I normally say that I like Past Life Returner but I have not read it at all, not even the manhwa(comic). But this story is different, I love it. I...
The Black Demon King
Chapter 23: Holy Maiden of Helvetia
Episode 446 The Masked Man
I was lying down, doing nothing. I was just wasting my time, lying down on an uncomfortable bed.
Almost unconsciously, a sigh escaped from my mouth.
Where have I heard that saying that happiness escapes from you whenever you sigh? I couldn’t remember, but apparently the rumor was true.
“What’s going to happen to me…?”
Whining like that was very unlike me. These frail words of a vain girl… They didn’t suit me.
But, I, Linfelt Aria Helvetia Bergunt, who had been captured by the devil, was not that much of a careless idiot to be energetic after being caught by the enemy.
I was being imprisoned in a cell inside Galahad Fortress. It was different the jails those stupid gangsters that roam in the slums were taken after being captured by the military police. If anything, it felt like the kind of place a bad aristocrat would be detained for having done some bad stuff that the average commoner wouldn’t even be able to imagine. Well, I didn’t know such people or situations because I have never actually seen them.
Anyway, I considered myself lucky that this isn’t one of those unsightly cells that reeked with feces and urine. At worst, I was confident that I could spend some time in such a place. Don’t underestimate someone who has grown up in the slums.
The prison I was in seemed to be underground, as there were no iron-barred windows for me to look through. The floors, walls, and ceiling were all made of hard stone that would make anyone feel like wanting to escape, but in reality, they were beautiful white walls. The room itself was filled with white light and was very bright. It was even a little too bright to be able to take a nap.
Still, I was grateful that not even a single piece of the thin white robe they had given me to wear as a prison uniform felt cold. At this time of the year, if the room wasn’t warm enough, I would have frozen to death in less than an hour. The Spada Army appeared to know that I was a noble lady and didn’t seem too eager to kill me, so this kind of treatment was only natural.
But more than just the count’s daughter, I think I’m a powerful magician who has put the Galahad Fortress in jeopardy. Though the level of my magic is actually rather lackluster with the exception of my “Sanctuary”.
At any rate, the restraints put on me that didn’t allow me to use any magic were quite tight.
The shackles that kept my wrists chained together were engraved with a jammer-type seal that absorbed magical power and interfered with my casting ability.
However, these shackles weren’t enough for me, whose magical power had grown to an extraordinary degree thanks to my development of the “Sanctuary”. For this reason, the back of my hand was engraved with a seal that prevented the recovery of magical power.
Of course, these kinds of techniques that fundamentally invalidate magic, such as sealing and absorbing magical power, couldn’t be cast instantly like one would do with “Ignis Sagitta”. It would take a lot of time and effort. In my case, an old man who seemed to be a skilled magician was even sweating on his forehead, spending about an entire hour casting magic. And it seemed that the effects would wear off unless the same magic was applied to me once every two days.
Capturing a powerful magician was quite a daunting task, as I learned in class at the magic school while I was half asleep. But I didn’t think I would end up experiencing it myself.
However, even without these shackles and seals, I had no means to escape from my cell. My “Sanctuary” was only a defensive spell, after all. Therefore, any regular wall and any locked door would be as effective in restraining me.
Speaking of doors, the door to my cell would automatically slide open and close instead of having to be pushed or pulled. It was like a room in an ancient ruin. Perhaps this prison actually was part of some ancient ruins.
I was suddenly reminded at one time when I was in school that they would have us pretend we were adventurers as part of a certain class. I had actually dived into a dungeon in some ancient ruins. What I learned from that experience was that pursuing dreams of heroic tales was absurd. And the ridiculous firepower of that dull-faced witch. I almost got buried alive because of her…
“…Actually, what is that girl… Fiona, doing here…?
It was when I was being tightly held by the devil’s disgusting and frightening arms and brought to the top of Galahad’s castle walls where Spada soldiers were forming a line.
Surrounded by thunderous applause and cheers, there were two people who broke from the group of strong soldiers or adventurers and jumped out to the devil. One was a little fairy girl who was so cute that it made me look at her twice. And the other one was a witch dressed in black.
She was the same Fiona Soleil I had etched in my mind. A large triangular hat, a black robe, and witch equipment with an old-fashioned orthodox design, and light blue short hair that reminded me of a quiet lakeside. And above all, the beauty of her white face, which looked as if she was always sleepy, but had those mysterious shining golden eyes that attracted men.
The last time I saw her was at the graduation ceremony of Elysion Magic Academy. It had been less than a year ago, so I remember her clearly. Well, it wouldn’t be so easy to forget the face of the woman who had a lot of ties to me, such as being the one who stole my first love from me.
And yet, when I first noticed her, I thought: No, Fiona couldn’t be in a place like this.
Yes, this woman is just someone else. They probably also have a witch with blue hair, golden eyes, and a sleepy face in Spada.
“Don’t worry, Lily, and Fiona… I managed to come back in one piece.”
However, because the devil spoke such words to the two girls that ran up to him, I could easily confirm that she was indeed the Fiona I knew.
What exactly had been Fiona’s part in the Spada army? I found it strange that she, who graduated as a freelance adventurer after refusing to join not only Sinclair’s Court of Magicians and the Temple Knights, but also turning down offers from many other famous guilds of magicians and knights, would have ended up in such heathen lands.
What surprised me the most was Fiona’s enthusiastic gaze. Well, regular people would only see the drowsy and dull expression on her face, but as I’m also a woman just as her, I knew that look. The way she was looking at that devil… Those were the eyes of a girl in love.
Whatever happened to Fiona? Really, what had happened to my senior in matters of love? This was outrageous.
“Huh… Oh well, I don’t care anyways…”
As I recalled, when that devil appeared before me, he certainly called me by my name. He had probably heard it from Fiona. And he must have learned about my “Sanctuary” from her as well.
It was too late to realize that. I had already been captured, and above all, I had already lost so many important friends…
“Ah, no, no… I have to stop.”
Recalling it would have just made me cry. Jack, Conrad, Erio… The devil had murdered them with his own hands. They no longer existed in this world. That was very, tremendously sad. It was sad, and frustrating, and I was sure that if I started crying, the tears would never stop falling.
But I was in the hands of the enemy. I couldn’t allow myself to cry in such a situation. I had to endure it. I absolutely had to show no weaknesses.
I was interrogated like a prisoner of war, and I told them everything I knew about the Crusaders. It didn’t matter. The information I had wasn’t a big deal, and wouldn’t have made a difference whether they had it or not.
But exposing my own clumsiness was a completely different thing. I could talk about the Crusaders as much as they wanted me to, but they would definitely not see me bawling my eyes out in sadness.
My modest pride was safe, at least for the time being.
Still, I don’t know how long my facade will last. I don’t have that much confidence. After all, I was neither a veteran knight nor an adventurer, and the title of Helvetian Holy Maiden, was too big for me. I was no more than a would-be sister who belonged in some run-down church in the slums.
“Please, Sebas… Hurry up and come save me…”
At that time, I could hear a rattling noise in the white enclosed room. I was just lying on the bed. I wasn’t making any noise.
In other words, the door of the prison was being opened.
“What is it…? You’ve already questioned me and redone the seal on my hand…”
Incidentally, I had recently finished my meal as well. I didn’t know exactly what time it was, but it had to be at least midnight. They clearly told me the last meal they served me was dinner.
What else was there for me on that day other than going to sleep? Were the Spada soldiers simply barbarians without an ounce of consideration who would try to get more information from a weak maiden like me this late at night?
Annoyed, I got up from bed, turned to the door with an evident moody expression on my face, thinking to give this person a piece of my mind.
“Are you Linfelt?”
The one at the door was a man wearing a mask.
He was wearing a simple black robe and a hood. He was reasonably tall and his build seemed rather slender, but somehow I felt that the body under his robe was well trained. Perhaps it’s because even if you look at it from an amateur’s point of view, his posture showed no weak spots, and the way he was standing gave off a dignified aura.
But his most eye-catching feature was his glossy black hair that could be seen under the hood. It was just as black as mine, and that of that devil. Perhaps black hair wasn’t such a rare trait in Spada.
At any rate, that was how the person in front of me looked like.
But who on earth was he?
I was always interrogated by a beautiful elf female knight. Following her lead, an endless stream of knights in red armor would accompany her.
However, this masked man was the only one who had come to my room. The elf female knight and her red knights were nowhere to be seen.
“Hey, what are you–”
“I’m getting you out of here. Be quiet.”
I tried to shout out at this suspicious person, but when I heard that, I stopped talking.
Had a unit really been dispatched to rescue me? So fast? Inside a large fortress that is on high alert?
“I’m sorry, but I’m not affiliated with the Crusaders.”
That had been only wishful thinking. It was too good to be true, though.
Of course. If we could have infiltrated this fortress this easily, there would have been no point to the battle we’ve been waging so far.
“I have a reason to help you. A personal reason…”
I felt it would be pointless to ask him about it. I was sure it would be a waste of time.
The question was whether I would accept this suspicious man’s offer. That was the decision I had to make.
“What are you going to do with me after we’ve escaped?”
“I’m just going to get you out of here. But I can’t let you go back to the Crusaders.”
I resisted the urge to tell him “Then why bother getting me out of here!?”
“I’ll have you flee to the country of Avalon, which is next to Spada. It’s a good place to hide. It’s up to you what to do once you get there.”
“W-What’s up with that? It doesn’t sound like a very responsible thing to do.”
“Would you prefer to stay here and wait for the Crusaders to come rescue you?”
That had been my plan from the start. Sebas would definitely come save me.
“So far, no negotiations have been made with the Crusaders regarding your release. The Spadas are not going to demand a ransom. If the Crusaders attack and this prison is put in jeopardy, I can’t say there’s no possibility of you being executed on the spot if the Spadas consider your power is too dangerous for the Crusaders to take back.”
His words made a great deal of sense.
Technically speaking, it’s very risky for the Spada army to keep me alive. Had it not been for that devil’s interference, I had no doubt that the strategy to break through these walls using my “Sanctuary” would have been successful.
Honestly, the moment the Crusaders set a single foot inside this prison, the Spadas would probably get rid of me without a second thought. It would be too dangerous for them to just leave me be.
Worst case scenario, the Crusaders would be defeated and forced to retreat without being able to rescue me.
If that were to happen, then no one would come to help me anymore. No matter how talented Sebas was, he wouldn’t be able to take on the unreasonable task of infiltrating an enemy fortress alone in order to rescue her.
“Either way, even if you refuse, I’ll still take you with me. But that’s going to be a hassle, so if you cooperate, your escape will go smoothly.”
“O-Okay! Alright, you can help me escape, then!”
The masked man smiled at my desperate reply. His mask covered only his eyes, and it looked like those you would commonly see at a masquerade ball. Since his mouth wasn’t concealed, his smile was pretty evident. By the way, the thin outline of his jaw, his high nose and the mouth that drew a graceful arc on his face suggested that this man was quite handsome.
Sebas had those same features on his face. But though their appearances were similar, this man gave off quite a different aura. Even if I had them both side by side in front of me, I wouldn’t mistake either of them for the other.
“Good grief… You even talk like her…”
“Huh? Did you say something?”
He seemed to have started talking about something, but was thrown off by my reaction.
“Okay, I need you to change what you’re wearing.”
“In that case, leave!”
“Don’t get me wrong, just put these over your clothes.”
In an astonished tone, the masked man threw a plain gray robe out of nowhere at me.
I dragged myself out of bed and picked up the gray robe that had fallen on the white floor.
The prison uniform I was wearing was almost like a robe as well, so wearing one over the other felt a little stiff.
“This robe has the ability to hide your presence to an extent. Wear it even after you get out of here. There is a fair amount of money inside its inner pocket.”
“Ooh! Thank you very much for that!!”
Having grown up in the slums, it’s really a happy moment whenever someone would give me money. No matter what kind of person someone was, if they gave me any kind of money, I would show them my gratitude.
On the other hand, no matter what kind of compassionate words someone said, if they wouldn’t spare even a single coin, they wouldn’t get any gratitude from me. Hypocrites who spoke of mercy and had no money to spare were the worst scum of all.
Even after becoming a noble, my posture about money hadn’t changed at all. I was a bit surprised to realize that.
“When we leave this place, keep quiet and just follow me. Never say a word, and don’t make a noise. Is that okay?”
I nodded repeatedly in consent.
“When you get out, get into the carriage for the injured, mix yourself with them, and take it all the way to Spada. As soon as you arrive, leave that place and go all over the city. If you register for the Adventurer’s Guild, you will be able to make a name for yourself.”
I searched the inner pocket of the robe he gave me, and listened to his escape plan while checking how much of that very welcomed money was there.
He had given me quite a lot of gold coins! Perhaps this masked man really was an incredibly nice person?
“There are plenty of regular carriages that go from Spada to Avalon. You can ask the guild for their location and schedules. When you arrive at Avalon, head to the address in the note. Don’t ask why, but they will give you shelter without fail.”
I was dazzled by the gold coins, but after a little more rummaging, I found that there was certainly a note among them.
<Avalon, South Friedrich Third District, 7-12 Blossom Street, St. Julia Monastery.>
That’s what was written in the note.
“…You can read it, right?”
“I practiced reading so hard when I was ten, I thought I would die.”
Around that time, I hated studying so much that I would always try to run away from it, but I soon learned that the bill would eventually come due. If I hadn’t gotten used to reading and writing at a young age, it would become really difficult for me to learn later. But this introspection wasn’t doing me any favors.
“More than that, I’m surprised to see that Pandora has their own Cross church.”
“You mean the monastery? Well, I think it’s similar to that, but I’m not so sure if it’s exactly the same as your churches.”
That could be the case as well. There was no reason for the Cross to have secretly taken roots in such a heathen land dominated by demons.
I felt that if that were the case, rather than going there on a tour, I should quickly convert them all through God’s authority.
“We don’t have time to keep talking. Come on, let’s go.”
“Ah, wait a second, let me ask you one last thing before we go.”
After I got out of here, I would have to shut my mouth and just follow him. There was a chance that once I got on that carriage for the injured, that would be the last time I saw this man.
So if I wanted to ask him that, then this was my last chance.
“What’s your name?”
He didn’t answer right away. The masked man seemed to be a bit troubled by the question.
“My name is… X.”