Side story: Gamdia Roston
A strange tingling sensation assaulted Gamdia Roston and awoke him from his slumber.
He sat up and opened his eyes, only to be assaulted by a sense of malaise before he could so much as bring his vision into focus. The atmosphere inside his tent was off. Every last hair on his body stood on end as his eyes anxiously explored his surroundings.
Something was wrong; it almost felt to him like he wasn’t alone.
Trusting his instincts, he grabbed the sword by his bedside as he voiced a question directed to the intruder.
“Oh? It appears that you are able to perceive me.”
It suddenly showed itself. A creature with an outline not too different from that of a human almost seemed to phase into existence before his very eyes. Its form revealed itself little by little, as if slowly seeping out of the darkness.
It, or rather he, had pitch black hair, an eerie crimson eye, and dragon-like wings sprouting from his back. Gamdia was shocked, but his mind remained unfrozen. It informed him that the man that stood before him was most likely a demon, and that he perfectly matched the description of the man that had led the assault on Alfyro.
“Be silent unless you wish for me to immediately deprive you of your life.”
The air that filled the tent almost seemed to become laden with weight the moment the demon opened his mouth. An incredible pressure assaulted Gamdia’s body. It was so heavy that he had to muster up every last fibre of willpower he had just to stay conscious. The dense magical energy radiating off the demon’s body slowly ate away at his spirit, but he continued to resist it. He knew for a fact that his brain would shut down the moment he lost focus.
The veteran soldier broke out into a cold sweat; thick beads of perspiration dripped from his brow down to his face one after another.
After confirming that Gamdia had been silenced, the demon finally began to speak.
After issuing his warning, the demon turned around and vanished into the night. The way his figure disappeared had almost made it seem as if he’d donned a cloak of shadow.
Gamdia began to hyperventilate the moment the other man left. His body scrambled for deep, rapid breaths over and over again. He’d felt as if he’d held his breath through almost the entirety of the encounter. Or rather, it’d felt more like his body had simply forgotten how to breathe while in the demon’s presence.
That was just how much terror the other man had inspired in him.
The soldier knew that the demon was far too powerful for him to handle. In fact, he was convinced that he could have eliminated the entire army with ease, even if every last soldier attacked him at once.
Continuing the expedition simply wasn’t worth it. Officially, the army had been deployed to the Wicked Forest in order to eliminate both the monsters that had attacked Alfyro and the demon that commanded them. But that was only a coverup. Their real goal was to survey the land and the many natural resources that came with it. The higher ups wanted a detailed preliminary investigation so they could move forward with their plans to claim the forest and settle it. All in order to expand the country’s borders. The subjugation was a mere pretense to silence those against the idea.
Personally, Gamdia had thought the whole mission to be a bad joke from the moment he’d received it.
The Wicked Forest was not to be trifled with. The monsters that lived within it were incredibly powerful. Of course, the expedition army had countermeasures. They’d been deployed with a powerful magical device that drove off any monsters in its vicinity. While many other soldiers were more than happy to rely on the technology and trust in their nation’s scientists, Gamdia was not. He knew that the whole expedition army was prone to being annihilated the moment the device failed to serve its function.
Losing the army was only the least of his concerns. The Wicked Forest was known to be the Supreme Dragon’s territory. He had no doubts that the entire nation would be destroyed in the most literal sense of the word if they angered it.
Despite the many risks, his nation’s higher ups had pushed the plan forward and forced him and his subordinates to go along with their recklessness.
Knowing that he hadn’t the choice to refuse, Gamdia applied for a leadership role. He determined that his best course of action would be to take command of the army so that he could minimize the amount of damage dealt to his country’s forces.
But the higher ups once again did not allow him to have his way. They instead delegated the position to an incompetent, foolish noble whose pockets ran much deeper than his mind.
Though his city had been the one subject to the attack, Alfyro’s governor had been strongly opposed to the expedition. He vehemently refused to assist in any which way. And, having met the same demon as him, Gamdia now understood why.
“I need to go talk to the stupid noble in charge and convince him to turn the army around.”
Gamdia spoke to himself in an attempt to calm himself down and return his breathing to normal.
He knew that suggesting a retreat would call his character to question. He would surely be branded a coward and removed from his position—but he didn’t care. He’d been against the expedition from the very start, and wished not for his countrymen to die for meaningless, political bullshit.
He also knew that the noble was in it for the profit. The fool was unlikely to turn the army around regardless of what was said to him. And so, Gamdia resolved to at least take his own subordinates away and lead them to safety.
With that in mind, the soldier got dressed and readied himself to seek an audience with his “superior.”