
“Yes, what about you, brother-in-law? Want to travel together with me to the capital? It would be slightly further than making a beeline for Rouen city, but it would be safer with the guards.”
“Hmm… As for that… I have some jobs I need to do.”
He was a blacksmith in the city and wasn’t part of the military, and shouldn’t have the obligation of working for the army.
“Yes I know I don’t have to work in the army… But I can’t just abandon the soldiers who entrust their lives to their weapon in the frontline half way right? As the soldiers brought a pile of weapons for me, I still have to work on a lot of them.”
As a strategist, Regis was really grateful for that.
But as a relative, he was worried.
“Is this really fine?”
“Well, there is some problem… But I only taught the blacksmiths in the army halfway, and if I let them be, that might make their job even more dangerous.”
“Erm… I understand. But are you going with them all the way to Fort Volks?”
“They will be setting off when the rain stops tomorrow right? It can’t be helped then. And the adjustments for ‘Grand Tonnerre Quatre’ aren’t done yet.”
Now that he mentioned it, he did say he would need to work on the hilt to better fit Altina’s hands.
“Will your shop in Rouen city be fine?”
Enzo started muttering:
“I am worried about them too… Well, for the jobs my apprentices can’t handle, I told them to ask my brothers for help, so it will be fine.”
Enzo’s only relative should be his elderly mother.
He waved his hands.
“No, not real brothers, it’s the people who studied under the same master as me, my fellow apprentices.”
“I have five brothers in Rouen city. Every one of them have excellent skills and is trustworthy, the people in that city are all like that though.”
He displayed his pride in his city.
“... As expected of a city of blacksmiths.”
“But, there is another problem…”
His confident expression withered suddenly like a dried up tree.
“W-What is it?”
“Hah~ … What should I tell my wife… And the kids are still young…”
“Do you think she will accept it if you send her a letter?”
“She won’t… I think she will go all the way to Fort Volks.”
“That won’t do! War is going to break out there.”
“I object too.”
If they needed to seal the Fort, there wouldn’t be any guarantee that they could provide food for people other than soldiers.
And water would be a precious commodity in summer.
There might be an outbreak of diseases too.
Even if Altina receive her as a guest, it would be questionable if she could live there well.
Enzo started rambling.
“Hmm… What if I don’t tell her where I am going?”
“My sister already knew that you took on the request to repair the Princess’ weapon. If you are moving with the army, it would be easy to imagine which one you are with. And it isn’t hard to find out where the Fourth Army is garrisoned. Unlike warships, this information isn’t classified.”
“What a headache.”
“I will write her a letter, and persuade her not to be reckless.”
“It’s not too far from the capital, so if possible, please pay her a visit.”
“I understand, I don’t know if it would work though. You too brother-in-law, please contact her after deciding when you will return.”
“That’s true, I don’t plan to die in the army. I will go back after finishing the other requests and the Princess’ sword.”
Enzo raised one hand.
“Then take care of yourself, we will probably be meeting soon.”
“I will, please be careful too.”
Enzo then left the corridor in brisk steps.
As if she was taking turns with Enzo —— Fanrine and her escorts walked over from the corridor.
Clarisse who was about to lift her head lowered it once more.
Regis nodded in greeting.
She responded politely.
“Ara, who was that gentleman? He don’t look like a soldier…”
“That’s my brother-in-law, Enzo Smith, a great blacksmith from Rouen city. He is modifying the Princess’ sword right now, and is also repairing the soldier’s weapon.”
“How amazing! As expected of Sir Regis, even your brother-in-law is amazing.”
“No, this has nothing to do with me…”
Those were probably just flattering words, but these compliments still made him itch.
Regis scratched his head.
Fanrine said apologetically.
“Speaking of which, did I made you wait long, Sir Regis?”
“No it’s fine, my carriage is still being prepared too.”
“Is that so… That’s great, I don’t want to make Sir Regis wait too long…”
At this moment, she looked at the surroundings.
“By the way, are the people sending you off not here yet?”
“There won’t be that many people, I am just an admin officer after all. And I am just leaving the unit for a month for my own convenience. It’s natural that no one would come.”
“Considering Sir Regis’ accomplishment, I don’t think so.”
“I am just suggesting things I already know, the Princess is the one who wins the battle.”
If the commander leaves the unit, even for a short while and it is raining, the soldiers will still form ranks and play bugles to send him off.
But Regis didn’t need such a grand farewell, and would panic if it happened.
“Not at all, I can only work as a strategist because of the princess believing in me. Maybe if it is the Princess who is leaving, but making such a big fuss for me would be worrying.”
“Sir Regis thinks too little of yourself, I have only been in this unit for a day, but I understand how highly the soldiers evaluate you.”
“Even so… The only one who came is just Ms Clarisse…”
“Ahh, the maid over here ——”
At this moment, Regis realized he messed up.
Fanrine belonged to the Ministry of Military Affairs and is a daughter of grand nobility. Maybe she wouldn’t count a maid as a person.
But contrary to what Regis thought, she smiled gently.
“Pleased to meet you, I am Fanrine Veronica de Tiraso Laverde.”
“... Pleased to meet you.”
Clarisse said monotonously and bowed deeply. She gave an impression completely opposite that of Fanrine.
But there wasn’t any hostility.
Seemed like Regis was worrying too much.
Just as he was thinking that —— One of the escorts, a young knight showed a face of disgust. He was about Regis and Fanrine’s age, and his hair was styled like seaweed.
“Lady Fanrine, please consider your position. The daughter of a Duke doesn’t need to greet the likes of a maid.”
Fanrine looked troubled.
“Hah… My apologies… He is the escort prepared by House Tiraso Laverde, akin to someone here to monitor me, so he is a bit overbearing.”
“It’s an unfortunate misunderstanding to think of me as being overbearing. I am just carrying out the master’s wish that Lady Fanrine acted in a way that befits a daughter of a Duke House.”
“Grandfather is overbearing too.”
Clarisse kept her head bowed.
Regis started feeling bad about this.
Most people in the unit weren’t concerned about this, so he forgot.
In the Belgarian Empire, there was an insurmountable gap between commoners and nobles.
Clarisse probably acted like a perfect maid in front of others in order to avoid such a situation, Regis felt he was too careless about this.
Regis pointed to the backyard.
“Oh, the carriage is here, let’s set off.”
Fanrine nodded, and the knight didn’t say anything more.
They then walked to the yard.
Regis turned back to Clarisse who was keeping her head down.
He said softly.
But the emotionless Clarisse didn’t react.
It couldn’t be helped.
—— I will write a letter later.
When it reached Altina, she will pass it along to Clarisse.
Fanrine didn’t wait before her own carriage, but in front of Regis’ white carriage.
“Sir Regis! What a beautiful carriage!”
“Ah? Ahhh… That’s a gift from Lady Eleanor.”
“Ara, from my sister!? She already has three husbands, and to show such passion to a young man, how indecent.”
“No, it’s not like that… This is a thank you gift for helping her during the Founding Day festival, and to strengthen her political ties with the princess…”
“Fufu… Sir Regis’ words are really interesting.”
Did I say anything strange!?
She looked his way in the rain.
“Erm, if possible, can I ride in the same carriage with Sir Regis?”
“Eh, but the carriage over there…”
The carriage from the Ministry of Military Affairs was much more elegant than normal carriages, and was as good as this carriage.
Fanrine showed a lonely expression.
“Ah… My apologies for making such a rude request…”
“No, it’s fine… It’s a good chance, if you can tell me about the situation in the capital before we reach, it would be a great help. Do tell me about the Ministry of Military Affairs… At least those you are allowed to divulge...:”
Her expression turned into a smile immediately.
“If I can be of use to Sir Regis, I can tell you everything!”
Regis opened the door and let Fanrine board first. This was an etiquette all men of the Empire, even children would know.
Even if it was raining, he wouldn’t board first.
Regis then got on.
Fanrine sat on the seat facing the back, and offered Regis a silk handkerchief.
“My apologies for getting you wet.”
“Haha, it’s fine… I am a soldier after all, it’s fine to get a little wet.”
“Ara, how manly.”
This was the first time he was told that.
Fanrine was blushing a little for some reason.
They could hear the young knight shouting from outside the window: “Alright, move out!”
It seemed his attitude towards Clarisse wasn’t out of malice, but dedication to his duty. This meant that her escort was a reliable man.
After hearing the instructions of the knight, the driver spurred the horses to move.
The sound of trotting in the mud could be heard.
The carriage shook a little.
Regis was troubled.
“... That’s strange.”
“What’s the matter?”
“I don’t see any soldiers…”
“Ah, so it is strange that no one is sending you off?”
“No, that’s fine, but why isn’t there anyone at the sentry posts?”
After passing through the cramped backyard, they reached the north gate of Fort Bonaire.
The rain splattering against the glass on the window was getting stronger.
Fanrine lift her waist.
“Sir Regis, look over there!”
She was facing the back from her seat, and pointed out the window —— towards the Fort.
Regis wondered what was happening and opened the window, then looked out.
On top of the stone walls of Fort Bonaire, soldiers with bugles stood in a row and played in unison.
It was the bugle call to send off a unit going off on a campaign.
And then, rows of soldiers appeared on the hills on both side of the road, the colours of the Empire and unit hanging on the top of their lance.
Abidal Evra was there.
“To our strategist, Sir Regis d’Auric ——— Salute!!”
The soldiers formed in neat rows on both side of the road straightened their backs, clenched their fist and raised the lance in their left hand. It was like the formation on the streets of the capital during the Emperor’s review of the troops.
Regis was speechless.
“... W… Why?”
“Of course, that’s how great Sir Regis’ accomplishment is.”
Sitting in her seat, Fanrine stared at Regis with the same eyes as her sister, ‘La Renard du Sud (the Vixen of the South)’.
Without regards for the rain seeping in, Regis watched the soldiers just like this with the windows open.
They were singing the military song to send off a campaign.
“Please be safe, Sir Strategist!”
“Thanks to you, we didn’t die!”
“Long live the Wizard!”
“You have to come back!!”
“Please grant the blessing of the gods to the hero who saved the Empire!”
“You are the best Strategist!”
“I love you, Sir Strategist!!”
“Please come back soon! Promise!”
“Sir Regis, we will wait for you!”
It was a grand farewell.
Regis whose eyes were opened wide lowered his head slowly.
“... I don’t understand.”
“The soldiers know. Who is the one that allowed them to win.”
“Of course, the princess did her part too. But if not for the strategist named Regis d’Auric, they would have lost the earlier battles right?”
Regis shook his head.
“Not at all, even without me… They will still win by some other way, the Belgaria Empire is strong after all.”
“You are too humble.”
“No. I… I didn’t do it well at all, I failed! There were more casualties than expected! In the end, I couldn’t come up with a battle plan with no sacrifices! A lot of people died, how can I face their families? I don’t think I performed well at all!”
Fanrine smiled gently.
“Sir Regis, did the people around tell you to… ‘think about the people who lived?”
“... Erm… I was told that.”
Clarisse consoled him.
Altina told him that too.
“I feel the same. Instead of those who have passed, Regis should think about those who were saved. For the sake of the survivors… And what will come in the future…”
“... This is the ‘right answer’.”
Regis understood too.
But the more he was complimented, the more Regis regret on not doing better back then.
As time passes, thoughts about ‘there was still this method, and that method I could have used’ started surfacing.
Fanrine looked out the window.
“Fufu… Being subjective is important, but accepting an objective evaluation is important too, even if it is better or worse than your own judgement…”
“Even if it is better or worse…”
She nodded and in her gentle smile, she hid her sharp eyes.
A woman with a unique atmosphere.
“Sir Regis, being highly evaluated means that others will have great expectations of you. No matter how unconfident you are, those who succeed would be expected to bring success the next time. Just like those who fail being looked down on, it is unavoidable.”
“... That seemed to be so. No matter what story it is, this will happen naturally.”
“No matter how confident you are of yourself, or the expectations others have of you… All Sir Regis can do is do your best. So, it will be fine to accept the expectation and evaluation others have of you, right?”
It was pointless to state that he had no confidence before others anyway.
He couldn’t change the situation even if he had no confidence.
He would just be stuck before the problems he had to overcome.
—— What he should do was not to lament his lack of confidence, but to find the best solution for the next problem.
“Please puff your chest out a little more, Sir Regis. You don’t need to wave, but at least look at the people sending you off.”
“Ms Fanrine is a really strong person.”
“Fufu… Sir Regis, there are people in this world who have to shoulder heavy expectations the moment they are born. That’s why I have gotten used to it.”
“I see, that’s great advice.”
Regis finally lifted his head.
There were people he knew amongst the rows of soldiers.
A soldier with one ear —— The militia Ducasse interlocked the fingers on his hands as if he was praying, then raised his hands.
“Sir Strategist!!! Thank you!!!!”
It was an exceptionally loud voice.
He mentioned that he want to protect his family.
If the High Britannia Army marched into the capital, the surrounding nations would attack too. No matter the outcome of this war, his family would definitely be exposed to danger.
Regis successfully helped Ducasse’s family.
It was something to be happy about.
Even though the eastern frontlines were still in turmoil, they have successfully protected them from the High Britannia Army.
Regis protected the life of others.
He felt a warmth growing in his chest.
His eyes were heating up.
“... I, was of use to someone else?”
“Sir Regis saved the lives of the million people living in Belgaria.”
Fanrine said calmly.
Regis pressed down on his eyes, and trembled his shoulders.
After passing through the formation of the soldiers sending them off, the carriage sped up and head for the capital.
The sound of bugles grew distant.
Imperial Year 851, June 10th. Regis d’Auric left the Fourth Army.
The large numbers of street lamps illuminated the city in yellow light.
It was still a raining, but they finally reached the capital at night.
Regis looked out at the city through the carriage’s window.
“Sir Regis has not returned to the capital for a long time right…?”
Fanrine who was sitting opposite him asked.
“I did come back once during Founding Day, but there was a festival then, so the scenery was different than usual.”
“What are your plans for now? It is already late, it would be better to visit the Ministry of Military Affairs tomorrow morning.”
“That’s true… Anyway, I should spend the night somewhere.”
“Ara, you haven’t decide where to stay?”
“There’re people I know here, but going there all of a sudden will just trouble them, and I need somewhere to park the carriage.”
“Since you are a soldier, how about asking the garrison unit?”
“That’s the Imperial First Army here. I got in a skirmish with them just two months ago, I won’t have enough lives to survive there.”
“Now that you mention it…”
If Regis asked them for a place to stay, he felt that his room would be a morgue.
Just thinking about it sent shivers down his spine.
“I used to have a house at the corner of the Empire, but after I entered the Military Academy and my sister married, it was sold.”
“Ara, what about your parents?”
“They died from illness, something that is quite common here.”
“I see… Me too, my real mother passed away from illness…”
“My mother gave birth to sister Eleanor, me and my younger brother Roland passed away because of illness. My father remarried, and my step mother bored two more sisters.”
“Ah, I see…”
Regis remembered Eleanor saying her third sister was just eight years old.
Now that he thought about it, the age gap between the sisters were big, so it was the child of the stepmother.
At this moment, Fanrine looked out the window dejectedly.
“I shouldn’t be asking about someone else’s family… Is there anything bothering you?”
“Eh? Ah, sorry… I just…”
“Maybe I shouldn’t have asked…”
Fanrine waved her hands frantically.
“No, how could it be! I’m just a little concerned about my brother Roland.”
“It’s a shame, I don’t know who he takes after, but my brother’s ideology is a bit extreme… That’s why he was studying abroad in the Kingdom of High Britannia.”
Not studying in Belgaria, ideology that couldn’t be mentioned and studying abroad in High Britannia…
“... He is a Liberal?”
“I don’t deny their perspective, they should be free to set their own values.”
“Ara! But Sir Regis is a soldier, and the strategist of the princess!”
“Please don’t mix them up with democratic revolutionist, although they are gaining influence… However, drastic changes will only lead to chaos. The country needs to change for the better right? Then there should be a need to reference all kinds of ideologies, so learning in different realms would benefit the nation.”
“Heehee… Thank you very much, my brother would be happy to hear that.”
“No, I just…”
However, Roland was studying abroad in High Britannia.
That was worrying indeed.
Although their forces near the capital had retreated, they had yet to leave Imperial territory, or negotiate for peace.
Right now, the Belgaria Empire was shaken from the death of the Emperor, while the High Britannia Army still have a sizeable number despite losing their supply lines. The war between the nations still rages on.
“He did write a letter…”
“Since you contacted him, then please be at ease.”
“Yes, I also reminded him to be careful.”
“You should be able to meet him soon, this war won’t last too long.”
According to Regis’ prediction, Latreille plans to end the war with High Britannia as soon as possible.
The tolls of this war was really heavy, recovering their battle potential should be their top priority.
And if Latreille planned to reined the nobles in, there would be a need to be guarded against rebellions.
It wasn’t really possible to plan a counter attack.
And they didn’t have the men to spare.
—— I want to hear what Prince Latreille thinks directly.
Fanrine clapped her hands at this moment.
“That’s right, Sir Regis, how about coming to my mansion?”
“It might be a small place, but it has room for carriages, is near the palace and is very convenient.”
“Isn’t that… on the noble streets?”
“Sir Regis is already a noble.”
The noble mansions around the palace were all extravagant as if they were showing off their power and authority.
There were guards everywhere patrolling the streets, and would glare at any commoners who came close.
It was true that Regis was considered a noble, but he still couldn’t keep his cool at such a place.
“It would be a great help if you agree to this.”
“... But why?”
“I was tasked by the Ministry to protect Sir Regis.”
General Affair Officer ‘protecting’ a Third Grade Admin Officer?
“I see… so this is surveillance?”
“The big wigs in the ministry seemed to be worried. They are afraid of Sir Regis who took down Fort Volks and achieve so much merit in the war against the High Britannia.”
“They think too highly of me.”
“Hee hee… Is that so? If Sir Regis thinks seriously about it, are you sure you can’t ‘conquer the capital with the Fourth Army’?”
“That’s a needless worry.”
The people in the palace exaggerated rumours about him too much. It would be troubling if the war reports were treated as a way to kill time by the nobles.
“No matter what, I was ordered to ‘stay with him until he leaves the capital’, so it would be great if you can agree to this.”
“Hmm… You even accepted such a task? Even though I oppose bringing noble prestige into the military, but Fanrine is a daughter of a Duke House right?”
“Ara? I already heard about Sir Regis from my sister Eleanor, so I know you are not as scary as the people from the ministry make you out to be.”
“... I see.”
“So I volunteer for this job when I learned of it.”
“Hee hee… Because my sister kept praising you, so I was interested in seeing how you actually are.”
She said happily.
“... That’s really… You must be disappointed after seeing me in person. After all, I am boring and lack charisma.”
“I will keep my thoughts a secret for now.”
Fanrine winked when she said that.
The mansion of a noble might make him feel uneasy, but Tiraso Laverde was undoubtedly in the Argentina’s faction.
They would want to stop Latreille from ascending the throne, and will help in the collation of intelligence.
Considering how the knights of the First Imperial Army would feel, Regis needed to be aware of his own safety.
And there was also the matter of money.
Regis didn’t stay with the garrison because of his personal reasons, so he couldn’t claim his accommodation fees from the army, and could only pay for it himself. If he stayed for a month in the capital’s hotel, it would be a huge expense.
“... If it wouldn’t trouble you… Then I will be in your care…”
“Ahh! I would be honoured to!”
Fanrine smiled like a child.
And as expected, the young knight watching over Fanrine objected strongly, but Fanrine refuted him by saying ‘this is official business!’
The mansion of House Tiraso Laverde was very close to the palace. It was also huge, calling it the villa of the palace would not be a stretch.
According to Fanrine, they bought this place from another grand noble.
When they got near, a horde of servants came out to receive them.
Fanrine responded straightforwardly, but that was expected since this was her house…
The head of the Duke House and Eleanor seemed to be living in the main mansion to the south, the only member of the Duke House living here was just Fanrine.
“Please come in, make yourself at home.”
“Thank you, Ms Fanrine.”
“If Sir Regis is willing, you can make this your real home too.”
What did she mean?
Regis was given the innermost room on the third floor.
Not only was it wide, it had a shockingly luxurious bed and work desk.
—— But there was no way to run.
It might have large windows, but he wouldn’t escape unscathed if he jumped down—— Leaving Altina and Eddie aside, Regis couldn’t do it.
He could only trust the people inside the mansion.
On the other hand, he didn’t have to worry about outsiders intruding in.
After putting down his luggage, Regis laid back onto the chair.
It was completely dark outside.
Everything will start tomorrow.
He will rest for today, and start moving at day break.
“But before I sleep… I will read for a while. Just a while… Ahh, it’s been so long—— Since I get to read this leisurely. Hah~”
In the end, ‘reading just for a while’ became reading through the night.
Until the maid came knocking to inform that breakfast was ready, Regis was completely engrossed in his book and didn’t realize it was morning.
“Uwah, I am really hopeless!”
Even though he planned to collect information in the morning…
After changing, the maid brought him down to the dining hall.
The properly dressed Fanrine was already seated there.
She was wearing military uniform at Fort Bonaire, but had changed into an elegant dress that suited a noble lady.
This was probably how she was usually dressed.
“Good morning, Sir Regis.”
“Yes, good morning Ms Fanrine.”
“... Erm… Did you not sleep well? You have dark circles under your eyes… If the bed isn’t comfortable, shall I change one for you?”
“No no! I was reading and…”
“Ara, is the book that interesting?”
“Well it’s… normal I guess, I already read it three times during the campaign.”
“And you still stayed up all night to read it! Why!?”
“No… My hobby is reading, because I never read it all in one sitting, I will discover new things when I re-read it.”
“How surprising, so you like books that much.”
“Books are great, I was hoping to be a librarian in the Military library…”
“As expected of Sir Regis, how studious.”
“No, I like entertainment novels, I am not reading them to learn.”
“Yes. Ah~ it’s been so long since I visited the bookstore in the capital. I’m looking forward to it! I was thinking of going there at dawn, but now I think about it, the store opens at eight. In the past, I not only know the opening hours of the book store, I even know when new stocks will come in. But I have gradually forgotten after being away for so long. I shouldn’t be so anxious.”
Looking at the clock on the wall, it was just 7 am.
Book stores, galleries and jewelry shops targets nobles as their customers, so it wouldn’t open too early.
Shops with commoners as target audience will open at daybreak, and people will fight for spots in the open market before the sun even rises.
Fanrine was confused.
“You are going to the bookstore?”
“Yes, I plan on making a trip after breakfast.”
“Erm… That is troubling, if you don’t go to the Ministry of Military Affairs…”
“... Ah yes. Of course I will make a detour there after that.”
“The Ministry is about to open, if we don’t go before noon…”
It opens earlier than the bookstore? Even though their work efficiency is horrible, that place really is…
No no —— Regis shook his head.
The important thing is to finish the necessary task as soon as possible, collect the crucial intelligence, then hurry back to Fort Volks.
“Yes, you are right, we need to hurry to the ministry. We will make a trip to the bookstore after that…”
“Please calm down, we haven’t finish breakfast yet.”
“Ahh? Yes. Ah…”
The breakfast that was served was better than what he had in the palace.
Fragrant tea, bread with just the right amount of softness, honey potato, pieces of roast duck and fresh tomatoes.
It was delicious.
But despite that…
Regis didn’t taste it properly because he was too preoccupied with the book store…
The Ministry of Military Affairs —— Situated in a corner of the palace Le Brane.
By the way, there was also a branch of the ministry in the city, and Regis received his orders there in the past.
He was a Fifth Grade Admin Officer back then, and he was being reassigned.
But this time, he was being promoted to Third Grade Admin Officer, so he was summoned to the palace.
All around the room were unnecessary decorations.
In the middle were a table and two chairs facing each other, vases and sculptures were placed at the corners.
After a long wait, a strangely oppressive man—— Minister Beylard appeared.
“I don’t care if you are known as a ‘Hero’, or is well liked by the princess, I will not give you any special treatment! Rules have to be followed to form the foundation of the country!”
He announced right after the greetings.
Regis began to worry if he had been mistaken for a barbarian.
But what the minister said was correct.
“... I think so too.”
After that, he was given the book that detailed mandatory knowledge for Third Grade Admin Officers, ‘Experiences of a Third Grade Admin Officer’.
That was followed by a long lecture by Minister Beylard, as he read out the principles of an army that even kids would know.
There seemed to be a promotion exam too —— In that case, was this a test of endurance. Regis felt he would fail.
The effects of not sleeping the night before were surfacing.
If there was an essay, he could read it easily.
—— What a wonderful thing reading was, I can read at my own pace, skip the boring parts, re-read the interesting passages, and research things I don’t know. It was fine to drink coffee and eat bread while reading too. No one would complain no matter what my posture was, and nobody would question about my drive.
Minister Beylard sounded impatient.
“—— That’s all. Read the ‘Experience of a Third Grade Admin Officer’ thoroughly. There will be a promotion exam one week later.”
“What kind of exam is it?”
“Raise your hand before asking any questions, Fifth Grade Admin Officer Regis Auric!”
Seemed like he was bent on the term ‘official’. Regis who had yet to complete his promotion and nobility title was just a Fifth Grade Admin Officer and commoner to them.
Regis didn’t plan on being meaninglessly headstrong about it, and raised his hand docilely.
It was a funny scene in a room with just two people.
“... What are the contents of the exam?”
“Ohh? You don’t look motivated, but you are still interested on your promotion huh?”
Minister Beylard crossed his arms with a victorious smile.
Regis tilted his head.
“No, I am just worried about Fort Volks, and want to go back soon. I will be fine even if I fail the exam if I can go back.”
“Ughh… If you fail, there will be a re-test of course! In another week!”
“That’s troubling… Can you tell me the details?”
“Heeheehee, it’s not that simple. It will be about the content of the books, if you can’t remember the contents or answer the questions, you will fail.”
“Ahh, I just need to answer according to the content of the book? That’s great! It wouldn’t be a problem then.”
“Hmm, don’t look down on the exam, the book is 300 pages long! 300 pages! In a week!”
“I’m fine with taking the exam tomorrow.”
“Ughhh… How arrogant. There is also a practical test! Even though I look like this now, I was a palace swordsmanship instructor before. You don’t need to beat me, but you will need to show the minimum swords technique expected of a soldier.”
“Hmmp, you think an admin officer just need to deal with paper work? However, to be a commissioned officer of the Belgarian Empire, one would need to know swordsmanship!”
“Well —— It’s really the bare minimum, people who can wield it properly can pass. I will abide by the rules, and won’t give special treatment either way, even to a commoner.”
“... I can’t do it.”
“Erm… What happens if I can’t wield a sword? For example, swinging the sword and hitting my own knee…”
“Is there such a soldier!? That is a failure of course! He would be sent back to the Military Academy to study again!”
“... So it would be like that.”
Minister Beylard was right.
Regis’s result in the Military Academy was so bad that he needed to be retained, but he received a special exception to graduate because Marquis Thénezay recruited him as a strategist.
There was no doubt that he would fail the exam.
Regis was certain.
His path was blocked in a place like this because of the Belgaria Empire’s obsession towards muscles!
—— What a terrible country! I have to think of a way!
Wrong, I should work on my horrible swordsmanship instead.
Regis didn’t think he could do anything…
After seeing that Regis was acting weird, Minister Beylard was baffled.
“Hmmm? Ah—— the details of the exam is written in this book too, so read it well! That’s all, you may leave!”
Regis left the room like a soldier from a losing army.
At the Aristocrat Bureau next door, he was gently reminded for not responding to the summons.
And it wasn’t with a stern tone, but a polite one.
Instead of Regis, they were probably more wary of Altina who was backing him.
The aura of the Fourth Princess could be felt here.
In their eyes, Regis was well liked by the Fourth Princess, and was a young man who achieved merits on the battlefield.
So the Ministry of Military Affairs sent out an arrogant official to intimidate Regis and stop him from ‘getting cocky’, while the Aristocracy Bureau treated him nicely as a show of goodwill to the princess.
Just like earlier, he received a book here, this one being ‘The experience of a Chevalier’.
There wasn’t any exams here though, just a further answers and questions conference two weeks later regarding the content of the book and the mentality of being a noble.
Seemed like the nobility title would be settled without any issue.
But the practical test made Regis’ heart sink.
—— It’s impossible for someone like me who isn’t fit to be a soldier to become a Third Grade Admin Officer.
After leaving the Aristocracy Bureau, Regis found Fanrine who was waiting for him in the lobby chatting with some friends.
She smiled when she saw him.
Her noble lady friends looked at Regis curiously.
The three bird like ladies covered their face with fans and whispered.
All the girls wore beautiful gowns like that of a painting. But Fanrine stood out among them she was graceful and gorgeous.
“Thank you for your hard work, Sir Regis, I was just talking to my friends about you.”
“Hee hee, about Sir Regis’ brave tales.”
He was just having a headache because he couldn’t wield a sword!
“... Erm… Did you get it wrong? Is this a new type of joke?”
The laughter of the three girls sounded like bells.
“See!? Sir Regis is really an interesting person right?”
“Really! Just like Lady Fanrine described!”
“He is known as the hero of the Empire, so I thought he would be as scary as a lion~”
Just what kind of rumour is spreading in the palace? Regis was afraid to even imagine.
Speaking of which, Baron Vigeveel's work 'Twilight's Palace' did state:
“The ladies of the palace crave for entertainment to mull away their time, and will exaggerate the tiniest details. In just a week, a cat will become a tiger in the palace. They will treat men who achieve merits in battle like heroes, as if they were knights in stories, and fall in love with them.”
—— No way, how can that be.
Regis smiled awkwardly.
Even though that’s what the book wrote, Baron Vigeveel was referring to strong and smart heroes, Regis wasn’t childish enough to overlap that image with himself.
However, she was surrounded by the three ladies before he realized it.
“Sir Regis, can you tell us how you defeated the High Britannia Army?”
“Eh? No… I wasn’t the one who defeated them…”
“Fufu, I never seen such a uniform~ There’s no frills on it, how refreshing~ So manly~”
“... This is the uniform of the northern units, I didn’t choose it.”
“Hee hee, it’s the first time I see a man who doesn’t brag… How outstanding.”
“Sir Regis is so sensible~ I really admire that~”
—— I can’t do it anymore.
As a way of socializing in the court, their compliment of men was as natural as breathing to them.
Even though Regis knew they were just flattering him, he still broke out in cold sweat.
“Erm… I still have something I need to do, so pardon me!”
He wanted to squeeze through the group of ladies, but they didn’t give way, so he collided into their breasts.
“Ara! How bold~”
The sensation of their fluttery clothes and soft bodies almost made him pass out.
Regis back away in a panic.
Fanrine smiled wryly and said to the girls:
“Don’t tease Sir Regis too much, he is troubled right now.”
The eyes of the noble ladies sparkled.
“Hah~~! Even though he is a soldier, but he is like a puppy! How cute!”
“E-Erm, want to join our next party together~?”
I’m being adopted!?
In the end, Regis managed to get away from the hall of the palace with Fanrine’s help.
After coming outside, the smell of perfume dispersed with the wind.
“Hah… I was really lost…”
“My apologies Sir Regis. I didn’t expect them to like you so much.
“Well, it’s rare to see someone like me.”
“That’s right, normally speaking, soldiers are people who would wear uniform full of medals and love to brag their muscles and exploits in battle.”
“Haha, I don’t have medals or muscles.”
“That’s why they like Sir Regis.”
“... That kind of ‘like’ is a bit…”
He didn’t want to be kept like a dog. He didn’t mind following the orders of others, but if possible, he would prefer following someone with ambition —— Regis thought.
He remembered about Altina.
I have to write a letter.
As he was thinking about that, when he realized it, he was already walking towards the bookstore.
The gorgeous two storeys building facing the street had a green signboard with white wordings.
Countless books were displayed on the giant shelves inside the store.
Regis felt as if he was going to melt.
He wouldn’t mind turning into air right here.
Fanrine looked around her curiously.
“Amazing, this is the first time I have seen a place with this many books. More than the books in my place.”
“Ara, there’s books in that mansion too?”
“Some are bought by my grandfather while others are received from business partners. Our family is dabbing into the paper manufacturing business after all.”
“Hee~ That’s nice.”
“My family don’t really read books. If you don’t mind, I can bring you there and let you read all you like.”
‘Read all you like.’
What wonderful words!
That’s the first time he was told that since Marquis Thénezay picked him up.
“Ms Fanrine, you are an outstanding woman!”
“Eh!? Because of books!?”
“Thank you! I will be counting on you!”
“Y-Yes… Sir Regis really like books.”
“I think of myself as an avid reader.”
The books in Fanrine’s house were very tempting.
But after leaving the capital for half a year, there were many serializations he had yet to buy.
Regis treated entertainment novels, theatrical plays, essays and all literary works had a place in his heart.
A line written in a certain work expressed Regis’ feelings perfectly.
“How can I die before I read!”
That was how it was.
If possible, Regis wished he could read all the stories in the world.
He hope to have a place where he won’t be disturbed, and flipped through the pages with these hands of his.
“ —— Sir Regis? Sir Regis?”
“Erm, are you alright? If you are not feeling well, I will call for a carriage.”
“No, sorry, I’m fine. I am feeling so blessed that I went on a short trip to dreamland.”
“Is that really fine!?”
“... Maybe not, but that’s the same as usual.”
Regis moved fleet footedly around the store to browse the shelves, as if he was flying.
The price of all the books here had one less digit than the borders. It was still expensive, but that’s how it was priced.
More importantly, it was well stocked.
He could find all the newest release of the series he was following.
There were several books he had never seen before and looked interesting.
“Oh no, is this heaven?”
“Sir Regis, what’s that over there?”
Fanrine was pointing at the tea room.
“This store is also a coffee shop, so there are places like this. You can bring the books you bought over here and read them over a cup of coffee, a bit of a luxury.”
“So that’s how it is.”
She looked at the area with intrigue.
“I will take some time, so you can have some coffee and wait here if you like.”
“... No need, I want to be with Sir Regis.”
“Surveillance huh… You are really passionate about your duty.”
“Not at all! It’s my personal wish to be with Sir Regis!”
As they were speaking, Regis saw a familiar face in the store.
He raised up a hand.
“Yo, Ms Carol.”
“Eh!? Ah, Mr Regis!?”
The woman who was arranging the bookshelves with a serious expression jogged over.
She had black shoulder length hair, and wore a blue apron.
“It’s really Mr Regis!? How could it be!? Are you translucent!?”
“Hahaha… I’m still alive.”
It was true that Regis would haunt the bookstore if he died.
That would bring a lot of troubles to others, so he should try his best not to die.
“You are really famous now, Mr Regis. Hmm? Ara, this is…?”
“Ahh, this is Ms Fanrine from the Tiraso Laverde Duke house.”
As Regis was introducing her, Fanrine performed a graceful curtsey.
Unlike the bookshops at the borders, many aristocratic ladies frequent this place, so Fanrine wasn’t out of place.
“Pleased to meet you.”
“Welcome, I am the shop owner Carol de Talleyrand.”
“This is my first time to a place with so many books, it really surprised me.”
“Ara, this is your first visit? If you don’t mind, please have some coffee. You too, Mr Regis.”
“Thank you, I will take you up on your offer then.”
Fanrine showed a surprised expression.
“... Erm… Sir Regis, do you have any special relationship with Ms Carol?”
“Special? Well, she is probably the person who knows me the best.”
“After all, most of my books are bought from here.”
“Thank you for your support. We have stocked up many of the books Mr Regis prefers recently.”
“Haha, I wonder if my budget is enough.”
Fanrine smiled in relief.
“I see, so you are a regular patron and the shop owner.”
“What else would we be…?”
Regis tilted his head while Carol smiled wryly.
The three of them sat around a corner of the table, the nostalgic smell of coffee made Regis close his eyes.
“Mr Regis, do you know about this?”
Carol took out some books from the bag she brought over.
“Could it be… It’s Mr Cuers’s new work… the ‘Meteor Journey’ series? But that should have ended…?”
“Look over here, this is the short story collection after the series ended.”
—— A collection of short stories after the ending of a series! So that’s possible too! No, this wasn’t the first time.
“That’s really exciting, I will buy it.”
“Thank you very much… Hehehe, and this has just been released.”
“Eh? The sequel to Baron Mataseine’s ‘Tea & Sweets’!? Even though it has been two years since the last one!?”
“It’s a two volume conclusion to the series.”
“Hmm… My budget’s a bit tight, but the conclusion huh. I will buy it.”
“And this is the new serialization by Earl Redosel.”
“Hah… the Earl huh… Why don’t you finish your other series first. I will still buy it though…”
“Oh that’s right, and this new series that Mr Regis might like.”
“Hee~ a vampire participating in a play? And taking on a role of a vampire!?”
“A play inside a play, you like such settings right?”
“Hahaha, I can’t win against Ms Carol at all, of course I will buy.”
Fanrine was really surprised.
“Sir Regis, how many books are you planning to buy!?”
“Oh… Oh no, I was too engrossed. The books are important, but I am here to talk about something else.”
“Ara, that’s rare. What’s the matter?”
“Erm… It’s not something I can discuss out loud…”
Regis looked towards Fanrine.
She was from House Tiraso Laverde, which belonged to the faction of the Fourth Princess and probably won’t get in the way. However, she also had the duty to watch over Regis.
—— So in the end, which side is she on?
Fanrine rested her body onto the chair gracefully, and laid her eyes onto the opened book.
The title on the book said ‘Dreamy Road’, it seemed to be a collection of poems.
“Oh my! such wonderful poetry. It's so entrancing that it's making me forget all about my surroundings.”
She muttered to herself intentionally.
So she would be ignoring what was happening here.
Regis turned to Carol.
“... Actually… I need you to investigate something for me.”
She turned her gaze to the surroundings, and no other patrons were paying them mind.
“If I can be of help.”
“Ms Carol has a wide social circle, and has many acquaintances in the courts. You also know many trustworthy people.”
“I don’t know if I can meet your expectations though? Among the people I know, Mr Regis is the most reliable person.”
“You are known as the ‘Hero who saved the nation’, ‘Wizard of the battlefield’, ‘Monster Strategist’, ‘The Princess’ Shield of Wisdom’... Titles that only appears in entertainment novels.”
He yelped involuntarily.
“Hehehe… Even though you were called the ‘Green Turtle’ in the past. Ah sorry, I said something rude.”
“I-I will feel calmer being called a turtle… Hah…”
“To me, you have always been ‘the Avid Reader Regis’. So, what do you want to investigate?”
“... It’s regarding this.”
Regis clamped a letter between the pages of a book and handed it to her.
Carol opened the book and started reading the letter.
Her expression gloomed instantly.
“Wow… This is really incredible.”
“Please tell me if you find out anything. I will visit every day while I am in the capital.”
“I understand, I will wait.”
The important points had been written on the letter which were —— Investigate the death of the Emperor and Consort.
Carol didn’t have the power to investigate what happened in the palace.
But she had clients who perform business similar to a spy.
The bookstore was a place where all sorts of talent gather.
For Carol, it was ‘being proficient in remember the preference of patrons, and recommending books they might like’.
She didn’t simply sell books, and had deep relationships with many of the patrons too.
Tapping into her network would yield more information than planting spies from the Fourth Army here.
Carol changed the topic at this moment.
“By the way, Mr Regis —— Can you tell me about the war with the Kingdom of High Britannia?”
“... Are you asking this as remuneration?”
“I am not going to force you but… A lot of people have been asking me about you after they found out I am on good terms with Mr Regis. For example, news reporters and the like, I feel bad about letting them go back empty handed…”
I see, reporters might have information related to the palace.
As they could be chips that could be used for negotiations, talking a little about what happened in the battlefield wasn’t a big deal.
“... I understand, but I am not as glamourous as the rumours say, they might be disappointed.”
“In this world there are people who find values in the truth over inflated rumours.”
“I feel the same. Creative works are interesting, but there is a need to find out the truth too.”
After that, Regis recounted his experience on the battlefield in as much detail as he could.
Carol started taking down notes midway.
While Fanrine read the poems collection quietly beside them.
When they arrived at the mansion, a horde of servants received them respectfully.
The maids came before them.
“Welcome back young lady. Welcome back, Sir Auric.”
As he wasn’t used to it, Regis didn’t realize for a moment they were referring to him.
“Hmm? Ah, that’s me.”
“Sir Auric had a visitor earlier in the day.”
“Looking for me?”
“Yes, they left this letter.”
The maid proffered a letter to him, the wax seal bore the mark of the Ministry of Military Affairs.
“... What is this about?”
Fanrine answered Regis’ doubts.
“I already reported to the ministry that Sir Regis would be staying here. If I don’t state the specific location, it might lead to unnecessary suspicion.”
“Ahh… That’s true…”
Her duty was surveillance, which include reporting Regis’ movement.
It would be troublesome if she reported the conversation at the bookstore...
Fanrine smiled wryly.
“I am not that stupid of a woman, as the saying goes ‘the cat that is great at catching mice will hide its claws’ right?”
People change when the situation changes, so there was a need to be on guard.
However, Regis trusted Fanrine. He couldn’t take action if he didn’t anyway.
He opened the letter.
It was a summons from Latreille sent out through the Ministry of Military Affairs.
The next afternoon——
Regis visited the palace once more.
Situated near the Ministry of Military Affairs was Latreille’s personal office.
He visited it once before.
Standing before the large door were guards in light armour.
When Regis came near, they saluted.
“Third Grade Admin Officer, Sir Auric. Please wait a moment.”
After so many times, he had gotten used to others knowing about him.
This was the third time he visited Latreille, there were people who had seen Regis before.
After knocking on the door lightly, the guard reported the arrival of the guest.
The door then opened.
After returning the salute, Regis entered the room.
Latreille sat on a luxurious leather chair, all sorts of documents were laid out on his large work desk.
There wasn’t any chess board today.
He was wearing a steel forehead protector with his blonde hair draping over it.
Latreille looked Regis’ way with his crimson eyes.
“Pardon me for calling you in here, Third Grade Admin Officer Regis de Auric.”
“You are too humble, I should have reported here yesterday.”
“It’s fine, I received the report.”
The report submitted by Regis was on the table.
Did I miss out something? Regis was worried.
Speaking of which, he didn’t mention how he dealt with the Mercenary King.
Dispatching a sub unit to the east was decided right before he set off, so it wasn’t reported either.
“Erm… If there are any missing details, I will…”
“I see, but leave that for later—— Take a look at this.”
Latreille pointed to his desk.
It was a folded map.
A map of the northwest part of the Empire, detailing Grebauvar fort city and its surrounding regions.
It wasn’t as good as Fort Volks, but it was still a sturdily built city.
“... I received an urgent report last night.”
“What happened to Grebauvar city?”
“It has fallen into the hands of the High Britannians.”
It was a surprise that such a tough fortress city actually fell, but it was a bigger surprise that the High Britannia forces that were expected to retreat to the coast took a city as a base.
“There seemed to be flags from the Germania Federation amongst the enemy.”
“They allied themselves? In such a situation… Unbelievable.”
“Grebauvar was the homebase of the Third Army, but less than half of their forces stay behind for this campaign, which was a good opportunity for the enemy.”
“That’s right… But to fall within such a short time…”
“The details would be here tonight, but we can’t just sit on our thumbs. There are a large number of civilians in that city, even though the situation isn’t clear yet, we need to muster the forces to take back Grebauvar.”
“That is a given.”
“But there is a problem. We can’t dismiss the possibility that this is a feint, and that the enemy’s real goal is the capital.”
“That’s true, we might find Grebauvar city to be empty after marching our forces there, only to find that the enemy had made a detour to attack the capital.”
“At the very least, it would be great if the capital had walls.”
The Belgaria Empire was powerful and it was impossible for the enemy to push near the capital —— Because of this arrogance, the capital didn’t have walls.
After relocating the capital for three hundred years, the dignity still remains.
But because of this, the forces they could send to Grebauvar were limited.
Regis was troubled.
“You want the Fourth Army to attack the fort?”
“No, the defence of Fort Volks is important too. In the end, Grebauvar city is the homebase of the Third Army, and there are elements of the Third Army in the capital. There will be no debate on which units are to be dispatched.”
In that case, why was he telling Regis all that?
Regis continued listening silently while feeling troubled.
Latreille laid out the map and arrange the pieces.
“Right now, there are 70,000 men in the capital. The High Britannia Kingdom should have an estimated 16,000 men in Grebauvar, supported by Germanian forces.”
“Sir Regis, how many troops should we send?”
“Eh? No… This is hard to gauge, the enemy numbers are unknown too… Well, considering the defences of the capital, we need a force of 50,000 on defense at the very least.”
It wasn’t clear the numbers committed by the Germanian forces, but from past records, it should be about 20,000.
Considering the new type of rifles used by High Britannia, even though this would be a base defence battle, it would need 50,000 soldiers.
With such numbers, they could buy time for ally forces to congregate.
“As expected, we can only commit 20,000 men.”
“... It’s not enough to attack a fort, it would be better to lay a siege and cut off their supplies.”
“In the war against High Britannia, the Imperial Army suffered heavy losses. It would take years just to muster the forces to launch a frontal assault against Grebauvar city.”
“How about negotiating with them to surrender the fort in exchange for safe passage to the western coast?”
Latreille stared at the map.
This seemed to be an unpopular opinion.
“You are concerned about how the neighbouring nations would react right?”
“I won’t explain the details since you understand. With the passing of the Emperor, the neighbouring nations are all observing how the Empire would act from now on. If we show any weakness in the negotiations, there would be unredeemable consequences.”
“What about laying siege with 20,000 soldiers?”
“A base near the capital being captured… and we couldn’t do anything about it, how could we uphold the dignity of the nation?”
“That is… well, it is not feasible…”
“They must not see the weakness of the Empire right now. If they look down on us, the neighbouring nations would attack all at once. I don’t think we will lose even if that happens, but we have to avoid this at all cost.”
“That is a scary scenario. In order to avoid that, we should establish peaceful diplomatic relations with them…”
“Right now, we have to show them that the Imperial Army is still mighty. The relationships between countries can’t be changed so easily.”
“... I understand too.”
Latreille was adamant on taking back Grebauvar city.
Regis agreed too. It was impossible to build a peaceful relationship in a matter of days. Showing a peaceful stance would just make the other nations wonder if the Imperial Army had weakened.
Latreille placed his hands onto his chest.
“I plan to take part in this battle too.”
“You are going personally!?”
“Yes, I will commit the First Army and combine it with the Third Army that had lost its commander to form a 20,000 men unit.”
“You are planning to attack the fortress city with 20,000 soldiers?”
Latreille nodded to acknowledge this frightening fact.
Is he serious?
There were about 40,000 enemy forces outfitted with the latest rifles and cannons, and they were defending a sturdy fortress city.
It was impossible to win.
“Sir Regis once took down Fort Volks with just 2,000 men right?”
“... That was just luck.”
His back was drenched with sweat.
What a difficult problem, please work hard —— He really felt like saying that and leave.
Latreille stood up.
He walked around the large table and stood before Regis.
The atmosphere was different compared to when they just met.
Latreille seemed to be bigger, maybe the idea that he was the ‘Emperor to be’ influenced how Regis felt.
“Sir Regis, I understand you support Altina, and want to chase me off the throne.”
He said it directly.
Regis shook his head.
“... The goal of the princess is just to stop the war in this country.”
“We don’t have the right to discuss the future right now, this is a crisis that would decide the fate of the Empire.”
Latreille reached out his right hand.
It was the hand of a knight who fought on the front lines. The skin was hard, joints pronounced and the nails were thick.
“Let’s set aside our differences for now. For the future of the Empire, can you take part in the battle to retake Grebauvar city?”
He wasn’t lying.
The Empire could only mobilize 20,000 troops, they couldn’t ignore Grebauvar city or enter peace negotiations.
In order to display their might to the other nations, they had to take back the fort with an inferior force.
That was why he asked Regis who accomplished something similar to take part.
He remembered what Fanrine told him in the past
“Being highly evaluated means that others will have great expectations of you. No matter how unconfident you are, those who succeed would be expected to bring success the next time. Just like those who fail being looked down on, it is unavoidable.”
“The large number of citizens in Grebauvar city probably didn’t escape in time. We need to take back the city as soon as possible to rescue them.”
“I am not asking you to change your position. You will still be part of the Fourth Army, and will just be seconded here for this battle. After taking back Grebauvar city, I will arrange for your swift return to Fort Volks. Your promotion and peerage matters will be settled in the battlefield too.”
“Is that so?”
“I am the Field Marshal and the Second Prince, I have at least that much authority.”
“Erm… Even the practical test?”
“There are no weaklings in a unit that attacks a fortress with a force of 20,000.”
“Maybe I can’t propose an excellent battle plan that is expected of me.”
“Just do what you can in your capacity as a strategist, you just need to promise that. If we don’t succeed, then it’s my judgement that is lacking.”
It seemed that Latreille wanted Regis to be his Strategist.
It was too much for a Third Grade Admin Officer.
Even though Latreille’s adjutant Germaine was a First Grade Admin Officer.
But the exemption from the practical part of the promotion exam was very tempting.
More importantly, this concerned a large number of lives, although Regis wasn’t sure whether he would be of use…
If he worked with Latreille as a Strategist, he would be able to understand Latreille’s thoughts more directly than asking outside the courts.
If the plan succeeds, the public evaluation of Latreille would improve, but that would be an issue for another day.
It’s impossible to ask him to give up the throne now.
The most important fact was, if he became Latreille’s strategist, he would be able to understand Latreille’s future political plans and thoughts.
In order to find information that could light a path for Altina, this was a great position to be.
He reached out his right hand.
“... I don’t know if I could be of use… But I will do my best.”
“Thank you, Sir Regis.”
Latreille’s large hand grabbed Regis’ hand.
It was strong, just like the great white mountain, La Dame Blanche.