Chapter 72: Land Strategy
First, let me explain the current situation.
Lord Raul and Lord Aquicurl have raised their armies, but they aren’t going to march towards the capital… anytime soon. Both parties are in the process of gathering troops, preparing supplies, and working on the ‘handover’.
The transfer of authority is done in stages. If all those stages are done in a rush, then you can lose everything you have built up… just like me. A lot of the authority and vassals that the Emperor had was not passed to me when my father and grandfather died, and I suddenly became the ‘Emperor’. Many of the former Crown Prince Jean’s vassals worked for Lord Warung, not me. It was inevitable that they would follow their master after losing Crown Prince Jean.
The same thing was happening to Duke Raul and Duke Aquicurl due to the purge at the coronation ceremony. Well, unlike me, they are starting from a place where they have some power, but sudden changes create huge backlashes. Their power must be really fragile.
Or, if Duke Raul, who had a large private army, had managed to control his army, then it would be possible for him to direct them towards the capital… but they are now pinned down on the eastern frontier by the Gotilova Tribe.
“He can’t make a move at the moment, but we can. The choice is ours. Should we strike from the east or from the west? I want your opinion on this.”
We couldn’t strike at both armies. I could divide the forces into defence and diversion units, but I would like to have our main forces in one place.
By the way, this isn’t the current course of action but the ‘next’ course of action. My current course of action is to bring the southern part of the Empire under my complete control. So, I am conducting various operations in Count Bunra fief to achieve this.
All that remained to be seen was if Anslem… Marquis Dzran will follow me now that he has defeated his parents and brothers. I have already sent a message to summon him to the capital. If he doesn’t come, then the first step would be to attack Marquis Dzran.
“Your Majesty, I would like to share my thoughts with you as someone who knows the finances of the Empire.”
The first to speak was Count Newnbal, the Lord Treasurer.
“The people of the Empire are short on all kinds of goods at the moment, but we have a large surplus of food. We should first attack Aquicurl in the west, secure its port and then conduct trade there to obtain foreign currency.”
The Empire also has many neighbours on land, but most of those nations see the Empire as an enemy or do not have a very close relationship with the Empire. Even if we trade with them through the land route, at best we would have to lower our prices, so if we want to trade then it would be essential to take control of the sea. It was an opinion from an economic point of view, typical for the Lord Treasurer.
“… As someone who commands the army, I believe we should start from the east.”
The next person to express their opinion was Lord Warung.
“If we attack Aquicurl, we can expect strong resistance from the aristocrats of the former Aquicurl Kingdom. Those people are a nuisance, but Duke Raul is from Bungdalto. It should be relatively easy to suppress him if we keep winning.”
The Aquicurl aristocrats…? Oh yeah, it seems that Lord Warung was once troubled by the guerillas during the war with the three southern nations. This opinion seems to be based on his own experience.
“I agree with Lord Warung. I believe we should attack the east.”
After Lord Warung, Fabio, Marquis L’Mitedeau, stated that priority should be given to the east.
“It will give people the impression that the Empire is strong if we beat the Raul Army which is known for its strength. Occupying the fief is a separate matter. I believe we should attack the Raul army at least once and support the Gotilova Tribe.”
One victory would certainly bring many benefits.
“All of your opinions are worthy of consideration…”
But… if I had to choose between a military threat and economical gain, I would choose the former.
“But we do not have the time to ponder over these opinions today… I’ve decided, let’s start by attacking Duke Raul in the east.”
Even though the Gotilova Tribe is good at fighting in the mountains, they are not immune to exhaustion. It could affect our future relationship with them if we put too much strain on them.
“If the Golden Fleece accepts our proposal, then it will be a while before they will be of actual use to us. We cannot have a pincer attack in the west… between the Golden Fleece and us right now, but we can create a pincer attack in the east, but we won’t be able to do this if the Gotilova Tribe is exhausted and retreat. The opportunity to attack the east is now or never.”
… And I haven’t told the aristocrats this because it is a matter of authority, but I have a method to divide the Aquicurl aristocrats. I had the body of Lord Aquicurl preserved (there is magic for this apparently) for this.
“But we cannot give up on the west, so Count Chamneaux, I want you to return to your fief with the mercenaries.”
If I say that I will give priority to the east, then Count Chamneaux’s fief, which is surrounded by aristocrats in the Regent Faction, will be abandoned. Count Newnbal might have taken this into account when he suggested that the west should be prioritised.
“I appreciate your concern, Your Majesty… but there is no need for that.”
As I expected, Count Chamneaux strongly refused. Perhaps he wanted to show his loyalty even if he had to abandon his fief.
“I’m not holding back because of you, Count Chamneaux. If the Golden Fleece does accept our proposal, then they wouldn’t be able to use the ports of the Theanabe Union as their base of operations. I want you to secure the port in your fief in case this happens.”
Also, if we lose Count Chamneaux’s fief, then the morale of his people would be lowered even if he’s alright with losing it, and I don’t want them to rebel against the Emperor.
“One more thing. We can pincer Duke Raul’s fief now that Duke Raul’s fief is being pressured by the Gotilova Tribe in the east. I would like you to pressure Duke Aquicurl from the west like this as well.”
“If that is the case, then I am at your service.”
… I also want to hire the mercenaries.
If we let them disband around the capital, then they could run rampant around the capital as bandits, or they could work for Duke Raul or Duke Aquicurl.
They are also valuable troops. An army can maintain their strength through enlistments as long as they can secure weapons. Of course, mercenaries are far stronger than enlisted soldiers. Enlisted soldiers will flee if they feel even the slightest bit of disadvantage.
But they will not betray you. It is the commander who makes that decision, not the soldier. Mercenaries, on the other hand, may betray you because their commander is not the commander of the army. Their leader is the boss of the mercenary group.
In this case, I have concluded that it would be more disadvantageous for someone to betray us than for someone to escape. Most importantly… there isn’t just one mercenary group, and it is difficult to get all those groups to work together. It is impossible for mercenaries to win against the well-trained Raul army.
We cannot win against the Raul army if we fight head-on on level ground whether it be with mercenaries or enlisted soldiers.
Of course, I have no intention of fighting in a situation like that. I intend to ‘create’ a battlefield where I can win with the soldiers I have drafted. I need soldiers who will not betray me… Mercenaries who are an uncertain element are a ‘nuisance’.
“Don’t worry about what you have to pay them. Make sure you can hire them. You will go to battle as soon as you’ve hired them.”
Count Newnbal frowned as soon as I mentioned money. I have a plan to raise money, so don’t look at me like that.
“Please wait, Your Majesty.”
It wasn’t Count Newnbal who spoke up, but Lord Warung.
“What is it, Lord Warung?”
Are you dissatisfied with something?
“You should not let them have their reward. We should only give them the bare minimum and transport them ourselves even if we have to use our army.”
… I see. It’s possible that they will run away if they have all the money upfront.
If it’s a large mercenary group or a ‘famous’ mercenary group who are always sought after by different nations, then they wouldn’t do something that could affect their ‘next’ job, but if they are former bandits who just call themselves mercenaries, then they might do it since they are not conscious of their ‘next’ job.
… That had completely slipped my mind. Lord Warung was extremely helpful.
“I see, you make a good point. Thank you, Lord Warung.”
“It is nothing. I apologise for interrupting you, Your Majesty.”
“Then we will be responsible for sending them their additional rewards. You will leave immediately, Count Chamneaux.”
That should take care of the military course of action for now. Now it is time for… diplomacy.
“I have one last thing to discuss. It’s about our neighbours.”
They will definitely try to intervene in this civil war either directly or indirectly.
“I don’t plan on having anyone other than our allies intervene, not as our enemies or as our allies.”
It would be troublesome if the nation who intervened was an enemy, but it would be even more troublesome if they became allies to make us ‘indebted’ to them. It would be a burden to prevent interference completely.
“Therefore, I shall assume the position of Foreign Minister for the time being and negotiate directly with different nations.”
“You will, Your Majesty?!”
Count Newnbal shouted. Lord Warung and Count Chamneaux were equally surprised, and well, Fabio was surprised as well. The only person who had not reacted was Count Palatine Vedett… or rather, this man hasn’t uttered a single word since the military was brought up. He refrains from making unnecessary remarks when he deems that it is out of his area of expertise…
“Yeah. By law, it shouldn’t be a problem for me to hold that position while being the Emperor.”
“But it is unprecedented. There have been Emperors who have been marshals but…”
Well, because it’s showy to be on the battlefield as a monarch. I guess a lot of the emperors were show-offs. Being a Foreign Minister might seem modest compared to being a marshal.
I personally believe that it was a waste of time to be a marshal as an emperor since the emperor has the authority to command the military.
“Of course, this is only temporary. I will show the nations that I’m willing to negotiate directly with the neighbouring nations.”
Well, we’re simply shorthanded. I’d hate to see someone’s health deteriorate as a result of working too hard if I delegate this position to someone else.
“There will be times when we will have to take a hard line with them or negotiate weakly with them… but all of this is to buy time until the civil war ends. I don’t intend to enter an agreement with them. You must keep that in mind.”
… I have to act like a weak person again. I don’t want them to be disappointed or rebel when they see this, so I had to tell them this in advance.
“This concludes today’s meeting. It was a productive meeting.”
We have shared most of our most recent and general action plans.
… The plans will need to be adjusted each time depending on which side the returning lords side with.