In the Whispering Forest the demihumans were no different from slaves. For the past 50 years, they lived their lives like livestocks, rearing their children for the elves and undertaking hard labor for them.
With the Forest of Darkness ruled by the elves at the center, the various regions could be divided into 6. They are Forni, Jirad, Gastair, Sinfall, Symphoria, and Sheng. This division hasn’t changed since the time the demihumans were driven into the forest.
The sage’s council at the time decided to accept the elves and evenly distributed responsibility among the various elven villages..
In other words, the demihumans were divided among the various villages.
It left a bitter taste in my mouth when I heard the captured demihumans’ story.
The harpies were the ones who caught wind of our movement, while the werewolves and the minotaurs were made to fight in the frontlines.
“To think they would actually use our neighbors us slaves!” Fei spat in rage before I could even say anything.
The young yet skilled elf was enraged by what he was seeing, though his strong spirit kept that anger in check.
“They are a disgrace to the elves!” The other elves from Forni each worded out their disdain for Jirad’s elves.
That’s a good thing. At the very least, the elves from Forni are able to feel repugnance at seeing the demihumans enslaved, but what about the goblins?
Right now we are fighting together.
If we could maintain this relationship, they might eventually start treating us as their good neighbors. Of course, it’ll take time, but regardless, as long as enough time is given, we will eventually be able to change the perception of the elves toward the goblins.
“Now then, what to do? We can’t exactly take these prisoners with us,” I asked.
Fei and the other elves glared at the Whispering Forest (Jirad). “Let’s bind them for now. They’re powerless as long as there’s no one to lead them.”
The captured demihumans don’t seem to show any intentions of resisting. They seem as if they’ve completely resigned themselves to their fate.
“Sure dampens your mood seeing them, eh,” Shumea said as she took off her helmet, which covered her whole face.
I wryly smiled. “Being a former slave yourself, do they have anything left?”
“Well… I was a battle slave, so I wasn’t treated as poorly as them, but regardless, it’s hard to live when you don’t want to.”
Shumea herself seems to have lived a hard life.
“One day I’d like to hear your story… over wine, of course.”
“Heh~ If its liquor from you, Boss, I’ll drink as much as you want.”
Did I just stir up the hornet’s nest?
Well, whatever. I should be able to get some elven wine after this battle. It probably won’t be enough to give to the whole horde to drink, but it should be enough for a feast.
“The goblins are ready, Your Highness,” Gi Za Zakuend said. He was responsible for burying the dead and reorganizing the goblins into new three-man-cell groups.
“Those who can still fight shall follow me to subjugate the Whispering Forest (Jirad)!” I declared, and the goblins cheered.
“Strike down the hammer of justice on the heathens who shamed our neighbors!” Fei declared, and the elves cheered.
With morale among the goblin-elf army at its peak, the Whispering Forest (Jirad) was quickly subjugated.
But immediately after, an unexpected report came.
Fei and I stiffened upon receiving it.
It was a mystery who it was that said that word, but it clearly resounded throughout the residence of Jirad Nash, the chief of the Whispering Forest (Jirad).
Shure Forni had been defeated.
“What shall we do, Your Highness?” Gi Za asked with a sharp gaze.
I felt shame at my stupefaction when I heard his voice, but I knew it wouldn’t do to dally. We had no time. We had to decide our next move quickly.
“Is Shure safe? What of his army?”
But we didn’t have any details. What about Gi Jii’s horde? The other tribal goblins?
“We’ll dispatch the army. Fei, pick someone to handle this village!”
“Ah! Y-Yes!” Fei responded though still flustered.
I turned to the goblins. “We’re sending out reinforcements. Gi Za and Gi Ba take 50 goblins with you and look for the others. As for the rest of you, you will be staying with me in this village.”
When I asked Gi Za with my eyes whether he could do it, he met my gaze with a nod full of confidence.
“Your Highness, I have just one question: How much time will you give me?” Gi Za asked.
We’re sending half of our army, so we won’t be able to continue our invasion of the elves in the meantime.
But the time we have actually depends on Shure’s life.
“Four days. If you can’t find them within that time, come back.”
“As you will.”
The goblin reinforcements left the Whispering Forest (Jirad).
“Can we really win?” Felbi asked, dubious.
“Of course, so make sure you act strong,” Pale encouraged.
When they got word that Shure Forni’s army was approaching, the Sheng-Symphoria army led by Felbi fell into panic.
The enemy was coming off the momentum of subjugating the Silent Forest (Sinfall); not to mention, they even had the ferocious goblins with them. It would be stranger if they were actually able to keep calm.
The only one who was calm in the camp was the battle-hardened Pale.
She silenced the panicking elves in the meeting before the war, and then proposed a formation for the heavy infantry. The abundant equipment made of Srilana that the Forest of the Lost (Sheng) had stored were used to create a new squad of swordsmen.
“We can’t win against Forni with their high morale in a battle with bows. All the more so when they have goblins with them. But that doesn’t mean that they have no weakness.”
It was only a given that these elves, who knew nothing of war, would take the advice of Pale, who in her time as a member of Elks came to be renowned as the Silent Moon.
The Forni-Goblin Army’s weakness was their alliance itself. There was no way their relationship would actually be perfectly equal. It would be a different story if there were a powerful leader leading them, but without a clear understanding of who was to lead, the more powerful the enemy they faced, the more disadvantaged they would be.
“We’ll focus our attack on the goblins. Once their formation breaks, we’ll send in the swordsmen and break the Forni-Goblin Army.”
When the elves heard her calm words, they looked at each other.
They were doubtful whether things would truly go so smoothly. Their gazes eventually fell on Felbi, who was the actual leader of their army.
“Let’s do it! We don’t have any other plans. If we lose this battle, there won’t be anyone left to stop Forni. We are warriors! Let us defend our home!”
Felbi’s words spurred the elven warriors, and the Sheng-Forni Army began preparations to carry out Pale’s plans.
Shure did not know yet that Symphoria’s army had already arrived at Sheng. When they got to the entrance of the Forest of the Lost (Sheng), they found it odd that the gate was open, but thinking that their sympathizers were still in good health, they entered.
Shure was indeed careless. The fatigue from the ceaseless battles the past few days, coupled with the mental fatigue incurred from worrying over his sympathizers, then to top it all off, the tugging desire and hope within him to save his sympathizers all added up together to cloud his vision.
The moment they entered into the Forest of the Lost (Sheng), a giant tree sprouted up and blocked their way.
“Not good! It’s a trap! Retreat!” Shure commanded.
Shure’s quick response was praiseworthy. If they had stopped there, their casualties would only pile up until they were destroyed, so the best response was indeed to retreat and reorganize themselves. Unfortunately, Pale had taken the promptness of his response into consideration.
“What!? But The enemy is right in front of us!”
The ferocious Dashka of Gaidga’s horde was the first of the goblins to be attacked.
By charging into the goblins with her soldiers and attacking them from long range, Pale managed to quickly separate the goblins from the elves.
Forni was retreating, but unfortunately, the commands he had given weren’t perfect, worsened by the fact that the goblins without their king was difficult to lead. Shure and his elves retreated, while the goblins found it hard to let the enemy in front of them run. Because of this the Forni-Goblin Army suffered much casualties.
The battle began and ended exactly as Pale had orchestrated.
Pale pursued the feeling Shure Forni, but stopped after two days.
When she came back to the village, the elven warriors showered her with praise.
This was a precious victory picked up after a series of defeat.
To the elves, Pale’s existence was no different from that of a Goddess of Victory.
“Blessing of the forest and the wind to Pale Symphoria!”
The Forest of the Lost (Sheng) celebrated their victory.
“Lord Shure Forni has returned!”
It was like a huge rock had been lifted from my back when the messenger announced those words.
Shure, who had departed to lead the elves into the Forest of the Lost (Sheng), and Gi Za Zakuend, who led the goblin reinforcements in search of them arrived at the Whispering Forest (Jirad).
“At least you returned safely,” I said.
“Forgive me. I needlessly lost the soldiers you lent me,” Shure said.
It seems it won’t be necessary to cheer him up. The elves lost 40 men, while the goblins lost 20. Apparently, it was because of Shure that the goblins lost so little. The goblins hesitated to retreat, but he refused to take no for an answer, and eventually managed to persuade them.
There were countless wounds on Shure’s slender body because he personally defended the rear. They had been treated only with some emergency measures, as some of them could be seen to be still bleeding. The bandages wrapped on his head and his arm were all oozing with red.
Gi Za and his horde fought back the pursuing elves, but it was not enough to wash away this defeat.
We have to acknowledge the fact that we have indeed lost.
Now, what to do?
“You are still alive and we have lost only one battle. It’s a bit too early to be giving up,” I said to Shure.
“Of course. We can’t give up now after getting this far,” Shure agreed.
That being said, though, it is a bit troubling now that the Forest of Lost (Sheng) has managed to recover itself from its chaos.
“Was there such a skilled commander at Sheng?” I inquired.
“No, though I only saw the enemy for an instant, that was definitely a Symphorian soldier,” SHure said.
In other words, the two forests of the south have managed to recover. Moreover, Symphoria was even able to send some soldiers to Sheng. Exactly how are we to break the alliance between these two villages?
I don’t want to take too much time, but…
“Symphoria’s soldiers are excellent then, I take it,” I said.
“The commanding officers are certainly skilled individually, but…” Shure replied.
It seems he can’t think of any commander who could pull off that trick in their last battle.
“About that…” Gi Za said as he entered into the room with a male elf in chains.
“We might be able to find something out from this prisoner,” Gi Za said as he kicked the elf, causing him to twist in pain. Gi Za looked just like a cruel official.
I turned to Shure for confirmation, and he reluctantly nodded. I’d originally hoped things wouldn’t reach this point, which is why I agreed to the two-pronged attack.
“Who is your commander? If you answer you won’t suffer,” I said.
“You think I would give in to a goblin!?” The elf spat.
Stubbornness usually came with pain. That was even truer for prisoners.
“Just don’t kill him,” I said before turning heel.
“Of curse,” Gi Za said before happily withdrawing with the slave in tow.
“Shure, rest for a bit. Recovering your strength is also your duty,” I said.
“…My apologies, Goblin King,” he said.
After asking him to rest, I called his adjutant, Fei.
“Let us keep an eye out for the enemy. Can I ask you to organize the goblins and the elves’ formation?” I asked.
“Of course,” Fei replied.
In the blink of an eye, Fei came up with a formation for the goblins and the elves. When it comes to these things, they truly are far and beyond the goblins.
Now, what to do about the next battles?
We couldn’t occupy Sheng, but we did manage to successfully occupy Jirad. With this over half of the elves have fallen into our grasp.
But that also meant that we had a lot more points to protect.
Sheng was close to both Jirad and Sinfall. It wouldn’t be a problem if they attack Jirad, but if they attack Sinfall now, it would be problematic.
“We have to attack, don’t we?”
The only way to keep the enemy from attacking is for us to attack ourselves.
We’ll have to attack as soon as Shure recovers.
We have no other choice.
In an hour when the black of the night was yet deep, a squad quietly moving deep into the forest.
They had been discreetly taking care not to make any sound, even using magic constantly around them to avoid rousing anyone’s alert. To hunters like them, this was par for the course, but they had even sent out scouts nearby to ensure that nothing would go wrong.
At the center of that moving group was Pale Symphoria.
“I can see them,” an elf said from above, prompting Pale to look ahead.
Before them was a small squad of elves carrying goods. They were most likely Forni’s transport squad.
“We’ll burn the goods and capture as many of them as possible. Let’s begin.”
Paying careful heed even to the sound of the bow drawing, the elves under Pale carried out their attack.
The next day, the Goblin King and Shure received word of this attack.
The supply line between Forni and Jirad had been destroyed, and Jirad’s Daughter, Shunaria, who was with them had gone missing.
—307 days until the war with the humans.
Gi Za’s level has risen.
45 => 51