WAR OF THE MADMEN (I)
On’yal crossed his arms over his chest as space before him turned into a lotus-like shape, exploding outwardly toward the oncoming, mile long hammer. He then immediately slapped himself back onto the chest and teleported back a whole kilometer behind, just barely being out of range of the explosion. Despite the sweat collecting on his forehead, he had no time to wipe it off; he extended his left arm flat and opened his palm, pushing forcibly forward.
En’kav clicked his tongue in dissatisfaction as he swiped both his index fingers in opposite directions, tearing open a mouth-like hole in the space which then spat out two glistening swords. The contorted space and two swords met at the halfway point between the two, causing yet another explosion. All the while, both were weaving about the sky at speeds that very few could hope to follow; On’yal through the displacement of space itself and En’kav through the use of his Gates -- connecting two points in space and opening up a tunnel between the two.
Suddenly gaining a couple of miles of distance, En’kav came to a halt, roaring from the depths of his lungs. Both his arms quickly began swiping like swords across the space as the world above him collapsed, hundreds and soon thousands of mouth-like tears seemingly wailing into the universe.
On’yal’s heart skipped a beat as he forced his Singularity to spit out even more Qi, shoving it all into the palms of his hands which he raised just above his head. Feeling it was enough, he coughed lowly whereupon a trail of blood cascaded down the corner of his lips before bringing both palms down. Even further up in the sky, above the mouths, a flat plane of space seemed to disconnect with the reality itself before plummeting down.
Lino observed the battle with a solemn expression, one entirely hidden by his mask. Whatever little confidence he had gathered by crafting his weapon arsenal had been completely destroyed in just ten minutes. He stood absolutely no chance against either one of the two fighting on the screen. Even if his body could regenerate hundred times as quickly, he still couldn’t do anything about the two shuffling through the space itself.
“They should be flanking right about now,” Lino mumbled casually, calming his stirring heart. “Switch the main screen over onto them.”
“Yes.” the Emperor quickly nodded; it’s not as though he wasn’t worried about On’yal, but the battles of cultivators at such Level could take hours to reach the utmost climax. The battle beneath them was far more important.
The screen flashed momentarily in a faint cyan before the image switched. Nearly everyone -- including Lino -- immediately frowned. The first line of defense was already overran; thousands of corpses - both human and demonic - lay sprawled over the enclave, its just recently overgrown grass already toppled into crimson strands extending barely an inch off the earth.
Dozens of craters, trees still on fire, thousands of arrows... several even sucked in a cold breath upon witnessing the sight. As On’yal’s Legion -- initially comprised of 50,000 men -- was split into three, 20,000 were left to defend before the flankers arrived. Yet, of those 20,000, barely half still lived and were constantly forced in retreat. Vanguard Shieldbearers did their best to prevent the sheer onslaught of the Demons who had little care for their lives, yet they were simply unable to. This forced infantry to repeatedly press onward as to prevent the Demons from reaching the back line.
In addition, Continental Force was also outnumbered in the air battle; to say nothing of the 10 Devil Generals, there were also at least a couple of hundred of High-Tier Demons who were besieging the formation from the sky compared to just a few dozen trying to defend. However, it was exactly in times like these that the heroes are born -- a woman seemingly in her late twenties, who so far remained in the back, sending flickering bolts of flames in an arc -- stepped forward.
Lino’s eyes quickly focused on her; she was one of the Generals -- the youngest on the field, actually -- but he didn’t pay much attention to her information past that. She had jet-black hair and was wearing rather loose, cyan robes shimmering in deep coral.
She suddenly heaved into the air, her whole being encompassed in flames, appearing like a sun even in broad daylight. The flames quickly composed a spherical shape around the woman, repeatedly rotating at massive speeds while increasing in temperature, distorting the light itself surrounding it. Within a blink, the first tongue-lash of flames erupted, soon followed by dozen and hundreds of others, each extending like whips and breaking off from the sphere before bombarding the heavily concentrated area of Demons.
Hellish inferno quickly besieged the Hell’s Forces, forcing them to scatter like brainless chicken and allowing the Shieldbearers to resume at least a pretense of control over the frontline. After nearly a minute of ceaseless torrential inferno, the woman seemed to have ran out of Qi, clearly exhausted as she landed back on the ground.
“... their morale is collapsing,” Patriarch Chen commented with a serious expression. “There’s a high chance many of the survivors will withdraw from the military temporarily.”
“... they underestimated the Devils, and especially so the Demons” Sky-bearing Monk said, sighing. “Fear of death is the greatest divider of our races.”
“In addition to that,” Unholy Guardian said. “However distorted they are, Demons are still humanoids. They bleed when cut and their guts spill out when drilled. It’s quite a deterrent.”
“... we’ll have to reconfigure the Legions,” Lino said, forcing all eyes on him. “If the Commander comes to be busy each time with the Sin-Devil, we need someone else to take charge on the ground. They don’t necessarily have to be strong, just experienced and resilient. Look at them,” he pointed at the screen. “Their formation has completely collapsed. Luckily, the Demons seem hellbent on just charging the front. Their flanks are open, they forgot to rotate the ranged attackers so now their firepower is running out, the Shieldbearers never opened a slight path for Demons when being overwhelmed and let infantry take care of them quickly... it’s a miracle they haven’t been completely eradicated. Are these really the best trained soldiers you guys have?”
“...” nobody replied, as they didn’t know how. Everything Lino said was right -- and even if it was easier for him as an observer to spot these things, some of them were too basic to be missing -- such as rotation of ranged attackers. While one group attacks, the other one recovers their Qi; that way, even if the overall firepower is lowered, at least it’s consistent.
“The good news is that even the weakest of them seem to be able to take on 2-3 Demons all on their own,” Lino dispelled the heavy atmosphere; there was no reason to kill the morale any further. “If we put a good leader into every group, it shouldn’t be too hard for us to match them Legion for Legion, even if theirs number twice as many forces.”
“... the last major war that our continent had was over two hundred years ago,” the Emperor said. “There’s nobody in the Empire’s entire army that’s older than hundred and fifty.”
“... then find the retired Generals,” Lino said casually. “Doesn’t matter if they’re old, weak or crippled. Feed them whatever pills necessary and give them whatever benefits they want. Unless you plan on attaching two Commanders to every Legion?”
“I’ll relay the task to Annabelle.” the Emperor said.
“No. She is still setting up the logistics,” Lino said. “Not to mention she’s already short of people, even if she wasn’t, creating supply tunnels is far more important for the time being. The only reason this battle in particular is so heated is because it’s the first one. Most won’t be this hellish. Just make the list of people and I’ll send someone.”
“Alright.” the Emperor nodded, quickly whipping out the piece of paper and beginning to write down the names he remembered; he wasn’t alone, though. Nearly everyone in the room except Lino began fervently writing the names. All of them were old monsters who were well aware just how important a seasoned veteran is to a group of mostly youngsters who’ve never seen, let alone lived, a war on this scale.
“... hm?” Lino mumbled into his jaw, his expression souring. “Keep monitoring the battle and make sure none of the Generals die -- especially the Prince. I have some matters to attend to. If anything crops up, you know how to find me.”
Without even allowing others to ask what’s wrong, Lino disappeared. Opening his eyes, he found himself inside his room in the inn, a familiar, silver-eyed husky lying on the floor next to his bed. Lino quickly took off his mask and put it back into the void world whereupon the husky jumped and wiggled his tail madly for a moment.
“What’s wrong?” Lino asked.
“Woof--woof woof, WOOOF, woof woof!!” the dog barked and growled with a seemingly enraged expression. Lino’s heart froze momentarily.
“... a-are you sure?” he whisked through his grinding teeth.
“Woof! Woof woof!” Non nodded his head fervently.
“Shit!!” Lino exclaimed, suddenly grabbing at dog’s collar and jumping out of the window, climbing onto the roof and whipping out the [Dimensional Pouch], summoning Grim immediately. “Go south. Don’t hold anything back!!” before the bird even had a chance to greet him, Lino jumped onto its back and roared at it. Though Grim seemed displeased, as though hearing the urgency in Lino’s voice, he merely screeched for a moment before lifting into the sky and swiping across it to the south. Why has no one reported it? Lino screamed inwardly. It’s not a small-scale raid... shit. I just hope I can get there in time...