Chapter 22 War (part 2)
"A spell of a higher level... how incredible..." Fluder continued to murmur before finally focusing on Jircniv "Haha, please forgive my rudeness, Your Imperial Majesty, my mind was elsewhere."
I didn't notice. Jircniv thought sarcastically with a frown, but couldn't comment on it.
Not after seeing what happened once that colorful spell finally activated.
The skills to perceive danger existed.
It was a skill that allowed one to feel the danger as if reading a book. And it was extremely important.
This skill had two categories. One was based on instinct and the other on deduction or studies of experiences. If the first one noticed the beat of his own heart when a monster approached, the latter would be seeing through any small change in the environment, small changes in the smell or sound, to locate the enemy.
In the case of the latter, if one went to battlefields or missions, the ability would sharpen without need of actual training. Needless to say, it was born from the experiences of walking the line between life and death, so many were not lucky enough to survive and learn from the experience.
What the army of the Empire was feeling right now belonged to the second category.
It was as if the air had been suddenly electrified, as they watched the people of the Kingdom move back and to the sides, so the new arrival could walk to the frontlines without issues.
A magic caster, someone that should have been kept back to avoid any close-combat that could endanger him, was walking towards them nonchalantly.
And then he had spoken, the words traveling through the wind as loud and clear as if that man was just at their side, close to them. The Knights that conformed the Empire's army just shared a glance at the odd offer of safety, which by all rights shouldn't exist on a battlefield.
They didn't have much time to dwell on it however. Once the Magic Caster had stated what he wanted, a magical circle had grown around him, symbols dancing merrily at all sides.
The Empire's troops gasped out in surprise. There was no fear or tension in their voices, it was as if they were watching a beautiful show. However, the ones with keener instincts started looking around themselves in obvious discomfort.
"Retreat." one of them whispered, looking with wide eyes at the magic displayed from the other side of the battlefield "Advise the General to order a retre—"
The Knight who had spoken couldn't finish his sentence.
That was because the magic caster had ended the spell, the glowing circle dispersing beautifully, as if composed by fireflies.
So there's nobody here.
Harry thought, feeling slight disappointment. After everything he had done to lure them out, it seemed there really were no players present in the Baharuth Empire.
Yggdrasil's Super-tier magic was incredibly powerful. Because of that, during a large-scale battle, bringing down a person who could cast super-tier spells first was a basic tactic.
Considering this, Harry had acted as bait, coming seemingly alone except for Mare and Aura, waiting a long time for the Super-tier magic to activate and being on the front so anyone watching him could have a clear, direct shot. There were countless methods to accomplish this aim, considering Harry hadn't placed any defenses— or at least none that could be detected— in the area.
He had also cemented his image as a Summoner, what with the Basilisk and the Dragon, so any players out there should be confident enough to confront him. After all, a summoner was one that used beasts and creatures to fight, which often meant that the player himself wasn't very powerful.
Since the creatures did all the work, it was common that the tamer would be weaker than other players that specialized on personal combat.
However, no attacks came toward Harry. If anything, this proved that there were no YGGDRASIL players present.
"So that's how it is. No need to serve as bait then." he muttered, so softly that the people on both sides could not hear him, before smiling.
"Oh well, it can't be helped." Harry said loud enough this time, as the super-tier spell activated instantly.
"[Sword of Damocles]!" Harry exclaimed, out of habit more than because he needed to. After all, a magic caster didn't need to say the spells out loud, but it was a courtesy so the allies would know what to be expect and work with that as a team.
A giant, stylish magical sword materialized on the sky. The size of a 30-floor building, the glowing sword fell much faster than anything of that size had the right to, impaling the objective accurately.
Aside from the 80,000 knights that formed the Empire's army, there were also another 10,000 waiting as back up in the fortress behind them.
And every single one of them was slain in an instant.
Gazef watched horror struck as the impenetrable fortress, built to withstand the entirety of the Kingdom's army, fell down as if it had been made of sand.
The massive sword impaled the building with a strength so mighty, it was like watching a knife go through butter. The instant the tip touched the ground however—
The deafening sound of an explosion filled the air, the pressure turning into slashing shockwaves which tore through the ground. It made no difference whether one was in the sky or on the earth, there was no hiding from it.
The Empire's Knights that were on the back of the formation died instantly. If Gazef had to guess, he would say that at least 15,000 men had fallen.
Shouts of panic rose into the air, becoming a great wave that engulfed the entire Imperial Army, as they tried to place distance between them and the oncoming apocalypse as pieces of the collapsed structure fell down heavily.
"Say" Ainz spoke casually all of the sudden "Have you ever noticed how creatures commonly considered as 'prey' have their eyes at the sides of the head?"
It took Gazef a moment to recover from the shock, at least enough to actually process the question, before furrowing his brows in confusion.
He was not a specialist on creatures, so he had never even thought of that. He had never heard anyone mention it before either, but now that it had been said, he could see it was actually true on most cases.
There were even some creatures whose heads were covered with many pair of eyes, or that had some eyes in other parts of their bodies, like the back of the head as to better cover blind spots and survive against the predators.
"I had not noticed, but I suppose it's true." he answered unsurely, confused as for the reason they were having this conversation in the middle of the battlefield.
"I see. In that case, I suppose you never wondered why a dragon would be considered as prey, did you?"
Good Lord, no.
Oh no, no no no—
"Well, there's actually a very good reason for that." Ainz stated merrily to the speechless Gazef.
Please no, not another pet.
"The dragons have a few natural predators actually, but I really liked this one."
Gazef wasn't a very religious man, but he found himself mentally praying in that moment.
"His name is Hades" Ainz stated proudly, before he tapped the ground with the end of his staff.
Certainly, they had known Ainz Ooal Gown was going to cast a spell after he had deployed his magic circle.
However ─ how could they have possibly anticipated this?
Who could have guessed that he would cast such a spell?
Who could have imagined that he had a spell capable of destroying their fortress, which had been created to withstand the worst aspects of war, in an instant?
That the shockwaves would end up killing so many of their magic casters, that had been positioned on the back of the formation?
The Imperial knights doubted their eyes, even as they prayed to whatever gods they believed in.
"There's no more time to waste. Ainz Ooal Gown's power is immeasurable. Doing battle with him was a mistake from the start. What we need to do now is minimize the number of casualties. Retreat without delay!" the Empire's supreme commander of these legions, General Kabein, ordered.
Had he not been accompanied by a magic caster that could use [Fly] he would be dead now, Adamantite armor or not. But as it was, although he had sustained heavy injuries, he had managed to escape from the collapsed fortress on time.
"Also, don't think about an orderly retreat—"
"Of course. We'll retreat as fast as we can… no, we'll flee like rabbits." The Division Leader agreed with a voice tainted with fear.
The two men who stood at the pinnacle of the Kingdom's military might and strategic thought hurriedly flew into action. However—
—It was all too late.
Kabein's heart ran cold with terror. The Division Leader, who was standing beside him and saw the same thing he did, swallowed loudly. Knowing that he was not alone in his feelings, bitterness began rising at the back of his mouth, and his heart pounded madly.
For a short moment, a strong earthquake had been felt on the Empire's side of the battlefield. That wasn't the problem. The view that had stopped them in shock was the creature that had sprouted from the ground, like a tree that covered the earth, easily tripling the size of an adult dragon.
No, that was nothing as pleasant as a tree.
"What is… that?" the Division Leader muttered in a shivering voice. Kabein knew fully well the species of that beast, even if it was usually just contained in legends, easily recognizable by its huge size.
Like Dragons, these creatures had different sub-species. He had never heard about one as menacing as this one however.
Carried by sturdy, centipede legs that seemed to secrete a corrosive substance, the liquid seemed to soften the soil, and was probably what allowed it to burrow in the blink of an eye. That thing could obviously move while burrowed, and although its speed was unknown, it seemed that it could only be detected as an earthquake once the creature was about to come out to the surface, and not a second sooner.
The head was serpentine in nature however, so it looked like an odd cross between an insect and reptile, like a snake with the body of a centipede, the whole body covered with an exoskeleton.
If that thing attacked the Empire's capital, the place that was meant to have the highest defense, it would be destroyed instantly. There was no way to fight against such a monster.
That was a reality which was far, far too horrible to accept.
"For how long was that thing beneath our feet…?" The man hailed as one of the strongest in the Empire, Kabein, could only grind his teeth in naked terror and stare dumbly at the suddenly appearance of the monster.
"Retreat!" That shrill, high-pitched scream came from somewhere at the other side of the battlefield, and he could see as the knights followed that order quite gladly.
But of course, the Leviathan was much faster than human beings.
A screech resounded in the air, as the huge snake-like head of the creature opened its jaws to reveal three lines of sharp teeth. Instead of it opening like normal however, the creature imitated a blooming flower, the jaws opening in four sections like a carnivorous plant.
There were pincer-like horns at the sides of the head, as if the creature were wearing a crown, and although no eyes could be seen, it was obvious the leviathan could sense them just fine.
The monster —which should have been at quite some distance away— closed the gap with frightening speed. The giant centipede-like Leviathan moved incredibly fast for something of its size.
As it grew larger, the earth began shaking under its thunderous insectoid legs, which made the knights' hearts pound madly. Then, as their hearts felt like they would burst in their chests, the enormous silhouette was upon them.
The multiple legs acted like blades, going through flesh, bone, armor— it didn't seem to matter.
Be they generals, officers, or knights, now they were all the same chunks of bloody flesh. Once they were ground into the mud, none of that mattered any more.
The screams rose up every time those gigantic insect-like legs came down, since the huge creature trampled over them carelessly. The sounds of humans being crushed to death and turned into chunks of meat went on and on.
Several people desperately thrust their weapons forward. The Leviathan, whose armored body was too massive to evade the attacks, was simply hit solidly by the points. However, their weapons couldn't even pierce through the exoskeleton to cause harm.
The Leviathan didn't mock their futile resistance, but simply charged forward.
Before the knights realized that their fatal resolve was meaningless, the creature had already reached the centermost portion of the army.
"Run away! Run away!"
The way the Brigade Commanders shouted these orders was closer to a wail. The titles bestowed upon them —the title belonging to the mightiest warriors of the Baharuth Empire— now seemed so shockingly superficial.
Why had they been so proud of such an insignificant little thing? That was how great of a shock they had received.
They couldn't fight such a monster. No one could.
They shouldn't throw their lives away for no reason.
In response, all the knights began to flee. It was exactly like a swarm of spiders scattering in all directions.
The sound of heavy legs impaling the ground was very near. Kabein was so afraid that he didn't dare turn around to see how close it was, and his fear led him to stick his spurs into his horse's flanks with all his might.
However, the horse didn't move. Even when he kicked it with more force, it still didn't move. It flattened its ears against its head and stayed still.
At that moment, amidst the chaos, a group of horses kicked their way through a horde of fleeing people. The men on their backs clung tightly to their horses' bodies, seemingly ignoring the reins that dangled loosely.
Ironically enough, the trained warhorses were frozen in panic, while the untrained horses were running wild in terror.
In the first place, horses were timid animals. It was only after training that they could be considered fearless warhorses. However, it was precisely because of this training that they couldn't move. Their minds were already overloaded, but they hadn't forgotten their training.
"To think training would have the reverse effect! [Lion's Heart]!" Kabein enchanted a spell of fear resistance at his own horse, as well as towards the one that the Division Leader he had been talking with was using.
With nothing but a silent nod going through them, Kabein and the Division Leader spurred their horses into wild motion at the same time.
Riding a horse through a violent mob that had lost their discipline in the chaos was very difficult. However, it was possible because they were skilled enough to do it, as their high rank prepared them for situations like these.
They both skillfully threaded between the flow of humanity.
"That magic caster's a monster! How can someone like him be allowed to exist in the world?!"
The Division Leader cursed Ainz as his horse jerked up and down in its top-speed gallop.
"Dammit! We have to do something! I need to think of some way to protect our world — our future!"
Fear was probably the reason why Kabein was subconsciously mumbling to himself. If he didn't say anything, if he didn't distract his mind, that intelligent brain of his would probably sketch horrific nightmares of the danger approaching him.
Seeing the ever-approaching, ever-expanding silhouette of the monster, Kabein and the Division Leader ignored everything else and just kept running side to side.
"This isn't a battlefield any more, it's a killing floor! Just run! Run until you reach it!"
There was no need to explain that they were talking about the salvation line, drawn at the beginning of the battlefield, the white smoke now looked almost inviting.
Kabein worried that it was nothing more than a cruel joke, that the smoke would end up being a poison of sorts, but what else could they do, but take their only hope with iron's grip?
By this point, the surrounding knights had thrown down their arms and fled in a panic. Of course, since there were just too many people, it was impossible for them to move freely, so the centipede had little to no issues catching up with them.
It was a carnage.
If it could only use its massive physical strength maybe they would have time to escape. However, Kabein's hopes were destroyed as the Leviathan used a wide-area attack.
The huge jaws opened to release a thick, green substance, the smoke covering the sky, instantly killing the Hippogriffs— which were part of the Air Guard — as if it they were nothing but flies. The riders had been trying to distract the huge beast, buying time for the army on the ground to escape, but they had been dealt with in nothing but sheer seconds.
Had he had a clearer mind, he would have cursed at the loss of the air guard, the only ones that would have been able to escape from the terror covering the ground. Horrified as he was however, all Kabein could do was think of that monster.
Ainz Ooal Gown —this magic caster, all by himself— was a monster who could take the nations forged by men and obliterate them like a child could kick down a sandcastle. No number of walls or soldiers would ever be able to stop him.
Their spies on the Kingdom had informed them the man had tamed a dragon and a basilisk, so the Empire had prepared for these eventualities, but the reality was beyond the ability of any words to describe.
Kabein's armor was made of the rare metal adamantite, and further enchanted with powerful magic. It was the best defense the Empire could offer to their highest ranked men, and it had been sufficient to let him survive up until know.
But that ended as the Leviathan burrowed the lower half of its body underground, spikes suddenly extruding from the ground and impaling at all the living beings in its path, killing everything in a matter of seconds.
He realized that Ainz' power surpassed mortal imagination. His creature was slaying thousands, perhaps tens of thousands if they were unfortunate enough to be densely packed when the spikes sprouted from the ground.
In the end, Kabein didn't have time to feel pain as his adamantite full-plate armor was pierced as if made of paper, killing him instantly.
This was very bad.
It was a vague statement, but Raeven simply didn't have the words to describe the situation more clearly than this. He repeatedly shook his head, as if trying to wake up from this nightmare.
Level 10 magic, little more than a legend, only available in the land of imagination.
Marquis Raeven watched the battlefield completely frozen, surrounded by the ex-orichalcum adventurers he had hired as bodyguards.
Even when he logically knew they were on the same side, that the monster wouldn't suddenly turn and attack the Kingdom's forces, Raeven's basic survival instinct still screamed at him to leave, in fear of death.
"The horses are shying. Even these trained, hardened warhorses are so frightened they can't move." One of his bodyguards muttered.
"Is that… Is that the magic caster you feared?! Is… is that the power of Ainz Ooal Gown? Then, then… that…" Raeven exclaimed incoherently, thinking at the way Gazef had insisted, doing all he could to remark the power of Ainz Ooal Gown.
What would have happened if the Kingdom hadn't listened to him? If they were actually fighting against that?!
"No matter how you think about this, it can't be true. It should not."
Ainz Ooal Gown could control such a creature, such a monster.
They had initially assumed that Ainz was on the same level of that terrible magic caster, Fluder Paradyne of the Baharuth Empire, but the truth was much worse than that.
A magic caster could only control monsters that were weaker than themselves, that much was common knowledge. Maybe if several casters reunited and made a magical ritual, concentrating numerous spells from numerous people, or if they had powerful magical tools available, the result may differ, but that situation was unlikely.
Expressed simply, this magic caster, Ainz Ooal Gown, was stronger than a leviathan.
"Even that mighty magic caster, Fluder Paradyne, shouldn't be able to do it. That means—"
"Retreat." Raeven cut through the bodyguard's sentence. "It's… it's obvious that man doesn't need the support of the Kingdom's troops. Give the order to retreat without breaking formation. If they panic at the order of departure… we'll lose many troops if they run mindlessly."
They already knew that Ainz had prepared an awe-inspiring force. With that in mind, what else could they do but leave?
Even more so considering the state of the Royal Army, the soldiers witnessing this massacre.
Raeven could only hear the section close to him, but the sound of armor clattering against itself managed to reach his ears.
The soldiers were trembling, but who could laugh at them?
After witnessing such a scene, nobody could help but break out in goosebumps, wishing that the wrath of Ainz Ooal Gown would never fall upon them. Raeven could even see some kneeling down, giving a prayer to the gods.
By this point, maybe they were praying to Ainz Ooal Gown directly.
In addition, Raeven realized that this couldn't be dismissed as a matter of "us vs them."
Certainly, from the point of view of the Kingdom against the Empire, this disaster was happening to "them." But when you looked at it from the perspective of men against monsters, this brutal slaughter was happening to "us." It was no wonder the Kingdom's forces, made by barely trained commoners, trembled in fear.
And fear was contagious.
If even one of them started to run away the others would follow suit, and many would die once the formation was broken, pushing and stepping over their fallen comrades in their attempt to escape just a second sooner.
No, they needed to leave, to guide them in an orderly retreat before the situation got out of control.
Raeven closed his eyes, briefly shielding them from the carnage occurring at the other side of the battle, thoughts spinning at top speed.
The fact that the plan had been to let him have the land he had requested, and then fight to recover it was downright laughable. He firmly believed that not even the other Nobles were idiotic enough to insist on that now.
But if it came down to that…
He couldn't die yet. It didn't matter what happened to the country. If it was to fall, then let it fall.
If taking up arms against Ainz Ooal Gown meant death, then he was willing to abandon this country and flee. He wouldn't think of the Kingdom's future anymore.
After all, he couldn't die while his son was still so young. And... he couldn't leave his beloved wife alone by dying.
Raeven imagined the form of his son before him.
My lovely boy.
A tiny little life had been born. It slowly grew up, and sometimes got sick. Back then, he had made a huge fuss because of that. The image of himself running around half-mad, bellowing orders, while his wife sat there in silence was deeply embarrassing.
His hands were soft and his cheeks were rosy. When he grew into a youth, he would be the talk of the Kingdom. He believed his son's abilities would surpass his own; he could already see traces of that from time to time.
His wife kept saying that any parent would think the best of their child, but he didn't think that was the case.
Lost in this track of thoughts, Raeven smiled and opened his eyes.
Yes, compared to his own family, the Re-estize Kingdom simply didn't matter. He would try to keep things from reaching the point where he would have to escape, but if it came down to that, he would do so with a clear conscience.
"Is this a dream?"
A soldier from the Royal Army muttered to himself, far from the monster that was decimating the other side of the battlefield. Of course, he received no answer. Everyone's eyes were fixed on the scene unfolding before them, and they had lost the power of speech. It was as if their souls had been snatched away.
"Hey, this is a dream, right? I must be dreaming, right?"
"Ahh. This is a fucking nightmare."
The second time the question was asked, someone managed to answer. But their voices sounded like they wanted to run away from reality.
I don't want to believe this.
If it had been a simple monster, perhaps they wouldn't have trouble accepting it. But a simple monster was something the adventurers would be able to defeat, at the very least.
That thing was on a category of its own. It was like watching an advancing hurricane, and nobody could muster up the courage to brave the storm.
They prayed that the monster would not come for them. Whether they were thinking about the leviathan or the magic caster that called it forth, it wasn't clear.
Considering this was happening at Gazef's back, he should have been able to listen to their conversation.
But he was too shocked to pay attention to such things. Gazef watched from his position at Ainz' left side, as the panic enveloped the Imperial Army, and even though he knew the Kingdom wouldn't have to suffer such fate, he still shuddered.
This was the terror born of realizing that the Empire, which had enjoyed of safety and military power that surpassed the Kingdom's by far, now stood on the edge of extinction.
This was an understanding that if they dared to raise their hands against Ainz Ooal Gown, that same awful magic might end up being turned on them, on the Kingdom, on his home.
Under these circumstances, Gazef suddenly thought of something. What kind of expression did a magic caster like this —who could work a sorcery that could slaughter the living in quantities that beggared mortal comprehension— what kind of expression did he have?
Without moving his face, he spied on the man standing beside him, Ainz Ooal Gown.
The man's expression made Gazef involuntary relax minutely. That was the same face that had graced Gazef's own Monarch, Rampossa III, every time the Kingdom battled against the Empire. Every time the news of slavery and death reached the royal family.
It was an expression that denoted guilt, and to a lesser extent, regret.
"This is the way that causes fewer casualties actually." as if having read his mind, Ainz said that out loud softly, almost compassionately.
"There is no war without blood, and as long as the enemy thinks they stand a chance, they will come back again. It needed to be an overwhelming defeat… at the same time; it needed to be something everyone would know they don't have any chance fighting against. This way everyone, from militia to the Generals and the Emperor… all would know that there was no other option other than to turn around and flee. To surrender."
That… made sense actually. Even more so since this strategy was combined by the "salvation line" that was just behind the fortress of the enemy.
Without it, it wouldn't matter whether they stayed to fight or not, since all of them would have no other fate other than death. The enemy would know that, so they would have stayed to battle in a mindless, useless feat.
But what could they do other than run, when Ainz had made the promise that whoever crossed that line would be free of persecution?
Now with this perspective, Gazef turned to study the battlefield once more.
Given the speed at which that creature moved, escape should have been impossible. Even if they ran with all their strength, they would still be squashed flat from behind.
However, the Leviathan was moving through the middle of the battlefield instead of persecuting them, as if to make sure to frighten the knights present on all sides. The enemy's army had abandoned its formation long ago, now running like scattered ants as they did their best to try to reach the salvation line that had been offered.
Compared to the beginning of the battle, the Leviathan was actually sparing most knights now. Maybe if the situation didn't change, at least one third of the Empire's army would be able to survive. If they were lucky, maybe half would make it.
"Ainz Ooal Gown, what kind of creature, what kind of magic caster are you?!" Jircniv muttered, trembling in rage as he looked at the battlefield.
He had underestimated him. No, he hadn't done so on purpose.
After taking all the information available from the Kingdom into consideration, he had viewed him as an enemy of the highest caliber imaginable. However, all he could say now was that he had still underestimated the man's abilities.
His imagination simply had not been enough.
Who on earth could have predicted that Ainz Ooal Gown was so powerful? Who could have known that such power existed in this world?
The familiar dived lower, so it was flying just over the heads of the retreating army.
The soul-wrenching scream echoed throughout the ranks, resounding over the Empire's Palace with astounding clarity.
The Imperial army had fallen into panic, their regimentation in tatters.
It was a disgraceful rout.
The knights had obviously been taught how to fall back in good order. However, they no longer had the luxury of adhering to such discipline. If it would let them leave that place one second faster, if they could move one step more in flight toward a safe place, they would push down their comrades in front of them with all their might and flee.
When shoved from behind, it was unavoidable that people would lose their balance and fall. And once they fell down, the panic-driven throng behind them would not give them the chance to rise.
The ones who fell would be trampled by the ones behind them.
Even if they wore metal armor, everyone else wore metal armor as well. They would be stamped into a single fused mass of metal and meat.
Scenes like this were happening everywhere.
The Imperial army's casualties were not caused by the enemy anymore, but by themselves, Jircniv noted. He watched as the Leviathan that had trampled over his forces now limited itself to move from one side to the other, 'persecuting' without actually reaching them.
"Gramps, what is…?" Jircniv started to speak before trailing off, frowning at the state Fluder was in.
The old eyes weren't open wide in fear. Rather, it was because he was mesmerized by the sight of overwhelming power, and had forgotten himself in his excitement.
For instance, normal people would flee when they saw a huge tornado sweeping in toward them. However, there were certain beings who admired the beauty of the tornado and stood still ─ even though they realized it would claim their lives.
Fluder belonged to the second category. Jircniv knew that very well, having known him for his whole life.
"Imperial Court Wizard, Fluder Paradyne!" Jircniv snapped at his parental figure, which seemed to work at least partially to wake up the older man "Do you recognize this creature? What do you know of this?"
"Indeed, there's no doubt, that creature is a leviathan. To be able to control it so perfectly, hahaha! An impressive feat of magic!"
Fluder seemed to find all this terribly entertaining, which ignited the sparks of uneasiness in Jircniv's heart.
Although his mentor was an excellent teacher worthy of respect, he became practically useless once the matter had to do with magic. It was extremely irritating when he acted that way.
"What kind of Leviathan is it?"
Fluder didn't seem to be listening anymore, watching with wide eyes at the projected scene. Jircniv realized that talking to him was a waste of time and instead turned towards one of the acolytes, Fluder's disciples.
"Do you−" Jircniv started to say, but was interrupted by a loud cry. It was a strange sound that one might expect from a strangled hen.
When they realized who had produced it, the hearts of everyone present, not just Jircniv's, were filled with terror. In fact, he felt as if they were daydreaming.
The one who had made that unusual sound was Fluder. The man who was said to be able to rival the Thirteen Heroes. A man like that was now with his eyes open wide in terror, his gaze fixed on the image that showed the battlefield.
"T-those are! I knew it! As an underground creature— hahahha! That man is sparing us! Is sparing the Empire!"
"What do you mean?!" Jircniv exclaimed completely exasperated, he needed Fluder to speak clearly, was that much to ask?
"In-Incredible! It is impossible! It's so dangerous! My dear Jir, can't you see the glowing sacs the creature has on its abdomen? If it so whished, smaller creatures would be born from them and completely murder all in their path! Like a swarm!"
Jircniv froze at the description given. Of course he had noticed the multiple, glowing dots that adorned the creature's abdomen, but he had thought that it was magic symbols of sorts.
To think that the massive creature had such a skill, it was enough to destroy an entire continent by itself.
The acolytes cried in terror, which made Fluder glare back at his disciples.
"Silence! It's not using them! Can't you see? He wishes for the Empire to survive at least!" Fluder muttered with a smile.
Jircniv fervently whished Fluder was right.
"I believe the original plan was that I would cast a spell upon the enemy, and begin the battle with the initial attack. Then, the Kingdom's army would follow up with a charge, but it would seem you have no intention to act." Ainz said calmly, looking at the retreating forces of the Re-estize Kingdom, who were slowly but surely abandoning the battlefield in order.
Gazef had nothing to say.
Ainz was right. The Kingdom had broken the terms of the agreement which they themselves had made with the King of their allied country.
However, one could not blame them for losing their nerve. Gazef would defend them even in front of his monarch, Rampossa III, because he knew the overwhelming terror which had gripped them.
"Ah, I have no intention of rebuking you. I understand you were concerned that if you launched an assault, there was a chance you may be trampled along with the enemy."
Ainz smiled in a matter that denoted he knew this wasn't the case, but chose to give it as a valid excuse either way before continuing with "Truthfully speaking, it's not like their participation is needed for this battle, so I don't mind their retreat. But since this goes against the signed agreement, I will expect more terrain than the one previously accorded."
Gazef wasn't in position to neither deny nor agree with that statement, so he remained wisely silent. Ainz didn't seem to have expected a response however, since he turned to address the elf girl.
"Some of them are crossing the line, so this battle should be over soon. Even so Mare, do not lower your guard."
"Yes, yes! Please leave it to me, Ainz-sama!"
"Aura, it seems your pets won't be needed this time around. It would be a pity not to use them however, so make them search for survivors on that collapsed structure. If they manage to find anyone, they are to be spared and brought to me; I'd like to ask them something."
"Understood!" the boy, Aura, exclaimed happily before whistling.
Even if Gazef couldn't see anything, he still perceived a change in his surroundings. Something was moving, but it was more like a gut feeling than anything, a warrior's instinct, so he couldn't even begin to attempt to pinpoint their location.
As of now, the only ones that weren't retreating, at least from the Kingdom's side, were Gazef and his men, as well as—
Even before he looked back, he knew who it was by the hoarseness of the voice. The familiar pair came running toward him, the warrior in pure white armor as well as the ex-mercenary, Climb and Brain.
Climb showed him a small smile for a short moment, before facing Ainz and bowing low.
"Your majesty, Ainz Ooal Gown-hekka! We were sent by Marquis Raeven, to inform that the Kingdom's troops had fallen back to a pre-secured location. Since this goes against our previous agreement, even though is still insufficient, please allow us to assist in any way we can."
Climb held the Kingdom's flag in his hand, looking quite determined, even if a little shaky. At a glance, Climb's body was shuddering, and his stiff, frozen expression betrayed the fact that he was not quaking in excitement or anticipation.
Gazef didn't fault him for feeling fear, and judging by Ainz' own expression, the monarch didn't either.
"I welcome you then, Kingdom's envoys. Although I don't require of your support, I will allow you to witness the end of the battle the Re-estize Kingdom has abandoned." Ainz said calmly. It was obvious by his phrasing that their country would have to compensate heavily for their retreat, but that was only to be expected.
As such, they watched in silence as the battle developed. Distant screams echoed over, and only this place was silent. It was as though this area was no longer part of the world.
But at last, after only a few more minutes, the last part of the Empire's forces finally crossed the magical line. As if on cue, the Leviathan halted, screeched triumphally to the air as if rejoicing and then—
Gazef's tensed and reached for his sword, before forcing himself to halt. Looking from the corner of his eyes at the people behind him, he hadn't been the only one to tense and prepare for battle.
The creature was now coming towards them, running at such speed that it ended up reaching them in nothing but a short moment.
That, more than anything previously said, cemented Ainz' words about how he was allowing the Empire to survive. Had it attacked with the speed it just displayed, not a single one of the Knights would have managed to survive.
Ainz stepped forward, and the Leviathan lowered its head until it touched the ground, as if it were a puppy awaiting praise.
"Good work Hades." the monarch said simply, patting the lowest part of the jaws— which was the only part of the man could reach— a couple of times.
"Thank you, Hadrian-sama." the Leviathan actually spoke, massive jaws opening in four different directions, which almost gave him a heart attack.
It's intelligent enough to speak?!
"You may return now. I'm quite confident they won't be trying anything upon our retreat." Ainz said lightly, to which the huge creature nodded.
After that, the leviathan used its centipede legs to cave the ground under its feet, burrowing in just a matter of seconds. Even for something of its size, it didn't take but a blink for it to completely disappear underground.
It was only once it disappeared that Ainz turned his emerald gaze towards the defeated, now definitely much smaller, Imperial army.
"Sonorus." Ainz muttered, placing a finger over his throat as he had done at the beginning of the battle "Since the remaining force has made use of my offer, I will assume they have surrendered. The battle has now officially ended. However, I have one last message to give."
Ainz looked up at the sky, and it was only due to this action that Gazef noticed there was a bird flying just over their heads.
"The Re-estize Kingdom is my nation's ally, and as such, they count with my support for national conflicts. Take this in consideration when thinking about issuing next year's war declaration."
The Magic Caster actually smirked at the end of that phrase, before firing a spell at the sky. Gazef found strange the action until the small bird that had been flying fell to the ground with a soft, unassuming thud.
"That should be enough. Well then, please deliver a message for me." Ainz said turning to face Gazef "I shall request an audience with the King Rampossa III to modify our previous agreement. I will send an emissary for this action in the next 15 days, and they will need to stay on your nation for as long as required, so I'll trouble you with their accommodations."
Gazef steeled his posture and bowed in understanding. After the shameful retreat of the Kingdom's forces, this was all he could do.
"As for... Marquis Raeven's emissaries," Ainz turned towards Climb and Brain, with only a small pause on his addressing "do let him know that I don't fault him for the Kingdom's retreat, and that it will be properly addressed with the King directly."
Gazef smiled bitterly. It was like saying that the mistake was so big it couldn't be solved by speaking with the perpetrator, so it would escalate directly to their superior. The way it was phrased made it sound more kind than what it actually was.
Climb tensed and bowed in understanding, simply muttering "It shall be done." steely. Brain mimicked that bow, but chose to remain silent.
There was nothing else they could do but accept Ainz' requests. After all, no one in their right minds would go against him.
…Whatever he was, since regardless of his disguise, he clearly wasn't human.
Jesus Crist, these chapters regarding War have 14.7K words = 37 GODDAMN PAGES in word. That's right, that's how many pages you just read in a go, you crazy bastards! Hope your time was well-wasted xD
Aaaand just like that, Volume 10 has ended. Next chapter will start to cover the new country under Harry's rule, the meeting with Fluder, James' back story and the start of a new original arc. But man don't expect it to come out anytime soon, this one was so bloody long, I really am not sure how many hours took me to come up with this, but no way in hell I'm going through that again so soon.
On another note, I've just started a new story named "Raid Boss" here in this site, same X-over section. I hereby invite you to take a look~
Well, thanks for reading and hope you liked it!
I'll be trying to publish a new chapter on my three stories at the same time, so if you're reading this one I invite you to take a look to the other 2 as well. Happy reading!