Prologue: Situational Report
Editors: Darkdhaos, Ruzenor, Seir K
Imperial year 851 July 21st—
The sun rose from behind the mountains in the east.
Regis left his tent and came here before dawn.
Even though there was a dense forest on the slope of the hills, barren ground could be seen as they had harvested plenty of trees.
There were many soldiers working here.
This wasn’t a battle.
They dug the grounds single-mindedly with shovels.
The leader of the pioneers saluted as he saw Regis.
“Thank you for your hard work, Strategist Auric Sir!”
“... Ah, thank you.”
Even though Regis’ current position should be ‘Deputy Chief Strategist’, he would forgo the trivial details.
Right now, he was seconded to the First Army.
He was invited by the Field Marshall Latreille himself— This news was already widespread.
The soldiers around him all looked his way.
“... That is the legendary ‘Wizard’?”
“I heard he won all his battles against High Britannia so far.”
“He seemed to have captured Fort Volks which had remained impregnable for 40 years with just 2,000 men.”
“But he lost yesterday.”
“Hey, if he hears that…”
The soldiers whispered amongst themselves.
The Imperial Army used siege weapons in their assault of the steel production street side of Grebauvar fortress city.
But the plan failed.
It was effective as a feint attack, but from the results, it was indisputable that many soldiers died in battle.
Regis’ rank was low, but he still held the position of a staff officer, and the troops weren’t dumb enough to criticize him right in his presence.
He had not fallen to the point of losing their trust, but he wouldn’t be so sure of that if he lost again.
Regis scratched his head.
The rumors running rampant among the troops — that Regis took part in this campaign on Latreille’s request — weren’t wrong.
But part of the reason was hidden.
Regarding the Third Grade Admin Officer promotion examination.
He recalled what happened before the First Army set off, when he went off to see Minister Beylard at the Ministry of Military Affairs.
Back then, Latreille stopped Regis who was on his way there to explain himself and said he wanted to tag along
It was inside the palace, so they didn’t walk far.
But the problem was his goal.
Field Marshall Latreille who commands the entire Imperial military was spending time on Regis, who was merely a 5th grade admin officer. This was abnormal.
—— Is this really okay? Even though Regis thought that, he didn’t have the authority to question Latreille.
He followed behind Latreille and headed towards the Ministry of Military Affairs.
Inside Beylard’s office.
As Latreille came without notice, the Minister thought something important happened and stood up hastily with a salute.
“F-Field Marshall Sir… What is the matter!? If there is anything I can do for you, you just need to summon me over…”
Latreille nodded regally.
“Alright, I will make it simple. It is regarding the promotion exams.”
Yes Sir! May I ask what is the issue!?”
“For Regis d’Auric’s promotion exam, I want him to fight in an actual battle in lieu of the exam.”
“... Re... Regis?”
Only now did the minister notice Regis who was standing behind Latreille. He then pointed at Regis and shouted without a second thought.
After his outburst, the minister realized something and spoke again.
“Ah, no… So it is you Sir!?”
“Good day. Erm… Sorry for the trouble.”
Regis lowered his head.
Latreille asked again to confirm.
“Sir Regis here is slated to take the promotion exams for Third grade admin officers correct?”
“Y-Yes Sir… A simple practical test to see if he can put the knowledge from books into practice.”
Regis was certain — No matter how much expectations others put on him, it was still impossible for him to pass.
They just needed to see Regis swing a sword once, if the eyes of the examiner weren’t deluded, they would definitely shout at Regis to ‘Do it seriously!’ When they finally understand that this unsightly swordsmanship was Regis’ best effort, they would undoubtedly call for a re-test.
Failing the promotion itself wouldn’t be much of a problem. Regis wasn’t that keen on making it big.
But the rules state that failing the exam meant he would need to re-take it. If he had to take the normal test, he would have to keep retaking it for the rest of his life.
— It would be great if there was a way for the practical exam to be waived, Regis thought.
“Lord Beylard, you probably heard… Grebauvar city has been taken. Many soldiers and citizens have become captives. I want to take back the city as soon as possible, but I can’t commit too much forces. After all, the capital needs to be defended too.”
“I received the report too of course. That fills me with pain.”
“And so, I have decided to recruit Sir Regis as a staff officer into the First Army, and would be setting off for the campaign soon.”
“Really!? But he is the Fourth Princess’…”
“Yes, I know his allegiance lies with Argentina. He is now transferred under my command with a temporary secondment until we recapture Grebauvar City, that’s the agreement.”
“... It wouldn’t be a problem then.”
“Fufu, even if it’s me, I don’t plan on using this national crisis as a chip in a political power struggle.”
— It is true that he was an honorable person.
Wasn’t this proof that he was so confident that he didn’t need to forcefully recruit talent? That was how Regis felt.
As expected, he was a man well suited to be the next emperor.
Latreille just needed to expel the High Britannia and Langobalt forces, and he could secure the throne without any more worries.
Few men dared oppose him now.
“I’m not doing this for political reasons, I recruited Sir Regis as a strategist purely for military reasons.”
“... I-Is he someone worthy of such a treatment? Even if his promotion succeeds, he would just be a Third grade admin officer right?”
Minister Beylard looked at Regis in surprise. He looked absolutely bewildered. Regis’ appearance probably played a part — he didn’t look like a soldier with his slender body, weak posture, hunches his back and soft voice.
It was natural for him to be doubtful.
— After all, Regis was the one who doubts himself the most.
Latreille smiled wryly.
“If you know a strategist who could take Fort Volks with a small number of troops, defeat the steam warship fleet and rout the supply unit transporting the newest models of rifles and cannons, please introduce me. I don’t want to borrow people from Argentina either.”
“Ah, erm… Well…”
“There isn’t anyone more suited. We can’t let the recapture plan fail, and time is of the essence. There isn’t time to wait for the exam to finish.’
His tone didn’t permit any objections. In response, minister Beylard lowered his head deeply.
“It is as you say. If the Field Marshall supervises the actual battle exam personally, no one would dispute the results.”
“Very well then. I will leave the procedures to you.”
And so, things turned out this way. The situation changed before Regis even said anything.
The two of them walked out of the office.
They walked along the corridor. A young General Affairs Officer stood up straight and moved close to the wall hurriedly to make way when he saw Latreille coming.
The saluting man — turned into a statue with the salute being the theme of the artwork.
That officer showed a look of surprise momentarily when he saw Regis. He must be expecting Germain to be by Latreille’s side.
Actually, Regis had no other business in the palace.
He should be able to go back… but the Field Marshall spent so much time for his sake, so it would seem very arrogant if he begged his leave right after the matter was finished.
Regis considered himself someone who could read the mood.
He waited for Latreille to speak.
“Sir Regis, the promotion exams won’t be a problem now. I feel that Third grade admin officer isn’t high enough…”
“No, not at all! Field Marshall Latreille, you have been a big help. I am very grateful.”
“It is too early to thank me. Everything will have to wait until we retake Grebauvar city.”
“Ah, that won’t be a problem then.”
“Fu… You are unexpectedly confident.”
“Ehh? No, I just happen to know. From the intelligence we know, retaking it won’t be a problem. The question is how to rescue the captives, and minimize our losses.”
When he heard what Regis said, Latreille opened his eyes wide.
And laughed heartily.
Regis sighed in his heart.
He saw the pioneers looking at him with reverence, and couldn’t bring himself to say ‘I am only taking part to waive my practical test.”
The pioneer leader laid out the plans onto the table.
“Sir Strategist, this much has already been done.”
“...Hmmm… Things seem to be progressing well.”
“That’s right! But we are just moving earth… Can we really retake the fortress city by doing this?”
“Yes we can.”
The leader looked to the south. But the city wasn’t visible from this slope.
“Are we laying the foundations here, then building a fortress? But it would be better if we build it to the south towards the direction of the capital, right? What exactly is our goal?”
“Ah— … That… It is only natural for you to be confused…”
Regis said vaguely.
He couldn’t hand all the design plans to this pioneer team after all, since the battle plan might leak.
In the battle yesterday, the enemy saw through his plan.
Even if there was a spy, there wasn’t time for them to relay the intelligence, so the enemy had simply seen through Regis’ scheme.
However, you can never be too careful.
He split the plans and assigned them to several pioneer teams, and will make use of their effort as a whole.
“Well… This will probably be a very meaningful plan… I will be glad if you can take my word for it.”
“Ah, o-of course, I have never doubted Sir Strategist’s plan!”
“Thank you. Alright then, I need to visit the other sites…”
Regis saluted sloppily and then left that place.
The Imperial First Army set up camp about 60Ar (4287m) from Grebauvar fortress city that had been taken by the allied armies from High Britannia and Langobalt kingdom.
Regis returned to headquarters after inspecting several pioneer teams.
It was almost time for lunch.
After returning a salute to the guards outside, he entered the tent.
When he was with Altina, he would sort through documents and read books inside the headquarters without worries.
But he couldn’t be so laid back and flaunt the rules in the Imperial First Army.
Latreille supported himself with both hands on the table at the deepest end of tent. Germain stood besides him, ready for any orders.
The knights around the conference table all turned their gazes toward Regis.
The young knight — Batteren, commander of the White Hare Knights asked anxiously.
“Is the plan proceeding smoothly, Sir Strategist?”
“... Just as planned.”
The atmosphere was heavy because of yesterday’s failure, everyone was on edge.
As the infiltration plan conducted in parallel succeeded, their efforts weren’t for naught. But the Imperial Army still lost many men. They couldn’t help staring at Regis, who proposed this plan, with accusatory eyes.
“We have confirmed the tally for yesterday’s battle.”
Germain turned over the document and reported as he confirmed the numbers.
“The 3,000 cavalry are unharmed. We lost 600 artillery soldiers and 7 artillery pieces. And for the infantry… We lost 3,000, and are left with 11,000.”
Regis nodded, that was all he could do.
3,000 souls were lost in a battle he planned, Regis felt as if his heart was being stabbed.
However, if the one who planned the battle showed weakness, it would only make the other staff officers uneasy.
Regis wasn’t concerned about others evaluating him poorly. But if the plan was called off because he couldn’t put up a strong front — it would be very difficult to rescue those who were taken captives.
At the very least, he must not appear shaken, Regis pursed his lips.
Batteren glared at him.
“Did you expect such losses, Sir Strategist?”
It was within his expectations indeed.
But if he answered it so directly, it would definitely spur negative emotions unnecessarily. He didn’t want his relationship with the other staff officer to become really bad. If that happens and the frontline commander ignores the laid out plan, the battle would head towards failure.
Regis pondered for a moment before answering.
“... I give you my word… I mean no disrespect to the troops who gave their lives for this plan.”
Batteren didn’t say anymore. He wasn’t fond of Regis, but this was the headquarters and in the presence of the Field Marshall Latreille, and the chief strategist Germain was still in the midst of reporting the results of the battle,
Batteren didn’t continue. He might have an emotional side because of his youth, but he was someone who could restrain himself.
German continued reporting.
“Our food stock is plentiful. We have a steady supply of water and firewood. Because of the large number of pioneers… our food consumption rate is high. But it shouldn’t be a problem as we can resupply from the capital.”
The capital kept on sending food and other supplies over.
This was arranged by the admin officer in charge of the First Army’s logistics and was proceeding smoothly. It was completely different from the Fourth Army where Regis did everything himself.
“What about the enemy?”
“Yes Sir. From the battle last night, we can assume that 30 of the enemy’s cannons have been destroyed. However, there should be 50 more cannons deployed on the walls…”
“If we have a shootout… Can we win?”
“We have 23 cannons left. If we continue at the same rate as yesterday, maybe we can.”
We should continue shooting if we can win! Before the atmosphere turned in that direction, Regis interjected:
“... If we kept doing that, the infantry and artillery troops would suffer heavy losses. Considering our national defense in the future, we should avoid such a battle.”
“Yes, we should avoid unnecessary losses.”
According to Germain’s report — the shroud bridges seems to have been burned. Because they couldn't leave the bridges like that, so that was a natural course of action.
The enemy seemed to have many riflemen deployed on the walls.
“Sir Regis, what is our next move?”
“... We can only trust Third grade combat officer Vallis who infiltrated the steel production street. Since he didn’t send any smoke signal to call off the plan, we will proceed with the rescue operation in 5 days in accordance to the original plan.”
“If Vallis is killed, he won’t be able to send smoke signals right?”
“... Regrettably… We can’t do anything about that.”
“Should we give up on the captives then?”
“We will have to.”
It was a painful decision, but he didn’t have any follow up plan.
If the campaign dragged on too long, there was a high chance that enemy reinforcement would come. The probability that the other nations would attack was high too.
This would lead to further losses of lives.
No matter how many citizens got captured, he couldn’t let the elites of the Imperial First Army continue to suffer losses.
Soldiers should protect the citizens — Even though that was how he felt.
But if the Imperial First Army falls in the Grebauvar liberation campaign, it would expose even more citizens to danger.
This battle was watched closely by many. He had confirmed that the neighboring nations had sent people to spy on them.
They needed to display the strength of the Belgarian Empire.
Chapter 1: Vallis’ mission
The night of July 20th, in the steel production street of Grebauvar fortress city—
Vallis spied at the situation from inside the building.
Then pulled his head back immediately.
In the dark, a girl — Fel was waiting. Her distinctive features of blonde hair and green eyes glimmered faintly under the pale moonlight.
“How is it, Vallis?”
“Your information is accurate, Fel. There are four enemy guards at the entrance to the alley… They are equipped with the new rifles, combat knives on their waist.”
In front of them was a main road that divided the zone.
He would definitely be spotted if he crossed that road.
His adversaries were four guards.
But they were poorly trained. Vallis could tell their quality from the way they stood. Even though their eyes were sweeping the surroundings, their minds were mainly occupied by their chatters.
It would be easy to defeat them.
“... However… If they fire off just one shot, the plan would become a mess.”
Right now, the enemies were wary about the Imperial First Army that was outside the city. But if they hear gunshots, they would definitely dispatch people to the northern zone.
“I have the mission of relaying the details of the rescue plan to the representative of the citizens.”
“I understand. This is to save everyone right?”
“After that, will you kill those bastards?”
“There is no reason to let them off.”
Fel’s mother was killed by a High Britannian soldier. Despite that, she had to peddle to the enemy soldier in order to survive in the city occupied by the enemy.
Vallis might be a chevalier now, but when he was still a commoner orphan, he trained nonstop to be a soldier. He didn’t understand what kind of existence a mother was.
But he did understand her hatred.
“... In order for the plan to succeed, we need to avoid a battle with those sentries. Is there a way to do that?”
“Yes, leave it to me. I will draw their attention, then you can use the chance to slip through.”
“What are you going to do?”
“You want to know? Can I not say it?”
“... My mission will affect many lives. If the probability of success is low, we will need to find another way.”
“Hmm… How about hiding yourself, and then slip through when you think I succeeded?”
“Will you be in danger?”
He didn’t intend to drag the citizens into this…
But he didn’t have the leisure of wasting too much time here. He needed to relay the detailed plans to the representatives and then complete the preparation for the escape before the plan was enacted.
“I understand. I will leave it to you. I will cross the road when I feel the sentries have let their guard down.”
Umm, the young girl clenched her fists.
A child like movement.
Apparently, Fel was just 14.
“... Sorry, I shouldn’t have dragged a child into this.”
“Ahaha, you are really concerned about strange things.”
“This is war. Even a child would die if they couldn’t fight. Well then, I will be going.”
She could only smile awkwardly.
She emptied the basket of bread and wine.
— What would she do?
Fel walked across the main road openly under the moonlight.
She was a citizen captured in the steel production street. There was no problem in doing this.
Vallis hid in the shadow of a building nearby, peeking at the situation.
— What would she do to attract the sentries’ attention?
Even though the attention of the guard approached by Fel would fall on her, there were four of them. Vallis would be spotted by the other sentries if he crossed the road.
Even if he dashed across quietly, it was very likely that he would be spotted.
Fel spoke to the sentry:
“Good evening, Mr soldier.”
“Ahh, it’s you. Go on then.”
A curt reply. Seemed like one of the soldier could speak Belgarian.
Fel nodded, then stopped as if she was troubled.
The sentry asked:
“What’s the matter?”
“W-Well… business didn’t go well today…”
Fel showed him her basket.
It was empty, she already took out the bread and wine bottle.
The sentry shrugged.
“That’s a pity.”
“Neh, can you give me some bread…? My mother is waiting for me. I will be scolded if I go back empty handed like this.”
“Even if you say that, our rations have been cut recently.”
“Don’t be so stingy. I will give you a good price okay? How about it, all four of you for just one loaf of bread?”
“She will do all four of us for one loaf of bread.”
The sentry who spoke just now translated to High Britannian for the others.
The group looked at each other, their expressions changed.
“But she is just a kid.”
“I don’t mind.”
“... Indeed, it’s a bargain.”
“Right? I will always ask for bread and wine for one go okay? It is not too peaceful today, so it didn’t go well… Hey, Mr Soldier…”
Fel licked her thumb lightly.
And made a slurping sound.
Her lips made a smacking sound.
She got all the sentries to focus on her lips.
“How about it? Everyone praises me often. You will be satisfied with just one loaf of bread…”
“Ahh… Seems like a good deal.”
One sentry said, and the other guards also smiles deviously.
“It’s a deal huh? One at a time would be fine right? Let’s head to the toilet.”
“Haha… that’s true.”
A crude hand grabbed Fel’s shoulder.
“You can’t refuse now alright? I am really rough.”
“Hmmm? Erm, I… don’t really understand High Britannian.”
“He said you can’t scream even if it hurts.”
Fel looked as if she was on the verge of tears when she heard the translation, and forced a smile.
“I-I see… It’s fine… Aha… Haha…”
Vallis ran over.
As the sentries placed their attention on Fel, they were not guarding the place any more. He could cross right now.
— In order to save the majority of the citizens, using such a plan couldn’t be helped!
She knew too. She won’t lose her life either. It would be fine.
“... No problems… How is that possible!”
Vallis concealed the sound of his footsteps and ran, but towards a place different from the original plan.
He didn’t avoid the sentries and crossed the road.
The soldier holding Fel’s shoulder suddenly lifted his head.
As Vallis was wearing a High Britannian uniform, the enemy’s reaction was slower.
The other sentries also noticed and looked his way.
One of them raised his rifle.
“Hey, halt! Stay right there and state your unit! If you don’t stop—!”
Fel grabbed the guard’s right arm tightly.
“Get out of my way, galian!”
An elbow struck Fel’s temple, and she flew away.
And collapsed onto the ground.
But the time she stalled was more than enough for Vallis.
He belonged to the elites of the Belgarian military, the First Army— And was known to be the elite of the elites amongst them.
Compared to the poorly trained High Britannians who weren’t even proper guards, just soldiers on night sentry duty, there was a world of difference.
Vallis right hand flicked.
The soldier who struck Fel sprayed blood from his throat.
The second soldier who shouted was pierced in the heart by the short sword. He died instantly.
He was half a step away from the 3rd sentry with the raised rifle. At this extreme distance, Vallis sliced off his fingers. He couldn’t shoot since he couldn’t pull the trigger.
The 4th turned and ran.
Vallis threw his sword at the back of the soldier escaping from him. It stabbed into the guard’s spine, and he fell without uttering a sound.
The 3rd man who was still alive drew the combat knife with his left hand.
Vallis dodged the first thrust, then stepped forward, grabbing his opponent’s throat and crushed his windpipe.
Vallis didn’t end him rightly, but that stopped him from making any sound. The man rolled on the ground and rolled around in intense pain.
He would be dead a short while later.
“... Suppression complete.”
Vallis said softly.
He shifted his gaze, and saw Fel sitting on the ground weakly and trembling.
She had a tough side, but she was a citizen, female and a child, so this was expected.
“Ahh… Ugh… K-Killed…?”
“Your wounds shouldn’t be fatal. If you can stand, help me take care of the bodies.”
Without waiting for an answer, Vallis picked up a body with both his hands.
There was a commotion after all, and there was a chance the enemy sentries might be changing shift. He needed to hide his track quickly.
It was fine even if the bodies were found later, he just needed enough time to meet the representative of the citizens.
Fel picked up the knife on the ground.
“... You need to hide this too?”
“... W-Was my plan… bad?”
She showed a timid face.
Vallis opened a storehouse in a residence nearby, and threw the corpse in. He did the same for the other two corpses, then retrieved his sword.
“Fel’s plan… worked, since it drew the attention of the sentries.”
“I-Is that so? Then why did you do something so dangerous…?”
“Because I can’t turn a blind eye to this.”
“But, if the gun went off, the plan would…!”
“Even though the situation would become tougher, it doesn’t mean failure. I would rather the enemy search for me then let that thing happen. Soldiers should protect the citizens. Fel is a citizen. So I will absolutely protect you.”
The truth was, Vallis knew what he did was reckless.
He was reminded time and again in training that it was foolish to endanger the majority in order to help one person.
Crystal like tears rolled down Fel’s cheeks.
“... Thank… You.”
This might not be the correct decision for a soldier.
Even so, when he saw Fel struggling to hold back her tears, Vallis felt he did the right thing.