The war machine made of steel in the shape of a gigantic scorpion spat out green flames from the tip of its tail. Hell Siege Engines were frequently used by Demon forces during large-scale sieges. The cackling of demons echoed in the dry air as the Hell Siege Engines spat out flames. The magic cannon of the devils installed on the portion of the Siege Engine which resembled the mouth of a scorpion shot out green fireballs. The fireballs drew an arc in the night sky as it struck the walls of the guard post.
The entire guard post shook as the inextinguishable green flame roared ferociously at the point of impact, causing tiny demons made of fire to scatter about like ants.
They were from a lower class of demons called the Minor Ember Spirit. All they knew was sticking to nearby people and cause them to ignite, but even these demons were a danger in a chaotic battlefield.
Genghis Aaron, better known as Rockhead, stepped onto the Minor Ember Spirits with his steel boots and extinguished it.
“Stomp on those tiny shits and get rid of ‘em unless you want to catch on fire later!”
The soldiers followed his order and quickly began to stomp out the Minor Ember Spirits. However, the siege engines continued to unleash their payload, leaving dozens of new Minor Ember Spirits to run amok within the walls as the vanguards of the Demon army began their advance while beating their war drums.
“Humans! Kill ‘em all!”
Monsters reaching 5 meters in height began to reveal their forms in the darkness. They were Depraved Trolls. Steel blinders were tightly attached to their flesh and skull so as to obstruct their vision and vile demonic magic was cast upon them to further empower their brute strength in order to use them as a vanguard in large scale battles.
“Mages and archers to the front! Focus fire onto the big ‘uns!”
An elven soldier holding a bow pulled out an arrow shining in a silvery light from his quiver and pulled his string. He would have aimed for its eyes if they were normal trolls, but due to its steel blinders, it didn’t have any particular weaknesses. The elven soldier aimed for the imp riding on a palanquin tightly strapped to the back of the troll’s neck.
The Imp was a sort of a driver, which controlled the troll’s movement by manipulating a wooden peg buried deep enough into the troll’s neck that it touched the spine.
The Elf’s arrow sailed through the air and accurately pierced through the Imp’s collar.
The arrow had punched through the imp’s neck. It fell leftward while still holding onto the reins, and the Depraved Troll followed the dead imp’s lead turning towards the left.
The troll continued turning left until it was on a collision course with another troll.
“Get it! Get that thing!”
Other imps frantically pulled off the dead imp from the driver’s seat and tried to regain control, but another arrow from the elf struck the replacement imp’s body, causing the blind troll to complete its collision with the other troll.
The troll that had been tortured continuously throughout its life began to swing its fists in a mad frenzy at the thing it had collided with. The other troll didn’t hesitate and swung back in response.
As the two massive trolls began to fight to the death in the middle of the vanguard units, the enemy’s assault devolved into chaos. Dozens of imps marching around the trolls’ feet were crushed to death, causing the following procession to momentarily stop.
“Good job, Fagan!”
Deckard tossed a compliment towards the elven man, then headed to the front of the guard post with his staff in hand. Two healthy-looking men grabbed their shields and protected him. Soon, Deckard’s eyes became dyed in a shimmering light.
“You shall feel the might of the Heavens!”
Complex magical formation appeared around his staff. Sungchul could not decipher the concepts behind the magical formation, but he could make a guess towards what magic he was trying to use.
‘Is he trying to use Meteor?’
The dark clouds covering the sky suddenly cleared and something fell from above.
The Devils pointed towards the sky and screamed out in alarm, but no salvation awaited them. Stuck in between the rear guards and the brawling trolls, they could do nothing as the blue comet flew down onto their heads.
A massive explosion occurred in the middle of the enemy’s battle formation, and everything surrounding it was swept away. When the dust settled, countless corpses of Devils were revealed in a concentric circle. This was the might of Meteor which was widely considered as the only reason Cosmomancy existed.
Genghis looked at the scene with smug eyes while stroking his sideburns.
“As expected of Number 23. The ace of the Suicide Unit!”
However, the assault of the demons was just beginning. The Balrogs and Baals, along with other upper-class demons didn’t budge while looking over the battlefield with an oppressive atmosphere from beyond the Hell Siege Engines. To the upper-class demons, it didn’t matter if a couple of insignificant demons were killed.
“Keep sending in the insects.”
It was a tried-and-tested tactic to exhaust the enemy with inferior demons, then obliterate the enemy with the Devils afterwards. They still had plenty of fodder and the night was long. There were hundreds of low-class demons waiting in a formation on a low hill hidden beyond the mountain.
The impressive talent of the Suicide Unit allowed them to repel the approaching enemy, but they eventually lost their edge and became exhausted.
“There is no end to them, sir!”
They were slowly getting caught-up on the battlefield. The elf who had been stumbling the trolls with his impressive archery was now fighting with his blade as he ran out of arrows, and the mages were being driven to exhaustion as they squeezed out the last of their mana.
“These little shits…”
Deckard let out a heavy sigh as he continued to gulp down water from his waterskin, whilst thinking that if he had been drinking mana essence instead, he could have landed another meteor on top of their heads.
“When is the main force coming? We’re defending this spot to our last breath here!”
Genghis was yelling into the bright blue magic formation on the palm of a magician wearing a blue wizard’s hat. Sungchul knew what the magic formation was for. It was a communication formation. It was a convenient magic that magicians of the school of Empathomancy boasted, which allowed people to transmit voices over long distances like mobile phones.
“I’m sorry, but we weren’t notified in advance regarding the status of the attack strategy. If we were told ahead of time regarding this plan, we would have sent out…”
“Fuck! The order to capture the guard post came from your end!!”
Genghis shouted at the top of his lungs. It was so loud that the chaos of the battlefield seemed to grow silent for a moment afterwards.
“Those fucking bastards. They tell us to capture the guard post, and now they say this? A strategy report? Tell them to go fuck themselves. Fucking bastards! All of my men are about to die! What are they going to do about it? Who’s going to be responsible for this?”
The one holding the magic formation only swallowed his words as though he was suppressed by Genghis’ rage. Genghis clenched his eyes and gritted his teeth.
“Okay, I understand now. First off, we have taken over the guard post, and we are still guarding it. However, you have not sent over the backup forces that were promised, and we are going to lose both the guard post and my men. Do you admit to this?”
“No, Mr Aaron. That isn’t the case at all. If only you submitted the status report, we would have promptly…”
“Can’t you shut the fuck up?!”
“…I’ll call over the chief commander.”
It appeared as though the voice behind the magic formation held back as much as he could as well. Even Genghis who was bellowing until a moment ago stopped and cooled his head.
“It’s fine. I’ll bring up this incident another time. The situation is urgent at the moment. Over and out.”
Genghis gripped the shoulder of the magician wearing the blue hat.
The voice could be heard from the magic formation, but he had waved the formation away.
“Bastards. It’s always like this! This is why they’re losing all the major points!”
Genghis spat onto the ground and turned his eyes again towards the battlefield. The battle was taking a turn for the worse. The trolls were all killed, but the gaps created by the Hell Siege Engines allowed the imps to flood in like the tide and the lower demons to climb the watchtower with ladders.
The casualties of soldiers were minimal, but the conclusion of the battle was becoming clearer as time passed. Arkaard spoke in a rush.
“Commander! We must pull back!”
It wouldn’t be a retreat in reality but rather, a final attack to create an escape route.
“Okay! We’ll just have to give up the guard post at this point. I’ll lead the way so everyone, follow me!”
Genghis held his violet-tinted magic sword and stood at the front. It was timed right after they had repelled another wave of assault from the enemy. The imps and demon soldiers climbed ladders onto the watchtower. Soldiers numbering about 80 repelled the attack with all of their remaining strength. Sungchul was also in the centre of it all.
Two imps with steel tridents rushed towards Sungchul, but he burned them away with Glare. Next was the Demon soldier. The plum-skinned lower demons with horns played a pivotal role in the demonic army as they had little magic power, but had decent abilities and greater physical prowess and stamina than the average human.
The demon soldier swung a scythe weighing several dozen kilogrammes towards Sungchul. Sungchul dodged the blade with minimal movements, then placed a beam of light within its open mouth.
Glare’s beam pierced through the roof of the demon’s mouth and seared its brain. It couldn’t penetrate the helmet, but the demon’s crimson eyes turned white, and it fell at Sungchul’s feet.
Deckard approached Sungchul and covered his back.
“It was nothing.”
Another demon soldier leapt at that moment. This time, it was an assault from the skies.
The winged demihuman with the skull of a bird dove in from the sky with a shout. It held a long spear in its hands covered in steel gauntlets and aimed towards Sungchul’s head.
Deckard extended his staff in an effort to cast a spell, but his mana was already exhausted. Glare didn’t materialize. Deckard could only watch with eyes filled with terror as the aerial soldier ambushed Sungchul. Sungchul only continued to look forward and it wasn’t clear whether he was aware of the ambush.
However, Sungchul’s body moved fluidly like water right before the spear could have pierced his skull. His figure appeared like a mirage to the flying demon. There was no impact behind the demon’s spear, and its prey was standing off in the distance.
The spear which had been thrust with all of the demon’s strength was skewered into the ground, and the demon flopped onto the floor with all of its momentum.
The aerial soldier flapped its large wings and tried to fly, but Sungchul’s glare blew away both of its wings.
The wingless demon rolled about on the floor. Sungchul grabbed an iron mace on the floor and executed the demon.
The demon’s skull splattered along with its beak.
Deckard looked at Sungchul with disbelief.
“You. You don’t look like a beginner? Who are you?”
Sungchul was about to turn around to reply, but Genghis’ powerful voice swept through like a typhoon.
“Now! Soldiers! I will open us an escape route. Follow my lead!”
Genghis swung his violet-tinted magic sword and began to jump from the watchtower. Demon soldiers wielding long spears tried to fend him off, but they fell away like leaves from a tree as Genghis’ blade flashed about in the air.
Genghis kicked away the demonic dogs and imps with his feet as he opened up a path.
“Looks like story time is over. It’ll truly become dangerous from this point on, so take care of yourself.”
It was now the soldiers’ turn. They followed Genghis’ lead down the watchtower onto the opened path. The unlucky few became skewered by the raised spears of the demons, while the injured were left to their gruesome fates against the assault of imps and demonic dogs. The survivors fended off the constant assault of the demons as they followed Genghis’ rear with the violet flashes of his sword’s aura guiding their desperate escape.
Deckard was fighting with a sword and shield instead of his staff.
A demon soldier fell as it bled out green blood. To the right, Arkaard was slaughtering imps with his axe swinging it like a windmill, and Fagan the elf was decapitating demonic dogs in a dance. Deckard looked towards the rear. There was a single black-haired man wearing the number 34 on a ragged coat following determinedly. There was no fear nor confusion on his face. Completely natural.
‘That man… just who is he?’
He was definitely not any new recruit. That level of leisure and skill ingrained into every fibre of his being was not something that happened overnight.
“Let’s go! I see the end! Keep at it ‘till the end!”
Genghis, who was leading the charge, shouted noisily. Shrill laughter and shouts of mockery could be heard from the rear. The guard post fell back into the hands of demons, and Balrogs and Baals arrogantly flapped their wings in the moonlight while descending on top of the watchtower. The heads of the dead were propped onto skewers, and their flesh became food for imps and demonic dogs.
Deckard, who was among the survivors, was off to the side, trying to relax. It was a frantic escape against impossible odds.
After they had a moment to catch their breath, he sought out the man who was following behind them. But the man himself, number 34, already stood before Deckard.
“I have survived the battle as promised. It is time to keep your end of the promise.”
He spoke casually without a single hair nor breath out of place.
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