The Castia Mountains were located ten days away from west of Torlot Fortress.
It was a place spread across the Volga Republic and the Baroque Empire. It had less human activity there due to the myriad of monsters, rugged mountain terrain and the mazes of valleys it harboured.
If one could lead the troops and cross over the Castia mountains, it would take a lot of time. However, the damage would be considerable.
So, the two nations only deployed a few ranger units in the area and didn’t build many fortresses or large units there.
Not long ago, unusual signs began to appear in the Castia mountains.
The ones, who pulled up the bushes and sneaked on the ground, looked at Baroque Rangers, who were patrolling nearby.
As they disappeared to a farther place, he slipped back to his position covering himself with leaves and bush.
“The empire dogs are gone.”
“Nice, get back to work again!”
As soon as the orders fell, loud noises began to ring violently in the ground.
Deep in the basement of the mountains, they were working on something, like a child, yet with a fully grown body that was subject to discussion and a shaggy beard.
They were a type of fairy who were called dwarves.
Dwarves, though short, had a tough body.
They were strong, and their skills were so great that they could knead stones.
The best of the dwarves was the Red Hammer clan.
They were blacksmiths, artists, architects, and natural miners.
More than 500 years ago, their first leader Rommel worked under the Devil King Saymon.
After the death of Saymon, the Red Hammer clan hid from the world by digging the ground.
A huge burrow made with the power and skill of pure dwarves was enough to pummel a Gigant.
Watching the dwarves dig up the ground with shovels, pickaxes and other variety of tools, Dreetree turned to an unusually tall dwarf and asked,
“Look here, Elder Kurgan, are we there yet?”
“Kung! Almost over now. Just wait a moment.”
The one called Kurgan, who had a nice red beard, was a tall dwarf who was indistinguishable from a human, and among the dwarves, he was called the Giant Kurgan.
Kurgan, the elder of the Red Hammer clan, commanded a unit on Vladimir’s order.
The Volga Republic had been studying for a long time on how to bypass the Baroque empire.
One of them was the Castia mountain, where geological studies have been conducted for a long time, and the dwarves found that the land was suitable for digging.
Of course, even if the strata were adequate, digging tunnels across the mountains would have been impossible for human engineers.
Being natural miners, they were able to dig a tunnel in almost two months. They were about to reach the culmination of their hard work in a massive tunnel called the Underground Invasion Path. They were doing all of this for the Republic.
“We are moving to the battlefield soon. I’m getting frustrated with it. It wants to fight as soon as possible.”
Dimitry, who came to see the progress as the days went by, spoke with his fists clenched,
Kurgan had known him for a long time, so he was able to understand his impatience.
“But do you need to go directly?”
Kurgan asked, not able to understand him.
The purpose of the war wasn’t to occupy the enemy. It was to drastically reduce the number of soldiers the Baroque could use.
However, instead of the main unit, the detour unit was being led by Duke Dimitry, the greatest swordsman of the Republic.
It was natural to wonder as he had never left the capital despite the numerous battles that had happened between his empire and Baroque.
“Of course, there was no need to be… I’m just tired of protecting the capital.”
“Bored, huh?” Asked Kurgan.
“Yeah, I wanted to fight. It has been a long time since I used my sword for a fight.”
Dimitry was a Sword Master, an advanced Expert knight.
Although he had never been defeated in Volga, he was still weaker compared to Baroque Emperor’s Sword Sage, Rudolf.
With his diligence, he was able to set foot on the same level as the Sword Sage.
The moment he had reached the Sword Sage level, his body had changed as well.
As if he was rejuvenated, his body felt young and full of vitality.
His grey hair turned black again, and his stiffened old spine had regained its flexibility.
‘If I feel like this, then what about Emperor Rudolf?’
Was he afraid?
As his body was rejuvenated and gained a new life, he became more competitive.
Emperor Rudolf and Dimitry were the top two swordsmen representing their nations. However, they had never faced each other on the battlefield.
Dimitry wanted to evaluate Rudolf after hearing rumors, but he sure knew that winning wouldn’t be an easy task.
‘I would feel grateful if I get the chance to fight this time.’
He participated in the war and was appointed as the commander of the detour unit because there was a chance that he might actually meet the Imperial Emperor.
There were words going around that Emperor Rudolf enjoyed private visits.
“Well, by now, there is probably a battle going on at the Torlot Fortress, I guess?”
When asked by Kurgan, Dimitry counted the number of days on his fingers and spoke,
“They had probably started the attack a week ago, so maybe Marquis Tyron has already occupied the fort and is working on going against the Northern army as planned.”
Marquis Tyron, the Meister of the Republican Magic Tower, was a mage, but he was quite skilled.
In the past, during the republican revolution, many wizards had been led to participate in the battle, so they all believed that the Torlot Fortress could be captured pretty easily.
“Is that so? Anyway, I hope that this war would create a huge drawback for the Baroque Empire.”
Like the other fairies, the dwarves hated the Baroque Empire.
The ancestors of the Empire, Karno de Baroque, attacked the dwarf village, robbed them of their property, and they even put them in the mines until they died of exhaustion.
The dwarfs suffered great damage, almost to the extent of going extinct.
In the past, the Red Hammer tribe didn’t side with Devil King Saymon.
Saymon treated fairies just fine, and he had the purpose of repaying the Baroque Empire.
However, when Saymon died, that couldn’t be accomplished. The Red Hammer tribe fled North of the continent and spent many years in hardship.
Thus, the dwarves’ hostility toward the Baroque family and the empire was bound to be strong.
That was why it was easy for them to accept the request from the Volga to build the underground tunnel.
It was when the two of them were having a conversation.
Suddenly, the wall that was blocking the front collapsed and dazzling sunshine began to pour in.
Kurgan approached the dwarves and shouted,
“Kung! Where are you all looking at? Move fast and make an exit where a Gigant can move!”
Seeing the dwarves move, Dimitry ordered his lieutenant.
“Issue the advance to the army.”
The lieutenant, who received the order, rode back on a horse.
Sometime later, 40,000 troops, 2,000 knights and 100 Gigants poured into the Baroque Empire through the tunnels.
They were all elite, with central troops, unlike the units which had attacked the Torlot Fortress.
The number of Gigants was less for the Knights, and the proportion of cavalry in the army was quite high.
In other words, these were the true power that had been prepared by the Republic in order to attack the Baroque Empire.
“Send the elven ranger. And sweep up the nearby imperial rangers!”
The Elven Rangers, ordered by Duke Dimitry, annihilated the Imperial Rangers. The order was relayed by the wizards who were staying in their posts around the mountain.
Some of the empire knights had tried to flee, but they were captured by the Elven Rangers, who aimed like the hawks.
And as a result, the emergence of the Republic forces was completely unknown to the Imperial Forces
‘Kukuk, is there anyone else who needs to be taken down?’
Upon seeing the enemy rangers getting knocked down, Dimitry was pleased.
In anticipation of that very day, their eyes were shining as the day they had been training for was upon them.
Seeing the soldiers motivated, Dimitry too had eyes like a beast.
Dimitry, who pulled out his Orhalcon sword, shouted with overflowing mana.
“The goal is Krom! Show that dumb emperor that he should fear the Volga Republic’s army! Not even one of you should fall, follow me!”
Cheering loudly, the soldiers of the Republic marched toward Krom.