An alarm rang out across Yakuman the moment a portal opened up near its borders. The city itself was equipped with a holy barrier that guarded against magic from the outside, so portals could not be directly cast into the area. The divine magic from the Oracle, as well as artifacts blessed by her, prevented them from taking form, unless they held a specific mana signature.
Outside this area, residual holy energy still permeated the surroundings. A spell powerful enough to disturb this energy could still take form, as was the case here. But of course, any such disturbance would raise immediate awareness, especially if it came from an unexpected source.
This was a protection managed by the Oracle since olden times, which made invasion by neighboring areas difficult, and why many of Sanshiro’s warriors devoted themselves to martial arts instead. Only specific tools, such as a communication device, were able to bypass such defenses through the Oracle’s personal blessing. And while magic could still be used inside the area, one would have to be allowed through the barrier first.
More than that, holy energy itself tended to ward off demons and demonic beasts… all but the strongest of them. That was why it wasn’t strange at first to see a portal materialize. The city guards were growing accustomed to it being used as a form of quick travel between nations. But usually, visitors were announced ahead of time…
Hearing the alarm ring, the city guards peered towards the portal that had opened a few hundred meters outside of Yakuman. But it didn’t take long for them to notice that something was amiss.
Rather than the transport platform that was built under the collaboration of Sistina and Sanshiro, these portals appeared in the middle of nowhere and started growing in number. Furthermore, they lacked the characteristic blue and green hues of energy that were emitted. No sooner than the men noticed that these portals were purple that they turned and cried out.
“On your guard!”
The other men dropped what they were doing and immediately rushed into position, forming neat lines before the city gates. But no sooner had they filed in place that another shout echoed from the walls above.
The men below looked at each other in surprise. Demon attacks hadn’t happened in quite some time, at least not any that targeted a populated area. Still, their hesitation lasted only for a moment before the crowd grew serious.
A messenger dashed from the defensive line towards the castle, pulling out a long wind instrument before taking a deep breath and blowing upon the mouthpiece. Several bellowing notes drifted through the air as he played a distinctive tune before pausing. Moments later, that same tune echoed in the distance, before another, even farther, sounded.
That was their system to notify the castle of trouble amiss. The specific melody warned of a demon attack. By the time the messenger made it to the castle, the nation’s leaders would be gathered and expecting him. And with that, the various clans that specialized in combat against demons would congregate and move out.
But for those at the city boundaries, they couldn’t help but look on with a hint of anxiety as the few portals soon turned to several dozen. Where each one formed, human-like demons, not demonic beasts, stepped out.
Even in history, there had never been more than a few demons at a time. Hordes of demonic beasts were more common, as they tended to be infected with miasma due to living in a pack. They still retained the natural instincts of their species, only unhindered by fear or any sense of self-preservation.
But the front-line group of Sanshiro fighters marching toward the portals suddenly slowed as more and more human-like demons streamed out of the portals. They carried weapons and marched forward much like themselves. And aside from the dense feeling of miasma shrouding them, it was like facing a typical army. Some shivered as they recognized attire that was home to Sanshiro among the ranks of the demons.
These were people that the Demon itself gathered over the course of many battles, even before it had inhabited the body of Eryn Faulkner.
Purnesian marksmen who fought for the Mad Empress.
Soldiers and magic knights of Sistina who died from gunfire or from demonic beasts.
Even warriors of Sanshiro who once sided against the Oracle.
As long as they carried bitterness in their hearts and the desire to trudge onward even in death, they were welcomed into the ranks of the Demon’s army. Their allegiance was now under the full control of Eryn Faulkner, who possessed the Electi of Mana’s ‘Will of Yaldabaoth’ ability to command them however she liked.
This army of demons, many hundred strong, marched toward the capital of Sanshiro without any worries. They had been given another chance, their own fate reversed due to the whims of the Demon itself.
The smile of a pale-skinned girl with platinum hair beckoned for them to act. To fulfill her purpose and goals. For it would only reveal its hand when there came a crucial pivoting point in history.
As the previous Chancellor, the Demon had been directly responsible for creating the rampaging demon that destroyed the Madiswil territory. It sparked the turmoil in Sanshiro by giving the Thunder Phoenix Clan access to magic tools, as well as the summoning ritual that it had stolen decades ago. Even the capital in which it resided quietly for so long became a sea of flames after it possessed the whimsical inventor princess.
It didn’t mind that its old body had been slain, forcing it to leap to another one. The damage was already done. The grand scheme already unfolded before it. The growing seeds of darkness within several Electi had been his goal. Raising and cultivating such promising candidates into demonhood required such conflict.
The final tipping point came when Purnesia declared war. After all, it was easy enough for someone with a few centuries of experience to hide amongst the Purnesians. A simple guard’s disguise was all that was needed to get in contact with the Empire’s one Electi to sow discord.
Losing the body of the previous Chancellor was no issue. It permitted him to hide as a civilian until the crucial moment, when a certain girl stormed the defenses of Purnesia alone.
The prideful Valkyrie – unwilling to back down, fighting for the sake of her love, crushing her opposition without another thought – how she strangely tempted the Demon into adding her into his growing army. The separate dimension that housed the demonized ones would greatly welcome a commander as strong as she. And if she fell, it knew that Claude would come that much closer to falling himself.
The Demon, inhabiting a Purnesian marksman at the time, hid its presence until the right moment. After Eryn’s struggle against a Purnesian officer, after she had let down her guard from a victory, a single shot flew. It caught her right in the chest. A wound created so deep that there was no question that it was fatal.
As the girl’s body toppled, the Demon was right there to catch her in its arms. But as it reached out to touch her heart and completely pollute it, a strange feeling overcame the Demon. The eyes of the marksman swam, and his brow furrowed before the Demon decided to run away with Eryn in its arms.
A strange feeling it was indeed. It was as if Eryn’s core resonated with its own. Something about the girl rang the same as its own. Because of that, the Demon abandoned the thought of turning her into a commander to puppet its troops.
The Demon abandoned its current body and let its existence flow into hers. And at that moment, Eryn Faulkner opened her eyes again, revived through the powers of darkness. But then, she noticed tears bubbling up around her eyes. They dripped down her cheeks, now cold from death. No matter how much she rubbed them away, the tears continued to flow. It was like a dam within her had burst. Because at that very moment, she realized something…
She was home.
Eryn Faulkner watched as her entire army had successfully teleported right in front of the capital of Sanshiro. She knew exactly what she needed to do next. Since Claude had seen the possibility of aligning oneself to the Divine Gods, just like Ludmila and Saki had, there was no doubt that they would seek counsel. Direction from the other person in this world that stood the closest to those beings.
Eryn looked past the city borders and towards the castle that poked above the skyline in the distance. That was where the Holy Oracle sat. She was the one to turn to for advice about the ‘Ascended’. If she wanted Claude to remain by her side, then she couldn’t allow Claude to meet with her. If she lost Claude to the Gods, then who else would fight for her? That meant destroying the place before her.
“My lord, your orders?” A demon approached her.
Even without being demonized, one could tell that the man himself was a monster. Muscles rippled across his frame like a bodybuilder in which every flex created boulders upon his body; he was once known as “The Impassable”. Chen Shi Yuan was just one of many that she stumbled upon at death’s door. He carried such bitterness in his loss that he refused to give up on life. His ‘Iron Body, Broken Sword’ style was completely crushed by a single attack from a young girl who didn’t even measure up to his waist.
Granted, that girl was an Electi with unbelievable ability, but that didn’t make the missing half of his body ache any less. Even after his entire left side was regenerated upon becoming a demon, there was a lingering emptiness that reminded him just how badly he failed.
“I suppose that this is a chance for revenge against those you lost against.” Eryn looked on with her arms crossed. “Are you going to disappoint this time?”
“No way that’s happening again. The power of miasma is incredible!”
Chen powered up his body, piling on layers of mana shields upon his body. With his power now, even fifty layers was a cinch. Not to mention, he could move forward like an indestructible cannonball unlike before. He doubted that even the strongest attackers in Sanshiro could tear away his full protection.
Seeing his enthusiasm, Eryn lightly chuckled.
“Are you sure about this? Weren’t you loyal to that precious Oracle of yours? Even if she was just a glorified figurehead in your eyes to protect the nation.”
With a loud ‘hmph’, Chen disregarded any of those sentiments.
“Who needs divine power when you have power such as this? My lord has granted us with everything that we have desired as a warrior. That’s the way it is for us. Might makes right.”
Chen looked around the battlefield. His eyes stopped on some of his fellow comrades, back when he fought on the same side against the Oracle. They too had prided in bettering themselves over all else. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have joined this side. Following Zhao Lei Dao had once been their goal, but he was cut down by a blasted foreigner with cheat-like abilities.
His gaze stopped over at Marude Zura, another person that was given the mercy of miasma by their lord. His Flowing Water Fist style looked like snakes coiling upon his prey. But as a demon now, he hardly needed to focus to maintain those deadly forms. It went without saying that his strikes took on a more poisonous aura.
As the first set of demons and warriors collided, Zura was seen wrapping up multiple people. Within moments, the skin where they were ensnared started turning black as howls of pain escaped from their throats. After nearly half a minute of futile struggling, the appendages gave a final squeeze before the warriors’ bodies crumbled. The deadly poison upon Zura’s snakes corroded straight through their flesh and bone.
How easily he tore in half a seasoned warrior left chills among the ranks of Sanshiro. If they were struggling against the lower-level demons who weren’t even martial arts masters, then what chance did they have of beating the head of the Zura clan?
But just as Sanshiro’s side was starting to falter, a loud voice broke them out of their fear.
The howl of air being drilled shook the area. A line of demons was instantly shredded as a giant whirlwind slammed into them. Those that were close enough to feel the wind, but not in its direct path were tossed aside, literally flung tens of meters into the air. Not long after, the drill slowed down enough to reveal a set of legs fanning out to a gradual halt.
Landing with a gentle plop, the old man fiddled with his mustache before shaking the dizziness from his head. The extravagant detail on the fighter’s robe was instantly recognizable as the Oracle’s head advisor, Lau Ki Young.
With one look at Zura, it seemed like he knew where his battle was. It was time to truly settle the score with a long-time rival.