Chapter 430.1: Castling (1)
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Holy light intermixed with bloodied rain in the sky, and the pungent smell of magma filled the air. It looked as if someone had brought hell to earth. 

Both sides were fighting for their desired futures, and there was no compromise in between. That was why this was going to be a fight to the death.

The inquisitors and the heretics were fighting to bring Roel and Nora back. They knew how important the Xeclydes were to the stability of the world. In the wake of Tark Stronghold’s disappearance, it was imperative for humans to unite together to survive this ordeal. 

On the other hand, the evil cultists sought to drag the world into chaos. That was the environment they thrived in. Without the church to hunt them down, they would be able to do as they pleased without having to worry about the repercussions. 

But while both armies were slaughtering each other in cold blood, their leaders were standing still, not moving in the least. 

There was a saying in Roel’s previous world that went ‘King against king, general against general’, but the truth was that such logic was limited to just the chessboard. 

As the commander of their respective armies, neither Roel nor Bryan’s safety was their private affair anymore. Whatever happened to them would have a rippling effect on their army’s morale. If there was a clear gap in the two commanders’ strength, it was extremely likely that a battle wouldn’t occur at all. 

Of course, it would be best if they could take down the enemy commander, but it was much more important to maintain the morale of their army. 

It wouldn’t be surprising if Roel chose to avoid a confrontation with Bryan, considering his condition and the gap in their Origin Levels. That was also why the chief of the Inquisitor Hall, Hanks, chose to position himself beside Roel as soon as the fight started. He was ready to face Bryan should the latter approach them. 

But to his surprise, Roel chose to step forward instead of backing down.

“Count Hanks, leave him to me,” said Roel calmly.

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Hanks looked at him with a disapproving frown. He thought that it was an unwise decision, be it in terms of strength, identity, or responsibilities. He couldn’t accept Roel’s suggestion.

“The mission I’ve been entrusted with is to ensure your safety, and it’s my responsibility as the chief of the Inquisitor Hall to eradicate evil cultists. You… cannot die here,” Hanks spoke with a deep and certain voice. 

Roel was the successor to the Ascart House, one of the Five Eminent Noble Houses. The consequences of his death was unlikely to be as far-reaching as Nora’s, but it would still raise huge waves in the Theocracy’s political scene, especially considering the prestige he had amassed as a champion of the Challenger Cup. 

Aware of Hanks’ skepticism, Roel explained his stance.

“This isn’t just a fight to determine the Theocracy’s future; it’s also an extension of the March Turmoil two centuries ago. The fates of the Ascarts and the Elrics have been intertwined since then. It’s time to draw a conclusion, and I’m the only one who can do so.” 

“What we need now is to win this battle, not settle your centuries old grudge,” Hanks pointed out. 

“That’s why I have to step in. It takes a god to defeat a god.”

With his golden eyes staring intensely at Bryan, it was almost as if Roel was seeing something others couldn’t. 

It was then that grayish bits that resembled smoke or small clumps of dust started drifting from Bryan’s body. A blurred shadow started extending behind Bryan. Wails could be heard from the distant dimming sky. 

This gray miasma shrouded Bryan’s body, striking inexplicable fear in nearby hearts. The crowd instinctively halted their battle and hurriedly backed away from him, be it heretics, inquisitors, or evil cultists. Even so, the heavy pressure that crushed on the surroundings made it hard to breathe… 

… till a burst of crimson light suddenly appeared. 

It happened as the evening sun descended beneath the horizon, appearing as if the crimson light was taking over the its place. It carried an air of authority that calmed unnerved hearts, almost like a powerful hand allaying their fears. 

A massive silhouette stood in the middle of the crimson light—Roel Ascart. 

His golden eyes shone brighter than ever as he exchanged gazes with the golden-haired man standing on the other side of the battlefield. Despite their placid expressions, overwhelming killing intent quietly seethed in their eyes, making their intent no secret.

The crimson light continued to expand outward, alleviating the pressure from the gray miasma. The crowd breathed a sigh of relief and halted their retreat. The evil cultists brandished their weapons and let out a war cry to boost their morale whereas the inquisitors swiftly regained control of their mana and prepared to launch a new wave of attack. 

By this point, the night sky had been clearly divided into two sections, one gray and one crimson. 

As Hanks watched the two forces clashing against each other, his face slowly turned grave. Those forces were beyond what an Origin Level 2 transcendent like him could get involved with. Without a doubt, the power Bryan Elric was displaying must have originated from a god. 

And just like what Roel had said, it takes a god to defeat a god. It was a battle no one else could interfere in. 

Upon coming to that realization, the heretics and inquisitors had no choice but to keep their distance away from Roel and Bryan. Hanks glanced at Roel hesitantly before charging into a group of evil cultists himself. He was intending to quickly eliminate all of the evil cultists before coming back to help Roel. 

Just like that, an awkward clearing was created in the middle of the tense battlefield. It was a stage reserved solely for Roel and Bryan, and the two stars soon made their moves. 

The gray miasma grew at a frightening rate, soon filling up the sky. It emanated an aura of death so overwhelming that even the evil cultists were horrified. A wounded evil cultist lying not too far away from Bryan on the ground rolled away in fright, but the gray miasma enveloped him before he could do so. 

A shocking sight occurred.

Amidst a cry of agony, the evil cultist’s body started to melt. Mere seconds was all it took for his body to dissipate in a whiff of smoke. 

This was a sight that horrified even the veteran inquisitors, but Roel didn’t back down due to it. 

A humanous silhouette began manifesting behind Roel amidst flashes of crimson lightning. White bones formed amidst a layer of mist, from the ribcage and neck to finally the head. The moment Grandar fully descended upon the world, he released an imposing air that left all of the enemies trembling in fear. 

It was impossible not to feel small and insignificant gazing upon the massive skeleton giant. Even just gazing upon it for a while induced sharp pain in one’s eyes. No words were needed to know that they were standing before a higher existence. 

Following the outburst of might, the gray miasma and the crimson aura clashed against each other amidst loud sizzles, as if countless ghosts were attempting to breach a wall of flames. At the same time, Roel and Bryan also began advancing on each other. 

By this point, they had realized that the only way for them to effectively end the war was to defeat each other. 

Looking at Roel, Bryan thought about the instructions he had received and narrowed his eyes. 

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