Vol. 13: Chapter 03: One Step at a Time

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Translated by Tianic, edited by Grammarly

The cruelty of wars never came without destruction. Any idiot who walked on the street of Lissandra will come to realize it.

The city was a hot mess: blueish smoke was rising after magic spells rampaged buildings; weapons and armors scattered; bloodstains squirted by god-knew the enemies or my soldiers.

“Boss, I like this Amart guy. When I got here, the city’s defense system was already sabotaged. The enemies I’ve been chasing were busy entering the city, so there’s a mess. Plus, my men have infiltrated one of the gates. All in all, he’s made our loss to a minimum.

“I trust you didn’t kill all of them. I had you informed.”

“Absolutely, I only attacked from 3 of the 4 directions. The last one was reserved for them to run.”

“How many managed to escape?”

“The ones we chased up here were about 30, 000, plus the part who flee from the city, the sun is about 40, 000.”

“Good, 40, 000 are enough to keep Luhrmann’s heart at his throat.” I told Wilder, “Now I have 2 jobs for you: A, send a team of riders to chase on as far as they can. Drive them to all nearby provinces.”

“What about B?”

“See that broken wall your people torn apart? I want it back in one piece. Bring all your senior officers to meet me this afternoon.”

Then I entered viceroy’s mansion that I grudgingly admitted it was ‘intact’.

I spent the rest of the morning with Carlos checking our trophies and planning the future plan.”

Ideas took form in my brain one by one, then one by one, I disproved them. I knew they were all very plausible ideas, but my logistics just cannot make any promises.

We have our first hot meal since the start of the war by noon.

As I received Fischer’s daily letter, I announced the senior officer meeting begin. All commanders and logistic leaders from 5 regiments, including Carlos and Wilder attended the meeting.

Since the warfare was currently going smoothly as planned, the general atmosphere was gentle. People gathered and sat along with waves of laughter and small jokes.

“Sir, all set.”

“Good, first I’m summarizing these’s days operations.” I stood and eyed around my subordinates, “Since the start of the war, our advancement is pretty fast. With the help of our underground power, we’ve taken Maple and Lissandra, almost at the same time, with very little effort. The two are crucial to our next strategic move.”

“In the meantime, cooperation is a little rusty, but none of them cause any major problems now.” Carlos took over the talk, “A detailed report is being read by Dark City’s officials as we speak.”

“The reason that you are here is to plan our next move. Only by unifying the commanders shall we aim the troops more clearly.” Said I, “What’s your ideas. How are we fighting the war next?”

“Sir, I think I ought to explain our troops’ deployment before we go any further.” After I nodded, Carlos continued, “Amongst all armed forces, 70, 000 are currently stationed in the 2 provinces we just took, they are from Legion No. 1 and 2. My staff members are on the way here. Legion No. 3 is 10 days away. However, the 3rd Legion’s main job is to guard the 2 provinces and to assist the defense of Dark City. It’s not to attack. Therefore, our only operation troops are the first and second legion and the troops under the staff members’ command, the total number is 90, 000.”

“Thank you, Carlos. Now, speak, people.” Said I.

“Why are we set our base here? We’ve been winning, we should keep the streak and apprehend more provinces.”

“I agree.” Another regiment leader said, “If we make it fast, Luhrmann’s reinforcement will not be there in time. It’s a good chance that we attack.”

I chuckled as I shared a look with Carlos.

“Yes, yes, we have good soldiers and high morale. We’ve defeated our enemies and it’s a good time to build on this.” I nodded, “But it is exactly the thing Luhrmann wants us to do.”

“Why?” Asked Wilder with a hint of doubt.

“I’d put it simply, we’d have all 120, 000 troops to attack if we only had Darkmoon and Dark City; but now we have 2 more, so only 90, 000 is left handy. Let me ask you, what if we grab more provinces? I doubt we’ll have enough to attack let alone manning the cities.” I explained patiently, “The more you take, the more you need to systemize the defense. And that’s not a good thing for us. Think what is Luhrmann doing now? He’s collecting his finest soldiers and waiting out till we have diluted the last of our soldiers. Then he attacks.”

“Sir, we could always not focus too much on defense work and concentrate on attacking.” An officer spoke, “We are very capable to punch all the way to Divine City.”

(Clearly he underestimated the enemies.)

“Your last opinion has a take as far as I see what weak enemies we’ve come across till now.” Said Carlos, “But pay attention, we haven’t made any contact with the enemy’s main forces. Maple City and Lissan City are indeed under Luhrmann’s trusted men, but he’s never paid much attention to them.”

“But why? Okay, in a military operation, losing a city might not bring too much effect to the general picture; but Luhrmann is a politician, he has to factor in the negative result of losing 2 provinces.”

“Only if the war is between 2 empires or 2 allies, losing will demoralize people. However, that’s not how we’re related to the rebels. They surpass us in many ways. Losing a city, not a big deal. I suspect their only objective is to disperse our forces and find the edge to attack. As long as they gain that goal, Luhrmann will be more than happy to losing more cities.”

“So what do we do now? We attack, we don’t attack? Waiting here will not give us more troops.”

“Who said we’re not gonna attack?” I grinned, “The waiting serves a purpose because another operation is undergoing as we speak.”

“And afterward we attack?”

“Positive, but pay attention to 2 things: A, we have to do our best to take the rebel alliance apart. Look at the map now, our initial success of taking 2 provinces have given nearby viceroys the chills. They’re on a scale now. Do your best to make them lean to us.”

Wilder asked, “what about B?”

“The supply.” Said I, “I agree to the opinion earlier he said we can punch our way to DC. But we’d all starve to death till the day we saw DC’s wall.”

“No way!” Only Wilder could talk to me like this.

“I’m not talking blank words here. I’ve thoroughly counted what we have including the gain during recent battles. The final result allows no room for optimism. Remember what we did to the enemy’s supply chains during the last P/A War? There’s a chance that Luhrmann’s army will do the same to us.”

Carlos’s comment supplied my conclusion, “If no new goods are arriving, we’ll never make it to DC alive.”

“What do we do now?”

“I will do my best to gain support from our neighborhood provinces. The viceroys are stuffed with food, weapons. Only in this way could I keep you all well-fed.”

“Isn’t that what His Majesty is doing?” A regiment leader worried, “If we abruptly make contact with neutral-standing viceroys, wouldn’t that bother His Majesty’s plan? Besides, no offense, boss, dealing with nobilities is a pain in the ass.”

“The king’s diplomatic outline is purely strategical that concerns Swabia’s fate and the holy temple. And our diplomatic objective is only tactical. We find the rich viceroys, say our offer, give them some pressure, gain their support. It shouldn’t be a big problem.”

“Will it be enough?”

“I’ve done the calculation. We’re not politicians. As long as our operation is uninterrupted, it’s enough.” I explained, “As I said, what seems strong is not steady. Whoever is funding the rebels will not forever babysitting them. All viceroys, excluding a few Luhrmann’s die-hard fans, are watching, balancing. And we’ve made it clear it’s not a wise choice to be against us. We’ve shown them with our army, now it’s time for something softer, something political.”

“So… is there anything we can do, politically?” The men shared looks, baffled.

“Sure there is. I will personally invite them into this city for negotiation. Your job is to make pressure, more pressure of any kind, even death, and slam it into their faces.” As I said, my palm made a crisp noise on the face of the table, then I realized the deck is made from stone by the pain that came, “Supporting me, your viceroy title is safe; those who refuse to take the ultimate reality and choose to defy me, terminate them.”

“Yes, sir.”

“If I were you, I’d go for constant harassment.” I told Carlos, “Consider the harassment as training. My head staff, I want an operational outline today before the ideas go cold.”

“Understood.” He nodded, “I’m sending the boys tonight.”

“Good, but have some boundaries. Last thing I want is to turn them into real enemies. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, sir.”

“That’ll be all, dismissed.”

I entered the inner chamber as Carlos followed.

“What’s your take on my idea earlier?” I poured water for us then lowered my voice.

“Commander, the way I see it, you were able to suppress your eagerness and stopped at capturing 2 provinces. That’s very wise. I doubt the rebels will anticipate it.” Carlos too lowered his voice.

“However, my intelligence showed the rebels are gathering troops. Will we be able to finish my plan before the day they are actually at our door.” I loosened my weapon, tossed it aside, recessed on a lounge, “I don’t know what to expect.”

Carlos remained silent on the other end of the lounge.

“Frankly, no one can expect next.” A good while later, he spoke, “Neither we, nor Luhrmann. Need I remind you, sir, he’s been getting all the bad news these days.”

“Combat-power-wise, we got the upper hand; we’re still seriously under-manned given that we have killed 100, 000 enemies.” I grew uncertain, “Have you read the papers from liaison? Huge amounts of goods and armies are pouring into DC from the border.”

“Huh, sir, admit that you’re afraid.”

“That word’s not in my book. I’ve seen too much blood and danger, not afraid. But what about my soldiers? Every decision comes out of my mouth will define the wound, death of a whole bunch of them. Mr. Head Staff, now, do you think my soldiers are willing to take all that?”

He respectfully stared at my face. Then he fetched a piece of document and started reading. However, I could swear to god he was pretending it.

“Boss, I can’t speak for others besides myself. Do you want to know how I perceive you as a commander?”

“Ok, but tell only the good part.”

“Before our epic first encounter, I have a bright expectation and thought that day could actually be the day all the dream come true. At the thought of that, I could feel my blood boils.” Ignoring me, Carlos just started, “Then I learned that His Majesty is making me serve the notorious hoodlum viceroy. I became sad and dreary. If only I could cry, I would.”

“Puff…” I can’t keep the water in my mouth.

“Then, boss, you slaughtered men in front of my face. The scene in which dozens of heads fell still haunts me at night.” The jest was gone from Carlos, “I marked you a man who has a thirst for blood.”

“I remember your pale face and panic. Were you pretending?” I replied, “Were you thinking I was an asshole?”

“I wasn’t pretending and you can’t stop me from thinking.” said sly Carlos.

“What followed was I learned your impressive ways of dealing with things. You dared to rob the MMS, what else you dare not.” Carlos stopped reading, “But I want you to know, boss, the soldiers like such a commander. They worship you, they think you’re the best leader on this continent.”

“What of it?” said I, “The best leader made mistakes.”

“The clay city battle took the worship to the highest point.”

“Come again?”

“I won’t repeat that. Now, indeed, Luhrmann has a massive amount of troops, goods.” Carlos said with his eyes contacting mine, “But he does not have soldiers’ respect, nor does he have an army that would die for him. Our prior victory is enough to shock the rebels and enough to affect Luhrmann’s judgment of the whole picture.”

“So to speak…” I grinned, “You’re very positive to go diplomatic during the war?”

“Of course. The only thing I feel pitiful is the early date of the king’s dancing party. I know many ladies will attend, and I’m a pretty good dancer.

“Uh-huh, you poor bachelor.” I stretched my body, eyes on the beautiful relief on the roof, “Luhrmann, I pray for you. Don’t die before I kill you.”

The next few days saw several rider squadrons march into the provinces adjoining Maple and Lissandra. Wherever those riders came, turmoil followed. They appeared in many places then reappeared near the viceroy’s mansion like ghosts. Local garrisons were useless to stop them.

I intended to only display my army’s power so I had strict order for the riders to not kill or rob or set any fire if there was no resistance.

I, on the other hand, wrote a letter to each nearby viceroy with sincerity and my own handwriting. It was an arduous work to be done, but if it meant that I could impress him.”

“Not enough, boss.” As I was drafting my letter, Carlos approached, “Add one more thing, all goods received from rebel leader Luhrmann are private properties, there is no need to turn in.”

“Is it really necessary? That’s a lot of money.” I said with agony.”

“Oh, my wise commander will earn back all that gold overnight. It’s just pocket money deposited in their places.”

“I’m not that kind of a commander.”

Several days, Legion No. 3 under Moya’s commander has arrived and taken over the defense job of both provinces. Moya’s army was the best of all at defending. From this moment, the defense line of the 4 provinces that belonged to me has wrapped as one. I could finally spare some time for other businesses.

The rest of the 90, 000 army were all stationed outside of the city and ready to mobilize. As for its operation destination and duration, they depended on how much supplies I had.

“Supply… supply… supply…” This was how I talked during sleep according to Malphite.

This chapter was originally published on Wuxianation, any despicable reposts or copies without proper citings are strictly prohibited.

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