Release that Witch Chapter 961
"What do you think?" Roland asked, looking at the light curtain on the wall. There was no doubt that Taquila survivors were the most qualified to analyze the demons' intention.
"It's an old trick of them," Alethea snorted coldly. "Due to intimidation failing to work, they will do it the hard way. As I've said before, they're great at combining intimidation with force to deal with the human lords. If it were a city of witches they confronted, they'd slaughter all the citizens once and for all."
"But last time you estimated that it would take them about half a year before they pushed towards us."
"Ahem, that's a result calculated from the average time they need to build a large camp. Maybe they're hasty this time." Alethea's voice sounded a little awkward. "The war situation is always changing. One would be foolish to stick in the mud. I didn't tell you to let down your guard."
"What? Are you kidding?" Roland knew it was necessary to keep watch on the enemies. But when and how to fight back was planned according to the time she had calculated. If the enemies had to spend half a year taking hold, his railway would've been able to stretch before them. By then, with an armored train and railguns, Roland was confident that the demons would have no energy to build any outposts.
"Alethea didn't mean to hide that on purpose. I agreed with her before," Agatha said, seeming to read Roland's doubt. "The Union had paid a high price for the timetable regarding the expanding of the red mist supply line. It remained right even before the Holy City fell. Half a year is the shortest period the demons need before their next move."
"You mean the demons need less time now and that the timetable that had cost so many lives is useless?" Edith shrugged. "Of course, it's understandable to see 400-year-old intelligence become invalid."
Roland felt his eyebrow twitching. The Pearl of the Northern Region, without any doubt, was among the ordinary people on the scene who dared to confront the blob monster. Considering that he was not a typical virtual person in this world, Edith would be the only one here who had the guts.
As expected, Alethea howled, "Common person, how dare you!"
Pasha chimed in before Alethea lost her temper. "Perhaps, it's the giant skeleton that makes the red mist supply line expand faster or the demons are planning something else. If they don't aim at attacking, they surely can set up an outpost earlier. After all, the supply of the red mist will determine how big the outpost will be. Hence, there is no need to quarrel with each other about it. It's his Majesty who gets the final say on how to tackle this problem."
Pasha lived up to the title of the real leader of the Taquila survivors, Roland nodded to himself. What she had said not only put down the possible quarrel but also took his feeling into account. Conversating was indeed an art.
The problem was still there. Whether the demons were plotting something else in the dark or they wanted to march toward Neverwinter soon, the result was that due to this change, Roland could not watch the relic of the Holy City anymore. In fact, Neverwinter did not have many choices. If phantom instrument could locate the target precisely, he might have more time to observe the enemy and see what they planned to do, but now he had to root out this obstacle before him as soon as possible.
"Get the First Army ready to march." Roland drew a deep breath and commanded Iron Axe.
"Yes, Your Majesty!" Iron Axe answered briskly as he always did.
"A bold choice," Alethea praised. "Turning a blind eye to the coming war is no better than suicide. Only by keeping a close eye on the enemies' movement could we be better prepared."
"General Staff, come up with, at least, a plan before tomorrow nightfall." Roland cast a glance at Edith on purpose. "I also want to see how you deduce the plan."
"Your Majesty," Ferlin Eltek, Knight Morning Light, who had formally changed his career, said grimly. "According to Lady Sylvie, the flying Devilbeasts have taken over the place. It's almost impossible for the First Army to march on while staying unnoticed. Once we give ourselves away, we'll get stuck."
Roland knew that too. That was why he wanted to know the exact inference of the plan before they acted. He who designed the weapons for the army certainly knew that Ferlin had made his meaning clear in a tactful way. The anti-aircraft machine gun would lose most of its power if the soldiers could not set it up and take aim in advance. Moreover, unlike the defensive battle on the city wall, the enemies would come from all directions, which made it hard to preset the suitable barrage.
Besides, the construction of the railway was not finished yet, so they had to travel by foot to carry the war materials, and if the enemies intercepted the transport corps, it would be a significant loss.
There were about 400 kilometers between Neverwinter and the suspected outpost. Even though they subtracted the journey in the Misty Forest, they still had 170 kilometers to go, which could not be traveled in one day. Besides, the army would need to set up a camp, and according to the number of soldiers, there will be many tents to pitch. As a result of this, all the steps to make the camp would increase the risk of being spotted by the flying demons and that would become his army's Achilles heel.
Roland did not have as many men as Sylvie who could keep every transport corp away from the enemies during their journey. Nor did he depend on those recruits to fight back hard when they were attacked. If the army's supply line was destroyed, it might not be able to pull out, let alone push forward.
But he could not let anyone see his irresolution at this crucial moment. "I need to see the plan before we work out anything else."
"As you command, Your Majesty," Ferlin said with a hand on his chest.
A night slipped away unnoticed. The General Staff handed over the plan in the afternoon the next day.
There were two of them.
Edith Kant would be the reporter.
"You've stayed up all night?" Roland asked, noticing some slight puffiness under her eyes.
"Everyone was working so hard. How could I take a rest alone?" Edith shrugged. "Just take it as compensation for the mistake I made last time."
"Is she complaining?" Roland could not help asking inwardly. He then waved his hand and did not take it seriously. "Tell me the conclusion."
"Okay." She pointed at the left sheet of paper and said, "If we march on, as usual, the Devilbeasts will surely spot the main body of our troops. By then, the commander's ability will determine how the battle will turn out. Because the General Staff doesn't have the corresponding information, we just assume the worst. Our conclusion is that the First Army can accomplish the mission. However, they'll be routed by the demons and only half of the army, about 2500 men, can retreat to Neverwinter. The witches won't be in great danger, and all of them can safely escape if they don't make any rash moves."
"The result doesn't seem good." Roland rubbed his forehead. "Is there anything wrong with the logistics?"
"Yes," Edith said bluntly. "Once the demons attack the supply line, the First Army has to send reinforcements. However, it's impossible to stifle the enemies completely. As time goes the casualties get heavier, men's morale lower and the soldiers at the front get disheartened too. A week later, the attack from the enemies will become harder to track, and meanwhile, the main army starts to attack the enemies' camp, which can be regarded as the simplest part of the whole war. Your army will succeed in destroying the enemies' outpost, but the rear will be on fire."
"You mean Neverwinter?"
"No, it's a fire in the Misty Forest set by the demons, who have noticed something wrong in the forest. The fire will burn down the safe passage opened by Lady Leaf so that the transport corps have to take a detour, which is three times longer. That means the supply for the First Army will be cut off completely. As a result, the army starts to lose its advantage and has no choice but to withdraw." Edith cleared her throat and continued, "Of course, the number of the demons might be assumed a little high, but there is no certainty about that. Judging from the enemies' urgent action, I'm afraid they won't give up the outpost so easily."
Roland was amused. "The assumption of the high number of the enemies seems tolerable. But who the hell bring up the idea of a fire in the forest?"
"It's Knight Morning Light," Edith said imperturbably. "But after the analysis, we believe it's possible if the war lasts long enough for the demons to notice something wrong in the Misty Forest."
Roland had been ready to see any result, but he was still depressed by such an adverse inference. "What about the second plan? Don't tell me you came to the same conclusion. Are you busy all night for a negative answer?"
Roland also knew that if he wanted to rival the demons on the Fertile Plains, he needed to face the limit of the land transportation sooner or later. He would not bother to build a railway so hastily if he could quickly send the ammunition and the food to the soldiers at the front.
"No, Your Majesty." The Pearl of the Northern Region chuckled. "The second plan is different. Since we can't guarantee the safety of the supply line, we just let it disappear."