Volume 2: Chapter 89 – The Night is Long
|Possessed Skills||Ruler of the Demon Children of Chaos; Defiant Soul; World Devouring Howl; Swordsmanship A-; Dominator; King’s Soul; Ruler’s Wisdom III; Household of the Gods; One-Eyed Snake’s Evil Eye; The King's Dance at the Edge of Death; Magic Manipulation; Soul of the Berserk King; Third Impact (The Third Chant); Instinct; Blessing of the Underworld Goddess|
|Divine Protection||Goddess of the Underworld (Altesia)|
|Subordinate Beasts||High Kobold Hasu (Lv1); Gastra (Lv20); Cynthia (Lv20); Orc King (Bui) (Lv40)|
|Abnormal Status||Blessing of the One-Eyed Snake; Protection of the Twin-Headed Snake|
From time to time, the beasts would howl, and the soldiers would jump awake. The atmosphere was so tense, the humans could not peacefully sleep. In time, however, the light of the morn reached them, even as the arms of the night god held them tight.
Dark shadows weighed heavily under the soldiers’ eyes. Every one of them was alert, not even a mice could get past them unnoticed. They knew that fiendish monsters lurked just outside the village.
Those same monsters had attacked last night. Fortunately, they were able to fend them off, but their viciousness was such that they reminded them of the devils of the underworld. All the soldiers that came with Gowen thought so.
The soldiers that could fight now only numbered 250.
If the injured were to be included, that number would increase, but it was still a worrisome figure.
“If we withdraw now, the losses will increase…” Gowen pondered to himself.
Before the break of dawn, in that moment when the dark of the night grew even blacker, Gowen turned to the Forest of Darkness. The soldiers were cowering and horrified, all because of that goblin king’s attack.
Gowen didn’t know this, but of the forces that were battling against them, the orcs numbered 40, the goblins 50, and the kobolds 20.
Despite the various platoons suffering so much, they couldn’t be given the opportunity to rest. The option of “waiting” to allow morale to recover was simply not feasible. The longer they waited, the greater their losses would be. And even if they attacked, the forest was not something they could develop. The soldiers were too fearful of the few powerful among the goblins’ ranks.
“It seems… there’s no choice but to forcefully withdraw.”
There weren’t many choices from the start, but now they have no choice but to retreat. They would have to run at full speed to the cavalry waiting outside the forest.
“To that end…”
If they do choose to run, the goblins would surely give chase. If so, then they might as well take the initiative. The one leading the chase… that would be none other than the goblin king himself. If they could bring the fight back to them to slow down their momentum, they would be able to quickly withdraw.
Gowen grit his teeth and hardened his resolve.
As the reign of the night god finally came to an end, the bright light of the sun returned to the forest. Soldiers all around heaved sighs of relief, and Gowen left to decide the formations. It wasn’t until when the sun was at its highest that Gowen finished. Yuan would lead the retreat, while Gowen would watch the back.
Healthy soldiers were positioned in front to clear the way of monsters, while the wounded were placed behind them. Protecting the rearmost were Gowen and a group of soldiers he had specifically picked out.
After forcing down their meals, they hastily departed. On either side of the road were soldiers wielding long swords who served both as scouts and escorts for the wounded. In the middle were soldiers with spears, ready to strike at a moment’s notice.
By foot with the wounded, it would take a day or two until their destination. It would also depend on how fierce the goblins attack, but regardless, because of the road, they had no excuses not to bring the wounded.
The roads were still defenseless, however, and they had no intention of spending the night on it. Thus, they would walk be it night or day until they reach their destination.
“Kobolds behind us!” A soldier yelled, almost screaming.
Gowen looked up. A pack of kobolds led by a bigger kobold than the others watched them from behind. They didn’t seem to have any intentions of attacking, but neither did they seem to have any intentions of leaving.
“…Ignore it. Proceed,” Gowen said.
At the same time, he thought of how detestable of a move this was. Enough to almost make him start wondering whether a crafty human was actually pulling the strings behind these monsters.
Kobolds weren’t a problem. They could easily deal with them anytime, but the problem was that the goblin king was probably the one who sent them. If they careless chased the kobolds, they might just run and lead them deep into the forest, allowing the main force burdened with the wounded to be attacked.
But they didn’t need to chase the kobolds for them to have an effect either. Just their very presence was enough to pressure them. It was a simple pressure, but given time, even the simplest of pressures could pile up to become something heavy. And once the sun sets, that pressure would slowly sap their strength.
Gowen knew all these things, but he had no cards left to respond with. In fact, beads of sweat even started to appear on that ever expressionless face of his. Still, he kept his mind calm.
If he were to break now, the soldiers would fall into chaos. In that case, the soldiers might just scatter and run, making them easy pickings for the monsters to take.
It could happen.
The enemy was that strong of an adversary.
“Platoon leaders don’t let your guards down! I am watching the back. Those of you on the flanks, keep sharp!”
He didn’t know how much of an effect that would have, but he truly had no other cards left to play.
All that was left now was to trust in his strength and proceed.
When the humans departed, I ordered Hasu of the kobolds to watch them. I won’t let them rest even for a moment. The humans shouldn’t be able to stand against this pressure forever. They’ll eventually break. And when they do, our attack will have that much more of an effect.
“Don’t make a sound. We’ll be in trouble if they see us.”
We were also desperate. There might not have been much casualties on our side last night, but the continuous battles have been extremely taxing. Especially, since we had to travel a long way away from the fortress to get here. Not to mention the goblins of the Gi Village.
Many of the goblins are heaving and puffing just following the humans. Even the legs they use regularly to traverse the forest freely are heavy now. And even though the injured are at the back, the archers of Ganra all had to work to treat them.
Princess Narsa had to stay behind with the rear group to lead them, leaving only a handful of archers with Ra Gilmi as our archery.
The rare and noble class goblins are still healthy, but everyone else is suffering.
Looks like I’ll have to step up.
“King, when will we attack? The fatigue is piling up… Wouldn’t it be better to attack now?” Gi Za asked as he stood beside me.
I shook my head. “Not yet. We have to tire out the humans first. It will take a little longer before the hunt begins.”
Gi Za must’ve thought I was being too cautious, as in a rare show of disagreement, he said, “If we don’t hurry, they’ll make it to the entrance of the forest.”
That’s true. Which is why, we’ll have to carefully choose the timing.
“I know,” I said.
“…If you’re worried about incurring losses, just use the orcs,” Gi Za said in a hushed voice.
I shook my head again. I won’t be using just our strength, I’ll also use the others. It seems Gi Za has picked up the ability to read my thoughts to some extent ever since evolving into a shaman.
“I still have plenty of uses for the orc. There’s no reason to throw them away here.”
Looks like there’s still a considerable difference even in war between how much the goblins trust their fellow goblins and how much they trust the orcs.
“We’ll be pursuing them for time then?”
Gi Za nodded and then returned to his subordinates to encourage them. Do you think you’ll be able to avenge Gi Zo like that? I heard him say.
I have to teach them…
That conquerors have no need for compassion and indecision, only destruction.
As the march went on, morning turned to noon, and then noon to dusk. The soldiers carried the wounded along the road, wordlessly resting for an hour from time to time. Everyone quietly walked.
They were tired, so tired that even with the kobolds following them, most of the soldiers seemed about to fall asleep. The only reason the army had yet to collapse was because of their faith in Gowen’s strength. As long as Gowen was here, they would surely be able to come home. Those were the thoughts of the soldiers. Which is why they were able to save their comrades despite the harshness of this whole trip.
Somehow, they could still act with humanity.
“We’re moving!” A platoon leader said.
At his words, the soldiers stood up.
Everyone looked ready to be crushed from the fatigue and anxiety, yet they managed to keep their minds cool and gather together as an army.
“Just a little bit more! Four more hours and the entrance will come to view!” A platoon leader said.
The soldiers raised their heads. It was already past midnight, and after a few hours, the light of the sun would return. The monsters haven’t attacked either. Perhaps they’ve already given up and won’t be chasing anymore. Such thoughts gradually took root within the soldiers’ hearts.
Because of that they failed to realize the kobolds slowly closing in. Not even Gowen himself noticed. As far as he was concerned, the kobolds were just there to pressure them. The ones they should really pay attention to were the goblin king’s goblins, and then the orcs.
By the time he realized what was going on, it was too late. The kobolds had vanished in the darkness and was now biting at their heels.
As the soldiers were pulled down, their screams resounded under the embrace of the night god.
At the same time, a howl bellowed. And in an instant, the figure of the devil illuminated by the light of fire flashed through everyone’s mind.
“O-O-ORCS BEHIND US!” A soldier screamed.
Gowen knit his brows.
They’ve been had. That was the goblin king’s howl, but he was nowhere to be found.
Where is he going to come from!? He’s clever, so he will surely aim for their weak point. And as far as weak points went…
—The flanks are going to be crushed!
“Platoons, protect the injured and proceed!! Don’t let the monsters approach!” Gowen said in an almost angry voice as he brandished his long sword and positioned himself at the rear to defend against the orcs.
The various platoon leaders all yelled at Gowen’s orders to calm down the panicking soldiers. “Draw your weapons! Don’t falter!”
They kept a watchful eye out for their flanks even as they marched forward. All the feelings of wanting to run were suppressed by courage.
But the force that hit the flanks was overwhelming. The noble class, Gi Gu Verbena, the ferocious Rashka of Gaidga, and the adherent of the mad god, Gi Zu.
In no time at all, a hole was chewed out of the humans’ defensive line. The injured picked up their weapons to fight, but the goblins easily wiped them out. They were only three goblins, but their fighting power was devastating.
Gi Gu worked exceedingly well with his subordinates to eliminate the humans. Rashka trampled on everyone with his overwhelming black power. And Gi Zu fought savagely with the Mad Dog skill he received from the Mad God. Under their fierce attack, the defensive lines of the humans was quickly broken.
“Damn it, at this rate!”
When the platoon leaders realized that the defensive lines wouldn’t recover, they decided to prioritize those who haven’t been hurt. At the very least, the injured should escape.
As the platoon leaders came to that decision, they implored the soldiers to walk ahead. It started to look like they would have to split off from the rear, but if they didn’t hurry and quell the confusion, they would suffer even more losses. The platoon leaders clenched their fist at the callousness of their decision, and went to fight the goblins themselves at the rear.
It was a praiseworthy decision, but the soldiers that ran off were greeted only by an even worse hell.
“They came again!!”
Attacking the soldiers that left the rear were Alashd of Paradua and his rider-beast cavalry, Gi Gi and the beast tamers, and Gi Za and the druids.
“Vengeance for our brethren!” Gi Gi yelled as he broke through the defensive line with his triple head. The person he and his subordinates were looking for was none other than Bellan. As they cut down the humans, their eyes darted to and fro, looking for a man wielding a sword of flame.
“Put to rest Gi Zo’s regrets here!” Gi Za ordered his subordinate druids before looking around him. “And so, the board is set.”
In the battlefield, in the center of the onslaught of flying heads and gushing blood, where the blood dyed the land red, Gi Za laughed. All that was left was for the king to add the finishing touches.
The stimulation from the battle rising up from his chest caused Gi Za to smile.
The night was yet to end.
Tl Note: Third Chapter of the week.