Chapter 53 – The line between life and death
“Ser Esebar, take a look at this.” The leader of the mercenaries handed the brass telescope over to the noble after using it.
The Golden Apple Lord sat steadily on an Arreck horse.
Aouine’s cavalry troops once used them as the main choice as war horses, but they eventually switched to the double-footed flying dragons. Despite the change, the nobles still used rode the horses to represent their status.
Esebar received the telescope and looked into the distance with it, then passed to his ally, the businessman Burnley with an impassive face.
The Golden Apple Lord was not too anxious. Even if Earl Dunn died on their territory, the only thing that would get affected was merely their reputation. The nobles in this area prized actual power over reputation, and if the king sought someone to blame, it was naturally the bastard Luc Beson who was at fault, not the gentlemen here.
In fact, he wanted the Earl to get into an accident, but he did not dare to do anything that was too obvious. Right now, he merely gathered his private army and prepared to attack the keep.
But he needed to capture the person who invaded the fortress. If White-Mane army captured the invader instead, and if they doctored the military records, the responsibility would fall onto him.
Burnley took the telescope with a smile, looked through it and said: “There are people on the tower’s peak.”
“Makavu, get some archers over. Their status must be at least a white rank because the opponent is a Iron-ranked swordsman.” The Golden Apple Lord pointed at the top of the tower as he instructed the leader of the mercenaries.
“Understood, Ser Esebar. Just wait and see. Regardless of whether he’s a Iron-ranked swordsman or a Highland Knight, we will definitely turn him into a body filled with arrows.” The mercenary leader answered and left immediately.
The nobles’ private armies split into two lines, allowing their leader to ride run over. Not far away the riders rode on their horses over from the river noisily, and the scenery was filled with chaotuc dancing light.
The Golden Apple Lord narrowed his eyes: “These riders are really crass.”
“If they appeared here, does that mean that Earl Dunn is—” Burnley gestured with his hand across his neck with a beaming face.
“Hmph. A second generation from the Les Brulais family. The king favors him because of his lips. Thanks to that, he thinks nothing of the other ministers and everyone hates him because of his arrogance. Dying in the streets is a very normal thing for him.” The Golden Apple Lord snorted from his nose.
“This man is a reputed archaeologist who can identify items. The king looks favorably on him because of this.” Burnley corrected his partner’s mistake.
“He’s nothing more than a fool.”
A scout reported in while the two men discussed. The rider came to them with a weary war horse and he spoke: “My lord, the White-Mane army is here.”
“Oh? How many?” The Golden Apple Lord asked.
“Twenty of them. They appear to be the vanguard.”
“Block them outside.” He pointed with his horse whip and ordered the scout.
As soon as the rider left, another came up to him and reported: “My lord, the archers are ready.”
The Golden Apple Lord nodded: “That should be enough. Get Granzon to break the fortress as soon as possible. I suspected they had the ability to fly a long time ago. Looks like my guess isn’t wrong, and this time we will definitely get them.”
“That is a Highland knight. How are you going to take care of it?” Burnley asked.
“This is originally a difficult thing, but since they killed that idiot so openly, even if he is a member of the White Knights on active duty, no one can save him.”
The Golden Apple Lord watched as a black figure landed on the tower’s peak, which then carried the two and flew over the soldiers’ heads. He looked at his soldiers and saw them readying their bows. With a whistle, the order was given and hundreds of arrows fired at the same time—
“Ahhhh, my lord! They have archers!” Ciel shook to his left and right as he yelled in fright.
“Cut the crap, I can see them with my own eyes!” Brendel answered gloomily. He struck down an arrow with his sword, and the force that transmitted over from it numbed his fingers slightly. His heart sank as he realized the opponents had Iron-ranked archers. The arrows flew at them from all angles and struck the gargoyle’s wings, and if they continued to go near them, he would have no way to handle the arrows.
“Fly to the ground.” He commanded with a low growl.
“Fly down?” Ciel’s eyes were wide open as he thought that his lord had become insane.
[We’re going to die!!!]
“We can’t fly back over and we can’t go back. We are completely surrounded by his men. If that is the case, we should fight our way out, perhaps we have a chance at surviving.” Brendel said calmly and stared at the immense crowd on the ground.
“My lord, you gamble too much.”
“Believing in your strength is called bravery, placing your fate on luck is called reckless. There is a fine line between these two things, and the key is to know how to walk on it. This is one of my motto in the game, remember this well.” Brendel replied as he looked at his squire.
“Didn’t I tell you this before? Life is like a game, a game is like life.” Brendel suddenly laughed as the weight lifted from his chest, and felt never more awake in his life.
The gargoyle flew lower while the whistling air passed by the two men. They were almost able to see the archers clearly by now. Another whistle resounded in the air, and another volley of arrows came at them. Brendel desperately tried to block them all, but an arrow slipped by and drew blood from his side.
The gargoyle turned a full circle and drew most of the firepower away. It boasted one of the highest defence as a level twenty creature, and even a fully charged strike from Brendel’s ring did not manage to bring it down completely. These arrows did not damage it in the slightest.
Unfortunately, the agility in the air was nothing special, otherwise Brendel could order it to use various aerial maneuvers to bring them out of the siege. He thought for a while before taking a ruby out from his pouch. He had taken it from the Dunn’s corpse.
“Is your mana at full capacity?”
“Then conjure a bow for me.”
“Bow?” Ciel was momentarily stunned as he took the ruby. “My lord, I suggest to conjure a shield rather than a bow.”
“Offense is the best defense.”
“Then leave it to me-” The wizard apprentice nodded and raised the ruby. “Projection ability, conjure a bow with an equivalent exchange!” Countless light beams poured from the ruby and curved around it, then formed into a longbow.
The longbow had no physical body, and was merely formed with leylines of magic. The string and the two corners of bow were written with complicated sigils and represented the laws of magic. The conceptual body of the bow was a principle of magic, and it was paid by converting the energy in precious gems. It did not require an arrow to fire a projectile.
“My willpower can only allow this bow to fire four times.” Ciel said as he handed the bow over to Brendel.
“Let’s try it out.”
The third volley of arrows came again—
“What is this monster?” The Golden Apple Lord pointed at the dark creature with immense wings. Burnley’s eyes glinted, but he did not reply.
“That is a gargoyle, my lord. It is a masterpiece of Buga’s smiths, a type of war puppet.”
It was a mercenary who replied politely.
“That is a gargoyle?” The Golden Apple Lord’s expression changed. He drew in a deep breath. He had heard of Karsuk’s highland wizards were a connection left behind by Buga’s archmagi, and it appeared that the rumors were somewhat valid. His heart started calculating. It was still fine to offend a highland knight, but Buga’s archmagi were something else entirely.
“Ser Esebar, we have no choice.” Burnley’s eyes changed a little and tried to persuade him.
The Golden Apple Lord suddenly turned back and looked at him, and Burnley suddenly realized that he overdid things. The fat businessman laughed and shook his head. “But it is true that Buga’s wizards are not people to be trifled with-”
The Golden Apple Lord raised his head and felt uneasy.
Brendel and Ciel landed on the ground without suffering any additional injuries. Another volley of arrows came again, and Brendel cut them down with his sword. As soon as the raining arrows ended, he sheathed the sword and brought the bow up as he jumped onto the gargoyle’s back and they flew towards the archers.
Makavu was in the midst of the archers. He almost could not believe his eyes when he saw Brendel flying up from the ground area, but his experience in the myriad battles in his history brought about a sense of danger when he realized there was a gargoyle.
He immediately shouted to his vice captain: “It’s close enough, have the archers fire at will!”
The soldiers understood the meaning, and the riders from the sides prepared to surround the area.
The soldiers fired again—
Brendel took in another deep breath. There was no need for any bow techniques with the conjured bow, but he had trouble balancing himself on the flying creature. He aimed for a few seconds, then lightly released the bowstring. A white beam of light shot into the throng of soldiers five meters away from Makavu, shattering the rocks nearby into pebbles.
“Oh.” Ciel sighed as he watched.
Brendel did not panic and became even steady. He pulled the bow again and this arrow pierced two archers behind Makavu and the arrow exploded in the vicinity, hurting the soldiers around the area of impact.
He pulled the bow again. Makavu was already retreating in a hurry as he mistook Brendel for a wizard.
This arrow brought the vice-captain down from his horse. Brendel was becoming more accurate.
[This is the last arrow. They are about to counter attack!]
Brendel’s eyes followed Makavu with a grimace as he wormed into the crowd. He hesitated before unleashing the arrow into the archers, causing the arrow to explode. Due to the tightly packed area, four of them died, and the archers retreated.
Because of the chaos, there was an opening as they fled in different directions.
The gargoyle turned around and grabbed Ciel. This had given Brendel a little time and he felt that his judgment was correct. He then ordered the gargoyle to fly past them. Just when he thought everything was fine, a lasso came from the crowd and accurately looped around one of the Gargoyle’s wings.
Brendel was shocked and he turned his head around to spot the mercenary leader, Makavu.
Because of the unexpected turn of events, the gargoyle flew unsteadily in an arch, then descended nearby into the river. Makavu cried out in delight and released the rope. He did not care about his bloody palms and yelled out: “Now! Capture them!”
The situation suddenly changed.