55. The Demon Kingdom (5)
“… This is a bit too much.”
Nordin Wood extinguished the flame burning on his head with his hand. His branches were burnt like firewood and his leaves had already turned to ash.
“They’ll probably grow again. I’m still a bit young to be balding. Hah… This is troublesome.”
He slowly scanned his surroundings. The Treos that survived the bombardment began to stir. They had the temperament of trees, but with the vitality of a Troll and a strength that exceeded Ogres. If they weren’t critically weak against fire and if their movements weren’t lethargic at best, they might be considered the most powerful demon.
“… A lot of demons died. It can’t be helped. We’ll properly do our part now!”
In this rebellion, either Bludifer or the Demon Lord, Lily Golt, had to be defeated. If not, those that had been branded rebels would continue to die.
The Treos began to slowly move their gargantuan bodies. The Chief of the Gnolls, Nasis, gulped, recalling the bombardment that had just taken place. His gaze alone looked as if it would pierce the Orcs’ defenses. The chief of the Centaurs, Hecaron, moved next to Nasis and shook his head in dismay. He had barely made it out of the attack himself.
“Ey! Did you break through the barricade? What do we do now? Do we run? Or fight…!?”
Hecaron responded to Nasis’s question by looking around. The center of the Demon Army had been obliterated by the bombardment. The morale of their troops had fallen drastically, but they were also filled with newfound rage as well. All of them had a great sense of camaraderie due to their shared plight. They would not simply sit by and watch their allies in suffering be massacred. Also, the Demon Army still had an overwhelming numerical advantage over the Orcs. The number of Treos and Minotaurs left still outnumbered the enemy’s Ogres. They still had a fighting chance.
‘… Our bodies are still cursed. I can’t see Bludifer, but the bastard is still alive.’
In other words, escape was not an option.
“… We have to fight. If our side loses this battle, we’re not going to be turned into slaves or cattle, but expelled from the kingdom entirely! The only thing beyond our border is human territory. We’d have to cross through such treacherous land just to reach unclaimed wilderness. We might as well be agreeing to die at that point.”
“T-then I guess we have to fight?”
“… If we’re branded as rebels, we, as chiefs, would lose our lives anyways.”
“Shit! Fine! Let’s do this! LEt’s go! Tear apart those merciless Orc bastards! Kyaaaaooooo-!”
When the impatient Nasis shouted and ran forward, the other Gnolls followed behind. Hecaron smiled stiffly and raised his spear.
“Let us go, brothers-! Trample those cruel Orcs-!”
Hecaron began to gallop, leading the Centaurs in a wedge formation.
Karakul grit his teeth watching it all unfold. The Orcs needed to grasp victory amid the chaos, but they had already lost the chance. Treos began to enter the fortification en masse. They stomped and crushed the Orcs in their way with their massive bodies.
“F-fire, throw fire!”
The Orcs began to light torches and throw them onto the Treo. They doused them with oil and fought back with everything they had. However, they were tossed off the slow, but massive bodies of the Treo with a brush of their trunk-like hands.
Nordin Wood, the Chief of the Treo, stood beside Allen.
‘Shit… we can barely deal with Allen, but now Nordin is stepping in…!’ Karakul cursed.
“H-hey, Commander Karakul… This seems like it’s a bit dangerous?”
Ellin retreated, looking pale-faced. She was in agreement that this was too much for them to handle. Nordin glared at them before turning to the side. His eyes widened and he shouted,
“Troops! Fall back!”
Nordin barely raised his hand in time. His arm was bludgeoned by a massive mace, causing the bark crack and sending him careening back. The Chief of the Ogres, Kuman, had pushed him back with a single, powerful blow.
“… Ah, if it isn’t the Chief of the Ogres? In my opinion, I want to avoid you at the very least.”
Nordin looked troubled. A massive body with comparably monstrous strength, but also quite agile and limitless stamina. This was what made the Ogres one of the most feared of the demon races!
Kuman let out a monstrous roar and rushed Nordin. The Treo was pushed back, but managed to keep himself in place by digging his roots into the ground.
“He’ll keep Nordin busy, so the one we have to handle is…!”
Karakul huffed while fixing his grip on his axe before glaring at his adversary. Ellin gripped her greatsword as well, watching Allen.
“Apostle Kulbo! What should we do?! Commander Karakul and Apostle Ellin are fighting as well! Your Orders-!”
The Orcs and the Goblins, as well as the Ogre Armored Division that were now separated from Kuman, were instead gathered around Kulbo. Kulbo looked back at them in a panic.
“A-ah… There’s no one in command?! What do I do! Shit, I’m logistics! I don’t have any combat experience!”
“Maintain your formations!”
Kulbo turned around in surprise. Lily had arrived on the battlefield, riding her unicorn and wearing her red armor. She scanned her surroundings and shouted,
“The defense has been broken, but their breach is narrow! Prevent any Gnolls or Centaurs from entering! They won’t be able to fight at their full strength if we hold them there!”
“Y-your Highness, it is dangerous.”
“Please seek out someplace safe…!”
Lulu and Luli tried to talk to Lily in a panic. Lily turned to them and replied,
“I’ll need your help as well!”
The pair looked at each other and muttered, ‘she needs our help?’ Their ears shot up in excitement.
The Gnolls and Centaurs were charging at full speed. As they arrived at the broken barricade, they stopped in surprise.
“What is this?! Another barricade behind the barricade?!”
They saw a massive barricade standing before them. As they hesitated, the space where the barricade should have existed distorted and bolts flew forth, piercing their bodies.
“Wait! This is an illusion!”
Hecaron grit his teeth.
“Shit! It’s those damned rabbits! It’s an illusion made by the Moon Rabbits! Charge!”
The Centaurs charged. Hecaron, as their chief, led the charge.
“If we just ignore an illusion like this…!”
Suddenly, his equine lower half was pierced by a spear.
On the other side of the illusionary barricade, there was a pike wall made of long spears held by a dense line of Orcs. He hadn’t been able to see it until after it had run him through.
Hecaron was puking blood as he struggled to free himself. The Centaurs behind him were still running forward in their wedge formation.
As they crossed through the barricade with their hooves raised, their bodies were pierced as well. Their formation was broken and they were torn apart by the force of hundreds of bodies colliding into the wall of pikes. The only thing that made it over this unexpected trap was their screams.
“They ran into the pikes!”
“Retreat one step!”
The Orcs retreated in accordance with the order and shook off the skewered Centaurs. Then…
Lily shouted to Kulbo.
“Ah, W-wait… it’s my first time… Ah! Ready, Your Highness!”
Following Lily’s orders, the Goblins following Kulbo aimed their Magic Cannon and fired. There was an explosion followed by a light show. The ammunition made of mana flew forth, piercing Centaurs, Gnolls, and various other species without trouble.
“What… My ears are numb! But it’s so simple! Humans… they were using such convenient weapons?! All we have to do is aim and fire?!”
Kulbo and his Goblins collapsed in surprise.
“Uwaaack! What is this! So loud! Scary!”
Nasis clutched his ears and trembled in fear. Not only him, but the other Gnolls also dove to the ground, their ears in hand. With their extreme senses, they feared the faint burning scent and the thunderous roar. As their ears were ringing, it was difficult for them to regain their senses.
Lily unsheathed her blade and shouted.
The Orcs roared and charged, ignoring the illusory barricade. The ones in the front raised their pikes while the infantry in the rear held their axes, swords, and shields. They moved quickly in their crude, but solid formation. The remaining demons, unable to gather into a proper formation, became scared and quickly retreated.
Hecaron, who had barely managed to avoid a fatal blow, twisted his body around to watch the Orcs advance.
“Ey! What are the Minotaurs doing! The Treos…?! You guys should be stepping up!”
The Minotaurs and Treos tried to mount an attack in response to Hecaron’s words, but the Orcs moved faster to neutralize them.
“Don’t let those bastards into the fortification!”
“Shit, let’s do it then! Kyaaaoooh!”
The demons and the Orcs became entangled. Many fell to the Orcs’ blades, while the Orcs had to deal with the non-stop hail of rocks the Gnolls were pelting them with. As a Minotaur fell backward, his body pierced by countless pikes, the smaller demons around him screamed before being crushed. The battlefield was filled with the sound of screams and the stench of blood.
Lily’s eyes grew pale, but it didn’t take long for her to shake herself out of it and shout more orders to the Orcs.
“I, the Demon Lord Lily Golt, shall join you on the battlefield, so don’t fall back!”
Kulbo, who was seeing this side of Lily for the first time, was awed.
“Just when… did she learn such tactics…?”
The Moon Rabbit sibling beside her trembled as they spoke.
“Miss Lily has always been in the library.”
“She amassed a lot of knowledge there.”
The siblings that had always been with Lily knew her daily life well. Whenever she was finished with her official duties, she spent her remaining time in the library. It was in an attempt to learn more about her royal duties or learn something new for the sake of her nation.
“Eeeh? She looked at those boring books? Hah! I barely know of any demons that can read in the first place, but this is possible with just that…?! My god!”
She managed to utilize that knowledge in real time this proficiently? It didn’t make sense.
“She is… a genius?”
Tom watched Lily from nearby. He had prepared himself for all eventualities, but he was watching her with admiration. It wasn’t easy to apply everything one has learned regardless of how many books they read. It was still a difficult task even with experience, but Lily was doing just that on her first try.
“… Is she talented in understanding the ebb and flow of battle?”
There were such occasions. That sudden and instinctual understanding of how everything should work despite a lack of military experience. There had been several such tacticians who appeared during chaotic times throughout the continent’s history.
Tom frowned as he turned to the side. The sun would start setting soon.
“I should get ready to move soon as well.”
Tom slipped away amid the chaos of battle, which seemed endless. The sounds and screams of battle never stopped and the earth was dyed a crimson red with the blood of the fallen. As this continued on and on, the sun dipped lower and lower on the horizon. Finally, the moon began to rise over the peaks of the mountain range in the distance. As the dark of night was finally starting to settle over the battlefield, an eye flew open beneath the ashes and debris of a destroyed palanquin
Hearing the eerie roar, both Lily’s troops and the rebel demons froze in surprise. Something was moving in the darkness. Dark fog and bats flew in the air, starting to take shape as they circled the battlefield. They were bat-like monsters with long, sharp claws at the end of their bat wings and massive, muscular bodies covered in dark-brown fur.
“It’s the blood-sucking bastards!”
The Vampires swarmed the demons, excited by the scent of blood.
“W-wait…! We’re allies!”
One of the rebel demons fled while screaming, but a vampire swooped down and grabbed his body with its claws. It carried him into the air before using its fangs to tear away at his throat. More Vampires swarmed around the dying demon, forming a squirming ball of bats in the air.
The Vampires didn’t discriminate when it came to good food. Allies or enemies, none of it mattered. They roared excitedly as they continued to swoop down and grab demons indiscriminately.
“Stinking bloodsucking bastard…!”
“Protect Her Highness!”
The Orcs gathered around Lily and in a circular formation.
“T-there is so much blood-!”
The Vampires flicked their long tongues as they extended their hands toward the sky. They gathered all the blood fallen onto the battlefield using magic and consumed it voraciously. Their bodies were becoming swollen from the excessive amount of magic power they were ingesting, making their grotesque faces even more hideous.
The monstrous bats, now almost 3 meters in height, roared monstrously. Some of them flew toward the Orcs, swiping at them from above. The Orcs tried to block using their shields, but they couldn’t contend with the Vampires’ strength; many Orcs were sent flying. Three more Orcs were killed instantaneously, their heads ripped off at a speed too fast for the eye to see. The sturdy shields and new armor they had been so proud of was meaningless against the natural might of the Vampires.
“E-Ey! These bastards…”
“These guys are different from the ones we faced before!”
The ground where Bludifer’s broken palaquain sat cracked and broke apart. All the blood around the area gathered into a single sphere, which was greedily consumed by a single person.
“For some filthy green meatbags…”
Bludifer’s muscles spasmed as his body grew extraordinarily quickly. He kept his mouth open and pointed upward; a literal waterfall of blood was pouring down from above him. A mane of crimson fur grew around his neck, giving his disturbing appearance a regal look. His back split open and his spine cracked and split, before two gigantic bony wings sprouted out. He flapped them once when they finished growing, sending a massive cloud of dirt and ash into the air. This was Bludifer’s true form. A monster among monsters over 7 meters tall. He gave off a sinister, dangerous aura, similar to the descriptions of the Balrogs of legend!
[I’ll kill all you bastards! Mere cattle dares…!]
Bludifer gathered all the blood surrounding him. It condensed to form hundreds of spears, all of them pointed at the mass of demons standing before him.
[I’ll send you bastards to hell-!]
“Those are our words, Bludifer!”
Just as Bludifer turned back in surprise, he was skewered from behind. A long spear has been stuck deep into his body..
[… T-these bastards?!]
Bludifer stumbled in surprise. Worlf, the chief of the Werewolves, let go of the handle and leapt off Bludifer’s body.
Thick blood dripped from the wound. He wasn’t surprised by the pain, but by the fact that a Werewolf had been the one to cause it. For them to have been missing for so long, then stab him in the back!
‘Could these bastards…! Were they waiting for the opportunity?! Then, how foolish! For him to rebel while his kin are cursed! For him to dare stand against me after the sun has fallen!’
[You bastards dare betray me?! A mere slave dares wound me?! This is an order! Werewolves! Kill yourselves-!]
Bludifer’s voice rang out across the battlefield, but the Werewolves merely looked at him with hostility as they growled. Each of them held a long spear identical to the one currently stuck in him, which they threw with all their might. Bludifer’s hide was certainly tough, but not enough to save him from being pierced dozens of times. As more blood flowed from the many wounds now covering him, Bludifer mumbled in surprise.
He couldn’t understand it. They had definitely been cursed…!
“Ah, this is good timing.”
Pieces of paper covered in glowing runes fluttered around Bludifer. They quickly attached themselves to Bludifer and the ground around him. Before he could figure out what was going on, Bludifer found himself on his knees. His body felt heavy, and chains of light were now wrapped around his body. The chains held him in place as they burned his flesh.
Bludifer’s eyes widened as he stared at the magic restricting his body, before switching his gaze to the one who had cast the spell. A single man wearing white robes walked out from a forested hill some distance away. Though he did not recognize the man’s clothing as the uniform of an apprentice Holy Knight, Bludifer knew it was related to the humans’ religion in some way. In his left hand was a copy of the Holy Scripture, and in his right was the sword of the former Hero Ludin. Bludifer grew stiff from this unexpected appearance.
“Using chaos to kill the Demon Lord, sending trusted allies into danger, using those forced into battle against their will as bait, deceiving everyone, and betraying them at the end of it all. Some people really do use every trick in the book when they’re at a disadvantage.”
The man took off his robe.
“That’s the kind of legacy the last human Hero left behind. Despite being a Hero meant to save humanity, he turned out to be quite the evil person, don’t you agree? But, then again, Heroes have always been an unreliable bunch. Especially me…”
Tom smiled bitterly as he turned to look at Bludifer.
“… Among such scum, I was the worst Hero.”
— Ω —