Chapter 9: The Crow Fortress (4)

Milton and Jerome, who were at the forefront, and the soldiers following them forcefully pushed the enemies back.

“Jerome don’t stray too far! Fight only within the range of where our allies can give us cover fire with their arrows.”

“Yes, Viscount.”

Even as he fought while leading the charge, Milton was accurately assessing the situation and commanding his troops accordingly.

“Die!”

“That bastard is the commander!”

Naturally, several Republican mountaineers rushed Milton, who was fighting at the forefront. However….

“You small fries are too loud!”

Milton shouted courageously before facing forward and swinging his sword. He dodged the axe of the enemy soldier in front of him before severing his opponent’s waist with a slash of his sword.

“Kuhhk…”

Milton didn’t stop there but instead flowed naturally like water, freely swinging his sword against his enemies. He constantly thought about how the enemy would react and counter his actions. Whenever Milton swung his sword another enemy fell to the ground. Milton had such an easy time defeating his enemies, that he couldn’t help but think inside.

‘I really did have talent.’

He could finally understand why the instructors at the academy kept badgering him to put in more effort.

Milton’s strength prior to joining the war was 45. However, as he joined the war and constantly trained with Jerome, his strength rose to 70.

The blisteringly fast advancement of his strength meant two things. First, Milton had tremendous potential in swordsmanship. Secondly, Milton had been extremely lazy with his training until now.

When comparing their potential, Milton wouldn’t be inferior to Jerome. However, since Milton went through life in such a nonchalant manner, he was wasting his amazing potential. His strength wasn’t the only thing to rise after joining the war either. Milton’s command and intellect rose a fair bit as well. His stats at this time were….

[Viscount Milton Forrest]

Monarch LV.1

Strength – 70 Command – 79

Intellect – 69 Politics – 50

Loyalty – 100

Special Trait – Charisma

Charisma LV.2: Able to use the carrot and stick appropriately to raise the loyalty of subordinates.

Territory – Forrest territory.

Population – 7,350 people.

Funds – 520 gold.

Main Products – Wheat, Barley, Oat.

Army Strength – 3 Knights, 5 Horsemen, 80 Infantry, 20 Archers, 20 Mercenaries.

Those were the changes in stats in his status window. There weren’t many changes to his territorial stats, but Milton’s personal stats had improved a lot. His strength went up the most, but his other stats also went up substantially. Milton gained more confidence as he saw the improvement with his own eyes.

“Bring out someone stronger if you want my head!”

“Viscount, I will join you.”

Jerome came to Milton’s assistance and watched Milton’s back as the latter drove into the enemy line.

“Keuaahhk!”

“Damn it, something needs to be done here… Keuhhhk!”

The enemy’s formation fell apart as Milton and Jerome fought at the forefront.

“Follow his Lordship!”

“Uuooooooh!”

Rick and Tommy led the rest of the troops and supported Milton.

“The formation has started to break down. Don’t give them a chance to regroup. Focus your arrows to the left and right side!”

A storm of arrows poured down from above the Fortress at Nelson’s orders, and the enemy finally decided that they couldn’t hold on.

“Retreat! Everyone, retreat!”

Milton bolstered the morale of his allies as the enemy started their retreat.

“The enemy is retreating! Everyone to me. Let’s kick the Republicans’ butt!”

“Yes, My Lord!”

“Keuhahaha! Stand right there, you bastards!”

Milton’s troops defended the Crow Fortress with an overwhelming victory.

Kerber greeted Milton who returned to the fort after the battle, “Very well done. It’s another decisive victory.”

“It wasn’t much. The enemy was weaker than I thought.”

“Hahaha… Isn’t Sir Forrest just too strong?”

Kerber’s admiration wasn’t just for show.

Milton fought at the frontlines harder than anyone else since the enemy’s offensive started in earnest. This was natural for Milton since he had to make a lot of contributions to be rewarded with money.

Whatever his motives might be, Milton’s allies found him to be a reliable source of strength. It was natural to feel that way since he courageously took the lead in every battle and always achieved victory.

Milton’s accomplishments were regarded especially highly by Nelson who inwardly thought, ‘It’s too bad that he’s not a fellow countryman.’ This was the highest praise Nelson could possibly give to a knight from a foreign country.

“1000-man commander, how is the news from the other forts? Are any of them in danger?”

Once Nelson had a favorable impression of Milton, every little thing Milton did looked favorable. Milton was just trying to figure out the overall situation by asking about the other fortresses, but Nelson found his concern to be praiseworthy.

“Hah, we knew of the enemy’s attack in advance and had plenty of time to prepare. Our army doesn’t have any fools in the Western Front that can’t defend their fort in such a situation,” Nelson replied.

Milton nodded his head, “Understood.”

‘Since they have been able to defend the frontlines for such a long time, there certainly wouldn’t be any incapable commanders. Plus, a battle in the mountains is incomparably more favorable for the defenders.’

All the forts in the mountains were placed with the optimal use of the surrounding geography. When the forts were used properly, the troops stationed inside the forts could defend up to ten times their number. These characteristics made the Western Front to be at a stalemate at the Grey Mountains.

‘We shouldn’t be in any danger as long as we put our all into defending,’ Milton thought. However, a part of him was starting to feel a bit anxious.

If they continued to defend against the enemy’s attacks, then they could wait out the snow of winter before attacking in the spring. The enemy was bound to take huge losses if they fought without much food.

Everything was going well for his allies. But the problem was….

‘Isn’t everything going too smoothly?’

That was right. Milton was feeling anxious because everything was going perfectly.

Carelessness always brought out the worst outcome in war. Therefore, prudence was more important to a commander than being overly optimistic, even if that caused him to be labeled a coward.

‘At least that’s what I was taught at the academy.’

Milton returned to his quarters and continued to think about what he may have missed.

“Viscount Forrest, is something troubling you?”

“Hmm? Jerome?”

Lost in his thoughts, Milton didn’t even realize that Jerome had come to visit him.

“Yes. I came in unannounced since you seemed to be deep in thought.”

“Ah, I was just thinking about the current war situation.”

“Is there a problem? Aren’t we easily repelling the enemy?”

“True. You’re right… But something seems off,” Milton remarked.

A serious expression appeared on Jerome’s face as he sat across from Milton.

“What is on your mind?” Jerome asked.

“Hmm, the war situation is too….”

“Is too what?”

“It’s going too smoothly,” Milton explained with much difficulty.

Jerome looked dumbfounded after hearing Milton’s words.

“Why is that…?”

A problem? Jerome didn’t finish the words that were at the tip of his mouth.

Milton then continued, “It’s because the enemy is not stupid.”

“Huh?”

“The enemy is not stupid. They must have made some calculations and thought about the probability of success before attacking.”

“Well, probably.”

“Right. However, the current situation is entirely too favorable for our side.”

“…….”

“Is everything actually going smoothly? Is it normal for the Hildess Republic to only have idiots, and as such, they keep losing to us one-sidedly?”

Jerome also felt that something was odd after hearing Milton’s words. However, since the actual outcome was that they were really winning, he didn’t feel a need to worry.

“You may be overthinking it. Don’t worry too much.”

“It’s better than not thinking enough.”

“You’re very thorough,” Jerome said with a bitter smile.

Milton turned away from Jerome before trying to focus his thoughts.

“Mmm… I wish we had some information to figure out the overall situation. Has the reconnaissance team brought back any information about the dynamics of the enemy?” Milton asked.

Jerome shook his head before speaking boldly, “In our current situation, all the scouting we’ve been doing is around the fortress… It’s impossible to obtain any information about the enemy’s progress.”

“Well that’s inevitable but…. Hmm!?”

Milton stopped speaking as an imaginary lightbulb lit up above his head.

‘Wait a minute… Could it be? No, if that’s what it is…”

His suspicions came together like the pieces of a puzzle and formed a larger picture. Milton had a grave expression as he concluded his thoughts.

“This is a catastrophe!”

Milton immediately unfolded the map and looked carefully. Milton thought for a long time while looking through the topography of the Grey Mountains and the placement of the forts on the map. Then….

“I need to make an immediate report,” Milton stated.

“What are you talking about?”

“I’ll explain later. Time is of the essence.”

Milton then rushed out of the barracks.

“1000-man commander. It’s an emergency. Can you please start a meeting with the other commanders immediately?”

Milton asked to see the 1000-man commander and then requested an emergency meeting regarding a grave matter.

Nelson thought while listening to Milton, ‘He’s not the kind of youth to speak nonsense.’

Coming to such a conclusion, Nelson ordered the messenger to gather all the 100-man commanders. Once all the 100-man commanders of the Crow Fortress were gathered, Milton went straight to the point.

“We need to gather some of our elite troops and leave the fort immediately.”

Louis, who had hostile feelings against Milton, spoke out as soon as Milton spoke those words.

“This crazy guy is speaking nonsense.”

Milton heard those words of course, but he ignored them like he would ignore a barking dog.

Milton then looked into Nelson’s eyes before continuing, “The enemy’s purpose here is a diversion. The attacks against our forts are to tie our feet while their main aim is elsewhere.”

“What nonsense are you….”

“Quiet!”

Louis was starting to talk out loudly when Nelson stopped him. Then Nelson gestured for Milton to continue. Even though they were both 100-man commanders, the evaluation Nelson had for Milton and Louis were not at all equivalent.

“Thank you,” Milton simply expressed his thanks before continuing with his opinion.

“Defending a fort is overwhelmingly more advantageous than sieging one in mountain warfare. Since the forts have made the best use of the harsh terrain, the enemy can only send a small number of troops at once and can’t even bring any siege weapons.

“That’s true. As a result, we’ve been able to easily stop their attacks.”

“Yes. However, isn’t that strange?”

“What is?”

“The Hildess Republic is called the genius of mountain warfare. They would have definitely predicted this.”

Hearing Milton’s words, Nelson went silent. However, Louis, who was next to Nelson, voiced out bluntly.

“You’re regarding those dumb Republicans too highly.”

Milton sounded annoyed as he replied, “There’s nothing dumber in war than underestimating your enemy.”

Milton’s words could be taken to mean that Louis was dumb for underestimating the enemy.

“What did you say?”

Louis stood up from his seat immediately, but Nelson was faster.

“Milton, are you saying that the enemy foresaw what would happen up to this point and are aiming for what happens next?”

“Yes, that’s correct. Please look here.”

Milton ignored Louis like the latter wasn’t worth his attention. Milton spread out the map and added, “When the enemy attacks in force, our best plan of action is to turtle up in our fortress and defend. That’s what we’ve actually been doing too.”

“Are you saying we’re playing in the palm of their hand?”

“Yes. In truth, we chose the best course of action given the situation. However, that’s exactly what the enemy was expecting.”

“Hmm….”

Nelson crossed his arms and went into deep thought. There was definitely some merit to what Milton was saying. Milton then pointed to the map as he continued.

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