TL: This is the initial draft. The next chapter should come two or three days later.
Chapter 72 – Brendel’s strategy
Brendel turned back and indeed saw the white-haired man wearing a frosty expression.
What came next into his sight were ten odd Juddelan heavy infantry men. The Juddelan was one of Aouine’s most commonly hired mercenaries. These men lived in regions near the sea, and all their eleven ports were frequently hassled by pirates. With these constant battles, the citizens of Juddelan naturally became mercenaries.
A typical Juddelan mercenary wore a well crafted and heavy scale armor, a long flame-forged steel spear, and on top of the spear held a shield half the size of a man. Finally their waist was adorned with higher grade swords and axes that were handed down from their ancestors.
Brendel knew them well from the game.
“What is going on?” He jerked his horse to stop it from moving as he asked.
“These are clearly heavy infantry……. Messere,” Amandina’s obsidian eyes beheld a clear alertness as she turned around to answer Brendel: “They clearly do not trust me if they place this group of heavy infantry behind us.”
Brendel took another glance behind her and realized something suddenly. He merely smiled: “Not trusting is a normal reaction.”
Redi snorted in displeasure at Amandina’s continued disapproval.
Brendel eyed at him once and asked: “Then what is the reason for putting these Juddelan men behind us?”
“It does not concern you.” Redi snapped.
“Ser, these men usually move slower in the forest,” It was the shorter youth who came along with Redi in the morning who walked over. He jerked Redi’s sleeve, while he continued to answer: “Commander Makarov also placed them here to handle ambushes, and it’s not because of the distrust towards everyone here.”
“Wonderful, killing two birds with one stone.” Brendel expressed an understanding face, but he did not forget to ridicule Redi: “But your partner is just awful at communication compared to you.”
Redi’s face flashed in anger and flung his arm to get rid of his partner’s pull, leaving the other youth behind. Brendel took a longer look at the youth in front of him: “What’s your name?”
“Sanford, that name doesn’t sound like the locals.”
“I’m originally an apprentice baker in Bruglas…… which was before I became a mercenary. Ser, your accent seems like one from there too.”
“I’m not, but the girls are.” Brendel pointed his chin at them.
Sanford gave a shy smile and looked at the girl riding behind Brendel. But she turned her face away to the side and did not look at him. Even though she was a poor noble, she had the temperament of a typical Aouine noble who refused to be friendly to typical commoners. Romaine did not have the same concern, so she winked at him as she was from Bucce and considered as a neighbor.
“It sounds like this reasoning is fine, but to bring heavy infantry in the forest is a sign of ill consideration.” Amandina looked at the Juddelan men as she spoke.
But there was a loud retort that came swiftly when she finished her words.
“Serah, messere, pray hold your words. We have to work for our meals, and commander Makarov was kind enough to accept us, so we have to pledge our loyalty. It behooves us to follow our group, have you ever heard of mercenaries leaving their comrades to go forth in danger while we stay back?”
A Juddelan mercenary came into sight as he walked out from the shrubs. He was carrying a large black weapon, his face full of stubble along with a lop-sided grin. He shook his head as he spoke with a heavy accent.
Brendel’s group looked at him.
[Here’s someone who can walk freely out of rank. His position within the mercenaries is definitely not low.]
“Frank, assault captain.” He introduced himself as he rubbed his nose.
“What is that?” Brendel’s gaze fell upon Frank’s weapon in his hand.
“A flintlock gun, this is my precious baby.” Frank patted his black weapon and gave a harsh laugh.
Brendel recognized that weapon. Abandoned mana crystal fragments were used as gunpowder, while an Element Needle was uasd as the ignition mechanism. They are the unigue firearms of this world. The Ovlans had started making guns approximately thirty years ago, and even had two squads of soldiers armed with flintlock guns; and dating even further back the Silver Years was the Dwarves creating matchlock guns.
A gun was extremely powerful in close range. The best flintlock gun one could find did the same damage within forty meters as a Brass-ranked artifact. Furthermore, the gunners in this era were very familiar with the usage. The only ranged unit that might possibly outperformed it was a trained squadron of mages who specialized in projectile magic. (TL: Examples of the Brass-ranked artifacts are Brendel’s wind ring and flame ring.)
[Many mercenaries love using firearms, especially pistols. Using a long barreled gun like this person here is rare. Even throughout the game, guns didn’t change how wars are fought, unlike my original world. Since mana crystals are limited, so is the quantity of guns.]
Amandina felt her face burning up slightly but she maintained her vigilant attitude. “What did you mean by that?”
“It’s very simple. It seems that you’re following what the kingdom’s army was taught to do in books. We’re simple mercenaries. Regardless of whether we’re light or heavy infantry, the only thing we do is to fight together under any type of situation. You are not wrong in saying we shouldn’t be here in this forest, but we need to consider reality……” Frank answered in a polite tone, but it was not hard to listen to hear the indifference in his voice.
Amandina hiccuped once. She knew that her knowledge that she had gotten from the books was shallow, but pointing it out directly made her feel slight anger. She cast a quick glance at Brendel, and whispered quietly.
“Do you believe them, my lord?”
Brendel looked at Frank and nodded.
“But what?” He asked her instead.
Amandina’s eyes said ‘Are you really going to believe him?’.
Brendel merely gave a smile and exchanged greetings with Frank and Sanford, before urging his horse to move forward. He did not give a reply to her, but her obstinate personality did not allow her to stop at that, and gave chase to him.
“My lord, I don’t think these men are normal.”
“What do you say to that, little Romaine?” Brendel said without turning his head around.
“I don’t know,” Romaine shook her head: “But my aunt has said that being overly formal and detailed are the signs of being guilty!”
Brendel grinned when he heard her answer, and he urged his horse near Romaine and flicked her forehead.
“You cunning little fox. You obviously know what they are up to and yet you have to do it in such a roundabout way.”
“I, I really don’t know!” Romaine’s brows raised up as she quickly tried to justify herself.
Amandina did not know what to do in front of their flirting, but she finally understood that Brendel feigned ignorance and already suspected their motives from the start. It was finally then she relaxed.
“If that is the case,” Amandina’s face was slightly red as she eyed both of them: “What should we do?”
“Be ready to handle things as they come.” Brendel merely said.
He had finally recalled all the clues mentioned from the forum’s guide to this related quest. As long as the mercenaries were not going to create trouble for him, anything they did was negotiable. Still, this was a headache that he did not need, the enemies that the Grey Wolves Mercenaries was about to face was going to embroil them into another new kind of trouble, but he could only blame Makarov for getting involved with such a tricky opponent.
[Rather than calling it a fight between two groups of mercenaries, it’s the organization behind ‘Paper Cards’ targeting the Grey Wolves Mercenaries.]
He monitored his surroundings, taking into view of the men around him. He was not really concerned about their fates, but he was trying hard to think how he could escape from this problem.
[What I don’t get is how a mere mercenary group got the attention of the damnned Tree Shepherds—]
The Unifying Guild’s members were like law-abiding citizens compared to them.
Brendel started to ponder the entire situation as a gamer.
[Even though there’s no need to stick my hand into this beehive, it’s best for me to consider the outcomes. While the guide gave a walkthrough to how they handled the events, the details are entirely lacking. The background information isn’t mentioned at all.]
He rubbed his forehead.
[We should leave before they fight. The boss in this quest is the God Acolyte ‘Ekman’. According to lore, the name is derived from ‘eaam’, and represents verdant mountains and limitless seas as a spellword. In ancient times, there had been a gigantic creature called ‘Ekman’ as well, both existing in Kirrlutz’s legendary fables and mountain folklore, and represented immortality—]
Brendel shook his head.
[The gigantic beast Ekman, is a descendant from the Titans, but the God Acolyte is nothing more a monster’s name. These so called ‘God Acolytes’ are nothing more than twisted abominations like the Golden Demonic Tree, and really nothing more than the product of being nurtured with the corrupted blood of a god.]
Brendel recalled the time where he fought with the God Acolyte of Skies ‘Amar’ and God Acolyte of Darkness ‘Black lotus’. The former was an incomplete form at level fifty. He had fought with it in a random encounter with his allies in the Freedom Port, Ampere Seale, and emerged victorious with much difficulty. The latter was a level sixty-seven elite boss within the primary heroic quest which two guilds participated in to vanquish it.
[The God Acolytes are terrifying because they are so much more powerful than what their level indicates. Even with an incomplete form at level fifty, they are able to match several Gold-ranked fighters at one go. I don’t even have the slightest intention to go against this opponent… Still, there’s the chance to get some advantages here. The Grey Wolves Mercenaries must have been decimated here but at the very least Makarov and Buga didn’t die.]
Brendel’s mind ran through the series of possibilities as to why they survived, before it wandered to the loot that the Tree Sheperds dropped.
[The God Acolyte of Skies drops the Spear of Blue Skies, ‘Phana’. That’s the highest tier of the Gold-ranked (Fantasy) weapons, allowing to ignore all physical defence. The God Acolyte of Darkness even drops a Dark Gold-ranked (Godly) weapon, the Death Scythe, ‘Lunar Velit’. Its ability was Coup De Grace, a one percent chance to deal damage equivalent to the target’s current life (non-boss) and ignores all defense. The secondary trait is Annhilation, and prevents the target from receiving any heals with a ten percent chance.]
Even though they were immensely powerful, they were a walking treasure vault, and one could only wonder where they were able to get so many rare items.
“The rarest thing these God Acolytes has is actually the blood running in them…… All of them has the corrupted blood of gods in them. Mother Marsha above, how did they get the hands on the blood of these gods who have disappeared?”
He muttered to himself.
After the Era of Darkness, these Gods had passed away and became constellations. The only God that was still in this world was Mother Marsha, and the world was no longer controlled by these powers. Anyone who tried to call themselves God would be a false one.
“What are you thinking about, my lord?” Amandina saw Brendel was lost in his thoughts.
Brendel shook his head and said: “The powers of the mountains.”
“Powers of the mountains?”
TL: So about these three titles… They are loan words from game of thrones and dragon age 2, but the meaning might differ for this novel.
Ser – Given to fighters and knights, gender neutral.
Messere – Elevated respect of Mister, but not necessarily Ser.
Serah – Elevated respect of Miss, but not necessarily Ser.