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Chapter 126 – Suspicious Movements (1)
Their destination, which was the Avantan forest, was a long distance off, so the party wasn’t in a hurry. It wasn’t a destination they could reach in a short amount of time no matter how fast they traveled.
“The guide accurately told us about the other locations.”
“At this point int time, what seemed impossible seems possible now….”
Azell’s expression indicated that he was aware that he was talking about something far-fetched. Yuren grinned.
“Are you talking about the possibility of the guide being Carlos?”
“I’m having the same exact thought right now. The Dragon Demon General Reygus presumed that Carlos is still alive. Maybe, Carlos tricked the world to avoid public attention. What if he is hiding somewhere? On top of that, he might be sending his will to his descendant using magic.”
Azell’s expression turned complicated. Carlos was his closest and dearest friend. He had prepared all kinds of contingency plans for Azell’s eventual awakening, which would have happened after well after his death.
The possibility of him being alive evoked complicated thoughts in Azell’s mind. If he thought about it rationally, there was no way he was alive. However, what if he was alive?
‘It isn’t impossible. That is the scary part.’
If it was Carlos, it might be possible.
As a general concept, he thought about the possibility of Carlos becoming an Undead. He might have predicted the revival of Atein. He could have turned himself into an Undead to wait for Azell eventual awakening.
However, there was another possibility that could have been pursued. It was something that only Azell knew about.
‘If he went in hibernation like me…..’
At the latter stage of his life, what if Carlos put himself into a sleep induced by magic? What if he pa.s.sed the time by imitating the slumber of a Dragon?
He already experimented the method through Azell. Would it really have been impossible to think that Carlos used the same procedure on himself?
‘He might be using Yuren to lead me to him. If it’s him, it is possible.’
If he was still alive… No, it didn’t matter what method he used. He could be a dead corpse living on as an Undead… Azell wanted to meet him at all costs. He had a mountainous amount of topics he wanted discuss with Carlos.
When he thought about this possibility, he thought about the blame he had place on Carlos in the beginning. Why wasn’t he awoken at an earlier date? Why was the County of Karzark allowed to be destroyed? He had many questions.
However, he soon erased such thoughts. He knew Carlos had his reasons for making those decisions. Carlos was touted as being the greatest magician in history, but in the end, he was only a man. Even if he hadn’t pa.s.sed away, the historical events that occurred afterwards were inevitable. He wouldn’t have been able to stop the fall of the Nad.i.c.k Empire, and he wouldn’t have been able to stop the Plain of Darkness from using the Great Darkness, which had plunged the world into despair.
Azell knew Carlos would have have done his best. Azell trusted him, so there was no resentment in his heart. Azell just wanted to meet and converse with him again.
“The so called guide should just tell us all the locations at once. It is messing up our schedule.”
“We are in the enviable position of receiving presents, so it is a bit unreasonable to require such…..”
“I wanna say it anyways.”
After traveling for a week, they were getting close to the location described by Yuren.
The problem they were facing was the fact that this place was located at the border region of Bijes kingdom and the Iellos kingdom. Of course, even if the the border was tightly guarded, it would cause no trouble to Azell’s party. However….
“Why are they moving their troops? Did a war start?”
The army of the Bijes kingdom was moving towards the border. There were a lot of soldiers gathered. It was as if they were about to go to war. There was a foreboding feeling in the air.
The party was out of sight. They stood on standby as Kairen went out to scout on his own. After half the day pa.s.sed, he returned to report.
“First, our destination is close to the habitat of Dragons, so there won’t be too much problem in us getting there. The monsters might annoy us, but I don’t think we have to worry about us being confronted by the army of Bijes kingdom.”
“That is fortunate. However, by the look on your face, I’m guessing the situation is bad?”
“I thought this was just a political conflict between the two kingdoms, so I a.s.sumed this was a large-scale drill conducted as a show of force. However, from what I heard, the Iellos kingdom had already clashed with the Bijes kingdom several time. The situation seems to be getting worse…..”
“Didn’t you recently say that the two countries were on pretty good terms?”
“That was my understanding…. Still, this was all I could gather by piecing together the conversations between the soldiers.”
Kairen displayed the irritation he was feeling. He had to stealthily approach soldiers, and he had to stay hidden as he gathered the information. Then he had to pieced together the fragmented information. It was a method that required a lot of patience. This was also why there was a limit on the amount of information that could be gathered.
“We made a mistake. We should have gathered some information as we travelled here.”
Normally, travelers were very sensitive to the affairs of the world. They were careful in vetting a region before their travels. In the past, Kairen had traveled around the world, and he had been very cautious in choosing his route.
However, the current party was moving so fast that they hadn’t paid attention to what was occuring in the world. Unlike normal travelers, they were travelling at a speed where they brushed past kingdoms, so they had been neglectful in finding out the lay of the land.
Azell furrowed his brows.
“Mmmm. Even if they are starting a war, we probably shouldn’t interfere… We have to prioritize getting to our destination first.”
“That might be our best option.”
The party decided on what they would do. They avoided the army of the Bijes kingdom as they headed towards their destination. However, an unexpected situation was waiting for them.
They had already left behind the army of the Bijes kingdom, and they were about to cross the border when they heard a woman’s scream. Then the scream of many people rang out.
“What’s going on?”
The members of Azell’s party looked at each other. Then they immediately changed direction as they sped forward.
Fortresses weren’t the only settlements placed near the border between the Iellos kingdom and the Bijes kingdom. There were several towns scattered along the border. Even if border disputes occurred along the border, people refused to give up on settling on liveable lands. This was why towns had formed along the border.
The town named Patel was a good distance away from the border fortress, and it was a relative new town. The land was near the territory of Dragons, so there was a lot of monsters nearby. However, it was discovered that these lands were fertile. This was why this town was established even as blood was shed.
From time to time, they were still threatened by the monsters, so the people of the town were hardy. Their lord hadn’t given them much of a fighting force, but the overall quality of the men in the watch was quite good. This was because retired knights or soldiers took up the role of being instructors to the men of the watch.
However, they only thought of the monsters as their enemies. This was why they were unexpectedly unprepared for an attack from human-led forces.
A piercing scream ripped through the air.
It was dark within the town. The armed figures had ambushed the town without any warning. They were putting out any fire they ran across.
In the beginning, the enemies had conducted a quiet raid. The young men on guard duty had been careless. This didn’t mean they were shirking their duties. However, monsters and demonic beasts didn’t sneak up on their opponents. This was why they could relax a little bit on their guard duty. They would be able to see the threat coming from across the darkness.
However, if their enemies were humans, it was an entirely different story. The enemy forces hid their presence, and in a flash, they dispatched the guards. They opened the door to the stockade, and they shot arrows at the townspeople. It didn’t matter, who was shot. They were indiscriminately shooting in all directions, and this was why there weren’t that many casualties. They were causing a panic.
When everyone realized something was wrong, the enemies had already infiltrated into the town. The human troops were at the head, and roaring orcs followed behind them. They cut down all the townspeople in sight.
“You b.a.s.t.a.r.ds! What’s your purpose of doing this!”
The retired old knight named Neals was an instructor for the watch. He had been drinking alcohol with his friends in the pub, so he was late in coming out with his sword. He was retired, but he was a knight trained in the Spirit Order. He cut into the Orcs and the humans slaughtering the townspeople.
The enemies didn’t respond to Neals. They kept attacking within the chaos.
Neals almost lost his life twice. Even if he was trained in the Spirit Order, it was difficult to fight in this degree of darkness. On the other hand, his enemies were attacking Neals with pinpoint accuracy. They were all more skilled than Neals. His palms felt as if it was about to rip open when their swords clashed.
In the end, a fatal opening was revealed when five of the enemies attacked him. Neals didn’t simply die on the spot, because his comrade came to his defense.
Dillon, who was an instructor alongside Neals, stabbed with his spear to deter the attack of the enemies. Neals quickly retreated backwards as he caught his breath.
“s.h.i.t. Who are these b.a.s.t.a.r.ds?”
“This isn’t good. I have no idea where these Orcs came from….”
As they fought, screams emanated from various locations. The guards and the men of the watch were caught with their pants down, so they were in disarray. Moreover, the enemy forces were killing every civilian they came across. As time pa.s.sed, the amount of loss was s...o...b..lling.
“What happened to the signal flare?”
“We haven’t seen it. I think they were overtaken first.”
The garrison possessed a flare made by an alchemist. It was supposed to be shot up into the air when they were facing an opponent they couldn’t handle. It was an item that would have called for help. A significant amount of time had pa.s.sed, but the flare hadn’t been launched.
Neals’ blood was curdling. Why weren’t they using fire arrows if they wanted to kill all the townspeople? Were they trying to avoid detection?
‘We have to notify someone….’
They would all die if things kept going like this. No matter how he viewed this situation there was no hope in sight. Suddenly, he could only see darkness.
He had known something was wrong. Even if he was working together with Dillon, they should have been cut down already. Their enemies were much more skilled than them. So he hadn’t understood why they weren’t pressing forward. Now he knew they had been waiting for the support of a magician.
‘We don’t stand a chance. If a magician is here, we….’
He wasn’t able to end the thread of his thought. He felt something split open his body, and he felt pain wash over him.
Dillon’s desperate yell could be heard. Neals wanted to tell Dillon to run, but words failed to come out. Moreover…..!
“Their tactics are getting dirtier with each pa.s.sing day.”
He could hear an icy voice. As he died, Neals could hear the shocked voice of Dillon.
“W…who are you?”
It was a relief. Dillon wasn’t dead. As he felt relief, Neals’ consciousness fell into the darkness.