In Another World With Just Monika Chapter 84
There was a slight boom. A glowing map of the region appeared in the air. Remote projection had always been our problem but then we realized that the [Boom Tube] could be its own light source and its own lens. Monika had earlier demonstrated this earlier with being able to create a full-sized holographic representation of herself that could finally walk and talk with us.
An overhead projection screen was a refinement of the process. "I am sure you are familiar with the important features of our borders. Refreesee we can ignore. The Merishia mountain range with Regulus beyond to our east. Mismede across the Great Gau River to the south, and the Great Sea of Trees beyond that. The Lihnnea and Paruf kingdoms in their isles to the northwest, our only real competition as a naval power in the West."
The geography looked vaguely like Europe, if it was absent the Mediterranean and instead of Africa to the south it was South America instead. Belfast was shaped somewhat like France and Spain combined with the Bay of Biscay filled up, and Refreesee was like the Italian peninsula if it was connected to its northwest and reaching around to where the UK would be. The continent had a large island that was placed similar to the where British Isles were in relation to Europe, but much colder and higher up and acted much like the Scandinavian countries instead.
The lower-left part of Belfast was subtropical and the silk-producing region, while Mismede itself straddled the equator. Regulus was basically the size of the rest of Europe.
"Now here is an estimate of our relative military strengths." Red bars appeared inside the Belfast map, eight of them, in pairs stacked into four rows. Four green bars likewise emerged inside Mismede. "Now if we did choose to go to war against Mismede, it would likely go like this."
The King waved his hand again, and the red bars split off into stacks of threes. A stack of three army groups moved to the south border, while the four Mismede green army stacks moved north to challenge the landing. Another three red army groups went all the way south into Belfast's overhanging peninsula.
Mismede did not have a strong enough navy to stop the seaborne invasion cold, so their four army groups would have to deal with three enemy groups attacking from the west at the same time as another three groups tried to punch through from the north over the narrower distance of the Gau River. Individually four versus three might allow them victory, but trying to overwhelm one landing would allow the other to rampage around unopposed.
So they would have to meet the invasion three versus two. Mismede could call upon the exotic abilities of the beastkin, some of the beastkin races like Fairies were very accomplished mages themselves, but Belfast simply had an advantage in more integrated and organized magic power.
While two army groups held the Mismede defenders, the third would swing around to flank and then roll them off the field.
"It is perfectly conceivable to win. But then what happens afterwards?" said the King. He gestured again, and the map shifted. With the green bars removed, two army groups had to remain in Mismede to claim territory and prevent any resurgence of the Mismede army. "I would say that it will take more than this to pacify the realm, specially since the army remnants can retreat into the Sea of Trees and become an ever present pest that will foster sedition and sabotage, but let us take the best possible outcome and their will to resist is crushed immediately."
That left Belfast proper with six army groups. The King arranged them with two at the southern coast and two at the northern coast, with the last remaining pair for reserve. Three lines.
"Does anyone see the problem with this? Anyone? ANYONE?" King Tristwin slapped his hand to the side. "You are so enamored with the glory you could claim that you forget THE TRUE THREAT."
He clenched his right hand into a fist with an index finger and stabbed out as like a dagger straight into someone's throat. Eight blue bars appeared beyond the Merishia mountain range.
"REGULUUUUSSS!" the King roared. "Regulus attacked us twenty years ago, in my father's time! Regulus is the power over this continent that seeks to regain their absolute dominion! Regulus that has the wealth and influence to sow treason and mischief all through the other kingdoms! REGULUS!
"We would claim Mismede but weaken our defense! Those two army groups, if we pull back, would see the Mismede beastking instantly rise up and make the war we just fought completely pointless. Who benefits from this? ONLY REGULUS!
"The best case scenario is if they attack with only equal strength, instead of rallying three to one to overcome the advantage to the defender. Regulus could certainly raise a lot more troops than this, but they too have to mind their equal power, the Roadmere Union to their East.
"They have no more room to expand, no room to breathe. Regulus, trapped by the River Gau, the greatest land power in this continent that LOST THEIR WARM-WATER PORTS when Rodmere seceded. The only one they have left is here " the King pointed to the very southernmost point of Regulus, over the large lake that was the crossing point of three different kingdoms Regulus, Mismede, and the Ramissh Theocracy. "Rodmere controls the route to the East, and we are here at the mouth of the Gau."
The King clenched his fist in front of his face. "Regulus feels THE SQUEEZE. Everyone else is growing in wealth and power, and the only unique thing they have left is their manpower and their martial tradition. Regulus wants to exploit the southern continent for the same reasons we might profit from invading Mismede. But it is much more advantageous to conquer /us/ because we are much wealthier than Mismede, with already developed ports.
"The glory to beating Belfast and opening the route to the sea is much greater than trying to fight and colonize beastkin regions! It is much easier to set up puppets to their rule!
"Just like how it has always been the case, Regulus is going to take their legions and just RAM THEM THROUGH the Zenos Gap. Forces that manage to push through, we have always been able to defeat by surrounding them once they're out. Four army groups versus four army groups is going to be a slow grind.
"But that leaves Regulus still with four more army groups which they can try to land here up north, like they did in the last war. Four against two is a fight drastically to our disadvantage, we have no surprises against Regulus as much as we already know how they fight.
"But we can win. Let all those who would dare to invade Belfast know that they shall rouse from us a great and terrible power! But what will we have for all our struggles?"
The King waved again and the map shifted. "Mismede, boiling over with discontent. The Rammish Theocracy would bite at the territories from the East, claiming lands while we are so distracted. Thousands of our soldiers dead, our lands if not savaged then at least devoid of adults to work the field. Regulus can ABSORB the population loss. We cannot! And so for a generation, Belfast is weakened for a military adventure we never needed! THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE A SHORT AND GLORIOUS WAR, BUT AN ACT OF SUCH BLITHERING IDIOCY THAT IT IS A PLOY TO DESTROY BELFAST ITSELF!"
Then he pointed to the map as it reset.
"But what if we had this instead? It is no secret that I have been looking to carve an alliance with Mismede. If Regulus were to try to punch through the Gap, they would have to fear being attacked from behind." Red and green and blue bars clustered around the south-east border. "But now we have reserves to actually counter-invade from the north! Whether or not we need to join hands with Mismede is /irrelevant!/ Any fighting they do for our sake will be our own blood we do not need to spill and regions that we can free up for offensive action!"
Three red groups sailed around to strike at the wintry Regulus coast. At the south, two red groups held the line at the mountain range's foot. Another two punched through the river Gau on barges to invade Regulus, while a pair of green army groups striking from the flanks.
If Regulus had managed to punch through with six army groups, they would meet eight three striking from above, three from the west, and two over the river from the south. Being completely surrounded would rapidly destroy their morale and ability to maneuver.
"MISMEDE GAINS NOTHING FROM TRYING TO POISON ME. Belfast loses its strength, the potent blood of its youth! WHO BENEFITS? ONLY REGULUS! PAWNS AND TRAITORS!"
The nobles began to murmur.
"~Your Highness..!" one of them spoke up. "The crime of attempted regicide is clear. But where is the proof of Regulus being entwined with this? The war was twenty years ago. Regulus is our strongest trade partner now! This makes no sense for them either!"
"Just as Belfast itself is not a monolith, neither is Regulus. There are agitators on both sides of the fence!" the King responded. "I cannot speak for the Emperor of Regulus, but as a King I can only win the war that is in front of me. The war with Mismede you wanted is one I have DISMISSED because it is not good for our nation in the long run. We must have more than just the dreams of loot, like some glorified bandits! I seek for Belfast a TRUE and ABIDING STRENGTH."
"Sire, it is a pity that one cannot be a traitor four times over to a crown of a different kingdom, because what Count Balza sought today could have set the whole continent aflame, as the nations on the other side of Regulus take advantage," said General Blitz. "What an excellent summation of the concerns of a real military campaign, not just the dreams of amateurs who have never fought anything on their own! Real warriors prepare fully before fighting, instead of just going off to fight and hoping for the best and let valor carry things through."
He glared at the noble that spoke up in defense of Regulus. "But these sort of machinations are not things that can be properly fought."
"If Regulus wants war, then they only have to declare it! But instead, they use spies and turncoats because they know as they have discovered in the last war that we as a people are strong! That we are smarter than that!" The King gestured again, and the guards restraining Count Balza drove his head to the floor. The fat noble whimpered as his cheeks were rubbed against the cold tiles.
"Count Balza! You may think you have done all of this because of your pathetic ambitions and currying for favor from the stronger than you, but you did not even see the chains that have bound you. You had no gods-damned idea just how much damage you were meant to do."
"Your Highness, please! I was- I was wrong! Please forgive me!" he blubbered out.
"There can be no forgiveness. The chaos from my assassination would have flayed Belfast open, made us prey to the wolves! The war against Mismede would not have been the simple exercises I have shown, but chaotic from a lack of unified command! My daughter would have constantly needed to fear for her life!"
The King looked down and smiled thinly. "Everything you have wanted to do to Olga Strand, will be done to you. By this time tomorrow, the House of Balza will softly, but surely, cease to exist."
Count Balza began to wail like a wounded animal.
The King turned back towards the gathering. "My friends! My subjects! My people! I speak now not just as your King but a father that fears for all our children. You do not yet see the ROT that has been encouraged to grow in the heart of our kingdom. You have been led to believe that because we are at peace, we have become stagnant. That there can be no glory outside of war. And I say to you, EVERY DAY we have been fighting. Every day we have been under siege!
"Awaken to the danger! Let Belfast be roused and made ready! Before men can be moved, horses and fodder must be prepared! You would have been driven to war in the grip of rage, sudden and without the full power of mobilization behind you! You would have been fighting without the MORAL FORCE lending its power to your soldiers, to your strategy!
King Tristwin Ernes Belfast began to gesticulate wildly. "ROUSE, BELFAST! Let Regulus quake instead, as we open our eyes to their perfidy!
"ROUSE, BELFAST! Make ready the strength of your arms!"
/"Okay. Player. You know how you're annoyed when I go engineering Freudian slips from you? I don't think you have a leg to stand on anymore after leading someone to go Full Hitler."/
"ROUSE! BELFAST! ROUSE!"
General Blitz copied the King's gesture, punching at the air. "ROUSE!"
Well that escalated quickly.
It was easy to turn people against the beastkin and Mismede because they were the scary 'other'. Racism was one of the oldest self-harming brain bugs in humanity, we have yet to truly defeat it.
It was easier to make people feel afraid than to make them feel proud. And if the King could direct that fear and hatred to a different 'other', the nobles would have to rally behind him lest they be seen not just as traitors to the crown but to the country as a whole.
It was not necessary for the King to keep his story straight, only to speak it boldly and strongly believe in it, and everyone else will work in all the evidence they need to see from unrelated data points. The Royal Army will have the perfect excuse to just smash any errant noble without triggering the civil war aspect.
Of course, the downside to this is that all this military buildup and fear-mongering might in the end stoke Regulus to an *actual* war. Soo