Outskirts of Capital. Garrison.
「The aforementioned are the orders from His Majesty and the Military Commissioner. As of today, the fourth division army corps will be under my command.」
After Celia reads out the decree given to us by the King and Erich, I follow up with a final declaration.
Simultaneously, the soldiers standing at attention raise their swords.
I’m just happy that they didn’t boo me.
Currently, Goldonia’s national army has a total of eight army corps.
Each corps has around 15 000 soldiers, which when combined with the 30 000 patrolling soldiers in the capital and major cities, makes up Goldonia’s entire military force of 150 000.
Starting with me, each vassal lord brought their respective armies, though they are not included in the total number of soldiers because of large fluctuations from the breaking up of the army during harvest season or the conscription of citizens for a temporary subjugation squad.
In any case, it would be impossible to go against the Kingdom’s army even if the vassal lords’ armies were gathered together, in fact it would be easy for the royal army to crush them instantly if they wanted to.
「Alright then, I look forward to working with you. Lord Hardlett.」
A man salutes neatly to me as he stands at the head of the aligned soldiers.
「Yeah, same here. Corps commander Wittmann.」
This guy’s name is Wittmann, who is the Division commander of the fourth army corps and apparently also a viscount.
He’s in his late thirties and not that tall, though his body is built like that of a soldier’s.
「I am a soldier first and less familiar with noble etiquette so I may be a bit rude.」
He was born of common birth and rose up in ranks to corps commander on ability alone.
The noble title was appointed to him after he became a high ranking officer in the army.
Children of nobles are also in the army so inconvenient situations may arise if he remained as a commoner or knight.
「I’m the same way. We don’t need to fight with manners, we just have to win.」
I shake hands with commander Wittmann.
This relationship between men is unavoidable, we’ll be fighting together for a while after all.
I’m glad he isn’t someone unpleasant.
「Let me introduce the captains of each battalion as well.」
The army corps is divided into battalions of around a thousand soldiers each.
After exchanging words with each and every one of them, I see a familiar face.
「Agor! Long time no see.」
「Good to see you doing well!」
It was Agor, someone who was once my subordinate and is now working in the royal army.
「An acquaintance of yours? Agor has been given the reins to one battalion. He’s quite the capable leader.」
Wittmann speaks in a friendly manner but like a stern soldier, he doesn’t smile.
「So you became a battalion commander.」
「Yeah, somehow, though I still feel my own lack of talent on a daily basis.」
I’m grateful to have an acquaintance here.
To the soldiers, I would just be a commander who appeared out of nowhere.
Having someone they trust speak to them makes a world of difference.
「Good to see you again.」
Celia also shakes hands with Agor.
He proceeds to greet Leopolt on the far side but was given a cold response so he awkwardly retracts his hand.
「He’s as unfriendly as ever. Well, don’t let it get to you.」
After that, I search for one more person.
He’s not here.
「……look for that idiot and bring him here. He’s either among the supplies or inside a carriage, focus on the sunny places.」
He needs a light source to read a book after all.
After being officially appointed as the commander, I brought with me Celia, Leopolt, Myla and Irijina.
I don’t mobilize my personal army, but Leopolt requested for 100 soldiers as an escort to accompany us.
Apparently, it is insurance for me running ahead.
Of course Gido and Christoph are among those soldiers.
That was supposed to be everyone, but knowing Tristan would dance happily without anyone bothering him in the mansion pissed me off, which is why I called him too.
I’ll be leaving my territory pretty vacant, but I don’t think an invasion will come from anywhere considering the current situation.
This way the soldiers can take their time and relax while their equipment gets replenished.
If worse comes to worse, I have Luna.
「The soldiers directly under Lord Hardlett’s command all look gallant. They’re wearing armor I’ve never seen before, but why leather?」
Wittmann look curiously at the armor of my escort soldiers.
I just thought ‘why not’ and had all of them equipped with the dragon armor too.
All of their gear is made from the skin of a dragon, from their armor and helmets to their armguards and boots.
The skin of a dragon is strong enough to withstand a shot from a bowgun at close range.
While that won’t be enough to penetrate through the dragon skin, the force of the projectile will still be painfully transmitted to the body so the skin was layered on top of a thin metal armor.
This new armor is much lighter than the metal armor they’ve been fighting in before, plus they can continue fighting without so much as letting out a groan even from taking a concentrated attack from a bowguns at point blank range.
「It’s a special armor. It looks like leather but its strength is guaranteed.」
Now that I look, the soldiers are all ready to depart.
The quicker we head out, the quicker we come back.
「Hurry it up! That lazy bum!」
「Aaah, my tea is spilling. Geez, why do soldiers have to be so impatient?」
Myla is grabbing and pulling Tristan by the scruff of his neck.
Alright, preparations are complete.
「We are also-」「-Here as well!」「Fufufu, my wallet has a string now!」
Oh yeah, they’re here too.
The poor trio were allowed to volunteer in the campaign.
Erich gladly accepted their desire to participate, knowing they could do something.
Apparently, he knows them well because Viscount Binbo and Baron Gokhin were in the army before.
「They’re not bad as soldiers. Same as knights and as commanders.」
That’s what he told me confidentially.
「If I had to say it, the people who fought alongside me didn’t look very lucky.」
I’ll pretend I didn’t hear anything.
Like me, they brought with them elites from their own army, though the guy I saw at the party is probably not his actual son.
Rather than elites, it looks like they brought their whole family.
「My, it’s been so long since I’ve handled a spear.」「This feels easier than managing the territory.」
The royal army has a reserve army properly standing by.
Unnecessary additions to the chain of command would only cause more chaos, so they will be fighting together with the soldiers they brought and the raid knights.
In a fight, it becomes necessary to have a few skilled knights more so than a large amount of average soldiers.
Count Monashi was left in the port city to handle the logistics.
He seemed better at managing than fighting anyways.
Honestly, he may be the greatest help.
The well-trained royal army advanced steadily without any outstanding disorder, and will be boarding on a boat to get across to Magrado after reaching the North Teries river.
「So we’re the last……」
「Of course. Did you forget what happened last time?」
Leopolt says it like I’m supposed to know.
Now that I think about it, I was isolated after running out in front during the Magrado war.
Gido protected Celia and almost died.
「Did I worry you that time?」
「Everything will be in disarray if the commander died.」
Leopolt answers in a matter-of-fact tone.
「You were actually worried about me, weren’t you?」
I press him further.
He’s gone quiet.
「What’s wrong? I’m asking if you were worried.」
This bastard just sighed.
「Lord Hardlett, let’s have a brief war meeting while we wait for the boat.」
Commander Wittmann calls out to me with a map in one hand.
Damn, he gave Leopolt an excuse to run away.
「……what meaningless thing are you doing?」
Myla is also fed up.
This is all Leopolt’s fault.
We gather around the table with a map placed on top.
「Now, we were going to rendezvous with the general governorate army right? So, where is the enemy?」
I place colored pieces to depict ally and enemy on the map in no particular order.
「The enemy is moving all the time so our information will be delayed, but according to reports they are here, here and here.」
Wittmann rearranges the pieces representing the enemy on the map.
It makes me let out a strange sound.
「What the heck? They’re all over the place.」
There is a piece placed near the central city Odoros which is the base of the general governorate army, then there is also an isolated piece placed in some remote region.
「And this is where all the general governorate army is positioned.」
Myla holds her head in worry.
The positions of the general governorate army are also scattered, looking almost identical to the enemy’s position if not counting the pieces concentrated around Odoros.
「Why is it like this? Did they not think about regrouping with each other?」
「Lord Hardlett, did you forget?」
Leopolt chimes in.
「This isn’t a war between two countries where ally and enemy are clearly divided. The nobles of former Magrado have split into two groups and are fighting each other. There is no large war front.」
Wittmann also nods.
「This isn’t a war where two huge armies clash. This is a civil war where the people they used to consider neighbors have now become enemies.」
「Looks like we got involved in something annoying.」
As I sit down on a chair and sigh, a soldier reports that the vanguard has safely landed on the other side without issue.
First, let’s hurry to Odoros.
We can’t start anything if we don’t reach the general governorate headquarters.
–Third Person POV–
At the Same Time. White City. Enemy Camp.
A man speaks out in a gloomy tone as he listens to the sounds of the violent gusting winds.
「Today is colder than usual, what a fierce snow storm. ……so, how many people died?」
A commander of the Imperial Army surrounding White City asks one of his subordinates.
The army is already extremely fatigued and not in any state to mount a large scale offensive.
Still, the Supreme Commander of the invading army Zaphnes insists on continuing the encirclement of White City, not ordering any soldiers to retreat.
The Federation army was also shutting themself within the safe castle walls like a turtle, so the encirclement was somehow maintained.
「It looks like 500 or so regular soldiers died from the freezing cold. Several times more have gotten frostbite which rendered their hands and legs useless. Probably a few thousand military slaves died, I don’t have an accurate number.」
「Destroy and burn the carriages. We probably won’t need horses to pull them anymore.」
The Federation’s harsh winter, especially a cold wave like this which continued for several days prior, didn’t only take the lives of humans but also those of the war horses unfamiliar with the cold.
「Give the slaves plenty of horse meat soup too. They won’t move no matter how much we whip them if they end up being frozen.」
Ironically, the exhaustion from the cold wave improved the treatment of the military slave soldiers.
「General Sekrit’s fleet secured the sea and river so getting supplies is a big help.」
「Yeah, because of that we got lots of useless thin pelts.」
The result of requesting cold-resistant equipment from their home country was being sent a bunch of useless pelts.
In the first place, the craftsmen knew nothing about the Federation’s winter and no idea of the environment.
The commander’s body shivered even when wearing three layers of the thin fur coats, as he let out a sigh.
「Thought at this rate, we’ll be beyond help. The winter will continue for a while, imagine if this climate lasted for another two months. By the time those guys counterattack, we’ll be ice statues.」
「Our only option is to withdraw.」
「We underestimated the Federation’s winter. We’ll temporarily retreat to the south and regroup. Once it becomes spring……」
「The Federation will also regroup. Even now, it looks like they’re gathering reinforcements.」
The commander and his subordinate look at each other silently.
From the start of battle, the Empire very often made the preemptive strike with an overwhelming advantage in military strength.
Clashes with similar numbers often resulted in the Federation’s victory due to difference in quality of equipment and leadership.
「I wonder what would happen if we lock in battle with them.」
「Besides, it’s impossible for us to leave the occupied territory and retreat despite it being temporary. If His Majesty hears about it, General Zaphnes won’t escape unharmed.」
The situation worsened with every moment.
They couldn’t do anything even if they understood that.
「Today just seems like a day to drink and forget about things.」
The commander forces a smile and takes out a strong alcohol.
「You’re right. There’s already a blizzard outside, and while the Federation soldiers may be used to the cold, they should not be able to move in this weather.」
「I feel bad for the soldiers, that we’re going to relax a little here.」
The commander takes out a cup and hands it to his subordinate.
In that moment, something happened.
「Enemy attack! Enemy attack!!!」
The lookout’s voice resonates.
The bottle of alcohol shatters as it hits the ground and the two soldiers throw their cups away.
As the two men rush out of the tent, their faces are blasted with the chilly air.
「Guh, I can’t see anything in this blizzard!」
「Where is the enemy coming from!? Inform us of the scale!」
The subordinate yells out to his surroundings in the midst of the driving snow, unable to see clearly.
What responded to his cry were screaming and sounds of clashing metal.
「Corps commander Arsanov, one of the enemy’s army has been defeated, the encirclement has been broken.」
「Good, let’s continue going around to the west, piercing through all the enemies in front of us. We just have to break through, the encirclement and extermination will be left to Martin…… I mean, Commander Stessel.」
The troops under Arsanov advance through the blizzard like it was nothing.
It didn’t matter if they were on horseback or walking on foot, all the soldiers were covered in fur armor leaving only their eyes uncovered.
「Maybe this was a bit too much. The winter in White City is pretty warm.」
「Yeah, the air doesn’t freeze my lungs even after taking deep breaths.」
Arsanov’s soldiers strike down the Empire soldiers while making light of the situation.
The trembling soldiers of the Empire couldn’t put up a decent fight in the intense blizzard and were defeated one after the other.
They didn’t have the luxury to transition to a defensive stance.
Some bold knights try to counterattack, though with the cold robbing them of their strength and the scene in front of them blanketed with a layer of snow, it was hard for them to see enemies at close distance let alone fight, which resulted in their deaths at the enemy’s hands.
With their defeat imminent, the Imperial soldiers prepare to run, except they couldn’t even figure out where it was safe to escape in the midst of a field of white, so they could only scatter in all directions and hope they chose the right path.
White City. Defense Command Room.
「As expected of the army of ice, such a fierce blizzard doesn’t phase them at all.」
As Martin hears the report of the encirclement breaking apart like a piece of paper, he nods contently and faces his staff officers and generals.
Further packed behind them were their respective squad commanders.
「Gentlemen, the time has come. It is the beginning of the night of humiliation.」
Everyone stomped their feet like a tantrum-throwing child, impatiently waiting to go outside as soon as possible.
「Open up all the doors! Kick out all the soldiers! We will use our all to destroy the Imperial army.」
The brave voices resound and eventually gets drowned out by the sounds of the blizzard.
「Preparations have been completed. Waiting outside the encirclement of White City on the north side is the reorganized western army. Once we start fighting, they will break through the surround from the north.」
Everyone’s eyes light up.
Being pushed back ever since the beginning of the war and having to stay on the defensive, none of the soldiers’ morale increased at all.
That is until now.
「Let’s begin the counterattack. We’ll give them hell, just like they did to us.」
「Hurray for the Federation!」「Death to the Imperial soldiers!!」「Begin the counterattack!」
Martin raises his hands to settle down the rising cheers, then declares.
「Winter counteroffensive, “operation winter storm”, begin. All units, take your positions!」
The large cheers once again cuts through the gusting blizzard, reverberating throughout White City.
Federation VS. Empire – Comparison of Military Forces (Current + Losses = Max Mobilization. In the case where numbers don’t match, it means there are spare forces.)
Olga Federation 「Counterattack Begins」
Military Strength – Current: 1 000 000, Max Mobilization: 2 550 000, Losses: 1 190 000, Civilian Victims: 940 000
Military Strength – Current: 1 800 000, Max Mobilization: 3 100 000, Losses: 1 300 000 (Military slaves not included)
Protagonist: Aegir Hardlett. 24 years old. Winter.
Status: Goldonia Kingdom Margrave. Great Feudal Lord of Eastern Area. Mountain Legend. Friend of the Dwarves. Friend of the King of Aless. Dragon Slayer Hero.
Citizens: 175,000. Refugees: 80
Major Cities – Rafen: 26,000. Lintbloom: 5000. Vandolea Special Town: 9000.
Royal Army – 4th Division Army Corps: 15 000 men
Escort Squad: 100, Retinue of Trio: 100
Assets: 19,599 gold
Sexual Partners: 406, children who have been born: 55 + 555 fish