Episode 286. Like a Storm (5)

Wriggling and twitching, the slime monster expanded as it swallowed up one wall of the fortress.

“Gaaaaaah!”

“Sa, save me!”

Countless soldiers guarding the fortress walls were swept away by the hideously colored waves of slime and they all melted without leaving any bones behind.

“Mage! Mage!”

One officer, who had luckily escaped the wave of slimes, shrieked loudly. But then, he froze.

“Ah…”

A gigantic whale that was gliding through the sky as if it were the sea, a monstrous jellyfish with hundreds of tentacles reaching out, a headless monster with sharp teeth protruding from a snout that covered most of its face, and a giant spider with a hideous pattern he had never seen before. The sky was covered with all kinds of bizarre creatures pouring out through a huge hole in the sky; it was as if the entrance to hell had been opened.

“I must be dreaming.”

Completely stunned by the horrific sight, the officer’s knees buckled and he collapsed. Who knew when they had approached, but one of the monsters rushed in and swallowed the seated officer.

Such scenes were taking place all over the fortress.

“Look! These terrible beasts are evidence that Drachen is colluding with the Demon King!”

A Heretical Judge who had been watching the terrible calamity befalling the fortress from afar exclaimed with great excitement.

“No, Drachen must be the Demon King himself, so brothers, don’t leave anything to chance!”

Possessed by madness, the Heretical Judge couldn’t tell what was true and false anymore.

“How frustrating. Now that it’s like this, why’s that even important?”

An old knight from a central kingdom who was forcibly deployed to this location lamented as he watched the Heretical Judge. It was unpleasant for him to watch the Heretical Judges who didn’t realize that the situation was now unfavorable for them and was only concerned with useless things.

“Whoo.”

After staring at the Heretical Judges for a moment, the old knight turned to look around the battlefield.

Since the arrival of the Demon King, he had fought in countless battles and seen all sorts of strange things, but he could guarantee that he had never seen a battlefield more unrealistic than the one in front of his eyes right now.

It was as if he was in the middle of a battlefield that would belong in a myth.

But, the situation wasn’t great enough for him to just stand still and admire the scene.

The old knight stemmed the flowing blood from his shoulder where his arm had been completely cut off. Then, he gripped his sword.

“Thank you for waiting.”

His opponent drew his sword as he looked at the old knight bringing up his fighting spirit with a wan face.

“Hasn’t the outcome already been determined?”

“The outcome…”

At the words of his opponent, the old knight looked around once more.

The Northern Cavalry were teasing the elites of the Holy Kingdom that they might as well be herding sheep while Drachen and his dragons were relentlessly pressuring the Templar Knights. The choir and the priests who had been supporting the Holy Kingdom’s army from behind had already lost their strength when arrows silently flew towards them.

“The outcome most definitely has been decided.”

As a knight, he had been defeated horribly. And looking at the battlefield, it didn’t seem likely the outcome would be much different. 

“But even so, you’re still going to continue?”

After hesitating momentarily at his opponent’s question, the old knight placed his sword back into its sheath.

“Seeing how I didn’t want to be here from the beginning, I see no reason to continue the hostility.”

“That’s a wise decision.”

The old knight smiled bitterly. 

“It may sound like a terrible excuse, but I am too worried about the future of my country to die here.”

Considering how the Adenburg Empire had so easily destroyed the traps that the Holy Kingdom had laid down, the Holy Kingdom’s power had already been completely overtaken by the Empire. It was so clear which of the two main powers representing the central and eastern region was more superior than the other that it seemed far-fetched for the central region to defeat the eastern region in this war.

Although he didn't dare say it out loud, the old knight was sure of their defeat.

It seemed like the other superhumans had the same thought as the old knight. None of them had come because they wanted to, so instead of sacrificing their lives on this battlefield, they were planning on pretending to fight in moderation and when the outcome seemed definite, leave the battlefield without hesitation. 

Perhaps that was the reason. Until a while ago, sword energies were lighting up around the outer edges, but now, the field only held sounds of iron swords clashing lifelessly. 

And even that came to a complete stop when the old knight withdrew his sword.

“The Adenburg Empire’s strength is truly astonishing.”

The old knight spoke out in admiration. 

Although he had been dragged unwillingly onto the battlefield, he hadn’t been half-hearted in his actions on the battlefield in the beginning. Nevertheless, the fact that none of the Empire’s superhumans had died proved how strong the Adenburg Empire was. 

“I wish to know your name.”

And the strongest amongst his enemies was the opponent in front of him.

“I am a Duke of the Empire, Marek Schnail Roachim.”

The old knight admired him once more for his calm speech that didn’t show a sense of pride at the victory.

“Thanks to you, I’ve learned that Adenburg doesn’t just have Drachen. Your swordsmanship was better than any other knight I have ever fought against.”

“You were not a bad opponent either.”

Marek was praising him but seeing how he didn’t ask for the old knight’s name, it seemed like while the old knight wasn’t a bad opponent, Marek didn’t particularly want to remember him. 

“It’s an honor.”

Perhaps at any other time, his pride would’ve taken a hit and he would’ve gotten angry, but right now, the old knight only smiled forlornly. 

“I can slowly see the end.”

The Empire’s Duke looked at the battlefield as he spoke. The old knight turned his head to check on the war’s progress as well. 

10,000 of the Holy Kingdom’s Crusaders were being harassed by the Northern Cavalry as they roamed around like wolves, nipping at the Crusaders here and there. In the end, the Crusaders were completely destroyed and the strict discipline and attentiveness they were so proud of disappeared.  

The situation looked so brittle that it looked like it would all collapse with the slightest touch. 

The 30,000 troops of the Allied Forces hadn’t even been able to participate in the battle. The blue dragon that was running wildly in the center was cleverly blocking the gap between them and the Holy Kingdom’s army.

They didn’t dare go past a giant dragon that was hundreds of meters long and they could only watch the fight between the Templar Knights and Drachen.

“If we’re not going to be crossing swords any longer, then I would like to go and help out a bit. Although it looks like he can handle himself, if he were to get hurt, things will get difficult.”

“Go ahead. I have bled too much, so I need to rest as well.”

“Then let us meet each other again if we ever get a chance.”

Marek whirled around and jumped into the battlefield.

“Did he not give it his all in our fight?”

He had been desperate, but it seemed like his opponent had strength left over. There was no sign of exhaustion in Marek’s appearance as he trampled over the solid ranks of the Templar Knights. 

“Those who still have strength leftover should come with me to help the Grand Duke!”

At the command of the lady knight, the Empire’s superhumans stood up and formed ranks. Unlike the central region’s superhumans who were exhausted after the brief confrontation, the Empire’s superhumans seemed to have quite the stamina.

“How could all of them be so young?”

Between the aged knights of the central region and the young but not as experienced or powerful knights of the Empire, there wasn’t much need to think deeply about which side’s future would be brighter.

“Let’s go! Let’s go help the Captain!”

“Kim Woo-Young, butt out! Your forearms are dangling!”

“Shut up! This injury is nothing! I should be saying that to you! If you don’t want to go, now’s the chance to leave!”

“Ha, I survived the hell that was the West. You think I’ll die here? You’re the one who should be careful!”

Their ridiculously jolly attitudes made it impossible to believe they were heading out to a battlefield where life and death were precarious. The old knight belatedly realized that their temperament was fundamentally different from the gentle and refined knights of the continent.

“Foreigners…”

Many of the people in that group were foreigners who had received respect because their origins weren’t clear.

“In the future, the continent will have to be conscious of the Adenburg Empire.”

The old knight sighed as he thought of the Adenburg Empire’s future embracing the foreigners.

***

Just as the old knight expected, the Holy Kingdom was defeated.

The Northern Cavalry thoroughly made fools out of the 10,000 Crusaders, and the choir they had believed in were all killed by the archers before they even had a chance to sing out loud. 

The situation wasn’t any better for the Templar Knights. Of the 800 Templar Knights, less than half of them survived. In a single battle, half of the powerful knights that the Holy Kingdom was so proud of were destroyed. There hadn’t been a more disastrous defeat since the Holy Kingdom had emerged as the victor in the central region.

Of course, even if it had been a tremendous defeat, a single defeat did not determine the outcome of the war. 

Although they had suffered fatal damage, the Holy Kingdom still had their powerful Templar Knights and priests and was still the leader of the central region. As long as the Temple wasn’t completely destroyed, the many royal families in the central region who worshipped God continued to support the Holy Kingdom. And by instigating them, the Holy Kingdom had enough support to continue the war. 

But that was only until the Warrior stepped forward.

Immediately after the battle, Kim Seon-Hyeok stood the Warrior in the front and revealed all the evil deeds of the Holy Kingdom.

The Holy Kingdom and the Central Allied Forces had suffered irreparable damages and left after experiencing defeat. However, the superhumans of the central region were different; they didn’t leave the battlefield and personally saw the Warrior’s existence and heard his testimony. And because of that, the Warrior’s testimony spread to all the countries.

Each one of those superhumans was capable of exerting influence in their own countries. Naturally, the ripple effect of their remarks was quite big. 

“Do not be deceived by the rumors. He is not the Warrior; he is a thief who stole the Holy Sword.”

The Holy Kingdom tried to rectify the situation but it was impossible.

The Holy Sword that could only be handled by its owner had appeared in the world again, and the person claiming to be its owner testified to the Holy Kingdom’s evil deeds.

In fact, the many people who hadn’t believed that Drachen had colluded with the Demon King criticized the Holy Kingdom. 

“If there is anyone who falls for Drachen and his group’s sweet-talking and deludes and devices the people by spreading it, we will hold them responsible for their actions in benefiting the enemy.”

In the end, the Holy Kingdom tried to stop the rumors by force. People were accused of heresy all over the place and were burnt at the stake. The sky over the central region was almost completely covered by the smoke from burning the accused.

But no matter how many times they killed people, the truth could not be hidden.

The Warrior Park Joon-Min overcame the aftereffects of the resurrection and appeared on the border where the Central Allied Forces and Iberia were facing off against each other and showed the people the wonder of the Holy Sword. 

The Holy Kingdom’s priests and devotees who witnessed the holy splendor soaring high into the heavens ended up questioning the Temple instead. The Temple captured and executed all of them.

As if ridiculing and sneering at the Holy Kingdom, the Warrior Park Joon-Min began to wander around the frontlines as he showed off the miracles. 

Several times, the Holy Kingdom tried to attack the Warrior’s procession by moving their troops, but it ended up giving the Adenburg Imperial Army escorting the Warrior military contributions. 

When at last there wasn’t a single soldier or civilian on the frontline who hadn’t witnessed the miracle, the Tennessia Kingdom was the first amongst all the central kingdoms to make an official statement.

“With the Temple’s evil deeds exposed to the public, Tennessia will no longer participate in this meaningless war. We will also hold the Holy Kingdom responsible for causing irreparable damage by compelling us to join with a false cause.”

It was at this moment that the solid unity of the central kingdoms broke for the first time.

While the Warrior went around the frontlines announcing the Holy Kingdom’s evil deeds, Kim Seon-Hyeok returned to Adenburg. It was the return of an unfaithful husband who had wandered outside the Empire for half a year after saying he would be back soon.

“Why didn’t you just return after ending the war?” 

What awaited him was the iron-blooded Empress with a cold expression on her face. 

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