Erna was momentarily speechless. It didn’t seem like her hearing was impaired as she could hear the noise around her, but why did Orpé sound so absurd?
“Who… did what?”
Orpé was never out of place—nothing made her lose her composure. Even at that time when half of a building was blown up by the wizards’ mistake, Orpé had been calmer than Erna and corrected the mistake of the wizards all the while reprimanding them.
However, now, she wore the rarest expression on her face. Orpé looked like she was about to cry.
“The army of Aether… invasion…”
When Orpé couldn’t talk coherently as she struggled to breathe, Erna immediately slapped her in the face. With a smack, Orpé’s eyes widened as if she had returned to her senses.
“Orpé, calm down. Report it to me properly.”
At Erna’s calm words, Orpé looked around for a moment and caught her breath. Erna didn’t rush Orpé. She understood why she was behaving like this.
Orpé’s family had lost their lives in the war.
Their house was burned and several of her family members were killed. To be able to live, she entered the Grand Castle as a maid and worked hard without a day’s rest, only to live by a minimum wage. Only after she met Erna was she able to learn magic and finally regained stability in her life.
Since Erna and Kalion took over the position of grand dukes, Hessenguard was spared from the war between the two other kingdoms.
Despite having regained her composure, Orpé had a particularly dark expression. Hearing the news that the Kingdom of Aether has invaded Hessenguard, she thought that a war would break out, just like what had happened in the past.
Erna waited as Orpé took a few breaths and composed herself.
Orpé bowed her head deeply before Erna, and began to report.
“This is a message from the Grand Castle. It is said that this morning, the royal knights of the Aether Kingdom were seen crossing the border and advancing into the capital of Weimar, the border region of the Aether. At the same time, they have been contacting us about the reason for the unauthorized intrusion with the use of magic.”
At the word of her magic, Erna frowned. Until now, Aether had never been contacted by magic. In the past, when Kalion and Erna announced that they were going to have a child, didn’t they send a personal letter to them?
It’s because I can’t send it, though.
In the first place, communication requires a sender and a receiver. The same goes for communication through magic. No matter how many attempts were made in Aether to contact Hessenguard by magic, they had to specify the exact location of the recipient in order for them to receive it.
But it’s confidential.
Coordinates within the Grand Castle were only revealed for urgent contact with each city within Hessenguard. It was one of Hessenguard’s top secrets.
Even if they contacted areas other than those coordinates, they would be considered intrusion and would be blocked by the protection magic of the Grand Castle and exterminated. Hence, everyone has been contacting Erna through letters, but now, Aether was able to send a message with magic.
“The coordinates have been leaked, and they’re not even hiding the fact…”
Erna pressed her temples with a troubled face.
Disclosed coordinates are regularly changed once a month. However, the fact that they were contacted now meant that the coordinates were leaked from the Grand Castle within this month.
Did Ruben find out?
Ruben was only admitted as an instructor, so he could not know the coordinates. Erna recalled his behavior; he was especially friendly with the wizards.
“That bastard. Was he looking for it from the beginning?”
Erna was certain to reprimand the wizards for their carelessness, but it seemed that swearing at Ruben to relieve her anger was appropriately first on the list. Erna looked at Orpé, vowing to herself not to leave him alone when she returned to the castle.
“What was sent from Aether?”
“They want to ensure the safety of Ruben Aether, a member of the royal family of Aether.”
At Orpé’s words, Erna burst out laughing. After Ruben revealed his identity, Hessenguard immediately contacted Aether. But Aether didn’t respond.
Now you’re pretending to come and care for him.
Ruben was constantly monitored for any suspicious behavior. However, he must have been able to communicate with Aether through the spy that Ruben had planted in the Grand Castle.
Erna asked again, pressing her throbbing forehead.
“How many soldiers have passed over the border?”
“About five thousand.”
“What about contact after that?”
Erna frowned at the number of soldiers. Even for a general military, five thousand is a large scale. But that number of royal knights? It was a scale that could only be seen in a great battle.
“It is not a number that can be prepared in merely a few days. They must have already been waiting at the border.”
While contacting Ruben, Aether must have been prepared for any contingency.
And this will be the beginning.
Haband would immediately mobilize his troops once they discovered that Aether had crossed over. And the two are sure to clash on Hessenguard.
Erna gave her orders.
“I am returning to the Grand Castle right now. Orpé, you follow me, and tell the rest of the wizards to leave as soon as they are organized.”
Orpé bowed at Erna’s command and went back to the wizards. Erna began preparing to use the space travel magic.
It was magic she rarely used after confirming that it was successful, mainly because of its extreme consumption of magical power, and it put a lot of strain on her body after use. But now was not the time to hesitate. At this moment, Aether’s army will be advancing straight to the Grand Castle.
The Grand Castle won’t be easily invaded, but…
Just in case, the army of Aether must not find Ruben first. Ruben had to be taken out of the Grand Castle before Aether arrived. That way, Ruben will continue to believe that he had been completely cast away by the Aether.