William couldn’t decide what was worse… battles, or waiting for battles. In battles, you could be killed at any time. Having experienced death, William could say he wasn’t particularly a fan… and that wasn’t without the normally expected lack of existence afterwards. Theoretically the person still existed in some form after they reincarnated… but without any memories, it could be debated whether they were really the same person. Regardless, experiencing the death of friends who you would never see again also happened, even if you survived a battle. Waiting for a battle gave far too much time to think about those things happening, with nothing to distract you and a pervasive sense of uncertainty.
Waiting for an hour was one things… waiting for days was something else entirely. The armies were within visual distance, though just barely… and they had remained so. William wasn’t sure if the battle was actually going to happen. The humans were waiting for reinforcements, and presumably the demons were as well or they would have attacked already. The humans had the advantage of instantaneous communication, so their reinforcements should arrive first, and be able to find them more easily. At least, hopefully the demons didn’t have instantaneous communication, or they could be in a dangerous spot. Lorelei hadn’t mentioned anything like that, so they probably didn’t.
As much as William didn’t want a battle where he knew many people would die, he knew it had to happen. It didn’t have to happen now, but if he was going to be around… they couldn’t wait too much longer. Having one more person to destroy the Demon King was nice, but going into a disadvantageous battle wouldn’t be worth it. If they did that, enough people would die just getting to the Demon King to make destroying him harder, if not impossible… and that wasn’t counting the other losses of life and probably the battle that could occur.
Then, after four days of waiting, the army was told to form up. No reinforcements had arrived yet, but William knew they should be nearby. In the war council, they went over the general plan of action. The main army would start with a series of probing attacks, and while the demons would be prepared for battle, they should be distracted for when the reinforcements arrived. William’s company would be held back, and if the battle was going poorly, they might not even see battle before the army withdrew. Of course, that wasn’t the plan, but it was an option.
William just watched while a contingent marched toward the demon’s encampment. Of course, it wasn’t exactly a secret that the human army had been readying, so the demon army was ready as well, not that they were generally unprepared either. The expected response was that the demons would send out a similar contingent, more or less. The rest of both armies were not far, either, so they could join the battle if necessary.
As expected, a section from the middle of the army stepped out. If those to the sides had moved forward as well to flank the human contingent, they would have retreated instead of continuing on. However, as the two groups were about to meet, something unexpected happened. A booming voice rang out across the desolate wasteland. Upon reaching William’s ears, it was not loud… but it had already travelled a long way. He could feel a trace of ki amplifying the voice. As for the words… William had no idea, except it wasn’t any of the human languages he knew.
Soon enough it was clear. From the commanding body of the demon’s army came a giant fireball, exploding over the human’s advancing contingent. As for calling it giant… that was barely even adequate. The fireball exploded, knocking over dozens with the force… and presumably killing many of them. A visible hold was left in the ranks… and with that as some sort of signal, the entire demon army began advancing.
Most of the human’s plans were instantly useless… merely because they had assumed certain things about their opponent. One of those was some level of strategy and caution… but upon thinking about it, nobody had ever applied those things to the Demon King. Still, even though the Demon King was powerful… he himself was not completely outside of expectations. The commander of the army made the choice to engage instead of retreat.
As the armies moved closer together, it became clear how much the humans outnumbered the demons. The demon army was about twice the size of what the demon lord William had faced off before had led- about four or five thousand total. There were several other demon armies of similar size elsewhere. Meanwhile the human army was over twenty thousand people. Even so, William found himself wishing the reinforcements would arrive soon.
The demon army advanced until they met the human army… but even after that, they seemed to be advancing forward, if slowly. At the distance he was at, William couldn’t really see everything clearly… except one thing. Even on the chaotic battlefield, the Demon King stood out. He was big, though much of that was likely because of his intimidating armor. Though he had been back with what was presumably his elite forces, he continued to advance through the ranks of the demons. Every spell he launched claimed many lives… a tiny yet noticeable fraction of the human army. Then, seemingly without regard for his own safety, the Demon King actually stepped past the front ranks of his army. Even so, there was a clear area around him, several meters wide. That was the reach of the spear he wielded, sweeping out in wide arcs and killing any who met with it. A company of knights moved to engage him, and to their credit some of them could reduce his effect to just killing one or a few of them at at time. However, he still used his magic to sew destruction throughout the battlefield. The Demon King even launched fireballs at areas where the army lines were overlapping, and though the demons usually survived his attacks… William didn’t think he even considered them as a variable to affect where he targeted.
Even with the Demon King, the battle was not heavily in the demon’s favor. In other places the humans were holding their own or even winning. It was then that the Demon King changed his strategy. He picked up one of the knight in his gauntleted fist. William couldn’t say exactly how it was triggered, but he was certain about the results of what happened next, if nothing else. The knight exploded, not in a shower of flesh and blood, but in one that was somehow even more disturbing… at least to William. He knew that the knight’s soul had been destroyed. However, instead of the giant explosion he had expected… there was only a smaller one, merely knocking back those who were nearby. William wasn’t sure what exactly had happened, but he unfortunately had the chance to see it again soon afterwards. As the second knight died, William saw that as the explosion started billowing outward, much of the energy moved toward the Demon King, but instead of knocking him back or killing him… it seemed to enter him. William wasn’t sure what the results of that would be, but he could say it certainly wouldn’t be good.