Chapter 4: The Goodbye Battle

 “Father! Father!” Edwin entered the castle high command with a desperate look on his face. He called out for his father in this huge castle with the hope that his fathers' voice would be heard, but all he got was silence as the knights all-around him looked down with sad expressions.

 “Your majesty,” a voice finally called out to him. It was a voice he knew well.

 “Prime Minister Clark! Where is my father?”

 “The King is no longer among us,”

 “Wh-What are you saying?”

 “The King is no longer among us,”

 “Don’t say that line to me. Highland has a King have you forgotten that?”

 In Highland, there was a tradition that was passed down. Its origin was unknown but, it was considered part of royal tradition.

 When a King passed away, it was traditional for the prime minister to declare his death with these words to his successor.

“The King is no longer among us,” 

 These simple words signified the passing of the King and the raising of another.

 “Your majesty the King is no longer among us,” the Prime Minister said again.

 Edwin was struck with grief. His head spun. He couldn’t even tell what was up and down. He felt a deep feeling of seasick.

 “Your majesty,” Eve cried out as she rushed to the fallen Edwin.

 Three days passed by before Edwin woke up. He found himself in a large room. He lay on a big soft bed. He felt something holding his right hand. It was the hand of a woman.

 It was soft. He could feel no trace of the training it underwent in combat. It was the hand of Eve.

 Edwin could see her next to the bed. She held his hand while in a deep sleep. The baggage under her eyes told the whole story.

 “Eve!?” He called out in a soft dry voice. Despite it being in a low tone Eve still heard him call out to her.

 “Edwin? You’re awake!” she replied with a relieved expression.

 “Sorry. It seems I have caused you trouble”

 “Don’t say that. You can never trouble me” Eve replied with tears flowing down her face.

 “I won’t say the same Nya,” Hitomi said as she appeared behind Eve. “You scared me Nya. For a moment by fur turned white Nya”

 “I would love to see a white Hitomi” Edwin teased but Hitomi didn’t find it amusing at all. She puffed her chicks and crossed her hand before uttering, “ Stupid”

 “Hitomi, could please get your brother,” Edwin asked

 “No need Nya. He is waiting for you in the reception room Nya”

 “Really!?”

 “Yes. He has been waiting for you for the past 1 week Edwin” Eve replied

 “I see. Then I better”

 “You have to rest Edwin. The maids taking good care of him. There is no need to rush”

 “No! This is something I must do now. Time is not exactly my friend at the moment” he replied with a wary smile

 “I understand” Eve replied. Like his father, Edwin was not one to have his mind changed once he had decided to do something and Eve knew that.

 Edwin entered the reception room with Eve and Hitomi in toll. He saw the leader of ghosting and Hitomi’s older brother. Viscount Honcho Jiro Shinju.

 Honcho stood up from the furnisher he sat on and took a knee.

 “Your majesty I am honored to meet you again”

 “Eve, Hitomi please leave us alone”

 Neither Eve nor Hitomi questions his command. They closed the door behind them as they left.

 Edwin walked over to the furnisher directly opposite Honcho and took a seat

 “You may rise and take a sit”

 “Thank you, your majesty”

 “If my guess is correct father had the prime minister take care of the evacuating of the citizens while stayed at castle town to act as bait. Am I correct?”

 Honcho was taken aback at his words. For him to realize it without being told. As expected from a child of those two.

 “It is as you say, your majesty”

 “Then I take it as the leader of ghosting you were with him in his final moments”

 It was at this point that Honcho placed two enveloped sealed letters on the table. One pink, one blue.

 The pink envelope was written by your mother one month before she gave birth to you. The other was written by your father the night before his passing.

 Edwin stared at the two letters. He wondered why he never got to see the pink one. Why did his father not pass it on to him before?

 These questions popped up in his mind.

 Honcho continued to speak after Edwin had asked him to.

 After the castle town had been evacuated Edwin’s father barricaded himself in the castle town. News had reached him that the Noble and Neutral forces were assembling a force in the east with great speed.

 “Hump…to think those bastards would move this quickly. Its barely been a week since news arrived in Highland about those three bimbos wedding to the hero and yet such there have already gathered all their forces” the King said

 “To think that while they are failures at everything else, they excel at this. Truly they are a hopeless bunch. Shouldn’t we just assassinate their leaders?” Honcho replied


“Can you do it?”

 “It might be possible”

 “Can you do it and come back alive?”

 Honcho couldn’t respond to the king’s question. The Nobles spent a vast fortune in acquiring some of the best protection from the thieves’ guild, assassins’ guild, mercenary’s guild, and adventure guild.

 It would be a suicide mission to try and attempt to assassinate the leaders of the Nobles and Neutral factions and Honcho knew this.

 “Besides you have another important task I wish to give you”

 “Which is?”

 “When the time comes I will entrust you to deliver two letters to my son.”

 “When the time comes?”

 “Hump…I am not giving up just yet. I may be old, but I still have a bit of a fight left within me. I will show those rebels that dare point their swords at their King a living hell”


 In no time the rebel force arrived at castle town. The leader of them is Margrave Lance Von Winters.

While riding his white horse he stood in front of the castle city gate.

 “Are you there old King?”

 “Who are you calling old you backstabbing son of a bitch”

 “For a King to use such language you must be coming of age”

 “Hump…I am still young enough to beat the living daylight out of you. What do you say to a duel? The looser will surrender to the winner”

 “Hahaha. Do you think I would agree to that?”

 “Nope. A spineless man such as yourself does not know the meaning of the word honor.”

 “You talk too much old man but no matter. Soon you won’t be talking at all.”

 They both glared at each other before turn their backs on one another. The war began on the same day at sunset. Magic spells were cast from either side. The rebel forces tried to climb the city wall but were pushed back by magic fire and arrows. Every time the rebels attacked they were replied.

 This lasted for a week and the rebels grew restless. Edwin’s father did everything to hold out as long as possible but he knew it would not be long before the castle city fell.

 He had only kept a small fight force of 200 soldiers. Sending the rest along with the Prime Minister.

 These soldiers along with a small squad of ghosting members who were in charge of stopping any assassins from slipping through blocked every attack the rebels threw at them.

 “That stupid old man is getting on my nerves. Doesn’t he see that it’s futile to resist me?” Margrave Lance Von Winters spat those words with a disgusted look on his face

 He had hoped that he would take the castle town by now but that was not the case. It seemed he was fighting a never-ending war.

 “Patience is a virtual Margrave. Sooner or later the crown and I will become prime minister” The one who answered was a fat pig-looking man by the name of count Gunnleifus Varma. With a chicken piece in one hand and a cup of wine in the other he looked on as the battle continued

 “Tch…how can you eat at a time like this? Do you know how much money we're spending on this fighting force”

 “What is a little money compared to the royal throne that you will have. We can simply tax the people to recover cost anyway”

 “Hump…I suppose you have a valid point. But if the knights, the King had sent return quickly. We will be in a dangerous position should that happen”

 “That will not happen any time soon. I have taken measures to prevent such a thing from happening”

 “Hooo…you are a cunning fox”

 “You honor me too much. I hope my service will be rewarded in the future”

 “There is no need to remind me. The prime minister’s job will be yours once I get the throne.”

 Count Gunnleifus Varma gave an ugly smile. He had been planning for this ever since he succeeded his father as count of Varma. He never liked the prime minister or the royal family. He hated anything that seemed to look down on him.

 That was just how high his ego was. He had calculated every action his opponents would make and moved to block them all.

 The only thing uglier than his face was his ambition.

***

 “Your Majesty I bring ill news from the Prime Minister,” a royal knight said as he approached the King

 “Hmmm…I thought I told him to focus on the evacuation of the citizens.” The king sighed, “What is it?”

 “Nobles in Everwood and Jarodor are refusing our knights passage to return. The royal families claim to be doing everything in their power to negotiate but the prime minister doesn’t think we can trust their words”

 “I see”

 “What the hell? They caused no problems when our knight passed through to join in the fight, why now?” a knight shouted

 “It seems a certain count has been moving in the shadows and as for those royal families, it would be better for them that the royal family that their daughters had disrespected disappear entirely,”

 “Those bastards,” another knight shouted

 “Looks like my time is up,”

 “Your majesty?”

 “I had hoped we could hold out until the situation was better but it seems that will not happen. I have only one choice left.”

 Everyone in the room knew what he meant. The forces the king had kept were men with long years’ experience and had children to carry on their names. They knew death was knocking on their doorstep.

 “If any of you”

 “We will follow our King!” they all said in unison before the king could ask his question

 “Thank you for your service” the king lowered his head in gratitude

 For a knight their no greater honor than dying for their king.

***​

 The doors to the castle gate creaked open in the morning of the following day. A dignified man on horseback rode out of the city with knights following in toll.

 Having used up all their food rations and with no sign of reinforcements coming to their aid the King of Highland made his last stand.

 “So the old goat finally shows his face huh!?” Margrave Lance Von Winters spat out

“Be careful my lord. A beast cornered makes for a dangerous opponent. We should let the mercenaries handle this and reduce any losses to our forces” Count Gunnleifus Varma advised

 “Nonsense, we can’t have the mercenaries kill the king we have to do it ourselves or we will look like fools”

 “We can arrange for them to capture him”

 “Do you think that the old fool will allow himself to be captured? Don’t be a fool. Have my knights handle this.”

 “As you wish”

 The King of Highland looked on as knights were forming lines in the enemies’ camp. He saw the typical formation one would see in battle. Knights in front followed by magic units in the middle and lastly the cavalry knights on horseback.

 This strategy was one straight out of a textbook and the most effective way to fight a war. The rebel knights would protect the magic unit from the enemy force while the magic unit would provide magical supports to the forces. In case the enemies try to flee the cavalry unit would chase them down.

 The only weakness of this strategy was that its effect on the battlefield was based on numbers. If your opponent had three or four times your forces then the chances of you winning were next to none.

 But that wasn’t a problem here for the rebel forces. They had an overwhelming 100 times greater number of soldiers than their opponents. The fact that the King of Highland even stepped out of the castle town meant he wanted to flee.

 That was the conclusion that every soldier had. A conclusion that would be proven wrong.

 “Royal Knights of Highland! Make them fear our name!” The King of Highland shouted as he raised his sword and charged

 “YAhhhhhhh” The knights screamed as they followed their King.

 “Is he a fool?” Margrave Lance Von Winters asked, “Or has he finally lost his mind?”

 The other reason a magic unit is placed in the middle is so that the can provide magic support to both the knight forces and the cavalry knights. Magic gets weaker the further the distance one needs to cast it. To make up for the distance a magician could make a spell more powerful by adding more mana into it but that would mean that they would run out of mana faster.

 As far as Margrave Lance Von Winters and the commanders could see the knights were charging on horseback – meaning they had left their magicians behind. In that case, all they need to do now is have the magician thin their numbers with long-range spells like fireball before the ground and cavalry forces surround and finish them off.

 “Humm…I wonder” Count Gunnleifus Varma mumbled these words. He knew the King was no fool. He knew there must have been a reason he chose this action.

 Meanwhile, the rebel commands licked their lips at what looked to be an easy victory. The mercenaries were on standby. This was a chance to gain some achievements, they were not going to miss this chance.

 “Magicians fire long-range magic attacks when there within range” a rebel knight commander instructed

 The magicians began to chant long-range attack spells as instructed. As soon as the King and his knights wherein range of their magic spells they fired

 <Fire ball>

 <Ice spike>

 <Wind blade>

 <Earth spike>

 The magic spells flew at the king and royal knights with great speed. Avoiding them was impossible at this distance. The rebel commands watched smirks on their faces. They waited to hear the screams of the king and knights, but those smirks gave way to a surprised look.

 The magic that the magicians had cast all disappeared in an instant.

 Count Gunnleifus Varma was the first to notice it. Men were riding with some of the knights. They wore a long black robe with a golden crest on their right chest. In their right hand, they had a staff that he knew very well. These men were royal magicians.

 Welding the magic staff that is given to royal magicians they launched a counterattack.

 <Mist>

 <Air Field>

 By combining these two types of magic they covered the king and royal knights in a heavy white fog that approached the rebel army

 “Dispel their magic quickly” a rebel commander ordered

 “We can’t dispel that type of magic from this distance” a rebel magician explained

 “Then fire another long-range attack”

 “But we can’t see the enemy we may end up wasting our MP.”

 “Damm…it. Hold the line. Don’t let anyone escape. Cavalry prepares to give chase.

 The rebel commander’s decision wasn’t wrong. Given the circumstances, it was obvious that King wanted to break the line and escape. That was the only logical conclusion he would make given the situation

 But he was wrong. From the fog, a five-column of horses appeared with knights riding them. The once widespread royal knights had formed this five-column attack force with one purpose in mind.

 “They're heading straight for us!” Count Gunnleifus Varma cried out loud. As expected from a schemer he knew the kings' intentions immediately

 “What did you say?” Margrave Lance Von Winters asked with a pale look on his face.

 “Mages blast those knights away” The King ordered

 Normally when faced with fast approaching knights on horseback the line of knights would repel them with long sharp poles. It was common for cavalry knights to carry bows and arrows to shoot down those holding the poles but tactic hardly ever succeeded.

 However, the situation was different here. Those rebel knights were not about to be attacked with bows and arrows but with magic.

 The magic unit behind could support them by deploying a magic barrier or canceling the magic altogether but it was too late.

 <<<Fire bullet>>>

 A storm of magic bullets ran down on the rebel knights burning them to ash. Their screams added to the confusion of the pale-looking rebel knights.

 The King and royal knight’s rod through the path that had just opened up without pausing for even a second.

 “Dam…it, protect the magicians now!” the rebel commander yelled

 The rebel cavalry knights rushed forward to protect the rebel magicians that were now vulnerable to attack.

 “Don't run, you're already dead!” The King yelled at the fleeing rebel magicians, “kill them all; leave no-one standing!”

 “Yes sir.” The royal knights answered in unison. Two-thirds of the royal knights broke off to chase the fleeing magicians

 Defensive magic was effective against other magic but was very weak to physicals attacks. One could make the defensive barrier stronger by using more mana but these magicians had already spent a vast amount of mana in their first strike. They couldn’t form a defensive barrier to block a well-trained knight and they knew this.

 There the only option was to run but the knights’ on horseback were faster. The battlefield was filled with the sound of dying magicians

 “Chase after them! You lot get act back into formation” The Knight Commander yelled at the rebel cavalry to give chase to the royal knights attacking the magician. His words brought sanity back into the rebel knights as they abandon the line to rush to the magicians’ aide.

 The commander’s instructions were excellent. Anyone in his position would probably have panicked and gave stupid instructions but his instructions were the best instructions you could give on this battlefield.

 All that was left was to personally stop the King as he tried to use those very instructions of the rebel commander to push through a gap created straight to the rebel camp and to Margrave Lance Von Winters

 “You die here!” The commander shouted as he approached the King with his sword drawn. His sword felt heavy. His forehead was filled with sweat. He had been using wind magic to deliver his commands on the battlefield.

 Knights don’t have as much manner as magicians as a result they tend to run out of MP even by using simple spells. Having a low MP greatly reduces your strength and the commander could fill that now

 He however didn’t regret it. He knew for a fact that this battle wasn’t one that you could rely on runners to deliver messages. To soldiers.

 All he had to do now was pull off a miracle and win. He prayed with all his heart

 Goddess give me strength.

 There was only one problem with his train of thought. The goddess he relied on was captured by the demon king.

 “How rear. A foolishly wise commander” The King uttered before beheading the commander with one swing of his sword. The king didn’t even bother looking back as he accelerated even faster

 “Dam you” Margrave Lance Von Winters. Shouted as he saw the king riding up the hill to his camp

 “Margrave Lance Von Winters you traitor! Death is too good for but, I shall still bestow it upon you; prepare yourself!”

 Margrave Lance Von Winters went pale. His heart began to beat faster than it had ever had. He could feel a cold chill down his spine. He could feel death approaching.

 “Tch…It can’t be helped” Count Gunnleifus Varma murmured

 The mercenaries appeared. Count Gunnleifus Varma was no fool. He had the mercenaries stand on guard right behind him. Unlike the rebel knights, they would not be so easy to deal with

 “Time to earn your pay. Kill the king” Gunnleifus ordered

 The mercenaries leaped into action. The charged the approaching king

 “Leave this to us, your majesty,” The few remaining royal knights said as they intercepted the mercenaries

 The king went ahead. He could see a clear path to Margrave Lance Von Winters who stood solid stiff. The king raised his sword and brushed aside rebel knights that tried to stop him.

 “This is the end Margrave Lance Von Winters” he spat those words as he aimed for the Margrave Lance’s head but his sword was intercepted by a large sword

 A man appeared out of nowhere. He wielded a magic sword of elfish design. The sword was looked too heavy to be wielded by such a young medium build man but yet he did no.

 There was only one explanation. He was using magic. If a human were to try the same feat their mana would rapidly diminish but one species could pull it off for a long time.

 “An elf?” the king muttered before the mercenary parried his sword with such force he was thrown of his horse to the ground

 “To use such force to parry like that. You must be an A rank? No S rank. The banished elf prince of Everwood, Theodemar Inanala”

 The mercenary pulled back his green hood and revealed himself. With long blond hair, a pretty face, and green eyes, he looked at the king.

 “It an honor to meet you king of highland”

 “Hump…so the elves of Everwood have betrayed my royal house”

 “I am not here on behalf of the Eleven royal families. I am simply doing a job”

 “Surely you jest. You expect me to believe that the royal family of Everwood doesn’t have a hand in this?”

 Theodemar shrugged his shoulders almost as if he was admitting to the accusations the King had pushed forward.

 “I know the king thinks highly of you but”

 “But as a king, he has his duties to his people…I can understand those sentiments but that doesn’t change the fact that he betrayed me. I hope he will not regret his decision in the future”

 “That is why I am here king of highland; to make sure he doesn’t”

 The two stared at each other. The wind blew past them as if acting as a single to fight.

 The king slashed his sword forward but Theodemar paired it with ease. The king launched a series of slashes all of which were paired away with little effort on Theodemar’s part. He hardly moved from his position.

 Tch if was just a little bit younger

 The king couldn’t help but think those thoughts. His age was showing in this battle.

 He pulled back from Theodemar. Taking some distance.

“Hump…for an elf, your skills are amazing,” the king said

 “If I had met you in your prime I wonder if I would receive such a complement” Theodemar replied with a wry smile

 “Probably not but luck is also something a warrior needs in battle. Just consider luck to be on your side”

 “I see. Thank you for the advice. Now then shall we end this?”

 “I agree,” the king said before holding his sword in a reverse grip. “Allow me to show you my trump card”

 Theodemar could sense the king using his magic. A human didn’t have much mana compared to elves but Theodemar felt something different in the way he was using his mana. Rather than direct it outwards he was directing inwards himself.

 Strengthen every bone and muscle. Theodemar was taken aback but he was seeing. A legendary technique that few had mastered

 “Body strengthening technique” Theodemar murmured in amazement

 Typically only elves or beast-kin would learn such a technique. For humans who are considered jacks of all trades but masters of none, achieving this proved the skill of the one who did it.

 King of Highland. What an amazing human

 He thought to himself before noticing the king making his move. He dashed towards Theodemar but something was off. Theodemar could feel the killing intent but it wasn’t directed at him but toward someone behind him.

 The king dashed forward with great speed. The rebel knights could only see a blur fly towards Theodemar. As he approached Theodemar he threw a black ball in his direction.

 Normally doing such a thing could be considered a disgrace to someone of the king’s caliber and standing but for him, it mattered little.

 Theodemar swung his huge sword to deflect the ball but as the sword came near it, it exploded. Black smoke filled the air. Theodemar swung his sword once more blowing the smoke away.

 He glanced forward to find the king was not there. He turned his head around and saw the king hurdling straight for Margrave Lance Von Winters

 It doesn’t matter what tricks I have to use. I am not a knight or a king. I am a father. Margrave Lance Von Winters, I will buy my son time by taking your head

 The thought to himself as he swung his blade for Margrave Lance Von Winters’ neck.

 But just as it was about to connect, he spat blood from his mouth. His body trembled and shook. He dropped his sword to the ground. A huge sword had pierced his body.

 “Unfortunately for you I tool can use body strengthening technique. Farewell King of Highland” Theodemar said as he pulled out his blade.

 The king of highland fell to the ground with a thump. The noble king was no more.

 “aha, aha, aha ha, aha ha ha ha.” Margrave Lance Von Winters laughed once he saw the dead king on the floor. His once frightened and pale face was gone and all that remained was a face of excitement.

 He walked to the corps and began to trample on it, “This is what you get you, bastard. You think you could kill the great me! Bastard. Take this and this”

 His actions brought about disgust from Theodemar and some of the rebel soldiers. Trampling on the dead was an unspoken taboo but no one pointed it out to him

 Even with the king's death the royal knights and royal magicians never surrendered and fought tooth and nail.

***​

 Viscount Honcho Jiro Shinju sat in silence after telling Edwin all he had seen and heard from the shadows.

 The room was quiet. Neither one made a sound until Edwin finally spoke

 “He wanted to kill Margrave Lance Von Winters in the hopes of putting the rebel forces in disarray?”

 “Yes”

 “I see. Thank you, Honcho. You served my father well”

 “I…”

 “There was nothing you could have done. Against a monster like Theodemar, you would just end up killing yourself for no good reason”

 “I…know but still”

 “Honcho. My father made his decision, there was nothing you could have done to change his mind”

 “It is as you say”

 Edwin observed Honcho’s face and could see the sadness he was hiding under his face.

 “Honcho you know that my father’s plan was a success right?”

 “What!”

 “What is Margrave Lance Von Winters doing right now?”

 “He is…That is”

 After his victory, Margrave Lance Von Winters threw a lavish party in the castle town. He had put the head of the former king on a spike and had his retainers carry it around.

 In short Margrave Lance Von Winters didn’t consider Edwin a threat. He was taking his time in dealing with the useless son of the former king. This was what Edwin needed right now. It gave him time to think of what to do next

 It was another thing he was grateful to his father for. Edwin glanced down at the two letters. He stared deeply at the two letters containing the last messages of his now-deceased parents

 Honcho gave a bow as he closed the door. Edwin now alone in the room opened both the letters and held them in each hand

 He began reading his mothers letter first

Dear Edwin,

 If you’re reading this then it means I am no longer alive. I‘m sorry that I wasn’t there for you but worry not your father will be there for you. He a dependable man as you will find out as you grow up.

 You are my love and joy and even if I don’t get to meet you I will always be by your side

 No matter what hardship you face know that you are loved by me and your father, now and until the end of time.

 P.S tell your father that I still love

 

Tears began to fall on Edwin's face, “I can’t tell him mom. Dad is… dad is already” he said softly

 His eyes slowly glanced at the letter in his other hand.

Dear Edwin,

 I am sorry. I promised your mother before her passing that I would protect you but I am unable to continue to do so. I have always been proud of you. 

 I hope you will forgive me for joining your mother too early; I can only imagine what troubles I will leave behind that is why I want you to not worry about it.

 You are free to choose what you wish to become Edwin. Even if the whole world turns against you for doing so know this; I and your mother will always love you. 

 From your father

 Edwin cried softly. He cried and cried; then he cried some more. In this room, all alone, he cried.

 Before he knew it, night had arrived. Edwin sat in the room, all alone. No one disturbed him. He sat and thought.

Is it okay to abandon Highland? Can I even win? Can live while all those who took everything from me are happy? 

 He asked himself these questions. He thought of answers, but none came. His stomach rumbled.

 I guess I can’t think on an empty stomach.

 He thought to himself before attempting to call for Eve.

 “You look sad, young prince”

 A soft voice spoke to him before he could call for Eve. Edwin looked at the once empty furnisher in front of him.

 There sat a beautiful woman. With long red hair that overflowed over her shoulder. Fair white skin, pink lips. Eyes as green as gemstones; they would no doubt be the envy of every elf. She wore a dark blue dress with sparkles like little stars and a plunging neckline that showed her well-endowed cleverage.

 She was none other than the Queen of the Fairies, Queen Madeline.

 Edwin was so dumbfounded that he stumbled to reply. Queen Madeline found his reaction cute and spoke.

 "I have an answer to your question from 1 year ago," she said with a smile.

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