Salwyn hooked a wolf-head pin with his pen, placing it in the north to block Richard’s front. He then moved the other wolf heads around, ensuring that the east and west were surrounded. Only a single troop was left in the south, slowly following behind Richard as he went. Salwyn himself tagged along with this unit.
The Iron Triangle Empire was to the north of the Bloodstained Lands, indicated by three humanoid skeletons. They looked like a pocket that was waiting for Richard to get in. The closer Richard’s army got to the location, the smaller the chances that they would change route. Sometimes, victory and defeat could be determined by a single wrong move.
He thoroughly looked over the map, about to give out new orders, but suddenly frowned. Richard’s route on the map ended up being a series of complex S shapes. Although it seemed like he was doing his best to escape north, he had only moved thirty kilometres north since the start, compared to an entire two hundred kilometres east.
Looking at the route, he felt a bad premonition stirring up in his heart, “This is wrong! Is it that he doesn’t want to go north and instead consume my resources through guerilla warfare? Damn it, the number of casualties is already so high! This mob isn’t the same as the soldiers of the empire, the death rate will cow them until they’re scared of the slightest thing. We need to be fast!” He took another look at the map, observing the terrain around Richard’s current position.
At that moment, the magical clock in his carriage rang out with a melodious alarm. His apprentices reminded him that it was time for lunch, so he stopped pondering and placed his pen down before he alighted from the carriage with them in tow. The caravan came to a halt, resuming quickly after he boarded another carriage.
The dining table inside this new carriage was already covered with a thin, snow-white tablecloth that was made of flax. A sumptuous lunch had already been placed atop it, alongside pure silver cutlery. This carriage was actually a dining car!
Also amongst the carriages was one meant specifically for his rest and meditation, alongside some others that transported supplies as well as two carriages that accommodated the chefs and maids.
Salwyn’s lunch lasted a full two hours before he returned to his carriage. This wasn’t normally a waste of time; he used the opportunity to think and receive visitors. However, when he returned he found new reports that immediately made him frown.
Richard, who was initially heading north, had suddenly turned east. He’d plowed through the troops there, leaving no traces behind. The battle had been short yet intense, with more than 150 of the 500-man troop guarding the direction dying before they were forced to withdraw. With the high death toll, there was no way of scouting Richard’s next direction.
Once the battle had come to an end, the reinforcements found only a few bodies that belonged to Richard’s army, a majority of them being desert warriors.
“East… Was his true goal to return to the Sequoia Kingdom?” Salwyn grew unsure. The earliest reports of Richard’s position were towards the borders of the Sequoia Kingdom. Generally he would want to prevent the foe from heading back to his homeland, but it was no secret that everyone in the Bloodstained Lands was more than meets the eye. It was obvious to him that Richard had wanted to go north at the start; based on his intuition, he did not think this was a false trail.
Furthermore, the results of the battle itself were incredible. It was normally impossible for troops of that caliber to kill a hundred and fifty experienced soldiers in a mere ten minutes. Salwyn quickly decided that he had to view Richard’s commandership in person. He instructed his assistants to prepare horses and magic scrolls, telling the guard leader to choose fifty of their best warriors to accompany him to the frontlines of the battle.
However, this decision was met with tactful resistance on the part of the two female mages. They felt that the absence of adequate protection would make it a dangerous mission, and this was a hunt that had been conceived at the last minute. Salwyn had been thrilled by the prey, thus taking over command from Red Cossack’s members. This had already delayed them greatly; if Salwyn were put in danger during the mission, they would most likely be executed when they returned to the empire.
In their point of view, a possible heir to the throne like Salwyn was a thousand times more important than some unknown group of thieves.
The guard leader took the assistants’ side. He was more firm and blunt, stating directly that nothing was more important at that moment than vying for the title of emperor. The secret forces of the empire had already headed south, there was no time to be distracted by other issues. This guard leader had been a trusted aide for many years, causing the mage to hesitate.
At that moment, two swift horses raced towards them carrying scouts with information to report. It made the normally calm prince frown.
First was that the Iron Triangle Empire’s secret forces had met up with two marquesses and the forces of the Church of Valour, together forming a 2000-strong contingent with 200 paladins, 200 imperial knights, and more than ten priests that were awaiting his command.
The next was even more urgent. The black demons from a foreign plane had broken into Twilight Oasis, killing more than 2000 people and enslaving the rest to form an army of more than 3000.
“Three thousand!” Salwyn laughed mockingly, “Looks like these friends from afar issued a weapon to anyone who can move. Alright, let me look at the map…”
Standing in front of the large map that indicated the location of his troops, Salwyn looked towards Twilight Oasis and sighed, instructing the caravan to turn around as they headed towards their camp. He was already deep into the northern portions of the Bloodstained Lands. He needed to set out immediately to rendezvous with the secret forces, lest he be attacked by these enemies.
Salwyn reluctantly looked at the various marks he had made all over the northern Bloodstained Lands, letting out a deep sigh. These marks signified battle after suffocating battle, with numerous plot twists and unexpected outcome. The pack of wolves he had sent had left their bite marks on the prey, but the prey only sustained superficial wounds while the predator’s teeth were ruined.
“Richard.. You better live on! Once I get the chance, I will show you what strategic dominance is all about, haha!” Salwyn shook his head. Richard was a gifted general in his eyes, but not a true commander. However, he himself was a commander over all others, one vying to be a monarch. He only needed a bit of effort and luck. The Iron Triangle Emperor was short lived, and there were more than seventy princes who wished to succeed him.
The fleet made a beautiful red arc in the desert, swiftly turning southeast. A few swift horses passed the news to the roaming wolf pack, passing command back to those of Red Cossack.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Styles
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA