115. Winners and Losers (2)
“…Hah, Haha. They’re more intense than I expected. These guys are on a different level compared to those bastards from the fortress city?”
Pygni, who normally kept his cool regardless of the situation, was genuinely shocked—and his words showed it. He had yet to see the entirety of the Demon Lord’s army, as they were too far away to see clearly, but just the hostility radiating from them made him feel goosebumps. The fuzz on his skin shot up and he even felt a chill run down his spine. It was a kind of primal fear that he hadn’t felt in a long, long time.
‘After obtaining Oskal, I didn’t think I’d feel like this ever again. I never imagined demons would be the ones to remind me of it! I didn’t expect them to set up an encampment so close to us… Just what were the scouts doing…is what I want to say, but I lost all contact with them.’
They were most likely hunted down by Gnolls.
Pygni rubbed his chubby chin as he thought over his current predicament.
“Did I move too hastily?”
He’d moved his army too quickly, not giving his men the time to acquire proper information before their advance, and, for that, a feeling of regret washed over him. Pygmy now wished that he had sent out more scouts and waited before continuing deeper into the demons’ lands, as news of a fort like the one now standing before them would have been crucial to ensuring their victory. Now, his soldiers were forced to stand and wait before the enemy and suffer under their intimidation tactics. If this continued for much longer, it would be a huge problem for morale.
‘If we lose here, my authority will plummet.’
It was a gamble. If the Devil of Lania was waiting for them among the throng of monsters, victory was far from assured. However, if the Devil of Lania wasn’t there, they would be able to overcome the Demon Lord’s army with Oskal’s help.
‘If we win, the army’s morale as well as my authority will increase.’
“But…ung! The Devil of Lania remains our greatest threat!”
He had to make a decision now. One the battle started, it would be too late to even consider retreat—amidst what was guaranteed to be a chaotic brawl—without sustaining massive losses. Without a doubt, Pygmy knew that those dumb monsters would chase down fleeing men like a predator chasing their prey. Knowing this, Pygmy remained deep in thought. Should he fight? Should he retreat? Both options were being weighed over and over without a clear winner.
“They are quite fearsome.”
Those sudden words from Oskal broke Pygni’s concentration.
He turned in who all of his hopes were placed and saw that, rather than being nervous, he was looking at the enemy army like a child would look at a new toy..
“Even then, aren’t they just dumb brutes? They’re little more than training dummies for our knights to practice their skills on.”
“They might look that way to you, but your standards are so far from those of the average person that it’s not even worth comparing. Our opponents aren’t simply monsters, but monsters that have been trained as soldiers.”
“Even if they received military training…” Oskal shrugged nonchalantly. “An army of 20,000 won’t lose to a mere thousand monsters playing pretend. Our knights are known to be the most skilled of any on the entire continent. Why not put some faith in them too?”
The knights near enough to hear Oskal’s words were shocked, and quickly studied the enemy encampment with renewed vigor. It was hard to tell exactly due to the distance, but it was true that the size of the makeshift fort, as well as the force manning it, were small. If everything was as Oskal said, the Kingdom of Lome could obtain overwhelming victory in a frontal assault. Convinced by Oskal’s logic, they instantly felt relieved, and the fear that had taken hold of them dissipated. As Oskal’s words travelled by word-of-mouth, soon enough the entire army was back in high spirits.
Seeing this, Pygni gave Oskal a sidelong glance while sighing.
‘Ah, this bastard. It’s not like he was trying to, but he calmed them down so easily. Is it due to our difference in experience on the battlefield?’
When it came to inspiring his men and alleviating their fear, Pygmy didn’t know what to do. All he could do to raise morale was to participate in the battle himself.
Oskal turned to Pygni and asked,
“What will you do? Are you going to pull back the men?”
“Am I going to pull back the men? Oskal, because of your proclamation, it’d be hard for me to convince even one of them to retreat.”
He couldn’t pull the men after he had all but assured victory. Pygni looked at Oskal before shaking his head and sighing.
“… What do you think? Do you think the Devil of Lania is there?”
“That’s not something I can know. Won’t we find out once we fight?”
“I’m saying that it’ll be too late at that point. It was my mistake to even ask you.”
Pygni crossed his arms. Currently, the enemy was simply watching them without moving. It was a very contemplative action. If the Devil of Lania had been there, they wouldn’t have to remain so passive out of fear for someone like Oskal.
‘… Is the Devil of Lania not there?’
Pygni believed that they would have definitely attacked if the Devil of Lania was with them as the Devil of Lania, from their perspective, was practically an army in of himself. More than anything, with him being a monster capable of facing the Holy Kingdom on his own, an army made of mere demons like that wouldn’t be needed.
‘Is battle the only way to know for sure? …If we pull out without an obvious cause in this situation, it could be perceived as cowardly.’
The enemy was likely around 2000 demons strong, no more than 3000. Certainly, it was true that even with such small numbers, each of those soldiers were fearsome monsters in their own right. However, even knowing this, Pygmy felt that regardless of how powerful the enemy was, a battle between 20,000 of his men and 3000 demons had only a single conclusion. Yes, if they ran now, everyone would accuse them of having fled with guaranteed victory before them.
‘Also, it’ll hurt my pride.’
All they could do was face it head-on. The Hero’s party would have infiltrated the capital safely by now, and it was the job of the Army of Lome who kept the demons’ attention focused on them.
“…How are the siege weaponry on our side?”
“We have catapults…but those bastards are too far away. We’ll have to get closer if you want to use them.”
“Mm… According to reports, I’ve heard that they purchased some siege type cannons from the Kingdom of Aylans? Were they called Magic Cannons? Those Magic Muskets are dangerous as well, but just one of those cannons is much worse. They’ll blow everyone away.”
‘These bastards. I haven’t seen any Magic Cannons or Magic Muskets in the fortress, which means…’ Pygni smiled. ‘They either don’t know how to use them, or they must still be learning how.’
Then this was a good opportunity. It felt like the Kingdom of Lome had lost their most critical weakness.
“In any case, we have to draw their attention, so…lightly…”
Pygni raised his hand, and Oskal marched forward. As he pulled his sword from his sheath and raised it into the air, the knights began marching behind him, all of their steps in sync. The ground rumbled with the footfalls of thousands.
When Pygni lowered his hand, Oskal waved his sword.
“The command has fallen! Prideful knights of Lome! Hunt those monsters-!”
The soldiers of Lome began to move quicker. The knights were at the front of the charge, with the soldiers following en masse behind them.
“Cavalry-! Wedge formation!”
The cavalry took the lead and raised their mounted lances. The pointed tips of their weapons gleaned sharply. With so many men moving at once, the snow covering the meadow was flung about, creating a sort of powdery fog.
“Take a deep breath! Show them the pride of knights!”
“Don’t fear those bastards-!”
“Hunt the Demons-!”
When the Lome army moved and approached the encampment, the demons turned their eyes toward Karakul, who was in command of them. Karakul could see the enemy fast approaching. The rear was a bit slow, mainly because moving their siege weapons through the snow was proving to be a challenge.
“Ey, what are you going to do, Karakul.”
Karakul rubbed his chin in response to Allen’s question. As he carefully thought to himself, he turned to the Goblins.
“Kyahahaha! We’ll show you our accuracy!”
“It’s time for us to play as well!”
The uniquely thin and playful voices of the Goblins rang out as they moved quickly. They struggled to move the massive steel cannon, and slowly aimed it at the knights approaching them from the front. The goblins loaded the Magic Stone with a steel rod, ensuring that it wouldn’t explode, then raised a flag, indicating that preparations were complete.
“We’re firing! Cover your ears!”
The goblins covered their ears as they pulled the rope that acted as its trigger.
With an explosive sound, the Magic Cannon sprayed a beam light into the air. That single ball of condensed mana rose high into the sky, before breaking apart into dozens of smaller shots, which rained down like meteors.
Pygni was surprised by their unexpected attack. Could it be that they knew how to use it? Then why didn’t they station any at the fortress!?
‘…Is it not that they didn’t want to, but that they couldn’t?’
It could have been that the demons who kinew how to use the weapon were limited, so they were kept in the reserves. However,that didn’t matter now. The Magic Cannon was fearsome on the battlefield, but that was against dense armies or those that weren’t agile enough to evade the attack.
“It’s a Magic Cannon!”
The army split apart and scattered in an orderly manner, everyone getting away from where the shots would fall. As they ran, the falling shots finally reached the ground, causing violent explosions across the area where the bulk of Lome’s army had been.
The Knights narrowly evaded the attack and even many of the soldiers managed to dodge the explosion of mana coming from the sky, though there were still casualties. Due to the wide area that the Magic Cannon was capable of striking, many soldiers were unable to escape in time.
“Those humans are quite agile. It would have been more exciting if they could have moved like that during the battle with the Hero’s Allied Force… Well, they were in the middle of battle at that point, so I guess it can’t be helped?”
When Karakul admired them, Hecaron frowned.
“The enemy is approaching. Shouldn’t we stop them?”
“That is true.”
Hecaron frowned at Karakul’s leisurely tone. Now, the Ogres moved forward and raised their Ballistas. As they fired them, the approaching knights and soldiers were being torn apart.
With incredible speed and destructive force, a single hit was enough to kill. Many times, even, would one shot kill several men, ripping through the first and skewering those behind.
“Now, it’s time for us Treos to step up.”
“Let us show them our might!”
The Treos grabbed large boulders with both hands and slowly rotated their bodies, building up momentum before throwing them toward the enemy. The boulders lingered in the air as they flew in an arc.
“No, that’s not something shields can block!”
The soldiers of the Kingdom of Lome looked toward the sky and frantically scattered once more. The boulders crushed anyone in their path as they continued rolling after landing. The ballistas, the boulders, and even the Magic Cannon…they continued to rain down on the attackers in an endless barrage. The casualties the Kingdom of Lome was suffering from simply approaching the demons were unimaginable. Countless men had been slain by the demons’ ranged attacks, but they were definitely making progress. The distance between the army of the Demon Kingdom and the Army of Lome was closing. They were now close enough that Lome’s archers could fire upon the demons.
The archers of the Lome Kingdom nocked their arrows as they ran, then raised their bows and pulled back the string in one swift motion. Hundreds of arrows were fired simultaneously, all of them raining down toward the demons.
The Orcs hurriedly raised their shields. The arrows struck the steel shields and bounced off harmlessly. Seeing this, the knights and soldiers still running with all their might grimaced.
“Those bastards…are properly trained!?”
“It doesn’t matter! If we can fight them face-to-face, we shall win! If we draw out time fighting them, the main army will arrive! We are superior in numbers!”
It wasn’t just the soldiers of Lome that believed this. Skarni, who was watching the situation from the sky, was grinding her teeth watching the formation of the demon army. Behind the 3000 strong vanguard, there were still 17000 soldiers of Lome waiting to charge.
“What are they doing?! At this rate, they’ll lose!”
Karakul crossed his arms and tilted his head. He looked at the knights as though something was lacking.
They were still gradually approaching.
“Ey! Karakul! Just send me out! Our Minotaur platoon will sweep them away!” Allen shouted impatiently.
“Or send me! Us Centaurs will crush them beneath our hooves…!”
Karakul opened his mouth to speak.
“Hecaron, Allen, prepare to charge.”
When Allen spoke excitedly and Hecaron nodded, Karakul continued.
“I’m saying, when I give the command. Until then, please stand by.”
“What? The bastards are right in front of our noses! They aren’t even faltering!”
“Karakul, at this rate…!”
Krakul replied to Allen and Hecaron’s urging.
“Yes, at this rate…’ There was a change in Karakul’s expressionless face. He smiled as his eyes glared at the knights with the eyes of a predator. “…We’ll brutally slaughter the vanguard army.”
— Ω —