A few days pa.s.sed since the probing offensive led by me, and the ally camp finds itself engulfed by a strangely feverish atmosphere.
「Message from the Military Commissioner. "The all-out attack remains at dawn as scheduled", is what he says.」
I nod at the messenger.
This is good. I want to escape this tumultuous situation quickly too.
Being excited before a battle is fine, but this is on a different level.
「The stench is unbearable too.」
Celia pinches her nose adorably.
She was saying not too long ago that she eagerly wanted to increase her accomplishments this time as well.
「This strategy is the definition of improper, although I'm not one to talk.」
「Yes. It's a clever scheme, where only our efforts would be wasted if we fail and we wouldn't be setback. We'll see if it works first, and if not, we'll switch to a frontal approach.」
Tristan grabs his tea to drink, but his mood is ruined by the foul smell and he's forced to set his cup down.
「Anyways, let's hurry. It stinks.」
I thought we were having a meal before battle, but that wasn't the case.
Irijina is also fussing about how bad it smells.
「Luna-san, that's for strategic purposes. You must not touch it!」
「M-my apologies. I thought we were having pig meat as a pre-battle meal.」
Luna is up to something over on her side.
We have to wait until dawn. If we don't do it at daybreak, it apparently has half the effect.
I reluctantly sat down on the spot.
When I did, something let out an unpleasant squeal.
The cage was kicked to silence the source of the noise.
And so, the sun rose.
「Commence the operation.」
Erich raises his sword and points it toward the enemy camp.
「March forward! Maintain a line formation.」
「Match your pace with the soldier next to you. I don't want anyone stepping out in front of anyone.」
Commanders shouted countless orders to get their respective squads moving in an orderly manner――or tried to.
「There is a noticeable difference between the militia and the regular army.」
Celia folds her arms with a troubled expression on her face.
Telling my army or the Royal army once was enough for them to act instantly, whereas the provisional squads consisting of mainly conscripted soldiers struggled initially and needed their superior officers to yell repeatedly at them before they finally moved forward.
I was told 100 000 of the regular army was supposed to be strengthened by 100 000 of militia, one half at a time, but I don't have to count to distinguish who is who with how obvious the disparity is. The only reason the citizens are useful is because of the camps.
「It will be a challenge to lead them.」
「The enemy has to deal with the same problem.」
Our actions were seen by the enemy and they have started to move accordingly.
Being on an open field with a clear field of view and our camps relatively close to each other, there was nothing we could do to hide when the morning sun shone down.
It looks like the other side is preparing to defend by moving soldiers to defensive structures and they are similarly sluggish like us.
From what I can see, they have a greater number of soldiers, which means their proportion of conscripts should be higher.
By the time we finish getting ready, the enemy also completes their preparations.
Although the attack is early in the morning, there is no element of surprise.
「The surprise will start here, I guess…… oh right, that's the signal.」
A flaming arrow notified soldiers to open up a path for multiple cages to be pushed out onto the frontlines.
Mixed in with metal cages are wooden ones that clearly appear to be constructed in a hurry.
The wheels attached to them made annoying squeaking sounds as they rolled.
「Push them forward! Make way!」
「Don't stand in front of the cages! Spearmen, line up.」
Spear-wielding soldiers align themselves slightly behind the cages.
Normally, the attacking side would position light infantry or cavalry in front, so this kind of formation was definitely odd.
「No hard feelings!」
Tongs were stuck into flames until they turned bright red and then shoved into the cages.
The following screeches and creaking of the cages from the flailing creatures within them were loud enough to make the prior squeaking of the wheels seem like nothing.
「Point your spears out! Wave your torches!」
Axes were swung to cut the ropes linked to the cages, opening the hatches facing the enemy.
A large herd of…… something of a different species let out piercing cries as they were set free.
Innumerable shadows rushed toward the enemy camp.
They didn't belong to fellow soldiers.
「Beasts and monsters……eh?」
Liberated from confinement were monsters…… mostly goblins and other beasts such as boars and deer.
A hot iron was pushed against the flesh of the poor animals right as the cages were opened, causing them to run out in a frenzied state.
Furthermore, spears were used to drive the creatures away from our allies and toward the enemy.
「If this was done on a normal battlefield, they would scatter in all directions. Here, we have only the enemy camp in front of us. If we block them from going backward, they can only run forward.」
For that reason, ally spearmen were standing in front to threaten the beasts.
「While they're running, their primal instincts will take over and they will only think about getting free…… I'm surprised the general's boss was able to think of this plan.」
Yakov watches in amazement.
Erich is someone who doesn't care what methods he uses to win, but I'm pretty sure he was heavily influenced by Leopolt.
If he had his way, he would probably go as far as using humans instead.
「The beasts have reached the enemy camp!」
They move fast as expected. Now then, let's see what happens.
My eyes narrow and focus on the enemy camp.
「What are these things!? Lots of animals? Wait, there are goblins in the mix too!」
「Wasn't it supposed to be an all-out attack!? Uwaah, there are so many of them!!」
I see panic.
Well, even I would be surprised in the beginning at the use of such a bizarre tactic.
Their panic did not grow or spread and it didn't cause their lines to collapse.
It was a natural reaction.
Although boars, wolves and goblins are dangerous creatures, that would be from the perspective of defenseless travelers or farmhands, not armed soldiers. Orcs or harpies of the same number would give an army trouble though.
Tristan speaks in his usual aloof tone, his eyes somewhat sharp.
「If they fall apart from this, they can't really be called an army. Oops, that's technically not true. They can't be called a regular army.」
The section where the enemy's regular army was thought to be remained steadfast, however, if you s.h.i.+ft your eyes a little to the side……
「Look carefully! They aren't orcs or dragons. They're only boars, deer and wolves…… even the monsters are mostly goblins and maybe a few hobgoblins! They're nothing to be scared of!」
「Don't leave the camp and take them down one at a time! Hey, don't run!」
「They invaded the camp? So what!? It's not a big deal if a single wolf got inside! Our allies will finish it off, so focus on what's in front of you and don't turn back!」
It's quite pitiful even from where I'm watching.
「They're in disarray.」
The difference in mental state between the regular army and militia is clear even at a distance.
Enemy conscripts would fire arrows haphazardly and swing their spears wildly in an attempt to ward off the incoming herd of beasts and monsters.
Moreover, they would run at the sight of a hand appearing on top of the fences.
A single wolf sneaking into the camp was enough to cause confusion, causing soldiers on the frontlines to leave their posts and start chasing it away.
Worse yet, the reactions to a goblin throwing rocks or a boar charging into someone were on the same level as if a dragon showed up.
Three messengers come running in my direction.
「Luna-sama of the bow cavalry asks, "can we move out yet?"」
「Tell her to wait some more.」
「Irijina-sama asks, "is it okay to go now?"」
「Tell her to do some practice swings.」
「The Aless unit says, "heading out now"」
「Tell them if they do anything on their own, they'll be shot from behind.」
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Erich's orders are to remain on standby.
A melee broke out.
「Provisional squad three has successfully entered enemy lines!」
「Provisional squad five was repelled by the enemy!」
The battle went back and forth with both sides taking turns to attack and defend.
Such a seesaw was not necessarily a good thing.
It was a mess from the start, so the convoluted melee naturally devolved into a free-for-all.
It got to the point where soldiers became extremely paranoid, mistaking goblins that occasionally appeared for enemies and slas.h.i.+ng them.
Not a trace of organization could be detected and n.o.body could find where the line of defense was anymore.
Three messengers come running again.
「Luna-sama of the bow cavalry asks, "can we move out now?"」
「Tell her to wait a little longer.」
「Irijina-sama says, "I want to go now!"」
「Tell her to do some warm-up exercises. Stretching is important.」
「The Aless units says, "it's time to go"」
「Tell them that if they go, we'll blast them with cannons.」
I have to wait too even though I'm starting to get impatient.
If I was commander, I would have already gone. Fighting under Erich always gives me anxiety.
Anyways, the battlefield has plunged into chaos now.
「Our second objective has been achieved. Behold.」
Leopolt points at the enemy.
Those who were unfazed by the monster attacks――in other words, the enemy's regular army, are s.h.i.+fting because they're trying to support their fl.u.s.tered allies.
「This is our goal. When chaos reaches the limit, the enemy commander is unable to ignore it any longer and he has to mobilize the elite members to a.s.sist the others. And no matter how elite they may be, if they move in the chaos……」
「Reinforcements are here! Leave the goblins alone and focus on fighting whatever's in front of you…… like I said, don't run around unnecessarily!」
「Don't stand in front of the wall of spears! Aargh, fall back 20 meters and reorganize!」
「Don't squeeze in the archer line! If you ignore the rules, you'll be executed!」
「Dragons, orcs, and heavy cavalry!? They're nowhere to be seen! Give accurate reports, you idiots!」
Although the enemy's regular army isn't affected directly, their fellow recruits run around and get in their way, preventing them from moving the way they want. This is probably infuriating to the commander.
「This inevitably results from joining a chaotic battlefield. In addition, the areas they support may still collapse if they pull out, so they can't really move.」
「We've practically attached fetters to the enemy elite.」
Leopolt and Tristan offer their thoughts.
「On the other hand, our elites are free to move and aim at them.」
Finally, the long-awaited order to attack was given by headquarters.
The rest of our army marches forward, accompanied by the loud stomping of military boots.
「This is first war dating back to the start of the Central Plains. I'll definitely increase my accomplishments!」
Celia is cute as she trembles with excitement.
I pose a question to Leopolt as I match the pace of the infantry while riding Schwartz.
「What's our rate of success?」
「If we're looking only at this place, about 50%.」
That's surprisingly low considering how disorganized they are.
「Their state of mind may be compromised, but their army size hasn't changed. They still have the benefits of a large military force and strong defensive encampments.」
I'm sure he's right. Leopolt wouldn't act unless he had pretty much foresaw our victory.
「All possible moves in the present time have been made. If we can't win with that, then we couldn't have won no matter what. It's better to attack now if our chances of victory can go no higher than 50% or if there are no further improvements to the plan. Everything else will depend on the fight on the frontlines.」
Hearing that made me smile.
I pat Leopolt softly on the chest.
「Then we're fine. I'm here.」
Leopolt lowered his head a tiny bit and Tristan smiled nervously.
Celia is breathing deeply and only staring straight at the enemy camp.
The Aless unit, bow cavalry, 105th army corps and Celia's battalion all gave a short shout in response.
There was no doubt this battle was one that would decide the fate of Goldonia and South Yuguria.
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