TL: It’s okay to post comments to demand the next chapter if it takes too long, sometimes I forget to check if the chapters release hourly.
Chapter 154 – The Sword Saint of Ashes
[Is it too risky to seal the exit with just Halran Gaia’s magic? Is it impossible after all?]
Brendel initially thought of raising a barricade that was too high for the Winter Wolves to jump over. But the magic would only last for a minute before it disappeared. The short time limit and the mostly unhindered woodlands after the Blockade of Wolves made it impossible to escape from the Winter Wolves. The youth’s assessment eventually matched Wydall’s judgment.
“…… Let’s go.” The tone in his voice was decisive and loud, reaching everyone’s ears. The Tree Elves were already ahead and merely waiting for his words.
[They planned this from the very start. If there was ever a moment where we needed to leave men behind, the Centaurs would stay behind. If a situation like this happens again, then it would be the Tree Elves’ turn—]
The Winter Wolves that suffered considerable losses paced in front of the Blockade of Wolves. They were regrouping and more joined their numbers rapidly. Finally, they rushed together at the Centaurs mercilessly, drowning them with numbers.
Amandina and Kodan looked back several times as they followed Brendel’s swift footsteps. Aouine’s nobles followed slowly from behind while their knights shuffled uneasily beside them, feeling stifled.
But Austin did not move.
There was once when Aouine had pursued such a faith.
The aging general gripped the sword in his hand tightly.
He turned around and looked at the remaining nobles. Dolant was still alive. Was he favored by the Gods, or was his luck that good?
“Count Dolant! I leave the ambassadors under your charge!” He yelled.
“…… Me?” The plump man was stunned: “What are you trying to do, Austin!”
Austin returned his gaze to the Centaurs. There was an emotion burning in his eyes and he had never felt it in his whole life. He raised the gleaming sword that was only presented to a general and his voice was filled with clarity:
“Knights of Aouine!”
“Today! Today you see your allies fighting alone! Do you leave them to die on the battlefield?”
The knights suddenly stopped. They turned around and stared at their commander.
“The Lions’ flag is flying against the wind. The beliefs in our past have never been extinguished. We will not let our allies be alone. Therefore swordbearers of Aouine, follow me—”
Austin cast a glance a final look at the knights with his head raised high.
“On the oaths sworn upon our swords!” The knights answered one by one, and the knights wearing green robes charged towards the Winter Wolves once again.
Dolant’s jaws could not help but drop, and he stared wordlessly at the scene before him, but he was unable to stop Austin with a single word. More than half of the nobles ran past him, joining the knights.
It was not only him, even Brendel turned around with shock. The beliefs of Aouine still existed. Even if the kingdom had fallen to greed and corruption, they were still shining in brilliance in the dark. He could not help but tear up.
This was why countless gamers loved this kingdom.
[We are not strong, but we love the kingdom for what it stands for—]
Many gamers agreed with this statement in the forums.
The name of the Kingdom, Aouine, was the definition of ‘belief in a miracle’. King Erik had named this land in the glorious past. If there was no belief in miracles, then there was no meaning to build this kingdom.
But he could not participate in this battle. These men were sacrificing themselves so he could complete this mission. He raised his greatsword and said:
“Ropar, guard our rear.”
The Fireclaw Lizardmen withdrew his gaze from the humans and Centaurs. He bowed deeply to Brendel and spoke for the first time:
“The true meaning of a battle is to prove a warrior’s honor. The reason for a battle holds great meaning to the Fireclaw Clan. And the pursuit of one’s beliefs is considered to be an honor above all.”
Ropar raised his head: “I thank you for giving us this chance to fight alongside this group of warriors. The Fireclaw Clan will not let you down.”
The Lizardman finished his words and pointed at the battlefield, and the Fireclaw Lizardmen entered the fray.
“Let…… us set off,” Brendel felt a knot in his throat as he spoke.
They had successfully pierced through the first layer of the Loop of Trade Winds. Their next destination would be moving towards the next barrier where violent winds blew. Quinn nodded quietly, remaining silent all this time.
There were no wolves spawning in the next obstacle, but higher level monsters lurked in the area. If they succeeded in going past it, then they would finally reach the Loop of Trade Winds’s core area. It was not exactly suited for a large group of people to enter the area, and Brendel had planned to get most of them in one of the safe places he knew. In truth, the Centaurs and Tree Elves had succeeded in their mission when they went past the Blockade of Wolves.
A quick headcount of the youths brought along revealed a third was killed. One of the squadron’s leader was dead and another gravely wounded. This result made them realize how desperate the situation was.
After traveling for approximately twenty minutes, the pillar of green light flickered in the dark sky, and it finally disappeared.
Everything returned to darkness.
Brendel found no words when he saw that sight. A sigh of regret escaped his lips.
[Even though I know there would be losses, I can’t help but feel that I led them to their deaths.]
The youth felt he should his heart would be as hard as steel for experiencing enough deaths, but he found himself shaken. He suddenly sensed a gaze on him and discovered Amandina looking him with a pair of inscrutable, gleaming eyes.
[Are you disappointed that I’m unable to save them?]
The illusion that he could always find a solution to any problems had been shattered. Amandina seemed she wanted to see his perfect side all the time.
[But no matter how hard I try to plan ahead, there’s always the possibility that I failed. No, perhaps it’s even safe to say I was lucky to succeed in the first place. Maybe there’s a genius out that’s beyond mortal comprehension and control every aspect, but I’m definitely not that perfect person. I was neither the most brilliant gamer nor the strongest warrior in the game.]
Brendel’s troubled eyes blinked and he sighed again.
Amandina’s gaze captured the youth’s reactions and she spoke in a soft tone: “My lord, I think there are situations where there are no solutions.”
“…… What?” Brendel replied, surprise creeping into his voice. He looked puzzledly at her; these words did not seem like what she would ever utter.
Amandina only gave a faint smile in response: “I believe that you’re regretting over this matter very much, and I believe that anyone would feel this way. But it’s precisely because of this frustration that we will strive to surpass our limits…… In truth, I actually feel relieved that my lord is imperfect.”
“…… I see. You read my mind.” Brendel’s eyes turned slightly bloodshot, furious at himself.
“In the end, my lord is the same as us.” Amandina placed her hands behind her back and nodded lightly.
Brendel coughed and looked away with his hand rubbing over his forehead, only to sense Quinn nodding not far away. Her words did not reach him, because he desperately wanted things to have a better ending.
“Ser Brendel. Life is precious, which is why this type of sacrifice is worthy of respect.”
The youth’s mocking smile was hidden by his hand: “There are many factions here with many people carrying the flames of civilization, but how many are fighting to help preserve it?”
He pulled his hand away from his eyes that were narrowed: “At the core of things, even I am not doing this because I’m selfless.”
“…… A pure-hearted person doesn’t exist. I do have a question in mind, would you give me an answer after giving it some thought?” The Tree Elf’s attention was on the youth, but he never stopped looking for signs of any trouble.
“What is it?”
“Would you give up Halran Gaia to save Wydall and the others? Perhaps even save the Green Tower?”
“…… Why not?”
Quinn smiled and he spoke in Elven: “Do you not understand, Ser Brendel? You don’t need to blame yourself. Your kindness comes straight from your heart, and it’s the most precious thing in this world. I have said this before, if it’s you, I’m sure we will become allies.”
“Most people are selfish,” Scarlett suddenly spoke, “They wouldn’t help anyone else without getting something in return.”
The older Elf looked at her for a while before he spoke: “If people do not have hope, how did this world become civilized?”
“What…… does that mean?” The red-haired girl was confused.
Quinn reminisced the days when he fought alongside with Wydall. They frequently joked with each other on who would slumber eternally, but he did not think that it would be so sudden. He drew in a light breath before he replied:
“If we did not hope for something better, we would not speak with each other. Languages would not be created because we don’t need to communicate. What difference would there be from men and beasts if there isn’t communication from the hearts?”
Scarlett contemplated over his words, but another voice that was full of clarity agreed with him, startling everyone. The voice came in the direction from the nearby trees, but not even one person had detected the owner of the voice.
“The difference between men and beasts is because they fear fire, and we walk towards the light. Civilization’s fire burns brightly in the wilderness, lighting not only Chaos but also people’s hearts.”
The faint shadow of a man flickered in front of Brendel and the others as the Mana Wave in the sky pulsated. He eventually emerged, carrying a greatsword behind his back that was bigger than a normal adult, with his grey robes flowing behind him. His strange pupils seemed to absorb all light, making them dull and lifeless, but his gaze somehow made everyone feel like they were being targeted by him.
“But the descendants of the King of Flames have forgotten about it after centuries have passed.” He continued to remark.
[Who is this man?!]
Kodan was the first to pull out his weapon, sensing the man in front of him was someone impossibly powerful, and there was no telling whether the latter was a foe or friend. Quinn and Scarlett followed the old knight’s actions, realizing that it was strange for a single person to appear where they were.
But Brendel only stared at the man in utter disbelief.
The Sword Saint of Ashes, Mephisto.