TL: Next chapter Sep 16/17.
Chapter 23 – Expansion (4)
Amandina listened to the faint sounds of the birds flapping away within the distant forest and felt a little shiver creeping up over her.
Jana stood beside her. Both stared silently ahead on top of the wooden walls, with the faint moonlight barely lighting up the trees’ silhouette.
Who knew what dangers lurked in the darkness? They could imagine the Subterrane Dwellers emerging from the forest, with their heavy footsteps crushing the dry branches with threatening snaps, burly figures appearing before them and sieging the lumber mill —
When the Subterrane Dwellers indeed emerged, there were thirty of them pursuing the mercenaries who had been sent out to investigate the forest. Jana had considered that point and sent out experienced riders so they could at least escape from the enemies, or so she thought.
The creatures were swiftly moving across the ground, and the mercenaries were not able to shake them off. If the humans somehow panicked and made a mistake by opening the fortress’s gate without dealing with the pursuers properly, they would rush in and hold the gates until their main army arrived.
Jana immediately reacted and ordered her men to open the gate to allow the riders to enter the lumber mill. She then yelled at the mercenaries on the wall.
“We’re hitting the Subterrane Dwellers, ready your crossbows now! Nock! Mark! Loose!” She roared.
The concentrated bolts struck the Subterrane Dwellers’ formation like an invisible whip, causing them to stumble and lose their footing. But as expected, the damage done to them was suspect. Amandina saw the fallen Subterrane Dwellers getting up once again, with only five or six casualties on their side.
She took in a cold breath. Even though she saw them in the afternoon, they were much further back and were not as close as they were now. She realized how ineffective the crossbows were.
When the creatures found that the riders were already in the lumber mill, they retreated without taking back their comrades’ corpses.
“They are definitely scouts,” Jana confirmed this point when she watched them retreat.
“They are probably the Subterrane Dwellers who guarded here this afternoon,” Amandina responded in a quiet voice.
“How do you know?”
“Their reactions to recover after they struck by the arrows was much faster compared to this afternoon.”
“It’s possible that the scouts know our tactics because those creatures told them what weapons were used.” Jana raised her eyebrow. Amandina had asked a basic question earlier, yet her insight was good for something that was harder to determine.
“Maybe so, but they also seemed like they know this area. The terrain is uneven in this area, and our riders appeared to be slightly hindered when retreating, yet the Subterrane Dwellers had no such problems.”
The two did not have time to discuss their arguments, as they spotted approximately a hundred-odd Subterrane Dwellers walking out from one side of the forest. The creatures marched along the shore and kept their distance from the lumber mill.
“What are they doing?” An inquisitive voice rang out behind the two women.
A face appeared between the two of them. Romaine’s round eyes were like a pair of glossy black gems, and they blinked curiously at the long string of enemies before them.
“Surrounding this place,” Amandina’s brows were furrowed: “It seems like they are going to wait for more to group up with them.”
“Are they slighting us? Hmph!” Jana was a little agitated as they moved into a snaking formation: “Perhaps we should get let the Nightsong Tiger lead our mercenaries out and attack them?”
She thought that the enemies’ inferior numbers would make for a great advantage if they attacked them now.
Amandina silently observed them with a little trepidation in her heart. They were sealing off possible exits and surrounding the lumber mill slowly. She calmed her nerves and shook her head: “It’s useless.”
“Doesn’t this mean they won’t attack us anytime soon if they are surrounding us. Isn’t this what we’re hoping for?”
“If we cut their strength down, we will have an easier time defending later,” Jana glanced at Amandina, noting her calm exterior and impressing her, but she nodded: “But you’re right. We’re going to face perhaps a thousand of these creatures, having a hundred more or hundred less has no difference. Honestly, I don’t have the confidence to take the enemies down in front of us completely despite outnumbering them……”
Amandina shook her head inwardly as she thought about Brendel’s words in the afternoon. There were three thousand Subterrane Dwellers, perhaps even more.
As she watched the creatures gather in greater numbers slowly, she reflected on Brendel’s prediction.
[Brendel said that it was possible for more than half of them to attack the lumber mill, but we should be able to hold our position as they are unused to sieging in open ground. I hope he’s right.]
She felt more and more anxious about his given plan, but she was unable to recall Brendel ever making any mistakes in his strategies.
================== Brendel’s POV ==============
When the moon was nearly at its highest, Brendel finally discovered his target. He narrowed his eyes and saw several Earth Spirit Bears surrounding a skinny Subterrane Dweller, which quickly disappeared amongst the army. He committed the estimated position in his mind.
It was just after midnight.
The Loxar’s Market card had reset. He tapped it again, entering 6 Wealth into his resources to reach 104. Once he was done with that, he studied the dark mountain valley. The amount of Subterrane Dwellers was staggering and split equally into three armies. Brendel guessed that more than half of them were residing within the the lumber mill’s underground tunnels and only emerged after his attack. He frowned when he looked at the number of long spears appearing like a wall of dense needles.
[The bad news is we have to search for our target in such a big army. Even if Scarlett and I hold Gold-ranked capabilities, it’s highly unrealistic we can move about freely when there are over a thousand Iron-ranked fighters in our way. The good news is that we’re not fighting in their underground tunnels.]
Brendel had fought against the Subterrane Dwellers with his allies back in the game. They went directly for their chieftain by searching the tunnels, and the result was getting lost for a whole week. Scarlett nearly repeated his old mistake by wanting to do the same thing.
He finally stood up and beckoned to her. She looked terribly bored as she tormented the grass in front of her.
“Let’s go,” Brendel said.
“We’re finally moving?” She looked up in a daze and asked, with Brendel nodding back.
The two slid down the slope quietly. The lush foliage seemed to cover their tracks, but the Subterrane Dwellers quickly detected their light footsteps a hundred meters away as they did not rely on sight but scents and sounds.
This sneak attack would have failed for any normal humans, but the duo could hardly be considered as such.
While the creatures took a few seconds to understand there was something out there, Brendel and Scarlett had closed the distance and appeared before several Earth Bear Spirits that were at the edge of the valley. The lumbering creatures stared blankly at the two humans for a few seconds before they bellowed, sending echoes throughout the valley—
A metallic grinding sound rang out as Brendel sliced the enemy’s morningstar whistling towards him into two with his sword; he then shifted his head slightly as the weapon hurled harmlessly behind him.
The Earth Bear Spirit who attacked him discerned that its attack failed and understood its opponents’ strength and howled guttural noises. The information spread quickly amongst the surrounding creatures, but they took time to comprehend the human’s power.
Brendel did not waste any time and drew a long horizontal line with his sword, unleashing his Arte. The wind pressure escaped from his blade, and sliced across the battlefield like a long scythe, mowing the Earth Bear Spirits first before it reached Subterrane Dwellers at the back. Blood spilled across the ground like rain as the gigantic monsters were minced into half at their abdomens from the repeating slashes, and the Subterrane Dwellers were blown away into the air before they crashed lifelessly onto the ground.
This single strike terrified the Underworld creatures. Even though the grading of power was different for them, but a Gold-ranked fighter was enough to awe them. The Subterrane Dwellers immediately wailed with fright and shock as they retreated backward like an ocean’s low-tide, although Brendel only heard meaningless noises from them.
[This is even more exaggerated than the game……]
Brendel perceived this to be similar to the game’s Morale bar. He did not expect that his single attack to have such a strong effect and it surprised him. But it was a good thing, and he immediately charged straight into the area where the creatures retreated, with Scarlett following closely behind him.
At this moment, the Witch Doctor Tagiv finally recognized the source of trouble to be two humans. It shook its race’s characteristically large head. It was angry and displeased at its subordinates in the beginning before it realized something was off.
[Two mere humans causing such chaos in my army that I gathered painstakingly— W-wait, what kind of speed is that! Those two are charging over to my direction!]
The echolocation from the various noises around Tagiv made it possible for the Witch Doctor to discern their location, and they had closed in dozens of meters to its position within mere seconds.
[This is a bad omen!]
Tagiv started to panic.