Chapter 174: Imperial Intervention (2)

“I’ll ask you the reason first. What’s going on this time?”

At Duke Sebastian’s question, Marquis Maroon spoke up first.

“That scumbag’s men harassed my knights.”

“They were just talking. Is that harassment?”

“Who knows where those vermin came from and if they’re talking to my knights, then isn’t obvious what they actually wanted? Am I wrong?”

“What?!”

This time, it was Marquis Burkel who was shouting at Marquis Maroon’s words. Most of his men were mercenaries and some were even bandits. Because he was originally a mercenary, he had created a knighthood in order to give the mercenaries who had the talent a chance. The knighthood was called the Burkel Knights and was led by Marquis Burkel. For him to have named it after himself showed how much he was attached to his subordinates. 

In a way, the two of them were the same. Both of them had succeeded with their own skills in the midst of discrimination and they were working hard to make sure people like them weren’t discriminated against. Perhaps they were so opposed to each other because they were the same. 

Whatever the reason, Marquis Burkel cherished his subordinates so there was no way he could let it go when he heard Marquis Maroon say, ‘who knows where those vermin came from.’

“Fine, maybe they were planning something.”

“Oh? So you’re admitting it, you scumbag?”

“But so what? Is there a problem with that?”

“What? Look at this scumbag being so shameless…”

“Shouldn’t they be grateful instead?”

“What?”

“If not for my men, who’d look at those ugly muscular bitches with scars all over their bodies? They should be looking for a man, why not just tell them to spread their legs open?”

Like a mercenary, Marquis Burkel’s words were forceful and vulgar. Marquis Maroon had flames in her eyes.

“Are you done talking you sleazebag?”

“No, I can keep talking. Since we’re talking, instead of your subordinates, why don’t you…”

“Stop!”

When Marquis Burkel’s words continued to get worse, Duke Sebastian hastily intervened.

‘These crazy…’

Before things got worse, Duke Sebastian stopped the argument between the two of them. But it was obvious that they were already furious and it wouldn’t take much more to set them off.

“……”

“……”

Though they weren’t talking, they were glaring at each other as if they were trying to kill the other with just their eyes.

‘Scumbag.’

‘Crazy bitch.’

If it wasn’t for Duke Sebastian, they would have honestly gone at each other and fought to the death. In fact, they had participated in this war because they wanted to make great contributions during the war and be rewarded with a dukedom. To be more precise, what if their enemy became a Duke first? Neither wanted something so terrible like that to happen.

Duke Sebastian sighed as he watched the two of them.

‘It’s impossible to keep them together in the same army. I’d rather…’

Having come to a resolution, he spoke.

“If you really want to fight, then fight…”

“Thank you for the permission, sir.”

“Good. Come outside, bitch.”

Before Duke Sebastian could finish talking, the two spoke like they were going to start fighting immediately.

“Let me finish talking, you boneheaded numbskulls.”

When Duke Sebastian gritted his teeth and roared at them, they flinched.

‘What strength…’

‘Tsk, what a robust old man.’

Duke Sebastian sighed after calming the two down.

“You won’t be fighting each other. I will never allow a fight to the death between two Masters of the Empire.”

“But Duke, what do you mean then?”

“I’m saying to compete reasonably.”

He spread out a map as he continued to speak.

“Currently, the Republicans are here. They’ve captured and established themselves in six provinces along the border of the Valence Kingdom.”

Confirming that their eyes were focused on the map, he continued. 

“You can get there by five different roads. However, there are only three roads that a large army can travel on.”

“Then, do you plan to divide the army to move, sir?”

He nodded at Marquis Maroon’s question.

“That’s right. We’ll be dividing the army into three so that the enemy would be pressed in all directions. First of all, Marquis Maroon.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You will lead 20,000 soldiers and attack the enemy by taking the road on the right.”

“I understand, sir.”

“And Marquis Matthias Burkel.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You will lead 30,000 soldiers and take the left to attack the enemy.”

“Yes, sir. But… Why am I given 30,000 soldiers? Am I less reliable than that bitch, sir?”

“Of course you are.”

“Shut up you bitch!”

Duke Sebastian frowned when the two started snarling at each other again.

“The road on the left side is wider and there’s a high possibility that a larger army of enemies might be waiting.”

“I see,.”

“Do you want to change?”

At Duke Sebastian’s question, Marquis Burkel thought for a moment before speaking.

“No, sir. This is fine. But if we’re competing like this, then shouldn’t there be a prize for the winner and a penalty for the loser?”

“That’s right. The loser will formally apologize to the winner…”

“The loser will do whatever the winner wants.”

Marquis Maroon interrupted before Duke Sebastian could finish. Marquis Burkel’s eyes glinted at that.

“You, you really mean that?”

“Why? You scared?”

“Ha… No way.”

“Wait a minute, both of you, calm down…”

Before Duke Sebastian could stop them, Marquis Burkel responded to Marquis Maroon.

“If I win, then you’ll dance naked in front of my men. What a rare sight it’ll be. If they learned that the stuck-up Marquis Hailey Maroon will be shaking her ass in front of them, then all the men of the Empire will want to see that titillating sight.” 

“Look here, Marquis Burkel, don’t be ridicul…”

Duke Sebastian tried to stop them but it was useless.

This time, it was Marquis Maroon who spoke up.

“Fine. But if I win, I’ll peel off your skin, and pour salt on you, then hang you out in the square. I’ll make sure you’re alive as long as possible to prolong your suffering, so be prepared. 

“Fine. Let’s see you try, you bitch!”

“Scumbag…”

Duke Sebastian could only sigh silently as he listened to the two of them. 

“……”

‘I give up.’

He was tired of mediating and decided to just let them do whatever they wanted. Either way, it was the Commander who decided who had achieved more during the war, so he’ll just declare it a draw. Honestly, neither was really planning on doing it…hopefully. Anyway, it was impossible to keep the two of them together. Since he had been planning on dividing the army and trapping the enemy, there was nothing to lose. 

“Dismissed.”

Duke Sebastian told them to leave in a weary voice. He sighed as the two left.

“Really, the young people these days don’t hide anything from their elders. I wish they’d stop exhausting this old man.”

He wanted a breather, maybe with a glass of wine, but then…

“Duke Sebastian, why am I not the spearhead? Why do Marquis Maroon and Marquis Burkel get to fight first?”

Marquis Ryan Catel came in shouting, he was also dissatisfied. And Duke Sebastian…

“Gah, stop!”

He shouted back. This was why the leader on-site was always tired.

***

Disregarding the internal strife, the Imperial Army’s battle formation was decided. 20,000 troops would be led by Marquis Hailey Maroon from the right and 30,000 troops would be led by Marquis Matthias Burkel from the left. A large army of 100,000 would be personally led by Duke Hector Sebastian from the center with Marquis Ryan Catel taking the vanguard with 50,000 troops. 

Of course, while the Imperial Army was setting off, Siegfried hadn’t been lazy; he had been straightening out his military for a long time. Thanks to his extraordinary victory as he crossed the border, he had easily taken over six territories. The lords of the territories had all fled and the people living in them had voluntarily surrendered to Siegfried. In addition to all that, his troops were quickly increasing thanks to the support of the Republicans coming to him from all directions. But even with all that going on, he continued to observe the enemy’s movements. Naturally, he would know what the enemy’s troops consisted of and in which direction they would be leading their troops. Siegfried immediately set up a meeting with his staff.

“This is the approximate size and information of the enemy’s advance. If you have any opinions, speak up.”

When Siegfried’s explanation was over, one of his staff spoke.

“If the enemy deliberately splits up their army, then I think it would be best for us to join forces and defeat them one by one, sir.”

“Defeat them one by one?”

“Yes, sir. Their right and left flanks only have 20,000 and 30,000 troops respectively. If we dealt with one of them first…”

“Then their central army will immediately speed up their movements.”

“…Sir?”

“If they did that, what would you do? If we attacked either the right or the left flank first, and the enemy’s central army increased their speed and attacked an unprotected location, what are you going to do?”

“…That’s… um…”

When he couldn’t continue, another staff member spoke up.

“This is an occupied territory. Since we don’t have a foothold, why don’t we leave it empty and attack the left flank first?”

“That’s unreasonable. We are definitely occupying land, but we’ve already established a stronghold, and there are thousands of Republican comrades who are arriving here every day. In the back, there is also non-combatant personnel working hard on military production and creating daily supplies for us.”

“Then what should we do? Then should we wait until the enemy’s encirclement gets closer?”

“No, that’s not it, but we should eliminate methods that we should use and choose the best option out of the remaining ones.”

“Using such a passive method in our current situation is…”

The staff began to exchange ideas so fast it was dizzying. Siegfried merely folded his arms as he listened to them at the head of the table as he mentally gathered information. 

‘What an annoying method they’ve used. I guess the Empire’s fighting now?’

Even in Siegfried’s eyes, this was a difficult situation. Most of the military’s forces were concentrated in the center with a portion of their arm sent to the left and right sides forming an encirclement. It was a very simple strategy, but depending on the quality of the people carrying it out, the effectiveness of the strategy changed.

Currently, Marquis Hailey Maroon and Marquis Matthias Burkel were in charge of the left and right flanks. They were both Masters of the Empire and were said to lead elite knights that they had personally trained to participate in the war. Out of 150,000 troops in the central army, 100,000 men were conscripts from the capital and nearby territories, the left and right flanks consisted of elite soldiers.

If Siegfried divided his army to destroy the elite soldiers, a gap would expose their main base. Although the enemy’s central army’s advancement was quite slow, without a doubt, they were deliberately slowing down their speed. According to Siegfried’s analysis, the enemy was taking ten days for a distance that would only take three days. Why were they doing that? It could only mean that by coming slower and applying pressure to them, the enemy was going to change their strategies according to how Siegfried reacted.

If Siegfried moved to intercept either the left or the right flank, then they would most likely charge forward and attack the main camp. Currently, the Republicans living in the Valence Kingdom were all gathering at the base, so for Siegfried, that would be a troublesome scenario. 

In that case, what if Siegfried attacked the center first? That would also be a bad idea. If he did that, then the left and right flank would quickly attack the main base. Compared to the central army’s 150,000 troops, the left and right flank might seem smaller, but 20,000 and 30,000 troops led by Masters wasn’t going to be easy.

In the end, from what Siegfried could see, attacking any side first would be difficult. He had no choice but to just watch as the enemy’s encirclement got closer and closer. Or, he completely retreated first.

‘It’s like playing chess with someone who set up the board with a checkmate from the very start. How terrible.’

Siegfried sighed. 

Truthfully, the only reason they had been able to set up the board like that was because it was the Empire. This type of strategy was only possible because the Empire had sent four Masters for one war as well as being able to operate an army of 100,000 men so easily. It was a fight in which the strong hunted the weak with overwhelming strength. The Empire had chosen a method in which the strong would win.

‘It’s impossible to defeat them one at a time. But then, we can’t just let the encirclement get closer either. In that case… we can only do the same thing the enemy is.’

Having come to a conclusion, Siegfried interrupted his staff members who were arguing amongst each other.

“We will also divide the army.”

At that, one of his staff asked him a question.

“Then, are we choosing to defeat them one at a time, sir?”

Siegfried shook his head.

“No, that’s not it.”

He met their eyes.

“We’re going to defeat them at all at the same time.”

He was planning to divide his army into three and confront the enemy from all three sides.

“That’s too reckless, Commander.”

“I agree, sir. Although our army has also grown, they’re mostly conscripts.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter