Eloise tried objecting Moira from accompanying them, but the woman had an iron will, completely unflinching. On top of this, she was one of the 'wife' of her Master, so what she could do was limited. The final nail in the coffin was when Thomas promised to look after her. Eloise had no choice but to admit defeat afterwards.
It took the small army a day to arrive to Albanel's outskirts. Their trip had been perilous, with beasts much more ferocious than Eloise had anticipated. She had thought that they would have been intimidated by their numbers, but it evidently had to opposite effect. Luckily for them, their training came in full effect, and they only suffered light injuries, with no casualty.
"Set up camp!"
It was the middle of the night, and they didn't have much of a visual on the village ahead, which was why Eloise decided on setting up camp in the forest. They couldn't be discovered, or the possibility of an ambush increased exponentially. The monster's behavior was definitely an observation she would have to share with Derrick.
The soldiers didn't complain, and they pitched down their tents, ready to pass a rough night. People were designated to guard the perimeter, ready to sound the alarm if anything happened.
However, the night went peacefully, without anyone getting disturbed. The forest truly was a mysterious place…
Eloise had woken up early, ready to launch the assault on the village. She ordered everyone to pack and summoned them for a final meeting.
"I know you've experienced a bit of adversity so far, but we're here now. It's the chance we've been given to get our comrades back from the savages who took them from us… If they resist, show no mercy. Remember that it could be one of you in there"
A gasp ran through the ranks, understanding what she conveyed. This wasn't a mere declaration. She was telling them that no matter what, she would do the same for them.
The previously lethargic atmosphere suddenly changed, and it suddenly got livelier, with soldiers getting more rowdy. This was why they had initially joined the army. To serve and protect those around them.
Eloise saw their spirits rise, and seized the momentum.
"It's time to go forward!"
Their simultaneous movement made the earth beneath them shake, and their movements were the preludes to something that had never happened in the region's history…
The guard, who broke his mad dash, could barely talk, with the air having trouble reaching his lungs. The person's state honestly disgusted the ruler.
"Why the fuck are you disturbing me? Can't you see I'm having fun with our guests?"
The whip in his hand tore the air around it before resoundingly striking an enchained and bloodied man, who had lost consciousness a while ago. His back was lacerated to the point of reaching bones, exposing the horrors it had been subjected to.
The guard cackled while regulating his breathing, unmoved by the scene in front of him. It wasn't the first time he had seen these gory situations when addressing his Lord.
"My Lord, some of our patrols have disappeared, and we think they are invaders. We haven't assessed their numbers yet"
The man stopped whipping and looked at the soldier, smiling.
"Hmm… It seems like these visitors weren't lying when they said that reinforcements would come if they went missing… Send the troops and intercept them. I want them alive…"
The scrawny man's mouth curled upwards in an evil motion, sending chills through the soldier's spine.
"As you wish, my Lord"
"Don't let up the formation! We can't allow ourselves to be picked off one by one"
Atta was shouting and relaying Eloise's orders, which were always acknowledged by the running soldiers. This wasn't a drill anymore, and failure wasn't an option.
Meanwhile, Eloise was standing on an erected platform, with Thomas and Moira by her side. From that vantage point, she could supervise the movements of the village, which had remained calm so far. It was also out of their vision, which was important for their plan.
She had to say that her first impression of it was good. It had decent fortifications and even watch towers had been roughly built. Its size was also close to what had been reported, so they didn't have any nasty surprises.
However, she knew they weren't dumb and had most-likely noticed that some of their patrols had disappeared. Of course, those were being interrogated right now…
"General, we have a report!"
A soldier arrived next to the stage, covered in sweat. From the armor he was wearing and his state, he had run from the front line to here.
"Yes. We have noticed a resurgence in activity in the village. The guess is that they are preparing themselves to apprehend us"
"Fantastic, they are starting to move. Go report that everyone needs to be ready for plan A"
The soldier saluted once again before running back to where he came from.
Thomas had a small grin on his face, and he couldn't wait to jump back into a fight. His last defeat to Derrick had honestly left him a sour taste.
Moira, on the other hand, started fidgeting when she heard the report. She remembered her feeling of powerlessness and how her comrades sacrificed themselves to save her, in vain. She truly hoped this battle would pan out well.
"Scower the surroundings! Don't let a single fucker get away"
Albanel's commander kept barking orders, with his spit flying everywhere. The man was tall, fat and hideous. His face had gigantic moles, his teeth were yellow and crooked, and his nose was wide and long… He was clearly someone that hadn't been blessed at birth...
"Where are they…"
His look was filled with ill intent and bloodlust, scaring everyone that looked in his direction. It had been too long since he had faced a challenge in this shithole. The reason why he had been exiled from the Empire was because he mistreated the soldiers that were under him, to the point where some died of exhaustion or from their severe injuries.
The soldiers scattered on Albanel's perimeter and started looking, but couldn't find anything, even after a few minutes.
"Sir, are we sure that our patrols weren't attacked by monsters from the forest? We haven't found any traces of intruders"
"Are you doubting our Lord?! STOP FUCKING AROUND AND FIND THEM"
The soldiers almost shrieked before going back to his squad. He had already risked asking a question, and he was lucky to even get out of there without being punished.
"WHAT THE AHHHHHHHHHH"
Multiple cries broke simultaneously, attracting the attention of all the soldiers present. However, once their eyes reached their destination, the blood in their bodies froze.
A titan had suddenly appeared at the boundaries of the forest, and it was reducing soldiers into meat paste. Its aura was suffocating and overbearing, revealing its nefarious intentions. The titan finished the five soldiers around it before scanning its surroundings and stopping on the commander, who was still in a daze.
"What the fuck is this?!"
The ugly man had never seen such brute strength, but it appeared too late to back out. It was either it, or him.
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