Synopsis: A fast-paced story about a youngster who loses everything and everyone he holds dear. Through the only family that still remains with him, his uncle, he gets to choose to dedicate his focus and attention to blacksmithing rather than to fall into depression and street life...
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“You’ve arrived.” Long before our arrival, the scouts we sent ahead had already informed Violet Snow of our impending arrival so she wasn’t all that surprised to see us now. She blandly acknowledged our arrival before continuing on, “There’s exactly 300 captives here with us right now, do you want them?”
“There’s no such thing as too much fodder.”
By now, the battle had already been decided. The hellhound unit was currently circling the survivors to prevent them from escape. Should they decide to make a concerted push, the cavalry devils would merely scatter before making using of their superior mobility to reform and charge. Naturally, the medusas would step in to stop the escapees as well.
However, with the rodent’s natural fear of the medusas and the airborne harpies ready to toss their javelins, there was basically no chance of them succeeding. Their previous attempts at escape ended in their complete defeat with them shrinking back in fear before ever touching the hellhound encirclement, the reason being that those who didn’t try to escape weren’t attacked at all. That was the lesson the escaping rodents swiftly learnt.
Violet Snow’s intentions were clear for all to see. Round them all up and wait for more rodents to show up. That was the tactic she was familiar with and employed to great effect.
After all, baiting their enemies into a trap was a lot smarter than foolishly rushing into their stronghold. They even let a few rat children escape to ensure that their leader would receive their cry for help.
“Initially, those rodents tried to fight us head on but the moment they realized they couldn’t win, they immediately fled. After multiple attempts at baiting them out, we finally managed to capture these rats who tried to ambush us.”
“The pack was mostly comprised of the young and healthy. They probably formed the backbone of their fighting force so as long as we keep them here, there’s no need to worry about their leader not coming to save them. In fact, I’m betting those three-stars in there have some sort of relationship to the four-star leaders.” Having roughly recounted what happened and what she was planning, she ended with this, “Right now, all we have to do is wait patiently.”
“You’re that sure that the ratman leader will try and save them? I heard that these rats are pretty fertile, shouldn’t they be more cavalier about their descendants?”
“They’ll definitely come.” She barked without any hesitation in her voice. “As long as we kill off these little rats, there will be a gap in their clan’s inheritance (TL: genetic memory) and that’s something they can’t allow. Besides, after that thrashing I gave them recently, it’s about time for them to break their silence and counterattack.”
Recently, these rats started to have ambitions of ruling the Prison of the Dead. Being pushed around like this probably stung especially since such a cowardly display ran contrary to their grand ambitions of subjugating the prison. In that case, were those rodents planning to strike back soon?
“Is that why you called me over?”
“Mhm, even with these forces, I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to hold off their concerted attack.”
Despite what she said, there was still the option of running away if the situation looked grim. However, with Habona’s smooth retake of the lizardman clan, Violet Snow’s performance seemed rather lacklustre in comparison.
For a competitive puppy like her, it was truly an awkward development. Don’t forget, these two ladies weren’t exactly on the best of terms either.
As we discussed that, Numila came over having just settled some matters with her own clan.
Even though she already spotted me from a distance away, she didn’t run over and hug me like usual but instead nodded her head and in an emotionless voice, said, “The scouts have just reported back, there’s a horde of ratmen approaching us, roughly an hour away.”
It was a short report but the moment those words left her mouth, Violet Snow’s ears immediately perked up and a grin crossed her lips, an excited grin. “So, they’ve finally come.”
The Abaddon Rodents are attacking!?
Whether or not they were here to save their brethren or vent their anger, it looks like these rodents finally decided to put themselves on the chopping block. That’s right, the chopping block.
Given the extreme speeds of these harpies, the information brought back by that scout was definitely up-to-date. With just an hour left, we should start preparing right away.
However, that report was didn’t give me much to work with, for example, I needed exact numbers. Thus, I decided to press her for more information, “How many are there?”
“Roughly ten thousand.” She replied, using that same, bland tone. However, the number that left her mouth was anything but normal.
We had less than 50 hellhound riders and we didn’t have that many medusas either —less than 600 or so— other than my devils, we had roughly two thousand or so harpies bringing our combined numbers to roughly 4000 devils. Our opponent on the other hand was a whole digit higher than us…
Before the arrival of rodent horde, we still had a lot of preparations to finish. The first of which was handling those 300 rodent captives. What to do with them?
Violet Snow’s opinion was that they were a bother and we should just kill them off. Manasha was neutral on this while Harlow and Majosha simply followed her decision. Elena was as quiet as always while Numila basically had no opinion of her own and simply followed mine. Big 5 wasn’t a part of the decision making process.
As for my own opinions…I felt we should keep them alive for now. However, with the prison’s desolate environment, there weren’t any resources for miscellaneous objects like ropes. Thus, these defeated rodents ended up being handed over to Big 5’s unit and 20 other medusas for safekeeping. Having been herded to a dead end, all they had to do was guard this singular exit.
Seeing that was what I decided upon, the rest didn’t express much objection to it either and followed my instructions.
Thus, Majosha began the task of herding the captives into their corner. Faced against their natural predators, these 300 rodents didn’t even dare to squeak as they obediently entered that dead end. The moment all of them were accounted for, Big 5 immediately blocked off the exit with his riders.
With the other escape routes blocked off, the little rodents began to panic and tried to escape. Seeing as the riders stood in the way of the only escape route, they turned around and charged at the hellhound riders in hopes of breaking through the encirclement. Unfortunately for them, before they could even take a second step, the 20 medusas mixed in with the hellhounds, reared their snaky heads.
The young ratmen at the head immediately braked, legs trembling as they fixed their panicked eyes on the medusas. Standing right before them, was a predator who specifically preyed on their race. In the face of such a terror, it wasn’t strange that they froze with fear. After all, using a meat bun to beat a dog wasn’t the smartest thing to do either, though it was probably a rat bun in this case and it was a snake that was the target.
With the captives safely secured, the next thing we had to do was collect the bone javelins. Our previous clash with the rodents had basically expended all of the harpies’ ammunition so recollecting these javelins was absolutely critical especially given our tight schedule. Hopefully, most of them were still intact.
If I had known that such a colossal battle awaited us, I would’ve instructed Numila’s harpies to pack a couple more javelins before coming. Even though six javelins would slow them to some extent, these extra javelins could’ve been split with Elena’s harpies.
A while later, all the serviceable javelins had been scavenged. Adding on the javelins that we brought and those that weren’t used, we had over 10000 javelins to throw.
With that, the captives and the issue of ammunition had been taken care of, next was rest. The devils in Violet Snow’s army had just fought a battle so they were now in the midst of a break. They feasted on some ratmen meat and souls while waiting for the ratmen horde to arrive.
Speaking of the horde, how does your mind even process 10000 over rats? The moment I laid eyes on such a sight with the help of Numila lifting me up into the air, I saw nothing but a sea of black flowing towards us like a wave. The prison hallway was filled to the brim with squirming furry dots with only the bony white walls serving a stark contrast to the sea of black.
Fortunately, I didn’t suffer from trypophobia or I would’ve really suffered a major attack there.
Looking at the spearhead of the ratmen horde, I couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for those poor souls. Without any weapons in hand, these ratmen rushed forward towards their death.
Numila’s and Elena’s harpies swiftly took to the air before the advance party of the ratmen even arrived and without any hesitation, fired the first wave of bone javelins. With claws gripped firmly around the javelins, they built up some distance between their targets before tossing their payload in a short dive of sorts.
The rain of javelins descended on the advance party and peppered their furry bodies. However, the first wave didn’t accomplish much with less than a hundred ratmen dying while the others merely suffered minor injuries.
While it might not sound impressive, let’s not forget that the harpies didn’t possess a pair of hands but merely the claws on their feet. Given such circumstances, they naturally weren’t able to control their toss. All they could guarantee was that the javelins left their hands, as for whether it hit or what it hit, that was all up to luck.
It was precisely this lack of accuracy that resulted in so little casualties. Even so, such a flashy method was perfect for damaging their morale.
This reminded me of the first time I played LoL…back then, I didn’t know what last hitting meant. As long as it was an enemy creep(mob), I just hit it with my basic attack, all the way from 100% to 0%. Basically, I was able to snag a couple of kills per minute…later on, I found out that this was called “pushing”.
The harpies were basically “pushing” right now.
Putting aside the matter of their accuracy for now, they clearly demonstrated the fruits of their training. Like a squadron of fighter jets, they were able dart around the air while firing off javelins. It merely took them two minutes to unload a complete volley. A total of four thousand javelins were thrown in this volley and the results were pretty good.
There were over a thousand casualties with half of the survivors losing their ability to fight. While this wasn’t much in the grand scheme of things, don’t forget we still had over ten thousand javelins to go.
As for why it took them two minutes just to throw their javelins, that had to do with the new method of reloading I taught them. Normally, the spare javelins were slung on their bodies. However, because they had no arms, they had difficulty reaching for their spare javelins. In fact, they would even drop the javelin by mistake…sigh, this racial trait of theirs was such a stumbling block. In fact, it almost made me abandon the idea after the first session of training.
Later on however, I thought of an idea to solve this issue. Now, a harpy javelineer worked in pairs where they would help each other reload. Instead of grabbing the javelins themselves, they would snatch it from their partner. Being a race that acted like bandits most of the time, they took to this method like fish to water.
Now that the first volley was completed, the four thousand strong squadron began reloading. Closing on each other, they promptly began the highly complicated aerial maneuver of using their claws to grab a javelin slung over their partner’s breasts…
With bone javelins in hand, it was time for the second volley.