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Chapter 139

“Piiiiing!! Paaang!! Another signal flare went off. The sky turned red. Eugene and Ivan sprinted through the forest, scanning their surroundings. The forest had turned into a massive slaughterhouse.

“Aaahhh!! Block it!! Block it!! Philip! Hold on!! Philip, breathe!!”

Every sharp noise was captured by keen hearing: screams, shouts, clashes, cracks, death rattles, the roar of the dragon setting the forest ablaze, and the crackling of flames, along with the distinctive noise of people being burned alive. It was a cacophony of familiar sounds, the sounds of the battlefield. And with a touch of sensation, it was the sound of defeat.

“Big Brother!! Over there!!”

Eugene shouted. Ivan didn’t even turn his head, but shifted his posture. He had already sensed it. Ahead of them, there was a group of bewildered individuals riding up the mountain. It was the path leading to Jill Ber’s encampment.

“Uncle!! What’s all this… what’s happening?!”

“There’s no time to expl—.”

“Piiing.”

Reflexively, Ivan focused his nerves. In the slow flow of sensation, even the time for Isabelle’s mouth to open seemed sluggish to him as he swiftly reached for his axe and raised it.

The line-of-fire detection blinked fiercely. No, strictly speaking, this wasn’t his detection skill. He could distinguish it because he had experienced it before. This was the breath of a dragon.

“Bang!!”

He leaped with all the magic he could muster. Piercing through the group as if flowing through Ivan’s body, he shot towards the opposite forest.

“Kwaaaaaahhh—!!”

He hurled Elpheira in the path and swung his axe in that spot. Fortunately, he timed it right. Ivan struck the breath of the dragon with the blade of the axe and quickly threw the axe to the ground.

The axe, forged from steel, was melting down to the handle. The dragon’s breath was a combination of magic and physical force. The ignition of magic could be repelled, but not the physical force.

After bouncing back and releasing the tension, Ivan turned around and drew his pistol, facing forward.

“You go first.”

“U-Uncle! We can—!”

“Listen.”

In the direction where the fireball flew, yellow irises floated in the air. It was a sensation where the body involuntarily stiffened due to intense vitality.

This was the problem. All creatures mimicking dragons essentially petrified lower beings. It wasn’t such an extraordinary ability to be called petrification, but it dulled movements by stimulating the realm of instinct.

They called it the presence of a dragon. Even basilisks and wyverns could perform such tricks. If it was the prototype dragon, that is.

Resistance could be mustered with magic, but that was a feat reserved for superhumans. Not everyone in this forest was a superhuman. Although the militia was comprised of highly trained soldiers, the proportion of superhumans didn’t even reach 5%.

So, it was a slaughterhouse.

“Over 30% of the forest’s power has oxidized.”

The story of three thousand trained soldiers hunting down a dragon was a hypothesis achievable when confronted with a well-organized defense from the front.

Currently, soldiers in the forest are being ambushed in groups of a hundred by dragons flying above. It’s safe to assume that the militia has suffered near-total annihilation.

In classical military science, the annihilation of a legion meant that over 20% of the total force had been lost. Whether in modern or pre-modern times, it didn’t differ much. With over 20% lost instantly, the remaining forces lost their ability to sustain combat.

The Eastern Knights and Jill Ber must prevent this situation.

As previously discussed, even at maximum capacity, the Eastern Knights led by Jill Ber could capture up to twenty dragons “under prepared circumstances” and “when facing head-on.” The flares soaring into the sky numbered at least thirty.

“Come.”

Armed with a dagger and a pistol, Ivan muttered amidst the whispering darkness of the forest to the towering creature.

As dragons were intelligent beings, they could understand human speech.

“Even your creed couldn’t kill me.”

Dragons could communicate with humans. It’s not even stranger that intellectual beings capable of magic couldn’t do so.

However, dragons never speak to humans, just as there are no humans to converse with food. Those arrogant creatures considered it beneath them.

Therefore, Ivan silently addressed the lizard glaring at him without a response.

“Try it.”

“Hooooorn—!!”

The sound of the horn echoed. Oscar raised his head and shouted.

“It’s my father’s summons!! It’s not far!”

At the point of the assault, the safest area was the frontline defended directly by Jill Ber. Jill Ber was blowing the horn to rally the remaining forces.

Since the dragon’s target was Jill Ber, it was essentially an act of risking one’s own life. Since it was evident that every dragon not engaged in combat would flock towards him.

Oscar gritted his teeth and led the group. The forest became sparse. The forest, exposed to overwhelming firepower, charred and vanished before being set ablaze.

Ashes were scattered. Smoke billowed from the Bernini Mountains, darkening the sky. Beneath the obscured moonlit sky, soldiers brandishing torches fled and gathered.

Toward the summit of the mountain.

“Hooooorn—!!”

Toward their master.

“Hooooorn—!!”

Toward the defenders of the homeland, the knights of Homeland, the shield of this country.

*

“How many survived?!”

“81 members in the Knight’s Order!! The Capital Defense Corps can maintain a total of 21 units!”

With a sigh, Jill Ber gnashed his teeth. In an instant, over a thousand troops had not returned.

“You fools….”

If there were troops who had chosen to desert, there would have been more survivors. But the soldiers he personally trained were gathering beneath his encampment, albeit frightened and pale, no one succumbed to panic and fled down the mountain. It was safe to assume that those who didn’t return were all dead.

This was the burden of a hero’s party. Let’s call it the burden carried by the symbol of hope. It was the weight felt throughout one’s lifetime by a being who had become the hope of all.

Even amidst the swift burning deaths of comrades, instead of seeking the fleeting hope of survival, they chose to gather around him, the center of their hope.

“You must retreat, my lord… We will clear the way.”

“Where to?”

“Um…?”

“Where am I going? Straight to the Eastern Front? Or to Saint Mathilde?”

“Well, of course….”

“In that case, what about them?”

Jill Ber gestured towards the soldiers.

“Tylesse possesses the strongest legion. If we sacrifice them to survive, what comes next?”

“You are the only hope left in this country, my lord!”

“The hope of this country cannot be vested in individuals!”

The homeland knights protect the country. Not the king, not the capital, not the people. They protect the ‘nation.’

They uphold the system of the nation. They must preserve the concept of a nation. They must uphold an administrative system called the nation, in which everyone can place their trust.

Individual strength cannot maintain a country. Fear can rule, but it cannot govern. A nation is a collection of trust. The belief that it will never collapse.

Under that belief, the people plow the fields, tend the sheep, and sell the wheat to survive. When those small units come together like gears in a machine, it can be called a nation.

Therefore, homeland knights never flee. That is the meaning of the duty Jill Ber swore to uphold.

“They’re traps set up for me. If I fall for them, they’ll chase after me. No matter where I go, that area will surely be set ablaze.”

“My lord…!”

“Even if that’s not the case, if they merely station themselves in these mountains, what difference would it make? The Eastern Front will wither away in isolation. Except for the Capital Corps, there are no allies anywhere. Tylesse will be split in half and perish!”

Losing all the areas within the range of the dragon’s flight, including the Bernini Mountains, means losing all the territories in the northeast direction, including numerous pastures and farmlands.

Such a thing must not happen. There has never been such damage even in the wars against the Demon King’s army.

After losing half the nation, losing half the driving force of national growth, and throwing half the population into the mouths of dragons and demons, is there a future?

There isn’t. Tylesse is finished. So…

“I must stop them here.”

Jill Ber extended his hand towards the gathering soldiers. An officer handed him a helmet with a stiff face. Taking it and pressing it firmly onto his head, he extended his hand again.

The military flag flutters.

“Flutter—!”

The dawn rising over the meadow, burning the demons. The military flag of the Eastern Knights.

The military flag of Etarique, where antlers, spears, and shields intersect.

The two types of military flags spread out behind him like a wall. Each member of the Eastern Knights gripped their military flag and sergeant’s flag behind him.

“Father!!”

Jill Ber secretly sighed with relief as he watched the approaching children. Fortunately, they were alive.

“Father, we… we will fight too!”

“My Lord! We will stand with you!!”

“Hah.”

He chuckled softly as he watched the approaching children. They looked just like they did when they first set out on their journey.

A bit less mature than us. It was natural. We had each set out after reaching sufficient maturity. It was because we had been a group of assassins organized to assassinate the Demon King right away.

But they, perhaps, resembled more of a ‘hero’s party.’

Young people ready to fight willingly, even if it’s not for their country or family, but for hope and justice.

Yes, if there is hope in the United Kingdom, it is because such young people still exist.

If I were to speak from the perspective of a senior…

“This is the burden of the generation.”


30 Years Have Passed Since the Prologue

30 Years Have Passed Since the Prologue

프롤로그에서 30년이 흘렀다
Score 7.8
Status: Ongoing Type: Author: Released: 2023 Native Language: Korean
I got transmigrated into a game I’ve never seen before. I thought it was a top-notch RPG and spent 30 years on it. I retired as a war hero and planned to spend my remaining time leisurely. But it turns out, it was an academy story?

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