As soon as the soldier uttered his name, Raven dashed toward the soldiers.
A flaming spirit erupted from his body in the blink of an eye and wound around the blades.
As the spirit-imbued swords danced through the air, the Berna soldiers were sliced into chunks of meat, unable to put up any resistance. Blood poured down like rain, and the screams of the dying soldiers transmitted fear to the rest of the soldiers.
The green-robed demons were commencing a slaughter behind the soldiers, and a single man was moving to the rhythm of death in the front. The soldiers were overcome with even greater fear at discovering the man’s identity, as Raven had already made his name known throughout the South.
A few soldiers were unable to overcome their fear and jumped down the wall. However, the majority of the troops remained – they were the remaining elite of the Berna forces, having climbed through the rain of arrows while using the bodies of their dead colleagues as a stepping stone.
Despite being tightly gripped by fear, they resisted violently and brandished their weapons to death.
Raven’s eyes dimmed when he saw the enemy soldiers put up a fierce fight. Even a rat would bite a cat when cornered… It appeared that this battle would not end easily.
Alberto Berna’s expression distorted as he observed the situation in Slain Castle from a far distance. They had initiated their attack more than an hour ago but failed to conquer even one of the walls.
“Excuse me, Lord Berna. What do you think about pulling out our troops for now?”
One of the landlords carefully suggested. He was watching the battle unfold in a safe place by Alberto Berna’s side. Hundreds of soldiers had been sacrificed to cross the moat and arrive at the wall, and until now, more than 1,000 troops had been killed or seriously injured while attempting to take control of the wall. It seemed that capturing the wall would take much more time and sacrifice.
“That’s right. The soldiers seem quite exhausted. It would be better to take a step back and give them a break. Then, we can launch another offensive in the afternoon, as originally planned…”
“If you don’t know anything, then shut up!”
The landlords quickly shut their mouths at Alberto Berna’s raging words.
“Do you not see the flow? The flow!? And do you think our soldiers are the only ones dying? Don’t you know that there is a huge difference between 1,000 of our troops dying and a hundred of theirs dying?”
Everyone avoided Alberto Berna’s gaze with awkward expressions.
“This is the basics of military tactic! The very basics! They number less than 2,000! On the other hand, we have more than 10,000 soldiers! Even if 2,000 or 3,000 of our men die during the siege, we still have enough men left over to continue the attack. However, they don’t. Even if two or three hundred of their soldiers die, the burden on the remaining soldiers will increase by a huge amount!”
The landlords licked their lips in vain. They had been left without anything to say. Alberto Berna continued.
“Moreover, they have to continue fighting our troops nonstop, so it’s even harder for them! But it’s different for us! All we need to do is get up to that damn wall somehow! Understood?”
“A, as expected of Lord Berna!”
“Haha! We were foolish in our thinking…”
The landlords regained their smiles and groveled as if nothing had happened. Of course, they were trying to get on Alberto’s good side, but Alberto Berna’s words had merit.
In a siege, the defenders were exhausted much faster than the attackers. The attackers waited outside the castle, waiting for their turn to enter, while the defenders continued to battle. Moreover, Slain Castle had long walls. All troops had to be mobilized in order to defend the entirety of the walls, which put the defenders at an even greater disadvantage.
“Discard the first plan! If we keep pushing like this, we will be able to hang our flag on that bloody, damned spire before noon!”
The landlords exclaimed and rejoiced. Alberto Berna turned his head and spoke in a confident voice.
“Hey! Are the griffons and the mercenaries ready?”
“Yes, my lord!”
“Good. Order the troops to keep pushing. Get the griffons mobilized first!”
“As you wish!”
A knight saluted towards Alberto before issuing an order. About 20 griffons waiting by the hillside flew up into the air with wide flaps of their wings.
One of the landlords expressed his confusion.
“Why are you mobilizing the griffons now? The enemy has not sent out their griffons yet…”
Although small in number, they already knew that the proud, renowned griffons of the Pendragon Duchy were located in Slain Castle to provide aid to the United Southern Army. As such, they had made preparations. With the money they spent acquiring a single griffon, they would have been able to hire a dozen mercenaries.
“Kekeuk! The griffons are merely a distraction. Our friends over there will carry out the actual mission.”
Alberto Berna gestured with his chin, and the landlords turned their gazes. There was a man dressed in animal hides, a man adorning an old breastplate, a man with a round ring on his exposed skin, as well as others. They were Southern mercenaries. Dressed differently, holding various weapons, and with hideous gazes in their eyes, about 100 mercenaries were preparing to carry out their mission.
“Griffons! Here come the griffons!”
The watchman shouted in an urgent voice.
“We will send out our griffons as well!”
More than a dozen Pendragon griffons rose into the air at the commands of Viscount Moraine. They had been waiting in the middle of the courtyard. Though many griffons had died or suffered various injuries during the long, arduous southern campaign, the griffons still remained the strongest force.
“Theo Milner! Ignore the other enemies and deal with the enemy’s griffons!”
Raven shouted towards Theo Milner. In the absence of Isla, he was placed as the interim captain of the griffon unit.
“Sir! Squire Theo Milner! I will fulfill your orders, Your Excellency!”
Raven had an expression of trust and reliability as he stared at the back of Theo Milner flying away on a griffon.
“Your Excellency! The first wall is in danger!”
Raven bit his lips when a knight shouted from the top of the gate.
“Karuta! Continue defending this area with the Ancona friends!”
Karuta let out a ferocious roar and struck the heads of enemy soldiers rising to the walls. The other orcs were also busy running wild, spreading their Orc Fear while devastating the enemy soldiers. Karuta was deaf to Raven’s words because he was in a frenzy after seeing blood.
Having expected such a reaction from the Ancona Orcs, Raven turned to speak to the Red Moon Valley elves.
“Eltuan! Red Moon Valley warriors will accompany me to the first wall!”
Raven and the elven warriors quickly ran over the walls drenched with blood and filled with bodies.
Slain castle was surrounded by a semicircular wall. Behind the castle, a steep cliff, 200 feet high, acted as a natural barrier. In normal circumstances, troops monitored the back of the castle from a spire, but with the fierce battle against the 10,000-strong army, only one soldier was stationed to keep watch.
“Damn it! I should be fighting right now…!”
The soldier expressed his frustration while facing the wind in the spire. He was a member of the 7th regiment, and the screams and noises carried by the wind caused him anxiety. He felt even more frustrated and angry because he could not properly see the battle from his current location. Even though all of his colleagues were fighting for their lives, he was forced to stand still without being able to participate in the army. As an imperial soldier, he was angry that he could not fulfill his duty.
Eventually, the soldier stuck his head out of the spire. At the least, he wanted to verify how the situation was unfolding.
His eyes became laden with shock. He touched his neck in disbelief. Something was piercing it.
“What is… Keugh!”
The soldier leaned against the railing and vomited blood, just as he tried to pull out the cold, metal quarrel stuck in his neck. As his eyes threatened to close, he saw enemy mercenaries climbing down the steep cliff using metal claws.
“The enemy… I need to…”
The soldier muttered with determination as he attempted to grab onto the signal bell with his last breath. In the end, unfortunately, his body swayed and fell out of the spire before he could ring the alarm.
“Heuheu! Come on everyone! Let’s go!”
The mercenaries’ captain spoke while looking at the bloody paste of the soldier. About a hundred mercenaries began scaling the cliff with skillful movements.
The cold wind swept the bodies of the mercenaries before moving away. The mercenaries continued their climb to infiltrate the unguarded back of Slain Castle.
Screams constantly resounded from a distance. The expressions of Slain Castle’s innermost guards darkened at the sounds.
Even though they were tasked with guarding the most important people in the castle, except Duke Pendragon and Viscount Moraine, they wanted nothing more than to jump to the walls and battle.
Some of them soldiers grunted in frustration and shared gazes with each other. In the end, they tightened their grasp on their soldiers and tried to walk away.
They winced at the loud shout.
A young man was standing in front of the main gate, wearing a black gauntlet and crossing his arms. Leon Johnbolt, a squire of the Pendragon Duchy, continued while gazing intently at the soldiers.
“Our mission is the protect Lady Pendragon, Baroness Conrad, and the other ladies.”
“I know that already! But what good is it if the walls are breached…”
“Then the duke and the rest of the army will retreat to this position! Joining the fray now won’t change a single thing! Are you willing to disobey the orders of my lord and your commander!?”
Leon’s words were hard to refute. The soldiers eventually turned back and walked to their stations. However, their eyes were still filled with frustration and anger. After glaring at Leon for a moment, one of the soldiers uttered in a quiet voice.
“A coward who follows around women…”
Leon’s thick eyebrows wriggled when he heard the words.
He already knew.
He knew how the soldiers and knights of the Pendragon Duchy and the United Southern Army viewed him. He never participated in any battles and only protected Lady Pendragon and Baroness Conrad. They would see him as nothing more than a coward.
As a man, and as a squire of the Pendragon Duchy, it was an unbearable insult.
But Leon took a deep breath while calming his boiling heart. He would have never let anyone insult him like that in the past. But he was no longer the former Leon Johnbolt of the Clown County.
He was a squire of the Pendragon Duchy, and his duty was to guard the lady and the baroness, even if it cost him his life.
“I trust you, Leon.”
‘Yes. I am Leon Johnbolt, squire of the Pendragon Duchy…’
His lord had left Leon in charge of guarding the lord’s sister and wife, even though there were plenty of strong knights. He needed to be faithful to his duties to repay the lord’s kindness.
Therefore, Leon continued to stand at the door without responding to the mocking eyes of the soldiers.
“Huh? Over there…!”
One of the soldiers suddenly narrowed his eyes, and everyone followed his gaze. A group of figures was rapidly descending from the cliff located behind the main building.
“Enemies! It’s the enemy!”
The soldiers were stunned.
How could the enemy invade from the steep cliff?
“What are you all doing? Everyone calm down! Hey, you! Get to the duke and let him know!”
The soldiers came to their senses at Leon’s roar.
“I, I got it!”
One of the soldiers began to run frantically.
“Get it together! We will be defending this place until reinforcements arrive! We are soldiers of the Pendragon Duchy. Protect the lady and the baroness!”
Even in the face of about a hundred mercenaries, Leon walked forward and raised his voice.
The eyes of the soldiers quivered. Somehow, Leon’s back appeared very broad.
“Hmph! Let’s do it.”
The soldiers’ expressions began to change little by little. Leon was confident in front of enemies, even though they had considered him a coward a little while ago.
That was right. They were all soldiers from the Pendragon Duchy. They would never back down, just as their lord never did.
“Prepare the crossbows! Right after the first shot, we’re forming a line of shields!”
A dozen soldiers shouted loudly.
After finally climbing down the cliff, the southern mercenaries began to charge toward the soldiers.
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