TL: Ch 20. Edited Oct 28/2017.
Chapter 20 – The one who persuades
Bannett stiffly sat down and cast a sneering look at Brendel. He was certain in his heart that Brendel was definitely lying. They had trained together in the same military batch in Anchorite, and even though he did not see him after they went back to Bruglas, he continued to receive news about him and knew about his background.
His father was just a simple miller, his mother had some noble blood in her, and his grandfather was a knight who survived the November war. But what sort of extraordinary experiences would he have?
After Bannett was recruited into the guards, it was said that Brendel had decided to follow his father’s footsteps. The only thing that he did not know was why he went to Bucce and stayed there for a year.
It was highly unlikely that he had learned so much about Madara within a year. And if this bastard were to lie, he would have to face Marden’s scrutiny.
Bannett peeked sideways at his captain. Even though this old man’s temper was incredibly bad and a stubborn person as well, he was exceedingly sharp. Anyone who tried lying to him would easily be exposed.
Another young man from the guards picked up the conversation to stop the awkward silence after Bannett sat down. He spoke about the battle in detail, with the occasional nods from the others or additional lines from them added to his description. Bannett and Marden were the only two people who kept their silence.
Brendel noted Marden’s eyebrows were trembling from time to time which showed off his anxiety in his heart. Bannett, on the other hand, decided to simply watch everything in silence and ignore Brendel.
Brendel continued to listen to them and soon figured who they had encountered. The leader of the army who continued to pursue them from Bucce was most likely Rothko. He was a brilliant undead wizard in the game and given the nickname of ‘Corpse Wizard’ by the players. His talent was easily converting undead spirits into necromancers, and thus his army was replenished very quickly. Even though he did not have a high offensive stat, he was cunning, patient and made use of his army as cannon fodder to exhaust the enemy and deal a blow to their morale.
[Right now, he should only be at an apprentice level. Therefore, under Tarkus’s tactics, he would just be a leader of a middle-sized army. ]
Brendel wondered briefly if he encountered each other when he escaped from Bucce.
He did not need to guess about the leader of the second army’s identity. The one who razed the Green village to the ground was Kabias. The skeleton warrior was not famous in Madara’s history, but was considered as a veteran and definitely one of Tarkus’s generals in this battle.
A middle-sized undead army would have the numbers of over two hundred and at least twenty necromancers in them. Kabias’s army, as one of the main forces sent as a vanguard, had at least one-fifth of Tarkus’ left wing’s army. His large forces definitely had more than just skeleton soldiers and necromancers. It was highly likely that there were pale knights and dark warriors in the army too.
Brendel omitted many details to the Guards. He quoted legends and rumors to briefly describe their ranks, but stating their numbers was certainly out of the question. Even though he knew about the future, he had to tread carefully.
“I am not sure if you have heard of this location called Ansel. It’s the main region where the undead wizards are living in. Madara is split into three factions. One faction is the vampires, and one is the undead wizards. I’m going to skip the description of these two factions since you should have heard about them.”
“The last faction is one that also holds considerable might. These dark lords in this faction are comprised of holy knights that committed crimes, nobles that were exiled, pirates and undead wanderers. They worship the Black Bible, and are rulers that believe in Madara’s traditional ways.”
“All these stories are very interesting, but they are just stories.” One of the guards retorted.
“No, just think about it. If there is one person who could unify them, then Madara will return as the blight from the darkness. Right now, the current events match a certain prophecy.”
“You just said that this kingdom has never been unified before.”
“It has never been unified in the past, but their chance to do so is approaching before our very eyes.”
“What does this ‘unification’ has to do with our situation?”
“Of course there is, have you heard about the legend of the Mercury Staff?” Brendel suddenly changed to another topic.
“That’s also described in the same prophecy, right? It’s said that when someone possesses it, they will rule the darkness in the world?” Someone asked.
“The full name is ‘The Mercury Staff of Loptr’. Loptr is a genius undead wizard, and he nearly unified the Madara kingdom. Fortunately, he failed at the end, and his staff went missing, and this legend was left behind. When someone possesses the staff, he will become the King of Darkness. And just this year of spring, someone had witnessed the appearance of the staff in Ansel.”
“Hold on,” Bannett’s expression suddenly changed. “The rumor a few months ago was real?”
“A few months ago?”
“Wait, I remember hearing about this. It’s some merchant who brought this news here, saying that someone opened a huge door using a strange staff.”
“‘The Door of Lament’.” Brendel added details to the horrified soldiers’ conversation, “That door leads to Loptr’s treasury and his throne.”
The old captain frowned: “Young man, even though I don’t understand the fights between these powerful people, you mean to say there has been a great change in Madara? It is indeed terrible news, and at the very least, it would mean that Madara is completely prepared for this invasion. Even though I don’t know what their goals are, they wouldn’t just invade us on a small scale, right? What you said sounds too ridiculous to be true, but that does not mean it is not possible.”
His hand that was full of calluses was placed on his knee, and it was near enough to draw his sword anytime: “Bannett. Do you know this young man?”
Bannett was startled. If he said that he was suspicious of Brendel, even though the captain would not immediately strike at him with the sword, he would at least tie him up and question him.
He looked at Brendel without hiding the ridicule in his eyes. But he thought for a while and did not choose to do something like that: “I know him, and I think he’s lying to us. But if I think about it rationally… He has no reason to lie to us.”
“What if he has been bribed by Madara?” Marden asked again.
“I have also thought about that, but that’s unlikely considering what he and the third militia squadron had been through. If this Madara commander had prepared things in advance, then I think our defeat was justifiable.”
“Very good, Bannett.” Marden patted his vice-captain’s back.
Not only Marden, but even Brendel also looked differently at the young vice-captain. It seemed that this fellow had a pretty good head on him. He had the impression that he was too narrow-minded and could not become a true leader. He started to mull over on his assessment on him again.
If Bannett had denied knowing him or accused him of something, Brendel had the confidence to persuade Marden due to his knowledge of the future. However, that might have led to a situation that he might expose himself as a different person.
“Alright, then we’re going back to the real topic,” Marden said. “Kid, you believe that Madara’s goal is Fortress Riedon?”
“In the Grinoires region, Aouine’s defensive line is Stronghold Vermiere. Fortress Riedon protects the flank of that defensive line, so Madara’s goal can only be Fortress Riedon.” Brendel nodded.
Marden rubbed his nose and cursed: “Then the Madara forces that kept biting on our tails are their bigwigs? Fuck, why did we have to encounter this pile of pigshit trouble!”
“I don’t know the exact details,” Brendel said while he hid the knowledge that he knew everything: “But based on your description, there’s an undead wizard in the first army that pursued you, and one of the Dark Lord’s army that came as reinforcements.”
“The undead wizard’s army formation is comprised of necromancers as a platoon leader. It’s easy to recognize them. I believe the size is half a company of one hundred to two hundred undead. The Dark Lord’s army formation is more chaotic, but there should be at least the size of two companies, based on the size that invaded the Green village.”
“It sounds about right.” Marden nodded.
What he did not know was Brendel actually reduced the number by half. Even so, that number made everyone worried. The size of the undead army vastly outnumbered their thirty guard members who even brought a group of weak villagers with them. How were they supposed to break the siege?
The old captain also sighed.
“Alright, Brendel. Since you came to tell us all these things, would it be right for me to think that you have a solution? I can tell you right now, if the situation is as you have reported, then I have no confidence to bring these men out of this siege.”
Freya bleated with surprise.
But Brendel nodded: “I do.”
Everyone’s gaze suddenly focused on him, and even Bannett looked at him with shock and disbelief.
Brendel wiped his sweaty palms on his shirt and took a breath. He was slightly tense. Even though he had a plan, he had little confidence in it. Receiving the attention of everyone made him feel pressured. The next few sentences he was going to say, concerned many lives. He wondered if he needed to be more careful in his choice of words to convince them.
He reminded himself to think calmly and not leave out anything.
“Everyone should travel to the north and cross the River of Daggers.” He said.
“The River of Daggers?”
“Where is that place? Why do we need to go there?”
Brendel hesitated for a while. How was he going to explain that the ‘Pale Knight’ Ebdon and the ‘Undead Ghost’ Vlad will be late for nearly two days before surrounding that area?