At the forefront were a few knights of Hessenguard with a distinct color of red around their wrists, which shall exclude them from any hostility.
Erna muttered helplessly as she glimpsed the banners of the Council.
I told you to leave.
Erna’s gaze met with Vanessa’s. Her gaze was firm and resolute, as if without a care for the army behind her back. Vanessa and all members of the Council were ordered to evacuate along with the citizens. It was a reward for their dedication for the past ten years, whatever the purpose was.
Erna no longer had the resolve to unravel the truth one by one. She knew it would only cause her more pain.
That’s why I decided to let go of everything and give you one more chance.
The armies of the two countries faced each other in the square in front of the castle. Sensitive horses, recognizing the tense atmosphere, shook their heads with a snort. To raise morale, the knights raised their swords and shouted.
Orpé approached Erna and asked in a worried voice, “What are you going to do now?”
To be honest, Orpé didn’t know what Erna was thinking. Erna had been doing things she couldn’t have guessed for the last few weeks.
“Are you worried?” Erna asked Orpé.
“It’s okay.” Erna forced a smile, “No one will get hurt.”
“No,” Orpé interjected, “I’m worried about the Grand Duchess. “Are you hiding something from us?”
When Erna was silent, she spoke again in a low voice, “Not the magic entrusted to us… Were you making something else?”
Erna smiled bitterly. Orpé, as expected, was quick-witted. Since Ruben felt it, Orpé would have felt it too, but she didn’t expect for Orpé to be aware of what she had been doing all along.
“I’ll show you,” Erna said. She didn’t want to hide it any more. She stretched her hand forward and started drawing symbols in the air.
In an instant, the entire capital shook with a loud noise. Everyone in the castle froze in their positions, startled by the strong vibration, including the two armies.
Red letters began to emerge from the grounds of the castle. Orpé stared blankly at the spell for a moment and then screamed.
“Do you recognize it?” Erna asked. She was staring at her creation, too.
When the other wizards belatedly realized, a look of horror was etched on their faces. Even the knights who could not read magic formulas became tense at the enormous spell that suddenly appeared.
“When and where…!”
Orpé could barely speak in shock. Erna smiled kindly at her.
“You know what, Orpé? There are two massive pillars in the basement of the Grand Castle. You can check it out when you return. I also left a record in my room, so check that too.”
“What? What does that mean… Wait a minute. What are you talking about?”
Orpé couldn’t understand why Erna was talking as if she was going to disappear.
“And Orpé, there’s one more.”
With a move of her fingers, another magic emerged on the grounds. Fortunately, this time it was magic that Orpé was familiar with. It was also harmless.
“Didn’t I say no one would get hurt?”
Before Orpé could grab Erna’s hand, the magic was activated. In a blink, Orpé and everyone else in the castle vanished without a trace. At the same time, Erna collapsed helplessly to the floor without anyone to support her. An enormous amount of mana was just drained from her body, leaving her weak and dizzy.
A few steps away, Ruben browsed his surroundings, noticing that everyone had disappeared. His voice quivered as he asked Erna, “What, what happened…”
Erna rose to her feet, swallowed a moan. It was never easy to transfer hundreds or nearly a thousand people at once with magic. It was fortunate she managed to. They should have all landed safely on a wide plain, about a day-long from here.
Erna leaned against the wall and conjured another spell again. The armies of the two kingdoms, noticing the incident, held their gazes firmly on the castle.
“Then there is only one thing left to do,” Erna muttered as she raised her hand.
The ground shook violently and the magic formula engraved on the ground ascended to the sky, revealing its appearance completely. Letters of death and destruction began to flash an ominous red over Hessengard.
* * *
“What is that?”
At last, on a hill overlooking the capital of Hessenguard, Kalion gazed at the sky above him, panting. Something ominous was hovering over the Grand Castle. Kalion had already spent so much time with Erna for him not to know. This was not some little magic to bloom flowers—this felt like doom. He knew only Erna could create such a powerful thing. And that it wouldn’t be good for her.
Without a second’s delay, Kalion galloped to the castle, crying out Erna’s name with a mix of fury and longing. There was only one thought in his mind: To get to Erna, no matter what.
Stop it, Erna. I’m here.