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240 Stalling for time

19th July 1574

"Just what the hell are they waiting for…"

Standing on top of the makeshift wall that separated the city from the road that it was supposed to use, I observed the movements of the enemy. With Ostros troops daring to show their heads outside of the cover of the trees only due to a slip or other accident, I had no way of retaliating against their siege…

Or at least, that's what I hoped they would believe after giving them over two days to prepare their camp. Yet even while I could still order my troops to shoot at them, as the height advantage gave us just enough reach to put the entirety of the enemy forces within our effective shooting range, the fact that they were all hiding behind the trees right at the very edge of our range, meant that unless they would finally start their damned attack, we would be powerless to actually force them out. 

"If this goes on… Or even worse, if they wait for the other nobles to assemble, only to force them into the attack before we could talk with them…"

Resting her body weight on my arm, Elia looked in the opposite direction to where my eyes were directed as if hoping to see some new force lingering on the edge of our visibility.

"I guess you are right about this. Since that's the case, there is no use for waiting."

Freeing my arm from Elia's embrace, I slapped both of my cheeks with the palms of my hands in order to clear my thoughts, before kissing my wife's cheek and smiling.

"I hope you will watch my valiant endeavours."

Barely holding my own giggle as I said those cringe words, I heard Elia's soft laughter as she couldn't hold her own reaction to my whiteknighting back.

"I will, I will. Just make sure to come back safely."

Being sent off with such a vibrant smile… 

Walking down on the makeshift staircase, I arrived at one of the clearings in the marketplace. With how I could only figure out the need for so much buildings, there were a lof of empty spots like this one, littered all over the place. Originally, with its square shape and perfect position in terms of logistic, they were aimed to be sold to the highest bidder, as soon as the renome of this place would grow high enough.

Yet just like always, the times of war lead to the basic change in everything. 

Rather than being filled with supplies, building materials and workers striving hard to turn all of those wares into a proper building, this empty plaza was now brimming with people, orderly separated into groups corresponded to their official assignment.

"First army, attention!"

Manning the fortifications or fighting from behind the cover was a far lesser burden on one's morale or courage than doing the same on foot. That's why both of my less-capable and less disciplined armies were stationed all over the city on top of three separate lines of defence. On the other hand, the first army, the same that scored the first carnage points against the army that dared to siege Tarnow, was far more useful as either the reserve or the mobile unit!

"Listen up, folks! All we are going to do is to get the earthbags out, set the firing positions fifty meters away from the fortified line and cover it with barber fence. The aim of this escapade is not to engage the enemy, but to force them to come out of their hiding. Obviously, we can't do so without exchanging the fire, but do NOT!!!"

As soon as I shouted the negation, I waited for a few moments to make sure the soldiers were paying their utmost attention to what I was speaking.

"DO NOT SHOOT before the order to do so will be given. We can't let them know what the exact effective range of our weapons is, so I will only let you guys shoot, after I myself will fire the first shoot. Understood?!"

Using one of the crates that used to carry supplies, I climbed on its top to make sure I was perfectly visible for all the two hundred soldiers gathered on the plaza.

"YES SIR!"

When those loyal troops of mine responded, I felt as if some of the heavy gunners noticed an attack and allowed his nerves to get better of him, releasing a salvo into the air. Yet in the end, it was just an afterthought that appeared in my mind when I both heard and saw the enthusiastic reaction of my people.

"You guys…"

Looking down on the courageous men of mine… No, they weren't courageous. Most of them lived in the society where nobles had everything. Most of them lived in the world where by letting the nobles take care of their defences, they were forced to work their bottoms out to provide for said nobles.

Yet the fight from before, when we smashed apart Ostros forces, forcing them to pull out from the siege, proven to them that with those new weapons of mine, or even with those tactics that I implemented, the ages-old roles in the society finally could change!

They were not courageous. I could see it in their eyes. Rather than having their spirits lifted by my little speech, I could see the bloodlust twisting their faces. Just a single taste of holding this insane power, the right to decide with just a small move of their fingers, whether those mighty mercenaries and noblemen of the opposing force would die or live… 

Rather than being courageous, they were drunk on the power that siding with me offered them!

"With that said, let's not waste any more time! Get your bags and shovels, and let's go!"

In just a few moments, what looked like your everyday crowd that one could see in any city, turned into a perfectly organised unit. With each team standing by while their commanding officer went to fetch the utensils I requested them to carry, it took all of them only a few minutes before the entire force was ready to march out.

And with all of that, I could only hope that those valiant screams of my men reached the ears of the enemy forces. After all, it wouldn't be that nice to start provoking them into the reckless attack without a proper heads-up!

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