The War Has Begun
Bevry and Grasberg turned grim. Richard would definitely achieve victory against the allied army from the Sequoia Kingdom, but it wasn’t to the point of wiping all of them out. Of course, the invaders were just as vicious as expected. If they didn’t have such strength, the gods wouldn’t have sent down combined oracles.
Seeing the two dukes’ expressions, Richard followed up, “Now we have an army of over 50,000 while the opponent has less than a third of that number.” He then reached out and pointed under his feet, showing a look of great confidence, “That’s why I’m sure I’ll send them back home here.”
Duke Grasberg visibly relaxed, “There might be no need for an avatar this time, then.”
“Indeed,” the Direwolf Duke nodded as well.
It took a great price for a god to send down an avatar. A massive amount of faith would be required for the descent, sacrificing innumerable worshippers, but that wasn’t even the worst part. A large amount of energy would descend on the region where the avatar was summoned, leaving behind side-effects that lasted anywhere from a few years to multiple decades like strange weather and abnormal birth rates. If the avatar descended upon a region where the people prayed to their ancestors, the connection between the ancestral spirits and their descendants would be weakened. The gods regularly exploited this weakening and chose to descend near powerful ancestor worshippers whenever they were required to.
The worst part of it all was the fact that these avatars weren’t necessarily stronger than legendary beings.
Duke Grasberg made a quick calculation of the time, “We only have five days at most before the invaders reach us.”
However, Richard shook his head, “No, the war’s already here. It started tonight.”
Numerous tents had been set up on a plain a few hundred kilometres away. The stench of blood still wafted over from the battlefield nearby, the screams of the vultures circling above able to leave anyone distraught. Raymond was walking through the camp as always, occasionally greeting some of the soldiers whose names he had memorised in the past week.
The wind was rather cold this night, a particularly chilly breeze forcing him to pull his cloak tighter into himself. He could feel his body weakening as the days passed, a fire in his chest burning his life away.
He finally came up to a large tent from which several miserable cries kept ringing out. Those within could hopefully be saved, able to continue the fight. Those who were too grievously injured had already been euthanised. Even those who had non-fatal injuries that rendered them unable to fight had been abandoned, forced to find a place for themselves in this unknown world.
If only we had priests… Even a weaker cleric would work! This one thought engulfed him as he walked around. This was an unsolvable problem he had struggled with many times, but he could never bring himself to ignore it. If they had priests on their side, even the thousands of grievously injured soldiers would have been able to stand up once more and wield their swords and shields.
He comforted an injured soldier who was awaiting treatment before walking out of the tent, letting the chilly winds ease his throbbing brain. He then shook his head repeatedly, as though trying to dispel the miserable cries behind him from his ears.
The sound of hooves suddenly sounded as a general approached him, jumping off his horse and bowing, “Lord Raymond, the slaves have already been checked. There are a total of 14,000, of which 2,000 are injured.”
Raymond felt himself shudder inside. Here it was again.
And yet, he looked calm as always as he reached for a map of Faelor. Looking at the terrain of their next march, he glanced back at this general from his own family that had followed him for many years. They had been through thick and thin, the jubilation of amazing victories tempered by points of near complete despair. The man had never lost faith in him, and he knew that any orders he gave would be executed to near perfection.
The general looked steadfast as always, but the fatigue could not be hidden from his brow. He hadn’t even found the time to wipe away all the blood and sweat on his face.
Raymond sighed silently. If he wanted to bring these loyal soldiers of his out alive, there was no room for benevolence. He had already seen far too much blood in planar war, but the cruelty in this campaign into Faelor had far exceeded his imagination, More than half of his army had been killed in two large battles, a full third of which dead or abandoned because of a lack of clerics.
He suddenly matched this loyal man’s gaze, “We can’t take care of the slaves. Deal with them like we did yesterday.”
“... Alright, you needn’t worry.” These words were dull and lifeless. The general had plentiful experience in planar war, but there was still some unwillingness in his heart. What they had done yesterday was killing all the slaves. Raymond had decided upon this the moment he learnt how far they were from the Lighthouse of Time, the same moment giving them the decision to abandon the injured who could not fight to press on at full speed.
These were orders that had been sent down in front of everyone. While all of Raymond’s generals knew that there was no turning back, that victory was only certain once they reached the portal, anyone would begin to doubt a man who dared to abandon his own soldiers.
The general quickly left, and miserable cries suddenly rang through the night sky. The smell of blood grew increasingly strong, attracting a large number of vultures that spiralled lower and lower without regard for the tents nearby. Even when the archers shot down a few, they only flew a little higher with no intent to leave.
Raymond returned to his tent, laying down to rest. The next day would be a full march with three to five small battles in between. Without enough rest, he would not be able to hold on.
A few bats lingered high in the skies, their blood-red eyes shining with a sharp light. Dozens of kilometres away, a cloned brain hung in the air and transmitted all of the images they saw to Richard who was far away.
Richard headed back to his own tent in the stronghold, watching as the Norlanders slowly tired themselves out. After fighting two huge battles over as many days, even the most elite soldiers would be exhausted.
Richard was completely calm as slight flapping rang out from a stone forest a dozen kilometres away. Winged serpents flew out from within one after the other and shot straight into the sky, heading towards the Norlanders’ camp.
These serpents were mainly blue or dark green in colour. Given their height and the steady glide, their approach was almost completely silent. The sound of their flaps was masked by the circling vultures that had yet to disperse, so the scouts who were focused on terrestrial enemies didn’t recognise the danger approaching them at all.
The serpents began to fan out, spreading across the skies above the camp as they spat out large bundles of poisonous mist. The damp toxins slowly fell to the ground below, dispersing into the air.
It was only after more than a hundred winged serpents lobbed the poison that a sentinel looked up by coincidence. He suddenly made a sound of surprise, pointing upwards, “Something’s up there!”
His aged companion looked up nonchalantly, “Just some beasts, probably pulled by the stench of blood. What are you doing letting your eyes wander, you should be looking out not up!”
“But they seem to be spitting something out,” the young guard argued.
“Then your eyes are broken!” The old sentinel felt like his ego had been challenged. Based on his experience, anything that dared circle the skies above the barracks was a brainless animal. With the danger of one single mage spell dropping everything in the sky, no intelligent enemy would approach them from above. He was already annoyed by the endless vultures that refused to disperse.
The argument alarmed the captain on duty, who walked over and said coldly, “What are you arguing about? Don’t you have any discipline?”
“Captain, look there!” the young guard pointed up.
The captain followed the direction of the finger, his expression changing immediately, “Winged snakes! Damn it, those are magic beasts. Wait, it looks like they’re spitting out poison! SOUND THE ALARM!”
A loud alarm bell broke the silence of the night, sending the camp into chaos. The soldiers who had been sleeping in their armour charged out of their tents, enchanted arrows zipping into the sky to knock down a dozen winged serpents in just a few moments.
But many of the snakes had already spat out all their poison by this point, beginning to disperse as per Richard’s orders. The toxic mist had slowly reached the ground.
Some of the soldiers began to feel their vision blur, breathing becoming more laboured as the strength drained from their bodies. Some had difficulty holding onto their weapons, others just collapsing immediately. The worst danger was to those already injured. The mist there was so concentrated one could see a greenish-blue layer of fog for dozens of metres.
A grand mage that had just darted out of his tent was alarmed by the situation, immediately using up two vitality spell scrolls to cast a dozen gale spells. Only then did the rest of the mist that was floating down get blown away.
However, many of the soldiers were already suffering. He had to rise into the skies and cast a purifying spell, loudly ordering everyone who could hear to bring the antidotes they had out of storage.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Ying
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA