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Volume 3: Chapter 178 – The Blade That Does Not Rot(1/3)
The Goblin King’s advance guard, Gi Gi Orudo the ancient beast tamer, Gi Zu Ruo the mad lion, and Gi Ji Arsil the Assassin were advancing toward the south. They have made it their policy to meet together once a day.
Presently, they were not moving but were instead searching their surroundings as the king had instructed them.
“I wonder if the humans aren’t going to send someone to hunt today too,” Gi Zu said unhappily.
“You don’t look happy,” Gi Gi said as he stuffed his cheeks with the meat his tamed beast handed him.
“Do you have a problem with the king’s orders?” Gi Jii glared sharply at Gi Zu.
“No, but there aren’t a lot human villages here, so…”
“And the beasts also need to be—”
“The scouting too, no matter how many people we have—”
Gi Zu groaned as he watched Gi Gi and Gi Ji’s eyes twinkling.
The kings orders were for the three of them to report on three different matters.
Gi Gi was to report on the condition of his beasts as well as the food, Gi Zu was to report on the condition of the human villages, and Gi Ji was to report on the geography of the area up ahead.
The goblins were skilled walkers, and they could reach the territory of the Kushain believers within 8 days, but the king had explicitly told them to slow down their pace and gather information.
Territories in the free cities weren’t clearly defined, and soldiers had to patrol along the villages that were built along the borders.
The Kingdom of Germion had never gone past the borders of its western region. The western region may have boasted a population of over 10,000 humans and flourished under Gowen’s rule, but its scope was limited only to the area from the western capital until the colonial city.
In the same vein, the territories connecting to the borders of Germion Kingdom were ruled by the small feudal lords of the free cities. People living in such lands could be a group of pioneers who reclaimed a land, cultivated it, and started living on it; they could be a group of settlers sent from a nearby village; they could also be the supporters of a noble who’d lost in a power struggle. There were all sorts of reasons, but in general, people who lived in the borders were usually people with little power.
Of course, if they’re able to lead a group of pioneers, then they must have some degree of leadership; or if not, then perhaps a powerful sponsor. But regardless, the distance between the people and the feudal lord in such lands wasn’t big.
Even the bigger pioneer groups would usually only have 300 people at most, so they were few enough in number that they could see each other everyday. And naturally, even if you don’t like the person, if you see them everyday, you’re bound to know them.
As such, emotions naturally form between the feudal lord and the people. Unlike the aristocrats in the big cities, aristocrats in the borders rarely treated their people harshly.
The people also have more power, as they are able to see the disposition of the next feudal lord. If the next feudal lord is too cruel, then there would be a trend to prefer a different one.
After 2 or 3 generations, the feudal lords living along the borders have finally started to become a little bigger. Growth meant more villages under them, as well as small feudal lords wanting to throw their lot with them, but there were also people who would want a growing feudal lord to fall before becoming trouble.
Life along the borders was harsh.
Feudal lords would sometimes come warring, thieves were prevalent, farming did not make enough money, but the most problematic of them all were the monster beast attacks.
In the early days, the feudal lords in the borders were most concerned about monster beasts and farming.
Conflict among humans was their second biggest concern, and in fact, even Gowen, who ruled the western region, shared this sentiment. Because of that he didn’t try to provoke them, and instead focused on developing his villages toward the north.
He then decided to try and make use of the Forest of Darkness’ wealth. After which, upon becoming stronger, he would then try his luck at conquering the south.
Gowen did not share his plan with words, instead he executed it. His actions were able to fool even King Ashtal, and for a moment, there was friction between the two of them, friction that would quickly be settled as the goblin threat grew too big to ignore.
For over 10 years, Gowen and the free cities focused on dealing only with the natural calamities and the monster beasts, allowing them to successfully increase their strength.
The first generation feudal lords were still in active duty due to their ability and popularity, so they were able to create many brilliant successors.
The Goblin King was not able to see that far, but inferring from his experience and knowledge, he figured that a human who could cultivate unexplored lands like the humans of the Forest of Darkness would surely not be incompetent.
Looking at the previous battle, there was Gowen Ranid, who was an old but powerful enemy, and looking toward the south, there was the giant country that was the free cities. Naturally, he would consider such nations neighboring his Forest of Darkness to be the end of his borders.
Having thought to this point, the Goblin King had no choice but to act prudently. What he feared the most was the appearance of a 2nd Gowen Ranid. He didn’t want a powerful warrior as an enemy either, but a powerful ruler was an even bigger problem.
Despite that what made the Goblin King decide to move for the south was the existence of the Kushain believers. He saw a path through his chance meeting with the patriarch, Benem Nemush.
This was information he got from the Leon Heart Clan, his human allies.
The free cities had been split into two sides, the north and the south, and was in chaos due to Nemush’ holy war. It was still a mystery how their conflict would affect the borders, but the Goblin King believed that it wouldn’t be a problem.
The Germion Kingdom to their east had several small fortresses on their side of the border. But they were by no means infallible should the Goblin King decide to gather his forces. That being said, destroying them would only serve to make his relations with Germion Kingdom irreconcilable.
The goblin forces numbered approximately 2000, that included both the elves and the demihumans. Adding the newly added Leon Heart Clan, they had no more than 3,000 soldiers.
The Goblin King did not believe it was possible to conquer Germion Kingdom with only 3,000 soldiers.
Because of that he decided to set his sights on the free cities to the south instead. He would conquer them and increase his allies, and then he would conquer Germion Kingdom.
Having thought that far, the Goblin King was faced with another question: How would he accomplish that?
The humans were unlikely to submit to him were he to merely take them by force. What would be most preferable was if they approached him instead and clung to him.
If so, then what would he have to do to make that happen?
There were three things.
One, he needed to rid them of prejudice; two, he needed an enemy that was more atrocious than the goblins; and three, he needed to show his power.
The hardest of the three was the issue of prejudice. As for the remaining two, he could deal with them later. Showing his power, in particular, was quite easy.
All he would need was war.
Moreover, he would not be waging war on the small feudal lords, instead he would be waging war on the enemy that is more atrocious than the goblins.
Such an enemy was currently making its presence felt in the northern part of the free cities. The Goblin King felt bad for them, but unfortunately, he needed them as a stepping stone. The Goblin King believed it would be possible to show his might by waging war on them.
As for the last remaining issue, the issue of prejudice. This was indeed the most difficult problem. But unless he solves it, it wasn’t likely that the small feudal lords would come to rely on them.
If there isn’t a way to solve an issue in one fell swoop, then he would just have to take it slowly.
Not killing humans needlessly, even going as far as seeing them off to their territory, not imposing unreasonable taxes on them, and not making them suffer… Everything was for the sake of solving that last problem.
And the ones who have been tasked with that important task was the Leon Heart Clan, who accepted even demihumans and elves into their ranks.
If they weren’t around, the Goblin King would have worked alongside the elf, Felbi, to realize his plans, but now that they’ve come, it would be a pity to waste such good pawns.
Would humans refuse a helping hand in time of need? The answer is no. It doesn’t matter what their intentions are, when a helping hand is offered during a crisis, the humans will surely take it.
The Goblin King’s long arm stretched toward the borders of the small feudal lords.