Previously, William had only actually seen one demon. He’d seen depictions of them before, but in person, he’d only seen the red skinned demoness. Normally, William would be willing to give even people who were called demons the benefit of the doubt that they weren’t evil. However, these were clearly an armed invasion force, so whether or not the demons as a whole were actually evil, William had no compunctions about killing these demons. Their looks were fairly accurately represented by the drawings he had seen. Some had the red skin that he had seen, while others had blue or green skin. If it weren’t for the exotic skin colors, or the horns he could barely see from this distance, he felt they would pass for human.
The enemies numbered just 10. William wasn’t the first to spot them. The fact that they came across the group at all could be attributed to exceptional patrolling routes, good scouts, as well as a bit of luck. The scouts had spotted the demons from a distance, and one of the pair came to find the patrol while the other watched the enemy squad. Unfortunately, there were only so many scouts and patrols available, so it was possible, even probable, that some squads would get through and attack towns and villages. However, that was for the defensive platoons to deal with. Right now, William had to deal with those that were here.
Although William’s party numbered 100, he knew not to be overly confident. Demons were exceptionally dangerous. At the very least, these had travelled through the mountains, and that was not a trivial feat. William wished this patrol had archers, but unfortunately trained archers were hard to come by. They were better in groups, so they weren’t just spread evenly between patrols. In addition, it wasn’t beneficial to have too many special troops in one patrol, and William was a wizard. The Archmage, even, which did mean that he was guaranteed to have some knights to defend him, at least. William knew that having him wasn’t as beneficial as having Lila, but he wasn’t useless. The only problem was he couldn’t do magic of his own and had to rely on Chris, who, quite reasonably, had trouble using powerful magic. Since it was rather impressive that he had consciousness at all, it was quite reasonable. This just meant that William had to make up for power with tactics, but there was only so far that could go. Thus, he sometimes had to add “hitting people in the face” on top of the mix to even things out, though that involved more personal risk.
Finally, as the patrol rode closer to the demon squad, the engagement was beginning. Although William would have liked to have the element of surprise on their side, 100 men on horses was not a quiet sound. This meant that as soon as he was in range to use something like a lightning bolt, the enemy probably would be as well. Thus, William started off with a defensive shield, distorting the electrical currents in the air in front of his group. He would have loved to then shoot a lightning bolt, but Chris had to concentrate on the shield.
William’s patrol started to charge the enemy demons, who were on foot. Two small groups had broken off to circle around through the light woods, to catch any demons who tried to flee, as well as to avoid having too many people massed into one attack. Two of the demons indeed attacked with lightning, but their attacks were deflected to the sides. Turning a fireball, which had some mass, was harder, but since lightning just flowed along the path of least resistance, it had no trouble turning directly to the side- at least, with other magic involved. The enemies could create their own paths through the shield, but only if they were aware of it, and it was also much harder to do at a far distance. As the patrol got closer, within 100 feet and only a few seconds of distance in their charge, four other demons released fireballs. These William could do little about, but the soldiers were prepared. Their formations split apart carefully around the estimated path of the fireballs. This avoided any direct impacts, but the fireballs still exploded. William wasn’t sure, but he saw somewhere around ten men go down. They may or may not have died, but they wouldn’t be continuing the charge.
The two who had used lightning, as well as the four who hadn’t yet done anything, had pikes readied to impale the charging horsemen. In the initial clash, four more horsemen died, and only through the efforts of several knights was one demon killed by their lances. William was shocked by how strong the demons were. It wasn’t an easy feat to stop the mass of a charging horse and rider, but the demons were barely even staggered back. Some of the knights and other soldiers had ridden through or around the demon group, and after the initial clash, the battlefield soon devolved into chaos.
The demons, though greatly outnumbered, were terrifyingly powerful. They could kill a regular soldier in a single attack, at the same time holding off several others, and sometimes a knight. The human side couldn’t bring their numbers to bear all at once, but their tactics allowed for that. None of the regular soldiers stayed to engage the demons, generally riding past and taking swings with their swords. This meant the demons had to constantly turn to defend themselves from attacks from different angles, as well as having to deal with the much more formidable knights. Though, occasionally, they just let their armor deflect some less well aimed blows.
William himself joined the fray, but didn’t directly engage any of the demons. They were fast, and William wasn’t confident in being able to go up against even one of them. He looked for an opportunity to use magic, and in the end turned the ground beneath one of them into mud. However, even half-sinking into the ground and slipping, the demon held on for a few more seconds. William saw a good chance, and went in for an attack. He used the mysterious inner energy he’d practiced, and managed to strike the enemy on the head. Surprisingly, both armor and demon avoided collapsing, though the strike wasn’t ineffective. The demon was soon taken down by the knight engaged with him. Subsequent uses of the mud were less useful, since the demons were prepared, but eventually the battle was won, though not without more losses on the human side. William sighed as he looked around. There were at least 20 dead soldiers, not counting those lost in the initial charge… and one knight had perished. Although he didn’t like to think of losing more people, he’d rather have lost another 10 regular soldiers than the knight. Still, it wasn’t actually considered a bad result given their opponents… which made William afraid for the future.