The news that the armies of the four kingdoms had all begun to invade quickly spread, and Erna was tenfold busier. Fortunately, the armies of the four kingdoms were approaching the capital through different routes, so there was no conflict among themselves within Hessenguard.
It was a good thing that there had been no victims yet, but Erna could not hide her disappointment at the fact that the cities were not very willing to stop the invasion.
Because their attitude meant it didn’t matter who became the ruler.
“At least I should think that it’s a good thing that I’m being kept informed,” muttered Erna.
The wizards in the city reported the size and pace of each country’s armies, as well as their singularities, directly to the Grand Castle, which allowed Erna to quickly grasp the situation.
Erna counted the number of able men remaining in the Grand Castle. Knights and foot soldiers combined amounted to three thousand—a number insufficient to confront even only the army of Aether in front of them.
Then, you have to battle amongst yourselves first.
Erna looked at the models of each country’s army on the map. Among them, she stared at the model of the Aether army. The question was how to get each army to encounter one another.
If Kalion was here, I would have come up with something. Battles were Kalion’s forte. If he was by her side, perhaps he and Erna would’ve strategized together.
After thinking for a while, Erna sighed. She couldn’t think of any good way, so she decided to concentrate on other matters.
During the day, Erna had led Ruben out of hiding. He then summoned the leader of the Knight Commander of the Order of Aether into the Grand Duke Castle to meet the two of them discreetly.
The commander must have assumed Ruben was dead. Though he bowed his head, he was unable to hide his surprise at the sight of him alive. Furthermore, he seemed to seek additional information regarding the occurrences within the Grand Duke Castle. He offered to serve Ruben as a knight, but Ruben refused his proposal and pulled Erna toward him.
He meant for the knight not to worry, because he and Erna were in a special relationship. But also because he didn’t trust Aether entirely.
Erna rubbed the arm that Ruben had touched, feeling offended. Even though she had washed the area more than twice, the unpleasant feeling of his touch still lingered on her skin.
Erna exhaled deeply. The speed at which the three armies advancing toward Hessenguard were the same, which posed further threat. If this persists, too big a collision will occur near the capital. Furthermore, the knights of the Grand Duke Castle must also participate.
“Should I stop at least one army?”
As Erna mumbled to herself, she remembered the magic formula she had tasked Orpé, along with other wizards, to complete. And after long days and endless nights, the magic formula was now complete enough to be used.
Originally, it was created to save Kalion. But if she were to use it to stop an army…
Erna rose from her seat and sat on the floor. Unlike castles in other kingdoms, the Grand Castle of Hessengard was built as a fortress, so the floors felt like cold stone.
“It’s definitely down there, but…”
With the ancient letters she found overnight, Erna was able to magically trace the same letters beneath the Grand Castle. In addition, she successfully gauged their approximate power.
Compared to other kingdoms, Hessenguard housed exceptionally powerful magic. In the past, Erna assumed it was because the first grand duke was a wizard and magic in the Grand Castle itself was strong, which she also thought was a product of the massive pillars underground.
If only I could use that power the way I want it, Erna thought, I could wipe them all out.
The power that has protected Hessengard for nearly a thousand years is perhaps the strongest force in the entire history of the continent. What would happen if there was even a slight mishandling of such immense magic? The most dangerous person would be the wizard who would dare yield that power.
Erna tapped the floor with her finger.
I might die.
As the possibility crossed her mind, Kalion’s voice echoed in her head. “Are you crazy? Why don’t you just get out of the Grand Castle?” In her head, Kalion was frowning and held both his palms against his ears, as if he had nothing to hear any more.
Erna cupped her chin and murmured softly, “But I am the Grand Duchess of Hessengard.” No matter what anyone said, the position was hers. If so, shouldn’t her obligations be fulfilled accordingly?
A knock sounded on the door while Erna contemplated. Erna hurriedly got up and allowed the other party to enter. Orpé hastily came in and placed a piece of paper on top of the map.
“This is news from a while ago,” she said rather excitedly.
Erna asked, “What’s going on?”
“Kelon’s army has stopped advancing!”
Erna’s eyes widened at those words.
* * *
Kelon’s army was bewildered. The armies of the other kingdoms would all be advancing towards the capital from quite a distance. So what is this army that is attacking them now?
It wasn’t the only baffling thing.
“How did this happen? Why is there no end of the road!”
The capital was clearly visible at the end of the road a while ago. In fact, the city remains detectable. But no matter how far they ran toward it, they couldn’t reach the capital. There was only one explanation: magic.
“What are our wizards doing!”
As soon as the knight commander shouted, the space shook, and the walls of the city appeared much closer. The moment they thought they had finally escaped the space-shifting magic, they realized that their army had been scattered throughout the place.
“Everyone, assemble again! Formation!”
At that moment, an arrow pierced the knight commander’s hand.
The pained groan that left the commander’s lips became the signal. Suddenly, knights rushed out from the surrounding forest and began to attack them.
Kelon had suffered a lot of damage from the war with Haband, so sending 3,000 men as an advance squad was all the kingdom could afford. The army was divided into 1,000 men in the lead army and 2,000 men in the rear. Currently, the 2,000 men in the rear were being ambushed.
As the 2,000 knights were disconcerted by the contorted space, they were further divided into tens or hundreds at most and their military strength rapidly weakened.
When the soldiers of Kelon saw the knights attacking them, they doubted their own eyes.
Ironically, it was those who wore the same armor as them that were attacking them. They couldn’t see their faces because they were wearing helmets, but the armor and weapons they possessed were definitely Kelon’s.
“Why the hell… Ugh!”
Before the mystery could be resolved, their consciousness came to an end. When the battle that had lasted for hours was over, the forest was filled with only the blood of the dead and the harsh breathing of the survivors.
Cedric removed his helmet and grumbled, “Kelon’s armor is terribly heavy.”
Next to him, Kalion followed suit. “Cedric, you ought to train yourself a little more.” He then gestured to the knights and the knights gathered the weapons of the fallen.
Kalion looked around and muttered contentedly, “This could do.”
He brought the surviving horses and handed one of them to Cedric. He then mounted the horse and said, “Hurry. The next target is the army of the city of Nandes.”
Perhaps in two days, Nandes’ army will be battling against Kelon’s army. In the future, the two countries would certainly protest and fight against each other, but Kalion couldn’t care less. His only goal was to stop the kingdoms from advancing toward Hessenguard, where Erna is left alone.