Scorched earth1—what other word could describe this scene? Everything within a hundred meters of Joshua’s blinding ray had been swept away like dust in the wind, leaving nothing behind but a suffocating stillness.
“A… unique skill?” Beo gaped blankly at the scene.
A unique skill—also called a vision—was distinct from aura. One of the great examples was the Big family’s swordsmanship. Also Valmont’s swordsmanship, which had earned him the moniker of “Rapid Star” for his lightning-fast blade.
“A unique skill? That makes no sense.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this… Is he from some fallen family or something? Why the hell is he working as a mercenary?!”
Of all of the numerous undead, only three dullahans were left. Everything else—the skeletons, the ghouls—disintegrated before their very eyes. Common sense told them that an attack’s power waned the further it went, but this new guy had proved them wrong.
Akshuler cleaned up the rest of the enemies and went over to Joshua. Akshuler was unmatched—he had enough talent to take down a dullahan without a scratch, equal to a high-ranking knight.
“I’ve never heard of Duke Agnus having a hidden ability that could create such wide-spread devastation…” He cast a curious look at Lugia. “The spear is unusual as well.”
Joshua gave him a cheeky grin.
“All I’ll say is that you’d better leave it at that. You’ll get a bloody nose if you keep sticking it in places.”
“Bloody nose or not, I want to know. Were the rumors from Reinhardt false?” Akshuler grinned and then turned his attention to the mercenaries. “Without their leader, these undead are just fodder! Make sure you don’t get hurt.”
The mercenaries shook off their surprise and moved to follow Akshuler’s directions.
“Set up guard!”
“Having the manager with us is so reassuring.”
“And we get hidden talents for free!”
Marquis Crombell’s vast host steadily closed on Eiden2 Gorge.
In the Pontiers’ grand training hall, someone was causing a ruckus.
“What is this idiocy? Is this training supposed to stop the Crombells?!” Baron Ashval, silver full-plate gleaming in the early sun, bemoaned his knights’ training.
Baron Ashval led the 1st Knights Order of Pontier, known as the Vanguard. Given that he was a B-Class knight, it was safe to say he was the strongest person in the family.
“Crombell’s forces will arrive in three days—are you going to hold the gorge in this condition?”
“I’m going to lose my mind at this rate! And the family is at the mercy of a woman, like a candle in the wind.” Baron Ashval scowled.
“Are you referring to the Lady?”
Baron Ashval’s head jerked.
“I came to check up on things.” Icarus shook her head and groaned. Cain stood behind her wearing a cheeky smile. “Like you said, the situation is as tenuous as a candle in the wind. Pray tell, do you intend to create a division of forced conscripts?”
Baron Ashval’s lips stretched into a sardonic grin.
“Scram, little chick,” he snarled. “I let you run your mouth because the house’s leaders were watching, but do you really think that you, with your rank, are qualified to speak to me? This brat!”
Baron Ashval’s voice was low and quiet, but the training hall was equally quiet. All of the 1st Knights were able to hear him.
“Who is that lovely lady?”
“She looks like the Young Lady’s guest. But Icarus is…”
“Ah, that genius strategist from the Academy? Were they a woman?”
“Is that Sir Cain?”
Cain had become a familiar sight to the knights. He’d spent the last three days practicing with them at the Pontiers’ request. With his snarky, sarcastic demeanor, he fit right in.
They didn’t exactly know much about Cain, but he seemed extraordinary. He always had a word of advice when they ran into issues with their training, so the knights were ever so grateful to him.
They were also familiar with Baron Ashval’s personality—now they were worried that Cain might get caught undeservedly in the sparks of his anger.
“You went too far.” Cain stepped in front of Baron Ashval, to Icarus’s surprise. His face was devoid of its usual playful smile.
“Are you Sir Cain? How did you get here?” Baron Ashval hadn’t been absent for the vassals’ meeting. As a result, he was unaware of the knights’ budding relationship with Cain.
“I am Cain, in the service of Baron Joshua Sanders.”
“Baron Sanders? That kid, Baron Sanders?”
“Oh? So he serves that Baron Joshua. I knew he wasn’t just any old knight, but…”
“Isn’t Baron Joshua only titled? I haven’t heard of a knight being appointed to him.”
The knights weren’t overly worried about Cain’s identity, since he and Icarus were the Young Lady’s guests—or rather, they didn’t care. Courtesy was one thing, but Cain’s abilities had earned him their respect.
Baron Ashval’s eyes shook.
“So you’re saying… Does that mean Duke Agnus is supporting us?”
The knights blinked. This was no longer a question of Joshua Sanders’s support, though he was known as a monster with no match. His father was the Empire’s pride, one of the great Nine Stars.
Cain shook his head.
“Unfortunately, we are here solely through my master’s will. Duke Agnus is uninvolved.”
“Oh. Damn it.” The knights sighed regretfully. Monstrous as Joshua Sanders was, he wouldn’t be able to turn the tides. On their opponent’s side was one of the Twelve Superhumans, the Mercenary King Barbarian. He hadn’t appeared recently, but he could show up at any time and wreak terrible carnage. Only someone stronger would be able to stop him.
“At the end of the day, is it pity or embarrassment?” Baron Ashval laughed.
“They’ve been friends for a long time now.” The Baron shrugged. “He might send help if he’s worried about how he looks to the other families.”
Cain’s expression hardened as he realized what Ashval was implying.
“He’s worried that the other nobles will abandon Agnus, so he pretends to see nothing. Then the Duke hands off the problem to someone else—his child, of course.” The corner of his mouth crept upwards. “Joshua Sanders then used the Master Battle as an excuse to send you instead…”
“Even if you serve the Pontiers, I will not let you speak ill of my master.” Cain’s eyes burned.
“Oh, is that so?”
As per dictionary meaning… 초토화 A scorched-earth policy is a military strategy that aims to destroy anything that might be useful to the enemy. Any assets that could be used by the enemy may be targeted, which usually includes obvious weapons, transport vehicles, communication sites, and industrial resources. ↩️
Changed to Eiden because we have a heck ton of Aiden now ↩️
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