Bud felt as if he had lost all strength once he saw Cale’s face.
All sorts of emotions roared inside him and the invisible baggage that had been weighing down on his shoulders seemed to disappear.
That was why he realized it.
‘…That baggage must have gone to Cale Henituse.’
He knew that the lighter his shoulders got, the heavier Cale's shoulders would become.
Bud subconsciously started to speak after realizing that fact.
“You shouldn’t be here. You shouldn't have come…….”
“What kind of nonsense is that? You told me to come. That was why I came quickly.”
Bud smiled as Cale grumbled at his comment. However, he quickly started to frown.
‘…He doesn’t look good.’
He didn’t know what had happened in the Molden Kingdom, but Cale did not look good.
The usually pale punk was even paler than usual and he seemed to have bled because there was dry blood around his mouth.
As for his clothes…
He looked as if he had been rolling around a mountain on his own as his hair and clothes had leaves and grass in it.
Bud’s gaze headed toward Choi Han.
‘Choi Han looks fine.’
Choi Han was clean.
Anybody looking at the two of them would think that Choi Han had taken a walk while Cale had barely managed to make it out of an emergency evacuation.
However, the two of them must have moved together.
Bud’s heart was pained even more as he realized that fact.
‘…He really must be lacking in stamina.’
He could not compare the clean Choi Han to Cale whose physique was the only thing that seemed fine.
Bud was thinking deeply in this short amount of time.
‘Why is he like this?’
On the other hand, Cale looked toward Bud with a confused expression before looking around.
His expression remained the same, but his gaze was slowly getting sharper.
‘…Nobody looks okay.’
Cale felt pained as he observed the state of his allies. Bud noticed Cale was looking at the allies behind him and quickly started to speak.
“We’re fine, you punk.”
“Aren't you a bit too relaxed?”
Bud and the enemy.
Both of them had spoken at the same time while looking at Cale’s expression.
Cale who had turned back toward Bud started to speak.
“Fine my ass.”
Who would believe it when Bud was saying that while looking like shit?
Cale's insides were twisting and there was nothing he liked about the current situation.
His gaze headed toward the center of the allied formation behind the shields.
He couldn't see inside, but Cale had seen Glenn Poeff and the other injured members moving to the center while he was hiding behind the tree.
All of that had been clearly recorded by his eyes.
It had happened on its own.
Bud wet his lips with his tongue before whispering nervously to Cale who leisurely walked to the center of the open area.
“They’re really strong.”
‘Cale, you don't know how strong they are.’
Bud opened his mouth to tell Cale about them.
However, Cale responded brusquely first.
Bud was about to respond but could not do so because Choi Han shoved something toward him.
He was selfish and crude but someone who thoroughly took care of his subordinates.
“Yes, yes sir. I am alive.”
The Rat named Pan smiled in an extremely bootlicking way.
Bud’s gaze sank.
The Rat Pan.
This light-looking bastard knew more things than anyone else. Although his memory could not compare to Cale's memory, it was still much greater than the average person's memory.
He was like a ghost when it came to recognizing strong individuals and using the information he had to determine their identities.
It was because, in addition to being the leader of the Ranger Brigade, he was the number one disciple of the person who was responsible for maintaining the Mercenaries Guild's Directory with the Mercenary King.
The Directory that recorded all strong individuals. He was someone who knew the system they used for those records.
“…Leader-nim. I told them everything I know.”
Pan answered as he lowered his gaze. He then whispered in a quieter voice.
It was only loud enough for Bud and Choi Han to hear.
“I managed to hide a few of the punks.”
Bud’s eyes opened wide.
Bud looked toward Choi Han because he could not believe it. Choi Han nodded his head and quietly added on.
"We sent someone to check the location Mr. Pan mentioned. So, please tell the injured to wait a little longer.”
Bud’s gaze headed back to Pan who started to speak with a sad expression on his face.
“I'm sorry I couldn't save all of them.”
“You…you little punk! Why are you apologizing for that?!”
More members of the Ranger Brigade were alive.
That fact made Bud emotional.
It was at that moment.
“Looks like the head of the rats that ran away was still alive.”
Bud heard the voice of the Dark Elf that had herded Sorros’s side over here.
He had a peculiar grey bow in his hand as he looked at the Rat Pan before turning toward Cale.
“I'm sure that Rat bastard told you about our forces. How can you stand there with such confidence even with that knowledge?”
Choi Han’s started to frown as he listened.
On the other hand, Cale was stoic.
‘He really looks curious.’
The old Dark Elf with white hair was not mocking him.
He was asking because he really was curious.
The information Pan gave him flew across his mind in the short moment he looked at the Dark Elf.
‘You haven’t met with leader Bud yet? The leader should have been able to tell the identities of the enemies based on their scents.’
‘Anyway, I will give you the information I am certain about, sir!’
Pan had reported without stopping while being carried by Choi Han.
‘The enemies that the Ranger Brigade discovered consisted of four battalions.’
‘The second largest of those battalions is the Dark Elves battalion and they are all amazing archers and-’
Cale started to speak.
“Did he say bizarre Elemental arts?”
That was what Pan had said.
They seemed to be handling Elementals because they were Dark Elves, but they did not seem normal.
The top's whip in Cale's hand started to vibrate.
‘…Chaos, destruction. The enemy Elementals are in the Forest right now. But something is weird.’
‘The allied Elementals can’t say anything because they are too busy shaking in fear!’
What kind of Elemental could it be that other Elementals were so afraid?
‘Chaos, destruction, Cale! I heard it! The enemy Elementals…! They are E, Elementals that e, eat other Elementals! S, such terrible Elementals!’
Cale’s eyes started to sparkle.
‘They apparently get stronger the more Elementals they eat! Chaos, destruction, extreme anger! I am extremely angry! No such Elementals are by the World Tree-nim's side! Who are they?!’
It was at that moment.
“Count! You can step back.”
The person waving the fan stepped forward.
Cale recalled something else Pan told him.
‘Ah, based on what I heard as we were running away, those bastards seem to have a hierarchy!’
Cale made eye contact with the man with the fan.
“Hooo. It’s my pleasure to meet the famous Cale Henituse.”
Cale pointed a finger back at him.
“You are a Marquis.”
The man’s eyebrows twitched.
However, Cale was no longer looking at him as he pointed at the Dark Elf.
“You're a Count.”
He then pointed to the person who remained in the shadow of the forest without coming into the open area.
“You, I don’t know your rank. But you are the bloodsucker.”
The person in the shadows started to smile. He could see pearly white teeth through their cold smile.
“What? He sucks blood? Is he a Vampire?”
Bud gasped in shock.
There was a scent that had been covered by the thick scent of the Dark Elves.
He had never smelled this scent before.
“Yes, sir! Leader! He is a Vampire! T, those bastards-!”
Pan could not finish his sentence. It was because he didn't have the confidence to tell Bud.
However, Cale had heard everything.
‘There seems to be a Vampire! I found the corpse of one of our brigade members and there was no blood left in the corpse.’
Pan's eyes had turned red as he held back his tears to say that.
Cale then pointed at the black knight.
“You're a Count.”
Two Counts. One Marquis.
And a Vampire whose rank was unknown.
“…Man, I guess you guys have Dukes and a King as well.”
Cale laughed as he said that. However, Cale was confident that he was right.
‘They have a system.’
These bastards had some sort of system and noble ranks that Cale had no way of knowing.
The woman on the horse stepped forward.
“Cale Henituse. Is there a need for you to know those things?”
The fan-wielding Marquis called out to tell her to stop, but the woman didn’t listen and turned her gaze elsewhere.
She was not looking at Cale.
The black knight took out her sword.
Her monotone voice then started to flow out.
“You swing an interesting sword.”
The tip of her sword was pointed at Choi Han.
Choi Han stared at her past the sword that was pointed at him. He also observed the black helmeted knights behind her. He couldn't even see their eyes because they were covered by their helmets.
Pan had been shaking as he told something else to Cale.
‘They also have a Knights Brigade! They are on horses and the forest terrain did not hinder them at all! A member of the Ranger Brigade who was a high-grade sword expert was killed in a single slash by one of those knights… They are strong. They are very strong. Their sword art is different than those on the Eastern and Western continents.’
A high-grade sword expert. Someone who can kill a person at that level in a single attack had to be at least a sword master.
But that was not the black knight but one of her subordinates.
‘…I can't feel anything.’
The problem was that Choi Han could not determine the woman nor her black Knights Brigade’s levels of strength.
He had never met such an opponent when facing someone who uses a sword.
Choi Han became nervous.
He could see the black knight start to smile at him at that moment.
“I’ve heard a lot about it, but I didn't believe that your aura’s attribute would be despair. I've never seen a human with such an attribute.”
A cold smile appeared on her face.
“Other than me.”
Choi Han's eyes opened wide.
‘…Does that black knight have an aura with the despair attribute too?’
She added on while looking at the shocked Choi Han.
“No. Should I say the me who was human?”
It happened as Cale’s eyes clouded over.
The Marquis with the fan quietly ordered.
“Sure. That swordsman is going to be my prey anyway.”
She shrugged her shoulders and stepped back.
Cale’s gaze headed back to the person with the fan.
Pan had said the following about that man.
‘He seemed to be the leader! He also used a power that was difficult to determine! He is strong. He is very strong.’
Pan had said he was strong.
He had said that this man was very strong.
It should be accurate because Pan, who had learned all of the records of the Directory, had said it.
He heard Bud’s voice behind him.
“I can't determine the identity of his power, but it is strong. It is stronger than Eruhaben-nim’s magic.”
‘Stronger than an ancient Dragon?’
Cale’s expression was still calm but he could feel his hand grabbing on the top's whip start to sweat.
The power gathering on top of the Marquis with the fan was getting stronger.
“How about you stop pretending to be relaxed?”
Cale responded after the Marquis smiled and asked.
“I'm not pretending to be relaxed.”
He was not relaxed at all.
An archer Dark Elf who could control an Elemental that eats other Elementals.
In addition, someone he presumed to be a Vampire. Furthermore, they could not determine the number of subordinates the Vampire had.
There was also the assassins from Arm whose numbers were so large that they could cover the entire mountain.
Not to mention, there was the skilled black Knights Brigade on their horses.
And finally, the man with the fan whose powers were supposedly stronger than Eruhaben’s magic.
‘There’s not enough.’
Cale thought about the people he brought with him as well as the number of allies in the open area.
They were severely lacking in numbers and strength.
Furthermore, this place was close to Arm’s second secret base, so it was as if they were in the White Star’s front yard.
More enemies might appear at any moment.
‘I was too complacent.’
He had come here without thinking much about it.
Cale’s gaze slowly started to sink.
The Marquis waved his fan as he started to speak.
“We were waiting for you.”
The large orb on top of the man became bigger every time he waved the fan.
‘Do I need to take that fan away?’
The Marquis continued to speak as Cale had that thought.
“The Molden Kingdom, the area around the Lake of Despair, the Roan Kingdom. And, this location.”
Cale’s expression stiffened.
The Marquis started to smile even more while looking at Cale’s stiff expression.
"There are battles that happened, are currently happening, or will soon happen in a total of four locations. We did that on purpose.”
He closed his fan.
He then pointed the tip of the fan toward Cale.
“We did that so that you would end up here with your allies spread out in multiple locations.”
The orb above the Marquis started to shake more and cause ripples in the air around it.
What could this power be?
A faint silver light started to gather around Cale at the same time.
Bud looked at him and started to speak.
“Gather together right now! Hold up your shields properly!”
“Hide this punk, Pan, inside as well!”
Bud almost threw Pan into the formation before standing next to Cale and channeling his aura.
"Bud, step back.”
“Hey! You're trying to do it alone?!”
Cale motioned to Bud with his eyes to step back. Bud got upset at Cale’s attitude. However, he soon felt someone pulling him.
It was Choi Han.
He heard Marquis’s voice at that moment.
“Am I seeing that silver shield? I'm thrilled that I can see such a famous power.”
The gathered power started to shake differently.
The orb turned grey and started to become more violent.
He heard the Super Rock’s voice.
It was a power that even the Super Rock who had lived during Ancient Times had never seen.
That meant that this was a new power that had not been by the ancient White Star’s side but was next to the current White Star.
‘What could it be?’
Cale could feel his heart beating as he questioned what it could be.
He felt an unknown source of fear coming from that power. It was a power that made him feel repulsion and fear.
Those things made him think of something, but Cale didn’t have time to determine what that something could be.
The Marquis smiled and resumed speaking.
“Now that the battue has finished…”
Hundreds of arrows sparkled from the forest surrounding the open area.
Clang, clang, clang!
The black Knights Brigade took out their swords and the horses pounded the ground with their hooves.
The Marquis looked at all of this and continued to speak.
The battue has finished.
Because of that…
“It's time to hunt.”
Cale's heart started to beat wildly.
The Marquis flinched after hearing an unexpected noise.
Something quickly spread out toward the open area at that moment.
It was a white fog.
Bud’s eyes clouded over as he turned toward Cale after seeing the fog.
He knew that the Cats On and Hong were responsible for it.
He thought about the people who had fought alongside him within the fog when they took down Arm’s first secret base.
The Molan household had fought with them.
They were allies.
Bud was excited at that fact before he quickly started to frown again.
It was not enough.
Forget being victorious, this was not even enough to give them an opening to escape.
‘…We need to at least run away if we can’t defeat them!’
The enemies noticed this as well.
The Marquis swiped at the fog with his baggy sleeves and started to speak.
“Hmm… Are you planning on using battue on us after we used battue on you? Do you think that is doable with just this much strength?”
“You're right. It’s not enough.”
It was at that moment.
They heard a Cat’s sharp meow before something covered in fog quickly jumped across the trees and headed toward Cale.
Bud thought it was On. On was the only one who would do that.
The old Dark Elf raised his hand at the same time.
Sorros started to shout at the same time as well.
“Fire at the archers! Hit their arrows!”
Sorros and the old man made eye contact.
The Dark Elves and Elves instantly launched their arrows at each other.
In that short moment…
“On! Why did you come he-!”
Cale shouted while frowning…
He then heard a voice inside the bundle of fog.
Choi Han and Bud’s expressions changed.
It was a familiar voice.
It was the black Dragon.
Bud could hear Choi Han mumble at that moment.
Bud could see the energy in Choi Han’s gaze.
Bud’s heart started to beat wildly again.
‘They planned something!’
He looked at Cale.
Raon’s voice echoed in Cale’s mind.
Cale had quickly written something on a piece of paper after hearing Pan's story and asked a Wind Elemental to deliver it to Raon.
Cale licked his lips with his tongue.
He slowly raised his head as he addressed the enemies.
“…My group is indeed split apart due to your actions.”
The Marquis had said that they wanted to split Cale’s group up.
The Lake of Despair. The Molden Kingdom. The Roan Kingdom. And, this location.
As he mentioned, Cale’s allies, his forces, were split up.
But you see…
“I have allies in many places.”
Two people fell from the sky.
Their speed was quick but safe thanks to Raon's magic.
Cale looked down again.
He recalled what Pan had told him.
‘Anyway, they all seem to use dead mana at their foundation! It’s as if they all have the darkness attribute!’
The moment Cale heard the Rat’s explanation… He thought about two specific people while realizing something.
Why had Arm tried to kill Hannah who was a sword master? He finally understood why they had tried so hard to kill Hannah's brother Jack.
Cale heard light footsteps behind him.
The reason Cale had stood at the center of the open area…
The reason he had dragged things out as long as possible…
It was because he was waiting for Raon to bring two people over.
Raon shouted brightly while inside the bundle of fog.
He heard a rough noise behind his back this time.
He soon heard a voice.
“Long time no see. Young master-nim.”
“I'm here too.”
Saint Jack and Hannah who had a scabbard on her back. The two of them stepped forward from behind Cale.
The siblings who could not even touch one another looked quite similar as they walked.
Bud mumbled as he watched.
“… The sun.”
The Sun God had given the siblings extreme healing abilities as well as a divine item, a sword, to fight.
Bud started to speak.
‘…The natural enemy of the darkness attribute.”
Yes, that was the reason he had brought them over.
The corners of Cale’s lips twisted up.
‘Here, I brought your natural enemies over.’
He started to smile toward the enemies.