Chapter 206 Bloody Battle in the Woods
The witcher-knight army's progress through woods was extremely slow!
If the magic colts were allowed to run at full speed, then covering twenty kilometers in an hour was absolutely no problem. However, if they were allowed to do so, the formation of the thousand-man army would undoubtedly become extremely loose. If they were once again charged by the numerous voodoo beasts patrolling around them, the entire army would instantly be scattered everywhere, turning as loose as sand.
Moreover, the only ones able to hold their own were the seven radiant knights. The witcher-knights were larger in number, but in the eyes of the adepts, they were just moving delicacies. The spellbreaker knights might be able to resist the evil adepts if they worked together. However, they would instantly attract hordes of hungry wolves if they were ever alone.
To ensure the integrity of the army's formation, the radiant knights commanded the witcher-knights to slow down their pace and progress at a speed similar to a stroll through the woods.
All the wildlife in Greenland Forest had disappeared, converted into horrifying voodoo beasts of all sizes by the adepts. Besides that, some magic traps hidden within the woods had also created quite a lot of trouble for the army's progress.
Quicksand traps and gravity traps were the better ones. Fireball traps, acid traps, and noxious cloud traps were lethal for the witcher-knights.
The adepts had absolutely brought their evil intelligence to bear!
The magic traps were all set up on the path that the knights had to pass through, while their activation conditions were weird and varied.
Some of the traps were hidden beneath the ground. Touching a single rock above it would cause a fireball to fly out from beneath. It wasn't too powerful, but it was sufficient to roast a witcher-knight and his colt to ashes. Some traps were set on branches three to four meters above the ground. The moment a dangling vine was brushed, extremely corrosive acid would pour from above.
Some of the activation conditions for noxious cloud traps were even stranger. Once the life forces in its proximity reached a certain number, it would explode with a boom.
Thus, when the witcher-knights bringing up the rear drove their colts by, they would always see several charred black corpses, or some broken bodies whose heads had been corroded full with holes, as well as companions whose bodies had been dyed all sorts of odd colours...
They could only put their dead companions to a side of the road and perform a small prayer before continuing on their way. However, they couldn't simply give up on their companions who were severely injured or poisoned.
With the burden of these sick and wounded the progress of the knights slowed even further.
The shouts of knights scouting ahead of the formation could be heard occasionally. Every time this happened, there would always be some peculiar spell falling from the sky and landing in the formation. It could be a low-grade Magma Fireball, or a cloud of terrifying noxious poison, or a large patch of acid swamp...
Most of the spells would be preemptively triggered by countless runic arrows before they could land. Even if there were spells that made it through the rain of arrows, they would be destroyed by spellbreaker knights and their flame blades. Even though they didn't deal much damage to the knights, the spells kept the knights alert and concerned. As they rode through the forest on their magic colts, they would cast their wary gazes everywhere; from the bushes, to the canopy, to the rocks and pebbles on the ground.
Even the middle of the formation wasn't absolutely safe.
This was because there would occasionally be stealthy voodoo beasts emerging from the dense canopy or the messy piles of rocks along the road. If the knights were not on their guards and got scratched by the voodoo beasts' foul black claws, even the witcher-knights' resilient physiques wouldn't be able to resist the biological poison specially engineered by the adepts for them.
A normal path through the woods less than ten kilometers long took them two hours to walk through. Moreover, casualties outside of combat numbered as many as sixteen. The seven or eight companions who had been poisoned in particular could only be bound to their magic colts, barely keeping pace with the rest of the army.
When the sun was at its highest and noon had come, a new problem arose.
This was an army with no reinforcements. They charged into the forest with no hesitation, and with the absolute resolve not to return before finding the enemy's den. As such, every member of the army had only brought along three days of food and water when they set off.
If this had been a simple adventure, such preparations would've been enough for them to thoroughly search and explore a forest two-hundred square meters large. However, under such savagely endless battles, the drinking water was very evidently running out too quickly, even though food was enough.
What was more terrifying was the fact that they had discovered on their way, to their anger, that almost all the streams and springs that could be used for drinking water had been occupied by undead beings radiating a light yellow, pestilent plague cloud. This meant that all the water sources on the ground had been severely polluted and couldn't be used for drinking anymore!
Humans were not machines. They could not keep up their alertness and high intensity of combat-readiness for long periods of time. Witcher-knights had physiques several times better than that of a normal human, but after five to six hours of cruel battles and a difficult march, their stamina had inevitably fallen to the absolute lowest.
With no other choice, the higher-ups of the knight army set up camp on a high hill and allowed the knights, who had been working for the entire day, to have a safe place to rest. The many spellbreaker knights formed patrolling groups of three to five, walking about the woods nearby to prevent those evil adepts from harassing the army.
The seven radiant knights, on the other hand, gathered in a small temporary camp that had just been set up to discuss their following action plan.
The evil adepts' den was located in this stretch of the Greenland Forest, the southern area of which was nearly two hundred kilometers big. After the bloody investigation earlier, the witcher-knights had used their lives to thoroughly check half of the suspicious locations. Thus, what remained before the seven radiant knights was a large forest nearly a hundred square kilometers in size.
The radiant knights that sat here were all radicals who hated evil with a passion. Otherwise, they would not have been able to tolerate the scattered and gradual investigation method earlier. They wouldn't have unhesitantly charged into the forest in their fit of anger.
According to the original plan, they would ignore the adepts scattered around the outer area of the forest, and have the main army march forcefully into the core of the forest. Then and there, they would set up camp and send their subordinates in every direction. They were confident they would be able to find the enemy's den easily when that happened.
Even if there were casualties, that would be better than sending exceptional spellbreaker knights and squad after squad of elite witcher-knights to be slaughtered at the hands of the enemy, wouldn't it!
One has to point out that in the knights' plane, where the heretics were perpetually suppressed, the image of the spellcasters as weak and cowardly was deeply imprinted in the hearts of the witcher-knights. Even those higher-ups of the knights' army had never thought of the invading adepts as an exceptionally powerful force.
From their perspectives, the adepts were only a bunch of shrewd and treacherous individuals who were good at hiding and setting up ambushes. As long the knights swept through and destroyed their roots with a force like lightning, they would scatter like mice who had lost their den. They would run and hide in fear, no longer capable of putting up any organized resistance!
In truth, these radical knights' simple and violent plan was indeed the quickest and most suitable way of dealing with the invading adepts. However, they overestimated their own prowess, and underestimated the means of the adepts.
If they were able to gather all of their armies, and gathered all the powerful beings of their plane, this plan of absolute simplicity and violence would undoubtedly be the best way forward.
Sadly, all the powerful beings of their plane at Third Grade or above were absent. In addition, the internal conflict had caused the knights' army to split. These two factors severely weakened the combat potential of this army.
Even as this group of radiant knights gathered to discuss their next step forward, the counter-attack from the adepts' base had already arrived.
By evening, hordes of terrifying beasts had already fully surrounded the hill that the knights were resting on. Then, under the command of the evil adepts, wave after wave of voodoo beasts charged into the defensive lines set up by the knights, engaging in a cruel, savage, and bloody battle with them.
It was a large forest. The loose defensive line stretched for nearly two kilometers. The seven radiant knights each led numerous spellbreaker knights and guarded multiple points on their own, stubbornly exterminating waves of frightening voodoo beasts. The hilltop, on the other hand, had been turned into a temporary infirmary. The witcher-knights who were severely injured and could no longer fight were sent here, awaiting treatment.
Due to the lack of necessary means of treatment, the only method available to the witcher-knights acting as medical personnel was slicing off the rotting or dead muscles with daggers and washing the wounds with large amounts of water before bandaging them.
This method of treatment might be effective for normal external wounds. However, most of the injured knights in the infirmary had been attacked by voodoo beasts, who had claws contaminated with plagues and viruses. Before the plagues and poison within the knights' bodies were dispelled, not only would their wounds not heal, they would even worsen and rot as time passed.
This was only because the witcher-knights all had tough and resilient bodies. If it had been a normal human warrior, all the blood in their body would have coagulated and their flesh would have rotted, ending in death. It was only the witcher-knights that were still able to stubbornly resist against the effects of the plagues and viruses. But this, in another sense, also extended the time they had to suffer and struggle!
The attack of the voodoo beasts lasted from the evening until the the sky darkened!
The attack lasted for four hours. Nearly ten thousand voodoo beasts fell on the frontlines of the battle, while the active combat forces of the knights' army went from the initial seven-hundred people to barely four-hundred people left. With the help of their courageous steeds and powerful runic equipment, the witcher-knights may have suffered severe losses, but the number of actual deaths were very few.
After four hours of continuous battle, 87 witcher-knights had lost their lives, but the number of knights that lost the ability to continue fighting due to attacks from the voodoo beasts numbered as high as 235 men. Even those knights that continued keeping guard outside carried several wounds. They just had not suffered wounds grievous enough to cripple them.
Ten thousand voodoo beasts were dead, and most of them were slain by the seven radiant knights. Moreover, in the first hour of the battle, every sharp and fearsome Crescent Moon Slash that blasted forth would carve a path of blood through the voodoo beasts, causing the number of beast deaths to skyrocket.
An hour of continuous hacking and slashing, along with the occasional activation of savage knight battle techniques into areas where the voodoo beasts were most densely gathered- such intense battles were tough, even for radiant knights.
They would let out a terrifying Crescent Moon Slash every three to five minutes at the start of the battle. After fighting for a little while, they could only activate a Crescent Moon Slash every fifteen or thirty minutes. By the end of the fight they were completely exhausted and could no longer use their ferocious knight battle techniques. They could only chop at the voodoo beasts with their powerful strength and tough bodies, much like any other witcher-knight.
The numbers of the voodoo beasts were not countless!
In the month's time before this, the adepts had captured all the wild beasts and magical creatures in this stretch of forest, modifying them into voodoo beasts. Yet just today, more than seventy to eighty percent of the voodoo beasts had lost their lives before this witcher-knight army that numbered less than a thousand.
However, the result of this battle was extremely glorious, for... it was nightfall!