Chapter 148: Hunting and Being Hunted
Anwen Village was famous for its delicacy Smoked Silver Fish. There were countless numbers of said village in the entirety of Sleuweir. At this current moment, snow was gradually falling and the peaceful village was no longer as peaceful as it was.
The fences used to keep out the wild beasts could not hinder the true beasts. Under the concealment of night, the gray Wolf Knights entered their lands and a feast of bloodshed began in the little village.
The guards and watchmen of the village were slaughtered immediately. Under the sudden raid of the trained Wolf Knights, the guards of the village, who only had the experience of challenging Ogres at most, didn’t even have the opportunity to sound the alarm.
At 2 AM, thirty Wolf Knights entered the village. At 2:15, the militia captain, village head, and other leaders were dragged out from their beds and their headless corpses were used to feed the wolves. At the same time, their heads were used to drain the survivor’s will of retaliating against them.
By 2:40, all 500 people of the village were dragged to the little square near the entrance of the village. After the women and children had been dragged to one corner, the slaughter began. Perhaps not even a single young man of the village was spared.
There were people who tried to fight back, but against true warriors, the retaliation of the civilians was completely meaningless. Furthermore, the Wolf Knights were already elites of the combative Beastmen.
At 3, the efficient executions had ended and the Wolf Knights had left. Before leaving, they casually set the entire village afire, the paws of the wolves leaving bloodied pawprints in the snow. The Wolf Knights splashed with blood were silent, but the burning remains of the village and the heart-rending cries would be in their nightmares for years to come.
They may have been hesitant at the very start, but it was already the fourth village they had destroyed in this week. They took less than an hour from their entry to their departure to purge the entire village. Their conscience was already numb to the slaughter.
This is war. It is neither sacred nor justified. The only thing that needed to be considered was how to win.
The mission entrusted to these packs of Wolf Knights was to roam about the Human Kingdoms and cause panic and chaos in order to divert the strength and attention of the other factions. Even though their means were vile, it was effective.
The Beastmen were not immoral beasts. Every single expert in their midst felt contempt for their actions of slaughtering civilians. People respected the fearless Knights who dared to charge towards the massive Dragons, but they would not respect a butcher who derived pleasure from slaughtering civilians.
“Father, how did you fare in the war with the humans? How many human generals did you kill?”
“None, I only slaughtered a few thousand civilians.”
Upon thinking about the question his children would ask him upon his return, even though the captain of the Wolf Knight section, Akerli, was famous for his bravery in his tribe, he didn’t know how he should reply to this question.
At this moment, he still smelled the stench of blood all over the place with his sensitive nose. His child’s questioning of his doings had become his greatest nightmare and his soul felt worn out.
For the Beastmen, challenging a powerful adversary and dying in battle in the midst of it was an unparalleled honor. On the other hand, slaughtering the weak meant that the person did not possess mental fortitude. Such a Warrior would be viewed with contempt by his tribe and be rejected at the doors of the War God upon death.
“This is an order from our superior. This is for our race’s dream of returning to our homeland, this is for our justice!”
Justice, a name used to conceal uncountable vile actions! Under the grand flags often lay the bloodied hands of an executioner.
He knew that he was just deceiving himself. However, it was only with this excuse could he deceive his conscience and continue to slaughter.
“The team is getting more and more silent. Looks like I’ll have to look for a way to boost their morale.”
Only the most depraved villain would brag about their “results” in slaughtering civilians. From the stiff expression on these Knights, it was clear that they had not reached such a point yet.
Even so, they did it without complaint. After all, this was war, the evil war, the wonderful war, a war that could conceal all evil with a cloak of divinity.
“AWOO AWOO AWOO!”
The howling of the wolves echoed in the distance. That was a report from the Eagle Tribe Beastmen, who were serving as scouts. Three consecutive howls meant that there were enemies in their path, but they weren’t strong and the team could simply charge on through.
Soon, they crossed a mountainous jungle and the “enemy” appeared before them. It was a golden-haired young man whose hair was covered with snow. He looked young, but the two-handed swords in both of his hands were extremely striking.
“Sigh, yet another young man who had pursued us by himself. Courageous, but naive. He is around the age of my Equar…”
Looking at the young Swordsman who was around the age of his own child, Akerli paused for a moment. Then, he drew his thumb across his throat. It was a command to slaughter all enemies on sight.
“There were more young men of Equar’s age in the previous village. For Equar’s beautiful future, you should go and accompany them…. That’s weird, the sword looks familiar. I seem to have seen it somewhere before.”
There was no need for superfluous thoughts. Since there was only a single adversary, the Wolf Knights used the Wave Charge Formation which they were the most adept in.
The several Wolf Knights whose mounts were the strongest were in charge of engaging the enemy head-on whereas the strongest, Akerli, would be leading a team behind to assault the enemy whenever an opportunity arose. Behind them, spears and nets were prepared to be thrown.
Even the powerful Griffin Knights could be killed in an instant facing the Wolf Knights. In the eyes of the Knights, the fearless young man was already a dead person.
Facing the deadly assault of the Wolf Knights, the young man simply chuckled and a hint of brutality could be sensed from his smile. That familiar smile reminded Akerli of where he saw the sword.
“Oh! Isn’t he the human sculpture from the village? Sword Ki? He is a Sword Saint! ...That sword? Could that be Roland Sacred Sword? Holy Knight Roland?”
These were the final thoughts that flashed through Akerli’s mind. The snow-white sword flashed across the snow and the flying Sword Ki started to reap the lives of others. A cold sensation on the necks and the Wolf Knight Captain felt his vision starting to slant as his head fell onto the snowy ground.
The final sight burned into his eyes was the silver chainmail Sword Saint moving the swords in both of his hands, a single Wolf Knight dying with every single movement of his sword.
At this moment, the Wolf Knights were devoid of the strength to resist the enemy. They were like frail chicks who had met a butcher, and what they did half an hour ago in front of that sculpture was occurring to them at this instant.
“The murderer is often murdered. Such an irony…”
At the first face-off, the Knights of the Kara Tribe lost their head. As a mindless murderer, he no longer had to worry about how he should explain his actions to his own child.
“Repay blood with blood. Die!”
Someone shouted these words and very soon, the snowy lands returned to its previous tranquility. It was just that there were additional headless corpses on the lands.
Yes, the blood debt must be paid with blood. However, who was the first debtor? Do we start counting from this war, the war twenty years ago, or the war three hundred years? This might be something no one could ever rationalize out.
After killing the final Wolf Knights, I felt fatigued. So I stabbed the swords into the snow and rested on the battlefield.
While waiting, Irene finished cleaning up the escapees. I recalled some things that I could do.
From the embrace of the Wolf Knight, I retrieved a goatskin pouch. As I expected, besides supplies, there was a map of the nearby villages. Those marked with a red cross meant that the Wolf Knights had already been there, and there was no need for me to head there anymore.
All that was in my field of vision were corpses and blood, but somehow, I felt thirsty. So I opened the water pouch the other force left behind and drank from it. It was an absurdly sweet, inferior horse milk wine. Somehow, I spat all of it out.
“Pui, bitter and rough, just like back then.”
While I complained, Harloys had already completed interpreted the Wolf Knights’ patrol routes. Thus, my next location had been confirmed.
“Blue Lake Village? Hope that we can make it in time. I do not wish to see ruins again.”
Thinking of the horrendous state Anwen Village was in, I quickened my pace. After cleaning up the battlefield and double checking that there was no intelligence I had left behind, I hopped onto Erebella’s saddle and headed to my next target.
This was already the twelfth Wolf Knight section I had cleared. Compared to my other companions, I, who was operating as an individual, could be considered to have accomplished the least. Even so, the effects of our results on the entire battlefield was meager.
Everyone knew about the theory of huddling together to ward off the cold. Once Sleuweir was destroyed, the other Northern countries would be next. So the moment the snow started to lighten, the reinforcements of the other countries quickly headed over to aid it.
We were the fastest to arrive, but also the least in quantity. A hundred Undead Knights with three hundred rookie Knights. On the main battlefield where divisions counted by ten thousands, we were probably unable to contribute much.
Considering the East Mist’s current situation and the beast packs that would assault the country in winter, it was already very surprising that the East Mist was able to send reinforcements. Given how the one leading the army was me, all sorts of excessive gossip and criticisms on the East Mist was silenced. Yeah, at the very least, they were silenced when facing me.
Of course, while we had limited quantity, the same could not be said about quality. My Undead Knights were reliable fighters and those rookie Knights were the elites picked out from the newly established divisions; all they lacked was experience.
As for me, I wasn’t really interested in the main battlefield at Antuen. The reinforcements of the other countries headed straight for the main fighting force of the Beastmen while on the other hand, I focused on those roaming troops.
The guerilla tactics of the Beastmen were effective. In order to clear the roaming troops on their lands, the fief lords of Sleuweir Kingdom ignored the orders to provide reinforcements to the capital. As for the other, stronger fief lords, they had been engaged by the other three Beastmen army.
Light cavalry (consisting of more than Wolf Knights) hunting in enemy territory wasn’t a rare battle tactic, but it was extremely useful when complemented with the elite troops of the Beastmen. It was an extremely effective strategy, as well as a brutal one.
For an ordinary village, it didn’t matter whether the one attacking them was a Sword Saint or a group of Bronze-ranked Wolf Knights. In any case, the village would be purged.
Killing these roaming cavalries was a difficult and ineffective task. Given their mobility, it was difficult to catch up with them. Furthermore, even if one successfully caught up to them, given their top-class individual abilities, it was hard to tell who would win.
Before the main army of the Beastmen was destroyed, the other countries did not have the power to care about the small villages of another country. Yet I decided to interfere in the affair.
“Who cares about those nobility. Since we’re already here and we have the capability to help them, let’s just do it.”
I did not have many people under me, but the Undead Knights were capable fighters. They could easily face a section of Wolf Knights by themselves. At the same time, the rookie Knights could also accumulate some fighting experience.
Thus, I scattered the group and had an Undead Knight lead three rookie Knights in a team to hunt down the roaming light cavalries.
Logically but unexpectedly, this kind of operation won the hearts of the people. After all, the fief lords and the royalty who should have been protecting them neglected their jobs, and my Undead Knights were the best insignia of our identity.
“Our ancestor Roland had led his army to save the Mist citizens. That fake emperor Feimer had ignored Emperor Roland’s warnings, as well as the plight of the citizens, caring only for his own authority and safety and holed himself up in the capital.”
From a certain perspective, the official declaration the Sleuweir royalty made beforehand displayed clearly the meaning of foolishness and suicide. I, who “magnanimously” forgave them, continued with my hunt. My prestige was growing to greater heights every single day. The Undead Knights began to be welcomed passionately by the villagers and they felt even more motivated in their jobs.
Then, something shocking happened.
Feimer, upon seeing such a situation, despite Antuen still being in a desperate situation, warned the civilians through the church that I was making use of this calamity to win the hearts of the people and reaffirmed that I wasn’t their ancestor Roland, just an imitation who was trying to deceive them.
Clearly, in the eyes of this “emperor,” the Beastmen army was an external threat which was going to be expelled sooner or later. On the other hand, my Knights and I were the true “threat.”
Hearing that, I almost turned around and left. However, thinking about the matter again, I decided to go all out.
“Fine, since you said that I’m here to win their hearts, I will win their hearts then. Knights, don our insignia and hoist our flags. We are here reinforce them. Why should we conceal our identities?”
The citizens are the citizens while the royalty are the royalty. Should I just watch these villagers die just because of that fool in Antuen?
When word spread, the prestige of the Sleuweir royalty fell even further. Every day, countless refugees chose to escape to East Mist, a location they would never have chosen to move to in the past.
According of my sources, after Feimer heard that news, he smashed a century-old family heirloom, a Rainbow Jade Wine Cup. After which, he felt intense regret over his moment of folly. After hearing this news, in order to console him, I sent him a message through the church.
“Rainbow Jade Wine Cup? Isn’t that the unintentional product I made from creating glass back then? Don’t worry, even though it looks beautiful, it is just normal stained glass so it isn’t worth much. Actually, it isn’t a wine cup either. It is actually a failed spittoon which I accidentally burnt too much. I even placed crickets in it before…. There should be a signature to indicate that it was made by Roland on the back of it. If it isn’t too fragmented, you can try looking for it.”
Alright, based on the rumors, he actually put the cup back together. However, this time, what was shattered wasn’t just a wine cup.