The first volley of bone spears had caused a total of 10 imps to die on our side. Of these 10, only 2 were guardsmen. They were the two unlucky souls who couldn’t react in time to the sneak attack and had died with a javelin through their brains. The rest of the guardsmen were able to harmlessly deflect the bone spears sent their way.
The reserves weren’t that fortunate however. They had no bone shields and given that they were merely 50 meters away from the enemy, they could only dodge to the left and right of this narrow hallway.
Damned mages…at least I thought they were skeletal mages…
However, things weren’t as simple as I thought. The enemies which I mistakenly labelled as mages were actually skeletal javelineers.
They resemble the usual skeleton warriors we’ve met so far with only a level variation in strength. Their one defining feature was the weapon they used, or should I say weapons. They not only wielded a long spear but also carried three javelins on their backs.
There were at least 20 of them within the undead ranks and all of them had another bone javelin ready in here. Judging from their stance, a second wave of javelins was about to come.
As the second volley left their hands, I immediately conjured up a bone wall. The mana coursed through my veins as I hastily channelled whatever I could into the spell. Within a mere second, the bone wall had risen to an impressive height of 10 meters.
*crack crack crack*
The hastily erected wall soaked up all the incoming javelins like a sponge. While they weren’t able to pass through my wall, they managed to pierce through it before finally losing their velocity.
With the second volley taken care of, I immediately cancelled the wall causing the 20 javelins to fall harmlessly onto the ground. There was only one volley left…
Upon seeing my bone wall crumble into nothingness, the javelineers prepared to launch their last volley. With their javelins in hand, they broke into a running charge before hurling them at us.
With the added momentum behind the javelins, I knew that this wall needed to be stronger than the last. Thankfully, I had already prepared my second bone wall before the javelins had even left their bony hands. With that additional time to channel my spell, I managed to erect a sturdier wall that successful blocked them all.
“Men, charge!” The moment my second bone wall crumbled, One-eye led the charge at the ammoless javelineers. As expected, without their ranged weapons, they whipped out their Long spears and met our charge head on.
While my 58 guardsmen had a shorter range than them, their shields and numbers more than made up for this. With nearly a three to ratio one, we swiftly wiped them out.
All in all, we lost 10 imps and all of these were from the first volley. The subsequent volleys were blocked by me and so there were no further casualties.
As they began sweeping the battlefield, I approached One-eye: “What’s going on, why did we end up losing so many men?”
“Master, we were ambushed…they suddenly appeared out of nowhere…”
He hastily explained himself upon noticing my darkened expression.
According to his explanation, some of these skeletons were originally hanging off the side of the walls harmlessly while the rest laid on the ground without any traces of soul flame in them.
He assumed they were dead but decided on the more cautious route of scouting them out first. Who knew that these skeletons would suddenly come to life and attack them before the scouts were even dispatched.
Sigh, in the end, our lack of ranged weapons cost us lives once more.
“No.5 go bring over a javelin.”
Back in the Land of the Dead, the weapons wielded by the undead were extremely simplistic and worn out. For the most part, they were even worse than the bone clubs we had. However, these javelins were slightly different; their penetration power and ranged capabilities had piqued my interest.
And so, I had No.5 fetch a javelin for me. Who knew that this potato would, in a moment of curiosity, try to test out its tensile strength and actually break it in half….
“Mas…Master…”He looked down at the broken javelin and stammered with an expression that looked like he was on the verge of crying: “Master…I didn’t mean to…it’s…it’s just too fragile.”
Without even waiting for my reply, he bent down and picked up another javelin. With a slight application of force, the javelin broke in half once more.
Knowing how weak he was, it probably wasn’t his fault. There were a lot of large imps who were stronger than him and so if the javelin couldn’t even withstand his strength, it must’ve been really fragile. After all, the only reason why he was a lieutenant in my army was because of his long service.
If that’s the case, the only logical explanation for their penetrating power was that they only worked for those skeletal javelineers.
Damn…these javelins could’ve solved our lack of ranged weapons. To think that even in death, they wanted to deny us this bit of benefit…how much they must’ve hated us.
With nothing left of interest here, I distributed this batch of soul flames among the combatants and continued our journey.
Navigating this maze was truly a pain in the butt. One could easily get lost in its winding tunnels if they weren’t paying attention. As such, I tried my best to stick to a straight line. If we absolutely had to make a turn, I would always choose the right side.
Truth be told, the easiest way to navigate through a maze was to literally walk in a straight line, knocking down any walls one encountered on the way.
This aggressive style of navigation was naturally known to me as well. I had even ordered my subordinates to test it out but after bashing at the bone wall for a period of time, we gave up. Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t even leave a scratch on its bony white surface.
And so, we continued our aimless wandering for another hour or so at which point we heard several strange cries coming from the hallway in front of us. Amidst these strange cries were the sounds of an ongoing battle.
As we got closer to the source, I could make out two distinct cries. One resembled the chittering of a mouse while the other resembled a canine howling. Is this the famous “rodent-nabbing dog being nosey”? Of course not, it’s just my imagination running wild again. 
(Note: It’s taken from a phrase which roughly translates as “a dog catches a mouse, deciding to be a busybody”. The origin behind this is that a cat is in charge of catching mice while the dog is in charge of guarding the house. And so, a dog who catches a mouse is nothing but a busybody.)
“Master, there’s a battle ahead.”
Having learnt from the previous ambush, I decided to send out a scout the moment I heard that strange cry. I gave No.5 and Vick a quick glance before quickly deciding on No.5. He was our most experienced scout after all.
In comparison, Vick had the intelligence level of an idiot and hadn’t undergone any training.In fact, he wasn’t even able to talk. A job so full of prospects definitely isn’t a good fit for Vick.
No.5 being the lazy bum that he was, was reluctant at first but after receiving a kick and a glare from me, he obediently went about his duties. As he left, he still had a grin on his face as if he wanted to be kicked.
Since he’s back, it probably meant that he managed to get a sneak peek at the battle.
“Who’s fighting over there?”
“Errr…it seems like the Abbadon Rodents and hellhounds are having a turf war.” Given that he had never seen either of them before, that pause must’ve been him searching through his inherited memories.
“Abbadon Rodents and hellhounds?” One-eye began to search through his memories as well before continuing: “Shouldn’t those ratmen be in Abbadon? And aren’t those hellhounds supposed to be guarding Purgatory? What are they doing here?”
To every devil, their inherited memories were more akin to books than memories. If you didn’t flip through this book, you wouldn’t know about the information stored within. Furthermore, each devil had a different set of memories. Take me for example, my inherited memories were extremely little. Compared to the other devils, it was pretty much nil.
In other words, I was an anomaly within the devils.
“Alright, let’s go have a look.” I said, the excitement barely contained within my voice; to someone like me who had no memories of these species, they were extremely fascinating.
The Abbadon Rodents were a bipedal rodent that surprisingly didn’t have the chubby exterior of a house mouse. Instead, they had a lean cut body which stood at around 1.5 meters tall. Based on their appearance alone, they seemed to be at the level of one-star.
Facing off against them were the hellhounds. They were roughly 1.2 to 1.3 meters tall and resembled a large black dog. Their combat level was one-star as well.
Judging by the 50 over corpses lying around the raging battlefield, they must’ve been fighting since a while ago. Of these 50, a large portion of them were hellhounds.
While the hellhounds had a slight strength advantage over the rodents, the rodents had a vast numerical advantage over the dogs. Just from a glance alone, I managed to count up to 200 rodents.
The Abbadon rodents’ claws weren’t particularly sharp but their fangs were deadly. On top of being as sharp as a razor, they contained a toxin as well. While this toxin wasn’t enough to kill the physically strong hellhounds, it was still able to weaken them significantly. One bite was enough to cause their limbs to go soft.
It was a quick-acting toxin that started with minor signs of discomfort before rapidly weakening its host’s strength.
However, if one were to assume that the hellhounds were weak just based on this, they would be making a grave mistake. The dogs not only had a set of razor sharp claws but also had a bite force that could crush the bones of the rodents easily. Furthermore, they were able to channel their rage into a breath of fire.
If they had equal numbers, the ones on the losing end would be those rodents instead. However, that “if” never came to pass. The numerical difference was simply too large and it was only a matter of time before the dogs lost.
“Master, should we help them?” Nine-finger pointed at the two sides before continuing with a slight stammer: “Isn’t this battle a little too fierce?”
One-eye coldly cut in: “Help? Help who?”
“Err…how about those giant dogs.” Feeling the pressure of his big brother’s gaze, Nine-finger immediately put on his ingratiating smile before throwing out a random answer.
“But the Abbadon rodents are winning right now.” No.5 pulled his eyes away from the battlefield and said: “Let’s help the giant rats.”
“I feel that we should help the hellhounds as well. After all, they are fellow creatures from Purgatory.” No.3 chipped in before turning around to Big 4: “Big 4, what do you think?”
“Help the hellhounds.” The ever-taciturn Big 4 expressed his support for No.3’s opinion.
“You are all wrong.” One-eye shook his head dismissively before saying: “We shouldn’t help either side but instead let them fight it out. Once they are exhausted, we swoop in and turn them both into mincemeat.”
Ruthless! That ruthless suggestion definitely suited One-eye’s personality. He even wanted to turn them into food.
“Well, it doesn’t matter what we say in the end, it’s Master who will make the final decision.” That conniving potato…he knew that his suggestion had garnered zero support and decided to dump the problem onto me.
“Master, what do you think?”
“Me? I kinda like doggies.” I smiled slightly and waved my hands: “Go help those hellhounds.”
While my devils all had an evil personality, they had one thing going for them, and that was their obedience. As long as it was an order given by me, they will follow it to the letter.
“Shieldbearers advance, sabre wielders take up position behind them. Guardsmen, you’re on the flanks.” As I gave out the familiar orders, I prepared my magic as well.
As my devils slowly advanced, I stepped atop my rising bone wall and created a makeshift vantage point over the entire battlefield. With the grimoire and egg secured by my left hand, I raised my remaining arm and pointed it at the densest point in the ratmen crowd. Target: locked on!
Fireball, charging up…
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.