BBYW Vol. 2 Chapter 28 (WN)
Chapter 28 – Prelude to Downfall
“Damn that Maxwell and his despicable dirty tricks!!”
In the First Imperial Army’s camp, Lars Baal was beside himself in indignation. In the direction he was facing, the eastern walls of Fort Bryden, the imperial soldiers were being decimated by the Maxwell forces’ counterattack.
“Your Highness! We should order the troops to withdraw and reconsider our strategy!”
As the attacking imperial forces were being pushed back, one of the knights at Lars’ side hastily proposed a change of plans.
“Tch…there’s nothing else to do, is there…!”
Lars growled a reply, his teeth gnashing and grinding.
The destruction caused by the gunpowder weapons was problematic, of course, but the poison was much more damaging. All imperial soldiers wore armor and chainmail, which could prevent injuries from regular arrows, unless they were struck in particularly critical spots. With arrowheads coated in poison, however, even a light scratch could prove lethal.
Seeing their comrades writhing on the ground, scraping at their necks, even the still unscathed soldiers would turn weak at the knees. Without a firm will to fight, soldiers might as well be scarecrows: if the attack continued, it would only produce more imperial casualties.
“Sound the retreat!! Have the soldiers fall back to the camp!!”
“That cannot be done, Your Highness!!”
The protest to Lars’ order came from his close retainer, Snowe Halphas.
“If we order the troops to withdraw at this time, we will just give more momentum to the Maxwell army! Upon learning of this failed attempt, Prince Greed will also take advantage of the situation! We must persist in our attack!!”
“But…! More and more soldiers will fall!!”
“They cannot possibly have large quantities of such deadly poison! If we continue attacking, they will surely run out of poison, thus weakening their offensive!”
“Nonsense! Sir Halphas, have you lost your mind!?”
The knights protested at Snowe’s seemingly heartless plan.
They did not know how much poison and gunpowder the Maxwell forces still had in stock: until they ran out of their reserves, they could lose an unfathomable number of troops.
“Do the lives of our soldiers mean nothing to you? They all have families waiting for their return!!”
“Hah!! What about that? If they have a family, all the more reason to fight without shame!!”
Snowe sneered at the knight’s words and his lips twisted into a grimace.
He himself was shaken by the Maxwell forces’ unexpected resistance. If they wasted any more time, however, the Second Imperial Army or the Imperial Knights might snatch the chance to avenge his brother. Such fears robbed the young Wise General of his judgement.
(Who cares about casualties! I will be the one to bring down House Maxwell…I, and no one else!!)
For Snowe, who plotted to assassinate Lars, a sharp decrease in the First Imperial Army’s numbers was actually a welcome development. It meant less protection for Lars himself and also an advantage for Grett.
To take down Fort Bryden by force while weakening the First Imperial Army — Snowe couldn’t allow them to retreat now.
“…I repeat. Sound the retreat, immediately.”
As soon as the knight blew the war horn, the soldiers started rushing back to the camp, as if they were waiting for nothing else. They tossed both weapons and siege weapons, just holding their large shields over their heads in protection.
Surprisingly, as soon as the imperial soldiers started retreating, the rain of arrows from the castle walls stopped immediately. The imperial soldiers who tried rescuing their wounded comrades were spared as well.
(Intentionally sparing the wounded in order to slow us down, is it? You brazen bastard…!)
“Your Highness…are you truly sure? This will lead us to failure.”
“To concede a temporary defeat in order to reduce our losses is not a failure in my eyes. Our enemy was simply one step ahead of us — that is all.”
Lars’ surprisingly calm judgement left Snowe wide-eyed.
What Snowe had not realized prior was that the many failures Lars experienced also allowed him to grow as a commander. His lack of patience and emotional sides still stood out, but he was in no way a worthless leader.
(This is going to be more troublesome than I thought…as a warrior, he might be slightly superior to Prince Grett.)
In terms of political decision power and long-term strategy, Grett Baal was clearly more skilled. When it came to making decisions on the field and acting on them, however, Lars Baal was the greater of the two.
(If the First and Second Imperial armies ever fought, I always believed the Second would win…but I cannot say so for sure anymore.)
Unlike their political disputes, if they were to fight on the battlefield, Lars could probably defeat Grett…and if that happened, both my revenge and future glory would vanish into thin air.
(There’s no going back anymore…before any conflict sparks between the two princes, I have to whittle down the First Imperial Army as much as possible…)
Snowe watched the retreating soldiers with spite, while his mind raced to thoughts no knight would ever even consider.
The knights around Snowe looked at him with equal resentment, though the thirst of revenge clouded his eyes too well for him to notice.
Thus the first day of the assault on Fort Bryden ended with an overwhelming victory for House Maxwell.