Even with the combined might of Sistina’s army and the magic knights, progress in containing the horde of demonic beasts was slow. While the demonic beasts had been tougher to defeat due to their increased stats over their normal forms, they were not individually weaker than the battle-hardened fighters and experienced mages present. However, taking them down took time, and as the entire horde continued to advance forward, any monsters that came close to the demon became infected with miasma, contributing to the horde.
The infected monsters also did not have a sense of self-preservation, so they continued to mindlessly attack all those that were near. The demon himself stayed in the back, seemingly controlling the demonic beasts to keep the combatants from getting close. Without taking out the source, they had no choice but to continue thinning out the ranks in order to reach him.
The demon grinned as he seemed to be enjoying himself. When knights or soldiers had fallen in battle, he would casually advance up to them and abuse their bodies until they were no longer recognizable before casting them aside. This action only served to rile up the collective army, but that didn’t matter to him. He was having the time of his life. Revenge was all he could think of, as he was savoring every moment of his newfound power.
Elsewhere in the capital of Engelberg –
Chancellor Willingham was looking over the reports of the demonic horde’s advance on the capital. Overseeing law and order across the kingdom of Sistina, he was the man in charge of a majority of the decision making. His authority over others essentially made him the right hand of the king, as nothing but the most important of decisions made it past him.
As he skimmed the briefing that was passed to him just moments ago, the door to his office suddenly opened with a bang.
“Lord Chancellor! Why am I not being deployed to combat the demons?!” Saki the Destroyer barked at her master. “In times such as these, don’t the legends say that heroes, the Electi, are what is needed to drive them away?”
“Calm yourself. It is not the time to send you to battle just yet. Let’s leave the battle to the kingdom’s forces for now,” he replied without even taking an eye off the report.
“But people, people are dying out there! You heard what happened to the region of Madiswil! Such abominations cannot be allowed to exist!”
Willingham looked up at that moment. “Your time will come soon enough. Stand down for now. That’s an order.”
Saki hesitantly backed down. She couldn’t stomach the fact that demons had shown up and started terrorizing the innocent townsfolk. Her hand itched to wield her hammer in order to crush the foes invading the kingdom, but her master ordered her not to. He had always been right in the past, hadn’t he?
Saki walked over to the window and stared in the direction of the battlefield, longing to be there.
“I hope you’re right, master. I sure hope so,” she whispered, lightly fogging up the glass.
As the battle raged on, the soldiers and knights fought the demonic beasts in rotation. It had already been half a day since they had intercepted the horde and started working on repelling its advance towards the capital. Many of them had grown heavily fatigued from the long, drawn-out battle.
It was now Cornelius’s turn to retreat temporarily to get some rest.
While he was one of the strongest magic knights in the kingdom, even he would grow fatigued from continual magic consumption. The battlefield behind him was littered with traces of ice magic that was used to freeze the monsters in place so that others could swoop in to finish them off. The squadrons of soldiers working with him had a relatively easier time than others.
He approached Director Castia, who was head of the magic guild.
“Any progress?” She asked, seeing one of her senior knights return.
“Very slow. Even with the most powerful attackers, the defense and magic resistance of those beings is quite high. We are having trouble stopping their advance.” Cornelius waved a hand with a sigh.
“How long do we have?”
“At this rate, I believe they’ll reach the city gates by sometime tomorrow morning.”
“At this rate….hmmm.” Castia rubbed her chin.
That was assuming that they could maintain their pace until then. However, she could see that with every rotation, the men and women were growing more and more tired. Even with the hefty supply of healing and mana recovery potions, nothing could replace the fatigue that was starting to weigh down their bodies. With growing fatigue came the tendency for more mistakes, leading to the loss of battle potential as even a small mistake could cost someone their lives.
“What else can we do but call back the other teams and request for more reinforcements?” Castia let out a heavy sigh.
“Whatever we do, we must act soon. There is no time to –”
New sounds emerged from the right flank of the horde. Castia and Cornelius peered in the direction of the noise and saw something strange at the edge of the formation.
The crowd of demonic beasts appeared to be scattering as new combatants made their way through them. Fireballs and wind blades danced through the air as someone driving a cart cast the magic into the crowd of monsters. In front of the cart, it appeared as if a person was gliding through the air, straight into the path of an attacking monster. As the person was momentarily obscured behind it, the monster was suddenly sliced in half before said person reemerged, zooming past them.
“Is that…a chef uniform?” Someone around them exclaimed.
As the person started coming into focus, sure enough, it was the familiar chef named Claude Evers riding on his levi-board that had been slicing the monsters with ease. That would mean that the person behind him was his master, Knight Eryn Faulkner.
While a bit surprised, Cornelius was not at all unhappy that the two had shown up. Did that mean that they discovered something in Madiswil that would help them turn the tide? He couldn’t help but hope that was the case as their options had grown limited.
Though Cornelius had not thought much of the man at first, time and time again, the chef surprised him. First, with his peculiar intellect. Next, with abilities unlike any that he had seen before. And just recently, with the courage to follow through with the craziest of plans.
Even at this very moment, Cornelius couldn’t help but think ‘What does he have in store this time?’, as his expression curled into a smile.
This levi-board certainly came in handy. I had initially bought it for more convenient travel and for a bit of fun in my spare time, but I couldn’t deny that it worked well traversing an open field full of monsters. Eryn had suggested that I give it a try as we made our way to the battlefield.
While it was awkward at first, I quickly got the hang of aiming for weak spots while controlling the board. Not long after, I started enjoying the sensation of gliding through the air as I sliced through the monsters effortlessly.
“I could really get used to this!” I yelled out to Eryn, who was busy casting magic from the cart.
“Not now, Claude!” Eryn yelled back as she released another round of wind blades in front of her.
Her magic was not powerful enough to kill the demonic beasts, but they were stunned long enough for me to glide up to them for the killing blow. By working together, we quickly made our way through the horde.
Soldiers and knights who saw their targets suddenly obliterated in front of them watched in awe, before regaining their posture to tackle more monsters that replaced them.
We hadn’t joined the battle to simply help with taking out monsters. Eryn apparently had a plan after going into that room, but she didn’t really tell me what she saw besides confirming that the rest of the Madiswil family had been killed.
After slaying several more monsters that were caught in the path of our combo attack, Eryn caught sight of the ones that she had been looking for, Castia and Cornelius.
“Up ahead! Just a little bit more!”
“Aye aye, sir!” I realized my mistake as soon as I said it.
“Sir? Now’s not the time for jokes!”
“Sorry. Sorry. Just a slip of the tongue. You are my fair lady.”
It was a wonder how I could manage to make such a wisecrack even in a situation like this, but I guess that was my way of dealing with a tense situation. If the gravity of the situation had registered fully in my mind, I would probably be caving under the pressure.
We pushed through the last monsters in our path. Seeing us coming, the knights and soldiers broke formation to allow us to pass. Eryn and I skidded to a halt shortly before we reached Castia and Cornelius.
“I take it that you have some important findings that you’re here, Knight Faulkner?” Castia greeted us with a hopeful smile.
Eryn reported about how the demon seemed to specifically target the Madiswil family, holding some sort of grudge against them. Her guess was that the demon’s next target was revenge against someone in the capital. In exchange, Cornelius had filled Eryn in on the current state of the battlefield.
“And I presume you have an idea as to who that demon is?” Castia pushed on.
“Well…I have a guess, but it would be best spoken in private. I imagine that the Madiswil family probably had many enemies.”
“Very well, but seems like you are still holding back something. What else is there?”
“I have an idea of how to quickly defeat that demon,” Eryn said with confidence.
“Oh ho! And what might that be? We could really use a break.” Cornelius chimed in.
“This plan will all come down to Claude. He will be our demon slayer.”
Everyone looked at me. I pointed a finger at myself. Did I just hear that right?
“Eh? What? That’s the first I’ve heard of this!” I blurted out in response.
“Oh, come on. Everyone saw how easily you tore through that crowd of monsters. No one else here can do what you can!”
Eryn grabbed me by the scarf and pulled me off to the side. “And didn’t you say not long ago that you were with me, whatever I decided?” She said in a hushed voice.
Damn it, leave it to a lady to remember such a declaration and use it to her advantage. We continued our spat away from prying eyes.
“Alright, alright. I get it.” I pulled her away from me. “Demonic beasts are one thing. I have no qualms about that, but the demon? When have I ever fought a demon before?”
“Don’t think of it as a demon then.”
“Huh? Then what am I supposed to treat it as? How am I supposed to target its weak points when I don’t know what to aim for?”
“Think of it as a human.”
“…Human? …Am I missing something here?”
“I have reason to believe that the demon used to be someone we knew quite well. A certain knight named Madiswil.”
“No way.” I turned to Eryn in surprise.
She pulled out a diary and showed me. The last pages hinted without much doubt that was the case.
“He just won’t go away, will he?” I laughed nervously. “But then, why the secrecy?”
“How do you think people would react if we told them that the demon used to be a magic knight? It would be better to keep that hidden until we took him down. I’ll let the Director and Cornelius know though.”
Oh boy. What have I gotten myself into?
“We’re good to go. Let’s discuss the plan.” Eryn called back to the group as she walked back over.
I pulled out my knife and stared at my reflection in the blade.
“Well, partner. Let’s hope that this won’t be our final meal.”
I sheathed the knife and walked over to join in the discussion, my doubts at the success of this plan growing with every moment.