Malt Kingdom. Biado.
「The Vandolean army suffered heavy losses so the pressure felt by the Divine Nation of Altair should have declined. Unfortunately, the strategy we had before isn’t valid anymore.」
Juno came to Biado to speak with me as we were healing our fatigue after fighting, seemingly cheerful on the surface, but it felt like his words were full of criticism.
It felt like he was practically saying everything was my fault.
I flick my head to the side and look at him from an angle.
「Please don’t act like a child.」
Myla returns my face to normal.
「They’re the ones who attacked Malt. We’re not so stupid that we would try to talk with an opponent who delivered the first punch.」
「Regardless, you could have used a little discretion…… according to my information, one of the divisions of their main army were destroyed, meaning Vandolea will be one-sidedly defending against Altair for the next while.」
How could I hold back against a foe with three times our forces?
Come here Celia, it feels like I’ll yell angrily at him unless I pet your head.
Seeing my mood get visibly worse, Juno brings up a new topic.
「In regards to Vandolea, Libatis has clearly informed me that they are concerned with the invasion on Malt. They assured me that there will be no further invasion since Hardlett-dono was stronger than expected.」
You don’t have to tell me that.
In the first place, even I could understand that they don’t have the luxury to invade again after their main force was destroyed.
「Please calm down, Aegir-sama…… hgah, hggh.」
It looks like I was squeezing Celia too hard.
I can feel my heart gradually calm down as I caress her cheek.
「So Libatis is also going to protect Malt. Is that all you have to say this time?」
「No, I was hoping to ask you to cooperate with a new plan.」
「Hooh, and what’s that?」「Haauu」
Sorry Celia, I was squeezing too hard again.
「We can no longer expect Vandolea to apply pressure on Altair after the major blow to their army. However, we can use their weakening to our advantage.」
Juno chuckles before continuing.
「We will leak information to Altair that Vandolea failed in invading Malt and they lost a portion of their main force. Naturally, we will exaggerate certain parts.」
「Wouldn’t that let Altair have more and more leeway?」
It would create a situation where even Altair would lay its hands on Malt.
Juno instantly responds with a smile.
It felt like he was making fun of me but I don’t pay much attention to that.
After all, Leopolt noticeably heaves a sigh so I don’t have to.
「If Vandolea weakens, Altair will have the luxury of attacking other nations. But what would happen if they weaken even more? Would Altair meddle with Libatis or Malt? Instead of that, wouldn’t they see an opportunity to finish off their mortal enemy in Vandolea? 」
I see, rather than having those two keep each other in check, it is better for the both of us if they battle each other more fiercely.
But there is a problem.
「What if Altair goes on to completely destroy Vandolea? That would be the completion of one powerful nation. The threat would be incomparable to what it is now.」
「Not to worry, Vandolea still has two elite army corps. Besides, they still have resources to spare to gather more soldiers…… they won’t be destroyed so easily. And even if they do get destroyed, Altair’s national strength should also suffer greatly from the harsh battle.」
I understand the logic, but this just feels like Juno is using me.
「So what do you want me to do?」
「Right, you will do the same as you have been doing and intimidate Vandolea…… not only that, but I would appreciate if you could also cause some skirmishes on the borders when you see a chance. Vandolea would have no choice but to send some soldiers in response and that would prompt Altair to mount a full-scale attack.」
Why do I have to fight for Libatis?
Just when I was about to refuse, Leopolt whispers in my ear.
「Accept the proposal. I have an idea.」
Are you sure?
If it’s something annoying, I’m stealing Nina from you.
「Alright, that’s fine. I will let you decide the time and scale, but the border-」「It doesn’t seem quite fair, does it.」
Allowing me only to reply, Leopolt cuts in without delay.
「What do you mean?」
Juno seems to look cautiously at Leopolt.
His face is way different than when he was talking to me, why is he wary of this guy?
「The only one who benefits from this plan is mainly Libatis.」
「Vandolea will be devoting all its efforts to defense as well, so wouldn’t Hardlett-dono and Malt be enjoying peace and tranquility?」
「Vandolea could never have moved because of their heavy losses anyways. You cannot say that we are getting equal benefits.」
Juno smiles bitterly, unable to make any retorts.
「In addition, by going into battle we will be losing soldiers and exhausting supplies. I won’t call the information from Libatis worthless but isn’t it unfair for only us to shoulder the burden of shedding blood?」
「Are you specifically requesting that Libatis also sends soldiers?」
「No, the laws of your country will probably not permit that. Therefore, I would like a suitable amount of funds be prepared in place of soldiers.」
The foreign affairs official tagging along starts making a fuss.
Juno himself glares at Leopolt.
The awkward staring contest between guys lasted for 30 seconds.
During that time, I looked at Myla.
Fufufu, she turned red so it’s my win.
「……very well. I will come again and discuss with you a concrete sum after reporting to the minister. However, if I am to provide more than the national expenditure, while it will be a secret agreement, both parties are required to have signed documents as written proof.」
「You will supply the funds, we will create conflict on the borders. The promise has certainly been verified. Are you satisfied, Lord Hardlett?」
You only ask for my permission at the end?
Whatever, do as you please.
「Then I will contact you again when I’m ready through the woman I left in your territory……」
With those final words, the meeting between Juno and I ends.
「Hey Leopolt, why are we skirmishing for Libatis? I know we’re getting paid but there’s no reason to lose soldiers for that, right?」
I trust this guy reluctantly but I don’t really understand what’s going on this time.
「Well now, we didn’t promise to skirmish for them. We said we would cause conflict on the borders.」
Isn’t that the same thing?
「Please take a look at the map. East of the plains, you have Vandolea People’s Federation, Malt and our territory. You can see that the border lines are complicated. Malt doesn’t only extend to the south, but also has border lines to the east, while our territory has developed considerably and our valuable grain producing area is near the borders of the southern region.」
Leopolt says it’s obvious they will show their ambitions again once their national power recovers.
「Collide with Vandolea at the borders. If possible we would want them to make the first move…… then we’ll take the prepared main force and instantly head south, advancing at least to the south line of the Malt Kingdom and going as far as possible.」
「I see…… this is certainly a conflict.」
Wait for the opponent to attack and then conduct an all-out attack to cut their territory.
We promised Juno to cause a conflict so we are not breaking any rules.
「If we gain this whole region, the threat east of Malt will disappear and we can get a buffer zone for our important land.」
Good, just when I thought I was being used left and right.
「With Vandolea weakening and Altair focused on a full-scale invasion, they should have no forces to spare to the east.」
So we’re using funds from Libatis to carve out more territory for ourselves, interesting.
「Let’s go with this. Tristan is constructing an encampment at the borders. Can we use that?」
「I’m already considering it.」
Looks like we’ll have a fun winter.
–Third Person POV–
Vandolea People’s Federation. Capital City: Vandola. People’s Assembly.
「Comrade Bejček, do you have anything to say?」
「……no. The loss is all due to my incompetence. I can only apologize to the people and the representative.」
Bejček stood in the middle of the conference, not wearing a formal military uniform but instead ordered to wear civilian clothes.
The appearance of the man could only be that of a sinner, wearing shabby clothing with his head drooping down as he is stared at by 10 people around him.
「This is a place where you voice your grievances, not one where we seek your apologies.」
One of the participants comment as such but Bejček could not do much more than tremble and look to the floor silently.
It doesn’t look like his side of the story would be heard like this but the participants don’t seem to mind.
All the members pulled to the place of the People’s Assembly were like that.
「Gentlemen, is there a need to talk any more than this? He suffered defeat at the hands of an enemy with weaker forces, not to mention he surrendered and injured the dignity of our nation. Clearly this could only mean that our comrade Bejček has an insufficient amount of loyalty. A proper sentence should be given to him.」
「Agreed, otherwise it would not provide sufficient explanation to the people. We will be doing a large scale conscription very soon after all.」
Everyone else conforms to the opinion of the two.
「The People’s Representative is also indignant. Doing things in a lukewarm manner is……」
「Then his family as well?」「No, it’s better if we let the people do it……」
It may have been an expected outcome, but Bejček could not help slumping his shoulders in disappointment.
Except there was one elder who slowly raised his hand.
「Now, now, let’s not rush things.」
「Comrade Bellace, are you unhappy with the conclusion?」
The elder grins…… but his eyes stare coldly at Bejček as he speaks.
「The enemy was able to defeat even Bulzark’s third division army, so you can’t say the only problem is this man’s loyalty. Surrendering is certainly unsightly but because of that, half the number of soldiers were able to return to our nation.」
「Worthless soldiers who surrendered!」「Making it public that he surrendered would raise doubts about the military……」
The elder clears his throat loudly and silences the hollering before he continues to speak.
「The third division army was negligent and thus defeated by the enemy’s ambush at night…… however you challenged the enemy head-on and lost. Is that right?」
「……I am ashamed to admit so.」
The elder claps his hands.
「Comrade Bejček, I will give you a chance.」
Everyone around starts murmuring while hope returns to Bejček’s face.
However, it didn’t last long.
「You will reorganize the invasion army of heroic soldiers who ran back home, adding the elites of the young folk who are brave enough to oppose the government, and put them under your command. Then, you will march directly into Hardlett’s territory and conquer his land, making known the strength of Vandolea.」
Bejček wasn’t the only one who gulped, everyone around him did so as well.
「An army of defeated soldiers and prisoners……」「I see, it would certainly save us the trouble of dealing with them.」
As Bejček tries to say something, the elder restrains him with a threatening voice.
「I believe this is the more sensible choice than dragging you and your whole family to the execution platform. Get your squad ready right away.」
Bejček takes his leave in stunned silence…… the elder watches him leave in satisfaction.
「Are you sure about this, comrade Bellace.」
One of the attendees of the meeting asks the elder confusedly.
「I also have the informal consent of the People’s Representative. If we just allow the defeated soldiers to return home, it would affect our nation’s dignity.」
The strength of the army is an important component which props up the loyalty the people have towards the Vandolea government.
If people start talking about how the army lost to an infamously weak southern nation like Malt, it would be inconvenient.
「We can assert that the third division army lost because of some cowardly tactic, like an ambush, at night where vision is poor but Bejček’s army was defeated plain and simple. The soldiers should have a good grasp of the war situation as well. It will be problematic if the five thousand mouths of the ones who came back opened all at once.」
「This is a time where every last soldier is precious though. You would send the soldiers we have on hand so easily…… besides, fighting a war with Goldonia would put enemies on all sides of the nation.」
「Don’t worry, if they depart to the front, we can treat them as deserters and inform Goldonia about it.」
Would things actually go so smoothly?
A tinge of unease remains in the hearts of all those present.
However the elder is an influential person close to the People’s Representative, hounding him any further would risk the loss of standing.
「It’ll be fine since I speak based on experience. Our military force will also recover after the spring conscription. Altair won’t attack us with such timing either, although it appears Hardlett is passing as military volunteers…… but we have deserters, what a funny joke this is.」
The other participants could only force a smile and agree with the elder’s laughter.
Side Story: Legal Wife and Concubine.
「Madam, the tea has been prepared.」
「Madam, Bartolome-sama is crying for his father.」
Nonna is sitting on the sofa in the living room while talking to her usual two attendants.
Carla casually calls out to her.
「What is it Carla?」
「You don’t have any friends, do you.」
There was a crashing sound as Nonna bumps into the table.
「M-madam!」「Get a hold of yourself!」
「W-what are you talking about, stupid Carla!」
Nonna stands up and approaches Carla, but she continues without a care in the world.
「Well, you don’t since you don’t talk to any of the girls besides those two attendants of yours. You don’t even get into fights either, right?」
「But you also-……」
Nonna stops mid-sentence.
She remembers how Carla often goes out shopping and plays with Mireille.
There are other girls who are also friendly with her in their own ways.
「Kuh…… I have Sally and Tori!」
「Oh my, I am extremely obliged, Madam.」「Oh how I adore you.」
Nonna looks to Carla to as if trying to impress her.
However she crosses her legs and chuckles.
「W-well that’s…… calling me a friend is a waste.」「The Madam is someone I respect and adore……」
「There, look. Ow, stop that! Your head’s really hard!」
Nonna gets teary-eyed and repeatedly headbutts Carla.
「Like I’m saying, when you’re just with us family you don’t have to act so formally as the legal wife and get along with us normally! You’ll have way more fun like that, oww, I told you that hurts!」
Carla grabs the continuously headbutting Nonna by the neck and they fall from the sofa to the floor.
There were two thumping sounds as their bodies hit the ground.
「How dare you embarrass me in front of Sally and Tori!」
「And I’m telling you acting like that is too stiff. Buwah! Don’t spray your stinky milk on me!! Take this!」
The attendants murmur to each other while watching the two grapple.
「Hey Sally, have you ever seen a legal wife and concubine get along so well before?」
「No way. They’ll probably get mad if we told them though.」
When the baby cries from all the fuss, Nonna and Carla quickly stop grabbing each other and begins comforting the baby.
「「I think the two of you can certainly be called good friends.」」
The mansion was as calm as always today.
「By the way, I heard that.」
「M-madam, your ears are too good……」
「What sharp hearing…… hah!」
Nonna puffs up her cheeks while smiling and gives the attendant a little headbutt.
Protagonist: Aegir Hardlett. 23 years old. Autumn.
Status: Goldonia Kingdom Margrave. Great Feudal Lord of Eastern Area. King of the Mountains. Friend of the Dwarves. Friend of the King of Aless.
Citizens: 163,000. Major Cities – Rafen: 24,000. Lintbloom: 4500.
Army: 11,300 men (Standing By Within the Territory: 2000)
Infantry: 5550 , Cavalry: 850, Archers: 1000, Bow Cavalry: 1900 (injured soldiers returned)
Cannons: 30, Large Cannons: 10
Assets: 6070 gold (Fund for Cooperating with Libatis +5000), Spoils of war/soldiers’ rewards being calculated
Sexual Partners: 229, children who have been born: 48 + 555 fish