Black Demon King
- Into the Raging Storm
The next morning, 26th of the Ice Crystal Month, when my stomach had calmed down after lunch…
…A white fog was encroaching towards the Alsace Fortress.
“Everyone, prepare to intercept! Hurry, the swarm of octopuses will soon arrive!”
“Hey, fire! Light the fire!”
Suddenly, there was an uproar in the castle. Angry roars bellowed from here and there, and the soldiers rushed down the aisle.
A similar commotion ensued before the Galahad War commenced.
Although, the atmosphere of the battlefield must be the same everywhere.
“Get ready, Yuri, Ursula.”
“I’ll be fine…”
As if yesterdays’ goodbye never took place, Ursula seemed unfazed. This time, she’d focus on the rear guard, which was fortified by the fortress defense. Therefore, she should be able to fight more safely than during the withdrawal battle.
On the other hand, I didn’t get a chance to look at Sariel’s expression, but she was probably expressionless as usual.
Currently, the fully-armed Sariel stood behind me, the wind rapier and the pouch I gave her yesterday attached to her waist.
That was right.
This time, I’d have Sariel protect my back.
Disregarding my complicated feelings about her, she was the most dependable ally I could ever have. After all, she was a former apostle. Even without her limbs, she was monstrous enough to slay a huge armored bear.
“Alright, let’s go.”
I had already donned my jet-black armor. Wielding the Zweihander and the Flamberge, I left the room.
First, I head to the hall on the first floor. Since I had a rough grasp of the fortress’ structure, it was unlikely for me to get lost.
“Oh, you’re here, Priest.”
The vigilantes from each village, including Ryan, had already gathered in the large hall before the castle’s main gate.
Considering the size of the Gluttony Octo, it’d definitely be an all-out battle that’d exhaust all the manpower. Basically, Baron Herman’s Alsace Fortress garrison would bear the brunt, while the vigilantes were treated as reservists. Unfortunately, the battle wasn’t so easy that the reservists wouldn’t participate at all.
“Ryan, how’s the preparation?”
“Hehe, this is the vanguard base of the crusaders, so the weapons are the best of the best.”
Due to the modest number of soldiers, many weapons were left in the Alsace fortress. A single defeat at Galahad War didn’t mean that the crusaders withdrew. Whether it was to anticipate the second invasion or as a means of defense, the fortress needed to be resupplied.
Previously, I’d much prefer for them to be destroyed. As of the present, it was only thanks to the excess of supplies that I could fight without worry.
“Until a sortie request is issued, defend the castle. Don’t stray away or try to join the frontline.”
“If I didn’t do a good job at protecting this place, I wouldn’t have been knighted. Leave it to me.”
For the time being, it should be fine to leave the vigilante group to Ryan.
By the way, there was one more thing I’d like to entrust to him.
I looked up at Ryan and whispered inside my helmet.
“I’ll leave Ursula to you.”
“Don’t worry, even if I’ll have to use force, I’ll definitely keep her safe.”
Ryan also regretted Reki’s death, and didn’t want a repeat of that.
“Listen, Ursula. Like I said yesterday, stay with the vigilantes. If a sortie request were to be issued, support everyone from inside the castle. Never try to leave.”
“…Understood, Priest Kuroe.”
With a slightly dazed look, Ursula nodded.
As I thought, there was a dissatisfaction in her heart.
“You may find yourself in a situation where the enemy has invaded the castle. Even if you’re protected by the vanguard, don’t let your guard down.”
I was worried, but all I could do was to emphasize the simple warning.
At this point in time, we had no other choice but to fight and win.
“Priest Kuroe, please be careful.”
“Sister Yuri, please stay safe.”
The parting words were short.
Sariel, Ursula, and I didn’t need to say anything else.
However, when I felt a strong tug on my back, I reluctantly turned around and asked Ursula, who seemed lonely.
“Hey, Ursula, if we manage to win this battle, let’s return to the village together.”
“Eh… can we do that?”
“Yes, we’ll make a grave for Reki and mourn for her. After that, we shall think about the future.”
“Understood, Priest Kuroe!”
When Ursula finally smiled, I felt a pang of guilt in my chest.
After all, I was merely postponing our goodbye—postponing the main issue.
Regardless, even though it didn’t solve anything, she seemed pleased.
“Please open the gate.”
Feeling a sense of remorse and guilt towards myself, I went through the open gate by myself—no, the two were right behind me.
“C’mon, let’s head out, Sariel.”
Thus, together with Sariel, I’d partake in the second defense of Alsace.
The white fog approaching the Alsace Fortress was blown away by the high-level defensive wind magic that was activated simultaneously from all sides, ‘El Lampardfan’, which was also known as the ‘Great Wind Castle.’
Along with the roaring sound of the wind, a wall of wind blocked the impending fog. The barrier extended to the opposite bank of the river, which flowed beyond the castle walls. The wind barrier appeared in a gigantic cylindrical form that completely surrounded the Alsace Fortress.
As expected, with enough personnel, the area of effect was devastating.
With Sariel behind me, I stood tall on the wall directly above the main gate, watching the activation of a large-scale barrier that was akin to a small typhoon.
The preparation of that barrier, which was a countermeasure against the Gluttony Octo’s fog, was completed yesterday. It seemed to be working well, which was a relief. Normally, there’d be no point in deploying such a barrier. After all, the breeze wasn’t strong enough to deflect arrows. However, it was more than enough to blow away the drifting fog.
As of the present, the barrier that was painstakingly created by the crusader mages completely covered the clear blue sky. As a result, I didn’t have to worry about being overtaken by their descent operation.
“Wind Mage Unit, give your all to maintain the barrier! If this barrier disappears, we’ll become prey to the flying octopuses!”
“Archers, prepare to fire! They should be coming out soon!”
The crusader infantrymen had already been deployed on top of the castle walls. If everyone readied their fire arrows, the light of the flame would provide illumination to an extent.
The soldiers were lined up not only in front of me, but also on all four sides, not leaving any gaps. If the horde of enemies consisted of humans, they surely wouldn’t have made it pass this point. In fact, at my time, I only encountered some minor irregularities. Besides the Cyprus experimental unit and Mass, I never found myself surrounded by the enemy.
However, for those who flew in the sky, the shape of the terrain would be of no use. Fog had already spread everywhere, leaving only the area that was protected by the wind barrier.
All that was left was for them to rush in from any direction towards the center where we were barricading ourselves.
It’d be difficult to not be able to concentrate our forces in one direction, but I couldn’t come up with any other means due to the limited formation.
Therefore, we’d have no choice but to deploy guards on the surrounding castle wall to the North, South, East, and West while knowing that our defenses would be somewhat weak.
The walls of the Alsace Fortress were about ten meters high. Although it paled in comparison to the Great Wall of Galahad, it was a decent fortress. Not only that, it was tall enough to minimize the octopuses’ flight ability to an extent.
A number of round silhouettes emerged on the opposite shore, where the mist was faint. With their creepy, undulating tentacles, they crept silently out of the white darkness as if crawling.
As if to oppose the infantrymen on the castle walls, they spread along the river bank. From a distance, they seemed like wriggling green moss.
“Hey, are you serious…?”
“There’s a lot of them.”
The fortress garrison, who beheld the demon fish for the first time, let out such remarks.
Turning a deaf ear on their pleas, the repulsive monsters floated on the river and began to swim swiftly. As expected of an octopus, it was a good swimmer. No matter how deep a river or a moat was, it couldn’t stop them.
One after another, countless numbers of octopuses emerged from the fog. Then, they fearlessly crossed the river in a straight line. Perhaps, they were making it obvious to us that we were the prey.
The octopuses were increasing at an alarming rate. When half of the river was filled with their green heads, the crusaders finally ran out of patience.
Overwhelmed by the green terror, the crusaders opened the war.
Countless flaming arrows were released, leaving scarlet tails behind, before cascading down the defenseless octopuses’ heads.
Immediately after that, a high-pitched, dissonant chorus of “Gyiieee—!!” Resounded all at once from the body of water. Weak to fire, the octopuses cried out in pain. A few soldiers seemed to be relieved that it was effective. The eerie cries that sent shivers down my spine actually fueled their fear and loathing towards the creatures.
“Don’t let them get close to you! There’re plenty of arrows! Keep shooting!”
“Flame Mage Unit, draw them closer before shooting! Our magic power isn’t infinite, so avoid wasting shots as much as possible!”
However, the octopuses weren’t so weak that they’d die with just one shot of a flaming arrow. If they weren’t shot multiple times, the fire wasn’t likely to engulf them, and if the arrow missed, it’d just be extinguished in the river.
While shrieking in agony and writhing around, the octopuses quickly landed on our shore and crawled towards the ramparts.
When they began attempting to scale the wall with their tentacles, it was time to fire.
The flames, fired all at once, licked the wall and ruthlessly sent the clinging octopuses to purgatory.
After the tongue of fire dissipated, the octopuses were transformed into fire balls as they fell down, sweeping away the enemies within range.
Alright, it seemed that we’d be able to hold our ground against them. Afterward, it’d depend on how much magical power the magician unit had.
“Hey, look! The big one’s here!”
A sharp-eyed archer quickly spotted its existence beyond the fog.
I clicked my tongue.
Amidst the cry of the crusaders, 10-meter class giant octopuses resembling huge trees with long tentacles, showed up one after another from the opposite bank, walking like aliens.
One, two, three…
A total of eight large octopuses advanced as if to show off their enormous size. Presumably, a similar number appeared from the other tree directions.
After all, when the 203rd Colony was invaded, the enemy also deployed an absurd number of troops.
“The big ones are dangerous! We have to get rid of them quickly!”
At the military council yesterday, we had already established the fact that the 10m-class ones would release a powerful Acid Breath. Naturally, the magician unit had been prepared to intercept that as well.
In addition, the ballista mounted on the castle wall was also ready to be fired. Therefore, the magician unit, which was the cornerstone of the attack, wouldn’t be focusing solely on defense. With a metallic sound, the ballista rotated, locking on a large octopus that was leisurely crossing the river. A thick, long arrows that looked like logs were loaded into it.
However, it’d be difficult to take them down with only the ballista. Or rather, it’d be impossible.
Such, the role of taking on the giant octopuses fell on me. I didn’t have to worry about running out of ammo today. I’d riddle them full of holes.
“—Sword Arts, Blade Storm!”
“—The octopuses are withdrawing.”
While the back-and-forth offense and defense would last, the enemy’s onslaught ceased. Like zombies, they keep rushing into the firing range. As a result, many of them perished, while the reset fled so fast, they could be seen on the opposite bank.
“Look! They’re fleeing!”
“We did it! The victory is ours!”
The crusaders were thrilled by the apparent withdrawal.
Up to that point, the castle walls had somehow managed to prevent the invasion, but the war situation was unpredictable. I expected for the battle to last about two hours.
Although there were few casualties yet, the soldiers and magicians were visibly fatigued after relentlessly maintaining the attack.
The remaining octopuses, which clung to the castle wall, were knocked down with spears and large torches.
I should say that they did well in the face of seemingly infinite numbers of enemies.
However, it was too early to be relieved.
We hadn’t won yet.
When I fought at the 203rd Colony, the enemy also disappeared suddenly. Then, right after that, Reki got stabbed.
Then, when I tried to get into the village in search of the kidnapped Reki, that appeared.
“W, what the hell is that!?”
“This is a lie… It’s like a flying mountain…”
Apparently, it wasn’t a coincidence.
It’d once again pull back all of its minions, before showing its gigantic body.
A dark shadow floated amidst the fog. Like a looming dark cloud, it spread quickly, before revealing its enormous mountain-like body.
At last, it became clear to everyone that the gigantic Gluttony Octo beyond the thin mist rivaled the castle of the Alsace Fortress.
“Like I said, the size of this monster is abnormal.”
“I’ve never seen a monster that huge before.”
Understandable, considering that unlike in the demon realm, such gigantic monsters didn’t usually appear in Sinclair.
It’d be the first time for Sariel and I to fight them.
By the way, I was standing slightly sideways so that I could catch a glimpse of Sariel, who stood behind me. The reason wasn’t because I was worried about her, but because I had to keep an eye on my enemy.
“Here it comes.”
Preventing the small octopuses from climbing the castle walls was nothing more than a preliminary skirmish. From the beginning, my goal was to defeat that trial monster.
Of course, clearing the trials wasn’t my number one priority. If I could somehow retreat, then that was good. But it wasn’t like that monster would simply leave its prey and retreat.
In other words, we couldn’t survive unless we defeated it.
“Then, shall we begin?”
The strategy to defeat Gluttony Octo—
—Well, it actually isn’t a strategy…
But I’d already explained the gist of it to Sariel.
“We have to study its behavior—wha!?”
In an instant, a tremendous gust of wind swept through, and I instinctively braced myself.
The wind pressure was so great that it seemed as if the helmet, armor, and belt of Sariel would be blown off at any moment.
When I took a quick glance at the situation, I saw that Sariel was holding the deep hood that was hiding her face. Well, even if she managed to keep her hood, she seemed about to take off herself.
After forcibly pushing the sword into the Shadow Gate, which was already full in capacity, I held on to Sariel so that she didn’t fly away.
“Damn, and this is just his breath…”
The cause of the gust of wind was, of course, the floating Gluttony Octo. At the bottom of its gigantic body, a huge mouth akin to the entrance of hell opened, and wind flowed into it.
It was actually just a breath attack.
I didn’t notice it right away because the scale of the phenomenon was too wide. Who would’ve thought that a single breath attack could create such a gust of wind? Even when a dragon fired its breath, the wind wasn’t as strong as this.
The fact that the Gluttony Octo was taking in a massive amount of air was apparent from the movement of the fog that filled the surroundings.
Can it afford to fly without the buoyancy of the magical fog?
Paying no heed to the rapidly dissipating fog, the gigantic monster raised a roar and began inhaling everything into its mouth.
“Uaaaaah—! Take cover—!”
“Get down! You’ll be blown away!”
“Hey, don’t let go of my hand! Don’t let go, never let go—!”
A terrifyingly long breath. The stormy wind threw the soldiers along the wall into chaos. There was only so much I could do to prevent everyone from being blown away. Not only that, I couldn’t even launch an attack against the Gluttony Octo.
In this situation, I doubted that I’d be able to save even myself.
Suddenly, the wind ceased, and we were released from the wind pressure.
Looking up again, I could see the figure of the Gluttony Octo soaring in the blue sky after sucking all the fog that had wrapped around itself like thin silk. Before, it looked like a floating cloud, but without the mist, a sense of incongruity pervaded me. After all, what seemed to be green mountains were flying in the sky.
However, the one who floated in front of the Alsace Enemy was certainly an enemy.
An enemy that was about to unleash yet another breath attack.
Once again, the entrance to Hell would open.
“This is bad—Shield Diaz!”
Sariel and I put up defensive magic in unison.
Along with the majestic jet-black construct that rose above the castle walls, I could feel a surge of gentle breeze enveloping my entire body—
—Immediately after, a blanket of white blocked my vision.
“Kuh, this is… fog—!?”
When I thought that the gigantic octopus was about to spew acid breath, no poisonous purple mist engulfed the surroundings.
The white fog itself was harmless. From what I had seen and felt, it wasn’t anything special.
Then, after I was relieved that it wasn’t poisonous, I soon realized—
“—The fog won’t clear up… What happened to the barrier!?”
“It’s not broken, but the force of the breath has pushed the fog in, it looks like.”
Such a remarkably calm comment from Sariel.
Don’t say it like it’s someone else’s problem…
“Damn, I’ve been had! With one breath, the situation is completely reversed!”
The wind barrier only repelled the fog that drifted in from the outside, and was unable to discharge the one that had accumulated inside. Once the fog had entered, there was no way to deal with it unless we made changes to the spell and shifted the air current itself.
In order to completely drain the enormous amount of fog that had covered the entire Alsace Fortress, it’d be necessary to prepare a large-scale operation to create yet another magic circle. In other words, it was impossible to clear the fog right now.
Just as I was thinking, I took out my sword once again.
A sound like a rag being slammed against the ground resounded at my feet.
A green octopus was wriggling on the castle wall, letting out such a cry.
“Hurry up, Sariel. This place won’t last long.”
Burning off the octopus with the Flamberge on my left hand, I rushed towards the stable.
We suddenly found ourselves at a disadvantage.
Now that the fog had made it possible to invade the fortress in a single leap, the place would shift to hellish close combat just like in 203rd Colony.
However, with the appearance of the boss itself, the Gluttony Octo, we were able to make a move that’d decide the match.
My strategy for subjugating the Gluttony Octo was actually quite simple.
I’d get on the guy’s back and begin an onslaught.
To do so, I’d mount Sariel’s Pegasus, before free falling on the way back. I had equipped myself with the Overgear, allowing me to reduce the impact of falling to zero.
An impeccable and perfect strategy. The problem was that every step of the way was quite challenging. However, there was no other way to do it. Besides, I had made a show of bravado in front of Baron Herman.
Thus, it was time to make up my mind and head for an air trip with Sariel.