Chapter 264 – The Die is Cast (2)

    Chapter 264 - The Die is Cast (2)

    Rutben Citadel, a city in the furthermost eastern part of the empire, was already a fortified city.

    Its walls, which were over 40 meters tall, had been increasing steadily over the centuries. They even had anti-magic barriers and anti-magic measures like magic bombs. Meltor had tried to destroy them numerous times in the past, but they had taken heavy damage and had to retreat.

    However, this time, uninvited guests were visiting Rutben.

    A few hundred meters away from the walls, there were shadows of people moving in the darkness. There were a total of 10 magicians, including the person in the lead.

    It was the elite army of the white tower, directly trained and commanded by White Tower Master Orta who led the way in a black mask. Due to their nature as secret agents whose identities must be concealed, all of them were wearing masks like Orta's on their faces.

    -Stop. Orta suddenly stopped at where he was moving ahead of the party. -From here onward, move while maintaining your shields. We are 200 meters away from Rutben's walls and watchtowers, so your magic power can't leak out. If you can't get past the walls and you get caught, don't wait for my instructions and just try to escape first.

    The remaining magicians nodded, while Orta made an unknown hand gesture and muttered a spell.

    Perhaps it was his own unique magic.

    The defense of Rutben, which Andras had set as its outpost, was truly exquisite. Without Orta, even the elite agents of the white tower would be detected before getting past one layer of the wall, and they were likely to be killed immediately.


    After a while, a hemispherical haze appeared around Orta's body and concealed the rest of the magicians.


    The 10 magicians stepped forward, secretly moving close to the walls which would crush even ants.

    This was the role of the white tower on the battlefield.

    If Veronica was the brutal force that could devastate an army, then the white tower magicians were the ones who would cut the enemies' throats from behind. They were like the rats who hid in the crack of a sturdy wall or like a hole which could break a thick wall regardless of its size.

    Their aim was to assassinate Rutben's general and elite knights. If a fortified city lost their chain of command, they would be defenseless against senior magicians. It was a tactic which hadn't succeeded a few times in the past war, but it had given Meltor a considerable amount of experience.


    The moment they arrived at the bottom of the wall, Orta got the attention of the other magicians with his hand. Even if their bodies were trained, it was impossible for them to climb a wall that was 40 meters tall.

    So, Orta came directly to Rutben. He activated his magic and continued to block all traces of their presence. That was impossible for a normal magician to do, but this magic was possible for Orta. Soon after, the ten magicians followed him into the air.

    'Ohh...! There is no alarm from Rutben...'

    'As expected of the tower master. There is no end to what he can do.'

    'It would be ridiculous for Andras as well.'

    Of course, no words emerged from their mouths, but these feelings flowed from under their masks.

    The impregnable fortress, Rutben Citadel...

    For the first time in history, they had the opportunity to break it. Even the calm agents couldn't help being excited.

    Nevertheless, the elite were the elite. They gradually calmed their minds and recovered their blank expressions once they crossed two layers of the wall. Their heads were cold by the time they crossed three layers. Private feelings were mere obstacles to the mission's performance.

    The 10 pairs of feet touched the ground and advanced a further 200 meters.

    They were invisible ghosts who infiltrated without a sound. The unit that was codenamed 'Phantom' by Andras had finally infiltrated the fortified city!

    -Assassinate the lord first. After that, we will neutralize the military officers, knights, and communication facilities. Don't be so relieved just because we've crossed the wall. If it was this easy, the war would've ended earlier.

    The nine people each laid a hand on their chest. It was a hand signal which meant 'agreement.' Orta was satisfied by the sight and headed toward a mansion in the distance. It was Rutben Castle which didn't have a big reputation. As long as they paid attention to the alarm in the bedroom, it would be child's play to take the lord's life.

    They ran past a security checkpoint and moved through the empty city in the middle of the night. From the outskirts of the city to the lord's residence―

    "Hmm?" Orta thought that something was strange. It wasn't strange that no alarm rang due to his magic, but...

    The odd thing was inside Rutben.

    'So far, we haven't seen a single patrol...?'

    Orta hated to admit it, but Andras was strong. Their knights and soldiers were well trained and disciplined.

    Rutben was one of the main fortresses of Andras. There was nothing weird about having patrols in five-minute intervals at the outskirts of the city. However, it was strange that they never encountered a patrolling party despite being close to the lord's residence.

    Orta became wary and hastily gave a command, -All members, pull...

    No, he was trying to give a command.

    "You noticed quickly, Rat." A man emerged from thin air.

    "Avoid it!" Orta shouted instinctively, but he couldn't be faster than the blade.

    A blood-red aura appeared.

    Fermut Style, Refraction Sword.

    However, that wasn't the orbit of the sword. Then the aura started to distort like a mirage. From a straight line to a curve, a curve to a straight line... The aura distorted the air it moved through.

    "Kuk, this ability is probably...?" The panicked Orta reacted quickly.

    He took two steps away with space magic and was able to escape from the aura. However, the other magicians couldn't follow him.


    Three heads soared, and a few limbs fell down.


    "There was something so strange?"

    "Ugh, m-my arm...!"

    Three people died, and four were seriously injured. There were only two people who avoided the attack without any injuries. However, the opponent seemed dissatisfied with this horror.

    "You are doing quite well, Meltor's rats. I didn't expect to only kill three people."

    "...You." Orta gritted his teeth as he recognized the identity of the enemy. It wasn't unexpected, but this situation was a bit dangerous.

    The 2nd Sword, Zest, was in a state where he couldn't move because of a serious injury.

    The 1st Sword couldn't move from the capital because he needed to defend the emperor and Belfort. If so, there were only two people who could appear in Rutben. The 5th and 3rd Swords, both of whom had aura abilities that Orta couldn't easily deal with.

    In particular, the man before him was the worst opponent for a space magician. The man was Andras' Crown Prince, Fermut, and the attack just then was the manifestation of the ability to bend space.

    Refraction or distortion...

    Orta judged that it was closer to the former.

    'If he gets close, I will die. It might be different if he is alone, but...'

    There were signs of other people approaching after Fermut emerged. The presence indicated that they were the Shadow Knights, the Andras Empire's special forces who sneaked around in the shadows.

    It would be difficult to handle such a large number of enemies with injured men. As such, it was time for Orta and his men to retreat.  However, the moment Orta was about to give up on his mission without hesitation, Fermut moved.

    "Don't move without my permission, Dog."

    A red sword moved through the air.

    Fermut Style, Refraction Sword.

    Sleeping Moon.

    At first glance, it seemed like a false move, but Orta's face soon hardened like wax. He could feel the space connecting with his senses.

    The strings of the connected world were like a net around him, threatening to cut him. Under these circumstances, closing himself off in another space or a shield wouldn't work properly.

    "Do you know that this place is set for your death?" Fermut looked at them impatiently, before turning to look at the shadows surrounding them.

    It was a signal that they should move.

    Confronted with this fate, Orta laughed under his mask. "You've put in quite a lot of effort. Are you mad about being hit by the Red Tower Master? You must be afraid to compete with her again. It seems like this was a trap to catch me from the beginning."


    "Did I hit the nail on the head? Pretending to be so great, but your intentions are just petty."

    A sound suddenly rang out from somewhere.

    "...This dog is barking without being aware of who I am." Fermut gripped the sword in his hand, as his arrogant face changed into a blank one. However, he was only cold on the surface. His burning aura exposed his anger.

    All words lost meaning, as magic power and aura boiled. In this heavy stillness, someone gulped and the battle began.

    Fermut Style, Refraction Sword.

    The space bent around Fermut.

    Beheading Sword, Indiscriminate Stab.

    It was a chain of moves that seemed like it would cut him to pieces. The bloody aura twisted around his body like a mollusk. However, Orta could still somehow deal with this attack if he could see it.


    The space in front of Orta's fingertips was torn. Clearly, a common defense against bent space was pointless. Interfering with space was the minimum requirement for a frontal confrontation.

    Tearing and bending space...

    A large shock wave occurred as the two forces collided.

    Kwarurung! Then a thunderous sound rang out all over the place, while the shadows and six remaining magicians started to fight. However, the situation wasn't good.

    Elite senior magicians and knights were both the representative troops of each nation, but the balance of power wasn't absolute. The magicians of the white tower were wounded and surrounded, so they weren't in a position to defeat the Shadow Knights.

    "Kuheok!" The magician who lost his left arm was the first to be stabbed in the neck.

    "T-Tower Master, I, first..." The body of the magician fell down in a puddle of blood.

    'Four possible escape routes... But there is no way out.' Orta didn't shake upon seeing the deaths of his subordinates whom he had trained for more than 10 years. Instead, he kept his cool, blocked Fermut's offensive, and calculated ways to escape.

    Even so, there seemed to be no way to get out of this predicament. The strongest enemy with the worst ability was in front of him, while the enemies that made up the net weren't easily handled.

    After calculating many times, Orta admitted it. 'It is up to here.'

    He couldn't always win. Unless he had absolute strength, he would someday lose to someone. After all, Orta was weaker than Veronica and Blundell. However, he was clever and could analyze the battlefield quickly, finding ways to win. So, in such a situation, he was aware that he couldn't win.


    Was it due to being distracted? No, the loss was inevitable. Even if they could both control space, the power of aura exerted an ability which exceeded magic. Fermut prevailed because he refracted space.

    If two beings interfered in the same space, the more dominant one would win. This was what Orta had read from the beginning, and thus, he tried to escape. Orta was struck from his left collarbone to his right side. He narrowly avoided losing a limb, but the bleeding was serious.

    "...Um." Orta braced himself and desperately put strength into both his legs. Even if he were to die, he didn't want to show a miserable appearance to his enemy. It would be nice if there was a chance to drink a potion.

    "If you surrender, this body will kindly kill you."

    It was ridiculous. Orta spat in the direction from where he heard the voice and then started to draw up magic power from the bottom of his circles. If he were to die, he would take as many enemies as possible with him. This was Orta's favorite ending, and it was the last thing he could do for his colleagues who had fallen first.

    "Tsk, if you want to die like this, then I should kill you." Fermut neared his enemy who wouldn't collapse despite having blood flow down half his body. Although injured, a master was a master. Meltor's ghost wouldn't fall so easily.

    'The end.'

    Ultimately, Orta couldn't hold out much longer.

    Both masters knew what the ending would be, so there was a tight tension between Orta and Fermut. The three remaining magicians and shadows also stopped moving. They didn't dare move because the pressure was too great.

    The only thing which could interfere with this situation was the intervention of a third party that didn't exist. Then at that moment...



    The two masters looked up a the sky at roughly the same time. Someone was coming. Both the great magician and sword master felt a presence. It was immensely fast, coming from beyond the clouds. No, at this speed, it was more accurate to describe it as 'falling down,' rather than approaching.

    It was faster than an arrow, much like lightning.


    'He' fell over Fermut's head.

    Kwarururung! The sound of thunder boomed in the sky. It was a roar that originated from aura flowing on the surface of two swords. The curved lines were sharp enough to even cut steel. The falchions, swords used by mercenaries rather than knights, pierced Fermut's ankle deeply. Suddenly being struck by a strong impact caused blood to fill Fermut's mouth.

    Prince Fermut was furious. "...You!"

    With blond hair and tanned skin, his armor emphasized mobility, and he himself was reminiscent of a sleek wolf. Fermut gazed angrily in front of him as the other swordsman grinned.

    "It has been a while, you dog bastard! I will make you pay for using my sister as a hostage!"

    "Don't bark in front of me, Traitor!"

    He was the sword master who left his family for his sister's sake in the past and then eventually turned his back on the empire. It was the sudden appearance of Randolph Clovis.
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