Salwyn promptly gathered his generals and ordered for the army to march at full speed. They would reach the borders and then attack immediately; even if there was only one person left at the end of the battle, they would make it thirty kilometres into the Crimson Dukedom!
The black-winged hawk made its way out of the clouds, watching the army speed up in a gambit to reach the borders. Screeching loudly, it spread its wings and quickly disappeared into the horizon, reaching a cloned brain near the border within an hour. The brain hovered in place as it transmitted the message to the rest of the network.
Moments later, all sorts of birds took off towards the Iron Triangle Empire like a cloud of black, spreading out just as they reached Salwyn’s army to monitor everything within dozens of kilometres. No movements would go unnoticed.
Salwyn looked up at the skies and smirked, his generals following his gaze. If the first hawk was strange, then the rest were blatant. One of the generals grew dejected, “Are all of these from the Crimson Dukedom?”
“They’re Richard’s eyes,” he answered dully.
“Really? Then how are we supposed to fight this battle?”
“We rush! We’re much closer to the borders than Bluewater, there’s no way for him to make it in time!” Having said this, Salwyn waved for the army to go faster, darting towards the Crimson Dukedom in a straight line.
A while later, news of Salwyn’s route was transmitted to Richard. When he marked the route on the map, Gangdor, Zendrall, and Kellac frowned immediately. Salwyn’s army would reach the border within twenty hours, which was barely enough time to gather 5,000 soldiers from the surrounding regions; how were they to block off ten times their number?
Richard’s troops at the border were battle-hardened, but few of them were shadowspears or even humanoids. With such a huge disparity in numbers, the border troops were unlikely to even delay. Without enough drones to work as a mesh in the system, even he himself could barely overcome three-to-one odds.
Standing in front of the map, he eventually drew a cross on the map. That was where Salwyn would enter the Crimson Dukedom, and where he would have to mount his defence. The followers watching him didn’t know that a series of orders had just been transferred to the broodmother through dozens of cloned brains, her prepared soldiers heading to their positions as quickly as possible. The 500 men at the potential point of incursion immediately started working on extending the defences as best they could.
Nearly a thousand flying creatures flew out of a worm nest in the Land of Turmoil, spreading out in a giant semi-circle as they flew towards the Iron Triangle Empie. By the time they reached the borders, these drones, would occupy the entire 1,000-kilometre line and serve as advance warning in case another troop tried to head in. Behind them were a dozen or so cloned brains, prepared to transmit information as quickly as necessary.
Two other nests opened up entirely, humanoid knights surging out from within like a flood. Each one found their own mounts and assembled into regiments of a thousand, charging to the borders under the lead of a cloned brain. Two warehouses were already set up in the interim, holding equipment from Norland. 15,000 fully-armed soldiers would thus meet with Richard’s main force within the Empire.
Richard’s own soldiers had been assembled long ago. With a decade of development behind it, the Crimson Dukedom had a population of more than ten million; with most of these residents having moved in from the outside, the number of strong, young men was quite large. The entire Dukedom could easily mobilise an army of more than 500,000 strong, but Richard only pulled on a fi
While this army was frightening, even the light cavalry would take three days to intercept Salwyn if they hurried. The few thousand Richard could gather at the border couldn’t hold on that long. Salwyn had given up on all tactics to just march at full speed, making this a race for time. This was the only weak point in Richard’s plan.
At least, that was how others saw it. Richard smirked as he turned to his followers, “The war’s already begun. You guys have two hours to return and organise your equipment.”
“We’re ready right now, Master. There’s no need to wait!” Tiramisu chipped in. While he could cover the distance with time to spare, regular saints and grand mages couldn’t fly continuously for that long.
Richard chuckled, “Don’t worry, we’re going to fly.”
Two hours later, all of his followers had gathered at the plaza. Besides his followers, Richard had also summoned a hundred rune knights and an equal number of level 10 mages. An enormous shadow suddenly covered the square, the astral chrysalis flying over to land slowly. Already used to it, some of the followers got on its back while others allowed it to wrap its tendrils around them. The mages got on as well.
As the chrysalis took flight towards the borders, several dozen similar creatures that were smaller than it flew over to the square. These were a new type of drone based on the astral chrysalis; without much offensive strength, their only use was in flying troops over long distances. Being cheaper to produce offset the issues of them being half the size and being able to transport a tenth as many supplies, and with one of them able to transport five rune knights with full supplies that still left an entire thirty free to transport 300 shadowspears to the battlefield.
The flying chrysalides quickly formed up and flew north, joined by a number of windsnakes that acted as protectors. Gathering a large group of other flying units along the way, the eventually became a black cloud zooming across the sky. The scene was rather awe-inspiring.
Richard himself was starting to reconsider the standard methods of war. The broodmother could only create one of these flying chrysalides in a day and they were very fragile on the battlefield, but they revolutionised military movements. He hadn’t gotten her to create many of them, but they were still already proving their worth. If he could get to 200 of them, then he could send a thousand rune knights or 2,000 elite shadowspears in one go. This was enough to change the outcome of any battlefield, and the same flying chrysalides could allow armies to march much deeper into enemy territory without worrying about supplies. Although these things could only fly a hundred kilometres at a time before needing some rest, he could place an elite army anywhere within 1,500 kilometres in three days’ time!