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451

The Black Demon King

Chapter 24: The Battle of Holy Night

Episode 451  A Give-and-Take of Destruction

 

 

“Fiona, take cover!”

 

Perhaps not even my loud warning would reach her ears.

 

Because at that moment, the loudest and most thunderous roaring sounds since the Fifth Galahad War began echoed through the mountain range.

 

“…Ah…!”

 

I was hit by a ringing in my ears, which prevented me from hearing anything else, but fortunately, it didn’t seem to have been strong enough to rupture my eardrums. My hearing seemed to be on its way to recovery.

 

Incidentally, the cobblestones of the wall’s pathway in front of me were shaking, but not because my senses had been clouded by the deafening sounds. The great walls themselves were actually shaking.

 

“…Are you okay, Fiona?”

 

“Yeah, I managed to avoid being thrown off the wall somehow.”

 

“I’m okay too~”

 

Fiona replied while being in a posture that seemed as if she was about to sit down on the floor, and Lily’s safe voice came from under my belly.

 

I had only warned Fiona to lie down on the floor. That was because Lily had already taken cover under my belly.

 

The three of us “Elemental Masters” were unharmed so far, however…

 

“Looks like the walls have finally crumbled down…”

 

As always, Fiona’s choice of words had been poor, but I could understand the desperate meaning behind them.

 

Even if she hadn’t said anything, I would have understood just by looking around me.

 

I stood up, wiping the bits of dirt from my coat that had accumulated due to the sand and smoke whirled up by the terrible vibrations that ran through the walls. As my legs desperately tried to keep a steady footing, I firmly gazed at the surrounding scenery from the top of the wall.

 

“These guys… They’re definitely bad news.”

 

I reconfirmed the battle situation as I murmured that.

 

First of all, the attack with my “Plasma Breath” and Fiona’s “Golden Sun”, which we had waited so long to launch, had worked according to plan, successfully destroying two Taurus.

 

According to Mia, the armor of the Taurus was thick, and the drive system itself was very sturdy. However, if their cockpits were to be destroyed, the Taurus would be rendered completely useless as long as they were manned vehicles. Back when we first faced them, I wasn’t aware of their weak spot, so I just shot at them with everything I had, but I didn’t have to do that anymore.

 

Fiona and I both had enough magic power to pierce through their tough chest armor with a single blow, though it was also a bit difficult to aim accurately.

 

My shot had a large recoil, and Fiona’s attack isn’t as fast to perform as a fireball. Since we wanted to make sure our attacks were precise, we needed to wait until the very last moment before opening fire. Rather, it may be better to say that the more we let them approach, the better our attacks would fare.

 

Anyway, we were able to successfully defeat two Taurus. To be precise, I had destroyed a normal-type with a right arm drill, and Fiona had taken care of one of the double-drills.

 

At about the same time, the Taurus that had lost his shield by blocking the Pharos Cannon, and the other one which still had his shield intact, had both been destroyed. Perhaps King Leonhart and the “Blade Rangers” led by Pink had dealt with them.

 

Incidentally, upon closer examination, I noticed that the captain’s vessel had also been severely damaged around its left shoulder. I didn’t know what kind of superpowered blow it had received, but its left arm had completely disappeared from its shoulder.

 

However, the right hand that held that gigantic hammer was still in its place, as if the Taurus would not let go of the weapon he had in his hand at all costs. However, it seems that the vessel itself had ceased functioning, because the light from its single red eye had been lost, and it had fallen completely silent and was standing still several tens of meters away from the wall. If this had signified the end of the battle, it would have been a matter for great joy.

 

As a result, the Spada army had managed to successfully intercept a total of eight Fulltune Taurus thus far.

 

But on the other hand, that also meant that the interception of the remaining five vessels had failed.

 

The remaining Taurus, whose boosters were still shining brightly as they kept on dashing forward at full speed, finally plunged their huge bodies into the castle walls.

 

Four normal-type vessels, plus a double-drill Taurus, which was specialized for destruction, had reached their destination. A total of six explosive drills pierced straight into the castle walls.

 

As I had shoved Lily down under my belly and yelled at Fiona to get down and take cover shouted to Fiona, the giant drills were already digging through the sturdy, magically protected walls, making an ominous smashing noise.

 

And now, we’ve arrived at the point where I saw the collapse of the great walls of Galahad before my very eyes.

 

On the other side of the huge cloud of dust that had gushed forth, I could see two, no, three large holes on the wall similar to the ones they had done before. I could also hear the wind howling loudly, probably because it was passing at full force through the holes on the wall.

 

However, what settled the score was the portion of the wall that, rather than having just a hole on it, had completely crumbled to the ground. It was far from where we were, right in the middle of the intersection of the center and south left wing walls.

 

It looked like the entrance to a huge valley, forming a vertically elongated crack that ran from the middle of the wall to the ground. Though it was only a small crack to these huge walls, it was as wide as the average road. In other words, there was more than enough space for infantry troops to invade from the ground.

 

It had probably been the result of a joint attack by a double-drill and a normal-type. I had to admit that it had had impressive results.

 

“It’s do or die from this point on.”

 

The fact that the wall would end up being broken somewhere before all of the Taurus could be destroyed was already part of our predictions. Not only had I already figured it would turn out this way, but it was also part of the tactical expectations of the Spada army.

 

Therefore, all the knights and adventurers of Spada that were lined up in formation must have known that the true battle was about to start.

 

Nothing but anxiety could stir up in the face of the scene where the wall was destroyed and a large army of Crusader soldiers started surging in like an avalanche just like how it had been only a few days before. I knew I felt that way, so that scene would probably be very demoralizing for a mere soldier. Still, not a single soul took even a step back before the enemy’s advance. I could say that the morale of the Spada army was still unwavering.

 

“What should we do now? Should we take care of the remaining Taurus?”

 

“Yeah, it would be dangerous to not get rid of all of them.”

 

Although they had already used up all of their drills, the Taurus still had their massive bulk. They could still punch with their remaining arm, and even if they had no arms, a mere ram fueled by their fully powered boosters would be a threatening destructive power by itself. If we were to leave them to their own devices, the remaining walls would undoubtedly be completely destroyed.

 

“So we’ll jump upon them and attack them directly, huh?”

 

“In the end, we’re going to have to use our last resort…”

 

A strategy that involved going boom and kablam on them.

 

To be more specific, to destroy the lens on their single eye, and then attack it with lightning magic. I had witnessed a great party doing something similar in the previous battle.

 

Perhaps these Fulltune Taurus had already prepared countermeasures against electric shocks this time around, but then I thought… “Oh well. This is probably the most appropriate thing to do given the current situation”.

 

“Okay, let’s start with the ones that are closer to us and go in order from there.”

 

After Lily and Fiona nodded, each suggested about the same order of targets for our attacks. The closest one from our position was a normal-type that was located slightly closer to the center of the wall. It had already lost half of its right arm after using up its drill, but it was still raising its healthy left arm and trying to swing its fist like a giant iron mallet.

 

During the previous time, the Taurus had retreated after breaking two holes on the walls, but it seemed that this time, they would remain on the offensive. All of the surviving Taurus had remained standing right in front of the castle walls, just far enough to avoid their own drills’ explosions.

 

That Taurus was ready to throw a punch with all his might. If it were to use its boosters to propel itself, it would be able to attack with a super heavy fist in less than 10 seconds. In that case, the moment its fist were to strike the wall would be the best moment to jump onto its arm. “It looks scary, but there’s no other way around it”, I thought as I prepared myself–

 

“Wait, Kurono!”

 

Lily’s voice stopped me just as I was about to jump. I couldn’t ignore her. Even though I was already slightly leaning forward, I somehow managed to stop.

 

“What is it, Lily?”

 

“That one’s after you! It’s looking at you, Kurono!”

 

I was about to ask her “Which one?”, but then the flustered Lily pointed at it with her tiny child-like fingers.

 

There was another one behind the Taurus that was about to throw a punch at the wall.

 

It was the still-silent and immobile two-horned Taurus.

 

The captain’s vessel was still standing motionless as if it had been powered off… And the next moment, its single red eye was lit once again.

 

“It rebooted!?”

 

Then, its eye moved as if there was a human soul behind them. It slid left and right. And then, it found my own eyes.

 

I instantly understood that this one was the one that was after me.

 

“Kurono, let’s get out of here–”

 

Fiona’s voice came out a little faster than usual, but at that time, another tremor had hit the walls. The five remaining Taurus had all thrown a straight punch at the wall at the same time.

 

I could hear the rumbling sounds of the wall collapsing again somewhere.

 

The collapse of the wall was a problem in itself, but if we were going to be shaken around like ragdolls every time the walls were hit, then we wouldn’t be able to fight there.

 

The knights and adventurers who had recovered from the first blast had sadly   collapsed again, sprawling all over the pathway. Only the heavy infantry of the most elite first corps “Brave Heart” and a small fraction of the knights and adventurers had managed to remain unaffected, still standing on the wall. And, of course, the dragoons and pegasus knights that were already in the sky.

 

However, the bigger problem at the moment was the captain’s vessel, which seemed to have come back to life and was moving toward us.

 

It had certainly stopped functioning before, but it seemed that there were no abnormalities in its main booster on the back or the sub-thrusters on the waist and legs, as it slid smoothly on the snow while discharging those divinely shining particles of light to the fullest from all of them.

 

All while holding that gigantic hammer tightly in his right hand.

 

“No, we have to take him on right here!”

 

To be honest, Fiona’s earlier “Let’s get out of here” was a far more attractive idea. If I had been a little injured or had run out of magical power, I might have just replied “OK, we can’t do this, let’s run away”… At any rate, that Taurus threatened to destroy us right then and there.

 

And that fact wasn’t something we saw only as a theory or a possibility. After seeing with our own eyes how much damage these Taurus could do, we could tell for a fact how dangerous this hammer-wielding one was.

 

The moment I dexterously dodged the normal-type Taurus that had punched the wall standing between me and it, the captain’s vessel started to raise its altitude as it approached the wall.

 

I wanted to ask Lily “So it was not only able to move like a hovercraft, but to fly upwards as well?”, but I didn’t have time to do so. The captain’s vessel, which had made its boosters shine more than twice as much as the other Taurus, was now peeking over the 50-meter tall wall.

 

The Taurus were about 20 meters tall. So this one was now flying at an altitude of 30 meters.

 

And when it reached the wall, which was twice as tall as itself, it finally swung its giant hammer.

 

Though it would be more precise to say that it “pushed it out” over the wall instead.

 

Its steel hammerhead, which seemed to be wider than the lounge of that run-down student dormitory, was wide enough to cover the entire width of the castle walls’ pathway. And just like that, it swung it towards me, sweeping over the pathway that covered the area from the center to the north right wing as the two-horned Taurus hovered along the side of the wall.

 

Fortunately, many were already lying on the floor. The hammer passed over them, missing them by a hair’s breadth. Had they raised their heads even a little, they would have ended up becoming a headless corpse without having any time to feel any pain. It was like lying between a large truck’s wheels as it speeded through the road.

 

And this also reproduced the situation where a person who is standing unprotected in the middle of the road is suddenly rushed on by a large truck at full speed.

 

Those who had endured the wall’s shaking and remained standing, and those who were just at the wrong place at the wrong time… I saw them all as they were swallowed by an avalanche of steel.

 

The hammerhead and the passage came into contact with each other, and a hint of red suddenly mixed into the shattering of stone and cobblestone. There must have been someone standing there, but the next moment, they vanished entirely.

 

That hadn’t been the outcome of a magic spell that makes one’s existence disappear from the world. It was simply the result of them being sent flying, swept over, and crushed by an overwhelmingly destructive physical power. The powdered blood and flesh mixed in with the rubble as they were all swept to the side by the hammer, making it look like a minced-meat premade mix. I didn’t feel like thinking about the looks of the remaining pieces of flesh that had been scraped off the wall as the hammer swept through it.

 

Such a scene unfolded within 30 seconds after the captain’s vessel started to move again. It was clearer than staring right into a fire that the wall defense unit of the Spada army would be completely obliterated without a good countermeasure.

 

That’s why I had to make a move as soon as possible.

 

“Lily and Fiona, you two go downstairs and take cover, I’ll stop him right here– Overdrive!

 

For a moment, I felt as if they had said something to try to stop me, but I ignored them and just pressed forward.

 

A red burning aura surged from both of my arms at full power.

 

However, even with the Demon King’s blessing, fear and anxiety endlessly swirled in me before the immense iron hammer that was coming at me with a tremendous sense of oppression and a presentiment of ruin. After all, I felt as if it was unreasonable to try to stop this alone. But my body had already moved on its own, so it was too late for that. I could only hope that guy was at least easier to deal with than Greed-Gore.

 

I didn’t need a weapon. To be able to stop this, all I needed was raw strength. I couldn’t allow myself to think about anything else. Focus.

 

Even though the captain’s vessel was right in the middle of the chaos that had ensued in the wall’s pathway, I felt that it was staring straight at me as I ran straight towards it. I wondered if my body, which was engulfed in an aura of flames, was being captured in a close up through that bright red camera-eye.

 

Having swept through the top of the wall, the hammer growled as the two-horned Taurus swung it in my direction.

 

 

A thunderous and ominous sound echoed as it shook the giant violently swung its huge hammer…

 

“Uoooooooohhhhhhh–!!”

 

Its body leant forward, almost as if being carried along by the huge hammer’s momentum. I pushed my hands forward, and… stopped the blow. The burning palm of my hands had surely come into contact with the cold steel.

 

The force of the impact came in like a surging wave.

 

It was heavy. It was hard. It hurt.

 

All I could see before me was the dull color of iron. All my ears could hear were both the roaring of the wind and the sound of something breaking, as if I had been caught in the middle of a large typhoon.

 

I had lost the sensation of being standing. Was I still struggling, or had I already been blown away?

 

That thought crossed my mind only for a fraction of a second.

 

Before I knew it, I was looking at the hammer being swung up high in the sky.

 

Had I repelled it? Or had the two-horned Taurus done that itself? I couldn’t tell.

 

But one thing was for sure–

 

“–There!!”

 

It seemed that Lily and Fiona had come to my aid.

 

The huge hammer still loomed over me with a feeling of intimidation as if the sky itself was about to fall on me. However, a black burning mark had been engraved on the extremely thick handle that supported its immense bulk.

 

It was right at the part where the handle connected to the hammer head. Far from simply being burnt, the black smoke was clinging to it, as if it was still burning from the inside.

 

The two of them had attacked right at the moment I had caught the blow of that huge hammer with my bare hands. It must have been hotter and even more explosive, but I failed to notice it in the spur of the moment. Still, I had no worries, since I knew what they were capable of.

 

“It’s all up to you, Nata!”

 

At the same time as I had decided what I was going to do next, Hitsugi had already chosen the best weapon for the situation without me having to order her to.

 

I didn’t know if it had actually responded to Hitsugi’s cute junior-like encouragement, but it felt as if the “Absolute Grudge Broadsword – Kubidan” was overflowing with a more intense red-dark aura than ever. The crimson line running on the blade pulsated like a raging blood vessel, and I could feel its palpitation along with the familiar voice of the curse.

 

The melody of deep-seated grudges that eroded my mind and heart made me feel more reliable than ever. Oh, that’s fine. As you say, let’s slash, slash, slash, kill, kill, kill.

 

But before that, grant me a single amazing attack.

 

While asking that, I stepped on the cobblestones and jumped into the air with such a strength poured into my legs that I felt that my footing was about to break with the pressure.

 

“Dark Caaaaaaaaalm!!”

 

The aura, which seemed to embody the curse itself, trailed behind me as my body jumped, flying to a height of about 10 meters, right where the hammer was about to be swung down. Come to think of it, since the pathway was at the top of the 50-meter tall wall, wouldn’t it be better to say that I was flying 60 meters above the ground? At the moment, I didn’t pay too much attention to that detail.

 

Although it was a little mixed with miscellaneous thoughts, the deadly martial art “Dark Calm” I unleashed at full power burst into the burned section of the hammer’s handle at exactly the same time as it was brought down on me.

 

The next thing I felt in my hands was the sensation of hitting something extremely solid, and yet, I could also feel the response in my hands as I started to tear through the steel.

 

The nearly one meter wide steel pillar of a handle was finally cut through while  the high-pitched sound of sparks and metal echoed through the battleground. The hammerhead, which was as big as a small cabin, was finally separated from its long handle with a clean cut, exposing the now headless red-hot end of the handle.

 

Operation “Destroy the hammer”: Success.

 

By the time I turned around in the air and landed safely on the castle walls, the severed hammerhead had also fallen to the ground.

 

The huge block of steel seemed to have fallen to the ground fifty meters below, scraping the walls a little on its way down. The aftershock generated when it came in contact with the ground made it feel as if the meteorite had fallen right at the walls.

 

All I could see before my eyes was a landscape enshrouded in a spray of snow.

 

“Alright, all that’s left now is its main body! Let’s go, Lily, Fiona!”

 

Their usual immediate reply– Never came.

 

“No way!”

 

Flustered, I looked around me, only to realize that there were no cute sparkling fairies nor any absentminded black-robed witches nearby.

 

Actually, I couldn’t even see any other adventurers anywhere around me.

 

“Have they been blown away!?”

 

That hammerhead. The impact caused after it fell must have shaken everyone else off the wall. That was the only conclusion I could draw.

 

I wasn’t worried about Lily and Fiona’s safety, but it was a bad time to be all by myself.

 

The captain’s Taurus had lost its weapon, but it was still going strong.

 

It quickly threw the headless handle and put up its right fist. I felt a silent pressure from its quick movement that made me feel that the battle was still on, and that losing its weapon wouldn’t hinder it in the least.

 

And its single red eye was still shining with its inorganic light, still capturing my every move. I was sure the pilot could see how much of a stupid look I had on my flustered face.

 

It was bad news– No matter what, dealing with this guy alone was bad news. There was no point trying to act big. I had to take an evasive move for the time being.

 

“Over-Accel!”

 

At the moment when the two-horned Taurus’s fist –which was almost like a super-heavy hammer itself– was unleashed, my third blessing brought about a pseudo-time stop.

 

I had already activated my first blessing, so there was no way I could catch this punch. Therefore, all I could do was avoid it.

 

The timing at which it had thrown its punch made it so that I wouldn’t have been able to dodge it without using “Over-Accel”.

 

In this stationary world, only I was able to move, albeit slowly, and little by little. My body felt heavy, as if it was made of steel like those Taurus.

 

Even then, I managed to take one step, then another step, then a third step back before reaching my limit.

 

When the world regained the normal flow of time, my feet were smashing the cobblestones just like when I jumped at it with my “Overdrive” a while ago, and I put all of my efforts in continuing to step back.

 

The spot I had been standing on just a millisecond before was crushed by the Taurus’ iron fist, which had been brought down at a speed unnoticeable to my eyes. The wall passage was quickly shattered, creating a crevice that extended for several tens of meters.

 

The destruction caused so far by that single punch redoubled my eagerness to take care of that two-horned Taurus as soon as possible.

 

However, as I landed on the lonely pathway, I wondered if we actually had the military strength for that– the passage had become completely unmanned. A gust of dusty wind blew against me. My body didn’t waver, but my heart did.

 

“What should I do now…?”

At that moment, right after those words leaked out of the corner of my mouth…

 

“Don’t worry, Kurono. I’m here with you.”

 

Sweet and gentle words were whispered in my ear. Rather than being merely shocked, the sudden whisper brought a chill that made every hair in my body stand on end, and at the same time, caused my body to turn around agilely like a startled cat and keep my distance from it. It had been an almost unconscious avoidance response.

“Farkius!?”

 

“Though you’re a bit weird, I’ve been keeping a close watch on you, so I decided to come help–”

 

“I told you to not jump on me like that!”

 

“Oh, and here I was, thinking you’d be happy to see me.”

 

All I could think was “Don’t stick out your lower lip like a little girl and make that stern face!”. I thought it would be unpleasant for an adult man to make such a face, but he looked so… uselessly aesthetic when he did it. The amount of charm exuded from his beautiful face was truly scary.

 

However, regardless of his words and behavior, it was still reassuring to see an ally rushing in to help.

 

“…Well, if you can help me, thanks. Thank you, Farkius.”

 

At the moment when I thanked him in such a relatively blunt way, a shining smile blossomed on Farkius’ face. His pure smile made me feel as if I had been suddenly put in Lily’s tiny little-girl shoes.

 

It was truly a force to be reckoned with. I was for one glad I was a straight man.

 

“Y-Yeah! I’ll do my best to help you, Kurono!”

 

In response to the dazzling energy of his smile and words, all I could do as a response was to turn away slightly and utter a meek “Let’s go”.

 

“Wait, would you let me help you as well?”

 

This time, it was the soft but clear voice of a man.

 

The second daredevil to challenge the captain’s vessel was…

 

“Wait a second, who are you? Don’t just push yourself between Kurono and me–”

 

“Rudra? Yes, please lend us your strength.”

 

“Of course. I have a debt of gratitude to settle with you.”

 

It was the voice of that black-robed samurai.

 

Come to think of it, Rudra was also a member of “Gladiator”, so it wouldn’t have been strange for him to be here. In fact, it would have been strange for this battle enthusiast to not be in this fierce battlefield.

 

Anyway, now all three swordsmen, including myself, had appeared on stage. The best gladiator of Spada and an immortal vampire. Both of them were perfect in terms of ability. I couldn’t have asked for better members for this impromptu party.

 

“W-What kind of relationship do you have with this man, Kurono…?”

 

Farkius seemed to be trying to say something, but I didn’t have time to chat with him.

 

“Alright, the lineup is set. Let’s quickly defeat this guy and rebuild our line of defense! Let’s go!!”

 

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