Saturday, February 9, 2019

Altina the Sword Princess Volume 14 (1 of 5)

Translator: Skythewood
Editor: Hiiro, Seir K



Recap


Regis d’Auric was a young soldier inept in swordplay and horsemanship, spending all his time reading. He was transferred to the borders, where he met a girl with vermillion hair and crimson eyes— Marie Quatre Argentina de Belgaria. Nickname, Altina.


Her mother was a commoner, and she was chased out of the palace for this. Despite being just fourteen, she was appointed the commander of a border regiment because of her status as a royal… She didn’t lament her fate resolving herself to change the Empire for the sake of the oppressed people.


「I want to become Empress, lend me your wisdom.」


In order to be acknowledged by others as a commander, Altina challenged the hero Jerome who was the de facto leader, and won.


Regis didn’t have any confidence in himself, but he still promised to be her strategist.


The two of them experienced a series of hardships.


The attack of the barbarians.


Assaulting the impregnable Fort Volks.


Traveling to the capital to attend the 《Founding Day Festival》…


While the Belgarian Empire was in turmoil caused by succession issues, a declaration of war came from the neighbouring High Brittania.


At the same time, the Varden Archduchy attacked Fort Volks as if they were working in concert, but the assault was crushed in just a single night. Following this, they aided the Seventh Army in their retreat from the 《Battle of Lafressange》.


To cut off the enemy’s supply line, Regis eliminated the High Brittania’s 《Queen’s Fleet》 as the acting admiral.


He then annihilated the supply unit led by the Mercenary King Gilbert, making the decisive move to cement the Empire’s victory.


At the same time— The Second Prince Latreille witnessed the Emperor indulging in lavish pleasures even though the Empire was on the brink. He could no longer hold back his rage, and swung his 《Arme Victoire Volonte》.


He covered up the fact that he committed regicide, and announced to the public that the Emperor passed away from old age.


During the battle to liberate the fortress city Grebauvar, Latreille saw Regis’ extraordinary command abilities, and decided to assassinate him judging him to be a great threat.


However, Regis managed to return to the capital with the aid of the Mercenary Band 《Renard Pendu》, and laid out political chess pieces in the dark. With the help of the book shop owner Carol, news reporter Claude, activist Bourgine and the Third Prince Bastian, a report on Prince Latreille committing regicide was published in the Weekly Quarry newspaper.


On the other hand, Altina couldn’t accept the obituary of Regis’ demise, and led her army to the capital.


The First Army renowned for being the strongest in the Empire, and the most decorated unit in the war that just ended, the Fourth Army. These two sides faced off against each other tensely on the outskirts of the capital.


At this crucial point, Regis finally reunited with Altina.


After negotiating with Latreille, civil war was averted.


Latreille was coronated as the Emperor, and bestowed the Staff of the Généralissime to Altina. He ordered her to send reinforcements to the southern war front that was going poorly.


After purging the generals who were more retarded and incompetent than Regis imagined, they finally managed to fortify the frontlines.


With the help of the Grand Noble Eleanor, they managed to send Elise back to High Brittania to take her rightful place as the new Queen, Elizabeth Victoria.


Regis entrusted the plans to improve the new rifles to her.


On the other hand, the curtains had been opened for a new battle for Altina.


Emperor Latreille ordered her to invade the Hispania Empire. That nation had been disguising their navy as pirates attacking the merchant ships from the surrounding countries. Regis was against hegemony, but he couldn’t ignore such criminal deeds either.


In order to bring them down, the 40,000 troops of the Fourth and Thirteenth Armies crossed the borders.


On a certain hill, they clashed with the 30,000 soldiers from Hispania.


The soldiers spread out into small groups using boulders and trees as cover.


However, Regis used the new cannons to blow away all obstacles destroying all the enemy’s hiding places. The surprised and now unprotected enemy was routed in the face of the new rifles of the Belgaria Empire.


Altina drew her sword.


【All units, advance!】
Prologue: Dominance

Belgaria Empire year 851, November 17th—

The sound of rifle reports echoed on the battlefield.

Altina’s Fourth Army was the first unit to train with rifles in the Empire.

They could maintain formation in live battle, reload quickly and shot with high accuracy.

【Fire!!】

The soldiers fired orderly like in training at the approaching, spread-out Hispania army,


But the enemy didn’t slow down.

【Charge!】
【Charge!】
【Charge!】

They were like moths to a flame.

Altina frowned on her horse karakara. Her side had the upper hand, but she still hated seeing people dying.

【Why aren’t they retreating?】

Regis who was standing beside her surveyed the same battlefield. But he couldn’t ride a horse, and was standing.

【… Given how spread out the troops are, it’s hard to relay the commander’s orders to everyone.】

【So spreading out is bad?】

【Yes, but that is just consequentialism— The Hispania army wanted to approach the Belgaria Army by using cover. Hence, compared to marching in formation, splitting into numerous groups would make them more agile and harder to attack with gunfire.】

【It seems that they never expect things to turn out this way.】
【… That’s right.】

Before the battle begun, the battlefield had a lot of cover ,boulders, trees and the like.

The opposing commander chose this place intentionally to minimize the effectiveness of the Belgaria Empire’s new rifles and cannons.

After all, if the field of vision was poor, the new rifle wouldn’t be able to make full use of its advantage of range and firepower.
However, this was within Regis’ expectations too.

After seeing the enemy spread out—

The Belgaria army’s new cannons, the 200 《40 Allen cannon》 pulverised all the covers on the battlefield leading to the Hispania soldiers reckless charge in this open and completely different battlefield.

Most of them didn’t even notice the flaw in their tactics, and got shot down by the rifles.

Altina looked shocked.

【Why aren’t they sounding the bugles to retreat?】

【… I think they already did. But the distance is too far, and the sound got drowned out by the nonstop gunshots.】

Although Regis was the one who ordered the Belgaria army to keep firing without any breaks in between.

【So our forces wouldn’t be able to hear the command from the bugles?】

【… Did anything like that ever happen to us?】
【I don’t think so.】


Their unit fought a battle with the rifles firing in unison before.
But they didn’t have any issue with the orders being relayed through bugles.

【… When the commander of the Belgaria army… which is you, issues an order, the bugles at the headquarters will be sounded. The bugles situated at various locations would echo the order to the frontlines. And of course, we would also send out messengers.】

【Oh, I see.】
【… Are you thinking that it is pointless to increase the number of bugles?】

【Because I never thought that the sound of the gunshots would muffle the bugles, I thought we just needed to increase the number of buglers proportionately to the increase in our soldiers.】

Altina scratched her head.

【… I see, I guess I didn’t make it clear, huh.】

Regis replied with a shrug.

He checked his pocket watch, then gave an order to the buglers.

It was a one-sided affair, but ammunition and stamina of the troops were still being depleted. It was almost time to switch out the front ranks.

A smoke signal had been raised behind the enemy; they realized that the bugles wouldn’t reach, and used a different method.

The order to retreat was late, but it was better than never.

Altina pointed to the enemy:
【The Hispaniards are fleeing!】

The correct terms to use on the battlefield was ‘retreat’ or ‘retrograde’.
However, the enemy was running in scattered groups without any semblance of formation.

As he looked at the battlefield Regis said:

【… The Hispania army was 30,000 in the beginning, but their numbers had dwindled to less than 20,000.】

【What a tragedy.】

Countless corpses littered the battlefield.

Regis said with a shiver:

【… As expected, rifles are scary.】

【That’s right.】

【… In the past, most casualties in battle were only wounded, and could return to their homes with their lives.】
【But it’s different in a war with rifles.】

【… Yes.】

He had fought several battles and braced himself, but it was still heart wrenching.

She asked seriously:

【But, we have to move forward. Isn’t that right, Regis?】

【… Yes, that’s right. No matter how great our ideals are, it would just be wishful-thinking if we don’t win the battle in front of us.】

Altina nodded.

She lifted up the 《Grand Tonnerre Quatre》.
【All units, ready!】

The knight corps formed up in the front.

The heavy infantry was right behind them.

The riflemen retreated to the back. However, they had another assignment: they traded their rifles for pikes and guarded the headquarters.

In this era, armies had already started fixing bayonets to the front of their rifles to fight in battles.

However, the bayonets were jammed into the muzzles of the rifles, so they couldn’t be fired.

The rifles were also too short, so the fourth army prepared pikes for them instead.

Altina swung her blade towards the enemy.

【All units, advance!】

The enemy was already routed.

It was no longer a battle, but since the enemy was fleeing instead of surrendering, they couldn’t let them off so easily.

After a pursuit and another 5,000 casualties, the battle concluded.

Chapter 1: Thirteenth Army

Evening—

Regis’ tent was near the headquarters.


An officer, a woman around 20 years of age with a fair face and shoulder-length brown hair, entered his abode with a textbook perfect salute.

【Strategist of the Généralissime Office, Sir Regis d'Auric! Second Grade Combat Officer Marion Alphonse de Barguesonne of the Thirteenth Army, reporting for duty.】

【Oh, hello… Sorry for summoning you to the headquarters, there’s just too much data.】

【It’s fine.】

Regis’ personal tent was filled with detailed documents of the surrounding areas, and the units.
Useful information needed to be available at headquarters after all.

During a battle, the headquarters was wherever Altina might be at.

Also, the number of officers visiting Regis’ tent had increased.

Recently, when referring to the headquarters, it included Regis’ tent.

【… Originally, I should be submitting the proposal, and the Généralissime would veto and issue the order.】

【Has the Généralissime turned in for the night?】
【No… She is probably practicing swordsmanship.】

【Sword practice?】

It was only natural for Marion to be shocked.

She was from the Seventh Army at the eastern war front. After the frontline there had stabilized, she was reassigned.

And now, she was a commander in the Thirteenth Army.

As she was just posted here, she still wasn’t used to Altina’s style of doing things.

Normal commanders wouldn’t conduct night sword practice when there was a battle in the day.

They would need to deal with the aftermath of the battle.

And rest after that had been done.

Regis showed a face of resignation.
【… This is already the era of rifles. I hope the Généralissime won’t rush onto the frontlines again.】

【You are right. But… my grandfather often said “No matter what era it is, you can’t neglect training with the spear.” “A commander who isn’t confident in their own abilities would hesitate during crucial moments.”】

Marion’s grandfather was the late Lieutenant General Barguesonne, a renowned general with years of experience under his belt.

In contrast, Regis would even hit his own knee when he wielded a sword, so his confidence was really low.

And he did hesitate when faced with an important decision.

In the end, he could only watch helplessly as his political enemy, Prince Latreille, became Emperor.

But he made a new resolution now.

【… How unpleasant.】
【Ah, erm, my apologies! I don’t mean that!】

【… It’s fine, that does sound like something Lieutenant General Barguesonne would say.】

【Thank you for your kind understanding.】

There was one thing that needed to be corrected— Altina didn’t practice her sword to build her mental strength and confidence. She believe wholeheartedly that she could win with a sword even if her enemies used a rifle.

She probably didn’t even think about tactics.

To avoid something like that from happening, a strategist would be needed.

Regis laid out a simplified map.

【… Well then, this would be the security zone for the Thirteenth Army tonight.】

【Yes.】

It was a plan for the unit to roster some of their men to watch over a designated area.

Marion said in surprise:

【We have to surveil such a big territory?】

【Our high performance rifles and cannons are not effective at night after all.】

Hence, the chance of an enemy night raid was higher.

There was a need to enhance security.

Marion nodded.

【I see… There are new countermeasures against new weapons… And a new plan would again be needed to deal with such.】

【… Yes, you are correct. The new rifles changed the way wars are fought, and we need to devise new tactics to go with this trend.】

【As expected of Sir Strategist.】

She looked at Regis with eyes filled with respect.

Regis scratched his head.

【… Well… Actually, anyone would realize it if they gave it a few thoughts.】

【This is the first time I see such a method of surveillance.】

The movement chart on the map looped back on itself several times.

【… Ahh, this is something from 《Perishia War Chronicles》. Most people who want to infiltrate a security perimeter would start going after a patrol went by. So by looping back from time to time, we could cover these loopholes and lower the chance of an enemy infiltration… Hmm?】

Marion looked confused.

【……】
【Ah, was my explanation too difficult?】

【No, it’s fine, I’m just wondering what 《Perishia War Chronicles》 is…? I’m ashamed to say that I’m ignorant about that.】

【I see— It’s a niche book after all, and wouldn’t be sold at the borders. But it’s interesting, so do give it a read. It should be available for retail in the capital.】

【Okay! Is it a battle chronicle? Or a strategy guide?】

Hmm? Regis tilted his head:

【It’s an entertainment novel.】

【……Huh?】

She got even more confused.

【Ah, but don’t look down on it. The author Mr Boisset worked as an army clerk for a long period of time, so the research is well done.】

【But, it’s an entertainment novel… Ah, are you cracking a joke, Sir Strategist?】

【I’m not!】

Regis did his best to explain how great that book was.



After that, Marion saluted and started to leave the tent.

It was already dark.
He couldn’t stop himself once he started talking about books. If the set up of the security network was delayed because of this, Regis would have no excuses if he lost his head over this.

He wiped away the cold sweat on his brows.

However, before Marion left, another person came to visit.
It was a woman with light colored hair, snow white skin and slender limbs. Just like a fairy from fairy tales.

As she was wearing a one piece dress that showed quite a bit of skin, it felt out of place on the battlefield. Even if this was an army camp, it was hard to imagine her being a mercenary.

She was Jessica, the deputy leader of the mercenary band 《Renard Pendu》. Her duties weren’t fighting on the frontlines, but strategizing and negotiating.

【Ara, are you in the middle of a war meeting?】

【We just finished.】

Regis answered.

Marion said in surprise:

【Sir Strategist, isn’t she a civilian? What is she doing here?】

Now that she mentioned it, they had never met yet, Regis thought.

《Renard Pendu》 was famous, but they weren’t a part of the Fourth Army, and numbered less than a thousand.

Hence, their deputy band leader wouldn’t be summoned to take part in a war conference in the first place.

Jessica didn’t like places with so many people anyway.

She chuckled with a wry smile:

【Lord Auric, she seems to be misunderstanding something.】

【… What?】

【She probably thinks that I’m a harlot you have hired.】

Regis spit in shock.

Marion’s face turned beet red:

【I-I didn’t think that far! I-I just saw your attire that didn’t fit the battlefield and… and…】

Jessica’s guess seemed to be spot on.

Regis said with a blushed face.

【No no no… there’s no way she is...】

Jessica intentionally flicked her hair. Her beautiful hair and pale nape looked really alluring.

【Ara… is that what you think… Looks like I have to claim the payment that I deserve from Lord Auric.】

【I had never thought of you in such a way.】

【Really? Didn’t you tell me I was beautiful before?】

【Hey…?!】

That was true, but the way she put it made it really easy to misunderstand.

Marion’s face turned gloomy as she started mumbling:

【… Leaving jerks like the Black Knight aside… to think that even the Strategist called pretty girls to the battlefield.】

He had to clear up this misunderstanding quickly.

Regis sighed and said:

【Ms Jessica, it’s mean to tease an upstanding soldier.】

【Fufu… She just had such an interesting expression when she saw me.】

Marion glared at her:

【Who exactly are you?】

Jessica who was usually elegant acted very provocative today for some reason. She said with a faint smile:

【I’m the deputy leader of the 《Renard Pendu》 mercenary band, Jessica Schweinzeberg. As an officer, it’s better for you to not judge a book by its cover.】



【Tch… Even if you are a mercenary, this is still an Imperial War Camp, so watch your attire.】

Jessica and Marion glared at each other.

Why did things turn out this way?

Regis’ stomach started to ache.

【… Erm, Second Grade Combat Officer Marion, I will leave the command of the security perimeter to you. Ms Jessica, how can I help you?】

Marion finally remembered she had work to do, and said with a salute:

【I will take my leave then! I will make haste and complete my assignment!】

She ran off in a hurry.

Jessica who was left behind shrugged.

【As expected of someone from the boondocks.】

【… I’m surprised that you are bothered by her so much.】

【Because that little girl— looked down on entertainment novels.】

【You even heard that.】

Jessica was actually a heavy book addict, a fellow book lover like Regis.

She wouldn’t recommend books to the people around her, but she would still simmer in anger if anyone disparaged a book she liked.

【How dare she belittle the masterpiece of Boisset without even reading it.】

【Well, it can’t be helped since she never read it.】

【Like I said, Lord Auric, boorish people like her won’t understand, so there’s no need to tell them about it.】

【… Alright. I’m not reading for the sake of earning people’s respect. I might get belittled, but since I mentioned it, she might read that book someday.】

【You are really…】

Jessica’s expression softened.

Regis said with an awkward smile:

【… Are you here to discuss books with me? I would be happy to oblige.】

She said resignedly:

【On the night just after a battle concluded? What mercenaries are interested in would be information of the big picture.】

【That’s true. Although it’s a pity, I just read a book I wanted to talk about.】

【Even though you are so tired?】

【I could still talk about it into the morning hours.】

【… Then talk all you want with the Généralissime.】

【Huh? Well, if I’d tell Altina about it, she would only fall asleep halfway. It’s about religion, so the content is a little difficult to understand.】


Regis answered Jessica, still eager to talk more about books.




【It’s a complete victory, right?】

After ushering Jessica into the tent, Regis took out two cups and poured water into them from a jug.

【… I think it’s just half a win. I wanted to force a surrender.】

【Where’s the enemy army?】

【The Hispania Army went back to their stronghold, the Bassetti fort. They have around 15,000 men left.】

Regis proffered her a cup.

Jessica took it and sat down.

【A splendid war accomplishment.】

After all, the Belgaria Empire’s Fourth Army and Thirteenth Army that numbered 20,000 each didn’t suffer any significant losses yet.

Regis took a sip of water.

She was sitting in the only chair in the room, so Regis had to sit on the bed.

【…Hispania is a naval nation. They only share a border with the Belgaria Empire, so their army isn’t strong.】

【Then why did they kept clashing against the Empire?】

【… One of the reason is their alliance with the Etruria Theocracy, which made it hard for the Empire to invade them. The unrest of the southern nobles is also another factor.】

【That’s true, we had only seized complete control recently.】

The southern nobles were originally the vassals of a small Kingdom. As they surrendered without a fight with the Empire, they were bestowed with peerage titles and continued their rule over their land.

However, there was an uprising.

And Lieutenant General Dorval of the Sixth Army took half a year to quash the rebellion.

【… More importantly, the Belgaria Empire had been stalling on expanding its territory. The previous Emperor wasn’t too enthusiastic on conquering new lands.】

They only invaded the land to the south to feed their ever growing population.

And if the small southern Kingdom didn’t submit to the Belgaria Empire, they would be subjugated by the Etruria Theocracy and the Hispania Empire.

Jessica nodded.

【The policies of Emperor Latreille will give plenty of work for us mercenaries.】

【… You said that the mercenary band is like your family, right? In a war, there would always be casualties. If it becomes peaceful, you won’t lose your family members, and everyone can find better work.】

【You think those guys can do other jobs?】

【… They are healthy enough to fight a war, so they definitely can learn another trade.】

【It will be great if that is true.】

She shrugged.

Jessica was dubious on the accuracy of his words, but she didn’t brush it off either. She still had some hope about it.

The topic returned to the war at hand.

【… Firstly, the enemy is defending the fort stubbornly with 15,000 troops, so we need to seize this Bassetti fort.】

【And what happens after that?】

【… I estimate the Hispania Empire to have an army of 50,000, maybe even more.】

【That’s unexpectedly large.】

【… They didn’t need to guard against other nations, so they could muster all their forces for a single battle. Another reason is that they could gather the forces spread out in the other cities quickly with their ships.】

Most of the ships in Hispania were small sail ships, but they were really convenient for travel near the shoreline. Faster than traveling by wagons.

The downside was the difficulty in sailing in them further from the shoreline due to their substandard seaworthiness.

Regis pointed to the map.

【……Fort Bassetti is located near the ocean. However, the battles we have fought so far happened in away from the sea.】

Regis went out to the sea before, but the unit only had experience fighting on land.

Jessica nodded after perusing the map.

【Even for small sail ships, we can still hit them at this range.】

【Yes. We have the new cannons on our side… However, we could only transport the mid sized cannons through the mountain range at the borders. On the other hand, the enemy’s vessels are outfitted with the large old type cannons.】

【We will lose in a shootout?】

【… Maybe.】

It would be hard to tell if they didn’t try.

However, it was very likely that they would suffer great casualties.

Regis scratched his head.

【… It would be great if we can defeat them in the sea.】

【Speaking of which, I heard your side captured steamships from High Brittania, correct?】

【Yes, vessel one has been dismantled for research, while vessel two is still operational.】

【Can it be deployed? If we can win in the sea, then the terrain would be advantageous to us instead. We can even force them to surrender without a fight.】

【… I think so too. However, the captured vessels are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Military Affairs, and is now owned by the First Army. Researching the steamship and training on its usage are both dependent on it, if the Imperial Navy loses this ship, and we would be twenty years behind in terms of technology. Emperor Latreille would probably not agree to this.】

Jessica smirked:

【How unexpectedly timid… Stowing things away so carefully and never ever utilizing items happen quite often too.】

【Well, it can’t be helped. Let’s look forward to the ships built by the Empire.】

【When can it be finished?】

【I heard it is already being tested in the water. As they are mechanized sail ships built by modifying an Athena Class ship, it could be deployed if it could move.】

【Then use that then.】

【Haha… Well, I already submitted a request, but they didn’t reply to me.】

Most of the Navy was under the control of the First Army.

If they had to fight against Latreille in the future, this might become an obstacle.

They had to avoid their communication with High Brittania from being cut off.

Regis needed to consider countermeasures early.

Jessica asked:

【Well, I understand the situation with the Hispania Empire. Have you thought up any tactics to deal with the enemy’s naval bombardment?】

【… No, I couldn’t come up with any schemes.】

【I see.】

Jessica knew what he meant.

Hahaha, Regis smiled awkwardly:

【… You heard of an old novel called 《Pueri and Roy》?】

【Never heard of that before. When was it published?】

【… About ten years before we were born.】

【Ara, I believe I never told you my age.】

【Speaking of which…】

Regis thought.

From her appearance, she was probably about his age, maybe a little older.

【Maybe I’m older than your mother?】

That was improbable.

However, he heard that Jessica was known as the “Magician”.

No, it couldn’t be.

Regis gave up.

【… Let’s drop the discussion about a woman’s age. That book is so old that it’s hard to purchase a copy.】

【That’s true. Maybe thirty years old books like that can be found in the Military Library?】

【… Actually, it’s sold in a normal book shop in Sembione city!】

【What?!】

The two of them talked about books as they exchanged military opinions.


The next day—
The Belgaria Imperial Army marched on fort Bassetti.

Altina rode on a horse with the headquarters unit.

On the other hand, Regis rode on a white carriage. He did so because he couldn’t ride a horse, and the desk inside let it serve as a mobile war room.

The maid Clarice sat opposite him.

【Sir Regis, your meeting ended really late last night.】

【… Ah, yes.】

【You were speaking with Ms Jessica, right?】

【… Well, I was discussing the coming war plans, and giving her the assignment of supply team escorts.】

【I see.】

【She is the strategist of a Mercenary band that had been through countless battles. Her opinions are very insightful.】

I see, Clarice nodded:

【So that’s how it is. I thought you two would definitely be talking passionately about books.】

Regis broke out in cold sweat.

【… You overheard?】

【Ara, I didn’t know it’s a secret.】

【Hahaha… Well, it’s still a war conference after all.】

It was still formally a war conference.

【My apologies. So for Sir Regis and Ms Jessica, it’s a secret… I see.】

【Why did you make it sound ambiguously towards the end?】

He seemed to have caused unnecessary misunderstanding again.

Clarice said quietly:

【I’m just kidding.】

【Ms Clarice, you are always like this… How troubling.】

【I wonder if the Princess will think this is a joke too?】

【Don’t!】

Clarice smiled cheerfully.

Regis knew she was just teasing, but it was still nerve wrecking.

There wasn’t any unsightly relationship between him and Jessica, but he didn’t want Altina to know that they were talking about books.

There wasn’t any need to hide it though…

Clarice added:

【Last night… The Princess was waiting for Regis to come the entire time.】

【Ehh, really!? She could have just summoned me.】



【It probably wasn’t anything urgent.】

That’s why she didn’t send anyone to get Regis.

It wasn’t urgent, and she probably just wants to chat with Regis.

Regis nodded:

【… Our forces didn’t suffer much losses, but we still finished a battle.】

He could understand why she wanted to be with somebody.

That was probably why Regis spoke with Jessica for so long.

Altina didn’t have any friends.

Normally, a noble lady would have some ladies-in-waiting with her. However, she went to war as a Généralissime instead of a Princess.

They couldn’t afford to bring court ladies with her for a strolling and chatting.

Altina’s handmaiden Clarice took on such a role.

【Sir Regis has a special place in the Princess’ heart. No one can replace you, not even me.】

【… Is that so?】

【You don’t need to be with her all the time, but it would be great if you can set aside some time to talk to her. And not just official matters either.】

【… I see.】

It sound strange, but there was still a need to make idle chatter.

After all, Altina didn’t want to invade another country in the first place, so it might be taking a huge toll on her mind. Regis needed to take that into consideration too.

Regis nodded:

【… Thank you, Clarice. You have always been a big help.】

【No, this isn’t anything much.】

【… But to me, it is a big help.】

【Is that so. Can I look forward to you returning the favor then?】

【Ehh? Returning the favor, huh…】

Regis became wary.

He had been tricked by her in such a way so many times already.

Clarice tilted her head.

【You can’t?】

【No… That’s fine, so what would you like?】

【I hope Regis can tell me one thing.】

【If it’s something I know.】

In response, she said quietly:

【Do you like?】

【Huh?】

【Do you like Ms Jessica?】

【… No.】

Regis fell into deep thought.

Jessica was a beauty, and had the same hobby of reading like him. Regis should be able to get along with her for a long time.

From her looks and personality, there might be some soldiers who had fallen heads over heels for her…

However, his conclusion remained the same.

【… She also has the right to choose.】

After all, Regis had zero confidence in his charms.

【Is that so? Even if she don’t reciprocate the love shown to her, it won’t affect the burning passion in one’s heart.】

【… Well, that’s true. A book that I can never buy will still be precious to me.】

【Or rather, you yearn for it even more because it is out of your reach.】

【… There are many stories like that too.】

【So, how does Sir Regis feel about Ms Jessica?】

Hmm, it was troubling.

If it was something recorded in books, he could write it out immediately, but Regis found it hard to talk about himself. After all, there wasn’t any books that listed Regis’ feelings.

【… I know she is a charming lady, but I don’t feel any urge to say I like her. Now that you mentioned it, I had never considered anything related to my love life.】

Regis answered with an awkward smile, and Clarice sighed:

【Sir Regis is the same as usual.】

【… Did I fail to meet your expectations?】

【Who knows? By the way, do you like the Princess?】

【Hahh?! W-Why are you asking that all of a sudden?!】

She started to chuckle.

Regis slid down his chair because of the unexpected question, and quickly adjusted his posture.

【… I have my own position to consider too, please allow me to not answer that question.】

【I understand. Fufufu… Let’s leave it at that for now.】

Clarice said happily.


Afternoon.

The Imperial Army marching on fort Bassetti started making camp.

A knight in dark red armour came to the headquarters tent and saluted:

【Flying Sparrow Knights commander, First Grade Combat Officer Abidal Evra, reporting.】

【Thank you for coming.】

Regis returned his salute.

Altina was already seated at the deepest end of the rectangular table.

【How’s your knight corps?】
Abidal Evra stood at attention and said:

【They are a little tired from the long journey, but the morale is high and everyone thirst to achieve war merits. After all, the riflemen has completely taken over the role as the queen of the battlefield.】

【That’s really reliable.】

【Some even mock themselves as the transportation knight corps… They are really eager to take part in battles other than pursuing routed enemies.】
【Ahaha… They will have the chance to do so.】

The consecutive victories had made everyone more relaxed.

All the key officers of the Fourth Army attended today’s meeting.
Eric who was Altina’s escort officer also stood behind her.

Armed with a rifle, he was famous as a rifleman in the Belgaria Imperial Army. He felt uneasy about it in the past, but Eric had now gotten used to it, and had a unique air about him.

The heavy infantry was commanded by Second Grade Combat Officer Balasko, an old guard from the Beilschmidt Regiment.

His hair was completely white and he was as old as Evrard, but if anyone dare call him old, he would beat them off in a training match so thoroughly that they wouldn’t be able to stand steadily. That was how stubborn he was, although it was a little childish too.

Balasko seemed unhappy.

【The knight corps don’t have it that bad. When the heavy infantry step into the battlefield, there’s just the enemy’s corpses left.】

The officers around him looked troubled when they heard the old soldier’s grumbles. And amongst them—

There was someone who laughed heartily.

He was a knight dressed in black armour.

【Isn’t it nice that we can relax?】

【Hmmp… Who are you?】

【Pardon me, I only linked up with the main unit recently. I’m the commander of the Black Knights, Third Grade Combat Officer Holger Orjes.】

He was an ex-mercenary that joined the Fourth Army after the fall of Fort Volks. He used to be a noble, and was capable of commanding a unit.

Balasko actually knew him.

But an old guard like him had a strong obsession towards the Black Knights.

An enemy of Fort Sierck becoming the knight commander wasn’t exactly happy news.

Balasko glared at him.

【For the troops in Belgaria Empire, honour is gained by defeating the enemy in combat. What’s the point of marching upon a mountain of corpses?】

【Honour… Honour huh. It’s very important. That’s what I use to think.】

【Ohh? Are you saying my thinking is outdated?】

【Fufufu… I just lack the guts. Surrounded by barbarians, stripped of horse and lances, and confined to a hole in a snowy mountain for a month. Anyone who experienced that would turn timid. I can only pray that that is the only time I fall for a strategy like that.】

【Ughh...】

After hearing Holger’s words, not just Balasko, the others also started to frown.

The one who came up with that strategy was no other than their strategist. The old guards still remember how the enemies died to Regis’ tactics.

I don’t want to meet my end like that— That was how everyone felt.

Sensing all their eyes were on him, Regis scratched his head:

【… I will try my best to not let everyone fall into a terrible situation like that. The enemy would put the utmost care to think up their strategies too, so I had to handle them cautiously.】

That’s right! Altina beside him nodded.

【Even if you triump yesterday, it doesn’t mean today’s victory is guaranteed— right? Regis said that before.】

【Haha… I wasn’t the one who said it.】

It was from a book— before he could say his cliche line, Altina changed the topic.

【By the way, he is really late! What is he doing?!】

The officer who should be attending this war conference didn’t show even though the scheduled time has passed.

Holger said with his head low:

【My apologies. As the Thirteenth Army is newly formed, there are many issues to attend to.】

【That can’t be helped… But that guy will get mad if others are late—】

【Haha, ha… that’s true.】

【Even though he is the first one to eat whenever there’s a celebration feast.】

【He probably get hungry easily.】

【I thought he was looking down on me in the past, but he just does whatever he wants.】

Altina pouted.

Well now… Regis soothed Altina.

He wasn’t an enemy, but she couldn’t stop talking when he comes to mind.

Documents were laid out on the table.
【… Let’s start from something simple.】

It was a large map that showed the entire Belgaria Empire.

The pieces used were large too.

Regis started by shifting the pieces from the capital to the east and north.
【… After Emperor Latreille reorganized the military, he sent them to the east and north. And also, our forces southward invasion.】

The piece that represented Altina’s army was placed inside the Hispania Empire, which was their current location.

【… As for the west, as the Navy is still rebuilding, there isn’t any offensive in that direction. Even so, the Empire is fighting on three fronts.】

From the grand scheme of things, this was a poor decision.

Fighting on two fronts was already a taboo, and yet they were fighting on three fronts.

Altina rest her cheeks on her palm.

【Can we win?】

【… We are at war with Langobalt Kingdom to the north. As we captured their king in the earlier battle, their king’s brother is commanding the army now. From the looks of things, it’s just a matter of time before the Empire wins.】

【Ehh? That’s unexpectedly straightforward.】

【… Well, the Langobalt army already lost their top generals and elite knight corps.】

【Aren’t you responsible for that?】

【No, it’s the Imperial First Army who did that.】

That was the official statement.

Well, never mind… Altina shrugged.

【And the east?】

【…There are many small nations to the east, and they formed an alliance centered around the Estaburg Kingdom in defiance of the Belgaria Empire.】

Shortly before this, there was a brief moment of peace when the late Emperor took his Sixth consort Johaprecia Octovia from the east.

【… As their First Prince died in an earlier battle, and the aged King is confined to bed, the Second Prince is running the show now. However, they are already negotiating the terms of surrender.】

Holger said in a tone as if he was discussing rumours:

【May I ask something? Did our strategist destroy the formidable Estaburg main forces without even stepping into the eastern front?】

【Huh? No… the battle is won by the combined effort of the Seventh Army and the Fourth Army detachment.】

【Fufufu… General Coignieres of the Seventh Army and my unit merely carried out the schemes in accordance to the strategist’s letter.】

【No no, your group are the one who chose the most effective strategy from the few I suggested… Or rather, the one who put it into action deserves more credit than the one who merely suggested the idea.】

Holger nodded:

【Since Sir Strategist said so, that must be true.】

【… Yes. Erm… Regarding the eastern front, shortly after the battle at the Estaburg Kingdom concluded, the Seven Nation Army and a part of the Fourth Army… which was actually a mixture of the former Second Army, the Black Knights and new recruits formed the Thirteenth Army and came to the southern war front.】

At this moment, someone entered the headquarters.

It was a knight in dark armour.

His angry roar blew the peaceful atmosphere away, making the place as tensed as a battlefield.

【Hey Regis! There’s not enough meat!】

He was the Black Knight, Jerome Jean de Beilschmidt.


Regis backed away.

【W-Wait… there should be adequate supply.】

【How many times do you want me to say this!? Troops that don’t eat meat won’t have the strength to fight. It’s pointless no matter how many trash you send to the battlefield, if they didn’t eat meat!】

It was mean to call them trash— but the truth was, the quality of the troops were substandard.

The Black Knights might be elites, but the others were either remnants of defeated regiments or fresh recruits. And they just finished a long march to get here.

Compared to losses from casualties, they lost more people to illness and desertion.

Leaving Jerome’s word choices aside, his idea made sense.
Regis gave up.
【… I will look into it.】

【Hmmp… If you can get it done, then do it before I yell at you!】

At this moment, another person ran in:

【Hahh… Hahh… Hahh… Why didn’t you wait for me?!】

It was Marion.

Jerome looked away annoyedly.

【Because you walk too slow.】

【It’s all because you didn’t come back even when it’s time for the war conference…!!】

She only remembered she was in the presence of the Généralissime after yelling that. Marion said with her head low:

【My sincere apologies. The commander and assistant commander of the Thirteenth Army reporting in.】

Jerome was appointed the commander of the Thirteenth Army.

And Marion was his deputy.

Altina smiled wryly:

【It seemed you are enjoying your new assignment, Jerome.】

【Ku, are you mocking me now that you are the Généralissime? Want to test if my skills have deteriorated?】

【How intriguing— I won’t run out of stamina this time.】

The two glared at each other.

Regis mediated:

【Let’s stop this, we still have a fort to attack.】

He said as he laid out a new map on the table.

It was a map of Fort Bassetti and the surrounding terrain.

Jerome grunted:

【Hmmp… You had gotten a little smarter. When the Princess and I stared at each other in the past, your face look so green that I thought you would faint.】

【… That’s true.】

It wasn’t that long ago either.

That was last year.

【You have more guts now. But just a little bit more.】

Is he praising me?
【… Although I didn’t want to be a soldier. I just want to be a librarian.】

Regis shook his head nostalgically, and places the pieces on the map.


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