Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Altina the Sword Princess Volume 13 Chapter 3

The Battle of Aroe Maroe
Translator: Skythewood
Machine editor: ratorasepo
Editor: Darkdhaos, CEObrainz

Imperial Year 851 September 15th —


The rainy season had ended several days ago. While the defenders were wondering why the Etruria Theocracy still hadn’t attacked, they finally showed up.


【The enemy army numbers 30,000!】


The scout shouted.


All the staff officers were gathered in the conference hall inside the Aroe Maroe fort.


There was a large table in the middle of the hall.


Altina stood at the very end of the room, and didn’t sit even though there were vacant seats.


Seeing their commander-in-chief on her feet, the others also remained standing.


Regis stood to her left.


Eric was on guard with a rifle behind her.


Standing to the right was Lieutenant General Dorval and the key officers of the Sixth Army. Lieutenant General Rockhoward and the officers from the Eighth Army stood at the other end of the table.


Eddie and Abidal Evra were present too, and stood to Regis’ left.


With their help, a large map was laid open.


【I thought we wouldn’t need this… So they came in the end.】


【And with larger numbers.】


Eddie mumbled.


Lieutenant General Dorval stared at him.


Speaking of which, when they were suppressing the rebellion of Earl Trosa, Eddie was assigned to the Sixth Army.


And he didn’t have any achievements to show for it.


It seemed that Eddie left a bad impression on him. After all, he had never seen Eddie’s prominent performance.


Regis placed three blue pieces on the map.


They were heading straight for Aroe Maroe City from the south.


【… They will enter the arrow range from the wall tomorrow.】


As a broad enemy detection network had been set up, they grasped the battle situation swiftly.


Altina crossed her arms.


【They don’t seem to be planning any sneak attack.】


【… They are planning a straightforward invasion. Their victory so far probably boosted their confidence a lot.】


Dorval who gifted these victories to the enemy didn’t seem to mind at all.


As there had been wins and losses throughout the various wars, he probably felt that he wouldn’t be punished for something of this extent.


He was known as an “experienced brave general” in the capital, but this term wasn’t associated with “many victories”.


Since the commander was like that, the troops from the Sixth Army didn’t seem too bothered either.


— Well, there was no point in deploying soldiers who didn’t have the will to fight to the frontlines.


Rockhoward asked:


【Why has the enemy increased in number??】


【Ehh? That’s because…】


They must be reinforcements sent in the past month. The answer was too obvious, which made it hard to discern his intentions.


Altina answered:


【They are reinforcements from their home nation, right?】


【Hmm, I see. They have been winning the battles, yet they are still sending in reinforcements… The enemy commander sure is cautious.】


【That seems to be the case—】


— Wrong, he committed his reserves for the sake of this decisive battle?


They felt that the Imperial army wouldn’t retreat any further.


That was what Regis thought, but he decided to ignore it since Rockhoward didn’t seem to have any deep intentions.


Even if he was bothered by the increase in enemy numbers, there was nothing to gain from discussing the reason. At least, this wasn’t something they should be discussing right now.


Their priority should be how to deal with this problem.


【Hmm…】


Anyway, Rockhoward’s focus point was a little strange.


As if he had the habit of acting on whatever came to mind.


There was something he couldn’t say to the commander of an army and the head of an aristocratic house. That he was “just like a kid”.


Regis sighed in his heart.


Dorval didn’t have the will to fight, and Rockhoward’s thinking was too shallow.


However, the Fourth Army’s forces were less than half that of the enemy. So the Sixth Army would need to contribute too.


Regis asked:


【……Lieutenant General Dorval, do you have any good plans in mind?】


【Hmm? Well… the Imperial Army has 50,000 men while the enemy has 30,000. It will be fine if we defend the fort.】


【… A steady plan. How long would we defend for?】


He thought for a brief moment.


【How long to defend… Until they retreat of course!】


【… I see.】


Then victory would be eluded forever from the defender’s hand.


According to the strategy books, the forts should be defended for an adequate amount of time, and they should attack when the enemy was tired.


Or until reinforcements arrive.


There were other factors involved this time too.


And Eddie stated this factor in the form of a question.


【If we keep defending the fort, but the enemy doesn’t attack, what then?】


Dorval showed an impatient face.


【Then there won’t be any war, won’t that be just swell?】


【Hmm? There are 50,000 Imperial soldiers and many citizens. The food supply brought by the Fourth Army will last for 2 months at most, correct?】


Eddie tilted his head.


According to Regis’ calculations, that was roughly right. If they ration their supplies, they would last for four months at the most.


【Then hurry and evacuate the citizens.】


【Can we make it in time?】


【You are still the same! You keep pointing out the problems in the plans of others, why don’t you tell us your plan!】


Eddie scratched his head.


【Well, that’s true.】


— Even though there wasn’t an alternative plan, these issues would still be there. This plan still needed to be discussed.


Altina pushed the discussion forward:


【Regis, you decide.】


— That will be faster, huh.


The scene of continuing the discussion, getting the staff officers to concur, and go into battle with high morale was too idealistic.


Regis suddenly noticed.


That he was under great pressure.


Such a situation wasn’t rare either.


With this in mind…


— Ah, it’s because I commanded the First Army before. The difference is too big.


Latreille’s subordinates were hardened soldiers who were ready to lay down their lives. They would readily die to defend their country.


Regis realized that his thinking was too idealistic.


He remembered what Altina said before, and cautioned himself:


“That’s how the local armies are.”






Regis sorted out his thoughts and proposed a battle plan.


【… The enemy thinks that Aroe Maroe City is the site of the decisive battle. We can deduce this since they committed their reserves here. I probably don’t need to say this, but mobilizing 10,000 soldiers will require massive funding and preparations. The Etruria Theocracy plans to win this battle and claim the south of the Belgaria Empire as their own territory for the long term.
— it’s easy to tell their intention to redraw the borders.】


【I won’t let them have their way!】


The staff officers nodded when they heard Altina say that.


So did Regis.


【… That’s right. So my proposal for this battle is not to defend the fort, but to engage them on the plains.】


【Ehhh?!】


The one surprised by that was Altina.


She and Regis heard from Inspector Frank what actually happened during the defense of Sembione.


It was retarded of Rockhoward to propose leaving the base— the one who said that was Regis himself.


The others were shocked too.


Including Rockhoward who lost because of such a plan some time ago.


【Sir Strategist is still young. Even if we have the advantage in numbers, it’s better for us to defend the fort. If not, we won’t be able to react if any unforeseen circumstance happens.】


— Like a fire accident?


It would be too uncouth to ask them that.


Regis nodded.


【… Why don’t we leave the responsibility of defending Aroe Maroe City to Lieutenant General Rockhoward’s Eighth Army?】


【What?!】


【… Didn’t you point out that we should defend our base, Lieutenant General Sir? Then it is only right to leave this responsibility to the unit most concerned about this issue.】


【Hmm… But when the evaluation for winning this battle happens, the Eighth Army will be criticized for just holding the fort, I can’t accept this proposal as a general.】


His concern was actually the evaluation after winning the battle.


Was this the right attitude as a soldier…


Or was this the epitome of selfishness…?


As expected, the focus point of this man is weird— Regis thought once again.


【… Please don’t worry. The arrogant Ministry of Military Affairs that mete out rewards and punishment based on rumours had been dissolved, and Her Highness, the Généralissime has taken over their responsibilities. She is a person who fully understands the importance of defending the fort in a battle like this. Isn’t that right, Madam Généralissime?】


【Hmm? You’re talking about me?】


She wasn’t used to being addressed as Madam Généralissime.


Altina nodded.


【Yes! Of course I understand! Holding the fort is very important.】


【You mean it is of the greatest importance?】


【Ehh? Probably… Ah, of course, holding the fort is of the greatest importance!】


She changed her tone when she saw Regis’ face.


After hearing Altina say that, Rockhoward’s face eased a little.


【If I will be evaluated fairly, then I can go into battle at ease. Please leave the responsibility of defending Aroe Maroe City to the Eighth Army! No matter how many enemies there are, we won’t let them take a single step in!】


Inspector Frank who was at the tail end of the Eighth Army’s staff officers seat smiled wryly.


Excluding the unreliable commander’s unit from the battlefield— he saw through Regis’ intent.


But this wasn’t just getting rid of the hassle.


He planned to allocate more troops on defending the fort.


If they were attacked from behind when they leave the base to engage the enemy, their morale would be affected, which would lead to confusion.


It was a scheme Regis often used— and if the enemy commander was capable too, they would do the same thing.


Regis wasn’t the only one who would use unexpected tactics, so he had to wary of the enemy doing so too.


For the sake of the troops’ morale, it was worth it to assign 20,000 men to the defence of Aroe Maroe City.


Dorval asked worriedly:


【In that case, we will have to fight the enemy of 30,000 with less than 30,000 men on our side…?】


【… That’s true in terms of numbers.】


【Isn’t that too reckless?】


【… The Imperial soldiers are elites. We have similar numbers, so it’s hard to imagine us losing to the theocracy army with reserves mixed in. And the Sixth Army has gotten plenty of rest.】


【No no, we actually have a lot of wounded, so just resting for a week or two wouldn’t be enough.】


【… I understand. Then, the Fourth Army will stay in front, while the Sixth Army will be at the back.】


Regis placed a red chess piece and a yellow chess piece on the map.


The red piece representing the Fourth Army was in front.


The yellow Sixth Army was behind.


【Hmm.】


Dorval looked troubled, but it was common knowledge that the Belgarian empire ‘would never lose in a fight with equal numbers’.


And the facts did show that the Imperial Army had rarely lost any battles when the forces were equally matched.


Altina puffed her chest out.


【The Fourth Army is strong enough that we wouldn’t lose even if the opponent is the first army! It will be a piece of cake!】


【… That’s right. The Sixth Army might not have the chance to fight at all, but do stay on your toes.】


Dorval continued to think about it.


【In that case, it will be fine too.】


He didn’t want to offend the Généralissime if he resisted taking to the field too hard— That was probably what he thought.


Dorval nodded reluctantly.






The next morning—


It was a plain with no end in sight.


The morning sun casted long shadows from the city.


The Fourth Army formed up at the edge of the shadow, about 50Ar (3573m) to the west of Aroe Maroe City.


They were positioned horizontally to face the enemy coming from the south.


To the left of the unit was a wide river.


The Sixth Army commanded by Lieutenant General Dorval was deployed behind the Fourth Army.


As they weren’t at the very frontlines, the veterans of the Sixth Army were all very laxed.


Behind them—


Further to the north, there was a large pond.


Before them was the enemy, to the right was the river, to their left was Aroe Maroe City, and to their backs was the pond— that was how they were positioned.


Typeset by: Hiiro74


Fourth Army headquarters.


Altina was riding on a horse.


Regis was mounted on a horse and standing to the side— although Eric was the one holding the reigns.


Regis couldn’t ride a horse, but he couldn’t keep riding together with the commander. He also needed to make a show of it at times.


Eddie came.


【Yo Regis. We are neither too near nor far from the city, aren’t we?】


【… That’s right.】


【Our artillery won’t reach, but they can still see the battle clearly. Is the fort a part of the battlefield? Or is this place just a bit close to the city, so they should concentrate on the battle on the plains?】


【… It will be a success if the enemy commander notices that.】


【Oh—? So it’s fine either way?】


【… This is a battle on the plains.】


He didn’t plan for the 20,000 troops of the Eighth Army that were defending Aroe Maroe City to attack. Regis couldn’t ignore their existence, but he didn’t need to account for them in his plan.


Regis explained:


【… There is no point in adding in troops that can’t coordinate with us. It’s better for them to defend the base.】


【That’s unexpected. Regis thinks the Dorval of the Sixth Army is more useful than Rockhoward from the Eighth Army.】


【… Yes.】


【But the Sixth Army probably won’t cooperate either. They don’t like to jog around.】


【… The bulk of the Sixth Army are veterans with plenty of experience. They should be quite capable in a fight.】


According to the military records, they had quite a number of engagements.


But their losses were minimal, which proved their excellent command structure and tenacity as a unit.
Eddie shrugged.


【But fighting spirit is the most important thing, right? Those guys pushed all the fighting to the Fourth Army.


【… That’s true, it’s about time to get them motivated. After all, defending the south is the responsibility of the Sixth Army.】


【You have a plan? Like giving them bonuses?】


【… Unfortunately, even after becoming the Office of the Généralissime, this unit is still poor. Most of the armies in the Belgarian Empire are funded by the nobles themselves. And we don’t have that much money.】


Altina’s mother was also a commoner. Although she was a royal, she didn’t have access to much funds either.


Just the Fourth Army alone had 8,000 men.


If you include the guards working in the 《Office of the Généralissime Administration Building》 in the capital, the unit despatched to the east and the defenders left in Fort Volks, they numbered over 20,000 men.


And the Seventh Army might be rostered under their command too.


The Sixth and Eighth Army might be assigned under Altina’s command too, so their numbers would grow to 70,000.


They also need to consider other expenses too.


Regis’ face turned pale just thinking about it.


【… Ughhh… We are really running out of money.】


【H-Hey.】


【… Ah, it’s fine. Even without money, I have a thousand ways to spur motivation from the soldiers.】


A messenger ran over.


And got down on one knee before Altina.


【The enemy is heading right for us!】


She nodded.


【Just as Regis thought!】


【… Well, this isn’t strictly a ‘prediction’, but an ‘inevitability’.】


Is that really true? Eric asked.


【Actually, I’m a little worried… The enemy might not come at us, but head for Aroe Maroe City instead.】


【… In that case, we will win if we strike the back of the Etruria Theocracy army, right?】


The front of a unit might be strong, but their rear and side would usually be weak.


How could they make the retarded mistake of exposing their rear to the main forces of the Belgarian Army? The enemy commander definitely understood such common sense.


Things were going well.


Eric pondered.


【When fighting alone, if an enemy attack from the side, the only choice is to turn and engage.】


【… If they expect the enemy to attack from the side and plan for it, that won’t be too much of a hassle. It’s the unexpected turn of events that gets you.】


【Hmm?】


Eric didn’t participate in many battles involving many large units.


And his unit had never been attacked from the flanks or the rear. Soldiers who experienced that and survive were either extremely lucky, or possess exceptional prowess.


Regis pointed to the back.


【… Let’s make an assumption. Let’s say the Sixth Army is attacked from behind. Well, behind them is a lake, so that will never happen.】


And of course, he already checked the lake before deploying the troops.


Eric tilted his head.


【In such a situation, the Sixth Army will need to turn around and engage the enemy right?】


【At the same time, the enemy before us will also attack. There are 30,000 enemy soldiers before them, and an unknown number to their rear. How many people should turn and engage the enemy?】


【Hmm—… How about half of the Sixth Army positioned at the back, 10,000 of them engaging the enemy?】


【… Conveying such an order will take 5 minutes. During this time, there will be soldiers who turn back or move forth on their own… They would be soldiers who panic and mess up the formation after seeing the enemy attack. How many troops will be lost before they regain order?】


【Hmmm… then we should decide ahead of time on what to do if the enemy attacks our flank.】


【Yes, you are right. With enough training, the soldiers won’t panic even in the face of a surprise attack. Alright, let’s put it all together then. Look around you.】


【Yes.】


This was the center of the Fourth Army, and soldiers in tidy formation were all around them.


As this was near the headquarters, the troops were formed up neatly as if they were measured with a ruler.


Eric tilted his head, and Regis said:


【… See the distance between each of them, they are almost standing shoulder to shoulder right? Like I mentioned before, if there are gaps in the formation, a soldier will need to face two or three enemies at once.】


【Ah, that’s right! Infantry has to form tight formations.】


【Yes… A tighter formation is stronger, which will give an advantage in numbers locally. Alright, regarding the issue of a surprise attack. What if we let this unit turn to one side?】


【Ahh?!】


When humans walk, their arms and legs would swing. They couldn’t move shoulder to shoulder, so they need space to their front and back.


It was difficult for a unit to turn in a certain direction.


Regis added:


【And of course, we have been conducting training to change our formation… But it is impossible to switch our direction so swiftly in battle. Do you know how much time is needed to reorganize the formation of 10,000 men?】


【It’s exactly as you say!】


【… No matter what, the soldier’s morale will plummet if they are attacked from the flanks or the rear. The fault will lie with the tactics of the commander. Troops that had lost their will to fight can never win.】


Morale was important.






【The enemy is only 4 Ar (286m) away!】


When he heard what the messenger said, Regis raised a hand.


【Your Highness!】


Altina thrust her giant sword into the sky.


【Rifle team, fire!!】




The soldiers at the front rank lifted their brand new rifles. It was the rifle Latreille once showed Regis.


It was the new Belgarian made rifle, the 《Fusil 851》.


Compared to the prototype, its design was simpler, the gun was longer and lighter on the whole.


On Altina orders, bugles were sounded.


The captain of the rifle team shouted:


【Fire!!】


The soldiers holding the new rifles pulled their triggers.


The stopper mechanism was released, and spring-loaded hammer hit the firing pin into the chamber.


The firing pin pierced the firing cap behind the paper bullet, and created a spark. The gunpowder caught fire, and created an explosion.


At this moment, the air that would normally be vented from the spring hammer mechanism was stopped by the rubber ring. Hence, the 《Fusil 851》 was more powerful than the rifles of other nations.


The bullet at the tip of the shell casing spun along the grooves inside the barrel and flew out.


The order to fire was given at 4 Ar (286m), but this was only done to ease in the soldiers who were used to the old muskets.


In fact, the 《Fusil 851》 rifle’s effective range was 14 Ar (1000m).


Bang bang bang! The gunshots overlapped each other.


Numerous bullets flew out.


Splat splat splat, the soldiers of the Etruria Theocracy fell one by one. They were hit at a distance where their faces weren’t even discernible. It was more powerful than muskets and easier to reload. Another round could be loaded in no time.


The battle report was sent to the headquarters swiftly.


【The rifle team fell one hundred enemy soldiers!】


Uwah! The staff officers cheered.


Altina also nodded.


【Well done!】


【… That’s right.】


Regis forced himself to calm down and think.


The new 《Fusil 851》 rifle was sent to the Fourth Army just three days ago, and there were just 200 of them.


The rifle team at the first rank had been preparing for a long time, but they were still a team put together hastily.


— It’s impressive for them to reach 50% accuracy at such a distance.


After adequate training, they would be able to hit with high accuracy at the intended distance of 14 Ar (1000m).


If they excluded incompetent examples like Regis.


Shortly after, reports that the 【Etruria army has started to charge!】 was received.


At this distance, they will engage the enemy between a minute and a half to two minutes.


If it were the old muskets, even well-trained soldiers could fire just one more shot… But the new rifles could fire four more times.


However, even with four more shots, they could only take down around 400 more soldiers. Even with the new rifles, two hundred of them weren’t enough to affect the grand scheme of things.


— At least 2,000 rifles are needed for it to be effective here.


【This is enough for the experiment. Pull the rifle team back.】


【Understood! Pull back the rifle team!】


The bugle soldier blew a different tune.


The rifle team at the first rank should be withdrawing to the back.


— I’m overstepping my authority again.


This was turning gradually into the custom of the Fourth Army.


Before the battle, Regis will give advice and Altina will issue an order. The messenger will then be despatched, and the bugles sounded.


But once battle has started, Regis’ words would be executed directly as an order.


After all, if they follow the due process, many soldiers would be hurt because of this delay.


And Altina wished more than anyone else for the orders to be relayed quickly.


【Regis! It’s starting!】


She shouted.


【Yes… I see it.】


No matter how many times he saw it, his heart would be filled with bitterness and discomfort.


The Etruria Theocracy charged in, and the Fourth Army engaged them.


Many men were shouting.


Lances were thrust forth.


Their killing intent clashed.


Many people were stabbed, bled and died.


Regis raised a hand.


The deafening roars at the front ranks drown out all messages. But this order had been issued beforehand, and the bugles sounded out loudly.


The frontlines of the Belgarian Fourth Army started to split.






The unit split into two from the middle, just like cheese breaking in half.


The Etruria army charge right in, like a hot knife cutting through butter.


They were moving with such momentum that they could very well reach the headquarters.


Regis sat on Eric’s horse.


【Uwahh… s-slow down a little.】


【We will get caught!】


【Then don’t gallop too fast.】


He was ignored.


As the shaking was too intense, Regis was almost thrown off a few times.


— I will definitely die if I fell off the horse, right?


He started imagining what the world after death would be like. There probably weren’t any books in heaven. The thought of that spurred his courage to do live on.


He couldn’t die before reading that book. Be it a part of an incomplete series, or new works slated for release.


Eric shouted:


【Sir Regis, the unit to our rear is being attacked!】


【Please hurry!】


That was all he could say.


He suddenly realized.


The girl with vermillion hair and her horse that should be in front of him was gone.


【… Where’s Altina?!】


【Ehh?! Ahh?!】


He calmed down and searched, and heard her voice from behind.


She was swinging her sword.


【Hyyyaaaa——!!】


It was unbelievable. As a royal, a Généralissime and the commander-in-chief, she was engaging the enemy at the rear of the retreating unit.


She wielded her giant sword with both hands.


【I won’t let you get your way!】


Her attack from the back of her horse broke all of the enemy’s spears.


Judging from this battle, she had gotten even stronger.


She used to judge that Latreille was better than her in swordsmanship, and Jerome on a horse with a lance was stronger than her.


But how would the current Altina fare against them?


Wielding the giant sword as if it was a normal one, such a scene felt as unreal as a B-grade play.


She was swift.


And that was enough to exert overwhelming power.


Even if the enemy’s quality wasn’t high, this was enough to show how strong Altina was.


The Belgarian soldier around her regained their morale.


【Don’t let the enemy near the Princess!】【Hit them back!】【Let them see the tenacity of the Empire!】


Regis was flustered.


— It will be troubling if you all work too hard!


【Your Highness!】


He shouted.


Her hearing was acute even in this messy battle. When she noticed him, she reorganized the unit as she slowly backed away to headquarters.


【Regis, are you alright?!】


【I think my lifespan has been cut. What are you doing at the back?!】


【I can’t abandon our fellow soldiers who are in a pinch!】


【… But that’s our plan.】


The Fourth Army splitting into two was part of the plan.


The Etruria Theocracy army had already broken through.


The headquarters had gotten away. The soldiers of the Fourth Army had also separated to the left and right.


And in front of the enemy—


Was the Sixth Army.






For an army of 10,000, the distance between ranks would be very long.


When the front ranks engaged the enemy, the rear ranks could get rather boring. They could still hear the battle cries, screams and clashing of weapons, as well as the bloodthirst in the air too.


After becoming a veteran, one could sense that they wouldn’t be engaging the enemy anytime soon.


There didn’t seem to be any arrows or bullets flying over.


The soldiers of the Sixth Army had gotten used to the battlefield, and there were even some chatting idly with each other.


The atmosphere was similar to friends drinking coffee in the city.


【Ahh, you mean the restaurant in the corner of the city? No, the oil there isn’t good.】


【As I thought! I felt like taking a shit when I left there.】


【Why did you visit that place so many times?】


【Well, it became a habit before I knew it.】


【Don’t shit yourself here.】


They would be lectured if the officers heard them, so they kept their voices down. But there was still a few whose shoulders shook whilst snickering.


The sounds of battle in front of them were growing intense.


It seemed that the battle was getting heated.


A soldier said with an annoyed face:


【Since they are reputed to be heroes and elites, just let the Fourth Army fight by themselves.】


【Well, they have 8,000 men and cavalry, so they should be able to take out half of the Etruria army.】


【If they took on that many casualties, won’t they retreat?】


【You sure are optimistic—】


【Ahh—… I want to drink beer.】


【Or rather, I feel unmotivated without beer.】


【It’s hot.】


【Don’t say it, dumbass. You’ll make it feel even hotter.】


【Really? Then I’m going to keep saying it.】


【Shut up, jerkface, shut your mouth.】


【Hey, don’t be so loud, the platoon commander will hear us.】


【Haha… It’s fine, the sound from the front is much louder.】


【… Hey, isn’t it getting too loud?】


When one of them said that, the people around them all look shocked.


【It’s true.】


【It’s gradually getting louder…】


【Are they getting closer?】


They noticed something was amiss before the enemy got here.


The Fourth Army split to the left and right.


And the Etruria Theocracy army charged forth with their lances.


【Wahhhhh—!!】


【Huh?!】


The soldiers at the first rank of the Sixth Army screamed and backed away.


But behind them was an army of 20,000.


And behind the 20,000 soldiers was a vast lake.


Even if the soldiers in front could pull back, the entire army couldn’t withdraw.


A terrible report reached the headquarters of the Sixth Army.


【The Fourth Army has been defeated! The Etruria Theocracy army is heading right for us!!】


【What?!】


Dorval spat.


The staff officers stood up in shock.


【General, p-please retreat!】


【Retard!! There’s a lake behind us!】


They weren’t deployed near the lake at the start. But the soldiers who had grasped the situation backed away on their own, and the units at the back were almost pushed into the lake.


Even though the soldiers were lightly armoured, they would drown if they fell into the water. This was different from swimming in the lake during the summer.


The other staff officers said:


【Retrograde to the east!】


They were cut off to the west by the river, but to their east were plains. And if they moved a bit further, they would reach the fort.


Let’s go back to the fort and reorganize— such a consensus formed.


But they couldn’t do so.


【The path is blocked by the cavalry from the Fourth Army!】


When he heard this report, Dorval lashed out:


【What the hell are they doing?!】


【I don’t know either…】


He was just a messenger.


A staff officer suddenly realized:
【Speaking of which, that strategist was the one who deployed us as the reserves…】


Dorval stamped the ground violently.


【He planned for this right from the beginning!? That despicable brat!!】


No clear orders were issued out.


【The front ranks have engaged the enemy!】, the battle reports continued to pour in.


The chaos was about to cause a rout— there was such a possibility, but these weren’t weak soldiers.


They were regulars in the Belgaria Empire.


And the bulk of them were veterans.


When they saw the spears of the Etruria Theocracy army closing in on them, their expression changed.


【Go!!】


They braced their shields.


These were usually used for deflecting arrows, but the troops in the Sixth Army used them to cover half their body, and block the spears at an angle.
The spears slid away from the smooth wooden shields.


They slid upwards.


The momentum of the charge didn’t slow at all, and the distance between the two continued to close.


On the other hand, the Sixth Army preferred spears that were just slightly taller than them, which was considered short for this era.


The spears from the rear ranks thrust out at the approaching enemy from the gas between the shields.


【Hyahh!】


【Uwahh?!】


The Etruria soldiers who were about to draw their swords fell.


On the other hand, there were instances where the shield didn’t block the attack completely, and the soldiers were stabbed.


When the front ranks fell, the next rank would need to fill in the gaps immediately. But doing so without any preparations would just end up with the replacement being killed immediately.


The soldiers to the left and right need to keep the enemy in check and push them back.


Only then could the soldier use this chance to fill in the gap.


Even though the Sixth Army backed away because of the confusion in the beginning, they displayed a steady style of combat once they engaged the enemy.






Regis watched the battle unfold from his mount.


【… As expected of the Sixth Army made up of veterans. They reorganized themselves in no time.】


【They are really tough.】


Eric sighed as he watched the same scene.


【… After taking the first hit with their shields, they forced the fight to a stalemate. Those shield soldiers are incredible. They are just like an iron wall.】


Even though the Etruria Army’s charge was ferocious, the Sixth Army’s formation didn’t have any holes.


The Sixth Army’s front ranks held.
The way those bulky soldiers formed a line with their large shields were just like a wall.


【… Incredible. I have seen quite a number of units, but none of them have a formation as tough as them. In terms of prowess as infantry, they might be even better than the First Army.】


【There are no weak points at all!】


Eric commented in awe:


【… Normally, the first rank will retreat after tanking the enemy’s charge, leaving the next rank to hold the line. That was necessary to dissipate the momentum of the charge in stages. However, the Sixth Army didn’t relent at all, just like a steel wall.】


However, there was a lake behind them, which was why they couldn’t retreat…


But no matter what reasons there may be, it wasn’t a simple matter of fighting on a whim.


Every one of them was very capable.


And now, the Etruria army that charged in was the one in chaos.


The enemy front ranks they should have broken through were still holding, and forcing them to a standstill.


That led to the ranks behind them that were still charging crashing into their own front ranks.


It was hard to fight at full strength when you were squeezed by your own allies from behind. There were some who got pushed out of position, resulting in their formation breaking up.


As Regis wasn’t used to riding a horse, he couldn’t shrug. He thought calmly and said:


【… What are the platoon leaders of the Etruria Army doing? It is their responsibility to keep the formation in line, right?】


In the Belgaria Empire, even officers that were commoners had to learn to command ten to a hundred people in the Military Academy.
Which was equivalent to a squad leader or platoon commander.


Only nobles could learn how to command a thousand or more men, commoners had no chance to learn that.


Eric who was riding in front asked:


【Sir Regis, did you learn how to command 10,000 men before? I heard that exceptionally gifted commoners would also have the privilege of being instructed as potential staff officers.】


【… I had never received such training.】


【Ehh, that is surprising. So you only learned how to command a hundred men?】


【… No, not at all. I have never learned how to command units in the Military Academy.】


【Ehh?! But why?!】


【… After all, I couldn’t even ride a horse, so there was no point in teaching me all that.】


【Ahh…】


In the Belgarian Empire, commanders needed to be mounted on a horse to exercise their command. Leaving squad leaders aside, it was mandatory for platoon commanders in charge of a hundred men to learn horse riding.


His results in tactics were outstanding, but the instructors still told him mockingly to “practice riding a horse first”.


And the result of avoiding riding lessons and continuing to read led to such a result.


Regis raised the corners of his lips.


【… My aspiration was being an administrative officer in the rear. I wanted to perform administrative tasks and organize the logistics.】


His goal was actually to work in a military library.


Even now, he still yearns for it.


And after becoming the strategist for the Office of the Généralissime, that path was sealed.


— Farewell, my dream job of being surrounded by books


Altina’s voice pulled him back to reality.


【Regis! What should we do?!】


【… It’s about time to counterattack.】


The bugles sounded again.


The Fourth Army that had split to either side turned together.


This had been conveyed to the officers ahead of time, and the soldiers had been trained, so they formed up again in no time.


As the headquarters were in the eastern half, the orders were relayed to the western half through flags. Hence, the movements on the western half lagged behind a little.


It wasn’t a big issue.


【… If we were just fleeing to either side, the Etruria Army will pursue us. And when our backs are attacked, it will turn into a rout. However, the Sixth Army is in front of the enemy.】


Altina who was mounted on a horse beside him nodded.


【Because they couldn’t just ignore them.】


【… Well, that’s an army of 20,000, a few times larger than the Fourth Army fleeing to the side— no matter how you slice it, they are the ones that looked more like the main forces.】


The Etruria army didn’t neglect to deal with the biggest threat, so they didn’t change direction to attack the enemies to their sides.


The enemy still understood such a basic concept. That was why Regis could predict the policy behind their commands.


It was too easy to see through them.


And now, a new situation appeared on the battlefield.


The Sixth Army (20,000) with their backs to the lakes stopped the assault of the Etruria army (30,000).


The two halves of the Fourth Army (4,000 each) were facing the enemy’s flanks.


Altina swung her sword.


【Charge!!】


The Etruria army suffered serious losses on their flanks.


Regis bit his lips.


【… They are not pulling back huh.】


【Ehh?】


It was soft, but Eric still heard Regis’ mumbling. Regis said as if answering to himself.


【… When half surrounded, the easiest way to resolve this is for the entire unit to pull back. They can then decide which side they should focus their attack on. It’s not easy to command 30,000 men like this, but if they don’t do so, their flanks will be exposed to attacks.】


【That’s right.】


【… Most commanders can only order attacks or retreats. I think they should issue more complicated orders.】


【I have only seen bugles that can issue such a variety of orders in the Fourth Army.】


【… I think that should be the minimum standard.】


【“We are pulling back but not fleeing, and will be moving to the left and right instead”, is there a specific bugle tune for that?】


【… The ideal situation is to let the entire unit move as one entity.】


The situation was gradually improving.


The Etruria Army was in chaos because of the attack on their flanks.


Regis exhaled.


It appears that he didn’t need to do anything more.


He just needed to leave the rest to Altina and the other officers. It wouldn’t be long before the Etruria Theocracy army surrenders.


That was supposed to happen.


Altina turned around and said in surprise:


【Regis, something is happening!】


【… Ehh?】


When he heard her say that, Regis turned and looked too.


The headquarters were in the eastern half of the Fourth Army right now.


And a strange situation was happening at their rear.


He could see cavalry.


— Are they Belgarian!? No, the Flying Sparrow Knights should be deployed to the east of the Sixth Army, and they shouldn’t have moved.


Was it an ambush by the enemy?!


A messenger ran over.


【Our rear has been attacked, and our formation is in disarray!】


Regis almost fell off his horse.


A sneak attack?!


He felt as if his heart was being squeezed tightly by a devil.


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