Inside the Black Forest
"The Magicians of Ferde must have flown here on board that airship."
King Mordena pointed at the vessel in the distance. There was a weird little smile playing on his face.
Eugene was standing beside him. Her ivory skin stood out against her black robe. As she had not completely recovered from her injury, Eugene seemed even more emaciated than before. Her Dark Elf guards had their eyes plastered to her from behind, not daring to look away for even a moment, lest something happen to her again.
Seeing the incoming airship, she frowned. "Will Link be with them as well?"
"Impossible," said Molina, her waist swaying smoothly as she walked up towards them. She then greeted both Mordena and Eugene with a bow.
Mordena raised a brow and asked on Eugene's behalf, "How could you be so sure?"
"My master told me so. He said that even if the lord of Ferde were to return to Firuman, he would not pose a huge threat to us, as he too has suffered a terrible loss in the Sea of Void!"
"Loss? To what extent?" asked Eugene. The memory of being killed by Link in a mere instant was still fresh in her mind. As the saying went, once bitten, twice shy. Eugene had every right to be wary of the Lord of Ferde.
Molina said smilingly, "He's lost two-thirds of his power. His dragon form was also completely decimated."
Mordena chuckled. "Seems like the Lord of Ferde's trip into the Sea of Void did not go as planned."
"Yes, a shame indeed, but we should still not let our guards down, no matter how weak he may be right now," said Eugene. In spite of what she said, her face had slackened considerably. She would never be a match for the lord of Ferde in his full strength. However, things seemed to be in her favor now. If she still could not best Link in his present weakened condition, she would have to renounce her right to call herself a Magician.
All three of them fell silent for a moment. Then, Mordena asked, "Your Highness, how do you intend to deal with Orida Fortress now?"
Eugene chuckled softly. She then glanced at Molina. "The priestess has asked that I keep the fortress intact and spare the Beastmen inside it. But this would require casting a powerful enough spell on my part. In order to kill off most of the human Warriors in the fortress, I've decided to use the Book of Death spell."
Book of Death
Level-13 Hidden Legendary Spell
Description: Conjures a magic book using an extraordinary amount of dark power. By writing a person's name in it, he or she will have his or her soul forcibly extracted from them. It will then be ensnared within its pages.
(Note: Death is just the beginning of a new journey.)
Mordena frowned at this. "This spell seems to have a huge limitation to it. How are we supposed to know all the names of the human Warriors inside the fortress?"
Molina laughed out loud. She then took out a thick notebook. "I've already prepared a name list just for this occasion."
"When will the spell take effect?"
"Within three days. In the meantime, I will need you to stay by my side and keep me safe," said Eugene in a pleading tone, which complemented well with her emaciated state. This should be enough to pull on some of the Elf King's heartstrings.
Mordena inwardly admitted that the Dark Elf Princess truly was one of the more charismatic individuals he had ever encountered. "You have my word, Your Highness. I, and the Magicians I've brought with me, will protect you as best we can."
Eliard was examining the three Legendary Warriors' injuries. Kanorse's were especially severe. He seemed to be at a loss as to what to do now.
When he was finished with his examination, Princess Annie asked quietly, "Can he still be saved?"
Eliard nodded. "Yes, there is still hope for him. But I'm afraid that I won't be able to restore him to his full strength. I fear that... the Marshal will remain an ordinary person for the rest of his life."
"That's good, that's good. His life is all that matters." Annie was somewhat relieved by this.
Eliard then went to check on the conditions of Jacker and the Beastman King Avatar. Both of them seemed to be doing a lot better, thanks to their naturally strong constitutions and fast recovery rates. Jacker was especially lucky that the shield he was holding managed to absorb most of the meteor's impact. Even though his wounds were severe, Jacker would probably be able to recover fully after two months of recuperation. The same could be said for the Beastman King.
This was one of the few silver linings in their current situation.
When Eliard had finished examining the two Warriors, he then listened to Princess Annie's account of the battle that had just happened. Frowning, he asked, "And you don't even know who's behind the meteor attack? Has MI3 turn up any clues?"
Princess Annie shook her head. "Nothing so far. The enemy managed to unleash such a devastating attack upon us at the most critical moment without leaving a single clue that could lead back to him."
Eliard smiled bitterly. He then turned to Milose, who had just returned from his inspection of the meteor's impact site. "Did you find anything?"
Milose sighed. "I couldn't find anything useful left by the enemy's attack. However, on closer inspection, I detected a familiar aura around the site."
Elovan immediately knew what it was. "Is it from the Isle of Dawn?"
"Yes, unfortunately," said Milose. There was an awkward look on his face. He was after all a former inhabitant of the Isle of Dawn. The High Elves used to be allies in the continent's resistance against the Army of Destruction. Now, the Isle of Dawn had switched sides, going so far as to help the Army of Destruction breach Orida Fortress. Milose felt ashamed for how things had turned out between the Isle of Dawn and Ferde.
Eliard heaved a sigh. "I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. The High Elves are the only ones in the continent of Firuman capable of such a devastating magical attack. Once, they were allies. Now, they've turned on us. There's nothing inherently good or evil about this war. Everyone's just fighting for their own self-interests."
He then continued, "The Army of Destruction still has the God of Destruction's support, and I imagine a punctured heart would not keep the Dark Elf Princess down for long. I figure she will need at least a few days to regain her full strength. When that happens, we'll be facing a Level-14 Legendary Magician and maybe even some of the Isle of Dawn's own Magicians. This is certainly going to be an uphill battle for all of us!"
A single Dark Elf Princess was already more than they could handle. With the involvement of the High Elves, things just became a lot more complicated. Eliard was now starting to wonder if he could actually fend off another attack from the combined forces of the High Elves and the Army of Destruction.
However, he soon shook off all his self-doubt. What am I thinking? Link has entrusted me with protecting everyone before leaving Firuman. I'll just need to do everything I can to see everyone through this, whatever the outcome may be!
He then turned to Princess Annie and said, "Your Highness, we need to have an exact idea of the enemy's current power level. Do you have any idea how we can do this?"
As the highest-ranking commander in Orida Fortress' MI3, Princess Annie was naturally an expert spymaster whose talent for gathering information was second to none.
Princess Annie pondered on this for a few minutes. She then replied, "Give me one night. I'll have the information you need ready by tomorrow."
"Do you need our help?" asked Eliard.
Annie nodded. After thinking about this for a moment, she said, "You could try to disrupt the enemy's formation for me with another attack."
Eliard, Elovan, and Milose looked at each other. Then, Eliard smiled. "What a coincidence. We've just brought with us a powerful new magic cannon for such an occasion. I'll bet the enemy won't know what hit them."
With everything settled, Princess Annie immediately leaped into action after checking on Kanorse's condition. Soon, she slipped out quietly from Orida Fortress alongside more than a hundred elite scouts.
Not a sound came from Orida Fortress for twenty minutes. Twenty minutes later, a boom echoed from the top of the fortress's wall. A white ball of fire then appeared in the middle of the Dark Elves' campground 10,000 feet away from the fortress. The resulting shockwave hit the Army of Destruction's entire base camp in an instant.
When the ball of fire dissipated, all that was left behind it were the corpses of hundreds of demons scattered across the ground. The attack was at most Level-8. However, what made it even more terrifying was its range!
The Army of Destruction was severely hit by the attack. A few seconds later, when the third ball of fire exploded in their midst, a horn was sounded, signaling everyone to retreat.
"Retreat! Everyone retreat!" They would all be sitting ducks if they stayed there any longer. With their commander still injured, the entire army was not in a position to mount a counterattack against the fortress. For now, they could only retreat deeper into the Black Forest.
From the shadows, the MI3 scouts could see that the Army of Destruction was now in a state of chaos. Some of them even had their telescopes out to observe the situation even more closely.
Two hours later, Princess Annie delivered the information she was able to gather to Eliard. "The reconnaissance mission went smoothly. Things seem to be looking better than I thought it would."
Eliard unfurled the scroll Annie had given him. His brows furrowed as he read her report. When he was done, he handed the scroll over to Milose. "It's worse than I had anticipated. More than 100 High Elf Magicians have joined the fray. There are at least five Legendary Magicians in their midst. It would seem that King Mordena has decided to oversee this battle personally as well."
Everyone around him drew a sharp breath upon hearing the news.
"What should we do? We don't even have that many Magicians with us right now."
Eliard thought about this for a moment. He then said, "I will arrange for more Magicians to be transferred here from Ferde. This way, we won't be completely outnumbered. As for the enemy Legendary Magicians, the three of us could still put up a fight against them with some Legendary magical equipment sent in from Ferde."
These sets of Legendary magical equipment were forged using the souls of Ethereals they had captured, allowing even ordinary Magicians to wield Legendary-level power. Ferde was stocked up with such an arsenal for exactly the kind of battle that they were about to face.
Everyone on the scene was now put somewhat at ease after hearing Eliard's strategy.
A general then spoke out, "I heard that the Beastmen have another Warlord who's still in the Golden Plains. Maybe we could bring him in as well."
"Not a bad idea. However, we will still need to ask for the Beastmen's opinion on the matter," replied Eliard, nodding.
Annie then said, "I'll assign squadrons of Elite Assassins outside the fortress. These Assassins are all equipped with powerful anti-magic weapons. As soon as the battle begins, we'll eliminate every Magician on the enemy side from the shadows!"
Eliard nodded. "Excellent idea."
The enemy must now be extremely defensive against another ambush after having just taken a hit from Orida Fortress out of nowhere. However, no defense was complete without its flaws. Another surprise attack might just be what they needed to turn the tides of battle in their favor once more.
The Red Dragon Warrior Felina was there with them as well. It should be worth mentioning that she was now so close to reaching the Legendary level.
"We can also circle the skies and drop a couple of powerful Magical scrolls and explosives on the enemy when they least expect it," Felina added.
There were too few Red Dragons available in Orida Fortress at the moment to be of any use on the battlefield. However, they could still provide aerial support for the fortress's forces.
"I'll prepare some for you," said Elovan, nodding.
Soon, a more or less perfect battle plan was formed in this fervent exchange of ideas between everyone on the scene.
Eliard clapped his hands and said, "Alright, everyone, this battle will decide the fates of all the races of the light. Let's put on our game faces, shall we?"
Everyone immediately scattered off to make all the necessary preparations for the upcoming battle.
And so, for the next three days, both sides began preparing for the second exchange of attacks between each other. On the morning of the third day, a thick layer of snow had piled up on the ground. A sheet of white stretched out across the Black Forest towards the horizon.
In the bleak, biting wind, Eliard, who had only just gotten up from bed, suddenly sensed an indescribable magical fluctuation.
"Magic attack, incoming!"
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