The Strategist Knows Everything - Volume 3 The Final Chapter
Part III: The Imperial State Edition
The Final Chapter
Translated by: Hiro02
Edited by: SevenTails
Note: This chapter is in present tense.
The Imperial Army stopped the moment they heard my words.
However, I can feel that they are about to start running soon, both the knights on foot and horseback.
There are only a few thousand of them, but they are enough to start a war.
If I were to misspeak here, they will charge at the Albion army. By then, there would have been no point in rejecting Fio’s offer.
I even made her cry when I refused to go. I can’t let it happen again.
“Imperial troops, return to the fort immediately! I do not seek your help!”
The Imperial Army was in turmoil.
They all reacted in different ways, some looking at their companions, some lowering their raised swords.
I’m really sorry that they’ve come all the way to save me, but what I’m trying to protect is different from them.
“Protect me and protect the pride of the Imperial State” is what they said, but at the root of it all, it’s their personal feelings.
A ceasefire in the form of a defeat.
They couldn’t accept it.
They think they haven’t lost yet, so they want a reason; a motive to fight.
And that was me.
But I don’t want to go along with such a childish, hate-to-lose mentality.
“No matter the reason you raise your sword! The fact still remains that the Imperial State sold out the Commander-in-Chief of its ally and sought a near-defeating truce! Your resentment will never be resolved! If you let me escape from here, the only thing that will remain is the threat of invasion and the stigma of a treacherous nation! There will be no one to hail you as heroes, nor will there be anyone to call your battle a story of glory!”
It may sound harsh, but if I don’t break their resolution here, they will go out of control again.
If I go to Albion and the truce collapses because of an outburst, I’ll be dead in the water.
They have to understand that.
The Imperial State was cornered and somehow managed to bring about a ceasefire as a desperate measure.
“Remember! The horrors of the battlefield! The horrors of Albion’s magic! The horror of your friends dying! The reality of someone you care about perishing! What is the reason you took the sword in your hand!? What did you fight for!? ‘It’s for the sake of someone else’ is what you thought! Some of you lost your families in the fires of war and wanted to make sure that no one would ever have to go through that again! Some of you swore to fight for the friends who were dying! Everyone’s resolve is different! So remember! Remember, everything happens because of battle! It doesn’t matter if you’re a Hexenbiest or a human. When you fight, there will be sacrifices! You’ve been fighting to minimize those sacrifices, haven’t you?! If you start fighting again right now, aren’t you denying what you’ve been fighting for!?”
We sacrifice to reduce sacrifices. That is war.
Many contradictions arise, and we need to fight against those contradictions as well.
It doesn’t stop at just killing the enemy in front of you. Death gives birth to more death, and hatred is a cycle.
Not only the soldiers and knights who choose to go into battle, but also even those who don’t want to fight are involved, and grief falls upon many.
That’s why the soldiers on the frontline fight so hard. In order not to let that happen.
What these frontline soldiers want to fight for is to deny their own selves.
No, don’t do it. I must not let them do it.
I must not let my comrades-in-arms do such a thing.
“The fate of the Imperial State now depends on your actions! Do you really think that the Imperial State’s people want war!? Do you think they’re not convinced by the truce with Albion!? Do you think they don’t want a temporary peace!? Do you think no one is waiting for you to return!? If you think that everyone wants you to die… then come to me! If you think that’s the case, then come to me, so that as a friend who has fought with you, I’ll be the one to lead you there if you think you don’t deserve to live!!”
While I was speaking, there were a few people who were still moving forward little by little.
But after the last word, they all stopped their steps.
Some dropped their swords and spears, and others were devastated or in tears. Some were just stunned on the spot.
What remains is the Albion’s side.
Albion already got a good reason.
The summoning of Frezberg would be enough for them to decide to break off the negotiations.
The Albion side has no reason to hesitate. They can attack at once and overrun the Imperial State.
In fact, even though the Imperial Army stopped with my words, the Albion Army didn’t.
If I don’t stop the Albion army, stopping the Imperial Army would have been pointless.
Randall, who can stop them, is showing no signs of moving. He must be thinking about the pros and cons of doing so.
Jeez. What a mess.
I’m amazed to hear that he is the Keeper of Order.
“All Albion forces! I’m going to Albion as originally planned! Stop the march and stop the magic chanting!”
“Shut up! The negotiations have already broken off! You are the ones who broke it up!”
A large man leading the cavalry responded loudly.
Fio, representing the Imperial side, had broken off the negotiations.
That’s certainly true, but Frezberg is already gone. It might be a good idea to be a little more flexible.
The Guardians of Order, the Protectors of the Continent. This was the army of a country titled as such.
“Does Albion want a war!?”
“You’re the ones who asked for it!”
“Are you sure about that? Take a good look around at yourselves! The threat is already gone! The enemy army has already stopped! And yet, you guys are not stopping! You know that if you clash with each other, it will be a war, but you still won’t stop! You say you don’t want a war, huh? It looks like you are the ones who only want war! You guys are no different than hungry wolves in front of their prey!”
These last words are a clear provocation.
If they have even a modicum of self-control left in them, they will know that taking up such provocation is equivalent to acknowledging my words.
Perhaps that large guy is a troop leader of Albion. He probably will not lose his temper at the enemy’s provocation.
Just as I thought, the cavalry running at me comes to a halt.
He’s glaring at us, but there’s no sign that he’s going to charge again.
If there is even a single interruption, then this exchange of Fio and me will be over.
I let out a puff of air.
Unlike the Imperial Army, I’m an enemy to Albion. I’m not their superior, and I’m not their friend.
There is no need for them to heed my words in any way. That’s why it was supposed to be quite difficult to just stop them from moving.
“Have I been saved by the excellence of the Albion army…?”
The moment I muttered that, Albion’s fortress glowed for a moment.
Noticing the familiar light, I looked up to the sky.
It is a fireball renkestu magic.
Because it explodes when it lands, it causes tremendous damage to the targets if it’s launched into a dense area.
And then it was released. From Albion’s fortress, towards the halted Imperial forces.
I’ve figured it out. Just not in time.
Normally, it takes several people with defensive magic to block this. There are only a few sorcerers in the Imperial fort, and since they have been strictly ordered not to leave the fort no matter what, they probably didn’t join those who have come out.
In other words, there is nothing we can do to prevent it. What’s more, it’s difficult to escape from a blast with such a wide range. At the very least, about 10% of them will suffer from damage.
Randall is chanting something. That isn’t helping anything.
It’s unexpected, even for him.
The soldiers of the Imperial Army, having fought on the frontlines, were quick and precise in their reactions. However, they can’t stop it by lining up their shields. That’s how unreasonable renketsu magic is.
That’s how unreasonable magic is.
When the fireball nearly reached right above the Imperial troops, two unusual things happened.
The first thing that happened was on the ground.
The earth rose up and covered the Imperial soldiers with a dome-shaped earthen wall.
This massive earthen wall, which covered nearly a thousand people, completely blocked the Imperial soldiers from my sight.
The formed wall that formed instantly surprised me, but it wasn’t the only strange thing to happen.
’Something’ swooped down from the sky, passed the fireball, and moments later, it burst into flames.
The fireball scattered, and the aftermath was blocked by the earthen wall.
The wall slowly began to collapse, but the Imperial soldiers inside seemed to be safe.
A situation that I thought was going to end in a complete disaster was overturned in an instant.
“That was a close call. I was worried about the durability of the wall, but You-Know-Who made it explode in midair, and that saved my life.”
“Lord Randall… Who is that girl…?”
“I’m sure she’ll tell you who she is. But first, we must deal with this matter.”
Lord Randall sent a chilling gaze towards the Albion fortress.
Strategists are, more or less, confident in their schemes. Rather than a scheme, it would be better to say that it is the way they envision situations.
By doing so, they gain the maximum advantage while the opponent gets the maximum disadvantage. A strategist envisions and plans in order to make it happen.
That’s why they feel uncommonly irritated by those who interfere with their plans.
It’s really annoying to be interrupted, especially when things are going well.
I can understand how Lord Randall is feeling right now.
I can also confirm that I have Klarus in my possession.
As for Randall, it’s already time to pull out.
He didn’t care if a war broke out or not. Although that was his stance, it doesn’t mean he wants to start a war.
“No, I don’t think it’s my place to do anything.”
“Yes, it is. You are in command, but you didn’t stop. That’s the result of pride. That’s what happens when a strategist falls for his own strategy.”
In response to Randall’s words, such a reply was heard from the sky.
Looking up, I can see a girl riding a giant bird that looks like a pure white hawk.
Even though it is a giant bird, it is not as huge as the Frezberg, but still big enough to carry one or two people.
It must be similar to the Frezberg because it did not flap its wings and hovered in the air.
Riding on the hawk’s back is a girl who looks younger than me.
Her fiery red hair was tied into a side ponytail.
Perhaps as to match her hair, she is wearing bright red armour and a giant scythe in her hands.
The girl’s green eyes catch a glimpse of me.
It’s an irregular outfit and a disproportionate weapon for such a pretty figure.
Well, irregular only in terms of appearance.
On the status screen in front of me, numbers ranging from the late 90s to over 100 lined up.
And the name on the screen convinced me.
The name projected is 【Irene Macefield】.
She is one of the Four Wise Men and a hero of Albion.
The youngest genius to join the Four Wise Men.
Although it’s only been a short while, she’s also someone I’ve designated as an enemy.
“This is the first time we are meeting, Master Strategist of Veris. My name is Irene Macefield. I’m the one who will be taking you to Albion.”
“Didn’t you say you were heading for Veris?”
“I received orders to escort Veris’ Military Strategist from the higher-ups. When I arrived, I found Albion unleashing renketsu magic on the unresisting Imperial forces… What the h**l is going on?”
Irene’s sharp gaze pierced Randall.
Randall c***s his head, shrugs, and mutters with a laugh.
“As you can see. The Albion forces just attacked the Imperial forces.”
“It’s because you were playing some trick again, weren’t you? If you had told them not to attack, they wouldn’t have done it.”
“I certainly didn’t give them a strict order. But I also never ordered them to attack an unarmed army.”
“Well, that’s okay. Right now, I think it’s more important to deal with this situation than looking for someone to blame.”
Just as Irene said all that, both the Albion and Imperial armies got confused by the sudden appearance of another of the Four Wise Men.
The Albion army had their attack blocked by one of the Four Wise Men, while the Imperial army was saved by their enemy.
Both were in a state of extreme confusion. However, the Imperial forces, having received a clear attack, began preparing for battle.
If this continues, a war may start.
My words will no longer be accepted by the Imperial troops. At any rate, they stopped just because I told them to stop, but now they were attacked. I’m sure they’re not very happy about that.
However, Irene didn’t seem to be in a panic. In fact, she probably didn’t even think that it is something to panic about.
“Listen to my voice! Albion Army!”
There was only silence in reply. The moment Irene spoke, the Albion army stopped all their preparations for renketsu magic and sorties and turned to listen.
This is how much the soldiers on the frontlines trust her.
“Do you realize the folly of what you have done? Did you learn magic to shoot unarmed people? What is the purpose of the armour you wear? Do you think you’re here now to wage war against the Imperial State? Absolutely not! Albion will not invade other nations, and we will not allow other nations to invade us! Our country’s policy is to invade other countries, but there is no need for knights to conform to the country’s policy! To whom did you offer your sword? His Majesty? The Duke? Me? No, you didn’t! You dedicated it to the people of the Principality! You swung it to protect your country. That’s what you swore! We are the Guardians of Order! That is our pride, and that is our guide! If you regret your earlier action, then put down your swords! Knights of Albion!!”
A familiar sound was heard throughout the Albion’s army from various places.
It’s the sound of swords being sheathed.
It is also evidence that Albion has lost the will to fight.
When Irene heard that sound, she nodded in satisfaction and looked at Fio.
“Princess Fiona. We are at fault for what happened earlier. If you wish, I can hand over the culprit?”
“I don’t think that’s necessary. After all, the Imperial State is at fault.”
“Is that so? Then why don’t we pretend that neither of them happened? What do you say, Princess Fiona?”
Now Fio can’t blame Albion. After all, she was the one who ruined the negotiations in the first place.
Fio gave me a small nod. Her eyes are still red and moist from crying.
After receiving an agreement between the top commanders of the two countries, Charlotte set out for the Imperial forces.
Even though they are preparing for battle, the Imperial State is still in turmoil.
If they hear that the two sides have agreed to pretend their actions never happened, they will not take any initiative.
Irene’s words are a stinging reminder to the Imperial State.
Besides, the two sides have been stirred up too much. As long as they can’t grasp the situation, no one in this place will think of doing anything more.
“Yuki-chan…” Fio calls out to me.
This may be the last time.
Irene’s mission is to escort me.
I can tell from the way she is acting that she is unwilling to do this.
She wants to get it over with as soon as possible, so she’s not going to give me much time.
No, she’s already glaring at me as if to say, “Hurry up”.
I can’t talk for long when I’m being forced to rush. So, with mixed feelings in my heart, I tell Fio.
“I’ll see you again, Fio. And this time in peace.”
Tears begin to flow from Fio’s eyes again.
If I keep looking at her any longer, I won’t be able to make up my mind.
With that thought in mind, I turn my back on Fio and the Empire.