Water rushed down from that tens of meters high waterfall, striking against the deep pool of water at the bottom, creating countless sprays of water. The water within this deep pool flowed out into a narrow creek, slowly winding its way downwards. Barker and Zassler followed this little creek deeper and deeper into Mt. Blackraven.
At the end of this creek was a peaceful lake. In the center of the lake, there was a gracefully built wooden cabin.
In front of the wooden cabin, there was a long-haired man wearing a loose robe who was wielding a violet longsword slowly. But in actuality, this ‘slowness’ was an illusion, a misperception of Zassler’s and Barker’s. Although it seemed slow, in truth, it was terrifyingly fast.
This sensation of a visual misperception made Barker and Zassler have the urge to vomit blood.
With each strike of the sword, it seemed as though the surrounding space itself was twisted.
Barker and Zassler glanced at each other, their eyes filled with shock. It had only been a few months, but Linley had made yet another breakthrough! They had never before seen Linley use this sword technique before. Just now, from what they had seen, they were certain…that this sword technique definitely was astonishingly powerful.
Barker and Zassler stood at the edges of the lake, quietly waiting.
After a long time, Linley sheathed his sword.
“Come over.” With a wave of Linley’s hands, a sudden gust of wind emerged, creating a ‘bridge of air’ between the wooden cabin and the lakeshore. “You can just walk over. Don’t be afraid. You won’t fall.”
Baker and Zassler glanced at each other, and then they stepped onto this ‘bridge of air’, walking to the center where Linley’s wooden cabin was.
Linley sat down next to the stone bench. With a flip of his hand, he withdrew a flask of wine and three cups. Laughing calmly, he said, “Zassler, if you had come a few days ago, I probably would’ve only been able to use the wind to bring you over directly. I wouldn’t have been able to do what I just did.”
Zassler was an Arch Magus necromancer of the ninth rank. Although he was almost at the Saint-rank, he couldn’t fly. And given his body’s relative frailty, there was no way he could walk on water either.
“Lord, what was that, just now?” Barker had yet to recover from his shock.
Zassler looked at Linley as well. Laughing, Linley explained, “It is one way by which one can use the Laws of the Wind. Not too long ago, I gained some insights on the ‘Slow’ aspect, which allowed me to do what I just did. But I still am quite a ways off from the ‘Spatial Lock’ level.”
“What is a ‘Spatial Lock’?” Zassler questioned.
Linley didn’t explain further. Zassler and Barker weren’t practitioners of the Elemental Laws of the Wind. How could they possibly understand his explanations? When Linley had sparred against Miller, that expert from the mysterious mountain village, Linley had suddenly seen a clearer path to gaining a deeper understanding in the ‘Slow’ aspect of the wind. Naturally, that made training progress twice as fast for half the effort.
If Miller were to have seen Linley training, he would’ve been shocked.
In just a few short months, Linley had been able to advance this much. This sort of rate of improvement was simply terrifyingly fast.
Pouring cups of wine for each man, Linley raised his own winecup in a toast. Smiling, he said, “Just tell me why you have come.”
Barker said, “Lord, after spending some time on the management of our current territory, we have completed our military reorganization, and given them three months of training. It is about time to attack a few other cities.” As soon as he heard these words, a smile crept onto Linley’s face.
He had been eagerly awaiting this day.
“This time, we should be attacking that prefectural city, right?” Linley said.
The nearby Zassler nodded. “Right. According to my plans, this time, we should attack three small cities and the prefectural city of Moat [Mo’te].” Linley’s side currently had six cities and six legions with fifty thousand soldiers. This sort of military power was on par with that of a prefectural city.
Linley’s side had experts as well! This was a definite advantage.
“After we take down the prefectural city, we will be able to announce publicly that we have founded a Duchy.” Barker chortled.
Linley had been eagerly awaiting the founding of the Duchy. He still remembered Delia’s appointment with him in that letter. The day he founded his own Duchy was the day on which Delia would leave the Yulan Empire to come looking for him.
“Linley.” Zassler asked, “After we take down the prefectural city, what should we do next? Should we continue taking over cities which belong to neither the Radiant Church nor the Cult of Shadows? Or should we begin to launch attacks against the cities which the Radiant Church controls?”
Per their battle maps, after taking down the prefectural city, to the south of the territory which Linley controlled was the territory under the dominion of the Radiant Church.
Of course, the Radiant Church’s control was in secret. On the surface, they were all Duchies. But in truth, it was quite easy to tell which were controlled by the Radiant Church and which were controlled by the Cult of Shadows! The way to do so was to simply look at the temples in those prefectural cities. If the city had a Radiant Temple, then that Duchy was secretly controlled by the Radiant Church.
If it had a Shadow Temple, then it was controlled by the Cult of Shadows.
“Begin attacking the Duchies controlled by the Radiant Church.” Linley’s eyes narrowed as he made his decision. “As our activities grow more and more pronounced, the intelligence network of the Radiant Church would definitely take note of the five Barker brothers. Knowing that you are here, it would be strange if they didn’t realize that I, Linley, was here as well.”
Linley looked at Barker and Zassler, then chuckled. “After we take down the prefectural city, we’ll spend some time stabilizing it and do a wholesale reorganization of our armies. After reorganizing our armies, then we will begin attacking the territory controlled by the Radiant Church!”
“But of course, let’s only launch some small attacks at first, and see how the Radiant Church responds.” Linley laughed calmly. “Let’s see if they immediately counterattack, or if they refrain from doing so, or if they send over experts to find me.”
Zassler understood Linley’s intentions. Laughing, he said, “Right. If the Radiant Church decides to openly fight you, Linley, then…the name of the Duchy will be based off of your family name. Let us call it the ‘Baruch Duchy’!”
“But if the Radiant Church refrains, then we can continue to pretend you are not here, and we can just choose a name for the Duchy at random.”
Hearing Zassler’s words, Linley nodded in approval.
Right now, what they needed to see was how the Radiant Church would react. If the experts of the Radiant Church did not appear, then Linley wouldn’t act. He would let Barker and his brothers stir up trouble, repeatedly attacking cities. If enemy experts appeared….then they would respond in this manner.
“When will we attack the city of Moat?” Barker looked at Linley.
“Hurry up and start.” Linley replied.
Linley’s words caused all six cities to begin gearing up for war. One legion with nine thousand men, led by Boone, Ankh, and Hazer, went to attack three smaller cities, while the other four legions, under the leadership of Gates and Barker, went to attack the prefectural city of Moat.
Zassler watched over Blackdirt City.
“Kill!” The grounds beneath the walls of the prefectural city of Moat were totally red with blood. At first, the prefectural city of Moat had sent their army of twenty thousand out, preparing to directly battle against the enemy. But when the troops led by Gates and Barker had charged into them, massive casualties had resulted.
Gates and Barker were two terrible gods of battle.
Wherever those massive greataxes whirled about, people died in vast numbers. Each army had its own elite squads, and Gates and Barker focused precisely on those people. Wherever there was a tough pocket of resistance, they went to snuff it out.
Quickly, the twenty-thousand man army of the prefectural city of Moat was utterly shattered. Their morale totally gone, many people immediately surrendered, then and there.
More than half had died. The lucky survivors…were all captured.
They couldn’t flee even if they wanted to. The city gates to the prefectural city of Moat were firmly shut. The city governor of the prefectural city of Moat simply didn’t dare to open the gates. Once he did, those two fiends would charge inside and he would definitely die. Right now, the prefectural city of Moat only had twenty thousand soldiers.
The soldiers of Blackdirt City were arranged in neat, orderly rows. Those ten thousand prisoners were utterly demoralized, with many wounded. Only two or three thousand were in battle-shape. Blood covered the ground, and the morale of the city guards of the prefectural city of Moat was at rock bottom.
“What is going on? Why are they standing so far away?” The garrison troops were growing frantic. The range the enemy was at was far beyond bow range.
Suddenly, those two godlike leaders suddenly charged forward at high speed, greataxes in hand. Their speed was so fast that everyone gaped as they watched. The garrison troops immediately shouted out, “Archers, prepare to attack those two men. Fire!”
The hundred elite archers selected from within the ordinary ranged division were all equipped with powerful bows, which they began to use to fire down upon the two men. However, Barker and Gates were simply too fast. Only a few arrows hit them, but even the ones that hit them were deflected off.
“Haha, watch this!” Gates roared in excitement. Raising his heart-stoppingly terrifying greataxe, he chopped down in the direction of that distant city gate.
A sudden, terrifying sound rang out from the city gates. The tall, strong city gates shuddered and then began to crack, but it didn’t actually break.
“The gates of a prefectural city are far sturdier than those of smaller cities.” Gates laughed loudly, the sound of his laughter shaking the heavens. The soldiers on the walls of Moat could hear it clearly. “Big brother, no need for you to get involved, I can deal with that gate.”
That powerful blast of force from afar had already caused the soldiers on the wall to turn pale-faced.
Who fought battles like this?!
Smashing straight through the front gates and charging in?!
“Drop the boulders, quick, drop the boulder!” The shrill voice of the city governor rang out. The walls of this prefectural city were over ten meters thick. Aside from the normally closed city gates, there were actually a few other apertures. From those apertures, massive boulders began to fall down.
Those ten-plus thick, heavy boulders crashed down with enough power that not even a warrior of the ninth rank could disregard them. These were used especially for dealing with experts.
Gates’ face changed, and he howled angrily, “Motherf*cker, out of my way!” That greataxe moved as agilely as a leaf, gently touching the city gate. The gate shuddered violently, and then half of it broke apart and crumbled. But with a low rumbling sound, those boulders began to fall down, blocking off the city entrance.
“Break.” Barker also used the same technique, ‘wielding something heavy as though it were light’.
“Boom!” The boulder shuddered, and pieces of rock were sent flying everywhere. Over a meter-deep crack appeared on the surface of the boulder, but compared to its terrifyingly massive size, even a deep crack meant little to it.
Gates and Barker glanced at each other.
“We’ll have to act per his Lordship’s orders.” Gates laughed.
As Linley had directed, Barker and his brothers were to keep their identity as Undying Warriors a secret. They were one of Linley’s hidden weapons. After all, the Radiant Church didn’t know their identity for certain. The only thing they could reveal was what the Radiant Church already knew.
“Haeru!” Barker let out a loud roar.
“Grooooowl!” An earth-shaking roar could be heard, and that terrifying black panther which had been in the middle of the army suddenly grew dramatically larger, reaching a height of ten meters and a length of twenty. Seeing this enormous, three-story tall magical beast…all of the people in the prefectural city of Moat were utterly stunned.
“A Saint-level magical beast!”
Those guards were speechless.
“Bang!” The three-story tall Haeru transformed into a black blur, charging at the city gates. In the blink of an eye, he traversed the thousand meters of distance to the city gates. The city gates were twenty meters high, but Haeru’s terrifying body slammed directly against that ten-meter thick boulder.
A terrifying explosion could be heard.
That boulder split apart as though it were made of tofu, exploding into countless pieces which went flying every which way. Many of the garrison soldiers in the city were struck by the flying stones and had their heads broken open or their chests caved in…and that was just the appetizer.
The terrifying magical beast, Haeru, charged through and began to kill.
He was an absolute war machine. Anything standing before him would be trampled to death or knocked flying. Countless casualties!
“Surrender! We surrender!”
Even the sturdiest of warriors, when faced with such a terrifying magical beast, would feel powerless. All of them immediately threw down their weapons and knelt down, signifying surrender. A Saint-level magical beast…how could soldiers like them possibly resist against such an overpowering force?
“Surrender. I surrender.” The city governor of the prefectural city of Moat fell to his knees, his entire body shaking.
After taking over the prefectural city of Moat, Linley’s side now had a prefectural city and nine smaller cities, and now controlled a population of nine million. They could already be considered a relatively large Duchy in size.