Black Demon King

  1. The Pegasus Two-Riders

“Evacuate—! Evacuate—! Hurry back to the castle—!!”

After suffering the impact of Gluttony Octo’s breath, the Alsace Fortress became noisy.

There was an order of evacuation to the castle. An angry roar to confront the encroaching monsters, and a lot of screaming.

It was as if I had returned to the 203rd Colony.

Due to the fog, the octopuses who could fully demonstrate their flight ability descended upon us, ruthlessly attacking thousands of soldiers. In such a quagmire of turmoil, there was no way humans could stand up against monsters.

Fortunately, a large castle stood by, literally serving as the last refuge.

“The evacuation went smoother than I thought.”

“We’ve prepared ourselves in advance.”

“Are you ready to retreat?”

Of course, we’d already prepared for when the wind barrier was broken, causing the fog to enter. In case of that, we’d abandon our post and retreat to the castle. Afterwards, we’d close the door tightly, shutting ourselves in the castle.

We had no other choice, considering the situation we were in.

“The fact that we’ve been exterminating the swarm of octopuses until now means that the Gluttony Octo still hasn’t made its move.”

After all, when the Gluttony Octo was about to swallow everything, the whole flock would withdraw. Otherwise, they’d be sucked in along with everything else. It was only a natural response on their part.

Therefore, it’d be safe to assume that as long as they were still swarming the castle, we were safe. Even if the castle gate was breached, we could still fight them inside. Not like the gate would be easily destroyed, though.

“We have plenty of time to take him down.”

“That’s right.”

“However, it’s another story if the Pegasus is eaten. Let’s head straight for the stable.”

Away from the stream of soldiers who were withdrawing to the river, I started running with Sariel on my back.

Although my surroundings were enveloped in fog, I had memorized the general structure of the fortress yesterday. To begin with, it wasn’t complicated, making it unlikely for me to get lost along the way.

“—Air Slash!”

Suddenly, I felt the presence of an enemy behind me. However, I didn’t have time to look at the approaching octopus, for Sariel had unleashed a martial art skill. Only the sound of flesh tearing due to the blades of wind reached my ears.

She acted ridiculously fast from discovery to interception, probably even more so than my Sword Arts.

Air Overblast!”

This time, the enemy seemed to have been mowed down with a ranged attack.

This way, I could truly concentrate on what was in front of me.

I couldn’t help but see Sariel as an automatic interception system, one that was superbly convenient…

While feeling a sense of trust in Sariel, I rushed through the fog while tearing apart the hindering octopuses. I could feel them wriggling all over the places, while the same couldn’t be said about the soldiers. Therefore, the evacuation must’ve been completed.

Then, instead of a human, the high-pitched squeal of a horse could be heard.

Tch, they’re already attacking the stables.”

“I can still sense Pegasus—she’s still alive.”

“Can you tell?”

“Yes, because she’s special.”

Since it was the apostle’s favorite horse, it was definitely a high-quality one.

How much will it cost if I sell it? It’s probably more expensive than my Nightmare Mary…

While thinking about such silly things, I snuck as close as I could get to the wooden stables, before firing dozens of Bullet Arts at the octopuses who flocked to devour fresh horse meat.

As I lessened their number appropriately, I stepped into the corner where the stables were lined up.

As the fortress was inherently built to house an army of 10.000, the stables naturally had the size that matched it.

However, it’d be impossible to fit all the horses of the crusaders in one stable. Before attacking Galahad, they extended their positions outside the fort and kept their horses tethered. Basically, it was a small ranch.

Grenade Burst!”

Air Slash!”

After eliminating the octopuses that lurked in front of the wooden front door, I leaped at the intended stable—the building no. 1.

Originally, the soldiers in charge were supposed to lead Sariel’s Pegasus here. But under the current circumstances, they were either already evacuated or eaten. Thus, we tried to get it ourselves.

“Do you know where she is?”

“At the end of the other side.”

I obediently followed Sariel’s instructions. Despite being one building, the place was huge. Nevertheless, we didn’t have the luxury of peering into each fence to find Pegasus.

“Hey, is it this one?”

After running through the aisle amidst the gazes of dozens of horses, I spotted a Pegasus with a beautiful, shining white coat.

Even I, who was an amateur, could tell at a glance that it was a fine horse. It possessed a beautiful yet taut body. Even if it was pushed into such a stable, its pure, unblemished wings made it stand out from the others. Upon looking at its toned white body, I could vividly imagine how it’d soar towards the sky while flapping its wings.

Since the octopuses hadn’t yet invaded that area, the Pegasus stood calmly.

“Yes, this is it.”

Even though it was supposed to be a reunion with her beloved horse, Sariel coldly and expressionlessly reaffirmed.

“It has already been equipped with the reins and a saddle, so let’s ride right away—”

—As I approached the horse, the Pegasus’ blue eyes fiercely glared at me.

“Buhihin—!”

With a snort, the horse lifted its upper body, extending its front legs as if trying to maim me down. Its stiff hooves hit the fence, letting out a terrific bang.

“Did this guy just try to kick me?”

“…It’s reacting to your black magic.”

“Does it hate me?”

“It does.”

Wow, is that so?

Or rather, in the first place, it was said that only women could ride Pegasus. However, not only was I a man, we also weren’t compatible in terms of magic.

“Will this be alright?”

“There won’t be a problem. I’ll simply force it to obey.”

…Sariel seemed to not possess the slightest mercy for that horse.

While I wished that she could treat her beloved horse with more care, I couldn’t do anything without the help of this Pegasus.

“Please.”

Then, I put Sariel down. Because she had no legs, it seemed as if she was sitting directly on the floor.

I had intended to put her on the saddle, but since I couldn’t get close to the raging Pegasus, it couldn’t be helped.

“Please open the fence.”

Believing her, I opened the fence as I was told. If the Pegasus were to dash forward, Sariel would get run over—

—but I soon realized that it was a baseless worry.

Slowly taking a step forward, the horse lowered its neck to bring its face closer to Sariel.

Oh, does it truly know who its master is?

Sariel caressed the approaching face of the Pegasus with one hand.

“…Ride.”

As soon as Sariel put her hand around the base of its ear, the Pegasus raised its head vigorously, causing her to be blown away. But in the next moment, Sariel spun splendidly and landed precisely on the saddle.

“Come here.”

While grasping the reins with her left hand, Sariel decided to perform acrobatic horseback riding, before nonchalantly calling me.

“Is this really okay?”

“It is.”

But the Pegasus’ eyes clearly stated otherwise?

The glint in its eyes wasn’t that of a herbivore, but a carnivore…

“It’ll be fine.”

“G-got it.”

After Sariel had emphasized it to me, I approached the Pegasus. When I reached out to touch its back, it trembled without any resistance.

Apparently, it’d be fine.

Thus, I straddled the horse’s back and held Sariel in front of me. The horseback riding was concluded safely. Not only that, the saddle was very comfortable. Despite being a simple white saddle, it was probably made with the highest quality material suitable for an apostle.

“Alright, let’s get this thing out.”

“Okay.”

Even without Sariel’s whip, the Pegasus began to run vigorously, as if it could do telepathy.

Along with the light sound of its hooves hitting the ground, I could feel that the horse was accelerating rapidly.

“Hey, there’s an octopus, intercept—”

“Cut through.”

The Pegasus dashed out without hesitation, paying no heed to the octopus that crawled through the open door.

It happened in an instant.

Undaunted by the outstretched tentacles, the Pegasus stomped the octopus’ head, before charging down the aisle.

“Fly.”

Having gained enough acceleration from just the passageway of the stables, the Pegasus flew into the sky as soon as it passed through the door.

“—Whoa!”

I involuntarily let out a scream.

Thanks to Lily, I had experienced how it felt to fly, but I had never flown on a Pegasus. To fly on my own and to fly on something were two different things.

I felt a strange floating sensation.

Instead of merely sitting on a flying horse, I had a sense of balance as if I was moving in an enclosed space.

If I wasn’t mistaken, there was a theory that said the Pegasus applied its flying magic to its riders. Apparently, it wasn’t just any kind of magic, but one that stemmed from the Pegasus’ will. Hence why, a Pegasus Knight was able to cast flight magic on himself as a basic requirement.

I see, in this case, it’ll be fine to just hold onto a single rein.

This way, I’d be able to swing a spear in mid-air, or cast offensive spells without having to worry about the reins.

On the other hand, if it was someone that the Pegasus disliked, wouldn’t he just fell off?

Then, I was entirely at Pegasus’ mercy. Depending on its mood, I might find myself falling headlong towards the ground…

…Once that happens, I’d probably just hang on to one of the tentacles.

“The fog sure is thick. Do you know the direction?”

“If it’s that huge, you can’t lose sight of it.”

“I see, then go straight ahead. Leave the other guys to me—Sword Arts!”

I had no time to be amazed with my first experience of flying with a Pegasus.

Ten red-hot, blackened swords emerged from the Shadow Gate. Even if I were to spread them out, they wouldn’t be left behind. I should be able to fire them without any problem.

From the white, smoky surroundings, I could no longer just feel the presence of the enemies, but also see their silhouettes. They were swimming amidst the air while raising high-pitched shriek akin to that of insects.

While the Pegasus had higher agility, there were more of them. Akin to floating mines, they were strewn along our path.

It was up to me to eliminate obstacles.

On top of that Pegasus were two fighters—Sariel was the pilot, while I was the gunner.

“—Blast!”

After locking on to enemies that were straight in front of us, I fired off.

Soon, a blade with a trailing black aura lunged towards a floating octopus that gently swayed its tentacles as if walking on the ocean floor.

In the next moment, the blade crashed miserably onto it, turning the octopus into a red and black burning daruma.

It felt like a shooting game in which the player shot down UFOs with fighter planes. Although, the Sword Arts, which could be moved at will, was far more useful than the half-guided missiles that were common in games.

Since I didn’t have to worry about the ammunition, I could shoot down as many octopuses as I liked.

The Pegasus rushed through the gaps in space filled with flames and black smoke without fearing the sound of a grand explosion.

Speaking of taking a group of monsters with only two of us, it reminded me of the rescue battle at the old castle of Ischia. While I’d never dreamed of riding with an authentic princess, personally speaking, riding with Sariel was even more unlikely.

Tch, so even the big one flies…”

Before I could feel nostalgic, I saw a huge silhouette beyond the hazy fog, wriggling and looking as big as a whale. In terms of shape, it resembled a giant squid.

“If several huge octopuses were to target me at once, I won’t be able to deal with it.”

As soon as six tentacles slithered out, I knew that the deadly poison was coming. In response, I fired all ten bullets to its round mouth before it could leak any purple smoke.

From what I could see, there were huge octopuses above, below, and beside us, as if it was their final line of defense.

There were four—no, five in total.

The Pegasus had enough intelligence to match my timing. It was a simple, yet absolutely reliable cooperation.

Due to not having to worry about deflecting the line of fire, I should be able to handle up to two octopuses at the same time. In other words, I’d be able to take down the remaining three before they could attempt another breath attack.

“Understood, moving on to evasive action—Sonic Walker!”

At that moment, the Pegasus accelerated to the point that the scenery blurred.

However, thanks to Sariel’s warning, my magic sword was able to hit the target. Acid breath, mixed with black smoke, was grandly scattered on the horizon.

The three other octopuses who weren’t chosen by me roared out a tornado of poisonous purple smoke that polluted the blue sky.

However, the acid breath only managed to reach the Pegasus’ afterimage. The strong acidity, which could melt steel instantly, was meaningless if it didn’t hit.

The Pegasus moved straight ahead at a tremendous speed.

How many kilometers have it passed?

“—!? We get through the fog—!!”

After leaving the huge octopuses behind and completely escaping from their breath, my vision suddenly opened.

Directly above me was a lush sky ceiling, surrounded by a huge circular wall of clouds. As if the previous surrounding fog was a lie, the sky was very clear.

—and, sitting on the gigantic cavity was the Gluttony Octo, the leader of the group and the fifth trial

Looking at it up close again, I couldn’t help but sigh at its enormity.

The Pegasus arrived just above the floating Gluttony Octo’s head. The scenery from there gave the illusion of flying low above the mountains.

I didn’t fail to notice that unlike the others, the Gluttony Octo’s head was flat with several small swells. If it had been laying on the ground, it’d probably be mistaken as a mountain or a hill.

The misty hill where the Sparda army once drove the Gluttony Octo’s swarms into the end must’ve been above its head. I didn’t know why it didn’t wake up at the time. However, if it had been confused as a plain mountain with trees, then there had to be a considerable amount of earth and sand on it.

However, now that it’d awakened, it no longer needed such camouflage. As such, his eerie, glossy, dark green body was exposed. Furthermore, the long, pulsing, and swaying silhouettes of the eight tentacles could be seen—indicating that this gigantic object was undoubtedly a single monster.

In such a clear vision, I could see countless octopuses of various sizes floating above my head.

“Shit—! We’re already being targeted—!”

As the large octopuses uniformly spewed deadly poisonous breath, they resembled that of flowers. Nevertheless, the sight of giant emerald flowers blooming on the dark ground was hardly beautiful. In fact, it was eerie enough to make one wonder what kind of demonic flower garden it was.

As they wriggled while skillfully adjusting the angle of fire with their tentacles, I could see a gigantic octopus amongst them. It easily exceeded 10 meters in size.

It’s 20, 30… no, the guy in the middle seems to be about 50 meters.

I didn’t know they had one this big amongst them.

At that moment, I knew that bringing down this gluttonous sky fortress was going to be pretty tough.

For the time being, we must focus on how to land safely. If we get touched by the acid breath even a little, we were done for.

“Approach.”

As the poisonous anti-aircraft fire erupted all at once, the Pegasus started dashing.

We rushed into the crossfire of purple venom with a sudden drop as if we were falling headlong.

A torrent of poisonous purple smoke approached, covering my field of vision. As a matter of course, there wasn’t only one. Hundreds of dozens of poisonous breaths were spewed out at the same time, forming a thick belt that filled the path of the Pegasus.

“Whoa!”

However, it didn’t hit.

The Pegasus kicked into the sky, before thinly avoiding it. Then, it leaped forcefully, pushing forward in a zigzag trajectory. Such an aerial mobility couldn’t be realized by Pegasus’ flight capability alone—

Is the acrobatic-like aerial maneuvers thanks to the Sonic Walker?

Normally, one or two steps should be the limit, but I knew that Sariel’s Sonic Walker had transcendental performance that could run hundreds of meters vertically in the sky.

From the perspective of Sariel, who had “become one” with her horse, this much was probably nothing to her.

Both my martial arts and horsemanship were still far behind Sariel’s. Even without her divine power, she was a monster.

“Attack.”

Blast Blade!”

Despite the dizzying descent, it wasn’t enough to make me lose consciousness. We’d already determined the distance between us, and in order to secure a landing point, we fired all bullets in a full blast.

I kicked the Pegasus’ back and jumped into the midst of the flood of red-hot blackened swords that burst out a sinister pillar of explosive flame.

I felt the heavy wind pressure hitting my entire body for only a moment. Clad in heavy armor, my body, which was akin to a lump of steel, was pervaded with a terrifying shock—

“Hey, did you manage to get off…”

“Yes.”

Foreseeing that it’d take magic to shoot down the Gluttony Octo, I decided not to use the Overgear to kill the impact of the landing. While I knew that I’d be fine, it was still tough to roll down from a horse of such tremendous speed.

A normal human would’ve burst like a pomegranate just from the impact of the fall. Moreover, if they were to roll down with such a momentum, they’d probably be unrecognizable afterwards.

Contrary to the expectation, I couldn’t descend in a cool manner. Instead, I found myself rolling around for dozens of meters. It was an extremely clumsy torso landing, which ended up with me laying on my back.

Looking up, the sky was refreshingly clear, while Sariel’s pure white beauty was right in the center of my vision.

“Why are you here?”

It’s strange.

Sariel’s role was supposed to end after she had carried me here with Pegasus. Afterwards, she was supposed to return to the base as soon as possible.

“…”

Sariel merely blinked her red eyes as a response to my question.

Hmm, it’s probably because of my lack of communication.

I probably didn’t tell her that she could just go home after dropping me off.

“…I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize, it can’t be helped that you ended up following after me.”

In the meantime, the Pegasus had risen into the sky once again. Not only did it rise to a considerable altitude, it had also safely escaped the range of the acid breath.

The Pegasus was probably told to wait until the battle was over while doing whatever a Pegasus would like to do.

“For the time being, let’s go. At this rate, we’ll just be surrounded.”

I couldn’t just let Sariel be on top of my chest and stare at each other forever. Both situationally and emotionally, it’d be awful.

I quickly stood up and carried the limbless Sariel on my back in no time.

Alright, we’re all set.

“I hope we’ll manage to find a weak point—”

Thanks to the fact that I scattered Blast Blade around here earlier, there were no signs of enemies. However, beyond the faintly rising black smoke, countless octopuses’ corpses were wriggling.

Do we really have enough time to find any weak points?

I was worried, but I couldn’t just back down after coming that far.

Together with Sariel, I intended to overcome the fifth trial.

 

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