Book 2, Chapter 193

Level Up(2)

The worker drones had been around since the broodmother’s birth, but because she was always spawning battle drones more hadn’t been created after they dried out. An upgrade would increase their size and speed, also giving them a storage capability similar to that of a worker bee. They would be able to break down the food they ate into nutrition in their bodies, feeding the broodmother when they returned to her. That way, the problem of her food would largely be resolved.

As for designing his own combat drones, the broodmother had blueprints for several fundamental elements that he could combine as he liked. One special ability could allow him to create new drones based on his own current measurements. However, every custom drone cost more to unlock than the broodmother’s imprinted soldiers, needing seventy magic crystals compared to fifty.

Richard grew hesitant for a moment, but decided to try making a new drone anyway. The broodmother still had about ninety crystals’ worth of energy left in her body, which would be enough.

The first choice was the form, for which there were dozens of options. Outside of some strange insect-like forms, the rest seemed to be the physiques of beings she had eaten. This included troggs, goblins, lizards, and so on and so forth. For this, Richard did not hesitate to choose a humanoid form. That way he wouldn’t have to explain where his soldiers were coming from.

He also chose hands instead of claw-like weapons. An enhanced keratin layer under the skin gave them a natural layer of leather armour. Their speed and strength were increased as well, making them the equivalent of a barbarian.

Lastly, he decided to strengthen their intelligence and energy storage. They could thus act like the throwers, able to last weeks on a single big meal, greatly boosting the flexibility of the army. The increased intelligence would allow them to learn to use complicated weapons, and also allow them to accumulate fighting experience. Although the broodmother’s normal drones could not grow in level, there was a vast difference between a veteran and a rookie. This was especially true in the tactical department, where one could be severely outsmarted.

The broodmother’s name for this new type of soldier was not exactly creative: strengthened humanoid warrior. They were about level 8 upon creation, level 9 if equipped with weapons and armour like Richard envisioned. After some time training and fighting, they would approach a knight’s power. It was just that they could not lead armies.

Given the power of these new soldiers, the level 5 broodmother could only spawn three humanoids a day. They were slightly weaker than adult barbarians, but Richard was quite satisfied with them. The broodmother’s troops would grow in number until they held an absolute advantage.

Instructing the broodmother to create a week’s worth of workers and then put all its effort into these strengthened warriors, Richard led his army into the depths of the Bloodstained Lands. The crimson world seemed much more pleasing to the eye this time around.

Noon the next day, two giant bats the size of a horse’s head flew straight towards Richard, circling him a few times before landing and hanging from each side of his warhorse. The mount was immediately alarmed, but Richard cast a pacifying spell to calm it down.

He looked over one of these bats carefully. The creature was many times larger than the normal bat, with two long fangs on the sides of its mouth. Normal vampiric bats were grey, but this one was deep black with a few streaks of scarlet running from its head to the rear of its claws. This made it seem particularly ferocious.

These elite bats had much higher intelligence than normal ones. They could be considered intelligent life with a bat’s appearance, so when Richard held it up to study it curled its two rear claws and retracted its poisonous fangs. These claws and teeth were its most formidable weapons.

Richard was very satisfied with the creature. He threw it into the air, and it flew out to orbit the troops in a thirty kilometre range. It would come back to rest after a while, and the other would fly out.

The same time the next day, two more elites turned up. Richard’s surveillance of the surroundings grew much tighter, and with a supplement of over ten wandering wind wolves there was almost no chance of him being ambushed.

The day after, a bat even larger than the elites caught up to his team. It had an additional pair of tiny blood red eyes on its head, the source of its night vision.

By now, Richard was extremely confident about his trip to the Bloodstained Lands. He was in no hurry to reach Bluewater, instead wandering aimlessly through the area nearby.

In order to meet his goals, he needed to train and warm up his army before the war. It didn’t necessarily have to be Michla’s forces as designated by Amon, other horse bandits were fine as well. He wouldn’t mind attacking a caravan under Red Cossack either.

The Bloodstained Lands was originally a world of chaos and bloodthirst. Once Sinclair destroyed its delicate balance, it had turned into a completely lawless world. Only after a new balance of power was established atop a pool of blood would order be restored again.

A caravan would also provide intelligence. Zim definitely wouldn’t let matters rest here. The large army could not possibly wait until Richard returned, nor could it dissolve without doing anything. If that was the case, even his father Earl Yatu would lose all face. Thus, this large army would eventually chase him into the Bloodstained Lands.

And if they did, Richard had no plans of letting them return.

War was a good source of wealth. The new humanoids were certainly strong, about as powerful as elite knights, but the problem was that too few of them were created in a day. The broodmother needed 50 more crystals to increase her output, and thankfully magic crystals were a mass-produced product on Faelor. In other words, one could purchase them with gold.

The army advanced through the Bloodstained Lands for a few days at leisure. Richard’s connection with the broodmother started to break, indicating that they were almost 300 kilometres from the Land of Turmoil.

Just as everyone was falling under the illusion that the Bloodstained Lands was a beautiful, peaceful place, the elite bats suddenly brought a message to them. A large, armed caravan was on their right, and through the bat’s eyes Richard could see a blood-red flag flying atop the caravan. It was Red Cossack, and judging from their direction and constitution they were cutting through the Bloodstained Lands to return to a human kingdom.

Any caravan that could avoid the normal roads to cut across the Bloodstained Lands was extremely fat, very difficult to chew.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Pei

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA