Duke Sebastian explained everything that happened during the war. Then, at Antras’ request, he gave him all the information he had on both Milton and Siegfried.
Antras began to speak after listening to it all.
“Hahaha… The dragon and the tiger are fighting each other.” 
“The dragon and tiger? What do you mean?”
Antras opened his fan and began explaining with a clear voice at Duke Sebastian’s question.
“There is a tiger crouching in the forest and waiting for an opportunity. Then, it moves quickly and aggressively. This is Siegfried. He is a man who has both patience and aggressiveness, the very essence of a wise tiger.”
“And there is a dragon sleeping in a small pond where no one would notice it. As the dragon ascended to the sky, numerous clouds gathered around him, creating a magnificent view. This is Grand Duke Forrest. He is the hero of troubled times, truly a dragon chosen by fate.”
Duke Sebastian sighed at Antras’ poetic explanation.
“I never seem to understand what you’re saying.”
“Hahaha… I’m just saying that these two youngsters are very talented.”
“Then you should’ve just said that…”
“Either way, it’ll be difficult for an Empire that’s been indolent for a long time to deal with them.”
Duke Sebastian wanted to disagree but their recent defeat had been too great. Antras continued to speak to him.
“Sebastian, let me have an audience with His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor. I have something to tell him.”
“Alright, I understand.”
Thus, Antras met the Emperor of the Andrews Empire. He was 72 years old.
“So you’re Antras? According to Duke Sebastian, you were a chancellor in the Southern continent’s empire?”
Antras smiled softly at the emperor’s question.
“Now I’m just a simple man living the rest of my life due to the grace of Your Imperial Majesty, sire.”
From the moment he saw him, the emperor liked Antras. Antras had managed to harmonize humility and boldness and made it look natural. With that one private meeting with the Emperor, Antras showed his wisdom and caused the Emperor to look favorably upon him.
There were many people in the world who were wise. But because of their high self-confidence and pride, they often said remarks that their monarchs didn’t want to hear and weren’t kept by their monarchs’ sides.
In that sense, Antras was different. He knew very well what kind of person an emperor was. He had watched over and served two different emperors in Jae Nation. When dealing with an emperor, he knew how to argue for his opinion without offending them.
[Incompetent monarchs are made by incompetent subjects. He who believes in his own wisdom and demands unilateral faith from his monarch is no different from those who are incompetent.]
That was what he taught his children during his time as a Chancellor for the Jae Nation.
He persuaded the emperor to withhold the second reinforcement troops that the emperor seemed to want to dispatch at any moment, instead, Antras told the emperor to wait two years.
“Why should I wait two years?”
“Your Imperial Majesty, it is because the peace treaty between the Lester Kingdom and the Republic will last for that long.”
“As soon as the peace treaty is over, you should attack the Republic first, sire. At the same time, send an ambassador to the Lester Kingdom asking for their cooperation.”
“Ooh… I see. That would make it easier to topple the Republic, but will the Lester Kingdom accept our request?”
“No, sire, they won’t. They’ll try to avoid it and give us all sorts of excuses.”
“Then what’s the point?”
“Because it’s important for us to create a situation in which the Empire leads a fight against the Republic first, Your Majesty. While it would be nice to have the Lester Kingdom there, it’ll be enough to make sure they won’t interfere.”
“As long as we make sure they don’t intervene, we can concentrate on the Republic’s attack. And even if the Lester Kingdom doesn’t send reinforcement troops, the Republic won’t be able to leave the borders they share with the Lester Kingdom free of troops.”
“I see, I see.”
“We, the Empire, can devote all our forces to this war, but the Republic will only be able to mobilize 50 percent of its forces, 60 percent at most. The difference in power will only get greater and eventually, the Republic will collapse.”
Antras’ plan wasn’t just to win the war immediately in front of them, he was planning for the bigger future. He was planning for the fall of the Republic.
“What a truly remarkable plan. I will appoint you as Chancellor of the Andrews Empire and have you take responsibility for this operation.”
“I’m sorry, Your Imperial Majesty, but I am an outsider. If you suddenly raise me to such an important post in the Empire, it will surely cause unrest.”
“I think it may be best if I was just an advisor that stayed in the palace and gave you my opinions and ideas, Your Imperial Majesty.”
“If that’s what you want…”
And so, the emperor appointed Antras as the emperor’s teacher and named him the Silver Sage.
While it wasn’t a formal title, the fact that he was Duke Sebastian’s friend and the emperor’s teacher meant he held more power than a mere title would give him.
Thus, the Empire sharpened its sword during their two year preparation. The world didn’t know why the Empire waited so long, but this was all part of the bigger plan that Antras was forming.
The Imperial Army began moving north with a force as large as 300,000 men. The Empire was committed and was earnestly moving its military.
King Nicholas of the Valence Kingdom readily opened the way for the Empire and offered to provide supplies and men. However, the emperor only allowed him to open the way and provide supplies. King Nicholas thought the emperor was being benevolent, but the truth was, Antras had something to say about it.
[It would be a waste to have that ragtag group join the Imperial Army, sire.]
With that one sentence, the Valence Kingdom was dismissed from this war.
Truthfully, whether they were a ragtag group or not, numbers played a big role in a war. However, Antras was looking at this war differently. When you’re building a wall, you use nicely formed, solid bricks. But if you added irregularly shaped rocks, then you’d only get gaps in that wall. He had excluded the Valence Kingdom and gave orders to the Imperial Army.
[Attack the entire southern region of the Republic. However, there’s no need to overdo it. It’s fine even if you can’t conquer the castle, just keep attacking.]
The front-line commanders were puzzled when they were given orders that said it was alright if they didn’t conquer the castle, but an order from the emperor was indisputable.
Thus, a full-fledged war broke out in the southern region of the Republic.
Three weeks after the war began, Seigfried was given a report on the outcome of the battle.
“There’s a report from the front-line, Your Excellency.”
“There are 17 battles taking place in the South and no castles have been captured yet, sir. The soldiers are fighting bravely and are pushing back the Imperial Army, sir.”
“I see, that truly is remarkable.”
“Hahaha. Hasn’t it already been proven that the Empire was incompetent in fighting war, sir?”
The Republican officers all smiled broadly at the messenger’s report, however, Siegfried’s expression stiffened.
“None of the castles have fallen?”
“None of them, Your Excellency.”
Even Siegfried knew that there were several vulnerable castles on the southern front. There were some that didn’t have enough budget to maintain it, while others had been deliberately weakened to bait the enemy into capturing it so that the Republic in turn could surround them.
But how could none of them be taken?
There was no way the Empire that was attacking their entire southern front was that weak. There was something odd about this; something wasn’t right.
“Yes, Your Excellency.”
“Immediately send out carrier pigeons and collect detailed reports of each battle. How many there are, the results of those battles, our casualties and injuries. Have them report everything.”
The messenger moved to carry out Siegfried’s order
A few days later.
“How… how could this happen?”
Siegfried’s hand gripping the report began to tremble.
“Fuhrer, is something wrong?”
“Bring me a map! Quickly!”
Siegfried shouted with urgency.
Once he checked the frontlines on the map, he gritted his teeth.
“Here, here, here, and even here…”
Siegfried pointed to more than ten locations on the map.
“Instruct the locations I pointed out to retreat immediately. Have them retreat even the second wave of defense!”
The high-ranking Republican officers looked bewildered at Siegfried’s order.
One of them spoke up.
“Your Excellency, the Republican soldiers are fighting hard. The situation isn’t looking unfavorable to us, so why are you ordering them to retreat, sir?”
“It’s because they’re fighting so hard that there’s a problem.”
“There’s no time. Immediately instruct the front lines! And Jake!”
“Yes, Your Excellency?”
“Ready the Central Army. I’ll be going to the front.”
Siegfried decided to move quickly. He had decided to oversee the entire situation and pass orders and instructions from the capital because of the Lester Kingdom in the west rather than heading out to the frontlines. However, looking at the situation, he couldn’t do that.
‘If I found out even a month later, this wouldn’t have been reversible.’
The situation on the frontlines had gotten so bad that Siegfried couldn’t help but think this.
Duke Sebastian rushed into the palace asking for an audience with the emperor.
He was led by a palace attendant to a garden where the emperor was drinking tea with Antras.
“Ah, you’ve come?”
Antras greeted him happily but Duke Sebastian paid his respect to the emperor first.
“I, Hector Sebastian, greet the Empire’s only monarch.”
“Welcome, Duke Sebastian.”
Duke Sebastian handed over a letter to the emperor after greeting him.
“It’s an urgent message from the frontline, sire.”
The emperor read the letter and smiled.
“Ooh… It says that the Republican Army has left the forts on their own.”
The emperor explained the situation to Antras who had been sitting next to him.
Slowly sipping his tea, Antras began to speak.
“Haha… Already, sire? They caught on faster than expected.”
Antras spoke as if he had expected this to happen while the emperor looked grim.
“Hmph… Siegfried may have noticed your clever maneuver but I still don’t understand it. Can’t you relieve my frustrations now and tell me?”
Antras smiled at Emperor Gilbert’s words.
“Your Imperial Majesty, do you know what it takes to fight a war?”
“Hm? Well, you obviously need an army.”
“Yes, you’re right, sire. Then, what does an army need to maintain it?”
It was a basic question. Emperor Gilbert thought for a moment before giving a basic answer.
“We’ll need soldiers, commanders, food, and weapons.”
“Yes, Your Imperial Majesty. If you go into details, it can be divided up into many things, but there are ultimately two things: people and supplies.”
“People and supplies?”
“Yes, sire. From the rank and file to Duke Sebastians. Although there’s a difference in importance, in the end, they’re people. The food and the weapons are in the end supplies needed for war.”
“I see. Hm…”
Emperor Gilbert thought for a bit before nodding.
Antras wasn’t wrong.
“So your plan was to cause problems for one of the two main elements necessary for the Republican Army.”
“You are very wise, Your Imperial Majesty.”
“Why don’t you spoon-feed it to me some more...:”
When the emperor grumbled, Antras began to explain further.
“While we spread the battle lines as wide as we could and pressured the Republic in all directions, there’s no need for us to fight so intensely. That was all the directions I gave them.”
“Yes, but it led to this…”
“Even if we don’t attack them hard, a battle is still a battle, Your Imperial Majesty. Every time a war breaks out, people and supplies are consumed. After all, a war is the biggest action that consumes a country’s strength.”
Emperor Gilbert was well aware of how astronomical the cost was every time they went to war.
“Sire, the number of people and supplies consumed by each battle may not seem like a lot, but it becomes a different story when it’s happening all over the southern border. Just like when enough sand is gathered it can become a mountain, the Republic has consumed a lot of supplies and people while fighting for the past month.
“I see, so that’s what’s pressuring the Republic.”
“Yes, Your Imperial Majesty. There’s no need for us to capture any castles or forts, nor is there any reason for us to destroy the enemy’s supplies. All we have to do is continuously use up the Republic’s strength; they’ll soon be reaching their limits.”
“Then, the Empire can freely deal with the powerless enemy, Your Imperial Majesty.”