Lucius and Gabriel drew up a few ground plans about how to proceed in case a battle really happens and finished it in just an hour. There wasn't really much they needed to do since they had the number superiority.
The number of soldiers and guards that Viscount Drew had were around half of the Inanis. But there was also the fact that unless they got a concrete reason that the Drew territory was betraying the Grantz kingdom, they wouldn't be able to use the soldiers of the kingdom's army.
This left Gabriel and Lucius with only their personal guards who still numbered in the hundreds.
"Hmm… is this guard data accurate?" Lucius asked Gabriel.
"It should be. From what we know, the personal guards of Viscount number less than two hindered while we ourselves have about three hundred." Gabriel replied.
"And we can't use the rest of the soldiers, right?" Lucius asked again..
"Indeed… any that are linked with the royal army, including John, cannot participate in this battle. Even I'll be fighting it as a Count and not a colonel in the army." Gabriel stated.
While Lucius knew that they had a numerical superiority, he couldn't help but be doubtful of the number of guards that Viscount Drew had.
"You seem troubled? What's wrong?" Gabriel asked.
"I don't think this number is correct… at least not at this moment," Lucius spoke.
"And why's that?" Gabriel questioned.
"We should remember that there are now other parties involved with the Viscount. We already know of Bergan's band and I am sure they aren't the only ones involved. With the confidence with which he withdrew, I reckon he should have some other power backing him too." Lucius answered.
Hearing this, Gabriel was intrigued and thought over it a bit.
"Hmm… that is indeed possible. Either of those options would be bad for us." Gabriel spoke.
"If the Viscount decided to hire some mercenaries from Bergan's band, we could have several casualties. And I'm sure they will be hiding their identities as well. We may win, but the cost of causalities should not be too high." Lucius spoke.
"Indeed. Then there is the hidden backer, too. We will need to be prepared for a far higher number than just double out forces." Gabriel spoke.
"Yes. And I think I know when they will act." Lucius replied.
"You do? When?" Gabriel questioned.
"Rather, we'll find out about it when they block the indirect export of Humble blaze into their territory. They will have to blame it on us and block all products that come from here. The merchants should whine about it enough that it'll spread to us.
We need to keep the merchants in our hands if we are to be ready for this." Lucius answered.
"I see… we'll keep alert." Gabriel said.
"Then there is also the chance that they might choose a different approach… there was that spy or assassin that tried to kill you as well, father." Lucius said in a low tone.
Being reminded of that, a cold look flashed in Gabriel's eyes and the hatred for the Viscount could be seen within them.
"Yes… of course, they would do that too. Perhaps even use both the methods, attacking on both fronts." Gabriel stated.
"Exactly, we'll need to keep an eye on who enters and exits the city and the region surrounding it." Lucius spoke.
"I'll increase the number of guards and checkpoints," Gabriel replied.
"Mmmhmm," Lucius nodded his head.
The two stayed there for a bit more and thought about potential threats. It was now that Lucius got an idea that he had shelved earlier, but now it would be perfect to initiate seeing the situation.
"Father, seeing as how the Viscount may have some hidden cards, I believe we need some too." Lucius suddenly spoke.
"Oh? What do you suggest?" Gabriel asked, feeling curious.
"We do not know the extent of the battle we will be facing, thus it is best if we have strong warriors. This means they need to have strong and high ranked gifts. I know that among our guards we do have several that are at the rare rank, but that might not be enough.
So just in case… I have a place from where we can recruit more strong warriors." Lucius spoke.
Gabriel was now very interested in this and wondered what Lucius was talking about.
"And what place is this?" Gabriel asked.
"None other than the reeducation center. We've had good progress with the criminals and there are a lot of them that have gifts that reach the rare ranked. If we add them, it will greatly increase our power." Lucius said.
Gabriel furrowed his brows upon hearing this as he started to think about the advantages and disadvantages of it. He knew that most of the criminals that had higher ranked gifts were ones with severe crimes and it wouldn't be unlikely for them to even be on a death row.
"That might be problematical, if the pubic finds out that we are letting such criminal into our ranks, they might be displeased," Gabriel spoke. "And I know you are changing their perspective on life, but that is not something the commoners will easily undertake." He added.
"Oh, I know that very well. And for the problem about the public finding out about them, I have a very simple solution… we hide their identities." Lucius replied.
"How?" Gabriel asked.
"We will be giving them armors that fully cover their bodies. I can assure you that they would not speak and no one would be able to find out who they truly are. And for them being in our ranks, we shall not do that directly.
Instead, we will be turning them into a separate mercenary company. They shall be called the masked legion." Lucius explained.
Hearing this Gabriel felt enlightened. While what Lucius had said was a bit farfetched, it was still something his son had said and he that to toke it seriously.
"Are you sure their identities won't be revealed?" Gabriel asked.
"Oh, I'm extremely sure. In fact, even if their faces are revealed, no one will identify them." Lucius replied.
"Huh? How is that possible?" Gabriel asked.
"We just get rid of their faces. They are vile criminals, something such as a face is a privilege that they do not deserve. It would be their redemption if they can serve us and help us fight in this battle." Lucius replied with a slight hint of fervor.
Hearing this, Gabriel was a bit taken aback but didn't express it on his face. This was the first time he had seen this aspect of his son and seeing the expression on his face, he was reminded of some people he had once seen.
'What am I thinking!? How can he be like those zealots? He has never even come in contact with them.' Gabriel thought to himself.
Scolding himself internally, Gabriel assured himself that he didn't need to think like that. Lucius noticed some strange changes in Gabriel's expression but did not really think much of them.
"Alright… as long as they are the worst criminals it would be fine to 'harm' them. But for others, I believe you can judge who do not deserve it." Gabriel said.
"Of course. This is something only the vilest of vile will get. As for other pretty and lower criminals like thieves they will have a much milder punishment. They will get a different treatment too." Lucius replied.
"Good. And what do you need to hide them? I don't think we will be letting them out whit their faces damaged, the people will find it rather… revolting I believe." Gabriel asked.
"Of course, we will be covering their faces. For this is the reason why we will be giving them armors. I'll get a few armorers to make custom armors for them. We also need to give them legitimacy and thus a uniform armor would be the best." Lucius replied.
"Very well. Do as you please, the coffers are your to use." Gabriel offered.
"Thank you, father. Besides… if we succeed in this, we will make back ten times as much we spend." Lucius replied.
"I know. Hopefully, none of this happens, but if it does, we will give them hell!" Gabriel declared.
"Indeed, father… indeed."
A few days passed in the blink of an eye and just as Lucius had predicted, it happened.
The merchants were all in an uproar since all trade routes to the Drew territory were blocked for those that were associated with the Inanis territory. Only those merchants that had not been to the Inanis territory were allowed in.
The commoners also wondered if this was some new tactic the Viscount Drew was taking. What they didn't know was that only a day after this the Viscount declared war on Inanis territory.
The cause of the war?
Attempted poisoning of the Viscount by Count Gabriel through the merchants as a proxy!
It was a shocking revelation, and even the nobles were in shock.