A cry of surprise echoed in the dead of the night, quickly morphing into a scream of terror. More joined the first voice soon after, blending into a cacophony that resounded through the dark forest. A strong stench of blood enveloped the region, spread everywhere by the night breeze.
And yet, the cries were gone as quick as they came. Dozens of knights fled away from the other side of the forest, pushing their horses as best they could as they disappeared into the depths of the night.
A short while later, Richard was stood in the middle of the forest sweeping his eyes across the battlefield. The broodmother’s drones were cleaning up the battlefield, carrying away the injured on their side and finishing off the enemies that weren’t yet dead. The imperial cavalrymen had been massacred; with the aid of powerful magic and divine spells, only a dozen or so humanoid had died to eliminate almost all of the enemies.
However, the victory did not bring any happiness to Richard’s face. On the contrary, his expression only grew more gloomy. Such tenaciousness in battle, such power on the brink of death… These cavalrymen had left a deep impression on his mind. It seemed like all of the troops Salwyn brought along were elites. Things did not seem optimistic.
He suddenly pulled Gangdor to the side, softly whispering some instructions to him. Gangdor thus gathered all of Richard’s followers along with Shea, leaving the forest. Richard then sent down an order, causing the humanoids and throwers to put aside their work and pounce towards the dead horses. Silently, they shared a meal; the only sound breaking the quiet was the rustle of chewing.
The aura of the drones quickly grew powerful once more. As long as these units had sufficient food, they would restore themselves just as quickly as a healing spell would. This scene naturally couldn’t be shown to outsiders.
By the time Richard returned to Bluewater, it was already past midnight. The fires blazing all over the city had been extinguished, the soldiers who had fought all day in a deep sleep. They needed the rest; tomorrow’s battle would only be more horrifying. Unlike them, the residents and slaves of the city were busy mending the city wall.
Richard immediately gathered all his followers and the nobles upon his return, including important figures like the priests of the three goddesses. Once everyone was present, he said with a deep voice, “Even though we repelled the Iron Triangle Empire today, without any changes tomorrow’s battle will be a certain loss!”
His words sent all the nobles into dismay, everyone turning a deathly pale. All of them had participated in the first excursion of the Bloodstained Highway project, so by now they had an almost blind faith in Richard. If he said their loss was certain, then it was.
“Do we have no choice but to flee?” one of them asked hesitantly. The city still had a large number of soldiers to resist the invaders with. Moreover, Salwyn had brought along a large cavalry. If they abandoned the city to flee, it would certainly be a tragedy. In all likelihood, only a small number of them would be able to escape back to the Sequoia Kingdom.
In a world where military might was revered, many nobles would choose honour over life. They would rather die on the battlefield than abandon their soldiers without even fighting.
Richard took in all the reactions and spoke up, “We actually have a way of reversing the numerical disadvantage.”
“Impossible!” a noble shouted, “Salwyn brought 30,000 men, but we don’t have that number even if you add everyone in the city together!”
Richard glanced at him and said profoundly, “No, all added up there are 60,000 here.”
“You’re saying…” the man cried out, his eyes widening.
“Arm the slaves!” Richard said resolutely.
The nobles glanced at each other, hesitating. Armed slaves were something they hadn’t even dared to think about. Every leader spent an enormous amount of time considering how to prevent slaves from rebelling. Richard wanted to arm the slaves in the middle of a war?
One of them finally laughed bitterly, “Sir Richard, I fear those slaves will point the weapons at us first.”
“It’s the only way,” Richard replied, “Moreover, I’m still decently confident.”
An aged noble had worry etched into his brows, “My Lord, you would be setting a dangerous precedent.”
Richard’s eyebrows locked together, but he still maintained his firm stance, “I’ve already decided. Olar!”
The bard stepped out in response.
“Go, gather my desert warriors and barbarian soldiers, along with all the able-bodied slaves. Bring them all to the central plaza.”
Olar immediately hurried away to carry out his orders. In the meanwhile, Richard had Gangdor and Kellac prepare weapons and food.
An hour later, an entire 20,000 slaves were brought to the square. Their expressions were blank, seemingly unclear about the situation.
The slaves came from a mix of races, but most of them were the desert people aboriginal to the Bloodstained Lands. Richard’s own cavalry was left with only a thousand desert warriors after the battle, but they arranged themselves in an orderly formation and stood in front of him. Having been his subordinates for a long time, even the most brutish desert warriors had turned into disciplined elites.
Richard walked to the front of the desert warriors and barbarians, suddenly barking out a command, “Those of you who were originally slaves, raise your hand!”
The soldiers were very doubtful, but following his commands had already been ingrained into their very being. A sea of arms immediately shot up.
All the nobles behind Richard were shocked. They could never have expected that Richard’s intimidating soldiers were almost all once slaves!
Richard nodded in satisfaction before roaring once more, “Those who have already obtained your freedom, raise your hands!”
The sea of arms went up once more. Outside of a minority that had only recently joined him, these soldiers had followed Richard for a long time and accumulated enough merits to become full soldiers.
Richard then pointed at a corner of the plaza, towards a pile of swords, axes, and other weapons. “There lie the most fundamental tools to become a soldier— weapons!” His finger then moved towards the slaves gathered in the plaza, “And there are people of the same status as your former selves!”
The desert warriors and barbarians looked at the weapons and then at those who were still slaves. A thread of understanding began to rise within the army, excitement starting to show on their faces.
Richard suddenly raised his voice, “NOW GO! Go, take these weapons and give them to your compatriots. Go, tell them how to become soldiers! As long as they can achieve what you have, they can become my soldiers!”
The plaza immediately went silent. However, one barbarian suddenly rushed out of the formation to the weapon pile. He picked up more than a dozen heavy battle-axes, walking towards the barbarians amongst the slaves. He went to each one, shoving an axe into their hand and whispering something into their ears. He finally patted their chests before moving onto the next.
A group of desert warriors soon sped out as well, taking the bundled weapons and charging towards their people. They shoved the swords into their hands, howling in their native tongue.
The plaza gradually grew chaotic as more and more slaves obtained weapons. The expressions of the nobles started to look very disturbed, only Richard seemingly maintaining his calm as he quietly watched the situation develop.
Eventually, most of the slaves had weapons in their hands. The atmosphere was starting to grow stifling.
An aged barbarian soldier suddenly rushed out of the formation once more, shouting at the barbarians in the group of slaves. The barbarians hesitated, but eventually they started walking to the right side of the plaza. More and more started to follow, until eventually every single one was gathered together in an expression of their willingness to fight for Richard.
The desert people went into an uproar as well, the slaves gradually joining the barbarians. It wasn’t long before almost every slave in the plaza was on the right.
A smile finally crept up Richard’s face. He turned around towards the nobles, “It seems like His Highness Salwyn will meet with a big surprise tomorrow!”
The nobles nodded one after the other, finally heaving a sigh of relief. Finally at ease, they realised they had all broken out into cold sweat. Of course, they didn’t know that under his robes Richard himself was drenched.
When the sun rose the next day, the reorganised imperial army appeared outside Bluewater once more. It didn’t take much effort for them to make their way back into the city. There was nothing much left to burn anymore, but magical flames still soared into the sky.
Stood on his carriage, Salwyn looked coldly at the imperial soldiers making their way into the city. However, this chaotic oasis was like a bottomless swamp; no matter how many soldiers were thrown in, they would all sink. Sounds of fighting echoed from dawn to noon, more and more injured soldiers being carried out from the city. However, there wasn’t the slightest sign of Bluewater actually falling. Worse yet, the defenders didn’t seem to have the slightest intention of fleeing.
The imperial soldiers were already spread all the way throughout Bluewater, fighting everywhere. In such a chaotic situation, the Prince had already lost all power to command them; he could only hope his soldiers had been trained well enough.
Within the chaotic city, a veteran of the imperial army was searching through the streets when he suddenly heard movements in a house beside him. He immediately kicked down the door and rushed in, but that was a decision he came to regret in the next instant. Inside was a noble dressed in foppish clothes, but guarding him were three others. Just by sight, one could tell these bodyguards were not to be trifled with.
“This guy is mine! You lot aren’t allowed to interfere!” the young noble pulled out his sword, pointing it to the front. His left hand held his waist, adopting a fencing stance.
The veteran stared blankly for a moment, but then he flashed a hideous grin. He raised his sword that was still dripping with blood, smiling in satisfaction as the plump young noble’s face paled in an instant.
This was Viscount Zim. He hadn’t left as per Richard’s instructions, instead hiding himself within the city. His wish of fighting had finally been fulfilled, but at the sight of the ferocious soldier both of his legs went soft. He started wanting to look for a basement or attic to hide in like the previous day.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: XE
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA