A large barren field sat somewhere near the border of Aberis and the Ost Republic. Two large armies were sitting on either side of a wide no man’s land. They were lined up and ready to charge, but were holding off for just a bit longer. If the two armies collided, it was hard to say which side would win. Prince Edward had done his best to gather as many people as he could here. However, the armies that should have made up the difference in this battle, the former armies gathered by Deek, were nowhere in sight.
The primary group here were those who were close allies with the throne, the border patrols, and the armies maintained by General Tibult. It was a decent army, but the enemies were made of Osterians. There was a saying that it took three humans to match one Osterian on the battlefield. This was perhaps an exaggeration, but there was no denying their battle prowess. When it came to a full on battle, major losses were inevitable.
Thus, Prince Edward was unwilling to give the order to invade. He was unwilling to push that last line. He had been waiting for several hours for something, anything, to end this standstill. In fact, at this point, if Eliana had married into the Ost Republic and appeared on the border, Prince Edward likely would have folded, and the king of the Ost Republic would have succeeded in ending this conflict for now.
After all, his plans for world domination had been delayed thanks to that foolish princess and that dumb lord. He had lost the soul he had wanted, and new plans had to be made. It was too early to start a conflict now that he didn’t have that god soul. Thus, he had planned to end this confrontation through manipulation. He was good at biding his time. Of course, the humans didn’t know he was the reincarnated demon lord, and even among the Osterians, only the higher generals even suspected his true form.
“How much longer until this wedding is over?” Demon Lord Aberis demanded in an irritating voice.
“Patience, my son. You will have everything you want soon.” Xin stoically responded.
Deek had once accused Xin of being turned into a mindless puppet controlled by King Xerin, but that was only partially true. A complete puppet would need to be controlled at all times. This was far closer to brainwashing. The original Xin was still somewhere deep down inside, but that part of her was inaccessible. When Xin had to face the worst things that Xerin made her do, her face grew slack and her mind grew dim. This was likely some instinctual mechanism that she did to cope with the horrors of her current reality. It was the only part of her original personality that remained. Of course, the demon lord didn’t see any reason to fix the misconceptions about such a thing.
Aberis shook his head. In a few more hours, he’d be able to return home. Then, he’d begin work on Eliana’s child, turning it into the incubator he needed to harvest a new god soul. He couldn’t wait to see the surprised look on General Draven Nova’s face when he sticks it into his pregnant wife, only to have his soul sucked out into her baby! Then, it would just be a matter of allowing the baby to be born and consuming its soul. He might not even wait. Consuming mother and child alike suited him just as much.
He wouldn’t have to wait another sixteen years as he had feared. He could have the soul he wanted as soon as next spring! Everything he desired would become his!
At that moment, directly in the middle of the battlefield, a portal opened. Out stepped a man and the end to all of Demon Lord Aberis’s scheming.
This was the third portal I had created, but this one I had placed exactly where I had wanted to be. Nearly five thousand men on both sides immediately looked down at the mysterious figure that appeared out of nowhere. There was enough distance that most wouldn’t be able to make me out clearly. However, I could see them. I had added the 5-point dungeon skill Eagle Eyes, so I could make out every person in the army with ease.
In the past, I had ignored this skill. I considered it a waste for just slightly better vision. Now, I began to realize just how much having this sight allowed me to quickly take in a situation. I bet the dungeon store was a treasure trove of useful abilities that I had once just ignored in exchange for an extra job, more experience, or a portal. My understanding of my abilities was growing as I did, it seemed. My body glowed as I found another ability I quite liked. It was another 5 DP skill called Booming Voice.
“I am Deek Deekson, Hero of Chalm, Lord of Western Aberis.” My voice roared, even startling some horses a distance away.
I could see clearly from both sides. Demon Lord Aberis’s expression had grown impossibly grim. Meanwhile, Prince Edward’s mouth fell open in shock.
“This man is not King Xerin, but the Demon Lord Aberis, who possessed King Xerin’s body. He seeks to reinstate the demon lord empire that he once controlled. He will fail.”
My words were like a shockwave through both armies. Those from Aberis looked around in confusion and wide-eyed wonder. Those on the Ost Republic sighed immediately tried to deny or discredit my words in their minds. I was just a crazy dissenter trying to stir up unrest, or something like that.
“Demon Lord Aberis. You’ve died many deaths. Your father once killed you, and you survived by clinging to the sorceress Calypso. Elaya and Xin killed you, and you survived by clinging to Xin and Aberis’s baby. I killed you, and you’ve survived by possessing the body of an infant baby. I will no longer allow you to cling to life anymore. This is your end, here!” I pointed Alysia directly at the man.
He gave a small gesture, and the puppet named Xin began to race out, coming straight for me. None of the other armies moved, waiting to see the outcome of this battle. It was an old hero of the Ost Republic against a new hero of Aberis. Most believed that I would be defeated instantly. Even those that had seen me defeat General Nova were no exception. Nova was one enemy, and Xin was on another level. Although she hadn’t been in battle for many years, her name was still revered and was a major reason Prince Edward had been resisting going to battle. He had no one at a level that he felt could take down Xin.
I was also curious how powerful this Xin was. The Xin that I knew was a shadow of her former self, but then again, so was this Xin. At least this Xin hasn’t been weakened over the last twenty years and maintained her strength after having her children. At least this Xin had her Osterian blood and strength.
“Come on, Princess Hero, let’s see what you’ve got!”
She reached me, immediately attacking with a blade. I met her with Alysia.
“I’m surprised you didn’t cut her blade in half immediately,” I said.
“Powerful swordsman like Mother can infuse their blade with their mana. This works ideally for magic blades, but any blade can accept a level of mana. This will cause it to be reinforced. The reason we were able to annihilate General Nova’s blade so quickly was that you had caught him off guard. He hadn’t expected us to attack which such a powerful sword. Mother is far more cautious.” Alysia explained.
“Can’t you cut mana?”
“Yes, but not easily, and especially not when it’s interwoven with the structure of an already solid physical object. Just because I can cut a string doesn’t mean if you weave all those strings into a rope that I would be able to cut that.”
So, it was like that. I felt a little sad. I had been growing used to cleaving down enemies in a single sweep. I supposed it was only fitting that such a trick would only work on the particularly weak enemies. A stronger enemy had various tricks to defend themselves. Of course, as Alysia grew stronger, and I did as well, our ability to handle stronger enemies would also increase.
Our blades smashed into each other, but it wasn’t clear who was the victor just yet. Xin leaped back, and then attacked again. Her blade moved like lightning, and she reminded me of the Xin I had encountered in the Twilight dungeon. That Xin had aided me in defeating the demon king, and had also given her life for me.
“Alysia… don’t strike to kill her. Concentrate all of your strength into knocking her unconscious.”
“M-master… while it’s true that she was once my mother, that would have died long ago. As you said, this is merely a puppet. I’m not afraid to kill her. For all we know, Aberis planted a seed inside her and once we defeat him, he’ll come back again. I don’t want to take that risk!”
Alysia was far more ruthless than I would have thought. However, she had misunderstood me. It wasn’t because she was Alysia’s mother that I was looking to spare her. Rather, I had a much more selfish reason.
“I can bring your mother back,” I explained as I dodged another strike from her mother. “Rather, it’d be more accurate to say that I already brought her back.”
“Wh-what are you saying?’
“Remember what Demon Lord Aberis and I spoke about? Your mother tried to cut the Demon Lord Aberis from herself to save her two children. That means that for a time, there were two Xin’s. One Xin went north and the other south. The other Xin was trapped in a dungeon, but for various reasons, I’ve recovered a piece of her body and soul. I believe that this Xin would contain another piece. In short, if I combine them, I can bring your mother back.”
“I-is that true?” She spoke in a stunned voice. “Deek, can we afford the risk? What if the personality of this Xin wins out, and you only destroy the other?”
“I… have faith in my Xin. It’s as simple as that.”
“Then, I will do as Master commands.”