The shared border of Yemaek and the Song Empire.
Elite troops from both nations were gathered.
The Song Empire, which is known for its high population on the Southern Continent, mobilized as many as 600,000 troops.
In addition to the existing number of standing troops, the number of conscripted troops from various places together resulted in a total of several cities’ populations.
Among them were 100,000 men called the Leopard troops, who were all volunteering warriors, who were expected to take the lead in the war.
On the other hand, Yemaek deployed 100,000 defense troops and 30,000 powerful soldiers to the border.
Thousands of wizards were included in the troops of both sides, and various weapons including the artillery units and Puppets were displayed.
When the elite troops and combat weapons were gathered and the border was filled with nothing but the scent of war, the civilians took refuge in shelters far from the border.
That place, a famous border town and fort, was being used as the headquarters of the Yemaek Army.
From the early morning itself, voices were roaring inside the headquarters’ building.
“When will the reinforcements from the Northern Continent arrive?”
The owner of the voice was Yemaek’s chief commander, Eulji Dok-mun.
With his small eyes and beard that resembled a hedgehog, he was a member of the Eulji Family, a prestigious family in Yemaek.
Jo Won-rak, who was also seated in the conference room, answered his question with a flush of redness on his face.
“We checked in yesterday, and we’re told it would take them another five days.”
Crossing the sea didn’t mean the end of their journey.
They should land on the coast of Yemaek and move all the way to the battlefield on foot.
And for all of that to happen, it would take five days.
“Five days, isn’t that too much time?”
“They are unfamiliar with our place, and the steel giants they use as weapons are heavy. It seemed like it was going to take a while to move them.”
“What the?! We don’t know when the war would even start…”
Hearing Jo Won-rak’s answer, Eulji Dok-mun didn’t seem too pleased.
They were already in the border. The troops and the atmosphere was building up to the extent that the war could break out at any moment.
Both sides were fiercely scouting all the talents in their own nation and trying to find the faults in the others.
‘For now, it would be better to think of them as spare power.’
Eulji Dok-mun had excellent strength. However, his skills were in formulating tactics and his leadership.
In addition, he was a person who calculated all the variables in war because he was calm and delicate, unlike his rough appearance.
For him, the Symphonia troops led by Luke was a headache.
It wasn’t just because he underestimated them but also because they didn’t know the power or number of their troops.
First of all, it was said that the king himself was leading his men and was bringing in steel giants, which were considered as weapons, so they considered them to be elite troops.
‘To think of such troops as reserve forces because of insufficient troops…’
In any war, the first phase of the war was very important.
The nations leading to the first phase of the war was more likely to win it.
That was why Eulji Dok-mun was intent on mobilizing as many troops as possible to defeat their enemy and break their morale.
‘Tch, this isn’t right. For now, we have no choice but to play using what we have.’
With his head down, he asked the woman in a blue dress, who was seated next to Jo Won-rak, “Princess, does the Katai or Yamatai have any intention of helping us out?”
The woman in the blue dress was Princess So-hye, the fiancé of Jo Won-rak.
She was an excellent tactician and Zen skill user. She came out to help in the battle.
“It was said that His Majesty has sent envoys to their regions, but Yamatai hasn’t given a response. And Katai said that they wanted to maintain a neutral relationship and not get involved in the conflict.”
“Tch, those damn thieves!”
The intention of both nations was obvious.
They were waiting for the Song Empire and Yemaek to bite down each other and weaken.
They were always like that.
The neighboring nations always enter the scene when there was a political crisis in the states.
When it came to stealing in land, the men of Katai were the best, and the Yamatain were best at stealing things in the sea.
“They really are men with no thought. Don’t they know that once Yemaek falls in the hands of the Song Empire, they will be next…”
At the venting of Eulji Dok-mun, Jo Won-rak opened his lips.
“How can people who loot other people of their wealth know the feeling of death under others’ hands? Rather, commander, how are the defense preparations?”
“Sufficient troops and supplies are being gathered in each castle and fort to prepare for the long war. After the enemy’s vanguards are defeated, we plan to lure and destroy the enemy by going on an all-out offensive counterattack.”
Yemaek never had a peaceful relationship with the Song Empire.
This was why dozens of forts have been built on the shared borders over the duration of time.
Both the nations had already experienced war in the past.
During that time, the Song Empire failed to cross the border and was destroyed.
It was because if the Song Empire took down one of Yemaek’s forts, the troops from the nearby fort would attack from the rear and destroy the Song troops.
However, that didn’t mean that Yemaek had the upper hand.
If the route was long, then the Song troops could build a barrier.
In fact, there were times when the troops were blocked like that.
Since it was more effective to use the geographical and military advantage they had, the Yemaek Army decided that their strategy would be to lure their enemy and then counterattack.
However, their current situation was different.
The troops mobilized by the Song Empire had exceeded their expectations.
In addition, around 100,000 warriors from the Moorim clans were participating in the war.
“Since there are too many Song troops, it will be a tough battle.”
“We have built and reinforced the forts for a very long time, yet it will be difficult to capture them with quite a few attacks.”
“It would be better if the war ends with little damage on both sides…”
Although he did take refuge in Yemaek, Jo Won-rak didn’t abandon his nation.
As a result, he couldn’t help but worry about the soldiers who were forcibly recruited by Jo Won-gyun’s men.
Princess So-hye nodded and agreed with Jo Won-rak’s wishes.
“If we think about the relationship between the two nations, the fewer the sacrifices, the better. General Lee Yong-mu of the Song Army, who was the commander of this war, suddenly decided to resign. The moral of the soldiers is low. The war won’t last long like that, so I think even the other side will use less force rather than let their men die.”
“I really hope it will turn out like that.”
At the words of his fiancé, Jo Won-rak thought about it.
Why would Lee Yong-mu, the strongest man on the Song Empire, resign so suddenly?
Although Lee Yong-mu usually had a lot of dissatisfaction with the crown prince, he wouldn’t have decided to resign.
Rather, he must have been displeased with the actions of Jo Won-gyun and Hwang Bo-kwang.
‘But he suddenly stepped back and let brother take control of the military?’
What could that mean?
Was there something else that happened to Lee Yong-mun, or did Jo Won-gyun do something?
The latter made Jo Won-rak uneasy.
It was revealed that the Hwang Bo clan was behind the strange Kangshi, which appeared the last time. If the Hwang Bo clan had the power strong enough to eliminate General Lee Yong-mu…
Could Yemaek even be safe for a while?
It was true that Yemaek had been preparing for war steadily.
However, the Song Empire continued to increase its military might as well despite internal conflicts.
In addition, what if Hwang Bo-kwang managed to make a lot of Kangshi like that time?
The troops of Yemaek, who had never gone against such enemies, could collapse at once.
‘If such a monster appears in the absence of King Luke…’
While Jo Won-rak was in his thoughts.
Suddenly, the door to the room opened and an armed man entered while panting heavily.
“This is bad! The Song Army has begun its advancement!”
Eulji Dok-mon jumped up from his seat and received a detailed report from the man.
It was said that the Song Army, which crossed the border, began to get offensive in all four directions.
Five castles and forts were already under attack, and they were ready to keep attacking.
“What’s the damage to our troops?”
“It was said that there wasn’t any major damage since the start of the attack. It was said that the generals and the ones in command of the army in the fort are responding according to the plan we prepared in advance.”
“That is great. Ask them to send in the scouts to get a closer look at Song Army’s movement.”
The man stepped out of the room after receiving the order, Eulji Dok-mun moved to the fort models on the table.
Princess So-hye asked, “A full-scale war has started?”
“It looks like it, Prince. Now, the fate of Yemaek and Song will be decided by this battle.”
The winning side would have a huge loss.
However, the losing side would be thoroughly trampled under the troops of the other nations.
“Commander, for the sake of our people, we shouldn’t lose this war.”
“Don’t worry. We will surely win. So trust me and your soldiers.”
Eulji Do-mun had already analyzed their strategies and tactics.
They had built a triple line of defense and a lot of fire ammunition were installed in the mountains.
If they were used at the right moment, they could annihilate their enemy and bury them at once.
Although his army was fewer in number, he never thought that the Yemaek Army would lose.