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498 The Warlord

    Against the clever tactics used by the cohesive coalition of immortal cultivators, the disorganized groups of the blood sect could do nothing but throw themselves to their death.

    Every single maneuver which possessed a semblance of strategic significance was promptly countered by their opposing force, and in just a few minutes, this led to a catastrophic loss for the blood sect.

    To validate this victory was the minimal number of losses on the side of the immortal cultivators, which had been possible only thanks to the competence of their leader, a mysterious man who, in the last couple of years, had united a few mercenary groups and used them to take over what was left of the once powerful universal government.

    This change in leadership had only been possible due to the desperate situation in which the former ruling group of Daniel's universe was left to deal with. Specifically, to defend a territory larger than their numbers allowed, and to protect more citizens than they could count.

    Faced with the menace of the blood sect, which saw the weaker cultivators of their universe as nothing but cultivation resources, the senate of the universal government had split into three sides, each supported by one of the three main bodies that, through arguments and small scale conflicts, tried to elevate their representatives into becoming the person that would lead humanity out of this difficult situation.

    Unfortunately, while the judges, military and explorers fought against each other to gain the control of their now weakened faction, the blood cultivators ran rampant throughout their territories, slaughtering billions of people every single day, one planet at a time.

    During those chaotic times, from within the terrified population of the universal government, arose a group of mercenaries led by a man that was simply referred to as "The Warlord." A man who, by piling one victory after the other in his efforts against this brutal invasion, quickly gained the support of the citizens of the universal government, and after that, of the military, the explorers, and the judges.

    In just a couple of years, he had been recognized as a hero born to protect the universal government, and gained enough respect to be nominated as the temporary and sole ruler of this falling civilization.

    Thanks to the strategic brilliance and peerless leading abilities that he possessed, the universal government was able to reunite as one, absorb many of the faction that had left after the opening to the multiverse, and managed to become one of the major powers in the universe.. But more importantly, they had grown to a state where, surviving the invasions of the fearsome blood sect, was not just a dream.

    The last battle was nothing but the new addition to a long streak of victories achieved by the Warlord.

    -----

    Planet Alcazar.

    Amongst the most important places in Alcazar, the planet that was once considered the very core of the universal government, were the headquarters of each of the three forces of the universal government.. The Military Barracks, base of the army, home to grand generals, and place where most important military operations were planned and directed.. The Sextant, base of the explorers corp, home to retired scouts, assassins and cartographers, and the place that contained the most detailed map of the explored universe in existence, as well as the second most vast collection of knowledge after Hiel Academy. Last but not least, was the Tribunal.

    Other than being home to the grand judges and the place where the factions of the universal government could solve their problems without having to go to war, the Tribunal contained Alcazar's only prison. An underground structure where important prisoners of war would be kept captive and used as leverage over their factions, or tortured for information.

    Right now, this dark dungeon was reserved for only four individuals. This small group of prisoners was composed of three young men and one young woman, all dressed in tattered red clothes and covered in shallow wounds. Their wrists and ankles were tied to the walls with suppressing chains, which absorbed any form of essence within their bodies before they could even use it to treat their injuries. These four people were the young nobles that had just led an expedition of blood cultivators to attack the universal government, and had been captured as a result of their defeat.

    "How did this happen.." muttered one of the young men while behaving in a panic-stricken way. From his behaviour, it was clear that this was the very first time he had been in real danger, and that was shown by his difficulty in maintaining his calm, "They are so weak.. How did we lose..?"

    "Fucking vermins.. Just wait until my father realizes that I have disappeared. He'll bring our whole damn universe to find me." Said the young woman with indignation. In her mind, despite believing that being stronger gave her the right to consume humans as mere cultivation resources, the idea of being mistreated was unfathomable, and the greatest offence of all.

    Of the four young blood cultivators, only two had maintained their composure, and they were the young man dressed in red and golden clothes, and a lanky young man who appeared to be in his late teens. The latter appeared to be looking around, in hope to find a way to free himself from the chains, while the former, was staring intently at the door.

    "They won't kill us. If that was their plan, they would have killed us already. They brought us here to interrogate us." Said the young man with the highest status, a noble of the original universe of the blood sect, and a direct descendant of the now deceased Murderous God.

    "How can you say that?" asked his terrified companion.

    "The man in heavy armor, that must be the one they call the Warlord, the man who took down many of our parties in the last two years. Since he was there personally, then it's clear that others were captured before us. They will likely interrogate us, and keep us alive to use us as leverage against the sect. If your universes have followed protocol, you should be trained for this.. Only give half truths and make them struggle for the information." Responded the leader of this group of young cultivators with a matter-of-fact and confident tone.

    What he said was able to ease the anxiousness that the most outspoken amongst the four were feeling, but it didn't seem to do anything for the lanky young man, who turned towards him, and said with as much confidence, "Or they'll execute us in front of an angry mob of mortals."

    The young man dressed in red and golden clothes was about to retort, but he was interrupted when suddenly, the door of their cell opened, revealing the figure of a man clad in heavy armor. This person was the one they had seen during the battle that took place a few hours before.. The man known as the Warlord.

    Completely alone, the tall and muscular man entered the room.. Then closed the door.

    The moment he set foot into their cell, a feeling of oppression fell over the shoulders of the four blood cultivators. This pressure was not one caused by the presence of a higher power, but instead, by the presence of someone that occupied a higher standing. In their eyes, he was someone worthy of being followed, even if following him brought them to their early demise.

    Looking at the slits that uncovered the man's eyes became extremely difficult for the four, just like it was not falling on their knees as a sign of submission. However, this oppression was nothing but a form of mental pressure, something that they had encountered in the past, and that they knew better than to allow to take control over their actions.

    In order to fight this oppressive feeling, the young woman turned to look at the noble figure of the Warlord, and said with indignation, "Do you have any idea who we are? Release us at on.." *CRR-SQUELCH!* her words were interrupted by an eerie crunch, followed by a loud squelching sound.

    As soon as these two sounds reached their ears, a dense liquid splattered over their eyes, forcing them to brush them clean with the back of their hands.. Unfortunately, the sight that appeared in front of their now clean eyes, was one of horror.

    The walls, ceiling, and floor of the room was now covered in blood, pieces of flesh, and blood-soaked fragments of bones. Where the young woman was standing just a second before, was now nothing but a mound of red paste, with a large war hammer planted right in the middle of it. That was all that was left of the female blood cultivator, who had smitten out of existence before being given the chance to apologize for her rudeness.

    Witnessing to the brutality and decisiveness of the Warlord send a shiver down the spines of the three surviving cultivators, who looked in silence as the man in heavy armor summoned a rag from within his spatial ring, and used it to remove the bits of flesh from the flat part of his hammer, but without touching those that now decorated his helmet and cuirass.

    Once done, the Warlord turned towards the three survivors and let his cold eyes land on each of them several times, only stopping the moment his gaze locked on the more terrified of the three. "Talk." He said with a cold and emotionless tone.

    The terrified young man pressed his back against the closest wall, and as the Warlord stepped closer to him while still holding the hammer, he muttered, "What.. I don't.. What do you.." Completely panic-stricken, the mind of the young man became completely blank. He was barely able to mutter a few words before his captor grabbed his head with his left hand, and rammed it against the wall over and over again.

    When the crunching sounds ended, and nothing was left of the young man's head but meat paste, the Warlord stopped, allowing his headless corpse to fall on the pool of blood that had formed under his limp feet.

    In the mind of the two survivors started to appear random pieces of information and details that they could give up to avoid a brutal and untimely death, but as the single word said by the Warlord resounded once again in their ears, these thoughts fell apart, unable to be placed together.

    Without wasting a single moment, the Warlord took a step back, and quickly eyed the two young men left. The one dressed in gold and red clothes, and the tall and quiet one. He then repeated, "Tal-"

    Before he could finish repeating himself, the Warlord was interrupted by the taller young man, who blurted out, "There will be two more parties coming in ten days. Each will have no less warriors than the ones we came with. Their objectives are the systems closest to.." As he reached this point, however, the tall young man was silenced by the index finger of the tall and muscular man, which was straightened in front of his face to make him be quiet.. An order which he didn't dare to refuse.

    Now terrified, the taller young man was only able to watch and tremble in horror as the Warlord approached the now begging young man dressed in gold and red. This horror kept increasing as the latter was turned into minced meat by an endless series of blows fueled by a fury that he had never experienced in his life. This sight was so terrifying, that he failed to notice the stream of warm urine that went down his legs, and the small shreds of flesh that flew on his face, and into his opened mouth.

    What followed were ten minutes of pure brutality which destroyed any of the young men's mental defenses.

    When the Warlord was finally over with what he was doing, the young man did not think twice before starting to reveal a vast amount of intel that included the location of the camps of the blood warriors, the location of their main base, the numbers of forces left in the universe, the number of reinforcements, and their main objectives.. but most importantly, the reason why they were so eager to invade their universe.

    This entire interrogation was heard by a young-looking man dressed in grand judge's clothes, who stood in the corridor outside of the cell while taking notes of what was revealed. He had been waiting in the same exact spot ever since the Warlord had entered the cell, and his job was to take note of everything that could be of importance.

    When ten minutes later the tall young man ran out of information to give.. The grand judge placed the pen over the sheet of paper, and pretended not to hear his cries of desperation paired by the now familiar, yet still extremely disgusting brutal noises, which ended a couple of seconds later. Once nothing but silence could be heard coming from the cell, the grand judge straightened his back, and waited for the Warlord to walk out.

    As if on cue, the tall man in heavy armor walked out of the cell. His armor now painted red, with bits and pieces of bones, flesh, and organs resting over the once shiny metal. His eyes landed on the grand judge, who looked back at him with a nervous smile. Instead of saying anything, however, the warlord raised his arms, and reached for the helmet that was covering his head.

    With a fluid motion he removed it, revealing a middle-aged man's face. That of a stern individual, veteran of many wars, and to some people, like Daniel and his companions, extremely familiar features. He was one half of Daniel's two missing companions, Der.
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