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Chapter 012 – Things to Do
Mushi Users’ Settlement, Outer Perimeter.
The mushi users who had managed to win the battle against the Demon Army earlier were replenishing themselves after the battle.
Mushi users ate several times more than normal humans. During their rest period, they, who were always on alert against the threat of the Demon Army, were eager to eat the food which had been brought from their village.
“Oh, the stock used for today’s porridge is quite delicious. The servers really did a great job. It’s the perfect meal for a time like this.”
And right there was the King of the Beasts, Galtia, who was also stuffing his mouth with food like the rest of the mushi users.
He ate and casually commented on the food’s taste, and all the while, he was thinking,
…We’re having a hard time.
This was Galtia’s current evaluation of the soldiers around him—nay, of the settlement as a whole.
The soldier’s spirits had lifted since they had managed to repel the Demon Army this time, but if one looked at the current situation as a whole, there were still soldiers around who were looking down with gloomy expressions.
As time passed by, around half of the soldiers started to wear the same expression—they recalled the reality of their circumstances.
— They were all contemplating the same thought.
That was, when would this battle come to an end?
More than a decade has passed since the Demon Army moved to invade this land.
At first, everyone’s thoughts as they kept winning against the Demon army was: We could win this war. Regardless of what the Demon Army might do, there was nothing to fear.
However, what would happen after the same situation continued on, unchanged, for a year, for two years, then five years? Would they still hold that same initial optimism?
—The answer is “No.” The soldiers here currently carried anxiety in their hearts.
No matter how many times they repelled the Demon army, or how many demons were slain, the Demon Army never gave up. Whenever their numbers were reduced to a certain degree, reinforcements always arrived soon after.
They had underestimated the Demon Army. They had failed to grasp how innumerable their forces were.
There were, at most, ten thousand of their comrades in this area, but the demons existed all throughout the world. In other words, fighting the Demon Army was the equivalent of becoming the enemy of all those demons. If the day ever came where all of the demons gathered for war, then they would undoubtedly be crushed.
Therefore, there was really only one measure—nay, one strategy they could focus on to put an end to the Demon Army. That was to defeat the standard-bearers of the Demon Army, the Majin and then the Maou. That was the only method they could bank on to win this war.
However, when asked whether it was actually possible, everyone could only tilt their heads in hesitation.
…We have no choice but to do it though.
Galtia was the strongest mushi user in the settlement. The duty of the King of the Beasts was to protect this settlement—that was all he needed to do. He had no other choice. Also, while it might be hard for Galtia to defeat the Demon Army, victory wasn’t necessarily impossible. No, it was more accurate to say that he used to think it was that simple…
If he was just dealing with majins, he could still defeat them. It wasn’t like they were invincible. He somehow managed to do so. Then, if the Maou were to come here —
That was the only chance they had for victory. And that was why they employed a head-hunting strategy.
It was all about defeating the generals of the army so they could eventually force their superiors out in the open. However, even that was getting harder too.
Keeping up the soldiers’ morale was also an issue, but the most important problem they had was the lack of supplies and food for the mushi users.
Throughout the protracted length of this war, food and other supplies were obviously still being consumed accordingly. While the mushi users’ settlement was still able to supply a lot of food, that was only because they themselves ate a lot. As they continued to use mushis to fight, food got consumed much faster and would inevitably run out. The people in the settlement still hadn’t noticed that fact. It was because the elders had put a gag order on anyone who had realized it. However, the effect has already started to become apparent in less obvious ways. The food for soldiers was gradually reduced.
As a matter of fact, though Galtia looked like he was eating the same amount as usual, he only ate enough to ensure his mushis wouldn’t starve. It just wasn’t noticed by others because the original amount of his food intake was already several times that of those around him.
…Is this our limit?
They didn’t have much time left. If this went on, they would be starving to death first instead of getting killed in battle by the demon soldiers. He must kill the Maou as fast as possible. However, there were no signs of the Maou appearing on the battlefield.
Galtia was unable to reveal the current state of affairs and could only be grateful that he could still eat. As he was bringing food to his mouth—it happened.
“— The…there’s an enemy attack —!!??”
The soldiers around him were so surprised that they jolted up as soon as they heard this outcry. Galtia was also inwardly surprised.
As he asked one of the comrades inside of him, and he was indeed able to confirm the arrival of several presences within his detection range.
“…They sure are fast. They’re striking twice in the same day, huh.”
Galtia pondered the current situation. They still came to attack despite the damage they had suffered just earlier.
It should be their reinforcements then. They must have been deployed around yesterday or today.
“…They sure are something—Oi!”
He yelled out so the soldiers could hear him. Immediately, all their gazes were directed towards him. He could see how pallid everyone’s faces were from fatigue.
Galtia smiled so as to keep everyone calm.
“Hold your position for as long as you can. I’ll pierce through their army.”
“… We’ll go as well.”
“No, don’t. Concentrate on defense just as usual—nay, more than usual. Just continue to use hit-and-run tactics as you evade them.”
For these soldiers, he was their sole source of hope. Galtia was strongly aware of that. He also was aware of what he needed to do.
“Well, they’ll just run with their tails between their legs once the Demon General is defeated. Then we can give chase for a bit before continuing our meal.”
Galtia’s casual but confident words brought life back into the soldiers’ eyes.
“…Ah, you’re right! Let’s do it!”
“We’re counting on you!”
“We’ll show our might against the Demon Army!”
As Galtia felt their morale lift up, he apologized to his mushis.
“…Sorry to trouble you too.”
—We don’t mind. Said the dozens of mushis inside of Galtia.
“Hee… Okay, Let’s go.”
Galtia left for the battlefield with the rest of the soldiers.
An hour later, the Demon Army and mushi users clashed once more at the northern wasteland.
The soldiers of the Demon Army numbered more than usual, at three armies, and totalling to around 60,000 troops. In addition to that—
“Kill the men—!! Rape the women—!!”
“Gah?! Damn, your speed alone is quite something! Eat this!!”
“Gyaa!? My body hurts—?!”
“Ora ora ora—! You can’t hit me, you fucking humans—!!”
“Then taste these flames instead!”
“GUah!? It’s hot! It’s hoooot—!!!”
The ebb and flow of the current battle was the same as before.
Although their numbers were greater than usual, their lives were still wiped out by the mushi users’ various skills.
However, Galtia sensed that something was off as he defeated the Demon Captain.
“…It feels strange.”
The battle was progressing as usual, with the mushi users gaining the upper hand. They did well, despite being quite exhausted.
However, the morale of the Demons was still high despite being in such a disadvantageous position.
What was causing this?
The Demons’ strength remained the same. They merely had greater numbers than usual.
Then who brought them here? That was when Galtia realized a certain possibility.
Galtia, who had broken through the enemy camp to kill the Demon General, suddenly turned back and ran.
Why did he suddenly change his course? Because his allies’ positions had been breached by the demons.
But how was he able to notice such a thing despite being separated from them by a large distance? The sole answer to that was because of the fact that he was a mushi user.
Among the mushi who resided inside of Galtia, there was one who possessed the ability to detect the presence of living beings within a certain range, similar to a radar. It was through this sense that Galtia learned about it. There were a large number of demons breaching the allied camp.
The allied mushi users were being killed one by one; Galtia could tell from how their presences were blipping out from his senses. His allies seemed to be struggling as best as they could. Even so, it seemed that their enemies were so superior that they were still dying one after another.
… Don’t tell me.
As Galtia was running as fast as he could, he thought. Though it might’ve been tactless to think such a thing as his allies were dying.
—Did I finally hit the jackpot?
Galtia advanced, all while defeating the demon soldiers who got in his way.
And as he arrived at the allied encampment—it was there.
“—You’ve finally come.”
He was standing in the center of the mushi users who had been alive until just a while ago.
—His weapon… it’s that sword, huh.
Galtia surveyed his allies’ corpses and the blue sword in his enemy’s hand, and reached that conclusion. As if to confirm it, all the mushi users had been decapitated.
Perhaps all of them had died before even noticing it. Their expressions didn’t show any pain at all.
As a fellow swordsman, Galtia acknowledged the high level of his opponent’s skill.
It was as if the man before him had been waiting for him—nay, he must have been waiting for him. Both his words just then and his expression had given it away.
The blonde man, who was clad completely in an unfamiliar black garment, turned his red-eyed gaze towards Galtia.
An overwhelming presence overflowed from that man’s body. There seemed to be a thin barrier floating around his body—his aura was strong enough that it could manifest and was visible to the naked eye.
Galtia was familiar with such a phenomenon. However, this man was stronger than the one he had previously encountered. Therefore, he decided to confirm it with the man. He asked him with his usual casual tone.
“…I’ll ask just in case, but are you the Maou? Or just a Majin?”
“…I’m Majin Leonhart. I’ll also ask just in case, but am I correct in assuming you are Galtia?”
“Oh, I’m Galtia. Nice to meet you… but to think that you aren’t even the Maou…”
“…Do you have business with Ssul—Maou-sama?”
“Ssul? No, I thought this battle would end after defeating the Maou, but…”
“…Do you intend to defeat the Maou?”
“As expected, is it impossible after all? I thought it could be possible since I’ve defeated a Majin before, though.”
“…It would be impossible as a human. The difference is too big.”
“Fuhn—from the way you speak, it sounds like you’re speaking from experience as a former human?”
“…It’s just a figure of speech. I’m just comparing it to your situation.”
“No, you’re wrong. Majins were some other kind of living being before getting transformed into their current state. Your appearance is clearly that of a human… Also, I remember the name Leonhart. Weren’t you the head of the settlement located far east from here?”
Galtia’s confident words silenced him.
Leonhart thought a bit as he heard that. However, he immediately gave up and quickly clicked his tongue.
“…Tch, so you knew.”
“Just your name though. I heard that your settlement had also been struggling with the Demon Army just like mine… But to think that you ended up becoming a Majin. Is it more comfortable in the Demon Army?”
“…Both have their own challenges. However, is it really okay for us to not be fighting right now? I’ve breached the frontline, so if you don’t kill me quickly, your allies will be messed up by the demons.”
“No, of course I’ll fight… It’s just that you seemed so easy to talk to that I couldn’t help but start a conversation. I think we could get along well.”
“…Hah, Don’t be stupid. You’re a human while I am a majin, right?”
“…You’re right. I’m also curious about why you choose to side with the Demon Army, but it seems I have no time to ask you about it.”
“…I’ll tell you if you kill me.”
“…You can’t speak if you die, right?”
“…Then what should I do?”
“…Just tell me in the afterlife after I die.”
“—Hahah, you’re quite clever. That’s a good one.”
Leonhart grinned at Galtia’s words and straightened his hold on his long blue sword. In response to his killing intent, his red eyes sparkled, and his aura as a majin as well, as that of the sword’s, also rose up.
“Unfortunately, I have things I need to do. I can’t die here, you see. Let’s play for a bit then, how about it?”
Galtia laughed in a similar way at Leonhart’s provocative words as he wielded a red sword decorated with bone ornaments. In response to Galtia’s killing intent, the mushis inside of him also immediately got into battle mode.
“What a coincidence. I also have things I need to do. I have no objections to that.”
It sounded like an easygoing exchange between longtime friends. If a third party were to see it, they probably wouldn’t have realized that they were actually enemies who had just met for the first time. Under different circumstances, they might not have just been friends, but even best friends.
However, both of them had things they needed to accomplish.
Galtia had to defeat the majin before him, and then eventually defeat the Maou to protect his settlement.
Leonhart had to fight against the human before him, and carry out his master’s command.
Both of them were originally kings of their settlements: the King of the Beasts and the King of the Swords respectively. A human and a majin who used to be human.
However, their paths were running parallel to each other and wouldn’t intersect—at the very least, not as things were now.
Both of them looked at each other, and then said the same words at the same time.
With those words as the trigger, the two clashed.