Translator: Kell | Editor: Ryunakama
“Now for the crucial part,” I muttered as I cast Magic Search to check the situation around me.
The encirclement by Cardinal Georgis’ army could no longer be called a circle at all. Mortal Arrow and other various long-range magic spells had torn holes in their formation. The assault and annihilation squad had destroyed almost every one of the soldiers. Half of the circle had already been wiped out, and the remaining half was also in tatters.
We had an overwhelming advantage right now. Cardinal Georgis had lost sixty to seventy percent of his initial troops. He had almost no firepower left.
So why did I assume the crucial part starts now? Sachylis gave the answer.
“The enemy’s main force has made a move,” she said.
“Roger that. Magic Search.”
After receiving Sachylis’ report, I activated Magic Search again.Then I saw a company of about a hundred people moving towards me from the enemy’s main camp—the place where Cardinal Georgis was stationed. It was the enemy’s trump card, their real main force.
“Assault squad, retreat immediately and return to the main camp!” I ordered through voice-amplification magic.
We already expected that the enemy would dispatch its main force once the tide of battle went one way. If possible, I wanted them to come after we reduced their numbers a little more. Not that they were still a threat at this point.
Now all we had to do was pull back the assault squad and fight the enemy’s main force. That was the strategy we came up with, at least. But the assault unit did not show signs of retreating anytime soon.
“I repeat! Assault and annihilation squad, fall back! Retreat at once!”
I repeated my order just in case they didn’t hear me the first time. But there was no response.
“They’re ignoring orders,” Sachylis said.
“Yeah,” I agreed. “Deliberately as well.”
It didn’t look like they lost control of themselves in the heat of the battle. In fact, they looked extremely composed. It was as if they decided to ignore my orders from the beginning.
“So it’s come to this.”
“It’s within expectations. I figured they wouldn’t listen to me.”
When we formed the unit, we were aware of the possibility that the assault squad would violate our orders. That didn’t mean we could do anything about it, though. I just hoped they would realize their mistakes and try to get as many people out as possible.
“I can see them now,” I muttered to myself as I gazed into the distance. There was a unit of about a hundred people, including Cardinal Georgis himself.
Nobles don’t usually go to the front lines. The war would end if he died, after all. Nevertheless Cardinal Georgis charged into battle on his own.
The soldiers who surrounded the cardinal were no ordinary soldiers as well. They were probably reinforcements dispatched by the Garden of Despair. In terms of individual strength, they would be inferior to Cardinal Georgis’s army, but they were not an opponent that we could win against using the anti-group tactics that Count Meigis’s army had learned.
At this rate, the assault squad would end up clashing with them on their own. I did not think our guys could win. The reason why the troops were not pulling back despite this was because Cardinal Georgis himself led the enemy’s main force, the man they detested the most.
We pretty much already won this war. Losing more people at this point would be really unfortunate.
“Sachylis, give me the squad leader.”
I asked the Spirit Archer to put me through to the assault squad’s commanding officer.
“I told you to retreat. Are you going to ignore my orders?”
‘I’m sorry, Eld. But we want to take that guy down by our own hands. I’d rather die than retreat without a fight when Cardinal Georgis in front of me.”
I wouldn’t have minded if their insistence to fight would affect the outcome of the battle. But the assault squad had already fulfilled its role. Even if the unit was wiped out, our victory was still sure. If anyone wanted to die, then so be it. I wouldn’t stop them.
But if there were people in the unit who wanted to live, we couldn’t just ignore them. We gave them the most dangerous task of all, charging straight to the enemy front lines, but under the assumption that they would come back alive.
They had done their part. Anyone who wanted to get out alive earned the right to survive.
“Did every member of the squad agree to this?” I asked.
“Yes. The entire squad agreed last night. We left our wills at the station.”
The reply came back quickly. Apparently the violation of the order was already planned beforehand.
“What should we do?” Sachylis asked with a grim look.
Although we already considered the possibility of them ignoring orders, it was understandable to be perplexed when you actually saw them holding their ground. Making decisions in this kind of situation was exactly the commander’s job. That is to say, mine.
“We follow the plan,” I said. “I will kill Cardinal Georgis.”
Killing Cardinal Georgis when I infiltrated his domain would just be an illegal assassination. But if I killed him when he charged to the front lines of war, I would not be charged of any crime. Now was the perfect time to kill the Cardinal legally.
The assault squad might get dragged into the mess if we proceeded to carry out our strategy as planned. But that didn’t mean I would just discard our operation. They ignored orders fully knowing all this.
“Then, the assault and annihilation squad—”
“We abandon them. Unless they show signs of wanting to retreat.”
There was a way to force the troops to retreat, but they had already made up their minds. They wished to stand there and fight their sworn enemy. It would be cruel to stop them, even though we only wanted to save them.
“I understand.” Biting her lip, Sachylis acknowledged my order.
Some of her acquaintances were in the squad. She probably found the idea of abandoning them mortifying.
“Start making preparations.”