The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor Volume 51 Chapter 2 part1
Lafaye was standing in the highest tower of the Castle Aren.
“First the Path of Struggle… and now the Palrangka War. Others would have a hard time going through just one such dangerous adventure, let alone two, yet he makes such easy work out of them… I must say, he is indeed a remarkable person.”
Immediately before the battle of the Garnav Plain, Weed managed to take the initiative by winning the broadcasting media to his side. Recalling the course of actions he had taken to that end and the outcomes it had brought, Lafaye could not help but feel bitter, as the person who was leading the Hermes Guild.
“Are you going to proceed with the plan?”
Bard Ray in his full armor ascended to the top of the tower. The Hermes Guild had supplied Bard Ray with the best equipment and brand new weapons for the upcoming war.
Lafaye answered Bard Ray calmly.
“Yes, we will carry on as planned.”
“And the targets?”
They had devised a scheme to summon three flaming meteors, simultaneously aiming at Weed and the Arpen Kingdom’s camp. However, they had yet to decide exactly which locations they would target with the meteors. Lafaye unrolled the map of the Garnav Plain and pointed at the place where the concert of Marey the bard had taken place.
“We should drop two of them here, where the biggest number of people are gathering.”
“What about the third one?”
“I’ve chosen the construction site of the sculptures. That way we can destroy the weapons they have been making in preparation for the war.”
In most cases Bard Ray was content with Lafaye’s decisions, and this time was no exception. The Hermes Guild had been having difficulties maintaining their great empire. Little by little, they had been lead toward the edge of a precipice, and the only way left for them now was to fully rely on their military forces. In fact, this was what the Hermes Guild truly excelled at.
Reeds swayed with the night wind.
The army of the Hermes Guild was stationed by the Dellawood River, which was a 30-minutes horseback ride away from the Garnav Plain.
“The troops of the Haven Empire look really magnificent, too.”
“Yeah. This is a splendid view.”
“Kuuu. Finally, the epic battle will take place today.”
Well over a hundred thousand users were looking down upon the riverside from a distant mountain. The sight of great military tents, chariots and war horses standing in orderly lines was indeed deeply impressive.
“The Hermes Guild has always lived up to its name in battles that involved its real main forces.”
“Those guys did more than just proving themselves. They have never been defeated in a war when they were led by Bard Ray himself.”
“As far as I remember, they’ve never even had an even match. All of their victories have been overwhelming, crushing, absolute… all that stuff.”
There were many users from the Central Continent who worshipped martial power. They had observed every victory the Haven Empire had achieved until now, and they believed that the Empire would be the winner this time, yet again. They had not joined the Northern Continent users and they followed the Imperial Army to the assembly area, dreaming of gaining membership of the Hermes Guild or hoping to get some crumbs off of their table.
“Still, aren’t they at a disadvantage in terms of numbers compared to the Northern users?”
“The size of the army isn’t everything, though. What really matters is the advanced combat power. A single magic scroll can kill thousands of people, and as long as they are willing to spend their money liberally…”
“But those kinds of magic scrolls are hard to come by, you can’t just ignore headcount. The Haven Empire has also experienced defeat in the past because of their smaller size, even though they had put up a good fight in every battle.”
“Things are different this time. They have thoroughly prepared themselves for this, and the entire military forces of the Haven Empire will assemble here.”
“And by now there will be all sorts of ragtag players from across the Versailles Continent gathering in the Arpen Kingdom’s camp. This will be the day the greatest battle of the Versailles continent takes place.”
“It’s gonna be awesome when the two forces finally clash.”
The Haven Empire and the Arpen Kingdom!
It wasn’t easy to predict which side would win. People thought it might be possible that the tide of the battle swings heavily towards one side once the battle actually begins, but for now they had no way to know exactly how things would turn out to be. The users who were convinced of the Haven Empire’s victory continued gathering on the banks of the Dellawood River.
One hour before the battle of the Garnav Plain!
In the Haven Empire’s Aren Castle, the highest-ranking players were making their appearances one by one.
“Finally, today is the big day.”
“We’ll be able to wipe out the lot from the North, at last.”
The core members of the guild were assembling in Aren Castle, not in the Empire’s camp on the banks of the Dellawood River. Armed with the best weapons and gears known to date and fully ready for combat, they sipped a glass of wine while relaxing.
There was a fixed-type teleport gate currently installed there, so they could instantly move from Aren Castle to the Garnav Plain whenever they wanted. To carry out the task of setting up the gate in secret, Steer, who was leading the Intelligence Bureau and the Assassins squad, had gone through a lot of hard work.
“I’ve got a new double-bladed axe… and I shall fight until it breaks into pieces today.”
“Nero-nim hasn’t arrived yet?”
“I’ve heard that he has a lot of work related to Magical Squad business.”
“If you’re talking about the Ice Squad, no wonder they are so busy. I’ve also heard some rumors that Nero-nim has almost reached the Master level in Ice-type spells…”
“I don’t think that is true. Magic is one of those fields of study in which it’s very difficult to increase skill level. Still, he has probably reached quite a high level.”
It had been a long time since all of these important members, normally scattered far from one another in hunting grounds and dungeons across the Continent, gathered together in one place. The commanding officers, including some lords of great influence and leaders of knightly orders, also enjoyed some chat as they had a meal together.
“I’ve been itching for some action, since there haven’t been many big fights recently.”
“This war is certainly going to be big in terms of numbers, although the fact that it’s going to be full of small fry does lower the excitement somewhat.”
“I believe there’s already an expedition to the North planned for after this war?”
“Of course. It seems we will start our march northwards as soon as we win this battle.”
Even though they knew that the users of the Northern Continent were stronger than expected, and that quite a lot of users from the Central Continent went over to their side, the pride of being the dominating force of the Central Continent still allowed them to keep their composure. They were confident that any one of the players gathered in this castle would be able to single-handedly massacre about a thousand novice users. To be frank, users who hadn’t reached level 100 almost didn’t register to them as human beings.
Draka, who was the former command-in-chief of the empire’s Northern Continent expeditionary force that invaded the Arpen Kingdom, directed a question to Boemong the Giant Knight.
“By the way, what is our specific battle plans?”
“Yes. I mean, the scale of this battle is too great for a simple head-on fight.”
“I understand you belong to the 13th Division, Draka-nim?”
“That I do. But we have never been informed as to exactly what role our squad has to perform, nor could we make any preparations for that.”
As Draka spoke in a firm tone that sounded like complaining, the attention of the other rankers in the banquet hall was drawn to Boemong. They, too, had been wondering the same issue, as there hadn’t been any prior notice or instructions except for the deployment of the troops.
Boemong could only shrug his shoulders, for he also did not have any idea.
“I don’t know much about it, either. The only thing that is certain is that it’s going to be different from our past battles.”
“So you haven’t heard anything?”
“I was told that we just need to ready ourselves to kill as many enemies as possible.”
“Just get ready to kill, is that it…?”
Even as they felt puzzled due to the lack of detailed plans, the Hermes Guild members smiled, full of confidence. Slaughter was their favorite field of specialty.
Before long, all of the 1000 members who had been invited filled the banquet hall. All of the lords and knight commanders, the top-tier users of great power whose names were widely known and those who possessed an army of their own gathered around without a single missing member.
When the appointed time had come, the inner circle of the Hermes Guild, including the duumvirate, also showed up one after another. Bard Ray stood in the center of the room amid a round of applause.
“As many of you are probably wondering about this, I shall begin to explain our battle plan. First, please take a look at the crystal in the center of the room.”
A giant crystal orb was standing in the middle of the banquet hall; it was showing the current state of the Garnav Plain. It seemed the shots had been taken from a very high viewpoint, since each of the people gathered in the plain looked infinitely small.
Someone in the hall let out a small groan. The vast plain was full of bonfires, torches and magical lights. Everywhere the light reached seemed to be filled with people. Even from this distance, things like gigantic, towering sculptures and defensive structures such as wooden barricades and moats caught their eyes.
‘We need to fight in that place…?’
‘Well, whether we win or lose, it’s going to be one wild day today.’
The top rankers inflamed their fighting spirit once more. They might lose everything they’d got if they were to be defeated in this battle, but this was nonetheless the moment they had been long waiting for.
Winning the entire world through power — this was what the Hermes Guild had always strived to do since its early days.
Bard Ray’s speech continued.
“The time is 12 o’clock now. The day has finally come that will determine the fate of the Versailles Continent.”
The day of the battle! That fateful day was upon them at last as the midnight heralded the change of the date.
“Everyone, look at the sky.”
The crystal orb was now showing the beautiful night sky of the Garnav Plain strewn with twinkling stars.
The sky and the land. Perhaps such breathtaking beauty of this world was what made them want to conquer it and take possession of it forever.
The Hermes Guild users waited for Bard Ray’s next words, but only the silence continued.
Time was slowly passing in the banquet hall.
‘Just how long does he want us to watch this…?’
‘What is he expecting us to see?’
Just as a few impatient members started to feel bored and look away,
‘Wait, there IS something!’
The eyes of the users who had been watching the crystal orb rather doubtfully sparkled in realization. Tiny dots that hadn’t been there a moment ago appeared suddenly in the night sky.
Three small dots!
They hadn’t noticed them right away, but those dots were gradually gaining in size.
“They can’t be…can they…?”
“Ah, the meteors!”
The Hermes Guild members tended to have quick wits when it came to this kind of matters. They knew that Bard Ray wouldn’t have made them look at the sky at this very moment for no reason.
Summon Flaming Meteors!
One of the ultimate magical spells in Royal Road had been cast, and the meteors were now rushing towards the Garnav Plain.
“Kuaaaah. I’ve made it to the top, finally.”
Vollark, a user from Port Varna, crawled on top of the giraffe statue as if climbing a cliff face. It was one of the Masterpiece sculptures in the Garnav Plain, boasting the height of a whopping 650 meters from the ground to the head.
“We’ll finally get to fight today.”
Every street he could see from the top of the giraffe’s head was overflowing with crowd and shimmering light, creating a dazzlingly beautiful sight.
There were many other people standing next to Vollark who had also climbed to the top of the sculpture to appreciate the view.
“This looks so fantastic. I really hope this place will remain like this forever.”
“Yes. This is going to become an unforgettable place for us, too, for the rest of our lives.”
The large-size completed sculptures were studded with shining stones that the dwarves had brought. Every night the statues shone in dreamlike colors as they reflected the light from the moon, stars and the bonfires on the ground.
“We may never see this scenery again, who knows.”
Vollark grinned widely. The night breeze was refreshing, and there was a soft sound of musical instruments being played somewhere in the distance. He felt as if this was going to be a day when everything would work out perfectly.
– Udin: Where are you?
– Vokside: We’re all ready now and about to meet up.
He received private messages from the friends he was going to fight in the battle with.
“I’m on top of the giraffe statue.”
– Vokside: Did you already finish getting ready?
“Well, I’ve made all the preparations to fight.”
– Udin: You have? Then we’ll start heading over to you.
“Yeah, get here quickly.”
As he finished exchanging messages with friends and waited for them, several people came to him to share some food.
“Here, have some bread.”
Countless people were streaming to the Garnav Plain — all of them anticipating the battle against the Haven Empire, naturally. Although the date of the battle had been agreed upon by both sides to be this day, there hadn’t been any talk as to what time the fight would begin.
‘I guess we’ll probably get started after the morning breaks? We’ll have to wait for them to arrive at the Garnav Plain first before the fight takes place.’
He could hear the conversation among the people crowding the top of the giraffe statue.
“The Versailles Continent will change after this battle is over, won’t it?”
“I bet. I heard that there will be another water park that’s going to be built in the Central Continent.”
“I remember Puhol Water Park being half people, half water just a while ago. Some even say that there are more people than there is water.”
“Yeah, there wasn’t enough space to swim in that place during holiday seasons. And during weekends.”
“There’s also a rumor that Mapan’s Trading Company will construct a road that connects the whole continent. It will start as a trade route for merchants, but eventually become a road for novice users to travel around safely.”
“I guess there will be more new cities, too…”
Everyone was picturing a bright future in their mind, full of hope. Vollark raised his head to watch the stars shining in the sky.
‘We must win this battle today.’
At that instant when he was blankly staring into the sky waiting for his friends to arrive, he suddenly became strangely conscious of three small stars in the east. He didn’t feel anything out of ordinary at first, but soon realized that those tiny millet-sized stars were flying towards this location leaving blazing red tails behind.
‘Passing meteors, huh? I’ve heard stories that they bring luck to a person who sees them… Wait, what the heck…?’
Vollark jumped to his feet. The three red-tailed meteors flying from the distant sky were slowly becoming bigger and bigger.
‘No way… No way. They can’t be.’
The meteors continued gaining in size even as Vollark watched them. They were closing the distance to the land, rather than heading to some other direction.
“Meteors! Meteors are falling on this position!”
Vollark shouted in the loudest voice he had ever made in his life. People turned to look at him as if he was talking nonsense.
“What’s wrong with him?”
“I don’t know. He’s shouting all of a sudden.”
But soon they too turned their heads upward to look at the sky Vollark was pointing at.
“What are those?”
“I see something.”
“They are shooting stars. And they… They are flying towards here?!”
An ear-splitting shriek.
Beside the giraffe sculpture, there were many people who were standing on top of the other large sculptures, appreciating the view. They must have spotted the meteors as well, for there were currently shouts and screams coming from every direction. The lights on the ground of the Garnav Plain also began to shiver and sway, and the music played by the bards gradually stopped over some time interval.
He didn’t know what happened to the festival or what the people in the streets were doing, but he could guess that they must have been thrown in a pandemonium.
“No, we can’t escape from them.”
“They are moving too fast…”
The night sky was slowly being painted in dark red color as people gazed upon them. The meteors that came flying from the east pierced the atmosphere and lit up the sky in white.
Three meteors crashed on the Garnav Plain.
People felt as though the whole ground was shaking. Pillars of flames rose into the sky without end, and those who had gathered to enjoy the festival seemed to disintegrate instantly in a flash of blazing light.
The banquet hall of Aren Castle.
The members of the Hermes Guild who had just witnessed the Summon Flaming Meteor spell being cast upon the Garnav Plain were stunned into silence for a while. Even for them who had gone through plenty of battles, this was a shocking sight.
‘At least one hundred thousand people have been killed. Maybe more, since they were concentrated in one place.’
‘So the guild had in its possession… a spell of such destructive power all along.’
They could see the gigantic explosion causing the entire plain to quake, and parts of the large sculptures falling off and collapsing to the ground.
It was difficult even to estimate the amount of damage.
After the first wave of shock they felt from the force of the spell, they thought that it was an extremely advantageous move for the battle. The users in the Garnav Plain would be dazed and scared out of their senses by the impact of the summoned meteors. Once the Imperial Army took this chance and started marching now, they would be able to gain tremendous benefits in the earlier stages of the battle.
Boemong cried out in a loud voice.
“Let me lead the vanguard. I will take control of the Garnav Plain.”
Calcus drew out his sword before speaking.
“The 4th Division has finished every preparation for the battle. If we move now using the teleport gate, we can attack the Garnav Plain within 15 minutes.”
Even as he received the passionate gazes from military commanders and top-ranking players, Bard Ray did not return any response.
The crystal orb was currently showing the plain burning in flames. Large craters formed as the ground gave way, and the Northern users were running about urgently near the fire. It looked like there were a large number of novice users who had been killed even though they were far away from the impact site.
“Hurry, give us an order to go to battle!”
“We need to seize this opportunity when we can!”
Boemong and Calcus urged him further, but Bard Ray merely took a sip from his teacup, keeping his relaxed composure.
When everyone was getting increasingly puzzled about his attitude, Arkhim stepped up and spoke to them.
“Please, keep watching a little longer. We are not quite ready just yet.”
(Continued on the next part…)