At this time, almost half an hour had passed since she was found, and Brendel saw the newly awakened Peya look blankly at her surroundings, and there seemed to be a hint of confusion in her eyes. and the confusion in her dark eyes turned into intense vigilance.
Suddenly, like a beast, she rolled over and bounced off the ground, her hand subconsciously reaching for the short bow behind her back.
But she was bounded to grab nothing.
Then Peya came to her senses, and she saw Brendel, stunned: "Ah! Sorry, Lord Knight......I thought-"
But Peya's words suddenly stopped.
When Brendel saw the horrified look on her face, she turned around at once and looked into the surrounding forest, as if she had seen a ghost.
Peya suddenly took a few steps back, ignoring everyone around her as she retreated and observed the woods around her. She retreated faster and faster, and then she took off running, disappearing into the forest in a flash.
Everyone was stunned by Peya's action. Brendel was also startled before noticing that the hunter maiden had disappeared in the exact direction that led to the exit of Milos' Breath.
"Brendel?" Freya asked, "What's wrong with Peya, should we catch up with her?"
Everyone looked at each other, not knowing what was going on, and Brendel himself was confused. Peya's did not seem like a reckless person. On the contrary, she was an outstanding hunter.
Most outstanding hunters, however, had one trait in common.
Calmness and composure.
Brendel only hesitated a little and then said, "Let's follow her."
A faint starlight began to appear in the forest, indicating that they were leaving the range of the Eternal Night Forest. Under the dim light, Brendel saw the hunter maiden ahead like a sturdy female panther moving between the forest’ trees.
She did not go deeper into the forest blindly, it was more like she was finding a path, occasionally stopping to wait for them. This put Brendel's mind at ease, for there was nothing he hated more than someone leaving the team and putting others in danger, which was both selfish and stupid.
But it did not look like Peya had lost her mind, as Brendel saw her occasionally stopping and looking around, with a puzzled look on her face. This confirmed the suspicion in his mind that the hunter maiden must have discovered something in her dream. Sometimes dreams revealed the future, and the chances of this happening are slim to none, but it would not be impossible if Peya’s dream was entangled with her brother's.
Brendel realized that Peya might have seen the direction in which Duke Arreck and the others were headed in the dream.
This was the only possibility that could have made the young hunter maiden so disoriented. But it meant that her brother was not dead, at least not while passing through the forest.
In this way, the group moved forward for about two or three hours under the leadership of Peya, during which she never deviated from the direction leading to the glaciers. It further showed that Brendel's hunch was correct, and that if Arreck and the others had passed through here, they would not have easily left the correct route.
And it was at this time that Peya finally stopped.
Brendel parted the bushes with a rustling sound, and caught up with her from behind with everyone else. He saw Peya standing dumbly under a cedar tree. He walked closer and saw that Peya was holding a dagger.
The dagger could never have belonged to her, for her short sword was still pinned to her boots. Other that that, Peya would have been unarmed.
"Is this your brother's stuff?" Brendel took a look at the dagger, and saw that it was just an ordinary animal skin knife. Nobles would not use such a vulgar device, but only hunters in this area.
The hunter maiden turned back, and Brendel was surprised to see her red-eyed. Peia rubbed the corners of her eyes, took a calming breath and replied, "Could the dream be real, my lord?"
"I don't know, I was alone in a dream and I dreamt of what happened that day. I dreamt that I was dead, frozen in the river, but my soul was muddled, as if I heard a voice calling me."
"I saw those pale knights and I followed them dazedly. I saw my brother, and I saw those men from that day, as they moved slowly forward through this forest, and I saw my brother following them, behind a much taller figure ......"
"I saw him pass here and fall. I called out to him, but he didn't answer me, and I saw his dagger fall here ......"
Peya looked down at the dagger in her hand with some fear, "It's right here."
"What else did you see?" Brendel immediately realized that this should be her brother's dream, and that her brother should have experienced the dream of the Lost Names and left part of his memory here. But he was curious, her brother's dream was so badly damaged that it was incredible for him to pass through here. He could not help but ask further questions.
"I saw them go into an ice land with the snow and wind obscuring them, and I stayed there forever."
The hunter maiden looked up with an odd kind of panic in her eyes and she shivered, "Am I dead, Sir Knight?"
She looked at Brendel somewhat blankly, almost shivering, and asked, "...... Am I, am I now a ghost?"
Brendel felt the hunter maiden's question was a bit absurd, but he could probably understand Peya's panic. Not everyone knew about the mysterious legends like him, and most country people would attribute the incomprehensible to ghosts and spirits.
He coughed, "You are not dead. The dream was absurd, but part of what you saw may have been real. Your brother may have survived, just like what you saw, but that part is actually his memory of what he left here."
Peya trembled when she heard this, "Really?"
"Of course, you understand that I don't have to lie to you," Brendel replied.
Peya was so excited that she clenched her fists, her chest rose and fell obviously. She turned around and thought about it, then turned back and said to Brendel with some embarrassment, "I'm sorry, Sir Knight, I was a little too reckless before."
Brendel sighed, what else could he say? One can ask a soldier to obey military discipline, but Peya was certainly not a soldier, nor an adventurer, nor a mercenary, but a hunter. He still lectured: "Just remember in the future, what you did was very dangerous, not only for you, but also for others."
"Those knights behind you, some of them, like you, have brothers, sisters, or are parents, can you bear seeing their families lose them?”
"I'm sorry……” Peya hung her head low in shame this time. She knew that nobles had many rules, and that people of her status did not need to ask why. They just needed to obey. But Brendel's explanation made her embarrassed instead.
Although she was in awe of those high and mighty noblets, deep down she did not necessarily share their values. But Brendel's words made her realize that people were actually the same, and that the rules in a team were meant to protect everyone in it.
For the first time, Brendel accepted the hunter maiden's apology, not for who he was, but for such behavior.
"Can you determine the route of Duke Arreck and the others?" He asked again.
The hunter maiden was startled, then nodded.
"That's good." Brendel replied.
The Glacier of Despair-
Not a day had gone by without Aloz throwing a fit since entering this vast expanse of ice. She thought it would have been better to have gone with Brendel in the first place, instead of listening to him and going with that boring Ash Sword Saint to meet up with Veronica.
Of course, there were many things that made her dissatisfied. The cold climate, for example, was making her skin rougher and rougher, and her patience had been stretched to the limit by that chattering ambassador of the Kirrlutz army. How did this guy know that I am from Aouine, and how dare he speak to me with such an attitude!
If she had not wanted to reveal her identity, she would have swallowed him as a dragon, so that her ears would not be bombarded all day.
The same goes for the offspring of the arrogant Kirrlutzian nobles. Sometimes she secretly squinted at those obnoxious people with her golden eyes, thinking with hatred whether to rip them all apart after all this was over.
But this was merely a thought.
The Dragons were arrogant, but not stupid. The Holy Cathedral of Fire of the Kirrlutzians would not let the Dragons reign the human territory. Of course, the four Holy Cathedrals were not the main point, but instead, it was those annoying, self-righteous people from Buga.
Every time she thought of the Silver Folks’ existence in this world, Aloz could no't help but hate them full-heartedly. If it were not for the Bugas, those Craft Mages who always thought of themselves as saviors, the humans and Elves would have become toys of the Dragons.
"What a nuisance."
Aloz cursed in her heart, cursing the smiling old man to bang headfirst into a wall and for Onais and the other Floating Cities to fall into the sea as soon as possible. She twirled her platinum curls around her ears and walked out of her tent muttering.
She would not have bothered to show up if Brendel's party had not arrived, as it was so cold outside. The Silver Folks who were unkind to the Dragons called them big lizards, which of course was unacceptable to Aloz. But Dragons were indeed cold-blooded creatures, and there was no doubt that most other kinds of dragons, except for white Dragons, were uncomfortable in the cold weather.
Aloz sneezed in the snow and rubbed the tip of her little red nose, looking like a soft and weak loli. She did not look like a scary little female dragon at all.
If Aloz's curse was to come true, it would be enough to destroy all the Buga Craft Mages and their Floating Cities ten times over, including their bones. Even Brendel would have been implicated, for example, the little Dragon would have cursed Brendel to be barren more than twenty times.
Fortunately, Brendel knew nothing of these vicious curses at the moment, and he and Veronica agreed to meet in the valley near the Despair. Veronica and the Ash Sword Saint were both famous and powerful, and the Forest of Tears ahead was unlikely to stop them. Even if Aloz did not make an effort, a fifty-level quest could be easily dealt with by the Kirrlutzians.
In the meantime, Veronica was in the thick leather tent, looking at the map in her hand with one hand on her forehead, worrying when Brendel stepped into the Azure Skies’ camp. The map was actually provided by Duke Viero, who was convinced to hand it out by Eikkel. The Lantonilans made a move earlier and had arrived at Vallendaren. And even the princess who left after had also reached Manoweir.
But seriously speaking, Duke Lantonilan had no connection with the Holy Cathedral, especially the Kirrlutzians, but in fact, had many grudges against them. Therefore, the female army leader of Azure Skies understood very well that the young man named Eikkel probably helped them because of Brendel.
And when she thought of the young Aouine man she had seen at the Loop of Trade Winds, she could not help but smile slightly, then sighed. Of course, she had been aware of what had been happening in Ampere Seale all this time. She was a general of the Empire, of course, she understood what was beneficial to the Empire. She had known that the young man might become a formidable opponent for the Empire, but she had not expected this day to come so soon.
She raised her head and looked at Mephisto, who was not far away, his hands crossed and his eyes looking into the distance. The Ash Sword Saint was not fond of the Kirrlutzians, so he rarely went anywhere except to confer with Veronica.
The truth was that even if he was delighted to go, Veronica might not feel at ease, as he was a great demon to the Kirrlutzians.
"That good student of yours is here, aren't you going to do something?" She asked.
Mephisto looked at her without answering, as he had nothing to say to the Kirrlutzians. If Veronica had not promised to go to bat for him, he would probably be in a worse mood.
But there was inevitably some pride in the Ash Sword Saint's eyes when Veronica mentioned Brendel. This time Brendel had taught the Kirrlutzians a lesson in Ampere Seale, and even the Ash Sword Saint himself had never done such a thing.
The point was to use the Buga's relationship with the Silver Elves later, to force the Kirrlutzians to suffer a loss. What a perfect plan.
Mephisto could not be dissatisfied, but he would have been even more satisfied if he could make the Kirrlutzians lose more.
Veronica did not mind seeing him like this, as she was used to it. At this time, she heard footsteps coming from outside the tent. She raised her eyebrows, and her eyes trembled slightly.
She could tell that it was the sound of Brendel's group. But to her surprise, Brendel's footsteps were more steady than then.
There were rumors that Count Tremtheim had broken through the Elemental Barrier, but she had her doubts about that. Outsiders might not be familiar with this situation but she was pretty aware of it. He’s not even that old yet.
But at this moment Veronica looked up in amazement and murmured, "Aouine has since had another Elemental Activated Paladin, O Marsha, he’s so young!"
Hearing Veronica's exclamation, Mephisto's tightly pursed lips relaxed a bit. The world knew him as the Ash Sword Saint, and his fame was not only praised in the Kirrlutz Empire, but also among other parts of the world, where one man challenged the descendant of one of the Four Men with one sword. In such a large Empire, even if a mighty beast who made the humans shiver would look like nothing in front of him.
The Empire was not something that a mere mortal like him could compare with. It was often said that dynasties rose and fell, but instead, dynasties come and go, and the cycle is longer than the life of one man.
After his death, who would still remember the name of the Ash Sword Saint?
But now he had a student who was destined to achieve more than he did. A twenty-year-old Paladin with the Elemental Activation was no more than the Chosen One, and Brendel was definitely Marsha's favorites whose fate was predetermined from birth.
The young man from Bucce was a descendant of an insignificant Paladin, and his ancestral patronage had no effect on his life's trajectory. If there was an ancient noble in Aouine who plowed his own land with his own sword, it would be Brendel.
Then it must have been Brendel.
And so it was with the late king, Erik, and Gretel the Flame King, Gildor. Some names were destined to shine in history, and Mephisto knew that his student was one of them.
The Kirrlutzians may be above the fray now, but what about decades from now? History always gives room for heroes, and Brendel did not even realize it yet, but someone as knowledgeable as the Ash Sword Saint had already seen the cause and effect.
He was always arrogant, but he also had to admit that the best decision in his life was to choose Brendel as his student. Any teacher would be honored to have such a student.
The snow was howling outside the tent, and the canopy had been dark since the beginning of the Demonic Wave, which was a sign of turmoil in any era. Heroes were born, and even Mephisto himself could not help but marvel.
Brendel had already lifted the tent flap and walked in, followed by Freya, Scarlet, Medissa, and Ciel. He saw Mephisto first and nodded to the Ash Sword Saint in respect. He was already lord, but he was his nominal teacher after all, who had taught him a lot.
To the Grey Sword Saint, Brendel had only respect.
Only then did his gaze stopped at Veronica, and in fact, he had already noticed that the Azure Skies female commander already had her eyes on him.
"Lord I didn't expect to see you again so soon." Brendel smiled slightly and exchanged pleasantries.
"Hmph, you should have been taken back to the Empire along with Andersha in the first place, but I didn't expect you to find such trouble for me so quickly." Veronica glared at Brendel and snorted in a half-angry manner, "Little one, little do you about what you did have almost turned the Imperial Senate of Nobles around-”
Brendel knew, of course. But he took off his cloak and handed it to the knight-servant behind him. Then he raised his head, looked at the commander of Azure Skies with bright eyes, and replied, "Lord Veronica, you know that you will not gain anything by putting all the blame on me. I am not like the lame nobles of Aouine, and you are not like the arrogant nobles of Kirrlutz, so let’s not use the word "blame", okay?"
"And the Emperor didn't give me any reward for helping you catch Andersha," Brendel added.
Veronica could not help but look at him with a mixed feeling of amusement and anger, 'lame Aouine noble' was actually a proverb used by the Kirrlutzians to ridicule the Aouines, meaning that Aouine nobles were inferior to the Kirrlutzians, or even worse, a 'lame dog'.
In his opinion, the Aouine nobility of this era was itself a pejorative term, at least compared to the ancient nobles, who today are nothing more than wriggling parasites.
"You still want a reward, do you know who you have killed? That's Williams! You don't think he really became one of the seven deputy heads of the Paladins on his own merit, right? Do you not know that every imperial noble has at a large family background?" Veronica replied impatiently.
Brendel spread his hands: "I'm not going to the Empire anyway, so it's unlikely that they will come to Aouine to trouble me. As long as Raphazen or Duke Bilson don’t send their troops to the Aouine border, would I need to be afraid that they will find someone to assassinate me?"
"That's not impossible," Veronica snapped, but she was relieved that Brendel had mentioned Raphazen and Duke Bilson. She admired the young man and was afraid that he would kill Williams because he was young and reckless, but since he knew what kind of power was behind that guy, it meant he must have been prepared.
She took a closer look at Brendel and sighed, "Well, to put it so lightly, if that's the case, why did you come here to help me?"
When Veronica knew his intentions, Brendel did not feel embarrassed. After all, to become the head of the imperial army, she would naturally not be a simple-minded person. Furthermore, Veronica’s family did not have any connection with Duke Bilson. Big families that did not have connections with each other would for sure to have misunderstandings. Brendel thought that this was a win-win situation, and he needed Veronica to help him maintain a minimum reputation in the Empire, at least not to be branded as a heretic. Veronica also needed his help now, and in the future, Brendel believed that the connection between them would only get stronger.
He just had to wait until he developed the Black Forest.
But he did not intend to talk about these plans yet, so he just smiled and sincerely thanked Veronica, "Thank you."
Although Brendel maintained the arrogance of a soul from the modern era in his heart, he was actually aware that Veronica's status was actually unequal to his own. She was a woman who could almost be described as a Grand Duchess of the Empire, while he was still not entirely a Count in Aouine, because Count Trentheim was never a Count title.
He could well feel that the other party appreciated him and was happy to help him. Even though he knew that their positions might be fundamentally opposed, Brendel was determined to at least not embarrass the female commander too much in the future.
That did not seem too hard to do. Although the Kirrlutzians were arrogant, at least they were not a total disaster.
He paused and decided to bring the conversation back to the point and asked, "Back to business, we've just come out of the Black Forest and you've been waiting here for some time, haven't you, Lord?"
Speaking of which, Veronica suddenly sighed.
"Yeah, we ran into a bit of trouble, Brendel."