BBYW Vol. 2 Chapter 24 (WN)
Chapter 24 – Conditions of Victory
Following the empire’s declaration of war, I led the Maxwell territory’s forces to Fort Bryden.
It was my first time visiting the fort in 5 years: the preparation for the empire’s large-scale invasion filled it with a heavy atmosphere.
During the war council, it was decided that I would lead 5,000 of the 7,000 troops that formed the eastern nobles’ allied forces. My old man was in charge of the remaining 2,000, posted in the Maxwell territory’s capital of Avalon.
“Basically, the war will be decided at this fort. If we lose, the kingdom of Lamperouge falls too.”
The royal palace was still in shambles, due to the sudden departure of the previous king and crowning of his young successor, the royal family had no actual fighting strength. We probably couldn’t count on the support of the other margraves either. The battle at Fort Bryden was going to be decisive for the kingdom of Lamperouge.
“It’s the same for the empire, though: if they lose after mobilizing so many troops, they’re never going to recover. Either the kingdom or the empire will fall…and the next battle will decide which.”
“YEEAAAAHHHH!!!! I’m already on fire!!”
“A historical battle in the making, indeed. To think that we would stand at a turning point in history…”
The man who shouted, or rather roared after hearing my explanation was a close friend of mine since childhood, Ladd Efreeta. The other man was Salm Silfis.
We were comrades-in-arms who shared the same battlefield against the imperial forces five years ago, friends of the same age, often up to no good.
“It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other, hasn’t it. Reminds me of the battle five years ago.”
“Right! Let’s smash those empire goons, just like we did that time!!”
Ladd shouted eagerly, cracking his knuckles. Looking at my reliable friend, I felt my expression soften.
“We have 5,000 on our side, and the enemy declared that they mustered a force of 50,000, correct?”
“Yeah, they’re exaggerating their numbers though. In reality, it should be around 30,000.”
“I see, still five times our forces. The battle will be a harsh one.”
In stark contrast with Ladd, Salm maintained a cool composure, calmly analyzing the situation.
According to the information provided by the Fangs of Steel members who had infiltrated the empire, the imperial allied forces consisted of 6,000 soldiers from the First Imperial Army, 10,000 from the Second, 5,000 from the Imperial Knights and 6,000 volunteers. Considering that the empire is surrounded by enemy countries in all directions, it’s impressive that they managed to gather so many.
“Clearly, a standard clash of troops would be suicidal…what are you planning, young master?”
“I have a plan, of course. And it might just be the foulest you’ve ever heard.”
My lips twisted into a grin.
Some say that only victory achieved through fair and square means truly holds meaning. That only makes me think that those people do not have something they truly want to protect, though.
If they had something they wanted to protect with their lives, they would use any and all means at their disposal. They would not care for the infamy they might have to bear, or if they had to fall to “evil” ways.
If there is something you simply cannot give up on, you should seek victory through any means necessary.
“We have arrived, young master.”
I turned around and found the familiar figure of an assassin — Oboro, Sakuya’s older brother.
“Did you manage to bring them, Oboro?”
“Yes, they are the Fangs of Steel members chosen as deathwatch.”
Behind Oboro stood two men, clad in black just like him. A bearded man apparently around 60 years old and a leaner man in his 40s.
“It really pains me to have to say this, you two, but you are both going to die in the next battle. I will not ask you not to bear resentment, but believe that we will repay your loved ones as much as possible.”
“Not a problem, young master. My liver will not let me last much longer, you see. I suppose I shall go out in a blaze of glory.”
“I have lost my wife and children already and have also contemplated taking my own life: I could not be happier than to have the chance to die with honor.”
“I see…you have my thanks. Your deaths will not be in vain.”
I expressed my heartfelt gratitude to the two warriors and bowed my head. They smiled and nodded, then disappeared to perform their mission.
“Lord Dyngir! We’ve finished moving the supplies!”
Just As the Fangs of Steel left, one of the young soldiers assigned to the fort came to do his report. A report I had been eagerly waiting for,
“The vases filled with gunpowder and water jars are all ready and accounted for!”
“Excellent. Now we only need…”
“This, my lord?”
Following the young soldier, into the room came my lover and bodyguard, Shana Salazar. Between her candid fingers was a letter, which she handed to me.
“A love letter from Princess Rossellia, written exactly as you wished.”
“Excellent, truly excellent. With this, we have everything we need.”
I flashed my biggest smile of the day.
Five thousand veteran soldiers and trustworthy friends. Spies resolved to die. A large amount of gunpowder and water jars. And finally — a love letter from the goddess of victory.
The preparations to defeat the imperial army were complete.
“Our victory is in sight. Prepare to be crushed, imperial army!!”
It was my first battlefield in a long while. A battle with a scope I had never experienced before. I wouldn’t be a man if my blood didn’t start burning.
Barely managing to contain my seething spirit, I gazed towards the eastern sky — towards the empire.