In the end, Bogan succeed in taking control of the dragon's maw, but Gildanstein also moved swiftly.
Both of them must have acted almost simultaneously.
Bogan's army, which had numbered close to 20,000, was reduced to 14,000.
In contrast, Gildanstein had 30,000 troops, and now there were still 20,000 left.
The minimum of the strategic objectives – the maintenance of the dragon's maw had been accomplished, however to advance to the royal capital they would need more troops.
As for the quality of the army, that of Christand's army was extremely high, and on Gildan stein's side, many of the soldiers were mobilized in a hurry.
But, Gildanstein was also excellent in tactics.
Even in the narrow dragon's maw, sandwiched by mountains on the left and right sides, they effectively used their numerical advantage to reduce fatigue by alternating the front-line soldiers, and at the same time, they repeatedly did skirmish military drills.
If the battle had simply been fought on the plain, the Christand army might have been able to defeat the 30,000 Gildan Stein troops and end it there.
But the narrowness of the dragon's maw made it difficult for either side to deliver a decisive blow.
The battle front was just too narrow.
It seemed that the main battlefields now have changed to Mirskronia and Bernaich mountains and there were several close calls, as was written on the letter.
The royal capital is still not fully under Gildanstein's control due to him moving too quickly, so there were still many who just waited to see.
Although a sudden increase in enemy's forces was unlikely, the letter states that Gildansteins intends to use the battlefields here to train a strong army and improve the quality of his troops.
While recruiting new soldiers, they are also recruiting reservists and retired military, those who can be an immediate force.
Although they continue to send such personnel to Bogan, the same is also true on the Gildanstein side.
It is difficult to make a significant gap in troop strength.
The situation was currently at a standstill.
Even after reading the letter three times, the content remained the same.
Selene rubbed her eyes.
She was a bit tired from the many problems she had to deal with.
She leans back and sighs.
This fortress, which is a large chunk of the northern part from Dragon's Maw, used to be an important strategic base.
Perhaps as a vestige of that, nobles used to be permanently stationed here and used the fortress as replacement of estate, so there were private rooms as well as office rooms.
The office is simple, but it was properly furnished with a desk and chair, and also a large window for better lighting.
Since it was also used as a parlor, there was a low table and a large sofa in front of the desk, which was not too uncomfortable, no in a certain way that just made it worse.
At night, she would often just sleeps there, and the fatigue continues to build up.
Selene, dressed in military attire, as a corps commander her attire was well groomed, but her golden hair was a little unkempt and tied back in a messy knot.
Krische was busy.
And it's not like Bery was just lounging around either.
When Bery's not tending to Krische or cooking meals, she helps Selene with her paperwork.
Although Bery dislikes conflict, she is quicker than Selene when it comes to matters such as calculation and management.
Bery also handled documents for assignments of provisions and equipment on her behalf.
It is easy to see why Bogan wanted to create a general staff.
It is not just a matter of command.
Military operations involve an enormous amount of processing.
There are arrangements for food, clothing, weapons, and other supplies, as well as discussions with the merchants who will move with the army.
If soldiers are to be managed for a long period of time away from the city, there are many things that will be needed.
Since the military's logistics could not cover all these needs, it was common for them to sign contracts directly with large merchants to assist them.
Outside of the fortress, there were many tents set up to sell liquor and other items for the soldiers' consumption.
Since most of the soldiers were men, it was also necessary to arrange for prostitutes.
The merchants would gather the prostitutes and set up military brothels where soldiers could relieve their frustrations.
Selene does not think it was foolish that she needs to worry about such things.
Food, sex, and sleep.
She believed that only by satisfying these desires can soldiers be excellent soldiers who won't disturb the public order and law.
The way an individual thinks and the way she—- a corps commander, who commands the soldiers and orders their deaths on the battlefield should think is different.
And it was better not to have such fears when it came to herself, Bery, and Kreschenta, and in fact, she pays more attention to it than Bogan precisely because she isn't a man.
Rape by soldiers occurs even in Bogan's well-disciplined army.
Such incidents against female soldiers are also common.
They had become accustomed to hearing their names being mentioned in obscene talks on the roadside, and that is why she was particularly careful about it.
Being careful and considering each one seriously, that was why her fatigue built up.
Krische was undeniably a genius.
She did everything Selene asked her to do more than was expected.
And she was also more serious and purer than Selene.
For example, if she was told to work without sleep, she would do so until she reached her limit and collapsed.
Even the day after the mountain breakthrough, she had a terrible fever and had to lay down for a whole day.
If Selene had not noticed and told her to rest, she would have calmly joined the pursuit, and as long as she was asked to, she would have done so.
She will always live up to expectations.
And she thinks that that's only natural.
Even though her stamina wasn't that high.
The job Krische was given now, the selection and management of military drill, was because she was Krische.
She would be able to do it.
Although she does it without hesitation, there is no doubt that she is fatigued in her own way as well.
However, Krische does not show any displeasure, but puts her pure trust in Serene and is spoiled by her.
Seeing her like that made Selene needlessly think that she had to work even harder.
Selene was talented, but was not even 16 yet.
She was young, hardworking, and responsible, and because of this, Serene did not know how to relax, and the bad habit of being too serious had not yet left her.
She sighs quietly, right at that moment she hears a knock.
Only realizing now that the sun was about to set, she called out, “Come in,” it was Anne who opened the door.
Krishe entered next, looking somewhat puzzled, and sat down on the sofa, saying, “Excuse me.”
Starting today, the five people, including Anne , will be eating together.
Until now, the four of them had always taken meals together.
It was Bery's suggestion, probably out of concern for her.
Though she had said she didn't need a good-luck charm, in the end, Although she felt bad about being cared for in this way, to tell the truth, she was happy and grateful.
It was one of the few moments where she could relax.
Since Krische was also here, she needed to refrain from behaving rudely, but even so, it was completely different from eating alone.
“…Kreschenta-sama, is there something wrong?”
onee-sama is walking quite far apart, so I was just wondering.”
The door was left open.
However there was no sign of anyone coming in.
Anne, who had guided Kreschenta to the chair, looked restlessly at the door, “Krische-sama?”
Just as Krische appeared, ——-gshaan!!!——, there was a clattering sound of dishes.
Anne, can you wait in the corridor after you open the door?”
“K-Krische-sama, Anne-sama, um, t-theres no ill will, just…”
“But, just now, the food I made with great effort almost…”
She heard a voice saying that, and Anne went out into the corridor while bowing her head.
Instead, Krische finally appeared pushing the food trolley, and Bery, who looked troubled, began to serve the soup on her plate, saying, “I'll serve the food.”
Krische also helps her while stealing glances at Anne who is standing in the hallway.
Anne was trembling and kept her head down and motionless.
Uhmm, what are you doing?”
it's just because of the bad timing Anne-sama bumped into Krische when she came in.”
Anne, Krische thought you were good at opening doors.”
As Krische blurts it out, Anne's shoulders jump and she starts repeating, “I'm sorry,” again.
Krische's brow was slightly wrinkled and she looked a little angry —-probably because Anne almost ruined the dish.
She looks a little different from when she is displeased or sulking, she is trying to hold back her anger.
It's rare to see such an expression on Krische's face, and it makes Serene let out small chuckles.
“Well, well, look, we've made some delicious food, so let's enjoy it.
There, Krische-sama, please sit down.”
“Oh, onee-sama, Anne-sama will be here today too, right?”
Krische glances at Anne and she sits next to Kreschenta as instructed.
Kreschenta's mouth loosened in satisfaction, but Krische, who pulled Bery to sit down next to her after setting the table, pouted.
It was clear that Kreschenta liked Krische a lot.
On the first day, Kreschenta suggested that they should sit in pairs.
Serene, who was careful not to be rude, sat next to her, but she looked at Bery and Krische with a clearly dissatisfied look on her face, as expected even Selene would notice her motive.
Bery seemed to have noticed, but Krische acted as if the seat was already decided.
From then on, it was Krische and Bery, Selene and Kreschenta.
Kreschenta tried to sit in the opposite position, saying that her hair was dusty as she tried to change her seat, and tried to sit next to Krische, but Krische wanted to sit next to Bery.
If Kreschenta sits in the opposite position, then Krische would change her seat so it becomes face to face, if Kreschenta sits next to her, then Krische would stand up, quickly helping Bery by pulling her to her side, defending the position.
The offense and defense of the two were at the same level, but that's why it was heartwarming.
When a servant she knew named Anne had arrived and was introduced to Kreschenta, she said “So there will be five of us for meals from now on”.
This was probably the reason for the lack of resistance to the presence of servants, which is uncharacteristic of royalty.
She wanted a reason for Krische to sit next to her.
When Selene smiled wryly, there was something childish about it, and Kreschenta glared at her with a slightly sullen look.
“W-what is it?”
Just thinking, Kreschenta really likes Krische.”
Kreschenta blushed and did not answer.
When Serene sat down in front of Krische, Krische looked at Anne with a furrowed brow.
Anne, please sit down quickly, the food will get cold.”
Sit with Her Highness Princess…”
“I don't mind.
Such a lively meal is not very common in the royal palace, so please sit down and stop worrying about it.”
Anne nervously sat down next to Selene.
Selene smiled and offered a small silent prayer, “Thank you for the bounty of the earth,” as she watched Bery soothe Krische, whose cheeks were puffed out.
In Bogan's absence, it was Selene who would declare the start of the meal.
The other four followed suit, and after a short silent prayer, they began to eat.
Although it is not proper to talk with food in one's mouth while eating, the conversation itself is often conducted in a normal manner.
“How is it?”
“Yeah, it's really delicious.
Really, Krische is really good at cooking, aren't you”
It is usually Krische who is the first to open her mouth, asking for feedback on the quality of the food.
In the past, the meal was relatively quiet and Bery would explain the day's dishes in an upbeat tone, but Krische has since taken over that role.
Bery used to talk to Serene a lot in those days, but in retrospect, that was probably just her being considerate.
Surprisingly, or perhaps I should say, unsurprisingly.
Kreschenta is quite a glutton, and she seems to like food quite a bit.
Though it's delicious, it also could not be called a lavish dish, but she didn't show any displeasure and seemed very satisfied after moving here from the estate.
Perhaps it's because it was made by Krische, but her style of being well-behaved while hastily stuffing the food into her stomach resembled krische.
The nobles who possessed manners basically have a large appetite, but the amount of food the two of them ate was still large, and while Selene ate one piece of bread, they had finished eating two pieces.
Krische took a piece of her own bread and placed it in front of Kreschenta, who looked at her and blushed shyly as she tore into it.
Serene could tell that she was just wearing a mask, which was also a source of concern for her.
When she asked Bery, she explained to Selene, 'She is very similar to Lady Krische, but it's probably fine.'
However, compared to Bery, Selene, who knows how Krische is on the battlefield, is more anxious than Bery.
Selene thinks it is a miracle that Krische grew up to be a good person.
It is because she was raised by kind and understanding people like her parents and Bery, but her nature is still dangerous.
Unlike Krische, she still does not have a good grasp of what kind of person Kreschenta, who was raised in the royal palace ,is like, and she is uneasy about it.
This is because Selene knows that the royal palace is an ominous place, swirling with conspiracies and trickery.
She loves Krische from the bottom of her heart, but at the same time, she also admits that Krische is a deviant who doesn't think anything of killing people.
Selene has been trained to be objective at all times, and she clearly sees this side of Krische as dangerous.
And that Krische's true nature lies there.
It is Bery's love and goodness that allows Krische to live her life as she is now, as a slightly weird but a normal girl.
It's vexing, but Selene admits that she would not have been able to educate Krische so well herself, and that's why she respects Bery more than anyone else.
But that doesn't mean she thinks that Bery's goodness is perfect.
She did not believe unconditionally that just because Krische had turned out well, Kreschenta would be the same too.
Of course, Bery also understood that and wanted to be entrusted with it, but Selene was extremely afraid in the event that it's impossible.
The sight of Kreschenta stuffing her cheek with bread like this was adorable, just like Krische.
But if she was asked whether Kreschenta is as good as Krische, she could not relax if she chooses Kreschenta.
“Anne, how is it?”
“T-this dish was really prepared by the two of you…?”
“I am in awe of how good it tastes compared to what I made.
If you're so good at cooking, what should I do to take care of you…”
To answer Anne, Krische thinks for a moment and then tells her with a smile on her face.
Bery does a lot of things for Krische so, ah, When Krische is there Krische helps Bery so Anne doesn't have to take care of anyone.”
It was a clear rejection that could not be hidden.
Anne was depressed, and Bery was flustered, wondering what to say.
Kreschenta looks at Krische and then at Anne as if observing her.
—-The inorganic eyes that Krische sometimes shows.
“That's not good”
Krische, who glanced sideways at her, and pouted her lips, saying quietly, “I have a good memory you know.
I'm just looking at her a bit.”
Bery was startled for a moment, but she did not show it on her face and changed the subject, saying that the pie was very delicious.
Selene reads and understands the meaning from Krische's words and Bery's reaction.
She managed to read it somehow—-She also had known Krische for a long time.
And from that, she understood.
How much better it would have been if Krische had been a mere princess.
Selene unconsciously pressed her eyes, Krische turned her gaze to Selene.
“…Selene-sama, you look very tired.”
Thank you for your consideration.”
“Please don't push yourself too hard.
It would be a problem if Lady Selene collapsed in this situation.”
“I've gotten the gist of it, and compared to when I first started, it's a lot easier now.
That's not going to happen.”
Krische smiled and looked at Serene.
And then asked, “May I talk to you later?”
“A talk, is it?”
“Yes, I have talked with onee-sama and Argan-sama, but not with Selene-sama yet.
Of course, only if you have time, is fine.”
“If that's the case, by all means.”
Krische and Bery look at the two of them, but Kreschenta tells them that sharing your purpose is important.
Anne, who was depressed alone, couldn't hear the conversation at all.
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