Chapter 269: Newborn Crusader
As the first rays of light appear over the horizon, it shone upon a battlefield where ravens and other birds were feasting on the many corpses that littered the ground. The air was crisp, and it was possible to see one’s breath as a small cloud condensing due to the cold. As the sun peaked over the horizon, the beasts stood in formation looking ahead of them.
The camp now looked nothing like it had the day before. The beasts had been busy working all night, and the result was a large ditch that appeared around the entire camp. A ditch which was three meters deep and three meters wide. It had a small entrance of twenty meters wide, where they intentionally did not dig so creatures could move through it. Even the backside of the camp had the ditch dug around it making it difficult for the experts to surround the beasts while they were fighting.
The ditch was not the only thing that had been created during the night. Wooden obstacles were also made, and gathered together resembling what looked like a mass of barbed wire created from wood, something that would hurt badly if the experts were to jump past the ditch and land on the ground.
“This should cause them some trouble,” Hui Yue mumbled with satisfaction. He was uncomfortable with the amount of losses they sustained the previous day, and today he decided not to give in to his beastly desires. He decided to let the war be controlled by the calm part of his personality; the one which could keep a cool head no matter what was thrown his way.
The humans who stood on the opposite side of the beasts were all nervous. Some were shifting from one foot to another while others were gripping their weapons hard, and yet others kept gnawing on their lower lips in worry.
They were all experts, and although not all as high ranked as everyone in the beast army, and their eyesight had been enhanced multiple times that of a normal human. They could all see the massive ditch which was dug around the enemy camp, not to mention the wooden barriers that had been erected, and all of this done within one night.
“F*cking hell!” The Grand Marshall swore as he looked at the barrier made around the beasts, “It seems that the white-haired bastard actually knows something about war.” He grumbled with his eyes shining furiously, “How could anyone think up such an absolute defense?” He continued his train of thought out loud, and as he was about to complain more, he stopped himself. “Go find Li Meilin instantly!” The Grand Marshall yelled out, and a large group of experts appeared from nowhere. They nodded their heads and scrambled to become the first person to bring the woman to their lord. The quicker they were, the less likely they were to be scolded for their incompetence.
It did not take long before they found the woman. She was found within her tent where she was seated on her bed. Her hands folded in her lap, and her eyes seemingly filled with worry. Her previously beautiful appearance had turned messy. Her pearl white skin had turned ashen, and her long and smooth hair was unruly. Tangles could be seen, and the lush shine it had previously was gone, the hair was completely dull now. Her eyes which had been filled with arrogance and self-confidence were now filled with worry and fear. It was clear that something caused her to be terrified.
“Miss Li,” One of the experts who rushed to find her gently called out as he stood in the entrance of the tent. His eyes showed a worried look as he saw how the usually very beautiful woman had turned unkept and old within only a short time. From when she realized that the white-haired young man was most likely the leader of the beasts. As for why she had this reaction, no one truly knew.
Seeing that the woman did not respond, the expert stepped into the tent and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder, a gesture which caused the woman to jump in her seat. Her vigilant eyes darted to look at the man in front of her, and only after looking at him for a short while did she accept that the young man in front of her was not the one she had met in Shenyuan. It was clearly not Hui Yue, and that knowledge made her almost collapse in relief.
Li Meilin was usually a strong person. She had gone through one scheme after another at the imperial palace. She had survived multiple missions, mortal wounds that almost killed her, and even worked as an assassin, something which most experts would frown upon. Now she was only a mere ghost of what she had been previously.
“He tricked me,” She mumbled to herself as she looked at the young man. Her eyes were begging for someone to end her misery. “He told me to go back and warn you, but it was all part of his plan. If we lose, will it not be my fault?” Her voice quivered with dread as she thought about it. She had done everything exactly as he had wanted her to. Now that their army was here with all the experts of the Siban Empire gathered in this one place, everyone except the experts from the families who had long since fled the empire, if they lost then there would be no one left within the entire Siban Empire who could put up a struggle. They would with a doubt lose the entire empire, and she felt that everything was happening because of her. She made it a reality, or if she did not make it a reality, she still assisted Hui Yue in getting what he wanted. That thought alone was enough to make her lose her mind. She had assisted the enemy.
Following behind the expert, the young woman was constantly trembling, and her eyes were glancing each and every direction constantly fearing that Hui Yue would appear out of nowhere to thank her, or ridicule her, for her part in his plans. Although this was completely irrational, Li Meilin was unable to see it as such as her mind was fully focused on her betrayal.
“I didn’t do it intentionally,” She whispered as she bit her lip. Unshed tears burning in her eyes, “I did not know that I was helping the enemy,” She continued as she followed with some sentences no one could hear because her voice was choked by her emotional outburst.
The expert who was leading her started to feel increasingly uncomfortable. He had seen how Li Meilin used to be a very stoic person; someone who would do anything for the emperor, and yet now she was nothing more than a bundle of nerves. A person who had lost her mind.
When the expert saw the Grand Marshall’s tent in the distance, he heaved a great sigh of relief and unconsciously sped up. He was dragging with him the woman that had tears running down her face and who was constantly mumbled words so low that no one could hear.
“Grand Marshall, sir!” The expert called out just before he entered the tent, and with him was Li Meilin. As they entered the tent, the Grand Marshall was no longer alone; he was now surrounded by a group of five figures all shrouded in black clothes. They showed not even the tips of their fingers or anything of their face. Everything was hidden within the comfort of their dark clothing No sound of breathing could be heard, no subtle movements were seen, the figures stood straight, and seemed as if they were carved from stone. Seeing these black figures, the heartbeat of the expert started to increase rapidly. This was not excitement, but sheer fear.
Li Meilin did not show any change in her trembling demeanor, and as soon as the Grand Marshall saw her, he sighed deeply. He realized that it would not be possible for him to get any useful information from her.
“Lady Li,” He called out with a gentle voice, and yet another sigh escaped his lips as he saw the woman jump in the air. Her eyes were large, and she looked like a doe that had been hunted to a location where it could not escape. Her body was trembling and her lips opening and closing constantly, but as before no sound could be heard.
“I am really very sorry about this Lady Li,” The Grand Marshall continued, “But I think it might be the better way for you. I heard that it won’t hurt, but I cannot give you any guarantees apart from the fact that you won’t feel terrified anymore.” Having said that he gently moved the woman to the nearby chair. The woman looked around with big eyes, and a frown was on her previously beautiful face. Doubt could be seen deep within, and a certain fear was lurking as the final bits of her common sense were forced back to the surface.
Laying a hand on her shoulder, the Grand Marshall shook his head with a sad smile. “It really is not your fault that you followed the orders of this young man. He is far more skilled in warfare that any of us could have imagined.” He said with a sad smile, “No one blames you for anything, but we need to make sure that you are still useful for his Imperial Highness, and sadly, as you are now you are not worth anything.”
“I will be of help?” She asked in a low voice as hope sprung to life in her eyes. The Grand Marshall smiled to her as he nodded his head, “This will be a great service to his Imperial Highness. All you need to do is sit here and let the Crusaders help you.”
Li Meilin was like a small girl, her face lit up in happiness when she heard that she could be of help to his Imperial Highness, so much so that she forgot everything that had made her worried moments before.
“Stay in the seat and let these gentlemen take care of you,” The Grand Marshall said as he patted her on the head once more before he turned around and left the tent. As he left, he ensured that no one was capable of seeing inside the tent. He stood at the front, his eyes closed and a stern and uncomfortable expression on his face. Any expert who walked past him was curious as to what could have happened, but no one dared ask the question.
Suddenly a scream pierced the silence of the camp. Quite a few guards within the camp rushed towards the sound only to see that the Grand Marshall was standing in front of the tent. His hands clenched around the tent opening, not allowing for even the smallest glance to look inside the tent and determine what happened.
The scream vanished as soon as it arrived and many of the experts started questioning whether or not they had truly heard a scream.
The Grand Marshall felt a cold sweat spring forward on his forehead as he too noticed the sudden silence. There were no sounds of movements within the tent; there was nothing. The surrounding had become as silent as a grave, yet Li Meilin had, without a doubt, screamed only moments before.
Suddenly the tent which he held opened up, and the Grand Marshall took four steps back to not be right next to the cloaked persons. His eyes glanced at the cloaked men, and he took a heavy breath when he counted six cloaked figures, all of which left the tent not saying a word. None of them showed even the smallest bit of skin, and they proceeded to slowly moving back to the imperial city.
Looking into the tent, the Grand Marshall saw four drops of blood on the chair in which Li Meilin had been seated. Nothing more was visible, and the woman vanished together with the Crusaders. As for how it was done only the Crusaders knew.