Below verdant green leaves, a thin layer of mist drifted about, painting a picturesque scene of the serene Frada Forest. However, some people broke the tranquility. A knight lifted a bunch of shrubs and leaves with his sword to let his horse out from behind the bushes. Then, he saw a group of people sitting on the forest ground not far away.
Makarov raised his head and inspected the person behind the knight closely. His once tensed face relaxed. He shook off the leaves on his shoulders then stood up and said, “You all are finally here.”
The young man was not sitting upright on the horse’s back. He looked at them with an uptight face and said nothing.
Makarov instantly knew that something was not right.
Within his scope of vision, many knights in black and red robes appeared in the forest and surrounded the Royal Faction.
Dozens of drawn longbows with razor-sharp arrowheads aimed directly at everyone near the campfire.
It was the army of Duke Anthony.
“What’s the meaning of this, Eikkel?!” Makarov questioned loudly.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Makarov,” Eikkel looked at them and declared arrogantly, “You understand that if I am still a knight, I will never take another oath!”
Makarov immediately knew what Eikkel wanted, but he did not believe that he would be so erratic at this moment. “Don’t be stupid, Eikkel. You know what’s right. We should immediately rescue Prince Haruz and escort him to the Archbishop. This is our last chance.” Makarov pleaded.
“No.” Eikkel interrupted. “I know what is right - justice and ideals! You told me before about where the Royal Faction placed their faith in, but we still questioned ourselves. Are we still on the right side then?”
“Don’t tell me that the many defeats have caused us to lose our courage to reform. The Royal Faction once promised to take action according to the oath, but what happened after that? Was it all just talk?”
The young man lifted his head and looked towards the direction of the port of Ampere Seale. Under the blue sky, it looked like a pure white city.
It was so white it looked as if it was shining, making it hard to gaze directly at it.
“No, what we need is to pick up the spirit that the people of Aouine have completely abandoned. This should be the one common desire that everyone should have - the Royal Faction, Her Highness, and all of Aouine.” He looked back at the now stunned people and added, “The battle is far from over. Are the members of the Royal Faction leaving the battlefield now?”
“You’re a lunatic, Eikkel.” Makarov could not believe that his student said such a thing, he quietly signaled to Buga who was at the side, asking him to stop this crazy young man.
But Eikkel seemed to be unusually somber. He turned to Buga and said, “Teacher Buga, as the new Count of Carolan and the only heir as the commander to Duke Anthony’s army, I order you to ally with me. I won’t order you to kill your own companions and the princess that’s still in the city. I only need you to swear felty to Duke Anthony’s army. I shall have my glory now, but I don’t want to enjoy it all alone.”
“You can have both the order and glory, Teacher Buga. Please don’t disappoint me.”
The young man said sincerely.
Buga and Makarov looked at each other, feeling bitter. They have been preparing for this moment all along, but they never expected the outcome.
“Eikkel with a mindset of a knight could not have said such things. I know you’re there, Youla.” The sly fox of the Kingdom shook his head and shouted into the forest.
There was a sound of a horse galloping, and the blind girl appeared from behind Eikkel. She looked gentle and quiet. Although she was blind, it was as if she could see everything with her heart.
“Youla, you could differentiate between what’s right and wrong.”
“Indeed, this is because I only consult the heart.” Youla said with a smile, “A covenant from the phoenix, an oath from the prince; all these are precious promises that could not be broken. “
Makarov and Fleetwood sighed at the same time. They could not help but lifted their heads to look at the sky above the branches- the blue sky looked as if it was reflecting the past. When was it that the Royal Faction could try their best with ample determination?
Makarov still remembered the toughest time he went through, his fame and accomplishments ignored as he was forced to remain incognito and remain a mercenary captain in a remote area. Maybe it was because the Royal Faction had failed too many times and waited for too long - so many times and so long that they could not afford to face another failure anymore.
Aouine’s future was too far away for people like them to reach for.
Duke Anthony’s army finally made their entrance, with a flag no one would have imagined. In the port of Ampere Seale, the students of the Royal Cavalry Academy were passing through the entire south city but did not meet with the enemies they were expecting.
Their enemy, the Coast Guards of Ampere Seale, were now experiencing their worst defeat in decades.
Sani and his men were patrolling the defeated positions of the Coast Guards. His yellow, cold, and narrow pupils watched as the Coast Guards of Marquis Yurian finally collapsed. The soldiers walked out of their camps with their hands high in the air, holding their weapons with them. Their numbers were surprising.
It was a short period of four hours.
Although the Coast Guards of Ampere Seale claimed to have a formation of 35,000 people, Sani estimated that they could only have defeated less than half of that amount. In a wealthy area like Ampere Seale, the Coast Guards were similar to mercenaries. The situation of not getting paid had always been unwillingly accepted, and most nobles were well aware of the Coast Guards’ lacking wages.
But the question was, who dared to attack the territory of the Holy Cathedral?
The Grey Fins Nagas’ Secret Army gave this query a loud and clear answer. The fifteen thousand veterans were utterly defeated in less than a day. They did not even manage to escape and they ended up being held captive.
This was literally a joke.
Marquis Yurian was either stunned or he had not anticipated this in his heart. The only thing he did not understand was the insanity and absurdity of the Nagas.
Sani saw its advisor with darker scales reporting to him, asking if he wanted to move on. He raised his head, and his yellow pupils reflected the inner city of the harbor of Ampere Seale.
This was Aouine’s most sturdy fortress in the North.
To what extent would the Nagas still support the humans?
As he gazed down at the trident clutched in his hands, the gems and jewels inlaid on the polearm filled with an uncertain radiance, he realized it was a gamble. He nodded his head.
I’ll keep advancing.
Time to meet up with Brendel.
The situation on the battlefield gradually becoming more and more one sided.
The elite troops of Kirrlutz had entered, and the Black Blade Squad was assembling their final formations.
The Dragon Knights hovering in the sky launched assaults over Ampere Seale’s port. Somewhere further on the horizon, teams of monsters with open wings seemed to be in a crescent-shaped formation, and the sky was filled with screams and howls.
That scene looked like it was taken straight out of an apocalypse.
Danos saw a wall on his mount, a wall of flying dragons barreling straight towards him. It was not just the Dragon Knights of the Black Blade Squad; he saw all kinds of emblems on the shields, almost all the northern Dragon Knights having united in the field.
In the face of thousands of foes, Danos’ mind went blank. When had he ever come across the same situation in other battlefields? All that remained was despair. He even thought that they were the only ones left defending Aouine.
But he felt a burning fire in him today.
This Kingdom has such a strong army. But why was this army allowed to become the Kingdom’s own enemy? Where were they when we were fighting against Madara? Killing each other in the skies of Aouine?
His heart weighed down by the hopelessness and the prospect of defeat, Danos tightly shut his eyes.
In the dark, rainy night, a ray of light shot skyward.
The North Gate was closed.
Brendel also stopped the discussion about his own life. He knew better than anyone that a large and unpredictable army was crossing the straits of Ampere Seale at this exact moment and might appear right in front of them anytime. All the armies would be gathering in Ampere Seale, making it a dangerous place.
Whether it was just his hypothesis or not, he had the same idea as Danos.
The Southern Dragon Knights were forced to retreat.
Brendel had already ordered them to withdraw in the direction of St. White’s Bay. It was the key to determine their chances at victory.
They were left with very little time.
He was already leading the students of the Royal Cavalry Academy across the whole North City of Ampere Seale. Yet not even a shadow of their enemy was seen, all the way from Old Fisherman’s Avenue to Veliky Square.
Although Brendel was confused, he dared not waste any time. The huge fortress at Ampere Seale’s Port’s south gate seemed to appear in his sight in an instant.
The fortress looked like an abandoned building.
Where are the Coast Guards?
Brendel and everyone else looked up, and saw a familiar figure.
In that moment, the street, lit by the sun’s golden rays, seemed to blaze a pure white.
That person on the fortress’ ramparts smiled slightly and waved his hands. Amidst heavy rumbling, Ampere Seale’s huge southern gate slowly opened.
Everyone’s jaw dropped.
Count Audine stood proudly on the top of the fortress, a sword in his hands he looked at the army on the street as it gradually showed itself. To be precise, he was actually looking at the young commander who was upfront of the army.
A beacon of hope had arrived, emerging after a long night of darkness.
He believed that a miracle would come upon Aouine once again. But it was not until he saw Princess Gryphine behind Brendel that he realized Marsha had never left her people.
Brendel smiled too.
It seemed like he returned to history again, surrounded by his comrades who were fighting towards a shared goal. The people of Aouine had never given up, so he and his compatriots refused to yield as well.
Even if they had to face an army of thousands, what was the big deal?
“In the Loop of Trade Winds, I heard that you would save this Kingdom.” Count Audine shouted from the top of the fortress. “But I didn’t believe it!”
“So you came?”
“Yes.” Count Audine said with a laugh. “So I came.”
“I wanted to bear witness in the princess’ place,”
“All of this.”
The half-elf girl behind Brendel bit her lip, silver eyes beginning to tear. Although the Kingdom had crumbled, there were - in defiance of the odds - new shoots sprouting from its ashes.
Like life, it regenerated.
And the cycle of life never stops.