Chapter 3 Episode 19
Early 10th Month, the Year 2812, Western continent calendar: (Eastern Invasion 3)
Hearing what General Belharres said the expressions of everyone present turned pale.
Who would have thought that their top commanding officer would admit defeat here?
One of General Belharres’ adjutants called to him with a trembling voice due to shock.
In this world, combat was fought mostly in close quarters, but no matter what world, the morale of the soldiers would always be a determining factor for the outcome of a battle.
And in order to keep that morale always high, trust towards the commander is more important than anything else.
Soldiers can bet their lives in war because they believe that their commander will win. Conversely, there are few humans who would stake their lives for a commander who they know cannot win.
And in this war, General Belharres was the highest ranking commanding officer of the Kingdom of Zalda’s armed forces.
This meant that their victory or defeat depended on how he thought.
No matter how many soldiers had been lost, as long the commander did not admit defeat, the war would still go on. Even if they lost the battle, the war itself was still not lost as long the soldiers did not lose their fighting spirit.
On the other hand, if the soldiers were already losing their fighting spirit, no matter how many of them remained, the war was as good as lost already.
All this points to the fact that one of the most important qualities that any military commander must have is an indomitable will and strength of mind.
One could compensate the ability to formulate strategies by appointing skilled subordinates. However, it is impossible to compensate for a commander that lacks mental fortitude.
In that sense, General Belharres should have been the best commander.
The Ortomean Empire, the Kingdom of Ernestgora. It was him who prevented those two countries from invading the eastern kingdoms for many years.
Together with the coalition of the eastern kingdoms, he has repeatedly helped to stop the ambitions of the great powers in the west many times.
For his adjutants, hearing an admission of defeat from such a general was akin to hearing words of despair. From their minds, Joshua’s arrogant manner had already disappeared.
“Your Excellency… Isn’t that a bit too much?! Many knights still believing that victory is still possible are fighting on the front lines, betting their lives… Yet, why does Your Excellency admit defeat so easily?!”
One of General Belharres’ adjutants shouted in anger.
He showed a violent behavior that should have never been permitted to happen, but no one tried to stop him this time.
The reason for this was that all of them felt the same. General Belharres then raised his hand slowly to stop him, and turned his sharp gaze to the surroundings.
“Who said I accepted defeat in this war?”
He said those words with a calm voice.
Both confidence and the air of dignity from a warrior who had survived many battles could be felt from his voice.
There was no indication of fear in those words. Only firm resolution existed within them.
“Eh? But Your Excellency… Just now…”
“I never said we’ve lost the war. Joshua did not say that either.”
None of the officers present could understand the meaning of what the General had just said.
The adjutants were sure that the General had said that they had already lost.
And they could not all be mistaken.
“What I meant by ‘lost’ is in term of strategy… Well, as long we’ve already been defeated strategy-wise, the way towards victory would be almost non-existent.”
General Belharres deeply sighed. Then he showed a dark smile and continued talking.
“Ortomea has executed a multilayered strategy for this battle, limiting our movements … Is there anyone here who understands what this means?”
No one opened their mouth. Everyone keeps quiet and waits for him to continue.
It can’t be helped that they could not understand the General’s words.
It is unreasonable to ask knights who live on the battlefield about grand strategy. <TLN: In our term, the topic is above their pay grade.>
General Belharres then starts talking so that the others could follow.
“In the first place, why did we choose an open field as the battlefield.?”
“That is because Ortomea only mobilized a small force which we thought that we had a chance of defeating by mobilizing the army under His Hajesty the King’s direct command.”
“Correct, now let me ask all of you, in the past, has our country have ever won against Ortomea by fighting alone?”
In the past, Zalda never fought against Ortomea alone. They always cooperated with the neighboring countries.
The adjutants start to realize what the General is talking about. Then, they all reach a single conclusion.
“It can’t be… The Rozeria civil war is…”
General Belharres’ adjutants turn a probing gaze at him.
“That is right… Of course, I have no proof. However, this invasion, the timing is too perfect for the Ortomea side… Perhaps they have prepared for this invasion for many years… Waiting for the chance when our allies won’t be able to send reinforcement.”
Territory, population, and economy. In all aspects, the kingdom of Zalda is inferior compared to the Ortomea Empire.
Still, the reason why the Zalda Kingdom has been able to maintain its independence is because of the existence of the alliance between the eastern kingdoms.
Rozeria, and Mist, whenever an emergency occurs, those two nations always sent their reinforcements. That is why, the kingdom of Zalda has survived this far.
Of course, they weren’t helping out of the kindness of their hearts.
If the Zalda Kingdom were to be destroyed, that would mean the territory of a great country will spread into the eastern region of the western continent.
Which means, it would be almost a guarantee that their invasion would reach both, Rozeria and Mist.
“Due to the aftermath of the civil war, Rozeria could not afford to send reinforcement…. Physically, it is just impossible for them. And since Rozeria is currently in the middle of confusion, Mist kingdom could not dispatch soldiers through Rozeria land… It is also difficult to send reinforcement via sea route. It takes too much time to navigate through the southern direction, and via the north, there’s wortenia peninsula… I don’t know who created the plan, but being able to plunge Rozeria into civil war and contained both countries at the end… This person must be quite formidable.”
All of his adjutants understood that in this war, it is hard to expect any reinforcement from the two other nations.
Realizing that, the adjutants hold their breath. After having been explained this far, they finally understood, what kind of a dangerous situation they are in.
“If that the case… The thing that Joshua-dono called trap is…”
They might have realized that the words of the man they had hated contained some truth in them. They speak with a more friendly voice.
“Do you think the enemy who has prepared carefully this far would retreat that easily? I’m sure, they have troops lying in ambush… For the sake of choking the life of us…”
Toward Belharres’ remark, the others are unable to say anything.
After hearing Ortomea’s retreat, they all felt excited towards the unexpected event, but when they regained their calmness, they finally understood that this all was actually a trap.
“So that is why this battles victor has been decided, is it? Does that meant this war is also useless?”
Words filled with sadness and despair.
They will fight because they thought they will win. They can bet their life because they think they can protect those who are important to them. For those who believe that General Belharres would win, the words of Joshua and the General is just like a death god’s breath.
The adjutant who tried to confirm it can only speak while feeling brokenhearted. However, General Belharres denied his statement.
“That is not it. The things we just talked about is what we see from the point of view of strategy, disadvantages, and advantages. Well, falling into despair is one of the causes of disadvantages, but there’s still a way…”
“”Is that true?!””
The weaker the human being, the easier they can be baited by the sweet temptation called hope.
The hope that appeared suddenly after being made aware of the despair that they cannot expect victory. Who would blame them for clinging to such hope?
But the road before them was much harsher than death.
“That is by taking their highest commander, Sardina Eizenheit’s head…”
Following General Belharres words, the air inside the tent froze.
That plan is suicidal with a low chance of success.
Indeed, by killing the enemy’s commander, victory could be attained.
Strategic defeat could be overturned by a tactical victory of taking Sardina’s head.
Certainly, the theory is not wrong.
“… But, Your Excellency… That plan is too reckless…”
And elderly adjutant made up his mind and began to voice his concern.
Trying to aim for the enemy commander’s head, while also plunging into the enemy’s trap.
It is something easy to say, but will be a hard plan to execute as if trying to find a single needle inside a battlefield.
However, the adjutant can feel General Belharres determination, thus he fell in silence.
“I know… This can be said as trying to break the enemy’s trap by force… That is why we must be prepared for annihilation here… But, even though it was small, there’s the chance for us to save the country… If we retreat like this, Ortomea Empire army won’t lose anything. They would even be able to make a base in Zalda with their current force… Given the national strength difference, with the enemy building a base inside our territory, we won’t be able to gain it back…”
The natural defense where Zalda is being protected by many high mountains.
The rugged territory that prevents the invasion from the enemy.
If they let the enemy country make a base within Zalda territory, they won’t be able to retake it again.
Indeed, the national strength of Ortomea Empire is higher. In fact, if their entire force were to come attacking, Zalda won’t be able to defend itself.
It is common in a strategic teaching that when besieging a fort, the attacking side needs three times more force than the defending side.
But from the start, Ortomea is already stronger.
“Besides, tacticians easily to lose their head over something. Up to this point, it is developing according to the strategy of the enemy’s strategist. This strategist should have been confident that the victory is in their hands. Usually, when strategist is in such state, they would be careless…”
No other option is present.
The only thing remaining is the harsh hope.
“Your Excellency… Is your decision final?”
“Yes, I’m sorry, all of you have to go down with me like this…”
General Belharres’ words are ruthless.
Because he gives out a plan with little possibility of success with also little possibility of returning alive. However, no one present shows an indication of fear.
At the beginning, the hearts of the adjutants were filled with despair. It was natural, normally, no one is willing to bet their lives when defeat is already expected.
But General Belharres manages to capitalize on that.
Because nothing is stronger and more terrifying than a human being who prepared to die. <TLN: Death soldiers, Sun Tzu art of war, always avoid fighting enemy soldiers who are on death ground because it will give them the desperate edge that makes men fight like they never had before…>
“Very well… With this, we shall pursue the enemy commander’s head with the entire force left. There will be no retreat! Do you all understand?!”
From within their bodies, fighting spirit starts to burn like never before. Knowing their predicament and to not die pointlessly, the will of men prepared to give up life for their country.
Zalda against Ortomea. The battle between the two countries has reached the final phase.