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As we left the village, I attempted to track the chipped-horn imp by following his footsteps. However, that plan ended prematurely after two kilometers of tracking.
The footsteps had disappeared at that point. No, rather than disappearing, they were covered up by the large mass of undead footprints.
As for the source of these footprints, they were wandering about in front of me at this very moment. Just as I spotted them, they spotted us as well and charged at us with their signature wailing.
Darkness Arrow! Bone Wall! Flame Whip!
I beat a hasty retreat behind my devils while throwing out a myriad of spells, all the while with my two bodyguards by my side. No.3 and Big 4 were itching to fight, but held back out of concern for my safety.
As for One-eye and the others, they weren’t charged with protecting me at all times; so they charged with reckless abandon towards the undead, swapping injuries for injuries as they viciously attacked. It wasn’t long before the battlefield was a field of properly dead undead.
While it was a complete victory for us, the trail had ended here. Since I wasn’t a hunter or a scout, I didn’t possess the necessary tracking skills to continue the chase. In the mass of undead footprints, all I could make out were said footprints.
Perhaps…she’s beyond us now…
It wasn’t that I didn’t try hard enough to save her, there just wasn’t enough time to do so. That chipped-horn imp was simply too strong for the normal imps to handle. So I decided to handle the rest of the head imps before pursuing that chipped-horn imp. Once our forces were gathered, we could then pursue this stronger target.
If I had recklessly chased after him, the most likely outcome would’ve been that I got captured as well, and the other head imps from the chapel would’ve gotten off scot free.
“Master…” Seeing me stand there in silence, made them worried. One-eye cautiously approached me but just as he was about to continue talking, I glared at him, frightening him into silence.
“Leave.” I don’t even know how a glare was able to terrify a devil, but at least I knew how cold my tone was at this moment. Without waiting for their response, I turned around and left with only the grimoire as my company.
As I slowly made my way to the village, a storm of complex emotions brewed within my mind. Behind my silent figure was my army of subordinates who were just as silent. They knew what awaited them if any one of them spoke up.
As the sight of those damned head imps entered my vision, I pointed at their corpses and said: “You guys can have these corpses, the souls as well. You had better evolve after this…”
“…” The imps looked at each other helplessly. It’s not like they didn’t want to evolve faster as well. That last sentence was definitely uncalled for.
However, it was to be expected. When a person was in a bad mood, they tend to do things that at the best could be explained as [He’s in a bad mood], and at worst be called [Mad].
After resting in the village for half a day, I led the entire army in the direction where the tracks ended. Even though I knew that there was basically no hope that he would continue down this path, I still chose to do so.
Perhaps it was merely out of gratitude or perhaps it was merely to vent my anger, but either way it’s not because I liked her…lower tiered devils had a pretty unique appearance after all. Definitely not my taste. Besides imps were simply too low level for me, after all this brother has even seen a fallen angel and had even teased her.
As we continued down the last known direction of that chipped-imp, the path took us through several detours that roughly formed a triangle.
As we searched, we were set upon by undead from time to time. Whenever their numbers were small, we wiped them out. As for when their numbers were large enough to cause deaths on our side, we avoided them completely and searched in a different location. Logically speaking, that chipped-imp wouldn’t have passed through those areas either. Instead he would’ve avoided them by passing through the opening between the undead hordes.
And so three days passed in the blink of an eye. My determined efforts still have not borne any results. While I was able to make use of this time to craft more equipment, the lack of results still frustrated me.
The only good news that came out during these three days, was that No.3 and Big 4 had evolved into two-star head imps. Big 4 was the first of the two to evolve. It happened last night after a round of feeding.
The skin on his forehead began to split open and two goat-like horns slowly grew out of his head. His body grew larger as well. His stature grew taller while his limbs grew significantly stouter, creating a strange imbalance in his body proportions. He was actually really tall, but thanks to his limbs he looked like a short and stubby imp.
Next was No.3. His evolution was about the same as Big 4, resulting in the two of them looking nearly the same. If they stood next to each other, they would’ve looked like a pair of identical twins.
By now, they were taller than One-eye and the others by more than a head. They stood at a towering 2 meters tall and truly looked like a pair of mountains. If one didn’t look carefully, they might miss the slender me standing in between them.
With their new body proportions, their old weapons were no longer suitable for them. The bone broadswords looked and felt more like toy swords in their giant hands. The bone shield wasn’t much better as well, looking more like a squarish buckler than a scutum.
And so, I decided to change their shields into a large rounded shield similar to those worn by Spartans on their forearms. I enhanced the overall thickness of the shield along with widening it into a circular shape. It was now 1.5m in diameter and could be secured to their forearm, making it not only convenient but safe as well.
With these new and improved round shields, No.3 and Big 4 were even sturdier than the shieldbearers thanks to their improved defenses.
Their weapons were remade as well into a pair of spiked maces. The entire mace was 2 meters long with the handle being 1.6 meters and the spiked head being 40 cm long. With its hedgehog-like appearance, it sent shivers down one’s spine just by looking at it
The reason why I chose a mace instead of a sword wasn’t because I liked maces, but because of a head imp’s frightening strength. I still clearly remembered that shocking scene were the chipped-imp broke through my bone wall. That scene made my heart jump into my throat.
Besides, for the simple minded imps, sword techniques and the like were clearly not suited for them. A simple but effective mace was better suited to their brute strength.
Given that these two had finally evolved, my guess was that One-eye and others were on the verge of evolving as well. In that case, we need to pick up our hunting pace. The faster they evolved the better.
Just as I thought about this matter, No.5 who I had not seen in days, sprinted into view. With his body covered in dirt, he ran with all his might as he shouted for help. Behind him was an army of 100 undead chasing him.
Over 10 skeleton archers halted in their tracks and fired off a volley of arrows at the escaping No.5. As he turned around and saw the arrows raining down upon him, he nearly peed in his figurative pants. He immediately adopted what could only be described evasive maneuvers.
From tumbling to crawling, he performed a series of unpredictable movements as he attempted to dodge the incoming arrows. Surprisingly, they were extremely effective; with him coming out of that hail of arrows with just a few minor scrapes. Not a single arrow managed to get a clean hit on him!
What the heck, when did you learn such an impressive skill? I had honestly thought that he was done for.
He cried as he jumped towards me in a flying embrace.
“Scram! Don’t come near the Master’s sacred body!”
No.3 raised his newly minted round shield and blocked the flying imp, sending him tumbling away with a pained cry.
“Arrgh…Master, it hurts…”
“Hmph, you deserved it.”
Nine-finger stuck out his tongue at No.5 before turning to look at the new weapons wielded by No.3 and Big 4 with envious eyes. He was probably unsettled by this sight. Putting aside Big 4, when they first encountered me, he was definitely stronger than No.3, but in the end the one who evolved first wasn’t him or One-eye, but the relatively low key imp, No.3. As for why this was so, perhaps it was due to talent?
Ignoring his pitiful expression, I turned to look at the oncoming skeleton army with furrowed brows. They were merely zero-star with some one-star archers and soldiers thrown into the mix.
“Master, watch out!” While I was busy evaluating their army, the archers weren’t idle either. With a mighty pull of their bows, they took a distant shot in my direction.
Due to my forward location and close proximity to No.5, the majority of the incoming arrows ended up heading towards me instead of No.5. Thankfully, No.3 and Big 4 had quick reflexes and were able to react to this attack. With a step forward and a raise of their left hands, they covered their heads with their round shields.
The round shields had an astonishing diameter of 1.5m which created an extremely wide defensive barrier against the arrows. With the two of them combined, it was as if a giant umbrella had appeared above my head. Not only shielding me from the rain of arrows but also the light as well; as my surroundings got dark in an instant.
*thud thud thud thud…* A wave of thuds echoed in the air as the arrows landed on the shields instead, leaving me unharmed.
“Master, you’ve created another batch of equipment? They look pretty handy, can you give me one—”
The potato had long since hidden beneath the safety of the shield umbrella by crouching at Big 4’s feet…he knew that No.3 couldn’t stand him so he chose Big 4. However, it turned out that Big 4 didn’t like him either, and kicked him away after the arrow rain ended; before he even had the chance to flatter Big 4.
Not expecting Big 4’s lack of respect, he immediately got to his feet and rebuked him: “Hey, newcomer, don’t think that you are so great just because you’ve evolved. I’m a founding member of this army. Other than third brother, I’m the next oldest member in Master’s army…”
“Shut up, just get your ass back there if you don’t want to die.” I hated people who were useless and yet loved to wave their qualifications around.
No.5 was startled by my shout and immediately ran to my back to take shelter, his embarrassed look now gone with the winds.
At this moment, One-eye ordered the shieldbearers to setup their shield formation. As of now, we had 20 heavy shields with 20 corresponding bearers. Unlike our previous battles, they advanced with the heavy shields instead of driving them into the ground to form a shield wall. Behind them were the 10 Mo saber wielders; closely following.
The newly replenished guardsmen squad now had 22 members in it, they were stationed by my side, ready to protect me with their shields.
“Master, we want to test out our new weapons.” The pair looked at each other momentarily before No.3 stepped forward to present their request.
Truth be told, as the head of my bodyguards, requesting that both of them leave my side was slightly unreasonable, but I could understand their desire to test out their new weapons.
“Go ahead, and bring the guardsmen along with you. I’ll be fine standing behind the shieldbearers.”
“Many thanks Master!”
Having received my approval, the two muscle heads leaped into the fray all the while yelling with excitement.
Did you guys have to be so happy? It’s not like I sent you off to get married…
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.