Chapter 202. Prelude to the Race War

The trolls rode under the cover of darkness.

"Kuheok."

"Enemies!"

"Trolls are coming!"

Ruman Orc Scouts yelled.

Orcs were green/yellow skinned, had pig noses, tusks that protruded out of their mouths, and thick stomachs. 

Ruman Orcs didn't look much different from any other orc.

Due to how powerful their tribe was, however, their warriors were incredibly well armed.

The warriors wore breastplates that protected their chest, as well as gauntlets and greaves over their arms and legs. They wielded either sharp axes, or large, thick maces or clubs.

"Shaman, contact headquarters immediately!"

"Don't fall back. We have to buy some time!"

Ten Orc Scouts surrounded the Shaman, which was the only orc here that could contact headquarters. 

"Ang guriang biancamandu!" The Orc Shaman lifted an animal skull with both hands, and began reciting a bizarre chant.

"Not going to happen!" Throwing spears was Shakara's specialty! He pulled a javelin off his back and forcefully threw it.

Whoosh!

The power of the violently spinning spear was tremendous.

Boom!

It pierced through the Orc Shaman's shoulder joint.

"Kuahk!" The shaman screamed in agony. He obviously wasn't able to complete the spell.

"The shaman's been hit! Spread out! We need to send word to headquarters no matter what!  We need to let them know of the trolls' invasion!" an orc yelled.

The remaining orcs split from each other and ran.

"Don't let any of them get away!" Shakara said murderously.

A short while later...

All of the Orc Scouts had been killed.

"Today's a good day to be killing orcs," Shakara gazed at the sky and said.

The darkness of night and the unending rain were completely concealing their actions.

"To the next outpost!"

The Troll Warriors moved as one.

* * *

Kalbawi Outpost wasn't huge, but it was a fortress constructed out of stone.

There were too many Orc Warriors stationed here for it to be called an outpost.

After all, the orcs couldn't afford to lose this outpost to the trolls! There were so many soldiers here that it almost seemed excessive.

Obviously, the Orc Warriors here were the best of the best.

Thus, the Orc Warriors manning the ramparts diligently did their duty, despite the rain falling down on them.

But life always threw curveballs. 

Gyaahk!

A giant bird hovered above the fortress, and a man landed on the ramparts.

"Who are you!?"

"An intruder!"

The Orc Guards pointed their weapons at him.

Swish.

The beast mask man raised his head. Red light radiated from the mask's eyes holes.

"You'll work." The beast mask man extended his hand. A thick tentacle, resembling an octopus's leg, burst from his hand and wrapped around the orcs.

"Kuahk!"

"What is this!?"

"Accept Jaila's blessing." The tip of the tentacles pierced the back of their heads, and began injecting a clear liquid into their bodies.

"Guuu."

"S-Stop."

"Guahk!"

Unable to withstand the pain, the brave orcs screamed in agony, and begged for mercy.

However, the beast mask man offered them no mercy.

Spurt!

The orcs began swelling like a balloon.

"Guuuu."

"Gyaruugukueuk."

Bizarre cries resounded throughout the ramparts. These were the cries of monsters, not orcs; they were now nothing more than lumps of flesh. 

"Go." The beast mask man withdrew his tentacles from the flesh monsters.

These flesh monsters, which looked to explode at any moment, dragged their feet towards the end of the castle walls.

A short while later...

Bam! Bam! Bam!

"Kuahk!"

"Exploding monsters!"

"This is an emergency. Ring the bell!"

Ding, ding, ding, ding!

The peal of a bell resounded throughout the fortress, disrupting the silence that once dominated Kalbawi Outpost.

And...

The beast mask man disappeared into the darkness, as if he hadn't existed in the first place.

* * *

It was a bright morning.

Creak.

Kang Oh opened the door to the Kasten Mercenary Association and went inside.

"Welcome." The Chewbacca look-alike greeted him. He reacted completely differently from when they'd first met. 

It was only natural. Back then, he was nothing but a worthless human, but now he was a gold mercenary, which cemented him as one of the best mercenaries in the land.

"Do you have any dangerous battles for me?" Kang Oh asked.

Other mercenaries performed tasks like guard duty and transporting/collecting items, but Kang Oh wouldn't do such menial tasks. 

He only took jobs that involved him fighting on the battlefield.

"Not right now, no."

"Why?"

"The Ingrit Trolls launched a surprise attack on the Ruman Orc's Kalbawi Outpost last night."

The Kasten Mercenary Association was the fastest when it came to information gathering in the west. 

"So how did it turn out?"

"The attack failed. Before the trolls even attacked, the orcs were attacked by some bizarre monsters, so they were on high alert."

"They made a move, but it ended in failure. I doubt this'll be the end of things."

Kang Oh had spent the last several months in the western region, so he knew about the relationship among the Ingrit Trolls, the Nigel Elves, and the Ruman Orcs. Of course, he also knew how strategic the Kalbawi Outpost was too.

"This attack is a declaration of war."

"Which will result in a huge battle."

"That's right. It'll be a huge battle that'll involve everyone in the west."

That's what happened in the past too. The Ingrit Trolls raised a huge army, and the other species were forced into action.

"All of the western races are watching and waiting anxiously. They'll likely end their racial disputes as quickly as possible," 'Chewbacca' added.

"So you won't have a job for me until the war with the trolls begins."

"That's right."

"I got it." Kang Oh understood what was going on now. 'I guess I could just go through dungeons for now.'

"See you later."

"Take care."

However...

All of a sudden, a pointy-eared elf opened the door and rushed in. 

"I have an urgent message for you," the elf approached 'Chewbacca' and said.

"What is it?"

"The Ingrit Trolls have begun their march."

"What?"

"War... has begun!"

* * *

Four hours prior to Kang Oh meeting with 'Chewbacca' in the Mercenary Association...

The Troll Great Chieftain, Razul, called all of the Troll Champions to his home.

Other than Razul, Nergal, Shakara, Turkavan, Ursac, etc. were there. Nergal, Shakara, Turkavan, and Ursac were all Troll Champions. Nergal was covered from head to toe in scars while Ursac had a head that was larger than your average troll. Turkavan's face was covered with tattoos, while Shakara wouldn't stop chewing on his lips. 

Gathering all of the Troll Champions in one place made it feel incredibly imposing. 

"The attack failed," Razul stood up, everyone focusing on him, and said.

"Mm." Shakara, who led the surprise attack, kept his mouth in a thin line. 

They'd taken out all of the scouts and had covertly attacked Kalbawi Outpost, but for some reason, the orcs were completely ready for them. 

They couldn't take them by surprise at all! Thus, he'd kept all of his forces in one piece and had returned.

"Now the elves, orcs, and the other tribes in the west will know what we're planning. They'll gather all of their forces under the Anti-Ingrit banner like in the past," Razul said, his eyes filled with killing intent.

In the past, the Anti-Ingrit Alliance defeated them, foiling his plans and forcing them back with their tails between their legs. Razul remembered the humiliation he'd felt that day.

"We have to strike before they form the alliance."

"Then?" Turkavan, the Troll Champion whose face was covered in tattoos, asked.

"In three hours, we'll mobilize all of our warriors except the rear support troops!"  

The Ingrit Trolls had been preparing for battle since the night before. They were ready to mobilize at a moment's notice.

"Our destination is... Nigel Forest!" Razul declared.

Nigel Forest.

The home of the elves. They would destroy the elves first!

"Yes, sir!" the Troll Champions replied simultaneously, their eyes gleaming. There were no disagreements amongst them.

"Report to me when you're ready to move out."

"Yes, sir!"

"Go."

The Troll Champions quickly departed.

Razul looked over a map that fully depicted the topography of the western grasslands.

'We have to seize the Nigel Forest ASAP. And then, we have to finish off the Ruman Orcs!' He glanced in a certain direction. His eyes were focused on the bronze gargoyle. 'I don't need your help. I, Razul, will control the west by myself!'

Razul's eyes blazed with ambition.

* * *

The Nigel Forest was the largest forest in the west, and was also the domain of the elves.

Elves possessed lithe bodies, sharp, pointy ears, and were proficient in handling spirits. They were also blessed with long life, and aged extremely slowly.

They also had ten elders, and these elders gathered together to make decisions for the race as a whole.

This was called the Council of Elders.

If a war broke out or there was an emergency, the Council of Elders would select one elf as commander in chief, and the selected elf would gain complete authority over the elves.

When they heard that the trolls were coming, the Nigel Elves prepared for war, and selected the well-respected and skilled Doran as commander in chief.

Doran's decision-making was stupendous. 

'The trolls tried attacking the orc's outpost, but that ended in failure. Then, they immediately mobilized their army... They're trying to stop us from forming an alliance by blitzing us and ending the war before it even starts. If that's the case, then we have to drag this out!'

He called all of his tribe's greatest warriors.

"We're setting up several barricades in the forest," Doran said.

"Barricades?" an elf, Kibry said.

"We're trying to buy as much time as possible. We need to prolong this war as long as we can. So we'll set up several barricades, hold out for as long as possible, and then slowly back off."

"Understood."

"Kibry, take the most quick-footed Elvish Warriors with you and run reconnaissance on the trolls. Then report back to me."

"Understood." Kibry departed.

"Anra, go to the orcs."

"To ask for reinforcements?"

"Yeah. And tell them about my barricade plan. They should know about those damn trolls' plans by now."

"Yes, sir."

"Cetion and Vanessa, head for the Kasten Mercenary Association."

"What do you want us to do there?" Cetion asked.

"Meet the president of the association, and ask him to form a squad of mercenaries."

The Ingrit Trolls didn't make use of mercenaries. They may use other species as slaves, but they were incredibly chauvinistic and valued their pure blood. 

Thus, the Mercenary Association would always side with the Anti-Ingrit Alliance. In the past war, the mercenaries grouped together and fought against the trolls. Doran hoped that they'd participate in this war like last time.

"I'll be sure to bring back a squad of mercenaries," Cetion said firmly.

"I'm counting on you."

"What about me?" the only female elf here, Vanessa asked.

"Go with Cetion. Ask the Mercenary Association for help, and gather forces for the Anti-Ingrit Alliance."

The best way to repel the mighty Ingrit Trolls was for all of the races to fight as one.

"I'll do my best."

"There should be an orc there that's received the same mission as you. Work with them."

"Yes, sir. I'll keep that in mind."

"Go on."

Cetion and Vanessa left together.

"The remaining warriors and I will form a barricade, and take position in strategic locations."

"Yes, sir!"

A large number of fully armed elves left the elvish village, Schuverion.

Morning of the next day...

The Ingrit Trolls and the Nigel Elves clashed for the first time.

It was the prelude to the race war. 

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