Chapter 124: Fourteenth Episode: Chapter 6
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation

As expected, a heavy downpour came falling from above in the late, fall night. Raindrops the size of beans fell continuously, forming several uneven puddles on the soft, dampened ground. The last remaining branch in the forest, hanging feebly to the tree trunk, finally broke into half under the harsh blow of the rain. Withered flowers and dried grains covered the land. Only two or three oil lamps reflected light across the vast horizon that seemed to be stretching into infinity.

"Hurry!" Without even checking the surrounding, Oscar impatiently pushed open the wooden plank that blocked the exit of the secret underway.

Paul, who, by now, was running out of breath, escaped next from the hidden way. Oscar immediately took over Aya from him and carried the wounded girl himself. All the running previously caused the opening of the countess's wound to open up even more. Aya's mouth was slightly open, her breathing low and weak.

The King of Assassins guarded at the exit as soon as he escaped from the hidden passageway. Rainwater spurted from the roof; reflected by faint light through the window, the falling rain resembled a pleasant mini waterfall.

The side gate of the farmhouse was opened all of a sudden! The people inside of the house were taken aback by this sudden noise in the middle of the night!

"Who's out there?" A tall woman raised an oil lamp to her eye level to obtain a clearer view of the trespassers who barged into her house.

Before Paul had a chance to warn this reckless man, Black Devil's flying dagger already left his hand! Immediately, the dagger hammered itself deep into her forehead. On the next second, her dense body made a loud thump as it fell to the ground. With all his might, Paul bashed Shaw Curlink on his chin.

"You just took the life of a defenseless lady!"

The Black Devil was thrown across the room and landed in a dark corner. Paul dashed forward, intending to continue teaching him a lesson. Although he was the King of Assassins, he formed his own set of principles and rules. Another voice came from the back of the room, which startled the men and they paused in mid-battle. Simultaneously, they replaced another dagger in between their fingers, but this time no one took any rash action.

A little girl in her pajamas walked into the room, rubbing her eyes. "Mama!" She shouted. Oddly enough, all languages in the world had a similar pronunciation for the word used to address the motherly figure. Unsurprisingly, everyone in the humble abode understood this simple Deiss syllabus. The little girl's knees weakened and she melted into a puddle in the middle of the room. She called out to her dead mother, concurrently shaking lightly at the stiff body. In that instance, these fierce-looking intruders were non-existent in her innocent little world.

"Look at what you've done!" Paul was at a loss as to what to do, and he gave Black Devil a poisonous look.

"North is to the left, we've got to hurry!" Oscar planted himself in between of the two super assassins, "Why the wait? Are you planning to give her a proper burial?"

Paul sighed helplessly as he turned away, and once again he carried Aya on his back. "We need a horse."

Oscar nodded in agreement, "If I'm not mistaken, there's a stable not far from here. Hurry! Let's get going!" The Prince ordered as he rushed into the rain.

Paul followed closely. The King of Assassins turned around and mocked his friend, "Thinking of killing her too?"

Black Devil was stunned for a second, but he didn't strike.

Just as he was about to rush through the fenced railing, Shaw Curlink turned his head around abruptly.

"I… I'm sorry!" Black Devil blurted out and stared at the silent little girl. He took a couple of steps backward, turned his back around and disappeared into the darkness. Following closely behind Paul, the four of them shuttled back and forth in the permeating dampness. Black Devil's hands couldn't seem to stop trembling. Even though he was used to dripping his own hands with innocent blood, this was the first kill that made him felt deeply remorseful. Had he become weak? Or was that his long-disappeared conscience creeping back at him?

The noise of hurried gallops came from the other end of the small countryside road. Fully-armed Deiss forces charged in the rain. They broke through the railings and slowed down their speed as they came to encircle the lonely little girl standing in the courtyard. A knight with the form of an officer jumped off the horse. He removed his own cloak and wrapped it around the girl.

"They killed my mama!" The innocent girl said after receiving warmth and care following the loss of her mother.

"Who killed your mama?" The tall knight squatted down on one knee. He caressed the little girl's damped golden hair lovingly, but on his face was an expression so cold it resembled winter of the north.

"Three men and one woman." The girl pointed in the direction to the south, "They went that way!"

The knight stood up abruptly in that instance, his sword already out of his sheath. "They are three men and one woman! They took away the life of a mother! We must find them! And kill them!"

The surrounding area echoed with the sound of swords clanging against their sheaths! The knight hopped back onto his warhorse, and led the troop down the south!

The vast, expansive farmland seemed to go on for miles and miles. The rain poured from the sky lingered of haze, forming a meandering stream as they fell on the ground. The gently babbling stream explored the wheat land as to find where it ran. Gradually, the earth absorbed the cold rain, turning them into steam, or turning them as part of the soil.

A knight broke into the wheat land, and following closely behind him was an anxious, black-backed dog drenched in the rain. The dog whined lowly, blending its footsteps with the gallops of horses.

More and more knights arrived at the wheat land. They didn't tear along in the open country but instead executed a loose formation to allow a thorough search. The cold wind attacked brazenly, and wheat billowed in the wind like waves in an expansive golden sea. The knights moved their way in the golden wheat land with slight difficulty, resembling small boats which swayed unstably in the boundless ocean; visible one second and out of sight the next.

The horses' hoarse, long neighs broke across the silent night. With his sharp sword, one of the Deiss knights pointed at the stable located on the nearby ridge.

"That way!"

Suddenly, another violent wave washed over the golden sea of wheat, as the horses now galloped on full speed toward the direction of the faint light reflected indoor. The weak boat just moments ago seemed to have braved the wind and charged forward as quickly as a lighting, leaving behind traces of survival in the waves.

"Damn it! The enemy troops are already here!" Paul whipped the horse and burst into the stable. On the other hand, Oscar and Shaw Curlink were tying Countess Aeolia up to the back of a horse. The Black Devil then rapidly jumped on one, and Oscar did the same. As for the latter, one of his hands pulled on the reins while the other one held tenderly on wounded Aya who trembled to balance on the horse.

"You promised me that you'll live on!"

Aya couldn't avoid the strong desire to close her eyes for a short rest, but still, she smiled and nodded her head weakly.

Staring into the direction of the homeland, though it was just as dark as the whole surrounding, determine Oscar motioned for the horse to charge forward.

"Ha!" The horse took to the Prince's order and began galloping into the dark.

Numerous flaming arrows appeared across the dark night. Despite the sky being covered with curtains of rain, the combustion rate from the friction with the cold northern wind remained strong. The arrows crashed into darkness when the fire eventually went off, but the bright light had already reflected the silhouettes who dashed across the hill. The Deiss knights cried loudly, the spurs equipped on their boots mercilessly pierced into the poor horses' belly! They broke through the freezing rain and the cold fog in an effort to commence a mad chase after the enemy.

Sounds of the wind and rain quickly disappeared behind them, as the rain grew denser whilst they ventured deeper into the forest. The heavy rainfall seemed like an opened faucet with an endless supply of water pouring out from its opening. Nonetheless, Oscar sped forward without determining his directions with much care.

The noise of hooves galloping frantically in the mud seemed to have gotten more earth-shattering coming from behind! This made Oscar immensely paranoid! Their fleeing felt endless as if the destination was in some faraway land. At last! The soldiers behind caught up and both parties engaged in close combats. In the midst of rain and wind, the noise of metal weapons clanging against each other was heard loud and clear despite the overwhelming clatters of hooves. Deiss soldiers soared and roared as if the inner beasts in them had been awakened after a deep long sleep.

Eventually, Paul and Shaw split ways when their supply of flying daggers ran out. However, the soldiers didn't stop the pursuit. Paul finally pulled out his knightly sword, and the mere appearance of it made the Deiss knight who took a rapid turn from the corner jumped off his speeding horse. Black Devil was also unwilling to be outdone. His sword blocked the incoming attack of a saber, smashed a spear into pieces, and chopped off an arm in half! The enemy troop seemed to have slowed down a little, but they knew it was only the beginning of another battle.

"Ah!" Oscar shouted in surprise, as an arrow decorated with feathers of eagle planted on his shoulder. He glanced to the direction from which the attack initiated and noticed the same knight had once again pulled at his bow! Enduring the intense pain, Oscar clenched his teeth, and abruptly charged toward the knight! As expected, the arrow shot lost its aim. The knight put his bow away, and pulled out another wide knightly sword! At this exact moment, Oscar's horse threw itself at the knight. The man screamed in agony as his leg was badly injured. His grip loosened and his knight's sword fell from his hand!

Oscar seized the opportunity and penetrated his sword into the body of the enemy! He didn't draw out his weapon immediately, instead, he used it as a tool to flog the enemy's horse along.

"Aya! Retrieve his bow and arrow!" His Highness Prince ordered loudly.

At this critical moment, the severely-wounded Aeolia did her best to elevate her energy, and successfully retrieved the enemy's weapons from the dead man's body.

"Pull on the reins!" Oscar took over the bow and arrows, before pushing the reins into Aya's hands.

Perhaps it had been too long since he last did this kind of activity! Oscar regulated his breathing carefully, simultaneously trying hard to recall the excellent horsemanship and tricks he learned during his times back in polo club of Imperial Military Academy. As the galloping steed exercised its muscles with vigorous rhythm, Oscar suddenly turned his body. The scene of the dark landscape entered his eyes clearly, and Oscar became incredibly excited as he realized he just made a successful turn!

He drew the bow and arrow in only one swift move! Feeling the jolting rhythm of the speeding horse, and the cold wind and rain slapping brazenly on his face, Oscar managed to locate his target. At last! The arrow flew from the bow and initiated a large arch across the night sky!

"Piece of shit!" His Highness cursed softly. He wasn't Wellington Steinberger, after all. His arrow landed somewhere in the dark, and his target was still speeding across the vast field.

The stubborn young prince once again drew the bow and tried his best to aim despite the bobbing weapon as his horse galloped. Suddenly! Oscar's horse leaped to the same height as the Deiss knights'! The enemy's silhouette appeared perfectly on the aiming point of the bow, and Oscar lifted his fingers. He watched in satisfaction as the target fell off from the horse, and disappeared into the darkness.

***************

"Next!"

The enemy's forehead was split into two, and the young sentry shoved him aside as he didn't pose any more threat. Then, he raised his long sword and rushed toward another enemy! But simultaneously, he felt a powerful force shoving at his butt, which caused him to fall flat-faced on the ground. He cursed as he scrambled to his feet, vowing to crush the person who kicked him into a pulp! However, almost as soon as he finished the thought, he discovered a large arrow planted in the place where he stood just seconds ago.

Another young soldier who guarded at the same pit ran ahead to strike at an attacking enemy. He grinned from ear to ear as he met with his companion, "Haha! I finally have a chance!"

The sentry hadn't got any idea as to why the man had laughed out loud at such a critical juncture, but it suddenly hit him that his messenger was also brave soldier! He saw a Deiss archer being dragged on the ground by a mountain warrior, and also he noticed…

"Oh, God! Yet another company!" The sentry gathered his companion and they swiftly took cover into the forest. With practiced speed and agility, they managed to avoid the fighting soldiers and once again returned to their hiding place in the cave.

"My God of Light! How many more men do they have?" The sentry turned fidgety, as this was already the fourth company that they encountered in this particular line of defense. "Faulty information! The enemy has more than two company! They're at least a whole division! You must report this to the headquarter!"

"No!" The young messenger shook his head. "It doesn't matter anymore! We also have the man of two company! Moreover, the headquarters have no more available soldiers, and the enemy has already entered our defense anyway. I will not leave you behind! You kicked me twice just now, but I only managed to revenge once!"

"You…" The sentry shook his head helplessly, as he watched the enemy who ran in their direction.

This wasn't an ambush anymore! Despite the heavy downpour, the two sides were engaging in a bout of fierce fighting in the middle of the forest. Deiss Ninth SS Independent Cavalry Brigade only sent out a company to backup a platoon of soldiers, and the initial ambush effort hadn't realized their expected result. Both parties continuously mobilized numerous of their soldiers who had been scattered around hidden, repetitively trying to make a pass at the gradually-weakening defense line.

Brief moments later, the sentry and his young companion finally discovered a suitable thick rope and decided to use it for setting up a booby trap for the horses. Together, they pulled at the thick rope behind the mountain warriors who were slowly decreasing in number.

"Will you blame me for this? Perhaps we will be smashed into fragments by the Deiss soldier!" The sentry stayed hidden behind a tall old tree, he asked his companion in a tone full of regrets.

"Don't worry, the rain is to blame! Oh right! I still don't know your name!" The young mountain warrior smiled again, his white teeth gleamed in the dark.

"Maxime!" The sentry introduced himself.

"You can call me James!"

"Alright, James! Here they come! Let's pray!" The sentry stared right at the Deiss knights who were charging forward. His messenger had tied the thick rope firmly around a tree trunk.

The Deiss sped by, chanting and shouting with full strength. They knocked down the Titan mountain warriors who obstructed the way and hurried into the calm forest beyond the battlefield. Unexpectedly, their vanguard was thrown over from the horses and began wailing on the ground. The other Deiss soldiers who followed behind immediately pulled on their reins and the sudden halt caused an obstruction on the path of the entire troop. The cavalry at the back of the formation right away dispersed from the scene, only a bunch of knights gathered before the stumbled horses. These experienced knights who knew the danger and risk posed for them when gathered continued kicking at the horses, trying to turn the horse's head around to push them in the other direction.

Maxime, the most excellent soldier of the Second Corps, and James, the best messenger from the same corps, glanced at each other. Simultaneously, the both of them shouted loudly, and two robust figures leaped out from behind the tree! Weapons in hands, they waved frantically like two madmen and pounced themselves on the startled Deiss knights!

Numerous long spears were raised, aimed at them. Maxime made use of the momentum of his previous action and tumbled on the ground. He rolled across underneath the enemy horse's and reappeared from the other side! Longswords waved across the air like arcs of light, the tips of those swords seemed to be sharp enough to split the rain droplets into smaller fractions.

James avoided the enemy's knightly sword with ease. Although the Deiss knights appeared tall and mighty in the eyes of this young boy, these metallic weapons were not difficult to deal with. With a dexterous movement, James waved at his sword. The limbs of the beast flew across the field, and the enemy plunged to the ground together with his saddle horse. Seizing this opportunity, James performed a backhand swing and pierced it into the lungs of the enemy.

The sentry suddenly extended his leg, and once again the messenger fell to the ground! In that same instance, a saber slid above James's helmet by an inch rapidly!

"Damn it! It's already the third time!" The messenger cursed as he straightened himself. He stood back to back to the sentry, both of them faced the surrounding Deiss knights fearlessly.

All of a sudden, arrows showered from above like curtains of rain. Unprepared for this sudden attack, the knights who surrounded the two mountain warriors stumbled and fell! From the other side of the forests came about another earth-shattering roar of anger! Numerous Titan soldiers broke through the line of defense. They leaped over the bumpy gullies over the hill to avoid the assault of the enemy knights. In their hands waved weapons of various kinds, howling in anguish like wild beasts that had just escaped from cages.

"It's Brother Ciel's commando battalion!" Maxime hugged around James' neck in excitement! The rescue had arrived!

James cried out the chant of the commando battalion as he held his sword aloft. He struggled out of Maxime's embrace and pounced on the nearest enemy, taking the other party by surprise! Having witnessed his companion bravery, Maxime who hated to be defeated also threw himself at the enemy. The fighting continued on, splashing fresh red blood into the night sky.

The fierce battle between Deiss knights and mountain warriors carried on along a row of birch trees. The dense forest fog diluted after the heavy rain. The beasts drenched in the rain let out angry roars, issuing the brutal cries of death!

First Lieutenant Ciel wiped off his sweat mingled with muddy water and blood droplets. Just moments ago, these young men from his battalion succeeded to chase the Deiss who were about to break through the siege back into the forest. Behind Ciel, the soldiers from First Division of the Second Corps of the Eighth Region of Titan's Imperial Guards formed the final blocking formation, as they knew that the Deiss were about to launch yet another offense from the opposite side of the jungle!

Ciel glanced over his warriors, yes, his warriors! Looking at his warrior, yes, this is his fighter! The division commander of First Division and the other three regimental commanders were all sacrificed in the previous battle! What in the world was this Ninth SS Independent Cavalry Brigade exactly?

"Flaming arrows!" Cold rain and chill breeze struck Ciel on his face, the First Lieutenant's ferocious features twisted into a grimace as he trembled with cold. He commanded aloud, it was time!

The isolation belt on the frontier of Titan soldiers was burning in flames, although the fire thinned down slightly at the rainfall. The archers stood on the first line lowered the arrowheads, immediately, they caught on fire, producing light fizzling noise.

"Raise at ten degrees, and… go!"

The flaming arrows penetrated into the curtain of rain, piercing through the quiet forest. The smoke and fire emitted bright red light which reflected upon the forest, lighting up the night sky.

All of a sudden, as the fire vanished into the darkness, Deiss soldiers screamed a uniform loud cry. Across the woods, through the ditches, numerous knights in black surged out at once.

Ciel remained calm and examined the enemy's battle formation quietly. He sneered slightly at their non-existent formation! Woodland was not suitable for the cavalry to execute a sudden charge. Heavy rain obstructed their sight, and the muddy ground also further slowed down their attacking speed! There was no more point in fighting this battle, yet Ciel still admired the courage of these Deiss people. They were undoubtedly also a group of excellent soldiers!

"Archers, scatter around! Pikemen, step forward!"

In response to the order from Brother Ciel, the soldiers armed with spears gradually entered the frontier. The first and second rows of soldiers squatted down, with one end of the spear drilled into the dampened soil. After a brief while of adjustment, the forward line was turned into a spiked enclosure.

The Deiss moved too slowly! They had to avoid the tall trees and at the same time resist from the attack of arrows! Titan's mountain warriors watched in surprised as the knights ruthlessly tried to break through the spiked defense. Didn't they know that this kind of assault wouldn't work at all?

Still, the cavalry constantly crashed into the spear formation! The roar grew more and more intense in the thunderstorm! With their massive momentum, the pikemen defended tightly against the opponents with all their might, yet the Deiss, on the other hand, were also stubborn as to their intention!

Finally, one of the knights succeeded to break through, stepping over his companion's dead body! The mountain warriors shouted and pounded at him, and immediately he was drowned in the sea of knife and spears. The same thing happened on the other spots of the front! Warhorses burst into the spear array but were blocked by the shield. Quickly enough, the shield was also knocked open. However, the knight was then obstructed by the ax warriors!

The wind howled from the north, covered up slightly the ear-piercing cries of agony! The human bodies and horses staggered together as long spears and swords clashed against each other. Broken weapons and stumps cramped inside and outside the shield; underneath the foot of the soldiers who pushed against each other were the dead bodies of their companions and the enemy. Footprints of different sizes were imprinted deeply into the wet muddy surface, and bloody water began to accumulate in the holes made of footprints. The raindrops fell from above landed on the human bodies, some landed straight on the ground. The water from the bloody puddles splashed all over, even gradually forming a stream!

A brave and fierce Deiss knight hacked left and right frantically like a lunatic, his saber took away the lives of several mountain warriors. Several long spears hit his horse's chest, and the poor beast whined aloud as it stood on both leg. Yet, the knight remained calm! Leveraging the strength, he threw himself into the crowd, forcing his own body weight onto a few warriors. Almost immediately as he landed he sprung back on his feet, and continued waving his saber around with indifference to his surrounding! Mountain fighters kept on surrounding him, but with no alternative, they had to disperse under the pressure of the frantic saber attack.

Finally, a long sword warded off the saber! The Deiss' palm was cut by the sudden force slammed by the sword. He realized he met an equally aggressive opponent. The knight looked at the other party, and he was shocked by the opponent's horrifying facial features. First Lieutenant Ciel smiled slightly, this was the moment he had awaited! He could finally put his terrifying monster's appearance to good use. He slid a sharp-edged sword directly into his opponent's rib when the latter was distracted by his unique form. The longsword pierced the skin, cutting his sternum, and instantly took away his last breath! Titan soldiers dashed forward, soon countless knives made their marks on the enemy's body!

It was only until then that the soldiers suddenly discovered the battlefield had merged into the night scene of peaceful rain. Apart from the corpses who laid on the front line, there was not one enemy in sight within the forest!

Ciel held aloft his sword and issued a hoarse roar, the rest of the soldiers also held high their weapons and cheered aloud for their victory!

Titan soldiers' cheer spread across the vast forest with the help of the northern wind. In another forest, far away from the battle scene, one of the commanding officers of Deiss Ninth SS Independent Cavalry Brigade removed his close helmet slowly, staring into the direction where countless of his comrades rested forever.

"Commanding officer! We don't have anymore man between us and the enemy's front line!"

The commanding officer glanced at his officer, "Aggression against invaders go on and on, what remains, is the spirit of soldiers! These are the words of Titan themselves!"

The officer gave a nod of understanding. He turned his back around firmly to face their last couple of companies!

***************

"In formation!"

"Attack!" With a smile on his face, Major General Silvio Barrick looked at the enemy that was about to mount a charge, but he didn't give the stubborn man another chance. Relying on the powerful backing of the First Division, the Second Division that he personally directed not only discovered the hidden location of the enemy, they also managed to successfully outflank the enemy from the back.

The fighting began! Initially, it was only a fierce shower of arrow firing, then it was the charge mounted by countless mountain warriors, finally… Silvio turned to look at his messenger who stood aside.

"If they want to escape, let them! But remember to capture a few back, alive!"

His messenger nodded, but he was suddenly alarmed, his expression frightened.

Silvio Barrick turned to the direction his messenger pointed at with astonishment. Simultaneously, O'Neil Andrew Morisette also turned his head around with the same startled appearance.

"There are some knights speeding by from the left!" Aeolia shouted herself hoarse. They had come to a split in the road, the chasing troops that had been tailing them finally met with the knights that were charging from the other direction.

Once again, Oscar turned his back around while still seated on the horseback. He held Aya closely in his arms, and drew on the bow, aiming at the knights which were closing up from the left side!

"Damn! Damn it!" A similar fate as before, the arrow that he shot landed on the empty land once more. He finally accepted that this weapon was not suited for him. As His Highness put the bow away and pulled out his arms, the Deiss knights were already right behind his horse! Looking at the longsword which waved in front of his face, Oscar felt his body gave away... or was it the sword that slanted to the side? Paul drew his sword from the knight's body. Riding on the galloping steed, the King of Assassins didn't forget to pull a silly face at the young man.

"You need a couple more years of practice!"

Black Devil urged his horse forward, "He's right, Your Highness!"

Six pairs of hooves sped through the field, and puddles began plinking as the rainfall became even heavier. Close behind their back was the battalion of Deiss warriors, rushing after them like the sickle of Death, impatiently looking forward to harvesting the life and soul of its target.

Suddenly, the sound of water gushing was heard from the front. Oscar frowned at the new-found discovery, as the cascading noise grew louder as he sped forward. Soon, a wooden bridge of two meters wide and nearly twenty meters long entered his eyes. Oscar was the first to speed through it. The horse's force made the wooden bridge tremble violently, even the thick rope used to bind the bridge produced a strained sound at the sudden friction.

The timid horse slowed down on the swinging wooden bridge! Some broken wooden planks were seen flowing rapidly along the gushing water underneath the bridge. The current was rapid, the sound of torrential rain bucketing down along with the whooshing river produced a deafening orchestra of nature. The water level kept rising, both the high sides on the end of the suspension bridge had been washed to an unusual slope! The stampede of horses aggravated the burden on the suspension bridge. When His Highness and his men set foot on the suspension bridge, the distance between the lowest point and the rushing water was less than a meter.

As Oscar crossed the bridge, he suddenly noticed the wooden pier on one end of the bridge. The thick ropes that were used to fix the connecting wooden planks that constructed the bridge were tied around it.

Immediately he pulled on the reins, "I've got an idea!"

Paul and Black Devil understood tacitly! To destroy the suspension bridge was definitely their only way of shaking off the chasing troop.

Oscar revealed his longsword, "I'll check the invading troops! Aya, just stay right where you are! Paul, the column is yours! Shaw, are you ready?"

Black Devil looked on the other side of the bridge and caught sight of the gathering Deiss chasing troops. They already set foot on the bridge!

Shaw Curlink waved at his massive sword and exchanged smiles with His Highness the Prince.

"Kill!" Oscar shouted as if he wanted to pierce through the heaven and earth using his voice. He dashed across the suspension bridge, colliding with the knights who came at full speed from the other side.

The imperial assassin followed closely behind, his sword in hand. Oscar didn't give a slight attention to the spears and swords that came his way because Shaw's sword was already assigned that task.

His Highness charged into the rival crowd, his sword continuously slaying at the enemy's warhorse. In the midst of sorrowful moans, broken limbs and parts of torsos fell to the river, disappearing within seconds in the speedy currents.

Black Devil swiftly avoided the enemy's blow. In turn, he grasped the knight's hand which held the sword and threw the man off his horse. He twisted the enemy's arm, and the sounds of bones cracking and a cry of agony were heard at the same time. The Black Devil grabbed the longsword from his enemy's loosened grip and kicked the person, who gifted him a weapon, down the bridge.

The warhorses moved backward in terror, their instinct made them feel fearful to set foot on the suspension bridge. The Deiss knight was aware of this. Moreover, being on a shaky suspension bridge didn't provide the cavalry any advantage anyway.

Oscar avoided an incoming spear just in time! He then kicked at the knee joint of the warhorse in front of him with full strength, and immediately the horse fell into the water. The Black Devil pierced the long knife into the horse's stomach, causing both the animal and its rider to lean their body to one side as they trembled off balance, before finally giving in to the hurried water.

Oscar panted for more air to fill his lungs. He realized there was only him and the Black Devil on the bridge now. Behind him came the sound of Snowstorm's curse as he chopped frantically at the wooden pier. On the other end of the bridge in front of him gathered numerous Deiss knights who came down from their horses, obstructing the way forward. Oscar rolled his neck and gave his hands a good shake to loosen up the tensed muscles. Later, he took a few tentative steps forward and performed a stance of horse-riding step, at the same time pointing at his crotch.

"Come on, bastards! You have to pass through here to cross the bridge!"

The Deiss warriors were triggered! They charged forward, shouting a deafening roar! Similarly, the imperial assassin and the honored imperial member welcomed them with the same gesture and even more earth-shattering screams! In the middle of the bridge ensued a battle that would decide the moment of life and death! Glints and flashes of knives and swords accompanied the sparks produced as metals clashed against one another, just like the way brazen cold wind and rain intermingled with the cascading water.

"Right! To your right!" Suddenly, Paul's loud voice appeared from the other end of the bridge.

Oscar and Shaw Curlink exchanged glances in terror. They worked together to force the enemy troops back, and quickly held onto the thick rope tied to the right side of the bridge!

Paul shouted aloud like a carpenter, as he swung a final blow onto the wooden column! Followed by a crisp noise of the cracking wood, gravity worked its wonder and pulled the column off where it was positioned. On one side of the suspension bridge the wooden planks slanted toward the river, and those Deiss warriors on the bridge gave out a last cry before they finally dropped into the water!

Only one more side now! Paul dashed toward another column, but his sword only managed to leave a couple of scratches on the sturdy wood!

Oscar and Black Devil glued their steps on the iron chain which connected the planks, all hands grasped tightly on the thick ropes on the railing as if their lives depended on it. Right now, the suspension bridge was only supported by this iron chain and thick rope. The Deiss who hadn't give up once again boarded the bridge! No! In fact, to be more specific, they were more like acrobatics who hung on to the iron chain, trembling to balance, but still continued their fierce fight with Oscar!

Positioned at the back of the chain, Shaw couldn't contribute any effort to the fight. Therefore, he leaped back onto the opposite bank to chop at the column.

Oscar burst into laughter! Out of his expectation, this fellow at the opposite climbed up the rope with a tomahawk in his hand. The young prince ended this idiot's life within seconds, but of course, he grabbed over the tomahawk before kicking the poor man into the river. While the next Deiss soldier slowly made his way to the rope, Oscar threw the newly obtained weapon to his companion, Paul, who stood on the bank.

"Ah!" Oscar shouted in pain when he returned his attention to the enemy. His opponent made a cut on Oscar's arm when he grasped on the rope! Oscar almost loosened his grip because of the excruciating pain. The cut was so deep that his bone was seen! Through gritted teeth, he swayed his longsword once more! He was determined to send all the enemies into the river to feed the fishes. He ought to be the last one standing on the bridge!

Thunders roared as lightings clashed together. The thunderstorm showed no indication of calming down. The loosened planks of the suspension bridge hung themselves inches above the water surface, shaking violently under the baptism of the torrential rain. A bloody young man constantly waved his sword, he screamed at full force as he fought back the enemy on the bridge.

Aeolia was weeping her heart out. She knew she could never forget this stormy night, the image of this young man fighting alone despite covered in cuts and wounds! Aya's tears resembled the rain that poured from the sky above her head. She could only stand there, not able to assist the young man fighting a lonely, bloody battle!

"Watch out for the arrows!" Aya screamed in fear.

Oscar felt frustrated as the archers showed up on the opposite of the bank out of nowhere.

The arrows flew passed his eyes! He was shocked to realize he wasn't the target, but soon one followed after another, the Black Devil and Paul cried in pain!

"Cover Paul!" Oscar shouted full-throated. However, the second round of arrow attacks came again. His Highness kept them off with each scream. Yet, two arrows planted themselves onto his body.

"No! You should come back here!" The Black Devil leaped onto the rope. Grabbing the young prince by his wrist, he swung the latter to the bank in one forceful throw.

Oscar cursed lowly as he regained his balance. He positioned himself in front of Paul, who was focused on chopping the wood and waved his sword frantically in a whirlpool to ward off the incoming arrows.

Finally, Paul let out an ear-shattering shout, as the tomahawk stuck the wooden pier, and the bridge posts began to shake violently.

"Shaw!" Oscar screamed aloud to arouse his companion's attention, "Jump now!"

Shaw Curlink immediately made a few large jumps across the rope, and performed a final leap over to the bank!

The last wooden post dropped to the gushing river as Black Devil flew across the air! Wooden planks and ropes fell off within seconds, numerous cries of terror were heard behind the imperial assassin!

"No!" Shaw Curlink made it to the side of the bank, but he failed to land safely on the slippery steep slope. His whole body smashed against the side of the bank, his hands scratched frantically in search for something that he could hold on to, but the muddy water made him glide down swiftly.

Just as Shaw was about to fall into the abyss, a long arm full of strength grasped his wrist!

In that instant, the twisted features of Snowstorm which appeared in front of his face was the most beautiful thing he had seen on earth.

Aya went forward to assist dragging Shaw up to the bank. Oscar also stopped shooting arrows, as the chasing troops on the other end of the bank seemed to have given up eventually! One after another they leaped onto their horse, appeared to be heading for another bridge.

"Haha!"

"Hehe!"

"Hey!"

As the silhouettes of the chasing troops slowly disappeared into the darkness, the three massive men wrapped their arms around each other! Worn out of energy, all three of them knelt to the ground, forehead to forehead, arms draped around each other, puffing and panting while sounding some bizarre laughter.

Aya who stood tall in the rain broke out into laughter too. She grinned from ear to ear, because… she finally made up her mind as to what she would do!

**************

The sun raised to the sky with the speed of a tortoise, occasionally making a pause on the horizon. Perhaps it grew weary and was waiting for the arrival of a rented carriage to move it to its next destination. Perhaps it was slightly embarrassing for it as, in the late fall, it was nothing more than a red ball of chilling coldness.

The woods were tainted in gorgeous colors thanks to the reddish light of the sunrise. Withered red maple leaves had long fallen from the trees, what replaced were tiny fresh green sprouts. Oak trees and birch trees positioned themselves closely against each other, with fragrant camellia sandwiched in between. Even as winter grew closer, Camellia trees still maintained their dark green branches. At the foot of the tea tree, its roots protruded off the ground. On the dark wood also scattered with tiny mushrooms of various colors.

The torrential rain that happened last night made the bleak cold winter scene! The faint sunlight failed to penetrate into the deeper and denser area of the forest. At the tip of the branches, and between the withering grass, transparent fresh dews slid slowly across the edges. An accidental touch of the fresh droplets would send trembling shivers that penetrated into one's bone.

"Early this morning, our empire's Imperial Guards Eighth Region Second Corps' First Division and Second Division succeeded in blocking the troops and destroying a part of Deiss Ninth SS Independent Cavalry Brigade within the northern area of the Deiss border!"

"That's alright!" Major General Silvio Barrick motioned to his secretary. "Just report as it is to Northern Army Group Battlefield Command!"

"Don't you want to further polish it?" The secretary asked in astonishment, "We have endured great hardships in winning this battle, our First Division almost…"

"That's good to go!" the officer waved his hands impatiently. "This is enough for a battlefield communique. You're not writing a heroic epic!"

First Lieutenant Ciel abruptly broke into the temporary tent.

"Report! That fella just woke up!"

Silvio turned around to look at his captain of guards which doubled as the leader of the commandos. The butcher had several layers of bandages around his head. During the battle last night, one fierce, high-ranking Deiss officer made a rough cut directly on this commander's close helmet. The military medical officer had to shave the man's head in order to treat the wound. All of these frustrated Silvio to his limits, but immediately he felt much better as he could go on to interrogate that Deiss general who had caused him numerous headaches and troubles!

Soldiers shuttled to and fro in the woods at a hurried pace. Some were rinsing the blood and mud stained weapons, some were repairing the broken armors, but the majority of them were inspecting the dead bodies of the enemy.

Silvio led a group of officers through the woods. The approaching soldiers all rushed forward to salute him, and Silvio returned their greetings with genuine kindness.

"What's going on over there?" Silvio suddenly paused his steps at the sound of terrifying cries which came from the other side of the woods.

"That's where we gathered the dead and wounded. Honestly, you wouldn't want to go there!" One of the officers replied.

Silvio gave an understanding nod but didn't say another word. His man was probably right, it wouldn't a good idea to visit there. That place was sometimes addressed as hell on earth. Silvio had experienced that few years before, and he wasn't sure if he wouldn't lose his sanity again like he did the last time he set foot in that place. Therefore, this decision was for the better.

The mountain soldiers buried their Deiss captives in the ground, only leaving their heads sticking out of the ground. The piece of vacant land in the woods was suddenly filled with heads. These Yarans' golden hair made them looked like cabbages sprinkled with golden specks of dust. These poor "vegetables" watched at the pacing Titans anxiously, as they had no idea what was going to happen next!

"We're here!" Silvio leaped over one head after another. These plants looked no different in his eyes.

First Lieutenant Ciel stopped in front of one particular "cabbage" and shouted, "It's him, commander!"

Butcher hurried forward. He squatted on his knees and examined the thing on the ground like a curious kid out on an exploration.

"Good morning!" Silvio greeted the man in Titan language.

The Deiss officer pursed his lips, determined to make no response.

"Good… day!" Silvio then tried to speak to the man in his poor Deiss, but the other party was still silent as a corpse. Seeing no progress from the man, the butcher stood back to his feet with no alternative. "Ciel! This man is a mute! Let's start from that side and not waste our time!" The commander said and pointed to a corner filled with numerous head.

First Lieutenant Ciel motioned to the gathering crowd, and the rest of the warriors walked toward the direction with hammers in their hands.

"Division commander of Deiss Ninth SS Independent Cavalry Brigade!" The knight finally mumbled something as he realized these Titans were about to harm his soldiers.

"Oh?" Silvio turned around. "Hold on a second!" The mountain warriors who were about to strike put down their weapons.

"Who is the leader of this self-acclaimed SS Independent Cavalry Brigade?" Silvio squatted down again and examined the man who almost split his head in half!

"Answer my question, will you? I don't want to initiate an unpleasant conversation!"

"Division commander of Deiss Ninth SS Independent Cavalry Brigade!"

"Damn!" Silvio whispered to himself. He knew that this stubborn guy had to be agitated to speak the truth. "Alright, let me rephrase it! Is it one, or two?"

Division commander of Deiss Ninth SS Independent Cavalry Brigade looked at the commander in confusion.

"Three then, if I don't get an answer!" Silvio said as he motioned to the warriors, and a massive hammer was raised in the air.

"National Defense Forces!"

"Stop!" Once again Silvio called out to his soldiers. "National Defense Forces? I've not heard of this before! Are you part of the National Military? You better explain yourself clearly, if not… I don't know if the next question will cost you one soldier or all of them!"

This officer took a deep breath, as he glared into the enemy's eyes. From the stern look of his eyes, he knew this was a man who would do as he threatened.

"National Defense Forces is the elite crack force built by Deiss royal family to nurture the local nobles. You probably have not heard of it before as we have only just formed recently, and have not been designated any military unit by the Supreme High Command until this battle broke out."

"Excellent!" Silvio gave a meaningful nod as he stood up. He turned around to his secretary and ordered. "This is exactly what Marshal Alan need, submit this confession along at the end of battlefield communique. Remember each and every word he said and write with meticulous precision!"

"And so…" Silvio snatched over the massive hammer from the hands of his warrior and positioned himself properly in front of the enemy.

"Last question!" Butcher rested the tomahawk above the head of the division commander of Deiss Ninth SS Independent Cavalry Brigade.

"One or all?"

The rest of the Deiss soldiers who surrounded their commander broke into howls of sorrowful anguish, as they struggled to break free from the soil. If saliva could kill, they would definitely murder this Titan leader in the most unimaginably cruel flood of drool, and then they would pick him up from the river of drool and burn him with oil.

Glancing around at the familiar, enraged faces, this division commander gave a faint smile, "Aggression against invaders go on and on, what remains, is the spirit of soldiers! I choose one!"

The tomahawk in the butcher's hands was swung to the ground!

Fresh red blood and white matter splattered all over his feet. Silvio threw the hammer away and began examining the battle communique thoroughly with much care. Everything was alright and would be perfect with his signature!

The butcher took the quill handed over to him by his secretary and signed the battle communique with his signature. He raised his head abruptly and asked, "Oh! What's the date today?"

***************

"9th day of the 11th month!" Aeolia planted a light kiss on the man who was sleeping soundly, "Happy birthday, my love!"

Aeolia caressed Oscar with her eyes for the last time, and the memories of his birthday ball back in year 791 came flooding into his mind. He almost drooled as he saw herself that had dressed up in splendid attire! Aya couldn't help but laugh as she thought of this! But, her hand immediately rushed to cover her mouth!

The countess broke free from the man's arms carefully. She straightened up herself quietly, and once again inspected the hidden place these men finally found after a long search. In fact, this was only a stable used to store thick hay. Oscar curled up in the haystack, looking like a child! Snowstorm and Black Devil rested themselves on the other side. They were all sleeping soundly after a night of tough struggle.

Aya gently opened the door of the stable, and the early morning sun burst into the interior. Suddenly, the countess became anxious and slightly miserable! Furthermore, the wound on her body was giving out an excruciating pain! However, the stubborn lady stood tall, determined. In just a few moments later, pain and sadness would no longer be anyone's troubles!

With much difficulty, she leaped onto the horseback, holding in her hands were the reins of the two remaining horses. Basking in the slight warmth of the rising sun, a weak and lonely figure sped to the opposite direction of the escape route, in an indescribable melancholy! <script>chaptererror();</script>

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