Saturday, February 16, 2019

Altina the Sword Princess Volume 14 (2 of 5)

Chapter 2: Fort Bassetti
Translator: Skythewood
Editor: Hiiro

Hispania Empire General Freij Louis González was troubled.

【There won’t be any reinforcements?】

【His Majesty’s edict is “repel the enemy with the forces you have on hand”】

The young knight relaying the message bowed his head low.

— Even if you say that, it is impossible!

Freij cursed in his heart, but didn’t let it show on his face.

He didn’t know how the other countries were…

But in this nation, one’s conviction would greatly affect his reputation in society.

It didn’t matter how perfect one acted, if there was any question of his loyalty to the Monarch or his faith in God, he would lose his current standing in an instant.

Freij replied:

【Which means, His Majesty has full confidence in us.】

【Yes Sir!】

【His Majesty deemed that our forces are sufficient to defeat the Belgaria Empire.】

【That’s right.】

【I understand. I give thanks for the trust His Majesty placed on me. May God bless our army.】

【May God bless our army.】

The young knight put his hands together before his chest.

He then saluted and left the commander’s office.

Hah, Freij sighed. He pulled open the curtain partition in the room, and looked inside.

【Mariam… your guess is spot on again.】

There was a small table and chair inside, and a young girl moved a piece on a chessboard.


Her left hand held a piece as she wrote with a pen in her right hand on a paper.

『I heard everything, Dear Father.』

Mariam Louis Jiménez couldn’t speak.
<Sidenote, Louis is the family name of her father, and Jiménez is the family name of her mother. That is the naming convention in the Hispania Empire.>

She was born from a distinguished military family, and was beautiful. By right, she should undergo bridal training and marry early.

However, she was born mute.

Those who couldn’t sing the holy scriptures were considered ominous. If she was a commoner, she would have been abandoned as a baby.

However, she was the first child Freij had, and he was getting old, so she wasn’t abandoned.
Freij raised her in an inconspicuous mansion, and she managed to survive despite her handicap.

As an army general, Freij was seldom home, and his wife was busy with religious activities. Seeing her child born with a handicap, she devote herself even harder into her religion.

In the end, Mariam spent most of her time with her grandfather, a retired soldier.

Her grandfather was a famous general known as the modern 《War God》. He was a man who only talked about military subjects, but to Mariam, he was the world. She stayed with him until he died of old age.

Mariam wrote:

『Because His Majesty fears Belgaria’s steamships.』

As she learned to write from her grandfather, her handwriting resembled his.

Freij even wondered at times if his daughter was possessed by the spirit of her grandfather.

【Even if he fears the steamships, if Fort Bassetti falls, then Belgaria can attack the capital directly!】

『That’s right, and that’s when our opponent will show their weakness. Belgaria had to consider the situation in the future too. So they would want to take down the fort with minimal losses, and restrain themselves when attacking.』

【They bought cannons with them, won’t they use it to attack?】

『The north and southern roads are within range of our navy. They wouldn’t want to engage our navy in a shootout. The east is the sea, and the west is a dense forest.』

【Hmm… That means they will come through the forest.】

Freij concluded.

Mariam moved her pieces as she wrote:

『That’s what everyone will think, but the Belgaria commander won’t do that.』

【Why do you think so?】

『I understand the competency of the enemy commander from the previous battle. He is flexible and thorough in his thinking. This might be the work of the strategist though.』

Freij frowned as he thought about his defeat yesterday.

【I never thought that the Belgaria new cannons are that powerful. That’s beyond my imagination.】

『When the enemy saw our deployment on the battlefield, they didn’t change their formation or execute any countermeasures. It’s obvious they already had a plan.』

Sigh… Mariam sighed.

Her action resembled her grandfather, which made Freij feel complicated.

If he brought his daughter onto the battlefield, he could have avoided that complete failure.

However, Mariam was mute and lack stamina. She wasn’t trained as a soldier and couldn’t ride a horse. She could ride in a carriage when traveling on a road, it would be difficult for her to enter the forest.

【Enough about yesterday. What are your thoughts on today? Will they come from the west?】

『They won’t.』


Freij wasn’t retarded, he knew that the only route left was the main road.

They didn’t have any military vessels, so they wouldn’t attack by sea.

『Night raid. Belgaria will definitely attack at night.』

【Hmmm… I get it. I will get the troops ready.】

Freij pulled open the curtain and left the room—

And went out to the corridor.


A soldier standing by walked over immediately at his beckoning.


【It’s a night raid. Belgaria will definitely attack under the cover of darkness.】

Freij said decisively, as if it was his idea.

The young adjutant opened his eyes wide.

【Did Lady Mariam…】

【Hmm? Yes, that’s right.】

He could see the soldier looking relieved, but Freij didn’t admonish him.

Even when he heard the words—

【Ohh, the God child had spoken.】

— Freij stubbornly ignored it.
No matter what Mariam said, he was the one who issued the orders.

【Quickly! Light more torches, assign more night watchers to guard against night raids. Tell the navy admiral to be more vigilant.】

【Yes Sir!】

The adjutant then dashed off.

Freij also has his pride, and was unhappy about the nickname of being the “Message pigeon of the God child”.

However, the fort had 15,000 men, while the invading Belgaria army numbered 40,000.

He won’t have any reinforcement.

Now wasn’t the time to be headstrong.

Three nights later, they operation began—

The cloud was so dense that the moonlight couldn’t shine through.

The forest was pitch dark, and you couldn’t even see your own hand.

Belgaria soldiers suppressed their breathing. They were here since day time, and didn’t move at all.

Their surrounding was completely dark.

There was a sudden bang. It was the cannon boom that the Belgaria army used to signal the start of an operation.

The troops turned tense.

【It’s time.】

They used their glints in the darkness as they practiced.

The torches were lit.

The burning fire illuminated their surroundings.

Their primal fear had been eased, but they were afraid because of their rational logic.

Lighting torches in the dark would be very prominent, and get the attention of the Hispania fleet.

However, this was in the forest, and not the road, so they were out of cannon range.

But what if the fleet sail closer to the shore?

And of course, the guards in Fort Bassetti would notice too. It was outside cannon range, but what if they charge out of the fort?

There were less than ten people in the forest, not even one platoon.

—If the enemy attack, they were dead.

He was too terrified to even speak.

【Did that strategist think this through seriously?】

— That strategist was a mad man.

At the same time, a few soldiers rowing a boat was thinking the exact same thing.


They rowed out into the dark sea in a river boat, into the waters where the Hispania Empire’s fleet was.

The ships had lights to avoid running into each other.

As the ships’ position could be seen, their team could just avoid them…

However, there was no telling if a sharp eyed lookout would spot them, or the moonlight would shine through the gaps of the clouds.

There might even be keen eared sailors who could hear the oars.

The back of the troops on the boat were drenched in cold sweat.

From the sea, Fort Bassetti was as bright as a fire that attract moths. It wasn’t a city, but there was still a lot of people living there.

The bright light illuminated the area around it, as if they were on guard against night raid.

However, they did account for the possibility of a long war, and didn’t light any excess torches.

The cannon they heard earlier served as a starting signal.

Shortly after, two light appeared in the forest.

—What did that mean?

The strategist Regis d'Auric was seated at the very fore of the boat.

【Alright, this spot will do.】

When he heard what the strategist said, the squad leader gave the order to 【Stop.】

The soldiers couldn’t see the hand signals, and using whistles would be too loud and might draw the attention of the enemy vessel.

So the order to 【Stop】 was passed down the rowers one by one.

The strategist held a strange tool in his hand.

It wasn’t a rifle or a crossbow. There were notches carved on the tool.

【14, 5, 20, 3…】

His escort noted down the numbers he read. However, it wasn’t clear if he could read his words given how dark it was.

A soldier pointed at the land.

【There’s light.】

The initial cannon fire was followed by lights appearing in the forest. It wasn’t clear what that meant.

After that, there were lights on the roads too. They were soldiers holding torches charging towards Fort Bassetti.

【The vessels are moving!】

The soldier who shouted unwittingly were beaten up by others around him until he fell silent.

The Hispania Empire vessels slowly drifted towards the shore.

And opened fire.

They were smaller than the Belgaria warships, but their cannons still pack quite a punch.

The strategist nodded.

【… As I expected, compared to the 《40 Allen cannon》 we brought with us, they have further range. The decks of the warships are quite high too.】

The escort responsible for taking notes asked:

【Sir Regis, can we attack the fort without using torches?】

Regis pondered about it.

【… If the unit moved in complete darkness, it will be terrible if they collided and fell. It will be fine if the moon is bright, but that would give the enemy a clearer view too.】

【But that’s better than being bombarded by the ships’ cannons, right?】

【… Regrettably… if the fort shoots fire arrows, the naval fleet will know the Belgaria army’s position. Even if we forcefully attack in darkness, we will still be bombarded by the warships.】

【I see.】

The assault force would be bombarded one sidedly by the fleet before they even draw near, and suffer heavy losses.

The soldiers knew that very well…

And didn’t understand why they went out to sea in a small boat.

【Sir Regis, it’s getting dangerous.】

【… Alright then. I had seen enough, let’s go back.】

The squad leader ordered 【turned right】 to convey his instructions faster.

The soldiers onboard weren’t sailors, so they didn’t know the professional term like full right rudder.

They quickly sailed out of the waters filled with enemy vessels.

Was there any meaning in doing this?

【I don’t get it.】

— Even so, the strategist definitely had a plan. Definitely!

If they didn’t put their faith in this, it would turn into a grudge.

Was the strategist really mad?

It was a moonless night.

The soldiers ran towards Fort Bassetti with torches in hand.

And of course, the fleet opened fire at them.

They were off the mark in the beginning, but the shots were slowly getting closer.

It hit the troops.

Several people were sent flying, hit by debris and screamed.

Their bodies were torn into bits.

But they were still far from the fort.

Normally, no matter how ferocious the shelling they faced, the attackers had to assault with even more numbers to take the fort. They had to charge with more people than the defenders could kill.

However, only a hundred men received the orders to charge.

They wondered if there was any strategies, but before they even shot one arrow at the fort, the retreat bugle was sounded.

That strategist must be mad.

Freij pushed open the door and entered the room.

【Mariam, are you finally up!?】


His daughter was looking sleepily out the window. She was still sitting on her bed.

On the table at the side was breakfast that was placed there two hours ago.

She picked up a churro and started eating.

【Mmmh, mmhh.】

Freij said as he shook his hands:

【Don’t eat on the bed! Eat after you changed your clothes! And get off your bed!】


Mariam slowly got off the bed with the churro in her mouth.

She was wearing a pyjamas common in the Hispania Empire, a one piece dress that was thin and loose. It was worn by men and women by putting it over their heads, but there were no pants. The collar and sleeves could be adjusted in accordance to the change in temperature.

Mariam’s pyjamas had rolled up to her waist, exposing the lower half of her body.

Freij shielded his eyes with his hand.

She was already of marriageable age.

And had a very feminine body.

Hence, when she acted crudely without any shame befitting a maiden her age, her father felt uneasy about her future.

She then started taking off her pyjamas. It was troubling that she didn’t think of her father as a member of the opposite gender, and didn’t she feel any shame at all?

Freij started regretting that he dumped the responsibility of educating her to her grandfather.

— She was just like an eight year old boy.

Although she was already sixteen.

Mariam reached for her blouse unhappily. She prefer clothes without buttons, the type she could just pull over her head.

Freij said resignedly:

【Put on your underwear.】


She took pen, ink and paper from the side of the bed:

『Men don’t wear underwear.』

【You are a woman! And you are already old enough for marriage.】

『Father, you are too stubborn on tradition.』

【You are the one who lacks common sense! Enough, put on your clothes! You want to spend the day naked?!】

『An interesting proposition.』


Freij glared at his rebellious daughter.

She shrugged, and picked up her underwear.

She still had some shame in her, and turned around to cover her breasts like a bashful mimosa.

Freij wasn’t interested in watching his daughter change, and cast his gaze out the window.

【Last night, the Belgaria Empire finally attacked.】

After putting on her blouse, Mariam started writing with one hand.

『I’m mute, but I’m not deaf. The cannons are so loud that I couldn’t sleep.』

【Yes, that’s true.】

None of the soldiers in this fort slept properly.

『Any losses?』

【No, because the Belgaria army charged at us with torches in hand. We repelled them easily. The fleet cannons blew them away, and they retreated without even coming near the fort.】


Mariam fell into deep thought.

Freij glanced at her, then looked out the window again.

【Wear the bottom half too.】


【Hey, Mariam?】

She ignored what her father said, and started writing.

『The enemy is the elite of Belgaria. The Généralissime that defeated High Brittania. Wasting the lives of her men like this looks suspicious.』

【She will fail sometimes too. Our enemy is just human, not god.】

『Dear father, the commander should always consider the worst case scenario.』

【Hmm… No matter how I think about it, the Belgaria soldiers all died in vain. Our losses are just oil and ammunition.】

『Our supplies?』

【For something similar to last night, we can keep it up for a month.】

Freij suddenly thought of something.

Speaking of which…

【There are very few corpses on the road. Maybe the Belgaria forces are smaller than we expected.】

『Maybe it’s a feint night raid.』

Hah! He finally realized it.

【I get it! Belgaria’s plan is to attack with small numbers every night, and make us exhaust our ammunition!】


He was refuted by a single word from his daughter, which made Freij turn stiff.

He said through gritted teeth:

【How can you be so sure? It’s plausible, right】

『The troops won’t follow such a retarded strategy.』


Indeed, if the soldiers were ordered to charge to make the enemy expend their ammunition, there was no telling how the soldier who received such an order would react.

Retarded commands could only be executed forcefully once.

If they kept it up indefinitely, morale would plummet.

Mariam continued writing.

『The Belgaria army’s plan is still the same, like what we deduced a few days earlier. The situation didn’t change, so it’s expected— They want to take this fort with minimal losses. We can’t ignore this precondition.』

Charging to make the enemy waste ammunition was a battle of attrition that goes contrary to this plan.

Freij understood that.

However, he still couldn’t figure out his opponent’s intention.

【If they had a plan… it would be to make us numb to the danger. They want to make us relax by sending non-stop waves of fake night raids, and launch the real attack when we let our guard down. Is that it?】

『That’s much better than the joke earlier.』


He was speaking with his daughter, but he felt like a cadet in the Military Academy waiting for a trainer to grade his answer.

Freij ended the conversation.

He said with a wave of his hand:

【Well, in any case, we just need to be wary of a night raid. We won’t relax our vigilance either. So put on your skirt! And go to church, it’s almost time for mass.】


She wanted to continue writing, but put down her pen after a short pause. She sighed and picked up her skirt.

Freij turned around.

—Sigh, just what is my daughter thinking?

If she was really a “God child”, then God must have a hard time caring for this kid.

The way the father and daughter sighed really resemble each other.

The Belgaria Empire performed the night raid again and again. Aside from nights when the moon was clear without any clouds, they did so three times.

And on the fifth evening—

The commander of the infantry, Second Grade Combat Officer Balasko barged into headquarters with his face flushed.

【You want us to charge the fort tonight too?!】

Regis laid planks onto the floor, making the place into a large table. He then laid paper as big as a carpet onto it, strung them together with threads, and wrote numbers on it.

【Ah, don’t step there.】


Balasko took a step back.

But he was as aggressive as before.

【Sir Strategist! Please explain what is going on! My men didn’t train so hard to conduct such retarded night raids!】

【Of course.】

【If you think so too, then explain what your strategy is!】

Regis looked at Balasko.

And considered it.

【… There’s no need, we have moved on to the next stage.】

【You don’t trust me?!】

Regis stopped writing.

He looked at Balasko while squatting:

【… I think you are the one who doesn’t trust me.】

【Ah, no…】

Balasko took a step back.

He was the officer with the most years of experience under his belt. He had seen Regis’ strategies with his own eyes so far. He believes that Regis was a capable strategist.

He said tremblingly:

【B-But, sending the soldiers to their death without any explanation… I can’t take that anymore.】

Regis put down his pen.

He then stood up and looked at Balasko in the eye.

【… I’m sorry, but you have to tell them it’s the strategist’s orders. After all, the troops might get taken prisoner.】

【That’s true… I won’t tell my subordinates, so can you share the plan with me?】

【Hmm… but since you won’t be telling your men, then there’s no need to tell you about the plan, correct?】

【Ughh… I see.】

At this moment, the headquarters’ drapes were pulled open.

The one who entered was the young girl with vermillion hair— Altina.

She must have heard the conversation from outside. She looked briefly at Regis, then turned towards Balasko.

【You are dissatisfied about something?】

【Ah, no…】

【I know how you feel. But Regis is doing this for your sake.】

Balasko couldn’t stand it anymore:

【If it’s for my sake, then please tell me the plan!】

Altina admonished him:

【If you know the plan, and is faced with a situation where you have to send your men to certain death, your attitude towards them will change, right?】

【Ehh? That’s…】

【Right now, you don’t know what Regis is thinking— so you are on the same side as the troops. That’s what you tell them too, correct?】

Balasko nodded:

【You are right, Mdm.】

【But what if you learn of the plan? And you can’t tell them? Despite knowing the plan, you can only order them to move out without explaining anything to them. What do you think the troops would think of such an officer?】


He thought about how his subordinates would feel.

And fell silent.

Regis scratched his head.

【… You will reveal your attitude if you think that, which is the troubling part.】

Altina said to Regis with a similar tone:

【Don’t keep playing the role of the villain. Not everyone can conceal their emotions completely.】

Her actions felt really mature.

It was true that if people get too emotional, they would act irrationally.

Maybe I was too anxious— Regis thought.

When he realized the girl under his tutelage was teaching him, he felt a little surprised and moved.

The corner of Regis’ eased naturally.

【… Mdm Généralissime is right… Concealing the fact that there is even a plan is going too far.】

【That’s right.】

Balasko asked:

【As expected, all the night raids so far are a part of a grand scheme the strategist thought up, correct?】

Regis nodded.

Although he wanted to refute the term ‘thought up’.

However, he knew there was no point in saying he ‘has no confidence’.

【… Since I already told you, please keep it a secret. We can’t let the troops realize that everything they are doing is part of a scheme.】

Balasko nodded seriously and saluted:

【Yes Sir!】

His face was filled with resolve, and there wasn’t any doubt in his eyes.

Unfortunately, just this change in facial expression was enough to tell the troops that there was a plan.

Regis told him a part of the plan, and Balasko understood it despite being surprised.

He then left the headquarters.

Regis then looked down at the map.

【… Well, it’s time to advance the plan to the next stage.】

He disclosed some of the content, but the enemy shouldn’t have seen through this plan.

Altina flicked her hair.

【Then I will sleep for a while. It’s a night operation, right?】


Regis remembered what Clarice said.

He wanted to chat with her a little, but he couldn’t make any time for the two of them to be alone.

She waved her hand.

【I’m not a kid anymore, and I won’t get in Regis’ way.】

【… Is that so? Then will you stay in the headquarters tonight to issue commands?】

Altina said with a smile:

【I. Re. Fuse.】

That was the only thing that didn’t change— Regis shrugged.

Tonight was a new moon.

There was no moon light.

The cloud was so thick that the stars weren’t visible.

As if dark drapes had been pulled over the night sky.

The weather was on their side.

However, when Regis looked out at the sea—

He felt a chill down his spine.

【That light is…?!】

Up until yesterday, there was just the Hispania fleet there, with just enough light to stop them from colliding with each other.

There were six vessels in total.

However, it was different tonight.

The ocean was filled with lots of light, too many to count.

The enemy navy couldn’t have increased by ten folds. Then what was that?

Regis stood up.

At this moment, he could hear footsteps.

It was the soft clinking of light armour, someone was approaching in the dark. The lantern in the tent shone on the blonde hair of the visitor.

【Sir Regis!】

【Ah… Eric.】

Regis only knew who it was after hearing his voice. It was too dark after all. He could only see Eric’s face clearly as he got nearer.

Eric pointed at the sea urgently:

【There are lots of scouting vessels in the ocean! They had lit their torches and became wary of the situation around them!】


Regis’ heart skipped a bit.

—They saw through my plan?!

He felt his hands shaking.

The plan was finally ready after sacrificing so much…

He looked carefully at Fort Bassetti. In the pitch darkness, he could only see the torches that had been lit on the fort.

He couldn’t see anything else.

【… And the road!? Did they illuminate the road too?!】

【There are no abnormalities there. No reports had come in, so I’m not sure of the situation over there.】

— Should he abort the mission?

Regis gulped.

He looked towards Eric.

Eric was resting his rifle on the ground and kneeling on one knee. He was looking up and waiting for Regis to speak.

If the plan was seen through.

They might suffer catastrophic losses.

His head was a mess.

Regis squeezed out his voice.

【… The mission...】

At this moment, footsteps approached again.

The creaking sounded like an heavy infantry man carrying a cannon.

The figure of the vermillion haired crimson eyed girl was illuminated by the light from the oil lamp. On her back was the giant sword 《Grand Tonnerre Quatre》, which was taller than she was.

【It’s almost time, right?】


She opened her eyes wide at Regis’ feeble voice.

【What’s the matter, Regis?!】

【… They saw through our plan… No, but… if they did saw through it...】

Regis was so frantic that he couldn’t even speak in complete sentences.

Like she said, it was almost time to commence the operation.

Should they abort?

They could still inform the land units in time.

However, the naval units had already left.

Regis felt dizzy, staggered, and almost fell over.

Altina dashed over.

And grabbed his shoulder.

【Pull yourself together!】


【I believe in you, Regis!】

It was dim, but he could see her eyes from this distance.

There was a faint light shining in her crimson eyes.

Regis breathed in.

His chaotic thinking gradually cleared up.

【… I’m sorry.】

【Tell me what you are thinking.】

Regis looked out towards the sea.

【… Not just the Hispania Empire, every navy in the world has an independent command system that differs from the land forces. I can’t tell if the naval commander is scouting for enemies on his own initiative, or they are doing it in concert with the Fort Bassetti forces.】

【You can’t tell?】

Regis shook his head.

【… I can’t. No, it’s fine either way. While I’m hesitating if it’s A or B, I would overlook C. And in the end, there was no need to worry in the first place— that’s a common thing that happens in stories.】

Since the enemy had the means of sharing information internally, it didn’t matter who initiated it.

The sea surveillance had been increased.

There wasn’t any movement from the fort, but they must be on guard too.

【… Did they see through my plan?】


Seeing the frowning Altina, Regis shook his head:

【… If that is the case, they won’t be increasing the patrols at sea. They would execute a more effective countermeasures. They didn’t realized the plan, but the enemy knew that I’m scheming something out at sea.】

That was probably their gut feeling.

After all, if his opponent knew what his plan was, they wouldn’t be using such a method.

【Is it serious?】

【… Regrettably, it is very serious.】


She was troubled.

Regis needed to analyze things with a calm mind.

【… My plan is scheduled to start from the sea.】

Altina and Eric gaze out to the ocean.

They saw the lights of the fleet’s patrol vessels.

That was the only thing they saw.

【Where’s the deployment of our forces?】

【… We were planning to dump oil onto the sea and set it on fire. But from the looks of things, that wouldn’t be possible.】

【That’s true.】

Given how strong the enemy surveillance net was, such a task was impossible.

【… If I can’t execute the initial plan, the entire operation would have to be aborted.】

【How could it be...】

【Regis’ plan failed?!】

Altina and Eric looked shocked.

Regis asked himself:

Was his judgement correct? Was he confused or acting timid?

The battlefield was always tense, and filled with irrational uneasiness.

Despite all that, he still had to make a decision.

Eric asked:

【Should I send the message to abort the operation?】

Regis was about to nod, but he stopped himself.

【… No, I will do it.】

He had to take responsibility.

Altina pointed to the road, where the infantry was mustered and awaiting the signal to begin the operation.

【In that case, I’m responsible too. I will tell that to everyone.】

【… The one who failed is me.】

【And I’m the one who delegate the mission to you.】


【Let’s hurry up!】

She ended the argument and walked forward.

She had a heavy sword on her back that even a grown man would have trouble lifting, but her strides were as easy as ever.


However, she wasn’t someone who would stop if he called out to her. Regis had no choice but to chase after her.

Eric walked right beside him.

【Everybody will understand, Sir Regis.】

— Would they?

If the operation was aborted, those who were still alive would be forgiving.

But what about the dead?

The many soldiers who died in preparation of this plan, would they understand?

Regis felt nauseous, and covered his mouth.

He was too naive!

Where did he go wrong?

Did the enemy commander execute this countermeasure based on his instincts?

If that was so, then it was his mistake for giving them the time for them to act on their instincts.

【… This is my fault.】

At this point, Regis saw a fiery light from the corner of his eyes.

The light made him stop unconsciously.

The air was shaking.


The three of them looked out at the sea.

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