Chapter 148 – Breaking dawn (1)
============= Alistair’s POV ===========
“Rage does not feed our stomachs, boy.” An old mercenary almost did not have the heart to lecture him: “You can bring up the laws of the kingdom all you want, but what use does it have if the sword is mightier than the pen? We have gathered in front of the city gates but they act as if we’re invisible. Why? Because they are not afraid of us in the least.”
“Even if we attacked the city, are we capable of penetrating their defense lines and into the heart of the city? You should stop thinking of the impossible. Don’t forget that bastard has a full army that is no smaller than our numbers.” Another mercenary leader said.
Alistair gritted his teeth and could not think of a way to refute these words, but he tried appealing to their pride.
“Are we not capable of having a full-fledged battle against them, even if for just one day? Yes, we are adventurers and mercenaries, but do we not have the dignity and pride to defend our own? If we throw these away, are we nothing more than barbarians?”
Silence greeted him, as the leaders were still hesitant even after Alistair’s attempt to rouse their anger. No one was willing to bend their knees, but if they chose to fight today, then it was very likely they would have no future standing in this kingdom.
It was a path all too hard to cross.
The young man sighed when he observed their faces: “My apologies. It seems that I have demanded too much from you. Very well, I know the positions you are in and I won’t force your hand. But the victims on the crosses demand an answer. If there is someone who needs to die fighting today, let it be my companions and I. The only thing I ask of you is not to forget this day when the baron took away your comrades’ lives and your dignity.”
He took a few steps away from them before someone called out to him: “Young man! Have you forgotten what that lord told you? He will bring justice to us one day—”
“And you believe him?” Alistair interrupted him, turning back with an incredulous voice: “Do you believe his perfunctory words? These nobles and lords are all—”
He stopped talking.
There was a strange commotion nearby them. The leaders immediately became alert and spurred towards the source while yelling at their men:
“What are you lot doing! Stop your sniveling and get back into position!”
“Captain, there seem to be more people coming up to the walls, they are being reinforced!” The mercenaries near the city’s gates yelled in response.
The leaders frowned when they heard this reply.
“Damn. They still have more men?” One of them made a face.
“Aye, I understand why they are unafraid of us.”
============ Madara’s POV ===========
When Rothko brought his men up the walls, he discovered the black patches of something in the darkness interspersed with camp fires were all humans—
The youth with pale skin and a grey undertone under it, scoffed loudly.
He turned back to the rows of soldiers covered in black robes behind him. Underneath the robes were skeleton soldiers, the basic unit of Madara’s merciless troops in the frontline. His eyes went back to the plains with irritation, but maintained a restrained tone when he spoke to the noble next to him:
“Give the order, tell these mercenaries they have half an hour to leave this place, or be prepared to be killed without quarter.”
His words were sharp like a blade.
The noble looked carefully at him and affirmed quickly with a bowed head. Even though he was puzzled over where the strange army came from, he understood it was Graudin who sent them. He did not dare to ask the man in front of him if he was Graudin’s retainer.
He did not suspect the mysterious soldiers beside him were Madara’s undead soldiers.
Rothko hated the fact he was standing there. He would rather return to his study and analyze the research materials he stole from the human libraries.
The noble walked to the center of the city walls. He was secretly delighted. The mercenaries who surrounded the city had caused him to be exceedingly displeased.
[These commoners had the galls to stand up to us.]
He never thought he would see the day where the mercenaries revolted. It was a loss of dignity, even if they did not attack the city. He raised his hand, and ordered one of the nearby acolyte wizard to come over: “Get your crystal ready.”
The acolyte wizard did not waste any time and immediately activated the spell, Great Shout, on the crystal.
The noble officer nodded with satisfaction, acting like a commander of a thousand-strong Aouine cavalry unit. He cleared his throat before he roared at the city below:
“You wretched commoners, listen well!”
The mercenaries’ heads rose up and they stopped what they were doing. They cast their gaze up on Firbugh’s walls and waited for the noble’s speech.
But he did not continue his words—
Shortly after the commander opened his mouth, he froze what he was doing and the crystal he was holding on to fell onto the ground. He stared blankly into to the distance.
The mercenaries near the city wall who listened attentively to him, created a commotion filled with insults when he suddenly stopped talking, but they abruptly ceased talking and parted away to the sides; it was as though a giant monster was walking on the road and forced them to move away.
The strange, invisible monster seemed to move towards the gate quietly.
Rothko narrowed his eyes and looked to the distance like a statue.
=========== Brendel POV ============
The crowd was being parted by force. The campfire dimmed as the air around it started to cool rapidly. White frost visibly grew on the ground.
Alistair had detected the commotion made from the back and diverted his attention there. He gasped when he saw the figures there.
A youth was carrying a little girl and cantered towards the city walls. The aura around him was an invisible barrier of frost that forbade anyone from approaching him. Those who were slow to retreat from the cold air found it difficult to breathe.
No one blocked his path, and a empty passage was extended between him and the southern Firbugh’s gate.
The mercenaries who were trying to catch a glimpse of him, rallied behind Brendel from a fixed distance, almost appearing as if they had the relationship of a king and his knights.
The youth dismounted and carried the little girl down. They walked before the city gates and stopped there.
Everyone watched them silently.
Sifrid looked up to him; her eyes were full of trust. He had led her across the dark passageway and wilderness during the night, his embrace chasing away the cold, and she felt nothing but warmth and peace.
Brendel raised his head up and glared at the pale noble officer.
“What did you want me to listen to,” The youth’s voice was not loud, but the silence in the area allowed them to hear what he said clearly: “Pawn?”
The noble’s eyes saw near darkness. The youth had merely cast a lazy eye at him but he felt like he was stabbed in the chest and could not breathe. He turned his head around to Rothko’s direction, trying to beg for help, but he could not find his presence.
Because of Brendel’s staggering pressure, he had no choice but to stutter: “I….. I want to t-t-tell you, that…… you are t-t-to leave, or…… you will be s-s-shown…… no mercy.”
The mercenaries immediately caused a commotion. They knew the cold-blooded baron will not joke with them. With this threat, many of them wavered in their conviction.
Brendel merely nodded.
“Is that all?” He said.
“T-t-that’s all…..” The noble’s palms were sweaty. Even though the youth before him was far away, he felt that he was going to be cut down any moment.
Brendel nodded again.
“Now, it’s my turn to speak—”
He took a step forward, his left hand raising his sword’s sheath, while his right hand drew out the blade; a vertical silver line seemed to be drawn in thin air—
Except it was not a line but was a sword’s path, and it sliced the air apart in a silver shockwave that expanded from the silver line. Before the air rushed in the fill the void, the city gate was already dented inwards and shattered into dust in an instant. The rippling shockwave continued to travel upwards from the path, tearing apart the stone walls and grinding the rocks into dust—
Brendel’s sword traveled over his head before he took a step back and returned the sword to the sheath, but once he did so, the sword broke into four pieces. The strength of a Gold-tier swordsman had caused the ordinary blade to break!