BBYW Vol. 1 Interlude 6
Interlude 6 – Battle Preparations
“Stand by in the rear with 30 attendants, Salm and Ladd included. Going to the frontlines is prohibited. The rest is left to your judgement…is that all?”
“Yes. His Lordship insisted that you do not do anything rash, young master.”
“Doesn’t he trust me at all!? Damn stubborn old geezer…”
I heard my orders from a soldier and looked up at the sky, irritated.
The empire’s army was scheduled to arrive at the fort the next day; the old man was going to set out for battle, leading the province’s forces with him.
Since it was our first battle, we were to stand by in the rear. We could expect to not experience any actual fighting.
“Those are some pretty soft orders though. Letting me take at least one enemy in my first battle would be more important, so that people wouldn’t look down on me as the next margrave…”
“His Lordship is worried about you, young master. Please respect his wishes.”
I frowned and the soldier who brought the message tried to appease me.
“The battlefield will be the plains. Our forces amount to 5000, the enemy’s to slightly over 6000. It’s not a battle we can’t win, but…who knows.”
“Do not worry, young master. We have fought the empire in similar conditions many times and have never lost. Please believe in the strength of house Maxwell.”
“I don’t have any doubts, of course. But if the empire always loses in those conditions, I wonder whether they will fight the same way again.”
“That’s…because they’re barbarians who think about nothing but fighting, after all.”
“Hmm, so that’s it?”
All I knew was from rumors, but the empire’s first division supposedly had two very skilled generals, Zagann and Halphas.
(This battle is very important for them, since the seat of the next emperor might depend on it. They can’t afford to lose, so would they really call the so-called “Twin Wings” for a strategy proven not to work?)
They had to have a secret plan up their sleeve.
I recalled the suspicious man I found in the mountains the other day.
“They bet it all on an ambush, I guess. It sure pays off to go mountain climbing sometimes.”
“Did you say something, young master?”
“Nope, nothing. By the way, did the things I ordered arrive already?”
I changed the topic with a different question.
“Oh, yes. A carriage arrived from house Maxwell for the young master. The place is…”
I heard the location of the carriage and serenely nodded.
“Got it, thanks. You can go now, thanks for everything.”
The soldier seemed a bit perplexed, but followed my orders and left.
I went to see the carriage and checked its contents.
“Good, good, they sent everything I asked for.”
The carriage was loaded with five large boxes, each marked with the words “Keep away from fire”.
“Hey, young master, what’re you up to?”
“Hm? Oh, it’s you, Ladd.”
Ladd was walking towards me, with Salm at his side.
The latter spoke to me too.
“We’re going to be stationed together tomorrow. What shall we do? Stay in the fort, or observe the battlefield from the rear guard?”
“Let’s go to the frontlines!! No one will find out if we keep quiet!”
“…I’m not going to keep quiet. If I disappoint the margrave any more, it will damage the reputation of my house.”
“You’re going to betray us!? We’re friends, man!”
Ladd and Salm started quarrelling noisily. I glanced at them as I opened one of the boxes and took out its contents.
It was a large clay pot, wrapped in straw to cushion any impacts on the way. It was sealed with a wooden lid, from which a short piece of rope poked out.
Ladd peeked over my shoulder and asked about the pot, a puzzled tone in his voice.
I raised the pot and grinned.
“I had these prepared in case we needed them. Working hard when you’re young really pays off, as they say…who’d ever thought that the shitty witch’s teachings would come in handy one day.”
“Huh? What are you talking about?”
“Yes, what are you saying, young master?”
Ladd and Salm both looked at me, confused. Despite fighting so often, they were perfectly synchronized sometimes.
“Our plans for tomorrow are decided already. We’re going mountain climbing and playing a bit with fireworks.”
“What’s with your faces, both of you?”
I grinned, exposing my canines, and both of my comrades reacted by stiffening up.
I later learned that at the time, my smile looked as scary as a dragon aiming for its prey.