Chapter 175: Imperial Intervention (3)

Currently, the Republican Army had 100,000 men and of them, 50,000 were elite soldiers while the other 50,000 men were those who had recently become Republicans. It was obvious that if they divided the army into three when their troops were like this, the overall effectiveness would drop. When his officers began to desperately oppose his idea, Siegfried spoke.

“You are overlooking three things.”

Once he had all their attention, he continued to speak.

“First of all, there is a big difference in the quality of their recruits. While we and the Imperial Army both recruited from inside the Valence Kingdom, there is a big difference in quality.”

Siegfried paused for a moment.

“The enemy forcibly recruited the people from the capital and most of those people are barely armed and their weapons are poor.”

Just as Siegfried had said, the recruits currently conscripted by the Imperial Army were mostly cowardly soldiers. The Empire had only given them a single spear and none of them were given leather armor. Additionally, there was a big difference in the age range of the recruits. The Republican Army had only recruited the able men out of all the young and elder soldiers that had joined.

“We are made up of comrades who have voluntarily joined because they agreed with the ideas of Republicanism and we prepared equipment in advance so that they can be fully armed. This difference in the quality of soldiers cannot be taken lightly.”

Siegfried’s officers were convinced and nodded in agreement. He continued to speak.

“Secondly, you do not understand what a strategy of war is.”

At his censure, their faces reddened and they looked down. If anyone else had said it, they would have disagreed, but it was Siegfried, someone they recognized as their Supreme Commander and Strategist of the Republic. He had even recently gained a new nickname once it was revealed that he was a Master - the Monster Commander. Even if it was a simple reprimand, it all depended on who said it.

Siegfried spoke to his officers in the same tone of voice a teacher would use to teach his students.

“In a strategy of war, it is important to think beyond the enemy’s action and to outwit them.”

He pointed at the map.

“The enemy has given us two paths: either we move to defeat them individually or we prepare to fight once they encircle our stronghold. Those are the two options given to use by the enemy. It is impossible for us to get good results on a chessboard prepared by the enemy. We need to make our moves so that it’s something the enemy wouldn’t expect.” 

Most of the officers nodded as they understood. They had definitely been trying to figure out what to do based on the choices offered by the enemy when there was no need to do that.

“And finally, the third thing you’re overlooking, who do you think I am?”

His unexpected remark confused them. At that moment, some of his officers were quick on the uptake as they shouted, ‘Ah!’ Siegfried turned to look at them.

“Who am I?”

When Siegfried asked it again, his officers replied.

“You are Commander Siegfried, sir.”

“The War God of the Republic, sir.”

“A symbol of the undefeated and a hero of the Republic, sir.”

Siegfried gave a bland smile when one of them talked about being ‘undefeated.’

“Thanks to someone from the Lester Kingdom, it’s hard to say I’m ‘undefeated’ but… you’re right. I am Siegfried of the Republic.”

Siegfried straightened his back as determination glowed in his eyes.

“Believe in me and follow me. I promise you I will lead you to victory. That is the third thing you’ve overlooked.”

It could be said that he was being overly self-confident, but maybe it’s because the person who said it was Siegfried, but it didn’t sound awkward at all.

“Yes, Commander!”

Looking at all his officers replying to him in unison, he spoke. 

“We’ll begin creating an operational plan and troop compositions. I want everyone to keep in mind that everything we discuss from here on out is top secret. Those who violate it will be dealt with according to military law.”

“Yes, Sir!”

Siegfried and his officers began coming up with a plan to counteract the advancing Imperial Army and the Republican Army swiftly moved out that day. 

***

“The enemy divided their army into three?”

Having received a report on the Republican Army’s movements, Duke Sebastian questioned his hearing for a moment.

“Yes, sir, that’s right. They’ve divided the army into three, 40,000 in the central army, 30,000 for the right, and 30,000 for the left, and all of them seem to be on the move, sir.”

“……”

Duke Sebastian couldn’t understand. He understood WHAT the messenger was saying, but he couldn’t understand WHY the enemy was acting so strangely. Were they diving their army into three because their enemy divided the army into three? What a stupid move. If you divided the army like that and fought on different battlefields, then it was obvious that the side with more troops would have the advantage. Whether you look at it qualitatively or quantitatively, the Imperial Army overwhelmed the Republican Army, so it seemed extremely foolish.

The problem was, Duke Sebastian didn’t think Siegfried was stupid enough to do something this ridiculous. It had been Siegfried who had defeated the Strabus Kingdom, a kingdom that was known to have the second most powerful military after the Empire on the continent. Additionally, recent intelligence reports had said that Siegfried had also reached the level of a Master.  Duke Sebastian didn’t know why one person had been given so many talents, but one thing was certain, Siegfried was a great strategist and a formidable enemy.

‘Something… is there something that I’m overlooking?’

Feeling anxious, Duke Sebastian immediately spread out his strategic map and looked at it carefully. However, no matter how closely he looked, he couldn’t understand the enemy’s intentions.  

‘What a headache. There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than not being able to understand the enemy’s purpose.’

Racking his brain, he fell into deep thought as he poked his forehead with a finger. 

He finally came to a decision…

“Tell Marquis Ryan Catel leading the vanguard to advance as carefully as possible since the enemy might be planning something.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And tell Marquis Hailey Maroon and Marquis Matthias Burkel that the enemy is acting oddly so rather than a quick victory, it’d be better to respond carefully.”

“Yes, sir.”

 After giving instructions to the messenger, he sighed and muttered to himself.

“As long as we decide to do things carefully and not deviate from standard procedure… we shouldn’t be defeated too badly.”

In the end, what Duke Sebastian decided to do was to alert each army so that they would be vigilant. Truthfully, this was all that he could do without knowing what Siegfried planned to do. Just the fact that he didn’t think Siegfried was acting foolishly was evidence that Duke Sebastian hadn’t lived his long life in vain. But he had made a mistake in expecting the same level of wisdom from the other three fighting to be the foremost part of their army. 

***

Both Marquis Maroon and Marquis Burkel expressed displeasure when they were given Duke Sebastian’s command to slow down and carefully observe the situation before responding. For the two of them, this war wasn’t just something that had to be won, but the achievement won from it played an important role in their bet. If they thought about it logically, they also knew that as important as Masters were to the Empire, they couldn't overextend themselves to the point of burning out. Even still, it was very clear to them that winning this bet would ruin the other’s face and reputation, but more than that, they both really hated losing. Naturally, the two of them dismissed Duke Sebastian’s warning and sped up their advance instead. 

As a result, Marquis Burkel encountered the enemy first. 

“Hmm…. Is that the Ghost? That elite unit directly under Siegfried?”

Marquis Burkel nodded as he saw the elite troops in front of him. Even from a distance, they looked quite formidable with their black armor and skull helmets. As Siegfried made a name for himself, the Ghosts became more renowned as well. Even if the existence of the elixir was still a secret, they were known as the elite unit directly under Siegfried’s command. They were the final blade that the Hildes Republic had nurtured with great care. That’s how they were recognized by the world. 

However, even if the Ghost’s existence was known to some degree, not everything about them was known. 

“What’s the name of their commander?”

“Jake, sir.”

“Jake? I’ve never heard of him.”

Marquis Burkel searched his memories, but he couldn’t recall the name Jake. 

***

It made sense that Marquis Burkel didn’t know Jake, after all, Siegfried had hidden Jake’s existence as much as possible. According to Siegfried, it was advantageous to have as many hidden cards as possible. Just as he had hidden the fact that he was a Master as much as possible, Jake had also been a trump card that Siegfried had hidden. The Ghost leader and a Master himself, as well having the loyalty to give up his own life if it was Siegfried’s command, Jake’s existence was Siegfried’s joker, the ultimate wild card. Jake was a card that Siegfried had wanted to hide without using unless it was absolutely necessary.

But that was only until now. Siegfried had given Jake an army and sent him to the battlefield. After hiding Jake for so long, Siegfried was finally revealing him to the world.

“How’s the army doing?”

“They’re all finished, sir.”

“I see.”

Jake calmly listened to the report from his subordinate as he scowled at the enemy.

“Master Burkel…”

Unlike Marquis Burkel who didn’t know who Jake was, Jake knew Marquis Burkel very well. It was only natural since Burkel was someone who had originally been a mercenary, then became a Marquis of the Empire once he had become a Master. He was so famous it would be more difficult to find someone on the continent who didn’t know him.  If they were an average person, anyone who found out their enemy was Marquis Burkel would either cower away or mentally break down.

But Jake was different. 

“So he’s someone who succeeded with just his sword? I’m looking forward to it.”

A smile began to form on Jake’s face. He was sincerely looking forward to the match with Marquis Burkel. Watching him like that, the Ghost unit leaders under him smiled with all their trust in him. Although they knew about Marquis Burkel, they weren’t overwhelmed by him because they had someone even more dangerous on their side.

‘Captain Jake is finally going to be shown to the rest of the world.’

‘The world is going to be upset.’

In their eyes, Jake was like a beast who had finally been released out into the world after having been locked up in a cage for a very long time. 

Before entering the battle, Jake had been given one order from Siegfried.

[I will take care of the central army and there’s a plan for dealing with Marquis Maroon. But Jake, I didn’t give you any plans or strategies. Do you know why I didn’t?]

Jake gave him a smile full of hidden meanings.

[Do you want me to defeat them forcefully head-on, sir?]

[That’s right. Of the three fights, you must defeat the enemy with force and not resourcefulness. Can you do it?]

At Siegfried’s question, Jake responded with confidence.

[As long as you command it, My Lord, I will even defeat a large army of 1 million, sir.]

[Good. I’ll trust you then.]

That was it. Siegfried, a famous strategist who was thought of as being one of the top three in the continent, hadn’t devised any tactics or strategies for Jake. Of course, he had given Jake enough elite soldiers that Jake wouldn’t be pushed back by the enemy in terms of strength or numbers. Unlike the other armies, Jake’s men didn’t consist of recruits but of trained elite soldiers, not to mention that the Ghosts made up 80 percent of Jake’s men. It was an order to overcome the Empire’s army led by Matthias Burkel in a match dealing with pure strength and force.

And Jake had the confidence to carry out that order.

“Group 2 and Group 3.”

“Yes, Captain.”

“Yes, Captain.”

“I want each of you to lead the right and the left flanks. Spread out so that you’re not surrounded by the enemies.”

“Yes, Sir!”

“Groups 4 and 5 will follow me. We will be in the center, advancing straight forward.”

Jake’s instructions were for a typical breakthrough. It was a formation in which he would try to break through the center while preventing the risk of being surrounded himself by having strong forces on the right and left flanks.  

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