Chapter 1606 1606. Empty Fort
Aldryth's paltry 500,000 troops had been boosted by an additional force of over a million. This additional force was comprised of both natives and outworlders. They were mostly outworlders and most of these outworlders were the draconian race.
Her army grew to almost two million strong. She should have a fighting chance with this number. The last intel said that Aurebor's army that was stationed in Hyrdurond numbered 1,500,000. The question was what about the Liguritudum army that fled from Palgrost? Did that army return to Liguritudum or move into Hydrurond? Their spies and scouts failed to track this army's movement.
Aldryth did receive reports about ethereal soldiers among the ones that helped Master kill the civilian combatants for his zombie army, so a portion of the Liguritudum army was sure inside Hydrurond. How many were they? She didn't know.
One other uncertain thing was, how big was Master's zombie army at this moment?
She admitted that she had been rushing here due to impulse. Now that she studied her options, it was better to move back a bit and join Jack's force that was on the way. However, the people who had gathered under her would not be happy. They had come from all over the country to her banner with a fiery spirit. If after all that, she gave them the order to retreat. How would they react?
She was the legitimate queen according to the people, but she was not one according to the world system. If she lost the people's trust, she lost what little status she had. Hence, the dilemma.
Zoikod understood her predicament. He offered her an option which was also a gamble.
He suggested that they head to Messephyria and take her rightful throne back. Messephyria was located near the center of the country. Even when the settlements around the capital were in ruins, Messephyria was still untouched. Master had left that place alone to keep the low-ranked draconian soldiers garrisoned inside the capital at sufficient morale, preventing them from deserting.
Master was willing to let go of this country, but he planned to bleed it dry before he relinquished the throne. Hence, he left Messephyria for last.
Aldryth didn't take long to decide. Another transmission report came in from a city. The report said that Master's troops came and searched for combatants. This city was located between Delphoia and where Master's army was last reported to be seen.
"Can they tell for sure how many troops the enemy has?" Aldryth asked.
Zoikod shook his head. "They can't tell."
"What about the outworlders?" Aldryth turned to Arthur.
Arthur shrugged. "All they said is that the enemy's army is massive. They couldn't make an accurate count."
"That doesn't sound encouraging…," Zoikod remarked. "Maybe we should just stay in this city and play defense."
"This city's defensive structure is not that good," Aldryth said. "Whoever sat on the throne has neglected the city's infrastructure. Everything is out of maintenance."
"They must have siphoned all the resources of this country to Liguritudum," Zoikod shook his head with a sad look.
Aldryth took a deep breath. She had decided. "We will take the bet. They are heading to us. We will instead head to Messephyria. That should put some distance between us and them. At the same time, we can shorten the distance between us and King Storm Wind's force."
"What if we can't break through Messephyria's defense? We will get caught in between the capital and the pursuing enemy army," Arthur asked.
"That's why I said it is a gamble. Let's start organizing and leave before the enemy arrives," Aldryth said.
Zoikod nodded. "I will gather everyone. I will also send some squads around this city to make sure there are no enemy scouts. It should buy us more time if the enemy does not know we are leaving."
"In that case, I will join one of these squads," Arthur said. "These old bones prefer the outdoor air than being cooped up inside here."
That night, Aldryth's force left the city under the cover of night. Nobody used a torch. Almost all of them were draconians. Native draconians had better night vision compared to other races except for the vampire race, while draconian outworlders gained a race skill that enhanced their night vision when their age reached the ninth month.
This race skill was called Draconic Eye, rank 1. It gave the owner the passive ability to see better in the dark and also had an active ability to slow down time by a little. It was like the weakened version of Jack's Dragon Eye. At least that was the case when the skill was at its first rank. As draconians aged further, this race skill might gain a higher rank and become more powerful.
There was coincidentally no moon in the sky. It was pitch black. Even if there were enemy scouts, they wouldn't be able to spot this moving army.
Arthur and the squads had made several rounds around the land earlier. They did find several native ethereals, which they killed on the spot even when these ethereals were wearing civilian clothes. They also found some suspicious individuals whom they attacked. They didn't want to take any chances. Some escaped. Arthur and the others chased these people until far away.
Their vigilance bore fruits because Master's side didn't know they had left the city. His army continued to march toward Delphoia.
On the day when Master's army arrived. Delphoia's gate was open. Another white flag was seen above the opened gate.
"Is this again a real one? Or finally, we get an empty fort strategy?" Spring Crown asked.
"You are back to your jovial self," Linda said to Spring Crown.
"What do you mean jovial? I am never jovial," Spring Crown replied.
"Ronald, take people and search!" Master ordered.
"It's too quiet. I don't think they are inside. The last intel said they had amassed quite a force," Linda said.
"Where are the scouts we sent to watch them?" Master asked.
"I stopped receiving transmissions from them some time ago," Linda answered.
"What about you?" Master asked Spring Crown. "I sent you ahead to watch this place. You don't see the army leaving?"
"The city has been quiet since I arrived yesterday. I saw nothing until you all came," Spring Crown answered.
"You didn't meet my scouts?" Linda asked.
"I didn't," Spring Crown lied. Some of the suspicious individuals Arthur chased away were indeed Linda's native scouts. When they fled, they met Spring Crown on the way. They recognized him and reported to him about the increased vigilance around the city.
After finishing listening to their reports, Spring Crown sent them to the afterlife.