How to Survive at the Academy - C.154

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Crebin Subjugation Battle (5)

―Kwaaaaaang!

The explosive sound streaked across the sky, illuminating the heavens above the Duchy of Rothtaylor.

The light from the explosion magic deployed by Lucy covered the surroundings, and the shadows of the colossal tentacles stretched long over the land.

The residents of the vast Rothtaylor territory saw the spectacle without exception, the night sky adorned with the spectacle.

Princess Phoenia, escorted by a dozen special unit members, was likewise hastening towards the Rothtaylor estate.

“Oh my…”

Princess Phoenia momentarily halted her horse to look up at the sky.

She had successfully entered the Rothtaylor territory after nightfall, despite the distance yet to cover. Even though the imperial capital, Chloeron, bordered the duchy, completing the journey in half a day was, indeed, challenging considering their vast expanse.

She was determined to arrive before dawn, yet it was these fireworks in the sky that caught her attention. That direction was exactly where she was heading – towards the very estate.

“It seems… a high-level spell has been cast.”

Among elemental magic, those considered high-level were exceedingly rare in the empire, with almost no one able to wield such power to an identifiable extent.

However, the deployment of magic of this magnitude from the estate was strange, especially considering that it was happening neither at the northeastern mage tower nor within the bustling imperial capital of Chloeron.

“Princess Phoenia.”

Her closest aide, the knight Cler, spoke softly from behind.

“I believe we should turn back now. Something… is amiss.”

“……”

“The royal court must already be in disarray over our departure without any notice. To stand by and let the princess enter a dangerous area would be negligence on the part of a royal guard.”

Out of loyalty to Princess Phoenia, Cler had come this far into the night. Even at the risk of disciplinary action, his loyalty was such that he would adhere to her wishes.

Yet, crossing this line was undoubtedly too much. If Princess Phoenia were to be harmed due to leaving her in danger, punishment could extend far beyond mere discipline.

“I understand your position, Cler.”

Yet, Princess Phoenia did not turn her horse.

The image of the man sitting solemnly in the princess’s audience chamber the day before she left the academy arose in her mind.

Should that man die here, Phoenia felt she would regret it for the rest of her life.

“I must go. Even if there’s nothing I can do upon arrival, I must see it with my own eyes.”

* * *

The Rothtaylor annex, like the other buildings, was already half-destroyed.

Half of the servants who managed the annex had fled in terror, while the others had fallen to Crebin’s evil and came under the domination of Mephisto.

The servants, some parts of their bodies gruesomely transformed, stepped aside. Crebin waded through them towards the top floor of the annex.

In the central mansion, a grand feast was prepared for esteemed guests, all of whom Mephisto was salivating over. Once sacrificed, the power to wield Mephisto’s full might would fall into Crebin’s grasp.

But the price would be turning the world into an enemy.

The once elegant and luxurious Rothtaylor annex was now covered in the flesh of Mephisto, becoming grotesque. Tentacles sprouting in places and clumps of ominous, twitching flesh seemed to be merging the building with Mephisto’s body.

Once on the third floor, you are greeted by a large hall.

Now with one wall partially demolished letting the cold wind howl through, this was the third-largest hall in the mansion, the ‘Rothtaylor Hall’.

Crebin absorbed the sight of the large hall with his eyes, then continued up to the roof. There, magic formulas interacting with the sky’s array had already been inscribed in abundance.

It felt as though the vast sky could be embraced from the rooftop of the Rothtaylor annex, where Crebin raised his left hand’s sigil toward the heavens.

As his immense magical power began to manifest, the sky’s array gradually started to activate.

Crebin then sat on the remaining ruin of the balustrade.

The wind of the sky swept through his heavy golden locks.

Watching the functioning array, Crebin bowed his head and waited with his eyes ominously narrowed.

Below, the sight covering the Rothtaylor estate grounds was hellish. Countless casualties could result.

However, Mephisto does not care about the lives of the sacrifices.

― ‘If you have resolved to be evil,’

― ‘Never look back, not even for a moment.’

― ‘The moment you stop is the day you are finished.’

A chilling sensation suddenly raced up his back.

Standing at the peak of the Rothtaylor family without ever faltering, his conviction rose once more.

― ‘Don’t strive to meet expectations, do not dwell on what is lost, and don’t let nihilism consume you.’

― ‘Only by remaining steadfast can you survive until the end and reign over the world.’

The whispering voice echoed in his mind, flowing through his thoughts.

* * *

―Kwaang! Bang!

―Whaaaaack!

Clarice’s holy arts pushed back the tentacles, and Sinir’s magic began to subdue the soldiers.

Yet the overwhelming tide of soldiers and throngs of tentacles surging into the banquet hall seemed endless.

“We’re finished! We’re all going to die!”

“Damn it! If it was going to be like this, I should never have come to the banquet! What’s the point of this silly social event!”

“Crebin Rothtaylor! He’s the one behind this! He’s going to offer us as sacrifices to that monster!”

Even amidst the chaos, Sinir continued to bolster everyone’s spirits.

“Maintain your composure! Once outside the territory, we will find safety! We must survive and escape to accurately report Crebin’s wicked acts to the royal family!”

“Yes! We cannot die like this!”

“Those Rothtaylor fools… After tasting power for too long, they’ve finally gone mad…!”

Clarice maintained her sanity at the center of the increasingly maddened banquet hall, assessing the situation.

For now, the priority was to lead as many guests as possible out of the mansion.

However, it was clear there were no obvious solutions immediately upon their exit.

The Church Knights were likely attempting to secure Clarice’s safety by entering the mansion, but the lack of a visible response suggested they were facing difficulties.

The risen tentacles and the dominated servants were powerfully formidable, particularly the servants who seemed more monster than human.

As the unfocused-eyed bear knight Nox roared, dragging his massive frame and swinging his large mace, Sinir quickly cast a defensive spell to repel him.

In the meantime, the ineffectual nobles, bereft of combat ability, did nothing but scream at the top of their lungs.

“When you think about it, those Rothtaylor fellows aren’t even at the banquet hall! They must be all in this together… this whole mess!”

Seizing the moment, they even harbored thoughts of overturning the power structures in their desperation.

Clarice, watching, felt disgust but then her thoughts raced in another direction.

Ed and Tanya. Neither of them were present.

Tanya said she had gone to check the conditions of the servants, while Ed had disappeared for unknown reasons after dancing with Clarice.

Clarice didn’t believe that those two were involved in such an absurd plan, but with the dangerous situation escalating, she wanted to secure their safety.

As she was about to suggest leading the mansion’s people out en masse…

―Whhaaaaaaack!

New magic power manifested from the sky.

The immense form of Mephisto appeared above the crumbling outer walls…

Far away, a small human exchanged magical powers with a formidable magician, rivaling even Mebuler in strength. As far as Clarice knew, there was only one magician who possessed such an outrageous power.

It was Lucy Mayrill who kept delaying Mebuler. It was a piece of fantastic news indeed, but that did not resolve the current situation at the banquet.

Instead, the situation had worsened.

A shrill scream echoed throughout the banquet hall as strange creatures descended from the sky. The demons, half the size of a regular person and flapping bat-like wings, wielded iron longswords in their hands.

“What is that…?!” someone exclaimed.

“It’s a gremlin…! That insane monster has started summoning even demons to his aid!” another voice cried out.

As a noble tried to flee, a slash from the small demon pierced his chest.

“No, ugh…”

The noble had a confused look, unaware of what had just transpired, but soon blood trickled from the corner of his mouth.

“Ah, cough…”

The first casualty.

Following his death, uncontrollable chaos spread through the banquet hall.

“Scream! Run for your life!”

Amid the sudden increase in enemy forces, Sinir Bloomriver clenched his teeth. Not only Clarice but also anyone with even minimal combat ability was losing their composure.

Most who tried to escape were subdued by the possessed soldiers or the tendrils.

Those who managed to keep their wits about them clung to combatants, trembling, but about half of those who tried to flee were killed.

Even those with minimal magical skills, including Sinir, were not weak.

They had the power to protect themselves and those around them, but it wasn’t enough to cover the whole hall and all the dignitaries.

Individual strength mattered, but in such a situation where pressures came from all directions, the sheer number of people was crucial.

To minimize casualties and escape the mansion… a significant number was necessary.

Not robust individuals, but organized legions were needed – soldiers who could form ranks and ensure the safety of their allies. It was an obvious requirement, but there were no means to mobilize such forces at this time.

Sinir gritted his teeth, gathering more magical power, but he was already convinced that saving more than half of them would be difficult.

Even if they were average people, it would be hard to avoid severe punishment for their deaths, but these were not ordinary individuals; they were all dignitaries of repute in the Empire.

Crebin had crossed the line too far. He obviously had no intention of backing down.

Sinir felt he too needed to prepare mentally for what was to come when, suddenly, another uproar broke out.

An ‘army’ burst through another wall.

It was not a human force. A whole array of spirits appeared, wielding magic against the gremlins and tendrils.

Their number was at least in the hundreds. Low-ranking and ethereal spirits combined were enough to match Crebin’s airborne gremlin forces.

“This is…!”

Beyond the broken wall, the eyes of a vast lizard were seen. Sinir shuddered, but the lizard was not an enemy.

A girl slid down the lizard’s nose and landed on the ground.

The one who recognized her face… was Saint Clarice.

“Yenika Senior?!”

“Clarice… Saint…!”

Spirits in the sky clashed with the gremlin forces, taking on various animal forms in a physical struggle. Still doubting what he was seeing, Sinir witnessed the scene unfold.

He had heard from his daughters, Trissiana and Patricia Bloomriver, that in Sylvania Academy’s third year, there was a legion that walked alone.

If Trissiana had been in the same year, she would never have won the position of top magician, they said with fear in their voices.

“Where is Ed Senior?!”

Taking advantage of Sinir’s confusion, Clarice quickly asked Yenika the key question.

“He went after Crebin Rothtaylor…! Towards the annex! We have to end this quickly and help him…!”

The banquet hall was beyond description, with blood splattered all over what walls remained.

But before a tentacle could strike, a middle-ranking dark spirit leaped from Yenika’s shadow to cut it off.

Surrounded by dozens, perhaps hundreds of spirits protecting her, Yenika was untouchable, drawing her empathy to the limit. Those who witnessed her power for the first time were forced to stick their tongues out in awe.

This was her stage, a large-scale battle.

Although she could not face a dueling master in one-on-one combat in a confined space, Yenika was able to bring her full potential to bear in an open setting where she faced off against the entire force.

“Get the dignitaries out and head towards the annex!”

“Understood!”

There wasn’t much exchange between Clarice and Yenika due to the urgent circumstances.

“But before that… there’s something I need from Ed’s room!”

“In a situation like this… What are you looking to pick up?!”

Yenika gathered her magical power and instantly manifested a tremendous spirit pattern. Dozens of gremlins burnt, and more spirits materialized in the sky. It was a magnificent sight.

“His staff! Ed’s staff is in his room!”

* * *

In the luxurious and coveted land adjacent to the Imperial City of Chloeron, monopolized by the serenity and warmth of the Rothtaylor estate, it served as a crossroad for all commerce.

Busy with hawkers on any given day, tonight, it was more tumultous than ever.

Rothtaylor mansion’s social gathering – reputed to be the most lavish of the year – was attended by the Empire’s most significant players.

Joining after the third day were equally notable guests currently en route.

From the western part of the domain, a carriage rushed from the trading city of Oldec.

From the northeast, the commander of the northern plains, Magnus, was arriving.

At the edge of the northwest, a great alchemist traveled in his carriage.

And from the east, even the Empire’s third princess, Phoenia, rode her horse – all converging on the Rothtaylor mansion, the heart of the Empire.

But within the grounds of the Rothtaylor estate, hell had descended. Thanks to Ed’s party, Mebuler’s arrival was advanced.

Above the mansion hovered Mebuler, an ancient evil god with hundreds of eyes glaring sickeningly. Before him stood a genius mage, blessed by the gods, who singlehandedly confronted the calamity.

While the gremlins, tendrils, and possessed soldier hordes clashed with the spirits’ forces inside the central mansion, Tanya Rothtaylor locked herself in her room, panic-stricken by the sudden disaster.

Princess Sella fled the party, escorted by her chief steward Dest across the central corridor.

The Bloomriver clan, led by the witch head, Sinir, worked to help the dignitaries escape.

Saint Clarice and Yenika rushed towards Ed’s room.

In the estate of Rothtaylor, everyone hurried through the night.

As a man walked through the mansion’s garden, amidst tendrils, magic, and gremlins’ blades all wielded by Mebuler’s mind-controlled servants, he wielded a dagger in reverse grip. The spirit pattern etched on it unleashed explosions, with giant bats spewing fire and watery lions tearing at the soldier’s throats.

Shockwaves from his conjured arcane devices subdued the surrounding foes, and bolts of magical energy swiftly ended their lives.

Pillars of fire and blades of wind eradicated the tendrils. The enemies, cut down by magical power, were instantly turned to ash.

As he cleared his surroundings, he conserved his magical energy, anticipating the imminent final battle.

Stained with blood and flesh, his formal attire turned into rags. Yet, without changing expression, he made his way to the annex entrance.

Inside the annex, monsters filled every corner. It did not look easy to ascend straight to the roof.

The time had come to end all of Rothtaylor’s bitter tales.

He moved forward. At last, it was time to head for Crebin’s neck.

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