Saturday, November 26, 2016

Altina the Sword Princess Volume 10 Chapter 2

Regis and Jessica
Translator: Skythewood
Editors: Darkdhaos, Ruzenor, Seir K, CEObrainz
The noon of the 22nd, in the headquarters of the Belgarian First Army—

After the conference, only Latreille, Germaine and Regis stayed behind.

“Sir Regis, how are things progressing?”

“... It’s going smoothly. We can achieve something if we start right now. But in order to reduce risks, we are performing minor adjustments.”

“I see.”

Germaine laid out a map on the table.

“... Can such a thing really be done?”

“200 years ago, in a valley similar to this, there was a siege battle that used the same tactic. Although what I read was a drama that adapted that battle.”

“Using a drama as reference and putting the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers on this bet… I can’t stop worrying.”

Germaine frowned.

Regis scratched his head.

“... We are replicating something that did happen before.”

Latreille stared hard at Regis.

“Can our army achieve this?”

“... Yes we can. According to the surveillance of the advance party, and the work by our army of pioneers in this half month, our preparations were done adequately.”

No one could tell for certain.

If Regis were to list the uncertain factors, he could go on all day.

But there was no meaning in listing them. This was the plan that had the best chance of success. That was what Regis thought.

Latreille smiled.

“Well, we will be mocked if we say we are uneasy at this point. Proceed as planned.”

“I understand.”

His eyes seemed to be seeing right through Regis’ mind, as he looked into Regis’ eyes.

Some time ago, during the meeting after the Seventh Army lost to the High Britannian Army— Regis felt something about Latreille was off. That was because he didn’t look at anyone’s eyes at all.

But right now, he was staring as if he was looking right through one’s soul.

— Was I mistaken? Or did he recover?

No matter what it was, there didn’t seem to be a problem now.

Latreille shifted his gaze back to the map and bit his lower lips.

“But…”

Germaine ask:

“Is there anything wrong?”

“If this plan works… Well, the enemy will do something about it…”

“Yes.”

“But then, Grebauvar city will…”

“Well…”

The two men looked at Regis.

He already answered this question when he proposed the plan.

“... It can be rebuilt, but it will take a very long time.”

“And so, the frontline should be pulled back onto the fortress at the top of the mountain, that’s Sir Regis’ proposal correct?”

“That’s right.”

Grebauvar city was situated to the north of the mountain, while Mauldre city was to the south. On top of the mountain was an ancient mid sized fortress.

It was the old front line before Grebauvar became a fort.

As the cannons during the time it was built weren’t that great in quality, they would need to revamp the stone walls. Despite that, considering the advantageous high ground terrain, it would be easier to defend by basing their defenses here.

Latreille shook his head.

“Sir Regis, you intend to cede some of our territory away?”

“We will lose the city, but it would show the neighboring nations that the Empire is still a formidable force.”

“That’s not enough.”

“If we hold on to Grebauvar city, it would place a heavy burden on the garrison unit. Let’s place the defensive stronghold on the top of the mountain top for the time being, then dispatch our forces to the other front lines. In the long term, this would be better for the Empire.”

“Langobalt Kingdom took a city from the Empire by trickery. They will suffer for this.”

“I-In that case… What about the Kingdom of High Britannia?”

“Of course, they would need to pay for what they did too.”

“... Taking on two nations at the same time is too reckless. And the Empire had just lost a lot of its men.”

“You are saying we don’t have enough soldiers?”

“Yes. Launching an attack on Langobalt Kingdom will require at least 100,000 highly trained soldiers.”

Germaine scowled. Considering Regis’ position, he was overstepping his boundaries by criticizing Latreille’s long term plans.

However, the subject Latreille himself permitted it, so he didn’t interrupt forcefully.

Latreille laughed lightly.

“I see, Sir Regis is unexpectedly pragmatic. Even though you are a tactician who uses unorthodox schemes.”

“... Actually, fighting in an orthodox way is better. Taking it a step further, not fighting a war would be the best.”

“Fufu, it is true that the Imperial Army is exhausted and undermanned— Going by old standards.”

“What do you mean?”

“Sir Regis should have noticed too. After all, you sent captured rifles to Argentina.”

“T-That is…”

Before this expedition, he received a letter from Altina, saying that Eric lost his grip power after getting injured.

He suggested letting Eric become a rifleman.

And not just protecting Altina with a rifle in hand.

In the future, when they could raise a riflemen unit, they would need instructors. Regis hoped that someone he could trust would be familiar with the usage of rifles as soon as possible.

— As expected, the things I sent from the capital to the Fourth Army had been inspected.

Regis didn’t think they would go that far as to break the wax seal and read the letter…

Right now, Latreille’s policies were more important than the letter.

This was one of the things Regis wanted to find out when he took part in the First Army’s expedition.

— After Latreille becomes Emperor, what policies will he enact?

“War from now on will be the era of rifles.”

“... That’s true.”

Regis nodded.

After returning to the capital, he started laying out his intelligence network. Carol who runs a bookstore and Fanrine from the southern aristocrats, people like them.

They will send news if there was anything major.

“... You recruited a lot of blacksmiths from Rouen city right?”

“Fufu, Sir Regis doesn’t have much backing in the capital, but your ears sure are sharp. How impressive.”

“Even though development should just be beginning… Could it be, the key to producing them has been figured out?’

Latreille pondered for a moment.

Germaine was covering his own mouth, as if he was restraining himself.

Just from that, Regis could tell something.

And Latreille realized that ‘Regis noticed something’.

He said with an awkward smile:

“Fu… Personally… I think Sir Regis possesses the talent to change the fate of the Empire.”

“Eh, that’s too much…!?’

“Judging from your achievements, you are worthy of such an evaluation.”

“No…”

He was about to refute it, but he remembered what Fanrine said.

No matter how unconfident you are, those who succeed would be expected to bring success the next time as well.

What he should do wasn’t to lament his lack of confidence, but to continue thinking of the next best strategy.

Regis took a deep breath and asked:

“... Since I have been evaluated so highly… Can you tell me about the development of the rifles, Field Marshall Sir?”

“Fine, show him that.”

Latreille instructed.

It was rare seeing Germaine not acting immediately. Is this really okay? His confused face seemed to be saying just that.

But the loyal adjutant wouldn’t go against his master’s wishes.

He took out a wooden crate from the depths of the headquarters' tent and put it on the table.

“Have a look.”

“... Is this a rifle?”

“Yes, this is a prototype that had just been sent here. There are several candidates, but I think this is the best one.”

“... I will take a look.”

Regis opened the crate.

A rifle was inside.

At a glance, it wasn’t too different from the High Britannian rifles.

But the design seemed sleeker, and there seemed to be some differences in its mechanism.

“This is the Belgarian Empire made Fusil 851 rifle.”

Even the name had been decided.

“... Can I hold it?”

“Of course.”

Holding it in his hands, Regis found the rifle to be a little lighter. Then he pulled the lever and opened the cartridge chamber, he found that rubber was used to ensure an airtight seal.

Rubber was a valuable commodity that could only be obtained from the south.

It was possible for Belgaria, but High Britannia didn’t have the means to obtain large quantities of rubber.

“... I see.”

“This isn’t much of a difference. The ammunition is this.”

Placed on the table appeared to be a bullet wrapped by paper.

“Paper cartridge? Not metal cartridge?”

“Yes, I understand it would be difficult to mass produce that immediately. But if it is this sort of paper cartridge, it can be made right away.”

“... I see.”

“It is more powerful and has better range than High Britannia made rifles. One of its flaws is it has more consumable parts, but if we stick to this method, we can begin mass production very soon.”

“We are going to mass produce this already?”

“We have to make up for lost time. The development of steam engines and cannons are ongoing at full speed. But it would take more time than making this cartridge here.”

“... How long would it be before our weapons can match High Britannia?”

“In half a year or so, we will catch up… And of course, we are aiming for even stronger weapons.”

Regis was surprised.

Belgaria had the potential to become an industrial powerhouse, this much was clear by checking the records.

The last Emperor wasn’t concerned with politics and military affairs, and didn’t use his powers effectively.

And Latreille will rouse the slumbering giant nation.

The power of the Empire will surpass Regis’ imagination.

— Mass producing new rifles in half a year, with the production of cannons and steam engines as their goal!

“... But, if that is the case, shouldn't we… consolidate our front lines and focus on our internal affairs? The more time passes, the bigger our advantage.”

“No, that’s wrong.”

“... Is that so?”

“Right now, only the Belgaria Empire and High Britannia possess such rifles. But ten years down the road, the neighboring nations would be able to produce such rifles. After all, these technologies will spread.”

“...That’s true.”

No matter how much they hide it, things like technology would spread. Even in a skirmish, no matter win or lose, the enemy would be able to capture one or two rifles.

They might not be able to create the exact same thing, but could still make a similar replica. They will then use their creativity to research the parts that are inadequate, and maybe even develop something better.

Latreille held the Fusil 851 rifle in his hands.

“I plan to use this to conquer all the neighboring nations within two years.”

“What…!?”

Regis was dumbfounded.

Latreille’s expression was serious. Germaine seemed to concur too.

Regis explored all the possibilities in his mind.

— This is reckless.

Latreille was unmoved.

“Sir Regis doesn’t seem to agree? Are you saying we can’t win?”

“... It is regrettable, but things will probably turn out the same way as the High Britannian did. Rifles and cannons are very reliant on supply. They can’t bring a huge quantity of ammunition to a shootout, and once their stocks run dry, they won’t be able to fight. In the end, we can’t escape the fate of our supply team being hit and losing the battle.”

“The enemy might not have a Regis d’Auric.”

“... Fighting on multiple fronts and assuming the supply lines won’t be attacked would be too optimistic.”

“I won’t launch attacks that are meaningless strategically. I don’t think we can achieve victory with rifles alone.”

“... Why are you so adamant on invasion to such an extent?”

How unfathomable.

The fact that the Belgarian Empire could produce guns would already be a huge deterrent to the neighboring nations.

But just like the retreat of the High Britannia Army, war wasn’t so simple that it could be won with rifles alone.

Latreille sighed. He gazed into the distance— As if he was looking at a place far away.

“This is to allow the Belgarian Empire… to exist forever. The glory and prosperity of the Empire being at its peak is nothing but an illusion. We are falling behind in the arms race, lost a few battles and the enemy was right at the capital’s doorsteps… This nation is too small. I want to change it into a superpower that is as huge as the La Dame Blanche.”

His ambition is too big. Really too big. Regis thought. In order to accomplish this goal, countless wars awaited him.

“... So we have to subjugate the neighboring countries?”

“If there is only one Empire in this world, nothing would be destroyed by war anymore.”

“... There are many nations that fell because of internal strife.”

“All revolutions that succeed are basically linked to an external nation.”

“... Plagues and famine could be the reason too.”

“If the country expanded, even if there is a catastrophe, they can receive aid from other places. The Empire is already enacting such a policy.”

“... If the nation was too big, central governance would be imperfect. But if the territorial lords were given too much power, the super nation would split into several countries in the end.”

What he mentioned were the basic concepts of political economics.

And of course, Latreille had thought about them. Regis asked these questions just to play the part of an audience.

“A territory that reached a certain size would be designated as a ‘state’. Governors would be assigned to govern the states, but they would not be given military power.”

“Eh?”

“In order to govern a large nation, it is necessary to have a national army. Argentina might be the commander of the Fourth Army, but she isn’t the landlord of the area around Beilschmidt and Fort Volks, right?”

“Yes.”

“All military units will follow the same system, and the nobility army would be abolished. Even if a landlord has the intent to revolt, he won’t be able to do anything without an army. As for the army, the commanders would be rotated out periodically to other assignments.”

“..! Abolish the nobility army!”

“Yes, the assignment of the staff officers will be decided solely by the Ministry of Military Affairs. The opinions of the commanders will be respected of course… But they won’t be allowed to freely hire or dismiss anyone. And the personnel would not be allowed to stay in the same unit for too long.”

If the staff officers were fresh faces, it would be hard for them to scheme any conspiracy.

Even if they were prepared to revolt, the plans would be for naught if the commander was posted out. If any strange rumors arise, they just needed to change the personnel.

If the assignments of personnel were frequent, the chance of the military command getting too close to the landlord would be low.

But of course, the new commanders would have a hard time getting a hold of their subordinates…

“... It won’t be a problem if an opposition that could match us doesn’t exist, is that what you mean?”

“That’s correct.”

Abolish the nobility army, taking control of the military back from the landlords and the nation controlling the sole army. Commanders would be treated as someone doing a job, not someone who held governance authority.

Regis felt a chill on his back.

He had read similar ideas in books. However, he had never seen a specific set of plans that combine so many elements together.

How would the intellectuals evaluate this idea? They would definitely write about it on plenty of books.

How exhilarating.

— Completely new.

Latreille saw a completely new form a nation could take.

Regis thought about it.

“... No...All this was built on the precondition that all the neighboring nations were subjugated.”

“We have to win. We need to. If not, the Belgarian Empire would one day enter the ranks of perished nations.”

“... Isn’t there a way for us to deepen our relationships with our neighboring countries?”

“Even Argentina was moved by you. Sir Regis is really a pacifist.”

“... I don’t deny that. We might be able to conquer other nations through war, but we can’t extinguish the seeds of fire. Many people will die, and their grudge would be left behind.”

“This policy is in place in order to seal that away.”

“... Using the nobility army to invade other nations, then abolish the nobility army after it is done. Will the nobles follow such a policy?”

“If they resist, there would be no choice but to make use of the Imperial First Army.”

“Then it would evolve into a large scale civil war. And with the nobility armies of the grand nobles as their opponent, the First Army might not prevail. After all, all armies would possess rifles by that point.”

“Even if that happens, I still plan to win of course.”

“... Just how many wars do you want to fight?”

“I will fight with anyone who stands in the way of my dream. And defeat them all. If not, I won’t be able to build a utopia that would be evergreen and flourishing even after a thousand years.”

Fiery flames seemed to be burning in Latreille’s eyes.

As expected of Altina’s brother — Regis thought.

A powerful aura.

If not for his experience from the past year, Regis probably would have knelt down and swore fealty. That was how great a presence he had.

But Regis swore an oath.

— He will act solely for the sake of Altina. And make preemptive moves, even if he himself lacked confidence, he would still act.

There was no time to think of the best strategy to deal with the problem. And he wasn’t just handling this one issue, he wouldn’t be able to change the situation if he didn’t act.

Even though Latreille was thinking of creating a revolutionary kind of governance, Hegemonism was still at its core.

Its path differs completely from the goal Altina wanted to achieve, even more so for Regis. If it was in the past, he would be satisfied with learning this and back down.

But he moved forward instead.

“... Was His Majesty an obstacle to Prince Latreille’s dream too?”

Germaine opened his eyes wide.

“What did you say!?”

Latreille’s face remained still, as if he was wearing a mask.

“......”

But, that was why Regis could see the truth.

If Latreille was not involved with the Emperor’s death, then he would lash out in anger unhesitatingly, no matter how highly he evaluated Regis as a strategist.

Latreille squeezed out a stiff voice:

“... For the good of the many, if I could save the lives of a million Imperial citizens, I would swing the sword even if I have to do it again… Tradition, power, obsession with purity… How many lives had been lost because of these things? What can they give to the people? We can’t stop moving forward for the sake of our dreams. This is for the sake of not wasting the blood that had been spilled. Sir Regis, do think very, very carefully… where exactly should you be standing.”

You will die if you get in my way — Is that what he means?

He was bold enough to murder the Emperor. Not just Regis, he wouldn’t hesitate to kill his own sister Altina.

He understood another thing.

Latreille was confident that he had the courts in his palms.

That’s why he could openly admit to Regis who was working under Altina that he committed regicide.

Without evidence, it doesn’t matter who jumps out to protest — That was probably what he thought.

Regis lowered his gaze.

“... My mind isn’t that great… Can you give me some time to organize my thoughts? At this stage, I think we should focus our energy on the siege.”

Latreille nodded.

“Yes, as Sir Regis pointed out, I may have been a little hasty. Let’s talk about this after the dust has settled for the matter of Grebauvar city.”

“... My deepest thanks.”

Regis saluted and left the headquarters tent.

———————————————————————
The sunlight was glaring.

He felt as if he just escaped a giant nest of snakes.

Phew~... deep breaths.

The sentries saluted in a panic.

There seemed to be something in their mouth.

— Snacks?

Two ladies were standing before them.

“Thank you for your hard work, Sir Regis.”

One of them was Fanrine.

Her long black hair reached to her waist, and she was wearing a black one piece dress. With a large ribbon above the hips.

Even though she was a lady from the southern noble house Tiraso Laverde, she was tasked by the Ministry of Military Affairs as an escort officer to Regis’ side, and even followed him on this expedition.

Even though she would converse like an adult sometimes, she was a cheerful woman who always showed a warm smile.

And the other person—

Light colored hair, pale skin and slender limbs made others feel that she was a noble lady.

She was a woman with clear eyes and chime like voice.

Her name was Jess.

“... Thank you for your hard work… Master Auric.”


“Ahh, thank you.”

She was a maid serving Regis.

Dispatched by the Ministry of Military Affairs.

Why had the Ministry done that?

Regis didn’t know the actual reason, was it because of Altina, or was there another ulterior motive?

Jess came with the letters of recommendation from the Minister of Ceremony Marquis Bergerac and his grandson — The third prince Bastian.

She spoke fluent Belgarian, had perfect etiquette in the way she moves, and was very competent in housekeeping… She had no flaws as a talent.

Even Fanrine who was wary of her in the beginning felt comfortable interacting with her during this campaign.

Although Regis wasn’t good at dealing with women older than him…

He asked Fanrine:

“So, why did you come here?”

“Ufufu… Because I baked some snacks, so I wanted to share them with Regis and everyone else.”

She reached for the basket she was carrying.

She pulled back the white cloth, revealing cookies that were out of place in this battlefield.

The fragrance spread out.

It smelled delicious.

This was actually made with a temporary built stove in an army base.

“Amazing… Ah, but…”

If the inflexible staff officers from the First Army saw this, they would definitely snap at him saying ‘you think you are here for a picnic?’

Fanrine’s shoulders slouched.

“It’s no good?”

“Ah, no, this is good… But you have to be careful about the timing you take these out…”

Jess lowered her head and apologized.

“... It’s all because of what I said.”

“Ms Jess?”

“... Because I heard when people think about things or discuss difficult topics, they would want to eat something sweet.”

“That is true. Oh right, why not get the head chef to approve this?”

Fanrine clapped her hands together.

“That’s it! I want some tea to go with the snacks.”

“Haha…”

Seemed like she had grown used to an elegant lifestyle, and will act gracefully no matter where she was.

— Speaking of which, Altina often drinks tea too.

The upper class ladies were probably all like this.

“Please join us, Sir Regis.”

“No, the conference is over and I should head back to my tent. There are things I need to do.”

“... These are made painstakingly by Lady Fanrine.”

Jess said quietly, which made Regis heart wince. He couldn’t remain unmoved after hearing that.

Fanrine said apologetically.

“E-Erm, I didn’t want to disturb you when you are so busy… But Sir Regis, you haven’t eaten lunch yet, right?”

Regis planned to have lunch, but with how things were going, he would probably have to skip.

— If I don’t eat now, my next meal will probably be tomorrow.

“That’s right… well then, I will take you up on your offer. I’m a bit busy though… There are many things I need to do before noon.”

“What’s the matter?”

After hearing Jess’ query, Regis nodded.

“You two better pack your bags too. If possible, load them onto the carriage first.”

Fanrine tilted her head.”

“Are we going to shift the base?”

“... Maybe.”

Regis and the others went to the head chef and left the snacks there.

After he tasted a few — probably for poison, they requested the head chef to make snacks with the same taste, so they could enjoy it with tea.

After that, Regis went back to his tent.

It was called a tent, but it was just canvas wrapped around pillars as walls, and didn’t have a roof.

Regis pulled back the drapes hanging at the entrance.

— And found a young maid.

It was a girl with brown long hair, her bangs covering her eyes. She wore glasses and had a bit of freckles on her cheeks.

“Ugh...”

She made a soft sound.

Regis tilted his head.

“Ara, is something the matter, erm, Ms Franca?”

Jess seemed to be glaring at Franca for a moment.

Fanrine put her hands on her waists, and said with a stern tone:

“You there! Even if you are Sir Regis’ maid, you can’t enter your master’s quarters without permission, understand?”

“I-I’m… Sorry…”

Franca squeaked softly with a deep bow.

Jess was apologizing beside her too.

“... My deep apologies. I was the one who instructed her to change the bedsheets earlier.”

“I’m not sure how things were done in your previous household, but it’s a disgrace for the master to be surprised when he returns to his quarters. Please be careful about this.”

As expected of a daughter from an aristocratic House, she would not hold back when she had to speak up.

This was the first time Regis lived while being attended to by a maid, what was on his mind was simply ‘Is that so?’

He scratched his head.

“... Well, I will be in your care.”


Intermission

Fuwa~! Franca breathed out.

This was a river some distance away from Regis’ tent. She held the bedsheets that needed to be changed in her arms.

“What a pain—!!”

“... Please don’t speak Germanian in a place like this.”

Jess scolded her.

No, that was just an alias — it was actually Jessica Schweinzeberg.

“Ah, right.”

“... We won’t know if someone might hear us.”

“I get it, Sis.”

The young girl with the alias Franca, was actually Franziska Schweinzeberg.

There wasn’t anyone near them, but it pays to be careful.

Jessica asked:

“... And so? How was it?”

“No problem of course. Even though there are all sorts of annotations all over it, I still got the gist of the whole plan. Well? I’m amazing right? Amazing right?”

“... This was the time I bought for you with the excuse of making the snacks a little better, it is only natural you can do this much.”

“Ahh, yes… Sis went to make snacks huh.. Hehe.”

“... ‘There’s no way you can make it’, is that what you want to say?”

“Sorry.”

Even though Franziska had the advantage in terms of strength, her sister was terrifying in another way. She wasn’t as smart as her sister.

“... Well, leaving what happened just now aside, it would be better for you to not get close to Master Auric. Even the place was dim and you were some distance away, you are still someone he fought with before. There is still a chance he might discover your true identity.”

“A girl as cute as me isn’t that common after all.”

“... Let’s talk about the battle plan.”

Even though what she said was ignored, Franziska wasn’t disheartened.

Speaking of which, just recalling that plan was enough to make her hair stand on ends. The plan formulated by the Imperial Army was extraordinary.

“Hey Sis, I wonder if that strategist Regis Auric is actually a monster.”

“... We came here because we have such a suspicion.”

———————————————————————
About a month ago—

Maybe it was coincidence, or maybe they were guided by the stars, the Third Prince Bastian was acquainted with Franziska and her group.

They spent a night in a room in the palace loaned to them.

Dinner could only be described as extravagant.

Breakfast was the same.

Even though the enemy was right at the capital’s doorsteps not too long ago, they couldn’t feel such an atmosphere now. Luxurious dishes were laid out on the table.

Fresh salad, vegetable soup, and roast beef with blood still dripping from it. Soft bread and a thick slice of ham.

It’s probably because the prince ordered to ‘treat them as if they are my friends’, the palace personnel didn’t even check their identity.

Thanks to that, they could collect information from within the palace and capital.

That night, Franziska and her sisters started analyzing the information they gathered.

“So big bro wasn’t executed after all?”

“... That’s true.”

Jessica nodded. She could use astrology to deduce things they couldn’t see or hear. So Franziska weren’t very surprised by this.

On the other hand, the youngest child Martina raise her hands in joy.

“That’s great—”

“Yeah, that is wonderful.”

“... However, it will be impossible to rescue him if we go on like this.”

When she heard what Jessica said, Franziska smacked the table.

“But why!?”

“... Firstly, it is very difficult to rescue big brother with just the three of us. And the Imperial Army is also wary about the remnants of our mercenary group plotting a rescue.”

“Isn’t that the reason why we are linking up with the remaining members of ‘Renard Pendu’? Didn’t we come to the capital for this?”

“Sigh… After collecting intelligence here…”

Just as they planned, the entire day was used to gather information.

“So why is it impossible!?”

“... If things carry on this way, ‘Renard Pendu’ will be doomed.”

“Ehh!? Even though big bro isn’t here, these guys are very strong!? Even if they fought the imperial army several times their numbers, they wouldn’t lose immediately!”

Franziska fought alongside them plenty of times.

They were not just for show, and were really strong.

Jessica sighed.

“I feel the same… Normally, I wouldn’t worry about them. However, if things go on like this, they will really be in danger.”

“Go on this way? What will happen?”

“... According to the intel, after High Britannia received the aid of Langobalt Kingdom, they occupied Grebauvar city. Naturally, ‘Renard Pendu’ was there too.”

“Why did they take the city?”

“They wanted to show the neighboring countries that the Belgarian Empire is already exhausted. If they could keep it up for half a year or so, there would be nations who will think that the Empire is nothing to be feared.

“I see. The Imperial forces did suffer heavy losses in this war! Do you think the plan will work?”

“... Belgaria will be dispatching the First Army in order to retake Grebauvar city. They will be setting off a week later.”

“Field Marshall Latreille will be going huh. It’s that rather impressive guy who announced that he will be the next Emperor. Seems like he is serious about this campaign.”

“In this war with High Britannia, the Fourth Princess got all the spotlight, so he is a little flustered. However, the problem doesn’t lie with the commander.”

“What?”

Jessica then mentioned an ominous name.

“... Regis d’Auric… He is joining the First Army as a strategist.”

“Ah.”

The invasion by High Britannia was proceeding smoothly as planned.

That was because of the stubbornness of the Imperial soldiers, and they were slow in thinking up strategies against the new rifles.

However, the Fourth Army led by Argentina was completely different. They defeated the battleship fleet that held all the advantages, and even routed the supply division.

This was all because of the tactics of the strategist known as Regis d’Auric. Such a rumor was spreading among the populace.

And Gilbert who was known as the Mercenary King was also captured because of his unorthodox tactic of ‘creating fog’.
Turning time back to before the war, Franziska received the mission of stalling Argentina’s army at Fort Volks.

However, the unit attacking Fort Volks was defeated in just one night, and the plan to stall them failed.
Franziska was even admonished by Gilbert for that failure.
Her body will shake just from hearing Regis’ name.

“Isn’t that guy Argentina’s subordinate?”
“... He either had an invitation from Prince Latreille, or he recommended himself… All sorts of rumours are floating around. No matter what, they will leave the capital in a week.”

“Ugh… But even a monster-like strategist like him won’t be able to recapture the fortress city so easily right?”

Jessica shrugged.

“... Optimism… is your virtue huh?”
“Am I wrong?”
“... If we don’t act now, we will definitely be defeated.”

“I understand. Well then, what should we do?”

Franziska was a mercenary with plenty of experience on the battlefield. She would not hesitate if there was a need to fight.

Martina clenched her fist tight.

“Alright—! Martina will work hard!”

“... Sigh, there’s just the three of us… who will be doing this. Reviving ‘Renard Pendu’... and getting our big brother back.”

That’s so difficult — Franziska thought.

Just getting the members of ‘Renard Pendu’ defending the city to gather was difficult enough. They numbered just 700.

While Gilbert was imprisoned by the Fourth Army, and should be in Fort Volks by now.

As of now, the Fourth Army probably numbered over 10,000.

— Normally speaking, they could only give up.

However, their sister Jessica had the title of ‘Magician’.

Even in a desperate situation, she could turn things around.

“... First, let’s use the good honest Third Prince.”

———————————————————————-
After the three of them asked the servants, they started searching for Bastian.

As they were wearing the dresses of Belgarian noble ladies, they weren’t questioned when they walked around the palace.

And then, along the corridor towards the Ministry of Military Affairs

“Yo, bro.”

“... You have returned from High Britannia. It’s great that you are unharmed.”

They found Bastian.

However, this wasn't an atmosphere where Franziska and the others could intrude on. Bastian was facing off with a general in glamorous attire.

Franziska and the others hid in the shadows of a pillar and peeked at the situation..

—Hmm? Did Bastian address him as ‘bro’? That means, that blonde man is Prince Latreille!?

As they were in dresses, Franziska and company were unarmed.

If he realized they were actually mercenaries of ‘Renard Pendu’...

Should they run?

No.

She would be fine, but Jessica couldn’t run fast, and Martina was also here.

Franziska and the others decided to continue hiding and observing.

Bastian sighed.

“Not really~ I had a hard time alright? Chased by the army, shot by guns and fell down a cliff.”

“You should learn how to settle down. Be it politics or military, you should start contributing to the nation.”

“You want me to help you? You haven’t taken the throne, but you are talking as if you are the Emperor, bro.”

“... Dissatisfied?”

“No, that’s fine too. Argentina and I are both idiots. Even though I felt politics was troublesome not too long ago… But what will bro think… if I say this?”

“Hmm?”

“Does the Belgarian Empire need a senate?”

Latreille looked surprised.

Bastian who never listened to lessons properly was actually discussing politics. And it was a proposal that leaned towards liberalism, that’s what shocked him.

He then smiled wryly.

“Fufu… I was wondering what you wanted to say… Which friends of yours told you that?”

“Well, I don’t deny that my friend taught me this knowledge. But I only said this after understanding it in my own way.”

“How ridiculous. The one who decides the will of the Empire, is the Emperor who sits at the top of the flawless system which carries out his will thoroughly. There isn't any need for an organization to consul the Emperor. Remember this well— The Emperor is an inviolable existence.”

“Yes, I think bro will become an excellent Emperor. But that’s not so certain after age catches up with you. You might not be as exemplary as you were in your younger days.”

“... When the time comes, maybe someone more suitable will dispose me.”

Latreille raised the corner of his lips.

Bastian stared at him.

“Hey! Isn’t that…!”

“You already heard about it anyway…”

Bastian withdrew his hand back to his chest.

“Bro… You really.., did it!?”

“Hmmp, will you believe me if I deny it?”

“No matter what, that guy isn’t beyond forgiveness!”

He attempted to pull out his dagger.

But before that, a white blade appeared right before Bastian.

“!?”

This was abnormal speed.

Bastian’s right hand was touching the blade of Latreille’s treasure sword, Arme Victoire Volonte.

It was a single edged sword.

If Bastian drew his dagger out, his right hand would be pierced by the blade.

He might be able to pull it out if he retreated… But Latreille might advance faster than him.

A sword and a dagger had their own pros and cons.

If Bastian was facing a normal sword, he could break it with a strike. However, the sword he was up against was a treasure sword that was also made with Tristei.

Cold sweat was breaking out from Bastian’s back.

“... Are you for real… Bro, were you that fast? Or did I turn slow?”

“I won’t show my full strength when I am merely training my brother that is 8 years my junior.”

— So he had been holding back all this while.

Creak, Bastian grit his teeth.


Latreille said:

“For the sake of the Empire’s future, I have the resolve to drink muddy water if I have to. And you? What can you do for the Empire? What can you do?”

“... Even I… am considering many things now. The people will be happy as long as the nation exists? Is that true? What needs to be done for the peasants born in this country to achieve happiness? Burdened with taxes, enduring the splurging by the nobles, are they really happy under such conditions? Don’t you think that is unfair?”

“It is unfair. And so?”

“What…!?”

“Your ideals are very shallow. You are talking about a fair nation? Can such a country maintain a powerful army? Can it nurture exemplary commanders? Who will lead the soldiers when barbarians and other nations attack? How will those who are pushing for liberalism protect the country?”

“There are exceptional talents even among the peasants.”

“It is foolish to depend on exceptional cases… Bloodline is a form of environment. The nobles receive education from a young age, those trending towards politics will learn to manage people and land. Those with a flair for military matters will learn to command massive armies. It is impossible for peasants to do the same.”

“I-In that case, just let the peasants receive education!?”

“Education requires time and money. No matter what era it is, it will never be enough. Even the Belgarian Empire couldn’t afford to provide education to all peasants. Which peasant would you offer this chance to? And how would you go about selecting that person?”

“......”

“If the chance for an education is only offered to a select group, then this would be no different from the aristocratic system.”

“Ugh…”

“Bastian, you looked down on your chance for an education in the past. Do you understand how much value it holds now? Then it isn’t too late for you to do so now. If you study hard, I will prepare a post for you, be it ministers or generals… Just work hard for the sake of the Empire. If the country becomes prosperous, there would definitely be citizens that shall be saved.”

Latreille retracted his sword.

Bastian couldn’t say anything to refute.

“So you want me to accept injustice?”

“What I mean is that this is better than being destroyed by other countries. I am happy that you are interested in politics. I can forgive you if you are just stating your ideals. But if you get in my way, then you are my enemy. I won’t show mercy if that is true.”



“Cough…”

After Latreille left, Franziska and company could finally step out from the shadow of the pillar.

“H-Hello…”

Hm? Oh, it’s you. Ah, you saw that?”

“Ahaha… just a little…”

“Ara, my awkward side had been seen. Well, please keep this a secret alright?”

“O-Of course!”

Franziska nodded repeatedly.

“O-kay”, Martina raised both hands.

Jessica lowered her head courteously.

“... My apologies, and… Can I ask you for something?”

“What is it?”

“It isn’t good for us to intrude too long as guests. I hope you can write a job recommendation letter for us.”

“Have you contacted your acquaintance?”

She told such a lie earlier. Her true goal was to rescue her brother Gilbert from the Imperial Fourth Army.

“... I sent the letter, but that might not be reliable. I heard that famous strategist will take part in the upcoming campaign… We would like to be servants and attend to his everyday needs.”

“Work as maids? Well, that’s fine.”

— Really, this prince is too innocent! So easily conned!

Franziska thought in her heart, but kept quiet to avoid unnecessary troubles.

Jessica curtsied and then lowered her head again.

“We would like to apologize for something… In the very beginning, we used aliases as we didn’t know the nature of your character yet.”

“Ahh, I see.”

“Yes… Our real names are actually—”

Jessica even made the effort to prepare handkerchiefs with fake names.

Bastian squatted down in front of Martina.

“I get it, I will write an introduction letter to where you would like to go. But she is still young, it would be better for her to stay here.”

“!?”

Franziska’s heart tensed.

She broke out in cold sweat.

Martina raised her hands up high.

“I understand! Martina will stay here!”

“Yeah.”

You can go wherever you want if there is a hostage, that’s what he meant.

— To take a child as a hostage! This guy is truly a royal of Belgaria. I can’t let my guard down.

Unlike Franziska who was very shaken, Jessica nodded calmly.

“... I understand, please take care of Martina.”

“Sis, is this really fine!?

“... Franziska, I understand you are reluctant to part, but it is impossible to bring a child onto the battlefield right? We should accept his kind offer and leave her here for now.”

“W-Will it be fine…?”

“This place is better than the battlefield of course. You understand right? Martina, don’t cause any trouble for others alright?”

“Okay—!”

Jessica wasn’t the type who would sacrifice her little sister to save her brother — Even though she believed that, Franziska couldn’t help worrying. If they could switch, she would rather be the one who stays.

Martina hugged Franziska.

“Sister~ Bon voyage!”

“...... Yes, I will definitely come back.”

Franziska hugged her petite body tightly.




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