Translator, Editor and Proofread: theunfetteredsalmon
Shortly after the An-Ra vanguard took the victory that night and rapidly retreated, they lured not only the main force of the Nanar brigade, they also lured the detachment deployed to stop them initially. They carefully swept through the remnants of the battlefield, making sure not to leave any remaining enemies.
When the Nanar brigade rushed to battle the An-Ra vanguard alongside their initial routed men, they ploughed the dunes upon which Amon’s garrison was situated. Once they had made sure all their enemies had left, the Hittites rebuilt the line of defence and remained vigilant, deploying scouts nearby.
Amon and Metatro disappeared during the initial rest in the middle of the night. They hadn’t left the vanguard yet at that time, but nobody knew where they were going. When the darkness retreated, only Hardedef and Idu were left to lead. That afternoon, dozens of miles away in the desert, in a secluded and remote spot, two small spots of sand suddenly rose on the flat ground between a large dune.
The sand was rising from the ground and the drifting sand on the surface continued to fall off the peak. Then, two people appeared. This scene was very strange, similar to the scene when Amon first met the Scorpion King, except the movement altogether was much smaller. This time, there was very little magic interference. The two men who emerged from the sand were Amon and Metatro.
Since the two spent most of the day lurking and moving under the sand for dozens of miles, they avoided all Hittite patrols. They were both wearing odd-looking, dark and unreflective scales. Not even a grain of sand was stuck on their body. Metatro looked around and chuckled. “This scorpion shell is amazing. It can protect not only against fire and water, but it also allows us to move under the sand. Lynk’s crafting skill is good. It’s unfortunate we could only make two pieces.”
They were wearing body armour made with shells from the scorpions they encountered in the desert. Amon helped Lynk create the first piece while they were still in the tribe’s cave-home atop the mountain. After Amon departed, Lynk made a second piece independently. When Metatro escorted Aesop to the new Duc, Lynk gave the second piece to Metatro. That day, the artefacts came into great use.
Amon patted his piece of armour and said, “It is a good thing, but the materials are not easy to gather. I collected so many scorpion shells, yet after creating these two pieces, we do not have enough to make another one. Although the armour is good, their usefulness still depends on their owner. Only supreme warriors who have gone through the second awakening ritual and mastered advanced magic can make full use of it.”
Metatro smiled. “I’m not a supreme warrior yet, but this armour is just right for me. My God Amon taught me the habits of practice, which have certainly helped with my ability to use it. Even though we’ve been sneaking under the sand for a long time, I don’t feel that tired. The lasting use of my magic power feels just right.”
Amon glanced at Metatro. “You may not be a supreme warrior, but I reckon many supreme warriors are not your match at all. You should always be careful in doing things, but you should always be confident, never cowardly.”
“Of course!” Metatro agreed brightly. “Otherwise, how would I dare to follow my God Amon on this trip? What shall we do now? Shall we find the camp belonging to the King of Hittite?”
Amon looked at the sky, then looked ahead. He shook his head and said, “The grassland is just ahead. We are not far from the mountains and jungles. We are also unable to sneak under the sand any further. If someone flies over the sky, they would most certainly see us.”
“We can make use of stealth magic. We are used to it anyway.” Metatro followed Amon’s glance.
Amon shook his head again. “Our habit of constantly using magic is a very good thing. It is an amazing way to exercise our magic power, but the things we are trying to do now are extremely dangerous. We must ensure that we have enough energy and strength. We have been drilling in the sand underneath the desert for half the day and can no longer continue using magic power meaninglessly. Moreover, it would be impossible to stay concealed on the road while maintaining stealth magic. Any clever mage would still find us. Put on the scaled cloak, we’ll lurk in the swamp.”
They carried not only the armour made of scorpion shells, but they also had scaled cloaks made of the scales of the two-headed serpent. The scales are naturally imbued with magic, so they could be used to sneak in water or the swamp while keeping the mud away. Users were also required to have mastery of advanced magic. Metatro replied bitterly, “We just emerged from the sand and now we’re going underneath the mud?”
Amon smiled at him. “Don’t think about the glamour of face, or else you will suffer. Now is not the time to act. We must wait for Idu and Hardedef to lure the main force of the Nanar brigade away. I hope the battalion will hold their ground against them at camp.”
The two men quietly walked out of the desert onto the grassland. The scorpion shells weakly reflected the sunshine, but they turned into the colour of the environment like a chameleon. The shape of the two men also blurred. It was difficult to distinguish them from the environment, especially from afar. Instead of heading straight for King Lucier’s camp, they made a great circle eastward, leading themselves to the edge of the swamp. They changed their outerwear out for the scaled cloaks and disappeared quietly and quickly into the soft grass and mud.
King Lucier was in a bad mood that day. Following the advice of his Minister of State Juguli, he left his standard in the Enlil brigade but stayed absent from the army. It was a rare thing for a king to lead the front himself, but he was very comfortable riding and hunting every day. This was exactly what he wanted.
However, such a long time with no happening or action will inevitably become boring. He heard that the front of the Hittite army had won a great victory, but that Golier and the others were reluctant to launch a general offensive to capture the Pharoah. King Lucier was anxiously waiting for news of any further development in the situation.
Early one morning, an urgent report was delivered, stating that the An-Ra legion of Ejypt had sent a force to break through the defence line in a mad rush of desperation, charging towards the hinterland of Syah. Despite their distance from the main battles, there were heavy military blockades between them and the main army. However, the guards still advised the king to be cautious and to withdraw into the city.
Lucier was unhappy at the news, but he said calmly, “This time, I’m on a personal expedition. Should I flee at any sight or clue of enemy action from so far away? Is the Nanar brigade a useless army, a heap of waste that would be unable to stop something like this? A small, insignificant enemy and you feel you are unable to protect me? Is the country wasting funds on the brigade?”
At that point, Lucier was suffocating. Not only did he refuse to evacuate, but he also did not even bother changing the location of his camp. His army was certainly not a waste. Soon afterwards, the enemy had been repulsed. They fled in a hurry after sustaining severe casualties in an assault. The Head of the Nanar brigade led the army to clean up, driving the remnants of the enemy back to their camp before sieging it.
The next day, the official battle report came. The Nanar brigade had defended successfully against the enemy’s attacks and surrounded their official camp, followed by a fierce assault. The An-Ra legion had shrunk in defence and did not dare put a foot outside of their camp. Lord Orbene led his main force to crush the enemy army, ending with nearly a difference of two thousand in numbers. This was a great victory for the brigade. The An-Ra army no longer had any fighting power. They could only defend their camp and linger.
Orbene’s report was very interesting. It was written as though his brigade achieved victory every part of the way. First, he chased the An-Ra vanguard and slaughtered most of them before routing the remnants. Then, he supposedly attacked his opponents and beat them until they were tired. The number of two thousand was also exaggerated. All official troops of the An-Ra army only numbered around five thousand. If the logistics teams, servants and civil workers were included, the number could reach around twenty thousand.
However, the report was written as such as Orbene knew what the King wanted to hear.
Lucier found his mood had improved after reading the report. Although it was clear that Orbene may have exaggerated certain details, at least it provided a sense of security regarding the defence and more importantly, his safety. He was even proud of his own calm decision from the day before. Then, His Majesty the King took his guards out hunting in the jungle near the edge of the swamp before returning in the evening to have a bonfire party in his camp.
The king’s camp was natural and elegant in style. He lived in the most grandiose tent of animal skin. In front of the tent was a courtyard surrounded by curtains. In this courtyard, he barbecued and drank and lived lavishly. King Lucier would reward his followers with indulgence whenever he felt like it; especially when he was in a good mood.
That night, at the edge of the swamp nearest to the king’s camp, two men dressed in dark brown snake scales came out from beneath the mud. The mud slid off of them silently and smoothly as if it had never touched anything else. These two men were the most familiar with the terrain in the surrounding area. Amon and Metatro would have spent a lot of time in making the most detailed investigations through countless dangerous obstacles.
The two men spent a full day and a half, taking a large detour circling the swamp, to avoid patrols, then quietly snuck into a position nearest to the Hittite king’s camp. In the last part of the journey, both Amon and Metatro took extra precaution to snorkel in the swamp very carefully. Even the monsters that lurk under the mud were unaware of the two men.
When they finally came ashore, they walked onto dry land in the jungle, took off the scaled cloak and put on the armour of scorpion shells, which was stronger. Amon was expecting an unpredictable battle that night. Then they did an equipment check and inventory count. Amon was holding his iron stick, his favourite weapon. He took out a wind shuttle as well as several magic scrolls and handed them to Metatro.
“When I asked you to come with me, of course, I was also asking you to take a risk,” Amon whispered. “But it won’t be meaningless. In case the plan goes awry, you need to use the scrolls to cover yourself and escape on the shuttle. You cannot go south, so you must fly north into the swamp to Lynk.”
Metatro didn’t carry his staff. Instead, he had a strange-looking sword with him. The sword had an exceptionally long handle for a bladed weapon, measuring almost half the length of the entire object. It looked like a short blade attached to the end of a stick. The ends of the hilt were also inland with parangons, though they were not visible. This was a weapon Amon had found earlier on in the cave Bair was in. It was very suitable for assisting magic. It was natural for Metatro to wield it as he would use it to its fullest capabilities.
Both men also wore a short knife on their waists, which were made of the sharp fangs belonging to the two-headed serpent. Metatro took the wind shuttle and the scrolls. “I will be careful, but I will never run away if I do not have to. Amon, your task is far more difficult and riskier than mine, but I firmly believe that you can capture the King of Hittite alive.”