The Battle Begins
"Milord, we've returned," said Patt as he entered the large tent with Els and Tim.
"Oh, you're back. Reidy, ask Charade and Shadekampf to come over. Oh, don't forget Dulles as well," said Lorist as he rubbed his face to refresh himself. He did not have any sleep last night as he was planning hard on how to minimize his losses in the upcoming fight against the count's pike cavalry company that was en route to reinforce the rebel-sweeping corps.
"Sit down. Was the journey smooth? Patt, get Mister Tim some macks; I've been smelling its fragrant smell since this morning when Reidy was making it," said Lorist.
Charade and Shadekampf came over quickly and Lorist had them do an inventory check and record on the food and money that has just been brought over.
Without delay, Charade came back into the tent with a cheerful expression and said, "Milord, there are 100000 kilograms' worth of refined flour."
"Huh? Mister Tim, why does Viscount Tebri have so much of that?" asked Lorist.
Tim stood up and bowed before he said, "MIlord, the 100000 kilograms of refined flour is made from two years' worth of produce from the viscount's land. The crop has been converted to flour for ease of trading. Every two years, there will be a merchant convoy that goes to the viscount's dominion to purchase that flour for a price of around 1000 gold Fordes. I have been in charge of dealing with the merchants all this time."
"Oh, so that was the case. With this stock of refined flour, we can loosen up the rationing of the supplies of the convoy by quite a bit. Mister Tim, thank you for this. Rest assured that I won't take your things for free and will purchase them according to market price," said Lorist as he nodded in satisfaction.
Dulles then entered the tent and saluted to Lorist. Lorist asked him to wait for a while because he had something he needed Dulles to do later.
Subsequently, Shadekampf came into the tent with a large book and reported to Lorist, "Milord, within those seven large chests, there is a total of 17000 gold Fordes as well as 11000 imperial gold coins."
"Mister Tim, as the heir of Viscount Tebri, I believe that 1000 gold Fordes will be quite suitable as the ransom for your freedom given your status as a prisoner of war. The remaining gold coins will be taken care of by our convoy for the time being until you officially inherit your title and your expenses will be deducted from the figure. We will definitely return what remains of that sum to you when the time comes. Are you okay with that arrangement?" asked Lorist towards Tim.
Tim deeply bowed and said, "Milord, let's handle everything at your discretion."
"Good, that's a wise decision. Mister Tim, how many men do you have in your command at the moment?" asked Lorist.
"Um, I'm not too sure about this myself. There should be around 600 people. I should probably ask Knight Gemors about the exact number..." said Tim without confidence.
"Knight Gemors? Who's that?"
Tim quickly explained to Lorist that Knight Gemors was a Two Star Silver ranked knight that had served the viscount. Only, his age was rather high at 53 years old and he had a carefree personality and frequently commented on the viscount's way of handling things without holding back, thus making him not favored by the viscount. Had it not been for the fact that his family was a long line of knights that served the Tebri Family, the viscount would have sacked him long ago.
Consequently, he was sent to guard the refined flour business with Tim and was also the one that helped Tim to move the stock of refined flour to a secret location. When he realized that the viscount and his family had all been wiped out upon returning to the castle, he quickly took Tim as his lord and made an oath to secure the Tebri Family line throughout the generations. He also played a large part in rallying the citizens of the viscount's dominion to join Tim's insurgent force.
Given that Tim had passed the order to surrender when the rebel-sweeping corps broke through their stronghold, the force of the stronghold had not diminished by much. After being saved as a result of the convoy's occupation of the camp, the people under Tim's stronghold gathered together with several others from neighboring insurgent forces and quickly formed a group of 600 men. However, Tim said that he wasn't well-versed when it came to military matters and left it all to Knight Gemors's jurisdiction.
"How about this, Mister Tim, I will find your men later and provide them with some equipment. You can then go over to the camp of the rebel-sweeping corps that we have just taken to set up your own camp. I will allow you to use the flag of the Tebri Family. After that, send some people who are good with words to the western mountains to spread the news of our victory over the count's forces and encourage the insurgents to join the war effort. Tell them that they will not only be able to cripple the count forever but also make a good haul by raiding his dominion and that the things they manage to obtain will remain in their possession. After your unit receives the weapons, have Knight Gemors start their training before you return to start your noble etiquette lessons.
"Dulles, let me introduce Mister Tim to you. He is Viscount Tebri's heir. Due to certain reasons, he wasn't given training for noble customs and etiquette. I understand that you have been a temporary instructor for the etiquette course for the Dawn Academy when we were still at Morante City. I am now entrusting Mister Tim's training to you. Make sure to turn him to a prim and proper noble within the shortest time possible, understand?" instructed Lorist to Dulles.
"Yes, milord," acknowledged Dules. He then turned to Tim and said, "Come on, Mister Tim. I will observe your behavior and start correcting you when you carry out the assignments given to you by our lord. The training has already begun."
When Dulles left with Tim, Lorist said to Charade and Potterfang, "Make a new account for Tim's gold coins as well as the food he brought back and give him a copy of that as well. Tell him that if he needs anything, he can claim it from the main camp and the expenses will be deducted from his account. When allocating equipment to his men, use the ones obtained from the garrison troops that surrendered to us and sell it to him at a rate of 70% of the market price. As for the resources he will require to set up a new camp, sell it at a normal market rate. You two, while it's okay to sell it to him at a slight profit, don't go overboard."
Charade started laughing out loud and said, "I was just considering whether I should raise the price by a few times, but it was shot down by you immediately. Oh well. Shadekampf, we'll do as your young master says and sell the weapons and equipment with a 30% discount and charge a normal price for the supplies Tim will need. I'll leave it to you."
"Yes," said Shadekampf as he hurriedly left the tent.
The only ones who currently remained within the large tent was Lorist, Charade, Els, Patt and Reidy. Patt couldn't withhold his curiosity anymore and decided to ask Lorist, "Milord, why were you so lenient with Mister Tim and even bothered to help him become a noble? Isn't it a little too much to assist a con like him? If this were the Northlands, he would have his head lobbed off and displayed to the public for attempting to impersonate a noble."
Lorist laughed and said, "Patt, whether Mister Tim is a conman or not is not up to us to decide. It is not completely unprecedented for a family to be inherited by an illegitimate child. If we were at the Northlands, I would definitely kill him and swallow up his dominion just as most other nobles would. However, we are now in the Redlis Kingdom and the Northlands are thousands of kilometers away. Why would I bother to take something that I won't be able to benefit from? Killing Mister Tim does not profit us in any way. On the other hand, if we give him the appropriate nurturing and let him become a bona fide noble with an army to be commended within the area, then he would owe us a favor. In the future, whenever we have anything we need help with, we know who to look for. Understand now?"
Charade also offered his opinion on the matter. "Also, helping Mister Tim form his own army will also serve as a reminder to the insurgent forces as to whether they should become our friend or foe. If they ally with us like Mister Tim did, we will provide them with weapons and equipment and help them gain their dominions back. If they go against us, then we will not show them a shred of mercy and wipe them all out. The important thing is that we don't lack funds nor equipment but rather people who would be willing to purchase the gear from us. That's why we didn't prey on Mister Tim's gold and food. As long as we show ourselves to be fair and trustworthy, we will naturally be able to attract some of the insurgent forces to do business with us."
Just as Charade has stated, ever since Tim brought his men to set up camp under the banner of the Tebri Family and after Josk brought the family members of his subordinates back from the mountains in a grand and public fashion, coupled with the men Tim sent to spread the news about the count's rebel-sweeping corps's demise, the insurgent forces have started sending people to the convoy to trade for weapons and equipment. Charade has managed to exchange many unused items for war horses in a short period of time due to the fair prices and quantity of the weapons offered, temporarily alleviating the desperate lack of mounts the convoy faced.
As for the ones who came to trade their war horses for food, they were rejected by Charade with the reason that the convoy themselves were also lacking in that resource. However, Charade invited the insurgent forces to plunder the count's dominion after the the defeat of the count's reinforcements that were on their way. Even though the representatives of the insurgents were rather dubious of the invitation, they still left some of their people to monitor the situation to ascertain whether the convoy was really going to take out the count's reinforcements.
After another two days, Yuriy sent someone to report that Count Cobry's reinforcements have finally been spotted. As expected, they were a company of pike cavalrymen that were escorting tens of other carriages that seemed to be transporting some supplies. It seemed that the reinforcements had traveled at a rather slow pace for the past 6 days and it would take another day for them to reach the camp. Lorist had originally expected for them to arrive within four to five days.
The process of surrounding and ambushing the count's forces proceeded without much difficulty: when the pike cavalry company noticed that they had been surrounded from all sides, Knight Josk went all out and showed off his divine marksmanship in front of everyone by taking down three of the Silver rank commanders of the company with only three arrows. After the battle, it was discovered that two of the commanders were the illegitimate children of Count Cobry; Knight Josk had managed to inch ever so closer to his goal of revenge.
After that, Terman's newly-formed knight squad and the heavy-armored cavalry company led by Potterfang and Loze started their assault. The pike cavalrymen who had been traveling in the snowy weather for up to six days had no way to resist such a ferocious attack, especially given that their leader had already fallen in the beginning of the battle. It didn't take long before they ceased all resistance and surrendered.
After the battle, Lorist and his knights got to know that while their forces only sustained light injuries, the only casualty had been accidentally knocked off his horse by one of their own and stomped to death by a horse in his chest. The other soldiers' injuries were also due to accidental friendly fire while the ones actually hurt by the enemy numbered less than ten. After that report was concluded, Terman, Potterfang and Loze all had faces as red as a baboon's rear and were completely speechless.
However, the insurgents who were monitoring the battle did not notice that discrepancy and were completely enthralled by the fearsome manner in which the convoy's forces obliterated that of the count's. They all came to the realization that the count had actually lost three of his pike cavalry companies as well as one regiment and one company of garrison troops to the convoy. That meant that the count only had half of his military might left. Currently, the count's dominion was akin to a scantily-clad and defenseless girl who practically couldn't resist anybody's forced advances.
Without much delay, several of the insurgent forces of the western mountains quickly sent their troops to gather at the camp, effectively filling it up to the brim. Lorist and Charade called for their leaders and discussed for a whole day, promising that the convoy would support them with their own forces to give the 3000-strong insurgents a chance to pillage the count's dominion within the coming days.
The first place to fall was the count's original territory, Burdock Bastide. Within a single day, the bastide administration had received tens of reports of their citizens or warehouses being plundered by bandits and was thrown into severe disarray. The Gold ranked illegitimate son that was stationed at the bastide angrily rallied three squads of garrison troops in an attempt to squash the impudent 'bandits' who dared to ravage their dominion. When they broke through the ranks of two of the insurgent groups, Potterfang and Loze led a company of heavy-armored cavalrymen to the forefront of the battle and completely vaporized the three squads of garrison troops, with the head of the Gold ranked illegitimate son severed and paraded around on a pike.
Upon seeing the severed head, the last squad that was defending the bastide chose to surrender and the control of Burdock Bastide was officially transferred to Lorist.
"Onward!" shouted Charade on top of a huge and majestic Zeno horse as he waved his horsewhip valiantly.
Near a thousand horse carriages lined up into four columns headed out of the camp. Within it, the flag that bore the insignia of the raging bear was lowered and a flag that depicted a horseshoe belonging to the Tebri Family was raised.
After receiving Lorist's report of the bastide's capture, Charade ordered the convoy to set out for it. Before they left, Charade even transferred the ownership of the camp to Tim for 1000 gold Fordes. Tim agreed to that transaction happily as he felt that the strong defensive fortifications of the camp was far better than the ravaged dominion of Viscount Tebri.
Having received days of training in noble customs and etiquette, Tim seemed to have a slight air of nobility emanating from him and has started to dress more presentably. With the support of the convoy, he has managed to rally 1000 young and strong soldiers as well as 2000 non-combatants under the banner of the Tebri Family and had become a force on par to the other insurgents. However, there was one thing that still caused Tim quite a bit of worry: the amount of the money he had entrusted to the convoy was depleting rather quickly. As of now, he was only left with around 10000 gold Fordes.
This wasn't due to the convoy taking advantage of Tim's funds. In fact, he was extremely grateful for the convoy's help and support as well as the reasonable prices they charged for the items sold to him. His financial issues mainly stemmed from the upkeep required to sustain the thousands of people under him, causing him to eagerly look forward to the day when he can go get a big haul from the count's dominion. During the latest expedition, he brought eight hundred of his men to join the convoy's forces and even gave each of them a large bag to take as many valuables as they can.