Chapter 103: Difficult War Preparations (3)

After meeting Marquis Johannes, Milton let out a sigh. Unfortunately, it seemed inevitable that command would be split up and shared. Yesterday, Viscount Sabian had said this: Marquis Johannes will most likely be the reason for the division of command. Viscount Sabian hadn’t even seen the man or knew of his personality, yet had been so confident in his judgment.  

The reason for the confidence was the rank and the size of the troops. Most of the reinforcement commanders participating in this war were Counts. But two of them were a Marquis, Milton and the person standing in front of him right now — Johannes. Apart from them, there was also the Princess from Florence Principality, but that wasn’t a big issue since Florence Principality itself was a very small country. 

If Milton took command of the Allied Forces, then there was a high possibility that Marquis Johannes, who had the same title as Milton unlike the other commanders, would show resistance. And even looking at the size of the army, Marquis Johannes had led 25,000 troops, which was the second largest reinforcement force after the Lester Kingdom. Of course, even if it wasn’t half the amount of troops that Milton had brought, there was the possibility that Marquis Johannes would be possessive of the troops that he had brought.

Milton recalled what Viscount Sabian said yesterday, then, without smiling, he spoke to Marquis Johannes. 

“Why don’t you introduce the people behind you? If my predictions are correct then…”

“Hahaha, you’re right. They’ve also come to join in the war with us.”

The people standing behind Marquis Johannes began to introduce themselves. 

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, I’m Gale Dios from the Valence Kingdom.”

“I’m Josh Carbon from the Gloucester Kingdom.”

“Elliot Taurus from the Stravin Kingdom.”

Milton thought to himself as he listened to their self-introductions

’20000, 20000 and 15000 respectively.’

“It’s great to meet you.”

Since Marquis Johannes was both a Marquis and older than Milton, he had to use honorifics when speaking with Marquis Johannes. However, these three were only a Count, so there was no reason for Milton to use honorifics with them. But, disregarding such logical reasons, their faces expressed outright displeasure when Milton talked casually to them. 

‘How insolent when he’s so young.’

‘So you think being a Marquis is all that?’

‘How dare you, you’re just a mere marquis from the Lester Kingdom, a pathetically small country…’

Seeing them show such blatant dissatisfaction, Milton thought to himself.

‘F*ck them all.’

Disregarding the fact that they were of a lower rank and had brought less military forces than he, they scrunched up their faces when Milton spoke informally to them. It seemed as though Viscount Sabian’s predictions were right. 

[Since our army was large, we arrived last. That means, there is a good chance that those who arrived before us most likely made a deal between themselves.]

And that prediction was correct. 

Milton had assumed they were working together when he had seen them standing together before he had entered, but seeing how hostile they were with him, they were definitely colluding together. They had most likely thought that when Milton joined with his troops, Lester Kingdom’s forces would naturally be placed under their command. But that plan had been destroyed when Milton brought a much larger army than they had. In other words, they didn’t like Milton because he had brought a large army. Maybe that was why? But of the three people who couldn’t control their facial expressions, one of them blatantly challenged Milton.

“I heard that the Lester Kingdom sent 80,000 troops, is that true?”

The person who spoke to Milton was Count Gale Dios of Valence Kingdom.

“That’s right, is there a problem?”

At Milton’s question, Count Dios rudely crossed his arms and smirked at him. 

“Don’t you think you’re overreacting to the Republic?”

‘Huh, listen to this bastard…’

While pointing at Milton’s large army, Count Dios was making it seem like it was natural for them to have brought less troops. Milton wanted to grab him by the neck and throw him onto the floor but…

[My Lord, there will be a lot of diplomatic negotiations and criticism during the banquet tomorrow. So please keep two things in mind.]

Viscount Sabian had asked Milton to do just two things.

[You can never show your anger. And keep smiling as much as possible.]

Don’t get angry and smile. 

The diplomatic arena was like sitting at a poker table, it was disadvantageous to show your emotions first. So, Milton had to cool his anger and hide his emotion behind a mask of smiles and laughter. 

And exactly as Viscount Sabian said, Milton turned to speak with a smile. 

“From an experienced person’s point of view, war can change at any moment, so it requires thorough preparations.”

When Milton implied that he had personally experienced war, the other side’s face contorted further. Milton smiled even brighter as he patted Count Dios on the shoulder. 

“I hope you’ll learn a lot from this war, Count.” 

When Milton, who was young enough to be his son, patted his shoulders as if he was giving encouragement to a child, Count Dios’ face turned red. 

“Y…”

“Huh? What’s wrong? Your face is red, are you feeling uncomfortable somewhere?”

When Milton laughed, Count Dios wanted to say something, but he couldn’t. Why? Because Milton hadn’t said anything offensive, and above all, it was true that they didn’t have any experience with wars.”

‘You have to beat dogs with sticks and humans with facts.’

Milton laughed as he glanced at the others. Neither Count Dios nor any of the others had experience with war. And if you don’t have experience with war, then your personal abilities have to be at least competent but…

‘None of them are particularly useful.’

Milton smirked as he glanced at the status window of the three. Marquis Johanna was a politician and the other three were Knights, but their stats were mediocre. None of their Strength stat was above 70 nor were there any Experts, and the highest Intelligence stat was Marquis Johannes at 80. Having to lead these small fries into war was going to be tiring. 

Milton realized that it would be best to follow Viscount Sabian’s plan. But there was something that was suspicious.

‘Wasn’t there one more?’

There were a total of six countries that had sent reinforcements for this war, but in this room, there were only five people, including Milton himself. One was missing. 

‘There’s no representative from Florence Principality. Come to think of it, didn’t they say a princess was participating in this war?’

Even though Milton hadn’t cared so far, it was interesting that she still hadn’t shown her face. 

‘Florence Principality… if they sent 10,000, then didn’t they try their best?’

When the other countries had sent between 20,000 to 25,000 troops, Milton had thought it was a ridiculously small number. But when Florence Principality sent 10,000 troops, Milton thought they were conscientious. This was because Florence Principality was a small country.  Of the specified countries, it was the smallest on the continent and located south of the Lester Kingdom. Their maximum military force was only about 30,000 to 40,000 soldiers. For a country like Florence Principality to have sent 10,000 troops, they had tried their best. 

But it was surprising that they had sent a princess as the head of their army. Even Princess Leila, who could do everything, hadn’t taken the position of commander on the battlefield. But a princess from Florence Principality had come as the commander-in-chief. There were only two plausible reasons. Either that princess was capable of warfare or she had been forced to come because she was in a difficult position in her country. 

‘Whatever the reason, I wish there weren’t any more hurdles in this war.’

Just as Milton was thinking this…

“The one and only monarch of Strabus Kingdom, His Majesty Bauchen Freiburg Strabus is entering.”

With the introduction from his attendant, King Bauchen appeared at the banquet hall in full ceremony. Naturally, all the nobles in the banquet hall got down on one knee.

King Bauchen stood in the center of the banquet and spoke.

“Please, stand up everyone.”

At that command, everyone stood up and lifted their heads. He continued to speak once he had everyone’s attention. 

“This banquet is meant to express my gratitude and acknowledgment to our allies who led their armies from far away to defend the peace of this continent from the brutal attacks of the Republic.”

Then, King Bauchen turned to where Milton was standing

“Come out to the center, Marquis Milton Forrest.”

Once Milton stood in the center of the hall, King Bauchen ordered his attendant to bring out a sword. The heavily decorated sword seemed more for ceremonial occasions than for practical use. 

King Bauchen handed the sword to Milton. 

“As the monarch of Strabus Kingdom, I authorize Marquis Milton Forrest as the commander-in-chief of the Allied Forces.”

Because Milton was a citizen of a different country, King Bauchen had used the word authorize and not appoint. However, even if that’s what he said, this was still a one-sided decision. As long as Strabus Kingdom was the leader in this war, the participating people from other countries couldn’t openly say anything about it. The only way to rebel against it was to withdraw…

But none of the representatives could arbitrarily decide to do that. 

“I’ll do my best to lead the army to victory, Your Majesty.”

Milton ceremoniously accepted the sword from King Bauchen. 

King Bauchen spoke with a happy expression amidst the applause.  

“Now, please enjoy the banquet. For the fall of the Republicans and the eternal prosperity of our kingdom!”

The banquet properly began. Experienced politicians got together with their factions and discussed the flow of the war while the young nobles wandered around debating which group would be most advantageous for themselves. And Milton…

“It’s impressive that you’ve reached the level of an Expert at your young age…”

“If it’s Marquis Forrest, then someday, being a Master wouldn’t just be a dream.”

Milton was busy dealing with all the Strabus Kingdom’s nobles who had approached him.

Milton Forrest was quite famous in the Strabus Kingdom for defeating Siegfried who had killed their nation’s pride — Duke Derek Brans. Moreover, his reputation had rapidly improved amongst the military officers when it became known that Milton had once served as a junior commander on the Western Front of Strabus Kingdom. He was known as a military nobleman who was proficient enough with swords to have reached the level of Expert at a young age and was skilled at military planning. In the Strabus Kingdom where the military played an important role, Milton was their version of an ideal nobleman. 

“Thank you for your kind words, but I’m still just a novice with little experience.”

Milton always responded with humility. It wasn’t a bad idea to get along with Strabus Kingdom’s nobility, but…

“Marquis, my younger sister is very beautiful and smart, but she’s still single. If it’s alright with you…”

“Hmph… How can you get ahead of me like this? Marquis, my daughter is remarkably beautiful. She’s like a cosmos flower swaying in the wind.”

“What cosmos, she’s most likely a dogweed.”

“What was that?”

Many of the nobles were trying to push women onto Milton.

“All of them are very beautiful ladies, but I’m engaged so I’ll have to decline.”

“Hahaha… I heard about your engagement. But it’s fine even if you accept her as your mistress, so think about it.”

“But… I have two fiancees?”

“So what about it? If you have two, then you can increase it to three. There’s nothing for you to lose by having more women, is there? Hahahaha…”

Milton had a strained smile on his face as he looked at the loudly laughing Strabus Kingdom’s nobleman.

‘I’ve heard rumors, but I didn’t think it’d be like this.’

Milton had already known this. The Strabus Kingdom was a country famous for their lack of women’s rights. Not only was it alright for the nobility, but the commoners were also allowed to have multiple wives as long as they could economically afford them. Not only that, but a woman’s marriage was completely determined by their head of the household. And, on the man’s side, the important aspect wasn’t winning the heart of the woman, but how much money the woman’s side of the family would give. If commoners were like this, there was no way the nobility would be any different. Females born into nobility were raised to believe it was her duty to marry someone who would help her family the most; it was a way to repay her family for raising her. 

In the eyes of Strabus Kingdom’s nobility, Milton was a very valuable person. Although he was a foreigner, he was competent in war and was a young aristocrat who possessed both power and wealth at the same time. The nobles pushed their daughters towards him believing it wouldn’t hurt to use one of their daughters to make a connection with him. 

“Haha… I’m sorry but I would like to focus on the war right now.”

Milton was very careful not to create any animosity as he pushed them away. This was still the diplomatic arena and he knew he couldn’t lose his temper here

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