Even though Regis Auric was a soldier, he was incompetent in both riding horses and wielding swords, and was still a bibliophilic youth.
After his transfer to the northern borders, he met a young girl with vermillion hair and crimson eyes, who was actually the Fourth Princess of the Belgaria Empire, Marie Quatre Argentina de Belgaria.
She was ostracised by the courts because her mother was a commoner, and was assigned to be the commander of a frontline regiment despite being just fourteen. She wasn’t disheartened by her predicament, and wanted to change the situation of the empire for the sake of the citizens that were being oppressed by the tyrannical policies of the empire.
“I want to be empress, so I am in need of your knowledge.”
Altina then displayed her capability as a commander. Even though Regis lacked confidence… He still promised to be her strategist.
February —— Second Prince Latreille who held overall command of the military issued an impossible order.
『Take down the Germanian Federation’s Fort Volks in Varden Grand duchy』
It was an invulnerable fort, and attacking it with so few troops would be suicidal.
But Regis used a stratagem he read once in a book, and guided Altina’s Border Regiment to victory.
April —— Altina was summoned back to the Imperial Palace Le Brane.
Regis who accompanied her was excited to finally visit the stage where many of the stories he read was based on… But he didn’t have the leisure to do so.
The Second Prince Latreille and the First Prince Auguste were both scheming for the succession of the throne. If Altina who was fourth in line to the throne wants to be Empress, she would need to defeat them.
Regis was toyed around by them in the beginning, but after seeing through Auguste and Latreille’s schemes, he turned the table and broke the game open.
After receiving the support of the new noble Eleanor, the First Prince Auguste relinquished his succession rights, and announced his support for Altina. Altina successfully became a strong candidate to be the next Empress.
Year of the Empire 854, 23rd July ——
The Belgarian Empire received High Britannia’s declaration of war.
At the same time, the neighbouring Varden Grand Duchy launched an attack on Fort Volks.
They succeeded in repelling the attack, but Eric was wounded by an archer from ‘Renard Pendu’ and Altina’s sword ‘Grand Tonnerre Quatre’ was broken.
They then started a long expedition to engage the High Britannian Army, passing Rouen city along the way. There, they commissioned Regis’ brother-in-law, a blacksmith named Enzo to repair the sword.
19th May, Battle of Lafressange——
The Seventh Imperial Army formed up in a tight classical formation and launched an assault on the High Britannian Army, and was obliterated by the enemy’s new rifles and cannons. The commander of the Seventh Army died in battle along with many soldiers.
“If we can’t win on land, then we should attack from the sea. Without their supply ships, their supply line would naturally stop.”
The Commander-in-chief of the Imperial Army, Second Prince Latreille suffered serious eye injuries because of a sneak attack by the Mercenary King Gilbert. However, he hid the fact that he was wounded and held a war conference with Altina to decide the next course of action.
First, Altina’s Border Regiment and the remnants of the western forces would be reorganized into the Fourth Imperial Army. Next, Regis the strategist was promoted to Third Grade Admin officer, and bestowed the name Regis d’Auric.
Altina accepted the order from Latreille’s First Army that was protecting the capital, and headed for the sea.
The High Britannian ‘Queen’s Navy’ was made up of the Princess Class steam powered battleship with 74 guns, unaffected by wind, faster, tougher and equipped with more powerful cannons.
In contrast, the battleships of Belgaria were old sail ships.
But Regis made use of the intelligence he got from the local fishermen, together with the stratagem he read in a book, he utilized a series of tactics and defeated the enemy fleet.
However, part of the enemy’s supply had already been transported over the land route. If these resources were successfully sent to the front lines, the defence of the capital would face greater pressure.
The Fourth Imperial Army gave chase. The opponent was led by the Mercenary King of ‘Renard Pendu’ and his elite unit, together with the escort regiment from the regular army outfitted with the new rifles and cannons. Right now, they have made camp at the hills of west Lafressange. Had they wanted to fight this army, they would need the resolve to pay a huge price..
Regis created foggy weather by spilling a large amount of lake water in the surroundings, effectively neutralizing the advantage of the new rifles. But the Mercenary King was no fool, and took the bold strategy of attacking Altina’s headquarters… Altina finally received the modified Grand Tonnerre Quatre, and emerge victorious after fighting her opponent calmly.
The Belgarian Empire crushed the invasion of the High Britannian Army.
After seeing the Emperor indulging himself in pleasure without a care for the fate of the empire, it spurred the fury in Latreille’s heart, so he stabbed him with the Arme Victoire Volonte in his hand.
Regis stood among countless corpses.
The stench of blood and gore filled the air.
The land was dyed red with mutilated body parts everywhere.
A bloody palm.
A head splitted in two.
Organs spilled on the ground.
Stepping over the countless pieces of meat, a man wearing a dark red robe and holding a trident walked over. His eyes full of intense murderous intent.
—— He shouldn’t be here.
Regis’ strategy was well thought out after all.
W-What is my strategy?
Regis couldn’t remember what strategy he put into place. He could only feel the anxiety in his chest because ‘a situation different from the books happened.’
The man with the trident drew closer.
Regis turned and ran without a second thought.
But his leg caught onto something and he tripped.
What was that?
Throwing his gaze that way, he saw his ankle had been grabbed by a hand reaching out from the ground.
This time, his wrist was grabbed. It was the hand of a corpse again.
Regis tried to break free frantically.
And then, half a head that rolled before him spoke.
“Why did you use a plan that caused me to die?”
Regis screamed in terror.
Throwing the blanket on him away, he jumped.
The rouge colour wool blanket and white posts appeared before his eyes. Looking out of the window, he could see clear skies and the slowly moving hills.
His heart was still pounding fast.
Hah, hah, he calmed his breathing that was as ragged as a hound.
Regis was lying on the bench inside the carriage.
The lady sitting on the opposite side rushed to him in a panic. Kneeling besides him, she caressed Regis’ forehead.
“Are you alright, Sir Regis?”
She was the maid Clarisse.
She was staring at Regis nervously.
Regis finally realized he just had a nightmare.
“... I… had a dream…”
“... The soldiers… asked… why, I formulated a… plan that made them die.”
The cause of the nightmare was the scene of numerous soldiers killed in action during the last battle. They followed Regis’ strategy, but many soldiers sacrificed their lives and the army paid a hefty price.
Regis couldn’t even wield a sword properly and was seriously affected by the Mercenary King Gilbert’s bloodlust. The troops were probably influenced by it too.
It might be wrong to say this about the soldiers who fell, but it didn’t matter anymore.
Even though his ragged breathing gradually calmed down, he still felt a choke in his throat.
Clarisse reached out and wrapped her hands around Regis’ head gently.
And pulled him to her chest.
Regis was engulfed in a sensation of softness.
He could feel her heartbeat.
Her body warmth was transmitted to him through her maid’s attire. Regis thought that he could feel the warmth of his late mother…
The softness of her breasts covered Regis’ nose and lips, but incredibly, his breathing started soothing.
His heart was calming down too.
Regis’ tightly clenched fists also relaxed.
“Have you calmed down?”
“Ah, yes… erm… Thank you very much.”
Because his face was still buried in her chest, his voice was much softer.
“Fufu… that tickles.”
“Erm… I am thankful to you for taking care of me… But I’m fine now.”
“You don’t like this?”
“T-That’s not true!”
Is this answer fine, Regis was at a bit of a loss.
He might have regained his wits after that nightmare —— But his mind was still blank because his face was still stuffed in Clarisse’s breasts.
In other words, his heart was pumping vigorously.
Clarisse tightened her arms.
She was always wearing an apron, but her assets still looked big. Now that he thought about it, they felt really huge and soft.
—— No, wasn’t it rude to harbour such thoughts? To consider the physical characteristics of a woman who wasn’t someone he would be marrying.
Regis’ mind started to wander.
From a very close distance, or rather, they were already touching each other, Clarisse muttered softly.
“... Sir Regis, you don’t need to bear all this alone alright?”
He finally noticed that she was helping him.
To relieve his mental pressure.
Although he still didn’t understand why she was hugging him so tightly…
But this should be an act of kindness, that would make sense.
“I am grateful. However, it is the duty of my position.”
This was not like the time when he was just a fifth grade admin officer, that’s the thing about rank. One’s responsibility would increase with their authority.
In the past, he just needed to state his opinion, it was another question whether it was accepted.
It was natural for him to feel a heavy mental pressure. Or rather, it would be dangerous if he didn’t. If the one with heavy responsibility lost the normal feeling of pressure…
Clarisse who was hugging Regis gently brushed his hair and caressed his head.
“You already worked hard when you were awake… Wouldn’t it be good for you to forget about this while you sleep?”
“I don’t think I did enough…”
“Try your best.”
“I am already doing all I can, but…”
“Sir Regis is always working hard.”
“Sigh, this is the first time someone told me that.”
He didn’t practice swordsmanship or horsemanship in the Military Academy, and read his books all day. Everyone scolded him, saying he lacked motivation. Even though Marquis Thénezay recruited him into his army, he was lectured by his superiors plenty of times because he was always holding his books.
Things didn’t change after he joined the Beilschmidt Border Regiment, although no one scolded him.
He also felt he lacked drive and ambition.
“Well, Sir Regis you… instead of striving for promotions, you are always reading books.”
“Haha… That’s true.”
“But your will to plan a strategy where no one dies is proof of your drive, correct?”
“You are considering it from that direction?”
“It is important to mourn and respect the fallen. But you have to look at those who survived too. So Sir Regis… You should look at the people you saved.”
“I didn’t forget about them.”
“Is that so? Because of Sir Regis’ effort, I managed to stay alive right?”
Clarisse followed the expedition as the maid of the commander Altina.
Altina preferred to ride her warhorse during the march, so Clarisse always rode in the carriage with Regis.
If they lost the battle a few days ago, not just the soldiers, Clarisse would have been killed too.
“I am still alive, can you feel it?”
The sound of her heart beating.
Soft and warm.
“This is because Sir Regis protected me.”
“So, now is my turn to protect Sir Regis.”
“... Thank you.”
“From your nightmare.”
“Maybe from the Princess too? Can I pull it off?”
Clarisse’s hands relaxed. Regis who was basking in her gentleness lifted his head.
Clarisse’s face was slightly red, and had a unique womanly charm about her.
Her brows were slightly knotted with a wry smile on her lips.
Following her line of sight, Regis looked towards the carriage door.
Altina was looking their way with ruby eyes.
“What are you doing, Regis?”
Her voice was cold. With bloodlust that could rival the Mercenary King from Regis’ dream, she gripped the hilt of her sword tightly.
“I rushed here because I heard a scream!”
Speaking of which, he did scream when he woke from his dream.
“Well, I had a nightmare…”
“But I saw a scene filled with happiness!”
“You are misunderstanding!”
Enjoying Clarisse’s gentleness was indeed a wondrous thing, but Regis wouldn’t say something like that and put his life in peril.
Clarisse said in order to appease Altina:
“Well well, Your Highness, I did the same thing for you in the past right?”
“Ughh… But wasn’t I still a child back then?”
“I want to do it right now too… but you keep running away, princess.”
“It’s embarrassing! I am already an adult!”
Her murderous intent had vanished.
Hah… Regis sighed in relief secretly.
Clarisse composed herself and said:
“Sir Regis is always busy with work, it is only natural that he is exhausted. And his work is taxing on the mind, so he would be both physically and mentally tired, right?”
Altina thought about it.
“Hmm… Well, that’s true… starting from the defence of Fort Volks, helping the Seventh Army retreat, assuming the role of acting admiral in Épée Prière Bay, the pursuit battle of the Mercenary King… He had been fighting nonstop.”
It was now the evening of 4th July.
When they first encountered Franziska of ‘Renard Pendu’ and when Varden Grand Duchy attacked Fort Volks, it was 30th April.
In a month and a half, as they were travelling across the empire, they fought four battles.
“And Regis was the one who came up with the plans for the battles.”
“... Well, that was all I could do.”
It would be tiring indeed.
It must be the same for the troops.
Altina had an apologetic expression.
“If I could strategize too, I would be able to lessen Regis’ burden a little…”
“No, you have been a big help. Be it the defence of Fort Volks or the battle with the Mercenary King, the headquarters was attacked in both cases. If you are a normal general, we would have already died plenty of times.”
“Thank you. But just swinging a sword won’t take down a fortress, or sink the ‘Queen’s Navy’ from High Britannia.
“We were lucky.”
They concluded the same thing last time too, Regis said with an awkward smile.
“I didn’t prepare anything right now, but you can tell what you want, don’t hold back.”
I want books —— But even if he said that, he probably couldn’t get it on the battlefield.
Then, he wanted to rest.
Not just Regis, the soldiers who fought through the entire day and night must be exhausted too.
The battle might be over in the morning, but the continuous battles definitely had taken a toll on them. They stopped the march for the entire day and rested.
It would probably be a fretful rest though...
That might be so, but they couldn’t spend their time idly. If they don’t move off tomorrow morning, it would be hard to reach the Empire before the morning of the 9th.
They had yet to discuss further plans.
In Regis’ mind, the strategy would be dependent on the state of the battle at the capital.
News that the Fourth Army defeated the High Britannian fleet and the supply troops should have reached the capital on the 6th.
The enemy probably had started retreating…
Where would they escape to?
And how would the First Army led by Latreille act?
According to his character, would he choose to pursue? But the soldiers wouldn’t want to. The chance of being counterattacked on the open field was high. Latreille should know that.
Regis had to consider all the possibilities and think up countermeasures.
Altina leaned her face over.
Regis leaned back on reflex.
Her beauty was already so great that it made others jealous and anyone would be willing to buy her. After her fifteenth birthday, she was even more enchanting.
He would feel embarrassed if she got too near and stare at him.
“W-What’s the matter?”
“You don’t look like you are considering a reward.”
“Eh? Haha… the thing I want… Erm… How about…”
“No books okay?”
“That’s true, it’s a battlefield after all. Erm, I’m thirsty so can I have some water?”
“Giving water as a reward, doesn’t that make me a harsh commander!? State a proper reward, I will prepare it later. Is there anything else?”
It’s hard to think of them.
He wanted to rest, but didn’t feel like sleeping right now. He was getting hungry, but it’s be fine since it would be dinner soon. In such cases, it was the standard in stories to ask for monetary reward.
But that would be a hassle.
—— Whenever the unit dispersed money, the paperwork he needed to handle would increase three folds.
The reports he needed to send back to the fortress was more tiring than the consecutive battles, which made Regis shudder.
Clap! Clarrise clapped her hands. She seemed to have thought of a good idea.
“How about the princess doing something for Sir Regis?”
“Hmm? Do what?”
“What I did just now.”
Altina’s eyes opened wide, and even her neck turned red.
Regis reacted the same way.
“W-W-What are you saying Clarisse!? This is no joking matter!”
Regis was given the peerage of Chevalier, but before the official appointment, he was still a commoner while Altina was a royal. She was the fourth princess and second in the line of succession, and a Lieutenant General commanding the Imperial Fourth Army. In terms of age, she was no longer a child, but an adult. Even if they were playing, they couldn’t touch a member of the opposite sex!
“Ara, you don’t like it?”
“N-No, that’s not what I mean!”
Altina stomped onto the carriage angrily.
“Regis, wait. You are fine with Clarisse, but not me!?”
“I didn’t mean that!”
“Then what did you mean!? I-I have grown a little bigger recently!”
“What are you saying!?”
Altina reached out and grabbed Regis’ head.
He could feel that she was very nervous. She had the same expression when she wielded a sword. Her finger strength was powerful and it was painful.
She pulled hard.
And then, the thing closing in fast before Regis’ eyes was Altina’s chest —— But it was silver.
“Wait! Your armour is still…!!”
With a bang, Regis’ nose crashed hard into the steel armour.