Chapter 153: Magrado War ⑤ Multiple Conspiracies
–Third Person POV–
Port Randel Encirclement, Magrado Camp
Inside a tent set up on top of a slightly elevated hill overlooking Port Randel, the commanders of the Magrado army who took part in the encirclement are yelling at each other in a so-called war conference.
「The enemy took advantage of the fog and close to 10,000 have already landed. The encirclement has already collapsed, so we should disperse and build a line of defence.」
Looking over the city of Port Randel with a sour expression, a ballista is mounted on top of a pile of stone made from the rubble of the crumbled city walls and archers are camped in the rooms of every house. It is clear that it is no longer possible to rely just on strength in numbers to win.
「What are you saying?! If we pull back, the enemy on the eastern coast will instantly advance! In a field battle against an enemy with the same number of forces……. You think you can defeat an army led by that Lord Hardlett!? 」
「Doesn’t it mean our navy is being suppressed if they can land again?」
「How stupid. The reason they’re holed up in Port Randel is because we’re here. If we retreat now, they’ll quickly head to the navy base and burn it down. If that happens, they’ll be able to cross as many times as they want.」
「They have successfully isolated and defeated our vanguard as planned with the landing strategy to the south. But with the weather clearing up, they are somehow prevented from landing any further. We shouldn’t be expecting any more reinforcements……」
「In the first place, rumors are spreading about our incompetence and how we’re struggling to fight against a weak opponent with 10,000 while we have 30,000.」
「There’s no helping it……even though it might be gradually falling apart now, Port Randel is a city with walls, so our supposed trump card in the heavy infantry are not able to bring out their full strength.」
「If we continue our encirclement, won’t we run out of food supplies and ammunition?」
「We should have plenty of food left in the city. Besides, while our navy might be able to block any large transportations, we won’t be able to prevent the small movements under the cover of night. We can’t remain on the water forever after all.」
The discussion halts and an unpleasant silence fills the area.
「……if we continue to maintain this deadlock situation, will we be able to make peace?」
The commander who brought up talks of peace instantly gets bombarded with a storm of insults.
「The increase of tax and conscription before the start of war stirred up the citizens, no? If we make peace so easily, we’ll be lynched.」
「There’s no way the Goldonian side will accept. The King of that nation is cold-hearted and avaricious. He won’t stop even after annexing us.」
「For now, we’ll just have to wait and see. Let’s just repeat some attacks on a smaller scale and search for the enemy’s weak point. We’ll conduct a night attack if an opportunity arises.」
「I guess that’s our only option……」
In the end, the meeting ends, confirming there is nothing which can be done in their present condition and they should continue doing what they’ve been doing up until this point. The situation isn’t catastrophic, but by no means is it good either. Everyone understood that any little impetus could cause them to fall.
Malt Kingdom, Capital: Biado
A man of large build walks in the palace’s halls. But that muscular, well-sculpted body is supporting itself with a hand on the wall, wobbling slowly and unsteadily. The patrolling palace guards see the man and stand at attention in surprise.
「Your Excellency, Brutus! Have you returned!?」
「Yes, I can’t remain sleeping after all.」
Brutus removes his hand from the wall and straightens his back. The soldiers who saw that were convinced of his recovery and relax their expressions.
「I have another business to attend to, so I’ll be on my way. Continue with your duties!」
When the soldiers took their leave, Brutus once again rests his hand on the wall, breathing heavily.
「Your Excellency! You mustn’t push yourself!」
The person who supported his shoulder is his secretary. He couldn’t hide his condition from the girl who even takes care of his daily needs.
「The injury reached your organs. Normally it would take one month of rest……」
「There’s no time for that. His Highness Pablo is gathering soldiers……what does that idiot plan to do?」
Pablo might have taken it upon himself to do something as the ringleader of the rebellion but he understands Pablo’s incompetencies as well. He is ultimately trying to use Pablo to lead the country in a better direction and has no real respect or affection for Pablo at all.
「I don’t know. There is no one harder to predict than a person who thinks like a natural-born idiot.」
Eventually, the two of them reach Pablo’s private quarters.
「Your Highness! Please stop, it hurts!」
「Shut up! I’m going to inject you with my noble seed, so rejoice and accept it, you bitch!」
「Pardon me, Your Highness.」
Ignoring the screaming from the room, Brutus knocks firmly on the door. After some swearing can be heard behind the door, things go quiet and the maid leaves the room.
Her clothes have been torn and her face seems swollen from being hit. The thigh area of her dress is dyed red. It didn’t look like the blood from getting deflowered, but rather blood from someone taking a blade and injuring her. She runs away crying.
「Tch……it was just getting good……nu, Brutus, you’re finally up? How feeble.」
「Please forgive me for my inexperience.」
「So, what do you want? You must have a good reason for disturbing my fun, right?」
Brutus’s expression remains the same. He only gets angry when something betrays his expectations.
「Right, I heard the army is being gathered in the capital in Your Highness’s name and you have also requested for the conscription of peasants, so I just want Your Highness to tell me what is happening.」
Pablo instantly lights up.
「Umu, you did well to find out! Actually, just the other day, Magrado sent a messenger over here.」
「Magrado ……you say?」
Magrado is located to the north and isn’t connected to Malt by land, so there is barely a relationship between their nations. Their citizens don’t even know about their respective existences.
「That’s right! You must have known about the war between Goldonia and Magrado despite staying in bed all this time, right? Goldonia suffered a crushing defeat in the first battle and it seems like it’s only a matter of time before they get beaten. Thus it is a good opportunity for our country to expand our territory! I’ll take the northern territory belonging to that annoying Hardlett for myself!」
Brutus felt his head go blank for a second and he had to double-check whether he was really turning senile.
「Hahaha! You won’t be able to serve in the military looking like that! I will personally take command and crush that guy. If I can increase my own merits, then the others will acknowledge me as a more suitable King than Hilario!」
「Your Highness, that won’t happen! I can’t imagine something like Magrado handing Goldonia a crushing defeat like you said……」
He goes and believes what was said about the countries involved in the war without doubting any investigation. Brutus underestimated Pablo’s feeble mind. That’s why Pablo said something so rushed and so illogical.
「Shut up! Hardlett……I’m certain that he’s not home right now! If I attack now, I can swallow everything! Did the injury make you cowardly as well, Brutus!?」
「Even if it is how you described, Goldonia will clash with us once the war is over!」
「Quiet, be quiet! Didn’t you say that momentum is important in a war!? Now is that time, so cowards should just stay in bed!」
Pablo finally chased Brutus out of his room. After Brutus and his secretary left the room, the sound of something breaking can be heard in side the room.
「Even though we should be the ones who feel like breaking something.」
The secretary sighs.
「Helvi, this is bad.」
「Yes, Lord Hardlett will most definitely be participating in the military campaign and will be insufficiently prepared, so we might be able to take Rafen if things go well……
「Lord Hardlett is the leading grand noble in Goldonia, so even if we are able to take away his territory, he’ll come flying towards us in a fit of rage along with the Goldonian army once the war with Magrado is over.」
「Even just the standing army of the Goldonian forces is over 10,000 in strength. It’s wrong to compare our country with theirs in the first place.」
The Malt Kingdom has an army of 2000 but can gather up to 10,000 in times of need, although they’ll be a mishmash of citizens and soldiers.
「Besides……Celestina-sama will probably be there too.」
Neither Helvi nor Brutus particularly hated Celestina. They just determined the country would fall into ruin at the rate it was going and removed her from the position of power.
There are still plenty of soldiers who feel guilty towards Celestina. What would happen if those soldiers were to be put in front of her again, not to mention the country doesn’t have a just cause to stop them this time.
「Call the soldiers, we’ll stop them as many of them as we can. The country will be ruined if it fights with Goldonia. 」
We can’t let them believe the certain victory declared by that messenger from Magrado. Rather it can be considered a dangerous sign if they sent a messenger to a small nation located so far away.
「I will do what I can.」
But the hard work of the duo would amount to nothing.
A few days later, Pablo would announce Brutus’s leave of absence to take time to recover from his injury and will thus be temporarily suspended from military duties.
During the Outbreak of War – Beginning. North Teries River: River Basin
「Captain Reed, the current is slow here. Let’s drop anchor and wait.」
「Umu, let’s do that.」
Carges, a medium-sized battleship of the Magrado Navy, lowers its anchor and stops moving, careful not to be seen by anyone in front.
「But will it really come?」
「This information comes directly from headquarters so it must be accurate.」
Normally, there would be no luxury to allow for a single battleship to play around while they were in the middle of a war with Goldonia. Nevertheless, there is a reason why the Carges has come to a place away from the predicted location of the enemy landing operation.
「Last time, we plundered a high performance bowgun along with several thousand gold.」
「Ever since the war started, we boldly hunted for Goldonian merchant ships after all.」
Magrado may not be superior in terms of ground forces, but they overwhelm Goldonia on the water. Naturally, Goldonia stopped using the rivers to conduct trade, but there are still a few merchant ships who try to sneak on the waters possibly trying to improve their poor profits on land. If they are able to obtain such important items, then there’s sufficient reason to dispatch a battleship.
Carges even took out one of Goldonia’s large battleship in last year’s battle. Normally, it’s a misuse of resources to hunt merchant ships, but the mission this time is a special one.
「Wars eat up money like it’s nothing, so being the poorer nation, we should get as much money from Goldonia as possible.」
The captain smiles.
Then, the lookout shouts loudly.
「They’ve arrived in front! A large merchant ship……with a deep draft! It’s fully loaded with some heavy cargo!」
「So it’s here! The flag, confirm its flag!!」
「……the flag is……of the Olga Federation! It isn’t just on the mast, there are also two each on the bow and stern!」
「Excess flags……there’s no doubt it’s this ship.」
A ship typically raises a single flag on the most outstanding location – the mast – in order to distinguish itself from other nations. It’s very strange to have flags on the bow and stern.
The Carges was dispatched specifically to target this ship. There should be tens of thousands of gold coins and gold bars packed on this transport ship, bringing war funds from the companies in the Federation to Goldonia’s headquarters. The ship is flying the Olga Federation flag to avoid being attacked, but it’s definitely a Goldonian ship.
「Exactly as the information described. There’s no doubt……the single escort ship is also what we’ve been told about.」
「The headquarters’ information network is impressive.」
The captain smiles cheerfully at his adjutant.
「It seems they have a spy hidden within the heart of Goldonia……it is generally a greedy merchant, but it’s none of our business to investigate any further.」
「I guess so. We only have one duty assigned to us. And that is to get revenge by bringing victory to our nation!」
「Woah there, we aren’t sinking any ships this time. We’ll leave the ship itself unharmed while massacring all those onboard. It’s a waste to let all that gold sink.」
Getting such a sizeable amount of gold will deal a big blow to Goldonia and it’s twice as meaningful if it’s stolen from them.
「Get into your positions! We’ll get beside them instantly and jump on their ship!」
「Get the catapults and ballistae ready! However, don’t use fire, you hear? We can’t board if the ship’s on fire.」
The sailors move promptly and the Carges starts advancing. At first, they were barely moving, but the merchant ship grew got closer in no time.
「These guys aren’t even trying to escape. What idiots!」
「They must feel safe with those fake flags. Now, let’s give them hell!」
The Carges closes in until they were practically touching the other ship and the crew on the merchant ship all stare blankly in surprise.
Balls of iron are flung from the catapults and arrows repeatedly shower the ship’s deck.
「Uwah! They’re shooting at us!」
「Why?! We are……gyah!!」
The crew run about in panic, trying to escape from the attacks.
「Hmph, we’ll kill all these Goldonian bastards. They have no will to fight, board their ship!」
Soldiers use ropes to aid them and climb onto the merchant ship. The ship acting as escort is just watching and doing nothing to stop the intruders.
「I’m going too! The soldiers might snatch the gold for themselves after all.」
「Hahaha, then please treat me later when the captain pilfers all of it.」
Unlike the other soldiers, Reed smoothly and effortlessly jumps onto the ship with the rope. The skills he has polished for many years in order to become a captain still has not deteriorated.
The killing has already begun on the moving battlefield. Being unarmed and having sorry excuses for weapons and armor, the crew is being cut up one after the other.
「Captain Reed! It won’t be long until we finish cleaning up.」
「Umu, but the gold is the most important. I don’t mind if you set fire to the ship while carrying the gold with you. Hurry up and look for it!」
「Yessir! I have designated several people just now to search the bilge of the ship too!」
「I’ll leave it to you. I’m going to rampage here!」
After saying that, Reed takes his sword and cuts down a crewmember in a single stroke.
「Goldonian son of a bitch, don’t think you’ll reach the shore alive!」
「You assholes……you won’t get away with this unpunished! My name is linked with the Arensky family!」
「You’re still talking? Fucking liar!」
A crewmember wearing slightly expensive-looking clothes gets cut down.
Despite being in a disadvantageous situation, disguising the ship as one belonging to another nation is an illegal action and an action which shames his pride as a sailor at the same time. Being a pure-bred sailor himself, Reed could not hide his rage.
The ship’s deck turned into hell for awhile and eventually turned into a sea of blood with most of the crew cut down.
「It’s almost over, huh? But what are those guys doing at the bottom of the ship? If they don’t hurry up, the sun will set.」
Reed takes a seat on one of the fallen crewmember’s corpse and stretches boredly. He then hears sounds of footsteps climbing up the stairs leading down to the bilge of the ship.
「Took you long enough……what are you guys dawdling-「Big trouble, captain!!」」
All the sailors look horribly sick like they’re about to throw up.
「What is it? Don’t tell me there isn’t any gold……」
「The bottom of the ship is filled with barrels of wine! The reason the draft is so deep is because of that!」
The sailor hands him a piece of paper with a trembling hand.
Reed snatches the paper to read for himself.
「Tariff document……departing from Veresk……to Mishil[1. Nat: not sure about Veresk, but Mishil is the capital city of Stura] ……cargo……wine barrels.」
Reed throws the piece of paper away and barges into the room which appears to be for the captain of the ship.
He ransacks the room and destroys a desk containing a locked drawer with his sword, then pulls out the contents.
「Found it! The ship’s proof of ownership! …………What the hell. What the hell is this! Damn it!!」
The piece of paper was blown away by a sudden gust of wind and disappeared into the sky.
[Ship’s Nationality: Olga Federation Merchant Ship
Ship Owner: Baron Arensky
Ship Name: Lusitania]
The ship thought to be the escort has already turned its bow around and is gradually sailing further away. But the crew of the Carges all seem dumbfounded and don’t seem to have the energy to give chase.
Aegir Hardlett. 22 years old. Autumn. Wartime.
Commander of Third Army Corps
Subordinate Squad: 42,700
Kingdom Army: 6400
Private Army: 8000 (Units brought to battle only)
Infantry: 2500, Cavalry: 500, Archers: 700, Engineers: 300, Bow Cavalry: 4000
Cannons: 10 (1 Genuine)
Kingdom Army – 2 divisions: 20,300
Neighboring Vassal Lords’ Armies: 8000
Not strictly under the command of the protagonist.
Additional – Rafen Defense Squad: 1000
Military Subordinates: Leopolt (Deputy Commander), Celia (adjutant, injured), Myla (commander), Irijina (commander, injured), Luna (commander of the bow cavalry), Pipi (belly of a pregnant woman), Tristan (house-sitting), Gido (critical condition)
Current Location: Port Randel
Achievements: Capitulated Port Randel