Troops equipped with shields and swords were lined up at the castle gate.

Sir Brown stood with a bow and arrow on the castle wall.

Our standing force was there in all their might, armed not with bows, but slingshots, some of which were loaded with stones.

As our soldiers fought off the goblin swarm, I stayed put in my place.

Although I could still call forth a mid-level fire spirit using my aura, it wasn't able to last for too long.

The perk of being a spirit mage is that direct combat is avoidable.

From a safe spot in the back, I could sustain the aura and restore the energy the spirit used up.

'Even if the spirit kills…'

I didn't have time for deep thoughts.

This was because the enormous magic power, generated by the slain goblins, was flooding into me.

Even though the goblins were killed by Inferno and not by me, they transferred their magic power to me.

While it was questionable whether it was genuinely magic power, there was no time to ponder it.

I felt a dull sensation in my dantian, the small ball-shaped area was buzzing with activity again.


I let out a sigh.

My skin turned a fiery red, a mirage of heat drifted from my shoulder, and I was emitting warmth.

“Inferno, blind them.”

From a distance, Inferno, who was freely wielding his power, heard my command.

We were connected as if our souls were intertwined,

Sharing intense emotions and focused thoughts.

The flames beyond the wall died down.

Instead, Inferno swiftly flew around, setting the goblins' eyes aflame.


Each time the goblin horde fought back by swinging their swords, my aura slightly diminished.

From the moment Inferno made a pact with me, he became a physical being in this middle world.

“I brought the pouches!”

An old lady yelled out.
She had packed leather pouches in her apron, and a line of women followed her.

I had ordered the making of these leather pouches.

“Let the standing army use the leather pouches instead of stones! Be careful not to spill the oil inside!”

The standing army hurried over and took the leather pouches from the women.

Soon, the goblin horde reached the castle wall.
Their numbers were less than a hundred, but quite a few joined late as they had to pass through the flames.
Dozens of them had their eyes burned.


The standing army hurled the leather pouches all at once, and when they hit the goblins' heads and the ground, they spilled out their contents.

Fwoosh! Whoosh!

A somewhat foul smell filled the air as the oil, made from the fat of beasts and monsters, caught fire.


Inferno didn't rush.

Where he went, the oil sparked, and towering columns of fire shot up.


The goblin horde scattered in two.

Half fled, but the other half tried to scale the castle wall.
Even then, their numbers fell below a hundred.

“Throw spears!”

The soldiers finished off the goblins clinging to the wall using their improved spear-throwing skills.

Squeeek, Thud!

Sir Brown took down the goblins with his remarkable archery skills, aiming straight for their heads.

“Open the gate!”

On my command, the soldiers moved the wood blockading the gate.

The goblins tried to swarm in from the other side.

Inside, soldiers arranged in a half-circle, held their shields and spears at the ready.

As the castle gate swung wide, the goblins stormed in.

“Inferno, flame!”

It felt like I was draining my remaining aura.

Flames shot through the opened castle gate, streaming straight to the back.

The goblins caught by the flames were burned to a crisp.


The soldiers changed their formation.
They broke the circle, formed wedge formations, and moved beyond the castle gate, ruthlessly stabbing and finishing off the severely burned goblins.

“Inferno, back me up.”

-Are you going to step in directly?

Inferno's remorseful emotion reached me.
I'd heard that mid-level spirits and above could think and feel like humans, and this seemed to confirm it.

“I can't just sit and watch.”

That wasn't the only reason.
My aura was inadequate to control a mid-level spirit.

At this pace, I was sure to collapse first.


Inferno's chuckle wasn't a sign of displeasure.
It was a deep breath taken before rallying his strength.

Inferno's flames engulfed my sword.
A sudden wave of heat erupted, but soon all I felt was warmth.
Inferno had shielded me from the spirit's fire.

Beyond the wall was chaos.
The dark night hid some of the sight, but the castle's lights and the remaining flames illuminated areas littered with goblin bodies and ash.

I called out to the soldiers guarding the castle gate.

“Everyone, wipe out the goblins in the field's range! Shut the castle gate to prepare for possible surprise attacks!”


The soldiers raced out.
There were no threats in the surrounding area.

They moved in groups of three.
It was a new rule of the Hevron Army.

The scenes that followed lacked the drama of war.

It was a one-sided slaughter.

I too, using Inferno's flames to light up my path, hunted down the goblins.
The injured ones didn't get far before being intercepted and killed by me and the soldiers.

Before we knew it, dawn was upon us.
The spreading light from the horizon brightened our view.

Only then was I able to see clearly beyond the eastern castle wall.

“So this is the might of a mid-level fire spirit.”


Inferno radiated pride.
I appreciated his confidence.
He had the skills to justify it.

'But I mustn't call upon Inferno thoughtlessly in the future.'

Although we'd halved the goblin forces, the aftermath left the eastern field devastated.

Regardless, the defense was victorious.
This battle resulted in the eradication of at least 400 goblins.

My allies and I stopped our chase at the fringe of the eastern woods.
Some goblins managed to flee into the forest, but it appeared we could regroup and track them without delay.

'They've lost their strength.
The eastern forest is as good as conquered.'


Why this feeling?

Suddenly, fear gripped me.
Every hair on my body stood on edge.

I swiveled my head to survey the forest.
I sensed someone watching.

As I tried to pinpoint the source, I locked eyes with a figure staring at me from the woodland.

I heightened my aura to boost my physical capabilities.
Consequently, my senses also sharpened.
His face came into view.


It certainly appeared to be a goblin.

A small creature, not much different in stature from the others.

But one thing set it apart.
A tattoo marred its forehead.
No, it was more like a slave's mark.
It looked as though someone had seared the symbol onto the goblin's forehead with a heated iron.

'Is it signaling me to follow?'

The goblin vanished into the shadows.

'That mark on its forehead…it's familiar.
Where have I seen it?'

It was the shape of two intertwined triangles, missing a base.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't recall.

The intellectual prowess of Lewis de Hebron fell far short of Lewis de Vreio.

'So this is what living with an ordinary mind is like.

“Everyone, hold position here.”

“Sir, it's dangerous.
We should accompany you.”

“No, I can handle it alone.
Go to the wall and summon Sir Brown.
The rest of you, dispose of the goblin corpses around here.”


'Should I have conserved my aura?'

I felt a wave of dizziness.
A sense of hollowness settled in from the exhaustion.

If I pushed further, there was a chance I'd pass out like before.


The goblin made its presence known again.
It emerged from the bushes, eyes fixed on me.


A wave of fear washed over me.
I felt a chilling horror at the mere sight of the goblin.

Its eyes rolled back, revealing bloodshot orbs.

I squared my shoulders.

I adopted the basic stance of Antarian swordsmanship.

A feeling of reassurance washed over me as I leveled my sword at the goblin.

“If you think to lure me, abandon the idea.
I have no intention of playing into your hands.
But don't assume I've written you off.
This is Hebron's domain.
As long as you linger here, I'll hunt you down and end you within days.”

The goblin offered no response to my declaration.

If a simple goblin grasped human language, that would indeed be more peculiar.


-I'll scorch his eyes.

Inferno, well-acquainted with my combat style, hurled towards the goblin's head like a fireball launched into the sky.

In a split second, his trajectory swerved, hitting the goblin's face squarely.


Inferno set the goblin's head ablaze.

Yet, the goblin withstood the assault.

Despite losing his hair and eyebrows to the flames, his skin charred, the goblin did not emit a single sound.

“Inferno, imbue my sword!”

As I charged forth, yelling for Inferno, he seemed to hold a distaste for the goblin.
He flared and snuffed out like a candlewick.

Shortly after, he inhabited my sword, sending flames rippling along its length.


The goblin charged at me.

The fire had cleared the hair obscuring the tattoo on its forehead, rendering it more visible.

It was undeniably the shape of two intertwined triangles lacking a base.
At the center of this diamond, a single point was distinctly marked.

'Where have I seen that?'

It felt as if my mind had been filled with fog, leaving it utterly blank.
The more I tried to remember, the denser the fog became.


I nearly lost my grip on my sword.

The sheer force behind the goblin's dagger exceeded my own strength.


Had it not been for the flames surging from my sword, searing the goblin's face, I would have been left unprepared for the creature's attack.

In haste, I amplified my aura to augment my physical prowess.

“…Inferno, retreat.”

-Hmph, take care.

It was a necessary decision, driven by the depletion of my aura.
Even after Inferno's departure, heat continued to radiate from my body.


Once more, my sword clashed with the goblin's.
Whether it was due to his short limbs or the sword's length, this time it was manageable.

Stealthily, I backed away, extending my sword.

The goblin defended, and from then on, my attacks ensued.

Clang! Clang! Swish! Swoosh!

The goblin's wounds multiplied.

Thick blood seeped from his rent skin.

'This isn't swordsmanship.
It's extraordinary reflexes and muscular strength.
How can a mere goblin possess such capabilities?'

I parried the goblin's attack using Antarian swordsmanship.

I quickly identified his weak points and lunged.


The goblin evaded the critical strike.

He skillfully dodged fatal blows, seizing opportunities, and even occasionally successfully attacked.


I, too, started accumulating minor injuries.

The leather armor was shredded like cloth, and a sharp pain radiated from within.

“The longer this drags on, the more it turns against me.”

My movements began to slow.
The paralysis-inducing poison on his dagger was taking effect.
I needed to dispel the poison by circulating my aura continuously, but I lacked the time to do so.


When I bit down on my lower lip, blood spurted, filling my mouth.

The looming veil of unconsciousness momentarily lifted.

I resisted the urge to collapse.

Suddenly, several swordsmanship techniques coalesced in my mind.
The unifying factor among the multitude of sword techniques I had studied was how each of them combined with the aura circulation method to maximize power.

Yet, the foundational framework of all these techniques was strikingly similar.

Stripped of their ostentatious flourishes, only a handful of core movements remained.

One of them resurfaced vividly in my mind.

No, it wasn't merely a memory.
I reproduced it.
To merely call it mimicry would be insulting; I flawlessly recreated the movement without a single error.


It felt as though I had sliced through the wind itself.

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