Chapter 194

The chaos in Mentis continued. Zich took the lead in slaughtering the elves, and from behind, armored soldiers followed. The soldiers randomly poured into nearby houses, but there was nothing in those houses except some flesh and bones.

<<Boss! There’s nothing inside the house!>> one of the soldiers said to Zich, making him scowl.

“How’s that possible! They told me that this area was a sacred place for the elves! How could there not even be a treasure!”

<<But there really is nothing, sir!>>

Slice!

Zich sliced the leg of one of the elves coming towards him. The elf collapsed with a loud scream.

“Tch! Maybe I really do have to clear out a place that looks like it has something.” Zich stared at a large structure in the middle of an island. It was made of a pile of white rocks and looked like a storybook castle that kings lived in.

Zich kicked the screaming elves by his ankles and pushed them aside with his feet. Then, he carelessly deflected the arrows flying his way and pointed at the castle in the middle of the island with Windur.

“Attack that castle! Everyone searching this house, get out!” Zich commanded and took the lead again while slicing some elves.

However, even if Zich took the lead by slicing elves and his subordinates wore sturdy armor, there was a limit caused by the difference between numbers. As the elves in Mentis officially began to collaborate, the advance of Zich’s army slowed down.

<<Boss! There are too many enemies!>>

“I know!” Zich answered as he struck an elf away with a punch. The elf’s body flew away like a piece of paper and stuck to a building on the side.

“Damn it! Usually, only a couple of elves manage this place! Why are there so many of them right now!”

<<It seems like we obtained the wrong information!>>

“It can’t be helped.” Zich put a lot of pressure into his neck and even used mana to shout, “Retreat!”

The armored soldiers suddenly stopped attacking, and then they began to slowly back away.

“Where are you trying to retreat, you bastards!” A nearby elf screamed at the top of his lungs and rushed towards them.

Clang!

Windur blocked the elf’s sword. Windur’s branch-like blade tangled itself against the elf’s sword, and Zich twisted his wrist to tilt Windur.

Clang!

The elf’s sword split in half with a clear sound.

“I can do whatever I want,” Zich responded.

Punch!

The elf was stunned that his sword broke against Windur, and Zich punched him in the face. As blood and teeth scattered in the air, the elf rolled away on the ground.

“Retreat! Retreat, you guys!” Zich continued to call upon his army to retreat while backing away. The armored soldiers in the back escaped in unison while the soldiers in front took slow steps backwards.

Meanwhile, the elves rushed towards them with fiery eyes at the sight of their dead companions. Their intentions were clear: not one of their opponents would leave this place alive. However, the command they soon heard from behind broke their pace.

“Stop! Stop! Don’t just chase after them hastily!” There was no way that elves with good hearing failed to hear the command; besides, this voice belonged to their general.

In their hearts, the elves wanted to go after their enemies and slit their throats, but they couldn’t disobey their general’s commands. While gritting their teeth, the elves slowed their chasing, and Zich and his soldiers used that chance to widen the distance between them.

“Their whole army has slowed down!”

“Good!” Zich announced.

Kandis Lau Elibi, the general of the Iron Tribe, clenched his fist tightly after leaving the battlefield.

“Maintain a constant distance! While maintaining our distance, continue to corner them! They’re heading toward nothing else but the lake anyway!”

The commanders in between the lines spread the general’s commands. Kandis gritted his teeth and snarled, “I don’t know how they got in here, but it’s going to be a great mistake on their part if they think they can get out of this place in one piece!”

“We don’t know how they came here without notice! They might use the same method to retreat and escape!” his officer replied.

“That’s why I am commanding the troops to maintain their distance. Whether they rode a ship or swam here, we can use that moment to attack them. This place is our base anyways,” Kandis explained and commanded, “Continue to shoot your arrows! Inflict damage on them!”

In the dark sky over Mentis, a cloud of arrows shot in unison and fell. Perhaps it was because of their thick armor, but not many people were affected by the arrows.

‘What kind of people are they that they have mithril armors!’ Kandis thought.

Elf arrows and bows were different from those of humans, and since they were imbued with mana, the arrows easily pierced through steel plates. Surprisingly enough, their arrows failed to pierce through the armor and bounced off. There were some who collapsed from the impact of the attack, but the other armored soldiers quickly supported them and retreated.

Kandis narrowed his eyes. ‘They can afford to do that while retreating?’

It clearly looked like heavy armor, but Kandis’ opponents went to retrieve the fallen with no hesitation.

‘Should I get closer?’ Kandis wondered but shook his head.

The Iron Tribe might enter a war with other elf tribes because of a single mishap. He was certain that other elf tribes had their hidden forces across Mentis’ bridge, and because of that, the troops near the bridge couldn’t move since the other tribes’ troops might burst in after hearing the commotion.

‘I can’t even request backup from the main office.’

Even at the main office, troops from other elf tribes would be on standby. The Iron Tribe’s position was different from the other tribes—they were barely maintaining their stance by holding leaders from several tribes as captives.

‘We have to save the troops we have right now no matter what! There are no more support forces!’ Kandis thought. 

Thankfully, they had prepared tons of arrows. It seemed like they wouldn’t have any problems using up a good portion of their stock.

“Continue to shoot!” In the end, Kandis tried to annihilate his enemies’ troops by maintaining his distance even though his opponents’ armor was hard—some of them fell to their attacks. Not long afterward, they were able to corner Zich’s companions next to the lake. They kept pushing Zich’s companions further, and now, there was nowhere for them to go—this was what Kandis had thought.

“What?” However, he soon became puzzled. ‘The number of enemies…’

From a glance, it was obvious that the number of enemies had greatly decreased. He turned back and looked around his surroundings.

‘They disappeared!’

If the number of enemies disappeared, there should be corpses left behind, or at least some injured soldiers. However, the only thing he could see were impressions in the ground caused by a large number of soldiers passing by.

‘During that short amount of time, they were able to escape? They didn’t infiltrate by ships or swimming?’ His instincts sensed a crisis.

“All forces, charge forward! Crush your enemies!” Kandis quickly made an order. ‘It’s not time for me to worry about exhausting the troops! If I don’t find out how they infiltrated this place, there’s going to be a hole in the boundary!’

He needed to at least capture one soldier as a hostage and get information out of them. With Kandis’ command, the elves flocked forward. They gritted their teeth against their enemies that massacred their comrades in the middle of the night. However, the armored soldiers didn’t face them. They turned their backs and ran towards the nearest building. 

“Surround them!”

The elves split into two groups, and one group followed their enemies and the other went inside the building. The elves planned to block their enemies from the front. However, they failed to corner them.

“Huh?”

“What?”

The elves who went to surround their enemies looked at each other, but the only thing they could do was dumbly cry out in surprise. They could only see their own kind, and their enemies were nowhere to be found. They glanced at both sides, looked up, and then looked at the ground, but there was no trace of them. The elves looked at each other with shock on their faces. A deputy officer reported to Kandis about what happened.

“What the fuck are you saying!” Kandis yelled at the deputy officer with a red face. However, even if he yelled at the deputy officer, it wasn’t as if the disappeared enemies would suddenly reappear. Kandis made another order.

“Investigate immediately! Look around the places where they disappeared first! If you guys find even one piece of armor, report to me right away!”

The elf soldiers scattered all over the place. While holding torches, they ran through the streets and checked dark alleyways, rocky shores, and even searched underwater and tried digging in the ground. They also looked up at the sky, but there was no trace of their enemies. They had completely disappeared. 

Kandis was dumbfounded by the sudden disappearance of so many troops.

“How could such a thing happen…”

How was he going to report to the King? Kandis felt his mind grow faint.

*   *   *

Zich opened his eyes. He brushed off his whole body, and small bits of dirt fell off. After also brushing the dirt off his hair, he walked to the passage in front of him.

“Welcome back.” Lyla was the one to first greet him.

“Where is Snoc?”

“There.” Lyla pointed at a corner. A fatigued Snoc bowed his head at Zich.

“Sir, have you arrived?”

“Yeah, you worked hard. You did a really good job today.”

Even while he was exhausted, Snoc smiled. The biggest contributor to this operation was Snoc. If it hadn’t been for him, it would have been impossible to ‘stage’ such a large number of troops. Zich tapped his shoulder one more time and then looked back at Lyla.

“How many are damaged?”

“It’s quite a lot.” Lyla pointed at a different corner this time. There, a large mountain of armored soldiers that recently fought with elves could be found. The mountain pile looked as if the bodies of dead knights were piled together. However, to the Iron Tribe’s mortification, the pieces of armor that had fiercely battled against them were completely empty.

Snoc shook his head as he said, “As expected of elf arrows, even though I strengthened the metal to a great extent, the arrows go right through them.”

Zich scanned the nearest set of armor. There was a hole from an elf arrow and some bloodstains, but this did not matter. Zich had no plans to criticize Snoc for just this.

“No, this is enough. In the first place, I didn’t think we would be able to completely block them anyways.”

Their opponent was an elite elf troop. No matter how hard the armor was, unless they were extremely rare metals like mithril, it was futile to expect that they would be able to perfectly block all the elves’ attacks.

“My ‘getting injured’ play was also perfect.”

The humanlike armored figures that followed Zich were all ‘empty armor’ controlled by Snoc. Obviously, Zich stole the idea from Midas who had ambushed them with empty armored figures. As soon as Zich realized how effective the empty armored figures were, he immediately trained Snoc to do the same thing. Snoc’s abilities were actually way better than Midas’. While Midas could only control gold, Snoc could control all earth minerals. Unlike Midas who embedded gold in the armored figures’ limbs to control the armor, Snoc could control the armor too. 

As expected of Zich’s training, the training to control armored figures was extremely tough. Zich was not satisfied with Snoc being able to control only a couple. As soon as Snoc showed the smallest sign that he got used to the amount of armor he could control, Zich increased the number. Fortunately, Midas had gathered a lot of armor during his time, so it was not difficult for Zich to obtain more.

‘He also probably collected a whole bunch just in case something happened in the future.’

Like this, Zich and his companions were able to make a large army of soldiers for Zich. Of course, even Snoc couldn’t control such a large amount of armor by himself. He had to borrow Lyla’s powers.

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