55. Chapter 55
The wind magic that dwelt in the form of a blade was unleashed, and the monsters that rushed under his eyes spurted blood like a flower in bloom.
Al was an adventurer who had risen in rank by doing subjugation and escort missions, unlike the adventurers who specialized in Labyrinths, who could have a lot of combat experience and good items. He had only fought a number of battles with monsters, maybe 100 times.
That said, how many people could surpass that number? Certainly, not many.
Al had already shot dozens of wind magic. Amy, who was in love with him, continued to shoot monsters with 《Strong Shoot》. [TN: it’s different from the skill 《Hard Shoot》]
Fleck, who had no ranged attack method of his own, also tried his best at stone-throwing.
The earth and sand produced by the construction of the empty moat were accumulated in the ramparts and refined by magic users with earth attributes into a lump of soil with a hardness comparable to that of stone.
There was an effect. It should have been. But, the wave of monsters didn’t shake. It was like throwing pebbles into the ocean.
A resident of the village where Al lived had fled to the castle. He couldn’t let the monsters break through the walls, even if he had to force himself to do it. At such a busy thought, he suddenly remembered his former party members.
A Four-Country Alliance was conducting a rebellious operation against the Highserk Empire. At first, it was just a rumor, but they actually began to collect adventurers at exorbitant prices.
The content of the operation was kept secret until the last minute, but the more one thought about it, the more suspicious and dangerous the request sounded, given the extraordinary reward.
Amy and Fleck’s injuries hadn’t yet fully healed, and Al himself was no exception. The Principality of Myard also suffered a devastating defeat in the battle near the capital, Aidenberg, and was annexed except for the area around Lake Celta.
After the defeat of the Principality, Al fell into a sense of loss and helplessness, and with members still in the process of healing their injuries, he decided to not accept the request.
Al must have been distracted at that time. He was unaware that two members of his party had left the hideout. Given the timing, they must have accepted the request. After all, Leethia was interested in the request of the Alliance.
Al noticed a dark emotion in Leethia’s eyes after the party members had been badly injured in the guerrilla battle with the Highserk soldiers.
Certainly, Al did his best to take care of them. And considering the fact that she went with Lefty, he thought that she wouldn’t take any unreasonable actions. He realized that he had made a mistake as a leader, so he just wished that they were safe, but then there was a big outburst shortly after.
The cause was unknown, and there was no good information, but given the timing and the request of adventurers, there was no doubt that the Alliance had to be the cause.
Al wanted to get information about the safety of both, but he couldn’t have spare capacity in his head.
Especially at this moment, when Al was about to run out of mana but the wave of monsters didn’t seem to end.
“Who could stop this kind of thing…”
At that moment, Al couldn’t believe his eyes at the unusual sight. There was someone at the edge of the ramparts.
“What are you doing!?”
A Highserk soldier looked like he was about to throw himself off the wall. It was unclear whether he was pushed down or not, but one thing was certain, the monsters that filled the ground were trying to greet the human.
Al had seen soldiers fall from the ramparts, finely minced by the monsters, and he didn’t want to see that again.
Al, who could use wind magic, might be able to run to the soldier, but it was impossible to save the soldier while defeating the monsters and return safely to the ramparts.
Al looked at the soldier carefully, trying to keep an eye on his end.
One of the eyes that could be seen through the mask was muddy. One such eye stared at Al for a moment, sending a shiver down his spine.
The muddy eye belonged to the person who had ever brought a cold sweat to Al.
Visible mana poured from the soldier’s body, along with unbearable heat and fierce wind.
“Oooo, it’s the 《Fire of Hell Gate》!!”
“Captain Walm wants to invite them to hell.”
Al had also heard rumors about the user of 《Demon Fire》. A Highserk soldier had burned Winston Ferrius and his guards to the ground at the Battle of Aidenberg, overran the enemy chain of command and single-handedly smashed the defensive layers at the Battle of Sarajevo Fortress, and captured one of the Craist’s “Three Heroes.”
The monsters reached for the soldier, but they all screamed at once and some of the monsters behind them tried to get away. The monsters raged in madness, trying to escape the blue flame.
“To think it’ll be to this extent…”
Al felt the heat, even though he put on a magical barrier and his lips and eyes were dry. What would happen if a human with little mana were caught in close proximity to the blue flame? As he imagined it, he gulped.
From an ally’s point of view, nothing was more reliable than the soldier named Walm. However, anyone who was hostile would be invited to hell.
Remembering the exchange outside the castle gate, Al gulped. He realized that he had been lucky. If Walm had intended to kill him and his group, he wouldn’t be here now.
At the same time, Al was truly grateful that Walm hadn’t awakened to 《Demon Fire》 when they fought against each other.
The blue flame burned the monsters until they became charred corpses. The soldiers, including Al, were fascinated by the scene as if they were possessed.
Three days after the monsters reached Dandurg Castle, the army of the Highserk Empire, which had been trying to defeat all the monsters, started to see a problem making its appearance.
Apart from the invasion of monsters that could fly and monsters with excellent jumping power, neither the castle gate nor the walls had been overcome, and no monsters ranked high in the A class, such as the dreaded Crawler, had been confirmed in sight.
Nevertheless, the fatigue of the Highserk soldiers, who continued to fight in shifts, had reached its peak. After all, the number of monsters charging at them day and night outside the castle wasn’t diminishing. Despite well over 30,000 monsters, they had been defeated.
Even Walm, who had consumed his mana for 《Demon Fire》 and had only been resting for 3 hours, after another hour or two, would have to use the skill again.
The soldiers, who were packed into the barracks during the break, slept as if they were dead. Walm also covered his ears with a cloak and fell asleep until recently. Inside the castle wafted the foul smell of monsters that had begun to rot around. In the room with blood and sweat, the smell was already out of order, and now it was getting worse.
Fortunately, there were some solutions to the corpses out there. Living monsters ate dead monsters. No need to worry about them targeting army provisions.
Walm still had some time to rest, but just when he finally got comfortable and felt sleepy again, a soldier stopped in front of him.
No way, there shouldn’t be a devil who wakes up a soldier, who only has a little time for sleep, to chat, or to have a meal…
Walm lightly confirmed what would soon come.
“I’m sorry for disturbing your break. The Brigade Commander is calling you for urgent news.”
The man was a messenger. Walm made a judgment with a dull brain, thinking that it must be an important matter.
“Understand. I will go immediately.”
After dressing lightly, Walm followed the messenger and entered a room in the HQ.
“I’m sorry for being late.”
“Finally, you’re here.”
Brigade Commander Sigismund welcomed Walm.
“How about the frontline?”
Walm reported on the status quo without hiding it.
“We have succeeded in repelling the monsters that come rushing in day and night, but the fatigue of the soldiers is about to reach its peak. The number of arrows and throwable objects is going low, and now the firepower of the magic users is the lifeline.”
The attack of magic users with fire and wind attributes, who had good firepower, was the core of defense against the onrushing monsters. That said, those with Earth and Water attributes were forced to use up their mana until it dried up, in terms of the level of abuse.
Those with earth attributes, who could knead the soil as hard as stone, worked to create throwing objects, which they sometimes used for <Earth Bullet>, to attack.
Those with water attributes not only supported the attacking team with offensive magic, but also by making drinking water for the villagers. They were an indispensable existence.
“How long do you think we’ll last?”
As the number of monsters increased, so did the soldiers’ fatigue, but the monsters’ methods of attack became more and more complex. Day by day, many volunteers were added, but the current situation wasn’t good.
“…I think we can maintain the status quo for a few more days. Some of them seem to start using their wisdom such as, digging up the ground and even preparing logs for battering rams to break the walls.”
Walm was prepared to be criticized for being pessimistic, but unexpectedly, his opinion was well received.
“That’s a good deduction. In a few days, hand-to-hand combat will begin and exhaustion will jump in magnitude.”
“For now, we’re still in contact with the capital. And it’s been decided that we’ll abandon Dandurg Castle while we still have spare energy, and stall them here as long as we can. The place for withdrawal has been decided, and we are already secretly preparing to withdraw our important troops.”
Walm, unable to wipe away his unpleasant premonition, cautiously asked a question.
“Secretly… Is it to avoid confusion?”
“Yes, to avoid confusion. We’ll start retreating at once in the early morning of the day after tomorrow. When the soldiers in the ramparts consist of more volunteers and prisoners.”
Walm had expected a retreat, sooner or later. He believed it was still in the planning stages. So, the request to withdraw all at once the day after tomorrow came as a complete surprise to him.
“The retreat will be on the day after tomorrow!? What about the Myard people in the cas――”
“Unfortunately, those who are not in time for the move have no choice but to stay in the fort and wait until the wave stops.”
“Wait until the wave stops…? I’m sorry for being rude, but isn’t that the same as sending them to their deaths? There are only a limited number of them who can go through the castle gate where access is limited. And what about the Highserk soldiers left――”
The gate is already limited, and with an excessive number of refugees in the castle, not all of them can retreat.
Walm’s opinion ended without being told to the end.
“You are not the only one who disagrees and complains, but do you think you can prevent those monsters? You can’t protect everyone even if you fight to exhaustion. It’s just a matter of time before complete annihilation.”
As a soldier, Walm could understand what the Brigade Commander was saying. In short, they would set attractive bait to attract enemies, scrape off their forces, and buy time with the disposable pawns.
What Walm had trouble admitting was that the bait would be the majority of Myard people. This was different from the rescue that Myard people envisioned. The only consideration was for those who could follow, those who deserved to be saved.
“Escort Captain, I’ve heard from His Excellency Gerard that you are a soldier who is faithful to the command. This, is the command.”
It was fake salvation. The peculiarity of the great outbreak was that it affected a densely populated area, and when the Highserk soldiers, who were said to have great power, gathered at Dandurg Castle, the people who were running for their lives would come here to seek asylum.
Then the monster would be invited to the strong place that held the refugees. It wasn’t difficult to imagine what would happen to the people in the castle if those at the top of command withdrew all at once.
Hearing the words of the Brigade Commander, Walm thought of the old general who was called the War God and whose smile looked good at first glance. If even one more person of his country could be saved, he would sacrifice many of those he considered superfluous. He was an old man with a strong sense of patriotism who would gladly throw people from other countries into a big pot of boiling water.
“Of course, I don’t have to say more, right? If it’s you who are loyal to military affairs, you will surely comply. I said that, just in case.”
The Brigade Commander smiled, but his eyes were colored darker than they should be, and on the back of his eyes, he wasn’t laughing.
As expected of the companion of His Excellency.
It would be easy to accuse him of being inhuman and calling him a heretic. But in the eyes of the Brigade Commander, one could see the unwavering color of faith and determination, full of emotion like a human being. He literally wanted to successfully defend his homeland, even if he had to sacrifice other people to do so.
No matter what Walm might say, nothing would change. He couldn’t change it.
“I want you to help maintain the communication line. If all goes well, you’ll be able to save “some”.”
The Brigade Commander whispered, as if he had spotted a hesitation in Walm.
You think I can refuse?
I’m nothing more than a soldier, a citizen of the Highserk Empire.
You think I’m okay with dragging my homeland to ruin just because I’m worried about other countries’ people?
Poetically and literally, it was like he was being asked, “What do you wish for with such a muddy eye?”
In any case, Walm could only grit his teeth and answer,
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