Chapter 152 – The Winter of Wolves arrives
“No, it’s nothing.” Wydall suddenly became conscious of something and turned away.
“What’s wrong?” Amandina, who was nearby, felt there was an odd atmosphere in the air and asked.
Brendel turned to her and saw that she was wearing an additional robe to keep herself warm.
“The arbor near one of the Green Tower’s watch towers; it is also the hometown of many Centaurs. But the Fire Seed there did not activate.”
“Ah—” She looked at the Centaur Elder’s back with a little sympathy: “But how did you know that, my lord?”
“Do you not remember the words from our Tree Elf guide from the Blackthorn Council? He just told us yesterday morning.”
“T-that’s……” Amandina’s eyes widened a little as she recalled: “But it was just a fleeting moment and we got interrupted by the wolves. You remembered it so easily?”
Brendel hurriedly faked inspecting his sword to avoid laughing at the earnest girl’s admiration. In truth, he already knew where it was in the game. It might be just as likely that he did not remember what their guide said.
“In any case, we need to cease the chatter.” His eyes and tone suddenly became serious.
“The wolves are here.”
It was difficult to see ahead because of the light being blocked by the flying debris, though flashes illuminated the Dark Forest whenever there was a Mana Flare. There were no sun, moon, or stars that could be seen.
If one were to look from afar, it seemed like the Fire Seeds were the only sources of light left in this world.
[The Fire Seeds are moving. Even though there were thousands of gamers defending the area back then, only the top gamers went for Valhalla. This sight reminds me of the videos. Twenty-odd pillars of light moving towards the center of the Loop of Trade Winds. They ultimately succeeded in the end. But now there is only me.]
He quickly adjusted himself. Now was not the time to question whether he could succeed. Flecks of silver darted across the trees several miles when he glanced at his surroundings.
The Winter Wolves.
It had been nearly ten hours of traveling after their short rest from defeating the Black Wolves. They were very near the entrance of the Karanjar mountain range. The interlaced mountains looked like soldiers standing on opposite sides, with the geography of the area steep and difficult to traverse. But once they passed through the entrance, they would have cleared the first hurdle.
Based on the group’s speed, the youth estimated they needed at most an hour to reach that place.
[The gamers coined it the Blockade of Wolves. It’s also the most dangerous position in the entire journey.]
He took out his pocket watch while observing the increasing number of Winter Wolves.
[We’re ahead of time. There are ninety more minutes before the second wave of wolves truly starts. If they gather at that mountain pass, it will really become a blockade.]
The armies slowly crossed over the last peak and valley of the mountain range. A few Winter Wolves dashed out from the snow from time to time, and the centaurs’ arrows greeted them. Brendel’s alarm system that consisted of his summons gave him ample time to inform the centaurs of any larger pack of wolves, though its primary purpose was to detect the Loop of Trade Winds’s boss.
The Black Wolf Garurumon’s name did not take off amongst his men as they considered it to be the most dreadful name they heard. Thus they disregarded his ‘Garurumon has detected a pack of Winter Wolves!’ comments and decided amongst themselves to call it a Shadow Wolf.
The smaller groups of Winter Wolves that were unfortunate to encounter his Fireclaw Lizardmen ended up dead, but if there were any group of wolves that had the size of a horde, they were allowed to enter the alarm system.
The Centaurs could still afford to have a certain number of casualties from fighting against the wolves, but if there was an opening in his system, and the mysterious boss sneaked into his group, it would not be a problem of running away from it, because it’s the end of the road for every one of them.
The Winter Wolves were dangerous Silver-ranked monsters. They were more like white Spectrals that dashed with the wind. Powerful howls could be heard as a few dashed across the snow like lightning. Their jaws were bigger than the Black Wolves and leg muscles rippled when they ran, and each of them was as big as a horse. They were strong enough to break trees easily with a light smash, and Silver-ranked soldiers were like ordinary fragile mortals in front of them.
Not too long ago, one of the Winter Wolves barged into the knights of Aouine’s ambassadors’ defense, and even though the ten-odd knights surrounded and attacked the monster, it managed to bite one of them to his death.
But the true reason why they were dangerous and seen as Spectres, was because they had gained a partial amount of Frost Element Power. Their claws were imbued with a deep cold, and a weak slice across skin or armor would freeze the entire body. They could also breathe out mist from several meters away, turning one’s blood to ice.
The only fortunate thing that came when facing this creature, was that the Winter Wolves did not have a Warg lording over them. Legend depicted the Wolf of Calamity, Hroovitnisson, killed the Winter Warg to become the King of the Forest, and from then onwards, the Wolf King no longer allowed the Winter Wolves to have a Warg.
In the game, the gamers knew that the strongest creature from the Winter Wolves subtype was the Winter Direwolf. These mini-bosses gathered packs of wolves and huddled together to become a horde.
These monsters seemed to know their weakness as well, and hunt their preys with at least four or five packs of wolves. With at least a hundred Winter Wolves commanded by seven or eight Winter Direwolves, they were a threat to the borders of any kingdom in the continent, let alone Aouine.
During Brendel and his men’s journey to their destination, a third of the thirty to forty pillars of light from the Fire Seed were extinguished. And it was not hard to understand what it meant for the light to disappear.
The Centaurs encountered more and more resistance. Everyone was starting to become gloomy and worried. The Winter Wolves were actually rarely seen in the Dark Forest, but they were the most common threat in the northern Kirrlutz Empire. Wydall’s eyebrows were knitted so tightly together that they bulged out. They could handle them initially when the arrows killed most of the charging wolves, but as more and more appeared, they had to fight in a melee battle which resulted in harsh injuries.
[This is bad— There’s one here in Aouine who’s proficient in fighting the Winter Wolves!]
Austin could not help but break out into cold sweat despite the freezing weather. There was hardly anyone in Aouine who had experience in dealing with the Winter Wolves, and it extended to the Centaurs and Tree Elves. He had been to the Kirrlutz Empire when he was young and fought against the Winter Wolves twice by luck, but it was better than nothing.
With that thought in mind, he started to move towards the Centaurs and request to take over the command.
But there was a youthful shout and sudden change in the formation that stopped him. Brendel was already next to Wydall, along with Scarlett and Kodan in the frontlines. And it only took a few seconds before the grim situation was overturned.
“Stop for seven seconds! Move back and ensure you’re at least ten feet away from the Winter Wolves!” Brendel’s command made the Centaurs and Tree Elves retreat: “Now! Fire where my arrow flies!”
He shot out an arrow with his longbow, and a second later, a concentrated volley of arrows decimated the pack of wolves that were breathing out chilling gales of frost. Quinn could not help but marvel at the impeccable timing, but Brendel barked out his next order. The Centaurs divided the pack by flanking them with arrows, then charged them with their lances, lowering their numbers by a quarter.
Even though the wolves were powerful monsters, their defense was greatly lacking. Each counterattack on them heavily wounded them or killed them outright. If the monsters decided to charge at the Centaurs, a wall of lances was quickly formed along with invoked thorny vines.
With the youth leading the armies, the Winter Wolves were unable to gain the first strike.
[I got somewhere in the vicinity of a million XP in the game killing these wolves. It was one of the most boring things to do, ever. If I don’t beat the shit of them in this battle, I might as well give up on getting Valhalla now.]
He fought against countless varieties of monsters and knew them well over the hundred years in the game, just like many other gamers did and exploited their weaknesses. It was even expected for them to know how to beat the monsters and not be a dead weight to their allies.
But now he was the only person in this parallel world with a crossover history, and a strange carpet had been weaved underneath his feet.
The wolves that suffered a massive loss finally retreated far away and howled with malicious rage. Austin could not believe his eyes and stared in disbelief. His hand that gripped his sword tensely was subconsciously removed.
[I-isn’t this is the standard tactics of the White Army of Fallen Frost?]
Out of a sudden, the aging general recalled meeting the veteran soldier from the Kirrlutz Empire during his youth. The latter taught him the very same tactics, but in his eyes, the youth actually surpassed his teacher in terms of effectiveness.
============= ??? POV =============
Several miles away from the battlefield, a man was standing on top of a mountain’s peak and observed the battle with an impressed sigh.
His appearance could be stated as still young and gentlemanly-looking, but his neatly combed hair that reached his shoulders was turning ashen-white. There was a massive greatsword on his back that nearly reached his height, and he wore an ordinary grey robe that made him appear unassuming.
His grey-brown eyes moved faintly and had a hint of doubt in them.