Chapter 282 “Stage”
The day after returning to Border Town’s Castle, Iron Axe brought all the information that he’d been able to gather during the interrogation.
“These people were only Timothy’s advance troops?” Roland asked with a frown.
“That is indeed the case, Your Highness,” Iron Axe answered while nodding, “Just like you have previously guessed. Sending one militia troop after another is Timothy Wimbledon’s combat tactic. Apart from the Western Territory, Timothy has also used the same method to deal with Garcia Wimbledon’s Port of Clear Water.”
”Is the force completely made up out of commoners?”
“Not all of them. Some of those people are also criminals or rats, but most of them are refugees who have been seized from all across the country.” He replied, “According to the enemy knight, these people have all been pressed into service. First, they got lured with some verbal promises, and then later they had to take those pills. As a result, they have no other choice than to accept being controlled by Timothy, only in that way will they get further pills to ease their pain and longing.”
“But they do not know that once they swallowed the pill, there is no possibility of treatment,” Roland sighed, “Taking more pills just delays their death.”
“Yes, Your Royal Highness. Timothy didn’t inform the people about the side effect of the drugs. Instead, they believed that the ’new King’ would fulfill his promises after the war and give them remuneration and a new identity.”
“What is the target of this force?” Roland asked.
“Border Town,” Iron Axe quickly replied, “According to what they had heard from Knight Vincent who had fallen during battle, they believe that Border Town doesn’t possess a city wall, which would make it easier for him to achieve his goal of a war of attrition. He’d expected that with a force of one thousand drugged militia he would be able to cause about three thousand casualties; which would be a severe blow for Border Town, but…”
“Knight Sznak confessed that Timothy has also handed them another mission, they were to divide the militia into several small groups intending to attack Border Town in waves. In this way they could ensure their safety while it would also be possible for them to observe your response pattern and combat effectiveness. I think… by now he should already have received the answer to this question, since there was no report from the lead knight who was meant to command the previous attack.”
“This time there will once again be no one returning,” The Prince said nonchalantly, “Since the advance army was used as consumables, did the two knights know anything about the plans of the follow-up troops?”
“Not much, only that its scale would be much larger than that of the previous two attacks.”
Hearing this, Roland’s gritted his teeth, and his mind immediately flooded with hatred, not only are you forcing people into labor, but now you are also sending one wave after another to me as cannon fodder? Even if I’m able to prevail over my enemy without any loss, it will still be a tragic victory. Compared to resisting Timothy’s invasion, it was even more important for me to put a stop to this insignificant war – otherwise, after I finally manage to unify Graycastle, how long will I have to wait for the population to prosper again?
“After the arrival of the Months of Demons, all of the Western Territory land routes between the cities will be sealed off by snow, thus a large armed force won’t be able to move even a single step. However, if they try to come over with ships, the whole process would take a very long time. Not to mention the tremendous cost, it is also quite easy to intercept it on route,” he said. “So, if he still wants to launch another campaign this year, he will have to act before the first snow of winter. And he will have to rake in the population even earlier than that, he would have to completely enlist the militia before winter starts.”
“You intend to…”
Roland closed his eyes, and started to gather his thoughts, then he said. “I want to delay this war.”
“Do you want to send him an envoy or a diplomatic letter? I’m afraid that it is unlikely that Timothy Wimbledon will do as you wish.” Iron Axe said in a low voice.
“No, that wouldn’t be very useful,” Roland said slowly, “Ultimately, if I want to dispel all of his thoughts of starting another offensive, I will first have to reduce the population he can enforce. Secondly, I will have to make him realize that a war of attrition would not make any sense, and also implant a fear of what would happen if he ever tries to invade the Western Territory again. Originally I had intended to have Barov spread the news that the Western Territory had opened up new land, and in this way attract those people living outside of the cities, but now it seems that this would have been much too slow, and the measure is also too conservative. If I want to gather those people before Timothy can lay his hands on them, it will have to happen in the same way as the last trip to King’s City. By taking the initiative to go and recruit them. The most important area is the Southern Territory which has been suffering under the constant flames of war, followed by the northern part of the kingdom. I estimate that I will need to dispatch the First Army if I want to carry out this plan.”
“If you merely want to recruit, I believe that a team of fifty people would be enough,” Iron Axe suggested without hesitation, “After all, we won’t operate in the city vicinity, so there will be no need to worry about any confrontation with the enemy.”
“First let me think of a plan; after I’m done, I’ll call you to see me again,” Roland nodded.
The main force needs to remain inside of Border Town as a defensive measure. Furthermore, the team which will be sent out has to be back before the Months of Demons begins. Furthermore, there is also the issue of whether we have enough gold royals and food: A more active attraction policy will naturally pull in more people, but at the same time, it will also increase the costs. The previous program was relatively cost-effective, but now with an important objective, it is even more necessary to carefully consider how it should be implemented.
“Regarding the second point you mentioned… what do you plan to do?”
“First we have to let off the news by sending the captive commoners back to King’s City. This way Timothy will be able to become aware of the course of the battle – telling him that something like this is to no avail, so he should never try and do it again.”
“However, by doing this, our artillery warfare will also be exposed.” Iron Axe interjected in worry.
“We didn’t reveal anything of value,” Roland said, while tapping on the table, “Besides learning about the long striking range and the incredible power, he won’t be able to learn the principle, so he won’t be able to manufacture it for himself.” As long as the level of industrialization remains at the current era’s, he won’t be able to resist even if he’s already aware of it. Hot weapons are just too overwhelmingly superior to cold weapons. Even with a strong will, good tactics, and a large number of people, it will still be nearly impossible to reverse the situation. “Also, those people will also send him a warning letter.”
“That’s right, the letter will be a notice containing the date and time of an attack. I plan to attack King’s City on that day.” The Prince calmly said, thoroughly emphasizing each word.
“…” For a long time Iron Axe merely kept on staring at Roland, his mouth hanging wide open in shock. Then by the time he came back to himself, he solemnly and respectfully stood at attention, gave a salute, and said, “As long as you order it, I will give my life for victory!”
“Relax, I’m not thinking about sending you out to die,” Roland gave a reassuring smile. “My plan does not need the First Army to participate; the witches will do it on their own.”
How is it possible to make Timothy afraid of the Western Territory? I don’t think anything less than a direct attack against the palace would ever shake him to his roots. All thoughts of dispatching troops should vanish, after he realizes that there is no place where he will ever be safe.
Roland envisioned the dropping of leaflets out of planes during later generations. However, instead of delivering leaflets, Roland intended to send Timothy two bombs – the so-called surprise attack of a bomb dropping from the sky. The possibility of directly killing the new King with it was minuscule, but as long as it could play a deterring role, it could still be considered as a successful mission.
However, whether the other side would stop insisting on launching a large-scale attack because of this would be very difficult to determine.
Roland was clearly aware of the fact that the pattern of the Battle for the Throne had changed. He was no longer so weak that he needed to disguise himself and hide, as he did at first after crossing over. It was now finally time for him to show his hand. Step by step he was climbing up to Graycastle’s political stage, finally making the people of the Kingdom pay attention to his existence – this had nothing to do with any desire to show off, rather it was intended to propagandize the power of his territory.
It was useless to obtain a kingdom in ruins, and fields that were plastered with corpses. He hoped that with this declaration, even more people would be motivated to travel to the Western Territory and stand by his side.
As the sun sunk behind the mountains, Roland opened the windows of his office. The evening breeze brushing past his face, no longer was it burning hot, instead it contained a trace of chill.
Autumn was approaching.