Chapter 352: Stone Men
After three days, the five chiefs of the mountain people once again met in Brettel City. Apart from the aged Adleman, the other four comparatively young leaders actually all agreed to Han Shuo’s demands.
Eventually, even Adleman who lacked the others’ lofty ambitions, agreed with the four young mountain leaders to bring down the majority of the mountain people in the mines to join the army. Adleman would be responsible for extracting ore from the five nearby mines and a portion of the ore would be allocated to the four young leaders.
Brettel City was now brimming with life. Eight thousand people came from the five mines to join the city’s burgeoning populace. Dorcas, called back by the news, decided to reorganize his troops. He broke up their traditional formations to form four large units, placing Han Shuo’s people as their commanders.
Even though the mountain people had previously acquired a smattering of weapons and armor, Brettel City didn’t have the equipment to fully arm eight thousand new recruits.
An armaments workshop funded by the Boozt Merchant Guild was quickly set up by Jack and Dorcas. It began operating at the site of the former workshops on Mount Silk. In addition, Brettel City also allocated funds to purchase smelting facilities, while the Boozt Merchant Guild was put in charge of hiring skilled metalworkers.
Since Han Shuo still had the assistance of the dwarves from the Dark Forest, he instructed the weaponsmiths at Mount Silk to focus on forging armour. The dwarves’ ability to forge weapons was far superior to anything a human could make, but in return, their armor weren’t as refined compared to those forged by humans.
Dorcas sent every one of the four mountain people units into harsh training, a regimen of his own devising. A former student of the Lancelot Imperial Academy, Dorcas was definitely a talented field commander. Under his training, the eight thousand mountain people saw a noticeable improvement in their strength.
After Faulke returned, he began instructing the mountain people in the proper usage of combat wagons, ballista wagons, and catapults. This type of powerful defensive weaponry required strong people to operate them, and the mountain people were perfectly suited to this task. Under the auspices of Faulke, the mountain people learned how to properly operate Brettel City’s gates and the combat wagons.
As the days passed, Dorcas found Han Shuo one day, and proposed a suggestion. “My Lord, the moat outside of Brettel City’s gates is full of shallow sewage. Now that we have the eight thousand mountain people at our disposal, we can spend some time making the moat even deeper. This way, even if the seven grand duchies decide to invade, the moat will cause them to lose a lot of men.”
Brettel City’s moat had originally only been half completed, but since Brettel City had been sacked again and again by the seven grand duchies, the construction of the moat had been left as an unfinished project. In the end, Brettel City became a lost cause, and the moat was eventually forgotten.
Dorcas was indeed a skilled strategist, immediately seeing the value in the moat outside Brettel City’s gates. Since the moat had already been given an initial shape, it wouldn’t take too much time and material to finish building it. When Brettel City’s moat was complete, it would act as a severe blow to the invaders.
This suggestion was immediately taken to heart by Han Shuo. The mountain people, relaxing after learning how to operate the defensive siege weaponry, were immediately put to work again on expanding the city’s moats and making them deeper.
Han Shuo’s arrival had also drastically increased the number of Dark Mantle agents operating in Brettel City. With Dick managing them, they then proceeded to infiltrate the seven grand duchies, resulting in a steady stream of information. If information concerning Brettel City was brought up, that would also be dutifully recorded and passed on to Dick, then Han Shuo.
As an emissary of Second Dark Star, Han Shuo far outranked Dick. In fact, Han Shuo even possessed the authority to award medals and citations to members who had contributions to their name. Amongst those select few stood Chester. Under Han Shuo’s deliberate recommendation, he became the second most powerful person in Brettel City’s Dark Mantle branch, second only to Dick. In addition, Chester had also risen in rank within Dark Mantle.
One day, Adleman suddenly sought out Han Shuo, who was studying necromancy magic. Delia of Mount Silk, who’d entered the military by now, also entered by his side.
“My lord, numerous stone men have appeared at the mines halfway up the mountain. These stone men have been attacking miners at the deepest places in the mines, causing scores of deaths. These stone men don’t fear magic, and their bodies are too tough. We don’t know how to deal with them, so we were wondering if you would be able to help us.” Upon finding Han Shuo, Adleman immediately told him what had happened.
Han Shuo was shocked. Frowning, he asked “Stone men? How can there be stone men in the mines? Was there anything like this in the past?”
Wearing soft armour, the heroic and imposing Delia had a tall nose and long legs. Standing ramrod straight, she presented an imposing figure. She shook her head at Han Shuo’s question, replying, “No, this has never happened before. Even since my father took over Mount Silk, there were never been any traces of stone men in there.”
Delia was originally the leader of Mount Silk. Even now, Delia still had many subordinates on the mountain. The people of Delia’s father’s generation had lived there before. Now that stone men had appeared, the former leader of the mountain people was now the focus of attention.
“Those stone men found halfway up Mount Silk… did you suddenly find them after re-opening an area?” Han Shuo continued to ask, brows furrowed.
Nowadays, not only did Mount Silk have mountain people mining there, but it also had a collaborative armaments workshop jointly owned by the Boozt Merchant Guild and Brettel City. It produced ten or so sets of high-quality armor every day. When more metalworkers arrived, the weapons workshop would then be able to operate more to Han Shuo’s satisfaction.
The mines on Mount Silk had abundant supplies of iron and copper ore. Taking advantage of this, the ore could be directly smelted into iron and copper. They would then be mixed with various other metals and forged into suits of armour by experienced metalworkers. In the eyes of Han Shuo, not only was Mount Silk an important source of ore, but also the crux of his armament campaign. As such, Han Shuo was greatly concerned about what Adleman had said.
“It is, My Lord. When we were excavating further below, we found that the iron deposits seemed to become even richer. When we were planning to send people down, a bunch of stone men appeared from an unknown place. These stone men seemed to have a very pitiful intelligence, making it impossible to communicate with them. They immediately began attacking us, and killed quite a few of our miners.” Adleman replied.
“So it’s like this!” Han Shuo thought for a moment and nodded. He said “I’ll go with you to Mount Silk to see what’s going on with the stone men in the mines.”
“Thank you, My Lord!” Adleman gratefully replied.
“My Lord, Mount Silk was my region to govern; even now, I still have many friends there. I want to go with you to take a look. I hope that My Lord will allow me to.” Delia stared at Han Shuo with glittering eyes, beseeching him. Since entering the military, the mountain folk had to follow orders and couldn’t do as they wished. It looked like Dorcas’ training lately had already taken effect. Delia seemed much more rule abiding now than the first time Han Shuo had met her.
Han Shuo simply nodded “Alright then.”
One could see quite a bit of green at the base of Mount Silk. However, the amount of green decreased as one went up the mountain. There were craggy rocks as far as the eye could see, without a trace of flora or fauna.
Spring had arrived. The warm weather also felt very comfortable. Han Shuo, Adleman, and Delia, along with a group of mountain people, walked towards Mount Silk. Due to his advanced age, Adleman walked more slowly than the rest, so Han Shuo had no choice but to walk slowly up the mountain with him.
Delia radiated her beauty along the way, dressed in light armour. Her arms and legs were bare, and she wore sparkling silver armor covering the “important places” on her chest. She glistened beneath the sun. It complimented her wheat-colored skin, mesmerizing and attracting the gazes of Adleman’s young escorts.
In Brettel City, Delia was known as the number one beauty amongst the mountain people. But by the same token, her strength was also something extraordinary. Due to her previous position, nobody dared to be impudent. Delia was now a mere captain, but since her strength was enough to suppress both Jack and Kent, ordinary mountain people had no way of catching her attention.
On the way to Mount Silk, Han Shuo thought about the stone men in the mines with a heart full of suspicion. Not knowing where the mountain people had come from, he didn’t pay attention to Delia’s infatuated fans.
Halfway up Mount Silk, Delia asked Han Shuo “My Lord, how do you plan on dealing with those stone men?”
Han Shuo was in deep thought. He turned his head and gave a dazzling smile, saying “We’ll see after we arrive there. We won’t know how to deal with the stone men before we see them.”
“If it’s like this…if the stone men attack us in the same way that our enemies attack us, then what do we do?” Delia continued to inquire, looking at Han Shuo with shining eyes.
“Then we’ll turn them into stone forever.” Han Shuo casually replied.
Hearing Han Shuo’s words, Delia nodded, saying “They dared to kill people from my tribe. I won’t let them off the hook. Damnable stone men, I’ll make you pay!”
It seemed as if Delia really cared about the ten or so miners who were killed. From this, Han Shuo deduced that Delia was a person who really cared for her subordinates. Even though she was no longer responsible for Mount Silk, upon hearing that there was a crisis, she had immediately requested to go investigate with Han Shuo. This proved that Delia was indeed kind to her subordinates.
After Han Shuo had made his stance towards the stone men clear, Delia appeared more relaxed around Han Shuo, later excitedly inquiring about Han Shuo’s experiences, especially his challenge of various experts in the Lancelot Empire and the corpses that lay behind him because of then. She also inquired about his conflict with the Brut Merchant Alliance, Cain, and the like-minded. Delia expressed a strong interest in these things.
There were many merchants in Brettel City who had come from Ossen City. These merchants were very familiar with some of Han Shuo’s exploits. Due to their reverence of Han Shuo, they exaggerated stories of Han Shuo’s heroic deeds, and relayed those to the citizens of Brettel City.
This unconsciously resulted in the citizens of Brettel City all coming to know Han Shuo’s past experiences. Combined with his previous battles with the four bandit groups, Han Shuo’s prestige in the city was beyond imagination. In the eyes of the citizens of Brettel City, a city lord who could provide safety and prosperity was far more trustworthy than that king in Ossen City who had abandoned them.
Responding to Delia’s excited questioning, Han Shuo didn’t say much, only elaborating a few sentences. However, the more Han Shuo appeared remote, the more interested Delia became. Delia spent the whole journey asking about Han Shuo’s duels with other strong figures.
After a headache inducing talk, the group finally reached the entrance of the mines. There was already a group of miners, with dust-coated faces and muddy clothes, waiting for them. These young miners were pleasantly surprised upon seeing Delia, joyfully shouting “Boss!”
From the miners’ genuine delight in seeing Delia, Han Shuo could tell that Delia was a good leader in their eyes. He looked a bit askance at her. When Delia saw Han Shuo look at her with surprise, she stuck out her well-rounded bosom with a bit of pride, seeming to say that, “See that? I’m actually quite good!”
Han Shuo laughed involuntarily at Delia’s behavior and didn’t excessively voice his opinion. When Delia asked about the miners using the tone of a leader, Han Shuo released the yin demon while listening to the content of their conversation, slowly flying toward the area said to have problems.
“Let’s go inside and see what’s going on.” Delia instructed to a group of miners as Han Shuo used the yin demon to look inside.
“Hold on. Mister Adleman, you shouldn’t go inside.” Han Shuo suddenly said. “It’s cold and wet inside. With your advanced age, you should wait outside for a bit.”
Adleman didn’t persist, knowing that with his body’s condition, he would only be a nuisance if he went inside. He smiled and agreed, saying “Thank you for My Lord’s understanding.” Smiling and nodding his head, Han Shuo looked at Delia and her group, and led the group into the dark caverns of the mine.