Edwin Hector headed to the barracks and left behind the battlefield. As the barracks were the designated spot where commands were given, all of the commanders under him were also ordered to arrive.
“Jackson. Report the situation.”
The leader of the Ranger Unit, Jackson, stepped forward.
“The Third Battalion was mobilized to deal with the remnants of Cairo immediately after we dealt with the First Defense Line. However, contact with them has been lost since around an hour ago. At first, I thought there might have been an issue with the magic stone, but seeing that we have lost contact with three battalions, it seems the enemy has initiated the counterattack.”
“What is the expected damage?”
“Around 300 people, Prince.”
As soon as Edwin heard that, his expression turned cold. They had initiated this war with a perfect plan. Nevertheless, the fact that a single variable dealt with their warriors made his heart shudder.
“Most of the forces on the Southern Front had locked the gates and chose to retreat. Thus, it could only have been Roman Dmitry who killed Baron McCleary and decided to cause damage to us even in such a situation. The fear seems to have turned into reality. Roman Dmitry chose not to flee to the mountains, but to remain on the Southern Front and fight against us.”
Edwin’s voice was chilling. He didn’t like, from the beginning, whenever the name of Roman Dmitry came forward in this war. That was because, from the first time the cog wheel in his plan had gone awry, Edwin Hector kept noticing his name every time a problem occurred.
“We will have to alter the plan. Leaving someone like Roman Dmitry alive will certainly come back to bite us later on.”
“Commander.” A square-faced man, one of the commanders under Edwin, continued in a firm voice, “As the commander has said, a variable that wasn’t accounted for in the original plan has occurred. Baron McCleary is dead, and Roman Dmitry is probably planning to mobilize the remnants of Cairo. Nevertheless, that isn’t important. The Southern Front has 5 Defense Lines along with the rear. With the most important position, the rear, and the First Defense Line in our grasp, capturing the rest of the Southern Front will surely weaken Cairo’s counter even more. We should see the big picture. Instead of focusing on a rat like Roman Dmitry, it is more important to entirely destroy the Defense Lines.”
Roman Dmitry was a small variable? Even if he was, if this siege failed and swayed because of him, their entire plan would burn down to ashes. In the next 3 days, they couldn’t give Cairo any chance to counter them. Even if some variables had occurred, they had planned to destroy the defense and choke down the breath of the entire Southern Front within 3 days.
That was why Edwin was dissuaded by what he was told. He was the Star of Hector. From his long experience, he knew that he didn’t act normal whenever discomfort kept disturbing his thoughts.
Nevertheless, Edwin had already made his decision.
“No. What is important now is not to focus on the Second Defense Line, which cannot even counterattack, but to deal with the variable that has messed up our plan through unexpected methods. Withdraw the troops right now. From now on, we will completely annihilate the rats of the Southern Front.”
As soon as they heard those words, the faces of all the commanders under Edwin were dyed with shock.
The Second Line of Defense wouldn’t last long. With victory in sight, it wasn’t easy for all the commanders to follow Edwin’s new command.
Eventually, a commander said, “It is a reckless decision. There will only be a few remnants left. It won’t be too late to kill them all once we have captured the Defense Lines. And how can it be possible for the enemy to turn the tide with such a small force?”
That was correct. Also, it wasn’t like Edwin didn’t know that, but from the moment he received the first report that was related to Roman Dmitry, he didn’t like how the plan was going. It was because of his instincts and senses. Most people say that instinct and common sense are two different things, but, in the end, instinct always originated from common sense. After revising the plan, something that he had already done countless times over the past year, his instincts told him that Roman Dmitry was a risk.
Edwin Hector said, “I understand what you mean. Nevertheless, as the commander, I need to be prepared for the worst. And the worst thing I am worried about isn’t failing to bring down all 5 Defense Lines. It is Roman Dmitry, who is doing unexpected things on this Southern Front. We don’t have time. If Roman Dmitry manages to create an unpredictable variable, then the situation will turn out worse than if we are not able to capture the Defense Lines.”
It was a simple matter. Among problems that could be fixed and problems that could not be fixed, Edwin considered the latter as more important. It would be fine if he managed to take down the Defense Lines, but he couldn’t understand Roman’s Dmitry actions completely.
“Not the worst, but definitely the lesser evil. If the majority of you all think that capturing the Second Defense Line is a priority, even after hearing my explanation, I will let go of my stubbornness and follow your opinion.”
Actually, they all knew that Edwin had a good reason to make that decision. Still, the reason they asked him to think was because any human could make a mistake.
Everyone nodded, which meant they understood.
Jackson spoke for everyone, “We will follow your words.”
Nevertheless, did they know that, by that judgment, the Hector Kingdom had set foot in the Southern Mountains earlier than expected, and Roman Dmitry was waiting for them to arrive there?
The sun went down. While the peasants went home and had dinner with their families, a bright fire lit up in the darkness.
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The bright fire was created when Hector’s soldiers lit their torches.
“When you find the enemies, do not attack hastily. The topmost priority is to blow the whistle and inform everyone else. The remnants of Cairo have Aura Swordsmen as well. Thus, if we push our enemies into a corner and attack them at once, we will be able to take all of them down without taking much damage!”
The commanders of the Second and Third Battalions, who were in charge of the search in some places, both raised their voices.
The Southern Mountains were wide. Obviously, if one tried to search quickly, one would miss the enemy. That was why they were slowly searching for the enemies. There was a risk of losing one’s life if the enemies appeared suddenly, but simultaneously, the enemies would be surrounded once their location was revealed. That was Edwin’s idea.
Rather than wasting time with an ambiguous search, Edwin wanted to wipe out all the enemies in the mountains at once.
The nearby darkness was pushed away by the fire.
The soldiers continued to climb the mountain slowly. They were looking around meticulously, to the point of even checking out the sound of someone stepping on dry leaves.
The commander, who had taken the lead, exhaled his breath and continued to look around with a stiff face. The survivor who had followed Baron McCleary into battle had told him that Roman Dmitry was truly like a “Shadow Ghost” on the battlefield. The moment any soldier showed the slightest carelessness, their heads were cut off by him.
No matter how prepared they were to fight, even though they had vowed to risk their lives for the nation, no one wanted to die first.
When the flame shone in the darkness, the area that couldn’t be seen earlier lit up.
“On the right?”
“Nothing is wrong,” answered the soldier who was following right next to him. When the commander saw that the soldier was moving while even pricking the ground with a stick, he decided it was safe to turn his head back and continue his own search.
At that moment,
Darkness covered the soldier. Let alone blowing the whistle, he couldn’t even make any movements to call for help. It was because, even though it was a fleeting moment, his neck had already been twisted.
The soldier, who had died because of not being able to check properly, made a blunt sound as he fell down. Nevertheless, the commander didn’t hear that. No, it wasn’t just the commander, but the entire Battalion moved forward as if nothing was wrong.
“Nothing is wrong.”
As soon as he turned his head back again, another death occurred. Once the commander had confirmed that there were no issues, the darkness had again covered a soldier and taken his life.
One death, two deaths, and so on.
Actually, it didn’t feel strange at first. However, when he saw that the surrounding fires had dimmed down extremely, the commander realized something had gone wrong.
“W-what is this?”
His face turned white when he saw there was no soldier behind him. Even when he had started, the surrounding area was brightly illuminated by the fire torches, but now, only darkness could be seen behind him.
His heart sank down to the bottom. He hurriedly blew the whistle as he realized that the others had died even though they were walking so closely—No, he tried to blow it.
As soon as he placed the whistle in his mouth, the commander’s neck was twisted. Thus, with a whistle in his mouth, the commander also collapsed, as if he was a doll with a broken thread.
Still, that was only the start of it. Soon, all over the mountains, Hector’s soldiers began to die one by one.
The secret didn’t last long. The death of the soldiers was discovered soon after a loud whistle pierced the stillness of the darkness and resounded everywhere.
“The enemy has appeared!”
“Check out the allies! We must cut off the escape route and drive the enemy to one place!’
Everyone was obviously upset. All soldiers turned their eyes back and forth to check their surroundings. Among them, there were also Aura Swordsmen who were using Aura to illuminate the darkness, and those who were using magic artifacts. Nonetheless, no matter how many times they looked, they couldn’t see the enemy anywhere.
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“Just where is he?!”
They didn’t understand how someone next to them had disappeared without even making a sound.
Far away from them, there was a man who was covered by darkness.
‘The judgment of the Hector Kingdom is bolder than I expected. I was initially planning to take full advantage of the guerrilla operation as they focused their attacks on the Defense Lines, but they decided to block a variable first. Who is their leader? The judgment he has made, from the surprise attack to capturing warp gate, is enough to prove he is not an ordinary person.’
He suppressed his laughter. Seeing how Hector had reacted to this extreme situation, Roman didn’t panic because of the enemy’s smartness, but felt a fire rise up in his heart.
He could see lights all over the mountain. That meant that instead of leading only one battalion to search and deal with the remnants, the enemy commander had decided to bring all the forces he could to deal with the remnants and left only a minimal number of troops who were pressuring the Defense Lines even now.
The southern mountain range is steep, and it is a terrain where there are limited places to hide. The commander of the Hector Kingdom was perfectly aware of that, and he decided to boldly abandon the areas where the remnants couldn’t hide and only initiated the search in the other areas. His judgment is amazing.
Actually, even Roman’s troops were there at the places the enemy commander had selected, but still, the Hector Kingdom hadn’t expected one variable. They didn’t know what kind of person Roman Dmitry was.
The rugged mountains and blinding darkness were factors that didn’t let anyone see even an inch ahead. They limited the movements of both sides, but Roman Dmitry, who had lived as Baek Joong-hyuk, was able to move freely in the dark.
‘It’s been a long time since I felt this kind of feeling.’
How to fight using the darkness—Most people thought that Baek Joong-hyuk was someone who always fought his enemies head-on. Nevertheless, the truth was quite different. Back when Baek Joong-hyuk didn’t have power, to meet his father’s expectations, he had to adapt to living in the gloomy darkness.
At that time, there was a name Baek Joong-hyuk earned and was frequently called.
‘The Shadow Ghost.’
He was just like the shadow of a ghost, something that no one could predict the actions of and see.
Roman was calmly waiting for Hector’s next decision. And when the darkness finally covered the entire mountain, it became the stage of Baek Joong-hyuk, the Heavenly Demon, and the Shadow Ghost.
Editor’s Thoughts: The Shadow Ghost has arrived! The stage has been set, and the prey is in the vicinity. It is time for another massacre for Hector. Also, that was an amazing cliffhanger lol.