Chapter 217 – 91 Gaw: Meanwhile
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War is many things. The glorious call to arms, the valiance of battle, the chance for those with potential to reach out and grasp their power… [Bards] wax poetic of the brave [Generals] leading their loyal men into battle for honor, for justice, for a higher purpose. [Historians] read of corrupt dynasties falling and mighty [Kings] fighting to take their rightful place on the throne. [Soldiers] march through cities in rank and file, standing at the ready, filling the eyes of young men with such wonder. The beauty of battle, the truest drive, the truest purpose, immortalized in the hearts of the masses.

The toll is rarely mentioned.

Nor the bodies.

Nor the smell.

Three hundred thousand [Slave Soldiers], [Gladiators], and [Mercenaries] march from the east. Sixty thousand [Soldiers], [Paladins], [War-Priests], [Mages], and [Inquisitors] march to meet them. The unstoppable tide of the Olympian army rushes forward, an inexorable juggernaut that threatens to drown any fighting force through sheer weight of numbers, and the Aesir do not break. [Knights] cut swathes through weak bodies, spells toss and burn screaming men, arrows pierce the necks of boys no older than fourteen. Screaming, hoping, begging, the [Slaves] throw themselves at the impenetrable force, spurred on by uncaring [Overseer Captains], and they pray for reprieve.

The gods aren’t even watching.

When they can’t run forward, they crawl. When they are stabbed, they stab back. They hack and claw and bite and crawl to push the [Soldiers] back one more inch, to wrest from their killers one more ounce of flesh, and the ground is churned red with their blood. All for nought. The [Slave Soldiers] are hopelessly outclassed and when their bodies pile high, the [Soldiers] form a redoubt on top. [Paladins] and [Inquisitors] rove though the [Slave Soldiers]’ ranks, impervious to attack, reaving the lives of the [Overseers]. Only the high level [Gladiators] and [Mercenaries] stand a chance, but they are too few and far between.

“Damn it, are they here yet?” [General] Everest asks his [Captains], but they all shake their heads. Everest shifts his concentration back to the fighting. He is a [General], recently risen from a [Strategist], not a [Slave General] who built his command on the suffering of his soldiers. His aura protects the troops from the enemy, not that it matters much. His army is getting slaughtered wholesale.

It is a hopeless situation, one from which any other [General] would have retreated.

But Everest can't. [Grand Strategist] Abba ordered him to hold the enemy in place until reinforcements arrive. That was an hour ago, and he’ll sacrifice any number of [Slaves] to hold that damn line.

“[General]!” he hears someone call out. He turns around. A heavily breathing [Lieutenant] with sweat trickling down his brow smiles as he skids to a stop. “They’re here!” he cries.

___________________________________________________________

The carnage wears on with the clang of metal and the squelch of flesh as men do bloody battle with men. A dozen [Slave Soldiers] gang up on a lone [Paladin] equipped with a shield and sword. They strike him with axe and spear, but the [Paladin] ignores them, allowing their futile efforts to break upon his enchanted plate armor. Marching forward, he bashes a [Slave Soldier] across the face with his shield, shattering bone and sending the man flying. Without pause, his longsword flashes out, eviscerating another slave and ripping into the leg of a third. The brutality with which he dispatches his foes causes the other [Slave Soldiers] to back away.

The tired [Paladin] snorts at the cowards. He takes the moment to touch his chest with his shield-arm. “[Lay on Hands],” he calls out, his class's signature skill. His body glows as holy energy enters him, healing the wounds all across his body. With his cuts and bruises gone, the [Paladin] smiles beneath his helmet and prepares to engage.

“Move aside!”

The [Slave Soldiers] part, allowing an armored, muscled man to enter the fray. He holds a hand axe with one hand and a spiked shield in the other.

“You’re mine,” the [Gladiator] states. He flips his axe and its blade glows white, freezing the air around it. It is an enchanted weapon, one that could actually break the [Paladin]’s superlative armor.

The [Paladin] takes a stance and readies for an actual fight. [Gladiators] are one of the few classes that can fight one on one with an opponent above their level. They’re not so fierce as a duelist, but still close enough to be a threat.

The [Gladiator] grins fiercely before sprinting forward. He takes four steps.

The [Paladin] braces, then he feels a weight on his head that pushes him down, then… nothing.

The [Gladiator] slides to a stop before the dust cloud in front of him, his eyes wide in shock. The dust clears and the once proud [Paladin] has transformed into a smear in the bottom of a small crater. In his place, a young woman stands up, her boots coated in the [Paladin]’s blood. She wields a simple short spear and a glinting apsis, wears the aforementioned boots, brief underwear, a swath across her chest, and nothing else on her small, toned body.

She looks down, gives one foot an experimental shake, and frowns at the blood on her boots.

“Yo-you’re an amazon,” the [Gladiator] walks forward, amazed, impressed, and more than a little horny.

The Amazon ignores him.

“Hey, do you hear me?” he asks, still walking forward.

She continues to ignore him.

“Look, you don't have to be a bit-” his head explodes with a clap of thunder.The Amazon retracts her spear and gives it a flick to remove the blood and brains.

“Do not get close,” she tells the decapitated corpse. The terrified [Slave Soldiers] widen their circle even more. The Amazon turns away from them and starts walking towards the enemy, perfectly poised, beautifully deadly.

She walks alone across the no-man’s land toward that redoubt of blood and bodies. The Aesir tremble to see her, for they know the threat she brings. [Mages] focus their casting, raise their hands and start their chanting. A massive [Fireball] blazes to life, twenty times bigger than the siege version of the same spell, lighting up the battlefield brighter than the day. The Amazon advances, undaunted, her shadow long behind her. She faces the baleful glare of the light with an expression of unconcern.

The [Mages] only pause for a moment before launching their spell. The spell lands perfectly upon her. Then it explodes, turning two acres of land into a blazing inferno. The earth is upheaved while smoke and ash pour into the sky.

“Is she dead?” one of the [Mages] asks.

“Probably,” another answers.

“Maybe we shouldn’t have wasted so much mana,” a third grumbles.

The [Mages] were told to watch for scantily clad women on the battlefield, and if spotted, to treat them as highest priority threats.

But, they were never told why.

Oh, they know the rumors of the Amazons’ strength and prowess. They’ve heard the Amazons supposedly have dozens of potent bloodlines. Bloodlines that improve stats, bloodlines that grant skills, bloodlines that unlock other bloodlines. All manner of boons are encoded within their genes, and the matriarchs are rumored to have hundreds of them.

But, to the Amazons, only one bloodline truly matters, a single bloodline that allows their greatest warriors to threaten the strongest in the world. A bloodline so strong and potent, that if it is never unlocked, then the Amazon is forever banished.

The bloodline of [Magic Eater].

The Amazon swipes her spear and with a shock of wrent air, the cloud around her instantly disperses. She walks forward naked and barefoot across the sintered land. Yet her spear is bright, her body unblemished, her hair still golden. She strides unfazed across the scorched earth, an incongruous vision of beauty and death.

“Impossible,” the highest level [Mage] exclaims.

Abruptly, the Amazon stops walking. She leans forward and bends her legs.

Then she lunges…

… and notifies both armies that the Amazons have joined the battle.

_____________________________________________________

“I’ll admit,” the [Archdemon General] rumbles quietly while the ground around him crackles with fire, “you bats have grown stronger since we last met.”

The monstrous demon stands twelve feet tall. Its red, glowing eyes stare down at the enemies before him. Worthy enemies, the Balor concedes. His swarm of lesser demons, like Dretch, Babau, and Nabasu, lie around him, dead or dying. He’d sent them, it seems, to their deaths, but not without cost. Most of Alucard’s spawn have died as well.

At his words, the [Coven Heads], in grotesque, bloody, abominable forms, look at him warily. They are powerful, each one of them in their third tier class and possessed of enough experience to rival even the oldest demons. With their ability to heal from nearby corpses, even a single head could take on an army indefinitely.

“But you still carry that weakness,” he continues and glances at the sky. The dark clouds have cleared enough to allow light to shine down. Even those attenuated rays are enough to gravely weaken the Coven.

With the halberd in his hand, he raises the corpse of a [Coven Head]. A certain Damien, if he remembers correctly. The man injured him, though it cost him his life. Even now, the fresh scar on Baldur's chest stings from the wound.

“Why must we die? We can serve the demons and join forces together.” Serafino, one of the Coven’s leaders, pleads, but the Balor shakes his head.

“I would like to,” he says with a stretch of his mighty wings. “You are powerful and would strengthen our army,” he swings his halberd and tosses the corpse at the Coven’s feet. The demonic weapon glints with deadly magic, the air ripples with the heat of its passing, “but Belial has ordered your deaths.”

“Our people can serve her,” another [Coven Head] begs, a quite pleasing female named Victoria if he remembers correctly.

“Oh yes, your species will be [Demon Archqueen] Belial’s thralls,” he tightens his grip on his halberd, ”but you four must die.”

“Why?” they ask again, but the demon has run out of courtesy to offer. He flourishes his halberd and surrounds himself with flame. With a mighty leap and a beat of his wings, he accelerates towards them. They scramble to dodge, but he pumps mana into his halberd, and then slashes. Hellfire explodes outward, burning everything for hundreds of meters to ash. He can hear them scream, unable to dodge such a wide area attack, but he knows that it’s not enough.

With a flick of his halberd, he intercepts a glowing greatsword of blood aimed for his throat by the one named Lenora. Without wasting movement, his hoof kicks out and strikes her in the chest. He feels her bones break as she flies away. He doesn't pursue her. Instead, he leans and dodges Kieran’s bloody scythe while intercepting Serafino’s Battleaxe with his halberd.

The last member, Victoria, descends from the sky with a spear.

The [Archdemon General] who, fought in the demon wars so long ago, smiles. He tilts his head. The spear strikes horn, and horn endures. Victoria is surprised when her spear is caught. He spreads his wings and blows the rats away, then twists his head and disarms Victoria. He stabs upward and impales her chest.

She screams and burns as the Balor pumps hellfire directly into her body.

After a few seconds, the body stops screaming and goes limp.

The Balor lowers the corpse. His eyes glisten with power. He feels himself level. Then he turns to the last three. They fear him, even though they are technically his equal. But, their weakness is crippling. Even now, the pale sunbeams sap their strength rendering them easy prey.

They look at each other, thinking, speaking without words. Then, as one, they turn and run.

The Balor frowns at the prey. He would chase, but speed is not his forte. They most assuredly are faster than him.

With a snort, he flaps his wings and turns back with the remnants of his army. He will need more troops before he can continue.

___________________________________________________________

Adam is not sure how he should feel right now. He’s sitting at a table with the Panoptic, a bunch of [Archdemon Generals] and their [Queen], Belial. The varied forms of the assembled demons are a surreal sight. The Balor are all large, muscular, and covered in natural plate armor. The Marilith look like snakes with arms. The Umbron are floating shadows with claws. The Nosferatu are monstrous humanoids covered in writhing blood. There are many more demons, all of alien form, except for the [Queen]. Succubi are, for the most part, very human once you look past the horns, hoofed feet, long tail, and red skin.

It probably doesn't help that he’s very attracted to them, especially the [Queen].

Who, at that moment, looks at him. She licks her lips… and he instantly feels pure pleasure travel down his spine. A single motion of her lips, and Adam feels his blood flowing to his organ.

Then, the Panoptic taps the table, and his arousal instantly stops.

“Belial, Adam is under my protection. Do not charm him.”

Adam looks to the Panoptic… a mature woman. He can't believe that the old, shriveled crone he saw before is now a middle aged woman with perfect skin and a full body that he would fuck without reserve. “Thank you.” he says to the Panoptic, who only nods without emotion.

Belial pouts like a child whose favorite toy was taken away. “It was just a bit of teasing,” she counters.

“Adam does not have the skills necessary to fight off your mental charms. He would become a drooling thrall and refuse to leave your side.”

The [Demon Archqueen] smiles prettily, her eyes glowing with skill. “And?”

The Panoptic shakes her head, unaffected by the Succubus.

Belial pouts again when she notices her skills failing. “You’re a dangerous one,” she comments, but the Panoptic ignores her.

“I would suggest you send a faster [General] next time,” she changes the subject.

Belial frowns and opens her mouth to ask what she means, when one of her [Generals] enters.

“Arakashak, you’re back…” she raises an eyebrow, “and injured.”

The Balor [Archdemon General] walks up to his [Queen] and kneels, “Yes, the [Coven Heads] are stronger than anticipated. One of them was able to harm me before I ended his life.”

“And the others?”

“I killed another, but three fled. I am not fast enough to chase them.”

Belial turns her head to the Panoptic for a moment and then back to her [General].

“I see. Well, I promised the Panoptic their deaths, so,” she looks around at the table, noting her leaders, stopping on an Umbron.

“Aveklerish, I am placing you in charge of the hunt. End the last three [Coven Heads].”

“Yyyeeesssshhhh, Misssshhhhhttrrreeessss,” the toothless shadow answers and disappears.

Balial turns her gaze to the Panoptic. “To reiterate, when they are all dead, you will answer my questions properly?”

The Panoptics eyes glow with a divine light as she slowly nods.

“Yes, I will tell you where he is.”

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