Chapter 155 – Breaking Dawn (8)
============== Raban’s POV ==============
A bright light shot straight into the air and illuminated the vast land, originating from the ruins near the southern inner gate. The varying intensity of the light made it appear ethereal.
Raban, the commander of the Firebrand Mercenaries, wore an aloof expression. His rippling muscles gave him a hard rigid outline that kept dancing from the light. He was a massive man who wielded a greatsword with a carved devil for a hilt, standing motionlessly in the night. His gaze was not on the light but the scenery outside the city.
The darkness seemed to form a black line over the horizon, and the night fog had created a thin mist in between the city and the forest. It seemed like nothing was out of the ordinary, but there was a constant shuffling sound of leaves being swept up by thousands of footsteps moving rhythmically.
The oddity of the inhuman noises was terrifying enough for one to feel like they came from hell.
A large army was moving towards the city.
Raban was not Aouine’s knight. He was formerly part of Karsuk’s forces; a retired cavalryman who had fought against Madara, but he acted like a knight to gain an advantage over the other mercenaries.
When he listened to the sounds with his eyes closed, he was almost certain they were Madara’s army. An endless amount of skeletons like a sea, shuffling across the ground row after row. The noise wormed into his ears and heart.
Fire torches began to emerge in the darkness like stars coming out during the night. They shimmered in the fog like ghost-fire, causing the mercenaries to grip their weapons subconsciously with solemn expressions.
They got into a formation and stood atop the city walls in silence, and held their breaths as the skeletons’ shuffling noises became louder.
Madara’s undead army finally appeared one by one, emerging past the swirling fog.
A few of Raban’s close subordinates stood behind him, including a few wizards. They were the ‘brains’ of the mercenaries, in charge of handling the strategies and tactics used. They were hesitant whether this battle was worth fighting for. The largest reason was not to offend the young noble, but when they saw the skeletons appearing like a tidal wave, they drew in a cold breath.
Madara. A blooming rose with all its brilliance and thorns in the darkness. It was an irresistible aura like the scent of death visiting upon one’s eventual demise—
“Commander?” A wizard with a pale-looking face asked quietly under his hood.
Raban did not answer.
“Commander, the number of undead enemies appears to be at least a few thousands,” He said: “Our total numbers with the stray sellswords around us are less than two hundred. These sellswords are also men who can hardly be trusted, even more so for that noble. Are we truly going to fight to our deaths for a single promise made to him? Even if all our brothers are to meet their demise?”
“And where are we to run to if we flee?” Raban turned around and glanced coolly at him: “I am far more familiar with the undead than you are. This city is already beset with the undead. I have learned my lesson in Karsuk. Never guess how many undead there are because their numbers far surpass your imagination.”
His eyes went back to the scenery: “However, while their numbers are indeed numerous, they are skeletons which are raised from the graves recently. If we hold our position till daylight comes they will fall back.”
Raban raised his hand and interrupted the wizard: “Our only hope lies with that young noble. Two Gold-ranked fighters are enough to lead us out of this siege. Prepare your magic signals. Tell him he has two hours, the Firebrand mercenaries will not retreat even unto our deaths—”
He yelled to another person: “Raise our Warflags, even if we are going to face death itself, I want to see them flying in the dawn—”
He spat onto the ground. He was confident of what he knew about Brendel’s plan: “Since that young noble wants me to defend this position till dawn breaks, it means that he has a miracle up his sleeves. I want to see how the first light of dawn breaks this impossible darkness.”
[If he’s capable of doing it I don’t even mind giving up my position.]
The wizards glanced at each other with troubled looks. There were two hours left before dawn broke.
============ Medissa’s POV ===========
Medissa’s movements have stopped moving. Her brows were knitted together as she shifted the lance in her hands. Every nerve in her body was on alert as she glared at the undead general. There was a pair of silver-colored scales woven onto his black robes, and his body gave out a chilling dread about him.
She did not know what he meant exactly by the two words. Before the Wise Kings ruled in the old eras, there was a mythical legend of a heroic knight leading a group of men and women out of Mother Marsha’s protection, defeated the entity known as the ‘Final Calamity,’ The Twilight Dragon, which marked the beginning of the Era of Chaos.
Ancestral Citizens— this title was given to the men and women of varying races who fought the Twilight Dragon.
The Golden Lineage had all but died out, with the exception of the Dragon race, becoming mere legends. The Silver Lineage was the proud existences in the Era of Chaos, but they were nearly wiped out in the battle against the the Dragon of Darkness. Most of these races had already disappeared or became obscure existences.
How could an Ancestral Citizen, an existence as old as the Golden Lineage still be around?
[Unless my Lord is a dragon.]
The Elven Princess immediately shook her head. Even a new-born dragon would not be as weak as her Lord, she thought, before she suddenly blushed and felt as though she had slighted him. She quickly apologized in her heart and refuted his words: “What nonsense are you spouting?”
Iamas’s eyes suddenly lit up with golden flames behind his mask. He was holding on to his scythe without moving but that strange glint made her feel slightly odd, and she hurriedly blinked. She was afraid she was being charmed, but his response was an echoing laughter:
“My words are exactly what they meant, and you understand it well.”
“Stop your lies!” Medissa glanced at her surroundings. The strength of the Undead General in front of her was far beyond her imagination, and she had to act carefully.
However, once she stopped moving, the mercenaries’ assault had also started to stagnate. She could not make a decision whether she should ask Brendel for reinforcements. There was a thick layer of smoke and dust forming over the location where Kabias and Brendel had fought, and she did not know what was happening there.
She was afraid of distracting him in his fight.
But this stalemate would not be in her favor if the undead general fought back against the mercenaries. She bit her faint silver lips and tried to delay for time: “The Golden Lineage is lost to the ages. There are no Ancestral Citizens, save for the dragons, left walking in this continent.”
Iamas gave a faint smile with a calm reply: “Indeed. The citizens of the Golden Lineage are considered Ancestral Citizens, but young Elven child, you forget there is the existence of the ‘Great Fool.’”
She could not help but laugh at the impossible idea: “The Dragon of Darkness? That’s far too funny. You believe my Lord is the Dragon of Darkness? Is there a point to that lie? No one will believe it—”
“No at all,” Iamas shook his head: “But a legend runs in Madara. ‘The Master of Darkness will return, its eyes sees through hearts, its mind knowing all things.’ Surely you have heard of that legend? It’s the Black Prophecy of Miirna’s citizens after all. They are a sworn enemy of your race, is it not?”
“And what of it?”
“I have merely met a certain witch in Fortress Riedon,” Iamas said nonchalantly: “As you well know, the witches are sensitive to the Powers of Darkness compared to ordinary people.”
“And you have forgotten that the Dragon of Darkness is the greatest enemy of our race. Compared to the witches, we are far more familiar with the scent of Darkness. The Black Prophecy also has this passage: ‘The Darkness will be born from no mortals, and the Glorious Races will expire amongst the flames.’ My Lord is a human, a descendant of the King of Flames, Gatel. He is a descendant of the Glorious Races, do you deny that point?” (TL: Flagscream.)
“That is true.” Iamas raised his scythe and placed it over his shoulder, nodding.
“Stop trying to sow discord between us, undead. Who exactly are you?” Her opponent seemed to be satisfied with her attempts to delay the battle, and she started to become restless. Perhaps it was a trap after all, and he was waiting for reinforcements. She decided to attack him, and if she did not gain an advantage, she would request aid from Brendel.
“I already told you my name, Iamas. I am the Scales of War and the Judge of Fairness—”
The undead general placed one hand on his chest and bowed slightly.
“The inciter and instigator, you meant to say,” Medissa shouted as she raised her lance, but her opponent was even faster than she was. She had barely begun to urge her unicorn forward when he had already swung his scythe forward.
A dark beam of energy shot towards her.
She immediately shifted her unicorn’s direction, but the edge of the blast had reached her. Her armor pieces immediately exploded with light as they fended off the blow, causing a blast of powerful wind to spread in all directions. The mercenaries near her stumbled backward.
She released a soft groan as she received considerable damage from it.
“Your Soul Energy is very impressive. As expected from an Elven Spirit—”
Iamas raised his hand as he spoke. The squadron of Bonethorn Skeletons took out their bone spears and entered into an attacking stance. The mercenaries who had lost their footings were in no condition to defend against their strikes properly. Medissa, who was still trying to recover from the damage, instantly panicked when she realized the situation they were in.
“Stop—” She said through gritted teeth.
Iamas’s hand lowered mercilessly.
The air vibrated and whistled as rows of bone spears flew towards them, the noise echoing through the vicinity.
Her panic turned into determination.
“Ptyoona!” She roared in ancient Elven, as she released the spell ‘Spirit Wings.’
Her voice pierced through the entire battlefield, creating countless Soul Fire to emerge around her before it spread out with blinding speed into a gigantic pair of wings. A translucent web of crystalline hexagons filled up the entire street in the blink of an eye. The bone spears fell like rain from the sky smashed into the shield, reverberating loudly as they tried to force their way through, but it continued to hold up and ultimately turned them into ashes.
The mercenaries looked up in shock as the light brightened their faces, but they quickly realized they were saved.
Iamas looked on calmly, his golden irises shimmering: “An ancient technique from the Silver Elves—”
He smiled as he laid his scythe horizontally across his mount.
Medissa had no protection once the Soul Fire extended outwards—