Black Demon King
526 Not even Death can Cure Stupidity
I had a lot to prepare for!
Thus, I parted from Will and left the dormitory. When I looked up towards the blue skies, which reflected the exact opposite color of my bleak heart, I earnestly murmured.
Certainly, Will’s plan to enslave Sariel would serve as a perfect solution.
“…As a human, I can’t condone it at all.”
That’s rich, coming from me…
Still, I couldn’t help but say it.
In this other world, slavery still existed. Since it was the lowest ranking class in society, it was commonplace. At the same time, in modern society on Earth, there were probably more than a few people who were treated like slaves, even if they weren’t one.
However, to someone who came from modern Japan like me, slavery was a thing of the past—a thing that one could only come across in fiction. As such, there was no way I could “realistically” imagine someone who’d been stripped of all human rights—let alone put myself in their shoes. Even now, at the mention of “slaves”, all I could picture was the image of people plowing the wastelands in ragged clothes; digging mines with bare hands; or spinning that giant mill-thing…
Although, one would argue that as a subject to human experimentation, I was the closest being to a slave.
Nevertheless… for the time being, I had no intention of tormenting Sariel.
“…Still, is that the only way?”
Even if I was presently in another world, I had never dealt with any slaves before. The closest thing I had to one was during a bandit subjugation in Fahrenheit. At that time, I helped a girl who was about to be sold into slavery.
Even then, she wasn’t being whipped or being subjected to manual labor and the likes.
Moreover, in Spada, there was a law that forbade excessive abuse of slaves. As such, the slaves weren’t treated like insects. Despite being called slaves, each of them had different specialties. Regardless, even the cheapest of slaves was worth 100,000 Cran, making them luxury goods. In fact, it wouldn’t be uncommon for the price of a top-tier slave to reach billions. Since they were as pricey as a sports car, perhaps it was understandable that they’d be treated well.
…In the end, it came down to whether or not I could stomach it.
Sariel would be a slave in name only, while her quality of life would be up to me—her master. As the sole owner, no one else had the right to interfere.
“I-I don’t know what else I’m supposed to do…”
No matter how much I pondered about it, the answer still escaped me. How should I treat Sariel? Even if Fiona forgave me, I was aware that being too lenient with Sariel wouldn’t help.
“…But well, maybe this is okay? For now, I should focus on carrying out Will’s plan, and think about the rest later.”
Unable to reach a decision, I decided to postpone the issue once again. I couldn’t help but sigh.
“—Y-you, are you Kurono?”
At that moment, a voice came from behind. It was a familiar-sounding, masculine voice.
Despite having been exclusively referred to as ‘Kuroe’ or ‘Priest’ until a while ago, I was able to respond immediately when I was called by the correct name.
“Yeah, you… Aren’t you Kai?”
Without a doubt, the man who sported a bright smile was Kai Est Galbraith—the swordsman of Winglord.
‘Why are you here?’
Was what I was about to ask until I saw his uniform. As a student, it was only natural for him to be on campus.
However, there was a more pressing concern.
“Didn’t you get stabbed by Sariel?”
“Hehe, what a miserable sight it was! But hey, you aren’t wrong. I got pierced right in the middle of my chest!”
…I felt somewhat—no, quite concerned when Kai began to strike his chest. After all, the cheerful man had suffered a fatal wound there…
“Don’t tell me, did you become Saphir’s manservant?”
“—Then my death would be in vain.”
Apparently, he hadn’t become an undead. I’d heard that a necromancer—or to be precise, master necromancer—could create an undead that was a human look-alike.
“That’s great, then. I’m glad you survived.”
“Actually, I indeed sustained a lethal injury.”
—Then, did he get revived?
“My divine protection is [Immortal Champion: Svaldias]. Apparently, I’ve mastered it to the level that I could survive a fatal blow once.”
“…Haha, now that’s the kind of ability that you can’t just test out willy-nilly.”
…After all, I’d have to get killed first—and it had to be an instant death.
“Yeah, it was my first time. The power of God sure is amazing.”
I’d learned a bit about the [Immortal Champion: Svaldias] in class before. According to the legend, Svaldias himself was the strongest gladiator with an immortal body. In Spada, where swordsmanship was more popular than in other countries, he was a well-known figure.
But of course, receiving Svaldias’ divine protection didn’t automatically turn him invincible. If anything, Kai probably acquired that ability due to the extensive training he’d received.
“You’re awesome, too. Didn’t you defeat Sariel?”
…What kind of face will he make if he knows that she’s currently in my dorm?
Of course, I had no intention of telling him.
“No, it’s only possible with the help of my friends. When I confronted her alone, I was completely helpless.”
“Well, we also confronted her together, and got trashed. Because of that, I’ve come to realize that the [Element Master] is stronger than [Winglord]”
No trace of resentment or jealousy could be seen in Kai’s expression. He genuinely acknowledged our strength, which was quite refreshing.
“—Hence why, spar with me!”
“No, wait, what?”
I frowned at the sudden invitation, but it honestly wasn’t a bad idea.
Now that I think about it, I’d been arguing with the members of [Winglord]—with the exception of Nell—but I felt no sense of animosity towards Kai. Of course, I was particularly annoyed about Saphir, who attacked me with pure malice, but I didn’t particularly dislike Kai. After all, Kai was like my role model for combat enthusiasts. When I met him at the Adventurer’s Guild in Asbel Village, he offered to be my opponent.
While I had plans for today, I wasn’t in a rush.
“Well, okay, let’s spar, Kai. I was in the mood for exercise, too.”
“Hooray! Let’s hurry to the arena!”
When I saw Kai’s childish joy, he somewhat reminded me of Reki.
“—Wow, it’s already noon? ‘Can’t be helped. Let’s stop here.”
After vigorously swinging my wooden great sword, I broke my stance. Kai carried his on his shoulder with his back facing me. Even in the midst of the fierce battle, the toll of the bell—announcing noon—didn’t go unnoticed by me.
I exhaled and relaxed my body. At that moment, layer of sweat, along with the comfortable fatigue swept over me. During the fight, I was too preoccupied to notice them.
When I had a spar with Kai before, it was swiftly concluded. But this time, I didn’t care about winning or losing. Hence why we fought each other with wooden swords endlessly. Before I knew it, two to three hours had passed.
“As expected, I can’t with just a sword.”
“I’d be overwhelmed if you used magic.”
The mock battle was so fruitful that we praised each other for the good fight.
In line with Kai’s style, I decided to fight without using a single spell. Since it was a rare opportunity to fight one-on-one with a Rank 5 adventurer swordsman, it’d be best to use the same weapon to make the most of it.
—and since my first fight with Kai, I instantly knew I made the right choice.
His physical prowess was on par with me; a remodeled, enhanced, being. With his superhuman power and speed, it was difficult to believe that he was only human. However, what was most terrifying was his sword technique—which he’d honed after having full grasp of his own strength.
At first glance, it seemed to be a ruthless fighting style that relied on his superior strength, but when we crossed blades, I could feel that there was a certain technique there. He wasn’t just assailing his opponent with raw strength simply because it was the most rational thing to do.
Instead, Kai gracefully intercepted, deflected, and parried my blow. While my dual-wielding technique; [Cursed Hatchet] and [Gluttony Fang Sword: Evil Eater] hit him like a storm, I never managed to score any clean hits.
During the mock battle, Kai broke his wooden sword once and replaced it, while I ruined about five. With that alone, the difference in swordsmanship between me and Kai became obvious.
I realized that I still had room to grow. I had a long way to go, and was happy about it.
“Thank you, Kai. It was good practice.”
By the way, the exercise also made me feel somewhat rejuvenated. Despite my mental preparations, Lily and Fiona seemed to have caused me more stress than expected. Even if it was just for a moment, the spar allowed me to take my eyes off the problems.
The mock battle had proven to be quite useful, and I’d like to thank him from the bottom of my heart.
“Haha, you’re the first person who’d ever thanked me.”
Kai replied with a pleasant smile. Well, even in Spada, I doubt there’d be that many people who could be honest with him. After all, Kai also had monstrous stamina. If I were to go along with his stamina, I would’ve collapsed from the sheer exhaustion …And I doubted that I could thank him in that state.
“Let’s spar again next time.”
“Of course, I’ll always be ready!”
While wiping his wet hair with a towel provided by the arena, Kai responded in a refreshing manner. At a glance, he seemed like a jock—no, the ace of the soccer or the basketball club…
To have such a cheerful man as a friend and a party member… I felt somewhat envious of Nero. Back then, I believed that in terms of trust, my party wouldn’t lose to them—but I was sorely mistaken.
“For some reason, I felt like thanking you, too. When I got back from Galahad, I was so bored.”
“Then, why don’t you accept some advanced-level quests? If it’s your party, you should be able to do it just fine.”
“The [Winglord] is currently disbanded. Nero has returned to Avalon to meet Nell, and it doesn’t seem like Char will be returning from the royal castle. Saphir and I are the only ones who’re free… But I’m not stupid enough to form a duo with him.”
…I see, Nero has returned to Avalon?
Well, I guess it was only natural, since the war had ended. In fact, more than three months had passed since then.
“It’s pointless to team up with someone I can’t trust. While I can go solo, I’m kind of stuck right now.”
“I’m going to participate in the [Knight Selection] of Avalon.”
“… [Knight Selection]?”
“W-wait, you didn’t know?”
Thus, Kai told me about the Knight Selection Tournament of the Kingdom of Avalon.
In short, it was like a koshien, only with knights instead of baseball players…
“Every year, Spada and other countries are invited to participate. Therefore, making it a huge tournament that the City-State Alliance is paying attention to.”
“Wow, sounds like quite a challenge.”
“Not really. Since the contestants are only students, so there’s an age limit. Unless they’re a prodigy, it wouldn’t take much to defeat them.”
…Did you forget that you’re a student yourself?
Despite that, as a swordsman, Kai had experienced real battlefields. He’d have nothing to gain by competing with sheltered and well-raised aristocratic children…
“But there must be at least someone who cares…”
“Well, Celes from the Imperial Academy is a magic swordsman on par with Nero. I don’t know if I can win against her. As for whether or not I’ll do well during the match, I can only pray.”
The match format was similar to a kendo team match between the spearhead, second spearhead, midfielder, vice-captain, and captain.
Certainly, there was a probability of being up against your intended opponent…
“I kind of admire that kind of thing…”
“What is it, Kurono? Would you like to participate?”
I didn’t have that much free time… I had to prepare and train for the next battle with the crusaders. But before that, there was a more pressing concern that needed to be sorted out. I couldn’t afford to be preoccupied with anything else.
“Either way, since you’re from the adventurer chart, you can’t participate.”
“Is that so?”
After all, if it’s allowed, then everyone would be hiring some skilled adventurers to help them during the tournament regardless of the age limit.
If I rejoined the knight chart here, I may be able to compete despite the age limit. Nevertheless, only those who were properly enrolled could represent the academy. Even if I had what it took, I probably wouldn’t be chosen.
“How did last year’s tournament go?”
“I don’t know. I went on a quest last year.”
Hence why none of the members of [Winglord] participated. Kai, Saphir, and Charlotte were out. Of course, international students such as Nell and Nero were out of the question.
“As a result, the Royal Spada Seminary had to come back after losing in the first round. This year, that better not happen again.”
Kai complained as if he didn’t really care about the seminary face.
“Hey, Kurono, I’m sure that you—who fought against Sariel—understood. In this world, there’re still many who’re stronger than me. If you want to surpass them, there’s no time to waste.”
“If it’s you, why do you want to be strong?”
“If you’re a man, then it’s only natural to want that!”
I see, he isn’t wrong.
When I saw his straightforward gaze, I couldn’t help but squint.
“Well, because of that, I got a bit twisted. Still, I’m glad I met you.”
…Well, since it was still Kai we were talking about, I was sure that he was just trying to relieve his boredom.
“I’ll be at school until the tournament, so if you’re free, let’s fight again. Until then, bye.”
—And so, Kai dashed away.
“…If Will’s strategy goes well, I’ll bring Sariel, too.”