Release that Witch Chapter 749
The moment Rubaka Bloodwhip got out of the bed, he heard the news about the change in the ownership of the small oasis in the northwest.
"Really?" His brows furrowed. Although he had also seen glimmers of fires in the oasis, he had not expected Howling clan would be obliterated over one night. He tried to think of a newly established clan that possessed such impressive power but could not name any.
Rubaka patted his concubine lying next to him to usher her out. After the woman wrapped herself up in a blanket and withdrew, he turned to his men and said, "Fill me in."
"Yes, Mr. Chief. According to the people who fled from the oasis, it appeared the fire wasn't caused by the challenger lurking there but was actually a fire from heaven induced by the Father God..."
"Nonsense!" Rubaka coughed out a spittle. "Those cravens just blame everything on Three Gods when they come across trouble. I'm going to hang all of them above the gate of Iron Sand City!"
The clansman replied hesitatively, "but... I sent someone to the camps at the small oasis this morning. What they found seemed to be consistent with the description... There're many holes as black as pitch in the ground. Corpses and fragments of building materials are everywhere. It doesn't look like a simple arson."
"Yes. Men were torn to pieces as if a huge sandworm or burrow scorpion had plodded on the campground." The clansman was careful to choose his words. "Most people who stayed in the camp died miserably, while those who went to seek pleasure outside fought back. Yet they were vanquished even before they saw their rivals."
"In other words, those fools were ambushed and all ran for life without even approaching their enemies? So what now? Haven't they even figured out which clan took the small oasis?" Rubaka started to suspect whether he had been too generous to the watchdog. He had made a great effort in persuading them to work for him, but their performance was indeed disappointing. Could it be possible that they had lived too comfortably for so long that meat and mead had made them more drunken and lecherous than he desired them to be?
"My men are investigating and we should soon receive some information from them." The clansman hesitated for a moment and then said, "I heard some refugees say that they've seen many northerners."
Hearing this, Rubaka began to take this matter seriously.
He walked to the window, naked, and looked in the northwestern direction. The fires had been extinguished long before. He could only see tendrils of dark smoke rise into the air at a distance.
Although Howling clan was drawn over to his side and served as his watchdog through the joint effort of both Ironwhip and Bonegrinding clans, he did not care much about their survival. After Rubaka settled down in Iron Sand City, he came to understand that the challenger system was actually more a safeguard established by the six clans than a qualification test.
A holy duel was simply a small fight, whereas battles provoked by challengers for the ownership of the small oasis could be considered as a full-fledged war. It was common for two small clans to drown each other in blood, for the oasis was a fat piece of meat that every clan who wished to strengthen their power drooled for, even if they did not plan to set foot in Iron Sand City. No matter which party eventually won, the victory usually cost dear and both parties would need a considerably long time to recover.
During the time when challengers were recuperating, big clans could easily convince those small clans to work for them as watchdogs through either bribing or duress. It was particularly easy to persuade those who believed that the compromising was just temporary and that they would sooner or later challenge the big clan to another duel. Practically, in the end, none of them managed to toll the holy bell of Iron Sand City.
Because by that time, new challengers would emerge and struck out the old watchdog.
In this way, big clans were able to remain in a relatively secure position without being consumed by the war.
Now, since Ironwhip had risen to the fourth place on the ranking, it was unlikely that challengers would seek him as their rival even if they planned to start an immediate duel. That was why the change of the ownership of the small oasis had not really alarmed him.
But the appearance of northerners had changed the whole story.
Queen of Clearwater, for instance, had created quite a big commotion in Iron Sand City. In fact, many people yearned for the evergreen land in the north and were even willing to reduce to slaves or sellswords to live there. The departure of two potential challengers had once left the small oasis unmanned and thus attracted many people who wanted to rule this land to start Divine Challenges. It was the chaos created by this temporary disorder that made Rubaka's clan the fourth biggest one.
What game are they playing this time?
"Keep an eye on those people and let me know what's exactly happened." Rubaka turned around and instructed his clansman. "Which city are those northerners from? How many of them? What weapon do they carry? What do they want? I want to know all of these!"
"Yes, Mr. Chief!"
Perhaps it was time for him to discuss the matter with the other big clans.
The rule in the Southernmost Region was that no outsiders should meddle in their affairs!
Nonetheless, Rubaka Bloodwhip received a piece of incredible news in the afternoon.
"What did you say? Osha clan?"
"That's what they say. The banners in the oasis have all been replaced with ones with the sigil of Osha clan. I also saw Princess Osha who was traded as a slave. She's now a Divine Lady and is calling on her clansmen. There're a lot of people responding to her call!"
How… can this be possible?
Rubaka was not ignorant of the kingdoms in the north. A Divine Lady was viewed as a representation of evil in Graycastle. Their social status was even lower than that of a slave girl in Sand Nation, not to mention a Divine Lady slave. He wondered how she won the support from northerners and returned to the Southernmost Region to exact her revenge along with her northern followers?
Rubaka smelled sheer folly but was also a little rattled by the news.
Mojins had been forced to confine their activities to the desert up until now not because they preferred the desert as their dwellings, but because they did not have the capability to confront Graycastle. If Osha clan supported by northerners planned to wage a war against Iron Sand City, all the clans would come together to fight back. If they, however, only intended to weed him out, would the other clans help Ironwhip?
The answer was there.
Rubaka smashed the wine glass to the ground and stomped on it. It instantly broke to pieces.
"If you want to avenge your father's death through a holy duel, then I'm right here waiting for you!" Rubaka said within himself insolently. "Northerners may have finer weapons and they might outnumber us, but when it comes to a duel, Ironsand people of the Mojin Clan are the most valiant warriors! I'll let you know the taste of despair!"
Just at that moment, another clansman entered the hall. "Mr. Chief, Osha clan has sent a present to us."
"What?" Rubaka felt his temples throbbing. "A present?"
"Yes. It's right in the yard."
"Take me there." He ground his teeth.
It was a huge wooden box, as tall as a grown person, its width half of its height. The box, which was assembled by a few ordinary planks, with an iron nail staked at each corner, looked nothing unusual from the outside.
"Where's the courier?" Rubaka asked.
"How many of them?"
"Well... only one."
"Only one?" He raised his brows and kicked the box. The box rolled over on the ground, producing loud clanks and clinks. Obviously, there was something in it. Yet based on the weight of the box, the stuff seemed to be pretty light as though the box were hollow.
Rubaka wondered if there were torn limbs and flesh, or human skins in it. Apart from a bluff, he could not think of anything else.
Rubaka commanded coolly, "Take it to Stone Castle. Let's see what game they're playing."