“So, you’re saying we’re only here as bait?” Jeff asked incredulously.
“You can say that. His Highness Alissanda gave Jast and I the real mission: to attract the enemy’s attention. As for supplies, we can destroy them if time allows,” Kurdak answered.
“What will His Highness do, then?”
Since they were feigning an attack like Jast, Alissanda was probably the main force. What was he trying to achieve?
“Only the gods know,” Kurdak shrugged, “I’m only following orders. I don’t know what he wants, but I believe he’ll be in more danger than us.”
Everyone finally understood what was going on. The risks would have far outweighed the benefits if they had followed their original plan. The leak was already discovered and destroying the supplies was far too dangerous.
So, Alissanda changed his plans. While they would appear to embark on a mission to destroy supplies, the two units were actually bait. Given Gold-eagle’s prowess, they couldn’t be killed without a substantial force. The hole left behind was the opening Alissanda wanted!
“That’s the gist of it. I hope you don’t fault His Highness for using you as bait. He’s in greater danger than we are.”
“Don’t worry. We have served His Highness for many years; we understand his character. We are willing to march into dire straits without batting an at his word,” Jeff smiled.
“Good. It’s almost time. The Stokians should be near. We need to lead them around for a while. And...”
“Tell me, what was our original objective?”
“Destroy the supply convoy!” the men shouted together.
“Good! You might not know me well, but I promise I value your lives. I will not lead you into unnecessary danger. I will make sure we make it out in one piece!”
“We trust you!”
“Alright, enough dallying, to the horses!”
Pato used to be a common town, but the war caused the townsfolk much suffering and prompted them to leave. Stok later claimed the empty town and turned it into a base.
It was in a strategic location and easily accessible from all directions. It wasn’t large, but it played an important role in their plans.
It would usually be occupied by a thousand men but they’d just heard of enemies attacking their perimeter, so the commander had deployed two knight companies to kill them.
They had heard their attacks were from Gold-eagles. They were just twenty strong, but they were some of the best in the empire, so their response couldn’t be lax.
Alissanda was already near the town with a ten strong unit, all had 13 strata, while Alissanda had 17 strata. They would soon face twenty times their number, but they were still confident.
“Rest well! We go to battle in an hour and a half!” Alissanda ordered.
If they were quick enough, they could finish the fight in two hours. That’s why he left half an hour for Jast and Kurdak’s units to lead the enemy away. That way, even if the enemy returned quickly, he would be ready.
“This will be tough and dangerous. If you don’t wish to take part, you can still turn back. We’re not fighting a small enemy force.”
“What is Your Highness saying?” a middle-aged knight asked, “We’ve decided to follow Your Highness, so we’ll give you our absolute trust. We know how much you cherish us. We are all courageous enough to sacrifice ourselves for the empire, but we believe we’ll return safely if Your Highness is here with us.”
Alissanda had nothing else to say. His greatest gain from his years of service was his men’s trust.
What should we demand after we enter?" a robed old man asked.
He was the first company’s magus. His job had always been bombardment.
“There’s no need to make any demands,” Alissanda said, “We’re in enemy territory, in one of their most important bases. There are no civilians here. Just kill everyone you see and destroy every building you find.”
The magus licked his lips in excitement. He specialized in fire evocation-type spells. His greatest pleasure in life was setting things on fire and watching them burn.
“But don’t go overboard.”
The old man had a tendency to burn friendlies as well when he was having too much fun.
“Yes,” the magus answered, calming somewhat.
“Hey, quit dozing off,” a sentry spoke as kicked his drowsy compatriot.
“Hey! We’re far behind the front lines. What enemies would come this far back? I bet this is just the bastards by the outpost’s way of making us suffer as well!”
“Fool! Did you sleep through the announcement too? The outposts weren’t just attacked by any fools, it was two elite squads. We’ve had to deploy two companies to match them! What besides this base could be their target in this area?”
“Tch, you’re making a mounting out of a mole heap. You’re just a pussy.”
“Whatever. Jus-- Urk...”
The dozing solder quickly turned around to see what was happening, only to find a slender warrior staring at him as if a dead man, bloody dagger in hand. He felt a cold line cross his throat and tried to scream, only to feel a wet warmth splatter down his throat.
“Go deal with the tower on the left. I’ll take the one in the middle and right,” the two reapers spoke over the corpses.
The two drew their bows and shot the enemies in the towers.
Alissanda led his unit deeper into the base after cleaning out their entry point. It was just past midnight. Most of the base should be asleep.
“Your turn,” Alissanda looked at the mage next to him.
The magus smiled and dictated a spell.
A bolt of lightning raged down from the skies and struck the barracks. It instantly crumbled into dust.
It felt like the god of lightning itself had smitten the enemies.
“Nobody can compare with magi when it comes to causing destruction...”
“This isn’t your average spell, though, I don’t know a single magus that would use this spell under normal circumstances.”
The magus’s face was pale. Lightning Storm was a level seven sell, not something easy to cast, and it used up vast amounts of mana. The old magus’ mana could handle at most four of these, and not quickly one after the other. The human body did not take well to suddenly losing a lot of mana.
“I’ll have to trouble you again.”
The prince handed the magus two bottles of high-grade mana potion as he spoke. If he wanted to get the best results, he had to use his magus extensively. Which meant helping him replenish his mana quickly.
The magus popped one of the bottles without hesitation. He began dictating another spell once he felt his body begin to recover.
Oxen Might, Ursine Endurance, Feline Agility, and Leopard’s Speed quickly descended on the whole unit. They were just level two or three spells, but using it on so many people made their consumption equal to that of level six or seven spells.
The magus’ knees started shaking as he broke into a cold sweet, his skin pale as snow. Had his body not gotten used to using its manna to this extent so frequently, he would be unconscious.
Lightning Storm woke up surviving men in the base. Most had been sleeping, but they now quickly scrambled to get their weapons. Unfortunately, Hockian knights charged in and started slaughtering everyone even as they still got out of bed.
Alissanda stood at the entrance alone. He left the two hundred people inside to his men. He would deal with the hundred or so men sent to the perimeter when they returned.
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