In the forest, three men in black were moving forward quickly as they escorted a woman in a gorgeous white dress. While the three men were manoeuvring through the forest, they seemed slightly tired but their speed did not decrease. As for the woman who was protected in the middle, her face was pale as she panted heavily. Nevertheless, she did not stop either. Instead, she clenched her teeth and persisted on. This group of people were Lane, Angelina and the others.
"Your Highness, you can take a rest!" said Lane, who had been holding onto the princess' right arm. Although the vast majority of Angelina's journey had been with the support of Lane, running for two consecutive days and a night was indeed too overwhelming for the pampered princess.
Angelina kept quiet. She wiped off the sweat from her forehead and shook her head. Although she was extremely exhausted, she was aware of the number of soldiers chasing behind them at this time. Every minute and second was crucial to them. With the help of Lane, Angelina worked hard to keep up with him and the other two shadow guards.
At this time, no one bothered to consider the taboo of physical contact between men and women. Besides, Angelina was not a pedantic person, and Lane was only holding her right arm. There was also a layer of clothing between them, so Lane could be considered as to have not touched her skin.
When Lane saw how strong Angelina was being, he could not help but sigh at how amazing she was. Angelina aside, even the two shadow guards were at their limits. Only Lane, who had his superphysical fitness and impetus, could slowly repair heal his worn muscles. The two shadow guards were just ordinary entry-level Knechts. Although they too had impetus to repair muscle pain and strain, theirs were limited. Qualified shadow guards would also not use up their impetus to repair their bodies. They had to leave a portion for possible battles.
So, the main reason why the three of them could persevere until this moment was because Angelina had set the example. Even a weak person like the princess could hold on. So how could the guards be worse than the princess herself?
Actually, there were reasons why Angelina had been able to keep up until now. On one hand, it was the manifestation of her sheer willpower. There was another reason which only two or three of those closest to the princess knew about. Angelina was actually an entry-level Lehrling, and she was about to advance to the low rank. The princess may look weak, but she was definitely capable. Meister Wilson, who shocked Locke in the beginning too, was just a low-rank Lehrling.
Wilson was already an old man in his sixties or seventies while Angelina was only 16 years old, so her talent was quite evident. The princess' ability to persist until now had something to do with her high mental power and mental condensation. A caster mainly trained by condensing mental power, and entry-level Lehrlings were not able to muster much magic. They usually just condense mental power to be stored as mana and help out their masters to carry out experiments. It was also Angelina's usual efforts that allowed her to now barely keep up with Lane's pace.
Of course, Angelina did not need to explain the reason why she was able to persist until now to Lane and the others. She was also approaching her limits and was holding on with one last breath.
On another side, two blood-red armoured men, Kashir and Leit, were leading Blood Red to the cave where Angelina and others had stayed. Leit toyed with the extinguished bonfire with his fingers and said, "They left less than a day ago." All of them could figure out the general direction in which Angelina and the others had escaped thanks to the brute. As for their exact location, it was difficult to pinpoint due to the complicated routes in the jungle. So, Angelina and the others had escaped in the middle of the night, but it took Blood Red nearly a day to catch up.
"Since we've found their trace, it won't take much longer. Let's chase after them!" Kashir said.
Kashir, the jarl of Blood Red who had found the tracks of Angelina and others, was confident in catching up to them within a day.
The branches in the jungle were stomped on and snapped as the Blood Red soldiers advanced. In late autumn, most of the trees had withered and turned yellow, without a trace of moisture left. Only some evergreens still showed their emerald green. The beasts of the Bering Mountains were really unlucky this time around. Usually, at this time of year, it would be time for them to prepare for their final food stockpile for the winter. However, these murderous titans that emerged in the forest caused them to shudder. The murderous Blood Red soldiers were not the only ones that frightened the beasts. Even Lane, who had been rushing through, had released his mid-rank Knecht aura. The aura was equivalent to that of a mid-rank monster, which bewildered these creatures all too used to the other strong monsters sharing their habitat in the Bering Mountains.
One day later, by the campfire, Lane said in a more relaxed tone, "Your Royal Highness, we'll be able to leave the Bering Mountains in at most five days. As long as we can get out, I can contact the nearest unit to protect you, princess." They were very close to the exit of the Bering Mountains, and the trees were becoming less dense.
"Mhmm," Angelina hummed a response. A few days of hurrying on the road had caused her to lose much weight, oozing an air of pity.
The two remaining shadow guards also relaxed quite a bit after hearing this. The approaching danger really wracked their nerves. Hearing that they were about to be set free from this current situation, the two tense shadow guards relaxed a lot. Their alertness towards their surroundings reduced a lot too.
Suddenly, a dagger with a blood-red handle slashed across the forest. Under the dim sky, it looked like a blood-coloured lightning bolt, striking towards one of the two shadow guards.
Clang! At this critical moment, Lane was the first to react. Using his right hand, he took out his sword and blocked the dagger, causing it to fly off. Lane's block startled the shadow guard awake, who twisted his body to avoid the deflected dagger.
"Who's there?!" Lane stood up and looked towards the surrounding forest. In the dense forest a few days ago, there were too many team members. It was difficult for Lane to notice the masked men surrounding them. But this time, he had reached a wider area, and Lane only needed to focus his attention on his group of four. He was confident that anything that happened within 50 metres could not escape his sense. Yet, this person had attacked them without Lane noticing anything, and the assailant's strength was at least a little higher than his. Lane's heart sank.
"Aren't you a slippery one?" a hoarse voice said. It seemed to be amplified by impetus, as the voice thundered in all directions and struck fear in anyone who heard it. It should be some sort of secret technique.
The sound of dried branches being crushed from the weight above rattled on. Before Lane and the others could respond in time, the armoured Blood Red soldiers had appeared around them.
Lane squinted the moment he saw the group of soldiers in blood-red armour. Unlike the masked men who did not know who he had been dealing with, Lane, as a shadow guard, certainly knew the famous Blood Red unit of Shalor. They were just like the Faustian shadow guards. Lane had fought against the Blood Red more than once, and he knew how powerful these people were. The task Lane received before the mission to escort the princess was to hold back Shalor's Blood Red at the frontlines.
Swoosh! Leit landed directly in front of Lane and the others, crossing his arms comfortably, looking at them as if they were trapped beasts in a cage.
Lane held tightly onto his sword and covered Angelina behind him with one hand, staring at the blood-red armoured man in front of him. The aura of the person roared like the mighty ocean. Lane had only seen a few jarls from the shadow guards' Sky Unit having a comparable aura. This man was an elite high-rank Knecht and if they really got into a fight, Lane felt that he would not be able to survive more than 20 strikes.
"Ah! No wonder it smelt so familiar! It's those rubbish shadow guards!" Leit opened the visor of his helmet and revealed a slightly strange-looking face. His bloodshot eyes were like those of a demon, truly unforgettable. He licked the remaining blood on his armour with his scarlet tongue, his tone changing from cruel mischief to gritted anger.
Blood Red and the shadow guards were long-time 'friends'. Most of Blood Red was wiped out by Faustian's main army. But in actuality, the shadow guards were the ones who provided information on the location of Blood Red and killed off their high-rank members and during assassinations. Many members of the shadow guards were also killed by Blood Red in recent battles. Things were going smooth at the frontlines and the outcome of the war was becoming clearer by the day. While the casualty of the Faustian army kept declining, the casualties of the shadow guards remained, with the main reason being Blood Red's cruel vendetta.
"Hmph!" Lane did not answer and snorted to express his disdain towards Leit. After all, Leit's strength was greater than his. He had to be fully attentive to avoid any mistakes. Lane had always admired Blood Red despite his hostility towards them. The members of Blood Red were more respectable than the upper-level Shalorians that Lane and the others had assassinated. They were a group of true knights. Both sides were secret troops of their respective countries, so he felt some sympathy towards them.
However, those of Blood Red did not feel the same way. All they wanted was to annihilate all the shadow guards, reclaiming the blood debts of their colleagues and proving their glory. The reason Leit was so hostile towards Lane and other guards was quite obvious. He could not wait to drain the blood of the shadow guards' jarl and listen to his pain-filled wails.
With a wave of Leit's left hand, a blood-red scimitar slid out from inside his armour into his palm. Unlike most sword-wielding Knechts, Leit played with blades, boasting to be among the best blade users within the once-glorious Blood Red. Throughout the battles in his life, he had two high-rank Knechts' deaths to his name. The bloodthirsty scimitar shook slightly as if it wanted to feast on blood.
Lane bent down and stared at the blade of the scimitar with scorching eyes. At this moment, he couldn't be bothered to care about Angelina. As he looked at the blood-red blade, he almost saw death itself.