Without a single Archdevil inside the Bronze Citadel, Leylin now held the greatest authority. He had fooled the Dark Eight with a single illusion, making them think he was a high-level leader commanding a great army. Rather, he’d secretly changed his own position given the secret authority he’d obtained, which was rather easy to do.
The A.I. Chip had been tasked with making this process even easier for him.
[Beep! Host’s data has been altered, now editing the host’s position within the network.] In just a moment, the A.I. Chip’s information surfaced before Leylin’s eyes.
[Current identity: Greater Devil — Leycian (Horned Devil), from the plane of Dis. Allegiance: Beelzebub. Status: Temporarily commandeered by a higher level of authority: Baalzephon of the Dark 8.]
Once he joined the network, Leylin immediately joined the lesser devils who’d already been mobilised. He no longer felt like an outsider. The A.I. Chip’s prompts even showed him that he had tens of lesser devils as his direct subordinates.
‘This feeling… really is exquisite. No wonder devils can often defeat superior forces that are over 20 times more powerful than them,’ Leylin mounted his nightmare and growled as he revealed the appearance of a horned devil. This was fake of course, but even an Archdevil would be fooled into thinking it wasn’t.
The nightmare neighed, expressing its bloodthirst and desire for slaughter. Its flaming hooves left deep marks behind on the street.
“Officer Leycian, Hanalin reports to you.” With the speed of the nightmare, they reached the second tier of the bronze walls in the blink of an eye. By the time Leylin arrived, a large squad had already assembled for him.
A dozen lesser devils stood at the forefront of the squad, not exchanging a single word with each other. Once they saw Leylin, they all confirmed that he was their superior.
This group was mixed. There were imps and barbazu, as well as steel devils, kytons, and an erinyes. There were also some rare falxugon and amnizu. Hanalin was the beautiful erinyes, and she stood at the front of the squad in a graceful bow.
‘So there’s even an erinyes, that’s pretty lucky!’ Leylin nodded and accepted their pledges of loyalty. Erinyes were lesser devils, a power the lower devils could not match. To advance to one required a transformation of the soul, and the criteria for that were very harsh. Erinyes were always pampered toys of greater devils.
After receiving their vows of loyalty, he was now the commanding officer of this brigade of devils.
“Mm, the rest of you— report your names,” Leylin imposingly commanded.
“I’m Al!” “Buck!” “Your servant is named Kimmel!” One lesser demon after another respectfully announced their names— of course it was not their true names, but their nicknames.
Leylin was only their current commander, and as a greater devil he couldn’t command these devils to reveal their biggest secret to him. Of course, if he’d used his authority as an Archdevil they wouldn’t have been able to resist.
“Good. Come with me beyond the walls, we are in charge of the defence of a fifteen kilometre stretch west.” Leylin only asked the lesser devils for their names. He cared not about the lower devils and captains, instead rapidly leading the group to the western section of the city wall.
Many devils were stationed along the perimeter, the only gap being the section he was in charge of. The defensive equipment had all been prepared for him ahead of time.
“Hurry. Al, you’re in charge here. Buck, here. Kimmel, you’ll be responsible for the reserve troops.” With the A.I. Chip’s help, Leylin completed his own preparations rapidly, “And you, Hanalin, you’ll serve as my communications officer.”
“I am honoured to serve,” The erinyes stood by Leylin’s side. Leylin’s current appearance was rather wicked, but also greatly charming. Her eyes were filled with admiration and reverence.
Naturally, Leylin suspected that Hanalin cared a bit more about his status as a greater devil rather than his appearance. But they were currently at the city wall, and this was not the time to flirt with his team. It seemed like once all the devils assembled into place, a line of fire could be seen in the distance.
‘This kind of formation…’ Leylin surveyed the scene from a higher position, speechless, ‘Perhaps today I can finally see the rumoured scene of military chaos? They’re running around like headless chickens!’
At the end of the wilderness was a huge legion of demons. Their formation was currently in complete chaos— No, they couldn’t even be said to be in formation. They looked like a bunch of headless ants crawling everywhere, some even moving in the wrong directions. They were tearing and biting apart their own brethren. Trampling over each other at every moment.
This sprawling mess ambled over, and it was no wonder that even if they outnumbered the citadel twentyfold the devils didn’t get worked about it. Instead, their eyes were filled with ridicule.
Even if it was like this, Leylin discovered that not a single one of the devils on the wall had rushed rashly into action, or been provoked. Even the lowest of petitioners stood still.
“Our victory is assured,” Leylin sighed in a low voice.
‘Await orders, sir! Before General Baalzephon has issued the command, none are permitted to fight the enemy!’ A messenger delivered the news of the latest command to Leylin and his eight officers.
‘It looks like the original network can only decide position and subordinacy. The fine details of command must be left to the devils themselves to control… No, perhaps the Dark Eight themselves have the authority to directly control the network, but the consumption of energy and authority is too great. As a result, they never use it apart from in the very beginning.’ After receiving the missive, Leylin kept the slightly restless devils under control, allowing the demons to draw even closer.
Looking from his vantage point, Leylin saw many demons in front of him closing the distance. They were mostly dretches and quasits, cannon fodder. Mixed in with the lower demons were lesser demons like vrocks, hezrou and glabrezu. There were even legendary-ranked demons, such as balors and six-armed mariliths.
Balors were powerful demons of the abyss, possessing a control of fire that allowed them to go toe to toe with pit fiends. Leylin could now see the scales of every demon down below, and the frenzy in their wicked eyes.
“Fire!” A balor cried out loudly, and many demons shot out fireballs, filling the sky with a rain of fire.
Although most of the fireballs fell on their comrades, as well as some unlucky flying demons who were shot down from the sky, some of the fireballs landed on the Bronze Citadel.
“Activate the primary energy defence,” Leylin calmly ordered. Soon after, a layer of defensive energy surfaced above the citadel’s wall, completely blocking the attacks. With the devils’ fire resistance, even the blazing heat that made it through didn’t really affect them.
With just a single wave of attacks, the demons had killed thousands upon thousands of creatures, although most of them were their own comrades. Of course, with their dim minds and confusion, perhaps they hadn’t meant to do it at all.
Following all the slaughter and death, the demons grew even more berserk. They roared and bellowed, trampling all over the corpses of their kin as they violently attacked the Bronze Citadel.
“Attack!” With the signal to attack given, many of the commanding officers let out their own roars. The entire citadel seemed to become a powerful war machine in an instant, as the devils used their armour as well as the walls and artillery to destroy large swathes of demons.
However, demons were indeed the most insane and chaotic of creatures. The disadvantage was not enough to put them in fear, instead only intensifying their bloodthirst.
‘With how it’s going, they can seize about half the wall with some difficulty, losing half of their own army in the process. However, this won’t be much use. The citadel has eleven more…’ Leylin speechlessly speculated on the fate of these demons. If they did not change their strategies, their fate was certain.
[Beep! Host has received a mission from Baalzephon! Details: Feign defeat, retreat to the 11th city wall, and defend it.] Rare as it was, Baalzephon transmitted an order directly through the network.
‘It looks like my previous hypothesis was partly correct. Baalzephon has the authority to use the network, or perhaps he can only contact other greater devils. Which means he can only issue important missions through this network, and other orders need to be more conventional. It looks like his authority is difficult to use…’
This was Leylin not understanding the struggles of the weak. These pit fiends did indeed possess a part of Asmodeus’ authority, and could be said to be barely below the eight Archdevils. However, the control they had was false in the end. Their abilities were restricted, so how could they be as wasteful and extravagant as him?
“Hanalin,” Leylin commanded without the least hesitation.
“Sir!” The erinyes’ expression was extremely grave. After all, if they lost the war and were convicted, she had a high chance of being demoted to a nupperibo, devils who undertook the most dishonourable work. It would be a fate worse than death.
“We need to feign defeat, and retreat slowly to the 11th city wall,” Leylin ordered.
“Are we going to surround them completely?” Hanalin’s eyes held a trace of excitement, and she rapidly alerted the others to the new commands. She also tried her hardest to appear intelligent in front of Leylin.
‘She’s chock full of schemes and intrigue… Keeping her by my side would be too troublesome.’ Little did she know, Leylin had a completely negative impression of the erinyes from the beginning.
The devils’ movements were strikingly coordinated and unified. They abandoned the original wall, and began to retreat in an orderly fashion. The demons however could not see the plot for what it was, and they all fought to outdo each other as they jumped into the middle of a trap.
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