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Volume 4: Chapter 280 – Prelude to the Battle of Bandigam (2/4)
“A reconnaissance mission?”
When Gulland heard what the messenger that came to him had to say, his lips twisted sarcastically.
“Yes. That is correct. We want you to lead the Margrave’s army to scout the enemy.”
“That’s absurd! You want us to enter a mountainous region crawling with goblins!?”
The other soldiers of the margrave’s army that were with Gulland started to raise a ruckus.
“Are you telling us to go and die!?”
“As expected of a holy knight! You’re so noble-minded, you don’t even understand the pain of us normal people!”
Curses of all sorts were thrown at him, but Yuan endured quietly. After all, they were right, and Yuan himself was aware that this mission would be accompanied by sacrifices.
“…Let’s accept it.”
When Gulland looked back into Yuan’s eyes, he could tell why he chose to bring this mission up with him.
“I’m not about to just turn away someone seeking my help,” Gulland said.
Now that even the elite knights of the Iron Country, Elfa, have been utterly defeated by the goblins, the only person capable of conducting this reconnaissance with the least amount of casualties was Gulland.
Gulland should have had some scruples given their history and Yuan’s current position, but he didn’t even hesitate to brave this danger. Gulland lightly patted Yuan on the shoulder and laughed.
“Hey, hey, you accepted it so easily, but there is a chance to succeed, right?”
After Yuan left, the soldiers of the margrave’s army understandably asked Gulland that.
Gulland said with a ferocious smile. The eyes of the soldiers bore deeply into him, but he brushed all of those aside as though nothing could be more natural.
“It’s true that the goblins have good noses and can see better in the night than humans. But that doesn’t mean they’re better than all living creatures in those aspects, right?”
“Well, yeah, I guess.”
“If so, then all we have to do is bring creatures that have even better eyes and noses than the goblins.”
“Is there really a convenient creature like that?”
“Yeah, there is. It’s—”
The next day, Gulland brought them a pack of big dogs.
“Yeah. We’ll be copying their biggest advantage. Hey, dog handler!”
The margrave’s army had a variety of talents during the reign of the previous margrave. Among those were experts known as dog handlers that specialized in handling dogs. The young man, Gulland called a dog handler, had with him 10 thick ropes as he led a pack of dogs in an orderly line as though they were a military unit.
“These are dogs trained for military purposes by a dog handler. They’re more obedient to orders than normal dogs, and are good with monsters too.”
As the soldiers opened their eyes wide in surprise, the dog handler puffed up his chest and handed over the dogs.
“Scouts, you will be accompanied by these dogs during the course of this mission. The formation you’ll be using is the fan formation.”
Gulland’s choice of formation that assigned many scouts around the main force so that they’ll be able to alert the main force whenever the enemy approached spoke volumes of his experience as a commander.
“Our objective is purely to scout. Avoid needless battles as much as possible.”
Like that, the margrave’s army led by Gulland departed from Fort Bandigam and entered the mountainous region where the forces of Alrodena were clamoring, allowing them to spot the fortress that was under construction.
That vital information was passed on to the main forces of Bandigam, the holy knights, causing a strike force that included the volunteer soldiers to be put together quickly.
“Someone has definitely trespassed.”
Gi Ji Arsil knitted his brows and snorted in displeasure.
“A bold enemy.”
“A different breed from all those mutts until now.”
Gi Ji Arsil laid out his frustrations to Gi Gi Orudo about his scouts’ inability to detect the enemy.
“But Gi Gu-dono is in charge of the command on the surface, right?”
Gi Gi Orudo asked in an attempt to reassure his unhappy friend.
“That’s true. I guess there’s no chance that we’ll be defeated then.”
“In that case, there’s no need to worry.”
Gi Ji and Gi Gi judged the situation as such, but it wasn’t actually that simple. And Altigand too did not think that they could be pushed this far so simply.
One reason behind their worsening position was Alrodena’s advantage in the dark, and another reason was the goblins’ physique that improved over human capabilities.
“In that case, how about we just change night to day?”
When Gerald, the commander of the first company of holy knights, proposed that, the people gathered in the war council glanced at each other with doubt.
“Our Hohengam family is an old family with a long, long history. We have clashed with monsters many times, and one boon from that is this.”
As he said that, he took out a small jar full of ointment.
“If you rub this on your eyes, you will be able to see in the dark. It’s one of the secrets of my house, but given the scale of the threat before us, I have no choice but to bring it out.”
The people around him were surprised by the sudden revelation of this secret ointment, and when they tried it out, they were indeed able to see in the dark. This was actually a drug favored by the Aranea, forgotten long ago by human society, but the Hohengam family still had it with them.
“We’ll have to prepare ourselves for a large-scale siege if we are to conquer a fortress.”
Judith said, and the representatives of the various armies nodded.
“As such, breaking through the demon king’s army will be of utmost priority.”
The representatives nodded to that too.
“But we can’t field a large army in the mountainous region, though a scouting team is more than doable.”
“…In other words, we need to lure the enemy to a location that’s advantageous to us and start a battle there, right?”
Gerald said as though to explain to the gathered representatives.
“…Now who will take on that role?”
Gerald’s gaze stopped on Rasdir, the leader of the Iron Bull Knights, and Gulland, the representative of the margrave’s army.
“Now I don’t mean to doubt the strength of the margrave’s army given the result of the scouting mission, but…”
Gulland snorted and looked out the window, while Rasdir closed his eyes and folded his arms. Neither had any intention of volunteering themselves to play the decoy. It was plain as day what the holy knights and the people from the east wanted from them.
They didn’t want to suffer casualties, so they were trying to push the unwanted role onto the mercenaries and the outsiders. No one wanted to sacrifice themselves, and it wouldn’t sit right with the soldiers anyway. If these people wanted them to risk their lives, then they had to give them something that would make it worth it.
That something could be money or a cause or something else, yet before the silent haggling could continue any further, a young girl still too young to be called a woman stood up.
“Please allow me to take on that role!”
Yes, that person that stood up with such intensity that the chair was kicked away was none other than Eleanor.