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«Under the Oak Tree (Web Novel) - Chapter 408

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Chapter 408

This chapter is updated by Novels.pl

Breston regarded the mongrel’s face, obscured by a visor.

“I know you sent your knights to Balto,” Breston said with absolute conviction. “You made us believe they were going to Hoover Strait to take back Anatol’s seized vessels when this was your objective all along.”

“I don’t see why you would require my answer when you seem convinced already,” Calypse quipped derisively before steering his horse right.

As if noting the arrival of fresh troops, the dullahans at the gate began to fan out left and right. Their movements seemed less of a coordinated strategy under someone’s instruction and more of a reflex to an enemy sighting.

After carefully observing the confused calvary, Calypse signaled his knights to advance. He likely wanted to use this opportunity to charge and breach the gate.

Breston swiftly moved to block him. The damned monsters were the least of his concern when his long-desired ambition was on the verge of crumbling.

“Why choose to be the pope’s hound?” he snarled. “I can see why Leon or Aren might stick to old conventions, but why do you? Are you that content with being King Reuben’s lapdog?”

“Are you not doing the same?” Calypse replied flatly. “If you were against such a life, you should never have become a knight.”

“Heimdall is nothing like your spineless king! We are going to bring back the glory of the Roem Empire.”

“The glory of the Roem Empire?” Calypse’s black eyes slowly shifted from the battlefield to settle on Breston. There was derision in his voice as he added, “Are you not glossing over some history there? Perhaps you should start with the Ancient States Era.”

Breston’s face contorted when he grasped the implication.

“Balto’s southern territories were once a part of Guin,” Calypse continued mockingly. “If you want to shatter the armistice, even at the cost of tearing your kingdom apart, be my guest. Launch a new age of war. We shall see which side runs themselves into ruin.”

Was the mongrel suggesting that their path would lead to a civil war in Balto? Breston clenched his fist until his knuckles turned white. He watched the banner of the Southern Confederacy draw closer. When the unpleasant shock of being outmaneuvered waned, several possibilities started to formulate in his mind.

If Guin’s former territories had decided to support the armistice, it would be dangerous to heedlessly dissolve the peace agreement now. A careless move could spark a civil war in Balto. And if Wedon, Livadon, and Osiriya were to use the opportunity to join forces and invade Balto, the north would not escape unscathed.

Reluctantly coming to a conclusion, Breston twisted his lips. “You’re right. I might have been a little too overconfident.”

While they had been working to ignite a war in the South, it seemed the armistice’s supporters had not been idle either. Breston gritted his teeth as he gazed at the reinforcements that had marched right in front of them. The earth shook as thousands of warhorses clashed with the dullahan army. Soon, the ear-splitting clamor of war rang across the battlefield.

This time, Breston felt no excitement. Seething with cold rage, he kept his gaze fixed on Calypse’s back. He was loath to admit he had been outwitted.

Maxi tried to remain calm despite the hurtling rocks. She desperately tried to keep up with Kuahel, who was forging ahead. The undead monsters prowling the city had rushed to defend the wall from the coalition’s assault, allowing her and Kuahel to slip through the streets unnoticed. However, it also meant the rampart was swarming with enemies.

Staying close to the Temple Knight, her gaze darted to the walls. Among the tightly packed houses, she saw a wooden staircase leading to a castle tower. Standing guard at its base was a throng of skeletal soldiers.

Kuahel, pressed against the wall, assessed the route ahead. “Thirty seconds.”

When Maxi looked up at him questioningly, his green eyes calmly stared back. “Do you have enough mana to maintain a shield for thirty seconds?”

“Y-Yes, but…” Maxi faltered.

With no idea what he planned, she found herself incredibly nervous.

“Summon your shield and stay put,” the Temple Knight said, unsheathing his sword. “I will not be long.”

Without waiting for her reply, he vanished from the alleyway, swift as the wind, dispatching a wandering skeleton in his path.

Maxi looked on in a daze before she saw the band of skeletal soldiers swarming the Temple Knight. She promptly cast a shield. Though Kuahel made sure that no monster got near the alleyway, he could not block every arrow and fireball being launched at them from above the wall. Squeezing her eyes shut, Maxi circulated her mana, slowly counting the seconds in her head.

All of a sudden, the clanging steel and shrieks of the skeletons stopped.

Maxi peeked around the corner, coming face-to face with Kuahel. He examined her ashen complexion before straightening.

“Follow me,” he said, tilting his chin toward the ramparts.

They promptly crossed the bone-littered street and climbed the wooden stairs into the castle tower. The interior of the tall building was as dark as night.

Kuahel summoned a flame in his hand. “We must lower the drawbridge first.”

“Th-The mechanism used to lift it is usually installed high up on the rampart. We must go up.”

Without wasting any time, Maxi began to ascend the spiral staircase. When they reached the rope room on the second floor, they found the pulley connected to the drawbridge. Kuahel severed the pulley’s chain, and the drawbridge dropped over the moat with a crashing thud.

Maxi looked out through the small window. The knights and the dullahans were in the distance, fighting in a jumble on the field. Nightfall was fast approaching around them. Some knights quickly redirected their horses when they saw the lowered drawbridge.

Maxi spun around. “Th-They know the bridge is down. We must open the gate now.”

“This way,” Kuahel said, turning toward the door.

He hastened down the stairs with Maxi following close behind. When he saw the horde of ghouls in front of the tower’s entrance, he pushed Maxi behind him and summoned divine flames.

Maxi pressed herself against the wall while the flames blazed before obligingly following the force pulling her arm. When they hurried out of the tower, they found dozens of ghouls and skeletons guarding the gate.

Kuahel swiftly cleaved the closest ghoul in half, then immediately pushed her toward a wall. The Temple Knight placed himself before her like a shield and relentlessly cut down the swarming monsters. Maxi curled herself into a ball behind him and desperately waited for the fight to end. At long last, when all the monsters were dealt with, Kuahel grabbed her arm and strode over to the gate.

Their brisk march had them stepping over twitching corpses until they reached the mechanism that secured the portcullis in place. Fortunately, it was not difficult to operate. When Maxi pulled on the handle, the iron gate rose with a resounding scraping noise. The twilit battlefield filled her vision.

Maxi recoiled from the sight. All around, allies and enemies alike clashed with spears and swords. Flames lit up the sky above them - likely the coalition’s mages fighting the wyverns with magical devices.

“Get back.”

Kuahel pulled Maxi’s arm and made her stand close to the gatehouse, away from the entrance. Ghouls had started to gather once again.

With a swift kick, Kuahel destroyed the device that raised and lowered the gate. He then used blade aura to attack the swarm of ghouls charging at them, to no avail. Where had all these corpses come from?

Maxi’s despairing cry was cut short by thundering hooves behind her. A black war horse was galloping across the drawbridge toward the entrance. Soon, the sickening shattering of bones sounded through the air as the stallion mercilessly crushed a group of skeletons under its iron hooves.

“What are you doing inside the city?” an icy voice rang above her head.

Maxi tensed and glanced up to see Riftan coldly gazing down at her from atop Talon.

“W-Well…” she began, managing an awkward smile. She looked to Kuahel Leon for help.

The clergyman sighed and stepped in front of her. “Now is not the time for interrogations. We must retake the city and purify the Sanctuary with all haste.”

Riftan’s gaze was full of daggers as he turned his attention to Kuahel. After a moment of suffocating silence, he gave his order to Elliot, who mounted behind him.

“Take my wife back to the rear unit immediately.”

“That will not be necessary,” Kuahel said, supporting Maxi by the forearm. “I can take her back, so you -“

He was about to turn toward the gate when he swiftly raised his sword above his head. Riftan had brought his halberd down on him.

Having barely blocked the attack, Kuahel looked up at the other knight with an incredulous expression. “What is the meaning of this?”

“Take your hand off my wife at once,” Riftan snarled, pressing the sharp tip of his halberd’s spear to the clergyman’s Adam’s apple. “If you ever touch her again, I will bash your head in.”

Realizing he was livid, Maxi hastily extricated herself from Kuahel’s grip and ran to Elliot’s side. She stood next to the knight’s horse and deliberately put on a subservient expression.

“I-I shall take myself to safety with Sir Elliot, so…do not worry about me. Just be careful.”

Riftan wordlessly regarded her through the visor for a long moment. When he spoke, it was in a gentle voice that sent chills down her spine.

“Very well. We can talk once this battle is over.”

With that, he turned his horse toward the swarming dullahans. Maxi nervously watched her husband before impatiently motioning with her eyes to Kuahel to make himself scarce. The clergyman furrowed his brow but eventually turned toward the drawbridge with apparent indifference.

Thinking that he was about to cut across the battlefield, Maxi’s first thought was to dissuade him, but she soon changed her mind. She had done all she could.

She turned to Elliot and extended her hand to the knight. “L-Let us leave this place at once.”

“Pardon me, my lady.”

Leaping down from his horse, Elliot grasped Maxi’s waist and hoisted her onto the saddle. He then mounted the horse behind her and took up the reins.

Before she knew it, they were riding away from the battlefield. Maxi used her robe to shield her face from the lashing wind as she gazed over the thousands of fluttering banners. The coalition army had the monsters surrounded.

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