A Withered Tree Crumbles Easily
When Lorist picked up his sword and said that he would go confront the bandits, the gloomy garrison captain brightened up for a moment, but started worrying right away after that. He believed that even though it was quite impressive that Lorist would exit the town to prevent the massacre of the townsfolk, he felt that the young noble youth didn't understand how serious of a situation this was and the few people in his party was far from enough to take on the bandits who numbered approximately 500.
Not wanting to see Lorist give his life away, he really wanted to stop him from going out. However, thinking of the threat the bandits posed, he couldn't bring himself to do so on the account of the citizens' lives, lest Lorist changed his mind about confronting the bandits. It was, after all, the lives of more than 2000 people.
Seeing the garrison captain's conflicted state of mind, he smiled and consoled him that it wasn't a big deal, and since this incident was partly caused by him in the first place, and given his status as a noble, he wasn't going to back out of this and cause the innocent townsfolk of Fenyata Town to die as a result of his actions.
After a while, Lorist walked over to the town walls with the garrison captain and took a look outside. Much to Lorist's relief, clusters of disorganized bandits could be spotted loitering all over the place wearing armor or beastskin robes. There were even some who wore women's skirts on their shoulders as if they were some kind of cape.
Perhaps due to the fact that there was still some amount of time before the deadline, the messy-haired, savage bandits were still acting relaxed as if they were on a field trip. With three to five of them gathered around different bonfires, some boiled water to make drinks with others could be spotted roasting some food. Some bandits could even be seen lazily staring at the mountains and chatting, occasionally letting out loud bursts of laughter. A few of the more bored bandits even approached the town walls and started cursing while making funny faces towards the town guards, threatening to break into the town once they received their orders.
"What a bunch of rowdy fools..." said Lorist as he sighed. He really wondered how the dominion lord couldn't even handle a useless bunch like this after two attempts, causing him to overestimate the bandits for a moment, thinking that they probably knew an army formation or two that would give him quite a bit of trouble. Their unprepared and lax manner was really a pleasant surprise for Lorist.
"Where's the Wolf of Plate Mountain that you've mentioned? What does he look like?" asked Lorist.
"Milord, look at the group in the middle that has the most people where a goat can be seen being roasted on a bonfire. The one with a bearded, scarred face wearing a silver mail with a blue gown is the Wolf of Plate Mountain. The tens of people by his side are the vice leaders of the bandit group and most of them are at least of the Silver rank," said the garrison captain as he pointed them out to Lorist.
"Reidy, prepare the mounts. Joe, follow behind me later and clear a path for me with your arrows to the bonfire in the middle; we're gonna go for the beast's head first. As long as we can wipe out the Wolf of Plate Mountain and his vice leaders, the remaining bandits will definitely crumble and cease to be a threat. Patt, lead Reidy and Shadekampf to circle the surroundings of the bandit group and take out as many as you can with your crossbows. When we wipe out the leaders, shout out loudly that you will spare anyone who ceases to resist and kill anyone who dares to bar our way!" said Lorist.
The garrison captain almost fainted upon hearing that. There are up to 500 bandits outside! WIth only five people, you actually plan to take out their leaders and even have the audacity to ask the bandits to surrender? Aren't you overestimating yourselves? They're bandits, not sitting ducks...
As the captain was pondering on whether he should give Lorist another warning to discourage him from acting, Lorist turned towards him and asked if he had any javelins that he could use.
Thinking that he probably had some lying around, the garrison captain hastily left and returned with 20 or so of them, all packed up in a sack and given to Lorist. During that time, Lorist and the rest had already finished their preparations and were already on their horses waiting for the town gates to be opened.
Fenyata Town didn't have a moat around the walls nor did it require a drawbridge to cross; the gates of the town opened directly to an open field. Spurring his horse along, Lorist rode straight towards the bandit group with a pike placed on his saddle.
Josk followed slightly behind Lorist and started shooting his arrows from horseback successively, taking out the two bandits who blocked Lorist's path and sending them flying. Within moments, a bloody path lined with corpses seemed to have been paved with Lorist at its forefront heading for the center bonfire.
With the bandit leaders being more than 300 meters from the town gates, they only spotted Lorist and Josk after they had traveled half that distance with thirty to forty bandits dead in their wake from the flurry of arrows. Suddenly startled to alertness, they stood up in preparation for the two incoming attackers.
The scar-faced Wolf of Plate Mountain shouted out in rage as he pointed towards Lorist and Josk, "Onward, my men! Turn these good for nothing twerps into mincemeat right away!"
Apart from a few idiotic bandit leaders who rushed forward with their weapons, the others quickly scrambled for their shields. The threat that Josk and his bow posed to them was very real.
As expected, the few bandit leaders who attacked without a thought had been spotted by Josk. With a flash in his eyes, the green longbow in Josk's hands let out successive thunderous twangs as five green-colored arrow trails appeared in the air with breakneck speeds. The five bandits merely stopped in their tracks and collapsed to the ground in orderly unison.
"Gold ranked..." mumbled the Wolf of Plate Mountain as he quickly drew his sword and awaited his adversaries.
Lorist had already reached within 50 meters of the bonfire with two waves of bandits blocking his way ahead. After he spurred his horse with his boots, his mount let out a loud neigh and rushed forward as if its life depended on it. The pike in Lorist's hands transformed into hundreds of afterimages that surrounded the space around his mount. By the time Lorist rode past the cluster of bandits, 30 or so of them spun around, revealing the numerous blood-spurting cuts and wounds on their throats and torso and fell to their deaths without being able to let out so much as a cry of pain.
Four other bandit leaders ran towards Lorist with their swords in hand that emanated Silver blade glows. Two shield-bearing bandits thrusted their swords towards his mount while protecting their bodies with the other two standing ready in front of him. One of them raised his two-handed sword and jumped upwards with a loud roar while the other leaping over the horse with the tip of his longsword aimed towards Lorist's chest...
Making a light humph, Lorist let the pike in his hands dance left and right and two gut-wrenching sounds of flesh being pierced resounded. The two shield-bearing bandits had their shields pierced right through by Lorist's pike and were crying out in agony as blood gushed out of their bodies. Subsequently, the pike was lifted to meet the two-handed sword, causing it to be parried upward and creating an opening for the pike to find its way to the sword user's body. The bandit who was turned into a kebab and held high in the air grunted and let out his last breath as his eyes turned cloudy.
Lorist then swung the pike down forcefully, causing the body of the dead bandit that was hanging from the tip to be thrown towards the bandit with the longsword. Surprised, the incoming bandit rapidly changed his trajectory only to find the pike digging itself into his throat like a agile python hunting for its prey...
Within such a short time, Lorist had dispatched four bandit leaders before he made his way in front of the Wolf of Plate Mountain.
"How dare you!" screamed the bearded man who had just witnessed four of his own subordinates killed by Lorist. Seething with rage, his hand trembled and three crescent-shaped blades of golden light were unleashed in Lorist's direction.
Without bothering to respond, Lorist waved his pike lightly and knocked away the blades of light and quickly dashed and thrust his pike towards the chest of the Wolf of Plate Mountain. With a smile on his scarred face, the man said with a sly smile, "Just in time..."
Turning his body slightly, he evaded the incoming pike before manifesting a golden blade of light on his sword and swinging it towards the pike's handle. "Little boy... Do you have a death wish?"
Lorist quickly withdrew his pike but it was too late as it had already been cut into two by the bandit leader's sword. The Wolf of Plate Mountain let out a smile and said, "Kiddo, surrender and... What's this?"
The Wolf of Plate mountain was shocked to notice that Lorist was already so close to him and with a sword flash, his head was sent flying through the air. Lorist had taken the opportunity to ride closer to the bandit whose attention had been focused onto the pike and decapitated him with his sword.
"You talk too much..." Lorist finally said.
The surrounding bandits who saw Lorist sweep past and eliminate the five bandit leaders including the Wolf of Plate Mountain within moments all stared wide-eyed in disbelief and stupor.
The sound of the bowstring rang out again followed by the deathly grunts of the three shocked bandits as they fell while clutching the parts where they were hit. The remaining seven to eight bandits snapped out from their astonishment and turned tail to escape.
It was at that moment when Lorist took out the javelin quiver he slung onto the horse's back and tossed them out like spears of lightning, nailing six of the escaping bandits flat to the ground. One of them managed to get onto a horse only to be shot off it by Josk within moments. The last remaining one was a bearded bandit who threw his longsword away and kneeled down to beg for mercy upon seeing Lorist arrive in front of him.
Sigh, we have another Engelich over here... With a swing of his hand, the javelin flew right above the head of the kneeling bandit and nailed another one not far away to the ground who was rushing over and waving his axe just in a raging frenzy. The kneeling bandit breathed out in relief and thought that it was fortunate that he took the chance to prostrate himself before his indomitable foe.
Lorist stopped his horse in front of the kneeling bandit and said coldly, "Get up and quickly get your other comrades to drop their weapons and kneel down to surrender! Otherwise, they will not be spared!"
A seething killing intent could be felt emanating from Lorist at that moment, causing the kneeling bandit to jump in fear and shout towards his comrades. "Drop your weapons! Quick, everyone kneel!"
Another bandit asked curiously, "Brother Oss, why do we have to drop our weapons?"
The bearded bandit walked up to his subordinate and gave him a heavy slap before taking the pike from his hands and throwing it to the ground before he said, "Quick, kneel and drop your weapons! I'm trying to save your sorry lives..."
Another wave of bandits rushed up from behind with the leader screaming out loud, "Ovidis, what the hell are you doing? Have you turned traitor and surrendered to the enemy? My brothers, don't listen to him! Otherwise the boss will never forgive you all... Ah!"
The leader of the group stopped talking and instead made an ear-piercing grunt after being nailed to the ground by Lorist's javelin. Lorist then rushed into the rowdy group with his longsword ready and within but two bouts, almost all of the bandits had been killed with only five to six who were quick to drop their weapons and surrender.
The bearded man said towards the kneeling men, "Didn't I tell you? He truly is a god of slaughter to have killed more than 30 men out of the 40 plus that rushed at him. The boss didn't even last a few bouts against him before dying by his hand. Had I not asked you guys to discard your weapons, you would've ended up like them..."
Lorist rode up to that bearded man and said, "Hey you, take up your weapon and ask someone to collect the head of the Wolf of Plate Mountain and parade it around. Make sure you tell them that anyone who doesn't surrender will be killed without exception."
Having been frightened out of his wits by Lorist, the bearded man nodded respectfully and said, "Yes milord. Your will is my command."
Even though Lorist and Josk started killing off multitudes of bandits incredibly swiftly, the ones that were gathered further away from the central bonfire were unaware of the sorry situation of their comrades and gathered towards where the commotion was being caused. When the bearded bandit put the head of the Wolf of Plate Mountain atop a pike and held it up high to warn the rest of the bandits and ask them to surrender, many of them thought that the boss's death was caused by infighting within the bandit group and even said swayed some of their comrades to avenge their boss.
These blind fools soon became corpses beneath the hooves of Lorist's horse with the remaining ones who managed to escape Lorist's massacre shot to death by Josk. It did not take long until the rest of the bandits were put into perspective, causing almost half of them to discard their weapons and kneel on the ground with a small minority scattering and running away in all directions.
Coming over from afar, Patt, having just broken through to the Silver rank recently, rode on top of his Zeno Horse into the crowd of bandits holding a pike that emanated a silver blade glow and managed to cut the few escaping ones into two halves. Reidy and Shadekampf who were following behind took care of the rest with their crossbows. In the end, only twenty to thirty of them managed to escape into the woods.
At that moment, the gates of Fenyata Town opened up with the garrison captain bringing tens of other garrison soldiers outside to assist in finishing the remaining bandits off after seeing the situation that was far less dangerous than before.
With almost 300 bandits kneeling without making a move on the ground, the bearded bandit leader walked towards Lorist to express his felicitations and asked if he should tie the surrendered bandits up and confiscate their weapons.
Lorist agreed because he felt that it would save him far more trouble should any of the bandits attempt to escape. Upon hearing the response, the bearded bandit called out to ten people from within the crowd to ask them to help out with tying the rest of the bandits up.
Lorist felt that the bearded bandit leader was a pretty interesting fellow and even considered him to be one of his loyal subordinates already. That man also tied up the other bandits in a peculiar way: He first removed the bandits' belts and used them to tie their hands behind their backs so that their pants would fall off should they attempt to run away.
However, some of the bandits were enraged at the bearded man and attempted to resist him, only to be beaten savagely by his subordinates to the point of calling out in vain to their moms. Lorist and Josk felt something was off and asked one of the bandits about it. "What's going on over there? Aren't you a unified group?"
The bandit nervously replied that the men over there weren't his comrades and gave a more comprehensive explanation. Lorist and Josk then understood that while the bandits considered the Wolf of Plate Mountain as their leader, there were actually different factions beneath him. The bearded bandit was called Ovidis and he was the leader of thirty other men. Not wanting to serve the Second Prince during the civil war in the empire, Ovidis led some of his other fellow soldiers to desert the army and secretly made his way to his homeland nearby.
However, he did not get to live in peace for long as the Wolf of Plate Mountain later showed up in the area after a few years and coerced him into serving him through martial prowess and force. Even though several other bandit groups have been united under his leadership, conflicts still existed between the different factions within. Given that the people Ovidis had selected to help him tie up the rest were part of his faction, the bandits from the other factions were naturally not satisfied and even tried to fight back at the risk of their lives.
Patt and the rest brought the tens of other bandits who attempted to escape back and Ovidis quickly had his subordinates tie them up as well. After finishing his tasks, Ovidis asked Lorist if he would like him to lead them to the stronghold of the bandits and mentioned that there was no one else there apart from the elderly, women and children. He also said that the riches the Wolf of Plate Mountain had acquired over the years were accumulated there and that if Lorist didn't take advantage of that, it would only benefit somebody else.
Giving Josk a glance, to which he nodded in response, Lorist said, "Alright then, I'll be troubling you to check that place out for me, Joe. Um, big beard, bring several other men with you as well. Patt, you can tag along if you want to."
Ovidis brought three others with him and instructed the rest of his subordinates to listen to Lorist's orders during his absence before he mounted and went to look for Josk, Patt and Shadekampf before departing for the stronghold. Lorist then ordered Reidy and Ovidis's subordinates to look after the captives while he went over to where the garrison troops of Fenyata Town was.