Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
“Just one man.”
Without looking, Joshua knew the reason that caused the carriage to stop simply by observing the vibrations quaking vehicle, the scents in the air, as well as the shift in temperature. Someone had struck the drake pulling the lead carriage, the powerful force knocking the beast cold temporarily.
Most drakes used to pull carriages were of mixed descent from horned stone dragons and three-horned dragons. After the many races on the Mycroft Continent filtered the species’ bloodlines across thousands of years, this draconic species of mixed ancestry was virtually a new race. They usually grew above ten meters tall along with robust bodies, strong stamina, and docile temperaments. Their huge sizes and thick shells also kept them fearless against the ambushes of ordinary daemons.
Drakes also possessed capabilities exceeding many natural original world dragons, and powerful nations tend to use drake knights as vanguards. However, in the past life, the many tame drakes had devolved back to their wild instincts, causing severe damage after they went berserk since they mostly lived around cities.
After that, no faction dared to nurture drakeseven draconic caravans had largely decreased.
Nonetheless, Joshua had developed the vaccine against the mad dragon plague in this life, which in turn made the implications plague far less serious, so much so that drakes remained an essential creature of the multiracial Mycroft Continent.
This particular draconic caravan known as White Sprout also grew their drake into full maturity, with their scales and size alone possessing perfect Silver-tier ability. Any human who could knock it unconscious with one strike was definitely an intermediate Gold-tier individual.
Slapping the dust off his sleeves, the slightly baffled Joshua stood up and prepared to go out and take a look. He had already noticed the man who stood by the road, but never thought that he would attack the caravans.
“Intermediate Gold, trying to rob caravans What could they be thinking?”
It should be noted that intermediate Gold-tier characters were essentially military leaders. For such existence to rob merchants was to have a local garrison commander resorting to banditryit was simply inconceivable.
Nonetheless, Joshua quickly realized their intent.
It was winter, the guardsmen and the owners of the merchant group were wearing thick trench coatsincluding Joshua himself. The warrior was also too lazy to change his appearance with magic, and simply wore a mouthpiece along with a hooded robe.
The man who stood before the unconscious drake was facing off against the guards. He dressed crudely, his upper body covered with a short black leather armor and two cutlasses hanging beside his hips, while his neck was adorned with a necklace, filled with animal teeth of different sizes. Above a rough scarred face, his forehead was tattooed with a bear’s head, a symbol of his identitya barbarian warrior.
The merchants’ guards stood against the barbarian warrior dutifully albeit also fearfully, but it was clear that a person who could strike a drake unconscious was not someone they could handle.
The owner of the merchant group was now trying to negotiate with the barbarian, willing to pay him gold and part of his cargo in exchange for his guild’s safety. Most robbers would not deliberately murder their victims as long as they were paidthere was no point in getting themselves in wanted lists thanks to intentional murder after all.
Despite that, the barbarian warrior only shook his head silently, completely unwilling to have a discussion. He then promptly turned and stared at Joshua who was walking towards them, and his green eyes instantly became heated.
An exchange of glances, and the warrior quickly understood.
He’s here for me.
Joshua frowned, because that was even more unusual. If it were an assassin sent by the Pentashade Dragons as well as the cult after learning that he was traveling alone, they would assuredly be of Supreme-pinnacle strengthin other words, the equivalent of mobilizing several high priests. Everyone would have been aware of the truth after his fight at the Sacred Mountain, no number of Gold-tier individuals could withstand his full power.
Just one intermediate Gold-tier man It was almost an insult. Joshua’s heart was unmoved; he even wanted to laugh.
However, reality was not what he expected.
Not only did the barbarian not attack after seeing Joshua, he even knelt on one knee to give the warrior a respectful traditional salute of the barbarians.
“Please give me a chance to challenge you!” The man then exclaimed passionately with a rather unrefined common tongue.
Everyone including the warrior and the entire merchant guild stared blankly for a while. The guild mastera gray-haired middle-aged manas well as all his sentries then turned to glance at Joshua once, before quickly shifting their gazes to their toes, afraid of looking into his eyes.
Though the middle-aged man knew that the guest who concealed his own face and gave others an extraordinary sense of fear was definitely not your run-of-the-mill character, he never thought that a barbarian warrior would also revere him to such extent. Having no idea of what he should do right then, he could only move away alongside his guards to one side and open up some space for the two men.
Joshua, too, was unsure what to say at the moment.
“You want to challenge me?” He asked as he slowly walked forward, gesturing with his hands for the merchants to keep taking a few steps back while staring at the barbarian with a glint of humor. “You’re certain you know who I am?”
“Yes, my liege!” The man replied sonorously, his tone almost fanatical. “I came exactly because I know who you are, and waited here especially for you!”
“Well, I guess it’s fine”
Peeking sideways at the jittery merchant guild around them that also included quite a few women and children, Joshua remained doubtful, but knew that it was not the time to ask questions.
“Not here,” he said, shaking his head. “Let’s go to the forest beside us.”
With those words, the warrior’s silhouette vanished. Beside himself with excitement, the warrior quickly rose and transformed into a black gale as he dashed in the forest on their right.
After almost a minute, two figures appeared at the center of an ordinary forest between the borders of Moldova and Moldavia.
Lowering his hood, Joshua studied the barbarian warrior who remained utterly thrilled and did not have the slightest change in his expression. Clearly, the man knew the warrior’s identity, but was prudent enough to not let it slip in front of the merchants.
He then asked directly, “How did you know I was on this carriage heading for Moldova?”
“The name’s Lando, I’m here from Kurwa Swamp, southwest of the Continent.” The barbarian’s attitude became even more well-mannered after Joshua revealed his face. Pulling his cutlasses and stabbing them into the snow to show that he meant no malice, the barbarian known as Lando declared loudly, “My liege, I’ve been honored to witness your fighting stance on the Sacred Mountain”
Due to his impediment at the common tongue, Joshua could only get a gist of his meaning.
Still, he understood, and therefore let out a long sigh.
The barbarian warrior before him was, in a certain point of view, his follower.
Most life in the Distant South tend to be devotees of the Seven Gods thanks to their proximity to the Sacred Mountain, and the barbarians of the Kurwa Swamp were no exception. As one of the most powerful warriors in the settlement, Lando had answered the summons to defend the holy mountain from the berserker dragons early on.
There, he witnessed Joshua’s series of combat on the Sacred Mountain.
As men who worshipped power, the barbarians were instantly captivated by the warrior’s show of force. Thus, no elaboration on what happened next was neededfilled with enthusiasm, Lando left for the North, prepared to chase the champion of his heart.
It was also thanks to a coincidence that he learned of Joshua’s schedule. When he arrived at the main town of Moldavia he chanced upon the warrior embarking on the dragon caravan towards Moldova. Even if Joshua did hold back his presence and strength, the barbarian warrior could easily differentiate the scents between different people.
Hence, he gave chase after the caravan’s tracks, going ahead when the carriages stopped to rest for a while so that he could stop the convoy and challenge Joshua.
Most barbarian customs were simple. Before becoming a follower of a certain individual, one must challenge said person in full-power, which was why Lando wanted to experience Joshua’s ability firsthand now.
“Quite the straightforward personality” Joshua sighed, staring tightly at the other man who had already picked up his cutlasses and raring to go.
“I accept your challenge,” he said seriously. “But you’re too weak.”
“It does not matter, my liege!”
Lando brandished the twin blades, the two steel-gray weapons cutting through the air and leaving a red streakfluorescence formed from accelerated friction between steel and air. The ear-piercing hum even shook stagnated snow off trees within several hundred meters.
“Please use your full strength!” The barbarian said eagerly, all his body muscles tightening.
The warrior blinked and clenched his fist.
Far away, the White Sprout merchant guild had revived the drake and was prepared to leave hurriedly suddenly heard a tremendous racket.
The sound was so incredible that thunders would not compare. It spread easily across the forests several kilometers away, with no sign of fading.
Every manner of beasts that had hidden within the woods to await the passing of winter was jolted awake, before fleeing their lairs in panic. Through it all, formless ripples flowed across all directions, felling the snow atop pine trees.
In no time at all, all the frost was shaken off starting from the heart of the forest. Green returned to the white land in a perfectly round shape.
When Lando regained consciousness, he saw Joshua sitting beside a bonfire cooking a few boar legs.
The skin was already yellow and oil oozed out under the flames. Joshua then seasoned it, and the aroma wafted around the vicinity immediately.
Without looking around, Joshua knew that the barbarian had come to, and said tonelessly, “Your weapons are beneath the tree to the left.”
At that, Lando looked towards the left with his stiff and unbelievably sore neck. The cutlasses were indeed there, and so the barbarian rose to salute the warrior reverently before dragging his about-to-scatter body and retrieve his weapons.
Compared to his previous zeal, Lando’s attitude had cooled considerably. His gaze towards Joshua was still one of worship, but there was now an element of irrepressible fear.
It was naturalnobody would not feel fear after being sent to the brink of death with a single punch.
Still, Joshua did not care that much or had the time to mind what Lando thought. The barbarian before him may be an admirer, but he remained the chief culprit who disturbed his vacation. In the few hours Lando was lying unconscious, the warrior had already come up with a way to deal with him.
“You are ultimately a Gold-intermediate.”
Picking one pierced boar leg at random and throwing it to the other man, Joshua asked calmly, “Are you sure you want to be my follower? Why?”
In his pre-existence, many had joined the warrior’s clan thanks to his reputation and ability, but this was the first time it happened in this life. Though barbarians were genuinely fellows who would develop admiration over a person’s power, Lando’s decision appeared to have been made too lightly however one looked at it, which was why Joshua wanted to know.
“That’s for certain, my liege.”
Accepting the grilled meat, the barbarian still did not feel anything was out of the ordinary with his thinking. “As to whyfollowing the powerful is a matter of course,” he said boisterously. “Plus, you’re such a powerful dragon slayer I want to learn the way of dragon slaying from you!”
As he chewed through the meat, Lando began to explain his reasoning. All along, Kurwa Swamp had been a habitat for the barbarians of the Distant South. Their population had to be counted in units of a hundred in that vast region, with Lando himself staying with one of the more powerful tribes.
The swamp barbarians did not interact with the outside world much. They lived by domesticating zergs and all manner of curious creatures. While Lando’s life with the tribe was not exactly affluent, it was peaceful, but the Draconic Plague that engulfed the mainland of the Distant South was unexpected.
There were several powerful black dragons that lived within Kurwa, living harmoniously with the tribes and never disturbing the other. Some barbarian tribes even gave them offerings, but when the draconic plague came the dragons reverted to their instinctual self. They came, catching the swamp barbarians off guard late into the night, killing millions of women and children.
Lando’s family was mostly safe, but his younger sister lost both her feet. Furthermore, if not for a Seven Gods priest who hurried to the scene and exorcised the negative energy off the girl, her survival would not have been guaranteed.
Having said that, the expression of the barbarian with black hair and green eyes became ferocious. The huge tattoo on his forehead too started to emit a soft red light, but his mood soon calmed. Leveling his gaze at Joshua, he used a tranquil tone and spoke reverently to the warrior.
“My ability has reached a bottleneck. It’s very difficult to reach the pinnacle of Gold and fight against those adult giant dragons which is why I want to be your follower, to acquire your guidance.
“My liege, I have watched your entire battle against giant dragons, it is my wish to learn that way of combat.”
After those words, he put down his meat, and knelt with both knees to the ground while offering his twin blades to Joshua.
To hand one’s weapon to another was a ritual where barbarians present their loyalty.
“Thirsting for power, desiring vengeance, thus intending to follow me.”
Joshua rose slowly and walked to Lando, crisply taking the cutlasses from his hands and putting it backa gesture showing that he acknowledged Lando’s status as a follower.
“Not a bad way thought. At least you’re honest.” He chuckled shortly.
Lando was in a state of euphoria having being acknowledged so quickly. His expression showed irrepressible excitement, but he did not dare to exclaim loudly in Joshua’s presence.
His simple acknowledgment notwithstanding, there were quite a few reasons as to why Joshua would acknowledge Lando as a follower.
One of them was the barbarian’s own ability. Even for a Gold-intermediate barbarian whose cultivation stagnated temporarily, he was still formidable. He may even be able to charge into Supreme when the Dark Tide come. With Joshua guidance, his ability could continue to grow as well.
Apart from that, Winter Fort Academy was also lacking a few teachers for combat courses. Nostradamus had always intended for the institution itself to become a comprehensive occupational academy and not just a mage academy.
Although the archmage could recruit other mages easily, Nostradamus found it hard to look for knights, warriors or even knights-errant with considerable ability. With Lando himself who came knocking on their door, the trouble was solved to the hilt.
“To be frank, I have a special reason to come on this tripyou shouldn’t be following me.”
Briskly picking up a stone from the ground, the warrior grasped it, and a black-red aura started to surge in his hand. When Joshua opened his palm, that plain and ordinary gray stone had become a black-red sphere that spread an outlandish but dangerous scent.
The warrior then passed it to Lando and said, “This rock is imbued with my aura. Take it and head for Winter Fort Academy near the Snowy Mountains of Nissia, someone will handle your accommodation. I’ll come to give some pointers about your ability when I’ve solved my business here.”
Utterly delighted, the barbarian gulped a mouthful of saliva and carefully accepted the ball and placed it within his bosom. Even if he did live in a huge swamp, Lando was not stupid and could naturally tell Joshua’s meaning. As such, as if afraid that the warrior would change his mind, he quickly sheathed both cutlasses back to his hip and took his leave resolutely.
Watching as Lando vanished into the thicket, Joshua remained where he sat before starting to touch his own chin after some time.
“Curious Going for a stroll and meeting a Gold champion who wants to meet me on his own accord,” the warrior mumbled to himself. “Even if Ogner did give me powers of fortune that contains slight divinity, should it be at such levels?”
Then, Joshua muttered to himself, frowning.
“Could my Charm have recovered?”
Shaking his head, the warrior decided to abandon the guessing game that was not all that amusing.
He had already arrived at Moldova. The business with Lando was just an interludewhat he needed to do now was to find out information about cultists, and head for Mount Mordus to visit Brandon and his wife.
Meanwhile, on Mount Mordus at Moldova.
A handsome swordsman with glinting blond hair held a report in his hand with a grim expression.
“It this information true?” He frowned at the ranger who had delivered the news. “Is it certain that it’s not just rumors spread by the cultists?”
“Of course not, Lord Kaos,” the ranger said in an urgent voice. He looked worn out by the weathersnowflakes covered his hair and eyebrows. “My brothers had seen the sight with their own eyes Withering forests, plants turning to dust, all life being stolen”
Gulping, the ranger exclaimed with a slightly fearful voice, “‘Herlas the Witherer’ has really come to the North!”