Chapter 207 Ghouls
As night fell, the battle slowly stopped.
Surprisingly, those terrifying voodoo beasts that never tired nor feared death retreated under the orders of the adepts. They hid in the distant woods and for a moment it was hard to figure out their intentions.
Looking down from above the hill, one could see the ghostly green or blood red eyes of the voodoo beasts all over the dark forest.
The white-haired Knight Charles leaned on his runic longsword, standing on a corner of the tall hill, gazing at the woods in the distance. It left like a one-ton boulder was pressing upon his heart. Even breathing was difficult.
In all seriousness, the witcher-knights on this hill were entrenched in this battle because they responded to his rallying call. Now, everyone was trapped on this hill. They could not move and could only wait for the next attacks from the adepts.
What were those adepts hiding in the darkness plotting? Would they be able to successfully repel the attacks of the enemy, and last until the enemy had exhausted all their strength?
Countless stray thoughts whirled about his mind and for one moment, he blanked out.
The sound of footsteps sounded from behind.
Even without turning to look, Charles was able to tell who it was from their familiar footsteps.
As expected, the loud and steady voice of Knight Meusel rang out, "The enemy has temporarily retreated! The injured knights have also been treated."
Charles’ determined expression turned into a downcast one as he spoke in a grave voice, "How are the losses on our side? How many knights are left that can ride a horse to battle?"
"……" After a moment's silence, Meusel's voice had also become much more solemn, "The number of men that can still fight on a horse is 386. The rest… "
They had lost nearly a hundred men in the first battle within the woods, under the ambush of the stealthy adepts. Another twenty or thirty knights had died on the arduous journey here. After the long and bloody battle earlier, only 386 men remained of the knights' main force. That meant that the battle earlier had caused a casualty of another three hundred men from the knight's army.
Even though most of the casualties were from combat ability loss due to infection by the bio-toxins on the voodoo beasts' claws, what was the difference between death and having no fighting strength when they were under siege by the enemy? In fact, most of the time, it might have been easier for these severely injured knights to have just died under the claws of the voodoo beasts.
After all, the witcher-knight army was known for its fast and ferocious attacks, as well as its quick speed across the battlefield. How were they supposed to break through the enemy's siege with three hundred casualties on their backs?
The other radiant knights quickly gathered around Charles, firmly and stubbornly waiting for his orders.
The muscles on Charles' face twitched slightly.
How easy it was to just give an order! Yet, behind each order was pile after bloody pile of witcher-knight corpses.
As the knights' leader, he knew clearly what order he needed to give out to save the lives of the remaining witcher-knights. However… once the words were about to leave his mouth, his snow white beard shook uncontrollably. He couldn't say it.
Abandoning their companions! Giving up on their allies!
Since when did the sacred and inviolable motto of the knights turn into numbers that could be added and subtracted on a paper?
The more practical Meusel saw the pain of choosing on his leader's face and calmly spoke, "It is no longer possible to have everyone break through! Even if we left the sick and injured behind, we cannot get everyone else out. So Charles, please, bring the rest with you and break through! I'll stay behind with the other radiant knights and defend this hill. You bring some of the knights back to base and… ask for help. Windsor and the others won't hang us out to dry!"
Meusel stopped when he spat out the words ‘ask for help’.
As a proud radiant knight himself, it was undoubtedly another extremely difficult task to have Charles lower his head before that stubborn and conservative Windsor. However, the current situation left him no other choice.
The muscles on Charles' face shook even more violently.
Finally, the leader of the radical knights made his decision. He spoke, determined, "No, Meusel. The one returning shouldn't be me. I bear the greatest responsibility for this reckless march into the forest. So, I'll stay behind to reinforce the morale of the troops. You, Collier, Aneos, José– the four of you lead two hundred men back to request for reinforcements. You can tell Windsor that as long as he is willing to help, I will… I will be willing to hand over all of my authority… "
All of a sudden, death-like silence filled the scene.
Pain and struggle surfaced on the faces of all the knights of the radical faction.
The moment Charles gave this order, it meant that the this faction would always be inferior to the knights of the conservative faction. This was something even more painful than death for the proud and arrogant knights.
Yet, just as everyone's feelings were being turned upside down, a scream filled with terror rang out from a corner of the hill. Then, it came like a sweeping storm, as pained screams filled the entire camp.
"What's all the fuss about?" Meusel drew his radiant runic longsword and shouted, "Keep calm, the enemy has yet to… "
Before he could finish, his expression changed.
A pungent odor of rot had spread throughout the camp along with the night mist that appeared in the woods. Like the cowherd's flute that enchanted the hearts of the people, when this pungent odor spread throughout the camp, the dying knights lying all over the hill had a sudden and terrifying change.
The knights could see this clearly as a weak and injured knight lying closest to them started to cough violently. His pale face started to become flushed red. His teeth ground against each other and let out a screeching noise. Milk white foam surged forth from his mouth and nose.
His eyes were opened wide, so wide that the corners of his eyes had started to split. Purple and black blood started to flow from every orifice. His body started to bend and contort into all sorts of unimaginable shapes.
When the blood finished flowing, he started to scratch at his own body with all his strength. The strength with which he scratched his body caused deep gashes to be left all over his skin and body. Blood flowed endlessly.
A witcher-knight in charge of taking care of him stepped forward to stop him. However, even using all his strength, he could not stop the knight's self-destructive acts and was bitten on the hand instead.
The radiant knights all had exceptionally powerful physiques, but even they were feeling uncomfortable about what they were seeing. They looked about in fear before realizing the cause of the chaos in the camp.
No. More specifically, some mysterious substance was mixed into the mist!
The injured knights within the camp were undoubtedly the ones who were weakest, both physically and mentally. Thus, one could see with the naked eye how some mysterious black particles within the mist surged into the wounds on their bodies like swimming fish. When one looked from a distance, they could see that every injured man on the hill was shrouded in a thick black fog.
The injured knights within the thick fogs struggled in pain, tearing at the armor and shirts on their bodies, even scratching and hurting their own flesh and skin. It was as if they wanted to tear their skin off.
As the black fog seeped into the bodies of the injured, their bodies started to change massively.
The skin on the surface started to dissolve. The bright red muscles and tendons were exposed to the air, causing all the knights to appear extremely red. However, very gradually, the blood-red color started to fade and a sort of sticky and disgusting liquid began to fill the surface of their bodies, completely soaking them.
The thick muscles and tendons started to meld together. Insufficient stretching caused their bodies to become thin and scrawny. However, it was obvious that the strength in their bones and muscles had greatly increased. They screamed and roared in anger. Initially, it still sounded like the pained and sorrowful cries of a human. By the end, it started to sound like a wild beast, only left with an odd growl.
Sharp fangs, claws and spines started to grow rapidly. When ‘their’ claws unconsciously ran across a boulder, it let out the screeching sound of scraping as bright flaming sparks appeared.
Right in front of the radiant knights, and right on this hill, a previously injured knight on his deathbed had rapidly converted into an undead. They had been forcefully converted by evil powers into an undead being that had never before appeared on the knights' plane– a ghoul!
Having been completely changed to an undead, this ghoul turned its body and crouched on the ground. Its eyes, missing their eyelids, suddenly turned around, revealing milk-white and turbid eyeballs, so white one couldn't see the pupils in them
Even though they had no pupils, this was no obstacle for the ghoul. Its unique senses made it especially sensitive to life force! It opened its mouth wide, revealing sharp fangs, before letting out a deep and threatening roar directed towards the radiant knights.
It bent its body, and with a powerful kick of its strong hind legs, the ghoul leapt towards the witcher-knight closest to it like an arrow shot out of a bow.
The witcher-knight was evidently stunned by the scene before him. He stumbled backwards in fear, but never ever thought of drawing his sword and resisting. This… this was a companion he used to know!
As a radiant knight, Meusel had undoubtedly experienced far more terrifying and strange things in his life compared to the young witcher-knights. He quickly struggled free from the shock and fear. With a quick step forward, he drew his sword and smacked the leaping ghoul's body with the flat side of the blade.
The ghoul was smashed and blasted away along with his roar, and crashed into a small tree as wide as a human's waist ten meters away, knocking it down. Crack! The loud snap of breaking bones cracked in the ghoul's body.
However, it was obvious that this blow did not cripple the ghoul.
It rolled about the ground several times. When it finally got up, most of the bones on the front of its body had been completely shattered. However, it struggled and got up from the ground as if the wounds didn't bother it, dragging its broken body and leaping towards Meusel once more.
Meusel finally recognized the reality. He no longer held back. The large sword in his hand glowed brilliantly, and like a sharp knife sliding through a piece of paper, he silently sliced the ghoul in two. However, the mild pause of the blade he felt when the longsword slashed through the spine of the ghoul caused his expression to sour.
He was an actual Second Grade radiant knight!
If even he felt a slight delay when he cut through this monster, how would the other witcher-knights fare against these monsters?
There was no time for him to think, as the entire camp was instantly engulfed in a rain of blood!