The Black Demon King
505 The Floating, Man-Eating Mountain
Amidst the fog, I chased while shouting her name.
However, after a few steps, I came across a solid gate that stood in my way. Of course, not too long ago, I had closed it myself.
“Dammit, where—!? Where are you—!? Reki—!!”
I looked around, yet there was nothing but white fog. By the way, my sharp sixth sense didn’t react, either.
I couldn’t feel anything.
The enemy was no longer nearby.
Not only did they capture Reki, they also got away.
Where would Reki’s abductor disappear? Did they escape through the wall into the village, or did they fly through the sky?
Either way, I needed to help her, fast.
It shouldn’t be too late.
Despite this, I couldn’t sense anything. In the first place, I had no lead. Even though I still had the strength to fight—even though I was able to move, I couldn’t.
I couldn’t at all.
I couldn’t do anything.
Yet, time was slipping away.
A quiet, white, darkness.
Muddled by anger and impatience, I was confused beyond control.
“Reki, it’s a lie, right…? No, I can’t—”
—I mustn’t give up.
I can’t give up.
If there was no enemy within sight, then look for them. Thus, I opened the gate and went back inside the village. Perhaps, Reki was somewhere safe…
The image of the octopuses rushing to their fallen prey flashed across my mind. They didn’t wait long. They’d start gnawing on their prey right away—from anywhere they could reach.
Not only that, Reki was stabbed. Even if she managed to escape, it was unlikely for her to be able to stand her ground against the swarming octopuses—
I had to do something.
Just like that, I spared no time to remove the bolt on the gate, before raising my fist to blow it off with Wrath Impact. Although I was a bit unstable, something occurred, which made me halt—
“—What? The fog… is disappearing.”
A strong wind blew. In the next moment, the white fog enveloping the surroundings flowed upwards all at once. It was as if the smoke was sucked in by a powerful ventilation fan on the ceiling. The flow was clearly visible.
Without even giving me a chance to comprehend anything, the fog quickly dispersed. At last, the visibility was clear.
In front of me was the gate and the stone wall of a closed pioneer village. To the left and right, were fields that looked like mottled soil due to melting snow. There wasn’t a single, creepy, green octopus to be seen.
Of course, there was no Reki, either.
It was as if she had disappeared with the fog, giving me the illusion of a temporary nightmare.
However, as if to deny my impression, a flash of red—yes, the light which indicated the monster of the ordeal blinked in my left eye. Its dazzling brilliance wasn’t something that I had ever witnessed before.
It was as if the entire sky had been dyed red like purgatory.
Seeing such a massive anomaly, I immediately turned my gaze upwards.
“What, ah, that’s…”
At first, I thought it was a humongous cloud.
It was only natural, since it floated amidst the sunny, blue sky.
However, the cloud, which was a large mass akin to a thunderhead, was unnatural. At a glance, nothing seemed amiss. However, if you gazed upon it long enough, it was impossible to miss.
After all, the cloud was too low.
I estimated it to be about 100 meters low in the sky from the church steeple. It was as if it was covering the village—no, as if it was falling towards the village.
As I looked up at the sky in a daze, I immediately realized that it wasn’t just a mere metaphor, but a fact.
The cloud was “moving” of its own accord.
“It’s massive… no, too massive…”
The size made the word ‘massive’ lose its meaning for a moment.
The next moment, the whole cloud swayed unnaturally. Then, it appeared.
A huge tentacle.
Its green color was exactly the same as the octopus I fought recently. But the scale was another story. I’d rather think that I was seeing things.
However, if I wasn’t, the octopus legs seemed to be far over 100 meters. Its size, thickness, and length were incomparable—even to those 10-meter-class tentacles.
Before I knew it, a shadow was cast upon my face.
A total of eight octopus legs stretched out from the mass of pure white clouds covering the sky. Instead of an actual cloud, the mountain-like giant had blocked the sun from rising in the sky.
Oh, I see. That was the monster of the ordeal that must truly be defeated.
This is the Gluttony Octo.
Rather than calling it an octopus monster that boasted a huge body exceeding that of 1 kilometer, it’d be more conceivable to just say that it was a floating island.
I couldn’t stop the chills running down my spine. At the premonition of an uncontrollable crisis approaching, my heartbeat throbbed.
I naturally took a step forward to escape—but I couldn’t move.
Should I run?
I couldn’t figure out how else I was supposed to rescue her.
“…Shit, I’m sorry, Reki…”
I couldn’t stay there. In this situation, regardless of how hard I tried, I wouldn’t be able to save her.
If I were to force myself to continue with the search, that’d be my final resting place.
Life was precious.
Above all, there were still many I had to protect. My friends, whom I must meet again, were waiting.
Therefore, I had no choice but to give up.
A strange roar, resembling that of a wind instrument with a deep bass, resounded. The volume was so loud that I reflexively covered my ears, forgetting the existence of my helmet.
This is seriously bad.
With determination and a sense of crisis, I ran as fast as I could along the highway to get as far away from the village as possible.
The sound emitted from the sky, as if crushing the earth, was probably the cry of the Gluttony Octo. Without looking back, I kept running as the eerily unanimous bass resounded.
However, during the mere few seconds of running through the 100 meters, my body suddenly felt heavy.
“Kuh, headwind—no, am I being pulled in!?”
As if trying to block my escape, a strong wind blew from the direction I was heading. I immediately figured out that it was no accident, but the work of the big guy overhead.
When I involuntarily glanced back, there was already a huge tornado.
As if aiming at the center of the village, Gluttony Octo floated. The tornado swirled from the center of its body, which had a super-massive mouth that could swallow an entire building.
He’s sucking it in.
The clouds around Gluttony Octo began to swirl and roar.
From the fact that the swirling speed was increasing rapidly, it was apparent that it wasn’t just a wind or an optical illusion—
—a typhoon was about to form.
Ten seconds, twenty seconds—probably in less than a minute, it merged with the tornado near its mouth and turned into a huge storm that covered the entire village.
“Shit, Bind Arts—!”
Even my body, which was several hundred meters away from the gate, was being blown by a strong gust. The wind was so strong, I couldn’t run anymore. To prevent myself from being blown away, the only resistance I could put up was the Bind Arts.
Black chains coiled around my limbs and torso in double and triple layers. The tips, which were in the shape of sharp claws—no, thick anchors, slammed into the ground. Using Through Ground made it easier to release the anchors to a considerable depth.
Even so, my chained body squealed due to wind pressure. I felt as if I was grasped by a gigantic hand.
The slender trees growing in the surroundings snapped, before being sucked into Gluttony Octo’s tornado. I wondered how fast the wind was blowing around me.
It’s just a little further away. I should stay right where I am.
The village was engulfed by a huge tornado that should be called a natural disaster. Numerous houses collapsed. A half-red triangular roof, a horse-drawn cart, some uprooted trees… I could see various things flying around in a dizzying manner.
The cross of God attached to the spire of the church was also caught in the fleeting updraft of the tornado, as if to show that the Pandora continent was powerless at the hands of demons and monsters—
“Is this what it means to destroy a village?”
For the people to be attacked. For the property, the livestock, and the crops to be pillaged. Whether the perpetrator was human or monster, the damage would roughly be like that.
Regardless of how bad the situation was, people, houses, and fields would be burned to the ground. To say that there was nothing left behind was just an expression that there was nothing of value. After all, no matter how it was burned, ashes and wreckage would always remain.
However, just now, I witnessed the unprecedented damage that left absolutely nothing.
Houses and trees were uprooted. Most likely, some villagers were included among them—and all of them were sucked into a gigantic mouth like endless hell, literally being devoured to nothingness.
Such was the overwhelming, ultimate, gluttony—
Before I knew it, the raging wind had subsided, leaving a deserted field.
It was difficult to believe that until recently, a village existed there. Rather than saying that there was no trace, it’d be more appropriate to say that there was nothing from the beginning.
Only rough ground spread out in vain.
However, the unnatural clumps of clouds still floating in the sky proved that I was never dreaming. After the absorption—or should I say, predation of the village, the air around me had stabilized.
The octopus’ legs, which were as huge as the castle walls, were once again hidden beneath the thick layers of clouds. Now that I already knew its true identity, never again would I mistake it as cloud.
But that didn’t matter. Whether it was a genuine cloud or a monster, all I could do was helplessly look up in amazement. As if it had reverted into a normal cloud, it began to rise as it was. Until it quietly left behind a cloudy sky, I stood there, petrified.
Thus, the 203rd Colony supply base was obliterated, and… Reki died.
Refugees from both the 202nd Colony and 203rd Colony arrived safely at the 204th Colony before sunset.
After Gluttony Octo disappeared beyond the clouds, both the fog and the swarms of octopuses vanished. The road was pristine. However, people’s faces were painted with helpless anxiety and despair.
I was sure that I had the same complexion as them.
“I’m sorry, Ursula… I couldn’t save Reki.”
I was only able to admit to that after we arrived at the 204th Colony and finished preparing to camp overnight. Should I say that I was finally in a situation where I could calm down and talk?
Emotionally, I’d like to move on without rest. Nevertheless, ordinary people wouldn’t be able to do so. Not to mention, women and children were among those who had evacuated, instead of elite knights. As such, proper rest was essential.
In the tent that was set up like that, I had Ursula sat in front of me and Sariel next to me. Then, I delivered such a desperate report.
Now that I was out of sight, I had removed my armor. As for Ursula and Sariel, they had changed from their monk uniforms into their pajamas.
“I see, so that’s what happened…”
Ursula’s expression didn’t change much. She didn’t cry, nor curse at me.
She must have an inkling. After all, when we met up on the road, Reki was nowhere to be seen. I hated thinking about it, yet couldn’t help but do so.
Nevertheless, that didn’t necessarily mean she was fine.
Despite her usual aloof expression, Ursula’s blue eyes wavered in turmoil. Perhaps, she was still in denial. After all, Reki’s body was never found.
Actually, even I couldn’t accept that Reki met her demise in such an abrupt way. At any moment, I felt like she’d leap in front of the tent while saying, “Hey!”
“…How did it happen?”
“It was a surprise attack. By the time I noticed it, she was already lost in the fog.”
I couldn’t lie, nor make any excuses. Ursula was my comrade, so she had the right to know the truth. Although she was still a child, she wasn’t naïve enough to be deceived by a convenient lie.
“Everything’s my fault. Upon leaving the village, I let my guard down. I thought everything was going to be smooth sailing from there. As a result, I failed to intercept the surprise attack.”
Looking back, only regret came to mind.
“I had completely relied on Reki’s strength… In truth, I should’ve protected her…”
That was my biggest blunder.
Honestly, when Reki first came to my aid, I initially thought, “I’m saved.” Instead of seeing her as someone to protect, I fully depended on her strength.
Although I did ask why she came back, I had no intention of getting so angry. In fact, Ursula was saved at the last minute due to Reki’s unreasonableness.
Under that circumstance, the death of either Reki or Ursula was probably the inevitable turning point of fate.
Aah, once again, I’d be lamenting my own powerlessness.
Even though I should’ve defeated the apostles, was I still so weak that I couldn’t protect one girl?
“Ursula, why would you apologize?”
“Reki returned because of me.”
“No, I’m the one who hoped that she’ll come to your aid.”
“No! No, that isn’t…”
Ursula’s eyes swirled with anxiety. A change dawned on her complexion, like a crack in her expressionless mask.
“It’s me… it’s my fault, the one who made Reki behave so recklessly… was me…”
For a moment, I didn’t understand what Ursula was talking about. But soon, I recalled it. The two’s relationship.
No, that’s not true.
Without even giving me time to deny it, big, droplets of tears fell from Ursula’s blue eyes.
“I, I was arguing with Reki…”
“Ursula, it’s alright now. You don’t have to force yourself.”
“No, it’s fine… Please, Priest Kuroe, I want you to hear my confession—”