There is a realist that I respect to the same degree as Machiavelli: Sun Tzu.
By Sun Tzu I mean the Sun Tzu (who wrote [Sun Tzu’s Art of War]) working for the court of emperor Wu during the Spring and Autumn period¹ of Chinese History or maybe his descendant Sun Bin (who wrote [Sun Bin’s Art of War]) working for Qi during the warring states period. Both were excellent tacticians, and both their works were great works of strategy, but the thing I liked the most were how they were realistically thinking about things. The two of them who were born in troubled times, just like Machiavelli, figured out “what humans are”, and explained how to deal with them in the unending wars.
¹ «TN: 770-403 BCE»
The two gained renown in war, but having that said, they weren’t warlike people. In fact, both of them counseled to not easily resort to acts of war. Sun Tzu in [Sun Tzu’s Art of War – Attack by Strategem] said “supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting²”, while Sun Bin, in the meeting with King Wei, said “warmongers will inevitably lose³”.
² «TN: Sun Tzu’s Art of War, III.2.»
³ «TN: Sun Bin’s Art of War, Meeting King Wei»
However, those thoughts were but ideals in turbulent times. Without defending, without attacking, the end result is that more lives would’ve been lost. The two also knew this. To borrow the words of Sun Bin “Even the Legendary Lord wants to settle things with morals, yet it is not possible. Thus he can naught but throw down the wicked king in war”. Which is exactly why they strained their heads, how shall I not lose, how shall I win efficiently.
There were the famous words of [Sun Tzu’s Art of War]: [If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles]. It highlights the importance of intelligence gathering, but sometimes there are people who interprets this with the positive meaning of “To win we need to gather information first!”. In reality, in [Attack by Strategem], Sun Tzu wrote “If we are inferior in numbers to the enemy, we can flee”, or “avoid battle”. In short, you should compare the enemy’s forces with yours and fight only when you can win.
That was a long intro. If you ask what I meant to say, then as [Sun Tzu] said, I was planning to examine the difference between the forces of our Royal Guard and the Three Dukes.
First, the Royal Guard led by me. I probably only had ten thousand men I can throw into the war with the Three Dukes. The Royal Guard is formally 40 thousand men strong, but that number includes the mercenaries employed from the Mercenary State Zem and the troops of Lords outside of the Three Duchies, also, the number of Adventurers in the deal with the Adventurers’ Guild where [In return of yearly fixed payment to the Guild, Adventurers within the country will be employed as soldiers during emergencies] also counted toward that.
I had already discontinued the contracts with the Mercenary State Zem and the Adventures’ Guild under the reasons of Financial Retrenchment and “we can’t trust mercenaries”. Also, a lot of nobles and knights adopted a wait-and-see attitude with regards to the war with the Three Dukes and thus I couldn’t count on them. Thus the number I can mobilize is, my Personal Guard and the common soldiers combined, was only ten thousand. The common soldiers consist almost entirely of infantry (my Personal Guard is 800 heavy cavalry), but because I’ve been throwing them to infrastructure improvement lately almost all of them gained combat engineering skills. Also, the common soldiers include five hundred earth-type mages like Kaede-chan.
Now, about the Three Dukes’ side, their numbers are roughly as follows:
The Army, led by Georg Carmine, forty thousand.
The Navy, led by Ecksel Walter, ten thousand.
The Air Force, led by Castor Vargas, one thousand.
Among them the easiest to deal with would be the ten thousand navy. Our numbers and theirs are not too different but most of theirs are battleship, cruiser, destroyer, and torpedo boat crew. The Marines that can fight a land battle only numbered two thousand. Therefore they aren’t much of a threat on land.
However, there’s one thing to keep in mind about the Navy. It’s the one leading it, Duchess Ecksel Walter. She’s a woman with character that uses her wisdom and courage in politics, and I heard she used her unique wit to weather the current food troubles. That kind of person probably won’t be striking from the front, but take my back in a surprise move. If she were serious she could probably incite the citizens of the Royal demesne into an uprising, or at least she seemed capable of that. Personally, she’s the one out of the Three Dukes I don’t want as my enemy the most.
On the other hand, the general that’s easiest to handle, but his army the hardest, would be the one thousand strong Air Force.
Their soldiers were basically teams of [a wyvern plus one or two knights], and they had one thousand such teams of flying dragon knights. Those flying dragon knights are a very troublesome enemy. Just the fact that they fly in the air is trouble enough, but the wyverns they’re riding themselves are a mass of fighting force, they can breathe fire and act as fighters or drop gunpowder casks and act as bombers.
On the other hand, there are very limited means of attacking them from the ground. Only firing back magic or shooting magic-strengthened arrows at them. If we were attacked during a siege battle we can retaliate using magic-strengthened repeating bowguns but in a field battle they would be extremely difficult to stop. It seems to be common sense in this world that you’d need a flying dragon to kill a flying dragon. Which means for the Royal Guard who only has a few messenger dragons it would be very hard to properly counteract them.
As an addendum, wyverns are dragons whose front legs had turned into wings, and in this world, dragons with both front and back legs and wings exist. Wyverns and dragons only look similar but they seem to be as different as monkeys and humans. Dragons have racial magic power that is incomparable to wyverns, have great intelligence, and also able to take the form of humans. They had joined together and built an unshakeable kingdom in the middle of this continent where they and humans both hold the boundary between them inviolable.
Among the northern countries there are dragon knights who make contracts with dragons. They are welcomed as the dragons’ companions and in exchange for helping perpetuate the dragons’ descendants, the dragons lend them their strength in battle. Incidentally, dragonewts are a rare breed born from among these knight and dragon pairs (the majority is evenly split between full humans and full dragons). Dragonewts have a low birthrate but their descendants are guaranteed to be dragonewts, and thus they already had the numbers to be considered belonging to neither the human nor the dragon species. The Air Force Marshal Castor Vargas is one such dragonewt.
The dragonewt, Air Marshal Castor Vargas is without exaggeration a one-man army. Being a dragonewt he could take to the skies on his own without a dragon, he is hotheaded and hates tricks, in a word … a musclehead. Certainly, his individual strength is frightening but a commander like that is actually convenient for me. When fighting the Air Force, victory or defeat will depend on whether I can lead Castor by the nose, rendering the flying dragon knights ineffective.
Now lastly, the forty thousand strong Army, this time both the men and the general is troublesome.
It’s not just simple difference in numbers, each and every soldier and their equipment is a rank up from the Royal Guard soldiers. In addition to infantry and cavalry, they also had siege units, and the fire mages attached to them have superior firepower, they are indeed the forefronts of warfare.
And in command of this Army, there is the fearsome General Georg Carmine.
He was an uncommon man that, while having valor that was not inferior to Castor, he did not rely on just that and gave calm judgements backed with experience. In the Annals of the Three Kingdoms he would be akin to Guan Yu or Lü Meng. Honestly, he’s someone who I didn’t want to make enemies of, just like Duchess Walter, but he wasn’t hiding his hostility towards me at all. I might still be able to settle things with a talk if it were Duchess Walter or Duke Vargas, but Duke Carmine first and foremost had unmistakably become my enemy. There are rumors that the he has connections to Amidonia, as well.
According to Hal’s father, Glaive Magna, this attitude of Duke Carmine’s certainly brought forth questions, and there are many Nobles and Knights in the Army that had joined a secessionist faction. However, their numbers were made up for by the personal armies of the corrupt nobles and the Zemish mercenary bands that they hired: forty thousand strong Army, against ten thousand strong Royal Guard. Manpower-wise they are already four times our numbers. Going by Sun Tzu this is a number I should either run from or avoid a fight with. Seriously, this is hopeless. I’m certain I won’t be able to win.
————— if I faced them head-on.
Sorry, but I’m an internal administrator.
I never intended to fight fairly in the first place.
I don’t care about chivalry nor a soldier’s pride.
War is deception.
Negotiations, strategy, diplomacy … I will freely use everything.
They may call me petty or sneaky, but it’s fine as long as I win.
I don’t have to do it like a hero.
I don’t have to do it like a king.
I will take command of the battlefields in my own way!