The frontline of this war, that had started a year ago, extended to the north and south; to the south it went halfway through Planates, and even the sea to the north had become a frontline.
Nonetheless, it was impossible to cross Amon Nohl through Bandishia Plateau, and the northern seas were full of icebergs that had slid down from the mountain range, so it was impossible to sail through there. In any event, the great plateau became the main battlefield, and there are constant defensive battles in the Red Forest, which borders Jugfena and Planates.
The royal army was fighting in the great plateau. It’s a defensive battle, but we were pushing forward and advancing slowly. It would strategically be a great defeat to launch an aggressive war and have their enemy expand its borders. It’s unclear what Rindarl is basing their victory upon… No, it’s none of my business since I’m just a feudal lord.
“Hey, the fire arrows are ready, My Lord.”
Gunter spoke to me in his usual rough tone, and I looked down from the hill at the scene below.
It was a summer day, at the end of summer, and the heat was still intense. There, under the blinding blazing sun, was the ghastly sight of nearly a hundred people crucified on stakes, scorching under the sun.
They were prisoners of war… or rather, death row captives. Some of them were dead at the time of their crucifixion since their execution had been decided before they could get their wounds treated from the previous battle. I could hear the faint buzzing of insect wings as they gathered around. The sound of the insects buzzing around made this corner a horribly sad and gloomy place.
“… You seriously planned something nasty. Have you not learnt any of the noble’s unique elegance?”
“I know I’m making you uncomfortable.”
“Yeah. I would have killed you instead of enemy soldiers five or six years ago.”
I couldn’t help but smile wryly at the relentlessness of his snide remark.
“What about now? Do you still want to kill me?”
“Now… well… now I know what My Lord is thinking and why you’re using such a nasty method.”
Pfft, I laughed a little. Then, I gazed at the horizon of the plateau while petting the bored Rashiok by my side. The Bandishia Plateau, which was barren in a different way than the northern part of Arxia, was covered in reddish-brown pebbles, and I could tell that it was not inhabited at first glance.
According to the Sill Tribe, if you go further north or approach the base of Amon Nohl, then you will find some plants. They lived nomadic lives by walking through those few plants.
“… The royal army’s commanding general is a fair man, even to his enemies.”
“What are you talking about?”
Gunter seemed a little confused by my sudden change of topic. Asyl and Calvin saw us talking, so they approached us, but kept silent and encouraged me to continue.
“In other words, he’s someone who treats the dignity of his enemies as if it were his allies. His prisoners are immediately treated, well-fed and rested, and have a warm bed in a well-kept prison.”
“Well, the King’s direct army is a supreme army full of chivalry.”
“Aren’t prisoners of war treated much better? Our food has been collected for tax recently. We’re not starving, but we are hungry.”
I nodded my head at Asyl’s complaint.
“I had the food tax called off as a condition for us going onto the frontline. We are rationing food though. Margrave Junas barked at them to collect food tax from fiefs that aren’t participating in the war.”
“I’m thankful for that.”
“The problem is that, as Asyl had said, the prisoners of war get nothing but good treatment… Don’t you think it’s important to properly use the carrot and stick in everything we do? What good will it do us to treat the enemies, who aggressively waged war with us, entirely humanely?”
In the past, Arxia played the role of the stick in war. This was possible because Arxia was the only powerful nation around, and we could crush the enemy in an instant with our overwhelming military strength.
However, that wasn’t the case this time. Rindarl Union Dukedom is a kingdom with a military force equal to that of Arxia. We needed to give them a new stick.
The soldiers on guard began waving their fief flags at the corner of my vision. It was a signal that stated that the Rindarl soldiers were in sight.
I grabbed the halberd next to me and stood up.
“… Does that mean we should become the stick? Are we going to be a symbol of fear and hatred for Rindarl?”
Calvin summarised and Asyl and Gunter looked at each other with a scowl.
“Yes, as I’ve discussed with the people in Jugfena Fortress, the royal army will play the role of the carrot, and the rest of us will play the role of the stick. By taking these two extreme methods, we aim to throw the enemy soldiers into disorder and lower their morale. This is all for the sake of ending the war sooner.”
“Hey, wait. What exactly are we going to do?”
Gunter grabbed my shoulder. I looked him in his eyes, which were much closer now than they used to be and answered him frankly.
“What Ouwe Kaldia was to you is what we will be to Rindarl.”
――― I gritted my teeth, expecting to be punched, but it never came.
I looked up timidly and Gunter snorted.
“I just told you I know what you’re thinking and why you’re using such a nasty method. I’ll follow along with this disgusting method, you fucking brat!”
As soon as I was about to relax, I was hit with a very painful flick on my forehead. I was surprised and reflexively put the palm of my hand on the spot where I was hit.
Gunter quickly returned to his infantry unit while commenting something that I didn’t understand, “I hope your head gets better.”
I watched him walk away with a stupid look on my face, and then focused myself on the order that I had heard.
It’s time to kill.
The Lynx Plateau is located in a position where any passage from Bandishia Plateau to the low mountain range of Amon Nohl must pass through its vicinity.
The Rindarl army didn’t believe that information had been leaked to Arxia, so they first sent their scout troops. They must have come to confirm whether we were here or not, but we built our strategy on the premise that they would send scouts. It was great that they moved the way we predicted.
We detected the scout unit approaching thanks to Rashiok’s nose and Claudia’s eyes, but we didn’t make a move. It would be troublesome if they didn’t tell their own troops exactly what they saw here.
“How is it Claudia?”
“Well, there’s dust. The Rindarl army is coming! It’s a battle!”
… Of course, Claudia was the only person who could see the dust. I swallowed the words that came reflexively to my mind, ‘Go back to the shounen manga world’, and turned away from the excited Claudia.
The Rindarl army had marched for a long time and reached the bottom of the plateau. They stared in dismay at the moat full of crucified people. We could have hurled arrows at them from above, but we waited for them to make their move since it was important to use the stick to incite hatred and fear from them.
I could see the chaos and agitation spread through the Rindarl soldiers.
The commander seemed to be trying to keep calm, but there must have been familiar faces among the prisons because the commotion from the soldiers trying to rush into the moat could be felt from up here.
Eventually, despite the commander’s efforts, soldiers equipped in what looked like farmer tools, broke rank and rushed towards the moat. A knight on horseback overtook the crowd with a resigned look on his face and was first to arrive in front of the moat.
“Arxians!! This is too barbaric! Extremely barbaric! This is not only an act against chivalry, but it’s also an act against humanity!!”
I stood on top of the platform facing the knight and threw what I had in my hand.
The knight, who wondered what I, a child, was doing, suddenly turned pale the moment he saw an object roll in front of his feet.
It was the head of a boy soldier. The head of the young boy had strong Densel features, and his eyes were wide open in fear and pain.
“Don’t make me laugh by talking about humanity when it comes to getting rid of rats who are trying to sneak into my home!”
I spat at the speechless knight.
“In the first place, it was you people who rejected the order to surrender and gave death to these people. Let it sink into that uncivilised head of yours that this is the result of your stupidity!”
… It’s no use, I can’t sneer very well. It’s because I felt pity for the prisoners of war who had been discarded by their motherland and ended up in the most gruesome end.
Since I had decided to make a bad impression, it wasn’t contempt that I should put into my voice. It seems like I’m not cut out to be an actress.
I wondered if this knight had some sense of chivalry rooted into them on the battlefield. He stood there and looked up at me in shock as if his sense of ethics had collapsed, and this time, I laughed scornfully at him. He didn’t seem to notice the soldiers running amok behind him.
“What’s the matter, Rat? You don’t want to start the fight? Then, just stay there and watch. We will not begin to dispose of the Rindarl prisoners of war.”
Get ready, Gunter, who was standing behind me, signalled. “Fire the moment the Rindarl soldiers rush into the moat,” he shouted as if the presence of the frozen knight wasn’t important.
My soldiers with their fire arrows at the ready, stood up at once on the plateau, and without pause, fired them at the moat and stakes. The arrows ignited the oil that had been sprayed on the staked prisoners and the oil that had been poured into the moat at the same time.
The heat that rose up from the moat suppressed them. The screams of the still alive prisoners and soldiers, who had rushed into the moat without thinking, being burnt alive echoed throughout the plateau.
… It was the re-enactment of the most sickening scene I have ever seen. At any rate, I deliberately did this because I decided that this was the best way to instil nightmares into the enemies. It might be even worse than the scene I dream about since it was on a larger scale.
Cold sweat broke out all over my body and I felt as if my knees were going to give out. I felt awful. I stood up again, using the handle of my halberd for support.
All the soldiers who had rushed into the moat had been burnt. Those who hadn’t were apparently watching the blazing flames.
There wasn’t a lot of oil in the moat. The flames that had lively rose up will soon die down. I used another nasty method… in order to not give the enemy time to calm down, shake their emotions and disrupt their control.
Perhaps if word of this plan gets out, then Father’s bad reputation will all be covered by my own. The ironic remarks of me being Ouwe’s daughter will change to fear and disdain.
“Rashiok, bring him to me!”
My most loyal retainer dragged him alone and stopped next to me.
Weakened to the point of not being able to scream even after being roughly dragged across the ground, the young soldiers tied with ropes… recruited commoners, who had been deemed worthless as a prisoner of war and were already treated as ‘dead’ in Arxia.
They were almost the same age as me. I pushed them onto the blazing stakes as if to make a show for the Rindarl soldiers.
If they fell in ones or twos then they would fall into the fire since they couldn’t even stand up, let alone hold their ground. Or will they fall victim to the sharp stakes?
“――― Stop! HOW CAN YOU BE SO ROTTEN?!?!”
An angry roar echoed over the sound of the flames. I instructed the archers to shoot arrows at the voice. Give priority to the rational ones, kill them and make them fall to the ground to take the advantage for this battle from start to finish.
I played with their emotions and reduced them from soldiers to mere rioters. Then, whether it’s a defeated soldier who is bringing back my ill repute to his country, or the prisoners of war that Ergnard had asked me for, I can take my revenge and kill them as I see fit.
In a matter of minutes, the area underneath the plateau turned into an agonising hellscape.
The scene was just as I had imagined it to be, and after feeling a combination of complicated feelings, all that came out of my mouth was a convulsed voice that resembled loud laughter.
Although he had told me to leave prisoners behind, Ergnard had apparently ran over the enemy troops in a rather spectacular manner and driven them to destruction.
After a few local battles, Arxia was able to control all the important locations of the Great Plateau and Bandishia Plateau, and the war with Rindarl, who have been slowed down by a significant drop in morale and national sentiments, fell into a stalemate.
However, Rindarl Union Dukedom didn’t agree to a truce or ceasefire, and Arxia, who maintained a strategic defensive position, didn’t decide to invade any further. Both kingdoms welcomed winter.
By that time, my name had become well-known both at home and abroad as I went around killing Rindaral soldiers with Ergnard and his brother, Earl Einsbark, and before I knew it, I was summoned to every military council meeting, which was held separately from the House of Lords.
Because of that, I was summoned to the royal palace again before winter started and, as a reward for my achievements, I was given in the name of the King: a bonus, a medal, and a noble title.
I received the Einsbark name and a second class Rozen Rosa medal with a blood-coloured jewel which was similar to my eye colour.
… Isn’t this medal awarded to commoners who have distinguished themselves enough to be appointed as a noble below the rank of Junior Earl? I believe this is the fourth highest medal that exists in this kingdom.
And I can’t believe I received the Einsbark name.
My rewards were so generous that I wondered if Ergnard had passed his achievements onto me because he didn’t want to receive something bothersome like a fief.
I don’t need two honorary awards, I thought as my head felt heavy. They aren’t useful for filling the bellies of my citizens. The rewards have caused many nobles in the capital and kingdom to scorn me, and the northern nobles became more hostile towards me.