Using Weapons

Most of the slaving groups in the Bloodstained Lands had chosen not to pay taxes. Whenever they met the patrolling cavalry, they would openly attack. In just one month a total of more than 100 cavalrymen across six groups were killed off mercilessly, leaving no one alive. A large-scale group had even targeted one of Richard’s checkpoints, killing more than a hundred men in one shot without a single survivor. The corpses were then stripped and hung around the checkpoint on stakes. This had been a clear threat to the other five checkpoints that Richard had set up.

Most slavers were bloodthirsty lunatics who were banished from their homeland. They had always been a source of instability in the Bloodstained Lands, extremely vicious and untameable. However, Gangdor and Io wouldn’t be easily provoked either. One had survived the Archeron death camps where murder was a common sight, while the other was a zealot who believed killing the heretics was his duty. Although their reasons were entirely different, the two had extremely similar attitudes when it came to dealing with enemies— there was no room for tolerance.

Io had once shouted that he would rather kill a thousand innocent men than let one enemy go. His theory was that as long as there were slaves to be caught, there would never be a lack of these slaving groups. Even if they killed one batch, there would be more to come. He called it his rotting flesh theory: a spoiling piece of meat would always attract flies.

The two had thus taken along 500 humanoids to patrol the northwestern region of the Bloodstained Lands where that slaving group was active. Gangdor had announced that anyone they came across was to immediately disarm and allow for a full-body check; even reluctance would be an offence worthy of death.

The aggressive and brutal order immediately caused a huge ruckus in the Iron Triangle Empire and even the Sequoia Kingdom, the voices of opposition to Richard unending. Most slavers were backed by nobility, and they rebelled against Richard’s taxes under the command of their masters. Truth be told, Richard’s tax was quite lenient, but given the scale of the Bloodstained Lands he was still earning an enormous amount. Many nobles were more than eager for him to be riddled with bad luck, even the temperate ones not wanting him to earn any more. The viler of the lot hoped for him to fall from power, leaving an opportunity for them to exploit.

Now that Richard had unearthed its value the Bloodstained Lands had become far too tempting; nobody wanted to see him take it all for himself. They had already forgotten that before his presence this was a land for the exiled and the ruffians, where just having a say was difficult even for those like Marquess Anrick. They had forgotten his expedition that gave the land its current value, just as they had forgotten him defeating the Iron Triangle Empire and Sequoia Mage Association in quick succession.

In fact, the nobles were still more afraid of the foreign species in the Bloodstained Lands than Richard, even though they had mostly been exterminated. This was quite common amongst humans— their fear was reserved for the unknown.

However, the two battle fanatics hadn’t cared one whit for the criticism. They had begun their operation as planned, meeting three slaving groups on the first day. All three groups had resisted brazenly, thinking that 500 was too small a number to be afraid of. After all, cavalrymen were basically just larger bandits on horseback; even the fiercest bandit groups had to make a detour in front of slavers.

However, there was a world of difference between cavalrymen and proper knights. Gangdor had wiped out 700 slavers in one day while losing only forty drones, seizing over a thousand slaves by force. New stakes popped up around the razed checkpoint to accompany Richard’s dead soldiers.

News of the battle had seemed to grow wings, immediately spreading throughout the countries surrounding the Bloodstained Lands. One of the three decimated slaving groups had been backed by a marquess of the Sequoia Kingdom, who had sent an envoy to Bluewater in his fury. However, the envoy was left to wait in an inn as the two continued on in their battles; who had the time to return for the envoy of a mere marquess? The envoy had grown furious, but could do nothing but wait.

Over the next few days, Gangdor had cut off two more small-scaled groups. These slavers didn’t have any supporters backing them and were honestly registered under Richard, so they managed to pass through safely. However, those peaceful days lasted less than a week. The brute had eventually come across his biggest challenge to date, a slaving group with nearly 400 warriors and a saint in charge— the Killer Whales!

An intense battle had ensued, a desperate battle where Gangdor suffered a dozen injuries of which the worst was a deep gash in his abdomen. He alone had killed more than forty slavers, all the while holding the enemy saint at bay. Io had run out of mana before the battle even ended, brandishing his flail to smash in the heads of at least a dozen enemies himself. Although he had lost twice to Richard, the battle priest had no fear of melees.

It was the second half of the battle that had been particularly notable. The broodmother had sent over a command from the Land of Turmoil, personally taking control of the humanoid knights.

An astonishing scene had ensued. Groups of humanoid knights charged towards the opposing saint without a fear of death, caring not for injuries as they desperately tried to stab their halberds into the saint’s body. They had shown the sheer terror of their existence— these killing machines knew no fear, no pain. Their only purpose was to plunge their weapons into the enemy’s body.

Even the most battle-hardened veteran would react to such injuries, but with their sense of pain removed by their mistress these drones had charged through without a care in the world. Even with their innards pouring out from their slashed ribs, they continued to brandish their halberds without losing any power.

Even the most strong-willed powerhouse would be utterly broken in the face of such resolution, and this saint didn’t come close to that title. He had persisted for some amount of time, but he was eventually broken down. Still, it had taken countless injuries and more than ten halberds stuck inside him before he fell, thirty humanoid knights piled up all around like a small hill.

The disastrous scene had left Gangdor and Io dumbstruck. They had been unable to act from the moment the broodmother took control, humanoids pouncing forward one after the other to cram into every space around the saint. The scene had left the brute with a strange sense of discomfort, one that he didn’t know how to process except with a sigh. This had been no fresh saint, likely one considered extremely powerful in Faelor; seeing such an opponent worthy of respect just swarmed down, anyone would feel sorrow at the sight.

Although they were insane in their own ways, both Gangdor and Io had great knowledge of battles. They had quickly realised that one couldn’t win against these drones, nor could they even flee. The only hope was to get far away before the knights could surround them.

The broodmother’s control had faded once the saint was killed, but the warriors of the slaving group were noticeably slower. Many of them were left shocked by the past few minutes, the blood splattering everywhere and the mournful cry of their leader still lingering in their ears.

Although the morale of the Killer Whales had broken down, the humanoids continued to act as before. It was only when the slavers tried to flee that Gangdor and Io regained their senses, leading the army to pursue. They had been returned control quite some time ago, but had been too occupied by the demons that fought by their side. As enemies, these humanoids brought certain death. As allies, their aid would leave anyone relieved.

A few dozen managed to get away in the end, but the two were in no mood to give chase. In a battle where they only had a slight advantage at the start, a hundred humanoid knights had been lost in exchange for basically annihilating the Killer Whales. The turning point of the battle had come from the intervention of the broodmother. Although they had learnt a lot about using the humanoid knights, the two had come to a silent agreement to bury this event deep inside their hearts.

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