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Chapter 281 – Revenge (5)
The zombies were moving bodies with rotting flesh. They had lost the image of humans and moved on all fours like beasts. Their souls were forcefully pulled out of their bodies and turned into banshees.
The crowd of undead emerged from the darkness of Dofrun Castle. This was the most famous area of black magic, the remnants of death made from necromancy.
“Warlocks? Why are they here…?”
“These bastards are like cockroaches!”
The reactions of the confused magicians varied. Some were puzzled, and others felt indignant. However, there was one thing in common—no one welcomed the appearance of a warlock.
The Magic Society declared that black magic was evil.
People who weren’t familiar with it thought it was just different attributes, but magic and black magic didn’t have anything in common except their foundations. They were both the exclusive property of humans and exercised power based on the circles. It was a unique intersection of authentic magic and black magic.
To briefly summarize, black magic was the power to deny this world. The mark that symbolized black magic was the reverse pentagram, and the warlocks were split into five factions.
One faction was of necromancy, a spell that broke the circle of life and death. Another was of domination magic that made the body and soul submit. There was also a faction that called forces from outside of this world. Aside from those, there were Chronos warlocks and those who worshipped demons.
They made up the five corners of the reverse pentagram. Among them, necromancy was the one that caused the most number of casualties. Necromancers would be targeted by the entire continent if discovered.
Anyone who saw the devastation of Dofrun Castle would think this decision was valid.
“They’re coming!” The scream was the signal for the curtain of slaughter to rise.
Kieeeeeeek-! Terrible screams! The banshee’s cry was an acoustic weapon that shook the soul itself. The magicians knew this and prepared sound-proofing magic, but that wasn’t possible for the Shadow Knights.
Understandably, the first victims appeared in the Andras camp.
There were screams as long nails from a ghoul were shoved into a crack in a helmet. The eyes of a knight were pierced deeply. Simultaneously, the poison from the ghoul’s fingernails quickly burned through the knight’s optic nerves.
The broken Shadow Knight fell to the ground.
“Be vigilant! Circulate aura through your entire body! Otherwise, you will be affected by that scream!”
“Switch to protective magic! Maintain the defensive posture while moving back!”
However, the people of the Andras Kingdom weren’t fools. They used the one casualty as a reference and concentrated on protecting their troops, rather than worrying about Meltor. It was clearly the correct judgment, and the Shadow Knights faithfully followed the command.
The undead treated all living beings as targets, so Meltor would be attacked as well. The Meltor unit came to the same conclusion and waited. They were expecting the ugly deaths to come rushing toward them.
Soon after, the moment came. The zombies’ yellow teeth, the ghoul’s poisonous nails, and the banshees’ screams…
However, there was something wrong with the scene as the undead all headed in one direction.
Someone expressed everyone’s feelings.
“W-What, these bastards!”
“Don’t panic! Don’t let your breathing be disturbed!”
“Why are they only aiming at us?!”
The undead flocked toward where the Andras knights were.
There were some undead in the area near Meltor, but it didn’t compare to the number surrounding the Shadow Knights. In a sense, it was a great opportunity. However, Meltor suffered from the unfathomable situation and couldn’t move.
‘Why are the undead leaving us alone?’
‘Why aren’t they attacking us?’
The war mages panicked at this bizarre scene while the elves stood by idly. The leaders of both the Meltor and Andras groups were also confused.
“No, what is this all of a sudden?”
The undead suddenly appeared in the middle of the city and were only attacking the Andras side? There was no one who would’ve predicted this, even if the best strategies of the continent were brought together.
In the end, Zest gave up on understanding and his mouth fell open. Theodore thought it was ludicrous despite it benefiting him. He didn’t have a good relationship with warlocks, so why would they help him and Meltor?
‘…I don’t know.’
There wasn’t enough evidence to reach a conclusion. Theodore worried about this situation and looked around.
His unit had a great advantage once the undead were added. He didn’t know why, but it was clear that they were benefiting from it. If dozens of Shadow Knights and the priests protecting them were killed, then Theodore’s purpose of coming to Dofrun was over.
Despite this, Theodore didn’t like this option.
‘I don’t know the intentions of this warlock, and it is risky to stay here.’
He couldn’t judge this as assistance. Theodore focused on the still disturbed Zest while thinking of the necromancer hiding somewhere in the city.
However, someone moved before Zest and Theodore.
“These people! You are the messengers who have called these demons!” Cardinal Antonio, an elderly man who came from the Lairon Kingdom in the far north, shouted with a rough voice and pale face. “Sacrificing good people to use the power of demons! I am the seed of heaven that will punish you! If you repent now and give me your lives, you will only burn in the fires of purgatory for half a day!”
“…Excuse me Cardinal, what is the basis of your barking?”
“It is a revelation from God Lairon!”
“It is just nonsense.”
Theodore and Zest forgot to fight, as they listened to Antonio’s words and exchanged subtle looks. It was unclear if they should continue fighting. Their concentration was forcefully dispersed by this disturbance, and they couldn’t gather their power again thanks to the atmosphere. Theodore and Zest both struggled.
Then at that moment…
Theodore and Zest, one beat later than Cardinal Antonio, looked in the same direction with surprised expressions. On the roof of a mansion near where the two people were fighting, a black knight stood. It had a fiery and unearthly presence. Theodore had felt this empty feeling before in the duel trial.
It was a master level knight who was given life by the magic of death!
The death knight’s physical abilities were amplified several times. It didn’t feel pain, and its durability was close to immortality. Randolph had been the victor, but that was because the death knight had been unable to exert all of its powers at that time.
This death knight that appeared in the middle between Theodore and Zest wasn’t bound by any constraints.
“…Grrr…grr…” It couldn’t speak. The death knight made strange sounds while holding a sword in its hands.
A gray color aura rose from the blade. It was a color that living humans couldn’t have. It couldn’t exert an Aura Ability, but a death knight’s aura was said to contain the power of death that decreased life. The blade was a sword of death that weathered flesh and bones.
If Zest allowed an attack from the death knight to pass through to him, it would be fatal.
“Shit. Do you really have nothing to do with this Kid?”
The killing intent was thoroughly directed toward Zest. Theodore sensed it and made a decision.
‘Okay, I’ve decided.’
The three fire blades behind his back were pointed in different directions as they let out a tremendous amount of magic power. One was aimed at Zest, and another at the stupid cardinal. The remaining one…
The fire swords shot like meteors across the night sky.
Theodore saw it the moment the sky and earth flashed.
‘Indeed, the attack power is superior.’
Zest wasn’t surprised at all and focused the power of space on cutting the sword. The empty space before him blocked the flaming sword and soon exploded. It was the ultimate ‘space cut’, a force that cut the space itself to create a new section.
It might be Zest’s space cut, but now it was used for Theodore’s benefit.
“…Well, that is unexpected.”
The surprising thing was that Antonio managed to cope with it, despite seeming incompetent.
The Golden Rays were the symbolic power of the Lairon Church, a power received from the god of the sun. Once it reached the stage of a cardinal, the output was at a level comparable to great magic. It seemed this wasn’t an exaggeration.
Infernal Blade was blocked. Antonio’s white clothing was blackened and he cursed crazily, “T-These guys! I will kill all of the demons’ puppets!”
The reason was simple.
“Attacking the children of Lairon! This is a sin that can’t be forgiven, even if they are killed thousands of times!”
The third Infernal Blade aimed for the priests behind the Shadow Knights.
Their protection was temporarily disrupted by the undead raid, so this magic literally caused a catastrophe. The senior priests and a few cardinal candidates were turned to ashes, leaving only a few survivors.
Even the legendary resurrection magic couldn’t revive them. There were several survivors because they had used divine power to create a shield in the middle. In any case, the purpose of his unit had been achieved.
‘I don’t think they can chase after us in this mess.’
Theodore thought about it and looked around. The unit members had confidence in their eyes like they could jump into the battlefield at once. It was a situation where the knights would surely be annihilated by the undead while the group of priests had almost collapsed, greatly reducing the duration of combat.
Theodore raised his voice and commanded the unit members, “All members, retreat out of the castle as quickly as possible!”
Theodore’s decision was firm, despite the war mages preparing to attack. Meltor’s detached unit retreated from Dofrun Castle which had become a mess.
* * *
“…Hrmm, there is no chase. As expected,” Theodore said, looking back at the castle as they reached the tunnel they had dug.
‘It is terrible, but I can’t deny that it is effective.’
It could be called the most fearful point of necromancy.
He didn’t know about low-level necromancers, but a high-level necromancer could use the undead to spread an infection. A human who was bitten by a zombie would become a zombie, while a soul drawn out by a banshee would turn into an evil spirit and become another banshee. Of course, there was a limit to the contagion. However, there was no shortage of targets in a land of blood and death.
If Zest’s sword were free, he would’ve suppressed the undead immediately. The problem was that it wasn’t possible.
“The death knight is a pretty big opponent.”
Theodore’s choice to hit and run was also because the death knight had appeared. It could threaten Zest and grab his ankle.
An operation utilizing the necromancy was only possible if Theodore was superior to Zest. The opponent’s power was likely to overtake him, so it was better for Theodore to retire after a modest gain.
The enemy of an enemy was a friend? This was different from that saying. It was common to stab that alliance in the back. As the saying from the East went, it was natural to defend yourself and never show your back to anyone.
Theodore was entering the tunnel last when his eyebrows twitched.
“Theo, aren’t you coming?” There were only two people left, so Sylvia spoke to Theodore in a comfortable tone.
Theodore replied with a smile, “Go first. I want to get some air.”
Sylvia looked at him with a strange expression. “Yes, understood. But are you sure you can’t get hurt? This is Andras territory, so more people can come.”
“I will follow you in 10 minutes. Until then, leave with the others.”
“Okay, I will believe in you. Then come slowly.”
Sylvia finally entered the tunnel. Her silver hair disappeared into the darkness, and Theodore paused for a while.
The rematch with the empire’s 2nd Sword, Zest Speitem…
It was before the real fight, but the suspense and excitement weren’t much different from the previous fight. The scales of life and death could tilt to one side during a battle. Now that hot heat cooled down…
“…Indeed,” Theodore said like he had known all along, “I felt your gaze when I came out of the castle. I didn’t feel any hostility, so I felt like we needed to talk.”
He turned, speaking the person behind him. Theodore was expecting to see an ugly warlock. The symbol of evil from the storybooks, the warlock…
What did the evil who wanted to bring about the end of the world look like?
“―Wh-at?” Theodore fell silent.
He was facing a woman with snow-white hair. As Theodore remained silent, the woman prostrating herself on the ground raised her head. “I sincerely congratulate you.”
The beautiful face was wet with tears. If he had to compare her to flowers, she was a lily. White clothes, white skin, and the water droplets that fell from her pale eyes…
She felt genuinely pleased and didn’t hide her joy.
White Knight Hipatia politely greeted her king, “I—the white rider, Hipatia—greet King Jerem, king of the end.”