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Volume 4: Chapter 280 – Prelude to the Battle of Bandigam (1/4)
After losing the short encounter with the goblins, the Sacred Empire of Altigand was forced to slightly withdraw their influence over the region. The Gaidga Tribe led by Rashka and Gi Za Zakuend had successfully blinded Altigand by thoroughly crushing their information network in the mountainous region.
Altigand’s main force were the Holy Knights, military forces under the ‘church’.
The members of the three companies of holy knights were not made up only of the vanguard that believed the ancestor god, Ativ, to be the greatest god, but also those that excelled in individual combat. Their failure to pose a threat in the earlier encounter with the Gaidga Tribe was partly because of inexperience and partly because it was a surprise attack.
They had to make their way through that mountainous region on a tight schedule, while keeping alert of their surroundings the whole day, and when they finally reached their destination, they still had to make camp. To people unused to such campaigns, such a march was bound to be exhausting both mentally and physically. It was amidst that exhaustion that the Gaidga took them by surprise, and as a result, they could not show their usual strength and were easily defeated.
The first and second companies dispatched by the church arrived at Fort Bandigam and quickly rendezvoused with the third company.
In order to clear their name, they took on guard duty for Bandigam and patrolled the areas nearby. With the surveillance network of the mountainous region destroyed, their patrols were limited to daytime, and they always had to be alert of
As for the third company that suffered in the last encounter, no actual punishment was given out to allow them to recover as quickly as possible.
“…But this is…”
“It’s good to be serious, but don’t get too worked up about it. Victory and defeat is just part of being a soldier.”
Eleanor, the commander of the third holy knight company, trembled in shame, but Gerald Hohengam, the commander of the first company, only gently admonished her.
As a man from a prominent family from the east, he had an aristocratic personality, but it was his abilities that allowed him to secure the position of a holy knight commander.
“You look terrible. Have you been sleeping properly?”
The commander of the second company, Judith Farne, lifted Eleanor’s slender chin with her finger.
But Eleanor’s mouth remained taut.
“How about at least doing something about those dark circles under your eyes? They’ll only make the soldiers more anxious.”
The tall Judith said with a sweet smile before letting go of her chin and patting her head.
“See you later.”
But despite the comforting words of her two seniors, the girl stood there petrified.
“I can’t believe that tomboy is actually this depressed. How unexpected,” Judith said.
“Oh? But don’t you think it’s adorable that she at least has a part of her that acts her age?” Gerald said with a smile.
“That girl is like a little sister to me. I don’t enjoy seeing her depressed. There’s no denying that she’s adorable, however,” Judith said.
“Such beautiful sisterhood. But I wouldn’t want that to be the cause of a mistake.”
“You think we could lose to unbelievers?”
“Is it so hard to believe? Your beloved sister was so thoroughly beaten just recently.”
Gerald pointed out with an elegant laugh, and Judith reached out for the sword by her waist with a smile.
“God won’t permit it. That’s why it’s impossible for me to lose.”
“I see… Oh, I’m going this way.”
Gerald turned heel and excused himself, and Judith walked away. Gerald turned just a little again to see her off.
“Judith the Zealot, huh. I hope you can perform at your best.”
Now, how could he use her and Eleanor best? As a smile surfaced on Gerald, he continued along his any.
Word of the wondrous battle result during the brief encounter with Altigand’s forces reached the capital of the late Elfa and spread with Rashka’s triumphant return.
“That was supposed to be a diversion, not an attack!”
Gi Zu Ruo grit his teeth in frustration at Rashka’s achievements, but to most of the soldiers, victory was victory, so they welcomed it with open arms.
“It is a troublesome thing indeed…”
But Prime Minister Pale Symphoria, who had great influence over all aspects of the kingdom, be it in politics, economy, or the military, also wryly smiled when she received the report.
“But achievements are achievements. And there is no reason to ignore it.”
Now that they were right on the verge of conquering the entire continent, Pale Symphoria herself chased after the king and was now in the frontlines herself. Without her as the brains, it was unlikely that an unprecedented giant kingdom like theirs would have taken shape this quickly.
“I suppose It’s a bit hasty to go an all out offense with just this opportunity.”
The Goblin King, who was now in good health and somewhat duty-bound to swing his sword in the front lines, folded his arms and glared at the map.
“How are those tunnels going?”
“They’re about 70% complete. Rushing the progress any further will risk a cave-in. So please wait until next month for its completion.”
“Hmm. In that case, should we pressure the enemy in the meantime? We could build a fortress in the mountainous region to use as a bridgehead and take Fort Bandigam for ourselves.”
Pale nodded and showed the king the options they could use to realize it.
One option was to utilize crossbows to protect against the wyverns. Another option was to build the fortress with not just wood and stone but with durable iron as well.
“A sturdy fortress sounds nice, but… Do we have enough iron?”
“That is precisely why the Iron Country exists, Your Majesty.”
The Goblin King nodded and supported Pale’s words.
“An attack from both the surface and underground should be able to take down any fortress no matter how strong.”
“We’ll have Rashka and Gi Gu Verbena handle the surface, and have Gi Zu Ruo handle the attack underground.”
“That’s a big role.”
“I believe he’s man enough to handle it.”
“I’m sure he’ll be moved to tears.”
“Perhaps,” the Goblin King laughed.
“Just a little bit more, and this country too will be ours. When that happens, the conquest of the continent will at long last be complete.”
“And Your Majesty’s name will be immortalized to be remembered forever. Along with our kingdom.”
The Goblin King and Prime Minister Pale turned to the distant azure sky, at the end of their sight was none other than that land they would invade.