Chapter 336: The Silver-Rimmed Ultramarine
His voice, heard up close, seemed terribly calm. It was a voice inappropriate of a man of old age, yet it belonged to such a man. In a sense, the rumors were true when it came to judge appearances.
「Are those shadows our enemy? They look enthusiastic on the dead snow. 」
The man, who was a Belfein mercenary and Vestaline’s adjutant, spoke with that voice and pointed his finger. His heart was sluggish and pounding, and his breathing was naturally heavy.
Although there was still some distance between the two parties, there were already 2,000 soldiers gathering in the dead snow.
On the other hand, 300 people stood inside Prison Beulah. Even though they had a fortress called prison, the number of soldiers was hardly enough to fight that many.
The hand pointing at the enemy’s shadows trembled unconsciously. This man was a ruthless mercenary. He had been on the battlefield many times before, and death had grazed him very close to his chest. Many of his comrades-in-arms, whom he had been chatting with until just now, died beside him.
However, this was a different kind of terror.
There was fear of an overwhelming number of enemies approaching with weapons in order to kill them. A shiver that slowly strangled the neck with the sound of hooves.
The man certainly felt that shiver rising from his heels.
The mercenaries were not originally supposed to be in a place like this. Mercenaries were always on the side of the powerful or the rich. Even though it was a profession that earned gold coins with lives as collateral, there weren’t that many people who would jump into a death zone themselves.
That’s why this man’s heart was fighting like never before. He couldn’t help but ask who brought him to this place of death.
No, he knew who it was. There was no need to ask such question, everyone understood the reason why they were here in the first place.
The human standing in front of him. The Hero of the Heraldic Order had brought them to the death zone. When this man thought about it, he wanted to drop even one of his complaints. So, the man said with a sigh.
「I have two bad news. 」
Lugis, the Hero of the Heraldic Order, shrugged his shoulders and urged him to continue, still wearing his military uniform. By his side stood Vestaline Geluah, the leader of the mercenaries.
「The prisoners are extremely exhausted. They can walk, at least, but they can’t be counted as soldiers.」
What the man said was true. The prisoners were tortured and were fed rotten food. It wasn’t impossible, but it would be difficult for them to fight with a weapon.
If they sent the prisoners to the battlefield, all the prisoners would become a flesh wall to stop the enemy’s progress. It was a useless option. Even if they tried to escape, it would take a considerable amount of time.
Lugis answered the man’s voice while gritting his teeth. The man wondered if Lugis didn’t expect much from the beginning. The man couldn’t see any turmoil in his sword-swallowing eyes.
The man opened his mouth after feeling something heavy in his stomach. It was painful and even troublesome to say a single word.
「A witness saw their equipment and their horses. Their equipment was made with the silver-rimmed ultramarine.」
Hearing the man’s voice, Lugis immediately sulked. His eyes clearly contained something radiant.
「How true is that story? Let’s hope it’s not a delusional one. 」
After distorting his eyebrows, the man elaborated Lugis’ words. This man understood what Lugis was trying to say. Because he understood, he didn’t want to answer lightly.
The man’s tone sounded bitter, and his lips changed in response.
「The witness said their horses had unusually thick legs. They were northern horses, for sure. If you face a northern horse and a knight wearing the silver-rimmed ultramarine, your fate will be decided immediately.」
The man didn’t say anything beyond those words. He felt that if he continued to speak, his inner turmoil would become reality. He wanted to cling to the possibility that it would not happen, even if it showed a little.
The enemy was a force to be reckoned with. It was the same thing as an undeniable, unavoidable death approaching them. The mercenaries understood that well.
Perhaps Vestaline also understood the meaning of this man’s words. The man felt that her expression had changed to something stern.
「…How many days will it take for the expected Heraldic Reinforcements to arrive?」
Vestaline said to the man. The man desperately chose his words and said that it would take two full days at the earliest.
If they just crossed the highway from the front line to the prison, one day would be enough, but during the dead snow things were different. Two days were definitely needed.
Besides, Vestaline only requested the mercenaries to occupy the prison. They needed more time to prepare enough men to face the thousands of enemy soldiers.
However, the man did not dare to say those words. If it was to be brief, the information that was available was enough.
After all, the enemy was already in a place where they could be clearly seen. Waiting for two full days was a no go. The man’s heart pounded again.
Involuntarily, the man turned his gaze to Lugis with a hatred look.
The man didn’t hate Lugis in particular. He knew Lugis was not a bad person. In fact, Lugis was someone whom the man could talk to.
His actions were heroic everywhere, and there weren’t enough words to describe the achievement to conquer Prison Beulah with just the Steel Princess. He would take off many hats if he could and salute him. That’s how men paid homage to heroes.
However, the man also had other thoughts. He wondered if this scenario was Lugis’ mistake.
After all, the enemy’s reinforcements were clearly moving in a strange way.
Of course, if Prison Beulah had succumbed to the Heraldic Order, it would be natural to raise an army to reconquer it. Yet, raising an army would not happen in just one day.
Traveling during the dead snow was a challenge, therefore, the army would take several days to reach this place. This was clearly too early.
The man understood that Lugis had this assumption, after hearing the story beforehand.
Precisely because Lugis thought the enemy’s movements would take a short time, he took the action of having a small number of people capture the prison so that the enemy would not be able to guess.
However, the enemy arrived way too early. This was a definite accident. The enemy took an action that was originally impossible, and it meshed in the worst possible way.
The man muttered in his mind.
“…He is indeed a hero. But if this hero wasn’t here, would our princess have fallen into such a predicament?”
With that thought, the man looked at Lugis’ profile. Then, he opened his eyes wide.
「The silver-rimmed ultramarine and the northern horses…Valerie Brightness, huh? 」
Lugis called out that name with an innocent voice, like a child who had successfully done a prank. Then, he opened his mouth again with the same gesture. He wore his blood-soaked military uniform as if it were his normal clothes.
「…What a masterpiece. It feels as if we dug our own graves. Who else could stop a menace twelve times except her?」
The man couldn’t understand the meaning of those words. However, he knew that the hero in front of him was smiling happily, as if he was pleased with something.
While the man, the hero and the Steel Princess were doing small talk, the enemy was making its way forward. It was the same thing as a blade approaching the neck. What was this hero thinking?
The man was looking at Lugis’ eyes with a purer feeling, greater than agitation or suspicion. Was it curiosity or admiration?
Little by little, the enemy soldiers trampled the snow closer to the prison. At a certain point, the army stopped. It was around this time it happened.
Lined up outside the outer wall were the silver-rimmed ultramarine soldiers. Those were the ones who delt with magical beasts in the north. Of course, there were other soldiers mixed in, but the silver-rimmed uniform filled the front line.
All the mercenaries who drew their bows on the defensive wall gasped. For the mercenaries, the silver-rimmed ultramarine was a symbol that should not be dealt with no matter what.
They were an entity who easily tore people apart with their one-handed swords, and made their horses gallop with utmost power and strength. They were skilled soldiers who fought wars not because of money, but because they wanted to fight.
Why were they so fearsome? Could these bows and arrows really shoot them down? Such thoughts appeared in the hearts of the mercenaries.
One horse stood out from the herd of frightening “monsters”. With a relaxed movement, it even felt elegant. It didn’t look like it belonged to the battlefield.
The person riding the horse was most likely the commander. She was a woman with breathtakingly sharp features and eyes.
She spoke while shaking the air. She had a strong voice that shook even the dead snow.
「Open the gate immediately. Otherwise, we will humiliate you. All of you will die. Surrender and your life will be spared. Choose now…」
It was a voice that hit from above the skies. A cold-hearted choice of words that grabbed people’s throats. Behind her words, an affirmation showed that she would not allow any resistance.
Some swallowed their saliva and quivered. And so, the mercenaries were convinced.
That’s Valerie. She must be the woman called Storm. She was the one who deserved that title.
Actually, it was rare for a commander to do the job of a messenger, but she was the one to do it. After all, bows and arrows were meaningless weapons to her.
She was the only one who spoke while no one was even willing to open their mouths.
「…You must be joking. Where is that person you speak of? Who shows his back on the battlefield where victory is decided?」
The hero’s cheeks were puffed up, showing his canine teeth.