Otherworld Nation Founding Chronicles – Chapter 147
The First Southern Conquest 3
“This makes two wins for me.”
Bartolo was drinking as he watched the castle gates being slowly opened.
A mere four days after the battle began, Bartolo had already caused two cities to surrender.
The first city took him three days, and the second city was defeated in a single day.
There were a few reasons behind this overwhelming speed.
One such reason was that the city’s walls weren’t that sturdy, and their foundations were shallow.
And it was a rather small city, with a population of less than 10,000 people.
Once besieged, they fell easily.
The second reason was Bartolo’s siege weaponry.
Bartolo had expected the newly conquered Cretian cities would eventually revolt.
Therefore, Alms and Bartolo had prepared a large amount of siege weaponry in advance.
They proved to be powerful assets in getting these cities to surrender.
And the third reason was…
“Had you surrendered before our battering rams ‘Aries’ hit your walls, I would have increased your taxes and demanded compensation, but I could have let you retain your autonomy. Had you instead surrendered after our Aries hit your walls, your lives would be spared, but your assets and autonomy would not. And had you not surrendered until your city had fallen, those who survived our siege would have been enslaved. You surrendered after our Aries hit your walls, but before the city fell. So you get to keep your lives.”
Bartolo kept enjoying his drink.
Then he looked down on the city’s messenger who had just informed him of their surrender, and ordered him with a penetratingly cold voice:
“The three thousand residents are to leave these walls. You have an hour. You can only take clothes with you. You will not be allowed to carry any money.”
“B-But… At least, our farming tools…”
“Do you have a death wish?”
Bartolo was ruthless.
The messenger hung his head and accepted his words.
An hour later, all the inhabitants of the city had been locked out of the walls.
After confirming that all of the inhabitants had been taken out without incidents, Bartolo turned to the soldiers.
“You now have my permission to loot the city. But you are absolutely forbidden from fighting each other over loot. You are to submit everything to me once you are done. I will then distribute the loot among you according to your achievements. I hope you can be done with this in no more than three hours.”
The soldiers cheerfully made their way through the city.
Cretian cities were far more abundant and held many more riches than Adernian cities and villages.
This was a city worth looting.
The soldiers then broke into every house, taking everything they could from them: paintings, pottery, metalwork, silverwork, jewelry, money, glass windows, farming tools, weapons, and even the very wood and stone of the houses.
In no time, the city was reduced to ravaged ruins.
Bartolo had also ordered oil and gunpowder to be poured throughout the entire city once they had finished looting.
And that time had come. Just as the sun was about to set.
“Go on, light it up.”
Bartolo’s orders were to set the entire city on fire.
The fire quickly ignited the oil and gunpowder that had been poured all over the place, quickly engulfing the entire city.
The red flames’ intense light caused the area around the city to be so brightly lit that it looked as if the sun had changed its mind, going back up to shine only over the city for a while longer.
“Oh yeah, now this is a nice view! Ahahaha!!”
Bartolo was in a very good mood. And he kept on drinking.
The Cretians and Adernians, on the other hand, shed tears as they looked at their city being consumed by the fire.
“Are you sure about this? Isn’t this a bit too flashy?”
“We have spared those who have surrendered to His Majesty. The insubordinate ones have been thoroughly beaten up and exiled. There’s no problem with this.”
Still drinking, Bartolo answered the question of the worried Roswald.
The first city had resisted violently and became an urban warfare after its fall.
In response to this, Bartolo burned down that city to the ground, killed all of its leaders, and sold all of its remaining inhabitants into slavery.
The second city, on the other hand, quickly surrendered, since they knew what the first city had gone through.
Thanks to that, their lives were spared.
Bartolo’s methods might be seen as cruel, but they were also very effective.
As a result of his efforts, the number of people killed in these battles was significantly reduced from what it could have been.
Naturally, Roswald understood this very well.
What Roswald was worried about, though, was how Alms felt about all this.
The fact that Alms’ occupying policy was rather soft was something well-known not only among his retainers or even throughout the nation, but even among the neighboring countries as well.
“Think about it one more time, Roswald. Has Our Majesty ever forgiven traitors or rebels? Enemies are enemies, so obviously there’s always going to be people who rebel against us. He has forgiven them because their strike hadn’t become an uprising. An armed revolt would have been much more difficult to deal with, don’t you think?”
Alms was only kind to friends and foes.
He had mercilessly purged traitors and rebels in the past.
Still, the incident where the commoners had surrounded the mansion of a powerful family was a remarkable exception, since that had been a slightly special case.
“His Majesty hasn’t given specific orders on how to deal with this. In other words, that decision was left to me. His Majesty won’t get angry about this either way.”
“Well, that’s great to hear… By the way, what are you going to do after this? According to the map, there’s a city with about 5,000 people a little farther away from here, right?”
Was he going to capture that area after daybreak?
Bartolo thought a little before answering Roswald’s question.
“Well, I have a thousand people dedicated to escorting the prisoners… I wonder how difficult it would be to occupy a city with only two thousand men? It’s probably about time our enemy gets back on their feet after our battle four days ago… Okay, we may have to stop marching around this area. The reinforcements sent by His Majesty should be arriving soon.”
“He’s being too flashy, isn’t he…?”
I looked at the point that was glowing with red light in the distance.
The light was swaying in the wind.
It was probably the flames of the city that Bartolo was burning to the ground.
“…Well, it might be difficult to subjugate the enemy without doing this much.”
The phrase “carrot and stick” came to mind.
Both of them were necessary to rule a country.
The Cretians had been given “carrots” in the form of autonomy, but they hadn’t been given any “sticks” so far.
We thought that by doing so, the war would end faster.
However, that plan had backfired.
From this point on, we had to be more strict.
“But even then, General Bartolo is amazing.”
Ron, who was watching the flames alongside me, muttered those words.
Bartolo had defeated 4,000 men with only 3,000 of his own, and managed to take two cities in a mere four days.
It was a speed impossible to achieve for an average commander.
“At first I thought he was nothing but a drunkard. Turns out he’s a drunkard who gets things done.”
The fact that he was a drunkard didn’t change.
I had never seen him without a bottle in his hand.
I wonder if that guy is going to end up dying of cirrhosis.
“You estimated that the enemy force was a little less than 15,000, right? Since General Bartolo defeated 4,000 of them, there should be around 10,000 left.”
“Well, that is as long as their will to fight remains unwavering. I believe that some cities are already thinking about alienating themselves from this conflict.”
And even if they didn’t, they would most likely be reluctant to go to war.
That’s how coalitions of city-states worked, after all.
The remaining number of enemy troops was probably around 8,000 at best.
Incidentally, I was leading a reinforcement army of 3,000 men, along with the 1,000 men that Bartolo had dispatched to escort the prisoners of war.
These men would join Bartolo’s 2,000 tomorrow, for a total of 6,000 men.
The numbers were still not in our favor, but with these many men, the difference would be irrelevant.
“What’s worrisome is Rezado’s attitude towards this.”
“I’ve sent Iar there. According to his last letter, they promised to take a proactively neutral stance. Though it’s possible that their congressmen themselves end up taking a supportive attitude of their own accord.”
Rezado was a country of traders.
The power of each and every wealthy merchant was stronger than that of the country.
In other words, the decisions made by the country itself weren’t very reliable.
There were many pro-Rosyths like Ains, and at the same time, there were many anti-Rosyths.
“We ought to crush them quickly, before they do something unexpected.”
The match would begin the next day.
“Your Majesty, I’ve been waiting for you.”
Since Bartolo didn’t move away from the fallen city, I was able to meet up with him quickly.
The city had already been burned down and reduced to nothing more than a black pile of charcoal.
“Well done. But how exactly did you manage to defeat 4,000 men? I’ve read your letter, but I’d like to hear it from your mouth.”
I asked Bartolo what his new tactics were and how he was able to win.
Smiling cheerfully, the high-spirited Bartolo explained his tactic. Then…
“I see… Well, if it works in the next battle, let’s officially make it our country’s main tactic. By the way, have you sent the scouts out? Do we know the enemy’s position and numbers?”
Bartolo opened his map.
“Here’s our current location, Your Majesty. There is a city with a population of about 10,000 about a day away from here. This city is the core of the rebellion. Currently, about 7,000 soldiers have gathered in it.”
“How about the towns and villages along the way?”
“It looks like they’re not going to help them out. Well, it’s too late now either way. They might be wondering if that’s the right decision to take. Probably all the towns and villages along the way are going to surrender.”
Those towns and villages weren’t that intimately close to each other that they would feel that they could win.
If they were to fear being abandoned by their neighboring towns and villages, it would only be natural for them to think that there was no need for them to get involved in the war.
“Do you think it will turn into a siege?”
“No, there’s no way it gets to that point. Well, as long as the enemy isn’t completely stupid, that is. I’ve heard that this city isn’t structured in a way that is suitable for a siege. And the enemy probably already knows about our siege weaponry. They’re probably going to want to settle this in a field battle. After all, they have more men than we do.”
In a siege battle, the defending side gets to enjoy a bit of an advantage.
However, they also lose the means to attack the moment the siege happens.
Opening their walls and meeting their enemy head-on becomes incredibly risky at that point.
A basic aspect of a siege battle is to fight once one is certain that reinforcements are coming for your side.
“The country is still in disarray. I was hoping for a quick settlement. …Can it be done?”
“But of course. Who do you think I am?”
Bartolo once again smiled cheerfully.
“I see. Well, I’m counting on you. I’m sure you can win this for us.”
I slapped on Bartolo’s shoulder.
Once this was all over, I would arrange for some good alcohol for the both of us.