"General! The unit you sent to Sir Saron has just returned! They have something to report…" The messenger hesitated at that point because he didn't know whether what he was reading was true.
"What does it say?" Dave said with a furrowed brow.
"It said Sir Saron wasn't able to defeat Annelotte and had been subdued by her by the time the soldiers were running away. There's a good chance that Sir Saron has been killed!" The soldier never thought he'd say something that inane and unbelievable.
David slammed the table and stared at the messenger with rage. "It's no time to joke! We're in the army, not a tavern where you can bullshit all you want! Leave your lies there! If you do this again, I'll have you sent to the court martial!"
"No, General!" the soldier hurriedly said, "This is the exact words of the unit leader! You can verify it with him!"
"It's enough! Don't mess around." David still refused to believe it.
"General! It's urgent! Sir Saron really is in danger!" The unit leader that just returned predicted that the general wouldn't believe that news, so he shouted what he wanted to convey from afar with his impetus. "I attest to this with my life on the line! Half of the thousand men I took with me had been eliminated by Annelotte's magic!"
"Ridiculous!" the general couldn't help but utter, before he relented and had someone bring the unit leader to him.
After a short few-minute briefing, David decided that he would go to the scene to check it immediately. Otherwise, he could never bring himself to believe that the ridiculously powerful crimsonflame fiend would perish so anticlimactically. Even if he couldn't defeat Annelotte alone, he had a thousand men with him. How could he still lose?!
Even if he couldn't win, why couldn't he run?
But when he arrived, the sight before him was one that came out of his wildest nightmares. Hundreds of Stokian soldiers lay dead, silent and unmoving. What kind of terrible spell were they put under for each and every one of them to start rotting due to the deathly energy? Had they not been totally still, he would've thought they had turned into undead!
What was even more shocking to him was the slender corpse not far away. It was none other than Saron. He lay there without moving in the slightest with his mouth open, his face still frozen in the primal expression of the fear of death. What in the world could cause him to react like that? How in the world did Annelotte do it?
David and the soldiers who came with were petrified like statues.
"General?" The unit leader was expecting that and was the first to snap out of it.
After another minute of remaining in stupor, David gulped audibly. "Clean up the battlefield. I have to send a letter to the millennium capital."
Some ten days later, word of Saron's death spread throughout the continent. Nobody could've expected the one hailed to be the strongest of the young generation would be killed off just like that, by a girl around her age no less!
Initially, quite a number of people doubted the validity of that report. But when Stok gave Hocke's announcement about the matter the silent treatment, the whole continent fell into shock!
The destruction of a myth was always accompanied by another. Even though Annelotte didn't wish it, her triumph over Saron made her the new legend on Chino.
According to the soldiers who were there, Annelotte seemed completely calm throughout the fight, as if she had everything under control from the very beginning. That wasn't the shocking part; what was was how she managed to drive away a force of a thousand after she defeated Saron!
The reason Saron was called the crimsonflame fiend was because of his crowning achievement of defeating a thousand Hockian soldiers alone. That battle sent waves across the continent. Imagine how they reacted when they heard about a young man of about 20 possessing such terrifying power! His myth was so potent that his nickname came about as a result.
Yet, nobody expected the sudden rise of an absolutely gifted girl who managed to defeat him in a few short years. She had risen to the top over Saron's dead body!
One versus a thousand no longer seemed impressive, especially when compared to Annelotte's achievement of defeating a thousand soldiers while fighting someone who had done the same in tandem. So what if Saron was a warrior and a magus or a twin gifted? Those were nothing but jokes before Annelotte.
Not to mention the fact that she played it cool across the whole battle without carrying herself haughtily around like Saron did. Some even thought Saron got what he deserved.
The moment word of the incident spread, the Hockians were all impressed by Annelotte's feats. Not only that, even some Stokians began to admire and worship her. Not only did she have shocking talent, she also had heaven-shaking beauty! Her humble demeanor also made her the exemplar all haughty young people should aspire to emulate!
Initially, the only Alissanda, Saron and Leguna were hailed to be the three top geniuses of Chino. Apart from distinguishing herself in the tournament, Annelotte didn't show herself much to the world. Coupled with the fact she was a woman, people saw her as inferior to the three.
But now, they realized that she had been the strongest of them all this whole time. Melindor Daily gave her a domineering sobriquet -- Glacial Empress Annelotte. Initially, they had wanted to use Frost Princess, but they thought the title wasn't impressive enough to grace the jewel of Hocke. So, they had their princess 'ascend to the throne' instead.
Even though the girl in question cringed when she heard what people were calling her, it wasn't like she could make her thoughts known easily in a world where information was hard to disseminate. She couldn't be bothered to seek out any newspaper publishers to make any statement about that either, so the nickname stuck.
Leguna struggled to open his eyes. Even though he had been passed out for seven days, his wounds seemed to have recovered considerably, though he was still ways from complete recovery. But at the very least, he could get up and walk on his own.
He turned to look around and found himself within an army camp.
Did Annie bring me back? Does that mean she really defeated Saron?! he wondered. He didn't know what happened after he passed out.
He groaned twice and sat up with some difficulty.
"Sir, you're awake?" The guard entered in the hurry after hearing sounds coming from within.
"Yes. How many days was I out for?" Leguna asked, "How are Annie and Eirinn?"
"Sir, you were out for less than seven days. Sir Marolyt was the one who brought you and Miss Annelotte back. I'm not sure about the rest," the guard replied.
"Alright." He subconsciously tried to ask Gahrona about it, only to notice that his equipment wasn't with him. He sighed and said, "Help me go to them!"
"It's only some scratches and bruises. Why do you need help? Since when have you gotten so soft?" said Marolyt as he marched inside before giving Leguna a slap.
Leguna saw stars after receiving the slap.
"You trying to show off and play the hero? Look at yourself in the mirror, will ya?! You wanted to assassinate Saron? You sure you're not trying to get yourself tortured? I don't really care what you do, but don't drag my daughter into it! Do you know what kind of state she was in when I found her?! This is bonkers… Sometimes I ask myself why I don't just cut you down right now!"
"You are right to punish me, Pops." He smiled bitterly without saying anything else. He also felt the beating was well deserved. He had lost all rationality when Eirinn broke down and chose to do something as risky as trying to assassinate Saron. Now, he could see that it was nothing more than asking to be tortured as Marolyt had so eloquently put it.
Before leaving Melindor, Gahrona had reminded him to not act upon his emotions, but he didn't listen. At the end of the day, he still did whatever he wanted without thinking it through.
As for Gahrona and his other equipment, he would go to get them later.
With his anger vented, Marolyt felt much calmer. He looked at Leguna in annoyance and said in a gentler tone, "Alright, since you're awake, go see Annie and your half elf girl. She was the one who took care of Annie when she was out."
"Annie was unconscious too?"
"Do you think Saron was so easy to deal with?" Marolyt's gaze fiercened again. "I heard there was another thousand Stokian soldiers there! If it were you, I think you'd be done for after only facing three or four!"
Leguna kept his words to himself.
"Just go! Annie just woke up yesterday. And you don't know how hard the half elf cried when I brought you back. Even so, she still forced herself to treat you two with her divine miracles. Hmph! Now that I think about it, even though the girl looks weak, she does have some spunk in her bones. I can respect someone like her!" Marolyt's opinion on Eirinn seemed to have changed quite a lot.
"Okay." Leguna stretched a bit before he left.
He was still considering what he would say to Annelotte after seeing her. What he didn't expect was Annelotte reacting the same way Marolyt did and giving him another slap, one with more force than her father's!Previous Chapter Next Chapter