Chapter 222 – Babarino Plains (1)
The nobles who hurried away from the Atron Estate managed to recapture six out of the eleven occupied estates.
That was possible due to their 30,000 troops. There were also the elite knights and magicians of each estate. It wasn’t at a level where their enemies could endure for long. After all, it was only because the elite troops had been missing that 11 estates had managed to be taken, so it meant that the royal faction’s strength wasn’t overwhelming.
However, Duke Cornwall soon ran into a problem.
“No… Those bastards took all the supplies?”
This was an act from Meltor’s tactics manual, but it was a culture shock for the nobles who were experiencing it for the first time. It was due to the dimensional pockets!
The war mages who entered the battlefield kept their supplies in their dimensional pockets, and it was possible to use them differently according to the orders of the commander. Depending on the situation, there were cases when the pockets could be used for ‘plunder.’
Orta had known it would be difficult to defend the estates from the nobles, so he chose to plunder rather than occupy. He took everything, including food from the warehouses, the military supplies, and the secret safes in the mansions.
The lords of each estate screamed at the cruel act of their enemies leaving no lumps of gold behind. Moreover, nobody was compensated for the damages due to the current situation. The nobles of the six estates would now be pushed to the corner of the political circles because of this sabotage.
Duke Cornwall knew this and cajoled them, “Don’t worry. I will make sure you receive no damages from this once I rise to the throne.”
“I-Is that right? We will only believe in My Lord.”
“You are really our only angel!”
These morons were destined to become consumables, but the duke had another problem. He needed to persuade Crusader Ruben, the madman of Lairon, who was furious after his duel with Baek Jongmyung was interrupted.
Ruben had missed a chance to decapitate a heretic. Therefore, he was furious and made the atmosphere uncomfortable in many ways. Ruben murmured to Duke Cornwall, “Duke, look. A fortnight has already passed since I missed the chance to kill him. Isn’t this an embarrassment to Lairon?”
“Hah, I’m also sorry about this.”
However, how could the duke have predicted this situation? All of a sudden, an earth giant had appeared and thousands of trees had grown out of nowhere.
The forest which had been built in 10 minutes was gone in a few days, but the chance to capture the Atron Estate had already disappeared. The crusader called it a pagan tradition, but the truth was still unknown.
“But Crusader Ruben, think about it.”
“What do you mean?”
“This is a chance to elevate Lairon. Isn’t that estate a terrible stage to mete out justice?”
“Hrmm-?” A sound emerged from Ruben’s mouth.
Then Duke Cornwall continued, “There will soon be a massive battle. The center of the battlefield where people are paying attention, isn’t that the stage to show Lairon’s judgment?”
“It doesn’t sound quite right.” Ruben’s eyes shone viciously. “Duke, this is the last time. I will stand by your side and exercise the power of Lairon. But if I miss the infidel once again, I will have to tell the bad news to His Holiness.”
“…I will keep that in mind.”
“Then I’ll be going. Don’t disappoint me.” Ruben didn’t seek permission and exited one-sidedly.
The duke tried to look unconcerned.
A master’s senses were extremely keen. The duke knew this and barely swallowed the ridicule he was subjected to.
He couldn’t stand it. Until now, he hadn’t had any thoughts in his mind about anything other than being king. Even if the other person was a crusader, did a future king have to behave like this?
Duke Cornwall kicked the table several times.
‘I hate fanatics! I wonder if I should even borrow their hands again!’
He held hands with Lairon for a sure victory, but he might die of irritation before even getting his crown. The most rigid country in the Central Continent was Lairon, so he could surely find a better ally if he turned his gaze a little bit.
Yes, the Andras Empire could become a shield for him that Lairon couldn’t deal with.
Duke Cornwall could barely breathe. It was at this moment that…
Knock knock knock. There came knocking sounds.
Then the duke spoke with a half-irritated, half-fatigued expression, “What? Didn’t I say not to let anyone in?”
However, an answer wasn’t given from outside the door. Instead, the answer was the doorknob turning. Was it another crusader?
Duke Cornwall was at a loss for words when the door finally opened. The duke had no energy left to be angry and just watched. He met the eyes of a man who was over 2 meters tall.
“Nice to meet you, Duke Cornwall.” The man with the eyes of a tiger, Pan Helliones, looked down at the duke with an expressionless face. “I am the Great Andras’ 4th Sword, Pan Helliones. I will join your army in accordance with the emperor’s orders.”
“Ah, indeed! You are the ‘super heavy sword’…?”
“I have been called by that name. Correct.”
It was the empire’s 4th Sword, Pan Helliones! His name was well-known in the north and central parts of the continent. The bloodshed he had caused was enough to make a river, and he had once knocked down a cliff. The reputation of the 4th Sword was far superior to the top ranks, whose abilities were unknown. The fact that the duke could recognize his identity just from his appearance alone was proof of his fame.
“I will speak bluntly. Our empire has confirmed that Meltor has added two masters to the royal faction.”
“T-Two of them? Is this true?”
“Yes. However, you don’t have to worry. We will handle Meltor’s masters.”
The duke involuntarily squinted at the word ‘we.’ Indeed, there was a knight in full body armor with a fearsome momentum standing behind Pan Helliones. With this, the dominance of the nobles faction was more certain.
It was because the nobles had two masters, the crusader and Marquis Fergana, while the royal faction only had one master. The marquis hadn’t been present last time, but he promised to fight in this battle.
Then if they made a deal with Andras…?
It would be more difficult for the crusader to act as he liked.
“It seems like this conversation will go for a bit longer, Sir Helliones.”
Nevertheless, it was clear that the heavens were helping the nobles, and energy returned to Duke Cornwall’s face. Andras was a nation famous for war, but it was better than insane fanatics. The smile of Duke Leonardo Cornwall thickened.
* * *
At the time when Duke Cornwall was meeting with two sword masters, a strategic meeting was in full swing in the secret room of Marquis Reista’s estate, which was in the hands of the royal faction.
Orta and the magic soldiers might’ve captured 11 estates, but only half of them were occupied by the royal faction. Duke Cornwall had the majority of troops, and even if they included the five newly acquired estates, the power of the royal faction was still weak.
The chances of victory had yet to tilt to one side. Theodore had helped the balance with the potion he gave to Baek Jongmyung, but the royal faction was still standing at the edge of the cliff…
Right now, the two factions were in the same situation. How should they move to win the war? The attendees were racking their brains while filled with such anxiety.
“The odds are lower if we enter a war of attrition.”
Everyone nodded at the words.
A war of attrition should only be chosen when both sides were on an equal footing.
There was no reason to drag it out when the duke could overwhelm them with military power. It was even more so now that they had seen the fearsome mobility of Meltor’s troops. This was a situation where guerrilla strikes would be the best.
“Why don’t we try dispersing the troops for guerrilla warfare?”
“That won’t work. Meltor has a lot of experience, but magicians are originally people whose power is fully exerted on the plains. There is no way to fill up the gap if the duke pushes forward.”
Every person tried to persuade the others with their own logic and theory, but the other people weren’t easily persuaded. The place where the leader of the Soldun Kingdom and the Meltor Kingdom were meeting became very heated from the debate.
“The only way to break this situation is to act safely…”
“Even if it is possible to gamble…”
“We are chasing after two rabbits…”
A few hours passed by, but a decision still couldn’t be made. Their reactions were natural.
It was good to take a risk in order to move forward, but neither was it wrong that they should move carefully. As long as they didn’t know the future, everyone wanted to take steps which they believed would be the best.
Unfortunately for them, Theodore was there.
“-A decisive battle.”
The words popped out unintentionally. After Alfred’s experience had been engraved into his body, Theodore’s intuition was several times sharper than before. He was perplexed by his lips parting, but he could immediately see why he had spoken.
“Perhaps Duke Cornwall will try a decisive battle,” Theodore said with confidence and looked at the other men who were surprised by his remark.
However, the silence didn’t last long and someone objected, “But Sir Theodore, why would he try a decisive battle while knowing that Meltor is on our side? I don’t think the sneaky duke will do something so disadvantageous.”
“That is certainly true.”
However, Theodore shook his head. “Still, there is the master level magician called Marquis Fergana on the other side. Moreover, considering the anti-teleport devices… there is a strong possibility that he will have defense artifacts.”
“That is certainly true, but…”
This wasn’t enough. They still weren’t convinced, so Theodore rolled his head a bit more. His brain was several times quicker than usual and soon came up with an answer. “We shouldn’t forget the crusader either. The duke will push forward as long as Lairon is behind him.”
The White Tower Master had spread spies throughout the recaptured estates, and they supplied information to the royal faction. One of the benefits of the estates returning to the nobles was that the amount of information increased.
“I heard that the priests of the Sacred Order have magic powers. If they help the duke, magic will no longer be an absolute advantage for us.”
The other members belatedly had a fire lit under them.
“Will they smuggle the priests in…? That power?”
“Cornwall, that traitor really is no good!”
“If Sir Theodore’s words are true, a decisive battle can’t be avoided!”
The duke hadn’t made a big move so far because he lacked measures to deal with the war mages on the plains. Clearly, information about the power of war mages who burned hundreds and thousands of people was famous enough to even cross the border between continents.
However, what if the duke obtained a means to counteract this destructive power? There was no reason for the duke to hesitate since he had 50,000 troops, much more than Prince Elsid’s 30,000 troops.
The leaders instantly agreed and laid out a map. There was only one place where Prince Elsid and the duke could have a decisive battle. Someone pointed to it with their finger and shouted, “Babarino Plains!”
It was a land that was the largest area in the Soldun Kingdom, but it was left untouched due to its desolate soil.
Since crops almost never grew, there were no lord or residents living there. There were no underground resources either, so the barren land had no value. This wasteland was the only place where 80,000 people could collide.
“Attendant! Go and bring me a topographic map of the Babarino Plains!”
“Call the geographers—no, the meteorologists! Figure out the weather of this fickle land!”
Theodore wasn’t interested in the rest of the conversation, so he took a few steps back. Alfred’s fragment had been handed over to a magician, but that didn’t mean Theodore was good at developing strategies. He had used his intuition to find loopholes, and now he would leave the rest to experts.
‘Well, there is also the White Tower Master.’
Orta had a long career as a commander and practical experience, so he would be able to lead the meeting proficiently. Theodore thought so and turned his gaze. Shortly after that, he met Orta’s eyes.
There was an awkward silence for a moment. Orta spoke with magic so that no one else could hear. [As mentioned earlier, I will leave the work related to Andras to you. But is that person called Randolph reliable?]
[Yes, I guarantee it with my name.]
[If so, I will trust you. However, don’t forget to report back.]
[I understand,] Theodore replied to Orta in a concise way and moved out of the room to an uninhabited place.
Then he pulled out a small bead. Looking closely, it was the earring which paired with the one he had given Randolph. Theodore infused it with magic, and the earring started to flash. It was proof that the communication magic on the earrings was working properly.
‘Randolph, do you hear me?’
Once an answer returned after several trial and errors, a grin emerged on Theodore’s face. It was finally time to hunt the bear.