“There are ten total forts in our Western Front. These ten forts block all the conventional routes through the Grey Mountains. However….” Milton looked straight at Nelson’s eyes before continuing, “It’s not possible to block every single path through these rough mountains.”
Milton pointed to a part of the map as he spoke.
“That’s the Valley of the Winds.”
“Yes. The terrain is rough, and the road is narrow, but it’s possible to pass through. A fort just hasn’t been built there since the path is so narrow.”
“Right. Three different forts perform reconnaissance missions in that area. If some enemy does dare to cross that path, it’ll be easy to defeat them by raining arrows down on them from the top of the valley. There was no need to install a fortress with such advantageous terrain.”
“Yes, it’s an area that is so advantageous for us that there was no need for a fortress. However, that’s a blind spot.”
Milton pointed to the map while speaking with conviction.
“Normally, the Valley of the Winds is the worst possible path for the enemy to take, but that’s only when we’re aware of the enemy by regularly performing reconnaissance. However, the enemy has now started their offensive and we’ve only been focusing on the area surrounding our forts. Our scouting area has been reduced significantly.”
Nelson’s expression turned grave after hearing Milton’s words.
“You’re saying they plan on passing through that valley to attack our mainland?
“As you can see from the map, if they pass through the Valley of the Winds, they will arrive at the commerce city of Pratinos. It’s where over 70 percent of the supplies for the Western Front are located.”
Nelson’s eyes widened.
“Could it be… Were those bastards aiming for Pratinos from the beginning?”
“If the famine in the Hildess Republic is serious, they’ll be in for a rough winter even if their offensive is successful. However….”
“You’re saying if they attack Pratinos and manage to take our supplies and food, the situation would be reversed. Damn those dog bastards!”
Nelson screamed in fury. They thought they had locked all the doors, but the thieving bastards were trying to sneak in through the backdoor.
As Milton stated, Pratinos was a city with a lot of commerce. Taking advantage of that fact, 70 percent of the Western Front’s supplies were stored there. If they were to lose those supplies, they will be the ones to have a harsh winter instead.
"Send scouts toward the Valley of the Winds immediately. Have a look at their dynamics."
"Also, send messages to the other forts to scout the Valley of the Winds. This is an urgent matter."
The messengers busily moved after hearing the 1000-man commander’s orders.
A day later.
Nelson’s expression turned serious after getting the reports the messengers hastily brought back.
“Milton, the enemy is moving through the Valley of the Winds like you said they would. 2,000 men at that.”
“What should we do? Should we move the troops from the fort and seal off the Valley of the Winds?”
“I feel like it’s a bit late for that.”
“It probably is, huh?”
Nelson let out a sigh.
Currently, not a day went by that the enemy didn’t attack the fort. The purpose of these attacks wasn’t to bring down the fort, but to blind their enemies and inspect the surrounding area. The enemy would surely notice if some troops were moved out of the fort.
“The enemy will most likely attack us in the field as soon as we move our troops. If we happen to defeat those bastards somehow, the enemy soldiers moving through the Valley of the Winds will turn back.”
“The enemy will instead come attack our fort that’s been depleted of soldiers.”
“Yes. That’s exactly it.”
“They have us in a checkmate.”
Nelson made a somber expression. Even though the crisis was apparent, he couldn’t think of any way to react. No matter what they chose, the enemy had a card to respond to their actions.
‘What should we do? How do we minimize our losses as much as possible?’ Nelson thought.
Milton spoke after seeing Nelson in deep thoughts, “1000-man commander.”
“What is it? Perhaps….”
“I have an idea.”
Milton explained the solution he had thought.
Nelson spoke with great admiration after hearing the full explanation, "Milton Forest."
"Yes, 1000-man commander."
“You will proceed with the plan immediately. Since you came up with it, you’re the best man for the job.”
“But, I’m just a 100-man commander.”
“I’ll talk to the staff about the command system.”
“Understood. I’ll do my best.”
Milton moved immediately, while Nelson sent out messages in all directions.
The Western Front had started to get busy.
Milton’s predictions were spot on.
The Hildess Republic had come up with this plan to raid Strabus Kingdom’s supplies to get through the famine. First, they purposely moved 10,000 soldiers to show their intent to attack. Once they were ready, they attacked all the forts of the Western Front. If they showed such a wave of attacks, they knew their enemy would defend inside their fortress. Their prediction really came true.
All the mountain forts of the Strabus Kingdom firmly closed their doors and defended. It was no easy matter to bring down a defender’s fort in mountain warfare. It was hard to mobilize a large army and siege weapons were limited.
The only way to break through was to utilize individuals who have reached the Master level, but those superhumans rarely made an appearance in battle since they were a nation’s most important power. However, even if they couldn’t capture the forts, attacking the forts was more than enough to divert the forts’ attention and tie up their feet.
The Republic pretended to attack the fort, but in reality, they just increased the frequency of attacks and never put their all into any attack. The enemy commanders prioritized the conservation of troops over attacking the forts after having received orders to retreat if they were facing a losing battle.
The Hildess Republic took this time to secretly move 2,000 of their most elite soldiers through the Grey Mountains. The commerce city of Pratinos of the Strabus Kingdom would be a short distance away if they could use the Valley of the Winds to get past the Grey Mountains.
“Everything is going well so far.”
“Yes, it is, Captain Frederic.”
The man leading the soldiers of the Hildess Republic was a young man named Frederic. He looked to be in his late 20s. For him to be a captain at this age meant that he was very skilled. Actually, he was the person who formulated the strategy being used throughout the Grey Mountains right now. The speed of his career advancement was indicative of the skill he had.
The title of Captain could almost be said to be the pinnacle of a field officer. Even the Republic, which advocates freedom and equality, needed to use rank and titles to differentiate tasks and responsibilities. Since they founded their nation through the fires of war and struggle, it was natural for them to adopt ranks like a military nation. The titles were reminiscent of an army from earth, perhaps because the country was military in nature.
Roles and privileges were quite different.
At the peak was the Generalissimo and three Generals.  Standing at the pinnacle of the Republic, they made decisions on the great affairs of the state.
Underneath them were the Lieutenant Generals, Major Generals, and Brigadier Generals, high ranking officials who could exercise political power in the country. 
Colonels, Lieutenant Colonels, and Majors in turn held sway over the overall strategy and direction of war. They were deemed to be the practical commanders of the military.
The Captains, First Lieutenants, and Second Lieutenants were field officers who dictated the battles in person. The Second Lieutenants generally had the same level of public power as Knights in other countries. They were able exercise judicial power and pass on immediate judgement.
Below them were the minor officers, Master Sergeants, Sergeant First Class, and Staff Sergeants. Then there were the common soldiers such as Sergeants, Corporals, Private First Class, Private Second Class, and so on.
After graduating from the military officer training academy, Frederic started off as a Second Lieutenant before being promoted to a Captain in just five years. Though he had support behind the scenes, Frederic had enough accomplishments to justify his rapid advancement.
He just needed a few more achievements to be promoted to a Major and work in the capital. He would be able to work on war strategies that would move the whole nation, instead of working on operations that only affected a portion of the front lines.
‘I’ll need to make a major achievement on the front lines before I can do that.’
This operation was a masterpiece Frederic had conceived for his promotion.
Others worried when they heard of the famine that struck their country, but Frederic pondered about how to turn the situation into an opportunity. He came up with a plan to turn the disaster into an opportunity after thinking about it for several days.
Even after he came up with his plan, he made use of everything he could to get it approved by his superiors. Once he finally got the plan approved, he took control over the entire operation, and was now crossing the Grey Mountains.
He had to succeed in this operation no matter what. He also had the confidence to make the operation succeed.
‘After coming so far, we’re almost done. Once our troops get through the Valley of the Winds, we can consider the operation to be 90% complete.’
Frederic believed the enemy had completely fallen for his plan.
He was in constant communication with the troops attacking the forts, and each one of them reported that the forts were solely focused on defending. They reported that no enemy troops had ever left the vicinity.
‘Dumb bastards of the Strabus Kingdom, be drunk on the illusion of victory as you die.’
It was exhilarating to think that he was controlling a part of the war within the palm of his hand. However, Frederic had made one mistake. A competent commander would have weighed the success of the operation against the risk of failure.
However, Frederic has never tasted the bitterness of defeat in his young age. He was moving with the certainty that his plan would succeed. He never even thought about what the cost would be if the enemy caught onto his plan.
“Captain Frederic, there looks to be some obstacle the enemy has installed in front of us.”
“Yes. They blocked the passage with some trees and rocks. What should we do?”
Frederic didn’t worry too much about what his subordinate said.
‘This valley is normally a part of the scouting area for the Strabus Kingdom. It’s normal for there to be some obstacles.’
Frederic asked again after pondering for a moment.
“Is it enough to hinder our march?”
“No. It’s a bit inconvenient, but it’s not something we can’t climb over.”
“Then we’ll just go over it. We don’t want to waste time clearing it.”
The men of the Hildess Republic grew up playing in the mountains from an early age. They weren’t engaged in battle so aminor obstacle wouldn’t hinder their marching speed much at all. That was how all 2,000 soldiers went over the obstacle before…
Someone could be heard shouting from above the valley.
Ting Ting Ting Ting….
With the sound of bow strings being released, a storm of arrows started to fall from the sky.
“It’s the enemy!”
“Shields up! Block the arrows!”
“Listen to the orders…. Keuhhk!”
The 2,000 soldiers of the Hildess Republic fell into a great panic from the sudden attack. The one who panicked the most within those 2,000 men was the commander.
“An ambush? That doesn’t make sense….”
Never in his wildest dreams did Fredric expect there to be an ambush waiting for them at the Valley of the Winds.
That line of thought was natural, since he received reports just yesterday, that all troops of the Strabus Kingdom in the Grey Mountains were currently focused on defending their forts. The forts of the Strabus Kingdom in the Grey Mountains were being attacked for several days in a row now. There was no way they wouldn’t have detected some troops leaving the forts.
‘Then how did….’
Frederic fell into a panic as he was placed into a situation he didn’t expect. His head was full of question marks. He couldn’t quickly determine how to respond.
1. I’m using Generalissimo instead of President here to emphasize the Republic as a military nation. The Korean term used here was 총청, which could be used to mean President, Commander in Chief, Generalissimo, etc.
2. I don’t personally know much about military ranks but found this wiki page to translate between Korean and American military ranks. https://ko.wikibooks.org/wiki/%EA%B5%B0%EC%82%AC_%EC%98%81%EC%96%B4#%EA%B3%84%EA%B8%89