Chapter 21 – Three pronged approach.
Brendel’s mind quickly spun. He thought if he had some form of scouting skill available, like ‘Eagle-eye’ or ‘precognition’ or other related skills, he could persuade them. As his mind went through the possibilities, he suddenly thought of another way.
[Of course! That will work too!]
He wiped his sweaty palms again and relaxed.
“Right now the River of Daggers is in a state where it’s nearly unprotected. In the worst case, there’s only one squadron of undead defending there, so why not break through that area?”
Everyone’s initial response was almost the same.
“What, is that true?”
“How’s that possible?”
“How did you know this?”
Brendel raised his hand to silence them: “Bretton, do you recall that your guards found a half-broken statue in the green village?”
“The statue that looks like a devil, heavy and frightening, yes.” Bretton suddenly recalled a report from Zeta and Ryan. They had found it in the underground passage in a ruined shrine. They said they found signs of a knight, and the guards expanded their search for him before finding the statue.
Brendel took the small black statue from his pocket: “That’s called a gargoyle. I think even you have heard of it. This is a war unit of Bucce’s, and wizards control these gargoyles using this thing here.”
He laid it flat on his palm and raised his arm for everyone to see clearly. The young guards that participated in the Green village’s search quickly recognized that it looked exactly like the statue.
“Wait, you mean to say you can control that thing?”
“Can it still move?”
“That thing has wings, can it fly?” The scout, Zeta, asked Brendel from the back.
“Yes, and it can fly as fast as a dragon. The army position for this unit is similar to our own kingdom’s flying dragon riders. It is the best scout in the battlefield, and I used it to avoid the majority of the undead when the militia and I went to the Green village.”
“During yesterday’s morning, I discovered that the Madara’s army in the north had stalled in their progress. There were at least three companies that stayed in Verbin as they did not lock down the northern shores in time. They had problems in their cooperation over there, and the undead armies in front of us have not discovered their mistake yet.” (TL: In case anyone forgot, a company in army size = 80 to 250 soldiers according to wikipedia.)
“Unfortunately, the gargoyle that I sent out was discovered by the undead patrols and damaged as a result. When I ordered it back, it landed in the Green village.”
Freya suddenly responded when Brendel finished explaining.
“So that’s the reason. Brendel, when you said you had something to do, it was this? No wonder you always managed to lead us away from danger and wanted to go to the green village with your injuries. If you wanted to repair that thing, why don’t you just tell us?”
Before Brendel could say anything, the future Goddess of War bowed her head.
“Sorry, Brendel, I’m also at fault. I was angry with you at that time, but I didn’t think that it was for our sake.”
Brendel suddenly felt that he was too much of a genius, as he managed to actually weave such a story out from nowhere. And it even let Freya connect everything from the beginning. He did not know whether it was because he was just too smart or because Freya was just too stupid.
He suddenly felt a little embarrassed when he saw Freya’s apologetic face. (TL: This scumbag Brendel!)
With Freya’s speech, everyone already believed in Brendel’s story. She was the best militia out of Bucce’s current batch, and even Marden had a good impression of her. She was also a native of Bucce, and surely she had no reason to lie to them right?
Even Bretton rubbed his forehead and asked: “Can that thing still move?”
“I can’t say for sure. I’ll try my best to test it out. I already reestablished the contact with it, and the only thing left is for it to recover on its own.” Brendel lied without battling an eyelid.
[If I could move that thing, I don’t need to waste my time bullshitting you, pff.]
A level 23 gargoyle, never mind a necromancer, even if Rothko was to fight against it he would have trouble handling it.
Bretton was unsatisfied with this reply: “You’re really as stupid as a pig. How did you let the enemy discover the gargoyle flying in the air. If we had this flying scout, our position would be much better.”
“Is your particular talent called ‘Shirking your responsibilities’? If I’m not here, will you forget to fight your own battles too?” Brendel mocked him.
“Alright, that’s enough. The battles ahead should be our duty. Kid, we will believe in what you said. But the Madara undead in front of us are still alert, and it will be different when we bring the villagers along with us, compared to just the guards moving. Do you really think we can escape?” Marden asked pensively.
“This would have to be under your responsibility, Captain Marden.”
“Well said.” The old veteran could not help but look at Brendel thoughtfully. He found it strange that Brendel seemed to know what he was thinking at every other turn and answered it. He thought that if this young man changed his career and entered into politics, he would have a great future.
Only the Gods know that Brendel knew his personality all too well.
Marden stood up and ordered: “On my command, the Bucce guards shall gather here and prepare to break out of this siege!”
The guards stood up together at the same time.
Marden looked back and said: “Zeta, tell the villagers to let the men amongst them to gather up. Now is the time for Aouine’s men to protect their home and families.”
Zeta looked puzzledly at him. “Captain?”
“What are you looking at? Are you afraid of death? Let me tell you Bucce’s guards youngsters, this is the moment where you fulfill your oath. We will attack the Madara’s vanguard before dawn to break out of the siege, but I doubt anyone here will be able to survive.
However, that is fine! Because the Bucce’s villagers will sing of our bravery and tell everyone in this world that we are not afraid of death, and have fulfilled our responsibilities till the very end.”
The old veteran swept his gaze on everyone with his expression solemn:
“My old commander used to say this to me, ‘It’s a warrior’s duty to protect the weak.’ I give you now this exact quote what he said, and I hope you remember the glory of defending your kingdom!
Therefore, all of you know what you have to do right?
Bretton, I want you to lead the rest of the villagers to escape from the River of Daggers. There’s only one requirement needed here, do you understand?”
“I do.” Bretton’s eyes were heavy, but he bowed and replied.
“Very good.” Marden nodded: “Kid, and Freya, the two of you. I’m requesting you as militia to immediately join the Bucce guards, do any of you have an objection?”
Freya immediately shook her head.
But Brendel nodded under everyone’s shocked looks: “I have an objection.”
Marden paused in surprise.
“Speak,” He looked at Brendel for a while: “If you’re afraid of death, then you can get the fuck out of here right now. Bucce’s guards have no use for cock-sucking cowards.”
There were murmurs of laughter from his surroundings, but strangely Bretton was silent. Brendel glanced at him in wonder, then his eyes fell onto Romaine and he remembered what they had talked about earlier.
“I have never saw them before. My aunt was already with me by the time I started to remember things. She even told me, little Romaine, remember to repay my kindness!”
“… So that’s why you want to become a merchant?”
“That’s a strange thought.”
“It’s fine that you think that way.”
Brendel smiled in his heart. He looked back at Marden.
“Captain Marden, from Bucce’s point of view, the decision you made is fine, but have you forgotten to ask a question?”
“What question?” Marden was once again baffled, becoming more and more curious of this kid.
“The three villages in the Bucce’s region act as a buffer for Fortress Riedon, and Bucce’s guards always had the responsibilities of alerting Fortress Riedon of any invaders. If you chose to leave just like this, then what will happen to Fortress Riedon that didn’t receive any warning? I would not think that all the responsibilities are fulfilled till the very end.”
Everyone’s faces gradually changed as they heard Brendel’s speech. He was right. If they merely led the Bucce’s villagers out of danger, they would not have accomplish the responsibilities that were given to them. If Madara managed to break Fortress Riedon, then Stronghold Vermiere’s defensive line would be compromised.
And if that was to happen, then someday the entire Grinoires’s region might be taken by the Madara’s undead army. The young men were at a loss for words when they thought that Madara might be able to invade the Capital with their undead army, Bruglas.
But what could they do here?
“We tried our fucking best!”
“We could only do so much under this damn situation!”
“It’s not that we abandoned Fortress Riedon, i-it’s Fortress Riedon that abandoned us!” (TL: What the?!)
But Marden just stared at Brendel. Since he pointed this out, it would mean that he had a solution.
“Indeed. I do know of a path that could bypass the siege and lead straight to Fortress Riedon. Even though the chance is small, it’s better than nothing.” When Brendel said this, the air in his lungs seemed to be squeezed out of him. He exhaled deeply.
He looked back at Romaine again who had lowered her head and was fretfully fidgeting with her bag.
“The Zevail mountain pathway.”
Marden took a deep breath. Even though he had searched for various routes in his mind, he had avoided this place subconsciously. He wanted to remind and ask Brendel if he knew how dangerous this pathway was.
This pathway was the south of Beldor’s forest, passing through the pine valley and river, and led to out to the wild forest of Aouine’s borders. Once they were out of of the pathway they were at the edge of civilization, but ever since ‘The Roaring Year’ (Year 350 of the first Era), there was no one who ever came out alive after they entered this mountain path.
There was even a rumor of fierce dragons in the valley.
He even thought there was a sliver of hope to survive from attacking Madara, compared to entering the pathway which would result in certain death. He contemplated for a long time, but was unable to discard the idea that the pathway was more dangerous.
“That’s a route of no return, kid.” The old veteran shook his head.
“There is no need to fulfill your responsibilities, only your attempt in doing so.” Brendel replied.
“But I can’t send my soldiers to death there, that would be irresponsible to them. A warrior should have glory in death.”
“That is not a problem.” Brendel replied: “I’ll go.”
There was a complete silence.
“Wh-, say that again?” Marden was completely dumbfounded.
“Why would you… the responsibilities of Bucce’s guards have nothing to do with you at all?! Kid, if you want to force yourself, why not join us?” The old veteran could not help but ask for the reason.
“No, I’m not forcing myself.” Brendel looked back at Romaine and gave a small smile. “I have my reason why I need to go there. If there are any other reasons, they are just there along for the ride. Now then, Little Romaine, are you willing to come along with me?”
Romaine stopped what she was doing and lifted her head up in delighted surprise.