I’m going to die.
As Priestley walked closer, Roel reflexively understood what was going to befall him. The severity of his injuries caused his sight to darken, but right before he crumbled to the floor, a hand suddenly reached out to support him.
It was a woman with blood seeping from the corner of her lips.
They were faced with a frighteningly formidable enemy, but Lilian didn’t back down despite being fully aware of the dangers. Instead, she stood upright and walked toward the source of the terrifying mana.
“Roel might not have reached Origin Level 3, but I have,” said Lilian.
She directed a strained smile at the immobile Roel before abruptly opening her hand toward the sky. Golden fragments seeped out from her palm and scattered on the surviving soldiers and mages.
Is that… broken fragments of the Crown?, Roel thought with his fading consciousness.
“Stop him,” ordered Lilian.
The scattering golden light raised the prowess of Lilian’s knights to Origin Level 3, and the mana of her mages also grew considerably stronger. Yet, Priestley remained unfazed before his buffed up enemies. It had been decades since he had gone all out, but he was still the dominator of the battlefield. It didn’t matter how many enemies stood before him.
“Struggling in futility; how meaningless.”
“It may appear meaningless to you, Magician King, but I’m the older sister of this child.”
Despite the immense pressure that left her feeling as if her blood flow had screeched to a halt, Lilian raised her trembling hands and gently touched Roel’s face. The powerful mana pulsation rippling from Priestley tugged at her black hair, and her amethyst eyes narrowed from pain.
But when she raised her head once more, all that could be seen was determination.
“What matters is that I see meaning in it.”
“… Useless sentiments. You’re only bringing death upon yourself,” replied the fallen Magician King impassively.
He raised his finger and sent a devastating flood of mana toward Lilian.
At that instant, Lilian found her entire sight covered by the destructive blast of mana coming her way. It was a spell that Priestley had casually cast, but its prowess far surpassed that of anything an Origin Level 2 transcendent could hope to release.
Faced with this frightening attack, Lilian immediately retreated with Roel in her arm, but it didn’t look like she could outrun the spell.
“Ten Fortresses!” murmured Lilian in this precarious moment.
Her amethyst eyes glowed brightly as her Origin Attribute began to tremble intensely. Three different fortresses rose from the ground at her summon, forming towering barriers between her and Priestley.
Priestley widened his eyes in surprise.
Ten Fortresses was a spell that could only be cast by the ones who had once ruled over the whole of humankind, the Ackermanns. It was said that there used to be ten impregnable fortresses that protected humans from external threats, serving as a symbol of hope during chaotic eras.
This was Lilian’s trump card, and it managed to block off the flood of mana pursuing her.
“… I never thought that you would be able to summon that. You’re a half-blood of the Ackermanns,” remarked Priestley in astonishment.
However, he soon shook his head.
“But even if it’s the legendary impregnable fortresses, the summons from an Origin Level 3 can’t stop me.”
Priestley raised his hand for a second time and released the same spell, just that it harnessed prowess far greater than the previous one.
The devastating flood of mana obliterated all of the soldiers charging in his direction, and the legendary fortresses also began collapsing one after another. Lilian anxiously retreated as fast as she could while tightly holding the nearly unconscious Roel in her embrace, her promise echoing loudly in her head.
I’ll protect you.
Her feelings morphed into unwavering determination. She grabbed two of her fingers with her other hand and snapped them without any hesitation.
With a loud cracking sound coming from her fractured bones, the three fortresses that had just been obliterated by Priestley suddenly emanated a blinding glow. The fourth fortress, Pardulo, and the fifth fortress, Corin, rose from the ground.
At the same time, seven blue-cloaked mages suddenly appeared by Lilian’s side. They sang a chorale in unison, releasing a dense mana pulsation outward.
Priestley’s face darkened.
“I see. You aren’t trying to stop me but to buy time for a Transference Spell?”
Priestley’s eyes glowed brightly as he spoke.
He thought that Roel was the only surprise he would encounter here, but Lilian’s performance was equally astounding as well.
Ten Fortresses was a spell that nullified all external spell damage, granting absolute defense to those standing behind the fortresses. It was a miracle that Lilian was able to summon up to the fifth fortress at Origin Level 3.
Her composure and decisiveness in the face of danger, as well as her talents, were all praiseworthy. Even amidst despair, she was able to find a sliver of hope.
“I never thought that there would be two outstanding possessors of the Ascart Bloodline in the same era,” remarked Priestley deeply.
He gathered his mana and released a cataclysmic bolt of lightning toward Lilian with overwhelming killing intent.
“For that reason, I can’t allow any of you to escape here!”
Both the sky and the earth cried before the might of Priestley’s lightning bolt. This was an attack that surpassed all common sense, and the sheer mana that was concentrated in it seemed to be too much for Leinster to bear.
Yet, the fourth and fifth fortresses still managed to stand their ground before the lightning bolt.
On one side of the fortress, the lightning bolt crackled ferociously as it tried to tear down the obstacle that dared stand in its way. On the other, Lilian kneeled down on the ground and settled Roel on her legs. She hid the fractured fingers on her right hand behind her back as she gently stroked his hair, seemingly trying to imprint his face in her mind.
The semi-conscious Roel muttered before abruptly spewing blood once more. In his blurred vision, he seemed to see despondence on Lilian’s face, but it changed into a gentle smile the next moment.
Thunderous crackling and blinding flashes of light persisted around them. The wretched situation they were in brought a lump to Lilian’s throat, but her heart felt strangely calm when she uttered lies to comfort her younger brother.
“You have to hold on. We’ll be able to get away very soon.”
“Cough cough. Senior… they are…?”
“They are spatial mages from the Ancient Austine Empire. It took me a great deal of effort in order to contract them. I kept them as my final resort, but I never thought that I’d find myself in such a desperate position.”
“I see… but the academy’s barrier…?”
“Have you forgotten? I’m the chief of the Enforcement Division,” said Lilian with a smile.
She gently stroked Roel’s face.
“So, you should go first. Wait for me on the other side.”
“Ah? No, I…”
“I can only transfer a person at a time with this long-distance teleport. You won’t be able to help me here with the injuries you have sustained.”
Lilian’s logical argument left no room for Roel’s rebuttal, but he couldn’t help but sense that something was amiss here.
At the same time, the fortress that was shielding them started to show signs of collapsing.
Without any hesitation, Lilian snapped another one of her fingers. The excruciating pain and rapid depletion of mana left her body trembling feebly, but her sacrifice successfully raised the sixth fortress, Kruyer, before them.
The chorale of the spatial mages was about to come to its end.
It was also then that Roel suddenly noticed a blind spot in the plan.