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Chapter 0166 Report
‘Cologne Pastries’ was located on a back street in the closed city of Yeast.
It was a popular bakery that made fresh cream bread, jam bread, and other pastries that require a little extra effort.
Cohn was in the basement of the bakery.
“Cohn, your report.”
The man in front of him was a man who appeared to be way past his prime and advanced in years, and was considered by the store’s regulars to be the owner of the store.
However, he had been ill recently, and it was said that his second son, Cohn, was filling in his shoes.
And so, Cohn commenced his report.
“I succeeded in infiltrating the ‘Fifth Area’ as per our objective. In the back, I caught an actual glimpse of what I believe to be the ‘new weapon’…however…”
Then Cohn faltered.
“What is it? Understand that the fate of our country is riding on your report.”
He did not raise his voice, but there was an inexpressible pressure in the ‘shop owner’s’ voice, perhaps confidence that came from the fact that he had been on this mission for so long and reported to the country without incident.
“I know, but…I mean we’re talking about a ‘new’ weapon, correct. So basically, something that’s yet to be seen, right?”
“Hmm, I see your point.”
The owner nodded in agreement to Cohn’s defensive words.
“But from what I’ve heard and from my experience, the new weapon of the Union … is a golem.”
Even after Cohn went silent, the shop owner said nothing.
It stayed that way for a while, and eventually, Cohn got tired and broke the silence.
“Hey, are you with me?”
The shop owner jumped up at those words.
“Ah, sorry. Did you say…golem?”
“Yeah, golem. It is two and a half meters long, about the size of an ogre, and has four legs. It had a human-like upper body with two hands and a head.”
The shop owner snorted at Cohn’s report.
No Central Nation had succeeded in producing an artificial golem.
Still, there were ‘wild’ golems.
They were rarely encountered, and they came in all shapes and sizes.
Once, when Ryo and Abel were on their way back from Rondo Forest, they met golems that looked like rocks.
There were wild golems like that, and some of them, although extremely rare, were said to resemble living creatures at first glance.
Furthermore, while there were no mention of artificial golems being created in the Central Nations, there was an army of golems, also known as the ‘Golem Corps’, in the Western Countries.
The tale had been circulated by bards and the like, and Cohn was aware of it.
But this in particular, although it had four legs, its upper body was so human-like, and was close to an artificial golem that Cohn had envisioned.
That was why he reported, ‘The new weapon is a golem’.
“So, what’s this golem made of and their numbers?”
“The material is unknown. The surface looked like metal from a distance. There were about 20 of them. However, there may be more.”
“At least twenty metal golems…”
The shop owner’s voice faded and became quiet.
A golems of the Western Countries were reportedly equivalent to the fighting strength of five B-rank adventurers.
If comparable, then twenty golems would be the equivalent of a hundred B-rank adventurers….
“Which superpower could…”
He couldn’t even imagine how it would look, but he had to at least inform his home country.
However, a half-baked alchemist couldn’t accomplish the manufacture of an artificial golem…which had been impossible for any of the Central Nations until now.
Considering that the level of alchemy in the Union was pretty mediocre….
“Who was the leading alchemist? You saw that too, did you not?”
“‘Yeah, I did. And I’m pretty positive because I have seen him before. It’s Frank de Verde, the genius alchemist of the Kingdom of Knightley.”
The name Cohn gave was indeed shocking.
Frank de Verde is one of the leading alchemists of their time, and alchemists of his caliber were usually banned from leaving their country for the rest of their lives.
That was because his talent was a national treasure.
Even though it may be called inhumane, it happened even in the Kingdom that was said to be quite lenient…compared to the Empire.
That such talent was in an enemy country and at the center of weapons development was….
But it wasn’t his job to judge.
That was for his home country to do.
The home country’s intelligence bureau would have more detailed and extensive information than what was available there.
“All right. I will report back to our home country. Good work.”
With that, the shop owner began to compose the message.
After leaving the basement, Cohn stretched out and muttered.
“Seems like my second hometown will be seeing some turbulent times soon as well, uh.”
Four days after Cohn brought back the information from the fifth area.
In a room in the castle in Aberdeen, the capital of Inbury Duchy, Loris Baggio, the Duke of Inbury, was receiving a report.
“You mean that at least twenty artificial golems, made by Frank de Verde, are the new weapon of the Union?”
“Yes sir, that appears to be the case.”
Joseph Salieri, Secretary of Intelligence of the Inbury Duchy, made the report.
“I have to say, that doesn’t sound good at all.”
Loris said with a frown.
It was not surprising.
To begin with, the gap in strength between the Union and the Duchy was more than tenfold.
Moreover, if new weapons such as artificial golems were to be introduced, it was extremely difficult to believe that there was any chance of victory.
The situation was already untenable, and the war was inevitable.
They had also approached the Kingdom for reinforcements, but their response was not favorable.
Naturally, Loris had been informed of the disturbances in the Capital, and understood that it might be difficult to expect reinforcements from the Knights.
But even so, the Kingdom was dawdling even more than expected.
“I guess we can’t rely on other countries, after all.”
Loris’ mutterings were heard by Secretary Salieri.
Of course, he understood perfectly what he meant.
“We have our defense force, the ‘Green Storm’.”
Salieri asserted emphatically.
“Well, yeah. Gecko was able to procure the magic stone, and we managed to get it in time…. But, only one unit can be deployed right? Although the core part is for two units, the consumption is so high that it takes those two large magic stones to finally power up one unit…. So, only one unit is operational. Simultaneous operation of two units is impossible. Now, where should we set them up…”
“Had it been built based on the original design, it would have been mobile and could have been taken to the battlefield…”
Secretary Salieri said with a frustrated look on his face.
“It can’t be helped. The Union moved more quickly than expected. It’s unavoidable that many things could not be done in time.”
“The Union has a deployable force of 200,000. Assuming that some troops remain on the borders of the Empire and the Kingdom, the forces that will be sent to our country would number around 60,000…. In which case, 5,000 will be Knights, 200 magicians, and 1,000 adventurers. The rest will be conscripts.”
Loris Baggio, Duke of Inbury, was muttering the contents of the report.
“We have 500 knights, 30 magicians, and…at most 100 adventurers. Even if we gather the people together, we won’t number up to 10,000…”
The strategy had already been decided.
It had been repeatedly developed through a series of desk exercises at the stronghold of the Duchy’s military.
From Loris’ point of view, there was no other way to go about it.
The problem, however, was that there is a high probability that even that strategy would not work.
It was still better than the alternatives.
Then, a knock sounded.
“Your Excellency, Mr. Gecko is here.”
“Send him in.”
Gecko, the great representative merchant of the Inbury Duchy, was a man who is even unofficially rumored to be the Trade Minister of the Duchy’s government.
He was also one of Loris’ most trusted men.
“You asked to see me, Your Excellency.”
“Yeah, Gecko, we pretty much have an idea of the Union’s new weaponry. To put it bluntly, we have no means to defend the capital. As soon as Fionn is ready, you must flee.”
Simple and short.
Even Gecko, who was one of the fastest thinkers in the Duchy, took a few moments to understand the implication.
“You mean we have no choice but to resist with a scorched-earth strategy?”
Draw the enemy as deep into the country as possible, destroy the towns and villages along the way, make provisions for the people to escape, and thoroughly extend the enemy’s supply lines.
Thereafter, the extended supply lines will be repeatedly cut off in local skirmishes to prevent supplies from reaching the front lines, and when the enemy reaches its limits, they counterattack to grasp victory.
Even if the enemy could be defeated, the cities and villages would be in shambles and the lives of the citizens would become extremely difficult.
Postwar reconstruction will be a horrendously difficult process.
It’s one of the least popular strategies any policymaker would want to adopt, but it was the only way.
Loris decided that it was the only way.
Of all the strategies proposed by the military, this was the most difficult to adopt. But the Union’s new weapon left practically no other option save this strategy.
Loris Baggio, being a duke, head of state, and the ruler of a country with an excellent intelligence bureau, had more detailed information about the Golem Corps of the Western Countries than was generally known.
If the creator of this artificial golem had been some random nobody, he would have decided that they wouldn’t be as powerful as the Golem Corps in the West….
But the creator was Frank de Verde.
Until ten years ago, the term 『Genius Alchemist』 was reserved for him.
Later, a young genius named Kenneth Hayward came along, but even so, Frank de Verde’s name never faded.
Rather, Frank and Kenneth were said to have even accelerated the alchemy development of the Kingdom by 20 years through their friendly rivalry with each other.
So if it was made by one of these geniuses…it will be no less powerful than the golems of the Western Countries.
Loris had already made up his mind that it would not be possible to prevent the Union’s advance to the capital.
For this reason, he called Gecko and instructed him to flee.
“Yeah, a scorched-earth strategy, using the whole country. No doubt I’ll be branded a failure as a policymaker.”
Loris said self-deprecatingly, then let out a sarcastic laugh.
Loris then stopped laughing and continued.
“Gecko, if I win this battle, you and your fellow merchants will be the ones most needed for reconstruction. Domestic supplies will be no more and the people will starve. You will need to bring in supplies from other countries as soon as possible. To that end, I need you out of harm’s way.”
It is natural for any nation to accurately predict the outcome of a battle and take action before the battle even begins.
While this is a natural course of action for any nation, it is also a matter of course to consider the possibility of desertion or betrayal.
However, Loris trusted Gecko and his trading company.
Young men would probably flee to other countries, but they would still help in rebuilding after the war.
“All right. Fortunately, we have a strong connection with the Kingdom, which is a major agricultural power. You can leave all the reconstruction work to us.”
Gecko assured him firmly.
He knew that was what Loris wanted to hear the most at that moment.
“I’m counting on you.”
Gecko left the room, leaving Loris alone.
In front of him was a map displaying the Inbury Duchy and the Handal Union.
Looking at the map, Loris said in a small but strong voice.
“We will never go back to being slaves.”
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