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Chapter 113

Let’s rewind to two days ago, when Ivan stood before the State Council members in the command center, briefing them on the ‘Castle Raid’ operation.

“…”

After Ivan finished explaining the operation overview, silence enveloped the command post as everyone stared blankly at him.

Though Ivan wasn’t skilled at deciphering dwarf expressions, the collective gaze didn’t seem friendly; it seemed to silently question his judgment.

“I have numerous inquiries,” spoke up a muscular dwarf bearing the title of Military Directorate Chief, raising his hand. When Ivan motioned for him to speak, the dwarf met Ivan’s gaze with a troubled expression.

“Is it possible to establish from the first stage?”

“Of course.” (Ivan)

“To reach the opposite side of the mountain range within two days?”

“I’ve done it before.” (Ivan)

Ivan glanced at the dwarf silently.

Andgrind is located beneath the vast sky mountains that stretch across the northern front line.

The sky mountains themselves serve as a natural barrier. To reach the realm of the demons, one must pass through the low gorges of the mountains.

Some parts of the mountains have gateways constructed by the Krasilov’s army, but those locations are too far from our current position. They cannot be utilized for this operation.

And this operation is the ‘Castle Raid.’ Rear infiltration and strikes are essential. This means moving to the opposite ridge of the mountains to initiate the operation.

If traveling underground, it’s not an impossible distance to reach within two days on foot. Except for the fact that they have to penetrate enemy territory.

Since they had to infiltrate the enemy dwarf camp without attracting attention, Ivan’s plan was simple.

– Come out and climb the mountain, then strike at the enemy’s rear.

Even if it’s not the highest peak of the Sky Mountains, according to the route on the operation map he planned, one must traverse the barren cliffs with no hiking trails and reach the location known as the Northern 5th Gate by straight-line distance. Even for a dwarf accustomed to climbing, one would question the feasibility of traversing such rugged terrain and reaching it within two days.

“You said you’ve done it before…?”

“How do you think we infiltrated Abiditas’s fortress?” (Ivan)

Day 1 of the Castle Raid Operation in Andgrind.

Whooosh—!!

Since clouds lay below, the sky was clear. Except for the biting cold, it was delightful. Lucia, who had never seen clouds below in her life, shivered, trying to move her frozen jaw.

“I’m really going to die!!” (Lucia)

Ivan didn’t bother to answer. He knew that someone truly dying wouldn’t have the energy to speak. Instead, he responded by pulling Lucia, who was leaning against him, closer.

“Can’t you hear me?! Let’s take a break for a moment!!” (Lucia)

“That’s not possible.” (Ivan)

“Why??” (Lucia)

Instead of replying, Ivan raised his hand and shook it in front of Lucia’s eyes. In his gloved hand, a ticking pocket watch was clenched.

“Really, you think we can cross this in two days? Even after crossing, we have to go down a lot more. Do you understand? Humans suffer from altitude sickness…” (Lucia)

“Surround your lungs with magic to enhance oxygen intake.” (Ivan)

“What…?” (Lucia)

“Altitude sickness refers to a condition where the blood oxygen level decreases when active in low oxygen atmosphere. The moment you feel a headache, cast a spell to enhance lung function and forcefully take deep breaths.” (Ivan)

“This is insane! I never learned anything like that!” (Lucia)

“If you can’t do it, you’ll die.” (Ivan)

The symptoms of oxygen deficiency during rapid climbing. Generally, it requires an adaptation period or training, but not for Lucia.

She can also enhance magic, and she learned blood magic directly from Enrique. It means she has expertise in spell systems based on blood.

It’s something she can do sufficiently. It’s the route she chose because she trusted Enrique’s teaching more than herself. Ivan silently climbed up the cliff, chopping it with his axe.

Whoooosh!-

At the height where you would die from cardiac arrest before feeling the impact if you fell, Ivan silently climbed the cliff, chopping it with his axe, even at a height where the collision sound of slipping rocks was not heard.

Lucia, who had been whimpering for a while, soon clenched her teeth and desperately began to use magic. She seemed startled when she felt the headache.

Impressive.

Ivan threw the axe with a rope tied beyond the cliff and pulled himself up, increasing his speed.

This was his most recent experience among all his experiences. Climbing the Sky Mountains to approach the demon’s residence, the Seven-Dragon Barracks.

Just before the dissolution of the Cleanup Unit, just before he decided to retire. This was the last mission he received.

So, fortunately, he can say he’s still good at it.

**

“Then, here’s my second question. While we may not know how humans execute their operation plans, are you aware of this saying? In war, the first casualty is the operational plan. That means…”

“I know.” (Ivan)

“Would any normal person make such a plan?”

The dwarf tapped Ivan’s briefing document roughly.

While plans written in hourly increments would normally be laughable fantasies, this plan was filled with minute-by-minute timetables. From various tactical symbols and routes on the operational map to anticipated engagement routes. Even first-year tactical school students wouldn’t joke like this. It’s the scribbling of dreamers who haven’t even tried basic war games.

Ivan nodded.

“Impressive?” (Ivan)

“…Impressive?! How can you even say that this makes sense right now?!”

“Enrique and I can make it happen. The only variable here is you.” (Ivan)

“Whether it’s confidence or arrogance, remember this. This map was drawn before the civil war! The actual situation may be completely different from the map!”

“This is underground. While there may be additional tunnel expansions, it’s not easy to break through the tunnels marked on the map. Especially if it’s a dwarven structure.” (Ivan)

“…True. Since you destroyed the earthmover, it’s true… However.”

“In that case, your tactical map is the easiest to predict among the field maps. Because it corresponds to extremely accurate artificial structures.” (Ivan)

***

Day 2 of the Andgrind ‘Castle Raid’ Operation.

Lucia frowned as she spun the map around, chewing her lips while glancing at the compass spinning.

“Sir, didn’t we take the wrong path? We shouldn’t have reached a fork here…?” (Lucia)

“That’s correct.” (Ivan)

“But…” (Lucia)

“Look.” (Ivan)

Ivan swung his axe down on one of the paths at the fork. With a clack, one of the supports of the tunnel split apart.

Wiping between the gap with his fingers, Ivan said quietly,

“The construction technique here is different from that tunnel.” (Ivan)

“I don’t have expertise in dwarven civil engineering…” (Lucia)

“Just keep this in mind. A tunnel with supports means it’s made by hand. Do you see any supports on the other tunnel?” (Ivan)

“Yes? Oh, yes. But why?” (Lucia)

“That means it’s a tunnel dug during the era of the earthmover. Earthmovers use compression excavation methods. They don’t need supports. As long as there’s no earthquake, it won’t collapse.” (Lucia)

Lucia’s mouth hung open at Ivan’s words.

“So this tunnel…”

“It means it’s a tunnel that hasn’t been dug for long. It wouldn’t be recorded on the map. Any other questions?”

“If I continue learning from my master, will I eventually start thinking like a machine, similar to how you do?”

“You don’t need a mentor like Enrique to do that.”

Ivan nodded firmly.

Because it was a deductive method that any properly trained agent could do. It was just a matter of experience.

Ivan couldn’t be a good teacher like Enrique. Unfortunately, even though he had mastered the advanced education system of the 21st century, it was an area that was difficult to emulate. He didn’t have a special talent for teaching someone.

However, if there was something Ivan could do, it was ‘experience’. Just as he taught other adventurer parties not by passing on special skills and knowledge but by instilling ‘real-life experiences’, he was adept at that.

Therefore, he looked at Lucia, nodding her head with satisfaction, and moved on.

After this mission, Lucia would become a good rival to other new Hero Party members. A catalyst for competitiveness.

*

The dwarf, who had been silently observing Ivan’s face, cautiously inquired with a visibly diminished momentum.

“But ultimately, all these operations… it doesn’t mean you’ll be used as bait, does it?”

“That’s right.”

“Is it possible for you to come back alive?”

“Is that an important question to you?”

“I apologize. I misspoke. Even if there’s a slight error in your plan, even if the operation doesn’t go as you expected… you still have to adhere to this timetable, right?”

Even if Ivan were to suffer injuries during rear infiltration to the extent that executing the operation becomes impossible, should he still adhere to this plan?

In response to the dwarf’s question, Ivan nodded firmly.

“Even if not only I, but also Enrique’s operation were to fail, this plan must be followed.”

“Why is that?”

“Once the operation begins, neither Enrique nor I will have a way to contact you.”

Conducting operations through improvisation and stratagems must ultimately be carried out under the thoroughly prepared grand strategy. Even if the direction of the operation deviates under the discretion of the on-site commander, the headquarters must maintain the existing operational principles in order to respond promptly on the ground.

In response to Ivan’s words, the dwarf nodded briefly.

“In two days, march according to the schedule.”

“I’ll see you again in this place in a week.”

“May you return alive.”

Without a response, Ivan left the place.

*

Andgrind’s “Castle Raid,” Day 2, 19:30.

– Click.

The dwarf at the forefront silently drew his rifle and loaded it. It echoed like the spearhead of a march.

– Click, click, click.

The sound of reloading echoed. Behind him, the entire square resonated with the reloading sounds of heavily armed infantrymen lined up across the square.

Creak, the massive gate opened. For the first time since the civil war began, the northern gate of Andgrind, which had never been fully opened, was being opened.

The loud sound of cranks reverberated through the vast underground cavity. Anyone could do it, even more daringly.

Avoiding the attention of dwarves in the underground is no easy task. And now, their enemies are also dwarves.

Similar events were happening simultaneously at various points along the wide front line. Dwarves preparing for a frontal assault began marching forward with rifles, axes, hammers, and cannons.

Toward the north, toward the rebel headquarters. Throughout the vast territory of Andgrind.

“To become bait…”

Regri Groeldi, the military chief of staff, watched the marching army from his commanding position and sighed bitterly.

The Tarantula’s strategy was simple. It was a concept anyone could come up with: lure the enemy and attack from a different direction.

What made his strategy ‘special’ was a step further in his “Castle Raid Operation.”

Enrique, rescuing the secretary’s son.

Ivan, assassinating the lackeys of Abiditas.

The dwarf main force, advancing from the front.

The three of them were each other’s bait and, at the same time, the core objectives of the mission.

You couldn’t fool the dwarves underground. Whether it was Enrique or Ivan, once the mission reached an inevitable point, their positions and objectives would be exposed.

A perfect ambush and retreat were impossible from the start. Therefore, they operated under the assumption of being discovered.

The target didn’t matter. Whoever was discovered would become bait to support operations in other directions.

The enemy would be deeply puzzled. What exactly are the enemies’ objectives? Is it Ivan in the rear? Enrique infiltrating from the side? The army advancing from the front?

Incorrect. Everyone is a core target, and at the same time, each operation serves as bait for the others in all sectors. While individual operations exist on the tactical level, they are intricately intertwined under a sophisticated timetable at the strategic level.

Regardless of which direction the enemy command chooses, operations in other directions proceed as planned. It doesn’t matter who fails. Conversely, if the confused command makes a mistake, all operational objectives could still be accomplished.

However.

“Enrique infiltrating from the east has a withdrawal route close to our formation, but…”

Ivan, infiltrating from the north, will be isolated in the Demon Territory even if he withdraws, which means it is the most difficult position.

The military chief of staff pondered with a bitter expression.

Seeing those guys crawling on the human side, one couldn’t help but wonder if the demons never had a chance from the start. And so, even that great demon king and the Seven Dragons who claimed to be gods probably lost in the war. Perhaps they were on the wrong side of history. Thinking so.

-Boom—

Andgrind was vibrating. The rebels had also begun responding to this sudden advance. The two forces would soon begin to confront each other in various locations.

Anyway, all they have to do is hold out.

For the next few days, as long as they maintain the tension of war among the enemies and adhere to the timetable, that’s all that matters.

The chief looked at the timetable Ivan had written.

“By now, they should have entered the direct route to the Fifth Gate.”

If all these operations succeed in the end, if they manage to come back alive.

What should the Tarantula be recorded as in the annals of the nation?

Will he be remembered as an external hero who ended the long civil war and restored the territory under the mountains?

Or will he be remembered as the nightmare that killed the most dwarves and could still kill more?

The chief found it difficult to gauge whether he wished for Ivan’s success and return or rather his failure and demise.

Just like all the other dwarves who remained at the operations headquarters at that time.

*

-Boom—

In the vibrating tunnels as if an earthquake had occurred, Enrique chuckled while looking at the pocket watch.

“Crafty fellow. Wonder who taught him.”

From the beginning, the operation plans were prepared in two parts: one for the dwarves and one for Enrique and Ivan, the “outside world.”

She released the pigeon carrying the letter into the sky outside the tunnel and brushed her hands.

The Tactical Codex. Ivan said it means shouting from the east and striking down from the west. A similar tactical concept is already well-known—a traditional bait operation.

However, Ivan announced that the operation outline goes beyond that by simultaneously baiting from three directions. He’s not wrong. Operations within the “underground” proceed that way.

And “outside the underground.” In other words, the operations in “our world.”

“Hammer and Anvil.”

He’s like an extreme traditionalist.

The skill of conducting dual operations with a tactical outline that could be found in the basic curriculum of any tactical school is a characteristic of the mundane annihilation unit.

Enrique chuckled and closed the pocket watch with a snap.

In a week, when the iron bar on the anvil is heated enough, the hammer will come.

The minute-by-minute timetable was prepared for that moment.

What was it he used to say? That guy’s way of speaking.

“A great agent doesn’t plan operations with only one objective at a time… Was that it?”

Who in the field would think like that? Enrique chuckled to herself and moved her steps under the shadow of the tunnel.


30 Years Have Passed Since the Prologue

30 Years Have Passed Since the Prologue

프롤로그에서 30년이 흘렀다
Score 7.8
Status: Ongoing Type: Author: Released: 2023 Native Language: Korean
I got transmigrated into a game I’ve never seen before. I thought it was a top-notch RPG and spent 30 years on it. I retired as a war hero and planned to spend my remaining time leisurely. But it turns out, it was an academy story?

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