Chapter 164 – Gambler’s roulette (1)
A thin blade pierced through a skull, and the final Zombie Outlander lost its strength and fell to the ground heavily.
The female commander with fiery red hair gripped her sword with a single hand and looked at her surroundings. The reflection in her emerald eyes showed many skeletal bones and mercenaries’ corpses. The battle had finally ended. Even though they paid a hefty price, they had managed to fight the attackers off.
Jana exhaled slowly and returned her rapier into a sheath covered with black leather.
“Commander!” A shout came from behind her. She turned back and saw one of her youngest mercenaries run over.
“Leave your protests for later. Get some men to stay behind and take care of our injured, while the rest advance. We have wasted too much time, and we need to control the west gate before Madara arrives!”
“Wait!” The boy bent over and held on to his knees in support while he tried to catch his breath.
“What?” She frowned and said with impatience.
“It’s too late,” The youth’s voice was surprisingly loud: “Sometime after we began fighting the monsters, group Mouse caught a glimpse of a magic signal from the south. Commander, it’s too late, the undead has already reached the western city gates. If we head over there, we will just meet against countless undead.”
“What else did Mouse say?” She stopped moving and turned around with her full attention.
“They also said our only option is to retreat right now. We should break through from the north and leave the Firburh. When the undead pours in, every one of us will die.”
“If we leave now, what will happen to the citizens here?”
“Commander, can we change anything by staying here?!” The boy refuted anxiously.
“Shut up!” She punched the nearby wall with her full strength, causing the bricks to crack in a radial direction: “Get our men ready. Have the groups ready; Owls, Wolves, and Bears. Get these three groups to advance in the streets! If we can’t stop them from entering the city, we’ll intercept them here!”
“Commander!” He said: “We have less than three hundred men. The undead skeletons could easily reach ten thousand! If we don’t rely on the city’s stone walls we cannot stop them!”
“We have to do it even if we can’t! Are you trying to make me break my promise! Follow my orders, now!”
“Commander, does a noble deserve to have your promise? That young man is leading us only because he has a quarrel with Graudin in the first place. He’s a stranger and even stands on the same line on Graudin’s side, why should we fight for someone like him! Your parents and sister died at the damned nobles! Most of us here have the same background like you, and w-w-we followed you because we respect you! Why should we die for someone like him, let them kill each other!”
Jana was momentarily silent. She sighed and wanted to respond gently when a sudden bang could be heard from the inner city. A pure pillar of white light shot into the sky, vanishing the darkness and lighting up the sky. It was as though Mother Marsha had shed her first tear in the darkness, just like how it was described in Kirrlutz’s poems of the world’s creation.
The light was born in the darkness, bestowing blessed wisdom, spirit and resplendence to the creatures.
Jana and the mercenaries around her looked to the sky in rapt wonder. A Magic Formation began to expand in the sky, reaching a span of hundred meters before it exploded and blasted the clouds apart, and the final form of the magic was—
“Graudin is dead.”
Words burned in the sky like fire.
Her voice was flat in tone.
“My Lord is asking us to respond to him.” She said.
“My…… lord?” The youth replied in shock.
“That idiot Cornelius has chosen to stick that young noble, so why would I not dare to? Graudin is dead, and Lord Gaston has given me his answer. From now onwards, I shall follow him.” She lowered her head and laughed before she shook her head: “Unfortunately, it seems that time has run out.”
“There is no ‘but.’ Are we able to send a signal?”
“…… The necromancers have used Black Magic and shrouded the streets with a spell. Only the Light and Dark elements can be utilized. Trying to use other Elements end up fizzling. We don’t have a priest or wizard in our group, and our strongest Elementalist is an Iron-ranked; he’s not able to use any magic at all.” He shook his head.
“How about Signalling Arrows?”
“Mouse said that stuff requires Elemental Mana.”
“Then we have to use our own means to buy some time for Lord Gaston.” She gritted her teeth once while she looked into the dark alleys before her.
She wore a solemn look, taking a moment to herself before she raised her head and turned around. Her rapier was pointed to the right: “Everyone here, listen up! A certain someone has given an answer to us through the biggest way possible, but we have failed to answer in return. I am now giving you the order to advance to the west gate. Either we stop the damned undead here, or they can walk past us by stepping over our dead bodies!”
The large street was silent for a moment, with Jana’s strict order echoing for several moments. Everyone stopped what they were doing as they looked at their commander.
“Answer me, are there any cowards in my army?”
“There are none!” The mercenaries raised their weapons and roared.
“Commander, why would you do this much for a noble—” The boy said through clenched teeth.
Jana laughed again and patted the boy’s head, while she got closer to his ear and whispered:
“Little boy, I know more about nobles than you do. If that young man is truly a proper noble, he wouldn’t have killed Graudin. The rules between the nobles are sacrosanct, and no one has broken them for the past few centuries—”
She took a few steps back and looked at the moon.
“Regardless of who he is, our deals between him and I are concluded.”
The boy looked at her in shock.
============ Raban’s POV =============
The fierce battle continued in the south gate. With the Firebrand’s commander careful watch, the mercenaries kept up a rhythmical approach of engaging the undead carefully, losing almost none of their own.
The battle in the darkness repeatedly continued as though it was never going to end. Everyone was exhausted. Before their eyes were countless skeletons and undead creatures stacked up like a small hill.
The defensive line was maintained at the gates.
The earlier destruction from Brendel’s sword had caused a considerable amount of damage to the nearby city walls. The majority of the mercenaries were Iron-ranked fighters, and barely held up against the assault by limiting the number of undead that was able to enter the city.
In truth, the mercenaries were willing to sacrifice as many bodies as possible to prevent the undead from entering the city before them. One could hardly describe this as a battle, but a bone grinder that crushed and cut the skeletons into tiny bits every time they entered.
Both commanders continued to send their forces to contest this hole mercilessly. However, the necromancers had unlimited stakes to gamble their troops with, and they continued to send countless attempts to break through a victory on the table.
It was one of the reasons why the living feared the undead—
“Crossbowmen, ready yourselves—”
“Reload your blunt bolts—”
One of the squadron’s captain took up the position of calling the timings for the ranged mercenaries on the walls. The veteran men once again pulled upon their bottles of Blessed water and poured them all over their bundles of crossbow bolts. They felt somewhat pained and reluctant to do so, as they rarely spent this much coin to use in a normal battle.
They raised their fortified crossbows and aimed at the skeletons marching in droves into the hole.
Sharp twangs resounded in a single moment, and the whistling bolts seemed to form an invisible barrier, striking the skeletons down and turned into ashes with burning flames.
Raban was nearby that hole, crushing a skeleton below with his feet. He carried his greatsword shoulder with one hand. He had just swapped the first squadron of exhausted mercenaries with the second squadron. He quickly barked out his next order and ordered a few sellswords to bring down the injured men from the city walls. The battle was slow and unending, just like the battles he had experienced in Karsuk.
He did not waver against the endless number of undead, knowing quite well what he was capable of, as well as knowing what Madara’s undead was capable of.
When the pillar of light shot into the sky, he laughed heartily: “A noble killing another noble. It seems like I received an appropriate compensation. It’s the first time I have seen them kill each other than poison or assassinations or political scheming. This young man is more than a brute that I expected.”
“What things are these nobles not capable of?” His adjutant replied.
Raban cast an amused glance at him.
“You don’t understand,” he said before he put his focus back onto the battlefield: “How long more?”
Raban raised his hand: “Go and make sure to place our Warflags higher. After this wave of undead, the necromancers will be coming out. Since that brutish noble has given me an answer, I need to have a reply ready as well.”
“Dawn……” The commander of Firebrand’s mercenary looked out to the horizons: “It’s coming soon enough. That’s the completion of the Head’s first order. ”
“Let’s call him by that title,” Raban muttered to himself.