Chapter 39 is out!
Anyway, here’s the chapter, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
( just came out too, so please do check it out if you haven’t already)
Oak swung his right hand, prompting the advance of the massive mounted battering ram.
But at that exact time―― .
Crowdagen’s thick steel gates opened with a piercing metallic sound.
The second he saw this, Cabernard realized his mistake.
【”―― Don’t go! Hurry and get back, Oak!”】
As if synchronized with Cabernard’s shout, Frigga and her close aides came flying out of the gates at an incredible speed, riding on the backs of griffons.
Oak was petrified from surprise.
Even the Asgard empire had yet to succeed at taming monsters!
While Asgard had been reforming their military by nurturing mages, Lapland had also been doing research to improve their military.
One of the results were these tamed griffons.
Frigga approached at ten times the speed of a horse. As Oak was wondering whether he should retreat or attack her, the goddess of death came for his life.
【”That’s surprising… It turns out Asgard’s knights aren’t that big a deal, huh.”】
One look at Frigga’s eyes, which were looking down on him like he was garbage, was enough to trigger Oak’s survival instincts and make him run back.
But that decision came far too late.
With one casual slash of Frigga’s sword, Oak’s head fell to the ground before his horse could get him to safety.
【”―― If you want so desperately to become the rust on the snow valkyrie’s sword, come forward!”】
In the few minutes it took for the reinforcements sent by Cabernard to arrive, the vanguard regiment was cruelly trampled down and lost over a thousand men.
【”Her highness did it!”】
【”Hooray for her highness!”】
【”Glory to the valkyrie!”】
Crowdagen’s garrison was in an uproar. These were their first cries of victory since Lapland’s last crushing defeat at the hands of the empire.
Frigga waved her hand in response, but the second she was out of her soldiers’ sight, her expression turned into a grim frown.
【”Figured it wouldn’t go as planned. If their reinforcements came just a little bit later, we could have taken out 500 more of them.”】
Frigga knew that such a surprise attack would not work a second time.
The enemies were no fools. They were likely waiting expectantly for the next time the gates would open.
Hence why she wanted to cause as much damage as possible in her first outing.
【”Still, I did take a commander’s head. Hopefully that will lower their spirits a little bit…”】
Despite saying that, she felt like it was extremely unlikely.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the battlefield, Cabernard was also frowning from his heavy losses.
The knights were the core of the troops. Losing more than a thousand of them was something that would only happen in very large battles.
He had forgotten the possibility that other countries had been strengthening their military forces at the same time as the empire.
Drunk on his many victories, Cabernard had become negligent. Was he any different from those countries that had been left behind by the empire?
【”Still, in war, the only decisive factor is the soldiers. Do they think a few griffons are going to change the end result?”】
The presence of griffons certainly was a threat.
However, the overwhelming number of mages that Cabernard had brought would more than compensate for that.
【”Heavy infantry, advance!”】
Afterwards, the battle shifted to a regular siege.
The inferiority of Crowdagen’s military power was taking its toll on their defense forces.
On the other hand, Cabernard’s infantrymen had reinforced their encampments by building parapets and trenches, with the fire support of the mages.
In order to interfere with their advance, Frigga would have had to open the gates. However, a part of Asgard’s mage troops were staying in reserve, clearly prepared to launch a fire breath spell the moment she would do so.
This was a war of a attrition; if the encampments of Asgard’s forces advanced too much, they would reach a range from which their crossbow units could attack the inside of the ramparts.
At that point, their mages and crossbow units would clash with Lapland’s, giving Asgard’s infantrymen an opportunity to rush in and break the crest of the magic formation that was protecting the ramparts.
Still, one had to admit that Frigga was a formidable commander. Despite the circumstances, she had drawn blood from Asgard’s army more than twice now.
On the third day of the battle, the fire support from Asgard’s mages started weakening, as one would expect.
They had consumed large amounts of magic power, and their fatigue was accumulating, causing their recovery time to be greatly delayed.
This was one of the weak points of mages.
Like they had been anticipating that moment, Frigga’s griffon units flew over Crowdagen’s ramparts and started a series of surprise attacks, using hit-and-run tactics.
If they chased the enemies too far, they could be shot down by long-ranged attacks, but the griffon units took advantage of their high speed to attack and to then immediately withdraw, which allowed them to get away without taking any damage.
This was not enough to change the final results of the war, but a subtle shadow was starting to cover Asgard’s army as it kept suffering more and more losses.
【”Should we go for an all-out attack?”】
Navarre asked Cabernard.
To minimize damage, Cabernard had been using only frontal attacks, but Navarre felt like it would be better to prioritize time over losses now.
【”―― No, that’s still impossible, I have to exhaust them a bit more first. If we go for an all out attack and turn the battle into a melee, we’ll be jumping right to that Valkyrie’s reach, and we’ll pay a heavy price.”】
While allies and enemies would be fighting chaotically, Frigga, in her last struggle before death, could lead to the loss of up to 10.000 men on Asgard’s side.
Cabernard was thinking hard of a way to crush that possibility.
However, by the time the battle entered its fourth day, he had still found no method to break this deadlock.
The duke of Varandi, Tulle. In the Lapland kingdom, he was the highest authority apart from the king; some even referred to him as the deputy king.
The Varandi family were descendants of the Loran kingdom, which had merged with the Lapland kingdom in the past. Until the generation of Tulle’s grandfather, the duke also served as prime minister, and the Varandi household had the trust of the king.
However, though Tulle’s father was supposed to take the place of his grandfather in the future, he had suddenly died from an epidemic, making Tulle the next in line for the duke position, even though he did not have the proper education for it.
Worried that he’d suffer the same fate as his father, his family had overprotected him in his upbringing, and he grew up to be a very proud man.
Half a month before the Crowdagen battle, Tulle had been visited by a secret messenger who referred to himself as a refugee of the Nedras kingdom.
【”Once the war starts, we’re going to betray the Asgard empire and attack them from the flank.”】
Tulle planned to monopolize this report for his own gain.
The truth was that he was in quite a financial bind.
As a man who was out of touch with reality, he had failed to manage his territory and had ended up losing most of the fortune saved by his ancestors.
It was clear that, in the not-so-distant future, the Varandi dukedom would be buried in debt.
Therefore, for Tulle, the information given by the secret messenger was a heaven-sent opportunity.
He was planning to hog all the achievements in this war in order to be honored as a hero and to gain monetary rewards. For that purpose, he brought to his side all the nobles who did not like princess Frigga, who had previously gained a reputation from killing monsters.
In doing so, Tulle obtained the role of commander of the troops that were going to meet the enemy. He had been easily accepted for that position by the majority thanks to a fortunate incident where Frigga had severely hurt a young noble with her sword after he proposed to her.
When Tulle arrived on the battlefield and was faced with Asgard’s tens of thousands of soldiers, the composure on his face did not fade.
(Just a little more.)
He believed that, once the refugees from the Nedras kingdom would betray their allies, then Lapland’s and Nedras’ forces would attack all at once and kick Asgard’s whole army around.
He firmly kept that hope, even when Asgard’s vanguard was tearing through Lapland’s army like a giant drill.
(Why are they still not here? They do know that we won’t be able to hold on indefinitely if they don’t hurry and switch sides, right?)
Even after Lapland’s front line was crushed, even after the reserve forces at the rear got swallowed up by the battle, Tulle still kept waiting.
If it wasn’t for the help of Kvass, a knight who was part of a line of retainers who served the Varandi family, then Tulle would likely have kept waiting on the spot until his death.
It was only after he ran away to the mountains and took refuge there that he finally realized he had been fooled.
After the realization came the panic.
Lapland’s army had been annihilated due to his own commands.
If he escaped now, the country would undoubtedly investigate him to see if he was responsible. Not to mention that he could very well be executed if it was brought to light that he had met an Asgard spy who was passing himself off as a refugee of the Nedras kingdom.
He had been completely cornered.
Forced by his circumstances, he stayed within the mountains under the protection of his retainers, who were continuously gathering information for him. Through them, he found out that his home country was on the brink of destruction.
Since that was the case, he figured he might as well push Lapland to its destruction.
That way, the people who could punish him would go down with it.
From there, he started wondering if he could smoothly get into Asgard by finding a good enough present to offer them, but before he even had to do so…
His subordinates found out that Crowdagen was under siege and that Frigga was leading the troops protecting the city. When Tulle heard that report, a smug smile formed on his face.
【”―― You’re saying that brainess duke wants to meet me?”】
Though Cabernard was seldom ever agitated by anything, Navarre’s report had left him at a loss for words from astonishment.
(Does that upstart have no shame or honor?)
【”At this point, the duke’s character and incompetence do not matter. He’s offering his cooperation so we should go ahead and use him. Whether we’ll give him the reward he’s hoping for is another story.”】
It seemed like Navarre was somewhat irritated.
【”And you think he’ll be of any use?”】
Tulle did not seem like he could help, rather, he seemed like the kind of man who would only stand in the way of his allies.
Cabernard did not want to use him as his subordinate.
He figured maybe he could have value in Lapland as a hostage, but nothing more.
However, Navarre’s answer was completely out of Cabernard’s expectations.
【”―― He said he’s willing to tell us about a shortcut that would allow us to access Crowdagen from behind the enemy lines.”】
【”What did you say?”】
An angry vein popped out of Cabernard’s forehead.
Not only had the duke fallen into a trap that had led to the defeat of his home country, but now he also wanted to scheme on the backs of his allies, who were fighting desperately and honorably. How was it possible for a human to be this shameless?
【”It will be alright to kill him once we are done with him. Even after becoming our ally, he could betray us at any time. But given the current progress of the battle, I have no doubt that we should use him.”】
If the battle dragged on, it would give time for Lapland to get back on its feet.
On the other hand, using brute force to end things faster would only increase the damage taken by Asgard.
If it was possible to go around their troops and attack them by surprise from behind, then then battle would be settled very fast.
As a commander, Cabernard had no choice but to recognize that.
【”I don’t want to. I really don’t want to. There is no honor to winning this way.”】
Although this was making his blood boil, Cabernard knew he had to make a decision as a commander.
【”―― Send some groups there and have Bolthron’s company take their lead. Once they start attacking from behind the enemy lines, we’ll take that as a signal and we’ll go all-out from the front, too.”】
Though a deep wrinkle appeared on his forehead after he spoke, he had made his decision.
【”Thank you for making that call.”】
Navarre slightly bowed his head towards Cabernard, feeling apologetic for having him make that choice.
【”It’s here. This natural road will take you through the valleys.”】
Tulle triumphantly shared this secret that was known only to a select few.
―― It was of the utmost necessity for him to show that he could be useful.
Putting aside whether what he was doing was right or wrong, the one thing that was clear was that he was desperate.
【”I see, if we pass by here, we can get to Crowdagen without having to go through the ridge.”】
Bolthron nodded his head as looked at the side road that would never be noticed by those who weren’t natives of the land.
It looked like the information was correct.
The path was positioned at just the right spot. They could take a detour from here without being found out.
【”Think there is anyone monitoring this road, sir Tulle?”】
Tulle frowned for a moment. He could not accept that a low class commander like Bolthron was treating him lightly, but he still barely managed to keep calm as he replied.
【”Frigga’s army doesn’t even know that this road exists in the first place.”】
Even Tulle himself had only gotten to know about this path through luck, because some of his ancestors had happened to find out about it while they were stationed in Crowdagen.
【”Good. Let’s hurry up then.”】
It was time for Bolthron to order his battalion to advance. That one order was going to determine the future of the entire battle. But that order… did not come.
【”――Haaah, just when I was thinking that I’m finally out of that monster den, I come across something interesting.”】