Chapter 158 - Chapter 30: Exacerbation
The barbarians beyond the Western Limit Line had a distinctly different appearance from the barbarians beyond the Eastern Limit Line.
Their average height was over two meters, and they had blue skin. Their long coarse tails were reminiscent of a lizard’s, giving them a strong and flexible third hand or foot. That wasn’t all. There were usually one or two horns on their heads, with red or black eyes from which the whites parts were absent.
Among the tribes living in the Curtis region, the main ones were orcs which could be found anywhere in the Demon World. The next most common were lizardmen and harpies. There were also a handful of lamia.
Among the species in Curtis, none had an appearance similar to the western barbarians. Due to this, the western barbarians would stand out if they were in Curtis.
This was what made them different from the eastern barbarians. The western barbarians couldn’t infiltrate Curtis like the eastern barbarians had done in Takar and Evian. Moreover, Curtis wasn’t a lawless zone like Evian, nor was it a city like Takar where many species came and went. It was almost impossible for the western barbarians to penetrate deep into Curtis and attack the transportation formations all at the same time.
If so, who had done this? Who had destroyed the transportation formations? There wasn’t much information transmitted through communicators installed in the Gullam villages.
‘The transportation formation has been attacked. Other places seem to be under attack at the same time as well. The transportation formation has been destroyed.’
Those words were shrieked, but there was no further information.
Felicia took deep breaths. The transportation formations generally had weak defenses. Attacking the transportation formations was an act of treason against the Demon King’s Palace, so it was rare for anyone to try it. They were also mainly located inland, so they weren’t exposed to the enemies.
It was very shallow thinking, but she hadn’t been aware of the vulnerabilities until the transportation formation had been attacked.
Felicia thought deeply. As Carlos shouted, the entire transportation formation network in Curtis had been destroyed. Carlos had received the communication about the attack an hour ago. There was no additional communication, so it was reasonable to presume they had been destroyed.
Curtis had five transportation formations, so it would take a lot of organization to attack the five transportation formations at the same time without much of a time difference. Despite the weak defenses, it was a facility of the Demon King’s Palace and wasn’t a place which could be overthrown with impatience. Significant organizational skills and strength were required to suppress the entire transportation formation without anyone suspecting.
As she visualized all the conditions, an answer arose naturally. However, it was an answer she didn’t want to admit.
Felicia looked at In-gong. It was evident In-gong was thinking the same thing. Carack asked Carlos more questions.
Had he contacted Anastasia? There was no word from the front lines.
They shouldn’t expect any instructions from Anastasia, so they had to go and check out the situation.
Carlos stammered out, “There were no instructions from Anastasia. The only communication from the nearest military facility was a command to wait.”
Carack asked who managed the facility.
Felia, In-gong, Felicia and Carack swallowed their saliva as they waited for Carlos’ reply.
Carlos’ answer was short and terrible,
"T-the Paran tribe.”
One of Curtis’ three giant clans. They were a powerful force called the barrier of the Western Limit Line.
Carack looked at In-gong. Although it was just a hypothesis, In-gong, Carack and Felicia all thought the same thing.
The Paran clan had betrayed them.
The life of information was speed.
By delaying the transmission of information, the eyes and ears of people could be covered.
The news that the transportation formations had been destroyed didn’t reach Anastasia. There was a long distance between the fortress where she was and the transportation formations—a distance which couldn’t be seen with the naked eye. If the news wasn’t transmitted, there would be no way for Anastasia to know about the fall of the transportation formations.
It was the chief of the Paran clan, Berkintox, who had blocked the information. Once all five of Curtis’ transportation formations were destroyed by the Hwarin, he stood on a fortress overlooking the Western Limit Line.
The plan was proceeding smoothly. The transportation formations were destroyed, and the news hadn’t spread. He couldn’t completely block the delivery of the information to some areas in the rear, but that wasn’t a big problem. The important thing was that the main base wasn’t aware of the destruction.
The destruction of the transportation formations meant that intervention from the Demon King’s Palace was blocked. By the time the reinforcements entered Curtis, the situation would already be over. Even if they sent a large army, the result would still be the same.
After receiving the reports from his loyal men, Berkintox proceeded to the next step.
It was an easy task to occupy the fortresses connected to the limit line. The nightmares Anastasia had dispatched to the fortresses didn’t doubt the Paran clan due to their exchanges over the past month. The history of the Paran tribe, who had devoted their loyalty to the Demon King’s Palace over the past hundreds of years without any treason, was also helpful.
The incubi were all killed while the succubi were left as gifts for those who would soon be arriving.
The reports continued—all three fortresses in the vicinity of the limit line were in the hands of the Paran clan.
Berkintox ordered them to open their gates. The fortress gates, which had been closed firmly for many years, opened up and accepted the barbarians beyond the Western Limit Line.
The barbarians walked into Curtis and were delighted to receive the succubi, the gift from Berkintox. They accepted the alliance with the Paran tribe, who had killed them for many years, without hesitation. The reason for this was simple—the being behind both of them was the same one.
After crossing the limit line, the barbarians moved quickly. Exactly half of them moved to occupy the fortresses near the limit line, while the other half dug deeper into Curtis. They headed to the central fortress where Anastasia was staying.
It had been approximately one hour since the start of the attack on the transportation formations.
Around the time In-gong and Felicia suspected the Paran clan’s betrayal, numerous deaths occurred on the front lines where the information had been blocked off.
The troops who were guarding the fortresses faithfully, greeted their deaths without knowing about the Paran tribe’s betrayal. The orcs, who raised their spears and swords on the walls, had to watch helplessly as the gates opened.
Berkintox thought it would take two hours. Indeed, it went according to his thoughts. Anastasia only realized what was happening after an hour had passed and the surrounding fortresses had fallen.
Anastasia wasn’t incompetent, however, Berkintox had effectively masked her eyes and ears.
The barbarians surrounded the central fortress. Sadly for Berkintox and the barbarians, the gates didn’t open easily this time. It was because Anastasia had hastened to act after realizing what had happened.
Indeed, she led one of the three major factions in the Demon King’s Palace for a reason. After noticing the Paran clan’s betrayal, she took control of the central fortress instantly. However, by that time, it was too late. Once two hours had passed like Berkintox had anticipated, Anastasia was isolated in the middle of the barbarians.
Berkintox acknowledged Anastasia’s capabilities, but he was also well aware of her limits. It was why he didn’t rush to the central fortress and cut off her neck.
It was up to the barbarians to make the central fortress fall. Some of the barbarians and orcs, who had betrayed the Demon King’s Palace, spoke about Anastasia’s slyness, but their words were insignificant to Berkintox.
He led the Paran warriors past the central fortress to secure the rear bases which might be confused by the sudden command to wait.
It had been two to three hours since the transportation formations had been destroyed. General Sorak, an orc, reported urgent news to Berkintox.
"Victor is outside the fortress!”
3rd Prince Victor Nekrion...
He was the older brother of 4th Princess Anastasia Nekrion and a powerful magician. Victor had led a group of troops to inspect the facilities and villages to the south of the central fortress. It was a fact Berkintox didn’t know because Victor had moved secretly.
The generally bold Sorak was restless. Victor was a child of the demon king, and he wasn’t an easy opponent. It was clear he would gather the troops in the south to rescue Anastasia. So, right now, he should be returning to the central fortress to help support it.
However, Berkintox didn’t think so. Having seen Anastasia and Victor over the past month, he found a serious error in them Sorak didn’t know about.
“It is more important to keep moving forward and take control of the rear bases. The barbarians will take care of Princess Anastasia as planned.”
Hearing this, Sorak yelled and questioned Berkintox. Securing Anastasia was important, and it wasn’t because she was a powerful magician.
Securing Anastasia was a means to overwhelm those who didn’t agree with them or who had yet to grasp the full scope of the situation. It was also aimed at getting rid of those who were loyal to the Demon King’s Palace.
However, Berkintox was just leaving her alone. What if Victor really went to rescue Anastasia?
“He won’t go.”
Berkintox declared, while Sorak wondered what he was talking about.
Berkintox recalled his memories of Anastasia and Victor instead of explaining, and he couldn’t help laughing bitterly.
Victor Nekrion stared into the darkness. His aide, the succubus, Perope, listed the information discovered so far.
All the transportation formations had been destroyed. The fortresses at the Western Limit Line had opened their gates, and the barbarians had taken over all the fortresses in the area. The process had been so easy that there had to be traitors.
The number of barbarians surrounding the central fortress couldn’t be grasped, and there were no troops nearby to support the central fortress. It had been besieged, and the number of barbarians kept growing. It was estimated that monsters beyond the limit line had also crossed over.
Time continued to flow, and with every minute and second that passed, the situation became worse.
Should he go and save Anastasia with his current forces? If there were strikes from the inside and outside, he could get her out somehow.
Victor made calculations in his head, then he came to a conclusion.
The chance of saving Anastasia was too low, and it would become worse if Victor tried to save her.
"Anastasia would have the same idea.”
Victor turned around with no signs of regret. Perope, a long time aide of Victor, looked in the direction of the central fortress where Anastasia was but didn’t try to persuade Victor otherwise.
This was a rational judgement, not one due to sentiment or emotion. Like Victor said, Anastasia would be thinking the same thing.
Victor moved to the south instead of the north, where the central fortress was located. He planned to secure the southern troops which had yet to fall into the hands of the traitors.
It was late at night. While everyone else was sleeping, it was the time when the minds of the nightmares were the clearest.
Anastasia accepted the situation which was changing rapidly. She pushed down her anger at the treachery and made efforts to grasp the situation. It wasn’t good. This was a desperate situation. The time to hurry and retreat had already passed. The central fortress was completely surrounded, and the attack would start soon.
Anastasia took a deep breath. Her aide, the succubus, Chandra, begged her despite knowing it wouldn’t work.
‘Run away alone.’ If she were alone, she would be able to escape somehow as the siege wasn’t complete yet.
However, Anastasia wouldn’t listen. She wasn’t someone who could throw away her people and run away alone. It wasn’t because of affection. She didn’t love the people below her. However, it was her duty and responsibility as someone in a higher position.
The nightmares were on the fortress walls, preparing to stop the attack. The soldiers encouraged each other by saying Prince Victor would come with reinforcements. The words were good, but Anastasia gave a heartbreaking smile.
"Orabeoni won’t come.”
He wouldn’t come. Victor would probably move to secure the troops in the south. If so, Anastasia’s role was to buy as much time as possible for him.
Chandra didn’t deny Anastasia’s words. However, what if the situation was reversed? Would Anastasia throw Victor away?
It was a meaningless speculation. Anastasia laughed bitterly.
"I’m glad that I sent Felicia to the rear.”
They might have crossed words at Baikal orabeoni’s tea party, but Felicia was Anastasia’s favourite sister. She had placed Felicia at the very rear, so Felicia wouldn’t be swept up in this.
‘Will she try to come rescue me?’
It was a scenario which was possible if it were Felicia. She was a person who behaved emotionally, rather than with her head.
Anastasia recalled Silvan. He would act stupidly if Felicia were in her situation right now. Even if he were alone, Silvan would probably rush to the central fortress to save her.
It was stupid. Even so, he was a good fool. Somehow, Anastasia didn’t hate it.
Anastasia changed her bitter expression back to a cold and elegant smile. She then shook her head and stared at the barbarians beyond the fortress. There were too many of them. The roar of the monsters, heard from afar, tightened a grip around her heart.
However, Anastasia wasn’t afraid. If she showed fear, everyone in the fort would fall into greater anxiety and terror.
Dawn would arrive soon.
The battle of the central fortress began.
TL Note: I actually felt better a few days ago but being sick has made me fall really behind on my schoolwork. There is still a bit left, so the schedule for the rest of the week will be irregular. Basically, whenever I finish a chapter. The regular schedule will resume starting from next week.
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