Titan Beneath the Heavens
Chapter 230: Twenty-fifth Episode: Chapter 7
Chapter 230: Twenty-fifth Episode: Chapter 7
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Numerous cozy coffee houses filled the streets of Roman, Italia. One of them was situated at the end of St Jonas Avenue. The Prince of Titan and Princess of Italia were out on a trip together. They were heading for Prag Private Art Gallery which was located at the end of the avenue. It was already noon, and the heavy downpour which had not stop since morning was still ongoing outside of the window.
Oscar was seated opposite Caro Arsia in the empty coffee house. A handful of attendants and the sincere owner were waiting. Perhaps the Prince of Titan had mentioned something funny, Caro Arsia, the Princess of Italia suddenly laughed out heartily. In that instant, everyone in the room including the court knights fell for her.
"You know what? Being a knight is not as easy as others think!" Oscar pointed at the escort who was waiting outside in the rain as he took a sip of milky coffee. "I remember my father once told me that a long time ago, a knight was required to put on a dozen kilograms of armor and armed with 20 kilograms of spears for a fight. They had to rely on the support from servants as well as a special lifting device to mount the horse."
Roya was still in stitches as if she had heard something that would tickle even the God of Light.
"Then... then..." Oscar was panting for air in the midst of laughter, "Then they were hung on the hooks of the device and lifted up into the air by the servants. When they have summoned the warhorses and positioned on the horseback, haha, the cavaliers can then go out and fight!"
"Is it not troublesome to have all that heavy equipment on them?" Princess of Italia blinked her blue eyes that were as clear as Swan Lake. She had dyed her hair black like the wings of a crow, and her hair was trimmed into defined sideburns on both sides.
Oscar retrieved his attention from the beauty. He spread his hands apart and shrugged nonchalantly, "It's not a big deal! Not at all! For most knights, life and death happen within moments. They scream 'Andrew Haila' when the horn is sounded, then put on their mask. They have to remember to cheer before putting on the helmet. If you shout and yell inside of the tin can, that deafening sound can cost you a concussion! Don't challenge it! Even I have seen it happened several times."
The Princess of Italia laughed along with the Prince of Titan, but Oscar's smile was quickly frozen on his face as he thought about the life and death he had experienced.
"In the end, you know, they will be on the vanguard! Looking at the horse's heads in front of you, the scenery and dust speed past your eyes and faces of the enemy becoming clearer and clearer... Pay attention! By this time the commander of the cavalry will raise his blade against the sunlight, and the continuous flashing of the light reflected is your signal! You will lift your spear like this..." Prince of Titan demonstrated as he spoke. He gripped his fist around the sword's handle, its scabbard pointing to the front, his entire arm at parallel with the hilt.
"Look carefully! Aim at the enemy that you want to kill! Widen your eyes! Don't get disturbed by your comrades, ignore your quivering body, and most importantly forget about the flying arrows in the sky. Keep your vision in front, lean your body slightly forward, aim the tip of the flashing blade at the enemy's heart! Pay clear attention..."
Oscar grimaced and yelled without warning. His elbow pushed forward, and the scabbard jolted forward like a bolt of lightning!
Caro Arsia was terrified by the sudden movement and his distorted expression. She flew one hand to the front of her chest and held the side of the table with another.
"I'm sorry..." Oscar only realized his misbehavior after a long while. He seemed to have been absorbed into his own world.
"After this past couple of days…do you think that I'm a boring person?" Prince of Titan touched his nose in an awkward manner as he looked at Princess of Italia with slight embarrassment. Today was not the first time they went on a trip by themselves. They seemed to be inseparable in public places without the presence of Lady Sasha E.
Caro Arsia shook her head at Oscar and held the man's hand that was gripping the sword. "Faith arises with practice. Living on faith will make it unshakable like a solid rock. Like this, you can obtain true spiritual freedom!"
Oscar looked at the slender, milk-skin fingers laid on his own palm. He wanted to experience the warmth of his heart, but he suddenly thought of something that made him pull away his hand immediately.
The view of houses gradually turned into cottages that scattered sparsely in the outskirt. The main street was slowly getting more deserted and eventually they turned into a country road. Two strong and powerful men were sorting out some leaves on the side of the road to feed their farm animals. They first tied the leaves into bundles, then each carried a couple of bundles on their back and set off for the cottage in the rain.
Once out of the village, the spire of the castle entered their view. Perhaps that was the massive mansion that Princess of Italia had been searching for all this while. Caro Arsia did not visit this royal castle often in the past as she used to go to the monastery deep in the woods. But today, she was going to disappoint her God.
O'Neil Andrew Morisette's raytheon was in his prime. It galloped in the rain in high spirits and the cold rain drove away from the heat accumulated in its body. But its owner, to be honest, Oscar regretted to have abandoned his knights and let Roya took him out to wander around the city.
Princess Italia's face was dripping droplets of water. A scarlet blush crept over her face, along with shyness, determination and dissatisfaction. Prince of Titan knew what this expression meant. Dejected, guilt and deep regrets also joined in the parade of emotions. Oscar didn't know what he was doing! He was not suitable for Caro Arsia although the king and prince of the Italia Royal Family had hinted him regarding this, either intentionally or unintentionally.
At the gate of the castle, the royal attendants looked puzzled at the sudden presence of Her Royal Highness Princess. The princess was not accompanied by attendants but instead brought back a man. A man who was noble and inviolable, just like his horse. The castle butler knew something was up when he was notified about the princess' surprise visit! Just like the rest of the attendants, he did not make any comment but greeted the two Highnesses with respect. In fact, he had ordered the communication officer to hurry to the royal court. The pure and kind precious treasure of Italia was intending to submit herself to other people. The old and experienced butler would know this sort of things. It would be a huge trouble if they do not notify the court about this!
Oscar sat alone in the living room. The bumpy road along the way made the princess looked like a wreck. The hem of her skirt was soaking wet, her down feathered cloak was stained with mud. Caro Arsia hurried off to change her outfit even if the Prince of Titan urged her to stay. Moments later, Oscar realized his own strange request. How could he ask a princess to sit in the living room in her wet clothes with him? Really! He just did not want anything to happen here.
"Roya... Roya..." Oscar finally got a little impatient after waited for more than twenty minutes.
He pushed open the door in the living room gently, although the Prince of Titan knew it was not the right thing to do as he might bump into the princess who was not yet fully dressed. However, there was no one in the changing room. Looking in, Oscar started to get anxious again. The dressing room was connected to the bedroom. Once he stepped a foot in…no normal man would greet the world's most noble and beautiful Italia woman in her bedroom clear-headedly.
"Roya...are you there?" Prince of Titan knocked at the door softly and waited for a long while but it seemed like he was not going to get any reply.
"Roya...I should get going! It's late..."
The door to the bedroom suddenly opened ajar...
"What the..." Oscar cursed in his heart. It would make things simpler if it was just an ordinary encounter with a beautiful woman or a one-night stand that he could kiss the lady's hand after and say goodbye. But the Prince of Titan knew that this was not the case. The Kingdom of Italia was anxious for the princess to combine with the leader of Andrew. As long as Caro Arsia becomes the third lady of Andrew, the coercion from the Holy See would no longer be a bother.
"Do you want to marry her?" What stood between Oscar and the angel who fell from heaven was only a door. Once he walked through it, he could break the angel's wings, make her cry, make her laugh, make her pain, and make her lost herself in the midst of the most degenerate sensual desire. If he turned around and walked away, then Andrew did not have to carry the burden of Italia Royal Family on his own shoulder. According to the Prince's previous plan, he would be aiming at Italia after ending the war in Slovenia!
Based on the warfare strategy, the only way to completely control the Aldrid Sea was to send troops to invade Italia and connect Slovenia with this devout religious nation all the way south to the center sea of the earth, all the way north to the south of the empire and all the way west to deter Faran. By the time, oh God! Oscar grabbed his forehead. What had happened to him? What was he thinking about?
But...was he wrong? It was most sensible to keep Italia's rulers at arm's length, but once he became the son-in-law to Manuel Dynasty, he would not have any more excuse to send his troops over.
Just when Oscar intended to open the door to say goodbye to Her Highness the Princess, the door to the bedroom was opened from the other side. Caro Arsia, who was wearing a brand-new court dress, leaned against the door, looking as if nothing had happened.
"Sorry..." Oscar spread his hands apart helplessly. He knew Roya must have been disappointed. As a devout believer, Princess of Italia's action of opening the bedroom door ajar was enough to make her go to hell. How much courage would it take? The Prince of Titan was not clueless about that but he could not face this gift. He was not worthy of Roya; he was a murderer, an executioner and a war fanatic!
"What do you believe in?" Caro Arsia broke the embarrassing silence.
Oscar put down his coffee. This was already the third cup of the day. He felt an unprecedented exhaustion being scrutinized under Italia's clear and transparent eyes. He thought about the past when he was younger, of how he was caught in the whirlwind of love with this beautiful young girl. He felt an obvious surge of powerlessness. That pure and innocent emotion had disappeared without a trace. It was as if everything before was only a great dream that he never had in reality.
"Belief?" Oscar tasted the word that just rolled out of his tongue, "I am a saint. What do you think I believe in?"
Caro Arsia smiled as her fingers gently stroked the tiny pendant that was rested on her neck. This was a habit she did when she was missing someone. How difficult was it to forget one's first love? Would you be touched when a stranger almost died for your necklace? The emotional exchange they had was indeed innocent and love was truly amazing. One second was enough to move one's heart and one simple sentence was enough to express overwhelming waves of emotion. But what if that one second turned into a whole lifetime of yearning and waiting – would one still be moved? Would that not make one feel frustrated?
The Princess of Italia had grown up! The simple and lonely life of a nun made her understood a lot of things. Coldness and indifference also washed off the persistence in her heart. She knew what she was doing. To open her heart to the Prince of Titan was not only a compromise to her emotions but also a sacrifice for the kingdom.
Were things really as what her brother thought? Caro Arsia constantly pondered this in her mind. The combination with Andrew was absolutely advantageous but O'Neil Andrew Morisette…the man she loved and always loved had turned her down her unexpectedly! It could only mean that Andrew did not want to sacrifice or connect with the Royal Family of Italia, a dynasty that was condemned to be conquered!
Every year, Vatican adjusted the rates for taxes and calculated the moneybags of Manuel Royal Family. Although all monarchs in the mainland were obliged to share the expenses of the Holy City, it was different for Italia. Imposing a tax of one-tenth on the Vatican was a common policy of all the religious countries, but how many of these monarchs actually played by the rule? The amount paid by these countries each year combined was still lesser than what Italia offered!
(Italia, o Italia!) Caro Arsia gave a groan of despair. (The Engelish, West Percian and Faran carved up the sea trade that was originally yours. The once-famous Italian merchants were already reconciled to the bottom; our national treasury was drying up with inflation and high concentration of land. The transaction involved in buying and selling of official titles have created corruption of the government. Heavy taxation from the religious group and privilege class are about to break your spine! Italia! Tell me! What should I do for you? What should I do for you?)
"Don't go!" Roya pulled at Oscar who was about to get up. The man who lost his balance by the sudden movement hurriedly took hold of the seat, but still, he fell on the chest of that Italian Princess.
"Ola..." Oscar gasped for a moment. He was wearing a thin cotton shirt and his coat was out in the living room.
From above, the view of a woman's curvy body and towering chest entered his sight perfectly. The two clusters of snow-white skin stood out like the peaks of Alps mountains peeking from behind the clouds. Cheeks were slightly reddened, breathing became short pants and eyelashes trembled slightly.
The enticing scent of lilac that seeped through the delicate lace made Prince of Titan shook his head vigorously. He wanted to completely forget the beautiful image of the woman imprinted in his heart, but his body and all his senses were telling him the opposite; that the young girl underneath himself was real! She was as pure as a heavenly teacher, as noble as a goddess, her fragrant breath was pleading and her trembling hands were sending out a frequency called passion.
"Are you sure? You don't want me to go?"
"I am sure!"
"Are you sure? About what will happen next?"
"I am sure!"
(O'Neil Andrew Morisette! This is not the time to play pretense! What the hell are you waiting for? Does this relate to your affection for her? You have to admit that you were once attracted to her! Does this have anything to do with your grandeur? You have to admit that your big hands have begun to feel restless!)
(O'Neil Andrew Morisette! What are you waiting for? Kiss her! But please, not the forehead. She doesn't need that. She needs you to press your chest against her breasts, she needs your palm to reach into her skirt. She is not a slut, so your hugs and kisses will make her giddy. She is not married, so she doesn't know what your intentions are when your head goes under the skirt!)
(Have you found her private area? Is she ready for you? Taste her, taste her enthusiasm, taste her desires and taste the chastity that she has been keeping for you. Taste that sweetness that even she wouldn't touch easily. Then breathe, O'Neil Andrew Morisette! Don't you want to be thoroughly fascinated by that luscious smell? Maybe you are really not so clear-headed now. Don't forget that this is not the time to fall asleep.)
(O'Neil Andrew Morisette! Are you satisfied with the large bed in the bedroom? Please let down the curtain. The woman below you is a devoted believer. You are blaspheming her soul, going in and out of her body in such a wild manner. You did it! You let her cry, let her scream, let her get lost in the whirlpool of passion, and that pleasant sensation that is making her desperate and crazy. Hence, don't hesitate, don't worry. Take her carefully and seriously, both you and her need this.)
(Well...O'Neil Andrew Morisette! Do you like the shape of her breasts? Grasp those two round and soft mountain peaks. Those peaks are made of water, their shape changes as you touch them, flowing slowly like water into the shape you wish. Be careful not to hurt her. She is already frowning and her lips trembling. Moaning turns into panting and pleading, then shouting. Admit it...O'Neil Andrew Morisette! That you're is a hard-hearted person, that you don't care at all about her pleading! You can't be satisfied by only once! Just like you don't receive only one gift during the Holy Day of God.)
(Go unwrap your gift, O'Neil Andrew Morisette! You should know what you're about to get.)
"Faith...it's faith!" O'Neil Andrew Morisette whispered into the woman's ear. The Princess of Italia shut her eyes. The man carefully held down her limbs that weakened after the waves of excitement.
"Faith arises with practice as you claim earlier!" Oscar embraced the alluring body, but the exhausted woman was already tired and losing her consciousness. "Since faith arises with practice, then if we believe in God, we must do more good deeds that benefit the people. If we believe in power, we must do everything we can to destroy the enemy. Believe in love...the God of Light praises love. Love can create a miracle, and Roya, you are a miracle that happened to me. I thought this will never happen..."
The sky turned into a sea of gold under the fiery but tender morning sun. The birds finally waited until the clouds cleared off. In the early morning, they chirped incessantly by the windows and balconies of the castle and it was extremely disturbing. Open the window and look far away; livestock scattered between the chalky pits. Those brown, little things that could not be made out clearly appeared so free and unrestrained.
A babbler was chirping in the blackberry groves where the bushes were dripping morning dew. The crescent moon as thin as cicada's wings were still floating on the western horizon. The sunrise in the east was becoming more and more beautiful while the new moon that was reflecting faint white soon disappeared in the midst of rosy clouds and green fields.
It was by this window that O'Neil Andrew Morisette discovered the difference between war and peace clearer. Nothing much had changed in his life. He did not have too many hobbies, vices and friends, and there was only so few women who could let him appreciate the beauty of nature. Coats and equipment of war shrouded him; swords, daggers, flying knives, and marshal's uniform. Each was a necessary gear.
Too peculiar! How could there be war in such a peaceful world? Retrieving his gaze from the peace in front of the princess yawning in front of the dresser, Oscar thought, that he was going to propose to her.
This seemed not related to the war, but was it really? Union with Princess of Italia meant Andrew needed to change its war strategy. When Oscar thought about this, he couldn't help but realized why the world should have wars. Although war could not solve all problems, it could be used as the ultimate way of communication. War runs through human history. It represented conquest, supremacy, bloodshed and even at some point represented communication.
A team of knights suddenly appeared on the hill not far from the castle and a sudden roar of hoofs broke the morning silence. Oscar was slightly frustrated as his rare peaceful moments was interrupted and disappeared without a trace.
By the door, Caro Arsia, like all wives, took off the man's coat and cloak from the hanger. Her brows expressed tenderness and her fingers lingered on the man's skin with affection in a playful manner. The man who could not bear being teased at had to turn around after putting on his coat and gently kissed the woman who made him change his mind easily.
Looking out to the castle's foyer, he noticed all his military generals who followed him to Italia had gathered around. They were dressed in battle attire, their arms pressing on their hilts.
Oscar asked, "War?"
General Murat nodded and replied, "Yes, Your Highness, it's war!"
Oscar nodded. What meant to be would come eventually. In the end, he stuttered and bid goodbye to the Princess of Italia. He came out of the castle from a small path and rode along the road toward the village. He suddenly realized that he was already an old man. In the past, he used to feel brave and confident of himself when he looked at the splendid scenery that sped past his eyes. But now, even in front of a woman who loved him dearly, he only cared about the gains and losses and unforeseen benefits.
Now, when he looked at this strange, unknown land that was right in front of his eyes, his heart was getting exhausted by repeated judgment and scrutiny. He knew that all the stories about getting lost and later saved by God of Light were only myths. The glittering road, the morning sun, the desire to hope and the small world loaded with one-sided love – these things were gone and would never return again.
So, what actually did O'Neil Andrew Morisette really believe in? He was the devil when necessary, he was a man when required, and when his conscience was showing from behind his heart, then he became a saint. He believed the sudden outburst of emotions at Caro Arsia Manuel happened because his conscience had conquered the devil in his heart. Not all problems in this world had to be solved by war and conquers. Since Caro Arsia, who had always been longing for peace could love her country with all her soul while simultaneously loving O'Neil Andrew Morisette, why did Oscar have to make decisions that would worsen the situation? It was not necessarily a bad thing for Andrew to unite with Manuel Royal Family and ensure the stability and prosperity of Italia. Oscar did not understand why he could not accept it.
When he returned to the temporary residence, the Prince of Titan was received by the Chief of Military Investigation Bureau who arrived in Roman with gold intended to be dedicated to the Holy See. Aeolia took the initiative to embrace her master and began speaking in high spirits.
"Almodovar Godzilla has fallen! There are so many people intending to testify against him that the queue starts from Dulin to Andrew Haila!" The countess was so excited that it seemed she had forgotten how the Sea Monster had violated her.
O'Neil Andrew Morisette nodded indifferently. He had known this would happen since long ago. There wasn't much to talk about.
"But there is something I want to tell you!" the Chief of Military Investigation Bureau became serious, "The commissioner, codenamed 275400, told the head of the Military Intelligence in the capital area that she wanted to quit as she was pregnant!"
"Ola...now this is something new! Does the Sea Monster know?" Oscar unconsciously widened his eyes.
"No! You didn't understand what I meant." Aya shook her head, "I mean she wants to quit. She does not intend to accuse Almodovar Godzilla anymore!"
"What is this nonsense!" O'Neil Andrew Morisette's face fell, "She is a tainted witness! Do you want me to believe that she really fell in love with that fat pig?"
Aya shrugged, "I'm not the one involved."
The Prince of Titan cursed silently. The God of Light praised love. He began to despise this statement again.
"Aeolia! No matter what, Godzilla must die. Hanging, guillotine, lifelong ban, whatever Her Majesty the Empress decides – he must die! Apart from him, those who are connected in this issue, for instance, the guys from the Combat Department who have benefited from Sea Monster -"
"They've already been isolated for interrogation!" Aeolia interrupted her master. She was hesitant before asking the next question, but still, she had to figure it out. "Is getting rid of the Finance Minister only one excuse? You want to take the opportunity to eradicate the ministers from Combat Department and weaken Marshal Alan -"
"You should know what to do!" Oscar suddenly waved. Some things were not meant to be spoken out loud. "The Military Intelligence Bureau has already been informed about that. They will encourage their colleagues in the Secret Service Department to further expand the scope of the incrimination. When Sea Monster falls, about half of the corrupt officials around Alanis will go down with him, especially the high-ranking officials from the Imperial Army that had deals with or gang up with the Finance Minister before. Their good days have come to an end. Even Alan couldn't save them! Besides, even Silver Fox will be mad at the dirty transactions that his men have done!"
"As I expected..." Aeolia nodded as she pondered. She had long felt that the timing to take down the Finance Minister was somewhat coincidental. Her master was trying to kill one wriggling worm with the bigger intention to dig out its entire hole.
"Your Highness, Dulin City has become a mess right now! High-ranking officials feeling insecure about their position and the special task force that was dispatched to the Imperial Army by Secret Service has also worsened the situation. The next war will definitely fail!"
Oscar glared at the countess, puzzled. The chaos in the City of Dulin was inevitable. It was rare that Marshal Robin and Marshal Alan were both unable to participate in this long-premeditated cleansing operation as they had to guard their respective line of defense. Particularly for Alan, who had been in the military for so many years. Those officers in charge of the core of the military were mostly his students. If he did not do so before the war and left the senior soldiers who did not need to fight on the battlefield to be dealt with after the war, it would then position the Imperial Prince in a passive situation.
Therefore, whether it was false accusations or false charges, the range of incrimination for this case must be expanded because it would only get more interesting if more people were proven guilty! As the intelligent Aeolia had understood, the downfall of the Finance Minister was only an excuse for O'Neil Andrew Morisette to exterminate the locust in the army. The better explanation was so he could wipe out the largely corrupted Imperial Army system for the upcoming war but more importantly, how many senior military personnel in charge of these systems were trusted confidants of Silver Fox Alan?
"Let's not talk about this anymore!" Oscar suddenly waved his hand in the air, "That…what is her codename again?"
"275400!" Aya reminded her young master.
"Yes, her, what was she thinking? Why do this now that she has come so far? Isn't she the one who hurt her husband? Why doesn't she die out of love for Sea Monster?"
Aeolia nodded gently, "If things don't change any better...she will die out of love for Sea Monster."
Oscar thought about it and then said nothing.
The countess seemed to be leaving but the Imperial Prince who remained silent stopped her. Oscar asked the Chief of Military Investigation Bureau to notify the military and government officials outside to clean up then change into formal attire.
"What is this for?" Aya was slightly annoyed and amused at the same time.
The young prince shrugged, "We'll head to Caesar Palace in a while. Someone will request a marriage proposal to the Royal Family of Italia on my behalf."
This time, it was the countess' turn to keep quiet. She just smiled and walked away.
The generals who changed into military uniforms appeared full of heroic spirits, and they were in a heated discussion together in His Highness favorite pavilion, speaking about swords and wars. Regarding the remarriage of His Highness the Prince...to be honest, they quite liked Princess of Italia hence the soldiers did not linger on this topic any longer. Their discussion topic covered the three main war zones of the empire and only mentioned slightly about the earth-shattering incident caused by the Finance Ministry.
Compared with the generals who were cheerful in their hearts and minds, it seemed that only O'Neil Andrew Morisette was the confused person. Soon enough, under the urges of many voices, the second Titan's Defending War finally broke out in the early hours.
On the 13th day of the 7th month in Church's year 801, the war happened without the expected three-sided attacks nor major breakthrough. Oscar believed that even Alan and Robin would make this mistake too! The Deiss were still guarding by the border, not making a move while King of Holland clamored for revenge again and again after losing his wife!
However, until now, there had been no sight of the Anti-Titan Alliance on the western border of the Titan Empire.
"Why south border? Why Faran?" Oscar could not figure out no matter what. He placed the Red Tiger Front in Italia in the name of his official visit to the Vatican was with the intention to deter Faran so that the combative Gauls did not dare to act rashly. Besides, the Southern Army Group which had entered Slovenia had already begun to draw back most of the elite combat troops back to the original line of defense in the five provincial military regions.
Therefore, why was Faran the first to launch an attack on the southern border line? Had their Prince Regent gotten mad?
"Absolutely not!" Oscar did not believe the Farans would go mad. There were two reasons for launching an attack on the southern border. Firstly, to break through with advantageous forces when the Southern Army Group has not fully entered the defense line, hence opening up a favorable strategic pattern that goes deep into Titan. Secondly, Oscar started to wonder again. What was the benefits for Faran to be the first to participate in the war?
As an assistant, old aged Marquis Glenn Alpré and young Viscount Lukas Diyabaker had to provide solutions for their master's questions. However, both of them had two completely different views regarding Faran's surprise attack.
Lukas advised Oscar, "Farans knew that they could not deal with Burton Province defense system centered in Vielonna in a short time. That's why it's safe to say that their attack was only a prelude to the big fight. It was to confuse our focus from the western and northern borders. When our eyes are drawn to the south, the real, large-scale attack that can determine the direction of the war will come from both west and north borders."
On the other hand, Alpré shook his head to show his disapproval, "Farans are not that naive. If the first attack on the south was only a pretense, then this method is too low! Marshal Alan and Marshal Robin will not take another glance at it. They have their own matters on hand and will not be influenced by the actions of the Farans."
"Brilliant!" Oscar pointed to the old poet after comparing the two arguments, "But do you know why Glenn is smarter?" His Highness the Prince turned to Viscount Diyabaker.
The young man rolled his eyes, "Lord Marquis is indeed clever because he said something that did not mean anything."
Old Alpré smiled as he waved his hands in the air, "Young man, it's not like that! I've said a lot, you should have been able to understand from between the lines."
Oscar nodded, "According to the report sent back by secret agents in Anti-Titan Alliance to Military Intelligence Bureau, Faran, Hoillander, Leblesian, Weden, and Deiss, what they lack is effective scheduling and collaboration. Their operational intent requires that offensive forces on the three defense lines be united in action. Although I do not know what causes Faran to lose their patience, one thing I'm certain of is that the enemies attacked from the southern border have more flexibility in their tactical moves, they're not as rigid as Deiss and other countries."
"But what can this explain?" Lukas subconsciously widened his eyes. Strategic goals and tactics were not exactly the same thing.
Oscar told the officers gathered in the gazebo to reveal the tactical map that had just been erected.
"As we can see from the map, Faran has only deployed partial of their offensive power into the southern border, which means that the rest of their forces are still behind the border!"
There was a lot of discussion among the soldiers. This showed that Faran did not intend to fight a big battle or that they did not intend to go further into Titan territory.
Oscar's fingers traced over the vast area marked gray near the upper reaches of Don River.
"Zorangash Wetlands! What does this swampy land remind you of?"
Lukas's eyes suddenly brightened, and his hand was the first to shot up in the air, "Your Highness' graduation thesis when you were studying at the Imperial Military Academy! Crossing the Zorangash Wetlands and twist the way to the back of battlefield...a bold strategic vision."
Oscar smiled and appeared to be somewhat content. "Yes! That's indeed a bold strategy, but now it seems that Faran is putting their guards against me because of this, therefore they attacked first at the southern border to completely disrupt my strategic deployment. As for the rest of their forces that are not in the previous attack, I estimate that they are hiding in the outlying areas of the wetlands, looking after each mosquito in the swamp." The officers broke into laughter. Only then the Prince of Titan spread his hands apart helplessly. "If I had known earlier, I would not have published the graduation thesis back then! At that time when I was young and aggressive, I thought it was truly invincible to be an armchair strategist! However, that imagination really helped! If Faran deployed their full forces into the offense, it is estimated that they could travel pass Burton Province border in a week and would probably arrive in Don River by next Sunday."
"That is to say, we have at least half a month's time?" General Murat muttered in a low voice. His Red Tiger could leave Italia in half a month if they tried desperately, they could arrive on the battlefield by the end of the month.
Oscar nodded, "Yes, half a month! Either this or lesser."
"So, what are we waiting for?" Sandinand jumped out from the crowd of officers, "Your Highness! The war is now! You must give orders!"
Oscar did not answer but the experienced and reliable Marquis Glenn Alpré started coughing violently. "Young man! When to order, what to order! This is the thing only the Prince can decide!"
Devil Sandy understood the old man and shut his mouth immediately.
"It doesn't matter..." Oscar got to Sandy's help, then exchanged glances with Alpré who had just spoken. The old man was telling the Prince of the Empire not to get involved in the war when the time was not ready, while the latter sternly warned the other man not to do anything that would kill the mood.
"I order!" Oscar adjusted his posture, but the collar of the marshal's uniform had been torn open.
"Taking effect immediately — the United Government of Five Southern Provinces has entered a state of war. Close the traffic on the national route and block all entrances to cities and towns that are stationed by Imperial Guards. The local judicial departments further strengthen security management and employ wartime regulations as jurisprudence, arrest anyone suspicious within the territory."
"Imperial Guards..." the voice of the Prince just fell and all soldiers in the court straightened up themselves, "Southern Army Group, grasp this time to finalize the deployment of the battle disposition. Ensure logistical support, transportation and communication between various garrison areas. After the enemy appears in our border, we should expand the depth, scope, and strength of guerrilla warfare organized by local aristocrats. At the main defense line, the military must be severely disciplined and merit the ones who have rendered great service and punished the ones needed. In the direction of enemy's main attack, the Fifth Region and the Eighth Region coordinated from southeast must retract the line of defense to highlight the emphasis of the campaign and strategy plan. We'd rather lost our territory for a short while than to attack the dominating enemy in times of uncertainty."
Muktha Singh, the confidential secretary of military affairs, stood upright swiftly after wielding his pen passionately, then he handed the commander the First Battlefield Orders of the second Titan Defending War.
Oscar reviewed it carefully and drew ticks under a few keywords. He then signed off the document with his name and had his service officer to stamp his private seal that he had been guarding.
Murat finally went near his leader after every preparation was completed. The commander of the Red Tiger Front Army pouted his lips like a shy little girl, "Your Highness, what about me? Red Tigers? The Knights? Do you want us to just watch and do nothing?"
Oscar looked up and down the cavalry commander who he had promoted, "You...have you been a best man?"
His eyes widened, "Just this?"
Oscar smiled and nodded.
The moonlight faded and darkened. Looking out to the left from the tall castle minaret, the splendid night view of a well-lit city entered the sight. On the right, next to the castle was a terrible, dark and silent lowland. Caro Arsia had only been there once when she was a child and ever since then she started to get nightmares.
On the hill near the lowland was full of shrubs, yellow algae, young shoots of heartleaf hornbeam, wild cherry trees, and some random unknown plants. The grass in the forest crept high but nearby farmers were too lazy to even feed them to the goats.
After her terrifying experience in the lowland, Caro Arsia had named that scary place "Hell". She believed that the place was inhabited by a demon. As she grew older, this idea remained unchanging and if anything, it became even more profound.
If the left of the was a symbol of civilization, the depression on the right was the beginning of all evil. This resembled similarly like the fate of a person.
O'Neil Andrew Morisette chose a happy ending. He knew how precious Caro Arsia was and also understood the princess' character. People in Caesar Palace vowed to him that "Roya will be a good wife!"
When he left the palace door, he was greeted by Aeolia again. Oscar thought she was here for some secret affairs like always hence he hurried the countess into the carriage without any explanation.
"I just...I just accompanied a midwife to visit the mistress..."
"Wait a second!" Oscar's eyes widened. Although he was happy, his face was not showing ecstasy.
"Why? I mean every time! Why am I always the last one to be notified about this kind of thing?"
Aya looked at the young master who could not hold back any longer. He was grinning from ear to ear. The countess embraced the man gently and patted him on the back like a good friend would do, "Congratulations! Sasha is pregnant..."
It seemed that Aya did not intend to tell the overjoyed man that another small life was also growing slowly in her own womb.