Ximengsi Continent’s southern part, Steinbeck Fief’s border area, Lawrence River
In Kruft Kingdom’s military camp, Prince Gruz, or more specifically, the soldiers beneath his command had repaired the floating bridge and begun packing up their camp to prepare for advancing toward Stanley City, the center of Steinbeck Fief. They planned to take advantage of this time while the other empires had not yet moved to capture Witch Ista by taking the initiative.
“Natalie finally left! This time, all the contribution will be mine. All personnel, set out! We must grab her before the other empires make a move.”
“Your Highness Gruz, something is wrong here! There is a blood mist!”
“What blood mist? In broad daylight? How can that be…”
Without examining it further, Prince Gruz casually gave instructions to the soldiers under his command. However, upon glancing at where his officer was pointing, the scene frightened him so much that he paled, and his soul nearly flew away. Fortunately, the imperial guards around the prince timely supported him, and the embarrassing scene of him falling to the ground in fear didn’t materialize.
Not far away from Kruft Kingdom’s military camp, a wide expanse of blood-red mist rapidly drifted over. In the midst of that blood mist, Prince Gruz observed cawing blood bats filling the sky and a large group of demonic wolves with blood-red eyes charging forward on the ground. Normally, Bloodkin familiars feared sunlight and wouldn’t be active during the daytime, but these Bloodkins summoned by Lucifer could completely ignore the effects of sunlight because the blood mist’s protection, allowing them to freely move about in the daytime.
The soldiers standing in the front were the first group to suffer disaster. Too pressed for time to turn around and retreat, they could only watch in horror as their comrades fell around them. The blood wolves systematically knocked them to the ground and bit their throats, instantly killing them. Combined with the shrieking blood bats that swooped down to attack soldiers from above and latch onto their necks, the joint attacks by these two Bloodkin species quickly suppressed Kruft Kingdom’s army. In addition, within the blood mist, these Bloodkin familiars were practically undying existences. Without dispelling the mist, physical attacks were not enough to kill them.
Even if a sword cut them in two halves, these blood bats and blood wolves would automatically be healed as if nothing had happened. Thus, the soldiers facing their attacks were too unlucky; with resistance futile, they were unable to last long and quickly killed in action. Facing the joint attacks of over ten thousand Bloodkin familiars without magicians to assist them, Kruft Kingdom’s expeditionary army collapsed at the first encounter. The Bloodkin familiars surrounded and crazily crazily massacred.
Even Kruft Kingdom’s elite troops, the Berserkers, didn’t have much of an advantage in front of these Bloodkin familiars. They relied on quenching their entire bodies in mad qi to block the attacks of the blood bats and wolves with great difficulty. Nevertheless, in front of undying opponents, these measures were tantamount to useless. Eventually their qi would run out, and they too would fall one by one. As if to make matters worse, these Bloodkin familiars seemed to have a high-leveled Bloodkin commanding them from behind the scenes because the familiars strategically divided into two groups. One group held up the Berserkers, and the other group crazily attacked those ordinary soldiers, reducing their numbers. If this went on, only the elite Berserker troops of Kruft Kingdom would remain.
“Quickly withdraw! Withdraw to the borderline.”
“But Princess Natalie is over there…”
“No matter what happens to that fool, she is not the successor to the throne! All soldiers, withdraw!”
Prince Gruz was already so frightened that he had completely lost the courage to put up a fight. He immediately commanded his army to quickly retreat to the opposite bank of Lawrence River, planning to abandon Princess Natalie and her several hundred soldiers in order to protect himself. After withdrawing to the Kruft Kingdom, he could decide on a new plan. After returning to the kingdom, he could escape blame by claiming that Princess Natalie had died in battle when the King questioned him.
However, these Bloodkin familiars summoned by Lucifer had a high-level existence leading them. Hiding in the blood mist under the cover of blood bats and blood wolves, that existence carefully observed the scene to look for any opportunities to cause further chaos. Those Berserkers might be able to escape it if they retreated in concert, but Prince Gruz was not a Berserker. It was impossible for him to escape. Taking advantage of this time while Prince Gurz was flurried, a shadow flitted out of the blood mist and pounced onto the unguarded Prince Gruz. Grunting in surprise, those elite Berserkers around Prince Gruz were a step too slow. Before they could reach him, Prince Gurz had already been swept away by that shadow without a trace.
In the city ruins of Needham Plain, Clyde diligently followed Princess Natalie, searching for money and goods in this discarded city. The gold coin chests in those discarded stores were already extremely worn-out, and almost all of them had their locks already ruined, so they were very easy to open them. After looking around for a short while, Clyde discovered a lot of gold coins. On average, a shop had dozens of gold coins, so by scavenging an entire city, Clyde gained a lot of capital.
“Grab a little more. Like this, we’ll have more military funds. Clyde, I will lend you this storage ring. After completing this mission, you can keep it. Just regard it as a gift.”
“Princess Natalie, that’s wrong. I am just an ordinary soldier; this gift is too precious.”
“Are you dissatisfied with it? Although the grade of this ring is not very high, it can store a lot of things.”
Princess Natalie passed a storage ring to Clyde for storing money and goods. Now that it was only the two of them, Clyde didn’t conceal his appearance and generously showed his face to Princess Natalie. Princess Natalie had some doubts in her heart, but she didn’t ask any questions. Basically, Clyde’s temperament didn’t resemble that of a soldier, and there were no calluses on his hands. According to her estimations, he had probably never held a weapon. As for his background, Princess Natalie couldn’t guess.
Clyde had yet to learn that Kruft Kingdom’s military camp had already been almost completely annihilated by the Bloodkin familiars summoned by his younger sister Lucifer; only those elite berserkers had withdrawn with great difficulty. Needham Plain, however, was very calm as it had always been before. It was so calm that it was terrifying. The only thing breaking the silence over these ruins were the the occasional sounds of movement as they neared other squads.
Princess Natalie gradually led Clyde toward the depths of the city ruins. Her objective was the discarded Castellan residence. Generally speaking, the Castellan residence was the richest place in a city. The banking of every human nation on Ximengsi Continent was managed internally, so all city lords had a secondary job of providing banking services. The merchants inside a city generally deposited their wealth in the underground treasury of the Suzerain residence.
Natalie’s objective was the Castellan residence’s underground treasury. That place should have the entire city’s deposited wealth. As long as she could smoothly open it, it would be much better than plundering these small stores. Mysteriously, Princess Natalie had a complete map of Needham Plain that she used to guide Clyde and herself to the entrance of the Castellan residence’s basement.
When they neared the basement’s entrance, Clyde immediately detected many people hiding within because they shared his “Evil God” attribute. Princess Natalie, however, didn’t notice any problem. She confidently walked toward that opened basement gate. In that pitch-dark basement, vague golden flashes could be seen as the luster of gold coins reflected the dim light from their candles.
Just when Princess Natalie wanted to enter, Clyde suddenly grabbed this red-haired beauty’s shoulder. Although Princess Natalie was a Berserk Swordswoman, she was not strong enough to struggle free of his hands.
Upon noticing this fact, she asked in astonishment, “Clyde, what’s going on?”
“Princess, you don’t need to go down to this place. I alone am enough; you can just wait for the gold coins here.”