LTBE - Chapter 441.2: As Expected of My Father (2)
Roel and Nora were particularly worried about how the Theocracy’s internal war was going since they had kin fighting in it. They were also aware that their worry was likely to be unfounded since there was a huge disparity in strength between the two sides, and that was indeed the case.
In the royal palace’s conference room, Roel first took a sip of freshly brewed tea to evict the cold from his body before browsing through a copy of the war report placed in front of him. The worried frown sitting on his forehead slowly unraveled.
Overall, things were going well for the Xeclydes and the Ascarts.
The Elric House had fallen into a state of chaos after it lost its patriarch, Bryan Elric. They were unable to stage a large-scale counterattack in the short run, which would be fatal for them in the long run.
The theme of this internal war was fast and furious. It was for that reason that Marquess Carter and Holy Eminence John personally headed to the frontline, and the effects of their direct involvement showed.
While the Elrics were in a state of disarray, their military prowess was not to be made light of. Bryan Elric was a renowned military commander himself, and he hadn’t spent the past century idling his time away. In fact, the two most renowned private noble armies were none other than the Ascarts’ and the Elrics’.
There were some who speculated that there was an arms race between the Ascarts and the Elrics, but that wasn’t exactly true since the route of their development was rather different.
The Ascart House, being the most trusted retainer of the royal family amongst the Five Eminent Noble Houses, had expanded the size of its reserve army when its territory expanded two hundred years ago in the wake of the March Turmoil. It had always boasted the greatest army size amongst the Five Eminent Nobles.
In contrast, the Elric House had to be careful about expanding its army. It knew that the royal army was keeping a close eye on its military prowess after what they had done during the March Turmoil. Any significant military expansion on their part could swiftly invite suspicion and the royal family’s interference. For that reason, they always kept a cap on the number of their military personnel.
In exchange, they constructed many fortresses.
The royal family was sensitive about the Elrics recruiting soldiers because they could be used for aggression, but they weren’t as strict when it came to defensive infrastructure like fortresses. The Elrics could also easily justify their construction, be it to guard against demonic beasts, bandits, or foreign troops.
Everyone saw the Elrics’ action as nothing more than a desperate attempt at self-preservation, so they turned a blind eye to it. The Elrics used the threat of the deviants as an excuse to construct two behemoths.
One of them was Cappolicchio Fortress, located on the path between the Ascart Fiefdom and the Elric Fiefdom. It was fortified with potent defensive equipment and stationed around ten thousand troops. It was nothing in comparison to the hulking Tark Stronghold, but it was definitely no easy feat to siege it.
The other one was Croft City, located on a popular pathway leading into the Elric Fiefdom. This pathway was connected to several other fiefdoms, so it didn’t seem like the Elrics were guarding against anyone in particular. In a sense, this just showed how much the Elrics hated the Ascarts by dedicating an entire fortress to them.
It was just a pity that Cappolicchio Fortress failed to pull its weight when the war started. It only lasted for a week before it was taken down, and the reason for that was the Ascarts’ swift movement.
According to the report, the Ascarts had been secretly mobilizing its army since the 15th of December, five days before the Xeclydes declared war against the Elrics on the 20th. As soon as the Xeclydes made their war declaration, the Ascarts charged into the Elric Fiefdom and advanced as swiftly as they could. Marquess Carter even abandoned the main force in favor of the vanguard.
It was a risky but highly effective move.
In a surprising turn of events, their swift advancement allowed them to cut off an adorable group of people—the Elrics’ reinforcement army en route to Cappolicchio Fortress.
Ultimately, Bryan’s absence had left a gaping hole in the Elrics’ command chain, which resulted in a series of fatal confusions and delays. Even though the Xeclydes had declared war on the Elrics on the 20th of December, the Elrics’ reinforcement army didn’t set off until the 22nd.
Due to that, they ended up stumbling upon the Ascarts’ vanguard troops.
There was no way Marquess Carter would allow the reinforcement army to get to Cappolicchio Fortress and become a menace to them. That would have prolonged the war and greatly increased the casualties.
Thus, he decisively ordered the vanguard troops to wipe out the reinforcement army.
Regardless of which army it was, those who were assigned to the vanguard were bound to be the elites. The vanguard troops that were currently led by Carter consisted of his personal army and close aides, making it one of the most powerful forces in the Ascart Fiefdom alongside Roel’s heretic army.
Even so, it wasn’t easy for them to deal with an enemy force severalfold larger than theirs.
After a night of bloodshed, Carter and his vanguard troops managed to keep the reinforcement army from entering Cappolicchio Fortress, but they sustained significant casualties in the process. Nevertheless, they were still threatening enough to keep the soldiers inside Cappolicchio Fortress from opening the city gates.
If they could just hold their ground till the Ascarts’ main army arrived, it would be their victory. Unfortunately, things rarely go according to plan in the real world.
The commander of Cappolicchio Fortress was no fool either. The following morning, he took a risk and opened the city gates of Cappolicchio Fortress to dispatch several cavalry platoons, which coordinated with the reinforcement army to launch a pincer attack against Carter and his vanguard troops.
The battle intensified right away.
According to the war report, they fought all the way from dawn till evening. It was a savage battle. Were it not for Carter utilizing his overwhelming prowess as an Origin Level 2 transcendent to claim the head of the defending general, thus greatly rousing the morale of his soldiers, his vanguard troops probably wouldn’t have been able to last till the end.
Fortunately, the Ascarts’ main army arrived at nightfall, forcing both the reinforcement army and the cavalry platoons to retreat for the time being.
Usually, a commander would have his troops reorganize and rest up for the day upon the arrival of the main army, but once again, Carter’s decision caught the enemy off-guard. Despite having fought for an entire day now, he led the Ascarts’ main army to conduct a night ambush on the camp of the Elrics’ reinforcement army.
The soldiers on both sides weren’t in good conditions. One was exhausted from having marched a long distance whereas the other had fought for an entire day now, so neither one was in a better state than the other. It was practically a battle of willpower by this point, and the Ascart soldiers had the advantage in that aspect.
Knowing that Cappolicchio Fortress dared not to open its city gates at night, the Ascarts’ main army was able to go all out without any worries of getting flanked. After a night of fighting, the Elrics’ reinforcement army finally succumbed to the Ascarts’ relentless assault.
By daybreak, Cappolicchio Fortress was already an isolated city. The morale of its soldiers was lower than ever, and some of them lost their will to fight.
The crux of fortress warfare was to stall time till the arrival of reinforcements, but the reinforcement army that was supposed to come to their aid was already defeated. With no one else to come to their aid in the near future, how could the soldiers not get demoralized?
Carter made use of this opportunity to pressure Cappolicchio Fortress to surrender. He would bring his army on a tour around the perimeter of the fortress every day to train their voices.
Roel wasn’t sure what they were shouting, but it was probably something along the lines of ‘Surrender and we’ll spare your lives’. A few days later, Cappolicchio Fortress finally gave in to the mounting pressure and surrendered.
In truth, the main reason behind the surrender was neither because the enemy soldiers had completely lost hope nor that there were insufficient resources in the fortress. Rather, it was because the defending general was no longer around.
That’s right, the guy whom Carter had killed on the very first day.
With the curtains drawn on the Elrics’ prided fortress, the Ascart army was able to advance further into the Elric Fiefdom.
Meanwhile, the Xeclydes were still busy trying to siege Croft City.
Knowing that it could be dangerous for him to confront the Elrics alone, Carter decided to first head northward to aid the Xeclydes. With a combined pincer attack, they were able to swiftly besiege it and successfully take it down within a week.
The defending army eventually surrendered whereas its general chose to end his own life.
Roel initially thought that the general was fiercely loyal to the Elrics, but the subsequent investigation report from the inquisitors revealed that the general had been colluding with the evil cultists. It was likely that the general had chosen to commit suicide knowing that the church wouldn’t have let him off.
Following the surrender of Croft City, the allied forces of the Ascarts and the Xeclydes advanced deeper into the Elric Fiedom. Within three days, they were able to reach the vicinity of the Elric Fiefdom’s capital, Edgar City.
However, the battle wasn’t over yet.
“Edgar City is one of the sturdiest fortresses in the Theocracy. It’s fortunate that Bryan is already dead, so they shouldn’t face too much of a problem there.”
In the conference room, Nora heaved a sigh of relief after looking through the war report. In contrast, Roel fell into deep thought. He hesitated for a long while before finally turning to Nora.
“Nora, there’s something I need to talk to you about.”
“What’s wrong? There’s such a grim look on your face.”
“I wish to head to the frontline.”
Nora’s pupils dilated upon hearing Roel’s words.