Chapter 31 – The Hand of the Looming Dead – Part 1
The march of the dead, as Rena calls it.
It seemed that if it was to be done in earnest, it would have to be done at night.
On my way back to the dormitory of the military school, I saw many times that the soldiers of Granden territory were moving in a hurry.
It’s been about an hour since Rena said those words.
At this point, there is still no sign of the dead, but the military may have already been informed.
Just then, I bumped into a girl with blond hair tied up on the right side of her head.
“Clarice? What’s the matter? In such a hurry?”
“Theodore, ……! Oh, no, this is ……”
Behind Clarice, a group of soldiers who seemed to be under her command were holding swords and magic guns, ready for battle at any moment.
“Have you noticed any signs of the dead?”.
“What are you taking about ..”
“No need to hide it. Well, I won’t force you to talk.”
“No. This emergency now. I’m sure that whatever happens, we soldiers will be able to resolve it on our own. …… But I’ll let you special students know what’s going on, just in case.”
Clarice told me that General Duras had told the soldiers in the Granden territory to start preparing for war.
Some time later, they received information that a large number of dead people were approaching the area from the temple inside Granden.
So General Duras sensed first, then the temple?
No matter how great a hero he is, he is still a human being.
Having spent so many years in Tenebrae, and half of it as a majin, Rena was understandably sensitive to the presence of the dead.
However, it is hard to imagine that a person with no such experience would be able to sense the presence of the dead so quickly.
The people in the platoon led by Clarice also had weapons in their hands, but I got the impression that they were a little confused.
This is what happens when you are suddenly told to prepare for war. If you’re just a soldier, by the time you notice any sign of death, it’s already too late.
It is normal for this to be the case.
The reason General Duras found out might was because of the blessings of the Great Goddess Orphelia.
Or is it due to the intervention of some unknown entity behind the general? The curiosity is endless.
As I was thinking about it, listening to Clarice’s explanation from the middle, a voice suddenly called out to me.
“Hey, Theo, Clarice. What the hell is going on?”
“It’s so disgusting, all these soldiers everywhere.”
The two beastkin girls called out to us while looking at the soldiers passing by on the street.
I called them.
“Oh, you’ve come too.”
“Hmm. I was in the middle of dinner at a restaurant in town with Shaula, but there was some noise, so I came out and found myself in this situation.”
“The time I had with Roka was ruined. What, did the people who attacked the temple invade or something?”
Roka looks around with interest, and Shaula, in contrast, looks vaguely at her long claws as if she isn’t interested in anything other than Roka.
“The details of the situation have not yet been communicated to me. At the moment, I’ve been told to gather at the temple ……. I just tell Theodore about it.”
I spun around on my heels as Clarice explained the same thing again.
“So that’s why– Theodore? Where do you think you’re going!”
“I’ve got some business to attend to. Call me when the war is in full swing.”
“Eh, wait, wait, wait. ……!
Without hearing Clarice’s words to stop me, I quickly left the place.
Eventually, I arrived at a deserted alleyway. I muttered as I leaned my back against the wall there, which was empty.
“Rena, are you there?”
“Yes, I’m here.”
I say after hearing a lovely voice coming from very close by.
“What’s the status?”
“Yes ……, after all, the hordes of the dead are closing in on this land. But since they have the power to penetrate objects, some of them seem to have burrowed deep underground before marching on us. Therefore, direct interception seems to be difficult.”
I had Rena check on the hordes of the dead that were approaching the area. It seems that the enemy is not so easy to deal with.
There would be no reason to destroy the entire ground, but that would cause the city to collapse.
“However, it seems that there is a barrier in this area to prevent the invasion of the dead. It seems to be a sacred art, and it’s quite advanced. Isn’t it difficult to break through this?”
“They won’t come without a plan. No matter how strong the barriers are, expect some event to break them.”
When prompted to continue, Rena speaks.
“There is also a cemetery here where war dead are buried. If the spirits possess the remains, there is a high probability that moving corpses will occur one after another. Shall we cut them down from one end?”
“That’s certainly a possibility. But mostly zombies or skeletons. The military should be able to handle it. The soldiers alone should be enough, leave them be.”
When an astral body enters a corpse, it can sometimes become a troublesome undead.
If all the remains in the cemetery were to be set in motion, it would not be surprising if the level of those created was too much for a mere soldier to handle.
The strength of the undead depends greatly on the strength of the person before they died, their attachment to life, resentment, hatred, and other negative emotions.
In rare cases, powerful evil spirits can clump together to form a great ghost, and if they get into the remains, they can sometimes become so nasty that even the Majin have to deal with them. …… This will not be the case this time.
If there were such an evil spirit, it would have been detected long ago.
To put it simply, the danger at this stage is low. Some of the soldiers may be sacrificed, but that’s just the extent of it.
That’s why it’s so tricky.
What does the one who is leading this army of the dead want to do? In order to find out, I ordered Rena to do the following.
“Lucifer-sama, are you sure you want to just ‘watch’?”
“Hmm. A bunch of undeads is an insignificant opponent. Leave such things to the soldiers. I’m sure that Claude Duras will personally come to guard the temple. It’s none of our business. More importantly, there’s a place I’m curious about.”
“… The High Magic Court.”
I had told Rena my thoughts earlier.
The key to the defense of this Granden is of course the military, but there are other places that are better suited for defense.
That is exactly what the High Magic Court used to create the Final Droplet in Mildiana.
In that land, the racism of the elves is on the rise, and the High Magic Court is being manipulated by Ghislain, the puppet of some thing called a goddess.
However, in this place where there are few such principle claims, the High Magic Court should also be entrusted with the task of defending the city, which is one of its original purposes.
A large number of sorcerers have already gathered and will be ready for battle.
However, under Claude Duras’ orders, most of the military should have been sent to guard the temple.
The High Magic Court has some strength, but it will not be enough.
Therefore, I thought that the enemy would most likely exploit this point. We still don’t know the purpose of the opponent, but it is obvious that they are planning some kind of conspiracy in this land of Granden.
The military is the biggest hindrance, but High Magic Court is also an entity that can never be ignore.
Although not on the same scale as Mildiana, this city’s High Magic Court has a history of fighting against demons many times since long ago.
–Because they had been working with the temple to take extra measures against the demons. It is certain that there were those who took the trouble to conquer this land.
So, if you are going to attack this place using the undead, you can make a plan to target the High Magic Court , which is inevitably less vigilant.
Of course, the spirits are resistant to weapons attacks, but they are not resistant to magic attacks.
There are not many people with sexuality.
Even if the High Magic Court were to be exposed to the flames of war all at once, it would be the army of the dead that would suffer defeat in the end.
There is only one conclusion to be drawn.
It means that the herd of the dead will be nothing more than a disposable tool.
And a tool is only effective if there is someone to use it. That’s what I’m trying to say.
“The general should be on his way to the temple. If that is the case, I will head to the High Magic Court. I’ll take care of the hordes of the dead, and wait for the unexpectedly large fish to be caught in the net.”
“Can’t I be Lucifer-sama’s bodyguard, ……?
Rena asked in a slightly sad tone.
What an overprotective wife. What is there to worry about in such a trivial matter?
Well, I don’t feel bad that she thinks this way.
“Rena. I trust you, and I have faith in you. That’s why I entrusted you not to take part in this battle, but to simply watch over us in silence.”
“…… What do you mean?”
“It is more likely that something more alarming will happen than a horde of the dead. Do you remember the red stars that shone in the night sky when we looked up together on the way to this city?”
“The twinkle of the red star,” she said. “It was a nice phenomenon ……, but what does that have to do with the current situation?”
“I’ll tell you more when I have time. That thing is certainly beautiful. It’s certainly beautiful, and there’s a certain charm to it that holds the viewer’s attention. But that phenomenon is undoubtedly a bad omen. It’s most likely a harbinger of something that’s going to happen that even I can’t imagine.”
“……! A bad omen. ……. There’s a story that says men and women who see that glow will be happy.”
“There are many legends from different lands, but when those stars shone, it was a time of disaster. It is my belief that the seeds of calamity are being scattered across this continent. –Rena. I said that I trust you and that I believe in you. Do you understand what it mean?”
“Excuse me, I’m very sorry to ask this but ……! What do you mean?”
“The fluctuation of the space must be a sign of something. In some cases, there is a possibility of a great calamity that the current me cannot handle. I want you to be prepared for that. To put it simply, I want you to watch over your fragile husband, my reliable and reassuring wife.”
When I said this, Rena, who had been confused by the vague instructions she had been given, suddenly took on an awed tone.
“Understood. As the third wife of the supreme and most powerful Demon Lord Lucifer, I swear to protect you with all my might!”
“Good spirit. You’re a former hero. I’m counting on you, Rena.”
“Yes! Leave it to me!”
As soon as I shouted this, Rena unexpectedly appeared on the spot and hugged me.
“I will protect you, Lucifer-sama!”
“I’m counting on you.”
Rena clung to me like a dog waiting for its master to return. As I held her body, I couldn’t help but feel a strange stirring in my heart. An inexplicable feeling of frustration, as if a finger is tracing my heart, almost overwhelms me.
Is this a groundless fear, or…?
After appeasing Rena, who was pushing her body against mine, I managed to get her to disappear, and then I decided to head to the High Magic Court in the territory of Granden.
All the while, Claude watched as more and more soldiers specialized in combat gathered at the temple.
The population of Granden is about 30,000. It is the least populated of all the capitals of the Empire.
The number of military personnel is less than about one thousand.
If we exclude the medics and other personnel who are in charge of rescue and support, our strength drops to 70%. If we include the students of the military school, the number of heads itself will increase, but we can’t involve them even in such a situation.
In addition to the high possibility of unnecessary casualties, the opponent is not a living person, beast, or dragon race, but a dead one.
At the military academy, I learned about the recent war with the Zenan Dragon Kingdom and the recent developments in the surrounding countries.
In light of the situation, I have been actively teaching them tactics against humans and dragons. I also teach them how to deal with undead attacking them on the battlefield.
Butt was not enough.
Therefore, the students of the military academy were not assigned to guard the area, but to work together with the medics to evacuate the residents in the Granden territory. It was the same with those Mildiana special students. I’ve heard that they had a tremendous battle against the sky demons, but even more so, their power should be used to protect the people.
How much time is left is completely unknown.
The presence of the army of the dead has not yet reached this place, but I can feel a great number of vindictive cries from not far away.
The power of the divine sword Revisistra conveys this, but it seems to be only vague.
It was a stange entity that told Claude in no uncertain terms that the army of the dead was closing in. If it had not been for his advice, he would has noticed the presence of the dead much later.
From among the soldiers packed in front of the temple, one old soldier stepped forward.
“General Duras, sir. All combat specialists are ready.”
“I’m sorry, Major General Karsati. It must have been difficult to get everyone together in such a short time.”
“No, no, they are all rather lively. After all, there are many of us who have never been in a real battle. It’s the perfect opportunity to test their strength.”
When the old soldier said this, some of the younger soldiers began to make a lot of noise.
I’m going to get the medal, there’s no way I’m going to die, and there are certainly motivational voices coming from everywhere.
As Claude stared blankly at the scene, he thought of his subordinates and friends of the past.
“Claude, let’s get this war out of the way and go get a drink! I know a great place.”
“Major Duras! Let’s make sure we defeat those dragon people with our own hands!”
All of them who spoke bloodthirsty words were helplessly overrun by the sheer power of the dragon race.
My friend, who had been talking cheerfully just a few hours ago, was exposing his cruelly mutilated body in a corner of the battlefield. I saw such a figure many times.
We must not repeat the mistakes we made back then. Therefore, Claude said.
As soon as the low but resonant voice was transmitted to the surroundings, the people who had been making a lot of noise closed their mouths.
Even Major General Karsati, a veteran soldier, was dazzled by the sight of how he had calmed down those who had made so much noise with just a single voice.
“The enemy is the army of the dead. Now they are gathering away from this land of Granden and looking for opportunities to attack. I don’t know when the dead will attack. It’s possible that they’re just waiting for us to be exhausted. Don’t let your guard down. When nothing happens and you feel exhausted and sleepy, the light of your life will be extinguished. Be aware that you will die.”
As the soldiers saluted in unison, an elderly woman appeared from the back of the temple.
“Well, well, well. It’s a shame that all these little bastards are so quiet and listen to you, General Duras.”
“Chief Priest Dorote you are to remain in the temple. The dead are not targeting our soldiers. It is more likely to be you and the other priests who work in the temple.”
“Oh, scary, scary. …… But, the Great Hero will protect us. We know that, so there’s no need to worry.”
“Be on your guard. When the army of the dead arrives in force, you and the other priests will be needed. Be on your guard.”
“I know, I know, I know. …… However, we have a barrier system in place at all times to keep the dead out of the land of Granden. A normal dead could be annihilated with just a touch. I think it’s unfounded, though.”
“…… is not just for the dead. Assume all possibilities.”
Perhaps its barriers will be broken.
By the hand of one who is not dead.
As I was thinking about this, a voice came up that was so unlike the tense atmosphere of the place.
“When I heard about the battle, I came even though I’m not a soldier! Can Toto fight too? Oh, I’m Toto, nice to meet you!”
Everyone in the room turned their heads toward the voice.
It was a girl in light clothing for travelers who said cheerfully in a somewhat extended tone. She took off her hood, revealing her purple braided hair and bare face.
“Oh, it’s Toto-chan!”
“It’s not safe here. ……!”
Some of the soldiers were familiar with her, and they quietly called out to to the purple-haired girl.
“It’s all right. Even though I look like this, Toto is quite strong.”
“…… Toto! Why are you here, ……?”
Even Clarice was surprised by the unexpected intruder. Toto replied cheerfully.
“I heard the soldiers talking about a swarm of dead coming, right? If so, I think I can help you. This Mare Viper, which is also Toto’s beloved sword, is suited for slashing the dead.”
To his surprise, he could feel the divine energy from the sword that was stored in the sheath she wore around her waist. The divine sword is not something that can be handled by those who have been chosen by God, unless they have special powers.
Does this girl, despite her appearance, possess tremendous power? However, Claude could not help but feel a strange feeling emanating from the girl.
He was about to open he mouth when he sensed a sign – just then.
The “space” shook violently.
In an instant, the sacred barriers that covered this area of Granden’s territory were shattered into pieces.
It was an uncomfortable feeling even for a normal person, and it made all the soldiers gasp.
“Hey, the barriers have been broken. ……?”
When the Chief Priest Dorote shouted in astonishment and those around her were buzzing, Toto drew out her divine sword, revealing its blade as he said.
“Ah. Apparently, there’s no time to worry, General Duras?” (Toto)
“See, I can hear the voices of the unholy dead, can’t you?”;(Toto)
As soon as the barriers were broken, the roar of vengeance from the dead roared out. The young, bloodthirsty soldiers were all frightened by the unknown experience.
I was buzzing with excitement.
“Quiet! The enemy’s position is still far away. Quickly form up and prepare for the coming battle! We must never act alone!”
“Attention please, soldier!!” (Toto)
Immediately after Claude’s command, Toto interrupted with a loud voice.
“The dead, in this case referring to ghosts, use ‘corpses’. If one of your allies is killed in a tragic accident, the corpse will be instantly taken over by the dead and become a moving corpse that will attack you. If you hesitate there, no matter how strong the soldier is, you will be dead in no time. No matter who you’re dealing with, just slash the moving corpse without any mercy, okay?”
“They’re taking over the corpse….”
“I certainly remember learning something like that in my training. ……”
Seeing the confusion spreading, especially among the young soldiers, Toto approached Claude with an amused smile on his face.
“Toto may look like this, but she is very good at fighting. I’m sure I can help you, how about it?”
“…… Understood. If it’s fine with you, I need your help.”
“That’s what I’m talking about. You are truly indeed a great hero. I think it’s very important to have such a flexible way of thinking!”
When a beaming Toto came to his side, Claude said in a voice that no one else could hear.
“How many people have you killed in your life?” (Claude Duras)
“…… I think someone asked me the same question a while ago.” (Toto)
“If you make even the slightest strange movement, I will immediately cut off your head. Don’t ever forget that.” (Claude)
“Oh! Fine, I understand!”
Toto left Claude’s side immediately, seemingly unfazed by the disturbing words.
The vindictive voices of the dead echoed through the air.
Toward the fortified city of Granden, the signs of death were steadily approaching.