Preparing for Departure — Part 1
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
“I guess the Rogardians must’ve found a way to control monsters.” Phynar muttered to himself as he looked over the report that had just been placed on his desk.
Gathering intelligence on the empire and its machinations was his top priority. Because he didn’t have much to work with. The nation that had recently declared war on him and his allies was one geographically distant from the demon realm. There hadn’t been any interactions of note between them ever before, nor any need to gather information on its intentions. As such, Phynar knew little beyond what was common knowledge. And that was something he was uncomfortable with. He needed all the information he could get if he was to make any accurate deductions or predictions.
The demon realm’s king was actually quite impressed by what he had learned so far, by the fact that the empire had managed to conceal its ability to control monsters for so long. Learning of it and the connection between the fiends and the Rogardians made everything make sense. He had known that someone was backing the fiends and bolstering their forces. And only now did he finally know who. Previous investigations had turned up nothing, which, again, was impressive.
The demon realm’s intelligence bureau was one of the continent’s most capable. Phynar’s spies were nearly unmatched in the art of gathering intelligence. And yet, even they had remained unaware of the coalition prior to its public announcement. This lack of knowledge no doubt stemmed in part from simply not investigating a potential Rogardian connection, but it also served to testify that the two groups had really gone out of their way to keep their relations secret.
“I thought we’d have the upper hand in terms of military force, but with so many monsters and undead among their ranks, it might be a bit hard to say.” Phynar clasped his hands together. “The empire might even be where the undead are coming from.”
“Most likely, sir.” The man standing in front of the king’s desk nodded. “We have obtained several testimonies stating that similar undead creatures have been spotted in the countries that border Rogarde. They appeared shortly before the fiends started to use them. It may be worth noting, sir, that they were not as immediately functional as weapons of war, and most who encountered them dismissed them as inept. I believe that they were experimenting with them at the time.”
“Perhaps the fiends were the ones who improved on their designs and made them better for combat. Still… necromancy? I wonder if that’s why…”
The fiends had made liberal use of the undead abominations. There were traces of them nearly everywhere they went; the dragon that had assailed the elven village was only the latest in a long line of biological weapons. In the end, Phynar decided that it didn’t matter whether the fiends or the Rogardians had made the undead into what they were. The point remained that the coalition was capable of leveraging necromancy to an impressive degree.
An army that could continue to fight, even beyond the grave, was a politician’s wet dream. One could put it to work without the fear of loss, and the dead could often be put to use where the living could not. But even with all its advantages, the use of necromancy in war was often seen as a double edged sword. Many thought of necromancy as taboo and it wasn’t uncommon for every surrounding nation to declare war against the sovereign that decided to employ it. A true double edged sword. One the Rogardians did not appear to mind embracing in full. It was not entirely uncommon for a nation to choose such a path. Morality was nothing before a country’s narrative, after all.
“Let’s focus most of our intelligence gathering on the dead. I’d like to get some countermeasures ready,” said Phynar. “Oh, and is there any news about the coalition’s strategy? Have they started to mobilize yet?”
“Well, sir, it seems they’re uhm… holing themselves up within the empire.” The agent replied awkwardly.
“They still haven’t started moving out?”
“No sir. Most of their troops are rallying in Gallia.”
“What about their borders? Have they toughened them up yet?”
“I don’t think so, sir. They seem to be only as well defended as they would be under normal circumstances. To be honest, sir, it’s hard to tell that they’re at war, if you look at just their borders.”
The circumstances presented were so unthinkable that Phynar was starting to doubt the validity of the information that his men had gathered.
“I’m not quite sure why, but they’re luring us right in. It seems they want the decisive battle to take place near their capital. Perhaps it has something to do with why they’ve started this war to begin with…”
Taking the battle within one’s borders was never desirable. Drawing it to the capital was near madness. There were too many consequences, none of which could even begin to prove beneficial. Phynar concluded that there had to be some sort of reason behind the decision. No wars were fought to be lost, after all.
“Sir, do you think they might’ve declared war because they want a bunch of soldiers to gather in one place?” asked the agent.
“Let’s put off thinking about why they’ve declared war for now. There’s not enough information for us to figure that out just yet,” said Phynar. “Before I make a decision, have you made sure that everything is accurate?”
“We have, sir. We’ve triple checked all our sources.”
“In that case, the conclusion I made earlier is likely correct. They want a clash within their own borders. If we march on Gallia, then we’ll likely discover why this war was declared,” said Phynar. “Do you have any news about the fiends?”
“They were having a staredown with the men we stationed at the southeastern forward base for quite some time,” said the agent. “They withdrew recently. We were unable to pursue as they sent a group of undead at our men to cover their retreat. The base that they had previously used as their headquarters is empty. They’ve likely met up with the Rogardians.”
Phynar pursed his lips and spent a few minutes staring off into space as his mind kicked itself into gear. He didn’t make a sound until he started to draw his conclusions.
“Then we may as well…”
“I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t quite catch that. Did you say something?”
“Yup. I’ve decided on our next course of action,” said the demon realm’s king. “We march. On Gallia.”
“B-but sir, isn’t it most likely a trap?”
“Not most likely, no. It’s definitely a trap,” said Phynar. “But marching on them and springing it is the best choice. I’d rather not let this war drag on for longer than it should. If they want a quick decisive battle, then there’s no reason for us not to oblige. Get the men ready to sortie as soon as possible.”
“U-understood, sir!” said the flustered agent.
“Oh, and could you tell Reiyd that it’s time to have Nell get Yuki for us? And contact the sheep-horned demons for me too, while you’re at it.”
My pets and I were headed straight for Alfyro. I was enjoying the fact that we didn’t have to sneak around and pretend to be human this time. The unrestrained nature of the activity put me in a pretty good mood.
As martial law was in effect, the only people we passed by were soldiers. All the civilians were being told to stay home. Some still seemed a bit intimidated by all the giant monsters casually strolling down the road, but as they knew that we were on their side, they kept to themselves and didn’t bother us.
I took another good look at the city as we got closer and closer. At first glance, it seemed like it was a high security location. There were all sorts of walls with guards stationed on top. The whole being at war thing didn’t exactly help either, as it meant that there were more soldiers than there would’ve been otherwise. And while the headcount did make it seem somewhat impressive, it also didn’t. Okay, I know that was confusing as shit, but what I’m trying to say is that the walls themselves are kinda flimsy. Only reason it doesn’t look boring as shit is ‘cause of all the dudes hanging around.
As far as I was aware, Alfyro was relatively unguarded under normal circumstances. Allysia was on friendly terms with all nearby countries to its south, so the border was, in effect, totally open. The country had decided to loosen restrictions in order to encourage trade. The only reason it now housed so many troops was because it was being used as the “Race Agnostic Alliance’s” temporary base of operations.
Human soldiers weren’t the only ones present. Demons and elves were also hanging around. Most of the men were up and about, working towards the goal of sortieing in the near future.
There was a bit of a clamour when we were first spotted. A great number of gazes were turned towards us as the soldiers began talking amongst themselves. Among the many voices was one that I could never fail to recognize. Its owner was waving at us from atop the fortifications.
“You’re finally here!” she shouted excitedly. “And hi Enne! Nice to see you. Thanks for always keeping Yuki safe.”
“It’s my duty. Master goes places. And I follow. Always.”
The sword was a lot more motivated than usual. She had actually just finished lecturing me right before we left the house, as I hadn’t originally wanted to take her given that I was going to war. She complained that I was mistaking her true essence and depriving her of her duty. That, though she looked like a child, she was in truth a weapon, one meant for keeping me safe and defeating my foes. All while staring straight into my eyes. Yeah uhhhh, I kinda gave in. Couldn’t really win that argument. And is it just me, or are all the girls I live with total badasses? I’m really starting to think that women are the only reason the world is what it is. ‘Cause holy shit, they always get what they want.
“The kings have been waiting for you, so we should probably hurry,” said Nell, as we got to the gate. “Oh, and there’s someone I think you should meet.”