Once her reasoning was out, the atmosphere in the room changed ever so lightly, since no one was willing to admit their fear of the enemy.
“That’s right,” Roland suppressed a laugh and added. “Once they lose their supply of Red Mist, the demons in the Fertile Plains will have difficulty inching forward. Additionally, us setting out now isn’t an indication that we are going into battle, we will be using this time en route to allow the army to have sufficient time to prepare.”
There was an additional point that he did not say-Sky Lord and Silent Disaster who returned to Sky City to bring together the troops.
Since the demon’s movement used the supply line at the Western Front, it was impossible for Hackzord to be unable to know of the new location of King’s City. To the King of the demon race, Hackzord was a complete traitor, so him amassing more strength was the best way for self preservation. The fall of the King’s City would undoubtedly be his best opportunity, and Hackzord would not remain indifferent at that time.
Upon thinking about this, Roland turned to Tilly. “Right, how’s the take off and landing training going for the Aerial Knights?”
“Far easier than I had imagined,” Tilly replied. “There isn’t much difference from landing and taking off on the ground. As long as the weather permits, the students are able to accomplish their tasks with ease. The only trouble is that we previously only had to use the Impassable Mountain Range or the shoreline for the pilots to roughly determine their location and from there, find the landing site. But from here on out, the enemy and us will be constantly on the move. Adding the lack of direction that the Fertile Plains provides, I’m afraid that there will be difficulty locating our point of departure. Of course, it isn’t an unsolvable problem, you only need to supply us with more fuel.”
This was also a difficult problem for aircraft carriers in combat-In a battlefield that spanned over a few hundred kilometers, any tiny divergence would accumulate to form a large error. The fortunate thing was that compared to the unvarying ocean, there were bound to be some “reference objects” on dry land that could be used to determine their location-for example, forests, rivers, mountain peaks etc. Roland was able to guess at her plans-if the pilots were unskilled with the maneuvering, they had to train more and fly more. Naturally, they would learn to be more aware of their own locations.
“Relax, they will be able to fly for as long as you want them to,” he promised.
In the upcoming battle, the Aerial Knights were without question the main fighting force. It was also because of this aerial force that mankind had the opportunity to attack and stop the demons a thousand miles from home.
Seeing that no one else had any objections, Roland surveyed the hall once more and gave the order. “With that, I shall announce the commencement of Phase Three of the Heaven Plan. We shall set off on the floating island, and the target is the northern regions of the Fertile Plains!” Two days later, the Eleanor Skycruiser completed its final resupply at a cliff pier, rose to the sky, and flew towards the Land of Dawn hinterland.
A hundred thousand citizens from Neverwinter were present to sent it off-the crowds flooded the streets, climbed the roofs, and even ascended the Impassable Mountain Ranges, just to witness this historic moment. The entire western side of the city was filled with people, once again setting a new record for the number of people attending an activity.
And that was just a portion of Neverwinter’s population.
There were even more people working at the factories, port, and farmlands, every one of them participating in a way for the expedition.
It was coincidentally the same day when the Border Area and Longsong District’s total population broke through the million mark, with more than fifty percent of the source coming from the Kingdom of Wolfheart and Everwinter. Although they were unlike the initial migrants that harbored negative emotions towards Neverwinter, everyone was able to sense the shock from the surge of people, as well as the common consensus that the day was extraordinarily meaningful.
Following the loud booms from the ceremonial cannons, the Eleanor Skycruiser traveled parallel to the mountains and moved towards Longsong Stronghold before turning west. It moved steadily into the distance, and finally disappeared from everyone’s sight.
But the elevated atmosphere among the citizens did not stop there.
Graycastle Weekly’s tracking reports caused the sales volume to reach an all time high, and everywhere on the streets, the topics discussed lingered around the topic of this attack. Gradually, the day of the departure became widely known as Miracle Day, representing humanity’s new beginning of conquering the skies. This was the second event to be hailed as a miracle after the Miracle Building.
However, it was much quieter on the floating island.
After the initial enthusiasm passed, the engineering team dedicated themselves to the tense but orderly work.
It was the same with the Aerial Knights as well, aside from the routine flights conducted by the detection squad, all the students took flight at least once a day to familiarize themselves with the surrounding terrain. The large floating island, the busy runway, and the thick smoke from the furnace area formed a rather distinct and unique scene.
“How does it feel? Are you able to adapt to your new body?”
In the core region of the floating island, Roland stood at the bottom of the mine and looked at Eleanor, who was firmly tied to the God’s Stone pillar.
In the past month, not only did the pillar become bigger, the Mother of Soul had even grown more tentacles and dug them into the soil beneath like the roots of a plant. According to her logic, the tentacles were additional perceptive organs for her, providing her better control over the island. In a sense, the island was the body and the tentacles were the nerves.
“Much better compared to before.” Eleanor’s voice was much lighter and casual as well. “I can see; I can hear; I can think. How can I be dissatisfied with that? Compared to Elena and the others, I am considered extremely fortunate already.’
“Lady Chief, don’t say that,” Pasha lowered her main tentacle and replied. “Everyone knows that if not for your choice to merge, we would never have survived. Furthermore, you didn’t know that this day would come. This act of bravery is already enough to-“
“I’m talking about the outcome and not the process,” Eleanor interrupted her. “I believe that I wasn’t the only one who was willing to sacrifice for the Union. My other sisters would as well. I merely was first.”
Seems like she’s doing well, Roland thought to himself. He had his worries previously. As a Witch, she had fought against the demons for decades, and he was afraid that she would ultimately turn into a demon herself. But by the looks of it, Eleanor was extremely mature and did not worry about the form of her body at all.
“I know what you’re thinking.” Eleanor suddenly turned her attention back to him. “You were afraid that I couldn’t get over it and become depressed and reclusive? If I were the only person left in the world, that might have happened. But with basically everyone here and the state of the war far better than how it was four centuries ago, and with so much new knowledge that requires studying, where do I have the time or effort to act like that?”
“For the Union to become the rulers of humanity, it does not rely only on abilities. Back then, we were equipped with the most advanced technology and ideas. Similarly for us, calling it three representatives isn’t an exaggeration either. Although the Union’s glory no longer exists, I still have to rely on studying and learning to keep up with the current generation’s progress.”
Roland was speechless. The familiar terms used by her were clearly picked up from the God’s Punishment Witches. God knew what they were teaching her. “And what have you learned up to now?”
“College level,” Eleanor replied. “Almost at the graduation phase.”
“Previously, we had Celine, Ling, and the others to guide and teach Lady Eleanor, but now, Lady Eleanor is the one teaching them,” Pasha added with a laugh.
Wait, she just woke up less than two months ago and she’s already finished with a college curriculum? Roland clicked his tongue. Before, he did not attach importance when Eleanor forced Mask away, and it was only then did he realize that he had underestimated the learning ability of dozens of brains.
“By the way, I made a miniature core apparatus that might help us in the following battles.”
With Eleanor’s consent, Pasha pulled out a frame the size of a palm and placed it on the “palm.” It floated silently and produced a dazzling blue luster at its center, just like gigantic magic power cores.
“What is it capable of?” Roland asked.
“It is able to imitate, to a certain extent, telekinetic powers, and is able to influence foreign objects… For example the rotation of handles and the pressing of triggers, etc. If it is combined with a specific machinery, I can control the machinery using magic power,” Eleanor explained. “Although Mask had taken away all mobility features of this body, he did not seal the use of the magic power completely. It means that when enemies come, I am able to operate weapons and engage in battle myself. The theory involved is somewhat similar to the automatic weapons in the Dream World.”
Roland gaped in shock.
And that wasn’t all as she continued, “In a sense, firing a gun can be considered computational, something that I am proficient in. Compared to an ordinary soldier, I am able to increase the effective hit rate of firearms to ninety percent within their effective maximum range. The shortfall is that I am unable to move nimbly and need to match the firearm with a gun turret, and also have to position my tentacles and the miniature core beforehand. But at the very least, the weapon turrets will become highly effective while defending the island.”
“How many can you control at once?”
“That depends on how many tentacles I have.” She paused for a while. “I’m guessing a few hundred?”
Upon thinking of the scene whereby a few hundred machine gun turrets, or even cannons, were controlled by Eleanor to fire at the enemy, Roland almost smacked his lips. But this was not the reason for his lament. What he cared about was Eleanor’s combination of magic power and machinery. The knowledge of both aspects came from Mask Nassaupelle as well as the Dream World. Not only did she absorb the knowledge, she had also taken the initiative to combine them! If given additional time, how much change would she bring to the world?
“If this mission hadn’t required the use of the floating island, I would never have thought of sending you personally into battle.” Roland revealed his thoughts. “What humans are lacking the most at present is guidance in this direction.”
“Oh? You’re not afraid that my understanding of these things will exceed yours?” It sounded as though Eleanor was giggling.
“Lady Eleanor…” Pasha wanted to stop Eleanor, but she did not know how to phrase her sentence.
“Why should I be afraid?” Roland returned with a question. “It is extremely normal for successors to surpass their predecessors. This signifies continuous progress in a civilization. If humanity’s knowledge is limited by me, that is when I will consider our future bleak.”
“…” The other party remained silent for a moment before speaking up again. “You are truly not qualified to be a King. But…”
“You are definitely worthy of being hailed as a trustworthy leader.” After spreading her blanket, Nightingale turned around and blew out the candle flame.
The room immediately darkened.
She found it amusing that after being accustomed to lights and magic stones, she was slightly uncomfortable returning to using candles, despite it being a normal occurrence in the past.
But there was not a choice in this matter, the lack of time prevented the island from having a complete electrical lighting system installed, to the extent that even their resting places were drilled out of a wall by Aphra and the rest. Soraya then added a soft layer and isolated the moisture of the underground chambers and made the place into a bedroom. The furniture within were the most ordinary, with simple wooden tables and cabinets. As for the mattresses, they were laid directly on the floor.
Although Isabella was on the floating island, all the magic stone illuminations were used for the factories rushing to produce goods. It would take her some time to transform God’s Stone for the residential areas.
Despite the simplicity of the room, it was not unbearable. Aside from the privacy of having a room per person, there were even standalone toilets. There were even ventilation shafts that provided airflow directly from outside the floating island into the chambers, preventing the rooms from being too stuffy or humid. There was a shared reading area and a warm public bath at the end of the caves as well, enough to satisfy the witches’ daily use.
She wasn’t that interested in the former, but Nightingale found the latter wonderful.
God knows how Pasha and the others had found the location-the stream that came down from the mountaintop into a cave mountain formed a natural clear spring, and after having the pool extend out the cave’s cliff walls, leaning against it provided a perfect view of the scenery outside. After the flight of the island, this location became the best place to overlook the vistas provided by the land.
Every day, Nightingale would soak in the spring water after showering and enjoy the spectacular sight.
Compared to this, the lack of lights in the room was nothing.
Just as Nightingale was about to lay down, she suddenly heard knocks on her.
She was startled, it was already late in the night and the majority of the people were asleep. Who could it be?
Nightingale responded and relit the candle, while thinking about potential candidates that might be at her door.
The most probable choice was naturally Wendy.
After all, this person in charge of the Witch Union had the precedent of coming to her for idle chats after having had a few drinks.
But the person standing outside completely stunned her.
It was Anna.
Holding onto a small wooden bucket with a towel and toiletries, she asked, “Can you accompany me for a bath?”
Nightingale had taken a bath prior to heading to bed, but knew that the main point was clearly not the bath. “Of course, please give me a moment.”
Nightingale packed her things and followed Anna into the public bath, which was completely vacant and empty aside from the two of them. Occasionally, water droplets splashing onto the stalagmites could be heard, emphasizing the serenity of the night.
After stripping, Nightingale stepped into the pool and immediately felt the warmth envelop her entire body. Unlike Neverwinter, the island’s fuel was limited; thus, the public bath employed the use of a boiler that relied on magic power to ensure a steady supply of hot water the entire day.
The two walked through the white mist and slowly arrived at the entrance of the cave. Instantly, the refreshing night breeze swept the heat away as the world before their eyes opened up into a wide panorama. It was no longer edges and corners of the mountain stone, but stars and an endless night sky.
Nightingale gasped slightly.
The feeling was intoxicating.
Anna seemed to be content and heaved a sigh. She then proceeded to stretch.
“Most probably in the Dream World.”
“Is that so? He’s really busy…”
“That’s right. Everyone claims that I’ve never stopped to take a break, but compared to him, my work is nothing.” Anna chuckled. “He even works through the night.”
“You’re equally as impressive as he is.” Nightingale lowered her body until the water reached her shoulders. “In the past, you were a young lady that knew nothing, but now, you’re able to assume so much responsibility.”
“It’s really nothing much.” Anna revealed a rare embarrassed expression. “I’m only good at these aspects; if not for Barov and Teacher Karl’s help, the Ministry of Engineering would be in a mess.”
Hey hey, you can’t just declare your shortcomings without any hesitation.
Looking at Anna, complicated emotions rose within Nightingale-it was impossible to say that she did not feel indignation; clearly she had come into contact with Roland much earlier than Anna and had more opportunities, but in the end, she was still a tad slower. But regardless of everything, she could not bring herself to hate Anna; her honesty, earnestness and her straightforwardness… The longer one interacted with Anna, the more one could sense her purity. Nightingale had met countless people before, from ordinary citizens to nobility, yet none of them were as dazzling as her.
She had complete respect for her.
After a short silence, Anna changed the topic. “What do you think will be the outcome of this Battle of Divine Will?”
Nightingale realized that this might be the reason for being invited to share a bath.
“I guess… very smoothly?” She gazed up to the stars in the sky. In all honesty, inferring or predicting the outcome of a battle far exceeded her scope of abilities, and she did not know how to answer. But with the battle approaching, saying such things didn’t seem too appropriate. Fortunately, Anna could not see through her lie.
“Oh.” Anna did not echo her thoughts. “I don’t actually think so. Especially when the last objective is the Bottomless Land. Legends state that it is the land of God and I’m afraid that the risks involved with it far exceeds our estimates. For some reason, I feel that Roland might disappear anytime, and the closer we get to the northern extremity, the stronger this uneasiness becomes.”
Nightingale’s heart skipped a beat. Could it be that Anna might had sensed Roland’s waning life expectancy? But that likely had to do with the Realm of Mind, and heading to the Bottomless Land was also a means to resolve the problem. It was not something that was inevitable.
“Maybe you’re just over worried about it.”
“I hope so.” Anna blinked. “Right… Do you remember our agreement?”
“Yes…” Nightingale was taken aback for a moment. “-Eh?”
“I’ve decided to bring it forward. After we defeat the demons, I will talk to him personally.”
“Why? Because of your uneasiness?”
“That’s half the reason,” Anna replied gently. “But more of it is that he needs you too. And I… have never hated you. In the coming war, you’ll have to take care of him.”
“…” Nightingale was momentarily at a loss for words. She muttered after a long time, “Even so, why are you not stopping him from going to the Bottomless Land?”
Anna shook her head with a calm expression. “This was the optimal plan after considering many factors, and regardless of the outcome, he has already made his preparations. How can I stop him? Being afraid and running away will not change anything, so the only thing I can do is to aid him with everything that I can, and witness the future with my own eyes.” Upon entering the hinterlands of the Fertile Plains, the time on Eleanor Skycruiser slowed to a crawl; the majority of the people on board knew that they were moving, but were unaware of where they were heading.
Only officials and higher-ups at the command center knew this. They were slowly inching towards the target-the map had clearly been marked out with a curved flight path and the floating island would revise its direction to the east every twelve hours. According to the Exploration Group’s report, Eleanor Skycruiser’s flight path would converge towards the new Deity of Gods in, at the maximum, eighteen days.
But the peace would not last till that day.
On the fourteenth day of journey, the peaceful days were interrupted.
An old Fire of Heaven was the first to discover enemy movements-it belonged to the Aerial Knights’ detection squadron and was one of the few dual seat models still kept in service. The back seat was no longer designed for machine gunners, and was instead equipped with spark-gap transmitter and a wireless transmitter unit. These equipment were installed and modified, giving the Fire of Heaven reconnaissance abilities.