Chapter 821 - "Be true to your followers to gain fealty"
“Keng keng keng…”
After three consecutive arrows bounced off the Lion King Shield, Matcha moved her arm away and began hacking at the enemy monsters with her sword. She impatiently said, “We can’t go on like this, the Revered One’s Archers’ attack power is too strong, not to mention they’ve been focusing their attacks on our front lines. If this keeps going, we’ll end up getting pushed back.”
I swung my sword and readily replied, “Matcha, why don’t you activate the effect from the Lion King Shield? I’ll take 5,000 of our Steel Blade Horsemen and rush at the enemy. If we cut them all down in one fell swoop, we’ll make sure they don’t come back for a long time!”
Wang Jian nodded, “Agreed!”
Matcha sunk her shield into the ground. Rays of light began to shoot off from the body. Not only [Zhan Long], but even nearby soldiers from the Royal Army, [Legend], and [Judgement], received a BUFF from the effect. My Zhen Yue Blade shuddered as I activated [Zhen Yue Battle Song]. Once I received all my BUFFs, I led Li Mu, Wang Jian, and the first and second infantries of the Steel Blade Horsemen to charge at the [Blizzard] army, and we aimed straight for the cavalry archers.
I could hear arrows whizzing past my ear and burying the nearby players. One after another, members of [Zhan Long] were falling beside me. What made it worse was the fact that the Revered One’s Archers were incredibly intelligent. They actually knew how to retreat while shooting at us, and they used kiting method to whittle away at the Steel Blade Horsemen. Li Mu’s eyes nearly rolled out of his skull, “This… how the f*ck are we supposed to fight against this?”
The [Frost Wing]s on my back began to shudder and I rose up into the sky. As I did so, the vanguard of my Zhen Yue Blade extended out, creating an energy blade that fell among the crowds of people. I ordered, “Everyone split up and charge full speed ahead. We’ll surround them from the sides and flank them!”
In this troop of Hybrid Demons, there were at least 50,000 of the Revered One’s Archers, but there was no way for us to kill every single one of them. All we could do was focus on the 4,000 that were targeting [Zhan Long] and the Royal Army to decrease the pressure on them. After all, we weren’t world saviors — we couldn’t save them all.
Li Mu and Wang Jian led a group of people while Matcha and Wan Er lead another. I continued leading my troop in the front and faced the monsters head on. The archers’ attack power was not nearly enough to break through my defenses. In fact, the combos from my blade were like a nightmare for these archers. Blood splattered and they fell one after another, turning into achievement points for me.
After a few minutes, we had them completely surrounded and we slaughtered them like sheep. Even if we took heavy losses, we had to kill all 4,000 of these archers. Wan Er activated her [Undefeated Spirit] state and darted in and out of the crowd of monsters, leaving corpses in her wake. Old K on the other hand raised his Blood Giant’s Battle Axe and activated [Kehl’s Rage]. A powerful aura began to emanate from him and a powerful wind rose up. He dashed forward, turning into a whirlwind that raged through the crowd of monsters. All enemies caught in his path were ripped to pieces. Even if Old K didn’t have as much damage, with this skill, he was far more than capable of instantly killing these ten thousand health archers.
Li Mu and Wang Jian all activated their AOE attacks and charged ahead. The rest of the Steel Blade Horsemen activated all their defense type skills to protect their healths before focusing all their energy on attacking. Unfortunately, this battle style meant that we would be faced with startling loses under the attack of the thousands of Blizzard soldiers and these archers. After ten minutes, all the super BUFFs ran out. Despite that, we couldn’t retreat, not until all of these archers were killed.
I flew into the sky and threw a [Seven Star Fragment Slash] into the enemy pursuers. I glanced at the Zhen Yue Blade in my left hand. Blood had completely covered the elegant engravings that used to be there. I dashed to the rear of the Steel Blade Horsemen and asked, “Li Mu, how many people did we lose this time?”
Li Mu glanced around and said, “Of the five thousand horsemen we brought, we lost 1,400. Not too bad?”
“That’s terrible. Hurry up and head back! Everyone needs to get back in the healers’ range!”
When we returned to our troops, I went to check on the Royal Army’s situation only to see a number of corpses lying on the ground. Even with the cover from the Steel Blade Horsemen, they still lost a lot of soldiers. I couldn’t help but feel a pang in my heart. But, after carefully counting, I noticed that we had lost a thousand men at most. After the battle at the Sea of No Return, these Royal Army soldiers had increased the level of their equipment and attacks by quite a bit. Since their battle power increased so much, they became much harder to kill. At the very least, they were not as easy to kill as they had been during the previous battle.
I looked at the distant city as I hacked down a monster. I could make out two figures at the top of the wall. It was Luo Lin and Gawain. Both of them were originally human generals who had fallen to Demon status because of their hubris. And there they were, having a lighthearted conversation as they ordered their troops to slaughter their own people.
“Han Yuan!” I growled.
Han Yuan cut off the head of one of the Blizzard soldiers and turned around to face me, “General, what do you need?”
I gave a nod and pointed at the wall, “Can the cannons and the Dragon Crystal Cannons reach that wall? If they can, why don’t we call Luo Lin and Gawain down for a final battle!”
Han Yuan gaped at me, “General, the cannons and the Dragon Crystal Cannons have a maximum range of 700 meters. We’re more than 1,100 meters away. I’m afraid we can’t do that. Besides… look at our situation right now. This battle is in complete chaos. Even if we wanted to, we won’t be able to use the cannons, or else we’ll hurt our own brothers. For the moment, all we can use are the crossbow carts!”
I clenched my teeth, “Then bring out the crossbow carts for support. Otherwise, we’ll be taking too many heavy losses!”
After a few minutes, several hundred crossbow carts appeared on the frontlines of the Royal Army. Heavy shields protected the carts from damage. In the blink of an eye, we dealt an astonishing blow to the Hybrid Demon troops.
Over at the Flame Dragon Army, I saw a group of Blade and Shield soldiers charging at the Demon Army, pushing them back 300 meters. All of them were drenched in blood. No wonder the Flame Dragon Army was known to be the number one army in Tian Ling City. This kind of bravery and courage was second to no other.
Right then, I could hear the sounds of cannons firing from behind the Flame Dragon Army. The explosions rang continuously and cannon balls rained from the sky. Some of the Dragon Crystal Cannon balls had fallen right at the center of the formation. Crowds of people were clustered in that one spot — not only the Hybrid Demons, but also the human Blade and Shield soldiers. The explosions immediately turned these people into mush. This was the might of the Dragon Crystal Cannons — in the blink of an eye it brought death to an entire area.
“AHHH!” Han Yuan’s eyes widened, burning red with tears. His voice trembled, “Theodore, what’s he doing? Does he not care about his own people?!”
I clenched my teeth, my blood running cold. Was this the kind of tactic that the AI in this game was using? If we used whatever underhanded tactics we could, then what difference was there between us and the Demons?
Without another word, I activated my [Frost Wing]s and immediately flew over to the Flame Dragon Army formation. They continued firing the cannons across the entire battlefield, killing both NPCs and Demons alike. This was no small matter; if this continued, the players would undoubtedly start complaining to the system admins!
I walked straight into the Flame Dragon Army’s war tent and roared, “Your Highness, why are you firing the cannons? Don’t you understand that they are killing our own people!?”
Theodore was sitting on a makeshift throne at the end of the tent, with a cup of wine in his hand. He smiled at me, “Commander Li, do not panic. There are no norms on the battlefield. Strategists of the past have said that the dynamics of a battle constantly shift like the water. To be able to evolve and turn a situation in your favor is the holy grail of strategy. You’ve seen the situation. Gawain and Luo Lin are working together now. Their added might is above the Tian Ling City’s Army. If we don’t take this chance to use extreme measures, how else would we win? Those two thousand warriors are all kamikaze soldiers that I personally picked from my Flame Dragon Army. They decided for themselves that they were willing to die for the empire. If I could exchange two thousand lives for the lives of my twenty thousand men, then I would do so again, without hesitation. Commander Li, you are an educated man, and you’ve read about all the tactics. This should not be a difficult principle for you to comprehend.”
Han Yuan spat on the ground, “Did you think that using flowery words would change the outcome? You’re stealing people’s lives!”
Theodore angrily shouted back, “Major Han Yuan, this is not the first time you have offended me, and yet time and time again I have shown mercy. Do not think it is because I don’t dare to kill you. I carry the Marshall’s Sword. Killing you is as easy as stepping on an ant!”
I reached my hand out to hold back Han Yuan and calmly replied, “Your Highness, it is also said in the Art of War that while using your soldiers, ‘Be true to your followers to gain their fealty.’ If you kill our own men with these Dragon Crystal Cannons, are you not worried about your soldiers losing faith in you? Are you not afraid of losing control of your army?”
Theodore’s expression stiffened, “Li Xiao Yao, I will take care of matters within my own army, there is no need for the commander of the Royal Army to stick his nose in these matters. Men, please escort Commander Li back to his army!”
I clenched my teeth and turned around, “Han Yuan, we’re leaving!”
On the way back, I felt my heart grow cold. I never would have thought that Theodore would be so stubborn to go this far. But, when I carefully reflected on it, it wasn’t entirely without reason. He needed this victory far too much — after all, he’d gambled his seat on the throne for it. In this one expedition, just entering the Hero’s Graveyard was enough to make the Flame Dragon Army lose tens of thousands of men. If he didn’t use this kind of cruel “exchange” to kill more Hybrid Demons, then it would be difficult for the Flame Dragon Army to leave any mark on history in this war.
Even so, there was no way for me to accept this kind of decision, especially in this kind of situation when even the players were being killed by the Dragon Crystal Cannons. What made this so hard to fathom was the fact that Theodore’s cruel decision will undoubtedly trigger a change of heart among the soldiers of the Flame Dragon Army. With a single spark, any number of unforeseeable consequences could emerge.
The Revered One’s City gates have been open throughout this battle and a steady flow of Blizzard Army soldiers and the Revered One’s troops have been marching towards our army, ready to surround the Royal Army and the players around it. The Dragon City Army on the other hand was as still as a mountain. Frost did not advance or retreat. Instead, the army held their ground, killing all enemies that came their way. In her mind, there was no need for glory or greed for achievement. All she cared about was revenge, and perhaps protecting the seven kingdoms?
Time went by slowly. The battle was nearing seven hours long. In the real world, it was around ten o'clock at night. Even so, the battle showed no signs of reaching an end. Gawain must be putting all of his forces into this one battle. Even after so many Blizzard soldiers died, Gawain still provided a steady flow of reinforcements to the city.
Wan Er walked over with her dagger in hand and smiled, “Honey, how about we log off and get something to eat?”
I could feel my stomach grumble. If I kept doing this, it would affect my focus on the battle. So I nodded, “Alright, how about everyone split up into groups and log off in shifts to get some rest? Afterwards, I’ll log back on. Tonight will be an all-nighter!”