The prime minister trembled, wondering if his life would truly end this time. That person behind the veil was silently listening to his report of failure.
“Please, I beg of you. Give me another chance……”
“I am generous. I am willing to overlook three of my subordinate’s faults.”
Finally, an answer came from behind the veil. At the same time, a scorpion appeared and climbed up the Prime Minister’s arm. The poisonous sting at the tip of its tail was exactly three finger joints away from his skin.
“Yes, you are……”
“I made you Prime Minister, and also overlooked you using that authority for your personal profit rather than for the great task.”
The scorpion’s tail slowly moved towards the Prime Minister’s arm. The distance shortened to two finger joints.
“What I required of you in return was to obtain the Sword of Key and to dig up the high-concentration worldstone buried in Mount Louvre – just those two.”
“I promised that I would make you the greatest human in this country if you just managed to do what I told you to do.”
“That is correct.”
Higher than the Prime Minister. He was promised that only spot. As long as he succeeded.
“At first, right after the coronation of the Queen, you failed to develop Mount Louvre. At that time, you promised to definitely succeed after two years.”
The distance between the scorpion’s tail and his arm reduced to one finger joint.
“You fooled around throughout that period, even taking the Bug Soldiers in order to assassinate the Queen, and failed.”
The tail sting was placed right on his arm. Dry sweat continuously broke out from the Prime Minister’s body.
“You said that you would do everything in order to obtain the Sword of Key, but in the end let the Queen’s knight claim it.”
The scorpion’s poison needle shone coldly.
“T…… That is…… because that demon bastard…… only talked big…… and the first knight that the Queen dispatched was stronger…… than I had expected……”
The Prime Minister fell on his forehead. The poisonous sting of the scorpion touched his skin. The Prime Minister felt as if his heart would stop, looking at the light reflected on the sting that was just about to dig in.
“However…… Fine. In the case of the Sword of Key, it is also my responsibility for underestimating the opponent’s skill and deciding that summoning a demon would be enough; I shall not interrogate you further about the obtainment of the sword.”
“I am much obliged.”
“However, regarding the extraction of the mountain……”
The Prime Minister shouted truly desperately.
“P…… Please leave it to me! I will be sure to make it happen in time! I will make it happen, even if I have to put all of my fortunes on the line!”
It couldn’t be helped. He would have to do something, like buying all the votes of every other party, even if it meant he had to spend all his precious fortunes that he had gathered with so much effort.
What use was there in the money if he were to die?
“I accept. However, you have until the solar eclipse. If you do not succeed in anything by then, I shall take back what I have given you.”
“I will once again promote the digging immediately.”
The Prime Minister rushed out. The woman who was left behind clicked her tongue.
“It cannot be helped. I, myself, must move for the case of the obtaining the sword.”
Although this was not the time for her to move, in order to preserve a little more energy, it looked like everything would be in vain if she entrusted the matter to that hopeless human.
Shocked by the newspaper article, Kael lay down on the couch. Usually, he would’ve fallen asleep right away, but……
‘I can’t sleeeep!’
It was unfair. It was really unfair. Why did a normal, kind demon like himself have to be treated like some licentious human who glorified debauchery?
However, would the false accusations really be cleared if he gathered the media and did an interview?
‘Will it? I don’t think it will. No, it definitely won’t be cleared.’
On the contrary, they would manipulate his words and write a novel as they pleased.
Was there no choice but to wait until the rumours subsided, even though he was frustrated and annoyed? However, although he could perhaps get out of the midst of the topic of conversation, his image, which was stuck once, didn’t seem like it would change again.
Why did a relationship with no significance whatsoever become sugarcoated, as if it was something grand?
‘I gotta void this contract.’
He really did have to void it now. He would leave behind everything and go back to the demonic realm. Then, after a brief hubbub, everything would subside. The problem now was how he would void it. He couldn’t think of a clear method.
Just then, someone knocked on the door to his lounge, which was disguised as his office.
“Sir Kael, it is a message from her majesty. May I enter?”
It was the square glasses maid. Kael opened the door right away.
“It is a written order. Please open it yourself.”
Ferdia presented a sealed envelope on a tray. Her posture, with her head and gaze pointing downwards and supporting the tray with both hands, was truly polite. Although it was polite, Kael shivered at the gently invading chill. He accepted it quietly, clearly unable to tell her to take it back.
“Then, if I may excuse myself.”
After she retired, Kael carefully opened the envelope.
[This case is strictly confidential, and thus should not be informed to even the closest two.]
What could it be for her to make it seem so grave? Kael swallowed hard.
[At midday this Saturday, wait in the café near the entrance to the market in Lataem Square. However, since it is a disguised patrol mission, absolutely nobody must recognise us.]
‘Some kind of…… spying that should be done in absolute secret?’
Even so, was it so confidential that the Queen must look to it herself? Did calling him mean that they were doing some kind of a traitor search?
‘Ugh, that’s annoying. She’s making me do these kinds of stuff?’
He scratched his head. He wanted to ignore her request, but it didn’t feel right to just ignore her when she had sent him such a grave written order. Moreover, the single flow from the mysterious bugs, to the summon of Archfield, to the Sword of Key was also another factor.
‘Ah, maybe that’s it. Maybe she’s trying to investigate that matter.’
That clever kid might have noticed, even if he told her not to say it.
If that was the case…
‘Ugh. I guess I can’t help it this time.’
Saturday, 11:30. Kael got out of work early and sat in the designated café. As usual, he was in a simple disguise, wearing a cap, sunglasses, t-shirt, and jeans, but nobody recognised him.
‘Thank god it’s an era where there are multiple foreigners other than myself.’
Twenty-five minutes later, Yulia appeared in front of him. She was hiding her elegant, silver hair under a brown wig. On top of that, the yellow short-sleeved shirt and scarlet skirt matched well as a set, emphasising her cuteness. The backpack that she wore on her back, Pristine, also made a fairly good accessory. More than anything, the bunny-shaped brooch that she used instead of gaudy gemstones to tie up the hair above her ear was purely adorable.
“Art thou wearing this attire again?”
Right away, she began her first word with a complaint.
“Why? It should be fine, since nobody’s recognising me.”
“Even so, couldst thou not dress up a little more, when we are continuing the date that we could not finish last time?”
“I am saying that, although I do not expect thee to dress up incredibly well, I just wish for thee to pay a little more attention.”
“No, before that – continue what?”
“I said the date that we could not finish last time.”
“Why are we doing that?”
“Since thou dedicated thy wish for my sake even after entering the tournament and distinguishing thyself, must I not reward thee separately?”
A bright smile hung from her mouth and her eyes sparkled. She leaned her face about ten degrees back and placing her hands on her waist, proudly keeping her nose keen.
Kael expressed his dumbfoundedness at her boastful manner by tapping his thumbs, index fingers, and middle fingers together in turns.
“So…… You’re telling me to go on a date with you in this weather that’s perfect for taking a nap in my house?”
Just how could that be a reward?
“Thou dost not need to refuse. Thou have done enough services to deserve it.”
“I wanna go home.”
Kael stood up. The bed in the mansion that was given to him was also nice and fluffy.
“It is said that it is impolite to be too modest. Now, follow me.”
After saying so, Yulia walked towards the market on her own accord. Her usual elegant walking manner was nowhere to be found; instead, it was replaced by bubbly steps that looked like those of a hopping bunny. The bunny brooch on her hair also bounced lightly.
“Would you play with her for a day? She was struggling all week long with a policy and is only resting for a moment now.”
Pristine carefully and subtly asked.
Kael placed his hand on his forehead. Should he just ignore this whole thing and go home? After all, she had called him out on her own. However, right now, he was the only one who could act as Yulia’s guard. Leaving the rebel groups who might recognise her identity aside, she could always be a victim of a normal crime that targeted pretty little children.
Although she may be the queen of a country, her physical fighting ability was just that of an eight-year-old.
Kael followed her, grumbling. Why was he so unfortunate? He had to look after a kid on a sunny day like this, without being able to even sleep comfortably at home. Everything was a mess after that day when he had accepted the contract.
‘Dammit. I’ll follow, since I don’t have a choice, but do you really believe that I’d easily let you do what you want?”
Kael rolled his hands into fists. Hey, kid. It seems like you don’t know, but I’m also a demon with one hell of a temper. You wanna drag me around? I’m gonna properly mess this date up.
Yulia, who was walking in front of him, suddenly stopped her footsteps. Kael naturally followed her gaze. They were selling a dish that smelled spicy, yet sweet. It was a dish that stripped off only the meat from a chicken, covered it in flour and deep-fried it, and served it with various sauces spread on top.
It was a street food stall that didn’t exactly look all that sanitary and looked like it had even less dignity, but Kael clearly saw Yulia secretly licking her lips with her tongue.
‘Ha, that’s right. It is something that would easily trigger a child’s appetite.’
Moreover, it would intrigue her, since it wasn’t something that would be served as the palace’s royal cuisine. At this point, a good guardian would buy it for her, asking if she wanted it, but……
‘Don’t make me laugh.’
Behind the staring Yulia, Kael pretended to nudge the back of her head with his fist.
He was a diabolic demon. No matter how much pleading attention a child threw at him, he was a cold-blooded man who could lightly ignore such things.
She probably wouldn’t be able to say with her own mouth that she wanted to eat it, as it would damage her dignity and look childish, destroying her pride. Therefore, she must be plotting with that facile brain of hers to say something like “I am not particularly interested, but I shall accept, considering thy sincerity” when he would offer to buy it for her.
As if I’d fall into your trap.
“What are you doing? Aren’t you going to walk? You aren’t, by any chance, childishly wanting to eat something like that, right?”
Ah, this was definitely a critical hit. It was a wedge-driving blow. It went in splendidly.
Yulia turned her head and gazed at him blankly.
‘There’s no use in staring at me with those eyes. Do I look like I’ll buy it for you? Better save that plea for some other soft-minded idiots.’
She sighed softly. Staring up at him with a pitiful gaze, she patted his thigh with her palm, as if to comfort him.
“To discuss the matter of maturity and childishness with one’s taste in food… I see that thou couldst not escape from the Middle School Second Year Syndrome.”
“…… What the hell’s that?!”
“It is the symptom addressed by psychologist Weber Claune Aradith, where young rebellious adolescents bluff about the most trivial things and pretend to be an adult.”
‘What the actual hell is that bastard?’
Kael took a hit, he himself feeling more childish when he meant to mock her for being childish. While looking at him, Yulia smiled sweetly.
“Well, that is fine. Since thou art saying such things, it seems that, really, thou just want to eat some. I shall treat thee.”
“Since it would bore thee to eat alone, I shall eat with thee. Be thankful.”
Before Kael could stop her, Yulia sat in front of the stall’s table.
“Give us portions for two!”
“Yes, Miss Customer. Which one would you like – spicy, medium, or mild?”
“Which one doth thou want?”
While she asked, Yulia’s finger gently pointed at the menu that read mild. Noticing that movement, Kael ground his teeth.
‘This damned kid!’
What, treat me? So you’re taking that path? Eat with me? For devil’s sake. Don’t think that you’ve won just because of that. The battle isn’t over yet.
It will be agonizing to eat for a child’s tongue. Fufufufu. How’s that?
Although Kael glared coldly at her, Yulia did not even flinch. It was quite disappointing for him, who was planning to ignore her when she would ask to mix in some mild as well.
‘Could it be that she can unexpectedly eat spicy food well, despite her age?’
Children wouldn’t normally be able to eat them well, but this kid wasn’t normal in the first place.
‘Then…… I’ll increase the level a notch.’
After some time, fried chicken fully dipped in sauce was served in a bowl. Kael put his plan to action right away. With hand motions fitting of a tournament winner, he hauled the chicken into his stomach before Yulia could even pick up her fork.
He had picked it so that Yulia would not be able to eat it, but it was spicy for him as well. On top of that, it was hot, perhaps because it was just freshly fried.
‘Ugh, the ceiling of my mouth……’
Although he had good resistance as a demon, that did not necessarily mean that he was dense when it came down to this kind of pain. However, he could endure this much pain if it meant that he could make this sly kid unable to even touch the food that she wanted.
‘Ughh. It’s getting spicier and spicier. It stings more as time passes.’
Still, he could bear it.
After finishing all two servings, Kael looked at Yulia with a victorious smile on his face. Now, be tearful! You thought I’d leave at least one for you, eh?
I’m not that kind of a soft man.
Yulia stared at him with a sunken gaze. The way she gathered her hands together neatly looked miserable. Kael felt a small sense of victory deep inside his heart.
Just then, she clicked her tongue.
“I will not take it away from thee even if thou eat it slowly. Thou were that hungry, weren’t thou? Manager, give us two more servings. Mild this time. I will order some more if this does not satisfy thee, so eat slowly and enjoy the food.”
“…… Order some…… more?”
“I shall eat as well, and it is written that they will box the leftovers for us. There is no problem.”
Only then did Kael realise that her gaze was that of “pity”, not “sorrow”. He fell flat on the table. Then what was the point of him doing everything that he had done until now?
Not long after, Yulia picked up her fork and knife, staring at the newly served chicken for two. With her mouth firmly shut and her eyes solemnly glaring at the food, she held the pieces down with her fork one by one and cut them with her knife. Even though she was only cutting meat, her hands, tense with force, trembled softly. After halving every piece that was the size of one adult bite, she wiped her forehead once and breathed out deeply. A proud smile hung from the corners of her mouth. After doing so, she picked up the half-piece and put it in her mouth. Her pink, plump lips squirmed and her cheeks twitched slightly.
“Mm. It is savoury, yet sweet, and a little spicy, yet light and chewy. Although there would be a problem in the balance of nutrients, it seems like a fine occasional treat. Despite its simplicity, it is a nostalgic taste.”
All the strength in Kael’s body drained as he gazed at her bright smile. This was his complete defeat. How could he have overlooked the fact that she wasn’t a normal kid who relied on allowance from their guardian?
“There are leftovers. Let us have this as takeaway, and eat it as a snack at a later time.”
“Do whatever you want……”
“Then where shall we go now…… That’s right. Since this is our first date, I request thee to buy me a clothing garment as a commemoration.
She held Kael’s hand and held her face against it. Whatever it was about the back of his hand she liked, she gently rubbed her cheek against it and clung to it. Although there was no strong spark or anything, Kael flinched at the sensation that was soft and warm and made him feel at ease.
‘Fuah. I almost let down my guard.’
He was almost about to be disarmed. If Sestina plucked out a man’s soul in one blast, Yulia approached slowly and melted the ice before one could notice. He sharpened his words once again.
“Hah? Are you asking me to buy it, when you have way more money than I do?”
“That aside, I just wish for a gift from thee.”
“You give me this much salary and plan to rip it back from me like this? Are you saying that the man should unconditionally pay for the date?”
“I understand. Then I will present thee with an outfit. Follow me. However, thou must treasure it well.”
“Hoh? You’re getting me one? Then can I buy anything I want?”
Although Kael growled, determined to empty her wallet, Yulia did not even flinch.
“So be it. I will buy however many that thou wish for. However, thou must promise me to wear them. Thou must not throw them away.”
Yulia once again hopped around and ran down the market alley. The place that she dragged Kael to……
…… was a store that sold quite unique clothes. No, not only clothes, but also many accessories.
“What the hell is this place.”
A wolf mask with a costume and tail, or cat-paw gloves and ribbons, or a pretty wand decorated with shiny pieces of glass, et cetera.
It was full of costumes and accessories that did not look like anything a normal person would wear, but only be worn in a theme park. Yulia’s eyes sparkled like those of a cat in front of a fish, or a dog in front of a rib. A bright smile painted her mouth and her gaze darted all over the place in a frenzied cycle.
“Although a uniform is fine, I also wanted to dress thee in one of these cute outfits.”
‘She’s telling me…… to wear these?’
While Kael stood in stupor, a staff member welcomed Yulia.
“Welcome, dear customer. How would you like our new oriental warrior series?”
“Oh, that is fine indeed. However, is there anything a little cuter?”
“If you are looking for cute, how about this traditional dog series? The new products, dalmatian and pomeranian, just arrived.”
“More than that, this shepherd and husky seems more suitable for him.”
“That is also an outstanding decision. What do you say about him trying one on?”
“What art thou standing around for? Come hither and choose one to wear.”
Kael hurriedly placed his hand on Yulia’s shoulder.
“Sorry. I changed my mind. The guy should buy one for the girl first.”
He would rather spend his leftover salary than wear this around the market.
“Then wilt thou give it to me as a gift?”
Yulia sparkled her eyes.
“Yeah. I’ll get it for you. I’ll get anything for you, so let’s get out of here.”
“Still, let us first choose an outfit for thee as a return of thanks.”
Instead of giving an answer, Kael picked Yulia up. Then he bowed at the staff member.
“Sorry for taking your time.”
He ran away immediately.
“That is a shame…… I thought that the shepherd would suit thee especially well.”
Her gaze scanned his whole body. It seemed like she was imagining him in a dog costume.
“It’s fine. Let’s buy your outfit first ㅡ yours first.”
Kael emphasised it twice. Yulia folded away her regret and pointed in the other direction.
“There is a woman’s general outfit store. Let us go there.”
The two of them entered the large, three-story building. Women’s clothing brands were placed everywhere around them.
‘This era sure is abundant.’
Kael mumbled internally as he stared at the many colourful clothes that stood in rows. Before he fell asleep, clothes in the middle world were all handmade at home, one by one; to think that they were mass-produced for such cheap prices now, he felt that humans had really chased the heavenly beings down to their chins.
While he was lost in his thoughts, Yulia entered one of the clothing stores.
“Hey, kid. Did you come here with your brother?”
“He is not my brother, but my lover.”
Yulia answered proudly at the shop assistant’s words.
The shop assistant stood in confusion, and people nearby began to whisper amongst themselves as they stared at Kael.
“Nope, haha. My li’l sister’s very mischievous, isn’t she?”
“What dost thou mean by little sister?! I do not have an elder brother like thee.”
“She’s kinda delusional. Don’t worry about her.”
The doubtful eyes around them disappeared when Kael said so, smiling. He was relieved, as they seemed to just believe that the kid was playing around. It was a speedy and appropriate response. However, Yulia pouted her lips, puffed up her cheeks and popped the air out, and pointed her index finger at him while waving her arm around.
“What didst thou say? Who art thou trying to fool, after gladly eating my breasts?”
The doubtful eyes that were beginning to relax thickened once again.
“Surely, you can’t be believing her. Think about it logically.”
He pointed at Yulia’s flat chest. What part of that could he eat?
“However, a five-year-old child also……”
“Now that I think, on the newspaper…….”
“I said I didn’t! Hey, you. Stop the jokes, and hurry up and choose your clothes.”
Kael hustled Yulia. If he stayed too long, it seemed like someone would actually report him to the police.
“I will do so. What is important right now is shopping. Hmm. What should I get……”
She busily moved around the store in light, hopping steps. She continued to look at clothes, tilting her head here and stretching out her neck there. Then she stopped, clapped her hands, and looked back at him.
“That’s right. Thou can choose whatever thou believe suits me.”
“I don’t know how to pick out clothes, though.”
“It does not matter. Rather than wearing something that everybody in the world compliments yet leaves thee dissatisfied, I would wear something that makes everybody in the world fall into consternation but pleases thee.
Gently holding her two hands to her chest, she stared at him with a soft smile and sparkly eyes. Kael flinched at that stare that looked like that of a puppy who only ever looked at its master. His hand almost moved on its own to pat her head.
‘This kid…… she’s unexpectedly dangerous.’
He regained his consciousness and maintainedㅡor as he believed soㅡhis cool.
“No, just because I can’t pick clothes doesn’t mean that I’m that maniac……”
“So what is thy taste in clothing?”
“Just something that’s suitably child-like.”
“My, I am saying that I shall thoroughly meet thy taste.”
“I don’t particularly have any clothes that I like, so let’s just choose something randomly and get out of here quickly.”
“Oh my. So you are saying that pure nude without the obstruction of clothes is the best.”
When Kael turned to face the speaker, thinking what kind of staff would say that kind of fucked up thing?, he instantly froze.
“Se…… Sestina? Dewey? How did you……?”
Sestina stood there, wearing a white doctor gown, creating a holy and pure atmosphere. Her smile was gentle and collected, making it unbelievable that a word like “nude” just escaped from that mouth. Beside her, Dewey greeted him by standing to attention in a military uniform as always.
Sestina answered, gathering her two hands in front of her chest.
“If you must ask me how……”
A refreshing air spread around her. The air indoors that was somewhat uncomfortable, no matter how much they turned on the air purifier, suddenly transformed into the fresh air of a green forest. The cool scent of trees slowly spread out and the eyes of everyone nearby gathered on her. Just by casting her presence, she emitted an elegance of mother nature like that of a forest’s tiger that had come down from nature.
“A gust of wind passing by whispered your location to me.”
The women nearby whispered that unni is so cool at the romantic line. However, Kael silently howled.
‘…… So she stalked meeeeeeeeee!’
Still, with a gentle and above-the-world expression, Sestina approached him.
“Since it came down to this, all four of us should go shopping together. That’s right; Kael, would you pick out some clothes for me?”
“Wait, why? You can pick your own clothes, right?”
“Kael, did you already forget my teaching?”
Sestina gently held Kael’s hand. The refreshing air around her spread further again.
“Those who do not work shall not eat. It is a stern rule that every creature of mother nature abides by. You must earn what you eat with your own effort.”
Her words were fancy, but why was she saying such things in a clothing store? When Kael blinked his eyes, she continued, suddenly sticking his hand between her big breasts.
“Therefore, you must pick what clothes you will undress.”
She reasoned with him with a strict gaze that one would use when scolding a lazy child, all the while pressing his hand with her bosom.
Kael took out his hand, feeling his diaphragm convulse. The doubtful, looking-at-a-criminal gazes that were falling on Kael until just then disappeared. Instead, some men, who probably came with their girlfriends, saw Sestina’s abundant bosom and threw quite fierce gazes as they looked at him again.
“Who are you saying will undress?!”
Lightly ignoring his protest, Sestina picked up a piece of clothing made of black mesh. It was an item that showed what was beneath, as if one wasn’t wearing anything even when they were.
“How about this?”
“It does seem a little lacking in the exposure of my chest.”
“It’s the exact opposite!”
“Ah. You are dissatisfied by the level of exposure of the lower body. Is there something more daring?”
Sestina asked the shop assistant.
“That’s not ittt!”
“Dewey, you should choose as well. You should receive a gift on a day like today.”
Dewey glanced at the item in Sestina’s hands, looked at Kael, and lowered her head with her cheeks blushed.
“Please choose as you please, master…… however, if possible…… something on the normal side……”
Dewey suddenly tightened her two hands into fists. She lifted her head, and firmly announced while receiving his gaze head-on.
“No, please do as you please. I shall accept, whatever it may be.”
The mutter of a man entered Kael’s ear from afar.
“You all have loads of clothes! What are you trying to buy more of?! It’s a waste! Let’s leave, go!”
Kael drove the three outside, as he thought his insides would be destroyed if they stayed any longer.
“Art thou changing thy words, when thou told me that thou would buy me something?”
Yulia turned her gaze about fifteen degrees away from him and sulkily pouted her lips. Her cheeks got pushed in, and they made a cute dimple. Kael pat her back.
“Just buy it next time. Rather than that, let’s go play somewhere else. That’s right, how about the movies? The cinema. Instead of your clothes, I’ll buy your ticket. Satisfied?”
“Hmm. That’s fine as well.”
Yulia, who seemed discontented, smiled sweetly once again.
“Then I guess I will also go shopping later and just watch a movie. You are fine with that as well; am I right, Dewey?
“Then let us go.”
After saying so, Yulia held Kael’s right hand. When her small hand touched his, a warm and gentle sensation climbed up from the point of contact.
“So we shall.”
Sestina closed in, burying his left arm in her breasts. Her ample yet deep valley swallowed his arm, and the bouncy yet soft touch pressed in, creating an electrifying sensation.
Kael was flustered. Why were they both suddenly sticking to him?
“I will follow.”
Dewey quietly whispered from right behind. Gazes concentrated on him from all directions.
‘Today’s fortune…… is the worst.’
He really should have just stayed home and slept.
While crying inside, Kael was dragged to the cinema. The multi-floored cinema was showing many movies and animations at the same time.
‘What only existed in the heavens is now common here as well.’
Kael observed the screening list.
“How about that? The Great Adventure of Penguins.”
“No, rather, I wish to see this one. Forest with No Return.”
“That’s a horror movie, though. Aren’t you scared?”
“Hmph. Do not treat me like other children. I am able to enjoy that much without a single problem.”
Yulia pretended to be mature while standing on tippytoes with great effort, to increase her height. After a moment of thought, Kael nodded.
‘Oh well, I don’t know anymore. What’s to care when she was the one who wanted it?”
Just call me at night again, scared, and I swear……
“However, how should we arrange the seating?”
“About that, I will give way, since thou would also desire to stay by his side. Sestina, thou can sit on his right, and Dewey, thou on his left.”
“Eh, then where are you gonna go? Are you gonna watch it alone?”
Yulia smiled sweetly and pet his thigh.
“Of course, I shall watch the movie on thy lap.”
Could this really be counted as giving way?
Wrapped up in his confusion, Kael bought four tickets for now.
When everyone was seated, a few advertisements went by.
[The world’s best mileage, driving eighteen kilometres with only ten grams of worldstones. A high-efficiency compact vehicle, proudly presented by the Gyle Group. Beetles.]
Then, with a creepy sound effect, a dark forest emerged on the screen.
“Eh, it isn’t that scary.”
Kael shrugged as he watched the movie. Judging from the summary, it was a story where university students who went camping in a cottage in the forest were killed one by one by a serial killer.
‘Fu. Unless there’s a machine gun and a tank or something,’
He had the confidence to beat up a serial killer who would merely saw things, not even with his sword, but with his bare hands. Rather than the identity of the killer, his attention was drawn more towards the feeling of the being who sat on his lap and leaned her body on his chest. A fragrant fruity scent was coming from her hair that gently tickled him. Also, why did her bottom, which gently pressed onto his thighs, create such a strange sensation?
It wasn’t an intense sensation that would boil his blood. It wasn’t the type that he would call dangerous. However, it was a pleasant feeling, so soft and squishy, that made his body somewhat loosely relaxed. If he had to compare, it was like a cotton blanket? Cotton candy?
‘Why is this kid making such a fuss on my lap, leaving her fine, designated seat?’
Though, he did also understand that if she didn’t do so, she wouldn’t be able to see the screen properly because of the person in front, considering her height. Still, it was uncomfortable. They should’ve just gotten the tickets for the very front seats. Ah, would that be too close to the screen, blocking the proper view?
When he was thinking so, this time again, a hand furtively crawled in from the right.
‘My devil, this woman.’
Kael glared as he quickly slapped the hand that was attempting to approach his thigh. Sestina was faking innocence and just watching the screen.
‘Is it fun to tease me?’
Anyway, the moment I lower my guard even just a little. Honestly, she would always start a trivial prank. Really, if she didn’t raise me, I would have just charged at her a long time ago.
It was a relief, perhaps, that at least Dewey stayed still.
As he looked to his left, Kael realised that she wasn’t looking at the screen, but instead only at his left hand that held the drink.
“Here. You should’ve told me if you were thirsty.”
Why was she just staring at it?”
“Pardon? No, that’s not it.”
“It’s fine, so drink it.”
After handing her the drink, Kael sighed deeply. Next time, he should decide against coming to the cinema as well. Nothing could be done right with the company of three women.
While Kael grumbled, the movie burst a bait that it had laid out towards the beginning of the movie and brought about the first victim. When they flashed a violently chopped up corpse, Yulia flinched and snuggled into Kael’s arms. She tightly stuck the back of her head to his chest, and her body trembled. Her small hands held tightly onto his waist.
“That’s why I told you that we should avoid horror.”
“I am not afraid.”
Yulia persisted with her eyes closed.
“…… Ah, is that so?”
A moment later, the scream of an actress rang out from the screen. At the same time, Yulia completely turned around and buried her face in his chest.
“…… Should’ve just went for the penguins.”
“…… I wish to go to the bathroom……”
Yulia whispered in a teeny voice.
“Be back soon.”
Kael answered with a lukewarm tone. Although he could see that she was scared out of her wits, he wasn’t one to kindly accompany her. After rolling her hands into fists, Yulia lightly pounded his side.
“Hmph. What wilt thou do if somebody attacks? Accompany me like a guard should.”
Although she said those words solemnly, her body was still visibly shaking.
“Haah. All right, fine, fine.”
‘Seriously, I’ll just fold this once, since she’s so pitiful.’
Kael held Yulia’s hand and headed towards the exit, apologising to the other guests by nodding.
‘Which way is the bathroom? Ah, there it is.’
When Kael, who found the sign, was about to walk towards it, Yulia pulled him to the opposite side.
“Let us go this way.”
“That’s the exit.”
“That is why I am telling thee to go. Here, quickly.”
Yulia suddenly dashed forward.
Although Kael was dazed, he was dragged out by her attitude. When they exited the cinema like that, Yulia beamed.
“Plan successful! We have become alone once again.”
“Huhh? It can’t be that you……!”
Kael’s mouth gaped open. Was all of that, from choosing a horror movie to pretending to be scared…… an act? Now that I recall, her body visibly shook, and the slight tremble of her hair that was always apparent when she was holding back her fear was comparatively quiet! Yulia rubbed her two fingers together and slightly averted her gaze. Her cheeks blushed a light colour, just about the colour of a peach that wasn’t yet fully ripen.
“Although I feel apologetic towards them, I wish for our first date at least to be just the two of us.”
“…… No, that…… was…… the plan?”
Yulia held his hand and took her face to it. Her soft cheek lightly and gently rubbed his palm. Perhaps she had taken a considerable liking to the sensation of skin touching skin ㅡ a bright smile hung from her mouth.
“They must have played a lot with thee already. However, since this is my first time, I shall take this much.”
“That…… well…… that’s true.”
“Let us go to the park.”
Kael obediently agreed. That’s right, one’s easier to deal with than three.
There were around twelve parks in the royal capital. The biggest park of them all, Central Park, was already busy with many people welcoming the weekend. However, one part of it, the riverbank surrounded by a small forest, was being controlled by the royal guards.
“Did you mean to come here in the first place as well?”
“I have shut it off in order to spend time with thee.”
Yulia slightly turned up her nose, sweeping her hair with her fingers once.
“Can you do that?”
“There is no problem, since originally, this whole park is royal property. Normally, it is open to the public free of charge, but the citizens would also understand if we shut one corner off just for today.”
“Royal property? No wonder…… That’s why it’s remaining a park in a prime location like this.”
“Without saying, when I was five years old, the Prime Minister attempted to lure my father into building a shopping centre. I stopped it by bawling my eyes out and throwing a tantrum.”
“Just wondering…… You didn’t put false eyedrops in your eyes back then, right?”
Kael spoke the question that suddenly popped up in his head.
“What does thou see me as, to say such a thing?”
‘Was I being too doubtful?’
“I can always let something like my tears flow freely under my own discretion.”
Yulia boasted, bobbing her finger.
‘…… So it was an act…… This kid is unbelievable, already using her tears as her weapon at the age of five.’
Yulia dashed forward, leaving the dumbfounded Kael behind.
“‘Tis a river!”
She threw her suffocating wig away and hopped around. She ran lightly, as if her feet were barely touching the ground. As she waved her arms around in a big motion, she kept darting forward without stopping. Then, she hopped from the riverbank into the river with a splash, all still wearing her clothes. A small column of water surged up behind her.
“Oi. You’re getting all wet. You’re gonna catch a cold, since it’s only early spring.”
“It will be fine if I just dry it, as the sun is also shining. Would thou not like to come in as well?”
Her voice as she shouted was truly bright and excited. After stopping his feet that almost reflexively ran after her, Kael shrugged.
“Ain’t doing it. You do it alone.”
“Ah. Could it be that thou do not know how to swim?”
“I won’t be fooled by such a provocation.”
Kael scoffed. Don’t underestimate someone older than you. Even though you may be a genius, the amount of time we each spent alive is different.
Yulia pouted her lips and swam alone. Despite her being a genius, Yulia’s swimming stance was somewhat sloppy, perhaps having lacked the time to learn how to swim. It wasn’t freestyle or breaststroke ㅡ just doggy paddle. Suddenly, she started to flounder.
“Idiot. I saw that coming when you just jumped in without even warming up!”
Kael jumped in straight away. He effortlessly kicked the water and held Yulia in his arms. She was unconscious, perhaps already having drunk a considerable amount of water.
‘She really requires a lot of attention.’
Honestly, what was she going to do, drowning in a place with no lifeguards around? Grumbling, he got out to the riverbank and laid Yulia down.
‘First would be mouth-to-mouth……”
As his lips closed in on hers, he felt that something was out of place. A kid who was unconscious after drinking too much water was squinting her eyes. On top of that, the sign of her holding in her breath, not being unable to breathe completely……
‘Is that so.’
He changed his plan and took Yulia’s shoes off. Then he tickled the soles of her feet.
Finally, Yulia spat out her breath.
“How dare thee touch my feet without my permission!”
Enraged, she rolled her hands into fists and recklessly waved them around.
“You see, it was a lifesaving measure.”
“Thou must do a mouth-to-mouth resuscitation!”
“That depends on the situation.”
“Uuh. Thou dost not even know of the basics of dating.”
Yulia sucked in her cheeks and pouted her lips in disappointment.
“Sorry ‘bout my oblivion. It’s because I’ve been raised so wildly.”
“Remember it from next time. If thou have rescued a drowning girl, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is a must.”
“I’ll consider that if the girl is a beauty, not a kid.”
Kael was left wondering when Yulia kept silent this time. Since he was talking about that daring kid, shouldn’t another triumphant counterattack fly towards him? Wasn’t this her turn to roll her hands into fists, pound his stomach, and tell him to shut his mouth?
Yulia fidgeted her two index fingers against each other, and quietly asked after some time had passed.
“Am I really not much to look at?”
“Huh? No, well, uh……”
“So it is so……”
Looking truly disappointed, she slightly lowered her head.
“It might be different from person to person, according to their tastes…… There must be a bunch of people around you who have different opinions from me, so you don’t need to take mine into much consideration.”
“The courtiers around me tell me that I am pretty; however, it is merely but flattery given to the queen. I am not so foolish as to believe such a thing.”
‘…… Sorry…… They’re probably all telling the truth, not flattering you.’
Just this once, Kael’s guilt throbbed, making him look far up the sky.
“It cannot be helped.”
“Who knows, if you grow up……”
“What I must prioritise in working on is the ways of reigning over a peaceful country. I will not have time to properly flourish my appearance, and thus do not believe that it would improve any further from what I was born with. However, it cannot be helped. I would have to give up what I must.”
Yulia sighed with her hand on her chest.”
‘…… It would be enough if she just doesn’t forget that and grows up just as she is now……”
“Thou dost not have to keep that apologetic look. I will not be angry for telling me the truth.”
“A…… All right. Wait. Why are you taking off your clothes?”
Kael freaked out as he looked at Yulia, who began to take her clothes off as she said so.
“I intend to dry it, as it is wet.”
“No, even so, what are you doing, taking even your underwear off?! What are you going to do if someone sees you?!”
In front of her who was revealing her pale skin without hesitation, Kael stood flustered.
“There is nobody here. Did I not tell thee that I have prohibited access?”
“Me. I’m here.”
“Unh? Does that mean……”
Yulia, who was slightly dejected, sparkled her eyes again.
“Oho. Thou art saying that it is hard to look at my body, as it is so bright!”
“That’s totally not it.”
“Thou art not straightforward. Fufufu. I have already heard and am aware that men enjoy looking at the naked body of beauties.”
‘I worried for nothing.’
Kael placed his hand on his forehead. It was better when she was dejected.
“How is this; does this satisfy thee?”
While saying so, wherever she had saw it from, she lifted one of her legs up to her chest, tilted her head, and stuck a pose. It was a pose that would have caused cardiac arrhythmia in many men if she did this ten years later, but it was just unnatural right now.
“Stop doing useless stuff and put this around yourself. You’re gonna catch a cold.”
Kael took off his top and dressed Yulia in it. Although it was originally a top, when she wore it, it was quite loose and covered even her lower body.
“It does not fit me at all. The fabric is also cheap.”
“Give it back if you’ve got a problem.”
“However, I like it. Would it be a problem to give this clothing to me? I would like to keep it as a commemoration.”
“…… No, that’s a little……”
“Can I not?”
Yulia clung to his front and lifted her head up, meeting his gaze. Kael turned his head away at those eyes that clung to him as if a cheap t-shirt that he had randomly bought was a precious treasure.
“…… Do as you please. It’s not expensive, anyway.”
It was cheating to stare at him with those eyes. Why was it so? He felt nothing when she had completely taken off her clothes and was running about. Right now, when she was casually wearing just a top…… well…… she was cute.
‘Uhh. It’s nothing. Absolutely nothing.’
He roughly scratched his head.
“Thank you. I shall treasure thy first gift with the greatest care.”
She beamed as she wildly shook his hand. Kael changed the subject, feeling even weirder than before.
“Yeah, okay…… Let’s rest a little until your clothes are dry. We can eat that leftover chicken from before.”
“Let us do so.”
The two sat side by side and took turns eating a piece of fried chicken each.
“However, Kael, may I ask thee something?”
“Fire away. Though, whether I will answer will depend on the question.”
“Those two…… what is their exact relationship to thee?”
“Ah, true…… It would make sense for you to be bothered by their identities.”
Kael nodded, as it was a question that he could understand.
While looking at the two, Pristine only thought to himself.
‘Though relationship and identity are questions with two different meanings.’
However, so that he would not bother the two, who had been getting along well since a while ago, he decided to keep silent like a backpack should.
“Thou dost not need to answer if it troubles thee. As long as they are precious to thee, I shall not abandon them.”
“I’ll answer. It’s natural to be bothered when two unidentified beings are in the royal capital. First, as we have already discussed, Sestina is my guardian. However, her exact identity…… I don’t know either.”
“I know for sure she isn’t a demon. She enters and exits the middle world and the heavens even without a contractor. She’s even taking care of Dewey so that she can also stay here.”
“Then, is she human?”
“But there’s that age thing…… though she refuses to tell me, saying that it is the secret of a woman, I think she’s well over a thousand. On top of that, despite having no magical powers, she does something similar to magic. It’s not something great, though, only things like walking on water, moving the nearby plants, and calling small animals. It’s not on a level of using it in battle.”
“Hmm. Then, is she not a heavenly being? Since their machines do have quite a lot of strange ones as well.
“To be frank, that’s most likely. Above all, she’s incredible as a doctor…… and you know her necklace? The bead in the centre is an artifact called the tear of Iris, the goddess of life and healing. However, the only thing I’m not quite sure about her being a heavenly being is how she frequents the demonic realm that is in conflict with the heavens…… Since she seems like she has some acquaintances amongst higher class demons, I’m thinking that maybe she was recognised for her outstanding skills as a doctor and was deemed an exception.”
“That is enough about her identity; what is the exact relationship between the two of thee?”
“Ah, that is…… As far back as I could remember, she was already raising me. According to her, she picked up my abandoned baby self from a remote mountain, but I don’t know whether that’s true or not, since she takes everything at her own pace.”
“So she is somebody who thou art superlatively grateful for.”
“That’s a nope. Honestly, it’s a miracle that I grew up under that hopeless guardian without ending up with a twisted personality. Did you know that she told me to call her my lovely elder sister, back in the days when I didn’t know anything? I was so pissed afterwards, when I finally learned its meaning, that I always call her by her name after that, no matter what. I wouldn’t have even brought up the issue if that was all.”
Kael ground his teeth, as there weren’t just one or two things that he was irritated about regarding Sestina.
“You heard what she has kept saying until now, right? She keeps teaching me the weirdest things, her excuse being that she will raise me as a great demon. Seriously, I could compare her to other guardians forever. Do you think that’s the only thing? She made me get into fights, sugarcoated as sparring, with multiple people of the heavens or of the demonic realm and got me beaten up. Ugh. You couldn’t guess how much I suffered back then.”
Yulia stared at Kael, who was criticising Sestina, with envy.
“That sounds nice……”
“What did you hear my words as? All I did was suffer.”
“I understand. Then, how about Dewey?”
“Sestina hired Dewey for me. If Sestina is the official guardian, the one who actually went through many troubles to look after me was Dewey.”
“I could see that she holds thee very dear, making it difficult to simply see her as a hired personnel.”
“Apparently, that’s because I saved her life when I was young…… I’m not really sure. It’s a story from when I was young, and my memory is hazy.”
“Perhaps she is the type to repay her favour. Hmm.”
“Is there anything else you want to know?”
“That is enough. Although I do not have a past that I have shared with thee, I am the one who is on a date with thee right now!”
She relaxed her complexion once again and stood up.
“It’s not a date.”
“It is a date!”
“I said it’s not.”
“Hmph! I am saying that it is. If thou would keep insisting so, I will command thee to tell the truth!”
Kael backed away a step when Yulia showed the back of her right hand as if to call upon the seal of contract.
“Fine, let’s pretend it is…… but why are you so obsessed with that title?”
“That is…… because it was my dream to go on one.”
“…… A date?”
“Since everyone says that it is that great…… I also became curious, so……”
“So the point is that you envied the maids who chattered about their dates with their boyfriends.”
Yulia’s ears momentarily leant back and returned. As she fiddled the index fingers of her both hands together, she blushed her cheeks a little, before suddenly pointing at him and waved her arms around.
“Uuh. I… is there…… any laws that state that I must not be envious of them? It is obvious that I will be curious about something that I have not experienced.”
“No, well, it is a childlike reason.”
Kael shrugged. Although he was banned from directly calling her a kid by her command, addressing indirectly did not matter.
“Grr, I told thee not to address me as a child.”
Yulia tightly clenched her fists.
“Yeah, yeah, your majesty. I am so very sorry.”
“Graaaaah, shut that mouth. How dare thou tease me!”
She lightly pounded Kael’s stomach. After a few hits, she gently put her fists down, crossed her arms, and scoffed.
“However, I shall overlook it, since we are in the middle of a pleasant date.”
“Yeah, yeah. I really am unsure of what to do because I am so grateful.”
Kael scoffed back. That damn date. Why did she drag him out as well, when she could’ve just done it by herself if she really wanted to? No, though, it seemed like an impossible thing to do it alone.
“Hmph, thou impertinent…… Ah. That’s a rabbit!”
Yulia’s attention was suddenly taken away, and she ran towards it.
There, a white rabbit had appeared from somewhere and was chewing on the grass.
In front of the rabbit, Yulia placed her hands on her waist, stiffened her neck, and straightened her back. Then, she sunk her voice deeper and ordered sternly. Of course, the rabbit ignored the order.
“This is a royal command. Come hither.”
The rabbit merely chewed on the grass, still not seeming to understand.
“I order thee in accordance to the Royal Authority Regulation Law, article seven, clause eight. Come hither.”
‘As if a rabbit would understand.’
Dumbfounded, Kael merely watched from behind. He was going to see just how far she would go.
“Grr. If thou cometh, I shall retrieve three days worth of carrots for thee. Is this not a short, high-profit part-time job?”
She stuck up her finger and pointed at the rabbit, changing her plan from commanding to appeasing.
‘…… Although it seems like a good deal……’
“If carrots are not to thy pleasing, what doth thou say about clovers?”
‘I say that the product is definitely not the issue here.’
“If thou haveth something else in mind, make a suggestion. Only then would we be able to negotiate.”
Kael stood from his spot. He could not bear to watch any longer.
“Just think about it. It’s not like it’s a mythical animal of the demonic realm; would a local rabbit understand human language?”
Yulia momentarily flinched. Her ears leaned slightly backwards, and this time, only returned after a long while.
“I am aware!”
Her voice rose. Kael gaped his mouth wide open.
‘Did she really not realise?!?!’
Even whilst grumbling, Yulia stared at the rabbit with longing eyes.
“All right, here.”
He stretched his arm out and grabbed the rabbit just like that. Although the rabbit tried to escape, surprised, he was faster.
“Touch gently, so that it wouldn’t get stressed.”
“I thank thee.”
She held the rabbit in her arms and beamed. She snuggled the rabbit like that, rubbing her face against its face. The rabbit was taken aback for a moment, but soon kept still, perhaps deciding that she would not harm it.
“For hell’s sakes, are you that happy?”
“It is cute.”
‘I think she’s cuter. Hah, what the hell did I just think right now? I cancel that. Cancel. I just had a weak thought, unlike my usual cool self.’
Kael watched the scene, sitting a step away from them.
Its long, white ears swung. Her silver hair swayed. Two small, defenseless, and weak beings had their face close together, rubbing against each other’s.
A rabbit with fluffy fur and Yulia with her baby skin. Which side would be softer when being touched?
‘Hm…… This is the battle of the century.’
Although he supposed that he could get the answer if he touched them side by side, he decided to just leave it unknown.
“If you like it that much, then why not just get a pet?”
There was no way that she couldn’t get one because there was no money in the Royal Palace.
“That shall not be.”
The shine in Yulia’s eyes weakened and darkened. Staring at the ground with her head drooping, she also dropped her voice.
“What shall be done if it dies after accidentally eating poison that targeted me?”
Pristine, who was placed beside them, threw a line at Kael, who kept silent.
“That’s how the dog that she used to keep died. Yulia really cried a lot then.”
“Thou speakest too much. Shut that mouth.”
Pristine shut his mouth at Yulia’s admonition. However, a scene had already taken over Kael’s head.
The dog wagged its tail, begging for the snack that was given to her. The child gave in, saying just one piece. However, the dog died as it choked up blood, and the child wept as she hugged its corpse.
How would the child, who had lost a loyal friend since childhood, have cried? How would the child, who had given up by deciding to never keep a pet again, have comforted her loneliness? There was no way she would have been comforted. If she already had enough people around her, there was no way that she would have begged a lowly demon that she had summoned to go on a date with her.
‘But, you chose the wrong person.’
He was a demon. Just like how a machine required worldstones as fuel in order to work, he required her soul in order to use magic. It was his destiny, for the very act of fighting while using his powers by the order of the contractor, to ultimately destroy the contractor. In reality, she couldn’t have not known.
Yulia held the front paw of the rabbit and did a handshake. The rabbit blinked its red eyes, and the girl’s silver eyes sparkled with vigour.
Kael silently gazed at that peaceful picture.
It was beautiful.
Bright rays of sun. Fresh green grass. A lovely girl and an adorable rabbit. A cool gust of wind and clear sky.
It was such bright scenery that he wished to hold it in his heart forever.
It was a paradise, without even a speck of darkness, that must never be destroyed, where no demon like himself should be.
It was beautiful.
Although he knew that he had to leave before he destroyed it, he wished to stay a little longer.
‘Or…… would it be okay for me…… to stay?’
Perhaps it would. A tinge of greed creeped in.
It was a different era now. Swords had become an artifact of the past and were only used to fight with during festivals, and they were only taught as a way of training one’s mind and body. It had been a long time since the control over real warfare had been taken by guns and other modern weapons that exceeded them.
What she wanted from him was not just an outstanding warrior who would dash across the battlefield.
All she longed for was a guard who would protect her when she wanted to survey the town alone. Somebody who she could trust would not be bought with bribery and would not betray her. That was all. Additionally, just participating in a tournament that was held once in four years, maybe?
In this country that was protected by the army and kept in order by the police, magic was not necessary. It would be enough as is to take care of the likes of a hoodlum, but on the contrary, he would be no use if there was a real war. Therefore, wouldn’t there be…… no need for her, in this era, to use up her soul to draw out his real power?
It was a sweet temptation. Although a warning sounded from one side that he should not have such complacent thoughts, he wanted to ignore it.
“Kael, thou should not just sit there staring, but also come and play!”
Yulia smiled brightly as she called him. The sun shined gloriously behind her.
Covering his eyes from the brightness, he asked.
“What is there to prevent thee? Come hither.”
“Is that so……”
Since it was a different era now. Since nobody would need a power like magic that had to be borrowed by paying their dues to a demon. Since humans also had, available in their hands, science that did not require any sacrifices,
It would be okay for him…… to also be a part of this beautiful picture.
The queen gave her assent.
He stood up from his spot.
He woke up from his sleep. He would play today.
* * *
Only then did a strange noise enter his ears. That buzzing sound was……
‘The wings of an insect?’
However, it wasn’t a sound that a small bug would make.
Kael changed his expression right away and clenched his sword.
‘What is it?’
It wasn’t a demon. He didn’t sense any magic. However, something that was just as much of a threat was crowding the surroundings.
‘Shit, I got carried away.’
However nice it was to watch the kid play, to think that he hadn’t noticed until they were perfectly surrounded like this…… It was because he dreamt a useless dream.
“What is the matter?”
“Stick to my side.”
After staring at the rabbit longingly, she gently placed it on the ground.
“Be careful and go. Thou must not come by my side.”
After pushing the rabbit for it to run away, Yulia returned to Kael’s side and stood up, wearing Pristine on her back. Kael tensed up even more, remembering the insects from the day he met her.
“Where would you say is the safest place in the capital?”
“The division of defense…… is located too far in the outskirts. I have also reinforced the firearms of the royal guard after that incident.”
“The Royal Palace……”
Kael sank deep into thought, recalling the layout of the capital.
It was located right in front of their noses. However, the group of guards who were taking precautions outside of the forest had disappeared without as much as a cry. On top of that, he could feel the siege circle perfectly staked out amongst the woods. Would it really be easy to reach the palace while penetrating through it? Even so, he did not think that they would use such a bold tactic in the dead centre of the royal capital. Did that mean that the opponent’s objectives were nearly achieved, enough to not care about anything?
‘Damn. They also took over the river.’
He could feel numerous gazes glaring at him from underwater. There were no easy escape routes in any direction. If so, it was better for him to stay on the ground, where he would be able to make full use of his mobility. The problem was that the opponent would probably also have thought that through; however, there were no other choices but to run in head-on.
“If you won’t show yourself…… I’ll go!”
He darted straight towards the forest. What welcomed him first was a swarm of watermelon-sized bees. Yulia clutched onto his arm. Kael drew the Holy Sword Arantmis right away. A pure streak of light was emitted from it and left a streak in the air.
The bees rushed in all at once. What stuck out from their ends were closer to gimlets than stings. Attacks that seemed like they would kill by piercing through one’s body, even if they weren’t poisonous, surrounded him and Yulia in all directions, targeting them. Five in each directionㅡ front, back, left, and right. A spontaneous attack of twenty enemies in total.
Five in the front. The sword slit and cut through them first. Although they were floating in the air, their bodies were instantly severed by the sharp cut without even being pushed back. The bodies, split in half, fell on the ground with a patter and the remaining fifteen came rushing in, seizing their opportunity.
However, the sword that swung before them did not permit their attempts. He cut down another five on the right and ran through the created gap.
The distance between the two and the ten bees that belatedly followed them increased, the bees unable to catch up to their speed. However, that was only the beginning. Swarms of bees continued to rush in, as if to say that they would not allow the two to go anywhere.
They blocked the front and closely followed behind. The siege circle became tighter and tighter. However, there was no halt in Kael’s sword, either.
The bees flew around in zigzags, making it difficult to cut them down in one blow. Although their pincer attack had definitely evolved, Kael dashed without so much as a break and swung his sword. Ignoring the law of inertia, the sword moved around freely, slicing everything as it maneuvered. What remained behind every time that happened were bodies that fell into pieces and traces of light that dispersed in the air.
Swarms of bees surrounded the two over an even larger area, slowly closing in. However, Kael’s speed did not deteriorate even a little. If they blocked his path, he merely cut them down; if they came chasing him from behind, he merely advanced further forward and widened the gap. The circle that seemed perfect loosened in an instant.
However, the opponents weren’t only bees.
More insects gathered on the ground, alongside the sound of them brushing past grass. Sharp poison stings were also sticking out from the tails of the critters that resembled scorpions. Poisonous needles were quickly shot, aiming for the exact moment when Kael took his step.
Air and earth. The combined attack of both sides.
However, Kael placed his steps accurately and avoided them. He stepped on and crushed the scorpions before the poisonous stings could reach him. Another scorpion followed by swinging its tail at that location, but Kael had already lifted his foot and moved his body to a different place.
Even while his upper body slashed the bees, his lower body showed exact and nimble footwork. He was already a true whirlwind. He freely seeped through the gaps that seemed nonexistent in the circle of bugs and dashed forward. Ignoring even the blind spots of his line of sight, he accurately grasped every movement in the area and reacted to them.
The third circle of the siege that once again blocked his path was white strands of thread. The threads, which could not be used to identify what kinds of spiders had created them, were densely woven across the whole tree. Kael slashed down his sword right away, but the cobwebs smoothly withdrew with astonishing elasticity and blocked his way as they bounced back.
The strands, possessing durability and flexibility that refused to be be slit with pure force, stood and allowed no crack of escape.
However, without any sign of hesitation, Kael held onto his sword and swung it sideways while lowering his knees. Then, the speed of the sword that sliced through the threads was multiple times faster than it had been up until now.
That rapid speed that exploded in an instant exceeded the speed of a whirlwind, and could even be described as a spark of fire. It was an extreme speed that would even cut through water.
He darted forward as if to say that nothing would be able to stop him.
However, just before he exited the forest, Kael came to a halt
Kael froze as he stared at the woman, shrouded in a purple veil, who blocked his path for the last time. This woman seemed to only be standing casually, but she showed no gap in her aura. He would be the one who would suffer should he simply attempt to break through. The instinct of a swordsman warned him that she was a formidable opponent who exceeded Archfield.
“You…… must be the one behind all of this.”
The bees and scorpions that were chasing him from behind ceased to approach closer and continued to surround him from the back. They lined up at the back and waited like soldiers in front of their queen.
“So I must act myself, after all. I commend you, demon.”
“Who art thou? If thou art challenging to take over this country, at least reveal thyself as leader against leader!”
Yulia lifted her head up from Kael’s arms and shouted.
“What an awe-inspiring queen. However, how could you discuss leader against leader when you don’t even have the strength to escape from those arms?”
“It would be a waste of time to speak for any longer. Both of you must die here.”
Her purple veil stretched as if it was alive and coiled itself around the two of them.
Kael flung himself at the woman before he could be wrapped with the veil. If he could not figure out her identity, he would first attack them with his strongest attack. In a situation like this, when Yulia was also present, he did not have the luxury to read the opponent’s moves and calmly search for a countermeasure.
Strike from the top to the bottom. Slice diagonally from the bottom left to the top right. Again, a horizontal cut from the right to the left. Continue the movement diagonally from the top left to the bottom right. A twenty-four combo attack that repeated itself from striking from the top to the bottom. It was a simple repetitive move that erupted in one breath. However, the frightening thing about that repetitive move was its speed. The path of a sword that refused to stop, where it was difficult to stop the next move even if one had somehow dealt with the previous. It was truly a sword dance that stretched out splendidly, like a blooming flower.
That was what the attack was supposed to be.
However, that consecutive attack was already blocked at the first blow.
The Holy Sword was reflected by the woman’s arm.
This undoubtedly exceeded Kael’s prediction. The sword wasn’t like the one that he had originally used; the Holy Sword held the title of an artifact, a heritage from the only era when God and the Demon King combined their strength. Its strength and sharpness truly deserved the meaning of its name.
‘She reflected this sword? Even if I take the fact that my condition right now isn’t my best into consideration……”
It was his best attack that he had used with the definite determination to cut through her. Since it was blocked, that much of a gap was to be expected. His stance faltered very slightly, although only for an instant.
Though, under normal circumstances, it was a gap that the blocking side would not be able to exploit due to the brief paralysis from the impact of the attack, the woman’s veil continued to move and wrapped itself around his body.
That one move determined the battle. Kael could not use any power, lifted up in the air by the veil that tightly wrapped around his whole body. Its pressure was more than that of Archfield’s pressure magic. The veil coiled around his nose and mouth and closed in, as if to suffocate him.
Truly experiencing his helplessness, Kael glared at the opponent. Although he had to move, although he had to escape from here with Yulia, he could not move his limbs.
Yulia called anxiously. However, he could not even answer.
This was why he had said that the era of swords had passed. True enough, as a swordsman, he was skilled enough to talk about as the best in this country, but there weren’t much meaning in that. The magic of the high-class demons, the science of the heavenly beings…… and even this woman in front of his eyes possessed strength that far exceeded that level.
The veil twisted his hand and took the sword. The Sword of Key was helplessly taken from him.
“You may leave.”
As if she didn’t even care enough to wait until he suffocated to death, the woman sharpened her nails and shot Yulia and Kael with them. The sharp fingernail dug into the skin that covered Yulia’s heart. Her clothes tore and blood rolled down as her tender skin was pierced. The fingernail entered deep inside her, ripping her muscle and splitting her bones.
With a short cry, Yulia’s body drooped. Colour quickly faded from her face and the tips of her limbs trembled and spasmed. Even while watching that, Kael could not do anything. His consciousness had also started to fade as his body was also being nibbled on by the poison.
However, after all……
He couldn’t do anything like…… protecting somebody.
He would either be helpless, or destroy the contractor. Those were the only options.
“Ohoho. It is finally in my grip.”
The woman, who was holding the sword that she had taken from Kael, let out a satisfied laugh.
“You gave me a lot of trouble. Thanks to that, the stored strength has been severed, but all I would need to do is retrieve the nutrients. I shall consume your body.”
Small bugs began to crawl along the veil. The bugs rushed in without hesitation to gnaw on Kael and Yulia. Kael watched the approaching death with the last piece of his consciousness, but there was nothing he could do.
A gunshot echoed. The very middle of the purple veil was cut.
As the woman looked back in surprise, a female warrior equipped with two pistols pounced on her.
Dewey aimed for the woman and immediately shot her gun another time. Although there were gunshots, there was no gunpowder smoke. No bullets were fired, either. Instead, figureless waves were shot.
Although the purple veil spread and defended her from the front, it dispersed right away when it became caught up in the waves.
After piercing through the veil, Dewey fired another shot, now at her body. The woman blocked the wave with the arm that she had used to reflect Kael’s sword.
Although for a moment it seemed like it was blocked,
the woman’s arm was twisted with a ripping sound.
Only then did the woman realise the power of the blue-haired demon in front of her eyes.
Waves of resonance.
Waves of energy that, unlike normal attacks that only demonstrated destruction at the moment of clashing, mimicked the natural frequency of the target and lingered to gradually destroy the target from the inside.
If the attack hit the veil, it took on the frequency of the veil; if it hit the body, it copied the frequency of the body. As long as the wielder’s magic could support the ability, it was a power that could make even an enormous building fall. It was tricky for her to face at the moment.
Faced with the wave that was about to dig into her body up her arm, the woman cut her arm off without hesitation. With her remaining arm, she clenched only the Sword of Key and retreated right away by throwing her body backwards. She had gained the most important target. There was no way that the kid queen would live, as she had already inserted poison into her. She could always fight a demon on this level after her resurrection.
The swarms of bees and scorpions that were only surrounding them once again aimed for Kael and Yulia, and rushed in at the woman’s command. Standing in front of them, Dewey’s pistols once again belched waves from one side to the other.
The wave that spread out swept through everything that stood in all directions. The ground exploded. The grass was pulled out and flew into the air alongside pebbles. The bugs that were flying in also exploded, swept up by that wave. A shallow but wide crater was made around them, as if a bulldozer had pushed the soil away.
Dewey hurriedly lifted Kael up from the ground and bowed her head.
“I apologise for following belatedly, master.”
‘I guess I’ll live, then……’
After hearing Dewey apologise, Kael eased his tension and let go of his consciousness.