Translated by Tianic, edited by Grammarly
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[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n the place far behind the AUFs formation where the view of the forward clay city was utterly vague, two slave legions were instructed to sit and wait for further orders. The soldiers rested in groups according to their ranks. A few officers and a mass of army supervisors were patrolling the rows.
Due to the slaves’ limited combat ability, dying was almost inevitable once they went onto the battlefield. The cleaning job was not easy once the war ended. Thus a portion of the cheap slave power was arranged here at the far end. They were to offer their labor.
The crowd consisted of a full slave legion and a few other slave army leftover chunks who suffered significant losses during the battle a few days earlier. Thus the army staffs just grouped them for management and supervision convenience.
As for the ones that died, they were either buried or exposed. No one cared about the light injured, and those who were heavily wounded were treated the same as the dead.
The moment the attack initiated, what was happening in the frontline came by the wind in the form of noise which meant a constant tickle to the officers and soldiers who stayed idle in the behind. Within AUFs, there was a custom which stated the war trophies from a decisive battle like such would belong to the soldiers who captured them, for boosting morale purpose, apparently.
And examples of war trophies included everything excluding enemies’ weapons, properties demanded by officers of all ranks. And surely, all females in the enemy camp and 50 miles behind it were on the market as long as someone was capable.
Since AUFs’ current enemy was limited to a single legion size at most, and due to their severe damage after fending the clay city for a dozen days, what was left of the enemies were by far around 30, 000~40, 000. On the other hand, the attacking party still had enough strong soldiers and sturdy horses as well as countless catapults as dense as a rainforest. At the thought of the benefits they’ll get, all the anxious soldiers were itchy for a fight.
Not long after the proactive strike, the officers who stayed for further orders began to form in scattered groups and started chatting; same for the army supervisors because staring at slave soldiers was not a pleasant job, which made loafing a commonplace. As for the dull-looking war expendables, they had no real guts to make a sound wishing only to survive on the battlefield.
Yet the slaves remained still. The drumbeats had been messing with their minds from last night. And it started sounding again moments ago.
The slaves had been living here in this land since the beginning of this war until recently; they grew up here. Thus each one of them, no matter which tribe they came from, were extra familiar with the beats.
Indeed, the sounds were from the sacred Ten Chapters, though the rhythm was odd. The music was forged into their flesh and bones since the day they were born, even their blood would boil with the drumbeats.
They knew what the beats were telling. When the sound of Sorrow started, thousands of slaves lowered their heads at the same times. They wouldn’t dare to let their commanders glimpse their tears. Disobeying orders to wipe tears will get them slashed in no time.
They also knew what happened: no mattered who died, the ones who lost their lives were the unluckiest who came stand at the frontmost. The beats, let alone, were on such a large scale, which meant the death toll was at least thousands.
Nevertheless, the dead merely left an early step. The rest were on the path of death. They had no other choice but to fight their own people once they were deployed on the battlefield despite they came from the same tribe or village. They could just resent that they were born on this Protoss/Asmodian Line, they could only hate that they were slaves, or even born as humans to be less!
The slaves swallowed tears, fingers thrust into the soil. All of them were in desperate oppression.
A tall and robust slave soldier sobbed as he retracted his hand from the soil. He sided his head and found the companion who stayed beside was a slave he did not know of.
“You, what unit are you?” The tall slave lowered his voice as deep as he can, “They’ll kill you for wandering around!”
Since the big slave legion was joined by remnants from other legions and due to the lack of administration, it was not weird for stranger mates in the team. But a wandering guy was indeed odd.
“Aha, sorry I can’t find my unit.” The little guy made an awkward smile, revealing his pearl-white teeth.
It looked like he was a new slave who did not know the rules. The tall slave sighed then quickly glimpsed the officer from a distance. He lowered his voice again, “If you’re inquired later on, you say you’re with me. I’m Chappie.”
“Yes, Brother Chappie.” The little slave nodded in appreciation, “I’m Maru. I will follow you.”
A slave’s life was nothing worth mentioning for the AUFs. An officer usually had hundreds of slave soldiers to administrate, and the administrative methods were either lash or blade. Like recognizing monkeys, no one was going to note the slaves’ faces. In fact, many officers considered all slaves looked exactly the same: demeaning.
Under such a circumstance, the slaves scaled themselves according to their ages, divided into secret groups according to their villages of origin. These groups had leaders. They were abided by the traditions of the tribe, providing the customs were reachable.
It was not odd. Such a phenomenon would even show among any captivity groups. As long as the slaves can obey orders, the officers won’t give a shit about these things. Actually, they were unable to because you cannot limit the things on the slaves’ minds. The existence of such cliques will not solve practical problems, psychologically, the slaves needed it. They needed people they recognized to look up to. Such a sense of belonging meant heaven and hell to them for living in constant fear.
Chappie was one of the leaders of the cliques. In the group, he had thirtyish people who came from the same unit. Chappie always considered caring for newbie slaves his duty. What he didn’t know was that this shy-looking young man had not been a slave for a long time. He was a lieutenant officer from the Phantom Legion’s elite investigation corp.
The young man went through under the dark last night. Maru was his real name. There were around a hundred who came with him. All have successfully sneaked into their separated target enemy units.
Maru also grew up on the P/A Line. He knew everything about the slaves including language, habits and customs and their thoughts or even evil practices because himself was a refugee before he fled to Dark City.
While the officers were not paying attention, Chappie and Maru whispered. Both of them came from Yarning Tribe, so they found their relationship real quickly: Chappie was Maru’s uncle’s second sister’s husband’s uncle’s younger son’s brother-in-law’s cousin’s fellow villager…
As the two’s chat went wordy, the war situation on the frontline was getting tense. On second thought, the war situation was getting hotter unilaterally because the PUF army didn’t show at all.
The AUFs’ 27th Legion has arrived down the clay city wall. Unlike the slaves, the 27th Legion was an ordered, well-provided, handpicked army. The catapults seized to attack after the wall was half-destroyed. Then other siege vehicles approached to finish the job. Thus the wall started to collapse on a massive scale. The collapsing points became breaching channels. The slaves who survived the earlier battle were driven into the city. They triggered more traps on their way in.
After the slaves went in, AUF officers commanded their soldiers to push the rest of the siege vehicles into the traps. The stones that fell from the collapsed wall were utilized to fill the traps in order to make ways for the followup armies to march.
The primary battle legion: the 27th Legion started to march in from dozens of breach points. And once again, army supervisors compelled more slaves to charge in order to give the 27th more time to reconstruct their formation.
All the buildings near the wall had already been wiped down by the PUFs, the nearest clay city inner structure was 2 miles apart from the city’s perimeter, which left about 2 miles blank area in between. Everybody knew this area was a death zone.
After the slaughtering on the wall, the slaves have endured the utmost suffering. Many of them went full of tears. Their mindstate was on the verge of a breakdown. For these battlefield newbies, witnessing tens of thousands of friends getting killed by their own army was an ultimate shock. The shredded bodies, scarlet bloodstains, alarming crying were constant reminders that death was dreadful.
Needless to say, the wait before dying was even insufferable. And these poor men have been suffering for quite a while.
The slaves started marching despite the desperate tears.
Cohen Kheda’s vision went through the battlefield. He oversaw everything that happened.
“Chance!” He said so suddenly and loudly that all who were in the commanding center dazed for a moment.
“Move yourselves onto the wall behind…” Before he could finish, Cohen has run out. Thus the staff officer did as they were told: grabbed the maps, tools. Then moments later, a crude new commanding center showed at Cohen’s designated place: a place right beside Gardena’s master drum.
“Next chapter!” Cohen dashed to Gardena while pointing his hand at the enemy troops, “They’re also your clansmen! Use your drum and tell them, they don’t have to die!”
Gardena’s hands showed a sudden tremble, his pair of drumsticks nearly went loose.
“Do it!” Cohen cried, “They’re marching!”
The instrumental performance included more than a hundred giant drums, how could Gardena just stop playing the current chapter and start a new one? Thus he cursed Cohen Kheda quietly then raised both his arms. Gardena made resonating roar.
A hundred drummers all seized striking and looked over. Gardena, though blushed, cursed Cohen again in his heart.
He broke the custom one more time because halting the drums by roaring was only a ritual used to grant the next tribe leader. Once he roared, he must pass the chief title to another. But who’s going to be the next at such a moment?
However, the situation did not allow Gardena to reconsider. Blushed as he was, he struck the drum face again. As the rhythm took form, it’s recognized as the chapter ‘Enquire’.
Gardena was indeed a fossil, but he was never a stupid by becoming the tribe leader of tens of thousands of refugees. The time when Cohen yelled at him to change a chapter, Gardena caught Cohen’s idea precisely. Enquire was indeed the perfect chapter.
Always on the run, the refugees had to have a way to communicate. But due to the labyrinthian terrain, mountains, and rivers, there was no chance that shouting out would work. Thus communicating by sounding drums became the only option. Over time, chapter Enquire had developed into a rhythm capable of passing messages under any circumstances. One cannot understand the torturous story behind this chapter unless he was one of the refugees.
The altered drumbeats inflamed memories that have been hiding deep in the slaves’ souls. The marching slaves suddenly halted.
But the army supervisors were there behind them. They immediately fired a burst of crossbows to kill quite a few. In the cryings, slave soldiers were forced to carry on. But the arrows from behind and the drum sounds from across gave them some extra thoughts. Slaves were also intelligent human beings, and within the 10 thousand slave soldiers, there were quite a few smart ones.
Without warning, a slave made a prompt forward dash. He went over the others to the frontmost.
Then followed the second, the third, the forth. More slaves went over to the front.
“Faster??” Cohen’s imagination ran riot, “What does that mean?”
“Pay attention to their steps!” Gardena did not stop sounding the drums, he replied loudly, “They’re sending us a message by pacing the beats!”
Indeed, the ones who rushed to the front were advancing with a set of peculiar pace that made marching scene somewhat odd-looking.
Cohen was no expert on this, so he asked Gardena, “What’re they saying?”
“They’re replying: they can’t choose it! The danger is behind them!”
“Tell them to come in from both left and right side. I’ll tackle the army supervisors. Once they reach my designated location, they’ll be safe!” Cohen yelled restlessly, “Can you tell them the right direction and time?”
“Sure I can!”
“Carlos! Deploy my elf marksman. Kill the men with crossbows behind the slaves! Tell them to turn off the traps on both sides of the field!” Cohen said his orders loudly, “Prepare to make contact with the slaves. Pacify them! Make it QUICK!”
“Yes, sir!” The order came so abruptly that the people in the commanding center fell into a moment of uproar.
“Excellent!” Seeing hundreds of elf marksman floated and started shooting, Cohen’s arm slashed to Gardena’s direction, “GARDENA!”
The old-timer cursed one more time in his heart. He made yet another earthshaking roar that alter the beat pattern once again.
After hearing this series of densely dotted beats, a burst of cheer erupted from the AUFs’ slave marching head. Hence they started accelerating. The new marching speed surprised the 27th Legion who was left behind handling their formation.
PUFs’ marksman were in their positions, their arrows looked no less deadlier than the crossbows held by the army supervisors behind the slaves. Under the traps on both sides of the PUFs’ bastion, several teams of sandman soldiers were disabling the pits with trunks.
“These demeaning bugs, madness!” In the AUF commanding center, the 27th Legion commander yelled. His army has completed the formation and ready to charge. As long as they crossed the dusty tunnel, they will be able to march down to the rear wall. The distance in between was 5 miles at most.
By the changing drumbeats, a piece of thought came to him, “Huh, the Phantom Legion never seize to surprise us.”
However, the situation enraged him. In the striking sounds, the army supervisors continued to fall off their horses. What did not occur to him was how they were shot beyond the enemy’s firing range.
What came next triggered him even more.
He saw the slave soldiers divided themselves into 2 strands then marched into the streets on both sides of the city while cheering. Then they stopped neatly. Not long after, all of the slaves who successfully entered the clay city disappeared behind the disordered clay wall.
Though no one has taken the slaves a big deal, the current case was so bizarre. Phantom Legion’s killer tactic, the traps that have been giving AUFs soldiers a headache, did not function on those slaves.
In fact, The Phantom Legion didn’t fight the slaves at all!
Then there was only one possibility left: these slaves, these low and dirty slaves have all surrendered!
The 27th commander had no time to consider when and how the slaves colluded with the enemies, he said his order to let the first 2 regiments of his 27th Legion start marching slowly toward the target.
However, the slave incident gave quite a shock to the AUFs command post.
“Sir, the preceding slaves have all surrendered…” A sweaty orderly hurried into the post. Before he could finish the sentence, Lieutenant General kicked him off.
“Sir!” Lieutenant General’s act made such an astonishment to his subordinates.
The orderly lied unconsciously, his helmet was around, face skin scratched, his blood stained a considerable area of the carpet.
Lieutenant General ignored his dogs. He gazed at the bloodstain, his breath burdened. Then he simply closed his eyes.
“Take him out,” A while after, he squeezed a few words, “treat him well.”
From last night till now, the enemy has given him too much astonishment. Lieutenant General once again learned the Phantom Legion’s power. Any idiots would act with caution given the current situation.
After exhaling heavily, Lieutenant General started pacing in his command post. Since this man had worked his way to become a lieutenant general, his achievements and experience were not to be neglected. Now, after several upsetting incidents, he put away his irrelevant thoughts, a more definite knowledge of the war began to show in his brain.
“My staff officer,” Lieutenant General said in a calm voice, “send my orders, guard the slave reserve. Triple the supervisors.”
Lieutenant General went to the map calmly. His finger touched slowly and moved across.
“Blocking our view with the broken wall, so our soldiers cannot make response timely. Actively abandoning the wall to avoid my catapult attack. Then they disturbed us sleeping at night and colluded with the slaves. They’re on a streak to shake our faith. I assume my front troops’ morale has been compromised…” Lieutenant General’s knuckle tapped the map as an epiphany struck him. He finally came to understand the enemy strategy.
“Send my order, move my post to the clay city wall!” Lieutenant General roared, “Bring the banner together!”
“But sir, today’s warfare has always been changing. That spot is dangerous!” The staff officer immediately rejected, “You’re our supreme commander, you cannot go that far before the condition gets clear!”
“Indeed, I’m the Lieutenant General, but I’m also a glorious AUF soldier! I am the supreme commander, I have my men’s trust! They’ve trusted their lives in me. They believe in me, how could I not believe them! Three main battle legions’re fending each other, how is Phantom Legion going to hurt me!” Lieutenant General tidied his medals on his uniform as he listened to the 27th charging, “Our ensign arrives where our soldiers charge to! No enemy will fend our AUFs’ mighty name! That’s an order!”
A while later, a team of riders rushed out and marched across the advancing army. The Asmodian United Forces’ black banner was going with the wind on top of the tall post.
Lieutenant General acted imposing on his horse. His well-ironed uniform was full of various-colored medals, the ribbons on his helmet extended in the air, his pure black cape whipped in the wind. Looked at the marching soldiers blow his horse, Lieutenant General suddenly raised his right arm and roared, “THE VICTORY IS OURS! ALL HAIL AUF!!!”
Asmodian United Forces’ main battle legion’s power was not to be underestimated. As the Lieutenant General roared, countless soldiers echoed back. As waves of roaring overspread the sky, the grim fact of ten thousand slaves’ surrender was swept away.
“THE VICTORY IS OURS! ALL HAIL AUF!!!”
“THE VICTORY IS OURS! ALL HAIL AUF!!!”
“THE VICTORY IS OURS! ALL HAIL AUF!!!”
AUF soldiers were excited to see the army banner moved forward and Lieutenant General himself was personally leading the battle. They echoed loudly back to the general with their booming morale. Among countless exciting calls, the black banner was planted on the clay city wall. The distance between the two parties’ command posts was less than 5~6 miles.
Both commanders of the two armies have taken this tiny clay city as a chessboard. They were going to perform a life and death fight on it.
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