“…Zagan is kind, but I need to get revenge with my own hands.”
This was underneath Kianoides, the Demon Lord’s Palace. Fol had sneaked out of the castle during the night, and travelled here.
While she had withdrawn, her feelings wouldn’t be resolved without killing holy sword wielders.
Zagan and Nephie wouldn’t forgive that.
It was hard to conceive of a friendship between a mage and a holy knight, but there was an air of friendliness between them. If she killed their friend, they wouldn’t forgive her.
“…It was a nice place to be.”
She had wanted to stay forever, to depend on Zagan after he had said they could be together for a millennium. That was the biggest reason that Fol hadn’t acted immediately.
She was too young to follow through with her revenge. She felt as much loneliness as she did hatred. Zagan and Nephie had mercilessly buried that loneliness.
If she had been able to stay with them like that until she had grown, Fol might have even been able to forget her vengeance. And, as a target of vengeance, Chastel was… a bit of an odd girl.
Zagan had told her not to kill Chastel, so Fol had shown her resentment in the form of pranks. Of course, it made her angry with Zagan and Nephie, but she had no intention of stopping that much. Or perhaps that anger would make her point her holy sword at them, and Fol would be given permission to kill her.
Even though Fol had thought that, Chastel hadn’t drawn her sword. On the contrary, she didn’t even remain armed within Zagan’s castle, and Zagan should have been her enemy. Yet despite that, every time Fol thought Chastel might resolve herself, she just cried and glared. Watching her made Fol herself slump, and consider if taking revenge on a girl like that would just be nonsensical. It was possible that Zagan had predicted that Fol would come to feel that way and hadn’t said anything.
That was exactly why Fol was shocked at herself.
“I can’t forget, the holy knights betrayed Wise Dragon Orobas.”
Wise Dragon Orobas — That was Fol’s father’s name, the name of a great dragon that had lived for a thousand years. He was deeply intelligent, sometimes fierce, and sometimes warm, he had used his wisdom not only to guide Fol, but also humans.
Fol was proud of her father.
Then one day, humans calling themselves holy knights arrived. She didn’t know what they had talked about, but her father had flown off with them on his back, and not returned.
After seven days had passed, Fol could wait no longer and took to the skies to search for him. What she had found was her father that had died with a holy sword thrust into him, and a fiendish looking man drinking his blood.
Even the Wise Dragon Orobas was easily felled by a fatal wound from a holy sword. Her father, who had endlessly shared his knowledge and power, had been betrayed by the holy knights.
She could not forget that.
She couldn’t let her hatred be extinguished.
And yet, it had been far too comfortable with Zagan, and she felt like she might even forget her hatred towards Chastel, who was an enemy.
Is my vengeance so trivial?
It couldn’t be.
With Fol’s youth and strength, she probably wouldn’t be able to kill all twelve holy sword wielders. Even so, she couldn’t overlook a holy sword wielder before her eyes.
That was why Fol had come to the Demon Lord’s Palace.
Here… there might be the power to kill even the holy sword wielders.
If she could obtain the Demon Lord’s legacy, she could even win over a holy sword.
Even if it was betraying Zagan and Nephie, she couldn’t stop now.
Then, in the instant she opened the entrance to the palace—
“Ohh, to think there was a castle in a place like this.”
Fol whirled around and a man’s form appeared from the darkness.
I was followed?
She had neglected to pay attention to her surroundings in her rush. And furthermore, the man had a large sword on his back.
Fol’s eyes widened.
“A holy sword… wielder…!”
Even without seeing its inscription or the like, she could feel it in the mana on her skin. The ‘scent’ of the holy sword that killed her father. She hadn’t thought that there was another apart from the woman that Zagan had taken in.
The huge man let an amused smile onto his boorish face.
“What a young mage. You could tell even before I drew it?”
Then, Fol finally looked at his face.
It was without a doubt the face of the man that had drunk Orobas’ blood.
“Hmph, who are you? I don’t know any lasses like you.”
She heard something snap in her head.
Her arms and legs both dragonified in an instant, and green wings burst from her back. In her rage, she didn’t even think of using magic, just of cutting him with her claws.
However, the man was far faster than Fol, and drew his sword.
She let out a confused sound.
This… is a holy sword wielder…
He wasn’t an opponent that could be faced without preparation unless you were a Demon Lord like Zagan. It was because she understood that that Fol had become a mage, but…
The engraved blade descended towards Fol’s neck.
The last things to come to her mind were Zagan and Nephie’s faces as they gently stroked her head.
She spoke his name imploringly, and screwed her eyes shut but the pain she feared never came.
Instead, she felt a pair of arms gently envelop her from behind. And then, a haughty voice spoke gently to her.
“I know I said you could do what you like, but let’s not let you stay up so late.”
It was Zagan’s arm that had stopped the holy sword.
“Ohh… you could stop my blow, Demon Lord.”
Zagan had stopped Raphael’s holy sword with his bare hand… well, with a magic circle as a shield between the blade and his hand.
The blade was a pure white, with different symbols than magic used on its surface that were also subtly different to those on Chastel’s holy sword.
Apparently, the holy swords each had different crests on them.
And so, the sword’s inscription?
Zagan checked his own arm as he sharply surveyed the blade.
The skin hadn’t been shredded or burnt like before, even though Raphael’s slash had been much more powerful than Chastel’s
Even a holy sword cannot cut through the Demon Lord’s Seal.
With the same amount of power, Zagan had been cut originally, but his mana as a Demon Lord didn’t seem to be cut through or reduced by the holy sword.
Though it’s not particularly enjoyable to have to rely on tools.
Although, well, he could think of it as fair because Raphael himself was using a tool in the holy sword.
Even Raphael couldn’t move the sword that Zagan had seized.
Fol, with draconic limbs and wings, spoke with a shaking voice from within Zagan’s arms.
“I had a convenient courier, and had him bring me here, because I thought you’d be here.”
Zagan’s legs were still within a dark shadow. It wasn’t his magic.
“I ain’t convenient, or a courier.”
Barbarus spoke in dissatisfaction. He suddenly appeared from the shadows and backed away, as if he didn’t want to be involved.
“I said I’d reward you, right? Don’t complain.”
Zagan had ordered him to observe Chastel. Mages followed their contracts, and even after he extracted Chastel, he had continued to follow the order so he had answered immediately when Zagan called him upon Fol’s disappearance.
“Zagan-sama, is Fol safe?”
The shadow was still connected to his castle, and Zagan answered Nephie’s worried voice as gently as he could.
“Fol’s safe. I just need to take out the trash and I’ll come back, you wait there.”
She actually wanted to rush over, but she inferred that the problems hadn’t been solved, and answered as such.
“…And, so. It’s not appropriate for children to be out at this time of night. Time to go home.”
He spoke in his usual haughty voice, and Fol shook her head.
“No, that’s not it. I… betrayed you… so… why…?”
Ah, so that’s it.
Zagan softly stroked Fol’s head as tears swam in her eyes.
“I’d already told you, right? Don’t worry about all the little things.”
Fol buried her face into his chest at that answer. The wings vanished from her back, and her limbs returned to those of a human.
“I told you not to worry about the little things.”
That’s right, little things.
I’m glad… I made it…
If Zagan had been even a little later, he would have lost her, compared to that, Fol sneaking off to come to the Demon Lord’s Palace was nothing.
Finally, Zagan focused on Raphael.
“I told you before, right? That if you act out too much in my territory, I’ll ruin you.”
The wicked looking holy knight responded unexpectedly to those words.
“Fuha, a mage is protecting someone else?”
“She’s not just someone else. She’s my daughter.”
And Raphael had taken his sword to Zagan’s daughter.
There’s no reason to let him live.
Nephie wasn’t here, and he was Fol’s enemy, or had at least harassed her, so he’d kill him. Raphael’s eyes also seemed to narrow in acceptance.
“…I see, your daughter. That should be plenty reason then.”
“That’s right… Fol, get away a bit.”
He pushed Fol behind himself and removed his hand from the holy sword.
Raphael didn’t stumble and separated from him, readying his sword again.
However, Zagan frowned.
Even now, he has no blood-lust?
It wasn’t that he had no will to fight, but Zagan couldn’t feel any blood-lust from his sword. Did he really intend to fight like that?
“…I’ll warn you now, if you don’t resist lethally, you’ll die.”
“I’d rather not, but there’s no choice I suppose. I do not intend to die here after all.”
With that murmur, blood-lust finally rolled off Raphael.
“Answer me, holy sword Metatron.”
At Raphael’s call, the holy sword burst into a pallid-white flame.
He felt like he was about to let out a groan, but narrowly avoided it, feeling keenly that he really had only been playing around in the tavern.
Raphael hoisted the flaming holy sword and recited.
“These are the Flames of Purification, said to have defeated the former Demon Lords, and said to burn all evil. A power that only a true user of a holy sword may use.”
That was why the holy swords chose their wielders.
This is the original power of a holy sword…!?
Heat unfurled in waves from the Flames of Purification.
The surge alone started to degrade his magic circles. Even if he cast new spells, the instant the circuits were formed, they would be destroyed.
An average mage would already be powerless, without even fighting.
“Oi, oi… What the hell’s this.”
The holy sword’s power was much the same, but Raphael’s blood-lust itself would cause beasts of prey to flee, and even Barbarus was overwhelmed and retreated.
Fol spoke shakily from behind.
Zagan had incited him to go all out, if Raphael had not taken him seriously, he would have been much easier to defeat.
Zagan spoke calmly.
“I said that I’d teach you about revenge, didn’t I? Letting your opponent use all of their strength and then trampling them is one way to humiliate them and cause them to despair.”
It was certainly an inhuman blood-lust, but if you were to ask Zagan if he was an unbeatable enemy, the answer would be no.
Besides, taking down a holy knight captain will be quite the feather in my cap.
There were no people that would be visibly hostile to Zagan, but there were still those that would slit his throat in the night. Taking a holy knight captain’s head should be more than enough to stop them.
Zagan kicked at the floor.
The stone surface broke and he closed in on Raphael in a step.
Raphael had swung his sword, but Zagan stopped it with his right hand.
It was barehanded, and not even a fist.
The palm of Zagan’s hand was covered in the glow of a magic circle made of condensed mana.
It was rather small, but the apparent lines of light were actually formed of symbols itself, circuits. There were over two thousand forming it. This was the circle that had stopped Raphael’s first blow.
Even the Flames of Purification could not instantly burn through over two thousand circuits.
I’ll call it Heaven Scale I guess.
Zagan hadn’t relied on his power as a Demon Lord. Holy swords even cut through magic, so Zagan had made this new spell to remove the issue of the holy swords.
However, even though it was advanced, it wasn’t a spell with any special power. It was simply strong.
It was a spell that would be of no use to anyone but Zagan, as it took in not only an enemy’s spells, but also the surrounding mana to strengthen itself.
It was just a simply strong magic circle, but…
With a clear clang, the holy sword bounced off it.
The shock was like hitting a lump of rock and an ordinary person’s arms would have shattered. However, Raphael did not drop the blade.
“Ohh, congratulations, you didn’t drop your sword.”
However, the Flames of Purification still burned. While Raphael had an anguished expression, he soon corrected his stance and held the sword in both hands before attacking again.
The holy sword descended straight down. The shining flames were dazzling, and seared white afterimages into Zagan’s eyes. His pure skill at swordplay and the ability to burn through magic were a nuisance, and losing his vision would be lethal.
Zagan quickly drew his leg back and re-oriented his body. The white blade whipped past his nose and struck the ground.
The earth shuddered.
Fol gave a small cry and the flames rushed over the ground.
Raphael’s strike had left a deep fissure in the ground, big enough to easily swallow something of Fol’s size.
He’s ridiculously strong.
Raphael was strengthened by both his baptised armour and his holy sword, and approached Zagan’s strength, and Zagan was a mage that specialised in combat. He probably wouldn’t match a Demon Lord in a contest of pure physical strength, but it was by no means unnatural for him to be able to slaughter average mages like this.
Even as he witnessed the church’s power personally, Zagan’s expression remained composed.
“I’d rather you didn’t damage the place too much.”
Zagan sharply approached and drilled his hand, covered in his Heaven Scale, up in a scooping motion. Raphael quickly interposed his sword between the attack and its target, his face, and blocked the Heaven Scale with its blade.
It rang with the dull impact.
“Fool, did you think such a swing wou-?”
Raphael’s sneering expression warped. Regardless of defending against it perfectly, it had put him in the air, Heaven Scale threw the Holy Sword and Raphael away.
“Whoops, it’s hard to regulate the strength…”
The holy sword fell under the classification of long sword, a sword with a wide reach. In exchange for the effective range it boasted, it wasn’t suited for small movements, and getting in close cut its effectiveness in half.
Even though he stopped the initial blow, it was compounded not only by Heaven Scale’s strength, but also by Zagan’s approach. And yet, Zagan’s strike had thrown him from close range.
Shifting his weight lower, Zagan gouged across the ground, and struck with the palm of his hand in another pushing motion. This time, Raphael had readied himself, and slashed two-handedly with his sword.
Heaven Scale and the holy sword collided.
Sparks flew, Heaven Scale broke, and the Flames of Purification were extinguished.
Apparently, Heaven Scale and the Flames of Purification were evenly matched.
“Hmm, so three strikes is the limit.”
Zagan muttered, unimpressed.
He had been able to have three exchanges with a holy sword. That was a great amount of power, but not enough. If there were two opponents, or three, it would be useless. It was a great result for an initial test, but far from complete.
Barbarus yelled as Zagan calmly evaluated his technique’s efficacy.
“You moron! Now ain’t the time to plan!”
Although his stance had fallen apart, Raphael still hadn’t relinquished his holy sword.
Zagan let out a small sigh.
“I’ve told you before, haven’t I? I can afford this.”
With his stance broken, Raphael was already defenceless. And now that the Flames of Purification were extinguished, he could use other magic.
Faster than he could swing his sword, Zagan’s left fist had already struck his torso.
His arm was already coiled in several magic circles that spun.
It was the spell he had used when defeating Barbarus. Even without Heaven Scale, Zagan could easily punch through baptised armour. He could feel the snaps of bones breaking, and that shock probably pierced through to his organs.
Raphael coughed up blood and flew through the air, hitting against the gate into the Demon Lord’s Palace, and falling through it, where he collapsed in the entrance hall.
This was the conclusion. Zagan had seized victory, but he tilted his head in puzzlement.
“He was weak. Was that really the holy knight that killed nearly five hundred mages?”
Even the Terrifying Holy Knight Captain hadn’t been able to scratch Zagan. In other words, it showed that the church had no resources to oppose a Demon Lord alone.
He glanced back at Fol.
The young dragon girl looked confused, but finally came to her senses and started clapping.
What is this? It’s not bad… it feels pretty nice actually.
Zagan waved quietly back.
He had just crushed an eyesore, but Fol’s envious gaze was somehow pleasant, even though the gazes of the masses had never affected him before.
Zagan’s expression softened in satisfaction, and Barbarus groaned with sweat running from his forehead.
“…You monster, you ain’t even out of breath.”
Well, that would be the normal reaction. Certainly, Raphael’s sword would have overwhelmed Barbarus, but holy knights were different from mages. Once they took a fatal wound, that was the end of them.
When he had knocked Barbarus out, even though he had done the same, he was able to stand again after a while, but Raphael could no longer stand.
Or so it should have been…
“…I… see. Such… power.”
Even as he coughed blood, Raphael was using his sword as a cane and standing up.
What the hell is he?
Zagan once again filled his hands with mana and readied himself.
A little while earlier.
“I… need to go too…”
It was probably because of Chastel that Fol had left.
She didn’t think that she had done anything, but she was together with her parent’s enemies. Zagan should cast her out. Of course, she was grateful for the shelter, but hurting Fol in the process made it meaningless.
Zagan had run to Fol’s room at Nephie’s call, and Chastel had gone to follow, but…
I hesitated… to hold my sword…
So she was later than them, and when she finally reached the room, Zagan had already gone.
“Nephie, where’s Zagan…?”
“Zagan-sama has gone to fetch Fol.”
The pale elf girl’s lips were tight, and she was watching an unnatural shadow that spread out on the floor. Chastel remembered it. When she and Nephie were kidnapped by the mage called Barbarus, they were swallowed in an ominous shadow like this. It seemed like Zagan had used the same magic and chased after Fol.
“Aren’t… you going?”
“Zagan-sama ordered me to wait here.”
So she couldn’t follow apparently.
Chastel began speaking, but then halted.
I’ll go, and do what?
Even though the poison should have left her body, her legs were weak. Her baptised armour was at the side of the bed, but there was no time to put that on. Even with the holy sword at hand, Chastel had been poisoned in the Church.
Having said that, living under the protection of Zagan, who they had been hostile with until this point was far too good a situation.
Then what should Chastel wield her sword for?
She fell to the floor with a clatter.
“Are you okay? You’re not ill again are…”
Nephie rushed over to support her.
“No, I’m… fine…”
As a matter of fact, she wasn’t okay in the slightest. While Nephie was expressionless, her ears still quivered anxiously.
Chastel let out a small sigh.
“I don’t know if I should say it at a time like this, but I’m a little jealous of you.”
Nephie’s eyes widened at the unexpected complaint. Chastel was surprised that she could notice her change.
She’s more expressive than when we first met.
She was sure that was thanks to Zagan. Even to her, who had not been so close to them, they clearly had an affectionate relationship.
I’m jealous that you can love, and be loved, that you’re allowed those relationships.
Maybe it was strange for her to think such of an enemy, but Chastel had wanted to be someone to ease his loneliness.
However, Nephie shook her head.
“Is that so? I’m actually jealous of you.”
“…Ha ha, what can you be envious about with me?”
Chastel asked self-deprecatingly, and Nephie spoke to her, tightly gripping her skirt.
“Because you can run to Zagan-sama, can’t you?”
Her words were filled with emotion.
“I can only wait here. Zagan-sama is exceedingly strong, but something might happen, he might not be able to convey himself to Fol either.”
The person who went out might not understand the worries of the one left behind to wait. But Chastel wasn’t ‘left to wait’.
But what would I do if I went?
She couldn’t say anything, and Nephie continued.
“I cannot stand by his side and comfort him, nor can I support him.”
I wanted to do that, but…
For some reason, Chastel was awfully frustrated and shook her head.
“Are you telling me to do that? I’m an enemy. Shouldn’t you just ignore his orders and go yourself!?”
Her voice roughened, and something fluffy, white, and soft brushed the sides of her face.
“I cannot do that.” It was Nephie. Chastel didn’t know what she was thinking as she hugged Chastel to her chest. “My duty is to greet Zagan-sama with ‘welcome home’ as soon as he returns.” She spoke, softly stroking her head. “When Zagan-sama is away, it is my duty to protect the castle.”
That wasn’t in the sense of protection in battle. It was protecting the easy atmosphere for the household’s head to return to.
Chastel slumped as her head was stroked. If she spoke, it would be complaints. Even if she tried to resist it, with how exhausted she was, she could do nothing else.
“I didn’t want to turn my sword on him…”
Nephie nodded in agreement as she continued stroking Chastel’s head.
“But, I’m… a holy knight…”
She didn’t speak positively or negatively, simply nodding. Chastel couldn’t help but find Nephie’s chest warm, and clung to her.
“It was because I said that I didn’t want to fight that this happened.”
She had had her sword seized, and was watched over by a stronger holy knight, and was close to death from being poisoned.
Tears were flowing from her eyes, dirtying Nephie’s nightwear. And yet Nephie showed no displeasure, and continued her agreements.
And so, she couldn’t bear it, and shouted.
“I didn’t want to defeat him. I wanted to fight alongside him!”
They were words a holy knight should never speak. Even a mage would scorn them, asking why they were being so convenient.
And yet, Nephie nodded praisingly.
“You understand, don’t you?” When Chastel raised her face in disbelief, Nephie was looking at her with her usual expression. “Even when we first talked, you really understood that Zagan-sama was lonely.”
That was when he had sent her away, and she had gathered with Chastel and Manuela.
Her ears quivered in both nostalgia, and slight sadness.
“I was really a little jealous, after all, I thought I was the only one that understood Zagan-sama.”
When Chastel and Zagan first met, Chastel had been saved, but he hadn’t asked for anything in return. Quite the opposite, she was doubtful he would admit he had saved her.
And yet, he had looked incredibly lonely. So much so that it seemed like he was the one that needed saving.
Nephie saved him.
She couldn’t see even a shade of that in Zagan now. As opposed to Chastel, who had done nothing, Nephie had saved him, even though she was sent away.
Nephie pushed Chastel’s fringe away and spoke.
“But I was just as happy. Happy that there were others that understood Zagan-sama.”
Chastel couldn’t help but look at her admiringly.
You grew strong.
Strong enough that it wasn’t just Zagan she could say things like that to, but Chastel too.
Nephie patted her on the shoulder.
“Are you okay now?”
She felt her face grow red at having been held for so long.
Then, she hesitantly asked a question.
“Were you… consoling me?”
It wasn’t something that needed checking, but she really didn’t have the conviction to ask if she could think that.
Nephie tilted her head blankly.
“I was… Um, did I not do so well?”
“That’s not it, but why. Um, I’m an enemy of mages, aren’t I?”
Over these past few days, she had taken meals with her, cleaned with her, and slept under the same roof, so even she wondered.
But at her root, was she not an ‘enemy’ to them?
Nephie looked at her in puzzlement.
“Well, we’re friends aren’t we?”
She thinks about me like that? I can’t win.
At the same time, she wanted to protect the things that Nephie treasured together with her.
Chastel wiped her tears and stood.
“I’m sorry, I look pathetic.”
“It’s okay.” Then, the corners of Nephie’s lips lifted, it was still clumsy, but it was certainly a smile. “Easing Zagan-sama’s worry is also my duty.”
“He was worried, about me?”
“Yes, since the incident with Barbarus-sama, he has been rather worried.”
Chastel doubted her ears.
“Even though he didn’t remember my face even?”
“That’s not the case. At least that’s how it looks to me.”
If Nephie said so, it had to be the case.
She was no longer lost.
“Thank you. I’m going now.”
She had nothing to lose now.
Then my last act should at least be my own.
He might not need her, but Chastel wanted to do so.
So she stepped into the shadow.
She didn’t have her baptised armour, but her holy sword was in her hand.
“Stay safe, Chastel-san.”
Chastel vanished into the shadow, watched over by the girl that called her a friend.
The following was once again within the Demon Lord’s Palace.
Regardless of his baptised armour being smashed, and of the deep wound, Raphael had stood again. Zagan watched him alertly.
It’s… not magic. Is this a power he obtained from a dragon?
If it was magic, Zagan would be able to ‘consume’ it, and holy knights hated magic, so it didn’t seem likely.
A holy knight that could stand after such a wound truly would be a mage’s worst nightmare. It would be tough for even a Demon Lord candidate to defeat him.
However, Zagan smiled happily.
“This is good, Fol. He won’t just die. Think up what punishments you want to give him.”
Fol’s breath caught, but she soon nodded with anger.
Raphael quietly watched her. It might be his imagination, but it seemed to Zagan that he held a tinge of pity and grief.
He spoke heavily, almost like he was sighing.
“It seems you hate me a fair amount.”
“You laid a hand on my daughter. Besides, you killed about five hundred mages yourself, right? It’s a bit much to say you don’t want to be hated.”
“Is that your reason?”
Raphael looked at Fol.
She grit her teeth and glared back at him.
“The Wise Dragon Orobas, that’s the name of the dragon you killed.”
It was the first time Zagan had heard her say that name.
That’s a legendary dragon, his name is in books and legends.
To compare them to mages, it would be like Marchosias’ elevated position amongst the Demon Lords. He hadn’t thought that Fol would be the child of such a dragon.
However, Zagan had his doubts.
Could a legendary dragon be killed with this level of power?
Of course, Raphael had reached the limits of human power. He only seemed weak because Zagan was simply too strong as a mage. Average mages and humans would need thousands of troops.
However, Raphael had stood up from a blow from Zagan, but that should be because of what he obtained for consuming a dragon. The order of things contradicted it.
He didn’t think he was someone that could stand against that level of power.
At Orobas’ name, Raphael’s eyes widened.
“…I see, you’re Orobas’ child.”
He spoke in a somehow tired voice.
He drew his holy sword from the ground and held it in his hands.
“Then I shall have to kill you!”
Raphael brandished the blade and charged at Fol.
“You think I’ll let you?”
Zagan punched him in the face.
An average mage’s skull would have been pulverised with the strength behind the attack. The huge holy knight took that blow head on, and his head snapped backwards.
It certainly hit. Zagan could feel his jaw bone break. The jaw had many nerves beginning at the teeth, and because of the structure of the skull, that would cause a huge shock to the brain.
Mage, holy knight, or dragon, no one would stand after that.
I don’t know what you’re thinking, but I’ll neutralise you for now.
Raphael would then fall and hit the ground head-first, or so he should.
Somehow, Raphael twisted his body and landed on his feet.
It was an unthinkable movement considering his body was so large that even Zagan had to look up at him. More than that, he had overcome the pain.
Then, he sped past Zagan even faster. Zagan was sure that he had ended things, so couldn’t react in time.
Fol was there, completely defenceless after reverting to human form.
“Don’t underestimate me!”
Fol’s hands were filled with a spell.
Zagan shouted to restrain her, but Fol fired the magic at Raphael.
I won’t make it.
It was at the instant that he thought so.
A sharp ringing echoed through the air as blade met blade.
A white ring of shock spread out from the two clashing holy swords. The ring of light spread throughout the cavern like ripples on a lake, entering the Demon Lord’s Palace before vanishing.
Yes, another holy sword had been swung.
“…Won’t you cease this, Lord Raphael?”
It was Chastel, who had appeared from somewhere that stopped that sword.
“Ah, crap, I forgot to close the shadow.”
Muttered Barbarus without shame.
Apparently, she had crossed the shadow while Zagan had been fighting. Something had probably happened before that, as her eyes were rimmed in red and the tip of her nose had also reddened.
That said, she hadn’t had time to put on her baptised armour, and while she had her holy sword, she was wearing an ultramarine shirt and skirt. She had stopped the holy knight captain’s blow with just her holy sword, without even the protection of her baptised armour.
That was certainly an impressive feat, but that wasn’t what had surprised Zagan, nor was it that she was here at all.
She stopped Raphael’s sword and Fol’s magic at once.
Fol had cast magic at Raphael, and the magic which should have pierced through him had vanished.
It hadn’t destabilised, it had been crushed.
This was an aptitude that she hadn’t shown when she fought with Zagan.
“What… are you doing?”
Fol growled and glared at Chastel. As she held Raphael’s sword off, Chastel answered with a strained voice.
“You’ve only bullied me, but it was me that intruded upon your life. Can’t we talk before we fight?”
She spoke firmly, like her worthless behaviour at the castle was an utter lie.
Something must have gotten through to her.
There was no hesitation or fear in her stance. With nothing else he could do, Zagan approached Fol and patted her on the head.
“Well, you’ll have that conversation soon… but wait a little first.”
Zagan was not looking at Chastel, but at Raphael.
“There’s something I want to ask him first, though he probably can’t talk with his jaw broken.”
Zagan’s punch had definitely broken his jaw. It had started to heal, but he still couldn’t use his mouth. It was admirable he could still grip his sword and run around.
As if he had finally used up all of his strength, Raphael fell to his knees. It had probably been all Chastel could do to block the blow, and she fell to the ground as well.
Damnit, Raphael, your blood thirst vanished again.
It happened when he went to attack Fol. On top of that, Zagan’s blow had indeed given him a grievous wound. Even if Chastel hadn’t interfered, he wouldn’t have had the strength to cut Fol down. Fol had been named as one of the Demon Lord candidates after all. That was why Zagan had tried to stop Fol.
He stood in front of Raphael.
“I am a bad person, a mage won’t think anything of torturing a holy knight. But beating on an opponent that doesn’t want to kill is unpleasant. What are you trying to do, talk.”
It wasn’t like he had any compassion or pity for the man, and had no intention of becoming friendly with him.
However, something offended him.
The man was fighting as if…
“Killing someone that’s essentially asking for it isn’t satisfying.”
At those words, Fol’s eyes widened.
“I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking him.”
However, that didn’t mean that he had no idea.
His blood-lust vanished when he heard Orobas’ name.
The name of the dragon Raphael had killed. If it was when he realised that Fol was his daughter that he lost his will to fight, then his actions took on another meaning.
A holy knight would feel no obligation to a dragon or mage, but that thought was consistent. As Zagan looked down at him, Chastel tugged on his robe.
“…You getting involved will make things complicated. Stay quiet for a bit.”
“That’s not it.” Chastel looked at Raphael. “It was hard for me to believe right away, but I’m right, aren’t I?”
“What are you talking about?”
Chastel spoke clearly as Zagan frowned.
“You were that hooded man, Orobas, right?”
That was the name of Fol’s father, and the dragon Raphael had killed. Both Zagan and Fol doubted their ears at that. Only Barbarus wasn’t following the conversation.
“Oi, what do you mean?”
Zagan drew closer to Chastel.
Then, with a crack, ‘something’ broke.
Gripping her sword again, Chastel spoke shakily.
The sound had come from within the palace. He could tell something was moving beyond the broken entrance.
Is something… there…?
‘Something’ that shouldn’t have been there when they investigated the other day.
And then, something unpleasant flowed forth.
It was like a strange wind that clung to the skin and stole their breath. There was no scent to it, but their stomachs froze and they felt nauseous.
An aura of harm… that would probably describe it well.
It was a cursed wind that naturally affected the body, but it also seemed to affect the mind.
Chastel held her chest in pain. She had been poisoned, but without her baptised armour, she was the most defenceless. With nothing else to do, Zagan stood in front of her to protect her.
Barbarus spoke with a flustered voice.
“O-oi, what’s happening.”
“Like I know.”
Zagan answered, and the ‘something’ finally appeared from the gate.
It was similar to a human.
It had a head, two arms, and two legs.
However, it was by no means a human.
Its skin was something hard and rock-like, and each time it breathed, the unpleasant atmosphere throbbed. It had black crack-like muscles running over its body, and he could tell they were probably something like blood vessels.
The strangest thing was its face.
It had a mouth with short horns on its forehead, its eyes were bloodshot, with one being in the centre of its face and one around its left ear. It had no nose, and instead had a barnacle-like protrusion that swung around, inhaling and exhaling.
However, it wasn’t breathing air, it was mana. He could tell from Chastel’s reaction as she held her chest.
Humans, living things, nature, everything had mana, regardless of whether it was alive or not, and this was devouring it.
However, Zagan knew this atmosphere. And he remembered its form.
“Is this… a demon?”
He muttered, before immediately noticing that it was wrong.
I can’t feel the same fear as with that demon.
Barbarus had summoned a demon before, the monster in front of them now was similar, but the demon had been more unnatural.
Finally, Fol spoke with a groan.
“No. This is… the palace’s… gatekeeper.”
The statue that was modelled on a demon, sealed by some magic circle.
“…I see. An aftereffect of that clash between the holy swords?”
Had it broken the seal, or was it a coincidence?
No, it was probably sealed.
Marchosias wasn’t so senile as to allow something like this to happen by coincidence.
“Is it a type of golem…?”
Even though it was similar in form to a demon, it had started as something far different. At the least, it wasn’t an absolute existence that filled Zagan with fear that it was un-winnable.
That aside, it was Marchosias’ legacy. It couldn’t be as poorly made as it seemed. It was unknown even to Zagan.
Raphael spoke hoarsely. Apparently, he had recovered enough to speak.
It seems that he wants to speak too.
Though that said, the monster in front of them didn’t seem to be listening and they would have to eliminate it first.
“Now then, what should we do?”
Zagan muttered. Its eyes glared at Zagan.
When he felt that, Zagan focused on the Demon Lord’s Seal on his right hand.
If it was something that followed the same logic as a demon, then he might be able to send it away like before.
Zagan raised his right hand and chanted.
“I, Zagan, order you by the Demon Lord’s Seal. Unnatural one, return from whence you came.”
The Seal let off an unpleasant light in response to his call. The demon that he had met before had knelt and vanished when ordered like that. This time…
“Damn, it didn’t work. It’s coming!”
Zagan clicked his tongue.
The mouth on its forehead opened, and destructive mana began to gather there. It would attack.
He looked behind him, and the first thing he saw was Chastel, who could still not stand.
Even without her baptised armour, she hasn’t died?
Reflexively, he caught her by the back of her neck and jumped away. So he missed it. Chastel had been covering someone behind her.
“Get back, Fol!”
Fol was frozen in shock at the sudden occurrence. Then, the light erupted from the monster’s mouth.
The light shot through where Zagan had been standing, and Fol vanished. He had the feeling he had seen something cover her immediately before that.
When the torrent of light died down, the floor had been fused into a glass. Within the scorched ground, there was an area that had remained as stone, and in that area, there were two figures.
Fol, who was letting out a small groan, and Raphael, who had covered her.
He had nothing from his left shoulder.
Zagan’s anger flared. He didn’t know if the rage was at himself for not being able to protect Fol, or for having the conclusion with an enemy taken from him.
Whichever it was, it was plenty reason for Zagan to fight.
The monster once more opened its mouth.
“…Aren’t you getting too cocky, you stupid doll?” Zagan spat, after having jumped at the monster’s head. “I’ll crush you, Heaven Scale.”
In an instant, Zagan’s palm was covered by a shield that was composed of over two thousand circuits, that was so solid it was destructive. Crushing his hand around the magic circle, Zagan’s fist descended.
The mouth that had been gathering mana, and the head as a whole was pulverised.
Even under normal circumstances, Zagan could crush rocks, and Heaven Scale increased that. The destruction didn’t stop at its head, and split the monster in two down its torso. As it split to the left and right, it was mere stone, and fell slowly to the floor.
Without even checking to see that it was dealt with, Zagan rushed straight to Fol and Raphael, who had taken the brunt of the attack.
“Oi, are you two alive?”
Fol’s eyes cracked open at his voice.
For some reason, Raphael had used his holy sword and body to protect Fol, and the young girl didn’t have a scratch on her.
However, that wasn’t the case for Raphael. Fol was looking at his form that had lost his entire left arm in confusion.
“What were you trying to do?”
Apparently, Raphael was still conscious, and opened his eyes.
“…I just did my job, it has nothing to do with you.”
The wound was so severe his sense of pain had probably been numbed, and his voice didn’t sound pained.
It’s too close to his heart though.
He didn’t know how Raphael’s regeneration worked, but having his arm blown off from the shoulder down would mean the wound would also reach the heart. He had already bled enough to die, and it didn’t seem like the dragon’s power would help him now.
He had taken a grievous wound, and blood was pouring from him, dyeing his armour red, even his face had the pallid tinge of death, why did the man stand.
No, why did he have to stand?
Even as he coughed up blood, Raphael spoke composedly.
“You called me Orobas’ foe.”
Even the man’s stubbornness was something to behold, and Fol nodded, overwhelmed. Raphael looked straight at the young girl and spoke.
“That’s a mistake. That great dragon was not such a pitiful existence as to fall to the likes of me.”
That was what Zagan had doubted.
Holy swords are certainly a nuisance, but are they enough to defeat a legendary dragon?
It wasn’t even certain that the thirteen Demon Lords would be able to defeat a legendary dragon.
Raphael might have strength beyond the norm for holy knights, but if Zagan could overwhelm him, he wouldn’t be able to kill Orobas. Fol cried out, as if she didn’t want to accept that reality.
“You’re lying! I saw it. I saw you devouring my father! You ambushed him!”
“Then I ask you this. Was the Orobas you knew a weak enough dragon to be defeated by the betrayal of a mere human?”
“…Are you still ridiculing my father, even now!?”
“The one ridiculing Orobas is you,” Raphael spoke to Fol, who was confused. “What you think of me is of no matter to me. However, for the sake of Orobas’ honour, I tell you this. That great dragon would never fall afoul of us mere humans.”
“What… do you mean?”
Raphael let out a quiet sigh.
“That day, I entreated the great dragon Orobas for aid to defeat an enemy, and he granted that desire.”
What enemy would be so strong that a holy knight would have to ask a dragon for aid with?
A Demon Lord… perhaps?
Zagan waited with bated breath for him to continue.
Finally, Raphael’s gaze moved. His eyes didn’t look towards Fol, not to Zagan or Chastel, he looked past them, to the stone that Zagan had pulverised.
“Demons, that is the name they have been given through the ages.”
Fol’s eyes opened wide.
“Don’t be foolish. I’ve not heard of anything like that existing now.”
“Then what is that? Is that not a monster far removed from anything that we speak of?”
Fol couldn’t answer.
“I understand that you don’t wish to admit it. I too thought that they had left this world. However, a demon appeared in this world, and brought death to that great dragon and many holy knights.” Raphael told her, coughing blood with his words. “In the not too distant future, they will return.”
Fol turned her eyes imploringly to Zagan at the hard to believe words.
Zagan nodded right back to her.
“It’s the truth. I don’t know about them returning, but demons still exist. That’s why I’ve been looking for a way to kill them.”
He hadn’t felt the strain as Raphael had been talking, but he had realised that if he had to fight them, he had no means to resist.
Perhaps Barbarus succeeding in that summoning was an omen.
Barbarus was indeed a mage of significant power, but the sacrifices hadn’t been enough, and it had activated with Zagan’s power, incomplete.
A demon should not be so insignificant that it could be summoned with such magic.
Fol probably realised that Zagan spoke the truth. The castle library was filled with books concerning demons after all. She looked up at Raphael in disbelief.
“Then, father challenged a demon and lost?”
At that, Raphael shook his head.
“He did not lose, he lay down his life to defeat them.”
That was just another way of putting it. However, it showed that he believed in the prideful battle of the dragon. Fol was the same.
She pressed her lips tightly together and mumbled.
“…Then… who should I hate?”
“You shouldn’t hate, you should be proud.”
“Yes, be proud. Orobas put his life on the line to protect you, and the world you live in. If you are not proud of that, who will be?”
He said, and then knelt before Fol.
“I don’t care if you kill me and revere Orobas. I offer my head to you.” Raphael looked down at his body as it regenerated from what should have been a fatal wound. “Demons are powerful. If they return to this world whilst the church and mages are in conflict, we will have no chance of winning. We must prepare. And so, even though it disgusted me, I consumed Orobas’ blood, and held on to life through his death.”
That had been what Fol had seen. Raphael looked at Chastel.
“However, my duty is at its end. The seed of symbiosis has already begun to bud. If my last act is a gift to Orobas, I have no complaints.”
Finally understanding everything, Zagan opened his mouth.
“Then that messenger of the ‘symbiotic faction’ that Chastel spoke of was you?”
Raphael nodded quietly.
“Indeed. While you are Demon Lord and Holy Knight Captain, the two of you have a connection. That is extremely close to my aim, so…”
“Oi oi oi, you can’t believe him, right?” Barbarus voiced his disagreement. “You’ve killed hundreds of mages. That’s supposed to be peace? Who’d agree with that.”
Zagan had the same opinion with that. However, Raphael nodded in agreement.
“I know that all too well. I cannot be the face of symbiosis. That is why the Holy Maiden of the Sword is needed.”
Chastel raised her voice, flustered at the huge role being pressed upon her.
“W-wait. I haven’t accepted that yet…”
The target of her words could no longer hear them. With a rumble, the broken stone began to move. Looking in that direction, the monster that had been split right in two was beginning to stand once more.
“…Hah, there are too many immortals around.”
There was Raphael, who lived despite having his entire arm blown off, and the previous Demon Lord’s monster. Compared to them, Zagan might be the most human-like.
“I’ll go deal with it again, wait here.”
“Can you kill it? Something like that?”
Zagan shrugged at Raphael’s words.
“Golems are outside my expertise, but if it’s made with magic, I can destroy it.”
“That’s not a golem.”
Zagan frowned at his surety.
“What do you mean?”
“That’s what you would call a chimaera. Something else than a golem created by magic…”
Zagan felt a chill at those words.
“…Oi, you can’t mean.”
“Indeed. That is a chimaera that Marchosias created, of demons.”
Zagan couldn’t refute those words. Because when he had first seen it, he had thought of demons.
Damn you, Marchosias, that’s an annoying thing you’ve left behind!
Raphael watched the monster in displeasure.
“I am sure of it. That’s the remains of the demon that Orobas and I defeated. Marchosias must have recovered it and created a chimaera.”
Remains would always be remains, they would fall short of the original’s power, but it was still without a doubt a demon. Naturally, just hitting it would not destroy it.
Even so, a smile made its way to Zagan’s face.
How convenient, I can perform another test.
The rock monster, the demon chimaera, had already ceased living. Zagan once again covered his hand in Heaven Scale and stepped forward.
“Chastel, you should go too.”
“…I haven’t said I agree with you yet, have I?”
“And yet you have already decided what you should do.”
She didn’t know what he meant, but Chastel nodded and took up her sword.
“Even without your words, I will wield my sword as I choose.”
And then, Chastel recited quietly.
“I won’t hesitate anymore, so lend me your power, holy sword Azrael.”
These were the Flames of Purification, though rather than flames, it was more like light. They didn’t take the form of wild flames like Raphael it was a pale light that coiled about the sword. However, they didn’t feel ephemeral.
Zagan knew. The power that Raphael had put into flames was concentrated within the sword. Concentrated to a single point, it might even be able to cut through Heaven Scale.
Is she more powerful than Raphael, with just the holy sword’s power?
Chastel stood next to a wide-eyed Zagan.
“I won’t ask you to trust a holy knight, but I want to fight with you.”
Zagan shrugged his shoulders.
“I doubt you have the skill to plot like that.”
With her pitiful state over the past few days, he couldn’t help but know.
“…Is that supposed to be praise, or condemnation?”
Chastel pouted in anger, then turned her face away and spoke.
“So, what are our chances?”
“There’s something I want to test. But I need to hit directly, so I need to get close.”
“Got it. Then I’ll keep its attention.”
The stone creature had finished its revival and its unpleasant eyes looked at them.
The repulsive mouth open on its forehead once more began to shine with gathered mana. It was the breath that had taken out Raphael.
He checked behind himself.
If I dodge, it will hit the two behind.
Barbarus was out of range, but the other two weren’t. Fol might be able to escape, but Raphael could no longer move. Besides, letting his daughter be faced with something like that wasn’t to his taste.
Zagan readied himself, but then his vision was obstructed by Chastel’s back.
“Idiot, you don’t have your baptised armour, you’ll die.”
“I said I’d keep its attention!”
Chastel shouted and ran.
The monster let off its breath attack. The light enveloped Chastel’s body — or so it should have.
Chastel slashed her sword with her cry.
The light breath was split right in two by the long sword.
The split breath missed Zagan and the two behind him before vanishing.
“Let’s go, run, Zagan!”
Chastel continued on towards the monster.
She’s rather brazen, isn’t she?
But even so, Zagan was astonished at her strike. He hadn’t seen the moment she slashed.
That aside, because Chastel wasn’t wearing her baptised armour, there was a vast difference in physical capability between them. Zagan overtook her in a single breath, and entered into range of the monster in the blink of an eye.
The stone monster swung its arm.
Barbarus let out in surprise. Regardless of its massive body, it was as fast as Zagan.
That’s too futile though.
It was a sweeping strike, but Zagan met it head-on with his fist. The stone fist shattered, the fragments flying through the air.
However, Zagan was the one to falter.
The fragments were connected by a disgusting black haze and changed their direction through the air as if they were conscious, raining down on Zagan.
So this is how it went back when I broke it!?
The stone body was just a front, and its true form was the black haze lurking within.
“Don’t stop, Zagan!”
Those countless fragments were destroyed by a pure white light. It was Chastel’s slash from where she had caught up. It looked like a white line passing through the fragments, separating them before the next slash swung through the air. There must have been dozens of slashes.
They were all so fast that it seemed like one continuous movement. The speed was surprising, but the truly amazing thing was the fact that although she was behind and the cuts were in front, none of the cuts had wounded Zagan.
Rather than admire it, a chill ran down his back.
If she had done this when we first met, would I have died?
When he first faced her as a holy knight, if she challenged him with this swordsmanship, Zagan would have been hard pressed.
However, she was now an ally he could trust to watch his back.
Zagan curled his hand around the Heaven Scale, and added another border of circuits.
“Heaven Scorch, burn to ash.”
And then, he knocked his fist into the monster’s torso.
That’s right, it was a light enough hit to be called a knock. A pitiful blow for Zagan, who could smash rocks.
At that, Chastel groaned from behind him.
“It didn’t work?”
“…No, it’s already over.”
He muttered, and raised his right hand, making a fist like he was crushing something.
Immediately afterwards, the monster burst into black flames.
They gushed forth for a mere instant, rushed across the skin like they were colouring it in, and then vanished.
And then, it was all over.
The blackened statue crumbled soundlessly.
Whatever regeneration you’ve got, without mana, you’re just a lump of rock.
The fragments crumbled into dust and vanished before they hit the ground. After a moment, there was nothing left.
He looked over his shoulder and Chastel was stock still in shock.
“What did you do?”
Zagan created a magic circle on his palm.
“I have a spell called Heaven Scale. It takes in mana from the environment endlessly to strengthen itself and acts as a shield. I inverted it and put it inside.”
“It takes in mana without bound, and burns. The flames appear black because it’s the mana itself burning.”
Heaven Scale and Heaven Scorch, they were two contrasting spells within the same principles. Anti-holy sword and anti-demon, Zagan had devised them in the few weeks since he had obtained Marchosias’ legacy.
That said, it had burnt even a chimaera created from the remains of a demon in an instant.
A human mage would be helpless against it. If the other Demon Lords knew of it, they would be likely to designate it as forbidden.
“It’s still too imprecise. If I can’t raise the efficiency, it won’t affect demons.”
The demon that Zagan had encountered had far more concentrated mana. It was probable that in its current form, Heaven Scorch would be destroyed before it could burn the demon. It was incomplete, and there was still much room for improvement.
“You’re a terrifying mage.”
Chastel said shakily, but her voice seemed to hold respect.
So Zagan answered in kind.
“You’re fairly skilled yourself, Chastel.”
At that, for some reason, Chastel’s eyes went wide and she covered her face.
“Nothing, just… that’s the first time… you called me by name.”
“Is it?” He hadn’t really noticed, but he had indeed usually called her ‘you’ when talking to her. “Sorry about that.”
“You’re Nephie’s friend. I should at least respect you.”
A mage’s manners were no different than a bandit’s dignity though.
Chastel pouted and glared at him.
“I didn’t just come for Nephie, I came to fight with you.”
Zagan’s eyes widened.
“Even though we’re a mage and holy knight?”
“Even though we’re a mage and holy knight.”
Chastel answered like that, and Zagan had someone that he hadn’t known he could trust.
It certainly isn’t a bad feeling to be able to trust someone to watch my back.
Even as he felt it wasn’t like him, Zagan went to put it into words.
He turned at Fol’s voice and finally saw Raphael collapse in exhaustion.
“I was certainly able to see the fastest sword of the holy knight captains.”
Raphael grinned where he lay on the ground. His smile was fierce enough that it was like he might attack at any moment, but that just seemed to be his usual smile.
“Don’t talk too much. I’m bad with healing magic.”
Zagan was giving Raphael first aid with magic, but his wounds were too deep. The most Zagan could do was to stem the bleeding. His draconic regeneration had weakened, and was only extending his life by a little.
Raphael spoke somewhat tiredly.
“Chastel, whatever your thoughts, your actions themselves have made you our face. Those who sympathise with me will help you.”
Chastel looked at him with a conflicted expression.
However, Zagan spoke.
“The symbiotic faction, huh. Barbarus said so earlier, but I just can’t understand it. If you need a face, why not do it yourself? You’re a holy sword wielder too.”
“Within the church itself, that would be enough. But just as he said, I have killed too many mages, if I called for unity now, the mages would never agree.”
That was why they needed someone like Chastel. Chastel suddenly made an expression of realisation.
“Is that why you used Orobas’ name, because yours wouldn’t be believed?”
“That’s also true, however, my survival, and the establishment of the symbiotic faction is all Orobas’ dying wish. Thus his name is suitable for its leader.”
That was how absolute Orobas’ existence was to him. Zagan could understand that, but he could not agree.
“Why did you cut the mages down in the first place? Did you have some kind of grudge?”
He had no intention to claim that they were good people. In fact, mages were without exception villainous. He couldn’t think of a reason that they shouldn’t be hated, but even so, killing nearly five-hundred was no fleeting resentment.
However, Raphael’s answer was unexpected.
“I didn’t go out of my way to kill them. The mages just attacked me for some reason.”
It wasn’t just Zagan that let out a dull sound, it was everyone there.
Raphael murmured in puzzlement.
“I wonder why. I was trying to have a gentlemanly conversation. I even smiled to show I meant no harm, but the mages didn’t even wait for me to speak and attacked. Even I will fight back if attacked. And thus, it ended with me cutting them down.”
Zagan was in shock, not getting what he was saying.
“…Wait a minute. You were pretty confrontational when we met in the tavern.”
“I was trying to tell you about the dangers of a friendly relationship with Chastel?”
His head ached.
Chastel shook her head in confusion as well.
“B-but when we first met, you asked me how many mages I had killed… Huh, was that an act so people wouldn’t guess that you were part of the symbiotic faction?”
“What are you talking about? If you had killed mages like I had, you couldn’t be our banner. And you answered that it was not a number to take pride in, that was why I had confidence in you.”
He returned seriously, and Chastel held her head in her hands. Though then, she nodded.
“Now that you mention it, was that why you negotiated for the return of my holy sword?”
“How would a holy knight protect themselves without a holy sword?”
Apparently, something had happened with Chastel. Zagan remembered his conversation with Raphael as well.
He had spoken confusingly, but he had certainly not spoken a word of wanting to kill Chastel. His words and actions were a threat from the church, but that didn’t mean that Raphael agreed with their views.
Well, if you were trying to get mages and holy knights to work together, it would be with someone like Chastel.
In other words, it was to gain sympathy. Though it didn’t seem that way in the slightest.
“But nearly five-hundred.”
“They attacked me essentially daily. When there were no mages, I moved on to a new place.”
Apparently, the numbers had increased with each place he went. He couldn’t agree, but Zagan reluctantly understood.
Of course, he sighed.
“Think about your appearance. If you speak misleadingly when you look like that, anyone will think you’re an enemy.”
At this statement from Zagan, Barbarus made a face of shock that Zagan was saying that, and Zagan made a mental note to hit him later.
He clenched a fist, and Raphael stood slowly.
“Chastel, you can return to the church. I will deal with the person that tried to remove you. I will survive that long at least.”
“You know the culprit?”
“And you haven’t realised?”
It wasn’t that she had no idea, Chastel’s face drained of colour.
There are indeed very few within the church other than Raphael that could have done it.
She wasn’t familiar with the inner workings of the church, but by process of elimination, only one person came to mind.
Finally, Raphael looked to Fol.
“I promised you my head, but please wait until then.”
Fol couldn’t answer those words, and instead asked a question.
“…Answer one thing. What kind of dragon was Orobas to you?”
Raphael nodded solemnly.
“He was a great dragon. Riding on his back, and fighting together with him were the best times of my life.”
Fol didn’t try and stop him leaving, nor try to kill him.
“Are you sure?”
“…I don’t know. But I don’t know if killing him is the right thing to do.”
Zagan softly stroked her head.
“Then isn’t that fine?” Then he held out his hand to Fol. “We’re going home. Nephie’s going to be tired of waiting.”
Zagan didn’t know if giving up on revenge was the right thing either. But even so, he could feel no hatred from Fol towards holy knights.
So this is fine.
Her hatred might swell again, she may be lost, but Zagan and Nephie had decided to stand by her side.
Then, Chastel spoke.
“Umm, what about me?”
“Go back to the church, tail-head.”
Chastel began to cry at Fol remaining hostile to her.
However, at some point, Barbarus had left, so it was near dawn by the time they returned to the castle. Even so, Nephie was there to greet them.
“Welcome back, Zagan-sama, Fol, Chastel-san.”
And that same morning, they would hear of how Raphael dealt with things.
“I see, so Chastel’s whereabouts are still unknown…”
The aged Cardinal murmured grievingly at the report from Chastel’s subordinates, the Three Knight of the Azure Sky.
“We have no excuse, we have had no results.”
“You are not at fault. I too was responsible for her safety. Rest for now.”
The three bowed their heads and left Clavell’s office.
When the door closed, Clavell could not contain himself and spoke.
“Ohh… Chastel, my knight… why will you not die for me?”
His face curved wickedly through his hands.
“Mages are evil, those that support them are likewise evil. If a holy sword wielder is stained by evil, the next may inherit that stain and will be unable to carry out justice.”
If Chastel were killed, the holy sword would choose its next, pure wielder.
A wielder that he would surely this time raise as an incarnation of justice. It had been scrupulously hidden, but this was not the first time that Clavell had assassinated a holy sword wielder. He had slain those that could not show the absolute power as a sword of justice, those that had differing views than him, those that had hesitated to kill mages, and those that were unsuitable to wield a holy sword.
Fortunately, Kianoides was the territory of the previous Demon Lord, Marchosias, so no one would doubt they had died through fighting him.
This was not a defeat of the holy swords. The wielders were unsuitable, and so had not been able to use their true power, and had died, so this could be called the will of the holy swords.
However, this was different.
“If Raphael hadn’t interfered…”
Chastel had foolishly said that she didn’t wish to fight the Demon Lord. He had taken her holy sword immediately and begun preparations for her execution. It had taken time because he had to deal with the other Cardinals’ reactions. Indeed, Clavell was not protecting her, she had been protected because the other Cardinals had stopped him. Chastel had then gone missing with her holy sword.
Damn you… Did that poison not kill you either?
It was a prized poison developed to torture captured mages, with high lethality.
Mages would be brought to death by drinking it, so Chastel shouldn’t have survived. And yet, there was no corpse nor holy sword to be found.
If Raphael hadn’t insisted on returning her holy sword, these troubles would never have happened.
“Those three knights were no help either.”
They blindly served Chastel. So he had set them under observation thinking that they would be able to easily find her, but they had aimlessly wandered the town and found nothing.
Or did they notice the observation?
Even those three were amongst the ten strongest in Kianoides. Even on the day that Zagan had become a Demon Lord, they had chased after Chastel and succeeded in rescuing her, so they may have noticed that they were being used as accomplices in her assassination.
He would have to think of another method.
As he groaned, a knock came at his door.
“…I’m sorry, but I wish to be alone now, can you come back later?”
He had no desire to talk calmly with someone when he was so angry and highly strung.
However, regardless of that, the door was flung open.
“I’m coming in, Clavell.”
Standing there was none other than the giant holy knight, Raphael.
“W-what are you doing, you insolent…?”
He spoke fearfully, and then noticed that Raphael was covered in blood, and lacking an arm, so deeply wounded that it was a wonder he still lived.
“Lord Raphael, those wounds… No, more importantly, I will treat you!”
He quickly slipped poison into his hand. He didn’t know what had happened, but this man was one of the ‘evil’ that Clavell had to kill.
This wasn’t a set goal, but it would raise his influence within the church. If he had known that Raphael was part of the faction that he hated the most, the symbiotic faction, he wouldn’t have chosen the method. However, for better or worse, Raphael’s looks meant that none in the church would think that.
Raphael sat himself in the seat in front of Clavell.
“What, don’t worry about it. I just came to finish some small matters. I’ll go soon.”
It happened when he reached out with a poison-coated glove to smear on Raphael’s wound.
His arm fell to the floor.
“Unfortunately, I have no desire to be touched by a poison-coated hand.”
Faster than Clavell could see, Raphael had cut off his right arm.
He crouched and went to scream, but his mouth was covered by a booted foot, and several shattered teeth rolled across the floor.
“Don’t make so much noise. This is the first time I’ve killed a man through choice. I’m probably slightly nervous.”
He couldn’t speak, but his eyes asked that question.
“You and I are old. We shouldn’t be interfering with the younger generation’s way of doing things. Nipping possibilities in the bud is absurd.” He said, and then drew his holy sword. “You can die by the sword you like so much, why not be happier?”
His eyes went wide, and he tried to shake his head, but the boot on his face meant that he could do nothing.
Someone help me!
Why were none of the holy sword wielders in Kianoides coming to help him?
The three knights that just returned?
Why was he, an orator of the age of God having his life threatened by ‘evil’ like this?
No matter how much he yelled mentally, the ‘justice’ that Clavell believed in did not protect him.
“I’ll send you there myself. Wait for me in the underworld.”
The holy sword descended straight for him.
That was the final thing Clavell saw in this world.