Even though everyone else got five weeks to finish preparing for the war, Night only had four weeks to prepare himself. By agreeing to be at the forefront of the fight, he needed to leave early for several reasons. The main reasons were that he needed to scout an oasis, fight the occupants, and save as many slaves as possible...all before the demon war party showed up. Night had been sure of his ability when he made the commitment to lead the charge. However, he realized that he may have bitten off more than he could chew after fully reviewing the plans.
The planned route for the demon army went through fifteen Diego Family oases. The route through the desert was sort of meandering and erratic. The war advisors had picked a route that let the demon army restock their supplies while maintaining a low key march through the desert. By the advisors' estimations, the army's travel between each of the oases would take about a week. With the long travel time, Night honestly didn't think that the demons would be able to pull off a complete surprise attack, but the Countess had seemed certain that their army's travels could be kept from the Diego Family's watchful eyes.
As far as his own preparations were concerned, Night would be done with gathering everything he needed in the first week. His upgraded weapons and armor we're going to be ready two weeks before he needed to leave and his other basic supplies had already been gathered.
Right now, supplies weren't the most needed thing on Night's list. He wanted more support for these upcoming oases attacks. He only had Grief and Misery with him for support. It would be great if more of his team were present for the upcoming fighting.
Almost immediately after getting out of the planning meeting, Night had recognized the need and mentally sent word to Distress. Per Night's instructions, she was responsible for sending the three new Ker warriors to meet him at one of the human oasis along his route. While Distress was fine with managing Manco Oasis by herself, she was very upset that she would miss out on the fighting in the oases and the City of Southern Wind. After a few assurances, Night convinced her that she would be able to make up any losses with future fights.....especially if the demons move toward Nazca City.
Even though he arranged for Gloom, Despair, and Sorrow to join in on his trip, Night didn't expect to see them until the fourth or fifth oasis attack. The reason for the meetup delay was mostly due to travel times differences between their different locations. The three Keres had to leave from Manco Oasis and begin the journey immediately in order to not miss out. Until the three arrived, Night would have to tackle the first couple of oases with just Misery, Grief, and himself. Since they were very familiar with fighting with each other, Night didn't foresee any issues ahead of him.
The only unaccounted for Ker was Famine. Although Night had wanted her to join in, Famine was currently playing the role of Mere Pazuza in organizing the survivors of the City of Southern Wind into a group fit for battle. Although it wasn't apparent to others, she was trying to determine the appropriate successor of the Pazuza Clan. Much like an audition, she was assigning roles to those in her clan and constantly evaluating those that remained. However, one item she had failed to take into consideration was the propensities of a Ker. She leaned towards some of the more ruthless female survivors as favorites to take her place leading the clan.
Night began to make his final preparations for the upcoming war. He needed to train. To get used to his new equipment. To get in the right mindset for the task ahead of him. So far, Night had been quite lucky along his way. Nothing had really challenged his bottom line in terms of actions taken against the Diego Family. However, he had a feeling that this route would test his resolve.
Practically all oasis only housed adults. Families with children either sent their kids to boarding schools in the Nazca City or moved to the city themselves. That meant that practically everyone living in an oasis was either adults or old enough to at least fight. This approach of the Diego Family was mostly practical since oases served mostly as work locations and outposts. Night hadn't handled the loss of people he considered innocents too well when the slaves uprose in Manco Oasis. The losses of the nurses that had cared for him and the incident with Grief.....had been pushed to the back of his mind. However, he knew that he would have to deal with the consequences of his desire to take revenge against the Diego Family. He couldn't help himself from thinking about the realities of battle.....and the devastation that waging a full out war would cause.....both the people involved and his own psyche.
Three Weeks Later.
Over the last couple of weeks, Night had been distracting himself by focusing on finalizing his preparations and mastering the two body skills that he had gotten from Famine. The Pazuza Clans method for training in both the Body of Agility and Body of Endurance were very straight forward and were simply heavy weight training. But it definitely wasn't normal weight training.
As a standard approach, the Pazuza Clan wore custom armor that equally weighted down their body parts and restricted movement. The demon clan's training perspective was basic.....if your body can move like normal under an extream load, then you will develop the agility needed to react quickly and the endurance needed to handle the heavy load.
Night had laughed his ass off when he first read the short manuals. He probably could have figured this shit out on his own. However, he quickly realized the trouble of training with this method. He needed heavy body weights to train. If he was a normal person, he could have just used the standard equipment that the Pazuza Clan trained in. However, Night had already mastered the Body of Strength and was a peak level Demigod...getting training weights that weren't bulky or too light was a difficult task. It actually took him a whole week and almost a quarter of his resources to find a blacksmith with the materials and skill to make him some special weights.
Once he got the weights, Night had cursed himself for laughing at the training. Although the method was simple, it was very, very strenuous on the body. The key to the agility training was to increase strength without bulking up while losing the gained agility. This training involved moving around rapidly while wearing the training weights......and keeping the focus on the muscles as they moved to concentrate heavenly energy in the appropriate locations.
The best training method that Night had found was to go out of the city and into an isolated spot in the desert......then have Misery and Grief fight him while he was wearing the weights. While he was under the suppression of the weighted armor, Night's strength and speed were actually lower than the two women. It had been some time since Night had felt at a great disadvantage in battle and he took the opportunity to also train his blade skills.
This state of constant training was very agreeable to Night. He liked the distraction that it played to his mind. It was hard to be stressed out over the upcoming war when he was so focused on training. Since he had so much time to himself, he made sure not to slack off in any of his training. In addition to practicing his knife work and the body training, Night had spent a good bit of time considering his entire cultivation path.
From just about everyone that he had met along the way, Night was different in the route he pursued. Most humans and demons would focus entirely on one route to improve themselves. Take Lili for example. She was entirely devoted to the Truth of Emotion. She didn't train with weapons beyond the basics and she wasn't concerned about body cultivation at all. Actually, she wasn't the oddball for focusing on one method......Night was extremely odd for spreading himself all over the place. He cultivated in an elemental based Truth of Darkness, a soul-based Great Truth of Reality, a weapon based Truth of the Knife and a body based Truth of the Physical Body. If any individual Truth were looked at, he would be considered weaker than most Demigods.....but when his four Truths were added together, Night actually exceeded the strength of most peak Demigod level experts.
However, he would never be considered at the top of the food chain on this planet until he broke through to the God realm. And his quickest route to the God realm was to focus on cultivating his Truth of Darkness to the absolute peak. He only had two more Concepts to comprehend until he would be close to the God level......the Concept of Doom and the Concept of Retribution.
In consideration of his future training, Night had issues with planning his path to develop these two concepts.....well particularly the Concept of Doom......the Concept of Retribution was relatively easy.
The Concept of Retribution was based on a counterattack skill that helped return some of the physical damage dealt with an opponent. Training this skill actually fit in very well with Night's fighting with Misery and Grief. Since he was slightly at a disadvantage in the fights, he was getting hit pretty frequently....and constantly executed the skill to respond to attacks.....and usually looked like an idiot doing so. When Night used the skill, he would feel the direction of the hit's impact and respond by using that momentum to redirect the blow and counterattack.
While it sounds simple, the process was very difficult and essentially required the user to develop an instinctual reaction to being hit in a particular manner. His failure in this technique caused most of his pain and embarrassment in the general sparring with Grief and Misery. Night's only guess was that the reaction required to create the concept needed to be developed over time......to the point that the reaction became second nature.
Unlike the Retribution Concept, training in the Concept of Doom was much more difficult. The Concept of Doom was trained using the Doom Skill that helped give the user a sense of threats around him. Night had originally thought this skill was similar to soul perception, so he hadn't really focused his attention on it. That said, Night had used this skill a few times with mixed results and was actually a bit uncertain on its usefulness. He had originally thought that this might be a soul based skill. However, when he used the skill....he didn't feel the use of his soul energy at all. Actually, he only felt a slight tug of elemental energy.
Upon further investigation, this Doom skill seemed to rely on something else entirely and he wasn't sure what exactly was going on. The skill would stay activated for hours once executed, so Night would constantly keep using the skill to better understand what was happening. However, he didn't have luck figuring out the Doom Skill until he had an unlucky day.
One morning, Night had executed the Doom skill and immediately felt an unease that wouldn't go away. He initially disregarded the feeling but found the sensation got worse as the day continued. Despite the bad feeling, the day went by smoothly........until Night had a brief violent encounter with Lili at the Countess' Palace. That incident had ended with a knife in Night's side and a big hubbub at the Countess' palace.
Lili had managed to play sweet to get close to Night after they ran into each other in a hallway. Night had paid the price by assuming she was actually being sweet......Lili's had rammed a knife into his side the second she got close enough. If Night wouldn't have had the uneasy feeling from the Doom Skill, he wouldn't have gotten off as easily as he did......with only a light stab wound that healed in a few minutes time.
Once the incident was over, Night's unease disappeared and he felt normal again. The whole ordeal had completely messed with Night's mind. His mental strain wasn't because of Lili or the fact that he got stabbed......it was this weird skill that almost seemed to give him a premonition that something bad would happen in the future. He didn't quite understand much of how this skill was working......and he wasted an entire day failing to find some supporting literature in the Limim Clan library....although he finally realized the significance of the skill, he was left with a mystery of how the result was actually brought about.
The only beneficial outcome of Lili's attack was that her father had to get involved with the situation. The woman was ridiculously obsessed with cultivating her anger.....and it wasn't healthy for anyone. When her father had shown up at the scene, she had even angrily confronted him. Night was actually thankful that he had shown up to deal with her mess...and Lili had continued on with her tirade.....when she felt like she was ignored, Lili smacked her father causing herself to get locked up in a holding cell in the Countess' Palace.
Slyly, Night had used the incident to get a little bonding time in with his 'father-in-law'. While he was certainly done with the relationship with Lili, Night still needed to get some information concerning the Body of Storage from Roth Dreamwalker. Anything he could do to get in the man's good graces would be beneficial.
Today was Night's last day in the City of Setting Sun. Reflecting on his time in the City of Setting Sun, Night wasn't sure if he would ever return to this place. Even if he survived this war, Night had no real reason to return. Lili was all but forgotten at this point and Night didn't have anything else attaching him to the place. Night riding on Khepri across the desert towards his first oasis. The army was traveling across the desert about five days behind him. That means, he would need to have each oasis taken care of in three days time. Considering how well he handled the Piedra Oasis, Night thought that this shouldn't be an issue.
Riding on the back of the flying insect, Night took out a map to examine the planned path across the desert. The armies from the three cities had planned to meet up at this first oasis based on its location, so Night felt some pressure on himself. If he failed on this first one....everyone would have a bad opinion of him from the start.