When Charade, Potterfang, Terman, Yuriy and Loze hurried over, they saw Reidy bringing a few of the surrendered garrison troops out of the tent. Upon entering the large tent, they noticed several maps, large and small, were littered all over the place as well as a table that had half of its surface occupied by beastskin books that were marked with all sorts of symbols by Lorist.
"What are you doing?" asked Charade curiously as he approached. After looking at it for some time, he still couldn't understand what Lorist was trying to achieve.
On the other hand, Potterfang instantly had a hunch about what was going on. "These look like the distribution of soldiers and supply lines..."
Upon hearing what Potterfang had said, Charade looked back at the side and got a shocking realization, "Are you planning to take on Count Cobry?"
Lorist nodded and took out a small map and circled a part of it, "Look, this is the count's area of influence."
He subsequently drew a single line outside the circle and said, "This is the path that we were going to take and it just so happens to circumvent that area of influence. If we manage to travel up to 35 kilometers a day, it'll take us around 12 to 14 days to leave this area. However, we'll only be passing through the wilderness or the places where the count's forces have ravaged and that would make it hard for us to resupply and do business.
"But if we take this route..." Lorist drew another line that passed through the circle and continued, "It'll only take us 7 days and it's far more convenient for us to procure resources along the way. However, the precondition of using this route is that we have to first defeat Count Cobry."
"Then, have you thought of how you would go about achieving that?" asked Charade.
"Nope. I've just got the count's garrison troops over and questioned them about the situation at hand. I do have some thoughts about it, but I'm not sure how the count would respond to our actions, so I'm not too confident if that's the best way," said Lorist as he shook his head. He then took out a book and placed it on the table.
"You guys should join me in planning this too. After all, I can only consider so many scenarios by myself. Reidy, get me the Kirov War Chess set," Lorist said.
Kirov War Chess was a war game created by the General Kirov from the Romon Empire about a hundred years ago. Lorist felt that it was quite similar to the modern chess back in his world. However, the chessboard was more similar to that of monopoly board game rather than the traditional checkerboard.
"Count Cobry has a new city in development that is modeled after the capital called Geldos City," said Lorist as he pointed towards the book he placed on the table before he put two cavalry chess pieces and four infantry chess pieces atop the book. "Currently, Geldos City has two cavalry companies and one garrison regiment defending it. It is worth noting that one of the pike cavalry companies as well as two companies within the garrison regiment were only recently formed and don't have any real battle prowess. According to the surrendered troops, the count only has one personal guard made up of a squad with members that are at least at the Iron rank equipped with heavy armor to look out for his safety."
After that, Lorist placed a plate onto the table and put a cavalry and infantry chess piece each onto the plate. "Williamiles Castle is defended by a cavalry company and another garrison company and the soldiers number almost 1000 in total. Even though the allied noble armies that are currently in a conflict with the count have around 4000 men, they're still gradually being pushed into a corner by the count's forces and are currently passively defending themselves. What a useless bunch."
Casually commenting on the allied noble armies, Lorist put down another cup on the table and placed an infantry chess piece within. "Over here is Burdock Bastide, which is situated within the count's original territory and there is a company of garrison troops stationed there. Now, pay attention to Geldos City, Williamiles Castle and Burdock Bastide. If you connect all three points to each other, you get a triangular shape. So, if one side is attacked, the other two will be able to go back it up as quickly as possible. Unless our forces far outnumber that of the count's, we will not be able to take down the forces stationed at Williamiles Castle and Burdock Bastide to reach Geldos City.
"Fortunately for us, the pike cavalry company and garrison regiment that were supposed to be stationed at Burdock Bastide has already been annihilated by us and they only have one company of garrison troops sent there from Williamiles Castle stationed there. Taking into account that the pike cavalry from the rebel-sweeping forces have also been wiped out by us, their forces have weakened quite a lot and no longer pose much of a threat to us. What I have in mind is we take the opportunity when Burdock Bastide is only weakly defended by a single garrison company and disguise ourselves as insurgent forces and start causing trouble in the dominion of the count to lure him to deploy his soldiers from Geldos City so that we can occupy the city posthaste. As long as we manage to get Geldos City and Burdock Bastide within our control, the count's foundation will have crumbled and there will be no way he can rise up to power again."
"Milord, your plan sounds really viable. Why, then, are you hesitating to do so?" asked Potterfang.
"It's mainly because we still don't exactly have enough soldiers to gain a victory without incurring a heavy loss at the same time. If that were the case, not only would we lose the control over the situation, we might also get attacked by others who are preying on the convoy. That is why I'm currently trying to come out with some way to minimize the losses our forces will incur. If only we can somehow get rid of another pike cavalry company..." said Lorist with a bitter laugh.
"But milord, I think that our forces are more than enough to handle the count's army. Why do you say otherwise?" asked Loze curiously.
"We have to consider the security of the convoy as well and cannot send all our forces without leaving some behind. After doing some calculations, I found that we can only afford to dispatch three pike infantry companies, one heavy-armored cavalry company and the carroballista squad as well as the knight brigade. We have to leave behind one heavy-armored cavalry company and two pike infantry companies to be able to ensure the convoy's safety. With the constable squad having to remain to regulate the convoy and the camp guard company being in charge of watching the war prisoners, even if we were to draw some forces from those units, we would only have 2000 extra men give or take. And Yuriy's light cavalry scouts will have to leave a squad behind to patrol the surrounding area and can only spare three squads to join our main attacking force and two more squads for the group that will ambush Geldos City.
"We also have to consider how the count will respond to our movements. If he hears that insurgents have come to attack his dominion, then he might possibly deploy all his forces, meaning that he will send two companies of pike cavalry and the garrison regiment of Geldos City, a staggering number of 3000 people, to exterminate the 'insurgents'. If we include the nobles that have allied with him, he can easily raise an army of around 5000 people. That's why I'm worried that we will suffer heavy losses if we fight head on with his main force," explained Lorist patiently.
Lorist gave a long sigh and said, "Actually, I was considering using the opportunity provided to us by the defeat of the count's pike cavalry to prompt the insurgents to cause trouble in the count's dominion when Josk said that he would rally them from the western mountains to attack the enemy's main camp and give the count no choice but to deploy his troops. That way, we can focus our forces to deal with the disorganized enemy and use the insurgents as our scapegoat to lessen our casualties as well.
"Who would have expected that the insurgents would be so cowardly and not dare to take any risks. That's why Knight Josk felt disillusioned and came over with his men to join our side."
Lorist then briefly told the rest about the history between Knight Josk and Count Corby. "I would really appreciate a Gold ranked talent like Josk and would definitely love to have him join the ranks of the Norton Family Knights. That's why I'm so eager to wipe out the count to avenge the family's merchant convoy while fulfilling Josk's wish at the same time. That's also the main reason why I'm sitting here going through the maps and trying to formulate a plan that will entrap the count's forces and avoid going into direct confrontation with them."
"Knight Josk really is a devoted man! It's nothing but good news if he intends to join us, We should definitely help him out," said Charade sympathetically after hearing about Josk's experience. "But Lord Locke, you seem to have missed out on an important piece of information."
"What is that about?" asked Lorist.
"Yesterday when Els was questioning the surrendered garrison troops, I overheard one of the soldiers saying that when they received news at the western mountains about the occupation of the camp, the illegitimate son that was in command sent some pike cavalrymen back to Count Cobry to report that incident before ordering for them to go take the camp back, bringing along the captive youths with them. Given that it takes four days to travel from the western mountains to Burdock Bastide, Count Cobry will only receive the report of the camp's occupation by today and will still think that the rebel-sweeping corps is in the process of recapturing the camp. Lord Locke, what you missed was how the count would behave given that he had only received the news of the occupation today," said Charade.
"Huh?" Lorist's eyes instantly brightened. "If I were Count Corby, upon receiving the report and taking into account the less than ideal snowy weather for the past two days, I will definitely worry about the rebel-sweeping corps. I will send them some reinforcements straight away and the fastest unit that is available to me is the pike cavalry company. It will take them around 4 days to travel to this camp by horse from Geldos City, which is to say, the count's reinforcements will arrive within 3 to 4 days. We still have a chance to take out their pike cavalry."
"That's correct. Also, didn't Knight Josk mention that some of his men's family members are still at the abandoned stronghold? We should go there openly to escort them back and spread the news of the pike cavalry's demise while we're at it. Even if they don't believe us, they will definitely send someone to check out the situation for themselves. We can then invite the people they send to witness us defeating the incoming pike cavalry company and tell them that without the pike cavalry, the count's might will effectively be halved and there is no better opportunity to raid the count's dominion like now. I believe that the insurgents will definitely spare no expense and send out all the forces they can muster to the count's dominion. When the insurgents throw the dominion into chaos, we can then sneak our way to conquer Burdock Bastide. Or, if the count decides to send his main force over there, we can have the insurgents' forces keep them busy and secretly send our elites to ambush Geldos City," added Charade.
"Good, that is exactly what we'll do," said Lorist excitedly with both his fists clasped. "Reidy, we have no time to waste. Quickly invite Knight Josk over."
After giving Reidy that order, Lorist looked at Charade, Yuriy, Terman, Potterfang and Loze and suddenly felt that something was off. "Oh, you all came together at the same time. Is there something I should know?"
The gang suddenly remembered why they came to Lorist in the first place. Charade laughed bitterly and said, "Milord, the reorganization plans that you have drafted were mostly carried out smoothly. The only issue is the lack of war horses. The various units have already started quarreling over the remaining war horses we have right now."
According to Charade, the convoy originally only had more than 700 war horses. They obtained a few dozen after raiding Viscount Mestre's castle as well. Coupled with the 2000 war horses obtained after eliminating the rebel-sweeping corps, the total number of war horses they had was still less than 3000. Based on Lorist's reorganization plan, a total of 4000 horses would be needed and that did not include the mounts needed by the camp guard and the constable unit. Currently, Terman, Yuriy, Potterfang and Loze had already argued day and night over it and finally settled to go to Lorist for a solution.
Lorist laughed out loud before continuing, "There isn't a need to quarrel over something like that! Just endure it for the moment. Don't we have some people sending horses to our doorstep in another four to five days? How shameless for you to be arguing over something so trivial like this. When we defeat Count Cobry's forces, we will have all the horses we want."
What Lorist was referring to was the reinforcements sent by the count. Given that each cavalryman had two mounts, the convoy would definitely not be short on those by the time they defeat the reinforcements.
After that, Josk entered the tent with Reidy and overheard about the lack of horses. He said, "Milord, if you are willing to trade weapons and equipment with the insurgents in the western mountains, I estimate that you will be able to get around 600 war horses."
Lorist nodded and said, "That's good. I'll be counting on you for that."
After that, he briefed Josk on the plans they had gone through just now.
Surprised and delighted, Josk said, "Milord, are you really going to exterminate Count Cobry?"
"That's right," said Lorist. "Since we have already destroyed so many of his troops, we might as well finish the job thoroughly and uproot the foundation of his power, lest he cause more trouble for us in the future."
"Milord, it is my pleasure to be in your service," said Josk as he deeply bowed to Lorist.