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442

The Black Demon King

Chapter 23: Holy Maiden of Helvetia

Episode 442: An Encroaching Nightmare (3)

 

 

“This… is a bit hard for me to do.”

 

That child was there, right before the enemies that had once again been pierced through by the “Blast Blade”.

 

His fluffy hair was blonde, and he had the most beautiful emerald eyes. The features in his face seemed to be very young and lovely, and a white robe was covering his small body.

 

He was a boy who looked like a cross-gendered version of Lily.

 

“Ahahahaha! Hey, hey, does it hurt for golems to be stomped on their vitals too?”

 

However, it was rather cruel to see him laughing innocently and happily while swinging that huge, rugged hammer in his hand down toward Gardan’s crotch. He seemed to be the purest embodiment of the Crusaders’ nature, which was to kill the demons.

 

But his personality was the exact opposite of that of the kindhearted Lily. The fact that they looked so similar only made it even more discomforting.

 

“Hey, you, kiddo.”

 

“Hmm? What is it, mister? Are you referring to me?”

 

He then turned to me, resting that huge hammer lightly against his cute little neck as if it was a toy made of plastic, while trampling down on Gardan’s legs, as the latter let out a weak groan of pain.

 

“I’d like you all to stop calling me a kid. It’s irritating. If you don’t call me Erio next time, I’ll flatten you like a pancake in one shot, okay?”

 

The boy that called himself Erio seemed to be very dissatisfied indeed, as he was pouting cutely.

 

Unexpectedly, knowing the boy’s name made me feel a little reluctant to keep interacting with him. So I called out with a bit of wishful thinking.

 

“Then, Erio, throw your weapon away now and get away from that golem. Then leave this place. That’s the only way you’ll get out of here alive.”

 

I hadn’t called him like that out of some spirit of chivalry. I’m sure it was merely a manifestation of a weak escapism to the fact that I didn’t really want to kill a child.

 

And yet, I killed those other two without batting an eye. What a convenient sense of justice.

 

“Can’t you see? See this huge golem here? I beat him, all by myself. Amazing, huh? I’m about a hundred times stronger than a strong-looking, grown-up knight!”

 

Laughing proudly, he slammed his hammer hard against Gardan’s one-eyed face.

 

“Gwooh! Gah…”

 

“That’s why if you don’t come at me seriously, I’ll tear this piece of junk apart.”

 

As he cackled his head off, his emerald eyes had an endlessly belligerent brilliance. They had the same glitter as the eyes of a battle maniac.

 

This boy had no intention of stepping back.

 

I probably already knew this from the beginning… But still, now that I had this much to confirm it, I wouldn’t hesitate anymore. I no longer had a reason to doubt myself.

 

“Bind Arts.”

 

The early bird gets the worm, or so they say. As I pointed the grenade launcher “Dual Eagle” I was holding with my left hand, several jet-black chains were sent out from that arm.

 

“Whoa, something came out of your arm!?”

 

Surprised, Erio quickly jumped out of the way as he shouted in amusement.

 

I hadn’t meant to get him with the chains. My purpose was to rescue Gardan. The stretched chains instantly coiled around the steel giant like a snake, fixing around it firmly.

 

“Gwoooh! What’s this!?”

 

Gardan may have been all tattered and full of cracks all over, but his response was quite energetic. He was quite sturdy.

 

After justifying to myself that it would be okay to treat him a bit roughly, I pulled back the chain with all my might, just as I did when I pulled the priest.

 

“Dwaaaaaaaahhhhh!”

 

Like a criminal being dragged around by a rampaging horse, I literally dragged Gardan to my side.

 

“Take care of him, Rudra.”

 

“Understood.”

 

Then, I entrusted the severely wounded golem to Rudra, who had been waiting behind me so far like a shadow. Right behind us, an impromptu zombie squad created by Haunted Grave was still fighting. If we were to get too close to them, it would take me some time to get rid of that barrier girl.

 

So I wanted to take care of the target I had right in front of me…

 

“Wait! I won’t let you get close to sis Lin.”

 

Erio held his huge hammer with both hands and corrected his posture as he stood in the way, blocking my line of sight.

 

Taking a peek at my surroundings, I couldn’t see if there were any Crusader soldiers stepping in around here. Even though I had been going wild up until now, was I hesitating to fight just mere soldiers, or was I too caught up paying attention to Erio? Either way, I thought that being face to face like that would make things easier for me.

 

“Hehe, look, sis Rin! I’ll beat this Devil of Alsace guy for you!”

 

Even this little kid called her like that… As that thought appeared in my head, Erio charged at me with an intense momentum.

 

A giant steel hammerhead was attached to the tip of a handle whose length was twice as much as Erio’s height. If he were to hold it upright over his head, it would have such a reach that he could very well hit someone as tall as me, who is 190 cm tall. However, he broke into a dash so quick that it made it look like his weapon was that as tremendously heavy as it actually was, so he could very easily deliver some deadly jump attacks.

 

“Grenade Burst!”

 

With my Bind Arts still deployed in my left hand, I fired from my “Dual Eagle” at Erio as he came charging like a bull without any intention to either feint or block the incoming attack.

 

The two black grenades that came out of its muzzles at the same time came in contact with Erio’s petite body.

 

“Ahaha! It won’t work!!”

 

Erio cut through the explosion and black smoke with a smile. He had sustained no damage at all.

 

This lack of any damage whatsoever reminded me of my duel with Kai in the seminary’s arena. He kept on attacking while being swept with fire from my Bullet Arts head-on.

 

It seemed that Erio’s ability was just like Kai’s superhuman strength. Ah, but Kai avoided my “Grenade Burst”… So maybe it was stronger than Kai’s? There really were some people with crazy abilities out there.

 

I could think of it as something that not only gave him the strength to swing a hammer as heavy as his, but also the sturdiness as if a defensive skill was always active, and the same goes for his speed as well.

 

It would be even more worrisome if he could use magic on top of this, but… For the time being, since he was charging at me like that, there was no doubt that he preferred to fight in close quarters.

 

In that case, we’d have a contest of strength.

 

“Take this!”

 

As soon as Erio got close enough to me, he jumped with a little boing, arched his body like a bow as he drew his hammer over his head and behind his back, swung down straight at the top of my head.

 

At the same time Erio broke through my “Grenade Burst” completely unharmed, I put away my “Dual Eagle” and grabbed the handle of “Kubidan” with my left hand, and then took it in both hands.

 

I intercepted his huge hammer with my blade.

 

“Guh…”

 

“Waahh!”

 

Both my own groan and Erio’s voice of surprise after me having repelled his attack went off at the same time.

 

The attack left me a little numb, so I couldn’t follow up with an attack of my own as Erio jumped back to safety. Or perhaps I should say that if I hadn’t had “Kubidan” with me at that time, I would have been smashed right then and there.

 

In any case, this didn’t seem to be a good moment to be getting stingy with my magic power.

 

“Ahaha, amazing, mister! It’s the first time I’ve seen someone strong enough to repel one of my blows!”

 

I was glad he was able to have that first experience with me.

 

After landing lightly like a cat, Erio turned his dazzling gaze towards me. If only he hadn’t been an enemy, his gaze would have definitely warmed up my heart, but this was the battlefield, so instead it made my heart become so cold that it dropped to a negative temperature.

 

Ah, dealing with little children really wasn’t my thing.

 

“Now I’ll go at you just a little stronger than before–”

 

He raised his hammer overhead once again, and got ready for another charge.

 

All right. I wouldn’t run away or hide, and I wouldn’t use any kind of cheap tactics. I’ll crush you as you come right before me.

 

“Here I come!”

 

With an abrupt dash, Erio rushed in as if shot from a rocket launcher. Far from being just a little stronger, he was about twice as fast as before.

 

But he was still not that hard to follow with my eyes.

 

I quietly held my “Kubidan” and waited for Erio to jump within range. After all, there was no feint or magic involved, it was nothing but a straightforward assault. Not a single second elapsed since then when the moment of collision came.

 

“Hyaaaaaahhh!!”

 

“Black Calm.”

 

The ones that went out were swinging down each other. A dull iron ingot and a jet-black curse blade collide above my head.

I unleashed a slash with my weapon. His dark-grey lump of iron collided with my jet-black cursed blade just above my head.

 

As both weapons creaked eerily against one another, a red-black aura was released from my Absolute Grudge Broadsword “Kubidan”, which started to bite into the huge hammerhead.

 

It cut through the ultra-high iron ingot that combined the original strength of steel with a supplemental enchantment that increased its hardness and strength in multiple layers. Sparks start to fly from it as if it was freshly spilled blood.

 

“–Kuh!”

 

However, it reached its limit upon cutting up to the middle of it. As expected, even “Kubidan” wasn’t able to cut completely through this huge hammer in a single blow.

 

And perhaps Elio knew from the start that his hammer could endure my attack. He grinned as if the trap he had set up was a great success.

 

“Heave ho!”

 

Erio quickly countered by twisting his hammer. Since my blade was still biting into the hammerhead, it was shaken so much that it forced me to let go of “Kubidan”.

 

After unleashing my Black Calm, I’m always affected by an ever-so-slight post-skill rigidity. Adding that to the equation, the result was that I couldn’t keep a tight grasp on the handle, forcing me to let go of it without me being able to do much about it.

 

With a rough apology in my head that would probably fall onto deaf (or non-existent) ears, I clenched my right fist as strongly as I could.

 

Just as Erio expected it, I was expecting this result as well. It would have been nice to slice through that hammer in one slash, but I would just follow up with another attack if that failed. That’s why even though things had turned out this way, I had no need to panic.

 

“Pile Bunker.”

 

Black magical power swirled with explosive momentum from my right arm. My first black magic attack, “Pile Bunker”, which still boasted the fastest activation speed, was mercilessly swung down towards Erio’s small face, whose head was as high as my chest.

 

“Oops!”

 

However, Erio must have expected that it would all come down to a fist fight. Just as my weapon was released from my grasp, Erio also had discarded his long-handled hammer, and became bare-handed.

 

He must have understood that such a huge, long-reach weapon would get in the way during this time and intended to throw it away from the start.

 

After doing that, he was able to beautifully welcome my Pile Bunker, which had turned into a swirling black iron hammer, with the small and soft white palm of his now empty hand. His appearance reminded me of Sariel, back when we fought in front of the walls of Daedalus, but Erio did not have the magical ability to release white magical power in the opposite direction of my Pile Bunker in order to cancel it, and took it purely with his own physical strength.

 

There were no signs of panic on Erio’s face. He had completely stopped my blow. Moreover, he seemed to have enough power to send it back my way.

 

“Hehe, I won’t lose against this kind of power!”

 

Sure, I’ll admit it. When it came to just pure strength, Erio would be stronger than me, even though I had been remodeled and enhanced. This clash of sheer power made it really easy for me to understand that fact.

 

And that’s precisely why I had to kill him right then and there, no matter what.

 

That power, that superhuman power given to him by the White God, was too dangerous. How many people would he kill in the future with that power? Laughing playfully like that crazed apostle.

 

I just couldn’t let that happen. I had to kill Erio. If he wanted to blame anyone, he could blame me, the adults who had brought such a young child to a place like this, or even better, he could blame the White God himself.

 

“Overdrive.”

 

I activated my first Divine Protection.

 

The black aura swirling in my right hand was mixed with a faintly shining hint of crimson. It then turned into a black and red double helix, and overran Erio’s palm.

 

“Eh–A… Whoaaaa!?”

 

Suddenly, my physical strength was doubled, no, it increased by more than that, and Erio’s face finally showed his astonishment.

 

Did he realize that he couldn’t support it with just one hand, or was it the work of the fighting intuition he had despite being a child? Erio quickly added his left hand, and tried to use both hands to resist the pressure of my Pile Bunker.

 

“U… Aaaah… W-What’s… With this… So heavy…”

 

My right fist and Erio’s palms struggled against each other, almost as if we were locking swords in a duel.

 

Actually, it seemed I was being able to push him, even if only a little. Of course, this was the power of the Demon King.

 

“Haah!”

 

“Waaaahh!”

 

I kept pushing with all my strength. Erio screamed cutely like a little girl, and fell to the ground.

 

He lay sprawled on the ground like a rag doll, perhaps due to not knowing how to fall. He surely had never been brought to the ground by force before.

 

I could see a certain color of horror in the round, jade eyes looking up at me.

 

“Say your prayers, it’ll be over soon–”

 

The only compassion I could have for him was to let him die with a single blow.

 

“Wrath Impact.”

 

Without mercy or hesitation, I swung down my right arm, which had a black magical power and a red burning heat that I couldn’t control.

 

I aimed for the middle of his abdomen. Protected by nothing but a fluffy white fur robe, his abdomen burst with the impact and heat of a meteorite.

 

Since his back was in close contact with the ground, there was no escape for the attack’s power, and all of the force of impact exploded into his delicate body.

 

“Buh– Guwaaahh!!”

 

His big eyes were wide open, and his emerald green eyes swayed. Erio screams with astonishment and shock, and above all, with a look of humiliation and fear of having lost for the first time.

 

From his small mouth, he spat out fresh blood with a heartbreaking scream. The scattered red drops slightly soiled my cheeks, but I wasn’t bothered by it at all.

 

All I could feel at the moment was the resistance of Erio’s abdomen as it was pierced through my red-hot drill-like right arm. It felt softer than it did with Greed-Gore. Strangely enough, I was able to calmly make such a comparison in my head.

 

It seemed that the true nature of the defensive power against the threat that was to receive “Grenade Burst” head-on was something like a barrier that was developed right on top of the skin. The defensive martial art “Guard” works by turning  the magical power that a body naturally has into some kind of aura which covers the entire body. Erio’s natural defense was the same as this.

 

Therefore, once I broke through the guard of this invisible aura, all that remained underneath was the soft body of a child. The white fur robe worn by Erio was useless for anything more than guarding against the cold weather.

 

Erio’s abdomen, unprotected and unresisting, was overrun by my fist.

Then, when my fist pierced through his body and reached the ground beneath it, all the sweltering heat in my right arm was released at once.

 

“Ah…”

 

The last thing Erio saw was the expressionless mask that my face had become after I crushed my own conscience to death. Or perhaps it was the face of “Sis Lin” he was trying to call out to?

 

Soon enough, Erio’s face, which had lost his expression as if filled with an intense despair, was engulfed by the crimson flames.

 

“…I don’t feel so good about this.”

 

Then, the rest of his burnt corpse tumbled over.

 

There was no need to cut off his head. Even if he were to be revived as a zombie, his body was so charred that he would come crumbling down as soon as he got up. The black flames brought about by my “Wrath Impact” had turned into a hellish fire that completely burned Erio to death.

 

My chest hurt so bad I almost couldn’t help but to complain… But I didn’t have time to be depressed.

 

Next one should be the last one.

 

That black-haired barrier girl, the one they call Linfelt, was just around the corner.

 

During my fights with that red-haired man, the priest, and now Erio, the Crusader soldiers solidified the area around that girl. They were the last and biggest challenge that had lay itself before my path.

 

“Let’s go, Hitsugi. We only have one chance at this, so let’s not waste it.”

 

“Yes, Master! Leave everything to me!”

 

Her usual excited reply felt strangely reliable. It made me feel a little better.

 

We started going forward, one light step at a time.

 

I stared straight at my target, that girl who created this entire situation, and then broke into a dash.

 

“You’re done looking from your high seat. I’ll give you hell, Linfelt.”

 

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