Chapter 228: The Passing of Winter and The Arrival of Spring
Translator: Dragon Boat Translation Editor: Dragon Boat Translation
Nearly a thousand vampires were quickly eliminated within a short period. Technically speaking, this was the first time Isolated Cliff City had fought an invading force, and also its first time fighting as a united force. Though the Mercenary Association, the Dragon Singer Mercenary Corp, the Red Vanguards, the Reapers, and Han Jin’s team still couldn’t represent every mercenary in the city, it came very close.
Everyone was very pleased with the result, as not only had they wiped out the entire enemy force, but they had also done so with very little casualty. Among the group, Han Jin had contributed the most. Hogan belonged to him, and the army of gargoyles he had controlled that had won them complete air superiority was invaluable to their victory. Besides, the Pure Light Charms Han Jin had released himself had also served to drastically weaken the fighting capabilities of the vampires. After a tally, the Dragon Singer Mercenary Corps and the Mercenary Association had suffered twenty casualties combined, while the Reapers had zero casualties. Of course, that wasn’t a fair comparison as the Reapers were a small team of elites and shouldn’t be compared to the association nor larger corps. Every mercenary that had participated in the battle knew very well that without Han Jin, victory wouldn’t have come so easily.
As the news arrived back in Isolated Cliff City, morale surged to an all time high: so the notorious Vampire Guards were not so scary after all! Before, the mercenaries never talked about the ongoing wars because they lived a different life, and Isolated Cliff City had never participated in any wars either. After this major victory, however, everyone seemed to have taken an interest in war. There were also many that thought Isolated Cliff City could, and should, interfere in the current situation now.
But other than that, Han Jin and the rest of the team’s lives returned to normal, with nothing but endless cultivation. Nor did any further disturbance arrive in the city; Zaganide continued to focus all his efforts on his Underground City, while Dismark was too far and couldn’t interfere even if he wanted to.
However, there was a problem on Ronning’s side. During a routine scouting mission where Ronning had personally led many of his generals to scout the terrain, they were somehow ambushed by Woodrow and his students. In the end, Ronning was only able to escape with a few of his generals while the rest were all lost to a sea of flames.
If anyone else had seen the report, they would only chalk it up to bad luck or Ronning’s carelessness, but Han Jin had immediately gasped a cold breath.
Major blood change! That was Han Jin’s first instinct. Reg and his father held an unparalleled influence over the Riptide Regiment, and whenever there was a disagreement between Reg and Ronning, the generals would always divide into two groups and argue endlessly. Even though Reg had never wanted anything to do with military affairs and had given Ronning full control, he still treasured his father’s honor, and the regiment’s honor as well, so when there were decisions he perceived to be wrong, he felt a responsibility to stop it. Thus, Ronning always had to exhaust a great amount of time and energy to ensure the regiment stayed unified.
It was truly a vicious move that had killed two birds with one stone! The Riptide Regiment’s high command had suffered great casualties which would certainly impact their combat effectiveness; at least, their enemies would perceive it as such. Not only would it numb Woodrow’s left over troop’s alert, it would also numb the four castallans of Beitman. At the same time, Ronning had eliminated all opposing forces within the army; Han Jin would guess that everyone who had died were generals that were willing to swear loyalty to Reg.
Of course, these were all Han Jin’s speculations, but he did have evidence. Before, the Riptide Regiment would always find Reg or Guevara first, then one of them would pass on information to him. If Reg thought some report was not worth Han Jin’s time, he would never see it. Now that Ronning had sent a letter straight to him, it was likely a signal – a signal indicating that he now had complete control over the regiment.
In reality, when they had first met Ronning, his worldviews and philosophies had not been fully formed yet. His actions today were mainly the gradual result of Guevara’s teaching over time!
Dreams could turn you into a saint, but sometimes it could also force you to become a demon!
Ronning had always insisted that Reg’s principle of honor would never work in such chaotic times. He had tried to talk to him, argue with him, go against him, and finally, he had simply unsheathed his sword and attempted to purge all traces of influence left over by Reg and his father.
When they had first reunited, Reg and Ronning had a good relationship. By the time they had conquered Black Raven City, the two would have occasional arguments. When they had rescued Guevara, the relationship between the two deteriorated even further – to the point where they avoided each other. Han Jin had never understood the saying that men with different philosophies shouldn’t befriend each other, but now he finally understood the harshness of reality. The fact that friends since childhood could become near strangers…. humans are truly unpredictable!
But, deep in his heart, Han Jin did not disagree with Ronning. Ronning gaining full control of the regiment could only benefit him. Besides, he also agreed with Ronning on the fact that if they continued to act on the same principle as the honored Knight Conrad, the Riptide Regiment would face countless difficulties. Chaotic times called for a cruel heart! Ronning was always a person who planned before he made his move, and the fact that he had decided to go through with this move meant that he had made ample preparation and it shouldn’t impact the looming final battle.
The only thought that troubled Han Jin was whether Reg should see all this. Though he didn’t support Reg’s dogged adherence to honor, Reg was still his friend.
In the blink of an eye, winter passed and spring arrived once more. The snow that covered the grass melted, and life soon started to stir in the world. The teleportation matrices which had been closed for so long once again opened, and the mercenaries likewise continued their toil.
In the center of the construction site, Hogan leaned back on a recliner and bathed in the warm spring sun with two maids massaging his shoulders. Though the air was still quite cold by normal standards, it was more than warm enough for a Grand Snow Mage who had lived most of his life in the tundra.
Suddenly, Hogan felt a shake as if someone kicked his chair. With a frown, he turned and immediately saw Han Jin’s face. With a speed and agility that didn’t seem to fit a man of his age, he jumped and flatteringly smiled. “Master, you are here!”
“Mhm.” Han Jin looked at the muscular workers working around. “How long until this is finished?”
“We need several more months.”
Han Jin’s eyes then fell on the two maids. “How is he treating you?”
The two maids looked at each other. They knew who Han Jin was referring to. “We… he’s treating us well.”
“Master, please sit.” Hogan stepped aside.
Han Jin didn’t find any need to be courteous in front of his slave either and happily sat on the chair. On the issue of maids, Hogan often argued with Alexandre until he was red in the neck. In the end, Han Jin had stepped up and allowed Hogan to take two female slaves as his maids. From a modern point of view, this was very unfair, but this world had never been fair to begin with. Besides, they had probably expected this future when they had become slaves.
Hogan worked very hard. He had to teach Yalina, Cessacioun, and Cain the alchemical technologies of Cold Shadow City, continuously produce gargoyles and command them to scout around the city perimeter, take off slaves’ Ring of Restraint, and cultivate himself, along with many other duties. Han Jin couldn’t be too strict with him when he worked so hard; it was unreasonable to expect a horse to be fast and not feed him grass.
The most he could do was to give Hogan a stern warning to treat the girls well, unlike his previous self.
Han Jin stayed silent for a moment before speaking, “Hogan, the men we sent to Cold Shadow City returned and brought some news. You… actually, you probably expected this.”
“News?” Hogan paused. “Master, you can tell me.”
“Your wife and your two sons, along with every servant in your house, were all slaughtered by Chesam.”
Hogan froze at the news, his eyes staring straight at the ground. After a moment, he finally let out a long sigh.
“You don’t seem that sad.” Han Jin was surprised. When he had come, he had thought of many ways to comfort Hogan, but judging by Hogan’s reaction, that wasn’t needed.
“Master, I used to be a fallen noble, you… might not know what I had to go through.”
“I was a fallen noble too,” Han Jin flatly said.
“I have heard of the Master’s story, but mine is different.” Hogan smiled bitterly. “I became penniless overnight.”
“Poverty is not very enjoyable.” Han Jin smiled. Sometimes, a fallen noble was worse off than a peasant. At least, a peasant had ways to sustain themselves, while a fallen noble, in order to maintain their last shred of so-called dignity, would refuse to do ‘lowly works’. The Raphael before would rather wait for death while curled in a corner than work, which really demonstrated what a parasite was.
“Indeed.” Hogan blanked for a moment. “Master, did Chesam only kill my family? Did he punish Demps’ family?”
“That I don’t know. Who is Demps?
“Someone who deserves to die.”
Hogan didn’t want to talk about it, and Han Jin chose to let him be. He was more worried about another issue. No matter what kind of person Hogan was, he should at least have some attachment to his family. The way he had reacted to the news of the slaughter of his enemy had Han Jin worried; he had many plans that needed Hogan in the future, and he needed to make sure he wouldn’t become a liability. “Are you really not sad at all about your family?”
“I am.” Hogan’s smile appeared strange. “But Demps would be even sadder.”
Demps again! Han Jin frowned at that.
Hogan waved his hand, and the two maids stepped back. After a pause, he spoke in a weary tone, “Master, this is one of my biggest shames. I was very, very poor at one point. Even though the teachers at the magic academy had told me that I exhibited impressive talent, I… was forced to drop out. Later, someone found me and demanded I marry his daughter. Ha… that woman was already several months pregnant. Her father didn’t want to suffer the dishonor, but neither did he have the guts to confront Demps. Thus, he found some poor bastard like me. Of course, I got what I wanted and continued my studies at the academy.”
“You have two sons?”
That seemed like a useless question, but Hogan had indirectly admitted to certain things, which Han Jin understood. There was nothing that could be said about Demps’ affair with an unmarried woman, but for him to continue the harassment after she was married was truly too much. No wonder Hogan had smiled so strangely.
“Don’t worry about the past,” Han Jin lightly said. “Demps, was it? One day, he will be kneeling by your feet.”