Great Tear Drops
If the battle of wits at Ashtaroth was the first act, the battle underground the second act, and the chaotic battle in the field was the third act, then they were currently in the fourth act.
The battle had been waging for days now, and it was about to reach its peak.
Many had been wounded and killed, but things were about to head to a conclusion.
—Of course, the victor was the young realist.
There were several reasons that Demon King Ashtaroth was victorious.
In the beginning, the person defending always has an advantage over the invader.
In terms of ground, time, strategy. Ashta was always able to create situations where all he needed to do was to defend.
But he didn’t just sit there and defend, but continued to put other plans into action.
Through all of his ceaseless efforts, he was able to earn his victory, and bring things to a close.
Once the size of Hannibal’s army had greatly decreased, he surrounded them halfway and slowly pushed forward.
There was no need for speed here. And so he moved slowly and steadily.
It wasn’t because he was a sadist. And he wasn’t trying to relish the moment.
It was that he was afraid of pushing Hannibal into unleashing a vicious counter attack.
In order to win against that general, Ashta chose his finest men and went out into the frontlines in person, and hunted down Hannibal.
As he watched over the battlefield, General Hannibal muttered.
“…I suppose this is the end.”
Of course, he muttered this quietly so that no one would hear. But as an old general who had been on many battlefields before, he knew how this would end.
Hannibal had been through hundreds of battles and struck fear into the hearts of the Romans, but the time of reckoning had come at last for him.
Hannibal raised his voice and declared to his subordinates.
“My loyal and brave soldiers. You have fought well up until now. It was brilliant.”
The soldiers continued to battle as they listened to the words of their general.
“Our goal in this battle was to take the Ashtaroth castle. But we have failed. However, our main objective is Princess Alesha’s survival. And that was a success. Nagakura will not fail to save the queen and make Princess Alesha the new queen.”
“However, I will not be able to witness that event. While it fills me with regret, it is my fate. I’ve lived long enough…”
He paused for a moment.
“But that is not the case with you. Both ants and human mercenaries. You have all fought well. Better than I could have hoped for. You have done enough. You don’t need to suffer any more. You don’t need to die. You can surrender. I know that Demon King Ashtaroth is merciful to heroes of the battlefield. And so he will welcome you.”
He was not lying. Hannibal knew that they had already lost. And he knew that Ashta did not punish surrendering enemies.
However, the soldiers would not stop fighting.
Thinking this odd, Hannibal asked his attendant.
“Why won’t they obey my order?”
The attendant answered as if it was obvious.
“While they have obeyed your orders and won countless victories up until now, people will follow their own will during their last moments. And they have chosen to die with you. Please respect their wishes.”
Mutter Hannibal when he heard this. And then he unsheathed his sword.
“In that case I must answer to that spirit. We will charge with them.”
“Certainly. In which direction?”
“In the direction of Demon King Ashtaroth!”
Hannibal shouted. And then the remaining soldiers shouted as well, and they headed in Ashta’s direction.
And like this, the final charge of Hannibal’s army began.
Unbelievably, the Ashtaroth army, which had had the advantage until a moment ago, began to be pushed back.
The soldiers were stunned, as they had been so sure of their victory.
Eve was angry.
“But how? We were so close to winning.”
“It’s because we were so close. No one wants to risk their life when victory is assured.”
Ashta answered calmly.
“But if this continues, Hannibal’s soldiers will reach us. They might kill you, master. Please fall back.”
“I cannot do that. I’ve said it before, but the only reason why the soldiers obey me is because I’m always at the frontlines and experience the same thing that they do. I eat the same food and share in their hardships. And we will die in the same place. If I disregard that rule now, I will be a coward and nothing else.”
Eve let out a sigh and then pulled out a short sword.
Apparently, she meant to fight. But Ashta did feel that it was right to make a delicate maid like her stand in front of him.
And so he thought of a plan.
He made his soldiers open up a path for the enemy, and then invited General Hannibal towards him.
Hannibal had no choice but to try and take Ashta’s head. And so he would come right away.
Astha would take advantage of that moment.
Eve smiled when he told her this, but Ashta had a grim expression.
He was not hurt by insults and claims that he only used dirty tactics, but there was a part of him that felt that killing the greatest general of the Mediterranean world was against his principles.
“These deeds will be written in history books, along with the deeds of other bloody Demon Kings.”
And they would be long and written in red letters.
Letter written in blood.
But it seemed appropriate for such a Demon King as him.
Hannibal’s army continued to charge towards Ashtaroth. And they knew that they were being lured into a trap.
They knew, but charged anyway.
At this point, there was no way for them to win. Hannibal’s remaining fighting force was too small.
And so if they were to have the smallest shred of hope, it was by turning the Demon King’s trap on its head, and killing him.
However, the problem was that there were no gaps in Demon King Ashtaroth’s plan.
Ashta positioned archers on both sides of the path that he had purposely opened up, and then unleashed arrows over Hannibal’s men.
Hannibal’s suicide corps were filled with the strongest. Their morale was high, and they had been seen as invincible. But most of them were still just humans. Living creatures.
And so there was no helping them when arrows fell down from both sides like rain.
The mercenaries and hive workers fell one after another.
Many of them covered Hannibal and died.
But Hannibal had no time to mourn their deaths. A second barrage of arrows came. And even more of his men died.
Then there was the third wave. At that point, there seemed to be only a handful of Hannibal’s men left.
The others had all died trying to protect him.
If there was one saving grace to their downfall, it was that their master was still alive. But even that was a stretch.
While Hannibal had survived, there were dozens of arrows piercing through him. How was he still alive? Both enemy and ally were confused at the sight.
Though his body was heavy like lead, Hannibal dragged himself towards Ashta, but he could not go far. His body could not keep up with his mind.
He had lost too much blood, and his body would no longer listen to him.
Death was on its way.
His only regret was that he had not been able to take Demon King Ashta’s head. But there was some good news too. It was that he would be killed by Demon King Ashta.
Demon King Ashtaroth. That was a name that would surely be spread from one end of the continent to the other.
On this continent that was called Glorieus, there would be no one who did not know his name.
A Great Demon King who would rule the continent. That’s who he would be.
And so he was happy to be killed by such a king. Future historians would be jealous of him.
That’s what Hannibal thought as he prepared to die.
He had meant to live until Demon King Astha arrived, but it was too late.
“…Damn it. Youngsters these days do not pay their elders the proper respect.”
Those were the last words of the great General Hannibal. But no one was there to hear them.
Because all of his men were dead.
It was said that an orc of Ashtaroth’s army saw this and was surprised.
He spoke of it.
The humans and even ant soldiers fought in order to protect General Hannibal.
They had thought that ants didn’t have a will of their own, and yet they had forsaken their own lives and fought until the end.
When the orc’s comrades died, he was sad, but he never cried.
However, when he looked at General Hannibal, and saw the men fall as they tried to protect him, the orc wept.
He wept on the battlefield for the first time.
He shed great tear drops for their sake.