Voices clamored around the clouds with the strength of piercing gold and breaking stones. A pile of snow was scattered and blown away like a mini typhoon following the welcoming ceremony.
Amid the brewing breeze, the strong, vigorous soldiers were waiting for Kieran and co. who were standing at the edge of the bridge, ready to step on it.
From the looks of it, this was more of a display of power than an official welcoming ceremony, but Kieran had still expected it.
Even if everything went smoothly and Kieran went in without any happening, he would still have to worry the things that happened after that which might catch him off guard.
The devils aura flashed past Kierans body, the scorching flames clashing with the snow typhoon. The moment the two auras collided, the typhoon burst into powerless snowflakes and showered the land with its white grace.
A black umbrella was opened above Kieran, preventing the snow from falling on him.
Kieran turned to Elli, who had opened the umbrella for him. The young lass raised an eyebrow. This was not the answer she had anticipated. She wanted to say something, but she held her tongue.
The spear-holding soldiers were collapsing from exhaustion one after the other. The flags in their hands followed, including Nikoreis and the Shepherds.
Kieran quickly stepped forward and took the pole of the silver flag, handing it over to Schmidt.
"Promise me that you wont let it fall to the ground!" Kieran said.
"You bet!" Schmidt took the flagpole and raised it high.
After a nod at Schmidt, Kieran stepped over the Shepherds flag and walked to the bridge, heading inside through the castle gate.
The two wagoners tried to step in and take the flag of the Shepherds, but Simones and Raul stood in their way quietly, preventing them from reaching the fallen flag. They could only watch helplessly as Kieran stepped on it.
Kieran was leading the group, with Elli holding the umbrella on his left. Schmidt was on his right, holding the silver flag high against the night wind.
Simones, Raul and Cidney were right behind them.
The group crossed the bridge and reached the gate at a slow march.
The wagoners behind them exchanged confused looks, and so did the guards on top of the castle wall. Things were not going according to their plan.
Inside the Morsenburg Castles wide living hall, Barry, who was wearing his best suit, was watching the scene unfold through his crystal ball.
"Pieces of trash!" he commented on his incompetent subordinates. He was talking loud enough for everyone inside the hall to hear what he was saying.
Including Rainer, the current leader of the Shepherd of Death.
The man was in his forties, but his face was as pale as snow with a greenish purple hue and his eye sockets were almost black. Rainer was sitting in a chair in a crooked posture, as if he was really old. He even had a black wooden walking staff with him to support himself.
The most noteworthy thing about him though were the gaps between his fingers. The flickers of glittering light on them gave out an unusual vibe.
"Are you expressing your dissatisfaction, Barry?"
Rainer was staring at his ally with a chilling glare.
Barry, who was also known as the Spirit of Evil, did not avoid his glare. Instead, he returned it with one of his own.
"Of course! I dont think this arrangement, or any arrangement after this, will be of any use. It will only make my opponent look like a king patrolling his backyard!" Barry said, emphasizing each word.
"Its still better than losing everything," Rainer said coldly.
His words enraged the East Coast mystics behind Barry. Every single one of them was staring at Rainer with intense anger.
So were the Shepherds behind Rainer.
"I hope you can provide me with an explanation after I deal with the Bird of Death!" Barry said in a calm tone, his words revealing his killing intent.
"I want to hear one from you, too!" Rainer grunted coldly.
Kieran and co. reached the castle gate without any hindrance. Before they could go in though, a rotten stench spread from inside the gate.
The blueish green spirit fire lit up the darkness, revealing the skeletons and corpses suddenly filling the whole entrance.
The dead were staring at Kieran and his friends in hatred and contempt, but they didnt make a move. They were waiting for orders.
Kieran stepped forward, getting his weapon ready. It was not like him to wait for his enemy to act.
"Hold on, 2567! You shouldnt waste your energy on these goons! Besides, its almost time for the meeting. They will laugh at you if you are late! Leave these guys to us! We will catch up after we deal with them!" Raul said, Cidney nodding in agreement.
"Thanks!" Kieran said, expressing his gratitude.
Raul and Cidney moved onto the dead and lured them away, creating a path so Kieran and the rest could proceed. Kieran nodded in thanks again before he walked away with big steps.
He knew what the Shepherds wanted. To be honest, before going there, Kieran and the others had thought about what the Shepherds would do to weaken their forces.
Isolating Kieran and forcing him to attend the meeting alone would be the best way to defeat them.
The sudden poisonous mist that erupted confirmed his theory.
"Leave it to me!"
Simones took out a bottle and released his own mist. The poisonous mist was neutralized by the one Simones had brought.
"Go on, 2567! Just remember!" Simones pointed at the silver flag. When he saw Kieran nod, he didnt say anything else.
The group had already been split in half, yet more obstacles kept coming their way.
When Kieran and the rest of the team reached the corridor leading to the banquet hall, a bunch of formless souls and evil earth spirits appeared before Kieran.
"Its my turn now!"
Elli passed her umbrella to Kieran and started chanting an incantation. The spirits were lured away instantly, carving another path open for Kieran.
After glancing at the young lass, Kieran walked to the door of the hall. He didnt notice the deep stare the girl gave him.
"Is it my turn now?" Schmidt asked when they reached the closed door.
"Your mission is to take care of the flag!" Kieran said before opening the door.
There were no mechanical or magical traps on it. It was merely shut from the outside, so Kieran used all his strength to push it.
The door opened. Instantly, hundreds of people gathered at the entrance.
There were people in formal suits, some with white wigs and noble clothes, and some with long robes that covered even their faces. Regardless of their outfits though, their gazes were anything but friendly as they looked at Kieran.
Their dense malicious gazes fused into one and almost materialized into a sharp blade pointing at him. It was a pity that, when that dense gaze clashed with the rampant, chaotic energy of the abyss, it shattered!
A violent wind of energy ran wild around the hall, blowing at everyones sleeves and skirts.
Kieran ignored everyone and walked straight up to the empty chair in the middle of the hall. It was the throne that had belonged to the previous king.
After 200 years, it was treated as a historical relic that remained in the hall. Kieran inspected the chair, his fingers caressing its edges, which had lost their sharpness through the course of time.
Then he turned around and sat down on it.
"Im here at your invitation!" he said in a loud powerful voice that echoed around the hall.
That chilly night, the grand hall that had remained in slumber for 200 years was awakened.
The place buzzed lightly in reply to Kierans powerful voice, as if it was welcoming its old master or celebrating a newly crowned king.
As the buzz got fiercer and louder, the hall started to tremble.
The ceiling above the throne revealed a prismatic mirror that shouldnt have been there. The mirror was dazzling brightly, even though there was no evident source of light.
A brilliant golden glow was shining straight down at Kierans body.
The black feather mantle turned gold under the glow, and the faint projection of a crown formed above Kieran, as if he was wearing it on his head.
The scene was overwhelming for almost everyone present. Suddenly, an invisible aura burst out and made everyones feet start shaking.
Someone is playing tricks