Chapter 130: A Definite Strike (1)

Milton’s expression became serious. He had assumed that was what would’ve happened, but it had weight when he heard it directly from Viscount Sabian.

The fall of Strabus Kingdom.

This didn’t just mean that a foreign country would lower their flag. It held more implications than that, heavy implications. The Strabus Kingdom was a shield that blocked the Northern Republics and because of that shield, the other kingdoms had lived in relative peace. How would the other countries react if a country like the Strabus Kingdom was devoured by the Republic? They would most likely strengthen their military power in order to prepare for the Republic and once their military was strengthened, they would eventually head out to the battlefield.

‘Is this the start of the era of chaos?’

Milton was fighting in this war to prevent that very situation. He was here to try and annihilate the Republic and stop the era of ideological war from happening. But seeing the lukewarm reaction from the other countries and the defeat of the Strabus Kingdom, annihilating the Republic seemed impossible. In all honesty, this expedition was a failure in Milton’s point of view.

“Those XX bastards…”

Out poured curses from Milton’s mouth.

“Who are you cursing at, sir?”

“Everyone.”

The other countries and the empire that didn’t cooperate properly, the Strabus Kingdom that was defeated so stupidly, and Siegfried who had been born in the same era as himself…

Milton was feeling annoyed by everything and anything. 

“Whoo…. Then, Sabian.”

“Yes, My Lord?”

“What should we do now?”

“The best option right now is the third arrangement… I guess I should wait until Sir Rick and Sir Tommy do their parts. Whether that works or not determines the options that we are left with.”

“What if they both succeed with their assignments?”

“Then you have two options, My Lord.”

“Tell me.”

“Even if it’s cracked here and there, having a shield is still better than having none. One option is to save the Strabus Kingdom.”

“That’s possible?”

“But of course, that’s only if the third arrangement succeeds, My Lord.”

“Hm… and what’s the other option?”

Viscount Sabian’s eyes twinkled at Milton’s question.

“Our Lester Kingdom takes over the North.”

“……”

Viscount Sabian continued to talk when Milton didn’t say anything. 

“The choice is yours, My Lord.”

‘So you’re passing the most troublesome part to me.’

Milton couldn’t help but sigh in exhaustion. Seeing him like that, Viscount Sabian spoke up again. 

“But My Lord, disregarding the third arrangement, there’s something else that needs to be done first.”

“What’s that?”

“In order for the third arrangement to work properly, Siegfried needs to be stopped here.”

“So I’ll have to fight him in the end.”

Viscount Sabian nodded at Milton.

“I’ll definitely try to stop him with one attack, My Lord.”

“That’s possible?”

“Please leave it to me, sir.”

Viscount Sabian’s eyes were filled with confidence. 

***

Siegfried waited calmly.

The arrangements that he had prepared previously all worked out perfectly. From now on, the more time passed, the more he had the advantage. As long as the Northern Front was breached, the Republican Army could continue to smoothly occupy the Strabus Kingdom. Even if he wasn’t there, David would be at the Northern Front. He was someone that Siegfried recognized and while David was hiding his ability from the world, he was a good enough strategist to lead the Strabus Kingdom to destruction.

The more the Republican Army pressured the Strabus Kingdom, the more favorable the situation on the Eastern Front would become. No matter how advantageous their situation was, if the rear was in chaos, then the supplies would naturally be disrupted. And the bigger the army, the quicker problem with the supplies would be noticed. As long as they bought some time, the enemy would self-destruct. 

Of course, because Siegfried recognized Milton as a capable enemy, he realized that things wouldn’t go as easily as he thought. 

‘He’ll most likely do something before something happens to the supply. But of course, if you think about it logically, he should retreat.’

It’d most likely hurt to give up the Kobrook Republic’s castles and fortresses they had just managed to occupy. But it would be foolish to insist on staying at the front line when it’s obvious that the supply line was collapsing. No matter how much of a pity it was, if Milton was able to distinguish between something big and small, then he would retreat. It would be the correct decision to retreat and focus on defending the Strabus Kingdom’s mainland while responding to the Republican Army. Of course, if Milton really did try to retreat, then Siegfried would most likely attack from the rear, but in this situation, it was common sense to retreat. 

‘But would Milton Forrest make that choice?’

Recently, Siegfried’s regard for Milton had become even higher. In the previous war, Siegfried had lost against Milton, but he hadn’t thought of Milton that highly then. That’s because Siegfried believed that if he hadn’t obeyed the orders from the higher ups, he could have won against Milton many times over. And this time, during the battle at Litinque Castle, Siegfried had won against Milton. But from that battle, he realized that he should be more wary of Milton. 

However, the situation was different from before. This time, Siegfried had been determined to capture Milton and devised a great plan to do so. He had even used an important base like Litinque Castle as bait to capture Milton. 

But, his plan failed. Although the battle had ended with his victory, he hadn’t been able to capture Milton, which had been his original goal. The reason for that was the Knight Jerome who showed beyond his normal abilities and the sudden attack by the Florence Principality from the rear. Siegfried hadn’t imagined the possibility that the Knight Jerome could be a Master.

‘He hadn’t suddenly gained enlightenment on the battlefield and become a Master. He had become one earlier, but had thoroughly hidden it.’

If that’s the case, why? The reason was obvious. It was because they had been wary of Siegfried. After that first battle, Milton Forrest had been steadily sharpening his sword in order to fight against Siegfried himself. Back then, Milton had been like a small seedling, weak enough that Siegfried could have easily plucked and destroyed, but now, like a large tree, Milton had grown too powerful for Siegfried to fell him with one strike. 

‘I have this feeling that he’ll do something that goes against common sense.’

Siegfried concentrated as he looked at the map of the front lines. He was looking at the map from the enemy’s point of view, checking to see if there was anything that could be used to overturn the situation.

Then, a messenger urgently entered through the door.

“Secretary Siegfried, there’s an urgent report.”

“What is it?”

“The enemy is giving up Bells Castle and Hornie Castle and is retreating, sir.”

‘So they’re retreating?’

Siegfried frowned when he heard the enemy was following an expected move.

“Is there any other specifics about the enemy’s movements?”

“Sir? Um… there hasn't been any reports on the specifics of their movements.”

“That’s not possible. Have the reconnaissance team look into it further, tell them to watch what the enemy does. No matter how insignificant it seems, they can’t overlook it.”

“Understood, sir.”

“Quickly! It’s useless if the information is gathered too late!”

“Yes, sir!” 

Having received Siegfried’s vague orders, the messenger quickly bolted out of the room.

Siegfried muttered as he turned back to the map.

“There’s definitely something. There’s no way there isn’t.”

***

An elite army didn’t mean they were just strong. An elite army was an army that reacted quickly to their commanders’ orders and showed quick results. In that sense, the command structure of the Republican Army was great. There was a popular saying in the Republican army, ‘If it’s not possible, make it possible.’ The reconnaissance team embodied this saying and within half of day, they brought updated information on the enemy’s movements.

“This is the enemy’s retreat path, troop size, and positions, as well as the cavalry’s movements in the back and the route the main unit is taking, sir.”

Siegfried gave a satisfied smile at the messenger’s report.

“Good work.”

He immediately turned to mark the contents of the report on the map.

“…he left behind more than I expected.”

At those words, an operation officer spoke up from Siegfried’s side. 

“It seems like they’re wary of our troops chasing after them, sir.”

“Even so, there’s still too many left behind; particularly, there’s too many cavalry. Why?”

“That’s…”

“Right now, the situation in the Strabus Kingdom is very dangerous. In order to calm down the situation even a bit faster, they would need to speed up their retreat. Even if they took on some damages, that would be the right decision.”

“But…”

“But disregarding all that, they’re concentrating their troops at the back? Why? For what reason?”

“……”

Whenever Siegfried asked a question, the operation officer tried to respond, but Siegfried didn’t give him the chance. Siegfried wasn’t actually asking a question expecting an answer; he was asking himself rhetorical questions. Siegfried, as the commander of the Republican Army, was giving himself, as the leader of the Republican Allied Forces, advice by asking and answering his own questions. 

Chess is essentially a game played by two people. However, it’s said that if you were an expert with high levels of concentration, it’s possible to play chess by yourself. Every time you put down a piece, you put yourself in the position of the black or white chess piece, and do your best to play against yourself.

Siegfried believed he had reached that level. Suddenly, Siegfried’s eyes sparkled as he focused on the map.

“This point right here.”

“Sir?”

“And here and here.”

Siegfried specified three points on the map.

“Organize the fastest cavalry right now and send the reconnaissance team here.”

“Yes, sir.”

The messenger moved quickly once he received his orders. The operation officer spoke up from across Siegfried.

“Sir, why did you send the reconnaissance teams there? It doesn’t seem like a location you have to worry about if the enemy decided to retreat.”

“If they’re retreating, you’re right.”

“Then…”

“These three points are locations the enemy will have to bypass if they try to attempt a counterattack.”

“Ah!”

The operation officer exclaimed. 

‘Now that I think about it… Didn’t Milton Forrest threaten our country’s Capital in the previous war?’

When Siegfried nearly drove Lester Kingdom to destruction, Milton had viciously threatened the capital of the Hildes Republic. Thanks to that, Siegfried had been forced to retreat and the Lester Kingdom was saved. 

‘There’s no guarantee he won’t act the same as before.’

There was the possibility that Milton was only pretending to retreat while forming a separate army to get around his enemy. Then, he might attack the Kobrook Republic’s Capital or granary. It was definitely something Milton Forrest might do. 

‘How impressive. But that only works if they aren’t caught by their enemy.’

The operations officer couldn’t help but admire Milton and recognize him as a great person just for being able to come up with a plan like this in such a situation. But Siegfried was a monster that had the ‘great figure’ Milton on the palm of his hand.

‘There’s no problem as long as we have Siegfried. In fact, if this kind of person became the Fuhrer, the Republic might have unified the continent…’

A feeling welling up inside of the operation officer went beyond respect as he stared with admiration at Siegfried. In fact, it was the same feeling that most of the people who fought in the war with Siegfried. 

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