Dragon Devouring Mage Chapter 239

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Dragon devouring mage

KWAAAAAAAH!

The speed of the flight, surpassing the speed of sound by far, caused the atmosphere to be pushed back rapidly, and whirlwinds arose. The fierce jet streams stretched out long like tails, and amidst the sounds of “gyareureureuk”, a crimson dragon with two pairs of wings sliced through the sky. One of the men riding on its back shouted loudly, “War? You mean to say the Empire has launched a surprise attack?”

The young man, with black hair and red eyes—a rarity on the continent—spoke with a sense of urgency. In response, the ashen-haired man sitting behind him on the dragon nodded swiftly.

“Yes.”

Both youths appeared completely unfazed by the strong winds battered by their supersonic flight. And they had every reason to be fearless, for they were none other than Russell and Allen Page. Russell, with the magical prowess of an 8th Circle Master, and Allen, who had surpassed the 6th Circle and was now approaching the 7th.

For such individuals, a mere gust of wind was insignificant. After nodding, Allen opened his mouth to speak again─

“The Empire launched its surprise attack about three weeks ago……late at night, well past midnight.” ─His story began to backtrack to the moment the Empire’s assault had started.

The fortress of Rhabitôn was a small stronghold erected near the eastern borders of Endymion, tasked with monitoring the suspicious movements of the Imperial army and acting as an advance base for launching attacks, should war break out. As such, the residents of this petite stronghold were few, with most of them either being trained soldiers or officers. Civilians were few enough to count on one hand.

WHOOSH…

The wind blew across the ramparts, creating eerie, ghostly howls.

Past midnight.

At that sound, a lone sentry gripped his spear tighter. It was only natural for the troops stationed in such a place, designed as an outpost for reconnaissance and first-strike capabilities, to be somewhat tense. However, in recent days, the atmosphere had grown unusually dire. What had once been simple tension had curdled into an air of foreboding among the soldiers.

And no wonder.

Rumors of a possible all-out war with the Empire meant not even seasoned soldiers could ease their nerves.

It was at that moment─

CLOMP, CLOMP─

Footsteps echoed from the stairs leading up to the ramparts where he was standing vigil.

Glancing sideways, the sentinel saw a group of soldiers, torches in hand, ascending to take over the next shift.

“Ah, so cold…”

Leading the newcomers with shivering form, the man was a fellow senior soldier.

“Quit complaining, just get up here. I need to go inside for some warm tea before I can even think about sleep.”

“Your fuss over standing a few more minutes is hardly the end of the world.”

Muttering under their breath, the newly arrived soldier positioned himself beside the current one. Pulling out a cigarette, he lit it and handed another to his comrade.

“Huh… So? Anything unusual during your shift?”

“Nothing out of the ordinary so far, but this haunting calm is actually worrying me.”

Agreeing with the sentiment, the smoking man exhaled a long stream of smoke and nodded his head.

“Exactly. Those damn Imperials have stirred up a climate of fear, and it’s been days since we’ve been placed on high alert. To make matters worse, undead? Those cursed bastards.”

The typical banter between soldiers, accentuated by Endymion’s characteristic animosity towards the Empire, continued.

“Let them try to storm us. I’ll pierce their skulls with this spear at once…”

“Ah, why stop speaking suddenly? If you’re going to smash them, then smash them.”

“Look, look over there…”

In the midst of their conversation, the cigarette fell from the lips of the first soldier.

His companion who was about to retire to the warmth of the barracks turned his head at this sudden cessation of talk and at that precise moment, bells sounding an alarm began to clatter throughout the vicinity.

DANGDANGDANGDANGDANG, DANGDANGDANG-!

“An enemy attack, it’s an enemy attack!”

“Blue Ghostfires! The undead are swarming!”

Still shrouded in the thick darkness of night before dawn, beyond the horizon, a wave of Blue Ghostfires surged toward the fortress like a tide.

TATATATATATACK-!

“On that day, nine regions, including fortresses and domains, came under attack. Three of them suffered near total devastation…”

It was not necessary to explain where the near total devastation had occurred. It would likely be either a lightly-defended fortress or a border domain. If the latter were the case, civilian casualties would also not be insubstantial.

As Russell listened to the report, his face hardened with resolve. Meanwhile, Allen continued with his briefing.

“Upon receiving reports of the surprise attacks, troops were dispatched to counter and, as of now, we have retaken four of the nine occupied areas. Since then, large and small skirmishes are being reported constantly, and we’ve yet to see any activity from the Imperial supers.”

The Imperium had yet to deploy their supers, despite having launched the initial salvo of the war. Such individuals, capable of turning entire battlefields on their heads with their power, were not unknown quantities.

‘What in the world is the Empire thinking?’

Unable to fathom their motives, Russell frowned and then inquired.

“What decision has been made at the royal capital… What has His Majesty decided?”

“Immediately after dispatching forces to respond, His Majesty ordered the assembly of troops in preparation for war with the Empire. Included in the assembled forces are the Elf and Beast tribes.”

It was precisely for this reason that Mwendoline Arian of the Elf tribe had been absent.

The Elf and Beast tribes.

The agreement reached with both tribes, providing them with a place to live, had also encompassed such events.

‘Muyaho will be included as well.’

If Daria could be considered the kingdom’s greatest mage, then Muyaho was undoubtedly Endymion’s strongest Aura practitioner. It would be nonsensical to keep such firepower idle. The real question, however, was whether they could control her wild and free nature…

As Russell pondered, Allen’s voice steadily continued the report.

“Preparations have been completed over the past three weeks, and after the parade, His Majesty plans to issue a declaration of war against the Empire.”

“Parade?”

“Yes. Which is to say, today…”

“—?!”

* * *

In the Imperial palace, the new Emperor, Conrad IV, sat in his throne room supported by towering marble columns, adorned with art pieces clearly worth a fortune. Yet, despite the opulence, there was an undeniable chill pervading the space.

Courtiers whispered that simply entering and leaving the throne room brought on chills or troubled dreams. Unfazed by these unsettling vibes and rumors, Emperor Conrad IV remained composed as he spoke.

“Thanatos.”

“Yes, my lord.”

At his call, the shadows converged in a corner of the throne room before transforming into the figure of a man.

Towering over two meters with a sinister light peeking out from beneath his hooded robe, it was none other than Thanatos.

“I’ve heard you mobilized our forces towards Endymion recently. What’s become of that?”

In response to Emperor Conrad IV’s query, Thanatos respectfully bowed and slowly began to speak.

“As you command, I shall report.”

The narrative was similar to the one conveyed to Russell, except the positions of the Empire and the Kingdom were reversed.

“Preparing for a parade and gathering their troops, eh…”

The Emperor trailed off, picking up a chess piece.

“Finally, we can start a real war.”

Click—

Unlike typical chess pieces, this one was a malevolent shade of crimson, like congealed blood. Conrad IV twirled it in his hand, letting out a chuckle as he did so.

His laughter suddenly stopped after a while—abruptly, as if cut by a blade.

Snap!

The piece crumbled in his grip, scattering fragments around as they fell.

And with that, his eyes shifted to a map of the continent laid out next to the chessboard. Looking over the territories of the two powers dividing the continent—Endymion and Britannia—he focused on one.

Sprinkling the crushed remnants of the red piece over the territory, he muttered to himself,

“A war that drowns the Empire’s land in blood…”

Surprisingly, the place he dusted with the red powder wasn’t atop Endymion, but rather over the Empire’s own territory…

Seeming to find this amusing, Conrad IV once again began to snicker to himself.

This scene had unfolded just a few days before Russell returned from the Spirit Realm, within the Imperial throne room.

* * *

“Your Majesty.”

At the voice of the Defense Minister, the King, who was in the midst of preparing for the military parade with the assistance of a maid, nodded.

“I understand.”

Wrapping the regal cloak, embroidered with the kingdom’s emblem, around himself, he looked concerned as he asked,

“And… have we received any news from the Archduke?”

“No, Your Majesty. There has been no word as of yet.”

“Hmm…”

King Alphonso Ratmos let out a sigh, remembering the message received from Mwendoline Arian of the Elf Tribe about a month ago.

‘How severe must the situation be if after a whole month, he still hasn’t returned from the Spirit Realm?’

Even his daughter Hecate was, though she did not show it, losing sleep over concern.

‘Let him return safely.’

With that thought, the King proceeded outside, taking place upon the prepared podium.

Below him, he could see the ranks of the kingdom’s army filling the space to the brim. A mere glance suggested their number surpassed tens of thousands, and remarkably, these soldiers were but a fraction of the full force. Several times this number were gathered outside the capital, and when combined with those assembling from other provinces, their numbers swelled to tenfold.

“Long live the King!”

The cheers erupted as the King raised his hand.

“With a single stroke─”

“Peace has been shattered, and our lands have been tainted by the vile war-mongers of the Empire…”

He calmed the cheers and continued with a solemn voice.

“And so, I, Alphonso Ratmos, King of the Great Endymion, to soothe the souls of our fallen brethren, will demand retribution upon the Empire.”

Bang!

He stamped his foot down hard. Even though he wasn’t a Master, his youth had been dedicated to honing his Aura. A wave of dense energy rippled from the podium.

“The Tower Lord, Daria Snow White, upon the royal decree, is appointed the Commander-in-Chief and leader of the First Army!”

At the King’s stern command, Daria was the first to step forward and kneel.

“Tower Lord Daria Snow White. I heed the call of Your Majesty.”

The Tower Lord, master of the most destructive elements among the four primary magics—fire and lightning—had stepped to the forefront.

“The Lord of Autumn Moon Castle, Gillian Ferson, to command the Second Army…!”

The commanders of the Third and Fourth Armies, Arekx Kaylen and Niccolo Machiavelli, were named in order. With only the Fifth Army’s command left unannounced, the King momentarily hesitated.

The Fifth Army included the so-called Water King, Muyaho, whose raw strength alone merited command. However, her free-spirited nature was ill-suited to the role.

‘And so I planned to appoint someone capable of controlling her as commander of the Fifth Army…’

Given the current circumstances, he had no choice but to temporarily place the Tower Lord of the White Tower, Amelia Mervin, in charge of logistics, as commander.

“The commander of the Fifth Army will be…”

As the King was about to speak, ZZZZIIIIIIPP!

A crimson bolt of lightning split the sky, striking in front of the podium.

“What in the— Who dares?!”

The guards reached for their swords in alarm, but before they could react further…

Landing with an impressively stable descent despite the tremendous velocity, a man with black hair knelt on one knee.

“The Kingdom’s Archduke, Russell Raymond. I have just arrived, Your Majesty.”

The magician who ate the dragon.

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