Chapter 125

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Some hours after the meeting concluded, Charles sat in her room with her chin cupped in her hand and an adoring smile on her lips.

“Icarus is very good at such things… Those dumbasses danced like puppets.” Her ruby eyes twinkled. “Ah, I never asked because I didn’t want to be rude, but now I wonder… If Icarus is a woman, can I be like her?” Charles’s voice drifted through the empty, still chamber. “In any case, Icarus and Sir Cain were a godsend… we owe him everything.”

Charles’s cheeks acquired a rich blush as she was reminded of Cox’s comments.

“Cox is only interested in money—”

Charles was startled by a knock on her door.

“Who is it at this hour—”

“I’m sorry for interrupting, Young Lady, but… you have a visitor.”

“A visitor?” Charles cocked her head. It was late in the evening, far past supper time. At this time, most people would be drifting off to dreamland.

“It’s Icarus, Young Lady.”

“Ah!” Charles leapt out of her seat and slammed the door open.

“Young Lady,” Icarus said, “I know this is abrupt and impolite, at this hour, but may I come in for a moment?”

“You may! Come in.”

“As you wish.”

The maid set two cups of hot chocolate down and then left Charles and Icarus alone.

“Please, take a seat Icarus.”

“Thank you.”

“I’m sorry for only saying this now, but: thank you, Icarus. Thanks to you, everything worked out.”

“I don’t think it’s too late to pass your thanks to my l-l-lord.”

“Oh, well…” Charles smiled uneasily.

“I will be direct: I came here to ask you something, if that’s alright.”

Charles cocked her head for a moment before nodding.

“Ask away.”

“I was not here for the first territorial war, so I don’t know the facts, but I heard tales that the war was extremely restrictive. Is that correct?”

The question seemed to bring up unpleasant memories, but Charles only bit her lip.

“That’s what I know. The Mercenary King… was a very cunning man.”

“I am well aware of the immense influence that a single superhuman can exert on the course of a war. However, he was only present at the beginning, right?”

“The issue is that the majority of his appearances were at critical locations. That alone was enough to set the tone of the war—”

“From what I know, the Pontiers are not inferior to the Crombells in any way, Mercenary King aside. Military strength, financial strength, even your leaders were superior—unless there’s a factor I’m unaware of.”

“That—”

“The defender always has the advantage over an invader. The Pontier family had vigorous support in the beginning, yes?”

“I’m missing something…” Charles’s brow wrinkled.

“Yes. To claim that it was all due to a single man is too much. But there was something else that bothered me even more.”

“More?”

“Your father—the patriarch himself, Duke Pontier. He was the head of your family, one of the five great Dukes… and he was poisoned?”

Charles shivered.

“It’s odd. As the patriarch, his food should have been rigorously tested for poison, wouldn’t you agree?”

“Are you suggesting that we have traitors?”

“Given the situation, the probability is high. To unravel our adversary’s schemes, we must remain wary.” Icarus raised a finger and leveled it at Charles. “Remember this, Young Lady: trust no one who claims to be your savior. Trust only yourself.”


Joshua let out a deep sigh as the inn’s kid finally released him. Aiden had been positively exuberant to meet his idol, but Joshua was exhausted.

It’s not a bad feeling, though. He smiled to himself. These moments were far from what he’d grown familiar with in his past life. Back then, he would’ve plunged his blade into a comrade he’d shared a meal with only yesterday, if he was ordered too. His spear had no regard for human relationships, and his hands were always stained with blood.

Joshua Sanders was the Emperor’s soulless blade and the symbol of his dreadful reign. For this child to approach him so eagerly…

“Hey newbie! Move!” A booming voice sounded behind him.

“Wear the robe if you don’t want to be recognized by your famous face,” Aiden had told him before he left. “Also, tell everyone you’re a newbie—it might be troublesome, but that’s fine, isn’t it?”

“Sorry,” Joshua said to the mercenary.

“I’m not asking for an apology, this is advice from a father! If you don’t man up, you won’t survive this place!”

The man had a harsh, scarred visage that screamed “I am a mercenary.” Joshua didn’t know it, but this polite mercenary was a veteran. He’d been discussing the Master Battle in the inn for a while.

“Don’t leave, Beo! There was a talented new recruit.”

“What?” Beo laughed.

“Have you heard? I think he’s at least as good as our idols, the mercenary king and Akshuler. Not some wishy-washy newbie.”

“Oh, come on. That’s so stupid—are you going to tell me that the little man driving that wagon is strong, too, Dirk?” Beo gestured towards a small figure in a worn-out gown standing next to a trio of wagons.

Dirk eyed the person and nodded sagely.

“Maybe B-Class?”

“Anyways,” Beo said to Joshua. “It might be a 2-Star quest, but it’ll be hard for a newbie like you. You don’t seem to know anyone here, so just stick to us—we’ll keep you safe!”

2-Star quest?

“The kid is frozen,” a different mercenary scoffed. “Are you gonna charge him a protection fee, too?”

“Greg!” Beo cast a murderous glare at the man. “This guy—”

This force—! Joshua felt a sense of doom descend on their surroundings.

“Prepare to fight!”

The mercenaries assembled into ranks, their eyes widening as the enemy came into view.

“Undead?”

“Then the rumors were true?”

“It doesn’t look weak.”

“D-Dullahan?”

Even Joshua’s eyes widened at that. Dullahans, the headless knights, were enormously strong; they carried massive swords as large as their own body with one hand. It could crush steel in a single hit, and an undead like the Dullahan would feel no fatigue from swinging its weight.

Most undead had a mediocre defense compared to their offensive abilities, but a Dullahan was the exception. They were covered in full plate armor—even their detached heads, which they carried by their side. Indeed, the Dullahan was well-balanced between defense and offense; they weren’t considered advanced undead for nothing.

Joshua’s face was cold and somber. There were ten of them—regardless of how long Joshua stayed, he would need help to safely dispose of them. This was someone’s last request.

“Hey, newbie! Stay close if you don’t wanna die.”

“Look at that.”

Joshua stared at their leader, the thin figure in the robe and was startled by their blue eyes.

“No way…”

From within the robes, their delicate, flawless white hand emerged. It swayed softly from left to right, as if to shoo away an insect.

“Nova Frost,” the figure whispered, only loud enough for Joshua to hear.

The results were terrible: white frost blanketed the lush pastures, though winter had not yet arrived, freezing everything in its path with a bitter cold.

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