Book 3, Chapter 98

Meat Grinder

An imperial knight suddenly fell from the skies, crashing beside Richard’s horse. He quickly got up with a flip, tossing his lance away before unsheathing a sword to strike at the belly of Richard’s mount.

A stern glint shone in Richard’s eyes. Extinction flashed and the knight suddenly covered his face, crying out as he collapsed. The sword in his hand had long since been broken into two; all Richard needed with Extinction in hand was to attack faster and more fiercely.

Having killed his enemy in one move, Richard suddenly looked up. Io seemed to be recovering between two divine spells, but he wasn’t just staying idle. Ignoring the two elite humanoid guards that were following him closely, he took a few ingenious steps that somehow landed him in the bosom of an enemy cavalryman. His hand made its way to the man’s neck, breaking it with a twist.

Having killed his enemy, the battle priest looked up and flashed Richard a stunning smile. However, his eyes were spewing flames. “How many are you planning to kill, great mage?” he asked in provocation.

Richard’s eyes narrowed slightly, “At least a hundred!”

“With your skills?” Io chuckled before pointing at the throwers, “I can make it so only ten of those things die!”

“If you have such skill, it will be my loss!” Richard sneered.

The two brushed past each other, working hard at their own goals. Magic and divine power lit up the sky, practically stealing all the glamour of the world. They knew there wasn’t much time left; if they didn’t want this vanguard that was meant to establish their might getting trapped by enemy forces, they had to finish fast.

With such a disparity in level, equipment, magic, and the divine, the imperial soldiers quickly fell into chaos. It wasn’t that they lacked the courage, but Richard’s attack was mind-numbingly vicious. These cavalrymen saw their comrades fall in great numbers, but there was nothing they could do.

The instant they showed signs of crumbling, Richard immediately sent orders for everyone to withdraw. Walls of fire separated his soldiers from the imperial knights, giving the few hundred elites an opportunity to retreat. Even so, their formation was extremely tidy. The throwers threw out the last of their hatchets, left with nothing but their bare hands, but this final volley dropped the few dozen knights that were pursuing them onto the ground. The enemy cavalry ground to a halt.

The battle had been short yet intense. When Salwyn led his generals to the battlefield, Bluewater’s gates had just closed.

The Prince looked ashen as he scanned the hundreds of dead knights in front of him without a word. The generals behind him were just as solemn, stunned into silence. The one in charge of the vanguard had knelt down, his head practically touching the ground as sweat beaded down his entire body. Richard’s men had left corpses behind in this charge, but the number was pitiful. Less than fifty had died.

A ratio of over one to ten! Salwyn had been using a legion of trained soldiers instead of bandits, but the losses were only worse!

He suddenly turned and pointed to the general, roaring in fury, “I keep telling you not to underestimate the enemy! No matter how many soldiers Richard has, you have to go all out! And this is what you do? You had 4,000 men but only sent out half that? Have you woken up yet?”

All the generals listened to his raging words in silence, looking ashamed. The next moment, a general with a sturdy physique abruptly took a step forward. “Your Highness, allow us to charge into the city!” he said in a low voice, “They only have two saints while we have five!”

Salwyn’s expression darkened, “Charge inside? Are you seeking death?”

“But—” the general still wanted to press on but was broken off by a wave of Salwyn’s hand. The Prince didn’t make another order, instead walking around the battlefield with a dark expression. He suddenly moved towards the general who was still kneeling, “Get up, go reorganise your troops. I give you one night, I hope to see your men ready to fight the next morning!”

“Yes, Your Highness!” the man shouted.

Salwyn then instructed the rest of the generals, “Clear the battlefield and set up camp. We will rest for now; the attack begins tomorrow morning!”

“Aren’t we besieging the city? What if they escape?” a general asked.

Salwyn turned towards Bluewater Oasis and answered darkly, “No. Richard is smart, he knows that I hope he will escape. That’s why he definitely won’t do so!” After a moment of silence, he slowly continued, “He wants to destroy me here. In that case, I’ll cross swords with him, head to head!”

“Your Highness, did you not say Richard’s commanding was very difficult to deal with? Perhaps it would be better to gather our saints and great mages and break through to his core directly,” another general proposed.

Salwyn stroked his well-trimmed beard and suddenly laughed, “You lot aren’t the normal saints who can only use your weapons, not your brains. Each and every one of you is a general capable of leading troops; your value as such is much higher than your individual strengths as saints. How could I let you take this risk?

“Don’t worry about Richard. If we had equal numbers, I admit I would steer clear of him. If I had half a fold more men than him, I would still reconsider declaring war. However, we have thirty thousand elites when he has less than ten. And even then, only a thousand are elites. This definitely isn’t a war Richard wants!

“Richard can always defeat enemies at similar numbers, while I always ensure I outnumber my enemies. This is the difference between us,” he paused for a moment, “Since I can’t win against him one to one, I will use two times the troops. If that doesn’t work, I will use three times the troops! Do you not have faith in a three to one advantage? Why do I need to waste my outstanding generals?”

Salwyn ended with an extremely dignified statement, “Richard may be a great tactician, but I’m a great strategist!”

The morale of the generals was instantly reignited, going far beyond what they had even before Richard’s attack.

……

Seeing the army outside beginning to retreat and set up camp, Richard subconsciously frowned. Io took the moment to walk to the top of the walls and stand by his side, glancing outside the city, “This is quite the opponent! I’m afraid things will turn out badly for you this time.”

Richard flashed a faint smile, “How would you know without fighting? What, are you afraid?”

“If a person who couldn’t even kill a hundred isn’t afraid, what do I have to fear?” Io answered calmly.

Richard snorted in reply, “You didn’t win either, did you? Far more than ten of my throwers died.”

In the short battle just now, Richard’s spells had killed a little under eighty cavalrymen. On the other hand, even though Io had gone all out almost twenty throwers were dead as well. Neither of the two had won the bet.

Io watched the imperial army hurriedly setting up camp and smiled, “Don’t worry, we’ll still have time to make more bets. I’ll become level 14 in two days. I’m quite curious; how would a level 12 mage contend with a level 14 battle priest?”

“You aren’t level 14 yet, and I won’t always be level 12,” Richard retorted harshly.

“There’s still a long way to go, still many battles. Time will prove everything,” Io continued to smile.

Richard nodded, “Indeed, time will prove everything!”

The battle priest and great mage had nothing to say to each other anymore. They looked at the enemy troops outside, each with their own thoughts.

Salwyn hadn’t encircled the city at all, there was no need. Richard knew that the moment he left Bluewater, he would lose the terrain advantage. The imperial cavalry would be hot on his heels, bleeding out his army during the lengthy chase. The best outcome would be to escape with a few elites remaining, but that was not what he wanted! Once he lost his army, Salwyn could gather his powerhouses and try to eradicate his followers, ensuring that he died in the Bloodstained Lands.

Another method was to use the city to resist for a period of time, injuring as many of Salwyn’s men as he could before mounting a strategic retreat. At that point, the fatigued imperial army would probably have no strength to pursue further and would be left watching as he left.

However, Richard was thinking of a third plan; turning Bluewater into an enormous meat grinder! Bit by bit, he would erode Salwyn’s troops. This was an insane plan, but he calculated that the chances weren’t so low that he had to give up on it.

Richard had never considered escaping. Just like he had in the Bloodstained Lands, he was planning to give Salwyn a new ‘surprise.’ The wall of steel in the Cracked Canyon had built up this army’s trust in him.

The next morning, when the sun heated up the red soil of the Bloodstained Lands once more, the imperial army was already in neat formation outside Bluewater City. The low beat of war drums and ordered footsteps rang out as they surged towards the oasis city like a tsunami.

The meat grinder of Bluewater had begun.

The clash between tactician and strategist turned into a blaze that burnt the entire battlefield. Great fires charred the city all the way into the night, burning the nearby forest and turning the camps outside to ash. The wooden parts of the houses within the city had also been torched, dense smoke and lingering embers everywhere. While most of the houses were made of red stone that could not be burnt, the windows and roofs were all set ablaze.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA