The Delivered Letter
Editor: Darkdhaos, Seir K
“We will stop here for now!”
Altina collapsed to the ground panting.
She stretched her limbs out freely.
Her breathing was ragged.
The grass was soft, the sky dazzling and the air smelled refreshing.
Her sweat dripped onto the grass from her skin.
Her hands were numb.
Eddie was slightly further away, panting as hard as she did.
But he seemed to have some strength left. Even though he was sitting, he kept his body straight.
There was a broken wooden sword on the ground.
“Hah… That’s tiring…”
“You two are too weak! Panting that hard from just this much training!”
The one bellowing loudly was Baltasar.
White bandages covered his right arm up until his fingers, because he fractured his arm in the battle against the Mercenary King Gilbert.
He actually just needed to stabilize his arm, but he would pick up a sword if his fingers were exposed, so the lady doctor bandaged his fingers too.
He couldn’t hold a sword, so he supervised Altina and Eddie’s training and teach them.
“Hah… Hah… Baltasar, this is probably the first time… you taught me footwork and body stance.”
“I don’t remember being taught in such detail before.”
They were on the roof of Fort Volks right now.
As this fort was built by carving out the inside of a cliff, it was natural for there to be earth on top. There was a watering station nearby too.
This place would be great for farming, but it was left alone with minimum maintenance because ‘performing farm work above Her Highness’ head is disrespectful’.
Even though Altina didn’t mind, the soldiers didn’t really want to do it.
For religious people, having plenty of earth above the head of the commander was a bad omen. According to the beliefs of the native, earth meant defeat.
But since this was a fortress built out of a cave, it was only natural for there to be earth on top of them…
It seemed that their luck was great because Altina lived at the top level, and the roof was for the commander’s personal usage.
So after receiving the agreement from the troops, Altina used the rooftop as a training ground.
It could be used as a vantage point during battles, but the winds were too strong so only Altina’s group were the only ones to use it normally.
It was the same now, as the strong wind caressed their bodies.
They thought about their training earlier as they enjoyed the breeze.
“... Eddie is amazing.”
“Hmmp, don’t fall for me now.”
“... If you are not an idiot, that might be possible. If you are not an idiot.”
“Don’t say that twice.”
Altina propped herself up.
And looked at the sword in her hand.
It was the reforged ‘Grand Tonnerre Quatre’. The hilt was very heavy, just like a hammer. The handles were rough, so leather was wrapped around it for smoother usage.
The design was plainer than the swords in fashion right now, and all of its parts were thicker now.
The sword had reverted to its original state by the hands of Blacksmith Enzo from Rouen City.
Even though it was much heavier than before, it was easier to wield as the balance had been improved.
Altina could only launch singular attacks as if she was wielding a hoe. But now, she could smoothly attack consecutively.
However, she still couldn’t keep up with Eddie’s speed. She could only win once for every three losses.
He could probably rival Latreille in speed.
“Hmm… I can handle slashes, but I can’t keep up with the tempo of thrusts…”
“Maybe spears are really stronger on the battlefield.”
“Spears are the first option. I can understand how that weapon is used. But it’s hard to tell when a thrust is coming during an exchange of slashes right?”
Altina said as she gestured.
“But it is hard to aim for the chance to thrust right?”
“Eddie did just that though. And your speed could rival Latreille.”
“It’s just hard for you to defend. If your weapon is long, keeping your distance is the basics right?”
“Was my reaction slow——?”
“But I can tell that you are aware about my sword movement. Didn’t you back away unconsciously when I thrust?”
“I am good at thrust too.”
“I know. If it is a distance both weapons can reach, the lighter sword will be faster.”
“Ah, I get it now!”
“If I can wield ‘Grand Tonnerre Quatre’ as fast as Eddie and Latreille, I will win!”
“Ahh, you… notice that, are you a genius!?”
Eddie sounded surprised.
Altina puffed her chest out proudly.
Baltasar who was watching them sighed.
Someone walked over the grass and came to them.
The person holding down her maid attire against the wind as she walked over was Clarisse.
“Your Highness ——”
“Ara, Clarisse! Is it time for lunch?”
“Didn’t you just ate lunch?”
“Eeheehee… I got hungry after exercising for a little. Well then, is dinner ready?”
“In three more hours, Your Highness.”
“Why would dinner take three more hours?”
“Because it will be evening in three more hours.”
“I don’t have the patience to wait three hours. Whatever is fine, I’m hungry now. Can I have some tea?”
“... Alright. The letter is here too.”
“Sir Regis sent it.”
“Why didn’t you say that at the very beginning!?”
Altina stood up with a start. Even though her knees were still shaking, she still stood with her fighting spirit alone.
Eddie also stood up with a wry smile.
“Well then, that’s it for today’s training.”
Baltasar nodded too.
“What is it?”
“I think that for learning, instead of repeated training, thinking is more important. Knowing the past and predicting the future will allow you to use your skill freely.”
“... You understand?”
“Don’t look away!”
But despite that, Altina was considering it in her own way. However, Baltasar wasn’t satisfied with that.
Not good at thinking —— That’s not entirely true.
It was because her strategist that could think in her stead wasn’t with her.
Walking down the stairs from the roof of the fortress, they met the soldiers on sentry duty who saluted them.
The grey stony path was illuminated by the orange glow of torches.
Except for the passage towards the outer walls, the fort was cut off from the outside. No matter how sunny it was, the inside would be dark and dim.
That would make the soldiers gloomy, but they weren’t given time to be sullen.
Even though Jerome was absent, Evrard who was familiar with his training methods were around. Abidal Evra and other senior officers had also grown stronger from the previous consecutive battles.
Following their guidance, the soldiers did not rest and went out for field training every day. Even though the 9,000 troops of the Fort were gathered not long ago, they had become a force to be reckoned with in just half a year.
Also, because the Imperial Fourth Army achieved the most merits in the earlier battles, many soldiers wished to be assigned her. They probably think that —— If I am going to fight, I might as well serve in a great unit.
Although Altina felt that it was thanks to Regis and not really due to her own merit, the recruits still complimented her, which dampened her mood…
Anyway, the Fourth Army recovered the numbers they lost in the previous battle in no time, and was steadily increasing.
Someone was walking along the passage.
It wasn’t a soldier.
It was a handsome youth with silver hair and crimson eyes, Prince Auguste.
He wore high class clothes of a noble gentleman, and not a military uniform. A royal who had given up his succession right, and is living in seclusion.
—— That was just his public standing though.
Even though he was dressed like a prince, her real identity was his sister Felicia. The real Auguste already died one year ago.
Felicia was impersonating him. Even in Altina’s unit, only a selected few knew this grave secret. And of course, this was hidden from the soldiers.
That was why she dressed like the prince inside the Fort. And Eddie protected her as a bodyguard.
“What’s the matter, Auguste?”
“Eddie, you are training again… You are spending all your time there.”
“Even though the powerful enemy had left, grandfather is still here teaching me.”
Baltasar bowed deeply.
“Thank you for taking care of my useless grandson.”
“N-Not at all… Eddie is a big help. But… Erm… Let him be my opponent occasionally too…”
“As you wish. He has no good points aside from swordsmanship, so please use him as you desire.”
Eddie smiled wryly.
“Ah, Auguste wants to practice swordsmanship too?”
Auguste let out an unimaginably cute voice —— that was actually Felicia.
Achoo! Eddie sneezed.
Auguste proffered a white cloth to him.
She must have brought it over intentionally.
“It’s because you are drenched in sweat. I will wipe it for you, erm… Let’s go back to the room.”
“Wait, we are going to talk over tea.”
“Are you going to do it while drenched in sweat? Even if this is the frontlines, do you think such unsightly behaviours are acceptable?”
“Is that so?”
“Yes, I will help you wipe, come here.”
“Erm… I will wipe it myself.”
“You are saying that, but you just want to escape right?”
August grabbed Eddie’s arm as if she was hugging him, then led him away.
“No, I won’t run okay?”
“I told you that I would wipe your sweat for you. Just like a horse.”
“Hahaha… But you will be embarrassed when the time actually comes, and can’t exert any strength. It feels ticklish.”
“I-It will be fine today!”
The two of them left gradually as they conversed.
Felicia who always seemed to be deep in thought will become more daring when dressed like a man. Leaving aside the fact that this wasn’t how a prince was supposed to act.
There were rumours among the troops that the relationship between Prince Auguste and Duke Balzac wasn’t that simple. But that was better than them realizing that Auguste was actually Felicia.
He didn’t know that Felicia was impersonating Auguste. Their relationship must look strange in his eyes.
“... Maybe the House lineage will end with my grandson.”
“But doesn’t it look fine right now?”
Baltasar tilted his head baffled when he heard what Altina said.
Fort Volks, Smithing Workshop——
A cart was filled to the brim, but a strong man managed to pull it with him.
The man with the title of Mercenary King, Band leader of ‘Renard Pendu’, Gilbert Schweinzeberg.
He was working as a manual labourer right now.
Even though he was a mercenary renowned throughout the continent, he had been reduced to a prisoner. He will be hung if he did not work. Right now, he and his subordinates were doing the work of transporting cargo, cleaning and laying bricks.
Gilbert stopped his cart.
“... Is this good enough?”
It was a heavy voice that could shake the earth. His face could make the enemy he encountered on the battlefield panic in fear.
However, the blacksmith who received him smiled.
“Ohh, it’s finally here! Thank you for your hard work, open the crates immediately.”
“... Got it.”
This was a blacksmith from Rouen City, Enzo Bardot Smith. A man with a bear-like physique.
He didn’t seem intimidated by Gilbert. That wasn’t Gilbert’s intention anyway. After hearing what the blacksmith said, Gilbert started opening the crates he ferried over.
Inside the crates was coal.
But the strange things about them were their lack of luster. Coal should be shinier than this.
“... What are these? The colour seemed different from normal coal.”
“Fufu, you noticed. These are coke delivered from Rouen City.”
Enzo picked up a coke, inspecting the quality of the sensation and colour.
“What is coke?”
“You know that to work with steel, it needs to be heated through a furnace right? That can be done by burning wood, but the temperature won’t be high enough. It is possible to raise the temperature by using coke.”
“It’s different from coal?”
“Ahh, coal won’t do. It can achieve the required temperature, but sulfur will seep out. That would make steel brittle.”
“... Is such fuel used often?”
“Only some of the blacksmith in Belgaria uses them. I heard that their use is widespread in High Britannia. New Steel couldn’t be forged if you don’t burn coke in a furnace.”
“What!? You mean it’s possible to craft New Steel by using this as fuel!?”
“Yeah… But the furnace in this Fort is not good enough. There are only manpowered bellows here. To forge New Steel, a watermill powered bellows would be needed. In that case, I can only do so in a place where one has already been built.”
“... I think that High Britannia’s technology is improving by leaps and bounds… But Belgaria is amazing too. Only the Germanian Federation is behind the times.”
‘Renard Pendu’ worked for High Britannia not just for their high amount of alluring remuneration —— providing them with New Steel weapons was also a major factor.
The quality of the weapons was directly related to performance on the battlefield. Weapons that were behind the times would only shorten one’s life.
If the Germanian Federation could forge their own New Steel, they wouldn’t need to aid High Britannia.
Enzo tilted his head.
“Is that so? The Germanian Federation might not have New Steel or the new modeled rifles, but they are the first ones to create a furnace. It wasn’t a Federation then though… They are also the ones who invented clothing and buttons.”
“Isn’t that a really long time ago?”
Enzo shrugged in response.
In the past, the people of the north might have invented advanced items.
However, their industrial and agricultural development was now lagging behind others due to a series of minor civil battles.
If the civil battles continued, then the overall strength of the Germanian Federation would continue to plummet. Although that would be heavenly for mercenaries…
If the military superior Belgarian Empire was equipped with the New Steel and rifles of High Britannia, the Federation would fall immediately.
In recent years, the head of the federation, Saint Prussia Kingdom was growing in influence. Their reigning king was the ultimate spendthrift, and was excellent in military affairs.
Talks about how they would become an empire if they kept absorbing neighbouring nations were spreading. It was one of the means to survival.
But the other member country of the Federation won’t sit by idly and wait for their destruction.
Would unification come first, or would destruction consume them before that?
—— I’m just a mercenary, so the future of the Federation doesn’t concern me… No, I am not even a mercenary anymore, I’m just a labourer now.
Enzo gestured at him in front of the furnace.
“Alright, bring the coke here.”
Looking up, he could see a mass produced sword used by the soldiers of Belgaria. However, it has a luster as if it was forged from silver. The leather grip was also a polished work which he had never seen.
Gilbert picked up the sword without a second thought.
It felt perfect.
As if his it was sucked into his hand.
It was a bit light for him, but even though he was holding it for the first time, it put him at ease, as if he had gotten used to using it.
“Hey! What are you doing!”
For an instant, he neglected the looks around him as he was engrossed in the well made sword.
When he realized it, the soldier on sentry had always raised his spear.
Gilbert felt his heart beating fast.
He knew that the guards were wary of him. And he understood what a prisoner holding a sword meant.
—— Stupid! I was so engrossed that I picked it up unwittingly.
Hearing the shout of the soldier on sentry, the other guards started gathering, wondering what happened.
What should he do?
There was just one soldier before him. About five paces away. This was a workshop, the space was cramped because of the work table and tools, fighting here would be constricted.
There were two other guards. They were just looking this way, and not very wary.
But the problem was the shackles on his legs.
There wasn’t any problem with pulling a cart, but it would be a hindrance in wielding a sword. Closing the distance fast was important in using a sword to fight a spear, but the shackles would get in the way.
—— Let him thrust this way, and hijack his spear?
It was easy for him to grab the spear thrust of a common soldier.
Sweat dripped between his brows.
But what about his subordinates? The men who got injured and were receiving treatment?
They will probably be executed.
The chance of success if he revolt on a whim was very low.
Gilbert looked at the soldier holding the spear.
The thing breaking the tension was——
“What are you doing? Get over here and help me.”
Gilbert let out a baffled sound unconsciously.
But Enzo didn’t seem to mind as he waved his hand.
The sentry shouted:
“That man is a prisoner with the title of mercenary king that need require additional attention! I saw him picking up a sword without permission! That is a revolt!”
“Ah, yes—… I asked him to do that. Hey, bring that sword here, and the coke too.”
The sentry kept his guard up.
“Mister Blacksmith, get away from him! He is dangerous!”
“No matter how strong he is, this fort has an army of 10,000. What can he do with just a sword? The sentries on duty are gathering too. Don’t need to worry, right?”
Indeed, it was impossible to revolt and escape the fort with just a sword. Going by common sense, that was to be expected.
Gilbert obeyed the commands, putting the sword on the crate of coke and then pushed the cart.
The sword and coke were brought to the furnace.
Seeing Gilbert put down the sword, the sentry also lower his spear.
The gathered soldiers also returned to their posts as if nothing happened.
—— I’m saved?
There was no reason to bring a finished sword to the furnace. Gilbert, who was misunderstood by the sentry, was saved by the blacksmith.
As he put the coke into the furnace as instructed, he asked quietly:
“... Why did you help me?”
“Well, I understand after seeing your eyes.”
“After a man who entrusted his life to a weapon saw the sword I forged, his eye sparkled like a child and was completely engrossed.”
It sounded shameful when he was told that… But that was the truth.
Gilbert had indeed been mesmerized by the sword Enzo forged.
“... Ugh, yes.”
He mumbled unintelligibly, then realized he was thanking Enzo.
“But as expected, you are really a famous guy.”
“I don’t remember having such a title…”
“How is the sword I made?”
“... It’s a good sword… But too light for me.”
“Well, that’s true. You use a spear right?”
“... You can tell just by looking?”
“Not really, it’s because of your muscle distribution.”
They talked as they worked, and finally emptied all the coke into the furnace.
“Alright, the fire got stronger. Use the bellows.”
Gilbert grabbed the handles of the bellows after hearing that, pressing and pulling it to send air into the furnace.
“You are pretty good. Much stronger than my apprentice.”
“... I have never lost in a competition of strength before.”
“Great, keep it up, I’m counting on you.”
Although transporting coke and using the bellows were usually the jobs of apprentices, all the blacksmiths had to forge weapons because of the great influx in the number of soldiers.
In the end, laborious jobs such as ferrying goods that only required strength was tasked to others.
Gilbert thought it would be boring and monotonous work, but sending enough air to keep the fire burning at a certain level required more concentration than expected.
And the furnace hot enough to burn steel bright red was right in front of him. He was sweating profusely in no time.
The blacksmith heated the steel up, then hammered it.
After hammering, it was heated up again.
There were blacksmiths in ‘Renard Pendu’ too, but the difference in quality could be seen immediately.
Gilbert assisted Enzo as instructed.
They continued working and seemed to neglect the time.
From that day, Gilbert was called to assist the blacksmiths more often.
After separating from Baltasar, Altina returned to her own chambers.
A moment later, Clarisse came over with tea and brioche.
Eric arrived too.
He was a youth about Altina’s age with blonde hair. He just celebrated his 17th birthday recently.
Eric was Altina’s Escort Officer.
However, he was injured in the opening battle of the war earlier, and the symptom from his wounds still lingered.
He couldn’t exert strength in his left hand.
It wasn’t a problem for his daily life, but he doesn’t have the wrist power to lift a large shield or pull the reins of a horse anymore.
Knights would hold a weapon in their right hand and the reins in their left during battles. There were times they need to switch hands too. If they couldn’t use one arm, they would not be able to serve as a knight.
Eric was being treated as a casualty right now.
Altina let him sit in her chair.
It was a high quality white slender chair.
It had been less than half a year since Fort Volks was taken as a base, but the room was becoming extravagant because of the many gifts from nobles and merchants.
There were bright coloured cloth, laces and flower vases decorating the room.
It wasn’t adorned with sparkling gems and precious metals like the Imperial Capital, but compared to the time it was used by Varden Grand Duchy of the Germanian Federation, the difference was staggering.
The people of the Germanian Federation believed that simplicity was beauty, and that unnecessary things should be removed. Decorating the room was shameful to them.
Altina also dislike meaningless extravagance.
However, she thinks that adequate decoration could improve one’s mood. Humans can’t survive on bread alone.
Clarisse placed the tea set on the luxurious round table which was sitting on a tile by the side.
“These are new tea leaves from the capital. Maybe the sea trade have resumed.”
The Belgarian Empire had captured the newest model of warship from High Britannia. When words about this spread, the pirates targeting the transport vessels no longer dare to linger near their coast.
Even though they were pirates, their real identity was the Hispania Imperial Navy. They would hang pirate flags in place of their naval colours, and commit piracy as a nation.
Their public stance was that they had nothing to do with pirates, but the vessels and weapons used by the pirates were all made by Hispania, and the crew were mostly Hispanians. So it was impossible for them to be entirely uninvolved.
And of course, relations between the two nations were deteriorating fast.
If High Britannia didn’t invade, Belgaria might have launched a punitive force against the Hispania Empire to the southwest.
Altina picked up her white porcelain teacup. The light red liquid emitted a soothing fragrance.
Clarisse and Eric also sat down, the three of them gathered around the round table.
Normally, the maid and Escort Officer can’t sit opposite the commander like this. They should be standing at the wall or near the entrance.
However, other soldiers won’t see if they are in Altina’s room. There wasn’t a need to show their hierarchical relationship, so Altina treated the two of them as friends.
Clarisse took out the letter.
“Alright, this is the letter that was received today, together with this crate. What do you think?”
There was a crate near the door. It was big enough to fit in a large sword.
Hufufu~ Clarisse laughed.
“Could it be a present for the Princess~ … Maybe it is?”
“Well, even if that’s true, wouldn’t it be filled with books?”
Eric looked troubled, but didn’t refute that.
Clarisse breathed in.
“You know Sir Regis that well huh. Well then, I will read the letter.”
She broke the wax seal and opened the envelope.
The three of them looked at the letter laid out on the table.
“Sir Regis has a way with words as usual… Well… ‘To Altina. The weather is fine in the capital today’”
“Clarisse wait!? Why are you reading this out loud!?”
“Ara? I am confident in imitating his voice.”
“I don’t need you to mimic his speaking style, don’t do unnecessary things.”
“Alright… ‘To my cute Altina. The days that I couldn’t meet you is so unbearable.’”
“He didn’t write that!”
“Creativity is necessary.”
“You don’t need creativity to read the letter!”
The bickering between Altina and Clarisse made Eric smile.
After knowing about his injuries, he didn’t smile much. That’s why I called him here to cheer him up a little —— Altina thought.
Eric might be an Escort Officer, but he wasn’t just protecting Altina’s safety, he also supported her when she was down and troubled. Even his injuries was because he protected Regis.
He was an important companion.
In the first letter she wrote to Regis, Altina told him about Eric’s condition.
Fort Volks was rather far away from the capital, so the letter would take several days to reach. That’s why the letters from Regis was about report about his recent situation.
When she found out that Regis became Latreille’s strategist —— to be honest, Altina cried. Even though she could suppress her urge in the beginning, her heart was already a mess.
She still found it hard to accept, but she still calmed down.
She believed that Regis would send her letters every day.
And as time passes, she think the first letter she would receive a reply for the first letter she sent soon.
As usual, the beginning of the letter was a report of recent events.
He will be moving out from the capital in a few days, and head in the direction of Langobalt Kingdom.
Since the letter was mailed out a week ago, he should have set off by now, and was in the middle of his campaign.
As he was a strategist of the Imperial First Army, and it was a fort battle, he probably won’t face the enemy directly.
Even so, the letter still calmed down Altina a little.
The second letter was for Eric.
Regis’ words were as follows:
I understand the gist of the issue, this is a serious problem. I have often read about the lingering effects of wounds in stories. There are many records of people recovering from it, so don’t give up too easily. However, there is no telling how many years it would take.
Eric seemed to have heard the same thing from the lady doctor.
“As expected, I can’t recover immediately…”
And continued reading
It must be difficult to fight on horseback. Even though it is not mandatory for Escort Officers to ride horses, placing someone who couldn’t ride in an important post would affect the morale of the entire army. Even if we convince the troops to accept it, Eric might not be comfortable with that.
I see, Altina nodded.
She received special treatment since she was born. Others were jealous as far as her memory goes. And despite never attending Military Academy, she was suddenly appointed as a commander.
And so, there were times when she found it hard to understand the feelings of normal people.
Especially the desire to make it big.
Altina wanted to be Empress because this was the necessary path to bring about change to the Empire.
She had never thought about the necessity of ranks and career progression.
However, in reality, the soldiers were working for all sorts of reasons.
She had to avoid showing bias to Eric and grant him that post. If Eric’s receive treatment that didn’t correspond with his capability, the soldiers would lose their will to work hard.
She read on.
Before Eric’s left hand fully recovers, it will be better to transfer him away from the post of Escort Officer.
“... I knew it… There is no other way.”
Eric slumped his shoulders.
Altina pointed to the letter.
“Wait, there’s more.”
But considering how he feels, I have a proposal if he still wants to serve in the army. It has never been done in the Belgarian Army before, but I think this will be the main class of soldiers in the near future. I hope he can be the pioneer to familiarize with this, and become an instructor.
Eric leaned forward.
He stared at the letter as if he was going to eat it.
I want Eric to be the first ‘Riflemen’ in the Empire. I have sent the necessary items, please open the crate and take a look.
Eric squatted beside the crate and tried opening the lid. But he couldn’t exert strength in his left hand, so it was hard for him to do so.
As this was a crate for military transportation, there wasn’t any handles on the cover. The lid was nailed down.
Altina squatted beside him to help.
“Leave this to me.”
“H-How could I let the Princess do such a thing…!!”
“It’s fine, I have a lot of strength.”
She grabbed the lid and pull up, and the sound of nails being pulled out could be heard. She crushed the lid, but it was a disposable item so it’s fine. It could be used as firewood.
Clarisse who had a wrench in hand shrugged. If she prepared that before hand, Altina really wished she could have taken it out at the very beginning.
The thing inside the crate was rod shaped, covered in cloth and emitting a pungent oily smell.
If they didn’t read the letter, they would have mistaken this for a sword.
Eric carefully unravelled the cloth.
This was a High Britannia made breech loaded rifle.
There was some ammunition too.
These are three rifles that were captured in good shape, I will send it to you first. Firstly, there are about a hundred bullets, I will send more if you finished them. Even though these are only made in High Britannia for now, the Empire would one day manufacture rifles and bullets of the same standard. Prince Latreille is passionate about research and development. In the near future —— the weapons ruling the battlefield won’t be swords or pikes, but rifles. We are urgently in need of talents who are proficient in using it. I pray that Eric will give this deep thought and face this task seriously.
Next was detailed instructions on the usage and maintenance of the rifles.
As expected of Regis, it was full of details about places to take note, Altina didn’t think she could do this.
“... The main weapon of the battlefield huh.”
In the earlier battles, Altina couldn’t do anything about the power of the rifles.
But thanks to Regis’ strategy, the Belgarian Empire still emerged victorious.
However, it was not that simple for Altina who spend every day practicing her sword to accept this.
What about Eric? He probably suffered rigorous training since childhood to learn such excellent swordsmanship.
Could he accept it if he was asked to use a rifle all of a sudden?
“Eric, don’t force yourself okay?”
“... Yes, erm… I am not pushing myself… just a little surprised. I thought the likes of muskets were just used to intimidate others. How could it rule the battlefield… Ah, I know that Sir Regis only proposed this after careful consideration.”
Belgaria’s musket required tedious preparation, and lack firepower.
As Eric had never seen the way High Britannia fought, he couldn’t understand that.
Altina told him about the battle of Lafressange.
It was a battle that dealt a destructive blow to the Imperial Seventh Army. The weapon used by High Britannia in that battle, was the rifle in front of them.
“I don’t know how good the rifles made by Belgaria will be, or if rifles will really rule the battlefield… But Sir Regis thinks that war will change because of this.”
Eric listened with a serious face.
“... I see… I also heard that the High Britannia Army dealt heavy casualties to us with rifles, but I didn’t imagine it to be this one sided.”
“If we knew, we would have thought of a better plan.”
He pondered deeply.
“That’s true, I… Maybe that’s the only option I have… But giving up the sword… Is not such an easy decision to make.”
“How about training both at the same time?”
“...The expectation Regis have of me is not just being a rifleman. But to be the instructor of the new model rifles… Isn’t that right?”
“If my training is half hearted, I won’t be skilled enough to teach others.”
“Hmm… Is that so?”
The Belgaria Empire also had front loaded muskets. It wasn’t used much, but there should be people who were familiar with it.
They were rookies and farmers who couldn’t do well even if they held pikes, so they were issued muskets.
The star of the battlefield was the cavalry. Followed by pikemen and archers. Artillery and musket men were looked down on.
There were commanders who thought it would be better for them to transport cargo than to push their cannons and muskets.
Hence, there were no ‘riflemen’ in Belgaria. Only High Britannia used that term.
“... I was defeated… by the mercenary from ‘Renard Pendu’, the person with a crossbow.”
“You still remember huh.”
Altina didn’t forget the name Franziska either. What happened that night was still fresh on her mind.
She was toyed by her and fell to a big disadvantage. Eric who came to support her was hit, Altina let this get to her head, and cleaved Grand Tonnerre Quatre into a tree and damaged it.
—— I lost that fight.
In the earlier battle, it was thanks to Regis’ tactic that they caught the band leader of ‘Renard Pendu’, Gilbert. However, they let his sister Franziska escaped.
Where is she now?
She was a mercenary from the Germanian Federation, did she return there? Or was she on the way to Fort Volks to rescue her brother?
To Eric, Franziska was an unforgettable existence too.
“... That mercenary could fight with a crossbow no matter how close you get to her. If I can’t be like her, I won’t be able to take the post of instructor. Since Regis said that rifles will rule the battlefield, he probably isn’t referring to fighting with a blade attached to the front of the rifle.”
“You are right, if a sword is combined with a rifle, it would become a spear.”
It was tedious to reload Belgaria’s muskets, so after firing the first shot, they would fix a blade to the tip of the musket and wield it like a spear. That blade was known as a bayonet.
“Of course, I think it is only natural for soldiers to use swords… I think his expectation of me is to use the rifle to fight by firing shots.”
“It’s not good to give up halfway.”
“If we use it like spears after firing off the shots, it would be no different from what we are doing with the muskets anyway.”
It was hard to imagine doing it that way would make it the king of the battlefield.
However, war had always been fought with swords and pikes, could rifle really play a major role?
Eric stared at the pieces of metal inside the crate.
“I will choose to believe Sir Regis.”
“Eric, is that really fine?”
“... I don’t know if this will be of help to Your Highness… But I will do all that I can to learn how to use this new rifles.”
He picked up a rifle from the crate.
“I understand, Eric. No matter what weapons you use, I will trust you.”
“... Princess… I am honoured. I will give everything I have to protect Your Highness.”
This day, at this place, the first ‘rifleman’ of the Belgarian Empire was born.
Because of several coincidence happening at the same time, it had a large influence on the rifle becoming mainstream in the Empire.
Although High Britannia’s new rifles achieved great results, they lost in the end, making the other nations cautious about implementing the usage of rifles.
However, rifles were evaluated differently in the Empire.
That was because, even though Altina herself wasn’t aware, her every action as a saviour of the Empire were watched by the troops and nobles closely.
And she assigned a rifleman to be her Escort Officer.
The new rifle became ‘the honorable weapon that protect the princess’, and everyone with high status held high expectation of it.
But pushing the widespread usage of new rifles earlier than the other nations resulted in a colossal change to the fate of the Belgarian Empire.