Chapter 38

The sun shone over the main plaza of Konigreich. Thousands of people, humans and demons alike, chatted with one another as they browsed the stalls and sat in chairs. The majority of the buildings had been relocated by Exzenter and his time magic. Massive boars, bears, livestock, fruits, and pastries were spread throughout the plaza in piles. Barrels of wine encircled the people and pools of water hung overhead within arm’s reach, suspended by magic. The air smelled clean and no traces of undead could be seen or smelled. A group of musicians set up their instruments at the center of the plaza and people stumbled as they drank and danced with each other. Laughter filled the streets and children chased each other through the crowds.

Tafel and Vur sat on the perimeter of the party near a pile of sweets and meat. Tafel wore a white woolen sweater with black cotton pants. Her hair was tied in a ponytail with a ribbon that was the same shade of purple as her eyes. Vur wore black leather pants along with a sky blue scaled vest. He wore a gold bow tie and his hair fell just above the base of his neck.

“You’re not going to play with the other children?” Tafel asked as she leaned her head against Vur’s shoulder.

Vur shook his head and held Tafel’s hand. “They’re scared of me,” Vur said. “Also, they’re too soft and run too slow. The skeletons are much more fun to play with. They don’t cry when their bones break.”

Tafel shuddered and tightened her grip on his hand. The two sat in silence and watched the people drink and dance in the plaza.

Vur turned his head towards Tafel. “Did I say something wrong?” Vur asked. “Auntie found some people to show me how to be noble, but Gale said I still say inappropriate things.”

Tafel shook her head. “It wasn’t wrong,” she said, “just a little scary. Who’s Gale?”

“He was one of the people auntie found,” Vur said. “I learned to dance and play instruments too.”

“Really?” Tafel asked as she lifted her head off his shoulder. “Do you want to dance with me?”

Vur nodded. The two stood up and Vur placed his left hand on Tafel’s shoulder and held up his right arm. Tafel tilted her head.

“Um, isn’t my left hand supposed to go on your shoulder and your right hand under mine?” she asked.

“That matters?” Vur asked. “I only watched two men dance together.”

“Yeah,” Tafel said and nodded, “boys do the leading and girls follow.” She giggled. “If you only know the girl part, I can lead this time,” she said and smiled.

Vur scratched his head. “Okay,” he said and nodded. His cheeks were tinged red.

Tafel led and the two waltzed in time with the music.

“Am I doing it right?” Vur asked with his head towards his feet.

Tafel giggled. “You make a pretty good girl,” she said. “You’re supposed to look at me though, not your feet.” She smiled when Vur raised his head.

“That’s better,” Tafel said and nodded. Vur smiled.

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An army of 30,000 demons lined up in ten rectangles of 60 by 50 people. 27,000 wore chainmail and equipped clubs and shields. 1,000 cavalry wearing plate armor rode on top of horses with spears. The remaining 2,000 wore cloth armor with metal staves. Across the plains was an elf with a red robe standing on top of a basilisk. A skeleton wearing mithril armor and a human male wearing a toga stood on either side of her. The sun shone overhead, causing sweat to leak down the demons’ backs. At the head of the army stood Zollstock and Mina. Sounds of laughter and music permeated the air behind Lindyss.

“Waaah,” Exzenter said as he straightened his toga, “that’s a lot of them. They have their heavy cavalry and the mage corps it seems.”

The undead leader laughed. “They’re just fodder to puff up their numbers,” he said.

Exzenter looked around. “That’s a lot more fodder than we have,” he said. “Are you sure this is going to work?”

The undead leader grinned. “Of course it’ll work,” he said, “they’re all nobles who’re afraid to step on poop with their shoes.”

“Return Tafel to us!” Zollstock shouted from across the field.

“Return? You make it sound like we stole her,” Lindyss said with her voice amplified by wind magic. “From what I heard, she willing came here with my messenger.”

“Shut your mouth!” Zollstock roared.

Lindyss laughed. “Or what? You’ll use your puny army to fight against ours?” she asked. “Didn’t you get reports about our army size? You should’ve recruited some more from your villagers.” She tilted her head and smiled. “Oh right,” she said, “they came over and joined our kingdom.”

Zollstock’s body shook and his face turned red.

Lindyss giggled. “Well, it’s to be expected,” she said and shrugged, “you can’t even get your children to listen to you, why would a nation?”

“All troops forward!” Zollstock yelled as spittle flew from his mouth. Metal clanked as the infantry shouted and charged ahead of Zollstock.

Lindyss turned to Exzenter. “Do it,” she said, “right on top of them.”

Exzenter’s eyebrows knit together. “Isn’t that a bit… excessive?” he asked.

“You want to set up an alliance with our kingdom right?” she asked and smiled, “just do this one little thing and I’m sure negotiations will go smoothly.”

Exzenter sighed and nodded. He spread his arms open and wind swirled around the approaching army, encircling them. Streams of blue light flowed into his body from a pile of mana crystals behind him.

Dustin gaped as he walked up to Zollstock and Mina. “That’s Exzenter,” he said, “the strongest human time mage. That’s a tremendous amount of mana. The scale of that magic must be huge; we can only hope they reach him before he finishes.”

Zollstock frowned. “Time mages aren’t offensive,” he said. “Is he trying to warp all our soldiers away? Is that even possible?”

Dustin’s eyebrows knit together. “It seems larger than that, he-. Watch out!” Dustin said and tackled Zollstock and Mina forward. Hundreds of little portals appeared above the army and blotted out the sun. Dozens of large portals appeared above the little ones.

Exzenter released his breath and wiped his brow. “May god have mercy on my soul,” he said and clasped his hands together.

The army screamed and cursed as thousands of brown objects fell from the sky and splattered all over them. They raised their shields above their heads and wept as the sulfurous fumes invaded their nostrils. Some of the objects were dry and brittle, others were wet and stuck to their armor and hair. Mina screamed as she covered her head.

“This is disgusting!” she shrieked as Dustin vomited next to her.

“Forward! Forward!” the soldiers yelled, pushing and shoving each other to get out of the torrential storm. The storm started to let up as fewer clumps fell.

Then it happened.

The large ones came.

Boulder sized turds fell from the sky and splattered on impact. Skeletons cackled as they crawled out of the fallen comets and pulled soldiers down to the ground while embracing them. A symphony of wails and shrieks filled the air, peppered with the sounds of retching and splashing.

A tear leaked from the undead leader’s eye.

“It’s beautiful,” it said and sniffed, “truly the epitome of strategic warfare.” It turned to Exzenter.

“Thank you for making this happen,” it said. “I can truly die happy now.”

Exzenter sighed and shook his head. “All those wonderful dragon stool samples,” he said and sniffed, “wasted on this.”

The storm passed and the sun illuminated the brown battleground. Wails and sobs rang out as the skeletons systematically stripped the army of their armor and weapons while tying their limbs together. A few spells flew through the battlefield, but a retaliation of brown goop put an end to that.

Lindyss let out a cough after the skeletons finished. “Everyone who wants a bath has to join as a citizen of our kingdom. You’ll be given fresh undergarments and food along with drink,” she said and turned to Zollstock, “the rest of you will have to wait here until our party is over.”

Zollstock opened his mouth. “That’s-“

“Or… we can come to an agreement between our two nations,” Lindyss said, interrupting him with a smile. “What do you say? But say it from far away. You stink.”

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The moon shone overhead as Mina walked out of the plaza towards the forest. Tafel and Vur were sitting against a tree, leaning on each other with bloated bellies. Mina opened her mouth to speak, but closed it when she saw Tafel’s face.

She was smiling with her eyes closed.

Mina’s eyes grew wet and she loosened her grip on her cup. She sighed, took a swig, and walked back towards the plaza.

 

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