Chapter 218: The Power of the Empire (3)

In the midst of his disadvantage, Siegfried made a choice to use his main force to intercept. He planned to maintain the frontline as much as possible while also intercepting and dealing with the enemy’s two armies. If this was successful, it would turn the tide of the war and they could finally stop being on the losing side. But, even he thought that there was only a 30% chance of this operation succeeding.

Even if Siegfried was to personally gather and lead the troops, it would be at most 50,000 to 70,000. Of course, the Ghosts that he and Jake led had great destructive strength, but it wasn’t guaranteed they could defeat the Imperial Army even if the Ghosts intercepted them. Not to mention, it wasn’t just one but two armies, so what needed to be said? The only reason Siegfried made this choice was because he thought it had been the best decision out of all available. 

Siegfried wasn’t usually the type to gamble on the battlefield, but he had no other choice in this situation but to gamble. But the problem was, even this didn’t work out the way Siegfried wanted.

“Fuhrer, the army led by Marquis Baker Gotham is attacking Fort Solune.”

“Fort Solune?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Ugh… why that?”

Fort Solune wasn’t a fort that needed 100,000 men to attack, nor was it an important one. So why was one of the enemy’s army suddenly appearing there?

‘I can’t get a read on them.’

In order to intercept the enemy, you needed to be able to predict their movements. That was why Siegfried was waiting near a fort that seemed most likely to be attacked by the enemy first. But the problem was, the enemy was moving utterly different from what Siegfried had expected. 

He spread open his strategic map as he thought.

‘Are they reading my mind? No, it’s not that kind of feeling. It doesn’t feel like there’s any kind of consistency to their operations.’

Siegfried couldn’t understand the enemy’s intents. He had encountered countless enemies on the battlefield, but he’d never met anyone like this before. 

***

The main camp of the Imperial Army.

Stationed there was Duke Sebastian and when he heard the good news brought to him by a messenger, he personally went to share it with Antras.

“Marquis Baker says everything went to plan.”

“I see, that’s a relief.”

Antras leisurely got up from his seat to look at the strategy map.

“Then shall we decide where you’ll be attacking. Child, go bring me that.”

“Yes, Sage.”

A young boy attending to Antras brought him something that was ordered. At those words, Duke Sebastian looked hopelessly at Antras.

“I don’t know whether to think it’s amazing or absurd…”

“Hahaha… Everything depends on how you use it.”

Antras received something from the boy. Surprisingly, it was a dice.

Antras threw three dice of different colors on the strategic map. And then…

“6-3-2… Then it’ll be Duran Castle. Go take care of it and hurry back.”

The strategic map was densely covered with numbers. Antras had been deciding where to attack depending on the sides of the dice. It was no wonder Siegfried hadn’t been able to read their movements; the Empire had been deciding based on luck. Of course, Antras had ruled out locations that they could never attack. But the other attacks on the rest of the vast frontline were determined by luck. 

This was something that was only known by the highest-ranking officers of the Imperial Army.

“I never thought this would be effective…”

“If you think too much about it, it might be easier to read by the enemy instead.”

Having said that, Antras sat back down and calmly drank his tea. 

“War can’t be fought if luck isn’t on your side.”

“Haa… Whenever I’m with you, I get skeptical about what war really is.”

“Hahahaha… That’s a good thing. Rather than romanticizing it, it’s better to be skeptical about wars.”

“Anyway, I’m leaving.”

Just as Duke Sebastian was leaving to participate in the fight, Antras asked him something.

“I’m saying this now, but since it’s been decided by luck, if you’re unlucky, you may get caught. You know what you should do then?”

“I know.”

“Then good luck.”

And so, Duke Sebastian set out with Duke Florian and captured the enemy’s stronghold. 

The war was unilaterally moving at a pace set by the Empire.

***

Antras was right when he told Duke Sebastian that since it had been decided by luck, if you’re unlucky, you could get caught. Although Siegfried’s elite crops had gone through a series of failures, they had finally managed to locate the enemy. 

“We finally found them.”

Siegfried clenched his fist. He usually enjoyed manipulating and making fools out of the enemies with his strategies, but this time, he desperately wanted to fight, manpower-to-manpower, and win this time. That was how much the enemy’s movements were bothering the Republic. Then finally, they had caught the enemy. The enemy was the 100,000 army that Baker Gotham and Lucas Florian led.

“We’re overturning it here.”

Siegfried was determined and got his act together.

***

“Is that the Republic’s main army?”

Lucas Florian smiled as he looked at the Republican troops.

“They’ve got 50,000 men… Perfect to just gobble them up.”

If they destroyed the Republic’s main army and took their Fuhrer’s, Siegfried, head here, then the war would in actuality be over. As a young man with a promising future, how could he not be greedy? However...

“Sir Florian. You haven’t forgotten our orders have you?”

It wasn’t Lucas Florian who led the army, it was Marquis Baker Gotham. Even if they were both Masters, Marquis Gotham was more suitable to be the commander of the military than Lucas who was still a mere knight. 

“Um… I haven’t, sir.”

“Then we proceed according to the plan.”

Lucas wanted to protest against the Marquis’ calmly spoken decision, but he couldn’t, not when he didn’t have enough justification or viability to protest.  

“Haa… Guess there’s nothing I can do.”

Lucas looked back towards the enemy’s formation.

“Know that you’re lucky.”

Orders were given to the entire Imperial Army.

***

“Infantry, forward! The right side will go first in a diagonal manner.”

Siegfried formed a battle formation and advanced his army. He had to make sure he had a precise formation because the other side had more men than he did. That was why Siegfried had formed a formation that would raise the odds in his favor as much as possible before sending his men into the field. 

Siegfried was good at seeing the bigger picture and creating strategies that would create advantageous situations for himself, but what he needed the most right now was strategies. 

If this didn’t work, then there was nothing he could do; he was gambling from here on out. But...

“Fuhrer, the enemy is retreating.”

“What?”

“They’ve left behind a minimal number of troops in the rear while the rest is beginning to retreat, sir.”

“Kuh… Jake!”

“Yes, Your Excellency?”

“Take all the Ghosts and charge. Crush the enemy’s center!”

“Yes, sir!”

Siegfried hurried to attack the enemy. This wasn’t the time to worry about battle formations.

At his order, Jake, along with the rest of the Ghosts, launched an attack on the rear of the Imperial Army. They smashed into the enemy with pure destruction. The soldiers that had been left in the rear to ensure the rest of the Imperial Army was able to retreat weren’t able to handle Jake’s charge and collapsed. But…

“Fuhrer. The enemy’s left behind their rear and retreated.”

“......”

Siegfried looked grave at the messenger’s report.  While they had managed to consume about 5,000 troops in the rear, it didn’t affect the overall flow of the war. In the end, the enemy managed to retreat safely with their main force intact and they would continue to cause great damage as they rampaged all over the frontlines.

“Do we even need to continue fighting?”

Siegfried muttered despondently. If they continued as it was, it would be the Empire who would be victorious. The enemy was most likely well aware of that. 

Siegfried could feel the faint ray of hope he had fading away.

***

When they couldn’t break through the Imperial Army, Siegfried returned to the main camp. Then, he summoned his most trusted officers to give them instructions.

“Fuhrer, are you being serious?”

“It’s too dangerous, Your Excellency.”

“I don’t agree with it, Your Excellency.”

They were all prominent figures in the Republic who were all very loyal to Siegfried, but none of them seemed willing to accept his proposal. In their eyes, what Siegfried had decided was too difficult.

“I know that the chances of succeeding are slim, but there’s no other way.”

Despite opposition from his staff, Siegfried was resolute.

“We will start carrying out the operation immediately. Have all preparations completed within the week!”

Those were Siegfried’s instructions. The very next day, orders were issued but it was difficult for the Republican Army, no, the entire Republic, to understand. 

***

“Sage, the Republic is retreating.”

“Retreating… How far have they retreated?”

“I’m not sure, sir. However, I heard that they’re not just simply pulling back their frontlines; they’re significantly retreating, sir.”

“......”

Antras remained gravely silent.

“What will you do? If you’re looking for accomplishments, then shouldn’t we pursue them right now?”

It was just as Duke Sebastian said from the side. Typically, when the enemy retreats, you advance with your forces. If you looked at war in terms of gaining ground, then this was standard. However…

“I’m a bit reluctant. Let’s wait and see first.”

Antras decided to wait for now. His sixth sense, which had helped him command countless wars, was warning him of danger; it was telling him it was dangerous to pursue them right now. His intuition was proven right a few days later when the messenger brought them information.

***

“The enemy has retreated significantly, sir.”

“What is their exact location?”

“They retreated to the northern border of the former Strabus Kingdom, sir. They’re currently camped in the border fortress they built when they were previously there, sir.”

“Ha… So they’ve given up half their land and retreated?”

They had never seen such a drastic retreat. But this wasn’t all the information the messenger brought. 

“And… In the process of retreating, the enemy evacuated all their citizens, sir.”

“Of course they did.”

“And they also burnt their cities, sir.”

“That is also expected.”

“And… They also destroyed all their water supply facilities and their roads, and even the small villages. They burnt down all the fields that hadn’t been harvested yet and even set the forest on fire, sir.”

“......”

Duke Sebastian was speechless.

“Then, what’s left?”

“Nothing, sir. It’s said that they’ve even destroyed Tempeulliche, the former capital of the Strabus Kingdom, sir.”

“Those crazy bastards.”

Duke Sebastian shook his head. 

It was common sense to destroy all the infrastructure as you retreated so that the enemy could not use it. But this went beyond that. How could they destroy not only the water supply facilities, the roads, and the cities, but also the small villages and even burn the forests?

“Are they not thinking about after the war?”

Antra solemnly agreed with him.

“That’s most likely it. Utilizing the scorched earth policy…”

Antras was shocked at Siegfried’s boldness. If Antras, someone who had experienced all the hardships, felt like this, then it was no wonder the commanders were so shocked. The Imperial officers were all fed up with the Republic’s insanity. 

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