The Black Demon King 501 Part 1
Chapter 26: Storm of Gluttony
Battle at the Supply Base
“–Hurry! The fog is getting thicker every passing second!”
“Okay, everyone ready! The first unit is setting off!”
This was a busy morning in the 203rd Colony, with people going back and forth. The entire village was covered by a faint white fog.
The church bell, which marked the beginning of the day, had not yet rang. Still, the villagers had gotten up very early, and only the children should still be in the land of dreams.
However, in the face of the fog that signals the invasion of a terrifying monster army, all of the villagers’ drowsiness had completely vanished, and everyone was on the move as quickly as they could. Even if it was simply to run away and live another day.
“Listen, we have a duty to protect this stinking base! Those things will start appearing in this village any time now, so don’t dilly-dally and come with us quickly!”
With a loud voice, Ryan started talking to the fully armed members of the vigilante corps that were standing before him.
Whether the enemy attacking the village was human or monster, it was up to its knights to protect the village from harm. And almost automatically, the Crusaders stationed at the supply base would act as rear guard to help stop the incoming enemy.
However, it wasn’t clear if the inhabitants of this 203rd Colony were planning to evacuate to the Alsace Fortress with us. We had yet to determine if the magnitude of the enemy’s invasion would really warrant evacuating such a large number of people.
At first glance, since we had a good number of soldiers on our side, we seemed to be more inclined to believe that we could actually stand our ground and repel the enemy.
At any rate, we should be fine as long as we don’t get in the way of anyone’s plans to run away. If they wanted to run, they could come with us, and if they wanted to stay, they could suit themselves all the same. I didn’t feel so close to the Sinclairians to personally urge them all to escape this place.
“Yuuri, if the time comes, I’m counting on you.”
I told that to Sariel as I sat her on the tray of the carriage that would be departing last, making sure that she still had the wind rapier I gave her.
The tray was loaded with the very little luggage the villagers from the 202nd Colony had brought along, and the remaining space was left for the mothers with small children and babies. Ted’s beloved daughter Eva –for whom Sariel and I had performed the birth ceremony– was among them.
I had originally planned to be carrying Sariel on my back as usual, but the situation this time around was very different.
“Reki, you go with the vigilantes. I’ll stay here.”
“”Huuuh!? If Priest Kuroe is staying, Reki wants to stay as well!”
“I want to make sure what we’re dealing with here. Getting ourselves surrounded is a possibility, so I need you and the vigilantes to not be around me.”
“But that’s too dangerous, Priest Kuroe!”
“I’m just going to check the situation for a bit. I’ll be fine, I’ll retreat immediately and join you guys. And even if I end up being surrounded, I’m sure I can break through them by myself.”
Though I had already gotten some info from our last encounter with that single Gluttony Octo, it would be best to stay and fight them for a bit. There was a chance we could discover another weakness aside from fire, which could lead to finding more effective ways to deal with them.
We could also learn something new about our enemy’s abilities.
We would be making our real stand against the Gluttony Octos once we arrived at Alsace Fortress. In the meantime, I wanted to collect as much information as possible.
I no longer have Sue here with me, so I had to do the intel gathering myself. Besides, there was probably no one who could do it safely by themselves other than me.
“And… Sorry, Ursula, but could you stay with me?”
“No way! Why can Ursula stay and I can’t!?”
I felt bad asking this of Ursula, but Reki quickly jumped in, seeming terribly dissatisfied with my request.
“Stay quiet, Reki. Priest Kuroe chose me.”
“Why!? Why won’t Priest Kuroe choose Reki!?”
Ursula had a triumphant smile on her face for some reason, while Reki was clinging to my leg, seemingly about to cry. But this wasn’t a matter of personal preference… I would have to explain myself.
“Calm down, everyone. And Ursula, there’s no need for you to fan the flames. Listen, she’s the only one who can provide magical support. I want to try and see if the Origin Magic spell ‘Drain’ works on them. Besides, Ursula has no prior combat experience. Though she’d be put in a very dangerous situation here, she could use the experience.”
Weighing the risks, I had decided that it would still be better for her to fight the enemy here first instead of straight up throwing her into the big battle that we would have at the Alsace Fortress with no battle experience.
I wished they didn’t have to fight in the first place. But the enemy was a horde of Rank 5 monsters. This was going to be a full-blown war. Though they weren’t adults yet, I still had no choice but to consider them part of our forces.
“You’re already experienced on the battlefield, Reki. I saw how well you managed yourself when you fought those goblins. So I know I can rest assured, leaving the defense to you.”
“A-Ah, i-is that so? Ehehe…”
I almost unconsciously started to stroke Reki’s head, with her having become as cheerful as a puppy that had come asking to be petted, but I stayed my hand. Neither of us would feel comfortable with that, considering that I was wearing a clunky metallic gauntlet.
“Of course, even if you run away, the enemy may catch up to you. So stay on your toes at all times.”
“Yes! Leave it to Reki!”
For the time being, I made sure to give Reki one of the prototype Ignited weapons I had made.
Reki’s main weapon was a heavy knight’s halberd. Since it was a single-use weapon, I also gave her an extra longsword and some daggers.
“As soon as you find yourself needing to draw this weapon, be sure to be on the lookout for replacements shortly after having started using it. The fire these weapons create should give you enough time as it will keep the enemy away. Also, when you use those daggers, they’re going to get really hot very quickly, since their blades are short. So you should use them as throwing knives instead.”
Reki received the weapons with a smile. Though she wasn’t very good at studying, I was well aware of her proficiency in combat. I was sure she’d put these weapons to good use.
“What about you, Ursula? Are you okay? There’s no need for you to force yourself to stay here if you’re scared. I understand.”
“No, I’m okay. I’ll definitely live up to your expectations, Priest Kuroe.”
Ursula finished her enthusiastic response with a “Hmph!”
I figured she was entitled to be scared, after all, she was still a kid, so I wouldn’t force her to stay here and fight if she wasn’t really up for it… But I was also glad to hear she was staying after all. I knew first-hand how amazingly strong her magic was.
“This isn’t about making me feel proud, Ursula. If things go south, I’ll carry you out of here if I need to, so all you need to do is stay calm and use your magic. Staying focused is important when fighting with magic.”
“Leave it to me.”
Ursula was smart. Our usual conversations during training breaks made it abundantly clear that she remembered every word I would say during any training session –all of my instructions and warnings, and even the trivial stuff. I was sure that this last bit of advice I just gave her was already embedded into her brain.
So I had nothing more to say.
Finally, I handed a single Ignited Dagger to Ursula as a charm. Magic users didn’t need to have a weapon on them, but holding this knife could help her tighten her focus.
“OK then, let’s go.”
Thus I parted ways with Sariel and Reki, and headed for the stone wall joined only by Ursula.
“Whoa… It’s getting harder and harder to see anything here.”
Our field of view was completely white. The fog was getting considerably thick at this point.
Ursula and I, along with the Crusader archers and sorcerers, were waiting for the enemy to arrive at the stone wall.
I wasn’t sure how many of us knew that the enemy was an army of green octopi, or that they were weak to fire. But for the time being, I saw torches shining brightly all over the place, and the archers were getting flaming arrows ready, so we seemed to be properly prepared to meet the enemy.
The walls here were almost 5 meters tall, which made for a reasonable defense for a village like this, but was tremendously poor compared to the fortress. Moreover, having recently defended the great walls of the Galahad Fortress, which boasted a height of 50 meters, made me feel like these walls were a joke in comparison.
I was also worried about me fighting in disguise among Crusader lines, but the soldiers’ curiosity didn’t seem to go very much over the occasional glimpse directed my way, and none of them said anything to me in particular.
Cliff, the captain of the heavy knight squad –who had been quarreling with Ryan a few moments ago– was currently positioned right below us, guarding the village’s main gate. He had said to me “I heard you’re an adventurer hired by the village. Well, feel free to do as you please as long as you don’t get in our way”. So I figured that he didn’t feel particularly inclined to pay too much attention to me at all.
And he would probably raise as much as an eyebrow regarding Ursula’s curse, that is, her use of Origin Magic, during this battle. No one would complain about the nature of their magical support when their own lives are at stake.
“Priest Kuroe, are they really coming here?”
Ursula revealed her doubts as she stood beside me.
Some time had passed since we arrived here. And yet, the surroundings were extremely quiet, and I didn’t feel like a large army of monsters was approaching.
At the very least, when Greed Gore’s monster army began to move in the Ischia Hills, they had a very strong presence.
“Don’t let your guard down. The enemy will definitely come here.”
My left eye’s reaction was proof that a Trial was drawing near. It had been a long while since the last time it shone like this, but its reactions were never mistaken. That’s why I was absolutely sure that the Rank 5 Gluttony Octos were coming here.
But then, a thought crossed my mind.
What if the Gluttony Octos ignored this village and targeted the villagers that had evacuated a few moments ago?
The usual behavior of a man-eating monster made it hard to think that they would skip past this village, since villages like this tend to have lots of humans and other things they could consume. To them, this village was like an all-you-can-eat buffet.
However, what if the boss of these Gluttony Octos was smarter –or had more insight– than the rest of them, like Sloth Gil was…? Then it could consider going for the villagers that were evacuating, which were easier targets, and leave this village, which was protected by a wall, for later.
“N-No, no way–”
Then, as the dreadful image of the Eleventh Apostle’s cruel smile appeared in my mind, a terrible roar shook the village.