“Is this their plan from the beginning?” Andromeda asked as Bloodbane sat back, giving her more room to look.
Bloodbane had only left enough of a space open so they could glance through and receive a bit of light from the torches down below. It would be impossible for the goblins below to notice them at this height. Even so, he made sure to minimize the size of the hole just in case.
He thought carefully about Andromeda’s question but ultimately shook his head. “I don’t believe these guys are related to the ones currently mounting the assault on Reliant.”
After Olympus fell, the god Cronus decided to wage war on man. He had many generals, but Bloodbane had concluded, or rather his predecessor Shinka Haru had concluded that they weren’t fighting on a unified front. Had the armies under Cronus been completely under his control and working solely toward his interest, then this war wouldn’t have lasted for decades. Each one of his generals sought their glory, and not only may they not know each other’s plans, but they might be openly hostile if the occasion called for it. This was only a theory though, and Bloodbane would need to put it to the test at some point. If it was true, though, it might be a powerful weapon Bloodbane could use to achieve victory.
“What do you mean? They are heading right for us!” Andromeda whispered, looking up from the hole.
“They are digging for another purpose,” Bloodbane predicted. “It’s only incidental that they may stumble into Reliant. The enemy is not completely united. There is more than one general. I don’t believe the necromancer general who is leading that army of the undead has any relation to these goblins. Did you see a single undead among them?”
Andromeda looked through the hole once again. “No, they appear to all be living goblins.”
“I don’t know what general they follow or for what purpose he has them making such a route, but based on the angle, I believe they aren’t heading straight for Reliant, but under it. They will break out into our catacombs though, and once they realize where they are, it could be catastrophic for Reliant. The city would be unrecoverable.”
Reliant was barely scraping by as it was. If they ended up having to face off against two generals at once, even Bloodbane didn’t see a method they could survive. Plus, with such a hole in their defenses, it didn’t seem like they would be able to recover.
“What do we do then, Master?” Andromeda asked.
Bloodbane considered his options carefully. He would normally describe himself as a person of action. It wasn’t in his nature to carefully weigh his actions. Rather, there was only one action, and that was to attack. Strategies were thrown out the door the second the coliseum doors opened, and it was the most adaptable that survived. However, the more Bloodbane accessed the memories of Shinka Haru, the more he felt himself becoming a balance between the two men.
He had the other man’s former intelligence, but as brilliant as that man had been, he had lacked initiative, experience, and guts. These were things the gladiator Bloodbane did not lack at all. Shinka Haru would have been thrown into a panic over such a revelation, but Bloodbane didn’t feel worried at all. Rather, he merely recalculated his plans. After only a few breaths, he had already made the necessary decision.
“We’re going to take them out.”
“Master, while your assertiveness makes me wet, there is at least an entire battalion down there. That is a thousand troops. Even if we fetch the others, such a battle is outside of our ability. I suggest we go back to Reliant and bring a company of soldiers.”
“No…” Bloodbane shook his head, ignoring the hungry way she was looking at him. “We can’t afford to waste that much time. We’re going to take them down now.”
She bit her lip. “Then, please allow me to fight. Master should survive, or no one will know what is coming.”
“You don’t need to be so melodramatic.” Bloodbane rolled his eyes. “I don’t intend to die here. Rather, you’re thinking too hard about this.”
“They are digging a tunnel underground. This always assumes a certain level of risk.” Bloodbane explained calmly. “For example, there is a high likelihood that a cave-in could happen. Such an event would be devastating for a battalion such as them.”
Andromeda wasn’t a fool. Her eyes brightened as soon as Bloodbane mentioned the cave-in. However, there was still a bit of doubt creasing her brow.
“If they lose a battalion, won’t we upset this general and force them into action against Reliant?”
“That’s assuming that anyone realizes we were the ones who set up the cave-in.” Bloodbane continued to explain. “If there are no survivors, or at least the only survivors only know that the cave before them collapsed, then the generals would be none-the-wiser. They’d just have to assume it was poor luck. With my abilities, I can target fault lines and make the cave-in look convincing even for an expert.”
Andromeda nodded, but she still asked another question. “Won’t he just dig it out again?”
Bloodbane wasn’t annoyed by her questioning. He understood that Andromeda only asked the questions for his benefit. It was better to articulate reasoning. When things were spoken out loud, holes you previously couldn’t see would be exposed. It was better to ask these questions now than to worry about these things after an action had already been taken. It was true that a soldier should be able to take orders unquestioning in the heat of battle, but only a fool would refuse to explain their actions to their subordinates, or refuse to consider other possibilities.
“It looks to me like these goblins have been at it for a few weeks if not a month. If I do this right, they’ll need to redo the entire dig from scratch. That’s a lot of lost effort.” Bloodbane spoke quietly. “However, it wouldn’t just be the time lost, but the soldiers too. Even though this general likely controls many battalions, they wouldn’t be very comfortable losing so many at once. Sending another battalion in could mean losing another leg of his army, all for no gain. It could be possible the mountain they are digging under just isn’t very stable, and he would need to consider that risk before committing another wave of resources. Finally, at their current rate, they’ll be breaching Reliant within a week. If they are forced to start over, this could give us a few months before we worry about them. That will be all the time we need to-”
Andromeda stopped me by placing a finger on my lips. “It’s clear Master has thought this through. Thank you for explaining. Intellect can be just as arousing as bravado.”
Bloodbane frowned slightly. He had a feeling that it didn’t matter what he offered. Any attribute he gave would become arousing to Andromeda. He started to become aware of the tight space they were in. Bloodbane had dug down deep into the earth, and as he went the ground behind him collapsed. They were effectively buried alive, trapped in a coffin just big enough for the two of them. Andromeda was pressed up against him, and the coolness of the underground had been replaced by heat.
Heat rose, and they were at the very top of the cavern filled with hard-working goblins, large fires, and even forges where broken pickaxes were being mended on the spot only to be used once again. Suffice it to say, both of them were dirty and sweaty and pressed against each other. Andromeda’s so-called arousal had seemed to give off waves of pheromones. Being aware of this didn’t stop certain parts of Bloodbane from stiffening.
“Master…” Andromeda panted, looking at him with flushed cheeks and eyes that did not attempt to hide her desire.
Their previous night together swam in the back of Bloodbane’s mind. One might think that the long night where he had unleashed all of his desires on her would have exhausted the woman and left her reluctant, but such a thing had only seemed to awaken Andromeda’s womanhood. Bloodbane hadn’t noticed it before, but she gave off a more womanly charm now. It was the charm of a woman who knew a man’s touch and longed for more. Bloodbane wanted to give it, but time was still the top priority.
“We need to get moving.” Bloodbane summoned his willpower and declared. “We’ll be making our way across and then down to their level. I’ll be able to weaken the supports from there.”
There was a flash of disappointment on Andromeda’s face, but she quickly covered it. “As my Master commands.”
Bloodbane waved his hand and closed the small eyehole, and then started to dig horizontally, essentially traveling a path across the roof of the cave system under them. Bloodbane had incredible senses when it came to the ground, and thus he was able to determine that the majority of the cave system below them was naturally occurring. While the goblins had been boring a hole through the mountain, they had lucked out in finding such a system, cutting down their time. This was why Bloodbane was confident that a collapse was believable since it depended on the untested stability of the cave. He was also confident that with the cave collapsed, they wouldn’t be able to make this level of progress again so quickly.
The pair went back to crawling in a line, with Andromeda directly behind Bloodbane. It was far easier for him to create a hole just his size, and given Andromeda’s much smaller physique, she could easily slide through a hole big enough for him to move through. Even so, she showed incredible resilience and bravery. The analogy to a coffin wasn’t an exaggeration. Andromeda was crawling through dirt and rock in the pitch black, her trust completely in Bloodbane’s ability to keep the rock from collapsing on her and leaving her in a living grave. Bloodbane at least had his ability to fall back on. He could sense the outer walls. To her, it was just an endless dark abyss.
As Bloodbane reached the end of the ceiling and started heading down, things became a little bit trickier. Bloodbane ended up going down head first, crawling at a 60-degree angle toward the ground. Andromeda should have slid right on top of him, but she showed her skill once by bracing the sides of the wall and lowering herself down without disturbing him at all.
When Bloodbane finally reached level with the goblins, he let out a breath and started opening up the area around him. He created a small pocket hidden within the wall, but much larger than the small coffin-like space from before. There was enough room to stand and stretch in. To do it, he had to compress the wall behind him. Thankfully, the gravel was loose and there was also an air pocket he was able to disturb so that he didn’t have to do anything the goblins would notice. As he had his arms out, a small form suddenly fell into his arms.
Andromeda had dropped from the hole above, landing princess style in his arms as if she had planned it from the beginning. However, there was still no light in the room, and Andromeda was completely blind, so there was no way she could have done that, right?
“Master, what shall we do next?” Andromeda asked.
Her voice contained flirtatiousness that made the question sound like potentially something more. Bloodbane had already gotten passed his brief loss of control though, and no longer hesitated as he put her down. He still gave her ass a slap though, causing her to yelp slightly.
“If you continue to tempt me, I’ll tie you up again,” Bloodbane spoke in a low voice.
“M-master… haaah…” Andromeda’s voice shook with excitement, but Bloodbane put a finger on her lips, quieting her this time.
“And… I’ll bang Maid Two and Maid Three in front of you.” He finished.
Without being able to see her face it was hard to grasp what that noise meant, but didn’t it sound a bit… orgasmic?
“Andromeda?” Bloodbane wondered if he’d need to say more.
“Andromeda will… behave…” Her voice was shaking slightly, and it sounded oddly ecstatic.
Did Andromeda have such a perversion as to want to see Bloodbane with other women? He had thought it’d be a cruel enough punishment to get her to stay in line. Instead, it seemed to have pushed her passed the limit. A distinct odor emanated from her that reminded Bloodbane of the night before. Could she have climaxed with just a few words? He decided that as long as she would behave from now on, he’d just ignore this matter.
Bloodbane went to the wall and touched it while leaving Andromeda to shiver in the dark with her ruined panties. After a few seconds of sensing the Earth around him, he gave a nod.
“There are three more points I’ll need to weaken properly before I can trigger the collapse I want to achieve,” Bloodbane explained. “It would take too much time to climb back up and try to reach those points without being seen. It’ll be better if we just avoid being seen.”
“Goblins aren’t known for good sight, but their smell and hearing are incredible,” Andromeda explained. “That’s why they have so much light.”
Bloodbane nodded. “That is good to know. In that case, we’ll need to cover ourselves with mud.”
“The only reason they haven’t heard us so far is because of the echoes of the cavern and the sound of their pickaxes make all sound impossible. However, they’ll be able to smell humans, especially you.”
Andromeda blushed, but she knew it was true. Goblins were especially sensitive to female pheromones. They would smell out human women from miles away, and they wouldn’t hesitate to gang rape them to death. Too many women had died brutal deaths that way. Andromeda had almost been one of them. She wasn’t looking to experience it again.
At the moment, the stone wall was hiding their human scent, but as soon as he opened a hole, their scent would leak out and quickly bring goblins. It was a major dilemma.
“I’m sorry, Master.” If he could have seen Andromeda, she would have looked sufficiently chastised.
She had forcefully tagged along and even allowed herself to get worked up and create more smells. She had turned into a liability for the entire mission.
“Don’t apologize, just smear this over your body. Don’t be stingy. There is plenty more.” Bloodbane had grabbed her hand and dropped a hunk of cold wet stuff into her hand.
The gunk was smooth but malleable. It would spread with about the same consistency as butter, but it was also rather cold. Without being able to see it, the dollop felt disgusting.
“What is it?” Andromeda couldn’t help but ask.
“As I said, it’s mud. There is a nearby water vein. I pulled out deposits of carbon, activated it, mixed with clay and water, and there we have a scent blocker.” Bloodbane explained while already covering his body in mud.
Since he had awoken Earthly Manipulation, there was little that could disgust Bloodbane concerning mud. If anything, it felt somewhat comforting, and with a thought, he could cause it all to fall off him. Perhaps, when he returned and had a moment to spare, he might try to have a mud bath. Andromeda was far more reluctant, but she still covered her body in the muck. It was her fault that all of this was necessary, so the least she could do is help.
When the pair were finally covered and the only smell in either of their nostrils was the wet smell of dirt and clay, Bloodbane put his hand on the wall again. Andromeda waited, knowing not to disturb Bloodbane when he was conjuring. He waited for several moments, and when the time he was waiting for was reached, Bloodbane pushed aside the rock and created a doorway as easily as opening a doorway.
They were immediately blinded by the light of the cavern, but they had both been prepared for it. Keeping low, the pair tiptoed out of their safe space. Bloodbane waved his hand and closed the exit. At the moment, there were no goblins nearby within seeing distance, although they could vividly hear the sounds of their guttural voices in the distance, joined by the sound of pickaxes.
Bloodbane knew where he was going far better than Andromeda, so she only followed as he crossed the cavern, hiding behind rock after rock. He seemed to have an otherworldly awareness of the goblins, and would always seem to grab Andromeda and duck in hiding just before a new group appeared. Once, when there was no rock, he had created one from the ground. The goblins, being somewhat simple-minded, didn’t seem to notice the sudden appearance of a new rock, and they marched by it without question.
When Bloodbane reached the next spot, he put his hand on the wall while Andromeda watched his back. It only took about thirty seconds, and then he gave a nod, ready to move on to the next spot. The pair worked this way, moving from spot to spot. Presumably, these were the spots that once weakened by Bloodbane, would lead to a total collapse of the cave, swallowing up all of the goblins in the process.
Bloodbane held up his finger. It was too dangerous to talk out there, less a goblin hear them speaking their language, so they had been using hand signs instead. Bloodbane had told her they were on the last one. However, before he could start weakening it, he had to grab Andromeda and hide in a small crack in the wall. This brought the pair of them pressing against each other tightly in a standing position. This was the closest they had been together since the coffin room in the ceiling. Andromeda didn’t dare act flirtatious though, as she could hear the goblins racing by. They seemed to be moving in a hurry, almost at a run.
A group standing nearby as guards noticed the running goblins and immediately blocked their path. As luck would have it, this occurred only a few feet away from Bloodbane and Andromeda’s hiding spot.
“We’re going so fast?” The goblin demanded.
The goblin was speaking in goblin tongue. For one of a few rare instances, Bloodbane was glad his former self was such a bookworm. He had even learned several of the demi-human languages. In business, it was always important to know the languages of your competition, or you could be taken advantage of. Thus, he had learned goblin, demon, and draconic… although he hadn’t mastered draconic.
“Not here? Humans captured. Have women. Want to have fun.”
“No fun! Kobalos say dig!”
“Go back to dig!” The soldiers branded their weapons threateningly, and the miners had no choice but to turn back, although they looked angry and reluctant.
Once the miners were out of sight, the two guards looked at each other, grinned, and then started down the hallway in the direction the miners had been running.
“What did they say?” Andromeda asked.
There were humans in the cave. They might be the very Reliant citizens he had been coming to recover. Either way, by his estimate, they’d be in the direct path of the cave in.
“It looks like we’re going to have a change of plans,” Bloodbane answered.