109. Undecided (7)
The gate exploded, causing the Ogres and Trolls behind it to fly back. As it burst open, Lome’s knights orderly loosened their shield formation and pulled out their swords.
With a roar, the knights poured in like a flood. Despite their heavy plate armor, they swiftly infiltrated the castle.
“Demons-! Don’t fear these puny humans! For Her Highness, the Demon Lord-!”
The Orcs also pulled out their weapons. Amid the cacophony of noise, a wave of silver clashed against a crimson mob.
“The Lord-! Bring out the Lord-!”
“C-captain, are you okay? You’re burning quite badly!”
The knights rushing toward Oskal shouted in a panic. They carried with them a pot filled with Holy Water to pour over him. As the oil was cleanly washed away, the flames also subsided. His wounds, although slowly, began to heal.
Oskal breathed roughly while pulling out the bolts from his body. The stinging sensation made him wince.
“…That stings… It really hurts! I don’t think I’ve ever been this wounded in any battlefield I’ve joined so far… These guys are quite something! I feel like they might be much stronger than the armies of humanity?”
Oskal was genuinely impressed at the demon’s fighting prowess. Despite that, his eyes grew wide.
The knights’ sturdy suits of armor were torn away like paper under the Orcs’ massive axes. They dexterously swung their weapons, despite the weight of their heavy armor, to prevent the knights’ assault.
The Orcs then formed a shield formation and, all too easily, fended off multiple waves of knights. What made it most difficult for the knights was that the Orcs’ armor prevented their swords from properly digging into them. Despite their large numbers, the soldiers of Lome were being pushed back.
“…Each piece of their equipment appears to be made by a master, but it’s not just their weapons. Their skills are also quite outstanding.”
Why was the Kingdom of Lome called the Kingdom of Knights? The Order of Knights that they lead was outstanding enough to be considered the most powerful, excluding the Order of the Golden Cross. Yet, even they were being pushed back? It was truly a chilling sight.
When the Ogres and Trolls swung their huge maces, the knights screamed as they were launched into the air. The ground trembled under their feet, forcing the knights to create some distance and attack with arrows or spears. However, their thick armor protected them from any critical blows.
Noticing their unfavorable position, Oskal began to loosen his arm.
“Okay, now I should—” A fist-sized snowball struck Oskal on the back of his head.
“That’s fine and all, but pull back for now. Recovery comes first. Bathe in Holy Water, drink some potions like you drink wine, and then come back, Oskal.”
Pygni threw another premade snowball at Oskal. His leather armor had all been burned away, and although he had used Holy Water, his recovery was slow. His body was still severely burned.
Pygni threw snowballs at the thick layer of heat emanating from Oskal despite the already extinguished flames. As soon as the ball of snow touched his flesh, it melted away in a puff of steam.
“Cool your body a bit. If you don’t recover, this battle will only get tougher for the rest of us. You’re our hidden card to face off against the Devil of Lania. Don’t fall behind by fighting in a wounded state.”
“I won’t die by just this much.”
“The story will be different once the Devil of Lania appears! Just heal up quickly. Ey! Properly heal your Captain! If you refuse, I’ll take your head!”
The Royal Knights quickly approached Oskal and dragged him away, back toward their encampment. Pygni’s gaze then turned to the fortress. When he crossed the gate’s threshold, he could hear the sound of weapons clashing and smell the stench of blood.
Pygni headed toward the center of the Orcs’ and Knights’ battlefield.
“Your Highness! It’s dangerous!”
“Please hide yourself!”
The Royal Knights desperately cried after him with their shields in hand. Pygni, seeing these knights, just smirked. His mischievous actions struck the knights with fear.
“If it’s dangerous, protect me properly. I’ll charge you if even a single strand of my hair is damaged! Now, now! My loyal knights! Let us join the battle!”
“…You’re talking about it as though it’s so easy.”
“Show the prowess of the Royal Knights of the Kingdom of Lome,” Pygni said before turning back to the City of Twilight. “In any case, a nation of savages? Heretics? Hah, it’s too much to call them that now. This is a great and powerful civilization.”
Using the mountain range as the foundation, tall houses here were stacked high. He could also see the stairs for climbing up and down from those buildings. Even if he gathered the most skilled builders within the Kingdom of Lome, none could cut a mountain range, construct houses there, and build stairs to accommodate them.
“They built houses using the mountain range. So, they didn’t gather all the Dwarves within the continent for the past few months just for the weapons?”
Weapons were great, but, as it appeared, they had exerted quite some effort in reinforcing their wall and other infrastructure as well. If it wasn’t for Oskal, they might have been at the risk of defeat, even with 30,000 men.
‘My… I should send a hawk to dispatch 20,000 more men. At this rate, it’ll be significantly dangerous.’
“…The Orcs appear quite skillful as well. Are they stronger than our knights? The average soldier wouldn’t be able to handle them.”
The Orcs didn’t turn their back and flee or cower from the enemy’s superior numbers. Instead, they gathered in a circular formation to defend themselves. There were only around 1500 defenders stationed in the City of Twilight… Yet, despite facing 10,000 men of the 30,000 strong army, they weren’t being pushed back. Rather, hundreds of soldiers and knights from Lome were being slaughtered wholesale.
“…How could a civilization develop so rapidly in such a short time? This feels strange, as though there’s some magic at play.”
Pygni looked around. Every enemy he could see were all demons; there wasn’t a single human in sight.
‘…So, the Kingdom of Aylans didn’t participate, as expected. Well, it’s also complicated on their side.’
The Demon Kingdom and Aylans were in an alliance, but the Kingdom of Lome had formally declared war against the Demon Kingdom only. Unless the demons directly asked for aid, it would become a problem if the Kingdom of Aylans intervened in the war. The Kingdom of Aylans might have sent supplies to help them, but they couldn’t dispatch soldiers.
‘Looking at it, it seems like the demons want to show off their might. They want to boast to the continent to an absurd degree. They’re practically saying, ‘Even if we’re a threat, don’t touch us!’’
As such, this war would have meaning for them as well. Their notoriety would rise significantly if they managed to win against the Kingdom of Lome on their own.
‘It’s just the hallmark of a new kingdom desperately wanting recognition throughout the continent.’
“Also, should I be relieved that the Devil of Lania isn’t here as I expected?”
In Pygni’s mind, the Devil of Lania was the true center of the Demon Kingdom. The ruler of demons was the Demon Lord, but, obviously, the main driving force of the kingdom would revolve around the movements of that devil. From that perspective, the Devil of Lania manipulating the Demon Lord from the shadows was highly probable.
‘Yes, almost like a puppet!’
“I don’t know what his objective is…but he has indeed flipped the logic of this world over. If it wasn’t for his involvement, the Kingdom of Aylans wouldn’t have fallen and Pope Salem’s madness wouldn’t have spread to this degree. So”—Pygni smiled cruelly—“I’ll have to have you take responsibility.”
The fortress of the City of Twilight was sturdy, but due to Lome’s sheer numbers, the defenders were slowly being forced back. The Orcs panted, their stamina running dry. The Orc General gripped his sword and maintained the formation with his shield in hand.
“Fire the arrows!”
Like a precise machine, the knights retreated a few paces and let loose their arrows. The Orcs tried their best to endure, but they had reached their limits.
“Shit! Those cowardly bastards! If you’re going to attack, do it like a man!”
“Fire our crossbows as well!”
“No, we’re out of bolts.”
“…Those bastards, they’re experienced at fighting. They want to drain our stamina. Planning on killing us slowly without casualties, huh?”
“General, let’s just release the formation and charge! It’ll be dangerous at this rate!”
The General groaned under the shouting of the Orcs. Steel clashing could be heard from every direction, and the corpses of both the Orcs and the Knights were littered everywhere. As time passed, the knights learned how to deal with the Orcs and maintained some distance against their formation. They had chosen to employ a kiting tactic.
Those Orcs who still had a bolt left pulled out their crossbows and fired, but their opponents used their full-body shields to defend themselves. When the inverse happened, the Orcs blocked as well. Only, the Orcs were at a disadvantage, as Lome’s army was able to rotate their men. They could replenish their stock before rejoining the formation.
On the other hand, the Orcs couldn’t break their formation and had to use up the provided bolts. The Orc General was well aware of how dangerous the current situation was.
“…No! We keep buying time! The Apostles will be arriving any time now! Four more hours… if we can endure for that long…!”
The Orc General’s eyes were drawn to a certain place. He saw a person guarded by the knights leisurely riding upon his horse. He was a plump human covered in a hide cloth and a luxuriously golden armor. The human smiled cruelly with arrogance and pride, as though this war merely his entertainment.
‘…The commander…of those bastards?’
The other party locked eyes with the Orc General. The human, Pygni, arched his brow, as if contemplating something.
‘…The Orc’s commander? Mmm, if we delay too much here, reinforcements from other places will arrive. I can’t be quite sure that the Devil of Lania will not come here. The other side also couldn’t have imagined that we’d invade this place in four hours, after all.’
He had to finish this as quickly as possible. He had to take over this fortress, re-equip his men, and prepare for the demons’ counterattack.
‘Then…should I toss out some bait?’
With a smile full of mischief, he hollered at the top of his lungs.
“The ruler of the Great Kingdom of Lome! The current King, Pygni, commands you! Sweep away those filthy demons… And make this city mine-!”
The eyes of the Orc General grew wide as saucers. He wasn’t a mere commander but the ‘King’ of Lome!? The Orc general bit down, as if he wanted to crush his own teeth. His bloodshot eyes glared at Pygni. The King himself stepped into battle? In the most dangerous vanguard at that…?
Normally, an Orc General might admire that bravery, but the current General was different. Seeing him bouncing about with security and wandering around so leisurely made him quite distasteful. The fact that he appeared to see the battlefield as his playground was bothering him quite a bit. How much had he looked down on them to show such arrogance…!?
“…Change of plans. I wanted to buy as much time by holding out, but”—The Orc General gripped the handle of his sword and glared at Pygni—“Right now, get that human! If we can just get him, it will be our victory!”
“Pour forth your energy! Let out your roars! Kaaawoooh-!”
The Orc General let out a monstrous roar before bolting toward Pygni. The knights tried to stop him, but the General’s sword cut apart everything in his path.
“Get out of my way-!”
His massive blade snapped swords and armor alike like branches. He pushed away the knights approaching him from the side and tossed them back with his fists. The other Orcs also loosened their formation to follow him.
“Follow the General-!”
The Orcs charged ahead. Their heavy steps gained speed as they shoved the knights away and tore through their formation.
“P-protect His Highness!”
“Don’t fear these Orcs!”
The knights raised their spears in a hurry. They dug their feet into the ground to gain a foothold while steadying their shields. Pygni, hiding behind them, held his cruel smile and watched the General. He was taunting him, as to say ‘break through if you can’. Seeing his blatant disregard, the veins on the general’s forehead popped.
The Orc General kicked off the ground, flew into the sky, and threw the sword in his hand toward Pygni.
Pygni, caught off guard, floundered with the reins in his hand. To think he’d throw away his sword…!? It was something unthinkable for the knights. And for Pygni, who had never considered such an action, he was all too shocked. Not only that, but the stupidly large sword was spinning quite nicely as it flew toward his face. At this rate…
Pygni froze. Before the spinning sword could hit its target, sparks flew as it was deflected.
— Ω —