Within these two days I recruited all the devils that I could. By now, devils from all over had gathered near the entrance to the upper floor. Their expressions were a complex mix of emotions as they looked at the horde guarding the stairs.
Because of this, I was able to recruit the majority of the devils seeking to breakthrough. Only a small portion were mad enough to try and enslave me, but they were swiftly killed by Big 1 and the others.
The food we gained from fighting was mostly given to the small imps who were about to evolve, like No.3. The rest were given enough to sate their hunger. This was originally met with resistance by some devils, especially the more powerful large imps.
Initially, I tried explaining to them but the outcome wasn’t as expected so I had to rely on One-eye and the others to suppress them. Thankfully, there were no deaths or serious injuries although Nine-finger wasn’t happy about losing out on potential food.
As expected, No.3 evolved on the second day of our alliance. Coincidentally, I was there to witness his evolution. His muscles started bulging and his bones started enlarging themselves. His body in general got bigger. In a few minutes, the process was complete and No.3 had evolved from a small imp into a large imp.
Judging by their appearances alone, large imps were larger versions of small imps without any other defining features. However, the difference in strength was an entire tier apart.
Large imps were able to take on anywhere from five to nine small imps depending on their power. An example would that large imp who killed No.1.
Under this feeding scheme, No.3 wasn’t the only small imp who evolved. Another eight more imps evolved within these two days, bringing the total number of large imps to over 60. Unfortunately, this still wasn’t enough to face off against the horde guarding the stairs. We needed at least 150 large imps to win against them.
Our subjugated small imp count crossed the 600 mark. Unfortunately, there were at least 2,000 small imps blocking our way.
We were definitely at a numerical disadvantage but I had a plan. Do you know why humans were able to dominate Earth? Tools. That’s why!
I had long considered making weapons but Purgatory was poor resource wise, lacking metals or plants. Furthermore, we barely had any time to do so while we were rushing here.
However, now was a period of preparation. I ordered the imps to scavenge around the area for materials. Chief on the list were the larger bones from any devil corpse they could find. While a bone spear wasn’t possible, grinding these bones into a club or staff was definitely we could do.
The enemy had the high ground after all. These weapons shouldn’t fare too badly against them.
While we were out recruiting, Big 1 was in charge of the weapon making. The process was really simple so as long as the imps had the materials, making them was easy.
Just as we finished recruiting on the second day, No.4 ran onto the scene. He made his report as he panted heavily; its contents were within my expectations. “Master, a group of devils we haven’t recruited are charging up the stairs.”
“Who’s the idiot?” I was kind of curious about the identity of this potato.
Scar-face. The head of a group with 30 large imps and 400 small imps.
When we first encountered them, our side only had 25 large imps and 300 small imps, putting us at a disadvantage.
As such, Scar-face decided to provoke us, me to be exact. As for what he said, it was the same old crap. I didn’t feel like taking his crap so I summoned all my subordinates while stalling for time.
After our group assembled, Scar-face became apprehensive after taking a count of our numbers. He wisely chose to retreat. He continued wandering around and judging from this report, he must’ve recruited more forces.
Devils were all a bunch of brainless idiots. Their brains contained two things: eating and muscles. Making a suicidal charge up the stairs was definitely a possibility.
“Alright, let’s go have a look.”
I left half of the army with One-eye so he could continue recruiting while we went to check out Scar-face’s battle.
It wasn’t long before we reached a hillside near the details. Below us, a fierce battle was currently raging.
The first three steps of the stairs were breached and Scar-face was currently leading the attack on the fourth step.
Scar-face was known for being a martial expert. The reason he was called Scar-face was because of the spiderweb of scars on his face giving it a gnarled look.
In the middle of this chaotic battle, Scar-face bravely led the charge up the stairs. With a vicious thrust of his hand, he shoved a small imp he had caught right into the stone face of the stairs.
Its eyes widened as the crushing palm continued ramming its head into the stone. Seams appeared all over the small imp’s head as it crumpled under the overwhelming might of the large imp. With a visceral splat, the head broke apart in a burst of brains and blood.
A large imp came up to challenge Scar-face. He had a body that was as brawny as Scar-face’s. In fact, he seemed to have a slight edge over Scar-face in this respect.
This was definitely going to be a tough fight, or so I thought. Scar-face surprised me with his variety of battle techniques which included kicks and other human-like techniques. Most of the time, imps only employed their teeth and claws. Any battle was essentially a match of pure strength and power.
It was as if I was watching a martial artist fight with a common thug. His flurry of targeted blows went unblocked and soon he had his opponent dizzy from his ferocity. In a final show of superiority, he leaped into air and drove his elbow deep into his opponent. The large imp buckled under such a strong attack and after a few twitches, laid dead on the floor.
Scar-face was actually this strong? He actually knew some MMA moves…looks like I’ve underestimated these devils.
Each step of stairs was vast enough for over a hundred devils to fight.
From the top of these stairs, was a sea of devils rushing down. For every devil Scar-face and his subordinates took down, another would rush to fill in the gap. In order to breach the third step, he must’ve paid a heavy price. By now, his subordinates were no longer able to hold up as their death rate increased. Even Scar-face was beginning to get worried.
In just a short span of 20 minutes, a third of Scar-face’s forces got killed.
“Move out. We need to help them!”
I ordered No.4 to gather our scattered forces. After 10 minutes, he brought our remaining forces to the battlefield.
“No.4 and 5, bring these scamps along with you as you collect the corpses. With this amount, it should last us for the day.” I ordered as I stood at the base of the stairs.
“With the large imps as the lead, One-eye and No.3 I need you guys to lead a team up the stairs and bring Scar-face back, if possible bring the survivors back as well.”
After acknowledging the order, the two of them led a team of 50 bone club wielding devils up the stairs.
These bone clubs weren’t just fashioned out of any old bone. They were fashioned out of the thighbones of large imps and were extremely sturdy. Their mass was enough to ensure that any devil who got hit would be begging for mercy.
As the first three stepss were already cleared by Scar-face, One-eye and the others were able to swiftly climb over the mountain of corpses on the way up to the fourth. It wasn’t long before my subordinates joined the fight. With their aid, the tides started to turn for the defenders.
The bone clubs gave the imps a decisive advantage over the barehanded devils. With their superior range, the enemy was well within the striking range of the club before their claws could even reach them.
As they say, a meter longer was a meter stronger. The clubs left the defenders scrambling to form a counterplan.
The sudden arrival of reinforcements had boosted Scar-face’s morale. His tired face showed signs of renewed vigor as he upped the ferocity of his attacks. Our eyes met as he turned around, and I saw a sense of conflict within them.
“Scar-face, get your men to safety, my troops won’t be able to hold on for long.”
I shouted at him from the base of the stairs. Saving him was a decision made out of necessity. Due to the sheer volume of defenders, our only chance at survival was if both our groups combined. I didn’t plan on dying here so I put up with the disgust in my heart and recruited anyone useful.
As Scar-face retreated with his men, One-eye and No.3 began retreating as well. As they fled, a small portion of defenders chased after them, but having lost their height advantage, they were no longer a threat.
These devils had completely given into their bloodlust and charged recklessly into our army.
One-eye turned around to handle these mad devils. To him, it was merely a swing of his bone club. A moment later, a large imp was lying unconsciousness on the floor; a conspicuous bump on his head.
The other large imps joined in the fun as well. With a swing of their clubs, the leading defenders were swiftly taken care of. The rest of the defenders took a hint and quickly retreated up the stairs…
As we returned to our temporary base, I got No.4 and 5 to hand out the collected corpses to the army while Big 1 and No.3 were sent off to harvest the souls.
Scar-face walked in front of my pondering figure with a blackened expression and stammered slightly before saying: “Why did you save me?”
I glanced at the ever-encroaching sea of blood and replied coldly: “Tomorrow is the last day, once tomorrow’s over, all this will be a part of the blood sea. I said it before, I will unite all our force in order to survive. That’s why I saved you. Because you were still useful to me.”
“…” Scar-face fell silent before lowering his head and saying: “I’ll accept your command for now, however, this is only true until we cross that entrance.”
“Alright, get your subordinates to rest a while. No.4 and 5 will hand out the food to you guys. Because of that battle, our food stocks should be sufficient. Oh right, our rules here is that all souls belong to me.” I turned to him with a deadpan expression. “Any objections?”
“Then I’ll be going.” As I finished saying this, I left.
“Where are you going? The blood tide is almost here.”
“To recruit more devils! The blood tide being so near is precisely why I should continue recruiting. The threat of impending doom will aid our recruitment efforts tremendously. Every minute is precious right now.”
As my back faded into the distance, a voice echoed from behind me: “I’ll admit my defeat now, but just you wait! I won’t give up. One day, I will make you become my demoness willingly!”
In the midst of my brooding, this voice struck like a bolt of lightning, nearly causing me to fall. Just as I was about to berate him, another voice echoed from another side, the source, Big 1: “Master is this one’s! Even if it costs this one his life, this one will not relent!”
“Me too, I won’t give up as well!”
This was One-eye.
“Go die in a fiery hole! Get to work!” My chest heaved as I shouted back at them, their fawning clearly getting to me.
What the heck happened to my body…
No.4 walked over at this moment and reported sights of more wandering devils. Before leaving to recruit them, I inquired about the status of Scar-face’s team. From his report, they lost two thirds of their forces and only had slightly over 10 large imps and around 70 to 80 small imps left.
A loss of over 20 large imps and over 200 small imps in a short span of 30 minutes. This battlefield was truly a meat grinder. There was still 10 more steps of the stairs that weren’t breached as well. Furthermore, the quality and quantity of devils will only get higher as we progress up the stairs. I’m starting to believe that there really is a two-star head imp atop those stairs…
Forget it, we will deal with it as it comes. Thinking too far ahead will do us no good. All I need to do right now is find a way to survive.
Nicole, where are you? Are you well?
Even while in Purgatory, I still miss you. I hope we can meet again. I’ll continuing praying for the day that we can meet again… even on my deathbed…
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.