Chapter 5 – Ice Emperor
September 26, 1026th year of the imperial calendar.
Grantz’s Third Army had resumed its march.
Riots broke out in several small cities, and Grantz launched an invasion taking advantage of the chaos.
Having gained a just cause, the Grantz advanced with great vigor, but Anguis, who was in charge of this area, saw the disadvantage and gathered their forces, which were scattered all over the country, and set up a position on the plain.
Anguis had 50,000 troops, while Grantz’s Third Army had 10,000, and the “Raven Army” had 2,000, for a total of 12,000, making a clear difference in strength.
“In terms of strength, we are at a disadvantage. I guess we gave them too much time to fight. But even so, they have quite a large number.”
In the center of the “Raven Army,” which had set up its main camp in the rear of Grantz’s Third Army, was Hiro.
Hiro was sitting in a chair prepared for him and was looking at a map spread out on a simple desk. He reached out his hand and looked at a nearby piece of paper.
“According to the report, it seems that there are many soldiers from Azel.”
Since they were not on the hill this time, they were relying on the messenger for information on their opponents.
Sitting next to Hiro was Skaaha. She was also looking at the map but frowned a little and said with a snort.
“Maybe it’s reinforcements from their home country…”
Hiro would like to talk to Luca about that, but although she was with him, she was digging around in the ground with her hands, mouthing something to the air above her.
With that, he couldn’t expect a proper response. In truth, he didn’t really want to bring her to the battlefield, but she wouldn’t leave Hiro either, so he had no choice.
“When the battle starts, take care of Luca, will you?”
Skaaha was also waiting in the main camp. She was thinking about his request and Luca’s physical condition.
When Hiro looked at her, he saw that she had a somewhat determined look on her face―impatience was evident in her profile as she gazed at the Six Kingdoms’ army. Hiro understood this feeling.
Therefore, he did not bother to ask her why.
“You can leave the rest to me.”
The numbers were overwhelmingly unfavorable. The “Raven Army” would also have to fight.
It was going to be a tough fight. There was a great possibility that the enemy would reach the “Raven Army” main camp.
The “Raven Army” was allowed to move freely as a volunteer army, but that did not mean that they could play around. In order to raise the morale of the Grantz, they would have to fight even harder in order to burn the existence of the small nation of Baum into the Six Kingdoms.
“I also want to pay back the debt from two years ago.”
He looked in the direction of the Anguis army, where Lucia would be. The opponent must want to end this battle in a short period.
They must be in a hurry to avoid being caught in the rear by the Grantz forces that were invading the northern flank. If Grantz could take advantage of this opportunity, they can easily ignore the gap in numbers.
“A day or two… Skaaha, have you heard where the main Grantz army is right now?”
“After defeating the combined forces of Tigris and Scorpius, they have launched an attack on the former royal capital. This is information from three days ago, so the Grantz may be holding the former royal capital as early as today.”
There was little point in attacking the former royal capital, which was now in ruins.
If profit was the priority―but it was a strategically important base.
The former royal capital, located in the center of the region, was one of the key points from which the entire Felzen region can be seen.
The Six Kingdoms would probably want to avoid simply surrendering the former royal capital in order to buy more time.
The remnants of Tigris and Scorpius, who were defeated by the main Grantz army led by Liz, and the Urpeth army were holed up in the former royal capital, where resistance was expected to be fierce.
Even with Aura’s military strategy, it was impossible to defeat them in a few days. It would take a considerable number of days for the main Grantz army to reach here.
If that was the case――,
“We’ll just have to hope that the Third Army of Grantz commanders are good.”
Right now, the priority was to buy time.
But the opponent would want to settle this in the short term and would launch an onslaught from the first round.
That was why there were many uncertainties. If there was a situation in which the Grantz Third Army collapsed early, it would not be easy to rebuild.
It would be good if the commander of the Third Army of Grantz understood that.
“It has begun…”
Despite Hiro’s anxiety, the signal for the start of the battle was heard from both armies. The horns were blown high, and the sound of drums echoed endlessly.
Soldiers from both armies shouted and shook the air to intimidate their opponents.
A violent cloud of dust began to rise from the front as they began their assault.
Soon, what could be heard echoing out was a storm of sword fights that were so fierce that they were knocking each other’s bodies against the ground.
It was clear that the Third Army of Grantz and the First Army of Azel had clashed.
“Judging from the dust… I wonder if the opponent has been giving it their all from the beginning. Are they playing small, or are they up to something?”
In contrast, the Third Army of Grantz moved slowly. It can be seen just by looking at the front line from the rear.
The commander seemed to have used a passive strategy. They joined up without thinking about anything else. He seemed to be faithfully following orders from the main army. It was apparent that he was an honest and serious man.
It would not be so bad if there were no difference in numbers, but the blatant soul trying to buy time would only give the other side an opportunity. It was as if they were asking their opponents to attack.
“We need to toughen up a bit.”
Hiro called the commander of the “Raven Army.”
“Your Majesty… Did you call for me?”
After smiling at the commander, who stood erect and waited for orders, Hiro turned his hand to the left.
“Could you please go over to the left and mess with the enemy’s second line? If they chase after you, then good; if they don’t, then you will have to disrupt their formation.”
Before Hiro could ask how many men he would need, he replied.
“Five hundred is enough. I am sure it will be as you wish.”
He turned his back on Hiro.
“I guess it’s the result of Ghada’s education…”
He seemed a little stiff, but his quick thinking was not a bad thing. If he could sense Hiro’s intentions, that would be even better.
“Well, what else should we do…?”
The “Raven Army” now has 1,500 left, and Hiro silently pondered.
If the battle proceeded as Hiro expected, the third army of Grantz would have only a limited number of cards.
The only way to buy time without reducing their numbers until the arrival of Grantz’s main army would be to maintain morale.
This passive strategy must have lowered the morale of the soldiers.
If it were true, the usual way would be to fight without being noticed by either friend or foe―but this seemed to be too much for the commander of the Third Army of Grantz. Then he would have to show enough success to maintain morale. However, spectacular war results were not expected from the Third Army of Grantz. If that was the case, the role would naturally fall to the “Raven Army.” It was unknown how far they could go with only 2,000 men, but it was better than nothing.
“Skaaha, I’ll leave the 500 here. If you need anything――”
“I’ll go with you.”
It was Luca who said so.
Hiro looked at her in surprise.
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
“We must finish this battle and find Hugin as soon as possible.”
Hiro was afraid to take her with him because of her unstable state of mind. This was because he did not know how she would behave.
If she continued to be able to answer clearly and respond, it was fine, but if she became unable to do anything, as was the case earlier, her life could be in danger.
Even so, if he didn’t take her with him, she was sure to start acting up here. Hiro’s shoulders slumped in resignation.
“Okay. Then, let’s lead the thousand together to break the enemy’s first line.”
A moment after the battle with the Third Army of Grantz began.
In the main camp of the Anguis army, the officials were moving around in a flurry of activity.
Lucia was checking the situation, eating a piece of fruit, and looking at the map.
“After all, the Third Army of Grantz was trying to buy time. I can’t feel any spirit in the battle.”
“Was it all right for us to give it our all?”
The officials checked with Lucia with a tense look on their faces. The reason might be that they were afraid of the Grantz.
The defeat two years ago was still lingering in the air.
To dispel their fears, Lucia answered with a relaxed tone.
“It doesn’t matter. First, we need to mislead them with our numbers and keep their eyes on us.”
The strategy of the Anguis army was to fight with all their might in the early stages, deceive the eyes of the Third Army of Grantz, and then relax later. It was also meant to conserve their strength for the future.
“But the most important thing is to set up a pincer attack.”
To do so, they would have to wait for the arrival of the 3,000 troops who could not make it to the rally this time.
It was to be aimed at the back of the Third Army of Grantz.
In order to meet Grantz’s main army at all costs, the battle with the Third Army had to end with only minor damage.
Therefore, the most important question now was which reinforcements would arrive here first.
“Has the main Grantz army captured the former royal capital yet?”
“No, it should not have fallen yet. Tigris, Scorpius, and Urpeth seem to be doing well.”
“The long-eared peoples will flee at a moderate pace…”
Even if they tried hard to resist, it was unlikely that they would be able to withstand an attack by the main army of the Grantz.
Rumors about the sixth princess had been heard a lot over the past two years.
If they believed these rumors, including the ones that were spurious, then the former royal city would surely fall.
“…It will be five days before the main army of the Grantz arrives here.”
“If so, it will be quicker this way. The army that failed to assemble is expected to arrive in three days.”
“Enough, let us fight at leisure… Wha!? The Black Dragon King?”
The “Raven Army” was messing around with the second group as they looked out over the battlefield.
The fact that they poked them a little didn’t hurt or itch them.
“We’ll need a little push. Take one of the reserve units and send it to chase after the “Raven Army” that is wandering around.”
“Then let’s see what kind of maneuvering they come up with because even a monkey can do it if it’s just a frontal fight.”
It was not as if Baum or the Third Army of Grantz were inept.
The other side would come up with some kind of move. They would also want to buy time.
“Let’s give them two days, during which they can try all sorts of tricks.”
“Everything seems to be going well over here?”
When she looked up, she saw Nameless. When Lucia unfolded her fan, she hid her mouth, and her voice was full of excitement.
“…A defeated general, though you bragged about it so much, it seems that your watchdog was useless.”
“I had miscalculated a little. The red-haired princess is stronger than I imagined.”
Lucia’s eyes narrowed as she wondered if he had been that cornered that he would honestly praise his enemy.
“You might want to change your mind.”
“Do you think I’m going to lose?”
“No, this time, Lucia-sama’s cautious attitude saved my life. After all, a half-hearted effort will not be enough to stop her. We must fight with all our might.”
“Since I made you say that much… it seems that a formidable foe has emerged.”
“Yes, this time, I will be serious too.”
The voice was very serious, but the quality of the voice was somewhat joyful and bouncy.
Nameless has also been on the battlefield for a long time. He was probably fascinated by the joy, fear, and despair that could only be experienced on the battlefield.
“First of all, we must destroy the “Raven Army. We will eliminate the “Black Dragon King,” who will be the biggest obstacle to us in the future, right here.”
Nameless declared strongly. Lucia laughed out loud with amusement at the sight of him.
“Kakaka, this is getting fun.”
Lucia, who hid her expression with a fan, was by no means smiling. Her eyes were smiling. She was happy as if to say that she was truly amused. However, her mouth was set in a straight line.
The schemes she envisioned in her head, the barriers to becoming a unified king, showed weakness.
Considering her bitter life up to this point, it was not a very funny situation.
An opportunity had just presented itself.
(At last… but the time is not yet ripe.)
Lucia’s eyes narrowed like snakes; her aim was only on Nameless.