Chapter 330: Preparing for war
“Jack, are you truly prepared to face the dangers that are to come?” Fabian asked Jack after he let out a long sigh. He could see the same prideful and fearless spirit that he used to have emanating from Jack
Nodding heavily, Jack said stubbornly, “Yes, I’ve made up my mind.”
Seeing that Jack was insistent, Fabian shook his head and didn’t say anything more. He understood in his heart that Jack had finally grown up. Maybe some tempering at Jack’s age wasn’t a bad thing. Not to mention that Fabian knew that Han Shuo would definitely take good care of Jack and never allow his friend to get hurt.
Fabian’s silence meant that he was no longer opposed to the idea. Jack then turned towards Han Shuo, eyes full of expectation. Han Shuo, half a head taller than Jack, stood in front of him and patted him on the shoulder. He said sincerely, “Don’t rush such a decision for now. Stay in Brettel City for a few days. Let me know after you’ve thought things through clearly.”
Brettel City wouldn’t be quite so peaceful over the next few days. Maybe when Jack saw the cruel realities of war for himself, he’d automatically drop this idea, Han Shuo thought to himself.
Han Shuo didn’t continue to talk with Jack about this topic anymore. However, he was rather interested in Jack’s favored girl, Jessica, and he asked all sorts of things about her.
According to Jack’s stammering answers, Han Shuo gained an understanding that the girl named Jessica was the daughter of a small noble. Her father had done some business with the Boozt Merchant Guild and had gotten to know Jack as he’d often visited Boozt. At the moment, Jack’s love was one-sided. He was a mere accountant of the merchant guild, so he naturally couldn’t attract the attention of the noble’s daughter. Not to mention Jack’s chubby body garnered no advantages in his favor.
Jack had also found out about Jessica’s ideal man by use of sly methods to extract this information. In the Profound Continent, where aristocracy dominated, even Phoebe, the owner of the Boozt Merchant Guild, wasn’t accepted by the upper class. How could Jack, a small accountant, be accepted then?
Therefore, Jack now hoped that Han Shuo would help him due to his fanatical love for Jessica and possibly his truly motivated mindset.
The joyous atmosphere lasted throughout the banquet, the guests feeling very much at home. Outside of the city lord’s mansion, the civilians, who’d heard the news, were reluctant to disperse and kept on coming. The temptation of free food had exceeded Han Shuo’s imagination. The hired servants were busy all day, but still couldn’t manage to keep up. This situation dragged on until the sun set behind the mountains and the veil of night was about to shroud the earth. Only upon the knights’ friendly persuasion did the crowd of civilians finally disperse.
The previous night had been without a moon. It was conspicuously bright tonight, as if the moon were making up for yesterday’s day off. Standing in the highest bell tower of the city lord’s mansion, Han Shuo looked over Brettel City, bathed in moonlight. Brettel City was vast as it covered an enormous area. Houses occupied every stretch of land all the way to the city gates in four directions, absolutely able to accommodate millions of inhabitants.
Brettel City had originally been built as a military base from which to attack the seven great duchies. Brettel City was still standing proud even after much vicissitudes and humiliation. Had it not suffered the severe retaliation of the seven great duchies after many failed attempts at conquering them, Brettel City would likely be one of the strongest cities in the Lancelot Empire
A great deal of gold coins had been poured into the renovation of Brettel City. Han Shuo hadn’t held back on the heightening and enhancement of the city walls. In addition to the six terrifyingly powerful magic crystal cannons, many war chariots and stone-throwing catapults now filled the originally empty posts along the wall. Various equipment of great firepower had been assembled.
Brettel City had just begun to reveal its fangs starting at an unknown time, like the ferocious, giant war machine it was. After investing millions of gold coins, it was ready to crush all of those arrogant, ambitious invaders that dared to come at a moment’s notice.
A brigade of a thousand people gradually made their way back from the direction of Seamist City. This soldier brigade belonged to Dorcas. Their shining weapons and sturdy armor were completely on a different level compared to those of last night. Each sword was worth at least three gold coins, and each set of armor and helmet was worth at least five gold coins as they were forged from the finest of steel.
Moreover, each soldier was equipped with other sharp, dexterous weapons, such as daggers, worth over ten gold coins in value. However, there were soldiers who should have been knights but had temporarily been assigned to the infantry units due to a lack of warhorses. Warhorses were a scarce resource even in the Lancelot Empire. In fact, the seven great duchies were experts in rearing horses. It was a pity that Han Shuo hadn’t found a way to purchase from them.
A thousand soldiers riding warhorses advanced orderly towards Brettel City under Dorcas’ leadership. These people must have been through many battles, each looked remote with a subtle glint of madness in their eyes. Their armor and weapons had been polished clean, but the bloodstains on their clothes underneath were very obvious.
From the highest point of the city lord’s mansion, Han Shuo looked down from above at Dorcas for a while before whispering to himself in satisfaction, “Three days, twelve bandit groups. Out of the thousand soldiers who’d departed, nine hundred and sixty have returned safely. Only forty deaths. Quite a talent indeed!”
Half an hour later, Dorcas had changed into a clean outfit and walked under the moonlight towards the city lord’s mansion. Han Shuo received him in the living room.
“Dorcas, very well done. Have all twelve bandit groups been completely destroyed?” Han Shuo looked at the kneeling Dorcas and asked smilingly.
Shaking his head, Dorcas looked up at Han Shuo and said, “Sir Count, there are still over seven hundred that are still alive.”
Han Shuo frowned, not yet allowing Dorcas to rise. His finger subconsciously tapped the armrest of his chair. He squinted at Dorcas, asking, “Dorcas. You led a thousand soldiers out. With your methods, you wouldn’t have allowed seven hundred bandits to escape, would you?”
Dorcas looked up at Han Shuo, his expression unchanged as he replied, “Sir Count, twelve bandit groups were completely destroyed, all of the obstacles between Seamist and Brettel City have been cleared. Only, your humble servant doesn’t think that blind killing is a good way. The crimes of those seven hundred bandits aren’t enough to condemn them to death. They were only helpless and forced to commit crimes to survive.”
“This servant feels that if your Lordship wants Brettel City to develop as fast as possible, appropriately soft policies are needed, apart from the weapon of wholesale slaughter. The bandits are easy to tame. Once they experience some tempering, they will sincerely submit to you, my Lord. They will also become your fierce and loyal warriors.”
Han Shuo was silent for a while after hearing Dorcas’ words. He then looked at Dorcas, slowly nodding as he said, “Dorcas, your words aren’t wrong. I indeed hadn’t considered it carefully. Mhm. If so, then you must have recruited all seven hundred of those bandits, but why don’t I see them?”
Nodding his head, Dorcas was still kneeling on one knee as he hadn’t received an order to rise. He said respectfully, “That is right. Seven hundred forty two bandits have all submitted and are cleaning up the battlefield as per my order. My Lord, the rotting corpses of refugees are everywhere along the road from Seamist City to Brettel City. This kind of situation is very detrimental to the development of Brettel City, so I’ve ordered the bandits to clean all of the eyesores from the roadside.”
“Very good, Dorcas, that’s very thoughtful of you. Mm, right, all of your people have come back. Aren’t you afraid that those bandits will run away?” Han Shuo first praised the other before asking skeptically.
“My Lord, you may not know that the life of those bandits isn’t any better than that of the refugees’. I only promised to give them the same treatment as ordinary soldiers in Brettel City, and they agreed without hesitation.” Dorcas replied before pausing for a moment. He took out a big bundle, handing it over to Han Shuo with both hands as he said, “A total of thirty-seven thousand gold coins were found after raiding the twelve bandit groups. There were also, silver, jade, and ores of about several thousands gold coins worth, which the soldiers are now transporting to the warehouse. As for some worthless weapons, I left them in the lair of a bandit group for now as they were too heavy while their value wasn’t very high. I felt that there was no need to bring them back, so left them.”
“Good. Well done. You’ve thought it out very well. Rise. I will record your accomplishment of great merit. As long as you keep this up, you’ll get what you want sooner or later !” Han Shuo looked deeply at Dorcas, saying, “Brettel City is your stage. It seems that you are slowly adapting to your new position. Our Empire has sent the great armies to the seven duchies in the east, but couldn’t dominate them. However, since we’re already standing here, we must seize this chance at all costs to soar to new heights. We shall show those mediocre talents of the Empire, who couldn’t do it, how we do it.”
“Your servant swears to follow you to the end, my Lord!” Dorcas let out a loud shout. He stood up straight before Han Shuo, like another invincible Demonslayer Edge.
“Alright then, you are dismissed. The gold coins are temporarily in your care, consider them the capital for the armor and weapons of the seven hundred new recruits.” Han Shuo signaled Dorcas’ dismissal. After the latter left, Han Shuo fell into silence, musing over Dorcas’ words about tempting the bandits. He felt that there was indeed some truth to his words.
Two days later, early in the morning.
Dick hurriedly came to see Han Shuo with a report, “My Lord, several large bandit groups of the same size as Troda’s group are gathering in a forest over six miles away from Brettel City. I have received this information from a Dark Mantle member conducting a mission in one of the duchies. I heard that these bandit groups have a total of fifteen thousand people, all are prepared to rush over and furiously pillage our city.”
“It’s about time they came!” Han Shuo coldly snorted then said, “Send some people to keep tabs on their whereabouts. Fifteen thousand bandits? This will be the first real challenge for Brettel City to face!”
“My Lord, do you want to notify the chiefs of the mountain people? It’s too dangerous this time with just the three thousand soldiers guarding Brettel City. The mountain people might be able to help us!” Dick proposed.
Shaking his head, Han Shuo said, “Not for now. This is a test for us. The results of this battle will determine if I can make them dance to my tune in the future. Humph! Even though we only have a little over three thousand soldiers, the walls of Brettel City are no longer tattered like they were before. I’ve spent so many gold coins on Brettel City! Do they think it’s that easy to break?”
Han Shuo dared to say so because he was quite confident. The soldiers could hide on the high city walls and wait at ease for the enemies to exhaust themselves, while using their new equipment such as the great war chariots, fire and stone-throwing catapults to attack downwards. The six magic crystal cannons were no decorations either. In the worst case, Han Shuo could also summon the great undead army to join the fray. He believed that it absolutely wouldn’t be that easy for fifteen thousand bandits to break into the current Brettel City.
The entire Brettel City had unknowingly gone on high alert. Groups of soldiers dragged massive rocks through the streets. However, the war chariots and huge magic crystal cannons that the citizens had grown used to seeing everyday became tightly covered under gray cloth for an unknown reason, as if afraid of being discovered.
The originally indifferent civilians gradually became more interested in this new city lord. In addition to the bandits being annihilated at Mount Tali, there was also news of the obliteration of a dozen bandit groups between Seamist City and Brettel City that’d been deliberately spread throughout the city.
Moreover, an endless stream food had been distributed to them from the city lord’s mansion on the Food Festival yesterday. For once, the civilians had been treated to a fine filling meal. Their confidence towards the city gradually increased.
However, they were used to the city lords betraying them at critical moments. As the real crisis had yet to arrive, it was still unknown whether this new city lord was worthy of their trust. Therefore, the civilians had yet to sympathize with the new city lord. They only quietly observed the changes in Brettel City with eyes withholding.
After one more day, the four gates of Brettel City were all shut tightly. Merchants or civilians, all were forbidden from leaving. From time to time, soldiers would appear at the four gates to swept their vigilant eyes across the scene outside. Several small teams of knights on warhorses rode tirelessly around the city.
Even though the knights didn’t say anything, the citizens of Brettel City had been through too many painful wars. They smelled a familiar scent in the air.
War was coming!