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706 Nightfall IV

 Amund entered the large doors with his golden staff. He scanned the Battle Angels standing silently with solemn expressions by the corridor. This originally gorgeous castle appeared like a fortress that couldn't be sunken, filled with an intense atmosphere. The city guards' clamors were heard from outside the window. Amund felt a little distracted. Just a few days ago, he was still enjoying rather peaceful days. But now, everything had changed.

War comes so quickly.

"Grand Mage Amund."

A Battle Angel descended from above with her widely spread wings. She landed before him, bowed respectfully, and beckoned.

"Please follow me. Her Royal Highness is expecting your arrival."

"Okay."

The hall was still as tranquil and elegant. Amund instantly spotted some familiar faces: nobles and soldiers. But no matter their identities, their faces were filled with obvious fatigue and seriousness. It seemed that this sudden war had brought upon tons of pressure on them. Amund subconsciously touched his face. He tried to retrieve a small mirror to see if he was also looking this miserable. However, he quickly gave up on this thought after realizing the gazes shooting at him and he had gotten his answer.

"Teacher Amund."

Lydia stood up leisurely. This time, she was no longer in her luxurious robe. Instead, she was clad in a neatly-ironed, white uniform and the sacred patterns on the collar and skirt made her look full of mettle. Lydia winked playfully at Amund with a smile.

"You're back. How's the situation in Silent Field?"

"Your Highness."

Amund lowered his head and bowed deeply.

"The residents of Silent Field have evacuated safely. Currently, they're on the second defensive line in Deransas. The Undead Creatures didn't give chase, but according to the scouts, the Undead Creatures are replenishing their forces. Even though we cremated most of the corpses before we left, they..."

Amund didn't finish his sentence, but everyone present knew what he meant. Perhaps they had cremated the corpses, but they could do nothing about the deeply buried human remains. They were sure that the corpses would definitely be awakened by the Undead Creatures, made to join their army, and lift their butcher's knife against their families and friends.

"I understand, Teacher Amund."

Lydia kept her smile.

"The Undead uses sorcery to manipulate the souls. One day, their painful souls will receive their undisturbed peace..."

Lydia shook her head before sitting back down and shutting her eyes. After a few moments, she opened her eyes while the distress across her face had faded away and was replaced with unprecedented confidence. Amund nodded.

She stands out from the masses, that's for sure.

As the Court Grand Mage who had served two generations of Duchess, Amund knew how outstanding Lydia was in comparison to the previous Duchess who was overly kind. Even though being kind was part of an Angel's value, she was still too weak to rule a nation. Although she had strong times too, she was overall too fragile. On the contrary, Lydia was completely different. Ever since she was born, Amund had sensed something extraordinary: the spirit of determination and honor behind her lively, dazzling aura. No matter what difficulties Lydia faced, her gaze was always toward the front. Perhaps she might suffer and be downhearted by this arduous, thorny path, but she didn't stop or slow down her pace at all. She braved forward and was always full of confidence.

"Alright. Since everyone is here, let's move on to the next problem."

Lydia played with the feather pen in her hand, lifted her head, and revealed a crafty glint in her eyes. Perhaps due to her soothing smile, everyone felt the heavy, intense atmosphere lighten up and they heaved sighs of relief.

"The enemies have retreated, but only temporary. Even though we have strengthened our defenses, we will still need more time since it is winter. There are no issues with the soldiers' transportation. But we may face some difficulties in terms of supplies."

Unlike the Country of Light, the Munn Kingdom had the advantage of the strong gales in assisting the transportation of supplies. Strong gales were a natural phenomenon unique to the Munn Kingdom. They were famous for their abundance of wind element, forming a circular wind belt above the nation and enveloping it entirely. There were different opinions about the strong gales. Some said that this was a certain effect released from the first Archangel who had obtained the Munn Kingdom territory. Some also said that this was a natural phenomenon due to the common boundary between the Light Dragon Soul and Dark Dragon Soul. Some even said that the strong gales had already existed and was discovered by the Archangel, which eventually built a country below it.

But no matter what, it was the truth that Munn Kingdom had built floating boats to take advantage of the strong gales, which was tantamount to airplanes in the real world. Of course, unlike airplanes, the floating boats could only fly in reliance to the dense wind elements in the strong gales. Without strong gales, the floating boats would be no different from scrap metal. This also became the only flaw that restricted the Munn Kingdom from being the sky dominator of the entire Light Mainland. If the floating boats could fill the skies of the entire Light Mainland, perhaps the Light Parliament wouldn't even be worthy of being clowns.

But judging from the current situation, the Munn Kingdom was the only country capable of using floating boats to transport supplies and soldiers despite the blocked off roads due to the harsh snow. This was also another reason why the Munn Kingdom could resist the Country of Darkness's attack. The floating boats wouldn't be stopped by snow. Of course, like airplanes, harsh weather was also their enemies.

"Their retreat is only temporary. The Undead Army won't give up that easily. According to the report, Sunset Valley to Fog Plain in the Country of Light have crumbled completely. If we don't react, perhaps we may also need to face the enemies coming from the sides."

"Currently, the defenses are still stable, but we don't know what further actions the Undead Army will take..."

"We don't have sufficient manpower in the front lines. Maybe we should mobilize some reinforcements from the rear..."

"From the rear?"

Lydia's curious question interrupted them. She fiddled with the letter in her hands and gazed at the soldier before her. The soldier, Dagus, looked into her bright, clear eyes with some uncertainty. Even though he was considered one of the valiant military leaders in the Munn Kingdom, he couldn't help but feel worried. But shortly after, he nodded firmly.

"Yes, Your Highness. The front line is having a tough time. Currently, even though the situation has stabilized with the help of the Battle Angel Army and Garrisons, we still lack manpower. Moreover... The South suffered serious damage from the previous internal war..."

Indeed. The previous internal war between the North and South had struck the South hard. Of course, Rhode was responsible for a large part of this. If it wasn't for him who dealt with most of the city guards using the Undead Creatures, perhaps they wouldn't land in this miserable state. However, the restoration and maintenance of the post-war was also essential. Therefore, after the internal war, the Royal Family had mobilized soldiers from the North to maintain order in the South. Even though the victory was won easily, both sides more or less received damages and it surely wasn't an easy task to deal with the Country of Darkness's attack at this state.

"Hmph, those cunning Undead Creatures. I was rather dubious when I heard that they've appeared in the South. Now that I think of it, they must have seized the opportunity to attack us after hearing about our internal war. We should've investigated on the strange Undead Creatures, but I never expect them to come this quickly!"

Poor Country of Darkness. It seemed that they had been made the scapegoat. But Rhode wouldn't care less about it anyway.

"I have a letter here."

Lydia pointed gently at the letter.

"It is from our adorable Earl."

"..."

The bustling atmosphere fell into an awkward silence instantly. They gazed at the letter with complicated expressions. Of course, they knew who wrote the letter, but didn't know if they should mention it. It was because, back then, only two people had clearly expressed their different opinions during the meeting about the Country of Light mobilizing their troops: Gaya and Rhode. The former thought that Country of Darkness's movements were odd and problematic. On the other hand, the latter clearly expressed that the Country of Darkness would use the opportunity to launch a raid soon.

Of course, everyone took a compromise. Lydia requested everyone to strengthen their defenses and they acted accordingly. But they were still humans, after all... Everyone was always nonchalant about the unknown dangers. They felt that Lydia was overreacting, while Rhode's and Gaya's views were just behaviors of young people being overly cautious.

Harboring such thoughts, they were careless and heedless when carrying out their duties.

And now, it seemed that Rhode and Gaya weren't being overly cautious. Instead, it was them who were too unflustered.

The truth had given them a harsh, tight slap.

Everyone knew that they were to be blamed that the Country of Darkness could infiltrate so easily. If they had taken Lydia's orders seriously, perhaps the situation wouldn't end up this desperately. Even though Lydia was magnanimous to not look into it, everyone was experienced enough to know that they had lost to their judgment and were feeling extremely awkward. Moreover, if it wasn't for Rhode's fortress that had withstood the Undead Army's attack and alleviated the pressure by turning the five battle lines into four, perhaps they might not even have the time to construct more defensive lines.

Furthermore, that young overlord withstood the Undead Army's raid and attack with his own forces, which was incredible.

"What is written on it, Your Highness?"

Amund let out a cough. He was the one who was the least awkward because he was the Court Mage, after all. He wasn't responsible for the mobilization of the border guards and soldiers, so he didn't give too many thoughts. Lydia revealed a smile in response.

"He wants us to be wary of the Light Parliament's raid."

"Light Parliament?"

Everyone gasped in disbelief. On the other hand, Dagus showed a look of astonishment.

"The Light Parliament raiding us? They can't even take care of themselves and still wanna find trouble with us? Don't those bastards know that our Munn Kingdom is their first defensive line? Aren't they digging their own grave if they lay hands on us?"

"How did the young overlord describe the situation?" Amund said curiously while Lydia shrugged.

"Nothing much. He has only reminded us of the possibility of the Light Parliament 'betraying the nation for the sake of glory'. It's just that simple."

"Just that simple?"

Amund lowered his head in deep thought as he scanned the letter filled with thickly dotted words. It shouldn't just be that simple...

"It's not impossible."

A deep voice captured everyone's attention. Then, Callan Senia, Patriarch of Senia Family, stepped out.

"There have always been a lot of friction between the Country of Light and Munn Kingdom. Moreover, Her Majesty has also shown her intentions in restoring her authority during the Dragon Soul Ceremony. If Her Majesty truly intends to do that, the Munn Kingdom will become her strongest backing. Perhaps the Light Parliament can't do anything about that, but it is different now. The Country of Darkness has invaded and attacked the Munn Kingdom and Country of Light, which proves that their goals are not limited to a certain country. This way, we can perceive that the Light Parliament may seize the chance to weaken our strength because it isn't impossible for them to lay hands on us in order to reach a secret, armistice agreement with the Country of Darkness. I believe that the Light Parliament is capable of doing this and it will be better if their agreement is made under the witness of the Country of Law."

"This..."

Everyone revealed grave expressions. It was apparent that if this was the truth, it would be the biggest threat to the Munn Kingdom. The Munn Kingdom might not be afraid of the shimmering blades before them, but they had to defend against the poisonous blades from behind. If the Light Parliament had intentions of betraying the Munn Kingdom to reach their goal, the Munn Kingdom wouldn't have too many choices left.

In an instant, everyone sensed the danger and urgency of the situation. The Undead Army's attack wasn't the most serious problem now. After all, it wouldn't be simple for them infiltrate with the Battle Angel Army in place. But it also wouldn't be easy to deduce the facts from the Country of Light... Moreover, they were also unsure if they were capable of retaliating against the Country of Light. Without mentioning the dangers of war, wouldn't it mean that the Archangel had defied the Dragon Soul's edict by going against the Country of Light due to the Munn Kingdom's unique identity?

Everyone shifted their gaze to Lydia and waited for her decision. But it seemed that she didn't have any great ideas at the moment. At least for now, she remained silent, but her gentle and witty smile reassured them.

"We can resolve this problem at a later date." Lydia gestured. "We can mobilize a portion of the troops from the rear. Besides, we can compress the battle lines to resolve this problem."

Lydia pushed the letter forward.

"Earl Rhode has promised me that he can defend the Land of Atonement. We can split up the troops to alleviate the crisis in other regions for now. But..."

Lydia paused and revealed a look that was caught between laughter and tears.

"You guys will know."

"This is..."

Amund picked up the letter and scanned the content curiously. Apart from the usual greetings and reminder of the Light Parliament's 'backstab', there were only a few other sentences... What is the whole dense text below about?

Amund read on and then, he widened his eyes in astonishment.

"This... This..."

Amund couldn't finish his sentence. He lifted his head, gazed at Lydia, and rubbed his eyes. He suspected his blurred vision of an old person. The reason was simple. All he saw in the densely written words was nothing more than a request for a list of supplies.

10 million gold coins. 30 carts of magic crystals. Five carts of various elemental gems. Not only that, but Rhode also hoped to receive the 'Holy Spirit' armor set and 'Magic Prayer' robe set. Amund knew what they were. The 'Holy Spirit' armor set and 'Magic Prayer' robe set were premium treasures hidden in the Munn Kingdom's warehouse. In addition to the magic crystals and elemental gems, they amounted to more than 50 million gold coins in value. Amund thought that Rhode would merely request for more reinforcements, weapons, armor, or supplies. In the end... This was what he wanted?

The Munn Kingdom might be rich and it was also possible for Lydia to fork out her own money to Rhode. But why did Rhode need that much money? Did he have the intention of crushing the Undead Creatures to death with the gold coins?