Chapter 0177 Back and forth
“Finally making an appearance at this juncture, huh?”
Hugh McGrath couldn’t suppress his laughter as he muttered to himself.
He couldn’t hold it back…like a villain stifling a laugh in his voice.
“Sorry Aubrey, I win.”
Hugh said confidently.
Aubrey looked at him quizzically and then looked at the man beside him who appeared to be a Magician.
“You really think you can turn this around with just one more Magician?”
“You bet. If you surrender now, I promise to send you back to your home country unharmed. What say you?”
Hugh’s suggestion was met with a yelp from one of the guards.
Lord Aubrey remained silent with a quizzical look in his eye.
He was wondering if Hugh was bluffing.
“Oh, by the way, Ryo, did you say something about a golem?”
“Yeah. But let me confirm, this person in front of you called Lord Aubrey or something, will all these be over if he’s out of the picture?”
Ryo said as he pulled out Murasame from his waist and formed the blade.
Hugh looked sideways slightly surprised.
“So that’s your weapon, Ryo. An ice sword, you’ve got another strange…”
“It’s for Water-Attribute Magicians only. It was given to me by my sword master.”
Ryo was on his guard, readying Murasame as he replied.
“He is a Magician, but he can also fight at close quarters. I see, Hugh’s confidence may not necessarily be without basis.”
Lord Aubrey muttered in a low voice.
He could tell from Ryo’s posture with Murasame at the ready that he had a good command of the sword.
Of course, Hugh did not hear Lord Aubrey’s mutterings and said.
“You can’t take the golems home with you, even if you defeat him just so you know.”
Ryo’s eyes widened in despair at Hugh’s sudden declaration.
“I knew it, you were definitely thinking of taking it home with you, weren’t you? But sorry, whatever spoils you get here, basically becomes the property of the Duchy. That’s an ironclad rule of the ‘Mercenary Commission’. So give it up.”
Hugh said sternly.
“And here I was looking forward to having one… It’s got quite an interesting mechanism you know, I mean, discharging plasma…uh, little lightning bolts from its hands. That’s a mechanism with various many applications, I tell you.”
Ryo tried persuading Hugh with words but to no avail.
Instead, it was Lord Aubrey, not Hugh, who responded to Ryo’s words.
Lord Aubrey then recalled.
The conversation that Dr. Frank, the maker of the golem, and he had in the spire of the ducal capital, Aberdeen.
He had explained that it was a mechanism that had repelled the Duchy’s Vaedra imitation by ‘generating lightning’.
Even Lord Aubrey, who had seen the real thing, could not imagine that it was lightning, but the Magician of the Kingdom in front of him noticed the mechanism and somehow seemed to understand it.
“Hugh, that Magician over there has some interesting knowledge.”
Ryo became surprised to suddenly become the center of the topic.
Hugh doesn’t react visibly.
Both Hugh and Lord Aubrey were looking for an opening while exchanging light conversation.
“Did I say something funny?”
Ryo tried to confirm in a reasonable whisper to Hugh next to him.
“I have no idea, but it seems to have caught the attention of a Great General and commander-in-chief apparently.”
Hugh answered in a reasonably loud voice.
“You’re right, it caught my attention all right. How about it, magician. If you come over here, I’ll give you one of those golems.”
With an expression that was neither joking nor serious, Lord Aubrey proposed to Ryo.
Ryo was shaken by the proposal.
“Hey, Ryo. Don’t get swayed by that.”
“I won’t, but it’s really fascinating. I am very curious about what exactly is the identity of the energy source that produces that much plas…lightning. It couldn’t have been done with the magic stones available around here…”
Ryo tilted his head, but was still poised to be on guard at least for the moment.
Lord Aubrey and his six guards in front of them were all on their guards with no gap in defense whatsoever.
Since they all looked like swordsmen, he thought about using magic to end it altogether, but he had a bad feeling about something since a while ago.
But as if ignoring Ryo’s hesitation, the camp curtain behind Lord Aubrey fell.
And then it appeared.
(It can’t be helped then.)
Ryo made up his mind.
To keep the reinforcements from joining them, he generated an ice wall at the place where the camp curtain was located earlier.
Well, he tried to generate it, but…failed.
Ryo exclaimed, and Hugh muttered involuntarily.
(No, no. Not magic nullification…jamming, so to speak. Yeah, it’s more like that magic used by the Order of Assassins ‘Hassan’, that introduces another magic into the initiation of my magic and makes it fail to generate. But this was not done by a Magician…)
“Alchemy that interferes with magic, not magic nullification.”
Ryo concluded strongly, although his voice was not loud by any means.
“Correct. You are an interesting lad after all, Magician. Our genius alchemist created it. You can no longer use magic in this area.”
Hugh clucked his tongue at Lord Aubrey’s explanation.
But then a voice came from behind Hugh and Ryo.
“Finally…. Guilmas, sorry for just getting…wow, you’re here too, Ryo.”
It was Abel’s voice.
The Crimson Swords, who had been fighting another group of personal guards, had finally joined up with them.
But it also prompted Hugh to make a decision.
(Now that Abel has joined up, we have no choice but to retreat.)
Frankly, if it had been anyone other than Abel, there could have been a way to forcefully strike at Lord Aubrey who was in front of him.
The reason is that even a melee battle might be manageable if Ryo, who is said to be strong enough to fight ‘Sera of the Wind’, is there.
However, even if they were to defeat him, they won’t come out unscathed either. They would certainly suffer casualties on their side as well.
In this war, there was only one person who absolutely must not be allowed to die.
Abel, the King’s second son.
And that very man, who must not be allowed to die, had joined their forces.
So, they had no choice but to retreat.
“Good, you’re finally here, we’re retreating.”
Hugh intentionally announced in a loud voice.
Ryo and Abel exclaimed in unison. It sounded strange, but they could only express themselves with that.
They looked at Hugh, their eyes seemingly saying, “Why?”.
“There you have it, we are retreating. Lord Aubrey, I hope you will refrain from pursuing us.”
“You think I’m going to heed your suggestion?”
“Yeah, you’ll do well to do so. A cornered cat will also put its claws on the lion if it has to. You’re not after us, but the Inbury Duchy, aren’t you?”
Hugh and Lord Aubrey exchanged glances for only a couple of seconds.
But behind the facade, numerous thoughts were being considered amongst one another.
Lord Aubrey said and nodded.
From beyond where Hugh McGrath had left, the sound of a sharp finger whistle could be heard.
It was probably to rally the adventurers to retreat.
“Phew…. That was quite intense.”
In a low, really low voice, Lord Aubrey muttered.
And he was glad that Lamber, who was always by his side, was not around.
He had been away on another mission.
“Lamber is no good with swords or magic after all.”
Lord Aubrey said with a wry smile.
Then, a messenger arrived in a hurry.
“Your Excellency, the Duchy has begun to unleash that weapon.”
On the battlefield, the unexpected always happens. Or the worst thing that could possibly happen, happens.
Lord Aubrey had experienced this to the point of disgust.
And this time, too, the ‘worst thing that could happen’ did happen.
Meredith, the Garrison Commander, was the first to notice the approaching Union soldiers amid the retreating allies.
She reported this to the Duke of Inbury, Loris, the highest authority in the situation, and it became clear that the enemy was aiming for a parallel pursuit into the city.
For a good five minutes, the command center did not move at all.
Loris could not give any instructions.
At this rate, the enemy would breach the city.
Not only could they not use Green Storm, but the city gates were even open to retrieve their allies.
It wasn’t looking good.
It was as clear as day to anybody. Loris as well.
But what should he do?
Their allies were out there.
And not just any allies.
They were, to say the least, the last elite force of the Duchy’s army, including Knight-Captain Stanley.
They were not an asset that he could easily cut loose.
Even if he closed the gates and unleashed Green Storm to wipe out everything including his allies…what then, the Duchy would no longer have the chance to turn the tables around.
Who would follow a country’s leader who would make such a decision?
Loris was about to make up his mind.
He was about to give the order to allow the enemy into the city and conduct the last defensive battle in the city center.
He was about to give that order.
As he was about to give that order, Loris looked back and saw his family.
His wife and two daughters…who were not yet adults, and the older daughter was not even ten years old yet.
They were praying to God in accord.
What would happen to them if he let the enemy into the city….
Loris’ decision changed at the last minute.
The city gates were closed and Green Storm was unleashed in diffusion mode.
Wiping out the enemy…and their allies.
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