Chapter 76: Deception (1)

Another morning had come and the gloominess that pervaded the Northern church’s camp was much heavier than the day before. Brock who had been given a tent in a relatively secluded area of the camp hadn’t failed to notice the atmosphere. Standing next to him was a Northern church soldier who was assigned to assist him. However, what no one was aware of was that this particular guard wasn’t the original one that had been assigned to assist Brock. He had been replaced at some point in the confusion of the previous few days.

“It seems the young master’s plans have borne fruit. I don’t know how he was capable of doing this, but I am well aware that he has many secrets.”

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It seemed as if Brock were talking to himself, but in fact he was speaking with the soldier who was standing inconspicuously next to him.

“I won’t ask how he has accomplished this, but are you certain he wishes for me to stay in this camp? I would prefer to return to his side.” Brock asked without looking at the soldier.

“I have already relayed our master’s orders. You are to remain here for the time being until master has accomplished his objective.” Whispered the soldier in reply.

Brock stood upright with his hands held behind his back as he stared off into the distance. At first he was skeptical of this soldier and didn’t trust his words but he had known a few secrets which only Aleks would know. He had already heard about the attacks and also the fact that Aleks faked the destruction of his army. Although he had received no answer on how Aleks accomplished these tasks, he didn’t bother to ask. All he knew was that Aleks had some important objective he needed to accomplish and that he should wait until Aleks summoned him.

This is truly vexing. I wish he would share his goals with me. Leaving me in the dark constantly, I don’t understand it. Are there secrets he really needs to keep from me?

Brock had many questions and concerns and Alek’s behavior had become seemingly more erratic and indiscernible the older he grew. Regardless, Brock would follow him as he had sworn an oath of blood that he would never betray.

“My time is almost up, we should head towards the command tents.”

Brock finally turned to the side to look at the soldier next to him questioningly. He was curious why the soldier had said his time was almost up but hesitated to ask and instead just said, “Fine, let’s go. I am curious of what they plan to do from now anyway.”

The two made their way through the large camp noticing many soldiers on patrol. They were tense and on edge which was to be expected. They had just been attacked from within the camp by who they thought were their own soldiers. Some of the patrolmen eyed Brock with suspicion but no one stopped him as he made his way towards the central area as he was accompanied by a guard and also gave off an aura of power which intimidated them.

When Brock and the soldier accompanying him arrived at the central area, they could hear a loud argument taking place in the command tent. Brock approached the tent and attempted to enter but was stopped angrily by the guards outside the tent who refused him entry. Although they were rude, Brock paid it no mind. They were no threat to him and he knew that those within should already be aware of his presence since he didn’t hide his aura.

“Let him enter.”

As expected, the voice of the Archbishop could soon be heard allowing him entry. The guards continued to eye him angrily but they no longer barred his way and he calmly entered the tent with the temperament befitting a high class butler and confidant of nobility.

“Ah, you are here Brock. Allow me to apologize for the shouting you must have heard from the outside.” Greeted Archbishop Ragnir with a light smile.

However, Brock didn’t fail to notice the tired look and dark circles under the eyes of the Archbishop and others. It seemed that they had been having a difficult time due to the stressful circumstances.

“Not at all. Please forgive my intrusion. I was only hoping to sate my curiosity due to the peculiar events that have been taking place. I heard that the camp has been attacked again and was wondering if I could offer my assistance.” Brock said politely.

“Is it necessary to allow this outsider in here?” Scoffed one of the priests while glaring at Brock.

Archbishop Ragnir looked towards the priest who had spoken with a raised eyebrow before saying, “There are no outsiders here. Brock is a famed commander, it might not hurt to have an outside opinion. Perhaps his thoughts could shed some new light on our own issues.”

While those in the room were distracted with their conversation, the soldier who had accompanied Brock had slowly made his way towards that priest who had spoken out. It appeared as if he were backing away as he was only a soldier without any authority and could not take part in any discussions between the army’s leaders. From the corner of his eye Brock noticed the soldier slowly reveal the glint of his blade as he unsheathed it and suddenly lunged towards that priest who had previously spoken out in contempt. This caught everyone unaware, even Brock had no idea the man was planning to do this.

The soldier plunged his blade through the back of the priest, piercing his heart and killing him instantly before shouting, “Soon, you will all die!”

Chaos ensued within the tent as the others quickly unsheathed their weapons or cast magic towards the soldier who fought fiercely, but was eventually overwhelmed and torn apart. He didn’t go down easily though, as he was under the effects of Aleks’s ability and wasn’t easily killed.

Brock watched everything from one side of the tent. He hadn’t seen the earlier fighting with the marionettes or puppets. This was his first time seeing such a scene and he too was shocked by it. Archbishop Ragnir and the officers of the army stood over the body and carefully inspected the body.

“This is the guard that was assigned to Brock?” Archbishop Ragnir asked one of the officers near him who was responsible for assigning the soldier.

“He clearly walked in with Brock, but this is not the guard that I had assigned to his guard detail. I don’t recognize him.”

“Does anyone recognize him? Where did he come from?” Asked Ragnir angrily.

“Wait, this is one of my scouts. He was sent out the day before and returned last night.”

Ragnir was furious and turned to the commander of the army, “Have every scout that has been sent out over the past few days gathered. Execute every last one of them! It is clear that the men we are sending out have been compromised and could already have these things among them. Damn this expedition to the Nine Hells! As an additional precaution, make sure no one travels throughout the camp alone. All of our soldiers should remain with their squads and move together at all times. We can’t have any more incidents like this, the men are already on edge enough and clean up this f****** mess!”

“Yes Archbishop, but we still need a plan of action. If the enemy is out there, we have no idea where they are or if they plan to attack us again. Also, our subordinate forces are still carrying out their missions and may not be aware of what is going on. They may have been infiltrated as well.” The commander replied flustered.

The Archbishop nodded, he hadn’t been thinking clearly due to his anger and just realized this as well.

He turned to one of the officers within the tent and said, “Inform the subordinate camps, have them start gathering. Also, inform them to execute all of their scouts and any other soldiers who may have disappeared at any point in time or been sent out of the main war camp. Instruct them that they must not send any more patrols or scouts out of the camp and to wait for further orders.”

An officer saluted and quickly left the tent to carry out his orders. Brock, who was still within the tent, was paying close attention to everything that had been going on.

So this is what he meant. The young master truly has such foresight. If what he said is true and they ask me for my advice then I will fulfill my master’s expectations.

The tent had gone quiet as those within contemplated in silence. It was clear that the strain of these past few days was wearing down on them. The Archbishop especially looked flustered as he gently rubbed his eyes with one hand.

“What now? Any ideas? We can’t just sit here while an enemy army plays with us day and night!” Ragnir finally broke the silence.

The officers and commander were quiet. They didn’t have any good suggestions to offer. Seeing that no one offered anything worthwhile, Ragnir turned to Brock.

“Does the famed Flash Blade have any advice he could offer? My military commanders seem to be useless.”

The Archbishops harsh words caused the officers in the tent to flinch, but they didn’t dispute his words since they didn’t have any good suggestions to give.

Brock was silent for a moment, but then stepped forward calmly while rubbing his chin, “I have one possible idea, but I honestly don’t know if it will work or not. It really depends on the capabilities of your men. I do not wish to take responsibility for any failure.”

Only allowed on

“Don’t worry, anything you suggest will be considered and you do not have to worry about any blame. After all, you are just offering your opinion. Whether we choose to use your advice or not is something we can consider carefully.” Replied Ragnir politely, his anger visibly having calmed after hearing Brock’s words.

“Well, if it isn’t possible to scry or scout the position of the enemy, then the only advice I have would be to send out a highly maneuverable vanguard who can hopefully cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. Cavalry would be ideal of course, or if you don’t have enough cavalry, then more lightly armored units would do. You would also need a powerful and capable commander to lead the force. You know nothing of the enemy so this could be dangerous but I can’t think of any other ideas. If the enemy is out there and plans to continue to raid your army, then their main force can’t be too far.”

The Archbishop along with his officers listened carefully to Brock’s suggestion and some even nodded their heads in affirmation. Most seemed to think the plan was a good one.

“Hmm, it isn’t a bad plan. The twins have been dying to go out and get some revenge as well. We have kept them back for a while now, but it might not be a bad idea to send them with a force to suppress the savages.” Offered the commander but Ragnir shook his head.

“Sending both is not a good idea, we need one of them here just in case we are attacked. They are our greatest warriors, sending them both could be dangerous especially if the enemy somehow attacks us from a different direction. We can send one of them with a vanguard force while the other remains here to defend the camp. I believe this to be the best path forward.”

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