Here’s the chapter, enjoy~
A gloomy atmosphere prevailed in the main camp of the Principality of Lichtine. Marquis Ranquille and his staff had a dark and somber look on their faces, and a few of them were even blue in the lips from the cold.
It was not that there was no warmth; there were a few heating devices in the tent. However, the battle’s disadvantageous situation and the lack of bright signs made the cold even more painful. In the midst of it all, a shivering staff member looked at Ranquille.
“Marquis Ranquille. It seems that most slaves have escaped. If this continues, the regular soldiers may be affected as well.”
“…I thought I sent out a warning that they would be severely punished.”
It is obvious that the man in black is affecting them. There is nothing that can be done about it.
The only thing that can be done is to alleviate the fear, but even that is limited in a battlefield like this, and the only option is to give them alcohol. But that was not an option when there was no way to know when the enemy would attack at night.
“What I am thinking is also what the enemy is thinking.”
Above all, night raids are a staple of warfare. It’s an excellent way for a small army to defeat a large army. The opposite is also true, and there is no way that the experts who presented such a great plan would not understand it. So, he allowed his soldiers to rest but not to take off their armor. The reason is that they do not know when the enemy will attack at night.
“It’s so horrible, but…”
He knew that he was overly cautious. But one wrong move, and the country is doomed. It is not easy to take bold action. It’s the same with deserters. Even though they will be severely punished, it will create discord in the army if they are killed as an example. Even if they were captured, they would be a hindrance, so there was no choice but to let them go. This is further fueling the anxiety of the soldiers.
“…In any case, we have to wait for the spy to come back.”
Whether or not to conduct a night raid depends on the report from the spy. The location of the enemy position was known from the scouts’ reports. However, the enemy position was unexpectedly heavily guarded. Even if they launched a night attack, they would not be able to achieve much. Not only that, but there was a risk of damage to themselves.
“It’s frustrating, though.”
A few hours ago, he sent out a few spies to check on the enemy positions. The information they could get in a short time would be limited, but they might be able to find some light.
“Will we be able to get ahead of them?”
Two thousand camel cavalrymen were waiting outside the camp, awaiting word. The only thing left to do was to assess the opportunity upon the return of the spies. A thought occurred to him, and he broke off his thought and called out to his staff.
“What are Karl-sama doing now?”
“He seemed unexpectedly tired, so he’s resting.”
He is the second son of the prince, who was raised after the successive deaths of the prince’s heirs. He has not had many opportunities to go out due to his weakness, and it seems that he has finally reached his limit due to the sudden departure.
“I want you to increase the number of guards in case of an emergency. If anything happens to Karl-sama, it will be the end of this country.”
He wanted to boost the morale of his troops, but he couldn’t force them. If he were lost, this country would be annexed by another country.
“But how is it that humans, when cornered, are so incapable of thinking…?”
He felt more threatened than he had ever felt in the past when the neighboring country of Steichen attacked. At that time, even if he died, there were still some great noblemen around, although they were less capable. There was no need to worry about the future. It was only when he lost them that he realized how important they were.
“It’s not good. If the commander is like this, the soldiers will be eager to leave.”
He laughed to himself and then turned his head to conclude.
“Did you find the location of the Fourth Imperial Army’s logistics?”
“No, it’s probably somewhere around here, but… we haven’t found it yet.”
The location pointed out by the staff member who looked down at the map was the area around the fort that had fallen to the Fourth Imperial Army―if they could destroy the logistics, they could avoid a long war. The morale will be lowered, and the tide will be drawn in their direction. On the other hand, there is something that worries him. In fact, it may even strengthen the enemy’s unity.
“…It’s a tough call. It is better to destroy the logistics if we are to gain any advantage.”
They’re grasping at straws right now. It was also necessary to boost their morale.
“Yeah, plus it would be nice if we could take in the rebels.”
“No, I don’t think so. We can’t coordinate with a bunch of untrained slaves. They’ll just get in the way. If it were up to me, I’d just kill them.”
“But the Fourth Imperial Army did not do so. I think it’s best to assume there’s something behind it.”
“I’ve thought about that a few times myself. How to use the rebel army to gain an advantage in the battle. However, from the enemy’s perspective, there is no need to bring them in since they are numerous. Even if they are used as a wall, if they escape in the middle of the battle, they might disrupt the formation.”
Ranquille crossed his arms and snorted.
“The need to capture those who will only get in the way no matter how it goes. I can’t seem to think of one.”
“Perhaps they are not thinking about it at all.”
In an attempt to lighten the mood, the staff officer said jokingly.
Normally, the staff officer should have been asked to leave the room, but he was trying to clear the gloomy atmosphere. He should have thanked him for his spirit. So Ranquille laughed, forgave him, and replied seriously.
“I doubt it. If their goal is to confuse us, a daytime battle will suffice. There is no need to bring in something as dangerous as a rebel army themselves.”
At this point, Ranquille shrugged his shoulders.
“It can’t be helped to worry about it. The more we think about it, the more we fall into their hands. Let’s not talk about it here. Now we must wait for the return of the spy to see if we can launch a night attack.”
There’s no need for them to get themselves into trouble.
A few moments later, they received a report that the spy had returned. A man appeared in the doorway and kneeled down as Ranquille asked him to let him through. Ranquille gave him a word of encouragement and then urged him to report.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a report to deliver.”
The spy bowed his head and said in a gruff, unhurried voice.
“When I sneaked into the enemy’s camp, the soldiers were given alcohol to improve their morale, their armor was removed, and they were resting as if they were not worried about a night attack. The enemy army was more tired than I had imagined and seemed to be in no condition to fight. On the other hand, they are also preparing for a night attack and have 1,500 camel cavalrymen waiting outside their camp.”
“They are also preparing for a night attack, huh…? Do you think it will be a problem if we launch a night attack too?”
“The security seems to be tight, but it’s only a facade. I believe the night attack will be a success.”
“Fumu. I understand. All right, go get some food and water. You may leave now.”
“Ha! Excuse me!”
As soon as the spy had left, the staff officer approached Ranquille with a look of delight on his face.
“It seems that the enemy is also preparing, so I think it would be better for us to take the initiative and make the first move.”
“There is no need to be so hasty. It would be better to hear from the others to make a decision.”
If they don’t hear from the rest of the spies, they won’t be able to make a decision. If they overlooked something, it would quickly lead to a lost battle. His reasoning told him that he should be cautious here.
“Bring the next one.”
The staff member looked unconvinced but nodded honestly. Not knowing how he would feel about it, he decided to go for it. In the daytime, a single man is playing with them with fewer soldiers than them, and there is no end to the number of deserters. But if there is a trap, it cannot be a mistake. The fate of the nation is at stake.
“…There’s still time. It won’t be too late after we hear all the reports.”
He realized that hesitation was forming in him, but he shook his head as if to blow it away.
“I’ve brought him here.”
“All right, let’s hear the report.”
Another man dropped to his knees and mouthed the report.
“When we infiltrated the enemy position, the soldiers were standing by with spears and torches in their hands, ready for a night attack. They may be a little tired, but their morale is high, and the sixth princess, their commander, is inspiring them, so it won’t be easy to attack.”
The expressions of the staff members turned pale. Some of them even whispered that the report was wrong. Ranquille put his hand on his forehead and let out a small breath.
“Were there any camel cavalry outside?”
“There were, but no riders. I think they’re screening the elite.”
“All right, get back.”
After watching the spy’s exit, Ranquille slumped into his chair as if he was tired. A staff member handed him a glass of water.
“However, this is a difficult situation. If it was a minor difference, we could have overlooked it, but when there’s this much difference between the two reports, we can’t simply pass judgment.”
“Fumu… that’s right. Let’s ask the rest of them. Then we can discuss it together.”
The third and fourth were welcomed, but only the second spy was reported differently. Ranquille called the second spy again and questioned him.
“Do you know why you were called in?”
“N-no, sir, I don’t.”
“Your report was very different from the others.”
The spy had a look of astonishment on his face, but Ranquille cursed him in his heart for being a good actor.
“Examine this man’s body. He must have been bribed.”
The soldier at the entrance had him pinned down, and the staff began to examine his body in unison.
“Ah, there it is! There’s a pouch full of Steichen silver coins, sir!”
“I guess it’s settled.”
“N-no, it’s different!”
The agent, who had lost his blood pressure, shouted. Ranquille asked with cold eyes.
“What’s the difference?”
“I’m not being bribed! They are really under heavy guard!”
“Then what is this? Why is there a small pouch of Steichen silver coins in your pocket?”
The spy is hesitant to say anything, and Ranquille announces with contempt.
“W-wait! It’s really not! Forgive me, Marquis Ranquille, forgive me!”
The blade swung down on the head of the spy and was rolled on the ground. In the blink of an eye, a spray of blood stained the tent red. Ranquille stomped on the cooling pool of blood and spat viciously.
“How dare you confuse a national crisis with something like this!”
He threw the contents of the pouch at the corpse, and the contents scattered loudly.
Ranquille raised and lowered his shoulders, snorting.
“Set up a night attack. The enemy is resting!”
“But it seems that the enemy is also ready to launch a night attack…”
“I don’t care. That’s why we require our soldiers to wear armor. Notify all troops to remain vigilant and prepare for a night attack.”
After looking at the map, Ranquille guessed the enemy’s path.
“If they were to launch a night attack from behind, they would have to make a large detour. There are 1,500 of them. It would be useless if they could be detected by sound. I don’t think they’ll come from behind, but I’ll put many bonfires behind to check them—triple the fences on both sides. We’ll lure them to the front. Have your bows and spears ready.”
The staff members hurriedly ran out of the tent. This was the moment of truth. Then Ranquille suddenly remembered the presence of the man in black.
Ranquille stopped one of the staff members and said.
“Prepare a special team to guard Karl-sama in case of the man in black attacking.”
With all that bravery, it would be easy for him to lead them to the center of the field single-handedly. While protecting Karl, he could crush 1,500 camel cavalrymen, which would surely boost the troops’ morale.
If the night attack is successful, the man in black will be alone, and he can be cooked any way he wants.
“Let’s finish him off here.”
In this way, the Principality of Lichtine’s army was fully prepared―or so they thought.