Chapter 218: A cry from the heart
The House of Menlo was located within a small mountain in the Valley of Sunshine. The center of the mountain had been hollowed out into caves, all interconnected to form a matrix of astonishing defense.
Han Shuo came in from the air and stood on a towering tree tens of meters tall, looking towards the source of the noises.
He saw the caves where the House of Menlo stored their weapons on fire, with thick smoke rising into the air. Tongues of flame flicked out from some of the entrances. It looked like everything was on fire.
These caves each had many stone chambers hewn into them. Each was a room, with all the necessities of life inside. Many of them were even more luxurious than some of the shops within the Valley of Sunshine, so it was very normal for the whole thing to go up in flames once a fire dragon spell was lobbed inside.
A group of masked people were moving swiftly around the entrance to the small mountain. There were some fire mages amongst them who occasionally chanted fire spells, sending gouts of flame towards the mountain entrance.
Their movements were swift and highly coordinated. The fire mages would release fire, the wind mages call up winds to push the fire along, and several archers would force those of the House of Menlo who dared poke their heads out back inside again.
Nevertheless, the small mountain was actually quite large after it had been hollowed out. With so many caves and stone chambers, this band of marauders could only target a section of the mountain. Once Menlo reinforcements arrived, they would immediately split up and conceal their movements, hiding into the surrounding shrubbery for cover. They were obviously very familiar with the surrounding terrain and well versed in these guerrilla tactics. They would quickly retreat whenever someone discovered them and then circle around, coming in from another side to continue wreaking havoc.
Under normal circumstances, this group of people would’ve been dead without a doubt if they hadn’t retreated after the first wave of attacks.
However, the House of Menlo was completely preoccupied at the moment. This group of troublemakers wasn’t the main target. Their main focus was on a group of heavily equipped robbers around 500 strong. The robbers’ motives were unknown, but they were besieging the mountain and attacking anyone who walked out of it. These two sides were locked in heated battle.
Han Shuo stood in the distance and looked out for a bit, doubled over in laughter as he saw Trunks’ men taking advantage of the chaos and adding further confusion. He hadn’t thought Trunks would be talented in this regard. The House of Menlo mission this time had only been to make this power suspect the other factions. Han Shuo was a bit surprised at how things had developed.
Even more cavalry with gleaming armor, wielding sharp weapons, came galloping from a path in the distance. Their adornments clearly identified them as those of the House of Menlo. There were roughly six hundred of them, each with an uncommon air to them. They were likely the elites of this house.
The direction that this group was charging in happened to be where Trunks and the others were. Yet to detect the danger they were about to encounter, they were currently planning on causing another round of mischief. Han Shuo finally couldn’t sit still any longer and flew to where they were.
The sky was already lightening, and the stars had hidden behind the depths of the night at some point. It seemed like daybreak would come soon. Just as Trunks was about to start on his final round of mischief, a black shadow landed with a “whoosh” in front of him.
He started badly, but breathed a sigh of relief when he discovered that it was Han Shuo. “What are you doing here?”
“I happened to be passing by and saw that the elites of Menlo are about to return. They’re going to pass through here. Let’s hurry and leave?” Han Shuo smiled slightly and explained the situation to Trunks without further ado.
When he heard that the elites of Menlo were returning, Trunks shouted lowly and gestured at the mercenaries off in the distance.
These fellows were covered from head to toe and immediately understood Trunks’ hand gesture. They didn’t gather together to leave en masse, but actually spread out even further and made use of the terrain to conceal themselves, slowly vanishing without a trace.
“Let’s go!” Trunks didn’t remain idle as he turned his head to smile at Han Shuo, darting into the thick undergrowth.
Snow lay heavily on the branches of the towering trees, blocking the sky’s light. The densely packed branches made it hard to trave, but Trunks wasn’t the least bit bothered. He took Han Shuo down several twisted paths, emerging far away from the House of Menlo’s mountain roughly half an hour later on the path to the Valley of Sunshine.
“Those were all old Rainbow Sickle mercenaries. Everything within the valley was under our control when the old chief was still here, and we’re so familiar with the terrain that we can navigate it with our eyes closed, so don’t worry about their safety.” Trunks said to Han Shuo when they’d left the mountain.
Han Shuo had observed the group’s operations when he was on high ground earlier. They showed a high degree of collaboration and were all quite strong. Most of them were journeyman swordsmen or sergeant knights, with a few adept mages and swordsmen mixed in. There were many of them with uncommon bow and arrow skills. It looked like things were as Trunks had said, they were the old mercenaries of the Rainbow Sickle band.
With such a group of people and Trunks’ plans, the Soul Destroyer mercenary band would have an easy path forward in the future.
“Right, what happened with you, why did robbers come knocking on the doors of the House of Menlo?” Han Shuo couldn’t help but ask.
Trunks couldn’t hold his laughter in when he heard this question. “We happened to see this band of robbers on our way to the House of Menlo. They were about to rob a caravan. We pointed out the proper path after fighting with them, and they attacked the House of Menlo with our guidance.”
“When they finally disturbed those guys inside, the robbers started fighting them. We took advantage of the chaos to create more havoc everywhere else. We’d thought that the robbers would be immediately defeated and had made plans to retreat early, but who would’ve thought that the elites of the House of Menlo were deployed elsewhere on some unknown business?”
“When the robbers saw that the elites weren’t surging out to attack them, they grew more bold and continued to attack. We stuck around a bit longer, and you saw the rest!”
“So that was the case. Are there many groups of robbers like those in the mountain ranges around the valley?” Han Shuo nodded and asked with a faint smile.
“Of course. Since the valley sits where three nations’ borders meet,, many merchants seek to do business in the Valley of Sunshine. Therefore, there are many bands of robbers in the vicinity as well. Two of them even number in the thousands, and they’re made of wanted fugitives from the three nations.”
“The leaders of the two bands of robbers are a man and a woman. The man is called Gustav, nicknamed the Butcher, an infamous criminal in the Kasi Empire. He kills without blinking and is exceedingly brutal. If a merchant caravan runs into his crew, then they’re truly unlucky. If his mood is fair, all the goods and beauties will be taken away, but if his mood is ill, no one is left alive.”
“Florida cooperated with Gustav that year to scheme against our old chief, killing him and causing my little sister Annie to disappear. I’m going to kill him sooner or later!”
“There’s another woman called Janet. Eh, she’s basically inherited her father’s business. Her father was a robber, her grandfather was a robber, and her great grandfather was also a robber. They’re a notable family of robbers in these mountain ranges. She’s been raised as a robber as soon as she was born, and although she’s not a kind sort, she still has certain principles. As long as the merchants who run afoul of her don’t resist, they’re usually able to retain their lives!”
“Apart from these two, there are about a dozen small to mid-sized robber groups in the mountains. Their scales of operation are smaller and they’re not as famous as these two.” Trunks explained.
Han Shuo listened for a bit and then asked further about the strength of the robbers before nodding, “It looks like the robbers and mercenaries in the Valley of Sunshine mutually depend on each other. Whether it’s the robbers or the mercenaries, both of these are vital for the ecosystem of the valley!”
“What do you mean?” Trunks asked.
“Merchants won’t need protection if there are no robbers. Therefore, the mercenaries won’t be able to make any money. Without mercenaries, the merchants wouldn’t dare come here, and thus the robbers won’t have anything to take. Therefore, it’s completely logical that both mercenaries and robbers can be found within the valley.”
“With the strength of the four factions in the Valley of Sunshine, they should have the ability to destroy the robbers. However, perhaps it’s because they understand this that they haven’t done so and have allowed the robbers to exist.” Han Shuo smiled and explained.
Trunks chuckled after his words, “That’s right, the old chief understood this back in the day, to think you’d understand that so quickly as well!”
Nodding, Han Shuo looked at the sky, “Let’s go, it’s late. We should hurry back to the valley, I want to take a look at some things as well.”
Ever since the Rainbow Sickles had left, Han Shuo had felt a voice calling him from afar. He’d thought that it was the little skeleton running into trouble again at first, but after some careful probing, realized that this wasn’t the case.
When he focused his attention, Han Shuo discovered that the voice was coming from the Dark Forest. They weren’t too far away from the Dark Forest, and the cemetery of death was within it as well.
When he realized that this call was coming from the Dark Forest, Han Shuo immediately understood that the earth elite zombie had successfully broken out of the earth. However, it was confined by the boundary of the cemetery of death and couldn’t exit find Han Shuo. It could only passively send out this message to its master.