Chapter 286: Without Front or Back (2)

Teaser: Over my dead body!

Toonka’s side had stepped back. The Empire’s side had retreated back as well.
There was just the empty ground between the two sides that had their shields up.

“…Fire.”

The fire that had shot down from heaven was burning in that space.

The legends said that a god had sent down the first fire to help the people, however, this time it felt like a punishment from heaven.
Duke Huten was subconsciously clenching down hard on the hilt of his sword.

“Duke-nim.”

He could hear the shaking voice of the high-grade mage behind him. It was the person in charge of the Empire’s First Mage Brigade.

“That is not magic.”
“What?”
“That is just pure fire. I believe it must be an ancient power.”

The brown robe. Duke Huten couldn’t help but think of that person.
That person had been standing next to Rosalyn.

Ancient powers and Rosalyn? Duke Huten naturally thought about someone as he put those two together.

Cale Henituse.
He couldn’t help but think of that name. At the same time, he remembered how the Roan Kingdom had helped out at the Breck Kingdom’s battle. It made him suspicious.

At the same time, he didn’t think that it was possible. If he had to name the two kingdoms that currently had a good relationship with the Empire, it would be the Caro Kingdom and the Roan Kingdom. Furthermore, Cale Henituse had even received a medal of honor from the Empire.

‘No need for useless suspicions.’

However, he knew he needed to be wary of that brown-robed individual. The arrogance slowly started to disappear from Huten’s eyes.
On the other hand, Cale had to put some strength into his legs that almost gave out from being so shocked. His body swayed a bit.

“…Ca-!”

Rosalyn quickly shut up as the soldiers were nearby and grabbed his arm. She then observed Cale's face underneath the robe.

‘…Huh?’

Cale looked fine. Forget fine, he looked extremely energetic.
Here’s a good comparison to what it looked like. It was similar to when a bookworm who had been studying indoors all the time decided to take a walk because it was a beautiful day. Once they come out and do some light stretching, color returned to their pale face and they looked much healthier than seconds prior.

That was how Cale’s face looked right now.
His face that had been getting paler and making people worried had a slightly red tint to it, making him seem very healthy.

“…Are you okay?”

Rosalyn asked as she looked toward Cale’s eyes with concern. On the other hand, Cale came to his senses after seeing the shock and nervousness mixed on Rosalyn's face.

He looked around.
The soldiers seemed shocked and the mages seemed even more shocked.
Chief Harol had an odd expression on his face.

Cale looked down below as well.
Toonka was looking at him from inside the shield.

  • Human! Are you really okay? Hmm, you do seem okay, but that is weird! No! I got it! That fortification with the rain of gold must have been amazing!

Raon's relieved voice could be heard.

  • If it is like that, let’s fortify all the other ones as well! Then our human will never be hurt!

He then heard Raon’s voice turn sad.

  • …Never mind. We can’t do it right now. Fortification requires a lot of money… I do not have much in my piggy bank just yet.

However, Cale did not pay attention to what Raon was saying. Cale was looking at Toonka. Toonka was the only one who had a reaction other than shock. The bastard was looking at Cale while mouthing something silently.

‘Are we not doing it?’

Smirk.
Cale started to smile. He moved Rosalyn's hand away from his arm and started to speak.

“Please start.”

The gaze in Rosalyn’s eyes changed.
The pillar of fire was still burning.
This pillar of fire was almost as tall as the black towers made by alchemy. It was something that was giving off an aura that made it difficult to approach.
However, the lonely pillar of fire looked shabby.

“Put out the fire! Move the formation!”

Duke Huten’s voice sounded like thunder as he commanded the Empire’s forces. The soldiers quickly came back to their senses and started to move their formation.

They were going to dodge this pillar of fire.

‘I don't know why the pillar of fire struck down over there, but it is useless toward us.’

The pillar of fire had not struck the Empire’s formation. It had just hit down on empty ground.
It was a useless power if it didn’t kill anybody.

‘There are many other paths toward Maple Castle.’

Maple Castle was located in the middle of a plain. You could approach it on all sides.
It would not be difficult for the Empire's forces to surround Maple Castle based on their numbers.

In addition, the number of Whipper Kingdom’s warriors and soldiers were not enough to take on the large number from the Empire that could easily surround the castle. This was especially the case as only tens of soldiers and mages were on the castle wall.

‘We just need to be cautious of the Dwarves and that pillar of fire.’

It was just a matter of time before they won.
It was at that moment.

Ruuuumble-
The quiet sky started to rumble again.

“Ah.”

Duke Huten realized something.
He had forgotten about it because of the shock that was caused by this fire that they believed was an ancient power.
Rosalyn and the unknown person's magic.

Black clouds were still covering the battlefield.

“Shit!”
“Duke-nim!”

Duke Huten urgently started to shout.

“Activate the magic shields!”

It was now the magic spell’s turn to strike toward the Empire’s forces.

Just take a look.
Even the mages on top of the castle wall that was not covered by the pillar of fire were preparing red fire-attribute magic spells!

‘It was so that they could protect Toonka!’

That red pillar was used to separate Toonka from the Empire's forces before they launched these spells.
Huten finally realized Rosalyn and the Whipper Kingdom’s chiefs’ strategy. That was why he was frowning as he urged the mages to cast shields as the soldiers and knights curled up together and lifted up their shields toward the sky.

Ruuuumble.

It happened once the sky stopped crying once again.

Baaaaaang!
Baaaaang!

Red lights started to pour out from both the sky and Maple Castle.
It was different than that Fire of Destruction that looked like flowing blood.
Fire and electric magic spells filled the area.

“Ugh!”

The mage next to Duke Huten stumbled as the ground continued to shake.
It was intense. Even Duke Huten got the chills as he watched the rose gold colored thunderbolt coming down from the sky.

However, Duke Huten was able to slowly straighten himself back up.
He looked around where the magic spells had struck.

“…Duke-nim, nobody died.”

None of the Empire’s forces had died. There were some who were injured, but nobody was dead.
However, Duke Huten could not laugh about this situation.

“What, what is that?!”

Duke Huten could not hide his shock as he looked forward.

A wall was created with the blood-like pillar of fire at the center.
A furiously burning wall of fire appeared in front of the Empire’s eyes.
This fire with electric currents that was made from magic was burning up in the form of a wall.

“Duke-nim! All directions are blocked!”

Huten heard the knight's shout.
He could see it as well.
A wall of fire was surrounding Maple Castle. It looked as if nobody could enter.

The Whipper Kingdom had repeated the same thing that the Empire had done in the past when they had left a wall of fire before retreating.
However, one thing had changed.

“…They didn’t block all of it.”

They left an opening.
The Empire had left the everlasting flame made from alchemy on all sides of the castle in order to prevent the Whipper Kingdom from approaching Maple Castle.

However, the Whipper Kingdom had left an entrance.
It was the spot that the blood-like pillar of fire and the rose gold thunderbolt had landed. There were no fires in those two locations. Only dust was flowing around in that area.

He could also see the gate into Maple Castle beyond that area as well.
The Empire could try to take Maple Castle without touching the wall of fire if they went past that area.

“Ha, haha-”

Duke Huten let out a laugh.

Right in front of the gate.
In the area without fire.

He could see people starting to fill that area.
Toonka was the one in the front.
Behind him were his subordinate warriors with the soldiers behind them.
The mercenary mages and Rosalyn were on top of the castle wall above the gate. He could also see the brown-robed individual.

The brown-robed Cale looked toward Toonka's back. Toonka felt his gaze and stood in the only opening within the wall of fire and glared at Duke Huten and the enemies.
He recalled the conversation he had with Cale prior to the battle.

‘Cale, thank you for helping us out, but the warriors and I will fight.’

Chief Harol agreed with Toonka.

‘We just ask for your support. We will ask you to help if we are put in a dangerous situation, however, we want to try fighting with our own strength first.’

A fight against the Empire.
The Whipper Kingdom needed to show that they could hold their own for a while. That would raise the soldiers’ morales and make the Empire not try to aim for the Whipper Kingdom ever again.

In addition, Harol was planning on using this war as a chance to kill the king or turn him into a complete puppet. They needed results in order to do that. That was why they decided to fight.
Of course, Toonka had a different reason for choosing to fight.

‘That is the Whipper way.’

It was the Whipper Kingdom's style to fight.
There was a reason that they were labeled as barbarians.
Cale had smiled at the two of them.

‘I wasn’t planning on taking part in round 1 anyway.’

Toonka could feel the heat of the fire, but Duke Huten’s bloodshot eyes were still clearly visible. Cale’s voice tickled his ears.

‘I will provide you a battlefield for you to run wild.’
‘Toonka, think about a narrow and deep gorge.’

Cale wanted Toonka to think about the enemies coming into a narrow gorge that was filled with their allies.
An extremely deep but narrow gorge. It was narrow because both sides were blocked by high cliffs.
Not only that, but these steep cliffs were made of fire.

Of course, fighting here at Maple Castle was different than actually fighting at an actual gorge.
However, the results should be the same.

‘The enemy will meet the Whipper Kingdom's warriors at the end of this narrow path.’

No matter how large the number of enemies may be, they only had one way to get through to the Whipper Kingdom's side.
They had no choice but to go through this wall of fire.

‘Toonka, if they can’t get past you and the warriors, then they cannot step into the Whipper Kingdom territory.’

Toonka touched the pouch hanging on his waist. Cale had said that the marble inside this pouch was the ingredient for the pillar of fire used in the battle against the Indomitable Alliance at the Gorge of Death.

‘The fire in the gorge will not go out. I will make it that way, so just look forward. What do you think? Is this the battlefield you wanted?’

‘What do I think?’

It was perfect. Toonka liked this battlefield a lot.

He could feel the warriors lining up next to him, as well as the people standing on the castle wall behind him, and noticed himself becoming confident.
He was not scared of the large number of enemies.

They would not be able to get past this path as long as he was alive.
Toonka found this battlefield to be amazing.
He heard an unexpected noise at that moment.

Screeeech-

The castle gate opened.
Toonka saw someone coming out dressed like a soldier and standing next to him. This person was wearing a helmet. Toonka started to smile.
He could tell who it was even without seeing the person’s face.

“Didn’t you say you can’t use your aura?”

Choi Han, the helmeted man, took out a normal sword and stood up straight.

‘Choi Han, you want to fight? We need to go heal people soon.’
‘Cale-nim, healing is important, but I think using my sword is a way to save them as well.’
‘Is that the only reason?’
‘…Duke Huten uses aura. Toonka does not have any aura. It will be difficult by himself.’
‘But you can’t use your aura right now.’

Toonka and Cale had wondered about the same thing.
Choi Han held back a laugh as he recalled the answer he gave Cale and calmly answered back.

‘It is still better for me to be there with him rather than for him to do it alone.
I am still strong without it.’

Toonka started to laugh.
The person who could not use his aura because he needed to hide his identity, the person who had beaten him up in the past, was standing next to him right now.

That was the truth.
Choi Han was strong even without his aura.
And that strong person was on his side.
Toonka felt an unknown emotion filling his heart.

“Choi Han, you're my friend too, right?”
“Shut up.”

Clang.
The tip of Choi Han’s sword pointed toward Duke Huten as he told Toonka to shut up.

Choi Han and Duke Huten had never met before.
It was because Cale had made Choi Han move separately from him in the Empire as he was worried that Duke Huten would realize the level of Choi Han’s strength. However, there was no need to worry about that.
Although they were both sword masters, Choi Han’s level and Duke Huten’s level were worlds apart.

Duke Huten started to shout.

“Third Knights Brigade, follow behind me!”

The Empire's Knights Brigade moved their horses forward as they charged toward Maple Castle with the Duke in the lead.

Ooooooong-
The Empire’s Mage Brigade started to cast spells as well. Their mana headed toward the only entrance to the castle, as well as to the wall of fire.
They were trying to kill everyone who was at that gap, as well as destroy the wall of fire.

Toonka was standing in the front as he thought about the people standing behind him and he shouted wildly.

“You’ll only get past here over my dead body!”

Choi Han was already rushing forward at that time.

A battle between the few and the many.
The battlefield that the few had wanted had been created.

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