Chapter 279 - Revenge (3)
It might be hard to compare it to Rutben, the impregnable fortress, but Dofrun was one of the fortresses included in the defense of the border. In a normal situation, a large army needed to be mobilized in order to properly capture it.
The geographical advantage of the Berbatov Mountains and the durability of Dofrun Fortress, with its multiple layers of defense, made it one of the top three fortresses in Andras.
However, there was a pitfall that no one knew about.
Its reliance on the geographical advantage and external defenses meant that the defenses of the fortress itself weren't so great.
If uninvited people were to appear in front of it, Dofrun Castle would be a place with its shell stripped off. The elite troops were focused on a flexible and movable outer defensive line, while the reputation of the Berbatov rangers resulted in a reduction of the standing army at Dofrun Castle.
Dofrun Castle, which hadn't been attacked by the enemy during the last two centuries, was a ripe apricot.
'Well, it is still faithful to the basic defenses.'
Once they were a few hundred meters away from the outer walls, Theodore climbed up to aboveground and looked at Dofrun Castle, which was shining in the darkness. If there was some light, then Theodore's 'Hawkeye' could see.
There were a few bonfires on the walls, as well as the moon from the sky, giving Theodore dim lighting.
"...The wall material is titanium. Alert devices are arranged at regular intervals, so we can't go through with invisibility or flying magic."
"There are many guards. There are around 100 on the east wall facing the Berbatov Mountains. It will be hard to get past without getting caught."
The observation wasn't wrong, so Theodore nodded. As William said, it was impossible to avoid the eyes of so many guards. It might be possible if they could use magic freely, but it was hard due to the devices which would ring when magic was detected.
"That is the case if we are just a unit of magicians."
Andras failed to take into account the variable that was the elves.
"Sir Edwin, will you be able to swiftly silence the guards on the wall?"
"It isn't difficult. Leave it to me."
The Berbatov rangers of Andras might be known for their archery, but they couldn't compare to the elf warriors who had held bows for hundreds of years. No matter how hard the Berbatov rangers' training had been, their targets had been human.
As such, their skills couldn't compare to the elf warriors who hunted the creatures in the Great Forest and defended Elvenheim. In the darkness, 50 elves pulled out their bows and held their breaths as they loaded the arrows.
One between the index finger and string, and another between the ring finger and string...
Surely they weren't planning to shoot two at once? It defied the common sense of magicians as Edwin and the elves stared at the wall. They were familiarizing themselves with the darkness, never blinking.
Blood vessels appeared on their well-trained upper arms that were pulled back. The elves' bows were made of tendons from ogres and other monsters, so their tension was far beyond a normal longbow.
"Suuuuoh..." Edwin let out a long breath and then...
He didn't hesitate to let go. There was the sound of a thin string snapping, and two arrows flew some somewhere. The same was true for the other elves. Nevertheless, there was only the sound of one snapping.
It was a feat caused by 50 people firing at the same time, without any errors in the timing. The 100 arrows rode the wind as they flew. The wind wasn't something that had to be overcome. An elf's bow could draw orbits that human bows couldn't reproduce.
The arrows weren't heard because they didn't go against the wind. The barrage of two arrows struck the guards on the east wall.
Hit in the uvula, larynx, and cervical vertebrae, the Berbatov rangers were stopped from making any sound the moment they were pierced, causing them to produce just short groans.
The arrows had been aimed at critical areas, just like how skilled hunters would do.
It was great that the elves could hit the target from a few hundred meters away, and all of the arrows had hit the exact spots. Some magicians, previously unaware of the elves' capabilities, felt relief that the elves weren't their enemies.
Theodore gave short praise for the elves' skill and then urged the group, "We have to cross the wall before the next shift comes. Hurry!"
Some people might wonder why he was in such a hurry over Dofrun Castle. However, Theodore couldn't let himself overlook anything.
Dofrun's defensive lines were stacked around the outside, and this could immediately turn into layers of encirclement once their infiltration became known. If they were glimpsed coming from the tunnel, they wouldn't be able to escape using that method.
Then unnecessary casualties would occur. Moreover, the obstacles weren't just the guards on the walls. There were the titanium wall and alarms which interfered with magic, both of which resulted in the magicians having to climb the wall with their bodies.
Fortunately, this problem was solved easily.
"C-Cough. Thank you."
"Isn't it heavy?"
This was thanks to the elves, who could easily climb the walls using elementals and their own physical abilities, carrying the magicians. It was enough for them to carry one person each. With the wind elementals assistance, the 80 people were able to climb the wall without difficulty.
Theodore was more powerful than ordinary aura users and didn't need help, which strangely caused Rebecca and Edwin to subtly express feelings of disappointment.
'It is much easier than I thought. Elves can substitute for the weak physical abilities of war mages, and the elementals can get past the alarm devices... This might be a surprisingly good combination.'
An average person thought that the combination of knights and magicians was the best, but the magicians and knights didn't agree.
Magicians thoroughly aimed their firepower from a distance, while knights quickly narrowed the distance to take down the enemy.
It was difficult for the two types to work together when they moved in opposite directions. When a knight mixed in with the enemy, the magicians wouldn't be able to exert the destructive power that was their strength. On the other hand, a knight who had to protect a magician would be like a tied up wild horse. Rather than benefit, they only hampered each other.
However, the elves who could use the sword, bow, and elementals were different.
Sometimes they maximized firepower from a distance like magicians, and other times they closed in on the enemy for close combat. Of course, they would be at a disadvantage when compared to magicians or knights in both fields, but their utilization on the battlefield was unrivaled.
A three-man cell of two magicians and an elf warrior wasn't a bad tactic.
Then it was at that moment...
At the same time as Theodore spoke, the 80 people quickly stopped. They were on the outskirts of the castle. The elves were famous for being sensitive, but even Edwin looked puzzled and didn't know why Theodore had stopped.
'Indeed, it is this feeling.'
The last time, Theodore hadn't been able to sense it because it was mixed in with the chaos of the battlefield. However, now that he could concentrate, he could feel it clearly. His super sensitivity faded and then disappeared. It was evidence that another person's foresight was interfering with his ability. The bow master, whom he had fought on Karul Plains, was hiding in Dofrun Castle.
"The bell tower that is 500 meters southwest. Fire an arrow to the top floor of the tower."
It went against their efforts to remain hidden so far. However, before anyone could speak, Edwin immediately loaded the arrow and fired. This was the storm arrow that he had once shown in the Great Forest.
The force contained in the arrow was less than that time, but it was enough to blow away the top of the bell tower.
One octave sharper, Edwin's bow cried out.
Oddly, more power was added the further it moved. The arrow rotated the wind in the space it passed by, making the surrounding airflow become as sharp as a blade! There was a creepy piercing sound as the arrow hit the bell tower.
Like a sandcastle, the solid marble tower collapsed.
"Don't tell me they were waiting...!"
The moment the top of the bell tower collapsed, human figures stood up from the shadow they were hiding in. This had been overlooked because Theodore's unit couldn't use navigation magic.
The human figures were using aura to restrict their breathing and heartbeat as they hid in a place that couldn't be seen. It was a familiar tactic for the Shadow Knights who carried out assassinations and espionage.
However, Theodore and the unit didn't flinch. They wouldn't lose out on power even if they were surrounded. Two masters alone exceeded 100 people. Hundreds of shadows were just an exercise for them.
Therefore, the person who appeared after this would be the real threat.
"Yes, you can perceive my ability." A man appeared beyond the shadow knights. "I intended to kill you on Karul Plains, but I never imagined there was a magician who could flee from my arrows."
"The foresight ability isn't unique."
"That's right. Our enemy, Theodore Miller... I'm glad to know that you didn't die in vain."
The man, who was more like a hunter than a knight, smiled as he held a big bow in his right hand. He had the eyes of a beast of prey, rather than a human.
It was the gaze of a beast who knew how to shoot and how to kill. Theodore had faced many people, but this was the first time he had seen such a blatant gaze. As a bow master born in the sword empire, he wasn't an ordinary person.
[Sir Edwin and each squad captain, listen to me.]
As Theodore faced the bow master, he opened the communication network and delivered instructions. According to his reasoning, they weren't tonight's main players.
[Sir Edwin, please fight the bow master. The rest will form teams of 10, with your respective squad leaders. You can't let the Shadow Knights go. Priests and paladins will also join in.]
[Then Theo-no, what about Captain?] Sylvia asked reflexively.
Then Theodore responded with knowledge that the rest of them didn't know, [If the bow master had intended to fight me, he would've made his appearance right away. Instead, he hid in the city in order to concentrate on sniping me. This means there are separate people who will deal with me.]
[Separate... D-Don't tell me?]
[It is possible. I expected us to reunite, but I didn't know it would be so soon.]
They were coming. Tension and excitement filled his blue eyes as he gazed in a certain direction. There was a man wearing luxurious white clothing decorated with gold.
This man was probably Cardinal Antonio, one of the ringleaders of the Soldun civil war, whom Orta had spied on. After looking at that ugly face and remembering it, Theodore focused on the person who was more important.
"Ohh! Using evil magic and then walking into a dragon's mouth with his own feet! It is truly God's guidance, Sir Speitem!"
"Shut up, you fanatic."
Shaking Antonio off with rude words, Zest stepped forward while pulling out a sword hanging at his waist. Unlike last time, there were no signs of him being relaxed. The air sharpened with every step he took. Theodore's skin stung, and a chill ran down the back of his neck as tension filled his body.
"We met again, kid." It was a reunion with the sword master, Zest Speitem, who cut space. He was the person who had turned Theodore's automaton into scrap metal in just two seconds.
This was the person who stood shoulder to shoulder with Veronica, Blundell, and Crowd as the strongest in the North. It was the appearance of a mighty enemy whom Theodore had to confront alone.
"...Your broken ribs look better."
"Ahh, it's thanks to that damn bastard. I would've killed him a long time ago if he wasn't the one who healed me," Zest spoke with sincere killing intent as he glanced over his shoulder at Antonio.
It seemed like he didn't have a connection with religion. Rather, his connection was closer to hatred. Regardless of whether he felt the killing intent or not, Cardino Antonio just smirked and waved his hand. It was a gesture to move along.
"Son of a bitch," Zest spat out before turning back to Theodore. "Shall we begin? I absolutely won't miss this time. Be alert, I will kill you with the best of my ability."
"Are you sure? Last time was probably your only chance." Theodore took a step back and immediately summoned Gladio from his inventory.
His life was at risk, so there was no point in saving it.
People looked astonished at the armored knight that suddenly appeared out of thin air.
Zest, who had fought Gladio once before, sneered at Theodore. "That toy again? You repaired it only for it to be turned to pieces again."
"It is different from before. It is upgraded."
No more words were necessary. The air shook as the two people, Theodore and Zest, gathered their power.
It might've been 10 seconds, or maybe 5 seconds.
Zest's blade moved forward, while Gladio took one step under Theodore's control. Two archers pulled back their bows, their arrows blocking each other. This was the beginning of the rematch.
* * *
Zest's sword cut the space first.
Zest's Style Space Cut:
From the start, there was no carelessness. Zest had acknowledged Theodore's strength in the last battle. For Theodore to have summoned the senior demon, Magnus, and have the wit to be able to pull off a trick like that... Zest might be arrogant, but he had a cool head.
Theodore Miller wasn't an enemy to be looked down on. The sword master's aura shook as he understood this.
'I have to get rid of this can first.'
The piece of scrap metal that felt curiously familiar... The presence of the doll, who had an aura equivalent to that of a master and could use an Aura Ability, was a mystery to Zest. Apart from Zest or the 1st Sword, the other members of the Seven Swords would struggle against it.
It couldn't be mass produced, but if he didn't smash it every time he saw it, his allies in other parts of the battlefield could be hurt by it. Zest's blade moved through the air and fell upon Gladio's head.
Nevertheless, he couldn't cut it. Two blades collided and sparks of aura flew. Zest frowned at the recoil.
He checked it again.
Zest's Style Space Cut:
Not one but many cuts at the same time. It was an Aura Ability that went beyond speed itself. The clavicle, femur, and vertebrae were aimed at almost simultaneously, so they couldn't all be blocked.
At least, he thought so.
Kakakang! Kang! Kaaang!
Exactly six attacks were all blocked. Zest's sword wasn't able to land on Gladio. Not only did Gladio succeed in defending, he was also going for a counterattack.
There was an exchange before Zest and Gladio took three steps apart. It was a temporary lull. If Theodore's strength were added, it would turn into an outright melee. Gladio's performance was proven, so he no longer needed to be passive.
"Hey," Zest opened his mouth while filled with doubts and anger, "What is this bastard?"
"I told you, it was upgraded."
Gladio was a natural enemy of space magicians, while also being a cheat against swordsmen who interfered with space. Theodore desperately thought and developed a plan for Gladio. There were two additional features that he had asked Paragranum to add.