Book 7, Chapter 87

War Won With Gold

There was a little interlude amidst the war where six sub-legends of the Empire tried to attack Richard together. It was an intense fight in mid-air, but all six of them ended up dying with Richard not even suffering injuries. It was only then that Rislant realised that Tiramisu, Waterflower, Phaser, and Gangdor weren’t the only powerhouses to be afraid of; the Crimson Duke himself was the strongest of them all.

The battle at Godstear Pass finally came to an end, the results exceeding the most audacious expectations anyone could have come up with. 400,000 soldiers had been completely and utterly defeated by an army a fifth of their size with almost no losses to speak of. Richard had used up 500,000 explosive arrows during the entire battle, and with each one costing nearly a hundred gold he had essentially destroyed the Empire with 50 million gold. With 200,000 soldiers dead, injured, or surrendered, that was effectively 250 gold per opponent.

As he walked out with the army, Salwyn suddenly looked back at the steep valley that felt rather desolate. Those explosions had signified the end of an era for the Iron Triangle Empire, and Faelor would be soon to follow. The cold wind of the Empire had never fazed him, but as it blew at his dishevelled hair it now chilled his blood and bones.

After taking over Godstear Pass, Richard left 10,000 soldiers with Salwyn so he could work on reorganising the remains of the imperial army. All sorts of materiel were still piled up high in the valley, and could be used to arm the 35,000 surrendered soldiers who were still able. The rest of the army began to reorganise, while Richard himself took 15,000 cavalrymen and chased after Rislant.

Rislant truly proved his worth as a commander, continuing to gather the stray troops even as he retreated. It only took a few hours for Richard to see the incoming streams of black changing direction, heading towards a small city that wasn’t too far from the Ice Fortress.

However, when he measured the distance between the assembly point and Godstear Pass, he sneered, “Only 85 kilometres? You think too highly of yourself.”

He promptly gave out a new command. Not far behind him, the Thinker who was clad entirely in black robes cried out at such a high pitch that only the broodmother’s drones could hear him, having them pick up speed. All of Richard’s army was now equipped with the broodmother’s mounts, which were far better than ordinary warhorses be it in terms of speed or endurance. Despite having been active for more than a day already, they still managed to catch up to Rislant within a mere hour.

When he saw Richard’s cavalry appear on the horizon, Rislant nearly fell off his horse. However, he quickly made a decision and shouted out, “All footsoldiers are to stop and set up formation! Cavalry with me, full speed!”

With many of his soldiers having split off, Rislant only had 80,000 soldiers under him with more than half of those being standard footsoldiers. Having received the order, they didn’t show any signs of rebellion or even dissatisfaction as they turned around and set up formation, preparing to fight to their deaths.

There were two different classes of infantry in the Iron Triangle Empire. Outside of the regular footsoldiers, the mobile corps was designed for additional logistical support and equipped each of its soldiers with a horse trained to carry heavy weights for a long time. While these soldiers still fought on foot, they could also act as light cavalry whenever needed and thus had greater status than the regular footsoldiers. Rislant was like a lizard breaking off its tail, sacrificing the worst of his infantry so that the rest of the forces could flee. This was a brutal decision that conformed to his style; on a real battlefield, the old man only cared about victory. This mercilessness had brought him victory over many other generals who were much more talented than him.

More than 30,000 cavalrymen crowded around Rislant and fled in a hurry, the old commander spurring on his warhorse to almost-untenable speeds. A sub-legendary being swiftly flew over to his side and kept up while on foot, an aide that had been left behind to keep an eye on Richard’s movements. With Richard having such mastery of the skies, anyone without such strength would just be food for the windsnakes.

“How many people is Richard sending over?” Rislant asked.

“Nobody else has mobilised. I fled as soon as his followers discovered me, but it looks like all of his soldiers are dealing with the troops we left behind.”

Everyone sighed in relief at these words. After being ousted from Godstear Pass in such a humiliating fashion, they had been filled with unspeakable terror. The generals slowed their horses without even realising it, the army following suit. As the tension dissipated, exhaustion started to take over. More than 40,000 soldiers had been left behind, while Richard had only brought 15,000 cavalry. With a good amount of heavy infantry in that mix, he would need to spend some time to take them out. By that point, Rislant would have gathered his soldiers at the assembly point before retreating to Ice Fortress.

Ice Fortress wasn’t particularly large and there was a limit to how many soldiers it could hold. With the Empire focusing on offence instead of building up their strongholds, the place hadn’t been changed in years. Rislant planned to head straight to the imperial capital, the home city of the royal family that had been the capital ever since the country’s founding. That was the most fortified city in the Empire, and during its early years had kept many powerful enemies locked outside its high walls. Still, after seeing the might of the explosive arrows, Rislant suddenly had little confidence even in the capital’s defensive abilities.

Far in the distance, Richard stared down at the situation from atop his cloned brain. The imperial soldiers had huddled up together with their spears pointed out, looking like a cowering hedgehog, but the dense formation seemed to have no effects. The spear formation of the rune knights broke through it repeatedly, and this time they had thousands of shadowspears behind them that tore into the small holes they caused.

Richard had indeed only brought 15,000 cavalrymen, but that was 11,000 humanoids, 4,000 shadowspears, and 200 rune knights with his followers leading them all. The imperial soldiers were only level 5 or 6 on average, but the weakest of his troops was level 10. With the difference in mounts and equipment only furthering that hap, even a humanoid could kill five or six footsoldiers just rushing in blindly.

It didn’t take long for massive holes to form in the imperial formation, and the soldiers at the outer edge showed signs of breaking down. Only half an hour after the battle began, more than half of the army was dead. Looking at the despair in the eyes of these soldiers, Richard eventually shook his head and muttered to himself, “Fuck it, I better leave some people for Salwyn. That guy…”

The imperial soldiers that were almost blindly waving their weapons around suddenly felt the pressure on them drop. They looked around in bewilderment, only to find that Richard’s knights had formed a giant arc that encircled them all. The cloned brain lowered slightly, Richard’s voice covering the battlefield, “This is Richard Archeron. Soldiers of the Empire, you have already shown your valiance; I do not believe there is any need for you to give up your lives so meaninglessly. I suggest you head to Godstear Pass and surrender to your new Emperor, Salwyn. He will be the one that leads your people into your new lives. You have ten minutes to leave the battlefield; those who remain afterwards will be eliminated. I urge you to consider your wives and children waiting back home.”

The battlefield went deathly silent, many soldiers darting towards the valley. There were only a few at the beginning, but it quickly turned into hundreds and thousands until only a few hundred were left behind. These last men exchanged glances and huddled together, creating a tiny formation.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA