Game of the Monarch - Chapter 16
If they were to launch a large-scale, full-on attack the coming spring, it meant that they needed to stockpile supplies to the utmost this winter. Food provisions were essential, but other must-have goods were weapons, clothing, and whatever else to stake the winter out…
Military resupplying was one of those things that was endless by nature.
On top of that, the forts of the Grey Mountains were slated to become a forward base for disseminating supplies while advancing the allied forces. Consequently, the sheer quantity of goods to be secured for stockpiling was incomparable to last year.
For Milton, this was a golden opportunity to make some money.
‘As they say, sail your ship when the tide comes in.’
Milton decided to capitalize on this opportunity a little more aggressively.
While purchasing the supply goods, he simultaneously traded on the side with the Pratinos merchants who were well-disposed to him. He invested his personal funds to produce some useful items for the soldiers.
With the knowledge that Milton had, it was impossible to manufacture firearms or chemical weapons. However, there were some valuable things that could be made when combined with this world’s craftsmanship.
A personal use canteen, a shovel, military boots… These were all things that this world had the capability to produce – but no one had thought of it as of yet. Milton tasked the merchants with manufacturing these goods and shipping them to the troops.
The Command Center of the Western Front acknowledged the usefulness of these goods and permitted their purchase. Through this, Milton was able to make a handsome profit through his proposal of this business idea and subsequent investment.
Now, Milton had made enough money to remunerate his debt and still have some left. This meant he had reached the goal with which he had joined this war in the first place.
He was thinking of applying for honorable discharge around when winter passed next year and spring came.
‘Now all that’s left is for time to pass without any hiccups.’
At last, Milton felt that all his problems were being solved.
As much as the winning side had freedom of mind, the losing side on the other hand were bound to be desperate.
“Damn sons of bitches, those little shits in Command are worse than dogs…”
A relentless string of curses trailed out from the mouth of one man.
“It’s because Command is rotten to the core that our Republic keeps losing. Shitfaced bastards…”
Words which, if heard by others, was sufficient to be deemed treason worthy of execution flowed out nonchalantly. One could deduce this man was not in the right state of mind when they saw the bottles of liquor rolling by around him.
The man was Frederic. He was the young commander who had planned, and personally spearheaded, the recent operation of crossing the Grey Mountains and carrying out a surprise assault on Pratinos — which had been serving as the enemy’s supply depot.
Frankly, he had felt up until this moment that life was pretty easy.
He was capable as a soldier, and was skilled enough in the art of living so as not to make any jealous enemies. Thus, it was ensured that he would rocket through promotions by making achievements and contributions on par with his abilities, provided only that he made proper use of them.
The result of this was his meteoric rise through the ranks compared to his peers. At this breakneck pace, he had moved all the way up to the rank of Captain, and now only had one more stair to climb before he could assume the position of Major.
At least that was the case, but…
Everything was botched with just one mistake.
He himself admitted it: the failure of this operation was most certainly his own fault. It was common knowledge that it would turn into a precarious situation if the enemy knew of their presence and prepared ambushers when they entered the Valley of the Winds. But it appeared that arrogance had found its place in some corner of Frederic’s mind, one that he himself had not known about – perhaps because he had been on a roll of success after success for a while. He did not even consider the possibility that the operation he had so meticulously prepared for would fail.
The price of that was a defeat which shook him to the bones.
To Frederic, who had lived the first half of his life so easily until now, this was his first failure.
No matter how competent one is, they can fail. The important thing is to learn a lesson from that failure and not repeat the same sequence of events again.
But here was the problem: it seemed Frederic would not be given a second chance.
The original objective of this operation was to minimize the harm caused by this year’s famine to the Hildess Republic, by causing the same amount of harm to the enemy. But as soon as this operation failed, the Command of the Hildess Republic slyly slid over the responsibility for the worsening supply situation to Frederic.
‘Frederic drew up an infeasible operation, and the consumption of resources from that is causing the present problem with supplies,’ was the gist of how they tossed it over.
The circumstances were enough to drive him nuts.
Even if he himself had lost, the failure of his operation was of no connection to the deterioration of the supply situation. This deterioration had occurred because the Republic was undergoing a famine; and because their allies, the Hanovirtue Republic and Kobrook Republic, reduced their food commodity exports by half.
So how was it his fault? It was a clear shifting of blame.
Although it was as plain as day that the enemy would come knocking down their door come spring next year, the Command Center, not wanting any chips on their long careers, were busy playing politics and transferring the responsibility for this matter to a frontline commander.
“Sons… of bitches… all those trashy little bastards would not even be worth feeding to the dogs…”
The most stifling thing for Frederic was that, although the Command Center was so blatantly stepping all over him… There was not a single thing he could do about it.
It had been a while since the string of connections he had made within the Command Center through his past merits were cut off. They all affirmed Frederic’s failure and treated him not as a competent officer like previously, but rather as a spanner in the works that needed to be removed.
Consequently, there was nothing he could do even as he watched his downfall creeping up on him day by day. The despair and frustration quickly made this once-promising young man into a surrendered pessimist. Such was Frederic’s current dilemma.
While Frederic was in this state, his aide urgently sought him out.
“Captain Frederic, are you inside?”
“What matter is it?”
As Frederic responded irritatedly in his drunkenness, the aide approached him and slid forth a letter.
“This mail was addressed to you, Captain.”
“A letter? What, is my removal from this office settled then? Or is it to the jailhouse for me?”
“That’s… I’d say you should probably look at this firsthand.”
Frederic narrowed his eyes as he read the contents of the letter. And little by little, any undertones of intoxication evaporated from his face.
“This is… can we trust this?”
“I ventured that this is something you should judge for yourself, Captain.”
Frederic made a grave expression and fell into thought. Was this legitimate?
If this was real, it could well be enough to turn around this dilemma he was facing. But if it was fake…
After much consideration, Frederic shut his eyes tight and spoke to his aide.
“Prepare the unit at once. We are moving.”
Frederic ultimately resolved in his heart; if he were to do nothing in his present state, he would be ruined anyway. From the look of things, there was no way that the Command Center would leave him alive.
Then he had to do whatever it took before that. And right now, this letter’s details were possibly the one and only avenue through which he could struggle and lash out.
“Shit, how did I end up in this state…”
As for now, he only sincerely hoped that the contents of this letter were the truth.
Louis Walker. He was born as the only son of the Walker County. Although the noble peerage of the Walker House was that of Count, they flourished through commerce and accumulated enough wealth to well surpass any other Marquis, making them a prominent House. Yet the House’s Count and Countess Walker could not bear a single child.
Perhaps this House was not very fruitful by nature, but Count Walker could not see to his own children even as he passed the age of 40, and eventually determined that he would need to bring in someone from a distant relative as a foster son. And in those dire moments, his wife suddenly became pregnant. The son born in these circumstances was, indeed, Louis Walker.
The Count was exceedingly happy and raised Louis to the best of his ability in every which way. If Louis wanted something, it was placed into his hands. He was never reproached and raised to be overflowing with confidence. Louis made mistakes from time to time, but the Count loved his son so much that he tolerated it and could not bring himself to object.
To put it bluntly...
The Count and Countess were some of the worst parents possible.
Having been raised in such a manner, Louis did not have a drop of patience, and did not consider or care for others. He was only filled with the extremely selfish thought that all things of this world existed solely for him.
Having lived by this mantra, Louis encountered something that was not within his grasp for the first time at the age of 16.
It was the woman known as the Flower of the Strabus Kingdom: Princess Laila.
Louis was infatuated the moment he laid his eyes on her, and told his father that he will make her his woman. But Count Walker said that such a thing was impossible.
Princess Laila already had a betrothed, and with the eldest son of Duke Baikal at that, who had considerably more authority than the Walker House. Even though House Walker was a fairly prominent family, they could not ever intervene in an engagement between the Crown and a duchy.
Past the point of whether it was possible, merely attempting such a deed in itself was paramount to political suicide.
Count Walker reasoned with his son well and convinced him of this fact. At least that was what he thought.
But Louis had not given up.
If there’s something you can’t put in your hands through above-board measures, take it by force. This was the moral lesson that Louis took away from growing under his mushy parents.
His past experiences made him think by default: ‘even if I cause a scene, I’m sure my father will handle everything.’
And so with foolish gusto, Louis approached the Crown princess at a party and stealthily spiked her drink. Then pretending he was helping her out, he slipped out from the party with the collapsed lady. Louis acted with the groundless misconception that her heart would follow, if he first made her his woman in body at least.
However, the Strabus Kingdom’s royal guards were not so slow as to allow the flimsy Louis to succeed in his act. Princess Laila’s escort knights acted promptly as soon as they sensed something was wrong.
They found Princess Laila just as the rascal was frantically trying to untie her dress string.
Needless to say, the knights subdued Louis and unsympathetically detained him. In the midst of this, Louis objected to his arrest and spouted that he was not at fault, and other such drivel – but those words fell on deaf ears when he had been caught in the act.
Count Walker was appalled.
He knew his son was one to frequently cause trouble, but he did not ever imagine that he would cause such a momentous mess. There was not a single thing he could say even as the Crown ordered the immediate execution of Louis.
Count Walker desperately begged for forgiveness and implored a change of mind, donating colossal sums of money to the royal household. He pleaded only that they spare his son’s life.
At Count Walker’s appeal, the royal Crown reduced Louis’ punitive sentence.
All things considered, they needed to let the world know about the wrongdoing for which he was being executed – but doing so could also affect Princess Laila’s honor and dignity. As a result, there were also voices suggesting that handling this quietly may be the better alternative from a political standpoint.
Consequently, Louis Walker was sentenced to a life in the Grey Mountains, warring as long as he breathed.
Although his life was spared, he was not permitted to leave the Grey Mountains under any circumstances, and had to serve up his body for his nation in the war with the Republics for as long as he lived. Count Walker had burned through a mountainous sum of his fortune for this to happen, but all he had to show for it was the basic relief that his son was alive.
However, after being boxed up in the Grey Mountains, Louis Walker’s discontent grew day by day.
Having lived in the glamorous capital, he did not like the fact that he had to lead this rough life in a warzone, and also came to despise his father for not rescuing him from these circumstances. He thought that his wrongdoing was not serious enough to warrant this severe of a punishment, and believed that his current treatment was unjust.
Truthfully, it was beyond ludicrous for a lowlife that tried to violate a country’s princess to be having such thoughts, but the one called Louis was just that kind of human. No matter what deed he committed, he was someone who self-rationalized and justified his own actions.
Penitence? Atonement? These were emotions that Louis had never had once since being born.
In these times where his discontent was piling on day by day, the one that well and truly lit the fuse on this pile was Milton.
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