39. Facing the Demon Lord (8)
The orcs stood along the back wall, eyeing the slaves. The slaves watched as the Orcs conversed with one another and licked their lips. They looked as though they were discussing how to eat them!
However, an entirely different conversation was taking place. The Orcs were more frightened than the slaves.
“What?! Those people are screaming in the middle of the night?! Are they crazy?!”
“Scary! Those humans must not be in their right minds! Even we don’t charge in buck-naked!”
“Shit, are they trying to get themselves killed? I’ve seen it plenty of times, but those soldiers in their underwear… I pitied them at the start, but they’re starting to scare me more than anything!!”
“What is it with them falling from the sky? Magic? I’m already scared of the strange metal projectiles, but are they shooting things that big as well?!”
Despite their fear, their Orc instincts remained sharp. Their crossbows were trained onto the slaves. They were more than enough to deal with opponents charging in without shields or armor.
“They’re pitiful, but on a battlefield, it matters not! Everyone load-!”
The Orcs fired their crossbows. Released with a dull ‘Thunk’, the bolts flew at an incredible speed. Their sharp heads skewered the slaves, piercing through the bodies of those at the front to hit the slaves behind them. A single bolt ran through 2, at times 3 people.
“This is too much!”
A single volley killed 200 people. As the slaves faltered, the Orcs reloaded their weapons. Not only did the Allied forces of the Hero not have ranged support, but the large form siege weapons and Magic-infused Cannons were not aiming toward the enemy on the battlefield, but the enemy encampment. The slaves were sitting ducks.
The slaves looked behind them.
As though daring the slaves to turn back, the drafted soldiers raised their longspears to form a sharp spear wall. Should they retreat, the slaves would be skewered by their own soldiers. Faced with the option, they ran ahead and died by the crossbows. They had nowhere to run.
“Damn it all…!”
The slaves gritted their teeth and charged toward the Orcs.
“… Isn’t this too much?”
Removed from the battle, Aris loathingly turned to Ludin. This scene of trapping slaves did not satisfy her. Ludin clenched his teeth.
“They’re just tools,” he said, “It’s only natural that they serve as shields.”
“That may be so, however…”
“If we don’t win here… I’ll die.”
Aris’ eyes grew wide hearing his words; she knew how important this battle was. If The Hero’s forces lost here, the endless flow of support they had enjoyed from the Holy Kingdom would cease, and Ludin would be held responsible. Failing to defeat the Demon Lord would invite doubt to the faith, and his peerage as Hero with the blessing of god could be revoked. Ludin could be killed or worse, his tendons might be severed, and he would live his days as a Slave Soldier.
Ludij tightened his fist at the thought..
“Use the slaves as shields. Drafted soldiers, move forward!”
A Holy Knight raised his flag. Commanding soldiers relayed the orders.
The pike shields slowly advanced. Step by step, the spearheads began to close in on the slaves. Panicked, the slaves pushed forward.
The loading speed of the Orcs sped up. “Ey! Hurry up!” they said to each other, “those scary things are coming!”
Ludin’s expression soured. Although pressured, none of the Orcs thought to leave their encampment. What he wanted was melee combat with the Orcs. Despite their physical strength, Orcs were still living creatures; if they climbed out to fight the slaves and average soldiers, they would become exhausted, potentially enough for the Holy Knights and himself to engage at the end. How great was that strategy?! A victory obtained by the Hero! It didn’t matter how many soldiers were sacrificed. This battle… it had to end in victory! The Demon Lord was there, so whatever method he chose to use would be praised as ingenious.
“… I am a Hero. A praised Hero!” Ludin turned to the Holy Knights. “How many Orcs have we captured in battle?
“… About 50, sir,” one answered. “We had planned to use them as slaves.”
“Cut those bastards’ heads off and throw them toward the enemy. The Orcs are brash. They’ll become enraged seeing the severed heads of their kin.”
“… Is that okay to do?”
“Didn’t those bastards send us the heads of our fellow Holy Knights? It is the same warning!”
The Holy Knight relented with a nod.
“… Have I kept myself in seclusion for too long?”
Tom watched the night sky. There were stars, which shone from fixed places, and other glimmers of light, similar to meteors, that rose up and fell down in the sky. Some of those lights, he knew, were explosions of condensed mana. As a ball of energy created through magic stones, they were set to explode even at the slightest of impacts. They poured from the sky with a deafening roar, like rain.
The Magic Cannons fired on the encampment, their munitions exploding upon impact and igniting the fields. The tent completely collapsed. The shells possessed enough power to wipe out a dozen people at once.
Tom watched the Magic Cannons of the Hero’s forces and recalled what had happened in the Golden Territories. It was smaller, but Kelvin also had a similar weapon. It could be said that Tom had dangerous firepower just by being in possession of such a weapon.
‘If we had such a weapon in the past, the subjugation of the Demon King would’ve been much simpler…’
As magic and weapons were developed, humans continued to evolve. That was the might of civilization.
He looked around and saw Karakul. He stood on the most dangerous spot, the front of the battlefield, and watched the Hero’s side.
“Oh! Commander Karakul is here!” An Orc said.
“Commander, how do I use this?” Another Orc called out. “I’ve shot crossbows from a covered position on the practice range, but we’re still lacking bolts!”
“We’re almost out completely. I don’t know about the slaves, but we definitely won’t have enough to kill those well-armed humans in the distance.”
Karakul frowned at the Orcs’ reports. He had relied on Kuman in order to secure the Demon Lord’s retreat. He could now focus on fighting off the enemy, unfettered by such concerns.
“We hold. We have them come to us. It’s hard for them to cross through this barricade. More than anything, it’s advantageous for our numbers.”
Something caught Karakul’s eye: across the battlefield, heavy catapults were mobilizing where they had been previously left alone.
The Soldiers began to load into the catapult. They raised their flag and lowered it to signal the catapults to fire. The projectiles flew high into the sky… and what appeared to be small rocks began to descend upon the orcs.
“Raise your shields!”
The Orcs raised their wooden shields. They intended to block the rocks flung by the enemy. With a blunt sound, the projectiles struck the shields and bounced to the floor. The Orcs felt odd, and lowered their gaze to confirm. What they thought were rocks were instead bloodied heads.
“W…hat? This is?!”
‘… A head?!’
The Orcs stood stunned. Karakul’s pupils shook as his eyes grew wide. He reached down with trembling hands to lift the Orc’s head. He appeared to have died in pain. It was the last expression frozen upon the Orc that had been carried off as a prisoner.
Karakul’s heart beat wildly. He had been involved in countless battles and carried himself rationally. Despite his cool-head nature, Karakul felt his blood boil.
‘Why are they doing this…?’
Karakul had carefully wrapped the heads of each of the Holy Knights. However, they in turn threw the Orcs’ heads upon catapults and sullied their valorous deaths. Had they no decorum? This was the same as sullying the holy battlefield! A red heat swept over Karakul. Heavy, rough breathing expelled through his mouth and nose.
The Orcs watched attentively.
“… What should we do, Commander?”
Karakul’s breathing resonated in the encampment in the silence, his bloodshot eyes fixed on the Hero’s forces.
Calm yourself! You must calm down! You must think logically! You must act rationally! I must, but…!!
Karakul’s crimson face found its correct shade. His breathing calmed. His expression softened.
“We do not move.”
His soldier’s faces fell.
“… Under normal circumstances.”
They picked up again, in confusion.
“The Demon Lord has come to this place. Are we going to take this mockery in this place that the great King of Hell has come to?!”
Karakul smashed the barricade with a mace. The spiky barricade was smashed to pieces. The dirt and fractures of wood flew out like a fog.
As the slaves watched the Orcs behave this way in between their barricade, a strange figure appeared on top of them. Karakul, who appeared all of a sudden, held a mace with both hands. He spoke with an ugly expression.
“I know your plan, you bastards. You wanted to drag us out! Yes, let’s have a go! Dear Hero, it’s a game you’ve started-!”
Karakul swung his mace. The center area of its impact exploded. Not a single trace of the slaves surrounding him could be seen, and the slaves in the vicinity were thrown back by the blast and sent rolling on the ground.
“I-it’s just one bastard!”
“It’s just a single Orc, don’t fear him!”
The slaves grabbed their daggers and surrounded him. Karakul swung his mace with one hand in full rotation toward the slaves rushing him. Infused in his mace was his favorite explosive magic; it crashed into the slaves, their mangled bodies careening through the air.
Blood and screams flew in every direction. Their tenderized flesh rolled on the field, spraying red dirt.
The slaves recoiled; the drafted soldiers hesitated and froze in place. Karakul was covered in blood, and let out a breath before spitting toward the humans.
“Kill… them all-!”
“Commander Karakul has led the charge-!”
“Follow Commander Karakul!”
“Follow the Orc Commander-!”
“The might of the great tribe of the Green Orcs-!”
The air trembled with the monstrous, deafening roar of Orcs. They leapt out from behind the barricade. With rough breaths full of passion, they lowered their hips and charged with their massive axes in hand.
They used their large bodies to run straight through the slaves. Orc axes severed bodies in two while Orc feet of trampled flesh.
They had the force of a tsunami. The Orcs swung their weapons and rushed forward, their speed unaffected. They were a stampede, trampling slaves the slaves without mercy, and covering the battlefield with green flesh and red blood. Rather than becoming exhausted, the Orcswere now more rough and violent. The battlefield quickly became filled with the screams of slaves and roars of monsters.
The slaves abandoned their daggers and fled. The soldiers who had raised their spears retreated. They only watched the fearful scene with trembling eyes. Orcs were much larger than humans, and the soldiers forced to watch these Orcs charging forward like an army of ants. It was truly a sight to behold.
“T-these monstrous bastards…!”
The Holy Knight commanders panicked and shouted an order to the soldiers.
“F-fire your bows!”
The archers standing behind the spear wall took position and fired. Arrows poured like rain, skewering Orcs and slaves alike. However, the Orcs didn’t relent as their bodies filled with arrows. Instead, slaves clung to the soldiers, begging for their lives. The slaves quickly retreated to the soldiers of the Hero’s forces and begged while gripping the spears.
“O-open a path! We’ll be killed like this!”
Desperate,The slaves gripped the soldiers’ spearheads, the sharp blades cutting into their fingers as they begged. The soldiers stared back at the slaves, a greater fear gripping them.
“Please! I beg you! E-ey? Don’t push from the back! I said don’t push! I’ll be skewer…! Uwaaack!”
The slaves began to push each other into the spear wall. The soldiers could no longer hold onto the weighty spears and grew exhausted. Even as they died, the slaves continued to cling on, even as those in front of them were skewered.
The Orcs leading the charge began to rally.
“We are the Great Orc Tribe-! Let us finish the bastards!”
With a shout, they moved swiftly and efficiently. They held their wooden shields at a slant to create a wedge, glaring toward the human soldiers they were approaching with anger in their eyes.
The Human soldiers felt a chill. The battle strategies of these Orcs were organized, not like Orcs in the wild. These Orcs were veteran soldiers. They possessed fearsome strength that surpassed the average knight. It was truly a monstrous army.
The Holy Knights shouted. The soldiers barely managed to hold up their spears, which were heavy with the bodies of dead slaves.. They gritted their teeth and held their line to the best of their abilities. No matter how monstrous their enemy was, they wouldn’t be able to break through this pike wall which had withstood even cavalry charges. However…
The Orcs crashed into the Humans. The spears of the soldiers could not penetrate the worn wooden shields and bounced off, causing the humans to tumble back at the impact. There was no way the Human soldiers could withstand the charge of the powerful Orcs in their current state.
The formation shattered in an instant, Orc and Human soldiers intermingling.
A massacre ensued. Those who wore rag-tag armor upon their flesh destroyed the human troops with their incredible strength. The fight continued and the formation on the Human side was pushed away before disappearing completely. Even from a distance, it was easy to see that though the Orcs were inferior in number, their numbers did not shrink.
The soldiers were now completely engulfed in fear and had lost all will to fight, but lacked the courage to desert their post. Even if they resisted, there weren’t many soldiers that could overcome the veteran Orcs now that their formation had been dismantled. The field soon became soaked in blood.
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