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The Black Demon King
Chapter 23: Holy Maiden of Helvetia
Episode 444: Let’s Become a Villain
“…Earth-attribute magic, huh?”
Fiona asked herself that question while tilting her head to the side.
Currently, us “Elemental Masters” were exploring the “Revival Catacombs” aiming for the Lich that awaited at the bottom layer, but it also served as a means to practice our new Divine Protection abilities and new magic spells.
I was chatting with Fiona while we were taking a break in a small room in the middle area. Incidentally, Lily was taking a peaceful nap on my lap.
“Oh, I’m going to make a black magic attack using the pseudo-earth attribute.”
The thunder attribute acquired by defeating Sloth-Gil had already been incorporated into his Bullet Arts by giving it form into black magic attack as “Shock Buster”.
The Fire and Lightning attributes were suitable for attack magic because those attributes themselves were aggressive. They were attributes with immediate effect, and they could be thought of being used in various ways, so to speak. Regardless whether it can be achieved or not, though.
However, Greed-Gore had been in charge of the Earth attribute. The idea of using this to make a new black magical attack hadn’t come to my mind. At least, covering the head of a magic bullet in stone didn’t make much of a difference.
For that reason, I had been putting off the search for a way to use this pseudo-Earth attribute until now.
“I see… So the Earth attribute would be best suited for defensive magic, right?”
Fiona gave me a very honest answer, without any joking or airheadedness on her part.
Among the many attributes, Earth had a clear solid shape, and hardness as a natural property. There was no better way to physically prevent an attack.
“Your defensive magic is mostly Earth spells, right, Fiona?”
“Yes, it’s very convenient.”
I remembered Fiona blocking the movement of the Minotaur zombies with the rock tower-like intermediate defense magic Terra Defan Wall back when we first visited the Revival Catacombs.
“First of all, why don’t you practice your Earth-attribute defensive magic? If anything, I think it’s easier to use it if you emphasize its size rather than its hardness.”
As it could be seen from Fiona’s fighting, she widely used it not only to defend herself from attacks, but also as a means to limit or restrict her opponent’s movements.
Certainly, in some of the battles I’ve had so far, I’ve often wished I had a bigger shield.
“Okay, then I’ll try to improve my Shield.”
When I thought about it, I noticed that I basically tended to avoid enemy attacks, and in the event of an emergency, I usually pull through by relying on my cursed weapons’ sturdiness for blocking incoming attacks.
The reason why I hadn’t been using defensive magic that often was that it hadn’t been that great since the time of the mobility experiment. The Hand Red Numbers also put out a black magic shield that was bigger than me by chanting.
So I thought it would be a great chance to try to overcome the weak spots of my defensive spells.
“So, how else can one use the Earth attribute in spells?”
“Well, there’s always regular attack magic. One could conjure boulders and spears made of stone to attack enemies with, but since they are heavy, they would take up a lot of magical power to do so.”
Intangible attributes such as fire, lightning, and wind seem to have no weight, so they need a relatively low amount of energy in order to use spells with those attributes.
“So the ones who choose to use it are those who have a high suitability for Earth-based spells. Preventing an attack with a rock wall, and then blowing it up to strike back is a classic combo of the Earth Mages. It’s definitely powerful, but I can’t be bothered to use it myself.”
I probably wouldn’t have a chance to use it either. It was way quicker to shoot a magic bullet than to turn a wall into bullets, and it would consume less magical power.
After all, I could materialize black magic fairly quickly and with a reasonable amount of power without too much effort, so it wasn’t convenient for me to replace it with the Earth attribute just like that.
“So, umm …it can be used in Civil engineering, and stuff like that?”
“I can see it having many great practical uses in that regard. I think it would come in very handy when setting up a tent on uneven ground.”
“Direct manipulation of the terrain requires surprisingly advanced expertise with the Earth attribute. But if it’s about the space to put up a tent, I can do it.”
“Please do so whenever we go to a steep rocky dungeon. Is there anything else that could be useful in combat?”
“I’ve seen it used to turn the earth beneath an opponent’s feet into mud and quicksand. It’s quite effective.”
Fiona’s eyes looked at me as if saying “No way, Kurono… You’re planning to learn how to do that?”
“W-What’s with that look? …I’m more of an attack magic and Martial Arts guy, so I thought that it would be nice to have access to such a support technique.”
“Your black magic, which is already quite plain, is going to become even more plain if you add the Earth attribute to it, though…”
“Don’t say that!”
Was she acknowledging that the Earth attribute was the weakest of the “big four” even in this alternate world? It’s okay, I like it because it’s austere and elegant. Life isn’t just about magic that explodes in a flash or that shines glaringly.
“That’s right, Greed-Gore could move under the ground, so it would be quite convenient if I could do something like that. It would be great for surprise attacks.”
“That’s something that has been studied by the Earth Mages for quite a long time, but no one has ever succeeded. It seems to be as difficult as for Wind Mages to fly in the sky using just the wind.”
Currently, there was no such thing as a flying spell that would allow humans to fly freely in the air. Even levitation seems to be very difficult with magical power alone.
Flight control requires a superb amount of balance, it would also take either a precise technique to maintain it or an extremely high concentration to even activate it. On the other hand, I remember hearing in a seminary class that it would be difficult to achieve this for various reasons, such as if you pay too much attention to it, the output that lifts your weight will be lost.
After all, the right to fly is limited to the races that have acquired it because of ecological reasons from the beginning, such as harpies. Both magic and Martial Arts were effective in allowing one to leap great distances and even sprinting in the air for a period of time. Well, that alone should be powerful enough.
“I see… Then, how about have just a weapon go through the ground, or something like that–”
“Only you could come up with such a plain idea, Kurono.”
To see that she was honestly astonished, thinking that it was a very unreasonable idea even for me, was actually quite painful.
“I-I’ll take that as a compliment…”
The best I could do was to give that reply with a bitter smile on my face.
I was glad I learned that in the end.
I really thought so from the bottom of my heart.
Just like the black magic for range defense “Shield d’Earth”, it was Earth-attribute magic that made this weapon dive into the ground. Without giving in to Fiona’s cruel remarks, I gave it my all, and was successful in developing it.
This was my “Sea-Through Ground”.
It worked similar to my Blackening. It used the Pseudo-Earth attribute to manipulate the ground from the point where my tentacles touched it. My Bind Arts then would dig into the ground, just like earthworms.
It was impossible to remote-control the Blackened weapon once it was underground, so instead, the tentacles carried the weapon through.
And this time, the Evil Eater that Hitsugi had been treating like a pet for some reason ever since the battle with Lust-Rose, was carried all the way under the ground and sneaked up to Linfelt from under her feet.
The progress is rather quiet because I had liquefied the soil to some extent. While the sword couldn’t dive underground as quickly as Greed-Gore, it was still covert enough to approach her without being noticed.
“Take this– Evil Eater.”
The result was evident, as the Evil Eater appeared proudly inside the area that was supposed to be protected by that absolute barrier, the “Sanctuary”.
At that moment, Evil Eater bared its fangs toward that fool Linfelt, who was watching over the battle between me and that handsome knight that acted as her personal guard.
The Evil Eater jumped out of the ground with the force of a dolphin bouncing on the surface of the sea, stabbing the abdomen of the beautiful unicorn Linfelt was riding as it closed its scissor-like blades shut. Its ferocious fang-blades were thrust into the mount’s unprotected abdomen, but it didn’t go entirely through it.
After going through the middle of its stomach, jaw-like blades opened once more, which was Evil Eater’s greatest feature.
It could be opened and closed as if it were a huge pair of scissors, but unlike regular scissors, not only the inside of the blades were filled with razor-sharp fang-like tiny blades, but the outer side of its blades was sharp as a sword as well. In other words, if one were to stab a body with the closed blade and then open it, that motion would slice the body in half from the inside out.
A large amount of blood and intestines spilled out as the unicorn’s abdomen was ruptured. Climbing the surging waves of fresh blood, Evil Eater started eating its way all the way up to its target, which was the girl on top of the unicorn.
“Ah… No way… What’s this… It hurts…”
Linfelt started to murmur with a stunned expression on her face.
I don’t know what happened. Impossible, unbelievable– Her face was like that probably because she was the one responsible for that “Sanctuary”, which boasted absolute defense. If she could always protect herself behind such a barrier, she would be used to simply walking around the battlefield without being too concerned for her safety.
Under the protection of that barrier, she could literally put herself in a place isolated from the rest of the battleground. I already knew that World Dimension Magic was that kind of thing, and now I was seeing it for myself.
But at this moment, the power of that sacred defense had been defeated. So in the end, it wasn’t that special to begin with.
I first noticed the fatal flaw of this “Sanctuary” when I first shot at it with my Plasma Blaster. The intense lightning strike melted not only the snow that had fallen on the ground, but also the soil on the ground itself like magma.
Those traces were slight, but certainly, they had also pushed through the “Sanctuary”.
In other words, the “Sanctuary” was a barrier that only created walls in all four directions, and a ceiling. There was nothing covering the ground itself.
I didn’t know if it was due to the ability’s own limitations, or simply an oversight by its creator. But now all that mattered was that it was more than enough to turn this upside down.
“A-Ah… It hurts… It huuuuuuuuuurtsssssss!!”
In the span of a heartbeat, Linfelt’s head must have finally understood the situation she was currently in. Her shrieks had such an anguish to them that any man would turn around to look for the source of that heartbreaking woman’s voice.
“–No way! Lin!?”
Could you afford to care about the girl in this situation, you handsome bastard? You were in the middle of a battle with someone who loves the thrill of battle.
I delivered a yakuza kick to the defenseless stomach of the knight after he gave me an unbelievable chance during the battle by turning around involuntarily and letting himself exposed, perhaps because Linfelt was so important to him.
“Don’t worry, I won’t kill her.”
I spat that out towards the handsome knight as he rolled in pain over the snowy ground.
I wasn’t necessarily being insincere…
In fact, I wasn’t going to kill Linfelt yet.
“It hurts! It huuurts! What’s this!? Help me, Sebas!!”
Linfelt, who was crying and shouting with little regard for her appearances, was now sandwiched in mid-air between Evil Eater’s blades. The unicorn’s corpse, which had been split in half through its abdomen, tumbled just overhead. It was only natural that it ended up in that position, since it had been eaten up while Linfelt was still riding it.
Her pure white robe must have been fitted for combat with its own magical effects, but the fangs of my Evil Eater had pierced through its various enchanted defenses. Her white soft skin had been slightly bitten into by the vicious fangs of my blade.
Linfet struggled with her posture, which was sandwiched vertically between the bottom of her thighs and her shoulders. I thought that struggling would only make it even more painful for her, as the fangs would just bite deeper into her body, but she could do it if she wanted to for all I cared. Even if she was under severe pain, she had sustained no fatal injuries.
“Whoaaa~! Wait! I said wait! Don’t eat her up yet~!!”
Hitsugi was trying to restrain the cursed will of the Evil Eater, which was groaning in eagerness to close its jaws and split its prey in half.
I had issued a clear command before having Hitsugi dive into the ground with my “Sea-Through Ground”. I had told her to catch her alive.
That’s why Linfelt was still alive.
“Hey, you’re the caster of this barrier, so you can hear me, right? Linfelt, is it? Cancel your Sanctuary right now.”
I had already kicked that handsome knight away, so there was nothing on my way anymore.
I leisurely walked towards the wall of “Sanctuary” and called out to Linfelt, who was screaming loudly.
“H-How do you know my name… And about the barrier…?”
I wasn’t really sure if she could hear my voice through the barrier just because she was the one responsible for it, but apparently things went well.
Kinfelt had certainly heard me, and I could also hear her response. If we hadn’t been able to talk with each other, there would have been no way for us to negotiate anything at all. I had cleared the first condition for me to return alive.
“I’ve told you to cancel your barrier. Do it quickly.”
“U-Ugh… You fiend… W-Why would I do such a thing…?”
Linfelt replied, glaring at me, perhaps because she was repulsed by my deliberately high-handed words.
Hmm, do you need a little more convincing? There’s no need for you to rush things. After all, your life is already in the palm of my hand.
“So you’re going to disobey this devil’s words even if it costs you your life? …Hmm, as expected, you have quite the noble heart, Crusader sister. So if that’s okay with you, I’ll just kill you right here, which I’m sure will take care of the barrier. Then you’ll get to be a martyr and suffer the pains of hell, just as you wish.”
“W-Wait! Wait! Okay, I’ll do it! I’ll dispel it, so please wait! Please!”
Linfelt, who simply disagreed with my villainous pomposities, seemed not to be a devout believer who was prepared to die for God.
Her own mediocrity had just saved her life. The second condition was cleared.
If she had stubbornly refused my request, I was really going to kill her. I knew from Fiona’s intel that the barrier would shatter the moment Linfelt died. I wouldn’t hesitate because I knew I could at least fulfill our main purpose.
So the most likely scenario was that Linfeld would die here. Even though I had a lot of trouble getting here, I would have easily chosen to kill her on the spot.
Things were going so well that it was as if the goddess of victory was smiling on me. Well, as long as Mia cheers on me with a smile, I certainly won’t feel bad at all.
“Okay! I’ve dispelled it! This should be okay, right? Right!?”
The wall that separated the dimensions in front of me vanished like a ghost. Reaching out with my hand touched nothing but air. The transparent wall was no more.
“Yeah, that’s good–”
Looking back, I could see countless white figures falling head-first from the walls of the Galahad Fortress.
The huge “Sanctuary” that covered the walls disappeared. Therefore, the transparent stairs created to cross the wall also vanished.
The Crusader soldiers who were attacking in leaps and bounds to get past the castle walls had fallen head-first onto the ground. Galahad’s walls had once again regained their defensive power.
Of course, Sophie had been told to go down to the wall passage along with the rearguard troops. Apparently, everyone seemed to be safe thanks to her extraordinary ice magic. A huge ice wall prevented the Crusade’s advance.
Occasionally, a red firing line would blink, probably because Simon was still shooting his machine gun. No matter how much he shot, it must have been quite the experience for him.
Well then, all that’s left is to go back.
“–Hear me, Crusader soldiers! This woman is now my hostage! If you value her life, throw away your weapons!!”
Yes, this hostage situation was the way I was going to leave this place safely.
If I had killed Linfelt right here, I would have fulfilled the purpose of dispelling her “Sanctuary”. However, I would have no means to guarantee my escape afterwards.
Perhaps this Sister is special among the Crusaders. Not only was she a user of the very special and powerful Origin Magic, she was also physically well-featured. It wouldn’t be strange if they idolized her. Even if that wasn’t the case, it is obvious from this treatment that she had a high social standing, comparable to that of a general in the army.
If I were to kill someone like her right in the middle of their camp, it would be as clear as day that their remaining soldiers will desperately come at me to end my life.
Up until then, charging forward had been the only thing on my mind. I wasn’t thinking about securing an escape, which was the basis of an adventurer’s dungeon exploration. Even if I tried to do something like that, I wouldn’t be able to do it right in the middle of the enemy lines.
No matter how strong I may be, If I were to get caught by all of them at once, I would be done for. I had managed to get in here, but definitely wouldn’t be able to deal with every single one of them.
Besides, there were those three… Subcommander Eliwood, Rudra, and Gardan, which I had managed to rescue with considerable effort. They were being guarded by my zombie army for now, but they wouldn’t last long.
All I could think right now was how all four of us were going to get out of this hellhole in one piece.
Taking Linfelt as hostage, creating a situation where the Crusaders cannot interfere, and working our way out of here. This strategy was also the most humane I could think of at this point.
However, now that I had decided to do it, I would stick to it. I would definitely come back alive.
“Well then, time to become a real devil– Come back, Hitsugi.”
Hitsugi complied immediately.
The black chains created by my Bind Arts that were buried underground broke through the ground and snow and jumped out, making a grinding sound as they were being pulled back vigorously.
Linfelt, who was still locked inside Evil Eater’s jaws, immediately came to me.
“–EEEK!? No, stop… Don’t touch me…”
I then wrapped my left arm around Linfeld’s thin neck and forcibly hugged her from behind. It felt as if I was some sneaky bank robber taking a female employee hostage.
Looking closer at her made me wonder. She definitely looked Japanese.
However, at this time, it couldn’t matter whether Linfelt’s circumstances were the same as mine, or if she was another reincarnated person. I wasn’t in a situation where I can afford to ask myself those questions.
I was already, and without a shadow of a doubt, murdering Japanese boys and girls like myself. I wasn’t going to give her any special treatment anymore. The enemy is the enemy. I have convinced myself to get used to fighting to the death.
“I’m sorry, I might stink of blood a little, but please bear with me.”
For the time being, I withdrew the Evil Eater, which was getting in the way of her shifting her posture. It groaned as if he was reluctant to release the prey it had caught in its jaws, but it somehow sank back into Shadow Gate.
I had handed over the responsibility of threatening her to my “Kubidan” which rested on my right hand. The dark, huge blade was pressed against her pure white neck.
As long as they were in close contact with each other, she wouldn’t be able to set up a “Sanctuary” to ward it off.
There was no doubt that it wasn’t possible to use this barrier to cut through things that were in direct contact with her body, because she had deployed around the castle walls. It needed to go over surfaces. If it could be used to cut through things, then she could have used her “Sanctuary” to cut through the castle walls from the start.
If I had opened up some distance, even a little, Linfelt could have protected herself with that invincible barrier of hers, but there was nothing she could do against things that were touching her directly.
I didn’t think the girl’s strength alone could undo my restraint, but I couldn’t risk it. Sometimes it happens. Just tie her up tightly for now, Hitsugi.
“Uhuhuhu, leave it to me, Master! I’ll show you my Hades-style bondage technique that binds your body and soul~!”
The reason why she confidently answered in such a shady manner was that this black-haired maid, who was the source of the curse, excelled at restraining her opponents. So, while Hitsugi was full of fighting spirit, she quickly coiled her tentacles around Linfelt’s delicate body.
Linfelt, who must have been feeling that her life was in danger, a deep discomfort, and a lot of pain at the same time, screamed in a way that made me think she was the perfect role model for all hostages.
Hitsugi tied her up from behind with a chain, and from there she went into a tortoise shell-like tie that restrained her entire body. But it wasn’t really a tortoise shell tie. She was tied up neatly with a peculiar symmetry.
Oh well, as long as she’s properly restrained, that should be fine.
“Damn it! Let go of Rin!”
That handsome knight I kicked away early got up as if Linfelt’s scream had flipped his switch back on. I had just kicked him lightly, so it didn’t seem that he had sustained too much damage. He seemed to have a lot of fighting left on him, but it was useless in the current situation.
“I told you not to move. If you take another step–”
Okay, Hitsugi, squeeze her up a bit.
Due to the sudden tightening, Linfelt shouted in a painful, yet sexy, intriguing woman’s voice.
The expression on the young knight’s face was a passionate color that was filled with heartfelt concern about the beautiful Sister, and regret for his own helplessness of not being able to protect her from pain. And the next moment, he looked at me with an intense hatred, blaming me for their tragedy.
Oh, scary scary. It’s as if he was looking at some thug who was trying to have his way with his beloved girlfriend.
“Bahahahah, is this woman so important to you? Then, you’d better refrain from doing rash things.”
I laughed in a loud, evil manner, like the villains in the numerous movies and series I saw when I was still a peaceful student. With the dreadful expression I had in my eyes, looking around while sneering at this suffering girl had turned me into the worst villain in this world.
“What a despicable thing you are, devil of Alsace!”
“Ah, what are you saying about me…? I can’t take this…”
“Kyaaaah! My master is so cool~!!”
The young knight, the Armor Knights, the sorcerers, and the Crusader soldiers also spoke of hatred for me and words about Linfelt. I heard a strange voice in the confusion of the moment, but… Anyway, the Crusaders were riled up even worse than what they had been during the battle.
Alright, good. If I hesitate with this even once, I won’t be able to try this anymore.
“Make way! If you don’t want me to ruin this lovely face of hers, get out of my way, quick!”
Rather than Linfelt’s own white skin, her now completely pale face showed the slight trace of my broadsword’s blade. The cut was only about 3 centimeters long, but it was enough to shed a clear line of fresh blood on her white cheeks.
“Uh, ah, ahh… Stop… N-not on my face…”
“Do you love your face that much? Phew, thankfully your friends seem reasonable enough to have cleared the way for us. Well, come on, walk using those feet of yours. Take it easy, okay?”
I whispered gently to her ear, as if I was telling a secret to Lily. I didn’t want to tear her face into pieces. I would very much like to refrain from more radical performances, if possible.
The Crusaders were slow about it, but certainly started to move. The crowd shrouded in white started wriggling, and a narrow road began to open up little by little. That was going to be the way back to the Galahad Fortress.
The third condition was cleared. After that, all I needed to do was to steadily withdraw while watching out for unexpected attacks, and the mission would be a complete success.
“Woaaaah! Dear Gooooooood!”
“Please, give that devil Your heavenly judgment!!”
I walked with the trembling Linfelt among a cheer full of anger and grief. It felt like the exact opposite of the parade they held when I made a triumphant return to Spada from the old castle of Iskia.
However, what overflowed in my heart was the same sense of accomplishment as at that time.
“Wait for me, Lin! I’ll definitely go save you!!”
“Sebas… Sebaaaas!! I’ll wait! I know you’ll come help me!”
When I started to withdraw with a slow backwalk, Linfelt and that handsome knight started something that looked like a tragic farewell in a theatrical play.
To be honest, I haven’t even thought about what to do with this girl after all this… At least I wouldn’t be made to take responsibility and be detained for it. Whether Linfelt was to be executed or taken prisoner was the call of Spada’s military law and King Leonhart.
It’s impossible for this girl to return to the Crusaders either way, so either is fine as long as I’m allowed to return home. They could do whatever they wanted.
In this way, I let my emotions cool off a bit, and set out on my way back to the great wall.