1342 Unceasing Advantage
"How's the situation right now?" Tilly asked.
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"The enemies who tried to stop the truck convoy were almost completely wiped out, and the remaining demons in the sky are fleeing. I believe it is our win," Sylvie replied.
"It's a pity I didn't get a chance to participate in the end," Andrea said with a regretful shrug. "It looks like the grand demon lord from last time suffered some serious injuries."
'Seagull' had not taken part in this battle, but had been hovering in the clouds the entire time to guard against the possible appearance of Hackzord or other Senior Demons. After all, the most effective way to deal with demons like these who possess abnormal abilities was still Andrea's close-range sniping.
Unlike her dispirited companion, Sylvie was relieved.
She knew that the counterattack this time was not the same as the previous ambush on the Sky Lord. Hackzord had not noticed 'Seagull''s presence because she was not on board at the time. The situation on the battlefield was communicated via the Sigil of Listening, and even though she had been noticed by the vigilant Eye Demons the entire time, 'Seagull' was invisible and untraceable.
This time, however, because the battle needed to take place far away from their encampment, she had to move with 'Seagull' in order to be able to command the entire situation. It was for this reason that if the Sky Lord appeared with a new alert Eye Demon, 'Seagull' would also be spotted along with her. In other words, it was only when Hackzord or other Senior Demons made an appearance alone could Andrea's attacks actually take them by surprise.
Otherwise, if the shot didn't hit in one go, it would be difficult to predict how the battle situation would develop.
So their absence was actually a good thing.
After all, there was nothing more worth being happy over than successfully completing a job with everyone making it back safe and sound.
"It's better that you don't do anything. If Hackzord really does come, I don't think the truck convoy would have been able to retreat in one piece." Tilly shook her head resignedly. "I'm guessing that when Edith came up with this plan, she was also betting that the mobile, vigilant Eye Demons weren't something that could be replenished immediately after being used up, so the Sky Lord didn't want to take the risk of venturing out."
The princess's words basically expressed everything that Sylvie thought.
She could not help but nod her head over and over again. That was the princess for you!
"Oh yeah…" Tilly piloted her glider through and out of the clouds. "Now that victory is confirmed, let's ascertain the battle outcome before we leave."
Sylvie could be said to be experienced in this sort of thing, too—without the hindrance of obstacles, she could complete a cursory survey of the battlefield with only a little magic.
The moment she reached her conclusion, however, she froze.
"Two thousand… No, close to three thousand…"
"Three thousand?" Wendy gasped in shock. "How could there be so many?"
"Those Mad Demons—" Sylvie took a deep breath as she gazed in the direction of the distant mountain slope. "They weren't charging for the convoy before, but scattering in all directions!"
It was then that she noticed the hundreds of tiny holes on the hill-top that were there evidently to decrease the expenditure of the Mist. Most of the enemy had hidden underground to be awakened when they were needed in battle. But when the fortress Monstrous Beast collapsed, the red fog quickly dispersed without a supply source, and these demons were faced with a disaster.
They swarmed out not to destroy their attackers, but because they had sensed the dissipation of the Mist, emerging from their hiding places driven out of instinct and bounding wildly down the mountain, hoping to reach the next Red Mist supply region before they could no longer breathe.
But both Sand City and Sedimentation Bay were too far away.
The world that had been dominated by Red Mist regained its purity and clarity, but to the demons, it had become a deathtrap that they could not survive in. Before they could escape far they all dropped to the ground one after the other, spreading evenly in a circle at the foot of the mountainside. With the exception of a few Mad Demons that had small Red Mist gas tanks on them, most were silent now.
The general staff was certainly right on this point—just like how Graycastle could not equip every soldier with a God's Stone of Retaliation, the enemy could not distribute Red Mist gas tanks and breathing apparatuses to the hands of every Mad Demon. When fully equipped troops were deployed to attack human cities, only those who had originally been operating inside the Red Mist region remained to guard the place.
If they had been later by two days, the situation may have been vastly different.
Even if they had to recruit drivers from outside the army, they were determined to launch the counterattack on the day after the First Army withdrew from Sedimentation Bay. It must be said, this was an extremely decisive action.
"After this battle, I think the name, the 'Pearl of the Northern Region' will spread throughout all the Four Kingdoms," Tilly said with a curl of her lip.
With less than a hundred soldiers, they had annihilated an enemy troop of nearly three thousand, only losing one steam-powered truck and two 'Fires of Heaven' in the progress, there was not a single soldier casualty. The highly successful counterattack dramatically raised morale at the First Army headquarters, even when making reports, everybody's voices were louder.
But Edith didn't reveal any sign of satisfaction at this and, virtually on same the day the news of the victory reached Cage Mountain, she delivered her next battle plan.
The plan was immediately approved by the commander-in-chief, Iron Axe.
The truck convoy was even ordered to divert to the western pass of Cage Mountain when they were just on their way back. A truck carrying water for the Magic Cube met the truck group halfway through, and after supplying them with enough water joined them in their journey west.
The Aerial Knights returned to Thorn Town and, after a short preparation, took off again, arriving at the western pass airport before nightfall.
At noon the following day, the truck convoy which had been traveling the entire day entered the west boundary of the Kingdom of Wolfheart. Three more steam-powered trucks were damaged along the way, as it was harder to avoid potholes and other obstacles on the road during the night, while the rest of the trucks launched into an attack on another Fortress-like Monstrous Beast without stopping.
Although the demons were aware that the humans were targeting these moving obelisks, what they did not expect was that in just a day and a half, the counterattack team had finished the journey across the Kingdom of Wolfheart. Another Fortress Beast had just retreated inside Gust Castle at this time. In the absence of peripheral protection, the truck convoy entered a ten-kilometer range while resisting the attack of some patrolling Devilbeasts before unloading four Longsong Cannons.
Once again, the Aerial Knights acted as "hunters"—with the tacit cooperation of Sylvie and Tilly, the group of new soldiers who had only entered the battlefield for less than half a year almost replicated the process of the last battle. When the enemy's flying troops made the artillery their primary target, they swooped down from above the enemy's heads and immediately broke the opponents' formation.
The beasts were blasted to pieces by the gunfire, and the small number of demons were unable to hold the convoy back even at close quarters in the face of the God's Punishment Witches that were guarding the convoy.
By the third day, the enemy was at last beginning to expand their defences around the four cities, and was sending demons to destroy the simple hardened roads between the cities. But the entire road was several hundreds of kilometers long, and it was impossible to destroy it completely. On that day, steam-powered trucks drove through the region dozens of kilometers out from Sand City, attracting the demons' attention. Meanwhile, twenty-five 'Fire of Heaven's flew around the towering Impassable Mountain Range according to plan, directly attacking the rear of Metalstone Ridge, showering the Red Mist transportation supply line with gunfire.
It was also at this time that the effect of the two consecutive aerial losses and the overly long battlefront on the demons gradually emerged, and when they gathered enough of Devilbeasts to arrive at the battlefield, the Aerial Knights had already vanished in the cold and howling sky.