Trooper Robi was a young man who was 24 years of age. While he had not received a complete education, he understood that there were many things in this world which he did not know.
“Humans. I have returned. --Truly you have indulged yourselves while I was healing the wounds which the Sorcerer King left on me.”
--As the angry roar reverberated through the core of his body, Robi pissed himself.
He could no longer feel his soaked pants sticking to his skin.
After realziing the power of the monster before him, he had a premonition that he was about to die, and so his survival instincts went into overdrive. They abandoned his useless senses and swiftly searched for a way to survive.
However, before they could find anything, Jaldabaoth had unleashed his power.
“Die. Burn to ash in the flames of Wrath.”
Fire roared up, and a wave of heat struck Robi in the face. The incredible heat dried his eyes out and filled him with incredible pain. The hot air entering his lungs felt like it was about to set his entire body on fire from the inside. In fact, that was exactly what had happened
His skin was scorched and its water content evaporated. His dermis burned, and then the fat beneath, followed by his muscles and then his nerves. Where the subdermal layers where thin, like on the arms, the flames immediately reached the muscles and nerves. This should have caused the muscles to contract and make him take up a bizarre pose. However, the high temperatures seared his skin to his armor, which prevented that.
His clothes, skin, muscles and The clothes, the skin, the muscles and the fat of his belly all caught fire, and his innards poured out intact.
Human bodies had high water content. That was why it took time for their insides to burn, If this were an ordinary fire, the flames would have continued burning until they reached the inside of the body, but since Jaldabaoth’s fiery aura was magically generated heat, it vanished as he moved away.
Therefore, Robi’s scattered guts were not discolored by the heat and remained a pretty pink color. The sight of piles of scorched bodies and the fresh guts peeking out through oceans of blood were enough to make onlookers want to throw up. It looked like hell on earth.
Jaldabaoth left Robi -- who had sprouted a garland of fresh innards -- and over 50 other scorched corpses around him as he walked forward.
Jaldabaoth -- the newly-summoned Evil Lord of Wrath was walking. Even that was enough to kill the people around him who were caught up in his [Fiery Aura].
“Get lost! Out of my way!”
While several such shouts could be heard, the first to scream was Militiaman Francesk.
He thought, “Why am I so unlucky” every day. Thanks to the Holy Kingdom’s system of conscription, everyone had to do their national service and join the army.
Indeed. Even the son of a great merchant like himself, a man with a bright future promised to him, was no exception. Granted, his father had paid the appropriate bribes to have him assigned to a slack unit, but the life of a soldier was still miserable.
And just as that misery was about to end, this war had broken out.
Not a day went by when he did not complain about his unhappiness and the unfairness of it all. Still, it would all be over soon, and he could go back to being the heir of a big merchant family and indulge in the money-making activities he so enjoyed..
Things were just a little bit away from turning out like that.
It had been just a little bit.
However, he was now fleeing desperately from the monster in front of him.
If it caught him, he would certainly die.
He desperately moved his legs, which refused to listen to him owing to his fear.
He was surrounded by other people who were also fleeing like himself. That was why he could make little progress despite his panic.
In particular, the fat man in front of Francisk was an eyesore.
Therefore, Francesk shoved the man away.
He did it to get just a single step further away from that monster. He did it for the sake of his joyous future.
However, just as he was about to shove him away, Francesk saw that the people in front of him also had the same idea.
If the man who had been shoved away collided with the people in front of him, it was very likely that they would collapse en masse like dominoes. In fact, that was exactly what had happened to the people in front of Francesk.
Perhaps if it was just one or two people, he could have avoided them. Perhaps he could have jumped over them.
However, Francesk’s physical abilities were not great enough to avoid a huge mass of falling people at once.
He collapsed onto the mass.
He thrashed around to get up -- but he was not given the time for that.
The aura of fire centered on Jaldabaoth had caught up to him.
Francesk had no time to scream. Why me, he thought, and then it was instantly swallowed up by sheerest agony and all he could feel was pain.
Still, Francesk had been lucky. That was because he had died immediately.
Jaldabaoth did not stop moving, He trampled blackened human corpses underfoot as he walked on, like he was in an empty wasteland.
“Run away! Run awaaaay!”
One man shouted the obvious. His name was Trooper Golka. He was a man who had faith in his sword skills.
That was why he had the courage to shout those words in front of Jaldabaoth.
Still, that was just foolhardiness, because Jaldabaoth changed course towards Golka. There was no telling if he had piqued Jaldabaoth’s interest or because it had been mere coincidence.
While that was a godsend to the ones Jaldabaoth had been chasing, it was the foulest luck imaginable to the ones on Jaldabaoth’s new course.
Golka saw that it would be very difficult to flee the monster amidst the chaos, and so he drew his sword.
The monster’s eyes shifted, and less than a second later, he walked past Golka.
That was what the monster thought of Golka.
He was only worth a single glance.
Golka bellowed and ran in the opposite direction of the flow of humanity.
The sight of charred people collapsing nearby was very scary, but perhaps there might be some hope for him. Perhaps he might hope to be able to reach that monster.
Golka learned the answer with his body.
Pain filled him.
He could not possibly close in on that monster.
Golka burned with the other troopers who were weaker than him.
Golka realised something.
In the eyes of that monster, Golka was no different from the civilians around him.
If only I had run, he lamented, before that thought was drowned out by the agony of being burned alive. Golka collapsed with a silent scream, contorting on the ground like all the corpses around him.
Jaldabaoth walked with no aim in mind. However, if humans tried to run, he pursued them.
Viviana, who had joined the battle as a divine magic caster, was running for her life.
Her long blonde hair swayed wildly as she fled with all her might.
She had no time to wipe away her snot or her tears.
Nobody could beat a monster like that.
Somebody was saying something.
She had no time to care about that.
All she could think of was I just want to get away from that monster.
She could not shove away the people running in front of her. All she could do was squeeze past them and keep running.
Out of my way.
Out of my way.
Out of my way.
Why were there so many people in her way?
I don’t care if everyone dies except me, but I don’t want to die.
Viviana ran with that thought in her heart.
While she was ostensibly running, she was surrounded by people fleeing in all directions. Even Viviana, who was faster than the average person, was as slow as a turtle. She could not get away from the demon.
Sizzling heat caressed the tips of Viviana’s hair.
She thought of the horrible way people looked when they died.
“I don’t want to die!!!”
It was a perfectly natural thing to scream.
Anyone would have thought the same thing.
It was very difficult to accept one’s death calmly when it loomed before you. This was more true the more suddenly death appeared in front of you.
The incredible heat meant she could not feel anything other than pain. Her brain was assaulted by unbearable agony. She realised that she would soon be dead.
No, I don’t want to die, Viviana thought as she burned to death.
Jaldabaoth continued forward in silence as he began to feel bored.
“Don’t run! Fight!” a brave man shouted from horseback.
Leonzio was the second son of a retainer in service to a Marquis. He had joined the battle in the hopes of being recognized for his swordsmanship. Around him were the men his father had placed under his command, all of whom were people who knew his abilities.
The demon walked in a leisurely manner, and it left countless corpses in its wake, each of them twisted in agony. He wanted to run away, but if he did, his future would be grim and dark. All he could do was take a bet for a shining future.
Having made that decision, he shouted “Don’t run!” over and over again.
However, his horse was not like him. Its instincts screamed that the approaching demon was a terrifying monster, and so it wanted to flee.
What would happen if a horse broke into a gallop among all these people?
It was very simple.
The horse got tangled up in the crowd and fell. The people which the horse landed on screamed. No, some of them had died.
Leonzio was flung from his saddle and thrown to the ground.
Fortunately, he had landed on top of people and he had not been crushed by the mob. However, intense pain filled his arm as he tried to run. He had twisted it when he had been thrown from his horse.
He had no idea where his sword had gone. It must have been flung away by the shock of being thrown off his horse.
He made to look for it -- and in that moment, he was engulfed by a wave of mind-blanking pain. This was the first time Leonzio had experienced such anguish in his life.
The agony stopped him from thinking.
In the tatters of his pain-riven mind, the only coherent thought he could form was why me.
Someone stood atop a pile of burnt corpses. The Evil Lord that had been given the duty of acting as Jaldabaoth surveyed the fleeing crowds.
It was a little boring.
The fiery aura was not an amazing ability. All it did was inflict fire damage on the surroundings. One could greatly reduce that damage with fire resistance spells. Of course, he had been granted the knowledge that the average soldier did not possess such abilities.
As a demon, he did not enjoy simply tormenting the weak. Rather, he enjoyed toying with the weaklings who thought they were very strong. That was why he hoped that such an arrogant fool would show themselves, but unfortunately there did not seem to be anyone like that.
The Evil Lord of Wrath stomped on a burnt corpse.
The innards squeezed out of it by the impact were charred in an instant.
The odor of said innards filled the air.
The Evil Lord of Wrath turned away.
If it were to get serious and take to the skies, there would be many more casualties. Had these humans realised that yet? The Evil Lord of Wrath held that question in his heart as he walked.
Everyone watched in silence as the demon walked proudly and regally back to the demihuman encampment.
Nobody thought, what was that monster. There was no need to ask either. Even the stupidest of fools knew the answer.
He was the Demon Emperor Jaldabaoth.
The being who had trampled the Holy Kingdom underfoot and made the people cry rivers of tears.
The demon that had caused havoc in two nations demonstrated a power which mankind could never overcome. He had returned to bring despair to people who were once filled with hope.
I’ve heard of silence, but this is something else. Neia had been summoned to this tent, and she was surprised at how downcast the interior was.
The table had been specially moved here, and the Southern nobles seated around it were pale. No, the Liberation Army commanders were also the same way.
It was a natural reaction.
Nobody could have witnessed Jaldabaoth’s overwhelming power and not been shocked -- no, back then, Neia’s shock had not been that great. However, that had been because the shock of losing the great entity known as the Sorcerer King had been even worse. That, in addition to everything she had witnessed up to this point, might have numbered her heart.
However, the Southern nobles had not experienced harsh fighting until now, so perhaps their alarm was only to be expected. They had not experienced a foe who could kill men one after the other just by walking, leaving nothing behind but hideous corpses.,
In addition, their army of nearly 100’000 had been panicked by a single demon and dissolved into a rout.
“--What’s this? What the hell is this! What do you call that, that monster!”
Count Domingues’ voice rose steadily.
In contrast, Caspond -- who knew of Jaldabaoth’s overwhelming power -- shrugged nonchalantly.
“That is Jaldabaoth… the real thing. I’ve told you about him before, Count Domingues.”
“I’ve never heard of the ability to kill people just by walking!”
Is that the problem, Neia jeered in her heart.
“Indeed, that is how it is. His battle with the Sorcerer King -- His Majesty -- was in a city, so we could not see the full extent of it. But I’ve already told you how powerful it is. So surely an ability like that should not come as a surprise, no?”
“Even, even so!”
“--Count. I know what you want to say. Seeing is believing, is it not?”
It was the Marquis who spoke. All that could be said was that one had to hand it to him for not being as nervous as the others.
“...Still, saying that won’t help us make any progress. Should we not discuss what we need to do from now on?”
“That makes perfect sense, Marquis-sama. What should we do?” Viscount Santz asked in a rapid-fire burst of words. His attitude was understandable, given that he did not know if his present location was safe.
The Southern nobles had intended to crush a few stragglers with overwhelming force in order to become the heroes who had saved the nations. It should have been that simple. However, that was not to be. Now the hunters had become the hunted.
The Marquis had his arms folded and remained silent. Caspond replied in his place.
“We have an overwhelming advantage in fighting strength. The problem is that Jaldabaoth can flip that advantage around by himself. I would like to ask everyone present a question in my capacity as the Prince. What do you think we should do to achieve victory under these circumstances?”
After a brief silence, the Marquis replied, “that’s the only thing we can do” in a supremely confident tone.
“Caspond-denka. As you have said before, Jaldabaoth will probably retreat once we wipe out those demihumans, right? Then we have no other option but to do so.”
“Marquis-sama! Are you still going to fight!?”
“Exactly, Count Randalse. Do you think we can flee now?”
“...Marquis-sama, it would be very difficult for us all to flee, but could a small group not manage to run?”
Remedios snorted at Count Cohen’s suggestion.
“That’s a fitting answer for an incompetent who can’t even understand Calca-sama’s ideals.”
“What will you do after running away and escaping? Cower under a haybale in a barn? Aren’t you a noble? Shouldn’t you say that you’ll sacrifice yourself for the people or something?”
“And you, Captain Custodio? You’re a paladin with a holy sword, but you can’t even beat a single demon!” Count Randalse bellowed.
The ghost-like Remedios’ eyes seemed to glow from within as she turned to face him.
“Indeed. I can’t beat him. The only one who can fight him is that undead creature. But if it would buy some time -- even if it was only to let the people live a second longer -- then I would fight to the death against him! And you, what would you do?”
When a warrior who had resolved herself to die locked eyes with a noble who wanted to run away, the outcome was a foregone conclusion.
Count Randalse looked away, and Remedios snorted mockingly at him.
“My Prince. While I would very much like to order the paladins to die, do you still wish to continue?”
“While making up your mind is very important… well, could you go? You don’t mind leaving Vice-Captain Montagnes behind, do you?”
“I see. In that case, I’ll leave the rest to you, Montagnes.”
With that, Remedios slowly walked out of the tent. The last thing she did was glance at CZ, who was seated beside Neia.
“Everyone, I apologize on behalf of our Captain,” Gustav said as he eyed the nobles -- who were going “Honestly” -- before continuing, ”Still, that opinion is indicative of all of us. We paladins are all ready to die as shields for the people. We hope you gentlemen, being of noble birth, are similarly determined. After all, we can’t fight if there are no commanders.”
Before Neia could tell who had exclaimed in surprise, Marquis Bodipo spoke up.
“That’s about enough… We aren’t planning how to die gloriously, we’re planning how to win. Am I correct, my Prince?”
“--There’s no way to win, is there!? Didn’t you see that demon’s power!?” Count Granero shouted as he rose to his feet. “If he used magic or attacked or something, we might still be able to come up with some way to stop him! But all he’s doing is walking! He can turn the area around him into a hellish inferno just by walking!”
“Come to think of it… Count Granero, you know a bit about magic, right? Do you have…”
“Nothing I learned covered powers like that…”
“Is that so… then, assume there were still 10’000 demihuman enemies remaining. Could we flee from Jaldabaoth while wiping them out at the same time?”
The Marquis seemed to approve of Caspond’s proposal.
“It seems there’s no other way… While it’ll be difficult, I think it would be harder to try and defeat Jaldabaoth with our strength.”
“A moment please,” Count Cohen interrupted with a raise of his hand. I object. Jaldabaoth might not leave even after we kill the demihumans. However, he might kill all of us as a souvenir first before he goes.”
He was right. Therefore, Caspond followed up with a perfectly reasonable question.
“So what should we do?”
“We ought to negotiate.”
Few people managed to resist the urge to laugh at Count Cohen as he delivered that suggestion with a perfectly straight face.
Count Cohen’s face turned red as the other laughed at him. Before he could continue, Caspond asked:
“Count, what kind of deal do you intend to make with that devil?”
“Yes, yes. For instance, maybe we could trade him something in exchange for letting us leave safely…”
“What will we give him? Wouldn’t it be simpler to just kill us and take it off our bodies? Or do you mean we should trade him something that isn’t here? What would that be?”
“A moment please, Your Highness! All I’m saying is that fighting is not our only option! I just meant to say that there’s a possibility we might be able to negotiate with him, that’s all!”
“Count, your way of thinking is a little, yes, a little too optimistic. For starters, who will we send to negotiate with that monster… Come to think of it, I heard that His Majesty put one of his maid demons under his control, and she turned out quite useful in retaking Kalinsha. Surely that maid demon could do something, right?
Count Granero turned to look at CZ.
“...I can’t beat Jaldabaoth… Even buying time would be hard.”
“Still, if you fought alongside Captain Custodio, you might be able to buy some time.”
His suggestion made a lot of sense. They would need someone to hold Jaldabaoth in place while they carried out Caspond’s plan, in any event.
However, that would essentially be sending them to their deaths.
“...Hmm~” CZ tilted her head to look to the ceiling. “...This is a problem...”
“How about it? That way, we can deepen the relationship between the Sorcerous Kingdom and the Holy Kingdom.”
“Is that a yes?”
Should I interrupt now? Neia was thinking that as CZ answered.
“May, may I know the reason why?”
“There’s no reason?”
CZ nodded to Count Domingues, who was frozen in place.
“Is Jaldabaoth really that scary!?”
“...Hm?...That’s the reason then. He’s scary and I don’t want to do it.”
“Guh.” Count Domingues was at a loss for words. Now that she had said as much, he had no response for her. If CZ said, “If you’re not afraid, then you go buy time” he would be finished. If she had rejected the proposal based on some kind of argument, then all he would need to do was pick that argument apart, but since she had refused based on her feelings, getting past that would be very difficult.
As silence returned to the tent, the one of the Liberation Army’s top brass, a person who commanded thousands of soldiers and militiamen slowly said:
“Why don’t we run before Jaldabaoth fully gains the upper hand? I don’t think we can beat a monster like that. We used to have the Sorcerer King in the past, but he’s not here any more… does anyone know of anybody who can defeat Jaldabaoth? No, right? If we fled to the South…”
Beside him another commander quietly said,
“...There’s no guarantee that Jaldabaoth won’t chase us to the South, right?”
With a loud thump of the table, the previous speaker bellowed:
“In that case, all we can do is follow the Prince’s suggestion and kill the demihumans! If we can’t run, then we must fight! It’s just that simple!”
“That’s right. That’s the only way we can go on living. I don’t want to bow down and go through that hell again. Let’s start by putting a formation together--”
The tent flap was forcefully pulled open, and a soldier who reported directly to Caspond rushed in.
“Your Highness! The demihumans are moving! They’re reforming their lines!”
They did not have a proper formation in the previous battle. Did they have one now because of Jaldabaoth’s command?
“Is that so… Gentleman, the enemy will be attacking soon. We need to prepare for battle as soon as possible!”
After Caspond finished, all the people who had been called here stood up as one. Neia and CZ did as well.
The others rushed out of the tent first, eager to save time.
The final ones remaining in the tent were Neia and CZ. Neia’s unit was already together, so there was no need to go gather them.
Neia suddenly felt that something was amiss about the grim expression on the face of the messenger who had barged into the tent, but she could not do anything about it, and so she and CZ returned to their unit.