Volume 7 Chapter 4 Part 2
A remarkably huge tent stood deeper into the encampment. It was labeled as Headquarters, and the Count was staying inside.
“Reporting! I have brought with me Lord Eld of the Royal Interim Special Knights.”
“Come in!” A booming voice came from inside the tent.
After hearing that, the soldier opened the tent and urged me to go inside. I walked in to find a muscular man standing there. On the desk was a single map and a sword. While the weapon showed signs of prolonged use, its blade had been carefully polished.
Apparently, this dude is Count Gaze.
“The Royal Interim Special Knights,” the man said. “The name does not ring a bell. What kind of an organization is it?”
“It’s a newly-established group for the war against the Empire. There aren’t a lot of members, but as far as the kingdom is concerned, we hold the same level of status as the regular order of knights.”
“A newly-established knight order, you say? I’m curious about your proficiency, but moving fast and early is a good thing. On the battlefield, a day’s difference can make or break the outcome. It’s better to be too early than to be in a hurry to make preparations after you run out of troops.”
Hmm. His words suggest that he’s not really a musclehead down to the bone. How do I put it? He sounded like your typical, competent commander.
“I can tell you’re quite skilled as well,” he added. “You seem to be lacking the muscles, but the way you move is a pass in my book. You don’t walk like someone from the military. Were you an adventurer or something similar?”
I can also get a vague idea of someone’s capabilities by studying their fighting stance, but I can’t tell that just by the way they walk. This is something that only an expert in martial arts can do.
“You can’t command troops in a battlefield if you don’t have discerning eyes like I do. Even the commander of this newly-established band of knights should be able to do it.”
“No, that’s impossible.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because I am the commander,” I said as I showed him the decree from the king.
The order states that a new organization of knights is to be formed with Eld as its leader.
“You’re the commander?” the man asked. “In that case, I retract my statement earlier. You’re not just quite skilled. If you were a private, you would be one of the best. But a commander has to have this.”
Count Gaze flexed his arms and muscles, showing his well-developed biceps. He’s got fine muscles, I’ll give him that. But yeah… he’s looking more and more like a musclehead now.
“Skill is important, but what counts most on the battlefield is strength, stamina, and guts. You also need experience. His Majesty installing a youngster like you as commander suggests he does not understand anything.” He looked a little dejected.
I think Steam Explosion is far more useful than muscles and guts in the battlefield, but I doubt he’d get it even if I explained it to him.
For now, I think it would be better to draw his attention to the king’s orders. From the tone of his voice, he seems to respect the king at least.
“Let’s set aside the whole muscle thing for now,” I said. “The reason I became a Commander is because of His Majesty the King’s order. You don’t intend to go against His Majesty’s orders, do you?”
“Of course not. It’s my duty as a citizen to obey His Majesty’s orders.”
Nice. I got his word. My fear that Count Gaze would go against the king’s orders was unfounded.
“I see. By the way, I met with His Majesty yesterday. He told me that he’s going to issue an order to give up on retaking Raijis. You should have already received it. Surely you’re not going to continue with your offensive, are you?”
The Count’s eye grew wide. He then turned to a soldier who looked like his aide. “Did you receive such an order?” he asked.
That’s weird. The king said yesterday before we parted ways that he would have the order delivered as fast as possible and that it should arrive around noon today. I wonder if the messenger assigned to deliver it got into an accident or something.
“His Majesty told me that the order should have arrived by noon today.”
“Hmm. Perhaps it was delivered to my residence. Unfortunately we’re away from home at the moment. It will take some time for any message to arrive here.”
Okay. I understand. Normally when you’re ordered to deliver a message to a nobleman, you’d head straight to his residence. It would be more efficient to just go directly to his base of military operations, but I suppose the messenger might not know exactly where they are.
“Is your place really that far away?” I asked.
“Yes, quite far. It’s about ten kilometers away. How many days would it take for a message to arrive here?”
Ten kilometers, huh? A trained soldier could cover that distance in less than an hour. There’s no way it would actually take days.
“Probably about a week, sir,” the aide answered.
“I figured as much,” the Count said, nodding with satisfaction. “It’s a long road, so tell them to go slow and watch their surroundings carefully.”
I see what they’re playing at. They’re deliberately delaying the arrival of the order so they won’t have to obey it.
“So there you have it,” the man said. “We have not received the orders just yet. We’re planning to launch an attack at midnight, so if we don’t receive any orders from His Majesty by then, we’ll proceed as planned.”
“So you’re going to make a move before the order arrives. Are you sure that’s all right? You know, as a knight and all.”
“Of course. Unless otherwise ordered, it is a knight’s duty to protect the people. His Majesty could issue an order to standby, but if we commenced operation before it arrived and emerged victorious anyway, he would be pleased. Of course, even if we did receive the order, there’s no guarantee I would follow it.”
Okay, that’s not what you said earlier. He literally just said that it’s a citizen’s duty to obey the king’s orders. I guess he’s just a plain old musclehead after all?