Andrei could not believe what he was seeing.
“Y, you were supposed to be in a coma-”
He could not even finish his sentence.
‘Why is Duke Fredo here?!’
He had heard from young master Naru that Duke Fredo’s condition was so serious that nobody other than the healers could approach him.
But how was he seeing a completely fine Duke Fredo in front of him right now?
“You were in a coma!”
Andrei’s tone did not show any respect for the Duke.
That was how shocked he was right now.
This was true for all of Squad 1. None of them could speak properly due to their shock.
Fredo started to smile.
“Mm, that’s right. I was in a coma and woke up not too long ago.”
“What total nonsense!”
‘How was he here if he woke up not too long ago?!’
Andrei looked toward Fredo in disbelief.
He then made eye contact with Fredo. Fredo’s gaze made him subconsciously shut up while Fredo started to speak in a calm voice.
“Yes, it makes no sense. But you have to believe it because I am telling you that that is the case.”
The Duke’s face turned cold.
Now that his lazy and bored expression was gone, all that was left was an emotionless and cold face.
“Andrei, it would be best if you accept the situation without thinking nor saying anything.”
Andrei subconsciously gulped.
He wanted to step away, but that was not easy because he was bound.
He quickly looked at Duke Fredo, who was walking toward him, as well as his surroundings.
He finally started to understand what was going on.
He was a sword master.
That was not a level that could be reached through training alone.
He had been involved in numerous battles, large and small alike, and could come up with a conclusion in his head.
“…Duke, did you decide to cooperate with Cale Henituse?”
The answer was obvious as soon as the Tigers had appeared in front of Andrei.
The story about how the Tiger tribe lived close to the Forest of Darkness and served Cale was a famous story.
Andrei started to laugh.
“No wonder. I knew that there was no way that this kind of plan would come from that old Count Mock’s head.”
He recalled when he decided to follow Count Mock for this plan.
‘I plan on using Naru Von Ejellan. That is why there are no benefits to stick on Duke Fredo’s side for this operation.’
‘What do you mean by that, sir?’
‘Naru Von Ejellan is my informant. He’s perfect to use.’
He gazed past Naru and focused on Duke Fredo.
“You used your son to plot all of this.”
Andrei’s shoulders started to move up and down.
The shock and disbelief were making him laugh.
However, his laughter could not continue.
His neck was instantly clenched by a Vampire.
“Sorry, things might get complicated if you let out any loud noises.”
He could see Solena who was smiling while clenching his neck. Duke Fredo’s trusted subordinate. She was clenching Andrei’s life away.
“Solena, let him go.”
Solena instantly let go of her hand that was clenching Andrei’s’ neck.
Andrei’s body that was bound by the rope tilted to the side and fell to the ground.
Andrei who fell sideways could see a pair of shoes walking past his face.
He raised his head to see young master Naru looking down at him.
However, Naru then looked away from him and walked forward.
“Y, you bastards-!”
Andrei subconsciously started to speak.
Actually, he was shouting.
“What do you plan to do with us?!”
He looked around as he shouted.
If Duke Fredo cooperated with him, then he should be somewhere nearby.
He could see a pair of shoes stopping in front of him.
“Please be quiet.”
He raised his head. Young master Naru was looking down at him with a nonchalant gaze.
The Cale he was looking for was right in front of him, but he did not recognize Cale.
He just saw a new side to a boy he thought was just an innocent kid.
The boy said something else in a stoic voice.
“You’ll be the first to die if you’re loud.”
The boy started to smile.
“You can’t talk as you please in someone else’s yard.”
He then looked away.
“Father, shall we go?”
Fredo put the helmet back on.
“Sure. Is Squad 2 next?”
“Yes it is, Duke-nim.”
The Vampires walked past Squad 1’s members and headed toward Squad 2 at Solena’s response.
‘What is going to happen to us?’
Andrei’s pupils started to shake as he watched them walk away without any hesitation.
He soon got his answer. That was why his shoulders started to shake again.
“Even a sword master should find it hard to break through these ropes.”
A large shadow appeared above him.
Andrei could see the old Tiger Shaman who was looking down and smiling at him.
However, that smile instantly disappeared and Tiger shaman Gashan started to speak.
“Move all of them.”
The Tigers approached Squad 1’s members.
‘…How could this be?’
Andrei watched them with despair.
He never expected it to end like this without even being able to do anything!
Not only that, but he was also captured by the enemies and backstabbed by his allies!
‘Why the hell is this so hard to untie?!’
He could not undo the ropes.
He realized the secrets behind the rope after thinking about the whole situation.
‘…It’s a Dragon.’
This rope must have been made by the Dragon that is always around Cale Henituse.
He lifted his head up.
The white gold haired Elf who should have been on the tree had disappeared.
“Alright then, shall we go too, Mr. Squad Leader?”
His body was easily lifted by a Tiger warrior.
The crows were in the sky looking down at the entire Forest of Darkness.
Andrei’s then lowered his head.
He had to worry about his life now.
* * *
Count Mock started to speak while hiding his body within the shadows of the forest.
“Is it here?”
The person standing next to him responded.
“Yes, sir. This is it.”
Mock nodded his head at Alberu Crossman’s response and looked north.
He started to frown after reaching the southern side of the Black Castle.
“…I hate to say this about the enemy, but it is amazing.”
His voice was full of admiration.
‘Seriously, it is amazing.’
This was true for Alberu as well.
He touched the mask that covered his nose to his forehead as he observed the Black Castle in front of him.
‘He said that it was the last Dragon Lord’s castle, right?’
Count Mock quietly mumbled as Alberu was recalling the information he had heard from Cale.
“I guess the Roan Kingdom really is nothing without Cale Henituse! They built this kind of castle for a twenty years old or so little kid who hasn’t even received a noble title!”
Count Mock’s face started to twist.
Anybody would be able to tell that he was jealous of Cale Henituse.
“Hmph! This castle looks even more stylish than Alberu Crossman’s palace. The crown prince leaves him alone even while knowing about this? The kingdom seems to be a total mess.”
Alberu’s gaze turned cold as he looked at him.
Mock didn’t realize Alberu’s gaze as he sneered and glared at the Black Castle.
“Hmph! It doesn’t matter since Cale Henituse will lose this castle today without being able to do anything. Kehehe.”
Wicked laughter started to flow out of his mouth.
“It’s a shame to destroy it.”
‘Should I take it for myself?’
Count Mock’s eyes were full of greed.
Alberu naturally knew this was the case.
‘…What a crazy bastard.’
Alberu’s gaze turned even colder as he looked at Mock.
Count Mock did not realize this as he started to speak.
“Have the other squads contacted you?”
Alberu heard a quiet noise in his pocket as he was about to respond.
It was loud enough for Mock and the other Dark Elves in front with them to hear.
Alberu looked toward Mock with a stiff expression.
“We have, sir.”
He heard two more noises as well.
“Looks like the other three squads are all here.”
“Take out the video communication device.”
Alberu immediately took the video communication device out of his pocket.
“None of them are emergency signals, right?”
Alberu sternly shook his head at Mock’s question.
“The first to arrive was Squad Leader 1 followed by Squad 3 and Squad 2.”
Mock sighed in relief internally.
He looked calm on the outside, but he was actually extremely tense as this plan was very important for his future.
That was why he had been very concerned that something would happen to the other squads on their way to their spots.
But thankfully, everybody had arrived at their spots safely.
‘It’s time for the next step.’
Mock turned toward informant Bob and praised Naru.
“Your liege gave me very good information.”
Unlike how he had stealthily received the map from Naru in front of the Endable Kingdom’s white castle, he had openly taken the map from Naru once they got to the Forest of Darkness.
He had also used the Vampire informants without any issues.
‘Everybody here is on my side.’
He had not clearly explained things to everyone other than Andrei, but he had shown everyone that Naru was working with him.
He showed them that they shared information with one another.
‘This way, they will think that I have influence with the Ejellan Duchy as well.’
Mock hid his wicked thoughts to himself as he gave Bob an order.
“Connect the Vice Commander right away if he calls.”
“Yes, sir. I under-”
It was a different noise than before.
“It’s young master Naru-nim.”
A black mage who had been standing with the Dark Elves walked forward and connected the video communication device in Alberu’s hand.
Alberu held the video communication device with both hands as he turned the screen toward Count Mock.
Naru’s face appeared.
– We are here.
The trees surrounding the Black Castle shook because of the wind at that moment.
Count Mock looked toward the north, east, and west.
They must all be hiding properly, as he could not see them.
– Yes, sir.
Mock continued to speak to Naru with a serious expression.
– I understand.
Naru’s voice sounded determined.
– Our Vampires will create a path first.
Mock had almost laughed after hearing that.
‘He truly is still young.’
He had given Naru and Squad 3 the privilege of attacking first.
The justification was simple.
It was his chance at revenge and a chance to be approved as the leader.
Everything had to do with those two reasons.
It was Naru’s chance to be in the front to attack the enemy and get revenge for his father, which would allow him to be accepted as the future leader of the Ejellan Duchy if they could take down the Black Castle with him fighting in the front.
‘But there are no benefits to being in the front for a plan like this.’
It was better to wait in the back and take the sweetest fruits of the battle.
Mock thought that it was really easy to handle this kid as he started to speak.
However, his expression was serious, unlike his inner thoughts.
“Go ahead. I will continue the attack as soon as you open a path.”
– Yes, sir.
“Duke Fredo will be happy to hear about your courage once he wakes up.”
– Thank you for your kind words. Then I will get started right away.
The call ended.
Mock’s heart was beating fast.
It was his chance to achieve great merits.
He raised his hand.
Mock started to speak once the hidden Dark Elves saw his hand.
“Move the Elementals as soon as Squad 3 starts their attack. We will deliver our orders through the Elementals.”
They started to hear quiet cries around them.
The Dark Elves were summoning the Elemental-eating Elementals.
As Alberu observed everything that was going on…
Count Mock shouted energetically as a large mana orb appeared on the west.
‘Count-nim, there is a shield surrounding the Black Castle. We suspect it is a shield spell that can handle a set amount of damage, so our Vampires will use as many magic scrolls as necessary to destroy it.”
‘Is that so?’
‘Yes, sir. That will signal the start of the attack.’
He heard a voice from the western forest at that moment.
It was Naru’s voice.
Count Mock stood up.
The moment he said that…
The large mana orb became even larger.
‘That thing is huge!’
He didn’t know that such a large mana orb could even be cast with a magic scroll.
Mock was shocked.
But he also realized that the Ejellan Duchy’s wealth was immense.
He then sneered at Naru who wasted that immense wealth on a mana orb like this.
‘Stupid fool who only does things to benefit others.’
The corners of Mock’s lips went up.
He heard informant Bob’s voice at that moment.
“Shall we go?”
He didn’t even turn his head.
It was because the Black Castle’s gate was opening.
“No. The enemies seem to have noticed our attack. We will wait for now.”
“…Really? We’re going to wait?”
Mock flinched at Bob’s voice.
It was at that moment.
Mock groaned as he felt his body being lifted up.
“Ugh, ugh. You bastard, this, cough!”
He couldn’t breathe because someone was choking him.
His eyes opened wide as he looked at the person choking him.
Informant Bob was looking at him.
“How dare you speak so informally to me? You’re just an old man and not my young master-nim.”
Mock could see the Dark Elf half-blood smiling at him as his face was burning red from being unable to breathe.
“Only our young master-nim can speak informally to me. I am a loyal servant who only serves our young master-nim.”
Mock could see the completely open Black Castle behind the Dark Elf half-blood’s shoulders at that moment.
Count Mock’s expression changed as he was pulling on informant Bob’s hand to get it off.
“Cough, ugh- Choi, Choi Han-!”
The Black Castle’s gate had opened and Choi Han, Cale Henituse’s knight, was walking out.