The defensive battle of Avalon had begun.
The first room, a [Stone Corridor], was valued for its might. Even if enemies were to get past it, it at least had taken many enemies down. This time though, one monster was all it took to break through.
While making a displeased face, Duke dashed toward the [Graveyard] area along with his escort Darkness Dragons as well as Kohaku, who came just in case.
The first room being unable to shave away some of the enemies’ war potential was vexing, but not unexpected.
Such an outcome had always been assumed to someday come up. After all, even among the monsters of Avalon, there were quite a few that could break through unharmed. The appearance of enemies that could do the same was inevitable.
Duke had left the Dwarf Smith temporarily in charge in order for him to go to the [Graveyard] area and command directly from the frontlines. This way, he could give more detailed instructions faster.
Above all, by being there, he could use his [Ruler of the Dead] skill to strengthen his undead troops.
A [Graveyard] was obviously a very advantageous terrain for undead monsters, thus many undead monsters were stationed there. Factor in the Darkness Dragons that were on their way, and Duke’s presence would make a significant effect.
The enemies posed a threat not only in terms of quantity, but also in terms of quality in the form of the monsters that could strengthen the rest of the fighting force, the Goblin General and the Orc King for example. If Duke didn’t do at least the same, Avalon’s defeat would have been clear.
“It might be best to ask my lord to improve the first room in preparation for future wars against other Demon Lords. Avalon-Ritters equipped with their new model heavy machineguns should do great, I think.”
The damage a weapon could do was influenced by the user’s stats.
Even if the Avalon-Ritters and the Mithril Golems were to wield the same gun, the damage inflicted would be totally different. Following this, an Avalon-Ritter equipped with a newer, more powerful heavy machinegun model would deal damage an order of magnitude higher than a Mithril Golem equipped with the standard heavy machinegun.
Considering even the latter had dealt enough damage to bring the monster that defeated them to the brink of death, the former would have no trouble at all with said monster.
All of this seemed sound to Duke, so he had no doubt the person he revered would give an approval to his idea.
Duke reached the [Graveyard] area.
True to its name, it was a gloomy area that had countless tombstones.
Upon arriving, he activated his commander abilities.
Because of that, he was able share senses with the allied monsters that had the death attribute. They became his eyes and ears.
For the moment, he instructed them to remain out of sight.
“So, they’re finally in formation and are about to start their advance in the 2nd room.”
Through Duke’s eyes, he saw a Goblin General and an Orc King leading countless goblins and orcs.
“If only the High Elves were here, I would have asked them to take down enemy elites starting from the leaders… I guess I should also ask my lord later to deploy the same number of High Elves for both the attacking and defending forces. As it is, we don’t have anything as powerful and convenient as the elves’ sniping.”
Once the goblin and orcs were done falling into formation, the enemy army began to advance through the labyrinth formed by the countless gravestones without breaking their formation.
Just that was enough for Duke to tell how proficient the enemies were.
“Hmm, they seem tough. It would be foolish to engage them without reducing their numbers first. Alright, let them advance a little more. Once escape becomes no longer possible, we begin.”
Duke relayed that order to a group of subordinates he shared senses with: the thirty Darkness Dragons.
Because Procell said they didn’t have to hold back on the use of explosives, most of the Darkness Dragons carried a container full of said explosives.
Usually, the bombardment would have started once all of the enemies had entered the dungeon room, but the white-winged birdmen—monsters that had the head of a bird but the body of human covered in feathers—guarding the goblins and the orcs gave Duke pause.
At a glance, these birdmen could be mistaken for angels, but further inspection would quickly reveal they were too ugly and detestable to be angels and were much closer to being birds.
They weren’t particularly strong, being just C rank monsters. As such, the Darkness Dragons could probably even deal with them while still carrying the containers.
However, something about them gave Duke a bad feeling.
“Kohaku-dono, those ugly, C-rank-looking birdmen flying above the goblins and orcs, is there anything you know about them?”
Duke asked so to Kohaku the advisor.
Duke was a prudent individual. As much as possible, he wouldn’t execute a strategy when so many details were uncertain. To that end, he wasn’t afraid to ask about these uncertain and unknown things.
After giving a big yawn, Kohaku spoke.
“Yeah, I know about them. If I recall correctly, they’re called Holy Cranes. As you guessed, they are indeed just C rank fodder monsters… though not for monsters that’s of the Death attribute. They deny it, not permitting anyone with that attribute to exist near them. If such monster enters their territory, that monster will be enfeebled until, finally, it falls.”
“I see. Then, they should be doubly as effective against the Darkness Dragons, since those kids have both the Death and Darkness attribute. It might even be appropriate to say they are the Darkness Dragons’ natural enemies. The fact that they were reserved until now means they’ve studied us and our strategy with the Darkness Dragons… interesting.”
At this point in time, Duke had thought up of three strategies.
The first was to trash those white winged monsters himself. They might have an attribute advantage, but an S rank monster that had become a true [Dragon Emperor] like himself should be able to overpower them.
The disadvantage in this strategy was that the strongest in the defense force, Duke, would be gravely exhausted. This early in the [War], such wasn’t ideal.
The next strategy was to make the Darkness Dragons fly at an altitude high enough that they wouldn’t be affected by the birdmen’s special powers. Once they were flying that high, bombardment would then commence.
The flaw to this was that bombarding from such an altitude would cause the accuracy to drop tremendously, which then might lead to some enemy monsters not being hurt as much as they were supposed to be. Some might even come out not hurt at all.
The last one was to make use of the monsters his lord Procell had received from his close friend and ally. Those monsters were just as capable as the Darkness Dragons. Furthermore, Duke could also strengthen them via his [Dragon Emperor]. As an aside, it didn’t appear like the C rank birds were receiving any effects from the strengthening skills of the Goblin General or the Orc King.
The demerit to this strategy was… none.
“It’s decided then. Kohaku-dono, thank you for your guidance.”
Duke then closed his eyes and drew out his power.
Right then, the middle-aged dragonewt grew bigger and bigger.
His whole body became covered with black scales and dark miasma.
He had exposed his true form as death incarnate, as the strongest death dragon: a Black Dragon of Death Siegwurm.
Apparently, to be able to use his power as a true [Dragon Emperor], Duke first had to assume this form. Thankfully, he didn’t have to worry anymore about the time limit caused by his [Berserk].
Duke roared loudly.
It was his imperial command.
It was so powerful that it reached through the other dungeon rooms as well even though it originally shouldn’t be able to.
And so, when they heard the emperor call, they flew with all haste. A few moments later, jade green dragons appeared in the [Graveyard] area. All in all, there were ten of them.
These ten were the monsters two ranks below the Storm Dragon Knight Bahamut in the same lineage. They were the Tempest Wyverns.
Much like the Darkness Dragons, these dragons held top-end power for B rank monsters. What’s more, these wind-controlling dragons could fly in the sky at speeds beyond human imagination. In terms of dogfighting capabilities, they probably held the most potential among B ranks.
Procell didn’t make these dragons, but were rather obtained through the deal he made with Stolas.
The Darkness Dragons and Tempest Wyverns were both undoubtedly powerful monsters, but even so, they still had weaknesses. For that reason, Procell and Stolas had decided to exchange monsters made via [Maelstroms] so that they could each form a mixed corps whose members would make up for the others’ weaknesses.
In other words, they did so for times like these.
Duke roared once more.
This time, it was to use his true [Dragon Emperor] and empower the already strong wind dragons even more.
Flying at over twice the speed of sound and without slowing down at all, the wind dragons clashed with the group of Holy Cranes and began their attack.
Many Holy Cranes were instantly torn to shreds, while twice more received damage without seeing what did it. In fact, they didn’t even realize they had received damage. It was only a few moments later that they cried out in pain.
After that, the wind dragons charged once more and tore many of the enemies to pieces again, still without them knowing what hit them.
By no means were the Tempest Wyverns doing anything special.
They were simply cladding their wings with their wind—thus granting it excellent cutting capabilities—and hitting their enemies with it.
As for the others, they were receiving damage from the sonic boom generated by dragons.
The fight was too one-sided. It shouldn’t even be called a fight at this rate. Which could be said to be the obvious result.
Pitting the empowered high-end B rank Tempest Wyverns against the low-end Holy Cranes who excelled only in defeating undead monsters was like pitting a fully-armed special forces member against a demon exorcist.
Before long, the Holy Cranes all fell.
The Tempest Wyverns then gave a victory roar.
Duke roared as well.
However, it wasn’t to celebrate or to give praise to the Tempest Wyverns. It was a command for the Darkness Dragons to do the next move.
The hindrance out of the way, the Darkness Dragons were now free to drop the contents of the containers they were carrying.
Perhaps knowing what those containers had within, the goblins and orcs ran for their lives while some tried to fire magic and arrows in attempt to stall the dragons.
In the end, it was all futile.
The effective range of an aerial bombardment was vast. Escape for the goblins and orcs was pretty much now impossible.
Magic and arrows were also useless since those wouldn’t reach the dragons. And even if those attacks did reach the dragons, their buffs and already tough body made it so that they didn’t mind at all.
And so, the 30 Darkness Dragons reached their designated positions. Bombarding from these positions would kill the highest number of enemies.
The containers then opened and released the bombs they had within.
Like that, crimson flowers bloomed in the ground.
The whole place was covered in flames. In the flames of hell.
After dropping the bombs, the Darkness Dragons turned around, swooped down, and unleashed darkness breath attacks on those that were tough enough to survive.
The Tempest Wyverns joined as well and attacked with blades of wind.
In just a few minutes, the army made up of goblins and orcs was on the brink of annihilation.
[Pig] Demon Lord Agares was right in being vigilant against the Darkness Dragons, but the countermeasure he thought up was certainly not enough.
Agares should have, among other things, taken into consideration the Holy Cranes’ low stats. Like Procell who prepared both Darkness Dragons and Tempest Wyverns, he should have prepared another monster to make up for the Holy Cranes’ weaknesses.
That ability to foresee things was what granted Procell this victory.
A few more minutes passed and the flames have died down.
A few monsters survived by using their allies as shield, having extremely high defensive capabilities, and by just being really lucky.
The Goblin General and the Orc King that Duke purposefully let survive were currently reorganizing their surviving troops. Thinking they could do such a leisurely thing like reorganizing was foolish though.
Shrieks of goblins and orcs resound all over again.
This time, it wasn’t caused by the dragons.
From the goblins and orcs’ shadows, from the grave markers’ shadows, from the dragons in the sky’s shadows, large blue dogs came and struck the goblins and orcs at their vital spots.
These large dogs were Abyss Howls.
They were monsters that used shadows as the medium to enter and exit the other dimension.
From the start of the fight, these monsters were patiently waiting for a chance like this. A chance to do their roles as assassins that strike from the shadows.
After their initial attack, the Abyss Howls roared.
It was no ordinary roar though. It was a skill.
Dark Roar: Launches a roar filled with magic power. If the target is successfully inflicted, its body will be stiffened and weakened. Chances of success will be halved for monsters of A rank and above. When this skill is simultaneously used by a group of skill-holders, there is a bonus to the success rate.
※Do note that the potency of the weakening and stupefying effects don’t receive any bonuses, just the success rate.
The roars of 30 Abyss Howls reverberated in the Graveyard area.
Like that, the survivors were frozen in place.
Duke then initiated the endgame by summoning some undead from beneath the ground that was a few meters away from where the bombs fell.
These undead were monsters and humans resurrected by Duke’s [Enhanced Resurrection]. Instead of becoming weaker by turning undead, they were actually stronger than when they were alive.
Even the once-human undead were strong. As for why, they were actually artificial heroes. These A-rank-monster-equivalents were once sent by the [Black] Demon Lord, but were now turned into Duke’s fighting force.
These undead were disposable units.
Per his lord’s policy, Duke was supposed to lead Avalon’s war potential in such a way that it would result in no casualties. However, these undead were corpses of those that once were their enemies.
Sending them to attack relentlessly and unafraid of death, or to act as a wall was completely fine.
There were many among the enemy army that could overpower the undead horde, but thanks to the bombardment, the dragons’ breath attacks, and the Abyss Howls surprise attacks, the enemy army could do nothing but get taken down one after the other.
Which was a bit of a shame too because the undead horde couldn’t demonstrate their true might.
In about an hour, the [Pig] Demon Lord’s attacking force was almost no more.
The only ones to remain were the leaders and a few others.
Right then, Duke in his dragon form descended.
Overwhelmed, the leaders’ hearts gave way and they fell to their knees.
Their instincts were repeatedly telling them defeat was inevitable.
“It’s about time we end this. Before I kill you, Goblin General and Orc King, I, as a fellow leader, have something to ask you. Do any of you know why I commanded to let the two of you live until this moment, despite finding your army-wide strengthening troublesome? Well?”
The Goblin General and the Orc King each tried to voice out their opinions, but Duke simply shook his head.
“The answer is so that I may present you to my lord. You and your guards seem to be the strongest among all of you. From this moment on, you are no longer leaders, merely servants to our lord.”
In the next moment, the Goblin General and the Orc King’s heads flew.
Their guards then received deathblows one after the other from the Abyss Howls that appeared from the shadows.
Their bodies then began turning into blue particles of light. For a moment, they felt relieved that it was all over. However, there was a monster that denied them of that relief.
Duke used his [Enhanced Resurrection] skill and resurrected them.
After doing so, Duke reverted back to his dragonewt form.
At the same time, the resurrected Goblin General, Orc King, and their guards all knelt before Duke, their faces devoid of any emotion.
“Henceforth, devote yourself to our lord, the supreme Demon Lord, [Creation] Demon Lord Procell. Fuhaha, I’ve gotten quite the nice present for my lord, haven’t I? Quite the powerful pawns they are. If I combine this report with my suggestion for the improvements of our defense, my lord should be greatly pleased. At any rate, everyone, take this moment to rest. The next wave of attackers should be here soon enough. Though I hope there are strong individuals in that wave as well so that I can make my present even nicer.”
As Procell’s appointed staff officer, Duke wasn’t satisfied with just winning. For his beloved lord, he wanted more.
Because of that, some would say he was more relentless and merciless than even Procell.
If one seriously wanted to conquer Avalon, they first had to bring down Duke through whatever means they could. Or else, they were liable to repeat [Pig] Demon Lord Agares’s biggest mistake.
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