56. The Demon Kingdom (6)
The Demon Lord was feared in all respects. For their power, their authority, and the army they had under their command. The troops that the Demon Lord led possessed a power that was hard to find anywhere else on the continent.
To win against the Demon Lord without another kingdom’s support was nearly impossible.
Even so, it had happened once before. There was one case of a Hero killing the Demon Lord on his own, but his name was only known for a brief period of time.
He had been someone who was abandoned by nearly everyone; someone who fought against the Demon Lord while relying only on his party members.
He had raised funds and employed mercenaries and adventurers as his troops. He had them battle against the demons while he infiltrated the Demon Kingdom. While his colleagues drew everyone’s attention, he had entered the Demon Lord’s castle alone, confronted the Demon Lord, and defeated him.
He hadn’t been royalty, or a knight, just an ordinary person who had lived as a slave before rising up to become a Hero. It was because of this that all the countries across the continent wanted to cover his true origins up.
That was the reason why he was hailed as the strongest while also being called the worst.
‘Oh my…!’ These people would say. ‘He knocked down the Demon Lord without the continent’s support? What an astonishing fact! Moreover, he entered the Demon Lord’s Castle and killed the Demon Lord? That’s more like an assassination of the Demon Lord than a subjugation, isn’t it? Even though a Hero is supposed to wear that title with pride, he was no different than a common assassin.’
Tom glared at Bludifer.
“Now, let’s kill the Demon Lord.”
Tom struck his holy sword onto the ground. With him at the center, hundreds of light swords were summoned, rising into the air around him.
It was the same skill that the Hero Ludin had used.
The light swords moved with astonishing speed and targeted Bludifer.
Blood sprayed through the air as hundreds of swords riddled his giant frame. The blades, made of holy power, pierced through Bludifer’s thick skin with ease, cleansing the demonic power within.
Bludifer screamed in agony.
All of the blood he had sucked into his body up until that point was lost, and gushed out of his body like a waterfall, creating a massive, crimson pool at his feet.
‘Blood! Blood…! I need to collect the spilled blood again! But…!’
Bludifer looked at the chains that were wrapping his body.
‘What ridiculous holy power!’
They contained so much energy within them that he would have expected nothing less than hundreds of priests being required to create them through large-scale sealing magic.
Even though he tried to gather up his demonic power, he failed to do so. It slipped through his grip and scattered.
‘It’s an ability that dismantles demonic energy! There’s no way that this is possible!’
“Kill that bastard!”
The werewolves leaped onto Bludifer’s huge body. They nimbly climbed up and used their long nails to leave deep gouges across his skin. The werewolves that clung onto Bludifer’s back, stomach, chest, arms, and legs, ripped pieces of his skin off with their nails and teeth.
A veritable lake of blood had formed at Bludifer’s feet.
“The subjugation of the Demon Lord as a Hero… It reminds me of the past. Though the situation is much better now.”
Back then he hadn’t had an army or any equipment.
“Last time I didn’t even have a single piece of special equipment, let alone professional troops. But now, look at how reliable these guys are. I almost don’t want to let them go.”
Tom looked at Wolf, the head of the Werewolves, who flinched and frowned
“… While we are currently being employed by you, we have not thought about being your slaves.”
“… Is that so? I don’t really need slaves. I only need people who want to work for me out of their own free will.”
“You bastards! How dare you?!”
Bludifer finally broke apart the chains restraining him with his raw strength. Though he quickly swung his hands in an attempt to catch the Werewolves who were attacking him, the Werewolves had impressive battle instincts and were able to avoid him. They grabbed onto his fingers and arms and clung onto those instead.
Wolf ran up to Bludifer with a spear strapped onto his back.
Running four-legged, he jumped and climbed up Bludifer’s arm and shoulder. When he arrived at Bludifer’s head, he grabbed the spear hanging on his back and prepared to strike with it.
“… I’ll kill you, bastard, and end this disgusting slave-life!”
Wolf threw the spear at Bludifer’s forehead.
He threw that one strike while expressing all the resentment that he had been suppressing for years. All of his anger and hatred. The spear blade planted itself in Bludifer’s forehead.
The handle of the spear was broken by the Werewolf’s own strength and shattered into pieces, but the spear blade’s aim was true, causing a fountain of blood to spurt from the wound.
When Bludifer grabbed his forehead, Tom took the opportunity and dashed forward. He went in between Bludifer’s legs and swung his holy sword.
The skin of Bludifer’s thigh was pierced and split open. The whole of his right leg was chopped off, and it vanished in a spray of blood.
The vampires who were busy fighting near the barricade only came back to their senses after hearing Bludifer’s pain-filled cries.
They had been in the middle of frantically hunting their prey. So they had only now realized that Bludifer was in trouble.
“Help Lord Bludifer!”
The Orcs fired their crossbows at the vampires that turned their backs. However, they had tied ropes onto the bolts in advance. So, when the vampires were hit with them, the Orcs were able to yank on the ropes and pull the vampires back, preventing them from leaving.
“Wooaaaaak! This bastard is really strong! Hold on…!”
Wolf glanced at the commotion behind him.
The vampires that had come out from the barricade were now going in the opposite direction to save their leader, Bludifer.
“Kill the bastards! Don’t lower your guard! Don’t get bitten and cursed again!”
The werewolves ran and jumped at the vampires, grabbing onto them. They either held onto their heads and crushed them or tried to bite them off.
“It looks like your lackeys wont let us finish you off that easily? How annoying.”
Tom looked at Bludifer with a troubled look.
“… This situation is getting weird.”
Allin frowned. His whole body was covered with sword and axe wounds. Even though he looked as though he had just bathed in blood, he didn’t feel exhausted in the slightest.
Allin glared at Karakul and Ellin, who were standing in front of him.
Karakul was panting and breathing heavily while holding up his axe. Ellin was also exhausted and was gritting her teeth.
“…An Orc dares to attack a minotaur? And you, Doppelganger. I will also compliment you, you bitch. For a demon specialized in sneaking around… to push me this far…”
“T-then step back already. You’re really scary.”
Ellin said this while shaking her sword up and down. Allin kept on fighting no matter how they attacked him, so he was indeed a terror to behold.
Karakul grasped his axe tightly and remained silent, as if he was saving up even the strength he would be using to talk.
Nordin Wood and Kuman were grappling with each other, having a contest of strength.
Nordin glanced at Bludifer.
“… This is really troubling.”
‘If Bludifer loses, the rebel forces won’t be able to avoid punishment.’
‘Well, for our clan… It would be okay if we secretly stayed in the forest and acted like trees, but…’
Kuman grabbed Nordin Wood’s neck with a mad look on his face. Nordin had mistakenly allowed Kuman to attack him in the short moment in which his mind wandered.
When Kuman lifted his mace and was a moment away from striking him down with it, Nordin Wood made a decision.
The mace stopped only a few inches away from Nordin Wood’s head.
“… Bludifer is now too distracted to put curses on us and order us around. I guess if he dies, the curse that he already has on us would get lifted too.”
“… Why are you trying to bring up curses as if that’s an excuse? Rebels aren’t going to be able to avoid getting expelled from the Demon Kingdom no matter what they do!”
“But, we don’t care about being slaves.”
Kuman’s mouth shut.
“If Bludifer wins,” Nordin Wood continued, “we would get our vitality drained like livestock. But if Her Highness Demon Lord sits on the throne and is generous with us, even though we would still live as slaves, we wouldn’t get our blood sucked.”
“… Are you really going to betray your comrades just like that?”
“What do you mean betraying? That’s too much. I’m only being reasonable.”
Nordin Wood looked at Allin.
“You agree, don’t you?”
Allin frowned and let out steam through his nose.
“Stop talking nonsense, Nordin Wood! I don’t know about everyone else but Karakul… that bastard! I can’t forgive him! That guy didn’t just kill our tribe members, he even killed the other demons as well! Without mercy! You want me to surrender to that bastard?! Don’t joke around!”
“I didn’t mean that we were going to surrender to Karakul, but to Her Highness Demon Lord instead. Besides, once the battle between us is over, Kuman would be able to join in the fight against Bludifer.”
Allin was stunned and looked over at Kuman.
Battling against Minotaurs was difficult, but Ogres were powerful as well. Especially if you had to fight one while also going against an Orc and Doppelganger at the same time.
“This fight is over.”
Tom gripped his sword. He breathed in and concentrated his holy power.
The hundreds of light swords that had been floating in the air were suddenly sucked into his holy sword, vanishing.
The three-meter sword glowed and dispensed a white current.
It was a sacred, new sword that only Heroes could use, made up solely of holy power.
Though the sky had darkened long ago and it was deep into the night, the surrounding area was illuminated brightly.
Bludifer looked at the intangible sword made of holy power and shivered.
‘Dangerous! That one’s really dangerous!’
“… For the Demon Lord.”
Tom ran and jumped. The ground he stepped off of exploded and his body pierced through the air. He spun at a high speed and his sword slashed through Bludifer’s chest. Bludifer’s skin was cut deeply and turned to ash, due to the holy power in the blade. Even his blood vanished without a trace as it burned up.
Bludifer stepped backward with his jaw agape.
He dropped to his knees. Blood was bursting out from all over his huge body and falling in all directions like rain.
Bludifer’s huge body deflated and vanished, leaving only his original flesh behind. He shivered on the ground and raised his body.
“It’s still… not over! If I gather more blood…! I’ll…!”
‘There’s still a chance! I lost because of the Werewolves’ betrayal! More than anything, someone who has holy power like a Hero has… No, even a Hero wouldn’t have been able to do this to me! The situation itself just wasn’t good from the start!’
‘It’s because I let my guard down! A little more…a little more…! There is still a chance…!’
‘I can still be the Demon Lord again! I just need to run away for now…!’
A rune scroll suddenly restrained his whole body. The demonic power he had summoned to gather more blood scattered.
“How…? How can my demonic power…?!”
Bludifer looked up.
Tom was holding a sword made of light and was now approaching him. Bludifer was terrified and struggled to try and run away, but he couldn’t because of the chains.
“W-what on earth?! This holy power…! This large-scale magic…!”
It should have taken hundreds of high-ranked priests several hours to create an attack with this much power inside it. He had never seen anything like it before.
‘This… is unbelievable!’
Bludifer looked at Tom with eyes filled with horror.
‘… The power of Artarrk is indeed strong.’
Tom couldn’t display his full power unless he manifested Artarrk. But he could borrow some of it temporarily.
Holy power and demonic power could be drawn almost infinitely, but there was a side effect that prevented him from getting too carried away.
‘The physical burden is too much.’
Tom looked down at his hand. The one that was gripping his light sword.
The skin underneath his Holy Knight uniform was cracking and breaking apart. This was because of the fact that he was using more power than what his body could currently handle. He wasn’t able to sustain something like this, not even with a Hero’s body.
‘Even so, this is less painful than diseases where your body stiffens up.’
His body might explode if he kept pushing things. Though, if that happened, he knew that he would revive as a manifestation of Artarrk.
Bludifer looked at Tom as he approached, sword in hand.
It was radiating a terrifying, bright light. The energy around it was completely extinguishing any nearby demonic power that it encountered.
The power was vicious, and it would extinguish any undead that got too close.
As a type of the undead himself, Bludifer didn’t have many options.
“W-wait!” He pleaded. “Save me! Y-you bastard… You’re the Devil of Lania right? Please! Save my life! I-I will pledge allegiance to Her Highness the Demon Lord! No, I’ll help you in any way I can so that you can be the Demon Lord! What do you want? Whatever you want―!”
The white robe Tom was wearing suddenly flapped due to the man’s movements.
Tom’s sword pierced through Bludifer’s head and ripped off, leaving a gaping hole where his neck and chest used to be.
“… You just said the same thing that the previous Vampire did. It seems like that is a trending, dying wish nowadays.”
Bludifer’s body was split into two and turned into ash. His skull was crushed and his flesh vanished, leaving only bones behind.
“Bludifer… Your Highness…?”
The vampires were shocked at the sudden development and they frantically looked around.
Karakul bellowed in victory.
The Orcs, Ogres, and Goblins joined in.
The frightened Vampires turned and ran away.
“… We lost.”
Hekaron threw the spear he was holding onto the ground. The Gnoll, Nasys, who had been clinging onto him was startled and started looking around.
All of the demons were dropping their weapons, knowing that the battle was over and that they had been defeated.
Allin tried running toward Karakul but he was stopped by Kuman.
The Orcs arrived and aimed their spears at Allin.
“You bastard! I won’t ever forgive you! Karakul!”
Karakul turned toward him and crossed his arms.
“… Hate me or loathe me. Do as you please, Allin. I have no intention of asking for forgiveness for my sins.”
“Stop now. You need to calm down.”
Nordin Wood smacked the back of Allin’s head.
His head struck the ground from the force, causing a hollow-sounding echo to reverberate across their surroundings.
Ellin flinched at the sound.
“… Did we… win?”
As Kulvo asked the Demon Lord, Lily dropped the sword she had been holding and hugged the moon rabbit siblings.
“Your Highness! We won!”
“Your Highness! We won!”
“R-right… what a relief. We won… We won… it’s finally… over.”
Lily’s entire frame drooped in relief. The moon rabbit siblings shared a glance and then hugged her even tighter.
“Huu… It’s hard.”
Tom stuck his holy sword into the ground to support his weight and sighed. The weapon had already transformed back into its original appearance.
His body felt heavy and stiff, almost like a wet sponge. His head was spinning. It had been a long time since the last time he had felt anything like it.
“Even so… it seems my first objective was accomplished.”
The Demon Kingdom war ended with Bludifer’s death.
— Ω —