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«Under the Oak Tree (Web Novel) - Chapter 409

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Chapter 409

This chapter is updated by Novels.pl

Cavalrymen under red banners formed a wall on the east, hemming in the dullahans. Soldiers in surcoats bearing Wedon’s coat of arms charged from the northwest like a tidal wave. The hooves of thousands of horses pounded the frozen earth, and the resounding roars of the troops deafened Maxi’s ears.

Awash with a strange sense of excitement and fear, Maxi fixed her gaze on the battlefield. Hebaron Nirtha was leading the second charge after Riftan. The dullahan army split in half, and the cavalries of Dristan and Wedon used the opening to cross the drawbridge.

Maxi inwardly breathed a sigh of relief when she saw the knights flooding into Vesmore. Though they had failed to eliminate the necromancer, the coalition would soon take back the walled city.

“Please hold onto the saddle, my lady.”

Elliot, who had been observing the battle from a safe distance, spurred his horse once again. Soon, the row of ballistae and archers became visible. Riding past them, they were approaching the rear unit when Elliot veered his steed to the side.

Maxi had to grab onto the knight’s arm to keep herself from falling. He drew his sword, and she soon understood why. One of the wyverns circling overhead had barreled straight down.

When the monster’s dark shadow fell over them, Elliot’s started warhorse reared, abruptly skewing Maxi’s vision. With a shriek, she tightened her thighs around the saddle. Elliot pulled tightly on the reins and swung his sword.

It was impossible to see where the monster had been struck. But a second later, the wyvern’s shriek tore through the air as hot blood rained down on her face. Its wound proved not to be fatal; it managed to land on the ground, where it sat flapping its massive wings and baring its sharp teeth.

Just then, Maxi heard a familiar voice.

“Move aside!”

Ellliot promptly steered his horse away from the monster. A moment later, there was a thunderous crash. Maxi clenched her eyes shut at the sound before opening them again. As the snowy mist subsided, she saw the decapitated wyvern carcass.

The man bent over it yanked the sword lodged in the ground and said in a pompous voice, “You owe me, Sir Elliot.”

Maxi’s eyes widened. Standing before them with a smug look on his face was Ulyseon Rovar. No one had seen him since Riftan had deployed him on a separate mission.

Elliot sighed as he rode up to the younger knight. “Did you carry out your mission?”

“Can you not tell? We brought reinforcements from Balto. Four thousand men.”

“Y-You brought reinforcements from Balto?” Maxi exclaimed in surprise.

Her face was hidden beneath the hood of her robe. When she spoke, Ulyseon brightened as if only just noticing her.

“My lady! Have you been well?”

“W-Well…” Maxi trailed off as she glanced at the steaming wyvern carcass and over the chaotic battlefield.

Just then, Garrow walked up behind Ulyseon. “Let us save the greetings for later. We must take her ladyship to the rear unit first.”

Maxi was happy to see the young knight. Dressed in leather armor and dark gray robes, Ulyseon and Garrow looked like wandering knights who had roamed the continent for years. Though she did not know the details of their mission, she could tell that it had been an arduous one.

“Please come this way.”

Garrow was the first to turn around. As Elliot followed him, Maxi spotted the mounted soldiers bearing white banners arrayed on the other side of the gentle hill. She squinted at the crest on the banners but could not place it.

“It is Balto’s Southern Confederacy,” Elliot calmly explained as if reading her mind. “The southern nobles of Balto are not the most loyal to their kingdom’s royal family. Sir Riftan chose to sway them to our side to keep the opposition in check.”

“So…Ulyseon and Garrow’s mission was to meet and persuade Baltonian nobles?”

Ulyseon lightly shook his hands at Maxi’s surprised question. “All we did was deliver Sir Riftan’s message to Sir Geyhart Breston.”

Maxi’s eyes widened at the young knight’s unexpected answer. Geyhart Greston was considered a hero throughout the Seven Kingdoms for his crucial role in paving the way for the armistice.

However, he was also a knight who had pledged allegiance to Heimdall VI and the father of the fiend Richard Breston. Would such a man truly side with those in support of the peace agreement?

As if discerning her misgivings, Garrow, walking beside Elliot’s horse, said seriously, “Sir Geyhart Breston is an extremely pious man. Though he appeared to be of two minds about the conflict up until now because of his allegiance to his monarch, he wrote an official document showing support to the new pope after receiving Sir Riftan’s and His Holiness’s letters. It was thanks to them that we were able to persuade Balto’s southern nobles.”

That meant Balto could find itself divided if Heimdall VI waged an unreasonable war.

Feeling a heavy weight lift off her chest, Maxi regarded the two young knights with pride. “You have done…something tremendous!”

“It is Sir Riftan who deserves the praise. We were mere messengers,” Ulyseon said, brimming with pride.

Maxi’s chest was close to bursting from pride as well. By establishing a secret agreement with Dristan’s royal family and winning support for the armistice in Balto, Riftan had extinguished the sparks of war. All that was left was to stop the dragon’s revival.

Maxi glazed down at the battlefield where darkness was descending, her eyes filled with hope. With this battle, the long, harsh winter would finally come to an end.

Vesmore Castle was liberated as night fell. While the dullahans continuously regenerated, the undead that filled the city were wiped out by the high priests.

When the coalition army drove the dullahans away from the gate, the Temple Knights brought the carriage carrying the holy relic into the city. Maxi impatiently watched the scene from atop a hill before shooting a question at Ruth.

“W-When can the rear unit enter the city?”

“Patience, my lady. The cleric will send a signal once they have reactivated the barrier,” Ruth replied wearily as he munched on a mandrago root.

He had drained much of his mana from holding up a barrier for half a day. After taking a gulp of bitter restorative tonic, he added, “Once we cut off all mana flow around the Lexos Mountains, the dullahans will naturally stop regenerating, clearing a safe path to the city.”

His measured response calmed Maxi a little. Soon, a kopel blast rang across the battlefield, and the long queue of wagons slowly started to descend the hill.

Crying out in joy, Maxi followed the procession across the field. However, her elation at everything being over did not last long. The way to the city was lined with countless dead.

Maxi was struck dumb by the gruesome sight beneath the flickering torchlight. The horrifically mangled bodies were strewn amid the heaped corpses of horses with broken necks or severed legs. Clerics were dotted around the field spraying holy water on them.

Recovering from her shock, Maxi closed her eyes and lay her head on Rem’s neck. It felt surreal thinking these people had been breathing mere hours ago. They now lay dead on the frozen ground, buried beneath the snow.

As the procession rode across the moat, the soldiers surrounding the gate cried out, “We must set up an infirmary! We will begin transporting the wounded, so please have fires and cots ready!”

With a heavy heart, Maxi surmised there must be knights among the injured. She galloped past the long line of soldiers and raced to the wide square. There, she found the Remdragon Knights gathering the dead to one side. As she approached, her complexion turned ashen. She frantically scanned the lifeless faces for any familiar ones.

Ursuline, who was just closing the eyes of a fallen knight, quickly grabbed her arm. “My lady,” he said, turning to keep her from seeing the corpses, “please head to the basilica to aid the wounded.”

“H-How many have we lost?”

“Four of our knights.”

“Wh-Who were they?”

“No one your ladyship would know. They were only recently knighted.”

Maxi caught herself breathing a sigh of relief, and her face burned with shame. She was utterly appalled at being glad she and those close to her were unharmed.

Too ashamed to meet Ursuline’s eyes, Maxi turned away. She suppressed the urge to look for Riftan and directed her steps to the basilica instead. If something had happened to him, she was certain Ursuline would have informed her. The fact that he had asked her to tend to the wounded must mean Riftan was safe.

Maxi tried to allay her anxiety as she stepped into the large edifice illuminated by lamps. Dozens of medics were already at work inside.

While they lit fires around the building and prepared rush mats for beds, Mazi examined the soldiers and gave them basic medical care. The mages who arrived later promptly set about helping as well.

Even though the coalition had managed to reclaim all the cities, thus successfully thwarting the dragon’s revival, there was no joy in the air. The clerics held purification and funeral rites throughout the night. The mages took turns tending to the hundreds of injured with no more than a few hours of sleep.

Exhausted, Maxi watched the gray sky slowly lighten. With the snow finally ceasing, weak rays of sunlight bathed the desolate city, leaving it eerily serene under its snowy blanket. She descended the steps toward the square, her gaze distant. All around her, the city buzzed with activity as thousands of soldiers busily set up tents.

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