Chapter 282
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Spending time with my family calmed my frayed nerves. Just being able to sit and talk with them made all my worries about Envy and the imminent invasion feel distant and small. Unfortunately, time was not kind. All too soon, I needed to return to the city. It was not good to leave corpses to rot, and General Arthur’s strategy meeting was fast approaching.

The first problem was easily fixed. More than a full day had passed since the battle with the Demons, and my power had recovered considerably. It took very little time for me to cover the city in green flames once again.

In less than an hour, rows of undead Demonkin and soldiers stood before me. I reveled in the feeling of once again having tens of thousands at my fingertips. I no longer had to struggle just to command a dozen scattered creatures. Instead, my main concern now was that there were not enough undead to satisfy me.

Overflowing with power and a desire to increase my army even further, I turned my attention to the scattered scraps of decaying flesh near where the portal between the realms had once been. My talent to raise the dead had many miraculous healing properties, but there was always a limit. If too little of the original creature remained, it was impossible for me to recreate its body from nothing. That did not mean my revival had failed, however. The loose flesh and organs still flowed with my power. Only, there was nothing it could do without a body. When I was young, this was a problem that constantly plagued me. The battlefield often left behind corpses too mangled for even my talent to fix. It always felt like such a waste. It was a problem I had spent nearly a hundred years researching before I achieved a working solution. Now that I had regained my full power, these scraps of discarded flesh were no longer useless.

“It has been a long time since I created a Chimera. I wonder how this one will turn out,” I mumbled to myself as a plume of green flames ignited in my hand.

The flames flowed towards the mounds of flesh scattered across the ground. I did not simply let the fire fill the various tissues and organs, though. No, what I was doing now needed precise control. My flames needed to be thinner than a needle and flow continuously like a thread. In this way, I began to stitch various body parts together.

To anyone watching, my actions would seem random and almost chaotic as I pulled specific pieces of flesh from the pile, but there was a method to my madness. Every organ has a function. While my talent did not require everything a living being did, there were still a few requirements if I wanted to create anything more than a weak puppet of shambling bones. Without muscles, the creature would be unable to move without expending excess energy. Without skin, organs would not stay in place. Without bones, there was no structure to support it all.

Three dozen hearts pumped flames through its veins. It had a digestive tract that could corrode steel and more than a hundred types of venom glands. I had to admit, the materials Envy had sent me were not mediocre. Many of these creatures had once been Alphas, and the few that hadn’t were, at the very least, fully mature Demonkin. No normal weapon could pierce their hides. Their claws were sharper than razors and tougher than diamond. They were monsters, mutated for the sole purpose of slaughter. Even then, what began to take shape out of the mountain of flesh would likely strike fear into even the most bestial of Demonkin.

The beast was nearly two stories tall. A hundred limbs grew from its body like hairs on its back. Ten heads of ten different creatures looked in every direction with far too many eyes for their misshapen skulls. It moved across the ground like a centipede. Its hard carapace sounded like nails on a chalkboard as its belly slid across the stone road.

The creature was a creation of nightmares, and I couldn’t be prouder. Creating one of these chimeras took a lot of effort and concentration, but the rewards were immediately obvious. Most Alphas would struggle against my creations. Any common Demonkin would probably be torn apart before it could even get close. The only downside was that my chimeras did not last very long. No matter how much power I put into the creation, eventually, my flames would fade. When they did, the threads holding the chimera together would weaken, and the creature would fall apart. It was not perfect, but it would last until Envy’s invasion.

For a moment, I considered ridding my creation through the city, but I quickly tossed that idea away. The last time I had done that, two hundred years ago, it caused a mass panic. I was finally beginning to regain some respect from soldiers, and while I was proud of my accomplishment, I knew they would only see a monster. As much as it annoyed me, keeping the chimera away from others was the best option. It would have its time to shine in the final battle.

Creating the chimera had taken several hours, and before I knew it, a messenger arrived to inform me of General Arthur’s strategy meeting. Every domain warrior that remained and the representatives from each country were required to attend.

The meeting was being held in the palace. A heated argument had already broken out when I arrived at the conference room. One representative smashed his fist on the table. His face was bright red as he shouted.

“How much more are we supposed to sacrifice? Our only Domain warrior is dead, less than a quarter of our army remains, and we have used up supplies that could have supported our country for ten winters. What more do you expect of us!”

General Arthur remained calm in the face of the irate man. “I understand your concerns, chancellor. Trust me, I do, but if we cannot stop Envy, none of it matters. All of us will die. Your country will be no different than the blood mist infested land of the Novus Kingdom. Is that what you want?”

“Obviously not,” the chancellor replied, “I just don’t understand what you expect of us. How are we supposed to fight against moving mountains and Demons capable of wiping out cities with the flick of a wrist?”

General Arthur clasped his hands together and nodded towards me as he patiently spoke to the man. “That is not what I am asking of you. Every Demon’s greatest strength is the hordes of Demonkin that follows them. If we try to fight them ourselves, we will simply have another repeat of yesterday, where after clearing the city for us, Wren was too exhausted to stop Envy from taking action. This is not a fight where we can afford anything but our best. If I send domain warriors to help fight the weaker Demonkin, there will not be enough people to stop Envy and the moving mountains as you put it. We cannot ignore these Demonkin either. If we do, they will spread their corruption across the land, and all of our sacrifices will be for nothing.”

“Then what do you suggest we do? March in to be slaughtered? To be a distraction while the real fight rages in the sky above?”

“I know you are speaking on behalf of your men, chancellor, but do not underestimate or belittle the impact they can bring to the battlefield. Individually they are weak, but we are not the same army we were when this war started. We have the glyph armor protecting us, splinter cannons with enough ammunition to fire for weeks without stopping, and most importantly, the advantage of picking our battlefield on our terms.”

“And what good will that do us?”

“That is what we have gathered here to decide. There are several places in this world that even Demons fear to tread. If we can force our enemy into one of those lands, we can deal a devastating blow before the fighting even begins.” As General Arthur spoke, he turned to me. “As such, the person we really need to be listening to is her. Out of everyone here, only Aurielle would know the best locations for this battlefield.”

Simultaneously, everyone in the room turned to look at me. I frowned at suddenly being put on the spot but understood what General Arthur expected of me. With a nod, I moved to the conference table at the center of the room, where a large map of the continent was already laid out.

“You are right. I know of thirteen locations that match our requirements. However, only four of them are within marching distance in the time we have left before Envy invades… No, I guess it is three now…” I trailed off in thought with a glance at Sebastion. “I have seen the condition of Nebula Tower. Is there any chance the others have received even the slightest maintenance in the past fifty years?”

Sebastion coughed in embarrassment. “Err… No, I always planned to fight any invasion here in Ater-Albus. I never even considered the city might be built on the back of a giant serpent and could be moved to a more defensible location. The Universe and Galaxy towers are still in ruins after Envy’s last invasion. I didn’t feel like repairing them was worth the cost.”

I felt a slight headache as I glared at my former student. “Right then… that leaves two possible locations for us to prepare for battle. We can either choose the ruins of the Universe Tower or the still-standing Solar Tower.”

“I think you will have to explain. What are these towers? What makes them so special?” General Arthur asked curiously.

I scratched my head as I tried to think of an easy way to describe the towers. “During my time as Empress, I stumbled across several dangerous locations, but only four were located within the borders of my empire. These locations would have been nightmares to normal people, but instead, I saw opportunities. When it came time for me to connect this realm to the Thirteen Divisions, I created four towers. Each one overlooks one of these locations, and, should the tower ever fall to invasion, I could use the inherent dangers present there to guarantee mutual destruction.”

“We fought in Nebula Tower. Why did you never use this failsafe then?” General Arthur continued.

“The danger zone at Nebula Tower is an ever-present electrical storm high above the clouds. During Envy’s last invasion, I channeled the entire storm through the tower bringing both it and a good portion of Envy’s army down. Without a building tall enough to reach the storm or being able to fly through it, using the electrical storm is impossible,” I explained with remorse. It was a shame. Nebula Tower had been one of the strongest locations in its prime, but with the tower collapsed, there was no way to use it now. Shaking my head, I resumed my explanation with the next location. “Galaxy Tower shared a similar fate. It was built suspended over what can only be described as a bottomless pit, also known as the Hydrahead Volcano. It is a rather volatile location where lava eats its way deeper and deeper into the earth before depositing explosively out into the nearby sea floor. It served its purpose well. When the last invasion came, it was the second to fall, literally. The entire Galaxy Tower was dropped into the volcano when it could no longer be defended, along with all the Demons that thought themselves victorious. Those two locations take too much setup to be used in our situation. That only leaves the locations of the Universe and the Solar Tower, also known as the Venomous Sea and the Starfall Valley.”

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