I was thinking.
We don\'t really have much time.
There\'s a war out there and your life force is cracked.
We have yet to assemble the body-swapping machine and make sure that it works.
If anything happens before that, it\'s over. Solus said.
It\'s over for me. Lith pointed out.
For us. She replied.
Don\'t pull a Xenagrosh on me, Solus.
I don\'t want to live with the burden of your life.
Mine is already heavy as it is. He said while holding her tight.
You are potentially immortal and I\'m fine with it.
I can\'t promise to be with you for the rest of your life.
I can only promise to be with you for the rest of my life.
That\'s more than enough for me. Solus said, falling into a sweet, peaceful slumber.
Solus needed time to get back to normal, but luckily, she had plenty.
A few days after Vastor\'s marriage, Ryssa the Dryad gave birth to Dhiral Manohar Marth.
The baby boy had light green skin and blonde hair in his dryad form while black hair streaked silver all over as a human.
The baby wailed to announce his birth, ignoring his father\'s attempts to calm him down while Marth cleaned Dhiral and wrapped him with a clean cloth.
At least until he heard his full name.
Then, he started to giggle.
I can\'t believe this. Professor Marth said amid tears.
You really did it, Manohar.
You beat even death.
I warn you, if this is really you, Krishna, I\'m going to beat your ass until adulthood.
Duke, those are not the first words that a father should tell his son. Ryssa managed to laugh despite the strain from the labor.
Welcome home, Manohar. Marth handed the baby to his wife, making him cry again.
Shush, my love.
Mommy is tired. She said, and the baby complied as soon as she put him against her bosom to feed him.
Lith laughed about it and so did everyone present, yet the fact that Dhiral Manohar Marth giggled every time he heard his second name and obeyed his mother, creeped them out more than Thrud.
The wedding and Ryssa giving birth were the only good things they enjoyed those days.
The Griffon Kingdom was in turmoil and for a good reason.
The war against the Mad Queen which was now known as the War of the Griffons, was nothing like those that had preceded it and the rules of the game were completely different as well.
The two armies couldn\'t use the Warp Gates to invade the enemy cities because the connection had to be established from both sides at the same time.
The Royal override didn\'t help since Thrud separated the Gates from their power source until her troops needed to use them.
She only held one-third of the Kingdom, yet time was on her side.
The country was still recovering from the famine and she had conquered the most fertile lands in the Kingdom, giving her the food advantage.
To make matters worse, while planning a battle, the Royal army had to be careful moving around cultivated fields.
Without crops, no matter who won the war, they would all starve.
It left the Royal army a limited space to maneuver and as long as the troops were near the fields, everyone was forbidden from using powerful spells.
Thrud used the crops to restrict the enemy movements, creating only a few possible pathways that made any strategy, no matter how brilliant, predictable.
On top of that, neither Thrud nor the Royals wanted to attack the civilians.
Without its people, the Kingdom would just be a bunch of land and empty houses.
The Mad Queen had learned her lesson from Jiera\'s devastation while the Royals wanted to avoid hurting people whose only crime was to have fallen for her lies.
The leaders of both armies knew that destroying city walls and murdering a lot of innocents would have played straight in the hand of the third parties that circled around the warring state like vultures, leaving it open for both internal and external invasion.
The Undead Courts were an enemy of both factions, at least on paper, and they would exploit the opening to conquer the weakened cities and establish a third player in that war.
Thrud didn\'t trust Orpal and wanted to keep him from getting a territory of his own, yet she couldn\'t stop his advance either.
As the Dead King loved to remind her, the Undead Courts going easy only on her side of the field would have revealed their alliance.
She still needed his help to both keep the conquered cities from rebelling and the Royals on their toes.
The Undead Courts regularly attacked both factions, forcing her citizens to rely on her protection and limiting the formation of pockets of resistance.
As for the Royals, the Undead Courts were a constant thorn in their side that made it impossible for them to fully commit their forces.
The undead attacks were brief, but violent and bloody.
They retreated as soon as they understood they couldn\'t win and kept slaughtering people until a sufficient force was deployed.
Orpal used this strategy to probe both factions for weak points and to give his troops the feeding of a lifetime.
During a war, the Undead Courts thrived and their strength grew the more blood was spilled.
They were the internal force that threatened the Kingdom.
From the outside, the troops of the Desert and especially those of the Empire had become restless ever since the War of the Griffons had broken out.
Even the small nearby countries were ready to expand their respective territories at the first sign of weakness.
Salaark was still against a full-scale invasion, but she had no objection to her Feathers\' proposal to conquer the fertile lands at the borders and their rivers.
It would keep her troops sharp and show her the real talent of her generals.
She kept herself out of it, more interested in checking the results of her hard work than in kicking an old enemy while they were already down.
As for Milea, she had no such qualms.
She kept the Imperial army always ready to invade the Kingdom and waited for an opportunity to strike.
Unfortunately for her, Thrud and the Royals didn\'t want to share their fief and had reached a truce regarding the borders.
As soon as an external force attacked, they would cease hostilities and fight the invaders together.
At first, the Royals had hoped that accepting the deal so readily had been a blunder on Thrud\'s side.
That letting her forces go to the frontlines would give them the opportunity to study her tactics and weaken her army at the same time.
Yet Thrud considered their move to be a naïve blunder that she could exploit as well.
The areas at the borders were surrounded by elemental sealings arrays from either side, making alchemical tools of paramount importance for fake mages.
Her troops, however, were comprised solely of Awakened mages.
While the Royals, Milea, and her troops stared in horror at the Emperor Beasts unleashing one Spirit Spell after another, ignoring the magical formations, the soldiers of the Kingdom looked at the Mad Queen in awe.
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