789 Final Battle Part 14
Although the Mage Country Arlodant was a mega empire, it didn't have much territory. Most of its population was concentrated in Arlo, its capital of magic.
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The Cloud Tower had existed in Arlo's sky for all these past millenniums. At first, it had only been a residence and experimental laboratory for high-level mages where they could avoid having explosions affect other residential districts.
But as magic education became more commonplace, the mages in Arlodant became older on average as more and more people achieved an undying power level. This meant that the Cloud Tower gained more and more permanent residents.
The Cloud Tower was no longer just a simple experimental laboratory for high-level mages after all the constant expansion over the years. Mages consisted of 10% of the population in Arlodant, and most of them resided in the Cloud Tower. More than 50% of archmages had their own permanent residences and experimental laboratories in the Cloud Tower. All academic organizations had their own mage towers in the Cloud Tower.
Despite all this, the Mage Country had always referred to this place as the "Cloud Tower", even though the Cloud Tower had actually become a city several centuries ago. This was simply because everyone had gotten accustomed to addressing this place as the Cloud Tower.
The Cloud Tower was no longer a simple research laboratory or mage tower. Every single resident of Arlodant would see this city in the clouds every day. The Cloud Tower's existence represented the entire Mage Country's glory and stability.
"Never challenge an archmage in their own mage tower."
This was already known as common sense throughout all the dimensions. The extension of this would then be…
"Never directly challenge the Mage Country and the Cloud Tower, unless you're willing to simultaneously fight against thousands of top-level mage towers and tens of thousands of archmages."
The Cloud Tower had never accomplished any outstanding combat achievements. Perhaps people had already forgotten that the Cloud Tower was actually mobile. Still, no existence who had even a modicum of intelligence would even possibly consider directly challenging the Cloud Tower due to how powerful it was.
"Attack Arlo, the capital of the Mage Country? The Cloud Tower is there, together with tens of thousands of archmages, an endless mana reserve, tremendous amounts of war puppets and magical creations, countless Dimension Doors and prepared curses. The Cloud Tower is more than half of the entire Mage Country's combat strength."
Even the most reckless king would still never consider attacking the capital of the Mage Country. The Cloud Tower was known as the mages' home, as well as the symbol of the entire country's stability.
The only rogue king who dared to challenge the Cloud Tower was "Foolish King" Orloss. But now, his wild challenge that embroiled the Mage Country in this conflict seemed like the wisest decision a ruler had ever made in this world.
"10 years ago, the members of the inner circle made a secret agreement with former Emperor Orloss that we would activate the Cloud Tower and fly across the sea for support when it was necessary. The Bardi Empire would pay for all of our necessary expenditures. Not only that, Bardi would even open up its national treasury and give us at minimum 100 kilograms of adamantite, tens of millions of gold coins' worth of magical resources, one God Equipment, and 10 SemiGod Equipment as payment for our assistance."
In the Truth conference hall of the Cloud Tower, Archmage Lain explained to the other mages about this secret agreement which guaranteed the legality of the Cloud Tower entering the Bardi Empire.
Only Truth Symposium members would know that the Truth Symposium was actually split up into the inner circle and outer circle members. The outer circle members were more numerous and often changed, while the inner circle members were hidden. Only inner circle members would know the identity of other inner circle members.
The inner circle members didn't have any special extra authority. They simply were viewed as more trustworthy and would receive more information.
Amala of Star Revelation and "Miracle Prayer" Lain were two of the very few inner circle members whose identities were publicly known as inner circle members.
"When I heard of Orloss's death, I thought that our agreement would naturally become scrap paper. But, when Roland brought the contract and Emperor Halent's writ of authority to us, I really didn't dare to believe it… They must have been secretly working together long ago."
The Truth conference hall which was typically empty was currently more than half full. Some people whose names had been forgotten for centuries and more, who had been famous names millenniums ago, now returned in front of everyone while wearing masks and hats to conceal their identities.
Even though archmage Lain appeared to be calm, his back was actually covered in cold sweat. These senior archmages who had retreated into hermitage and retired long ago were all Truth Symposium members from generations long past. Some of them were the most respected authorities in their specialty. Normally, it wouldn't be known where they were most of the time, but they suddenly all arrived the moment that the Cloud Tower was activated.
Legally, Lain didn't need to answer the retired senior archmages' questions, but this was similar to how a young junior would have a hard time standing up to elders in the company who helped to establish it. The younger Lain felt rather panicky to be surrounded by these senior archmages. He really had to give them a reasonable explanation for activating the Cloud Tower.
"…So, Little Lain, you discussed things with the other inner circle members and activated the Cloud Tower. You sold the Cloud Tower for just some minor benefits? Do you know that the Cloud Tower has never been moved even once since the Mage Country was established? The Cloud Tower's stability is the foundation of stability in the heart of every citizen of Arlodant. Panic is now beginning to spread in the commoners' hearts."
The black-haired gentleman who said this wore a one-eyed mask and appeared to be quite young. Dangerous starlight shone in his eyes. He was Lain's teacher's senior brother, 'All-capable Hand' Noah, a past leader of the inner circle.
Lain suddenly realized what was going on. All of these senior archmages in retirement had suddenly appeared because they probably hid themselves amongst the commoners of the Mage Country. No wonder they were no longer able to remain quiet when they saw the Cloud Tower being activated.
"Heh, that Roland probably expected this as well. Young people are so scary these days, truly. Still, you made the Cloud Tower which has never moved even once to enter another country just for these little things…"
Noah didn't finish his sentence, but it was obvious to everyone that he was quite dissatisfied.
Even Lain felt slightly frustrated to see this. He now understood why Roland had strongly emphasized to him that the Cloud Tower's activation and movement had to be kept top secret. The senior archmages' reaction was probably something that Roland had expected. Additionally, moving the Cloud Tower would naturally drag the senior archmages into the battle as well.
Scheming against one's own allies wasn't something that could see the light of day. Still, scheming against one's own allies would still increase the human alliance's overall combat strength… Lain felt rather complex inside, yet he still had to answer the senior archmages' questions.
Still, he had already made up his mind long ago on why he had agreed to such an action.
"No, it's not simply about Bardi's payment."
Lain thought things over carefully and organized his words, as he knew that his following words were highly likely to determine the senior archmages' attitude.
"This is a battle of survival. Although the Mage Country is a country for mages, the large majority of citizens are still just ordinary humans with no power. That's why we must fight."
Lain didn't try to give a long speech or give a list of reasons. Trickery with words would be useless against the senior archmages. Sophistry would only make them annoyed. The most practical reason of "Because we are humans, we must fight for the sake of our species' continuance and glory" would be the most realistic of all.
"Is there a need for this?"
Noah nodded slightly. Hearing this was within his expectations, as well as the only answer he would possibly accept.
Continue passing on a secret inheritance? Search for the endless truth? Such things would require survival as a prerequisite. For any species, survival would always be more important than anything else. If the Chaos Main Gods really conquered the mortal plane, then the senior archmages obviously would no longer be able to maintain their past independence and free lifestyles.
Noah's question was actually already giving recognition to Lain's reason. The senior archmages weren't deaf or blind, after all. Even though they were hermits, that didn't mean that they wouldn't receive information from the outside world. In fact, since the senior archmages lived concealed amongst ordinary people, they actually understood the current overall situation quite well.
Was there a need for this? This question wasn't asking about if the Mage Country had to participate in battle or not, as nobody would possibly escape from this war since the very start. Hiding in one's own ivory tower and shaking in fear would be the equivalent of handing the enemy a butcher knife to slaughter oneself.
Noah was asking if the current situation was really at the extent of needing to use the Cloud Tower to settle everything in a final battle.
Lain's eyes shone with resolution. Activating the Cloud Tower was the equivalent of dragging the entire Mage Country into battle. This wasn't a decision that he possibly could have made by himself. Still, Lain was completely in support of this decision.
"Yes, it's necessary. Only by participating in this battle and winning will we have sufficient authority and status in the new generation. For the sake of passing on secret inheritances and mages' pride, as we are the strongest group in the mortal plane who stand to benefit the most in this war, we absolutely must have combat achievements suitable to our status."
The logical mages wouldn't care about reason, politics or meanings. They were just like sly merchants who only talked about future benefits.
"The Hell Faction is more suitable for us than either the Order or Chaos Factions. This is a unanimous decision by all the Truth Symposium members."
Order, Chaos, and Hell Factions. These three factions were destined to fight to victory or defeat in this Holy War. Since it was destined already that the Mage Country wouldn't possibly be able to remain isolated and run away from this war, then it would be far more beneficial to choose a side and attack with full force in order to obtain sufficient combat achievements.
Roland wouldn't have been able to persuade the Truth Symposium no matter what if the mages hadn't been able to see this clearly. All agreements would be meaningless without sufficient benefits to support things.
Noah closed his eyes in considered things in silence. However, the senior archmages were actually communicating mentally in secret. Noah then opened his eyes after a while with a smile on his face.
"In that case, Little Lain, we old fogies will be bothering you youngsters for a while."
Lain paused in surprise, but then he was delighted to hear this. The senior archmages joining the battle would multiply the Truth Symposium's overall power by several times over.
Noah then secretly handed Lain a piece of paper over the table. The paper contained a special curse used for contacting.
"Perhaps you guys can use this. It's…"
Lain's eyes instantly widened and his heart nearly stopped when he heard the name that Noah told him. It turned out that the senior archmages had always kept on to the Mage Country's true ace without letting the new generation's inner circle members know anything.
The senior archmages then disappeared from the conference room. Only Noah and a few others remained behind to act as contact points. The Cloud Tower increased its speed now that it had gained a significant amount of combat strength, thus arriving quicker than expected on the battlefield.
When the archmages arrived and looked down from the Cloud Tower at the ongoing battles, even the most veteran archmages among them who had experienced countless battles started feeling fear and felt themselves fortunate that they had used the Cloud Tower.
The Cloud Tower entering battle represented more than half of the entire Mage Country's combat strength. The Mage Country was now fully invested in this battle for survival that they could only afford to win.
In the game's history, the Mage Country had been incredibly foolish and only entered the Holy War when things were far too late already. The core reason behind the Mage Country's change in attitude in the current timeline was all because of Roland.
When I saw the Cloud Tower arriving quicker than expected, I finally heaved a sigh of relief. Sophocles was far too difficult to deal with. Additionally, the abilities that Sophocles exposed here had proved one of my previous hypotheses.
"Sophocles, you're not actually a demon."