Isabella had never experienced anything like this in her entire life.
In the blink of an eye, she had suddenly become the leader of a group of bandits that had been trying to violate her only moments ago.
What...... What did this mean?
But if she didn’t agree, then the other party wouldn’t spare her, let alone help her get revenge.
But if she agreed, then just how would she accomplish her revenge?
She stammered, “I...... I’ve never led anyone before.”
“You’re the heir of a large family, so you should have had plenty of subordinates under you in the past, right? Treat these bandits like your old servants. Get to know them first, and then assign them to perform various tasks. Reward the obedient ones and punish the disobedient ones. For instance, they should be punished for their wrongdoing today......”
As the black figure spoke, it gently waved its hand.
All of the bandits began to howl simultaneously. Obviously, he had dispelled the effects of the medicine, causing the curse to fill their bodies with pain.
However, this version of the curse did significantly less damage than the curse that had afflicted Laban. Their skin didn’t immediately melt away, but their blood did seep out and bead on the surface of their skin, causing their appearance to quickly become quite terrifying.
Isabella trembled as she yelled out, “That’s enough! They didn’t betray you — they just chose to be neutral!”
Even as she spoke those words, Isabella couldn’t believe that she had dared to speak against such a terrifying individual with such a defiant tone.
An instant later, however, the curse actually stopped.
The black figure said, “If you say it’s enough, then it’s enough.”
He turned to glance at the group of bandits. “Your punishment will stop here because of the goodwill of your new leader.”
Isabella let out a long sigh of relief. She was not an idiot, and she understood that the other party was helping her establish some goodwill and respect.
This would make it easier for her to do her work, even if she wasn’t quite clear on just what she needed to do.
Isabella took a deep breath and then said, “I need to know all of their names, abilities, strengths, and what they do on a daily basis.”
“That’s easy. Bart!” the black figure called out.
The old bearded man hurriedly scrambled over.
“Bart followed Laban for many years. He knows about the situation here quite well. He’ll be your helper.”
“Al...... alright.” Isabella nodded as she steeled her nerves.
The black figure picked Laban’s body up and started walking off into the distance. “Then I will leave this place to you. Remember, you have three days to get used to this place.”
“Three days? What will happen in three days?”
“Three days from now, a group of soldiers will surround you, including two clergymen, four holy warriors, and twenty or so of their servants.
The bandits were stunned when they heard this piece of news.
The Church’s clergymen were not easy to deal with, and their holy warriors were even stronger.
The bandits’ most powerful warrior had been crippled, and even if he had been present, they still would have been no match for a group that strong.
“Can the Lonely Forest keep them away?” Isabella asked.
“If they dare to enter this forest, they’ll have made their own preparations. In actuality, there are a few different divine techniques that can nullify the curse that presides over this forest.” The black figure’s reply made the bandits quite despondent.
“Then what if we can’t last that long?” Isabella continued to ask.
The black figure simply replied, “Then you will die.”
“You won’t let us die like that, right? If we die, then you won’t have any more bandits to use.”
Isabella was still trying to negotiate for more favorable terms.
She was still hoping to get a better answer.
Unfortunately, reality left her disappointed.
The black figure emotionlessly replied, “You’re wrong. If you die, then I will just find another group to support me. The demon bandits will always exist, though it might not be your group in the future.”
After the black figure said these words, he spun around and left, leaving the group of bandits shell-shocked. After the black figure left, his face morphed, revealing Frost’s visage.
Even though he was young and his strength average, some of his abilities far exceeded those of his contemporaries, which included the creation of the curse that permeated the Lonely Forest.
How he would use Laban was yet another example of his precociousness.
Frost, who had always regretted the lack of readily-available materials, had finally gotten his hands on the body of a level three warrior.
As such, after leaving the Lonely Forest, he immediately headed straight to a nearby cave. This place was his secret research laboratory, where he conducted all of his experiments and research.
This included his understanding of biology on this side of the Barrier. Frost had early on discovered that living creatures born in the Kun’s territory were extremely suited to be used as puppet chassis.
The underlying theory was to use the physical body as the foundation and combine it with multiple supplementary materials. With this general blueprint, Frost had developed a way to produce a unique kind of puppet.
And with this blueprint, Frost could build up an army of loyal subordinates before he reached full maturity.
After ensuring that no one else was nearby, Frost began to construct his first puppet.......
Meanwhile, Isabella and her bandits were beginning to panic.
Frost’s emotionless words echoed ceaselessly through their minds.
There was no chance of them escaping. Since the curse had fully pervaded their bodies, they would likely die without the constant suppressive effects from their boss’s medicine.
Since they couldn’t escape, their only choice was to think of a way to neutralize the pending threat.
The bandits huddled together as they discussed possible plans of action.
“What else can we do? We’ll just fight them head-on!” one of the rasher bandits roared.
“That’s just going to get us all killed. There’s no way we’ll be able to win in an upfront fight against them.”
“Then what do you think we should do?”
“Let’s hide somewhere and ambush them.”
“Are you kidding? Your traps are nothing more than child’s play. ‘Hey, look, I caught you!’ Is that what you’re going to say to them? Do you think that jumping out of tall grass will mean that you’ll be able to finish them off? I’m about to die of laughter.”
“There’s no need to wait until you die of laughter. You’ll die very soon!” the bandit who was being mocked yelled angrily.
The two of them then broke out into a fight. The nearby bandits made no attempt to stop them. Instead, they formed a circle around them and jeered them on.
This was just how bandits behaved. Even if the sky was about to collapse, it was impossible to expect them to do anything even mildly productive.
Isabella felt a headache wash over her.
Even though she repeatedly tried to get their attention, no one listened to her.
They continued to chaotically clamor and shout and argue, completely ignoring their “leader,” Isabella.
They’re not listening to me at all! Me being their leader is only in name, Isabella thought to herself mournfully.
She knew that this was a natural result of being artificially instated. No one would take her seriously.
Deep inside her heart, however, Isabella refused to give up.
She didn’t want to admit defeat here, because doing so would mean returning to her previous, powerless self.
There was no way that she would ever accept that.
Even if the alternative was becoming a bandit herself.
Only after I truly become a bandit will they be willing to accept me, she thought to herself.
As Isabella watched the two bandits brawl with each other, a cold glint of light suddenly flickered through her eyes
She finally seemed to come to a conclusion, and she forcefully charged into the mix, grabbed one of the bandits by his shoulder, and threw him over her shoulder onto the ground.
This shoulder throw was executed beautifully, and the rest of the bandits were startled by her interruption.
“Hey! He was my opponent.” The other bandit seemed unhappy about Isabella disturbing his fight.
Isabella responded with a vicious first to the bandit’s stomach, causing him to fall to his knees.
Isabella coldly declared, “The Gwent family is a family of martial artists. Every son and daughter is trained in melee combat. If you aren’t satisfied, feel free to try me.”
A large group of bandits rushed towards her.
Isabella panicked slightly, but she did her best to control her emotions. “I am your leader. You all would do best to remember that.”
But one of the bandits shook his head. “I refuse to accept you as my leader.”
“Why didn’t you say that earlier, when the boss was here? Do you think that you’ll be able to slink away unpunished after killing me?” Isabella immediately threatened.
Upon hearing this, the bandits froze momentarily. What had happened to Laban was still fresh in their minds. Before they could determine what their boss was thinking, none of them dared to do anything to Isabella.
Isabella let out a sigh of relief. So the looming threat of the boss was still useful, huh?
A moment later, however, someone said, “We can’t possibly win against the clergymen, so we will die sooner or later. Who cares about our boss?”
This statement won the approval of many bandits.
Someone even went one step further. “If that’s the case, then why don’t we get a taste of our new leader? If we’re going to die anyways, then why not have some fun before we die?”
“I think that sounds like a good idea,” one of the bandits chuckled darkly.
These bandits were scum, through and through. Even though they were in a desperate situation, none of them were thinking of ways to extricate themselves from the situation. Instead, all they thought about was having some fun before they died.
Isabella felt a sense of despair wash over her once again.
Just as the bandits were reaching out to grab her, however, an idea sprang to mind.
She yelled out, “I know how to deal with those clergymen.”
The bandits suddenly stopped, staring at her attentively.
Isabella repeated, “I know how to deal with the clergymen, but you have to listen to my orders.”
“If you really have a way to deal with them, we are willing to obey you,” one of the bandits said.
“And what about you? And you? And you?” Isabella asked, glancing pointedly at each of the bandits next to her.
“We swear on it, as long as you can do it.”
“I swear on my mother’s grave.”
The bandits all agreed, each swearing their own strange vow.
Even though it sounded a bit insincere, it was obvious that her words were beginning to convince the bandits.
Isabella let out a long sigh of relief.
She thought to herself, You can do this. You can definitely do this.
After she calmed down a bit, she continued, explaining, “The Church’s forces are indeed incredibly strong, and we are not their opponents in the slightest. That’s why our only chance of surviving is by encircling them and searching for opportunities to strike.”
“What kind of method is that? What a waste of time,” some of the bandits muttered scornfully.
Others asked, “What kind of opportunities would we be looking for?”
“Opportunities to kill the clergymen!” Isabella declared. “As long as we can kill the clergymen, we will have won.”
What? Everyone gazed at Isabella in shock.
Isabella loudly explained, “Even though the clergymen and the holy warriors both possess divine techniques, they specialize in different areas. From what I understand, the clergymen should be the ones who are responsible for repelling the curse. Additionally, not everyone from the church will be able to do that.”
The bandits’ interest had finally been caught. “So you’re saying that......”
“We will launch an all-out strike to kill the clergymen. As long as they die, there will be no one to help the holy warriors and their servants repel the curse, and they will then inevitably die to the curse.”
Isabella continued. “Thus, we are actually not fighting against the whole expedition, but rather just the clergymen. This is also why the boss is letting us fight against them on our own. Even though they are powerful, they have a fatal flaw. If we can take advantage of this flaw, then our enemies will fall at our feet.”