Kuro no Maou 427 – Part 1/2

White Dragon’s Nest

 

It soon turned into a blizzard. Nothing but white as far as the eye could see. It was a furious snowstorm.

It seems that blizzards in Pandora are called ‘White Dragon’s Nests’. Of course, this doesn’t mean that all winter storms are due to swarms of Rank 5 White Dragons flying around in the sky. The vast majority of them are due to natural causes, though some snowstorms actually can occur when White Dragons fly in swarms.

In any case, the saying ‘shifting like the weather in the mountains’ has never been more appropriate. The bright blue sky from earlier in the morning felt as if they had been an illusion all along. Was the weather just casually clear that time we climbed the Asbel Mountains?

Just like that, Galahad Fortress was trapped within a barrier of wind and snow… No, it would be better to say that it was being protected by it. This sudden blizzard had forced the Crusaders to stop their assault completely.

“It doesn’t seem to be stopping for quite a while.”

Two hours had already passed since the forced ceasefire. I was still stationed in the castle walls. Of course, I was not in the winding passage leading outside, but inside the walls themselves.

These gigantic walls have two sets of stairs that are used to reach the top, one being outside and the other one leading inside the fortress. When seen from outside, the walls look flat like a dam, but looking from the inside, a large cylindrical tower can be seen, which extends itself all the way to the top as if it were a supporting pillar.

This tower’s inside is nothing but a spiral staircase, leading all the way up to the outer passage. Its gloomy stone walls make it look a bit like the ‘Revival Catacombs’.

In short, I was sitting on that spiral staircase’s steps, taking a long break. Our camp was located close to the summit so that we could reach the walls easily from there. I could not see anyone else around. That wasn’t because other adventurers weren’t willing to be there or anything, but probably because our camp was rather incomplete.

In fact, the top of the stairs is packed with steadfast Spada soldiers, who remain vigilant even under the furious blizzard. It’s possible that there were some other people stationed in other places as well. Everyone was working very hard even under such cold weather.

However, I wouldn’t exactly say that it was warm and cozy in the tower’s spiral staircase. It was very likely that there was no such thing as internal heating, so the temperature there wasn’t very different from outside. Staying in this tower would be impossible without some sort of cold resistance. Thankfully, ‘Diabolos Embrace’ does provide enough cold resistance so that sitting on those steps wasn’t so painful.

“It’s better that I rested for a while after all.”

Both my white breath and my voice came out feebly as I spoke.

I was sitting on those stairs by myself. Lily and Fiona were resting elsewhere. Even though those two still had some energy left to spare, they don’t have a monstrous amount of stamina as I do. They were better off taking this opportunity to recover. By that time, they could even be enjoying some late lunch at Galahad Restaurant.

I felt as if I had been fighting for a long time, but when it was all over I realized it just took all morning. If not for that sudden blizzard, we would still be fighting those chimera soldiers to prevent them from entering through the hole made by the Taurus. Even worse, the entire Crusader Army could have been swarming us by then.

They hadn’t lost a single Crusader soldier. They might have been merely treading water by using those chimera soldiers. The only true victories we have obtained in this battle so far were that slow Taurus and the Fulltune that King Leonhart managed to cut in half.

In any case, there wouldn’t be any convenient Crusader casualties by exposure to the blizzard, so there’s no doubt that the battle will simply be postponed. This was far from over.

“…Who’s there?”

My voice echoed over the spiral staircase with such intense sharpness that it surprised even myself.

“You don’t need to be so alert.”

After a brief moment of silence, I received a reply from a voice that carried no malice within.

“It’s a bit rude to be staring over there without saying anything, Farkius.”

“Ahahaha, sorry, sorry, my bad.”

Spada’s number 1 Gladiator was standing on the spiral staircase, carrying the kind of elegant smile most maidens can only dream of. Both his platinum blond hair and his white cloak sway with every steady and loud step he takes.

Simply because this guy was standing here quickly made the gloomy staircase look more brilliant, almost with a stunning effect. Not that I cared much for that, really. The only thing floating in my mind was the “What do you mean, my bad?” that I wanted to reply to his comment.

“Please say something like any normal person would next time around.”

“Oh, I’m happy that you want to meet with me again on another occasion.”

What kind of answer was that? If you were to say that same thing to a lady, wouldn’t it be somewhat off-putting? Though when you’re someone as handsome as Farkius, some women would actually allow for that kind of talk and even be pleased by it. Me? I probably wouldn’t even get a reply.

“So, can I help you with anything? I don’t suppose you came here just for a friendly chat.”

“I wish that was the case. If not for the fact that His Majesty has spoken, I would have done just that.”

“What did you say? Does King Leonhart need me?”

“But I suppose it wouldn’t hurt if we chatted for a while, don’t you think?”

I was very concerned about the King summoning me. Farkius, who didn’t seem to be as interested in that as I was, quickly sat beside me as if we were going to have a friendly conversation. Too close, as always. Why did he need to sit so close that our shoulders touched each other? I need my personal space.

“That’s why I’ve been looking for you all over the place.”

Farkius waved his blond hair away in such a way that it reminded me of a certain commercial for women’s shampoo. The sweet, faint fragrance of flowers that drifted about tickled my nose. It wasn’t the smell of a man, or rather, it wasn’t the smell a man naturally emits.

“And I’ve finally found you.”

I would have preferred for him to stop looking at me with such a persistent glance as if we were destined to meet. And to back away a little!

I had already managed to put myself about two clenched fists put together away from this guy. But I wondered if I could get even farther away.

“Well, Galahad Fortress is pretty huge. If you had found either Lily or Fiona and asked them, they would have told you where I was.”

“Oh, I did find those two. They were having lunch at Galahad Restaurant.”

“Then you could have asked them instead of looking for me, don’t you think?”

“That witch’s daughter was eating a huge stack of Fortress Special with such a straight face! It didn’t seem appropriate to interrupt her.”

How considerate! Oh well, it can’t be helped. It really is best to leave Fiona alone at times like those.

“But more importantly, I watched your great performance out there earlier.”

“Come on. I didn’t do that much.”

I would have turned my eyes away from him even if he wasn’t staring that much.

“I’m sorry, I know you weren’t going all the way back then, but still.”

“It’s not that… It’s just that no matter how serious I could have been out there, I still would not be able to stop that Fulltune Taurus’ charge.”

I knew it, my power was still not that great. I was well aware of my limitations.

“But His Majesty really is something else. I’m no match for him one-to-one. I’m sure he would be able to easily two, no, even three of me at the same time.”

King Leonhart must really be something special for someone as self-confident in his own strength as Farkius to say something like that. Perhaps that red flash from earlier is but one of his many techniques.

“He is really strong. He took one of those Ancient Golems all by himself. By the way, those things are called ‘Taurus’? You seem to be well informed.”

Speaking of which, are we still the only ones to know that name?

“That’s because Lily was able to get a lot of intel from one of them using her Telepathy when we got into its cockpit.”

“I see, so those things were manned. I’ve heard that there are some ancient relics that are magical items for telepathic control, but… I see now, by taking down its pilot, you can defeat those Taurus without actually having to damage them.”

“Lily also said that next time they would strengthen their defenses so that is no longer possible.”

“Strengthen their defenses?”

“A countermeasure for further telepathic hacking or something like that. I don’t know the details.”

It’s well outside my area of expertise, after all. But I figured it would be something like a computer’s security. It’s almost like those brilliant hackers who crack their way into highly classified state information in those Hollywood movies. The little girl Lily would make a posed look and say ‘Checkmate!’ as she hits the Enter key! I could almost see it.

“Since there’s so little we know about ancient weapons, to be able to obtain some intel from one of them is a big success in itself. It’s quite different from me, who could only manage to defeat one of them.”

“Did you defeat one too, Farkius?”

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