Oukoku e Tsuzuku Michi - Chapter 204
-Third Person POV-
Late Summer, Central Region of the Western Plains
The western plains continue to experience sweltering hot weather and depending on the day also an unpleasant level of humidity, however, the strong wind blowing from the sea made it slightly more bearable today.
This was especially true for the soldiers standing under the blazing sun in their iron armor, who thought the breeze was like an angel’s breath.
「So they’re finally here……」
The name of the man who muttered softly was Ivan Galchenko, the Supreme Commander of the Federation Army gathered here.
He is slightly above the age of 50 aad the white hairs in his head are especially prominent.
However, his overflowing spirit from just sitting quietly is not one belonging to a typical elderly man who is tired of living.
This veteran soldier radiated a dignified air one level above all the other sharp and able-bodied men lined up around him.
「Sir! The fools have come.」
The western plains spread out before his eyes and the entirety of the squirming Garland Empire Army comes into view as he gazes upon the unobstructed horizon.
「I assume the preparations to intercept are complete?」
「Of course, Commander Galchenko Your Excellency.The troops under you have already made preparations to fight a defensive battle.」
「Umu…… they’re very well-trained.」
The Federation army is under direct control of the Royal Government and is mostly composed of the soldiers from the armies of State Governments and nobles around the district, with the exception the elites guarding the capital.
Normally, just gathering the armies of the vassals would not make for a decent military force.
However, the State forces and the vassals’ armies were formed under the assumption that they would fight and train together as the Federation’s army during wartimes in the first place.
The army is fundamentally different from a simple mishmash of soldiers.
「A force of 800 000…… but from what I can see, the enemy’s forces are even larger.」
The 800 000 of the Federation army has set up camp in the center of the western plains filled with nothing but grasslands, but the enemy marching slowly towards them appears to be even greater in number.
「According to the reports from our spies, it seems they have mobilized more than 2 million this time.」
As expected, even Galchenko sighs at that fact.
「They gathered all 2 million in one place at the same time…… how foolish.」
「Those guys from Garland are just violent savages. We can’t understand them using our senses.」
In war, there are times where number is more important than quality.
But, that has its limits too.
If you can secure infinite food and water, medicine and a hygienic toilet, then an army of 2 million will be able to exhibit unrivalled strength.
But in reality such a thing is impossible, maintaining the 800 000 the Federation gathered here plus each of the flanking parties of 100 000…… totalling 1 million, requires the mobilization of a large number of carriages and laborers to prepare a mountain of stockpiled supplies.
「Even more so when they’re the invading army and the attacking side, there’s no way they can stockpile their supplies.」
「Normally it would be standard practice to divide an army numbering in the tens of thousands into several field armies.」
Galchenko’s men also have enough talent to lead their own armies.
That’s why they did not excessively fear an army who would throw away supplies like it was nothing.
「It may be somewhat troubling though if they spread out and advance from the west to the east of the western plains.」
It’s because the Imperial army is approaching as a single group that Galchenko concentrated his army in one place.
If the advancing army scatters, there will be more of them running around and the possibility that some of them might seep through the cracks is annoying.
「However, regardless of the numbers, it may be just the pressure that’s overwhelming us, and in that case, we just have to work together with those around us while falling back gradually. The plains are also spread out behind us, it’s not like we’re blocked by a wall.」
If order is maintained while retreating, the one who would exhaust themselves first is without a doubt the Empire’s side.
The issue with numbers, the issue with supplies, each of those are in the Federation’s favor.
「We also have a sea route for transportation after all.」
「Umu, I may be an amateur at naval warfare but the Empire’s fleet only consists of large boats and their tactics are practically like a pirate’s.」
Because the Empire also conducted surprise attacks during the war with them last time, it might be temporarily disadvantageous for the Federation on land.
To turn that around, a victory in naval warfare is needed, but unlike the land battles where you could manage to win just by gathering numbers, in a battle of fleets, the skill of the crewmembers and the well thought out tactics are the most important.
Although, only having size just makes the ships nothing more than a target.
The Empire’s ships sunk to the sea floor while still packed with the soldiers and supplies and then the Empire was defeated even on land shortly after.
「Because of that, those guys in the navy have been getting a big head in recent years. This time, let’s rout them on land.」
「I agree, unlike last time, we’re prepared……」
Galchenko turns around and one of his subordinates speaks out after saluting neatly.
「Stationary large cannons totalling 80, field cannons totalling 500 per corps, both have been installed completely without complication.」
Up until now, cannons could only, outside of certain circumstances, be used in siege battles but they are now being lined up for a large scale field battle.
Galchenko is the first to advocate and realize the range and destructive power of the cannons is sufficient for use on the field.
Which is why most of the cannons the Federation held in possession have been gathered here.
「I really wanted to gather double the amount though. But the navy ended up taking some of them.」
「It can’t be helped. Most of those in White City are stubbornly sticking to using cannons either in sieges or in naval warfare.」
「Seriously, they’re even more stubborn than me at 50 plus years old…… their heads could actually be used as the shells for our cannons.」
Laughter leaks out from all of those in the headquarters.
The enemy has great numbers, yet not a single one of them were feeling pessimistic.
The army of the Federation, matchless in the entire continent, has a total strength of 1 million and is being led by the great veteran general. Why would they have any reason to feel anxious or scared?
Eventually, the distance between the two armies closed and the soldiers began to hurry back and forth even more within their respective camps.
The march of the Imperial army also got visibly slower.
With each side busy changing of formations, it was only a matter of time before the armies transitioned into attack.
Galchenko draws the sword at his hip and declares casually.
「Gentlemen, it’s time for war. Let’s kick the heads of these savage Empire wolves and set fire to their tails.」
The Imperial army makes a move.
The soldiers in the vertical formation split off and arrange themselves in a single file horizontal line.
You couldn’t call those movements beautiful even if it was just flattery, as the army becomes like a clump of people and advances while everybody squirms restlessly.
Nevertheless, the spread out horizontal line consisted of roughly 200 000 men and their footsteps made the earth where the archers could not shoot at from long range rumble.
The mysterious thing was that there were no archers nor cavalry in sight.
All the soldiers were wrapped in a grey armor and they were moving forward as if they were being chased by something.
The Federation army quickly responds by forming a horizontal line of their own.
Unlike the opposite side, the Federation army was orderly without a single arrow out of place even upon close inspection, and one would be able to judge the army’s superior skill and command in an instant.
Yet Galchenko seemed troubled.
「Your Excellency, that is…… they’re also……」
「So these savage people are surprisingly like regular people too?」
Behind the Imperial army’s horizontal formation, cannons which appear to be suitable for field battles, can be seen being pulled on wagons.
However, Galchenko’s staff officers do not lose confidence.
「No need to worry. The Empire’s technology is inferior to ours, so the range and accuracy of our cannons should be superior. Let’s crush them with our cannons before we get into range of the enemy.」
「From what I can see, they only have roughly 100 of them, while we also have large stationary cannons on our side. If it becomes a shoot-out, the winner will be determined immediately.」
As if scared of those words, the Empire’s cannons stopped moving.
Those around Galchenko couldn’t hold back their laughter.
「Hahaha, it’s just like with their navy. They copied the structure but the interior is nonexistent. At that range, they’ll only shoot their own allies.」
「It looks like their cannons are for saluting and celebratory purposes.」
The atmosphere in the headquarters relaxes at the sight of such shabby tactics.
Galchenko himself also nods in agreement, saying how there was no way they would lose to people as foolish as this.
However that atmosphere did not last for very long.
Right when the cannoneers of the Federation were about to make preparations, the Imperial army let out a collective battle cry.
「The enemy…… they’re charging! They’re doing an all-out charge! The entire line is coming at us!!」
「Ridiculous! They’re sending their infantry forward all of a sudden!?」
There was no formation to be found anywhere as the enemy soldiers scatter and rush forward while shouting.
The 200 000 weren’t advancing in an orderly fashion but rather in a frenzied state.
「Are they some savage tribe!? Eeei, don’t let them rattle you, we have no intentions of following their pace! Shoot them as soon as they enter your range! Archers and cannoneers, get your preparations in order!」
The Federation soldiers were slightly in shock but quickly regained their composure.
And then the cannoneers held their flame-lit sticks to their respective barrels.
There was a tremendous echo of booming sounds.
It was loud enough to drown out the shouts and sounds of footsteps and even induce screams from the Federation side.
A few moments later, it all changed into agonizing dying cries.
The rain of iron balls mercilessly crush the Imperial soldiers into clumps of meat.
The ones who were hit directly were blown to pieces, while the ones who were showered with the shrapnel and debris were torn to shreds.
A few hundred people died without even knowing they died, and several times more people died after suffering extreme pain.
It was literally like hell on earth.
「How terrifying…… who would have thought a single volley from all the cannons would deal this much damage……」
「What’s regrettable is that we couldn’t show this to those blockheads in White City, or they might have cracked.」
There was a stillness after the cannons fired as this scene of destruction was being processed, which could break the morale of more soldiers than the number of casualties.
The war cries from the Imperial army were silenced and the soldiers started to turn back one after the other.
What they found was the group of Imperial army cannons which stopped before the frontlines.
「Impossible! Are they barbarians…… no, have they gone insane!?」
The Imperial army resumed their charge.
They advanced forward, trampling over the remains of their allies.
「The interval between shots for the cannoneers is long, archers should fire away ceaselessly. Spearmen, stay in defensive formation!」
In the blink of an eye, the sky was filled with arrows.
The cannons which were already prepared were also shot and a similar hellish scene was born.
The archers of the Imperial archers who could return fire didn’t have cavalry to quickly close the distance and so they were defeated one-sidedly.
The battlefield was turned into a scene from hell with only the corpses of the Imperial soldiers lining the ground, but still their legs don’t let up.
They continue shouting and charging earnestly, trying their hardest to close the distance.
「……Your Excellency, the enemy appears to be concentrating its forces on the 10 000 men of our third corps in front.」
「Doing something so abnormal…… it makes them just like a beast, no!?」
The Federation is 800 000 strong, but they won’t do something as foolish as lining all their units in a line.
Only two corps consisting of 200 000 are deployed in the front and it looks like the enemy is focusing its attacks to one side.
It seems a bit premature from the Empire’s viewpoint of this standoff to break formation in order to be rescued.
In the past, the Empire never fought in a way which respected their soldiers’ lives, rather they would often bulldoze their way by taking full advantage of numerical superiority.
Despite that, they still wouldn’t fight in such an outrageous way though.
「In any case, it doesn’t change what we have to do. We will use our cannons and arrows to confound them. Right now, they’re just excited by the moment. Once they suffer a few casualties, they should return to their senses…… when that happens, the number of fleeing soldiers should increase.」
Galchenko speaks powerfully as if trying to persuade himself.
At the same time, the clank from the clashing of metal echoed out.
Both armies finally collided with each other.
In the beginning of the fierce fighting, the strange pressure coming from the middle pushed into the left and right wings of the Federation.
「The enemy is just trying to push through. Pull back while fending them off!」
Even so, the on-site commanders of the Federation don’t panic.
The Federation army maintains their order while counterattacking the Imperial soldiers who swing their weapons around madly.
「Third company retreat! Bowgun squad, shoot through the gaps! Second archer unit, use high-angle fire to disrupt the enemy rearguard.」
「Second company, stand your ground and don’t let the formation crumble!」
The Imperial soldiers push forward like a flood while the Federation army obstructs the path like a giant boulder.
After retreating to a certain extent, the momentum let up and eventually they stopped moving.
「Move forward! They don’t have shields or armor!」
Compared to the beautiful yet functional armor of the Federation, the Imperial army soldiers mainly wore shabby chainmail and some among those even wore dirty leather armor.
The Imperial soldiers wielded a wide range of weapons from swords to maces, but most of them didn’t have shields.
「Treat this like driving barbarians away! Thrust!」
The spearmen were able to realign themselves despite the confusion and then push the tips of their weapons outward altogether.
The sharp spearheads hit in places besides the face and the gaps in their armor, but the crude armor could not completely block the attack and Imperial soldiers start falling over one after the other.
The frightened enemy soldiers pull back after seeing the forest of spears jut out in front of them, only to get picked off mercilessly by bowgun bolts.
「Close the distance! Unless you make it a close-combat fight, your swords won’t reach them!」
Obeying the commanding shouts of the Imperial commanders, the soldiers reduce the gap between them and the Federation army, but defenses have already been erected.
Before the Imperial soldiers could reach their desired destination, bowguns and spears take them out, and furthermore, a completely armed heavy infantry walled off their paths.
「Damnit! Take this, bastard!」
「First Corps Heavy Infantry, advance! Push back the enemy.」
The attacks of the Imperial troops could not get past the armor or the hardened defenses of the Federation’s heavy infantry.
On the other hand, the Federation ignores the shabby equipment of the Imperial soldiers and successively defeat soldier after soldier using spears, swords and bowguns.
Nearly ten Imperial soldiers were defeated for every Federation soldier defeated.
The flow of battle has completely changed from what it started off as and now the Federation is fighting with an advantage in all fronts.
「Stay calm! The enemy is just shouting for show. There’s no need to fear!」
This time, battle cries were raised from the Federation side and the soldiers on the right wing start mounting a furious counterattack.
Now that the initial impact from the Empire side is gone, the Federation comes out on top in terms of skill level and equipment quality.
Even the Empire’s numerical advantage was wasted when many soldiers were kept idle after their battle ranks become clumped into a ball, making the actual number of soldiers fighting the same amount as the Federation.
The left wing of the Empire could not hold the Federation off any longer and began to be pushed back, eventually returning even further behind the point where the two sides initially collided.
Both the central part and right wing were shaken and retreated while keeping pace with the left.
「Hmph, war is not something you can win if you act rashly. Cavalry squad, detour around them. Archers, don’t let the enemy rearguard rest and continue shooting.」
Galchenko was watching the state of battle and sensed the destruction of this enemy to be quite soon.
Once the legs of a charging wild boar are stopped, there is no way it could win against a lion.
The detouring cavalry eventually made their way around to threaten the enemy flank and with that, the Empire army’s fate was sealed.
「The enemy’s left wing has collapsed!!」
A lookout from the top of a watchtower screamed.
The right wing, or the Empire’s left wing, was the side which pushed the most, so it was expected that the Empire would collapse there and the soldiers would start fleeing.
In this situation, tearing off one wing meant the collapse of the entire division.
A portion of the frontline troops have already transitioned into chasing after the stragglers.
「Pursue them! We should at least ensure the destruction of their vanguard!」
A Federation soldier makes a deep slash in the back of an escaping Imperial soldier.
The soldier froze instinctively after hearing the high-pitched squeal.
When the Imperial soldier fell to the ground with a hand against their bloodied back, a darkish skin and black hair was revealed underneath their loosened helmet.
「A woman, huh…… gugh!」
A sword was thrust into the side of the standing soldier, and he joined the fallen woman on the ground, collapsing motionlessly beside her.
「There are still guys holding their ground! Run them down!」
The left wing of the Empire completely collapsed and were gradually scattering in different directions.
And then, a thunderous sound erupted.
It was the unmistakable sound of cannon fire.
「Impossible! Who’s the idiot who fired a cannon during this melee!!」
One of the staff officers yell loudly.
It was no longer a situation suitable for cannons now that both ally and enemy are engaged in close-combat fighting.
The lookout makes a report to deny their first assumption.
「It’s the enemy…… the enemy cannoneers…… the enemy cannoneers on the left wing……?」
「Huh? An accidental misfiring!?」
「Considering this enemy, that’s possible……?」
However, the lookout replies differently.
「That’s not it! The Imperial army is…… shooting at their allies…… at their fleeing allies!」
「No way…… shooting…… their allies……?」
Galchenko and his staff officers were rendered speechless.
They could not follow the logic behind intentionally firing at friendlies.
「The enemy, the left wing…… the fleeing has stopped. They’re heading towards us once again.」
Galchenko shakes his head as if he couldn’t believe what was happening.
It wasn’t a look of confusion which appeared on his face, but rather a look of anger, coming from the pride he has as a veteran soldier who protected his country for many years.
Allies were allies even if they were just privates. He understood there were times where tactics required the use of sacrificial pawns and he also understood there were times where soldiers fought knowing they would be annihilated.
But he never once intentionally shot at his own allies.
For a soldier, that is an absolute taboo.
「So this is why their cannons didn’t come out in the beginning…… so they were aiming at their own allies from the start!?」
The right wing of the Federation army thought it had won already but had to take the full force of the revived momentum from the crazed charge and started retreating again.
「Movement spotted in the enemy headquarters! A new squadron is deploying…… their equipment and formation are different!」
Galchenko hops on his horse and shouts.
「That squad just now was a sacrificial pawn! The enemy’s main army is coming, don’t lose to these fiendish tactics, you hear!! Show them the pride of the Federation!」
His cry extended to all the soldiers and cleared them of any confusion and bewilderment.
The reserve squadron of the main army of the Federation was deployed in preparation for the new enemy.
The battle is about to reach its climax.
Garland Imperial Army, Headquarters
「The 200 000 slave soldiers are slowly being pushing back.」
Zaphnes watches the complexion of the man kneeling in front of him and laughs after hearing the report.
「So it seems. I didn’t think the military slaves would be able to defeat them anyways.」
Seeing a slight feeling of relief wash over his subordinate’s face, he gave out a grand order which matched his large body.
「Have the slave soldiers continue attacking! Make them fight until the last man falls over!」
Military slaves is the name of the soldiers who were drafted from Empire’s subjects.
However, they weren’t just the Empire’s subjects, since those who remain under the control of the Empire are considered subjects and will be treated as human as long as they listen obediently.
The drafted soldiers would make up an army under the Empire’s subject army and accept being used by the national army, but they also get the chance to earn rewards or promotions depending on their achievements in battle.
The military slaves are the ones who resisted against the Empire until the very end, the fate of those who wielded power and were crushed.
They would make up an army without any specific formation or composition, relying only on numbers to fight the enemy.
Naturally, it would result in tremendous casualties, but that didn’t matter at all.
They weren’t considered soldiers. Rather, they existed as sacrificial pawns to be thrown at the enemy.
Of course, they aren’t allowed to just fight, a squad of barrier troops dispatched from the country or made up of the Empire’s subjects would stand in the rear, keeping a watchful eye and attacking if any slaves who disobeyed orders or tried to escape.
「You slaves. Think of this as an opportunity for you lowlifes and your families to become human!」
The slaves were treated harshly and forced to live a hard life by the ruling class during wartimes and peaceful times.
The heavy taxes and poor land conditions could not compare to the Empire’s subjects and the high-handed treatment by the guards and feudal lords were also tolerated.
The only way to free oneself from that position was to become a military slave, fight, and survive.
The slave soldiers were treated as sacrificial pawns but after fighting and surviving two battles, the person in question and their family will be treated as regular subjects of the Empire.
However, if they ran away or revolted, their entire family would be massacred or sold as slaves where even greater misfortunes await them.
The roars of the cannons resound and the slave soldiers who were fleeing once again rushed towards the Federation’s battle lines.
Zaphnes looked down from the tall watchtower and nodded, seemingly satisfied with what he saw.
「Umu, those Federation guys are preoccupied with the slave soldiers.」
「Chief Commander, but the overall battle has pretty much been decided. They won’t hold out for longer than half an hour.」
「I know that. How are the squads sent to the sea and mountains doing?」
「It looks like the Federation also dispatched squads. They’re each engaging the enemy and the victor has not been determined yet.」
Zaphnes grins slightly and exhales.
「I’m sure it won’t be simple to defeat them. The Federation is tough when they’re on the defensive, so it looks like our only option is to breakthrough the middle.」
「Yeah, wait until the slave soldiers are on the verge of being wiped out, then deploy the second to sixth army corps. Order Steshina’s seventh army corps to assist and attack as the opportunity arises…… the Federation’s cannons are more powerful than ours, bring the battle to a close-combat fight immediately.」
With just that one command, Zaphnes was able to make close to 1 million soldiers squirm around and change formation.
These soldiers are wearing impressive armor and polished weapons and shields…… their equipments are completely different to those of the military slaves, in other words this is the true Imperial army.
「Adjutant…… it’s about time. The expansion of the subjects is a fixed match with a predetermined outcome…… it’s time to fight for real now.」
Everything was meant for this very moment, from the humiliating retreat earlier to this army’s continued reinforcement on the Emperor’s orders.
Their once inferior skill is higher and their equipment are in order.
Ruling over some small countries was just some extra entertainment, everything was aimed at shooting down the Olga Federation.
「Yes, when we win this battle and then mount an attack on White City, the name of Your Excellency the great Zaphnes will be carved into history.」
「When that happens, I’ll speak of the excellent adjutant in my autobiography.」
Zaphnes laughs, then glares at the enemy camp.
The battle has spread from end to end across the horizon.
Being the Supreme Commander, this is the most he can do in terms of leading, all that’s left is to rely on the various generals to complete their duties.
「Fufufu, with that said though, it’s not like the outcome of battle has any significance…… right, Sekrit?」
Zaphnes mumbles the name of his comrade while looking to the west where the sea is.
A large part of the 200 000 military slaves were taken out so the rest completely collapsed, unable to function as a proper unit. Right when the Federation soldiers were about to raise shouts of joy, the sight of five army corps, roughly one million in number, entered all of their eyes.
Even so, the soldiers did not show their agitation of having to enter another battle after just winning one, only focusing on rearranging their battle ranks.
「Their lines are immaculate. They are in lockstep as well. These guys are completely different from the ones we just fought!」
「So these are the rumored slave soldiers…… don’t think these next opponents are together with the others, they’re tough!」
The large cannons slowly change their angle of fire.
「So they’re putting cavalry against us, they must want to rush in before we can get off a decent shot.」
「We showed them our cannons earlier after all.」
Galchenko sighs, realizing the first group sent to fight them was just to test the waters.
But the cannons have not lost their value yet.
The cannoneers were given the order to fire freely, so the large cannons blew smoke and fire every time the command was given, sending the heavy iron balls at the enemy.
The archers also followed suit and rained their arrows at the enemy.
After several dozen shots made mincemeat of human and horse, the Imperial army’s formation opened up.
The cavalry instantly disperse in a wide area to minimize the damage done by the cannons.
「……So we can’t expect them to be foolhardy. They came up with a solid plan.」
With the enemy spread out so much, the cannons won’t be as effective.
In fact, with cavalry as vanguards, they will probably make contact with the ally vanguards before two or three shots can be fired.
「But…… we already knew this would happen.」
Galchenko, his adjutant, and the staff officers in the headquarters all grinned.
The point where all their eyes met were at the fiercely firing stationary cannons and the yet-to-fire 500 field cannons, despite the target being in range, glaring at the enemy.
「The enemy is approaching!」
「Fufufu, the generals are quite aware as well. As expected of the Federation’s commanders.」
Garland’s cavalry increases their speed further.
The deployed cavalry shouldn’t be able to breakthrough the Federation’s defensive formation.
But if they get close and the battle turns into a melee, the cannons won’t be able to get a clear shot.
That’s when the infantry will push forward and use numbers to overwhelm.
Eventually, Garland’s cavalry draw their swords, making the final charge while shouting.
At the last possible moment, the Federation’s field cannons fired at extremely close range.
It was practically right when the tip of the enemy’s noses were touching, a distance where you would think a cannon is almost useless.
But what occurred was a windstorm of death. The Imperial cavalry exploded, spraying blood and guts of both horse and rider everywhere before falling to the ground.
What came out of the field cannons was not an iron ball.
Packed inside the barrel of the cannon were countless small iron bead-like objects, which became scattershot projectiles.
It might not be the most powerful and its range is quite short, but there is no escape when it is shot at you.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a giant iron orb that destroys the person’s upper body or small iron pellets that split open the person’s head, the result is the same.
「W-what was that!? What happened just now!?」
「A cannon!? No cannonballs shot out though!」
「Whatever it was, just focus on reforming the line, then charge at them again……」
Neither Galchenko nor his generals were senile enough to allow the confused Imperial troops to do that.
「Crush them!!」「Now’s the perfect chance!」
The Federation’s cavalry jump through the gaps in the battle ranks and counterattack the Imperial cavalry who were stopped in mid-attack.
Things became chaotic and the Federation cavalry broke past the Imperial cavalry to rush towards the Imperial infantry approaching from the rear as well.
「Why are the enemy cavalry coming to attack us!?」
「What happened to the vanguard!? Where are our cavalry!?」
「With all that dust, I can’t see in front……」
Because the Imperial cavalry were rushing forward so ferociously, a cloud of dust was kicked up behind them, meaning the infantry advancing behind them don’t have a clear view of what’s in front of them.
It was then that the white armor of the Federation’s cavalry burst into view, accompanied by the sounding of trumpets.
「Anti-cavalry formation! Hurry it up!」
「W-we won’t make it in time…… uwah-!!」
The soldiers fall into a state of panic as they rush in looking to attack only to take the full force of the enemy’s counterattack without being able to respond accordingly.
The spears and bowguns from atop the horses take out the flustered Imperial soldiers one after the other.
This battle became just like the battle with the slave soldiers, a one-sided affair.
「We’ve dug into the enemy camp. We should continue and-……」
「No! Change course and repeat the charge after pulling back!」
However, the furious efforts by the cavalry does not decide the battle.
The Empire committed just five army corps in this attack, each with several hundred thousand men.
Because of the Empire’s deep pockets though, their army isn’t so soft that losing ten thousand cavalry here and there would immediately determine the outcome of the battle.
The portion of Federation cavalry which forcefully cut into the Empire’s camp was quickly surrounded and wiped out.
「We’re lacking the clinching factor…… the Imperial cavalry in the rear should be recovering from all the confusion soon as well. We should probably withdraw before we get pincered.」
The commander of the cavalry makes a swift decision and each of the other commanders halts the charge.
At that moment, shouting could be heard from the rear
「What is that?」
「Enemy cavalry…… annihilated! They’re allies! The entire allied army corps is approaching!」
After the eyes of the cavalry commander goes wide, he smiles fearlessly.
「The fight has just begun…… His Excellency Galchenko is a brave individual and will probably put energy into winning the battle. When he does, it’ll be a different story.」
The cavalry squad stops retreating and makes a move towards the enemy’s flank instead.
Everyone in the Federation army from the commanders to the privates could feel it through their skin – this is the decisive moment.
「Your Excellency Galchenko! It’s do-or-die now!」
「I know. ……I won’t say too much. Relay a message to the generals, tell them to do an all-out attack.」
Things are going better than expected, from demolishing the enemy charge with cannons to the strategy of breaking through their cavalry, not just due to the enemy cavalry’s defeat, but also because of the surprise attack which disrupted the enemy rearguard as well.
It’s only been half a day since the battle started but there is no better situation or timing than this for an all-out attack.
No matter how densely packed a large army consisting of close to one million troops may be, it still takes considerable time to coordinate movement and communicate with each other.
That is where the difference in the degree of skill will show the clearest.
Both an all-out attack and the defense to deal with that all-out attack requires the movement of many parts within the entire army.
「The Imperial soldiers seem to be better trained than before…… but the quality of our soldiers still seem higher.」
「Of course. We are the strongest in the continent after all.」
After completing their preparations, the entire Federation army advances in their respective corps, approaching the one million troops of the Empire who were shaken up by the cavalry.
The battles happening at the same time in the vast area is extremely fierce, but the Federation eventually pushes up the battlefront slowly.
The Empire still has nearly a million soldiers in reserve, but throwing them in the fray as a practical joke would have no meaning if they’re just going to end up confused.
If several million soldiers were to be used, complicated orders would not work, rather it would be best to let the smaller unit commanders use their discretion, however the Federation remains in the lead when it comes to the quality of commanders.
The battle went through the day and night and continued for several days, where the Federation was able to advance the fight in their favor from the effects of their all-out attack for the first two days.
None of the Imperial armies completely collapsed, but they were forced to stay on the defensive despite being the invading side and were slowly getting pushed back.
The state of battle changed on the morning of the third day, when the most elite forces of the Empire’s national army, the first army corps, entered the frontlines.
The 200 000 troops of the first army corps were able to compete with the Federation in terms of equipment and skill, properly supporting the battle ranks.
With the fight brought to a standstill, the Empire was able to calm down and regroup.
When that happened, the difference in troop strength became evident.
The battle went from being in a stalemate to the Empire having the advantage, and the Federation became the side who had to retreat.
On the fourth day, the Federation acknowledged their disadvantage and fought with the intention to retreat.
However, they did not just run in panic.
The Empire’s greatest weapon was their enormous pool of troops, but their weakness was also in their massive army, as the problem of resupplying their forces became quite clear.
Thus, the Federation army decided to fight and pull back while waiting for the Empire to exhaust themselves.
As the Federation moved backwards, they only had to retrieve the remaining supplies at each base they passed, leaving nothing for the Imperial army.
In the past, the Western Plains was the stage for many battles and so there were no large cities or grain-producing regions nearby at all, meaning not too many supplies could be procured.
The Federation never lost their composure while fighting, inching backwards slowly like a turtle for three days.
It was the morning of the seventh day when a fatal report came in.
「Then, let’s begin the war council.」
「Umu…… everyone, you have done well.」
Galchenko looks around to the generals he gathered and nods.
「The number of arrows coming from the enemy have decreased. If we continue at this rate, the enemy will exhaust itself in probably two or three more days. We just need to endure for a little longer.」
「Yessir! However Your Excellency, the enemy was more powerful than we thought.」
Galchenko nods reluctantly.
「Yes. Especially the enemy’s army in red……」
「According to reports from our spies, that is apparently the enemy’s most elite group, the first division army corps.」
One of the corps commanders mutters in an annoyed tone.
「80% of the casualties suffered by army was because of them. I thought we did plenty to stop their charge too……」
「You said it, it surely was outside our expectations for them to have hundreds of magic users on their side. However, if we don’t think about them being magicians or whatever, it isn’t any different from them having a cannon or two. They won’t catch us off-guard again.」
Galchenko looks at everybody and then raises his voice.
「We have fought hard because of unexpected events, but the path to victory is laid out before us. What awaits us is only a battle of attrition, counterattack when the enemy shows any sign of fatigue! This slow retreat is nothing. If this lasts a month, we will still be in the north of the Western Plains. We just have to fight them slowly.」
The generals also agreed and even felt relaxed enough to smile a little.
「But if we don’t hurry, won’t the navy cross before we do? If the navy bombards the enemy capital and makes them surrender, it will make us look like complete buffoons.」
「That’s exactly right. I do hope that the Great Emperor of Garland is a brave man.」
Everyone’s small grin turned into genuine smiles.
And then, a soldier comes running to them while shouting.
One of the generals yelled at him for doing something so sudden.
「You bastard! Only generals and above can enter this place……」
「Urgent message! From Dolpies!」
The messenger disregards the remark directed at him and continues on, since he has a duty to report directly to the Supreme Commander regardless of time and place when the message is urgent.
「Dolpies……?」「Aah, it’s the city designated as the home port for the marine fleet …… what about it?」
The messenger took two deep breaths to calm himself down before speaking out again.
「The report from Dolpies Marine Fleet Headquarters is as follows! Five days ago, the fleet suffered serious losses from the fight with the Garland fleet and retreated to the harbor in the north. The control of the open seas of the Western Plains has fallen into enemy hands. The supply route via the sea has been completely stopped and the enemy fleet is unloading troops to the north of the Western Plains! It’s possible for the western theater to be surrounded! Please retreat at once, I repeat!」
Nobody in the headquarters right now could say anything.
The generals who were about to sit on their chairs remain frozen in an unsteady half-risen position as well.
「The navy…… was defeated…… how did they lose…… how badly did they lose!?」
Galchenko grabs the soldier.
「I-I don’t know anything besides what I’ve been told to report!」
Galchenko loosens his grip and lets the man go.
Of course, there’s no way the messenger is knowledgeable about anything else.
「Wait for further news. With something like this, it should be suspected as a conspiracy as long as there is just one message.」
But the generals’ faces become pale, and even Galchenko had the same complexion despite being the person who just finished speaking.
They all knew very well that their communication network was not that shoddy.
As long as the messenger was real, then the report would also be real.
This is something that would affect the entire battle and quite possibly the entire nation.
The capable and decisive Galchenko did not know what action to take.
「For now…… just for now. Have the soldiers prepare to move out. Don’t forget the other detachments, and then dispatch scouts to the northern coast, as many as you can.」
「As you wish, Your Excellency. Then I will immediately prepare for evacuation!」
No one pointed out the error of mistaking ‘move out’ for ‘retreat’.
There wasn’t any point in differentiating between the two.
The follow-up news which arrived later that night announced even more disappointing truths.
「20 battleships and 200 large class combat ships!? They lost that much at one time? What on earth happened!?」
The messenger shakes his head to indicate he doesn’t know.
「They said the marine fleet will temporarily evacuate to the north and reinforce their battle strength……」
「Reinforce!? Rebuild, right!? Losing that many ships means the marine fleet has been virtually wiped out……! The seas belong to the enemy now!」
Galchenko immediately summons his staff officers.
It’s in the middle of the night, but no idiot would sleep at a time like this.
「Gentlemen, I’m sorry to say that it has become impossible to continue the fight on the Western Plains.」
As long as the seas are controlled by the enemy, the Empire won’t be the only ones who will find it hard to resupply tomorrow, the entire western theater will be in trouble.
Not only that, the Empire is able to send their troops freely from the back.
「We will retreat…… and then meet the enemy in the Federation.」
All the staff officers are holding their heads in anguish.
Retreating means they will be letting foreign enemies invade the land of their long inviolable and sacred Olga Federation.
To a soldier, there is no greater disgrace or humiliation than that.
「Gentlemen, I understand your feelings. Even I…… feel like flipping this desk and setting this tent on fire. But this is something we have to do. The other one million Federation troops of the western theater is still in the middle of training and organizing themselves, and if we get annihilated here…… that would seal the fate of our motherland.」
Galchenko pulls a dagger from his hip and stabs it into the desk forcefully.
「Notify all the armies! Wake all the soldiers up, we will now be withdrawing to the north! Once the enemy finds out about this, they will put all their efforts in chasing us. We will pack the hard-to-move cannons with gunpowder and destroy them, and load as much baggage on the wagons and cavalry!」
Torches are lit here and there, illuminating the once pitch-black campgrounds and the soldiers quickly begin preparing to evacuate under the warm glow.
「Commander, sir! What exactly-…… are we going to run away with the enemy right in front of us?」
「I don’t get it either! This is an order from the Supreme Commander, there is no talking back!」
「B-but…… if we retreat any further, our nation-……」
「I told you to shut up!!」
The Galchenko-led army of the western theater was led to the north.
The Empire pursued ferociously as if waiting for this moment, and although the skilled commanders of the Federation fought like their lives depended on it, they suffered a significant amount of casualties, just barely avoiding complete annihilation.
In the series of battles, the Federation lost about 300 000 while the Empire lost about 500 000.
Most of the Empire’s casualties were the slave soldiers who were thrown away as sacrificial pawns, but even if they were excluded, it could be said that the Federation has fought well.
Still, it was the Federation’s defeat.
The battlefield will now shift to the territory within the Olga Federation…….
「Hurray for the feudal lord-sama’s marriage!」
「Hurray for the fourth, fifth, and sixth wife.」
「Hurray for big dicks!」
「Uuu, I don’t how to feel being called the sixth.」
「Ahaha…… I know what you mean.」
「I’m happy. We’re finally together. If Miti hadn’t brought it up, I don’t know what would have happened.」
I have Miti and Maria in each of my arms and Catherine clinging to my chest as I stand in the central plaza of the city.
Catherine is the former daughter of a rebel noble so it isn’t good for her to show her face now that that noble is dead.
That’s why I had her hide within my cloak so her face won’t be seen.
All the residents have gathered here for my marriage…… actually, they’re not.
Today is the final day of the harvest festival, so the people would come and crowd around the plaza even if I didn’t do anything.
Alcohol is also involved so the citizens are making my marriage into a big deal and celebrating it.
「Since it was rather sudden, this will just be the announcement. I’ll have the rings crafted later…… and let’s have a simple ceremony as well.」
The three of them tell me it isn’t particularly necessary, but I’m sure they actually really want it.
I can at least provide them with rings and exchange vows at a temple.
「Congratulations on your marriage~!」
「You have six wives now so it’s about time you control your urges…… kyaa!」
Celestina and Monica, who are still staying with us, also congratulate me.
Oops, not good, my hand just automatically reached into Monica’s panties.
「Geez, going around your new wives’ backs and grabbing another woman’s ass……」
「He’s so lewd that it actually makes me smile instead.」
Miti and Maria grin as they restrain my arms.
It looks like they’re a little angry.
「My bad, my bad, in that case why don’t I give you two plenty of loving today, enough that you won’t mind something like that.」
The girls blush.
Catherine is the only one panting so she must be thinking of something different.
「Alright then, I’ll be making love to my women now. All of you, enjoy the final day of the harvest festival.」
The people cheer and shout for joy.
「Amazing, three people at once.」
「Stupid, the feudal lord-sama is a great man who embraces twenty women at one time.」
「But the feudal lord-sama is incredible, right? Are those delicate girls going to be alright?」
「They’ve been with him all this time, no? They’ve probably been stretched out already, and their asses too probably.」
「I want the feudal lord-sama to fuck me until I break too. I’m sure it feels awesome.」
「I don’t think that’s something you want to say in front of me as your lover.」
I walk along with the girls around my arms while they say whatever they like about me.
Fufufu, I was surprised about the Federation’s defeat from the report this morning, but it won’t have any influence on me gobbling up some tasty women.
I’ll be making some serious love to my ladies for the entire day.
My dick is getting quite hard just from thinking about greeting my new wives.
Miti and Maria will probably faint a couple times.
Catherine might be able to keep up, but my sexual appetite has increased lately so I might get to see her begging me in tears.
I wonder if I should line the three of them up in a row.
Or maybe I should stack them on top of each other?
No, embracing one while the other two lick my balls and ass sounds good too.
「Fuhahahahaha! My dick got hard from just a dream!」
「Hooh, what kind of dream was it?」
「It was of course about women! Making love to your beloved women in whatever way you please…… that’s the dream of any man!」
「You like girls that much?」
「It goes without saying. Slamming your dick into a girl and then pouring your seed inside, that’s why men were born.」
「If you do that, they’ll get pregnant.」
「If they get pregnant, I’ll shelter them and love them. It isn’t a problem at all.」
「That includes the children of nobles…… and even the female students from the Royal Institution?」
「Of course. It’s hard to abandon the ripe instructors though. Both young and mature ladies are wonderful women.」
After saying all that, I realize I wasn’t talking with a voice inside my head.
Well, I wonder who this familiar voice belongs to.
「Thanks for enlightening me with your noble philosophy, I have many things I want to say to you too.」
It’s Erich, who I thought was in the capital.
I rub my eyes and look again, but Erich is still there.
Miti wipes my face with a handkerchief.
I look once more and it’s still Erich.
A vein is bulging on his head.
「Oh my, why have you come to my domain again?」
「You don’t know?」
I have no clue.
「It’s about the Royal Institution.」
「You want me to teach again? But there are people in my territory who need me……」
Erich’s remains expressionless as he squeezes out a loud voice.
「You idiot! I’m never making you an instructor again! I have something to talk to you about, so guide me to your mansion!」
It looks like he’s angry.
I wonder why, I did many things so I don’t know.
「I was thinking of making these three women my wives by having sex with them today though……」
I thought I heard something snap in Erich’s head.
「You fucking sex maniac! You’ve already impregnated ten or twenty students and that’s still not enough for you!? Just shut up and guide me!」
His tone reverted back to what it was in our mercenary days…… no, it’s even worse.
This might be the first time he abused me like this.
So he’s mad about what happened in the Royal Institution, it looks like I’m still okay with the other stuff.
Before I realized, Catherine already ran away.
Erich should not recognize her face anyways though.
I guess I have to postpone my baby-making when I get back home.
I’ll earnestly apologize to them and get home by tonight.
Making love under the moonlight doesn’t sound too bad either.
-Third Person POV-
Side Story: Rose Garden
The Former Queen Consort of Treia, Marceline and her three daughters live in a corner of the mansion and don’t venture outside very often.
Their definition of outside is the rose garden created for them directly beside the mansion, but it’s not like they’re under house arrest or anything.
In fact, the man who saved their lives have frequently invited them to eat with him or tour the city with him.
Marceline rejected many of those offers.
She didn’t particularly dislike him, rather it might seem cruel to treat a man who she and her daughters owe their lives to like this.
The problem was the swirling hostile intent from everybody else.
Plenty of former Treian citizens make up the population of Rafen.
To go even further back, they’re former citizens of Arkland before Treia occupied the land and made the people runaway from the severe rule.
Because of that course of events, many of them lost their families, friends and loved ones.
Their anger and resentment gets directed to the former Queen Consort Marceline and her three daughters.
If the master of the mansion did not go around controlling the undisguised hostility that leaks out from the servants, the four of them may have been crushed by it by now.
Not to mention they don’t know what kind of insults or abuse may come flying at them if they walk around the city.
Spending most of their lives under the shelter of the royal palace, Marceline didn’t think that she or her daughters could endure all of that.
With that said, it wasn’t unfortunate that they were brought to Rafen.
If the feudal lord did not take them under his custody, she and her daughters would be executed together with her husband.
He openly declared of his desire to make them his own women and used that as the reason for sheltering all four people.
The inevitable exchange of words was mostly with the master of the mansion.
The man made an effort to talk with Marceline and the others about various things.
Because she didn’t have others who she could talk to as carefreely as him, Marceline gradually became more dependent on the only man she could talk to.
「Just like he said when he took us in, his only objective is to obtain my daughters’ bodies…… or maybe not.」
If that was the case, he would have violated them on the first day.
Resisting would not be forgiven after all.
「I know he loves women though……」
It goes without saying that the man is a matchless womanizer.
She herself has witnessed countless occasions where he made love to his lovers and servants in a hidden area or an empty room, and he’s sheltering dozens of women to begin with.
「None of them seem to dislike him.」
The maid he pinned down in the storehouse, the town girl he violated while standing, the prostitutes he likely called to an empty room who moaned as he satisfied his urges – all of them happily rocked their hips.
She never saw him use his authority so he could rape them.
「He even wants me when I’m turning 46 this year, what is he thinking?」
The man makes frequent invitations until you become his.
He’ll kiss you for sure and grab your breasts or butt if you leave him an opening.
His soft petting touches get stronger and stronger until he finally dives into your underwear and fingers you.
「But if you say no…… well, just making a displeased face would get him to stop immediately.」
He would cease his advances and smile while apologizing, saying how he did it only because you were attractive.
Marceline is just about 46, and despite being at the age where she forgot about things like lust, she’s still a woman and being desired is not a bad feeling at all.
Lately, it’s taking longer and longer for her to tell him to stop.
The clincher was the fuss which happened yesterday.
「Getting a 44 year old woman pregnant…… Lord Hardlett is 23, so that woman is old enough to be his mother. He really went after a woman over 40 and injected his seed inside her……」
She slowly moved her hand to where her own womb was.
「44 and 46…… surely a 23 year old man would not see that as a huge difference. My womanliness hasn’t left me yet, plus I’m confident I look young for my age. Entertaining a young man is noth-…… ha! What am I saying!?」
Marceline shakes her head furiously.
Her heart was definitely wavering though.
Even her daughters, aside from the second daughter Bridget, are warming up to him.
The third daughter Felicie especially is seeing him as her sweetheart.
「If…… and only if, I didn’t resist as some sort of bad joke, what would happen then……」
Marceline’s body trembles at the thought.
In her delusions, that man’s burly muscular body would make her own body into a total mess.
The former Queen Consort stares into empty space with a slovenly expression on her face.
「Mother? What are doing?」
「B-Bridget!? N-no, this is nothing! I just zoned out a little bit!」
「Is that so? Well, I’m going to complain to the chef that the vegetables for today’s meal didn’t suit my tastes.」
The second daughter Bridget continues to conduct herself in the same way she did when she was still a princess.
In reality, she’s desperately trying to put up a tough exterior after the hostile gazes from the servants made her knees feel weak.
「Mom will go!」
「Eh? But mother, you don’t have to……」
「It’s fine, Bridget just sit here. It’s nice out today, so maybe you could bask in the sun or something.」
Marceline runs off, recollects herself by exhaling, then returns to her own room.
She excitedly takes off her usual underwear and puts on a more revealing pair.
「T-that person just announced his marriage today, what am I doing!?」
Marceline shakes her head again.
Protagonist: Aegir Hardlett. 23 years old. Autumn.
Status: Goldonia Kingdom Margrave. Great Feudal Lord of Eastern Area. King of the Mountains. Friend of the Dwarves. Friend of the King of Aless.
Citizens: 162,000. Major Cities – Rafen: 24,000. Lintbloom: 4000.
Family: Nonna (the beautiful Nonna), Carla (concubine), Mel (concubine), Miti (concubine), Maria (concubine), Catherine (concubine), Kuu (lover), Ruu (lover), Mireille (lover), Leah (lover), Casie (ghost), Rita (head maid), Yoguri (playwright), Pipi (lover), Alice (magical girl)
Sebastian (butler), Dorothea (lover, in the capital), Melissa (lover, leaving for the capital), Alma (leaving for the capital)
Children: Sue, Miu, Ekaterina, Amata, Anastasia (daughters); Antonio, Claude, Gilbard, Reiner, Bartolome (sons); Rose (foster daughter)
Subordinates: Celia (jealous adjutant), Gido (escort unit), Kroll (impotent), Irijina (commander), Luna (commander), Ruby
Myla (security officer), Polte (student director), Gretel (dog)
Leopolt (staff officer), Adolph (domestic affairs official), Tristan (strategist?)
Claire & Laurie (compiling a plan), Schwartz (lewd horse), Lilian (actress)
Mother – Marceline (charmed); Daughters – Stephanie (friendly), Bridget (tsun), Felicie (charmed) (taken into custody)
Army: 5300 men
Infantry: 3000, Cavalry: 900, Archers: 900, Bow Cavalry: 500
Security Unit: 100
Assets: 10 000 gold
Sexual Partners: 209, children who have been born: 46
- Nat: Haki