Pillars of light reflected off of one another in the rain. Looking from afar, it was as if the drizzle that struck through them had turned to gold. Everyone looked up at a crack of light splitting the gloomy skies as rays of angelic white light dawned, gently caressing the faces of the people beneath. The brilliant rays stabbed through the clouds and settled down on the port.
Leider Dulo stood before a windowpane. His body seemed to be infused with inexhaustible energy, his posture upright and his fist clenched.
“Centuries have passed since King Erik parted with this world. But do the nobles of Aouine still remember the oath they made upon the sword?”
None could answer.
Marquis Balta felt restless. He was agitated, but he was more afraid of the person before him changing his mind and switching sides. Even though he was the leader of White Lion Legion, could not match Leider Dulo’s ability to call upon Aouine’s various armies.
The old militant slowly turned his body with a stern look affixed on his face, and a fierce light could be seen within his ashen eyes as if they held an unquenchable fire of determination. He lifted his head and said slowly, “Balta, the White Lion Legion has lost the ‘flag’ in their hearts for a long time, but even so, they cannot lose their pride--.”
“We have long ago strayed from the glorious path King Erik sought. And now, we can only use this Legion to redeem our honor. White Lion Legion - Death shall be our only surrender!!”
Balta froze. Lightning seemed to strike behind the old man’s back, and a thought flashed across his mind. He had once been young and passionate, but all the fights and conspiracies cast shadows over his worn-out hopes. He wasn’t even sure how much he had lost for what he currently held.
He suddenly saw a young man with a spear, riding on a horse as it galloped proudly on the fields. Who knew that I was so close to achieving my dreams.
Balta’s eyes moistened. He then bowed deeply towards his teacher. He had completed his last lesson as a knight - “We all have our own pride”.
With a soft voice, he spoke, “I have learned to compromise between our ideals and reality, and have realized we cannot force ourselves onto a strict path. Those who would sacrifice themselves for the ideals of another, however, deserve respect as well.”
He then bowed slightly towards Leider Dulo once more. Leider shook his head, his eyes reddening. He swallowed hard and said, “Old Wood, the people of Aouine are bleeding.”
“I know… I understand.” Archbishop Wood was on the other side of the room. He closed his eyes, his expression filled with emotion and he sighed, “I’m sorry for Aouine and the people in it…”
Suddenly, a servant clad in a sacrificial robe crashed into the room screaming in panic. “Lord Archbishop, the resonance is getting stronger and is almost out of control now!”
Archbishop Wood did not react and merely looked at Ampere Seale ruefully through the window. There are still people willing to fight for their nation and its citizens in its final moments. Despite how wrong or right they are, their courage is applaudable. Compared to the cowards hiding behind them, it’s admirable that there are still people willing to defy fate. If Kirrlutz were to fall one day, how would it look like?
“Just do your best; they, no… he will notice, anyway.” Wood answered without turning his head. He recalled the young man he saw that day and shook his head, “No matter if it’s right or wrong, there’s always something for us to do.”
“As for the rest, we’ll let the future decide...”
The light that poured from the sky was like a gigantic hand, its weight pressing everyone to the ground.
“It’s ending.” Callun stood in the heavy rain with a spear clenched in his hand, wanting to cry his heart out. Maybe his tears were dry, leaving only rainwater to fall from his cheeks.
Golden rays seemed to bisect the skies, falling onto the opposing army, and he knew that it signified the White Lion Legion’s curtain call.
That man - the man who once handed the Legion’s flag to them, who hung laurels atop their heads, who was once their pride and glory now stood before them, commanding their surrender. Callun raised his head, his actions resembling those of a stubborn child. His gaze seemed to stab through the layers of grey clouds. “A child must grow up, father...”
“This might be our ‘answer’.”
He grit his teeth tightly as tears streamed from his eyes. “My comrades and brothers, we, the White Lion’s claws and teeth, were once the glory of our Kingdom, fighting with our lives on the line,” the young commander howled in the rain. “But no matter where we are, we must never forget our code.”
“White Lion Legion - Death is our only surrender!”
“White Lion Legion - Death is our only surrender!” Many soldiers shed tears, knowing what lay ahead. Nevertheless, they still charged forward, unfaltering despite knowing their inevitable defeat. It was their choice. It was their honor to fight with their brothers until the end, and Callun lifted his sword - as if he was lifting the weight of the entire world - and growled loudly, his body shaking uncontrollably, “CHARGE!!!!.”
Accompanied by light, a massive pressure repressed the movements of all in the area. However, the White Lion Legion was still crawling forwards. Determination and courage could be seen on their faces as they advanced inch by inch, charging towards Brendel with an indomitable will.
As Carglise looked up, he saw them in this undignified state. He was always proud of the hardships he went through: the harsh training in the Black Forest, Brendel’s teachings, learning the most systematic of Elven sword techniques, inheriting the ancient White Lion’s Tactics, and wearing the most delicately carved White Lion armor.
He was proud. Proud to receive these legacies, and proud to represent the most glorious squad in all of Aouine’s history. He thought they were undefeatable.
It was not until today that his squad knew what a soldier’s resolve meant.
Everyone was looking at Callun and his soldiers as they pressed forward in the slowest way possible. However, Carglise and his men were not laughing. Their faces were engraved with the most serious of expressions.
“My Lord,” Carglise lifted his head, raised his arms and shouted loudly at the skies, “Let us fight these enemies fair and square.”
“This is not a matter of right or wrong,”
“This is our respect for them!”
In but a split second, the light vanished. Suddenly, Carglise and his men’s White Lion Armor was coated with a layer of golden shimmering light that gradually merged with the plate mail, embedding newly formed runes into its surface. If Brendel had been there, he would have immediately recognized the White Lion Armor as the final product modified by King Erik.
The very same White Lion Armor that appeared in history.
It was the acknowledgment King Erik had for the righteous. Carglise had but one thought: We’re being acknowledged. This is our recognition as the true White Lions.
He raised his sword. There was no need to issue commands. As the light and pressure disappeared, the two armies transcending time clashed. A conversation between the past and present erupted, the direct confrontation between the two filling the streets of Ampere Seale.
The Kingdom’s White Lion Legion heaved and slashed their swords at Carglise and his army’s armor, but they could not penetrate the White Lion Armor’s magic defense. The mail just glowed slightly, and the swords were deflected.
The White Lion Armour was made by Brendel and based on Maximillion’s designs. Its thickness was less than 3mm but bore a Defense value of 6 which was almost the same as a double-layered plate armor more than 5mm thick. Furthermore, even if an Iron ranker were to wear the armor, he would still retain great mobility. This sort of treasure was unseen in Vaunte.
Usually, foot soldiers would not wear this sort of armor, as they were often taken by cavalry.
Another thing to note was that the armor had an additional 5 Magic Defense Points with the Wind Defense Spell on it. Therefore, it would be hard for the Iron rankers making up most of the White Lion Legion to penetrate the armor unless they had magical weapons.
However, ever since decline of the Royal Family, the White Lion Legion had suffered from decay as well. Back during its glory days, everyone in the Legion had magic armors and magic weapons. But now, only the sparse few elites had magic armor. As for magic weapons? They were totally out of the discussion.
Even when they were the same size and weight as armor, it would be harder to embed magic onto weapons, making enchanted arms more precious. Including the Royal Cavalry, no squad in the Kingdom was fully equipped with magic weapons.
Callun’s fourth platoon of the White Lion Legion was definitely not a company of elites. Amongst the two hundred of them, only a few had magic weapons. And even those were private assets. Callun wielded a magic sword that was his family heirloom. The glow it emitted was weak and faint, but nevertheless, it was still a magic sword. And yet, when he slashed at the enemy, it left barely a scratch on their armor.
Of course, he did not know that only a few members of the White Lion Battalion had specially reinforced armor. Thinking that all of them had such superior defenses, he felt despair. As a Silver ranker, he could not even break the enemy’s armor; how could he expect his men to even touch them?
Carglise was shocked too.
He never knew how powerful the Kingdom’s White Lion Legion was. After going through the Black Forest, rising to the Silver tier’s mid-rank, and mastering the White Raven Sword Art, he was surprised when his opponent nearly killed him with a simple attack.
Fast! That was too fast. It was like he predicted my moves and was waiting to strike my throat the moment the chance presented itself. If not for the White Lion Armor, I would have died where I stood.
He finally knew how painful the confrontation between Buga, the White Knight Abram, and Brendel was back then.
Carglise was sweating profusely, as were the youngsters of Trentheim. Although his men had the upper hand - though they did not suffer a single casualty while their enemies were falling like logs - they knew their skill was not the reason for their advantage.
It was due to the armor they wore.
In reality, they were being beaten by the old knights of the White Lion Legion to the point that it was difficult to lift their arms. But those attacks were rendered useless due to their armor. And when they attacked even once, the enemy would suffer brutal damage.
The kingdom’s White Lion Legion only had simple tactics, and they depended solely on the standard “White Lion Armour“ which provided few abilities and limited their own skills. Even so, Carglise and his army had a hard time dealing with them. However, as time went on, Carglise grew sharper and sharper while his enemies gradually became more fatigued.
Because the White Lion Legion knew, despite their overwhelming advantage in numbers, that they could not win.
Callun knew that his enemies were no weaklings. They merely lack experience, that’s all.
Even so, Carglise and his men were getting better. Their defenses and counterattacks were constantly improving. In a way, Callun was like a teacher to Carglise’s battalion - teaching the students how to kill their teachers.
Callun closed his eyes in agony.
Carglise was not a fool. He too felt unbearable pain. If they continued, they would utterly kill the White Lion Legion’s morale. Although having too much pride would be the cause of one’s downfall, an army should never lose its pride.
And he could not help but admire his enemies’ pride.
He commanded, “Charge forward with full force! Forget about defense!” There was no need to waste effort to defend themselves; after all, their armors could do the job just fine.
Even though this command may have sounded dubious and inconceivable, it was the most effective idea Carglise could think of.
Once the youngsters from Trentheim stopped defending, they regained their composure. It was as if they had returned to the boundless Black Forest, and instead of panicking when they faced their opponents, they stood up courageously as they did back then.
And that was all they needed.
Carglise and his subordinates howled loudly, raising their swords and charging forward as their training in the Black Forest showed its results, and finally they thrust at their enemies.
At that moment, Callun knew that defeat was around the corner.
The strike was a dazzling sight.
The blade auras from the White Raven Sword Art converged like waves sieving through the rain, bringing about a hazy white mist - a perfect display of the name, White Raven.
The air coagulated and formed a flurry of greyish-white birds flying through the crowd.
Following it was a crimson rain, their enemies falling one after the other.
Callun howled in pain. He did not know why he was here. Weren’t my enemies the armies of Kirrlutz? Why am I here, leading my men to their deaths? Why am I making them lose their pride?
However, to their last moments, his men cried out with valor. They were not retreating and defending anymore. They united, throwing themselves at Carglise’s army. It wasn’t a battle anymore; they were just pleading for their demise.
Carglise couldn’t bear it and finally said, “Enough!”
“Stop!” He stood amidst the heavy rain and growled like an angry lion. “Everyone, stop!”
But they did, even before he even spoke. And then, the White Lion Legion’s men did too. Most of them were stained with blood as they stared breathlessly at their enemies with their weapons still in hand.
The street was dyed crimson.
The armies stood at both ends of the street. Silence. There were no longer screams of pain, nor the screech of metal clashing against metal. Only silence.
“I don’t know who you are,” Carglise panted heavily as his voice echoed out in the rain, “The commander on the other side, I wish you would give us a way out…This slaughter should not continue anymore.”
“The White Lion Legion will not retreat no matter what, even if the last of us dies,” Callun looked at Carglise. He was also puffing deeply, and though he was disheartened, his determination did not waver.
Carglise hissed lightly and said, “This is not about retreating,” as he closed his eyes, “Will you all still march onwards even if it’s Aouine’s people you’re facing? Is this your image of glory? Is this the reason you stand here? Answer me! Is this just for the position and power!?”
“No, this shouldn’t be what the White Lion Legion wants.”
“Then is that your path? Is that what you were marching towards when you swore your oath back under the White Lion flag? Open your damn eyes!” Carglise clenched his fists tightly as he shouted in rage,
“Look at your battle flag, dyed crimson with blood. Look at the port, where water once flowed - blood has taken its place!!”
“Blood of none other than Aouine herself!”
“Listen to the raging blaze, it’s the dying cries of the Kingdom, can’t you hear it?”
“So this is what you vowed to protect? Did you not vow to lay down your life for this land should the need arise?”
He glared at them, each word heavier than the last.
“The Kingdom is dying, by our own hands,” Carglise said.
“So I plead to you once more… step aside.”
Callun’s sword fell to the ground with a thud. He saw the blood-stained flag, the white lion emblem on it bathed in his countrymen’s blood.
Was that what I wished for?
In the midst of rain, he knelt to the ground. And with every fiber of his being, with all of his heart and soul...