Chapter 15 – Our Freedom
"Damned Siegfried!" Alexander roared in anger. "Damn! Now we won't receive the new equipment!"
"But, my Lord, your army can win even with the old equipment." Morgan tried to calm his master.
"Shut up Morgan! If you had obeyed me and watched over Galantine, that old man would still be alive!" Alexander shouted after slapping his servant.
"Alex, what do you want now?" Fouquet said with a little trepidation.
"Prepare all the troops, we will use the portal underneath the palace and attack Germania from the inside out." The blond man said with anger in his eyes. "I will personally rip the head of Siegfried."
"But my Lord, how we will activate that immense portal? We don't have so much magic available." Morgan failed to understand the plans of the conqueror.
"Use the wands of the nobles we killed." Alex replied as he got Excalibur and put the sword to his waist. "Using these objects as a source of magic we will carry the entire army into Germania. And if that is not enough, use the Gae Bulg."
"Yes my Lord." Morgan said with a bow. "And if the Gae Bulg is not used, what should I do?"
"Stay with it during the battle." Alexander responded quickly. "Now stop wasting time and prepare the troops!"
Fouquet and Morgan bowed and quickly left the Throne Room. Each of them began to gather the Ghouls and prepare them for the battle that would soon be fought.
Alexander wore his armor, silver and without details, took a leather bag and tied it at the waist, controlled his anger and went to the gate that would lead him to Germania.
Within a few hours all 400,000 Ghouls were prepared for combat, gathered in front of a large ring beneath the Palace of Tristain. Morgan ordered that the wands begin to be destroyed to fill the portal of magic, and the large ring began to spin rapidly, emitting a strong blue glow. Alexander smiled, seeing his plan working, and entered the gate without looking back.
The Alliance Army was prepared for the attack. All the soldiers were gathered and waiting for orders. The Hundred Swords were ahead, eager to fight the ambitious conqueror who caused so much suffering.
"General Gramont!" a soldier of the Alliance called. "The portal has been activated, just as you predicted."
"It's time, Alexander is coming to battle." Guiche said aloud. "Commander Zweihander, The Alliance Army is yours to command!"
"Have you finally learned that I wasn't made to sit on a throne?" Sieg said smiling slightly.
"Sieg, don't let your anger control you like yesterday." Saito said placing his hand on the swordsman's shoulder. "Anger will take away the best of what you have, understand?"
"Got it." Sieg also put his hand on the man's shoulder. "I won't lose this chance because of my anger."
"What is this armor Siegfried?" Louise thought it odd to see the redhead wearing a silver and red armor instead of the black armor of the Berserker.
"It's the armor that the craftsmen of Herzen Schwartz made for me to wear today." Sieg replied passing his fingertips over the armor.
"Then we'll both wear something made by the craftsmen of your village today." Claire tried to lighten the tense mood. "We will do our best!"
"Siegfried, do not forget what you learned in Avalon, use all the techniques you can and save the Infinite Soul Blades only for the most dangerous of situations." Vivian gave her final instructions to the boy. "Remember, the real power comes not from your runes, nor your Thaumaturgical Circuit ..."
"It comes from my heart. I know." Sieg completed the phrase of the Lady of the Lake.
"I took the liberty to gather the army. The soldiers are gathered on the Plain of Salvation, you will be able to fight there without restriction." Cassandra appeared behind Louise. "I think they are eager to see Commander Zweihander."
"I'm also eager to see them." Sieg called Alexia, mounted his horse, helped Claire to rise and stood in front of the soldiers.
The young commander looked at all the faces that would soon be fighting, took a deep breath and decided to speak a few words to inspire them, just like his master did to him. Sieg felt a slight breeze in his neck that reminded him of Musashi's hand, praising him when he did something correctly. At that time Sieg realized that Musashi was with him.
"Can you see that army that is appearing on the horizon?" Sieg started talking.
The Hundred Swords shouted affirmatively, and the rest of the army mimicked.
"They took your homes, your country, the lives of many people and still want to take more!" The swordsman began to cheer the soldiers. "But we are here to put an end to the conquests of Alexander Magnum and reclaim what he took by force!"
Another section of shouts began.
"He thinks he'll face Siegfried Zweihander, Prince of Germania, and an army of people from countries who hate each other, but I'll tell you who he will really face!" Sieg roared fiercely. "He will face Siegfried Zweihander, First Sword of Herzen Schwartz, and an army of people from countries that hated each other, but left their differences aside and teamed up to defeat the man who wishes to subjugate all! Alexander may have taken your homes, but he can't take your strength, the will to fight within each of you, and most importantly, he can't take our freedom!"
The Alliance Army roared like if they had already won the battle. Ghouls could be up to ten times stronger than an ordinary man, but a common man has a heart, and when the heart goes into battle, numbers lose their usefulness.
"I haven't gone through a brutal training for a month in Avalon to lead the Alliance Army! I'm here to lead an army of free men, with a desire to protect their families and everything that is important!" The runes on Siegfried's shoulder began to shine like on the day he disappeared, facing the 30.000 Ghouls in Gallia. "I will pave the way for you! Shield your brother, and your brother will shield you! Today we will crush the army of Alexander once and for all!"
Alexia reared and whinnied with force, before racing toward the enemy army. Sieg held the reins with his left hand and with his right hand Arondight, while Claire pulled out her wand and began to concentrate.
The whole army followed Siegfried, being led by the Hundred Swords, roaring to show all opponents that they were ready to die in that fight, and it didn't matter if they would live or die, Alexander would be overthrown.
"Reality Breaker!" The young wizard lifted her wand and shouted, making stakes of ice to rise from the floor and hit some Ghouls of the frontline.
"Arondight!" Sieg launched a wave of red energy and finished more Ghouls that stood ahead.
Several nobles were aboard the Oastland, that had been chosen as the base of operations of the Alliance, planning every step the soldiers would do during the fight. Louise and Vivian had been entrusted with the security of the ship along with Saito and other mages, but the Lady of the Lake couldn't help but watch the battle carefully.
"Siegfried already started fighting?" The fairy said to herself. "Then I'd better hurry."
"Hurry to what?" Louise didn't understand what Vivian meant.
"While training in Avalon, Sieg became stronger than I thought, and I had to seal a portion of his strength. I'll break this seal and unleash the true power of my knight." Vivian said, joining her hands as if in prayer. "He'll be able to use everything that I taught during that month."
Some of the nobles heard the conversation and were stunned. If the redhead had become strong to the point of having to be sealed, if Germania had decided to attack the other countries, Halkeginia would be conquered in a matter of days.
"Eighty-eight stars, become the Constellation of the Knight. Heaven of Great Kings illuminate our path. Salamander which governs the fire, Undine which governs the water, Eagle which governs the wind and Mammoth which governs the earth, become one. Unwavering Union, seal of the Gold Dragon, release." Vivian finished her spell and the mages could feel a huge amount of magic emanating from the stars and be absorbed by the body of Siegfried.
"Where'd you get so much magic?" Guiche was mesmerized.
"Tree of Life, that your fruits be strong. Sacred River, bathe the earth and restore our hope. Radiant Breath, illuminate the darkest heart and destroy the deepest doubt. May the stars grant this request. Heart of Avalon, beat in the chest of the one who has the love of the Knight! "Vivian finished another enchantment, and other mass of magic was emanated from heaven, but this time it was absorbed by Claire.
Vivian felt her legs give out and almost fell, but Saito managed to hold the Lady of the Lake. Nobody knew what had happened, and the faces of confusion of the noble would have done Vivian laugh, if she were not so exhausted.
"What did you do?" Karin asked amazed at the ridiculous amount of magic liberated by the incantations.
"I broke the seal that kept the strength of Siegfried away..." the fairy paused to catch her breath.
"Liar." Tabitha said serenely. "Even someone with the blood of the Ancient Gods can't become so strong in just one month."
"That's true, but time is different in Avalon." Vivian pierced the Queen of Gallia with her eyes. "In that place people do not tire, age, nor do they need to sleep, eat or drink water, and while a month passed in this world, in Avalon it's been ten years."
"That means..." Nero was mesmerized.
"That means, Prince Nero, that Siegfried trained the art of war for ten years, without resting for even a second..." Vivian smiled slightly, still feeling the effects of the spells she had used. "And to complete, I gave Claire the magic of Avalon..."
"What do you mean?" Louise was stunned. "You put the magic of a place in my daughter?"
"Not so simple... Avalon is not just a place..." Vivian was having trouble speaking. "I gave Claire a nearly endless source of magical power... The Heart of Avalon... The Heart of the Great Kings Land..."
Siegfried felt his strength returning to his body and smiled, looking at the last line of the enemy army, where Alexander was.
"Claire, you will be alone for a while." Sieg jumped off Alexia and made the mare run in the opposite direction.
"Sieg! I wanna be with you! "Claire shouted to the familiar.
"It'll be okay, just do your part." Sieg replied gently, and then turned to face his opponents.
The redhead moved Arondight abruptly, causing a gale to smash the Ghouls that surrounded him. Sieg held his sword above his head, and shouting its name, cut the air with force, opening a corridor between the enemy army with a wave of red energy much larger than usual.
Alexander saw the burst of red energy and soon associated it with Siegfried, leaving the blond pretty annoyed.
"Morgan, continue resurrecting the Ghouls!" Alexander shouted.
"Yes, my Lord." The thin man said, while concentrating its magic in a purple glass globe.
"Fouquet, I want you to capture the Void Mage, I need her alive!" Alexander said looking directly at his partner.
"What about Siegfried?" The green-haired woman asked.
"I'll kill him myself." Alexander drew Excalibur and rushed to the battlefield.
Sieg was in the middle of the enemy army, paving the way to his real opponent. Even being nice and friendly, Sieg felt at home in the middle of a battle, like a flower in fertile soil, growing stronger with each battle. The redhead battled with the ferocity of a true dragon, faster and stronger than ever. The ears of the swordsman realized something quickly approaching, and Sieg acted on instinct when he heard a shout behind him.
"Excalibur!" a wave of purple energy was launched toward the redhead.
"Arondight!" Sieg countered the attack with his own energy wave at the same time, kicking up dust.
Several soldiers of the Alliance and Ghouls were thrown by the resulting explosion. Sieg moved Arondight , dispersing the dust that hindered his vision. Alexander and Siegfried were facing each other with a space of ten meters separating them. Sieg's eyes were shining with a lively red, and Alexander's had a purple glowing color that the redhead hadn't seen in their previous fights.
"In the other times we fought I held myself because I wanted your body intact for my army." Alexander growled. "But this time I'll crush you with all I have, you useless brat."
"At the end of this fight, you will be the crushed one." Sieg countered. "Bring it on!"
The two shouted to intimidate each other and ran to a violent exchange of blows of the swords. The sound of metal clashing against metal seemed to echo louder than any other sound in that battle, while red and purple lightnings were scattered around the place with every clash of the legendary weapons.
No matter what was written in the book of fate, both Siegfried and Alexander were determined about one thing, that would be the last fight between the two. At the end of that battle, only one would be standing, over the body of the other.
"Reality Breaker!" Claire used her magic to burn the Ghouls who were in front of her, but left her back without any protection.
Seeing the opening, one of the enemies approached the girl from behind and prepared to pierce her with a dagger, but a spear passed through his chest.
"If you leave your back unprotected you will end up dead!" Setsuna yelled to the magician.
"I won't do this anymore!" Claire said at the same time.
"Sieg and I fight this way!" Setsuna leaned her back to Claire. "One will protect the back of the other! Shield your brother and your brother will shield you!"
"Got it!" Claire turned her attention to forward, knowing she was being protecting by Setsuna.
"I'm counting on you!" The brunette with green eyes shouted as soon as another group of Ghouls started attacking.
"Me too!" Claire said after she got rid of some Ghouls with a strong wind magic.
"Claire, answer me now, can you recognize the Gae Bulg?" Setsuna asked a seemingly meaningless question, after disarming and piercing the heart of a Ghoul.
"It's obvious." Claire conjured a dome of ice to protect her and her friend, taking time for both to catch their breath. "Why do you want to know?"
"I want that spear." Setsuna replied. "Siegfried has the sword Arondight, Jack has the bow Artemis, and I want to have the Gae Bulg spear."
"Artemis? What that bow of Jack haves of special?" Claire was confused.
"You will see soon." The brunette replied with a smile. "I rested enough, explode the dome and let me know if you see Gae Bulg!"
"Ok! Let's go to the second round!" The pink-haired girl replied.
Claire made the ice dome crack, and the shards flew against the Ghouls who were nearby.
"Girl, that was beautiful!" Setsuna said without thinking twice.
"Setsuna! Pay attention! "Owen shouted after throwing a Ghoul away. "He was aiming an arrow at your neck!"
"Sorry!" the brunette was startled by the harsh tone of the lancer. "And where did you get that horse?"
"It is the horse of my aunt!" Claire was surprised.
"Leave this idiocy aside and fight! There's a war going on!" Owen lowered the visor of his helmet and went galloping.
"You're just trying to evade the issue!" Setsuna shouted after piercing an opponent's head.
Claire became amazed to see that even during a fierce battle like that, the members of the Hundred Swords were able to keep close, protecting each other. A Ghoul left a spear fall near the feet of Setsuna, and the brunette kicked the weapon upward, catching it with her left hand.
"Secret Technique of Herzen Schwartz!" Setsuna pulled her legs away from each other and leaned her body forward. "Twin Snakes!"
The brunette took off and began to pass between the enemies, piercing them exactly at the aortic artery at an unbelievable speed. In five seconds fifteen Ghouls were on the ground.
"Come the third round!" Setsuna said snobbish, as she spun her spears between his fingers.
"So fast!" Claire couldn't believe what she had seen.
"When you see the Secret Technique of Siegfried then we will talk about speed." The brunette sighed. "Here comes more of them."
"There's something very wrong going on." Karin closed her brow. "They are killing the Ghouls, but the army does not seem to be decreasing, and our soldiers are dying. "
"From what we have seen with our Vision Magic, the Ghouls that are killed rise up after a few seconds and return to the fight." Henrietta said with regret.
"I see..." Vivian poured a little water on the floor and made an ice mirror. "This man, Morgan, is using his magical powers to resurrect the Ghouls that are defeated."
"We need to find this bastard and finish him!" The Duke of Tristain was the first to react. "Command the soldiers to seek and kill Morgan!"
"I have a better idea, if you'll allow me to speak." Vivian interrupted the duke. "Siegfried told me about the ability of one of his companions, Jack, if I'm not mistaken."
"He's perfect for that job." Suguru, who had been locked in Oastland by the Hundred Swords to not participate in the fight, agreed to the Lady of the Lake. "Do something so that I can communicate with him."
"We will establish telepathic contact!" One of the magicians aboard replied.
"What's special about this kid?" Louise was curious.
"His bow, Artemis, can shoot arrows at anything that Jack visualizes in his mind, in other words, even if the target is on the other side of the world, Jack will hit it if he can imagine what he wants to hit." Vivian gave the same explanation that Sieg had given to her.
"Jack, listen to me carefully, I'm talking to you through telepathy." Suguru began to speak. "I'm going to describe a man for you, and I want you to imagine him."
"Yes ma'am." Jack said after walking away from the battlefield.
"He is very thin, pale, has oily gray hair at shoulder length, his eyes are brown and dead, with large dark circles beneath them. He is wearing clothes similar to that of a monk, but black in color, is barefoot, his fingers and toes are long and seem to be made just of skin and bone. In his hand he is holding a glass purple globe, with something like a black mist inside." Suguru finished her description.
"I've imagined. Should I shoot? "Jack asked permission.
"Aim at the globe and shoot."
"Yes ma'am!" Jack focused his mind and claimed the name of his bow and shot.
The arrow traveled fast over the two armies that clashed and fell mercilessly, hitting the glass globe in the middle, shattering the object. Morgan dropped to his knees and desperately tried to join the purple fragments scattered on the ground, but realizing that it was useless, shouted angrily at the heavens. The thin man took the Gae Bulg and ran to the battlefield.
"Stupid old woman! Why didn't you order him to shoot the man himself!" Eleónore yelled.
"To instill despair." Guiche guessed the riddle. "If a soldier falls into despair, the army suffers a major injury, and Morgan is an emotionally unstable man, I'm sure he will do something really bad to his army."
"How do you know that?" Saito frowned.
"Because it was me who arrested him eight years ago." The General replied without losing focus. "Now we will change the course of this war!"
"Notify Setsuna about the location of the man with Gae Bulg!" Suguru ordered for the magician who had used magic of telepathy.
Setsuna and Claire continued facing the Ghouls side by side, one protecting the rear of the other, in almost perfect synchrony. The green-eyed brunette was amazed to see the mage casting so many powerful spells without getting tired and without stopping for breath.
"Got it!" Setsuna said out of nowhere. "Claire, I have to go right now!"
"Go, I can handle myself!" Claire replied. "Be careful."
"The same to you." The brunette said before rushing toward Morgan.
Claire felt something strange, and just instinctively raised an earth shield in front of her, which protected the girl form the large boulders that were launched against her.
"You will come with me little girl!" Fouquet ordered. "I failed Alexander when I couldn't steal Arondight, but I will never fail again!"
"I'm not going anywhere! Reality Breaker!" Claire pointed her wand at Fouquet and launched a massive fireball.
"Your biggest mistake was to think that you could face me as an equal." Fouquet blocked the spell and prepared to capture the Vallière.
"Bring it on!" Claire repeated the striking phrase of Siegfried.
"Getting so much time with that brat must have affected your brain" the magician of the earth conjured an earth spear and threw it on the girl. "Earth Spear!"
"Explosion!" Claire destroyed the enemy spear with the spell of her mother. "I saw my mother use this so many times that I can copy without any problems."
"Earth Golem!" Fouquet raised her wand and called her servant, who appeared right below her feet.
Claire once again used the spell 'Explosion' to try to knockdown the monster, however, another explosion hit the Golem, and as the girl looked up, she saw her father and mother coming down from Oastland through a levitation spell.
"Fouquet! Lay a finger on my daughter and I swear I'll kill you!" Louise left her protective maternal side manifest. "Saito, let's take this thing down now!"
"Leave it to me!" Saito began to strike the Golem while his wife and daughter helped him.
The violent collisions between Excalibur and Arondight continued without stopping. Around the two combatants were several bodies of Ghouls and Alliance soldiers who had dared to approach that fight. Neither Alexander nor Siegfried showed signs of tiredness for they wanted nothing but to defeat the other, until the redhead heard several explosions and saw a large Earth Golem in the middle of the battlefield.
"Claire!" Sieg tried to leave the fight to help his beloved.
"I'm your opponent!" Alexander attacked downwards with really much violence. "You've hindered me enough! I won't let you interfere in my plans ever again!"
Sieg deflected the blow and attacked with equal violence. Alexander defended himself and the two swordsmen were pushing their swords against one another.
"If you try something with Claire, I swear that not even death will stop me from killing you!" Sieg pushed Alexander back and jumped to take more distance.
The two continued exchanging violent blows while Louise, Saito and Claire fought Fouquet and her Golem. In less than an hour, what was once a beautiful and peaceful plain turned into a place bathed in blood…