Chapter 169: The Reemerging War (1)

“Is someone cursing at me behind my back?”

Milton picked at his ear on his way back from quelling the riot in the North. Rick spoke up from his side.

“My Lord, what’s wrong?”

“My ears are itchy. Who’s swearing at me?”

Rick laughed out loud as he responded.

“Hahahahaha… that’s natural, My Lord, you have a lot of enemies.”

“……”

‘Well, that’s not wrong, but do you have to say it smiling so big?’

Milton spoke to Rick.

“It’s been a while since we fought each other. Let’s fight.”

“Sir? Um… aren’t we on a mission right now, sir?”

“So what? Training doesn’t have a set time or place. You can’t weakly just stay at a middling Expert level, right?”

“My Lord, I’m an intermediate leveled Expert. Intermediate. How can you say weakly?”

“Oh, is that so? Yes, yes. Well, Your Lord is a Master. Whatcha gonna do?”

“……”

For a moment, Rick seemed to be chewing on something. Milton grinned as he looked at him.

“If you don’t like that, why don’t you become a Master too.”

“Damn… this is tyranny, My Lord.”

Rick’s shoulders drooped as it seemed like he couldn’t escape the duel.

Then, Milton glanced at Tommy on his other side.

“You too.”

“Sir? Why me? I’ve been very quiet unlike that slow-witted and senseless punk over there.”

“Yeup, you’re right. But you and Rick, you’re like a set, a combo. You have to be together.”

“……”

Tommy’s face expressed that he thought it was ridiculously unfair, but what could he do? Both Milton's skill and rank trumped his. It had been difficult before, but once Milton had reached the level of Master, it was hell. Even if Tommy and Rick attacked at the same time, it was difficult for them to cut even a single hem. 

‘Being a Master sure is great.’

Milton’s status window had changed significantly as his level as a Monarch rose and he received the benefits. 

[Milton Forrest, Grand Duke]

Monarch LV. 6

Strength — 91         Command — 97

Intellect — 85                 Politics — 80

Loyalty — 100

Special Traits — Monarch’s Dignity, Hero’s Halo, Pioneer, Strategy

Monarch’s Dignity LV. 4: Your presence alone instills faith in allies and strikes fear into enemies. Vassals’ loyalty can be greatly increased through apt reward and punishment.

Hero’s Halo LV. 4: Able to draw strong support and respect from the people. Even if an unreasonable policy is established, public support is not lost. On the battlefield, it can become the enemy’s target. 

Pioneer LV. 2: Presents a new vision to a stagnant or chaotic world and can exert a great influence on the history of mankind.

Strategy LV. 5: Excellent ability to discern the overall flow of war.

Clearly, all the stats in the status window had risen and new traits were created. It was particularly encouraging to see that his Strength stat had finally exceeded 90. No matter how hard he had tried, he hadn’t been able to become a Master, but once he had, his Strength had instantly risen to 91. His new trait was also very powerful. 

Pioneer LV. 2:  Presents a new vision to a stagnant or chaotic world and can exert a great influence on the history of mankind.

This new trait, one that had been created after he calmed down the angry crowd and suggested a new vision of democracy, was great. So far, other traits had affected him as a person or the state, but this Pioneering trait was so impressive that it could influence an era. It could create an idea in the world and influence the whole world by spreading that idea. Milton realized that if this trait evolved well, then it might be possible for him to settle the chaotic and confusing ideological conflict. 

Not only Milton’s personal status window, but the window regarding the country’s status had also changed.

Domain — Lester Kingdom

National Characteristics — Territory expansion, Maritime trade, Age of heroes, the Transformation of the Times. 

Population — 4,833,953 people

Funds —14,125,548 Gold

Food self-sufficiency — 120%

Strategic Materials — Iron ore, ships, horses, stone

Commercial Status — Productivity Class A, Distribution Network Class B, Price Class D

International Trade — Maritime Trade Class A (80%), Land Trade Class C (18%), Other Secret Trade Class C (2%)

Public Sentiment — Class A (The people’s trust in the monarch has greatly increased by quelling the civil war peacefully.)

Military — 820 Knights, 4,254 Trainees, 25,000 Cavalry, 74,000 Infantry, 35,000 Archers, 9,000 Marines. 

Most of them had remained the same, but the National Characteristic had an additional trait — the Transformation of the Times. When Milton had introduced the idea of democracy to the country, the country started to change from the inside. The public sentiment had risen as well, from Class C to Class A.

In the end, David’s conspiracy had been perfectly crushed. He had tried to sow chaos in the Lester Kingdom by causing the people to rise, but instead, the country became hard and solid, as if the land had dried into one unified solid after a rainstorm. By this point, there was one thing that Milton was curious about. 

‘Now what? What are you going to do now, Siegfried? Now that this has failed, are you going to start a war with the Empire?’

If the machinations that happened in the North were done by the Republicans, then its purpose was most likely to earn them some time. He had most likely wanted to try and hinder the Lester Kingdom, a potential risk, as part of the preparations for the war against the Empire in the Valence Kingdom. But now that it failed, would Siegfried start the war? Or will he bow his head at the Empire and try to buy more time? Milton’s actions would change depending on the situation.

“My Lord, preparations for the duel are complete.”

“Good, let’s get started.”

But before that, he had to toss Rick and Tommy around a bit. 

***

Siegfried immediately summoned the military when he heard that the plan to instigate a civil war in the Lester Kingdom had failed. The Ghost leaders, headed by Jake, and all the Republican people that Siegfried had made his own gathered in one place. With his charisma and skill, Siegfried had already completely taken over the Republican Army. All the people had gathered there were those who had pledged allegiance to Siegfried and he immediately got down to business with small talk.

“We will be dividing the army into two. Most will be restraining the Lester Kingdom and the rest will follow me and conquer the Valence Kingdom.”

In the end, Siegfried had chosen war. However, because his plans regarding the Lester Kingdom had failed, he now planned to split up the troops and proceed with the defense and attack separately. Then, someone spoke up.

“Commander-in-chief, as long as the plan with the Lester Kingdom failed, it’ll be very dangerous to fight against the Empire at this moment in time.”

Siegfried responded calmly.

“I’m sorry, but I cannot give up this golden opportunity.”

He looked at his men as he continued to speak.

“Currently in the Valence Kingdom, there are those who wish for republicanism but believe that day is far away. Thanks to that, the Valence Kingdom’s power is incomparably weakened. If we dragged things out now, the uprisings in the Valence Kingdom might be calmed down.”

If they were going to invade, now was the best time.

“But sir, the Empire will help them. There’s information that the Empire has already dispatched 100,000 troops to the Valence Kingdom.”

“I heard that information as well.”

Siegfried continued to speak. 

“I say this because I heard that information. The Empire still looks down on us.”

Siegfried looked at every one of them around him.

“Just 100,000 troops. Even if they added the Valence Kingdom fools, it would only be about 150,000 or 170,000 troops.”

Siegfried’s mouth curled. 

“The Empire came to the foolish decision that that’s all they need to stop us. That’s the kind of decision the Empire’s Emperor came to.”

To be able to describe the Empire’s 100,000 troops as ‘just’ was because Siegfried wasn’t just self-confident, he was arrogant. But Siegfried continued to talk as if that was a nonissue and the people in attendance didn’t doubt him. Instead, they all looked at him trustingly.

“I will personally lead 50,000 men and stand at the forefront. The other 150,000 remaining troops will be keeping the Lester Kingdom in check.”

He was saying he would fight a battle with the Empire with only 50,000 troops.

“Alex.”

“Yes, sir?”

A stern-looking middle-aged man stood up when Siegfried addressed him. Alex had originally been a captain from the Kobrook Republic but when the Republic’s military unified, he stood out to Siegfried and after quickly advancing, he was now a Lieutenant General. In fact, there had been quite a few talented people in the Republican Army but had been undervalued because of their faction. Once Siegfried took control of the military, he took those people as his own and gave them positions that suited them.

Alex had been one of them. Truthfully, Fuhrer Schheimer of the Kobrook Republic actively supported Alex’s rapid advancement. Although Fuhrer Schheimer had entrusted Siegfried with full military authority, there was no way he didn’t feel uneasy. And so, he had planted his own man inside the military to give him some control. Fuhrer Schheimer thought he had made Alex one of his own by giving his daughter to become Alex’s wife. 

Currently, Alex was a Lieutenant General of the Republican Army and the son-in-law of Fuhrer Schheimer. However, there was something Fuhrer Schheimer didn’t know. Alex was so strongly tied to Siegfried that something like a political marriage wasn’t a hindrance.

It had been Siegfried who had first recognized and hired him for his own abilities. There was no way Fuhrer Schheimer, who had half forced him into the marriage only after Alex had become prominent, could compare to Siegfried. Because he knew Alex’s loyalty, Siegfried was giving him the role of holding back the Lester Kingdom. But that wasn’t all.

“In addition to the 150,000 troops, I will also send Captain McCarthy and Captain Franks, both Masters. Their presence should be enough of a deterrent to the Lester Kingdom.”

Everyone was surprised by his words. Considering the power of a Master on the battlefield, they had thought Jake would lead the two Masters alongside a small number of elite men who would confront the Empire. Of course, more than half of them already knew that Jake, as Siegfried’s right hand, was at the level of a Master and Siegfried was also a Master. But even so, their opponent was the Empire. It was a big deal to be giving up two Masters.

“Sir, wouldn’t we be unnecessarily sending too much power just to keep the Lester Kingdom in check?”

In the end, someone had to say something.

Siegfried responded back sharply.

“Do you really think so?”

“Yes, sir. Our Republic… officially holds three Masters. I think it would be a bit too much to send two Masters just to restrain the Lester Kingdom.”

Hearing his subordinate explaining logically and calmly, Siegfried only replied serenely.

“How foolish.”

“…sir?”

Siegfried’s words had been so serene and calm that he didn’t realize he had been criticized. Perhaps it was because Siegfried had said it so matter of factly, as if he had said a mountain was a mountain and water was water? Siegfried spoke.

“It won’t be enough with even two Masters. In fact, if Captain Byron would move the way I wanted, I would have sent him as well. Do you really think the Lester Kingdom would be that easy? The reason we weren’t able to unify the North was because of the Lester Kingdom and Milton Forrest.”

“I’m sorry, sir.”

When his subordinate quickly apologized, Siegfried spoke to everyone.

“This is an important time. We were given two assignments: to defeat the Empire and to stop the Lester Kingdom. I will be in charge of the Empire. I promise upon my name that I will destroy the Imperial Army.”

For those who had been enthralled by Siegfried’s charisma, the word ‘promise’ held special meaning and weight. As long as Siegfried said it, it would surely happen. They had no basis for their belief, but they all believed it. Siegfried continued to talk to his men. 

“As long as I only have one body, I have no choice but to leave it to you to keep the Lester Kingdom in check. But you’re already belittling and underestimating the Lester Kingdom. How can I be at ease and fight against the Empire?”

“I’m sorry, Commander-in-chief.”

“It is our mistake, sir.”

“Please forgive us. We will never make the same mistake again, sir.”

Of course, the person who had previously said that they were sending an excessive amount of forces to the Lester Kingdom, but all of those who had thought similarly apologized. Seeing them like so, Siegfried spoked.

“Alex.”

“Yes, sir.”

“I believe in your experience and wisdom, so I will only give you this one piece of advice.”

He spoke only towards Alex.

“When you face Milton Forrest on the battlefield, I want you to think that I’ve become your enemy and fight.”

“……!”

Alex never thought he would be surprised by what he heard, but nonetheless, he couldn’t help but be surprised by this.

He had been fascinated with Siegfried and knew his abilities, his confidence, and his ambition.

But such a man was saying that Milton Forrest was at the same level as himself?

‘Milton Forrest…’

“I will keep that in mind, sir.”

As Alex’s face turned serious, Siegfried nodded and thought to himself.

‘As long as Alex isn’t careless, at least it won't be a one-sided beating.’

Even Siegfried himself thought that he had placed too many troops for defense, but it couldn’t be helped. The current Lester Kingdom required that much. 

“Good. Then I will announce those who will participate in the fight against the Valence Kingdom with me. Jake, you’re with me.”

“Yes, sir!”

“And all of the Ghost troops will follow me. Also…”

That day, Siegfried selected all the troops that he would take to conquer the Valence Kingdom and even ordered the deployment of troops to restrain the Lester Kingdom. Once completing the meticulous preparations, he quickly led the entire army and left. He had no intentions of dragging out the war. 

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