The Battle to Liberate the Citizens of Grebauvar City
Editor: Darkdhaos, Seir K, CEObrainz
Imperial Year 851 July 20th——
It had been half a month since Regis left the capital for the expedition.
Even though camping outside was inconvenient, it was normal to spend two to three months when attacking a fortress. It wouldn’t be strange if it dragged on for half a year.
The soldiers didn’t complain too much.
However, they couldn’t afford to use six months on the recapture operation.
That was the reason why Latreille was leading the campaign personally and committed the elites of the Imperial First Army.
It would be hard to tell how the other nations would act after three months.
Be it the Germanian Federation, Langobalt Kingdom or the Hispania Empire to the southwest, they all had the possibility of invading.
A long campaign required extensive preparation. They would need to procure weapons and food, then inspect the routes and employ a large number of labourers to ferry the goods.
Even though the Belgarian Empire was fighting a tough war, these nations probably couldn’t attack immediately.
They would need to scheme and plan their invasion. If the place they were attacking coincides, that would require a further round of discussion…
High Britannia had already conspired with some nations of the Germanian Federation. That’s why Varden Grand Duchy attacked Fort Volks at the very start of the war.
And now, they were combining their forces with Langobalt Kingdom.
The other states were still observing the situation. If August passes and they still couldn’t take the fort before September, the other countries would probably invade—— Regis speculated.
He had no intention to spend that much time, which would lead to such a fate.
The heat in the day dissipated, and the temperature was now more pleasant. The sun setting in the west dyed the sky in orange yellow.
The shadows of the mountains grew longer, darkening the western half of Grebauvar City.
The sun would completely set soon.
Regis was surrounded by tough soldiers.
No matter where he looked, he could see soldiers in armour holding pikes and shields, waiting for the order to advance.
The infantry was at the center of the formation, flanked on both sides by cavalry.
Right now, Regis was at the middle of the infantry group, where the headquarters were. The officers around him were all in full plate armour and riding horses.
Regis couldn’t ride, so he could only walk. After much persuasion and pleading, he didn’t have to wear armour, but on his waist was a long sword he had not worn for a very long time. To be honest, it was really bothersome.
In the Fourth Army, he could ride a carriage or ride with Altina on the same horse… And of course, he couldn’t enjoy such special privileges here.
Instead of the success of the plan, he was more worried about keeping up with the march.
It was time.
Bugles signalled for silence.
And the place quieted down.
Latreille appeared on horseback behind the 20,000 troops, and in front of the pioneers. He then shouted:
“Soldiers of the Belgarian Empire! The enemy is the despicable High Britannians and the Langobalt Kingdom that dared step into our lands in the midst of our war! Those bastards conned the soldiers in the fortress, and took the city with underhanded means! We have to deliver retribution like thunderous lightning onto these arrogant fools who recklessly invaded the sovereign land of the Empire with cheap tricks! Elites of the Imperial First Army, justice is on our side!”
Hooraa! The army responded with an intimidating roar.
They thrust their pikes into the air, and yelled “Long live Prince Latreille! Vive l'empire!”
Latreille drew his sword.
It was the Emperor’s sword ‘Arme Victoire Volonte’. Legends say the long single edged sword could bring victory to an army.
He sliced through the air.
And pointed it towards Grebauvar fortress city.
“Avance de l'armée!!!”
In order to convey Latreille’s orders, the bugles sounded.
The unit advanced orderly.
Regis started walking too.
The speed matched the pace of the infantry.
Despite that, Regis had to do everything he could to keep up.
Even though the infantry wore steel armour, held long pikes in their right hand and large shield in their left, and had to match the strides of people around them, they could still maintain a certain speed.
Regis had to run to keep up.
His breathing turned ragged in no time.
His legs were trembling.
I’m going to die.
Maybe the first one to die in this war will be me. Death from falling down—— That would be awful.
Even though he was keeping pace with the bugles, the rhythm was getting faster.
It was almost as fast as a sprint.
What is happening. It was still 60Ar (4287m) from the fortress.
According to the battle plans, they should advance to 40Ar (2858m), and only the front half of the infantry would continue moving forward. As the enemy might sent out an intercepting unit, the cavalry at the flanks readied themselves for a charge.
“C-Could it be… W-We are charging…?”
Regis wondered if he got it wrong, and was thinking whether he wandered into the infantry at the front half of the formation.
He could see the figure of Prince Latreille on his white horse so that shouldn’t be so. Did the plan change to the entire army charging without Regis knowing about it, he wondered.
Gradually, he fell behind and the infantry behind the headquarters caught up with him.
A heavily armoured soldier with a helmet on his head asked baffedly:
“What’s the matter, Sir Strategist!?”
Before the battle started, Regis was introduced as ‘the strategist seconded from the Fourth Army, the tactician who took down Fort Volks with just 2000 men’. Story about his battles with High Britannia had already spread far and wide.
However, Regis’ breathing was ragged now, and instead of a strategist, he looked more like a patient who was about to keel over.
That’s what would happen if someone who only reads and seldom walks was suddenly thrown into a march.
“Hah… Hah… Erm… I need to… catch my breath…”
Regis was panting painfully with a hand on his chest.
He was at his limits.
But he would be stampeded by the soldiers behind if he stopped. After they marched over him, Regis would be flattened like a carpet.
He wanted to puke.
His shoulders were grabbed.
It was the helmeted soldier.
“Hey! Let the carriage fetch you! Sir Strategist appears to be ill!”
The armoured footmen besides him nodded.
“Yes! He only walked for a bit, and his face is turning green!”
“His breathing is ragged, is it pneumonia? Hey, hurry!”
To them, this was just a brisk walk, and they could still move and talk at the same time.
As expected of the elites gathered by the First Army. Or maybe, Regis was just too weak.
In order to ferry any casualties fast, a two horse carriage followed behind the headquarters.
Regis was brought there.
The wooden platform was covered in pelt, but even so, Regis could see stars dancing after his head hit the deck.
The doctor on the carriage looked at Regis hurriedly. He was short and fat, which was rare among Belgarians.
“Are you okay, Sir Strategist!?”
“Hah… Hah… It’s been really long since I last ran this fast.”
“Hmm? Run where?”
The doctor tilted his head.
And so, Regis became the first casualty in the battle to save the citizens of Grebauvar City.
Latreille spoke loudly:
“Rear guards, halt. Vanguards, continue advancing!”
About 40Ar (2858m) away from Grebauvar, half of the unit stopped, and only the vanguards continued.
Regis who had recovered mostly left the cargo platform of the medical carriage and started observing the battle. This was a covered carriage drawn by two horses, and he would have the same field of vision as if he was riding a horse by getting onto the driver’s seat.
“The enemy… is not coming out?”
“Sir Strategist? Are you feeling better?”
It was shameful, but Regis responded to the doctor honestly.
“I’m fine now. I just couldn’t keep up with the march. I didn’t expect the pace of the First Army’s infantry to be so fast.”
“I see… The important thing is that you are not ill.”
He said very doctor-like words kindly.
Altina would ask him to ride with her in such a situation. Jerome would lecture him: “You call yourself an Imperial soldier!? You scum!”
Regis remembered about supporting the eastern front, and wondered if Jerome was fine.
It must be hard for him to go to unfamiliar grounds. Or rather, he would make others feel it was hard.
Regis considered not just writing letters to Altina, but to the east too. Jerome probably won’t reply.
Boom! The sound of a cannon rang out.
White smoke erupted from the fortress part of Grebauvar.
The advancing infantry of the First Army also brought cannons, but it was too still too far away.
The Belgaria Empire captured some cannons from High Britannia some days ago. Which were 41 Elswick cannons, with a range of 45Ar (3216m).
However, there were limited munitions, and the artillery troops were not familiar with breech loaded cannons. Therefore, they brought along their old mid range cannons. Its range was 28Ar (2000m).
As the enemy was firing from the top of the city walls, their range was even further. If the Belgarians want to exchange fire, they would need to advance under the bombardment to close the distance.
Despite that, there wasn’t heavy casualty like the defeat during the battle of Lafressange hill.
The infantry spread out in their advance, minimizing the impact of the bombardment.
They learned from the Seventh Army that a tight formation was undesirable and would lead to huge losses.
The Imperial Army weren’t retarded. They had studied and trained extensively in anti bombardment measures.
The First Army infantry advanced in a scattered formation. If the enemy formed up to defend the assault, then the imperials would also gather —— They learned such a tactic.
In the Fourth Army led by Altina, no one but Regis would have thought of such a strategy.
However, the First Army have strategist like Germain who was known as a brilliant tactician. After they reviewed the strategy of the Seventh Army in their loss, they came up with this plan.
Because of their excellence, Regis spent most of the time during conferences just listening in.
The commander of the artillery unit issued his order.
“Ready the cannons!”
The Belgarians had closed in sufficiently. With thundering cannon shots, they scored direct hits on the walls of Grebauvar.
Grey smog lingered in the air.
The stone walls turned into debris, the High Britannian soldiers fell from the impact.
Compared to shots hitting the ground, the ones that hit the stone walls were much more damaging to the surrounding.
The stone fragments flew at the troops nearby.
The enemy had the advantage in both range and power, and also had the high ground. Although Regis thought his side was very disadvantaged——
But the facts weren’t so. Shots from the Belgarian army were actually destroying the cannons of High Britannia.
There wasn’t any secret behind this, it was purely the difference in abilities between the artillery soldiers.
The High Britannian troops were adequately trained, but the Imperial artillery unit handpicked from the Imperial Army of 200,000 were in a whole other league.
The made up for the difference in specs with their own ability.
Regis was awed by the scene he saw from the driver’s seat.
—— The difference in ability of the artillery units was that wide!
His opponents were barbarians when Regis worked in Marquis Thénezay’s army, the cannons were just for intimidation back then. The Fourth Army, or rather, the Beilschmidt Border Regiment focus on pikes and swords, so their artillery wasn’t well trained.
There was a huge gulf between trained and untrained archers, so Regis knew that artillery and riflemen would be affected by training too. But he never imagined it to be so pronounced.
He could visibly tell that the attacks of the enemy were weakening.
Their foe also realized that, and turned their cannons to retaliate.
—— It’s about time.
Regis literally rolled off the carriage.
He passed by some of the injured that was carried back from the frontlines. He couldn’t get used to it no matter how many times he saw it.
The sight of soldiers bleeding and losing their limbs sapped Regis’ strength away.
But Regis pulled himself together and started running.
Making his way through the troops on standby, he returned to Latreille who was stationed at the headquarters. The distance wasn’t that far that he would fall along the way.
“Yes… Regis huh. I didn’t see you, and was wondering what happened.”
“I’m sorry. Well… I couldn’t keep up with the speed of the advance… so I got onto the medical carriage.”
“During the advance…?”
Latreille tilted his head.
Germain who was beside them asked:
“Are you feeling alright? Did you get hit by a ricochet?”
They definitely didn’t understand that there were people who simply couldn’t keep up with the march.
“Erm… Well, not feeling well… something like that… A-Anyway! This is a good chance!”
Regis pointed to the enemy formation.
“Hmm, that is right. The enemy’s cannons are targeting our artillery. Alright, Germain, order the siege weapons to advance!”
The command was issued.
Bugles played out another tune.
A part of the infantry standing by at the back began their advance.
They were not soldiers within the pioneer division, but refugees of the war.
However, the men of the Empire had the confidence that they were the strongest in the continent. On top of that, they were fueled by the rage of the High Britannians destroying their homes and farmlands. That’s why they were willing to follow the army.
The men shouted as they pushed the siege weapons.
On the gigantic shelf structure were a mechanism made out of spring and wood.
It was a catapult.
Something that was used before cannons were invented, a weapon from the last era.
The mechanism used the power of the loaded spring to launch rocks, and was weak when compared to cannons. The rocks might be heavy, but were still light when compared to cannonballs.
And the sizes of the rocks weren’t uniform, so the accuracy was low.
The weapon was rather ineffective.
Maybe the High Britannians were pointing at this ancient weapon and laughing.
The command was issued.
The six catapults approached the designated distance, and took aim at the steel production street.
They were some distance away from the fort, so they won’t be hit by rifle and cannon fire that easily.
If they captured the city area of Grebauvar, it would give the attackers a big advantage.
At this moment, the High Britannians started bombarding the catapult.
A crisp sound echoed out.
One of the catapults collapsed. Its foundation was hit, the wheel flew off and it fell. The pioneers pushing it ran away shrieking.
The sun was about to set.
Although the sky was completely red, the ground was turning dim.
The heat from cannon fire set the catapult ablaze, illuminating the surrounding. The figures of the scattering soldiers were revealed.
The Belgarian artillery focused their firepower on the enemy cannons.
The High Britannians also retaliated. It turned into a heated shootout between artillery once again.
In the end, the five remaining catapult was disregarded by the enemy.
As Regis planned—— The ancient catapult won’t attract enemy fire. Their focus would shift to the Belgarian cannons that were a bigger threat.
Highly trained soldiers operated the catapult.
They released the catches upon orders.
The loaded spring expanded, and a wooden arm that was longer than a carriage moved. It launched the rocks placed at its very tip.
These rocks were tied to ropes.
The ropes that were placed away from the wooden arm gradually extended and turn taut.
Just like the shrouds on sailing ships, the ropes were intertwined. And because of the heavier weight, its range was shorter…
But it managed to go over the walls.
Going over the vast river, the ropes hung onto the wall.
It was going just as planned.
The pioneers cheered.
The infantry that was spread out in their advance charged towards the bridges made of shrouds. They had been enduring the enemy’s fire one sidedly, and could finally turn on the offensive.
Roaring as if they had already won, they charged with pikes in hand.
Unlike bridges on the ground, they couldn’t run over the bridges made from ropes. If they miss a step, they will fall into the river.
That might be so, but many soldiers still ran over it.
Even though they practiced this many times before, it was impressive for them to run like this.
And it was dim now, making it harder to see their feet.
If the soldiers could storm the walls and open the gate, the cavalry would be able to charge in. They would then be able to at least take the steel production street.
Germain who was watching from a distance nodded.
“Your Highness, our soldiers are scaling the walls with the shroud bridges! If this carries on, we might be able to take the gate!”
“Hmm… What about the enemies’ movement?”
“They are preparing to engage… But the cannons and rifles could only cut a couple of ropes, it won’t be a problem!”
“Is that so.”
Regis felt something was off about Latreille and Germain’s conversation.
Should he say something…
Instead of that, the reaction of the High Britannian army was more important.
—— How would they handle this.
The unassuming ancient catapults actually made a bridge of shrouds. The cannons and rifles might be able to damage the shroud, but it would be difficult to break it.
One by one, the soldiers crossed the bridge and prepared to leap over the walls.
If they could make it in, it would just be a matter of them before they secure the gate.
In close quarters combat, the Belgarians would never lose to the High Britannians.
It was already night.
Under the dim night sky, the soldiers of the Imperial First Army finally scaled the walls of Grebauvar.
They took out most of the enemy on the walls with muskets and bows, but there were still some left.
The enemy raised their rifles.
The soldiers thrust their pikes.
The tip of the pike was aimed at the heart of the High Britannian soldier. And pierced it!
Blood soaked the city walls.
After spitting out red black blood, the enemy fell.
With a fierce cry the Belgarian soldiers stood tall on the city walls.
After several rifle reports, several bloody holes appeared on the Belgarian pikeman’s armour.
Looking down into the steel production street from the city walls, they could see several thousand riflemen waiting for them.
The commander raised one hand.
The ordered was given in High Britannian tongue.
Gunshots rang out again, and more soldiers who scaled the wall collapsed.
There were some who jumped onto the streets from the wall.
It won’t end well if someone wearing armour leap off from high ground.
When they hit solid ground, their knees made cracking sound.
“Uwah!! Ughh, guu…!?”
“It’s the Belgarian army!”
At the foot of the walls were several High Britannians waiting with pikes in hand.
All the Belgarians who jumped couldn’t stand up.
“D-Don’t… surrender! I surrender!”
Countless pikes stabbed at them.
Germain who was watching from afar cried:
“Your Highness! The troops on the walls are getting shot from inside the city! The enemy must have deployed a large number of troops on the steel production street!”
“That is so…”
Latreille turned and look at Regis.
—— What should we do?
He asked with his gaze.
Regis took out his pocket watch.
It was already dark. He focused and managed to see the time.
Was still too early.
However, they were taking significant losses. If it gets completely dark, even if they issue the orders to retreat, the soldiers who crossed the rope bridges would probably be unable to withdraw.
Cold sweat broke out on Regis’ back.
It wasn’t too late to order the retreat now.
But that would render all these sacrifices meaningless.
“... Please, just a bit more.”
“Damn it… How many more minutes!? The infantry is getting wiped out!?”
Germain yelled hysterically.
In reality, there was a limit to the number of people who could cross the rope bridge. They wouldn’t be wiped out, but if they sound the retreat too late, several thousand men would lose their lives.
Regis stared at his pocket watch.
His knees were trembling.
Was the watch malfunctioning? The time passed so slow that such a thought occurred to him.
He raised his head suddenly, and found himself alone, surrounded by corpses—— Regis saw this illusion for an instant.
The hands of the pocket watch finally reached the predetermined time.
Latreille wasted no time in his orders, and Germain yelled at the top of his lungs.
—— Retreat! Retreat! Retreat!
The soldiers ran down the shrouds from the walls. Those who fell into the river were beyond saving as they were wearing armour.
A victorious roar erupted from Grebauvar City.
The Imperial First Army dragged their feet as they put some distance between them and the fort.
“... We lost this battle.”
In the darkness, the groans of the wounded sounded like a curse.
On the table in the middle of the tent was a large oil lamp.
Latreille and his staff were gathered around the light.
Everyone looked tired and anxious.
One knight said with a sigh.
“This is just an estimate… I think we lost about 2000 men. In exchange, we took out 30 enemy cannons.”
The enemy had more than a 100 cannons.
It wasn’t clear how many cannons they brought here, but this was very poor results.
“... The battle plan… failed.”
Another knight said with a groan.
A dozen of the staff stared at the end of the table.
Regis was standing right at the very back, a step behind the group around the table.
His back started shivering.
“... I am sorry.”
That was all he could say.
A knight shouted loudly:
“You think apologizing is enough!? Isn’t the enemy supposed to be deployed at the fortress side!?”
Regis couldn’t say anything.
An elderly knight admonished him:
“Cool your head. You are in the presence of His Highness.”
Which meant to say, if Latreille wasn’t here, the elderly knight would have something to say too.
That was natural.
They lost a lot of their subordinates.
After the staff quieted down, Latreille asked:
“Sir Regis, do you have anything to say about our undeniable losses?”
“W-Well… Having less losses would be better…”
“Hmm. My approach isn’t right. Are the losses outside of your expectations?”
Regis turned pale.
This question was hard to answer.
But he couldn’t lie.
“... It is within my expectation.”
What!? A knight yelled and stood up, but the people around him grabbed him by the shoulders and sit him down.
He was on the verge of drawing his sword from anger.
Germain coughed twice.
“I can understand your bloodlust from losing your men. But what we need to do now is to make sure that their sacrifices are not in vain, and win this war. I hope you can calm down and participate in this conference.”
The young knight took a deep breath.
“Hmmp! I get it! But I can’t pretend I didn’t hear that! That guy said he expected losses. Which means to say he already predicted that the riflemen would be deployed at the steel production street right?”
Regis was showered by the gaze of the staff officers once again.
He couldn’t answer.
He didn’t want to find excuses, but saying ‘I predicted it’ would agitate the other party. What Regis wanted was a rational discussion.
“I don’t think Regis would propose a plan even after predicting that the lives of the soldiers would be lost meaninglessly… But such a misunderstanding might arise without a proper explanation. As the commander, I would like to dispel the sense of mistrust among my staff officers.”
His opinion was appropriate.
Regis should share his thoughts.
However, Regis felt uneasy. He was unconfident like usual, and found it hard to even articulate his words.
If he laid his thoughts bare, would it just earn more ire from others? What if they couldn’t understand despite his explanation?
When he was the strategist for Altina, the people around him seldom ask for explanations.
Even if he ordered the cannons to fire at the fortress despite being out of range, the artillery commander did not dispute his orders. Like the time he asked for oil to be spilled near the Imperial Capital, and when he made the unit spent the entire night spilling water from the lake…
Altina, Jerome and the commanders of the units all carried out Regis’ plan faithfully.
—— No, if he explained, they would definitely understand.
Maybe it was troublesome to listen to the details.
Maybe Regis had yet to earn the trust of the Imperial First Army, so he was requested to explain himself, it was just that simple.
He took a deep breath.
The ones gathered here were the very elites of the Imperial Army.
If it was Regis from a year ago, he would probably not be given the chance to speak. He became nervous thinking about that, but since that was the case, they will definitely understand if he explained —— He said to himself.
“... My prediction… is that the enemy would deploy their main forces on the fortress side. I guessed right, since that is only natural. The problem is… How large a force did they deploy at the steel production street. And how they are positioned. If the enemy are on the walls, we will be able to grasp their numbers. But they weren’t there, the riflemen were formed up behind that. As if the enemy knew our plans.”
Latreille’s expression turned gloomy.
Germaine tilted his head.
“... Sir Regis, are you suspecting that we have a spy among us?”
Tch, the staff officers looked at each other.
A middle aged knight yelled this time.
“Are you questioning our loyalty!?”
Regis took a step backwards and shook his head.
“No no… Not at all. Setting the steel production street as the objective was done this morning. Even though I thought about making that place the top priority after hearing that the citizens are held there… But I proposed this and the orders were only issued this morning.”
They all remembered the war conference.
Latreille remained silent.
Germain nodded as if he was representing the staff officers.
“It is as Sir Regis said. We set off right after the plans were laid out.”
“Yes. We started preparing the troops and the entire army set off right after the war conference… In such a short time, it should be impossible to relay the information to the enemy that sealed themselves off in the fortress. Also, a letter would be needed to convey the details about us using a modified catapult. There is no other way other than sending a messenger to make a trip.”
“If such a person appeared on that battlefield, he would be very prominent.”
“Impossible. Worrying about impossible things is just retarded. We should focus on clear and present dangers… for example, something more horrifying than this.”
“... Our schemes being seen through, that’s what I think. It is probably the de facto commander Oswald Coulthard who saw it. He probably predicted that I would propose the strategy of using siege weapon to build a shrouds bridge.”
“So the reason the plan failed is because Sir Regis was seen through by the enemy—— Is that it?”
Are you going to take responsibility for the plan’s failure, he was asking Regis.
It would turn out like this.
Regis didn’t have the ambition to make it big or a big ego, but he was afraid of punishment. This probably won’t be settled just by being exiled.
But he had to accept the facts.
“... There is no doubt that the plan failed because the enemy saw through our strategy… The High Britannians thought of a tactic that perfectly countered my strategy. Normally, the defenders would line up along the walls and shoot at the ground. However, the riflemen were positioned behind the wall, in great numbers.”
There was no way to refute it.
The strategic intent of the Imperials and the results were clear to all.
Latreille changed the topic.
“There are no doubts about the current situation. Sir Regis mentioned you expected such losses right? Did you predict your strategy would be seen through?”
“... I think there is a possibility of that. The enemy would know we have prepared catapults by scouting us.
“We hid the shrouds carefully…”
“They might have guessed by thinking from our perspective.”
Regis’ strategy was just things written in widespread books. Not something new. Since the enemy commander was knowledgeable, he might be able to notice.
“Hmm… Seems like our adversary is really strong.”
Unexpectedly, no one was blaming Regis.
Anxiety and uneasiness were spreading among the staff officers.
“... Just who is this Oswald character?”
Speaking of which, the First Army also suffered heavy losses at Fort Bonaire because they fell for his trick.
Fear of the enemy surged up again. Instead of the new model rifles and cannons, their cleverness was the thing that were frightening —— That’s how the atmosphere changed.
The young knight rapped the table angrily.
“We! Aren’t we the strongest Belgarian Imperial Army!? Why can’t we win!? Failing at defending the fortress, now we failed to attack a fortress! Not just rifles, are we losing in wits too!?”
“Get a hold of yourself, you are in the presence of His Highness.”
“Ughh… That’s why! Don’t you feel pitiful!”
“Uuu, that’s true…”
The middle aged knight admonishing him couldn’t say anything.
The other knights also asked:
“Sir Strategist! Can you think of a plan!? Or are there no other way!?”
“Well… That’s all the strategy I can use…”
He took out a pocket watch from his uniform.
—— It should be about time.
“Report! A report!”
A soldier outside the tent shouted.
Regis who was at the end of the table looked at Latreille. Latreille didn’t react, but Germain answered “Enter”.
The messenger pulled open the drape at the entrance of the tent and entered.
Kneeling on one knee, he proffered a wooden sword.
Regis who was at the end of the table took it.
“Where is this from?”
“As instructed by the strategist, the pioneers opened a net downstream of the river, and got fished this out!”
“Is that so… That’s great…”
The staff officers around him all looked at the item in Regis’ hand.
“Just a wooden sword?”
The young knight asked baffedly.
At a glance, it was just a simple wooden sword.
Regis pointed at the word carved on the hilt of the sword.
Having accomplished the objective—— It has such a meaning.
It’s a wooden sword, so as a toy given to a boy by his parents, auspicious words would be carved on it, which was an acceptable explanation.
“Even if this thing is floating in the river, no one would treat this as a mean of relaying information right?”
“Hmm? Is this some sort of message?”
“Yes. The officer I despatched to the steel production street will throw this into the river if his infiltration is a success.”
“Everyone should know him… He is a soldier who excels even in the First Army, and was knighted as a Chevalier, Third Grade Combat Officer Jean Ulysse de Vallis.”
“Ohh, that guy!”
The young knight nodded.
When asking for suitable candidates, aside from the staff officers, the one with the best results in sprinting, swordsmanship and academics was Vallis.
He was a bright youth of just 17.
The middle aged knight rubbed his chin.
“Ku, which is to say… That Vallis infiltrated into a part of the steel production street?”
“This was a plan I prepared in case the shrouds bridge fail.”
“This is… shocking. When did he sneak in…?”
“When the attention of the enemy was all focused on the Imperial soldiers attempting to scale the walls. The best outcome would be the shrouds strategy to work and the gate is secured. However, considering the possibility of failure, I despatched a soldier to sneak in beforehand. As the wind here is strong, I thought about passing the message from the sky… But it is too prominent, and there is a chance the plan would be leaked to the enemy…”
There were other plans, such as meddling with the cannons, using birds, utilizing musical instruments—— There were numerous ways in the world of stories on methods to relay information to your allies.
However, there was nothing more reliable than delivering it in person. And the plan succeeded, so Regis was relieved.
The expression on the young knight’s face softened.
“Then the battle today wasn’t meaningless… We couldn’t seize the gates… But we still carried out a good feint attack. Isn’t that right?”
“Fuu… Is that so… Our dead comrades can rest in peace. But Sir Strategist and Sir Germain are too nasty. If you are going to execute such a plan, you should just tell us.”
Germain lowered his head.
“My apologies. Using this plan would mean the shrouds bridge strategy would fail, that’s why…”
The young knight understood.
“Indeed! In a battle you are betting your life on, if we tell them that ‘we prepared another strategy in case this plan fails’, our men would wonder why they are risking their lives. Such half hearted attitude would result in them failing in a plan they will usually succeed at, and would not achieve the effect of a feint!”
“That is so.”
“... I’m glad that you can understand.”
Regis nodded too.
There was another reason he couldn’t say.
The infiltration plan might not work.
There was a possibility that the battle today was in vain.
And it wasn’t over yet. There was an even more difficult mission waiting for Third Grade Combat Officer Vallis who had infiltrated.
The middle aged knight asked:
“Grebauvar’s citizens’ weapons must have been confiscated, and they are probably locked in one of the zones. Can Vallis save them alone?”
“Of course, because the citizens can’t escape by their own power——”
Regis explained the crucial points as he tried to hide the information.
For this plan, even if there were spies, he couldn’t allow the time for the spies to act.
However, he couldn’t rule out that there isn’t any spy.
It was prudent to be careful.
In order to not let the staff officers know that he was wary about them, it was important to choose his words wisely.
Final Chapter: Vallis
The Belgarian Imperial Army modified a catapult and made a bridge out of shrouds.
With the sun setting behind the mountain, the surroundings were dark.
Even though the soldiers of the First Army couldn’t see your feet, they still ran up the shrouds swiftly, and finally scaled to the top of the wall.
The riflemen of High Britannia received the orders to fire.
Countless gunshot echoed out.
The Belgarians standing at the top of the walls fell one after another. Blood splattered and even for those who leapt off the walls, the fate of being turned into a pincushion by pikemen awaited them.
They were completely suppressed by the enemy.
But this was the first time the High Britannians were experiencing this.
Belgarian soldiers were the strongest in the continent.
They possessed the newest model of rifle and could several more times the damage to the enemy. They had already killed thousands on their long journey here.
But if the Belgarians scale over the wall and open the gates, the Belgarian cavalry would poured in.
There were less than 5000 men deployed in the steel production street.
While the Imperial First Army had 3000 cavalry. There was no way they could win.
During the battle of Lafressange, they failed to stop the 500 cavalry that attacked from behind them, and cut right through their formation.
When they fought the cavalry at Fort Bonaire, their only engagement was a retreat. Even though it was a feint and the plan was to trick them into taking the barrels of gunpowder with people hidden inside, they would need to retreat even if that wasn’t the strategy.
Cavalries were strong.
And the horses of the Belgarian cavalry were especially large and well trained, known to be the strongest on the continent. And in the Empire, the First Army were the most elite.
High Britannia’s riflemen fired with all they had got in order to survive, killing the Imperial soldiers that scaled the walls one after the other.
Grebauvar city had countless intertwining waterways.
As steel production requires large amount of flowing water, there were more waterways here than the fortress and city center.
The structure included holes at the lower parts of the walls to allow the river water to flow in.
There wasn’t any steel grate to stop people from entering.
Because the steel in this era would rust quickly when soaked in water.
And things like sand, splinters, or dead fish would easily clog the grates.
That was why men on sentry would be stationed at the waterway holes, who would keep a close watch for anyone sneaking in by swimming through the holes.
However, the soldiers didn’t watch the waterway when Belgarian soldiers appeared on the city walls.
With the enemy that were after their lives appearing in their field of vision, there was no way they would stare at the place that doesn’t change every day.
If the Imperial soldiers scaled up the walls with the shrouds, the sentries wouldn’t be able to spare the effort to watch the drains. And Regis’ plan was to aim for such a moment to let the infiltrator sneak in.
Under the thin veil of darkness, in the drainage——
It was impressive for normal human to hold their breath for a minute and swim, but Jean Ulysse de Vallis could dive underwater for almost 10 minutes.
He used a heavy object to dive, and discarded it when he wanted to surface. His clothes were covered in oil so it wouldn’t absorb much water, so his body movement wasn’t too restricted.
He leapt into the river, swam to the castle wall, then dived through the hole, and swam into the city.
In the middle of the drain, Vallis’ head surfaced for an instant
But he still made breathing sound.
He took a breath and checked his surroundings for an instant, then dived again.
After analyzing what he saw in that moment, he was sure there wasn’t any enemy soldier in the surrounding.
He threw away the weights and flippers that allow him to move underwater.
Vallis surfaced again.
There were steps everywhere around the drain. They were used for the women to wash laundry and collect water for daily necessities.
Walking up those steps, Vallis climbed from the stone made drain onto the ground.
There was still constant gunfire coming from the east. Thanks to that, he didn’t have to worry about the noise of large amount of water dripping down from his uniform.
As it was a sneaking mission, so he was wearing a High Britannia uniform. He still couldn’t speak in perfect High Britannian accent, he was good enough to masquerade as someone from the rural areas.
He grabbed his short hair and shook off the water in them.
“... Infiltration completed.”
He muttered softly.
Vallis took out a wooden sword from his clothes and placed it onto the water. The word ‘success’ was carved on it.
This wasn’t the river, but the water was still flowing fast. It glided forth and was gone in no time.
There were many forks in the water, but the drainage was situated to the north of the steel production street, which flowed out into the river outside.
The drainage downstream also had the function of expelling sewage. It was constructed in a way that could push water and other things out of the city.
If it doesn’t get stuck by something in the river due to bad luck, the sword should be able to flow downstream.
Gunshots continued ringing out.
He could hear anguish cries and screams.
The High Britannians were repelling the Belgarian’s attack.
As there wasn’t any water proof watch, he didn’t know the time. But since the battle was still going on, he had completed the mission within the allocated time.
Or maybe the Belgarian Army had secured the gates, and his mission was now unnecessary?
No matter what, Vallis’ mission remained the same.
Until the citizens of Grebauvar was rescued——
He recalled the map of the area and confirmed his location.
First of all, he needed to check the possible places where the citizens might be held. According to intel, it should be somewhere to the north…
He walked along the path while keeping an eye on his surroundings.
The city was dark, not a single light was lit as if he was walking along the mountain path. He could only rely on the moonlight.
Even though most of the buildings here belonged to civilians, but no one seemed to be staying here.
The gunshots stopped.
But there wasn’t any sound of the gate opening.
Which meant the Belgarian army retreated without seizing the gate. The battle over there failed.
The burden on Vallis’ shoulders became heavier.
If he wasn’t careful and act swiftly…
After the sound of gunfire subsided, he could hear footsteps approaching immediately.
It stepped right before the bend.
A figure then appeared from the shadows of the building.
It was a woman!
With a bandana on her head, she was dressed like a girl working in the city. A sash was tied around the waist of her dress, and she wore a laced apron over it.
She was petite.
When he saw Vallis, her eyes and mouth opened wide from surprise.
Vallis pushed hard off the ground.
He covered her mouth with his left hand, and grabbed her throat with her right.
If she was an enemy soldier, Vallis would have broke her neck—— But this girl was probably the citizens he should be rescuing.
He pushed her onto the wall of the building.
“If you make any noise, I will kill you.”
“If you resist, I will kill you too. Same if you don’t answer me. Listen carefully to my question and answer.”
The eyes of the girl were filled with fear.
Her woven baskets fell to the ground. Baguettes, pears and wine bottles rolled out of it.
—— Just a peddler huh.
It was common to see the citizens trading with the enemy soldiers that occupied the city. Even in the territories occupied by Belgaria, there were many merchants from the former enemy state that make a living by selling goods to Imperial soldiers.
However, Vallis didn’t expect that there weren’t any pillaging.
The High Britannians were unexpectedly disciplined.
It’s probably because the liberation of the citizens could be used as a negotiation chip.
“Are you a Belgarian?”
“I am Third Grade Combat Officer Jean Ulysse de Vallis from the Imperial First Army, I am here to save you all. Do you understand?”
He felt that her eyes remain doubtful, but she still answered “Oui”.
“You might be a citizen, but I will kill you if you shout. Understand?”
Vallis released her hand.
But he pressed his hand on the short sword on his waist. If she made any noise, he would have to kill her.
Unlike the toy wooden sword he threw down the drain, this was a real short sword. It was sharp enough to spill blood with just a touch.
As he needed to dive under the weapon, it was the only weapon he could bring.
Vallis stared at her small head.
She was as delicate as a doll. If he swings his sword, it won’t just cut her throat, it would chop her entire head off.
Fortunately, the girl was smart. Even though she groaned earlier, she didn’t scream.
Vallis questioned her.
“Tell me. Where are the citizens held?”
“... Everyone is in the northern zone. We are all living in someone else’s house.”
Just like the intel said.
Even though there were escapees, the holding place remained the same.
“... There are some at the border of the zones.”
“I need accurate information.”
“On my way here, I saw four men. They were holding rifles.”
Four men huh.
Even if he defeated them by surprise, there would be a commotion if one shot goes off. If possible, he wanted to avoid battle.
“I want to meet the representative of the citizen. Is that possible?”
“Representative? The mayor? I think he is dead… So the big shot of the steel production guild would be the representative? Hmm…”
He now knew who the representatives of the citizens was, but wasn’t sure how to meet him.
“How did you leave the place where you are held?”
“To peddle. Although the merchandize are our items and clothes, there is no other way if we want to survive.”
She brushed her blonde hair and tidied her messy clothes.
Her body that looked as frail as a child and she seemed unsuitable for manual labour.
If her belongings were snatched, she wouldn’t be able to sell anything. She would probably need to earn money by working as a maid—— Vallis concluded.
However, this wasn’t the situation to question about her workplace.
He had to breakthrough the surveillance of the sentries and meet with the representatives of the citizens.
He considered asking the girl to pass the message…
But that was too dangerous.
He wasn’t sure if she was trustworthy.
She might sell Vallis out to the High Britannians for the sake of self interest.
There really were citizens who feared the enemy and sell out the allies who came to save them.
“Over there! What’s happening!?”
He could hear voices speaking High Britannian coming from afar.
Vallis’ back stiffened.
He turned back, and saw a soldier running on the road.
Was he alone?
As he was talking here, and the enemy was some distance away and small in numbers, that’s why he didn’t notice their footsteps...
It won’t be a problem if there was just one man.
He could ambush and kill him, then hide the body in the building here.
However, there were about 10 High Britannian soldiers behind him.
Vallis clicked his tongue in his heart.
—— Should I run?
But that would alert them. It would be hard to contact the citizens, and the chance of the plan working would drop drastically.
—— Should I kill them?
With 10 gun-toting enemies, it would be hard to win even if they don’t shoot.
“... Leave it to me.”
The girl before him said softly.
She took off her bandana, and let her blonde hair sway in the wind. She looked at the enemy with her green eyes.
“Ahh, Mr soldier, this person here don’t look well.”
She wiped Vallis’ face and hair with her bandana as she said that. Because she was shorter, she had to tiptoe to do that.
The High Britannian leader walking in front tilted his head.
“He don’t look well…?”
His accent was strong, but he could still speak Belgarian.
The soldiers around him didn’t understand what that meant, and looked at the duo suspiciously.
The girl shrugged.
“He seemed really disturbed after hearing gunshots. He then walked unsteadily and fell into the drainage there. Look, he is all wet.”
“Is he drunk!?”
“I think he drank a little? Even though he was escorting me, but he was not feeling well in the first place. Ah… Could it be, he is ill?”
The leader took one step back.
He then unknowingly said ‘is it a disease?’ in High Britannian, making the other soldiers back off fearfully.
The army had congregated in this dense and cramp place. And there were those drinking muddy water and eating rotting food. They seldom change clothes and the beds they slept in weren’t hygienic.
High Britannia had been on a campaign for more than a month, and lots of people had fallen ill from the physical and mental grind.
Among them were people who got infected with contagious diseases.
It was dangerous and they didn’t want to go near. If they fall sick in this land, they would probably lose their lives here.
Vallis also acted along with the girl.
Cough cough, he coughed.
“Oh, are you alright?”
“You there, which unit are you from!?”
“Ah… I am from… Hack! Cough! Cough!”
Vallis started coughing mid sentence.
He knew how to state what unit he belonged to via the interrogations of the High Britannians captured in the battle of Fort Bonaire.
However, he might be exposed as someone who didn’t belong if he was brought back to that unit.
And if he stated a random unit, there was a chance that the unit wasn’t deployed in this the steel production street. As most of the troops were assigned to the fortress, the chance of getting it wrong was higher. In the end, his lie would be exposed.
If possible, he didn’t want to state a unit.
The girl patted his back.
“Wait! You just vomited, don’t push yourself!”
The leader looked disgusted.
“Really? Just now?”
“Hey! Galian girl! Take him to the medics! We are busy with patrols. You know where it is?”
The leader pushed the sick person onto the girl.
Their acting was a success!
However, she made a show of being confused and unhappy.
“What is this? I told you I am going home right? Since he is a soldier, shouldn’t another soldier bring him?”
“I’m starting to feel hot, I want to go home soon.”
What amazing acting skills.
The soldiers showed faces of ‘I want to get out of here right now, and not deal with this’.
The leader made a gesture to shoo her away.
“You take that guy to the medics! He will bear the charges. Understand!?”
“Yes… Well, it would be great if he can shoulder the burden for some soft fruits. My sick mother is still waiting for me back home.”
“Do what you want!”
The leader was probably annoyed by all these talk about sick patients and bellowed, then issued orders to his men.
They then headed downstream.
Maybe the sentries discovered him surfacing for air when Vallis was swimming earlier.
No, if they really saw him, they would be more thorough with their search.
The feint attack of the strategist Regis d’Auric worked.
There were no problems.
To be safe, he continued acting until the High Britannian soldiers couldn’t see them.
“Cough, cough… Pardon me, little miss… Cough, cough!”
“Ara ara, are you alright?”
She supported him with her shoulder, and left that place.
They then went to a house with an open door, and hid themselves.
“Phew… we are saved.”
“Ahaha, fooling the arrogant soldiers feels really good.”
As they were hiding, the two of them kept their voices down.
However, her expression brightened. Maybe it’s because the house was a bit dark, but her smile looked really childish.
This was the house of a certain worker in the steel production street. It had the faint smell of steel. It didn’t look like a wealthy family, but it had steel tables and chairs.
The two of them sat on the chairs.
Vallis wanted a warm cup of coffee… But lighting a fire or light would be very conspicuous, so he couldn’t do that.
The room was dark, only the moonlight shone through the windows.
Vallis thanked her properly once again.
“Thank you very much. I promise that I will definitely save you and your mother.”
“Erm… My mother… is dead. When we were chased out of the house, she was kicked by the soldier, and that simply…”
“Because I have a heavily ill mother, I couldn’t marry or work in a place with a form. I kept working to save money for medicine, and was almost at my limit…”
“... Is that so.”
“Even so… My mother is…”
Her blonde locks covered her eyes.
Her petite shoulders were trembling.
Vallis didn’t have a family. He became a war orphan when he was still young, and was picked up by the church. He learned swordsmanship and horsemanship from the priests and joined the army.
There were many orphans raised by the church, so they were his siblings in a way. He felt that the priest was his actual father. But he didn’t really understand what a mother was.
So he couldn’t find the words to answer the girl.
“...Is that so.”
Vallis repeated the same words.
She raised her head.
“If I let you meet a big shot among the citizens, we will be saved?”
“Yes. I received my orders directly from the Field Marshal of the Imperial Army, Prince Allen Deux Latreille de Belgaria. His Adjutant Lord Germain was there too. And I heard the one who formulated this plan, was the Strategist Sir Regis d’Auric who defeated the High Britannians several times. There is no plan that is more correct than this.”
“Is that so… I don’t really understand, but I might have heard some of those names before.”
“He is the great man who will be the next Emperor.”
“Ahaha, for a commoner like me, it doesn’t matter who becomes Emperor, right?”
“Neh, after saving the citizens… After you save us…”
“...You will fight the enemy? And kill those bastards?”
Vallis nodded seriously.
The girl wiped her tears with the tip of her fingers and then stood up.
“I get it, I will help you! I will bring you to the big shot of the steel production guild. Because everyone listens to what he says.”
“Ah, it will be great if that person hold such a position. But there are sentries right? What is your plan?”
“Ermmm… Well, I will do something about them.”
“I understand, so… erm…”
He finally noticed that he didn’t ask for her name.
There wasn’t any need to ask for the name of the citizens he came across in the city, but a helper was different.
The girl smiled awkwardly.
“My name is Felicia okay? It’s funny right!? My mother named me after a royal. Even though I’m just a commoner in the boondocks. It would be Lèse-majesté if people call me by my name, so everyone call me Fel.”
Vallis nodded —— then he realized.
He stared at the girl before him. The 5th princess Felicia Six Celia de Belgaria was just 14 years old, and not of age.
If she was named after her, she should be younger than the princess.
“Y-You are… just a kid!?”
“Ahaha! Your face looks so strange!”
Fel laughed like a child.
Volume 9 End