156. Allies (16)
“T-the Demon Lord, kill the Demon Lord! Archers to the front!”
The Golden Cross Army all aimed their bows. Behind them, the priests chanted their spells, imbuing the arrows with Holy Power.
With a whistling sound, the arrows hurtled toward the woman in red armor, but the sharp arrowheads broke off against the sturdy shields.
“Grand Formation, Star Turtle!”
“Protect… Her Highness!”
The Ogres’ muscular bodies were wrapped in thick plate armor. Even still, as though just this was not enough, they also had massive shields exceeding their armors. The mountains of flesh provided an impenetrable defense as they surrounded Demon Lord, Lily Golt. When they moved, the paved streets cracked, and fragments of stone flew around as the earth rumbled. It was a singularly moving shield—no, a castle wall itself.
The armored wall had encircled Lily. The faces of the Golden Cross Army twitched, and they took a step back.
“F-fire off some magic!”
The rain of arrows and magic imbued with Holy Power continued. Under the relentless barrage, the shields made of plated armor trembled and cracked, but they did not break.
The Ogre in charge of Lily’s security, Kuman, shouted. The remaining Ogres opened their shields, and massive modified Ballistae reared their heads, aiming at the Golden Cross Army. With only a single volley, dozens of Golden Cross Soldiers were torn to shreds.
“Shit! It’s too much! Retreat!”
Without any surprise, the Golden Cross Soldiers abandoned the fight and fled.
“Trample them. Make them unable to pick up a weapon again!”
The Ogres put down their shields and loosened their formation. It was the Centaurs’ time to shine. The cavalry raised their lances and charged at the fleeing soldiers while slaughtering the defenseless priests. They reaped the lives of the Golden Cross Army like farmers harvesting their crops.
Countless Demon soldiers stomped across the corpses wearing golden armor. Lily Golt gazed at the sword in her hand; it was stained red. She had also participated in the battle and cut down countless nameless soldiers.
‘How many have I killed?’
Lily, recalling the expressions of the humans as they died, gritted her teeth.
“First time’s always the worst, Your Highness.”
Lily turned to Ellin, who was protecting her. The over-two-meter greatsword was also drenched in blood. At the very least, she must have cut down more enemies than Lily. Seeing Ellin, Lily gave a bitter smile.
“I know. I have to hold it, though. This war is to make sure that there won’t be such sacrifices in the future.”
Lily turned her gaze toward the distant palace. Pope Salem had to be there. If she could capture Salem, this war would end.
Ellin shook her head while searching her surroundings. She had been preoccupied with protecting Lily and had lost sight of him.
‘Where is Tom…?’
She couldn’t find him. Someone like him with the power to overwhelm anyone in battle would definitely be conspicuous while fighting. However, she couldn’t see him among the remaining Golden Cross Soldiers fighting with the Demons around them.
Her eyes turned to the palace entrance.
Akareal lost her words at the sight of Salem. She couldn’t fathom his words of ‘saving her’ as justifying this war, killing countless people, and endangering her own life with abuse and violence. He even strutted out his neck as though particularly proud of it. However, blood was spilling out of his every orifice.
King Paulie moaned. “Do you believe you can talk with him?”
Akareal couldn’t help but agree with King Paulie’s remark. Salem was currently not in his right mind. He had gone crazy in his own world, in his own imagination, and in his own lunacy. There would probably be no one in this world who could talk to him.
“Haha! Akareal, I have come to meet you, to save you, and to take you away from that old fogey to this young, healthy, and energetic me! I shall embrace you lovingly!”
Salem slowly walked over. Unlike his words, blood was gushing out of his body and wetting the ground, causing his steps to waver. His head shook as he panted. Behind him, Helpharon, the Evilesse Holy Knights, and the soldiers of the Golden Cross Army followed in.
“Heal him. It’ll be troubling if His Holiness dies now. We will kill him in front of the rulers of the kingdoms and empires that have yet to arrive in order to use the blind brat as the next puppet.”
The priests poured Holy Power in Salem to sustain his life under the Evilesse Holy Knights’ orders.
Akareal grew pale and shook her head. She had been thinking of trying to talk to him at first. Even if she couldn’t persuade him, he was still her former companion. He was once a faithful and pure boy. If a conversation was possible, she believed she could buy a bit of time. Looking at it now, though, even that wasn’t possible. No, she couldn’t even muster the courage to try. There was no way for her to communicate with this bleeding lunatic that was laughing wildly in his own madness.
“Haha! Akreal! Akreal! Akareal!”
“You insect! Protect Her Highness from that filthy garbage!”
As though he could no longer watch Akareal’s shivering body, King Paulie yelled at his men. He also raised his staff, preparing for battle. Mana gathered at the top of the staff and formed a massive scythe of blue light. At the same time, the Aylansian soldiers rushed in an attempt to kill Pope Salem. The soldiers of the Golden Cross Army also made their move.
“Protect His Holiness from the heretics!”
The two sides engaged each other with renewed vigor. Weapons clashed, blood splattered, and magic flew everywhere. The royal palace that had been filled with such authority moments before now turned into a sea of blood.
Salem didn’t stop moving. He ignored the raging battle, flying limbs, despairing screams, and falling bodies around him, walking straight toward Akreal while muttering her name. King Paulie stood between them as the last defense. To protect his wife from the lunatic, he slammed down his staff.
“You corrupted priest, you dare…”
Mana burst out from the scythe formed on his staff, as though it was about to explode. The end of King Paulie’s staff expanded, and he swung it toward Salem with all his might.
“…Crawl into my home!”
An ear-splitting boom followed.
Even the walls beyond the palace crumbled. With the throne room as the epicenter, a massive crater appeared. The columns surrounding them also gave way, causing the ceiling to collapse.
Akareal clenched her eyes shut before carefully opening them once more. The Magicians were casting defensive magic, but the thick dust had clouded their vision.
King Paulie let out a rough breath and almost fell to the floor, barely supporting himself with his staff.
“Uuhh… The years are getting to me…”
At Akareal’s concerned shout, King Paulie raised his hand and showed a faint smile.
“Aah, worry not, wife. It’s barely anything. Just this much—”
When King Paulie finally picked himself up, a hand shot out of the thick dust and grabbed his head.
“Hurts… It hurts. It hurts!”
It was an agonized voice. King Paulie gathered his mana into his staff at once.
“He’s still alive! Salem, I’ll tear your body to shreds…!”
King Paulie swung his staff once more, but this time, Salem moved first. A fist struck Paulie’s abdomen.
Then he raised King Paulie and slammed him into the ground. The floor of the throne room shattered under the impact, causing King Paulie to bounce away.
“Hurts… ! It hurts, but…! Hahahahahahahahahahaha, kikikikikiki!”
A man walked through the dust.
“Eh? Hurts? It hurt… moments ago? But… it doesn’t anymore. Haha, what is this? It doesn’t hurt? Could I be… Immortal? Am I immortal? That’s it, right? Hahaha! Hihihi!”
King Paulie’s eye twitched as he looked at the man in front of him.
“…This… bastard. He’s more resilient than a cockroach. Just what kind of forbidden magic did he use…?”
His outerwear had vanished, and even the flesh surrounding his body had disappeared, allowing his muscles to be clearly seen. However, even they were suffering under the heat, as they blistered and twitched. The muscles around his eyes had no skin, so it was horrifying to watch his massive eyeballs roll this way and that.
Pope Salem Gattschuranche, who had been struck by that Magic attack moments ago, tilted his head. His neck made popping noises like beans on a frying pan as his eyeball turned to watch King Paulie.
“You damned old man.”
Then he lifted his foot and kicked him.
“Damned old man.”
The surviving Evilesse Holy Knights threw off the rock fragments pressing down on their bodies and got to their feet.
“Ungh, King Paulie is quite something. Using a large scale explosive magic in this small space.”
“Wouldn’t we be all goners if we were struck directly?”
They turned their gazes to Salem. The skin across his entire body was burned, exposing his muscles underneath. The frightening scene made them frown.
“Who is that bastard?”
“… It’s the Pope.”
Helpharon also raised himself up and dusted his head.
“Hah, I thought he was just a crazy bastard, but turns out he’s a real monster. He isn’t an Undead, is he?”
The Evilesse Holy Knights laughed dryly.
King Paulie vomited blood under the unceasing kicking.
“Die…! Die! Die!”
Salem’s eyes turned to Akareal. She was on the ground trembling in fear while looking at him. He felt a rush of ecstasy upon seeing her feeble, broken appearance.
“Aah! Akareal! Yes, I’ll go to you! I shall go… make you my woman…”
Salem’s eyes gradually turned downwards. Akareal, collapsed onto the ground, had her hands softly around her swollen belly.
Salem tilted his head with a dumbfounded expression. After a moment, his facial muscles twisted and distorted.
— Ω —