Inside the war-carriage was a mage who looked to be more than thirty years old. He wore luxurious robes that had strong enchantments, while his long white fingers had three rings with large rubies embedded in them. The constant magical glow was proof enough that these were magical artifacts, and undoubtedly premium products. The man himself was handsome with impeccably groomed facial hair, his demeanor radiating a sense of calmness and unbelievable confidence.
The interior of the carriage was extremely big, with a bed, table, and two cupboards. There were two beautiful young apprentices seated nearby; although their standards as mages weren’t high, their purpose was not battle. They acted as the middle-aged mage’s assistants, managing his messy documents and reports, and when required utilising their youthful bodies to help their master relax.
A large map was pinned onto the wall, covering the entirety of the Bloodstained Lands with extreme detail. It was ten times as accurate as the rest of the maps Richard had seen put together, not just containing information on inhabited regions like oases and streams but also about the distribution of power in different areas and the zones where slavers operated. Regional specialties, slaves, agricultural produce, ores… they were all clearly marked.
Such a map had immense value. It had slowly been drawn up and refined by Red Cossack at the cost of innumerable gold coins and countless lives.
At that moment, there was a knock on the carriage. Getting the mage’s permission, an experienced warrior opened the door and passed several reports over to the two apprentices, who opened the envelope and passed them to the middle-aged man after some inspection.
The reports were quite detailed, densely packed into three pages. However, it took a mere half minute for the mage to scan through everything and grasp the crux of the situation, “Saul’s cavalry suffered heavy losses. They lost 112 soldiers while killing thirty enemies, with almost a hundred soldiers… Argh, this fellow isn’t telling the truth. The enemy should only have sustained half the damage he’s reporting at most…”
The mage stood up from his table, making his way to the map. Performing some quick calculations, he used a magical pen to draw an outline of the battlefield, filling in numbers. He then knitted his brows, deep in thought.
The inside of the carriage had gone quiet. The two young ladies consciously slowed their breathing, trying to avoid disrupting the mage’s reflections. They were perfectly aware that the esteemed Salwyn hated being disturbed while he was thinking.
In Faelor, grand mages were mostly level 16, with some exceptions at level 15. Anyone who could discharge powerful grade 8 spells had a qualitative leap in battle capabilities. Correspondingly, the title of great mage was granted to those at level 11, who could cast grade 6 spells that could hurt groups. That was the point at which mages started showing their prowess in a small battlefield.
In a battlefield of a thousand people, even if they weren’t useless grade 6 spells couldn’t significantly affect the outcome of a battle. However, this did not affect the high status of a great mage. Mages weren’t merely good for the tasteless art of murder; their main ability was in the production of powerful magical artifacts. Besides, any mage who had lived a long life could not be looked down on. Their personal capabilities may not be great, but they would have accumulated a large number of scrolls over their lifetime. Even in Norland, the mages of a fortress had so many scrolls they were the biggest powers on the battlefield.
Even though Salwyn was a level 12 mage, his status outside of that was much higher, something quite uncommon in Faelor. He was a prince of the Iron Triangle Empire, famed for his strategic abilities. For someone so reputed to be commanding the Red Cossack troops in the Bloodstained Lands, the empire would go into an uproar if news got out.
He quietly performed some calculations before drawing a line on the map, indicating that the enemies would flee northeast from the battlefield. He then drew three arrows, indicating the possible directions of escape. He also made an obvious mark on the northern arrowhead, something that would greatly shock Richard if he saw it— the route this mage had marked was almost exactly the one he had chosen to take.
There were ten wolf heads on the map surrounding this route. All of a sudden, the number of bandits sent out to capture Richard had now increased to 5000. This was an extremely formidable force, but with the speed of Richard’s army he managed to escape the encirclement time and time again.
Moreover, the terrain of the Bloodstained Lands was vile and complicated, with other powers scattered all over forming an additional obstacle. There were some camps that Richard wanted nothing to do with, and it wasn’t feasible for Red Cossack to destroy every force they saw.
Salwyn took out a piece of paper, writing down the latest casualty counts on both sides. Needless to say, some adjustments needed to be made for the inflated number of deaths on Richard’s end. Once he was done updating the numbers, a shocking ratio showed itself. Red Cossack had lost 2300 men, while Richard had lost only 310.
This nearly 8:1 ratio was extremely shocking to witness. It was clear that these armies were not of similar capability.
Salwyn was well aware that there were no level 12 warriors in Richard’s army, and yet he’d sent one or two such men as the commander of each wave. He had superior numbers, stronger warriors, and endless battles to tire Richard’s troops out. Yet, even then the result was this lopsided; it was something he found unbelievable.
Looking at these numbers, one would think Richard was the one chasing, not him.
Salwyn was aware that Richard had priests and mages on his side, but he assumed the few he had wouldn’t make a great difference to the outcome of the battle. Besides, a bulk of his army was made of desert warriors and barbarians. The capability of slave armies had been documented countless times in history; Salwyn himself was confident in killing a thousand desert warriors with a few hundred elites.
However, the truth that was in front of him toppled his acknowledgment of customs. Most of Richard’s losses were slaves, and still he’d been hurt far less than the theoretical minimum.
The core of Salwyn’s strategy was to put a constant pressure on Richard, attacking relentlessly until his enemy was pushed to the limit. The battles would slow the fleeing army down, and eventually his encirclement would be complete. That would allow him to use his powerful forces to decimate Richard’s troops. However, despite the uneven numbers he didn’t hit his two main targets. He was still engaged in a game of cat and mouse.
As such, he had come to conclude that Richard was a gifted tactician. Fighting him with equal numbers in a battlefield was as good as committing suicide.
Despite all those thoughts, though, Salwyn still stroked his beard as he happily muttered to himself, “This Richard is a rare opponent! Even that old joker Rislant couldn’t have managed such a thing in his younger days. However, you’ve met your match with me; just blame your luck. Let me teach you a thing or two about the difference between strategy and tactics. You can win a few more battles, the more you win the closer you get to death. You want to escape to the mountains? Good, then the mountain range will be your grave!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Styles
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA