The next day, August 20th, morning.
The two armies are in a distance where they can see each other. It is the same wasteland where the Kingdom tasted a grand defeat.
The Imperial army that had won didn’t show any signs of advancing further into the Kingdom’s territory. Although their intentions to do so isn’t clear, the Kingdom couldn’t possibly let enemy forces stay in their territory.
The Kingdom that hadn’t recovered from its losses had gathered up all the remaining forces it can from all its territory, and even drafted soldiers and hired mercenaries and hurriedly put up a response army to drive back the Empire.
Of course, it’s not like the Empire had sat there and waited without doing anything. They had expected the Kingdom to come to them, and had built a base at their camp, even reinforcements are coming from their country now.
According to a report, the Empire has more than ten thousand on their side, the Empire was able to sortie such a large army from afar. Adding on the reinforcements from the southern continent, they would have about twelve thousand soldiers. That’s the entirety of the empire’s army.
There are obstacles set up by the Empire at the center of the wasteland, and to complement it, various holes can be seen dug. Behind the obstacles were the Empire’s units taking formation, and further in the back, their headquarters probably exists there.
However, the expected number of Imperial soldiers at the center were lesser than expected. The Imperial army had spread across horizontally and taken up a spanning formation.
Excluding the headquarters in the back of the center, their center looks to have the least number of soldiers.
「Good graces, what is this. 」
「What do you mean? 」
Moore who was left with the task of commanding the mercenary unit said his honest opinion without holding back, and a thin looking man beside him responded.
「They’re waiting for us like that there, they’re totally going for a defensive battle. 」
Moore pointed at the Imperial army with his chin with displeasure.
「Knowing that their failure will repeat if they advanced into the our territory, they might be thinking to wipe us out here once and for all. 」
「But if we would have chosen to hole up instead of responding, the advantage they got from the first victory painstakingly would be useless. 」
「Maybe they had the confidence it wouldn’t be like that. In fact, there was many arguments about making it an attrition war but, in the end, the army intelligence officers had chosen to have a final showdown. They might have even pulled some strings behind us. 」
Moore’s brows twitched with displeasure.
The upper echelons of the Kingdom had chosen a choice advantageous to the enemy’s side, it isn’t any good news for those who are actually fighting on the frontline.
However, that wasn’t Moore’s only concern.
「The Empire’s base is quite strange? 」
「With that much people and time, they could’ve built an even tougher base……」
The thin guy was deep in his thoughts.
「……Wouldn’t it because they had to take their time in an unfamiliar land? Even if they won the first fight, it’s still an enemy territory for the Empire. They might’ve been on guard while working, thus not progressing much. 」
Moore wanted to sigh. What the thin man said made sense, and that’s what Moore thinks himself too. But Moore wasn’t hoping for such answer from him.
「Might’ve, might’ve……. More enthusiasm, where are your guts! Why can’t you give a more concrete opinion? 」
「I am just merely advising captain, I’m just giving the possible scenarios that had happened. It’s captain’s role to make the final decision after all. 」
The man explained so without any expressions. Moore didn’t hide his displeasure and complained.
「Don’t say like it doesn’t concern you, albeit vice, you’re still someone on the higher end of the command chain. 」
「Please don’t worry. If captain goes down, I will properly give out orders 」
「Goes down, huh……」
Moore seemed a little down at the bleak premonition. Moore became silent stood there for a while, and then thought of something.
「Why not substitute me right now? 」
「I refuse. There’s no way the mercenaries will listen to my instructions. 」
But the vice commander’s reply was cold. With an uninterested face towards Moore, the vice commander changed the topic, 「Leaving that aside」.
「The matter just now, I will appeal it upwards. 」
「Just now, meaning? 」
Moore tilted his head.
「The base that the Empire built wasn’t as thorough as expected. 」
Moore showed his understanding, but his expression wasn’t bright.
「Though I think it’s useless to report it at all. 」
In the first place, the opinion from someone that the upper echelons don’t see well with, he didn’t think the blessed nobles would even consider it. Moore who is a captain albeit a commoner has enemies all around. No, rather than enemies, they’re friendlies that wouldn’t help him even if he’s in a pinch.
For them of nobilities, Moore is someone insignificant too worthless to be even considered. They weren’t that despicable to try and plot against Moore but, there’s probably no chance Moore would get a helping hand if he messed up somewhere. That’s why he was dumped the role of commanding the mercenary unit after all.
Moore is playing quite the important role in this war. The mercenary unit he commands will be the most forefront of the center frontline. Just like what the mercenaries had talked last night, they would be sortied at the most dangerous position.
Being the frontliner sounds good but, they are advancing into trap holes and fences, and above all are the arrows and magic spells that will be casted from behind those obstacles.
As a response to the Empire’s formation, the Kingdom had spread out its army horizontally as well. The center would be three thousand men including the mercenaries, left wing with two thousand, and the right wing would be three thousand including their precious cavalry.
But in fact, there are only two thousand men in the center portion excluding those that will stay behind at the headquarters. And among those would be five hundred mercenaries commanded by Moore attacking aggressively as ordered.
Although it’s a makeshift base, it’s not an easy task to avoid long-ranged attacks from the front while dodging fences or holes. On top of that, the Empire has the upper hand in numbers. In any case, Moore can only rely on the mercenaries’ individual excellency.
To gauge how capable the mercenaries are, Moore had visited them one by one and appraised them. Unlike a proper army, a mercenary’s individual power differs greatly.
But unlike soldiers, mercenaries are used to betting their lives in actual combat against beasts and demonic beings, Moore had already found a few that looks promising.
Though, the vice-commander didn’t seem to agree to his actions, as he is a military man through and through.
「I don’t think there was a need at all for captain to barge into the mercenaries’ tents one by one. 」
His tone was thorny likely because of that.
「Even if they are paid to fight, mercenaries would prefer to fight under a commander that they’ve talked with rather than someone they had never seen before. 」
Exactly because that he was once a mercenary, he could understand the the mercenaries. Anyone would prefer listening to a commander who treats them as an individual rather than a commander who treats them as pawns.
Even if mercenaries are hired with money, they are not to be used as sacrificial pawns.
「So? Any useful mercenaries? 」
The vice-commander didn’t intend to beat around the bushes and went straight into the point.
「Guess so. There’s the 『Bright Stars of White Night』 famous in Thoria. Also, seems like the 『Three Great Demons Subjugator』 from before is here too. 」
Moore’s meaningful words made the vice-commander’s mouth turn into a smirk.
「Well that’s, a very good news indeed. 」
The unit that is expected to clash with the Empire first, the figures of Ardis and the others could be seen within.
「It became exactly like what the commander said yesterday huh. Though it’s imaginable already. 」
Ted muttered grumblingly.
「Well, nothing we can do about. We are mercenaries after all, looks like the Empire has mercenaries at the center too. Mercenaries versus mercenaries it is. 」
It was a tone unlike prior to a war from Norris.
「Tch, I know. No good things will ever bless mercenaries, that is. 」
「Yes yes. If you’re still getting caught up by that now, it will be a distraction later. You better change your gears now. 」
Even said so by Orphellia, Ted had no choice but to put on his serious mode.
「Hmph. Guess we’d need to do some work for the compensation and not die huh. And the best scenario is to deal with the commander on the other side quickly huh. 」
Where Ted was looking, the representative from both armies were talking to each other. The scene where two armies were lining up between them looked like a solemn ceremony of some sort.
「Won’t some other squad circle around the main unit while they’re doing stuff like that? 」
Ardis who had an expression of not understanding, Ted and the others retorted.
「What the heck you’re saying. 」
「Ahaha, an interesting opinion. 」
「That would be a little……」
It wasn’t like Ardis was joking.
For him, if they had time to talk so peacefully for so long with the enemy, there would be a lot of time for them to initiate an attack first. Catching the enemy’s gap in an instant, stabbing the throat, confirming their death. That wouldn’t change no matter in a group battle or an individual battle, that is what Ardis thought.
But a common sense like that isn’t of use here. Even mercenaries who are often in danger like Ted and the other two are saying, 『War is something like that』.
Leaving aside small skirmishes, the battle this time is an important event to decide each other’s legitimacy and claims. Since both the Kingdom and the Empire is fighting under the banner of their causes, they wouldn’t be able to get their causes recognized even if they won if they neglected this.
Ardis who listened so was dumbfounded. Leaving aside whatever causes, the losing side wouldn’t even have the chance to complain.
「What a peaceful talk huh……」
A black-haired young man said such out of place words in the most significant war, but no one paid it any mind. With the talk of both representatives over, after deciding on the morality of the war, the two commanders of each army had finally given the order to move.
In such an organized fashion, the one war deciding the fate of the Kingdom started.