The Devil's Evolution Catalog Chapter 164: Nest of the Rodents (draft)
Err...why did it seem like I missed out someone?
Having been deprived of his share of souls, Vick was currently floating around me with a resentful look on his face. Unfortunately, his atrociously ugly mug and shiny pinball of a head wasn’t the least bit appealing as he tried to badger me for souls. Even so, I had to admit that having this potato float around me all the time was annoying. In the end, I gave into the pressure and gave him some souls, only then did he finally leave me alone.
Now that the spoils had been divvied up, it was time to move on with our main mission --assaulting the ratman’s nest.
Because those rodents sent out the majority of their elite fighting force and ended up getting defeated, their nest was extremely vulnerable now. According to our new road guides, there were only 15 000 rodents left...mhm, you heard me right, 15 000 or so rodents. However, this number wasn’t as terrifying as one would expect because the number of combatants were less than 5000. The rest were the injured rodents or their wives and kids.
Thanks to the harsh realities of Prison life, there was basically no place for the elderly who couldn’t fight. The wives and kids mentioned in that report were their pregnant wives and kids who simply weren’t old enough to fight.
Strictly speaking, this was a giant haul for us.
While boosting their strength also boosted their lifespan, the Abaddon Rodents as a whole were a lower race. Even if they wanted to boost their strength, their inborn talent limited their development. Thus, an ordinary Abaddon Rodent’s lifespan was extremely short, roughly 30 years.
Because of that, they adapted to have an astonishing fecundity. Their pregnancies only lasted for less than six months and their infants only needed a year to reach maturity. Upon reaching maturity, they already possessed a certain degree of combat strength. While it wasn’t much, their numbers more than made up for it. Using human wave tactics or rather rodent wave, there was nothing they couldn’t conquer, most of the time anyway.
Within the nest, there were five four-star ratman lieutenants. Each had their own fighting force aiding them in the defense. Not long after they realized that their overlord’s punitive force had been wiped out, our army, under the guidance of our new road guides, had already begun surrounding their nest.
In order to stop them from escaping, I dispatched a group of devils under the leadership of Numila and a few of our new rat slaves out to be our advance party while I rushed the main army along. The plan was to have them stall for time and catch up before the battle escalated to the point of no return. Yet, the moment we rushed onto the scene, I discovered a different scenario than what I had expected.
Like Mo En’s nest, their nest was carved out of the Prison’s wall by expending a large amount of souls.
Littered around the entrance were a large number of rat corpses peppered with bone javelins. From the looks of it, these must’ve been the ratmen who tried to resist but were gruesomely shot to death by Numila’s forces.
Having encountered our air forces before when Violet Snow attacked them, they knew to guard against our air squadron by turtling up in their nest. Should the harpies rush into the nest, they would lose their advantage of flight. Without that, there’s no guarantee that these shedevils could win in a fight against the ratmen. Thus, Numila made the wise choice of holding position in mid air while I brought the rest of the main army.
Given that stepping out of the nest guaranteed them a mouthful of bone javelins, those ratman defenders should be too scared to even show their ratty faces right now.
Yet, I found that they had no intention of giving up...that was clear from the fact they hadn’t sent out an emissary to declare their surrender yet...hmmm, could it have been a communication problem…
“Translate for me, surrender or I’ll massacre all these rodents.”
Naturally, Violet Snow wasn’t the one to deliver this ultimatum. Instead, it was delivered by one of the four-stars who surrendered, they were of the same race after all. Having a ratman persuade them would undoubtedly raise our chances significantly.
However, things weren’t as simple as I had thought. Having just said a couple of words, a bone spear aimed directly at that ratman came flying out of the cave. Thankfully, that ratman was a nimble one and managed to sidestep in time causing the spear to barely graze against his black fur.
This sudden show of hostility was truly an unexpected one. Glancing at the fallen bone spear, I discovered that it wasn’t one of the javelins used by my harpies. Because of the vast number of javelins required, the javelins I crafted were made from a bunch of short bones which resulted in each javelin rarely being over a meter long. That spear was clearly not one of my works.
Was that spear throw a sign that they were planning to fight till the end? Wait, that’s not important right now. What was important was: were those rodents able to create bone javelins?
That wasn’t good news for us at all. If they had such long range weapons as well, forcefully breaking into their nest was no longer an option. After all, they had the home advantage here. Compared to that, we had a bunch of ratman slaves who couldn’t even be deployed because they had just surrendered to us.
Asking a disloyal army of slaves who had just surrendered to fight by our side was the same as having a ticking time bomb in our midst. Thus, I had Elena guard over these rodents in a distant location with 2000 of her brethren. Her mission was simple: just make sure they didn’t cause any trouble.
So, when did those rodents learn to craft bone spears? Pulling out those nine rodent lieutenants, I questioned them one by one and got a very uniform answer from each -- a shake of their head and a simple “no idea”. Even so, there was no ruling out the possibility they had colluded beforehand.
Based on what we achieved so far, we still weren’t any further along our mission to uncover more intelligence about this nest.
In that case, attacking them blind was our only option. Given that Elena had to guard those rodents, our attack force was left with 2000 harpies, around 600 medusas, 40 hellhound riders and lastly, 300 guardsmen.
Looking at the narrow pathway, it was clear that the hellhound riders were basically useless in this engagement thus I had no choice but to put them on reserve. At the same time, because we were fighting in a cave, the harpies lost their flight abilities. However, I couldn’t exactly expect them to give up flying and turn into foot soldiers either.
Thus at the of the day, the forces we could employ for this assault was reduced to the medusas and my 300 guardsmen. However, that wasn’t even a thousand troops...less than a thousand troops to face off against an enemy that we had no intelligence on. To make matters worse, they had the home ground advantage as well…
I guess I should be thankful that the medusas were experienced with fighting in constricted spaces. Given my guardsmen’s equipment advantage, they shouldn’t fare that badly even with those disadvantages either.
However, was it really that simple? As they say, a cunning rabbit has three holes to hide in; a ratman that knows how to craft weapons shouldn’t be that stupid, right? It wouldn’t be surprise me if they had another exit somehow.
After interrogating our helpful road guides once more, I found out that they did in fact have another two more exits just as I had expected. In that case, our job just got a whole lot harder as we had to split up our remaining troops to block off those exits.
Sigh...I guess wiping out your opponent’s homebase only happened in those crappy webnovels…
Having finished my deliberations, I had Numila lead a separate division to guard the two other exits.
Then, it was time for me to try and assault this nest.
The cave entrance wasn’t small, in fact it could probably fit ten devils walking in a row and they wouldn’t find it cramped either. With that in mind, I had five of the guardsmen line up in a row and advance slowly with shields raised in order to scout out the cave. The end result was, having taken a few steps forward, they were immediately met with a hail of bone spears.
Their accuracy was average at best so the majority of the bone spears were harmlessly deflected by the bone shields with only one spear making through and piercing the calf of a guardsman. Given that the shields were merely 80 cm tall and 50 cm wide, it wasn’t that strange that a bone spear was able to make it through.
Having lost one of the shields, the five devil formation quickly buckled under the withering fire of a second volley of bone spears. Of the five guardsmen, three died. The lucky two survivors stumbled shakily out of the caves, their minds still in shock from the close brush with death they just had.
This...were they rats or porcupines?! Or maybe even bees?
Gosh darn it, how do you expect me to wipe you guys out if you indiscriminately toss your spears like that...err, come to think of it, they probably learnt to do that from my army...in that case, I don’t really have the right to blame them do I?
Darn it, their caves seem rather complicated as well, if I send in our newly-recruited cannon fodder…it would basically be same as letting the tiger return to its mountain...what if I led that army myself...would they still betray us and join up with their brethren?
The situation had definitely taken a turn for the worse yet I still wasn’t willing to give up on capturing this batch of rodents. However, forcefully attacking them wasn’t an option either since that would incur heavy losses for our army.
Damn, must I really give up now? No, I already made the long trip here so how can I simply return home like this? If I really gave up like that, how will I show my face in public ever again? I might as well just slap my own face and be done with it!
Thus, in order to avoid any unnecessary losses, the only other option left was to seek reinforcements. Though that was embarrassing as well, it was still a lot better than returning empty handed.
Come to think of it, weren’t the lizardmen cave experts? With Habona’s overwhelming might and Westley controlling them, the lizardman operation should be over by now. If that’s the case, we could get them to send us some lizardmen.
Since they weren’t my direct subordinates, losing them won’t really cause me pain anyway.
With that in mind, I promptly had Numila deliver a letter to Habona in hopes that she could send us a division of lizardmen to aid in our war effort.
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