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528 Self-directed Oscars 2/4

 Rhode was unfazed by Celia's ambush. In fact, he had expected this to happen because he knew that this Battle Angel was a serious and rigid person. Moreover, Rhode's method might not be accepted by other humans, not to mention a Battle Angel. Although Celestina had made a solemn vow to Rhode that Celia wouldn't harm him because of this matter, Rhode wasn't truly dumb enough to believe her. Even though Rhode considered that Celestina didn't lie to him, he also believed that she wasn't being exactly truthful. They might have a much closer relationship after getting along these past few days, but Rhode refused to believe that this cunning Demon young lady would trust himself that easily.

And it seemed like Rhode's thoughts were accurate.

"Explanation?"

"Yes, Master. Although I understand your view on this, I hope to hear it from you personally. Why did you choose such a cruel method? We don't need to disturb the lives of the civilians and simply accomplishing our goal will be sufficient," Celia said calmly while Rhode gazed into the burning flames in her eyes. He disregarded the blade by his neck and he leaned back on his seat with his arms folded. He revealed a mocking smile to the young lady.

"Indeed, that's your method, Celia. You're an Angel, but I'm not... I'm a human... And humans have their own practices and standards of conduct. Everyone has principles that they hold onto and that's the same for me. I don't wish to explain the words that I've said to Celestina twice. The only thing that I will tell you is... As long as I get the victory that I want, I don't mind choosing the cruel choice... I can tell you that this is for the King's Party, for the Southern civilians to lean towards Golden City, and also for our plans to turn out well, which will also weaken the enemies' strength. Of course, these are reasons, and most importantly, it can give me firm, reliable victory," Rhode spread his arms apart. "And now, I need you to be the final piece of the puzzle, Celia. You're the key to this plan and I hope you can understand and accept... This isn't a request."

"..." Celia displayed a conflicted expression mixed with helplessness, anger, sadness, and pain. "Master, I have no rights to meddle with your freedom. But... Is this really fine?"

"As long as I get the victory, nothing will be the problem. But everything will become a problem if I fail." Rhode gestured with his hand. "There's no need to explain that only victory and not failure is permitted. I don't see the need for me to say this much. I'm just gonna do what I feel is right."

Rhode revealed a pair of malevolent eyes that Celia had never seen before. "Because this is necessary and I won't accept anything other than victory."

Celia didn't hear what Rhode added on at the end. She was intimidated by his eyes. Ever since she came to this world after awakening, she was the Holy Sword spirit that spent the most time with Rhode. But she had never ever seen him with such an expression before-like a hungry wolf on the verge of death, tearing its prey to shreds with bloodshot eyes, using all its might in order to survive. This fanatical wildness was beyond human rationality and almost in the realm of the wild beasts. His savage eyes sent chills down her spine and she hadn't felt this way in a long time. Even the back of her neck had frozen as though an invisible, gigantic mouth was biting with its razor-sharp teeth and exerting more strength could crunch through her throat. At this moment, Rhode's voice freed her from the strange, demon-like shackles.

"Celia?"

"Ah...?" The strange radiance in Rhode's eyes had vanished and he didn't seem anywhere different. However, that expression had been deeply imprinted in her mind. She didn't question anything and she nodded simply. "I understand, Master... Although I don't like this method... I will act in accordance with your plan."

Celia gave up considering the reasons that Rhode had decided. Instead, her head was full of questions as to why he would have such fanatical emotions. She never thought that Rhode would be pressured by someone to his limit. He always thought things through before taking the next step, handled matters calmly, and resorted to any methods in order to be victorious. Besides, his strength, position, and identity had improved greatly. So, why would he act this way?

What exactly is he thinking of?

Rhode was somewhat surprised to see Celia obey his words that quickly. He didn't know what caused her strange behavior, but since the matter had been resolved and she didn't seem to condemn the idea, he wouldn't be that foolish enough to bring this matter up again.

"Okay then, you can have your rest, Celia. We will move out when the time is right."

Everything was torture for General Michael. With bloodshot eyes, he looked lifelessly at the red clouds, tinged with sunset hues by the horizon. This senior had never in his life wished for the sun to fall below the horizon at a later time. Although he had sent a frantic letter to the Reformist Party, he knew that he wouldn't leave this place unless necessary. No matter what, this was where all the Southern civilians' foodstuff was and if he left, the South would be in further unrest and the civilians would be implicated. This was the last thing that General Michael wished to see.

The situation at hand didn't turn out better and the biggest headache he had was that he couldn't find the rumored 'Undead Army'.

General Michael was aware that the Necromancer had swept across multiple villages and he also knew that the Necromancer's strength was getting stronger and stronger. On one hand, he was extremely worried about the near future and on the other hand, he was glad that he could spot them much easier with that many Undead Creatures around the Necromancer. Due to this, General Michael had dispatched several scouts to search for the cunning Necromancer's hiding spot so that he could set up his defenses appropriately.

Of course, he wasn't aware that the enemies weren't true Undead Creatures. They were just cards that could be withdrawn after dealing with their business. Rhode had been roaming about alone and this was why General Michael couldn't spot anything suspicious at all.

This made General Michael really distressed. After all, the Undead Creatures' whereabouts were indefinite and they were moving at an exceedingly fast pace. Even though he had been on the alert and dispatched the scouts immediately after he was notified of the attacked village, the scouts couldn't spot any Undead Creatures when they had arrived. Instead, it was only the burning village and the strange ruins without a single corpse.

General Michael felt exceptionally fearful about them disappearing without a trace. He had strengthened the mobile patrols around the Stronghold and dispatched five groups of soldiers to rotate in standing guard, to which the soldiers grumbled endlessly. He had no time to be concerned about this problem anymore. He wished that this unfortunate trouble would be resolved as soon as possible and he would be truly free of worldly worries.

He let out a long sigh at this thought. Even though he was exhausted, a decision from the Southern Parliament allowed him to be at ease. After a 'long' discussion, the Reformist Party had finally decided to mobilize a mixture of troops consisting of private soldiers, city guards, and Southern Legion guards to his Stronghold. He would also be fully responsible for all of them.

In this critical juncture. General Michael didn't know how much of his command would be respected by the miscellaneous troops because they were the hardest to discipline altogether. However, there were at least 1,500 soldiers and with the manpower in the Stronghold, he wouldn't have any worries even if he had to launch an attack.

Clomp clomp clomp!

A series of rapid footsteps sounded from the corridor. The senior general puckered his brows and turned toward the pale-faced orderly. "R-Reporting Sir. We have just received a help signal. The reinforcements that are on their way to our Stronghold have been ambushed by the Undead Army in Kyrol River!"

The senior turned pale-faced instantly.

Scarlet radiance illuminated the town at the edge of the riverbank and the river reflected its brilliance glaringly. Rhode twitched his brows as he looked at the massive brigade of soldiers from the high mountain.

"I guess these ignorant masses are reinforcements dispatched by those idiots?" Celestia said with a scornful smile and she generously displayed her contempt and disdain for these enemies. "Master, you've decided to dispose of these large mobs of trash?"

"This is the best opportunity," Rhode said without batting an eyelid. The reason why he predicted that the reinforcements would head in this direction wasn't because of his high attainment in military affairs. Instead, it was easily guessable that the Reformist Party had sent miscellaneous troops just to appease the civilians and they had even called this decision as an 'alliance to protect civilians'. The civilians had been pacified by them for now, but, on the other hand, Rhode was aware of their exact location and it wouldn't be difficult for him to go through the Reformist Party's blockade defense and penetrate deeply all by himself.

The reinforcements arrived at the Kyrol River and would be stopping over for replenishment of supplies before heading into the Grosso Plain. This was the best spot to launch an attack. As long as he could utterly destroy all of them, the Reformist Party's reputation would be totally gone.

The corners of his mouth quirked up and he swung his arm downward. "Alright, let's get going."

"What a terrible weather..." A knight removed his helmet and scratched his messy hair.

He gazed at the sky depressingly and pouted like a little child. The damp, stuffy weather made him feel as though he was in an unbearable steamer basket. Although the temperature had dropped after the sun went down, it was still torturous for the noble private soldiers.

"Damn it. Why can't we rest for the night before continuing?"

"Because we're commanded by those bunch of officers, idiot." A huge hand slapped the pitiful Knight's head and he almost fell down his horse. The testy Squad Officer rode his horse towards them and glared coldly. "The two of you, don't forget about your identities. Keep it together! We have to arrive at the Grosso Stronghold by midnight to establish defenses against the Undead Creatures... Understand?"

"Yes yes yes, Sir. We will listen to all your commands..."

Although the Squad Officer reprimanded them sternly, the Knights disregarded him and they laughed it off. On the other hand, the Squad Officer suppressed his anger and displayed a sulking expression. He knew that his military soldiers and the private soldiers wouldn't get along well because private soldiers looked down on military soldiers who threw away their lives for the sake of money. Not sure which swine brain in the parliament actually thought that this idea was feasible... Damn it. Do they really think that they can win every war as long as there is enough manpower?

As the Squad Officer cursed inwardly, he heard strange sounds above and he looked up curiously. The strange sounds continued non-stop-like surging waves.

"W-What sound is that?"

The Knights and Infantries around him had also heard the strange sound. They slowed down their steps and subconsciously clasped their weapons. At this moment, the scarlet sunset on the other side of the horizon had set.

Swish... Swish...

"Hey, what's that sound?"

"Is that the river?"

"Huh? It shouldn't be. Why does it sound kinda odd?"

The sound got louder and clearer in every passing second. The Commanding Officer shouted loudly to calm the flustering soldiers down. However, it was apparent that he himself was nervous, judging from the way his fingers paled from grabbing the reins tightly.

The air thickened and they couldn't breathe properly.

"Huhuhu..." A sweet, crisp voice sounded above them. The soldiers looked toward the direction of the voice and they spotted a young lady hovering in the sky. She wore a gorgeous nightgown and her eyes were emanating scarlet radiance while a pair of expanded black wings flapped gracefully behind her back.

"I-It's a Demon!"

"Oh my God, why is there a Demon...!"

"Attack! Attack it now!"

The crowd burst into a disorderly confusion. Hundreds of Archers aimed their shivering bows at Celestina and released their arrows. However, an invisible barrier deflected the arrows.

"Foolish, lowly trash." Celestina chuckled behind her palm disdainfully. Ever since a corner of her seal was unlocked, this Demon young lady's strength had risen incredibly, and she was now even slightly stronger than Rhode. She felt no pressure against the miscellaneous troops at all. The scarlet radiance in her eyes erupted into a burst of brilliance.

The soldiers looked forward vacantly, their feet frozen to the spot.

Swish... Swish...

The sound that resembled the tides became louder and clearer. The soldiers finally realized where the sound came from-a sea of Undead Soldiers.

Oh my God. Why is the Undead Army here?!

Celestina squinted and revealed a threatening expression. "How dare you worthless humans attack me!"

She gestured her hand before her and a red beam flashed from her fair fingertip.

Boom! A thick crimson fog exploded and shrouded the soldiers completely. The soldiers panicked and escaped hurriedly toward the front and rear. And at this moment, the Undead Creatures that stood idly finally launched their attacks!