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354 The Difference Between a General and a General

    With the loss of their general, and four of the five champions, the chances of winning this war had become extremely slim for the enemy army.

    One of the people who had noticed this, was, of course, the female archer. She had been leading the survivors of the enemy army into a losing battle against Der and his troops, and now that the strongest warriors of her side had been killed, she knew that things would go progressively worse, until she would ultimately be killed along with the rest.

    In her mind, the idea of escaping slowly started to take shape.

    While escaping the battlefield was not specifically prohibited, it was usually the last move that any of the hired warriors would rely on. The reason for that was that many wars were won thanks to a desperate effort of the losing end. Also, if planned poorly, an escape would create a ripple effect that would cause the rest of the army to fall into panic.

    Usually, when a faction reached that state, the first instinct that would appear on the minds of the survivors, would be to escape as well. Unfortunately, that would cause for them to be chased, and ultimately end up in a more difficult position than they already were.

    The numbers were going down fast, and the more she waited, the harder her escape would be. So when everyone appeared to be focused in their individual fights, with the excuse of wanting to find a favorable spot from which she could use her bow from, she climbed a massive rock that came out of the ground like a monster's horn.

    Her movements attracted the attention of the men and women she had lead so far, which immediately became suspicious of her. However, this suspicion disappeared the moment they saw her pointing and shooting with her bow, sending multiple arrows whistling through the air against the opposing army.

    What the soldiers hadn't noticed, was that while she was shooting multiple arrows per second, her aim was always off. She wanted to avoid attracting the attention of any of the enemy warriors, which would be the first ones to notice if she tried to escape.

    While this method of survival could be considered cruel, to the warriors of Sand and Blood, it would appear to be completely normal. Surrender did not exist in the Dominion of the War God, and if one wanted to survive a lost battle, the only choice they had was to make use of the fray to sneak away.

    As part of an army formed purely out of rogue warriors and mercenary groups, anyone would have understood the logic behind this sort of reasoning, after all, none of them really wanted to die, and at some point, all of them would start to think the same way. The only reason why this woman had thought of it sooner than the other, was because her position allowed her to see the bigger picture of the battle, instead of focusing on the enemies around her.

    Confident that this woman had their back, the soldiers of the enemy army kept fighting for a few more minutes, until finally, the arrows stopped coming.

    One by one, these warriors turned to look at their leading figure, and soon noticed that their leader had made her escape. Their general and four of their five champions were dead, and her current leader had ran away.

    A few brave warriors, which had also been generals in the past and had been hired as warriors in this war due to their impressive battle prowess, immediately caught up with what was happening and tried to salvage the situation by taking the lead of this group of fighters.. But the lack of coordination amongst them did nothing but worsen their situation.

    After a few minutes of devastating results, in the surrounding, a few voices began to appear one after the other. All of them would carry the same exact message, which was, "RETREAT!!"

    In a matter of seconds, the enemy army went into full panic.

    Some of these warriors were unsure whether the order was valid or not, and therefore, kept fighting.. While some others had already prepared plans to escape the moment they had seen their army start to lose footing.

    Regardless of their initial reaction, sooner or later, all of them began their escape while also watching their back as they dashed out of the battlefield.. However, after only a few seconds, these escaping warriors noticed that something was wrong.

    The soldiers of Der's army seemed to lack the will to chase them, and the very moment their improvised leaders ordered their retreat, they gave chase for a second or two, then stopped, and allowed for them to get away.

    Contrary to the wars that would take place in Sand and Blood, the wars that took place in the countries of Der's planet of origin were of a political nature. Politics had never helped anybody in war, but what it gave, was a different perspective on the consequences of a war.

    In war, every single warrior was either a father, a mother, a son, a daughter, or a sibling. Taking any life in the battlefield would ultimately cause a risk for the relatives of the dead soldier to want to exact revenge against the people who had killed their loved one.. But most importantly, their loss would cause them pain, and unhappiness.

    That was the reason why it was so important to spare those who wished to surrender. Any unnecessary death, was a political and human mistake from multiple points of view, and Der was very aware of this.

    Once he had reached this planet, he had been forced to deal with its rules.. But it wasn't long before he was able to find a loophole. The lax rules regarding escapees was twisted to its limits.. and from it, Der had been able to put together a simple plan to avoid having to kill every single warrior that had no more desire to battle.

    That plan consisted in a fake attempt at chasing, before giving up soon after.

    The escaping members of the enemy army quickly caught on with what was happening, and instead staying, they left the battlefield as fast as they could.

    "YEAH!" Shouted a warrior of Der's army with enthusiasm, causing for the people around him to follow up with similar shouts.

    Der was currently standing on the massive where, only a few minutes before, the female archer shoot her arrows at them, and gave orders to her soldiers. He was looking at the faint sight of the escaping warriors while listening at the joyful cries of his winning side, while also preparing for what would come next.

    As he looked at the distance, his campions appeared next to him one by one.

    "How long before the fight?" he asked without even turning to look back at them.

    The blue-eyed warrior, when he was only a common warrior that was indirectly hired through the mercenary group that was lead by the deceased enemy general, had fought in various wars for the trial of passage. So, since he was the only experienced enough to respond to this question, he said, "Any moment now."

    As if on cue, the many elite members of the Dominion of the War God that had  been observing until now came down from the sky like rain. Their appearance was terrifying, and the power they emanated left anyone that looked at them in shivers.

    While most of them formed a separate group, and were simply observing, the female warrior that worked as the guardian for this specific territory stood by herself. Next to her was a visibly scared female archer who looked around as if she was surprised to be there.

    "I have observed your petty ploys for awhile now.. The piety you've shown is against the nature of a ki warrior.. But I guess that nothing better can be expected by a foreigner." Said the woman before grabbing the arm of the female archer, and throwing her on the ground in front of Der and the others. She then added with a threatening tone, "However, it is a rule that a war to decide who will go through the trial of passage can't end until the champions of the other army are still alive. Kill her."

    Der looked at the terrified female archer, and right away, he felt an incredibly powerful desire to refuse this order. However, she was an enemy, and while not the general of their army, she was still the champion that had led the enemy army to the death of many of his men. So, he unwillingly took a step forward and reached the edge of the rock.

    Before Der could do anything, the blue-eyed warrior said out loud from behind him. "She isn't a champion."

    The woman in charge of testing them immediately turned to look at this carefree and happy looking warrior, and said, "What do you mean?"

    Unfazed by the woman's domineering tone, the blue eyed warrior lied by saying, "When I fought their general, he claimed she was simply there to hide their true fifth champion."

    The woman did not believe his lie, but instead of contesting them, she asked, "And who might this fifth champion be?"

    The blue-eyed warrior remained quiet, and turned to look at the corpses strewn all over the ground. The moment his eyes landed on a deceased enemy warrior, he pointed at him, and said "That guy over there. He was super strong." His lie was not believable in the least, and the only thing he caused, were a few laughs in the observing group of elite members of the Dominion of the War God.

    Naturally, the woman hadn't fallen for this lie either, but once again, instead of refuting this explanation, she turned to look at Der, and asked, "Is this how you really want to play this? It's your last chance."

    Der turned to look at the female archer, and for a moment, he saw his daughter in her. That was enough for him to turn back at the woman before weakly nodding in confirmation.

    "Very well." Responded the woman before turning to look at the female archer, and saying, "You may go."

    After hearing these words, the female archer stood up as fast as she could, and bolted in the distance in a blink of an eye.

    To this woman, it did not matter whether they were lying or not. The rules of the Dominion of the War God were put in place so that the numbers of warriors that appeared in the planets within their territory, would match the number of warriors that the faction could afford to maintain. In the grand scheme of things, the fact that one of the generals had found a loophole to disobey one of these rules and allow for survivors to appear, was nothing worth mentioning.

    However, she had a job. Her job was to make sure that the rules of the trial of passage were followed, and if not, to act as she wished to solve any of the problems that ensued. The two groups of champions had to kill each other, and that was one of the rules of the trial of passage.

    While that could have appeared like a waste of talent, it truly wasn't. The planets that were part of the Dominion of the War God were hundreds of thousands, and while not many groups would pass the trial of passage, those who did were enough to weigh heavily on the resources in possession of the faction.

    This had lead for the difficulty of the trial of passage to be gradually increased, until only the most ruthless, powerful, and talented warriors were able to arise.

    Nevertheless, there was a secondary thing that the testers were in charge of verifying.

    The faction did not care for a general's ability to lead theirarmy. That was the reason why they had created an environment where the strongest would lead. Respect for the strongest and obedience were the main traits of a warrior of the Dominion of the War God, and by definition, an opinionated general that had grown in another faction, did not fit their standards.

    After taking a mental note of Der's response, the woman took a sword out of her spatial ring, and said "Five minutes. Stop me from killing your general, and you will pass." She then started to slowly walk in Der's direction.

    Der, who was just about fifty meters away from her, suddenly felt a terrifying aura that heavily affected his psyche. His legs and hands were trembling, and the sheer idea of walking away appeared in his head like the assurance of a quick death.

    Alesia, Gai'ha, the blue-eyed man, the dwarf, and the young man with the brass knuckles looked at each other for a moment, then turned towards the woman, and dashed in her direction.

    The trial had started.
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