Running After Defeat
*Wooh!* As the Mage Sword was about to strike him, an enormous figure appeared before Akaban’s eyes in a flash of red flames.
“No!” Akaban watched his beloved mount get torn apart before his eyes, pitiful moans spilling from its gaping jaw. The flaming horse had moved in front of him, laying down its life to take the killing blow.
“Was that Flame Teleportation? I wouldn’t have been able to stop you if you fled… What a pity.” Although he was uttering such words, Leylin still moved to the flaming horse’s side. The demigod seemed to sense its imminent death, and it turned towards Akaban. Its eyes were full of admiration and helplessness, regret that it had to leave its partner behind.
The horse then summoned up the remaining trickles of its divine force, and an enormous sphere of flames enveloped Akaban. He disappeared from sight.
“NO!” The only thing that remained was Akaban’s pained roar, his regret reverberating in the plains.
This noble steed had been his partner in all his fights. He loved and trusted it more than he did his imperial concubines and offspring. Even in death, he wanted his horse to accompany him. Were it not for such passion, how would a demigod allow him to ride it?
Now, everything would be destroyed.
“So you had such affection for your steed? What a shame…” Leylin praised Akaban’s loyalty, but the Mage Sword in his hands was unhesitatingly put to use.
Whether he was a hero or a villain was all a matter of perspective. He clearly knew that with the horse’s loyalty the chance that it could be soothed into submission was practically zero. What was his course of action, then? With the grudge between them only resolvable by death, he considered the complete destruction of his opponent the most reasonable course of action.
‘He’s already escaped the outskirts of Hope Stronghold? He really is quick!’ Having shut his eyes and sensed a faint trace of Akaban’s coordinates, Leylin gave up on his plan of pursuit.
After all, Akaban was one of the tribal gods of the natives. With the power of faith in the Sakartes Empire, he was infinitely close to becoming a true god. Given Leylin’s current strength, chasing after him would be a masochistic idea.
This went the other way as well. Had Akaban not acted so stupidly in bringing his subordinates into Leylin’s divine domain, he wouldn’t have lost as badly as he had.
‘The battle of the divine has come to an end. Now, it’s time for the battle of the mortal world…’ Although he did not intend to continue his pursuit, Leylin did not plan to let Akaban off. Since the demigod was so reliant on the natives’ faith, it was time to dig his foundation out. Once he conquered the entire Sakartes Empire, Akaban would be a stray dog with no home. Anyone could slaughter him.
“Tiff!” After returning to the cathedral, Leylin immediately expressed his intentions.
“My lord! You are the stars in the heavens, and the ruler of all there is to devour. Slaughter is the sharp sword that you hold in your hand…” Tiff answered Leylin’s summons before long, appearing at the center of the cathedral. His eyes were filled with emotion.
His body still had trace bloodstains on it. It was clear that the mortals had acted in tandem with the gods that had united to attack Leylin. It was a shame, though. All their schemes had disintegrated the moment Leylin ascended and bestowed his divine spells.
“How’s the current situation?” Although he could mostly divine what had happened, he still needed Tiff’s personal report to obtain the concrete specifics.
Tiff knelt on the ground as he respectfully reported the situation, “The Sakartes Empire conducted a surprise raid. Luckily, my Lord, we had your blessings and managed to force them into retreat. We didn’t even sustain heavy losses; those who were injured healed extremely quickly with your divine spells, returning to their troops.”
The difference of morale between troops who had priests and those who didn’t was like night and day. The power of the healing arts was too formidable. Healing resources were rare in the prime material plane, so the divine spells of the priests were the only clutch that injured soldiers could depend on to survive the battle. The priests were also indispensable when boosting morale directly.
The native troops hardly equalled Hope Stronghold’s legions. The only upper hand they had was the surprise attack, but once the clerics came into play they were utterly defeated.
After all, their shamans and other divine Professionals could only wield their divine spells within their god’s domain. In Leylin’s territory, the opposing troops didn’t have the home ground advantage. It was pointless to discuss victory and defeat.
“Mm,” Leylin nodded. “It looks like you didn’t face many enemies this time. They seemed to have pinned all their hopes on the divine battle, and these troops were only used to sow chaos and serve as a distraction…” His eyes flashed with understanding as he bestowed this divine edict.
“Those despicable natives. They will inevitably pay for their actions today in blood!” Having become a demigod, Leylin’s aura had grown even more powerful. It even held a trace of the power of laws.
“As you command, my Lord! Hope Stronghold will start a war. This time, we must teach them a painful lesson!” Tiff respectfully bowed his head.
“No, not a lesson. This will be extermination! I wish to never see the word Sakartes marked on a map ever again!” Leylin’s cold reply caused Tiff’s heart to constrict in fear.
Tiff gritted his teeth, but he still replied with determination, “Your will shall be done.” After all, Leylin was the absolute authority in this place.
“Very well!” Leylin nodded, and with a wave a golden staff flew into Tiff’s hand. Its handle was decorated in the motif of a lion, and the four differently coloured jewels on its crown shone radiantly. The entire staff seemed to be encircled by a formidable power.
“Is this… a divine weapon?” Tiff asked as he looked on in bewilderment.
“Yes. It’s a weapon I refined using the enemy’s false god. The jewels on top contain the power of lightning and fire. It’s only a demigod-ranked weapon for now, but it should serve as the authority of a pope.”
“My Lord…” Tiff’s voice was choked with emotion.
“Go, I will watch you from the skies.” Leylin waved him away.
“Yes, my Lord. I will defeat the entire Sakartes Empire for you, and conquer all of Debanks Island!” Tiff solemnly swore to Leylin.
Leylin’s ascension hadn’t just affected him. Hope Stronghold itself had grown enormously stronger. With the support of the priests’ divine spells, the troops could now show a military power that was several times greater than before. As for seizing the opportunity to conquer the Sakartes Empire in battle, it was already a foregone conclusion.
With the boost from Leylin’s divine aura and divine weapons, Hope Stronghold’s main army effortlessly invaded the heart of the Sakartes Empire with irresistible force. The decadent native troops were unable to withstand a single blow.
Well, this was all really just the propaganda spread by the church. Although the outcome did not differ much from what was in the official reports, the course of events was something entirely different.
Away from their homeground, Leylin’s armies were facing enemies that had the support of a demigod and similar numbers of clerics and other divine Professionals. Their opponents possessed several hundreds of years more of accumulated resources. However, spring had arrived. Sadly, the plague that had been curbed by the bitter cold broke out vehemently once more.
In Leylin’s previous life, spring had always been the season where epidemics spread widely. The situation here was comparable, so it was hardly surprising. The plague was even more ferocious than before as it swept across the entirety of Debanks Island, creating more and more ghost towns. With its ability to infect even those who were once cured, even the divine Professionals were left up to their ears in work.
Leylin had previously killed two demigods, and it was the same as cutting the number of available clerics in half. With the balance at such a crucial point, even a single feather’s weight was of paramount importance. What then about losing half of your clerics?
Sakartes was now met with another wave of death. There were so few clerics available that even nobles were dying out, forget the commoners. The troops from Hope Stronghold who had forced their way into Sakartes numbly took over ghost town after ghost town. A high number of enemy troops had surrendered to them as well.
There was nothing else to be done. If they continued to stay, all that waited them was death. Defecting would give them the holy water that could save their lives. At the same time, those natives who had surrendered used themselves as an example to show that none of them had been turned into sacrifices, or demoted to slaves after their surrender. Naturally, this situation was not without pressure.
Furthermore, for the sake of preserving their lives, those native commoners had fallen over each other in their eagerness to riot and erupt in chaos before the troops from Hope Stronghold arrived. They had even sent people to request the Stronghold to rescue them.
Generally speaking, the current situation was going great. It would only be a matter of time before they conquered Debanks Island. In these circumstances, Leylin chose not to personally get involved.
At this point, his personal perspective and status had already changed. He only needed to respond to the daily prayers requesting divine spells, and Tiff and Isabel would take care of everything else.
Leylin had now entered seclusion. After becoming a demigod, there were far too many differences between him and an ordinary mortal. Without much experience being one, he needed to slowly feel out his new role.
With his special senses as a god, his followers were presented before him in successive screens. They were even clearer than when he’d been a mere divine being. His connection with his priests was incomparably more convenient, and a lot quicker than before. Within the limits of the Weave, he could gather faith and bestow divine skills with ease.
“Mystra probably only has complete control of the outer Weave. She can only interfere slightly with the deeper levels…” Leylin understood the innate character of the Goddess of the Weave in that moment. She was essentially a jailor in charge of looking after the many Magi at the core. The numerous gods would never entrust their own worshippers to Mystra’s control, so there were considerable limits to her influence.
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