Editor : Starbuck11
Surrounded by rugged rocky mountains, a vast pocket of land spread in the middle.
The Ushias basin was a relatively rich plain when compared to the majority of Zalda’s territory that was mostly made of rocky mountains.
While most of the agricultural crops rely on imports from neighboring countries, these kinds of greenery areas scattered in several places around the country are mainly responsible for growing staple food such as wheat.
Although the Zalda Kingdom territory was not suitable for agriculture, it can’t rely solely on imports either.
Assuming the country has to give up on other grocery goods, it should never import staple foods from outside, because if it ever relies on this then it will have a very big weakness.
Since, if a country imported even the staple foods it needs, the neighboring countries could easily intervene by threatening to stop the exports of such essential foods.
It was no exaggeration to call Ushias basin the heart of the Zalda Kingdom.
Thus, from the perspective of national defense this place could not be ignored.
The Ushias basin was located a hundred kilometers southwest of Periveria, the capital of the Zalda Kingdom. The basin was also a traffic hub that people need to pass if they wanted to go to the south and west of the Zalda Kingdom.
In this basin, due to the vast area, it was hard to perform a surprise attack.
Thus unexpected situation was unlikely to happen.
In such a place, a robust fort had been built on the east side of the basin, stuck in the middle of a valley.
Being located in that situation, it was standing tall as if it was the Zalda Kingdom’s guardian deity.
The fort that had been developed by the Royal family for many years, and the support it gets by making use of other forts located in the mountains, coupling with the advantage of topography, made it an impregnable fortress indeed.
Therefore, even after two months had passed, the 65,000 troops from Ortomea Empire could still not conquer the fort.
Today as well, the Ortomea Empire soldiers rushed toward Ushias fort with much zeal.
Everything was for victory…
“Everyone! This is a critical moment. By combining the forces from our three countries, even with Ortomea Empire as our enemy, we will not let them capture this fort! The current enemy supplies should be low and such condition should’ve caused their morale to drop! Let us show them our strength and bestow those invaders with iron justice!”
“””Glory to the eastern three countries! Death to the Invaders!”””
When the beautiful general from the Mist Kingdom, Eclatia Marienel, ended her speech, the soldiers cheered with much vigor.
They also raised their fist high towards the heaven.
These soldiers placed their absolute trust in their commander who stands in front of them with a gentle smile on her face.
Even though Eclatia was from another country, for the soldiers such a thing was irrelevant right now.
Although there were reinforcements from the surrounding forts and also the Royal capital, it was because of Eclatia’s outstanding command that the Ushias fort still managed to hold on against the 65,000 enemy troops.
“Prepare the bows ! The first line, draw your bow ! Second line and third line in standby ! They are going to bring the siege weapons out ! Let the arrows loose as soon as they enter the range. Those on the rear, don’t forget to prepare fire arrows ! Are the oils ready ?! Listen ! Do not let any soldiers survive ! Kill every single one of them !”
The commanding officers give their orders across the fort walls.
The arrows wrapped in cloth are then soaked with oil.
There were also iron pots filled with boiling oil raising some steam.
If such oil was poured on the Ortomean soldiers that tried to climb the walls, their skins would melt. After that, they will be baptized with fire arrows.
No one can escape intact from such continuous attack.
For the Ortomea Empire soldiers, fort Ushias was akin to the gate of hell.
“Don’t you ever take a step back ! Rozeria Kingdom soldiers ! Let us show our value here !”
Elena yelled at the surrounding knights while letting loose the bow that was aimed at the Ortomea Empire soldiers trying to close in.
Of course, even if they have the advantage of geography, this battle was not an easy one.
Their enemy was Ortomea Empire that boasts exceptional national strength.
Having abundant human resources.
The enemy performed a human wave attack.
The pressure of such tactic was not light.
Regardless of how high the walls protect them, in the end, it was the soldier’s heart that decides everything.
Elena encourages the troops desperately while shooting her arrow at an Ortomea Empire soldier that tried to use magic arts.
In a siege warfare, the most important thing was to keep the morale of the soldiers up.
The battle will end when the morale of the soldiers falls.
The only way to make the enemy morale breaks down was to keep pilling enemy corpses.
“Watch out for the battering ram!”
Warning shouts come from the watchtower.
It was a simple battering ram, a tree with a handle on its sides and the tip covered with iron. but it was something that should never be underestimated, even an iron gate could fall because of such a thing.
“Fire arrows ! Purge that thing !”
Under the quick command of the commanding officer, oil was poured from above and the fire arrows squad rained their projectiles toward the battering ram.
Apparently, the Ortomea Soldiers learned from their previous mistakes and covered themselves with wet clothes, but such small tricks won’t prove much useful.
And as everyone had expected, such measure was proven fruitless.
(No matter how big the army is, if the situation only provided for a small number of tactics that can be chosen, then this will happen huh? Afterwards, everything depends on that child’s progress, and until that time comes I need to keep the morale up…)
Elena’s face was dyed red due to the evening sun, together with a dark smile appearing on her face.
“It is about time for today’s attack to end…”
A woman’s voice called to Elena who was commanding the front line.
“Indeed… The sun has already fallen, shortly after this, the enemy soldiers should begin pulling back… Is something happening that caused the General of the army to come out to the front line like this?”
Elena asked back while keeping a casual attitude.
In response to Elena’s question, Eclatia answered by shaking her head.
“Nothing in particular. It seems Grahart-san is doing well against the enemies who are advancing via the mountain route.”
“Well, it was natural, since he is a capable person.”
Elena nodded her head confirming such news as a matter of fact.
Grahart Henschel is the head of Zalda Kingdom’s royal guard, he was one of the best soldiers of the Zalda Kingdom.
His capability as a commander-in-chief who oversaw the entire war was not that good, but as a commander of a single battlefield, his capability and experience should be sufficient enough. For him who was born in this country, the Ortomea Empire should never be able to defeat him when it comes to mountainous warfare.
It was the right choice to leave the defense of the Ushias fort to the army of the three kingdoms, while Grahart himself was in command of the surrounding forts located in the mountainous area.
Nonetheless, it was hard for Elena and Eclatia to ask Grahart to do such defensive job.
And after a rough strategy meeting, it took the Zalda King giving him a direct order to make Grahart take the job.
The reason why Elena and Eclatia pushed such task to Grahart was that he was the one most familiar with the land.
No matter how strong Ushias fort was, it would be meaningless if the enemy could just go around it.
The morale of the soldiers would fall all at once if that was to happen.
“For now, it seems today’s battle is about to end… With this, we managed to win the 20 days schedule as planned…”
While looking at the Ortomea army that was slowly retreating, Eclatia said those words with a smile on her face.
Although there was the possibility of a night assault, she had already prepared something for that.
If the enemy decides to keep the assault, they will be met with a hard blow.
“Indeed, that child should be able to do it…”
In response to Eclatia’s words, Elena turned her gaze toward the north.
Waiting for the hand that will turn this war around to arrive…
“Saitou, even with your command, we still could not break through?”
Sardina’s frustrated voice reverberated inside the tent.
It was unusual for her to be this frustrated.
Her expression was also terrible.
Anxiety from the prolonged war caused the light on Sardina’s eyes to grow dimmer.
Her hair also lost its gloss.
The dark circle around her eyes also showed the situation she was currently in.
“I’m very sorry… That fort was built in a valley, it takes time to break through it…” <TLN: This kind of fort position is very similar to the one from the Lord of the rings, called Helm’s Deep>
Saitou lowered his head with a serious face.
It was not Saitou’s individual responsibility for the war to get prolonged like this.
After all, it was Sardina who held the entire authority.
Conversely, it was the responsibility of Sardina who have the highest command.
Besides, Saitou was only a commander of some units.
If one were to speak about responsibility, the one who was most responsible was none other than Seria who just arrived for her new job, as Sardina’s close aide, and the staff officers, not only her.
But Saitou was not some child that would rebuke Sardina and say that everything was her responsibility.
The most important thing right now was to win the war.
For Saitou understands that he should avoid remarks that might cause Sardina’s mind to become cloudy.
However, despite Saitou’s concerns, an annoying man opened his mouth.
“Well well, that’s not all of it. Those guys, they dispersed their army along the mountains while focusing the defense on this fort. When we tried to meet with their challenge in the mountains, they immediately pulled us in. While at the same time with tens of thousands of troops, we still could not push back their defenses here…”
Although Sudou has the qualification to speak as an advisor, Saitou still yelled at Sudou for his conduct.
In the first place, Saitou never liked Sudou.
Although Saitou held some sympathy as someone who had the same fate being summoned to this world, their personalities were like water and oil.
Sudou who likes to make strategies and schemes was completely different compared to Saitou who was more like a warrior.
(It’s not like he is a bad person… But somewhere, this person’s mind is broken… But then I guess it can’t be helped…)
Sudou likes to see bloodshed with his plans.
Saitou saw him as someone with a broken part as a human being.
However, if he argues here, coupled with Sudou’s manner of speaking, it might disturb Sardina’s mind further.
“It’s fine, Sudou. You can say what you want to say…”
Sardina interrupted Saitou with a tone as if she gives up.
To be honest, she didn’t want to hear Sudou’s words.
However, she understood that Sudou’s ability at making strategy was better than her.
Although his personality was difficult to handle, she could not ignore Sudou’s words either.
Hearing Sardina’s words, Sudou glanced at Saitou in triumph, then he lifts his lips.
“Ushias Fort is a fortification within another fortification. Not only that, we don’t have proper siege weapons with us this time as well… It was because we used troops that are more suited for mobile warfare that we suffered this kind of unfortunate result…”
Because the fort walls were fortified by magic arts, the only way to bring down such fort was only by using standard siege warfare.
However, most of the siege weapons were heavy and inconvenient for transportation, thus Sardina could not fully prepare for this kind of battle.
Of course, it doesn’t mean that she didn’t prepare anything either : along the way, she ordered her soldiers to gather logs by cutting trees to create small siege weapons, but even with that, the attack performance from such weapons was too inferior compared to the one made by a proper craftsman.
Particularly, there were too many holes on the durability side.
Such weapons didn’t have enough defense against fire arrows and oil poured from overhead.
“In addition to that, the movement of the Zalda Kingdom’s nobility that we supposedly brought to our side was also dull. Probably, because we were met with hard fights, they decided to sit on the fence…”
In a siege battle, the easiest way to attack was from the side.
In other words, the easiest way to win a siege battle was to use traitors.
However, the nobles they had bought to perform the task were somehow moving slowly.
“They decide to play both sides, huh?”
“That’s correct. If I was in their position, that is what I would do. They have no loyalty to anyone. Well, the reason why we could bring down General Belharres was also thanks to those kind of people…”
In response to Sardina’s question, Sudou gave his answer while laughing.
The cooperation from last year was only because of their opportunistic personality.
Listening to Sudou’s words, Sardina once again bite her thumbnail.
(Those guys must have doubted the Empire’s power because of these prolonged battles… Damn it, I should’ve decided on a short and decisive battle after all…)
“Fine then… What is your plan, Sudou?”
“The best plan is to pull soldiers back and be satisfied with the land we’ve currently occupied. Trends in the north are questionable, while we’re also low on supplies. With Belharres’ son raiding our supply convoys all the times, it is hard to get new ones. Local procurement is also severe, as the Zalda soldiers burned the villages and fields when they retreated.”
Such tactic was called scorched-earth warfare.
It was used many times throughout history.
When such tactic was used, an army could not procure supplies from the locals, thus making the maintenance of the troops become harder.
It had been proven highly effective against large invading armies, especially when transportation was also difficult because of mountainous or cold areas.
However, despite its effectiveness, it also had great drawbacks.
The biggest disadvantages of such tactics were to make post-war reconstruction become harder.
In other words, for the Zalda Kingdom to prevent the enemy from winning, they decided to cut their own flesh.
The only way to break such tactic was to win the war in a short period of time, thus an army didn’t have to worry about resupplying from its own nation.
When both methods fail, it was natural to withdraw the army.
However, Sardina shook her head.
“We can’t… Sudou. Do you think I can withdraw now?”
She understood that Sudou’s words were correct.
However, she could not easily withdraw the soldiers now.
Sudou was also aware of that too.
“True, to be honest, it would be a very difficult situation. At least your highness position would become unfavorable. Of course, that also means our position…”
In this one year, Sardina’s war expenditures had exceeded 500 million baht.
Such amount was very enormous, it was even comparable to the budget of a small country.
It was not an amount that could easily be levied, even for Ortomea Empire.
However, the amount of war expenditures was not the problem this time.
Since when everything is considered, Ortomea Empire could gather that amount of funds in two to three years time.
The problem was whether the expenditure was worth it or not.
There were many reasons for a war to happen, but the most common one was due to economic considerations.
The reason a nation occupied a land was also mostly because of the taxes and resources obtained from that land.
Thus, pouring money to achieve that was not a problem.
The problem lies whether the money spent and the amount one’s get was balanced out.
“As soon as we withdraw the soldiers, we will have to negotiate with the Zalda Kingdom…”
Saitou stopped his words.
Negotiation was not a bad choice, as long as the situation was a little more inclined towards the Ortomea Empire.
Although the ideal goal was to destroy the Zalda Kingdom, the Ortomean Emperor had said that it was okay to make them a vassal country.
However, with this kind of situation, Sardina could not accept such end.
“It is true that if we failed in capturing Ushias basin, we can’t justify the war costs… Especially with the current situation, it is impossible…”
“I know that… That is why I made it a priority to capture this fort…”
Sudou and Saitou remained silent, while Sardina stared at them.
The profits the Empire would get by starting negotiations before they can capture the Ushias fort was minimal.
The Zalda side won’t give up so easily the important land that produces food for their country.
However, Ortomea Empire was not a naive nation either.
In other words, the Empire also needed to return the cost of waging war.
“It seems like we have to continue attacking like this…”
“If we can’t retreat then we can only move forward, no?”
Saitou responded to Sudou’s question with silence.
Sardina had received a lot of trust from the Emperor, thus many people were jealous of her.
Especially her two older brothers.
Envy usually accompanied honors, but if this expedition ended up in failure, she would become an easy target for the monsters in the imperial court. –
Such a thing also applied to the imperial family.
Execution might be not considered, but she would without a doubt end up isolated.
“We should make tomorrow’s battle a decisive one… Sudou, we will use the plan you talked about earlier…”
Sardina’s eyes turned sharp once again.
She re-confirmed her objectives once again.
“Very well, a whole-army wave attack it is… If this fail, everything is over…”
Sudou confirmed the plan with a smile on his face.
(Is Sudou-san referring to a mobile form of attack? Certainly, there’s some possibility… However…)
Saitou’s instinct that had been polished since he was summoned to this world, gave him a warning alarm.
However, it was also true that they were out of options.
“Saitou, you will be on the front line as well tomorrow…”
“Yes… Your Highness…”
Sardina turned a sharp look at Saitou who remained silent.
Pushed by the momentum, Saitou could only nod his head while feeling a little uneasy.