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Chapter 14 – Independence
Immediately after I received information that Count David Reuter obtained justification to wage war with Fentz county, Wagner commanded me to just hand over my territory. Naturally, I refused. And just like the second son Alfred, I proceeded with a war of independence, but unlike Alfred, my independence was recognized on the spot.
…If I had war declared on me while I was still Wagner’s vassal, he would’ve been obligated to protect me. It might have been to avoid going through the trouble, but there was also the fact that something took place just before David declared war. He was using the daughter of the emperor by having her as his bride, according to the information I got.
Ah, even though I was independent, the eldest son Wagner still had justification for Fentz county even now, so he could always declare war on me after. However, he was busy in his war against Alfred, so he postponed it for now. Wagner wasn’t stupid enough to fight on two fronts at the moment. If David’s and Alfred’s forces were added together, it would reach around the same scale as Wagner’s forces.
But if there was something that Wagner miscalculated, it was the fact that he couldn’t conclude his war against Alfred in a short amount of time. Right at the beginning of the war, Wagner decided to ignore Alfred, who was holed up in the fortress inside his territory, and chose to secure the gold mine in Alfred’s territory instead.
If the war lasted for a long time, Wagner could secure his victory as long as he conquered the mines, so it was the obvious thing to do. Alfred anticipated that and spread gunpowder everywhere in the tunnels of the gold mine. Apparently, Alfred’s side planted something like time bombs and all the tunnels collapsed, causing some of Wagner’s troops to be buried alive in the mines.
Moreover, it seemed that the hired mercenaries were strong, so Alfred had the upper hand in localized battles. Alfred might lose his continuous income, but he still had the inheritance from our father so he could still manage. Since everything would be over for Alfred if he lost now, he poured everything he had into it, so he was strong.
Well then. It was good to be independent and all, but almost nothing had improved in my current situation. It was a good thing that I no longer needed to send money and soldiers to Wagner since I was no longer bound to him by a vassal contract, but instead, I paid it to the emperor and the amount hardly changed. Well, since I was affiliated with the Carling Empire, it couldn’t be helped.
David was also a vassal of Paulus IV, so there was no chance the emperor was going to protect me. I never thought I had such a thing to begin with, but now that I had become independent from Wagner, the possibility of being protected by someone else was totally gone. It was the moment my verbal promise with the Schult family became meaningless. Damn it.
…Obviously, war was declared on me by David a day after I declared independence. If I compared our forces, I guessed it was about 1 to 3? According to the information I had now, they had close to around 3,000 people there, while I only had 1,100 people on my side. If I proceeded to the battlefield as it was, my defeat was certain.
David Reuter’s forces: Standing army (600 heavy infantry, and 300 longbowmen), 1,600 conscripts, and 300 mercenaries – totaling 2,800.
Palmer Klaus’ forces: Standing army (100 cavalry, 100 longbowmen, 100 slave soldiers, and 300 new slave soldiers), 500 conscripts, totaling 1,100.
I did purchase 300 new slaves, but these people weren’t those I trained, so they were just normal combat slaves. I used up quite a bit of the inheritance to purchase them. Even though the troops I inherited from my father were recruits, they should be able to fight to some extent since they were cavalry and longbowmen, but David’s standing army was superior both in quantity and quality.
As for the conscripts, the usual number would be the number of counties one possessed times 500 people. Some rich and populated counties could conscript nearly 1,000 people per county, but those counties were rare. Since the number of conscripts that David employed was 1,600 people, I guessed it was close to average considering he owned three counties?
Some large mercenary groups had nearly 2,000 people, but small ones who only had 100 to 200 people weren’t rare. I think the mercenaries that David employed were those who focused on quality instead of quantity. Employing 300 people costs a considerable amount of money after all.
Since David declared war, it meant that David’s army would invade Fentz county 13 days later. It would take about 6 days to gather his army and 7 days to march from there to Fentz county. Until then, I would also gather my army and have them move to the fort in the northwest area of Fentz county. Since my territory consisted of only a single county, I was done in about three days. The fact my marshal was somewhat competent really helped.
…Even if I had troops holed up here, they would merely use part of their forces to trap us while using the rest to loot my county. It was tough. My opponent was someone used to war while I had no experience of leading 1,000 people in war. It was hard.
But I had expected the militaristic David to expand before I succeeded the county, so I had plenty of time to work out my countermeasures. Winning this war in a normal way would have no meaning. I needed to kill David and have his territories split among his sons; otherwise, my difficult situation would continue.
After that, I can only pray that Alfred would last long enough against Wagner. Although I doubt that it would happen, if Alfred suddenly lost at this point and allowed Wagner to make his next move, I was almost certain that death awaited me.
According to the scouts’ reports, there were about five days until David’s army arrived. Thankfully, David personally led his army. I had to make sure he couldn’t leave Fentz county alive at all costs. With that in mind, I started preparing for it.
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