Book 3, Chapter 102

Persistence And Hope

An incomparably miserable scream rang out not far from Zim, clearly a cry of death. The shout was the last push to the Viscount’s frayed nerves; his legs completely gave way, unable to support his body as he crumpled to the ground. The personal guards immediately raised their spears to protect him, but the soldier opposite smirked and spit at the ground.

For some reason, the veteran’s sneer seemed incomparably offensive in Zim’s eyes. A scene from the previous night appeared before his eyes once more, one of a heavily wounded Richard walking past him as if nothing was wrong to attack the much-stronger imperial army in the night. The two images intertwined like fire, burning into his brain!

Zim’s vision turned red. He let out a bestial roar, erupting with unknown strength as he pushed aside his guards and charged towards the soldier nearby. *Schlick!* The rapier that had once been a mere decoration shone like a rainbow, burying itself into the veteran’s heart.

The man’s body slowly fell to the floor, face frozen in a state of shock. Zim stared blankly at his opponent, not understanding what had happened for a moment. Only when his guards screamed out about an injury did he feel a scorching pain in his shoulder, looking down to find a ten-centimetre gash that was gushing blood.

Richard’s image came to his mind again, an image of the open wound on the mage’s chest. The fat youth swallowed down the miserable scream that was already in his throat, taking off his ripped shirt and throwing it on the floor. He exposed his entire upper body to the stunned guards, arrogantly sitting on a stool and shouting at them, “What are you lot panicking for? Come, wrap it up for me! The war isn’t over yet!”

Zim suddenly felt like he had a bit of Richard’s aura. It was just that the mage revealed blocks of sharp, defined muscles, while his own body was dazzlingly pale and delicate. He only had curves, no edges.

The guards quickly wrapped up the Viscount’s wounds. Disregarding their dissuasion, Zim took his rapier and left the building for the streets. Since he had already begun, the fellow could not be stopped; by the time night fell, four men had fallen to his sword.

…… 

In another corner of the city, Richard carried the Twin of Destiny in his left hand and Extinction in his right. A group of humanoid drones followed him as he ferociously passed through two alleys to block off the escape of hundreds of imperial footsoldiers.

Dozens of footsoldiers rushed him the moment he left the alley, but he didn’t so much as speak a word. The tip of Extinction briefly touched the ground as he started moving faster and faster, eventually charging into the enemy head-on!

A group of only thirty humanoids were behind him. They did not know fear; regardless of whether the enemy numbered in the hundreds or the thousands, they would charge in without hesitation.

Even as Richard was running into the footsoldiers, hundreds of slaves suddenly emerged from another alley. They had no equipment outside of the swords in their hands, but they still charged up against the armed soldiers like madmen. They cared not for the difference in power between the two sides, mobbing the enemy as they tried to pierce the enemy with their blades. Howls resounded throughout the street.

Only a dozen of the footsoldiers eventually broke through the barricade, diving into another small alley as over a hundred slaves gave chase. In the meanwhile, those who managed to kill their enemies cut off the ears of their targets and hung them on their waists as spoils of war.

Richard let out a long sigh, an indescribable exhaustion bubbling up from various parts of his body that made him want to just collapse and find someplace to get some sleep. His head felt like it was being torn apart; he had been commanding dozens of men at a time all this while, even tasking his second mind to the battle until he was almost completely spent. The entire city was a battlefield, with both sides mixing together everywhere. One did not know whether the next corner held an ally or an enemy.

And yet, despite the difficulty, his followers and soldiers were spreading and converging constantly. They were the hardest of teeth, constantly grinding away at the flesh and blood of the enemy.

His mana pool had already dried up, all scrolls used; even his stamina was exhausted. He moved into a broken-down house by the road and sat down against the wall, gasping for breath like a fish on land. The humanoid warriors had already formed up and left for the next battlefield. 

A bird’s eye view would show the humanoids gathering towards a small square where hundreds of imperial soldiers were guarding a great mage. The mage was constantly chanting spells and waving his beautiful staff around, shooting fireballs into the surrounding buildings one by one. The screams that sounded from time to time were proof enough of the terrifying power of his magic.

Four separate teams, more than a hundred humanoids in total, were charging towards the square from all sides. Behind a small two-storey building, more than twenty throwers had gathered. The throwers had a myriad of weapons in their hands, hatchets and bone blades long since exhausted.

Richard breathed a sigh of relief, continuing to recuperate. He did not need to look to know that the great mage was finished. Phaser was hiding in a ruined building less than twenty metres away.

A rush of footsteps sounded outside the house and a person stuck their head in to take a look. He then cried in surprise and rushed into the room, looking at the Twin of Destiny in Richard’s hands with pleasant surprise. This was a level 7 veteran, likely a low-ranking officer in Salwyn’s army. He looked at Richard and flashed a sardonic smile, “So it’s a mage! I’ll get a lot of credit for killing you!”

Richard stood up without a sound, staff in his left hand and sword in the right. However, that only caused the soldier to heave a sigh of relief; the mage was clearly dried up. One could clearly tell that the youth was a rookie at close combat, he actually held a staff and sword at the same time! The veteran could easily fight a dozen mages without mana.

Richard suddenly snarled, taking a few quick steps before bringing Extinction down on the man’s head. The soldier sneered, his blade firmly meeting Richard’s head on. Extinction flew out upon contact, embedding itself into the roof.

The officer had overused his strength and couldn’t stop himself from taking a large step forward. Richard stepped forward at the same time, brushing past him. A muffled sound rang out as the Twin of Destiny ruthlessly smashed into the back of the man’s head, the incomparably delicate-looking fallen angel wing covered in blood and brain.

“Bah, a novice! So easy to deceive!” Pah! A rookie! So easy to deceive.” Richard didn’t even look at the man, hastily wiping the staff’s head with his shirt to clean the gore off it.

“Sorry, pal!” he said apologetically. This was not the first time the legendary staff had been subject to this kind of treatment.

……

When night finally fell, the imperial soldiers retreated from Bluewater like a tide. It was impossible to find an undamaged building in the entire city, smoke and fire everywhere. Looking on from afar, the Lighthouse of Time was now incredibly eye-catching. Not long ago, there had been many buildings of a similar size to this building that looked like a watchtower, but the storm of war had completely ruined Bluewater. The city walls were collapsed in multiple places, long since a mere decoration. It was reasonable to say that the city had no life anymore, but now it seemed like there were walls and fortresses everywhere. Behind every broken wall, in every abandoned house were an unknown number of enemies lying in wait.

Salwyn watched the oasis city from afar, his brows locked together as though they could never be separated. He had lost close to 4,000 soldiers once more, and amongst his six great mages two had died in battle. Battles in the streets would consign mages to their graves; he did not expect the remaining three would willingly enter the fray anymore.

Judging by the reports of each of his generals, Salwyn knew that Richard had lost over half his troops. His advantage should have grown large and larger, leaving the frontier knight unable to defend. And yet, he had pulled off the miracle. The number of enemies within Bluewater had only seemed to grow, making it impossible to kill them all.

Bluewater only had 20,000 residents in total. Adding on Richard’s troops, that was still only 30,000. How could they resist for so long?

“Could it be…” A shadow flitted across Salwyn’s face. He had thought of the slaves as well.

Still, that did not resolve all his doubts. Everyone knew how weak slave soldiers were. A thousand imperial soldiers could easily defeat ten times their number in slaves. Thus, slave soldiers were only used for transport and construction; even in the worst case, they were only used as cannon fodder.

The only good news was that Richard’s losses today were far worse than his own.

But what about tomorrow?

Salwyn suddenly wavered. He did not know if he could defeat Richard’s troops the next day. There were many instances today where it clearly seemed like the enemy would collapse, but they had pulled out miracles to persist. He wanted to catch a few of Richard’s soldiers and open up their heads, taking a look to see if they were homunculi that did not know life from death, puppets that did not understand fear.

Only such warriors could last this long, right?

A strand of unease quietly rose in Salwyn’s heart. Time was a huge factor here; there were many nobles of the Sequoia Kingdom within the city, and most frightening of all was someone named Zim. An incompetent fat Viscount, but the youth was incredibly close to Duke Grasberg. He was almost sure reinforcements were on their way.

Back in the city, Richard’s followers were gathered together once more, listening to Richard describe their tactics for the next day. In addition to his followers were the high-ranking nobles and the priests of the three goddesses. The room reeked of blood and sweat, and everyone looked battered and exhausted. Even the priests’ beautiful robes were covered in dirt and bloodstains. Almost everyone was injured, clearly showing the hardships of the day’s battle. However, there was no despair and fear to be seen in their eyes that were burning with valiance.

These eyes burned with persistence and hope.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Pei

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA