Otherworld Nation Founding Chronicles – Chapter 148
The First Southern Conquest 4
“Hmph… No matter how I look at it, the enemy seems to be preparing themselves for a siege battle, Bartolo… Are we to assume that they’re actually stupid? Or are we the fools here?”
“N-No… A siege under these circumstances is definitely a bad idea for them. This makes me think that perhaps… Perhaps they have reinforcements coming their way.”
Reinforcements? And where would those come from…?
“Your Majesty! A messenger hawk has arrived from one of the shamans who have snuck into the Cretian city-state!”
Soyon came through the tent’s entrance with great haste.
I had a general idea about what the message was going to be about.
“Reinforcements from the city-state outside the country? Considering that all the surrounding city-states are under the influence of Rezado and Gehenna…”
“No doubt Rezado’s merchants are going to want to sink their teeth into this.”
I was sure that if Rezado were to be questioned about this, they would deny it.
Although under their influence, each of the city-states and our country were related to different countries.
Rezado’s support would only come by way of each of its merchants at their own convenience.
They would argue that, as a country, they had always been neutral.
We had to keep in mind that we too were being backed by pro-Rosyth merchants, in particular, Ains.
No matter which side loses, the merchants always win.
Rezado’s way of doing things was very clever.
I opened the letter Soyon handed me.
Its contents were in line with my estimations.
“What should we do, Bartolo? It seems that the Cretian city-state has decided to send 5,000 soldiers here as reinforcements.”
Bartolo thought about it for a second, then opened his mouth.
“Can I have some alcohol?”
“If it helps you collect your thoughts…”
As soon as I gave him my answer, Bartolo took out a bottle of alcohol out of nowhere.
He then took a gulp out of it and closed his eyes.
After several seconds, he opened them again.
“In a sense, this is an opportunity for us. If we manage to defeat the enemy’s reinforcements, the besieged soldiers will be greatly demoralized.”
“I see. What do you intend to do specifically?”
“First, we’ll build some simple bases around, and then we’ll start by digging some moats and encircling the area with palisades. It’s the same method that General Kuryu used against us. did for us. With that, the enemy will not be able to launch itself at us.”
So, cutting off all connecting and supply routes?
“Then the only thing left for us to do is simply wait for the enemy’s reinforcements. We will meet and destroy them at a certain distance. The only problem with this is that we’ll have to divide the army into two, since we’ll need to maintain the siege while sending off men to destroy the enemy’s reinforcements.”
Dividing our forces could lead us to a swift demise.
I would prefer to avoid doing that if possible… But you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.
“I will stay here with 3,000 of our men and hold the siege. You take the remaining 3,000 and defeat their incoming reinforcements.”
“As you wish, Your Majesty.”
The digging and fence construction surrounding the castle went quite smoothly.
That’s because I’ve been having soldiers do civil engineering work for the last six months.
Our entire army had already acquired the minimum necessary skills of a civil engineer.
The enemy troops were 7,000 strong.
We, on the other hand, had only 6,000 men at our disposal, and they would eventually be split into two groups of 3,000 men each.
The question was whether or not we would be able to hold a siege with only half of our troops.
And the answer was simple: It was sufficiently possible.
The reason for that was that their soldiers could only enter and exit through their city’s gates.
And there were only two such gates in this fortress-city, one on the west side, and the other on the east side.
So if we were to surround both gates with our soldiers…
The siege will be completed once they start throwing themselves at us from their gates.
The moment our moats and palisades were done, we would be as good as inside a simple fortress of our own.
We wouldn’t be able to defeat them, but at the same time, they would have no way of breaking through our siege.
Then, after three days had passed and our moats and palisades were almost done…
We finally received word that the enemy’s reinforcements were ready to attack and about to cross our borders.
It had taken them more time to organize their forces than expected.
Perhaps it had taken them time to adjust to the interests of each city-state.
Another reason for their delay could be that, since we had stationed ourselves right outside of their walls, there was no way for the city to send messengers, and so their reinforcements would be marching here completely blind.
At any rate, the enemy’s delay was very welcome.
“Your Majesty. I’m off to destroy our enemies. Take care.”
“Very well. You take care as well. The enemy is 5,000 strong, after all.”
That same morning, after Bartolo was sent out to meet the enemy reinforcements…
“Your Majesty! The enemy has started to come out from their west and east gates!!”
So they did change their tactics after all.
Now that Bartolo was gone and took half of our soldiers with him, there were only 3,000 soldiers to hold this siege.
The enemy, on the other hand, had an army of 7,000 soldiers.
And our siege installations hadn’t been completed yet.
They must have seen this as a prime opportunity.
However, we were expecting their counterattack, and we also knew that their attacking points were limited to their west and east gates.
“We’ll stand our ground and meet them head-on. We have our palisades and our moats.”
I went out to intercept the enemy forces while trying to keep our panicked soldiers composed.
Our siege was almost complete, despite having some imperfections here and there.
There was no need for us to get anxious.
The enemy would be hindered by the moats we had dug, as well as the palisades we had built, and so they wouldn’t be able to move as freely as they wanted to.
Moats, palisades, and archers were placed around the west and east gates.
As the enemy furiously poured from their two gates, arrows rained on them from the surrounding area.
“Loading ballistae… Fire!!”
Thick ballista arrows loaded with gunpowder tied to its tip pierced through the enemy lines, blowing them away.
Catapults roared, throwing their load of stones and gunpowder kegs, reducing any unfortunate soldier who had stood at their points of impact into minced meat.
The soldiers who had managed to survive found themselves skewered by the spears of our heavy infantry.
The enemy’s attack ended two hours later.
Our side was mostly unscathed, while our enemy’s side was piled up with corpses.
For some reason, the besieging side was on the defensive while the besieged ones were the ones to attack.
It wasn’t something you’d expect happening in a siege, but these kinds of strange battles would occur sporadically for some time to come.
“Our enemy has two possible tactics. One is to attack our country itself to try to force us to withdraw our troops. The other one is to go directly to help the besieged city. Personally, I would take this as an opportunity to attack our weakened mainland…”
Bartolo took a gulp from his bottle.
After catching his breath, he smiled cheerfully.
“Our enemy is definitely going to take the second tactic.”
“What makes you think that?”
Confused, Roswald asked Bartolo.
Bartolo then proudly proceeded to explain his point.
“The sense of fellow countrymen is very strong among the Cretians. And many of their cities have adopted democracy. Many of their people will want to help directly, and any of their cities that need help would most likely ask for it directly as well. That’s why I think they’ll go for the latter tactic.”
Taking the first tactic would also partially count as abandoning a city in need to its fate.
While effective, ruthless decisions like these could only be made by countries ruled by either a monarchy or oligarchy. A democratic country would take a different approach.
“Besides, they must be in a hurry. They have to rush as soon as possible to save your compatriots. And with a large army of 5,000, the paths they can take are naturally limited.”
Bartolo opened up his map.
Then he handed it to Roswald.
“From where would you try to approach the battlefield?”
“…How about here?”
Roswald pointed at a prairie a little above a road.
“…At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be any mountains or thick forests around, but there are small hills scattered around this area. It is a very rugged terrain. It would be disadvantageous to my enemy’s phalanx formation and very advantageous to my marching troops.”
With a hearty laugh, Bartolo offered his bottle to Roswald.
Roswald accepted it, and took a generous gulp from it.
“So, let’s head there right away. We’ll beat them to that position and set up camp in an advantageous location. You’ll head there first and choose a suitable location.”
Roswald immediately set out to the battlefield.
Half a day after Bartolo’s army had finished setting up camp, the enemy’s reinforcements appeared.
They had no way to simply march past the 3,000-men army that had stationed itself there.
They had set up camp on a hill that was opposite one where Bartolo’s army was positioned.
Both armies stood there standing at each other for an entire day.
They were waiting to see which of them would be making the first move.
Eventually, the enemy’s reinforcements felt that time was of the essence, and ended up marching out to meet Bartolo’s army.
Bartolo went out to the battlefield to face the enemy.
Both sides had a well-polished army.
Just as they were done with their battle formations…
“Are they… going for a siege?”
“Looks like it. The nerve of these guys, challenging our tactics with a siege.”
Rosward and Bartolo looked at the formation of the enemy’s reinforcements.
They were thinly spread toward both flanks.
“Before, they went for a central breakthrough… But now it’s different. Why is that?”
“A different-natured commander, perhaps.”
The formation devised by Bartolo consisted of several units of 200 men each spread throughout the battlefield.
Seeing this must have given each commander a different impression about its enemy.
Their defense might be weak.
They might excel at mobility.
In that case, there was only one out of two options available.
To either exploit their enemy’s weaknesses, or try to crush their advantages.
The rebel commander had chosen to exploit their enemy’s weaknesses.
Meanwhile, the Allied commander chose to destroy the enemy’s advantages.
“If they spread their forces thinly towards their flanks, we will not be able to siege, since we are inferior in number. They must know that I’m good at sieging.”
“…So what are we going to do?”
“We’re going for a central breakthrough.”
Bartolo’s answer caught Roswald by surprise.
Until now, Bartolo had only used pincer movement tactics.
At least, as far as Roswald was aware.
“Can you do that? The enemy has the numerical advantage.”
“That depends on how we plan it. I’ve also grown smarter after our fight with General Kuryu.”
Bartolo took another gulp from his bottle.
His self-confidence was made evident by his facial expression.
“By the way, what about cavalry? We have 300 cavalrymen, and the enemy only has 100. We have the upper hand.”
Bartolo’s army rushed in with the sound of a horn, and at the same time, the allied forces rushed, encouraged by the beating of a drum.
A stampede of 8,000 men caused the earth to tremble.
Just as they seemed to be about to clash violently against one another…
Bartolo stopped his men after a few dozens of meters.
The allies were taken aback by this unexpected order to halt.
Because Bartolo’s army was running down from the top of the hill, while the allied forces were running up the hill.
The allied commander had assumed that Bartolo’s army would use gravity as they ran downhill to gain momentum and charge at them.
For that reason, they had assumed that both armies would clash against each other around halfway down the hill.
Therefore, their phalanx formation rushed from a relatively early stage during their ascent so as to gain momentum as well.
However, Bartolo had stopped his own charge along the way.
As a result, their phalanx formation had to keep running uphill even after reaching their estimated goal.
By that point, the allied forces’ stamina had dropped considerably, and so the charging power of their phalanx formation was reduced.
Bartolo ordered his men to start attacking the allied forces by firing arrows as well as throwing spears and rocks at them.
The allied forces fought back undauntedly, but since they had been advancing in an assault position, they couldn’t retaliate properly.
With the help of gravity, the battle became a one-sided assault by the Bartolo army.
Then, to further sink the boot onto the allied forces, Bartolo ordered his men to unleash a bomb spears at them.
Originally, using them should be avoided as much as possible in the field battle to save them for the siege battle, but since there would be no chance to use them after this field battle was over, Bartolo decided to put one of them to good use at this time.
The sudden explosion brought chaos to the allied forces.
They hadn’t been loaded with narcotic powder due to the strong winds.
Still, the destructive power of gunpowder and smoke were very effective in stopping the enemy on their tracks.
Bartolo ordered a follow-up attack immediately after that.
His men broke into a run downhill all the way towards the middle of the hill.
By the time they reached that point, the momentum of Bartolo’s army was at its peak.
Bartolo’s army cut their way through the smoke generated by the bomb spear’s gunpowder and rammed the allies’ phalanx with their shields.
Bartolo’s army, which had suddenly appeared from the smokescreen with gravity’s momentum on their side, put a heavy dent on the center of the allied forces’ formation.
Some of the allied soldiers who were in the middle fell to the ground, and it became a close-ranged fight.
In a close-ranged fight, Bartolo’s army, which was equipped with large shields and daggers as weapons, had an overwhelming advantage.
However, the allied forces were about twice as strong as Bartolo’s army.
Bartolo’s army was starting to show signs of weariness.
“2nd heavy infantry, switch places with the 6th heavy infantry. 3rd light infantry, support the 4th heavy infantry.”
Bartolo made up for his lack of strength in numbers with his skillful command.
He immediately ordered his exhausted units to change to the back row in order to rest.
He sent light infantry to units that were visibly struggling to keep up, and had them support those units with stones, spears, and arrows.
No soldier would ever be idle.
Under the skillful command of Bartolo, who always kept his entire army on the move, Bartolo’s army gradually pushed the Allied forces back, which should have had the advantage thanks to its greater numbers.
However, the allied commander wasn’t giving up.
He commanded his troops to broaden its pincer formation in an attempt to surround Bartolo’s army.
“Third row, deploy to the sides.”
The horn echoed on the battlefield, and the third row of Bartolo’s army, that is, his army’s long-serving soldiers, moved to the sides.
They lined up their shields to prevent flanking maneuvers from the allied forces.
This was possible because of a newly developed tactic that took advantage of their excellent mobility.
“Well, I think it’s about time.”
As Bartolo took a gulp of his liquor, his army finally broke through the allied forces.
The center of the allied forces’ formation was destroyed, splitting it in two.
“Everyone, split to the sides!”
Bartolo’s attack was relentless.
After breaking through the center of the allied forces’ army, Bartolo’s army smoothly turned to the left and right as well.
They attacked the sides of the allied phalanx.
This in turn caused a great deal of confusion throughout their pincer.
“Well then, I think it’s our turn now. There’s no need to overdo it. We’ll attack in waves over and over again.”
After quickly defeating the enemy cavalry, Roswald, who had been waiting on the side, attacked the other side of the allied forces.
He had only 300 cavalrymen, so he couldn’t charge at them head-on.
However, he could resort to repeated hit-and-run attacks using stones and spears.
And that was enough to hunt down the confused Allied forces.
As they were being attacked from both sides, the allied soldiers were eventually funneled towards the center.
Soon enough, they found themselves confined in a very small and crowded area.
Most of the allied soldiers ended up trampling over their own allies, crushing each other to death.
And the soldiers who managed to escape met the fierce pursuit of Bartolo’s army, and many more lost their lives.
Thus Bartolo’s army won a great victory.