“Sound the horn,” Trajan commanded, his cold and ruthless gaze turned toward the guild district and filled with killing intent. Amid the mass of restless soldiers, even Trajan’s tremendous killing intent faded into the aura all of these assembled mages created, but it was still enough for Avremar, who was standing right next to the Prince, to shiver.
Avremar nodded to the soldier holding a large horn, and a moment later, the deep horn blast was heard over almost the entire city. The soldiers had been assembled in an open square and several adjacent streets not too far from the bridge, and at the signal started streaming in formation toward the bridge. Trajan took the lead, with his gleaming plate armor and red cloak making him instantly identifiable.
“FOLLOW ME!” he roared, as was Legion tradition when leading such a large charge. His skin hardened into stone beneath his armor and he charged down the bridge with four thousand Legion soldiers at his back. These soldiers were locked together in a shield wall, so they couldn’t move as fast as Trajan could, but Avremar and a sixth-tier Legate were with him.
The first obstacle was nothing before the three powerful mages. Trajan slammed a massive war hammer into it, and the flimsy wood splintered and broke apart. It hadn’t even been enchanted.
However, as soon as the Legate took advantage of the massive hole the Prince made, he was enveloped in a pillar of fire.
‘This wasn’t here to stop us from passing, it was here to stop us from seeing the mines!’ Trajan thought with only a slight degree of concern. He smiled derisively and thought, ‘A good idea, but it’s not enough to stop us…’
The Legate emerged from the flames with barely a hair out of place—though his bright green and gold armor was a little charred. He laughed and swung his sword, causing what appeared to be shining white drops of liquid light to be flung off of him. These hundreds of tiny drops hovered in the air around the Legate for a moment before suddenly falling to the ground like rain and destroying the trap spells placed on that side of the obstacle.
The bridge was lit up with flashes of multicolored light as traps of almost every element were obliterated by the Legate’s rain of light.
While he was taking care of the traps, Trajan hammered the obstacle a few times, rendering it into nothing more than a pile of wood splinters. Avremar then summoned his own magic and hurled most of the splinters into the river with a great gust of wind.
The three men weren’t stopped for long, but it was enough for the front line of the four battalions behind them to catch up.
Trajan took a look at what was happening farther down the bridge. He trusted Leon and the other team to have been in position in time, so when he saw the guild mages preparing to use their own magic against the advancing Legion, he wasn’t overly concerned. He simply smiled at the thrill of battle—something he had to savor as he rarely experienced it in his position—and advanced.
Leon and the others in his team heard the Legion horn loud and clear. Leon and Alix were about to charge downstairs and out the door, but Grim shouted, “Wait!”
Leon and Alix froze and turned to stare at Grim.
“What are you doing?” Leon demanded in confusion. “The battle’s starting!” From the top of the clock tower, the team could see Prince Trajan appear on the far side of the bridge, and Leon didn’t want to wait around when the battle was starting.
“Just wait for a few seconds,” Grim said as he pointedly looked down at the unburned villas by the bridge. After several moments, guild mages started pouring out of the houses to reinforce the fifty or so mages standing watch. “Wait for all of the enemy to show themselves so we know what we’re dealing with…” Grim muttered.
It took a few minutes, during which time Leon could see the Prince and one of the Legates penetrate the first of seven barricades set up along the bridge. This was the largest of the three bridges, wide enough to allow for about fifteen people to walk side-by-side, so this was where Trajan had decided to make the main push. He had four battalions with him, while a pair of Legates led the assault on the other two bridges with three battalions each.
Still, the bridge was two hundred and fifty feet long, and the guild mages were clearly going to make the Legion soldiers fight for every foot. Some of the mages jumped over the barricades and waited for the soldiers along the bridge, and from the way they seemed to pick up speed while in the air Leon guessed that the more solid-looking barricades had been enchanted to prevent the Legion from jumping over.
Finally, mages stopped streaming out of the houses, leaving the Legion facing down what Leon’s team counted as around five hundred guild mages.
Without waiting for Grim, Leon started sprinting down the clock tower’s stairs with Alix and Anzu hot on his heels. Grim and his own squire didn’t waste any time either, as they could see the Prince starting to engage the guild mages in the distance.
The team burst from the clock tower and charged through the last few narrow streets and emerged out into the main thoroughfare, one of only two straight streets in the entire district. The Legion attack had captivated the attention of most of the mages, but a few were still attentive enough to what was going on around them that they saw the four-man team arrive.
“Legion behind us!” came a shout, and several dozen mages turned to face Leon’s team.
Grim glanced around, looking for the second team that was supposed to meet them there, but he didn’t see them. He wasn’t too concerned; they were probably just a little bit late. Leon, however, didn’t even take that one look. As soon as the mages turned, he, Alix, and Anzu charged at the enemy.
Most of the guild mages in the rear were first and second-tier, so when the fifth-tier Leon began to spark and flash with lightning, panic immediately began to spread. Leon tore into the first couple of mages in front of him, the force of his first slash almost cutting one mage in half while a blast of lightning channeled through his sword fried the man behind the mage. The runes on his armor flashed with golden light, helping him to channel his lightning, and his magic flowed almost effortlessly through his weapon.
With his magic sense, Leon could perceive that Alix and Anzu had each killed a mage of their own, so he moved on to his next target. Ahead of him was a third-tier mage fumbling around in his pocket—for a spell, Leon guessed. Or at least, that’s what Leon would do if he encountered a mage two tiers higher than him, and he even had several of the white-fire spells Xaphan had taught him stashed away in his soul realm for just such an occasion.
He wasn’t going to let this mage use his spell, though, and he surged into the crowd of startled guild mages faster than they could react. In fact, with his magic flowing through him, his limbs sparked enough that he almost seemed to turn into lightning, and his speed and strength drastically increased.
The third-tier mage didn’t manage to pull out whatever he was searching his pockets for, and Leon stabbed him through the chest before he could process his fear and disappointment. Leon was gratified to see that most of the mages this far back weren’t wearing armor, as it made his job much easier; he called upon his magic again, conjuring a lightning spear. He was almost surprised at how easy this was with his enchanted armor.
But, he couldn’t revel in his power forever, so he slammed the lightning spear into the ground, catching eight nearby guild mages in another lightning explosion and ripping apart the street beneath his feet.
Grim wasn’t going to be left out this time, and he leaped into the fray a mere few seconds after Leon had. He slashed through a few guild mages with his sword while forming three triangular plates made of ice. These plates were razor thin, and with a single thought, Grim launched them into the crowd of guild mages, slashing at throats and tendons. Seven guild mages were killed and ten more severely injured before the ice plates broke and splintered apart.
For these lower-tiered guild mages, the battle turned into a horror show; they were supposed to be the last line of defense for the bridge, and many had been planning on surrendering if the Legion broke through. All of the mages capable of fending off Leon and Grim single-handedly had gone to head off Prince Trajan and the other leaders of the Legion battalions. All they could hope to do now with Leon and Grim tearing through their group was to overwhelm the two knights with superior numbers.
Unfortunately for them, the few hits they were able to land on the two failed to penetrate their armor. Even Alix and Grim’s squire were too skillful and armored to fall to their weapons, and Anzu was too quick for them to catch.
More and more guild mages fell by the second.
Trajan burst through the third barricade and, for the first time that day, came face-to-face with a human enemy. The fifth-tier guild mage clearly thought that he could catch the Prince by surprise and had stood just on the other side of the barricade where he couldn’t be seen. Once the barricade was brought down, he lunged forward and tried to impale Trajan upon his spear.
But Trajan knew that the mage was there thanks to his magic sense, but he barely cared. The spear bounced off his armor, and the Prince punched the foolish mage so hard that he was almost flung over the side of the bridge into the river. Trajan advanced, not paying the mage any further mind; the Legion soldiers behind him would finish the guild mage off.
As he strode forward, he saw five more mages—all fifth-tier—blocking his way, but he also saw golden flashes far behind the next barricade that he knew came from Leon’s lightning magic.
“That boy made it,” he whispered as a sense of almost fatherly pride welled up from within, especially as he noted the repeated use of golden lightning rather than Leon’s normal silver with a blue tinge at the edges.
He slowly let the head of his hammer tap the bridge, and the stone bricks it was made of trembled in response. The mages watching him advance were almost frozen in fear; Trajan’s killing intent was lost in the bloody and violent aura of the battle, but that didn’t matter. The Prince continued walking forward with the confidence of a man who knew that he had already won.
One of the mages found his nerve as the Prince drew closer; he suddenly sprinted forward as the head of his spear was coated in bright blue light.
“You’re not killing us today!” the mage shouted as he lunged forward, but Trajan made no effort to dodge the blow.
The Legate beside him acted fast, as his magic coated his sword in white light. This light extended out until it appeared that the Legate was holding a sword almost ten feet long. He didn’t even have to break his stride to block the mage’s spear, and Trajan took the opportunity to smash his hammer into the guild mage’s face.
The other mages charged, realizing from that show of force that they weren’t going to stop the Prince with anything less than their combined effort. Trajan simply smiled and kept swinging his hammer.
Leon and his team managed to kill more than half of the mages behind the last barricade in about five minutes. The rest of the weaker mages, seeing the corpses of their fellows all around them, decided that they weren’t quite as committed to their cause as they thought, and ran away as fast as they could.
For a moment, Leon almost gave chase, but he could hear Trajan’s battalions advancing and he knew that he had a much more important job. He took a quick look at the rest of the team and saw that everyone was covered in blood and breathing hard, but none seemed injured thanks to their armor. Even Anzu seemed fine, though his white body was now almost as red as his eyes.
The team took this moment to rest and steady their breathing, but there were still a couple hundred guild mages between the Legion and the district.
“Let’s finish this,” Leon said.
“Right!” Alix said, and the team started walking toward the last barricade. It had been built up into a small wall, with crude ramparts and battlements and with the weaker mages gone, only guarded by a handful of third and fourth-tier mages.
“Easy enough,” Leon muttered as he called upon his power again. In his hand appeared a golden lightning bolt, and he hurled it at one of the fourth-tier mages. The guild mages were far too busy watching the Legion advance, so they hadn’t seen the mages in the street behind them retreat; the fourth-tier mage was completely unprepared for Leon’s lightning bolt, and he was killed almost instantly.
The rest of the guild mages wheeled around and upon seeing scores of their dead comrades, jumped down to engage with the team. None of the fourth-tier mages hesitated, despite knowing that they were facing down a pair of fifth-tier knights; they understood that together, the nine of them were more than a match for two fifth-tier knights and their second-tier squires. However, just as they began their charge, a wind blade came rocketing out from an alleyway to slash one of the mages across the chest and a rock spike burst from the ground and impaled the leg of another.
The second team of knights had arrived, to the horror of the guild mages.
“Glad you could make it!” Grim shouted to the leader of the other team.
“It just wouldn’t do if we missed this!” she responded.
With that, three more fifth-tier knights were added to Leon’s side, as the other team was slightly larger. Without another word, they began to take the guild mages apart with earth, wind, ice, and lightning magic.
It seems like, despite getting pretty good ratings lately on Royal Road, it’s only been those with more middling opinions of this story that have bothered writing reviews lately =(
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