The battle began with bombardment from the Mobile Fortress that the Order of the Iron Blood Knights was so proud of. The cannons lined on top of the moving castle’s walls fired all manner of artillery at Martin Breggas’ camp.
There was a secret technique solemnly guarded by the Order of the Iron Blood Knights hidden within their cannonballs. It was a method to store a time-delayed scroll within the explosive.
Utilizing this method the Iron Blood cannonballs made the first impact when it fell, then a secondary impact after the scroll activated; allowing for a devastating advantage. Of course, the might of the second impact was completely dependent on the strength of the spell held within the scroll.
During the height of their power, the Iron Blood Knights were able to employ a great number of magicians who provided them with a large number of scrolls. However, as the Order declined their technique had all but disappeared. But thanks to the alliance with the Devils, the Order was able to boast firepower far stronger than they had ever fielded before.
‘Boom Boom Boom!!’
A tornado made of fire emerged from the where a bomb landed and began to burn everything in its vicinity. An explosion powerful enough to cause a small quake burst forth from one of the shells, and another shell exploded in a burst of frost followed by a blast of icy shrapnel sharp enough to mercilessly tear apart every human in its vicinity. Every single one of the artillery shells contained powerful scrolls that sealed devastating magic of the Devils. The average ranged from 4th grade to 5th grade. Some even had destructive magic that reached 6th grade.
“How does it taste? Dogs of the Marquis!”
“Did you think that it would be so easy to steal what the Order of Iron Blood Knights had spilled sweats of blood to attain?”
“You will soon face a storm!”
Just the bombardment from the Order of the Iron Blood Knights was enough to drive Martin’s forces into chaos. Martin, who had been tending to his trauma within his tent, realized that the situation was quite dire and returned to the field.
He looked haggard and ill as he had been refusing food and drink for the past three days, but he was a battle-hardened warrior. He immediately gathered a healer and a witch and requested a stimulant, and they each brought one made from their own recipe. Martin tested both stimulants and selected the witch’s.
“The side-effects will incur after a day.”
The witch blinked in hesitation as she spoke.
He downed two bottles of the stimulant and headed toward the chaotic one-sided battle.
Parlim Dargott was putting forth his best effort in commanding the frontline. His attire was already dirty with dust, and his forehead was spotted with beads of sweat. Martin brushed that sweat off from such his child with his hand and spoke with a magnanimous expression on his face.
“You’ve done well. I will take over from this point. You will handle the threats at the rear.”
Parlim spoke with a wide smile, but he hesitated at the last moment. Martin patted his shoulder and spoke softly.
“From this point forward, you may call me father. Don’t fear the gaze of others any longer.”
Parlim whose expression had become dark turned bright once again. It was a refreshing smile that would turn the hearts of men and women alike.
‘I didn’t choose incorrectly.’
Martin gathered his thoughts and headed toward battle. His adjuncts were waiting for him.
Regardless of what anyone said, Martin Breggas was the head commander of the Demonic Frontlines. His reputation had been blemished by his recent choice on the battlefield, but he had mediated the elves, dwarves, and the summoned, each with strong individualities, and defended and stabilized the safety of the Demonic Frontlines like an iron cage for the past eight years. That was not a task anyone could perform.
“Send an immediate transmission to Admiral Minamoto. We are currently in battle and in need of reinforcements.”
He had nothing more to lose, and so he did not act on his greed. Martin felt unencumbered.
‘My ambitions had led me to this point, but that ambition has now burned me whole. I will no longer adhere to such ambitions.’
‘I will retire once this battle ends.’
Matin muttered to himself as though he was making a promise before steadying the wavering battleline. Minamoto Daisuke of the Human Empire arrived in a timely manner. He charged forward into the Order’s front lines ignoring the barrage of artillery pouring out from the fleet.
Youdo Kamaitachi was pulled from its scabbard. The blade, red like blood, poured out a thick aura of hostility.
“I am unbreakable…!”
Minamoto was steeped in madness as he began to perform the dance of death; whatever his blade touched met a bloody end. In the face of Minamoto’s oppressive performance, the Order suffered helplessly. Sungchul’s eyes grew cold as he watched the scene unfold from a distance.
‘Taeksu Kim. He ended up bestowing a position to this bastard.’
Before the formation of the Human Empire, it was the era of the Kingdom of Rutheginea. It was a dark time where those in power ruled with absolute authority while those below fell into defeat and corruption. The Summoned swore to end this era and stood against the great evil as one, but the Holy Kingdom of Rutheginea was powerful, and the Summoned had to endure a tiring battle. Traitors appeared in the process. Taeksu Kim, the man known currently as Minamoto Daisuke, was a vile traitor that had sold out his comrade Summoned for his own benefit.
“Here, take it.”
Bertelgia snapped Sungchul awake from reminiscing about the past. She had stuffed several pages of drawings in between her pages and carried them over. He realized that it contained six pages when he received it.
“Huh? This soon?”
It was a speed that was hard to believe even if with proof. Bertelgia allowed herself to swagger as she boasted.
“Ahem! It’s the might of the new expression technique developed by the one and only Ms. Bertelgia. I calmly looked at myself and realized that my current form wasn’t human anymore, so is there any need to keep drawing like one? It was from this line of questioning that it hit me. I was able to record memory itself differently from humans and those records…”
Her rambling grew long. Sungchul closed his ears in the middle of her rant and began to place the pictures that appeared to have been copied from a printer on top of the original portrait one by one. All six of the images seemed to melt away before his eyes; leaving behind their own message. Sungchul didn’t read any of them.
‘I remember there was a saying that getting older means you don’t have to see or do things you don’t want to see or do.’
“I think I can finish the last picture in under an hour! With Ms. Bertelgia’s superior expression technique that is.”
Sungchul who was averse to compliments unexpectedly threw out a word of praise toward her. Bertelgia grew even more elated and began to float into the air before shooting down toward the next drawing paper.
“Let’s quickly get this over with and get out of this battlefield. I’m so sick of this war!”
It appeared that there was another reason why Bertelgia was rushing. Sungchul nodded and turned his gaze toward the battlefield.
The Order of the Iron Blood Knights that had been ruthlessly pressuring Martin was surrounded and was being slaughtered from both sides. Veteran soldiers led by Martin formed a barrier like an iron wall to hold down the Order, and the ground forces led by Minamoto swept in from the rear. Meanwhile, the airships, the symbol of the Human Empire, continued their artillery fire to demolish the Mobile Fortresses.
The battle was about to reach its conclusion. It looked as though Martin would force his way through the fortress to reach this side, but the portraits were already mostly finished. The situation had been delayed long enough that Primordial light was inches away from his grasp. However, something unexpected occurred on the battlefield. A massive being appeared in the rear of Martin’s soldiers. Its identity was none other than Elijah Breggas.
“Who dares be so foolhardy as to fight upon my land?!”
Elijah who had been lurking within the fortress shouted with a youthful voice unsuited for his appearance before leaping into the rear of the weakened Civil Militia of Trowyn. When the almighty Devil entered the fray, a catastrophe unfolded in the rear which was composed of only healers, magicians with non-combat specialties, and the injured with the exception of the small amount of guards stationed at the entrance. The support units and the injured were helplessly torn apart by the Devil’s claws as there were only a handful of guards to defend them. The small number of magicians that were present there attempted to fight Elijah with their pitiful combat magic, but it only served to anger him further.
“Our Master has fallen!”
“Our family has been ruined!”
Around the corpses of the magicians that were pitifully torn apart, the Homunculi were busy making a fuss. On the other side, the news of Elijah’s appearance reached the ears of Martin who was on the cusp of victory.
“What? That guy left the fortress?”
Martin’s eyes trembled visibly, but he didn’t feel as much shock as he did before. He calmly spoke.
“I’ll go. Pull a portion of the veteran soldiers to stop that guy.”
“There is word that Sir Dargott is already heading toward that direction.”
“Parlim is? No, don’t send him. Send a message to have him immediately turn around.”
At that moment, a blood-curdling roar like one of a lion’s was heard from ahead and a single knight charged as he headed in this direction. Martin could recognize that face even from a distance. It was the Knight-Captain of the Order of the Iron Blood Knights, Sungtek Cho.
It was the final throes of one of the most powerful man of this era now etched with the brand of the Devils. Martin personally swung his blade to face him.
Sword met sword. Sungtek’s eyes were filled with deep-seated grudge as he shot fiercely toward Martin’s face.
“Martin Breggas! You son a whore! Even if I die, I have to see you fall.”
“Koreans have a saying. I’ll take you down with me.”
“Sorry, but I have no intention of dying here.”
A fierce battle took place between the Lord Marquis and the Knight-Captain of the Iron Blood Knights. Sungtek had a greater zeal for the fight, but the one with higher overall stats was Martin Breggas. The victor of the battle was soon declared after a few critical clashes.
Sungtek leaked out a rumbling laughter before grabbing hold of where his right arm used to be with his left. Red blood poured out from where his limb was cut away.
“Rest in peace,” said Martin as he looked off into some faraway place before inflicting the final blow. The blade pierced Sungtek’s heart in a single breath and his body quivered once. Suddenly Sungtek’s left arm grabbed hold of the blade that had pierced his heart and pulled his torso toward Martin.
Sungtek spoke with blood pouring from his mouth. Martin only looked at him with contempt and didn’t respond.
“Look behind you.”
Sungtek smirked before dropping his gaze and muttering under a hushed voice.
“Experience it for yourself, what it’s like to lose a beloved child of yours…”
Sungtek stopped breathing.
Martin who was caught in an ominous premonition peeled Sungtek’s corpse from his blade and immediately turned around. He saw. His son, Parlim Dargott, was grabbed by his other son, Elijah Breggas, and torn in half.
Sungchul let out a sigh as he heard the desolate scream that could be heard in the distance.
‘No better example of karma.’
Martin Breggas was done for. When one’s spirit falls, the body is soon to follow. It was unlikely that he would ever stand again.
Sungchul called out to her. Bertelgia who was hurriedly printing her drawing paused her work and answered him.
“How much longer do you think it’ll take?”
“About 10 minutes?”
“Sounds good. Keep at it.”
“What are you planning?”
“I’m going to go down there for a bit.”
The traitor who had taken the identity of Minamoto was now attacking Elijah. The one who had turned himself into a High Devil was not to be a target of empathy, but Sungchul was still concerned about the corpse of the pitiful woman hanging on his back. He also had another objective.
‘Taeksu. He foolishly showed himself to me once again.’
Sungchul descended the mountain slope while recalling the faces of his comrades who had died by the hands of the traitor. He appeared like a force of nature when seen from a distance.
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