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696 War Against Fate V

 Even though the Undead Army had retreated, Rhode didn't let loose. He simply praised his subordinates and got them to quickly get prepared for the upcoming wave of attacks. Frankly speaking, the soldiers were still too inexperienced. Just a few days ago, less than one-tenth of the 3,000 soldiers were his original troops as he didn't find suitable candidates. It was only until Orchid Heart was summoned that he slowly built on his army. He was always a cautious person, especially after he had managed a player guild and understood the dangers of blind expansion. Even though it wouldn't be a problem for him to form a 10,000 troops army with the population in his Fortress, this would cause a huge problem for him without sufficient team leaders, commanders, equipment, and foodstuff. Besides, they wouldn't have camaraderie without training and cooperation, so what was the point in having such a huge army since they would scramble to a pile of loose sand in war? Rhode had no intentions of leaving the Fortress, so he put himself into defending the city walls. It was due to this that even with the threat of the Undead Army, he only recruited 3,000 soldiers who were most fitted and that was sufficient.

But this was just the beginning.

It had been a long time since the Light Mainland and Darkness Mainland broke out into a war. Currently, only the Eastern Plains, Battle Angel Army, and Holy Knights from the Church would occasionally eliminate Undead Creatures, Demons, Cultist, and others. As for ordinary Human armies, they didn't have the experience of fighting against Undead Creatures at all. It was still the same even for Rhode who had several experienced, senior soldiers who had left the military. They were basically the same as the newly joined soldiers in the face of the Undead Army. Fortunately, Rhode had no intentions of making these soldiers the main forces against the Undead Army. If not, the Fortress would have submerged into a sea of flames without Gillian and Marlene around.

And now, it seemed like they were effective. The Undead Army had retreated temporarily while the soldiers found their confidence. But Rhode knew that he had wasted a lot of resources-Gillian's 'Seven Hells' would require a day of cool down so she could only use 'Sulfur River' and earth-shattering fireballs. But without the enhancement from the specialized spell, the damage of the fireballs would be decreased significantly. Rhode had also activated the alchemy statues in order to resist the Bone Griffins. The Soul Cores in the alchemy statues were the Human Soul Cores he had collected in the Southern battle, so they were basically defective products that would last up to five hours. Besides, Rhode was sure that the enemies wouldn't send out Bone Griffins the next time since they were aware of his alchemy air force. He would most probably face the Gargoyle Legion in the upcoming battle. He actually had intentions of not awakening the alchemy statues so soon. But judging from the capabilities of his soldiers, perhaps they would collapse in fear as soon as the Bone Griffins dove toward him, so he had no choice but to call upon the alchemy statues for support.

On the other hand, even though Marlene was a Mage in the Middle Circle, she didn't have it easy against the Necromancers. If it weren't for Canary who was secretly suppressing the Necromancers' spells, perhaps Marlene would have become useless. If that continued, she couldn't possibly bring harm to the Undead Army with the spells that she had mastered. Moreover, Marlene wasn't a perpetual motion machine either and her spiritual energy would also deplete. On the other hand, the strength of Sol's group was too limited against the huge volume of Undead Creatures. Rhode had assigned Sol's group the duty of sweeping the Undead Creatures who had arrived at the city walls through bombardments and they performed well.

As for Canary and Mini Bubble Gum, Rhode decided not to send them into battle before confirming the main direction of Balende's attack in order to prevent any accidents. This was also why the effectiveness of their presences were also limited.

The only fortunate aspect was the Holy Maiden Statue. As a legendary artifact, it could maintain itself after it was activated until Rhode shut it down. It was generally stronger than most ordinary magic tools; if not, its title as a legendary artifact would be of no purpose.

Rhode shook his head and sighed. In the game, he didn't need to consider morale at all. If his soldiers were players, they would have jumped for joy at the sight of Undead Creatures because it would bring them a whole chunk of EXP and he didn't need to motivate them or encourage them at all. Back then, Rhode's only concern was to constrain his subordinates from being overly excited. In here, not only did he need to ensure his subordinates wouldn't flee from their positions, but he also needed to think of a way to boost their morale and ignite their beliefs in victories. Rhode felt that this was a tragedy...

But this was still fine too. After putting in some effort, the soldiers' morale was boosted and there were visible changes in them, where they were no longer as timid as before. Even though their morale was still fragile, he knew that the victories from battle after battle could strengthen their confidence. This was only the start.

But Rhode still wasn't aware of the changes that the enemies would come up with.

He knitted his brows and gazed into the distance.

Bam!

A shriveled palm smashed on the solid rock table. In an instant, ice-cold spiritual flames splashed, turned into light dust, and disappeared.

Vidal glared at the battle map with gritted teeth. The spacious commander room was in dead silence apart from the whizzing night wind blowing through the tent entrance. The fluttering of flags could be heard indistinctly. It should have been the ensemble of victory. But it sounded worrying for him instead.

As the Country of Darkness's chief commander of the 3rd Northern War Zone, Vidal was confident in securing the victory in this battle. He knew how that the important role to attack the Munn Kingdom was, and it had fallen on his shoulders, but the Munn Kingdom's unique geographical location had predetermined that they would be a tough nut to crack. Before heading into battle, General Balende Nefarian had handed everything to his care and at that moment, Vidal was full of confidence. He had even promised General Balende that he would need three days maximum before they could encircle the entire Golden City!

But now, reality had given him a cruel slap!

"... Damn it..."

Vidal growled in his throat deeply. Before they headed into the Munn Kingdom, he predicted that the Munn Kingdom would put up a strong resistance. In fact, he had never respected the group of idiots in the Country of Light. Even though they were under the Light Dragon Soul's protection, he was sure that those idiots were non threatening presences and were only great with their mouths. On the other hand, the Munn Kingdom would be harder to deal with. Although the Munn Kingdom had always kept silent, was unlike the Country of Light who expressed hostility to the Country of Darkness, and was considered more of a dominion from the Country of Darkness' perspective, no one in the Country of Darkness dared to belittle their strength. Even the four legendary generals would express some envy and admiration whenever Lydia was mentioned.

Vidal knew that the Munn Kingdom would be hard to deal with, but he still accepted this mission. He was clear that the harder the mission, the more precious his victory would be. It would be an entirely different concept from when he led the Undead Army to take down more than half of the Munn Kingdom as compared to taking down more than half of the Country of Light's territories, even though the Country of Light was much larger than the Munn Kingdom in terms of territory.

But the extent of difficulties in attacking the Munn Kingdom was far harder than he had expected.

As Balende was a well-respected commander, Vidal had given plenty of considerations for this ambush. Even though the Munn Kingdom was formidable, they definitely wouldn't set up defenses in the very first minute. Of course, with their strength, they could respond quickly as soon as they detected the attack and this would require Vidal's army to be fast, aggressive, and ferocious enough in order to secure the victory. This way, even if they paid a return visit, he would have enough space to deal with them. If the Munn Kingdom was a large flat bread, Vidal's method would be as though to take a huge bite no matter if he could swallow it or not. At least that part of the bread was in his mouth and that was more than enough.

But he quickly realized that things were amiss. Almost every battle lines that he was responsible for had shown problems.

The first news he received was from the Eastern Plains. According to the report, the Undead Army had faced a tough retaliation and the Undead Creatures had even faced ambushes and suffered grave losses. At this moment, they were slowly retreating and requesting for reinforcements.

This was still within Vidal's expectations. If the Munn Kingdom was considered a tough nut to crack, the Eastern Plains would be the hardest one of all. Unlike the other territories, there were innumerable conflicts between the Eastern Plains and the Country of Darkness, where they would take place almost everyday. Both sides knew each others' roots, which was why it wasn't an uncommon occurrence for them to face retaliations. Vidal had even prepared to not take down the Eastern Plains because it would take a long time for them to accomplish it. As long as he could restrict the Eastern Plains's manpower and occupy their attention, it would be enough.

But the next news came like a bolt from the blue.

The battles by the border between the Country of Darkness and the Munn Kingdom had split up into five regions. Eastern Plains, Sygram, Dragon Canyon, Silent Field, and Paphield-Grenbell. Apart from Eastern Plains which he could abandon, he was confident in taking down the other four battle lines. He had even imagined that if he took down the four regions, his army could wrap around and take down Eastern Plain from the rear altogether. But now, the situation was far from what he had expected.

Aside from Eastern Plain, the news that came from Sygram and Dragon Canyon weren't pleasant. Even though the Undead Army had broken through the first defensive lines, they were quickly obstructed and the battle had fallen into a stalemate. And now, according to the report, although the Undead Army was advancing, their speed was incredibly slow. Sygram's and Dragon Canyon's defenses gathered quickly and there were even traces of the Battle Angel Army: one of the enemies that gave the Undead Army their biggest headaches.

If the Undead Creatures were advantageous in their massive quantities, the Battle Angels would be superior in qualities. Besides, due to their contradicting holy attributes, the Battle Angels could deal lethal damage to them. Even an ordinary Battle Angel who casually swung her sword could easily wipe out a hundred Skeleton Soldiers, not to mention a group of them. Furthermore, the Undead Creatures wouldn't be able to resist their powerful holy powers and spiritual spells without valiant strength. Moreover, it was even more so for this siege warfare.

The news from Silent Field was a little more 'encouraging'. Although the Undead Army attacking Silent Field also faced retaliation, they spotted an opening in the defensive line, broke through, and was currently invading the region. But according to the report, the residents appeared to have been evacuated before the Undead Army broke through the defenses and most of the troops had quickly retreated. It was apparent that they were building a third line of defense. But no one knew if the Undead Army could break through it too.

This was too strange.

Vidal puckered his brows. The reports indistinctly revealed an odd taste. Their attacks were supposed to be raids, and even if the enemies were aware, they should be prepared hurriedly. However, the reports sounded as though all the enemies were aware of their plans. How was it possible?

Some of the commanders like him weren't even aware when the battle would start. It was during one fine day when they were called in and given this order out of a sudden, which left even the commanders flustered. This was why it wasn't possible for the enemies react so swiftly. In fact, the battles in the Country of Light proved this point. The reports had shown that the Country of Light couldn't even put up proper defenses and was completely overrun by the Undead Army. Currently, the Undead Army had passed through the Red Leaf Riverbank that was regarded as the major road, which was much faster than he predicted. Vidal was sure that if this continued, the battle in the Country of Light would end much quicker than expected.

But why is the Munn Kingdom so hard to crack when we've already taken down almost half of the Country of Light? Are the people of the Munn Kingdom that adamant? Are they able to remain unperturbed in the face of the Undead Army's attack? This is... too illogical.

At this moment, Vidal could only wait for the report from Paphield-Grenbell. Up until this moment, Saiborn hadn't send any information to him.

Does this mean that he has succeeded? If that's the case, I should consider gathering the troops and focusing our attack on that battle line.

"Reporting, Sir!"

A Necromancer rushed into the room with a crystal ball emanating pale blue spiritual radiance in his hands. He gazed at Vidal and gave a deep bow.

"I've received news from Saiborn."

"Oh?"

The spiritual flames in Vidal's eyes glinted. Then, he took over the crystal ball and placed it on the table before him. Shortly after, Saiborn's face emerged on the surface of the crystal ball.

"Saiborn? How's the situation? Have you broken through the Paphield-Grenbell defensive line?"

"..."

Saiborn hesitated for a moment.

"I'm sorry... Sir Vidal. We..."

Saiborn clenched his teeth. It was apparent that he didn't wish to describe the situation with such jarring words. But, he had no choice.

"We... have been driven off..."

"What?!"

Vidal sulked instantly. He glared at the crystal ball and the spiritual flames burning in his eyes were as though about to melt it. After a few moments, Vidal let out a long, heavy sigh as he fixed his eyes on the Death Knight.

"Give me the details!"

He yelled at the top of his lungs.