201 Back to Longsong Stronghold
Roland considered the effects of the pills and did not instantly order the First Army to chase after them. Instead, he sent Lightning and Maggie to spy on the other side.
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The wounded on the defense line were given immediate treatment. Only five were injured by spear throwers, four of whom belonged to the Artillery Squad. It delighted him that the Artillery Squad stayed put even when the enemies were as near as 150 meters away from them. Instead, they laid low and hid behind carriages to avoid the spears and rejoined the combat as soon as possible.
Nana remained behind the battlefield the whole time. When the enemies ran away, she disregarded the noise of the artilleries and rushed to treat the wounded with Viscount Tigui. It was hard to imagine she was a young girl who would faint upon seeing blood just half a year ago.
The five wounded ultimately survived. Surrounded by cheers, many soldiers saluted her as she left the battlefield.
Actually, this battle was much easier than that against the Coalition of Duke Ryan. Without the support of pills, addicted militias were so bad at fighting that someone lay down on the ground after escaping a few kilometers away and were unwilling to move.
The hunting squad rounded them up quickly and escorted them to Longsong Stronghold. The First Army also captured two knights at the same time. Even if the knights did not swallow pills, they had lost all will to resist. Facing the approaching soldiers, they chose to turn themselves in and requested to write to their families for a chance to be ransomed.
They arrived at Longsong Stronghold four days later.
Nightingale easily defeated the remaining enemies in the stronghold thanks to the intelligence extracted from the surrendered knights. The captain was instantly killed and the remaining 100 militias were soon captured by the First Army waiting at the gate.
Roland's men found the captive Petrov in the castle's dungeon. He looked weary, perhaps due to his worries and anxiety. But with his status as the Earl of Honeysuckle, he was not treated inhumanely.
After nearly three months, the prince once again met this representative.
"Your Highness, I'm so pleased to see you." Petrov was finally relieved from his tension and told Roland what had happened. "Those envoys from Timothy..."
"They're all dead," Roland said, unconcerned as he leaned his back against the chair. "most of the 1,500 men they brought died on the borders of Border Town. The rest are locked in the stronghold prisons for now."
Petrov looked surprised to hear that members of the emissary delegation were all dead. "Your Highness, I'm afraid that the new king, no, your elder brother will see you as an imminent threat."
"So should I just do as I was told and obediently return to the king and allow myself to be used as he pleases?" Roland stared at him.
Petro lowered his head involuntarily. "No, Your Highness..."
"He became my enemy the minute his army to set foot on the Western Region," Roland said quietly, "Timothy Wimbledon's actions would only be more desperate in his bid to seize power. He needs lands and titles to repay the nobles who support him. If you're doing this for fun, you don't need to manage the stronghold in my stead. Besides, you should be fully aware that your position in the Western Region will only be secure if I become the King of the Kingdom of Graycastle." He paused. "To prevent something like this from happening again, I need to build an army to defend the stronghold."
"An army?" Petrov was stunned.
"Yes. An army comprising civilians, instead of knights." Roland carefully explained his idea. "Choose 300 people to form a team. My subordinates will teach them how to fight. The requirements are that they must be able-bodied civilians aged between 16 to 30 years old. They must not be criminals or believers of the church. During the training period, they'll live in Border Town, and I'll provide the weapons. What's more, your knights and patrol team are only responsible for urban security from now on. More details are here." Roland handed Petrov a parchment. "You can issue a recruiting notice and screen the candidates according to its content."
It was the most suitable way to station an army of his own if he wanted to control the defense lines himself. But the First Army was not even enough to defend Border Town, let alone protect Longsong Stronghold. Hence, it was the best compromise to have Petrov select the people and his men train them.
With her ability to detect lies, Nightingale could guarantee the sincerity of the squad. In addition, a new training method and ideological education could quickly help them form their fighting capacity. They would be equipped with soon-to-be-defunct front loading flintlocks, so it would not be a big problem even if the enemies confiscated their weapon. Besides, this army will also be responsible for the transfer of information and intelligence. If someone tried to attack the stronghold, Roland would instantly know.
"I understand." Petrov nodded.
"I'll reexamine your recruits so it's pointless to place spies into my army. It's a pointless action." Roland warned. "Those spies of yours were all sent to the mines. If the same thing happens again..."
"No, Your Highness." Petrov wiped away the sweat on his forehead. "I promise it won't."
"Next is the church." Roland leaned back on the chair, satisfied with Petrov's answer. "You may not know that Timothy's men burned down the church in Longsong Stronghold and killed High Priest Tylo. Only ruins were left."
"They actually burned the church?" Petrov was stunned by the news. "I, I need to report this to Hermes."
The church ruled that the king and the lords had the obligation to protect local church facilities from destruction. If they were helpless to stop it, they should instantly report it to Holy City. This was the normal reaction of a law-savvy former envoy. Such a matter could not be concealed anyway. The most sincere of believers in the stronghold might have already sent secret letters to Holy City on the same day.
"It should be reported but its content needs adjusting." Roland lifted his lips. "You only state clearly in that letter that the church was attacked by the army led by Timothy Wimbledon and that they left Longsong Stronghold for nowhere after they've looted and burned the church. Besides, attach this to the letter." Roland pulled out a pill from his pocket and handed it to Petrov. "They would understand if you say that the pill was picked up near the church."
"What... is this?"
"It's the church's secret pills and also Timothy's target. It'll make civilians unleash super strength in a short time, but it'll also gradually kill them." Roland gave him a simple explanation. "Timothy wants to use these pills to strengthen his army to consolidate his precarious throne. The church will understand his intentions when they see the pill. "
Whether they would take counter measures was another thing.
"Yes, Your Highness," Petrov places this pill into his blossom and said.