Black Demon King
531 Kurono VS Maximilian
“…Kurono, by any chance, are you going up against that?”
“Well, uh, it’s—… How do I say this, I mean, it’s not like we can just leave it alone?”
When Fiona’s cold stare pierced me, I rushed to explain myself. I wasn’t lying though, well, not entirely.
“…We have absolutely nothing to do with the rampaging armor, though? But if that’s what Kurono wants, then it’s fine with me.”
“M-my bad, thanks…”
“As a girlfriend, it’s only natural for me to do my best for my boyfriend.”
I was honestly amazed at Fiona, who could say that with a straight face.
As we blushed and shared such a corny exchange, the crowd had vanished. Everyone scattered like ants.
…The people of Spada sure are fleet-footed.
“I’m sorry, Fiona. If possible, please refrain from destroying the armor.”
“…Cause’ it’s really cool?”
“Well, there’s that… But if we didn’t retrieve it safely, it’s unlikely for Mordred to reimburse us for our trouble.”
I had no intention of doing free work for such a dangerous fella. A job of this extent wasn’t worth it without equal compensation.
“In that case, I don’t think I can help much. Do you have any plan?”
“For the time being, I’ll try to see if I can suppress it with blackening.”
Since the plan was to capture it while causing the most minimum damage, I should consider myself lucky that Fiona even agreed to lend a hand.
“Alright, let’s see what we can do.”
“Okay. However, if I judge it to be dangerous, I’ll obliterate that armor.”
I made up my mind to watch my step, before advancing towards the cursed armor. I wore the slumbering gray glove on my left hand, and summoned my reliable companions from within the darkness.
“Feels good to be back.”
The Cursed Machete adorned my right hand, while Evil Eater adorned my left—
—armed with two cursed blades, my battle preparations were completed.
…Although, if I were to be nitpicky, I felt somewhat uneasy wearing an attire that had no defensive power. In contrast, my “opponent” had no weapons whatsoever. It was like a battle of the fiercest spear and the mightiest shield…
“Hey, the cool armor over there, won’t you let me wear you?”
The armor—Maximilian—was bathed in horrific magical powers that made my hair stand. It seemed about to pounce at any moment—and yet, I still called out to it.
Apparently, it could understand me.
The armor slowly turned to face me and, to my surprise, replied;
“Show me… your… might…”
“Then, it’s battle as usual?”
—Well then, let me set it up first.
It was my first fight ever since I’d returned to Spada. In other words, it’d be the first time for me to test out the fifth Divine Protection in an actual battle.
While I’d yet mastered the pseudo-wind attribute, I practiced the basics. At the very least, to the extent I could conjure wind without chanting.
I could now conjure a small mass of wind. Imagine a turbulence swirling in a balloon. Yes, a balloon. Thus, if stimulated a little, it’d burst. Nevertheless, it had simple directivity.
Then, I manifested something on the ground, right in front of my heel. I couldn’t see it since it was behind me, but there was probably a thin, black smoke-like gas swirling around.
In short, it was akin to a cushion used for a crouching start in athletics, and it also acted as a booster that gave explosive propulsion from the first step.
When I lightly pressed my soles against the ground, the black smoke propeller exploded. The compressed gust followed the pre-incorporated method of propulsion, and was released in front of wind pressure.
My remodeled and enhanced leg strength was the same as before, but if I used this, I could accelerate twice as fast. It was probably an acceleration force that no ordinary people could perceive.
With such speed, I ran through a short distance of about 5 meters, and by the time I arrived in front of my opponent, exactly a second had passed in the world.
First off, I’d sever the elbow joint and seal its means of attack. With my two swords, I could slash off both of its limbs at once.
However, my dual strike only pierced nothing. A moment ago, I did see a slight movement from the armor.
The armor had teleported to my right. From the start, I knew it was neither teleportation magic nor an illusionary transformation.
Then, on the surface of the jet-black armor, crimson streaks akin to the ones on my Cursed Hatchet began to emerge. At the same time, a venomous yet vivid line of light flourished on its aura, which was akin to a bottomless abyss.
Immediately, my focus shifted to its back. From behind him, soundlessly, bright red particles began to burst. Seeing that, I realized something.
“…Does it have a booster similar to Taurus?”
A terrifying ancient weapon that destroyed the colossal and unparalleled wall of Galahad. Shining particles streamed from the back of the armor, just like the magic booster that powered the steel body of Taurus to fly and move at high speed in the air. It wasn’t something that could be re-created using modern magic technology.
Although, in the case of Taurus, since he used normal magic, it had a blue phosphorescence. But in this guy’s case, it glowed red due to being fueled by black magic.
“—Well, it isn’t just armor, but also ancient—Whoa!”
At that moment, the figure of the tyrannical armor, Maximilian, blurred. In the next moment, it was already in front of me.
I narrowly dodged its sharp, piercing attack, which reminded me of Sariel’s stinger.
What a tremendous speed…
Next time, I should use Over-Accel to make sure that I was safe. That mobility was too dangerous.
To avoid the piercing tendril, I tilted my body to the side. Even in the half-collapsed position, I was able to unleash my usual Black Calm. While I had no intention of destroying that armor, I still used martial arts because I believed in its defensive power.
I hadn’t landed a single blow yet, but I know. If I’d wanted to split that armor in two, I’d have to wait for the perfect opportunity to use Black Calm. However, if I only intended to repel it, then a normal martial art should suffice.
However, I didn’t get the heavy response I expected.
Maximilian flew right behind, leaving only a crimson gleam of an afterimage. The tip of my Cursed Hatchet didn’t even scratch the ribbed chest armor.
“So, you can also spin around.”
How troublesome. It wasn’t only fast when moving in a straight line, but also when flying backwards. Even though it was powered by a booster, it could fly left and right as if ignoring inertia.
Even though the armor seemed twice as heavy as regular heavy armor, the movement was as fluid as a swordsman or an assassin.
My initial plan was to overtake him using blackening and a heavy blow, but… If I didn’t do something to seal its movement, I wouldn’t be able to deal a critical hit.
“—Sword Arts: Blast Blade”
While it wouldn’t deal much damage, it’d block some of its movement. With that in mind, I summoned the sword that’d been replenished from my Shadow Gate. I didn’t have time to conjure 10, so I only took out four.
As I took out some weapon from the dimension magic, I went to its left blind spot and rushed straight in.
As the armor turned around, I slammed the explosive magic sword onto him. But suddenly, when I was about to close our distance—
—the swords didn’t explode.
No way. Since I was directly controlling it, it was absolutely impossible for the [Blast Blade] to malfunction.
There were mainly two causes that prevented it from exploding. One was when it was hit by a strong drain like Ursula’s, and the other if the link was severed.
This time, it was probably the latter.
In other words, Maximilian had caught the flying Sword Arts.
On the verge of detonation, Maximilian had accelerated and caught the two blades that were supposed to hit him on the chest.
Following that, two more blades flew towards him from both directions. Both of his hands were full. As such, the two remaining swords were supposed to hit him—
—However, he unfurled his jet-black chain. The same one that forcibly captured one of the raiders, before trapping him inside the armor.
Did the armor come with a special ejection port for the chain or something?
The chains poured out from behind his shoulders like a snake waiting for its prey.
The movement was as precise as the armor itself. By the time the jingling sound reached my ears, my magic swords had been caught by his chains.
In this way, instead of sealing his movement, I’d splendidly give my opponent a weapon.
Of course, simply catching it would detonate the Blast Blades. However, since none of that happened, I could safely assume that he’d overwritten my blackening with his own.
Only after I’d managed to survive the attacks of the tyrant’s armor, one of which required me to use Over-Accel, did I finally understand—
“—What kind of power is that!?”
Then, there was a blow to the left, powered by the crimson booster. While I managed to block it with my two swords, the impact was heavy—so much that I staggered backwards. Only half a step, though.
Luckily, it passed, and there was no follow up attack. However, it didn’t seem to have any intention of stopping. Instead, it stopped before reversing. It was resetting its stance.
His blackening must’ve been stronger than me. After all, the swords he stolen from me were now dyed red instead of black. Rather than some ordinary blades enhanced with additional magic, it shone like Force Edge. When he swung it, I could somehow hear the buzzing…
As if by change, the two entwined chains had undergone similar changes. They encircled my swords by the hilt, and poised their crimson blades towards me.
He was about to use his chain to swing the swords.
…Are we similar?
After all, I had once combined Hitsugi and Evil Eater, resulting in a technique called [Fatal Fury Sprint].
In addition to his strength and speed, Maximilian used an unconventional four-sword style, in which he’d wield two swords while also attacking with his now bladed chains. As an added bonus, it could also overwrite my Sword Arts.
It’s a lot tougher than expected…
—But I’m not going to give up, not yet.
It’d take time and effort, but as originally planned, I’d blacken the opponent after depriving him of his resistance. First, I had to destroy the stolen four swords, followed by its limbs. If I could crush even one of its limbs, the outcome of the battle would be decided. Besides, the swords he’d stolen from me were just regular blades. No matter how much he enhanced them, they’d wear out soon.
“C’mon, I’ll take you on.”
Thus, Maximilian moved once again.
His chains flew at me. The crimson blades lunged towards me like some wired homing missiles. One rushed towards my neck, and the other towards my leg. It was trying to maim my leg. Each trajectory flew sideways.
This is more of a chain-sickle than a missile…
“Double Black Calm.”
To counterattack, I intercepted one of the chains with Cursed Hatchet, and the other using Evil Eater. As expected, the blades weren’t durable. When my cursed weapons—enhanced with martial arts—hit them from the front, the crimson blades shattered. For a moment, it seemed like blood was splattering.
Of course, I didn’t have time to admire such a view.
“Here I come!”
Without wasting a second, I swung the Evil Eater. With the blade unfolded to the brim, I thrusted it as if piercing my opponent. The wolf immediately bit the chain which held the blades. I sandwiched both chains at the same time before Maximilian could retract them.
After that, I immediately pulled the handle of Evil Eater, forcibly dragging Maximilian towards me. Not an easy opponent, he didn’t even stagger.
I intended to take advantage of the momentum to hit him with [Black Calm] using my Cursed Hatchet, and sever the two remaining swords at once.
As long as the chains were still held by me, he wouldn’t be able to evade easily using his booster—or so I thought.
“—Did you cut them off!?”
With a high-pitched metallic sound, the chains came off his shoulders. The black chains, which were disconnected from the main body, became a mere matter. Caught in the yoke of gravity, they collapsed on the ground just like that.
Since it no longer functioned as a kind of restraint, I hurriedly released the chain from the mouth of Evil Eater.
I could barely execute my plan. Using the brief window of time, I tried to unleash Double Black Calm on Maximilian with my swords.
Just when my attack was about to connect, he suddenly changed course and flew sideways.
Did he see it coming?
No, no, he wasn’t trying to avoid me. From the beginning, his intention wasn’t me.
—This is bad…
I immediately noticed his intentions.
I didn’t know if he could instantly rebuild his chains, or if there were spares from the beginning. Anyway, new black chains soon emerged from the ejection ports on both of his shoulders.
Since I didn’t fire any Sword Arts, there shouldn’t be any more weapons for him to steal.
At least not from me.
However, there was a huge armory towering behind me.
—Yes, the Mordred Weapons Firm. The largest armory in Sparda.
Maximilian was smart enough to realize his need to procure weapons. At this point, he was no longer just a cursed armor, but a veteran warrior with a unique personality.
This is bad. Seriously, this is bad.
I couldn’t possibly handle a fully-equipped Maximilian?
But by the time I realized that, it was already too late. Considering his booster, I couldn’t match his speed, either. Not even with Speed Boost.
—Then, should I use it?
The fifth Divine Protection I obtained after subjugating Gluttony Octo.
At that time, a bright red lotus unfurled before my field of vision. The scorching fireball left a trail of black smoke, and it was akin to salamander’s breath.
The fireball overtook the galloping, steadfast armor, and was the first to reach Mordred Weapons Firm.
There was a loud explosion, followed by a rattling sound of a collapsing building.
“Thank you, Fiona.”
I glanced at Fiona, who was as expressionless as always.
Still, she, who watched from the side, must be the first to notice it. By destroying the entrance, she could prevent the armor from getting inside. Still, to destroy the sturdy front entrance with a single shot… what an impressive firepower.
Even Maximilian halted at the brutal interference. Due to that, I could catch up with him.
“This time, I won’t let you go—”
Maximilian braced his two swords, while I slashed forward with all my might. The four blades intersected in an instant.
The fragile blades, wielded by the guy who couldn’t swing in perfect posture, were broken in an instant by my cursed blades. The shattering noises of the blades were drowned by the collapsing sound of the armory.
I didn’t waste my chance to perform a follow-up attack. However, Maximilian managed to evade it with its extreme reflex.
Maximilian proceeded to hold my blades using his hands.
Usually, the swords would cut into the opponent’s palms, but this time, my opponent had formidable armor. A metallic sound echoed, and sparks scattered at the last minute. We were clashing against each other.
I pushed against the reinforced full body armor, which harbored strong malice. Our power clashed, but the battle ended in an instant.
Suddenly, the back booster of Maximilian roared. From behind the armor, crimson light poured, granting him with force that no humans could withstand.
Not letting myself be overwhelmed, I felt a floating sensation at my feet.
When it came to a test of strength, I was somewhat more confident now. I couldn’t afford to lose so easily when I recalled the cute demon king’s face.
Just to stop my blades, Maximilian had to land on the ground.
This is great.
Thus, I began to push back against Maximilian, who had bolstered its strength using the booster.
It was heavy—but only at first. But with every second, I was gaining momentum. No, I was getting stronger. Nothing could stop me.
Then, I started dashing. I continued to push the armor—which weighed hundreds of kilograms, or possibly, even a ton—as if it was a mere scarecrow, before rushing forward at full speed.
With that momentum, we crashed into the towering stone walls of the Mordred Weapons Firm.
For a moment, it was as if the world had been turned upside down. What was reflected in the corner of my vision was the gray color of the collapsing building and billowing dust.
I felt a certain response. I wasn’t patient enough to wait for his counterattack while muttering, “I did it.”
Now then, the real things began.
“—Stay calm and be mine—[Bind Arts: Blackening]”
Neither I nor the armor would let go of our weapons. So, I conjured a pair of tentacles and made contact. Thus, the erosion of blackening began.
“Goh, oh… oh…”
From the depths of the skull-faced helmet, an eerie voice resounded, akin to that of a corpse groaning in agony in the depths of Hell.
So far, so good.
Then, I felt something strange.
“Ugh, you’re still resisting?”
The two tentacles I made for blackening were similar to the two extra-thick tentacles I devised to suppress the Crime Eater when I fought against Cyprus as I retreated from Alsace. It was as if two new arms had sprouted from both of my shoulders, trying to strangle the neck of the armor.
Just like Sariel from the past, I was putting pressure on the enemy both physically and magically as if trying to break its neck… However, it seemed that I suffered more this time.
“This guy is a bit dangerous—…”
The blackening wasn’t progressing as expected. Apparently, I couldn’t overwhelm him with just my magical power. I could feel his resistance.
Perhaps, it was even more difficult since Maximilian consisted of more materials than a mere full-body armor. Even I had to stay all night to blacken an entire adventurer’s guild.
Just when I was prepared for more exhaustion, his counterattack began.
As his dark eye sockets lit up with a fierce red light, I could feel that the magic flow was being reversed. It turned out that I wasn’t merely imagining it, as my tentacles began to be stained red.
This is bad, I’m about to be overwhelmed…
Am I not strong enough to dominate him?
Thinking about it, I’d acquired cursed weapons by relying on brute force, along with my abundance of black magic and resistance to curses. As it was, the curse was simply more powerful than me, hence why I lost. It wasn’t like I could purify the curse like some priest, either.
His crimson erosion had already progressed to the midsections of my tentacles. From there, a myriad of blood vessel-like lines sprouted, crawling towards my flesh.
If things went on like this, I’d be taken over by the curse.
Perhaps because of having a win streak against cursed opponents, I’d completely underestimated him. Just like with magic attributes, weaknesses and compatibility weren’t absolute.
“I’m… the king…”
I couldn’t tell if it was telepathy or simply his voice. My five senses had begun to malfunction. In fact, my vision had gotten so blurry, I almost couldn’t make him out. Red flickered in my vision, and I felt like I was going to lose consciousness at any moment.
“Be… my servant…”
Even though the voice was so fleeting and inaudible, it blared in my head.
“Offer me your loyalty… and dedication…”
For a moment, I almost acquiesced.
It feels similar…
Ah, yes, it was akin to the time I was still wearing an Angel Ring, in which the amount of time I could maintain my consciousness gradually decreased.
It didn’t hurt. It wasn’t that bad of an offer, anyway. As If I was falling into a deep slumber, I gradually stopped resisting.
“Be my… knight…”
Even so, for it to ask for my loyalty as a knight… Is it an allegation against me, who’d just made Sariel my slave?
It’d be ridiculous if I succumbed to the curse and died there. Was it my comeuppance for enslaving someone?
—But, I didn’t care if God didn’t forgive me. I may be lost and anxious. Still, it was the result of my choice, I had no regrets.
Hence why, I didn’t need the reassurance of being ruled by someone else right now.
“Who, are you—”
“—Who’s going to obey you!?”
At that time, an unexpected voice echoed.
It was definitely not an auditory hallucination. The voice of a little girl rang in my head.
Yes, it drowned even the cursed voice that lured me into the dark abyss.
“—My master will never bow down to anyone! He’s my pride as a maid!”
There was no question of who it was. I was also not surprised.
Ah, you’re finally back.
Only a sense of relief spread warmly in my chest.
“The Cursed Black Chain [Iron Cage], Super Black-Haired Maid, Hitsugi—at your service!”
At that moment, the voice of the cursed tyrant could no longer be heard.
“Ah, welcome back, Hitsugi, I’m glad you’re back…”
“I’m truly sorry for taking so long, Master.”
A rare, sharp, and serious tone.
Did she grow up a little?
“Of course! Hitsugi didn’t just roll around during her free time! Instead, I endured the unbearable pain of not being able to see my Master—”
“—Let’s save that for later. For now, can you help me keep this guy in check?”
“Of course, Master! Leave it to Hitsugi!”
Along with the nostalgic and reliable voice, I’d regained all my five senses. My once vague consciousness was now fully awakened.
I didn’t feel like giving in anymore.
“Let’s go! Bind Arts!”
With life, black chains sprang out of the glove, which had regained its lustrous jet-black hue, like a wave of fury, rushing towards Maximilian, who let out an eerie roar before my eyes—