Black Demon King
- Preparing for the Storm
Fortunately, on the next day—the 2th of the Ice Crystal Month—the Gluttony Octo didn’t attack.
Is it taking a break after devouring five villages?
Either way, I took the opportunity to prepare myself for the incoming Fifth Trial.
“As I thought, a sword will do the job.”
After being guided to the armory of the fortress, I procured two greatswords.
The first one was a sturdy, long, two-handed sword called a Zweihander. While it didn’t have any magical property, the sturdy, double-edged sword could cut through dozens of enemies. Given the size of the Gluttony Octo swarm, it was almost certain that I’d be involved in endless close combat. For that, I needed a durable weapon.
The other was a sword called Flamberge, which was characterized by its wavy blade. The unique wave-like blade could carve flesh and inflict unsustainable injury. The vague red gleam of the blade showed that magic dwelled within it.
As could be seen from the red blade, it was imbued with fire attributes. It was said that once wielded, the blade could spew fire, setting the enemy ablaze. However, it couldn’t shoot fireballs. Most likely, the fire attribute was merely an additional enchantment.
Nevertheless, it’d prove to be effective against the Gluttony Octo, whose weakness was fire. Besides, I could shoot ‘Grenade Burst’ on my own.
I’d wield Zweihander on my right hand, and the Flamberge on my left. They’d be my main weapons.
“I’m sorry, but I’ll be taking some other swords as well.”
With the base commander, Baron Herman, as my backing, I dug through the armory without hesitation. I could feel the dubious gaze of the escort knight on my back. Inwardly, he was probably asking, ‘What the hell’s with this guy…’ But I didn’t care. After all, they were crusader weapons. I’d make the most of this opportunity.
“Of course, all the other swords would be for the ‘Sword Arts.’”
The blackened swords would be used to cover my back. Then, as an emergency replacement, I took about ten Zweihanders.
Then, I started looking for an ordinary longsword as the ammunition for ‘Blast Blade’. For now, let’s get around 200 of them, since they were single use.
By the way, before arriving here, I had already resupplied my Shadow Gate. As for where to store the additional 200, I’d use another dimension magic.
In other words, I had gotten my hands on the long-awaited spatial dimension magic bags.
I had worn a waist bag and hung some pouches around my hips. All three had been enchanted with storage magic. Therefore, the three bags probably cost more than the borrowed sword. While they didn’t look like anything out of the ordinary, they boasted a decent amount of storage. Even with 200 swords scattered about, there was still some space left. After I had filled the remaining space with various potions, the general preparations for the battle would be completed.
And so, after carefully picking weapons, items, and preparing the equipment, I returned to the room that’d been especially prepared for me. At the same time, the bell rung, signaling that it was noon.
“I’ve returned, Yuri, Ursula.”
Both of them greeted me in unison.
The room, which was reserved for the officers, wasn’t spacious enough to be considered as luxurious. Nevertheless, a single room was already a special treatment.
Originally, I was supposed to sleep in a large room on the first floor, or in the basement along with the villagers. However, Baron Herman took care of it and prepared this room for me. While I felt slightly guilty, I didn’t plan on staying too long, anyway. Moreover, I was grateful for the privacy, since I had to talk with Sariel.
As it faced the inside of the fortress, the room had no windows. It felt a little like a cramped basement. At the same time, it wasn’t very dim, as it was lit by a rather expensive lamp that could magically adjust the light intensity.
In the bright room, Sariel and Ursula were sitting on the bed, seemingly relaxing together.
Seeing no point in hiding my face any longer, I took off my helmet.
“Priest Kuroe, let me help.”
Ursula leaped down from the bed to receive the heavy helmet.
As a matter of course, armor couldn’t be easily taken off like clothes. It wasn’t uncommon for heavy, full-body, armor like this to take a lot of time and effort to remove, akin to a dress worn by a princess.
“I’ve got the equipment. I have enough for two, so check it out.”
“Of course, Brother.”
“Thank you, Priest Kuroe.”
After swiftly removing my clothes, I sat down on a wooden chair with a simple desk similar to the one in the church and faced the two of them.
“I’ll start with Yuri.”
I took one of the magic dimension pouches. There were various potions and other basic adventurer kit inside. Of course, those weren’t enough.
“Some spare swords and Ignited Daggers are packed inside. Although, since you have a wind rapier, it may be useless. Still, use them when the need arises.”
I had already heard about Sariel’s fighting style from Ryan.
The emerald-crusted, holy silver, mithril rapier that I obtained from the mushroom-headed Mashram had better performance than expected. Because even Sariel, whose magic was depleted, could use offensive magic in rapid succession. Apparently, it was because the sword incorporated a formula that allowed her to cast wind magic. Previously, I thought that it was only about weight reduction.
“If there’s anything else you need, let me know. Right now, we still have time to look for it.”
“No, this will suffice.”
Sariel answered expressionlessly as usual.
Is she truly satisfied, or inwardly, did she think that, ‘Wow, brother, this lineup sucks’?
As I thought, I couldn’t discern her expression, so I decided to take her words literally.
“Then, this is for Ursula.”
I handed her the other enchanted pouch. At first glance, it looked like an ordinary pouch made of common leather, but even Ursula knew that it was an expensive magic item.
Perhaps because of that, she carefully received it with both hands, as if being handed a diploma.
“Since Ursula doesn’t need a weapon, I stashed a lot of magic recovery potions in it. You should drink it before you feel exhausted.”
Ursula gulped, before nodding with a serious expression.
After all, back when she fought at the 203rd Colony, she was in a pinch because she had no way of restoring her magic. When it came to the small fry, Anastasia’s magic didn’t require as much magic, even more so when combined with ‘Drain.’ Nevertheless, when fighting against a 10-meter class monster, a tremendous amount of magic was required. Even if she could use ‘Drain’, no magical power was infinite.
Therefore, I thought about it the other way around. As long as Ursula had enough power, she could maintain Anastasia as long as possible. If she stuck to the rear guard, she should be fine.
“There’s also gold in the pouch.”
“…Money? But why?”
“After this battle is over, it’s the only thing I can leave for you.”
All the bounty money I received from Baron Herma was inside Ursula’s pouch.
Judging from the threat level of the monsters we faced this time, even the Adventurer’s Guild would reward us generously. If she were to lead an ordinary life, it probably wouldn’t last for her entire life, but half.
“In truth, I wanted you to live peacefully with Reki in that village. But now that it has come to this, I don’t know what will happen to you.”
If the subjugation of the Gluttony Octo was successful, the crusaders would rebuild the village. Since Alsace and Spada would be bordering countries, human settlements would need to be established before we could move on.
However, when it came to starting from zero, I wondered if Ursula—a helpless child with no relatives, could live peacefully. I myself doubt that I could afford to take care of her anymore. Moreover, if things went wrong, the villagers of the 202nd Colony would probably be scattered to other places.
Thus, the village that was supposed to be Ursula’s hometown may truly vanish.
“Which is why—”
“—I don’t need it.”
Ursula shoved the pouch to me.
“I don’t want this.”
Her little hands trembled as they held the pouch.
“I don’t need any money! As long as I’m with Priest Kuroe, I don’t need anything else!”
With thin streams of tears flowing down her blue eyes, Ursula spoke.
“…No, Ursula, you can’t do that.”
I’ll hold your hand and stay with you forever.
—I’ll protect you.
I really wanted to say that.
But it was impossible.
“But why? If it’s for Priest Kuroe, I’m willing to sacrifice myself—”
“—Don’t Ursula, you mustn’t say that.”
The reason why my voice rose in anger was because I was terribly afraid of losing someone.
Considering that when the battle was over, neither Sariel nor I would be around, I understood why Ursula was desperate. Therefore, it may be unavoidable for her to say, ‘I don’t care if I die.’ Or something along those lines.
…However, it was only temporary.
“I want Ursula to live a peaceful life, free from war, for the remainder of her life. I sincerely hope so.”
I said the same thing to Reki on the night of the Valentinus Festival.
As if I could get her best friend involved in my battle.
After losing Reki, the thought had only gotten stronger.
“If you’re with me, I’m sure that you’ll get caught up in a tough battle just like now. No, we’re definitely going to come across a much stronger enemy than even Gluttony Octo.”
“…Are you going to wage a war with the crusaders again?”
“Yes, I will.”
Ursula already knew that I was a demon that was hostile to the crusaders. As such, it shouldn’t be difficult for her to imagine that war would break out again.
“I can fight, too.”
“I’m going to slaughter a lot of people.”
“For Priest Kuroe’s sake, I’ll kill as many Sinclair as I can.”
It was the truth.
As it was, Ursula was already as powerful as a high-ranking wizard, and could easily wipe out an infantry. While she was still inferior to Lily and Fiona, that didn’t mean she wasn’t formidable on her own.
If she kept fighting, she’d probably be able to match their abilities in the not-too-distant future. She might even become one of my trusted companions.
“I’m not afraid of battle. I’m not afraid of killing. I’m willing to risk my life, kill someone, and keep engaging in battle. If what it takes to stay by Priest Kuroe’s side is to fight, then I’m willing to do it.”
Despite brimming with tears, there was an unprecedented brilliance in Ursula’s eyes. Even as a child, her determination was obvious.
I understood that it’d be impossible to persuade her otherwise.
In the first place, it wasn’t like people’s feelings could be changed through simple words. Even if the other party understood my reasoning, it wouldn’t necessarily make them accept it.
I didn’t want Ursula to die.
I wanted her to live a peaceful life.
But if she didn’t want that, then that ‘wish’ would be a mere selfishness and one-sided preposition on my part.
“…I’m sorry, but even so, I can’t take you with me. This is the only time where you’ll be fighting for your life.”
“It’s alright, Ursula. I’m sorry, I should’ve just focused on the battle at hand, but I ended up talking too much. After the battle is over, let’s talk once more. We need to focus on surviving before pondering about the future.”
“…Understood, Priest Kuroe.”
I felt bad for deceiving her.
However, I was afraid that if I were to incite Ursula any further, she might end up doing something unreasonable like Reki.
Although people’s feelings were important, their lives were even more so.
Gluttony Octo wasn’t a weak enemy that I could defeat with ease.
“It should be time for lunch. Shall we head for the cafeteria?”
Even though it was painful, I forcibly shifted the topic.
The menu was a little more luxurious than usual.
However, I couldn’t taste much of my meal, which I ate in a somewhat awkward atmosphere.
“—Go ahead, Kuroe, please take a seat over there.”
After finishing the awkward lunch with Ursula, Cliff summoned me to the command room.
The purpose, of course, was to participate in the military council. True to his promise, Baron Herman had prepared a seat and even waited for my arrival. Despite the fact that I was wearing a helmet, no one raised a complaint. Had the baron done his groundwork.
“It looks like everyone’s here. Now, let’s start the war council. First, let’s hear the report from the reconnaissance unit—”
Baron Herman only spared me a glance before proceeding with the meeting as the chairman, seemingly unfazed by it all.
“—The white fog is currently covering the 205th Colony. It’s unlikely that the fog will be lifted any time soon. We’ve confirmed the signs of countless monsters inside the fog, and have since decided that it’s dangerous to provoke them. As such, we continue to keep an eye on them for monitoring purposes.”
“That’d suffice. Good job.”
Gluttony Octo seemed to be steadily closing in. Considering that it had reached a village one block away, no doubt that they’d arrive tomorrow. In the worst-case scenario, they might even attack us in the middle of the night.
However, it seemed that he understood that even if I didn’t say anything. Without further ado, the proposal to tighten nighttime security was immediately put forward and adopted.
I decided to stay awake tonight.
“Then, about the defense plan—”
—While the discussion was lively, there was no major divisions of opinion, so it ensued peacefully. The content of the talk was just for confirmation, and all the officers had already settled on the same opinion.
After all, everyone gathered there was under Baron Herman, and was eager to return to history, preventing any needless disputes to take place.
—To safely put an end to the fight and return alive.
I completely agreed with them on that one.
“First, dispatch the Wind Mages to deploy a wind barrier that envelops the entire Alsace Fortress.”
The one who spoke without any hesitation was a man in a green uniform. Most likely, he was the leader of the magician corps. He was around the same age as Herman, but skinny.
The wind barrier was of the utmost priority if we wanted to stay safe.
When it came to defending against them, it was important to intercept their flight abilities. Without that, the incident at 203rd Colony, in which they landed the first attack and caused a confusion, would surely repeat again. Not only did the fog decrease the visibility, the enemy descended one by one from above. As such, the situation got out of hand.
The fog didn’t only obstruct our vision, but also supported the Gluttony Octo’s flight, since they could only do so in the fog.
Since the fog could easily be extinguished by Ursula’s Drain, it was safe to assume that the fog was magical in nature, and was generated by Gluttony Octo’s excess magic. Had it been a natural fog, it wouldn’t be affected by her Drain ability.
The magical fog probably boosted buoyancy with its wind attribute. Because of that, the octopuses that lacked the shape to fly could soar into the sky.
I also didn’t fail to notice that while they glided smoothly amidst the fog, they always crawled along the ground where there was no fog. The one that suddenly fell in front of me had no choice but to fly up to the misty sky and then free fall from the fogless part.
“Can we do that?”
“Currently, we’re proceeding with the engraving of magic circles in various parts of the fortress. Once this is completed, the barrier that covers the whole fortress can be activated with just our own personnel.”
If they had told me that it was impossible, I’d have no choice but to rely on Ursula despite knowing the danger.
“However, once the barrier is activated, all the Wind Mages would have to concentrate on channeling their magic, rendering them useless in battle.”
“There’s no way around it. The Wind Mages will try to maintain the barrier, and leave the offenses to other units. Not only that, we’ll also need some form of defense for the casters… Then, let’s assign a platoon of knights to each.”
The barrier was the cornerstone of defense. Therefore, if the mages were in danger, the troops would defend them to death. I also had to keep their placement in mind.
“The key to the offense is the Fire Mages. Whether to let other mages attack or assign them to defense will be decided after the actual battle.”
“Hmm. Then, Kuroe, since you’re experienced in combat, may I ask for your opinion?”
Eeh, you’re going to put me on spot here?
Cliff was next to me the entire time, but he wasn’t asked.
By the way, Cliff was highly praised for his performance during the previous battle, and was promoted to the rank of captain of the heavy knight unit. He had just barely joined the ranks of the officers who were eligible to participate in the war council.
“Among the enemies, there’s a huge one with a length of about 10 meters. The acid breath it spews out is extremely powerful. I want the magician unit to intercept the breath attack. The magicians who have no means to prevent it’ll focus on the offense.”
“I see, then the gigantic ones should be defeated first.”
“There’ll be a cannon ballista on the ramparts. Let’s use it to take down the huge enemy.”
After all, it’d be useless to use the cannon ballista that fired large arrows at the small fry. It’d be great if we could defeat the giant octopuses and lessen the burden on the magicians with that.
“…Also, the small ones will swarm the castle walls, trying to scale it. Therefore, I want the Fire Mages to keep them at bay with ‘Ignis Blast’.”
The Fire Mages would be a crucial part in eliminating a swarm of octopuses.
It wouldn’t do for them to cast fireballs sporadically. Instead, they should sustain the attack and shower as much enemy as they could with fire.
Then, it’d be best to line up the units on top of the castle walls, and make them use ‘Ignis Blast’ on roughly equal intervals.
In short, I’d like them to prevent the small ones from approaching with a crossfire of flame.
“Understood, I’ll use it as a reference.”
In response to my opinion, the leader of the magician unit said so without changing his expression. Well, I couldn’t read his mind, but if he saw the horde with his own eyes, he’d surely come to a similar conclusion to mine.
“Then, the next is the operation of the infantry units—”
There was a limit to what soldiers who were incapable of magic could do.
To either shoot an arrow or swing a spear. Additionally, they could also hold long-handled torches as an additional form of support.
The infantry would be the last to stop the octopus from entering the ramparts. After all, offensive spells couldn’t be fired at close range.
“We’ve switched the arrows to burning arrows as much as we can, and prepared the torches. Not only that, we also plan to collect flammable things. That way, we can drop them from the castle wall as a means of attack.”
Perhaps thinking that they were going to return to their territory anyway, they were going all-out. Well, as long as they were determined to give their all in this battle, I had no complaints.
“—Well, that’s the gist of it, but does anyone else have an opinion?”
Has it been two hours since the war council has started?
The report and the stratagem were almost complete.
A moment of silence.
No one raised their hand.
However, the war council wouldn’t conclude with just that.
“Then, we shall move on to the last question. Is there any countermeasure against the gigantic, mountain-like Gluttony Octo that Kuroe saw?”
All we had been discussing so far was how to intercept the hordes of enemies that were surging in.
The true Gluttony Octo. The monster of trials. The one that I couldn’t think of a single way on how to defeat.
“…Unfortunately, Your Excellency.”
The one who raised his hand was the leader of green-robed magicians.
“As long as those giant monsters are flying in the sky, the infantry will be powerless. No matter how many fire arrows they shoot, it’ll be to no avail. In the worst case, the enemy may be at such a high altitude that even arrows can’t reach them.”
“I see, then our only solution is to rely on magic.”
“Indeed. However, with our magical units, we can only do so much against such a gigantic enemy, especially since we got our hands full with the hordes of enemies.”
It went without saying that the magicians were much fewer in number than infantry. Depending on the army, the ratio would vary slightly, but most of them were less than half of the infantry, about 30%.
Most of the army units stationed in the Alsace Fortress had already been withdrawn, so there weren’t many left. Moreover, the strength of Baron Herman’s forces also needed to be considered.
It was difficult to say that the magician unit was well-equipped.
“Also, even if our units were to use all of their strength, I doubt that we can muster enough magic to bring down an enemy that’s as huge as a mountain. It’s a whole different story if the enemy is only huge. All I can say is that we can’t expect an easy victory.”
I was keenly aware of the obvious lack of firepower.
If either Lily or Fiona was present, there’d be many tactics that could be used. Unfortunately, no such magicians existed under Baron Herman’s command.
Or rather, if he had that much personal strength, he wouldn’t be asking me for help. In addition to the size of his troop, if there was even one person who was as powerful as Lily or Fiona, it wouldn’t be difficult for him to defeat me.
“Then, what are we supposed to do?”
“Judging from the current strength, we have no other choice but to hold our ground.”
Gluttony Octo could generate a powerful wind vortex akin to a typhoon, swallowing all the houses in the village.
But as long as we could withstand the tremendous vortex, we should be fine…
“Will this fort hold up?”
“While it’s indeed hastily built, the construction itself is solid, since it’s an Alsace fortress. I think it has a good chance of withstanding the attack.”
“But if the gigantic monster were to descend down, what’d happen? Even if a mountain comes down, will this fortress be able to withstand it without collapsing?”
Both the unit leader and the other officers went silent.
No matter how much I worried and contemplated it, there was no way I could come up with a way to defeat such an insurmountable enemy.
“—I’ll defeat it.”
Amidst the silence, my voice echoed loudly.
A small commotion arose, but no one dared to raise a question to my face. After a brief pause, Baron Herman, the chairman, asked in an inquiring manner.
“Kuroe, is there a way to defeat it?”
Honestly, I wasn’t confident.
However, I knew that we wouldn’t survive unless we defeated it. After all, not limited to just besieging the fortress, it’d surely devour it as whole.
“I can, but I’ll need your cooperation for it.”
“Since we have no other plan, we’re willing to cooperate with anything.”
Anything, they said.
Then, I had no reason to refuse.
“The Pegasus that the Seventh Apostle—Sariel, rode is still in this fortress. I want you to lend me this.”