Titan Beneath the Heavens
Chapter 215: Twenty-fourth Episode: Chapter 7-1
Chapter 215: Twenty-fourth Episode: Chapter 7-1
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
In the beginning of the 5th month, just one week after the assassination attempt on Prince O'Neil, the continuous chaos of Vielonna had suddenly died down. The city guard had left barricades and important sections one after another, citizens and merchants had once again taken to the streets, and artists and bards once again played music, and the birds sang an aria of early summer.
After witnessing an unexpected religious craze, the days of lawlessness had now been reduced to that of mere imagination. It was only until the government came out to appease the different nation expatriates living in Titan had the people suddenly discovered how ridiculous hatred was. It was as bland as black tea left overnight, but with its color still red as ever, scaring the wits out of the masses.
Prince O'Neil received the representatives of the West Percy Chamber of Commerce and the representatives of the Engel's Chamber of Commerce in succession. This indicated that the ruler of Titan was finally going to give the government of both countries an explanation, placing the blame on the "fanatical religious separatists and the insane pagans who were not right in their heads". The Commercial Affairs Envoys of both countries were rendered speechless. They all knew just what the sudden incident of the previous period was all about. Facing down the Titan Prince's insincere apology, both parties were only left with the choice to accept it.
Finally, in the mid of the 5th month, the Military Intelligence Southern Sub-bureau finally made public the full story of the assassination incident, save for a single word on the cause and effects. All that the class of citizens knew were that some people were interested in the lives of the southern heroes, and most of the naïve nobles in the area were busy guessing just who would be so bold.
Actually, Catalina Don Holmes, the princess of West Percy, was not as brave as people imagined her to be. The first thing she did when she heard of the failed assassination was to take the only guards she had and flee into Faran. At least in the eyes of the Farans, this Princess was a trustworthy companion.
Oscar, however, only made light of the incident, leaving his subordinates all but baffled.
Even the Commander of the Guards made His Imperial Highness the Prince bear a grudge against him until today, but he was not very worried about the West Percy Princess' offense. The Head of the Southern Sub-bureau, Janin Sherman, already plotted out a series of retaliatory plans against the Kingdom of West Percy, but before any practical discussion was conducted, it was already overruled by His Highness the Prince. General Sherman had to remind the young prince, who could not care less, "You are not young anymore, you have to take responsibility for your own life."
Oscar nodded. He ordered his subordinate, "invite Catalina out... and also the Prince of Engels."
The Prince put on his proper clothes. "That's right! Just let them sit together." Thus, Oscar abandoned the crowd of officers and went out. No one knew where he would go.
At the southeastern border, only a stone's throw away from Narcissus County and Bodega, the Kingdom of Slovenia had assembled all the troops that could be mobilized in the region. This army only had a measly 100,000 people, and they had yet to be assembled together. Although the Kingdom's army cavalry still amounted to quite a considerable number, compared to the Narcissus Knight's camp, the Kingdom of Slovenia's cavalry knights were as inexperienced and childish as fresh university graduates.
When a group of countries were threatened, the group would usually split into two factions because of the interest affiliation or interest direction. One faction would be pro-war. They would advocate the total slaughter of the enemies that were invading indiscriminately (the views of the pro-war faction would forever be this pipe dream kind). The other faction, naturally, was pro-peace, which mainly sold national interests in exchange for the approval and sympathy from the invaders, to attain a peaceful environment for the country.
There was no need to pay attention to the pro-war faction. These people did nothing more other than leave their names in history, while in contrast, the pro-peace faction of the East and West were all collectives of conspirators, traitors, anti-war activist and opportunists. The things they did were much more practical than the pro-war faction, especially when a war was inevitable.
The operations of Titan's Military Intelligence Bureau in Slovenia were not very secret. The secret agents even publicly moved about in the king's court. This was attributed to the fact that the Slovenian authorities did not go against Titan's resolution. Based on this point, the Military Intelligence secret agents soon found a suitable spokesperson among the authorities in this kingdom.
On the 16th day of the 5th month, Marquis Raleigh Thomas arrived in Vielonna with a confidential letter, requesting for peace bearing the seal of the King of Slovenia. His Imperial Highness Prince O'Neil Andrew Morisette, as the official representative of Titan, secretly met with him at the "Southern Bank Hostel".
Marquis Raleigh Thomas was the Kingdom of Slovenia's Secretary of State and had the most say in the matter. Just as the Military Intelligence's Secret Agents described in past intelligence letters, Raleigh Thomas was an extreme religious rights activist through and through. He rejected the policy of religious freedom the most and literally spat at the bigwigs of other races that appeared in the palace, to which he had the king forbade him to on more than one occasion.
In spite of the spitting, for this reason, the Secretary of State felt as if he did not want to live anymore. He had gathered a group of lunatics that were ardent, religious believers and continued to create trouble for the other half of the country's founders.
One thing that was worth mentioning was that the freedom of religion policy had been implemented in Slovenia for centuries. Regardless of whether this system was a bane or a boon, at least it had a mild but tangible impact on the people. Even the dissatisfied zealots had no reason to escalate the confrontation between the two gods to religious terrorism. In contrast, such mild confrontations made up the internal affairs of the noble class. Take for example, two villages with differing religions on two sides of a mountain range. The two villages could carry out a long and drawn out blood fight for the ownership of a peach tree, with battles bringing hatred and resentment stretching over several generations. When one of the villages was supported by a noble bigshot, the bloodshed incidents would escalate to a village slaughter. On top of this, such things were actually common in Slovenia.
"So, if Slovenia wants to grow and acquire the same political status as the countries of the Westland, it must resolve the chaotic situations brought about by the freedom of religion policy!" Oscar said while eyeing the foreigner facing him.
Marquis Raleigh Thomas was already old. He kept a silver beard, his lips were chapped, and in his hands was a top hat. His face was fearful, and for everything the Titan Prince had said, he replied with only a word –"Yes" or a "You are very right!"
Compared to a Titan prince, Slovenia had yet to have nobles that were on par with him. If the title of the Titan Prince was taken into consideration on top of the Head of the Andrews and Marshal of the Guards! Even the King of Slovenia would hurriedly kneel before O'Neil Andrew Morisette when he saw him.
Kneeling may be a bit of an exaggeration, but if a barrack that had two hundred thousand Narcissus Knights settled within appeared in front of one's house, and on the other side, one discovered a massive Army Group of a hundred thousand over soldiers of the Guards, let's not talk about kneeling, if he were to ask the King of Slovenia to throw himself into the sea, he would oblige. So, this king was not shrewd. He had already lost his ancestors' pioneering spirit and passion for war a long time ago. He had been frightened by the Andrews' unfriendliness and the imminent war that they were about to face. According to the pro-peace faction, if they were to have a falling out with Titan and the Andrews, Slovenia could only wait to be slaughtered at the Balgan Peninsula, the nook far from the center of the world.
No one wanted to be placed on the butcher's chopping board as they wake up in the morning. Even though the pro-war faction had raised a great number of war resources and obtained support from a portion of the people, the weak king and ministers, who hoped for peace, still prepared a peace treaty to surrender territory under humiliating terms, and sent out secret envoys to make peace. However, history always had the tendency to make jokes of itself, and it also enjoyed taking the people's fates lightly.
The 16th day of the 5th month was a Sunday. Prince O'Neil signed his name onto the two similar copies of the "Titan – Slovenia Permanent Peace Agreement Statute" without giving it so much as a glance. After that, he threw his copy of this document, one that symbolized peace, into the fireplace right before the Secretary of State of the Kingdom of Slovenia. Soon after, the peace turned into ashes in the flames.
"Ola..." Oscar spread his hands in satisfaction after he watched the peace go went up in flames. "Since the issue of peace has been settled, let's talk about war!"
Marquis Raleigh Thomas was not too shocked. He kept the agreement safely into his briefcase. The task handed over to him by the king had been completed. The following things discussed had nothing to do at all with the muddleheaded ruler.
"How much time can this agreement buy for my attacking forces?" Oscar pointed to the foreigner's briefcase.
The old Marquis deliberated carefully. He shook his head at the Prince of Titan. "My king will believe the peace that you grant in the same way he believes in God. However, those whose views oppose yours… they control the majority of the Kingdom's army. I can only indirectly influence their deployment from the Kingdom's capital."
Oscar was not satisfied with this answer. His eyes bored into the foreign envoy, scrutinizing him.
Sure enough, the old man who felt the invisible pressure finally gave in to the temptation. He edged closer to His Highness' ear. "The frontline commander of the Maratore Fortress is my son-in-law. Although he is a staunch pro-war faction, he is, after all, my son-in-law. "
"The frontlines of Maratore Fortress?" Oscar widened his eyes suspiciously. He cast a glance at the schematic of the Lighthouse Strategy spread out on the table. Maratore Fortress was not one of the Strategy's predetermined attack fronts. It was at the northeastern side of the Kingdom of Slovenia, facing the Great Plains of Anatolia that originally belonged to the Persian Mogadishu tribe. This area was not Oscar's main front of attack, but at the same time he used three hundred thousand over men to draw the attention of the Kingdom of Slovenia's main force, he had prepared a Red Tiger Front that just completed reorganization at the northeast of this kingdom.
"If you encounter tenacious resistance when launching a feigned attack in the southeast… and I'm saying this hypothetically, then the Army Group that you stationed at the northeast would not even be able to hold out for longer than a flash of light." the shrewd old man had accurately read the Titan Prince's guesses from his countenance. Oscar raised his wine glass, refusing to comment, but when the wine touched his lips, the glass was lowered instead. "You're saying that... Maratore Fortress' frontline assault can also encounter trouble?"
"No!" Marquis Raleigh shook his head, smiling, his manner resembling that of an old fox showing off its shaggy tail. "Haven't I said so before? The commander in charge of Maratore Fortress frontline defense is my son-in-law. He is a member of the pro-war faction, but the person who gave him everything is I. If it were not for me, he will only be an ordinary captain of the ground forces for a lifetime. "
"Say something practical!" Oscar was had lost his patience "It was you who inspired him to use the face of the pro-war faction to..."
"Yes!" said the Slovenian Secretary of State with a cunning smile. "If he wasn't a staunch pro-war faction member, he would not be the commander of the Maratore garrison area."
"So... if the Red Tigers launched an attack in this direction, your son-in-law will make things easy for my knights?"
The old Marquis waved his hand. "As the liberator of nearly a million believers of the Light in Slovenia, you can be a little clearer with your words. You should say that… when your knights intend to enter the battlefield, my followers would open the country's door for you instead of making it easy. "
Oscar shrugged. He didn't have the habit of being opinionated. So he made light of that "Religious Slovenian Liberator". However, regardless of how it was put, the Titan Prince still stood up from his seat.
"Friends! A toast, for the free believers of the God of Light!"
The sound of the toast resounded throughout the entire space, and the huge dance floor was rocked with numerous figures wearing blue Guard uniforms. Titan's military was about to embark on an unprecedented journey. They had the conviction to win, and the courage and determination to sweep away all the obstacles in their path.
General Eugene Mir Bradley, Commander of the Southern Army Group spread out the crowd. The old man looked light and swift. With just a few strides, he agilely climbed onto the stage full of musicians.
"Imperial soldiers!" the old general bellowed, and the noisy dance floor immediately quieted down.
"Having had a drink of encouragement for our journey, what should we do next?"
"Find a woman! Ravage her all night!" an officer as bold as a tiger shouted in between the crowd.
General Eugene waited for the roars of laughter on the scene to settle down before resuming, "It's still not time yet, lad! Next, we must clarify the purpose and intent of this trip and not the ones stated in our battle plan!"
The scene became absolutely quiet. The soldiers of the Titan Empire stood erect with their hands on their sides. Their female companions and wine glasses were cast aside.
"Slovenia, the sea! That will be our destination! But this place in which we have never understood before is not our final destination. The significance of seizing it is also not written in the final page's written connotation of the Lighthouse Strategy." General Eugene said while lifting a bright silver religious mark. The God of Light, Sapriuses, was cast into the image of a man. This image made the soldiers on the scene feel awed. Pious believers had already made prayer signs over their chests. "In Slovenia, the religious believers lived no better than pigs and dogs. They were enslaved by pagan aristocrats and bullied and humiliated by the pagan people! For centuries, the Slovenian freedom of religion policy had not been as free as it sounds. The price for freedom of belief is the suffering of the religious believers; endless suffering! The rulers tax them, instigated incidents of bloodshed, created national oppression, and created everything unreasonable, unequal and unfair in the world, all for their faith."
"No! This is not right!" An angry cry finally burst out from among the officers on the dance floor.
The Commander of the Southern Army Group nodded in the direction from which the bellow issued from. "Yes, men, this is not right. The God of Light is the symbol of everything sublime in the world!" Eugene raised the image of God above his head. "Sapriuses is the father of our lives. The most high God that created the world and constructed the spirit! His people are all brothers and his faith is sacred! Today we will make a vow. We are ousting the pagan devils that have seized Slovenia, just as we ousted the strong Persians four hundred years ago with the Andrews side by side!"
The shouts of the soldiers turned into a din. They waved their fists and waved their weapons. Their breaths reeked of alcohol and their visions were unfocused. The senseless rage had made them get carried away. They only knew to follow the commander in making a vow at the top of their lungs. They vowed to uproot the pagan belief of Slovenia, vowed to transform the pagan cities in Slovenia into ruins and vowed to tie Slovenia's pagans at the stake, letting the fiery flames burn them for half a month.
"Yes, half a month! That means we have only fifteen days, at most, sixteen days!" General Eugene placed the image of God on the stand where the conductor placed his sheet music. "This is the time set by our commander, His Highness Prince O'Neil Andrew Morisette. We will occupy the entire Balgan peninsula in half a month! Does everyone know what this time implies?"
The soldiers did not answer. They were also pondering over this issue. The actual area of the Balgan Peninsula is equivalent to slightly more than half of that of Titan.
"It implies that our commander did not calculate the casualties, all sorts of sudden situations, and possible tenacious resistance into the time. This implies means that when we set foot on the territories controlled by the evil pagans, we can only advance and advance! Advance without stopping, advance relentlessly! Until every one of our columns, every corps, every division, every group, and every soldier stands on the predetermined position of foretold success!"
The General of the Guards suddenly drew out his sword. "Guards, advance!"
The vast space immediately erupted with the hysterical shouts of the military. Just when the collective volume was about to shatter one's eardrums, the crowd knowingly lowered their momentum. The Commander of the Southern Army stood on the conductor's platform, beaming. He blinked several times at the soldiers. "Now go and find yourselves a woman. Tomorrow, we leave the barracks and charge for the battlefield."
It was the old officer again who walked into the people's line of sight. "General, if we come across a pagan woman, what should be done?
General Eugene frowned with impatience. "Then treat her with a little more leniency!"
The military body once again erupted with ear-piercing roars of laughter! However, women should indeed be treated with more leniency, especially during the period of war. However, such leniency was more often than not, accompanied by slavery and rape. The Titan soldiers were descendants of the Roman warriors. In the tradition of the Roman warriors, they often did such things because victory signified the authority over wealth and women. As compared to politics, this was the theme of war. Otherwise, the soldiers would be dissatisfied.
After retreating from the front of the stage to backstage, General Eugene was sweating all over. He undid the collar of his uniform and deliberately ignored the medals all over it.
The Chief of Staff of the Southern Army Group, Lieutenant General Tantalus Piche, poured a cup of sobering tea for his Commander. He offered the teacup to the Commander with both hands, but Eugene was still indifferent. The old man spread his hands to the Chief of Staff, who was at the prime of his life. "Tatan, do you believe it? I actually blurted all those lies just now! I actually lied in the name of the God of Light! If I knew earlier, I would have let you do it."
"You are more convincing than I am!" Tantalus blinked. He turned a deaf ear towards the old General's complaints. "What's more… if the soldiers and officers aren't given a convincing reason, what would be the purpose of going to Slovenia for war? Naturally, we cannot explain to them the importance of the seaport and the region. We can only use the most superficial reason to appeal to the military. "
"Gold and women?" Eugene snorted. "If only I hadn't known what you were doing except for the fact that you were spreading rumors of gold all over Slovenia in the military."
The Chief of Staff spread his hand and said, "Slovenia is rich in gold, and our soldiers even received a gold mine distribution map from the merchants there. They know what they should do!"
"Oh no..." Eugene covered his face with his hands. "They will become robbers, they will become rapists, and murderers ... and you are the instigator. "
Tatan's face became cold. "You should have been aware of this when I was working with you on the Lighthouse Strategy. Isn't it a little too late to start complaining now? Besides, the person you should find fault with is His Imperial Highness Prince O'Neil. Of course… if you dare…"
"Why wouldn't I dare?" The old general looked up stubbornly.
The Chief of Staff scoffed in disdain. "Then go ahead to Vielonna to try your luck! But don't drag me into it. I wish to follow the troops to set out. At this time of tomorrow... we will enter Slovenia, a country controlled by pagans that are all evil."
Eugene turned his head away; he hated such a way of speaking. However, if he were to be honest about his resentment and anger towards O'Neil Andrew Morisette… that Prince of the Empire would probably not be too pleased about it.
To put it more precisely, Prince O'Neil Andrew Morisette was indeed not pleased. When he learned that Catalina Don Holmes insisted that the location they were to meet at was at the Faran-Titan border…