Chapter 238: Centuries of Strategic Planning (One)
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
“Him? Mindis the Third?” Archduke Roknee shook his head mockingly. “He is your so-called threat?
“A meek king who’s been dead for more than a hundred years?”
Lampard stared coldly at Archduke Roknee.
The expression in his eyes made the latter uncomfortable.
Archduke Lecco sat back down by the brownish-black, rectangular table and let out a deliberate cough.
A few seconds later, Lampard finally turned his head.
“Most people—including you may think that he has not done much. Perhaps, he was even rather weak.” The Archduke of Black Sand Region let out a soft hum of disdain. “Worry not. I thought the same when I was young.”
His eyes turned cold. “Mindis Jadestar the Third.”
Trentida, who was staring at Lampard the whole time, felt a slight chill.
“What does anything have to do with him?” Olsius asked.
Lampard took a deep breath and looked at Olsius.
“Do you know him? This so-called ‘Virtuous King’?” the Archduke of Black Sand Region asked him impassively instead.
The other archdukes frowned at the same time.
“I heard from Scholar Costa a long time ago; not much.” Roknee narrowed his eyes, and recalled his days back in the study. “But I’ve heard that he hasn’t done anything significant.”
There was a glint in Lampard’s eyes before he snorted coldly. “Hasn’t done anything significant?”
“My impression of him is not a particularly memorable one. He reportedly stalled the Fourth Peninsular War through various diplomatic tactics,” Roknee answered flatly. “A king with no legacy—uncommon even for Constellation.”
Lampard’s facial expression remained unchanged.
“I heard that he was a weak king, often making compromises with the vassals.” Trentida rubbed his chin, pondering. “Things like the so-called High Noble Parliament, or the National Conference were his legacies—turning the Renaissance Palace into a noisy market place, lowering?efficiency in state affairs and creating an unpleasant sight to the public.”
“That’s it?” Lampard raised an eyebrow. “No more?”
“He selected a large group of people to manage his territories. He preferred to employ officials among the low-ranking nobles.” Archduke Lecco was ruminating on something. “He even established rules for that—as a result, he offended a lot of vassals, who took over the roles commonly passed down within their families.”
Frowning, Olsius picked up where he left off. “My father used him as an example to warn us about merchants—allegedly, Mindis the Third borrowed money from merchants to sustain the country’s finance. He was even forced to sign special permits for business to these merchants to fill up the hole left by debts. Hence, the nobles mocked him and called him the merchants”servant king’ behind his back.”
Lampard heaved a long sigh.
“These are your impressions of the ‘Virtuous King’?”
The archdukes’ reactions were varied. Trentida shrugged, while Roknee still wore a frosty expression. Olsius had a confused look on his face.
As for Archduke Lecco, his murky eyes glistened with a strange and unique emotion.
“Twelve years ago, that captive, Vlad told me…” Lampard closed his eyes, seemingly emotional. “He used to be a mere tax collector in the Northern Territory. However, he was then recruited as a ration officer—a mere tax collector during peacetime, being in charge of transportation and logistics during the war; it was a rather common arrangement among the southern and central troops of Constellation.”
Lampard opened his eyes all of sudden.
“But tax collector or ration officer, these positions required the candidates to pass certain tests—tax collectors had to be meticulous, and excel at mathematics as well as accounting.”
Facing the doubtful, puzzled looks of his fellow archdukes, the Archduke of Black Sand Region’s speech continued. He sounded weary. “If one could not pass this test, even if he was of an aristocratic background, he would not have the qualifications to become an official.”
“What did you say?”
Trentida asked with some doubt, “Test?”
“It sounds outlandish, doesn’t it?” the Archduke of Black Sand Region said coldly. “I bet, other than the time you were punished in the study for not being able to memorize certain family mottos as a child, you’ve never heard of this term for the rest of your life.”
The other archdukes were slightly startled.
“But these were the ration officers in Constellation’s army.” Lampard took a deep breath. Wariness and solemness flashed in his eyes. “That is not all.
“There were court-martial judges, scriveners, logistics officials, medical officers in their army… There were too many. I cannot remember clearly.” At that very second, Lampard’s face became extremely dark, as though he was recalling a very unpleasant memory. “During times of peace, they were government officials who worked in their respective fields, and all of them went through special examinations—a military judge had to be fair and familiar with laws; a scrivener had to be well-informed in procedures and information transfer; a logistics official had to be familiar with various goods and materials—”
Trentida interrupted him.
“I understand what you mean now.” The Archduke of Reformation Tower rolled his eyes and arched his eyebrow slightly. “You mean the middle-ranking officers in the Starlight Brigade were literate and knowledgeable? That’s why they could recover from the losses so quickly…”
“Nonsense,” Lampard retorted brusquely, and the words Archduke Trentida intended to say were stuck in his throat. “Most of our Eckstedtian military officers were literate nobles who knew Mathematics, and read poetry. Some could even recite one or two lines of scripture from the temple.
“But what could they do when they joined the army to lead civilian soldiers from the countryside?”
Archduke Lecco tapped the rectangular table softly. He and Lampard stared at each other across the table.
“So, what you mean is,” the old archduke said softly, the key to the Starlight Brigade’s victory was these low-ranking government officials?”
Lampard glanced at the other three archdukes.
“I remember when I was young, I often heard my Uncle Kaslan brag about the White Blade Guards’ all-around excellence—their strict and cruel training made them qualified for almost every position: suicide squad, messenger, logistics unit, scout, overseer of executions, and so on.
“They were a remarkable elite force.”
The Archduke of Black Sand Region changed the focus of the discussion drastically.
“Therefore, during every war, countless combatants were summoned. The king would then fill the roles of low-ranking officers, regiment commanders, and others with his White Blade Guards as well as nobles who were loyal to him. Similarly, we, the archdukes also assigned our trusted followers to fill every position. Are you familiar with this kind of arrangement?”
Lampard tilted his head. His weary face was illuminated by the firelight.
“What about Constellation’s army?” he said flatly.
The other archdukes felt their chests tighten.
Lampard’s thick and husky voice echoed throughout the hall.
“They had gotten used to a fixed structure for a long time.
“Ration officers were responsible only for calculations and transportation. Logistics officials focused only on the distribution of supplies. Military judges only needed to enforce the rules and execute beheadings. Scriveners were in charge of communication…
“The logistics management of the recruited army did not have to be decided in the last second by superior officials, and they absolutely did not need make revolutionary changes under the lead of a different general.”
Lampard slammed his hand onto the table. His eyes shone.
His stare made the other archdukes frustrated.
“Can you imagine that?”
Gritting his teeth, Lampard wore a ferocious expression. “We Northlanders… No, nearly every army in this world has been recruiting soldiers from their territories for hundreds of years. We make a habit of paying a large sum of money, letting our trusted aides or subordinate vassals train their own newly-recruited soldiers. Equipment, rations, and other supplies are provided. They just have to hack the enemy soldiers, chop some firewood, and execute captives, don’t they?”
“Regarding the matters you brought up, these are the procedures only full-time armies have time as well as energy to plan and execute in great detail.” Archduke Roknee unfolded his arms, and frowned before he retorted, “However, victory or defeat on the battleground is usually decided in a brief clash. Rather than exhausting our attention on human resources, and offending countless vassals in the process, we should—”
Lampard raised his head sharply and glanced at the Archduke of the City of Faraway Prayers.
In his heart, he shook his head in derision.
“True. During the war, these matters were trivial compared to warfare, but they were not to be ignored.” Despite being filled with disdain, Lampard still explained patiently, “Only experienced, full-time military forces could become familiarized and form their own traditions as well as protocols after spending years on the battleground. The White Blade Guards and Glacial Sentries were such examples.”
Roknee’s facial expression froze.
“But that is how it operates. The efficiency of their transport and logistics were twice as much compared to ours. It was easy to reassign personnel. They were meticulous when it came to the discipline of their military. Rewards and punishments were clearly stated. There were established rules for each advance and retreat.”
Lampard glanced over each of the archdukes, eyeing the looks of disbelief and astonishment on their faces.
“Because of these trivial details, those newly-recruited, weak-limbed teenage soldiers, whom we never took seriously performed better than we did by a considerable margin—even when they were crushed, as long as they followed their rules, procedures and habits, they managed to sustain logistics, reassemble, and recover from their loss within a short time.”
Lampard took a deep breath with a grimace.
“Every day for the past twelve years, I listened to Poffret, that piece of garbage grumble about the unfairness they faced.” The Archduke of Black Sand Region’s eyes flared. “‘Why is it always us, Beacon Illumination City?’ That’s the only thing that brat knows how to say.”
Olsius and Trentida exchanged glances, sensing the feeling of unease in one another.
Lampard’s tone became increasingly furious. “What he didn’t see was, due to a number of Horace Jadestar’s assaults on our ten-thousand men army, the supply chains we were trying hard to maintain faltered. Even the siege of the Fortress had to be halted.
“He did not see that after we got rid of the Butcher of Constellation, how much time we had spent to reassign personnel, rearrange routes, gather rations, and reassemble the supply chains for the frontlines.
“He also did not see that, at the very same time—the Starlight Brigade from the south for example—through the common officials who were specialized in their respective tasks, the Constellatiates still managed to arrange the next supply, the next rest station, and the next spot for assembly in a continuous as well as meticulous manner in a high-stress environment despite the desperate situation. They re-assembled the scattered troops and skirmishers in a highly efficient and effective way—this is the truth behind ‘the Inextinguishable Starlight’!”
Lampard exhaled a puff of breath through his nose in fury. It was as if he intended to huff out the resentment he held for the past twelve years. “King Nuven complained that we held him back during his campaign, and because of Poffret’s big mouth, Nuven ordered his grandfather to step down from his position—I did think sometimes, that perhaps compared to our enemy, we probably had indeed held him back.”
Deep in thought, Lecco gawked at the rectangular table with a grim expression.
“If that is all you want to say.” Roknee frowned. “The Constellatiates have an excellent method of operation in military logistics… But it still is far from a sufficient reason to persuade us.”
The corners of Lampard’s lips curved upwards in a faint, frosty smile.
His laughter was filled with disdain, mockery, and hints of fury.
Lampard stood up from the seat slowly. His shadow was cast onto the center of the hall. He looked like a glacier bear just waking up from slumber.
“You think that’s all?
“None of your territories are closer to Constellation than mine.” Lampard placed his hand onto his saber with a ferocious look in his eyes. “Do you have any idea what I saw over the past few decades?”
Trentida narrowed his eyes.
A hint of unease rose within his chest.
Meanwhile, Olsius exhaled deeply.
Roknee suppressed the urge to interrupt him, listening to Lampard’s words in silence.
“No.” The Archduke of Black Sand wore a vicious expression. His tone of voice was terrifying. “The Inextinguishable Starlight is merely a scale on the Great Dragon, a feeble glow in one corner of the galaxy.
“It’s unknown when it began…
“That’s how their whole kingdom has been operating.”
Archduke Lecco peered at Lampard’s face, listening to what he said. A strange wave of panic arose within him.
‘That’s how it has been operating?
‘What does that mean?’