The Black Demon King 469
Chapter 24: The Battle of Holy Night
Element Masters VS Sariel (4)
“Memory Burst”. That was the name of the bullet created to smash Sariel’s memory seal.
We had a total of four of these bullets, which had been made from Sloth-Gil’s fingers. Half for me and half for Simon, we had estimated to have a spare shot just in case, but… The sniper didn’t need to fire a second shot.
Perhaps Simon’s sniping position was the wreckage of the defeated Taurus. Due to Sariel’s appearance like a ballistic missile, that Taurus –which had ended up being the point of impact– had been destroyed in one shot, but Lily’s telepathy confirmed that the cockpit had somehow avoided a fatal hit.
I hadn’t given him any signal or anything since we started fighting Sariel, but Simon still did a pretty good job.
After that, all that was left to know was if the “Memory Burst” had been effective or not.
Her eyes were wide open, and her crimson pupils were swaying. Eventually she moaned in pain, so she wasn’t dead yet.
The reason for that was that she noticed the sniper right before being shot. That’s why she had turned her eyes away from me when we were fighting.
She must have figured that she had no time to dodge it, but still managed to focus her silvery aura around her head in an attempt to block it. Because of that, the bullet simply hit Sariel’s head very hard instead of going through it and causing a violent splash of blood.
The shock caused her body to tilt heavily towards the ground, but stopped right before coming in contact with the snowy ground. The next moment, her body flipped right like a bent spring being released.
It was an unreasonable motion from an unnatural position, but Sariel still pulled it off. Then, she held the cross spear in the sniper’s direction.
Though I screamed, I could do little else to prevent Sariel’s intense and unrivaled throwing. All I could see at the edge of my line of sight was an explosion of white light. I had no means to confirm Simon’s safety.
Still, we had anticipated such a counterattack could happen. Since it had been a single attack, Sophie should have been able to protect Simon.
Therefore, my biggest concern at the moment was that Sariel had managed to instantly instantly spot a sniper at a far distance, and was still strong enough to throw her spear all the way there.
Had the “Memory Burst” not worked…?
“Ngh… Gaah… Aaaaahh…”
Sariel’s body leaned forward again, and an even more painful-sounding groan escaped from her lips. She looked like a drunk person who was unable to remain standing still as she swayed around and her white bare feet danced around erratically on the snowy land.
Beyond doubt, the “Memory Burst” seemed to have been effective.
At last. At long last, we had managed to destroy Sariel’s memory seal, which was as good as landing a fatal blow on her…
My field of vision instantly turned red.
No, I hadn’t been stabbed. It wasn’t blood, but it wasn’t fire, either. The red landscape flickering in front of me was nothing but the crimson sky of Purgatory as I had seen it a while ago.
“Is… Is this a ‘Back Door’…?”
The next thing that came before my eyes was the sight of a beautiful woman with sharp eyes, disheveled black long hair, and a furious expression on her face as she dashed forward with a sword in each hand. This was undoubtedly my own body in Exelion mode. The only one who had seen this form in battle was none other than Sariel herself.
The scenes that were flickering in my head one after another were the fractured memories of things seen from her perspective.
A “Back Door” refers to both its technical meaning, which is to read the memories and emotions of someone who used a telepathic ability by hijacking them, and a phenomenon in which the wavelength of telepathy goes haywire and the emotions and memories of both parties get unintentionally mixed up.
I was able to calmly judge that what I was experiencing was a “Back Door” because it had already happened to me before during the fight against Lust-Rose. When I was trapped inside that lewd dream that’s just too embarrassing to be reminded of, a “Back Door” was triggered when Hitsugi and the “Evil Eater” forcibly broke through Lust-Rose’s illusion. That then led me to discover the secrets of Lust-Rose’s abilities.
And this time, Sariel’s secrets were about to be exposed too.
“Ku… rono… Mao… I’ll… K-Kill… you…”
The reason why those words leaked from her mouth at that time must have been that she was in a state of confusion, unable to distinguish the present from the past.
The scene that came to my mind was me glaring at her with my “Kubidan” in hand. Sariel’s memory had gone all the way back until the moment just before we started to fight.
It seemed that “Memory Burst” released memories starting from the present and going back in chronological order. I was watching a playback of recent events, but by going back one day, two days, a week before, then a month, then a year, and so on, I would eventually get to the moment when Sariel’s memory was sealed.
And at that moment, her consciousness could be greatly affected, and her ego could be incapacitated or even completely destroyed.
But that didn’t mean I had to just sit tight until that happened. While being bombarded by fragments of Sariel’s memories, I still managed to not lose sight of the girl standing before me, and threw my black swirling fist at her.
“A-All troops… W-With… draw… I… I… Ahh–”
At last, my attack was a direct hit on Sariel.
The pile bunker couldn’t break through her aura, but it still exploded into Sariel’s pure white abdomen. Her little body danced like a leaf with the impact of the explosion unleashed by the attack’s black magical power.
As if Sariel had become nothing but a frail little girl, Sariel didn’t even try to fall into a defensive position, and instead passively rolled on the snow.
I was sure I was looking more like a devil than ever, even than when I took Linfelt hostage. Because I was hitting an underdressed beautiful girl with all my strength.
But this was my chance. At last, at long, long last, I had driven that Apostle to the wall.
I didn’t care what anyone would think of me. I had to do this.
I was about to defeat the Apostle.
So go ahead, take a look. Everyone in Ils Village and everyone in the Adventurer’s Alliance. At this very moment, I was going to deliver the final blow to one of our enemies.
“Spada… has defeated… the Crusader Army… Send… a rescue… p…”
Was that a recent memory as well? Sariel was speaking with a green-haired handsome young man who looked like a general in front of a table with a grandiose meal.
When that scene disappeared from my mind, I saw Sariel lying there on her back, exposing her body covered only with white underwear and looking far away into the distance, her arms and legs helplessly sprawled on the ground, like an angel fallen from grace.
I jumped at Sariel with a more violent eagerness than that of a thug driven by their beastly desires.
Right as I lifted my fist and was about to bury it into her face once again while she was still staring off into the distance, her right hand moved.
In less than a blink of an eye, the cross spear had returned to her hand. It was so fast that it made me wonder if it really could be recalled by reverse summoning so quickly.
Before I realized, the spear was once again right in front of me. I couldn’t react to the fact that its tip was already pointing at me.
“Guooooohhh! D-Damn it… Can I still fight…?”
I got stabbed directly in the guts. Without my coat, all I had left for protection was a shirt and a jacket. While they were both very sturdy, they didn’t have any significant defensive properties.
I was stabbed pretty deep, and after somersaulting away over the snowy field, I quickly reached into the bag containing “Fairy’s Remedy” and managed to do some minimum first aid.
By the time I got back on my feet, the bleeding had stopped. When she saw this, Sariel also somehow stood up. Instead of using her spear as a walking support, her legs were quivering like those of a newborn fawn.
“I-I’ll… I’ll draw… a magic circle… here…”
A huge fortress standing tall on a snowy field. On the other side, I could see the snowy Galahad Mountains. I had seen a landscape like this before somewhere.
That probably was a Crusader stronghold, which must have been built in the ruins of Alsace.
I threw that scene away and stared straight at Sariel. As for her, her crimson eyes were shaking so much that it seemed that she couldn’t stand the shock of overflowing memories, but her gaze still caught me.
Sariel still had the power to fight back. It could be far too dangerous to challenge her head-on again… But I had to get answers out of her. It may be more exhausting over time, but if it was only exhaustion, I could recover from it.
The seal of memory hadn’t been completely destroyed yet, but it was still quite disturbing at this point. This could be my first and last chance.
There was no better time to end this. But I wanted to have at least one weapon.
I had dropped “Kubidan” when I took off my coat. I had also dropped my “Evil Eater” in Purgatory, and when Sariel stabbed me in the shoulder, the shock was so great that it caused me to let go of my “Dual Eagle”. And as much as I wanted Hitsugi to collect them for me, creating tentacles would cost me far more magical power than I could spare.
Apparently, all I could really rely on at this point was my enhanced body…
“–Ignis Fortis Sagitta”
At that time, a golden flash instantly ran past me. It had been just for a brief moment, but the heat was so intense it felt as if half of my body had been scorched.
However, the burning spear wasn’t meant for me, but for Sariel.
There was no doubt that it had been her who had come to my aid at the best possible time.
As I looked over my shoulder, I could see Fiona, who was still in demon form, holding her “Ains Bloom”.
For a brief moment, my eyes met those devilish eyes that harbored a mysterious glow. Her voice didn’t reach my ears, but her feelings were conveyed.
She had probably exhausted the last of her magical power. Fiona slowly collapsed as if her knees had given way, and the two crystal horns protruding from her head became shining particles and scattered. Her transformation into a demon had ended.
She would be fine as long as Lily’s Living Dead made sure to get her out to safety.
I thanked Fiona from a distance, and took an encouraging step forward. The rest was up to me.
I turned to Sariel once again. Her right arm was no more.
Perhaps Sariel had been unable to dodge the golden “Ignis Fortis Sagitta” unleashed by Fiona. Her right arm had evaporated from the middle of its upper side, and the only thing that fell on the muddy ground where the snow had melted was her cross-shaped spear. Its beautiful silver glitter had been covered with mud, as if God’s majesty had left it.
“Our God… who art… in Heaven…”
Sariel mumbled to herself while staring straight at me, as if she had forgotten that her spear was right there waiting to be picked up. Was that a prayer of the Crusaders?
The scenery that came to my mind was that of the inside of a large church with a dazzling white glow.
“Forgive us… our trespasses…”
The ceiling was as high as I could see, and the room itself was also very wide. It was a huge room filled with white light where I could feel a sense of liberation.
But there was no one else in this room.
“Deliver us… from evil…”
Sariel was praying alone.
She was staring at a cold, inorganic symbol of a white cross
I was also staring at it. Sariel’s face and the white cross overlapped.
“…I wish for nothing but God’s blessing.”
With the last of my strength, I raised my fist.
I raised my fist towards the Seventh Apostle Sariel. And beyond her, towards the White God, who would look down on us from Heaven.
They would all soon feel the Demon King’s fist.
Summoning people from another world. Human experimentation. The destruction of Ils by fire. The annihilation of the adventurers. The flames of anger ignited the hatred that had accumulated in the depths of my soul.
The dark chaos swirled, and a crimson aura colored the Demon King’s fist.
I punched the lights out of Sariel’s face.
It was a perfect sense of impact that would ensure the attack’s target would remember this fist. This final blow had been poured with all of my remaining magical power, releasing it in a single point.
The scene of holy prayer was no more, leaving behind the figure of Sariel flying before bouncing on the snow like a ragdoll. Her body rolled in a straight line, whipping up a spray of snow as she went.
“Haaah… Haaah… H-How do you… like that…?”
Sweat was dripping down my face. My vision was flickering in and out, and I felt as if I was about to lose consciousness.
It was a symptom of having completely ran out of magical power.
But it still wasn’t over. I couldn’t allow my knees to give way yet.
“T-The final b-blow… Hitsugi… g-get my blade…”
Her voice came out in an unusually calm tone.
Limping, I dragged myself towards the point where Sariel had fallen.
At the same time, a thread-like tentacle that was so thin that it could have been cut away from my shadow at my feet stretched out in search of the “Absolute Broadsword – Kubidan” that had been lying around somewhere.
Sariel had probably either fainted or had sustained so much damage that she could no longer get back up.
However, I couldn’t rest easy until I delivered the final blow myself. My opponent was an Apostle. I would have to cut off her head, pierce her heart, and burn the rest of her body to ashes.
I needed a blade to finish the job.
“…This is the end for you.”
In my half-conscious state, I realized that I was standing before Sariel, who was just lying there on the snow. Shortly after that, I felt a familiar handle in my right hand. Hitsugi had searched for my “Kubidan” and brought it back to my hand.
I could finally put an end to this.
“Go to hell, Sariel.”
I clasped both of my hands tightly around the cursed blade’s grip and raised it skyward before bringing it down on the sleeping Apostle’s neck…
“–Hmm, magic, martial arts, I’ve taught you almost everything you’ll ever need, but I’m sure I don’t remember teaching you something that might come in handy if you ever need to retreat, Sariel.”
That old man was standing before my eyes.
“Bishop Ars was concerned about your fighting style… He said you were too enthusiastic.”
The appearance of the old man with white hair and white beard was no different from what had already been engraved in my memory.
“But oh well, even though you are an Apostle, there may come a time where you might even need this.”
The cold blue eyes, devoid of all human emotion, looked down on me again.
“After all, you are the weakest among all Apostles.”
I knew the name of this old man.
“We have prepared this so that it will automatically activate whenever the link between you and your ‘Grand Cross’ spear is broken.”
This old man’s name was…
“It’s an emergency retreat spell, ‘Heaven’s Gate’. I hope you never have to use it.”
By the time I shouted his name in anger, that old geezer’s face wasn’t there anymore.
All I had left was an incredibly disgusting feeling in my chest.
Bishop Judas. I heard his name from Cyprus. He was the mastermind behind the “Holy Soldier Plan” in which people from another world, just like me, would be summoned to this world so that they could do those hellish experiments on us.
To think that I would see his face at this very moment… And what did he say in this memory?
“Emergency retreat spell…?”
At that moment, something unusual happened, as if to affirm my words.
“What!? The spear…?”
A few tens of meters away, the “Grand Cross”, a spear that should have fallen onto the muddy ground at the point where I hit Sariel, was instead floating by itself. It was just like when I used Sword Arts to command my weapons as if telekinetically.
And the next moment, the spear unleashed a shining white light.
“…Tsk, is that the ‘Heaven’s Gate’!?”
When the flash of light subsided, there was no spear to be found, and a gate was floating in the air in its place.
It was about 3 meters tall and 1 meter wide. There were no walls or floors around it, but its presence alone looked strangely huge.
The plain-white gate slowly opened its huge double doors.
There was no sky on the other side of the gate. Instead, something like a pure white mist, which resembled the aura of white magical power, swirled violently and blinked repeatedly. When going through this door, it would surely shine as if you had arrived in Heaven itself.
An emergency retreat spell, “Heaven’s Gate”. If we take Judas’ words at face value, it would be something that could be used to escape in a pinch. It would be a spell that existed solely to allow these overwhelmingly powerful Apostles run away to safety if something went wrong.
Gimme a break…
I brought down my blade. I had to kill her before she could get a chance to–
Sariel dodged my attack.
My eyes, which were burning with rage, turned to meet hers, but they were still completely white and cold. She was still unconscious. And yet, she moved away from my swing.
She had jumped up like some kind of spring-loaded doll and dodged by rolling away. When my blade went down, there was no neck to be found there.
I put all of my strength into my already exhausted body and forced a second attack with my blade. This time, it was a sideways slash. I had no magical power or even strength left to unleash a Black Calm, but this cursed blade was strong enough by itself to cut Sariel in half if it reached her.
However, Sariel managed to easily dodge even that as well, almost as if she had seen it coming. And before I realized, it was too late.
Sariel was already running towards the “Heaven’s Gate”.
She was fast. I didn’t know if I could catch up with her. At that speed, Sariel would definitely beat me to the gate.
Things weren’t looking good for me. After all this trouble, after having come this far, she was going to slip through my fingers so easily… But I couldn’t give up, not yet!
“I won’t let you escaaaaape!!”
I launched, or should I say “threw”, an attack at Sariel, who was running as fast as she could.
I threw my “Absolute Broadsword – Kubidan” forward with every little ounce of strength I could muster. I aimed for Sariel’s defenseless back, since she was running away in a straight line without even looking back.
The cursed blade flew towards Sariel while spinning at high speed, making a horrifying shriek as it tore through the sky. It had enough power, my aim had been accurate. It was in a direct hit course.
But then, at the last possible moment, Sariel jumped. She floated in the air about 3 meters above the ground and towards the gate. Rather than trying to avoid my attack, she had simply jumped to get to her destination.
However, that didn’t mean my attack didn’t connect.
A scream escaped from my mouth as I broke into a dash.
Instead of cutting through Sariel’s back, the blade I threw had cut off her slender white legs. Sariel’s left leg was amputated from the middle of the thigh, releasing a torrent of fresh blood. Her right leg had not fallen, but the blade had reached the bone, cutting so deep that the leg could come off at any moment from the middle of its thigh. Blood also fell from its open wound like a waterfall.
After being caught mid air by my blade and getting her legs cut off by it, Sariel dropped to the ground. She seemed no longer in control of her own body, and crashed head first in the most unsightly possible way.
I threw myself on her. And despite having lost both legs, Sariel got back up.
To be more precise, the gate was pulling her towards itself.
A vortex-like aura came through the door, and when I got a good look at it, I noticed it was turning into a thin rope that coiled itself around Sariel’s bloodied body.
Surrounded by the aura released from the gate, Sariel floated upwards as if free from the yoke of gravity.
My stretched out arms finally got hold of Sariel’s body.
However, Sariel was already floating in the air. The best I could do was to cling onto her as hard as I could so as to not let go of her.
My body was so deprived of strength and magical power that it was shaking. In this unreasonable position, it was impossible to launch an attack strong enough to kill Sariel.
Her body was trapped in that aura, and I was clinging onto her with everything I had left. And we were both going up. There was no way to stop it.
I wondered if I should let go. If I could endure letting her escape. But I still tenaciously held onto her for dear life.
“–No! You can’t! Kurono!!”
The voice that reached my ears made my grip a little bit weaker.
Far off into the distance, I could see Lily in her tiny form, running herself almost out of breath.
“You can’t! Kurono, don’t gooooooooooo!!”
My strength was beginning to falter.
Lily was calling out my name.
It would be alright for her if I were to let go of Sariel. Lily would forgive me.
I broke my promise after all. Right at the last moment, I ended up doing something rash.
Laughing, I use the last of my strength to hug Sariel’s little body even tighter. The holy light emitted from the other side of the gate wrapped around both of us.
There was no turning back now.
“Okay, I’ll chase you all the way to Heaven… Sariel…”