Chapter 824 - v5c16 Valhalla Four Months Later
Valhalla Four Months Later
With Cielmann riverbed, now in flames and ashes under the moonlight, the Madaran army from above was seen to split into several legions, moving towards the direction the river flow towards.
Owl town was left with singular remnants of demolished buildings within every ten-meter radius, and flanking the ruins of the town were countless skeleton soldiers on both sides, the barren lands now reverted to its unilateral sounds of bone clacking.
Between the two endless army lines of the undead were mountain heaps of corpses, the necromancers at that point pre-occupied with choosing bodies near completely intact to reanimate as undead fighters.
The cold snap from the midnight winds of fall, derived from the mountain pass came blowing, seemingly in near synchrony of their eerie spells, leaving the riverbed far more haunting than it already was.
Bloodstaff stood lonesomely against the howling winds of midnight, his Ghoul cloak fluttering as he stood still as a statue, fixated upon a disfigured corpse, one that might have belonged to the Civilian brigade. From the wounds inflicted, it was almost definitely the work of a Phantom of Terror.
Only half his torso was left, his hand still clenching on a rock, one could only imagine how desperate he was to break free of his destiny, but the Phantom of Terror never ceded, and tore his person into half.
Turning towards the far end of the riverbed, the war had ended, nothing alive was left standing in the radius as far as the eye could perceive.
They had achieved complete victory.
As written in the Book of Dark Prophecy, the Eastern Dark kingdom shall rise again.
“Those pathetic Aouine scum must have died not knowing what’s coming for them,” Stood close behind Bloodstaff was a hauntingly pale young man as he remarked, his teeth white as snow.
He had no fangs, and his eyes did not burn with Soul fire as the Black knights did, nor were there any psychic runes on his body. He was no mage of the Undead.
Dressed in a spotless black gown, it was as if he was ready to attend a funeral.
He took a deep breath as he commented, “The magic in these lands was fragrant, sweet as nectar. If this is in the Seas of the Dying Moon, only the Supreme Leader is worthy to rule this land.”
He turned towards Bloodstaff, with pity and arrogance he cynically shook his head, “I can’t seem to fathom, Bloodstaff, how you’d lose to an opponent this pitiful. Regardless, these pathetic insects do not deserve a land this precious, we shall leave this kingdom with only graves and tombstones.”
Bloodstaff scoffed at his remark. These Darkened lords originated from the Seas of the Dying Moon, and legend had it that the Undead mages from those magic-barren lands were ruthless to one another for as long as time was recorded, due to their thirst for magic. Those were the grounds of the Four Wars.
Nevertheless, these despicable individuals were exceptionally powerful, and had invented a spell to draw the half ethereal half bodily Phantoms of Terror from the corpses of Winged dragons, and the spells for Necromancers to command Skeletal Knights, resulting in the greatly improved might of their legion.
With their enhanced armies at play, Aouine was no longer deemed a worthy opponent. To them, be it the Southern Legions or the Vanmier Legions, were hardly any resistance, the only ones they were looking forward to crossing arms with were the Highland Knights.
“There are rumors that the human kingdoms have a White Lion Legion in the north, I wonder how they fight?” The younger of the two proclaimed.
“There was, mind you, for the Southern legion had destroyed them. According to our knowledge, the little princess of theirs have disbanded the army built by her own brother, now it is no longer of any value to this kingdom.”
Aouine’s North-South civil war had only ended for less than four months, Bloodstaff naturally was not clear of the details involved. Regardless, countless rumors and personal experiences from the losing side had seeped into the Darkened kingdom, and he too had chosen to piece the news together into one most would agree to be plausible.
“Then it is not worth a mention.”
The words of contempt from the younger individual resonated beyond with the winds of night, over their heads and into the putrid air. A Phantom of Terror soared through the starry night sky, letting out a deafening screech that shook the earth.
Dozens of similar winged beasts spanned across the riverbed region, ravaging everything that crossed their paths.
From above the clouds, speckles of nether light dotted across the region, forming three immensely orderly rows, like serpents slithering towards its next prey. The serpents’ heads had now crossed beyond the Grinoires passageway and into the Slofavien region. Ahead of them, were the vast low lands terrain.
That was where the Regional Administrative capital, Kurkel Castle was located.
Further away in the Eastern hills region, around the edge of the forests were a small array of fourteen men.
“One, two, three, four…” A malnourished young man with jaundiced skin counted under his breath upon the lights he witnessed down in the riverbed regions.
The closest patch of light from that distance was only the size of fingernails, those even further away were like specks of glowing sand, panned across the entire Cielmann riverbed, leaving the young man paler than he already was.
Once he was done counting, he turned over to the others, “The White Winged Cavalries must have been completely wiped out. Owl town, Roden, Motown, all destroyed in the wake, I’m guessing survivors must be few and far between. Big Thumb and the others came back just a few days ago from Roden and mentioned there weren’t many who fled.
These people must be all dead.”
“You really don’t need to go into details, it’s painful to hear,” The youths on horseback sneered at this declaration. If it was any other day they would be applauding the demise of the White Winged Cavalries, but today, to witness the massacre of entire towns along with them left a bad taste.
Every patch of fire in the darkness were countless lives, now dead, which reminded them of their hometowns, and like the lord commander once mentioned, maybe one day the entire Aouine would end up like this, it was a thought that weighed on them.
The entire party at that moment reacted almost in unison, turning towards the young man in a vest at the far end. Carglise lowered his brass telescope and handed it over to the fledging White Lion Battalion officer.
After the battle of Ampere Seale, this man along with his equally youthful compatriots had matured beyond their delinquency from when their days in Trentheim, and now resembled more of a legitimate militant.
He watched upon his band of young men dressed in Highlander clothing, amongst them must be the ones the Lord commander had rescued from the Schafflund’s silver mine.
Brendel once mentioned that these men were born to achieve. He was initially hesitant, but now, with ample evidence, he could safely admit that the lord was right after all, word for word. His talent in predicting the future was truly impeccable.
The youngster named Cowan led the people away from Schafflund, across the Glahar mountains, ambushing the mines within Southern Tusankard Forest when the Southern armies were absent, broken out an army of penal workers, and led them eastward into the Cielmann areas. From them, a renegade community was created amongst their own within these hills.
Cowan made himself king of the mountains, despite being unable to shed the bandits’ perception of his band of merry men from the eyes of the outsiders. These men that he had chosen to break free were specifically the ones penalized for dismissing Nobles, the most genuine of characters and the strongest of wills. Even though they might seem rough on the edges for many, thick-headed even, but there were merits to be discovered from these selected bunch.
The young man especially was not to be underestimated. Carglise contemplated.
“Mr. Carglise, what now, shall we return for the night?” Right then, a younger man on horseback by the side took to ask.
“Shh,” Carglise raised a finger before his lip, hinting at them to stay silent.
“What is the situation?”
The merry band hastily retreated from the flat peaks of the hilltops into the forests from where they came.
About a minute later, a loud gush was heard from above their heads.
The younger men cowering under the bulky trees petrifyingly watched on as silhouettes hovered over them, there were seven in total, flying past one after another. Carglise was the first to pull his horse from lower ground, the White Lion officer shook his head as he blurted, “That’s not a Bone vulture, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Is that a skeletal dragon?” The youngsters babbled within themselves.
Carglise held his hand over his mouth as he shook his head. It was not a Skeletal dragon, for the Skeletal dragons were still dragons, and they carry with them a higher status among the Madara creatures, instilling fear internally and beyond.
He had also met Aloz at Valhalla and was slightly familiar with the mannerisms of a Dragon species. Those that had just flown past him were notably absent of any sign of pride or status, and even for Skeletal dragons, they were significantly smaller.
“They seemed to be looking for a certain something,” Carglise replied, “We’ll stand back and wait it out. They wouldn’t find us as easily in the hills, we’ll wait till dawn, by then the Undead will retreat to defense positions, we can always return by then.”
Dozens of Skeletal knights gave chase across the mountain paths, the metal chainmail on their warhorses clanking and banging as the hoofs clucked across the ground. The galloping however sounded nothing like ordinary horses, they were hollow and empty-ended, easily identifiable as Nether creatures grazing the world of the living.
Eyeing below on towards the valley, the burning soul fire from their eye sockets gazed upon the two frantically escaping human cavalries. They have been taking this route for half an hour now, their mounts visibly reaching their limits.
The leader amongst the Skeletal Knights pointed his Netherworld Iron Scimitar at the direction of the deserters, and upon the signal two dozens Skeletal Knights immediately gave chase, sprinting into the woods and down the slope.
In this terrain, despite the vegetation still being rather untangled, a noticeable number of Skeletal Knights still ran straight into centuries-old trees and smashed their skeleton structures into hundreds of loose bones upon contact. The remaining undead did not bother to turn around to peek at the welfare of their compatriots, for they had only one goal, and it was the track down the prisoners of war.
Running through a hundred meters of forest terrain, they were thrust into grassland territory.
Evan turned back and caught a fair glimpse of the scene. Under the illuminating moonlight, eleven bone structures resembling knights and their mounts sprinted, identifiable by their soul-piercing demonic flames as eyes, came dashing out of the dense forests. Their barren skeletal structures held lances and scimitars gleaming in the moonlight, terrorizing the teenage boy who bothered to peek.
“Shonnary, we’re so dead!”
“Shut the hell up!” Shonnary lambasted, yet deep down knew his life might have come to its timely end in these unwelcoming lands, in the hands of skeletons with infinite stamina to waste away.
They might be giving chase until the break of dawn, but dawn was still hours away. After sprinting at top speeds for thus long, even on mountainous terrain, he knew even the warhorses were closing upon their limits.
“Hey, little brat,” He yelled across.
“What?” Evan huffed and puffed as he replied, his face pale as a ghost, cold sweat dripping down his forehead like he was sick for a plague.
His horseriding skills were the bare minimum and were only trained for leisure horseriding for daily duties. In the face of looming death, however, it was a miracle he had managed to keep the warhorse sprinting in the right direction for this long.
But across all that he experienced within the last few hours, there were more close calls than he would like for several lifetimes, and if it were not for successive strokes of luck, he would have fallen off the cliffs or ran right into the treelines through the dense forests.
“I’ll lead them away, you keep east back into the forests. Once you hit the parts too thick for the horse to proceed, leave her and rush in on foot. Once you get in there you’ll be safe,” Shonnary panted as he advised.
The teenager was petrified. Watching the back of the veteran cavalry, he nearly burst into tears, but painfully tucked it in, “No, we broke free together. You’ve rescued me, I will not leave you, I cannot!”
“If you can’t do it we’re both gonna die you idiot,” Shonnary rebuked.
“Then so be it!”
‘Stop this bullshit kid, we got no reason to give them the satisfaction of getting us both,” Shonnary reprimanded, before he mumbled, “Even if they did, not like it’s that big of an achievement.”
“Then I’ll draw them away. You’ve risked your life for mine once, I’ll repay the favor. That way we’re even,” Evan replied.
Shonnary was dumbfounded as he scoffed, “Cut it out, with your shitty riding skills it’s Marsha’s blessing that you made it this far without dying, now you wanna draw them away? What difference is it gonna make?”
Evan was frustrated beyond means, but none of that said were not the truth.
“Enough talk, you have a fiancee to reunite with, I don’t have anything tying me to this world anymore. I’ll break some chair support in a moment, you’re gonna live and work my part when all of this is over.”
The veteran cavalry shook his head as he continued on, “Listen, newbie, stop acting like a pussy. The favors you owe in battle would stack more than the grains in your dinner bowl. I’ve owed my old comrades too much, and now is my turn to return the favor. You wanna thank me? You best live on.”
Evan stared blankly at him, Shonnary’s determination was clear as day, his resolution decisive and final. Clenching on his teeth, he tried his best not to tear up, yet words could not be muttered as he nodded.
“That’s a good boy.”
Shonnary seemed to be mumbling on to himself, before then unanticipatedly let out a war cry, clenched onto the ropes on his horse, turn his mount around, and went charging towards the Skeletal Knights.
Under the howling winds, it sounded like the roar of a beast.
The teen eventually managed to phrase his words together. “For Aouine.”
Evan then adjusted his gaze forward, tirelessly pushed his warhorse forward, as Shonnary gradually faded into the background.
On the other hand, Shonnary rushed into enemy lines, his sword quickly cut down a Skeletal Knight from his mount, then proceeded to slice through their formation. The simpleton undead was caught off-guard by the sudden change of reaction by their mortal prey, some that had gone beyond stiffly changed course back towards him.
From Evan’s perspective, both his ally and his pursuers vanished from sight. For now at least.
Seconds later, he caught hold of a faint howl from within the corners of the forests.
“You damn skeleton bastards, go back to hell you fucks!”
Evan began coughing vigorously, it was as if the air choked on his windpipe. Yet, he knew that the diversion that Shonnary gifted to him was limited, the skeletons would catch up soon if he falters, he needs to stay vigilant. He needs to make it to the forest.
In the horizons were open meadows at the base of the mountains, flat as the eye could see. Slightly distant were loose forests that were wide and spaced out. It would not suffice to evade the chasing Skeletal Knights.
He frantically pushed his mount forward, circling past the large patch of open forests, strode across what felt like endless grasslands, and then beyond the far edges of the horizon, was a faint patch of black.
Evan was exhilarated. However, it was short as it lasted knowing how far away it was, at least several miles of meadow more. He wouldn’t even place faith on the warhorse going this far more.
Hollow hoofbeats were heard once again across the far end of the horizon. Turning back, his soul froze. There were indeed several Skeletal Knights giving chase by the edge of the preceding forests. As they all came to sight, there were seven in pursuit, four were brought down by Shonnary alone, but even then, he was gravely outnumbered.
“No, I have to live on!” Evan clenched his teeth. His life doesn’t just belong to him now. He had to fight on for his fiancee, for Shonnary, and no matter what stands between that, he had to fight on.
He tightened his legs on the mount, hoping the spurs could push the warhorse a little more, breaking the distance between himself and his pursuers.
Yet right then, Evan could feel his torso lighter than ever, like a huge force dragging him from behind as he hovered into the air, and then painfully collapsing on the ground.
His fall was ill-prepared and as a result, he belatedly felt the pain from the bruises all over his body. It took a while to process what he had just experienced, but as he clawed his way through the dirt, he took a glimpse of his mount, now collapsed on the ground, foaming within its mouth.
Evan can’t help but scream into the night, just about a hundred meters more to safety, but at the nick of time his luck ran out.
He struggled to his feet but promptly collapsed onto the ground from immense pain.
Only then did he realize he fractured one of his legs. The silver luminescence of the moonlight refracted over the thick trees and scattered upon the town square, far less crowded than it usually was.
Brendel stood by the balcony of the town hall, peering upon the serene wilderness and forests on the far end of the Southern region. Valhalla four months later had fully incorporated the structure of a small town. The age-old colossal tree stood towering amidst the spaces encircled by the Northern Schafflund mountain ranges, the width of the shade extended to almost an entire kilometer, canopying over the town below.
The inhabitants of the town included the tree elves, Green villagers, and a visible population of humans, most of which were from the Valhalla Wind Archers squad, while the rest were largely new Kirrlutzian residents. The remaining few were the youngsters of the Folded Sword Squad, who now too had taken residence in the lower city areas.
Valhalla’s massive root system separated the town into four distinct districts.
The newly constructed military camps, the work of the light spirits were located in the western district.
From the plaza above, the structure of the western district was neatly arranged in a grid system, its praiseworthy city design tracing right back to Odum.
As the descendant of the Rune Dwarves, he did retain much of their qualities and was the main protagonist for the city planning of Valhalla.
The western district was further divided into two main street areas of north and south, separated by a wide, well-paved road right in the center. The road also extended across the other districts and encircled the entire town in a loop, which Brendel wittily nicknamed the intercity highway. Naturally, no one in this world actually understood what it meant. Nevertheless, after a while, the common term stuck and now it was now a name thoroughly accepted.
The intercity highway was also part of Odum’s creation, clearly modeled after Valhalla’s two existing orbits above and under, hence the highway was thus also coined “the third orbit”.
The structural design of the orbit was brilliant without question, but Brendel was also aware that the elderly dwarf was in further discussion with gentle Monica to connect Valhalla’s root to its center by installing a cross-section intersection at the core of the tree trunk, and through its interior connecting all three orbits into one extended route, officially connecting the entire town.
The benefits of the design were naturally no surprise to Brendel, who comprehensibly was the only one who had experienced urban city planning and its benefits, but for Odum, who prioritized the defense of the city first and foremost, connecting the areas together would be beneficial in the creation of a stronghold of the town.
In regards to this proposal, Monica was rather welcoming to the idea. Given how massive Valhalla was, to open a passageway through its core would not pose any significant issues owing much to the fact that it was not a living tree, but in all intents and purposes a magic-fuelled city.
In the North-South street areas of the western district, the North area majorly consisted of a military camp, and certain structures resembling human buildings. Noble military camps to be exact.
The Noble army camps of Aouine were essentially the same as all other human nations, it consisted of training grounds and barracks. According to game theory, however, it was a functional building, a type of building that would raise the speed for army training and offer a boost to stationed army spirits. They were significant buffs but not too flashy.
Brendel considered that the constructions would generally improve the discipline within the army, just that the game digitized it into stats.
The White Lion Battalion was stationed in the army camp, directly across the Wind Archers by North area. Nevertheless, this massive district housed only those two main functional buildings mentioned, hence appearing rather empty from the outside. Regardless, they were far more developed than the other three districts that were at this point still largely vacant.
Brendel wanted to move the entire Coldwood city to Valhalla, for which he believed the secret of the city under the gargantuan tree cannot remain a secret for much longer. As Odum ordered the construction of the city’s outer walls, many had already guessed the Lord commander’s intention for the future of Valhalla.
They however could not have guessed the gist of this myth that laid within. Brendel announced to the world that this was the Elven great tree that was planted by the tree elves, given his close acquaintance with the druids, nobody found his explanation the least peculiar. After all, many towering trees in the Black Forest were sighted by the druids, and cities were built upon its structures anyway.
Maybe one day the Valhalla lie would be revealed to the world, but Brendel was not worried the least. After all, he expected not much was required for him to hide by then anyway.
But for now, at least, Valhalla was still notably vulnerable and fragile, and would still require extensive measures to shelter its development.
Besides the few closest to him, everyone else essentially took his tall tale to heart.
Even Veronica who had personally taken to visiting Valhalla was convinced it was a gift by the druids to Brendel. Regardless, without the legendary fort to rely on, Valhalla was currently far from the myths she assumed, for she was aware that the fort was well buried within the Loop of Trade winds.
As for the others, including the youths of the Folded Sword Squad, were in much anticipation upon being drafted by Brendel himself to the tree.
Amongst them were some who were told by the Lady of the Flowerleaf Ranges about the magnificence of this tree city, and felt beyond honored to be chosen to visit and reside within it in person.
They were enthusiastic, to say the least.
It was not the first time the female scholar came to him in the request for permits to visit the city, Brendel recalled. Even though Monica was skeptical towards having foreigners loitering in the city, Brendel, excluding the core areas of the interior Valhalla, offered Shido free reins around the city. From the bottom orbit all the way to the Upper orbit platform, she was permitted to visit wherever she pleases. His generous actions further dispel the suspicion the residents had, among which included the crown prince.
The youths of the Folded Sword Squad by then were still temporarily residing in the North area. Multiple tents were set up across the vacant spaces, while army facilities and the respective plans intended for them were still in planning stages.
For the past four months, Monica’s clansmen had increased in population to nearly five hundred strong. Now they were omnipresent in the canopy, like fairies glittering through the leaves and branches. Under their oversight, Valhalla’s construction had grown faster by the day.
Nevertheless, the growth of the city however would be panned out, as Monica had put it, and to enter into the next stage would require at least a few more years.
On one hand, it was because the supply of magic had reached its threshold. Valhalla and its incessant need for magic power was a black hole in itself, but now that two-thirds of the Black Forest crystals had already been extracted to the city, it would only be enough to sustain existing usage.
Trentheim’s reliance on the sales of Magic crystals had greatly reduced for the past few months, which Amandina had in one way or another reminded him about.
Nonetheless, the business lady was rather optimistic about the situation, after all, she was aware from the start that the trade of magic crystals would not be sustainable long-term anyway, so any insistence on the continuation of its sales would be futile, not to mention the sensitivity of the product in the eyes of the black market.
In usual cases, one crystal mine would produce high purity crystals for the first few months, followed by a long period of drought that would require miners to venture deeper and deeper into the mines, while the production greatly decreases as the years go by.
Just like the discovery of the crystal mine within the Black Forest, which was a rare finding on its own, if Trentheim were to continue exporting high purity magic crystals, it would lead to rumors that there was a high volume crystal mine within the region, bringing in unwanted attention.
Now that Valhalla required materials to grow, it would justify the expected reduced exportation of mined crystals.
As for the diminishing revenue source, the excavation of other resources and specialties within the Black Forest would gradually balance out the checkbook.
Crucially, most resources within the territory were achieving levels of self-sustainability, and as such greatly negated the economical reliance upon foreign imports.
As for the population of the light spirits, Monica and five hundred of her clansmen successfully pushed forward the development of Valhalla from stage one to stage two in a time period slightly shy of half a year.
With limited manpower however, that was as far as the pace could go. With just the force of her community at work, to proceed into stage three would require at least five years more, and if Brendel were to shorten the time to a year, he would require a population of at least two to three thousand light spirits in total.
The Vortex of Light’s production was still at its constant of twenty a month, while the Moon tower was now in Coldwood castle in service to Ciel’s mage tower.
Weighing in the nurturing of Trentheim’s first, very own batch of mage disciples, to further boost the production of the Vortex of Light, even if the production of light spirits were to multiply, achieving the target population would require a few years, and was evidently not worth the effort.
His only plan now was to focus on the development of the base, at the very least ensuring that Valhalla was self-sufficient. As for the strategies to balance investments with revenue, it was well expected to be a long-running process and further implementations were to be taken. There were many solutions to increase the ability of magic and production, but it would have to be procedural.
Valhalla now only had buildings such as the crystal pools, mage tower, Vortex of Light, and the Moon Tower, but Brendel knew that the aforementioned high-level buildings could greatly improve the development of the territory.
Then again, more blueprints would be required, along with more Magic pools.
While contemplating the issues of concern, Brendel took a deep breath and finally turned his sights away from the city districts back indoors as he headed inwards from the balcony into the hall.
As night fell, the Hall of Tree Valhalla became merrier than it was when the sun was out.
Excluding Carglise, nearly every single captain of the White Lion Battalion was present, along with their counterparts, the leaders of the Folded Sword Squad, Medissa, Hipamila, Amandina, Ciel, and a few other mercenary squad leaders on the other side of the hall.
Brendel’s old subordinates and his trusted companions all rallied within their own circles, while the odd group remaining was notably the one consisting of the Crown prince and Shido, along with the Laurenna couple and the young prince Haruz. Nonetheless, the isolation of the Crown Prince from the youths of the Folded Sword Squad was what initially left Brendel rather perplexed.
But it did not take long before he made several in-depth deductions. The Folded Sword Squad appeared to be avoiding any chances of dismissing the crown prince in a venue that was not their own. It was a political statement.
Be it due to his status as a guest or that he saw no need for action, Lenarette was well aware that Brendel could not possibly attract these capable youths completely under his wing, for these young Kirrlutzians were loyal to their kingdom, where their families, their future and their prospects laid.
If Aouine was a massive empire the way their Kirrlutz homeland were, it might spell attraction for these young talents, but Aouine was but a petite kingdom in the grand scale of the world, and they knew there was no reason these Folded Sword Squad youths would pledge allegiance to the minnow Count of Trentheim.
With that laid bare, the Crown Prince naturally saw no reason to partake in the conversations or activities of the mid-low level civil servants of his own empire, he was royalty, and he preferred to make clear his supreme right as their succeeding monarch.
The Crown prince must have given it a good thought and well understood that if he were to command this squad, he needed to present to his subjects a sign of reverence that demanded respect, for the Folded Sword Squad by name were obliged to swear loyalty to the Crown.
Everyone knew the underlying meaning of his intentional distancing, for the Nobles had always prized the uphold of their reputation, more so for the royal class. Nobody took to reach out to the Crown Prince, and neither did he to anyone, for it was plain clear that he sought exclusivity, and even the Folded Sword Squad knew not to challenge him.
Henceforth, Brendel could only proceed exactly as planned. Might just be why Veronica, Mangrove, and the lot agreed to let me keep them. He thought to himself.
Brendel realized he might have begun to take them for granted as he shook his head. Gotta set it straight, these men were never going to join our legion anyway. It’s a deal for them to fight Madara on our side.
As the Eastern kingdom in the shadows grew more powerful by the day, Brendel knew his own intensively trained White Lion Battalion might be gallant in the context of Aouine, but compared to the Kirrlutzian exclusive operations squad, the Folded Sword Squad, there was an undeniable gap in their prowess.
The key point was that he no longer had much time left until the Second War of the Black Roses would unanimously begin. By then, if the Aouine army were not fully militarized and ready for battle, it would akin to entering a brawl of beasts whilst defanged and declawed.
A lone Freya was evidently not enough.
Would the Folded Sword Squad suffice?
Entering the hall, the starkly divided groups were still in a heated argument, it was a messy yet bustling sight. Their argument mostly revolved around whether to strike Count Radner or Madara’s Undead legion first. Brendel shifted his gaze inches higher towards the massive Aouine map on the wall, and on it was a big, red cross struck across the Cielmann region.
The White Winged Cavalries were defeated.
The events unfolded exactly like the history lore, the only difference this time around was that he had already taken to warn the Nobles of the Grinoires region, and yet once again they made the same mistake.
Initially, the royal sect and himself had an intense argument on whether to break the news to Duke Grinoires, as Sir Makarov’s original plan was to trick Bloodstaff and his legion into the designated area and thoroughly lay waste upon the invaders, but that meant secrecy was key.
If they don’t notify House Grinoires, regardless of how the battle will turn out, the princess might risk losing public trust, and most importantly causing significant damages to the population of the Cielmann and Bucce regions.
Ultimately, Her Grace the princess wrote a letter to the Duke clarifying the incident, for Brendel found it rather amusing how some among the royal sect had their petty reasons to justify their actions.
It’s been one year since the last war, and both Madara and Aouine had already been keeping each other at arm’s distance, deeply wary of one another. If one side were to brazenly strengthen their army for war, while the other did nothing of semblance, it would further raise the suspicion of the other. After all, it was no longer the Year of Summer Blossoms and Leaves, it was the closing season of the Year of the Sword.
Brendel found it further depressing that the events turned out the way they did, while simultaneously deepening his detestation of the feudal Noble hierarchy of a bygone era. To think these impotent dickheads are the descendants of the Ancestral Nobles, what a disgrace to this social class!
Letting out a sigh, he was certain that Bloodstaff would charge right towards Viero, just like it was stated in the history lore.
It was ubiquitously known that he was scheming with Radner by now, but they naturally had different goals to achieve. Bloodstaff’s goal was to conquer the Grinoires and Viero regions, which in turn cutting off Karsuk from the rest of what remains of Aouine.
Only with achievements like this could he justify his lone war with Aouine in the eyes of the Supreme Leader of Madara. Only by elevating the status of the Supreme leader could he dampen the distrust his monarchy had on himself. Otherwise, he was bound for eventual eradication.
But Count Radner was different, his goal was to align with Madara, and in turn obtain a strategically advantageous piece of land for himself. By now, he had broken all ties he once had with the royal sect entirely.
The outcome he sought would be to declare independence from Aouine, and build a third-party buffer state in between both the kingdoms. Even if all were to fail, he could still retreat into Madara.
With that said, the lands he was eyeing were naturally the Cielmann and Slofavien regions, but he did share a similar target with Bloodstaff, and that was Castle Kurco.
However, given the positioning of his troops, Radner had the advantage in proximity over Bloodstaff for Castle Kurco. With his usual antics at play, he would have pledged to the crown to send reinforcements to the gates of Castle Kurco way before it was known that he was scheming with Madara. After all, that would require the least effort.
Even if his plans were to be exposed, it would be a walk in the park if he were to besiege the castle now. Knowing now that Bloodstaff no longer had any obstructions on his path within Aouine, the Vanmier Legion would be sent deep south from Praguesse to prevent further invasion by the Undead Legion. By then, the back flank of the castle would be shabbily defended, it would be no match to Radner’s army.
But that was just an assumption.
For there were still unexpecting foes that were awaiting Radner to fall into his own trap. The outcome of this war for Radner and Bloodstaff was already decided, what they needed to plan now was how.
Cutting short his own thought process, Brendel made way back by Maynild’s side, her gaze unwaveringly fixated upon the terrain map on the strategy desk.
She noticed Brendel approaching and turned over to face him, with a whisper she remarked,
“Since returning from the Deadly Tundra Forest, you’ve gotten stronger.”
Brendel was baffled, it was the first time his senior had shown any semblance of an initiative to start a private conversation with him since his return from the Deadly Tundra Forest.
He nodded without any reply. The experience from the final battle with Milos was almost entirely shared between Freya and himself, and even though he wasn’t sure if anyone else received any benefit from the battle, to him at least, it was a massive reward, on par even to that of even the Loop of Trade Winds.
The Holy Knight and Mercenary classes had been raised to their peak by Brendel, thereafter any stats increase for both ascended classes was no longer required.
The Guardian of the Lost Earth obtained from Seibers was now unlocked. Brendel however was hesitant to allocate experience upon it at the meantime, given that high-ranking classes had many branches of enhancements that could be made. It was a decision he had to choose wisely.
Maynild quietly glanced over to him, before she followed up with another question, “You kept Dark Korfa and Kind Korfa behind, was it for Hati?”
Brendel was caught off guard, thinking if that was her actual inquiry.
“You felt them?” He asked.
“It differs from the game.” The female knight replied.
“The future of this world.”
Evan was distraught as the nightmarish riders closed in to where he sat, he held his eyes shut, accepting his fate.
Just then, a silver beam shone through the darkness of the forest before him. A silver beam he felt, prompting him to open his eyes once more, was almost unfathomable to Evan.
Before he could react, the Skeletal Knight first in line came crashing down his horse. His hollow skull pierced through with a still vibrating arrow, right at its core.
What seemed like a light at the end of a dark tunnel was just merely the beginning. Before he could fathom what was about to come, roughly two dozen silhouettes came dashing out of the forests, they were cavalries, but were not affiliated with the White Winged brigades. As the third party approached them, he got a good look at their armors, shimmering under the moonlight, and on the armors, the golden mane of a roaring lion.
Knights brushed past him from the opposite direction, thunderous gallops were heard, the teenager felt like he was dreaming. Within the deepest corners of his memories, he recalled that he was once informed of this specific army.
“Soldiers, keep close to me, we’ll crush these boneheads!”
Carglise’s roar echoed through the valley.