The Black Demon King 497
Chapter 25: Days of Lies
Passionate Night at the Valentinus Festival (2-1)
Though I can’t speak, I can’t help but get the urge to cry “H-H-How did this happen?”.
There are two reasons for that.
“Looks like Ursula is okay. But she also seems to be in a deep sleep, so let’s let her sleep until the morning.”
No way! Ur, who was supposed to play the leading part in tonight’s plan, had a single sip of alcohol and fell asleep…
The reason why Ur drank alcohol in the first place, she said, was to “fire herself up”, and that “It’s a festival after all”.
At any rate, with that as an excuse, Ursula had a glass of wine with me, who was originally supposed to just pretend to be drunk.
And there was no one stopping us from doing anything like that, despite so many people being around. But they were acting irresponsibly, yelling things like “chug, chug!” and “It’s alright, it’s a festival after all!”.
Before I realized, we were surrounded by drunkards.
Still, I figured a single glass wouldn’t hurt… Until the moment Ursula brought the glass to her mouth.
“Phew, hah… waah…”
After some gibberish escaped her mouth, Ur set off for the land of dreams.
Then I hurried to get Priest Kuroe, and Ur was quickly taken to the church so she could rest. In other words, the plan had failed. It was a huge blunder.
What should I do nooow!? Tell me, Ur!!
As those words welled up inside my chest, unable to decide what to do next, Priest Kuroe suddenly started saying something.
“I’ve left Yuuri in Ursula’s care, so if anything happens, she’ll let me know right away. So you can go have fun at the festival without having to worry about her. But… With Ursula sleeping, are you going by yourself? Want to go with me?”
Wait, does that mean… He’s asking me out!?
I lost my partner Ursula thanks to that disastrous accident, and Priest Kuroe’s partner, Sister Yuuri, was also left behind. So we were a man and a woman both left without a partner to go enjoy the festival with.
There’s no need to guess… He’s actually asking me out.
It was too sudden, too unexpected, and nothing but “eeeeh” could come out of my mouth for a while. I could see a devilish smile on Priest Kuroe’s face as he kept speaking.
“We’ve been waiting for this festival, after all. Come on, it’ll be my treat. You can eat as much as you want. Let’s keep it a secret from Ursula.”
This is the second reason why I’m wondering how things turned out this way. The situation is the exact opposite of Ursula’s plan. Our roles had reversed.
So I should turn his invitation down. Even after having come so far. Because I can’t do something like that to Ur–
But in reality, I couldn’t refuse Priest Kuroe’s invitation.
If you ask me why, I wouldn’t know how to answer.
I even feel a bit guilty, as if I’ve somehow betrayed Ur.
Even so, I didn’t understand why the idea of enjoying the festival with Priest Kuroe made me feel like we were going to have so much fun, nor why it made me so happy.
We ended up having a large whole-roasted boar as our main dish, dancing around the bonfire, and even drinking a little bit of alcohol with him… But what I enjoyed the most was having the chance to talk with Priest Kuroe for the first time in a while, and seeing his face as he laughed made me so happy I felt like I was out of this world.
“–What’s the matter, Reki? You seem to be in a daze, are you getting sleepy?”
“N-No! Reki isn’t sleepy at all!”
I had been carelessly watching Priest Kuroe’s face with fascination, and his voice snapped me back to reality.
Though I’m quite used to seeing his rugged expression, tonight I find myself unable to take my eyes off him.
“Hmm, is that so?”
The blue eyes behind the thin lenses of his glasses had narrowed. Though others may see this expression on his face and think they’re being glared at, I already know this is actually one of his “smiling” faces.
Back when we all started living together, I quickly noticed just how many facial expressions Priest Kuroe has.
Can Sister Yuuri, who seems to have no semblance of human emotions, really understand the facial expressions of Priest Kuroe, who’s supposed to be her lover? What about Ur, who had so boldly stated that he “likes” Priest Kuroe?
Maybe only I’m aware of it. Maybe only I can see his smile for what it is.
And, for some reason, that thought makes a thrilling sensation spring up from the depths of my chest. It’s like when I’m too hyped about something at night and can’t get myself to sleep… No, it’s even worse than that.
“But we’ll have to go to bed soon, don’t you think?”
“Eeeeh!? But Reki wants to keep having a good time with Priest Kuroe!!”
I want to be with Priest Kuroe a bit longer.
“We can’t take another day off tomorrow. Though… Hmm… Well, let’s go somewhere a bit quieter than out here so we can take a short break. If we stay in this noisy place for much longer, we won’t be able to get any sleep later.”
“Hmph, well, that’ll have to do, huh?”
As I said that, I realized I was casually holding Priest Kuroe’s hand while walking out of the central square –which was still filled with songs, music, and the wild laugher of the drunkards– and toward the outskirts of the village.
Wait, are we going to be like, really, really alone there?
As the noisy voices became more and more distant, we gradually entered a world where it’s just Priest Kuroe and me. Though the fact that we were close enough to reach out and touch each other hadn’t changed, the atmosphere itself still changed drastically simply because there were no other people around.
“Just like I thought, this place is pretty quiet.”
As we reached the fence that surrounds the entire village, the noise of the central square sounded as if it was really far away. Both Priest Kuroe and I have good ears, so we could still hear it if we focused, but it was otherwise pretty easy to ignore it.
The only light we have comes from a lamp Priest Kuroe borrowed from one of the tables in the square. Outside of the light it cast around us, there’s nothing but the unending darkness of the night.
Rather than it being just the two of us out here, it feels as if we were the only two people left in this world.
As I became conscious of that fact, my heart suddenly started beating faster. I feel so restless that I can’t keep myself still. And I just know my face is giving me away, and the thought of Priest Kuroe finding out about my feelings for him makes me wanna crawl into a hole and hide… My heart is about to explode and my head is all over the place!
“What’s the matter, Reki? You look a bit shaky. Are you okay?”
But even so, now, right now, might be my best chance to say this.
I have to make the best of this momentum, of these emotions swirling inside me and the unreasonable selfishness inside my chest, to say the things I would otherwise never dare say.
“P-Priest Kuroe… R-Reki has a favor to ask…”
As we left the central square and approached the fence at the village’s edge, everything went completely quiet. It was as if all the passionate clatter of the festival had been a lie all along.
Leaning our backs against the fence and looking up at the sky, we can see a perfect starry sky. The night sky filled with starlight –which you can’t see in the streets of modern Japan– looks so beautiful tonight, even though I should already be used to it by now.
We were under a magnificent and fantastic starry sky in a different world, and yet Reki seemed to be very restless for some reason.
“What’s the matter, Reki? You look a bit shaky. Are you okay?”
Did I overdo it? Perhaps I shouldn’t have let her drink alcohol… Reki didn’t collapse like Ursula, and though it seems alcohol didn’t affect her as much at first, maybe it’s starting to get to her now.
“P-Priest Kuroe… R-Reki has a favor to ask…”
Reki suddenly said that and her white cheeks turned as red as tomatoes. The contrast was so intense that I could clearly tell them apart from the white of her eyes also turning slightly reddish as tears began to form there. Yeah, she must be completely drunk.
“What is it?”
“Reki would like it if Priest Kuroe could take her with him when he leaves.”
At first, I didn’t reply. It doesn’t matter if the words coming out of her mouth were a joke fired up by alcohol, or a selfish child’s plea, either way I didn’t want to cut her off right away.
After all, parting ways is painful. For her, and for me as well.
“I’m sorry, Reki. I can’t do that.”
“Why!? Ur is much stronger now! Neither of us is going to be a nuisance to you!
Before, at the bar, Ryan said “Why don’t you go with him?” And at that time, Reki refused, saying that she couldn’t. Because of Ursula.
Now, Ursula has become quite a powerful sorceress. As she’s gradually mastering Origin Magic, I became aware of the possibility of her wanting to come with us on our dangerous journey.
But the journey ahead being dangerous isn’t the reason why I can’t take them with me.
“I’ve been lying to you all.”
Reki must have realized that she was being a bit absurd. But even then, hearing me say that threw her off completely, as if she had been suspicious of me all along and my words finally convinced her.
That’s why I have to throw all my lies away and tell her the whole truth.
“Reki knows! Priest Kuroe isn’t really a priest… He is a demon, right?”
I thought she would’ve already realized that I wasn’t a real priest, but to be honest, I wasn’t expecting her to have figured that much out.
“Would you still want to be around me if I actually turned out to be a demon?”
“Yes! Priest Kuroe is still going to be Priest Kuroe, no matter what he is!”
No matter what he is… Her words made me happy, but at the same time, they made my chest hurt.
“Reki, do you remember the first time we met?”
I deliberately take off my “Coloring Eyes”, and my eyes go back to their original black and red color.
Reki stared into my eyes, and replied with decisiveness.
“Reki remembers! Reki will never forget how Priest Kuroe saved Reki on that day!”
“No, I killed those men because I wanted to kill them. I was driven by rage… That day, when I saw you and Ursula being chased by them, I thought I’d help you… But in the end, helping you came in second.”
Back then, seeing those Crusaders raiding the place that had once been Ils Village once again made me so angry I nearly lost myself there. Had this been a different place, I probably would’ve abandoned it to its fate, since I really didn’t want to risk being found out by the Crusaders. I remember thinking that if it had been just the Sinclairians having some sort of inner riot, they were better off killing each other.
So even though I saw Reki and Ursula being attacked, there had been a high chance that I would’ve done nothing to help them in the first place.
I would be a hypocrite if I were to say that I had saved their lives. Their lives were certainly saved, but it had been nothing but a mere consequence of me wanting to kill their pursuers.