Chapter 1005 Talent and Experience Part 1
Royal Prospectors would use arrays to detect the presence of enemies and crystals alike.
Thanks to earth magic, they could safely dig new tunnels or expand the natural network of caves.
Then, it would be the miners\' job to dig around according to the information provided by the Prospectors.
In their original state, mana crystals didn\'t like magic.
Using powerful spells in their proximity could easily make them explode and trigger a chain reaction that would wipe out the entire crystal vein.
The tools the miners used were enchanted so to improve their durability and efficiency.
A single worker could dig faster than a drill, but with crystals, skill and finesse were more important than speed.
Gods, give me strength. Quylla turned pale while entering the tunnels.
Since when are you afraid of enclosed spaces Friya could understand if the memories of Kulah still haunted her sister, but she knew for a fact that until a few months ago, Quylla had no such problem.
After everything that had happened at the White Griffon, Quylla had lost her naivety and put up a thick skin.
After escaping from the Odi ruins, she didn\'t lose a single night sleep and visited several underground ruins.
That and the fact that Quylla didn\'t answer the question, made her sisters worry.
The caves were dark and damp, bearing no trace of previous mining activity.
The Prospectors removed the asperities in the ground and made it coarse so to provide a firm foothold.
After a few hours, the expedition had yet to find any sign of mana crystals or of living creatures dwelling underground.
Before exploring deeper, the Prospectors had to safely enlarge the tunnels and stabilize the complex while the miners collected rock samples that would be later studied at the camp with alchemical equipment.
Phloria had no intention of sitting idly, so she listened to the scouts\' reports, and then she took flight to study the area from above.
Based on what she had seen so far, Phloria ruled out the hypothesis of an illegal mining operation at the hand of human bandits.
No matter how skilled or cautious they might be, humans were bound to leave traces of their passage behind.
They needed light to see in the dark, food to keep their strength, and tools to work.
After long hours of hard work in the mines, even if they still had the energy to close the passages, they were bound to make mistakes.
Undead, on the other hand, needed nothing but a safe haven where to hide during the day.
Day after day, they would make mistakes as well, but to find them one had to think outside of the box.
The entrance to the caves was located in a small clearing that the Prospectors had widened at their arrival but the surrounding terrain was hilly, leaving a lot of places for the undead to hide.
All officers of the Griffon Kingdom had thoroughly studied undead ever since the invasion had become public knowledge and Phloria was no exception.
First, she checked the surrounding area for kilometers, to make sure that the lack of greenery wasn\'t limited only to the caves.
Once that she ruled out the presence of undead plants, she marked all the hills big enough to hide the food stocks that such a strenuous operation would require.
The undead could lay almost anywhere as long as they were shielded from sunlight, but their victims were another story entirely.
They needed food, water, and space.
Be them humans or beasts, once they turned into undead, it was their need to keep the source of their nourishment close to betray their presence.
By the time she was done, the sun was about to set.
Phloria shared her findings with Captain Kortus and Friya while dining together.
My suggestion is to send teams to perform Life Sensing Arrays tomorrow morning.
Undead can dig deep holes for themselves, but the living need air to breathe. She said.
It\'s an excellent plan, Captain Ernas, but I\'m afraid we lack the necessary manpower to put it into action.
The Wardens can either scout the area or expand the caves and I\'m inclined to prioritize the latter. Kortus said with a gentle smile.
I believe you\'re being overly cautious.
We have yet to find any trace of crystals, let alone enemies.
Delaying the exploration would just be a waste of time, especially if it turns out there are no crystal veins.
Every day we spend here is a day when our troops can\'t help those really in need.
If and when we find the vein, I\'ll authorize your plan.
Until then, speed is of the essence.
Yeah, too bad that by then it will be too late. Friya said.
Once we find the crystals, there will be too many assets to defend and our forces will be spread too thin to be effective against a well-executed attack.
I\'ll send my men on-site first thing in the morning.
They are no Wardens, but luckily, Life Sensing arrays are simple and such a huge group of life forces can be detected even by a half-baked spell.
Her words made Kortus\'s face turn into stone.
I need to speak with you in private, Captain Ernas. He stood up, gesturing her to follow him.
Whatever you might have to say, you can do it in front of my sister.
This is my last mission and we have the same rank.
You can\'t order me around and even if you report me, it will not change my situation one bit. Phloria\'s flat tone only made the man turn to a brighter shade of purple.
When I asked you if you had any suggestions, you said you had none.
Yet the next thing you did was to ignore protocol and go exploring on your own.
Now you come back with your crazy theories that your sister is eager to indulge.
This way, if something happens, you\'ll take credit and I\'ll pass for an incompetent.
To make matters worse, if soldiers and mercenaries follow different orders, the teamwork will be disrupted and the trust in the chain of command will falter.
You have all rights to be angry with the army, but that doesn\'t authorize you to undermine my authority nor compromise the mission.
You\'re not a Ranger like your friend, you\'re supposed to play ball. He managed to keep his voice cold but polite.
You are incompetent, otherwise you would have thought about those issues yourself.
I didn\'t share my thoughts earlier because I\'m tired of others taking credit for my ideas, just like I refused to lead the mission because I usually get assigned to me undisciplined soldiers who ignore my orders and then blame me for their failures.
I asked for Friya\'s guild because private contractors prioritize survival over dumb pride or political plays.
All the money on Mogar is pointless if they are too dead to spend it. Phloria said while looking at him straight in the eye.
Bottom line, I\'m done \'playing ball\'.
The mission will succeed because I\'m here, but the number of casualties will depend on how badly you play your cards and it will affect your career.
This time, I won\'t be anyone\'s scapegoat.
Kortus froze in place as his future suddenly looked dark.
He had gladly accepted the mission, planning to use Phloria as a crutch.
If things went well, they would have shared the merits and maybe he would have made connections with the powerful Ernas household.
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