BBYW Vol. 1 Interlude 5

Interlude 5 –  Twin Wings of the Empire

Lars Baal, first prince of the Baal empire.

In the first division of the empire army he leads, there are two famous generals known as the “Twin Wings”.

“Three more days to Fort Bryden.”

Standing on a hill overlooking the marching army of the empire was the “Twin Wings” right-wing, mighty general Bjorc Zagann.

A veteran commander in the empire’s service since the era of the previous emperor, he was already over 60 years old. His hair was white and his rugged facial features showed many wrinkles as well.

His physique, however, showed no signs of aging: his two-meter tall muscular figure stood imposing like a massive boulder.

“Indeed. It will likely be a field battle, so the fighting will break out as soon as we arrive, I think.”

The slender man standing next to Zagann answered his words.

He was the left of the “Twin Wings”, wise general Eis Halphas.

He was much younger than Zagann, just over 30 years old, but his cunning schemes and strategies had allowed him to obtain his rank of captain of the first division despite his young age. Halphas faced the west, the direction of the Lamperouge kingdom, with a cold look in his eyes.

“So you believe Maxwell will not barricade in the fort?”

Zagann’s words sounded like they were meant to test Halphas. The latter nodded and replied.

“Yes. Dietrich Maxwell is well known for his expertise in field battles, and as there are no expected reinforcements on his side, a barricade would be pointless. Maybe if our forces were more numerous they would have barricaded themselves in Fort Bryden… but that is not the case, is it.”

The forces sent from the Baal empire to invade the Lamperouge kingdom on this occasion were 6000 foot soldiers and 1000 armed cavalry: exactly half of the total forces of the first division of the imperial army.

“The Maxwell forces amount to about 5000, including the troops provided by his retainers. Numbers are key in field battles, but with such a small difference between our forces, we cannot say to be at an advantage. If only we could have mobilized more troops…”

“That cannot be helped. Our true enemy is not Maxwell after all.”

Halphas lamented their situation and Zagann responded by shrugging.

Margrave Maxwell had repelled the empire’s attempts of invasions for the last fifty years. The Maxwell soldiers were fierce battle veterans, but if the full first division attacked, their overwhelming advantage in numbers would surely lead the imperial forces to victory.

On the northern borders of the Lamperouge kingdom, however, stood the house of Margrave Utgard. The pirates, rulers of the southern seas, always threatened the towns on the sea. These two powerful enemies did not allow the first division to gather in one spot.

“Normally, we would have more time to make preparations…”

“Yes, if only the emperor did not issue that declaration…”

The “Twin Wings” looked at each other, a sour expression on both their faces.

Their march on the Lamperouge kingdom began without proper preparations because of certain words spoken by the current emperor.

『The seat of the next emperor shall be inherited by who, among my sons, annihilates one enemy country first.』

Such a declaration at the start of a succession conflict caused more confusion within the empire than to its enemies.

The empire was a militaristic country, so choosing a powerful man as the next emperor was a legitimate idea, however, fueling conflict among the imperial heirs was equal to splitting the country apart.

Zagann and other close advisors to the emperor advised him to reconsider, to no avail.

(If the succession conflicts continue for long, the empire will lose more and more power and authority. It will not become a grave issue as long as the emperor is healthy, but if his illness worsens…)

Zagann then voiced his resolve to Halphas.

“We must win this battle, no matter what. Let us put Prince Lars on the throne with our own hands.”

“Yes. Our prince is still young and sometimes lacking, but still a much better prospect than the other two.”

“…that was disrespectful, even for you.”

Zagann reacted sternly to Halphas’ criticism of the prince but agreed with him in his heart.

The first prince, Lars Baal, was still young — only 20 years of age — and tended to act on impulse. He was a straightforward man, however, and his prowess in battle was something to behold.

If the “Twin Wings” gave Lars his support, he could surely become a fine emperor.

The second prince, Grett Baal, was an excellent planner and schemer, but he cared little for others and tended to look down on anyone below his position.

He was also rumored to have a penchant for very young girls, making him a very difficult person to serve sincerely.

The last candidate to the throne, the third prince Cerros Baal, had no intention to become emperor in the first place. He stayed shut in the province assigned to him, never fighting against enemy countries, spending his days enjoying alcohol and women.

“I’ll say it again. We must win this battle, no matter what for His Highness Prince Lars’ sake, and the sake of the empire as a whole.”

“Indeed. Let us do our utmost, general Bjorc.”

“Leave it to me!”

In order to achieve certain victory, the Twin Wings had come up with a strategy.

The main forces, led by Prince Lars and general Halphas, would proceed straight toward Fort Bryden and engage Margrave Maxwell in a field battle close to the fort. In the remote case the Maxwell forces barricaded themselves into the fort, Halphas would raid the villages and towns nearby to lure them out.

Zagann and a small force of 500 elite soldiers would cross the mountains to circle the Maxwell forces and catch them in a pincer attack. Their numbers were very small, but they were an elite group led by the first division’s strongest general, so the enemy forces would surely be shaken. The margrave’s forces would crumble, paving the way for the empire’s victory.

“To penetrate the enemy territory quickly and strike the Maxwell forces from behind, as well as do battle against Maxwell’s powerful troops with only 500 soldiers is something only you could pull off, general Bjorc. It pains me to entrust you with such a dangerous task, but…”

“You don’t have to. If this is the best plan conceived by you, our army’s finest strategist, I will devote my mind and body to its success. It is a shame that His Highness did not approve.”

The two generals recalled that Prince Lars opposed the plan and sighed.

『We are soldiers of the mighty empire! Such feeble tactics are not fit for us!! Even if I achieved victory through underhanded means, who would ever recognize me as the emperor!? To use our strongest general for such a thing is complete nonsense!!』

The Twin Wings had a hard time convincing the prince, who strongly disliked relying on schemes in battle. Especially Halphas, since the plan he had thoroughly honed had not only been completely rejected, but he had also been insulted personally, so he barely managed to restrain his anger.

“The prince will surely realize your true value one day, my friend. An emperor cannot keep his hands immaculate forever after all. On the contrary, people like you are who our emperor needs the most.”

“…do not worry about me. Rather, please be wary at all times. Margrave Maxwell is a straightforward man like our prince, so he will not notice our plans. But there is a chance that he is raising promising young talents as well.”

“In that case, they simply will fall before me! You make sure His Highness is protected at all times!”

“I will, no matter what it takes.”

The two generals silently bumped their fists, then headed to their respective tasks.

Without knowing that they had now spoken with their most trusted comrade in arms for the last time— 

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