291 Maya, The Bookworm
During the night, Elizabeth led her army and rejoined with the army led by Aria and Lynne as they marched onward, towards the Valaran Kingdom.
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The bulk of their army comprised of 30 thousand mixed Durham-Valaran soldiers with only a few leading Crawford soldiers to command them, while the rest were left behind to guard the kingdom.
On the following morning, they have passed through three regional cities as they pressed onwards toward the king city of the Valaran Kingdom.
Surprisingly, during the three regional cities passed, no battle took place. As they arrived at each regional city, they had found the city gate wide open with people welcoming them with heartwarming cheers and joy.
There were no traps, no schemes, and no defenses.
They found that at the center of each city was a pile of unrecognizable burnt corpses that supposedly belonged to the members of the Bloodfiend Sect.
They encountered no enemy and no resistance. Everyone that should have been killed, had already been killed. All that was left was the heartfelt reunion of soldiers with their families.
The army grew smaller with each passing city, but Elizabeth paid no heed to this. Not everyone in the army was a trained veteran. They were just ordinary folks who were forced into conscription for the war, and Elizabeth had no way feeding all these people.
Elizabeth was far from the Capital and had no way of knowing of the elves' visit and submission. If she knew of the elves' capability, she would have had other plans for the Valaran Kingdom.
By the time they left the third city, the army was already reduced to 25 thousand, but such an army was still powerful enough to travel through the kingdom unhindered when accompanied by a Transcendent.
The Valaran Kingdom was not as big as the Crawford Kingdom and had fewer cities. Still, unlike the Capital, the king city of the Valaran Kingdom was much more significant, with a large population of 200 thousand people.
This information was willingly provided by the Valaran soldiers in their army. Elizabeth was made aware that the Valaran Kingdom had no troops left to defend themselves.
Everyone had been sent out for the war enforced by the sect. Even if they still had people to recruit, they no longer had the tools of war to equip the new soldiers.
But even if the Valaran Kingdom had the resource for war, they would not want to continue the fight. To begin with, this was not something they had wished for, but one forced upon them by the Bloodfiend Sect.
Inside of a slow-moving military truck, Elizabeth sat comfortably along with Aria and Lynne by her side. They were the only three people on the back of this military truck, and there was a little table in front of them with an old, outdated map of the Human Domain.
Several objects were placed on top of the map, representing various placements of troops, kingdoms, and known sects.
"What are your thoughts on the last three cities we have passed? Do you think the king city will be the same and have their city gate open wide for us to enter?" Elizabeth quietly asked the two girls.
Aria thought hard on the matter, but Lynne had quickly come up with an answer and spoke, "I think the enemy is plotting to reduce our numbers and lower our guard. We had no way of identifying those corpses and could not simply believe in the local people's words. For all we know, those corpses could just be the corpses of random civilians, and the enemy had made them lie to us."
"This kingdom has a terrible history of living under the Bloodfiend Sect's tyranny. The people's fear of the sect is deep-rooted. It should not be easy for the people to step out of the sect's shadow. The enemy is most likely waiting for us to walk into their trap at king city."
"Lynne's reasoning is quite sound and logical." Elizabeth shortly praised with no additional comments and turned to Aria. "What about you, Aria? Do you have anything to add, or do you have a differing view?"
"I think the king city will still welcome us with their city gates wide open like the last three cities we have passed. The Bloodfiend Sect is most likely no more…" Aria said with slight hesitation.
Elizabeth was intrigued by Aria's answer as it seemed to coincide with her own.
"Oh? What makes you say that? Why don't you elaborate for us?" Elizabeth said with a smile.
Aria wore a difficult expression as she tried to piece together her thoughts. Soon, she slowly spoke, "The Bloodfiend Sect had mobilized a large part of their forces for this war and suffered heavy losses, making them the weakest they have ever been. If the Valaran royal family ever wanted to free themselves and their people from the sect's tyranny, now would be their best chance to retaliate."
"But if the Valaran royal family were strong enough to free themselves on their own, they would not have fallen under the sect's control so easily… unless another major sect had intervened and helped them out… like the Burning Heaven Sect from the neighboring Ishaan Kingdom, for example."
Aria finished off her speaking while pointing to the Ishaan Kingdom on the map.
Elizabeth had a big smile on her face as she gave Aria bigger praises. "Excellent, Aria. You did not neglect the other neighboring kingdoms that might partake in this war."
"My thoughts are the same. We must not ignore this possibility. If the Burning Heaven Sect had joined into the fray, we have to consider whether they are friends or foes." Elizabeth added.
"Considering how the other two sects are like and the timing of their participation, I feel like they are more likely to be our enemy…" Aria said with glum.
"That's right. They could be playing the fisherman to reap the benefits after our two sides weaken each other." Elizabeth agreed before her eye flashed with a sharp look. "But if they think they can profit from our conflict, they are going to be sorry for it."
Lynne felt that her answer was very good, but after hearing the exchange between Aria and Leon's mother, she became dejected.
Elizabeth had noticed and began to console her, "Don't feel too down. You might not be wrong. Everything is still just a possibility. We don't know anything until we receive more intel or arrive at king city."
What she really wanted to say was that Lynne's answer was good, except she needed to widen her scope. To not focus on just the box, but to also consider the possibilities outside the box. However, if she said that, she felt that it would have run counteractive to her consolation.
Capital, Royal Palace.
Leon awoke to the bright sunlight of the day and found himself within his private bedroom.
He briefly took a few moments to recall the previous night and remembered that after returning to the palace, he treated everyone and became too tired he fell asleep on the spot.
Leon got out of bed and did a long stretch. It felt like he had not gotten a night of good sleep in such a long time. This was all due to him ingesting a Spiritual Replenishment Pill before falling asleep.
He was fully rested and in full spirit.
Stepping outside the bedroom, Leon summoned a shadowguard.
"You called for me, Your Highness?"
"En, any news from Lost Isle Alley overnight?"
"A few people had been drawn over by the sudden appearance of the wall, but they were shooed away by the team. Apart from that, there had been no further updates, Your Highness."
"Very well. You may leave."
"Yes, Your Highness."
After the shadowguard returned to his hidden post, Leon fished out a Fasting Pill to satiate his hunger after feeling his stomach rumble.
Afterward, he found himself a nice shady spot in the courtyard to sit to peruse over the array and two formations he recorded in his memory.
As he sat down and closed his eyes, there was a nudge in his mind. It was a calling from the Divine Book's artifact spirit, Maya.
It was rare for the artifact spirit to contact him when it had been so preoccupied with reading through the mountain of books dumped inside.
Leon shortly entered the Worldspace with a single thought and found a grumpy Maya sitting on top of the mountain of books.
"What's up with you? Why do you look so grumpy?"
"There's nothing left to read."
"What do you mean there's nothing left to read? You're literally sitting on a mountain of them." Leon said with mild surprise.
"I've already finished reading all of them." Maya harrumphed.
"All of them?"
"All of them!"
Leon stared at Maya in shock. There were several thousand books in the Worldspace, and it had been about a week or two since the artifact spirit recovered enough to be conscious. What kind of reading speed was this?
"Why don't you read the things from the Archive then? That would keep you busy for a long time." Leon suggested.
"Those aren't books. They are not interesting enough to read. Also, I am the artifact spirit of this place. I can access all the information from there anytime." Maya said in a snarky manner.
"How are they not books? They might not be physical copies like these, but they are all containers of knowledge. Exactly what kind of book would you find interesting?"
Leon was confused.
Maya gave Leon a sidelong glance and toss a book over. She said, "I want to read those kinds of books."
Leon flipped open the book for a quick skim, and his jaw quickly dropped. He soon swept the mountain of books and realized that a third of them were all storybooks.
"Alright, I understand now. I'll find some time to bring you more of these kinds of books." Leon said while rubbing his forehead as he found out what kind of books the artifact spirit had gotten hooked into reading.
'A spiritual entity needs its share of spiritual fulfillment, huh?'
Leon shook his head.
Taking this chance when the artifact spirit was not busy, he should try to get it to cough up some more incredible techniques.