Castle Leona was at least 2.5 times the size of the Henituse Castle.
People could see a black wave rushing toward them through the loud explosions.
Caro Kingdom’s crown prince Valentino felt fear as he looked at that black liquid.
A land covered by dead mana.
Nothing would be able to grow on such a land.
Any soldier who even touches dead mana would die.
However, the word that came out of his mouth was something else.
Tens of the small ships crashed into the shield.
The ground was rumbling.
It then caused the castle walls to shake as well.
However, there was an existence that was not shaking.
Valentino started to speak.
“…It looks like we can deactivate our shield.”
It felt as if another mountain had appeared in front of Castle Leona. However, that was a shield and not a mountain.
It was a silver shield with the crest of a heart. That large shield was defending the front of Castle Leona from everything. The silver light was so thick that it looked as if multiple layers of shields were overlapping each other.
Of course, Raon's voice was going off in Cale's mind at that moment.
Cale listened to the six-years-old Dragon's excited voice as he made just a faint shield underneath Raon's sturdy silver shield.
His shield was not very strong as he had to create an extremely large shield this time. The shield had gotten stronger than before, however, it was not strong enough to defend the entire castle.
‘Dragons really are the best.’
Raon’s four-layer silver shield allowed Cale's shield to shine brighter than ever.
The Indomitable Alliance and the Empire’s bastards had created three times the strength of the shield they had seen in the Henituse territory's battle. Unlike the Dragon Slayer’s Sword of Disasters which struck Cale’s shield at a single point, this plan was to have multiple bombs explode in numerous locations at once.
They expected that this would be too strong for Cale to handle. They thought it would be able to create a gap or at least buy them some time.
However, Cale had a young Dragon whose strength would not be matched by anything other than a Dragon Slayer. He had a satisfied smile on his face.
Crown prince Valentino who had no idea about this felt both relief and fear.
‘Heroes are people who change history.’
They would be people who change the course of the continent through their victories. Only those people received the title of ‘heroes.’
Commander Cale had told Valentino that he had brought heroes with him. In that case, who was the person that was leading these heroes?
He came back to his senses after hearing someone calling for him. He then gave the general an order.
“Immediately go find the priests! Make sure you get every single one of the light-affinity priests!”
The enemy was running away after flooding the land with dead mana.
They needed to create a small path through the dead mana to chase after them. In order to do that, they needed the strength of the light-affinity churches, especially the Church of the Sun God. They had shown this ‘path of the sun’ in the past when they got rid of the necromancers. They needed this path made of divine power.
The crown prince had noticed as well. He could tell that the enemy was not running away and that they were heading for the northern shores. It was not hard to decipher that.
That was why they could not let the enemy go. They needed to prevent them from reaching the northern shores.
If they couldn’t stop them, they needed to at least hold them back as long as possible.
The explosions started to end as the rumbling died down. The silver shield started to become dimmer as well.
He subconsciously groaned.
The land was dyed black.
A sticky black liquid covered the area, making it appear as if a black swamp had been created. Above that swamp were pieces of the destroyed ships as well as the enemy soldiers that were dying from the explosion and dead mana.
“…A, a nightmare-”
Crown prince Valentino turned his gaze back toward the ledge of the castle wall. He could see the young soldier that was shaking while saying this was a nightmare. Since the Caro Kingdom had urgently drafted soldiers, some of them were only fifteen years of age.
Such a sight was showing them the true despair of war.
Valentino started to shake while thinking about how the Indomitable Alliance could leave their soldiers behind to go kill some other people.
He felt a sense of fear.
‘Do I need to send my soldiers to death like this to win as well?’
This was crown prince Valentino’s first war as well.
However, he needed to focus as he was the crown prince. This was the same for the rest of the Caro Kingdom's leaders by his side.
They needed to fight in order to not become like that.
He heard the chief speaking next to him.
“Your highness, we cannot let the enemy go.”
The enemy ships were quickly boarding the Bears, soldiers, and knights in order to depart. There were already tens of ships that had left the shore.
The Caro Kingdom's commander started to speak as well.
“We need to hurry. It will be difficult to get past the debris and the enemy soldiers even if the priests managed to get rid of the dead mana.”
The commander was correct. The dead mana was an obstacle, however, debris from the destroyed ships and the enemy soldiers were also in their way.
“Priest! No, call the bishop now!”
The crown prince was looking for a priest as he gave an order to the communication mage.
“Connect me to the northern and southern towers!”
“Yes, your highness!”
At that moment, the crown prince could hear many people walking up the stone stairs.
He confirmed who they were before his expression turned brighter.
It was the priests. The priests of light-affinity that were assigned to Castle Leona were coming up with the bishop of the Church of the Sun God in the lead.
The crown prince was happy to even see the bishop who had made him angry during the strategy meeting. He quickly approached the bishop.
The bishop calmly bowed toward Valentino. However, Valentino had no time for such formalities as he grabbed the bishop's shoulders and quickly started to speak.
“Please create a path through the dead mana. I heard it was possible for priests with light-affinity. Please heed my request.”
“Of course we need to get rid of it. It is the dirty dead mana after all.”
The crown prince felt that the bishop who was responding smoothly was reliable at least for this moment.
The path of the sun.
It was the path the Church of the Sun God was said to have created over the land that was covered in dead mana when they went to rid the world of necromancers. The Holy Knights had walked down that path to the final battle with the necromancers.
One of the video communication devices connected at that moment.
The Mogoru Empire’s Duke Huten. The person who was responsible for the northern tower was connected first.
Valentino felt thankful after hearing that one sentence before quickly starting to speak.
“The priests will soon create a path through the dead mana. We cannot let the Indomitable Alliance go so I will need your help.”
It was the moment the Duke was about to respond. The bishop started to speak.
“What is it, bishop?”
“It will take at least one month.”
Valentino could finally see the awkwardness in the bishop's gentle smile.
“We will need more reinforcements from back home to purify all of this dead mana. There are also a lot of preparations that need to get done, which is why we need at least one month.”
“…You are saying there is no way to make a path to chase after the enemies right now?”
“Ahem, that is indeed the case.”
Valentino started to frown as he responded back.
“What about the path of the sun?”
“We need a Saint in order to do that.”
That answer put Valentino at a loss for words. He stared at the bishop who was avoiding his gaze as well as the other priests who had their heads down before he finally managed to speak again.
“…Is it not possible to create at least a small path with divine power of light-affinity? Can't you burn dead mana with divine power?”
Valentino sounded desperate.
“We just need a small path. Just the tiniest of paths. Just enough for our knights to go through in a single-file line. We can only move a small number of knights with flight magic. Is it not possible?”
“Ahem, you see.”
The bishop hesitated for a moment. That made Valentino wonder what was going on.
It was at that moment. He heard Duke Huten's voice through the video communication device.
The gods did not let people use their powers for free. There was always a price to pay.
Crown prince Valentino finally understood why the priests were acting this way.
Duke Huten continued to speak.
The priests in the back started to frown every time Duke Huten spoke. Valentino and the others looked toward the priests. That was why none of them noticed the sneer on Duke Huten's face.
‘Nobody got hurt because Cale Henituse's shield was stronger than we expected.
But it is successful since we are able to prevent them from moving.
Even the Roan Kingdom’s necromancer can’t take care of this alone.’
There were too many enemies for the Roan Kingdom's magic attack or a few knights being moved with flight magic could handle.
Duke Huten quickly fixed his expression before once again looking as if he was seriously worried about the Caro Kingdom.
The bishop looked toward crown prince Valentino and started to speak.
"Ahem, it is difficult to take care of it immediately as there is a way to slowly and safely purify it. I ask for your understanding, your highness.”
“…But the enemy will kill the citizens and merchants up north if we let them go. And if those ships also have dead mana bombs on them…”
Crown prince Valentino could hear the enemy’s trumpets in the distance.
“The northern lands may be covered in dead mana as well.”
That would be extremely disastrous.
Honestly speaking, Valentino was hoping that the priests would sacrifice themselves just a bit. Duke Huten had said that they would not die. His selfish desire was for them to sacrifice just a bit.
“Is even a tiny path difficult? Since there are so many of you, can't you share the pain?”
However, the bishop pretended not to hear him.
He did not want to experience any type of pain. Why would he sacrifice himself when he wouldn’t be affected by the enemy going north?
“We can also slowly purify the land if the northern shores become infected as well. Shouldn’t we first prepare for the battle up north as quickly as possible?”
The bishop continued to speak.
“Ah, and even if you decide to give up on Castle Leona and head out, we will need some soldiers to complete the purification project. We also need some knights to protect the priests during the purification.”
The bishop was speaking as if Castle Leona was no longer able to be used for battle.
Valentino's expression visibly became stiffer.
“…Is that what you want to say right now?”
“I have no choice. The priests with light-affinity are the only ones who can complete the purification. Shouldn’t you protect us since we are such precious existences?”
The bishop's gentle smile became etched in Valentino's eyes.
The bishop was wrong.
There were too many errors in what the bishop was saying.
Although technically everything he said was correct, the crown prince felt as if he was wrong.
However, he could not lash out or punish them right now. There was no way to get rid of the dead mana without them.
He could also continue to hear the enemy’s trumpet. The laughter of the Bear from earlier rang inside his head again like a hallucination.
Escape, no, the enemy was moving to destroy somewhere else. Could he do nothing but watch them leave?
Crown prince Valentino and the leaders of the Caro Kingdom started to frown. They were also starting to get angry.
It was at that moment.
Some of the soldiers by the central tower started to gasp.
They could see someone stepping on the ledge to land on the castle wall. Crown prince Valentino’s expression changed. Some harsh words reached his ears at that moment.
“Just full of bullshit again.”
Commander Cale Henituse. He was the one who had just landed on the wall.
Valentino called out to Cale with a shocked expression. Cale approached Valentino and started to speak. He had his usual calm and confident expression on his face.
“I flew over right away with flight magic. I felt as if I should say it in person.”
‘Say what?’ What did he come here to say?
Valentino suddenly felt an odd sense of anticipation. He couldn’t explain it, but he felt as if this person whom he had not known for more than a few days would be able to take care of his problems.
He heard the bishop's voice at that moment.
“Are you saying that the fact that we are the only ones who can purify the dead mana is bullshit? Commander Cale, you dare to speak like that to us right-”
That angry voice could not finish his sentence.
“We will catch them.”
There was certainty in Cale's voice. Valentino followed Cale and looked outside the central tower. Over thirty ships had already started to move. They were headed north as they had all expected. The Bears had also now arrived back at shore and were slowly getting onto the ships.
It seemed impossible.
He heard Cale's voice again at that moment.
“All of the northern citizens and merchants will be killed if we let them go. I'm sure they have more dead mana bombs.”
It was what everybody else was thinking as well. However, this did not seem to provide any light to the darkness surrounding them right now.
However, Cale’s next words were something that nobody had heard before.
“Your highness, do you know the story of people running away into the Land of Death?”
‘The Land of Death?
Why is he suddenly talking about that right now?’
Valentino quietly observed Cale who seemed to be speaking about something completely unrelated. He listened because he didn't think Cale was the type to say something for no reason.
“They choose to head into the desert because it is difficult to survive in the territory due to the high tax rates. They run away to this desert that nobody is said to return from.”
“What? To the Land of Death? And did you say the citizens are running away because of high tax rates?”
Nobody had known about this. The crown prince subconsciously raised his voice.
He could see a smile appear on Cale's voice at that moment.
“But there are indeed people who manage to survive in the desert.”
‘Mary is one of those people as well.’
Cale did not say that part out loud. Mary was no longer a citizen of Caro Kingdom.
“Your highness, people who do not know about giving up are able to step on the darkness to stand back up.”
“We will catch them.”
Not know about giving up.
Those words were etched deep in the crown prince’s heart. At the same time, he could feel how Cale managed to be victorious in the northeast region's battles.
A commander who does not know about giving up.
His voice echoed through the top of the central tower.
“We will definitely catch them.”
The ground started to shake at that moment.
‘Is it the aftershock from the explosion?’ It was the moment Valentino thought that was the case.
The silver shield disappeared.
The crown prince and the Caro Kingdom's leaders could clearly see the shores with the setting sun now.
Crown prince Valentino's eyes opened wide.
There were still the ships at shore and the Bears heading to the ships.
There were also the sounds of the trumpets.
However, a different noise was present as well.
Tens of arrows made from wind were heading toward the Bears and the ships. They landed on their targets.
The sand by the shores shot up to the sky.
“W, what kind of attack is this?!”
Anxious voices and screams filled the shore. However, Valentino's gaze was focused on somewhere else.
Commander Cale Henituse. It was the location that Cale was staring at.
Cale was staring at the Land of Death.
“…T, they are-”
He saw something on the desert with the setting sun. He could see hordes of black moving across the red desert. Even from the distance, he could tell that their skin was as dark as black pearls.
Valentino couldn’t help but think of a race.
He had not seen them before, but there was only one such race in the Western continent.
“… Dark Elf?”
Cale was still looking at the Land of Death and the desert that was as red as blood.
“Dead mana is not an obstacle.”
The Dark Elves were crossing through the desert.
In front of them was the Dark Elf Tasha who was moving while being surrounded by wind. Many of the Dark Elves had arrows made by Wind Elementals above their heads.
Cale turned his head to look at the Caro Kingdom's people, as well as Duke Huten who was still visible through the video communication device.
“The Roan Kingdom's forces are finally all here.”
Cale felt the rumbling ground and became certain.
"The enemy will not manage to escape.”