“Side Event: The Schemes Of The Devils”
A troop of soldiers wearing non-standardized armor was moving along the highway. The repairs of the road in the regions not leading to the capital had not been finished yet and the soldiers were currently traveling through the mountainous area close to the national border. The road surface here was perfectly untouched by any sort of maintenance effort so the heavy squadrons of soldiers escorting cargo wagons found the journey really taxing.
「…Not a single one came out.」
Rion, displeased, muttered to himself. Even though they were in the middle of a demonic beast subjugation, not a single one had appeared so far. With their efforts up to now fruitless, they even tried heading close to the national border.
「Just as I thought, there’s too many of us. Didn’t I tell you this enough times already?」
Rion’s displeasure was aimed at his traveling companion, Kiel Blau. He was not venting this time. He had suggested before the start of the operation that it should be undertaken by multiple small units spread over an area but he had been ignored. They ended up traveling together in one group, him, a hundred of Bandeaux Clansmen and the head of Clan Blue.
Furthermore, the idea of having him participate in the subjugation proved controversial too. But Rion, having his personal development in mind, didn’t want to let go of the chance to get battle experience, even if it would be against the demonic beasts.
「We are about to arrive at the national border, lord. I suggest we pull back to avoid provoking the neighboring countries.」
Letting Rion’s complaints go by, Kiel has suggested pulling out.
「What awaits on the border?」
Rion asked the question without remarking on Kiel’s attitude. He had not, after all, voiced his complaints expecting an apology. It was just grumbling.
「Nothing much lord, it’s just a wooden post marking where the border lies.」
「Are there no soldiers on guard?」
「Having some would just raise unnecessary questions in the capital.」
Thus, Rion’s plan of either contacting those countries directly or investigating their side of the border came to nothing. This was the other reason why he insisted on participating in the subjugation and sending out small teams.
All this reminded him once again just how troublesome being a feudal lord had been.
「I will halt the soldiers, lord.」
What Rion did not know was that Kiel organized such a big squad exactly in order to prevent him from acting independently. The expedition unfolded exactly as he and the other clan heads wished.
While the orders to cease marching were issued.
「…Assume defensive stance.」
「Lord, if we are going to take a break, wouldn’t withdrawing a bit first be better?」
「Defensive formation, just do it. Make it face… Right.」
Setting down in a defensive formation facing a certain direction was not something a commander would do when ordering a break. Furthermore, there was a steep mountain slope on the right side of the road. Kiel just couldn’t make sense of Rion’s orders.
「Hurry up! There’s no time!」
「Face the left side diagonally towards your right! Defensive stance! Or whatever damn thing you want! Just prepare for an enemy attack.」
Because Kiel wouldn’t act, Rion had begun to personally issue orders to the army. But as he had no experience in commanding soldiers, his instructions were chaotic.
「It won’t be the demonic beasts! Don’t let your guard down! Move people!」
Rion completely disregarded Kiel’s surprise. He continued to order his troops and exhort them into action as he headed in front of the slowly assembling formation while glaring at the slope of the mountain.
「…Lord? Just what is…?」
「Whatever comes, do not be surprised! Attack and kill anything that emerges.」
「Lord?! Are we under attack!?」
Rion’s way of speaking made it clear it would not be demonic beasts. Kiel was even more confused.
「I don’t know what comes. All I know is that it’s inhuman.」
There was no way that Kiel would be able to understand the meaning behind Rion’s words. The people of this era regarded the Devil and the other demons as something out of a fairytale.
Rion was aware of that. Hence he opted to not explain anything and focused on the coming battle.
「Sarah, Diane. We’re doing F2. Assaulting Formation.」
Responding to Rion’s call, Sarah and Diane took a form visible to others. As usual, they resembled flame dragons and water valkyries.
Answering Rion’s call, Sarah and Diane advanced. Weaving between trees, the pair of spirits split further increasing the number of manifestations. Kiel and the Bandeaux army could only watch them go in amazement.
After some time, multiple flashes of light could be seen within the forest.
「They’re coming! Get ready to intercept!」
Roughly at the same time as Rion yelled this order, the silhouettes of the enemy started to become visible among the trees. They were short, humanoid figures equipped with weapons and armor but not moving like trained soldiers would.
But the most striking feature were their faces resembling that of a boar or an ugly pig. Judging by Ryou’s memories, those beings should be called goblins.
「Wha–What on earth are they!?」
Uneasiness crept into the ranks of the soldiers that saw a demon for the first time ever.
On the other hand, once Rion was able to recognize those creatures, he felt relieved since going by Ryou’s memories, goblins were among the weakest of demons. But that feeling was short-lived. He soon saw that the assailants were not limited to goblins, he was able to recognize other types of demons too.
On top of that, the magical power that resonated with Sarah and Diane was not something that a mere goblin would be able to emit.
「Calm down! If you fight as usual, you can deal with them!」
But even so, something had to be done about the goblins that appeared first. For that sake, he had to calm down the army still shaken by the unknown creatures before them.
Rion stepped out of the line moving in front of the troops. The goblins immediately began attacking the lone figure that advanced on them but he was cutting them down one after another with his sword.
「They’re enemies that fall easily even to my blade! Do not fear! Attack!」
The first person to regain his composure was, as one would expect, the leader of the Blue clan, Kiel. He immediately rushed to Rion’s side and began hacking at the goblins too.
And once Kiel advanced, others did too. The army began to join the battle with the goblins en masse.
「Men, I need to fall back for now! They may be weak but stay vigilant! Do not chase far! They are not the only foes here!」
After shouting out his orders, Rion pulled out from the front line. Kiel followed too, as he immediately figured out that his army could handle the goblins without him.
「Lord, what are they?」
「No time for detailed explanations. They are the minions of the Devil, things you know as demons. I do not know why are they here or whether someone is controlling them.」
「Straight out of a fairytale world.」
Rion laughed unintentionally while saying so. After all, for him, this world was already a fairytale.
「…The demons are real.」
「Were you not aware these things existed?」
「No lord, it is my first time hearing about them or seeing them in person.」
「And here they are. It’s the same with the Devil. No one had seen him yet but he is real.」
Kiel wasn’t able to deny what he was told. And besides, he had already accepted the possibility in his head. Even if his heart refused to do so.
「There are many races of demons. That one is one of the weakest. But there are other, both weak and strong. That’s why the army should not let their guard down.」
「I will go search for them now. The command is yours, you are better at it than me anyway, are you not?」
「Lord! Please leave it to me!」
Glad about being entrusted with a task by Rion for the first time Kiel returned to the front lines in high spirits. Rion, left to his own devices, returned to focusing his consciousness on searching his surroundings.
He might have pretended to be calm in front of Kiel but his innermost thoughts were in considerable turmoil.
His first problem was that he did not know what to do if the Devil really was here right now. The Devil was an existence meant to be defeated by the protagonist, Maria, and her comrades, not a character supposed to be defeated here.
In the past, Rion had fought recklessly against the World but now he knew that he couldn’t really defy Its will. Or prevent important events from occurring.
The event ending up with the Devil’s defeat would happen at the game’s conclusion. Which meant it would be impossible to defeat him until that time. That being the case, if he were to appear in this place then the only choice before them would be to run away. And there was no guarantee they could safely get away either. It could be safely said that the situation had him cornered.
But even if he did not appear, this was still a troublesome situation for him. Frankly, for Rion, this whole devil business was other people’s problem. He was planning many things for the time after Maria and the others defeat the enemy but with this development, even those plans would crumble. Even if not directly, it was possible that he just got himself caught in that conflict.
This last suspicion was just him misunderstanding the situation. But he couldn’t possibly know that. Nor could he expect what was about to happen.
(……Is this it?)
Something got caught in Sarah and Diane’s detection net. However, that thing was noticeably weaker compared to the magic he felt before.
Even so, Rion decided to rejoin the fight. After all, he found no other beings that would emit a stronger magical power yet.
What entered Rion’s vision once he rejoined the battle was a being very different from the goblins that surrounded it. For one, the size was much larger. It had, by far, exceeded Rion’s stature with a large build nearly three meters tall. The girth was also immense, even if three Rion were to line up, it wouldn’t be enough to match it.
But the thing that described its character more than anything was its eye. A single big eye occupying the middle of its face.
「No matter how you look at it, it’s a cyclops, huh? Well, saves me from the trouble of thinking what to name it.」
It seemed that all the demonic beasts appearing in this world were within the scope of Ryou’s knowledge rather than Rion’s. He immediately accepted it as a natural thing, since this world was a game after all.
Although Rion didn’t feel as tense about the fight as he did at the beginning, this was definitely not the case for his soldiers. They were momentarily shaken by the huge new type of demon appearing in front of them. However, they managed to regain composure immediately.
「Besides, it has an obvious weak point. “Knowledge will come to your aid” is a really apt saying.」
Suddenly, numerous icy spears appeared mid-air. All of them started assaulting the cyclops at once. It tried to deflect the projectiles with the ax it was holding but due to staggered timing of the attack, it couldn’t get them all. Besides, most of the missiles were just decoys.
The real attack was aimed at the cyclops’ eye. While it was focusing on the feints targeting its legs, one of the spears that had gotten closer changed its trajectory and hit the cyclops in the eye.
The demon, having suffered a deep wound to its eye, yelled in pain and had started to rampage. However, no matter how much it raged, there was nothing much it could do after losing its vision. The flailing of its arms and swings of its ax hit nothing but air.
Seeing this, Rion intensified his magic assault. Sarah engulfed his head in flames while Diane started slicing his arms into pieces.
But it was Rion’s sword that finished the duel. The ice flying in the air started turning into blocks and stepping on those he headed towards the immobile cyclops and swung his sword sideways across its neck.
The head of the cyclops flew into the air as its body slowly hit the ground with a thump. By the time the vibration of the earth ceased, perfect silence descended onto the field of battle…
「…Reform ranks. There seem to be no more enemies in the area but for the time being avoid letting your guard down.」
…Until Rion’s orders broke it.
「A failure, eh?」
At a considerably distant location, deep within a cave unknown to the people of the kingdom, a being that couldn’t be called a human muttered in annoyance.
「I have advised you to stop. It was a futile attempt.」
Another devil spoke to the first smiling with ridicule.
「But haven’t you agreed to this later on anyway?」
「I approved of the assault. However, I told you that if you were going to do it, you should be thorough.」
「We don’t have the luxury of preparing such an attack.」
「I know. That’s why I stopped you at first. It’s an opponent who defeated Danann the Lich in a contest of magic. A demon like a cyclops couldn’t possibly succeed.」
It was exactly as the second devil said. Simply relying on a swarm of goblins and a cyclops unable to even use magic couldn’t possibly be enough to defeat Rion. If the first devil was adamant on relying on cyclopses, he would need one or two hundred of them.
But currently, the devils didn’t have that kind of manpower. They were merely on the stage of preparing for the promised day.
「…Fine. I’ll acknowledge my failure. However, with this, we have confirmed that his guy is a key individual.」
「We have confirmed that a long time ago. That’s why I said that we should not lay a hand on him for now.」
「Why? He’s someone that will hinder our plans in the future, we should just get rid of him now.」
「That’s just pointlessly throwing away our pawns. We should instead focus on gathering our strength, for the time being, so we can release the seal on Lord Daimon as soon as possible.」
It was true that Maria was the one to defeat The Devil. But there was something Rion was misunderstanding about that situation. There was not just one Devil, the beings gathering in this place could be called devils as well.
Their objective was the resurrection of their god, Daimon the Devil and Maria’s party was going to obstruct that, by defeating them.
「Baron, you bastard, do you think the Lord Daimon would be defeated by the likes of these humans?」
「That’s exactly why there’s no need for us to be impatient. The time for bloodbath will come after Lord Daimon awakens. There is no need for us to cause trouble before then. When our lord revives, our strength will also rise. We can deal with Danann’s enemy at that time.」
The Devil, Daimon, would grant strength to the lesser devils who worshiped him. And with that strength, they would conquer the world. This was their ambition.
「…You’re right. Fine. Let us put the matter of that brat, Rion, to the side for now. Shall we now sacrifice the weaklings as an offering for Lord Daimon’s return ?」
「By all means.」
「Alright Kanan. Let’s get to it immediately. I will tell Goran myself.」
「I’ll leave that to you.」
In order to unseal Daimon the Devil, they needed to soak the ground with sacrificial blood. That was the reason why they started to cause numerous disturbances.
The devils have now, at last, begun to hasten their plans.
After he had defeated the Danann the Lich, lesser devils brushed Maria’s existence aside and they were now recognizing Rion as a key individual instead.
Of course, not knowing that, Rion just blamed Maria for dragging him into her matters trying to deal with this new conflict full of resentment for having to do so.
「How is it?」
「We have examined the surroundings but as expected…」
Kiel answered to Rion’s question while slightly shaking his head.
「There are no tracks, huh?」
「None at all.」
It was not as though the matter could be concluded by simply defeating the cyclops. Knowing where those demons had come from was imperative. Regardless of whether it was a nest or something like a village if such a place were to be found in the forest, it had to be crushed to remove the demon threat. If not just demonic beasts but also actual demons were to infest their new trade route, no one would dare to use it.
With this in mind, they retraced the tracks the attackers left on the ground. Unfortunately, before long and not that deep into the trees, the footsteps vanished. Finding it unbelievable, the scouts investigated the area thoroughly but, as Kiel reported, found nothing.
「With so many of them it’s impossible for there to be no trail.」
「It is indeed unthinkable.」
「Right. That being the case, those demons must have appeared suddenly.」
「Is that even possible?」
「There’s only one explanation I can think of.」
While he ordered the army to look for the footsteps, Rion was also considering a certain possibility.
「They were transported by magic. A spell sent them here from another place.」
「…There’s magic like that?」
「I don’t know. But I won’t go as far as saying it doesn’t exist. Look at the ground here.」
Kiel stared at his own feet as Rion requested. At first glance, he couldn’t see anything wrong but he was sure he was missing something.
「…A line? No… A shape?」
Looking carefully at the ground, the grass looked burnt in places. That damage spread over a considerable area and betrayed regularity as though it was arranged.
「Do you know of magic circles?」
Rion turned to ask the clan head.
This wasn’t exactly ignorance. Magic was something that belonged to those with high social status only. Therefore, the spread of knowledge about it was manipulated and restricted.
「I don’t know much either. That’s why I have suspicions, not evidence. However, it’s certain that I have felt strong magic being used here.」
Rion came to a conclusion that the magic he had felt before must have been a teleportation spell. There were also traces here of something comparable to a magic circle.
「…If lord’s suspicions are correct then that’s not good.」
「Because we won’t be able to figure out where they are going to appear next time.」
If the demons suddenly appeared in the middle of Camargue, it would cause a huge chaos. Any such a prolonged threat would halt the revival of the Bandeaux half way in.
「But while I won’t deny that possibility I don’t think that’s going to happen.」
「Why is that, lord?」
「They need to create a magic circle before they can transport, right? If that’s the case, we just have to be on the lookout for those.」
If the demons could just appear anywhere they liked, there was no need to specifically attack his soldiers in such a place. Rion concluded that they must have learned that the army was going to travel along this route and they had prepared an ambush this close to the border. He had no evidence for this but he was, nevertheless, convinced he was right.
「Try taking drawings of the details burned into the ground and spread them to notice boards across the barony. Report immediately if something similar is found.」
「Notify envoys of the neighboring countries. Tell them about the appearance of the demons. Showing them a corpse will probably help, so try to arrange that too.」
「Understood. I will start on this at once.」
「And now, let’s return to Camargue post-haste. Our plans need revision. Vigilance of the demon threat needs to go in hand with monster subjugation. We will require patrols throughout the territory.」
The Bandeaux revival effort hit a stumbling block with the appearance of the demons. Rion found that frustrating but he also knew that frustration would solve nothing.
So for the time being, he would do what had to be done. As was his attitude from the very start, even before meeting Vincent.