We run, the ground trembling at our feet!! Everyone is running!! We don’t care about our sides or back anymore!!
Throw away all thoughts aside from the front!! We are hungry beasts! Dogs with an empty stomach, or an eagle that has found its prey!
We become exactly that!
“Zephyr! SIIIIIING!!” (Solje)
My beloved Zephyr sings instead of a battle trumpet! The dragon song shakes the sky, and our legs make the ground rumble.
Let’s crush our enemies with our strength!!
Having charged head first, I was the one who drew the first blood. Thanks for the sinful honor, nameless youngster of the Empire.
My dragon longsword digs into his scared flesh, cutting the iron armor. This blade made of Ares’s horn shows the usual cruelty. Slicing through muscle and bones, one of his lungs must have been punctured as he drowned in blood.
It is okay. It is a terrible wound with fatal blood loss. It will only take a few seconds to lose consciousness. Entertain my ears with a nice cry.
Releasing air from his one remaining lung, the youngster wailed. Nice voice. Welcome to Zakuroa…and goodbye.
“S-Stay away!! P-Please don’t!!”
“When will you guys understand? A Demon Lord is not someone you pray to.” (Solje)
“I-I don’t want to dieeee!!”
He swings his sword with a panicked expression. That desperation tickles my emotions. But not to the point that I want to hear his name. I hit his sword and sent it flying, and then cut his neck as my blade returns. Just a little cut is fine.
I don’t have much stamina remaining after all. I will rely on my technique to slack, okay? But don’t worry, a life is really delicate. Truly fleeting. Just by cutting off an artery, a fountain of blood will dye the sky, and bring you eternal sleep.
“D-Daamn it! W-Why won’t you die?!”
“Because there’s still enemies.” (Solje)
Once my enemies disappear from the face of the planet, I will drink in that night all the way, and I wouldn’t mind dying right after.
But that’s just not gonna happen anytime soon, so…I am going to be a Strauss today as well!!
“Die, imperial pigs!!” (Solje)
Baring my fangs like a dragon, my carnivorous soul explodes! Become the lunch of the Strauss household that loves meat. Aah, we don’t eat human flesh. It goes against the knight’s code. We are okay with just the sensation and smell.
I feel with my fingers the moment when their life is destroyed. Crushing the body of my enemies and taking away their lives is an honor. It is a moment that makes me feel glad to have been born as a person, no, a beast?
We who have fangs as well are also a type of beast.
Our instincts are freed in the battlefield. Showing our true slaughterer face that we were born with through our polished technique.
“Loroka-neesama!! I will back you up!” (Riel)
“Yes, Riel! Let’s butcher the enemies of Captain!!” (Loroka)
“Follow us, Mia!!” (Riel)
“Gotcha! The female team will murder the enemies!!” (Mia)
The laughing Riel’s arrow pierces the head of an enemy, and Loroka’s spear punches right through another. Mia’s knife and slingshot’s iron balls were destroying the vital points of the enemies.
I have heard that women would always form groups. Sounds like that will bring stability to the Banjar Mercenaries.
It makes me want to watch the beautiful slaughter of the women forever. I feel like these women can show a slaughtering side that men don’t have. That really gets my heart. It makes me pity their enemies. Also, it makes me want to love them. Sorry about it, I am an honest man!
Jean bit an enemy and swung them around, then threw them onto a group of enemies. It is a simple, but good technique in the battlefield. He is using the bitten to death enemies as weapons. If a man with full armor equipped were to fly towards someone…the victims of that weight won’t be escaping unscathed.
“I-I am a bit tired already, but even I can use a spear!!” (Gindo)
Gindo seemed to be completely exhausted already, but he was swinging around a spear he stole from an enemy, and continued his killing with decent spearmanship. He has low stamina, but his reflex is good.
A trait of half-elves. They have low stamina, but their quick-wittedness is a sight to behold. The spearmanship that Gandalla taught him is helping him out as an excellent weapon. He doesn’t have the overwhelming power like Loroka, but he will most likely begin calling lightning again once his mana recovers.
Our charge doesn’t stop. That’s my Banjar Mercenaries for you. Even when rampaging individually, we sometimes meet gazes, and that makes me happy.
It makes me feel our bond.
Even in this space where we are rampaging like a storm, and a downpour of clashing blades form, I don’t feel lonely at all. I even feel safe as if I were on my own turf. That’s just the kind of carnivores we are. Smiling with our fangs bare.
Screams and laughs mix. The death cries were varied. People calling their mother, calling their lovers, people holding grudges against me who killed them; a variety of songs were flowing out from their destroyed bodies.
…As if I care.
Don’t go throwing cold water at my happiness. If you still have strength remaining in your lungs, come at me and show me your hate!! Do you even have the drive to survive?! Weaklings that are all bark and no bite don’t even have the qualification to stand in front of me!!
My anger accelerates my killing intent. My sword becomes a storm, hits the meat of the imperial soldiers, and crushes them. Breaking their bones, and staining the ground. They will most likely die from being stomped by the iron shoes of someone in the back. You weaklings that aren’t even worth being finished by me.
Right now I have to prioritize destroying more numbers than mercy!!
“Push and kill!!” (Solje)
I took a step while smiting someone, and at that moment when I had sent one more swordsman flying…that swordsman’s body was crushed under the feet of a dragon. Fumu, nice, Zephyr!!
“Burn, roast, I will cook you good, pigs! Meal time!!” (Zephyr)
The words of Zephyr were no threat, he was simply announcing the truth. Our cute dragon blows a charming blaze from his big mouth, and burns them to death. Faris roasted pork.
“No escaping!” (Zephyr)
Biting the back of a man that avoided the fire and tried to escape, he swings him up from the head, and crunches him dead in the air. Zephyr just eats his back and throws away the rest.
Is that the most tasty part? He seems happy. That’s why I also shared that happiness in his heart and smile.
“You are the best, Zephyr!!” (Solje)
“D-Don’t laugh, y-you damn demon!!”
Oi oi, damn demon, he says? …That’s a fresh insult. Not really shocking though. It feels as if my heart had found a new exciting thing.
Damn demon? Umu, good phrase!
“Die, Solje Strauss!!”
That brave big man swings down his longsword. I stop it with my dragon longsword.
Sparks fly out. His longsword is quite the great one. The technique of this man is also splendid. I can feel the amount of training he has done.
A man worth killing.
“Stopping me w-with one arm?!”
“State your name. I feel like learning a bit about you.” (Solje)
“I-I have no name to tell a monster like y-yo—”
“I see. Fine. I wasn’t that interested myself.” (Solje)
If you are going to play like that, then that’s fine. There’s no need to know about you anyways.
I place my left hand on his face and mutter in a low voice Fire.
I don’t have much mana left, so I have to release fire directly into places like their nose and mouth to kill them.
He drowns in fire. This is a present for the guy that had created a new insult.
You don’t have experience in having your lungs burn from the inside, right? Aah, looks like Zephyr has also taken an interest in you. Seems like he wants to know just what kind of effect will my cooking have in your meat.
My boy looks down at you as you look up with fear. Sorry about that, I will be leaving you now. Got other things to do, people to kill. Aah, don’t make those eyes, I can’t do anything for you. I am busy killing your friends.
*Crunch! Crunch! Crunch!*
I hear the sound of Zephyr eating you from behind me. A dragon that has just shedded is extremely hungry, you know.
Three people were running towards me in a team, and I jumped and released a Severing Gale at them. The wind that brings about death freely wounds them deeply, and invites them to eternal sleep. My lack of armor really is helping out in my speed.
Well, I say that, but it is tiring. Even so, I ain’t stopping! I have already decided that I am rushing all the way through in this battlefield… I glare at my next prey. But he stood in front of me.
“Hahahahahaha!! Nice arm you got there, Solje Strauss!!”
“Vashiri-jiisama? Stealing my prey?” (Solje)
“That’s right. Watch our ability!!” (Vashiri)
Vashiri-jiisama strikes the trunk of the knight while laughing. Even when the knight was severely injured, he swung his sword. But the sword didn’t hurt the body of the undead knight, and simply passed through.
“Old man, attacks don’t work on you?” (Solje)
“It seems so. Blades pass through my body, and we can hurt them with ours. It is quite the one-sided thing.” (Vashiri)
I see. It is different from the time when they were rotting zombies after all. It also seemed like he could talk with the others aside from me. That spirit form of theirs really has cheat-like power. Ain’t that invincible then? But I don’t think it is all positive…
“Your presence is thinner than before…” (Solje)
“Yeah, the invincible magic is not eternal. The Authority of Arianrhod will be running out of juice soon. We have to drag as many to hell as we can before that!! Freedom Knights!!” (Vashiri)
The unwavering trust even in death answered the words of the great Vashiri Nova. The undead knights tear apart the enemies as they run, and they begin to gather around Vashiri-jiisama.
“Now then, Solje Strauss…” (Vashiri)
“…Is it time?” (Solje)
“Yeah, we will change our remaining time into power, and reduce their numbers. Goodbye, make the best use of our last storm, okay?” (Vashiri)
“…Yeah, I will.” (Solje)
“Good!! …So long, people of Zakuroa!! Etch our gallant figure in your hearts! Being forgotten would be sad!!” (Vashiri)
Yeah, we will remember you, Vashiri Nova.
Also, your brave knights as well.
I won’t forget you guys. When the time comes for me to die and become a star that shines by your sides, let’s have a banquet once more. We really match well. We should exchange drinks again.
“Let our swords become wind once more!!” (Vashiri)
I see, wind magic sword, huh. It really fits you Freedom Knights!!
The lovers, close friends, aloof beauty, pals, and hearty man…the friends that I shared drinks with that day in the fortress transform into wind.
The knights that had turned into a gale cut down the enemy lines, and rushed through the battlefield. The enemy soldiers had no means to stop the charge of this mysterious force. Every single one having their flesh torn by the slashes of this wind, or blown away by the sheer force.
The blood mist dyeing the sky, several hundreds…no, even more than that were sent to the ground by them. The formation of the imperial army’s 5th division completely crumbled at this moment.
However, just like the lives of the imperial soldiers being extinguished by this mysterious gale, the presence of the brave warriors of Zakuroa were also disappearing at the end of the red snow field.
Their laughs and fiery roars slowly fading away, that gale now spreading out as if entrusting this wind to their surroundings…
There’s things you can notice without the need for logic, and this ‘farewell’ was one of them. This time for sure, we won’t be meeting again while alive. The sound of blades clashing waned…as if the peace they wished for had come. There’s times when silence can become a song.
Goodbye, my friends.
The next time we meet will be in Hades.
With this mysterious wind pushing my back, I once again roar!
“Leave the rest to us the living!!” (Solje)
I rush onwards to fulfill their wish. It was as if their wills were filling my legs with strength!!
The last spurt!! The enemies react to my solo charge. They drag their injured bodies, used their swords as substitute canes to stand up, and rush towards me!!
Nice! You guys will fulfill your roles as my enemies, and cement your meaning in life!! I am also desperate here, you know. I swing my sword left and right while roaring, and ignore the counter attacks that I receive from here and there.
It hurts, but I pay it no mind!
My cheek got cut and I was receiving head spinning slashes from everywhere. The veins in the head are at thin places, so I end up bleeding easily. But brush it off!
I ran! Cut! Punched! Slammed!! Just go as forward as forward goes!!
This air hole that my friends created…this blank space that was born in the center of the 5th division!! It is my duty to cross it!!
I tore off the spear soldier that stood in front of me with a single swing, and then stepped on!!
Just as I was about to reach my destination…
Brave warriors began making a wall to protect that person! Then, I will offer my magic sword to you guys as well!!
The surging fire of Ares covers my dragon longsword. The enemy trembles in fear at the sight of it. Even with that, they are not running away, huh. Good, that’s how it should be! Did you know they had that much loyalty for you, Zack Claine?!
“P-Protect the General!!”
The soldiers gather in my path and become a meat wall. An old voice shouted ‘Stop!’. Is he talking about me? Or about them? …Well, I won’t be the one stopping that’s for sure, and neither will they.
I use even more mana and raise the fiery blaze as well as my bloodlust!!
“I am moved by your loyalty!! But I have my own duty to fulfill!!” (Solje)
The soldiers scream. Witnessing the whirling fire on the dragon longsword, human instinct will link it to death, and will push them to escape.
Even with that, they don’t run away.
Nice courage. I will remember you guys!! When I take a drink of my alcohol tonight, I will raise a cheer for your courage for sure.
That’s why, at least die in peace.
You will definitely become good pals with my friends in the afterlife. They are a cheerful bunch, even if you die in foreign lands, your souls won’t be lonely.
I believe this is mercy.
I release all of my mana and place it in this one swing!!
“Magic Sword!! [BURST ZAPPEEEER]!!” (Solje)
The slash clad in blazing fire hits the ground together with a song!
After an instant, the ground explodes!!
The blast of burning fire cuts the soldiers and roasts them!! A big hole was created on the ground, and around 10 or so imperial soldiers became scraps of meat as they fell.
The burned blood is giving out a black scent today as well.
I am on the verge of utilizing all of my stamina and mana, but I will continue to advance. I already said it, this path that my friends have opened…I have to be the one running through it.
And then, I find his figure in between the corpses of the soldiers. My mouth warps. I don’t know where it is coming from, but I can feel the taste of blood on my tongue.
Right, I finally arrived…
“…I have come all the way here, Zack Claine… How was our strength?” (Solje)
Was there enough power to destroy this crazy world…intelligent general?
- Chapter 128
The subordinates of Claine were competent. The battle proficiency was average in terms of imperial soldier standards.
But the polished to the extreme organization philosophy, their willingness to cover for each other, together with the strength of believing in the strongest General, Zack Claine, gave birth to an unbreakable order.
It was perfect.
You guys that were far weaker than me were able to protect your General from the Burst Zapper and died for it. You showed that you could protect your respected leader by becoming a meat shield.
You have shown me how you have lived. You learned a lot from this old man, and have left this plane as great warriors.
Even if General Claine himself didn’t wish for such a conclusion…that action of yours to go as far as protecting someone even at the cost of your life is incredibly noble. It resembles Claine pretty well.
“Ugh…Damn it…!!” (Claine)
The General groaned as he moved away the soldiers that were covering his body.
“Don’t push yourself too much. Even if it wasn’t a direct hit, you did get injured by my magic sword. There’s no way you are fine.” (Solje)
This was intended as advice. I don’t plan on bringing unnecessary pain. I respect you.
But this stubborn old man was forcefully moving his body. The blood in his injured lungs were coming out from his mouth and staining his white beard as he desperately continues to breath from his mouth. Even so, he was carefully moving away the bodies of the people that died protecting him.
Giving him a hand…might be rude. He is still my enemy after all.
I simply watch over it, with my blue and golden eyes.
Zack Claine was dirtying his white armor with the blood of his subordinates, and even when he had to push himself up with his arms, he continued standing back up. His body was swaying. He is an old man after all. Also—?!!
The General looked at me being considerate, and unsheathed his sword. I stopped my thinking and brought out my killing intent.
“…You wanna fight?” (Solje)
“…That would make it easier for you, right? Rather than a tired old man, it would be better for it to be a man directing a sword at you—cough! Cough!! …It is easier to kill.” (Claine)
“It is rare for your opinion to be wrong. I like men that direct their swords at me. If it is a woman, I like them even more. It makes me want to have children with them.” (Solje)
“…That’s one special set of values.” (Claine)
“Well, I wasn’t raised in a normal household.” (Solje)
‘Die and become a song’, is the special phrase that I was always told by my mother before I even had any cognition. Maybe because of that, the Strauss nature seeped deep into my soul. It probably won’t be changing in a lifetime.
I really do love strong people, you know?
Also, strong spirited people that try to resist their situation.
Zack Claine swings his sword at me while swaying. I purposely take that hit with my dragon longsword.
I could have deflected it, no, I could have thrown away the very idea of defending and went directly for his life.
But that would be boring. He is an enemy I want to speak to. However, an old man with not much time left is an impatient one. Today as well. Glaring at me with his black eyes, the old veteran speaks.
“…Solje Strauss…! Cut my head off at once…!” (Claine)
“Yeah, I know. I have to finish this war already. You really are kind. You allowed your soldiers to escape from battle in the face of your enemies.” (Solje)
I look east. There’s a group of soldiers that have thrown away their weapons and are running away with everything they had with ragged breaths. Quite the numbers too.
When was the first one that began to run away? ..Claine didn’t order the death of that person that was swallowed by fear.
That’s why…as if following that one first person, the amount of escaping soldiers began to spread.
It is a losing war after all…
If they stay like this, they will simply be killed by the Freedom Alliance.
“Umu, it is fine for them to run away… The war is over.” (Claine)
The victor has already been decided.
The 5th division endured well. The long expedition to the north, and their first war against the 1,000 undead knights, the many tactics of Loroka…even when tossed around by them, they managed to maintain their formation, and slowly pushed us back.
The deciding move of the battle?
Rather than calling it a strategy, it was more like cheating… It was thanks to the Possession Crystal. If not for that, it would have been a more tragic conclusion. We would have been wiped out, the 5th division would be on the verge of destruction…and then, the Ludo Kingdom’s army would march north under the orders of Queen Claris, and the remnant soldiers of the 5th division would have been eliminated.
The other imperial army divisions might have attacked the exhausted Ludo Kingdom.
It would have been the scenario that would have shed the most blood.
We were able to avoid that by using the cheat that Mistral gave us.
We lost close to 4,000 soldiers, but the 5th division lost more than 20,000 soldiers with this war alone. Solely in terms of numbers, it would have been a big victory. However, for us who have a poor army, those numbers can prove fatal…
Since when did we devour 20,000, you ask?
…In the first place, the back half of 15,000 were made up of injured soldiers. The soldiers that must have been injured in the war against the 1,000 undead knights. General Claine didn’t plan on putting them in the frontlines.
And so, in the last charge, the elites that we broke through were the last fighting force of this army. With that crumbled, and on top of that, being cut open by the Wind Formation of Vashiri Nova and his group…the body and heart of the imperial soldiers went down to pieces.
…The human instinct activated.
Once you understand you can’t win, there’s only escape. Their core that is their philosophy ‘maintain formation’, ‘coordinate with each other’ had crumbled.
They became weak and confused ‘food’. That’s why it simply fell in chain. We were higher in quality over here to begin with. Our motivation was on a different level, too.
…In the first place, the imperial soldiers don’t have any sense of duty that would bring them to the point of dying for the war. It is different from us who would perish if we don’t fight back. We have no choice but to fight to the death.
They have the choice of running.
Even now the escape of soldiers continued to spread, and the falling ranks were being hit by the Freedom Alliance army. This is not the time for war anymore. It has turned into the time for slaughter.
That’s why we were able to kill 20,000 in such a short span of time.
“…The seeds of fear that Loroka diligently spread in her many tactics finally bore fruit.” (Solje)
“…Yeah, they were small and spread, but they were effective. Those were some finely constructed tactics. The fake dragons and the fake unicorns. By mixing those, you were able to place your powerful forces in different phases and pour them out…” (Claine)
“You saw through most of our plans, huh.” (Solje)
“I am not old just for show. Experience comes with it…” (Claine)
“How fearsome.” (Solje)
“Fear… Right, the core of your strategy was fear…” (Claine)
Claine is the type that turns his gears while speaking, huh. The talk of intelligent people tends to be long after all.
“Yeah, that’s how it is. The one who scares the other side wins!!” (Solje)
“In that sense, you guys…especially you, were filled with surprises.” (Claine)
“That’s delightful. I am being praised by the strongest general…or so I say, but without the Possession Crystal, this wouldn’t have happened.” (Solje)
“Bringing fortune in war, as well as obtaining the tools to use…” (Claine)
“Yeah, it is also part of the warrior’s ability.” (Solje)
That’s right, we won with our ‘ability’. I have no issues with that way of seeing it.
“…It is our win. This won’t change the result.” (Solje)
“Yeah…that’s why I am accompanying you in this farce here.” (Claine)
“A duel farce.” (Solje)
Acting as if we are having a duel. A one-on-one between generals. It is one of the last stages in the battlefield.
This is a symbolic action. That’s why Claine is directing his sword at me. He complains while clashing swords with me.
“…Anything more is pointless!! Just cut off my head and raise it!! Proclaim victory already, please!! …The fighting is still continuing. The resistance of the honest and loyal soldiers should disappear with that!!” (Claine)
There are indeed people who just can’t give up in the battlefield. Unable to admit defeat, they fight till their fire burns out, and will increase the death count… Especially the Assassin Knights. They are most likely still fighting.
That’s why there’s the need for a ‘trophy’. Raising the head of Claine would make them realize it. There’s no item as effective as his head to show the end of the war.
That’s why I didn’t kill him last night.
It is the head of a charismatic figure, you know? If the head of someone like that were to fall in the middle of the war, the hearts of the soldiers would also crumble along. It would most likely be effective on the Assassin Knights that Claine selected.
It might anger them, but it will certainly raise confusion. That would make them easy to kill.
If we had killed Claine last night…the substitute would have taken his place. The philosophy of this organization is minute after all. They would move on the decisions of this substitute general, and they would have been able to replicate Claine to the end of the war.
But that would still be a fake. Their head would have no worth. In order to break the hearts of the army, only the true general’s death would have worked.
That’s right, if I cut off the head of this old veteran at this very moment, the war will end.
It would break the burning loyal soldiers. It would also reduce the deaths of our soldiers that have to deal with those obstinate ones. It is the humane thing to do, don’t you think?
We both understood this last night.
‘I don’t want to pointlessly exhaust the lives of the soldiers’…in that sense, we sympathize with each other. That’s why we formed a silent pact while exchanging a drink of that red wine.
If we win, we will use his head to make the soldiers surrender, and stop the pointless killing.
On the other hand, if we lost… I noticed that he doesn’t like pointless slaughter, so I didn’t kill him that night.
It wasn’t a bad pact. No matter who won, we would save as many of the other side’s comrades…
Now then…it is about time for the ceremony.
Zack Claine noticed the change in my aura.
His last words begin.
“…Solje Strauss, you showed me your ‘strength’. The strength of overwhelming fear that destroys even numbers. If it is that strength…I am sure…you will be able to change the world.” (Claine)
“I have acknowledged your strength…therefore, you must know…” (Claine)
“…Sacrificing the few to save the many… If you don’t, the fires of war you will be bringing will also bring about the deaths of many…” (Claine)
“…Maybe. There’s no doubt that I am not as passionate as you in reducing the deaths.” (Solje)
You even worried about your own enemies. You hated the very idea of dying in war. I without a doubt don’t go as far.
“I want to believe in your justice.” (Claine)
“The talk about a forest where everyone can play together?” (Solje)
“That’s right. It is idealistic, but…that makes it more wonderful, don’t you think, Demon Lord-kun?” (Claine)
I knew it would also resonate in your heart that hates killing.
Kukuku, this was truly a journey of many splendid meetings. If it had been in different circumstances, if you had the time, I would have invited you to join us…
“…You were thinking of something fun, weren’t you? Even though you are about to cut my head off, you are smiling.” (Claine)
“…Yeah, I was thinking about a splendid if.” (Solje)
“I see. I will pretend I didn’t hear that. The stories you tell are always alluring after all.” (Claine)
“It would become a lingering regret?” (Solje)
“Might be. That’s why…now, show me your mercy. And…begin walking the path of a true hero.” (Claine)
You sound like a teacher. No, in a sense, you are.
Yeah, I will devour you, and become an even better man, Zack Claine…
“…It is farewell time, General-dono. Let’s share a drink again in the afterlife when the day comes.” (Solje)
“Yeah, Demon Lord-dono.” (Claine)
And so, the sword falls…