19. Chapter 19
Two months after taking control of Aidenberg, the Highserk Empire army turned their spearhead to Ferrius’s homeland. Formed the Myard front army with the three exhausted battalions at the core. Other than two leading units that had moved in advance, four battalions had begun to invade Ferrius Kingdom’s border. Neither Commander Berger nor senior military personnel was so sweet as to let expensive soldiers play around and miss the weakened enemies.
The defense of the Ferrius border, which spewed out the main army and surplus force, to say the least, could be said vulnerable. In Walm’s eyes, the Ferrius army looked as if they were aiming to avoid exhaustion at the border and pulling inland while preparing the force, to repel the Highserk army. The Highserk Empire, on the other hand, controlled the border with only two battalions, causing the surrounding rural areas and towns to fall one after another. The move was to avoid areas with abundant defense facilities and reduce the war ability of the enemies.
It was a rumor among soldiers, but Walm heard that the goal wasn’t to beat Ferrius to their fall but, to bleed it. The Highserk Empire, which was also called the mad dog, was also avoiding siege battles as it would be exhausting, due to lack of surplus force.
Four battalions, including Liguria battalion to which Walm belonged, were dispatched as a backup. The Ferrius Front, which was made of six battalions, planned to invade further. Two battalions, including Liguria battalion, were trying to siege a mine located 15 km from the border.
“As expected even if Ferrius keep retreating, they won’t give up this place that easily huh?”
Jose said, looking up at the Ferirus army in the mine. The Highserk Empire’s march was also stagnant here.
The mine was packed with 3,000 Ferius soldiers to protect it. In addition to multiple lines of defense, the top of the mountain was held down, and if Highserk made a force attack, the soldiers would be consumed more than in a siege battle. The sapping tactic that Highserk used at the Myard border was also ineffective due to the hard rock. It was believed that, half a year to a year worth of food, was being stored inside, so they needed to wait patiently for a military siege. However, if Highserk soldiers weren’t split now, the enemy might attack from behind later, so two battalions were circling the surrounding.
The soldiers were attacking day and night as if it was harassment, carefully scraping off the outer edges, but if they did poorly, Walm and the others would likely get stuck here with the people at the top of the mountain for more than half a year.
At the signal of the Squad Commander, the soldiers shouted all at once and hit their swords and shields. With the addition of trumpets and percussion instruments, the dissonance and the screams of the men were the worst awakenings for enemy soldiers, even though the dawn was just around the corner. Such provocations and harassment continued daily even in the middle of the night, with actual attacks being carried out once every five times. Walm literally played with fire with Willart last night as well. Thinking that the enemies must have been worn out both physically and mentally, Walm smiled, gloating over their miseries.
Shortly after Walm began to scatter noise, swearing and stone-throwing began from the enemy’s position. It was completely out of the effective range, but some things were likely to reach his feet from time to time. Still, its power wasn’t enough to kill or injure soldiers. After a 30-minute harassment attack, Walm’s work was over.
As if satisfied, they withdraw from the position to their base all at once.
“Since when did we become a choir group?”
A nifty joke came from Barito, and Walm burst into laughter. In response to that voice, the enemy got angry again.
“Sometimes you say good things huh, Barito. Look. Those Ferrius bastards seem to want an encore too.”
Squad Commander Duwei said so while nodding with satisfaction as he slammed the battle axe on the shield.
“We’re not a charity either.”
When Walm said something as if he knew better, Jose happily gave a follow.
“Yep, as expected, we have to get some offering for this.”
“But they keep giving us stones as the offering. What a bunch of stingy bastards.”
Building a siege and waiting for the enemy to starve was a much easier task for Walm than in previous battles.
The other day, an impatient enemy launched a counterattack, but as soon as he was out of the mine, he was counterattacked from all sides and went back inside the mine without any results. The mine was suitable for a defensive battle, but the sortie points were limited and the offensive points were easy to read. The Highserk army was steadily driving the Ferrius soldiers.
The siege continued for another two weeks from the lineup without major battles. While repeating harassment and provocation, Walm was training his new skill called ≪Demon Fire≫, in addition to magic by Willart’s guidance.
When you used magic and it became uncontrollable, you might cause damage to the surroundings, but ≪Demon Fire≫ couldn’t be compared to that. He was trying to control his skills in an abandoned mine tunnel nearby, saying that if he wasn’t good enough at controlling it, he could even involve platoon-sized allies.
It was difficult to adjust the firepower, and everywhere on the inner wall was black and soot-stained. Walm had now made it possible to have some directionality, but it was just a matter of luck that in the battle of Aidenberg, he didn’t hurt his friends.
And the most difficult thing was maintaining the skill. Anyway, mana consumption for the skill was high, and Walm’s mana would be exhausted in 40 seconds after activation at the longest. If he drained all of his mana, he wouldn’t be able to use ≪Strike≫ and his physical ability would also be greatly reduced. It might fatal on the battlefield if it was used incorrectly.
Education on Noor and Barito was also conducted. Barito, who received a wooden sword on his head together with his cockscomb, grabbed the Squad Commander Duwei, saying, “I’m gonna kill youuuu”. It became one of the funny stories.
Of course, one second after Barito grabbed him, he hugged the ground and was completely hit on the back by Noor.
By using ≪Demon Fire≫ for 30 seconds, the inside of the abandoned mine tunnel was turned into a high-temperature boiler room. The bats that originally settled there, changed their place of residence. All the bats that were late to escape were steamed.
Walm still had the power to move, but he felt very tired. He felt like throwing his body to the ground.
“Yo Walm, you done?”
Walm’s name was mentioned as he was out of the mine tunnel. The owner of the familiar voice was Jose.
“Yeah, more than this, I’ll collapse”
Walm began to move from inside the mine tunnel to the outside. Although it was troublesome, he took the cooking utensils along the way.
“I was worried because you were late.”
Jose smiled, but Walm didn’t take it literally.
“What you worried about, is this, right?”
What Walm had in his hand was dried fish and meat. He didn’t know who came up with it, but Walm was treated like a natural cooking furnace. At first, the foods burned without a trace because they were too close to the ≪Demon Fire≫, but it seemed that they found the appropriate position and distance through trial and error.
Now some people from other squads even bring their food too. There were even soldiers who made their own steamers and enjoyed steamed food.
Walm wanted to protest, but not only Squad Commander Duwei, the Platoon Commander Kozul, and even the company commander treated Walm as an excellent cooking furnace, so he gave up.
According to the company commander, “It is a proper reuse of the mana used in training”.
But then Platoon Commander Kozul gave a final blow saying “It is an important task to defeat the enemy’s fighting spirit with the smells.”. Walm was convinced that he had an ulterior motive that was to satisfy his soul as a gourmand.
In addition, the abandoned mine tunnel after being used, had been becoming a gathering place for troops because pests and beasts die at high temperatures, and the area near the entrance was warm and comfortable.
Not only Walm but also Willart continued to play an active role as a human water dispenser, but Walm was in a bad mood.
“That said, Walm is enjoying my cooking too, right?”
In addition to transporting food from Myard, the logistics of the Highserk Empire were fully functioning due to the systematic looting of food locally. Still, human greed was horrifying, and any unsatisfactory and dull eating habits were resolved by individual efforts.
The hungry squad members were transformed into wild bird killers who chased wild birds every day. It was a shock to Walm that Noor had the highest capture rate among them.
Noor was good at catching prey using traps, stones, and bows. It seems that her grandfather was a hunter, and she often went to the forest with him to earn money.
Barito, who joined at the same time as her, was desperate to improve his position, but Walm believed it would be a bad match.
Walm honestly acknowledged Jose’s argument. Jose broke the steamed bird and handed it to Walm. The steamed and grilled salty chicken had a tender meat quality, and the more you chewed it, the more you could taste. It was delicious. Although it seemed like a side benefit, Walm claimed that it was a necessary calorie intake due to the high consumption of mana.
“I wonder, will this life be over soon?”
Jose muttered and ate the rest of the meat.
In response to Walm’s question, Jose opened his mouth again after a pause in chewing.
“It seems that the number of enemy deserters has increased in the last few days. Also, it seems that the number of soldiers who won’t surrender is increasing. I guess the harassment attacks and the smell are really working well.”
The dark-skinned young man laughed and struck his foot.
“Think about it. The surroundings are surrounded, and attacks and noises continue day and night. In a way, they’re fighting hard while eating preserved food, but on the other hand, we’re eating something that looks delicious.”
Walm imagined. In addition to day and night attacks, the food wouldn’t run out in a short time, but they needed to keep it moderate. The Highserk army, on the other hand, was eating as they liked, spreading a fragrant smell. The morale could be kept high at one point, but if it was prolonged, their wills would be defeated.
“That’s why. Let’s enjoy this life while we can.”
Jose’s attitude to enjoy the short holidays was really bold, and Walm secretly thought he would do the same.
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