Chapter 03: Wind God
Ri Gudang chose to use a detour to march towards the east since it gave him an advantage.
They were marching along a narrow path in the forest.
This road was almost in the lizardmen territory, and the 2,000 former mercenaries led by Ri Gudang were advancing along it.
There weren’t any bandits amongst them. They couldn’t take a group of low-trained men with them on a covert military operation. Besides, they had a more suitable mission.
Ri Gudang went to great pains to keep the number of times his bandits went out plundering to give Draco the illusion that his forces were dwindling. Stock would reduce if they took a lot. He had been preparing for a long-distance military operation by pretending that their numbers had been reduced and by storing the food they plundered in the bandit city, Catania.
Though this caused the bandits under his command to starve. He could understand their frustration whenever he looked at them. He would unleash that. Drawn arrows must be unleashed. There are about 4,000 violent bandits rushing towards Draco’s sphere of influence. Alunaha would become an empty city since Draco would need to dispatch everyone he had to deal with the bandits.
It was a well thought out strategy.
Ri Gudang didn’t have a large castle city to rely on, so this strategy was essential for taking Draco’s head, and he was willing to make the people weep to take Draco’s head.
“How is everything going, Cartier?”
“Everything is going well. We’re lucky that Draco treats his people well.”
His second-in-command, Cartier, the harpy, oversaw all the cargo. Her duties included ‘procuring provisions’, in other words, plundering. The bandits were rampaging to distract Draco and make them overlook this place.
An army was a burden.
The soldiers required three meals a day. The soldiers’ strength would deteriorate if he cut down their meals to two times a day for a short period of time. A soldier’s muscular body was always in need of nourishment, and they were always hungry.
An army could also be described as a large animal going on an eating spree. During the harvest season, the army reaps the crops from the fields and when it isn’t, they ravage villages in their path.
At least, this was the norm in the northern part of the Demon Realm where Cartier grew up.
“The villages have rice stored in their warehouses in case of emergency.”
“I don’t see what could be more pressing than being plundered.”
Ri Gudang laughed loudly.
All the 2000 soldiers who were with him had fiery eyes. They have all been called ‘bandits’ and have been living a hard life together for a long time. He wanted to show them Draco’s head and reward them somehow, but they needed to win for him to do so.
Certain victory. Yes, certain victory.
He will take advantage of the <Succubus Princess’s> foolish plan for now and would someday take the head of that ‘evil woman’, but he wanted to concentrate on taking Draco down for now.
He hadn’t revealed this to his commander, Safort, but Palmyra was assisting him this time. Palmyra had provided him with food and supplies since the food and supplies that the bandits gathered wasn’t enough. Cartier, the leader of the transport, was probably the only person who was aware of this.
But that wasn’t the only support that the <Succubus Princess> Palmyra was providing. She said that she had presented Draco with a beautiful maiden to poison him. She said it was a slow-acting poison which was hard to detect. It was the way the cowardly shapeshifters did things, but he wouldn’t meddle with her methods if it benefited him.
Draco would see through it. Ri Gudang was sure he would.
The <Dethroned Crown Prince> wasn’t someone who could die from Palmyra’s poison. Instead, Draco would pretend to have been tricked. Ri Gudang was sure of this as well. And he would even spread false rumours to deceive his allies. They both knew how the other would act.
But then, an opening appeared.
Not all of the enemies’ generals acted like Draco. Some of them may even become restless when they hear their lord has fallen ill. He would exploit that opening or lack of it. That was why he had 2,000 soldiers with him and used 4,000 bandits as decoys.
There was also the Evil God, Okri. Using him was an ironclad strategy.
The road continued to move slowly southward but suddenly turned west.
They would be able to reach Alunaha if they continued westward. Ri Gudang’s army with a 500-strong vanguard who were led by the Night Demon, Safort, was solemnly digesting their route.
“Message! There is a river in front of you, Ri Gudang-sama!”
It was when the sun had slightly passed the highest point in the sky that a message from Safort came rushing to Ri Gudang. It was hot and humid in the forest in the daytime, and the messenger was wiping his sweat from his face as he reported the situation.
“A river? Should we cross it?”
“Yes. The bottom of the river is shallow, and the current isn’t that strong, but there are some places where it is deep. Safort-sama said he could find a safe passage for us to cross if you give him a little time.”
“Alright. Tell Safort to continue the survey. Also, I want all the soldiers to take a break. We’ve been walking since sunrise. We’ll have our lunches here too.”
The 2,000 soldiers relaxed. Every single one of them understood that this was a secret operation. They didn’t panic but moved quickly. The contradictory orders made the troops with high morale extremely tense, but they were relaxed now.
The second message reached Ri Gudang at the moment when the order to take a break had reached all soldiers.
“Message! Enemies on boats are travelling south on the river! Their numbers are unknown! Safort-sama is currently engaged in battle with them!”
His body moved before he could think.
<Blue> Dadda jumped off the boat after drawing his sword from his waist. The armed Night Demons were looking at him dumbfoundedly. They weren’t allies. Are they Ri Gudang’s troops?
He yelled fiercely as he slashed one of the vanguards. The spurt of blood that came gushing out of the wound stained his blue fur red.
“Get off the boats, you bastards! Werebears, charge!”
All 200 werebears jumped off the boats at once under Dadda’s roaring command.
It was a complete coincidence that they had met the enemy at the intersection of a river and a small road that cut through the large forest. For surprise encounters, how quickly one recovers from their confusion can make the difference between winning and losing. So far, the werebears seem to have the upper hand.
“Stop them! Keep pushing them back!”
Dadda pushed back the enemy line with his 200 men while thrusting his sword at the nearest enemy.
There was no need to think too hard. This was just like a brawl. Strike your enemy at the beginning of the encounter and make them lose their will to fight. That was the best way to deal with surprise encounters, and Dadda just had to do this as an army.
The road was narrow.
The enemy shouldn’t be able to move his troops freely in this narrow path no matter how many troops they had. So, they could keep most of the soldiers at bay.
On the other hand, Dadda would be in danger if he doesn’t push them. Dadda only had 200 men and they had a shallow river at their backs. Night Demons are famous for being powerful. It would be difficult for them to regroup if they were pushed back into the river.
One by one. They must kill as many as they can before the enemy soldiers can regain their composure.
Dadda was on his way back to Alunaha since he heard that Draco had fallen ill. He would work together with Lu Gun to strengthen Alunaha’s defences. He was afraid that Ri Gudang or Palmyra would attack while Draco was bedridden.
But then, he ran into the enemy. It was too good to be true.
“… This, too, is a blessing from Hirano-sama and Edward-sama.”
Dadda recalled how it felt to have divine will in his hand as he cut off the head of a retreating Night Demon. He had enemies he had to defeat, and he had his sword. That explained everything. This was the will of the Evil Gods and Dadda’s role was to destroy the enemy.
Werebears with swords, werebears with battleaxes and werebears with sticks. All of his men had excellent bloodthirsty expressions on their faces. Dadda had gathered the werebears who were scattered throughout the forest and had trained them into elites.
The werebears responded to his command.
He shouted at the top of his lungs and took a step forward. Weak. Blood splashed into the air and another step forward. He led by example. <Blue> Dadda, the hero of the werebears, was at the front of the line, showing his fellow werebears how to kill.
Another step. There was a little resistance this time. Squinting, he saw a Night Demon in the back giving the other Night Demons a pep talk. He must be the general of this unit. Should he give his head as a souvenir to Alunaha?
At the same time, the composed part of Dadda was waiting for the right opportunity.
He could see goblins with spears line up in formation behind that Night Demon. This was a large army. At least 1,000 or 2,000. It only made Dadda feel self-satisfied no matter how many Night Demons he pulverised in the vanguard.
He pushed the enemies once again, then Dadda took half a step back and slashed the enemy below the knee with his sword as if to counteract the force of his enemy pushing back. The tottering Night Demon bent backwards and the Night Demon behind him fell.
“To the boards, you bastard! To the boats!”
Dadda quickly ordered his soldiers to retreat as if that had been his plan from the start. He knew first-hand that every battle had its own knack. It was a feeling he had acquired when he nearly died. He could inflict more damage even on the Night Demons if he went melee, but now wasn’t the time to do that. He just had to strike them once and run away.
Retreating took less time than he expected. They had enough room to fall back in an orderly fashion since they had pushed the enemy back. The enemy general seemed to be cursing Dadda but he didn’t care. In battles, everything can be turned upside down by luck even if both sides are equal. Dadda just happened to be lucky this time.
Dadda got onboard after confirming that all his men had boarded the boat. No one was chasing after them thanks to their intimidation. Though, even if they wanted to chase after Dadda and his men, they were going downstream, and there was no way for the enemy to catch up to them.
“But this has gotten troublesome. Ri Gudang has made his move.”
Ri Gudang’s only target was Alunaha. The boat was moving fast enough for him to get to Alunaha first, but that unit wouldn’t be the only enemy. Another unit may have already surrounded Alunaha.
“We must hurry back to Alunaha!”
The sailor Gonane nodded. The 20 flat-bottomed boats holding 10 werebears each increased their speed towards Alunaha.