Just asBrendell headed to the Spiral Hall, an exhausted group of knights was walking through the shimmering cold Frozen Forest. The Forest was silent in the midst of a silvery world, and every branch growing from the snow-white trunks was as crystalline and fragile as glass, which looked like they would turn into powder at the slightest touch.
The sound of heavy footsteps from far away came closer and closer, the pace of varying depths hinted at the owner's nervousness.
It was followed by a trailing rustling sound, like insects crawling under the grass, but it was actually the soft footsteps of some kind of four-legged beast.
"Damn all these!" The young knights of the Folded Sword Squad gritted their teeth and cursed as they turned and drew their longswords.
The next moment, Devils with white fur emerged from the darkness - they were snow-white wolves, full white, except for a pair of cold eyes that glowed in caramel yellow; the wolves charged at the knights through the thorny forest with low growls from the bushes, from under the snowdrifts, and from all four directions.
Time seemed to stand still at that moment, with the growling wolves on one hand and the roaring knights on the other.
"Seven on this side."
A Winter Wolf's lunging movement was fixed in the cold air, then a narrow and bright sword blade pierced its throat, then retracted like lightning, and the white beast tumbled and fell to the edge of the bush.
The knights took a uniform step back, leaving a long line of corpses with foul black blood flowing silently; black smoke rose from the Devils' body and disappeared in the blink of an eye.
The remaining wolves were like a rolling wall of snow crossing the corpses of their own kind, growling as they stood side by side. Their silver fur rattled in the absence of the wind, as they growled in a low voice, the Dark Magic in the forest was gathering up at a speed visible to the naked eye.
The magic formed intertwining blue curves and then condensed into crystal-like ice prisms which suspended in mid-air for a moment. In the next moment, it was like a storm.
Accompanied by a hoarse roar, one after another, auras from the Knights of the Folded Sword Squad unfolded, the knights wielded their longswords to smash the ice prisms to pieces, and the few that passed through the gaps would hit the aura on the armor and explode into a cloud of icy mist.
Brund frowned as he punched the Winter Wolf in its open, bloody maw, almost throwing it back with a punch, along with the splatter of blood and broken teeth. Then he flipped his sword and slashed at the slender face of another Winter Wolf who was waiting for an opportunity to bow and pounce, leaving a bone-deep wound there.
The beast whimpered, turned tail, and fled with its bloody wound, disappearing into the darkness in the blink of an eye.
"Hahahahaha," Alea's rough laughter came from one side, Brendel looked in that direction and saw his companion who was with a mouth full of blood, had surprisingly bitten a wolf to death. He laughed loudly, "If they bite me, I bite it back, what do you mean by fairness? This is fairness. That's why I like to fight, everyone is equal here regardless of origin, Brendel."
The thick gauze wrapped around his neck was shaky and his face was as pale as paper; blood continued to seep out from where he had been wounded last night, but that did not stop his violent temper and loud voice, and in fact, someone had tried stopping him from getting up from the stretcher to join the fight.
Brendel frowned, "Where's your upbringing, Alea?"
"I only have manners for people with manners, who talks to dogs about manners," Alea replied with carelessness.
"This is not a dog, this is a wolf." Lolo corrected.
"It's all the same."
Brende did not bother with the two guys, he shook off the beads of blood on the black and heavy steel blade, and raised his head to look around - the forest looked like a black hole of illusion, with all the shadows of white beasts far and near.
And in the farther direction, the elegant stag was resting on a snow-white rock, as if waiting for them to move forward.
Since following it, they had been trekking through the snow for hours on end, and the Winter Wolves had been tracking them through the forest all night. Every one of them was cold and tired and their will was the only thing sustaining them.
Like the Aouines, the Kirrlutzians believed in good fortune are brought about by these rare and graceful creatures of the forest, and the stag did in fact lead them all night to find a path through the darkness as if blessed by the spirits.
However, the good times did not last long. By now it was dawning as the first rays of morning sun appeared in the eastern sky, and everyone could see a long white wall in the sky miles away - a glacial cliff spanning the forest canopy, its crystalline ice glistening under the morning sunlight.
The sight of the glacier set a weight on Brendel’s chest, making his heart thump.
Is there really a way ahead?
Freya gasped slightly, her bright light brown eyes were also full of doubt.
"Both of you ladies, I'm afraid there is no road ahead, what now?!" A knight of the Folded Sword Squad shouted.
"There may be a path, as the glacier can not be neverending; since the stag brought us here, it means there must be some way to get around it." Little Pero replied.
This sickly Cruz young man wrapped in a thick bearskin coat with a thin sword in one hand and a crossbow in the other, was not inferior to his companions in battle. Many Winter Wolves have fallen at his feet and each of their wounds was deadly.
Seeing the others shift their eyes to themselves, young Pero only slowly continued to answer, "Just find the natural edge of these broken glaciers-"
"Will there be?" Freya blurted out but covered her mouth right away, as such words that lack confidence really did not seem like something a commander should say.
"There will be," Little Pero replied with certainty, after just one look at Freya, "if it is indeed a naturally formed glacier."
"And if it's not?" Alea stepped up two steps to catch up from behind, just in time to hear the conversation.
The sickly young man swept him a glance and did not reply.
Alea opened his mouth. He was not afraid of the great noble family bornBrendel, not even in front of the eldest son of the royal family, but he could not hold up his head like a mouse in front of young Pero, and he did not know why either.
But this did not mean he would stop talking, he thought for a moment and complained, "If you ask me, we should not trust a stag, I really do not know what is going on in your heads."
"I'm sorry, it's my decision." Freya stepped forward and replied.
"I don't hold it against you, Commander. I'm just a little surprised that there are so many of us, how we all seem to be possessed, and no one raised an objection at that time." Alea replied. Although this female commander from Aouine was far less powerful than them, and her tactical level could only be described as average, but that did not mean they could disrespect her.
If it was not for investigating the cause of the deaths of Anika and the other women, she would not have even fallen into the trap and find herself in this situation.
At least she had the awareness and drive to be a commander, a feeling much like what they often felt when around Veronica.
"That's the peculiar thing about the whole matter."Brendel also came forward after repelling a wave of attacks from the Winter Wolves, "Alea, we Kirrlutzians and Aouines grew up listening to the legends of the stag, the stag among the Black Forest is the embodiment of goodness and Order like the unicorns, they once guided the Flame King, as well as Erik. Today it is here to guide us again. You didn't stand up against it because you agreed with it from your heart."
"That's nonsense." The rugged knight tightened his lips.
"Alea, it's understandable that you Inirs have never heard of the legend of the stag," Brendel laughed lightly, "but you have to admit there are things in this world that are mysteriously unexplainable."
It was then Freya noticed that Alea did seem to be part Inir, as evidenced by the light blonde curls that clung to his forehead, had a long nose, and also had a strong regional accent when he spoke; the knight looked like he was from Farnezain or further north.
But Alea jumped as if he had been pierced in the sole," Brendel, what do you mean by that?"
"Just as I meant in my words, if you were a little more confident, you wouldn't attack someone based on their origin and bloodline," Brendel replied unconcernedly.
"Hmph!" Alea grunted heavily as he stopped replying.
Regarding these two people's argument, Freya had long been accustomed to it since the start of the night, but even if they were allowed to argue, it would not help to solve the current problem.
The immediate thing that needed to be done was to first completely contain the wolf pack's attack.
"No matter what, we have to crush them first, then we can go around the glacier and continue to the north." Freya paused for a moment and said to the others, "If possible, rendezvous withBrendell and Lady Veronica."
"But it's too hard to get away from the wolves in the forest." Lolo frowned and shook his head.
"How will we know if we don't try?" Alea replied, full of concern.
"You don't know wolves, Alea, you don't know how cunning they are."
"That's natural, I'm not a mountain man, how would I know about these beasts." He stretched his hands as he said so ignorantly.
The dark-skinned mountain knight stared at the former without saying a word.
"Exactly," said the young girl from the Bucce countryside as she pulled off her cloak, "that's why we need to fight back. We can't lose them easily once we get involved with them, we have to take the initiative and smash them until they don't dare to chase us anymore."
Little Pero saw Freya tying her cloak to a spear and immediately understood what she was thinking, "That's too risky if you expose your position, maybe those silver monsters are ambushing just around us now, and they're obviously coming for you."
Freya hesitated, "There's no way to think about it more, we're all exhausted, and I don't want to be driven forward by the wolves like this and sit around until I'm too tired to walk."
She raised the flag in her hand, "I am the Commander, now I will direct the breakout, if I fall, you will take over my flag and pass the message of that monster to Brendel and Lady Veronica."
"You're only a trainee commander."
A slightly icy voice came from behind her, then Freya felt someone hold the spear in her hand. She was stunned when she turned around to see Maynild's expressionless face.
"Leave the flag to me." The black-haired female knight gently snatched the simple battle flag from her hands, "The order is yours to give."
"Cut the crap and give the order."
Freya took a deep breath as she looked back to the others, and both little Pero and Brendel nodded to her. Her gaze swept over the undulating forest and snowfield, with a plan in mind.
"Descendants of the Flame King, Knights of Kirrlutz, with the flag as the center, both flanks to the center."
The young girl's clear voice resounded through the forest, all the knights of the Folded Sword Squad turned around in consternation, a silver flag had been raised horizontally in the middle of the forest, which was clearly a cloak that danced in the morning wind.
The cloak also had the emblem of the White Lion embroidered on it.
"Knights, prepare to assault forward!"