I won’t call this atonement.
And it’s certainly not justice.
It’s just that I don’t want all the lives I’ve taken to be in vain.
That is the most I can do with these bloodstained hands.
The battlefield is a messy jumble of humans and demons.
There are no tactical formations or organized maneuvers, only chaos.
No amount of stratagems will make any difference here; all either side can do is try to defeat the enemy in front of them.
And I certainly can’t give any commands on the battlefield.
Whether in this life or my previous one, I’ve never had any experience leading troops into battle.
Since being put in charge of the Eighth Army, I’ve learned quite a bit, but the staffers who have been with these troops long before I came along can give much more precise orders than I can.
Honestly, I’m not cut out to be a commander.
In terms of strengths, I’d be better off fighting on the front lines as a simple soldier.
But considering the goal of this battle, it’s better that I don’t go too wild on my own.
If I did, there would certainly be plenty of losses on the humans’ side, but not so many on the demons’ side.
Which wouldn’t be good. We need the human and demon sides to suffer equal casualties.
So I can’t lead the charge on the front lines, but that doesn’t mean I can hang back and just give orders, either.
I’m not good at it, for one thing.
And if the Eighth Army soldiers figured that out, they’d lose all respect for me.
To put it bluntly, the Eighth Army is a bit of a motley crew.
Originally, the Eighth Army existed mostly in name only, with very few actual soldiers.
But the former Eighth Army Commander gave up the empty title and is currently focusing on politics.
The handful of soldiers who originally belonged to the Eighth Army were all merged into other units.
So where did these new soldiers come from? Well, the private armies of certain demon feudal lords were disbanded and cobbled together to make a new force.
The former Ninth Army Commander Nereo…he tried to assassinate Miss Ariel, the Demon Lord, and failed.
Before that, he also assisted the former Seventh Army Commander Warkis in attempting to start a rebellion.
After their plot was exposed, Nereo’s private army and those of the nobles who were affiliated with Nereo have all been consolidated and forcibly enlisted from their respective regions to form the current Eighth Army.
As a result, their overall morale isn’t exactly high.
Some of them are even downright mutinous.
All I’m doing is forcibly keeping them in line.
If they start to believe for even a second that I’m not in control, it’s over.
I’m sure there would be plenty of deserters. Some of them might even take that opportunity to attack me.
Since I’ve made a point to show them how strong I am, I’d like to think that wouldn’t happen, but if it did, I’d probably wind up having to turn my blade on my own subordinates.
I guess that’d ultimately add to the number of deaths we need, but obviously I would prefer to avoid that if I can help it.
So in the end, my solution is plain and simple.
If I’m no good at giving orders, I just won’t give them.
Instead, I’ll make this battle so chaotic that orders would be pointless.
And if I can also ensure there aren’t any deserters, it’ll be perfect.
Easy to accomplish by just setting up some land mines behind the ranks of the Eighth Army.
That made it clear there’s no turning back.
And if they try anyway, I’ll cut them down.
When I announced that, they were so shaken up, it was almost funny.
After that, there was only one thing left for me to do: start destroying the fort.
By throwing magic swords from a long distance so I wouldn’t be seen.
That means the humans have to run out of the fort to escape, so they have no choice but to face us.
My magic sword attacks can bring down their defenses with ease.
There’s no point trying to hide out inside. That would just cause more casualties.
And I’m still throwing swords to keep the pressure on.
The demon army can’t retreat, and the human army has to advance.
The only option left is for them to crash into each other.
If they’re basically being forced into combat, there’s no real point in trying to strategize or give orders on this mess of a battlefield.
As chaos reigns, I keep throwing magic swords at the rear of the human army and only cutting down the humans who come toward me directly.
Even with my magic swords, I’m trying to keep the damage to a minimum.
If I destroy too much of the human army, there won’t be as many demon casualties.
They are my allies, like it or not, so theoretically, I should be trying to minimize their losses, but what I’m doing is the opposite.
I’m a cruel commander.
These men are deeply unlucky to be stuck with me as a leader.
I feel bad for them, but I don’t have any other option.
Because that’s what I swore I would do.
As I keep chucking magic swords and taking down the humans who come toward me, I hear a strangely loud bellow that cuts through the insane racket of the battlefield.
It goes on for so long that I have to be impressed by the sheer lung capacity.
The cry is coming from a knight, swinging his sword as he charges toward me.
Through the gaps in his helmet, I can see that he’s a thoroughly wrinkled old man.
He looks pretty elderly to me, but he’s fighting more fervently than just about anyone else here.
And he looks familiar, or at least his sword style does.
It’s the same old knight who attacked me a while back when I was still just an ogre.
“Harrumph! Such a fearsome aura! I can tell you must be the leader of this demon army! They call me Nyudoz! Let us have a fair and honest fight!”
Oof, this guy’s intense…
Once he gets close to me, the old knight Nyudoz starts yelling about single combat, heedless of the chaos swirling around us.
It seems kind of tone-deaf, to be honest.
We’re way past a “fair and honest” one-on-one battle at this point.
What kind of idiot would try to challenge someone to a duel in the middle of a chaotic battlefield?
This kind, apparently.
But his stupidity is almost…refreshing.
He’s an idiot, all right, but he’s clearly devoted to his chosen path.
The guy’s living a stupidly earnest life, staying true to his beliefs and values.
I’m a little…well, more than a little jealous actually.
It’s a far cry from someone like me, who’s been indecisive and uncertain all my life.
“Fine. I accept.”
I only went out of my way to answer him on a whim.
I had the urge to have a “fair fight” with this person, that’s all.
Mr. Nyudoz doesn’t seem to remember that we’ve fought once before, long ago.
To be fair, I was an ogre back then, and I look pretty different now.
But I’m not going to bother telling him that.
A guy like this probably doesn’t care about the past anyway.
For me, though, I guess this is a chance for a rematch?
That makes me feel a little strange, but it doesn’t change what I have to do.
“Let us begin!”
Mr. Nyudoz lunges forward sharply.
It’s hard to believe he’s supposed to be an old man, never mind one wearing tons of heavy armor, from the speed of his movements.
Humans are supposedly lower in stats than demons, but he has better footwork than your average demon for sure.
How many of the Eighth Army soldiers could move like this?
Still, though, he can’t keep up with me.
I’ve gotten a whole lot stronger since I was an ogre.
My magic sword cuts clean through his blade.
It was probably a pretty nice sword, but between my stats and my handmade magic swords, a single strong slash separates it into two pieces.
My sword flashes toward Mr. Nyudoz’s neck next.
Before he can even attempt to defend himself, his head rolls on the ground.
This way, at least, I figured he’d die peacefully without feeling any pain.
It might be presumptuous of me to think about that, but it’s the best I can offer him.
It seems like Mr. Nyudoz was pretty important to the human army. The soldiers who witness his death fall back in horror, obviously shaken.
As soon as that cornerstone crumbles, the rest of the enemy soldiers go down like so many dominoes.
Just like that, the Eighth Army has secured its victory.