The Devil's Evolution Catalog Chapter 20: The Guardian of the Thirteenth Step
Species Name: Small Imp
Tier Level: Zero
Characteristics: Flame Resistance
Summary: Small imps are one of the most important pillars of the devil race. They are the origin point of most of the devils’ evolution tree. While they might have an important role in the devil race, they are also the bottom rung of the devil society. They are akin to slaves and cattle.
------From <<Devils and Men>>
“Where did you go?”
In the face of my questioning, Scar-face flashed me a mysterious smile, oblivious to my mood. “I knew you would get into trouble, just leave this step to me.”
Without waiting for my reply, Scar-face commanded his army to attack with a wave of his hand. “Charge!”
Numerous amounts of devil responded with a resounding cheer. Scar-face broke into a dash towards the step while the devils followed closely behind his lead. Around 70 large imps and 700 small imps rushed towards the step like a tidal wave.
What's going on? Why does he have so many subordinates? Did he go on a recruitment drive during the period he went missing? And here I thought he was planning to watch from the sidelines and reap the benefits after.
Scar-face’s fresh army gave our side the boost we needed to breakthrough. As Scar-face entered the fray, No.5 slowly retreated with his contingent, leaving the battle to Scar-face.
Scar-face’s methods were nothing if not savage. Kicking, biting, clawing, whatever it took to kill his opponent. His subordinates were just as savage as they fearlessly tore into the defenders. Soon, the entire step was suppressed and victory was now just a matter of time.
I turned around to look at No.3. He was leading the team of small imps who were most likely to advance and got them to feed on the fourth step. Within his contingent, there were already 20 such imps. At this rate, we will have over 100 newly evolved large imps by the time we reach the thirteenth step.
Among the scamp contingents, No.4 suffered the most deaths with over half the contingent dead. Next was No.5 with almost 200 dead. No.2 hadn't entered the fray yet while No.3 was in the middle of a mission. One-eye’s large imp army still had no deaths but had a few that were lightly wounded.
Scar-face led his army in a reckless charge through the fifth step, completely disregarding their personal safety. Soon, they breached the fifth step entirely and prepared to attack the 6th step. While their morale was high at the moment, their casualty rate had reached 20%.
I immediately ordered them to hold their ground and defend while I dispatched No.5 and One-eye to assault the sixth step…
The battle raged on in this manner. Every minute and every second, a devil died somewhere. By the time we reached the thirteenth step, the combined number of imps in No.2, 4, and 5’s contingents came out to slightly under a hundred. It was nearly a wipe.
The only contingent which had no casualties was No.3’s. One-eye’s large imp army was nearly reduced by half with their current strength at 72. As for Scar-face, he was much worse off with his small imps being completely wiped out while his large imp team had only 26 left.
However, we finally made it to the last step. As I looked down my from the top of the stairs, the blood sea expanded into the horizon before me. By now, the blood sea had engulfed the entire level save for the stairs we were standing on.
The entrance to the upper floor was located on a cliff face and one had to climb a several hundred meters tall slope in order to reach it. This slope was nearly gone by now.
As waves crashed onto the ground near us, countless corpses could be seen floating and sinking on its crimson surface. It reminded me of the flooding of Jinshan temple in <<Madam White Snake>>. 
The last step was a giant platform that obscured any attempts at spying from the lower steps. This was the reason why I misjudged the enemy's numbers. After stepping onto this platform, I finally realized how large the enemy’s forces were.
120 hulking imps stood in front of the entrance to the upper floors; behind them were a thousand small imps. Commanding them was a horned large imp...wait...large imp?
That potato is definitely not a large imp! His body is too large for that. A normal large imp was about 1.5 to 1.7 meters tall and did not possess a horn.
The imp in front of me was different. He was at least 1.8 meters tall and had a horn which curved back like a scimitar; resembling a goat’s horn. He must be a two-star head imp!
“You are finally here.” The head imp said in a sinister voice which grated on one’s ears. From the moment I appeared, his blood red eyes had never left me.
My brows furrowed as I endured the indignity of being treated like a female devil and questioned him, “Why are you blocking the entrance? Let us pass through, fighting now would do us no good. Once the blood sea catches up to us, none of us can escape.”
“The one who can't escape is you guys.” The head imp laughed in a voice that sounded like [chet chet chet]. “Of course, if you are scared, I can give you a chance. If you agree with my condition, I'll let you off.”
“Don't be so quick to refuse me, who knows, you might actually like it.”
“I don't even need to guess to know that your condition is me…” By now, I was very familiar with these devils’ chain of thought. There was no way I would sell my body for a chance at living. I rather die than do so.
My decisive refusal enraged the head imp. He roared at me: “What's wrong with being my servant!? Shouldn't the weak serve the strong!?”
“That's just your viewpoint, besides to me, you are merely a foot soldier as well.” I threw him a disdainful gaze as I said so. With a wave of my hand, the final battle for the entrance began. “Fight!”
“Fight! Fight for the Master!”
Having received the command to fight, the hot-blooded masochist, One-eye, charged ahead with his contingent. By now, they were only left with a mere fraction of their original large imp count.
Scar-face looked deeply into my eyes as if he had a mountain of things to say, but only threw me a short sentence: “After this fight, I'll be free.”
“That's right.” I replied.
“I won't give up on you.” Scar-face turned around and charged off with his scattered troops into battle before I could respond.
I’m so pissed...don't spew such nonsense during such a crucial period! These blind bastards need to open their eyes! In what way do I look like a female!? I'm a bonafide man with steel in my blood!
The combined forces of One-eye and Scar-face only came out to a hundred large imps and another hundred small imps. On the other side, they had a head imp, 120 large imps and a thousand small imps. No matter how you looked at it, we were bound to lose.
But was it really so?
Don't forget, I still had a fresh contingent in reserve. One that had never seen a battle up til now. That was No.3’s small imp contingent!
I had never dispatched this contingent to fight and instead fed them all the corpses we gathered. Because of this, out of the 600 small imps commanded by No.3, nearly a hundred of them had evolved!
In the initial clash with the enemy, we came out ahead thanks to our bone clubs. However, this did not last for long. One-eye and the others weren't suited for long battles. Even if they were given time to rest, they would still be exhausted.
As such, I gave No.3 his dispatch orders: “No.3 it's time for you to fight. Flank them from the right and take care of the small imps. Send a portion to help One-eye.”
It was finally time for No.3 to enter the fray. This newly evolved large imp was raring to fight. His body was shaking from excitement instead of fright. With a wave of his bone club, he howled: “With me, kill those who stand in our way! For the Master!”
“For the Master!”
With our army’s signature chant, No.3 led his contingent of devils into battle. As planned, they flanked the enemy and threw them into disarray. This wasn't an exhausted army like One-eyes's, it was a fresh army that was brimming with energy. The only thing they were lacking was a place to expend this energy.
With each swing of their clubs, a devil's head was split open like a watermelon. Their charge plowed through the field of imps like a sharp scythe; nothing could stand in their way.
We had large imps leading this charge after all. With their superior strength and the denseness of the defenders’ formation, each swing was able to hit a few imps.
As No.3’s contingent crashed through the army, a portion of the large imps split off to handle the enemy large imps while the remaining forces took care of the remaining 800 enemy small imps. With their bone clubs, this was an easy battle for them.
However, this successful charge did not improve our situation as a whole. While the enemy was successfully separated, One-eye was just too tired. Even with No.3’s reinforcements, they were only able to force the head imp led army to a draw.
The head imp possessed a weapon the other large imps did not; his horn. While it was curved back, it's hardness made it a formidable ramming weapon. As he fought, he would suddenly bite at his opponents. If the bite missed, he could still ram his opponents. Nine-finger was one of the unlucky imps sent flying by his horn.
After defeating the large imp guarding the head imp’s flank, Scar-face immediately tried to ambush the head imp. However, this sneak attack only caused him to stagger a few steps before he managed to stabilize himself once more. He turned around to find a stunned Scar-face.
He spun around and punched him with the force of his rotation behind it. Scar-face barely made it in time to defend against this attack with both his hands. However, even with his successful defense, the force behind the punch was just too great for him. Scar-face was knocked down by it, the bones in his arm cracking as he fell.
Just as the head imp was about to finish off Scar-face, a black arrow whistled through the air and hit him on his shoulders, momentarily stunning him with a wave of pain. Seeing his chance, Scar-face wisely made his escape.
As his prey escaped, the head imp furiously looked around and spotted me casting a darkness arrow.
After evolving, a bunch of arcane knowledge entered my mind. Darkness arrow was one the skills I learnt from this knowledge.
It was a skill which controlled the darkness element and compressed it into an arrow. The more one channeled, the greater its strength. It was a darkness skill similar to the one used by a caster in the world famous MMO <<World of Peacecraft>>. This arrow had to be controlled by the caster’s psyche as it was formed and also when it was fired.
Due to my inexperience with this skill, it takes me 5 seconds to cast it.
That arrow I shot only blew off the skin on his shoulder. While the wound might look grizzly, it wasn't a serious injury.
It was a dismal outcome for a skill which took 5 seconds to cast. Within this casting period, my legs couldn’t move at all, rendering me vulnerable to any attacks. If he charged at me at this moment, I would be nothing more than a practice dummy.
Shit, he's charging at me…
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