The Black Demon King 478
Chapter 25: Days of Lies
Attack on the Colony
“Hey, Hitsugi… Damn it, it’s no use…”
While lurking in the woods, hiding from the road, I called out to the gray gloves covering my hands. However, there was no reply. Anyone looking at me would have thought I was some kind of lunatic who was speaking to his own hands.
However, these gloves were a cursed item, and I was well aware that a noisy, talkative tentacle maid dwelled inside them.
The cursed gloves’ official name was “Black Chain Binding Spell – Iron Cage”, and its color now was as if their glossy black fur had been bleached until it turned grey. Its original black color was only barely present around the wrist, which makes it look like they had a black that clearly separated the gloves from the rest of my clothes.
Embarrassingly enough, it wasn’t until this morning that I realized that they had turned into this strange state. After pushing Sariel down to bed, I had taken my clothes off in such a rush that I ended up throwing the gloves to the floor without paying too much attention to them. What can I say, Hitsugi? I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.
Anyway, Hitsugi had turned gray as if the gloves themselves had burned to ashes. I hadn’t thought too much about it back when I put them back on, but now, not only I could no longer feel their Bind Arts reacting to my black magical power, but also they would no longer feel like a perfect fit.
They simply looked like a pair of regular gloves
“I wonder if this is a result of going through that ‘Heaven’s Gate’?”
It looked as if the cause for their sudden change was that transfer magic spell that swirled with a high concentration of white magic power. White magic power has properties very similar to the light attribute, so it would be very effective against the undead. In other words, it was highly effective in purifying curses.
I myself had sustained no damage or other adverse effects because of my innate human body, even if I was a demon or a berserker. No matter how evil the mind may be, the human body had no special weakness to white magic power like the undead.
Perhaps if I had passed through the gate with a cursed weapon such as “Kubidan”, it would have been completely destroyed. I suppose I should be glad I left it behind. Perhaps my beloved cursed weapons had been retrieved by Lily and others, so I wasn’t too worried about losing them.
Leaving that aside, my only problem was the fact that Hitsugi wasn’t answering my calls.
“…I’m sure you’re alright, Hitsugi.”
I wanted to believe that if I kept the gloves on and kept supplying them with black magic power, they would go back to normal.
I hadn’t really defeated the apostle… Although she was no longer a threat. As a result, I could say that this was a victory. And yet, losing Hitsugi would have been a price too high to pay for it.
Hitsugi wasn’t human, but she still talked to me with a frank –but noisy– and rather cute voice. These gloves could seem like a mere pair of cursed gloves to some, but to me, Hitsugi was one of my most important companions.
I’d have to think about something after returning to Spada if I didn’t see any signs of recovery after a while. For the time being, I’d take the gloves to the weapons business run by Chairman Mordred, who claimed to be a connoisseur of cursed weapons.
“At any rate, I really have nothing but my own body to fall back on.”
I had no cursed weapons on me, and who knew when Hitsugi would come back.
I had used up all of my fairy’s remedy on me and Sariel. The only other things left on me were the “Nana Blast Amulet” that was tied to my belt, and the “Aria Guard Feather” that was tightly packed inside my trousers’ pocket. At the very least, I hadn’t lost the items Fiona and Nell had given me, but unfortunately, these magic items –which ward off fire and mental attacks– were of no use in this situation.
In other words, I was essentially empty-handed.
It made me feel a bit anxious, but this was how it was by default back when they did those experiments on me, so I was sure I would come out all right.
I would finally get myself going after telling that to myself.
Without going through Hitsugi, I created black tentacles from both of my hands which coiled themselves around the branch of a large tree that towered over the surroundings in front of me. The branch was so thick that I wouldn’t break it even if I were to climb on it.
Then I finished climbing the tree to a height of about 5 meters above the ground. It was significantly easier than to run riot while hanging on the walls of Galahad Fortress.
I didn’t have any special knowledge of covert operations, but for the time being, I simply held my breath and crouched as far down as I could. Fortunately, the robe I was wearing was white, so it blended perfectly with the surrounding snow. It was the best outfit for scouting out here.
“…That’s one of the colonies.”
About an hour after I left the cabin, I was already close enough to see the village. Climbing on top of a tree this tall allowed me to see the state of the village even from the woods.
From the surrounding terrain, the way the roads were made, and above all, the wooden fences that prevented the invasion of monsters, it can be concluded that it was the place where the Ils Village used to be.
And a quick glance revealed that a new village was being created inside those fences.
Perhaps the most prominent building there was the church, located on what appeared to have been built where the Adventurer’s Guild once stood. I could see that it was higher than other buildings because only its thin single spire protruded from the white-painted walls that blended in with the surrounding snow. Of course, on the top of the tower, a white cross symbol was shining under the sunlight to show off its rule over the land.
Aside from the church, there were many regular wooden houses. The only big buildings were some two-story buildings and warehouses.
Almost all the buildings were gathered within Ils Village’s wooden fences, and even though it was a rather small area, the settlement wasn’t entirely finished. Outside the fences, there were just a few small sheds. It looked like there could be some harvestable fields around them, but in winter, the area around the sheds looked like nothing but a large snow field.
“It’s so small that I should be able to trample over it easily.”
I couldn’t say for sure if there were even a hundred people in that settlement. I wondered if there were only one or two knights stationed there.
Well, that didn’t mean that I wanted to slaughter them all. I couldn’t expect to be able to get a good haul in a poor and boring village such as this one, but I believed I could get enough food for the time being.
Both Sariel and I have enough physical strength and stamina to keep going without eating for a week, but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t hungry. Eating properly every day would naturally allow me to use my full strength.
There were only a few preserved foods left in the cabin. At the very least, I needed to get enough food to keep us going for a few more days so that I would be able to use the full extent of my body’s capabilities.
“There don’t seem to be any guards around… Alright, time to make a move.”
As soon as I was about to jump off the branch, I suddenly noticed something.
“What is that smoke?”
Suddenly, black smoke rushed up from the center of the village toward the clear blue winter sky. There was no reason to burn a big campfire. The moment I realized it was actually a fire, I could see the panicked villagers scattering around and screaming.
I couldn’t see exactly what was going on from my position. But at least it seemed certain that there had been an accident that caused everyone to run away as fast as their legs could take them.
Seeing that, I didn’t quite feel like infiltrating a village that seemed to be in such a state of emergency.
But on second thought, this chaotic situation made for the perfect chance for me to sneak into the village. At the very least, I still had some time to take a closer look and see what was going on before making my move.
“Hey, how far away are you going to escape?”
As I looked over the village, two small figures appeared at a place that I could clearly see from the treetop.
They were two girls wearing dark blue robes. They resembled each other, and seemed to be about 15 years old. At first glance, they looked like sisters, but… one had blonde hair and white skin, and the other had silver hair and brown skin. It was as if they were a light elf and dark elf version of the same person put side by side, but my good-looking eyes clearly confirmed that their ears weren’t long or pointy like an elf’s.
The black-and-white duo fluttered through the snow, clinging to the wooden fence separating the village and the field surrounding it, and climbing up with surprisingly nimble movements.
After getting to the top of the fence, they jumped down and landed by rolling on the ground. Then they immediately got up again and started running away from the fence, and finished by bursting into a nearby storage shed.
Were they playing hide-and-seek? I wondered if I could catch them while they were out of sight and ask them what they were doing… but it would be too much of a crime for me to do that. Even for people from the Republic of Sinclair, children were still children. My conscience wouldn’t allow me to lay a finger on them. Or was it my pride? Even more so after what I had ended up doing with Sariel last night.
As I was dwelling into my anguish, a new person showed up.
This one looked like a regular villager, and was wearing an old brown coat. Just like the duo, he ran towards the fence – and then his body was split in half.
Suddenly, his upper and lower body were separated from the waist, and his lower side suddenly turned into a sea of blood. The man’s corpse sank into that hellish pond of blood while spilling even more fresh blood and guts all over the place.
“That was… Wind, wasn’t it? It looked like an ‘Air Kris Sagitta’.”
Not only the man had been cut down, but the wooden fence in front of him as well. A log that served as a pillar for the fence was split in half as if someone had unleashed a powerful “Slash” with a sharp sword, exposing the sharp cross section and causing it to collapse.
But analyzing what kind of magic had killed the man wasn’t important at the moment. I had to think about the fact that a man had just been killed, and figure out why.
“Damn it, I don’t have time to think about this…”
From a nearby house, the people responsible for the man’s death made their appearance.
They were two men. One of them was wearing a white and green robe, and seemed to be a Wind Mage. The wand with a dark green magic stone in his hand was probably the weapon that had murdered that man.
The other man was wearing a Mithril Plate which glittered with a silver luster. The rest of his armor was decorated with gold trimmings and emeralds. A familiar green cloak was fluttering from his back. For a moment, I could see on that fluttering cloak the same thing that I had seen in the knights in green armor who had the tables turned on them at the castle walls– it was the coat of arms of that aristocrat, Count Bergunt.
I had heard from Fiona that this aristocrat was a key figure among the Crusaders who had attacked Spada. In short, that man in Mithril Plate armor was part of the Count’s clan, but more importantly, he was a Crusader soldier.
“…This is a massacre.”
The Crusaders were still attacking Ils Village right in front of my eyes.
A dry laugh escaped from my mouth.
It felt as if I had gone back in time. It seems that he had been taken back to the most disgusting moment ever.
But I didn’t have the chance to start over. Time never goes back.
They weren’t attacking Ils Village, but the colony that now stood in its place, which were supposed to be their compatriots. It was another village that was burning, and different people being killed.
“This has to be some kind of joke… What the hell is going on?”
I couldn’t understand what was happening. I couldn’t even begin to imagine it. But there was something I could understand.
The soldier and the mage vaulted over the broken fence without even looking at the corpse of the man they had just killed. The soldier went ahead in a hurry, constantly wandering around.
The mage called him out, pointing towards a small storage shed. It was the same place where those two girls had barged in a while ago.
A horrifying smile appeared on the soldier’s face, which almost made me think that it was a completely different person from before.
They were looking for those girls.
It was this morning that a party of Crusaders arrived at the 202nd colony.
“Make way! Here comes Lord Mashram Joshua Helvetia Bergunt, a young lord of the house of Count Bergunt!”
Wearing a luxurious outfit consisting of a shining silver armor and a green cloak that sported his family crest, a scanty and frail young man –which anyone could see at a glance that was not used to wearing a knight’s armor– was introduced in this flashy manner.
His face was so pale and bland that no one could ever picture him bravely wielding a sword on the battlefield. Neither his mushroom-cut green hair nor his eyes, which restlessly darted left and right, managed to show the dignity of a nobleman who led his troops into the battlefield. Upon closer examination, he wasn’t even riding a horse, but a donkey.
“Lord Mashram must hurry back to the Republic of Sinclair due to urgent circumstances! In that regard, we will be collecting the supplies we need in order to march to Virginia! Time is of the essence, so be quick to comply!”
A man dressed as a mage, who seemed to be a lieutenant of this Lord Mashram, voiced out such one-sided order, and the mayor of this colony, the priests of the church and other residents all gathered in the central square. All of them had a confused expression on their faces.
“Oh, I’m afraid… This village has already provided a lot of food to the Crusaders, and our warehouse has only enough food left for the villagers to survive this winter. If we give out enough to supply such a large number of people…”
The words of the colony’s mayor, which he spoke with a face as pale as a sheet, weren’t out of him being skimpy. They were completely true.
This 202nd colony had a population of a little over 100 people. And the number of Crusader troops led by Mashram was about 30. To be asked to provide food for 30% of the colony’s total population to supply the troop’s month-long travel to Virginia on the far east coast, would put the colony in quite a predicament.
In the first place, it was the Crusader supply unit led by none other than Mashram who commandeered supplies to the colony’s utmost limit before marching towards Galahad Fortress.
No one in this colony knew that he was an officer assigned to a supply base in the neighboring 203rd colony, which had been once known as a relatively large village surrounded by stone walls called Qual.
It was highly unlikely that such a person suddenly said that he had to return to his home country, but the real problem was whether or not the villagers could actually provide the food they were asking for, rather than the circumstances of the higher-ups.
“…Since we have such a shortage of food at the moment… The villages east of here still have a large population and structure, so I’m sure there will be enough supplies there to satisfy your needs.”
“Don’t waste our time. If you don’t comply, you won’t be able to live up to Lord Mashram’s wishes.”
“P-Please, have mercy! If we give you any more food, we’re really going to starve–”
The mayor’s tearful ply was forcibly cut short right there.
“To not provide food when needed is an act against Lord Mashram’s life… It is nothing short of treason.”
What the mage had swung wasn’t a sword, but a wand. However, the blade of the wind unleashed from it and aimed at the colony’s mayor was sharper than a hundred swords.
The mayor’s head flew off cleanly, and his headless corpse fell on the snowy road.
Suddenly, the villagers began to scream.
“Soldiers, procure the supplies we need. Cut down anyone who dares to get in your way. Do you agree, Lord Mashram?”
“Yeah, yeah, just be quick about it. I’m never coming back to this far away place, so do whatever you want.”
“Then I shall do just that.”
Thus began the pillaging.
The number of armed villagers was very small, and they were easily killed by the high-precision wind magic emitted by Mashram’s aide. Aside from them, all that was left was non-resisting people who didn’t have any weapons.
The nearly thirty soldiers that followed Mashram were much better equipped than the regular Crusader infantry. With their armor that protected their limbs and torso, their equipment level was estimated to be platoon-leader class.
Surprisingly enough, five of them were armor knights with full plate mail, huge halberds and tower shields. Even if there are the same number, or even three times as many vigilante corps in the colony, they would be no match against them.
However, no one was reckless enough to challenge the terrifying heavy knight team, so they simply escorted a carriage to the warehouse where the colony’s food stockpiles were stored.
Only the heavy knights and a dozen people around them remained faithful to their mission of procuring supplies. Most of the soldiers were rampaging as if they were unable to suppress their appetite for destruction. Some, like serial killers, simply killed anyone who happened to enter their field of vision, while others started to set houses on fire just to make a lesson out of it.
In a blink of an eye, the colony’s central square turned into a hellish scenery, with burning black smoke and the smell of blood, and the heartbreaking screams of the fleeing villagers as the soldiers’ blades mercilessly and meaninglessly swung down on their backs.
“Oh, come on now, it’s not fair that you guys are the only ones who get to have fun, don’t you think!?”
Mashram complained from his donkey when he saw a soldier laughing with a strange voice as he grabbed a young villager girl from her long hair and dragged her down to the ground.
“Hey, don’t leave your post. If you’re going to do something, do it here.”
Having received permission to do whatever he wanted so long as he didn’t leave his position, the soldier forced himself onto the girl he had captured, saying that doing something like that outside was kind of embarrassing with a really filthy grin floating on his face.
“No, no, that’s not what I mean!?””
Mashram pointed his finger towards his subordinate, who seemed to be enjoying himself quite a bit, as he issued his complaint.
“Hahaha, I understand. I hope you get to have a good time here as well, Lord Mashram.”
After his forced smile, the aide kept wearing his wicked grin on his face as he continued.
“Let’s see… How about those little sisters over there?”
Since he knew his lord’s preferences well, the aide confidently pointed at the church that was right in front of the square. Mashram quickly examined the pretty faces of the two girls that were there, who were timidly looking at the state of the plaza.
“Oh-Ohhh! Yes, they’ll do! Both of them!”
“Looks like they suit your liking.”
“Hee, heehee, look at those red eyes and that dark skin! It’s going to be the first time I do it with such savages!”
“Certainly, they look similar to the people of Barbados and Ibraham.”
They were two of the three major enemies that once threatened the Republic of Sinclair. There was no one in Sinclair who didn’t know the abominable names of Barbados in the north and Ibraham in the south, and the barbaric and cursed kings who led their respective nations. And both of them had been defeated by the White Hero, the Second Apostle Abel.
Their defeat at the hands of Abel a hundred years ago had completely dampened the momentum of their earlier years, and most of their territories had been swallowed by the Republic of Sinclair. The people of the two nations were once hostile to God, and even after becoming part of Sinclair, their people were clearly differentiated from those from the mainland, regarded as followers of second-class gods. For that reason, it wasn’t uncommon for children from those former countries to be sent to a faraway land such as the Pandora continent to be taken in as orphans by the church.
However, the Barbados girl with blond hair and eyes red as rubies and the Ibraham girl with silver hair and brown skin that had caught Mashram’s attention were wearing typical Cross Church habits, which seemed to be making Mashram shake his forefinger even more as he pointed at them.
What’s more, both of them seemed to be around 15 years old. Just like how Mashram preferred them.
The next moment, Mashram hurriedly got off from his donkey almost as if he had fallen down from it, and rushed towards the church.
“W-Wait, please! I beg of you, please don’t lay a finger on the children!”
Standing before him was a priest who represented the colony, just like the mayor who had just been murdered. The priest was so old that every single hair on his head was pure white, but he still stood tall, protecting the children as an embodiment of the Cross Church’s benevolence and self-sacrifice.
“Heeeey! You’re in the way, old man! Outta the way!!”
“G-God will never forgive something like th–”
But still, he was completely powerless.
The old priest pitifully followed the same fate as the mayor.
“W-Whoa, is it really okay to kill the priest!?”
Mashram’s voice came out like a high-pitched shrill, perhaps because he was thrown off by the sight of the priest’s head being chopped off so cleanly right in front of him.
“Rest assured, Lord Mashram. The idea that the church still does not recognize the second-class gods as formal believers remains deeply rooted. If we say that this priest was a traitor who was hiding people we believed to be heathens, there will be no complaints about his passing. Anyway… We can’t spend too much time around here. If you’re going to entertain yourself, you have to be quick, or they’ll end up running away.”
Seeing the calmness of Mashram’s aide as he just murdered the priest just in front of them, the Barbados and Ibraham girls held hands together and broke into a dash like rabbits fleeing from a fox. Being able to run away without hesitation after witnessing the shocking murder of the priest that had come to their aid showed their tremendous courage.
“Heeey, wait! Wait, waaaait!!”
With the momentum of a horse running with a carrot hanging in front of its head, Mashram looked almost ridiculous when seen from the side, but relentless from the point of view of the chased girls. His eyes were so clouded with lust that even a child would feel a sense of crisis emanating from them.
The grim thought of the priest’s death had already been pushed to the corner of his mind, and he had turned into a beast that was driven only by his own pleasure impulses.
“Oh, Lord Mashram, please don’t go too far away on your own!”
While watching his unsightly Lord with kind eyes, the Wind Mage smiled, and chased after him without forgetting his role as his guard.
“Haah… Haah… W-Where did you go!? Hey, where are you!?”
Going along Mashram’s wretched game of tag, the Wind Mage slew three more men that happened to get in his way, and finally caught up with his lord.
After cutting through the third villager, the force of his attack had cut down the wooden fence at the border of the village. Beyond that was a large snowfield covering the harvesting areas and a nearby forest.
Mashram was there, hurriedly looking left and right for the girls that had suddenly disappeared from his view.
“They could have only escaped into that shed over there. There are some footprints leading there.”
“Oooh! You’re right!”
Mashram rushed through the crunchy snow and then jumped into the shed without losing any momentum.
All that he wanted was to savor the bodies of those exotic young girls.
“I’ll be standing guard right outside, Lord Mashram. Let me know if you run into any problems.”
There was no reply.
However, the aide decided to remain faithful to his duties and stood on the lookout just outside the shed.
He expected to hear the sad screams of the girls and the beast-like moans of Mashram echoing from the other side of the shed’s thin walls, but he wasn’t so naive as to dedicate his entire attention to his lord’s antics.
He may have noticed it because he was capable of remaining vigilant of his surroundings without being distracted by anything.
“No way… Are we being seen?”
He felt a presence, no, a murderous intent, coming from somewhere close.
While getting his wand ready with enough magical power to fire an “Air Sagitta” the moment he needed to, he carefully kept on exploring his surroundings. Apparently, it seemed unlikely that an arrow was being aimed at him from behind some shadow of the shed..
Then, from where? The answer suddenly came the moment he turned his gaze back to the snowy field where there was nowhere to hide.
Someone was lurking in the forest, hundreds of meters away from the shed.
That was all he noticed.
The only thing he managed to see was something that looked like a glowing black arrow flying straight towards him. By the time he realized that it had deeply pierced his throat, the aide’s body had already fallen silently on the snow.
He struggled on the snow without making a single groan.
No help would come for him. When someone did come, it wasn’t to save him.
The thing that convinced him the most about his impending death was the sight of the black knife that had been thrown at his throat by his assassin.
The word “assassin” fell short to describe this man in a white robe, who walked through the woods and crossed the snowfield straight, without even trying to hide his horrifying murderous intent.
Was he trying to verify if his target was still alive? The assassin who had walked quietly towards him stopped by his side. At that time, the aide got a glimpse of his true face hidden behind a thick fur hood.
The immense anger burning in his chest as his life poured out of his wounded throat distorted his assassin’s face so much that he couldn’t even look straight at it. Still, both his black right eye that was darker than a moonless night and his crimson left eye that shone like a burning fire were coldly glaring at him.
“Y-You… D-De… mon…”
His assassin evoked such an aura of anger, fear, and death around him, that he was worthy of being called a demon.