Late Night Coffee
Editor: Darkdhaos, CEObrainz, Seir K
The windows were rattling in the wind this night.
In the hills 5 Li (22 km) from Grebauvar city, the early summer vegetation inside the forest was thick and obstructed vision. It gave the feeling that the mythical residents of the forest might show up at any time. They communicated with fairies of the earth, fire, wind and water, and lived with the elfs.
In the forest where the moonlight couldn’t shine through, thoughts about the existence of such beings started springing forth.
There was a well paved road that connected the Imperial Capital to Grebauvar city.
That’s why if the First Army set up their formation along this road and placed their headquarters in the clearance, they would be spotted easily by the enemy scouts.
If the enemy discovered the location of the headquarters, there would be a risk of a surprise attack, so they set up their headquarters in the forest.
Even though the enemy was fighting an away battle, they launched a successful attack on the First Army’s headquarters before, so they couldn’t let their guard down.
And of course, Regis was using a tentage of a normal senior officer. Floorings were placed over the wet mud, and a foldable table, a chair and a bed were set up before surrounding it with canvas.
Most soldiers just laid a piece of cloth onto the ground and slept on it. It would be great if they had a sheet to cover themselves too.
If the number of officers afforded the privilege of a personal tent increased by one, they would need to add a hundred men on transport and management, since the men transporting the items needed food supplies too.
By the way, there was no roof for such canvas, so one would be drenched if it rained.
It rarely rains in north Belgaria, and the rain would let up fairly quickly even if it did. The air was dry and even if the men were drenched, they would dry up in no time. Therefore, the army didn’t go to the trouble to protect themselves from the rain, and only did so for the tent of the commander Latreille.
If they set up camp in a wide space like the plains, they would prepare tents that were as big as a home like what the Fourth Army did. It would be more comfortable, but it couldn’t be used in the forest.
The campsite was decided by the commander beforehand, so they only brought the necessities to the battlefield.
The curtain covering the entrance to the tent shook quietly.
Regis raised his head from his book.
“Who is it?”
“Sir Regis, it’s me.”
“Ahhh, please come in.”
“Sorry for intruding at this hour.”
The one who opened the curtain and entered was Fanrine Veronica de Tiraso Laverde.
Her long black hair reached all the way down to the sash around the waist of her black one piece dress.
She was an aristocratic lady who didn’t suit the battlefield, but was dispatched to follow this expedition by the Ministry of Military Affairs under the pretext of Regis’ Escort Officer.
Originally, she should only keep watch over him during his time in the Imperial Capital, but for some reason, she volunteered to travel with the army.
She carried in a tray with freshly baked bread and coffee.
“... Sir Regis, you are staying up late tonight too. This might be nosy of me, but I brought some supper.”
“No, it smells fragrant, I am thankful.”
“It’s my pleasure.”
Regis placed the document on the table back into the crate. The crate had two layers, a contraption to prevent the documents from getting wet in the rain.
Fanrine placed the tray onto the table.
Not just bread, there were tangerines, peaches and dark coffee in a wooden cup.
Regis picked up the coffee and took a sip. The hot liquid warmed his body and drove away his fatigue.
“Fufu… That’s great.”
“Fanrine, do you prepare your own supper at night?”
“I usually don’t do that… But don’t all women want to prepare supper for their husband personally?”
“It’s rare to see an aristocratic lady doing that. Working earnestly in everything you do is a wonderful idea.”
“... Thank you. Sir Regis is reading today too.”
“Yes, after becoming a staff officer of the First Army, I now have the rights to read documents I couldn’t read in the past. I have to use this chance to look through them.”
Regis reached for the bread. Even though the bread baked at the battlefield was very hard, there was butter on it so it was tasty. What a luxury to eat butter on the battlefield.
“Ms Fanrine won’t tell me to sleep early though. Everyone ask me to do that when they see me reading through the night.”
Fanrine smiled under the faint light of the lamp.
The wavering shadows emphasized the contours of her body, which made her more charming than in the day.
“Because everyone is worried about Sir Regis’ health.”
“Yes, I understand that. Thank you.”
“I hope Sir Regis can stay in good health too, but there are some things that have to be done which I can’t do in your stead. I don’t want to get in your way.”
“... I see.”
That’s a different way of thinking about this, Regis thought.
She wasn’t just a gentle woman, Fanrine had given it much thought.
The tangerine was deliciously sweet and sour.
“Aren’t you eating, Ms Fanrine?”
“I will be turning in soon. Sir Regis, have you gotten acquainted with everyone from the First Army?”
“Well, I think my relationship with them isn’t bad… On the surface.”
“That’s good enough. I was worried during the conversation earlier.”
“... The men from the White Wolves Knights are probably not too happy.”
“That skirmish near the Imperial Capital is quite well known, there are sons from noble Houses amongst the knights of the First Army.”
The commander and his deputy both died during that incident.
Regis didn’t want anyone to die, but Jerome’s five hundred Black Knights were facing off against the thousand strong White Wolves Knights, any wrong move and they would have been wiped out. So Regis couldn’t hold back.
Right now, the Knight Commander of the White Wolves was newly promoted, and didn’t bear any grudge against Regis.
But there were definitely people who still did because of that battle, so Regis couldn’t let his guard down.
“For now, I am here as a staff officer on Prince Latreille’s invitation… Compared to their hatred towards me, their loyalty is probably stronger.”
Regis didn’t know any commander who was held in a higher regard by their subordinates than Latreille.
“Prince Latreille is going to be the Emperor right?”
“Probably. When the war with High Britannia ends… Well, I think this battle will end this war. That’s why we are going to lay siege on the fort city.”
“... Why are you doing that?”
Fanrine was capable and excellent in politics, but was lacking in military affairs.
Regis explained as he chewed on his bread.
“When attacking a fort, the battle will end when our soldiers break into their fort. There won’t be many soldiers escaping from inside. Without sufficient numbers, they would be like bandits, no matter who was in command. There wouldn’t be a problem in declaring the war has ended then.”
“I see, so we will definitely win?”
“Well… For the defenders of a fort, they would win when they drastically reduce the attacker’s numbers, and pursue after them during their retreat.”
Or to hold out until reinforcement arrives.
There won’t be reinforcement from High Britannia coming, but if the war becomes a stalemate, the neighbouring nations would attack the Belgarian Empire.
“I heard that the fort city is really well built.”
“Yes, Grebauvar city has an excellent fort. It is hard to imagine how it fell into the hands of the enemy.”
“So they haven’t found out yet.”
“No… They’ve already learned the situation from those who escaped… But they are treating me like an outsider and haven’t told me the details.”
“I have no choice but to ask about it during tomorrow’s war conference. This is the first time I am in the position of receiving report that had already been organized, but as a newcomer, I have to be used to the new way of doing things.”
Regis didn’t want them to accommodate him so much that they get into conflicts.
He was just feeling uneasy.
Fanrine asked other things.
“... Sir Regis supports Princess Argentina to be the Empress right? Is it fine to help Prince Latreille like this?”
“Well, saving the citizens of Grebauvar City is the priority, and we need to end the war with High Britannia as soon as possible. If we stand idly by, our neighbouring nations would invade. These facts must be considered separately from politics.”
“And I am wondering whether Prince Latreille and Princess Argentina’s policy are really too irreconcilable -- I need to know the answer to this. The goal isn’t to obtain authority, but to change the governance policies of the Belgarian Empire. It would be great if we can shift from Hegemonism to Pacifism.”
“Isn’t it obvious that Prince Latreille is hegemonic?”
“He was in the past. But with the Empire suffering heavy losses in the war with High Britannia, and the war changing with the debut of rifles, it would be a different era. The Prince’s thinking might change. I have some hope for that…”
“If nothing changes, then what would you do?”
“Hmm… That’s a difficult question. If Prince Latreille insists on hegemonism to expand his territory, I would need to take countermeasures. However, he would be Emperor then.”
If the campaign to recapture Grebauvar City was successful, Prince Latreille would probably become Emperor.
“If he takes the throne, it will be difficult no matter what I do…”
Fanrine tilted her head in surprise.
“Speaking of which, Princess Argentina would lose her succession rights if Prince Latreille takes the throne right?”
“That’s right, there isn’t any law regarding the succession of the throne, but it had always followed tradition. The most influential person with regards to this is the Chamberlain. He is of noble birth, and was the Minister of Military Affairs as well as the Ceremonial Ministry in the past. He seemed to have strong ties to the current Ministers. If the Chamberlain doesn’t acknowledge him, the powerful grand nobles wouldn’t either. This means there is a form of senate in the Empire, even though it is not recognized by law.”
“It feels strange that the succession of the Emperor, the one with absolute authority in the Empire, is decided by the Chamberlain.”
Fanrine lowered her voice. She was already speaking softly, and was even more guarded now.
She was baffled by it, and Regis felt the same.
“It’s because the previous Emperor granted him a lot of authority, but the problem is the sudden empowerment. Well, no matter what… If the second son succeeds the throne, the fourth daughter losing her succession right is the tradition——”
“The Belgarian Empire is special, but in nations like High Britannia, Hispania and Germania, siblings would have succession rights if the Emperor has no scion, something like this——”
Regis wrote on a piece of scrap paper.
Emperor’s descendants ⇒ Emperor’s younger brother ⇒ Brother’s descendant ⇒ Even younger brother ⇒ His descendants…
“However, the Belgarian Empire doesn’t recognize the succession rights of the Emperor’s siblings.”
Emperor’s descendants ⇒ Emperor’s younger sibling’s descendants ⇒ Even younger sibling’s descendants
“The reason for this is probably an assassination plot that almost destroyed the Empire. In summary, it solves the problem of royal fratricide.”
“Is this problem because of the royals… personality?”
“Yes. Not all of them are like this, but the royals have the prowess to fight a thousand men, and formidable mental fortitude. But this might lead to events developing in a terrible way.”
Regis recounted a tale that happened not too long ago.
The records were vague, and historians all held different opinions on this story——
About 500 years ago, when the Empire was still in the west, the land to the central, south and east still belonged to other nations.
There were three princes about the same age.
They all had crimson eyes, vermillion hair and a well built body, and all three were said to be ‘just like the founding Emperor’.
It was hard to determine who did better on the battlefield as they all performed outstandingly, contributing greatly to expanding the territory of the Empire.
They were the ones who chased the people of a different tribe that were near the current Imperial Capital towards the east. Everyone thought that no matter who became Emperor, the Belgarian Empire would be as sturdy as bedrock.
When the Emperor at that time passed away due to illness, the eldest brother rightfully took the throne, and was in the position to command his brothers.
However, when there were problems, there would be different opinions.
Regarding the counter attack of the foreign tribe they chased away and famine brought about by natural disaster, the Emperor had a clash of views with his brothers.
And then, the assassination happened.
The Second Prince assassinated the Emperor—— that was one of the rumours, but there wasn’t any evidence. Despite the doubts surrounding his death, the Second Prince took the throne in accordance to the line of succession. It had just been half a year since his brother ascended the throne.
And of course, the Empire was stable since the Second Prince was an exemplary talent.
Half a year later——
The Third Prince unveiled the treasonous plot of the Second Prince.
The details weren’t clear. The common belief was that someone related to the assassination was captured.
There wasn’t any law to incriminate a royal.
The court of law could step in, but at this point, it was ‘too late for anyone to stop him’. And so, the Third Prince executed the Second Prince.
It wouldn’t be too bad if the story ended here.
However, some of the noble pointed out that instead of the Third Prince, the children of the Second Prince were more suitable for the throne.
When the Second Prince died, his children had priority in the line of succession.
But the coronation of the Second Prince who killed the Emperor was invalid—— There was such a tradition too. The Third Prince insisted that he should have the succession right as the one who unveiled the assassination plot of the First Prince.
But the influence of the Third Prince was too limited, and couldn’t shut the mouths of the Second Prince faction.
The result was a civil war that splitted the nation in two.
According to present day research, the Third Prince’s position was correct in accordance to custom. But unfortunately, the Second Prince faction obtained victory in the end.
There were many stories about what happened to the Third Prince, such as dying on the battlefield, or founding his own nation and passing of old age after escaping from the Empire.
In conclusion, the Belgarian Empire lost three excellent leaders.
During the large scale war, many problems were ignored. Many citizens died from the foreign tribe’s counter attack and famine.
Luckily, the new Emperor was young but talented, and the Empire recovered its national strength… But there was no doubt that the Empire was on the verge of destruction.
And so, the eldest son of the Second Prince who assassinated the First Prince became the new Emperor.
And the descendants of the royal family also inherited this personality.
So to avoid such a failure from happening again, there was a custom that ‘the siblings must support the new Emperor’—— this was written in many books.
Regis finished the coffee that had gone slightly cold.
“... I don’t think bloodline can decide everything. But after talking about this story of brothers killing brothers, I suspect that this is the reason behind the succession system in place.”
“So that’s where the custom came from.”
“Well, the children of the Emperor would have priority in the line of succession over his brothers. This is the same for other countries.”
“Ah, this might be rude… But if Prince Latreille became Emperor and doesn’t have any children after ascending the throne, than what will happen if he passes away? Will Princess Argentina’s child take the throne?”
“Hmmm… If Prince Auguste has a child, that child would be next in the line of succession. If the throne is vacant for a time, there would be times when the mother of the Emperor would perform his duty as a stand in. Right now, that would be Prince Latreille’s mother—— Her Majesty, the Empress.”
“Not taking the throne, but standing in for him.”
“So there is such a thing…”
“The Empire right now is a huge nation with over a million people, but the population was smaller three hundred years ago. As we are constantly at war, the princes and emperors might lose their live if they are not careful. When a child related to the royal family by blood was born, he would become the Emperor.”
“The bloodline actually continued.”
“Yes… If the children have red eyes and hair, they must be a descendant of the Founding Emperor.”
Hmm—— Fanrine pondered.
“Ah… Then for High Britannia, if Queen Margaret loses this war, her sister will become queen?”
“Eh, that kingdom is governed by a parliament, so the succession rights are listed out plainly. According to your logic, wouldn’t her cousin Elizabeth be next in line? She doesn’t have any sisters after all… No, High Britannia’s parliament has the authority to dispose of the monarch. Considering their relations with Belgaria from now on, there is a chance that Queen Margaret would be disposed, even if she survives.”
“There will be changes. What kind of person is Princess Elizabeth? It would be great if she hates war…”
“She had never appeared in a public setting before. As she is just 16, she is not considered an adult in High Britannia.”
“Is that so?”
“No matter who becomes the queen, that country will be in trouble. Belgaria would ask for war reparations. To satisfy the terms of a peace treaty, would they pay with money, or supply advanced technology…? If they refuse, will it be war? I am against an invasion… But I don’t know what Prince Latreille’s plans are.”
“Sir Regis, you are concerned about what His Highness’ decision would be?”
“Ah… That’s right… I hope that Prince Latreille would seek out peaceful diplomatic relations, but…”
“If Prince Latreille implements a hegemonic policy after taking the throne, what would your plans be?”
The orange flames danced in the reflection of her eyes.
Regis could only sit idly by and wait for this situation to come.
He couldn’t prevent Latreille from taking the throne.
If Latreille became the new Emperor, and expanded the frontlines…?
“If it comes to that, I… will do all I can. I won’t stand by idly anymore. My apologies, but I can’t explain the specifics.”
“... No, pardon me, a mere woman enquiring on politics.”
“After talking to you, my thoughts are more organized, Ms Fanrine. Thank you.”
“Fufu… sorry to disturb your reading. I will be retiring for the night. See you tomorrow, Sir Regis.”
“Ahhh, good night.”
Fanrine bowed deeply and exited the tent.
—— Maybe I will be recreating the struggles between siblings 500 years ago.
This would be a brutal incident in the history of Belgaria.
500 years later, maybe the history books would portray him as a big sinner.
“... I hope… It won’t come to war.”
He didn’t want to see a fight between siblings.
It would be great if he doesn’t have to be a strategist again. He wanted to read his books while being lectured as a ‘useless bum’. That’s what Regis thought.
Imperial Year 851, July 5th
The First Imperial Army of the Belgarian Empire advanced to a position 60 Ar (4287m) away from Grebauvar City, which was being occupied by the allied army of High Britannia and Langobalt Kingdom.
They were not in artillery range, but they could already look over the hill at the grey fortress walls on top of the green plains
If one possessed extraordinary eyesight, they might be able to see the flags of High Britannia and Langobalt clearly.
Just like the intel report stated, the fortress had been seized.
After eating lunch, Regis walked towards the headquarters.
All the soldiers of the First Army were well trained, and weren't uncouth in any way. They maintained their discipline, and didn’t look like they had marched for several days. There wasn’t anyone wandering around half naked, gambling or fighting.
There were those doing weapon maintenance, training and resting…
Their morale was high.
When Regis clashed with them at the Imperial Capital, he felt they were aloof and careless.
However, they suffered heavy losses in the battle with High Britannia several days ago, he could feel they were tense in a good sense.
He entered the war conference room. It was a round tent with a roof, with a round table inside.
But no chairs.
It seemed that everyone will stand during the conference.
Regis wanted to enter during the appointed time——
But only found one person in there.
It was Latreille who was wearing light armour.
Regis took out his pocket watch panickingly.
“S-Sorry, did I mix up the time?!”
“No, the time now is 5 minutes before 1300 hours… There’s no problem at all.”
“The others aren’t here yet…?”
“Yes, I told the others that the conference will start at 1400 hours.”
This wasn’t the same as usual.
Regis felt uneasy, being in the same tent as Latreille alone.
Maybe he offended him somehow, and would be executed?
No, considering how he had been since he started working here, he might be chased back to the capital because of how useless he was.
Thinking back, Regis noted that he had just been reading books.
Would it be execution or being expelled from the Staff Officers…?
Latreille placed a hand on the table.
“Sir Regis, you are not gelling well with the unit.”
“So I’m fired?”
“Ah, no, ehh… Did my work performance not meet your expectations?”
“To be honest, yes. On Le Lucé hill, you advised to not dwell there. But you are not participating in the recent meetings.”
“... Well… I don’t have any special opinions to raise, and didn’t want to drag the process.”
“I think you are concerned about troubling the people around you.”
“My apologies for making you worry.”
“And so, before the conference begins, I would like to hear your views.”
“Look at this first.”
A map was laid out on the table.
The smell of ink was still fresh.
It was probably updated with the latest intel.
The fortress city Grebauvar was situated in front of a steep mountain, and built at its valley. Even though it was called a valley, but the land to its side wasn’t steep, although there were slopes not easily traversable by carriages. The city was situated in a basin between mountains.
Thanks to the location, the windmills and watermills were always turning.
The wind would blow from the south west towards north east.
It was the same for the river flow. The river was almost wide enough for warships, and was very deep. The river flows across the Germanian Federation all the way to the western sea.
Because the flow was rapid, only those who excel in swimming could make it to the other side.
It seldom rains in Belgaria, so the quantity of water was precious.
It wasn’t just a fortress which defends against Langobalt Kingdom of the Germanian Federation, the industries that made full use of the water supply was also a feature of this city.
Along with Mauldre City on the other side of the southern mountain, it was one of the few paper and steel mass production cities within the Empire. It also produced top grade wine.
This was the hub of the northern frontlines, where Lieutenant General Buxlow and his Third Army were garrisoned.
But Lieutenant General Buxlow died in the war with High Britannia.
The Third Army also lost more than half of their forces.
Despite that, there should be more than 10,000 men who have been guarding the city. They were either captured or killed with the fall of the city, and couldn’t be counted on to fight.
Hmm… Regis stared at the map.
Latreille pointed to the map, and explained the deployment of the enemy.
“According to scouts report, the allied forces of High Britannia and Langobalt Kingdom are inside the fortress, their estimated numbers are between 30,000 to 40,000.”
“Attacking the fortress with inferior numbers, this is a harsh situation.”
“We won’t be fighting them head on. That’s why I requested for your presence.”
Regis broke out in cold sweat.
But it wouldn’t help to say anything now, magic that could undo all disadvantages doesn’t exist. He had pondered and prepared himself, but there was no telling if it was any use.
Latreille closed his left eye, and stared with his right.
“Didn’t we bring 50,000 pioneers with us because of this?”
“Yes, that’s true… the terrain is just like the intel, I think it will work.”
Pioneers weren’t soldiers.
They were workers gathered from around the capital, more than half of them were refugees who lost their homes, land and wealth because of this war.
They would receive remuneration if they took part in this expedition, a sum that would tide over them and their families for some time.
Families who could not perform labour would need some other form of financial assistance.
Anyway, this was part of a disaster relief program for those affected by the war.
Regis pointed to the map.
“Are the citizens of Grebauvar congregated here?”
It was the southern part of the fortress, where the city part of the place lies. In contrast to the circular walls of the fortress, the walls here were straight.
It was better for city walls to be round, that’s why it was built that way.
If there were corners, it would be attacked from two sides.
However, the circular shape wasn’t suitable for the walls of a city. Thus, aside from the circular walls around the fortress, the city part of it was built in a straight line.
There was also an expansion to the west of the city, which was built during the boom of steel production, housing all buildings related to the steel industry.
Latreille pointed to the expansion part.
“According to those who escaped from the city, the citizens are being held in the steel production street. The soldiers are residing in the main city.”
“People who escaped!?”
“Is there a secret tunnel?”
“No… The workers ordered to repair the walls jumped into the river suddenly, and escaped by swimming.”
“That river!? He must be an excellent swimmer!”
“Well, other people can’t mimic him. I wonder how many amongst the First Army, which is known as the gathering of the elites could do that…”
“There must be some right?”
It was a unit where the best of the Empire congregated.”
“What about the holding place of the prisoners?”
“They are not with the civilians, and are still in the main city…”
“Normally thinking, they should be in the city.”
If the fortress didn’t fall, it would not be considered a loss. If something went wrong and the captives revolt, it wouldn’t be too much of a problem if they were separated by a wall. There was also the problem of size.
Since 30,000 troops were garrisoned in Grebauvar City for the long term, the enemy would take up all the housing space by themselves.
There wouldn’t be enough stoves and wells.
So there was a high chance that the prisoners were held in some part of the city.
“... Assuming that they are still alive.”
Latreille mumbled to himself, and Regis nodded grimly.
This was war.
The enemy held the lives of captured soldiers in their hand.
“Do you know the details of how Grebauvar City fell?”
“Yes, some soldiers escaped during the battle.”
Latreille recounted the tale of how Grebauvar City was captured.
Imperial Year 851, June 11th.
The watch sentry on duty discovered a unit coming from the south, where the Belgaria Empire lies.
They couldn’t tell the details because it was dark, but the flag was a golden sun over a crimson background.
It was the flag of the Imperial Third Army, the same one that was flying in Grebauvar City.
That meant their allies from the Third Army were coming.
“It’s General Buxlow!”
The watch sentry shouted.
Someone else pointed out.
From the mountains, a unit chasing the Third Army appeared.
The garrison had never seen the flags of High Britannia, but they heard the news.
Their flag had a white base and two red lines.
The High Britannians opened fire, and the Third Army soldiers who fell behind were hit.
The acting commander of the garrison immediately sent out a unit to intercept.
And closed the gates of the city. This would prevent the enemy from entering the city even if they broke through.
It was a standard response that didn’t have any issue.
Like how they trained every day, the soldiers acted swiftly.
The intercepting units set up formations to protect their fleeing comrades. The pursuing High Britannian Army numbered nearly 10,000. With just 3,000 men in the intercepting unit, a direct confrontation would definitely result in a loss.
Not just that, a unit from Langobalt Kingdom appeared in the north.
It was a perilous situation.
If the fleeing Third Army units couldn’t enter the fort quickly…
And then someone from the fleeing unit was shouting angrily at the gate. “General Buxlow is injured! Open the gate! Get a doctor!”
According to the regulations of the Imperial Army, even if you spotted allied forces and wanted to grant them entry, you would still need to verify their identity.
In such a situation, the commander of the garrison unit needed to confirm whether General Buxlow and his Staff Officers were there.
The commander ordered ‘not to open the gate first’.
However, when he headed to the window beside the gate as per standard procedure, the soldiers outside the gate shouted ‘Open the gate! Get a doctor quick!”
The intercepting unit was also suffering significant casualties under the rifle fire of the High Britannians, the Langobalt army was also approaching.
It wasn’t clear what exactly happened then.
But the fact was, the gate was opened before the verification was completed.
Did the guards open the gate because of the tense atmosphere? Or was it the order of the commander?
In the end, the gate opened to allow the unit being pursued to come in.
The Third Army imposters abandoned their flags and assaulted with their rifles.
They were actually High Britannian soldiers in disguise!
It didn’t take long to seize the west gate of the fortress.
The 3,000 men intercepting unit didn’t receive any support from the fortress, and was destroyed by the High Britannians.
The northern gates were also suppressed, and the 20,000 Langobalt army broke through. A part of the defenders raised the white flag.
The soldier who submitted this report was a guard on the western wall. He threw his sword and armour away and jumped into the river when he saw the white flag, and escaped by swimming through the river.
Regis pressed his fingers onto his forehead.
“Well… Such a decision is understandable…”
“To be tricked by such a common scheme, can you really say that… But shooting at your own units in order to deceive the fortress guards, that’s remarkable.”
“His plan was to trick the enemy soldiers with a few of his soldiers’ lives. A proper army would never do that.”
“If such an inhumane order is issued, the soldiers would lose their loyalty right?”
“... Correct… Well, loyalty isn’t the only thing that would spur the troops on, right?”
“This is exactly the sort of scheme that man would use…”
“Colonel Oswald Coulthard?”
Latreille nodded bitterly.
He suffered heavy losses because of such vicious tricks at Fort Bonaire.
Soldiers were hidden inside the barrels of gunpowder, who waited for a signal to ignite it. And of course, the ones who ignited it were blown to smithereens.
The de facto commander of the High Britannians was actually Colonel Oswald Coulthard, who liked to use such sacrificial tactics.
“Did the enemy actually know that the soldiers of the Third Army are extremely loyal to Lieutenant General Buxlow? Did they make use of that…”
“Yes… They couldn’t attack the Empire, and with their retreat route by land cut off, they probably then considered attacking Grebauvar City.”
Regis also did all his preparations… But was he really ready? He was a bit afraid.
If the enemy could get the help of the Langobalt Kingdom, then the best move wouldn’t be to attack this place, but to move along the river towards the sea, and return to their home country.
Or they could ride horses. The Langobalt Kingdom was famous for their horses, and was renowned for their cavalry.
Regis guessed —— Did High Britannia attack Grebauvar City because of the wilfulness of the new Queen?
Even so, he couldn’t tell what meaning there was in attacking Grebauvar City.
But from what he just heard, Oswald was well prepared for the attack on Grebauvar City. Did he even predict the wilfulness of the Queen?
Or was there some other meaning behind this operation?
“... I don’t understand.”
“What is it, Sir Regis?”
“Ah, well… I can’t really tell what Colonel Oswald Coulthard is thinking and his personality.”
“He is an enemy you have never met before. Isn’t this natural?”
“Well… Just like how you can grasp the personality of the author after reading his book, you can understand the character of the commander after seeing his tactics… and he is too strong.”
“Is that so?”
Latreille seemed to doubt that.
Regis didn't intend to put it in such a weird way, but Oswald didn't seem to perceive it like that.
Also, since Regis couldn’t see through Oswald’s thought process, it wasn’t convincing at all.
—— There should be some objective behind this.
Even though sacrificing one’s forces was a vicious tactic, it was very effective against the Belgarian soldiers who had a stoutly righteous nature. Oswald was smart. His tactics were truly excellent.
But on the grand strategy level, his move was full of blunders. As if he was seeking his own death.
They could stimulate their economy through war, but there wasn’t a need to pick a fight with the Belgarian Empire, who was strongest in the region.
The tactics utilizing their new rifles were amazing, and they did reach the capital with just 30,000 men.
Seizing Grebauvar City in no time was an astounding feat, even though they should be retreating.
It was true that Belgaria’s evaluation would fall drastically if they could hold on to that fort, and they might be able to turn the tide if the neighbouring nations launch attacks too.
And Regis was doing all he could to ensure it doesn’t come to that…
Maybe they were using hostages to negotiate for a safe passage back to High Britannia?
But Regis doubted the possibility of Latreille agreeing to negotiate. It was hard to imagine the Imperial Army negotiating with the enemy that dealt heavy casualties to them for the sake of hostages, and allow the enemy commander to escape.
Latreille said with a sigh.
“... It appears that Buxlow chose the wrong garrison commander. Even if his commander was in danger, they should prioritize on the safety of the fortress. The commander has to be someone like that.”
“That’s right. I have a way to confirm their identity without spending too much time…”
“For example, let someone who knows the faces of the Lieutenant General and his second in command leave the fortress with the intercepting units and wait in front of the gate. They would die if that was the enemy, but this is a better choice than losing the fortress and many more people dying.”
“An adequate strategy.”
“If they think about it calmly, they will be able to come up with this idea quickly. They were probably too anxious then.”
“That might be possible.”
Regis pointed at the city part of the map.
“First, we need to rescue the citizens. There might be some sacrifices, but we won’t be able to fight at full power if the enemy is holding a large number of hostages.”
“Isn’t it normal to treat the citizens of a fallen city as though they are dead?”
“That should be after we tried rescuing them.”
Latreille looked momentarily surprised.
He then crossed his arms, closed his eyes and pondered.
“... Of course… I don’t think letting the citizens die without even trying is a good thing.”
“Do you have any plans, Sir Regis?”
Latreille opened his right eye and asked.
Regis placed his hand on his chin and thought.
“Even a famous strategist won’t be able to think up a plan so simply huh.”
Regis almost spat.
“Going by your performance, such an evaluation isn’t unthinkable.”
“Erm, I do know of several ways to rescue the citizens from that city.”
“You actually know a few!?”
“I am still hesitant about which one is better…”
Latreille opened his eyes wide.
Regis scratched his head.
“Well… Although I only know the things written in books…”
“I read plenty of military books too, but didn’t know of any that listed such strategies. Which book is that country from?”
“No, I don’t think that is a book which can be found in the courts…”
Regis liked creative works such as entertainment novels, dramas and essays. Even though he was fine with reading anything with words, books with fresh ideas were still more interesting to him.
Latreille’s adjutant Germain seemed to think that such entertainment works are of no value to the Empire, so Latreille probably also didn’t read them.
There weren’t any books on the shelves of his reading room that Regis liked.
—— Well, if the Prince that is most likely to be the next Emperor had books like ‘Tales of the antagonists’ on his book shelf, it would make me uneasy. It is a story where girls are locked into boxes labelled ‘food’.
It made his hair stood on ends.
“Well… leaving aside where my knowledge came from, I have a proposal that could be considered a plan.”
“Yes, then explain the details after everybody is here.”
Was it time for the others to come?
Latreille smiled awkwardly.
“Fu… As expected, Sir Regis is different from the others.”
“The things I do know are widespread knowledge.”
“No, not about strategy. As the Field Marshal and prince, I excel in swordsmanship too. There are many who follow my will, but few who object my view.”
“Eh? Did I say anything rude?”
“Fufu… Just now, when I said ‘treat the citizens of a fallen city as though they are dead’, didn’t you say ‘That should be after we tried rescuing them’?”
Regis was frightened.
That was indeed a rude remark.
“I know that you are very competent. However, I wonder why Argentina forgives your insolence and disrespect to etiquettes… Or at least, that’s what I used to think. But after speaking with you, I am starting to understand.”
Regis didn’t understand if he was being lectured or praised, and could only nod vaguely.
If this was about etiquettes, it would undoubtedly be a criticism.
However, Latreille was smiling peacefully, an expression Regis had never seen before.
“After I got into my current position, I had never been lectured like this.”
“Ah, well things like lecturing…”
“Yes, Sir Regis is right. Giving up because it is too difficult can be rightfully criticized to be laziness. Thank you for your admonition.”
“Yes, but if we lost, then the decision to not push ourselves would be the right decision—— That’s how it would be…”
Latreille shook his head.
“The commander cannot explore all possibilities. Nevertheless, I drew my conclusion too hastily. I will change my habit of making crude decisions.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
The water inside the pool of the courtyard flowed from the river. As it was an ever flowing body of water, the air turned a bit cold.
On the balcony of the courtyard opposite it, a roof was erected to block out the sun. Lounge chairs tilted at a slight angle were placed here.
A net was drawn up, which had great air circulation.
It was a place that could let others forgot about the heat in July.
The woman lying on the chair in a silk dress was eating fruits.
“Fufu… As expected, the fortresses in Belgaria are nice.”
She was the Queen of High Britannia, Margaret Steelart.
Besides her was a maid holding a wine glass. She was a servant from the captured Belgarians.
There were those holding wine bottles, fruits, and people who would serve Margaret at her leisure. All of them were waiting at the side.
The only man in this place was standing at the entrance of the balcony, a fair distance from the chair.
He wore a white uniform, with a long and thin single edged sword hanging on his waist.
That was Colonel Oswald Coulthard, who served as the strategist.
“My glorious Queen Margaret, it is wonderful that Grebauvar City pleases you.”
“Ehh, I thought I would be at the Le Brane palace by this time. But I ended up in this city deep in the mountains to the north, how hilarious. I’m not satisfied. My wishes didn’t come true. The only thing I like about this city is that it doesn’t please me at all alright?”
“... My deep apologies. It’s all because of my incompetence.”
Oswald bowed deeply.
The High Britannia Army pushed all the way to the Imperial Capital Versailles.
However, the supply unit that should be coming was missing, and a report that the unit had been decimated took its place instead. And the Fourth Army seemed to be approaching from behind.
Oswald felt this would be a death sentence in a metaphorical way, and proposed retreat.
And Queen Margaret burst out in laughter in a manner Oswald had never seen before, celebrating this event like a child.
She was treating the war as entertainment to kill time.
Be it the prosperity of High Britannia, the extravagance of the Belgarian buildings or treasures, all these didn’t matter to her. She was bestowed with status, beauty and capability… With all that in her possession, she had grown tired of living, which was only boredom and annoyance to her.
Margaret squirmed her body on the chair.
The dress slid off, revealing one of her pale white thighs.
“Hah… The Belgarians aren’t here yet? Isn’t this vacation a little too long?”
“The enemy unit made camp about 3 miles away this afternoon. Our reports state that there were just 20,000 troops, but they brought a lot of pioneers with them. They are probably planning something before attacking us.”
“Fufufu… I’m looking forward to it.”
“I don’t think anything that would worry the great Queen Margaret will happen. Please be at ease.”
“I’m bored to death.”
“Well then, I will summon the orchestra.”
“I heard them hundreds of time.”
“Then the valuable wine…”
“They aren’t that great. They’re delicious, but dull things.”
“Let the captives duel to the death…”
“I don’t care which of them dies.”
“Then, allow me to duel with them.”
“That’s boring too. No matter who your opponent is, you will first have a difficult time, and emerge victorious in the end.”
“... I am very sorry.”
At this moment, the door leading to the main building was barged open.
A young and strong voice echoed:
“Ohh! So there you are, Margaret!”
It was in Germanian.
The one entering was a soldier wearing a tidy uniform—— The new king of Langobalt Kingdom, Paul Langschultz. About 25 years of age, he looked competent, but young.
He acted as if he knew everything in this world, and would sprout philosophical views occasionally. But he didn’t have the knowledge of the elderly. Which meant that he didn’t know about being old.
He was a very disciplined man, combing all his hair back and wearing his uniform neatly in a textbook fashion. There were a lot of medals on his chest.
The correct stride and the correct tone of speech, he did everything by the book. In the Germanian Federation, the ways to wash your face, use a fork and wield a knife were all recorded in books. And he was a man who would put all the things written in the textbook into practice.
However, even the Germanian Federation didn’t have a manual about interest in women—— Paul liked Margaret very much.
Ever since he proposed to her the first time they met, he had been persisting in doing so all this while.
“Look! I found a strange dress in the city! You like queer things right? Please enjoy yourself.”
“Ara, is that so… But the strangest thing of all is you, Paul.”
Margaret replied in fluent Germanian, and Paul squinted happily.
Oswald was still smiling lightly.
He bowed to the king of an allied nation respectfully.
However, his heart was filled with doubt.
If Oswald was to weigh whether Margaret’s words leaned towards compliment or sarcasm, it would probably be the latter.
He didn’t think the other party would be stupid enough to not understand that, Paul still seemed really pleased.
Indeed, he was strange.
“Oh, Margaret, you are as beautiful as ever. By the way, what do you think about the dress I gifted you yesterday? That was a really beautiful thing.”
“I don’t really like it, so I threw it away.”
“I see. It’s a boring thing, so throwing it away is the right decision.”
“Neh, the Belgarian Empire isn’t attacking yet? We even occupied a base, it would be boring if there isn’t any battle.”
Paul fell into deep thought.
Even though he was enamoured by Margaret, and would occasionally glance at Margaret’s revealed thigh despite keeping his back straight, his military capability wasn’t shoddy.
“Once summer is over, the other nations of the Germanian Federation will finish their war preparation. There are rumours that Estaburg Kingdom to the east is intending to declare war. Hispania might be half hearted, but when the northern and eastern frontlines start to heat up, they will join the fray too. As expected of these piranhas, snapping at the bait.”
Paul usually spoke in a sure tone. He was very confident that he was right. He wouldn’t say anything he was not certain about. Instead of making idle guesses, he would rather gather information and research—— That was the Germanian way of thinking.
Paul’s analysis was similar to how Oswald saw it.
As expected, this guy wasn’t incompetent.
Margaret looked at him reproachingly.
“I don’t care about the other countries. When will a bunch of people die? When will there be a mountain of corpses?”
“The Belgarian Empire has 50,000 pioneers——”
“I already heard that from Oswald.”
Paul looked displeased, and turned his eyes to Oswald.
Oswald lowered his head respectfully.
“... I apologize for overstepping my bounds, I already analyzed the situation on the Queen’s orders.”
“It’s fine, you are the strategist for High Britannia after all. There is no problem for you to report such matters to your commander-in-chief. But there is still no telling when the Belgarian Empire will strike.”
A concise answer.
“I’m bored to death.”
“It would be troublesome if you don’t become my queen.”
“Ara, but you see… Becoming the queen consort of a small nation is much duller than being a queen regent.”
Saying the term ‘small nation’ to an allied state all of a sudden made Oswald break out in cold sweat.
But Paul didn’t seem to mind.
“I don’t plan on being the king of a small nation forever. Recently St.Prussia is subjugating other countries under its control. They would definitely not leave us alone. I will use Grebauvar as the starting point to seize Belgaria’s territory. I will then conquer the neighbouring nations and destroy St.Prussia!”
“If you become king of the Germanian Federation, I will consider it.”
Paul nodded confidently.
“For the sake of my marriage with Margaret, first, I will make the Belgarian Army fall on their face. In that case, we should attack pre-emptively. The enemy numbers 20,000, we have 30,000, there is no reason we will lose.”
He was not speaking in jest.
For Langobalt, this was just a small part of his total forces. However, the 10,000 troops in Grebauvar were all the High Britannians had left.
They lost 20,000 men and the main battle fleet in this war.
And letting him use the High Britannian soldiers as if they were his was unacceptable.
“Pardon me for being blunt, but I must protest. The High Britannian forces are exhausted after the long campaign, and couldn’t match the pace of your Kingdom’s elite forces.”
Which mean that if Paul wanted to attack, he could only bring his own forces.
Paul pondered over it.
“Hmmm… You still need some time to recover huh.”
“The Imperial First Army here is flying the flag of Prince Latreille. The most elite group of the Empire. They have large cavalry forces, it would be disadvantageous to fight them on the plain.”
An atmosphere of being tired of battle hung over the soldiers. It was difficult to keep morale up.
Even though Paul look displeased that his proposal was rejected, he was no fool.
He changed the topic:
“Speaking of which, intel reported that a certain strategist joined the First Army… Do you know who he is? Someone by the name of Auric.”
“My agent emphasized that the strategist is renowned in the Empire. However, I have never heard of his name.”
“He is the strategist who took down Fort Volks.”
Paul opened his eyes with intrigue.
“Hoh. The report I received was that the Fourth Princess of Belgaria seized that impregnable fortress. Am I mistaken?”
“As the strategist of the Fourth Princess Marie Quatre Argentina de Belgaria, he proposed many strategies. From taking down Fort Volks to cutting off our supply lines… a very dangerous character.”
“Yes. Cutting off the supplies of an army is a rather common strategy.”
“It is as you say.”
Destroying a fleet of battleships with just sail ships, and creating fog… It made one wonder if he made a deal with the devil in exchange for his prowess.
But no matter what the explanation was, it was just a meaningless excuse after the battle was lost.
If only Prince Latreille was here, it was possible to do something by targeting his weak points. However, normal schemes won’t work against this strategist.
“Since there is a famous strategist, then giving them more time would be unwise.”
“If I may… I think that letting exhausted soldiers fight outside the fortress would be even worse. The structure of Grebauvar is a little unique, the defences of the city side is weaker. If they use siege weapons operated by the pioneers, they would probably target the southern city walls.”
“Even if they take down the city, there is still a wall as sturdy as the outside between the city and the fortress.”
“That might be so, but their priority would be saving the citizens. I heard that is the kind of person Sir Auric is.”
“Hmmm… Then what kind of man is that Second Prince?”
“... If he does not value the words of Sir Auric, he wouldn’t recruit him as a strategist in the first place. He must have acknowledged Sir Auric’s talent in earlier battles before recruiting him.”
Regis d’Auric was Argentina’s strategist and because Altina was an amateur in military affairs, she delegated command to him.
To loan out such an important strategist, did that mean she had no intention on fighting Prince Latreille anymore?
Or she realized that this battle would decide the fate of the Empire, and sent her strategist to aid?
There was intel that the Strategist Auric was in the First Army, but no report on the whereabouts of the Fourth Princess. It was unlikely since their banners weren’t seen… But maybe the Fourth Army was here as well.
If the Black Knight came as well, then fighting outside the fortress would be a terrible idea.
There was no way that Oswald would know the truth.
No matter how capable he was it would be hard to imagine that the reason was that—— In order to be exempted from the practical test, Regis is using this expedition as the replacement.
Even the dogs raised by Belgaria were strong —— That was the belief of the neighbouring states.
“If the city side gets taken, it would be easy to approach the wall from a blind spot, making defending difficult. In my opinion, the southern part of the steel production street which is the weakest part of Grebauvar City’s defence is the enemy’s target.”
“Are you certain?”
“This is just a speculation of the enemy’s plan, I can’t say for sure…”
“If that is so, I won’t dispatch my troops. Unlike going out to attack the enemy, how could I send them to a place that the enemy might not even attack!?”
“Understood. I will deploy High Britannia’s riflemen.”
“Leave the cannons in the fortress. If this place doesn’t fall, we will not lose.”
Why should he listen to the orders of King Langobalt with regards to the placement of High Britannia’s cannons?
Oswald wasn’t Paul’s subordinate.
He probably thought that Margaret would wed him, and was treating the High Britannia Army as his own things.
Despite that, it was just a problem of wording it.
Oswald’s original intention was to place the cannons on the fortress side, and he didn’t plan to keep all the High Britannia troops around Margaret.
No matter what kind of strategy it was, with the new model of rifles, they could handle any kind of siege weapons.
Or rather, the enemy prepared 50,000 pioneers, and probably won’t just use them on siege weapons.
He heard that Fort Volks fell because of a tunnel they dug.
But this place was near a river, so water would seep in if they tried digging one, so that was not feasible.
Another possible method was to build a fort to the south of Grebauvar.
For the Imperial army, they could withdraw the First Army after securing the frontlines.
Compared to taking down the fort, this method wouldn’t intimidate the other nations. But on the grand scale, this was enough to stop the other nations from thinking about invading Belgaria.
If the enemy used this strategy, then they would have to leave the fortress and attack them, just like what Paul said. If they didn’t fight they would lose the strategic value of the fort, which would be the same as defeat.
Depending on what the enemy did, they might have to resort to fighting on the open plains——
However, the enemy numbered just 20,000. No matter how highly the Imperial First Army’s soldiers evaluate themselves, this fact still remains.
Did the Empire have more reinforcements?
If that was so, it would be a race to see whether the nations of the Germanian Federation invaded first, or the Empire’s reinforcement reached earlier.
No matter what, now was the time to endure.
Uwah~ Margaret yawned.
Oswald felt his heart pound. If she orders an attack, the whole strategical plan would be moot.
However, she seemed to be tired of all these talks about military tactics, and made a shooing gesture.
“I sweated a lot. I want to take a bath, prepare one for me.”
Oswald sighed in relief.
He then chased Paul out respectfully, and let the maids prepare the bath.