72. Canibar Territory (2)
A massive explosion could be heard within the downpour. The Magic Cannon was blasted backward as it fired out Mana Shells that fell down like meteors. Dozens of these shells were shot into the sky and many of them collided and exploded against the siege towers. These massive towers burned and collapsed, causing those within―the soldiers of the Holy Kingdom―to scatter and scream in terror.
“Magicians! Maintain fire!”
The Magicians gathered and began casting. Runes formed in the air, which suddenly summoned forth a pillar of fire. The flurry of flames burnt away the attacking soldiers who tried to approach the outer wall.
Halsem covered his ears. The sounds of all the explosions coming from every direction made it feel as though his eardrums might burst.
Halsem continued shouting profanities. Many of the other refugees were doing the same. Most really didn’t want to fight and were making no attempt to do so. Seeing the fact that they were dragging their feet, the soldiers felt the need to kick them into action.
“Hurry up and get ready! The bastards are coming!”
The Holy Kingdom’s soldiers charged with their shields raised to block from the various rocks, arrows, and spears that were being hurled down at them, and placed ladders on the outer wall. Under the hail of projectiles from the Aylan soldiers, they did their best to climb up.
“Don’t let them climb up!”
Despite the resistance of the Aylans Kingdom, many of the Holy Kingdom’s soldiers climbed all the way to the top of the wall―some with arrows and spears skewering their bodies.
As a soldier climbed to the top of the ladder in front of him, Halsem thrust forward with his spear instinctively. He yelled as he felt the sensation of flesh giving way. He could feel the worn blade of the knife tearing through the man, and it felt sickening.
Halsem screamed and accidentally let go of the handle of his spear as the stabbed soldier fell off from the outer wall. Halsem trembled and stared at his hands. He realized almost immediately what a grave mistake he had just made. He realized that he had just lost the weapon that was supposed to protect him and became pale.
“W-weapon… the weapon…!”
A soldier who had just managed to climb to the top of the ladder rushed toward Halsem, who clearly looked to be the most vulnerable target in his reach. When Halsem recoiled in surprise, Ellin rushed over in a hurry and swiped at the spear-wielding Holy Kingdom soldier, causing him to fall over the wall as well.
“If you’re going to be scared like that, just go down!”
When Ellin complained, Halsem grit his teeth.
“I want to as well, but the soldiers won’t let us down!”
Halsem clung to Ellin. Ellin shoved him away and swung her spear. She tried to swing at the Holy Kingdom soldiers that managed to climb over, but the weapon couldn’t endure her monstrous strength and broke apart.
“What…? Why is this so weak?”
As far as she was concerned it was a decorative weapon with a kitchen knife attached to the end, so Ellin didn’t have much faith in it. She suddenly abandoned what was left of it and started swinging her fists toward the invaders instead.
For every strike that landed, blood would spew from her targets’ mouths. The soldiers of Aylans were in awe at her monstrous strength, having been looking down on her before due to her gender.
Ellin looked at Tom unhappily. He had been watching the formation of the Holy Kingdom with his arms crossed, appearing to be deep in thought.
“Aren’t you going to help?!”
“I guess I probably should, shouldn’t, I?”
Tom nodded as he replied affirmatively, but he still simply rubbed his chin.
The opponent’s manpower was sitting at around fifty-thousand, but the soldiers available to the Demon Kingdom didn’t even reach four-thousand. Even if they arrived for a frontal assault against the Holy Kingdom, the damage to the demon’s forces would be significant.
‘If so, that means we’ll have to keep Canibar territory from completely collapsing…’
This meant that he would have to push the army of the Holy Kingdom to near collapse.
Tom pulled out his holy sword.
‘… Then I’ll have to stop them to the best of my abilities. It’ll take at least a week for the Demon Kingdom’s soldiers to arrive, after all.’
A siege tower arrived at the outer wall. The sealed entrance to the siege tower opened and soldiers poured out. Tom smiled as he saw this.
‘This feels like the appropriate amount.’
Soldiers of the Holy Kingdom rushed forward. The refugee soldiers of the Aylans Kingdom became frightened and tried to run away.
“Ey! Don’t retreat!”
As the knights pulled out their swords and tried to step in, Tom threw himself forward. The traveling robe he was wearing fluttered as he appeared in the middle of the Holy Kingdom’s soldiers.
When they finally managed to notice his movements, a flash of light passed through them. Unable to react to this sudden flash of light, the Holy Kingdom’s soldiers suddenly found themselves floating, the sky filling their vision. Their torsos were flying through the air as their lower halves were spraying blood all over the floor; they had been cleaved in two. Seeing five men felled in a single slash, the other Holy Kingdom soldiers coming out of the siege tower froze in disbelief. Watching blood and viscera pour out from their bisected bodies, the soldiers froze in fear.
“A monster you say? You’re not wrong, but I’m hurt.”
Tom’s holy sword poured out light and he glared at the soldiers.
“Just one week. Please hold out until then.”
As winter approached, the temperature continued to drop. It became far easier for the soldiers to grow exhausted as they were pummeled by rain, low temperatures, and heavy winds. The soldiers of the Holy Kingdom had retreated after the first and second attacks on Canibar. They then performed basic treatment on the wounded with bandages and salves. The only food they received was a single potato and a thin soup cooked within the military camp, which was meant to sustain them for the entire day.
They forced their heavy bodies to move. They looked at the distant outer walls of Canibar with exhausted eyes. The wall and gate looked impenetrable and rock-solid. It was definitely suitable as a fortification set on the border of the Kingdom of Aylans. A portion of the outer wall had been broken during the first assault, and there were signs of the outer gates being burned, but they still stood tall. The thousands upon thousands of dead soldiers displayed right outside the gates were a testament to the strength of their defenses. The ground was littered with bodies, discarded weapons, and equipment.
They had tried to get through by using siege towers and ladders, but the resistance they had run into had been far more than expected. The Holy Kingdom’s soldiers had received significant damage, but they expected that it was a similar story on the side of Aylans, if to a lesser extent.
“… They’re resilient for some heretic nation. What’s it been? Five days now that they’ve held out? We couldn’t even open the castle gate.”
“They do have a lot of magicians. But more than that, there was that one guy…”
The soldiers frowned.
“You mean the monster…?”
The soldiers collectively thought of a single figure. A single monster. He looked like a human, but he didn’t use his weapon like one. Whenever he swung his sword, two to three men were slain. Their bodies were split apart, causing blood to spray everywhere. He was like an envoy of death in their eyes, reaping the lives of the Holy Kingdom’s soldiers.
The soldiers felt a chill and shook their heads.
“Why is a monster like that on the Aylans’ side? Is he an Aylansian Magic Knight?”
“A Magic Knight? The ones that deal with both magic and blade? It could be, I guess. I’ve heard that Aylans kingdom is overflowing with Magic Knights, but… damn. How are they expecting us to break through the outer wall with a bastard like that in the way?”
“It’d be great if the Holy Knights stepped in themselves…”
The Holy Kingdom’s soldiers sighed. It was a needless expectation.
The Holy Knights of the Holy Kingdom were powerful. They had enough power to stand off against ten ordinary soldiers each and have strength left over afterward. But as they had such military prowess and pride, they participated in battles only at the very end.
Their reasoning was simple. It wasn’t just because it was the safest time for them to intervene―when most of the work had already been done by the other soldiers―but it was also when it was most likely for there to be an occasion for them to perform a ‘feat’.
It was the safest time for them to do so. And the Holy Knights did not risk their lives for anything that didn’t involve performing one.
“Shit, I thought it’d be an emergency army made up of refugees, but that wasn’t the case.”
“Who is that blonde bastard? He looked strange to be a knight. Could it be… a secret soldier deployed by the Aylans Kingdom?”
“A secret soldier?”
“I’m talking about a Hero!”
The soldiers clamped their mouths at those words. The enemy had a Hero-grade soldier? There was nothing scarier than that.
“If that’s really the case, isn’t this too dangerous…?”
The soldier who was speaking was interrupted by having his head grabbed.
His head was forcibly shoved into the pot boiling with soup.
His face was cooked within the fierce heat. As he desperately resisted, the pot containing the remaining soup spilled over. The soldier rolled around while covering his face in pain.
“You dare…? You would call an enemy by the title of ‘Hero’? One who is selected only through the grace of God?!”
Janus, who commanded the Paddle of God, looked down upon the soldier with disgust.
“There can’t be a Hero unless he’s expressly chosen by the Pope, His Highness! That man you are talking about is simply a heretic and a devil!”
The soldiers collectively shut their mouths.
It wasn’t the case that Heroes only came from the Holy Kingdom. There were other talented people gathered from other nations as Hero trainees, but it was only the Holy Kingdom who granted the title of ‘Hero’. By that logic, it was technically correct to say that only the Holy Kingdom produced Heroes, but… there was no guarantee that all Heroes would follow them.
Janus refused to accept this point. According to him, anyone that didn’t follow Pope Salem was suited only to be called a heretic, a heathen, a devil, or some other stigmatized name. Obviously, the same thing held true with the Kingdom of Aylans as well.
King Paulie Aylans was a ‘heretic’.
Janus turned to his soldiers.
They all jumped to their knees and lowered their heads.
“All those that spread strange rumors within this army will not be judged by military law, but instead will meet a heretic’s interrogation!”
‘Heretic interrogation? Is he saying that he’ll start torturing people?’ One of the soldiers thought, horrified at the prospect.
The soldiers turned pale. They were all aware of what a cruel figure the man standing before them was. It was well-known that death was better than undergoing his torture.
“Prepare yourselves! We are attacking again tomorrow! And…”
Janus turned around where the Holy Knights stood.
“All of you will participate as well. We will subjugate Canibar two days from now. If we take any more time than that, it’s obvious that the bastards’ reinforcements will arrive.”
The Holy Knights nodded.
Tom and Ellin, along with Halsem, were meeting with Count Shabel within the guest room.
The count had invited them. As he was the commander of the army, he had been able to see with his own two eyes just how much these three people had contributed. The woman called Ellin had shown incredible martial prowess to be able to mow down Holy Kingdom soldiers with nothing but her fists, while the one called Tom had displayed swordplay that was beyond anything he’d ever seen. The one called Halsem… did nothing.
Count Shabel frowned. The Holy Kingdom soldiers that the group in front of him had taken care of on their own must have exceeded seventy. At this point, they were acknowledged as the embodiment of fear. The soldiers of the Holy Kingdom struggling to open the outer gates fled in terror just seeing the pair. It was largely due to their efforts that they had been able to endure the past five days.
‘Amazing. They are so skilled even though they appear so young. However…’
Count Shabel’s eyes narrowed.
‘That makes them that much more suspicious.’
The fact that people this skilled were guards of a simple merchant didn’t add up to him at all.
“You all… Who are you exactly?”
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