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738 Darkness Falls V

 Cullen felt like his army's assault was rather comical this time, where they attacked aggressively, but retreated with their heads held low. He expected a strong start, but not a weak finish. If he was leading a human army, perhaps their morale would have fallen to rock bottom by now. However, just as Rhode expected, the Undead Army didn't have morale at all. They had no frustrations, negative emotions, and feared nothing-because they were the personification of despair.

Even though Cullen had a hard time in his battles, the other Undead Generals didn't laugh in his face. The emergence of an ancient heritage was totally unexpected and not even ten Cullens could resist the strength that came from its origin. It was especially so when they looked up at the golden radiance enveloping the entire sky. No matter what, every creature would respect it regardless of positions.

But respect wasn't an excuse for failure.

Cullen sat before his desk and stared at the military sand table in silence. The pitch-black chess pieces had retreated and were positioned far away from their target. He pushed forward his shriveled right hand which held the Undead Army flag and saw the other black flags crumbling. But he didn't stop. He continued to push and repeat this motion. Every time he repeated the motion, the spiritual flames in his eyes burned ever brighter. In the end, he revealed a sinister smile.

He had to admit that the young human indeed was capable to not activate the holy spears from the start. Instead, he lured them in and only activated them after they arrived at the foot of his fortress. Besides, he also understood the weakness of the holy spears-the time to charge up, which was why launched them in intervals. However, the weaknesses were concealed in the advantages. On the surface, the ancient heritage was threatening. But there was also a problem... Why did that human activate the ancient heritage at that moment?

\"Why did I activate the holy spears at that moment?\"

Rhode descended the flight of stairs in the dark underground tunnel. The flames burning on the torches cast distorted shadow behind him. He answered Lize's question without turning back.

\"Yes, Mr. Rhode. The holy spears are our strongest trump cards. The Undead Creatures may have retreated, but honestly speaking, we didn't deal too much damage to them. We did a rough estimation and found out that only about ten thousand of them are eliminated. If it is as what you've mentioned, there are many more enemies than this. Isn't it a little too... reckless?\"

\"You're right about that. But we have no other choice.\"

Rhode shrugged.

\"We don't have enough Clerics to handle their attacks and currently, only Marlene and Serena are formidable spell casters apart from Bubble and Canary. But what can they do? There is easily a whole bunch of them in the Undead Army with similar standard. At this point, Marlene and Serena are unable to deal massive damage to the enemies.\"

\"Not only that, but Bubble and I also have to prepare ourselves in dealing with the Night Wyvern's attack. We have to conserve our strength before that.\"

Canary approached them and continued Rhode's sentence

\"Defending the fortress is an uninteresting matter. It is especially so in this situation. We can't come up with too many strategies like the battles between two armies. The enemies aren't humans and their determination is as strong as steel. Ordinary strategies won't work on them. Since that's the case, we can only meet force with force and frankly speaking, we may not be able to defeat them. Lize, I guess you're aware that if Bubble and I don't show up and if Rhode didn't activate the holy spears, your Clerics would have a hard time dealing with the enemies.\"

\"...\"

Lize and Marlene fell into silence. In fact, that was the truth. They lacked too much manpower. In the two battles, most of the soldiers didn't contribute much and mostly relied on Rhode and his powerful trump cards. The first clash ended with Orchid Heart, Canary, and Mini Bubble Gum joining forces. This time, they relied on the Holy Maiden Statues to strike off the Undead Army while the others above the city walls were more like bystanders who cleaned up the remaining Undead Creatures.

\"What other choices do we have? The soldiers are too weak.\"

Mini Bubble Gum shot her mouth off.

\"If this were in the past... No matter how many skeletons climbed over the walls, we would slaughter them all. But, there are really too few soldiers here. If the enemies were to climb up and overwhelmed the soldiers, this fortress would have become theirs. This is why Leader beat his brains out to keep the battle outside the fortress. You people should be glad that you're not the main attacking force. If you are, that means that Leader's fortress will be doomed entirely. How can you take on that many enemies? We would have been buried to death by them.\"

\"...\"

Marlene knitted her brows, but she wasn't offended by Mini Bubble Gum. The truth was that they lacked too many manpower. Perhaps they had the Battle Angel Army and Magic Fleet as backing, but Rhode had told them that trump cards must be revealed one by one. They wouldn't scare the enemies away if he revealed them simultaneously. But...

\"But if that's the case, our weaknesses were exposed to the enemies. Normally, wide-range spells are essential during such battles. But, we didn't do so and activated the holy spears instead. This equals to telling the enemies that we have a lack of spell casters...\"

Marlene clenched her fists and felt cold sweat in her palms.

\"But... The enemy must have investigated beforehand and if they have records of our previous battle, they should be aware that there are two legendary spell casters in the fortress.\"

\"Yes, but Bubble and I didn't attack.\"

Canary shook her head. Her smiling eyes glinted with some cheekiness.

\"Why?\"

\"Hmm...\"

Marlene and Lize asked. At this moment, the group had arrived at the end of the dark prison and they heard echoing mourns from prisoners. The two young ladies racked their brains over Canary's statement. Then, Marlene's eyes glinted.

\"Could it be that it has something to do with the water elemental creatures that Rhode summoned?\"

\"That's right.\"

Rhode nodded in satisfaction.

\"In the previous battle, I didn't expand the Silver Ocean channel. This is the first time I summoned the water elemental creatures into battle after the expansion. Cullen's scouts were all destroyed by me and they don't know that I have the Fantasy Key to the Silver Ocean. Since that's the case, they will need to seek an explanation as to why there are so many water elemental creatures.\"

Rhode gazed at Marlene.

\"Marlene, as a Mage, you should be aware of how cumbersome and time-consuming it is to expand plane of existence channels, right?\"

\"Of course, Rhode.\"

Marlene nodded without hesitation. Every spell caster was taught about the main and four elemental planes of existence, Seven Fantasy Boundaries, and hell in their learning journey.

\"So, what conclusion will you have from a Mage's point of view if I summon so many water elemental creatures all of a sudden and the legendary spell casters in the report didn't show up?\"

\"I will...\"

Marlene revealed a look of enlightenment.

\"I will believe that the legendary spell casters were using their powers to support the plane of existence channel! In such a short period of time, it is impossible for ordinary humans to activate the channel and summon high-level water elemental creatures. On the other hand, Miss Canary didn't reveal herself to the enemy, which shows a high possibility to the enemy that she is supporting the operations of the channel! Since that's the case, there won't be any spell casters available in the fortress to threaten the enemy because maintaining the channel requires a large amount of spiritual powers! Even if Miss Canary joined the battle, she can't provide too much support either.\"

\"Based on the elements that we presented, it is simple for him to come to this conclusion.\"

Rhode shrugged.

\"What we have to do next is to ensure that he confirms that his judgments are correct. I've said that Cullen is a meticulous person and he won't trust the information that we've presented. But as long as we make him think that his judgment is correct again and again, he will eventually believe it. A meticulous person generally takes responsibilities and once he believes firmly in his judgment, we won't be far from a complete victory.\"

\"B-But, Mr. Rhode.\"

Lize puckered her brows and felt rather uncertain.

\"What if he thinks otherwise? What if he suspects that we have other trump cards and that was why we recklessly activated the holy spears?\"

\"This involves the purpose of this war, Little Lize.\"

Gillian let out a chuckle. She skipped to Lize and poked her cheek with her finger.

\"Didn't Master explain that clearly to you before? The Undead Creatures aren't here to protect their country or eliminate evil. They're here to accomplish goals, expand their forces, and promote their family's position within the Country of Darkness. Do you think that Lich will be patient enough to wait for one and a half years while his companions and subordinates become his superior? Of course, Master welcomes him if he has this patience. But no one knows if the other Undead Creatures eying covetously will be willing to... As for the trump cards... Huhuhu. How will he know if Master doesn't show it? Imagination will always remain as imagination before it becomes reality and all we have to do is not let him see the truth, isn't it?\"

\"Gillian is right and what Lize said is also reasonable. The situations in battles change rapidly, after all, and not every one of them will go our way.\"

Rhode came to a halt and before him was a tightly-shut, heavy iron door.

\"And now, I'm here to remove one of the unknown factors.\"

Rhode pushed the door open.