"Oh? By stimulating the brain, one can keep one's body constantly stimulated in battle, and an overstimulated body will shut down the brain’s ability to receive and send signals," Leguna read, "They can turn themselves into literal human weapons..."
Arikos yawned and looked out over the snowy landscape outside. He couldn't help but mutter.
"It should be summer now. It's still snowing in the northern highlands... This is surprisingly suited to Annie..."
"But even a berserker would still be hurt. It's just that they aren't affected by the pain before it becomes bad enough," Leguna frowned.
"Ah, thankfully I brought enough warm clothes. I'd catch a cold if I came here in summer clothes," Arikos said casually.
"Then again, I heard that those barbarians walk about with their upper bodies bared in this place! They are probably as resistant to cold as the bears on the snowfields. Want to kill a few of them and dissect them to see?"
"As for their weakness..."
"That's not right. Maybe it's not a matter of their skin. Perhaps their savage brains just aren't developed enough to detect the difference between hot and cold. If that's the case..."
"Hey! I'm trying to study here! Keep your thoughts to yourself if you're not planning to help! Don't bother me for no good reason!" Leguna finally wasn't able to take it any longer.
"Oh? What are you studying?" Arikos asked with an and-here-I-was-wondering-what-you-were-doing'.
"I'm reading about berserkers. I might end up fighting Legg soon. I need to know everything I can about them," Leguna said helplessly.
"Oh, I see." Arikos nodded and started singing a mocking tune. "Lalala, Leguna's a coward who pisses his bed in the middle of the night! Lalala, Leguna's an idiot that can't tell how many fingers he has left!"
"Are you really set on disturbing me for the rest of the day? Do you know what it would mean if I don't understand the enemy's qualities?" Leguna asked a vein in his temple popped.
"Don't worry," Arikos smiled, "I'm not going to do the fighting."
"Alright kid," Arikos said with a laugh, stroking his short, black hair, "You've been too anxious the past two days. I only want to help you be in the right mind."
"That fella is a huge headache..." Leguna said, scratching his head.
Recalling Legg's frame that was larger than even ferocious magic beasts and his terrifying strength, Leguna felt that he was a goner for good.
"Didn't you say you'll try negotiation first? If it works out, you won't have to fight him."
"But if it doesn't, I won't be that far from death."
Leguna looked sullen as he continued to read the report on the berserkers sent to him by the alchemists from the court magi association.
Even though the environment was rather harsh, life still found a way to thrive. The main race that lived in the northern highlands were the barbarians.
Initially, the barbarians were hunter gatherers, but as their population grew in size, the animals available to hunt in the mountains were no longer able to sustain them. So, they turned their sights down south at the rich human lands. That was the start of the barbarian raids.
Invasion and war would always be followed by transfer of culture and knowledge. Even though the barbarians were looked down on by humans for their intelligence, they were still a sentient species with the ability to learn. As time passed, they learned agriculture and usage of tools from the humans.
The convenience of transport and sufficient food further stimulated the growth of the barbarian population. Their small number of some 40 thousand grew to a large 200 thousand, making them a proper threat in the eyes of the humans.
While their main source of food came from hunting and agriculture, their battle-ready nature incentivized them to pillage and steal food and resources from others. So, even though they theoretically could be self-sufficient, the invasions would never stop. At least, so far, they haven't showed any signs of changing their minds.
Currently within the central settlement of the barbarians, the new barbarian king was discussing the matter of the raids with some others.
"The humans' ambassadors have come to the highlands. What do you all think?" Legg asked in the Dosrakian tongue. He had lived in the human realm for quite a while and understood more or less the intent of the human leaders. He wanted to hear what his men thought about it. Legg wanted to mimic the humans in their ways as well because while they were weak and frail, they were incredibly crafty. After observation with Legg, he knew that craftiness was a trait all good leaders should have.
"Our ancestors told us that weak lambs have no right to negotiate with strong lions," a middle-aged barbarian with a scar on his left eye said, "We should kill them outright and feed them to the bears. Naturally, I'm talking about the men. If women are with them, we have to follow our ancestral traditions to do them, kill them and cook their fresh meat in a tasty soup."
"Hahahahaha!" Even though what the barbarian said was absolutely gory and despicable, the barbarians present all broke out in laughter.
Legg joined in the laughter. He looked down at the letter in his hand. Even though he lived in the human realm for half a year, his mastery of the language was still at the hearing and speaking level. He still found it rather hard to read.
Fortunately, the shaman coven in their settlement taught their members to read and helped Legg understand who was coming.
He was quite surprised that the little fella had amassed quite some power and status among his kin after a short year. Legg knew the difference between humans and barbarians. While barbarians established their hierarchy based on strength and mettle, humans didn't. He was quite curious how that fella had managed to achieve what he did.
If not for that fella, Legg might really have done what the middle-aged barbarian suggested. He wouldn't drink the meat soup, of course. After spending some time among humans, he found the idea of consuming them a little distasteful.
Legg looked at his men who were already talking about invading the south and said, "No."
"Huh?!" All the barbarians were stunned.
"They're not weak sheep. At least, one of them isn't," Legg said plainly, "So, I wish to welcome their arrival and give them a chance to speak."
"That is an act of a coward!" The middle-aged barbarian wanted to quit immediately. He stood up and roared, "Humans are sheep! They are no different from livestock! We will definitely not welcome livestock!"
"Even though humans occupied most of the habitable land on Chino and wielded unbelievable power, the barbarians still saw their southern neighbors as mere livestock.
Interestingly, the humans didn't really mind the barbarians' insolence. There was no point in getting mad at the ignorant, after all. Eventually, both races began to think of each other as enemies they could easily beat, but never bothered to try.
Legg, however, was different. He had lived in the human realm and understood how powerful they truly were. He coldly glared at the people around the blabbering barbarian and countered, "If the humans are livestock, then why do they occupy all the most fertile lands while we continue to live in this desolate iceland?"
"You're praising the humans again? Do you fear them?" The scarred barbarian stood up and challenged. He wasn't too satisfied with Legg's appointment as barbarian king as he was truly too young. Seniority played a huge factor in barbarian hierarchy as well, hence the high regard they had for their ancestors and elders.
"I don't fear any enemy," Legg said. The next second, a cloud of dust was beat up at the area he stood. He dashed to the side of the scarred man, grabbed his neck and pinned him to the ground.
"There is a tough one in this band. I will defeat him and prove my might. Then, I'll lead you all south. I don't want you to raid. I want you to emigrate. I want our kin to live a stable life in the fertile lands. I want to give the whole tribe a stable living environment! I want a better future for all of us!"
"Legg!" Even though one of their own was being beaten up, the other barbarians didn't feel anxious at all. They began to chant excitedly after hearing Legg's impassioned speech.
"Legg! Legg! Legg!"
The barbarian king loosened his hand and quietly listened to the cheers of his kin while he thought about a prophecy he heard from the coven.
"A trial of strength will soon come your way. After this trial, Legg will become the greatest king the barbarians ever had," said the shaman back then. Now, he knew what form the trial would come to be.
He didn't ask what would happen if he failed. It was a question that all barbarians knew the answer to. Failure meant only death.
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