Chapter 12: Hero of Pratinos (1)

“That’s what happened. I’m terribly sorry.”

Nelson looked extremely sorry as he explained the situation. His face became red from embarrassment as he thought he was showing an ugly side of his country to the talented youth from a foreign country.

Milton didn’t pay much attention to it. He already expected some discrimination. It was also more useful for him to have Nelson Cardinal look at him favorably than some distant command office. He was hurting for money but didn’t want to stress over something that couldn’t be helped.

“It doesn’t matter to me. In any event, congratulations on your promotion to a Count!”

“Ah well, I had pretty much given up on a promotion, but it seems I’m benefiting from a talented subordinate in my old age.”

Nelson smiled awkwardly. He should have become a count long ago considering all of his accomplishments while fighting at the Western Front for so many years.

However, he was never good at politics and received evaluations that were lower than his actual accomplishments, which made it hard to advance his career. He might have never been promoted to a Count if it wasn’t for Milton’s accomplishments this time around. Nelson felt even worse for Milton knowing this fact.

“Honestly, you should have received a much larger reward than me. I’m asking just in case….”

Nelson spoke to Milton in a secretive tone.

“Would you consider changing your naturalization to our country?”

“To the Strabus Kingdom?”

“Right. If you were to become a citizen of our country, the Command Center would certainly give you a larger reward.”

Nelson gave Milton the greatest offer he could.

However, Milton shook his head after thinking briefly.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t abandon my country.”

“Hmm, right. I didn’t take your patriotism into consideration. My apologies.”

“Don’t mention it, Count.”

Nelson formally apologized, but Milton honestly didn’t have any patriotism.

It wasn’t the Lester Kingdom he couldn’t abandon but the Forrest territory. It might just be a territory in the countryside, but it was where he grew up and the place his ancestors protected for generations. If he were willing to discard his territory, he wouldn’t have joined the war in the first place and would have instead opted to flee the country.

“It’s a pity. Our country needs talented individuals like yourself.”

Nelson seemed truly regretful, but that wasn’t a reason for Milton to change his mind.

“First off, the Command Center has given you a monetary award of 2,000 gold for your achievements this time around. They also promoted you from a 100-man commander to a 300-man commander.”

“2,000 gold….”

Milton smiled bitterly. He had expected as much, but it really was a small amount. The award was much too small for an achievement that could influence the entire Western Front.

Nelson spoke to Milton with an expression that showed he was sorry to the point of being embarrassed.

“I’m truly sorry. I tried to protest again, but the Command Center doesn’t take my words seriously.”

“……”

Nelson did everything he could using his position and connections. However, the Command Center did not rate the achievements of a foreigner, a 100-man commander like Milton at that, very highly.

“I’m truly sorry. I will apologize in their stead.”

The only thing Nelson could do was to apologize to Milton in earnest. He knew how frustrated and angry Milton would be right now.

Nelson also faced a lot of unfair treatment in his youth. He was beyond frustrated being stuck as a 1000-man commander of a fortress on the border until now while his peers got much higher assessments from the Command Center through inferior achievements and made quick advancements in their career.

Every time it happened, he would get completely drunk at a bar and cuss out the rotten Command Center.

‘I acted that way as a citizen of this country. I can only imagine how this foreigner friend would feel.’

Nelson was embarrassed enough to want to crawl into a rat hole.

However, Milton instead comforted Nelson with a relatively calm expression.

“There’s nothing to be done. It’s not a matter for the Count to apologize for. Please lift your head.”

“Are you okay?”

“Honestly, I’m not okay. However, things like this happen throughout life. Nothing will change from stressing over it… It’s just something we can’t help, right?”

Milton Forrest never experienced such unfair treatment in his life, but that certainly wasn’t the case when looking back on his life as Park Moonsoo.

For example….

In his previous life, he played baseball in junior high school. His skills weren’t bad, and he made contributions to the team during practice matches. However, strangely, the coach never used him during official matches.

Park Moonsoo couldn’t understand why a player whose skill was vastly inferior to his started in the position he fielded.

He learned of the reason later on. He heard that the parent of the player whose skill was vastly inferior had personal ties to the coach. In addition, the player’s parents gave the coach a new car and other expensive gifts.

Park Moonsoo quit the baseball team after learning that fact.

He learned a bitter truth at an early age. Filthy things could happen in one’s life and he could be a potential victim of that.

‘This is also a place where people live… No, unfair things would surely happen in this place where the power of authority is much stronger than in South Korea.

Milton accepted the current situation because he didn’t have the power or means to resist this unfairness. The only thing he could do for now was to remember this event. There might come a day in his life when he can pay off this debt.

As an aside, in the case of the coach from junior high school, Park Moonsoo thoroughly dug up information on the corruption and posted it all over social media before moving onto high school. As a result, the school was thrown into chaos, and the coach as well as the one who bribed him was subjected to a witch hunt on the internet.

In the end, rebellion must be done at the right time. Making a stand every time when seeing the unfair use of authority was not only tiring, but the odds of winning were slim. It was wiser to remember the event and patiently wait for an opportune time.

‘So, I’ll bear with it for now.’

Milton harbored such thoughts as he spoke to Nelson with a smile.

“2,000 gold is enough. The promotion to 300-man commander will be useful too.”

Nelson was deeply impressed inside while hearing those words from Milton.

‘How can he have so little greed at such a young age? I’m liking him more and more.’

Nelson had a strange misunderstanding of Milton. That misunderstanding made Nelson look at Milton favorably, and had him say something he didn’t originally planned to.

“Cough… This isn’t an official award from the Command Center, but can I personally give you a proposition?”

“A proposition? What are you saying?”

“Milton, would you like to be in charge of the supply corps of our fortress?”

Milton didn’t understand why Nelson was covertly giving him this proposition.

‘Is this proposition something that came out of our previous conversation?’ Milton thought.

“I’ll do it if you command me too… but is there some reason for it?” Milton then replied.

Nelson smiled before answering.

“Ah! You wouldn’t know much about what it means to oversee the supply corps for the mountain fortresses.”

“Can you explain it to me?”

“Listen carefully. The task of the supply corps is….”

Nelson started explaining about the supply corps.

The fortresses of the Grey Mountains continuously keep up their supplies in preparation for a siege. These supplies include food, weapons, and other necessary items. Furthermore, these supplies were not delivered by some merchant company, but instead a commander personally led some troops to the city behind them to purchase the supplies.

This approach was first used to save on transportation charges. They were more likely to save on transportation costs by negotiating in the city directly than getting the goods delivered by the merchants.

However, the officers overseeing the supply corps soon found out that there was some money to be gained here. They were not trading with one specific merchant, but rather going to the city to buy items from multiple merchants, which in turn led to a price competition between the merchants.

From the military’s view point, they could then purchase the items for an even cheaper price. As a result, many merchants flocked to the cities behind the fortresses to sell their goods, which in turn greatly developed those cities’ commerce. The commerce city of Pratinos, which was recently in danger, was a city that developed in this way.

But there was a problem that occurred within the military. It was good to start buying supplies at a price that was much lower than the predetermined amount…. However, opportunity makes a thief. [1] That was, several commanders started to get greedy after dealing with large sums of money.

These individuals began to embezzle money by writing false ledgers. Specifically, they partnered with some merchants to buy goods at a higher price. Then they pocketed the difference in cost. It would be akin to defense sector corruption on earth, and these commanders were raking in large sums of money.

Bad things tend to catch on faster. Eventually, all the commanders of the supply corps started embezzling money like it was natural.

However, a secret was bound to be revealed if too many people were in on it. [2]

It caused a huge commotion when the Command Center found out about the embezzlement. What surprised the Command Center most was the sheer amount of money that was embezzled. It was an enormous amount beyond what they thought a low-ranking officer would be able to pocket.

The embezzlement was certainly a problem, but if such a large amount of money could be discounted, the direct trade approach was definitely not wrong. That was why the Command Center kept the supply corps running, but they used the stick and carrot method to stop the officers from embezzling money.

An official notice was sent out that embezzlement will be harshly punished by military law. On the other hand, the officer in charge of the supply corps would get a ten percent commission of the amount saved through negotiations with the merchant.

They were leading on with the carrot for the officers to work hard.

From then on, being the commander of the supply corps became the post most low-ranking officers coveted over all others in the Grey Mountains. It was a unique position which allowed one to make money legitimately. Since only one position was available for each of the fortresses, there were only ten of these gravy train positions in all of the Western Front.

“How about it? Wouldn’t this help pay off your House’s debt?”

“O… Of course. If given the chance, I’ll do my best.”

Milton gladly spoke to accept the position after hearing Nelson’s explanation. This was the very post he wanted.

“That’s fortunate. I personally operated the supply corps of the Crow Fortress until now, but you will take charge of it from now on.”

“Yes! Thank you!” Milton replied with a loud voice.

It was something he hadn’t even thought about. Perhaps this had much more meaning than the token award from the Command Center.

‘Is this what it feels like to stumble into good fortune?’ [3]

This was the happiest Milton had felt since being appointed to the Wester Front. He had earned a major accomplishment and got to operate the supply corps, considered to be the best post in the entire Western Front.

Once this fact became known, the three people that were jealous of Milton previously exploded with envy.

“How could he put that foreigner greenhorn in charge of the supply corps?”

“Nelson, that old man must have become senile. Don’t you agree?”

“Damn it. He’s old enough to have been put in a coffin long ago, I don’t know how he’s so hearty.”

Louis Walker, Butland Rigor, Marez Cardia. These three were put in a difficult position the more and more successful Milton became. It was hard to be friendly with him now, since they lorded over him in the beginning and took opposing sides. And suddenly, he had become their superior.

Milton’s position as a foreign Viscount realistically had no meaning besides him being a noble. However, his victory, and in turn, promotion to 300-man commander changed the situation. Milton had become the three men’s superior following the military hierarchy. He became a superior who can give them simple orders based on the circumstances.

Furthermore, Milton wasn’t the type of cool guy that let bygones be bygones.

“He ordered me to go on a night reconnaissance mission today.”

“I received the same command. He said it was to prevent a second enemy attack….”

“Damn it, he told me I need to somehow finish maintaining the fort’s barriers by this week.”

Indeed. After he had become their superior, Milton continually assigned duties to these three men, who had acted very territorial. He didn’t have the authority to give them dangerous missions, but he was able to assign them laborious and troublesome missions. Those were the kind of missions Milton gave these three.

These three wanted to lash back at Milton but could no longer do so with their lower rank.

‘Damn it, I’ll definitely kill you someday.’

All three burned with hostility against Milton, but in particular, Louis Walker’s gaze held a murderous intent.

It remained to be seen how this threat would play itself out.


1. The original Korean phrase/proverb used here was 견물생심(見物生心) which literally meant “having the desire to do something (usually something bad) when presented with an item.”

2. The phrase here in Korean is “그러나 꼬리가 기니 결국은 들통이나 버린 것이다.” Since there was no phrase in English that matches it, I’ve put in an appropriate figurative translation.

3. The phrase here was “자다가 떡이 생긴다는 게 이런 기분인가?” which literally translates into, “Is this what it feels like getting rice cakes while sleeping?” Since that wouldn’t have made much sense, I just put in a figurative translation of the phrase.

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