As the demonized Askewell blew him away, Rudel cut the inside of his mouth. Dripping blood, he looked at the beast making towards him as he stood.
“Now this is troublesome.”
He was blown away to where imperial soldiers were in close formation.
For that reason, the impact knocked soldiers off their feet, and around him, the troops had surrounded him to prevent him from escaping, but… he could tell from their faces they were confused at Askewell’s transformation.
Shaking off his own subordinate’s restraints, he smacked them aside.
“As far as I can tell, he’s conscious.”
Looking into Askewell’s eyes, apart from malice towards Rudel, it looked like there was some sort of consciousness within them.
“I’ll find out if I give it a go.”
Taking his stance, he cut at Askewell.
Unlike before, Askewell violently swung his spear to knock Rudel’s sword aside.
Determining that even with the strength of the white knight he would lose in a battle of pure force, Rudel circled around behind him.
He could circle in the blink of an eye. It was easy enough for him to take Askewell’s back, but…
He heard the sound of metal colliding.
Rudel had definitely lowered his sword at the point he’d aimed for. The nape of his neck.
Immediately jumping back, he avoided Askewell’s lance that came with the same motion as he turned face. The impact brought casualties to the soldiers around him.
That hardened-skin-like armor was almost like metal. Yet be that as it may, it didn’t look like it was obstructing his movements.
Askewell looked at Rudel, lackadaisically opening his mouth.
“Is that all you’ve got? In that case, it won’t be long before I kill you and continue the march. With this power, it won’t just be this region. We can cut deep into the Kingdom of Courtois. We might make it all the way to the capital.”
He would continue the march, he would make all the way to the capital, Askewell said and laughed.
(He’s incapable of rational decision making, I see.)
As Rudel laid down a verdict, Askewell took a stance with his spear.
“Where did all that vigor go, dragoon!”
Kicking the ground, Askewell closed in on him.
Rudel fired a light bolt in his direction. While it met him head on and exploded, it had no visible effect on Askewell’s assault.
“If even magic is ineffective, this is going to be troublesome.”
While he was exhibiting the white knight’s power, Rudel was being overpowered. Against a foe whose power was now on another plane, Rudel worked his head on means to counteract.
(Now then, I can’t leave him to his own devices, but…)
But some part of him thought back to his student days. He had started out fighting Aleist, at the time a foe on another plane, and had pushed himself in some crazy ways.
(… Compared to that, I don’t have it too bad right now.)
And now, the things he was capable of had increased.
With Askewell coming right at him, Rudel closed his eyes. He undid his stance, and without putting up any resistance, the point of Askewell’s spear was encroaching on his face.
There was just a bit of anger in Askewell’s voice. Perhaps he was disappointed in Rudel for giving up having come so far. But Rudel snapped his eyes open.
“Sorry but… I never did know when to give up.”
When he opened his eyes, his blue iris had turned red. He was using his magic eyes.
Rudel’s armor from the black boar.
Rudel’s eyes from the mad bird.
They had left them to him to fight against destiny.
Feeling the time around him pass slowly, Rudel avoided the spear point by a hair’s breadth, let go of his weapon, grabbed the spear, and used it as a lever to throw Askewell.
He had used the prince’s momentum.
Thrown off of his feet, Askewell slammed into the ground. But he was immediately up.
Rudel’s sword and shield were now stuck in the ground. He confronted Askewell barehanded.
“Are you mocking me?”
Askewell must have felt belittled. Casting down one’s weapon in this situation was out of the question.
Yet Rudel was serious.
“I’m always serious. This way was simply the optimum method to win against you.”
“I need to train more. There are too many techniques I can’t use with a weapon. But hey, if you think you’re being belittled, then I must apologize for that.”
Seriously coming to defeat Askewell, Rudel wasn’t making light of anyone. Thought how Askewell saw it was a separate issue.
“If that isn’t mocking, then—”
Right after, Rudel manifested before Askewell’s eyes.
His fist lifted, Rudel swiftly lowered it towards him.
Askewell, making light of Rudel’s attack—
— Was sent sprawling a long way through the air.
Rudel looked at Askewell blown away, waving his right hand a bit.
“That’s hard. Well, not too hard to get through.”
Askewell brushed a hand against his smacked face. There were no external wounds. In the first place, by demonizing, it became hard to put a dent in his skin.
It was a separate issue if the force could penetrate inside of it.
“W-what did you do?”
Rudel gripped his fist towards Askewell, whose mouth dripped with blood.
“I penetrated the force.”
After only those words, Askewell’s spear was ready to attack Rudel. He stepped in and lowered it from up high.
His speed—it was a blow that was lowered in the time an average fighter would have taken to raise it up. That inconceivable power and speed, a normal person wouldn’t even be able to comprehend they had died if they took it on.
Avoiding the attack, Rudel let his eyes glow red as he laughed.
A left straight with his weight behind it sunk into Askewell’s body, the impact passing through his pack and piercing him through.
Askewell spat up blood.
“Guh, damn you!!”
Seeing him lose his composure, Rudel felt just a little disappointed.
“If that’s all it takes, you were stronger before.”
Watching him recklessly swing around his power, Rudel kicked him away.
A deep breath, Rudel took a stance as Askewell stood and tried swinging his spear—
“I told you… too slow.”
— In the next instant, Rudel grabbed Askewell’s face with his right hand and slammed him into the ground. Right after.
With those words, a large shockwave broke out with Askewell at the center. The ground caved in to form a crater.
The surrounding imperial soldiers were blown away, Askewell showed the whites of his eyes.
Rudel sluggishly stood.
To put an end to the immobile Askewell—to take his head, he approached, when he felt something was off.
The army Fritz led as supreme commander was half on the verge of collapse.
“What are the dragoons doing!?”
“An army of wyvern in the sky—”
“The enemy number surpass three hundred riders—”
The imperial army started up as soon as their own army arrived. It was all going right by the planned scenario. But the imperial army that moved had established their wyvern unit as a countermeasure to the dragoons.
Three hundred knights mounting wyverns, a battle unfolded in the sky above.
Looking to the sky, they were outnumbered and overwhelmed.
Subordinates rushed to Fritz one after the next to report and seek orders.
“The empire’s army has crossed the border and begun hostilities with our forces! But their numbers are higher. We need reinforcements—”
“More than that, we should pull back. The empire boasts three times our land troops!”
Even if they sought reinforcements, there were no reserves to send around.
Having depended on their dragoons, the Kingdom of Courtois couldn’t reach the empire in ground troops. What’s more, on a quality side as well, the empire surpassed Courtois.
Their weapons tempered under the torment of dragons.
They had now turned to torment the knights and soldiers of Courtois.
Fritz was dismayed by this unanticipated situation.
From the very start, he was a decoration of a commander. And yet, for them to seek so much from him now, there was little he could do about it.
Those around watched him with chastising eyes.
“I-immediately request reinf—”
He tried to give an order for reinforcements, but his subordinate denied it.
“Where do you seen the leisure for that!?”
Not even with a grasp of the army’s state of affairs, Fritz didn’t fully understand how many units were stationed where.
(Why… what could have happened?)
Fritz clenched his fist, and the words of the next messenger who surged into the tent turned his face pale.
“U-urgent report! Princess Fina has raised a rebellion at the capital! Both Archduke Diade and Archduke Halbades have turned hostile, and Princess Aileen has been placed in a terrible predicament.”
It wasn’t just the battlefield, there was chaos at the palace as well, causing many of those gathered to lose their complexion.
Those here were those who sided with Aileen.
If Aileen were to be overthrown—
“Retreat. Rush to the aid of the palace at once, and subjugate the rebel for—”
“How can we retreat with an enemy before us!? In their pursuit, our army will fall to ruin!”
If they continued the fight with the empire, their prospects of victory looked slim.
But if they didn’t return to the capital, their standings would be in danger.
Within all of that, Frit sprinted out of the tent.
He raced over to his own dragon.
He acted out of worry for Aileen. If he hurried, he hoped he could make it in time.
Oldart issued orders to his men in the air.
“We can take them on one to three. Just do that and we win.”
The wind dragon flying beside him—Alejandro riding on its back was fed-up.
Avoiding the wyvern breath firing all around him, he yelled at Oldart.
“I don’t care about that. Give some actual precise orders!”
A laughing Oldart continued moving his formation to draw the wyverns further from the ground as he looked at the armies below.
“Well, here should be good.”
If the two armies clashed below, the dragoons wouldn’t be able to fight without reserve. If nothing else, they wouldn’t be able to aim any breath attacks down.
Any accidental shots at allied forces, and the dragoons would be blamed.
“Well then, ladies and gentlemen—how about we teach these imperial knights just how difficult fights in the air can be? Risking our lives to do it.”
Following that with a ferocious smile, the dragoons’ movements changed.
The dragons that had been flying on the run turned face to go on an offense.
Alejandro raised the speed of his wind dragon, circling around a wyvern, and having his dragon crunch its neck.
Oldart’s gray dragon turned to face three encroaching wyverns, continuing to fly backward as it peppered them with flames to drop them one after the next.
Pulling his own weapon, Oldart jumped to switch over to the wyvern that had come right below them.
The imperial knight riding it was surprised by his sudden visitor.
While the knight drew his blade, he didn’t seem very accustomed to combat in the air.
“You’re going weak at the knees. How do you expect to swing a weapon like that?”
He kicked the enemy knight off, the knight raised a scream as he fell. The wyvern began flailing as Oldart stabbed his sword into its back.
After leaping off the wyvern and taking distance, his own dragon came to collect him.
Their high coordination surprised the empire’s wyvern unit. And one after another, the wyverns fell to the ground.
“Real sorry. We’ve got several hundred years of knowhow stacked up. We’re not soft enough to lose to some sudden upstart pans—what?”
Rising his gray dragon’s back, Oldart looked around.
The wyverns began to dissipate into a black smoke and disappear, the fog flying off to somewhere far away. It was rising from the ground as well.
The monsters they’d led with them turned to smoke and headed off somewhere.
The empire’s knights abandoned in the air fell straight down; Oldart promptly recovered one of them.
“Oy, what just happened?”
Grabbing the knight’s weapon and tossing it away, he pressed a knife to their neck to draw information.
“I-I don’t know! We were never told any—”
The knight made truly fearful eyes. Oldart clicked his tongue.
(You can’t lie if you were never told to start with. The direction of the smoke is… don’t tell me, it’s where Rudel is?)
The smoke was flowing to another battlefield.
Upon discerning that, Oldart had a terrible premonition. Alejandro rushed over to him.
“Oldart! The supreme commander up and left. The ground troops are taking to their heels and fleeing!”
Oldart looked at the ground.
Courtois’ army on the run. The disappearance of the wyvern unit had prompted the imperial army to prepare to flee as well.
“… Retreat. We’ll leave fifty riders, and the rest of us are chasing that smoke.”
Oldart looked at the black smoke drawing a single straight line in the sky as he spoke.