After taking control of the army, I started to rejuvenate the men.
“Ahhhh! Ahhhhh! It burns!” Screamed an undead soldier.
I snapped my fingers. “That’s right, healing undead kills you!”
I had already cast Refresh and a few other spells on some of the soldiers, but this was the first guy who approached me with some genuine damage. I immediately leaned on a healing spell, which only further exacerbated the situation. I stopped it in time that he didn’t die, but he was looking in worse shape. I was glad I decided to stick to Triage rather than using a blanket Group Heal on the entire army. I might have taken out my entire battalion in a single move.
I had been wondering why the battalion didn’t have any Priests in it to help keep them refreshed and healed, but I ended up with that answer immediately. It turned out that these forces couldn’t afford to have Priests, so they simply got deleted from the narrative.
How exactly did you heal someone who wasn’t alive? That was the question I was asking myself as I looked down at the ailing man while my commanders and lieutenants glanced at each other awkwardly. They weren’t suspicious. It was more like they thought their general was acting weird and was trying to justify his actions in their mind. I quickly schooled my face and pushed my Mimic abilities to the max so that I acted just like the general again. This seemed to ease them.
I tried going through my skills, although I had so many at this point it was very easy to overlook something. My eyes naturally fell on the skill Steal Life, which was offered by both Monster Tamers and Dark Priests. However, where Monster Tamers could only use it on their Monsters, Dark Priests could use it on anybody.
If I stole his life, would I make him more undead, in other words, heal him? I had a feeling I would just finish the job if I even tried. Then again, I could give him life, but giving life to an undead? Wouldn’t that kill him too? In that case, what is life?
I tried to remember everything I had learned. Living creatures were made up of three different things: Mana, spirit, and body. Dungeon monsters had a corrupted form of mana called miasma. Mana and miasma didn’t get along. You could attack mana with miasma, and vice versa. However, mana could also be corrupted and turned into miasma. Then there was someone like Astria who could both use mana and miasma. I could use mana and miasma seamlessly as well, and even convert mana to miasma, although I didn’t seem to be able to do the opposite yet.
Then there was karma, which acted a lot like miasma, but in certain ways was different? It reminded me of light, which functioned as a wave or a particle depending on what you needed it for. Karma and miasma felt similar in composition, but different in implementation. Was karma just the miasmic version of spirit? As a Spiritualist, Miki could do all kinds of crazy things with the souls of the living, from talking to undead, keeping the spirit alive, blocking a person’s mana flow, and trapping their soul from Resurrection. Karma seemed to function the same way in dungeons. So… as miasma was to mana, karma seemed to be to spirit.
You could heal a person by providing them with mana for healing. Since these were creatures composed of miasma, and they were created by the dungeon, then it stood to reason that their bodies, albeit physical, were a manifestation of miasma. So, if I created miasma, and then infused it in his body…
I lifted my hand and black tendrils came out and started to touch him. It turned out to cost me a lot more mana than just tossing a White Mage spell, but I managed to heal the undead soldier. Everyone relaxed as he started to return to a healthy shade of… white.
Taking out some Water of Life for myself, which was probably holy water to the undead, I started to patch up the army. By then, they were ready to move. I began the march.
We were still a little more than a week away from the beginning of the final battle between the humans and the demons historically, and a little less than two weeks away from the wedding. Although I had felt like I had been in this dungeon forever, it had supposedly only been a bit less than three days on the outside. Yet, I had changed so much since I had been in here. I wondered if my girls would even recognize me when they saw me next. While I wasn’t so much worried about their current conditions, I realized that I was starting to miss them.
The army began heading toward the mouth of the valley. In the real world, or maybe just the past cycles, the undead would march on the fort in the mouth of the valley and capture it. They then began a blockade, demanding the return of the princess. They wanted to block all trade into the valley, and eventually leave the Demon King desperate. Instead, he built an army and attacked the fort, using similar methods to defeat them as Bernard had used on me. That was to say they had a secret area where a small contingent of warriors remained magically hidden until they snuck out at night and let the army in.
Of course, the human forces were more than just the fort, but after a brutal three-day battle around the mouth of the valley, they were finally forced to surrender. The surviving general was dragged before Lord Aberon. Part of their surrender was that they must bear witness to the wedding between the princess and the Demon Prince and let the people know who their new leaders were. They were patsies used to break the morale of the human resistance. So, one can imagine why I didn’t hold too much respect for the man I just replaced, who ended up betraying his people and was probably responsible for the wars going on until this day.
Despite that, I saw no reason to change history. The one nice thing about karma, is that while I was wearing it, the dungeon couldn’t tell the difference between me and the dungeon monster I stole the karma from, especially if I acted like I was supposed to. In this case, I was moving a day early, but that probably wasn’t enough to cause the dungeon to worry.
I marched the army up to the mouth of the valley and, like my predecessor before me, began to lay siege on the fort. I had already taken the fort once before, but I had depended on Portals and underhanded tricks. If I did that this time, the dungeon might be able to tell, and thus the Dungeon Master would know where I was and retaliate. Thus, I was taking it old school. It was a bloody, difficult battle, and I did my best to mitigate the damage, but I kept to my role as general.
“Master, the battle has begun.”
Those words came from Garnet through Slave Communication. Unlike Carmine, whose communication with me was somehow silenced while she was in the Demon King’s castle, I could hear her clearly. She wasn’t talking about my battle, where we had been fighting for a few hours now. Rather, she was talking about my army of monsters and bandits. Monster Tamer skill, level 40, Monster Sight was engaged. After taming so many enemies, I had gained many levels, and one such level allowed me to look through the eyes of my tamed monsters.
I could see them racing against an army of demon soldiers. This is where Aberon thought I was. While Xin, who seemed to be able to avoid his sight, ran that battle, the plan we devised after many careful nights of planning began to unfold.
“The army is fleeing.” Garnet continued to feed me reports.
Naturally, my army full of bandits and conscribed should break under an army of soldiers. However, this was just a ruse. I had control of the karmic destiny of those men and monsters, and they would do anything for me if I requested it of them. They were ordered to retreat, giving the enemy the impression they were on the run and had been broken up by their actions.
Meanwhile, we conquered the fort. Although I selected the lower and less skilled men to manage the fort, and kept it on a skeleton crew, sending the rest of the men off to secure the blockade. That night, as predicted, the demons came out and cut their way to the gate, killing a handful of unsuspecting undead on the way. They then opened the gate, and a battle ensued. The fort was ultimately taken back, and battles began to break out everywhere.
As an army of demons arrived at the mouth, the undead battled back. I mostly worked on autopilot, keeping myself from intervening. I found many different situations in which I could have changed battles into our favor by using one of my abilities or some other tactic, so I had to resist doing it, even though it cost lives. Thankfully, the undead, who were monsters, didn’t weigh on my conscience nearly as much as the demons, who looked just like people. Sacrificing a skeleton didn’t bother me much at all.
The battles intensified, and while I tried to time things out better, we were overtaken on the second day. I had been sending most of my soldiers away. Where? Into a place, the dungeon couldn’t detect them. It was one of Xin’s pocket worlds, outside of the reach of the dungeon’s senses. Eventually, the command camp was captured, I waved the white flag.
Thankfully, Bernard wasn’t among the Commanders who captured me. He was too busy with the wedding. I had hoped as much because if he had shown up, it was likely to ruin everything.
“General of the humans, so weak.” The demon sneered.
“I surrender unconditionally,” I responded. “Ah… but if you could let my remaining soldiers go.”
“Hmph… that’s a condition.” He snorted and then nodded to his men. “Go ahead, let them go.”
“Thank you, commander.” I bowed.
“And kill them.”
I gritted my teeth as screams and shouts sounded out behind me. There were a few cries for their general as the three hundred surviving soldiers who had already tossed down their weapons were pelted with arrows until dead. The commander who gave the order looked down on me with a sneering look. This was an army I had stolen, and I wasn’t even really their general. I was just using them. However, Mimic gave me the ability to fake distress on my face.
As for my actual feelings, they were still filled with anger. It wasn’t because I had a personal attachment to anyone involved, but because of the principle of the thing. We had surrendered, and this commander had massacred those men. It was disgusting behavior for a leader. He showed no mercy.
Good. I didn’t have any hangups about killing the demons now either. The demons I had promised Garnet I would protect, they were slaughtered by these demons. Part of the reason she made armor so hard was that they had taken everything she had in this world away from her. We were now both in agreement. We would bring this world of theirs down around them. A time would come when this demon would regret his decision, but he would receive exactly what he gave.