Chapter 30: Bone Shield

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“No.3, stay behind, One-eye and Big 1 go subjugate those large imps. Nine-finger, you’re in charge of cleaning the battlefield. We are resting here.” I returned the black sword to One-eye before finding a relatively clean rock to sit on.

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Ever since reincarnating into a devil, it had been one exciting and tense day after the next. Whether it was killing or being threatened, I had gotten used to it already. Recently, I’ve had some strange impulses. For example, wanting to kill someone with my own hands. I even began to experience mood swings. Simply put, I was becoming more emotional.

And it wasn’t just normal emotional changes, they were extreme and unpredictable. One moment I was laughing and joking around and the next I was waving my sword, lusting after blood.

I guess this was my devil instincts at work; chaotic.

Right now I had three pressing questions to answer; if I continued down this path, what’s at the end? Or should I say what’s waiting for me at the end?

Consuming souls was the common gift of all devils. Due to the lack of meat, I was able to gain some insights regarding this gift.

If my subordinates were to solely subsist on souls, it would take one soul of their equivalent level, in order to ensure that they didn’t starve to death. Three souls satisfied them while five filled their hunger. The hungriest among my imps, No.3, felt bloated after eating 10 one-star souls. He had even grown slightly bigger as a result; his strength increasing along with it.

As for me…well, I couldn’t really say. When I was in the blood sea, it took me almost ten thousand souls to evolve, and that only happened at a crucial moment. Furthermore, consuming souls never actually sated me, which meant that I had a bottomless pit for a stomach!

The third question was; where did those devils we just met come from? Were they here from the start? Or were they from the blood sea like us, but just from a different entrance?

I knew so little about this world after all. But I believe given the vastness of the blood sea, there were bound to be other regions like the one I was in. The beach I woke up on was probably just a drop of sand in a vast desert. In other unknown regions, there were probably other entrances as well!

Well, there was no point in thinking about these questions I could not answer. I’ll just question a captive.

“No.3, get me a captive. There’s something I want to ask him.”

“Understood, Master.”

A short while later, No.3 brought a similar looking large imp to me. It was one of the captives from the previous battle. Speaking of which, our casualties were once again minimized thanks to our weapons. We only suffered 30 deaths while the other side lost over a hundred large imps.

“This is my Master.” No.3 dropped into a half kneel as he introduced me. The imp’s first impression of me was shock and admiration. The kind that you showed upon seeing a work of art; I bet he didn’t have the desire to possess me either. It was precisely this that pissed me off, but I didn’t beat him to death in the end.

After standing there in awe for a moment, he finally lowered his body in a half kneel and greeted me: “Master.”

The large imp had a deep and rough voice, the kind you would instantly associate with a crass person.

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“Rise, both of you.” As I turned to the large imp, I continued in a deadpan voice: “I have something to ask you.”

“Yes, Master.”

“Where did you guys come from?”

The large imp scratched his head in confusion as he stared at me silently. My question seemed to have stumped him so I had no choice but to be more specific: “Do you know of the Blood Sea?”

“Blood Sea? I’m aware of it, that’s where I came from.” His intelligence might be lacking, but he definitely remembered the place where he was born in. “When I had awoken, I found myself in the blood sea…”

He then recounted his journey following the two head imps all the way from the blood sea up to this level.

Those two head imps had teamed up since the blood sea. Because of their inherited memory, they knew about the entrance right from the start; and had rushed to blockade that entrance. They ended up succeeding in doing so.

As the blood sea washed up all the corpses onto the land of the undead, they got their subordinates to feast on the corpse mountain while simultaneously suppressing their evolution in order to maintain their rule. Later on, they faced a situation similar to us where the corpses started turning into zombies. At which point they had to escape as well; turning into wanderers.

“So you’re saying you are about to evolve?”

“Yes, Master.”

Among my subordinates, the ones who were about to evolve were No.3, Big 1, One-eye and Nine-finger. The current situation in the land of the undead was that we didn’t have enough food so evolving was especially difficult. Thankfully, I knew dark alchemy and was able to create weapons to make up for the difference in strength.

“No.3, put down your weapon. I want the two of you to spar. Oh right, no killing each other.”

The sight of two large imps fighting was as expected, a no holds barred match. A fist here and a fist there. Just when you think he’s going to throw a fist at you, he kicks you instead and bites you.

Due to my strict order of not killing each other, they refrained from using any killing blows; so the match lasted for minutes without a winner being decided. However, as they were allowed to use their teeth, both of them were soon covered in bloody teeth marks. Thankfully, their regeneration rate was pretty high.

“Alright, that’s all for now.”

After separating from No.3, the large imp stared at me as if something had just occurred to him. He immediately knelt down: “Master.”

“Mhm, from today onwards, you are Big 4.”

One-eye and Big 1 had just finished subjugating the remaining large imps. There was a total of 200 new additions to my large imp army, bringing the count to over 700.

The battle had given us a supply of 100 corpses to hand out. My plan was to prioritize those who were about to evolve, and so I got One-eye to set aside half of the corpses for them. As for the other half, I set it aside for my named subordinates, in hopes that they would evolve soon.

“Master, these are the souls you wanted.” Following Nine-finger’s voice, I turned towards the souls laid out on the ground. I activated my soul consumption ability and like a stream of milk, they flowed into me. Thanks to this sumptuous meal, my maximum mana count received a boost as well. My body began to heat up and…that slight fragrance reared its disgusting head once more…

S***, that fragrance again!

This was Big 4’s first encounter with this alluring scent, and needless to say, it had a noticeable effect on him. His nose perked up as he sniffed and turned towards me. However, with the obvious look of displeasure on my face, No.3 immediately stepped in and gave his shoulder a slap; bringing him back from that bewitched state.

Exactly what is happening to my body…what is up with this fragrance…

Two days later, No.5 brought back news once more. The zombie horde had split up once more, forming three hordes now. Each horde had around 3,000 members.

After compiling the information from Big 4 as well, I concluded that the land of the dead was connected to the blood sea; all the devils who escaped the blood sea would end up here. Because of the vastness of this place coupled with the random direction that each devil took, and the various undead ambushes, the devils we met later on would probably be much stronger. In contrast, the numbers would fall as well.

I ended up setting aside most of my mana to create more weapons. That encounter with the skeleton archers made me consider the possibility of defensive weapons like shields so that my devils can defend against long range attacks.

The bone shields that I made were 80 cm long and 50 cm wide and had the shape of a U-shaped scutum. [1]

The shields were all 2 cm thick, as I knew that the large imps’ strength would allow them to wield such a heavy shield. Thus, the added weight wasn’t much of an issue, and it also boosted their defensive prowess. Not to mention this added weight made it perfect for shield bashing. With such utility, these shield were a decent set of equipment.

As for the costs, it cost me roughly the same amount of mana, but twice the amount of bones to create. All in all, I was pretty satisfied with this new addition to our arsenal.

After another two days of hunting and replenishing my mana with soul flames, I was able to squeeze out 25 sets of swords and shields. Other than my named imps, I was able to use these to form a 20-imp strong team of personal guards.

As we continued our aimless wander for another half a day, we came upon a flat clearing. It was littered with various remains of an ancient battle. From the looks of it, no one had touched this place. There were corpses littered all around with weapons damaged beyond repair by the sands of time.

It was another ancient battlefield. I wanted to circle around it but it was just too big. From a glance, I was unable to determine the end of this battlefield. Judging by its size, it must’ve been an epic battle of at least a hundred thousand men. As we closed in, the scent of the living stirred the slumbering undead. Countless withered hands shot up out of the ground in a tiny eruption of soil and dust.

The bones began forming into skeletons while the zombies crawled out of their abode in the earth. As they wailed in their lifeless voice, an eerie wind blew through the field, welcoming a group of deathly green vengeful ghosts.

*whoosh whoosh*

A rain of arrows blotted out the sky as nearly a hundred skeleton archers fired off into the air.

“Get into formation! Raise your shields!”

Upon entering the battlefield, I had already ordered my personal guards to stand in front of the army in formation. The intention was to prepare for such an attack. A row of 20 imps wielding a bone sword in their right hand and a bone shield on their left stood ready to block the incoming arrows. With a simultaneous hoist of their shield arms, they welcomed the incoming arrows.

As the arrows landed, the unique sound of wood crashing into bones echoed in the air. Some of the arrows were stuck in the shields, but with a slight shake, they fell off. While the others, failed to even penetrate the shield slightly and got deflected harmlessly.

Outside of two unfortunate scamps who, were in the range of the arrows and yet not under the defensive shield, dying, there were no casualties on our side. Those 20 shield-bearing imps were completely fine as well.

“Form up behind the personal guards and charge with them as the spearhead!” I shouted an order before falling in behind the shields as well with No.3 and Big 4. As I did so, I made sure to watch out for those floating vengeful ghosts circling above us. They were definitely going to attack us, the question was when.

One-eye took the lead as he brought his follower, Nine-finger, and his other subordinates in breaking through the skeleton and zombie wall. A few minutes later, we reached the skeleton archers. All this while, they continued firing at us but unfortunately for them, our shields were ready and waiting.

Low level undeads were as such. They had no intelligence to speak of and didn’t know how to change targets even after seeing the shields block them. Instead they focused their attention on these devils instead.

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