Black Demon King

529 The Temple of Pandora

Immediately after the successful negotiation for the enslavement of Sariel, the three of us went to the Pandora Temple together.

 By the way, Will and I separated at the royal castle. Surely, they’d like to have a family talk without any interruptions.

The Pandora Temple itself wasn’t that far away from the royal castle. We passed the first defensive wall that protected the castle and headed for the upper section. After making our way through the main street, the temple was within sight.

The fact that it was set up on a prime location and faced the main street suggested that it was an important facility along with the Adventurer’s Guild.

By the way, every time we went to the guild, we’d sneak a glance at the magnificent temple, but today we’d be visiting it for the first time.

“It looks amazing.”

I felt like I’d become accustomed to the streets of Sparda, but when I saw the temple where the miracles and mysteries of God were still being performed, I felt like a Japanese tourist once again.

The Adventurer’s Guild HQ—to which I’d been indebted to since I reached Rank 5—was also designed like a temple.

However, this one was an actual temple. Even the details of its construction and designs were completely exceptional. Looking at the architecture, I wouldn’t doubt it one could switch their occupations here—or plain use it as a resurrection point.

…But of course, the Pandora Temple had no such game-like functions.

“It’s quite huge for a temple, but I’m not really an expert at architecture, so I really can’t say much.”

“But Fiona seems to recognize it?”

“Yes, it’s structurally different, but there are many more great temples and cathedrals in Sinclair than you can find.”

After having a bland conversation with Fiona, we confidently boarded to the entrance of Pandora Temple.

As a side note, several knights were escorting us. After all, the ceremony itself was a direct order from the king. Therefore, they had to clarify Sariel’s protection. Hence why explaining the situation and applying for the ceremony were all the knights’ duties, while we were just guests who followed the instructions.

Even though it worshiped the black gods, the color of the temple was based on white instead of black. Overall, it felt like a Greek temple, and despite my Japanese origin, I could sense the divine atmosphere.

For that reason, when I started walking in the dungeon-like temple, I was driven by the desire to explore here and there.

—But for now, I’d have to bear it.

After all, I could visit that place anytime.

With that in mind, we proceeded through the white corridor of the temple without wasting our time looking around, before stopping in front of some huge double doors.

“We’ve arrived, Kurono. From now on, only the parties involved in the master-slave contract may proceed. The archpriest is already waiting inside.”


Since I already had Sariel in my arms, all I had to do now was to open the door and enter.

“Good luck, Kurono.”


Leaving Fiona, who kindly sent me off, I walked past the double doors that were opened by the knight.

Despite what the double doors suggested, the room wasn’t all that spacious. At most, it was the size of a classroom. I used a classroom as a comparison because the room also consisted of a teacher’s desk and a blackboard.

On the wall behind the doors, jet-black lithographs were embedded akin to a blackboard. Judging from its color and luster, the material resembled that of the Obelisk standing in the plaza. It seemed to contain the Zero Chronicle.

Then, on a simple altar that resembled a teacher’s desk, stood a rotund man who seemed to be the archpriest.

A white vestment similar to the healer robe that Nell once wore, paired with a conspicuous golden necklace bearing some kind of crest. Other than that, he wore no extravagant accessories. Compared to the Crusader priests, his appearance could be said to be simple.

However, his stern, middle-aged face, along with a black stream of tattoos drawn on his skinhead that resembled a magic circle, I didn’t know what to say other than that he seemed menacing.

“Welcome to the Pandora Temple, Adventurer Kurono. I’ve already heard the story. Let’s cut to the case and begin the ritual.”

The archpriest had this no-nonsense atmosphere to him. Well, not like I wanted to engage in idle chatter with him.

“First of all, we shall confirm the existence of divine protection. Subject, you may stand in the center of the room—pardon me, I’ll prepare a pedestal.”

After turning a sharp glance at Sariel, who was in my arms, the archpriest recited in a small voice. I only realized he was chanting after seeing a white, square-shaped, bed-like pedestal protruding from the floor with a gurgling noise as if two stones were grinding against each other.

“Hey, doesn’t this look similar…?”

“Certainly, it is. The bed in the experimental facility is very similar in shape and material.”

My fellow lab rat agreed.

To be honest, I didn’t want her to lie down on this white pedestal because it was triggering. But refusing wouldn’t lead to anything.

“I’m sorry, Sariel. Please bear with it.”

“Bear with what?”

Am I the only one who’s concerned?

Amidst my confusion, I found myself apologizing as I placed Sariel on the white pedestal that I loathed to see.

Either way, it seemed that the preparation was complete. As instructed, I moved to the corner of the room so as to not get in the way.

“Now then, let’s begin the ceremony. I, the archpriest—Oliver Herodotus—swears to the Lawful Goddess, Amadeus—”

—If I wasn’t mistaken, the Lawful Goddess, Amadeus, was involved in all kinds of trials. With her divine protection, there should be an absolute guarantee that there were no falsehoods.

I had no doubt that Sariel received Freesia’s divine protection, even more so after she used magic similar to the pseudo-thunder attribute.

Considering Sariel’s background as an apostle, if there was even a single black god who was biased against the white gods and slandered her, she’d be sent to the Gap of Cocytus to join Ai without further questions.

“It should be okay, right…?”

Despite the smoke of anxiety in my chest, I had no choice but to silently watch the progression.

Even though it was a rite that borrowed the power of a god, it wasn’t all that flashy. On the “blackboard” behind the priest, several faint inscriptions flashed, while the altar glowed dimly. There was no epiphany from God; nor did Sariel’s body fly or shine.

—Just like that, before I could start praying to my own goddess, Mia, the ceremony was over.

“—As requested, I’ve confirmed the existence of the divine protection of [Dark Knight Freesia]. This is the certificate.”

Ignoring my anxiety, the archpriest announced the result in a business tone.

The certificate itself was an ordinary piece of parchment, but it had a winged helmet, a trident, and a crest with a thunder motif seared onto it. Looking at the faint smoke, it felt like it’d been branded just now.

This is probably what was shining on the altar.

“Have you confirmed it? I’ll submit this certificate to the Sparda Army right away. As for Kurono, he’ll receive a certificate of protection from the temple at a later date.”

Usually, one would receive a certificate with the god’s crest engraved on it, but this time it was an exception since he had to report it to Sparda.

Well, not like I wanted it or anything, and it’s already enough if I can prove it to them.

“Then, we shall proceed to the Master-Slave Contract ceremony based on the protection of [Dark Knight Freesia], is that alright?”

As long as the person herself was there, no special preparations were necessary, so I readily obliged.

“Then, Kurono, please go to the center of the room and stand right next to the pedestal.”

I did as I was told and approached Sariel on the pedestal. Sariel was as silent and expressionless as ever. But when I got close, her red eyes shifted towards me.

“Hey, while it may be too late for this, are you alright with this…?”

I’d never asked her that question. I’d intended to, but when I saw Fiona standing next to her, I just couldn’t.

I knew it was a foolish question. Even if she expressed her discontentment, it wouldn’t change anything.

No, more than that, I just wanted to assuage my own guilt. Since I’d finally asked that question, it meant that my mental fortitude only amounted to that extent.

No matter how much I wanted to save her, to let her become a slave? Moreover, Shirasaki was also Japanese. I couldn’t imagine how much she’d hate it to become a slave.

“How do you feel about this?”

“…Don’t worry, this is what I want.”

What would ask her to do?

To Sariel, her own feelings were probably the hardest thing to understand.

“Excuse me, please start the ritual.”

“No, it’s important to confirm the person’ feelings. Otherwise, [Dark Knight Freesia] is unlikely to let you sign the contract.”

If so, the ritual would end in failure. Well, considering that I had fought and defeated her, it may be considered a success either way.

After all, despite being a contact, the magnitude wouldn’t compare to that of receiving divine protection. If anything, it only served as God’s approval. In the worst-case scenario, where the ritual failed, I only needed Sparda’s acknowledgement to enslave her.

Since it was a magical world where slaves existed, I expected there to be a spell that subject the slaves to absolute obedience, but in reality, there wasn’t. The master couldn’t electrocute the slave, or put her under a mental constraint just by thinking about it.

Nevertheless, there were abominable magic items that could produce similar effects. …At the very least, in Sparda, something like ‘Angel Ring’ wasn’t popular.

Slaves were merely treated like slaves, and weren’t restrained by advanced magic that stripped them of free will.

…Or rather, if there was, it’d cost far more than just buying a slave.

For that reason, even if the contract ritual was concluded, Sariel wouldn’t be put under any kind of restrictions. Hence why, in the worst-case scenario, I’d be required to have the ability to suppress Sariel in the case of a rebellion. It was my responsibility as her master. Of course, I was also fully aware of the fact that Sariel had no intention of rebelling.

“We shall proceed with the ceremony. I, the archpriest by the name of Oliver Herodotus, swears to the [Lawful Goddess Amadeus] under the name of [Dark Knight Freesia] to witness the rite of covenant where Knight Sariel swears her fealty to her lord—”

—After giving a slightly different introduction than before, the archpriest chanted once again. Since the chant itself was done in the language native to this world, I couldn’t comprehend it. Or rather, the chant of the ritual, which was much longer than a normal spell, had an unique intonation akin to that of a sutra. Therefore, it sounded unfamiliar.

I understood the chant as something similar to the fire spell that often flew at me, or the earth spell that often shielded me… But well, that was the extent of it. As expected, the language of another world was still beyond me.

“—Knight Sariel, do you pledge eternal loyalty to your lord, Kurono?”

“Yes, I swear.”

At first, it sounded like a wedding vow to me, but that changed when I heard Sariel’s mechanical response.

Since the contract itself was part of a necessary measure, it shouldn’t have any special meanings. After this, I’d probably be asked if I accept Sariel as my knight, and I’d just answer “yes” for business purpose—

“—Kurono, you may accept Knight Sariel’s loyalty with a kiss of oath.”


“A kiss of oath.”

…Looking at the archpriest’s stern expression, he didn’t seem to be joking.

Hold on a minute.

Isn’t that just strange—!?

It’s a master-slave contract, so why the need to kiss—!?

What if it’s two men!?

…Wait, maybe, just maybe—

“—Can I use the back of my hand?”

“What are you talking about? Of course it’s on the lips.”

…He stared at me as if I was the one who lacked common sense.

Am I?

“Please do it right away. If we wait too long, it’d be considered a refusal.”

“I understand.”

That’d be a problem.

I know, I know, a kiss, right? I’ll do it as much as you want—this bastard—

At the same time, I felt so pathetic for being relieved at the notion that Fiona wasn’t there.

I made up my mind and approached Sariel, who stared at me as if nothing had happened.


Both of us were silent.

…After all, I couldn’t help but recall the deplorable memory of that night.

Briefly, it felt as if I was about to bestow a kiss upon the slumbering Snow White, but when I was only an inch away, I halted.

a tremendous sense of reluctance.

‘Is this really okay?’

Such a meaningless thought swirled.

—Aah, dammit. What is wrong with me? I need to do it. There’s nothing else to it!

Alright, time to prepare myself—


—Sariel moved first. Without a doubt, our lips brushed against each other.

For the first time in three months, we’d kissed.

“Congratulations, the contract is now complete. From now on, Knight Sariel will devote her life to serving her lord, Kurono.”

By the time the archpriest’s words reached my ears, she’d already withdrew.

“…Thank you.”

Although my heart was still in a mess, I managed to conceal it and muster some words of gratitude.

—Anyway, I was glad that everything went off without a hitch.

Yes, let’s leave it at that.


(The archpriest’s POV)

Afterwards, despite their terrifying appearances, the adventurer, Kurono, departed with his newly-appointed knight, Sariel.

Thus, the archpriest—Oliver—who was in charge of the Pandora Temple in Sparda, exhaled deeply.

“…What in the name of?”

On top of the altar that could be found anywhere in the temple, within his hands, was a piece of parchment. It was none other than the certificate with the crest of [Dark Knight Freesia].

If it was only that one, then there was nothing to be surprised about. There were many people in Sparda who received the protection of the same goddess. Thinking about it, when he performed his first ceremony as a priest, the name Freesia also appeared.

Indeed, the problem wasn’t the first sheet that showed Sariel’s divine protection, but the second sheet underneath.

As a loyal follower of the [Lawful Goddess Amadeus], Oliver was against cheating or deceiving his surroundings. Nevertheless, he was also aware that the world wasn’t so sweet for that kind of ideal.

In order to carry out that ceremony, Oliver had also undertaken a request to secretly investigate the divine protection of the adventurer, Kurono. Upon seeing the wax seal bearing the Sparda’s flag on the letter, signifying the king’s decree, he couldn’t possibly object.

The leader of the Rank 5 adventurer party, [Element Master], Kurono. Surely, everyone in Sparda recognized that name. In the battle against the monster army in Ischia half a year ago, he rescued the trapped students of the seminary and received an award. Just three months ago, the Fifth Galahad War broke out. There, Kurono achieved such remarkable success that it wouldn’t be strange for him to be hailed as a hero.

However, the source of his power was unknown.

He didn’t belong to any school of swordsmanship, nor did he was enlisted in the Mage Society.

Above all, no one could put a name to his divine protection.

Despite his tremendous power, it was only natural for the country to be wary of someone of unknown origins.

Thus, it fell on Oliver’s lap to shed light to Kurono’s identity once and for all.

It was deemed as necessary—not for himself, but for Sparda.

In the end, despite his reluctance, Oliver demonstrated his ability as an archpriest. Along with assessing Sariel’s divine protection, he secretly appraised Kurono during the ritual.

—Such was the result…

“…No way, I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

The parchment that appraised Kurono was blackened and scorched on one side, as if it had just survived a fire.

In this ritual, the crests that represented each god—the so-called “stigmata”—were engraved into the parchment. It was the simplest but surest way to prove it. Nevertheless, if the bearer was inexperienced, the stigmata would be faint, if not segmented—making it difficult to distinguish.

As a matter of course, if someone who hadn’t received any protections were subjected to the ritual, the parchment would be left blank.

…Hence why, it was inconceivable that one side of the parchment would be completely charred like that.

“Regardless, does this prove that you indeed have divine protection…?”

After all, as long as there was a change in the parchment, it also meant that the stigmata was engraved on it. However, even Oliver—who’d perfectly memorized all the existing stigmata—couldn’t come up with anything.

In other words, that pitch-black parchment—which seemed to be engraved with darkness—represented an unidentified blessing that had never been recorded in history.

“No way…”

“—Won’t you shut up already, Archpriest of Sparda?”

Suddenly, a voice reached his ears. A voice of a small child—yet one that filled him with a sense of intimidation nonetheless.

In fact, even the battle-hardened Oliver, who’d banished countless undead back to Hell, couldn’t even afford to shout, “Who the hell are you!?”

He couldn’t even move—it was as if he was frozen solid.

Behind him, there was a tremendous presence that he had never encountered in his long life.

There was no mistaking it—someone was behind him, and they were neither humans nor monsters, but something even more horrifying.

“I’m still on time, right? I’ll have a talk with Ama. As for you, ‘I don’t understand’ shall be your report to them.”

Who are you? What are you talking about?

Even if he tried to express it in words, only painful sighs leaked out of his mouth. It was as if he’d forgotten how to breathe. …No, it was as if the very laws of the world prevented him from conversing with that inhumane being.

“When the time comes, I’m sure you’ll be able to figure it out. Whose blessing did that Adventurer, Kurono, receive.


Unity of mind—focus.

Unleashing his solid mental fortitude, honed through rigorous training and intense combat training, Oliver freed himself of the paralysis, and turned around.

“Well then, may Sparda be protected by the black gods.”

All Oliver saw was an ancient magic lithograph commonly known as the “blackboard”, on which a magic circle drawn with crimson lines and consisting of small characters floated faintly.

Of course, he couldn’t recognize it, since he’d never seen it before.

It was as if the mysterious child that once stood behind him had returned to another world from that very blackboard—

—Still, to think that it disappeared in the blink of an eye.

“I, just now…”

It felt as if he was daydreaming. Nevertheless, merely remembering that overwhelming presence and pressure sent shivers down his spine.

With the abnormality gone for the time being, he took one or two deep breaths to calm himself. Before he knew it, his face was covered in cold sweat, as if he’d just purified a powerful undead.

From his pocket, he fished out a nice, floral handkerchief that didn’t at all befit his appearance, and wiped his face. Only then did he regain his sense of safety.

After taking the last, deep breath, Oliver lowered his head reverently towards the blackboard and said—

“—Your wish is my command, Your Majesty the Emperor, Mia Elrod.


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