L: First draft of the translated chapter. I finally started on my QC, loads of mistakes on chapter 1 which I edited briefly. Another TAS chapter coming soon.
Chapter 83 – The story of fishes swimming in chaos (5)
==================== Makarov’s POV ====================
“He really said that?”
Even though the Grey Wolves Mercenaries were attacked in the night by the endless stream of Paper Cards’ mercenaries and Disciples of Black Flame, and forced to retreat to the south, Makarov did not lose his composure and calmly retreated in an orderly manner. He was even able to regroup and gather his forces to make an organized army. Just that point alone would have qualified him as a famous general.
He was with Buga as usual, and wore a fiery red military uniform that was reminiscent of the previous king’s personal cavalry guards’ uniform.
Makarov was once the commander of the king’s personal cavalry guards, and his fiery red uniform had been his symbol ever since he took on that position. The things that were missing from before were the shoulder emblems, badges and tassels.
His personal sword had not changed since the time he was the commander of the 35th cavalry unit.
That particular brand of sword was immensely popular amongst the level 30-40 gamers. It had the right balance of stats for its price and was one of the best Magic Swords at the ‘Brass’ rating. The quantity of the swords was also sufficient in the market, so it was well received.
Makarov calmly listened to Yula’s report without showing any signs that he was concerned with the enemies, but merely raised an eyebrow upon Brendel’s advice. He turned to Buga and asked.
“That youth seems to be prepared. Do we head east as well?”
“Hold on,” Redi urgently cut in. He had a higher degree of authority amongst the other mercenaries, otherwise they would not have interrupted the Makarov: “Commander, the enemies we are facing now are the Tree Shepherds! We should retreat and seek for a better plan right? If they are attacking openly now, I’m sure they are well prepared to fight us, continuing to fight with them in this forest would be falling into their plans!”
His words were rash and rude, but Makarov was used to his attitude and did not mind it. Redi suddenly thought of something and asked. “And Eke is still in town, he might not be safe either!”
Makarov eyed the youth and nodded: “Your words are not wrong, but there is no guarantee that the Grey Wolves Mercenaries would be safe even if we retreat to Chablis.”
He saw that Yula had lowered her head and knew that she was worried with her fiance. “In truth we have already suspected that Conrad wouldn’t be so easy to deal with. But we are prepared to face him ever since we stepped into the forest. As for Eke….. I am not sure what he discovered, but him staying in the town is also fine. Capo stayed behind specifically to protect him, so worry not.”
Buga did not offer any comments and simply listened to the conversation, but he suddenly turned his head around and immediately discovered a blinding light coming from the distant forest. A ear-piercing explosion soon permeated the entire forest. Their expressions turned and Redi was about to say something, but the mercenaries around them had started shouting.
“The seventh chord, thunder!”
“Scarlett is in trouble!”
Buga reached for his greatsword behind his back, but he quickly stopped and turned to peer closer at the direction he was looking at earlier.
“The battle is already over.” He said gravely.
“You mean, Scarlett is……” Yula paled.
“I’ll bring some men to get to her now!” Redi finally reacted and reached for his sword, intending to rush out to that area, but Makarov laid a strong arm on his shoulder and forced him to stay right where he was.
Makarov did not say anything but frowned for the first time and looked somberly at where Buga was looking at as well. A few moments later, dark figures appeared in their line of sight, followed by two gurgling screams. Whether or not they belonged to a human’s dying throes or a beast’s, the mercenaries could not tell.
But they took a few steps back, as there were groups of men coming from the southern forest. They were certainly the Disciples of the Black Flames, their chains dragging across the ground and shrubs with metallic ringings from the chain links.
The bizarre sounds were clearly at odds with the supposedly tranquil forest.
— The attacks in the north are a distraction, while the enemies laid in the south to ambush them.
Everyone thought of the same thing. Lothar and Scarlett had clearly failed to stop the enemies in the north, but the mercenaries did not have the time to mourn for their losses, because they were also mired in danger as well. The mercenaries were experienced enough to recognize that the enemies had three times their numbers.
Redi gulped. Even though he was not afraid of death, but he felt suffocated to face such odds. Yula listened closely and also realized the danger they were in.
Buga growled, his voice low but powerful.
“Oh?” A flippant voice immediately came back, even sounding young: “Ser Buga, do you know of me personally? Would you like me to address you as the ‘Crosshand’, or are you Duke Lantonrand’s or Grand Duke Roan’s guard commander?”
The stone thrown by Conrad was like a ripple amongst the Grey Wolves Mercenaries. They looked back their vice-commander with stunned expressions. Even though they did not trust the enemies, they felt curious over the sudden information. Buga and Makarov did not react to Conrad’s words, while the latter even stuck out a hand to prevent Buga from doing anything rash.
“I did not think that the mercenaries of Paper Cards would work together with the infamous Tree Shepherds. I’m sure it would be terrible if words of your deeds are circulated to the masses.”
The forest turned silent.
Conrad had not expected Makarov to know the relationship between the Disciples of the Black Flames and the Tree Shepherds. He only replied with sarcasm after an afterthought: “As expected of the Cunning Fox of the past. You do know plenty.”
[That youth’s words are right.] (TL: Makarov is referring to Brendel.)
Makarov frowned deeply. He was actually confirming Brendel’s words, but he was also disregarding his men’s morale. In spite of that, he believed his men were not afraid to die in battle.
Mercenaries were men who risked their lives for coins. Although they were not as formidable as a formal army, they were still recognized as a force to be reckoned with in Vaunte.
“We should skip with the pleasantries, Ser Makarov.” Conrad walked out from his spot, although it was dark enough to only identity him as a young man. “I’m here to confirm only one thing. Is the only son of Duke Rhun with you presently?”
The mercenaries were once again stunned and stared at their commander. In their eyes, high nobles had nothing to do with them.
Makarov broke into sheer laughter: “Have you gone fucking insane? Leaving aside the face that I don’t understand what you are talking about, but even if I do, do you think I would bother to tell my enemies anything?”
But the young man’s reaction was merely to shake his head at Makarov’s sarcastic remarks—
“You shouldn’t put your foot down so firmly, Ser Makarov. Do you truly wish to see your faithful subordinates who followed you for over a decade to be put down like animals?” But he immediately shook his head: “But perhaps you are right. Your original status puts your far above them. It is a natural thing to fulfill your mission and abandon this baggage that is holding you back.”
“That’s enough, Conrad!” Buga snapped coldly at Conrad and shook his head. “We are all hired mercenaries. Do you think your taunts are going to affect our men? If you have any skills, then bring it out and show it to me. The worst fate that we can go through is merely death.”
Ther Grey Wolves Mercenaries immediately laughed. That was how it should be. They were already prepared to meet death in the battlefield, and Conrad’s little speech before they fought was something of a laughable thing.
It was especially so when they were facing their own kind. In order to show what they thought, they drew out their weapons, and there was a series of metallic noises created by the weapons in the forest.
============== Conrad POV ============
“This old fucking bastard.” Conrad took a few steps back and hid himself in the forest once again. He looked at the dying girl with long red hair who was covered with numerous wounds beside his feet. “This cunning fox Makarov is really hard to deal with. Unfortunately our target isn’t him, otherwise I wouldn’t waste my time to persuade this Royal Faction idiot.”
“If you already know he wouldn’t talk about it, why don’t you attack them right away?” There was a man who wore long black robes standing behind Conrad, quietly advising him with a low voice. Two red stripes were sewn onto both sleeves, and Brendel would have recognized the man as a ranked bishop in the Disciples of the Black Flames, and several ranks higher than the high ranking acolytes he had faced.
“We could have done that, but there are two groups of men within the Grey Wolves Mercenaries that are unaccounted for. Makarov is well known for his devious tactics.” Conrad spat the words out with a displeased expression. “He left a group of men to chase after Eke in the town. They really do know how to act like he was running away, but no matter how I look at it, this is a plan to distract us.”
“It might be possible that he really ran away.”
“It doesn’t matter. To make sure that nothing goes wrong, I have already left a Gold-ranked swordsman behind. Capot might hide his true skill, but he wouldn’t be able to go against my placed swordsman.”
“Then what else do you have to worry about?”
Conrad scoffed lightly. He crouched down and grabbed the girl’s hair, jerking her head up. Blood immediately flowed and trickled down her face.
Scarlett jerked slightly and groaned softly. She tried to see past the blood in her eyes to see who was in front of her, but the young man pulled her hair even higher and caused her to curl up in pain.
Conrad gave a devious grin: “The other group of missing mercenaries. The report says it’s a merchant along with two women protected by a group of twelve mercenaries. How am I supposed to believe such a ridiculous lie like that? Makarov has definitely planned something, but even if I can’t get him to talk, he can’t ensure his men to do the same.”
“Isn’t that right,” He stared at the girl who had breathing in shallow gasps: “Little girl?”
Scarlett seemed to realize her situation, gritted her teeth and turned her face away.