Reborn as The Underdog First Prince Volume 1 Chapter 4 part 9

They couldn’t spare forces to deal with them when Rynfelt could invade at any time.

Not even the king or influential noble houses imagined the mountain folk could unite as one group.

(With the sole exception of His Highness…)

Reienbach watched as Todd discussed with Ho whether they would head for the second peak next, or absorb the surrounding clans first.

Garul wanted to head straight for Mount Marb and Totila, while Ho argued they should first send envoys to establish a loose confederation.

“The relatively large Ho clan on Ning mountain has now been reborn as Todd’s clan. Many chieftains I’m friends with fear Totila’s threat as well. If we become their light, we may be able to absorb several clans without fighting.”

“Really? Then let’s go that route. Though we can’t take too much time.”

“Leave it to me. I’ve got a man named Yoichi who can ride a warhorse like no other. Give him two days and he could spread word throughout the whole region.”

As leader of the royal guards, Raienbach had left the kingdom to fulfill this duty.

The reason being that the king had ordered him to act as Todd’s overseer.

And he was determined to carry out those orders to bring Todd back no matter what happened.

Todd already had a poor reputation among the nobles and had derailed from the royal succession.

But having watched over him for years, Raienbach knew there was a gap between how the public saw Todd and who he actually was. That gap was the fruit of Todd’s efforts training body and mind while scorned as a fool.

First there were the fortified armaments, then the magicked armor, and finally the reinforced heavy armament mobile armor Shiranui, completed by summoning technicians from abroad.

These weapons would likely transform the nature of warfare.

Unlike Todd, Raienbach couldn’t see what the future held.

But he had a vague sense the tides of the era were shifting, that the time for change was fast approaching.

What would armaments that let new recruits defeat veteran knights bring about?

He didn’t know, but there was no doubt frightening times were coming.

Already, Raienbach as the top knight had been pushed to a 5-5 draw against the still 12 year old Todd.

[If we develop armaments surpassing cavalry in mobility, horses will become obsolete. So we’ll pit the mountain folk against each other, grind away their foundation, and buy time. In that opening the kingdom can grow strong enough the mountain folk won’t even be an itch.]

Raienbach still remembered Todd’s words from before.

When he first said he wanted to go to the Erenesia range where the mountain folk lived, Raienbach thought it was just a childish desire to test the weapons he had built.

But when they arrived, a new chieftain named Totila had emerged amongst the mountain folk, on the cusp of uniting all the clans.

By coming when he hadn’t yet fully unified them, we were able to position ourselves as rivals gathering the mountain folk under our wing.

(For all this to go exactly as His Highness planned… that might be thinking too much, but…)

Still, there was no doubting Todd’s power had given rise to the current situation.

That flexible creativity untethered to anyone, brimming with innovative inventions and ideas despite the constraints of his royal status.

The fortitude to follow his own path, undaunted by the lack of understanding from others.

“We have three thousand cavalry, and in case of emergency, we can conscript up to five thousand, including the elderly and children.”

“…It’s fewer than I expected, but it’s tough. We should try to bring down a larger tribe even if it means pushing ourselves a bit.”

“The biggest tribe around here is probably the Naras. They have around five hundred members, which is more than twice the size of our tribe.”

“Shall we use me and Rai as the tips of the spears and launch a cavalry charge? We’ll try to minimize casualties and just focus on taking down the chief.”

The ingenuity to come up with one innovative invention after another, despite being a royal with restricted freedoms.

The courage to pursue their own path without being understood by anyone.

And the breadth of spirit that made him want to draw in the Akitsushima people and mountain folk as allies if they proved useful, regardless of where they came from.

(His Highness has the makings of a king. But at the same time, he harbors fatal flaws that make him ill-suited to be king.)

Todd would carry out what he believed right without gaining approval from those around him.

And because his reasoning concluded he was right inside his own head, others couldn’t share the vision he held. Todd had a hint of taking that for granted.

The only ones who could keep up were oddballs like the genius Haruto, or Raienbach who would doggedly follow for reasons of duty and circumstance.

Todd was far too incompatible with being the king who had to show everyone a single dream.

On top of that, he himself had no interest in ascending to the throne, even seeming to avoid it.

I knew Edward was being groomed to be king but… for Raienbach who had watched over Todd for years, it was a vexing situation.

Todd was free, and so gave rise to flexible, unbound inventions and ideas.

His flaws were also his charm.

I had likely been drawn in by that allure, becoming one of those few who could understand him.

“Hey, Rai.”

“…What is it, Your Highness?”

Lost in reminiscence, Raienbach’s gaze clouded over.

Seeing Todd call out to him overlapped with memories of him as a child.

Back when Todd was just an ordinary kid, long before things like fortified armaments were developed.

Raienbach would do as Todd said, beating the daylights out of him.

He got scolded countless times by the king, and nearly dismissed by the queen.

At the time he would panic, breaking out in cold sweat, but looking back now even that was a good memory.

[Do you think I can become stronger than you someday, Rai?]

[Of course, certainly. No one can become stronger than you, my lord.]

Those words back then weren’t chosen with much thought.

They were just empty encouragement for the frail young prince.

But many years had passed since then.

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The feeble yet bright prince had learned ways to supplement what he lacked.

Meanwhile, Raienbach could see his own limits approaching, and retiring from his position of commander wouldn’t be far off.

The vigor of youth was set to overtake him, spreading its wings for greater heights.

For Raienbach, Todd was more than just royalty.

He was the lord he had to protect, the disciple he had crossed swords with the most, the very embodiment of the kingdom’s bright future.

And secretly… he thought of Todd almost like his own son.

It would be insolent to say out loud, so those feelings would never be revealed.

But to him, Todd was far more precious than some capable adopted heir brought in to carry on the family name.

“You’ll come with me again even though it’ll be the most dangerous part, right?”

They say the problem child is the most endearing.

Genius and fool are two sides of the same coin.

Which was this prince who didn’t know his place?

After thinking for a bit, Raienbach decided it didn’t really matter either way.

My loyalty is to the throne.

And my faith to the king.

However, these small feelings are… for you, Lord Todd.

“I will attend you, my lord.”

Seeing Raienbach’s unchanging attitude, Todd laughed.

Watching that, he inexplicably felt on the verge of tears.

Suppressing those emotions, he pressed a hand to his chest and took a stance of utmost respect.

No one’s relationship was deeper than theirs, except perhaps siblings.

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Taking Ho’s advice, Todd decided to slow their pace, absorbing the clans at the base of the mountains through deterrence rather than fighting.

After gathering several clans, they left Ning mountain two days behind their original schedule and headed for Mount Marb.

However, a message came to Todd’s group, still trying to advance while minimizing casualties on Ning mountain as well, from a messenger of the Ho clan.

It said that Totila’s group had made headway conquering the rocky Mount Narup, home to the only mountain folk who didn’t ride horses.

With this, Totila had taken Narup, Gar, and Attica, while Todd’s side only held the scattered villages between the mountain range and kingdom, along with Ning mountain.

The number of clans on each mountain and at their base was largely the same, barring the rocky Narup which was hard to even climb.

Simply put, the military power gap was close to triple.

The remaining mountains were Marb, Sout, and Shira. They would need to secure at least two of these to gain an advantage.

Todd and his companions now stood at a crossroads──.

“Our forces on this side number just over a thousand right now. Meanwhile the other side has around three thousand five hundred after taking Narup. The difference in numbers is just too great, huh?”

“I think my Shiranui could somehow manage against three thousand five hundred, but…”

“No way, that’s impossible. I’d die even if the Shiranui was undamaged.”

The Shiranui’s performance was overwhelming.

Unless the enemy used some kind of special magic tool, even damaging the machine would be difficult.

However, the reinforced heavy armor didn’t make its user invincible.

There were ways to take down the Shiranui.

That method was to attack the human inside the machine.

They could inflict damage on the pilot by heating it with fire magic, pouring heated oil through gaps, or delivering impacts to the interior with blunt weapons.

Though magic sustained him, Todd would still get tired and out of breath from prolonged fighting.

If they continually attacked to target those openings, the possibility of him being defeated wasn’t zero.

Plus, Todd had some concerns.


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