Chapter 273. The Start of War (3)

The atmosphere inside the staff office was muted and quite bleak. In addition, all of the staff officers were middle-aged, and the youngest were lieutenant colonels in their mid-30s. Indeed, becoming a lieutenant colonel while one was in their mid-thirties meant they were remarkable elites. In comparison, a knight fighting at the frontlines would also be called an elite if he became a major in his early 30s.

"You have returned?" The brigadier general welcomed the chief of staff and glanced at me.

The only ones who knew the truth about me were likely the chief of staff, the commanders of each army, and the captain of the Black Water Buffalo Buffalo, which served directly under Uncle Bloody. It was not too late to gradually inform the other staff members of my existence after seeing the staff officers’ responses.

"He’s a new recruit. Please introduce yourself."

I saluted the chief of staff. "It is nice to meet you. I am Colonel Den, and I have been assigned to the staff office."

The brigadier general who greeted the chief of staff smiled genially and extended his hand. "Oh, you're the colonel who suddenly got transferred? You look very young; it’s impressive that you were able to obtain your current rank. I'm Brigadier General Garam."

I shook his hand and smiled. "I look forward to working with you."

I said I was looking forward to working with him, but despite the brigadier general’s appearance as an upright person, he was an inside man and thus a purge target. So, he was someone who might actually lose his life in a few days for treason. Of course, considering his deceit and the need to confuse the enemy's information, the reasoning revealed to the public would be embezzlement and a breach of duty.

"Ahhaha! It's nice that you’re so amiable,” the brigadier general laughed cheerfully, not knowing that I was the one who revealed him.

His attempts to make a good first impression were likely because he saw my high position relative to my age and was trying to look favorable for my backers. He was my most hated type of person, the kind that clung to power and played word games.

"Hahaha, I may be lacking, but I hope you'll give me a lot of guidance in the future."

"Ahahaha! Of course.” At my request, the brigadier general seemed happy and patted my shoulder.

The way that the chief of staff looked at me seemed to say that I was cruel, but that's none of my business.

"Firstly, Colonel Den will be my aide, so just know that." Everyone looked at me with surprise when the chief of staff spoke.

From the information I gathered in advance, the chief of staff was a perfectionist in his work, so he did not have a personal aide other than an aide-de-camp who ran errands. The reason he appointed me as his assistant was in consideration of my need to understand the staff office’s internal affairs as soon as possible. That way, I could easily access essential military secrets for my work.

When my introduction was over, the chief of staff headed to his seat and said, "Come on, let's get to work."

At the same time, the staff office members began to work at their seats.

"Colonel. Your seat is next to mine."

I looked at the place where the chief of staff was pointing. In that spot, there was a young lieutenant in charge of errands for the chief of staff.

"Yes, sir."

The lieutenant named Marton was more of a resident soldier than a staff. [1] Since this staff office handled many secrets that would cause trouble if leaked, it seemed they had an officer act as a resident soldier since ordinary soldiers were not allowed in.

I greeted the lieutenant, unpacking my luggage at my seat. "I look forward to working with you, Lieutenant... Marton."

"I look forward to working with you too, Colonel Den-nim. I'm just a lieutenant, so please speak comfortably." Lieutenant Marton treated me naturally as if I were a member of the command headquarters.

"I’m just used to using honorifics."

I was looking around the interior of the staff office while organizing my belongings, and I could see a familiar portrait hanging on one side of the wall.

"That portrait is...”

When I mumbled while looking at the portrait, Lieutenant Marton explained with a smile. "Oh, that portrait? That is General Caradoc, a famous commander of the Holy Kingdom and the last chief of staff of the Holy Kingdom army. He's a great man who's partly admired as a god by his staff for his elusive tactics."

"Ahaha… is that so?"

The portrait was painted quite beautifully. In reality, he had a sunken face as if he had insomnia and was a grayed ahjussi, but the Caradoc in the portrait looked lively and intelligent. It was like seeing a child's fantasy.

I turned a blind eye to Caradoc's portrait and asked Lieutenant Marton, "I haven't received the Third Field Command uniform yet, so where might I obtain it?"

Only then did he realize that I was wearing regular clothes and got up, inquiring, "Oh! Department Head-nim, do you mind if I show Colonel Den around?"

The chief of staff nodded while checking documents. "While you're on the way, look around the area. People in other units are basically operating under the staff office’s strategies, so you at least need to know their faces. If there's anything you don't know, ask Lieutenant Marton."

"Yes, sir." As he said, it’d be appropriate for me to take a look at them since they were definitely people who would have to risk their lives on my commands.

Lieutenant Marton smiled, opening the door of the staff office and saying, "I'll show you the way."

The first place I went to under Lieutenant Marton’s guidance was the administrative department.

"Everything that costs money is mostly found in the administrative department. Oh, the ordinary soldiers’ uniforms and commonly used consumables are in the warehouse behind the headquarters building."

I signed my signature at the administrative department, got a dark blue officer uniform, and changed right away in the dressing room. The uniform’s only accents were gold buttons and a shoulder insignia, so it was a little bland compared to the Adventurer's Guild uniform. The chief of staff’s chest looked quite colorful with various embroidery symbolizing medals, but there was nothing on mine, so it looked dull. Well, it’s easier to move around in, so it doesn’t matter. 

"It looks good on you,” Lieutenant Marton praised.

I smiled and received the officers' rapier and pistol. "It seems there’s no musket."

I received one when I was in the Adventurer’s Guild. When I asked about it, Lieutenant Marton reacted as if he had heard a strange noise. "What? Muskets aren’t distributed to officers, yes?"

Aha, I see. I didn't know, as this was my first time being an imperial soldier. When the great demon came down two years ago, it appears that Roseland and Fiona were not missing their muskets because they purposely ditched them. Honestly, since then, I had no need to touch a musket, so I didn’t know.

"I see, but it looks like there's still magic on the rapier and pistol."

The rapier did nothing more than spray out flames, but as for the pistol, if you pulled the trigger, a fairly powerful magic bullet shot out instead of a lead bullet. Looking at the magic formula or mana stone embedded in the pistol, they seemed to have thrown a lot of money at it.

"Do you recognize them? These are the rapiers and pistols distributed to any officer who is a colonel or above. Along with the wand, they’re called the Three Artifacts!"

Lieutenant Marton became excited and began to explain a great deal. As I kept listening to the explanation, I appropriately stopped him. "I understand that Lieutenant Marton wants to be a regiment commander someday. So, let's go on a walk around the headquarters as Chief of Staff-nim ordered."

Marton left the administrative department with a regretful face and guided us to the various troops stationed inside the headquarters. It was said that each units' headquarters were mostly scattered near the capital, and they were gathering one by one in preparation for the war.  

Uncle Bloody's vanguard was estimated to have around 50,000 soldiers. There were as many as 50,000 people just serving as the vanguard. The main force was led by Orphina, and she was currently in the Demon’s Territory. Her forces were about 200,000 strong, but I was planning to end the war with only the 50,000-man vanguard.

Lieutenant Marton and I wandered around the headquarters for quite a long time and finally headed to see the Black Water Buffalo knights.

"The Black Water Buffalo knights, as you know, are unquestionably the strongest knight division of the Empire! Personally, I feel lucky that I was appointed to the headquarters, if only for the chance to pass by and see the Black Buffalo knights' training!" Lieutenant Marton excitedly began to tell stories about the Knights of the Black Water Buffalo knights.

Just as we were about to arrive at the Black Water Buffalo knights’ training ground, Uncle Bloody suddenly jumped down from the ceiling. "Yahoo! Found you!"

Lieutenant Marton had been chattering away when he became rigid at Uncle Bloody’s sudden appearance. No matter how used to the staff he was, it seemed he wasn’t immune to the top boss.

"Is something wrong?" I asked Uncle Bloody casually. As he stood beside me, Lieutenant Marton looked at me with a frightened face.

"Of course! I went to the staff office looking for you, but Isaac said you were going around getting used to the headquarters. But I couldn't feel your presence at all, so I've been looking for you for a while.”

I realized that I’ve been hiding my presence when I heard Uncle Bloody's grumbling and said, "Oh, I have a habit of assimilating my presence with my surroundings. So what’s wrong? You’re being bothersome."

Lieutenant Marton had a fascinating change in expressions when I rubbed my ears and asked dryly.

“You know about the Black Water Buffalo, right?” 

“Yes, well, I do know about them.”

Lisbon’s goal was to join the Black Water Buffalo knights, so I heard about them so often that it was embedded in my ear. Come to think of it, it was soon time for Lisbon’s graduation exam to join a knight division. Personally, I thought this was the worst time to be commissioned, right before a war. But since he’s graduating, I should at least give him a graduation gift.

Uncle Bloody heard me, and he spoke with a playful smile, "They said they want to know what you're capable of, asking if a magician is capable of giving commands."

When I heard Uncle Bloody's words, I grinned. "That's an insignificant provocation. What is it? Are you begging me not to use magic? Well, if so, then I could be inclined to avoid using magic."

Of course, I could grind them up plenty without magic. Uncle Bloody found my words amusing, and he chuckled. "Without magic, it probably won't be easy for you either? They’ve done a lot of battle race training; even I struggle many times as well.

"Uncle too?"

That was quite unexpected. No matter how much Uncle’s strength was sealed, he was stronger than the average person from my hometown.

I couldn’t believe that someone like Uncle would struggle. Uncle Bloody smiled and put his arm around my shoulder. "What do you think? Sounds fun, huh? You can, of course, use magic. William said he wanted to see your magic skills.”

"We can check my magic skills later. I must first squash the Black Water Buffalos to keep them from carrying their noses too high."

Since Uncle struggled, it should be enough to at least warm up my body for once in a long time.

“Really? William will be sad,” Uncle Bloody said as he smiled.

I felt like I directly fell for my uncle's provocation, but it was something I had to do anyway. It would be too easy to win if I used magic, so it wasn’t a poor idea to add some extra entertainment.

"Oh, the soon-to-be graduates from the middle-rank knight school are here to watch, so cheer up."

I was flustered by what Uncle Bloody added. "What? Why are they coming?"

"What do you mean why? They’re visiting to see which knight division they want to apply for before the entrance exam. Why? Do you feel unconfident?”

At my uncle's ridiculous provocation, I took out my recognition interfering glasses from my pocket space and wore them. "I'll make it so there won’t be anyone applying for the Black Water Buffalo knights at this entrance exam.”

1. Resident soldier is a soldier that is in charge of managing/upkeeping the residence of higher ranked officers.

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