William wanted to just dash up, use Shattering the Soul on the Demon King, and just be done. He didn’t, because that almost certainly wouldn’t work… and he could see what happened to those who approached. Somehow, the Demon King seemed to have more momentum than before, cutting down even the knights that approached him almost casually… or more accurately piercing them with his spear, or sweeping it to crush their sides. His tactics for using magic barely changed, since he had barely paid attention to the presence of his allies. Now that there were only enemies, he could throw out a fireball or lightning bolt in any direction, or any other kind of destruction he thought of.
He wasn’t sure, but William thought the spells were getting weaker. Was the Demon King tiring… or was it only a depletion of the mana in the area? He didn’t have a nearby wizard to ask… and Chris was currently contained in a leather case, hidden from view. That also made it harder for him to hear, and with the noise from the battlefield, William wasn’t sure if he could talk to someone right next to him anyway, without using ki to project his voice.
There were still hundreds of people between William and the Demon King… and just as many bodies. At this distance, he could see the Demon King’s armor wasn’t as pristine as it had been… though he wasn’t sure if there was any real damage just yet. There was blood, but it could have been anyone’s blood. At this point, William felt the first of those who used Shattering the Soul to attack. For his part, the Demon King seemed to ignore them… as much as he did any particular attack… though that didn’t mean he didn’t kill them. William could feel a massive amount of ki from the Demon King… and with his magical armor, he was well protected even from soul attacks, if not intentionally.
The Demon King continued to kill those around him, occasionally destroying a soul… though that fate was usually reserved for wizards. The deaths started to include more faces that William knew, both from his company and from elsewhere. However, the Demon King seemed to be continuing in one direction, not toward a group of wizards… but possibly away from the battlefield. However, no matter what he did, the battlefield moved with him. Then, he began to become serious, and William could feel the power behind his attacks increase as he added more ki to his attack, seemingly wanting to force his way out.
Then, one of his attacks was blocked head on. The spear slowly slid off of a shield with an emblem of a dragon on it. In front of the Demon King, Tyler Dragonfoe stood strong and proud, and though William knew she couldn’t defeat the Demon King alone she gave off that kind of impression. The next attack she didn’t dare face head on, as the Demon King clearly became a bit more seriously. She had to deflect the attack with her shield, and William knew that it had to be highly magical. Even so, she staggered backwards… and all this time attacks were being launched at the Demon King. From behind the Demon King an attack came that caused him to sway… slightly.
Dong Xin leapt back, avoiding the sweeping spear, but even so William saw a trail of blood on the front of his ribs. William hadn’t even known he was here… but there was no reason for him to have been elsewhere. Perhaps William could have said he was an old man that shouldn’t be on a battlefield… but he could obviously still fight, and they needed everyone they could get. William saw a number of other older men appear- including a few women- almost certainly members of the Order. Nobody had been sure where the Demon King would appear, nor that this battle would be happening today, or William could have guaranteed everyone from the Order would have come… even if there were cities or entire countries left completely undefended elsewhere.
The battle raged on, and though the ultimate goal was to weaken the Demon King and use Shattering the Soul to destroy him… no one fought as if that were the case. All of the attacks were lethal, or at least they could have been on any other target. Even so, some of them had no effect, and some of them just barely did anything. So many people were falling… if the battle wasn’t moving around, there would be a mountain of bodies, though as it was the bodies were still almost everywhere.
William found himself moving ever closer to the Demon King. He was already feeling exhausted, and he hadn’t thrown a single attack, nor moved much faster than a brisk walk. This wasn’t just due to his sickness, but also the mental stress of being in a battle… and watching so many people die.
The Demon King was clearly slowing down. That said, he had managed to killed many of those stronger people from the Order. William had personally seen Dong Xin slain… but he had no time to dwell on that. Knight-commander Tyler was still fighting… but only through the sacrifice of many other brave knights. The warriors from Ustil seemed to understand the end goal more completely, and were doing their best to injure and disrupt the Demon King, at the cost of their lives. However, William saw that even when one of them was impaled on the spear through the heart, he actually grabbed onto the spear, preventing the Demon King from withdrawing it for a moment, during which his armor was scarred by some other attacks.
Though the Demon King was in a sorry state, the army was not doing well either. The battle had dragged on, and though William wasn’t sure of the numbers, the Demon King must have slain at least a great gross of people- a dozen dozen dozen people. Even if they were all the regular soldiers, that would have been a significant number, but now many of them were knights, wizards, and elite martial artists. Many people in the army seemed to have given up, just standing in the distance staring at the battle, if they hadn’t outright fled.
Suddenly, William found himself near the Demon King, with very little between them. Though he might have wanted to, he couldn’t just give up… not out of fear for his own life, or even for the destruction of his soul. He could see that the Demon King had many chips in his armor… and had equally as many chips on his ki defenses, which were in chaos… and some damage to his soul, though William couldn’t tell if it was significant.
William retrieved Chris from his case, since he had kept him there to conceal him visually from the Demon King. He took what felt like was an eternity but was merely a few seconds to gather his ki, and in coordination with Chris thrust out, stabbing with Shattering the Soul. William felt the swirl of energy he created, and as he impacted the Demon King’s body, he felt the energy piercing into him. Then… nothing. There was no explosion, as William had expected… and not even a blankness that might represent being annihilated without seeing an explosion. In fact, he could still see and hear just fine, and the battle continued on. It was just that a moment later William found himself with the Demon King’s gauntleted fist around his neck and Chris being wrenched out of his grasp.