36. Chapter 36
Johanna, a knight of the Craist Kingdom, was frustrated by the futile negotiation that had been going on since a long time ago.
“My army will be the vangu――”
“No, the mission to recapture the territory is for us, Ferrius army. Please let us lead the attack this time.”
“Given the firepower, Craist who has the “Three Heroes” would be appropriate to be the lead.”
It had been a long time since the moon rose in the sky. A magic stone lamp was hung in the room, which was enough to illuminate the map in the center of the room.
Before the big attack tomorrow, the army to take on the last layer was about to be decided, but it wasn’t that easy. It was understandable to Johanna that each country was obsessed with the most prosperous moment. It wasn’t just for individuals, but for the future of the country. Which country contributed the most to the defeat of the Highserk Empire would have a considerable impact on the influence they would have in Four-Power Alliance. Therefore, no country knew when to give up. The only exception was the Principality of Myard, which lost its remarkable land and power.
In the war council attended by the general, commander, and the deputy of each country, Myard was only attended by Rita Myard, the leader of the country, and the composition was such that the power relations of each country could be understood even if they disliked it. Johanna thought that following the flow of the meeting, it would be likely to be ended with either the Liberitoa Trade Federation or the Ferrius Kingdom, becoming the vanguard.
The Craist Kingdom had the achievement of defeating the Liguria battalion, one of the most elite battalions of the Highserk Empire, by capturing the 3rd layer which was guarded by that said battalion. Furthermore, even when the 6th layer, which was the core of the 13 layers, was conquered, the magic of “Three Heroes” was prominent, and for now, the Craist Kingdom was by far in the lead.
Johanna had been informed in advance that the strategist of Craist Kingdom was persistently negotiating to make it as if the Craist Kingdom giving the position of the vanguard as a favor. The war council to decide a vanguard, frankly, Johanna thought it just wasting her time since the three didn’t want to give up that easily.
Johanna wanted to hit at least once against the commander of the Order of Reharzen who passed on the meeting.
“Better yet, why don’t you decide with a lottery?”
“Are you joking, Johanna-dono?”
“That’s right. Please refrain from such irresponsible remarks.”
The representatives of each country who didn’t overlook the words that Johanna had leaked due to the lack of progress, were pursuing rants one after another.
“I’m sorry. It was a careless remark.”
Seeing Johanna apologize, the discussion returned to its original agenda. The only one who showed sympathy for Johanna was Rita Myard, who participated in the futile war council.
Johanna thought that rather than wasting time here, she would have preferred to train Yuuto and Makoto, or to cultivate her spirit and strength in preparation for tomorrow. It was the hustle and bustle of the outside and the roaring atmosphere that broke the debate.
“What is it!?”
“Is this, magic?”
The civilian, who had little experience in combat, couldn’t swallow the situation, but Johanna was determined by the sound of the battle, that it was some sort of magic attack. In the room, military attachés and escorts felt that the battle was taking place outside, just like Johanna.
“Maybe a sabotage by the enemy?”
Some nodded when the Brigade Commander of the Liberitoa Trade Federation army said so.
“It’s possible that there was an assassination aimed at a VIP, using the attack as a diversion.”
“The security is tight. It seems better to wait for information here.”
Johanna also disagreed with evacuating blindly, but she felt a chill run down her spine. She couldn’t help to think that she had ever experienced the drifting mana.
Far from subsiding, the turmoil was spreading. Johanna grasped that the distance was getting nearer.
“It looks like it’s not just a sabotage.”
“What do yo――”
One of the civilians of the Ferrius Kingdon wanted to ask for an explanation in Johanna’s words. Johanna tried to reply, but it didn’t happen because a soldier jumped into the room.
“Enemy attack!! The dead from the third layer!!”
It was a Liberitoa soldier who kept the guard of the 6th layer.
“Calm down. Is it undead? How many?”
Asked by the Brigade Commander of Liberitoa army, who was participating in the war council on behalf of Hugo, Foreign Minister of the Liberitoa Trade Federation.
“I-it’s just one man. The user of 《Demon Fire》 that should have been killed crosses the camp of the Craist Kingdom and goes straight to the command post in the 6th layer.”
Johanna shouted. Johanna was the closest to confirming that magic had poured into the man at a density that wasn’t enough to be described as a mere “thick”. The earth was scooped out, and the dust soared as tall as a dragon. Even if the man became an undead, it would be unlikely that the body remained due to the torrent of destruction.
“I’ll crush “it” alone. Where is it now!!?”
The wind blew and the map was blown away in the room where the wind shouldn’t blow. Sweat gushed from the whole body. Johanna kicked the desk, pushed the strategist into the shadows, and covered him with a cloak. When the flame entered the room, it instantly covered the room. Those who were late or in a bad position screamed briefly and rolled onto the ground.
Johanna hit the void with 《Strike》 and blew away the approaching blue flame. Only seven people were left standing indoors when the blue flames subsided. Johanna, Rita Myard and her escort, the Brigade Commander of the Liberitoa Trade Federation army and 2 Liberitoa soldiers, and a strategist under Johanna’s protection. Ferrius kingdom’s representatives were in a bad place and everyone was burned to death. The rest were swallowed by the blast and rolling around on the ground, wrapped in fire.
Johanna tried to help extinguish the fire, but was interrupted by a halberd extending from the entrance skewered one of the Liberitoa soldiers.
When the fire erupted from the inside from the wound, black smoke and blue flames erupted from the throat. The user of 《Demon Fire》 blew out flames from the inside.
The Brigade Commander flashed the longsword hanging on his waist, but with the halberd covered in mana, his sword was cut all together with his body. The last Liberitoa soldier had his belly cut with the halberd and burn his from the inside before he could even pull out the longsword, resulting in him dying after a severe convulsion.
Johanna, who had heard that the user of 《Demon Fire》 was a long-distance soldier, noticed that her perception was significantly wrong.
To be clear, Johanna now had only the minimum equipment. When Johanna asked herself how long had, the user of 《Demon Fire》 certainly pointed to Johanna with his twisted left fingers. He died through the mask and felt a strong murder. His broken fingers were squeaked, a blue flame was blown from his whole body, and an enemy who had become an incarnation of fire itself, attacked Johanna. 《Strike》 collided with each other, and Johanna’s hand was severely numb.
The magical barrier was scraped off just by standing. All the left fingers of the user of 《Demon Fire》 holding the halberd were crushed. Nevertheless, Johanna was being pushed by the pressure. They played with each other’s blades from a close distance, but when she took distance, the blue flames clung to her. The ice wall that Johanna unfolded momentarily sprinkled hot steam and scattered the flames.
Through the mask, his eyes could be seen, Johanna noticed that the user of 《Demon Fire》 hadn’t lost his intellect and was in a mad state. He was a far more dangerous opponent than when he was operating in a battalion. It was as if the restrictions had been unleashed because there were no friendly forces within range. Johanna was spinning the gears in her head. She remembered that the Liguria battalion had been destroyed in the 3rd layer. In short, the man in front of her didn’t have any friends to keep him in control. So, perhaps the madness of the man came from the desire for vengeance, was what Johanna concluded.
“Useless resistance! The Liguria battalion has been destroyed!!”
The reply was given in a form of fire. At the moment when the 《Demon Fire》 swelled again, Johanna was ready, but was stopped by the blade that suddenly slipped from the side.
It was a sharp blow that had been cultivated for years by an old knight of the Principality of Myard.
Rita Myard, who was participating in the war council, couldn’t keep up with the battle in front of her. She had gained many experiences on the defensive battle at Aidenberg and on the escape to the floating city at Lake Celta. But all of that wouldn’t be a help to her at all here. More than 20 people participated in the war council. But now, only a few remained.
“Rita-sama!! Please stay back!!”
A longsword that entered through a gap in the armor caused bleeding from the abdomen of the user of《Demon Fire》. It was a nice interference of Rita’s escort, Lutwidge.
“I know it’s a shameful action. I have no excuses.”
The user of《Demon Fire》attacked Lutwidge with 《Strike》 and 《Demon Fire》, but Johanna, the knight belonged to the Order of Reharzen, wrapped around in the blind spot, not allowing a poor execution. Still, the user of《Demon Fire》 didn’t falter. The man dealt the front with 《Strike》, and the sides and blind spots were filled with a blue flame. Rita could only step back to the wall so as not to get caught.
Rita cursed her own powerlessness. But the truth, it wasn’t her first time hating herself.
Then, momentarily, Rita eyes met with the eyes of the 《Demon Fire》 user. The intense breathing and heat were approaching Rita. The user of 《Demon Fire》 tried to change the direction of his halberd momentarily, but Lutwidge forced the man to point its blade at himself.
“I should have, killed you”
Just that short conversation was enough to make Rita remember, “that conversation” and the taste of food she had during her run as a fugitive, as that memory was clearly engraved in her mind. The good-looking smile was lost, and the eyes were burning with a flame of anger and hatred.
Rita bit her cheeks, thinking the benefactor who was the invader, but also good rooted man became so crazy, because of war and also her, as one of the leaders of Four-Countries Alliance. For the people? For the sake of the country? It was just such a weak determination to hid her vulnerable self. She felt disgusted with herself who hung the good hope of the man who spared her life in the same balance with how that action affected the man’s future.
The two knights took a defensive posture due to the inflated mana. The 《Demon Fire》 was blasted in the room, but its user was no longer in the room by the moment it got subsided.
“Rita-sama, are you injured?”
“I’m okay. More than that, he…”
“Yes, at the Aidenberg… but now you should forget it.”
Rita understood that she must not get upset in front of people from other countries. Silently exhaling and calming down, Rita called on the Craist’s strategist, who had fallen into the wreckage of the table.
“Are you okay?”
Craist’s strategist got up from the wreckage of the table, glanced at the room, and replied to Rita.
“Well, I can move on my own. Apparently, it’s just us now. It’s a big difference from just listening. We underestimated “that”. The danger of “that” alone is even higher than the “three heroes”.”
“Yeah… let’s join the other soldiers for the time being. We should look for Gran-sama. The surroundings are still dangerous. Myard-dono, let’s evacuate from here.”
“Thank you very much.”
Rita agreed with the proposal of the knight of the Order of Reharzen. She couldn’t be stubborn and took unnecessary risks. The camp was attacked, followed by the command post, and next would be―― somewhere that Rita couldn’t figure out.
TN: Now, you should have realized who Rita is…
TN: Join my discord channel if you want.