“I will not believe those words.”
Aquiroa’s words were filled with disgust. A chilling light flashed within the dark interior of the Vagabond King’s helmet.
“But, what will you do if that Regressor’s words turn out to be true?”
A soft, but unrefusable words flowed out from within the helmet.
“Shouldn’t we take measures?”
“Measures? Such as?”
When the Vagabond King asked, Shamal looked over at Aquiroa the Executor. She remained silent for a brief moment before stating,
“Whether that girl’s words are true or not, we must stop Sungchul if he appears here.”
“How do you plan on stopping him, Aquiroa?”
The Vagabond King spoke while flashing his eyes once again.
Aquiroa fixed her mask and spoke formally in her grating voice with strength behind her words.
“As long as the Demon King does not die, the Calamity will be halted at the first level. At a level that can be managed by us. We have seen that my thoughts were in the right during the past eight years. The viability of our plan has already been demonstrated. We must not allow the status quo we’ve worked so hard to maintain to be shaken, your majesty.”
Aquiroa observed strict formality unlike when she was dealing with Shamal.
The Vagabond King let out a heavy sigh before asking again.
“Are you trying to tell me that it is possible to delay the Calamity? And yet some people say that the Calamity cannot be stopped or delayed. What do you have to say about this?”
“Heathens that call themselves as the Order of the End have said those exact words. However, what do those heathens know? They are fallen people that have scattered and resorted to thieving, prostitution, and begging as they failed to predict their own fates and lost their land and crown. There is no need to take heed to a single utterance of their words.”
She became a bit excited, but her words continued without faltering and with powerful strength throughout.
“If the honored lady’s thoughts are so, then I have nothing more to add.”
The Vagabond King spoke as such and did not open his mouth again.
When the individual she was most careful with had turned silent, Aquiroa got the opportunity to speak her mind without any interruptions.
“If Sungchul appears in this area, we’ll use everything to take care of him.”
“If killing him is impossible?”
Shamal suddenly tossed out his question to which Aquiroa let out a soft laughter.
“Not that it would happen, but if that becomes the case, we must at least protect THAT from him.”
Sujin felt unease at Aquiroa’s tone.
“And that is?”
When Shamal followed up with a question, Sujin’s unease hit its peak, and Aquiroa’s blunt answer confirmed her suspicions.
“Protect him. The Demon King Hesthnius Max.”
When dawn broke, the full might of the Devil Army that had been veiled in darkness was revealed. The Devils had the numbers to envelop the horizon from end to end. The sight of hell siege engines and the gigantic towering monsters were intimidating to behold. The soldiers positioned on top of the hill began to murmur when they saw the grand army of the devils.
“Look over there, it’s a variant of Tam Tam! It looks as terrifying as it is described in ancient texts.”
“Is that the Hell Siege Engine that is their main weapon of war? It’s larger and scarier than I had imagined it.”
“There’s also juvenile Sea Demons. If the babies are that huge, I can’t even grasp how large their adults are.”
The soldiers reacted with curiosity rather than fear. The morale of the allied forces commanded by Martin Breggas was so high that it could pierce the clouds. More importantly, an important mission weighed on their shoulders; the sacred mission of protecting one’s home and family.
The Army gathered under the banner represented every spare warrior from the front lines of the Demon Realm and its neighboring territories. If Harupaya Ridge were to fall, then let alone Trowyn, the territories of Storm Battlefront and the Elven Tribal Alliance of Varan-Aran which neighbored the ridge would also be in immediate danger. The Elves and Dwarves that have lived on their land for thousands of years burned with a greater sense of duty than the humans.
“Victory or death.”
Sungchul had to hear this phrase being repeated hundreds of times as he roamed about the dwarven barracks.
A steady stream of new updates was brought by the scouts to this location. Currently, the Devil that commanded the Demon Army was not the Demon King Hesthnius, but a High Devil below him known as Prontorowa. He was a commander whose rank wasn’t particularly high, being ranked 8th, but he was ancient even among the devils. He had lived for tens of thousands of years, so he was said to be a cunning devil well versed in vile black magic and military strategy.
Martin’s headquarters had determined that the devil itself was not a strong combatant, but it more than made up for it with abundant experience with commanding large-scale operations, making it an especially tricky enemy to deal with.
Sungchul was lingering around Martin’s tent; gathering all of the needed information.
‘Prontorowa. It looks like he wasn’t there during the last attack on the Demon King’s Palace.’
If this devil had been there, he couldn’t have been here. Sungchul had killed every devil in sight during that assault.
Whatever the case, the good news was that the upcoming battle on Harupaya Ridge seemed to be slightly in favor of the humans. Their numbers were three times lower than their opposition, but they held the advantageous terrain along with seasoned troop with high morale. The desires of Martin who stood as their leader was also quite high. His selfish desire to have his favored offspring hoard the merits stood out, but it was undeniable that the man desired victory overall. He personally oversaw various parts of the battle line to inspect the deployment and the state of soldiers and used a pittance from his own pockets to rile up their morale.
The civil militia led by Martin’s child also had unexpectedly high combat potential. It didn’t quite meet up to the Order of the Iron Blood Knights in their heydays, but they had a number of powerful warriors that could hope to meet up to those standards. If they were placed in the right place at the right time, they had the potential to change the flow of battle in a single moment.
‘It looks like Ahmuge’s prediction won’t come to pass.’
Ahmuge’s predictions were something he passed through one ear and out the other, but it couldn’t be completely ignored. Regressors tend to speak of uncertain futures, but it was undeniable that the future they had seen was one of many that could unfold. Fortunately, if the battle would continue at this rate, then Sungchul would not have to reveal himself here.
Sungchul estimated that the human faction had over 70% chance of victory. Even if they did not win, they would not suffer a defeat as the devils would have incurred a large enough casualty to make any further invasion impossible. In other words, it meant that he had no reason to step up whether they win or lose. That is, as long as nothing exceptional happened that could cause the frontline to fall apart.
Meanwhile, Sungchul’s division was stationed at the left flank where the terrain was particularly rough.
Sungchul’s unit had been dispatched toward the left flank of Harapuya ridge where it was especially dangerous. The dwarves who were especially skilled in mountain battle formed the main front line of the left flank, and a great many of their famous siege artillery were fielded. And to combat possible assault by air, many units of Elven bowmen were likewise deployed with the Dwarves. Sungchul was planning on giving his all as the guest mage, Ahmuge Kim, during this battle.
‘It should be enough if I destroy about 10 Hell Siege Engines.’
Firepower superiority over the left side should be decided with that amount.
Sungchul had a light heart as he waited for the battle. He utilized the leftover time to practice Alchemy as he had always done in an effort to raise his Intuition and walked up and down the ridge with the dwarves to get familiarized with the nearby terrain.
The day of battle soon approached. A messenger from the devils came to Martin. It was a demand for surrender asking for passage through the region in return for a guarantee from the Demons that the surrounding regions will not be harmed. And as a bonus, the Demons offered to impart their knowledge of magic. Martin refused the offer without hesitation and prepared for battle. The Commander of each division relayed orders to prepare for battle.
The Defensive Unit of Kaal Bomba that Sungchul was affiliated with began to inspect their weapon and armor before standing along the battle line. Devils nearing a hundred thousand stood before them.
“There is a disgusting amount of them.”
“It looks like there’s more here than yesterday, or am I just seeing things?”
“It’s a good thing that there are more devils to kill.”
Dwarves swapped light hearted jokes as they put the final touches to their oversized crossbows and axes.
Elven archers stood behind the Dwarven Axemen. Contrary to the noisy dwarves, they calmly stood their ground and gauged the strength and direction of the wind with their fingertips. The thundering voice of the Commander rang out in the distance. He was far away and on a different elevation making it difficult to understand what he was saying, but people knew that the voice belonged to the head commander of the allied forces, Martin Breggas.
Martin Breggas who stood behind the banner of a winged skull in flashy armor looked over his subordinates and began a speech to raise their spirits. It wasn’t clear whether the speech had actually managed to raise their morale, but it at least appeared so on the outside.
The sound of the horn flute of the devils came next.
“Prepare for battle!”
The commands of the non-commissioned officers rang out in every direction with a slight delay.
The dwarven axes moved in perfect order to form an axe-shield wall.
‘As expected of veteran soldiers polished through a hundred battles on the Demon Realm Frontlines. It would be impossible for the common devil to break through.’
Sungchul turned his gaze to look toward the commander situated below. The central unit that Martin was commanding was mainly composed of humans, and they were the core force of the allied forces made up of powerful mages experienced in battles big and small and veteran mercenaries hired from various regions. Behind Martin was his son, Parlim Dargott. The powerful Trowyn Civil Militia commanded by him was holding the ground as reserve forces. The central unit was the most powerful among the entire army.
The most concerning region was the right wing held by the Order of the Iron Blood Knights. They formed a defensive barrier composed of two unique fortresses said to have been made by taking apart ancient artifacts, but the number of the Order of the Iron Blood Knights were greatly diminished, and their morale had hit rock bottom. Sungchul held a great deal of suspicion regarding that topic.
‘Martin’s personality was the worst, but he is a man of great ability. Why did that man leave such an important right wing to that husk of a group?’
The way Sungchul saw it, it was only a matter of time before the Order of the Iron Blood Knights crumbled. They would endure until the end, but that would be just that. A story regarding Martin suddenly appeared in Sungchul’s mind.
‘Could it be? Did that bastard dispatch the Order of the Iron Blood Knights to their graves on purpose?’
The blades of the spear held by the civil militia of Trowyn glistened in the sunlight as they stood behind the central unit. It was the moment that Martin’s intentions connected clearly in Sungchul’s mind.
He could feel a familiar feeling of revulsion in his stomach.
‘To use them as stepping stones even during a battle with the survival of humanity on the line.’
It wasn’t only Martin Breggas. Those that held their vested interest in this land with a death grip made a choice no different than Martin.
Sungchul did not detest avarice or self-interest. Inversely, he believed that avarice and self-interest were the driving force of forward progress. It was just that those with power in Other World exceeded the bounds of greed. They had forsaken their duties and had repeatedly chosen options that benefited themselves. They didn’t care how many died in the process. These were people that would offer up the entire world for their own security.
Sungchul’s hatred of humanity that he had forgotten about began to bubble back up from the depth of his heart. He now had to question whether he should participate in the battle since the ones who would benefit the most from the battle would be Martin and his child. The faces of Sophia who had been abandoned by her own father and Elijah who would live out the rest of his life in eternal suffering entered his mind.
It was at that moment.
“What are you standing there frozen for, human friend?”
The dwarves including Kaal Bomba had surrounded Sungchul at one point.
“He couldn’t be stricken by fear, is he?”
“Well, there is no way someone of your calibre is scared, but an army of that size is enough to make one freeze, but don’t be so concerned.”
The dwarves marched forward past Sungchul.
“This land is our land and home. We will definitely protect this place with our blood and life.”
The reserved elves bowed toward Sungchul and followed after the dwarves. Sound of the horn flutes of the devils rang out toward the skies, and the Hell Siege Engine began to pour out fire. The battle had finally begun.
Sungchul calmed his momentarily turbulent heart as he stood beneath the banner that was fluttering in the strong gale flowing along the top of the mountain’s high points.
‘That’s right. I’m not fighting for my own benefit.’
Nausea and repulsion still swirled in his mouth, but Sungchul shrugged off those emotions and stepped confidently onto the battlefield.
“I’ll leave the counting of Meteors to you once more.”
“Can’t you just fight with the hammer?”
Soon, meteors began to fall from the sky and mercilessly struck the Hell Siege Engines spewing green flames. Five of the Hell Siege Engines broke apart in moments due to Sungchul’s Meteor.
Cries of cheer echoed from every direction and the dwarven siege weapons spat out flames in response. Firepower superiority of the left-wing was being firmly grasped by the dwarves. Everything was proceeding smoothly.
As Sungchul thought this, there were some unexpected movements from the right-wing of the battlefield.
“It is now. My brothers. Let us deal proper punishment toward the traitors that turned their backs on us.”
The tip of the spears held by the Order of the Iron Blood Knights towards the direction of the devil army suddenly reversed. They were now faced towards none other than the army commanded by Martin Breggas.
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