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Chapter 277 – Revenge (1)

    Chapter 277 - Revenge (1)

    A few days after retreating from Karul Plains, Theodore breathed for a moment at the command barrack.

    To put it simply, the current situation of the war wasn't bad.

    No, it was actually good. The empire's army had lost four shields thanks to Theodore, resulting in the deaths of several ten thousand troops due to tactical magic. Additionally, the empire was now unable to come out boldly like before.

    Most of all, Meltor only had 20,000 casualties in comparison to Andras' 50,000. If this all-out war continued, Andras would receive devastating damage.

    The problem was the aftermath of the fight between the two absolutes.

    "It has become a place that can no longer be called a plains."

    It was as Theodore said. The battlefield where Veronica and Crowd, the strongest monsters in the north, had met for an hour was now so destroyed that it was impossible to remember its previous appearance.

    Lava pits had formed throughout the flat terrain, while rocks reminiscent of icebergs rose from crevasses. This was such a terrifying sight that no one would think was a plains. It was impossible for a thousand people to fight on this battlefield, let alone hundreds of thousands.

    The commanders of the two powers roughly grasped the terrain for half a day, before retreating with their entire armies. It meant they couldn't fight here anymore.

    There were many places where their armies could be stationed, not just Karul Plains. However, since there were few areas where hundreds of troops could confront each other head-on, the commanders of the two armies had to devise a new strategy and reorganize their armies.

    -User, the silent Gluttony suddenly spoke.

    "Why are you calling me?"

    -I have something I want to ask.

    "Go ahead. You will just speak anyway."

    -You understand me well. Then I won't hesitate.

    Theodore waited for Gluttony's question while feeling inwardly amused. Considering Gluttony was a grimoire that only cared about magic books, Theodore was sure that it would be a question about magic books.

    However, his expectations weren't fulfilled.

    -It is about this war. Why isn't User using all the hands you have?

    "What?"

    -It isn't a difficult story. Right now, there are several ways for User to devastate the battlefield alone. You might not be able to summon Fafnir but summoning a high ranking demon alone is significant. You don't even need to order it directly. You can just throw it into the middle of the enemy territory, and it will perform its role.

    That was a sharp point. Theodore didn't have just his power. Even if he couldn't summon Aquilo due to the crisis of his chastity, the number of summons that were possible by using the 'Library' was endless.

    As a last resort, he could also give up the god sword, Claimhb Solais, to summon Fafnir. It might just be for two or three minutes, but Andras' army would be destroyed. However, Theodore didn't use the summoning magic. He had unconsciously sealed the method for some reason.

    Gluttony wanted to hear this reason.

    "Uhh, don't laugh once I tell you."

    -Hmm?

    "...There is no logical reason. It is just a feeling. My super sensitivity is telling me I shouldn't use it. I have a feeling that things will just get bigger."

    It was a worry that he couldn't tell anyone. He had hidden the method without any grounds, and now his allies were suffering damage... So, he didn't feel good. If the leaders were aware of this fact, it was inevitable that they would rebuke him.

    Gluttony was a grimoire of reason and rationality, so Theodore closed his eyes and waited for the ridicule. He wouldn't be surprised if he was called an idiot.

    -Hoh.

    Theodore was forced to feel surprised.

    -You came to the same conclusion using intuition, not logic? Your judgment is correct.

    In this situation, Gluttony praised him instead.

    "W-What?"

    -Once again. User's intuition is right. You shouldn't call a transcendent being like Fafnir.

    "If you say so... but why?"

    -From here on out, it is just my own hypothesis.

    A hypothesis was something that hadn't been proven yet, and Gluttony didn't want to speak just using conjectures.

    -Let's change the story. User, have you ever thought that the North was strange?

    "Strange... What part?"

    -All of it, Gluttony declared without hesitation. -Think about it. It has already been 500 years since Meltor and Andras, the two nations that worship magic and the sword, were created and first confronted each other.

    In common sense, this was natural. However, Gluttony continued to talk in a sarcastic manner.

    Regardless of the climate of the kingdom, there were no extreme cases like the Northern powers. Meltor had developed the magic towers and rejected the sword, while Andras had waged war on magic since the days when they first became a kingdom and declared that Meltor was their enemy. Either way, both were unusual.

    It was strange that in 500 years of war, the result hadn't leaned to one side. Despite the superior and inferior positions changing several times, there had never been a definitive result. After almost cutting off each other's power, they had concluded with an armistice agreement like it had already been promised.

    Anyone who thought deeply about the history of the war in the North would find it strange.

    Why had this useless war of attrition in the North persisted? Why had they gone to war every few generations and continued to consume great numbers and amounts of people and goods? Why had they not tried for a peaceful resolution just once?

    -The Andras Empire is the heart of the incongruity. Regardless of which side seeming to have the advantage, they will make a move that 'prolongs' the war. After driving Meltor to the brink, they would step back and declare war again if Meltor begins to revive. According to actual history, Andras had a chance to unify the North many times by making a truce with Meltor. It is strange if you think about it.

    "...In other words," Theodore organized what Gluttony was trying to say, "This long war in the Northern Continent is following the intentions of 'someone' in Andras?"

    -That is my thought.

    "Andras and Meltor... The history of the two nations might be due to that bastard?"

    -That's right.

    "...Don't make me laugh!"

    If he hadn't cut off the noise around him in advance, it wouldn't be a surprise if he got treated as a crazy person.

    Theodore was even more furious than he had ever been before.

    How many people had died up till now? Since the early days when the two nations were founded, they had collided with each other. At least 10 million lives had been snuffed out like candles. All these deaths had been because they were dancing on the palm of an unknown person?

    'I can't tolerate it.' Theodore ground his teeth and barely managed to calm himself. It was still a hypothesis. Yes, he could think about it as a hypothesis. Theodore barely calmed his breathing and spoke to Gluttony again, who had been waiting, "...Yes, assuming that the 'someone' exists, will using Fafnir stimulate him?"

    -Of course. In addition, User still isn't prepared to kill millions of lives.

    "Ugh," Theodore groaned.

    Then Gluttony added in an attempt at a comforting tone, -I don't blame you. A clear mind is a great quality for a magician. It is a hundred times better than being drunk on black magic and malice like the black magic apostles.

    "Well, whatever," Theodore came to a conclusion, "I will ask that person who would know the story later."

    -Indeed, that person.

    "Yes."

    'That' person who had been there since the early days of the kingdom's founding, who would know the history of the North and prove the truth of this hypothesis...

    Theodore and Gluttony came up with the same thought at the same time.

    They thought of the person who had founded the magic towers in the magic kingdom, Meltor, and devoted themselves to it. On the surface, everything had seemed to be for Meltor's revival, but there was nothing to rule out that they weren't involved with the 'bastard' who had caused the Northern Continent to be like this.

    The grimoire, Paragranum... It was time to question it.

    *     *     *

    "Oh, you came."

    As Theodore entered the barrack, Benedict welcomed him with a brighter expression than before. Was it because the duties of a commander were quite heavy? Or was it due to the help of an ally?

    Shortly after Orta secretly joined the party, he had revealed his identity and moved to the command center under Theodore's direction. It might be necessary to move in secret, but it was too wasteful not to use his abilities as head of the information gathering network.

    'It is enough reason to use the ingredients.'

    Theodore had helped Orta's body recover quickly, and Kurt had given Orta permission to accompany Theodore. Furthermore, Orta's presence in the last operation hadn't been revealed. It had been difficult to notice Orta's existence since the teleportation had been underground. This meant he could still be mobilized as a trump card.

    "You came, Benefactor!"

    "...Good morning."

    On the right side of the commander's desk, two elves seated next to each other welcomed Theodore. One was Edwin, who had come to Meltor as an envoy in the past, while the other was the guardian called Ellaim, who had fought valiantly against Laevateinn.

    By sending two guardians, Elvenheim proved they weren't taking this war lightly. In addition to the guardians, there were 100 elf warriors.

    100 elf warriors, which included elementalists and archers, were truly powerful. They would be able to compete with the red tower's war mages and the elite knights of Andras in a one-on-one match. The fact that Elvenheim had sent 100 people, who could be defending the Great Forest instead, showed their regard for Meltor.

    It seemed like another 1,000 elves would arrive in the next few days because they were moving more slowly.

    "Okay, you have all gathered on time?" Shortly after that, Veronica entered the barrack. The red hair and heat around her body didn't seem any different from before. However, Theodore's expression became slightly shadowed.

    'Her magic power is a little thinner than usual... It looks like she used a lot of power in her fight against the 1st Sword.'

    It was difficult for a normal person to feel the difference, but Theodore had faced the monster called Veronica many times in the past. He might be the youngest in this place, but everyone had different experiences.

    Unsurprisingly, Veronica immediately disclosed this fact, "First of all, I will leave the battlefield for the time being."

    Meltor's strongest power, an 8th circle magician, was equivalent to two armies. So, for a moment, there was chaos inside the barrack, and many people muttered with pale expressions.

    However, Veronica couldn't have expected it either. "Of course, my condition isn't good. I consumed around 40% of my magic power and only scratched that guy once or twice. Blundell will soon arrive to keep the 1st Sword in check. He will teleport in tomorrow."

    "Hrmm, I-I see."

    "Don't be so amazed. Well, there isn't a problem since I'm not connected to the command system. Orta recovered faster than expected, so it is favorable to us."

    In the all-out war on the Karul Plains, Meltor had gained a slight advantage. As for the benefits that could be gained by using that advantage, that was the issue that the current leaders and magicians had to address.

    The two guardians and 100 elf warriors...

    There were 5 people with the power of a master, including Orta. How should they split up this power in order to defeat Andras? Prior to that discussion, Veronica turned to Theodore and said, "For the next few days, your role will be the most important."

    "...Yes, I'm aware."

    The 1st Sword and Veronica had stepped away, so it was a battlefield where the absolutes weren't present. However, this wasn't definitive. It took just one step for the empire's Seven Swords to move here since it was closer to Andras' territory than Meltor.

    Since they had the healing power of Lairon, Andras' sword masters would be able to recover quickly. It wouldn't be strange to see the 1st Sword tomorrow. Moreover, everyone had forgotten, but there was one more absolute power in the Andras Empire.

    "Zest, that bastard, will come after you."

    Zest Speitem was the Imperial Sword with the ability to cut space. In other words, it meant he could jump through space itself. A sword master of the highest level could attack in an unexpected place with extraordinary timing.

    He hadn't failed so far, meaning he couldn't leave Theodore alive as proof of his failure.

    Veronica held both of Theodore's shoulders and asked, "How about it, can you do it?"

    Could Theodore deal with Zest, the empire's 2nd Sword? The question probably wasn't referring to 'victory.' It would be good if he could survive. With Theodore's age and abilities, that was the best outcome.

    However, Theodore wasn't satisfied with that.

    "Once is enough to learn from my defeat." This time he vowed that he wouldn't give up. "I will properly smash him."

    "Okay! That is my kid!" The mysterious magician who was at the peak of the red tower, Veronica, laughed excitedly as she ruffled Theodore's black hair.

    Her ambitions toward this magician, this man with her, kept on rising. She was satisfied with this fact.

    "Now, reorganize the troops!" Veronica loudly raised her voice and proudly announced the name of the younger generation, whom she wouldn't see for a while.
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