Book 6, Chapter 133

What Is War(2)

The moment Noelene started chanting her counter-curses, every other voice in the forest was drowned out. The low growls of the mutants, the clear whistles of the remaining sane elves, the clanging of steel from Richard’s army… it was all replaced by a solemn voice that summoned forth a sphere of pale gold. For a short period of time, the will of the forest would be halved within range.

The spell only lasted an hour, but the way Richard saw it an hour was far more than he needed to take care of this enemy. Looking at his once-predators, he smiled and motioned for his army to charge, the current of steel gushing past him to envelop the enemy completely.

Both sides were about equal in number, and the mutants were actually higher in level than most of Richard’s soldiers. However, on the back of their equipment alone Richard’s troops could fight back against this disadvantage without issue. Alongside the additional help of the unicorn and the various buffs from the clerics, the knights could decimate any single opponent.

Individual might wasn’t even the biggest advantage. Richard’s forces were a full army with discipline and order, while his opponents were a bunch of ferocious beasts. Without the will of the forest blocking his mental connections, he had returned to being an indomitable general who could never be beaten with equal numbers.

The rune knights led the charge, followed closely by the shadowspears, royal soldiers, and the elite Orleans warriors. They moved in perfect formation as they spread out like a flower in full bloom, seven petals drilling into the enemy mob and cutting it apart. More warriors and knights rushed in from behind, taking advantage of the gap and pushing it out further.

Forests were never suitable for larger battles, but with Richard’s intricate command the ancient trees only served as natural defences and obscurements that helped him manoeuvre his army. Small elite teams were rushing all over the battlefield to kill cluster after cluster of opponents, the mutants’ corrosive saliva rendered useless against the enchanted armour everyone wore.

……

A group of old elves was currently gathered around a magical screen, watching through the eyes of one of the so-called primogenitors of the new elven race who was silently observing the battle from atop a tree. Currently displayed was an image of a mutant biting into a shadowspear knight’s arm, losing several teeth only to leave a few tiny bite marks upon the vambrace. Realising the futility of it all, the creature switched tactics and hissed as it sprayed a large amount of foul liquid onto the knight’s breastplate. The knight sizzled with white froth, but another elite quickly rushed over and decapitated the creature in one swoop. Once the sizzling died down, there were only a few unremarkable dents on the knight’s armour; it would take a dozen such attacks to break through.

The black-robed man was absolutely silent, the elven elders looking at each other with unease. They had never seen such powerful armour before; in fact, they had never imagined war could be fought in such a fashion.A simple question now haunted them; who could even lead? The mutant elves didn’t understand complicated commands, only capable of learning their targets and hunting them down.

There was no suspense when soldiers fought beasts; the battle had been over the moment it commenced. However, the total number of casualties was still surprising; the elves had retreated after nearly half of their forces died, leaving behind four thousand corpses to Richard’s mere hundred. Most of those hundred casualties were even ordinary warriors; Richard’s elites were virtually unscathed.

……

After a quick cleaning of the battlefield, Richard buried his dead soldiers in the forest before delving deeper. The unicorn had fallen behind and left Noelene’s group to do all the work of restricting the forest’s will; it had moved to help the worker drones who had just entered from behind.

The drones worked fast, quickly forming a line of movement that shipped the corpses away. Only ten kilometres in the distance, the broodmother’s clone was devouring them one by one. She was sending a stream of messages to Richard over their mental connection— her analysis of the forest elves now exceeded 300% while that of the mutants had already reached 100. This number was continuing to rise.

Having the broodmother continue eating, Richard reorganised his formation and moved on. He was ready to teach the elves another lesson; they would learn what true war was like. Day after day passed as his forces blazed through the forest, already used to the constant loud explosions and the sound of trees hitting the ground.

As his forces continued to create the road, Richard sensed some instability in the will of the forest and decided to head forward. Mobilising a portion of his rune knights and shadowspears alongside two hundred elites from Nyris and Agamemnon and leaving Alice in charge, he led a team of 500 into the depths.

With those of the Church present to combat the forest’s will and lacking any need to clear out trees, these troops moved forward at a frightening pace. In only a few hours they had covered hundreds of kilometres, meeting several treants and dozens of small detachments of elves that were killed without mercy. It was a one-sided massacre.

Even the oldest and most powerful of treants were nothing in the face of Richard, Nyris, Agamemnon, Waterflower, and the others. Only a dozen lucky elves managed to escape over all of the battles, and after clearing out the three hundred kilometre mark from his army Richard turned around and returned to camp.

……

The treant camp was deadly silent, but the black-robed man was unable to maintain his peace. The last projected image showed two ancient treants being surrounded by attackers, brought down without much of a fuss at all. They had been meant to lie in ambush, but even travelling in a straight line Richard had faced no issues with them at all. He had moved three units over to help right at the beginning, but all of them had been wiped out. Other squads scattered in fear, ending his plan even before it began.

The elven elders were all silent, not daring to speak. The deaths of the two saint-level treants had left them with a question they hadn’t considered before; with the will of the forest unable to help them, could the treants even take on Richard’s large army?

The mysterious man was thinking of the same question. After a long time, he decided to just shift all of his forces back into the camp and ambush Richard’s troops in one go.

……

The forest was still noisy over the next few days, Richard’s army continuing to travel forth as they decimated the foliage in their way. Countless ancient trees fell to the ground, the more valuable ones even harvested on the spot, and Richard could even sense that the torrential anger of the trees of life and world tree was now tempered by fear. Most of the fear came from the two trees of life closest to him, each less than a thousand kilometres away.

The treants camp migrated at a slow pace, but luckily Richard’s troops weren’t particularly fast either. There seemed to be no special change of plans from him after the first charge, so the treants managed to take root along Richard’s telegraphed path. The elves heaved a sigh of relief; these trees were half a fold more powerful after taking root.

“The war will end here!” The black-robed man finally broke his days-long silence, his sinister voice filled with confidence and determination. Everything was in place, and Richard would soon walk into the trap.

But would it really be that easy? The elders of the alliance couldn’t help but be doubtful; this was the largest war they had ever seen in their lives.

……

At the same time, Richard was speaking to Nyris, Agamemnon, and his generals in private, “The war’s done.”

No one knew what he was thinking, but when an enormous shadow darkened everything around them they looked up to see the enormous astral chrysalis floating around them. The stronger members of the group noticed the unicorn was standing atop it as well.

There was another piece of good news that resounded through the camp; with the will of the forest growing weak, Phaser, Tiramisu, and Mountainsea had found their way back.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA