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Chapter 444: The Intelligence

Translator: TransN Editor: TransN
Before the housekeeper left the Eltek territory, Roland received a letter from the Second Army of Stronghold delivered by a bird.

An hour later, Petrov's call for help also reached the town's castle.

Since the carrier pigeon could only carry limited information, Roland had to combine the two messages and discovered a piece of astonishing news.

The four families of the Western Region had rebelled!

"Who on earth gave them the confidence to plot treason under my nose?"

Roland immediately summoned Carter and Iron Axe and showed them the notes.

"Your Highness, is this..."

"A message from Stronghold," Roland said angrily. The winter was drawing to an end, and the new year was in three days. Not only were there various matters concerning the city construction, but also the installation of the equipment for the Three Supplies Project required his instruction. "Those nobles chose to trouble me at the wrong time; they must be looking forward to dying!"

According to the secret letter, the inner city nobles led a bunch of squires to attack the city guards. By the time the sentries on the city wall realized something was wrong, the switch for the northern drawbridge had fallen into the control of the enemies. The sentries could do nothing but light the beacon fire and rely on the city wall to hold their positions.

When the other members of the Second Army saw the beacon signal, they followed the emergency response protocol by dividing the camp's ten teams of about 50 soldiers in total into two platoons. One platoon charged toward the north gate, while the other went to the Stronghold castle. Petrov's secret letter was sent after the second platoon confronted the enemies at the castle and realized they were fighting the local nobilities.

"Petrov Hull mentioned that the attackers sieging the castle were carrying the four families' banners, which means this rebellion was planned," Carter frowned after reading the notes. "Since the four families are acting together, there must be a leader among them."

Indeed, the four families, or five families including those under Duke Ryan, were great nobles on equal footing. If they were to set aside their prejudices and cooperate, it was most likely because a bigger force was behind them. Otherwise, with the Earls looking down upon each other, it would take over a decade for them to decide on a leader.

At the moment, there were only one or two people who would be interested in meddling with the Western Region.

"Do you mean... Timothy in the King's City?" Iron Axe looked at the Chief Knight. As a member of the Ironsand people of the Mojin Clan, he was far less sensitive to the political situation of the Kingdom of Graycastle than Carter was.

"I wouldn't be surprised if it's the church," Roland twitched his mouth and said. "Judging from their actions at Fallen Dragon Ridge, it's only a matter of time before they attack the Western Region."

"The problem is, in the second letter, Petrov mentioned the enemies might have firearms." Carter frowned. "Does it mean they have learned the formula for gunpowder?"

"Snow powder isn't unknown to the church and Timothy, but they have a long way to go before they can use it smoothly." The prince knocked on the table lightly. "What puzzles me is that with Border Town as the nearest town to Stronghold, the help they get must be from somewhere further. So even with the support of an unknown force, how did they gain enough confidence to confront the First Army?"

"Probably because we're in the Months of the Demons," Iron Axe replied after contemplating for a while. "Although last time Your Highness defeated the Duke's knights using thunder power, our troops didn't show extraordinary skills in battle. Now with the snow blocking the roads and demonic beasts attacking the borders, it seems like perfect timing for a successful rebellion, and it'll be at least two months before you have the resources to attack Longsong Stronghold."

"And I'll be hindered by the lofty city walls and powerful flintlocks?"

"Yes," Iron Axe couldn't help but grin. "They have all the weapons that you have, plus the insurmountable city wall and reinforcement of an unknown force, so they have a very good chance of beating you at the foot of the city wall. That's probably what they thought."

"Yet they're fully unaware of the power of Border Town." Roland stood up. "Iron Axe!"

"At your command, Your Highness!" Iron Axe instantly stood at attention.

"The First Army must immediately prepare for an expedition. We'll set off tomorrow morning," Roland said decisively. "Choose 500 soldiers. Carry six field artilleries. You are in charge of making the specific arrangements."

"Yes, Sir!" Iron Axe saluted.

The scale of the First Army had quadrupled its original 500 soldiers to 2,200. Revolving rifles were upgraded, and their firepower was drastically increased. Besides, the efficiency of the First Army's executing instructions was greatly enhanced due to the improvement of the soldiers' educational level. Upon command, personnel would deploy ammunition and rations based on the number of soldiers on the operation and the number of days. The logistics work for 500 people could be done in almost one day. Compared with the knights or the mercenaries, who needed weeks to prepare, Roland's army was functioning at an incredible speed.

The army headed towards the inner city of Stronghold on 11 paddle steamers. After entering mass production, the production of a boat with a reinforced concrete hull took only five days, which was even a deliberately lowered speed, because its number was limited by the available crew and steam engines.


"At your command, Your Highness," the Chief Knight said and raised his head high.

"You stay in Border Town."

The corners of the knight's mouth instantly fell down. "Wha-what? No. Your Highness. How could you leave me behind again?"

"We're still in the Months of the Demons. Demonic beasts pose a greater threat than the nobility," Roland said unwaveringly. "Guard the town well."

After the two of them retreated, Roland sighed. "This time the witches need to go with me."

"I'll follow you, no matter where you go," Nightingale said with a smile.

Considering their opponent could be the church, Roland knew that only the witches could effectively counter the Pure Witches' attacks without God's Stones of Retaliation. After debating his options, Roland decided on the witches who would accompany him: Lightning, Maggie, Sylvie, Nana, Lily, and Nightingale. "If I add the three combat witches from Sleeping Island to the list, ít'll be very hard for the Pure Witches to defeat us."

Roland stood at the window and looked at the snowy mountains and plains.

"If I view the Impassable Mountain Range as the city wall of Stronghold, then the Barbarian Land in the north is also the domain of the four families, a territory beyond the reach of my power. Elk, Wild Rose, Maple Leaf, and Wolf families... have operated separately on their own lands for over a decade, forming their unique laws and customs, so even Ryan, the overlord of the Western Region, seldom interfered with their businesses," mused Roland. The prince had intended to slowly divide and annex these aristocratic territories after building the new city, but the rebellion gave him an early opportunity—one to swallow the vast land and population of Stronghold in one gulp.

He didn't intend to let go of the nobles this time.

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