Chapter 816 - Initial Defeat
After I logged on, I appeared in the Central Tent of the Royal Army Garrison. I could hear the clamoring of soldiers running around and horses stomping across the grounds. When I walked out of the tent, I could see that quite a few of the tents had already been taken down. In the distance, Han Yuan pointed his spear, sending a unit of Spear Soldiers out. Han Yuan on the other hand seemed to be changing his weapon all the time. There was no helping it though. The ironsmiths of the empire were actually all pretty average. Not to mention the fact that the iron ore that they mined were filled with impurities that hadn’t been refined. The NPC weapon quality was far lower than it was for the players. As such, their blades broke very easily. A warrior like Han Yuan could fight with anything — he was a master in all types of weapons and blades after all.
“General, you’re here!”
Han Yuan walked over and reported, “Most of our troops have already arrived at Tian Ling City. There’s a large stage set up there for the Flame Dragon Army and the Royal Army to address the troops…”
I pursed my lips, “Alright then, let’s set out now before we miss the ceremonies.”
A unit of horsemen all mounted their horses and followed me towards Tian Ling City. In the distance, I could see a golden stage appear above the horizon, just outside of the city. King Rob, Theodore, and Owen had all arrived. By the time Han Yuan, Long Xing, I and the other generals arrived, a herald shouted, “The Commander of the Royal Army, the General of the South, General Li has arrived!”
King Rob stood up, “Now that everyone is here, let us begin!”
A group of soldiers placed a ram’s head on the stage altar. King Rob then went on to give a lofty speech, something along the lines of, “Live and die for the empire, rise up against the evil against us,” to boost soldier morale. Of course, words like that meant nothing for players like me. Han Yuan, Long Xing, and others however seemed to be highly affected and they all got excited. Looks like this ceremony does have a degree of influence.
Crown prince Theodore stood up and also said a few words.
When second prince Owen walked over, he handed a Tiger Talisman* and the Marshal Sword to the crown prince Theodore with a smile, “Brother, during this expedition, you are the marshal. The Flame Dragon Army, the Royal Army, and the Dragon City Army will all be under your command. Unfortunately, I was not called to arms and can only wait back in the city for your victorious return!”
*TL Note: The Tiger Talisman is traditionally used as a symbol of military authority, placing command of an army in the hands of whoever possesses this talisman.
Theodore smiled back and carefully tucked the talisman away in a pouch at his hip. With one hand on the Marshal Sword, he patted Owen’s shoulder with a smile, “Brother, thank you for your thoughts. I will return victorious, along with Luo Lin’s head! I leave all the matters of Tian Ling City with you. Take care to not sacrifice your health for work. I still need you by my side to help handle state matters!”
Owen nodded, “Yes brother!”
While the exchange made the brothers look very close, I already took a few hints from that one conversation. It was clear that Theodore was expecting victory during this expedition. That would be the only reason why he’d stake his Flame Dragon Army in this and set out with us. In other words, as long as the Flame Dragon Army returns victorious after this expedition, then his place as the heir to the throne will be solidified. At that point, the old officials of the court would provide more support to Theodore, and Owen would have no choice but to swallow his pride and remain a subordinate to his brother.
Owen’s thought process was even simpler. All he wanted was a defeat from this expedition. That way, Theodore would get less support. The old king might even decide to change his mind about which prince to make the heir. When the time comes, Owen would be the natural choice.
After thinking about this dynamic, I started to grow annoyed. There was no need for me to waste brain cells on this. Right now, my priority should be leading the Royal Army to victory. As for who becomes the emperor, it matters very little to me.
Theodore gripped the Marshal Sword and pointed the blade at the sky as he shouted, “Expeditionary force, set out! For the honor of our empire, and for the dignity of our people, let us protect our home!”
This was all fluff of course. Most of the soldiers were here to fight to protect their families and homes.
The three troops set off in a magnificent display. Around 51,000 Royal Army troops were participating in the battle. The Flame Dragon Troops, even as reinforcements, had 150,000 men following close behind. There was a total of 200,000 men in this expedition, including the ten thousand that Dragon City was providing. In terms of NPCs, we had close to 220,000 men, not to mention the fact that there were several million players participating in this event. It was enough to force Luo Lin to make a run for his money. In the battle of the Sea of No Return, Luo Lin had only used a fraction of his forces and his war boats, we didn’t even see a shadow of him there. This time, we’ll force him out of his nest. He won’t have any choice but to appear!
We marched all the way to Dragon City. Outside, thirty thousand [Zhan Long] players were already prepared to take the mission. Wan Er stood at the front, leading the troops. Under her orders, all the players joined our troops and marched north. Allowing the supply wagons to travel in front of us, Frost had already constructed a slope for the wagons to travel on that cut straight through to the Northern Territories. Numerous Dragon Crystal Cannons, Cannons, and Crossbow Carts were lined up and waiting to be taken ahead. I continued leading the Royal Army. To be honest, it would be the same even if I wasn’t there. The four generals were ultimately far more capable enough to lead this journey.
Our men marched in high spirits, even when the temperature dropped around to twenty degrees. The higher up the mountain, the colder it became. Soon, even flakes of snow even started falling from the sky. Thankfully, everyone was well prepared. All of the men in the Royal Army were wearing light armor underneath a layer of leather, chainmail, and cotton padding. It was specially designed to allow for movement, while also keeping them warm at the same time. On the other hand, the battle horses seemed to be most affected by the climate. The player horses were fine since they didn’t have any abnormal bodily conditions!
“Careful, it’s the Demon Hunters!”
I looked into the distance and grunted, “Shift the formation so that the Blade Shield soldiers are on the outside. Advance carefully!”
Several units of the Barbarian Blade Shield soldiers all shifted to the border and raised their shields. Soon after, a spear pierced through the snowy landscape, plunging into one of the shields. “Keng, keng!” a rain of spears followed soon after. Thankfully, they didn’t deal much damage. On the other hand, the Royal Army archers let loose a volley of arrows, shooting down all the Demon Hunters.
The current landscape was far different from the past. The first time we came here, we took heavy losses at the hands of these Demon Hunters. This time however, just the Royal Army archers were enough to stop these Demon Hunters in their tracks.
Looking behind us, I saw that the Flame Dragon Army was incredibly well organized despite the little skirmish. No wonder they were the number one army in the empire. [Legend], [Judgement], and [House of Prestige] players surrounded the Flame Dragon Army as protection. Quite a few of them were actually officers in their military ranks. Fang Ge Que was one of the supervisors in the Flame Dragon Army after all. With his fan in hand, he calmly walked among the group of people. I could see his supervisor badge hanging at his hip. He was in the middle of a discussion with Enchanted Painting. Enchanted Painting rode on a white battle horse and carried her Water God’s Halberd in hand. Light reflected off of the blade, giving [Legend]’s number one knight a true heroic poise.
On the other side, I saw that there were quite a few [Flying Dragon] players in the mix. I could see Drunken Spear with his spear in hand quietly walking beside Soaring Dragon. Ye Lai taunted, “Well well, what’s the commander of the Xia Yu Army Harvest Troop doing at this event? Isn’t the Xia Yu Army not fighting the Hybrid Demons? Why don’t you just go back and continue planting in your garden!”
Drunken Spear scoffed and replied, “Can’t I take this chance to gain some achievement points? You *ss, if you say anymore, I’ll make a drill a clean hole straight through your chest... “
Ye Lai waved his hand, “I have around fourth thousand [Judgement] elites behind me, you dare to do so? Haha, besides, I am a lieutenant in the Flame Dragon Army cavalry, you can’t do anything to me…”
Drunken Spear face-palmed, “Would it kill you to have a little humor?”
Everyone was in high spirits. Looks like I was the only one who didn’t seem optimistic about the battle ahead of us among the players. But in retrospect, I was no different from them. Even if the sky were to fall, I’d still have friends like Li Mu and Old K to help me hold it up. There was nothing for me to be afraid of. Since I was now the commander of the Royal Army, it was my job to shoulder that responsibility. I couldn’t live carefree any longer.
Not long after, our armies arrived before some plantations. I had been here once before. It was the map that bordered the Graveyard of Heroes.
“Careful, there are signs of the enemy!”
A scout shouted back to us from a distance. It seemed that he had gone too far ahead and couldn’t make it back in time. A sharp arrow suddenly pierced through his throat. Blood spurted forward and he fell off his horse. In the distance, a mass of monsters suddenly appeared on the horizon. They were Demon Flame Archers, Level 154 Hybrid Demons Category 5. They had terrifying attack power and exceedingly high accuracy!
TL Note: Due to the confusing nature of the levels, I’m switching Level 5 Hybrid Demons to Category 5. Sorry for any confusion!
On the outer edge of [Zhan Long]’s troops, Matcha immediately raised her Lion King Shield and shouted, “Shields!”
The knights around her all raised their shields in front of their chests. Soon after, the Blade Shield Soldiers from the Royal Army also raised their heavy shields. A dark cloud suddenly covered the sun. It soon became clear that it was a rain of arrows. The Demon Flame Archers took their advantage in altitude and led the first attack!
I could hear arrows constantly bouncing off of the shields. Players and NPCs that didn’t have shields to hide behind had no choice but to directly take the hits. In the blink of an eye, several hundred people died. The Flame Dragon Army also raised their shields to block the attack, but they similarly lost quite a few soldiers. This was the first attack from the Hybrid Demons and we were already at a disadvantage. Theodore raised his Marshal sword, fury coloring his face. He roared, “Flame Dragon cavalrymen, charge! Cut down those d*mn*d Hybrid Demons!”
In the next moment, one of the Flame Dragon majors waved his sword and led several units of cavalrymen in a charge.
I carefully observed the situation before giving the Royal Army my orders.
In the distance, I could see that Flame Dragon Army was close to their target. The Demon Flame Archers suddenly separated and revealed a group of Beastmen carrying long spears. It was the Beast Blood Spearmen, who were Category 4 Hybrid Demons*. I felt my heart stop at my throat. F*ck, the Hybrid Demons have long been prepared to battle Tian Ling City. This was not a good omen!
TL Note: Due to the confusing nature of the levels, I’m switching Level 5 Hybrid Demons to Category 5. Sorry for any confusion!
Soon, both sides clashed. The Flame Dragon knights rushed right into the Spearmen, clashing against their blades. Screams and howls rose up above the sounds of fighting. While the Flame Dragon Cavalry had killed quite a few Beast Blood Spearmen, both sides were fighting on equal footing. In the blink of an eye, corpses covered the field. After several minutes, ten thousand Flame Dragon cavalrymen broke through eleven layers of monsters before finally losing their momentum. They were left with no choice but to face death. The knights that didn’t manage to scatter in time ended up dying under a volley of arrows. A ten thousand man cavalry, and not a single survivor!
The Hybrid Demons’ strategy was incredibly simple. While the Demon Flame Archers retreated, they continued shooting their arrows and the Beast Blood Spearmen wedged themselves between the Flame Dragon Army and the archers, stopping their advance. A bloody scent wafted over in the wind. There were some Flame Dragon horsemen that hadn’t died and were still struggling to pull the spears out of their bodies.
All of the players were silenced by the scene before them. The commander of the Flame Dragon Army, the marshal of this expedition, Crown Prince Theodore didn’t speak a word, the expression on his face turned incredibly ugly.
Han Yuan raised his blade and shouted, “Such… such terrifying Hybrid Demons! Commander, what do we do? Should I lead our Steel Cavalry in a charge?”
I calmly replied, “Why, do you want to die?”
“Then what do we do?” Long Xing asked.
I grinned, “That’s simple, we’ll have the Dragon Crystal Cannons and the Cannons fight this war. Seeing that these Hybrid Demons have decided to use this kind of strategy, there’s no need for us to wait for them to attack first, we’ll just blast them to pieces!”