Book 4, Chapter 166

Perfecting Tactics

The situation quickly changed. Goliath’s rune knights started to die one after the other with seemingly no way back, causing the man’s shirt to be soaked with sweat. He bellowed and tore the garment off with his energy, but that did nothing to quell his rage. Although he possessed tyrannical strength, he could only look on helplessly from the side as his knights were sent to the ground repeatedly because of his test. Everyone had sustained dozens of wounds on their bodies, and if this went on it wouldn’t be long before they were completely wiped out.

The saint serving the Earl finally lost his calm, aura bursting forth as he charged towards the battlefield. However, Goliath roared out for him to stop. Although resentful, he had to adhere to his lord’s promise and retreated.

Of course, his participation would have changed nothing. All thirteen of Gaton’s knights were known for being extraordinary at their level, and the Dark Priest Asiris was especially famous for his combat ability. On top of that, the mobilisation of powerful priestesses like Flowsand and Nyra would become a crushing weight. As for a full assault with the entire army, Richard’s rune knights hadn’t even been mobilised yet!

Just as Goliath shut his eyes in anguish, starting to accept the fate of his rune knights being wiped out, the clashes faded away from the battlefield. Richard’s orders grew louder as well, “Team 1 withdraw. Teams 2 and 3, withdraw. Team 4, withdraw….”

Goliath opened his eyes wide in shock as he saw the ravenous elite shadowspear knights retreating like the falling tide. The terrifying beasts slowly moved away from the thirty rune knights still standing. The battle had ended with twenty rune knights being exchanged for forty shadowspear knights, with most of the remaining rune knights wounded as well.

A calm voice rang in the air, “With all due respect, Earl Goliath, I think there’s no need to continue fighting. The outcome of the battle should be clear.”

“Indeed, there is no need to continue. You win… Richard.” Goliath’s voice sounded worn out, as though he had aged ten years in only a moment.

Richard nodded and made a gesture, sending Io and Nyra to the battlefield to try and rescue some of the rune knights that had already collapsed. The shadowspear knights got off their horses and lined up before Flowsand, awaiting her healing. All of these elites had the regeneration boost, so only a few of them wouldn’t return to maximum ability after she was done with them.

Seeing some of the rune knights groan and get up as Io and Nyra passed by them, Goliath’s creased brows relaxed a little. However, they immediately locked together again as he witnessed an unforgettable scene. Nyra stood before a rune knight that had died on his feet leaning against his sword, uttering a soft incantation as her eyes swirled grey. A murky gold beam of light fell from the sky, landing perfectly on the knight’s head and covering him in a thick layer of the very same grey. Countless wounds started closing up automatically, and moments later the frozen chest began to heave once more as the man slowly opened his eyes.

”Heni!” Goliath rushed forward in a mix of shock and delight, starting to look over the knight repeatedly. The Resurrection spell! He hadn’t expected to see it on this battlefield at all!

“I… My Lord… I’m not dead?” The middle-aged knight lowered his head, looking over his own body with disbelief. Outside of an extreme feeling of weakness and ash-grey skin, he wasn’t feeling uncomfortable at all. He raised his hand and placed it against his chest, feeling his beating heart to ascertain that he hadn’t become undead.

Although Heni had no background to speak of, he was a talented and diligent man who had also been a childhood friend of Goliath’s. As someone who came from a normal noble family with numerous children, Goliath greatly valued this friend who had been with him the longest of anyone in his life. Their comradery had lasted many decades now, and the man had eventually become the leader of Goliath’s rune knights. Although the resurrection came at the price of a drop in level, Goliath was still ecstatic about it.

“No, Heni, you were revived by this priestess… Priestess…” Goliath pointed to Nyra.

“My name is Nyra. Forgive me, my powers are depleted. This is the best I can do.”

“Thank you, Priestess!” Heni went down on one knee, “I will never forget this grace!”

“I am only following Sir Richard’s wishes. You don’t have to thank me.” Nyra smiled faintly before returning to Richard’s troops.

Io glared harshly at her, countless curses streaming through his mind. How was that heartless woman even smiling? Just how crafty was she? The most annoying thing was that Nyra’s words had clearly pleased Richard. Even with his thick head, the battle priest now knew that helping Richard was an easy way to please Flowsand and convince her to boost his level. Battle priests were nothing without level, but still he couldn’t bring himself to do it. His pride would not allow him to flatter Richard in public no matter what.

A small yet intense battle had thus come to an end. Earl Goliath shot a meaningful glance at the cold and ruthless shadowspear knights before leaving quietly. In the end, he had lost sixteen rune knights and took down a little under fifty shadowspear knights.

The last obstacle en route to Azan was thus eliminated. Now, nobody could stop the iron hooves of Richard’s knights from stepping onto the grounds of Blackrose Castle.

It was actually quite energy-consuming for Richard to command a hundred nodes in realtime. Feeling exhausted, he took over the camp that Goliath had left behind for a night’s rest.

In a rare event for his busy schedule, Richard spent most of the night star-gazing. The dark sky was like a boundless black blanket that was dotted with gem-like stars. Nobody knew what the stars were, even today. Divine kingdoms, reflections of other planes, or just gems that the Eternal Dragon had hung upon the crystal sphere of Norland… There were many hypotheses, but nobody had actually found a proper answer to it.

Not even legendary mages could explain it. Even if these mages could traverse the various planes and understood the laws of the world, the end of Norland’s sky was still a mystery. There was once a legendary mage who tried to fly towards the night’s stars. Nobody knew how long the man had flown, but he didn’t manage to even approach a single star. Eventually, he had been drowned in a strange storm of dazzling light that almost burnt him to a crisp without warning, forcing him to use the last dregs of his energy to escape. He had returned to Norland a dying man, only managing to recount his experience before he died.

With even a legendary mage being unable to find out what the stars in the sky actually were, nobody tried to do such a foolish thing again.

He replayed every moment of the battle in his mind as he gazed at the stars. This fight had confirmed his conjecture that the best use of the broodmother’s elites was in taking on enemy rune knights in a war of attrition. The drones never had issues with morale, not caring for even the most grievous wounds so long as he ordered them to fight. On the contrary, rune knights were still human; they could feel pain, they could feel fear. If the circumstances were bad enough, if the battle drew on to a point where the robotic resolve of the drones inspired terror in them, they would be worn away.

He had considered the traditional strategy of pitting rune knights against rune knights. The Savage sets were extremely useful in such a battle— Savage Barrier being about a third more valuable for its defensive capabilities with the cost fated to rise further— but he didn’t have as much control over rune knights as he did over the drones. This was especially true for the more powerful ones, which tended to act more upon their instinct and experience. Ideally a 1:1 ratio of Savage Barrier and Savage Strike would be perfect— one knight could block two enemies with the barrier while the other took care of one with the strike— but the problem of ensuring proper coordination had caused him to abandon the idea.

The patrol of the Sequoia Kingdom had showcased just how formidable a small army of absolute elites could be, and this battle on the way to Blackrose helped him perfect his tactics.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Hestia

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA