Episode 195. Holy War

On one pitch black, moonless night, the Dark Lord’s army crossed the border without a sound.

“What? How are there so many…”

The first to detect them was a long-range patrol from the Polysian Kingdom, the westernmost of the central kingdoms.

The long-range patrols were shocked by the plains, black because of the swarming demonic beings, and once again by the red eyes shining ominously in this darkness.

Is this hell?

The scouts were terrified out of their wits.

Even more frightening was that not a single one of these creatures opened its mouth to make a sound.

“Retreat as quietly as possible.”

They retreated silently to avoid provoking these beings.

The demonic beings did not chase them. They simply continued on, seemingly driven by something unknown.

Bong! Bong!

Legnica, the quiet fortress closest to the Polysian Kingdom border, suddenly became noisy following the bells signaling the enemy’s approach.

“Enemies! Everyone, get up!”

“Emergency! Prepare for battle!”

The soldiers had been feeling unusually anxious and unable to sleep that day, and they immediately jumped up to rush to their positions at the sound of the bells.

These men froze upon seeing the incoming horde of demonic beings.

Despite preparing themselves from the beginning, they were disheartened by the mere sight of the incoming army.

“Focus! You bastards!”

“Do you want to be swallowed up where you stand?”

Were it not for the verbal assault from their commanders, the soldiers would have remained disoriented until their enemies were directly in front of them.

It was simply that shocking to come face to face with the demonic horde for the first time.

These demonic beings were far more terrible than they imagined, and the stench they gave off was so repulsive that they were unable to focus.

Even the meticulously chosen from the disciplined, elite soldiers were useless in front of the demonic army’s presence.

But fortunately, the Polysian Kingdom had taken a number of precautions for this very situation.

One of these countermeasures was the priests.

The sanctity of the priests was the antithesis of the demonic energy capable of making the living cringe in fear, and their hymns released the bodies of the frozen soldiers.

The soldiers regained their senses at the sound of the blessed songs, but that was all. They were still weighed down by their enemies’ intimidating aura.

This was when the Polysian mages came forward to battle.

Though at a distance beyond the range of the best of the archers, to the mages, the demonic horde might as well have been in melee range.

They called forth the most splendid and powerful spells at their arsenal. As dozens of mages chanted in unison, colorful lights began to bloom in the darkened sky over the fortress.

With these flashes of light, the darkness weighing down on the allies was temporarily lifted, revealing the hideous appearance of the beings hidden in the pitch black shadows.

“Ugh…”

They were even more terrible than imagined. The soldiers, after barely regaining their senses thanks to the priests’ hymns, once again became gripped in fear.

Just before this terror could truly manifest, the mages finished their spells, simultaneously unleashing dozens of spells upon their foes.

Crimson flames lashed out at the demonic beings, and jagged hail descended from above.

Ack!

The creatures screamed out as their flesh was ripped apart by the hail and roasted in flames.

“Ah…”

The pained screams of the otherwise silent demonic army were enough to bring the soldiers’ wandering spirits back to reality.

After wallowing in despair, they saw these creatures screaming while being swept up in flames and mangled by ice spears.

These beings in front of them, though they looked to be straight out of hell, were not true demons. They were also mortal.

As soon as they realized this, the soldiers’ eyes flashed with a newfound fighting spirit.

“That’s a relief.”

Their commanders could only breathe a sigh of relief after confirming that the breaking military discipline had once again been restored.

But they already knew.

Had their foes been humans, even if they were a full regiment of soldiers, the magic just unleashed on them would have been sufficient for their complete annihilation. The effects were far less than the commanders hoped.

The soldiers, stunned by the flashy magic, were encouraged and thought they had already won, but in reality, only a small fraction of their enemies were swept up in the mages’ assault.

“The demonic energy surrounding those creatures is offsetting a significant portion of our magical power.”

Fort Legnica’s commander nodded at the old mage’s words. Even he could tell that the black energy emanating from their enemies was unusual.

He could not be sure, but he felt nothing good would come out of his soldiers coming in contact with that ominous energy.

However, there was no need to worry already. The mages were not the only defense prepared at Fort Legnica.

The commander raised his hand as he saw the demonic army slowly picking up speed as it approached the fortress.

“Catapults! Fire!”

As soon as the commander’s hand pointed toward their enemies beyond the fortress, dozens of catapults fired their flaming projectiles.

These attacks were neither as spectacular as the mages’ spells nor as powerful.

Nonetheless, the burning oil scattered by the shattered projectiles was sufficient to turn the battlefield into a sea of fire.

This was exactly what the commander had planned. He hoped the demonic army would retreat due to the powerful flames.

“Those damned things…”

Unfortunately, the commander’s wish was little more than futile hope.

The demonic beings did not retreat from the heat of the flames threatening to burn the entire area, and they persistently pushed towards the fortress.

“It’s going to be a long night.”

The commander’s expression was stiff, but his eyes were lively.

Fort Legnica’s walls were as tough as iron, and the soldiers stationed there were of higher quality than ever before. No matter how numerous or vicious the demonic beings were, he did not worry about the fortress being breached.

But not all of the troops on the front lines were as lucky as those stationed at Fort Legnica.

Some faced the unfortunate predicament of fighting the demonic beings on open land, as they invaded unexpected locations in addition to the strategic posts on the front.

This was a foreseen situation from the very beginning.

All of the fortresses and citadels along the border were situated at strategic points to prevent foreign invasions, but these bastions were intended for human wars. The demonic army harbored no specific desire to conquer these posts.

No, in fact, these creatures did not even understand the concept of conquering.

They had no need to concern themselves with supply lines, nor did they worry about the political situation between the kingdoms. They simply continued to move forward.

But despite knowing this, it was practically impossible to build defensive strongholds and deploy troops across the entirety of the massive front covering the central and western parts of the continent.

Naturally, parts of the front lines remained defenseless against the demonic army.

Battles that took place without the advantages provided by these defensive structures ended in defeats without exception, and holes quickly formed in the front lines.

The Central Alliance suffered considerable losses despite preparing in advance, and it desperately struggled to fill in these gaps.

All these kingdoms could trust in this process were the superhuman beings they had so carefully set aside this entire time.

Fortunately, these individuals did not fall short of expectations, and they successfully defeated the evil beings infiltrating their lands.

However, even these victories were painful.

Even discounting the damage inflicted on these cherished superhuman beings, the land on which the demonic horde died quickly became lifeless, cursed by their blood.

This territory, tainted by demonic blood, grew more susceptible to demonic energy.

Despite repelling the demonic army in these locations, the territory became the domain of the demon king.

In all aspects, the present war was disadvantageous to the Central Alliance. Each shortcoming brought with it tremendous losses.

It was not difficult filling in the vacancies left behind by a fallen ally. However, these replacements were inevitably inferior to their predecessors, and there was a finite number of soldiers available. It was imperative that they reduce the number of sacrifices.

On the other hand, the Dark Lord’s army did not fear the loss of its troops. All of the alliance’s soldiers killed in battle became the undead and reinforcements for the enemy.

Though the priests desperately tried to purify their bodies, it was impossible to prevent the revival of the dead.

It was then that the leaders of the Central Alliance keenly realized why the western kingdoms had collapsed so quickly.

In reality, the “Holy War” had been little more than an excuse, as the heads of the central kingdoms had schemes of their own.

They had aspirations to drive away the demonic beings and absorb the territory of the fallen kingdoms once they advanced west, but they belatedly realized their folly.

Their aspirations were little more than delusions.

What they needed to worry about now was not the post-war situation, but their immediate survival.

Within a week of the war, the Central Alliance realized the seriousness of their situation and decided to wage total war.

The monarchs called forth their hidden forces from their respective kingdoms and deployed them on the front lines.

Great swordsmen and experts of the magical arts, after hiding quietly within their lands, were brought forth in this world.

Each and every one of these individuals was true powerhouses worthy of being deemed one-man armies. Nonetheless, their lieges could not be reassured.

After all, the western kingdoms would also have had such powerful beings. They had been imposing kingdoms not lacking in strength.

However, those kingdoms had collapsed without a word.

There was no law saying the same fate could not befall them.

In the worst-case scenario, the kingdom could collapse, or the balance of the central kingdoms could be destroyed by the damages inflicted from the war. Despite this, they could think of no other way.

They abhorred the thought of sacrificing the best of their people, but they needed to prevent the interior from becoming a battlefield. Even if the demonic army was defeated, they would end up tainting the land, and having the front lines pushed further into the central kingdoms’ territories was tantamount to their lands becoming barren wastelands.

The Central Alliance called forth the full extent of their power to strengthen the defenses on the front, and they simultaneously called on the Eastern Alliance to provide more active support.

“If the center falls, the east will be next.”

They explained in detail what the fight against the Dark Lord’s army was like.

It proved effective.

Within a single week, the eastern kingdoms were shocked by the damages incurred on the Central Alliance and began to work on more active support.

Despite this, it would take some time for the eastern kingdoms to mobilize their own reinforcements. For now, it was crucial to repel the demonic beings beyond the front lines.

The tireless army of the demon king proved endless, and fights constantly broke out without regard for the time of day.

Even more serious damage than those incurred in the first week was inflicted on the kingdoms, and in the process, a number of the more unlucky defenses began to collapse.

The war situation was far worse than the worst-case scenario envisioned by the kingdoms’ monarchs.

But hope blossomed in the midst of this dire situation.

There was one section of the defenses yet to suffer losses in repelling the demonic army’s advance.

It was the central front centered around the Holy Kingdom of Astoria.

And behind these miraculous victories was a familiar name the monarchs had heard repeatedly in the past.

The foreigner who had emerged victorious in every one of his battles and been given the lofty title of “Indomitable”.

‘Drachen, flanked by his many monsters, vanquishes the demonic army on the front.’

Seon-Hyeok was the hero of this victory.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter