And then, a week later.
The Francois Republic’s 100,000-strong army appeared opposite the Imperial Army.
As I had predicted, they placed crossbowmen and mages at the forefront to disrupt our formation.
Then, they positioned knights behind them, forming a layout that hinted at their plan to brazenly break through our weakened infantry defense and seize victory.
Meanwhile, our Reich Imperial Army, anticipating the slow-approaching Francois, had already built small hills of earth at the front.
On these hills, we positioned crossbowmen and other long-range attackers, gaining an advantage in range by firing from a slightly elevated position.
If the hills were too steep or high, the Francois might come to their senses and not attempt a central breakthrough.
So, the slopes were made at about 10 degrees, and the height was kept very low, around 3 meters.
Even so, for us, who must withstand the charge of knights weighing over 500kg, this was much better than nothing.
Even this could reduce the speed of the horses by nearly 20%.
And our 12th Brigade was positioned at the very front among the three rows of infantry.
All our knights had been requisitioned by General Patton, deemed necessary for smashing the enemy infantry.
“Ah, damn, no knights under my command? How is it possible that I don’t have knights?”
I exclaimed that, but no soldier or officer among the others responded to my words.
Twenty minutes later, Duke Balua, the commander of the Francois army, rode up to a daring distance, just out of our arrows’ reach.
Simultaneously, his army also approached us about 200 meters away, seemingly intent on threatening us, with the Duke at the forefront, shouting loudly.
“As a Duke of the Francois Republic and a permanent member of the parliament representing everyone, I rebuke you, the treacherous soldiers of the Empire! How dare you excommunicate us innocents, causing our poor serfs and diligent citizens anxiety and inciting war?! As believers in Deus, how can you blind the eyes of His Holiness, the Pope!”
Despite the close distance between him and us, and the lack of wind carrying his voice to where our infantry and knights were, none of our soldiers showed any sign of being intimidated or frightened by his words…
…they all looked at the enemy commander with expressions as if to say, “Bark all you want. We’ll just let it go in one ear and out the other.”
Even in a situation where we didn’t react, it would have been far better for him to stop speaking and leave.
Whether he was stupid or so enraged with us that he lost his mind, Duke Balua continued to ramble on.
Even though chatting just before battle was forbidden by military law, our soldiers, seemingly fed up, began to talk amongst themselves.
“He must be an idiot, starting something and then making a fuss.”
“They’re crazy enough to be excommunicated by His Holiness the Pope, who loves all with the heart of Deus.”
“It’s pitiable, even for the enemy, to fight under such a person. If they die, it’s hell for them.”
Even the officers, who should have stopped them, did not impose any sanctions, seemingly agreeing that the Duke’s words weren’t worth listening to.
After about 15 minutes of ranting alone, the Duke finally left, seemingly relieved, and briskly rode away.
Then, General Patton went to the spot where Duke Balua had stood and began to shout loudly at the enemy.
“Listen, you pitiful and unfortunate soldiers of Francois and heathen nobles serving a council made up of heretics who treat the teachings of Deus as worse than dog food!”
Even though the Francois were excommunicated, calling them heretics, which was considered a worse insult than cursing one’s parents on this continent of Europa, was quite natural.
Indeed, it was a splendid display of words by someone who rose to the rank of General in the Reich Empire, where showing a manly appearance on the battlefield was considered a virtue.
The enemy hearing this must be dumbfounded, but even more so, they must be driven mad and frantic, unable to refute the harsh words.
“I already knew that your country was ruled by madmen who, under the pretext of oppression by the Cafe Royal Family, brought down the Emperor and Royalty to the guillotine of revolution and sucked the marrow of the people. But when I heard that you invaded our peacefully living Reich Empire’s people without even a declaration of war three years ago, I doubted my ears!”
In the strategy I proposed, I thought the success of the operation would depend on how much General Patton could provoke the wrath of the Francois nobles.
With his harsh words, calling them heretics and even belittling the revolutionary spirit that the Francois Republic’s nobles were so proud of and loved as madmen would scratch their pride and make them lose their sanity and charge headlong into our infantry’s pike formation, regardless of the danger.
After all, in this era, for all nobles and the ruling class, honor was more important than life itself.
Moreover, in the Francois Republic, while they claimed to be a country of the people, they maintained a class system and hereditary lordships, lacking only an emperor.
Ultimately, it was a world for the nobles where equality of opportunity applied only to the top 1% who owned the land—essentially a rotten form of democracy.
“How could I have imagined that even the maddest of men, those who can’t even adhere to the minimum morals set by His Holiness the Pope, would exist in this world?”
Having said that, General Patton then waved the empire’s flag with both hands on his horse and shouted.
“But Deus has already shown us that we are right by granting a miracle where Major General Yeager, with only 4,000 men, annihilated the 10,000-strong army led by Division Commander Pompadour, as you failed to uphold even the minimum decency set by Him!”
Although I didn’t show any emotions, it was the strategy and outcome I had planned and expected.
Some of the soldiers and higher-ranking officers next to me seemed to be moved by General Patton’s speech, their eyes beginning to redden.
“Remember the warning of His Holiness to repent and return through the whip of excommunication. You must deeply reflect on your wrongdoings that led to excommunication and seek forgiveness and atonement from the Empire and His Holiness. Otherwise, you will surely pay fully for your sins!”
This speech might have demoralized the enemy infantry to the point where they would lose all will to fight, shedding tears at the mere sight of our knights charging with lances.
Of course, they wouldn’t scatter immediately with the adjutants and officers holding swords and monitoring them.
But given the slightest chance, they would try to flee without regard for what was ahead or behind.
Naturally, no one wants to die, and even more so, they fear going to hell if they do.
“If you dislike that, then fine! Try to defeat our infantry with a charge of knights, just like the Division Commander Pompadour did in Hattin Forest! If we are wrong and you are right in the eyes of Deus, wouldn’t He help you?”
Having said that, General Patton quietly and gracefully retreated, while Duke Balua, visible even from a distance, was furiously cursing.
Deeply moved by General Patton’s speech, the Imperial Army soldiers enthusiastically cheered as if they were about to applaud.
“Long live the General! Long live the Empire! Long live His Majesty the Emperor!”
“Damn the Francois knights! They’re not scary at all! We will win!”
“Deus, please protect us!”
Having achieved an overwhelming victory in the initial war of words, Duke Balua led his troops 500 meters back.
The commanders of the mages, crossbowmen, and archers capable of long-range attacks in front of us quickly began their preparations.
“Crossbowmen, mages, and archers, move forward and prepare to fire!”
“Take out all the arrows from the quivers and stick them in the ground! It’s faster!”
“Approach the front of the hill and use Water Balls to wet the ground a bit! Make it harder for the mounted knights to climb the hill. Then we’ll have an advantage later!”
While we were all hastily preparing, the sound of a massive horn and the rumbling and vibrations of marching infantry came from ahead.
The real battle has now begun.
“We will definitely win. So do not fear. Extend your spears towards the enemy and hold your ground. Then, we will win.”
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