Chapter 202: Weathervane
「For us who can’t expect reinforcements, time is not on our side. Even the time to blink our own eyes will become a burden as time goes by.」
The voice of Saint Matia echoed in the Great Tent. The Heraldic and Ghazalian generals listened to Saint Matia’s words. Their eye color showed the effort to understand every single point of Matia’s intentions. In particular, the elves of Ghazalia were able to see the situation in a remarkable way.
Of course, that was natural.
Even though Matia had led the Heraldic people, it did not necessarily indicate her talent as a combat commander. Besides, the current scale was totally different from the number of soldiers that Matia had led so far.
Until now, Matia had led a considerable number, which was close to a thousand at best. But now the numbers were literally different.
10,000 troops was not a good number for a city-state army, but it was not small either. It was a number that needed the strong voice of a leader. Even Matia, who had the experience of leading a large number of people, may not have it. Matia’s voice sounded a little lower than usual.
Everyone was watching Matia’s behavior. They were trying to determine whether she was worthy to lead such soldiers, or if she was someone foolish who could draw them into a deadly swamp.
Matia, the Saint, was not the only one who felt the pressure. I felt the same as well.
I felt the pressure most probably because of the influence in being seated at the upper seat near Matia and Eldith. The pressure that almost sewed my skin was now on my cheeks and limbs too.
To be honest, it felt rather terrible and uncomfortable. I didn’t know that people’s eyes could inflict so much pressure on me.
But that was inevitable. After all, I received the heavy titles of Hero and Golden by the Heraldic Order at that ceremony. Once people celebrated a single human being, the more they required of that same human being.
Some of the gazes directed at me seemed to see me as special human being, while others looked at me with hostility. It felt as if I did something bad here.
After feeling the weight of those eyes, I squinted while placing my body on my elbows.
「…In addition, what we need is more than just a victory. We need to deliver a complete blow to end this war and break the dragon’s jaw.」
That was the most difficult and most troublesome thing in this campaign. It felt like a joke when one heard it from the other side. I could hear the sound of the surrounding facial expressions becoming stiff.
The enemy had nearly twice the strength of our army, and their morale was eager to recapture Garoua Maria at all costs.
On the other hand, even though our morale was not inferior, some people were taken aback by the difference in the number of troops. Besides, the quality of the soldiers was also questionable. If our army failed, then our leaders would have to call those who held farm tools and nets. In other words, people who were farmers and fishermen yesterday would become people holding spears today.
Of course Matia knew that too. Even though she knew it all, she said that we must grab our own victory. Although no one wanted to lose, their eyes showed doubt upon hearing Matia’s statement. I wondered if any of them understood her true intention. Perhaps, no one at all.
After all, no one thought that the Heraldic Order could win in a direct combat with the Gharast Kingdom or the Great Holy Church.
The difference in the number of troops was clear, and the quality of troops and equipment was also incomparable. If one thought of it as battle of forces, it would be comparable to a conflict between a nation and a city.
That was why we had to devote everything to this first confrontation. In this battle, we must crush the advance troops of the Great Holy Church and teach them that the power of the Heraldic Order was not a power that they could easily trample on. We had to do it while surviving in the cold weather. In the first place, it was unusual to begin a campaign in the cold season.
The point was that it was a very unwinnable battle, so saving time was our best call right now. No, it was a very negative strategy but one that we could not forsake.
「If the advance troops are around 20,000, then the Chief of Defense has not yet come out. At best, it will be the Chief’s underlings. Well, I think that’s good enough.」
Caria leaked some words while sharpening her silver eyes. She sounded overconfident but her intention was clear. I wondered where she got that strong stance, since I didn’t remember her participating in a battle with several generals in this current timeline.
Matia continued to speak in a well-sounding voice while putting a large map on the military table with both hands. Then, she told the people around her.
「This is the most important land for this battle, a city a few days from here by horse…Philos. This city will be the place that will determine the outcome of this campaign.」
The city of Philos was known by many names, but the most common one was “weathervane”.
The city of Philos was one of a group of cities located between the powers, and the surrounding plains were to become the focus of the main battlefield for the ongoing campaign.
Therefore, this city was always a target because of its surroundings. Sometimes, it became the target of the Gharast Kingdom, other times a target of the independent city-states. Now, which target would it become?
In conclusion, as the name “weathervane” indicated, Philos was a city that had managed to establish its position by being at the side of the strongest. By becoming a worthy ally, the city became somehow an autonomous city.
Therefore, the citizens of Philos were far more aware that they belonged to the city of Philos than to any other country.
The citizens’ unwavering spirit allowed them to accept the disgraceful name of weathervane in exchange for an autonomous jurisdiction.
And today, once again, Philos was required to follow the flow of the wind. That was the fate of the city of Philos.
「…Both the Great Holy Church and the Heraldic religion have written requests for cooperation. What should we do, Lord Philos?」
In the city of Philos, its ruler inherited the name of the city, Philos, for generations. It was a tradition so old that no one knew when it first began.
Philos, the current ruler, put his body in a chair. Then, he spilled a large and deep sigh that crawled up from the bottom of his lungs. He wondered why this was happening now, and the tone of his voice showed deep colors of sorrow.
「So what did they say at the city hall? 」
Philos narrowed his eyes as he tilted his neck. That attitude showed that he already knew what the clerk would respond.
The clerk was taken aback by Philos’ attitude. However, he slowly exhaled, holding his voice on his lips for a moment.
「Yes. As an autonomous city, it is not mandatory for Philos to answer to any power. 」
「The people at the city hall really like to say those words all the time. 」
Philos murmured, holding his elbows at the armchairs and supporting his chin with his palm.
「A small regional city like Philos cannot grasp autonomy on its own. The reason why I have been able to win our autonomy until now is because I have always sided with the strong and kneeled at its feet.」
Yes, the regional city of Philos had always turned to the strong. Just like a weathervane, it just followed the flow of the wind. And in return for being obedient to the strong, autonomy had been granted. Therefore, it was closer to the idea of an “autonomous” city rather than an “independent” city.
The clerk was confused by the words of his Lord, but spoke in order to understand his Lord’s intentions.
「Then, does Lord Philos intend to cooperate with the Great Holy Church? 」
Given the path this city had taken so far, that was an obvious choice. It was a city inferior to the great and a menace to the small. That was why the city was still alive.
Philos dropped his shoulders while touching his lips with his fingers.
「I wonder about that. In the battle between the dragon and the lizard, it seems obvious which one we have to rely on.」
Philos’ eyes narrowed further while taking a deep breath.
「But it won’t be beautiful if we cling to the dragon’s feet and get trampled by it.」
The eyes of Philos, the current ruler, shined in a distorted manner. The words themselves were not that clear, but his eyes looked strangely confident.
There is a twist in this part. You’ll find out in the upcoming chapters 😉 Enjoy it for now everyone!
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