Five days after the day of the localized, torrential downpour, which had been accompanied by thunderclouds, Prime Minister Saion was rending his hair in his official residence. The bill for the change in next year’s elementary and middle school lunch nutrition standards laid besides him, but he did not give it so much as a glance. He could not afford to care about the brats’ meals when his neck was on the line. The committee should just tell them to take whatever was given to them.
“Kuu. How should I dig up that mountain?”
Little remained of the time given by that person. Two years had passed since he had invested, under a borrowed name, to catch two birds with one stone: to follow that person’s orders and to earn some cash. To have failed after making a new special law and an aggressive assassination attempt, thinking that this would be it…
‘There must be a way……’
On top of that, that person had ordered two things. A goal separate from the development of the mountain, to obtain the [key] – the royal treasure given to the winner of the Royal Battle Tournament that was held every four years, as their symbol of victory. To obtain [The Holy Sword – Arantmis].
After continuously rending his hair, he bolt up from his seat with a sudden revelation.
‘What am I anguished over when there is such a simple solution?’
He did not need to try to solve everything separately, but solve them all at once. He headed to the committee’s grand library immediately. The book should be there.
An hour later, finally holding the book, he left work early and descended into the secret chamber of his private residence. Written on the book was [The Comprehensive Compilation of Summoning Demons].
“Fufufufu. Turns out I am a genius after all.”
Other than the right to wield the treasured sword for four years, the winner of the tournament is given the right to ask for one wish to the crowned head. It was tradition to grant their wish as long as it wasn’t completely unreasonable. Hence, if the person he had sent out won and wished for the development of the struggling Mount Louvre, he could solve two issues at once.
“Hahhahahaha. I could’ve done this from the start. I attempted to make the solution unnecessarily difficult.”
The issue was sending someone who would definitely win the tournament.
‘Though my original plan was to bribe every candidate who seemed like they could win,”
One brat weighed on his mind. The black haired boy that the queen had appointed overnight as first knight – an absurd position. He did not look that strong, but he had escaped, with the queen, from 300 bullet-reflecting bugs. It was probably true that he was a special agent who had received special training.
On top of that, since she had made him, who was supposed to live as a shadow, a first knight, it was obvious that he would show absolute loyalty. Bribing him would be impossible.
‘Then there is only one solution. I obtain the card that will win for certain, and send him out to the competition.’
The Royal Battle Tournament was a martial arts competition, not modern firearms. Although it was an event that been reduced to a festival, unlike in the past when they were looking for the strongest knight, that worked to his favour.
If it was a match that was fought using not firearms, but the weapon arts of the medieval ages, there were existences that could not possibly lose.
“Hm. I should first find someone who would sell their soul instead of me. Where would I find such a person?”
There would be an overflowing amount of people who would do it, saying that it was just a tournament, if he offered about a billion Geld.
“Is that your trump card to win the tournament?”
The Prime Minister kneeled immediately at that person’s voice, which came from the bug sitting near his ear.
“I…… It is.”
“That’s not bad. If so, you shall do the summoning yourself.”
“Pardon? But there is no need to……”
“The rank of the summoned devil is deeply related to the purity of the summoner’s soul. I will not allow an inch of negligence in this matter. It is not something you should borrow anothers’ hands for.”
The Prime Minister became tearful. Even though he was doing this for his own well being, he was told to put his own soul on the line.
“Do you intend to go against me?”
“I do not. How could I possibly? I will do so.”
The Prime Minister bowed right away.
‘Kuu. It can’t be helped, then.’
In any case, it was a tournament that typical martial art masters participated in. On top of that, since using magic openly would not be allowed, there shouldn’t be much soul to consume anyway. It was a sacrifice that was necessary this time, in order to protect his status.
He rummaged through the book, looking for a specific way to summon a sword-wielding demon. It would be troublesome if something specialising in breathing fire or transforming into mist accidentally got summoned.
‘Phew, it’s here. Good. That’s the way.’
A moment later, he began to draw a summoning circle with virgin blood that he had sneaked out from the hospital. Although it was written that his own blood would be better, he could not wound his precious body.
‘Since it says that virgin blood is enough. More like, this is virgin blood, right?’
Though he had searched through the database and picked the blood of children as much as possible, he was still uneasy.
‘I guess it should be okay even if it isn’t a 100%, but a little mixed.’
If it really didn’t work, he could just summon again.
After eagerly drawing the circle, he placed six freshly slaughtered mountain goats that had been air delivered around the circle. Then, he recited the summoning words.
“Mighty, almighty ruler of the devildom;
The possessor of the power that reigns over the lands;
The firmest demon king who bears inviolable authority;
With human blood, I hereby open the door to thy territories.
Creating the pathway with the lives of this land’s occupants
and creating the root with the beast of the six overlords;
I seek thy power.
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.”
Waves of strength overflowed from the summoning circle, and the dark stream of air that branched out from it flew to the Prime Minister’s right hand, engraving it. While frowning at the biting pain, he continued reciting the promised words.
“Send me one whose power splits a rock;
Whose legs cause the land to tremble;
And whose body is made of steel.
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!”
The ground shook once and the stone flooring smashed, its shards flying in all directions like they had been hit by an explosion. When the rampaging gravel-storm died down, the crest of a bull was engraved onto the Prime Minister’s right hand. A red-haired giant, his height exceeding two metres, appeared inside of the enchanted circle. A giant sword that looked like it could split open a bull with one swing hung from his back.
“I am Archfield, baron of the demonic realm. Who are you, summoner?”
“Ohh, a baron! It’s a success!”
The Prime Minister smiled widely. It was only fourth class demons that used the title of a baron. Considering that the stories in the records showed that generally, even if a human sacrificed their soul, it only resulted in summoning a strong fifth class devil, a fourth class was truly a huge success. Once the class changed, the difference in power literally entered a different dimension. If a fifth class was a dog, a fourth class would be a lion. As estimated by scholars, its power made it a killer that could go against even the military power of a contemporary battalion armed with modern firearms. The likes of human martial artists would not even stand a chance.
“My name is Saion. I wish for your participation and victory in the upcoming tournament. Can you promise that you will not lose against human competitors?”
“Hah. Are human warriors the only competitors? Are there none that have received a heavenly weapon?”
“Of course. Everyone will merely demonstrate skills using normal weapons such as spears and swords, or fight barehanded.”
“Then I will. If not for the technology of the heavens, I promise to never lose against a human.”
“Then let us proceed with the contract.”
Saion’s thoughts settled down at the demon baron Archfield’s reassuring words. He was uneasy that he had put his soul on the line, but it was a fourth class demon. The demon would defeat all the puny human martial artists without really needing his soul.
After completing the detailed contract and Archfield’s entry registration, Saion smiled broadly. With this, he could recover from his previous, failed assassination attempt.
* * *
Yulia sank deep into thought after receiving the report that the Prime Minister had hired someone to enter the tournament. It was obvious what the Prime Minister was thinking. He was probably planning to make the person he had bribed wish for something that was all harm and no good.
‘However, that person…… His skill of handling a task is outstanding when he is moving for his own benefit.’
If the Prime Minister had hired him with confidence, it was quite clear that he would be a person who possessed incredible skills that the Prime Minister had found by searching through the whole world. On top of that, there was a good chance that he had also bribed many others, including this contestant. If so, there was only one winner that she could trust for sure.
She called one of the maids, who were always on standby right beside her, in order to serve her.
“Yes, your majesty.”
“Bring Sir Kael to me. I desire to speak with him alone, so bring him to Room Setrone.”
“I will do so.”
Kael, who was enjoying his nap while sprawled across the sofa in the first knight’s office, woke up at the suddenly dropping temperature.
‘What the hell?’
Did someone turn off the heating? No, but it wasn’t on in the first place, since the days are already warmer.
“Are you awake?”
In that spot stood the maid who had made him uncomfortable earlier by offering to serve him while he bathed, her rectangular glasses shining. The source of the chill was none other than her. The temperature definitely dropped wherever her gaze pointed.
Kael shuddered. She had not shaken him awake, nor had she emitted any killing intent, but had made him wake up out of coldness; could this be her own special magical ability?
“Her majesty calls upon you. She wishes to see you in Room Setron.”
Kael swallowed the words he had wanted to say: tell her to come herself, because I’m too lazy. This maid was also somewhat frightening, in a different way from Sestina.
He entered the room that the maid led him to, grumbling. Yulia was sitting inside, and the door shut quietly behind him.
“Art thou here? I have prepared some refreshments, so feel free to eat.”
“You probably didn’t call just to offer me food. What’s your business?”
“Is it not acceptable to call thee because I wanted to hold a sweet, momentary tea time with just the two of us?”
“As if you’d do that.”
Kael sat down, scoffing. After pouting, pulling back her lips, and puffing out and sucking in her cheeks a few times, Yulia fixed her posture once again. She spoke with a queenly, dignified expression.
“Soon, there will be a tournament hosted by the royal house.”
Kael picked his ear.
“It is a very traditional tournament; thus, even now, it is a contest in which contestants exhibit their fighting skills solely using old weapons like spears and swords, or parts of the body, such as fists and feet. In other words, since no modern firearms are included, it is a battleground where thy power will easily be absolute.”
Yulia’s eyebrows twitched. Kael blew on the earwax that was on his fingertip.
“The winner of the match can ask me for one wish, and it is the tradition from the olden days to grant it as long as it is not absurd. However, this time, the Prime Minister hired a player on his side and sent him out to participate.”
Yulia’s hand trembled. Kael now picked out whatever was underneath his fingernails.
“Aargh! Thou wouldst have noticed by now! I am telling thee to enter it and win it. I do not know what others would wish for if they win. Especially if he is the one bribed by the Prime Minister.”
Yulia finally jumped up from her seat and pointed her finger at him.
“Yaawn. So if I enter and win, say that it’s good for you because you don’t get any weird wishes; what good comes for me?”
“Couldst thou not pry into such things and just say something like yes, if it is for your majesty?”
“Wow. Now you wanna exploit me with no pay?”
“There is a great amount of reward money for the one who seizes victory.”
Yulia said prudently, bringing down her finger and gathering her two hands. That pose was closer to that of a young princess than a queen, and it had a cute taste to it. Of course, Kael blew it off.
“My pay is already too much – so much that it’s hard to take care of.”
“If thou win, thou can use the Holy Sword, Arantmis, for four years. Speaking of that sword, a long time ago – “
“My current sword is good enough. Also, it’s not like you’re completely giving it to me. Just four years would be even more annoying, because I gotta make sure not to lose it.”
“As I have already said, the winner can ask me to grant a wish. In other words, thou may also wish for one.”
“Ooh, then you’re gonna void the contract?”
“I have already told thee that absurd wishes are not granted.”
“Then I ain’t got no business either.”
“Thou may also ask me to give thee a congratulatory kiss.”
Yulia’s eyes sparkled. She swept her hair behind her head as if certain of her victory, and even smiled elegantly.
“Whoa, you’re not even gonna put effort into it?”
“Hnng. I’m saying that if thou would wish for something like please protect the vivid forestry of Mount Louvre after winning, I could completely halt the Prime Minister’s ambitious construction!”
The facade of a prudent princess shattered in the end. Yulia rolled up her hand into a fist and repeatedly struck the armrests.
“Just what are you going to do by protecting that mountain? Haven’t you already stopped him from taking away the medical budget?”
“Separate from that, I wish to preserve that mountain.”
After catching her breath, Yulia once again fixed her posture. However, this time her gaze turned a little more serious and grave, which made her look slightly closer to a queen than a princess. In reaction to that, Kael started to pick his other ear.
“Why? To keep it as your vacation place?”
“It is because that mountain is fundamentally the habitat of many protected species, and because it has also been reported that there is an extremely dense worldstone buried in it. However, as thou also knowst, the ground where the worldstones are dug up turns into a wasteland. It will not recover, even if it is given fertiliser.”
“Well, that can’t be helped. There’s no way for a land that has lost its guarding power to be able to keep its blessing of life, can it?”
Kael held himself back from blurting out why are you talking about something that a seven-year-old wouldn’t comprehend. His partner of conversation was also merely eight.
“That is correct. There is no choice but to dig out the worldstones in order to operate the machines, but… seeing that it is not originally a wasteland like deserts or the polar regions, I believe that it is not right to touch a place where nature is so luxuriant.”
“Such a petty thing to worry about. Now you’re unsatisfied by poor citizens and concerned about the squirrels in the forest?”
“It is as thou sayst.”
She nodded, slightly lowering her darkened gaze, which slightly shaded her eyes. Kael took slight damage as Yulia responded seriously to his sarcastic remark.
‘I thought she’d be pissed around this point.’
“Although our lives have become as enriched as those of the heavenly beings’ after getting our hands on Heaven’s science, I am still anxious about the thoughtless waste of worldstones. I believe that even humans will not be safe where nature is destroyed. On top of that, another thing that concerns me is the warning of the scholars, which predicts that, by the way things are progressing now, the worldstones on earth will all be used up in three hundred years.”
Her silver eyes that sparkled wisely were looking at something that no typical people could see.
“Well, all’s fine. I get your concerns and your worries, but why are you asking me to stop that?”
“What didst thou hear until now? Have I not told thee that thou art the best candidate to win the tournament?”
“Nah. Go search for some other human. I’m too lazy. I’d rather sleep.”
“Or command me by using your soul. Then I will obey. You know that that’s how our relationship works.”
“Thou didst it for free last time!”
Yulia held up her fist. Kael bobbed his leg, as if to say hit me if you wanna.
“That’s because it was your first time. Did you perhaps expect me to keeping giving you a sample? What do you say; you can’t, since you don’t want to waste your precious soul to order me to do something like this, right?”
She shook her fist, then brought it down and fixed her posture.
“All is fine. Then, I shall pay the price.”
Kael, who was being sarcastic, was taken aback. Had he pushed her too much? He was aware that she was hot-tempered, but he did not expect her to actually gamble her soul.
‘W…… What do I do?’
He felt as if he would be held by his weakness and she would use the same method in the future, should he tell her not to do so at this point, and that he would just do it for her. However, if he really forced her to order him by using her soul…… If these instances repeated and stacked a few times, one day, her soul would actually be devoured by him and disappear. He refused to go through that horrible experience for a second time.
To think that he had pushed her into a corner, yet had been cornered himself in a single move.
‘This is bad. To think that she would offer her soul just because she didn’t want a mountain to be dug up……”
He knew that she was a kid who could not make heads nor tails of a situation, but he did not know that she would be this stubborn.
Yulia raised her hand just like that.
“S…… Stop that.”
“I have already decided.”
As she said so, she undid the straps of her dress.
Kael stared, dumbfounded, at her who, instead of invoking the seal of contract, was revealing her white undergarments by pushing her dress down to her waist. What the hell was she doing?
She approached him and pushed her chest towards him. Although it was small and flat, it suit her white undergarments, making her look cute and adorable. After clutching her hands together and confirming her determination, she stiffened her neck and threw her gaze straight at him as she announced,
“Here, thou may touch my chest as thy pleases.”
For a moment, Kael wondered if his eardrums were malfunctioning.
“Thou dost not need to refuse. I have already learnt that men take pleasure in touching a beauty’s chest. I offer thee the chest of a queen that not anyone can touch. Aren’t thou satisfied?”
“…… So you’re telling me to participate and win in the tournament because…… you’ll let me feel your chest?”
Her cheeks were tinted slightly pink, as if to show her embarrassment. However, the manner in which she kept her back straight and refused to avert her gaze, as if to say that she was willing to give up anything for the country, was truly dignified. Even so, the ends of her hair trembled gently and cutely. In front of her, who showed firm resolution towards an absurd idea, Kael momentarily lost even the energy to tackle her words.
“Originally, it is something that should only be allowed to my husband; however, I have already devoted my body to this country. There is nothing that I cannot give thee.”
He placed his hand on his forehead. It was definitely a better development than being commanded with her soul on the line, yet, why did his head hurt so much?
“What you’re saying ain’t wrong, but do you think that you have a chest to touch?”
Yulia flinched. Her ears slightly leaned backwards and returned.
“Tch. Is that so? Dost thou not like the shape?”
After a short moment of thought, Yulia picked up two apples from the fruit basket that was set on the table. When she shoved them into her undergarments, the place swelled up. Although, of course, its shape was clearly different from real breasts.
However, the person herself seemed satisfied by the created curves; Yulia leaned back her head about fifteen degrees and turned up her nose.
“Here, art thou satisfied now?”
“Don’t play with food.”
Kael leaked out an empty laugh and pulled the apples back out. He bit into one, since it was in his hands. It was crunchy and sweet, fitting for a product supplied to the royal family. Yulia’s eyes opened wide. Her pupils grew with them.
“Aah. How dare thee bite into my breast so aggressively.”
A piece of apple got stuck in Kael’s throat.
“How clumsy. Thou art not a child, yet what is this?”
Yulia clicked her tongue as she patted his back.
“Phew. I almost died. Anyway, I’m not doing it, so take that! Just recruit another guy from the guards and send him out!”
“Art thou planning to back out after eating my breasts?”
“Don’t say slander that could bury a demon! The story’s over, ‘cause I’m not gonna do it.”
Kael proclaimed clearly and ran away from the spot. It would be troublesome if he stayed and Yulia really brought forth the command of soul.
‘Well, she’ll understand and give up, since I’ve gone to such measures.”
Kael, who had believed that, regretted his naivety as he read the newspaper the next day.
[First Knight Sir Kael officially registered to participate in the royal battle tournament. Just what level of fighting skill could he, a former special secret agent, possess?]
Articles with such headlines were reported everywhere, on every newspaper.
‘Gaaaaah. This kid.’
He had clearly said that he would not do it. Honestly though, how could all of the females around him share the exact same quality of not listening to others and pushing things forward one-sidedly? Did they take pleasure in him inevitably going along with their decisions, after deciding to hold back his anger?
Huffing, he burst into Yulia’s office right away.
“Ah, your excellency……”
The guards who were guarding the office were taken aback, but could not stop him due to his aggressive manner. Yulia and the Minister of Justice, who were talking inside, turned to face the entrance.
“Your majesty! I have something that I must tell you, just between the two of usss!”
Although, it was certainly an act of rudeness that severely violated the code of conduct within the royal court, the maids and guards nearby only observed the atmosphere and did not dare to speak up. Yulia scolded him sternly, turning her gaze away. However, for some reason, the corners of her mouth were raised in a slight smile.
“Now is not a convenient hour. I am currently receiving the regular report from the Ministry of Justice.”
“In that case, I shall wait.”
“Then we shall do it like this: let us meet in front of the clock tower in West Fallen Square at seven tonight. Wait for me there, in disguise.
“That would be great, your majesty. I will do so.”
Kael ground his teeth. He would not be tricked in the same way anymore. He would make sure to discourage her this time.
Half past six in the evening. Kael arrived early, and waited in front of the clock tower, wearing a hat and a pair of sunglasses. On top of that, he was wearing a t-shirt and jeans instead of his uniform. Due to way he was dressed, nobody really recognised him as the figure of interest in the recent newspapers.
At seven on the dot, Yulia appeared in front of him, wearing a brunette wig over her silver hair. She had also changed her eye colour into gold by wearing colour contacts. The yellow polka-dot blouse and the short pink skirt that she wore instead of her dress were also pretty, suiting her young body well. The backpack, Pristine, that she wore on her back was also unfittingly oversized, and that, in turn, created a cute atmosphere. On top of that, the smiling rabbit-shaped pendant that she wore around her neck instead of her pearl necklace was truly an eye-drawing point.
Of course, such a thing did not distract Kael, who was enraged.
Kael was about to firmly express his complaints when Yulia spilt hers first.
“It is our first date; couldst thou not have paid a little more attention to thy attire?”
Forgetting the main topic, Kael reacted to the very dangerous word.
“Couldst thou not have……”
“No, not that. Before that.”
“I said our first date.”
“What’s a date, what!”
“Didst thou not say that thou wished for some time to ourselves? I was actually quite delighted by thy enthusiasm.”
Yulia smiled brightly, clasping her hands together. Her eyes sparkled beautifully, without so much as a single flaw.
“Still, do make sure that thou get the timing better next time. There are watching eyes. Of course, I am not necessarily saying that I dislike aggressiveness; however……”
She slightly lowered her gaze, rubbing her index fingers together. Kael staggered, his legs having lost their strength.
“……That’s not it……This isn’t a date……”
“It is, is it not?”
“Who asked you out on a date?! I went to you to complain about how you advanced this matter all on your own!”
Kael held up a newspaper right in front of her nose.
“What dost thou mean on my own? Thou have already received the payment for it. Dost thou mean to back out now, after biting my chest?”
The people around them, who had been watching them because they were quarrelling with their voices raised, began to earnestly whisper amongst themselves. Kael realised that this was not a good place to argue.
“Don’t say such dangerous things. Who are you trying to get ostracized?”
It would be the end of him if someone filed a report and the police came.
“Did I ever talk about something that never happened?”
“F……First……let’s move to somewhere else……”
Why did he have to be conscious of others when he was the one who should have been complaining? It was incredibly unfair.
“That is indeed a good idea. Dost thou have a restaurant in mind? An outdoor cafe with a pleasant atmosphere is fine, as well as street food. Try leading as thou please.”
“No, I said that wasn’t the case.”
Should he first clear up the misunderstanding that this was a date, or complain about the tournament participation registration? Or……
[Sexual assault on a child……]
……should he do something about those whispers?
Kael, who was agonising over his options, suddenly woke up at the trace of [magic] that emanating from the other side of the square. Just now, when he sensed the other, the other also sensed him. The ability to sense each other that only those who could use magic could feel.
One thing got caught in that sensation. The existence of another demonic being that should not be here, above the ground.
It would have been a relief if it was Dewey, but it wasn’t. However, it wasn’t an unfamiliar magical power, either.
“Shh. Thou must be careful when addressing me by my name where there are many people present.”
“Listen carefully. If something happens, run straight to the hospital where Sestina is. Calling the likes of the police will not solve this. Dispatch a battalion……no, a regiment just to be safe.”
His eyes settled down and turned cold as he stood between her and the direction of the approaching magical power. His palm, which he had placed on the sword that was hanging from his side so that he would be able to draw it at anytime, became drenched in sweat.
“What is the matter?”
At the same time as Yulia asked that anxiously, after noticing the grave atmosphere, the owner of that magical power appeared in front of the two. A muscular giant who was more than two metres tall and holding a huge guitar case.
“Ah, he is the tournament participant that the prime minister hired……”
“Baron Archfield. Did you come as well?”
“Ufufu. Your face was on the photograph that my summoner showed me, saying that this was the opponent that I must definitely win against.”
“Is that so.”
“My goodness. Since we have met like this, it seems like a good idea to trample on you now, without having to wait until the tournament.”
“How about controlling yourself, since this isn’t the demonic realm? Your summoner would probably want that as well.”
Kael flashed a cynical smile. However, Yulia saw a drop of sweat roll down the nape of his neck. He, who had faced hundreds of bugs and confidently dashed through them, was tense with nervousness. Not to mention, to be called baron……
Although it was a position which only remained as a title in their country, Nesland, it was the symbol of power that revealed his status as a 4th class in the demonic realm. On the other hand, Kael himself had said that he was a 5th class demon. That meant……
“Cocky brat! Is that how you should treat your superior?”
When Archfield glared at him, Kael suddenly collapsed onto the ground.
Kael laid down flat, as if he was jammed under a heavy stack of rocks, and his body trembled. When she saw him force his mouth shut and hold in his groans, Yulia desperately called out.
“Don’t come! Do as I said before!”
She froze in place and merely trembled, her legs seeming to disobey her.
“Kuku. I wanted to beat you up at least once. The way you acted so stiff-necked with your guardian looking after your ass, when you yourself was nothing, always got on my nerves.”
“That’s a funny coincidence. I really hated how you only went wild in front of weak-looking ones, while you could only squirm in front of the upper classes.”
Despite being on his stomach and unable to move, Kael smirked, lifting only his head up.
Kael’s neck was finally broken. Pressed by an unknown force, capillaries all over his body burst and blood oozed out of his nose, mouth, and eyes. Archfield stepped on his back. The sound of his bones being crushed echoed.
“I’d rather off you right here, but I can’t help it, since it would go against my summoner’s order to stay out of trouble until the tournament participation. There, I shall overwhelm you properly.”
After those words, Archfield turned around and left.
Even as he cursed, Kael could not get up. Thanks to the bastard’s temper, it seemed that his ribs had broken and stabbed his lungs.
While hearing Yulia anxiously call his name, he lost consciousness.
He woke up on a bed in Sestina’s hospital.
He briefly spat out a moan, feeling pain rush to his chest as he regained his consciousness.
“Art thou awake?”
Yulia, who was dozing off in the seat next to him, hurriedly opened her eyes. Dewey and Sestina, who were also guarding his side, took a step closer.
“Is thy body alright?”
“Are you well, master?”
“To think that you have only just regained consciousness……did I raise you too softly?”
“What are you all so worried about? You know that the healing power of demons of my type is outstanding.”
Kael sat up, ignoring the pain.
“But, I was told that five ribs were broken.”
Yulia climbed onto the bed and fiddled with his bandaged chest with her small, cute hands. She only softly touched it, as if she was worried that it would worsen if she used too much force. The light in her subdued eyes was much weaker and darker than usual.
“That bastard really crushed a bunch.”
Kael grumbled as he smiled leisurely.
“He is also……a demon like thee, no, one that is of a higher class than thee, am I right?”
“Yeah. You probably realised, but he’s a 4th class. We’ve been on bad terms since we got into a fight one time in the demonic realm.”
“Perhaps it was my mistake to intervene between you two.”
Sestina gently let out a sigh.
“You wouldn’t have ended up like this if you had diligently consumed souls and trained you body as I told you to after the incident. Fuuu. My chest hurts……but I won’t console you this time, even if it is a difficult lesson.”
Sestina firmly closed her lips, as if to say that she could be strict when she had to be.
“I didn’t expect you to in the first place.”
“Let us give up on the tournament.”
Yulia suddenly spoke while continuing to fiddle with his chest.
“Eh, what’s up? After signing me up for participation by yourself?”
“That was because I believed that there was no way that thou would lose; I am not so foolish as to force a subordinate into an impossible mission. The strength of a fourth class demon that I had seen myself – it was truly overwhelming.”
Yulia briefly shivered, as if she was still afraid.
“For the prime minister to summon a higher class demon than I did……I had not expected him to have a talent other than digging and government fund embezzlement.”
She lightly bit her lower lip, frustrated.
“Anyway, it cannot be helped, since it came down to this. I shall give up on the tournament. It was nothing more than an excuse to fight in the first place. There would not be a problem with facing him when he comes up with another political trick.”
“Are you sure?”
“Fu. What dost thou see me as?”
Yulia crossed her arms and stiffened her neck as she turned up her nose. Though her 8-year-old height did not disappear, despite her actions.
“Although it has only been two years since I first sat on the throne, I have thirteen wins to eight losses in the battle against the prime minister. In particular, my recent records say four wins and one loss. I have already almost completely figured out his pattern. Thou may believe in me and just concentrate on healing thyself.”
“Then, I guess……”
“My, what is that weak answer, Kael? You must not be like that.”
Sestina grabbed Kael’s hand and brought it in between her breasts. Kael flinched at the squishy feeling on the tips of his fingers.
“Did you already forget my lesson? If you have received something, you must return the favour; if you receive kindness, you must return kindness. That is the correct thing to do. Do you remember my words now?”
Her voice carried an unworldly holiness as she presented him with her lesson, smiling gently. Even though it was a common saying, when she said it, there was a much larger resonance. It was full of divinity, like an oracle given to the human world by a goddess.
Kael answered gruffly, being stubborn. If she was planning to use that life philosophy story to tell him to enter the tournament because he had received kindess from Yulia, she had found the wrong address.
“So you must take revenge. Since Archfield poked you, wouldn’t it be returning the favor to annihilate his entire family and relatives? Do the correct thing, as a great demon.”
“What part of that is correct?! That’s literally killing all the innocent ones as well!”
Kael yelled impatiently. Of course. There was no way that the coming and going correct thing that she was saying could be normal. Honestly, he had never seen someone whose appearance and atmosphere differed as much from their actual words as hers did.
“More like, the opposition is a fourth class baron. I’m a typical 5th class swordman. There’s no chance of victory.”
Sestina gently sighed as she looked at him with pitying eyes. She stroked his arm, embracing his hand that she had put in between her breasts more tightly.
“How stubborn. Then, somehow overcome that much difference with your willpower. You will be able to do it.”
“Sorry. I don’t grow that stuff. Ya think I’d listen to you, when even the summoner is taking back her orders?”
Kael smiled confidently, taking out his hand. This time, Yulia was also on his side. Two against one. He wasn’t afraid of Sestina.
“Haa. Honestly. To think that you, who must become a great demon, would leave the one who first picked the fight alone.”
“You see, my creed is to live prudently and for a long time, even if I must be cowardly.”
He swung his legs back and forth like a delinquent, but stopped when pain reached his chest. Yulia stood between him and Sestina. She lightly opened up her arms and let out the vibes that seemed to say if thou want to hit Kael, thou must face me first.
“Do not pressure Kael. Sometimes, retreating is the wise thing to do.”
“Is it really fine, my honourable queen, to hand over the Sword of the Key to them?”
Sestina’s atmosphere changed completely. Her smile was still gentle, but turned into a smile that looked like a suspicious mask that did not allow the other to read her thoughts. More than anything, the smile that settled between her squinting eyes proudly – way too proudly – announced that she was plotting something, to the point where it seemed dubious.
“The Sword of the Key? Isn’t the prize for the tournament victor Holy Sword Arantmis?”
Kael asked back, confused.
“The other name of that sword is the Sword of the Key. I told you to remember the artifacts remaining in the middle world.”
Artifact. The physical heritage from the War of Dawn era, the only era when the Gods and the Demon Kings worked together. Their uses were all different, ranging from Yulia’s talking backpack, Pristine, to an absolute weapon with a power that even modern weapons could not compare to.
“That sword……is the artifact called the Sword of the Key?”
“I have undoubtedly taught you the list, but it seems you’ve forgotten it all. Aah, could it be that my teaching was bad?”
Sestina looked up to the ceiling and sighed, clasping her hands together to make a praying pose. Ignoring her act like a self-blaming teacher, Kael looked at Yulia.
“Change of plans. I should enter that tournament after all, since we signed up for it and all.”
“But, with that body?”
“I told you, I’m different from humans. This level of damage will heal after a good night’s sleep.”
He felt the same pain when some part of his body was broken, and he would still die if he received damage past his limit. He couldn’t regenerate during battle or anything, but his healing speed was multiple times faster than a human’s. A subtle strength. That was a fifth class swordman-type demon.
Yulia slowly shook her head. She carefully placed her hand on his chest.
“Even so, the difference in power between thee and the opponent is overwhelming. Thou dost not need to overdo it. Thou must feel pain like any other, although thou may heal faster. I do not wish for thee to be in this state again.”
“Well, if it was a real all-out battle, I’d have no chance. But the participation of a ‘demon’ is originally prohibited in that tournament, right?”
“That is correct. It is a traditional event where human knights would fight by using their skills in military arts.”
“Then he wouldn’t be able to use anything like ‘magic’.”
“That is indeed true. I could simply disqualify him if he does something that reveals his identity.”
Yulia’s expression brightened.
“Yeah. So in the end, it’s purely a battle of swordsmanship. Though, the huge sword that he swings around with his absurd muscles ain’t weak. Heh.”
Kael flashed a grin at her.
“You saw my skills on the first day, right? I’ll win.”
“Yeah. I have seen it. I believe in thee. I will count on thee.”
Yulia clapped and smiled brightly. Her silver eyes sparkled beautifully, and her hair swayed with them. Unable to control her excitement, she stamped her feet on the ground and shook her body.
“Just make sure you definitely disqualify him if he uses magic because he is unable to suppress his desire to win.”
“Do not worry. I shall look over and judge the tournament myself. I will make sure to stop even the prime minister from doing something like bribing the referee.”
“That will be enough. Now go back and sleep. You’re not gonna grow.”
“Yes. Thou must also recuperate. Rest well.”
Yulia exited the room with excited, carefree steps. Her feet kicked and bounced off the ground.
“Wait. Just one last thing.”
Kael stopped Yulia, who was just about to open the door.
“What is the matter?”
“Let me say this clearly; this has nothing to do with your request! I’m just annoyed by the thought of rolling my tail away at that bastard! Don’t get the wrong idea!”
Yulia paused her laugh, widened her eyes, and let out a deep sigh. Then she threw him a gaze full of pity.
“It took me almost two years to understand the prime minister’s method, but it did not even take me ten days for thee. What a simple thinking process.”
“There is a timing to looking embarrassed; thou art too sloppy. Bring me a more creative tactic next time. Then, I might go along with it. Rest well.”
With that, Yulia left. Kael, who was left behind, was frozen in place.
Did a kid……an eight-year-old kid……just call me a simpleton?!
What had he lived for up until now?
‘I can’t do this anymore……I should really think about it when this tournament is over.’
He couldn’t live while being ignored by a kid. He had to somehow find a way to definitely put her off, so that she would void the contract from her side. He had pride as the older one; this was a battle that he could not possibly back down from.
Dewey finally opened her mouth after the guards escorted Yulia away.
“Will you be okay, master?”
“Although it is a battle where no magic is openly allowed, Archfield’s power is very suitable for making it look like he hasn’t used magic. It will be simple if he uses pressure magic and pretends that you have just lost your stance for a second.”
There would be no effect visible to the eye, and no sound detectable to the ear. A little awkwardness could not be evidence. He had the power to create an invisible wall to crush the opponent and break their organs and bones.
“Don’t tell Yulia.”
“Rather, it would be better if I……”
“You are the one who can’t fight without using magic. Leave it to me.”
“However, it would be better to give up the battle, like you had decided before……”
“Dewey. You know what kind of artifact have “key” in their names, right?”
“Yes, it is the title given to items that are related to the seal of the fourth world.”
The heavens, the earth, and the demonic realm. It was said that this universe was made of these three worlds and the emptiness in between, but that was not exactly true.
There was one more world. [The forgotten alien world], where monsters with incredible builds, which the one who gave birth to everything had created by accident, were sealed.
“The army of bugs that I haven’t seen even in the demonic realm, and the Sword of Key……same with that prime minister guy who even summoned a demon – they all give me a bad feeling. I don’t have a solid idea of why, but it would be good for me to get my hands on it for now.”
Dewey opened her mouth, as if she wanted to say something. However, she only stared at him sadly, her words stuck in her throat. Then, she slowly lowered her head. What escaped her mouth was undoubtedly different from what she had originally planned to say.
“Splendid, Kael. You must aim for revenge, just like that, in order to become a great demon in the future.”
Sestina happily smiled at him. It was a smile full of pride and reward.
“Shut up, you black-hearted woman.”
Kael laid down after snapping at the praising Sestina. He also had to sleep well to ensure that his body was properly healed.
After a week, the day of the tournament finally arrived. Kael obviously passed the pure skill demonstration that was held for the initial preliminaries. When the list of matches was created for the second preliminaries, which would happen as a freestyle group slugfest, Kael and Archfield’s blocks were placed on completely opposite sides, forcing them to only be able to meet in the finals.
“Were you the one who did this?”
Kael asked, surrounded by the three women who were visiting him in the waiting room.
“Fufu. Don’t ask.”
Yulia laughed insidiously, covering the corners of her mouth with her hand. Her eyes twitched slightly and a dark aura curled up around her. It was obviously a trick pulled by the host.
“Ah, is that so……”
Kael didn’t complain. To be honest, this was preferable. This way, he would not face the unreasonable situation where he possibly lost after somehow seizing victory over Archfield. It would also be difficult for him to use magic, as there would be the maximum amount of watching eyes.
“Master, please accept this.”
Dewey handed him a neatly folded paper envelope.
Kael thoughtlessly stuck his hand in that envelope.
“It is a talisman of victory that is traditional to this country. I thought that, since it is the tradition of this place, there might be some effect.”
“Really, what is this?”
Kael’s body froze when he felt around inside. Floaty frill. A texture way too soft to be a garment worn on the outside. On top of that, the general shape. It was a piece of clothing……but out of all of them……
“T, this…….This is……”
“Aah. That is most unfair.”
Yulia’s ears momentarily leaned back and returned. She opened her eyes widely, lifting her index finger to point at Dewey.
“To think that thou have used such a tactic. That is something that a lady would give to their beloved one leaving for battle, overcoming her embarrassment and putting her prayer in it.”
“This is all I can do.”
Dewey tightly shut her lips and lowered her head. However, her cheeks were stained a slight shade of red, unlike normal.
“I also pray for your victory, Kael. I have prepared a hundred times more.”
Sestina just handed over a huge bundle to Kael.
“This must not be overlooked! If thou both do so, I must also do so now.”
Yulia wriggled as she put her hand into her skirt.
“I don’t need any of theseeee!!!”
Kael howled as he threw the stuff that they claimed to be talismans at the original owners.
“Don’t visit me until the tournament is over!”
“My. Would you not want some of our energy in the middle?”
“You’re helping by not coming! It’s like I won’t win what I am able to win when you people are here! It’s gonna bring me bad luck!”
Dewey hardened her expression at the words “bad luck”. Her hands stuck to her sides. Although she kept her strong face, the red tint disappeared from her cheeks. Only her gaze shook a little as she looked at Kael.
“My deepest apologies, master. If you are uneasy, I will only cheer for you from afar.”
Still leaving behind a prayer for victory, she bowed politely and walked outside of the waiting room.
“No, hold on. That’s not what I……”
“There was an era when they would not let a woman board a ship, thinking that they brought bad luck, but to think that thou would stay away from a woman before a match……true enough, there are some countries that do not let the players meet their wives during a sporting match. I shall respect thy wish.”
Yulia also turned away without further complaint.
“All right, Kael. But, you better be ready if you lose after all of this.”
Sestina threw a threatening comment with a gentle smile on her face, before burying his face in her breasts.
“I’ll do something three times worse than this if you lose.”
I’ll win. I must win. Kael vowed in his head.
“Then, I’ll cheer you on.”
Kael sighed when Sestina left as well. He felt as if all of his energy had been drained before the fight even began. Why were all three of them like this? Their personalities and appearances were all different, but there was one thing in common. The fact that they made him extremely exhausted.
“Her majesty and his subordinate……and even the female doctor of the rumours……”
“Your fortune seems to have really gotten the better of you, Sir Kael.”
Kael flinched as the men in the same block suddenly glared at him. No, what happened to them, when they could not even approach him, despite their curiosity, until just a moment ago?
“Hey, I think you’re all misunderstanding something……”
“Fufufu. What more is there to say when we have a battle approaching?”
“That’s right. Let’s meet on the field. On the field.”
Kael was dumbfounded to see everyone glare at him and him alone, their spirits suddenly lifted about two hundred percent after the three had gone. No, what the hell is wrong with them?! What part of that was worthy of jealousy?!
* * *
Kael passed the second round of preliminaries with difficulty. Of course, individual humans were all more than a level beneath him. Although he did not know how it would have been in the era when swords, spears, and bows rules, none of the current competitors had trained their martial arts to the extreme.
The problem was that, although it was a match where “the rule of free fighting” was in place, all of the participants jumped on him, as if they had planned it beforehand. Kael could not raise an objection, as creating a tactical alliance in order to eliminate the strong was also an accepted tactic.
A sword swung down at him from above.
“Not even one, but threee?!”
A spear came stabbing from the side.
“Isn’t it enough to be looked after by her majestyyyy?!”
A mace targeting his legs flew in.
“To hell with three-timing!”
A rapier bent and aimed for his throat.
Kael howled at them as they cooperated together with a brutal cry.
“I said it’s a misunderstandiiiing!”
Screw three-timing! I wish there was one with the proper qualities! He diligently attacked back as he shouted.
He slashed the swordsman’s side as he dodged the sword by twisting his body a little to the side. He pushed the spear away by striking its handle with his left hand and kicked the spearman’s chest. He jumped to dodge the mace and swung his elbow at the mace guy’s face. He twisted his neck to dodge the rapier just in time, before stabbing the rapier guy with his sword in exchange.
However, while he did so, more enemies with fiery eyes gathered around him, even as more collapsed, making the situation no better.
Kael ground his teeth. Why did he have to go through this pain when it would be much easier to fight one-on-one?
The culprits diligently fanned the flames from the special guests’ seats.
“You are doing well, Kael. No matter how many, small fries are not enough to be thy opposition. Win, Kael.”
Yulia briefly cheered him on and closed her mouth, deliberately adding weight to her voice to seem dignified. However, the corners of her mouth pointed slightly up, unable to stay still, showing her excited smile without restraint.
The fighting power of Kael’s “enemies” increased by about thirty percent after Kael received her majesty the queen’s cute smile.
“How dare you take her majesty’s smile!”
Kael slashed his thigh, dodging the giant sword that cut through horizontally.
“You can have it!”
“Seize victory, master.”
Dewey, who was wearing a properly stiffened military uniform and looked like a strong female warrior, cheered him on in a stoic manner. However, sorrow gently seeped out from her cold stare.
The fighting power of his enemies rose by another thirty percent at the touching support.
“What did you do with your subordinate?!”
‘I said I didn’t do anything.’
Kael dodged the flail, which hacked at him while wrongly interrogating him, by striking the other’s sensitive spot with his knee and digging into it. The other fell with foam in his mouth.
Even so, the enemies’ attacking power became even stronger.
“Do your best, Kael. I have prepared a special cheer for you.”
Sestina suddenly stripped off her white medical gown. The cheerleader uniform that she had put on beforehand was revealed underneath. A tanktop and short skirt. In her hands, cheering sticks that had been raised in a flash. The glamorous figure that was hidden under the gown generously exploded out. The pure image of the gown instantly turned into a voluptuous, sexy atmosphere.
She lifted one of her legs while waving her cheering sticks around.
Her short skirt swayed as her curvy legs split. Although her underwear did not show from in between them, dangerous angles that were close to revealing it were continuously created. Her waist and hips shook in turn and create a captivating circle alongside with her dance routine. Her big, yet solid breasts shook freely, up and down, right and left.
The fighting power of the cheered-on Kael’s “enemies” rose two times higher.
Now, they didn’t even bother to list the reasons. Only the cries of death rang out and concurrent attacks showered him.
Kael’s angry cries also rose.
Although the other two were cheering without knowing the consequences, Sestina was pretending to cheer him on, being fully aware of what would happen. The way she smiled, despite his glare, was evidence of that fact.
“Fuuuuuuuck! Do you think I’ll lose just because of that?!”
Kael, who had gotten increasingly angry, rampaged with his opponents. He continued to go wild: slashing, stabbing, blocking, spilling, and reflecting. During all the havoc, the conversation between the three women in the VIP seats continued.
“Mmmh. To show such an unexpected cheer – it exceeds my imagination. I have been defeated.”
Yulia looked at Sestina as she primly and lightly half-closed her eyes, taking her finger to her lips. Sestina sent her a gentle smile.
“That isn’t truly the case, my honourable queen. You are protecting Kael with your own style of cheering.”
“Yes. You are right. I must cheer like myself. Kael, I trust in thy victory, and will be waiting for it.”
Yulia raised her hand and waved it, pretending to be dignified.
“Victory to my master.”
Dewey chased him with her gaze, even while keeping her politeness.
Even the enemies that had fallen, hit by his fists or his feet, stood up again and charged at him. Kael silently screamed at the continuously rising attack power of the enemies.
‘Somebody please take those three away……’
It was only after an hour of struggle that he finally defeated them all.
* * *
With the main battles, which started the next day, lying ahead, Kael flopped down in his lodging. His demon body had already healed the physical exhaustion, but the mental exhaustion still remained. The damage that he had received from the cheers of the three throughout the match still had not disappeared.
‘Seriously, it’s a relief that there wasn’t an outstanding martial artist like the one I faced with my previous contractor.”
It was horrible to imagine the coordinated attacks of humans who were on the level of being called “meisters” or “masters”, depending on the country, in the era before he had gone to his long sleep. It was true, though, that people of that level would not participate in tournaments like this unless they had a specific reason, even in that era.
In any case, things had gone according to plan up until here. Well, it was way harder than he had planned, but he had won anyway.
‘I’m confident until the finals.’
He would not lose in a one-on-one.
The problem was undoubtedly the finals. Could he win? No, he had to win. The first problem was the invisible magical attack that would fly towards him.
‘Although I have no chances of victory if he just uses his magic without limit……’
However, he could tell that that prime minister guy was a greedy type at first sight. Would such a person handle a demon, going as far as putting his own soul on the line? Thinking about it logically, he would have offered the life of a suitable sacrifice. Still, it seemed unreasonable for him to commit a dangerous feat like a large-scale human sacrifice that would end him if he was found out, just to win a tournament. It would be a few mountain goats or roosters at best.
‘If so, there is a limit to the amount of magic he can use in a day.’
Once, if lucky. Twice, to be safe. An upper-class demon was strong, but at the same time, his magic consumed a great deal of power. If he could dodge that by reading what would come next, it would be a battle of pure skill afterwards.
The problem was that that second battle wouldn’t be as easy as he had boasted to Yulia. The reason why it was difficult for a human to win barefisted against a tiger was because the difference in their natural body condition was too great, not necessarily because the person lacked training. Archfield’s swordsmanship itself wasn’t particularly outstanding, but the problem lay in his overwhelming strength. If his sword clashed with Archfield’s head-on, it would break in one go.
‘Is that really the only way?’
It was either a one or a six. There was no middle number on this die. Although he felt as if every side but one was a one, he had no choice but to gamble.
* * *
The main battles began the next morning. As expected, Kael continued to win without many difficulties until the finals. The human he faced in the quarterfinals showed considerable skill and he had to use a little more power, but it wasn’t anything problematic. The only problem was that the enemy that he would face now was the one who had crushed him one-sidedly, both in the demonic realm and here.
“Yes! It is the hoped-for finals that everyone has been looking forward to! While the previous finalists have all dropped out, two new faces have come to the finals!”
Kael just let the host’s commentary on him and Archfield slip in through one ear and out the other. He held two daggers in his hands, and his expression was simply subdued and cold.
‘This is it.’
He marched onto the ring.
“Huh? The first knight, Sir Kael of the blue corner, changed his weapon. It is not the long sword that he had been using, but a set of daggers! This is unexpected. Is he planning to fight against Mr. Archfield’s overwhelmingly large sword at an extremely close distance? Everyone, please cheer him on!”
“I’ll root for you!”
Even the cries of the audience, mostly women, did not enter his ears. Only the movements of the imaginary Archfield played out in his head, over and over. Though, it ended in his loss every time.
“Next is our red corner. It is the appearance of another dark horse, Archfield! He kept the giant sword that he has been using the whole time. He, who boasts overwhelming reach and superhuman strength – what kind of match will he show against Sir Kael, who has no match in speed? Everyone, please cheer for him!”
“I bet my money on ya!”
“Beat him for sure!”
Kael also ignored the audience’s, mostly men’s, cries. There was zero chance of victory if Archfield moved perfectly in this match anyway. There was no choice but to endure and wait for the right chance to dig into the hole in his movements.
“I see that the gender of the fanbase is clearly separated.”
Ferdia answered Yulia’s mutter as she poured tea.
“It seems the story of him rescuing your majesty is considered romantic amongst women and causes men to become jealous.”
“Hmm, is that so? I cannot say that I am happy to see the increase in his fans, leaving the two from the past aside.”
Yulia lightly wiggled her eyebrows, clutching onto her skirt. Her straight eyebrows tilted about ten degrees.
“There is nothing to worry about, since it is only at the level of longing from afar.”
“Then it is a relief.”
The host continued his speech.
“Both parties, please pay your respects to her majesty, the queen.”
Kael and Archfield turned to face Yulia in her royal seat and bowed their waists. The audience also went silent for a moment. The Neslandian anthem echoed, accompanied by the playing of the band. The national flag and the royal flag fluttered side by side, and the host recited the code of conduct for the knights participating in the tournament.
“Both parties must fairly devote themselves to this battle in front of her majesty, the queen……”
Although it was just a long way to go on about how one should not cheat, everyone stayed put. There was no way to take the formalities out of a royal tournament.
“I wish for both parties to enjoy a befitting match.”
After the announcement, Yulia raised her hand as she honoured the two with her words. However, her gaze was secretly only set on Kael.
“Those were the words of her majesty, the queen. Now, participants, please go to your assigned place.”
Kael and Archfield stood while glaring at each other. The host raised the pistol into the air.
“Then the match will begin after the count of three and a gunshot. Three, two, one, bang!”
After the gunshot that signified the start of the match sounded, Kael charged immediately. Archfield also moved in response.
The huge sword was swung. When he slashed through the air, the earth ripped and opened up. A small gust of wind blew out. When he struck the ground, the stone floor of the ring broke, sending its shards flying. An extreme power that could crush a boulder in one go. The rule that only let the participants fight with an unsharpened weapon did not matter. If one got hit by that, they would be destroyed from the inside.
Despite possessing such an absurd power, his movements were not sluggish at all. When it seemed like he was slicing through his right, he struck from above; and before one could realise it, he swung the blade diagonally. The parabola that the huge sword of over two metres of length created while freely moving around, both vertically and horizontally, was akin to a maelstrom that ripped everything apart. The audience was bewitched by those powerful, yet speedy movements that had not been seen in the semifinals earlier.
Those movements were truly something that would destroy any charging human in one second. Even though it was a power that should not be allowed in a tournament where slaughter was prohibited.
Where in that maelstrom was the crack? Kael, who looked small in comparison, moved around in between the swings and fought against Archfield with two daggers.
Although it seemed dangerous, as if he would be instantly broken if hit properly just once, his daggers changed their orbits just at the right time, repeatedly sticking to and pulling away from the huge sword. Even so, one could only change them slightly, as it was such an aggressive method of sword control; yet, movements that were more free than the wind caught those small cracks.
He ducked to dodge the sword coming from left to right. He jumped to dodge the sword as it aimed for his lower body. When it seemed like he was slashing diagonally, he went to the opponent’s side in a flash. His nimble movements did not subside, even in the face of the shards of rock that popped up and the explosive shaking of the ground. Even while he defended, he threw out a short blow that stabbed in return, aiming for a momentary opportunity.
He went against the maelstrom that swallowed all objects that were entangled in it, almost literally becoming a free whirlwind with no defined shape.
When the rampaging sword was about to finish the siege, the daggers that dug into Archfield’s weak spots broke his movement.
When the daggers instantly stabbed into a point, an explosive wave of the sword restrained them.
Even the cheers subsided. Everyone stayed silent, overwhelmed by this exchange of attack and defense that was happening on such a deadly level. Was this one of the swordfights between meisters that was said to exist in the era when talented people all strived to be the best in the art of swords?
“If he has that kind of sword art, for what reason does he normally use a long sword?”
Dewey answered Yulia’s inquiry.
“The penalty that comes with an extremely close-distance battle is not small. The reason why guns surpass swords also lies in their long range.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes . On top of that, when taking into consideration situations such as monsters that spurt poison when slashed and enemies that require absurd destruction power in order to defeat, which makes the tactic of stabbing their weakness useless, a long sword is more widely used.”
“Which means that right now……he is gambling.”
“Yes, your majesty.”
“There is nothing I can do for him other than to cheer.”
Yulia clasped her hands together as if she was praying and quietly gazed at the ring. She tried to maintain her dignity at all times, but every time Kael was in a risky position, the ends of her hair trembled. When Kael seemed to be pressing, the corners of her mouth twitched upwards. Her eyes continued to follow Kael, who was moving quickly. Noticing that Yulia seemed more like a princess waiting for her knight to return, rather than a ruling queen, Dewey also silently gazed at Kael. Although it was a battle that seemed close up until now, Archfield had his trump card of pressure magic, and her master did not. How would he overcome that difference?
Kael waited for the moment while continuing their intense exchange. That would be coming soon. Archfield did not have much patience. He was bound to be irritated by the situation in which he could not crush Kael, a demon of a lower class, despite his overwhelming power.
The moment Archfield raged with a distorted face, his magical power moved and an invisible pressure wrapped around him. There was no crack in the mighty power that oppressed the entire spot. Of course, there was no way to dodge it.
Unless he wasn’t on that spot in the first place.
Archfield cursed at Kael, who had suddenly backed away a few metres in the middle of their exchange. Kael had struggled to somehow get closer with his two daggers, yet backed away just before Archfield used his magic.
He wouldn’t have used magic in the first place if Kael had backed away a little earlier, and he would have gotten Kael if he had backed away a little later. Kael had backed away in that short moment when he couldn’t undo it, due to inertia, but had not fully drawn out the effect.
“I ain’t one of your kind.”
Kael charged at him once again. All right, one’s done.
Archfield belatedly realised the meaning of his words and swung his sword, enraged. A battle between power and speed that repeated itself. The huge sword roared, even breaking the floor, but the two daggers danced beautifully as they intertwined with the sword.
An intense battle that would not lean either side. Would the victor be Archfield, who seemed like he could smash a boulder in one go, or Kael, who transformed into a gust of wind? The audience stayed silent at the battle between martial artists who fought close-distance with their power and capacity in this era, where battles were fought with long-range firearms. They merely stared with their eyes wide open, not wanting to miss a single movement.
An intense battle that did not seem to favor either side for eternity. If they were so equal in ability, what decided the end would be whose side had a little more fortune. Whose hand would the god of luck and probability, Da Capo, raise? Whose victory would the god of time and fate, Felix, record?
At that moment, when the tension reached its peak, a shard of the floor shot up and hit the centre of Kael’s knee. His stance faltered for a very brief moment.
A sigh escaped the audience as they thought that this would be the end.
“You’ve been caught!”
Archfield finally used the magic that he had been waiting to use.
An absolute pressure filled the space around him. If he completely dominated over Kael with this and followed the attack with his sword, that would be the end of their battle. Just winning wasn’t enough.
‘I’ll completely slice you in half, feigning an accident!’
The sword blow that he landed to kill him instantly ripped the earth apart, creating a strong wind, and dug into the floor, making a small pit.
However, the blood and skin that were supposed to splatter did not.
Archfield realised that he had been toyed with when he looked at Kael, who had backed away at exactly the right timing and was now smirking.
“Now let’s hold a true battle between swords.”
Kael charged in once again. It had been quite a risky gamble to create a fake weakness. If the other party hadn’t been greedy, he would’ve been at that much of a disadvantage, even if it was a feint. Still, to see him gladly use magic right away at just that much……
‘It’s a relief that his brain is also made up of muscles.’
Now he could win. He had drawn out both of Archfield’s final cards. His naturally superior body would be a hurdle, even if they were to fight purely with their swords, but that could be overcome with skill and tactics. Moreover, judging from his personality, since he had uselessly wasted his magic, he would probably go wild and destroy himself.
Archfield let out a roar and swung his sword around even more aggressively. However, on the contrary, Kael smiled. It was as he had expected. His movements became rougher because of his agitation. He could stick his dagger into Archfield’s critical spot within a minute.
Kael dodged the sword that hacked down by moving sideways. Debris flew out all around him, but he continued to dash forward, easily jumping over the huge sword’s horizontal slash. The sword chased him, changing its arc diagonally, but he twisted the path a little with his two daggers and escaped by quickly bending his waist. Between all of this, he pushed even further forward, properly closing the distance between him and his opponent.
Enraged, Archfield belatedly threw his fist forward, but Kael dodged with the minimum amount of space, calculating even the wind created by his fist, and swung his dagger towards Archfield’s heart as a counterattack.
Watching that from the VIP seats, the prime minister trembled.
‘This damned demon.’
What was all this, after bragging to him that he, as a baron, would not have any problem crushing a human? Although he had limited the amount of magic to a minimum, just in case he planned to take a whole bunch of his soul by overusing magic on purpose……
To think that he would be in this state.
He noticed the crawling sensation of a bug on his back. If this went wrong again, he might actually become a corpse the next day.
‘No. That can’t happen.’
He had come all the way here. If he failed again, he didn’t know what that person would do.
He clutched the back of his right hand and muttered in a low voice.
“Kuuuuuuh. I……I command thee. Win……No matter how much magic you use……”
Archfield desperately blocked the dagger, held in the opponent’s left hand, that aimed for his heart with his arm. Kael, who had also predicted that he would do so, was about to throw the true last attack – but stopped. Archfield’s magical power suddenly surged up in an instant.
This wasn’t good. Although he knew that he would win if he held on for just a little bit longer, Kael stepped back without hesitation; however, before he could back away, he fell to the ground.
Although he had speed, he did not have the strength to withstand this pressure.
“Kufufu. I got you.”
Having used his pressure magic on the whole field, Archfield laughed.
‘That prime minister bastard……Did he sign the contract with his soul?’
Kael gritted his teeth at that one miscalculation. It was a battle that was only possible because Archfield’s usable magic power was restrained. If he covered the whole ring like this, there was no space to escape.
“Ah……What is happening? It seemed like Sir Kael almost had hold of the battle……was he caught in a counterattack?”
The commentary of the confused media broadcasting announcer echoed across the field.
“I’ll finish you off!”
Archfield marched towards him with his sword high up in the air.
“That……We must stop the match…….”
Yulia stood up, reading the purpose of his actions. What meaning was there if they only disqualified him for intentional murder after Kael died?
Just then, the commentator suddenly shouted.
“No! This signifies Sir Kael’s victory! It’s another turnaround!”
The LED screen announced Kael’s victory.
Yulia looked at the ring once again, wondering what was happening. When she looked closely, she saw that Kael’s two daggers were dropped in front of Archfield.
“Letting your guard down at the very end – how soft.”
Kael smiled, shaking his wrist.
The two daggers that he had thrown using only the snap of his wrist precisely hit Archfield’s critical spot. Although they were reflected by the protective armour, since he had landed a “clean hit”, the sensor underneath the armour sent the results to the referees as Archfield’s loss.
An attack that would be meaningless in a real battle. Even without the protective armour used for judging that Archfield wore due to the rules, his hard body would reflect those sloppily thrown daggers. Although they weren’t undefeatable, the body of a fourth-class demon well exceeded the strength of the outer shell of a tank.
However, because this was a match that they fought while pretending to be [human], because it wasn’t a real fight –
He won if he won by the rules.
Archfield belatedly realised that fact and exploded in anger, but he was too late.
“Kuuuuuuuu……I’ll see you later. I shall not forget this humiliation.
After kicking the ground, Archfield turned around, since he had no other choice. The summoner’s command that he should not be disqualified from the match due to violating the rules suppressed his desire for revenge, for now.
“The victor is Sir Kael! Everyone please congratulate him.”
Even the men who had initially cursed him to lose now let out a cheer. The match that Kael had shown had touched the childhood dreams that were sleeping deep within their minds, preventing them from jeering in jealousy.
Kael brushed the dirt off his body and stood up, raising his hand to answer the cheer.
‘Aah, such a bother.’
All he really wanted to do was to skip through all of these sorts of things and go home and sleep. Still, since he done this much, he had to see it through until the end.
* * *
A moment later, Kael stepped on the platform where Yulia waited. For a moment, he admired her as she waited, all beautifully dressed up.
She wore a white, frilly dress, and had decorated her chest with a yellow rose instead of gems. She had a ruby ring with the royal crest engraved on it on her finger, and a splendid crown on her head. As she stood while holding the holy sword that was given to the victor with a slightly prim expression, she looked somewhat younger than usual.
‘Mm. But, it’s not like she looks like a complete child.’
The grace and elegance that would not exist in a normal child still remained without change. However, the way she couldn’t completely conceal her smile while pretending to be prim rather than dignified……
‘Yeah. She looks more like a princess welcoming her knight than a queen. It should be fine, since her age is her age.’
“Congratulations on thy victory, Sir Kael. It was an honour to watch thy incredible battle skills.”
“I am much obliged.”
He kneeled respectfully with his best manners, being generous just for today.
“This is the Holy Sword, Arantmis, that has been traditionally passed on to the victor of every tournament. I bestow upon thee the right to use the sword until the next tournament, under the authority of the victor.”
She handed the sword over to him. Kael politely received it with both of his hands.
Another name that wasn’t as well known: the Sword of the Key, Arantmis. He did not have any solid evidence, but it would be better for him to keep it for now.
“Tell me if thou haveth a wish. As a reward for the victor, as long as it does not deviate from morality and is not too extreme, I shall grant any one wish.”
‘If I say void of contract right here……it would probably be bad.’
Since he was in a good mood after landing a blow on Archfield, he would be generous until the end of the day.
“Please preserve the abundant nature of Mount Louvre.”
“I accept thy wish. I promise with my own name.”
Yulia nodded, smiling widely.
‘Well, I guess it was a good day.’
Kael also smiled slightly. Everything had somehow ended safely. Now, the only thing that remained was to go home and sleep.
“Now, everyone else shall congratulate today’s victor.”
“Master. My deepest congratulations.”
Dewey handed Kael a bouquet.
“Ah, yeah. Thanks.”
Kael accepted the flowers, the wearing holy sword on his side. Dewey stared at him as he did so. Cheers continuously exploded from all sides, and the musicians performed congratulatory music.
“The next tradition……”
Is the knight kissing the lady……Dewey mumbled in a volume that was impossible to hear.
“Huh, what? I couldn’t hear ya properly.”
“Please do not mind it.”
She bowed her head.
“Anyway, thanks for the bouquet.”
Kael felt relieved, and let his guard down.
Until Sestina, who was sitting next to Yulia, jumped on him.
She buried him in between her breasts and embraced him tightly.
‘Waaait! You said you wouldn’t do this if I won!’
Unable to talk, he only complained in his head.
“Splendid. It was a great battle.”
“F……First, let go.”
Kael pulled himself away from her with great hardship. Sestina smiled brightly, her hands placed atop her big bosom. Although she looked like a normal woman, far from her usual goddess-like self, Kael’s spine tingled. T……This mode of Sestina is three times more dangerous than usual!
“Aah. When we go back home, as a means of congratulations, let’s do a whole lot of this and that.”
Sestina winked, making a bewitching smile. Her short skirt fluttered in the wind and her hips and waist shook slightly, creating a sensual vibration. The men in the seats around her stared at her and swallowed their saliva, forgetting their honour.
“Don’t overuse such suspicious pronouns!”
“My, I must keep things concealed in an official event.”
Sestina giggled as she slightly covered her mouth, her eyes curved into an even more sensual smile.
The reporters, who were waiting to interview him, got excited and gathered at their conversation.
“Miss Sestina, what is your relationship with Sir Kael?”
“One could say that I am a home tutor who has been looking after him since his youth.”
“What subject do you teach? You don’t look like you would teach the art of sword.”
“Well, other than that, I guess all of this and that that a man should know.”
Sestina winked gently, lightly shivering the bottom of her eyes. As she whispered this and that, she gently brought her hands ABOVE those eye-catching breasts and pointed at them.
“Don’t say such weird things!”
Kael howled beside them. This was on purpose. Definitely on purpose! It was a prank full of malice, pretending to be talking about it innocently, indulging in obliviousness!
“To be specific?”
“Please use your own imagination. Why would you ask for all those details?”
Sestina blushed as if she was embarrassed covered her cheek with her right hand. However, in contrast to her expression, which was pretending to be shy, her left hand slid down the line of her waist, emphasising that side of her body.
“No! I have no relationship whatsoever with this woman!”
Kael enthusiastically explained to the reporters. When he did so, however, Sestina suddenly teared up.
“Kael, was our relationship truly nothing, like you claim?”
Of course, she, who had raised him since he was young, was like a sister figure who was almost like a mother to some extent, but……That was the truth, but……
“Did I ever stop you from going to your princess? Instead, I blessed you and supported you.”
She clutched onto his hand and pulled it near her own bosom.
“Support what! WHAT!”
Kael desperately pulled out his hand. After turning a normal demon into a dangerous sexual offender!
“Even so, isn’t it unnecessary for you to make it seem like the past has never existed? I am treasuring the memories between you and I.”
Sestina patted her tears away with her finger.
“Well, from bathing together……to this and that.”
“How long ago are you talking abouuuut?!”
Kael pointed his finger at her, a vein popping out from his forehead. It was a story from back when he was as young as Yulia.
“You were much more innocent back then……”
Sestina stared into the distance with nostalgic eyes, as if she missed the past. She, who was putting a sad smile on her face and wiped away her overflowing lust in a matter of second, was acting like a tragic wife who had gone through many difficulties together with her husband. Kael was so dumbfounded that he couldn’t even speak anymore.
“Oooooh – “
This is a scandal. The reporters snapped away at her face and flashes excitedly exploded everywhere.
Then, the reporters also held up a microphone to Dewey, who was standing alone on the side.
“And what could your relationship be?”
“I am merely master’s possession.”
“Meaning your body and mind, all of it?”
“Ohh. Mind and body, huh.”
The reporters wrote it down.
“No! I didn’t accept it!”
Kael cried out at the situation that was becoming unfixable, making more excuses.
“I am aware that I am not worth much, but……”
Dewey’s stoic expression sank subtly.
“No, Dewey, I don’t mean it like that……”
Since Kael knew that, even though Sestina was doing this on purpose, Dewey was actually hurt, he could not speak. What was he supposed to do in this era, where rumours went around so quickly? What would he look like in the newspapers tomorrow?
“Were you already aware of Sir Kael’s past, your majesty? What is the meaning behind specially allowing those two to sit in the valued guests’ seats?”
Yulia replied confidently while smiling elegantly.
“How would I take in a man who was born before me if I could not embrace his past? What is important is the present.”
While the reporters were elated, Kael collapsed and placed his hand on the ground. All three of them……did as they pleased.
“Sir Kael, a word to reveal your own feelings?”
“I’M GODDAMN INNOCENT!”
Ignoring him, the reporters excitedly took pictures of the four.
The next day, when he went to work in the first knight’s office, Kael opened the newspaper with fear in his heart. The article on the actual match of the tournament was pushed to the second page, and another article had taken over the first page.
[The showy past of the first knight, Sir Kael. Two women appeared on the tournament grounds, revealing an insight into Sir Kael’s past before his knighthood. One of them is Miss Sestina, a woman with a truly mature and abundant bosom who currently operates a hospital and who taught him many lessons as a “home tutor”, even implying education during the night; and the other is Miss Dewey, a female warrior with a strong atmosphere who is currently his secretary, who has revealed that she has given her master her body……On the other hand, her majesty, the queen, showed confidence, saying that she does not ask about the past. However, what could be the truth that is happening behind the scenes?]
Kael closed the newspaper without finishing the article. Something like a sports newspaper was all harm and no good. These bastards should change its name to “Sports Fiction”.
‘I’m innocent……totally innocent……’
Why did he, who was still pure and hadn’t even had his first kiss, have to be wrapped up in such a misunderstanding?