Chapter 188: Consequence of Arrogance (3)

“You XXing bastards!”

“Fight us you sons of bitches!”

“You XXXX assholes! If I caught you, I'm gonna XXXX and kill you!”

“XXXXX…”

The Imperial soldiers’ eyes were bloodshot, not metaphorically, but for real. Because they couldn’t sleep all night, their eyes were red like rabbits from their lack of sleep.

The Republican’s night attack was extremely simple. Archers on horseback would use the special crossbow and fire at them from a distance, and if it seemed like the Imperial soldiers would pursue, they would immediately retreat. They had done this all night long. 

The problem was, no matter how simple it was, the Imperial Army hadn’t been prepared for it. On top of that, when the Imperial soldiers appeared, the Republicans immediately hid in the fortress and the Imperial soldiers couldn’t recklessly pursue them because the crossbow waiting at the watchtower of the fortress would fire at them.

It was the perfect hit and run. Even if they were continuously hit with the same attack, there was no way for the Imperial Army to respond. They were literally being hit even as they saw it coming. All. Night. Long. The soldiers of the Imperial Army weren’t able to sleep properly and suffered from anxiety all night.

“Sir, we have to go on the offensive!”

“If we continue like this, we won’t even be able to fight properly and our soldiers will collapse from exhaustion, sir.”

“We have to attack that mountain fortress while we still can, sir.”

The officers who had suffered as much as the soldiers were furious.

“All of you, be patient. We don’t even have a way of attacking the mountain fortress right now.”

“Even if we formed a siege like this, we don’t have a chance of winning, sir. We don’t even know how much food the enemy stockpiled.”

“There has to be a limit to the food stockpiled in a fortress of that size. Let’s continue to besiege them for at least 10 days and keep watch.”

“If we keep laying siege to them and suffer from the enemy’s guerrilla warfare for ten days, our soldiers will collapse first, sir. Didn’t we go through it yesterday, sir?”

Duke Sebastian tried to calm them down, but the officers continued to rebel against him. Perhaps it was because of their lack of sleep, but they were arguing for attack much more than usual. 

At that moment, Marquis Catel stepped forward and spoke.

“If the soldiers’ exhaustion is the problem, then there’s a solution.”

“What do you mean there’s a solution?”

“We can divide the troops in half. One group will create an encirclement and defend against the enemy at night and the other half will defend during the day.”

“......”

For a second, the officers’ all looked strange.

‘Can we do that?’

‘That seems like it would work…’

‘Oh, that would work.’

Their faces all seemed to ask, ‘Why didn’t we think of that.’ Marquis Catel sighed as he saw the officers’ expressions.

“Although they attacked us all night long last night, in the end, they only continuously tried to lure us in. That means the enemies are just as desperate. Why have none of you realized this.”

None of the officers were able to say anything. Perhaps it was because of extreme stress and lack of sleep? Even they themselves thought their brains weren’t working properly.

“At least ten days. If possible, let’s lock in the enemy for twenty days. Unlike the enemy, we have the advantage of smooth delivery of supplies. Is there any reason not to do this?”

Eventually, the officers had no choice but to accept Marquis Catel’s words. Once the officers had finished shouting and stepped back, Duke Sebastian spoke to Marquis Catel.

“I am ashamed. There’s many things I apologize to you for.”

“......”

Marquis Catel gave him no answer. He had nothing to say. Duke Sebastian must have found Marquis Catel’s silence uncomfortable because he began speaking again.

“I guess we were at peace for too long. I didn’t think the officers would show this kind of weakness in the face of the war’s variables.”

“If all of the Imperial officers are at this level, then I will have to give serious consideration on leaving the Empire, sir.”

Marquis Catel was annoyed by the fact that he now had to participate in a strategy meeting when he was, at the core, a take action military man. There was a limit to what humans could do, but because of these incompetent officers, there hadn’t been time or chance for him to use his strength in the war.

“I’m sorry for that. But not all the Imperial officers are like them. If I knew it was going to be like this, I would have brought him.”

“Who is ‘him,’ sir?”

“A guy. As far as I know, the greatest tactician in the Empire.”

“He’s not also a greenhorn who’s only read books and hasn't actually experienced war, sir?”

“No. He’s different. He has more than enough experience. After all, he’s not a person of the Empire. Like you, he’s a foreigner.”

“If there’s such a person, why didn’t you bring him, sir?”

“Because he’s not a person who would listen to my commands.”

Marquis Catel frowned at those words.

‘Who is it? There has to be less than ten people in the entire Empire who wouldn’t listen to Duke Sebastian.’

Marquis Catel decided to look into it further later. 

***

“The enemy has divided their troops in half and began to form an encirclement in turns, sir.”

Siegfried sighed after he heard the report from Leader 2.

“They’re not taking the bait. I thought the officers with the brains of a goldfish would get so mad that they would attack us at least once.”

Then, Siegfried asked Leader 2 as if he was making sure.

“How many days of food do we have left in the fortress?”

“About a week left, sir. Maybe two weeks if we ration it.”

It was just as Marquis Catel predicted. It was impossible for the Republican Army to have prepared a large amount of food while they were building such a special fortress.

“There’s no need to save, so make sure you feed them enough.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And regardless of day or night, keep trying to attack them every three or four hours”

“Understood, sir.”

“But don’t be reckless and overdo it. However, you also shouldn’t leave the impression that you’re not giving it your all. The enemy has to think that we’re doing everything we can to break the siege.”

“Yes, sir.”

Siegfried muttered as he turned back to look at the enemy camp from the top of the fortress.

“A week is enough.”

***

The Republican Army continued to carry out the same operation for three days and the Imperial Army was constantly tormented by the hit and run operation. At first, the Imperial Army struggled to respond to the Republicans’ attacks, but as time passed, they began to respond skillfully.

“Those annoying bastards are back.”

“Aren’t they tired?”

“They’re most likely resting in turns as well. Just like us.”

The Imperial Army had become so used to the attacks that the soldiers were able to show such relaxed attitudes and the commanders also got faster in giving out orders.

“Lift your shields! Infantry, advance!”

“Don’t chase them too deep. It’s enough as long as we pressure them.”

The Republic’s surprise attacks were no longer doing any damage to the Empire. Perhaps it would have been different if there were more cavalry men with special crossbows, but since quick maneuvering was key, the number of cavalry was only around 500 men. In fact, there were more people available, but since the unit conducting the surprise attacks also had to maintain their stamina, they were attacking in three shifts.

And so, the battlefield fell into a fixed state. If it went as Marquis Catel predicted, then the Empire would prevail as time continued to pass. The reason for it was this: unlike the completely isolated Republican Army, the Imperial Army had a consistent supply line from the capital of the Valence Kingdom. 

‘Without a doubt, we have the advantage. But then why… why do I feel so anxious?’

Marquis Catel was feeling very uneasy about this situation, but it wasn’t like his anxiety was unwarranted. The reason he was feeling so anxious was because of the current situation itself. Perhaps it would be different if they were crossing swords, one on one, on the battlefield, could Siegfried really lose to himself in a battle of strategy tactics? Could this be a normal situation?

‘There’s no way that’s possible. There’s no way that my tactical skills are better than Siegfried’s.’

In the end, Marquis Catel thought that the whole situation was unusual. After listening to Marquis Catel, Duke Sebastian spoke.

“Aren’t you worrying about this too much?”

“But something’s strange, sir.”

“Aren’t you overestimating the enemy? Even if he is a genius, there’re limits to what he can do within limited conditions. We have an advantage over them, so of course we’re winning against them. What’s strange about that?”

“......”

Logically, what Duke Sebastian was saying was correct.

However, Marquis Catel’s anxiety wasn’t gone.

‘Something… there’s something important that we’re missing.’

Marquis Catel’s anxiety was answered that night. In the worst possible way.

***

“Night attack… The enemy’s night raiding again, sir.”

Hastily, an aide brought in the report and Marquis Catel frowned as he heard it. 

“Hasn’t that already been happening? Was the siege broken or something?”

“...it’s… it’s not a surprise attack from the front, sir.”

“What?”

“A force launched a raid from the back, sir.”

“......”

Marquis Catel’s face hardened as the aide, despairingly, continued to report to him.

“The size of the enemy’s force is more than 10,000 men and the knight leading them identified himself as Jake, sir.”

“No… can’t be… it can’t…”

Seeing Marquis Catel unable to say anything, the aide continued to speak in a grave voice.

“Sir, he led his unit to attack and… captured the supply line.”

“Damn it!”

Marquis Catel jumped out of his seat.

Then, without putting on his armor, he only grabbed his sword and shouted:

“All the Knights will follow me!”

Then, heedless of the dangers, ran towards the location of the supply line. Along the way, Marquis Catel met Duke Sebastian who was dressed just like him.

“Duke, the enemies are…”

“I heard. Quickly!”

Duke Sebastian also recognized the seriousness of the situation and hurried. While they moved with only the minimum number of knights, they still had two Masters. As long as the two of them arrived on time, they could avoid the worst possible situation.

That’s right. As long as they arrived on time.

“Guh…”

“Damn it…”

The two masters gritted their teeth at the sight in front of them. The whole supply line was burning right in front of their eyes. It was a cruel reality they wanted to deny.

***

The war was overturned at once.

The units lead by Jake not only attacked the supply lines for the main army, but they had also attacked and destroyed all the supply lines leading from the capital of the Valence Kingdom to the expeditionary forces. Even if you were the greatest commander in the world, it was impossible to lead an army and wage war when their supplies had been cut off. That’s why the Imperial Army had tried to isolate and kill off the Republicans that way. However, they never thought they would be in an even more difficult position.

The cause of that was Jake. At the beginning of the war, Siegfried had handed over to Jake the best elites of the Republican Army. As a result, Jake had caught a giant of the Imperial Army, Marquis Burkel, and made a name for himself. After that, the whereabouts of Jake and his men became unknown.

Naturally, the Imperial Army had thought they had rejoined the main army. It was a natural conclusion since the Republicans had so few troops that it would be necessary to gather as many troops as possible to confront the Imperial Army. 

However, Siegfried’s orders to Jake had been different. Siegfried had commanded Jake to hide with the Republicans in the Valence Kingdom and cut off the supply line from behind the enemy. He had already given Jake an order that would tie up the loose ends just as the war had started. 

It was like everything was happening on top of Siegfried’s palm. 

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