Chapter 83 – Ambush
TL: Tirste is one of the important members of the Unifying Guild and nearly killed Brendel during their first encounter with each other.
================ Tirste’s POV ================
As the beginning of winter approached, the forest of the Patalone region became devoid of life and the trees turned bare, but the creepy atmosphere made it seem as though monsters were lurking at each side of the main road.
The sounds of galloping horses could be heard from afar; eleven knights soon appeared and parted the thick milky mist and invaded the silent morning.
In order to maintain a certain speed, the riders allowed their mounts to run at a slower pace. Their destination was still a hundred miles away and they had to preserve the stamina of their horses.
All the riders, except one who had a long black robe completely covering him, wore a full set of heavy armor and were armed with swords and crossbows that occasionally peeked out from their cloaks. They were highly alert and their eyes constantly darted around them.
There were wild beasts that still lurked in the forest.
The riders continued to advance and soon reached a small river. The river’s surface had not turned into ice yet and the surface was glittering in the day’s light.
When they reached toward the bridge that crossed the river, the leader of the riders suddenly raised his hand in vigilance and they pulled their reins to halt the horses.
The same leader cut through the air with the same hand to his left and right, indicating that there were people ambushing the two areas. He turned his horse around and pulled out his sword that hung from his waist.
The riders quickly assembled into a circular formation around the person with the black robes to protect him. Their quick and orderly actions proved they were well-trained, and even the veteran scouts from Aouine’s armies would not do better than them.
And with the actions of the riders, the forest also shuffled noisily. Cleverly hidden soldiers started pouring out from the foliage. They wore decorated leather armor, which implied they were private soldiers working under a noble. Each carried different weapons; axes, sword and shield, even crossbows.
The people who ambushed them launched a forceful assault when they realized they had been made, but the riders reacted more quickly and fired their crossbows at them.
The rider with the black robes was an exceptional marksman; he deftly equipped himself with the crossbow hanging from his waist and shot bolts at the attackers as they emerged from the foliage, reloading and firing with incredible speed.
The riders around him were skilled at shooting as well. Many of their bolts found their marks in the enemies’ throats as the soldiers rushed toward the main road.
The remainder of the soldiers were smart enough to take cover behind boulders and advanced slowly, waiting for the riders’ projectiles to run out.
After the momentary cat-and-mouse game they had, the riders ran out of ammunition, and the soldiers rushed at them once again.
The riders suddenly took out hand axes and flung them into the midst of the attackers. Screams echoed throughout the vicinity as some of the axes pierced across their faces but did not end their lives immediately. Birds further away from the battle took to the air as the commotion frightened them.
While it was true that another row of the soldiers went down from the unexpected attack—
“Quickly, overwhelm them! They are out of projectiles!”
“There’s no way they can win against our numbers!”
The air that was filled the stench with rusted iron from the blood spatters only made the soldiers bloodthirsty. The soldiers were nearly ten times the riders’ numbers and they were determined to finish off their enemies, even if they had to suffocate the riders by piling on them.
Yet the riders who faced the soldiers remained calm, and the latter was perhaps further agitated by their behavior. They started to hurl insults at them.
The soldiers soon realized their opponents were far more powerful than they could have ever imagined.
When the riders pulled out their swords, the battlefield took on a dramatic turn. The white mist swiveled around them as they swung their swords at the impulsive ambushers.
The soldiers who stood behind their brethren were soaked in the blood and fat that rained across the ground. Limbs and flesh decorated the feet of the riders; the body parts were somehow turned into a wall that stopped the advance of the soldiers.
The latter had been told their enemies were knights, but they were not informed that each was an elite Silver-ranked swordsman.
The soldiers further at the back continued to push forward, but quickly realized they were facing opponents who were like death reapers.
In just a few seconds, their morale was completely shattered. A third of their forces had been cut down as soon as they approached the knights.
Once their heads cooled down, they realized how terrifying their enemies were and retreated faster than when they charged at them—
The battle was soon over.
The leader of the knights stopped and took in a deep breath, inhaling the scent of the blood-soaked ground and cold winter air. He raised his hand to stop his knights from pursuing them.
He had lost count of the number of times they were ambushed. Pursuing them was meaningless as there were no targets of value. It was more important for them to finish their mission.
They dismounted to inspect the area and a few cleaned their swords by rubbing on the corpses’ clothes before sheathing them.
No one spoke during the process and there were only the occasional stomps from the horses.
The leader of the knights swept the area with his dark grey eyes. He looked at the corpses but did not find any specific insignia on them. Neither did he find any flags.
He pulled back his hood, revealing a middle-aged man, and signaled to the rider with the black robes to indicate that it was safe. The latter also revealed himself by pulling back his hood.
The person wearing black robes was Viscount Tirste.
The youth’s face was considerably thinner than it was a month ago and had almost turned to a pallid complexion, though his green eyes were still as bright as before.
“This is probably the last ambush.” The youth’s voice was shockingly low and forced, as though his throat had been pierced several times to produce an incredibly hoarse tone.
He coughed once, almost as if to show how difficult it was for him to speak.
“Do you have any idea who has been attacking us?” The middle-aged man asked.
“These are his men?” The middle-aged man was slightly taken aback. “Isn’t that bastard trying to play nice with us?”
“Nobles are two-faced knaves,” Tirste said with a shrug, “so you shouldn’t expect much from me either. I will stab you in the back if there’s a chance.”
The middle-aged man laughed: “Well, that’s not surprising. But there’s no need to remind me of trust, since my men are the only people I trust.”
Tirste did not bother to look at him again and was about pull his hood to cover himself once again. However, his actions froze at that very moment.
There was a ray of green light within the forest, and his face contorted in alarm.
“Over there, watch out!” He roared and pointed into the forest with his sword.
The middle-aged man immediately turned around with his sword ready, only to find that a green light striking his chest.
[What is this mag–]
His thoughts were cut off and his puzzled expression was forever turned into stone in that instant. Tirste and the other knights watched the commander turn into a statue before their very eyes.
[That crazy monster has once again caught up with me!]
Tirste’s heart raced as he realized the nightmare that was torturing and haunting him, was once again before him.
He wanted to lift the reins and urge his horse to run away, but it was as though his hands were filled with lead and did not listen to his panicked commands.
There seemed to be a gigantic humanoid covered in a full suit of emerald-green armor ‘walking’ out from the forest, but the distance between that monster and the knights was dwindling like magic.
The bizarre attack on their commander and manner of approach confused them.
Were they supposed to take out their swords and rush at it? But how were they supposed to fend off that strange attack when they did not even get a glimpse of how it started? Even if they wanted to form a plan to see if they could take revenge for their commander, they had to at least know what they were facing.
The knights pulled out their swords but did not know whether to attack or retreat.
The monster continued to move towards Tirste. The latter who was a Gold-ranked swordsman uttered a weak voice that was more like a groan:
The monster was nearly in attacking range.
One of the knights finally could not handle the pressure, mounted his horse and charged towards the strange humanoid with a brandished sword. But the attack made by the knight was stopped with a single hand. The knight was then flung into the air along with his horse, breaking several pine trees in the process before they smashed onto the ground without further movements.
The sudden display of strength shocked everyone, but the knights finally recovered their senses and also charged towards the emerald monster with naked blades. However, that strange emerald armor that had countless patterns and mottlings suddenly shone and created a barrier around him, stopping the blades from even touching the armor.
It was Damascus Armor, plated armor that was forged with rare metals and infused with extremely potent magic. It defended against magic spells and even isolated physical attacks.
Even when Aouine was at its strongest, there were only a few suits of armor made with the efforts of the royal alchemists, wizards, and blacksmiths. Their numbers were scarce, and the people who owned them were definitely influential.
The knights staggered and tried to guess the identity of the monster. Unfortunately, they did not realize that their time was limited. Tirste had not warned them of what the monster was capable of, and the knights were gradually turned into stone, be it their suits of armor or even Magic Swords.
A few discovered the strange phenomenon and immediately discarded their swords but it was useless. In a few seconds, the knights were completely turned into rock statues.
Tirste felt his sanity crumbling when he saw this situation, but found that he was still able to piece coherent thoughts together even when the emerald monster was before him. He desperately wanted it to be a dream that he could wake up from.
Strangely enough, that monster merely raised his head and stared at him through a helmet. He did not speak or attack and simply stood there without moving.