The Light Parliament mobilizing their troops to the border had captured the attention of the entire continent. However, the people refused to believe that the Country of Light and Country of Darkness would go into war. After all, they knew that such clashes had always existed and were well aware that the Light Parliament would be so unyielding. Therefore, the Light Parliament mobilizing their troops was only making a tough stand. Sometimes, international politics were like two people pointing at each other's nose and taunting: "Hit me if you dare!", "Touch me and I will kill you!", or "Come on, I'm not afraid of you!"...
Even though both sides cursed while spitting saliva across, neither would do anything even if the situation escalated. Therefore, everyone was only concerned about the clash between them at a general level. They believed that the Light Parliament was only expressing their tough stance to regain support from the people and wouldn't send out their troops to attack the Country of Darkness.
Indeed. That was their intention. But the Country of Darkness might have other ideas!
Unlike the Country of Light with an accumulation of contradictions and internal and external problems, the Country of Darkness could be said to have expanded in strength and thrived under the guidance of Dark Dragon, Ion. They possessed formidable military forces, wealth, and apart from the four largest families led by the four legendary generals, various smaller family forces were also rising. Ion was clear that there was only one path to take on if the Country of Darkness yearned to unleash all their potential. If they didn't expand their forces, they would inevitably get into a conflict with the four legendary generals as the emerging families rose in forces-there were possibilities of internal wars and disputes. The Dark Dragon was neither Lilian nor the Light Parliament, so he definitely wouldn't allow such calamities to happen under his watchful eyes. Starting a war, dominating the territories, and expanding their forces was the inevitable ending.
Rhode had gotten ready as soon as he heard of the possible upcoming war. The Country of Darkness didn't retaliate up until this point while the Light Parliament continued to clamor for attention, and that was all. Neither did the Country of Darkness mobilize their army nor sternly warn the Light Parliament. Therefore, everyone saw this as only an ordinary international conflict.
But Rhode was clear that the Country of Darkness had no need to mobilize their army. All they were doing now was concealing their true motive. This was what they did in the game: paralyze the opposition before launching lightning swift raids in one swoop.
The undead properties of the Country of Darkness's undead army proved that there were no flaws in their blitzes. As Undead Creatures, they didn't need to replenish their health on the spot and could mobilize their army beforehand. Besides, they wouldn't feel exhausted and could travel day and night constantly. As long as Necromancers were present, the corpses on the battlefield would be awakened by them to become a part of their forces. In addition, the corpses were tireless and fearless of death, which decided that almost no one could resist their attacks whenever the undead army mobilized.
This was one of the reasons why the Country of Light fell a thousand miles in the game. After all, they were humans with lives and would naturally feel fatigue, exhaustion, and fear. Facing such a tactic from the Country of Darkness, the Country of Light had no means of resistance at all. It was only until later, after they sacrificed a large portion of their territories and manpower to rely on the mighty fortress and defensive line, that they defended against the Undead Creatures' attack. However, as any solid defenses would crumble from the inside first. Rhode led the players from the rear and seized the chance to wipe out the Light Parliament before the Country of Darkness managed to.
Even though the Light Parliament would still be destroyed by the Country of Darkness even if Rhode didn't take action, that didn't mean that the strategy to defend to their deaths was useless. Most importantly, although the Light Parliament was a group of good-for-nothing, adopting the strategy to defend to their deaths could slow down the Undead Creatures' attack to a certain extent. This was proven to be an effective strategy against the Country of Darkness. After all, blitzes were to catch enemies off guard with a surprise attack and it wouldn't be too effective if the enemies were ready for it.
Of course. Rhode didn't forget about sending reports to Lydia to warn her of the possibilities of the Country of Darkness launching an ambush. This time, he didn't bother to disguise his knowledge and had written the report based on the analysis of players on the forums about the cause of this war. He had also expressed to Lydia that he was 100 percent sure the Country of Darkness would take advantage of the situation to invade the Country of Light and Munn Kingdom. After all, it would be hard for the Munn Kingdom to avoid getting caught in the crossfire based on its geographical location.
However, Lydia's response left Rhode dumbfounded. This eccentric Royal Highness didn't mention her opinion in her reply letter. Instead, she sent an internal meeting record on this matter regarding the Country of Light. It could be seen from this document that most people believed that this conflict was as per usual, where the Light Parliament had embarrassed themselves during the Dragon Soul Ceremony and used this chance to recover. Even though they also agreed that there were risks and didn't believe that the Country of Darkness would launch an ambush, Rhode could see that instead of believing that the Country of Darkness wouldn't start a war, the people were 'wishing' that the Country of Darkness wouldn't. No matter what, the Country of Light and the Country of Darkness were the largest nations on this continent. The instant a war broke out between them, the consequences would be devastating. Besides, as both countries were powerful, it wouldn't be as simple as a large country devouring a smaller country or a short-lived war between two weak countries. Speaking in exaggeration, this war might last for years, decades, or even centuries-and this wasn't a groundless fear. Come to think of it, back then, many races went extinct in that devastating Creation War that fought for centuries. Moreover, some races also split up like the Elves and Dark Elves, and Angels and Fallen Angels. This time, no one knew if this war between both nations would become another Creation War.
Everyone's concern was not just out of fear of this imaginary war. They believed that as soon as the Country of Darkness went all out, there would be disastrous consequences and perhaps the Country of Darkness might develop some misunderstandings or ill intentions toward them. Rhode snorted disdainfully. But he had to admit that these sayings weren't all dependent on weakness.
Other countries had a huge weakness against the Country of Darkness and that was that they couldn't receive any information regarding the higher-ups of the Country of Darkness. The reason was simple. The higher-ups of the Country of Darkness were mainly Necromancers, Vampires, Death Knights, Dark Elves, and others who were capable of reading and manipulating minds. Vampires could extract information from the blood of their preys. The Necromancer could exploit every intelligence from the brains of the dead. Dark Elves had a unique spell to judge if the other party was lying. In this dark country, they would use these skills almost without any moral restrictions and no one would despise them for it. The Country of Darkness was a formidable nation and as long as one was capable, one would be right no matter what one did. Even if one wasn't strong enough, one could still be made use of as long as one was loyal. But those who weren't strong and were always daydreaming would become the prey of others.
It was due to this that it was harder for people to gather intelligence in such a country than climb to heaven. Even if they could get their hands on thought-provoking artifacts or had immunity against mind-reading spells, they would still be captured by the Undead Creatures and locked up for research as soon as they were discovered. When that happened, not only would they not attain any intelligence, but they would also reveal absolute classified information after the Undead Creatures extracted them from the blood and brain.
It was due to this that there were basically no countries on the Light Mainland that dared to send spies into the Country of Darkness. The best that they could do was to send Humans to mix with the underclass. But there was limited information in those places and it wouldn't be effective. On the other hand, many nobles and high officials in the Light Mainland were willing to betray their souls and intelligence to the Undead Creatures in exchange for false, eternal lives.
Unable to receive accurate intelligence meant that one couldn't have accurate judgment of their enemies. Therefore, many people judged the Country of Darkness based on what they had done. But everyone knew that this sort of evaluation wasn't reliable.
However, not everyone thought so because there was one person who had a clear-cut stand on Rhode's side in this meeting record: Gaya.
She had clearly indicated that according to the report from the Eastern Plains, there was a massive decrease in the number of Undead Creatures and invasions, where many times were just routine businesses. Although they were usually doing routine business, it felt more like they were putting up a show now and they weren't true battles. Therefore, she had reason to believe that the Undead Creatures were planning a huge event. Besides, as one born in the Eastern Plains, Gaya would perceive the Undead Creatures' intentions in the worst way possible, so she wouldn't believe that the Country of Darkness was being sincere no matter what they said. This happened to be the same view as Rhode's. How foolish would it be to believe that the dead could live harmoniously with mortals...
The parties with different opinions struggled endlessly in the entire meeting while Lydia didn't mention a word. In the end, the final record consisted of opinions which indicated that they wouldn't take public precautions, but would be on guard privately instead. Rhode realized that even though Lydia didn't openly announce that she would mobilize the Battle Angel Army for defense, it was ambiguously expressed.
Rhode shrugged. In fact, the results were somewhat better and worse than he had expected because he didn't know how effective the private preparations would be. But fortunately, at least the Munn Kingdom was mentally prepared for the Country of Darkness's attack after this meeting. Therefore, they wouldn't crumble instantly even if they were ambushed. As for the Country of Light, Rhode had no interest in minding their business. He also wasn't aware if Lydia would warn Lilian about it. Although Lilian was trying her best, Rhode knew that she was too weak. Such weakness wasn't merely her age and strength, but more of an ability to command such a large-scale battle. In the end, the Light Parliament would still take authority over her.
He might as well count on himself than count on the Country of Light.
Within this period, Rhode had been working with a low profile. He used the excuse of an increased number of private soldiers to purchase foodstuff through the Silver Libra Trade Association and also decreased the production of magical potions to the public. Rhode also remain tight-lipped within the fortress. He had discussed this with others, but Marlene and Lize thought that such a massive war wouldn't break out anytime soon. On the contrary, Old Walker agreed with Rhode's views. But the latter didn't mention much and merely got them to manage their individual duties.
The days went by.
The harsh winter appeared to go by extremely slowly for Rhode. He felt that this winter was incomparably long as though it lasted a decade. He was clear that if the Country of Darkness were to launch an ambush on the Country of Light, winter would be the best time. Their Undead Army wouldn't be affected by the harsh weather conditions and the severe winter could even be their best camouflage. The Country of Darkness definitely wouldn't wait for spring. They weren't any upright gentlemen who would announce the start of a war before they attacked.
The huge snowstorm fluttered wildly and dark clouds covered the sky densely almost everyday. Goose feather-like snow descended and enveloped the surface into a silver-whitish place. Winter had become the main melody of this world.
The pitch-black night sky devoured every inch of brightness. The thick clouds concealed the high-hanging moon and spread the shadows of darkness like slow-moving dark ink and venom...
The little girl opened her eyes wide, clutched her chest tightly with both hands, and her petite body trembled constantly on the bed. Her weak, painful groans resounded in the spacious, warm bedroom. Shortly after, a few Battle Angels rushed into the room and to her side.
"Your Majesty! What's wrong? Your Majesty!"
Lilian gritted her teeth. Her adorable face was as pale as a sheet of paper. She widened her mouth and panted for air. There were no traces of radiance in her eyes as though her consciousness had left and drifted to a faraway land.
A deep, calm voice sounded. Then, Archangel Serene emerged beside Lilian and placed her right hand on the latter's chest. A spotlessly white brilliance emanated from her palm and shrouded Lilian completely. The little girl's painful expression softened and her tensed up body relaxed.
"Ha... Ha... Ha... Ah..."
Lilian laid paralyzed on the bed. She widened her eyes and was drenched in cold sweat. She lifted her head and gazed Archangel Serene worriedly.
"Serene... I-I think... someone... has invaded my territory!"
Archangel Serene turned around hurriedly and looked at Archangel Boulder who stood by the door. She nodded slightly and said with a stern tone.
"Gather the Light Parliament immediately!"
The snow continued to flutter about.
"This goddamn weather."
The guard captain gazed at the snowy scene from his tent, but he wasn't in the mood to admire the magnificent view. He picked up an alcohol flask placed on a brazier, opened the cap, and gulped the warm content down. He let out a comfortable shiver.
"Those bastards from the parliament actually made us suffer in this border wilderness. I would've been having fun with wifey if I were home! I don't understand why must we be in this ridiculous place. When are we going back!"
"Alright, alright, cut the crap."
His companion curled his lips and passed another alcohol flask to him.
"We're here to put up a show anyway and we can go back after those guys finish speaking their piece. Alright, shut your mouth and get ready to patrol. Be prepared to stay here even longer if the chief hears your complaints. Look around you, damn it. It's just night duty, so cut the crap and save your energy. Drink a little less. There's not much alcohol left!"
"I know, I know. I was just complaining. Those bastards... Huh?"
The guard captain knitted his brows and listened carefully to the surrounding. He shook his head.
"Why do I hear some 'swish... swish...' sounds like the waves?"
"Have you drank too much? There isn't any river around, not to mention an ocean... Argh. It's freezing. How can the weather be so cold. I'm about to freeze to death... Damn it. My armor has frozen together! Why is this winter..."
At this moment, a soldier barged into the room from the snowstorm.
"R-R-Reporting, Captain! We've been attacked! Ambush! Ambush!"
"Calm down! Where're the enemies?!"
The guard captain berated and drew out his sword. He strode out of the tent was instantly stricken into silence.
A steady stream of white waves whizzed in like waves that engulfed the land. The strong snowstorm was as though powerless breezes that weren't worth any mention. In this vast white ocean, vague, greenish-white radiance resembling candle flames could be seen dancing in the distance.
The guard captain felt his blood freeze up completely.