“Our goal is simple. There are three portals in total. If we even leave just one behind, the mission will be a failure.
“The task of finding the Analyzing Portal will be left to Amandina, while the others, including myself, are to cover her as she approaches the portal, and to protect her until she’s done.
“Do you have any more questions?”
Brendel looked at all of them. They would have to face thousands of Devils later and no one expected success except him. Most of those present only saw the action as a noble act. First of all, they had less than forty people and secondly, their opponent was an army of Devils. Short of a miracle, they were unable to see how they could secure victory.
Some of Anthony’s knights looked nervous. Some frowned deeply, while some others joked around as if they did not care. Garlock, the usually silent and quiet Seeker of Wonders, was demonstrating a spell model to Ciel. Nicholas, the Sword Grandmaster of Seifer, was polishing his longsword over and over again, and the Princess was staring at the darkness of Ampere Seale in the rain alone, daydreaming about something. All these actions seemed meaningless, however, it showed a certain extent of uneasiness among them.
Who could face death with equanimity when the final moment was so close?
But even so, everyone nodded silently. They did not know that there was still a trace of hope - that there was a chance - in the young man's heart. They merely thought that it was a kind of chivalrous persistence and steadfastness, to still wish to initiate a challenge despite knowing that failure would be the outcome. In this day and age, such determination would be considered naive in the eyes of most nobles, and yet at the same time, it was rare and worthy of admiration, because no one could blaspheme the pursuit of ideals and honor itself.
That was exactly why the crowd had admiration for Brendel.
Brendel could more or less sense the meaning of this, but he was not going to explain the misunderstanding. “Well, too much time has been wasted. We only have five minutes to prepare, then we will leave immediately, so please hurry up or leave a will. You and I both understand that death is inevitable this time.”
Everyone was silent.
Only Ciel smiled. “It’s a pity, there should have been a chance for our descendants to build us a monument to record the events and heroic acts that will happen here today, with inscriptions that read ‘The great Trentheim and his entourages’, but it seems like that there’s no chance of that now. It’s still a question of whether anyone will remember us in the future,” the young wizard described in detail.
“Why would no one remember?” Dilferi on the other hand could not help but wonder.
“It’s simple, because some righteous Holy Cathedral will hide the truth, but can we stand up and go against it?” Ciel replied, and the wizard could not help but give a light laugh as well.
The joke was interesting, but the point was that it fit with the malicious suspicion in the minds of the people at the moment regarding the Kirrlutz people. Wasn’t all of this now the work of the Kirrlutz and the Holy Cathedral of Fire? Although everyone was now united in cooperation against the Devils, there was not a hint of discomfort in their hearts, especially the Lantonilan knights who all let out a loud laugh with impunity.
Brendel could not help but chuckle as well. It seemed that this fellow Ciel had a lot of opinions about the Holy Cathedral of Fire, but it was agreed that what he said would probably come to pass in the future if they actually died here.
In fact, even the one and only Paladin among the crowd shook his head with a casual smile at Ciel’s words. As a high-running member of the Holy Cathedral of Fire, he would naturally be aware of how the Holy Cathedral acted, but it was nothing unacceptable to him as he was loyal to his faith instead of the Holy Cathedral’s ways of doing things.
Brendel emerged from the crowd and walked to the edge of the woodland to take a look at the gentle sloping belt to the north, and he sighed. Some things were easier said than done. A gently sloping meadow connected the hills to the north of Ampere Seale with the bay. This terrain was terribly unsuitable for a raid. The little Devils’ vision may be limited, but the Hellhounds were the best scouts, so if they left the forest they might get discovered immediately.
Brendel could not help but be in despair at the thought of being discovered and the ever-increasing number of Devils by the portals.
He could not help but think that it would have been better if the battle had been fought in the middle of the hills, but unfortunately, the Devils were not stupid. Moreover, they had run out of options.
A rustle of footsteps came from behind him, and Brendel did not have to look back to know that it was the Countess of Yanbao, as she was the only one here who could be that clumsy and make such a ruckus.
“You wanted to ask what you could do?” Brendel replied without turning his head.
“You… you must not be at all liked by girls, Mr.Brendel.” Dilferi stopped for a moment and continued. “I was indeed wondering what I could do, Mr.Brendel, were you impressed by my ability to summon Devils?”
“Ha,” Brendel laughed. “You figured it out?”
“There are no other possibilities.” Dilferi looked a little sad. “But I’m about to disappoint you; although I’m secretly learning the psychic arts, in truth, I can actually only summon very weak low-level Devils.”
Brendel could not help but look at her. “Really? But I do have one question, Countess. Aren't you afraid at all? You know what it means to be here, don't you?"
He looked at his watch. There were three minutes left. There was still more time, so he asked the question that he had been curious about since before. The head of the White Lion Legion, Leider, had chosen to join for reasons he could more or less have guessed. That major figure was historically a tragic character. One could say that he was arguably a tragic hero. He was one of the few people who was distinct from the other nobles of Aouine, but he chose a wrong path.
To be honest, Brendel did not agree with Leider’s choice, and as an individual, it might be admirable. However, from the old man’s position, it was far too short-sighted. To cut off the future of the kingdom because of one man’s misjudgment was not a mistake that could be overlooked for the sake of a righteous purpose.
But if Leider was trying to make up for his mistake, Brendel wondered about Count Yanbao’s actions. Although she was his chosen candidate, her reactions were a little too outstanding, as if her chivalry was overflowing.
It was not quite the same as Brendel’s impression of her.
Dilferi hesitated, but finally nodded seriously. “I know I might die here, Mr. Brendel.”
Brendel listened as she continued. "But I'm not the only heir to the Yanbao family, and if I die here today, the House of the Sword Guardian will only glorify me and wash away the shame brought on by the shattering of the Sword Throne. If I live, my family will not be reborn as a result, but if I die, I won’t be able to decide my own fate and that of my family.
“So I thought, perhaps I could at least decide the value of my own life.” Dilferi looked at Brendel seriously. "And besides, I'd rather die bravely and honorably. Wouldn't it be nice to die beside a true knight who could shed his last drop of blood for this kingdom? Isn’t it romantic?"
Romantic my ass.
Brendel was unable to comprehend this inexplicable sacrifice of hers, just as he had never been able to fetter personal freedom for the sake of his family. Je looked at the Countess and for the first time, he felt an invisible gulf between them.
"Is it worth it?"
"It’s worth it." Dilferi nodded affirmatively.
Alright. Brendel shrugged and decided to change the subject to something with lesser weight. "But then again, is the shattering of the Sword Throne that bad for you guys?"
"Of course, Yanbao had made an oath to guard the Sword Throne, and the shattering of the Sword Throne means that the Lionheart Sword will have to choose a new master, which was a disaster to us. Our family had to face the criticism and accusations of the covetous."
“I see.” It finally dawned on Brendel, who had guessed it earlier. If Yanbao did not meet with any trouble, the little girl Dilferi would not have been out on the run.
“But isn’t the Lionheart Sword back in the princess' hands?"
"Mr. Brendel, back then we had sworn an oath to the Seifer royal family. Later on the Lionheart Sword went missing, but fortunately, Covardo the Sword Throne still existed. So the ancestors of Covardo swore an oath to the throne before the Sword Throne, and the House of Yanbao's allegiance today is actually to the royal family, not to the princess," The Countess explained in detail.
Brendel understood completely after she explained. But honestly, even though he understood the original reason, he could not understand the other party’s choice.
He fell silent and took out a circular object from the dimensional cave. “Your family will be honored by you, but to be honest, I regret it,” Brendel replied quietly.
"Mr. Brendel, you don't have to, ah..." Dilferi stared at the object as soon as she saw it. "It's… the Devil Armlet?”
Brendel nodded slowly.
Five minutes was not a long time, and by the time Brendel and Dilferi walked back from the edge of the forest, everyone was already prepared to set out.
He did not say much, and in fact, was not in the mood to, so he just nodded and led everyone off. They passed through the forest and were soon following the slope into the gently sloping belt to the north. Before this, Brendel had told himself more than once that this action this time was not much different from his experience in the game in the past, whether it was the experience of killing his way out of the Lizardmen’s siege, or the risky raid on Madara’s Undead during the second War of The Black Roses, or the delivery of a message during the Cloverleaf Operation under the noses of the Kirrlutz.
It worked every time, didn’t it?
But it was not until the silence of the crowd at the moment before he took action that he felt something. There seemed to be tension in the air and unease that reminded him more than once of that night in Bucce.
Through the gaps in the cascading branches and leaves of the canopy, the portals of the Door of Flame stood like three huge golden rings in the rain. These things alone were enough to cause tremendous stress to people. Fortunately, in order to ensure the surroundings near the portals were clear, not a single flying creature could be seen in the entire northern sky of Ampere Seale.
Whether it was a Barbarian Devil or an Eagle Demon.
That was the only comforting thing to Brendel.
The Devils were rather confident of the troops’ strength near the portals, and there were no patrols set up in the surrounding hilly areas. Of course, the Devils did not have any patrols in the first place, and their fighting style was always straightforward, violent, and direct. That was it.
Instead, Brendel had been expecting to run into Jorgendy Ridge, but it looked like he was having good luck. He carefully led the others through the overgrown area while keeping a sharp eye on the hill where the Hellhounds were perched, but the other party was seemingly unaware that there was a troop to the north of Ampere Seale. They soon made their way into a meadow close to the gentle slope and to the ground that was between sparse woodland areas.
Brendel was the first to roll sideways behind a tree at the outermost edge of the woodland and took a look outside. The nearest portal was just less than a kilometer away from him, and because it was so huge, it almost seemed within reach.
Brendel took a breath and turned back immediately to signal to the others. Everyone lowered their bodies and crept closer to the edge on the forest floor.
To be honest, this action was not anything new. Scouts often approached enemy troops in this manner and even taught their horses to do so, but if there was an airborne scouting unit, doing so in an endless meadow would be like seeking death.
But Brendel just had his eyes on the clear area near the portal.
They slowly crawled out of the edge of the woodland and slowly entered the meadow belt. Brendel would raise his head slightly from time to time to take a look at the reaction of the Hellhounds that was among all the Devils. The Hellhounds were number one when it came to their perception ability. Even those higher-ranked Longhorn Devils were no match for them in this regard.
But Marsha was clearly on their side this time. They managed to advance three to four hundred meters all the way, and although it took a full ten minutes, the Hellhounds showed no reaction
even when they were almost half the distance away.
But their fortune apparently ended here.
Suddenly, Brendel could see the three-headed Hellhound stand up alertly at once. If he had been lucky up to this point, he might as well wait until the creature looked over in this direction, and that was when he immediately realized that his troop had been spotted.
At this distance, it was unlikely for the other party to have discovered them by sight. It would have been by their human scent instead. Brendel was prepared for their incredible sense of smell, but he could not help but still feel frightened. Moreover, they were in the middle of torrential rain. Had it been a sunny day, they probably would not have been able to hide in the forest.
The two major scouting soldiers of the Devils, the Barbarian Devil in the sky and the Hellhound on the ground, had famed reputations that were not exaggerated by the players. Brendel only saw those six pairs of blood-red eyes sweep in this direction when he immediately felt a numbness in his scalp. He subconsciously shouted.
The noble lady understood tacitly and immediately approached him, Brendel immediately got up from the ground and in one swoop, he scooped her up by the waist and carried her. He took off running right away, heading straight for the portal directly in front of them. “Quick! Destroy the nearest portal first!”
As soon as he moved, the Hellhounds on the hill all stood up in unison. The Longhorn Devils by the portal were slower to react, these tall Devils immediately kicking away the brawling little Devils. While cursing at them, they ordered the little Devils to prepare for battle.
And then, the Devil Warlocks appeared by the portals. Those monsters that originally seemed to be hidden among the large masses of little Devils stood up and immediately lit up blood-red flames in their hands, then they hurled them at Brendel and the others as though those were mere raindrops.
Brendel had one hand around Amandina while the other drew out the Halran Gaia. He was incredibly familiar with these monsters and naturally knew their usual tricks. He was about to fight them head-on when the Paladin and Nicholas had arrived in front of him, one to his left and one to his right. They stretched out their hands and countless golden-red Lines of Laws stretched forward and devoured all the fireballs.
In front of these two masters who played with fire, the Devil Warlocks’ fireball technique was just not enough.
Brendel was momentarily relieved. This was the reason he asked Nicholas in particular to join him. Devils were experts at playing with fire, but their skills would be considered child’s play if compared to Nicholas, who was of Elemental Enlightenment.