Altina the Sword Princess Volume 12 Chapter 3-4
Editor: Darkdhaos, CEObrainz
Altina got up first and left the banquet.
Regis chased after her.
【Well well… Things are getting messy.】
【Is the situation in the south that bad?】
【Of course it is, the war is going badly over there. That might be problematic… But the bigger problem is your rank of Généralissime. This is a huge matter.】
Altina tilted her head.
【It’s one rank above a full General right? I know that. What’s the problem?】
【Lack of greed might be a virtue, but lack of concern is wrong...】
She would have refuted him in the past, but Altina had learnt the importance of studying now.
As they walked along the corridor paved with green carpet, Regis said as they walked:
【You might be right, but the Belgarian Empire has not appointed a Généralissime for a long time now. This rank still exists in the system, so it’s natural for you to not understand its significance.】
【So I’m not wrong!】
【Hmm… Even though I think a general should have knowledge about this… But it can’t be helped since we’re busy with the war. I’m partly to blame too.】
【Is that so?】
【… Because I didn’t think you would be bestowed with the Baton of the Généralissime, so I didn’t tell you much about it.】
【Is the Baton of the Généralissime this thing here?】
Altina swung around the command baton that Latreille had given her as proof of her status.
It was made from gold and carved with intrinsic designs, and had gems embedded on it everywhere.
Regis said worriedly:
【It hasn’t been taken out of the treasury for about two hundred years.】
【Looking at this from another angle, this is a more valuable piece of art than the famous paintings displayed in the hall just now…】
The surprised Altina dropped the Baton of the Généralissime. She then caught it before it hit the ground.
Regis was so shook he thought his heart was going to stop.
【Ahaha… That was close— Really now, don’t scare me Regis.】
【I thought my lifespan had shortened by three years. Don’t play around with a national treasure.】
【This thing is actually valuable enough to affect the national budget…】
—— The sword you had been swinging around is much more valuable though. Even so, I should keep quiet about this so it won’t affect her swordsmanship in the future.
Did something happened? He thought that Altina seemed to have changed.
She didn’t like to splurge in the past too, but was also unconcern with funds expenditure. She seemed to realize the importance of money now.
【…Anyway, aside from the monetary value of the Staff of the Généralissime, the more incredible thing is the authority it grants.】
【I can command units on multiple fronts or something like that? Latreille already said that.】
She referred to the Emperor’s Imperial Edict as ‘something like that’...
【… The Généralissime has the authority to raise multiple armies and command them. With virtually unlimited authority over all military matters. The difference from the Field Marshal is the lack of diplomatic powers, so you can’t declare war or negotiate for peace.】
Généralissime was the highest ranking general officer.
Altina made a face of disbelief.
【… Raise an army?】
【Généralissime can set up an Office of the Généralissime. The Généralissime can then recruit officers, and have the authority to determine the rank, pay and employment of the soldiers under her command. If you wished to, you can change the welfare and rights of your subordinates. And of course, you can post them to any assignments as you wish.】
The authority she was given even surprised Altina herself.
【Eh? Eh? Aren’t those the jobs of the Ministry of Military Affairs? This is too weird!?】
【His Majesty already mentioned that the Ministry of Military Affairs’ performance is lacking… I think he wants to disband the Ministry of Military Affairs.】
【Aren’t you angry about that too? During the last war, High Britannia only had 30,000 men, but Belgaria suffered tremendous losses.】
【This is because of the difference in preparation between the two sides. It’s only natural for the Ministry of Military Affairs to bear this responsibility. If the one in charge gets replaced but the system remains the same, the situation won’t improve. Emperor Latreille have probably made his decision.】
【For His Majesty and you who has been appointed Généralissime to manage the entire defence force in place of the Ministry of Military Affairs—— That’s probably his plan.】
There were many other reasons why he appointed her as Généralissime, but the biggest problem with the Imperial Army right now was its administrative support
Regis had no idea if the Ministry of Military Affairs will still exist in name, or if it would be completed disbanded. These matters would depends largely on Minister Beylard.
Altina opened her mouth wide in shock.
【…No… No way!? Even if you tell me this so suddenly, I can’t…!?】
【I really hope you can show this reaction before you accepted the Staff of the Généralissime/ Well, there’s no choice but to accept it anyway.】
【Ah, that’s right. My status as a Princess is meaningless now, so I can only fight on as a soldier.】
【In a way, isn’t this great?】
Altina smiled happily.
Regis nodded his head in a vague manner.
They walked out of the palace. As there was a large number of reporters and civilians gathered at the gate, they boarded a carriage.
The celebration in the city was at its rowdiest right now. It would probably last for a week before it ends.
The driver did as he was instructed earlier, avoiding the main roads and took the long way around half the capital before reaching a certain mansion.
The mansion of the Tiraso Laverde House——
As she wasn’t on good terms with the other nobles and the First Army, those close with Altina didn’t stay in the palace, and lodged here instead.
Heavy Infantry from the Fourth Army guarded the gates as if this was the headquarters on a battlefield. They even erected their unit flags inside the courtyard.
Regis and Altina alighted from their carriage/
The servants lined up to welcome them.
The door in the entrance opened, and an aristocratic lady walk out from the depths of the corridor. It was Fanrine.
【Thank you for your hard work, Princess Argentina, Sir Regis.】
【Thank you. But I only attended the ceremony and skipped the banquet. My grandfather should have attended the banquet.】
【About half of the southern nobles were absent. Probably because they supported me, but I lost in the succession struggle...】
【It can’t be helped, the late Emperor passed away sooner than we expected.】
【Did Latreille made any strange request? Is everything fine?】
【I’m not quite sure about these matters… Leaving that aside for now, congratulations on being appointed as the Généralissime.】
【Ara, you already knew?】
【Of course! There’s a saying in the social world that ‘rumours are spread by the fairies’.】
When the carriage ferrying Regis and the others were still caught in traffic, the nobles who was attending the banquet had probably sent their servants back to relay the news.
As the Tiraso Laverde House was the leader of the southern nobles, they have a strong intelligence network even in the capital.
Fanrine ushered them into the mansion.
【It isn’t as extravagant as the banquet in the palace, but we have also prepared a simple celebration party. If it is not too much trouble we will be honoured if you can relax and dine with us?】
Altina clapped her hands together.
【Alright! I didn’t have any time to spare since morning, I’m famished!】
【Fufu, that’s wonderful.】
【Let’s get changed before heading to the dining hall!】
The maid Clarisse was waiting behind Fanrine. She took Altina’s luggage.
【… Welcome back, Princess.】
【This is more tiring than sword training. Come help me change.】
Clarisse bowed quietly.
When Clarisse was before others, she would speak plainly without any expression, making it hard to tell how she felt.
This even made the servants here afraid.
She met Regis’ gaze, but they didn’t spoke.
Even though the two of them finally met again yesterday after so long, Regis couldn’t find the time to converse with her because he was too busy. She was the princess’ maid, while Regis was a strategist. So he couldn’t find any reason to look for her and chat.
【Well then, come join us Sir Regis.】
【There’s a seat for me in the party too?】
【Of course! You’re promoted to First Grade Admin Officer right? Compared to combat officers, it’s harder for admin officers to advance in grade. I have never heard of such a young First Grade Admin Officer. You’re amazing!】
【Ugh…After evaluating the war merits, Emperor Latreille promoted my grade, but is this really fine…?】
【Don’t mind such trivial matters. No matter what form it might take, these are well deserved rewards for your job performance. Enough about that, you will catch a cold if you wear those damp clothes. Please get changed.】
【I will help too.】
【It’s fine it’s fine...】
Regis turned down her offer and escaped up the stairs. He was living in a room on the third floor for the time being.
He met Eddie along the way.
【Ah, Lord Eddie.】
【What’s that about, Regis? Don’t we have the same status, why are you being so formal?】
【I’m a First Grade Combat Officer, and you are a First Grade Admin Officer right?】
【That’s true… But I’m a Chevalier, while Lord Eddie is a Duke.】
【Don’t fret the small stuff— We are in the same grade on the battlefield.】
【That’s too sudden.】
【Regis, you can speak with Argentina normally right? I don’t have many friends, and my relation with Latreille is getting distant too.】
They seemed to be good friends in the past, and often practice swords and horse riding together.
But now, Eddie was the bodyguard of Auguste, and a member of Argentina’s faction. It would be hard for them to meet as friends again.
Thinking about it carefully—— The Fourth Army were somewhat distant from the social world. There wasn’t really anyone who could call Eddie who was a Duke and a First Grade Admin Officer a friend.
【… So you came to find me?】
【Felicia said you’re a “good friend” right? Even more the reason for you to be my friend.】
【Saying that the Fifth Princess is my friend is too great an honour…】
【She was really happy when you rekt her in chess. She seemed to like your merciless way of doing things.】
After the Founding Day Festival, he had a lot of work piled up, so he thought about work as he played chess. When he realized it, he had already won after a few moves.
It was great that incident made her happy, but being friends with royals was too heavy a burden for him.
Eddie patted Regis’ shoulders cheerfully.
【Let’s be good friends too.】
And being friends with a Duke was too much for Regis who was originally a commoner… But turning him down was would be too rude.
【… I will work hard.】
【I will be in your care then.】
Eddie changed the topic suddenly.
【By the way, how was the banquet?】
【It was extravagant. Emperor Latreille was planning to sell art pieces in order to raise funds for the military, so it was like an art exhibition.】
【Hahaha… As expected of Latreille. He always says that keeping the art pieces inside the treasury is too much of a waste.】
【It’s true that such an opinion is not like a royal… Maybe he got influenced by his cousin?】
Eddie’s smile vanished.
【… Beatrice huh. Yes… Regis, you really know everything.】
However, Regis didn’t know the details. He couldn’t even recall the name Beatrice. Did he forgot, or was she not very well known?
He was intrigued, but this was just an idle chatter along the corridor. It was best not to delve too deeply into this.
【Let’s discuss this next time.】
【Yah… That’s right… Best not let them wait too long.】
【Well then, I will go get changed.】
【Right, see you in the dining hall.】
Regis bid Eddie farewell, and returned to his room.
He got changed.
He end up wearing the Fourth Army uniform he had always worn.
He had already gotten used to it. He had not worn it for a month, and was starting to miss it.
Knock knock, the door was knocked.
【Please come in.】
【Yo Regis, can you bother you for a moment?】
It was the Third Prince Bastian.
Elise was here too.
【Thank you for your hard work in attending the ceremony, Lord Regis. I heard that Princess Argentina has been appointed to the rank of Généralissime, congratulations to the both of you.】
This girl who hailed from the Kingdom of High Britannia would sometimes show an air of nobility.
Even though she looked just like an ordinary girl, but her proper demeanour and choice of words made others straighten their posture.
Bastian smiled awkwardly:
【I heard that you are heading south?】
【I see… It’s a shame, but I will be staying in the capital. There is things I still need to do, and I need to continue my studies under Professor Bourgine.】
【I understand. Your Highness isn’t a soldier anyway, so there is no reason for you to head into a warzone.】
【Even though I think I should work together with Argentina… But she can’t think for herself at all, and will put complete trust in Regis’ words whenever she acts.】
【I have no intention of inciting her...】
【I know. It’s just that my knowledge is too shallow.】
【… Please work hard.】
【Yeah! For the sake of writing my masterpiece in the future, I have to learn more! Erm—, well—— can I ask you for a favour?】
【What is it?】
【I hope you can… take Elise to the Tiraso Laverde mansion in the south.】
【To their mansion of their main house?】
Elise lowered her head.
【W-Wait. What’s going on? Aren’t you two...】
The girl waved her hands around.
【What are you saying, Lord Regis!? Bastian and I, are completely, without even a little, in that sort of intimate relationship!?】
Her cheeks were completely red.
These words were probably too embarrassing, and Bastian lowered his head.
Regis tilted his head.
【This is a request from the Third Prince, and escorting important guests are one of the duties of the Imperial army… But why? Why head to the south that’s going to become a battlefield?】
Bastian answered in place of the hesitant Elise:
【Sorry, but can you not ask for the reason? Please just understand that I have to get Elise to the house Tiraso Laverde.】
【… I see.】
【I wanted to go too…】
He clenched his fist.
Elise shook her head.
【You can’t… Bastian already did so much for me. But the most important thing to you right now is studying. If you follow me to the south, you will send me all the way to the other side of the ocean right? I don’t want to rob you of the most precious time in your life.】
Her words were calm, but her conviction firm.
Bastian bit his lips.
【… I get it. We have talked about this so many times after all.】
The girl looked younger, but she was acting like Bastian’s elder sister or mother.
【… I will definitely look for you.】
【I will wait for you. There are things that I must do too.】
【When the time comes I will let you read my masterpiece.】
【Ughh… It’s troubling, but I have already braced myself for that.】
【It will be interesting! I will definitely write a romantic story that you leave you rolling on the floor laughing!】
Is it really fine for a romance story to make others laugh out loud? Regis thought, but he didn’t interrupt their conversation.
He could guess Elise’s identity from their conversation. And could imagine why she was choosing to cross the ocean at this time.
Elise looked towards Regis:
【Since I’m seeking your protection, I think I should confess everything...】
【No… your identity as “Ms Elise from High Britannia who came here to study abroad” is more convenient for me.】
【I might have modest talent —— but I’m now the strategist of the Généralissime Office… which is roughly equivalent to the aide of the Minister of Military Affairs.】
【The Généralissime Office is set up by Argentina after all.】
【And so, it would be a grave oversight if I withheld any information from the country. But it couldn’t be helped if I didn’t realized it.】
【I’m not as good as everyone says after all. There are countless things that I have overlooked.】
Hahaha, Regis laughed.
Elise lowered her head deeply.
【On behalf of the responsibility I carry and myself, I am extremely grateful.】
Bastian reached out his right hand.
【Thank you Regis.】
【I can understand… How it feels to part with someone important. I will definitely send her there safely.】
Regis was worried if this would be lèse-majesté, but he shook the outreached hand to acknowledge the trust that was placed in him.
With tears in his eyes, Bastian’s shoulders started to tremble.
【I-I’m counting on you… Ugh… Ughhh!】
【Oh, sorry! I got careless and used too much strength.】
【I thought my hand was going to be candy crushed…】
Regis shook his right hand that was turning a little red.
Was Bastian too strong, or Regis too weak. Probably both.
Fufu, Elise laughed.
And tears shaped just like a crystal came out from the corner of her eyes.
As they wished to spend their remaining time alone, Bastian and Elise didn’t attend the party and left the mansion.
After making public his allegiance to the Argentina faction, he no longer has a place within the palace, and was now staying with his grandfather Marquis Bergerac.
Regis promised to notify them before the army set off.
He left his room and headed for the dining hall.
I was already a little late.
A door along the corridor suddenly opened.
A pale slender hand reached out and grabbed Regis’ sleeve.
This slender hand pulled Regis into the room with amazing strength.
Regis fell onto the floor, and the door was closed.
It was a very small room.
Like a room for the servant of guests to stay in, or a storage room for luggage.
In order to seal off Regis’ movement, that person straddled on top of him.
The person was lighter than he expected.
【Please keep still.】
It was a female voice.
After he calmed down, he looked at that person—
It was a slender woman with white skin and light coloured hair.
【W-Why are you doing this?】
She was dressed like an aristocratic lady right now. Her white dress really suit her.
This attire wasn’t prominent in this mansion. But maybe her beauty would attract the attention of the men instead…
Regis already explained to the Fourth Army who Jessica was, and already made it clear that she was now an ally. He didn’t understand why she was being so forceful about meeting Regis without being seen by others.
【Soldiers from the Fourth Army are patrolling here right?】
【… They know that I’m a mercenary from 《Renard Pendu》.】
Yesterday, Regis linked up with the Fourth Army that had set up formation near the capital with the help of the mercenaries. They avoided clashing with the First Army thanks to this.
【I already told them you are an ally thought? I think they already understand and feel grateful for your help.】
【Is that so? But is that how they really feel deep down? Think about what happened in the past. Even though 《Renard Pendu》 lost in West Lafressange, we still killed a lot of Imperial soldiers.】
In that battle, Regis created a fog and destroyed High Britannia’s supply team.
Even though the Fourth Army won, they suffered heavier than expected casualties.
He still remembered clearly the time when their headquarters were attacked.
Jessica glanced towards the corridor.
Heavy footsteps passed by outside.
【… I… don’t trust others like you do. There is a chance they might kill me for revenge if I let my guard down for a moment.】
【The guards here are all veteran regulars. They are all rational soldiers.】
【There are heaps of mercenaries who got hung bearing such naive thoughts. Mercenary did things like waving white flags or faking injuries to catch them off guard. Since we will scheme against others, we will be wary of others plotting against us too.】
【For example, what will happen if I put my knife right on your neck? If I threaten the Princess and ask her to exchange my brother for her strategist, wouldn’t things be much simpler?】
【… Maybe Gilbert will be freed. But what will happen after that? I already told you —— you will be chased by the Belgarian Empire, while your reputation amongst the neighbouring nations would remain poor. Wouldn’t that be a tough way to rebuild? You already know that.】
【That’s correct. That’s why I agreed to a cooperative relationship on the personal level.】
【Wonderful, since you still remember that, you can get off me now. That will make me happy.】
She wasn’t heavy, but it was hard for him to calm down.
He could feel Jessica’s body warmth seeping into him.
Even if he ignored that aspect, having a woman forcefully pressed him down was tugging at his psychological scar, and he was sweating cold bullets right now.
【… You should be the one that needs to remember. Heading to the south? What’s with that? My brother is in Fort Volks!?】
Anxiety leaked from Jessica’s voice.
It was a rare sight since she seldom show her feelings.
Hmm, Regis thought about it.
【There are 700 people left in 《Renard Pendu》. You can’t rescue Gilbert from Fort Volks with this numbers. So you wanted to use me as a hostage in the beginning. But after considering it, you decided it was better to help me instead right?】
【Sigh… But that’s only under the condition that my brother will be saved.】
【Aren’t you too anxious?】
【You won’t understand. The members psyche are already at their limits. They are only bearing with it in the hope that my brother will be rescued… But they are guys who can’t conceal their feelings that well. Surrounded by imperial forces and living in tents on the outskirts of the capital, they are as tense as men with ropes tied to their necks, walking along the cliff.】
【… It’s that bad?】
【We don’t trust the imperials. We are always on guard against being backstab out of the blue.】
Jessica took out a small blade from seemingly out of nowhere. That looked just like a normal dress, just where was she hiding that?
She pressed that blade onto Regis’ neck.
【Answer me Regis d’Auric… Did you lie to me?】
【Not at all.】
【But you want to go to the south?】
【… I didn’t expect you to press me so hard. I will answer your expectations, let’s have a good talk.】
【A spoken agreement again?】
【The situation is changing too fast, and times are changing.】
【I have been waiting all this time, while you have been working so actively in the dark within the capital, Lord Regis. Franziska even got injured, but I have yet to see a dime from you. Just how long do you expect us to follow you?】
【…When you put it this way, it makes sense for you to get angry. I’m in the wrong.】
When Latreille attempted to assassinate Regis, Regis only escaped the search and returned to the capital with their help.
Food, water, sleeping bag and the guards were all prepared by them, and they even went to the Fourth Army despite the risk of war breaking out.
Imperial soldiers would be given remuneration, and when things stabilized, they would be rewarded according to their contributions and maybe receive a promotion.
However, mercenaries work for the sake of remunerations. Normally, they would receive half the money in advance as a deposit.
Regis said troublingly:
【… I understand, but it’s hard for me to give you a satisfactory payment right now. After all, the Fourth Army don’t have enough funds. Although there is a budget set aside for the Généralissime Office, the soonest we can get it will be next month.】
【Are you saying we should wait?】
【… I can only ask you to believe me, but I’m not just idling around either. I also asked you to go to the south with us.】
【And the reason?】
The blade on his neck felt really cold.
Jessica leaned closer.
She was a beautiful woman. It was hard to tell what she was thinking, but Regis could feel that her emotions were really volatile.
【… It will be great if you tell me that earlier… I already discussed it with the Princess. To return the favour for you helping me, she agreed to release Gilbert.】
She opened her eyes wide.
【I-Is that true?】
【… I don’t know how many times I have said this… But please believe me.】
He didn’t have any written proof.
Jessica looked unhappy.
【Why didn’t you leave written records for something so important? Or is my brother not important to you?】
【When you discuss future plans with the Mercenary King… Do you always record them down?】
【… There’s no need for that.】
【It’s the same for us.】
Jessica moved the knife away.
She finally got off Regis.
Regis wiped away his cold sweat as he stood. He touched his own neck.
【I thought it really cut me.】
【… This is a fake.】
Jessica stabbed her own hand with the knife.
She didn’t bleed at all.
【I’m not good at handling knives. If I cut you accidentally, things will become messy.】
【… Were your unstable emotions also an act?】
【Think what you want.】
Jessica reverted to her usual cold expression.
【I already posted a letter to Gilbert. We will release him as promised, but what he’ll do next is up to him. I don’t know if he will come and link up with us.】
【Personally, I still look forward to borrowing your power. That’s why I added the request to go south.】
He didn’t know if they would agree to joining them, so this was a request and not an order.
Gilbert would want the chance to restore his reputation after losing the last battle. Hence, the southern frontlines would suit him just fine.
Jessica tidied her dress.
And seemed to have believed him.
【If the arrangement with my brother is true, then thank you… But don’t forget about your promise with me okay?】
She promised to help on the personal level in order to exchange for future supplies for
【We will keep our promise of course. That’s right, want to come to our party?】
【Lord Auric… It’s impossible for the nobles to invite mercenaries like us to dine with them.】
【Is that so?】
【I won’t be happy even if I’m invited, so I will turn you down.】
【I won’t force you.】
Jessica pointed to the door as if she wanted him to hurry up and leave.
【… More importantly, if I go to the dining hall with you, it won’t be worth it if I rouse the jealousy of Princess Argentina.】
He only left to change clothes, but he took a long time to reach the dining hall.
He entered the dining hall.
In the middle of the wide and extravagant hall was a beige coloured long table. Art pieces adorned the wall, and the servants were lined up there too.
Altina was sat at the farthest end of the table.
He thought they would have started already, but it seemed that the food had not been served yet. There were just bread and glasses on the table.
【You’re finally here, Regis!】
【E-Erm… Have you all been waiting for me?】
【Naturally. This party is held in honour of you and me after all.】
【No no no… Letting the Princess who is both a royal and the Généralissime wait for someone like me is not natural at all.】
【Enough about that, come sit down.】
She waved at him, and Regis sat to her right.
Regis had been using honorifics because a stranger was present too.
Eric stood behind Altina. He had accepted Regis’ proposal and became an escort rifleman. He didn’t hold a rifle as it was indoors, and wore a sword on his waist instead.
He nodded to greet Regis with a smile.
To Regis’ right was the mistress of this mansion, Fanrine.
【Will champagne be fine, Sir Regis?】
【Yes, thank you.】
She gestured, and the server poured a golden translucent liquid into the glass. It was bubbly.
To Altina’s left was Eddie, who wasn’t wearing a sword because there were guards in the mansion.
Beside him was the knight commander Abidal Evra. He was dressed for battle, ready for action at a moment’s notice. To him, the capital was the enemy’s territory.
Directly opposite Altina, on the other long end of the table, a man in his early thirties was seated there.
He was a gentleman dressed elegantly in the style of a noble. His reddish brown hair was combed back, while his brows and beard was as neat as a painting.
After meeting Regis’ gaze, he greeted politely:
【Lord Regis, congratulations on your promotion to First Grade Admin Officer.】
【Nice to meet you, I’m Count Gauchen. I serve as a bureau manager under Military Affairs Minister Beylard.】
He is my supervisor—— Fanrine added. She was a General Affairs Officer within the same Ministry.
A Bureau Manager was a position that could issue orders to many people under the ministry.
He was already attained the peerage of Count in his early thirties, a great accomplishment at such a young age. Maybe he was related to the grand nobles, and gave the feeling of being an elite.
—— Did Ms Fanrine invite him? For what purpose?
As Regis thought about that, the maids served up the dishes.
Altina raised her glass.
The host Fanrine responded:
【Congratulations to Princess Argentina’s appointment as Généralissime, and to Sir Regis’ promotion.】
The sound of glasses clinking overlapped.
Regis raised his glass, and then brung it to his lips.
It was sweet and fragrant, and the bubbles burst on his tongue. As if the champagne was playing lively and energetic music.
【Ahh… This is good wine.】
【This is the pride of the main House. Only 30 of this champagne are bottled each year.】
【This is really valuable then.】
House Tiraso Laverde also operate a winery, and the wine they produced was very reputable.
Regis turned his eyes to Gauchen.
He had finished his glass too.
【Wonderful grape wine. The taste is exquisite, but more importantly, the transparency is excellent. I wish organizations would be just like it.】
【… It’s not transparent right now?】
He nodded in response to Regis’ question:
【I strong armed my way to attend this party. I wish to have a good discussion with the Princess Généralissime and her staff with regards to setting up the Généralissime Office.】
Altina waved her hand.
【I leave all this difficult stuff to Regis.】
【Wait… Your Highness...】
【I learned all sorts of things, but the more I learned, the more I feel that Regis is amazing. I will listen carefully, but I will leave the negotiations to him.】
The dishes were served, and Eddie was the first one to stick his fork out.
【I will leave the talking to you, and take care of the meat!】
【I want to eat too!】
They couldn’t finish the food anyway, so there was no need to fight.
Regis sighed softly. But the other party didn’t seem to mind at all.
【……Count Gauchen, what will happen to the Ministry of Military Affairs now? Do you know what Prince Latreille intends to do?】
【The rumours that he wants to dissolve the organization had leaked long ago. Before the passing of the late Emperor.】
【It is gradually lagging behind other nations in both intelligence reports and logistics support, His Majesty Latreille—— Who was the Field Marshal back then had already thought it through carefully.】
【…And his worries turned true in the war with High Britannia.】
【He finally made his decision after seeing the huge losses incurred by the Empire.】
【But he is actually dissolving it? I thought he would at least leave the name...】
【Probably because Minister Beylard had been transferred to the Ministry of Ceremony.】
【Hmm… This means that he will let Minister Bergerac retire?】
【He is getting in on age after all.】
Retiring after presiding over the Emperor’s coronation was a great honour for past Ministers of Ceremony.
Being the grandfather of Bastian who was in the Argentina faction might have influenced this decision too.
Hence, Gauchen didn’t state it explicitly.
【And the others?】
【Most will lose their jobs.】
【Ehh? Can they accept that?】
Gauchen laughed disdainfully:
【Even Minister Beclard himself couldn’t accept it. Compared to the Ministry of Military Affairs, the authority of the Ministry of Ceremony is too limited. And His Majesty Latreille also expressed his clear intention to cut down on the scale of pompous parades.】
【So this is actually a demotion.】
【Yes. Other high ranking officials… feels the same of course.】
【They couldn’t accept losing their jobs?】
【They feel that they had been doing the same work as their predecessors, so why are they the only ones who ended up like this? They are furious.】
【They don’t think they did anything wrong?】
【Hmm—— After all, the Ministry had not made such a big gulf for the past decades.】
【Normal people will think that things that had gone on for a century will continue for another century.】
【But that isn’t applicable now.】
【Because of new technology flowing in from the east, new materials could be made and new machines were invented. Both the military and manufacturing industry will be revolutionized. I think we are at a turning point in history.】
【I feel the same.】
【Lord Auric, what do you think the coming era will be like?】
【… His Majesty Latreille will widen the frontlines. At the very least, he will counterattack High Britannia and Langobalt that invaded us within this year. It will be the same for the south.】
【We will be attacking huh...】
【After the Imperial Army succeeds in mass producing the new rifles and cannons, the way wars are waged will change drastically. If rifles can fire continuously, then a small number of infantry will be able to defeat cavalry.】
When the Knight Commander Abidal Evra heard what Regis said, he showed a troubled face.
This will happen in the future, so there is still time to do something about it—— Regis added.
Gauchen tilted his head.
【Will the Belgarian Empire walk down the path of a conqueror?】
【It will be inevitable for a time.】
【… And after that?】
Regis looked him in the eye.
Where should he begin?
Was he someone trustworthy? Since Fanrine invited him, he was probably not from Latreille’s faction…
Altina said as she chewed on her meat.
【If I thought he could succeed, I wouldn’t have competed with him for the throne!】
She spoke her mind.
Regis said with a sigh.
【Well… That’s how it is. The future I want to see is slightly different from the ideals of the Emperor.】
He still couldn’t utter the words “The Imperial Army will lose“.
【As expected, Lord Auric is different from the other soldiers.】
【I know that much. After all, I can’t use a sword or ride a horse...】
【That’s not what I mean… Anyway, I respect your careful and thorough thinking very much.】
【Is that so?】
He didn’t answer, and changed the topic instead.
【… I might be from a Count house, but I am just a poor noble from the boondocks, and have no status within the Ministry. After being forced to handle with many troublesome tasks, I learned a lot.】
It was very rude for an aristocratic lady to interject when the men were discussing politics.
But it was clear from her face that she acknowledge Gauchen’s capabilities.
The dissolution of the Ministry of Military Affairs.
Minister Beylard’s transfer to the Ministry of Ceremony.
Most of the employees got retrenched.
And his view on how things would develop in the future…
Regis finally realized Fanrine’s true intention out of countless possibilities.
【Hmm… The Généralissime Office would need to take over the work of the Ministry of Military Affairs. Right now, the Fourth Army is extremely lacking in manpower to deal with the administrative work.
【I know about that.】
【Regarding these issues, do you have a way to solve them, Count Gauchen?】
【Yes, I will do what I can.】
In order to help the shorthanded Fourth Army, Fanrine introduced us to the dissolved Military Affairs Ministry.
That might be so, but this was still an organization that had been dissolved by Latreille because of its serious flaws. So not all its employees were beneficial to it.
There was a need to scrutinize them.
And Regis needed to see clearly if Gauchen had the capability. Was he someone who could be entrusted with work and be of help to Altina.
Regis then asked——
【To His Majesty Latreille, Princess Argentina and the Fourth Army is a double edged sword. They are a necessary force for him to push his hegemonism agenda. But our difference in ideologies meant he couldn’t completely dismiss the possibility that we will rebel against him.】
And of course, we have no intention of doing so now—— Regis concluded.
【I just want to end all wars in this world, not defeat Latreille or start a civil war.】
【…That might be so, but he will definitely see us as famished hunting dogs. A civil war almost erupted a few days ago after all.】
【It’s his fault for sending that rubbish report!】
【That’s a bit far-fetched.】
In the end, in the last letter Latreille sent in his capacity as a Field Marshal, he apologized for the mistake. Since he became the Emperor, all that was now moot.
【His Majesty Latreille should be trying his best to weaken the Fourth Army. After all, he attempted to assassinate its strategist.】
【… So it’s true.】
Gauchen wasn’t surprised at all.
【You already knew?】
【There are rumours. Even though we won the siege battle, the assistant chief strategist in headquarters was killed in action… Anyone with a little knowledge about the military will suspect foul play.】
【Well, that’s how it is.】
【Lord Auric is a hero who saved our country. I’m glad that you survived.】
【… Thank you. Well, our introductions is getting too long, I would like to ask Lord Gauchen about something.】
【How may I be of service?】
He straightened his back.
Altina and Eddie also looked his way.
【…Right now, His Majesty Latreille didn’t weakened the prowess of the Fourth Army, he even bestowed a historical high level of authority to the Princess. What do you think made him change his mind?】
Gauchen put his hand on his chin.
【Ughh… Reasons huh…】
Regis turned his gaze to Abidal Evra and Eddie.
【I would like to pose this questions to everyone here too.】
Abidal Evra raised his hand first.
【I think it’s because he concluded that Sir strategist is a dangerous opponent, and decided to prevent any revolt by improving your treatment.】
【Appeasement huh. As a ruler, improving remuneration to raise the loyalty of one’s subjects is an adequate strategy. But raising the white flag for just one of his subject and diverting from his path of a conqueror seems unlikely. His Majesty is a great person with an unyielding spirit.】
【Oh… I see. It’s hard to imagine him trying to get on the Princess’ good side.】
Next was Eddie.
【I think he was forced by the circumstances? He left the north, south and east fronts to the Fourth Army, while he only defends the capital. And you said he plans to attack High Britannia or Langobalt right? If the Military Affairs Ministry can’t be counted on, he will have to concede that the Généralissime Office is needed.】
【… Because his plan to weaken us failed, so he changed his strategy and decided to use us as pawns instead. Since he will be using us, a more powerful pawn will be better right?】
【Not a bad idea. But he can’t dismiss the possibility that the Fourth Army will turn around and attack the capital in rebellion instead. How should he deal with that then?】
【Hmm…… Well, then he can just cut down those who rebel.】
【Then he need to be ready for a civil war. That’s a bit of a stretch, but I think it’s really close.】
Altina stood up.
【I won’t start a civil war! I absolutely won’t start one!】
【… Of course. I’m just trying to analyze what His Majesty Latreille is thinking.】
【He is always toying with me. Every time! No matter how many troops he gives me, he still think I can’t win!】
He did acknowledge our capabilities, Regis thought.
Or rather, he wouldn’t have allocated precious forces and budget to them if not for that.
The Généralissime could command almost half of all imperial forces. If they lose, the nation could be in danger of being destroyed.
Fanrine didn’t answer.
Finally, Gauchen raised his hand.
【On top of the southern front, the Princess also needs to support the northern and eastern fronts, so it’s an undeniable fact that she needed the appointment of Généralissime. Even if she is promoted to Full General, the sixth and eighth army won’t yield to her orders.】
【I think so too.】
In the past, when she was in Fort Sierck——
The newly appointed Major General Altina took over the role of commander from the Black Knight, Brigadier General Jerome.
Even though she outranked him in the Ministry’s orders, her peerage and military rank…
The soldiers wouldn’t obey her command.
The same thing would happen if the Fourth Army heads to the south. There wasn’t time for a duel this time.
Altina clenched her fists when she heard what Regis said.
She was still smiling, but she had an aura of intense rage.
【Hmmp… so the people in the Ministry already knew that Jerome wouldn’t listen to my orders… Can I punch him?】
Gauchen leaned back.
【T-The personnel assignment back then has nothing to do with me.】
Regis consoled him:
【There are all sorts of work in the Ministry too… But it’s different for the Généralissime Office. If they refused orders, we can dismiss the commanders of the Sixth and Eighth Army.】
【We can do that!?】
Altina stared with her eyes wide.
Regis affirmed that:
【Since the Ministry of Military Affairs can do it, we can do so too.】
【But if we dismiss the commander, than the noble army which makes up the core will be gone too.】
Altina nodded after hearing Gauchen additional comments.
【That’s true. Ah, the Beilschmidt border regiment is Jerome’s noble army.】
【If we dismiss them, then we won’t have anyone left.】
The sixth and eighth army might not be the noble’s army, and there are other troops they could count on, but it will be better to not dismiss the commander recklessly to keep the forces as intact as possible.
【Hmmp—— instead of a duel, dismissing them will be far easier.】
Gauchen got back to the topic:
【I think the idea that His Majesty Latreille was forced by circumstances to hand the Staff of the Généralissime to the Princess is correct.】
Alright! Eddie struck a victory pose.
However—— Regis continued the conversation:
【How would he quell any rebellion then?】
Gauchen said calmly:
【His Majesty is starting to mass produce the new rifles. After the southern front is stable, he should be ready to start issuing out large quantities of rifles.】
The First Army reputed to be the mightiest in the Empire would be armed with the new rifles.
Abidal Evra groaned:
【I don’t want to fight them...】
Regis felt the same.
【That’s true. I think that His Majesty Latreille only gave out the Staff of Généralissime out so generously because we are at a turning point of the war.】
Altina tilted her head.
【My units will need to equip rifles too?】
【Of course, His Majesty wants to equip the entire army with the new rifles and cannons. If we don’t do so, we won’t be able to have an overwhelming advantage over the neighbouring countries.】
It was natural that she didn’t understand.
【I know why you’re confused, Your Highness. If we revolt after getting the rifles, our disadvantage in weapons would be negated right?】
【Yes! I won’t do that though, but will he really trust me?】
【Hahaha… That’s impossible.】
Regis laughed out loud.
Gauchen was shocked when Regis laughed and brushed aside what the Princess cum Généralissime just said.
Ahh… Regis covered his mouth.
【Well… There is one big difference between rifles and the weapons used so far.】
After thinking about it for a while, Altina leaned forward:
【Ah, it’s supplies!】
【Correct! Amazing, you have improved a lot!】
【Fufufu, praise me more, Regis】
Eddie crossed his arms and tilted his head:
【Rifles need ammunition in order to fight. And His Majesty Latreille wants to have sole control over the production of ammunition.】
【Ohh… I see. I get it, so that’s how it is——】
He felt a bit uneasy, but decided to proceed with the topic.
【His Majesty Latreille is preventing any uprising by using the fact that ‘it is impossible to start a war if one can’t obtain guns and ammunition’. And he has even gone one step further.】
After this would be —— the dissolution of noble armies and nationalizing the armed forces.
【As for the Staff of the Généralissime, he will be taking it back later, so he generously handed it to you for now.】
That’s how he actually thinks!? Altina puffed out her cheeks.
Gauchen sighed and said:
【… No one in the Ministry or the aristocrats understand the situation to such an extent. As expected of you.】
【Lord Gauchen already realized this too. Have you told the other nobles about this?】
【Fufu… Nobles are arrogant creatures. They have no doubts that the world exist for their sakes. They believe like an innocent child that the new Emperor won’t strip them of their privileges. Even if I warn them about this, they will just mock me for thinking too much. Their reasoning will be—— since it has gone on for a century, it will continue for another century.】
【That make sense.】
【… The dissolution of the Ministry of Military Affairs is probably his preparation for something else.】
The top man for the Ministry was a Minister, and also a grand noble. Latreille’s true intention is to keep the rifles and ammunition out of the hands of the grand nobles.
Regis pondered—— Gauchen’s understanding of the current situation wasn’t too different from him. His abilities were unquestionable.
【…Well then, last question.】
【What is it?】
【Regarding the rumours about His Majesty Latreille, can you tell me what you think about it, Lord Gauchen?】
He held his breath.
Regis was referring to the suspicion of regicide.
The Princess before him might be Latreille’s former political enemy, but she was still the Emperor’s sister. If he didn’t answer carefully, he might be branded a traitor or transgress lese majeste.
Regis stared at Gauchen expressionlessly.
Gauchen crook his mouth.
【… I didn’t attend the palace’s banquet and showed up at this party instead. That’s my answer, what do you think?】
Regis looked at Altina.
【Your Highness, I strongly recommend appointing Lord Gauchen as an Admin Officer of the Généralissime Office. Not just him, but also the people he recommends too.】
【Really? Since Regis says so, I will be in your care then, Lord Gauchen!】
Altina looked at him with a smile.
He stood up and bowed formally.
【Thank you for accepting me! I will do what I can to share Your Highness’ burdens!】
Ara, Altina added.
【There are actually people who are willing to join our unit that don’t even have any rest days, this is great—】
【… By the way, I forgot to mention the work conditions. Lord Gauchen, I have never taken a day off ever since I was assigned to this unit. Will you be fine with that?】
Chapter 4 Heading to the South
One week later——
Imperial Year 851, August 20th.
The Fourth Army led by Généralissime Marie Quatre Argentina de Belgaria set off from the Imperial Capital Versailles.
They were about 8,000 strong.
On top of the 500 cavalry and 4,000 infantry from Fort Volks, they were joined by 2,000 mercenaries and 1,500 regular soldiers hailing from the south.
The long lines of soldiers marched along the road.
Regis was seated inside a white carriage.
【… It has been a while.】
Clarisse was seated opposite him.
There were just the two of them at this time.
Altina was at the head of the formation, riding on her Karakara. Eddie and Eric was beside her as guards.
Abidal Evra led the cavalry that was to the front of the formation.
At the very back was the mercenary group 《Renard Pendu》. A contract had not been formalized with them yet.
They were merely tagging along because they believed Regis when he said the Mercenary King Gilbert will come to the south.
A week wasn’t enough to post a letter to Fort Volks and receive a reply. Even Regis wasn’t sure how Gilbert would reply, whether if he would accept.
The acting band leader Jessica and her 10 years old sister Martina travelled together.
Franziska still haven’t recovered because of dystrophia, and had to stay in the capital. Bastian was taking care of her.
Elise rode on another carriage.
On the battlefield, the guest had to stay in the rear while the strategist remained in the center—— that was the official reason he gave.
Regis who realized Elise’s true identity was worried about others finding out who she was, and didn’t want her to know unnecessary information, so he quarantined her off.
Clarisse looked in the direction of the capital.
【She is very reluctant to see you go.】
【Hmm? Ahh, you mean Ms Fanrine. A lot has happened after all...】
Because she was traveling with Regis, she met in life threatening danger. Marked by assassins, soldiers bared their blades at them, and they travelled for several days in the treacherous hills.
Why didn’t Fanrine hate Regis?
Wasn’t that the biggest mystery?
Clarisse narrowed her eyes.
【Yes, a lot of things.】
【Ughh… I will be happy if you can forget about that.】
【If you want to erase my memory, than you will have to cover it up with even stronger ones, Sir Regis.】
【What do you want me to do, Ms Clarisse?】
【How about dressing up like a maid?】
【I’m not interested in crossdressing.】
【I’m just kidding.】
【I won’t wear skirts either.】
She probably guessed that Regis would answer this way, so Clarisse turned her gaze back to the window.
【… It’s a pity, I already made the preparation.】
【You’ve already made preparation!?】
He finally noticed that on the roof of the white carriage where Altina’s personal belongings were stored, there was something else stashed there.
【A-Anyway… It’s great that Ms Fanrine joined the Généralissime Office. She is capable and has a wide social network.】
The Généralissime Office staff stayed in the capital for the mean time. After all, be it personnel, supplies or intel, all these would be centered around the capital.
The building within the palace where the Ministry of Military Affairs was using had been occupied by admin officers from Latreille’s First Army.
The Généralissime Office suddenly lost its base of operations… Right after this issue popped up, Gauchen found a mansion owned by a noble whose House was on the decline.
The Fourth Army’s administrative that would turn into chaos without Regis could finally operate normally.
They have hired about 150 ex-officers from the old Military Affairs Ministry. Most of them were commoners or nobles who weren’t the first born, and all of them were young.
As the Ministry of Military Affairs had more than 2,000 staff, this number seemed really low. But since Gauchen said that this would be enough, he would leave it to him for now.
Regis also needed to learn how to utilize his subordinates.
He was a First Grade Admin Officer in the Imperial Empire, but he didn’t have any direct subordinates. Only retired officers and Regis was like this.
Clarisse returned her gaze back to Regis.
【By the way… have you sent a letter to your family?】
【It should be fine right? Speaking of which, have my brother-in-law Enzo went home yet?】
【No, he’s still in Fort Volks… At least he was when we set off.】
【Is that really fine? He had already left home for such a long time.】
【What about you, Sir Regis?】
Why is she asking again, is there any meaning behind this—— Regis thought.
After he splitted up with Altina, the notification that was sent to his sister was…
【Ah, was my killed in action notification sent to my sister!?】
Regis hugged his head. Did they sent her the body and personal effects too!? But they belonged to someone else!
【Oh no… I never thought about putting the affairs of my death in order. No, did anyone send her the notice that this is a mistake?】
【Well, the ones who send out bereavement notification… is the Ministry of Military Affairs, which has been dissolved!?】
What about the pending jobs? The logistical supplies, promotions and assignment had been taken over by the First Army and the Généralissime Office.
What about the cancelation of the bereavement notification!?
Regis broke out in cold sweat.
【I-I will be lectured! I can’t do anything about the mistake, but I didn’t contact her for over a week even though I was fine! P-Paper… Pen...】
【Over here, Sir Regis. Please calm down.】
【There’s a saying in this world, ‘too little too late’.】
【That’s not a consolation at all!】
Regis imagined how he would be lectured the next time he meets his sister as he wrote swiftly inside the wobbling carriage.
Clarisse looked at him with a gentle smile.
【W-What is it?】
【I’m really glad that Sir Regis returned safe and sound.】
【The person you love to tease is back, so you won’t feel bored anymore right?】
【Ara… Even I will have times when I feel plainly happy. After all, the person I like a lot has returned safely.】
【You are saying such things again…】
This must be another trap. Regis adopted a defensive pose, but she was all smiles as she looked his way. In the end they were just looking at each other.
【Fufufu… What’s the matter, Sir Regis? If you want to have something sweet, I have some sugary snacks here.】
【Ah, no… Where’s the follow up?】
【It’s nothing. I’m just overjoyed that Sir Regis who I liked so much has returned safely.】
【Does Sir Regis think it is a waste to be a little happy about meeting me again?】
【No no, that makes me happy too.】
【Well, I’m very glad to hear that.】
Even after waiting for a while, she didn’t follow up with any teasing words.
Clarisse’s cheek was dyed with a shade of red.
Regis’ face was heating up.
He felt bashful and returned his gaze to the letter. His hands were trembling, but that had nothing to do with the carriage shaking.
【Wait… Ms Clarisse… This is embarrassing.】
【No. I was really worried about you, Sir Regis. I really like you.】
He couldn’t write any further. Regis felt that his brain was a mess.
On the 3rd day of their journey to the south——
There was a scout report.
A merchant with a caravan that came from the south wishes to meet with the army.
Regis crossed his arms.
【Hmm… We don’t have the time for trade negotiations… But since they came from the south, maybe we can gleam some intel about the war from them. Alright, we will meet them. Please tell the Princess that we will take a break for 30 minutes.】
The messenger saluted.
After that, the merchant sent a message that they wish to visit the headquarters.
It seems like the other party just wanted to meet with Regis.
Even if it was a business negotiation, Altina will just tell Regis 【I will leave it to you】, and she was already tired from the march.
After a short wait, a lady walked forth from the midst of the troops.
Her hair that was as black as ink was draped over her black dress. Regis thought it would be a man since the visitor was a merchant, and didn’t expect such a young lady.
A young girl in a white dress followed behind her. She had a laced parasol in her hands to keep the bright sun from harming the lady’s skin. Since she wasn’t dressed like a maid, then that young girl was probably a servant.
The thing about her that was most unlike a merchant was her lack of any luggage.
The impression she gave was of a aristocratic lady out on a stroll. Why did the scouts report say that she was a merchant from a caravan?
She pulled aside the veil before her face, and her eyes as dark as obsidian looked Regis’ way.
【Seems like you’re still alive, Regis?】
It was an alluring voice, but the tone was just like a man.
【Ehh!? Ms Eleanor!?】
The visitor was Eleanor Ailred Winn de Tiraso Laverde. The daughter of a Duke house, she was a capable lady with the known as 《La Renard du Sud》.
Regis was just wondering why he didn’t see her at the banquet some days ago, and now they meet here.
Eleanor said with a trembling voice:
【… Regis, it’s been a while, but what I’m about to say pains me a lot.】
【What’s the matter?】
【Please help us.】
A sudden squall that was louder than the wind blew by, sweeping the parasol in the young girl’s hands into the sky.