Chapter 220 - All-out War (4)
The collision of the white flash and golden glow caused an explosion to occur.
However, it was a noise too complex to be grasped by a human. The sword master's aura and crusader's divine power poured out, and the struggle of the two powers caused the space to be disturbed.
The expression 'piercing the moon' was accurate in regards to Baek Jongmyung's sword technique. Meanwhile, divine power was known as 'God's Hammer' in the religious kingdom.
These two aimed at each other.
Blood splattered. There was a clashing sound, like the strike of a hammer, and armor was broken, causing blood to splatter from the gap. This was natural. As mentioned before, a master's attack power was much higher than their defense. So, even a master would suffer a serious injury when facing another master.
"Cough!" The middle-aged Baek Jongmyung was thrown back, and he grabbed at his left shoulder which was bleeding. It was an injury that he shouldn't have received initially. 'Speed' was an absolute strength when it came to a battle between masters since it could control the game. Baek Jongmyung was leading as he had pierced through Ruben's gap perfectly.
He looked at his opponent with a confused expression. 'Surely he didn't ignore defense in order to counterattack...!'
That's right. Lairon's crusader, Ruben, had revealed his upper body beyond the shield and received the stab.
Of course, he had managed to smash Baek Jongmyung's left shoulder, but it was definitely Ruben who received the more serious injury. Baek Jongmyung could still continue fighting despite his left arm being neutralized, while he had clearly pierced Ruben's right rib and lungs.
As his wound bled moderately, Baek Jongmyung continued to think, 'That said, his swordsmanship doesn't make sense. The shape of his weapon is a sword, but he uses it more like a hammer or an axe.'
Ruben hit instead of cutting, so his swordsmanship was more like a bombardment, rather than slashing. It was a meteor-like swordsmanship which wielded the blade with an enormous amount of power, capable of blowing away the space where the target was located.
It couldn't be called excellent, but it was absolutely effective in terms of killing his opponents. After all, although the technique might be sloppy, it had managed to crush Baek Jongmyung's shoulder.
"...It seems as though the match is over."
However, Baek Jongmyung was sure of his victory. A master might be more resilient, but they were still human. Damage to areas like the lungs was fatal. If it wasn't treated in time, dying would be unavoidable.
"I don't think that you will respond, but you may be able to save your life if you surrender."
This wasn't Baek Jongmyung's own thought but what Prince Elsid had said to him. Lairon supported the nobles faction, but this relationship would collapse if Duke Cornwall failed. However, the situation would change if a crusader were killed. The Lairon Kingdom might use his death as a pretext to fight the winner of the civil war. If possible, Prince Elsid wanted to win with the best scenario.
"-Hah," a sound emerged from Ruben's mouth. "Ha, haha." It wasn't a moan. It wasn't even the sound of a human who had difficulty breathing through his right lung. "Hahahahaha!" It was a burst of laughter. Ruben laughed like he was crazy.
As such, it wasn't unreasonable for Baek Jongmyung to get an ominous feeling and step back. This was because the madness didn't seem like the bluff of a seriously injured person. Ruben shouted with a distorted face like a laughing demon, "The battle is over? Surrender? Heretic! The barbarians seem to have a talent for joking!"
Once again, the golden energy emerged. It was a force which never compromised in its strength, as a vast halo of divine power wrapped around Ruben.
'Dangerous.' Baek Jongmyung gulped. He didn't know why, but Ruben seemed fine. There were no signs that showed Ruben had consumed a lot of his stamina. In fact, he seemed even more formidable than before.
"I am Ruben, who has received Lairon's grace! A mere savage like you... You think you can beat me?"
Ruben became a mass of light and raised his sword, causing the long blade to turn into a 10-meter-long pillar of light. The crusader was overtaken by fanaticism.
"I won't leave a single piece of flesh remaining on your blasphemous body!"
* * *
Duke Cornwall declared with a satisfied face, "Victory."
It wasn't baseless confidence. The crusader was indeed overwhelming the Eastern sword master. It wasn't unusual to feel worried at the sight of Ruben's blood spurting out. However, the duke had been made aware of the crusader's strength a few days ago.
Despite his injury, Ruben continued to attack.
"It seems it is true that Lairon's crusaders won't die unless their heads are destroyed."
Unlike magic which changed a human body structurally, divine power greatly amplified the body's inherent vitality. Ordinary people would die from a few cuts from a sword, but the owner of divine power was like a half-immortal.
Unless they were killed at once, the battle duration would be forcefully dragged out, especially when they were at the master level. If Baek Jongmyung had known this, he wouldn't have chosen the attack he'd used. This was a disaster arising from his ignorance of the continent, as divine power and crusaders didn't exist in the East.
As a result, Baek Jongmyung had made a mistake which was difficult to turn around, and he was being pushed closer and closer to the edge. If this continued, he wouldn't be able to last for even an hour more.
"The rest of his troops aren't great... It seems like I can clean up with the prince today. This is a truly silly fight." As he spoke, Duke Cornwall's face was beaming with joy.
This was a checkmate. If the forces who occupied the three estates continued to march, Marquis Fergana would block them. Then Meltor's troops would lose their cause as soon as the prince was captured.
Duke Cornwall had prepared anti-teleport artifacts in preparation for this. So, Prince Elsid wouldn't be able to escape and would die. A smile of joy emerged on the duke's face.
'Today is the best day of my life. The wind is cool, the shadows are just right- Wait, shadows?' Duke Cornwall thought up to here and looked up at the sky with bewilderment.
When he thought about it again, the shadow shouldn't be there. Due to the construction work, there were no trees around and the sky had no clouds. Considering that it was just after noon, the sun shouldn't have declined yet. If so, where did this shadow come from?
The duke and the other nobles looked around curiously. However, they immediately regretted it at the next moment.
'Ah, I shouldn't have have looked back,' they thought.
"G-Giant...?" Someone's voice emerged.
However, Duke Cornwall didn't blame them. That reaction was natural, as before their eyes, there was an earth giant that was more than 50 meters tall. It was a situation which would freak anyone out. The whole army started to murmur at the appearance of the earth giant.
"C-Captain, how do we deal with that?"
"Should we shoot it with archers?"
"Stupid! What if that makes the giant attack us? Don't move until you receive a command!"
"B-But we can't do nothing..."
It was a mistake not to address the situation immediately. The airtight defense line became a mess, and the soldiers left their spots, causing the perfect formation to collapse. In the distant sky, a crow was watching the army which had become a mess. Naturally, the crow was Theodore's familiar, Hugin.
"Okay, the first stage worked better than I thought."
The giant was an improved version of the Earth Worm that he had made a long time ago while travelling with Sylvia. At that time, Theodore had gotten a headache from the attempt, but he was different now. Mitra's growth to a top-grade elemental also helped with that.
Now, she was able to control even a huge giant over 50 meters tall. The moving dirt which weighed thousands of tons was a mass weapon in itself.
"Well, I don't plan to attack with this guy."
Theodore closed his eyes. He didn't want Mitra to be covered in human blood, so he came up with a more effective method.
'Mitra, can you hear me?'
As soon as he called, he heard a little voice respond, [Yes! Deo's words clear!]
'Yes, well done. Then shall we go to the next step?'
Since the flowering of the bud, Mitra developed another power. It was proof that she had thrown off the divinity of earth and was acquiring a new divinity, just like Paracelsus had said. Then Theodore ordered the use of the 'technology' that he had talked about with Mitra previously.
'Let's go, Mitra! Sow the seeds!'
This was the moment when Mitra gave up on the earth giant.
The earth giant collapsed, scattering hundreds of thousands of seeds in every direction.
"W-What are these grains?"
"Captain! It is impossible to avoid!"
"They don't seem toxic..."
"Maintain your positions! Those who move will be punished!"
The soldiers were bewildered, while the knights swung their swords at the seeds several times before giving up. The curious magicians were busy analyzing the seeds. The commander's voice echoed as he tried to control the camp, but it was clear that it was already too late.
Something happened as the seeds hit the ground.
Kukukung... kukung... kukukukung...
First, there was an unknown vibration. The soldiers heard the noise coming from the ground and looked at each other with uneasy expressions. The commanders were also struggling because they didn't know what was going on. The vibrations covered a range which couldn't be avoided just by moving.
Before the leaders of the troops could understand the situation, the event started.
Beautiful trees began to grow. Roots sprouted from the tiny seeds, and the trees grew to a size which could be seen in a jungle. That wasn't all. Zelkova trees, oaks, camellias, willows, ginkgo trees... A huge number of trees grew from the ground, with no difference between softwood and hardwood trees.
One tree, ten trees, one hundred trees...
The plains where Duke Cornwall's army was camped became covered with thousands of trees.
The trees grew among the adult humans, breaking their bones. Some people got caught in the branches and were sent soaring into the sky, while other soldiers struggled against the mysterious phenomenon... The area had turned into a terrible mess.
Theodore watched the situation quietly and said with a smile, "Ah, Mitra. I'm sorry, but I have to make another request."
The seeds flew in the wind. Those seeds, blown along by the wind, soon reached their destination. It was the midway point in the battle between and Ruben.
"No!? What is this?"
The trees grew as if to separate the two people. Ruben brandished his sword and cut down several trees, but there was no end to the growing trees.
Unlike Ruben who had missed a favourable situation, Baek Jongmyung realized that this was an opportunity for him. He didn't cut down the trees like Ruben was doing. Instead, he quickly retreated toward the estate. It was imperative that he get away.
"This guy! You don't know honour! Come back!"
Theodore watched the situation and couldn't help laughing. He didn't know that a crusader could behave so unsightly. This was proof that Lairon had rotted long ago, just like Marquis Piris had said.
However, Theodore's laughing expression soon hardened. He had achieved everything he intended, but then he sensed something.
'This presence... a sword master! Who is it?' Theodore sensed the presence and prepared for battle.
He was several times stronger than when he'd fought against Hyde, but he couldn't help worrying when had to fight another master. Moreover, the person was approaching him at a fearsome speed. This person wouldn't be an easily dismissed opponent.
'This is a very annoying situation.'
This area had anti-teleport artifacts in place, so space transfers weren't allowed. In order to escape from this area, he would have to use lightning which burdened his body. While staring at the approaching sword master, Theodore decided to leave escaping as a last resort.
Soon, an uninvited guest in body armor dropped down before Theodore.
The guest wore heavy armor, and the speed at which he dropped down was no greater than that of a flying arrow. It was proof that he had complete control over his own center of gravity and inertia. He was entirely covered in armor and seemed to have no intention of revealing his identity.
Theodore rotated his seven circles and muttered, "...Andras' sword master... Is he one of the empire's Seven Swords?"