Rise of the Heroes
In the warm office of the garrison post Commander Fredijak was scrutinizing a large map on his table with the captains from the resting teams. The Commander was an experienced veteran who once served at the Northern Battlements.
Among his men he was respected and admired for his keen and decisive intellect. Most of these officers had served under him at one point in time at the battlefront. Together they were discussing strategies to support their brothers out in the field.
A large circle was drawn on the map with the center being just north of the village. Small arcs were shown inside the large circle. Looking at this map with all the scribbles and arrows one could grasp the meaning behind it.
A simple but large net was cast over the village that slowly moved inwards. This was the method the Military used when approaching a scenario like this one. It was not the first time they were hunting demons that escaped from the battlements at the North Mountains and it would not be the last. The only difference this time was that it was the first time they had to face a demon of this caliber.
“Sumter and his team should be nearing the south area soon. Let the teams keep hunting around the north for now. Roberts, keep those mercenaries pressing into the forest the demon might decide to attack them. Those from the large clans and houses are starting to make some moves.”
Just as the large clans and others were trying to use the Military to their advantage, so to the Military was using them to achieve its purpose. Fredijak was an old crow when it came to these matters. He had years of experience in dealing with these people.
The Military had near exclusive rights when it came to using the demons north of the battlements. Those chosen to receive the talisman were loyal to the Military first. The Military was an arm of the Emperor. No ruler would want other clans or large families to become more powerful and pose a threat to their rule.
Even though the Military’s main purpose was to protect the Empire from those demon beast, it had the hidden mandate to ensure that those elite guards assigned to the Emperor would always be loyal and more powerful than any other houses.
A high-class demon was something that posed a threat to national security. Not because of its threat to the people, but its threat to the Emperor should someone succeed in making it a talisman. No Emperor would want some unknown person floating around his capital city and home with a power akin to a dragon.
This was the true reason why the Commander was rapidly deployed to the area.
Commander Fredijak was musing over his thoughts how to proceed with his strategy when the door burst open.
Roberts was the first to shout as his hands automatically went for his sword. These men were born through battle and bloodshed. They had served in the front lines at the north and were rotated into the backup positions. This way the Military kept its men experienced without burning them out.
No idiot would dare to barge into a high-powered meeting like this one. Heavy punishment or death was the only option after such actions. The actions of the others including the Commander was just as quick following Roberts.
Taking in the figure before them was what had them dumbfounded and speechless.
The man who burst into the room was now holding onto the door frame and panting loudly. It was like he was a struggling swimmer in a turbulent river gasping for breath. He then took a deep breath and turned his face to the stunned men in the room.
In a different time, a different romantic setting and in a different seductive dream, this action at the door and the type of lecherous gaze would have made any man blood boil.
Presently at this very moment these men blood were crawling.
The person that looked like he was supporting the door frame called out in a high-pitched voice.
With a slight shudder the Team captains turned towards Commander Fredijak. They were aware of the relationship between the two. The Commander like all men had his vices. If not for their hidden relationship that everyone was aware of, Tochus would have already been cut down.
The young man calmed himself and strutted towards the table and gave a salute. If it wasn’t for the previous debacle, nobody would have believed this was the same person from a few seconds ago.
“Commander Fredijak, this one brings an urgent report.”
The Commander looked at the young man standing in salute. His appearance was ragged and a stench was beginning to emanate from him as if it was getting stronger by the minute. As the warm room thawed him out, so too he began to smell like a sewer.
Fredijak would never believe that this was the same Tochus who normally accompanied him.
The gazes of the other captains fell on this disheveled individual. His clothes were covered in filth and yellow liquid was still dripping around his boots. The dazzling white fur was now covered in filth as if he had stumbled and rolled around in some mud.
‘What would be brown and black in a snow-covered ground? The smell gave away the answer.’
Along with the marathon breathing, he cut a sorry state. He seemed like a man who just underwent the beating of his life and was then dragged through a sewer for a bath.
Tochus face was not one of a rich brat who bore grievance for the condition he was reduced to or one of humiliation. Instead it was full of fear and excitement.
These men had fought numerous battles in the North Mountains. They were aware of how inexperience soldiers acted on witnessing a demon horde. It didn’t take them more than a few breaths to understand the situation.
“By the Gods! Where is it?”
The Commander beat them to the question of the day.
Young noble born rookie, running away in a beggarly state, forced to smell like sh$#, pissed himself, and now looking for browning points. Add these facts to a demon lurking around and it was not hard to put the pieces together. Only a terrible entity could disregard the standings of a young noble.
Which novice soldier did not cross some of these points during their first demon beast battle?
Of course these men might not have fulfilled all of these conditions together. That honor was now claimed unchallenged by master Tochus.
Young master Tochus had now calmed himself. Within the garrison he considered himself to be in the safest place. He straightened himself and assumed the stance of a subordinate delivering an important message.
“Commander! As instructed, MY team was supposed to relieve the others at the east in the forest border. I had my suspicions about the demon being clever enough to hide in the slums, so I decided to make a search…”
“Yes, yes get on with it. Hurry with the important points man!”
Commander Fredijak interrupted him angrily. This Tochus really knew how to spin a tale.
“Am.. yes Commander, the Hound found a scent in the slums. I tried to send one of my men with the message but they were adamant that they protect my escape… I mean my success in completing this task.”
“Roberts, get the slum area surrounded by the garrison and soldiers. Dominus get the Hounds we have on standby moved to between the forest and the slums. If the demon breaks out we will risk the Hounds to slow it down. Jiang contact those adventurers and mercenaries within the village get them to probe the slums, we need to tire this beast before we attack it. Lets sacrifice them before heading in with our soldiers. Those clans still have men around, get the word out to use them.”
Within an hour the slum area was surrounded. Even if the wolf demon broke out from this encirclement the direction it went would be known. There were too many curious eyes looking on in anticipation.
The Commander and a team of elite soldiers were stationed in the north outskirts of the slums. Outfitted in their bloodstained armor and weaponry they cut an imposing sight among the others.
There was one soldier who seemed to be out-of-place in that group of heroic figures. It was a young man who had the appearance of someone being bullied. Even those elite soldiers seem to turn up their noses and move away from him whenever he ventured closer to them. Only those close by understood the real reason why.
A soldier ran up to the group as they positioned themselves.
“Commander the first group of adventurers have now been sent into the area. In a moment we will send the others from different points. At the sound of battle all of them have been instructed to congregate at that position and suppress the demon.”
“Good job, remember our soldiers are to use long rage tactics to aid in suppression. As soon as the beast is weakened, move in to kill it. Wipe out any opposition along the way.”
As the Commander was relaying his instructions a man emerged from within the slum area moving out between those dilapidated shacks. On sighting the outfit that stood out from the others he moved towards the elite team.
“I’m looking for Commander Fredijak. I have a message for him.”
A soldier recognized that he was a member of the first party that ventured into the slums. He relayed it to the commander.
“Speak the message.”
“Young master Gofart, the Captain of the reconnaissance team have asked that the Commander make haste to meet him near the center of the slum. The threat of the wolf demon is no more. I will lead the way.”
The adventurer spoke in a fearful manner but it was loud enough for others in the vicinity to hear.
‘The demon is gone?’
‘Was it killed? The Military actually has someone so strong to fight those demons one on one?’
‘Who is this invincible Captain that guy is so fearful of? Did you see the way he was shaking?’
‘Who is this young master Gofart? That wolf demon took out nearly half of the garrison when they were on patrol!’
Even as the adventurer turned to lead the Commander and his elite team into the slums the contents of that message spread like wildfire among those circling the area. Slowly those groups of men made their way between those shacks and snowbanks to the center area.
The sight that greeted the Commander and the others left them stupefied and spawned the rise of a new legend.
Young master Gofart, Captain of the reconnaissance team stood on a low mound of snow and broken wood. He had the aura of a hero emanating from him, a conqueror slightly fat, pudgy maybe, but that was the talk that spread from those who saw it.
The main reason they didn’t focus on master Gofart was that those present had their eyes locked to the thing resting beneath one of his feet.
Under a boot was the head of the wolf demon.
The place became dead quiet even though it was crowded with people.
Master Tochus was the first to break this silent spell.