Chapter 9 – The first day.
It was just as Brendel had predicted, after the mercenaries defeated the scouting group of skeleton riders, the undead army did not find them. Brendel successfully led the refugees into the Silver Sparrow Mountain.
[The low level undead and vampires’ strength will drastically go down during the daytime. Until they completely vanquish the White-Mane army, they would not let the skeletons to advance all over the mountainous region. But at the same time, once they take hold of the graveyards in Fortress Riedon, their army will drastically increase. Based on the game, when Tarkus reached the northern area, Dragos, their army had already grown to a hundred thousand, 5 times the number of the entire Grinoires forces…]
Brendel pondered as he watched the refugees. The number of the refugees that joined them had grown to approximately five hundred, and along with them were horse carriages and mules carrying heavy luggage, and the entire length of the people was even half a kilometer long. Some of these refugees were even fortunate enough to find their lost relatives, and for a moment they felt there was hope.
Romaine had sneaked off during the daytime and moved off with her precious backpack. She was sitting on another carriage which was filled with luggage. A few kids were sitting there and listening to her story with wild eyes about how brilliant Brendel was throughout the whole journey.
She suddenly saw a man and woman riding towards her, and she lowered her head in fright.
Brendel only slept for three hours. That was the first time in these few days that he slept, but because of his constant worrying over the Madara’s army, he did not sleep well. Despite that, he quickly spotted someone familiar, and realized that the girl who was acting strangely was Romaine. He laughed and shook his head:
“Why did you sneak out?”
“I’m bored.” Romaine answered with a lowered head.
“It’s dangerous outside,” Freya frowned and glared at her best friend, her voice full of worry: “If there’s something that happened to you, how am I going to explain to aunt Jennie?”
“There’s nothing really dangerous here, I’m just telling them a story.” When Romaine said that, her eyebrows went up.
The brats nodded.
“I’m not talking about what you’re doing right now,” Freya sighed. “Do you know how bad things are right now?”
Brendel found it a little funny and asked: “What story are you telling them?”
“It’s about you.”
Brendel beckoned to her and asked her to come closer. The merchant girl paused slightly, but went to the edge of the carriage without suspecting him. However the youth grabbed her face with both of his palms and pinched both her cheeks firmly: You must listen to Freya and take care of yourself, okay?
Romaine was frightened to the point that she whined pitifully, trying to pry his hands off and raised both of her short eyebrows: “I. mmmf….. got it, l-let gooo!”
Then she ducked to the other corner of the carriage and watched him warily.
Brendel smiled inwardly as he felt the warmth remained in his fingers. But when he looked at Freya, she was full of envy. After she met his eyes, she immediately blushed and turned her head angrily and said: “S-shameless, I don’t care anymore…….”
She threw down this line and left, leaving a speechless Brendel behind and wondering what he did to offend that girl. As he stood there scratching his head, Leto and Mano came to find him.
They came to find him because they wanted to choose some men to make a militia group. The truth was, after entering the Silver Sparrow mountain, the surroundings had become increasingly complicated. There were many fir trees that blocked their vision, and besides the need to spot for Madara’s scouts, they also had to be alert against the bears and bristling wolves in this forest.
With the increasing number of refugees joining them, even if Brendel throw in all the riders to guard them, there might not be enough to defend them.
Furthermore, they had to send a few riders in a fan shaped direction to scout for the way ahead, their numbers were just too tight.
Fortunately, there were many who done militia training and they were willing to fight. With the distribution of the skeleton’s swords and their personal stock of weapons, they were able to equip fifty odd men. Leto and Mano arranged them to guard the flanks and rear, as well as having them to patrol the refugees to maintain order. However, even though it was easy on paper, implementing was actually troublesome. They spent the entire morning doing this. Leto wanted to report the outcome to Brendel.
But Mano wanted to talk about something else. He had gathered the armor pieces from the skeleton riders with Ciel, and wanted Brendel to take a look at the fragments.
Brendel inspected the broken fragments individually under the sun, then felt the inner layer, finally turning the fragments all around. He found the familiar sigil, an eye.
He placed the armor back onto Mano’s hand and said: “Looks like the scouts are from the [Undead Maggot]’s army, just like the history log—”
He suddenly realized Mano was looking at him in confusion, and he immediately coughed: “The Undead Maggot, Medes, is half zombie. As a leader of Madara’s army, he’s especially good at gathering numbers, but he likes to move in the night. If that time comes, you would be able to see a zombie army crawling all over the mountains.”
Leto and Mano looked at each other. They did not understand why Brendel knew so much about Madara, but he did not look like he was bragging, especially when there was no need to. He had already impressed them with yesterday’s night battle.
Suddenly Brendel stopped talking and looked at the sky. There were several black dots in the south-eastern skies, and he was uncertain they were mountain birds or Madara’s bone eagles. But he soon abandoned that thought.
They were under the cover of thick trees which severely limited their vision.
At the remaining years of the final era, between 421st and 426th years, the bone eagles filled the skies, and even when the players used flying dragons, they were unable to drive them back. That was when Madara was at its height, using overwhelming numbers as a strategy to the limits.
However with such few eagles, once they reach Hunting Deer Mountains with even thicker forests, even if they had one or two thousand refugees, they would not be discovered. This was why Brendel chose to go to the Silver Sparrow Mountain’s path instead of the river area which was far easier to move. He did not mention this alternate path as he was afraid of divided opinions amongst the mercenaries.
Even though he believed they wanted to help out the refugees, mentioning this was not a good idea—
Brendel thought for a while and continued. “Even though Medes likes to move in the night, he wouldn’t slack off in the day either. He would get elite ghouls and wights to hound the refugees. Their priorities however, should be on the White-Mane army, except they probably don’t know where Luc Beson is.”
[The worst outcome is we get discovered by the Bone Dragons. There should be three of them under Tarkus. If we moved towards a stretch of open area like a river valley or something…. But Tarkus would most likely stay in Fortress Riedon for a few days, since that place is the greatest obstacle while the area towards Dragos is unprotected…]
Brendel spoke as he looked into the direction of the river valley.
At this point, Brendel had become a rising star or a future leader amongst his peers in Leto and Mano’s eyes. Even the way how they looked at him as a noble was different from the usual ones they met.
Brendel had actually once tried to change Ciel’s way of addressing him, but after hearing the charming youth’s way of addressing him with a serious ‘My master’, he suddenly shivered, and silently acknowledged the title of ‘My lord’ instead.
After considering the issue, he could only attribute this problem as a ‘Default Factory Settings’.
No additional problems occured after the security issue was settled in the morning. However, the number of refugees became bigger and bigger. Groups of refugees escaped from the river valley’s direction, and brought about news of the Madara’s army.
Brendel had predicted correctly. Medes army of ghouls and wights combined their forces along with Kabias’s skeletal army and fought intensely with the White-Mane army, and Brendel estimated that they would have an outcome only in the evening.
The number of refugees had expanded to approximately a thousand. In the middle of their journey, Brendel had allowed them to stop and make a meal. It was fortunate that these refugees that escaped from the north of Fortress Riedon had sufficient time to gather necessities and food as Madara’s army concentrated their forces in the other three directions, and Brendel did not need to think about the lack of food.
But even so, he had also considered his choice properly. The forest in the Hunting Deer Mountain was a place filled with resources. The different types of animals were plentiful and there was an abundance of fruits and mushrooms. If they tried to gather these resources, even though it might be difficult to support one or two thousand people, they would not starve.
In the afternoon around three pm or so, the scouts ahead brought news for Brendel, however, this was not about Madara—
Someone requested to see him.