Extra 3. The Return of the Legend (7)

“It’s a Spirit, and a rare Wind Spirit at that…”

“Not to mention, that’s at least a high-level Spirit.”

When the sharp-eyed mages found out that the woman was a Spirit, they were astonished.

After the Era of Magic, the number of Spirits began rapidly decreasing, and in the last 50 years, they had disappeared completely. However, the owner of that unsophisticated magic mount had even summoned a Spirit.

For the mages, this sight was outrageous enough for them to flip out. 

However, the mages did not dare to approach the man. They had found out from the nobles that the man’s identity wasn’t any less than the Grand Duke of Iberia.

Even the Iberian nobles, who could be considered the cream of the crop, only watched from afar without a single one of them approaching the man. 

When they had first seen the man, they had been quite rude to him. Now, it seemed like they were uncomfortable approaching him because of their previous rudeness. 

The only one to approach and talk to him without any hesitation in this situation was Princess Adelaide.

“You really kept your promise.”

When she tried to express her gratitude, he rejected it as he told her that it was not time for her gratitude yet.

“Can’t be…”

He gave a brief nod before climbing onto his magic mount.

“I promised you a complete victory.”

He was heading towards a battlefield where tens of thousands of infantrymen and dozens of magic mounts were waiting, but his attitude was as carefree as if he was visiting his next-door neighbors.

“I’ll be leaving right after, so do not wait.”

Without giving a proper farewell, the magic mount left, stomping.

The princes’ armies had been marching towards the Iberian Castle, but not long after, news was delivered that their infantry division had been defeated. There was also news that the magic mounts of the panzer knights had been completely destroyed by an unidentified, older model magic mount.

Soon, news of this miraculous victory resounded across the continent.

“The guardian deity of the Empire has returned.”

“The legendary family has been revived.”

The guardian deity of the Empire had been dismissed as a mere legend, but now, the story of the guardian deity having appeared to calm the Empire’s chaotic state spread to every corner of the continent.

The princess was the one chosen by the guardian deity of the Empire.

Countless nobles and knights abandoned the neutral stance they had stuck to and devoted themselves to her as they became fascinated by her symbolism. From that point on, the princess’s power, which had previously been limited to the areas near Iberia, began to grow frighteningly fast. 

This was the moment that the princess, who had always been regarded as someone who could easily be wiped out by the princes at any moment, became a real competitor. From the princes’ point of view, she had to be stopped at all costs, but things weren't looking good for them. 

Even if they wanted to dispatch troops, there was no guarantee that the catastrophic defeat in Iberia wouldn’t happen again. However, they were also afraid that if they left her alone, her growth would catch up with them at any moment.

They couldn’t come to a decision and tried to subtly shake the princess’s camp, but they gained nothing.

While the princes were struggling, unable to do anything, the princess steadily established herself and expanded her army.

She understood the hearts of the nobles under her banner to a shocking degree, and the nobles soon fell completely in love with the princess who, unlike the princes, was tolerant. As a result, even the nobles, who pledged themselves to her later, were willing to lay down their lives for the honorable princess without any hesitation. 

Battles took place everywhere. As time passed, the firm frontlines began to lean towards the princess bit by bit.

However, the princes had become quite formidable since they had absorbed the military power of the Empire’s mainland over a long period of time. And so, the princess’s army couldn’t cross the defenses of the mainland and continuously suffered defeat. 

But above all else, the biggest problem for the princess was the Imperial magic mounts and airships that the princes were monopolizing.

“We are doing our best to make up for the lack in magic mounts’ power, but because of that, the damages to the knights and mages are increasing day by day, Your Highness. And due to the aviation corps poking around, resupplying isn’t easy either.”

Even in the days when the princess’s army was incomparably shabby and poor, her commanders had been competent. Now that her army had grown, the competency of her commanders hadn’t changed at all as they continued to organize her army. However, the barrier of magic mounts and airships was too difficult to overcome with the commanders’ competence alone.

Meeting continued every day, but of course, they didn’t find an answer.

“Your Highness.”

When the endless meeting continued day by day, Ingrid von Trail asked the princess for a private meeting.

The princess had a card in hand that was enough to overturn the difference in their army in an instant. But for some reason, the princess didn’t seem like she was going to use that card and Ingrid could not understand why.

“Your Highness, why do you not ask him for help?”

The princess responded with a hard face.

“Wherever he goes, nothing is left behind.”

The princess remembered it very clearly. She knew better than anyone else what the knight who held the name Indomitable had done to the battleships that were retreating, as well as, what he had done to the enemies who had been marching towards the Iberian Castle.

If he were to enter a battlefield that was several dozen times larger than the previous one, then how many people would die? Just thinking about it made her heart ache.

“What kind of era was it 500 years ago to have made his sword so heartless?”

At her lamentation, Ingrid clutched her sword. After a while, she replied.

“The sword says that he does it because it’s the best way to cause the least amount of damage. Rather than fighting ten times, it is better to fight one war and make it so that the enemy would never dare fight again.”

“It certainly makes sense.”

She understood it logically, but her heart didn’t. With a single word from her, the lives of tens of thousands of people on the front line could disappear as if it was smoke.

She had made countless decisions before, but she had never felt her decision to be as heavy on her shoulders as it was now.

But her answer had been decided from the beginning. The princess had struggled for several days and nights before admitting that she didn’t have any other option. 

“Please contact him.”

“Yes, Your Highness.”

Now as familiar as a shadow, a knight of the Elven Cataphractoi appeared, only to disappear again.

And soon after, He appeared.

“You took longer than expected.”

At first, it sounded like a rebuke, but his expression wasn’t much different from usual.

“But that’s not a bad thing. If you were the kind of person who disregards the weight of life, I would have been rather disappointed.”

He spoke as if he knew everything. The princess didn’t respond.

“Endure it. That is the weight of the crown you will eventually wear.”

He never comforted her and she didn’t want his comfort either. 

“I will be vigilant as I keep both eyes open and stand guard. I will carry that weight until the moment I die.”

He looked satisfied.

“Now you truly feel like her descendant.”

“I am still lacking, sir.”

He smiled happily at her words. It seemed like he was satisfied with the conversation he was having with his descendant, but he couldn’t keep chatting with her forever. 

Both of them knew that. 

“Spread rumors.”

It was a cold voice without a single bit of laughter to it. It was impossible to believe that he was the same person who had been smiling and laughing until a moment ago.

“Spread rumors that the knights of the legendary family will appear on the frontlines soon.”

The princess instantly recognized his intentions.

“You want them to gather as many troops as possible.”

He nodded slowly.

“Excluding the soldiers, knights, and mages, they still have over 800 magic mounts and 250 airships, sir.”

Having absorbed half the Empire, excluding the mainland, the princess had been able to mobilize about 70,000 troops for this war. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to describe the superhumans as a one-man squad, and she had 2,000 of such people. If this was 500 years ago, it would have been a force that would be powerful enough to declare war on the continent, but right now, even they could not cross the princes’ defense line on the mainland as they struggled repeatedly.

This was all because of the powerful Iron Giants and the Fortress of the Sky. 

“I promised to share my name with you, and that promise will be kept.”

His expression hardened as if he had been rather upset by her words. He was insanely confident in himself.

If anyone else were here right now, they would have looked at him like he was a lunatic.

However, she didn’t treat him like one.

“I will spread rumors that I will personally lead the army.”

Instead, she took it a step further and said that she would be the bait to draw out more troops. His expression relaxed when her trust transcended and became faith. 

“Let’s wait until the promised day.”

After that short farewell, he vanished like the wind.

***

Rumors spread throughout the entire frontline. There was news that the knight of the legendary family, who had defeated the princes’ mighty forces in Iberia, would be appearing on the battlefield, as well as news that the princess would lead the battle herself.

The princess’s army hadn’t been able to cross the defense lines and had continuously suffered defeat. But now, their morale shot up into the sky. And just as the morale of the princess’s army rose, the morale of the princes’ army plummeted.

“We must pull back the defense line. If the magic mounts and the aviation corp take damage once more, then the mainland’s defense will be at risk, sir.”

“At most, only one more magic mount was added to their force. It’s ridiculous to pull back the defense line…”

“From that one magic mount, two elite infantry divisions collapsed and the flotilla, the aviation corps, and the panzer knights were all annihilated! Why can you not see that if we lose more troops here, it may be irreversible!”

Meetings continued every day and the officers of the princes’ army shouted and argued amongst themselves. 

“I have never met more frustrating people! We possess 832 magic mounts and there are 249 battleships in the aviation crops! With all this, why should we pull back our defense line?!”

“We are simply stepping back for a moment. There’s no reason that that ridiculous thing that can fly and fire magic cannons cannot do anything else. The fact that the enemy’s magic mount hasn’t revealed itself since the battle of Iberia is proof of that!”

Swish.

The 1st prince, who had been silently watching his officers arguing, raised his hand. At his small gesture, silence fell in the noisy conference hall.

“Do I look ridiculous now that I’m trapped in the mainland?”

His officers hurriedly prostrated themselves and begged for forgiveness at his low voice. The prince looked at them emotionlessly before speaking.

“Assemble the scattered aviation corps and panzer knights.”

The officers, who had been shouting themselves hoarse as they said they should pull back, turned pale while conversely, the ones who had been arguing for the opposite brightened.

“Whether it’s my foolish younger sibling or the antiquated legend, they’ll all end here.”

In that bitter-sweetness, the only thing heard in that conference hall was the prince’s solemn voice.

***

The aviation squadrons, who had been dispatched to disrupt the rear of the princess’s army, regathered at the defense line. The magic mounts that had been scattered all over the place began to gather in one place as well. 

A month later, the princes’ army was finally finished preparing for the final battle.

“I understand that 500 years ago, there were many powerful people, including you. Perhaps the people of that time really were better than the knights and mages of today.”

Ingrid von Trail spoke to herself as she looked at the empty air in front of her.

“But the era you lived in did not have magic mounts or airships or magic weapons. Your brother is overlooking that fact to an extreme degree.”

[But didn’t you already experience it? You also know what Hyung-nim did to the magic mounts and airships.]

It seemed like she was talking to herself, but someone responded to her. It was the Ego Sword Joon-min.

“At that time, the enemies didn’t know of his existence. But now, it’s different. 800 magic mounts and more than 200 battleships have gathered to face him. The situation this time is different from the battle in Iberia.”

[You think they were defeated because they didn’t know?]

The voice held so much emotion that it was hard to believe it was a sword.

[Even back then, there were people who thought just like you. But all those people realized later on.]

The voice held obvious ridicule.

[They realized that there are some things in life that you can’t block even if you know about it.]

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