Book 6, Chapter 119

Cannon Fodder

A forest elf hefted up an enormous bow, silently casting a spell before shooting at one of the rune knights. The arrow was bathed in green light as it raced towards its target, the spell giving it tracking capabilities and doubling its might. Just having thrown a javelin, the knight had no time to dodge.

The distant elf heaved a sigh of relief, her entire body going limp as she staggered back towards a tree. This one shot required almost all of her energy, and it would be ten minutes before she could fight again. Even then, she could only fire one more such shot in the day.

Just before retreating to rest, the elf glanced at her prey in the hopes of imprinting his image in her memory. This was a habit of hers when hunting powerful beasts, a sort of remembrance for those she had felled. However, the sight left her eyes wide open, and she even forgot to retreat.

The arrow did hit the knight square in the chest, but even buried in the breastplate a vast majority of the shaft was still exposed. Less than ten centimetres of the tip were actually buried in, and counting the thickness of the armour this meant the attack hadn’t even reached the ribs. With the strength the rune knights had shown just now, this was only an average injury at best, barely dropping the enemy’s battle ability.

But this was an arrow that condensed all of her strength! The arrow’s power was certainly less than that of a saint hunter, but it was still strong enough to break the bark armour of an actual treant. As for the animated trees they were using here that barely passed as such, this arrow could go right through them.

How could the invaders be tougher than ancient treants? To the forest elves, real treants were mobile fortresses that were incomparably strong. The older ones were treated as absolute powerhouses, and their bark was considered equivalent to a wall. Even ordinary treants were stronger than most war beasts clad in heavy armour.

What the elf couldn’t understand was that rune knights were the culmination of Norland’s war prowess, and that Richard’s rune knights were even better equipped than most of their contemporaries. For this local who didn’t even understand the concept of planar war, heavy armour was a distant myth.

However, she didn’t have much time to recoil in horror. The rune knights had already prepared their charge, and even though the alliance started to retreat under the cover of the baby treants the gallop reached them in no time. The front row raised their halberds and swept out, blades of light flying a dozen metres ahead before dissipating. The last of the treants were immediately wiped out.

This was Savage Strike, the set ability that was designed purely for a charge! The rune knights continued to rush forward, some throwing their javelins from behind to kill off a few of the hunters. Dozens were killed in one volley, but the remaining elves took the opportunity to flee into the woods.

Alice’s expression was frosty, but just as she was about to command the rune knights to pursue Richard finally shouted himself, “Return!”

The moment they heard the command, the rune knights immediately stopped their charge and arced around, returning to the tree of life. Back in the forest, a bunch of hunters looked on in confusion as their prey fell back. These hunters weren’t holding their standard longbows but instead extra-long javelins that had each been blessed by the druids and poisoned for good measure. The ambush should have decimated the troop.

Alice looked at Richard in confusion. In her opinion, the woods posed no problems to either Richard’s Savage Knights or the Rose Knights; both types had been designed with enhanced mobility in mind. The attempted volley proved that the elven attack posed a limited threat, so it only made sense to chase after victory.

However, Richard just pointed at the sky up above, “It’s still dark.”

Alice looked up and frowned and the abnormal darkness up above, but with this being her first time in the Forest Plane she did not understand what it meant. However, Richard continued to explain, “That’s the will of the forest suppressing us. If we fight in this environment, we’re sure to lose.”

“It’s that bad?” Alice furrowed her eyebrows. As a quintessential Archeron, she was never one to let enemies go.

“With the current suppression, a full blow might deal fatal damage to our knights.”

This time, Alice gasped. The ability to deal fatal damage to a rune knight was a great threat that went far beyond a secondary plane. How could the small number of elves here possess such might?

Richard read her thoughts waving at the forest around them, “The true master of this plane isn’t the elves or the treants, it’s that.”

……

With the rune knights back under the tree of life, the will of the forest was rendered near-useless. Hundreds of hunters had been either injured or killed in the two attempts at assault; this was the equivalent of an average tribe being destroyed. And with all 300-odd rune knights still alive, there seemed to be no chance of breaching the defence anytime soon either. 

The leaders of the alliance had met once more at the altar, most silent in obvious depression. One of them eventually spoke up, “The invader has a powerful force; if not for the Will of the Forest, we would likely suffer even greater casualties.”

“What is the point of those words?!” another elder raged.

“What do you mean?”

“The hunters of my tribe have suffered more than fifty casualties! What happened to your reinforcements?”

The first elder sighed, “We were trying to ambush them in the range of the Will.”

Wanted to? Or perhaps you were just cowards!”

The Duskword grand elder frowned, “Enough! It is time to plan the destruction of the Evernight Tribe, not to pass blame!”

When the Grand Elder’s voice rang out, the two other elders went silent. They continued to watch the repeated images of the battle, pausing again and again on the javelins of the rune knights. Those weapons had suffocating power, and most had been picked up as the rune knights fell back towards the tree of life. Even the arrogant young Windleaf was surprisingly quiet, his arrogance all but gone; he knew very well that even ten of those javelins would have forced him to flee.

The Duskword elder turned to the black-robed man and asked respectfully, “What should we do now?”

The mysterious man chuckled in a jarring voice, “Prepare a group of soldiers who are ready to give up their lives, and have them carry the will of my Lord. It will give you powerful warriors who can match the opponents.”

The Grand Elder’s face blanched, “How could we do that? Those warriors will become mindless bodies or burn the rest of their lives out in battle!”

The black-robed man sneered, “Your heart aches for your people? Fool, what sort of enemy do you think you face? That is the main force of war in a primary plane, do you think your pathetic will of the forest can defeat them? The only way to deal with such an enemy is blood for blood! Those warriors would have fought to death regardless, what does it matter if they are sacrificed to my Lord?”

The Duskword elder’s expression was filled with struggle upon hearing this, but the man made no further attempt to persuade him. Eventually, the Grand Elder spoke up, “If we defeat the Evernight Tribe, how far can our people evolve?”

The black robe pointed a finger at the image of the rune knights on the altar, “At least their equal.”

The Grand Elder’s face twitched, his breathing now rough.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: OMA

Edited By: Theo