LTBE - Chapter 449.2: Familiar Faces (2)
In the end, Duke Brookley was unable to figure out the reason behind Layton’s interest in the Ascarts despite having done some digging around. However, he wasn’t too bothered by it since it was of little importance in the grander scheme of things.
What was more important was to decide on their next move. They had to urgently proceed ahead with the plan they had agreed on with the Ackermanns.
“Ancestor Layton, regarding our next move…”
“We’ll stick to our original plan, but take note of the extent,” replied Layton after he placed the letter down.
His response put Duke Brookley’s heart completely at ease.
Eager to put their plan into action, Duke Brookley respectfully requested permission to take his leave before hurriedly leaving the dungeon. After his departure, Layton reached out and picked up a document that was lying on the table.
It was a military intelligence document regarding the Theocracy’s allied army that Duke Brookley had brought on the day he came to seek Layton’s permission. There was one page in it that looked particularly wrinkled, a sign that it had been browsed many, many times.
After reading the letter from his old comrade, Layton couldn’t help but flip the document to this very page to read its contents as he had done many times before.
The only son of Ascart Marquess, Carter Ascart.
Awakener of the Ascart Bloodline
Winner of the Challenger Cup
Origin Level 4
Reading through the document and looking at the familiar face in the painted portrait, Layton fell deep in thought. A long time later, he let out a deep sigh.
“How alike… I guess it’s time for me to head out.”
Layton put down the documents and stared at the blue sky above before closing his eyes.
In the allied army’s command center outside Edgar City, Carter impassively stared at a map in front of him with several other generals that sported grave faces gathered around him.
It was already the middle of the night, which was not a normal time to hold a military meeting, but an urgent report had broken on what would have otherwise been a peaceful night, leaving them with no choice but to hold an urgent meeting.
The content of the report?
The Sezes have mobilized their army.
The scouts had spotted the cavalrymen of the Austine Empire entering the Elric Fiefdom earlier that evening, and they had already begun constructing their base camp. The darkening sky made it hard to make a proper estimate of their strength, but it was still possible to make a rough deduction.
“It doesn’t look like an army; more like a platoon of elite troops,” said Carter.
The other commanders nodded in agreement.
The Sezes wouldn’t send out their main army right away even if they had ulterior motives in mind. Such a move would have only forced Carter and the allied army to confront them in an all-out fight, which wasn’t something either side wanted to happen.
There was nothing the Ackermanns could have offered that was worth the Sezes crippling their military force over, for that was the very foundation of their power. If the Sezes and the allied army were to go all out against each other, the only victors in this internal war would be the Elrics and the Ackermanns.
One had to know that the Sezes weren’t loyal subordinates who would sacrifice themselves at their liege’s command. This was more of the partnership between them and the Ackermanns than anything else. Naturally, one of their priorities was to minimize losses.
Carter and his commanders had previously deduced that the Sezes would deploy their elite troops to provoke and harass them, but it came as a complete surprise for them to do so at this point in time.
It was just hours ago that the Theocracy’s envoy party had visited the Seze House with Holy Eminence John’s personal letter, but before the envoy party could report the negotiation outcome, the Sezes had already sent their army to invade the Theocracy.
It was safe to assume that negotiations had broken down and that war was inevitable.
Carter and his commanders began discussing plans, and they eventually decided to split their troops. The majority of their troops would launch a siege against Edgar City, whereas a small portion would head out to tie down the Sezes’ elite troops as long as possible.
However, there was a condition regarding the troops that they would dispatch to tie down the Sezes.
In order to avoid escalating the conflict, they couldn’t mobilize the church or the royal family’s soldiers against the Sezes, which meant that they had to dispatch landed nobles’ soldiers. Everyone present in this command center was aware of that, but not a single commander volunteered themselves for the task.
It wasn’t just about whether they were willing to do so or not, but also about the limitations of their strength.
One key issue was that they couldn’t divert too many troops over to deal with the Sezes, or it would undermine the main forces’ attempt to siege Edgar Fortress. However, it would be far too optimistic to expect ordinary soldiers to be able to hold back the Sezes’ elite troops.
None of the soldiers dispatched by the other landed nobles in the alliance army had the ability to hold back the Sezes’ elite troops. After all, the other landed nobles wouldn’t want to risk severely weakening their military prowess in this internal war when victory wasn’t guaranteed, so they chose to withhold their elite troops.
As a result, the only force that had the ability to hold back the Sezes’ elite troops was the Ascarts’ soldiers.
A heavy silence loomed inside the tent as Carter stared at the map grimly.
The Ascarts’ personal army had already suffered heavy losses during the siege on Cappolicchio Fortress. To entrust it with such a difficult mission at this juncture was as good as driving a stake through its heart.
No landed noble would allow their personal army to be destroyed, for it didn’t just represent their honor and dignity.
A landed noble’s personal army comprised the strongest soldiers of a fiefdom, so they naturally became a group that other soldiers looked up to. They were the spirit of a landed noble’s troops, and their defeat would deal a heavy blow to the morale of the other soldiers.
Furthermore, Carter’s authority in the allied army would be diminished if anything were to happen to the Ascarts’ personal army. That could undermine their current war efforts.
This put Carter in a dilemma.
It would be nigh impossible for them to tie down the Sezes’ elite troops without dispatching the Ascarts’ personal army, but doing so could lead to severe repercussions too. How was he supposed to choose between these two options?
Time ticked by, but the heavy silence continued to loom in the tent.
None of the other commanders dared to take on this mission, knowing that they didn’t have the ability to tie down the Sezes. An hour passed in tension, and the meeting was eventually adjourned.
While Carter was feeling conflicted over this matter, Alicia, who had been quietly listening into the meeting all this while, had some thoughts in mind. She looked at the documents in her hands with gleaming ruby eyes.
Alicia thought that there was no alternative for Carter here. He would have to eventually dispatch the Ascarts’ personal army, or they wouldn’t be able to fight at all. At the same time, she was aware that Roel would be arriving on the frontline in several days’ time, which meant that tonight would be her only chance.
Having thought things through, she quietly appeared in the command center as she usually did, just that she wasn’t here to submit a military intelligence report but to request to join the battle.
“Lord Father, please allow me to lead our personal army and the heretic army to deal with the Sezes,” Alicia proposed with a bow.