Episode 29: We'll make an intelligence officer of you yet.
Early that evening, once the group had resumed travel, Percy nudged his horse closer to Arthur and asked him "Who else do you think is leading another one of these squads against Black Jong?"
Arthur shrugged. "Who knows? You're the student here; consider this your first test. Who would you expect to see out and about?"
Percy blinked and thought about it for a moment, idly adjusting the green cotton blouse he wore underneath his leather tunic/armor. "Well, any hero who retired to the occupied farmland would have resisted the army's passing, but the reports brought by the traders indicate that the active-duty heroes have been killed and we haven't heard anything about a resistance movement. I doubt that there's anyone of any importance left behind the front lines. The last reports placed the front line about a third of the way into this kingdom, although they aren't so far in towards the western edge where we are. Anyone previously on standby in Avallonis is probably going to be arriving soon, as will be those on the eastern border who were remaining there in case Black Jong's actions sparked sympathy rebellions. Most people probably see this as a particularly bad flare-up of the border wars, not as anything earth-shattering, so the biggest names from northern and western kingdoms will likely hang back until the fight starts threatening the borders of Avallonis itself or things turn into a stalemate.
"I'd expect that heroes of the 3rd Frontier Strike Force are remaining in location even though the 4th Force has been wiped out. Anyone with ties to the 1st Special Operations Division will be moving on this, though, and are more likely to have a Special Unit number assigned to their use. The same goes for retired commanders in the Imperial Guard and possibly the Imperial Army, although Army troopers are more likely to target supply lines and occupied areas, and we haven't heard about anything like that. Likely they're meeting with no more success than the active-duty members of their old outfits, and traditional hero targets such as Black Jong's leadership structure are notoriously hard to find. I suspect magic of some sort, which can take a while for even experienced heroes to find their way through.
"Anyone with a mundane background isn't going to have any luck cracking the secrecy surrounding his operations, and support & supply ops are all in the hero-dead zone. I suppose that we're probably the group with the best chance at finding anything out on that count, since we're right next to one of their lumber-harvesting companies. The company is actually sitting on or around the front line this far west, so anyone following the same train of thought as me will be heading in this direction. On the other hand, there's not as much fighting this far west, although there is a valuable intelligence opportunity in the support operation that we're heading towards. I'd expect to see smaller groups, including a number of unique individuals, rather than Special Unit forces. We've got a pretty combat-heavy group and are heading towards the intelligence asset rather than a military asset in large part because it's what happens to be closest; anyone else is coming here because they're better at thinking than hitting things."
Arthur nodded, grinning widely. "We'll make an intelligence officer of you yet."