Siegfried, who had completely destroyed the vanguard forces of the Imperial Army, took his men back to their base. It had defensive lines prepared in advance as he had ordered.
“We will greet the Imperial Army from here.”
Siegfried personally dispatched his troops and carefully looked over the situation. If it all went as he had planned, then this battle would be the last fight in the Valence Kingdom. It was only natural that he paid close attention to it.
The main army of the Empire had finally arrived.
“Huh… so that’s the bastard’s base?”
Duke Sebastian couldn’t help but admire his enemy’s base when he saw it. According to the map, there should have been a small hill with a river behind it. At first, he had wondered why the enemy had set up their camp here. Since there was a river behind them, it would be difficult to retreat and even if there was a slight elevation that the hill might give them, it wasn’t much. But now that he was here and looking at it, the situation was completely different.
The Republic had built the perfect fortress on the small hill. They had built something similar to a maze out of stone walls and fences all over the hill and high watchtowers were built here and there to provide a view that would overlook the entire hill. And when he looked closely, Duke Sebastian realized that the hill was taller than he had heard. It was more believable to say it was a small mountain instead.
“So he used the terrain perfectly and made a fortress. What do you think, Marquis Catel?”
Duke Sebastian called over Marquis Catel to ask for his opinion. Although Duke Sebastian did not listen to his advice, he now admitted that Marquis Catel was far more capable than the officers under his command. Marquis Catel stood in front of Duke Sebastian as he carefully observed the enemy’s fortress.
“It is a perfect mountain fortress, sir.”
“So it’s not just a fortress, but it’s a mountain fortress?”
“Yes, sir. If you think about it, Siegfried was originally from the Hildes Republic and their specialty is mountain warfare.”
“I’ve heard rumors. Are they really that amazing?”
“When the Republic still had three countries, their unit was the hardest and most demanding. There were times when we lost three times, and sometimes even five times as many men when we encountered them in the mountains.”
“Hm… So you’re saying that if we entered that fortress, no, that mountain fortress, then those units would be waiting for us?”
“Yes, sir. That’s probably why the walls aren’t sturdy and why they made a fortress instead. That isn’t meant to protect, but it’s a trap meant to lure and push us.”
Duke Sebastian nodded.
“Let’s carefully try a couple things first.”
At the command of Duke Sebastian, the Imperial Army began their siege.
Their first attempt was to use siege weapons and destroy the mountain maze itself. But they couldn’t even try.
With a harsh sound, the Republican’s catapult flew first and struck a large boulder.
On top of that, arrows flew nonstop from the watchtowers in the distance and the power behind the arrows were out of the ordinary.
“Guh… My… My arm!”
“Damn, our shields, what kind of arrow… Ugh!”
Eventually, the soldiers who had been using the siege weapons became the focused targets of the Republicans and had to retreat without being able to attack properly.
“So it’s impossible. The difference in elevation is stopping us.”
“Yes, Duke Sebastian. Because of their altitude, the enemy’s attack will always reach us first. And… The siege weapons with that kind of an aim are most likely specially engineered from the Hanovirtue Republic. They’re good with siege weapons.”
“And that powerful arrow would be from the special crossbow from the Kobrook Republic.”
“Yes, sir. It seems like it’ll be impossible to fight them from a distance, sir.”
“It can’t be helped. Then shall we try fighting them head-on?”
And at Duke Sebastian’s order, approximately 5,000 troops began to move. They divided into units of thousands and headed for the fortress in different directions. Since there were five entrances into the mountain fortress, Duke Sebastian was sending in different reconnaissance units to each to see which of the entrances was the weakest and the most dangerous. He had sent them with the order to not take unnecessary risks and withdraw if it seemed dangerous.
A few minutes later, there seemed to be noises coming from within the fortress.
“A fight’s broken out, sir.”
“I don’t expect there to be an immediate result. The priority is for them to return with information.”
With that, Duke Sebastian began to wait calmly for the results. As a commander, it might be a heartless decision, but there were times where it was necessary to see humans as just numbers in order to wage war. It was alright even if they weren’t able to break through the mountain fortress as long as they returned with a bit of information since the next group would be able to use that information to get further into the fortress.
‘I will most definitely attack you.’
Two hours later.
Duke Sebastian’s expression turned hard.
“Siegfried, you bastard.”
His expression was grim as glared at the highest top of the mountain fortress with clenched teeth. He had waited two hours. In that time period, the noise within the fortress had completely disappeared.However, the problem was that no one had returned. He had heartlessly sent in 5,000 men into that fortress while predicting that the casualties would be great. But he had never thought they would all be wiped out without being able to bring back any information.
“This time we’re putting 10,000, no, 20,000 at the lead. And the Knights will go with them.”
The officers flinched but started making moves to carry out Duke Sebastian’s order, however, Marquis Catel stepped forward and stopped them.
“That’s too dangerous, Duke. Us sending in troops bit by bit is exactly what the enemy wants us to do.”
“Then what should we do?”
“If we really attacked the fortress that the bastard Siegfried prepared, then we would have to send in all the troops without reserve. And you and I will have to be at the front and open a way for them.”
“If that’s so, then that’s what we’ll do. Prepare for it immediately.”
“Let me finish, sir. Even if we do do that, there’s no guarantee it would work. He knew you and I were a part of the army, that’s why he prepared that maze. He will most likely have prepared countermeasures for us.”
“As I said before, we cannot underestimate Siegfried, sir. That bastard is…”
Marquis Catel trailed off, then continued on with a dispirited voice.
“He really is a genius of war, sir.”
“He’s a monster of war.”
Duke Sebastian agreed with him weakly. Truthfully, when the war had started, he had taken it for granted they would win, but he hadn’t known how strong the enemy would be.
‘If I knew this, I wouldn’t have come. If they had come, it would have been better.’
Duke Sebastian sighed mentally. When the Empire’s Masters were ranked, Duke Hector Sebastian was in fifth place. He was recognized by the other Masters because he was the oldest and had defended the Empire for a very long time, however, if it was based on sheer strength and skills, there were three people he could never win against.
Marquis Baker Gotham.
Duke Dominic Florian.
Duke Christian Schweiker.
If it was those three, the Empire would not have suffered this shame, especially, if it had been Duke Christian Schweiker. If he was here, a maze like that would never have been a problem.
‘If that monstrous man was here, he would have just gone and destroyed everything.’
Even if they were both Masters, Duke Sebastian could see that Duke Schweiker was someone whose strength was on a completely different level. Duke Christian Schweiker was the strongest person in the Empire. For reference, Duke Sebastian was the mentor of such a person, even if Duke Schweiker had overtaken his mentor in his early 30s.
“Tsk. There’s no point in regretting the lack of a person who isn’t here.”
Even though Duke Sebastian missed his dislikeable disciple, it couldn’t be helped now.
“If it’s impossible to attack, then… the only thing left is the standalone operation.”
For the time, Marquis Catel agreed to Duke Sebastian’s words.
“Yes, sir. The enemy fortress has a river behind it so they’ll be able to last a while but… there’s no way they would have been able to stockpile a lot of supplies in that fortress with such a complex maze like that.”
“Hm… Let's lock them in for about ten days first. And just in case, send a reconnaissance team upstream of the river.”
“What for, sir?”
“So that they could block or stop that river from trickling down if it’s possible.”
“That’s a good idea, sir.”
And so, the Imperial Army’s siege began.
“The enemies aren’t coming in anymore?”
“No, My Lord. After the first 5,000 scouts entered, they started besieging us and aren’t attacking us anymore, sir.”
Siegfried grimly laughed after listening to the Ghost Leader 2’s report.
“So I crushed them too hard. If I had known, I would have shown them a gap.”
Siegfried couldn’t hide his feelings of regret. This mountain fortress was a masterpiece that had been created from a flash of inspiration he had gotten the moment he had seen the terrain. This was the last line of defense that he had come up with after he looked at the terrain and drew a picture of everything that would happen until the end of the war. From the moment he had made this place their base, he had started construction and once it was finished, it had turned out better than he had thought.
In order to perfectly defend the mountain fortress, Siegfried’s level of command and judgement might be required, but as long as it was done properly it was capable of only needing 20,000 troops to take down a large army of 100,000 men. Even Siegfried himself was reluctant to attack the fortress head-on. Moreover, the Imperial Army has lost a considerable amount of elite soldiers and most of their men had been forcibly conscripted from the Valence Kingdom.
For Siegfried, it was absolutely regrettable that the enemies weren’t coming anymore.
“Can’t be helped. We move according to the original plan.”
The next day, Siegfried’s full-fledged attack began.
At the commander’s order, arrows flew high into the sky. They were not ordinary arrows, they were special crossbows used by the cavalry archers in the Kobrook Republic. Of course, the cavalry also rode on Silfids, a breed that was evaluated to be one of the top three horse breeds on the continent. They had used the middle of the night to get closer to their enemies and released their arrows.
“Wake up! Everyone, wake up!”
“The enemies’ are attacking!”
The Republican Army quickly responded.
“Chase after them!”
The Knights quickly got on their horses and chased after the cavalry. But because they were too late, the enemies were too far for them to catch up to. The cavalry quickly retreated back into the mountain fortress and the Knights had to stop.
“Withdraw quickly! If we get closer… guh!”
Because it was nighttime, the Knights had unintentionally pursued too far into enemy territory and soldiers who had been waiting for them high up in the watchtowers of the fortress shot arrows at them with the crossbows. Eventually, the Knights couldn’t accomplish anything and instead, suffered defeat and retreated. However, because of the Knights’ quick response, the Imperial Army suffered less damage than expected from the night attack. The fire arrows had slightly burnt their barracks, but it had been quickly extinguished and there wasn't much damage.
“Reorganize the lines.”
“Move quickly. The faster it’s cleaned up, the more you can rest.”
The commanders encouraged the soldiers to quickly reorganize as they identified the damages. They quickly cleaned things up and tried to go back to sleep. But then…
“It’s a night attack!”
“The enemies are attacking!”
The soldiers had to get up again from their beds. The Republicans had begun their night attacks again, but like before, it wasn’t a full-fledged night attack. They were just cavalry archers firing from a distance. The problem was, the Imperial Army couldn’t just ignore it. One of the soldiers mumbled as they hid from the arrows.
“Those bastards can’t do this all night, can they?”
The soldiers who heard those words all became anxious. Somehow, they had the feeling those words would become reality.Previous Chapter Next Chapter