The next three hours, the team rapidly moved through the desert to arrive at a towering mountain range. They had encountered a single attack in the entire duration, easily defeating the opponent and killing more than thirty of their number. Once that battle had come to a close, they had remained safe from nightfall to the next dawn.
Richard frowned as their vanguard reached the foot of the mountain range. He stared south towards the Bloodstained Lands, growing silent.
“Why did you stop, boss?” Gangdor asked from beside Richard, taking down a waterskin from his horse and shaking it hard before he took a few big gulps.
A familiar, tart smell assaulted Richard’s nostrils. The waterskin was filled with horse blood, and half of it had coagulated at this point. It was giving off a rancid odour.
“Have everyone rest here, we wait for the enemy.”
The warriors got off their horses one after the other and laid down on the ground, many falling asleep immediately. Those who used magic took the chance to meditate, restoring their mana.
Richard was still pondering over the situation. Countless thoughts ran through his mind as he made innumerable deductions in a short span of time.
Ever since they’d changed tactics and charged out, the bandits’ movements had grown extremely strange. Regardless of what their motive was, it seemed like the situation was swayed into his favour. The fewer encounters gave his army much needed rest, and when they did come the attackers didn’t have great morale. The weaker spirits of the bandits allowed them to get away with far fewer casualties.
Richard squinted as he looked at the foot of the hills at the north. What was waiting ahead? His gaze soon shifted southeast, to the stone forests of the Bloodstained Lands. No one would have expected that to be his true destination.
The moment he realised their army had been caught up in the wolf pack tactic, Richard had changed his strategy. He used guerilla warframe to deplete Red Cossack of their warriors, and planned to follow the eastern border of the Bloodstained Lands to detour back to Camp Bloodstone. The broodmother was still moving around in the vast mountain range there, having become the overlord of the area. It had devoured many level 12 and 13 beasts, accumulating an army of hundreds of wind wolves and it could spawn more and more every day. It wasn’t far off from levelling up again.
Richard had planned to converge in the mountains near Camp Bloodstone, waging a war of life and death with Red Cossack. However, the situation had strangely changed over the past day and night…
Richard closed his eyes hard and tried to clear his head, concentrating on meditation. The most important thing right now was the upcoming battle. If his tactics couldn’t prevail, strategy wouldn’t even matter.
The wait was an entire two hours. His warriors managed to get a good rest, even having time to roast and eat horse meat. They had recovered greatly by the time he saw the surge of dust on the horizon, a cavalry troop charging in the distance.
However, their path was perpendicular to his. It wasn’t until a sharp-eyed scout noticed an anomaly in their direction that the leader whistled. They adjusted direction, but stopped a few kilometres away from him. It was as though they were unsure of whether to attack head-on or split up flank him.
In the more than ten days of constant battle, this was the first time that Richard had encountered such a situation. His troops were well-rested, and his enemies were in disarray. Recalling how a 300-man troop retreated after losing only a tenth of their numbers, Richard suddenly smiled as he pointed at the bandits, “Let’s send them packing!”
The warriors got up immediately, the barbarians forming a neat frontline and starting to advance. The cavalry on both sides started flanking towards the left and right. The desert warriors were like hungry wolves that ripped into the charging opponents, tearing the enemy formation apart.
The horse bandits were quickly flustered, and a whistle sounded quite quickly causing them to turn around and escape. Their prey was no longer exhausted, having regained the ferocity of a beast. Past experience told them that the only outcome of taking this fight would be the complete destruction of their side.
The difference in ability between Salwyn and Red Cossack’s men was like night and day. The sheer number of losses had accumulated to a breaking point, completely crushing their morale.
Richard decided to lead his troops north. Although he originally wished to loop around to Camp Bloodstone, exploring the mountain range at the border of the Iron Triangle Empire was just as important. As long as there was an opportunity, it was worth trying. He thought over the recent battle repeatedly, eventually flashing a clear and relaxed smile as he figured it out, “Our opponent seems to have changed. That’s good.”
Although he didn’t know what exactly happened, the mysterious person manipulating this pack of wolves had disappeared. Red Cossack was back to being a bunch of hunting expeditions that were as loose as sand. This was great news. The tightening hold over them had relaxed once more; whatever the reason was, whatever conspiracy their pursuer had been embroiled in, was none of his concern. As long as he could preserve his army’s core strength and find the Schumpeter base in the mountains, that would be a great victory.
The constant fighting was an iron hammer that had tempered his heart, the harsh battles constantly strengthening his will. Now, Richard had a natural dignity to each of his gestures. He still didn’t speak much, but each of his words was concise and direct. The elven beauty he had inherited from his mother had been ground away, his face no longer as refined and delicate.
“Do you sense anything?” Richard asked Flowsand. They had already entered the mountain range, his judgement on the change in Red Cossack ringing true.
Flowsand had the Book of Time in her hands, a pale gold hourglass slowly rotating on the page. She stared at it for a while before pointing northwest, “There are strong spacetime fluctuations in that direction.”
“Alright, we’ll head there and have a look.” Richard waved his troop forward, and they disappeared into the vast forest…
Once night fell, the warriors built tents and lit a bonfire on a gentle slope. Magical beasts that they had hunted were washed clean in a stream, roasted by the fire. When the fragrance of roasted meat diffused into the air, the camp suddenly burst into cheers! They hadn’t bathed in more than ten days, nor even drunk clean water. Being able to bite into a piece of hot, greasy meat would be heavenly.
Richard finally had a bath. Although the forest stream was chilling to the bone, it washed away the grime that had accumulated over the past weeks. It made him feel so comfortable he wanted to moan.
They were at a hidden alcove upstream from the camp. The river curved here, the flow relatively mild. Flowsand was cleaning up right beside him. Seeing her beautiful amber features and the rune tattoo that had integrated into her body, Richard couldn’t stop himself from helping her wash. Halfway through the process he dragged her up the bank, pushing her down. A unique sound of intense pants sounded out as a battle began at the side of the stream.
They had only just begun when Richard’s body suddenly stiffened. “Someone’s peeking,” he whispered.
Flowsand squinted her eyes, asking with a soft moan, “Who?”
“Waterflower.” The soulguard couldn’t hide her position from him. And even if he didn’t know her position, nobody but her could get so close without him noticing.
Flowsand’s body suddenly heated up, and she started moving violently, “Let her see!”
Richard had never been watched during the act before. It was a strange feeling, giving him an unusual sense of excitement. He snarled loudly, becoming as ferocious as a beast himself…
An hour had passed by the time Richard and Flowsand returned to camp. Waterflower had watched them for the entire duration, only leaving quietly when Richard stood up.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Mel
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA