Teaser: Girl and boy walking up a stone staircase together.
Maple Castle was located on the western border of the Whipper Kingdom.
Wind brushed past the top of Choi Han’s hood.
The chilly winter air was gone, and a slightly warmer air was surrounding Maple Castle, however, it still felt like winter at Maple Castle.
“So the king threw us away?”
“…Hey, talk quietly.”
“Why should I be quiet? There's no need. The only thing we trust are the things we accomplish with our own two hands.”
Choi Han who had been stealthily walking around the corridor stopped walking after hearing those voices.
It was not a regular winter for Maple Castle.
The king had chosen not to give a speech and officially declare war.
Thanks to that, the atmosphere around Maple Castle felt as if you were standing in the middle of an extremely cold area.
The people who had to face this coldness started to slowly show a single emotion.
“I will follow Commander Toonka-nim until the end.”
“Forget the Mogoru or Moogoru or whatever they're called. Do you know what I had to do to get here? Aren’t you in a similar situation?”
“Of course I know. I know very well.”
A venomous intent. The soldiers were starting to turn evil.
This was only possible because the Whipper Kingdom's wars had originally started from a civil war.
Choi Han and the soldiers made eye contact at that moment.
The expressions on the soldiers’ faces quickly changed to that of respect, as if they had never had that evil look in the first place. Choi Han slightly bowed his head to greet the soldiers before starting to walk again.
‘Choi Han, it's different than how I imagined it would be.’
Choi Han remembered what Cale had said on their way to Maple Castle. Cale had seemed to be happy about something as he was smiling.
‘I think the Whipper Kingdom's people are more rational than I expected. The soldiers are angry at the king and the Empire, but they don't seem to have gone crazy.’
Cale's eyes had been sparkling. It was as if he was happy that he had originally come just to work but now he could do it with more sincerity.
‘The Whipper soldiers are all properly trained warriors. Who do you think would win if they fought against the Empire’s soldiers?’
Choi Han looked back toward the soldiers who had greeted him.
Their hearts were full of maliciousness.
However, they had not gone mad.
They were all looking toward the future.
These people had won against strong enemies like the mage faction already.
That was why Choi Han had been able to answer Cale’s question without any hesitation.
‘The majority of the Whipper soldiers have less than two years of training. Their system is less than three years old and is awkward as well.’
The Empire’s soldiers would be properly trained in their system that has lasted through their extensive history.
‘But I believe that the Whipper Kingdom’s soldiers would win in a one-on-one battle.’
Training was important in a battle where your life was on the line, however, there was something else that was more important.
‘You're right. Choi Han, they have no fear.’
Cale agreed with Choi Han’s answer and happily smiled. Although Cale did not seem conscious of it, he seemed to be relieved.
Choi Han thought about that memory and raised his head.
The teleportation magic circle installed in Maple Castle.
This was where the soldiers had teleported into Maple Castle, but the Whipper soldiers who had personally felt the usefulness of magic were actively avoiding this area.
The soldiers chose practicality even when they knew it would make them inconsistent.
The teleportation magic circle lit up.
A number of people wearing white robes soon appeared.
“Long time no see.”
Elf Pendrick who was covering his Elf ears, as well as some of the sculptor assassin Freesia’s subordinates had come. Freesia and the Sun God twins remained at the Empire.
Choi Han looked around. The expressions on the faces of the soldiers lit up at the appearance of new priests. They were even happier knowing that Pendrick, a priest with healing abilities, was coming.
Choi Han started to speak to Pendrick and Freesia’s subordinates.
“Please follow me.”
The people who were here as priest to heal the soldiers followed behind Choi Han.
Choi Han walked down the stone path toward the castle wall as he thought about his conversation with Cale.
‘Do I not need to do anything during this war?’
Choi Han could not reveal his black aura.
‘Why wouldn't you do anything?’
Cale who was in his priest robe responded back with a shocked expression.
‘Is saving people not work?’
Cale casually threw a bag with potions inside to Choi Han.
‘Even without healing abilities, we need to heal the warriors and soldiers with potions. We'll probably be pulled in many directions as soon as the battle begins. We will be very busy, so stay focused.’
All Cale got back was a blank expression.
‘Do you not want to do it?’
There was no way that was the case.
“No, not at all. I will definitely do it.’
It was more difficult to save people than kill people, however, saving people suited Choi Han’s style more.
Choi Han would not fight during this war. However, he would be saving people.
That weighed heavier on Choi Han’s heart.
‘Is it really okay for me to not fight?’
That questioned floated in his mind for a bit, however, he soon realized there was no need to think about it.
Choi Han looked up once he stood in front of the staircase that led up to the central tower of the castle walls.
Rosalyn who was wearing a mage's robe and had a smile that was as bright as the sun on her face was also standing there.
Behind her was Mary who was wearing a brown robe unlike her usual choice of color, as well as a few others who were covering themselves up as well.
There were also some people who were not covered up and stood there while looking only straight forward.
These were the mages originally from the Whipper Kingdom.
They were now citizens of the Roan Kingdom and were only looking at Rosalyn's back.
The soldiers around them looked toward the mages with complicated expressions.
Anger, fear, hatred, gratitude, and relief. These gazes held all sorts of emotions behind them.
However, the mages’ gazes were stern.
‘Fight in the war.’
The way that their gazes were focused on one thing made them seem like swordsmen standing there with their swords drawn.
Rosalyn looked toward Choi Han and flicked her chin toward the staircase.
“Shall we go?”
Choi Han and Rosalyn started to walk up the stone staircase together. Choi Han felt the presence of the people following behind them and started to think.
Although he could not fight, there were his friends he trusted to do it for him.
Choi Han raised his head.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Many footsteps were heading toward one direction and Choi Han heard a voice as soon as he arrived at the top of the stone staircase.
“You’re all here.”
The white-haired Cale greeted them while leaning on a ledge.
“This spot has a good view doesn’t it?”
They could see the tens of thousands of troops at the distance behind Cale’s back.
The Mogoru Empire's forces.
They were aiming for the Whipper Kingdom’s Maple Castle.
‘…Damn, there are many more than I had expected.’
Choi Han started to frown.
One hour ago.
The Empire’s forces had arrived in front of Maple Castle.
An oppressive wind was blowing in from them.
That wind was putting Maple Castle on full alert right now.
The Whipper soldiers were clenching their weapons and giving off venomous vibes while smiling toward the priests and showing complicated expressions toward the mages.
Their conversation was no more than something to help relax them.
Cale stopped leaning on the ledge. Toonka and Harol were at the tower as well.
Chief Harol made eye contact with Cale.
“The Empire is making a move.”
That trumpet sound had come from the Empire’s side.
They could see a person standing in the front of the Empire’s forces.
Harol immediately started to speak.
“Duke Huten is leading the Empire's forces.”
The Imperial Prince's right-hand man and the Empire’s only sword master.
He was the one leading the knights.
They could hear the neighing of horses along with the trumpet sounds.
“Shit, there's a ton of knights.”
Toonka started to frown. It quickly turned into a smile.
“His name is Duke Huten?! I can rip that human into pieces! Kehehehe!”
Duke Huten had not taken part in the last battle of Maple Castle. That meant that the Empire was being serious this time.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
The ground started to shake.
It was not because of magic nor anything of the sort.
It was just that tens of thousands of soldiers were moving along with the cavalry behind them.
“…This is no joke.”
Rosalyn started to frown.
Sword master Huten.
It was not that she was afraid of him.
“…This is even more than the Paerun Kingdom.”
The three Northern Kingdoms. Knights numbering close to the amount of knights from the land of soldiers and knights were currently raising their swords and spears toward Maple Castle.
However, there was something different about these knights than the knights of the North.
“The armors of the knights are all fortified with magic. They all have at least a high-grade magic stone in them.”
Rosalyn informed the others on top of the tower.
Why was it called the Empire?
Rosalyn recalled the information she had learned about the Empire when she had been next in line for the throne. Her teacher who had taught her about royal traditions and politics had stopped a lesson for a moment to tell her something.
‘An Empire must be better than average in all aspects. It refers to a nation that is above all others when combining all aspects together.
You must remember that.’
The Roan Kingdom was above average in magic.
The Paerun Kingdom was above average with their knights.
There were many nations that were talented in one area.
‘Above average magic, above average troops, above average strength of knights, and finally, the continent’s only home for alchemy.’
Rosalyn recalled the weight of the Empire that she had forgotten about.
‘They are scary because all of those aspects are gathered together.’
The Empire’s knights alone were not scary.
The Empire’s magic was fine to take on by itself.
Even the Empire’s alchemy could be handled if you were cautious enough.
However, her teacher had warned her.
‘You may hate me for saying something like this, however, I am telling you this because you are someone who is going to be a ruler.
The Empire is a nation where everything is above average.
A kingdom that is below average in any aspect would not be able to defeat the Empire.’
Her teacher had finished off by saying the following.
‘You will thoroughly realize that if you become the Empire’s enemy.’
The Empire that was actually serious this time had brought knights that were at the level of the Paerun Kingdom's knights with magic armors that had high-grade magic stones, something the Paerun Kingdom would not be able to do.
Then the Empire’s Mage Brigade appeared from behind the knights.
This Mage Brigade had a longer history than the Roan Kingdom's Mage Brigade.
Chief Harol let out a scoff.
‘They brought all this just to take back a castle?’
Harol could sort of understand the Whipper Kingdom’s king's fear.
Anybody would be scared after looking at these troops.
“They truly came, not just for Maple Castle, but to gobble up the entire Whipper Kingdom.”
Harol completely understood the Empire's true intentions. He also realized that the Empire looked down upon the Whipper Kingdom and didn’t try very hard during the last battle.
The sound of the Empire’s trumpets cut through the battlefield.
On the other hand, Maple Castle was completely silent.
Soldiers and warriors were already in formation at the castle wall since about an hour ago.
Their pupils shook and clouded over for a moment.
The venomous aura they had around them seemed to disappear a bit.
It was because of the large number of knights and mages led by Duke Huten. They felt pressure that was incomparable to what they faced in the last battle for Maple Castle and the pillar of fire.
‘Fighting against that many mages alone would be hard enough, so can we win against them when they have so many knights as well?’
Some of them were having these kinds of thoughts.
It was at that moment.
A shout that drowned out the trumpets could be heard. At the same time, they could see their commander leaning over the ledge of the tower.
The commander was swinging the iron club in his hand while laughing.
His eyes seemed like those of a madman.
The soldiers all returned to their original gazes after seeing this.
That craziness in Toonka’s eyes was infecting the soldiers.
There was a way for the weak to defeat the strong.
The way to do that was to go crazy.
“There we go.”
Cale commented while looking at Toonka. He then slowly walked toward his group.
Rosalyn started to speak.
“It looks like the Empire will march forward soon. We will head to our stations now.”
“It looks like I should head to the chiefs as well.”
Harol quickly added on.
Cale calmly responded to the two of them.
“Watch until the end first.”
It was when Harol asked in confusion.
Another blaring of the trumpet could be heard, and the ground started to shake.
Harol looked toward the enemies in the distance.
Cale was looking at them as well.
‘There’s still one more left.’
Mages and knights.
That was not the end.
Cale recalled the palace that was falling because of the terrorist attack when he went to the Empire.
Cale’s shield had supported the large tower that was falling.
However, someone else took over in the middle in order to prevent it from crashing down.
They had created a new pillar in the palace to support the roof. Cale recalled that unique way of using alchemy.
That was why he had contemplated prior to this battle against the Empire.
‘Would the Empire want a short battle? Or would they try to drag it out?’
They would want it to be short if they were aiming for Maple Castle, but they would want it to be long if they were aiming for the Whipper Kingdom.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
The ground started to shake.
Dirt pillars started to rise up from nothing, similar to the pillar that had supported the roof of that palace in the Empire.
One by one.
The combination of alchemists and mages that had supported the palace through Sir Rex's groups terrorist attack were revealing similar large and sturdy pillars into the world.
Rosalyn gasped as she commented on it.
“They are as tall as Maple Castle.”
These pillars had shot up as high as Maple Castle. Alchemists and mages were standing on top of these pillars. Knights and soldiers were gathered underneath each pillar as well.
Their formation seemed to be one that could take care of both long-range and short-range attacks.
Harol subconsciously started to mumble.
“It looks like another castle has appeared.”
This now became a battle between two castles.
He suddenly felt as if he could not breathe.
The Mogoru Empire was ahead of the rest of the Western continent in terms of military might, magic, and technology. The true appearance of the Imperial Prince who had pretended to be a good person was finally revealed.
Cale started to speak at that moment.
“Good. That’s what I wanted to see.”
He sounded as if he was waiting for the Empire to come out like this.
Harol, as well as everybody else on top of the tower, looked toward Cale.
However, Cale ignored their gazes and put his hand on the shoulder of someone wearing a robe. This person was covering themselves completely in a robe similar to Mary.
Cale took off the hood that was covering the person's face.
A middle-aged man's shaking pupils appeared from underneath the hood and looked toward Cale.
Cale had prepared for this war against the Empire as much as he had prepared for the war against the Indomitable Alliance and their alliance of three kingdoms and two tribes. It was even possible that he had prepared more for this war against the Empire than for the Indomitable Alliance.
Cale looked down at the middle-aged man in front of him.
“Now, do you understand why I called you here?”
Kanelle, the chief of the Flame Dwarf tribe. He was looking up at Cale.
The Dwarf Chief Kanelle, felt chills while looking at the indifference on the priest’s face. The cold commander in front of him did not even believe in a god, however, his pupils had no signs of fear.
He did not seem to fear the Empire nor the war.
The chief’s shaking voice started to speak.
“Do we have to destroy alchemy?”
The Flame Dwarf tribe's chief could see the priest smiling brightly as if he had said the answer.
It was so bright that it gave him chills.
Time for another war!