Chapter 228: The Great Forest (3)
A single beam of light shot through the dark mist.
It was the giant fortress cannon, the pride of the Mobile Field Army.
Assembled in the air from various airships, it was the most powerful mana cannon in existence.
This time, it contained a somewhat special power.
While the Mobile Field Army was rescuing the spirits and investigating the evil spirits within the dark mist, Iron also made his preparations.
Specifically, he imbued the core of the giant fortress cannon with a massive amount of divine power.
Thanks to infusing it with divine power to its limits whenever possible, the giant beam of light not only cut through the dark mist but also instantly purified its surroundings.
Following the straight path cleared by the fortress cannon, the Mobile Field Army charged in.
Commanders responsible for the airships shouted quickly as they entered the dark mist area.
Then, a spherical device popped up from the top of the airships and emitted mana.
At that moment, divine power spread wildly from the small baepsae that flew from the flagship.
The spread divine power resonated and amplified with all the airships.
A defensive barrier made of divine power formed around the resonating airships through the spherical device, merging with the pre-existing mana-based defensive barrier.
“The resonance fusion defensive barrier is successful!”
Iron nodded slightly at Karl’s report.
The divine power, which repels the void’s energy, and the barrier created by magicians to block evil spirits had merged, forming a perfect defensive barrier.
This meant that the airships would no longer be damaged by the dark mist, nor would the soldiers inside be possessed by evil spirits or the airships contaminated by the void’s energy, allowing the Mobile Field Army to advance quickly towards the location of the phantoms.
What stood in their way were giant monsters and beasts swallowed by evil spirits.
An officer aboard the lead airship murmured dumbfoundedly.
Although its color had darkened overall, its shape resembled that of a tiger.
However, it was difficult to see it as a tiger with bone wings attached, flying, and its body twisted strangely with glowing red eyes.
“Is this the form taken by a corrupted spirit possessed by an evil spirit?”
“Are there many of these things?”
Evil spirit beasts with bizarre bodily mutations flew towards them from the ground.
In addition, powerful mana bullets began flying towards the airships from the forest, making it difficult to advance.
“Is this the attack we saw in the footage?”
Cardo, responsible for the Mobile Field Army’s air force, murmured with a serious expression.
The unidentified attacks that flew from all directions towards Iron riding a divine beast were now starting towards the airships.
Most were intercepted by the Drake Knights accompanying the airship fleet, and the rest were blocked by the holy barrier, not damaging the airships themselves.
However, as the number of attacks increased while advancing, it became difficult to break through directly.
The Drake Knights gagged as they watched the mana bullets flying towards them.
The purple mana bullets flying from the ground were the bodily fluids of giant purple trees.
The liquid spewed from the giant mouths that appeared as the trees mutated was more accurately described as ‘bodily fluid’ rather than ‘sap,’ due to the trees consuming numerous animals and life forms to produce this foreign substance.
“Get ready. Here it comes!”
At Iron’s command, the officers who had been briefed in advance bowed their heads in unison and responded.
Having watched the footage of the area near the phantom’s location dozens of hundreds of times and prepared the operation, they were the leadership of the Mobile Field Army.
Due to the dark mist, the shapes were almost invisible, but after watching the footage hundreds of times, they roughly deduced the attack patterns of those creatures and based on that, developed a counterstrategy.
Thus, a strategy and tactics were formed to predict the next attack.
“As expected… That’s why we had a hard time.”
The Godly Sword family head, slowly riding a divine beast, clicked his tongue.
Everyone blankly watched the giant purple trees flying in the sky.
It was eerie to see tens of thousands of strange trees fluttering their leaves and flying.
“Is it starting?”
The giant strange trees began to move in earnest.
The flying trees extended their branches and started attacking the airships.
With tens of thousands of them, the number of branches flying towards them was over a hundred million.
“Load the mana cannon!”
“Load the regular cannons too! Blow away the evil spirit beasts that get too close!”
The airships began to counter the strange trees’ attacks.
They cleared a path with powerful fortress cannons and blew away the evil spirit beasts with regular cannons mounted on their sides.
During this, the Drake Knights were also busily moving.
“Drake Knights, block the branches!”
“Stay sharp! The moment you let your guard down, you’re dead!”
Senior Drake Knights shouted at the junior knights.
The branches flew in like whips, aiming for any gap, and a moment of carelessness could lead to being pierced through and killed.
Therefore, even knights had to stay tense and elevate all their senses to respond.
“Information from the Southern Army! They report that the enemies are moving towards where the Mobile Field Army is!”
“Information from the Eastern Army! The strange trees along the river are slowly moving towards the Mobile Field Army!”
“Information from the Central Army! The contaminated forest’s territory is overall shrinking! It’s speculated that everything is moving towards where the phantom is!”
Iron stared ahead with a serious expression as information flew in from all directions.
It seemed the phantom that dominated the Great Forest had finished assessing which threatening force was the most dangerous.
Realizing that the real threat was the Mobile Field Army, it seemed to be gathering its forces towards them, considering the rest as mere distractions.
“A total war?”
Iron murmured as he looked towards the phantom in the distance.
Was it because he was an Apostle of God?
He felt the phantom’s energy more sensitively than anyone else.
At the giant phantom’s roots, a gate leading to hell was opening.
A Void Gate emitting contaminated mana was dangerous, but opening a door to hell was worse.
Demons ascending from hell were indeed troublesome beings.
Strong ones were a problem, but the cunning ones were the real issue.
If the Great Forest were to be dominated by demons?
The southern region would likely remain a significant headache for the Empire.
Before that happened, the phantom had to be completely eradicated.
However, the phantom thought the same about Iron.
The biggest obstacle to opening the hell gate was Iron himself.
With his powerful divine power that eradicated evil spirits and corrupted energies in real-time, and his personal might was formidable.
Moreover, having powerful divine beasts with him, he did not just let the purified spirits be annihilated but also recovered them, turning them into enemies.
From the phantom’s perspective, Iron was as good as a dead man.
‘If only that bastard were gone!’
The phantom thinking this.
‘If only that thing were eradicated!’
And Iron having the same thought, glared in each other’s direction.
The Empire’s goal was simple.
To prioritize eliminating the phantom attempting to summon hell to the continent.
The purification of the Great Forest was secondary.
Therefore, leading with the Mobile Field Army, the Imperial Army was advancing along the fastest route to reach the phantom.
“The Southern Army has announced it will support us with knights and a magic unit. The Southern Magic Tower is also coming directly to the Mobile Field Army aboard airships,” reported the communications officer.
Iron nodded slightly in response.
“The Central Army will also support the Mobile Field Army with knights. Moreover, the Central Army’s commander will lead them personally.”
“Ensure they arrive without inconvenience. Accommodate them as much as possible.”
At Iron’s command, Karl urgently contacted Cardo.
“The Eastern Army will time their arrival near the phantom by sailing up the river.”
“Isn’t that dangerous?”
“Many of the strange trees have left their positions, creating an opportunity”
“Still, it’s risky… They’ve made a significant decision.”
No matter how large the river was, it was not the sea.
The decision to risk traveling up the river, past where the strange trees were located to where the phantom resided, indicated that the Eastern Commander also knew time was of the essence.
All commanders were brainstorming how to support the Mobile Field Army to the fullest.
They, too, as seasoned veterans, clearly understood the current situation, what was most important, and how to act.
The crux of this war was whether the Mobile Field Army could reach the phantom or not.
The battle there was another problem, but just reaching the phantom was almost their mission accomplished.
That’s how crucial it was to reach the phantom in time.
– The phantom accelerates its completion by absorbing evil spirits.
– Completion: 91%.
Iron clenched his teeth at the sudden notification.
The phantom, knowing what was most important, was willing to sacrifice its minions to complete itself.
As the percentage jumped up by 1% suddenly, the urgency was on the Imperial Army.
– The phantom accelerates its completion time by reclaiming the power spread throughout the Great Forest.
– Completion: 92%.
As another 1% increase made Iron more desperate.
Fortunately, the percentage did not increase further, but dawdling might lead to the hell gate opening before they could even reach the phantom.
“I’ll move on my own. Support me!”
With that command, Iron immediately mounted a divine beast and flew into the air before his subordinates could protest, blazing a trail with the phoenix’s flames, incinerating the attacking strange trees.
“Clear a path for the commander!”
“What are the Drake Knights doing? Support the commander!”
The Drake Knights and commanders responsible for the airships screamed as they followed the commander who had flown ahead.
While everyone was straining to clear a path for the commander, Cardo, aboard the flagship of the 22nd Legion, calmly assessed the situation.
Then, he urgently contacted Saeriden and Ariel.
“Can you bring the Central Army’s commander, the Southern Commander, and Master Muradin here right away?”
– You’re asking me to leave the frontline now?
Saeriden frowned at Cardo’s request.
Frowning at Cardo’s words, Saeriden tilted his head in confusion.
“Ariel, you take only the core forces of the three legions and follow the commander.
Hearing his words, Ariel and Saeriden fell silent.
“As you know, this is a battle against time. Sending the commander to the phantom. That’s our role in this war,” Cardo explained.
At Cardo’s words, the two legion commanders nodded.
“From what I see, the main role of our Mobile Field Army is to break through the defense line formed by those strange trees. The rest is up to the masters and the core forces of each army.”
Cardo said this while looking at the two commanders.
“Ariel, you assist the commander with the core forces of your direct command. Saeriden, you focus on clearing a path for the commanders and the main forces of each army.”
Ariel asked, to which Cardo firmly replied.
“I’ll stay here to clear a path for you.”
After Cardo’s statement, the two commanders were silent for a while before nodding.
Reaching the phantom.
Assisting their commander up close.
These were tempting tasks for everyone.
Yet, Cardo chose to stay behind, sacrificing all that.
Ariel and Saeriden decided to respect his decision.
-I’ll leave the command of the remaining forces to you.
After saying this, they ended the communication.
Then, Cardo opened a communication to the entire Mobile Field Army.
“From now on, I command the skies! Our only task is one thing! To clear a path so that the commander can safely reach the phantom!”
With those words, Cardo’s eyes shone brightly.
“So, everyone, put your lives on the line for this operation.”