Though the orcs were a race fond of combat, their inclination towards brawns rather than brains made them rather unfit for survival.
While the flatlands' soil wasn't as rich as those of Azurewater, it was still usable for farming. However, the orcs were completely uninterested in any kind of agriculture. Even though Oljharok, who had just recently risen to fame. had tried to plant the wheat he brought in from human territories in the desolate flatlands, the immature agricultural techniques they employed and the slackish mindset of the orcs made the harvests less than ideal.
As a result, they had to rely on hunting animals across the flatlands for food. But it was far from enough to sate the food needs of the orcs, a race with great reproductive capabilities as well as a huge capacity for food intake.
After he unified the orcs across his territory, reducing the deaths from internal strife, the population only grew. The lack of food and the ever-increasing population troubled the great chief immensely. In that moment, the humans launched their attack.
Even though he was infuriated by the provocation, he had to admit that, had it not been for the invasion, a famine across the empire would have been inevitable. Countless numbers of orcs would have starved.
While death via battle and death via starvation was still death, the processal difference was important. Any proud orc warrior would pick the former almost on instinct. So, Oljharok wasn't in a hurry to end the war. As he carefully controlled the situation, he continued to brainstorm hard for a way to solve the food problem.
This was currently the best result for which he could hope. Not only did the war chip away at the population, it also served to polish the survivors' abilities. The flatlands' southern part was like a forge. Only the strongest pieces of steel, the strongest pieces of flesh, could survive, could fight for the right to survive, could enjoy the meager rations remaining. While it sounded cruel, it was the best option. Additionally, the orcs who held the maxim 'be strong or dead' didn't see their great chief's choice in a bad light.
A patrol unit of 200 orcs traveled across the flatlands. Half of the unit were rookie warriors who happened to be the fittest youths picked from their tribes. They were filled with vigor and courage and thought of themselves as proud and prestigious warriors. But to the veterans, they were just greenhorns; little dollies who hadn't killed or spilled blood before.
"Modherik, take this more seriously! We're on patrol, going to war! This is not a hunting trip!" shouted the leader to a young orc who seemed all too jumpy and growled excitedly all too often, causing the rest of the unit to be rather disarrayed.
"But we're about to fight, Pa-- I mean, captain! My blood's boiling! I want glory and strength! It's waiting for me to take it!" roared the young orc.
The rest of the young'uns following behind roared in agreement. The captain gave him a proud glance. His son was the strongest and largest among the new recruits and would definitely become a courageous and powerful warrior one day. At least, that was what he hoped.
"Listen well, fellas. For many of you, this will be your first battle. I know you have lots of energy, but battles aren't won with energy. If you want to be recognized by your tribe and be praised by Earthshaking Hammer, you have to grow as quickly as possible. Before you can even do that, you first have learn to survive."
While the captain had already given them a briefing before they departed, he felt it necessary to repeat some of it after seeing how restless they were.
"That's right, Captain. We'll listen to you to survive," continued Modherik, causing the rest to laugh.
The captain glanced at the kid annoyed.
"Yes. You better listen to me. I..."
Before he could finish, the orcs in front roared, "Human squad ahead, Captain!"
The news shocked him. He had served in the patrol unit for more than a year, their current location should be safe. But a squad of humans was traveling even this far into their territory. They were a real threat to the inner settlements. He was about to send messengers back to notify the nearby settlements so they wouldn't be caught unawares.
But before he could give the order, the young'uns, led by Modherik, had already let out excited roars and pushed the veterans aside as they rushed forward.
The new recruits' blood boiled under Modherik's lead. They completely ignored their captain and rushed forward with him.
"Modherik! Come back! All of you come back! Obey me!" roared the captain to no avail.
The excited young'uns completely disregarded their captain's orders. Seeing his comrades rush forward with him, Modherik felt proud of his courage and decisiveness. He would be the first to slaughter the enemy!
When he approached the humans, he saw they were only 20. While their weapons and equipment looked exquisite, they seemed small and petite. They left no impression of strength.
Most importantly, there were more than 70 comrades behind him! There were only 20-odd humans. The disparity was incredible!
He licked his lips. He was impatient for the feeling of hacking into his enemy. Behind him followed the rest of the patrol unit.
There was no way the captain would stand by and do nothing, watching as his son rushed to his death. So, he decided to mobilize the whole squad. After all, the humans weren't that many, it shouldn't be a problem to completely decimate them.
"Ley, you're not messing with us, right? Are you sure that many are new recruits?" asked Kurdak with a troubled look as he witnessed the spirited orcs running at them.
"You should be more relieved with me taking care of things! I've been tailing them for an hour already. About half were chattering and jumping about. There's no doubt they're new recruits!" said Leguna as he smacked his chest audibly.
"No time to think too much. Let's just kill," said Vera as she took out her enchanted longbow.
Given that Ferd was there, Vera wanted to use the opportunity to show her father her growth. She loaded four arrows in one go and circulated her impetus before executing the archery skill of which Ferd was most proud: Arrow Storm.
Four arrows imbued with wind aspect impetus were sent flying. As they were quite far from the orcs, she had shot the arrows in an arc. Even so, three orcs lost their lives immediately, another had his thigh pierced. As the orc was at the front, he fell to the ground immediately and was almost trampled in the stampede.
Pleased with his daughter's impressive performance, Ferd didn't reveal a hint of fear or anxiety when faced with the approaching orcs. He actually pointed out the flaws in his daughter's shot in a collected manner. He took out the longbow Kurdak had given him, drew back as far as it would go, and fired three arrows. But just as Vera was about to wallow in disappointment over how her father wasn't as good as he was in his prime, Ferd's hands flashed like lightning as they drew and loaded three more and sent them flying as well. While the two shots of six arrows were half a second apart, the arrows began to spread out in the air. Each seemed infused with its own will to seek out its target. The six pierced through six heads at the exact same moment.
Everyone present gasped involuntarily after witnessing Ferd's impressive archery. Kurdak didn't fail to use the opportunity to suck up to him either; he seemed like he was about to beg Ferd to be his teacher.
"Girl, your dad hasn't been wasting his archery skills in the flatlands all these years, you know," said Ferd gleefully.
"Mister Ferd and Miss Vera's archery is really impressive. Money well spent," praised Farsi, before he started dictating his spell. Two seconds later, a cloud of green gas descended from the skies into the horde. More than 20 collapsed immediately and twitched as their mouths foamed. Not long after, they stopped moving altogether.
It was a level five curse, Death Cloud, one of the most offensive area of effect spells among those of the fifth level.
"Noooo!" roared Modherik in a panic.
As he had already been wounded in the leg and collapsed, he was already losing his cool.
This... this isn't what I imagined!
He thought he could bust through the small squad's defenses easily with courage and a large number of comrades before tearing them to shreds but the first wave of attacks from the humans shattered his fantasies in the cruelest way possible. Not only was he among the first to be shot, many more of his comrades died. They had just been discussing their power excitedly a few minutes earlier and how their tribe would shower them with respect after they gained honor in battle. Now, they were dead. Before they even got to take a good look at their enemies, they had lost their lives.
If his fantasies were coldly crushed by the first two waves of arrows, the deadly loud that descended soon after sent him to hell. More than 20 of his comrades died in an instant. They used to be so strong and full of energy as they charged fearlessly with him, but stopped moving in the blink of an eye.
Did this happen because of me?
Just as Modherik was feeling terrified and remorseful, the orc captain finally caught up. He hauled his son, wallowing on the ground, up and roared.
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