Raea frowned as she sat on a rock while chewing on a piece of meat in her hands. She faced a tent with Emergency Victuals blocking the entrance. Occasionally, screams permeated the air, originating from the tent. When Raea finished her meal, the tent flap opened, and Palan stepped outside, kicking the dire wolf out of the way. A few bloodstains decorated his pants and the dagger in his hand dripped blood.
Raea furrowed her brows and asked, “Did you learn anything?”
Palan nodded. “Anidun came to their village three years ago with a demon. He asked for a place to stay and, in return, he’d help the tribe grow,” he said as he sheathed his dagger. “Apparently, no one is allowed to see Anidun except for his demon, so the lizardmen don’t know much about him. He’s never stepped foot out of the cave that they gave him, but his demon would go around to engage in slaughter, solidifying their territory.” Palan smiled. “It seems like the demon won’t be accompanied by Anidun.”
“You think we should stay?”
“I do want to see how strong this greater demon really is,” Palan said and licked his lips. “I’ve never failed at killing a demon that I wanted dead. Except for my mother, but she’s dead now so it doesn’t matter.”
“That’s not a good enough reason. I can still go to Lieutenant Malak and convince him to send the message to Captain Ishim,” Raea said and bit her lip. “I’d rather not see my subordinates die in a skirmish.”
“You really think Ishim would do anything? He would accuse you of lying and wait for you to die before reporting to the capital,” Palan said and snorted. “That’s just the kind of man he is; he would’ve been a good town leader in my world.”
“How are you going to gain merits if you won’t confront anything because you’re afraid of your subordinates dying?” Palan asked. A breeze blew past the two, causing Palan’s nose to twitch.
“The lives of the people following me are more important than merits,” Raea said and crossed her arms.
“Really?” Palan asked as the corner of his lips quirked upwards.
“Then you should’ve thought about that before starting a fire right outside the lizardmen’s territory.”
“What do you mean?”
“They’re here. I smell a demon,” Palan said and inhaled through his nose while facing his eyes towards the sky.
“What?” Raea asked and grabbed Palan’s shoulder. “Are you serious? Owen said they wouldn’t come for at least two to three days.”
“They probably noticed the smoke from the fires. Even I could see it while I was scouting yesterday,” Palan said as he knocked Raea’s arm away.
“Why didn’t you say anything earlier?”
“I assumed you knew what you were doing,” Palan said and tilted his head, “if not you, then that old man at least. Who’s stupid enough to draw attention to themselves with a bonfire?”
Raea pouted and looked at Palan’s feet. “I’ve never done this before, okay? It’s only because of my mother that I’m here as a lieutenant and not a rookie.”
“Maybe you’re the one who should’ve said something earlier,” Palan said. He frowned as he stared down at Raea. Her expression was similar to his sister’s expression when she did something wrong. Palan furrowed his brow and poked Raea’s forehead, knocking her head back. “Stop moping and gather your troops already. They’ll be here very soon; I didn’t notice earlier because they were upwind of us.”
“R-right,” Raea said and nodded as she took in a deep breath. She shouted, “All troops gather! Enemy attack!”
A few exclamations of surprise and confusion echoed through the camp, but soldiers stood up or exited their tents with their helmets on and lances in hand before making their way towards Raea. Owen was the first to arrive. He frowned underneath his visor. “There seems to be no enemies?”
“There is a greater demon leading a troop of lizardmen as we speak,” Raea said. “Assume a defensive formation. If anyone gets injured, rotate to the center of the formation and I will heal you. Assume that enemies will be coming from all sides.” She turned towards Palan. “And you should put on your armor. I bought it for you for a reason.”
Palan sighed and went to Raea’s tent as the soldiers assembled into a circular formation with Raea at the center. Owen stood facing the entrance with a buckler in his left hand and lance in his right. Rumbling sounds caused by footsteps could be heard approaching the camp. As Palan entered the formation and stood next to Raea, an army of a hundred lizardmen appeared in the trees facing the entrance of the camp led by a dark-purple demon wielding two axes.
The axe-wielding demon was naked except for a necklace of teeth. It had a bull’s head and a man’s torso with its legs hairy and ending in two hooves. It stopped outside of the camp and glared at the formation of angels before smashing its two axes together. It pointed at the group of angels with its axe and roared. “Kill!”
The lizardmen’s eyes turned bloodshot as they charged around the demon with their stone axes raised. They wore simple leather armor that covered their vital spots, but they had rectangular wooden shields that extended from their shoulders to their shins.
“That’s a greater demon?” Palan asked Raea as the angels on the edge of the formation clashed with the lizardmen. “Why does he get a better evaluation than me?” Raea frowned, but didn’t reply.
An angel kicked a lizardman off of his lance while grimacing. A dent could be seen on his armor near his neck. The lizardman writhed on the ground as it tried to struggle onto its feet, but the angel stepped forward and plunged the end of his lance into its neck. Another lizardman stepped forward and attempted to bring its axe down on the angel’s head as he retracted his lance, but Owen knocked it off-balance with his shield. The angel that was saved shuddered and said, “Thanks.”
Owen grunted as he plunged the lance through the leather armor guarding the lizardman’s chest. He frowned as he raised his head and saw that the greater demon was standing outside of the camp with its eyes closed.
The lizardmen fought with disregard for their lives, but their equipment was inferior compared to the angel’s, and the angels retreated to be healed by Raea whenever they were injured. Palan stood next to Raea with his arms crossed, doing nothing because the lizardmen were unable to approach the center of the formation. Gradually, the number of lizardmen decreased by half. It was then that the greater demon opened its eyes and laughed. Its laughter echoed throughout the field, sending chills down the angels’ spines.
The greater demon bent its knees and placed its knuckles against the grass with its axes flat against the ground. The ground cracked beneath it as it leaped towards the formation of angels, crossing the distance in one bound. It raised both axes above its head while it was still in the air and swung them downwards. The axes crashed against an angel’s shield, but it didn’t stop; instead, it split the shield and the angel beneath it into three pieces. The demon swept its axes to both sides, knocking away ten angels, heavily injuring them. It raised its head towards the sky and roared. “Slaughter them all!”
The blood of the fallen lizardmen floated into the air and flew towards the demon, merging into its body. Its eyes turned completely red and its metal axes glowed with a dark-red light. The axes cleaved through the angels like a hot knife through butter before it was stopped by a wall of earth that emerged from the ground. Owen stepped forward and slammed the butt of his lance against the ground, causing an earthen spike to shoot out of the ground and impale the greater demon’s thigh.
Owen’s face paled as he slammed his lance against the ground again, causing another spike to shoot towards the demon’s heart. The demon laughed and swung its axe at the spike, stopping its forward momentum. It took a step backwards, ripping the first spike out of its thigh. It chuckled as it stared at Owen and said, “So there was more than one blessed this time. I was wondering when you angels would learn.” As it spoke, blood flowed from the ground towards the demon’s injured leg, repairing it almost instantly. “And there’s even a demon. Excellent!” It lunged towards Owen as it shouted, swinging an axe horizontally. Owen raised his shield that had a layer of dirt covering it.
“Stop!” Raea shouted as her body glowed white. The greater demon’s body froze in place with Owen’s shield split in half. The axe stopped right before it could injure Owen, trembling in place. The demon laughed.
“A greater angel with two virtues,” it said as its body shook. “I can’t wait to devour you. Let’s see how much longer you can hold me after using so much mana on useless fodder.”
Owen shouted as he stepped forward and thrust the lance into the demon’s chest, piercing through its heart. It coughed out a mouthful of blood and grinned as the lizardmen and angel blood on the ground flew towards its chest. The light around Raea dimmed as the greater demon’s body trembled. The demon laughed as its left arm moved. “Too bad.”
A cloth bag flew through the air and landed on top of the demon’s head, enveloping its body in a green powder. The powder blew away from the demon’s face as it coughed and wiped its eyes with the back of its hand as Owen let go of his lance and retreated, but not before summoning another earthen spike to impair the demon’s movements. The demon howled as it hacked at the earth with its axes.
“That regeneration ability is really handy,” Palan said as he frowned and watched the greater demon struggle to free itself. Blood continuously leaked from its eyes, nose, and mouth, but the lizardmen blood on the ground replenished it. The surrounding angels steered clear from the green cloud of powder and fought the lizardmen instead.
Raea’s face was white as she leaned against Palan’s body, gasping for breath. Palan glanced at Raea. “Are you alright?”
Raea’s body shuddered as her eyes closed. “I spent too much mana.”
Palan grunted and retrieved another cloth sack while Owen picked up a lance from a fallen angel. Palan lobbed the sack into the air, hitting the greater demon on the head once again. This time, a cloud of yellow powder enveloped the demon.
Raea slipped and fell to her knees, still leaning against Palan. Her body was limp and unmoving, shallow breaths passing through her mouth. Palan nudged her with his foot. “Did you fall unconscious?”
Palan smiled. “I’m keeping my promise,” he said and retrieved multiple cloth sacks from his hands. “I’m going to kill a lot of people.”
Raea didn’t reply.