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    [TL/N: Gale is changed to Gale. I forgot that the name Gale was first mentioned in Chapter 97]

    In Ortona, there exists a unique aura cultivation technique called [Henesys]. It is a specialized practice developed for the Henesys longsword, which features a blade not so short in length and a hilt that extends about two-thirds the length of the blade.

    The Henesys longsword is a beautiful weapon, possessing both the advantages of a two-handed sword and a spear. With its delicately patterned blade, ornate guard, and pommel, some mistook it for merely a decorative sword for the nobility.

    However, once one witnesses its broad attack range comparable to a spear, the speed with which it can be wielded, and the ferocious power of its jagged blade tearing through flesh, they would never again dare to dismiss it as a mere ceremonial weapon.

    The pinnacle of the Henesys technique was now being starkly displayed on the Andres Plains.

    Swoosh!

    With the long blade already formidable, a blue aura blade, extending two more feet, swiftly drew circles in the air. Two charging cavalrymen were cut in half along with their horses and tumbled to the ground.

    General Gale, having judged that he was more effective against the cavalry, charged towards them again.

    “Eek!”

    The surrounding cavalrymen, startled, quickly turned their horses.

    They desperately tried to distance themselves from the rampaging Sword Master, knowing well that getting close meant being sliced like a dummy in a practice yard.

    Even as the elite cavalry of the royalist faction, they dared not venture within Gale’s striking range.

    But the sword, maintaining its swift momentum, sliced through the air in a large ‘eight’ pattern. Several cavalrymen, failing to escape, were cleaved diagonally and fell to the ground.

    Hahaha! A cloud of dust rose in the air.

    “Whew, he really is a monster,” muttered Captain Justin of the mercenaries, leading a separate unit and swinging his sword vigorously, as he whistled.

    A man who seemed gentle and well-mannered transformed into an unstoppable force once he drew his sword.

    Just the mere presence of Gale’s aura caused the enemy to tremble and fail to respond adequately. While their unit methodically took down the enemies, the Sword Master alone was dispatching cavalrymen at a far greater rate.

    Justin pushed up the visor of his sallet, glancing sideways, specifically at the boy swinging his sword emotionlessly beside him.

    “Bart, why do you keep making that face? Are you still unhappy about accepting this assignment?”

    The boy, who had been reluctant to participate in this civil war from the start and was notably taciturn, appeared increasingly gloomy. Justin, who had practically coerced him into joining, was concerned.

    The boy, gazing at the swirling blue aura in the distance, replied without looking at Justin.

    “It’s a task with an inevitable end. These kinds of things never leave a good aftertaste.”

    “Well, that’s…”

    The captain trailed off, then shrugged his shoulders and joked with an exaggerated expression.

    “That’s for our employers to worry about, not you, right?”

    “…”

    Without responding, the boy clicked down the visor of his sallet. A strange silver light began to glow through the thin visor.

    Noticing the ominous aura, a bewildered Justin asked,

    “What are you about to do?”

    “End this quickly.”

    “What?”

    “…I’m sorry.”

    The boy, after gently stroking the neck of his horse enveloped in a white light, suddenly kicked the horse’s side before Justin could say anything more. Hahaha!

    “Hey, wait!”

    The mercenary captain’s urgent cry echoed behind him as the boy galloped into the midst of the chaotic battle. His horse skillfully avoided the tangled mass of cavalry.

    Swoosh. Every now and then, he swung his sword without hesitation at a cavalryman blocking his path.

    Despite not being a proper sword technique, his movements were strangely efficient and even seemed meticulous. After spraying several fountains of blood, the boy had soon reached the right flank of the republican remnants.

    General Gale, who was swinging his blue aura blade, seemed to glance at him. The boy, riding at full speed, was now charging toward the enemy’s stockade, where a rain of arrows poured down.

    “Look… Look at that!”

    The republican soldiers, who had managed to regroup with the support of the Sword Master but were still unable to advance, were wide-eyed with astonishment.

    General Gaspar, unaware, stood up from behind his cover and shouted.

    “…It’s dangerous!”

    Amid the shower of arrows, the boy, unblinkingly, drew another sword tied to the saddle with his left hand. Holding a sword in each hand, he then…

    Whoosh.

    Somehow, he burst into the air from atop his horse at an incredible speed.

    An unreal leap, soaring well above the height of the enemy’s stockade.

    People from both the republican and royalist camps gaped at the sight, a height impossible for an ordinary human to reach.

    Hahaha!

    Meanwhile, amidst the arrow rain, the horse, turned into a pincushion, fell with a pitiful cry.

    The boy was just as exposed to the arrows, yet miraculously, he was not hit even once while suspended in the air. Of course, the only one who truly understood what was happening around him was Gale.

    Whooosh. A wind from somewhere wrapped and swirled around the boy’s body. This fierce wind deflected most of the arrows to the side. The few that came straight were blocked by the white sword barrier created by the swords in his hands.

    “Shoot… Shoot him!”

    The enemy commander, in a trembling voice, urged his archers. They quickly drew their bows, aiming at the boy floating in the air.

    Though he had been lucky to dodge the arrows so far, it seemed impossible to avoid all the arrows in a concentrated volley.

    Then, something astonishing happened. The boy, who was expected to be momentarily immobilized in mid-air and become an easy target, suddenly shot forward at an incredible speed, landing right in the middle of the enemy lines. It happened before the archers could even take aim.

    “What, what?”

    While the enemy commander gaped at this scene, the boy landed softly in the midst of the camp, swirling with the wind.

    Woosh! The sword in his right hand, now wrapped in a faint aura, flew swiftly towards the middle of the stockade.

    The spinning sword, which didn’t seem to be aimed precisely, made a thud as it embedded itself in the center of the stockade. Then, quivering for a moment, it…

    Cling! Shards of sharp metal scattered in all directions. Several archers, caught off guard, were swept up in the explosion.

    “Aaaah!”

    “My eyes!”

    An unexpected chaos ensued among the archer unit.

    The sword had exploded? Even seeing it with their own eyes, the commanders blinked in disbelief.

    Whoosh. The boy, leaping from the ground again, was suddenly right in front of the enemy commander.

    “What…!”

    And that became his last utterance.

    Before the enemy commander could even understand what was happening, his head and torso were severed, tumbling to the ground. All of this happened in the blink of an eye.

    “Gasp!”

    “Mo, monster…!”

    The soldiers, staring dumbfounded at the scene, turned pale and hesitantly stepped back from the boy. Some, who had glimpsed his silver inner light through the visor, even staggered and sat down on the ground.

    The fear of the boy, who demonstrated incredible martial prowess as if he was not human, froze the entire camp.

    In the enemy’s camp, which had diverted most of its forces to attack the republicans from behind, only a few archers and not many infantrymen remained.

    And now, having lost their commander in such a hollow manner, their morale completely plummeted.

    The boy, after coolly surveying the scene, picked up the severed head of the enemy leader and began walking slowly towards the stockade.

    Swoosh.

    Something round suddenly flew towards the republican camp and dropped. It happened right after the shower of arrows ceased when the boy invaded the enemy lines, leaving the republicans puzzled as they scrutinized the enemy stockade.

    Startled, they realized it was a severed head, helmet and all.

    Through the opened visor, General Gaspar recognized the face.

    That head was…

    “…General Alonso!”

    The republican camp began to stir.

    The enemy commander’s head! How did it suddenly…?

    But the experienced General Gaspar realized that this was an unprecedented opportunity. He drew his sword, leapt from his cover, and shouted.

    “The enemy commander’s head has fallen! Charge into their lines, everyone!”

    “Ch… Charge! Charge!”

    Following him, other knights encouraged the soldiers and joined in.

    Waaaaaaah! The entire unit cried out and began to rush towards the high ground.

    Thus, no more arrows rained down until the republicans reached the stockade, and they easily occupied the enemy position, as if all their previous struggles were a lie.

    * * *

    “This battle truly owes much to your Astros Mercenary Group. Thanks to you, we were able to significantly reduce our casualties. I must express my gratitude.”

    Gale personally visited the mercenary corps’ camp to meet with Captain Justin. The urgent nature of their recruitment meant that proper compensation had not yet been discussed.

    He looked a bit tired. He had just come from a strategy meeting, wrestling with republican officials who were furiously insisting on immediately attacking Count Castilla’s domain.

    Of course, the meeting concluded with the decision that an attack with the current forces would be impractical.

    Though the count who had deceived them was detestable, there was no need to unnecessarily extend the frontline. Moreover, even if they were to successfully capture the Castilla fortress, turning the intact Castilla territory into a wasteland would provide a pretext for other neutral nobles to side with the royalist faction.

    “General, when you think about it, our mercenary group always takes on the most dangerous battles, doesn’t it? Perhaps some additional hazard pay would be justified…”

    Despite bluntly calling Gale an exploiter, this cheeky captain made a brazen demand.

    Gale felt a surge of irritation, but after some thought, he realized there was some merit to the captain’s words. It seemed the mercenary leader genuinely believed they deserved more compensation.

    As Gale pondered, a calm voice came from beside him.

    “Justin, you should know when to stop.”

    Mercenary Bart.

    Always competing with the captain, his prowess today clearly surpassed that of his leader. His abilities were hard to believe for someone who had not even reached adulthood.

    Gale still vividly remembered the boy’s mysterious movements as he shot into the enemy lines. It was fair to say he contributed the most in this battle.

    “No, but think about how much we contributed in today’s fight! We deserve a fair reward for our efforts, don’t we?”

    The captain grumbled with a frown, but soon shut up at the boy’s following remark.

    “Then first, shouldn’t we have a more in-depth discussion about my rightful share within the mercenary corps?”

    “…”

    Hmm. Justin, sweating, hesitantly spoke to Gale.

    “…General, let’s forget about the hazard pay increase.”

    Was he implying that the amount they were skimming from the boy was greater than the additional hazard pay!

    Gale looked at the boy named Bart with newfound surprise.

    Despite his young age, he was remarkably mature, yet here was another exploiter like himself. Noticing something in Gale’s gaze, the boy twitched his eyebrows, prompting Gale to quickly turn back to Justin.

    He discussed compensation with the now subdued captain for a while. Finally agreeing on a satisfactory amount, Gale was about to leave, fatigued, when he heard the boy’s sudden question.

    “How long do you plan to continue these meaningless fights?”

    For the first time, the usually reticent boy initiated a conversation with him. Taken aback by the unexpected question, Gale turned around to find the boy’s eyes colder than ever.

    “Do you intend to become a martyr for the republican cause?”

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