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Earthly Manipulation has increased to level 8.

You have unlocked the skill, “Summon Earth.”

After working for hours using his mana unceasingly, Bloodbane’s skill had gone up once again. This time, he had an ability that he much appreciated. It allowed him to summon earth. In his prior fights, he had been using Shape Earth to create spikes and move things. This ultimately forced him to redirect the existing earth to other parts. For example, the divot that kept the door from falling open forced him to move material from another part of the door. Part of the reason he took so long was that he worried about damaging the stability of the door.

Now, he had Summon Earth. He could pull Earth from a distant spot, like the mountains behind him, and then manipulate that. It’d be far faster, and it seemed like an easy way to lock the inner-city gate. All he’d need to do is dump a mountain of dirt at the entrance, and his enemies would be effectively blocked. He was now confident that he could reclaim the city, just with that single new ability.

Bloodbane hadn’t moved from his spot, but slowly over the night, the girls had added sides to afford him some privacy and prevent prying eyes from seeing what he was building. There was a single entrance into the tent now, and the maids had made a perimeter around it. Only Andromeda remained inside the tent attending him. She sat the side, saying nothing as he worked.

He had started to make his weapon. To do so, he had to call on one of the five on the list. A young soldier appeared. In general, he looked extremely weak and unimpressive. He was one of Kait’s men, but he was a private, both nervous and jittery. It was the maids who had fetched him. He had been busy, but the maids didn’t care about such things when they had orders from Andromeda. They dragged him over regardless.

“You called me, m-my lord?” He asked nervously being pushed through the front flap of the tent.

“I’ve been told that you have a certain ability. You can create electricity. Is this true?”

“Electricity, sir?”

“Ah… lightning. Sparks?”

“Ah, yes! I can create some sparks.” He lifted his hand and some sparks came from his finger. “But… it’s not very useful…”

“I heard you were able to temporarily stun the tellaris by electrifying the water. This was the only reason Lady Kait and her group were able to hold on as long as they did.”

His face turned red under such compliments. “S-sir… that was… a very particular case. I was very scared.”

Compared to most of the men Bloodbane was used to talking to, this guy was not made of stronger stuff. However, this didn’t bother him at all.

“You did what you were ordered to do. Bravery is not an absence of fear. It’s having fear, but doing what you were required to do anyway.”

“I-I see…” His fist tightened as if Bloodbane’s words expired him.

Bloodbane nodded. He approved of this kind of man. He might be a bit on the soft side, but he had potential.

“Will you march with us in the morning? Will you aid in claiming the inner city?” Bloodbane asked.

The boy jerked and then nodded his head. “I must. I… have family out there.”

Bloodbane nodded. “Then, I wish for you to work under me.”

“Of course! You’re my king!” He declared bravely.

“Have you rested?”

He blinked. “Ah… yes… I took a nap. I was still getting dressed when the maids… um…”

Bloodbane looked at his clothing and understood why he looked so clean and proper, but his soldier outfit was a mess. He wasn’t caught and reprimanded because everyone in the battle was a bit battered and dirty, but in normal circumstances, he’d have been punished, especially for visiting the King in such a state.

“Then, you will have until daybreak to get a grasp on your powers.” Bloodbane declared, reaching out and touching him. “I grant you the position of Mage.”

“M-mage?” He asked, clearly confused.

“Will you accept?” Bloodbane’s expression grew slightly intense.

“Ahh! I accept!”

Light exploded out, causing a couple of men nearby to jump thinking an attack had begun. The maids who had seen such a thing happen before didn’t comment at all. Bloodbane had also done this while Lady Kait was taking her rest, so he didn’t have to deal with her either. The light flooded around the private, and his outfit started to morph into a set of dark robes. His helmet became a pointy hat, and while he still looked youthful, nothing about him looked like a soldier anymore.

“What is this?” He asked with wide-eyed wonder.

“Try using your power now,” Bloodbane instructed him.

“Ah… yes…” He raised his hand outside as Andromeda lifted the tent flap.

It started to spark again, but this time, a bolt shot out. Hit struck the wall with a resounding boom. This caused a bunch of people still in the courtyard to panic as a small bomb went off, taking a chunk out of the wall.

“Wh-what happened?” He cried out.

Bloodbane chuckled, lifting his hand and reforming the wall with his Earth Manipulation. “I suspected that giving you a position would amplify your preexisting power. However, you’re a mage now, so you’ll likely be able to do other things eventually too.”

“M-mage… that… yes…” He rubbed his head. “I think, I know how to control magic now!”

Bloodbane nodded. “Practice with your lightning. No more big booms. I need you to learn how to control this gift. The more control you have, the more effective you can become. I will also give you this list.”

“Hmm?” He took the list from me. “Names?”

“These men each have their own power. Make them your subordinates. In particular, the one who has fire power and the one who can move things with his mind. As you level, you’ll be able to add the other as a subordinate.”

“This… you could have made any one of us your direct subordinate. Why did you choose me?”

Bloodbane stood up, towering over the other man. He put his hands on his shoulders.

“I believe you have potential. You are a brave and capable person, and you also have a family to save and goals to achieve. I could give this gift to an older man, but I believe giving it to a younger man will lead to even more growth. I expect great things from you in the future. Now, go practice, I’ll be needing you in a bit.”

“Yes, my lord! Ah, my name is Conner, by the way.”

“Then, Conner the Lightning Mage it will be.”

He excitedly walked away, looking back several times and stumbling over his feet. Andromeda sneered as she watched him leave.

“Is that really why you gave him your last position?” She asked.

Bloodbane’s lips tightened. “I wasn’t certain if giving someone with a power a position of power would cause them to lose their power. His power was the most expendable of the batch of five.”

Although he could use the mage to help with his weapon, it wouldn’t be too problematic if he lost his power. Electricity could be generated other ways, and the little sparks he made were so impressive that they would have been useful unless he updated. All of the others with power had grown them to a level where they could genuinely use them in battle. Only this kid’s power was too weak to be useful.

As for the other one with powers, he could condense water out of the air. Clean water was a necessity in war, so Bloodbane needed to continue to use that power and not turn it into a mage’s power. The fire mage and the psychokinesis mage were both abilities where Bloodbane could pretty much tell the direction they would go and how they could serve in battle, so he prioritized them.

With a lightning mage, a fire mage, and a psychokinesis mage… pushing back the enemies tomorrow shouldn’t be too difficult. Bloodbane continued to work on his weapon, and when the time came, he called Conner back to him do his part as well. When the weapon was finally done and he was admiring it, another person opened the tent flap and stepped in.

Andromeda shifted slightly at her approach. This would be Lady Kait.  She wasn’t wearing her armor at the moment, but a rather alluring nightgown. It caused Andromeda to notice. The maid had become mindful of Kait after the fight, but it wasn’t clear how their interactions would evolve to Bloodbane yet. When Lady Kait reached Bloodbane, rather than talking to him, she glanced at Andromeda.

“May I speak to him? Privately?” She asked.

Andromeda glanced at Bloodbane. He gave a single nod, and so she stood up and left the tent. However, her movements seemed slightly agitated. Bloodbane chose to ignore it. Once she was gone, he put his weapon down and stood up.

“You’ve changed,” She said nervously.

“I am who I am.” Bloodbane couldn’t deny such a thing, but he also wouldn’t explain it.

“I… have changed as well…” She bit her lip, taking a step forward and cautiously lifting her hand.

Bloodbane stood there, wondering what she was doing as she gently put her hand on his chest. “Lady Kait?”

“I’m sorry. Just, seeing you fight earlier, you were truly strong and powerful.” Her hand gently stroked his chest. “I wish my sister could have seen this side of you.”

“Your sister…”

“I blamed you at first, for what happened to her, but I realized I was just blaming myself.” She spoke gently. “You’re not the one to blame.”

“I’m not.”

That was true. Bloodbane wouldn’t take the responsibility for something that happened before he even came to this world. The woman in front of him took it a different way and let out a light chuckle.

“You’re incredible. Tomorrow might be the last day we live.” Her eyes grew slightly bright.

“Every day could be your last, but I’m not so easy to defeat,” Bloodbane responded, his eyes narrowing on her.

The intense look he gave the woman seemed to cause her to become increasingly shy. Her breath was rough and her cheeks were pink. Compared to the Lady Kait who had valiantly fought on the front lines, this girl had a maiden charm and beauty. It was at a level that it could win the heart of any man. She looked up at him, her eyes growing wet and her lips trembling.

“Please… make love to me. I just… don’t want to die a virgin. If I fall to some troll or goblin tomorrow, at least my first time… could be with the man I chose.”

“So, that is what you want.” Bloodbane sighed.

“I love you!” She threw her arms around Bloodbane, pressing her chest against him.

She lifted her face to his and kissed his lips. Grabbing the back of his head with one hand, her kiss grew increasingly more intense, using copious amounts of tongue.

“Mmm… Mmmm!” She moaned excitedly as she pressed against him.

Bloodbane pulled a knife from his belt and then stabbed it into her stomach. Then, he kicked her, causing her to stumble away from him. At that moment, the tent flew open.

“Master!” Andromeda cried out.

“Bloodbane!” Lady Kait also looked in from the front of the tent.

The woman who stumbled back looked down at the knife stabbed into her stomach. Then, she looked up at Bloodbane. A big smile formed on her face. It went wider than her lips should be, splitting her face in a toothy smile. Her teeth seemed to swap out for sharp canines. Her eyes grew wild and she threw back her head, letting out a hyenic laugh.

“Hehehehehehe…hahahahahaha…”

Lady Kait and Andromeda both lunged for her, but a massive amount of wind exploded out, shoving them back. The tent flew twenty feet into the air, and a vortex of wind blew around Bloodbane and the laughing woman.

Kait forced herself to her feet but was still being pushed back by the galeforce winds. The rest of the courtyard had turned into anarchy, men screaming and grabbing weapons. The maids outside the tent tried to race toward their master, but they found themselves unable to move past the wind incapsulating the pair of them.

“I don’t understand.” Kait cried out. “That… that’s my sister’s power! That’s Leah’s power. She could use the wind!”

The woman’s head spun around with a creek, nearly turning 180 degrees backward. “Why sister, don’t tell me you don’t recognize me?”

Kait’s face turned white. “Y-you… you…”

“She’s undead.” Andromeda finished her words.

The Queen, Bloodbane’s wife, Leah, had been raped to death at the gates of the city. However, that appeared to not be the end of her story. The Necromancer who controlled this army must have resurrected her. Since she was identical to her sister, no one suspected her as she snuck over the wall. She even managed to make it into Bloodbane’s tent. She had a knife in her hand too, which she had been trying to stab in Bloodbane’s back before he kicked her away.

Leah’s head turned back to Bloodbane in just as much of an abrupt on offsetting way. “What I want to know is how did my foolish little husband know I wasn’t my sister? It would have been too amusing watching you die after thinking you’d get to fuck her!”

“I could smell the slut on you the second you entered my tent,” Bloodbane responded. “You speak of offering me a virgin body? Laughable.”

“Haha… but you know my precious sister is untouched, right, Kait?” Leah’s mouth split open again as she grinned.

“S-sister…” Lady Kait barely responded, in too much shock overseeing her sister like this. “Wh-why?”

“I serve my new lord, just as you serve this fool. Don’t worry, when you die, and you will, he will resurrect you as well. Then, we can both service master together!”

This answer finally cut through Lady Kait’s shock, and she tightened her fist as her face grew red with anger. “If your master truly gets off being serviced by an abomination like you, then you deserve each other!”

Leah’s expression turned normal as she let out a gasp, turning to look at Kait. “Sister… how could you say such a thing? You know what I… what I had to go through before I died. How can you forget what he did so easily!”

As she spoke, tears fell down her face, and the monstrous features that marred her face were completely absent. Lady Kait’s expression grew uncertain, and she glanced back at Bloodbane, seemingly remembering all of her anger and hatred toward him.

Bloodbane moved suddenly. Grabbing his newly created weapon, a massive blade made out of hardened steel, he lunged forward and sliced, cutting Leah in half. Kait’s eyes widened as her sister was cut in half in front of her. As the top of her body fell to the side, it suddenly disappeared in a puff of air. The circle of wind around Bloodbane also disappeared. The roaring wind ended so quickly, that it caused an intense and unnerving quiet to fall over everyone.

“Grrr…. You’re no fun!” A voice shouted out, causing everyone to spin to the wall. “Husband, you were supposed to tell her the truth. Attacking a girl when her back is turned. When did you become so bold?”

Queen Leah was sitting on top of the wall casually. It was clear with her ability how she had managed to slide into camp without anyone noticing. By everyone’s shocked expression, her ability probably wasn’t this strong when she was alive. Just as Bloodbane could make someone stronger by giving them a position of power, this necromancer could make people stronger by raising them from the undead.

Bloodbane stood up with his weapon in hand as he glared at Leah. “You are no longer my wife. Marriage is until death due us part. Death parted us.”

“How cruel…” She rubbed her legs together lewdly. “If I knew my cucked husband was like this now, I might have been willing to fuck you first before I stabbed you in the back.”

“What do you mean, cucked?” Lady Kait demanded.

“I wanted to see the look on your face when you heard it from him, but Bloodbane is a party pooper.” She sighed, putting her hands on her cheeks and acting completely casual. “General Nightingale? I fucked him behind our king’s back. So, you see, your great and mighty leader is just a little cucked loser.”

“That… no…” Lady Kait shook her head, taking a step back. “My sister wouldn’t do that!”

Kait looked toward Bloodbane, but his face gave nothing away. When her eyes landed on Andromeda, Andromeda broke her eye contact. Among the maids, this was a known thing. At one time, she had even looked mockingly at Bloodbane knowing that his precious queen was with another. All of the maids around him now felt intense guilt about it. Perhaps, this was part of the reason they had grown so defensive and protected him at all times. They had failed their king as maids once. They wouldn’t do it again.

“If you think that’s hard to hear, then wait until you hear this!” Leah’s demonic grin that split her face appeared again. “The general and I-“

“Now!” Bloodbane shouted.

Lieutenant Greeves and his subordinates had slowly gotten into positions with their bows and arrows. At Bloodbane’s order, they released a volley of three arrows.

“Tsk!” She disappeared in a puff of wind, and the arrows bounced off the rooftop harmlessly.

Of course, Bloodbane knew what she was going to say. She was going to mention her and the general’s betrayal. If such a thing happened mere few hours before the battle, it would destroy morale. Bloodbane wasn’t a fool, so he interrupted her speech the best he could. She had disappeared, and silence followed. No one said a word.

Just as he thought she was gone for good, her voice suddenly rose in the wind with a slightly irritated tone. “You distracted me from giving my message! Hmph! Whatever. If you plan to attack tomorrow, just know that my lover will be waiting for you at the inner-city gate. Come take it, if you dare.”

That final threat echoed in the air as her presence finally dissipated from the courtyard. No one felt at ease though.

“Lover?” Lady Kait asked.

“General Nightingale.” Bloodbane frowned. “He’s been resurrected as an undead too.”

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