Chapter 219: Before the War [Volume 4 – Perpetual Conflict]
Several days later, Qianye encountered a larger patrol squad in one of the campsites on the other side of Black Clay Swamp. This time, he had to engage in an arduous battle before he was able to kill all the arachne and pursue the fleeing werewolves through the night.
However, some special members of that squad cast a shadow over Qianye’s heart. He swiftly ended the ambush and retreated swiftly without even erasing his traces.
The additional extra members were the giant lizard packbeasts who could move through the swamp unimpeded. These large amphibious beasts were over a dozen meters in length and possessed inexhaustible stamina. Their carrying capacity was also several times greater than that of giant swampspiders.
Qianye went through the items being carried on the packbeast and found that the securely sealed trunks were full of various armaments, ammo, medicines and war rations. One of those trunks even had 12 whole vampire grenades in them.
Judging by sight, those packbeasts were carrying several tons each. Ten-odd packbeasts meant that there were dozens of tons of supplies. The dark race army had little pressure regarding supplies because their food sources were quite abundant and they were adept at drawing on local resources, humans for instance.
The several dozen tons of military supplies were being escorted by a reinforced patrol squad. Simply from these details, one could predict the scale of the dark race army about to move through the Black Clay Swamp.
This was an army of thousands!
Thousands of formal warriors and not cannon fodder used to make up the numbers.
Formal dark race warriors had always been stronger than human soldiers. The dark race forces that took part in the battle of Earth Castle consisted mostly of cannon fodder. There were no more than a hundred formal dark race warriors and yet they had wiped out an elite reinforced company of the empire along with a whole battalion of regular expeditionary army soldiers.
If the scale of the dark race forces being mobilized was indeed as large as Qianye had predicted, not to mention Black Clay Town, even the whole Blackflow City region would be in grave danger.
Qianye was no longer in the mood to continue hunting. His top priority now was to report this new intelligence. The thousands of dark race warriors would, no doubt, be led by a champion. This estimate still hadn’t taken into account the commonly allocated cannon fodder, usually several times that of the formal troop count. Equipment was still the deciding factor in many battles regardless of numbers—Qianye only brought along the crate of vampire grenades and burnt the remaining supplies he couldn’t carry before rushing back at full speed.
Qianye returned to Black Clay Town after three days. The first batch of 100 soldiers from his Dark Flame Mercenary Corps, led by Lil’ Seven, had already been settled in. Song Hu, on the other hand, would arrive in a few days with ammo and supplies.
Lil’ Seven, upon seeing Qianye, was momentarily shocked by the bag-shaped object behind him. “Master, what is this?”
The three large outdoor backpacks tied together was almost as tall as Qianye and fully twice as wide. Even Qianye felt rather strained carrying this load. He unloaded the straps on his shoulders and replied, “This is the harvest from my trip to the swamp. Find someone to do inventory.”
Lil’ Seven immediately called over a number of warriors proficient in miscellaneous duties. The girls immediately screamed as a pile of arachne heads rolled out from the bulging first package!
Lil’ Seven was still quite calm. After the screaming subsided, she instructed the soldiers to pile up the arachne heads to one side. Despite their frightening aesthetics, these things were proof of military service, each of them worth over a dozen imperial gold coins in reward.
Next up was a number of randomly knotted packs. What fell out from the opened corner were several ears with blood clotted at their cut ends. Judging from the shape and fur, they obviously belonged to werewolves. There were at least half a dozen ears with signature earrings, indicating their status as high ranking werewolf warriors.
This time, the cleanup crew was mentally prepared. They didn’t scream although their hands trembled and almost reflexively tossed the small packs away.
In addition to this were the armaments—ten rank three origin guns, half a dozen origin power weapons and over ten pieces of armor. The numbers were great, but most dark race weapons required darkness origin power to display their full might. As such, their value on the market was decided by whether they had any artistic or aesthetic value. Arachne and werewolf gear usually wouldn’t fetch a decent price.
Lil’ Seven’s face was full of delight as she made an inventory of the items. These things would gain them thousands of gold coins after selling and exchanging accomplishments. The amount was sufficient for many months of the mercenary corps’ basic operations.
Qianye’s mood, on the other hand, was quite heavy. He went in to immediately write a letter after putting down the items. He recorded, in detail, everything he had seen and heard these days within the great swamp. He then dispatched a group of soldiers to head towards the Four Rivers Military Base at top speed and hand this report to Wei Bainian.
At this time, Hu Wei hurriedly arrived in response to the urgent summons. Qianye didn’t explain much and only ordered him to make immediate preparations to evacuate all the townspeople.
Hu Wei was shocked out of his wits. A complete evacuation meant that the situation had reached the worst stage. He didn’t even ask if Qianye had obtained the 7th division’s command before saying that he would make immediate arrangements and left without even remembering to say goodbye.
Song Hu arrived at Black Clay Town two days later with the supplies. After hearing Qianye recount the situation, he immediately sent people back to Blackflow City to collect trucks because only with enough trucks would they be able to ship more people and food back to Blackflow City. Song Hu’s instructions behind Qianye’s back was—buy if you can, rent if you must, and rob if all else fails.
But the most difficult part of all this was that there wasn’t any news at all from the expeditionary army’s side. The messenger Qianye dispatched returned along with a supply team from the mercenary corps. He brought the news to the 7th division headquarters but Wei Bainian had no message for him to bring back.
Fortunately, they still had some time. The marshland terrain was truly adverse—passing through the swamp would take the dark race army over ten days considering their size and marching speed. Previously, Qianye had destroyed most of their camping grounds. They wouldn’t be able to avoid a delay even if they had immediately dispatched repair teams after receiving news of it.
News finally arrived from the expeditionary army after a week.
Qianye thought his eyes had gone blurry after seeing the motorcade outside Black Clay Town. The snaking convoy stretched as far as the eye could see and completely blocked off the only highway outside of the town. Just the troop transportation trucks numbered close to a hundred and there were dozens of others carrying supplies. Qianye even saw ten truck-drawn heavy cannons!
The army was close to three thousand strong and consisted of almost two regiments in structure. With the 7th division’s current condition, it seemed all available troops had arrived here, barring the garrisons in the two cities and the essential frontline forces.
Wei Bainian jumped down from the jeep and immediately broke into a frown due to the stench assaulting his senses.
Qianye directly jumped down from the town wall after seeing Wei Bainian. He approached the latter and asked in surprise, “General Wei, how come you’ve come in person?”
Wei Bainian replied, “I saw your letter. It’s absolutely impossible for you to block a dark race army consisting of thousands of regular warriors. So, I shifted the 7th division’s main force here. We’ll give those dark blooded sons of b*tches a ruthless surprise at the exit! Campsites are limited in the great swamp, so they can only come out in batches. We’ll conveniently destroy them one by one. Such opportunities don’t come often!”
Qianye was somewhat startled, but after some consideration, he couldn’t help but admit it made sense.
However still had some concerns. “What about the primary defensive line?”
Wei Bainian replied, “We’ll just have to let the current forces hold on. With such a large force coming through the black swamp, it’s likely that the attacks on the other defensive lines will be mere diversions forces made up mainly of cannon fodder. They’ll have a hard time, but it’s not impossible to defend.”
Qianye was still somewhat worried, “What if the troop strength over there exceeds our estimations?”
If the main battlefield was broken through, even Blackflow City might be lost and half the theater would be crushed. What meaning would there be even if they repelled the assault from the Black Clay Marsh?
Wei Bainian Calmly replied, “I flipped through the war records of this defensive region. The Trinity River County had always been a barren location. There are no natural resources here, and neither is there any important strategic value. Furthermore, Blackflow City is considered to be at a lower intermediate grade in Trinity River County.” He glanced at Qianye and smiled. “Despite being one of the most troublesome characters in the expeditionary army, Wu Zhengnan’s 7th division had always remained a third-rate defensive region.”
Qianye inwardly sighed—it seemed the Wei clan had indeed investigated Wu Zhengnan thoroughly. His later increase in power mostly relied on illegal trade. He was only in charge of holding the city on the actual battlefield.
“Think about it. This place has neither resources nor tactical value. Why would the dark race mobilize a large army toward such a place? Additionally, if the main defense line really can’t be held, it holds little meaning even if I dispatch a massive force over there.”
Qianye immediately understood. If the dark race had also invested a large army on the main battlefield, they would become an enormous military force after their rendezvous with the army emerging from the swamp, a force the 7th division had absolutely no way to stop. At that time, they wouldn’t even be able to hold Blackflow City unless the expeditionary army’s strategy department deployed additional troops to this area.
Wei Bainian called out to Qianye and the two entered the town together, giving the latter a simple explanation of his thoughts along the way.
Wei Bainian’s strategy in this war was very clear—he would deploy all of the main forces here at Black Clay Town and defeat this army first, taking advantage of the fact that the dark race forces had no choice but to yield to the geography and split up their forces. In this way, he would win a decisive advantage during the upcoming war.
This was an extremely bold strategy.
As he walked into the conference room in the mayor’s residence, Wei Bainian finally couldn’t resist complaining, “How come this place stinks so much?”
Qianye replied with a smile, “This is the Black Clay Swamp’s characteristic stench, a mixture of hundreds of odors. However, that’s not a bad thing because it cripples the werewolves’ and vampires’ sharp sense of smell. Although the arachne are able to adapt better, their senses also decline within the black marsh.”
Wei Bainian broke into a laughter and patted Qianye’s shoulder. “Now I suddenly feel this smell is quite good!”
The dark race held too great a racial advantage in terms of night vision and perception. Interfering with their sense of smell would weaken a part of their fighting capacity.
Wei Bainian produced a military map and spread it open on the table. He then pointed to a few places for Qianye to see. This map, densely packed with landmarks and symbols, was actually the 7th division’s complete defensive map!
Wei Bainian said, “From now on, this place will be the weakest link in the defensive line. After the battle here, you can choose one or more places there to defend. This will increase your rewards by 30% over the standard rate.”
Qianye’s eyebrows were raised slightly as he checked the map in detail. After the battle here? Was this withdrawing defenses or changing defenses?
Wei Bainian laughed and added, “There’s much work to do. You can decide if you’re interested. This place used to be a small mine and there’s still some production. Right now, it’s being occupied by the previous 7th division’s deserters and I don’t have the extra manpower to deal with them. The area will be placed under your authority hereafter if you can take them down. I’ll not care about anything else as long as you pay a 30% tax.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter