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Black Demon King
530 In Search of New Armor
“…Did something happen?”
“No, nothing. The ceremony ended without a hitch.”
While subtly averting my gaze, I told Fiona that it ended safely. Afterwards, the Sparda Knights who accompanied us to Pandora Temple went back to the castle to give their report, and we had nothing else to do.
In other words, we’d part way here.
However, since we’d come all the way to the Pandora Temple, I decided to try and see what I can do for Sariel. After all, she required regenerative treatment for missing limbs. In addition to being in charge of divine protection, Pandora Temple also served as a medical institution. Their building wasn’t huge for no reason. By the way, there were several wards in the lower section of Sparda, along with an isolation ward some distance away from the outer wall.
For that reason, I tried to find out how long would Sariel treatment take, and how much it’d cost.
“Kurono, what is your plan?”
“Since we’d obtained the bounty for the Galahad War, it’d be better to start the treatment right away.”
Thus, we discovered that her treatment would take roughly three months, and that it’d cost 50 million Cran. While the three months recovery sounded nice, the cost was wild. Hearing it made me want to start a donation campaign where I’d stand in front of the station, begging for everyone to pity our poor Sariel, who was suffering from a chronic illness.
Although, considering that the treatment would result in full recovery of all her missing limbs, the cost was understandable. In fact, it was extraordinarily cheap. I heard that for an ordinary person, they’d have to fork up 50 million for a single limb. Furthermore, the treatment period would require more than a year.
Why was Sariel’s treatment “cheap” and took less time? It was due to none other than her superhuman remodeled body.
Despite unable to regenerate her missing limbs, her healing rate was incomparable to that of an ordinary person. Meanwhile, her inherent resilience surpassed that of wild monsters. As such, she could easily receive physically demanding treatments. Hence why they could perform regenerative treatment at a tremendous speed—something that was otherwise impossible for ordinary people.
Therefore, because it’d consume less time, the treatment cost was significantly cheaper. Besides, the treatment itself wouldn’t require that much effort due to her strong body and resilience.
Upon hearing that, I wasn’t that surprised, but the same couldn’t be said about the priest who examined her. Understandable, it wasn’t that often you got to meet a remodeled homunculus from the “White Sacrament.”
Anyway, I thought it’d be better to start treatment as soon as possible because of the low cost and the short period of hospital visits. Besides, it wasn’t like we couldn’t pay.
“Well, it’s not like we’re going to nurse her forever. If she doesn’t start working as a slave soon, it’d be problematic.”
Quite a natural statement from Fiona, but maybe I felt stung because I had become fond of Sariel.
“But I don’t need nursing. Until I recover, I can use prosthetic arms and legs instead.”
Sariel could use a black magic called [Violet Flash Blackening]. By the way, I hadn’t looked into said magic yet. With that power, she could freely manipulate gauntlets and armor as if they were her own limbs—even ill-fitting ones. As such, there was no hindrance to daily life.
Certainly, when we fought Gluttony Octo, immediately after awakening to her divine protection, her special martial arts, [Demonic Spear Brionac], was forcibly cancelled after her magic hit rock bottom. Nevertheless, we were no longer in battle, so there was no need to worry.
As expected, her current power couldn’t be compared to an apostle, but it was still amazing.
Most likely, Sariel’s mana pool hadn’t changed from before she received divine protection.
“If you have something suitable that’d fit me, it’d suffice.”
“Then, shall we go shopping while you’re receiving treatment?”
“Incidentally, I also have to look for new armor.”
After all, [Diabolos Embrace] was completely destroyed in the battle against Sariel, that Lily gave up on retrieving it. Or them, because it’d been torn to pieces. Even if she managed to collect all of them, I didn’t think anyone would be able to salvage it. In the end, I had no choice but to give up.
It was somewhat sad to think that the second generation only amounted to this, but in the fiercest battle, it had protected me until the end. Just like the first generation, let’s praise it for its splendid defense.
“Then, shall we go to Mordred Weapons Firm? It shouldn’t be that far from here.”
Come to think of it… It was the first time I’d ever been to the main store in the upper section. Usually, if my cured weapon needed fixing, I’d just go to the Stratos Blacksmith, and if I wanted to buy a long sword for [Sword Arts], the branch near the seminary would suffice.
In such an occasion, it might be a good idea to look for a new cursed weapon.
“Sure, we can do that.”
“Finally, after a long time, we get to go on a date.”
I only got the hint after Fiona spelled it out for me.
…Am I that dense?
“The last time we did it was after we got back from fighting Laspen.”
Although, I didn’t consider that one a date, but… Fiona might’ve fallen in love with me since then. But in the battle against Laspen, didn’t she become a sacrifice for evolving the [Cursed Hatchet]? I even slashed her back… Why’d she fall in love with a man who caused her so much pain?
“I also wear the ring.”
“Right, I’ve seen you wearing it before.”
“I usually remove it when I go on quests. After all, it’d be troublesome if it breaks again.”
Is she anxious?
The first one I gave as a present had a warding effect. I never thought that it’d be activated and destroyed on the same day.
“I’m glad you’re taking care of it.”
“Of course, it’s a gift from Kurono.”
…When she said that with a straight expression, it was difficult to tell whether she was serious or just joking. But since it was Fiona, I was sure she was being sincere. Thinking about it made me somewhat embarrassed.
Now that we are going out, I should be more thoughtful about my next gift choice.
“Uhm, well then, uh… let’s go.”
I hesitated when I thought of holding her hands. What should I say to her? Or should I just do it? It was our first date as lovers. As a man, I should initiate it.
In my defense, I also wished to hold her hand and take her on a date. Thus, I removed the gray sheep glove from my left hand and offered it to Fiona.
Why would I ask that?
Fiona awkwardly averted her gaze and didn’t immediately take my hand.
“It’s okay. No, if anything, please.”
“Is that so? Then—”
—Her cheeks were flushed. I could tell that Fiona was embarrassed. Maybe, I had a similar expression.
Just the other day, I slept with Fiona, who wore a transparent negligee. Why would I be embarrassed when we were only holding hands?
Gently, Fiona’s shivering white hand overlapped with my left hand. It felt as if I was handling an expensive and delicate object.
“Okay, let’s go.”
“Alright, I’ll be in your care.”
Even though I suddenly felt awkward, I still took her hand and strolled around the city of Sparda.
After I felt accustomed to holding hands, we arrived at Mordred Weapon Firm’s main store. As expected, it was much more splendid compared to the branch. Instead of a temple-like structure like the guild, the huge, solid stone architecture made it seem like a concrete building.
However, on the front door and in the corners of the compartments, there was a signboard with a skull symbol that said ‘Deka Deka’ and ‘Mordred Weapons Firm.’ Anyone could tell at a glance that it was a weapon shop.
“It’s bustling with crowds… Well, somewhat.”
“There are more people than usual… Rather, it feels like everyone’s gathering in front of the store…”
Just as Fiona said, the front of the Mordred Weapons Firm main store was full of people. It was as if a world-famous superstar was about to exit the store.
“Is there some kind of event being held?”
I was kind of interested. Well, I guess it didn’t really matter. I had some unfinished business, so I’d have to enter the store. There was no reason to hesitate.
Thus, I took Fiona’s hand and approached the store.
“Excuse me, are you in the middle of an event?”
Coincidentally, we spotted an employee wearing a skull-shaped apron, and called out to him.
“Why, if it isn’t Sir Kurono, the hero of the Galahad War?”
Instead of the young male employee, someone behind him answered my question. He quietly emerged from the large, black shadow.
“Well, if it isn’t Chairman Mordred himself.”
“It’s been a long time since we last met, Kurono. It’s an honor that you still remember my face.”
All skeletons are skulls, so there’s no telling them apart…
That said, I certainly recognized the lich-like, nouveau riche skeleton who was ostentatiously followed by his employees in front of me.
I’d never forget how, when I first visited Sparda’s weapon shop, I was almost forced to grab a Mithril Sword, or the random intrusion event that was staged during the [Cursed Carnival].
“What’s with the change in attitude?”
“Isn’t it natural. Now you’re a famous figure in Sparda—”
“—No, please don’t mention it. Besides, it feels disturbing when you humble yourself like that…”
It was an outrageous way to deal with the representative of the largest arms dealer in Sparda, but I didn’t remember ever opening up to him. Moreover, there was no real damage so far so that was good.
“Hahaha, then let me take your word for it. For some reason, I’ve always been clumsy with the use of honorifics. Furthermore, I’m an advocate of friendly customer service.”
“Friendly? More like shady.”
After all, he always seemed about to reap my soul. Then again, it wasn’t like I could comment on his face…
“Well, well, no need to be so wary. Since you’re a collector of cursed weapons, I can already guess why you’re here. Hahaha, recently, a first-class gem has been added to my collection. Take a closer look!”
Mordred, who was in a ridiculously good mood, laughed almost exactly like Will. I’d like to apologize, though. Being utterly honest, I had no idea what he was talking about.
“No, today, I just came to check the store… Well, it doesn’t matter. Did you chance upon a powerful cursed weapon?”
“Hm, despite being unfamiliar with it, your guess is almost correct. There’s indeed something new. However, it isn’t a cursed weapon.”
“Yes, it’s armor.”
A-a cursed armor…!
I see, that kind of thing exists…
Although, it might be unsurprising? After all, both armor and other equipment could also be cursed. Rather, because armor was often worn for combat, it’d easily be possessed by a curse, just like a weapon.
“But it isn’t just your ordinary armor. The construction and the lore of the armor are all first-class. If not for the fact that it’s cursed, it’d have become a national treasure.”
Mordred’s passionate explanation piqued my interest.
“It’s the [Tyrant’s Armor: Maximillian]. In the ancient times, the armor was donned by a tyrant who massacred many people—ranging from the enemy soldiers to his own people, and single-handedly built a mountain of corpses. In the end, he led his own country to ruin. As such, the curse is by no means weak.”
“Since it isn’t just a simple antique, it can’t be appraised using conventional methods. Therefore, it was unclear whether the legend is true or not. But once you feel the terrible curse it emits, I’m sure you will understand.”
Of course, of course…
Oh no, I’m getting too excited…
“—What’s more, the armor has fallen into my hands! I spent about 300 million Cran at the auction! But it doesn’t matter! If anything, the fact that it was put up for sale is a miracle in and on itself! No matter what you do, I won’t let go of it! Hence why, you’re only allowed to take a look!”
…I didn’t like his attitude at all. Still, it wasn’t like I had any intention of stealing it from its rightful owner. For the time being, let’s just admire the infamous tyrant’s armor…
“When will that armor arrive?”
“Hm, it’s almost time to arrive, but—”
Mordred fished out his golden pocket watch, and in the next moment—
A chill ran down my spine. Reflexively—or rather, I was made to look in the direction where I felt the presence. It truly felt as if an invisible force had grabbed my head.
“…Kurono, this is just—”
“—Yeah, this guy’s bad news.”
Fiona and I stared at each other. However, there was nothing beyond our field of vision except for the bustling everyday scenery of the main street of Sparda.
In a split second, it was as if the space had distorted—no, it was just an optical illusion. Nevertheless, it was caused by an abominably dense curse.
“Ah, aah, finally, it’s here!”
From the corner of the main street, a cargo emerged. It was pulled by two herbivorous yet enormous dragons that couldn’t be compared to ordinary land dragons. With a loud creak, the two dragons pulled a wagon containing a huge steel box.
The size was around 3 cubic meters. The color was a disturbing mix of familiar jet-black, metallic luster with a dim, whitish glow.
“Blackening… It’s been eroded by the curse. But isn’t that box originally made of holy silver mithril?”
“That’s correct. If it’s an ordinary cursed item, it’d have long been purified. But as you can see, it can barely contain [Maximillian]. In fact, I had to switch the container three times on the way.”
While the [Cursed Hatchet] was submerged in lead, it at least waited for me to return.
“Are those around it priests? They have to go out of their way to put up barriers around the thing…”
As the cargo slowly advanced, horse-riding priests in white vestments were circling it. Each of them was raising a simple wooden wand that emitted a faint white glow, forming a shining film which encompassed the container.
A light-element barrier conjured by four people, coupled with a mithril container… And yet, despite that, they still couldn’t suppress the curse…
“How much did the transport cost?”
“Well, it’s nothing more than a small labor fee.”
…When it came to their hobbies, some people suddenly lost their self-control. Well, since Mordred was the so-called filthy rich, I guess it didn’t matter…
While pondering about such things, I looked at the approaching container. The sense of resentment was growing. I didn’t know what kind of rumors the employees of the weapon firm spread, but the spectators buzzed as the curse made itself known.
However, even if they stayed around this part, I doubted they’d get the chance to witness the thing. Surely, it’d be delivered to the storage. It’d be beyond stupid to just reveal the extremely cursed armor to the masses, unless a fairly formidable seal had been placed beforehand.
If, by some accident, [Maximillian] were to be released…
Was it my fault for imagining such a disturbing situation?
Someone’s furious scream echoed through the sunny main street. No way, did the faint presence of the curse drive him insane? But it seemed that wasn’t the case…
“N-no! Someone, stop that imbecile! How dare he lay his finger on my armor!”
Mordred swiftly issued some instructions.
Ahead of his gaze was a cargo that’d already advanced to the store, and a white-robed figure who ran towards it.
To suppress the curse, four priests were hired to guard the cargo. However, since they had to maintain the barrier, they couldn’t move. Therefore, instead of the priests, the adventurers who were stationed around the cargo were the ones who intercepted.
One of the hired adventurers unsheathed his weapon while calling out to that figure. The tension rose. The once cursed atmosphere was filled with hostility emitted by the surrounding people.
“Hey, I’m telling you to stop! If you get any closer, I’ll cut you down!”
“Wicked existence, disappear from this world!”
The adventurer clicked his tongue, before ruthlessly cutting down the man in white. The man, who didn’t show the slightest resistance, suffered a deep cut from his shoulder.
With spattering of blood, the man’s corpse tumbled across the street. At the same time, the bottle that he was holding fell and shattered on the ground with a bang.
What is that? Water?
“Hmph, how foolish. As if you can purify [Maximillian] with holy water.”
“No, that’s not it…”
Amidst the presence of curse drifting around, I sensed some hostility. Since it wasn’t directed at me, it was difficult to notice.
By the time I found out who it was, all the people who were hiding emerged all at once.
“Destroy the wicked existence!”
“Return the light to the world!”
“May the untarnished brilliance guide us!”
While shouting such incomprehensible lines, from the shadow of the building, across the street, and even amidst the crowd, several people rushed towards the cargo.
“W-who are these people!?”
“They’re a bunch of fanatics! They’re going to kill us all!”
The hired adventurers readied their weapons to intercept the assailants, who were dressed like ordinary citizens.
The sudden turn of events caused an uproar as the crowd began to scamper away. Despite the commotion, I didn’t feel like I was in any real danger, so I didn’t escape.
The raiders seemed to be amateurs with no combat experience. They were defeated by the hired adventurers one after another. In the first place, they were unarmed, and all they had was holy water for purification. At this rate, we should be able to quell down the suicide attack without any trouble.
“…Kurono, up there.”
Fiona suddenly tugged at my sleeve to get my attention. When I turned upwards, I saw a silhouette of a man on the roof of a four-story building next to the Mordred Weapon Firm. As if he was about to end himself, he put his roof on the edge of the roof.
“Did he really jump down!?”
It didn’t take long for gravity to claim him, and the man fell towards the cobblestone road a few dozen meters far below—
—I was mistaken.
Instead, the man fell on the cargo which had just stopped due to the clash against the raiders.
The man was aiming for the cargo from the beginning. Why did he choose such a reckless method that may result in his demise? Why did he make such a decision in the first place? I didn’t know—I didn’t want to know.
However, by taking advantage of the fight that broke out, he managed to reach the mithril container.
His body fell with a thud. At the same time, the sound of glass shattering could be heard. Unlike the others, the fallen man equipped himself with a lot of holy water.
“N-no! With such a large amount of holy water, the container will—”
In the next moment, I heard a sound of melting metal, which sounded eerily similar to Gluttony Octo’s acid breath.
Then, a loud, shrill scream echoed.
A large crack could be seen on the top of the mithril container, which should’ve been durable.
The copious amount of holy water must’ve caused a sudden reaction on the part that was corroded by the curse. It was almost akin to splashing liquid nitrogen onto a steel plate that’d been heated to the melting point.
“The container isn’t going to last!”
“Evacuate! We have to evacuate!”
The screams came from the priests who’d rise a barrier to contain the curse.
…Why are they afraid of a mere piece of equipment?
I naively thought so for a moment.
Certainly, the curse was enough to drive people insane, but if the priests continued to maintain the barrier, nothing should’ve happened.
However, the priests and the escorting adventurers frantically left the truck along with the panicked crowd. They even abandoned the captured raiders.
They acted as if the cursed armor went on a rampage.
“…What is that?”
Briefly, I could glimpse a black something from the crack in the container. Ordinary people might gloss over it, thinking it was just their imagination—but I definitely saw it.
It was a chain—a black one. A chain woven with black magic that looked almost similar as my [Bind Arts].
As I arrived to that conclusion, the black chains gushed out of the crack. The chain, which was two times thicker than my [Bind Arts], wriggled like a bloodthirsty hydra.
Yes, the chain definitely has a target.
It ran through the air, before wrapping itself around one of the captured assailants.
“U-uooorgh! Divine protection of the untarnished light, protect me!”
…Just in case, are you asking for help?
From that man, a scream that resembled the chant of a crusader was emitted.
“L-light, lend me—”
With that as his final words, the man was dragged into the container by the chain.
I didn’t even have to think about what happened to him.
“T-the [Tyrant’s Armor: Maximillian] has obtained a wearer…”
The crack that ran through the ceiling of the container suddenly expanded. In the blink of an eye, it ran through the wall as if torn apart by force from the inside. The entrance to the container, which should’ve been sealed shut, was opened with a harsh, high-pitched metallic sound.
Once again, the ancient tyrant stepped his foot on this world.
Slowly, just like the steps of a king, he calmly stepped out of the container. Even under the clear blue sky, the place where he stood was colored in darkness—giving me the illusion of the night sky where the new moon shone. Overwhelmingly dense dark magic pooled there.
However, I could see it clearly—the shape of the armor.
To put it simply, it was a jet-black full-plate mail. However, it wasn’t anything like the blackened heavy mail I donned during my battle against the Gluttony Octo. At the very least, the basic idea of the design was different from the heavy knight’s, which was made with the servant of the White God in mind.
However, it was neither luxurious, dignified, nor befitting for a king. Rather than awe, it incited pure terror. The jet-black armor boasted a terrifying shape that could be called the armor of the Demon King rather than that of a mere king.
Two large horns—akin to the demon Baphomet’s—grew from the helmet. Instead of a goat, the face guard was shaped like a skull, whose face was distorted into a wrathful look.
The chest, which boasted the most defense, had a shape reminiscent of ribs. Even when viewed as a whole, the motif of a human skeleton could be seen everywhere. However, the tips of the gauntlets and the feet were akin to the claw of a dragon. All five fingertips were adorned with sharp claws, but they were neither too long nor too big to hinder the use of the weapon. At the same time, it was probably sharp enough to puncture the human body with a mere punch.
The more I paid attention to details, the more I could read the hidden aggressiveness and ferocity.
Instead of admiring it with a watchful gaze like a critic, I was overwhelmed with emotions.
Yes, from the moment I saw that armor—
“—It’s so cool! I want it!”