The Campaign Begins — Part 2
Editor(s): Joker, Speedphoenix
We found ourselves nearing the Rogardian border after several long days on the road. Despite our proximity, the Coalition had yet to resist in any shape, way, or form. They simply continued to hole themselves up in Gallia.
According to the scouts, the men in charge of the Coalition’s border had actually retreated upon realizing our impending arrival. They appeared to be heading to the capital in order to regroup with the forces stationed there. Likewise, none of the cities or villages along the way had any troops stationed within, and all of them seemed fully intent on surrendering as soon as we reached them. What the actual fuck? Are they really turtling THIS hard? I mean, it’s not like I really give a shit, since all our plans and whatnot are pretty much based on them walling up. Guess we gotta just keep our guards up and march.
Though we were on the verge of entering the empire’s territory, we didn’t stop to make camp until the sun started to set. The process of setting up a temporary base was one that I continued to find entertaining, even having seen it several times. The soldiers never needed more than thirty minutes to go from marching to relaxing. Guess it’s ‘cause there aren’t any conscripts, and everyone here is technically a professional full time soldier.
The tents were actually separated by race to minimize any unnecessary conflicts. I found the precaution reasonable, as while I didn’t know too much about the beastkin, demons, dwarves. or elves, I did at least know that the humans had been picking fights with just about everyone else for generations. With that said, it seemed like everyone was getting along pretty well. I saw a bunch of different mixed race groups eating and drinking together. Guess it’s ‘cause we’re all fighting on the same side now.
Unsurprisingly, the atmosphere was actually rather tense, so tense in fact that I could practically feel it on my skin as I walked through the camp. Everyone knew that we were going to be stepping into enemy territory first thing tomorrow morning, courtesy of some of the intel that the superior officers had disseminated.
It didn’t take me long to find my destination, a very specific extra fancy tent. Phynar’s guards had clearly already been made aware of the fact that I’d be coming, as the two in front of the entrance nodded, saluted, and stepped aside without a word.
“Hey man, heard you need to talk to me about something?” I casually greeted the king as I stepped through the flaps covering the tent’s entrance.
“Oh, hiya Yuki.” He looked up from the map he was staring at. “I’m super duper glad you’re here. I thought it was about time to explain the little old job I wanted you to do.”
Finally. Dude kept putting it off when I was asking him earlier. Kept going on and on about how not all the pieces were in place just yet.
“Well? I’m listening.”
“Alright, now where do I begin? Oh, I know! We’re going to be using the whole army as bait. You’ll be in charge of actually hitting them where it hurts. The end!”
Uh… that was simple.
“So I kinda get what you’re saying, but like, you’re probably going to need to tell me a bit more than just that.”
“I’m sorry, but there’s not much more. The only other teensy bit I can tell you is that I’m planning to do a bunch of things with the army, but none of it should really matter, as far as you’re concerned. You’ll be with an elite team of ambushers, though I guess it’d be more accurate to call them shocktroopers. You and your wonderful new friends will be storming their headquarters and giving their top brass a nice little trim.”
Shocktroopers, eh? Not bad. Definitely sounds more applicable than an ambush squad. ‘Cause if they’ve really got a demon lord, then they’ve also definitely got a map. Setting up an ambush wouldn’t exactly work. The concept of a demon lord’s map was something that I had previously explained to the counsel. Not that I went into any real details. Just gave ‘em the good old tl;dr.
“So uhhhh… I’m guessing we’re supposed to fly in or something while the armies are busy going at each other?”
“Oh, what a nice little surprise. I didn’t realize you already knew.”
“Allow me to introduce you to another member of our alliance,” he said. The unpleasant, sinister smile on the twink’s face seemed to make it look like he was having an excessive amount of fun. “It just so happens he just got here.”
I turned to look at the tent’s entrance, where I found myself eyeing a certain familiar face.
“It’s been some time since we’ve last seen each other, demon,” he said, confirming that I wasn’t just imagining the sense of familiarity. “The Elren Union is at your service.”
“Wait, wait, holy shit. Weren’t you that one airship’s captain?”
Pretty sure he was. He’s totally the guy Lefi and I bailed out when we were flying to Drakenstead.
“Damn man, long time no see. Didn’t know you guys joined the Alliance.”
“Missing out on this fight would just be throwing away a bunch of opportunities, and the Rogardians have been a goddamn thorn in our side for too many years now. I don’t see any reason we’d ever refuse the opportunity to slug ‘em in the face,” he said with a grin.
I’m pretty sure he said something about not being on good terms with the Empire all the way back then too. Yeah, makes plenty of sense for them to join us, even if they used to be at odds with the demons and whatnot. Guessing good old Phynar’s got a hand in that one. Dude probably pulled some strings and did some of his negotiation mumbo jumbo.
“Your involvement with them made it delightfully easy to convince them to join us. They nearly said yes the moment they realized you were on our side,” said the demon king.
“Uhhh… well uhm… glad to be of service, I guess,” I said, awkwardly. “So are we planning on hopping aboard one of their airships or something?”
“Mhm! You’ll be getting on board one of their lovely, state of the art flying warships and heading for part of the castle that houses the Coalition’s headquarters. It won’t matter what they’re planning if you blow up their chain of command.”
Welp. My pets are definitely not fitting aboard one of those. I’ll probably have to have them take a different route. Doubt meeting up’ll be an issue. They can probably kill their way out of any situation they get stuck in.
“I mean, I’ll do what I can, but don’t expect too much, alright? One of my wives was just lecturing me about putting my life first, so I’m definitely going to try not to go off the rails. If shit’s looking south, I’m bailing the fuck out.”
“Oh, don’t you worry Yuki. I know you’ll do just fine,” said Phynar. “But even if you do fail, it won’t be the end of the world. We’ve got quite a few plans up our sleeves, just in case, but I already know we won’t need any of them.”
He smiled in a bright and cheerful manner, a stark contrast from his usual creepier grin. I mean, I’m glad he trusts me and all that, but like… Iunno if it’s just me, but I’m pretty sure his confidence is misplaced.
The twenty second Rogardian emperor, Draggodt Gandowell Rogarde, stood in the midst of what looked to be a laboratory. Tools and devices of all different types were strewn about the room, but his attention was focused on none of them. He looked instead towards a document featuring a list of different words and symbols.
“What do you have to report?” He spoke without looking towards the subject he was addressing.
“We bring good tidings, Your Imperial Majesty. The war efforts are all going according to plan. The enemy has entered our borders and we expect their army to arrive on our doorstep in approximately forty hours.” The man averted his gaze awkwardly. “However, I must also apologize. The intruder that you have informed us of is still on the loose. He has evaded our best efforts to capture him, but we will endeavour t—”
“He’s already infiltrated Gallia.” The emperor cut the soldier off as he opened the book he always kept by his side and flipped to one of its pages. “Don’t waste any more time on him. Have the men tighten up security in the surrounding area instead. It doesn’t matter what he finds so long as he doesn’t break into this facility.”
“Y-yessir! Orders received!”
“What about the demons?” asked Draggodt, “what are they up to?”
“On the surface, they appear to be obeying orders. They are currently in formation with our troops. It is likely that they are up to a scheme of sorts, but I believe it is safe for us to consider them allies for the purposes of the upcoming battle.”
“Stay vigilant. That damned redhead is not the sort of man to follow another’s orders. He’s just waiting for the right time to bare his fangs.”
“I understand, Your Majesty. I will let the troops in charge of watching them know that they’d best stay on their guard.”
“Good. Be quick about it. The decisive clash is soon approaching. We can’t let ourselves fail, no matter what the circumstances.”
The soldier saluted, and then immediately left the room.
“This world is nearly incapable of change,” said the emperor, now alone. “If left to our own devices, we’ll do nothing but continue to fight amongst ourselves. We’ve never learned to prosper without trampling over the lives of others. It’s like we live in hell itself.”
He looked up at a certain object as he continued muttering under his breath.
“To rise above that fallacy is to obtain a power great enough to force all others to their knees in awe. It is necessary to surpass our mortal coils and seek the eternity that lies beyond. Isn’t that right, oh great Overlord of Death?”
His query remained unanswered. For both the days that preceded the war.