「…They got us」
As he opened his eyes, Aur clicked his tongue. Along with a thunderous sound shooting through his ears, he saw a canopy wavering in front of him. This was the inside of a carriage. If things were progressing as expected, then they should soon be making good time to their destination.
「Welcome back, Master」
Spina’s voice enveloped Aur’s body, tickling the area close to his ears. She also grasped the fact that the invading forces had been annihilated in the underground passageways.
「How do things look here?」
「We’ll arrive soon-」
Lilu raised her voice from the driver’s seat. To think that they could be defeated so easily…Aur had to admit that even he did not expect this. Still putting aside the fact that he had anticipated an invasion from directly below, for the enemy to dig a gigantic cavern in order to ambush them, fully loaded with angels, the enemy must really have lost their minds.
「……Oh no, I was just thinking, can you still call it a carriage even if there’s no horse?」
Aur muttered, emerging next to Lilu sitting in the driver’s seat. Ahead of them was not the ground, but a wide forest that could be seen from afar.
This carriage was flying through the sky.
「Ahh…That’s right. Thinking about it, I never attached a horse to it, huh. I forgot to」
What Lilu was gripping in her hands sitting in the driver seat was not reins, but a joystick. Made by her, this『Flying Carriage』was a variety of weaponry that carried up to 10 people while flying through the air. It had no particular strengths other than transportation, and when compared with the speed of a flying dragon, it was quite slow.
Still, the fact that it could ignore the landscape and transport a large amount of personnel as well as the fact that it was comparatively easy to manufacture and reproduce were points at which it excelled more than anything. With Aur and company’s carriage at the helm, behind them were around 500 more carriages. 5000 soldiers were riding in them.
Soaring over gates and fortresses, this was an economical way to aim closely at the capital city. Underground invasion was as much a diversion as it was likely to be the key to victory. If one of these strategies were thwarted, then the other strategy could be used to undergo a surprise attack. That was originally the plan, but the underground side was unexpectedly quickly thwarted.
With that being said, this did not mean that the surprise attack itself was a failure. Judging by the amount of protection that was focused on the underground, it should be scarcer aboveground, plus they had succeeded in stalling for time.
「Let’s go……Invade them in one go!」
His eyes overlooking the gates of the capital below him, Aur began giving orders.
「You’re late, fool」
「Please don’t be so unreasonable; I went through something really dreadful」
Covered in dirt and in a battered state,『Immortal』grumbled.
To the questioning Melisande, 『Immortal』sighed,「”What” happened?」
「The moment I think I’ve defeated them, the enemy causes a magnificent mass explosion. The whole tunnel gets buried and most of the angels are crushed to death. If I weren’t immortal, then I also would have died」
Using the angels as shields on the spur of the moment to secure a small area in the cavern as well as having a bridge on hand were the small mercies amidst the misfortune. If it hadn’t been for that, he would have likely right afterwards been completely buried and unable to take any action.
「It seems that they are indeed not an opponent that can be dealt with by ordinary means. Look」
Melisande pointed at the sky from the temple balcony. Floating there were 500『Flying Carriages』.
「It would appear to be the military forces of Devil King Aur. I certainly did not anticipate them having those sorts of things in their possession. Magical tools…No, maybe I should call them magical weapons or something」
「No, I could honestly care less about what the name is」
Saying that in an exasperated voice in response to Melisande’s habit of obsessing over strange things,『Immortal』looked up at the sky.
「That, is pretty deadly, isn’t it?」
「Yeah. Fairly deadly」
Melisande nodded straightforwardly.
「There’s considerable distance from Figlia to get here. Since they wouldn’t likely transport anything in large quantities, I assumed that there would be no frontal attack, but…」
Melisande groaned with a pained expression.
Those carriages soaring in the sky could carry many soldiers. Moreover, taking to the skies would give them quite the advantage. They would have to be regarded as more formidable than their numbers suggested.
「Well, although I didn’t expect this」
Melisande swiftly pulled the cords, ringing the alarm bell. In response to the bell’s chiming, several towers rose up, making rattling noises in the process.
「It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t prepare」
Soldiers lined up in rows atop the towers, readying their bows.
「Our opponent went to all the trouble of preparing big targets for us. Gratefully shoot them down」
「To think that they had those sorts of towers lying in wait…」
Aur muttered, looking toward the nearby-built towers surrounding the encompassing capital walls. Although they did resemble watchtowers used for things like firing off arrows or scaling castle walls, they went beyond fulfilling those objectives with their large size. It was clear that this was a countermeasure against Aur and his upper-air tactics.
Projectiles were fired in succession from the crossbows and ballistae mounted at the top of the towers. Aur increased the speed of the carriage and dodged, but there was no getting any closer. No matter how much of an advantage they had via the skies, this was a distance where bow and arrow could not yet reach.
「You know, Laz…」
Lilu said with a faraway gaze.
「Before meeting Aur, manufacturing weapons was easy for her. Research was simply fun in and of itself, and she sought to invent more efficient, more effective weapons for killing people」
Lilu took out a dully glowing mass of iron from a bag on the carriage.
「She didn’t quite understand what that was or what it meant. She didn’t know. But meeting you, Aur, she was able to comprehend what war is like…what she was making…and she quit making weaponry」
And as she pointed it outside, she pulled the trigger without hesitation.
「But I’m a demon so I don’t care about aaany of that」
「Ruined a lot of things, you have」
Answering Lilu’s gun discharge, the allied forces began their firing. Cylindrical in shape and composed of iron, these weapons were artillery, christened 『Flash Arrows』.
The artillery was constructed so that bullets the size of a fist were released by triggering a small explosion in the cylinder’s interior. Because of said construction, it was almost impossible to move around while using these difficult-to-manage, gigantic guns. In addition, the accuracy of fire was nothing special, and consecutive fire wasn’t an effective option. However, there were several advantages gained by supplementing these weapons.
The first advantage was power. These weapons could catapult ballista ammunition at the speed of an arrow. Befittingly, their power was tremendous, needing to only be within shooting range to send half of a body flying, even if it was a knight wearing metal armor. If one were to use lead shells, even protective sorcery would have absolutely no effect.
The second advantage was easy handling. Not requiring excessive amounts of training like bows and arrows or ballistae, anyone could use them after about 1 or 2 hours of training.
And the third advantage was the length of the weapon’s range. While being able to carry them on one’s person, the artillery also boasted a shooting range that could rival large-scale weapons such as ballistae or crossbows.
Like right now, if shot from the sky, even those said weapons could be one-sidedly attacked. This was the result of the demon Lilu wielding the knowledge of the witch Lazu without reservation.
Hit by the Flash Arrows, the soldiers operating the equipment on the towers began to fall off the towers in succession. Contrary to the cries of exultation from the succeeding soldiers as they crushed tower after tower, Lilu frowned puzzledly.
「Weird…What does this mean?」
Lilu readied her Flash Arrow, pulling the trigger. Without error, the bullet directly hit a tower, scattering splinters.
「…It won’t fall」
However, the tower continued to stand without collapsing. According to Lilu’s calculations, even this type of tower should be able to be destroyed from the ground up by driving in 2 or 3 shots.
「Larger than normal, so its strength is also increased…doesn’t seem to be the case, does it」
Lilu nodded immediately to Aur’s comment. The splinters that flew so flashily were, so to speak, a sort of shield. To not affect the tower’s independent state itself, the shields were made easy-to-break on purpose.
Most of the towers were already destroyed by the midair weaponry, in addition to leaving the bow-wielding soldiers riddled with wounds. It could not even be said that the weapons were mostly sustaining their role. Wherever possible, craftmanship had been placed on those sorts of things to make them difficult to break.
「This isn’t good, all troops, reversal…」
Before Lilu could finish speaking, whitely glittering shadows rushed out from the inside of the towers in infinite numbers.
Panicking, the soldiers aimed the Flash Arrows at them, but not a single shot was able to hit these steadily upward-accelerating shadows.
「They’ve got us…! So this has been their objective from the start!?」
Countless angels soared up from the shadows of the tower. They held bows and arrows in their hands. Coming from this close of a distance, evasion as well as interception were not possible. Those towers were not for attacking but existed to conceal and protect the angels.
「This is bad, what should we do Aur! They took the air!」
In dismay, Lilu sought help from Aur next to her.
To prevent friendly fire, the formation of carriages flying in the sky was set up with the front row as the upper limit. By doing so, aiming diagonally down and accidentally firing the Flash Arrow at a teammate in the front could be avoided.
However, with the opponent being in the upper boundaries, that battle formation instead backfired. If anyone were to try and shoot the enemy, they would hit their teammate.
The front-liners forced into this situation were the only ones who could fire the Flash Arrows, but when they did, the numbers were too few this time around. As if sneering at the soldiers for only being supplemented with firing rounds and firing accuracy suited for shooting downward, the angels fluttered about in the air dodging the bullets, making a display of it.
Instead, the arrows released by the angels pierced the carriages with precision, proceeding to shoot them down one by one. Aur put up magical barriers, narrowly stopping any oncoming shots, but he could not protect any ally troops or their carriages. In addition to gunners wielding Flash Arrows, there should also be sorcerers riding in the carriages, but the arrows launched by the angels were equipped with enough power to make short work of and penetrate those protections.
「Aur, your orders for reversal!」
「It’s no good. If we expose our flanks here now, that in itself would mean annihilation for us」
The drawback of carriages was that they had poor maneuverability. The entire army could not simply make a prompt retreat. There was no choice other than to draw an arc and reverse, but the enemy army didn’t seem to allow that in the slightest.
「Even so, at this rate…Master」
Wanting to at least protect Aur, Spina readied herself. Ahead of her gaze, one enemy crashed down.
As if some angels were hit coincidentally by Flash Arrow ammunition, Spina watched as angels began to fall: one, and yet another one.
「What in the world…?」
Without thinking, Lilu and Spina appeared outside of the carriage, surveying their surroundings.
Floating in their line of sight were scores of flying dragons and endless streams of arrows.
「They finally came, eh」
A broad smile lifted to Aur’s face.
「…The Black Clan, Elen. We hath come obligated to give assistance in battle!」
A nostalgic voice reverberated throughout the heavens.