Originally one of the largest wool markets in Ampere Seale’s eastern harbor, the area lay in ruins from the aftermath of several battles.. The defeated soldiers gathered in the ruined market and argued bitterly. Only the White Lion Legion was left out of it.
"Count Vitokin, the Holy Cathedral will not intervene in any other domestic affairs. They aren’t feigning ignorance; rather, they’re not willing to be manipulated by other powers. I believe you understand this fact, as it is stated in the Covenant of the Gods."
Count Vitokin straightened his helmet and adjusted his armor, but his burn mustache and hair damaged his majesty and made him look somewhat ridiculous. Back when he escaped from the Anderla Cathedral with Duke Seifer, he was injured, and those wounds stung with his every move.
"But, Honorable Bishop, isn't punishing evil is one of your duties? Not to mention the enemies are evildoers who propagate the demise of humanity."
"Of course. The Holy Cathedral will not sit back and watch the Kingdom fall into the lurch." The voice replied.
The pain afflicting his body could not compare to the injury his spirit had suffered. He was still trembling after seeing the might of someone in the ‘Ulitmate Realm’. When Mephisto summoned the Grey Wilderness to reduce the Commandment Flame’s damage, it carved a mark into Count Vitokin’s heart.
Kingship and knighthood were nothing in front of real power, and even the almighty Holy Cathedral had to obey the ultimate law of strength. Count Vitokin glanced at his pale palm that still slightly shook.
He raised his head and glanced at a place not far away. The famous Sword Grandmaster Nicholas, a subordinate of Duke Seifer, was negotiating under his master's command with the Holy Cathedral.
"On behalf of my master, I ask, what does the Holy Cathedral plan to do?"
"Let's phrase it like this. We accepted Aouine’s new Royal Family’s invitation to arrest the Ash Sword Saint. That atrocious man murdered high-ranking members of the Holy Cathedral. Besides, we intend to reclaim the holy relic of His Majesty the Flame King, the fragment of Holy Sword Oderfeiss…”
The Bishop spoke rubbish, but to summarize it: the Holy Cathedral of Flame would help Aouine’s new Royal Family deal with the Ash Sword Saint and fight against ‘evil cultists’, but would not interfere with internal politics.
That’s typical of the Kirrlutz people, looking down on the others. But Duke Seifer didn’t say anything. Though he looked imposing, he dared not do anything.
As early as King Oberg the Sixth’s reign, the nobles of Aouine gradually degraded in quality. People soon forgot that Aouine had once been a powerhouse with experts in the Ultimate Realm. King Erik himself had been one, and there was even a time when they had two Sword Saints in that realm. After that, they had Tuman as their court mage. That, however, was the end of their glorious times.
Nicholas’s face was cold, "What about the evil cultists by Her Majesty’s side??"
The Bishop simply replied, "Master Wood said that we’ll help you build a temporary Teleportation Array for you to summon your Black Blade Squad onto the battlefield ... But that’s it. If we build one here, we’ll have one less for our men. Just so you know, even in Kirrlutz, the Teleportation Arrays are only meant to transport our best troops. As for those third rate trash like the Black Blade Squad, we’re just doing it to uphold the alliance-”
Nicholas’s face turned black and he interrupted: "I see. I thank the Holy Cathedral for the support. But I wonder when will the assistance arrive?”
"Soon. Our methods are beyond an ordinary person’s imagination..." The Bishop replied with open arms and a look of reverence. "Let's wait for the show to begin... Oh, it's here. "
Suddenly, the bickering around them stopped. The priests of the Holy Cathedral of Fire raised their heads up high to see the space above them rippling.
In the center of those ripples, a door opened.
The winds stopped.
A total of twelve gates of light hung in the air, and from inside them, white runes appeared. Following behind those archaic writings were twenty men in golden red robes and mysterious masks.
Each person held a long sword in the shape of a flame.
If Brendel were here, he would recognize them to be the Paladins of the Central Holy Cathedral, the special ops of the Holy Cathedral of Flame. Each one of them was personally trained by the Compassion Flame Knight and was far stronger than other fighters of the same rank.
And they only had one task: judging heretics.
Count Vitokin looked up at these Paladins.
Spacial Spells...These are listed as one of the most forbidden spells of the Holy Cathedral of Fire. These spells were discovered back in the War of The Holy Saints and remained being the most classified secrets of the four Holy Cathedrals. They were so rare that there are only a handful in Vaunte.
It was his first time seeing such a miracle like transporting twenty Paladins thousands of miles away. His mind shuddered in fear.
As a soldier, he knew exactly what that meant—it was a truly unrivaled force.
He forgot that Aouine once faced such power and even came out on top. Back then, the Holy Cathedral was even stronger than it was right now - and yet, they lost to the newly founded Aouine!
Vitokin shivered. If these Paladins wanted to seize hold of this country, can we nobles stop them from taking Aouine as their own?
He heard clattering from the stone floor behind him and was stirred from his daze.
Vitokin turned around only to see an old, white-haired knight accompanied by two other knights. Wearing a well-worn, slightly faded dark blue cavalry uniform, the man was Leider Dulo, leader of the White Lion Legion.
The old man was also looking up at the sky. Count Vitokin hurriedly greeted him, only to be ignored.
Vitokin's face flushed red while turning pale at the same time, Even this man is looking down on me.
And he cursed. So what if they’re the number one squad in the Kingdom? They can’t even protect the Lionheart Sword.
Such arrogance even though he had lost! What’s so good about him?! He cursed again, completely disregarding his honor as a noble.
But on the surface, he only pouted slightly. Not even Leider noticed his resentment.
The old man seemed to be thinking. He pressed the ivy pattern on his sword handle slightly. It had been his sword for thirty-two years and the mark seemed to have slightly faded. The sword had been with him since the last war, and each time he took it out, he would be reminded of the days when he carried it on the highlands. But all that faded with time.
The White Lion Legion’s youngsters were still fighting, and Callun even begged him to bring everyone away from this land. But - as a soldier - they had to have the courage to face sadness and agony. And those youngsters did it, completely embodying the true spirit of the White Lion Legion.
However, would the old White Lion Legion lose its faith? The old man had no energy to care about its pride anymore. In his eyes, the flames of determination flared, like if it were all that was left of his frail body.
He stared up at the sky for a long time.
For Aouine? Or for the Sword?
Oh King Erik, there isn’t much time left for Aouine’s people. The Holy War is imminent, and Madara is eyeing our lands. There must not be a civil war now, or else we shall perish…
This land where the ancestors spilled their blood was the land that bore the dreams of Aouine’s people. As long as this land existed, Aouine would have a chance to redeem its glory.
I am too old, and the White Lion Legion is just like me; we are getting older by the day. The legoin is so old that it cannot even raise its banner anymore. But in any case, we should give it one last shot.
As for hope, let’s leave it for future generations.
Someday or another, someone else would bear this task.
Your Majesty, seems like this is the extent of my capabilities...
The Royal Cavalry Academy’s young sergeants and the White Lion Battalion finally found a way out from the siege, but their crisis had not yet been averted.
There was still the group of Coast Guards.
There was no guarantee of survival. Brendel ordered everyone to get off their horses and move slowly to conserve energy.
They were crossing Torfs Square, located on the same axis as the Anderla Cathedral and the auction house and aligned with Ampere Seale’s Harbor to the west.
Maynild was worried about the speed of the army and was anxious whether the White Lion Legion would catch up to them from behind. But Brendel just shook his head when she asked Brendel that question.
"No. Do you know how many White Lion Legion soldiers were mobilized to kill us?" He asked.
The female knight froze slightly and she lowered her head to estimate. In the first battle they encountered and defeated almost four columns of the enemy. Each column had almost two to three hundred men, but they were not all eliminated.
If she included the enemies in front of them, there was a chance that they could be flanked on both sides.
Brendel saw the hesitation on her face and explained, "The White Lion Legion has three infantry squads: Jude, Sharp Claw, and Lion's Mane; a knight squad; the White Lion Blade Squad; and a secret squad that was removed," Brendel said as he glanced at his White Lion Battalion. He continued, "It is unlikely for them to mobilize the entire Legion, so only a select few elites were sent to kill us."
"In the previous battle, we encountered Franz’s two teams, which should belong to Jude’s archers and footmen. After that, the light cavalry that came to support were likely the knights of the Holy Cathedral as well as their Patrol Knights. The scumbag that you killed should have been their commander Kaien…”
It was surprising to see the female knight stunned, but she did not make it obvious from her cold expression.
Brendel just shook his head, Kaien was a little popular back then, and it’s truly a pity for him to die so quickly. However, since when was there a way forward without casualties?
"And the last line of defense that we broke through just now was obviously the other infantry squad. Considering that the Jude Squad consisted of four swordsmen teams and two heavy footmen teams, we have probably faced two of the swordsmen teams and one heavy footman team.”
"Am I right, Baron Oberwei?" Brendel asked back.
The lone wolf of the Kingdom nodded. He was slightly shocked. Before Princess Gryphine reclaimed her right to the throne, there were no single organized formation for the Kingdom’s military forces, and each noble had their own method to organize his army. [TL: Is it organized right now?]
Despite being soldiers, they did not know how the divisions operated. So whatever Brendel said just now was something he never expected anyone to remember.
Besides anomalies like Brendel, most people in Aouine did not know how the divisions operated.
During wars, commanders would determine the identity of their enemies with the flags they had and their battle tactics. There were countless misunderstandings caused by that and there were also commanders who took that chance to formulate classical battle tactics.
It was just that history was constantly changing. Madara and Kirrlutz had already restructured their militaries in preparation for the war that would dawn after the Great Demonic Wave, but Aouine was still lagging behind them.
Which was probably one of the reasons for the downfall of this Kingdom.
Brendel looked beside him. Most of these people are soldiers. Well, they were junior sergeants, but they knew just how impressive Brendel’s explanation was.
Everyone else thought that he was only making assumptions. There was no commander in history as arrogant as Brendel to state he could determine the enemy divisions with just one look.
But seeing Oberwei agreeing with Brendel's answer, they felt really troubled.He sounds confident, so he was definitely not putting out random guesses. But how could he know?
"How do you know?" Maynild asked on their behalf.
Brendel smiled, "Because I'm familiar with each of Aouine's military divisions, their tactics, and execution.”
He did not answer to be regarded as a genius. He wanted to display his confidence and boost the morale of his soldiers. To kill out a bloody path from here, confidence played a huge factor.
"You said you are familiar with every division in Aouine?" A soft but calm voice asked.
Brendel looked up and saw Princess Gryphine. His eyes shined.
She was no spoon-fed princess. She was a formidable opponent for someone her age, and it was her idea to join this frontier raid group with Brendel.
He could even see the bloodstains caked on her blade and her cheeks.
She turned to stare at him with silver eyes. Her wavy silver hair laid over the dark blue woolen military uniform that fit perfectly the curves on her body.
That's a refreshing look. And then Brendel realized that she had been wearing that outfit all this time, but with a thick coat over it. No wonder she looked really fat that time.
Brendel thought for a moment. I can’t guarantee for EVERY division. Even so, I 'lived' in Aouine for a century, during which time I fought alongside many armies - including private armies owned by the nobles.
But no one would have believed him if he said that.
"Well, I can’t say ALL of them," Brendel thought and replied deliberately. “But I should be familiar with the common ones.”
But then her expression changed, and she looked over to Oberwei with an odd expression.
Oops, I might have exaggerated the facts. But Brendel could only continue, "Anyway, the conclusion is obvious ..."
"According to the White Lion Legion’s divisions, a swordsman team should have three light infantry columns and one archer column. With an additional mage subgroup and scout subgroup, it would reach a total of 1,100 soldiers. The heavy infantry squad would be half that size, so I assume that there should be less than 3000 White Lion Legion soldiers on this battlefield.”
And he stopped there.
So there are less than 3000 of them here. Maynild thought. In the previous battle, they must have lost more than 30% of their total force. That’s impressive.
For an army to keep on fighting despite losing one-third of their forces was an impressive feat in and of itself.
Not to mention that Brendel had tens of Gold rankers under it. Even if more of them were here, the outcome would not be too different either.
"But will they just let us leave?" Maynild raised her long eyelashes and glanced at Brandel silently.
"Exactly, they won’t. We must develop a new plan now."
The enemy had only deployed 3000 men, but that was illogical for a battle on this scale.
The missing piece was the men from Kirrlutz.
Then the princess’s eyes lit up, “Do the Kirrlutz intend to get something out of this?”
"The Kirrlutz and the Holy Cathedral of Fire should not intervene personally due to the Covenant of Gods and the Divine Bible, but they should be able to help our enemies indirectly." Brendel silently recalled the underhanded methods of the Holy Cathedral of Fire, and replied, "Kirrlutz is here, and they certainly not to have tea with us!"
"Plus, we are the owners of this place. If anything, we should be the ones welcoming them." He also joked leisurely, and the soldiers laughed in response.
Brendel's laid-back yet confident attitude made a deep impression on his army. They would not tolerate a weakling leading them, especially one that was as young as Brendel.
"So how can they be involved, commander?" someone asked right after Brendel’s words ended.
When they heard that the Kirrlutz would not involve themselves directly, everyone sighed in relief. Brendel was possibly the only freak in all of Aouine that viewed the mighty Kirrlutz forces as a nonentity. After all, they were a nation that had been developing their powers and amassing resources for centuries now.
"Well, our enemies can deploy troops onto the field quicker. There’s the Coast Guards in front of us, and the main army behind us. And don't think that everything will become any easier after defeating the White Lion Legion.’
Brendel looked at the others and reminded them, "We only defeated a small part of the White Lion Legion. The true elites are still behind us."
"The Door of Flame!" Princess Gryphine's silver eyes lit up slightly, "You mean, the Holy Cathedral will build a temporary Teleportation Array in Ampere Seale like the Door of Flame back in the last Holy War?”
"But the array would cost a lot of money, and even the Holy Cathedral would not waste that many resources. I heard that they only built several of those back in that war; do you think they would spend that much over a mere skirmish?" Maynild asked.
Brendel shook his head, Such naivety!
However, Princess Gryphine nodded calmly, "The Holy War is coming, and a stable Aouine would mean much more to the Holy Cathedral than a Teleportation Array. Not to mention that Aouine is at the frontlines too, so a Teleportation Array is a must... "
"So this means that both the Black Blade Squad and the remaining White Lion Legion may appear on Ampere Seale's battlefield anytime," Rouka stated.
"But our main army is still in Frada." Enrique could not help but change his expression.
Finally, he caught up the situation, "Which means we’re doomed.”
"Don't worry, all of these are merely guesses. The Door of Flame the Holy Cathedral’s trump card and they would not use it so simply, especially since it has a usage limit. But we still need a backup plan."
He then continued, "I plan everything out before I execute an operation. I wish for you all to do the same too, as there may be some changes to the plan depending on what we encounter.”
"So what are you planning to do?" Maynild asked.
"I haven't figured it out yet, but we can exclude the unrealistic options one by one."
"The most straightforward way is to kill a path to the harbor. There will be enemies there, but I have allies to assist us there too. "
"But then again, the Holy Cathedral knows our intentions of using the sea route, it is not wise to make this choice. Besides, experts in the Elemental Realms could easily destroy our boats and we might drown…”
"Meaning we can only go by land..." Maynild replied calmly, like everything was a piece of cake. Brendel was slightly taken aback by her apathetic expression, which look just like that of a friend he knew a long time ago yet felt unfamiliar at the same time.
The senior in Brendel's memory was full of confidence and had an infectious smile on her face. However, she was still majestic and determined, like a natural-born leader.
There seemed to be something going on with the female knight. She frowned and had a distant look on her face, as if she was immersed in thought.
Every time Brendel compared her to his senior, he would be struck by a weird feeling. Those two are obviously different people, but why do I always compare them
Maynild noticed his gaze on her and raised her eyebrows too.
"Ah, sorry." Brendel stumbled out of his daze.
"It’s fine, but if we execute your plan, we would have to pass through the Frada Forest and across the Arreck Mountain Ranges. It will not be easy. In fact, it will be extremely difficult, and there’s a chance we’ll meet Duke Arreck’s forces. The Northern Alliance will definitely not let us go so readily!”
"It is slim, but we do have a chance," Brendel shook his head.
With a bitter smile, he added, "Besides, we have no other choice."
“We will move as Maynild suggested and regroup with our other allies in the south. Your Majesty, you must have had a plan to break through from the south as well right? With the Lone Wolf’s wisdom, he must have made arrangements for this.”
He looked at Princess Gryphine.
"Yes," the half-elf girl nodded calmly.
She replied in Oberwei’s place, "But we still don't have many options. The best method we came to was to deploy my army along the border of the Arreck region and head north, but it would take at least three days to reach the Frada Forest.”
"If they encountered Duke Arreck’s forces, it will be delayed even further.."
Brendel nodded. He knew that the princess and Oberwei were hiding their trump cards. From her tone, her army was so strong that not even Duke Arreck’s army could defeat it, only being able to delay it at most.
As far as he knew, Princess Gryphine’s troops did not have such capabilities. Even the Royal Cavalry Academy sergeants weren’t that capable. If fact, the only capable ones amongst the junior sergeants were the graduates plus a few better students like Freya and Bennett.
In other words, there must be nobles who were supporting Princess Gryphine secretly. It would seem that her connections are pretty vast. If he added Duke Anthony’s forces backing the princess as well, they could potentially rival the north in terms of military powers.
But that was not what Princess Gryphine wanted.
Brendel knew her character better than anyone else. She may seem calm and collected, but she was actually terribly stubborn. She would definitely not let anyone assist her.
There should still be something else.
She must have more than one trump card. If she only had this one, she would have lost right away on this playing field. Did I overlook anything?
Watching his gaze, Princess Gryphine sighed, "But that doesn’t mean we do not have any opportunities to escape. If we can leave Ampere Seale and retreat back to St. White Bay, my allies should be able to pick us up.”
St. White Bay?
His mind spun. He knew that place. It was located to the south of Ampere Seale, beyond the Frada Forest. There were no docks or harbor there, so it could at most be a temporary anchorage ground.
But that’s the habitat of the Storm Hermit Crabs that are rank 12 aquatic monsters. There were only a few fisherman’s missions or missions from Ampere Seale were related to that place.
How can there be allies there?
"Anchorage ground," Brendel suddenly responded. “Aouine’s Imperial Navy’s anchorage ground!"
"Ah!" Princess Gryphine let out a gasp.
As soon as his words come out, Brendel raised his head to look at Princess Gryphine who was looking at him with a shocked look, "Mr. Brendel ... you ... how did you ... "
Ah… I’ve spoken too much again. He was embarrassed. It was not a good thing to have information on future events after all.
The anchorage ground in St. White Bay was a secret hiding spot for the Imperial Navy that no one besides the Royal Family knew...
He tried to explain himself, but as if she had come to a realization, the half-elf princess looked at him with a complicated expression, "So Bunide’s words were true... Mr. Ciel is still alive... You and Mr. Ciel are really ... "
"Ah?" Brendel paused. "Wait, what's so special about my relationship with Ciel? Isn't it a normal relationship between a knight and his servant?"
He turned around, baffled.
Only to see Ciel smiling bitterly.