Vanessa inhaled her cigarette a few more times before settling down on her desk. When the image of Adelaide in disguise a little while ago crossed her mind, she burst into laughter.
During her conversation with the princess, Vanessa had to try to contain her rising emotions over and over again.
“From the moment I got off the wagon, I loved the castle. If you think about it, it might have been fate,” Adelaide had said to her.
With a mere glance at her face, Vanessa could tell exactly what Adelaide was thinking. She had already imagined, after joining hands with the Council, expelling Aether’s army with Erna from Hessenguard. Her marriage to Kalion would soon follow shortly, and she would achieve her dream: to become the master of the Grand Castle.
Certainly, Adelaide’s fantasies shall become a reality to some extent. She shall drive the army of Aether out from Hessenguard. After she has done so, Vanessa’s black hounds shall take care of the rest.
It won’t be easy, but…
Vanessa counted the number of black hounds she had placed around Adelaide. There were six people who entered the guest house as the princess’s attendants; while the number of people disguised as simple miscellaneous workers exceeded two digits.
Adelaide’s servants did not need to disguise themselves in the first place. They’ve always been her servants.
The black hounds are not only found within the Grand Caste, or the Council and the capital, but in other kingdoms as well. And only Vanessa knew all these people.
Occasionally, others had suggested that it would be better to make the black hound constitution a better organization, but Vanessa strictly ignored the proposals. In response to Vanessa’s attitude, some had assumed, and spread, that Vanessa was trying to turn the black hounds into a private organization so she could wield its power at will.
That’s true. Indeed, Vanessa did attempt to turn the black hounds into something that only she could manipulate. That way, I can disappear after I die.
The black dogs have the force that can threaten the archduke and the other royals. It is also the force she ought to eradicate when Hessenguard stabilizes.
But even the black dogs have their limits: they are not an army.
“It’s hard to get your hands on something like this…”
Vanessa pulled out the ashtray that had been hidden deep in the drawer and put out the cigarette. Then she turned her gaze to the map on the desk. Her eyes wrinkled at a certain location on the map, written as “Wynfield Valley.”
It is quite a long and deep valley. In fact, it is an understatement to call it a valley; it is more of a mountain range.
Black dogs have been waiting at the end of the valley and have been constantly reporting. The valley was inaccessible. Near the entrance of the valley, they could hear sounds originating from the forest within, but they couldn’t catch a glimpse of what transpired inside. Magic was definitely involved.
“This scheme certainly involves an entire kingdom…”
Kalion was not the only target. The opponent had aimed at the entire Hessenguard’s Knights Order. Vanessa rummaged the drawer again. Another cigarette hidden a little deeper was caught in between her fingers.
“Only a kingdom can fight with another kingdom.”
If Erna were to find out, Vanessa knew her neck would be in danger.
But it couldn’t be helped. Now that Erna was unable to move, Haband’s power was crucial to rescue Kalion from Wynfield Valley. As soon as possible.
* * *
Deep in the Wynfield mountains, Kalion was watching knights preparing for camp. The air was filled with the sound of their movements, but no laughter, nor chatter, could be heard, contrary to the usual.
It has been two weeks since they have been isolated in the valley.
Kalion looked at the forest around the campsite. He could feel an unpleasant energy moving beyond the dark forest. After exchanging attacks with each other for two weeks, his and the knights’ bodies became more sensitive to the enemy’s energy. After a while, the energy disappeared. Judging from their behavior, they seemed to be taking a rest tonight, too.
While Kalion was monitoring their surroundings, Cedric returned after checking the knights’ camp.
“Did they go?” he asked.
“I think so. What’s our situation?” Kalion replied.
“It’s not much different from yesterday. No additional injuries or deaths. However, it seems that the inexperienced knights are mentally driven a little.”
“Then tell them to get a good night’s sleep. I don’t think there will be an attack tonight.”
Cedric’s expression brightened slightly at Kalion’s words. For the past three days, the demons have discreetly stormed the campsite just before everyone fell into a deep sleep. Fortunately, most of those who accompanied Kalion were the elite knights of Hessenguard. No matter how much the monsters attacked, they were not easily defeated.
However, as the incident persisted for several days, some knights were bound to be overpowered by fatigue. One knight, who was overcome with exhaustion, eventually fell asleep while he was on guard and was taken away by the demons.
The knights who witnessed the scene rushed to rescue their comrade, but the horses were not fast enough. Eventually, the knight lost his left arm.
The knights of Hessenguard gave generous effort to support the rest of the lives of the knights wounded in battle. Although he may have lost his left arm, his name will be engraved in the Knights Templar, and he is allowed to work in the Templar, receiving an ample monthly payment.
But all of that cannot pacify the frustration of losing an arm.
Perhaps because they had seen a fellow comrade injured, since then knights have become more vigilant. As a result, despite several clashes with the monsters, no one was fatally injured or killed. But surely, they were all exhausted.
“You should get some sleep, too. You hardly rested for three days.” Cedric told Kalion.
“Yes, I’ll get some sleep today, so please.”
Cedric noticed that Kalion was tired too, seeing him obediently agreeing.
After telling Cedric to check a few more things, Kalion turned and went under the tree he had been eyeing. It would be disadvantageous to sleep in a tent when surrounded by demons. If there is an attack, you won’t be able to secure your field of vision immediately.
Finally, Kalion lay down on the same sleeping bag as the other knights.
I’ll kill you all.