Wuxiaworld > Release that Witch > Chapter 743: The Desert Mission

Chapter 743: The Desert Mission

Chapter 743: The Desert Mission
Translator: TransN Editor: TransN

Even with his eyes closed, Iron Axe could still smell the unique odor of the yellow sands around him.

Today was the fourth day since he had entered the desert and the third week since his army had left Neverwinter. After the end of this week, two-thirds of the winter season would have passed and the coldest period, mid-winter, would start. However, unlike the snowy Western Region, the Months of Demons had less influence here, leaving the area almost untouched. Although the sky maintained a shade of oppressive gray, there was at least no piercing northerly wind and icy snow that could freeze the whole desert.

As Silver Stream did not converge with any other rivers and flowed mainly underground, the army had no choice but to make its way on foot. Rather than following the original plan, which was to wait for the 500 new recruits who were stationed in the Palisade City to be ready and then incorporating them into the army to move together, Iron Axe decided to leave those recruits to Brian and marched alone so that he could reach Iron Sand City faster.

Recruits might perform well during on-the-spot firing, but they would not be able to survive a journey of continuous marching on foot. Moreover, the situation would barely be improved even with the addition of 500 people.

He understood very well that His Majesty's mission could not be accomplished by cannon attack or aggression. The First Army would be there to ensure victory, but it would not be the means to conquer the Sand Nation.

Mojins had a set of traditional solutions.

As for the 500 recruits, all they needed to do was seize Silver Stream Oasis to ensure that the frontline troops would not be flanked.

In the Southernmost Region, an oasis was a lifeline. Whether people intended to attack or flee, they could not live without an oasis.

The tribal people of the Sand Nation could feel the formidable vigor coming from the veteran soldiers who were marching orderly on the road even without witnessing the power of the flintlocks. No one dared to walk up and question the soldiers coming from Graycastle but just whispered behind them after they had filled their water packs, got fed, and set out again.

Iron Axe estimated that, at this rate, the First Army should be able to reach Iron Sand City before nightfall.

"I'm a little confused. Can one initiate the so-called holy duel at any time in any season?" A beautiful blonde woman walked toward Echo and her fine skin was in sharp contrast to that of the princess of the Osha clan. "Even noblemen could refuse the honor challenge between themselves if they were unwell. On such a cold day, everyone would want to stay near a warm stove the entire day instead of going out and fighting, right? I mean... what should we do if someone refuses the request for a holy duel?"

Iron Axe remembered the lady's name was Andrea, a combat witch who often followed Princess Tilly. As His Majesty once said, there ought to be just one Extraordinary, Ashes, to help them, but somehow Andrea ended up joining the campaign as well.

"No matter how unwilling you are, you have to fight when someone picks up an axe, rushes into your house, and kicks your stove." Ashes curled her lip. "Do you think this contest which, to some extent, determines the life and death of a clan will follow the hypocritical rules of the nobility?"

"That's called a sneak attack or a massacre, not a duel," Andrea said disdainfully, "even though Mojins are barbarians, they're still able to distinguish between the two. Do you think that everyone is as ignorant as you?"

"I can see you really are a 'well-learned person' by saying that in front of Echo."

"Stop misinterpreting my words!"

Iron Axe was not bothered about being called a barbarian as he knew that people in Border Town were not judged by their identities. This was something His Majesty had told him personally. Other than being a Mojin, he had a more important identity and that was being a resident of Neverwinter.

Iron Axe did not respond to the dispute between Ashes and Andrea until he received Echo's gaze calling for help. He cleared his throat and explained voluntarily. "Lady Andrea's concern was not misplaced. Certainly, the holy duel can't be refused and must be done when both opponents are well prepared to earn the approval from the Three Gods. But it doesn't mean that the duel can be initiated at any time by anyone's will. The first requirement for the duel is that the challenger must be qualified to fight."

"What kind of qualifications are needed?"

"First of all, it must be an entire Mojin clan," Iron Axe said briefly, "One person can't represent a clan and this rule applies to even a chief or a princess. This rule is to prevent a situation where a dozen people occupy one-sixth of Iron Sand City. In addition, the rule also excludes foreigners. Iron Sand City allows foreigners to fight for the clans but excludes them from the central power positions."

"Does that mean that we are not eligible at all?" Ashes raised her eyebrow. "It has been years since Echo was exiled and the Osha clan has disappeared long ago. Or should we start by looking for her surviving clansmen?"

"No one is able to survive Endless Cape," Iron Axe said as he shook his head, "but we can use another method. For example, making Lady Silvermoon the chief of a new clan is allowed."

"Is this... possible?" Andrea was surprised.

"Mojins don't value bloodlines like you people do. They value one's ability more than lineage." The commander-in-chief of the First Army said calmly, "After satisfying the first criterion, any clan that is able to stand their ground in one of the small oases around the Iron Sand City qualifies for the duel. There are a total of four small oases that newly rising clans always fight in and that's why these four oases are also called the bloodstained place."

"They are like admission tickets, right?" Ashes did not take it seriously.

"You could say that. In fact, these clans generally fall into two categories," Iron Axe paused, "challenger... and watchdog."

"Watchdog?" The blonde witch's curiosity was piqued.

"These are the obstacles set by the top clans who are unwilling to see the order in Iron Sand City change too much." Echo was the one who replied this time. "They rely on their huge resources and influence to recruit a large number of warriors to form a mixed clan that has its roots in the small oases. Watchdogs won't seek a holy duel with their owners, yet they occupy the positions of the challenger. Despite not being allowed to enter Iron Sand City, they live quite well relying on the water and food supplied by the small oases."

"They sound like hounds that are willing to eat leftovers." Ashes sneered. "That is a very appropriate name."

"As the holy duel is full of variables, the big clans would try to rope in or bribe the potential challengers stationed in the bloodstained place. My father was reluctant to be a watchdog so he was determined to initiate a holy duel with Iron Whip clan, yet he ended up with..." Echo's voice became despondent as she was reminded of her distressing past.

"They'll pay for their insidious behavior that year, Lady Silvermoon." Iron Axe comforted her. "Death is coming for them now."

"So we need to find a challenger first, whose chief will be replaced by Echo, before we challenge the six big clans?" Andrea asked.

"Once people start to settle down, they'll lose their motivation to go forward. One who has occupied a small oasis and doesn't challenge others immediately will very likely become a new watchdog. After that, it won't be easy to overpower him by words or by force," Iron Axe said slowly, "since we are under the king's order and carrying thunder and grace with us, there is no need to do it in such an inconvenient way. Any humble clan will become unstoppable with the First Army backing it up. We will just crush anyone who dares to stand in His Majesty's way."