“Welcome to Jirad,” Jirad Nash said with a clever expression.
He had gone missing during the battle against the goblins. As it turns out, he was actually hiding in the cellar. When Felbi freed Jirad, he came out with his escort demihumans.
“I can’t thank Symphoria enough for the trouble we’ve caused,” Priena, the chief of Sinfall who was chased out of his village, said as he walked up to stand beside Jirad.
“Indeed. Especially, Lord Fenit’s cousin, Lord Pale. I hear her achievements have been spectacular,” Jirad said.
“She defeated the Goblin-Forni Coalition. She should be coming soon, I believe.”
“What a promising individual.”
Felbi was happy to see Nash and Priena so elated.
This was a war to protect their brethren. At the start, they were outnumbered, but through Pale and the other warriors’ effort, they managed to take back a territory. Just a little bit more and they would have half the territories back.
“We’ve prepared a feast. Come, let us celebrate this victory and give rest to the tired warriors,” Jirad Nash said.
The warrior elves cheered at that. Felbi looked serious, but he was actually secretly happy.
The feast continued late into the night. When the elven warriors had all fallen asleep, Nash and Priena stood together with an evil smile on their face as they looked on at the sleeping warriors.
“What honest and nice children they are,” Jirad said.
“Indeed. They are so nice they are even willing to fight for us. Cheering is the least we could do, don’t you agree?”
Jirad had been freed, but Sinfall was yet occupied by the Goblin-Forni coalition. These two chiefs could not fight a war themselves, so they figured they would entice these warriors to fight for them instead.
In doing so, not only would they recover their territories, they would also create a rival for Fenit. The more Pale shone, the bigger of an eyesore she became to Fenit. Eventually, the two cousins would end up against each other. And once this war – which Forni started – ended, most of the elven powers will have been weakened, leaving Jirad and Sinfall ahead.
At this time, Pale was still in the dark of these two elves’ scheme.
As soon as I got to Sinfall, I sent a platoon to contact Shure. Leading that platoon was the elf, Fei.
“Sorry, I know you haven’t gotten any rest, and yet…” I said.
“For Lord Shure, I will go out anytime
no matter how exhausted I may be,” Fei said before turning heel and departing.
I see. He might look calm on the outside, but he’s actually worried sick over Shure.
We need to rescue them before they fall into a predicament. I hope they’re safe. Once we’ve secured them, we will have to recover our forces. The Gaidga goblins were so tired they fell asleep as soon as we stopped; the normal goblins too.
“You called, Your Highness?” Gi Za Zakuend said.
I called him to talk about our plans.
“What’s the situation?”
How many can fight? How many have withdrawn? How many have died?
“There are only 140 goblins left who can fight. The elves are less than a hundred.”
In just one battle almost 100 soldiers were incapacitated. That’s too much. Especially considering all the battles we have left.
Only about half can fight again, though given time, we will have about 260 soldiers again.
The enemy lost some soldiers too, but there’s no telling their circumstances. For the meantime, we will have to stay on the defense.
—No, that won’t do. If I did that, the enemy will just take the initiative again.
Stop. I shouldn’t only be looking at the war right in front of me. I should look at the whole battlefield.
I sighed at that realization and changed my perspective.
“…How about using small forces to engage in guerrilla warfare?” Gi Za suggested.
I nodded. That’s one way. The roads here might be connected to the various forests, but the only path to Forni is through Sinfall.
“In one sense, it could be said the enemy helped us lessen the scope we need to cover,” I said.
With this, a small force will be enough to defend. Not to mention, I’ll also be able to let my goblins gain experience.
“A war will result in more casualties, however; how are we to supplement the fallen soldiers?” Gi Za pointed out.
“Do we have to contact Gi Ga after all?” I agreed.
Where there is war, there are casualties. It doesn’t matter whether one is the victor or the defeated, that is an unchangeable truth for all parties involved.
The enemy we are facing now doesn’t seem weak either.
What to do? It would take a considerable amount of time to go to and fro the Fortress of the Abyss. Will we have to fight with small groups until then? In the end, it comes down to whether we will be able to fight while minimizing our losses.
What about the elves? Will they able to recover their numbers? I need to ask Shure once he returns.
Minimize our losses, improve our equipment, and ensure there is a path of retreat.
“Some equipment from the elves would be nice,” Gi Za said.
For now, let’s do what we can.
The moment Jirad and Sheng’s savior, Pale, entered the village with her men, an ardent welcome greeted them.
“To Commander Felbi and Pale Symphoria!”
Praise poured down on Felbi and Pale.
“Pale, you were marvelous!” Felbi said.
When Felbi appeared, he came with the various high-ranking elves from Sinfall along with the chieftains of Jirad and Sheng.
Felbi was all smiles as he received these high-ranking elves’ praise, but Pale found this situation dangerous.
“Can we talk for a bit?” Pale asked Felbi.
The chieftains and all the bigwigs were all acting as if they had already won the war.
“Can’t we talk with them around?” Felbi asked.
“If you don’t mind, we’d like to join your discussion. Forni is a common enemy between us all. We may not be skilled, but we may be able to be of some help,” one of the high-ranked elves said.
“Right! There are people from Sheng, Jirad, and Sinfall here. We could—” Felbi said.
“…I would prefer we be alone,” Pale insisted, causing Felbi to shrug.
Pale and Felbi left the sea of people to a quiet corner where they could talk.
“Are you… angry?” Felbi asked.
“I am not. I just think it’s dangerous,” Pale said, inclining her head to hide her expression.
Felbi scratched his head, troubled. “You know, Pale. The chiefs aren’t so dangerous. They’re cooperative and they want to see Forni defeated too. They agreed to support us, and on top of that, they’re even allowing us to act as we please.”
“That’s true, but…”
Since they left the forests of Symphoria, they have been receiving support from Sheng. It was because of that that they were able to fight the Goblin-Forni army. To begin with, their arrows weren’t infinite, and neither were their weapons indestructible. The more they fought, the more their weapons would be expended.
If they could get Jirad’s support as well, they would be able to fight without worrying about supplies.
Food, weapons, armor, arrows, and perhaps even people.
If they could just get Jirad’s support, they would be able to act much more freely.
“Let me think about it,” Pale said.
“Alright,” Felbi nodded.
Pale left and walked alone to the bathhouse.
Every large elven village had a bathhouse; they were usually built near a lake of pure water. The elves had just come from a war, however, so there was no one in sight.
Pale took off her clothes, then submerged herself in the water of the bathhouse. The water reached up her shoulder as it sought to take away the stench of blood from her flesh.
There was a waterfall in the facility, wherein water showered down from an elevated area. Pale went there and prayed.
“God of Wind, Castor, and Goddess of Water, Iren, please guide your children. God of Forests, Chenzhen, please bless us with your divine protection,” Pale prayed.
She repeated those words three times, and then she cried for her brethren who died at her command.
Was she really in the right? She wasn’t sure. She could only washed herself to clear away her doubts.
My dear child, my dear child. A voice suddenly said, prompting Pale to doubt her ears.
But then black winds whirled, and suddenly there was a black biting louse with a black feather in front of her.
…Why are you so sad, my dearest?”
From its stiff jaws came out a gentle voice.
I am that which watches over you.
At that, a soft wind wrapped around her, and then in the next moment, the faces of her dead brethren vanished from her mind.
“Uu, uu…” All the pent-up emotions Pale had been keeping came out as tears. They slid down her cheeks and dripped down to the water to be washed away.
My dear child, the war will only become worse from here. Please don’t die.
After the black biting louse said that it vanished.
A huge rock was lifted off my shoulders when I heard that Shure and Shunaria had returned safely.
“At least you’re safe,” I said.
“Lately, I’ve been causing you nothing but trouble,” Shure said.
His face was cheerful despite that; that was probably because of Shunaria.
The members of the transport squad retreated to all directions, so there were several people who managed to survive.
“Umm, Goblin King,” Shunaria timidly said as she approached me.
“It’s good that you’re safe,” I said.
“About the sword the smith entrusted to me…”
“Ahh, it’s fine. I’m just happy that you’re safe.”
“No, that’s not it… Actually, it’s here.”
Unexpected. Apparently, it was because Shunaria had it prioritized when they were attacked.
When the great sword came, I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. It actually took two people to carry it.
“It’s name is The Great Sword that Dances the Black FlamesFlamberge. It was made with alloy consisting of blue-silver steel (srilana), which has good affinity with magic power, and the steel of your old blade.”
I listened to her explanation as I took the sword and examined it.
The great sword stood as tall as me, one side shaped like a flame, the other shaped like a normal blade. There was a symbol of a flame carved on the black blade. She mentioned it was made out of blue-silver steel (srilana) and steel, that must be why there’s a silver color running through the center of the blade until the tip.
The sword had been reborn, but it felt just like the old great sword (Iron Second) I used.
“Masterfully made,” I said.
It’s almost enough to make me fall in love.
I swung the sword several times outside to get a feel for it. The sound of wind being cut and the weight of the sword in my hands. Yes, this is indeed a trustworthy blade.
“Turn me into a blade!Enchant”
Ether burst out of the blade that was shaped as if it were dancing. It was almost as if the ether was completing its shape. The ether drew the course of the blade as it flowed into it, and as a result, the sword seemed to go faster.
As I slashed overhead, the ether followed my sword down.
The power gathered behind the descended blade was greater than before. Just the pressure emanating from it was enough to send leaves flying.
The sword was so sharp it seemed as if a sweep would be enough to cut the heavens themselves.
I looked at the sword again.
“The Great Sword that Dances the Black FlamesFlamberge, huh.”
I got a good sword.
This war must be won.
As strength brimmed from within, I looked toward the south.
The spear platoon made out of goblins equipped with blue-silver steel stepped out. At the same time, the elven archers supported them with their arrows. We marched for Jirad, which had been reclaimed by the enemy.
The normal goblins lined their spears and struck simultaneously at the enemy soldiers in our path. The enemy soldiers held up their shields and blocked the goblins’ attack head on. When the enemy saw that the attack was successfully blocked, they sent their soldiers to take our flanks.
The place we were battling at right now was one of the stopping points of the road connecting Sinfall and Jirad.
The battle was already spreading to the smaller villages.
There were many smaller villages around every big elven village. The main road connected to the big elven village was branched out to the smaller villages, forming something akin to a plaza.
The place we were fighting at was exactly that.
We specifically chose this place, as it’s the only place that could allow our platoons enough leeway to let them train.
“Gaidga soldiers, slam those swordsmen approaching from the left!”
The Gaidga goblins swung their clubs and pushed back the enemy soldiers.
“Gi Jii! Stop the enemy platoon coming from the right!”
“As you command!”
A storm of arrows and magic descended on the right enemy platoon, forcing them to stop. That gave us just enough time to escape the enemy’s surround.
It was then that I gave my next command.
The first thing we need to do is to find a method that won’t let us lose, then we’ll fight and retreat sparingly. So long as we keep this up, the gap between us and the enemy will remain the same.
Moreover, while I am still leading the whole army, the platoons themselves are already being led by the young goblins like Gi Jii. Like this, they will gradually gather experience in the arts of war, and eventually, they will be able to lead an army by themselves. I have to patiently raise them up until that day.
The war has just begun.
—296 days until the war with the humans.