Book 10, Baruch – Chapter 3, Expanding Power
Yulan calendar, year 10010. January 5th. Night time. The world was covered with a dim gray gauze, and in some cooler places, the snow had yet to melt. Right now, the city of Tours [Tu’er] was under tremendous pressure.
The city governor of Tours was up on his walls, staring outside in desperation. Outside the city, there was an indeterminate number of people whom couldn’t be seen very clearly.
“How many people does Blackdirt City have?” The city governor, Delai [De’lei] shouted a question to his subordinates.
“Lord Governor, the scouts came to report to us as soon as they saw the enemy forces. They weren’t able to clearly make out how many men they have. However, the leader of them seems to be one of those five legendary wargods which Blackdirt City possesses.” A nearby subordinate reported back with some panic.
“One of the five wargods?” The city governor grew frantic. “Is he of the ninth rank just because he says he is? Hell, I can say that I’m a Saint! All of you, be careful. You must stand your ground.”
“Yes, Lord Governor.” Those soldiers assented.
Tours City didn’t dare to receive the attackers in a pitched battle on open ground. They could only stay inside the city and stand guard. After all, defense was always easier than offense.
The second brother, Ankh, stared coldly at the distant city. Blackdirt City had gone into full mobilization mode. Of the five major battalions, only one had stayed behind to guard the city, while the other four, under the leadership of Ankh, Hazer, Boone, and Gates went to attack the nearest four cities.
“Stop!” Ankh raised his right hand and shouted loudly.
Instantly, the 1800 soldiers came to a halt. Everyone stared worshipfully at the massive figure in front of them. All five of the Barker brothers were evenhanded in their treatment of the soldiers, rewarding and punishing as appropriate, and they spent much of their time with the soldiers as well.
When the soldiers trained, they also trained.
When the soldiers ran laps while carrying heavy weights, those five Barker brothers would train while carrying boulders weighing hundreds of thousands of pounds. The soldiers of Blackdirt City naturally grew to adore their leaders even more.
“Delai, listen up!” Ankh roared furiously.
That voice, brimming with Undying battle-qi, echoed in Tours City like thunder. The hearts of the soldiers of Tours City quailed. That huge voice alone caused their morale to drop dramatically. It seemed the legends were true. How could they possibly resist an expert like this?
The city governor, Delai, was growing frantic as well. But he didn’t want to give up his base.
“Say what you want to say. Don’t waste time.” Delai summoned his courage and shouted back, but although his voice was quite loud at the walls, by the time it reached Ankh, it had grown very soft, without any hint of threat.
Ankh continued shouting like a bullhorn. “Delai, if you offer Tours City to us, we can spare your life. Otherwise…my greataxe will show no mercy.” As Ankh spoke, many of the soldiers of Tours City began to have thoughts of betrayal.
In addition, long before Blackdirt City had launched its attack, many people in Tours City had secretly surrendered to Blackdirt City already.
“Oh, you want to fight to the end?” Ankh’s voice once more echoed in the ears of all the soldiers of Tours City.
“Kill!” A loud shout that shattered the heavens.
Many of the soldiers on the walls of Tours City were terrified by this shout. From below, they could hear countless warriors angrily screaming, “Kill!” “Kill!”
All of them were charging wildly towards the walls of Tours City, their shields held high. Those ferocious, roaring knights created panic in the city guards.
“Archers! Shoot them! Shoot them dead!” The city governor, Delai, shouted angrily, his face red.
The archers on the city walls immediately nocked their bows, then began shooting arrows at the charging enemies. Most of the arrows in this first volley struck the shields. A few injured some of the soldiers of Blackdirt City. Three unlucky soldiers were shot to death.
“Shoot them all to death!” Delai roared angrily.
But before the second volley of arrows was loosed, Ankh charged forward, outpacing his men by over a hundred yards and rushing to the gates of the city. With a mighty howl, he brandished his terrifying greataxe and gave the city gates a thunderous chop.
The entire city wall trembled, and the gates to Tours City instantly shattered into smithereens which flew everywhere. Even in his human form, Ankh was a warrior of the ninth rank. There was no difficulty at all for him to break past the defenses of these soldiers.
“The city gate is down!”
“That wargod is charging in!”
All sorts of shouts could be heard from within Tours City. Even the city governor, Delai, upon realizing that the gate had been breached, instantly turned pale.
“Whoosh!” With each wave of the greataxe, the surrounding soldiers were instantly blasted into countless pieces, sending blood and flesh everywhere. The nearby soldiers all began to retreat in terror. Ankh, covered by his Undying battle-qi, seemed a veritable devil.
Twirling his terrifying greataxe about, Ankh roared angrily, “Those who stand against me will die!”
Ankh brandished his greataxe about like a tornado, but this ‘tornado’ was a visible one. Anything touched by this ‘tornado’ was instantly blasted to bits. At first, some soldiers of Tours City had attempted to attack, but afterwards, no one dared to get near this fiend.
In but a few moments, the forces of Blackdirt City swept into the city through the gates.
“We surrender! We surrender!”
First, a single voice called out to surrender, but then, countless voices joined in. By the time Ankh and his bloody greataxe arrived at the city walls, the soldiers on the walls had all put down their weapons, while the city governor, Delai, was tied up in rope and placed on the floor. Several military officers were there, awaiting Ankh’s arrival.
“Milord, my name is Ford [Fu’er’de].” One of the military officers said respectfully.
“Oh, so you are Ford.”
Ankh knew very well that Ford was one of the military officers who had surrendered to them even before the battle had began. Many had done so. Given that Blackdirt City had the five Barker brothers, how could they possibly lose?
Battles were fought by men and won by men.
When two forces were roughly on the same level of power, perhaps some stratagems and deceptions would be effective. But once the gap in power reached a sufficient level, such as now, where Ankh alone could demolish the forces of Tours City? A battle like this had no other possible outcomes at all. There wasn’t the slightest chance of defeat.
Yulan calendar, Year 10010. January 5th. Blackdirt City began its conquests.
By January 6th, Linley’s side already had five cities, and the number of people they controlled, including the various satellite towns and villages, was a grand total of nearly three million. Generally speaking, however, in the Anarchic Lands, only an entity which was in control of a prefectural city would be considered to be a Duchy.
Linley’s side had five cities, but all of them were small cities, with only a few tens of thousands of people within the cities. But a prefectural city was capable of holding hundreds of thousands of citizens.
After these lightning-fast battles concluded, Linley’s side temporarily stopped attacking. Instead, they quickly began to reorganize their armies. The original five battalions of Blackdirt City were now part of the ‘First Legion’, which was the core-most legion. The other four legions belonging to the other four cities all saw their military pay levels increased to roughly two thirds of the salary of the First Legion.
The taxes on the common people were lowered by over half across the board.
Each legion now had nine thousand people. In the Yulan continent, large legions could reach up to twenty thousand people. In the Anarchic Lands, however, since warfare was relatively scattered, Linley decided to lower the number of people per legion, forming five battalions into each legion.
The five legions quickly began to train together and organize internally.
The surrounding cities all sensed the threat, but they knew that Blackdirt City’s forces were simply too powerful. While Blackdirt City’s forces were still busy training and re-organizing, a nearby city voluntarily surrendered. The reason? The previous city governor had taken all of his enormous wealth and his guards and fled from that city.
Barker and Zassler both arrived at Mt. Blackraven. They stared up at the mountain.
“Barker.” Zassler suddenly spoke.
Barker looked at Zassler. Zassler said, “Hazer has reached the ninth rank on the way to the Anarchic Lands. By now, all five of you brothers possess the power of a Saint. I will make my breakthrough in the next year or two as well. Think about it…with you five brothers making up the bulk of our military power, with me providing support, and of course, most important of all, with Linley and his two powerful magical beasts…with such a overpowering force, we can erect our own kingdom, or perhaps even an empire!
“Mr. Zassler, what do you intend?” Barker’s eyes lit up.
Zassler said seriously, “Barker, right now, the continent has six major powers. Aside from the O’Brien Empire and the Yulan Empire, the other forces, ie the Rohault Empire, Rhine Empire, Holy Union, and Dark Alliance, do not have a Deity amongst their ranks.”
Barker nodded his head in agreement.
“As for the Rohault Empire and the Rhine Empire, these two Empires don’t even have an expert on the same level as Haydson. But we not only have Linley, we also have Bebe.” Zassler was extremely confident. “The most important aspect of founding an empire is the strength of its highest level experts. The more powerful its highest tier members are, the better of a chance one has.”
Barker was growing excited as well.
“Mr. Zassler, are you saying that we should build an empire together?” Barker looked at Zassler.
Zassler laughed. “That’s just one of the things I’ve been considering. Our current goal is destroying the Radiant Church’s influence in the Anarchic Lands. However, the Radiant Church currently occupies nearly a third of the territory of the Anarchic Lands. In order to eliminate them, we will need a great deal of land as well. After destroying them and taking over their territory…we would be in control of over half of the Anarchic Lands. At that time, we would then deal with the Cult of Shadows…and the Anarchic Lands would then be ours.”
Barker felt his heart rate speed up.
The Anarchic Lands was an area in constant turmoil and chaos. Although in size, it was smaller than the O’Brien Empire, it was still comparable to the Rhine Empire and the Rohault Empire.
“Erecting an empire…” Barker’s eyes were shining.
“Haha, no rush. One step at a time. Given our current power, with all of us working together, it shouldn’t be too hard for us to take over at least ten Duchies in the Anarchic Lands and found a kingdom at the very least.” Zassler said confidently.
Barker nodded repeatedly.
The Rohault Empire. The Rhine Empire. How many Saints did they have? The roots of these two Empires weren’t nearly as deep as the roots of the O’Brien Empire and the Yulan Empire, nor did they have the assistance of Descended Angels like the Radiant Church or the Cult of Shadows.
For example, the Rohault Empire could at absolute most produce just over ten Saints.
Linley’s side had five Undying Warriors. Once Barker and his brothers reached the Saint-level in human form, they would have the power of true Saint-level Undying Warriors. If the five of them worked together in concert with Linley and Bebe…a force like this wouldn’t be afraid of the Radiant Church at all.
So why couldn’t they found an Empire, then?
“Occupying the entire Anarchic Lands will be a bit difficult. After all, there are a lot of complicated aspects to this place.” Zassler smiled. “But I still feel very confident.” Zassler turned and stared up at Mt. Blackraven. Linley was there, in the mountain.
Zassler slowly said, “In my mind, I have a goal. One day, we will create a powerful empire, and Linley…he will be to our empire what the War God is to the O’Brien Empire.”
“The War God?” Barker was very shocked.
Zassler smiled and nodded.
An enormous, mighty empire could only be founded with a cadre of fear-inducing top-tier experts. For example, in reality, the Rhine Empire and the Rohault Empire were both reliant on the Yulan Empire, precisely because they didn’t have enough top-tier power.
But in the empire which Zassler dreamed of, the top-tier power was Linley.
Just like how the War God watched over the O’Brien Empire and the High Priest watched over the Yulan Empire…the future Linley would also watch over his future empire! But of course, Linley currently didn’t yet have that much power.
“He’s only twenty eight years old, but he’s already reached such a terrifying level. Can you imagine what someone like him will be able to accomplish in the future?” Zassler laughed as he glanced at Barker.
Barker and his brothers were truly awed by Linley’s prowess.
“Let’s go. Let’s go see Linley.” Zassler laughed.
Zassler, this old fox who had lived for over eight hundred years, now had a particular desire which excited him. He wanted to see the Yulan continent bring forth yet another Empire. How exciting that would be!