Chapter 101: Difficult War Preparations (1)

King Bauchen spoke to Milton.

“As you might already know, Marquis, the only countries on this continent that shares a border with the Northern Republic is my country and your country, Lester Kingdom.”

“Yes, Your Majesty, I know that.”

“In other words, the other countries know that Republicanism is dangerous, but they have never actually felt how dangerous it is. Even if we might complain, we’ve endured and blocked the Republic’s attacks.”

At King Bauchen’s words, Milton thought to himself. 

‘Didn’t you get military aid from the neighboring countries in return?’

This wasn’t something that could be said out loud, but the Strabus Kingdom was only blocking the Republic because of their geographic location and not because they cared about other countries. Either way, Milton waited for King Bauchen to continue talking. 

“Perhaps it’s been too long for them, but it seems that other countries have forgotten their fears of Republicanism.”

Milton understood what he was saying. Before the civil war, the Lester Kingdom had been the same; the kingdom’s leaders had gone beyond relaxation due to peace and became indolent. But things were finally getting better now. They had realized the hidden dangers of peace and under Milton’s leadership, Lester Kingdom was paying more attention to defending the national borders. 

However, they had only done this after they had paid the painful price in the last war. More than half of the country had been devastated with more than 20 percent of the population dead and the capital on fire. Even though the Lester Kingdom had gone through a period of rebirth under the rule of Princess Leila, the damage and fears of the war remained in the hearts of the people. 

“Then, does that mean the other countries have no intention of putting in a lot of effort into this war, Your Majesty?”

King Bauchen nodded at Milton’s question.

“They’ll most likely show a pretense of fighting and wait until my country defeats the Republicans.”

Pretending to fight while putting no actual effort and gaining something. 

The size of the reinforcements that the other countries had reflected exactly what King Bauchen said. Excluding the 80,000 troops that Milton had brought from the Lester Kingdom, the total number of troops sent from all the other countries was 90,000. It was by no means a small number, but considering that it was the combined force of five different countries, it was a pathetically small number of troops. Three Republican countries had joined forces to create 250,000 troops. 

From the beginning, it was a difference in circumstances. While the Strabus Kingdom and the Lester Kingdom shared a border with the Republic and keenly felt their danger, the other countries who were farther away knew the Republic was dangerous but didn’t really understand how dangerous. It was as though the other countries were one step removed from fully understanding the dangers of Republicanism. 

‘Is it similar to how Korea dealt with the concept of terrorism and terrorist groups like IS?’

While they understand that it’s dangerous, because they haven’t personally been in danger, they fully don’t comprehend it. 

‘How annoying.’

Milton frowned but then remembered something.

“Now that I think about it, the reinforcements from the Andrews Empire weren't noted down. They haven’t arrived yet, Your Majesty?”

If the Empire sent reinforcements, the number of troops might increase a lot more. Seeing Milton grabbing onto that last hope, King Bauchen gave him a grim smile. 

“The Andrews Empire decided not to send reinforcements.”

“Are you serious, Your Majesty?”

Milton hoped he had heard wrong for a second but King Bauchen continued to speak with that grim smile. 

“It’s the truth. And there’s the possibility that they’re the reason behind the other countries sending so little reinforcements.”

Gloucester Kingdom, Stravin Kingdom, and Hereford Kingdom were all kingdoms under the shadow of the Andrews Empire. If the Empire had pressured them, then that influence would have been great. If that’s the case, then the question was why was the Andrews Empire refusing to send reinforcements to the Strabus Kingdom…

There was a very complex political relationship between the two of them. 

***

Just based on military power, the Strabus Kingdom was the second greatest country on the continent. Being the second greatest meant that at any moment in time, they might be able to surpass the ‘first’ greatest country. For the Andrews Empire, Strabus Kingdom was a useful shield against the Republic's invasion, but at the same time, they were a country that could potentially become a very difficult rival if they became too powerful. By saying they were keeping the Republics in the North in check, Strabus Kingdom had been able to strengthen their military power at will. And rather than restraining the Strabus Kingdom, other countries supported it. 

At first, Andrews Empire also felt this was only natural, but as time went on, they began to feel threatened. Some even thought that if you looked at the budget and the personnel that the Strabus Kingdom put into their military, then the military power of Strabus Kingdom might actually not be below Andrews Empire. Of course, this was still the opinion of the minority. The Andrews Empire was the only empire on this continent, and the authority and influence as the only empire was still very great. However, the majority agreed that they could not just watch as Strabus Kingdom’s military power continued to grow. 

[We must restrain the Strabus Kingdom.]

Although this wasn’t an official comment, when the emperor commented in a private and unofficial setting and the nobles of the kingdom agreed, it became an implicit agreement. But the question was, how could they restrain the Strabus Kingdom?

The Strabus Kingdom wasn’t a part of the Andrews Empire. It also wasn’t possible to increase the amount of tribute or hold a member of Strabus Kingdom’s royal family as a hostage in the guise of exchange. It was also difficult to pressure them using trade or military force. Between the Empire and the Strabus Kingdom was the Valence Kingdom and the Lester Kingdom and since the Strabus Kingdom didn’t directly share a border with them, they also couldn’t impose sanctions against them. In the end, the only option the Andrews Empire had was diplomatic pressure. 

[All the kingdoms of the continent are providing military support to the Strabus Kingdom. But, Strabus Kingdom still hasn’t been able to subdue the Republicans in the North and is busy only maintaining the current situation. As a country, we can’t help but question the intentions of Strabus Kingdom. We hope that you will create a force that is politically necessary in the North and act responsibly for the current situation in which you are accepting unlimited support from the other countries ] 

In short…

Do you know how much money you’ve been getting for military support? How can you still be fighting against the Republic? You’re not taking it easy on the Republic for political capital are you? If it’s not that, then either defeat the Republicans or stop asking for unlimited military reinforcement.

Instead of being effective, this kind of pressure from the Andrews Empire caused a tremendous reaction.

“Are they crazy?”

“We’re completely blocking out the Republicans for them and they think we’re doing it for political reasons?”

“Our country isn’t even a part of their empire so I don’t know what right they have to be saying such bullshit.”

Anytime Strabus Kingdom’s nobles gathered together, they complained about Andrew Empire’s arrogance and rudeness. It was reasonable that the people of Strabus Kingdom were disgusted by the Empire demanding that the Strabus Kingdom take responsibility instead of feeling grateful that they were blocking the Northern Republicans. But since the opponent was an Empire, Strabus Kingdom chose to ignore it instead of making an official response. However, this only further stimulated the national pride of the people.

“Why should we even have to listen to the Andrews Empire talking like this?”

“If they don’t like it, why don’t they come here and block the Republicans instead?”

“Exactly. Can’t the King just say that to the Emperor?”

“XX … Maybe he’s afraid of the Andrews Empire.”

“What’s there to be afraid of? It’s not like we’re lesser than them.”

The Anti-Andrews Empire sentiment shared amongst the nobles of the Strabus Kingdom spread to the ordinary citizens. Up until then, the relationship between the Andrews Empire and the Strabus Kingdom was…

That of a neighboring country that was far away.

That was it. The two countries had nothing to do with each other before, but with this, the relationship between the two of them deteriorated. 

In the Empire, Strabus Kingdom was like a dog that could bite its owner if it wasn’t tamed…

And the Strabus Kingdom said the Andrews Empire was a barbaric nation that didn’t know how to be grateful. 

This all happened about 30 years ago, and since then, the public sentiment in both countries has worsened. 

***

Milton had a rough understanding of what had happened between the Strabus Kingdom and the Andrews Empire. It was a famous example of what a failed diplomatic response was like that had been taught in the Academy’s cultural class. But maybe that was because it had been taught from a foreigner’s perspective? Milton certainly hadn’t expected their relationship would have deteriorated to this degree. 

‘Even still, I can’t believe they banned sending reinforcements in an all-out war with the Republic…’

The Andrews Empire probably thought that the Strabus Kingdom would win even if they didn’t send any reinforcements in this war. But, even if the Strabus Kingdom won, it wouldn’t be an easy win against the Republic; the Empire was probably hoping that the Republicans would tire the Strabus Kingdom out. The size of the Republican forces invading this time was estimated to be between 250,000 to 300,000. After hearing the news of the large invasion, the Andrews Empire was trying to use this opportunity to properly tame the Strabus Kingdom. 

‘So, we’re not getting any reinforcements from the Empire in the end? Then, the reinforcement troops combined is 170,000. And Strabus’s forces are about 300,000-400,000…’

Milton did the complicated calculation in his head. And the conclusion he came to was…

‘It’s not enough. It’s different from my expectations.’

King Bauchen spoke to Milton who was frowning. 

“Truthfully, I didn’t expect much from Lester Kingdom’s reinforcements. But… since our situations are the same, it’s definitely different from others. I can’t believe that the renowned general Marquis Milton Forrest personally came with such a large force of 80,000.”

King Bauchen got up from his throne, walked to Milton and personally raised him up from where he knelt and grabbed his hand. 

“As the King of Strabus Kingdom, I, Bauchen Freiberg Strabus, express my deepest gratitude for the dedication and friendship that the Lester Kingdom has shown today.”

The king of a country had gotten down from his throne and held Milton’s hand to show his thanks. While it’s natural to favorably treat the envoy who led reinforcements during a war, if you considered the difference in national power between the Strabus Kingdom and the Lester Kingdom, then King Bauchen’s actions right now were quite extraordinary. To be treated like this by a monarch of a country was a big honor that would be told throughout the generations. However, Milton only had one thought in this situation.

‘I’m X.’

***

After his private meeting with King Bauchen, Milton was guided to a separate residence within the palace. The place he was led to wasn’t a residence that was used to host envoys from other countries; it was a palace called the Lion’s Palace where members of the royal family were born and raised in. Milton, who had been born and raised as an aristocrat, was guided to a palace that was lavish to a degree he had never seen before where many beautiful women were standing by to wait upon him. The beautiful women and the fragrant alcohol tried to tempt Milton, but he wasn’t in the mood.

Once he was left alone, he let out a deep sigh.

“Things got complicated, really complicated.”

Complaining, Milton tried to mentally organize what he knew of the situation. Originally, Milton’s plan was this:

The war that broke out in the Strabus Kingdom was an incredibly serious war. If the continent’s troops were to move and be defeated in this war, then because of this war, Republicanism may really cover the entire world. To be honest, in Milton’s eyes, monarchy or republican, they were all the same, but since he was born into a monarchy, republicanism was the enemy. Therefore, the war must be won at all costs. 

That’s why he had left behind not one pretty fiancées but two of them to join the battlefield. Fortunately, the strength of monarchy was stronger than that of republicanism on the continent. Unlike when the Strabus Kingdom was fighting, in which war, with the kingdoms’ strengths focused, it was an opportunity to end the Republic with overwhelming power. But…

When he arrived, Milton realized that he was the only one taking this war seriously. 

Other countries had brought half the reinforcements he had brought, and the empire didn’t even send a single troop as reinforcement. They had done this even though there were situations where you can and can’t let emotions control how you govern a country. 

From the start, everything was different from what Milton had originally planned. Originally, he had planned to crush the Republic with an overwhelming strength of 1 million troops from all directions. Even if Siegfried was a master of war, Milton had the conviction that with three times the number of troops attacking from all directions, Siegfried could have been destroyed. 

It is proven throughout Earth’s history that the surest way for a larger opponent to defeat a smaller opponent was to spread out. If the war wasn’t just limited to within the Strabus Kingdom, but also spread into the Republic by counterattacking, then that smaller opponent would have further divided in order to respond. Then, inevitably, the difference in numbers would be revealed and the larger opponent would win in the end. 

This would be how the strong would eat the weak and this had been Milton’s plan.

But…

He had never thought that the neighboring countries would be so uncooperative. 

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