“Hurry up, everybody!”
On a dark night, dozens of women rushed into a lone house behind the main palace of Slain Castle while being escorted by several soldiers. They were Irene, Lindsay, and the other women who had accompanied the soldiers to the war.
“I have prepared some water and a light meal.”
The soldiers bowed politely before turning around. They were rather touched by the beautiful lady’s words. Irene suddenly called out while looking at the group of soldiers.
“Sir Leon. Will you be participating in the battle as well?”
Leon had been exiting the house along with the soldiers. He turned his head at her words.
“No, my lady. I will be standing guard in front of this building.”
“Is that so?”
Irene’s expression finally loosened up. Since coming to the South with her brother, Leon had always escorted her and Lindsay like their shadow. Wherever they went, he was always near, and he never talked first to avoid making them feel uncomfortable. Sometimes, Irene even forgot that he was around.
However, it was thanks to Leon that she felt relieved and safe in the foreign land, even when her brother was not present. She had faith that he would protect her just as he did at their first encounter.
“Excuse me, Sir Johnbolt. You should stay in the building as well.”
Lindsay spoke with concern.
Leon shook his face with a faint smile.
“No, Baroness Conrad. If I were to stay in the building, one or two additional soldiers will need to stay behind to guard the door. We need every person for the battle, and we can’t afford to spare any troops where we don’t need them. His Excellency the Duke would tell you this as well.”
Lindsay, Irene, and the other ladies became solemn.
“Then, lady, baroness. Please don’t open the door for anyone else. I will knock three times.”
“Alright. I will trust you.”
Irene spoke encouraging words, and Leon bowed his head with a firm expression before turning around.
“Sir Leon Johnbolt.”
Irene called him for the last time.
“I am always grateful. When this door opens again, as always… let’s greet each other with a smile.”
Irene’s voice was soft. But as she gazed at Leon, her expression was filled with grace and sternness, befitting her status as the eldest daughter of a duchy.
“I, Leon Johnbolt, will obey the orders of the lady.”
Leon Johnbolt stepped out of the house while equipping a set of black, leather gloves – a gift from his teacher Argos. Reflected in the eyes of Irene, Lindsay, and the other ladies, his back appeared wider and firmer than before.
Faced with the wind, Soldrake gazed at the distant hill with an apathetic expression. She was standing tall on the highest spire of Slain Castle.
The densely gathered lights suddenly began to move busily, and soon afterward, they gathered into hundreds of groups. She was familiar with the sight. In the distant past, an army of a human lord had invaded the Pendragon Duchy. The group had been similar in size.
At that time, she did not forgive them.
The Pendragon Duchy was her territory.
It was an unwritten law of all dragons to not recklessly attack humans, but the situation was different when one’s territory was encroached upon. Soldrake had used her Dragon Breath for the first and the last time in the Pendragon Duchy.
A single attack.
It caused thousands of troops to disappear into the void.
The enemies lost their will after experiencing an unapproachable, godlike power, and the knights and the soldiers of the Pendragon Duchy were able to achieve an easy victory thereafter.
But she could not do the same now.
This wasn’t the Pendragon Duchy.
The other dragons already knew about the Biskra and the fate he suffered after becoming a Bone Dragon. That was why they were permitting her to come so far from her territory. But at the same time, the other dragons were carefully observing her actions. Now that Biskra had been destroyed, her work here was done.
Nevertheless, she remained. The humans were fighting a war, and her soul’s companion, Duke Pendragon, was involved in the war. As such, the other dragons had no choice but to observe the situation with alertness.
The wind blew from afar.
Soldrake sank into thought while facing the wind.
She would not intervene in human warfare. But what if Raven’s life was at risk? A strange light glimmered in her emotionless eyes.
As she muttered unknowingly, a voice called out to her.
“Sol! How are the enemy’s movements?”
She pushed her thoughts away at Raven’s questions. She looked to the far distance with her ordinary, apathetic eyes and answered.
[They are coming now. Ten groups.]
“Thank you. And Sol, as you know, you must never become involved in this battle.”
Soldrake did not answer. She stared penetratingly at Raven, who was looking up towards her from the ground while standing above the gate.
“This is a battle between humans. So no matter what happens to me…”
[If anything happens to Ray, I will not stand still.]
[I will not stand still.]
After repeating her words once more, Soldrake jumped off the spire and headed to the main building of Slain Castle.
Raven watched her disappear with complex emotions in his eyes, then hardened his expression and shouted.
“Prepare yourselves! The enemies are on their way!”
“The enemy has destroyed our first line of defense! The distance is about 600 yards!”
As the guard’s voice rang out throughout the still-dark, sky of dawn, the sound of the spire bell resounded throughout Slain Castle.
The soldiers had been prepared for the enemy’s arrival. They hurriedly lined the walls, which had been renovated over the past few days.
The soldiers’ gazes shook as they looked out past the walls.
Even though the darkness made it hard to see, countless torches were visible in the far distance. The lights were gathered together to form a huge band. It was as if a gigantic, red tidal wave was slowly approaching Slain Castle. The soldiers gulped unknowingly.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
The sound of drums from the enemy camp overlapped with the sound of the spire’s bell, further raising the soldiers’ tension.
As the bell died down, Viscount Moraine shouted. He was responsible for overseeing the defense of the first wall, which was to the left of the gate. At his command, the archers lit their arrowheads with torches.
“Let’s light it up!”
Killian also shouted toward his subordinates. The archers of the second wall lit their arrows at his command. In the meantime, Berna’s army of thousands continued to approach Slain Castle like a red tsunami.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
The drums grew louder.
At the same time, a huge wave of torches filled the view of the allied soldiers. The enemy’s army was nearly 10,000-man strong, and they were widespread, surrounding the entire castle. Some soldiers gulped while feeling sweat drench their shirts. Others were praying to their respective gods.
But not everyone was nervous.
A group of troops stood on the wall located right above the gate. The group of elites was composed of the Ancona Orc warriors and the Red Moon Valley Elves. They were different.
“Keheung! It’s too dark. I can’t see…”
An orc warrior murmured while squinting his eyes. Even though thousands of torches were lighting the plains, the environment would quickly become submerged in darkness once the battle began.
“You stupid orc! The scarecrows inside the walls are our scarecrows! The scarecrows that climb from the outside are enemy scarecrows! You can smash their heads! Use your head, use your brain.”
Karuta spoke while slapping the orc warrior in the back of the head. The orc warrior grinned and patted his head embarrassingly.
“Kuhaha! It’s funny that Karuta is talking about using the head. Karuta is the stupidest orc in the forest.”
“What did you say?”
The orcs burst into laughter when Kratul joined in the conversation and teased Karuta. The Ancona Orc warriors laughed and conversed as if they had come out for a drink, even though they were facing 10,000 troops. On the contrary, the Red Moon Valley elves were as quiet as the human soldiers. But their silence was laced with something different from the soldiers, who were overcome with tension and fear.
The Red Moon Valley warriors were watching the large army of humans with unshakeable gazes, just like the large trees of the Great Forest. Just like the green giants were impervious to the wind, they were unaffected by the sheer size of the enemy army.
Raven called out in a cold voice.
Karuta had been giggling with the other orc warriors, and Eltuan had been praying to the Earth God. They turned their heads at the same time.
“As I said before, this battle will be pretty tough. So lead your own warriors and move as you see fit.”
“Keung! As long as we don’t run out of the castle?”
“That’s right. If you see an area that is at the risk of being breached, you can provide help.”
“Leave it to me.”
Eltuan nodded with glittering eyes.
Raven looked at the two with trust in his eyes before turning his head.
The guard shouted at the top of his lungs and waved a flag. As if they had heard his shouts, the enemy’s movements suddenly changed.
After beating regularly until now, the drum stopped with a deep, long sound. At the same time,
A humongous army of more than 10,000 began charging with a loud shout.
Thousands of torches advanced toward Slain Castle like angry waves. After the time it took a few short breaths, Viscount Moraine thundered.
Hundreds of fire arrows drew dazzling lines in the dark sky.
The arrows found their mark in the enemy’s leading soldiers.
They covered their heads with shields, but dozens of soldiers collapsed in an instant. However, the damage was quite insignificant. They had already wetted their clothes in case of lit arrows. Dozens out of the 10,000-strong army were literally ‘irrelevant’.
“Go, go, go! Charge! Kuhahahaha!”
Alberto Berna roared from the back of the army. The drum masters standing in front of him began to move their sticks vigorously, and the briefly suspended beat resumed with renewed energy, energizing the soldiers of Berna.
Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!
Arrows continued to be fired from Slain Castle along with the incessant drumming.
Soldiers carrying structures to cross the moat fell. However, the barrage of arrows soon lost its effectiveness. The enemies were simply too numerous and widely distributed. Above all, the archers of enemy forces began to fire back after securing the distance.
Mercenaries, ordinary soldiers, and regular people began to fire. Anyone who could shoot an arrow had been forcibly conscripted for the battle.
The arrows drew a wide arch and rained down on the soldiers of Slain Castle. There were several times as many arrows returned compared to what the allied forces had fired.
A large number of the allied soldiers fell.
The sound of arrows landing on the wooden boards attached to the battlements of the walls was similar to a rain shower. While the archers of Slain Castle briefly took cover and stopped, hundreds of soldiers rushed forward to the moat and attached a long ladder under the wall.
“Eltuan! Over there!”
Eltuan and the Red Moon Valley elves quickly turned towards where Raven had pointed to.
The hands of the elven warriors moved like shadows, and arrows were unloaded from their buffalo horn bows with every breath. The enemy soldiers fell into the water as they attempted to cross the moat. The elves’ ability with the bows was fast and accurate, and they could only be described as geniuses of the bow.
Unfortunately, the number of soldiers falling was still ‘irrelevant.’
Thousands rushed towards where hundreds had fallen. Behind them stood several times the number of soldiers.