107. Undecided (5)
A state of emergency had been declared in the Demon Kingdom. Lome’s army had finally crossed their border. Alarm bells were ringing in every city, with notices being pasted everywhere.
Crowds of demons stood puzzled in front of the announcements. They couldn’t understand the common language of the continent used in them.
“What’s written here?”
When the demons called over a nearby human, the commotion attracted the attention of others. A moment later, everyone’s faces turned stiff.
“…I-it’s an invasion…! It says the Lome Kingdom has crossed the border!”
“An invasion? Ah, that’s right. It has been noisy recently. Something about war or whatever…”
“Is it starting again? The humans must be getting bored.”
The demons looked at each other and sighed. Their faces were filled with worry and concern, but it was a far cry from full-blown fear or panic.
Unlike the demons, the human that had read the announcement for them turned pale. His reaction was a good representation of how all of the humans that had found themselves living in the Demon Kingdom felt. To them, the invading human army spelled disaster.
“Dear God…! Even here we can’t escape war! Would they hunt us down too…!?”
“I knew it would get dangerous after that war against the Holy Kingdom!”
Seeing the man jumping around like an ant in a hot pan, one of the demons turned around and said,
“If you’re that scared, why not just hide in the forest…?”
“We also survived like that,” another demon chimed in.
Their words shocked the man, as he finally realized just how calm everyone around him was.
“You all, how can you be so calm? It’s war! War…! A war where you can die at any time…”
“It’s always been that way.”
The man was, once again, startled by the demon’s reply, as were other humans who had stopped once the news of the announcement had reached their ears.
“We’ve lived year after year in fear of being hunted by humans. Why would it be different now…?”
“It was rather nerve-wracking with such a long period of peace… It ended up blowing up, though.”
“Tell me about it… It was just too peaceful lately.”
“Then, should I bring some weapons from the house…? We should hide the kids in the forest, right?”
“Ah, about that, I heard the kingdom is going to be handing some out. Should we go?”
“For real…? They wouldn’t just give us some rusted short swords, right? We need proper weapons.”
The humans just couldn’t wrap their heads around the demons’ attitude. They were so calm, even with the news of imminent war. However, the demons couldn’t help but be this way since they had been suffering as little more than the humans’ plaything for thousands of years.
Furthermore, with each appearance of a new Demon Lord, the demons would become more united for a short time, only for the humans to come knocking once more. Even if there was peace, it would only last for half a year to a year at most, for as long as the Demon Lord lived. From the perspective of humans, demon-hunting was akin to a recreation; it was both profitable and a part of their political game.
“Clear the way-!”
The demons and humans standing in the street split apart to form a path in surprise. Amid the sounds of drums and trumpets, soldiers trained especially for the Demon Kingdom’s defense were marching in formations down the street.
Muscled bodies draped in crimson scale armor and large full-face helmets covering their heads; each of the races was outfitted with equipment that complimented their physical differences.
The Orcs all wore matching full-body armor and carried a slew of different melee weapons. The Goblins and Gnolls wore light armor, and carried bows, crossbows, and magic muskets. Most imposingly of all, the Ogres, Trolls, and Minotaurs were like walking fortresses, covered in the strongest and thickest sets of armor. The Centaurs wore the most unique looking armor—a mix between horse and human-styled armor—and were equipped with lances. They were even fitted with specially made horseshoes. Lastly, the Treos were carrying boulders upon their backs, their tree-like bodies making armor something quite difficult for them to wear.
Dignity could be felt in every powerful step each of them took, and their sharp gazes were filled bloodlust and the desire for combat that many demons inherently held. This was truly an army of a Demon Lord. It would be no overstatement to go as far as to call them the most powerful army on the continent.
“…A-amazing. I’ve heard that the Demon Lord’s army got powerful…but for them to be at this level!”
“Even the Allied Forces of the Hero won’t be able to win against this army.”
The humans were certainly amazed, and the other demons were no exception; they couldn’t hold back their praises for the army’s transformation. They were no longer a ramshackle band of demons with shabby equipment, but, rather, a highly trained force that would send fear into anyone standing across from them on the battlefield.
Karakul peered to his side while riding on the back of a Silver Wolf. There, Tom was riding alongside him upon his own Silver Wolf.
“…They say that the Kingdom of Lome is approaching the City of Twilight. They are definitely different from the Hero’s Allied Forces.”
“Are you nervous?”
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. A single mistake on my part means the slaughter of my kin.”
“The Hero’s Allied Forces might have been an easier foe. That army had an inexperienced commander. The Kingdom of Lome is known as the Land of Knights, which means there should be quite the number of battle-hardened knights who have gained considerable skill through years on the battlefield. This may be the hardest battle we’ve ever fought.”
Tom looked at the massive mountain ranges far off in the distance. He could see the twin ranges that appeared to be wrapping around the entirety of the Demon Kingdom, as well as the walls of the large city built right in the middle of the pass between them.
“…It’s a good thing that we completed the wall around the City of Twilight. Even the Kingdom of Lome wouldn’t dare attack us haphazardly with such defenses in place.”
Karakul stared at the wall that Tom was referring to. It had taken them four hours to reach the City of Twilight from the capital, which was around the same amount of time the Kingdom of Lome would need to prepare for their attack after arriving.
“… It’d be a relief if they haven’t already started attacking by the time we reach there, but…”
Tom was a bit worried about that point. The invasion had come much faster than he had anticipated. After hearing that the invaders had entered the Demon Kingdom, he had immediately gathered the army in the capital under his direct command and set out to stop them.
“But that won’t be a problem. Even if they throw everything they have at us to break through those walls, it would take them at least a week, not that the Lomian army would use such rash tactics. The outcome of this war is likely important to King Pygni, so they will take their time over a quick yet costly victory.”
Pygni sneezed. He rubbed the back of his hand across his nose and snuggled deeper into his fur coat. Looking at the sky, he saw the flurry of heavy snow which currently filled the air.
“…The snow is so heavy. It’s difficult enough with the thick clothes and the armor, but being buried under snow on top of that, it makes me want to die!”
Pygni brushed off the snow piling on his shoulders and head. He was currently at the pass into the Demon Kingdom, and had run into an unexpected obstacle: a massive wall. The soldiers of Lome all stared at it nervously, realizing that they would have to defeat such a structure, or die trying. Massive walls, the size of a human castle, rose floor by floor in between the mountain ranges. A monstrous steel gate befitting such a structure was the only visible entrance. It was such a solid and sturdy wall that it couldn’t have been built by human hands. No, it might be better to call it an artificial cliff, for Pygni had never even seen such a wall in all his life.
“…This…I was hoping to easily break through the border, but it’s looking a lot tougher than I imagined!”
While technically in the Demon kingdom, Pygmy was still in its outermost edges. Nothing of any strategic value was there, which meant that he couldn’t just turn back now. Knowing this, he let out a groan. He had thought that he’d be able to take a city with his 30,000 men and clear a path to the demon’s capital. If he had managed that, the war against the Demon Kingdom would have proceeded much more smoothly, and they would have taken the upper hand in any future negotiations. But…for there to be a wall so overwhelmingly tall… It was something that would have taken dozens of years for humans to construct.
“…Shit, just what happened here? Does it make any sense that they’d suddenly become so strong in such a short time?”
The demons had definitely changed after the Devil of Lania appeared and joined their side. The Hero’s Allied Army was destroyed, one of the Holy Empire’s army was practically wiped out, and their civilization was developing at a frightening pace. Pygni couldn’t help but get a stomach ache when faced with such an unfair situation.
“Ugh… my stomach is starting to hurt. Why did such a monster attach himself to a mere Demon Lord and not me? If he’d joined me, I’d have given him everything he wanted!”
Hearing Pygni’s voice, Oskal rode his horse toward him.
“…Please don’t say such things while I’m around, Your Majesty.”
Pygni turned to Oskal.
“Aah, you fight well, but your weakness is that you’re dumb. Comparably, the Devil of Lania’s strength sure is something, but he also looks like someone who got some gears spinning in his head… I still don’t understand how you’re going to be a legendary general heralded in history books.”
“…To say it so openly is too much, Your Highness. Strategy or whatever, you’re bound to win in a war if you have the strength.”
Pygni reached for his forehead at Oskal’s confident words.
“…As I thought, you’re far from being a legendary general. It’s just too much. I thought I’d conquer at least a single city, but it’s looking like we might end up entropy handed. The casualties we’ll sustain taking something like that will be too much to bear with the number of men we brought. No, even if we can’t topple walls like those, we should be able to break through the gate, right? We would need ladders to scale the walls…but with that height, it’ll take a few days to make them!”
“So, we can’t destroy them?”
“Nothing’s impossible. You’re here, after all,” Pygni said, pointing to Oskal.
“That’s true.” Oskal nodded and turned to the massive gate. “…Should I break down the gate?”
“You bastard, are you a monster? I meant that you should jump over the wall and open the gate… Were you perhaps thinking of breaking through—no, breaking it down? You’re going to break that steel gate that looks like it wouldn’t budge even if a dozen Ogres smashed it with all their might…?”
Oskal gripped the handle of the short blade around his waist.
“It’s not out of the question.”
“…Yes, now I realize. I realize why the enemy loses in every war that you participate in, regardless of how meticulous their strategy is or how sneaky their traps are.”
“I’ll take that compliment, Your Highness.”
Oskal’s lips curled as he laughed heartily. Pygni continued to look at Oskal before turning back to the front-most defensive position of the Demon Kingdom, the City of Twilight.
“A siege will bring a lot of casualties and take a lot of time…not to mention the men will need rest. In that case, let’s just…” Pygni’s lips curved into a smile. “Let’s begin the attack. Oskal, we’re going in.”
Oskal unsheathed his short sword upon hearing Pygni’s orders.
Large, feathery wings fluttered amid the heavy snowfall, and the humanoid demons with the wings and legs of a bird rose into the sky at high speeds. One of the Harpies looked down upon the army of Lome from high up in the clouds.
“…Wow, there are a lot, as expected. There’s an incredible number of humans here! Miss Skarni, what should we do?”
The Chief of the Harpies, and one of the Apostles of the Demon Lord, Skarni, frowned. Her eyes glared at the Lomian army before she let out a long sigh.
“Let’s just watch them and report the situation to the ground. There’s nothing we can do here. It’s not like we can do much fighting ourselves.”
Their two winged hands were meant for flying, so they were not suitable for combat. The claws on their feet were sharp, so it wasn’t like they were defenseless, but if they descended to attack, they would be easy targets. As they couldn’t even wear armor since it would just slow them down, they were all too weak against the arrows and spears. Hence, all they could do was fly in the sky and scout for those on the ground.
Suddenly, Skarni noticed strange movements from the Lomian Army. They were preparing their formations for an attack.
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