Chapter 185: Crisis of the Imperial Army (3)

“Is that an old strategy from 700 years ago?”

“I guess the Republican bastards can be romantic.”

“Hahahaha… I agree.”

While the officers were all laughing around him, Count Boris frowned at them.

“How can you be laughing right now?”

They realized that they shouldn’t be laughing and quieted down at Count Bori’s chilly response.

He continued to frown at them as he spoke.

“The enemy is dragging things out to buy time until the rest of their army comes. And just as they wanted, our speed has significantly slowed down. In other words, isn’t it taking us over a week to travel what should have only taken us a day?”

Only then did the officers realize that something was wrong.

“While we have won the three battles, the enemy has kept most of their troops even as they continued to fight. It means that we haven’t achieved as much as we thought we did.”

“Then Count Boris, what will we do from here on out?”

“If the enemy’s purpose is to buy some time, then we can’t play around anymore. From now on, even if we lose our troops, we have to continue to pursue the enemy and ignore the damages to our army.”

“Yes, sir. We understand.”

After giving orders to his officers, Count Boris thought to himself.

‘Siegfried… He’s not as easy as I thought he’d be. But I’ll show him that I'm far better than he is.’

If he was able to find out the enemy’s purpose and intent, then it was evidence that he was better than his enemy. Count Boris was sure of his victory as he smiled in satisfaction.

***

“Sir Siegfried, the enemy is beginning to advance faster.”

Siegfried gave a cold smile as he listened to the report from the messenger.

“He’s finally speeding up?”

He turned to look at the strategy map as he spoke.

“What a slow bastard. I thought he’d realize what was going on by the second battle.”

He continued to talk without looking away from the map.

“Is everything prepared?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. Then move according to the plan. It’s said that the Imperial Army has about 50,000 men, right?”

“Yes, sir.”

“What a perfect size to wipe out.”

Even as he said that, Siegfried’s expression continued to be very calm. He said it as if it was an obvious conclusion.

***

The fourth battle. As before, the Republican Army put up a wooden fence as a barrier in the front. Count Boris stood at the front and boldly charged forward with his knights.

“All forces, attack! Show them the might of the Imperial Army!”

“WAAHH!!”

With their morale high from multiple victories, the Imperial soldiers aggressively attacked their enemies. The Republican soldiers seemed to fight back, but once the Knights appeared, they quickly retreated. 

“Retreat! Retreat!”

“Row 1, retreat to the agreed-upon location!”

The Republican army began to retreat and so far, it was exactly the same as the previous three battles. However, unlike before, Count Boris planned to continue attacking.

“Go after the enemy! Second wave, attack!”

“Yes, sir!”

As soon as he gave the order, one group of soldiers who had been in the back, moved forward and followed behind Count Boris. In order to deal with the enemy’s second line of defense, Count Boris' second group of soldiers in advance. The first group would break through the enemy’s defenses and then the second would destroy the second defense.

“Attack!”

“WAAHHH!!”

Since they hadn’t fought against the enemy’s first defense, Count Boris’ second group was full of energy as they fought against the enemy’s second line of defense. However…

“Retreat!”

The enemy’s second line of defense retreated, dumbfounding the Imperial soldiers.  

‘What’re they doing? Why aren’t they fighting back?’

Count Boris had an odd feeling when the enemy retreated, but his suspicions were soon answered.

“They have a third line of defense, Count Boris.”

“I see, I guess they prepared even more thoroughly this time?”

Unlike before, the enemy seemed to have put in more effort because this time, there was a third line of defense. Having hesitated for a while, Count Boris seemed to have come to a decision because he spoke with determination.

“Charge! Believe in the power of the Empire!”

“WAAHHH!!”

He chose to break through the defense with force. His men’s morale was still high from the repeated victories and he still had more soldiers than the enemy. There was no reason not to attack. 

“They’re coming!”

“Focus, everyone! We have to stop them this time!”

“I know, I know!”

The men guarding the third line of defense focused intently on the charging men. They were the recruits who had fought against and quickly retreated from the Empire in the first battle. In fact, since the war had started, they had constantly been defeated and were always retreating. But ironically, their expressions were better after having been continuously defeated than they had been at the first battle. They were no longer nervous and were now determined; they no longer showed a recruit's anxiety and inexperience.

In the last three battles, they had only experienced defeat and retreating, but they had still experienced battles. And since they knew from the start that retreating was part of the strategy, they didn’t feel like they had lost, but more than anything else, the survival rate was high. Siegfried had used the past three battles as training for the recruits

Not to mention, elite soldiers, who had retreated in the second line of defense, were mixed in with the recruits in the third line of defense.  

“There’s no need to be nervous.”

“Trust in the commander-in-chief’s strategy.”

“If you do, then we will surely win.”

With the elite soldiers encouraging them, the third team became more confident.

“Good, come at me!”

“I’ll kill them all.”

The Imperial soldiers fiercely attacked the Republican soldiers. 

***

“WAAHH!!”

“Die!”

“Gahh…”

The battle was full of blood and the sounds of the men screaming. The third defense barrier wasn’t just a wooden fence but it was dotted with angled spikes that stopped the charging cavalry. In addition, there were knee-deep pits dug here and there that were particularly dangerous to the cavalry. If it were humans that fell into the pit, they would just stagger a bit, but if a running horse fell in, its leg would break and it would collapse. And if the cavalry fell apart, then the rest of the battle line would also fall apart. In the end, their assault power was weaker than Count Boris had expected and once they hit the third line of defense, they began to suffer considerable damage. 

“Kuhh…”

“Damn… guh…”

For the unstoppable wave hit a boulder and crashed. But the Empire had 50,000 men; the Empire had enough men that they could continue to crash upon that boulder until it broke apart. 

“Attack! Attack them!”

“Long live the Andrews Empire!”

Under their commander’s encouragement, the Imperial soldiers continued to fight against the third line of defense. In turn, the Republicans fought back just as hard.

“Endure it!”

“Endure just a bit longer! We will be victorious!”

“Show them the strength of the Republic!”

The Republicans gritted their teeth and endured the Imperial soldiers’ attacks. They were holding onto one ray of hope. While ordinary soldiers were told in detail, they were all told one thing.

[If the third line of defense can hold on for just one hour, we will win this battle.]

That was Siegfried’s pledge to his soldiers. 

His men took those words as hope and gritted their teeth as they fought. And just as the Empire’s soldiers had gotten through the third defense, Siegfried’s plan finally started.

“WAHH!! All those Republican bastards are dea… Guh!”

Just as one of the Imperial soldiers in the back was yelling as he ran around, he suddenly fell. He had been shot in the back. That soldier looked back as if he couldn’t believe what had happened. Then…

“Close the entrance! Block the enemy’s rear.”

Without anyone knowing, the Republicans had encircled the Imperial soldiers.

***

“Count Boris! The enemy has appeared in the back!”

“What? From the back? How big are they?”

“That… that’s not yet known, sir.”

“Quickly find out! Hurry!”

Count Boris clenched his jaw. It had already annoyed him that the enemies in front of him were stubbornly holding on, but now, enemies had appeared in the back?

‘It can’t be an encirclement, could it? Were they waiting for us to charge forward? But how did they expect that?’

Count Boris felt a chill running down his spine. 

‘Behind us is the road we used. Even if they planned to ambush us from a distance, it won’t be a lot of them.’

He tried to get rid of his pessimistic thoughts by being optimistic. Then, he heard the information one of his men brought to him…

“The enemy has about 1,000 men, sir.”

“1,000? As I thought…”

The enemies wouldn’t be effective if they tried to attack Count Boris and his men from the back. There may be some sacrifices, but the officers in the back would be able to deal with the enemies.

“Give the commander who’s at the very end command of 5,000 troops! Tell him to respond to the attack as he pleases.”

Having given the instruction, Count Boris believed that would be enough. However, a messenger soon brought in a completely different report.

“Count Boris! The troops in the back were annihilated.”

“What?”

“Who was the commander?”

“It was Lord Piel, sir.”

Piel was a knight that Count Boris knew very well. He was an Expert knight with Intermediate leveled skills. How could he not have withstood against the enemy?

“What happened to Piel himself?”

“Um… He fought against the enemy in a single combat, sir.”

“What?”

Just how many times would he have to say, ‘What?’ But that was how shocked and confused Count Boris was. His jaw tightened as he spoke to the messenger.

“Who killed Piel?”

“Um… They said… it was Siegfried, sir.”

At those words, it seemed like something broke in his brain. 

“You should have told me that first, you idiotic moron!”

***

Siegfried stood at the front and led 1,000 men to attack the rear of the Imperial Army. Since there was no need for him to hide his power, 1,000 men was more than enough when he was fully exhibiting the strength of a Master.

“Guh…”

“D… damn it.”

“Knights… where are the knights… Ugh!”

However, it wasn’t only Siegfried who was terrifying. The ones following him were Ghost Groups 1 and 2, the most elite group out of all the Ghosts. Unless it was absolutely necessary, they never left Siegfried’s side and once they drank the elixir, the Imperial soldiers were helpless against them. 

“My Lord, the enemy’s formation has collapsed. Should we charge forward, sir?”

Ghost Leader 2 asked for Siegfried’s option, however, Siegfried shook his head. 

“No, we stay where we are right now. We will make the enemy make the worst decision possible for them.”

“Yes, sir!”

Siegfried attacked the back of the Imperial Army, but he did not move forward. All this was for his plan. Count Boris believed he had read his enemy’s intention and thought he was better than Siegfried, however… that was an absurd illusion.

From the beginning, Count Boris and Seigfried were on different levels as a strategist. Count Boris had learned about fighting wars from a book. He believed that predicting and understanding the enemy’s actions would lead to victory. But Siegfried expected more than that. Siegfried didn’t just predict the enemy’s actions, but he caused them to act. This could be seen if you looked back at the war between the two of them from the very beginning. 

Siegfried had waged battles that would double as training for his recruits. Then, he caused Count Boris to remember the Miracle of Salière. Knowing that Count Boris had little experience fighting on an actual battlefield and that he had only studied about wars from books, Siegfried had induced Count Boris to recall that miracle. 

With constant reconnaissance, he had quickly heard that his enemy was speeding up and had dug a pit as preparation. He had prepared not a double line of defense, but a triple line of defense for the enemy’s attack. Siegfried staffed the third line of defense with a combination of elite soldiers and the recruits, who were not as green as before, to stop the enemy while he took 1,000 men to attack the enemy’s rear. With just this, he was able to deal a significant blow to the Empire. All of this had happened because he induced Count Boris to act this way. Like manipulating a puppet, he caused all of Count Boris’s actions through a mix of psychology and strategy. Now all that was left was Siegfried’s final move. 

What would Count Boris do now that he realized that Siegfried himself had appeared at their backs? What would he do at a time where the defense in front of him was too strong to break through but the enemy’s commander-in-chief had appeared at his back?

‘He must really want my head.’

From the Empire's point of view, the outcome of the war depended on whether he could take Siegfried’s head or not. There was no way someone greedy for war achievements that he would take over the vanguard position would ignore such a bait.

‘Now, pick. Pick the worst possible decision you could make.’

Just as Siegfried was thinking that…

 ***

“All knights and soldiers will follow me! We will capture the enemy’s commander in the back!”

Count Boris led his knights and soldiers and turned to charge towards the back. He didn’t realize that this was the worst possible decision that Siegfried had been hoping for. 

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