Episode 117. The Red Devil of the Azure Sky (1)

It was undeniable that knights had powerful bodies worthy of their status as superhuman beings.

However, they were still human. No matter how transcendent their abilities may be, they would die if deprived of food and sleep.

“So you’re going to harass them to death?”

After initially pouting, Aria Eisen quickly gained interest in Seon-Hyeok’s new plan. Excited, she took the lead and peppered the knights with weaker spells.

“You damned Drake Knight! Come down here so we can fight fairly to the death!”

“You won’t get away with this!”

The knights’ stress reached a peak after having countless spells raining down on them at all hours of the day.

“Die!”

Despite being aware of the futility of their actions, the knights hurled their daggers into the air and squandered their strength by calling forth their sword energy.

Seon-Hyeok smiled, seeing the knights lose their composure faster than he imagined.

As he hoped, compared to their strong physique, knights were mentally fragile.

Then again, this was not completely beyond expectations. Knights were given the best of the royal support and could spend their days honing their skills with the sword. When would they ever face such an extreme situation as they found themselves in now?

“The Sasteins were stronger.”

If the Sastein cavalry were like hardy weeds on the battlefield, the knights were no different from plants carefully cultivated in greenhouses.

For them, the random, intermittent spells pouring down from the skies was a source of unbearable stress.

“I’ll bleed you all dry.”

***

“You…”

Commander Halo of the Red Wolves was at a loss when he belatedly arrived on the front lines and saw the sorry state of Commander Rochstadt, a knight and friend he had spent a long time training with.

The knight’s shining armor was red, rusted, and breaking away, and his fine face was covered with hideous wounds.

His eyes, which normally flashed with intelligence and confidence, were white and hazy like those of an old, decrepit man.

“I have no excuses.”

Halo shut his eyes when he heard his friend struggle to enunciate through his melted-away lips.

“I lost twenty-six apprentice knights and six knights. One senior knight is crippled as well.”

Considering the shape their commander was in, the other knights could not possibly have fared any better.

“Ugh.”

Despite the midsummer weather, the knight shuddered, hands and feet rotting away as though devastated by frostbite.

On the other hand, the knight standing next to him gasped for breath, face charred and blistered like a man suffering from heat stroke.

“What the hell…”

Seeing the two knights in front of him, Halo could not tell whether they were in the middle of a frigid winter or the sweltering heat of summer.

“As you can see, we’re all exhausted.”

The types and degrees of injuries suffered by the knights were all different, but they had one thing in common.

They were all reeling from extreme fatigue and stress.

“What happened here?”

Halo could not understand what had caused these powerful knights to become like this.

“There…”

Commander Rochstadt spoke through his trembling lips.

“There’s a devil here.”

“The enemy doesn’t discriminate between day and night. The barracks where the knights slept repeatedly went up in flames, and there have even been times when rocks rained down from above. Sometimes, we’d doze off, only to wake up and find our surroundings entirely frozen.”

Commander Rochstadt explained in detail the horrors his soldiers had endured. He spoke about the Drake Knight’s surprise assault, resulting in the annihilation of the mages, and how they had subsequently been plagued by endless magical attacks.

“I’ve tried to split up the forces and used every countermeasure I could think of, but the losses only grew. No matter how hard we tried, the devil toyed with us from beyond our reach.”

Commander Rochstadt trembled as he spoke, haunted by the memories of his harrowing experiences.

“Both my subordinates and I just want to rest now.”

The words of this man, one blessed enough to reach the pinnacle of the Noctein knights, were no different from the complaints of a senile old man.

“Hm.”

When his own knights showed signs of discomfort at their allies’ shocking appearance, Commander Halo quickly sent the Blue Wolves back to their quarters.

“Those injuries are magical in nature. I don’t know who’s behind it, but that mage is skilled.”

Once Commander Rochstadt and the Blue Wolves disappeared, Talisman, the head of the 4th mage unit, clicked his tongue and spoke up.

“Can you heal them?”

“If the remaining traces of magic are removed, their flesh will grow back, and they’ll get better. But even if their bodies recover, do you think their broken wills can do the same?”

Commander Halo had expected the worst himself, but it was unreasonable to expect compassion from the mage.

Mages were realists, almost to the point of excess, and Talisman was no different.

“They’re no different from broken swords. The other mages and I would rather return to the capital than stand alongside them in battle.”

After all, the Knights of the Blue Wolves now had a history of failing to protect the mages under their leadership – even when they were mentally stable.

It would have been strange for the distrusting mages to have faith now, considering the Blue Wolves were in their current sorry state.

Talisman expressed his strong disapproval, and Halo could not refute his adamant stance.

Even he could tell that the Blue Wolves were no longer capable of fulfilling their roles in battle.

“Hm… the Drake Knight. I’ve heard of him before, but it seems he’s even greater than I imagined. To think that he could bring the Blue Wolves down to this state…”

“His achievements may have been great up until now, but I won’t let him freely fly in the skies again. I promise you that he’ll regret running into us.”

Talisman expressed his strong confidence as Halo lamented.

“Do you have a plan?”

“Do you know what our unit’s specialty is?”

The old mage slowly stretched out his fingertips as he spoke.

“We control the wind. The Drake Knight’s defeat will be decided the moment he chooses that windy sky as his battlefield.”

Halo was impressed. The mage’s words seemed quite plausible.

“It’s possible the Drake Knight is aiming for this place as we speak. I hope he recklessly charges at us out of sheer overconfidence – I will personally carry out his funeral.”

The mage was full of confidence, and he seemed ready to kill the Drake Knight then and there.

***

In reality, Seon-Hyeok was nowhere to be seen on the eastern battlefront at that time.

Because the situation had changed, it was no longer possible for him to wreak havoc on the battlefield as he had done before. So long as the mages, with their excellent anti-aerial capabilities, were present, he had to proceed with caution.

“Thanks to your heroics in restraining the Noctein knights, we were able to endure without suffering heavy casualties until our own knights arrived.”

The enemy was not the only ones with reinforcements. The Adenburg knights and mages finally reached the front after a long journey from the capital, and Seon-Hyeok chose to leave the battle to them as he once again got on Redvern’s back.

“Let’s see.”

Seon-Hyeok flew along the river until he felt a familiar presence.

“Bluegon.”

Bluegon had finally joined him on the front lines after two weeks of traveling by water.

Seeing the sea dragon’s bloated size, Seon-Hyeok wondered what Bluegon had eaten on its way here, but above all, he was quick to check on the creature’s current obedience stat.

Fortunately, Bluegon’s obedience had not dropped much over the preceding weeks.

“Let’s go.”

After checking on Bluegon’s condition, he immediately flew up. However, he headed not towards Fort Kalstein, but in the opposite direction.

Seon-Hyeok followed the river and flew past the front lines, finding a spot between the eastern and central territories of the Noctein Kingdom. His plan now was to act as a roadblock from this location.

This was the choke point through which the Noctein soldiers advanced to the front lines, and this was the arena in which Bluegon would show its strength.

“Bluegon. Don’t let a single ship pass.”

Bluegon had been suppressing its brutal and vicious instincts all this time, but now they were set free. The sea dragon did not hesitate to bear down on the enemy’s lifelines.

Roar!

“M, monster!”

“S, save me!”

Even the massive ships along the ocean could not withstand the attack of a sea dragon, and naturally, the supply ships going back and forth across the river had no chance.

The transport ships sank, carrying with them food for the soldiers’ stomachs and weapons to replace their broken spears and swords.

***

“Our supply units were attacked by a monster and have been lost!”

“What!”

The Noctein Eastern Army, after desperately waiting for supplies to arrive, belatedly learned that their ships had been attacked by the enemy. By this point, dozens of supply ships had already sunk as a result of Bluegon’s assault.

The Nocteins had suffered heavy casualties to their infantry, cavalry, knights, and mages. Now that they were faced with supply issues as well, the war situation seemed untenable.

To make matters even worse, the devil roaming the sky had begun terrorizing the front after a brief disappearance.

“Come. It’ll be your last.”

The Red Wolves and the mage unit sharpened their swords and waited for their day to fight this devil from Adenburg – the powerful foe responsible for annihilating 30 mages and turning their allied knights into worthless soldiers.

However, the devil mocked them. He only attacked the infantry and cavalry.

The Eastern Army could not prepare any countermeasures, as the Drake Knight moved faster than their fastest horses.

The losses mounted, and the Eastern Army fell into a panic.

The soldiers feared the soldier atop his wyvern, referring to him as the Red Devil, and even the sight of a bird in the skies sent shivers down their spines.

It was impossible to properly maintain the front lines in this situation. The soldiers were too preoccupied with watching the skies to concentrate on the battles at hand, and it became commonplace for them to lose helplessly on battlefields where they had equal or even greater numbers.

Rather than reclaim their lost territory, the Nocteins now had to worry about the safety of their central territories.

In the end, within two short months since the start of the war, the Noctein Eastern Army was driven to the point of completely abandoning the eastern portion of their kingdom.

***

The war did not just take place at the border.

Having already mobilized all of their forces, the Nocteins did not hesitate to pursue less savory tactics, such as the assassination of enemy leaders.

“Useless.”

Marquis Reinhardt snorted at the Nocteins’ pitiful attempts as he took charge in guarding not only the royal family, but also other major figures within the capital.

In the first place, the Nocteins had been spread thin by conflicts in both the east and the west, and they were unable to efficiently distribute their powerful knights.

On the other hand, the Adenburg Kingdom had resources to spare, and faced no shortage of knights to call on.

These knights were placed under Marquis Reinhardt’s command and served to protect the people of importance at Adenstein. Naturally, the vast majority of Noctein assassination attempts were doomed to fail.

A few unlucky lords met an unfortunate end, but their deaths proved insignificant in affecting the great kingdom’s day-to-day operations.

It was during these assassination attempts that the Rheinperle territory was also targeted.

It was not as though there was anything of importance at Rheinperle, considering the absence of its lord, but the Nocteins seemed thirsty for revenge after suffering at Seon-Hyeok’s hands.

“All of you, complete your missions, and we’ll convene at the next destination.”

The Noctein knights infiltrating Rheinperle could never have imagined what would happen next. After all, how could they possibly think that someone with transcendent abilities called this rural territory home?

“Why is there a senior knight in the countryside…”

The assailants’ misfortune was in being unaware that the Adenburg royal princess had sent Asha Trail, the knight with Gradus 46, to Rheinperle on a whim.

“Keok.”

Instead of responding, Asha Trail cut off the assassin’s escape path and decapitated him.

“T, thank you, Sir Trail. If you weren’t here…”

Antoine Montaigne, the acting lord of Rheinperle, spoke up in a daze.

“I was just doing my duty.”

She left the frightened old scholar behind and headed out of the lord’s estate. She looked unreasonably relaxed for having just dispatched two Noctein knights.

“There were five intruders, but they’ve all been taken care of.”

But the rest of the attackers were subdued before she had the chance to step up.

The attacker seeking to set the warehouses on fire was ripped to pieces by Goldrake, not noticing the drake hidden in the dark, and the remaining attacker died after a heated battle against Jackson, Julian and Tristan.

“It seems the war will end soon.”

“Huh?”

Julian smiled at Asha Trail’s words.

“If the Nocteins hadn’t been driven to the edge, they wouldn’t be wasting their precious resources on maneuvers like this. It’s clear that our forces on the front lines are doing well.”

It was as she predicted.

The Noctein Kingdom chose to abandon the east to protect the ever-worsening western front, and they sent a special envoy to negotiate the end of the war.

At the same time, they prepared for one final battle in a last-ditch attempt to recover some territory and advance the front lines before entering negotiations.

“Whatever else happens, I’ll slay the Drake Knight.”

Commander Halo was exhausted from the frequent fights against the Adenburg knights, but his eyes shone dangerously as he vowed revenge.

“I promise you, that wyvern won’t be able to spread his wings in front of me.”

Talisman stepped up to support Halo.

“Let’s go.”

They formed a group from the senior knights and the strongest mages to pursue the Drake Knight.

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