Bayer loosened his grip on the reins and his warhorse gradually slowed down to a halt. He turned around and gazed at the long, orderly rows of soldiers struggling forward. The thick snow had obstructed the army's speed. The infantries trudged through the ten-meters thick snow, where even the tall, might warhorses grunted. Moreover, if it wasn't for the leading troops who cleared the path, perhaps the supply chariots at the back would be caught in the snow entirely.
\"Old man, is anything the issue?\"
A young knight came to a halt beside Bayer. The latter turned around and glared fiercely, which the young man quickly changed his form of address.
\"Sir, is anything the matter?\"
\"Nothing. I just think that we're advancing rather slowly. The weather is great. We should move faster.\"
Bayer shook his head and let out a long sigh. Then, he shifted his gaze to the sky. The weather was sunny and cloudless at the moment. Moreover, it didn't seem to be snowing anytime soon. Perhaps this was the only good news in the most recent days.
\"No problem, old man. We have enough time to reach our destination as long as those guys in front work hard enough.\"
Unlike Bayer who had put on a stern expression, the young man shook his head casually. He had a head full of light chestnut-colored short hair and his face resembled Bayer's to a certain extent. Bayer cursed inwardly at the sloppy character of this younger son of his. He thought that his son would learn seriousness and discipline by sending him to the military. However, he learned the craftiness of the experienced soldiers, which left Bayer in a headache. Even though this young man also had outstanding military service, Bayer stubbornly believed that his son was simply lucky. This time, it was a huge matter for Bayer to lead the army into the Land of Atonement Fortress to defend against the Undead Creatures' infiltrations. If it was possible, Bayer hoped to not bring his troublesome son along, but he didn't know why the young man insisted in following after knowing that his fiancée, Serena, would be joining as a military Mage. However, the young man behaved rather well along the way. Even though he was still as rude as ever, he didn't overstep the bounds of what was proper.
\"Our responsibilities for this mission are huge. You need to hide your bad habits and not screw things up, Frederick!\"
Bayer pulled down his mask and berated. On the other hand, Frederick turned around and secretly pulled a face. Then, he turned the horse around.
\"By the way, Serena, do you know what kind of place is the Land of Atonement Fortress? Gosh. Don't tell me that it is an out-of-the-way uncivilized territory.\"
\"As a noble heir, you should watch your words, Frederick.\"
The young lady wrapped in plush mink coat and sat on the white warhorse lifted her head. She gazed at her fiancé's frivolous smiling face and shook her head while sighing.
\"Although Land of Atonement is desolate, it isn't located in the hinterland. I've heard from merchants that it has a tall, majestic city fortress. Even though most of the rumors were exaggerated, I think they might be reliable since the fortress has defended against the Undead Creatures' raid.\"
\"That's interesting... By the way, I heard that there is a popular 'Mercenary Overlord', right? Serena, you should have seen that Sir Overlord since you've participated in the Dragon Soul Ceremony as a diplomatic group. Does he look like a beauty just like the rumors mentioned?\"
\"You should watch your mouth, Frederick.\" Serena glared. \"That Sir Overlord isn't one who is nice. I advise you to not poke fun of his face because even your father can't protect you if anything happens.\"
\"I know. I know. I'm just trying to hype up the mood.\"
Frederick spread his arms apart helplessly and curled his lips.
\"Alright, I'll stop joking around. Serena, what kind of a person is that Sir Overlord?\"
Frederick glanced to the side and saw his father slowly approaching them on his warhorse. It was apparent that the old man was also interested in the young overlord. But, come to think of it, who in the entire Munn Kingdom wasn't interested in this rumored 'Mercenary Overlord'? Not only did he perform well in the Midsummer Festival, but he also participated in the Dragon Soul Ceremony and thrashed the Light Parliament's Magician Knights. Moreover, he relied on his forces to defend against the Undead Army. His achievements were known far and wide in the entire Munn Kingdom. It was especially so for his abilities in dealing with the Undead Army because the other reputable nobles and army leaders were caught unprepared against the raids.
Even the Eastern Plains that was most experienced in dealing with Undead Creatures had also sunk into a stalemate. However, they were doing much better than others. The pitiful old overlord of Silent Field had crumbled entirely. Lydia was extremely dissatisfied that the old overlord evacuated his own family and disregarded the civilians. Even though his sin wasn't worthy of death, it was an equally harsh punishment to strip his noble title off.
Only Rhode's Land of Atonement Fortress stood strong against the Undead Creatures. Not only that, but he also repelled their attacks twice, which surprised many. They didn't expect that a young overlord who obtained the territory for less than a year to perform so well. Besides, no matter the Land of Atonement or Grenbell, they were located in remote, uninhabited places. Although Rhode had mercenaries in his command, the nobles were clear that the mercenaries weren't reliable. If not, they wouldn't need to have their own private soldiers.
But the young overlord successfully relied on that small number of people to defend against the Undead Army?
Is he really that powerful?
Serena let out a sigh. She turned around and gazed at the chariots and knights who were donned in exquisite, yet different style of armor. They were representatives of noble families and local armies and were headed for Land of Atonement to assist in defending and transporting supplies. However, Serena knew what was going on in their heads. They wished to witness how Rhode went into battle and defeated the Undead Creatures. After all, this was the most important matter on hand.
I hope they don't get into trouble.
Serena turned to her fiancé. No matter what, I must watch this fellow closely.
\"He is an outstanding young man just like the rumors, Frederick. No matter which generation of young noblemen, such a talent is rare to find. Even though he is always expressionless, he is surprisingly not a man of little words. He is knowledgeable and smart...\"
Serena said and recalled the things that Rhode had told them when he led them on a 'one day trip' in Casabianca. She had to admit that the 'trip' had moved her.
\"But he isn't easy to deal with, and nor is he soft-hearted. So I advise you to act meticulously. Don't stir trouble or mess with anyone once we're there. Also...\" Serena swept a glance to the back. \"We're following Royal Highness Lydia's orders to come here and provide reinforcements. Don't be half-hearted when mixing with those people behind.\"
Serena paused and turned to Frederick.
\"Keep all your bad habits.\"
\"I know. I know. Serena, you're always worrying too much. Relax. I know my limit.\"
Frederick yawned and as he was about to leave, he caught a glimpse of a majestic shadow.
\"Our final batch of reinforcements are here.\"
Rhode stood on the balcony and observed the densely moving black spots on the mountainous path.
This was the final batch of reinforcements that Lydia had promised Rhode and they were the local nobles and armies. But there were only 1500 of them. Most of them were crossbow shooters while the others were knights and swordsmen. Of course, the reason was simple why they didn't board the floating boats, but went on foot: because they were also serving the task of escorting supplies.
Apart from food supplies and weapons, logistics workers like craftsmen were also included. It could be seen that Lydia understood the situation of Rhode's fortress well, which didn't surprise Rhode at all. She was a smart ruler and this was to be expected.
\"Marfa.\" Rhode turned around. \"Watch those guys and make sure they don't stir any troubles.\"
\"Yes, Sir. I'll get going now.\"
The middle-aged swordsman nodded with might before leaving. Rhode turned around and squinted at the slow moving troops on the mountainous path. The reason why Rhode had given this order was that he knew this army constitution was complicated. Even though they were reinforcements, more than half were originally assigned reinforcements. The remaining ones were noble and army representatives from other regions sent here as 'helpers', which included some Mages and Clerics. Rhode didn't investigate on purpose. Instead, when the name list was presented to him, their family names were already included, which was considered a noble etiquette.
On the other hand, Marlene reminded Rhode that he had attracted a lot of attention due to his outstanding performances in the previous battles. Several noble and army representatives were here because they were eager to express their attitudes to Lydia and probe Rhode's true strength and background.
But Rhode wasn't afraid of them finding out any secrets. In fact, their arrival fitted his intentions well. It was especially so for the '998 Sales Plan' that Gillian had thought of.
At this moment, Marlene's voice sounded.
\"They've entered the city fortress.\"
\"Let's go.\" Rhode turned around and gazed at the young lady beside him. \"As the owner, it's time for me to welcome my guests.\"
Frederick lifted his head and awed at the tall, majestic city walls and buildings. The mountains had merged into one with the impregnable city walls. Serena's eyes glinted at the amazing sight. There weren't any traces of battles on the streets and walls. Fully-armored mercenaries were seen roaming the area and gazing curiously at them. The situation was far from what Frederick had imagined. He thought that this place would be suffering from the aftermath of war and needed extra assistance against the Undead Army. He had even fantasized the warm welcome that he would receive when he led the soldiers into the fortress. The fallen, injured soldiers who laid on the ground had tears flowing down their faces at the sight of his arrival and the anxious Sir Overlord welcomed them with thankful smiles...
But it was a pity that reality and dreams were usually opposite.
The fortress appeared indestructible as though it would stand strong even after the world collapsed. Although there weren't too many civilians roaming the area, the place seemed prosperous. The flat, wide streets weren't crowded at all and looking into the distance, one could even see the mountains on the other side.
\"What a wonderful place... Hey, Serena! Look!\"
Frederick pointed forward excitedly.
\"That's a Spell Tower. It's so beautiful. Serena, do you know who owns that?\"
\"Stop pointing, Frederick.\" Serena said bitterly. She rushed to Frederick's side and held down his pointing finger.
\"It's a huge crime to disrespect the Spell Tower. The Spell Tower is the symbolization of their honor and positions. Your actions are just like a civilian gesticulating on a noble's family crest! Surely you don't want to be fed to the dogs, right?\"
Frederick pulled his hand back. He even took out a handkerchief and wiped his fingers. Then, he turned to Serena with an embarrassed smile.
\"This... Of course I don't hope for that. If not, how do we get married if that happened? Why don't you let me give you a kiss like in the fairy tales?\"
Serena glared fiercely while Frederick let out a chuckle.
At this moment, a crisp, melodious, yet apathetic voice sounded the front.
\"Greetings. Is everyone the reinforcements from Shafir?\"
Frederick laughed cheekily. Then, he turned to the voice.
\"That's right. We're... What?!\"
The young knight jumped and tugged his reins back instinctively. At the same time, he drew out his sword in a sharp sound of friction. Judging from his natural and unforced movements, it appeared that he was skillful. He displayed a look of astonishment as though he had just seen a ghost. On the other hand, Serena covered her mouth with both hands and stared in disbelief. At this moment, the surrounding knights also sensed the abnormality and swiftly drew their swords. They stared forward dubiously.
Agatha stood silently before them. Her expression was as cold as ice. She disregarded all the shimmering, razor-sharp blades, lifted her head, and gazed at the young man.
\"If that's the case, can I check your documentation?\"
\"What's wrong? What happened?\"
Bayer emerged from the crowd on his warhorse. He was wide-eyed as soon as he saw Agatha and fortunately, he didn't fall off his saddle.
\"I'm Sir Overlord's general manager, Agatha.\"
She stooped over and the tentacles beside her spread out as though a lady lifting the hem of her skirt.
\"If it is possible, I would like to check everyone's documentation.\"
\"Of... Of course. No problem.\"
Even though Bayer was stupefied, he nodded in agreement. Shortly after, he retrieved an envelope from his pocket. Agatha extended her 'hand' and along with her movements, everyone witnessed her tentacle extending toward Bayer and they were nervous. They leaned in to Bayer, clutched their sword hilts, and stared anxiously at the slowly extending tentacle.
However, Agatha wasn't mindful of their behaviors at all. She took over the letter from Bayer and held it with both hands. Two strands of hair on the side of her head danced and extended to open the envelope and retrieve the letter. She narrowed her eyes and scanned the content before finally nodding. Then, the two strands of hair placed the letter back into the envelope, sealed it back, and returned it to Bayer. It was apparent that Bayer's thoughts were wandering. He flipped the envelope in his hands with a look of disbelief.
\"Sir Overlord has been waiting for your arrival. Please follow me. As for the soldiers, we will arrange to bring them to their accommodation. Thank you everyone for coming all the way here to provide assistance.\"
\"T-This... Haha... You're welcome...\"
Frederick let out an awkward laugh. Then, he gazed at Serena.
It seems like my choice to come here is right.