Kingdom Of The Weak Chapter 347
347 Corporal Ling
His name was Ling Yun. As a child, he showed high potential, good consistency, and a lot of enthusiasm in martial training. The district magistrate ran a selection and he was among the twenty who were offered a deal; the magistrate would support their martial training and their families as long as they served him.
Wanting to support his ailing family, Ling Yun accepted the deal and trained under the magistrate until one day, the magistrate was ousted from office by an offended clan and the state overseer came by to decide the fate of the late magistrate's servants.
The result of that was that Ling Yun ended up serving the state overseer along with four others from his group. This meant an increase of resources, better trainers, and better treatment for his family. The overseer provided enough that Ling Yun's father was able to outright retire, and all four of his younger siblings were afforded schooling at the overseer's expense.
Then one day there was a tournament, and Ling Yun fought in front of the Crown Prince, Zar'khan-dras.
No, Zar'khan didn't pay him any particular attention then. But one of his guards did. At the time, Lieutenant Yang Feng simply thought that Ling Yun's aptitude could make for a good cargo hauler, and poached the young talent away from the state overseer. Upon entering the service and training of the Royal Draconian Legions, Ling Yun also forged a bond with the blood of the Dras Clan and became a Draconian.
This brought Ling Yun and his family directly into the Capital. As it turned out, Ling Yun's aptitude surprised even the then-lieutenant, and he went from logistics training to reconnaisance training. His family's fortune rose to the point where they were able to open an inn in the capital's suburbs, and his second sister even found partners among the locals to start a clothing shop together.
Then one day the lieutenant was promoted and Yang Feng became a captain of the Fifth Royal Draconian Legion. At the time, Ling Yun had just broken through into the Seventh Stage of Qi training, the Body (Innate) Qi stage. Captain Yang promoted Ling Yun to the rank of Corporal, and had him lead a small recon squad.
That was two years ago. Afterward, Ling Yun's second sister became the acknowledged boss of her clothing shop. His parents expanded the inn. His younger siblings all found many friends and good prospects in school.
Then last year, a sudden surge in casualties led to a great many transfers. Captain Yang's Company, including Ling Yun, were directly transferred to the First Royal Draconian Legion.
Four months ago, Ling Yun stepped through the Portal and found out exactly why the First Royal Draconian Legion kept suffering such heavy casualties.
Through it all, Ling Yun's greatest concern was for his family. Having risen from the downtrodden, his greatest fear was letting them down, they who had depended on his backing and support to rise up to their current level of prosperity. He feared dying and costing them their succor. He feared losing favor and causing them to be shunned in society. But more than anything else, he feared that these creatures known as Undead would slip through the Portal and kill everyone in the Capital.
So while other, more ambitious Corporals would roam the Undead World seeking fame, fortune and mana, Ling Yun volunteered to patrol the vicinity of the Portal Camp Site, determined not to allow any of these monsters to even get close to the Portal. This won him a great deal of favor and quite a bit of sympathy from his fellows but very little in way of results.
As time went on, Corporal Ling's recon squad took losses. The originally already small squad of six encountered Undead, fought, and suffered casualty after casualty. Even then, their losses were not replaced; theirs was basically the squad that brought back the least mana crystals, and they were very low on the priority for replacement troops.
Eventually, the situation developed to the point where Ling Yun went on his patrols alone. His job scope involved alerting the camps of any incoming Undead and staying alive afterward. There was no way he could fight off even the smaller bands, which in this region, usually consisted of a mix of at least twenty mid-tier ghouls and skeletons.
Recently, those bands got bigger and bigger. Not long ago, Ling Yun had been chased around by a band led by a Death Knight. That was a Tier 6 armored and mounted skeleton knight empowered by red mana crystals. Only the elite forward Companies would challenge these Undead champions for their red crystals! Ling Yun by himself could only send a desperate alert and run for his life.
That had been a really bad day. The Death Knight had had three Lich subordinates, each one a Tier 5 Undead Mage empowered by a purple mana crystal. Each Lich was a master of numerous skeletons, ghouls and zombies, which made up the middle and lower Tiers of Undead. Ling Yun was thankful to get away from them all.
But even then, he had the benefit of a great deal of distance and early warning. Today today was better, but worse.
Today, the band chasing him was only led by one Lich. It had eight Tier 4 skeletons and over a dozen Tier 3 ghouls at its command. There were also a bunch of shambling zombies, but they had been left far behind in the chase. All told, this band was less dangerous than the Death Knight's army back then.
But this particular band had caught Ling Yun by surprise. They had ambushed him before he even knew they were there. Had he gotten careless after so many days of successful escape and survival? Maybe. Or maybe the Undead were just getting smarter. Either way, Ling Yun was injured and almost killed before he could even whip out his comms crystal and alert the camps.
Afterward, it was mainly running for safety. Between the two nearest camps, the Portal Camp was closer; Ling Yun was making a beeline for it when he came across a boy and a girl out of nowhere.
The boy was a Draconian. Even Ling Yun could sense that much, at least. But they weren't wearing armor or any sort of uniform. Despite the impossibility of the situation, Ling Yun could only conclude they were civilians like his siblings. As a soldier of the Dragon Empire, it was his sworn duty to protect the civilians of the Empire.
"This, then, is where I die." Ling Yun drew himself up and turned to face his pursuers. "It was a good life. I lived well, and I have done right by my family."
The thought of abandoning these reckless tourists never even occurred to Ling Yun. He didn't even think to question them. His only thoughts were to protect them from the Undead. That was all.
As for the cost being his life that was not really a consideration. Every soldier in the Legions knew. Honorable death in battle was far more beneficial to his bereaved family than him living in dishonor having betrayed his Empire and his duties as a soldier.
Ling Yun tightened his grip around his saber, the only weapon he had left. He no longer had the strength to roar a battle-cry, so that it came out merely as a whisper. "By the blood of Dras, and for the Empire!"
Yet the whisper seemed to hold much more conviction and truth than any roar he could have sounded.
He raised his blade, and fire burst out in a wave that swept into his enemies!
No, it wasn't his doing. Ling Yun blinked, then gaped in shock as the boy and the girl he'd been trying to save suddenly leapt forward and threw fire at the Lich's band. A rain of fireballs swept out from the boy's hands, and a stream of flame spewed out from the girl's. The screams of scorched ghouls filled the air.
But the skeletons leapt ahead. Six bone warriors bearing swords, spears and maces closed in on the pair.
"Get back!" the boy warned, and light flickered into the form of twin blades on either of his hands.
Ling Yun stared. "Is that the Church of Light's Psi-blades?"
"We're not from the Church." The girl said briefly, while stepping back and throwing fireballs at ghouls trying to flank them on the left side.
Then crackling energy formed a little dragon around the boy like a cape, and the boy lunged, Psi-blades tearing into skeletons one after the other in quick sucession. The skeletons tried to stab him, cut him, maul him but he was too quick, too strong. He cut them down and flung them off and then he sped directly towards the lich.
The surviving skeletons ignored him and closed in on Ling Yun and the girl.
"Oh, no, you don't!" the girl suddenly made a motion as if she was drawing something out of thin air and a sword of fire appeared in her hands.
"What that's not from the Church" Ling Yun had to admit.
"Told you." The girl said, and then the sword of fire extended to five feet in length. She slammed the it into the head of one skeleton, then swung the blade into the skull of the one next to it. The last remaining skeleton tried to charge her, but she ducked and swept her flames into its torso, slicing it neatly into two, both halves spinning away afterward.
Meanwhile, the boy was ripping the Lich apart. The Lich was trying to cast something, probably, and the surviving ghouls were trying to do something it didn't matter. The boy tore them all apart with his blades of light, flickering under his Silhouette like the claws of a little dragon.
"Who who ARE you people?" Corporal Ling Yun asked in a daze as the Lich collapsed and the ghouls began to fall apart under the assault of the boy's Psi-Blades.
"I'm Mindy." The girl said, throwing out another fireball at the surviving ghouls. "And that's Darian."
"Hi." Darian said, slicing a ghoul in two.
"Hi." Ling Yun managed. "I'm Ling Yun, Corporal of the First Royal Draconian Legion."
"Nice to meet you." Mindy said, and whacked another ghoul in the head with her extended fire sword.