Episode 118. The Red Devil of the Azure Sky (2)

“Hm?”

Seon-Hyeok first noticed the signs around the time he caught up to a moving infantry company. He frowned – the change was so subtle that he would not have noticed if he was not being vigilant.

“Hmm…”

There was no place to hide in the wilderness, and there was no presence among the infantry moving like a line of worker ants that could pose a threat.

However, he did not ignore the alarms going off in his body.

On this day, he did not even have Aria Eisen to support him. A mage’s body was too frail to endure such a murderous flight schedule, and he had decided to give her a break for the day. So long as he was in enemy territory alone, he could not overlook even the slightest of abnormalities.

Let’s head back.

He had no reason to overexert himself. He had already made tremendous contributions in this war, and the war situation would not significantly change if he failed to deal with this single infantry company.

“Let’s head up, Redvern.”

After looking at the back of the infantry for a while, Seon-Hyeok tapped Redvern on the neck and told the wyvern to ascend.

Am I overreacting?

He smiled bitterly when he noticed the danger signs grow as he rose further from the ground.

He had taken care to only harass the Noctein forces from the safety of the skies, but the fatigue of battle still accumulated. It was not strange that he found himself stressed from leading dozens of enemy bombings in a short period of time.

His expression belatedly hardened upon realizing that he was alone beyond enemy lines, somewhere he could not rely on allied support.

Whew.

Seon-Hyeok was finally able to exhale once he was far in the air, barely able to make out the figures on the ground. However, it was premature for him to be relieved. Before he could take in another breath, the sense of imminent danger overwhelmed him once again.

The ominous sensation felt as though he had a dagger pointed to the tip of his chin, and he pressed Redvern on.

“Redvern, hurry…”

Before he could even finish, the eerie sensation became reality.

Thud.

Redvern bounced off of something invisible as the wyvern flapped its wings.

Shriek?

The wyvern tilted its head in confusion before trying once again.

Thud.

The results remained the same. Redvern was unable to move forward or rise any higher, as though there was an invisible wall in their way.

“What the hell…”

Seon-Hyeok squinted his eyes upon noticing this bewildering situation. The air that Redvern just hit faintly shimmered.

***

“Got them.”

Talisman smiled slyly as he saw the plummeting wyvern. Shockingly, his uniform was that of a common infantryman.

It was not just the mage.

“I wonder if we had to go this far.”

Halo, the commander of the Red Wolves, complained as he drew his sword. Like Talisman, he wore a nondescript uniform and not his usual flamboyant armor.

“Didn’t you just see? He tried to pull away just before he descended. If we didn’t have these disguises, we would’ve never caught that sneaky bastard.”

It was as Talisman said. Commander Halo’s heart had sank when the Drake Knight stopped trailing them and suddenly ascended.

“You’re certain he can’t escape from here?”

He was still concerned that the Drake Knight would just fly away.

“From here? This magic was developed to deal with the Seven Knights of the Azure Sky. Stopping one rider is a piece of cake.”

The old mage confidently addressed his concerns.

“Now that the barrier magic has been activated, I assure you that nobody will be able to leave this area for at least a day.”

Halo was reassured, seeing the normally wary mage speak up so confidently. He removed his helmet and gestured. Six senior knights, hidden among the infantry, pulled out their swords and stepped forward.

“He’s an unpredictable foe, so let’s get this over with quickly.”

“Oh? I was just about to get started. You Red Wolves can sit back and watch for a while.”

A hideous smile formed on Talisman’s old, wrinkled face as he gave an order to his subordinates.

“Begin the hunt.”

Five mages began their incantations after hearing their leader’s command.

***

Seon-Hyeok realized that he had fallen into a trap. The Noctein knights and mages causing a great commotion from far away were all doing so to bring about this current situation.

“Damn it.”

He was a bird in a cage, caught in the Nocteins’ devious scheme.

When had this all gone wrong? Did I become overconfident after repeated victories? Did I rely too much on the safety of the skies?

There was no way to know.

The only thing that was for certain was that the enemy had been waiting for him from the beginning. It would be difficult to escape through the transparent barrier cast on all sides.

Seon-Hyeok saw a few soldiers stepping away from the hundred infantry in the distance and wondered why it had taken him so long to notice. He felt a familiar presence from them.

Their fighting spirit, sharp as a well-honed blade, could only be seen from knights meticulously trained in swordsmanship. It was clear that they were all on the level of senior knights.

No. That’s not what’s important now.

It was clear that the knights were powerful, but they could not bother him when he was so high above the ground.

However, the mages were different. They were the deadly snipers and anti-aerial weapons of this world. Considering he was without Aria Eisen, these mages would be the only ones capable of attacking him at this range.

“Where are you.”

Seon-Hyeok narrowed his eyes and noticed a mage hiding among the infantry. It did not take long for him to locate them all.

To be exact, it was not that he found them. The mages openly revealed themselves.

“Oh, damn it!”

Seon-Hyeok swore as he saw the mages moving their lips and making strange gestures in the distance. It was at that moment the mages’ attack began.

“Redvern!”

At his shout, Redvern folded its enormous wings and accelerated.

Boom!

A tremendous noise could be heard from just behind him. Seon-Hyeok felt a strange sensation throughout his body as he grabbed Redvern’s reins.

Redvern rolled in the air. At that very moment, six magic arrows passed through where they had just been.

“Hup.”

The six projectiles turned and followed them once again. At the same time, a crimson pillar of fire rushed towards him. Seon-Hyeok once again had Redvern take evasive maneuvers to avoid the incoming attacks.

However, the magical attacks continued to increase. One evaded projectile became two, and two became four. At a certain point, magical attacks so densely filled the air that he had nowhere to run.

Seon-Hyeok pulled out his lance and desperately stabbed, trying to create a safe space for him and Redvern. The lance, surrounded by the power of the attributes, quickly crushed some of the magical projectiles and opened up a path. He quickly guided Redvern through the gap as the countless attacks followed right behind.

As time passed, he noticed himself blocking more attacks than he avoided. Even this became difficult after a while.

When did this…

Magical spheres that exploded on contact filled the entire area.

Boom. Boom.

When he momentarily lost focus, Redvern came into contact with a few of these orbs.

Shriek!

Redvern had already been directly hit by a number of spells, and the wyvern was even more injured now. Seon-Hyeok gritted his teeth as he heard Redvern scream.

“Please hold on.”

He wanted nothing more than to pour out every last ability he had at his disposal. However, he suppressed this urge.

Just once.

All he needed was one opportunity to deal with the mages. He knew this full well from past experience.

Seon-Hyeok stabbed at, evaded, and endured the spells flying in all directions as he bided his time.

How much time had passed? 

Seon-Hyeok suddenly felt an ominous sensation and was horrified.

“It can’t be…”

Before he knew it, he found himself much closer to the ground.

“Damn. This is what they were after.”

Seon-Hyeok realized that he had been driven down to the ground. Unfortunately, knowing their plans did not change anything.

Even as he understood the situation, he was forced to lower his altitude little by little.

***

“This is the magic developed to deal with the Seven Knights of the Azure Sky. To think that we got to try this first against a wyvern and not griffins.”

Talisman was in great spirits as he watched the Drake Knight being chased around by the myriad spells cast in his direction. He seemed thrilled that the magic he spent a long time creating proved to be so effective in this real-life situation.

“Calm down. Even a mouse, if cornered, will attack a cat.”

On the other hand, Halo seemed to disapprove of Talisman and the other mages, and his expression remained grim.

“Tsk. You knights can always play around if you have swords at hand, but us mages might not have such an opportunity again. Don’t be so disapproving.”

“Our enemy is the Drake Knight, responsible for instantly annihilating a mage unit under the protection of knights. If you let your guard down, you’ll make a mistake.”

Talisman frowned, irritated that the knight was dampening the mood. However, the mage realized that Halo had a point, as he stopped grumbling and prepared to deal the final blow.

“All of you, get ready. If the magic fails, we’ll have to finish him off ourselves.”

Talisman openly complained as the knight’s words wounded his pride.

“He will regret ever daring to use the heavens as his battlefield.”

The mage was confident.

The Noctein Kingdom had always focused on an eventual war against the Griffindors, as they were more militant than the Adenburg Kingdom. The Noctein mages were no different. During their time locked up in the capital, they meticulously planned for a future conflict against the Knights of the Azure Sky.

“No, he won’t even have the chance to. He’s going to die here today.”

Unfortunately for Seon-Hyeok, the Drake Knight on his wyvern was the perfect opponent to test out the anti-aerial spells developed to deal with Griffindor’s elites.

“The three of you, keep driving the Drake Knight down to the ground. You two, help me finish casting this magic.”

Hearing Talisman’s instructions, the remaining two mages came forward to cast the spell. It was evidently a powerful spell, as it took a long time to finish.

“Howling Gust!”

Having completed preparations with the help of his two subordinates, Talisman shouted to bring forth his most powerful magic.

***

Seon-Hyeok found himself getting lower and lower, and now, he was close enough to the ground that the knights could reach him if they tried. At this rate, he would be driven into their ranks before having an opportunity to retaliate.

There’s no time. I need to make a decision.

Even now, if he gathered all of his energy and tried to aim for the mages, he had a good chance of escaping this trap. However, he tried to calm himself and continued to bide his time.

It was the familiar energy emanating from the mages that allowed him to be patient until the very end. It was around the time his patience finally reached its limit that his opportunity arrived.

“Howling Gust!”

Anticipating victory, the mage spoke with a voice full of conviction.

Roar!

At that very moment, an artificial storm materialized from thin air.

When he saw this overwhelming magic, Seon-Hyeok did not tremble, but instead cheered.

“This is it!”

Without any hesitation, Seon-Hyeok charged straight into the violent storm.

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