TL: Next chapter in an hour or so.
Chapter 15 – The battle for the sawmills (2)
It had been one hour since Brendel and his men entered the forest.
The bows’ strings could be heard through the wind, and very soon the mercenaries cheered loudly as they dragged a few corpses from the bushes.
They were pale yellow creatures with their bodies protruding with large tumors. Their head was like a large bald mass with smooth waxy skin. There was no nose or eyes and seemed to lack them, but under their skin folds hid thousands of sensory organs to smell and listen with, enabling them to fare a hundred times better in the darkness compared to a human. It was expected from a creature from the underworld.
When the mercenaries inspected them, they realized that their arrows had only caused skin-deep damage, while the fatal injury was on each of their chests. It was a large hole that penetrated through their body, with the edges on it burned black. A few mercenaries recognized the injury caused by the ‘Dragon Knights’. When Brendel rode over, the mercenaries parted and turned around, looking at him with respect and fear.
Brendel studied the Subterrane Dwellers. Their mouths were open wide like sharks, and the interior was filled with tiny jagged teeth. The blood that leaked out was green in color.
They were different from warm-blooded creatures and were actually a subtype of lizards. He would have preferred coming back during winter to deal with them since their activities would be much smaller, but time was of the essence. Still, the weather was cool enough to affect them. He bade the mercenaries to turn them over, and observed their rigid claws holding onto their long spears.
“They are the lower caste amongst the Subterrane Dwellers.” The Nightsong said as he studied the bodies as well: “It seems like they have put their elites in their inner defenses. The deeper we go in, the stronger the resistance will be.”
[But it is a good thing. Monsters that progressed from weak to strong like a traditional RPG means it’s a natural caste system in the game. If it’s segmented like an army where there’s a captain leading the outposts, it’s a full military organization. Since it’s not, we’re most likely dealing with a splintered tribe or remnants which are gathered under a strong individual. This is a normal mob zone and not some dungeon elites.]
He was apprehensive to find the situation as a planned invasion from a large tribe or even a full-on invasion from an entire faction. There would be times where the Underworld’s citizens would hanker after the surface’s resources. Even though the underworld had even richer resources, it was even harsher there.
“We might meet their warriors and elites called ‘Camlu’. The latter means ‘Warrior’ in their language, and are something like a military officer. They are just one step below Silver-ranked fighters and are the strongest fighters amongst the Subterrane Dwellers. However, I’m certain we can take them on without any trouble.” He remarked to the three commanders near him.
The mercenaries combed the entire area and brought out over twenty corpses. Brendel calculated his XP he received, and it was a match to the number of creatures killed. They were quickly killed under the attacks from the Dragon Knights. Because the spiders utilized the flow of the wind, they were perfect counters to the Subterrane Dwellers who had to rely on their sense of smell and hearing.
With the surrounding eyes eliminated one by one, Brendel and his men progressed smoothly into the forest. Three hundred mercenaries did their best to move in silently, but a few carelessly trod onto dry sticks and caused a loud snapping sound from time to time. They nervously snapped their heads to their surroundings, but there were only unknown birds that beat their wings as hard as possible.
The wizards who were placed in the center found the situation to be intriguing. They were used to being the first target of ambushes. Anyone would recognize their importance in a battlefield. Their defense capabilities were low, and their high value made them the favorite targets of scouts. They were used to injury and frequently stood between the lines of life and death, all while witnessing their comrades killed in front of them because they defended them.
The only target that exceeded their importance was the commanding officer, but they were less susceptible to ambushes because of their skill.
As the mercenaries continued to walk through the forest without incident and continued to make the Subterrane Dwellers’ scouts disappear, they started feeling it was more like an exhibition trip. This could only be the miracle of their lord.
Ever since the denizens of the Silver Bloodline imparted their mysterious techniques to the mortals, the latter had formed a deep impression of respecting the powerful. They started remembering that Brendel and Ciel frequently discuss matters together in the city and whispers started passing around.
Meetings between wizards were an exchange of information and power, and this was gradually called as ‘The meeting of the Golden Duo’.
But Brendel was quite different from the elegant image they had in their minds. He was repeatedly grumbling in his mind, as he calculated the amount of EP he had to spend in maintaining the Holy Sword card.
Even though the results from the spiders were impressive, the price to pay was 13 Earth EP for each round of attacks he made. He checked his reserves and discovered his 32 EP had dwindled down to 7 EP.
He frowned and immediately called for the guide to come over to him.
The guide came before him and realized Brendel was a little upset. He thought he had done something wrong to incur his wrath and asked uneasily: “My lord, is there something you need?”
“How long more to our destination?” Brendel asked with a little impatience in his voice.
The spell could only last for another five minutes before he needed to pay the maintenance again. He was going to give up on it and allow the Holy Sword card to return to his deck, planning to use it only when it was necessary, preferably at night or early morning against the retaliation that would happen after the upcoming battle.
The guide was visibly relieved upon hearing the reply: “Very soon, my lord. Once we cross this part of the forest, we would be able to see it. This particular sawmill is constructed in the river to utilize a water powered saw, and—”
His words were suddenly interrupted by a strange bird call. Brendel turned his head in front of him and saw the mercenaries had stopped and laid on the ground. It was a warning from the furthest mercenaries in front, and they continued to gesture with their hands.
They found the enemies.
He was slightly surprised. He had allowed the spiders to move autonomously, and if there was no reaction or XP coming in, it meant that the Dragon Knights had encountered an obstacle that did not allow them to kill in a single strike, and thus they obeyed his second order to hide.
He dismounted and walked over to the edge of the forest. The three mercenaries’ commanders, the Nightsong Tiger, Amandina, Scarlett, and Romaine all dismounted and followed him. There was no cautiousness in the merchant girl’s eyes, and were filled with curiosity instead.
The density of the trees was becoming thinner, and Brendel quickly reached the forest’s edge.
“My lord!” The mercenary stood at attention and said. He turned his head and saw his commander, Cornelis, nodding to him.
Brendel studied the environment. It was a steep slope leading downwards to the river bank. The sawmill was across the river with a few wooden houses nearby; it considerably large for its size, but it had changed significantly from its original appearance.
The Subterrane Dwellers had turned it into a fortress.
They stacked boulders against the river’s direction and erected a tall wooden wall, along with a watchtower. Within the fortress were countless large holes and soil packed into a corner. He counted the holes and estimated approximately two hundred Subterrane Dwellers were living there.
“They have quite the numbers. It’s a difficult battle.” Jana frowned, glancing at Brendel and worried that he would make the order to force them to attack.
But Brendel did not answer. He studied the patrolling squadrons near the river. Each squadron was led by a Subterrane Dweller with dark-red colored skin. They were Camlu, and launching an attack might cause them to retreat to their fortress and waste their advantage of a sneak attack. He turned to Amandina and the Nightsong Tiger: “What do you two think?”
“You can use our old method of dealing with them.” The Nightsong Tiger answered.
[Hold it, Nightsong Tiger, relay your method to me through our thoughts. This is also a test for the three commanders I have.]
Brendel gave the slightest nod after the Nightsong Tiger explained in detail. He then cast his eyes on Raban and Scarlett briefly.