Editor(s): Joker, Speedphoenix
Five days had passed since the first wave of hostilities. The coalition was eventually able to regain control of its monster corps, but it soon found itself wiped out regardless. Phynar’s countless nasty ploys had the primal division at his mercy. It wasn’t the only one that had suffered at his hand either. Monsters aside, the coalition had already lost roughly a tenth of its army. The alliance wasn’t without any casualties of its own, but knowing that their enemies were trading their lives at a loss kept morale as high as it was on day one.
As far as the numbers went, the alliance appeared to be at an advantage, but Phynar refused to look over the reports with anything but a stern frown.
Something wasn’t quite right.
He had known from the start that there would be some degree of peculiarity, given the number of unknowns, but even then he found himself thinking that there was something wrong. It was almost like the Rogardian army didn’t care about its casualties. They were being too quiet and taking too few actions for a group that was practically walking right into every one of his schemes. There was an unreasonable discrepancy between the empire’s behaviour and its circumstances. It should have been much better prepared, given the amount of time it had stayed under his radar.
It was almost like he was dancing in the palm of some sort of decrepit Rogardian hand.
Not even his scouts had anything to report. There were no signs of any incoming enemy reinforcements, nor any notable detachments. It was the sort of situation that Phynar would have normally handled by biding his time. He needed more information. And he had already sent his right hand man, Lunogill, to gather just that. But the Silent Assassin had not returned from his mission.
Knowing that Lunogill was the demon realm’s best spy, Phynar decided against sending another. There was no point. None of his other agents could pull off something that Lunogill could not. As such, his only choice was to believe in his deductions and continue on with his plan. The die had already been cast. There was no turning back.
Breathing a sigh, the monarch stood up from his desk and exited his tent.
It was already late at night. And while the scents of blood and smoke were still present in the wind, the countless corpses that littered the battlefield were no longer visible, hidden beneath a curtain of darkness. The camp, however, was still as lively as ever. The soldiers on night duty saluted him as he walked through the alliance’s HQ and made his way to one of its outer boundaries.
Standing by one of the exits was the King of the Beastkin.
“Thank you for coming, Valderoy,” said Phynar. “It looks like it’s time for this new unit of yours to show its stuff.”
“Leave it to us, Phynar. We understand how important this duty is. I swear to you that we will see it through.”
He smiled in the sort of way that only a fearless warrior could. Behind him were several neat lines of demons and beastkin, all exuding a similar air of confidence. The men knew that they had been selected for their abilities. They were all fast, sneaky, and capable of seeing perfectly in the dark—the perfect group for a nighttime raid. Their weapons and armour had been dyed black to better blend into the night, and even their faces were covered in war paint to minimize the amount of light they would reflect and therefore the chances of them being discovered.
“Are you really going to join the fray? I know I asked you to take command and be a teensy bit responsible for everything the unit’s going to be doing, but that wasn’t exactly what I had in mind,” said Phynar.
“I may as well. I wouldn’t get anything done here even if I decided to stay behind. Don’t worry about me. I will be trying my best to stay out of combat and I already have a successor in place, so the country’s administration will not suffer, even if I fall. I am ready to give this mission my all, as are my men.”
“I… understand,” said Phynar with a solemn nod. “I believe this should have already been mentioned to you, but I would like to remind you that, while most of the traps have been taken care of, some do still remain. The best route to follow will be the one Eldegaria has outlined.”
“We plan to follow it perfectly. I have no intention of dying to a set of traps that we are well aware of.”
The conversation between the two monarchs continued until it was suddenly interrupted by an elven messenger. The long-eared agent shouted out a report in a hurried tone.
“We’re under attack, sir! Some of the men on night duty have discovered a group of undead abominations on our right flank. They’ve already sortied to engage!”
“How many of them are there?” asked Phynar.
“Roughly thirty in total!”
“Understood. I’ll be sending some reinforcements that way shortly. Have the surveillance network keep an eye on the other areas as well. Knowing the coalition, this first wave is likely just a diversion they’re hoping to use to catch us off guard. Keep in mind that the enemy is capable of teleporting their troops around.”
The elven soldier cast a spell called Whisper and informed the other groups of the king’s commands. Soon, the whole camp kicked itself into gear. Noise could be heard as the various troops began making a stir.
“Are you sure you would like us to proceed as planned?” asked the king of the beastkin.
“Yuppers. Don’t worry about the base. Doda and I will have it all under control. The best thing you can do to help us is to hit them back as hard as you can,” explained Phynar. “Abandoning the operation would help the Rogardians more than it would help us.”
“Don’ you woorry yourself, aye beastblood? Me an me boys have this one coovered,” said Doda, the dwarven king. “Those undead, aye, we’s gonna give ‘em the good ol’ axe and be done wit eet.”
The jolly laugh prompted the king of beasts to smile.
“Having a group of comrades as strong as you mountain dwellers is a blessing to say the least. I’ll leave this place in your hands, Doda.”
With a firm handshake, the animal-eared monarch turned around and stepped into the night. He and his men soon vanished, as if becoming one with the darkness.
“I’ll leave reinforcing the right flank to you, Doda. Be prepared for a long night. I’m oh so sure this won’t be the last of them.”
“Hah, compared to keepin’ an eye on me forge, this be nootin’ mate. Sometimes, we’s gotta make ourselves camfertable ‘n hammer away fer a whole day er two, aye? Swingin’ me axe and kickin’ some arse is nice and easy, ‘pared to firin’ up a good piece of gear.”
With a grin, the shorter monarch lifted his greataxe over his shoulder and shouted to his men.
“Y’hear the man, lassies? It’s time that we show these gravewalkers what we mountain dwellers are aboot. Pick yerselves up and get to work!”
The demon king didn’t just watch as the other man led his troops. He also kept busy by preparing his own set of orders.
“Give the shocktroopers the signal. It’s time for them to get their operation underway.”
The elven soldiers reacted with a bit of a start, as if hearing a sudden noise, before raising their voices and repeating the messages they were relayed.
“Captain, it’s time!”
“Good.” The ship’s commander adjusted his hat. “Men! It’s time to show the empire what this airship of ours can do. The guys back home have already given us the go ahead. Let’s get a move on and beat these damn imperial dogs into submission!”
The announcement was met with a series of cheers.
After waiting for his men to quiet down, the captain then issued a more precise command.
“All hands on deck! Forward!”
The crew immediately hopped into action. The ship, which had been standing by in midair, finally began to move. Its engines bellowed as they groaned to life. The sound was so deep it shook me to my core. And yet, it remained undetectable outside of the ship’s confines. The mages on board were using their spells to ensure that none of the reverberations would leak into our surroundings.
As could be deduced from the ship’s jet black exterior, we were on a stealth mission. Leila’s teacher had even cast a spell on it to make us harder to spot. It’s some weird ass optical camouflage bullshit. The whole goddamn ship is basically totally fucking invisible to everyone that’s not already onboard. No wonder they call her the Illusion Master or whatever the fuck it was.
With that said, we would still show up on the dungeon’s map. Phynar was aware of that and had devised a plan to serve as a countermeasure. We were going to abuse the fact that the map’s display was two dimensional and approach the city with two units at once. One would be on land, while the other would be flying directly above it.
The ground team would draw the enemy’s fire and focus while we paratrooped our way into the capital. Once in position, we would be able to catch the enemy’s defense squad off guard, regroup with the ground team, and raid the shit out of their base.
Much to nobody’s surprise, Phynar was doing a good job of using each race’s most notable traits to his advantage. The elves, for example, weren’t all that great from a physical standpoint. Most were casters and spent their long lives honing their magical abilities, so he moved them away from the front lines in order to put together a team that more or less served as an artillery unit.
On the other hand, the beastkin and dwarves were much tougher than most other races, so he made them our vanguard. They looked badass as fuck doing it too. Dudes were cleaving monsters in half left and right. Most of them only needed one hit each. Actually pretty fucking insane.
The humans’ and demons’ roles were a lot less monolithic. All the different demonic races had different specialities, so they were mostly shuffled around based off of those. Most of the human specialties were actually less combat oriented. Magically weaker than elves and physically weaker than dwarves and beastkin, they weren’t capable of serving as specialists. That wasn’t to say that they weren’t contributing, however. Their technologies and leadership skills were both far beyond what all the other races could offer.
They had been responsible for setting up our positions and traps. They also proved incredibly effective in any scenario where quantity was more valuable than quality, such as when there was a need for a barrage of arrows.
The team I was with, the shocktroopers, was composed almost entirely of winged demons. I guess being able to fly kinda makes you a pretty major asset, huh?
“T minus three minutes until descent!” shouted one of the sailors as he opened a door leading to the ship’s exterior.
“Yuki, please get ready to depart.” One of the demonic soldiers approached me shortly afterwards just to make doubly sure that I got the message.
“Alrighty,” I said.
The only thing on my todo list was to give my pets their orders, so I activated Farspeak and did just that.
Alright guys, it’s time. Orochi, Rir, you two are in front. Byakku, Wsprit, you two are in the back. Yata’ll be in charge of keeping an eye on shit from above. If it looks like you guys can break through the enemy lines, then meet back up with me. If you can’t, then just focus on helping our allies. Honestly, it’s pretty much just the same shit as usual, just that our enemies are way weaker. Knock ‘em around all you want, but don’t die, alright? Not here, of all places.
Each of their cries echoed energetically within my mind and brought a reassured smile to my face. With that out of the way, I turned to the captain, who had come to see the shocktrooper unit off.
“You know, I never did catch your name. Hell, we haven’t actually formally introduced ourselves to each other at all.”
“Hmmm… now that I think about it, it seems you’re right,” he replied.
The other men in my unit started jumping one by one as the two of us talked.
“It’s time! Get out there and give ‘em hell!”
With a bright smile, the captain saluted me like the soldier he was.
“I am Colonel Genoss Laurein, commander of the Elren Union’s First Aerial Division,” he said. “Best of luck out there.”
“And I’m Yuki, a demon lord. I’m not really with anyone, and I’m kinda just doing my own shit,” I said. “Make sure you live through this though, alright? I’ve been wanting to show the kids your ship. It’s badass as hell.”
“You have kids? I wouldn’t have guessed it,” he said. “And of course. I’d be happy to give them a tour, when the time comes.”
After exchanging a hand shake, I gave him one last wave, hoisted Enne over my shoulder, and jumped out of the airship.
I activated stealth and hid myself from view as I cut through the air like an arrow. Both my wings were deployed. I was using them to give myself more control over my speed and angle. That wasn’t to say I was slowing myself down. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I continued at terminal velocity until I was only moments from the ground. Only then did I suddenly unfurl my wings and use them as air brakes so I could minimize the amount of noise I made as I landed atop a cobblestone-paved road.
After using my knee as a cushion to absorb the impact of my arrival, I popped open my inventory, grabbed several dozen Evil Eyes, and released them all into my surroundings.
As was made obvious by all noise near the walls, the ground team was already present and likely in combat.
“Yuki! We’ll be moving out shortly to go help the others and catch the enemy defenses from behind. Please join us!”
The demons’ commander approached me after confirming that everyone had landed safely.
“Sure,” I said. “You ready, Enne? It’s time for us to go meet back up with the pets.”
“Mhm,” she replied, telepathically. Her voice was more full of energy than usual.
And so, after making it into the capital undetected, I finally began to play my part.