Year A.A. 2012. March.
Kael was confident that there wouldn’t be anybody who would summon a demonic being to borrow its magic in this era.
He, who had been sleeping peacefully, blankly stared at the youthful girl who was looking down at him after calling him into a summoning circle.
Her height was short; maybe as tall as his waist. However, her big eyes, dyed pure silver, were bright and deep, and her nose was well-defined.
Her clean, white, tender looking skin was touched with a splash of pink, just like that of a white peach. Her young body was innocent and cute, but that wasn’t all there was. The elegance that emanated from her slender limbs, soft fingers, and delicate posture was truly endearing.
In particular, her long, silver hair that barely brushed the ground glistened stunningly, as if it was made out of the pure rays of the crescent moon, with shards of stars sprinkled atop of it.
She was already so noble with her natural beauty alone that the light sky blue silk dress that she wore, and the diamond necklace that decorated the top of her chest were but a minimalistic addition, despite them seeming professionally crafted.
As he stared at the girl, who possessed such youthful innocence and elegance that shamed even the gemstones and, on top of that, sophistication that made the stars seem closer than they were, Kael wondered blankly.
What was happening? Was this a dream? Or was it real?
‘Ah, it must be a dream.’
He was asleep. Therefore, this must be a dream. There was no way that such a beautiful girl would exist in real life. Besides, there was no reason for a noble human to go as far as to summon a lowly demon in this time and age. Humans had the ability to imitate the majority of heavenly technology, although the god’s own divine devices were an exception. It made no sense for one to make a deal with a demon, putting one’s life on the line and gambling with their own soul. Who would trade their life and soul for something that was being sold by a neighbor for a penny?
Even so, a dream featuring such a beautiful girl…not bad at all. He didn’t know why he was having such a dream, but he decided to enjoy the sight like he would enjoy a piece of artwork. It was pleasant to the eyes. The one thing that could be improved was her age; he would have preferred it if it was an older version of her. She currently had the beauty of a flower that had yet to bloom, and although it did present him with high expectations of her future, it was still kind of disappointing that she wasn’t of a suitable age for him. Perhaps he would have a continuation of this dream on the following night.
As he indulged in a the mixture of delight and disappointment, the girl opened her mouth. Her voice was clearer and more pure than the echo of the Rainbow Crystal Bell of the heaven’s proud Central Temple. It added auditory pleasure to the visual delight, creating a more complete impact.
“Serve me. I am thy master.”
“Ah. Um…… WHAT?!”
Kael, who had been entranced by her voice, instantly returned to his senses.
“This is the proof of our contract, fulfilled by following the ancient laws. The marking of a sacrifice that is offered to the six demon kings.”
The girl held out her hand, revealing the crest of the ‘Three Swords’ engraved on it. Those three swords, glowing softly, were crisscrossed over each other. One pointed horizontally, one vertically, and the last symbolized altitude. It was, without a doubt, the symbol that signified Kael, himself.
At the same time, it was the symbol that signified that she had become his sacrifice, in return for the control over his power.
Demon side of the contract served the summoner as their master, and used all of their powers to abide by the summoner’s orders. In return, the summoner offered their body, life, and soul. In reality, the master was the prey, and the servant was the predator. That was the Soul Contract.
“I, hereby bestow upon thee my first command. Reveal thy name.”
A conversation that was too real to be a dream. A crest that was too clear. Not to mention, the sense of connection from the contract, which started to flow from deep inside him. Information about her language, her era, and her location that was impossible for him to have known surged forth from that contract.
This is real ; the scream of his internal alarm shook his brain. The smile that tickled his mouth disappeared. His lips tightened in a straight line. His blankly opened black eyes narrowed. Bitter, icy darkness swirled in his pupils. His hands, tightened into a fist as if he wanted to punch the person standing in front of him, was only halted by his last bit of restraint. However, his strained muscles and tensed body indicated that his rage was only just below the boiling point. The ends of his mouth elevated ever so slightly, into a cynical smile. The distorted scowl that took over his face without him realising it was closer to a reflex than anything else.
‘A contract or such……’
The one that I made back then, when I was oblivious, was enough. I refuse to do it a second time.
* * *
10 minutes before the summoning.
The young girl glanced at her left arm while gripping a dagger with her right hand. A huge backpack was slung over her long, swaying hair, and underneath, her body was shaking slightly. As she placed the blade on her left arm, she inhaled and exhaled deeply. Every time she repeated the process, her small body expanded and contracted ever so slightly.
The skin of her small, thin wrist was soft, so soft that it seemed as if it would tear only with a small scratch from a fingernail. The sharpened dagger slowly approached her feeble arm.
The girl clamped her mouth shut, closed her eyes, and held her breath. Then she daringly slit her arm with the knife.
A faint moan momentarily escaped her tight lips. While her brows were furrowed in a grimace, the girl held her arm above the bowl without shedding a tear. Just like that, blood rolled down and filled the bowl. As more blood filled up the bowl, the girl’s arm turned even more pale. Yet, the girl stood still, without stopping the blood or being close to tears. Although, her legs shook a little. She only stopped the bleeding after completely filling the bowl up.
“Yulia. Reconsider. You still don’t fully understand what it means to control a demon.”
The backpack that hung from her back spoke, as if it was a living human being, in an attempt to stop her.
“Pristine. Dost thou know that thou hath spoken those same words for the 29th time?”
“I will speak not just 29 times, but 290 times if I must. It is not too late. Stop.”
“Then I shall answer for the 29th time. Dost thou have an alternative?”
Yulia dipped a quill in the bowl and started to draw a shape on the floor. She drew a circle big enough for a person to stand in, and multiple characters within. Every time she wrote a letter on the floor, smoke arose from the character drawn with human blood and purple particles floated around the room.
She did not stop, and continued to write the high-class devilian characters, whose mere existence was forbidden.
“No, I do not…… but this is really not an option. Even if you offer your soul, how much do you think the demonic king Tarth’s scales would think it is worth? At best, it would be worth a 5th class demon. Considering our situation, it would account for less than a single tank.”
Pristine, despite sensing Yulia’s irritation, once again attempted to stop her.
It would have been a different story if it was the past. In the era where soldiers were armed with spears and arrows, even a 5th class demon could be a fairly strong military asset. However, wagering one’s soul for a mere 5th class demon in this era? There was no act more foolish that that.
“If thou can deliver me that tank in front of my house right at this moment, I will halt the ritual.”
“Now, shut thy mouth. I have to escape this place and return to the capital city before the council assembly commences. For the sake of doing so, whether it is my soul or something else, there is nothing I refuse to sacrifice.”
Yulia announced, taking a moment to stand straight and fold her arms behind her back. The way she held her chin up, despite her adorable shape, created a contradicting coexistence of cuteness and solemness.
At the same time, Pristine could understand Yulia’s urgency. Currently, she was isolated in a vacation castle where she had been spending her summer. The invading enemy had yet to find this secret chamber, but it was only a matter of time before they did. The royal guards had long since been annihilated, and it was clearly impossible for him, being a backpack, and an eight year old girl to fight the enemy. Though they had attempted to contact the outside to call for reinforcements, it seemed that the enemy had somehow cut off all landlines, and wireless options had no signal.
Even as the queen of this country, Nesland, she was, at the moment, no more than a powerless child.
It was hard to determine if one should call bringing up the notion of summoning a demon, a medieval ritual, in this situation, a carefree thought or frantic desperateness.
“Then at least just offer your life. Then, even if you die from overusing that power, your entire existence won’t disappear forever. Although your afterlife may not be too pleasant, since your soul would be tainted by the deal with a demon, you would at least have a second chance. As it is now…… there is a chance that no trace of you would be left anywhere in the heavens or in the devildom.”
“I am fully aware of the risk. I am proceeding with the knowledge I have, so shut thy mouth now.”
Yulia obstinately finished the ritual circle. Pristine continued to try and keep her from doing so, but in the end, he was just a backpack. Though a very rare backpack with consciousness, there was no way for him to physically stop her.
Yulia smiled sweetly upon finishing the summoning circle.
“And who knows? If the goddess of luck smiles upon me, they might hand over a 4th class demon for being the first to sign a contract in a long time.”
“Even if we say that a 4th class demon is summoned, sacrificing your soul just for the fighting power of a squadron? That is too much of a loss. There are seven nearby Royal Army Divisions!”
“That is only if one of those seven could hustle over. The ritual has to be started now; hence, no more interruption will be pardoned. Now shut thy mouth.”
Yulia took Pristine off and gently placed him down in one corner. Although her words were strict, the touch that put him down was gentle, as if she was worried that the backpack would be hurt.
“Shut. I said SHUT.”
Showing a slight temper, Yulia balled her hand into a fist and hit the mouth of the backpack multiple times. That being said, there was not enough power to tickle him, let alone hurt him.
After a few strikes, she fixed her posture, satisfied.
“I shall allow no more expostulation. Moreover, I, being the one who has to offer her soul, is just fine, so wherefore art thou more restless than I?”
Yulia turned around and headed towards the circle of the ritual. In front of it, she began to recite the words of the contract that had been passed on from ancient times.
“O, mighty six overlords of the devildom;
The absolute beings who reign over the darkness of the devildom against the gods of the heavens;
With my blood, I hereby open the door to thy territories.”
Watching her stand with dignity unbefitting of a little child and reciting those exact words without relying on a piece of text but only her memory, Pristine felt his nonexistent heart sink. If he were not a backpack but a human, he would have sighed more than a hundred times.
‘Just fine my ass……’
Petite height, narrow shoulders. Lean arms and legs. At first sight, her dignified stance looked like a simple child’s joke. However, it was different up close. Her tiny back that struggled to even carry a backpack was soaked in sweat. Her thin legs that looked as if they would be bruised just by brushing against a corner were shaking. Though they were hidden by her dress, it was obvious to him, who perceived things through parasensory means rather than using his eyes.
Still, her shivering was not outwardly revealed. Her chanting voice did not tremble once. Her hand, held up high in the air, was perfectly still. Even a smile leisurely settled on the corners of her mouth. Only the ends of her long strands of hair that barely touched the ground quivered, not being able to conceal the uneasiness that was stacked within her.
‘She should understand better than anyone what the consequences are, considering her intelligence.’
Pristine was mournful. If he was a human, his chest would have tightened or his appetite would have been lost. In reality, Yulia was probably afraid, just as much as she understood. Yet she stood straight, smiled calmly, and continued the forbidden ritual. She was only eight, and it was way too early for her to be acting like an adult. She was really just a little kid.
“Creating the pathway with my life
and creating the root with my soul;
I seek thy power.”
The ritual, accurately carried out, awoke the ancient forces that had been almost forgotten in this age. Ominous, blackish-black smoke started to creep and surge out from the magic circle of blood.
‘In the end…… the summon is taking place.’
Pristine, who was hoping for the ritual itself to fail and return everything to normal as if nothing had happened, felt bitter. Her outstanding intelligence which let her perfectly recall a book that she had read only once had worked against her as divine punishment.
He was also an “ancient being”, and thus understood the words of contract, which were not from the modern language that was currently used in this country. However, she had not only remembered the contents, but also had perfect pronunciation. If only she was just a little less intelligent, he would have been able to hope that the ritual would fail.
“With my blood, I shall buy his body;
With my life, I shall buy his power;
And with my soul, I shall buy his authority.”
The surging smoke now densely shrouded the surroundings, and the wave of force that exploded from the circle shook the earth. The inside of the circle changed into space that could no longer be seen as something of this world.
“Be thou hereby a loyal servant
and send me a knight of contract that shall protect me.”
Darkness covered the circle of the ritual. A wisp of that darkness branched out like a chain and grabbed onto Yulia’s right hand. Smoke gushed from her hand as if a heated piece of metal was searing it. Her pale skin was dyed red for a split second and continued to scorch, like it had been burned. The sizzling sound softly echoed inside of the room. As if it was branding a cow, the darkness engraved onto her the demonic seal. She bit her lip as pain pierced her. However, no moan escaped her mouth. Rather, she once again straightened her posture and cried the final words.
“Obey the command of the root;
Lift up the suppression of the Worldstone by the law;
Come forth, beyond the worldly boundary, and devote thyself to this land!”
Darkness shrouded the room. Although there were enough sources of light, as there there were a few lit lamps, none of them were spared. The temperature rapidly dropped and the coldness of winter seized the room. In the next moment, heat stronger than that of a midday desert filled the air. It became so hot that just taking a breath made it feel as if the roof of one’s mouth was burning.
Darkness disappeared and penetrating light burst out in turns, as if to not only burn one’s eyes but also one’s skin. Then, once again, light disappeared into darkness. Gusts of biting wind gushed in disarray within the enclosed room. The absolute law of physics was literally crushed, and chaos swept across the room in a rampage.
The distortion that seemed to last forever suddenly came to a halt. Everything just returned to normal, as if everything that had happened was a dream. However, one thing had definitely changed. In the middle of the circle sat a being that, at a glance, seemed like a typical boy with a slightly blank expression.
He had softly disheveled, short black hair. Of course, he was definitely older than Yulia herself, but the gentle contour of his face still held subtle hints of youth. His height was estimated to be possibly taller than 170cm but shorter than 180cm, and his build showed traces of manhood but was definitely not fully matured yet.
However, not everything was soft. Although a they were little blank, as if he had just awakened, his black pupils were sharp, and the corners of his eyes and mouth moved nonchalantly.
Except for the fact that he looked more oriental than those of this country, it wouldn’t have been strange at all if one mistook him for a human.
Yulia smiled, however, at the clearly engraved ‘crest’ on her right hand. The ritual had succeeded. The boy in front of her eyes may have looked like a human, but he was definitely a resident of devildom, not of their own world.
With this, this situation could be resolved. Even if he really was a forbidden knight that gnawed on her from deep inside.
Demons desired human souls. It was the best stimulant for assisting their growth. However, one’s soul was theirs and theirs only, and thus could not be taken by sheer force. That was impossible, even for the pinnacle of devildom, the six demon kings.
Instead, they signed a “contract”. In return for lending the ownership of their powers to the other party to use as they desired, they took some of their partner’s soul, an equivalent amount to the power that they used. When that possession reached the 100% mark, the human soul was eaten by the demon and disappeared without a trace.
A relationship in which the reality of the food chain was reversed from how it appeared to be. That was the contract with the demon, where one gambled one’s soul.
However, there was no end to the humans who would sell their soul until that critical juncture, desiring magical power that let them achieve what was normally impossible as a human. There were many who met their destruction, regretting their choice to go past that point.
At least, until the Technology Revolution.
“Serve me. I am thy master.”
I shall not be looked down upon just because of my young age. Yulia tilted her neck about 15 degrees back and made herself look more haughty by twitching her nose. Although thin, she stiffened her neck and showed off her long hair, combing it back with her hand.
“Ah. Um…… WHAT?!”
She faintly knitted her brows upon seeing at the demon speak with a stupefied face. I do not yet know the power this demon holds, but does he still not understand the situation? Perhaps he is rather idiotic.
“This is the proof of our contract, fulfilled by following the ancient laws. The marking of a sacrifice that is offered to the six demon kings.”
She asked for his name, clearly defining the status of master and servant.
“I hereby bestow upon thee my first command. Reveal thy name.”
The crest that was carved onto her hand glowed softly.
For a moment, Kael’s blank expression turned truly terrifying.
It sharpened, as if revealing the true colours of a beast under a camouflaged mask of a lamb. However, as long as the contract was signed, one’s control over the demon was absolute. The master’s orders came before the demon’s own desire. Disregarding his thoughts, Kael’s body shifted moved on its own accord and politely kneeled. His neck bowed on its own discretion, and his mouth spoke its own words. His submissive face no longer hosted killing intent of any sort.
“The name is Kael. My honourable master.”
“Kael, so thou say’st. Hm. I have not come across that name. I guess it’s obvious, since I am only aware of the names of 2nd class demons and above, and only some well-known 3rd class demons.”
Yulia dropped her hand and relaxed her supercilious demeanor. A gentle sigh slipped out of her mouth. Her long eyelashes drooped a little, dispirited.
“I suppose it can’t be helped.”
I knew it in my head that, as Pristine had predicted, he would be a 5th class demon, and 4th class only if luck stood alongside me, but I really hoped for a higher class demon.
Although wishing for a 1st class demon king or a 2nd class great aristocrat demon would’ve been greedy, a 3rd class demon, who is said to have power equivalent to an army division, would have been nice. Well, I suppose it was an unreasonable dream from the start.
As she put aside away her disappointment, Kael stood up from his place, spilling out an empty laughter. The body that had moved in a split second, disregarding his own wishes. It was clear evidence of the contract. This was not a dream.
“Ahaha…… Ahahaha, I…… I see. I’ve been summoned.”
He could not have possibly known that there would be anyone in this time and age who would summon a demon. Moreover, a little kid like her? He was momentarily confused, but now his brain was starting to do its job.
‘No, it’s not too late yet.’
I’ve lost my cool. Right now, it’s just a provisional contract, so I don’t need to face this emotionally. It’s still possible to undo it without difficulty. I can just explain it to her carefully and make her cancel it. Let’s end this peacefully.
“Hey kid. I guess you read an old fairytale and caused an accident out of curiosity.”
He extended his arm out to Yulia and patted her head. Her soft, delicate hair produced a nice feeling on his fingertips.
The petting was interrupted as Kael instantly kneeled.
“Whose hair dost thou think thou art touching! I am the Queen of the Great Nesland, Yulia de Vittoria Scotchel!”
Yulia exclaimed as she held up her index finger in front of his nose. It was a truly thunderous roar. Although her bobbing finger was small and thin.
“…… Queen …… you say?”
Kael opened and closed his mouth. Well, he had thought that she might be a princess of some sort, considering her graciousness, elegance, and aloofness, but a queen? Aside from her manners, her way of speech, and her stare, the atmosphere that seeped out of her body – despite the fact that every aspect of her was youthful, she exhibited dignity and grace.
However, not a queen-to-be, but a current queen at her age?
“So…… how old are you?”
“I am eight years old. In terms of age, I suspect that thou art older. However, regardless of age, I am thy MASTER. I demand thy respect!”
She folded her arms in front of her, leaned her neck 15 degrees back, and stuck out her chest and shoulders as far as possible. Then she looked down on him with those intense eyes, emphasizing the word “master”. It was like looking at a young, purebred cat that was acting almighty and being pompous.
“ …… Eight……”
Kael’s head throbbed. Yeah, she seemed around that old. A perfect age to get caught in an accident while misbehaving.
However, the magnitude of that accident was not on the level of something like playing with a match and setting the house on fire. No, well, that would be a problem on its own. Even so, summoning a demon like himself?
Not to mention, out of all of the countless demons, it had to be him!
He had been sleeping so soundly, too.
“Ah, yes. Yulia. You know what? You probably don’t know this because you’re too young, but to control me, a demon, you gotta use up your soul.”
Let me scare her stiff so she cancels it all. Dealing with a kid is child’s play. Kael dropped his voice, creating a heavy atmosphere. His black eyes reflected no light, but bore deep darkness. His pupils were unlike that of any human or beast – they were the pupils of a demon. Still, Yulia threw her head back a little more and scoffed right away. Her sharp nose momentarily twitched and snorted.
“Ha, doth thou think that I summoned thee without knowing such things? Pristine had already explained a few dozen times, and I was already aware of it beforehand as well. I chose to do so with the appropriate amount of resolve, so I need no further explanation.”
“You…… know? No, um, you see. Then why did you call me, knowing that? Aren’t you a queen? You’re bound to have a bunch of subordinates.”
“I needed power that was ready to fight in this moment.”
Kael changed his tactics. This kid is one tough kid. It doesn’t seem like scaring will work. Then let’s look at her not like I would a child, but like I would an adult who possesses judgement and convince her through logic and reason.
“See, I think you’ve misunderstood all this business after reading an old fairytale, but those demons in storybooks who fight against the heroes, the representatives of gods, are at least 3rd class demons. Maybe 2nd class if they are strong. Now, they are the strong ones. Powerful. But, a 5th class demon like me? We ain’t much.”
Kael tapped the sword that hung from his side.
“And of those 5th class demons, I’m a swordmaster. Well, I do have a lil’ more strength and speed than a normal human, but that’s literally it. Even a human could easily fight me with a sword, if they trained properly.”
“A 5th class swordmaster.”
Yulia lightly creased her forehead. Although, her frown was beautiful in its own way.
“Yeah, that’s right! It’s a power that’s seriously lagging behind this era. Okay, let’s be totally honest here – what’s the point of being able to use a sword fairly well in front of all those techy weapons? Gunshots from a little distance away would just ■■■■ me. I’m like a sandcastle facing a tsunami when you put me against a tank, and no good will come from you signing a contract with the likes of me, so let’s void this thing. Deal?”
Kael smiled brightly and waved his hand. He’d be happily back to his comfy NEET life, and the little queen would be happily alive without destroying her own life due to a momentary mistake. All was good.
“I will highly commend thy courage to admit thy own limits,”
Yulia smiled gently, lightly patting his shoulder as if he had done something praiseworthy.
“However, thou dost not need to worry. I summoned thee as right now, I need even that meager power. Take me out of this place. If thou successfully accompany me safely to the royal capital, I may not be able to give thee my soul, but I shall give thee a sufficient amount of fortune and treasures of the land.”
As she said so, she tightened her hand that was placed atop his shoulder. Although, in Kael’s perspective, it was only strong enough to barely crack an egg.
“No, hey, I still don’t think you understand. I’m saying that it’d be much better to just hand your subordinates a bunch of guns.”
“The royal guards, those subordinates that you talk about – none of them are here in this castle.”
It was only then that Kael realised that the situation she was in was not normal.
“They were all killed by the invasion of an unknown swarm of giant insects. Their outer shell reflected all of the bullets that were shot. This room is a secret chamber under the basement, but it will only be a matter of time until they find us.”
Yulia, who had been keeping her neck stiff and twitched her nose in an attempt to look more grown-up, tilted her head towards the ground as she spoke. Her two hands that were gently locked together were modest, as if praying for those who had died. Her tone of voice was not able to completely conceal its shakiness as she spoke of death. However, she once again lifted her head up, as if admitting that she couldn’t remain down forever.
“Hence, thou art the last Hope.”
Her clear, pure silver eyes properly met Kael’s black eyes as she emphasised the last word.
“Bugs that reflect bullets?”
Kael tilted his head. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them in the devildom – and especially not in the heavens.
“Dost thou understand now? There is no need to capture all those insects. Thou only needst to find the way through them to the emergency escape route.”
She demanded as she turned up her nose once again, as if she was doing him a big favour by lowering the level of difficulty. However, the ends of her long hair were quivering.
Kael only then realised that, although she stood dignified and confident, in reality, her back was drenched in sweat. She would’ve been frightened. While the guards died one by one, defeated by the monster bugs, she would’ve ran with all her might and hid here alone. In the slowly approaching terror of death, the summoning of a demon would’ve been the very last resort for her to cling onto.
‘What should I do……‘
They were only bound by a provisional contract at the moment. Therefore, if he, who had been summoned, formally spoke the words of refusal, the contract would be void. Demons were only prevented from voiding the contract after officially acknowledging the summoner as their master.
However, what would happen to this kid if he left now? She would be eaten by the monster bugs. Her small, tender body would be ripped and devoured.
That would leave a very bad aftertaste.
“It might be hard for you to understand, but a soul is not something to gamble with. It can’t just be spent in this single moment.”
Kael stared at Yulia with calm eyes. The slight idle vibe that he was giving off until just a moment ago disappeared, and he continued in a calm and serious tone.
“I understand that you are afraid of facing immediate death. However, what it means for your soul to disappear is for your existence itself to disappear forever, without ever being able to reach your afterlife. Do you understand?”
“I will answer, since it is thy serious expostulation: I have to return to the Royal
Capital right now. Soon, a Parliamentary Assembly will be held to discuss the Prime Minister’s bill concerning the cutback on the funding of medical care for people of the lower income bracket, so that it can be used for digging up Mount Louvre. It will then be voted upon. If I am not able to stop that, 300 000 poor citizens will not be able to receive proper medical treatment even when they fall ill.”
Lower income bracket. Funding. Voting. Words that 8-year-olds did not yet need to know flowed out of Yulia’s mouth. She placed her hand on top of her chest. Only then did a shadow fall across her eyes, revealing her worry and uneasiness. An image of the burdens of many people pressing upon her small shoulders flashed behind her.
“I take pleasure in the idea of the rebirth of soul and the afterlife. However, I have a responsibility to protect the lives of those who live on this land. I didn’t summon thee only for the sake of my own self.”
Hearing those words, Kael felt a gushing surge of irritation.
Her well-presented, fancy words gave him an allergic reaction. This little kid, who was acting so confident and arrogant, just had to show her very first sign of worry and anxiety using words like funding and responsibility. A kid should just be worrying about small child-like problems like whether she would be able to receive a teddy bear for her birthday present.
“Oh, you idiot.”
Was this kid even aware of the meaning of the words that she spoke? That couldn’t possibly be the case. She was probably just brainwashed by those around her who taught her that a Queen should act a certain way. A myna bird, beautiful and gracious, but way too young to have a mind of her own. She was imitating the words, but was not yet truly aware of what she really wished for.
“You’ll disappear. Then everything’s gonna be over. That’s no different from the end of the world.”
To a living being, a world in which they did not exist would be the same as having no world. There was no meaning.
Someone who imitated a saint without knowing that fact and regretted it at the very end – listening to such a person’s scream of despair once was more than enough. He refused to experience it a second time.
He glared at her fiercely. His first impression of a boy with tender lines was nowhere to be seen, and his cold, black eyes no longer concealed his true nature as a predator of humans, emitting dangerous waves of darkness instead.
Still, Yulia did not back down. Rather, she answered, fully absorbing that sharp stare with her pure, deep silver eyes.
“Even so, I have something that I have to protect, even if I must put myself on the line.”
“And you’re just a kid with a fancy packaging who doesn’t truly know anything.”
Is she imitating a hero or a saint from somewhere else? Kael ground his teeth. He would have given her a beating or two if it wasn’t for the rule that prohibited him from posing a threat to the contractor.
“There is no more time for us to continue debating. We have to move before we are completely surrounded. Get out of that circle now.”
Kael let a deep breath escape in order to calm himself down. He had been too agitated against a little kid. Even though she blabbered indiscreet nonsense, she was still a kid. Would she be a kid if she didn’t?
A queen or not, she was now eight years old. It was an age where one would be more easily allured by the exaggerated words of others, rather than seeing the truth of the world. He should be the one to understand.
‘What should I do, I wonder.’
She believed that the contract was already complete, but it was not. He had the choice to reject. Though, it was so rare for a demon to refuse a Soul Contract that he wasn’t even sure if there was a previous case, so there was nothing strange about her not knowing the fact.
However, even if he did refuse, this kid would continue her struggle to escape even if it meant summoning another demon. THat or the monster bugs could burst in while she was re-preparing for a new ritual and she would die.
“I guess I can’t help it. Just this once, kid.”
Afterall, the aftertaste would be too bitter if she really met a pitiful end after he had left.
He had agreed nicely, but Yulia suddenly narrowed her eyes. She rolled up her tiny hand into a fist and started to lightly punch his abdomen. Though her fists feebly bounced off of his abs.
“Shut that mouth of thine!”
“Wha – why?”
As Kael showed a puzzled face, Yulia held up the back of her hand. She snappishly fired away her command in about 1.5 times her normal talking speed, showing off her ultimate weapon with a furious expression.
“Hmph. ‘Tis my second order; don’t call me a kid!”
The symbol of contract engraved onto her hand once again glowed. It bound Kael with absolute restraint.
“Yes, your majesty.”
Kael promptly showed his courtesy, and sighed as he lifted his head back up.
“Don’t waste your soul on such petty things. I’ll help this escape of yours even if you don’t go to such measures.”
“Art thou finally feeling up to cooperating? The negotiation took longer than I expected.”
Yulia smiled in victory as she used her hand to comb that desirable hair of hers. Her elegant and relaxed appearance glowed gracefully. Though, the corners of her mouth that twitched in glee was one little mistake of hers.
Kael continued on, hiding his wandering thought that such a mistake was cute in its own way.
“But, it’s just this once. Next time, don’t ever throw yourself in a situation where you’d have to rely on a mere demon.”
“I shall bear thy advice in mind.”
“Well, then, we should complete the contract.”
Kael respectfully kneeled on his knees. Each world would reject a being from another world. He himself, who was of the devildom, would be rejected by Middle Earth. If he had just stayed without doing anything, he would have been like a fish who was trying to live outside the water. The one thing that prevented that from happening was the sign of contract that one received from their master, a resident of this world. Demons were only able to freely move about in this world by using it as a medium.
As Kael kneeled on the ground, Yulia gently held out her right hand, which wore the royal seal. She fixed her posture, even perfectly tweaking the angle of her wrist, and slightly lowered her gaze. The way she stood proud and prim was like that of a cat that seemed to be whispering, I will specially entertain you. Holding that hand softly, Kael lowered his head and kissed the royal seal.
“I hereby abide by the ancient law and offer thee my contract of loyalty.
Firstly, I shall infallibly obey thy orders;
Secondly, I shall not hurt thee if not as a command;
And thirdly, I shall always protect myself as long as it does not concern the two previous cases.”
The contract was finally settled after he recited the three-point policy that a demon should follow. As the circle of ritual that imprisoned him disappeared, his crest that was engraved onto Yulia’s hand faded into her skin. It wouldn’t appear unless a command that consumed her “soul” was issued.
Kael stood up again and tapped his sheath with his fingers.
“Okay. Then, let’s come up with a specific strategy. You said that bullets don’t work on those monster bugs, right? How many are there? It’s nothing to be proud of, but you better not expect me to wipe ’em all out.”
Although he had suggested this, Kael didn’t hope for much. How much would a kid know anyway? He’d probably have to listen to just the brief explanation of the current situation and figure out the rest on his own.
“I don’t expect anything. The strategy I suggest is this.”
While saying so, Yulia lifted up the backpack that she had placed in the corner.
“Pristine. Hand over the map of this vacation castle.”
“As you wish.”
As the backpack answered, the lid opened and a map popped out of it.
“Huh? A talking backpack?”
“I will apologise if I have surprised you. I kept my mouth shut since it wasn’t the right timing for me to interrupt. The name is Pristine.”
“Don’t tell me you’re an artifact from the Dawn Warring Era.”
“I am indeed.”
Kael stared at the backpack curiously. It looked like a normal backpack at a glance, but who would’ve known that it had a mind of its own? An artifact from the era 5000 years before the year A.A. itself – the one and only time when the heavens and the devildom had combined their powers to create objects that possessed both technology and magic.
“So, you’re more than 7000 years old.”
“If you would be kind enough to not treat me like an old man. Please, just call me Pristine. I was passed down by the royalty of Nesland and now I act as Yulia’s backpack.”
“Sure. You can call me Kael. Tough time serving her, huh.”
“Well, I suppose that is also the case.”
Yulia puffed out her cheeks as she watched Kael and Pristine talked amongst themselves, leaving her out. Then, she abruptly opened up the map and wedged herself in between the two.
“Enough with the greetings. Now is the time to escape.”
“Ah, that’s right.”
“This is the room that we are currently in. This is the location of the statue that has the secret escape mechanism’s activation switch. The shortest route that leads to it goes straight, like this.”
After catching Kael’s gaze, she traced a path on the map with her finger.
“However, there are a few problems regarding this route. First off, this long hallway that leads from here to there would be perfect for the enemy to trap us in, and this large space here would make us prone to being surrounded. In addition to that, if we were to move while considering their line of sight, I suggest that we follow this path.”
She drew a slightly different route with her hand.
“What dost thou think? Since I am making this suggestion without knowing thy exact ability, speak aloud of any amendments that could be made.”
Her hand that gently combed her hair back was posh, as if saying that there would be no amendments to make. However, at the same time, her clear eyes slowly rolled around, worried that there may have been an error.
“No…… we’ll follow this route.”
Kael memorized the path on the map, slightly marvelling at her suggestion.
‘This kid…… ain’t half bad.’
Even after attributing her elegant, beautiful appearance to the power of her heritage and her dignity and grace to the everyday manners that were part of her body since her birth, he had to admit that her eyes, which understood the geography, were pretty amazing.
‘Though it’s true that it isn’t just any old feat to accurately re-enact a ritual that can only be found through written records, especially at her age.’
“To give thee a description of the enemy – to begin, they are giant bugs that are as tall as humans. There are two different types: the ones that look like a fusion of a mantis and a locust that approach and bite, and the ones that look like a fusion of a centipede and a porcupine that shoot poisonous needles from their backs. However, both of their shells reflect the likes of bullets.”
“They’re strange bugs. How many?”
“There seems to be approximately 300 of them.”
“300, huh. I guess we’d meet our end if we’re surrounded. How fast are they?”
“The mantis-like one is nimble. The fastest estimated speed is around, perhaps, 30 or 40 kilometres per hour? It is not exact as I have only seen them with my eyes. The centipede ones fired poison needles, but their movements were much slower.”
Yulia explained in unchildlike detail. It seemed that those pretty silver eyes had made sure to observe such things even whilst running away in fear.
“Then let’s give ourselves a little more room for error and go with 40 kilos per hour. Well, nothing good will come out from just sitting here and worrying about it. Let’s get on the move and just react to whatever happens as it comes.”
Just like that, he lifted Yulia off the ground and held her tight with his left arm.
Yulia swung both of her arms and legs around in the air. She squirmed her whole body around, like a puppy who had suddenly been showered with cold water. After a moment, as if the realisation that this was not right had hit her, she halted her movements and belatedly regained her composure.
“Thoughtlessly holding my waist like that – what rudeness!”
Yulia slightly pouted her lips.
“Do you think this is really the time for ya to quibble over such a petty thing?”
Kael snorted. It was just the waist of a child. Although, perhaps, that was what made it feel pretty soft.
“I understand that much, and therefore I will allow thee. However, I must comment on thy impolite manner of speech. Could you not speak with more sincerity?”
“Ha? I’m not even from a knightly heritage that teaches one how to serve a King. Don’t ask for something unreasonable. All should be well, since I did all that polite stuff in the moment of contract.”
“Dost thou not possess even that much refinement, as a 5th class demon? Such a sight to behold. However, I will generously ignore it.”
Yulia smiled leniently, holding her cheek with her hand. She could’ve chosen to consistently constrain his manner of speech using her soul, but did not push the matter further, perhaps deciding that it would be a waste. Kael also returned her complaint halfheartedly.
“Yeah, yeah. I am very truly grateful of your generosity, so just concentrate on holding tight.”
“Fine. Then I command thee!”
Yulia once again called upon the three-sworded crest on her hand. A demon, who was not a resident of this land, relied on his contract even for his mere existence, but that was the limit of the contract itself. A soul was a path that allowed the use of [magic], as well as being a [sacrifice]. By consuming it while receiving a command, a demon could use his true powers above the ground. Kael immediately put his hand over Yulia’s mouth.
“You don’t need to say the command. I’d fight this much free of charge.”
When Kael lifted up his hand, she breathed out and stared at him with a puzzled expression.
“Thou will fight without a command? However, if so -”
“I won’t be able to use magic, but I’m fundamentally a swordmaster. There ain’t much difference.”
“Even so, in thy perspective, my soul would be the best reward – yet what art thou aiming to achieve by refusing that?”
As she tilted her head once to the left and once to the right, her eyes skimmed over Kael, as if to investigate. She repetitively fluttered her eyelashes over her silver eyes, unable to hide her curiosity. Kael let out a chuckle and firmly supported her.
“Welp, free trial product. Just think of it like that. Then, I’m gonna be moving quickly now.”
Yulia swallowed her questions and held tightly onto his body. Kael opened the secret door and rushed outside.
* * *
The very first thing that entered his sight were two bugs that were even larger than he was. They had front legs that looked like humongous scythes and tough jaws that looked like they could crush a man’s neck in a flash. They also had hard shells. He saw the corpses of the royal guards that they had left halfway through gnawing them into pieces. Limbs that revealed bones rolled around the hallway that reeked of blood.
Yulia flinched and burrowed into Kael’s chest a little more. Although not even the slightest shriek leaked out of her tightly closed mouth, her grip on him strengthened. The trembling of her body was visible through her closely adhering clothes.
Although he noticed her shaking, Kael drew his sword and dashed forward without showing that he was aware of it.
The scythe-like front legs of a bug, both left and right at the same time, crashed down towards him. Kael did not dodge, brute forcing his way closer before digging his sword into their joints. Although the bugs were heavily armored, with shells that even reflected bullets, the sword mercilessly cut into the little gap – probably what should be considered to be its elbow – that revealed itself when it raised its scythes.
Green liquid splattered and the bug, having lost its front leg, stood puzzled for a moment. In that short moment of hesitation, the sword once again dug into the gap between its neck. Although its neck was protected by its shell, the sword that struck from right underneath and cut upwards accurately penetrated the gap between the shell and the neck. The sword relentlessly pierced the tiny weak spot that was located in an angle that no bullet shot from head-on could reach.
Upon its comrade’s death, the other bug swung around its front legs, as if trying to avenge the other, but Kael swiftly swung around and once again dug into his opponent as if he had been watching its movements. What followed was a repetition of the previous scene. He sliced off both of its front legs, pierced its lower chin, and stepped back to escape the splattering green liquid. After dodging it so that not a single drop splashed onto Yulia’s body, Kael once again darted off.
They were in an indoor environment with no wind, but the air that was pushed off by Kael’s agile movements created the illusion of a sweeping cyclone.
As he advanced without halting, another three bugs blocked his path. Perhaps it was because they had heard their comrades’ death throes. This time, from the very start, they all attacked Kael at the same time.
However, Kael did not stop moving. He swiftly twisted his body in the middle of their attack and slashed his sword, tilting the trajectory of the sword that was entwined with their front legs, thus causing the bugs to get tangled amongst themselves. In the next moment, he once again stabbed the chin of one of the bugs, piercing through it at high speed. Two enraged bugs sprang onto him in an attempt to bite and grind him up, but Kael took a step back, messing up their timing, and fixed his stance.
In a flash, lightning struck from below to above. In truth, it wasn’t lightning, but the glare of the blade. However, the speed that was created by the surging trace of the sword could easily have been compared to that of lighting.
The thud of giant bodies falling to the ground echoed three consecutive times, and Kael once again dashed forward without hindrance. Yulia stared, enthralled by the sight of the bugs, who had ruthlessly slaughtered her guards, collapsing one after another.
In this era, something like swordsmanship is useless in front of guns. He had said so with his own mouth, and it was most definitely true, logically speaking. However,
Was that really the case?
When rushing forward, his body was like the wind, and when pausing to target the opponent, he was like the earth. The way he moved and dodged the combined attacks was like water, and the flash of the sword that promptly pierced the opponent’s weakness was like lightning.
His movements in combat were completely devoid of any showy swordsmanship.
These motions were aimed to only block or dodge the opponent’s attacks, while still dealing damage to the opposing party. Yet, they were utterly enchanting.
Different kinds of bugs that look like centipedes blocked his way. Kael momentarily came to a halt. Yulia, who was only watching until then, signaled by pressing on his shoulder and opened her mouth.
“Beware of those!”
Even before her cry could fade away, a centipede curled its back and fired poisonous needles. It was a wide shot that couldn’t be avoided just by dodging.
At that moment, Kael spun Yulia around to his back and slashed with his sword, standing in front of her. Perhaps it was inevitable for the young Queen to be reminded of a mountain when she stared at his firmly enduring back.
After reflecting the shower of needles, Kael once again held her and ran. Before another wave of needles could be fired, his sword sliced through the bugs like a surging storm. From above to below. From left to right. In diagonal criss-crosses. The consecutive bladework that repeated itself multiple times ended in a matter of seconds. As the fiery heat of the moment passed, minced bugs fell to the ground.
“The poison needle…… art thou hurt?”
Yulia shifted her gaze upon him as she carefully touched Kael’s arm. Her straightened lips showed no ease and her pupils that stored away light were filled with concern.
No matter how quickly he had swung around his sword to reflect them, he was bound to have faced his limit in front of those numerous waves of needles. Otherwise, there would be nothing to fear as long as one possessed a sword – whether it was a machine gun or anything else. Even now, two needles were sticking out of his body. When Yulia asked, her eyes full of worry, Kael smiled and patted her head.
“Not to worry. I’m a demon, so I have a fair amount of tolerance to typical poison. It would be difficult to kill all 300 of them, but I won’t collapse before we reach our destination.”
“I thank thee for protecting me.”
“Save the thanks for after the escape.”
Kael once again held Yulia in his arms and quickly advanced.
‘Tsk. This doesn’t seem too good. This bug’s poison is pretty strong.’
He wasn’t lying when he said he had tolerance. However, the poison that the mysterious giant bug possessed was much stronger than the average poison. Should Yulia have been hit by one, she would have died in mere seconds. Even he, himself, felt dizzy.
He suppressed his condition as he internally clicked his tongue. After all, it came down to a battle of time. If all 300 of them really flocked over at once, even he had no chance by himself. It was a relief that the bugs were scattered all over the rather spacious vacation castle.
‘I don’t have enough time. Guess this calls for a course change.’
He smashed into the window and jumped outside the castle. When he had landed, nine bugs that had been on standby all jumped on him at once.
Four centipedes fired poison needles, and five mantises flung themselves onto him.
Before Yulia could ask what he was planning to do, Kael leaped towards a mantis. He pierced its lower jaw in one motion and blew its brains out, then immediately used its body as a shield against the poisonous needles. As the remaining four mantises surrounded him, swinging their front legs as if saying that they would not forgive him, Kael kicked off the ground and burst upwards.
With an elasticity that could compete with that of a locust, he bounced off of the opponent’s front leg, then off its head, and finally ended in a somersault to break through the siege. In the short moment the mantises took to readjusted their positions, Kael rushed into the midst of the centipedes that were readying themselves to fire again.
He slashed his blade like an endless tempest. His body and sword spun together to slice through one head after another. He dug into the weak joints that were hidden under the hard armour without stopping, cleaning up all four of them in an instant.
Kael then ran straight across the vacant lot and arrived in front of the statue that Yulia had spoken of, still dragging a number of pursuing mantises with him. The four mantises once again attempted to attack while he stopped and took his time, but it was no use for them. Kael smoothly dodged them like flowing water, and, at the same time, swung his sword like lightning to defeat them, one after another.
“There, we’re here. Hurry and activate that mechanism thing.”
Kael finally let Yulia down on the ground.
Yulia hopped down and pressed some of the words on the nameplate of the statue. As she did so, the ground on the garden floor opened up and a black car that seemed incredibly expensive came up. Its windows did not reveal the interior – it had probably been customised to be so – and its frame also appeared firm and stable.
As it continued to rise from the ground, she started a conversation with Pristine.
“Pristine. Collect their corpses – one of each.”
“Ugh. Those nasty ones……”
“Experiments require samples, now, don’t they? This is an order.”
Yulia demanded in high spirit, as if forgetting the fact that she had been trembling in fear at the sight of those bugs.
Pristine mumbled, and after it shivered its body once, the dead bodies of a centipede and a mantis were sucked into the backpack, as if they had been sucked in by a vacuum cleaner. Those huge bodies that seemed like they would be impossible to fit in the backpack entered it in the blink of an eye.
“I’m guessing that it’s pretty spacy in there. Then couldn’t you swallow that army of bugs?”
As Kael asked, Pristine answered.
“It would be troublesome if I put a moving creature inside me and it rips me up to escape.”
“I see. Guess it can’t be helped, then. Anyway, is this the emergency escape mechanism?”
As Kael pointed at the car, which had now completely emerged, Yulia nodded proudly.
“That is indeed correct. This is the bulletproof car that was made using the newest technology of this country, Thunder Bird. It can easily travel at 300 kilometres per hour. Here, Kael. Hurry up and drive.”
She ordered haughtily as she bobbed her index finger up and down.
“Wait, hold on…… that’s kinda impossible.”
“Why is that so?”
Yulia’s eyes opened round and wide. Her pupils followed, expanding in size. Her eyes were full of question marks, like those of a kitten who had encountered an unknown object.
“I’ve never driven the likes of a vehicle. It’s an object that only heavenly beings or humans use. There’s none in the devildom.”
“Ancient knights rode horses. Modern knights drive vehicles. Is this much not basic for you?” (TL: “knight” and “driver” are written the same way in Korean. The original text is “Ancient knights had horseriding. Modern drivers have vehicles.”)
“I can’t help it. In the first place, machines of the earth use worldstones as fuel to work, and they reject demons. As if I would know how to use such a thing.”
The only knowledge he was presented with through the contract was the language and some basic knowledge about the era. Nothing like speciality skills came with it.
Yulia only then creased her face, seeming to realize the error of her calculations.
“Whatcha gonna do? We’re gonna be surrounded if we get hung up on this.”
While they exchanged those words, a swarm of bugs was rushing towards them from afar.
Yulia lowered her head, taking her index finger to her lips in distress. Shortly after, she straightened back her neck and flashed a composed smile, combing her hair back once.
“Ha, I suppose it cannot be helped. Thou ridest next to me. I shall drive.”
As she spoke, Yulia hopped into the driver’s side of the car. She pushed the seat backwards, away from her, and stood straight. There was no need for her to bend forward, since the ceiling of the car was high and her height was short. As she gripped onto the huge wheel with both of her hands, she took a few deep breaths.
“What, you could’ve done that from the start.”
Due to his lack of knowledge, he did not yet sense anything wrong with the fact that an eight year old could drive, so he opened the door to the other side and sat down. However, it wasn’t long until he realised that something was strange.
Her stance, in which she was making a strenuous effort to stretch her short legs and press down onto something underneath, did not seem natural at all. Most of all, her hands that held the wheel were slightly shaking and the ends of her long hair that was laying on the seat were twitching.
Although it was his first time riding a car, he could sense that is wasn’t made to be used like this.
“Uh…… Are you gonna be okay?”
“I have seen the driver do it multiple times. It should be just fine, since I understand the basic idea.”
In contrast to her trembling body, Yulia smiled confidently and assuredly before inserting and rotating the key. Then she pushed up the gear to ‘drive’. The engine began to spin rapidly and let out a majestic cry. She shut her lips tightly and stretched her short legs to somehow step on the accelerator.
“Wait, you’ve seen it a few times? So that means you also have no experi -”
In the next moment, the car quickly accelerated. The needle of the speed gauge danced and its number shot up.
30, 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300 kilometres per hour.
The strength of the engine that accelerated the car in the blink of an eye could very well give it the title of a monstrous vehicle, but at the same time caused the car to violently vibrate.
The frenzied driving caused a groaning cry burst out of Kael’s mouth as the landscape rapidly flew by. The tightly shut front gate appeared in front of them, but Yulia didn’t stop. Instead, she stepped on the accelerator harder.
The needle on the speed gauge surged even higher, into the bright red zone.
With a loud crash, the car slammed into the metal gate. The latch of the gate was smashed, just like that, and the gate fell to the ground, while the car moved on without stopping.
Except for a little dent on the front bumper, the car was undamaged. However, inside the quaking car, the shock had caused Kael’s head to spin and made his ears ring, hurting even his eardrums.
The wheel of the car wavered, since it was not completely under complete control. The body of the car staggered from side to side. When the car was about to crash into the trees planted by the side of the road, Yulia jerked the wheel in the opposite direction, panicking. At that sudden change, the car also abruptly twisted and darted out into the opposite lane.
The car moved to and fro in zigzags, smashing the stone decorations that indicated the middle of the road in place of a white line. Shards of the broken stone fell onto the windows, but the special bulletproof windows took no damage, only tiny scratches.
However, that was only concerning the condition of the car.
Inside, Kael trembled, holding tightly onto the handles, suffering in agony from his roaring stomach, which seemed like it would turn inside out.
If this continues, I’ll die.
Without a doubt, I’ll die together with this car.
It is my first time in a car, but this kid’s driving is not normal!
“Slow down…… Slow down!”
“Oh, aren’t thou noisy. What will you do if they catch up to us?”
Yulia once again spun the wheel around, ignoring him. Her hair fluttered around. He didn’t know where the power in those small hands was coming from, but the angle at which she turned the wheel was truly extreme. The car, which had been following the slightly curving road, quickly turned. It went onto the sidewalk for a brief moment before returning to the road, while continuing to travel at a crazy speed.
Kael swallowed his rising stomach acid. He would never, even upon death, puke in front of a kid.
She stretched her legs, as if she couldn’t reach the accelerator properly, and in the next moment stepped on it hard, tilting her body with her movement. The car, which had momentarily slowed down to spin, once again resumed its crazed run. The car moved up and down, and Yulia’s body also swayed forwards and backwards, like a raft inside a storm. Yet, she stuck to the wheel and refused to let go. Only Kael sat trembling, holding onto his dear handles.
After repeating such frenzy, Yulia slowed down only when the vacation castle disappeared into the distance. Only then did the car stop vibrating and the ride return to normal.
A sigh of relief escaped Kael’s mouth in reflex.
“We did survive, in a literal sense. We escaped safely, thanks to thee.”
“…… Though I feel as if there was something more frightening than the bugs at the end……”
“I had only watched from the back, so this is my first time actually driving. Don’t complain over a little inexperience.”
Yulia subtly pouted her lips and sucked in her cheeks, sulking. She averted her gaze about 15 degrees and swished her silver hair. Her slightly upset expression enhanced her natural pompousness.
“A little? A litttllllee……? You say a little?!”
Kael’s hand shook violently. He looked like he was ready to hit her, let alone console her poutiness.
‘Even though this may be my first time riding in a car, I can tell that this ain’t a problem of inexperience!’
Ignoring Kael’s silent protest, Yulia burst out in abrupt laughter. Her face at that moment was not one of a dignified, aloof Queen, but that of a bright, innocent child.
“Thou forced thy way through the monster bugs without much difficulty, and yet thou art afraid of riding a car. Aren’t thou amusing.”
“No……, I don’t think I’d be the only one to fear your driving skills.
“Anyway, it seems like we have safely escaped. If nothing stands in our way, we could advance straight to the royal capital. I thank thee anew.”
As she remarked so, Yulia replaced her radiant laughter with a gentle smile. Although it was beautiful in its own way, with its elegance and grace, Kael was a little disappointed to see that it was more of a Princess’ smile than a child’s. Certainly, it was more refined, but a child would look better if she acted like one.
Still, this face was probably her typical expression. The face that she had made a moment ago was probably only shown on very rare occasions. He was content with seeing it once.
“Nah, well, it wasn’t something super great.”
“It was something super great. Defeating the bugs that completely annihilated my royal guards with ease. Thou said that swords were but antiques of the olden times, but it seemed to my eyes to be very incredible and strong. Thou wert especially cool when thou jumped off of the enemy and did a somersault in the air.”
She lowered her voice slightly and complimented him with an elegant smile. However, as she whispered the word “cool”, her eyes sparkled brightly and strongly, just like a child’s.
“That’s just an illusion created because those bugs were weird. If your guards had been armed with heavier firearms instead of just guns, they would have been much more effective.”
Despite everything, swords are just swords, Kael’s wave of his hand seemed to tell her so.
Perhaps slightly useful in a hand-to-hand fighting situation, where one would have to engage in close combat- but it was meaningless in the battlefields of war.
“Seriously, send me some of your subordinates each armed with a machine gun. I’d be riddled with bullets and miserably defeated. I don’t know about a higher class demon’s magical powers, but I’m literally nothing when it comes to battle.”
“Perhaps that is true, but the one who saved me in this moment was thee. That is the most obvious truth. Hence, take pride. I shall officially reward thee as soon as we return to the royal capital.”
“Eh, I don’t really need any extra rewards.”
Kael shrugged. Though he had been entangled in quite a troublesome task in the middle of his slumber, all that mattered was the smile of the little kid in front of his eyes.
‘Guess it’s okay to exercise from time to time.’
Wasn’t it better than seeing that face of hers crumpled in fear and pain while rolling around, separated from its body? At any rate, it seemed that they had safely escaped.