Book 7 – Fleeting Glory
Book 7, Chapter 62
Horns of War
“How would you like a chance to become a complete being?” the broodmother suddenly asked Zangru.
The demigod fell silent for a while, contemplating something before giving his answer, “What do I need to do?”
“Become one of the Eternal Warriors of the Night. Fuse with Asura; it will become a part of your body, and I will complete your soul. That will rid you of your life as a bastard demigod, but your contract with Master will still be in effect. At the same time, you will become one of my own subordinates and my commands will supercede even his.”
“So what’s different?” Zangru shrugged, “I’ve wanted to give up this damned life for a long time.”
“Are you certain? You will lose your immortality.”
A bitter smile crawled upon his face, “Immortality? What is that even worth? A long life is just more misery; I got my chance to kill everyone in that bastard’s harem, my goals in life are complete. I would have killed myself if this damned body let me; even that saint of rot under Raymond didn’t have much effect. I ended up having to escape because I realised he would be left with no choice but to keep me alive.”
“I can kill you whenever I want,” the broodmother said casually.
Zangru jumped in shock for a moment, “Ah, no! I haven’t lived this new life long enough yet. I think Asura suits me well!”
He knew just how treacherous the broodmother was. If he took her words to be true, she would just burn his mind and keep his body alive to draw blood from everyday. The true torture came from the fact that his body considered pain to be pleasure; he didn’t want such a life.
However, he didn’t expect an actual laugh coming from her, “Well, I won’t be drawing any more blood from you. I have enough in store.”
“Hmm? Didn’t you want to create more of these half-demigods?”
“I have enough for now, I will not have to rely on them too much in the future. I am more eager for the Eternal Warriors of the Night.”
“But that needs complete souls, it’s an enormous amount of divinity. Those two other demigods you ate won’t be enough, how will you get the rest?”
“That is my problem to worry about,” she dismissed.
Zangru then raised his head to look towards the sky as well, “Broodmother… Are you lonely?”
“Do you think that is even possible?” she replied icily.
“Heh, freedom and loneliness are two sides of a coin. Sometimes… being bound to someone is just better. Whatever, I think that Asura thing suits me quite well. Remember to use all your divinity, don’t be stingy!”
“… I will not give you a single additional unit.”
“So you won’t give me less than I’m worth? Hahahaha—GLUG!” his voice was interrupted by a thick tendril.
“Master, I am ready to advance. I will need about a month,” the broodmother’s voice rang in Richard’s mind.
Still lying in bed in his laboratory, so tired he was barely even awake, Richard sprang up to his feet, “That fast?”
Ever since she had hit level 5, her advancements had taken progressively longer for each level. Getting to level 9 took her more than a year, so an important watershed like level 10 taking only a month was strange.
“I am well prepared now,” she answered, pausing for a moment before continuing, “It is also because of the… gift you gave me.”
The last part of that had been said in a strange tone, especially the word gift, but this didn’t register in Richard’s heart. He got up and put on his robes, pulling the covers over Rosie before pacing back and forth. After a dozen rounds, he finally stopped and made up his mind, “That’s good. Give me all the data on your troops; we’ll be going to war once you’re done.”
“Your army is prepared,” she answered, sending a deluge of information before he could even finish nodding.
Richard walked to the laboratory window and gazed at the city in the afternoon, looking up at the beautiful red clouds that were lined by the sun’s gold. He tapped gently on the window, muttering to himself before sending out an order in his mind, “Everyone commanding 3,000 troops or greater is to return to Bluewater at once. I’m giving you a month.”
The order quickly reached the cloned brains, who started transmitting it to the ends of the Crimson Dukedom. In only a few moments, his voice resounded throughout Faelor from the Iron Triangle Empire’s borders to the south of the Land of Turmoil. All of Richard’s territory knew at once that he was going to war.
Far away in a barracks on the borders of the Iron Triangle Empire, Gangdor was drinking with a large number of officers. Having just lost a guessing game, he cursed in jest as he poured a huge cup to the brim and lifted it up. Just as he was about to drop it all into his mouth, however, he suddenly froze up and let some of the liquid spill onto his bared chest.
The officers sensed something amiss and fell silent immediately, staring at the commander they loved. While the mysterious Andrieka was by far the most successful general of the Crimson Dukedom outside of the war god himself, Gangdor was the one who commanded loyalty.
A mysterious smile appeared on the brute’s face as he stood up abruptly, emptying all of the liquor into his mouth before smashing the empty cup onto the table with full force, “It’s about damn time! Get ready for war, brothers! Actual war!”
It took a moment for the words to register, but a cacophony of cheers quickly filled the barracks. Wine flew everywhere while some of the boorish men started wrestling, everyone roused for battle. Everyone started picking up entire barrels of ale to empty; they wouldn’t be able to drink themselves stupid during the war.
These men hadn’t fought seriously in a year and a half. They had tried repeatedly to provoke the Iron Triangle Empire at first, and did have some success getting into minor skirmishes, but these always ended quickly and without any satisfying end. Under orders to not go more than fifty kilometres into the Iron Triangle borders, with clarification that they couldn’t spend much time even within that limit, they couldn’t give chase. Richard had decided that he would let the Empire play smart for a while as he focused on business elsewhere, most importantly the barbarian plains where a lot of divinity could be found.
Of course, Gangdor was never one to challenge orders from Richard himself. Raymond had tried to use the Andrieka identity to make some changes at times, but the two had butted heads and in the end Gangdor was the one with the authority. That had led to the situation where the Crimson Army garrison here had nothing to do. Gangdor himself could only watch on as Kellac, Zendrall, and the rest made regular trips deep into the barbarian plains and defeated powerful enemies. For someone who loved battles, this patience was extremely rare.
As the generals were venting, the brute suddenly raised a hand to quiet them down and smiled mysteriously once more, “His Grace has returned!”
““His Grace has returned!”” These generals were trusted aides, most of them having started as free Archerons. They knew exactly what Richard’s return to Faelor meant, and that the Dukedom would be expanding very quickly in the near future.
Gangdor raised his voice again, “Stay put and guard this place for me, watch those weasels like hawks! His Grace just summoned me, I need to go back. Nobody’s attacking without permission, got it? Hahaha, my axe is feeling… Eh…”
Looking at his enormous axe, Gangdor snorted strangely and returned to his command tent and sat down, “I’m a big commander now, I have to maintain my image! Which of you is good with a blade? Come, get me bald! Make it so shiny that people can see their reflections!”
“I’ll do it!”
“I’m an old man, I won’t get this chance in the future!”
“You’re just an archer, you bastard! Go away!”
The officers grew rowdy one again, rushing over all at once. In the end, each of them took a turn with the razor to do something so honourable, cutting tiny sections at a time. Eventually, a fat man covered his large hands with grease and started kneading Gangdor’s bald head. The group was only satisfied once each of them had a chance to appreciate their reflection.