Editors: mr.tanen/Noble Blue
Early 10th Month, the Year 2812, Western continent calendar: (Eastern Invasion 2)
Sardina’s aim was to destroy the Kingdom of Zalda’s main force.
If they managed to destroy the kingdom’s Royal Knights, all that remained would have been the private soldiers owned by the regional nobility.
With that, the subjugation of the Kingdom of Zalda by the Ortomean Empire would advance drastically. Sardina had carried out several plans in order for them to occupy the entire kingdom as soon as possible……Before the beast in the north awakened.
(Indeed…. I was careless that time… While predicting Mikoshiba’s movements, I accidentally made a mistake during a critical moment… But in a sense, it was a good lesson. Whatever advantageous situation I create, there may always be a place where even a slight carelessness can become the cause of death…)
Sardina stared at the map spread across the desk inside the main tent. The face of a certain man appeared inside her mind.
A young man who seemed to be much wiser than someone his age ought to have been.
At first glance, he looked gentle, but hidden inside was the form of a ferocious beast.
The eyes of the man who Sardina and Saitou confronted in the past were cold and cruel, he was a man with strength like a fine steel sword.
A man who was capable of breaking free from the net she had wrapped around him, using only his strength, and escaped the empire’s pursuit.
(If that person was the commander of the enemy force then…)
Such meaningless assumptions filled Sardina’s mind.
She had thought about the plan again and again to ensure victory. However, the shadow of that man would stubbornly refuse to disappear from her mind.
“Your Highness… It is about time… Is it alright for me to issue the signal?”
Sardina who had drifted into the sea of thought was returned to reality after hearing her adjutant’s words.
“S-Sure, Indeed… We should send the signal.”
So as to not let the people around her become aware of her anxiety, she ordered them in a calm manner.
(What am I doing?… If I go on like this, I will end up repeating the same mistake from back then… Right now, I should concentrate more on the current situation.)
The victor of this war had already been decided.
To achieve all this, she had been plotting various schemes and tricks. However, there was always the possibility that a little inattention or rashness would overturn the situation.
Even if she had won on this most crucial of battles, it did not mean that the war was over.
(I… Will not lose! Absolutely… Not lose.)
Sardina supposedly was part of the superior side, steadily progressing to this point by using a number of plans and strategies of her own design.
After this, all that was left was to issue the final push. In spite of this, her heart continued to beat intensely.
“Deputy General! The signal!” The gong resounded from the headquarters!
One of the adjutants who followed by his side raised their voice after hearing the sound of the gong.
Saitou silently listened. Although it was hard to distinguish it from the enemy’s shouting all around him, the sound of the gong managed to reach his ears.
“Indeed, there’s no mistake… This is the signal pattern Her Highness Sardina described before. Everyone should know what to do, yes?”
“””Yes, sir! Ready to go!”””
Having received their orders, Saitou’s adjutants scattered to various places.
“Listen up! Just like this, we will withdraw to the back! Ring up the bell!”
Following Saitou’s shout, the sound of bells informing of the retreat echoed throughout the battlefield.
“Retreat! It’s a retreat!”
“Do not panic! Don’t be confused! Withdraw while protecting each other!”
It was not easy for them to cooperate without knowing what was going on, since when in battle one does not have the power to completely act alone either.
Even though they lacked organisation, the soldiers began to withdraw one after another and retreated towards the rear-line headquarters.
While retreating, they kept paying attention to see if there was an ally who was in peril, and if so, the nearest knight would go help. There was no need for them to kill the enemy, they only had to fall back safely.
At the time of issuing the retreat command, the difference between the offensive side and the defensive side would become clearly visible.
Only one thing was important for the Ortomean knights, and that was to minimise their casualties.
While on the other hand, the Zaldian knights’ priority was to increase their enemy’s casualties.
For different purposes, the swords of both sides clashed against each other.
“General Belharres! Ortomean soldiers have begun to withdraw!”
When the voice of the messenger coming back from the front lines echoed in the tent, all the previous noises that were dominating inside the tent began to recede.
And by the time they understood what the messenger had to say, all the clamouring returned once again.
“What?! Is that true?”
Everyone inside the tent understood, that this war was one that could bring about the fall of their nation.
Comparing the national strength of the Ortomean Empire to their kingdom’s, it was obvious that they were in for disadvantageous warfare from the start.
However, an unexpected opportunity had presented itself! The enemy showed signs of retreat. It was natural for the adjutants of the General to think that unless they wagered everything right now, they wouldn’t have another chance for victory.
“Ortomea has drawn back their troops he said! If that is true, then, this is as good an opportunity as it gets for us! We should be pursuing them immediately!”
“Your Excellency! Please give us your order to pursue them! This is a testimony that God has not yet forsaken our Zalda!”
High spirited words sprung up one after another. While stroking his long white beard and nodding his head from listening to his adjutants’ advice, the highest commanding officer of Zalda, General Belharres took his time to contemplate the situation.
While the adjutants around him proposed to advance enthusiastically, it was only himself who remained calm.
“Father… What should we do?”
A man asked General Belharres.
Unlike the other adjutants, his words seemed to indicate that he was more interested in hearing the General’s opinion, rather than voicing his own.
The one who addressed the General was a man that looked like the 20 years younger version of him.
The adjutants then stopped their chatter and directed their sharp gazes towards the young man.
Despise, ridicule and stares filled with negative emotions overflowing from them.
Usually, when people were to find themselves under such gazes, they would shrink back, but this man seemed to be impudent enough in a bad way.
He did not flinch even though he was under such glaring from the adjutants.
“What do you think yourself? Joshua.”
The General asked his third son who sat down on the lowest seat.
“Fuh! Needless to say. If we’re going to pursue… Then we should be prepared to get annihilated, should we intend to take Sardina’s head.”
He then brought his finger close to the cigar that he held in his mouth and flung it away.
In response to Joshua’s words, the other adjutants unintentionally showed surprised expressions.
His words were that unexpected for them. However, compared to his adjutants and their surprised faces, General Belharres simply nodded while displaying a satisfied smile.
Joshua then lit up another cigar and calmly smoked it, even though such an act was prohibited during a war council.
In fact, it was this very calm attitude he gave off, that made his utterance even more eerie.
“Fumu… So, if it was you, how would you make use of the situation? Would you withdraw here?”
Joshua replied to his father, General Belharres, with a shrug.
“If you want to survive, then we should withdraw…”
While saying those words, he turned his sharp gaze to his surroundings.
The absence of motivation that oozed out of his body until just now completely disappeared, suddenly he was releasing a mix of murderous intent and fighting spirit.
“If you guys want to preserve the Kingdom of Zalda… Then we have no choice but to obtain victory here.”
The sound of someone gulping their saliva echoed inside the tent.
It was proof that the senior officers were intimidated by the young man sitting in front of them.
“Joshua-dono… I’m sorry for being rude, but what do you mean by those words?”
The eldest among the officers timidly asked Joshua.
For the senior officer, up until now, Joshua was merely a hindrance to them.
He was someone who had no respect for his elders, an alcoholic, stingy with money and a man with a bad reputation at the royal capital.
There were a lot of rumors that he had been visiting bars in the slums, gambling and brawling with people there.
So to speak, he was a human being that reeked of a criminal and a lowlife.
On this occasion, all of the people present here were aware that his father, General Belharres, had ordered him to join the army. However, the adjutants had thought that it was due to the General’s parental love, wanting his third son who had a bad reputation to get some prestige.
That was why, for them, even after Joshua joined the army, they had never thought he would be giving his opinion. They only thought of him as human garbage. <PFN: Transmigrator detected! Oh wait, this is a Japanese novel, not a Chinese one. orz >
“Don’t you all understand? This is a trap… To pull our army further in and perform a pincer attack. Although they seemed worn-out, it is also evidence that they still have some ace up their sleeves… On the other hand, I would like to ask all of you, are you really planning on pursuing them just like this?”
In Joshua’s eyes, the sentiment of contempt could be seen.
“It can’t be… On what basis did you reach such a conclusion?”
“You’re thinking too much!”
“General! He is only an amateur who does not understand warfare. Why should we miss this opportunity that might only appear once? Are you going to let it go as well?”
The adjutants turned their attention to General Belharres.
Among the adjutants, there were those who also considered Joshua’s point of view regarding the possibility that all of this was according to Ortomea’s plan.
The adjutants who had fought through many wars, would not be so foolish. Although they seemed to lose control due to the unexpected good fortune and proposed to pursue the enemy, their excitement from before had now died down.
However, they couldn’t admit to it here.
No human being would suddenly follow someone who had a bad reputation and had been looked down upon by his peers all along.
They persisted in pursuing Ortomea not to win but to keep their pride.
“Everyone shut up for a bit… Joshua. You mentioned two options earlier, what did you mean by that? Why did you want us to decide between victory or defeat here despite knowing it was a trap?”
Hearing General Belharres’ words, his adjutants grew silent.
If Joshua had thought it was a trap, then he should have told them to withdraw. In such a scenario, it is only common sense to return to one’s base.
Even so, Joshua’s remark allowed pursuit. Furthermore, he also added meaningful words such as ‘if you want to preserve the Kingdom of Zalda…”
It was no wonder that his words attracted interest.
“Father… This, I do not have to tell you about it, no? You should already know the answer.”
“Say it. Explain it to everyone.”
Responding to such words, Joshua just shook his head as if giving up, and General Belharres kept sending his sharp gaze urging him to talk.
“Fuuh… Fine… The reason is simple. From a strategic point of view, this battle against Ortomea, has already been lost.”
Hearing Joshua’s words, everyone who had calmed down previously, began to doubt their ears.
“Y-You bastard! Do you know what you’re saying?!”
Breaking the silence, one of the adjutants raised a voice of anger.
He ran towards Joshua and grabbed him by the neck, completely ignoring the courtesy that was owed to the son of the General.
A bloody battle was still ongoing in the front. Everyone was desperately fighting to defend their land from the hands of the invaders, betting their lives for the sake of peace for their motherland. For him to declare that they had already been defeated, it was nothing but an insult towards the knights that had to give up their lives so far.
In a sense, it was normal for him to even send his hand towards his sword hilt.
“Wait! What are you planning to do?! This is a war council you know?!”
A colleague who noticed that his hand was about to grab his sword immediately pressed him down.
Everyone there could understand the adjutant’s anger. However, they couldn’t also let him kill an ally at a war council.
Everyone turned silent. Because they knew, opening their mouths here would only invite the others’ jeers.
The only one who did not change his facial expression after hearing Joshua’s words was General Belharres.
“Fumu… Although your words lack courtesy… I guess you’re not wrong…”
It was a small mutter. However, the words of the General echoed within the tent that was filled by silence.
Just like a declaration of death.