Kuro no Maou 427 – Part 2/2

White Dragon’s Nest

“Ah, just as I thought, you did not see my performance, huh?”

Don’t look at me with that painfully bitter smile. You won’t get any sympathy from me.

“…Could it be that one whose legs were cut off to make it fall?”

“Yes, yes! That’s the one!”

Farkius’ smile bloomed like a flower in spring. I could almost see the roses bloom and glitter in behind him.

“I got its right leg, then Eis got its left leg. But ‘Yomi’ beat us to the finishing blow.”

It seems there was quite a fierce competition between the adventurers in the southern-left area, which was opposite from where we were fighting. And this Eis he mentioned was none other than Prince Eisenhart, who is the commanding officer of the ‘Gladiators’. Why were those two fighting side by side at the front lines? Is that how the Spada Royal Family raise their children?

“Those legs are considerably huge. Being able to slice them in two is quite a feat in itself.”

“I thought so too, but after seeing His Majesty’s secret technique, I’m not so proud of that anymore.”

I believe it’s best if neither of us tries to compare to the king.

“Leaving that aside… haven’t we been summoned by the King? Shouldn’t we get going?”

“I’d like to keep talking with you for a little longer… but if you’re in such a hurry, I guess it can’t be helped.”

Farkius stands up with ease, and I soon follow suit. I was still feeling a bit stiff since I had been sitting in that cold place for so long.

“So what’s this important matter that requires our presence before the King?”

“I have been ordered by King Leonhart to call both the battalion of ‘Gladiator’ and all members from ‘Order Raid’ to convene in the command room.”

Was it really necessary for Farkius to try and imitate a messenger? Before this Spada knight came to deliver this message, he had been talking to me in such a carefree manner…

Well, I guess I should better think that he came here looking for something instead of thinking he was just being friendly. Either way, I’ve got nothing to hide.

“I don’t know the details yet, but I guess you can imagine what it’s going to be about.”

“A countermeasure against the Taurus, huh?”

According to Lily, the next time that the Fulltune Taurus make their appearance, there will be no less than ten of them, so they will definitely come back to attack us. And they won’t need more than one of those to finish breaking through the castle walls.

They had already made two holes on these walls.

“Well then, shall we go?”

“…What’s that hand for?”

Did I look like some sort of damsel in distress to you? With a tender smile, Farkius extended his right hand, which was covered in a white glove.

“Don’t you need me to escort you?”

“I need directions, not your hand.”

My eyes might not be as pretty as those he is surely used to look at, but still I gave him a somewhat scornful glance. Though it might go unnoticed to the average person, it seems that Farkius didn’t fail to notice it.

“Hmm, I know, I know. I was joking. I’ll show you the way. Let’s go, then.”

Thinking it was a bit suspicious of him, I had no choice but to rely on this handsome gladiator’s guidance.

*************

“Whoa, things seem to have gotten quite rough.”

That was the first thing Simon muttered as soon as he entered Galahad Fortress. Adventurers here and there were talking about something with the Spada soldiers, who were coming and going as busy as bees. Against the background of a towering fortified wall and a fortress that is twice as large as the old Iskia Castle, the plaza lined with shops, stables and tents was noisier than the blizzard.

“Hmm, it seems they were somehow able to break some holes in the castle walls. Did King Leonhart underestimate our enemies, or were the Crusaders stronger than we had anticipated?”

A voice as sharp and cold as a snowstorm came from behind Simon’s back. It was the mysterious adventurer Sophie, who covered her face with a magic veil.

Her cold blue eyes had caught a glimpse of the two large holes in the castle walls, even with that blizzard which would greatly obstruct anyone’s vision. At the same time, one could guess that the Spada soldiers would be rushing to work on the wall’s repairs. Anyone who had actually paid attention would have noticed that stones were being carried towards the holes one after the other.

Those stones were so large that it would take a carriage pulled by two, no, even four horses to move them. It wasn’t just about their size, since they weren’t just regular stones. They were building stones with a level of hardness fitting the Galahad castle walls. They had been stockpiled just in case repairs were ever necessary, though nobody could have ever thought that the time for using them would actually come.

“The walls have been breached… what in the world did that?”

“Don’t worry, I’ll protect you no matter what.”

Two brown arms embrace Simon’s slender body from behind. At the same time, his body unintentionally went stiff as he felt two big, no, huge soft things pressing against his back.

Simon was wearing a thick fur coat, worthy of the challenge of climbing the Galahad Mountains with it, but he still was able to feel them.

Sophie’s body, which was clad in her usual exotic dancer’s clothes, lied unexpectedly behind a thin robe. Simon had reacted like any man would have, even though he did not want to.

“Ah, um… please let go of the reins.”

That’s the only thing he managed to say.

Simon and Sophie were on horseback. It wasn’t the average horse which two people can just ride and get along, but a beautiful pure-white unicorn.

However, it was hard to believe that Sophie’s beloved steed, which was twice as big as a regular horse and with as brawny as a bull, was really a unicorn. The characteristic horn of a unicorn, which many consider to be a work of art, sparkles with a faintly blue light like a crystal, but it’s so big, thick, and it’s so fiercely twisted that it looks rather ominous.

“Hoho, he’ll be alright. He’s such a good boy after all.”

Though it looked more like a monster than like a unicorn, it was a good steed that was able to understand its master’s intentions. Its pace was surprisingly quiet, and didn’t rock as much when walking, despite Simon thinking that ‘letting go of its reins would be dangerous’.

For starters, it was clear how well it had been trained, just due to the fact that it had allowed a man to get on its back. Or perhaps it’s just that it doesn’t even recognize Simon as a man?

“Stop it or I’ll get off the horse!”

“Ah, wait–”

Simon escaped from Sophie’s hug and rolled his way off the unicorn’s back, almost as if running away. It seemed to be higher off the ground that he had expected, and before he realized, he was letting off a shriek as he landed on the snow that had been piling up due to the blizzard.

“You don’t have to be so impatient. The Galahad Mountains are right in the middle of a ‘White Dragon’s Nest’, so neither us nor the enemy can make a move for at least three days.”

After saying those swift words, Sophie tapped on her steed’s belly with her feet. The unicorn immediately lowered its head and extended its snout to Simon, who had been completely submerged into the snow.

“Which means that for the next three days, we get to get a nice, long rest at an inn.”

It was faster for the unicorn to pull Simon out of the snow using its teeth than for Simon himself to get himself out of it. Another tiny shriek escaped from Simon’s mouth as the unicorn pulled him up.

“In this state of confusion, there might not be too many available rooms. Maybe we’ll have to share a tiny room with a single, cramped bed. It might be a little tight, but I guess we’ll have to endure it.”

“We don’t have time to relax! I have to meet with my brother! Actually, only I need to keep going from this point onwards, so please drop me here, thank you very much for bringing me this far!”

“Aw, don’t be so shy! We’re already a party, right? Come on, let’s spend the night together under a single roof and get to know each other better as fellow party members.”

Sophie laughs mischievously under her veil. It was almost as if the brown beast had found the white rabbit’s nest.

“–I’m sorry, Sophie, but I’ll be borrowing Simon for a while.”

A small feathered figure appeared from behind the snowstorm, enveloped in a faint green light.

“Lily?!”

“You’ve arrived earlier than expected. Welcome to Galahad Fortress.”

Lily puts on her cheery smile, worthy of a girl as beautiful as her.

Simon’s eyes welled up into tears, probably because he was either deeply moved by the fact that he was being rescued, or because he had been nominated by a scary fairy.

“It would take more than this snowstorm to prevent us from going any further. But more importantly, what do you want with my Simon?”

“What are you saying about me, Sophie? Please stop, it’s making me uncomfortable.”

“I didn’t mean to intrude or anything, but the situation isn’t so good at the moment. But I need Simon to come with me for now, if that’s okay with you.”

“Wait a minute, Lily! Why are you treating me like a bargaining chip here?”

“… The situation at Galahad Fortress has gotten worse than ever with those holes on its walls. We have no choice but to come up with a plan within the next three days.”

“Thanks for letting us know. I’ll be making reservations for the night in a nice inn then.”

“Help me, brother! Lily is trying to sell me!”

“Kurono won’t be coming here for a while, since he’s in the middle of an important strategy  meeting. But we are here and we need to start our preparations too.”

Leaving Simon’s free will aside, the conversation was rather short.

“Wait a minute, Lily… I can’t process all of this at all…”

“Don’t worry, I’m not planning to do anything risky. I just need to get out of the walls for a while.”

“Uh-huh?”

Lily’s words sounded so contradictory that Simon could not help but utter that question, as if expecting her to repeat herself.

However, all Simon could do after that was to answer Lily’s request with a ‘Yes’.

Then, full of confidence and with her usual smile that shows that she’s plotting something evil, Lily said:

“But don’t worry. I’m sure you’ll love that huge toy.”

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