Chapter 77: Deception (2)

Several miles from where the Northern church expedition made their camp was a large force of Orc and Barbarian warriors who were haphazardly standing in battle lines. It would be too much to call it a formation and instead it was much more like a surprising and chaotic mix of Human Barbarians and their Orc counterparts. In temperament, there wasn’t much of a difference between the two races and they were each as savage as the other, but normally they didn’t get along very well. So, it was strange to see the two different races standing side by side as comrades in arms.

Neither of the two groups knew very much of organized military strategy and were much more accustomed to simple swarm tactics and so there wasn’t any particular rhyme or reason to their formation. Their idea of battle was to have the magic casters, who were shamans, simply cast some of their buffs upon the warriors while the warriors charged into the enemy ranks. There were also a variety of animalistic spells in their repertoire which would also be cast once the initial buffs were completed. These were mostly summoning spells to summon powerful animals like direwolves or large bears. This was the most simplistic means of battle and so they weren’t much of a threat to an organized military. Their strength was usually in their numbers, their fearless nature, and their individual prowess.

The tribal army numbered several thousand and there were both men and women among the warrior’s ranks. These were the strongest members of the tribes in that particular region and those who could not fight had already left the area and went on ahead to escape the conflict. Not every member of a tribe was a warrior and the various tribes in the area were relatively small in number, but since most members of a tribe were warriors there was still a sizeable number of them in the region. However, the majority of those living on the Steppes were located further in the interior and mostly only smaller tribes roamed around the outer regions so their numbers were still limited.

The larger tribes who lived in the interior regions of the Steppes would normally only come this close to the civilized nations when raiding or in large scale conflicts. The expeditionary forces were not planning on coming into conflict with the larger tribes just yet and were only meant to pave the way for future expeditions while slowly whittling away at the strength of the tribes on the Steppes. Their objective was simply to clear out this specific region while establishing a base of operations for future expansion. There was a city with fortifications already under construction and large numbers of colonists were being moved into the area to develop agriculture and other industries. Most of this was only in the beginning stages however, and would require several years of development before seeing significant results.

This had all been accomplished with the utmost secrecy and the initial stages of the expedition had met with great success with no setbacks. There was much at stake and avoiding a conflict with the larger tribes until their defenses were further developed was a necessity. If these tribes formed a horde before preparations were complete, they could potentially drown the expedition in a sea of corpses. This was why Aleks, who had his initial plans disrupted by this turn of events, was not concerned in the least. Although not much information was divulged to Aleks by the Archbishop, he could still glean enough from the orders passed down and from his knowledge of past expeditions. It wasn’t difficult for him to form a new plan from the information that was available to him. In reality, all he needed to do was play one side against the other and since there were two natural enemies to toy with, it made it all the easier for him. He had every intention of exploiting both the expeditionary forces and the Orcs and Barbarians of the Steppes all in order to gain power. Numbers meant very little to him and no matter how many maggots scurried across the Steppes, he would crush them all beneath his feet and their souls would fuel his ascendancy.

Although I can’t spend too much of my personal time on this. This is exactly why I need him.

Aleks was the only one seated on a horse as he looked down at Grobak who was kneeling before him. For Grobak, to kneel to another was the greatest of humiliations. The only exception to this was his master, who he had nothing but worship and respect for that was deeply ingrained within his soul. He felt no humiliation for kneeling before Aleks and instead showed deep reverence for him.

The Orcs and Barbarians here showed no expressions of disdain or ridicule when seeing this, and instead too showed looks of reverence as they also fell to their knees. They all had already been cowed by Aleks’s power and authority. Those who had not been willing to submit to him had already been turned into puppets and marionettes and used against the Northern church’s expeditionary forces. None of them could resist Aleks’s aura and majesty once he chose to release it. Although he wasn’t yet a Demigod, he was at the peak of Legendary and his power could easily crush every soul here.

Behind Aleks and seated on his horse with her arms wrapped around Aleks’s waist was Nelay. She was not so secretly enjoying having her arms around Aleks and gently rubbing her face against his back while Aleks simply ignored her affectionate behavior. She normally kept her emotions withdrawn and showed little to outsiders. In fact, she considered all others to be irrelevant and inconsequential. Only Aleks mattered in her world which often caused Lenia to be filled with extreme jealousy. Even now, Lenia was fuming that she could not accompany Aleks and instead was forced to lead their army further into the Steppes and away from Aleks’s current location.

“Master, everything has been done according to your will. The Human scum will shortly arrive here.”

“Do not forget that I am Human too Grobak.”

“But master, you are different.”

“There are also Human barbarians among your warriors.”

“They are different too.”

“I see. Well, you should change your opinion of other races since soon both Orc and Human as well as those belonging to others will be living together in my future domain. I have no intention to discriminate against those who would serve me.”

“I understand master.”

Aleks nodded and turned his head to look at the several thousand warriors who had all gone to their knees in worship. They stretched far into the distance but not a single one dared stand or even speak due to fear. Aleks seemed as if a god having taken human form. His mask, luxurious robes, and majestic demeanor gave him both an eerie presence and a royal bearing. He was spotless, dignified and eminent. There was only one thing which could mar his image even if just slightly, and that was the woman hugging his waist and rubbing her face on his back with a smug smile.

“The enemy will soon arrive. We have done enough to antagonize them and push them to this point. It is here that we will strike a blow to their hubris and you will make a name for yourself among the tribes. Using this victory, you will head towards the interior of the Steppes and arouse the horde. I will grant you the power necessary to accomplish this, but first I must devour those who are soon to be delivered to us on a platter.”

Grobak bowed his head but he couldn’t hide the toothy smile on his face. There was nothing he loved more than a good slaughter and he was in anticipation for the one to come.

“Will you take part in the battle personally master?”

Aleks chuckled behind his mask. It was a sinister sound and not the least bit mirthful. His laughter only grew, much to the confusion of Grobak and those kneeling before him. He looked the image of an evil and sinister villain.

“I have grown weary of the lies I am forced to perpetuate and the chains I placed on myself. I yearn to be free, to be as I wish. I am a calamity. You shall all bear witness to my power and my will. I will eradicate the enemy down to their very souls. Don’t worry, I will also let you all have your fill.”

Aleks could see Grobak’s smile turning sour at his words and so he assured him towards the end. He didn’t want to take all the joy of killing from them. He would leave them the scraps.

Several miles from where the Northern church expedition made their camp was a large force of Orc and Barbarian warriors who were haphazardly standing in battle lines. It would be too much to call it a formation and instead it was much more like a surprising and chaotic mix of Human Barbarians and their Orc counterparts. In temperament, there wasn’t much of a difference between the two races and they were each as savage as the other, but normally they didn’t get along very well. So, it was strange to see the two different races standing side by side as comrades in arms.

Neither of the two groups knew very much of organized military strategy and were much more accustomed to simple swarm tactics and so there wasn’t any particular rhyme or reason to their formation. Their idea of battle was to have the magic casters, who were shamans, simply cast some of their buffs upon the warriors while the warriors charged into the enemy ranks. There were also a variety of animalistic spells in their repertoire which would also be cast once the initial buffs were completed. These were mostly summoning spells to summon powerful animals like direwolves or large bears. This was the most simplistic means of battle and so they weren’t much of a threat to an organized military. Their strength was usually in their numbers, their fearless nature, and their individual prowess.

The tribal army numbered several thousand and there were both men and women among the warrior’s ranks. These were the strongest members of the tribes in that particular region and those who could not fight had already left the area and went on ahead to escape the conflict. Not every member of a tribe was a warrior and the various tribes in the area were relatively small in number, but since most members of a tribe were warriors there was still a sizeable number of them in the region. However, the majority of those living on the Steppes were located further in the interior and mostly only smaller tribes roamed around the outer regions so their numbers were still limited.

The larger tribes who lived in the interior regions of the Steppes would normally only come this close to the civilized nations when raiding or in large scale conflicts. The expeditionary forces were not planning on coming into conflict with the larger tribes just yet and were only meant to pave the way for future expeditions while slowly whittling away at the strength of the tribes on the Steppes. Their objective was simply to clear out this specific region while establishing a base of operations for future expansion. There was a city with fortifications already under construction and large numbers of colonists were being moved into the area to develop agriculture and other industries. Most of this was only in the beginning stages however, and would require several years of development before seeing significant results.

This had all been accomplished with the utmost secrecy and the initial stages of the expedition had met with great success with no setbacks. There was much at stake and avoiding a conflict with the larger tribes until their defenses were further developed was a necessity. If these tribes formed a horde before preparations were complete, they could potentially drown the expedition in a sea of corpses. This was why Aleks, who had his initial plans disrupted by this turn of events, was not concerned in the least. Although not much information was divulged to Aleks by the Archbishop, he could still glean enough from the orders passed down and from his knowledge of past expeditions. It wasn’t difficult for him to form a new plan from the information that was available to him. In reality, all he needed to do was play one side against the other and since there were two natural enemies to toy with, it made it all the easier for him. He had every intention of exploiting both the expeditionary forces and the Orcs and Barbarians of the Steppes all in order to gain power. Numbers meant very little to him and no matter how many maggots scurried across the Steppes, he would crush them all beneath his feet and their souls would fuel his ascendancy.

Although I can’t spend too much of my personal time on this. This is exactly why I need him.

Aleks was the only one seated on a horse as he looked down at Grobak who was kneeling before him. For Grobak, to kneel to another was the greatest of humiliations. The only exception to this was his master, who he had nothing but worship and respect for that was deeply ingrained within his soul. He felt no humiliation for kneeling before Aleks and instead showed deep reverence for him.

The Orcs and Barbarians here showed no expressions of disdain or ridicule when seeing this, and instead too showed looks of reverence as they also fell to their knees. They all had already been cowed by Aleks’s power and authority. Those who had not been willing to submit to him had already been turned into puppets and marionettes and used against the Northern church’s expeditionary forces. None of them could resist Aleks’s aura and majesty once he chose to release it. Although he wasn’t yet a Demigod, he was at the peak of Legendary and his power could easily crush every soul here.

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Behind Aleks and seated on his horse with her arms wrapped around Aleks’s waist was Nelay. She was not so secretly enjoying having her arms around Aleks and gently rubbing her face against his back while Aleks simply ignored her affectionate behavior. She normally kept her emotions withdrawn and showed little to outsiders. In fact, she considered all others to be irrelevant and inconsequential. Only Aleks mattered in her world which often caused Lenia to be filled with extreme jealousy. Even now, Lenia was fuming that she could not accompany Aleks and instead was forced to lead their army further into the Steppes and away from Aleks’s current location.

“Master, everything has been done according to your will. The Human scum will shortly arrive here.”

“Do not forget that I am Human too Grobak.”

“But master, you are different.”

“There are also Human barbarians among your warriors.”

“They are different too.”

“I see. Well, you should change your opinion of other races since soon both Orc and Human as well as those belonging to others will be living together in my future domain. I have no intention to discriminate against those who would serve me.”

“I understand master.”

Aleks nodded and turned his head to look at the several thousand warriors who had all gone to their knees in worship. They stretched far into the distance but not a single one dared stand or even speak due to fear. Aleks seemed as if a god having taken human form. His mask, luxurious robes, and majestic demeanor gave him both an eerie presence and a royal bearing. He was spotless, dignified and eminent. There was only one thing which could mar his image even if just slightly, and that was the woman hugging his waist and rubbing her face on his back with a smug smile.

“The enemy will soon arrive. We have done enough to antagonize them and push them to this point. It is here that we will strike a blow to their hubris and you will make a name for yourself among the tribes. Using this victory, you will head towards the interior of the Steppes and arouse the horde. I will grant you the power necessary to accomplish this, but first I must devour those who are soon to be delivered to us on a platter.”

Grobak bowed his head but he couldn’t hide the toothy smile on his face. There was nothing he loved more than a good slaughter and he was in anticipation for the one to come.

“Will you take part in the battle personally master?”

Aleks chuckled behind his mask. It was a sinister sound and not the least bit mirthful. His laughter only grew, much to the confusion of Grobak and those kneeling before him. He looked the image of an evil and sinister villain.

“I have grown weary of the lies I am forced to perpetuate and the chains I placed on myself. I yearn to be free, to be as I wish. I am a calamity. You shall all bear witness to my power and my will. I will eradicate the enemy down to their very souls. Don’t worry, I will also let you all have your fill.”

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Aleks could see Grobak’s smile turning sour at his words and so he assured him towards the end. He didn’t want to take all the joy of killing from them. He would leave them the scraps.

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