Took me hours to modify this, I really suck at photoshop.
If you’re interested in having the information in a “text” format for some reason, let me know in the comments.
Anyway, here is the chapter, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
In order to defeat the rebellious marquis of Strasbourg, the kingdom mobilized 12.000 soldiers led by Albert’s former right arm, marquis Lagrange.
It was exceptionally large for an army that wasn’t part of the kingdom’s main forces.
In contrast, Albert’s army was composed of 6000 regular soldiers and 2000 mercenaries, totaling a force of 8000.
Although this difference was not sufficient to abide by the 3:1 rule, which stated the attacker’s forces should be at least thrice larger than the enemy’s to clench victory, Lagrange believed that the psychological pressure the enemy’s men would suffer from serving a rebel would be sufficient to bring Albert down.
【”――I guess you really are done for, Albert.”】
Normally, Albert would have been able to gather more than 10.000 men by assembling his own forces’ with the ones that belonged to his relatives. The fact that he had only managed to bring 6000 of them showed that his relatives had given up on him.
While he was a man who once had a strong presence in the royal court, he had no achievements to speak of when it came to war.
Betting the whole family’s fate on him would have been too risky.
How did he become so foolish that he didn’t realize this would happen? …Is this what they mean when they say that poverty dulls the wit?
【”No matter. If this means he’ll be the cornerstone to my glory, then so be it.”】
Lagrange himself only had 4000 men, which was less than what Albert had, but was still sufficient for his army to be deemed as an exceptional force.
Moreover, Count Crusoe had brought 1000 soldiers, the Baron of Villepin had brought 500, and Lagrange had brought an additional 1,500 men from Count Reine and Count Fyon, who were nobles from his household.
Adding to this, they were joined by 5000 soldiers from the kingdom’s own army, led by general Leclerc.
Lecerc had a reputation for being a serious and honest man who defeated his enemies through his firmness and persistence.
The territory of Strasbourg was a fertile land with a high yearly yield. It made for a very appealing reward.
Many nobles furiously gnashed their teeth when they found out Lagrange would be taking the lead in its subjugation.
From the position of a shamed traitor, he had gone on to obtain the chance to realize his aspirations of honor and rewards.
This was not the feat of an ordinary man.
【”This is spectacular, sir marquis Lagrange.”】
Baron Villepin did not contain his excitement. This was the first time in his life he was seeing an army of more than 10,000 soldiers.
Though the menace that the Asgard empire represented was a hot topic, Jormungand had long taken a passive stance in regards to large conflicts.
This was the first time in decades that the kingdom had mobilized such a large force.
If there was one exception to be mentioned, it would the new year’s ceremonial parade.
【”Do not be negligent, sir Villepin. Not until we obtain victory, at least.”】
【”O-of course, I will give it my best for you!”】
The achievements in this battle would determine the rewards that would follow.
That being the case, Lagrange and Villepin naturally had no intent of going easy on the enemy.
The problem, however, was that they were too optimistic. They felt that victory was all but certain.
Their ambitions were drifting around in the relaxed atmosphere typical of those who did not consider defeat.
Unlike them, Leclerc was a professional, and their attitude got on his nerves.
【”They are taking the marquis of Strasbourg far too lightly…”】
Having taken part in many small territorial conflicts, Leclerc knew how difficult it was to do battle on enemy territory.
A geographical advantage by itself was sufficiently threatening to make the opponent worth of attention, especially if said opponent’s army was only 1.5 times smaller.
Taking all these points into account, Leclerc could not believe that the nobles dared to be convinced of their victory.
Then again, Leclerc’s careful personality was one of the reasons he was picked to join them in this operation. This was his role.
【”Do not let down your guard! Dispatch the scouts to reinforce the search!”】
Overconfident or not, having a large army with a high morale was not a bad thing.
As long as they did not allow the enemy to compensate for the difference with a surprise attack or to adopt a strategy that would divide their troops, the kingdom’s side would naturally have the advantage.
Even so, Leclerc felt like something was wrong. Albert’s side was ominously inactive. They had not even tried to do anything to disturb their attackers.
That being said, Leclerc could naturally think of a sound explanation for this silence from the enemy.
This would involve an extremely unexpected turn of events, but a possible one nonetheless.
Perhaps, a few months ago, when he first embarked on this path, Albert had not expected for the current situation. This could be the result of a series of miscalculations.
He had been abandoned by the relatives he had pinned his hopes on, and his soldiers’ reluctance in rebelling against their kingdom rendered their morale terribly low.
In those circumstances, if Albert let his army make a clumsy sortie, that moment would be their end.
No matter what, he had to obtain victory in this first confrontation.
And so, Albert found himself having to wait for the prefect opportunity, a chance that would guarantee his victory.
But it never came.
What did come in his wait was the enemy, who was reaching his castle.
This sort of comical psychological deadlock, while unlikely, was something that sometimes happened to cowardly commanders who were not ready to risk it all when faced with the uncertainties of war.
【”―― Your Excellency, if we do no come up with the strategy and get besieged, the morale of our troops will not last!”】
The man, who was in the latter half of his middle age, seemed to have an aura of cleverness and intelligence. He was snarling at his superior.
【”You think I don’t know that?! More importantly, we need a plan that will bring us a sure win!”】
Benedict was a talented man, whose skills had not escaped Albert’s eyes. This had granted him the position of the marquis’ strategist.
He shook his head to contain his inner rage.
【”There are not absolutes in battle. That is why I said again and again that we always need to have at least two or three contingency plans prepared, in case mistakes are made!”】
Benedict had suggested many tactics, including the preparation of a detached force to go around the enemy and launch a surprise attack, as well as adopting a scorched earth policy, burning the locals’ villages to prevent the enemy from gaining access to their resources.
The problem of these tactics was they would slightly decrease the forces of Albert’s castle each time, but the real reason Albert had refused the order was that he did not want to lower his reputation by sacrificing his own territory’s people.
This decision could be said to be due to the weaknesses of one who had no battle experience to speak of.
He was about to be subjugated by the kingdom, and yet he was worrying about post-war political matters. It was nonsense.
Only the side that had a winning strategy could afford to worry about such details.
【”Under the circumstances, we have no choice but to gather the most loyal soldiers and go for an all-or-nothing sortie when an opportunity presents itself.”】
【”Is there nothing else we can do? That giant barbarian pushed back an Asgardian army on his own, didn’t he?!”】
【”Please do not compare me with that monster!”】
These were very misplaced expectations. This was basically asking Benedict to suddenly become a one-man-army.
If that monster could be compared to someone out there, Benedict was not it.
【”It’s too late. We cannot afford not to take risks anymore.”】
Albert frowned and nodded at Benedict with great reluctance. That was because he understood that opposing Benedict’s views at this point would only be detrimental to himself.
【”Listen, I will not allow a loss here. We better win this!”】
Albert yelled with a voice that did not leave any room for discussion.
【”Understood. After all, if we lose here, I wouldn’t know what I’ve worked for all this time.”】
In the past, Benedict could have obtained a notable position within the kingdom’s army if he so wished, and yet he had rejected the fame and glory, deciding to become Albert’s strategist instead.
That was because he was secretly in love with Felbell.
Felbell was Albert’s wife, the first princess of Jormungand.
Benedict was aware of the difference in status between her and himself.
For that reason, he had never considered letting his feelings bear fruit.
He was content just being able to watch her from her side.
If he could be of the slightest use to she who would eventually reign as queen of the kingdom, he would be satisfied.
Benedict had been training Albert’s forces with that one, earnest desire.
Thanks to that, Strasbourg’s army became mighty enough to make a name for itself in the kingdom.
Benedict could never have imagined Albert’s eventual downfall and rebellion.
(If we lose here, then her highness Felbell will…)
Not only would Felbell suffer the disgrace of being a prisoner, but in the worst case scenario, she would be handed as a reward to the aristocrats participating in the subjugation of the territory.
Sticking to his lifetime of selfless devotion, Benedict could not let Felbell meet such a sad destiny.
(And that damned Albert… How come that incompetent and cowardly wretch ended up being her highness’ husband!)
Albert was just a powerless man who could not even give happiness to his own wife.
Benedict cursed the fate that had joined Albert and Felbell in marriage.