After a while, the inhabitants of the castle gathered together and assessed what we had learned so far.
Lady Kaguya, the current head of Sanshiro, had been captured by the Thunder Phoenix Clan, as well as her retainer, Sun Wen Lu. The strongest fighters of the clan had been sent to raid the castle, taking the inhabitants by surprise.
Zhao Lei Dao, the head of the clan, had cultivated his strength to match those of a seasoned Electi. Who knew what tricks he had in store? Not to mention that there were several families under him who possessed warriors of high caliber. They certainly had the strength to invade the castle.
However, with the presence of numerous Electi gathered, it would make even the strongest clan in the country hesitate to engage in such a blatant attack, so it appeared that they had specific countermeasures for a well-timed strike.
Marude Zura, the head of Zura family, was the master of the Flowing Water Fist style, which specialized in sweeping mana strokes that wrapped around an opponent’s body and drowned them in attacks. For Lau, who could parry nearly any attack that came at him, Zura had a natural advantage due to his rapidly shape-shifting blows. Lau could not parry against attacks that had a fluid and changing form. It was like trying to sweep away a tidal wave crashing against him. For that reason, his abilities had been rendered useless. It had taken everything for Lau to hold his ground against the waves of mana strikes that threatened to submerge him.
Though the Sun twins had been known to be Lady Kaguya’s impervious shields, several of the clan heads had witnessed the true nature of their defensive capabilities. Now that they could exploit each twin’s inherent weakness, they had managed to obtain a powerful magical tool from another country to trap Wen Zhi while they used their physical fighters to restrain Wen Lu. All it took was careful tracking of each twin’s movements so that they could strike the right one before they had the chance to confuse them with their synchronized switching.
The clan’s main goal was to capture Lady Kaguya and ‘cure’ her of the purple aura that dyed her core, which they believed created demonic behavior. To do that, they first had to kill both of her Electi to stop the flow, so it was in their best interest to kill both twins.
However, Zhao Lei Dao, the leader of the clan, had bigger goals. He wanted to rid the entire country of these so-called Electi, who he saw as potential seeds of destruction. For that reason, he decided to kidnap Lady Kaguya and Wen Lu to draw the rest of us out.
Furthermore, we looked around and couldn’t find Yi Long either. Likely, he had been led away as well because he was also the master of an Electi.
Luring all of us to the headquarters of the Thunder Phoenix Clan was in their best interest. They would have the home advantage. In addition to the 1000+ members of the entire clan, who knew what sort of traps they had prepared for us.
We looked around at the 100 or so guards that had suffered injuries around the courtyard. While most of them were quickly healed from the combined efforts of Katsys, Neiya, and Kanade, along with the recovery items in the castle stockroom, their morale was pretty low. Several calls requesting for manpower were made to the families loyal to Lady Kaguya, but that only added on another 200 warriors. How could they fight against the country’s largest clan when outnumbered more than 3-to-1?
However, they all knew that they had to do it. The clan would chase down Wen Zhi eventually, so if they could manage to free Wen Lu while they still had the chance, their combined might could make the gap in manpower closer. One experienced Electi could fight with the strength of a hundred men, in most cases.
Furthermore, they knew of the dastardly ritual that the Thunder Phoenix Clan would invoke to ‘save Lady Kaguya from the poisonous mana that infected her core.’ Their so-called ritual involved direct injection of mana into her body in order to flush out the tainted, purple one. However, this process was very inefficient as was seen with previous ‘test subjects,’ so it would require direct skin-to-skin contact with scores of people before the entirety of the purple mana would disappear.
Of course, the vast majority of the clan members were male. How could they resist the temptation of the bare skin of the beautiful girl sitting at the top of the country that many of them would only dream of caressing? No doubt that many of them would claim that this purification was justification for doing whatever they desired to her body, as long as her core was cleansed at the end.
The thought of this sickened Wen Zhi, who harbored respect and love for his master. Those who were loyal to her leadership carried similar beliefs. They would sacrifice their lives to prevent such a situation from happening.
As Wen Zhi rallied the troops to raid the Thunder Phoenix Clan headquarters, he turned to me and placed a hand on my shoulder.
“You better take the girls and get outta this country while you still can. This isn’t your fight to lose your lives in.”
That statement annoyed me, so I slapped his hand away.
“What the hell?! Do you really think I can just do that?! I know that we’re just guests here, but do you seriously think that after hearing all of that bullshit demon slander that any of us would feel right to just get up and leave?!”
Katsys charged forward and slipped into princess mode. “Sun Wen Zhi, as the princess of a foreign country, I find the direction that this country is heading in to be quite problematic. What do you believe will happen once your forces fall, and Sanshiro is headed by the Thunder Phoenix Clan? No doubt, they will spread their ideology to other nations and create the spark for war in their crusade to eradicate those that they believe to be demons. As someone that represents the neighboring country of Sistina, I cannot allow for that to happen.”
Wen Zhi’s face flinched as he was pecked by the judgement of authority, something that he was likely used to from being under Lady Kaguya. Clicking his tongue in defeat, he was no doubt relieved that we had decided to join his cause.
“Besides, I believe we have a fair chance with us on your side. Don’t underestimate the power of scientific marvels and Electi that have gone through plenty of training.” Katsys looked over to us.
Ludmila and I stepped forward. My critical strikes and her speed were very valuable, enough to take on large numbers of combatants. Lau leapt forward with a spring returned from his step.
“I, for one, am not satisfied with the outcome of my previous bout. It’s time to knock some rust off these old bones.”
As I exchanged a fist bump with Lau, I felt a tug on my shirt. Chrys stared at me, looking like she wanted to request something.
“I… I want to go as well… Yi Long… he was captured, right? I want to save him!”
I sighed. How could I forget the sight of her standing fearlessly in front of Wen Lu and Wen Zhi? Rather than being left behind and alone, she would much rather take the field with us, no matter what dangers lay ahead.
“It’s going to be a battlefield. That’s not a place that any person can step upon. It’s going to be dangerous,” I said to her, knowing that my words were futile.
“I don’t care! I’m an Electi, too! There must be some way to help!”
Chrys had little fighting ability at the moment due to her lack of physical training. Though she had improved her stats by gaining some levels, she was far from ready to be placed in such a dangerous situation. If only there was a way to use her abilities while keeping her safe…
“With how hectic the battlefield is going to be, the only way to get her to Yi Long would be to literally carry her…!!!”
My eyes lit up as my words clicked with a sudden thought. When I had initially saved her from the summoning circle, didn’t it seem like attacks kept missing me? I was too flustered at the time to notice, but her luck normally kept her safe from attacks. I had to test it out once again.
I crutched down and signaled for Chrys to hop on. With her arms wrapped around my neck and her legs cradling my waist, I stood up and yelled to the crowd.
“Hey, throw some attacks at me, guys!”
Katsys was the first to understand my intention. Pulling out her magic gun, she fired a weak bolt of ice magic, which flew straight at me before curving around and missing entirely. Some other men followed suit, leaping in for a half-hearted strike, only to find their fists moving away from the aimed trajectory. Provided that Chrys acknowledged the attacks coming towards me, they had all ‘happened’ to miss due to her Luck.
“We can use this! We can distract them from the front while the two of you slip through and save the others!” Wen Zhi shouted, a strategy starting to form in his mind.
Indeed, the combined abilities of Chrys and I would be most beneficial to form a quick strike to free the hostages. Even if our side couldn’t penetrate through the clan’s much larger army, our objective would be complete if they could distract them long enough for me to slip in to break the prisoners free. There was likely no cage that my knife couldn’t cut through.
“If we are going to plan a frontal assault, then it would be best if we could obtain these supplies.” Katsys had pulled out writing tools and was already jotting down a list of materials to hand to Wen Zhi.
“Eh? Sure, I can get these for you, but what are you planning to do with all these random things?”
I looked over his shoulder, and my jaw dropped as I noted several things that could be considered explosive.
“Why, an aerial barrage, of course. Who says that we have to fight force with force?” Katsys grabbed some stones on the ground and pulled out her portal gun. Shooting one in the air and another next to her, she dropped the stones into the nearby portal one by one, while moving the one in the air across the courtyard. The stones fell down and landed at set distances apart, simulating a periodic bombardment across a distance.
Wen Zhi’s jaw hung slack as he realized how much of an advantage this attack would bring. Slowly, it seemed like the princess was on her way to becoming a great tactician that could decimate her enemies with her souped-up inventions. I was starting to see why the prince may have felt that his position as the king could have been threatened.
And so, we had our game plan detailed out:
Wen Zhi would lead the main attacking force towards the front entrance of the Thunder Phoenix Clan, who resided on the mountain cliffside just outside of Baiman. The headquarters was recessed into a valley between the mountains, giving it natural protection from other directions. We had no choice but to approach from the front.
Ludmila would accompany Wen Zhi, since her speed would allow her to fight and relay information back and forth between the front and back lines.
Katsys would bring up the rear, along with the healers, where she would launch the aerial barrage once the enemy showed their fangs. Afterward, she could snipe from long distance with her magic guns.
Lau’s place was in the back line to guard against any strong foes. No doubt, the enemy would notice our ranged attacks and send forces to take care of them.
While the Thunder Phoenix Clan was kept busy, Chrys and I would sneak in where there was the least resistance and carve our way into the heart of enemy territory.
With our roles agreed upon, we raised our arms for a collective cheer to psych ourselves up for the battle ahead. However, just as we started to, Wen Zhi held up a hand to silence us.
“Before that, there’s one more thing we can do to prepare ourselves. Claude, you’re up to bat now.”
“Eh? What do you mean?” I cocked my head in confusion.
“We need some of that chef’s special before going to battle!”