Iron Axe and Edith had made numerous predictions of the war at the frontier.
They both concluded that before all the troops assembled and brought all the weapons, the First Army should focus on the defense. Even if the main force arrived, they had to adjust their operation strategies accordingly and looked for an opportunity to eliminate the demons at one shot. If they were trapped in the Red Mist area, their situation would become very precarious.
"According to the intelligence collected by the Taquila witches, the Red Mist produced by the Obelisk would eventually cover more than half of the Kingdom of Wolfheart," Iron Axe said as he pointed at the red curve on the map. "Therefore, we shall extend our defensive line. In consideration of the time for alerts and preparation, we shall set up our outposts in these four cities along the curve, which are the Metalstone Ridge, the Gust Castle, the Sand City, and the Sedimentation Bay.
These four cities formed a polygonal chain that spanned across the Kingdom of Wolfheart on the opposite side of the Red Mist area.
"But the First Army currently doesn't have enough force to defend the four cities all at once, so they have to pick the more important ones to build their strongholds. The most important two cities are the Sedimentation Bay and the Sand City. They support each other and are situated at the crest of the Red Mist area, only 50 kilometers away from the demons' battlement. If we lose them, the demons could directly attack the Cage Mountain."
"Especially the Sedimentation Bay," Morning Light added. "It's the port closest to the Cage Mountain. We rely on it to send our supplies. Losing the Sedimentation Bay means that it'll take the army much longer to assemble. We can't let that happen."
"Just tell them the truth," Edith said flatly. "If the demons take the Sedimentation Bay, then we've half lost the Battle of Divine Will. Fortunately, the demons are also short of supplies. Since they erected the Obelisk on the ridge of the continent, it isn't easy for them to transport the Red Mist."
Perhaps, Edith was the only person who did not mind saying the word "lost". Iron Axe coughed in embarrassment and said, "Anyway, let's suppose that the demons encounter the same problem as us and are now busy creating a "shortcut" in the mountains. Whatever their reason is, the First Army mustn't miss this opportunity. Before the road construction is completed, we must hold onto the two cities."
He paused for a second and then resumed, "There are around 3,000 soldiers stationed in the Sedimentation Bay and the Sand City. They're now building trenches and strongholds. I've also built a reserve unit that contains 1,000 soldiers to defend the rear of the two cities as potential reinforcements. Nevertheless, this isn't enough. I hope Miss Sylvie could serve as a scout to alert us like what we did in the past in the Sedimentation Bay. Miss Lightning and Maggie could help with the other city."
The three witches chorused.
"As for the Metalstone Ridge and the Gust Castle, I've sent a unit of 500 to defend them. These two cities are relatively far from the Red Mist area, so the demons would not likely attack them. Even if they do, they would normally send the Devilbeasts," Iron Axe continued as he saluted to Tilly. "I hope Your Highness could help with the defense in the air."
Tilly nodded and answered, "Don't worry. The Aerial Knights are designed to fight the Devilbeasts."
"The last is the Archduke Island," Iron Axe said as he pointed at a large island in the east. "It'll be eventually covered by the Red Mist, but strategically, we still rely on it. Since it's not connected to any lands, it's easier to defend. The Mad Demons need to travel two to three kilometers to cross the channel to land. The Spider Demons can't cross the ocean. Although the flying Devilbeasts could travel anywhere pretty fast, they can't attack effectively. Therefore, the Devilbeasts won't create too much trouble to the construction of the blockhouses."
"As long as we have the Archduke Island, the Sedimentation Bay would be quite safe. Likewise, the island is a perfect place for us to attack the demons. If we use cannons in the city, our fire would cover the entire beach, as well as the land within a radius of 10 kilometers."
"But it's covered in the Red Mist..." Agatha said apprehensively.
"The General Staff has considered about it," Edith interjected. "That's why we sent 500 people there. Even if the demons attack us fiercely, the army and the fleet at the Sedimentation Bay would still have time to retreat. There's no sign so far that indicates that the demons have a powerful fleet that can fight on the ocean."
"Er... can I say something?" Wendy asked.
"I lived in a monastery in the old holy city for more than 10 years, so I know the several roads in the Kingdom of Wolfheart and the Kingdom of Everwinter leading to the Hermes Plateau. The roads in the Kingdom of Everwinter are mostly in the Impassable Mountain Range. Could the demons use these roads to attack Hermes? There are many God's Stone mines there."
There was instantly a heated discussion.
Without a doubt, once the demons erected the Obelisk at the center of the Four Kingdoms, the result would be more fatal than when they did that on the Fertile Plains. The Red Mist could tumble down to the land below from the plateau and permeate the whole continent. By that time, the human race would have nowhere to go.
"That's a possibility, but it's hard to achieve," Edith commented in approval. "During the last two Battles of Divine Will, the demons could only erect one Obelisk. First of all, their army can't cross the Impassable Mountain Range and reach the Hermes Plateau. These paths were all accessible to the public. We just need to build a few outposts if we want to monitor them. Once exposed, the demons would be in a very disadvantageous position."
"Therefore, even if the demons intend to attack the New Holy City, they could only do it secretively like what they did to the Misty Forest. One or two units won't be able to set up the Obelisk so quickly in Hermes. Plus, the Coldwind Ridge is just one step away from the Plateau. It's highly unlikely that they'll build an Obelisk under our noses."
"I see. You've already thought about that," Wendy said, profoundly relieved. "Then it's OK with me."
"That's the basic plan for the First Army at the front," Iron Axe concluded. "We're now trying to see where the demons are coming from. To tell you the truth, as we don't have enough information and are short staffed, the First Army have had a hard time recently. I'm really glad that everyone came to support us. With your help, we could, more or less, solve these problems. Once we have enough people and intelligence, we can fight back!"
The next was to assign work to the witches.
Leaf and Lotus would stay at the Cage Mountain on the border and set up numerous traps.
Andrea and Shavi would head to the Sedimentation Bay. They were combat witches, so they naturally were sent to the front.
Hummingbird and Molly would support the logistics to help unload supplies at the port.
Echo would be responsible for raising the morale of the army.
While everyone was busy preparing for the war, fall had passed.
The sun did not rise as usual on the first day of winter. Instead, flurries of snow drifted down from the sky.
This was the first Month of Demons after the appearance of the Bloody Moon.
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