A few days had passed since Aleks and his group fought against the Lariel, the Fallen Angel. She had recovered after submitting to Aleks’s authority, being put under his dominion. This was not a simple matter, but a serious commitment. An oath of fealty given by an Angel was not something which could easily be dismissed. For Lariel, who was already in a weakened state, it would mean certain death to betray him.
Aleks’s army had already moved within the valley and they had moved to a defensible position further in, setting up their camp and beginning initial construction on a settlement. Their was ample resources in the valley and construction began immediately. It would take a significant amount of time to develop into a thriving settlement, but those former slaves who had become Aleks’s army felt that they were part of something great at that moment.
This was a new beginning for them, one they would not ever forget. It was Aleks who had given them this opportunity and even though it wasn’t something said out loud, he had already gained their hearts and their worship. They had witnessed from afar the great battle that took place between Aleks and the Fallen Angel and they had witnessed him subduing her. This left them with feelings of awe and a passionate devotion to serve him.
“You have finally recovered, but it will be a long time before your power returns to what it was.”
Aleks walked alongside Larial in an unhurried manner. If it were someone else, one would think it was the sight of two lovers walking side by side. Lenia and Nelay followed at a distance, their eyes never leaving the two. At that moment, they could understand each other’s frustration and glanced towards each other with a strange determination. Only they knew what they were thinking, but they seemed to have come to an agreement with each other. None of this mattered to the two who were currently unaware of the world around them. They were somewhere distant, not physically, but in spirit.
“Now that I am subservient to you, I have at least halted the decline in my power. I would have faded away if you had taken much longer to reach me. It was only the thought of you that kept me from falling into despair. I was abandoned and left to rot here and only you could release me. I owe you more than I could ever repay.”
Aleks glanced towards her, she had a much healthier complexion than when they fought. Her skin was still white like unmarred marble, but it was more vibrant and slightly flushed with life. Her eyes had turned to their former color, but the color of her hair still remained as black as night. This was a symbol of her sin, one she did not regret. Her wings were no longer in sight, having been hidden by her ability, but they too remained black.
“I still don’t know how I should treat you. Though I saved you, I don’t know if I can forgive you.”
A slight twinge of pain tugged at Lariel’s eyes, but she hid it well. Her everything belonged to Aleks now, and her fate was entirely up to him. She didn’t necessarily share the same feelings as Aleks did, but her emotions were inexplicably complicated. She was grateful without a doubt, but there were things she understood that could not be shared. This was a heavy burden that she could not share.
“Treat me in anyway that you feel is necessary. Regardless of how you feel towards me, I am yours. I will die otherwise.” Her reply was lacking in emotion which she didn’t intend.
This caused Aleks to look at her strangely, but he didn’t comment on it and kept quiet.
“If you wish to travel this road, you will need me and my knowledge. Although I lost quite a bit of my previous memories, there is still much I know. Any god without an Angel to serve them is not truly a god at all. Even Devil Sovereigns have Fallen Angels as servants.”
Aleks nodded and quietly contemplated her words as they walked. He looked towards the valley that now belong to him and felt a strange connection which had been slowly growing stronger. It was definitely because of the influence of the Origin and as he absorbed more of it, the connection became stronger. This land had become tied to it and he could feel his control over the land becoming stronger. He felt that once he fully consolidated his power as a Demigod, he could manipulate the land to a certain extent, but only in this valley where he had full dominion.
Noticing his quiet thoughts, Larial said, “Your connection to this land is unique. Normally, gods must create their dominions in the outer planes. You have somehow made this place your dominion and it seems that it can even spread to the lands beyond. Perhaps this whole continent could one day become your domain and then it could be a world again.”
“You speak of things so easily, but this path you speak of is one laced with great danger. I may not be able to walk it to that point.”
Lariel smiled at his words and replied, “If anyone is to walk it, then it must be you. You have a great destiny which is not just about revenge. I saw it when I came into contact with the Origin. It showed me both the beginning… and the end.”
“I don’t know what it showed you.. But I will find my own way.”
Surrounding an unfinished, and very much still under construction settlement, were formidable and already well constructed fortifications. A large and sturdy reinforced stone wall standing just over 50 feet with tall towers, catapults, ballistae, and other defensive tools, ensured that the settlement would not easily fall. There were magic reinforcements along the walls and proper patrols and garrisons throughout the stretch of walls which encircled the settlement. This was intended to be the most important stronghold for expanding onto the Steppes and had been built with the utmost care. If it had been any less formidable, the settlement would have already fallen to the endless mass of barbarians which now surrounded it. One can not even imagine the sight of over a million savages baring their fierce and gruesome bloodlust and countenance towards the defenders within. Just the sound generated by so many alone, might drown out any opposition.
The barbarian army did not just consist of Orcs and Humans, but also Trolls, Ogres, and other races which lived on the Steppes. There were hundreds of tribes of all sizes gathered and this force alone was easily a quarter of all the barbarians on the Steppes. The only reason there weren’t more was because there hadn’t been enough time to gather all of them just yet, and the barbarians had decided not to wait any longer to strike. They didn’t want the expeditionary forces to gain a stronger foothold. Despite their overwhelming numbers, the barbarians were still cautious of their enemy. They were less than a tenth of their size, but they had higher level beings overall and they were behind meticulously prepared fortifications. Of course, if the barbarians truly wanted to, they could just flood the walls with the corpses of their brethren until they gained victory. Even if they were considered savages by others, they weren’t foolish enough to throw away lives like that.
Instead, they had surrounded the city and cut off their supply lines. The expeditionary army was completely cut off from the outside world and could not receive reinforcements from their churches in any reasonable period of time. The only wildcard were the Dragons and their ilk. This was the real reason the barbarians hadn’t thrown everything at the walls just yet. They were waiting to see what move the Dragons would make. If they attacked at this time and exhausted much of their strength, the army of Dragonmen and their Dragon overlords could strike them while they were at their weakest.
Time was on the barbarians side. Even if the Dragonmen showed up, it would be a fierce fight outside the walls of the settlement and there was no guarantee of victory for either side. As more time passed, more barbarian armies would arrive bolstering their numbers. Only an appearance by the Dragon King himself might truly sway the battle towards their victory. As long as the Dragon King didn’t appear, the barbarians would not fear them at all. If the Dragon King did appear, they would need to use their ancestral totems to summon an ancestor spirit. This would require significant sacrifices, but if the situation was that dire, then it would be necessary.
For now, the barbarians stuck to harassing the defenders on a daily basis and testing their defenses without committing too much of their strength. They had already attempted several attacks along the walls at different locations and been pushed back. Soon, they would launch a real attempt to see if it were possible to breach the walls.