53. The Demon Kingdom (3)
This was different from just a potion, which was effective for treatment but didn’t have the power to cure disease or break curses.
Yet, if it worked as Tom said, it would mean that this holy water could cure all the above and more. It also implied that the poison could endanger a human’s life if they didn’t receive help within the day. Even for demons, enough of it could cause paralysis and even death.
It was the worst weapon, one that he could mass-produce infinitely if he so wished.
‘We can reshape the flow of the battlefield on a whim. There’s no soldier alive who wouldn’t fear such a dangerous thing.’
Thinking back to the Hero’s Allied Forces… The worth of those—once fear-inducing— troops changed at this moment; they were little more than lambs for the slaughter. No matter the number of enemies, if the world came to know that they possessed this kind of overwhelming power, everyone would shake in fear.
Blessed holy water that could cure near-death injuries and even block the harmful effects of magic. A fearsome poison which paralyzed the body and gradually stole away one’s life force. Tossing these into their new mix of weapons, they certainly had the means to plant fear straight into their enemies’ eyes.
The humans’ saying ‘demons are the devil’s descendants!’ might have finally become a reality.
‘No, what they’d truly dread would be the fact that filthy beings, like demons, dared to make holy water—successfully at that. Just from this, their beliefs will be twisted once again; their convictions will be denied; their faith and religion will be shaken at its core.’
Karakul shuddered at the scariness of the holy water and the poison.
“Please, pass the holy water and poison to each military unit. Use the holy water when somebody is injured, and smear the poison on your weapons. It should begin to show effect a few minutes after entering the bloodstream.”
With this, Karakul’s biggest concern was alleviated. Though there would still be countless sacrifices in this clash of Demon Lords, the number of meaningless deaths would be decreased.
‘…This is something he could’ve prepared for us before. But showing it now… Was he waiting for the right time?’
Karakul felt that his trust and sense of loyalty to Tom was getting stronger. At the same time, he knew well that this was a slippery slope; no, he’d already fallen over the edge.
Karakul was free. He was moving and acting upon his own will and desires!
But that was only a facade he’d made himself believe. In the end…
‘… It’s like a curse, unconsciously submitting to him.’
His very being belonged to Tom, free will be damned. That was the scariest part.
If Lily was a monarch born for peace, it would be right to say that Tom was a monarch meant for war. Therefore, a situation where their conflicting ideals opposed each other arose. While Tom slaughtered their enemies and acted as both shield and sword, Lily played the part of a caretaker, watching over her people while softly soothing those who surrendered. Yet, that was also why their balance would be perfect. Under their management, the Demon Kingdom would become one of the greatest countries in the continent’s history.
Karakul was excitedly looking forward to that. A powerful kingdom—no, an empire, where demons, who were always hunted by humans while being looked down on, could live freely! The starting point where The Great Demon Empire would be established! Karakul was witnessing history in the making.
‘I’m honored! I’m truly honored…!’
Karakul averted his gaze. The demons were amazed by the holy water and astonished by the poison as they put them into different bottles, inspecting their other equipment at the same time.
They were so ignorant, unaware that they were working for such a great personage…!
‘They will feel it later. Then they will worship him as I do.’
Not something as simple as loyalty toward a king, but rather, a cult-like reliance, a religious belief! Just like the faith those humans espoused…!
Some day, Lily and Tom would leave a mythical mark in the demons’ history, like a messenger of God or the advent of God, not merely as rulers.
“The bastards will arrive here tomorrow afternoon. So, get to it.”
Tom smiled lightly as he spoke. It was unclear whether he knew how Karakul was feeling at the moment.
The Orc soldiers were standing on top of the finished stockade, wearing dark-red plate armor and holding long pikes. The torch-bearers among them turned their attention to the mountains.
The sun was gradually rising between the peaks, and along with it, thousands of demon troops were swarming down from the mountains like locusts. The invaders were breathing roughly after such a long march.
The troops who couldn’t rest, eat, or even sleep properly were drawing ever closer. Yet, instead of being tired and worn out from fatigue, they had turned more brutal due to stress.
Enraged and overflowing with bloodlust, they continued forward toward the Orcs’ defenses. Though the Orcs stiffened at the sight, those tasked with relaying the news of the enemy’s arrival calmly blew their shofars.
“The rebels have arrived!”
“Everyone, wake up!”
“Prepare for battle…!”
The Orcs moved around busily. They grabbed their equipment and donned their armor. Different from before, they now had bottles of holy water and poison on their waists. A sea of Orcs surged around the camp, all of them heading to the stockade.
Those with crossbows loaded them, while those overseeing the ballistae did the same. Behind the stockade, the heavily-armored Ogres lined up.
Lily, who had received the report, went up the tower used for lookout. The sight of the troops gradually coming down from the mountain was a sight to behold. The ground screamed under the trampling of their heavy boots. Their enraged breaths and grunts were so rough, even Lily could hear it.
Covered in grime and sweat, many demons roared and shouted; their bloodshot eyes were entirely focused on their prey.
Lily gulped at the sight. Different from the gentle and well-behaved demons she was used to, they looked savage and vicious, like primordial beasts. Clearly, the demons were venting all their frustration caused by Bludifer’s oppression.
The Orcs were also nervous, breaking out in a cold sweat and wetting their parched throats with saliva. They watched the approaching crowd in front of them while fiddling with their weapons.
The demon troops finally stopped their rapid advance. They kept their mouths shut as they glared at the fortress. The eerie silence, broken only by the occasional sound of a pant or gulp, reached a crescendo. Everyone’s grip on their weapons tightened under the increasing pressure.
Bludifer flicked his finger lazily while looking at the Orcs’ stockade.
The demons roared and charged forward. The earth groaned as if it was going to crumble, and the silence was shattered by the pounding of thousands of feet.
The cacophony of footsteps, weapons, and war cries was enough to evoke fear in even the most battle-hardened of soldiers. The Orcs flinched, but Karakul, noticing that, shouted.
“Brave Orcs! Fear not-!”
His lone voice fell across the defensive lines like a blanket, quelling the fear and terror that had been taking hold.
The Orcs were startled and looked at him with a mixture of worry and hope. Karakul was standing on top of their stockade, holding huge axes in both his hands. He dipped his ax into a barrel of poison and pulled it back out. Maybe it was because it was dark-red beforehand, but the thick poison dripping from his blade looked like blood.
“We have Her Highness Demon Lord with us! The Sage King is here to lead us! The one who shall defeat the tyrant Bludifer and lay the foundation of a peaceful, free country for us to live in is coming out herself to watch this battle!” Karakul scanned the Orcs after looking at Lily, who was still at the top of the tower. “You are the descendants of a long line of warriors! Punish them under the name of the Demon Lord! Show no compassion! Show no fear! Don’t run away from mere vampires! Fight! Win! Grasp victory with your own hands-!”
Karakul pointed his axe at Bludifer, who was sitting on a palanquin carried by demons.
“Slaughter those filthy vampires! Drink their blood-! Shout praise for your tribe! Wail for freedom! That cry shall be our strength-!” Karakul breathed in deeply, opened his mouth wide, and let out a deep battle-cry. “Kwooooooo-!”
Every Orc and Ogre present in the fortress, along with all of the other varied demons, answered his call and let out a thunderous roar. The very air vibrated, and their cry, which made even leaves in the forest tremble, resonated across the battlefield.
The invading demons flinched at the display. Bludifer’s forces were definitely greater in number. Moreover,they had many large and strong demons in their ranks, Treo and Minotaurs. Yet, they felt overpowered by the cries of the defenders.
On the palanquin, Bludifer, who was resting his cheek against the back of his hand, frowned. He felt the hair on his skin bristling at the noise of the rabble hiding behind the stockade. It made his eardrums ring.
Bludifer, who instinctively flinched, found his frown deepening. The very fact that he felt any discomfort due to them hurt his pride. He wanted to just step in himself and bathe in the bastards’ blood, but he could not; the sun was still up now.
It wasn’t like he wouldn’t be able to endure it, but the feeling of his skin burning was the worst. More than anything, he hated losing his dignity.
“Filthy Orcs bastards! They dare to open those dirty mouths and chatter noisily…!” Bludifer turned around. “Oy, tree, throw them.”
The chief of the Treos, Nordin Wood, sighed. He had no choice but to comply due to Bludifer’s curse.
The Treos moved, holding the boulders that the Minotaurs had put on the wagon earlier. Struggling, they walked forward while carrying the boulders and then, with all their might, they leaned back and threw the boulders with every ounce of strength in their bodies.
This was Bludifer’s siege corps, the Treo unit.
Their stone-throwing was more precise and powerful compared to the catapults. Giant rocks spun through the air in an arc before falling on and around the stockade. The Orcs scattered and ran, trying to evade the areas they thought the boulders would fall.
“Brace for the impact!”
Hearing what Karakul said, the Orcs readied themselves. But at the same time, they shouted at the Ogres.
“Oy! Big guys, we’re leaving it to you!”
“Throw a heavy-hitter!”
“… I’ll throw a proper blow!”
Kuman swung the mace in his hand with all his might, aiming for one of the falling stones. The strength behind his powerful blow shattered the rock and sent debris flying. The other Ogres also swung their maces, knocking away and shattering many of the enemy’s projectiles.
Sometimes, either their maces or the rocks shattered on impact, and the fragments rained around them. Other times, an Ogre was struck and pinned by a boulder. Still, some of the rocks were hit just right, sending them flying back toward enemy lines. When one thought about it, trying to hit boulders raining from the sky sounded like a stupid idea. However, with their view being blocked by the stockade, Bludifer and his troops didn’t know what was happening. To them, it was like the rocks they threw were returning with magic.
The demon troops hurriedly broke away from their formation. The flying rocks rolled and squashed many demons, leaving trails of blood and gore.
Bludifer looked up. A rock was flying in his direction.
He stretched out his hand. A stream of blood flew out, stretching like a whip, and hit the rock away.
The rock was split into two parts and dropped on Bludifer’s right and left side. The demons on either side of him became minced meat, leaving only bloodstains as the evidence of their unjust deaths.
The Treo stopped throwing stones, since it seemed pointless.
“What do we do? Should we throw more..? But, if we do that, the damage our soldiers suffer will only grow,” Nordin Wood spoke carefully.
Bludifer’s troops were located on a tiny road in between the mountains. In such a cramped space, they were unable to avoid large projectiles. They would bump into each other in their attempts to evade, leading to more confusion and death amongst their own lines. Dying while stuck would be their fate.
By comparison, the opponent was in a fortified city. Also, the land on the other side of the stockade was much wider and more open. Coupled with Orcs’ reflexes, most of them would be able to dodge the rocks.
All in all, prolonging their ranged attack any longer would be self-defeating.
“Oy! What are the stupid horse-legs and cow-heads doing?! What are you useless mutts sitting around for?” Bludifer shouted temperamentally. “They dare launch rocks in my direction! At the Demon Lord, me! Yet, are you guys thinking of just sitting there and watching!? Screw them! All of them! Squash all those bastards!”
The cursed Apostles moved at his words. Though they made efforts to refuse the order while gritting their teeth, their actions and voices did the opposite. They shouted out orders.
“His Highness Demon Lord…kkeuk… Lord Bludifer has ordered! Began the assault!”
The demons acted in concert. The Centaurs rushed out first. Behind them were the Minotaurs. Next were Gnoll and Treo, while various other clans followed suit.
Their charging speed was incomparable to humans!
The distance between the attackers and defenders was vanishing in a flash.
“…Everyone, take aim.”
At Ellin’s words, the Orcs raised their crossbows. The Ogres struggled to fit on the top of the stockade, finding space wherever they could and lifting up their ballistae. They aimed directly at the demons dashing toward them.
The Centaurs raised their long spears. In front of them was a high stockade, along with wooden stakes embedded in the ground before it.
However, even this could not stop the Centaurs, with their nimble bodies, from getting over the stockade.
As the leading Centaurs approached the stockade, the ground beneath their hooves sank.
Their bodies fell along with it, and they were pierced by the wooden stakes waiting below; in a sickening way, they looked like skewered meat ready to be placed over the fire.
The Centaurs reared and stopped their charge, planting their hind hooves into the ground. They stared at the long trench which had appeared before them in shock.
It wasn’t a deep trench, maybe 3 meters deep or so, with rocks lining the inside. However, their physical characteristics made them optimal fighters in open terrain, but unsuitable for climbing a rock wall. On top of this, the inside of the trench had been covered with oil. It would be difficult to get out after falling in something like this.
Even worse was the fact that the wooden stakes lining the bottom of the trench would injure them severely. It was a death trap.
“We can’t risk going down there! We can’t jump over it either…!”
If they jumped over, they would be jumping directly into the wooden stakes placed before the stockade. Looking up, one of the Centaurs finally noticed the innumerable crossbows and ballistae aiming straight at them.
Following Ellin’s shout, thousands of triggers were pulled simultaneously. The bolts flew at lightning speeds, straight toward the mob of centaurs.
The rain of bolts hit the Centaurs hard. Hundreds fell, more ran around in confusion. None of them were able to defend themselves or launch a proper counter-attack.
The Minotaurs dashed in next, pushing through the Centaurs. Though they were hit time and time again, the bolts stayed stuck in their thick hides, unable to cause any fatal wounds.
“What the hell! These bastards…!”
“Their hides are too thick!”
“Is that because they’re also strong? It seems like the poison doesn’t work on them at all!”
While the Orcs were becoming terrified by the Minotauros, an Ogre behind them moved. He raised his ballista and shot it.
A huge, spear-like bolt pierced through Minotaur, the tip sticking out from its back. Even so, it continued dashing forward while breathing roughly, its eyes bloodshot.
It jumped over the trench with a roar, and then began climbing up the rockwall of the stockade. Even the Minotaurs, who were the best at leading assaults such as this, knew that they wouldn’t be able to destroy the sturdy stockade easily, For now, going over was the only way.
As the Minotaur pulled himself up and over the edge of the stockade, he shook his head in an attempt to gore the Orcs near him. The same Ogre rushed him and aimed the ballista at his chest from point blank.
With a loud twang, the huge bolt sent the Mintoaur flying like a ragdoll.
On the ground below, the smaller demons; bodies were riddled with bolts.They fell down screaming and dying, only to be trampled by the next wave of troops.
Karakul snorted, looking at the battlefield. “…Huh, this is nothing.”
Most of the demons who were pierced by the bolts were paralyzed by the poison and collapsed, but some kept advancing, especially huge demons like the Minotaurs or Treo; there were too many of them for the Ogres to deal with alone.
They were not weak enough to be knocked down in one blow, even when struck by the bolt of a ballista. Still, it wasn’t like they could block the non-stop attacks from the defenders. If they kept sustaining damage like they were, they would eventually fall… Karakul felt that they could definitely win at this rate.
Only if the vampires didn’t intervene.
“You call yourself Demon Lord with only this much? Bludifer-! You’re pathetic! What a waste of the title!”
The Gnolls hurriedly placed a wooden board on top of the trench, using it as a makeshift bridge. Kulvo frowned as he saw this, annoyed that they had finally smartened up.
“Ahh, it’s the worst to fight among demons!”
Kulvo put oil into the calabash in his hand and stuffed oiled paper into the top. He then lit the paper on fire and gripped it in both hands.
“But Bludifer governing the Demon Kingdom is much worse!”
He threw it at the makeshift bridge. As the calabash broke, the flames set the wood ablaze; the fire spread in the blink of an eye.
As the trench was already filled with oil, it burned like hell and torched the demons.
— Ω —