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Chapter 25 – Crushing Each Other
Things might have been better if it happened several years later, but Wagner declaring war with this timing was pretty tough and painful for me. Soon after he declared war, Wagner’s army of 4,500 men swooped in from Klaus county. Mercenaries were included among them too, which goes to show how many resources he had pulled for this. To be frank, it was beyond what was expected to seize just a single county.
I said that, but the biggest reason Wagner came out to kill me was because I held justification over his Klaus duchy. It was something I received at birth, the right to inherit the territory owned by my parents. Unlike vague justification, the right would never expire, and a person would retain that right until their death.
I wanted to buy some time, so I set up several traps in the territory. I expected Wagner to be wary and slow the invasion… but his army hardly did.
Fentz county, the home base of Palmer. One of Wagner’s leading cavalry units in Wagner’s army pushed through the roads and found a notice board.
[“There are a lot of traps ahead. Be careful.”]
It was a typical delay trap, but since they were already within enemy territory, the vigilant soldier still notified his captain. The captain immediately reported to Wagner and asked for instruction.
“Fumu, then have the dogs and slaves go first.”
During his war against Alfred, Wagner was grandly welcomed with mines and fire attacks. Because of that, Wagner kept mine-sniffing dogs and slaves around and had them walk ahead in situations when they needed to be alert.
And so, the vanguards were replaced by dogs and slaves. Ten slaves and ten dogs forged ahead with some caution, and after a dozen steps, one who had walked in the center suddenly exploded. A dog stepped on a landmine.
The slave who held the dog’s leash wasn’t spared. His lower half was completely blown apart. The rest of the group was similarly affected. Their respective right or left sides were charred black as they collapsed.
“W-what’s with that unreasonably powerful landmine?!”
“Fuhn, it only looks splendid in appearance. Hey, you. How many days will it take if we take a detour from here?”
“Hah… about three days. I think it’s better to take a detour.”
“No, it’s fine. Have the cavalry continue forward as it is. There will be similar signboards from now on as well, but there will be no more landmines.”
Wagner considered the possibility of traps up ahead and thought of taking a detour, but he was sure that there would be no traps from then on, so they continued forward.
Just as Wagner said, the army encountered five signposts that all had the same warning, [“There are a lot of traps ahead. Be careful.”] along the way, but almost all of them were lies. Only the first had been correct. Wagner’s army proceeded faster than Palmer expected, so when he arrived at the Fentz county fortress, Palmer’s army still hadn’t completed its reorganization, but stood its ground regardless.
How the heck did that saint lord manage to see through him? What a dangerous and scary fellow.
I had, of course, prepared twelve canons to welcome them, but they ran out of power in no time. I did use most of the gunpowder just on that first trap. On its own, my army only consisted of 700 slave soldiers and 300 former mercenaries, totaling 1,000 men.
By the second round of canons, Wagner’s army still did not have much difficulty in handling it. As it turns out, it wasn’t just Wagner, but his knights were excellent as well. My seven plans of victory, all down! Reality sure was harsh.
“Lin. Now it has become like this, I want your cooperation, but would you help me?”
“If you can win with my help, then I’ll gladly cooperate.”
“Then, sleep. I will wake you up when the time comes. Cornelia, you too.”
“Eh, me too? By any chance, are you planning a night attack? That’s pretty reckless, you know?”
“It’s okay, it’s fine. I will try to keep you both out of danger. I will face them.”
For the time being, I planned to have Linde and Cornelia on duty for night attacks, so they should get their rest. The 1,000 men were still fighting well, so I doubted that we would be defeated on the first day. Even so, if the difference in forces was so great, I would have chosen to flee already. Because I had enough force to prevent that from happening, I had several ideas to turn the situation over.
By evening, 300 meager conscripts came from Triore county. I personally went and gave them instructions. I had prepared underground passages specifically for a situation like this, so it was easy.
“…I beg your pardon?”
“We will attack by 4 in the morning tomorrow. I will personally lead the unit, so rest assured.”
The leader of the conscripts was the chief of a large village in Triore county, and their abilities were mediocre. However, he once participated when David invaded and remembered how I trampled them, so he listened to my words obediently. They sure were quite reliable at a time like this. They even agreed to launch an attack with the 300 conscripts against the army of 4,500 men.
…With this, I could set up a three-shift war. But if it was just this, my chance of victory was still just 50%. After that, it was up to my efforts.
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