Chapter 218 - All-out War (2)
This was a frontal breakthrough! It could be said that victory or defeat had already been decided by the magic attack which had destroyed common sense in a siege war.
Their opponent was a monster who had destroyed the gate and four walls of the estate simultaneously. Unless there was a sword master or great magician in Marquis Reista's estate, there was no one who could interfere with Orta's magic.
Additionally, 200 magic soldiers had come at the same time. The circle formation surrounded the front and rear sides of the estate perfectly, maintaining its form while still keeping its terrifying mobility. By smashing the soldiers and knights in the front, the magic soldiers entered Reista Estate without much difficulty.
"Report if you find the commander!"
"Kill instead of capturing the knights!"
"I have found a senior knight on the right side! The 2nd group will handle this!"
"The 3rd group is on the left side!"
There were clear voices in the midst of the confusion. The magic soldiers broke into groups of 20 with each having their own role. They rushed through the estate and destroyed the enemy soldiers.
The gap between the elite soldiers and the untrained farmers could be seen clearly.
'It is over.'
A short time after arriving at Reista Estate, the command system of the defending soldiers had long since collapsed. The commander hadn't been caught yet, but it was a meaningless survival if all the knights were killed.
A man in a white robe and mask floated in the sky like a ghost, then he descended toward the ground. It was because he was convinced of their victory, but it was also because of another reason.
"You came?" A calm voice spoke from under the mask. As Meltor's best space magician, Orta's senses already transcended physical limits. He didn't miss a single breath from behind the collapsed walls.
Unsurprisingly, a haggard-looking knight appeared.
"...You can't win."Orta declared.
It was Marquis Reista's knight. The middle-aged man pulled out the sword at his waist with a detached expression. Then the other hidden knights raised their bodies from the wreckage. One, two, three, four... There were 14 altogether. It wasn't much. Even so, Orta couldn't underestimate the flames of resolution burning inside their eyes.
"Still, we will die as Reista's knights."
"Well, okay." The white-robed magician raised his white-gloved hands. "Come."
The knights fought with all their power.
They rushed forward with an unusually strong determination. The knights cut out any unnecessary movements, and their combined aura swelled to double that of Orta's power. The proud knights of the Soldun Kingdom awakened with the crisis they were facing.
The 14 knights wielded their swords with a sense of unity, and the burning aura blades poured out like a shower.
"-Not bad." Orta turned his head and lifted a finger.
There was an eerie sound and then a fountain of blood. Human body parts were scattered, and the surrounding debris was turned red. The dizzying smell of blood spread about, and one drop of blood fell on Orta's robe. With just one bloody drop on a pure white robe, all of the Reista knights were killed.
The bloodstain would be easy to get rid of with Clean magic, but Orta left it. It was a reflection on himself and a last honor for the knights. Orta looked around at the battlefield and the battle which was almost over.
Then he pulled out the communication ball and demanded, "Left and right wings, report your current situation."
Three estates had been attacked almost simultaneously. The Reista base lost, so now there were only Halsun and Kerun remaining.
The first answer came from the left wing, Vince Haidel. [Reporting. Currently, the army has completely wiped out the Halsun knights. We are using this momentum to enter the castle, capture the earl, and calm the general public.]
"This is much faster than expected. Did you provoke them?"
[That is correct. They ran out onto the plains several times and couldn't survive the fire arrows. It was simple."
In any case, Earl Halsun's knights seemed much worse than Reista's. It had been planned for Vince's side to act weak, but for the knights to fight a plains battle against fire magicians... It was obvious that they wouldn't be able to escape the 300 magic soldiers and 32 war mages.
Their aura defense wouldn't be able to endure the fire magic, and their armor would've melted. It was right to say that an incompetent commander was the worst.
As soon as Vince stopped talking, Bors replied, [Reporting. We have destroyed every watchtower and opened the gate. Now, we are endeavoring to destroy the remaining troops. Additionally, Viscount Kerun has escaped using a teleport scroll. The destination is presumed to be the Cornwall Estate.]
Magicians had attacked the estate. A wall which didn't even have anti-magic defenses installed lost all meaning before a magician.
The magicians could create shields to defend against arrows and jump over the walls with Float magic, so there was no way to block them. In fact, they jumped like a flock of sheep. Viscount Kerun's soldiers wouldn't be able to hold on for long.
"It is straightforward. By the way, the rats are quite thorough to have prepared teleport scrolls."
[Isn't it an item given by Duke Cornwall? It isn't an object that a viscount would have.]
"I agree. It is just a guess, but the possibilities are close enough."
After organizing the report, Orta put the communication sphere away. Earl Halsun's estate was already taken over, Reista was almost finished, and Viscount Kerun had fled first before anyone else.
Orta flew into the sky as he thought about what to do now. It had been six and a half hours since Elmore IV died, and three key areas in the nobles faction had been taken down by the royal faction's surprise raids.
* * *
The news obviously entered the ears of Duke Cornwall, who had prepared the teleport scrolls.
"...Halsun, Kerun, and Reista were taken at the same time?"
With an absurd expression, he looked down at the knight who brought him the report. Viscount Kerun might've escaped, but Earl Halsun and Marquis Reista hadn't been able to survive even half a day?
The estates had been thoroughly reinforced a few years ago just for today, but the reinforcements hadn't been effective at all. Duke Cornwall frowned for a moment before shifting his gaze elsewhere.
"The prince had that much firepower reserved? Or did he bring in reinforcements like I did...?"
Looking at it rationally, it had to be the latter option. There was no way that the number of troops needed to capture three estates at once could escape the duke's intelligence network. Just like how he had accepted support from Lairon, the crown prince must've called for support from elsewhere.
The duke wasn't stupid. Lairon and Andras were attached to him, so there was only one place left which would support Prince Elsid.
"Indeed, it is Meltor."
A master magician was a superpower who could be called an army. The duke had seen Marquis Fergana's power, so he was well aware of how terrible they could be. There had to be at least one, maybe two masters. The masters were the foundation of the Northern powers. Therefore, it would be difficult to dispatch three masters.
Duke Cornwall's guess was almost perfect. He had the capabilities to be king. However, although the duke accurately guessed the truth, he didn't feel fear. The three estates had been important, but there was something more important than those.
That was Marquis Atron's estate which the army was currently advancing toward. The army was a large one, with a total of 30,000 troops.
"It will be soon."
"Yes, My Lord. Our objective is Marquis Atron."
Shapes became clear on the horizon. It was Atron Estate, the land which had recently been given to the Eastern person. Originally, it should've gone to the duke's faithful subordinate, Brahms.
Duke Cornwall made a disgruntled expression as he stared at Marquis Atron's walls.
"It is a terrible place for a man who isn't from here."
Marquis Atron had died without any kin. It had been a rare chance to swallow up an empty piece of land, but the prince had taken it. However, the duke hadn't come to strike this place because of his personal feelings.
It was because Prince Elsid was inside! The nobles would win if the center of the royal party, the heir to the throne, were captured or killed. The loss of three estates was painful, but the duke could recover from that damage. It was more urgent to take care of the Eastern sword master with the prince.
Duke Cornwall turned toward a splendid carriage which didn't fit on the battlefield.
"Crusader Ruben." The duke's words were soft, but a master could still hear them.
"Duke, is it finally my turn?" The fully armed Ruben descended from the carriage. He couldn't hide the smell of alcohol and perfume.
Duke Cornwall didn't look at him as he nodded and pointed at Atron Estate. "That's right. The lord of that estate is the one who was born in the land of the barbarians."
"Oh, I won't show any mercy," Ruben spoke with fanaticism in his sharp eyes. "The heretics who rejected God's mercy, I will slice their necks."
According to the Lairon Church, people from the East were unclean existences. They were born heretics in the eyes of God and weren't part of God's providence. For them, Easterners were the number one targets to be killed.
For this reason, not a single Easterner lived in Lairon. They killed anyone who looked like they were from the East. Ruben suddenly turned and asked, "You are quiet today, imperial dog. Are you scared?"
"Bah, how annoying."
There was still no response. The sword master from Andras remained silent after the friction on the first day. He had no intention of being active.
Duke Cornwall thought about when he had first met the knight.
-I won't step forward unless it is absolutely necessary.
Would it be enough with just Ruben? It was true that Lairon and Andras were different. If the Andras' knights identity was revealed, it could cause a problem with the entire Central Continent. Furthermore, it wasn't good to owe a debt to Andras. From Duke Cornwall's standpoint, it was better for Ruben to solve all of this alone.
'If possible, I would also like to have Marquis Fergana here...'
Unfortunately, Fergana had refused, saying that he couldn't leave his estate. Marquis Fergana was a 7th Circle magician and considered family, but the duke couldn't force him. It had only been possible to become allied with Marquis Fergana because the duke was an in-law.
Duke Cornwall shook his head and shouted, "Full force! From now on, we will prepare to siege Atron and enter the estate! Each unit should move quickly according to the commander's orders!"
"As My Lord commands!"
Simultaneously, the nobles returned to their respective armies. The troops present weren't conscripts but elite soldiers of each estate. In addition to their training, their performance was several times better than that of farmers.
At Duke Cornwall's orders, the tens of thousands of soldiers became one.
"Move quickly while being on guard against the marquis' troops!"
"Set up the barricades!"
"The depth of the pits should be uniform!"
"Where are the anti-teleport artifacts?"
They set up barricades and dug trenches. In the meantime, the cavalry looked around in case of ambushes. During the next two or three hours, the preparations for the siege would be completed. The nobles, including Duke Cornwall, watched the process and smiled with satisfaction. It would be really 'soon.'
However, the nobles didn't know one thing. A crow was flying above them, and a magician shared its vision.
"...It looks like I'm not too late." A young man dropped down behind Marquis Atron and the duke's military camp. It was a feat possible for him because he had teleported over a long distance with lightning.
This was the emergence of Theodore Miller, who could be called the greatest variable in the Soldun civil war.
"Now, how should I turn this board upside down?"
A single Joker had dropped down behind the nobles faction.