Fanner and Torstar frowned simultaneously. They stopped.
Jyaichi was looking up at the sky with a dubious face while Ganarde came out of the forest, looking heavy.
Obviously, Fanner and Torstar, the weaker ones, only noticed that something was wrong through their instincts while Jyaichi, the stronger one, could sense that something went awry; Ganarde, the strongest one among them, obviously saw something.
"My lord, something isn't right."
Ganarde reported to Kieran softly after he arrived beside the wagon with two nimble jumps that were much like that of a real ape.
Kieran nodded slightly, his SSS+ Intuition allowing him to clearly see what was going on in front.
The ominous presence that rumbled restlessly like a dark cloud above the southern reinforcement camp made him frown too, despite the camp being filled with tents and waving flags.
The black, rumbling presence was like an unclear monster wandering above the camp, ready to devour the reinforcements beneath it, yet everything in the camp seemed normal as if its occupants couldn't feel anything wrong above their heads.
"So this is what you are relying on, old fox," Kieran muttered as he softly knocked on the carriage.
Dok Dok Dok.
A rhythmic knocking later, Mary came down from the carriage. Even the sharp-sensed princess noticed something wasn't right.
"What kind of power is this?" Mary asked Kieran with furrowed brows.
"Where did your aunt originate from again?" Kieran asked back with a smile.
"Ghastly Woods? The power of curses!" The young princess quickly reacted, followed by a change of expression.
Among the plethora of powers that people dreaded the most, the power of curses would be at the top. The strange, formless power easily terrified people most of the time.
Kieran raised his hand and touched Mary's head again, saying words of comfort before turning to Fanner.
The latter quickly understood the sign. Fanner swiftly arranged his things and rode towards the reinforcement camp on his horse.
As princess of the land, Mary should be welcomed like the royalty she was, not entering the camp unannounced. This was part of the glory and honor of the heir of Warren.
Wuu, Wuu Wuu!
Loud horns were blown from the reinforcement camp. A group of bright-armored riders swiftly rode out the camp, lining up on both sides of the outer gate.
Deer antlers and blockades on the path were moved out of the way. A red velvet carpet was rolled out from the camp, allowing a bunch of important figures with extravagant outfits to step on it as they walked out.
They didn't pause on the way but directly went up to Mary before bowing and saluting.
There was a total of 10 men in the group and the most familiar one among them was the private consultant to James VIII, Bosco.
Bosco was sending eye signals to Kieran as he arrived, the corners of his mouth ceaselessly pointing to the two young men beside him.
The two young men looked very similar, except that one of them sported a beard. Other than that, both of them donned iron armor with swords at their waists.
Kieran glanced over at the two young men and looked further behind without pause.
There were six more men with various physiques and ages standing respectfully behind the two, and on their chest plates were different house emblems.
Behind the six of them was an elderly man. Compared to the others in front of him who were adorned extravagantly, the elderly was just donning a brown robe and looked quite calm, absent of any sense of nervousness.
Comparing the current scene to the previous news he got, Kieran quickly recognized everyone that came out for the welcome.
The two young men should be the sons of Duke Will.
The other six should be barons from all across Will Prefecture.
While the elderly should be the other Duke of Will—the duke-in-name only.
After having experienced a real war, Mary wasn't frightened by the group of fully armed men. Quite the opposite, as her leisure gaze on them caused nervousness in their hearts, especially the old duke's second son. The young man who was always well protected by his own father and brother had been looking at Mary with an interested gaze at first, but when he caught her gaze, his own shunned away.
But right away, he realized his shunning didn't fit his pride as a man, thus he wanted to counter.
When the second son mustered the courage to look at Mary again, he saw a black figure instead.
Cold and dead.
The coldness rose up from his own heart the moment he saw the figure.
He seemed to hear the wails of death.
He seemed to see a sea of corpses.
His face started to turn pale.
His steps started to falter until he knocked one of the other barons behind him.
It was at that moment that the second son of the old duke noticed it wasn't just him alone reacting like that, as everyone present, with the exception of Bosco, reacted the same way, including his powerful brother.
The second son gulped, trying to wet his dry throat to prepare himself to speak, but before words could form, Mary nodded slightly.
The reply from her nasal voice carried the proudness of a princess.
Perfectly timed, Kieran raised an arm in front of Mary, allowing her to place hers on it before walking forward slowly beside her.
Both of them were walking straight, their steps in unison. The sense of mighty bearing coming out of Kieran caused the important figures from the southern reinforcement camp to automatically open up a path for them.
When both of them stepped onto the velvet carpet, the important figures came back to their senses, hence following up with a less friendly face.
They felt insulted. They, who were used to receiving respect and reverence on their own lands, fired out gazes at the old duke's eldest son.
Celder, the eldest son, noticed the gazes from his men but he wasn't in a hurry.
Compared to his immature younger brother, Celder wasn't just the older sibling with a beard, for he had patience as well.
He replied to the gazes with one of his own, assuring the other nobles in his land. Then he quietly took another glance at Bosco, who didn't move, and the useless duke-in-name.
Celder didn't want to care about these two people, as it was like concern himself with stray dogs on the street.
In Celder's opinion, Bosco and the elderly duke-in-name were even less than the attendants Kieran brought, for at least those two attendants possessed decent abilities.
The two Celder was thinking about were actually Fanner and Torstar, who stayed behind at the wagon.
As for Jyaichi and Ganarde?
A wagoner and a servant, nothing worthwhile of his attention.
Retracting his gaze, Celder, who thought he had a firm grasp of the situation, hastened his steps.
He went up to Mary's back, leaving only two steps between them.
"Your Highness, thank you for making the time…"
"2567, the sun is gloomy here."
Before Celder could finish, he was interrupted by Mary.
Celder jolted along with the other nobles of the land when they heard those absurd, mindless words come from the young princess.
Then, they saw Kieran raise his left hand amid the walking.
Blazing flames burned hot, the devil screamed.
A ball of Devil Flame flew towards the sky like a comet, crashing into the cloud-like ominous presence.
Fiery waves rumbled along the trail of the Devil Flame, and the ominous presence was cleansed by the scorching flames.
Rank III Devil Flame against the ominous presence, which was only around a new Advance Rank, was like breaking a twig from a dead stump.
At the same time, the powerful fire also suppressed the one who gathered the ominous cloud.
A loud scream came from the camp further away.
But Mary turned a deaf ear. Raising her hand, she grabbed a dash of sunlight with her palm and said with a joyful voice, "It's so warm."
"Your Highness, it can still be warmer," Kieran said calmly.
Devil Flame burned on his left hand again before he even let it down.