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Chapter 263 – The Die is Cast (1)

    Chapter 263 - The Die is Cast (1)

    For those who lived over 100 years, how long and how short was a month? If scholars from all over the world gathered to discuss it, they wouldn't be able to reach a conclusion.

    This was because it was subjective and varied depending on the person.

    Just like how a man giving a serenade could feel like a few seconds was a few years, a person reading an interesting book could feel like an hour was just a few minutes. A month could change a person's life, or it could pass with nothing happening.

    Therefore, an objective measurement was needed if one wanted to measure time.

    What happened in a month which could be measured? Without knowing this, the seriousness of time couldn't be discussed.

    From this point of view, it could be said that the last month had been a once-in-a-century turning point for the Meltor Kingdom. Elvenheim had broken their neutrality, there had been the birth of a new master, as well as the deaths of three of the Seven Swords... And finally, there had also been the secret talks which Veronica had been sent to.

    Prince Fermut's taunts...

    The 2nd Sword who hadn't been seen recently...

    After deliberating on these circumstances, Meltor's leaders reached a conclusion.

    "Your Majesty! This is an opportunity!" The minister of the military, Robert Alpenheimer stepped up and gave his opinion. "If the enemy's power is superior to ours, there is no way the people of Andras will step back first! It is finally time for us to unify the Northern Continent! This is a chance to destroy our enemy!"

    "Lower your voice, Minister," the minister of domestic affairs, Jerome Violeta, spoke against him. "The enemy's attitude is moderate, so we can't guarantee our superiority. Most of all, the magic towers haven't recovered from the damage received from that convoy mission a few years ago. Even if it is true that Andras' power has weakened, we aren't necessarily stronger."

    It was a reasonable point. The 1st Sword had stood behind the emperor, who wanted a continuation of the truce. There was a good chance that Andras had retreated for political reasons. However, Robert didn't accept this and yelled, "This weakness is why the north can't escape the turmoil of war, even after hundreds of years!"

    "It is better than acting hastily and dying!"

    "What?"

    As usual, the argument between the two people intensified. Then the quietly listening Kurt raised a hand. After all, it was the role of a king to make conclusions and direct the mood of the meeting.

    Simultaneously, the meeting room in the royal palace sank into silence. The two ministers, striving to outdo each other, paled and looked at Kurt.

    "Listen carefully," Kurt rebuked them. Then he closed his eyes and said, "White Tower Master, report."

    "Yes, Your Majesty." A man emerged in an empty space.

    The ghostly master of the white tower, Orta, appeared in the middle of the meeting room. It was a surprising sight, but the people assembled here couldn't be surprised by it anymore. They had all guessed why Orta was appearing at this point, so all of them had calm expressions.

    "The 2nd Sword Zest Speitem. I will report on his status."

    "Um."

    The name which emerged from Orta's mouth increased the tension in the meeting room. Zest Speitem, along with Crowd von Russell, was one of Andras' strongest swordsmen. To think that Orta had been investigating him?

    "I tracked the Cardinal Antonio, who secretly departed from Lairon and entered Belfort, Andras' capital. I couldn't follow him until the center, but I discovered that his carriage reached the mansion known to be the 2nd Sword's residence."

    "Cardinal."

    He was the owner of a healing ability. Unlike magic power, divine power didn't cause any backlash from aura. Rather, it intensified aura's inherent vitality, so divine power users had been able to establish an intimate relationship with aura users since a long time ago.

    Additionally, the Lairon priests were hostile to Meltor. So, there was only one reason to call the cardinal who was located in the middle of the Central Continent.

    "Maybe our hero isn't the only one who needs to recover."

    The empire's 2nd Sword, Zest Speitem, was injured! If it was necessary to call a cardinal, it meant he wasn't in a state which could be fixed with a healing potion.

    It was a curse which couldn't be overcome with a sword master's self-healing ability, or it was an injury which hadn't healed after three months. Nobody could've thought that Theodore had summoned a high-ranking demon, but they were certain that the cause of the injury was Zest's fight against Theodore.

    "Your Majesty." There was silence for a moment before Jerome opened his mouth.

    Kurt nodded once.

    Then Jerome continued, "I will withdraw what I said earlier. Please declare war as Robert suggested!"

    "Hrmm." Kurt III cupped his chin with an interested expression and indicated for Jerome to explain.

    Robert's face was a bonus, since his eyes were wide with shock.

    "Meltor and Andras. In both places, there are two absolutely strong people who hold the balance of the battlefield. Red Tower Master and Blue Tower Master, and the 1st and 2nd Swords. So far, we were able to achieve equilibrium because all of them are present."

    "It isn't the case now?"

    "Yes. The 2nd Sword can't come to the battlefield, so it is a chance for Meltor. And..." Jerome spoke with a sorrowful expression, "If we miss this chance because of an indecisive attitude... I-no, we will be failing Captain Theodore!"

    "...I see."

    Jerome's cry stimulated everyone's enthusiasm. Determination filled their faces as everyone in the meeting room stared at a certain empty space. The nobles weren't warriors or magicians. They didn't have the attitude of warriors, but there was clearly an atmosphere of going to war which filled this space.

    "Okay." On behalf of their will, the king of the magic kingdom rose from his seat. "I will move to destroy the armistice. From now on, we will declare a wartime situation throughout the kingdom, started from Mana-vil Capital. We will set up three vanguard units to preemptively attack the three border areas."

    "Yes, Your Majesty!"

    "White Tower Master, immediately call all the tower masters together. And-"

    Holding the king's scepter firmly in hand, Kurt finally took a step toward the war that was approaching him.

    "Call Veronica."

    *     *     *

    Exactly one week passed by.

    Meltor declared the dismissal of the armistice agreement without any notice, and Andras accepted it without raising an objection. This was proof that they were prepared for war at any time. Of course, even assuming that was true, war wasn't something which could be started in a short period of time. It took a good month to convene the reserve soldiers and organize the troops.

    Therefore, the border zone wasn't fully equipped yet. However, it did exist in this world-a transcendent being that could break down a fortress and annihilate thousands of soldiers. The movements of a master couldn't be determined with common sense.

    "...It is dreary."

    There was a magician floating in the sky, looking down at the lights that seemed like fireflies. Crimson hair and red robes...

    Her appearance and clothing seemed to burn in the darkness as Veronica looked down at the empire's fortress which would soon become ashes.

    "I only want to attack military facilities, but I'll have to kill them all anyway. At the very least, there are no 'innocent people' in this part of the north. You are soldiers that will someday become enemies if left alive. You have always done the same time, so don't blame me."

    Of course, there wasn't a reply. It was pointless complaining to the distant ground, so she raised a hand. In fact, she wasn't in a bad mood. Rather, joy was bubbling up inside her. The blood of a red dragon, which loved fighting and bloodshed, woke up inside her.

    However, she didn't accept that instinct. Veronica had been raised as a human and a magician, so she couldn't afford to accept it. As such, she had to hurry before this dirty feeling got worse.

    "Still, I will only feel sick for a short while."

    Veronica's eight circles rotated, and the dark sky reddened.

    It was a natural phenomenon where magic power distorted the environment.

    She had only been a little stronger than others in arm wrestling as a child, but after reaching the 8th circle, her blood had become stronger. She might not be a pure blood, but it wasn't hard to get close to a limitless dragon's heart.

    A rain of destruction poured down from the burning sky.

    The steel gates melted.

    The solid walls collapsed.

    The air had long been turned into a deadly poison.

    The wind was scattered by the heat, and those on the ground struggled to breathe.

    In the East, it would be called fire hell.

    It was a hell where an unquenchable fire burned and even the winds would burn the body. Just five minutes after Veronica started the bombardment, this city that awaited the opening of a war was effortlessly turned into hell.

    A siege defense had no meaning. The soldiers who had trained for a decade weren't even scarecrows. Screaming lips turned to charcoal, and the ashes of people soon scattered.

    "-Wow, is she the 'Witch of Heat?"

    There was one survivor in that hell.

    "But she isn't an opponent I can face. If she is as annoying as Zest says, I will just be turned into bloodstains."

    There was a spear close to 2 meters long on the survivor's back. The curves of their body showed that this person was a woman. Her face wasn't visible because of the heat haze, but her voice didn't sound old.

    She was the empire's 5th Sword, Delkur of the 'Shadows.'

    Delkur had come to this city for the purpose of defending the border, but the devastating scene happening before her wasn't something she could stop. Apart from her boiling fighting spirit, her sword master's instincts told her that this wasn't an opponent she could win against.

    However, Delkur smiled as she gazed up at the distant sky. "Is this winning? Putting the strongest card at this weak place, it allows for an easy victory."

    Delkur's red eyes shone as she spoke meaningful words, "But what about elsewhere?"
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