Volume 5 – A Distance Within Reach, Chapter 55: Standard of Profit in War
Gunshots rang out from time to time as Dark Flame warriors cleaned up the battlefield. They worked in groups of three to five, and their att.i.tudes were just as cautious as they were during battle.
Vampires were the most dangerous enemies to humans, especially those on the verge of death because one would become a blood thrall all the same if they were suddenly bitten. The standard procedure during a cleanup was to fire first at any blood thralls or vampires with signs of life before approaching them.
Perhaps that was also the reason why vampires treated human prisoners of war with increasing cruelty. They were now much harsher compared to before the Thousand Year War where human prisoners were kept as livestock.
Between the two factions, the conflict between the humans and vampires was the cruelest.
When Qianye returned, he saw a dozen or so vampire warriors pacing around Zhao Yuying, probably the only prisoners of war in this entire battle. There was only one way humans treated blood thralls, and that was to exterminate them. There were also very few vampire warriors who were willing to surrender.
Zhao Yuying would occasionally pinch their chests and pat their b.u.t.tocks as though she were the patron of a brothel picking out a girl. Then, he saw her open a blood knight’s mouth and check his fangs—now that was definitely a method for picking beasts of burden.
Qianye truly had no idea how to evaluate this granddaughter of Duke You. The more he interacted with her, the more amazed he became. For instance, these originally fierce and vicious vampires were now as meek as kittens before her. One had to know that it was a great humiliation for vampires to have their fangs looked over, yet they were actually enduring it.
Qianye couldn’t help but ask, “How did you achieve this?”
Zhao Yuying didn’t turn back. “Call me sister and I’ll tell you.”
“Let’s leave that for later.” Qianye tried to slip through.
It was a rare occasion for Zhao Yuying to not pursue a matter relentlessly. She only continued her selection process and said, “It’s quite simple really. I only told them that anyone who disobeys will die for three days.”
“Is it that simple?” Qianye couldn’t believe it.
“It’s just that simple!” Zhao Yuying replied without hesitation.
“How can you have so much time.” Qianye unceremoniously exposed her lies. Time was precious to a person like Zhao Yuying—how could she spend three days on something like this?
Unexpectedly, Zhao Yuying laughed out loud and said, “I’ve always had a lot of time on my hands.”
Moments later, Zhao Yuying picked out ten vampires and said, “These vampires will be my compensation. Dispatch someone to send them back in a while.”
Qianye frowned after checking the remaining vampires. “That’s more than ten percent.”
Zhao Yuying put a hand on Qianye’s shoulder and laughed. “Qianye, why do you have to be so stingy?! This mommy, no, I’m still your sister no matter what.”
Qianye slapped away her claws without batting an eyelid. “This matter hasn’t been confirmed yet.”
Zhao Yuying’s claws came back once again and her face was all smiles. “Why isn’t it confirmed? There are only these few siblings in the Zhao clan. How can there be a mistake?”
Naturally, there were more than just a few people in the Zhao clan. Just the younger generation under thirty years old numbered in the tens of thousands. But those who could enter the eyes of Zhao Jundu and Zhao Yuying could naturally be counted on one hand.
Qianye frowned slightly. He didn’t want to be tangled with her anymore and said without the slightest bit of concession, “It’s fine if you want to take more from this batch. We’ll just adjust your payments accordingly in the future batches.
Zhao Yuying pouted. “It’s so rare to have another brother, yet he’s such a miser!”
“This little property is all I have. I would’ve been devoured clean by you if I weren’t stingy.”
“You’re speaking as though you’re this mommy’s man!”
“I suggest you do find a man as quickly as possible.”
“Hey, who treats an elder sister like that?!”
Qianye had already lost interest in bickering with Zhao Yuying. He shot a glance at the ten vampires she had picked out and asked, “How did you pick them?”
“According to their strength and quality of course.”
Quality? Qianye had never felt he could find any quality in these vampires. Even if there was any to be found, she probably couldn’t find any with her methods. Moreover, no matter how one observed, it still felt as though she was just picking those with good looks and figures.
Qianye had heard vaguely about how handsome vampires and demonkin were quite popular among the high-ranking n.o.bility.
The results of the battle were checked very quickly.
Viscount Thomas’ forces were completely wiped in this battle. Over twenty vampires above the level of esquire fell in battle, and two were captured. Nearly five hundred formal vampire warriors were killed, and over a dozen were captured. As for the blood thralls, the losses reached six thousand.
Meanwhile, the casualties on Qianye’s Dark Flame was over three hundred. This kind of casualty rate could be considered a glorious victory by the empire’s standards, however, that wasn’t the case in Zhao Yuying’s eyes. Qianye had used ten rounds of expensive daybreak flares in order to achieve this result. This battle could only be considered a minor victory once the ammunition cost was factored in.
Qianye was somewhat puzzled after hearing Zhao Yuying’s evaluation. She was, after all, a descendant of a major clan. Ignoring her shockingly carefree nature for the time being, just how was she raised to be so avaricious?
As Qianye saw it, ammunition was something that would be used sooner or later, while warriors would grow stronger with each battle. Using ten star sh.e.l.ls in exchange for a major victory was definitely worth it.
Qianye didn’t stop after eliminating Viscount Thomas and continued marching through the night. He split up the forces into two—one unit, led by Zhao Yuying, a.s.saulted the mines along the way, while Qianye personally led the other toward Viscount Thomas’ lair. That Wei clan champion continued leading the military engineers and logistic teams at a safe distance from the main army where he could both safeguard their rear path and rush to the front when his help was needed.
Zhao Yuying had to make an incomparably painful choice between attacking the viscount’s castle and the mines. There, Qianye saw a different side of her that was indecisive and hesitant. But come to think of it, she would only waver so much when money was involved.
Dark Flame’s offensive finally alarmed the entire county after this battle.
Only then did the feudal lords under Stuka’s command began to mobilize their troops, and with incomparable sluggishness at that. Up until now, the human forces in Blackflow City’s direction had only focused on defense and never launched a major offensive before. Only when Thomas’ army was completely wiped out and the viscount himself had fallen in battle did they come to realize that the humans were launching a real war.
Within a castle in the southeast, an extremely tall and st.u.r.dy werewolf was sitting on his high seat, looking down at the hall full of his subordinates.
Those in the hall were all werewolves, and there was none from the other races—a stark contrast from other feudal lords. Additionally, all of the werewolves were in their primitive forms; no one had transformed into human shape.
The werewolf on the high seat had flaming red hair, a vicious expression, and a large scar across his chest. He was known as “Red-Haired Brudo the Terrible”, the only werewolf viscount under Count Stuka.
Brudo was inherently cruel and tyrannical, but he possessed great combat strength and would disregard all consequences when he turned berserk. The scar in front of his chest was left behind when he challenged Count Stuka.
Having challenged Count Stuka as a second-rank viscount and even living to tell the tale—everyone came to know of Brudo’s madness and valiance after that incident.
This werewolf viscount was, at the same time, a racist who had always believed that only werewolves were trustworthy. That was why only werewolves were allowed to live in his territory and the only ones from the other races were slaves.
At this moment, the atmosphere in the hall was extremely stifling. Brudo’s loud breathing was akin to that of bellows as it echoed through the hall. The other werewolves, on the other hand, cowered without daring to speak.
Brudo finally spoke, “Where are those humans now?”
A werewolf walked toward the large map on the wall and pointed out the positions of Qianye’s three units.
“When did this incident take place?” asked Brudo.
The viscount suddenly roared, “Don’t try to fob me off with something so ambiguous as last night! Tell me the exact time. How many hours before was this!?”
The werewolf in front of the map said in a trembling voice, “F-Fifteen, approximately fifteen hours ago.”
“Fifteen hours! Humph!” It was quite rare to see a pause in Brudo’s fury. The pair of jade-green eyes stared fixedly at the map with an inexplicable solemnity on his face.
According to the information they acquired, Thomas lost too quickly no matter how they a.s.sessed the progress of the battle.
As one of the feudal lords under Stuka, Brudo understood Thomas very well. Even though that treacherous and cunning vampire was as cowardly as a mouse, the army under his command wasn’t weak at all, so much that his army might even be more powerful than Brudo’s werewolf-supreme army. How could he have been defeated just like that?
Brudo slowly turned back and asked, “Are the warriors from every tribe present?”
“Warriors from all tribes have been summoned except…”
“Except what?” Great ferocity flashed in Brudo’s eyes.
“The Sharp Fang Tribe hasn’t come. They claim to be performing an extremely important sacrifice to their ancestors and for which their entire tribe must be present. Otherwise, their ancestors would blame them.”
“Sharp Fang,” Brudo muttered this name from between his teeth and ended with a m.u.f.fled growl toward the end. Those familiar with Red-Haired Brudo the Terrible knew that he would tear everyone from Sharp Fang apart after this battle.
A brown-furred werewolf waved his claws and said, “Sire, let’s set out now. I’ll charge first and tear those human insects apart.
Brudo stood up and paced a couple of times in front of his seat before suddenly saying, “No, we shall defend. Inform all our men to recall all external patrol units and stop all hunting activities. Every warrior shall withdraw to defend the gates, and no one is allowed to fire unless the humans attack us proactively. No one shall attack even if they walk right past our eyes!”
“Sire, this…” The werewolves were bewildered because they had never seen Brudo issue such an order.
“Execute the order!” Brudo roared loudly and released his aura of brutality without restraint. The werewolves lowered their heads in fear and firmly memorized their orders. Then, they withdrew from the hall and began to convey the will of Brudo the Terrible to all relevant parties.
Only Brudo was left in the hall. He stood in front of the map and stared fixedly at the marks upon them, some thoughtfulness and caution appearing in his originally savage eyes.
On Dark Flame’s side, the vanguard led by Duan Hao swept through all dark race settlements one after another and annihilated all patrol teams who entered their sights. And with Thomas’ main force already destroyed, Qianye and Zhao Yuying conquered their respective targets with relative ease.
Qianye plundered everything valuable from the viscount’s castle. He dispatched a company of soldiers to escort the hundreds of vampire captives and tens of thousands of livestock humans back to Blackflow City while he himself led the army to rendezvous with Zhao Yuying.
The first thing Qianye asked after seeing Zhao Yuying was the number of casualties, but the latter’s only reply was that they had made a big profit this time.
With great effort, Qianye’s thoughts made a sharp turn and confirmed that their losses were indeed quite small.