A Returner’s Magic Should Be Special - Chapter 289

 

A Returner’s Magic Should Be Special Novel


Chapter 289. Rhapsody (4)



“As you would expect of the Empire.”




Pierrot Mask truly admired the enemies in front of him. He expected the strongest country on the continent to mount a valiant defense, but this was far beyond his wildest expectations.




*BAM*




Every moment, every second, the atmosphere was torn apart and the planet itself cried. Seventh-Circle spells, a level of strength considered to be the strongest mankind was capable of, continued to gush forth. It was an enormous show of strength beyond what any other nation was capable of. If the Artemis Church had not thoroughly prepared, they would have already disappeared without a trace under such an onslaught.




*BOOOOM*




Several gigantic crosses, tens of meters wide, floated in the air in front of the Artemis Church’s forces.





Glance of the Father.




It was a technique created through the culmination of hundreds of Blessings of Light being used in harmony, a power capable of reflecting and offsetting any impact. Though the technique was extraordinarily powerful, it lacked practicality; having hundreds of Paladins gathered in one place, all capable of coordinating with one another for a single technique, was much easier said than done. However, once the burdensome conditions were cleared, the users were blessed with overwhelming defensive might, beyond even the Aurora System, which was the best defensive system their opponents had.




Having successfully defended themselves from annihilation, they had bought themselves some leeway. The problem was that the strength of the Empire was more than they had anticipated. Even with their absurd defensive capabilities, they could not fully block several rapid-fire Seventh-Circle Spells without taking some losses.




“We can’t afford to lose the Glance of the Father!”


“3rd Division knights, take turns!”




As the spells poured down on the cross, it began to crack. That meant part of the shield had already been destroyed.




Each time, there were screams resounding from all corners of their formation. Before they even arrived, they had already sustained significant casualties from their previous battles.




‘What’s more extraordinary is that they are maintaining this level of bombardment.’




It was Seventh-Circle magic, the so-called most powerful magic of mankind. The force was great, but the required amount of mana to cast these was also mind-boggling. Even Zod Exarion rarely performed Seventh-Circle magic for the sake of efficiency. If he could achieve the same effect with multiple lower circle spells, there was no point wasting mana on a higher circle spell.




[-Deploy]




[-Put them all in, there’s no reason to go easy!]





Despite that, the Empire was firing several Seventh-Circle spells back to back. So, how did the Empire compensate for this inefficiency?




Magic stones.




The Hebrion Empire had an enormous stockpile of the gems, each with a considerable quantity of mana stored within them. Each of the stones were worth more than their weight in gold and were being consumed at an alarming rate. With each spell cast, the magicians were fed enough magic stones to exceed the annual budget of a small kingdom.




It was an unglamorous way of fighting, but it was only possible for a nation like the Hebrion Empire, which had long dominated as the strongest of mankind, accumulating untold wealth over the centuries.




‘Under the Sun of the Empire, the capital has been reborn as an impregnable fort.’




Dresden was indeed a fortress blessed with natural


advantages.




In the North, there was Lagran, the third largest mountain range on the continent, which made it impossible for foreign enemies to invade through.




Simultaneously, the huge river that began in Lagran wrapped around the West and the South of Dresden. The channel was deep and wide, so any infantry would need a bridge or boats to cross, which would make them sitting ducks.




If they were to head to Dresden, their only route was via the East.




Unfortunately, their fortress city, Kansas, had already fallen. Between there and Dresden lay wide-open plains, giving advancing armies no room to hide. If they wanted to attack the Hebrion capital with infantry, they would have to pass through there.




Having only one attack route, the Artemis Church’s troops were forced into an unfavorable fight from the outset.


‘We prepared airships to overcome this, but… ’




Priscilla worked tirelessly to build a substantial air force, one that even the Hebrion Empire could not match, but she had lost more than half of it to Desir in Altea. In the end, they succeeded in taking out Desir, but it was at an extravagant cost: they lost their advantage against Dresden.




They were left with no choice but to brute force their way through the East. They had to advance, even though they knew they were at a staggering disadvantage.




That was the current war situation.




*Giggle*




Though they were faced with such a disadvantage, Pierrot Mask’s lips curled up in glee.




“It’ll all be worth the effort.”




The situation was definitely unfavorable. They had only


barely managed to fend off the sustained shelling of the Empire, but it was clear that they could not last for much longer.




However, Pierrot Mask was not interested in waiting till then.




As he gesticulated madly in the air, tens of cards were summoned in his hands. They appeared to be just paper cards, but each card was an A-Tier artifact containing a vast amount of dimensional space. As the cards began to rotate around him, strange appendages began to force their way out. They writhed and morphed, a nauseating cacophony of snapping bones and wriggling flesh echoing out as they stretched and popped into place.




After the unholy sight concluded, they had a human-like shape.




“Okay, let’s get it started.”




Pierrot Mask grinned at the humanoids that stumbled before him. A wicked grin adorned his face, one that unnerved even his allies.


“Capriccio.”




It was time for the play to begin.




* * *




Guiltian sat perched atop a watchtower, overviewing the fortress that had been constructed outside Dresden. Lined up beside him were none other than his Royal Guard.




“Something is closing in.”




The first person to notice the unexpected change was Jean Euremrin, the Sword of the Royal Guard. He was an old man of at least forty years with a black eye patch covering one of his eyes, and a grey beard that reached his chest.




Jean quickly gathered his aura, and recognized the phenomena faster than any detection spell could be invoked.




“Nearly four thousand… troops.”



Raphahelo next to him added, after recognizing it a bit slower than him.




His face hardened. It was a very serious matter.




The scale of the army they faced had increased. Their sudden surge in military strength would certainly affect the progress of the battle.




Guiltian opened his mouth.




“… Are they hand-picked soldiers that they were hiding?”




“I don’t believe so. They seem extremely crude for that.”




Jean Euremrin denied it calmly.




“They’re too slow to be vanguards, and they aren’t wearing anything to suggest affiliation with the Church. They’re also approaching without formation, so I don’t think they’re even a disciplined unit.”




What he said astonished the others present. He had precisely figured out their movement at a distance that was impossible to visually confirm. Even Raphaello was shocked. All he could do was sense their approaching presence, but he had not been able to detect that level of detail.




But now was not the time to be in awe. If what Jean said was true, there was only one possible answer, and it was the worst case scenario for the Empire.




“Stop the bombardment.”




With Guiltians’ order, the torrential bombardment stopped in an instant. As the magic circle that filled the sky deactivated, the spell arrays broke, which resulted in mana fragments scattering throughout the sky, their blue light refracting across the battlefield.




Raphaello’s eyes glanced over the approaching horde, unable to hide his anxiety. Even Guiltian, remaining composed as ever, had an air of nervousness about him.


Their worst fears had become reality.




[-Your Majesty, they are… people of the Hebrion Empire.]




This was the official report of the Imperial magicians, their targets finally within range of their detection spells.




“Is this certain?”




[-That… we can affirm. They must be members of the imperial army from the cities that have been conquered.]




Although Guiltian doubted the authenticity of the information, nothing changed.




Raphahelo could not help but murmur.




“I thought they all died.”




That was what everyone thought.



As the distance between them narrowed, people standing on the walls of the fortress could hear their voices. They were wailing. They were fleeing from something, crying for help. They were indeed running towards here with all of the energy they could muster.




There was a slight gap between the Artemis Church and them. A vague space that seemed to offer them the chance of saving those people, while simultaneously being close enough to threaten sudden retaliation if they did so.




They could not continue their bombardment, as that would destroy the captives, but neither could they open the gates of the fortress to save them because the Artemis Church was close enough behind that they could force their way in too.




Raphahelo groaned, realizing the Artemis Church’s intention.




‘It’s toxic.’




This was such a toxic, poisonous strategy.


They were being forced to choose between saving the captives they thought had died or ignoring them and slaughtering them with their own hands by restarting the bombardment.




‘… We have to save them.’




He wanted to open the gate and demand they be saved.




However, Raphahelo could not voice this desire. There was a difference between ideals and reality. They had to not only stop the bombardment but also open the gate to embrace them.




Doing so would destroy the Empire’s defensive line. Ever since they had stopped bombarding, they had already incurred a massive loss. They would need to spend time to rearrange their Seventh-Circle spells; all while the unrestricted Artemis Church was able to advance at twice the speed. Their defenses, which had previously been half-broken, were restoring themselves significantly. Realistically, the best choice the Empire could make was the heartless one. They had to give up on the captives, give up on their people, and block the enemy’s advance.




Guiltian rose to the position he had now because he could make dispassionate decisions better than anyone else and


ensure the best possible outcome each time. There was no way he would get carried away by his feelings. Raphahelo had to stay silent because he knew that all too well.




“Open the gate.”




“… !”




Resounding shock kept the top of the watchtower silent. The Emperor, who only sought the practical advancement of the Empire, was taking an enormous risk to save captives?




‘Why the hell… ?’




Before Raphahelo could squeeze out a question, Guiltian continued.




“Funny.”




Guiltian had a cynical smile that was immensely icy.


“Did they think they could win with such a disgraceful tactic?”




“… ”




He was not shaken in the least. This was not a decision made out of rashness - he held his stoic composure, the signature demeanor the world at large renowned him for.




Raphahelo smiled.




‘Yes. That is my master.’




“Raphaelo, Jean.”




“Yes, Your Majesty.”




The two Royal Guards kneeled down at his call.




“It’s time for us to show them there’s more to our power than just magic.”






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