The time Vepar’s group arrived at the gate was when Hifumi’s figure had already vanished into the castle. Hifumi’s spirit was simply uplifted by the battling. He knows that the time for that game was short.
“Ueeh, oeeh, oeeh…”
The healing magician girl who followed Vepar, vomited with all her strength abruptly once she saw the terrible scene and one of the girls, who was right next to her, joined in.
“Get your act together.” (Vepar)
Vepar, who shrugged her shoulders while saying “Good grief”, calmly surveys the gate’s vicinity.
Not a single living person is around.
Without regards to whether man or woman and their age, all of them were equally visited by death.
“He went at it quite flashily.” (Vepar)
“Captain, did that human go inside? To where the king is, inside the castle?”
“I guess so.” (Vepar)
Vepar answered the question of her subordinate, who had a pale face although she hasn’t thrown up, with a sigh mixed in.
“Anyway, he seems to plan on installing me as new demon king once he brings down the current king.” (Vepar)
“… Is he sane?”
“Don’t ask me.” (Vepar)
Folding her arms, Vepar twists her mouth in the shape of へ.
“However, his eyes were serious. I don’t know what he is thinking, but that was the expression of someone who has seized the outrageous act of killing the king as realizable target.” (Vepar)
“If there’s a problem”, Vepar raised her eyes at the castle and even her subordinates, except the two who were still vomiting, likewise looked up at the area around the king’s private chamber.
“It’s whether the human can win against that king, right?” (Vepar)
Everyone nodded at Vepar’s words.
The demon soldiers know why he continues to reign as king although he looks like nothing more but a young boy.
“*spits out* Somehow I have a disgusting feeling within my mouth. I want to rinse it out.”
The mood, which should be gloomy, didn’t become too tense thanks to the girls.
While Fokalore’s army is showered with cheers by a crowd of people, they form lines by the city’s large front gate and leave.
The expressions of the soldiers, who are donning battle gear on their bodies and held weapons such as swords, spears and some of them even kusarigama’s, were smiling faces tinged with nervousness.
They number 500. But even then it’s no more than less half of the soldiers serving as regulars in the Tohno feudal army. Only this earldom possesses the financial leeway to uphold such a large-scaled standing army, which is a money sink, with the exception of each nation’s capital.
“Do your best!”
“Please annihilate the monsters and their-likes!”
“Come back properly!”
Even bold scolding was mixed into the high-pitched encouragements. It was completely like being overwhelmed by waves of sounds.
The soldiers, who left the city, formed lines with accustomed movements, matched their faces alongside the highway and looked at the person in the front.
“Well then, move out!” (Alyssa)
Advancing at the lead, from atop an open-air carriage with no canopy, Alyssa stretches her small body as best she can while shouting and received a reply with many voices overlapping.
Beside Alyssa Miyukare is riding with her on the carriage, which began to advance slowly, as her advisor. The soldiers start to move and in their backs the carriages of the supply unit, carrying goods, follow.
“For the time being it would be good to head in the direction of Vichy, right?” (Alyssa)
“Yes, I already gave the coachman the order. It’s alright for you to comfortably sit down, Alyssa-sama.” (Miyukare)
Miyukare smiled while holding out a cup filled with tea to her.
“Thank you.” (Alyssa)
Seeing the face of Alyssa, who returned a smile, Miyukare frantically suppressed the thump within her nose and grabbed the documents placed nearby.
“While marching towards Vichy like this we will clean up the monsters. Basically the main purpose is to secure the safety of the highway and its surroundings, but… in the end by emphasizing the pressure onto Vichy, a war will break out if the situation explodes. If it doesn’t, we will restrict the entry and leaving at the border in the name of security measures at the garrisoned forces. Those are all Lord-sama’ orders.” (Miyukare)
“There’s nothing specific written, right?” (Alyssa)
While pouting, Alyssa adjusted the position of the short sword which is hanging at the back of her hips. With the carriage’s vibrations making a stir, it’s difficult to sit.
“This is also the “homework” assigned to you and me, Alyssa-sama. But, if we work together, an operation of such level can be completed without difficulty.” (Miyukare)
“Yea, I count on you, Miyukare-san.” (Alyssa)
Miyukare, who barely manages to keep up a poker face, faints within her mind. Alyssa showed her a bright smile, but once she turned her sight towards the walking lines of soldiers, her look became serious.
As people are gathering in Fokalore, a great number of people is necessary for security and maintenance of public order. Given that there are that many people who have turned up looking for work, there was no particular problem in regards to replenishment of personnel.
The elites, who repeatedly practised and studied, have been assigned to their respective fields of expertise.
Although it happened that sometimes some lost their lives due to incidents in the city and the battles with monsters, there was no substantial influence due to that and the Fokalore feudal army became huge.
And, after several battles, it’s a military operation after a long time. On the platform wagons, which are being used as usual, Prulfras has installed a new type of spear throwers he himself named to be of satisfactory quality.
“… No one wants to die. It’s sad for people you know to pass away after all. But even so, it’s possible to restrain that way of thinking by accepting that it’s inevitable.” (Miyukare)
Alyssa’s look faced towards Miyukare.
“What is Hifumi-san aiming for? What did you think when you heard it for the first time?” (Alyssa)
“… Honestly, I thought it to be a simply troublesome matter. I considered it an absurd action like running to beat a horse in the name of practise.” (Miyukare)
“Ahaha, that example is funny.” (Alyssa)
The laughing Alyssa unfastened the scabbard with the short sword from behind her hips and drew it out in front of her eyes.
“Hifumi-san, you know, stares at his katana when he got free time. Did you know?” (Alyssa)
Turning over her wrists, light is reflected in a momentary flash.
“Previously I asked him why he is staring that fixedly at his katana.” (Alyssa)
It was at the time Hifumi was maintaining the katana after meditating and finishing his daily practise. Alyssa planned to have her meal together with the three of them, Origa included, but at the moment she entered Hifumi’s room, there was a man and his katana standing in the room shrouded in a silence that was painful.
“I have imagined the time of my death, he said.” (Alyssa)
Unintentionally raising the tone of her voice, Miyukare blushed.
“I also asked the same thing when I heard it for the first time.” (Alyssa)
Alyssa laughed delightfully.
“And there Hifumi-san said It’s only natural to accept getting killed if you are killing others yourself.” (Alyssa)
Alyssa, who giggled for a while, wiped her tears with a finger.
“I told you before, I experienced something cruel at the time I was a soldier of Vichy to the degree of wanting to die.” (Alyssa)
“Yes, I remember.” (Miyukare)
“At that time I was terribly afraid of dying. There were also things I wanted to do and delicious things I wanted to enjoy. I thought that all of it would come to an end once this pain ended.” (Alyssa)
The carriage sways grandly as it runs over a pebble.
In contrast to Miyukare whose balance crumbled a bit, Alyssa lightly half-rose to her feet and cushioned the impact.
“But now I’m living earnestly without regrets until the time I die, as I was told by Hifumi-san. Of course I don’t want to die. At the time I decided to follow Hifumi-san, I didn’t think that far ahead though.” (Alyssa)
She gently strokes the scabbard of the short sword.
The scabbard which had been polished to the degree of blackening just like Hifumi’s, had a blackness making somebody believe that its darkness erased the lustre purposely.
“Most likely it’s important to live to your fullest to have a good death, too, I think that’s what Hifumi wants to convey to all of us. The words are to kill each other as is, but since it’s the easiest thing to understand, let’s simply kill each other. I think that’s how it is. … It’s a nuisance to others though, as you say, Miyukare, I guess.” (Alyssa)
Miyukare noticed that the questionable light visible within Alyssa’s resembled that of Hifumi.
“… Then I shall lead my life without regrets as well. I will put in great efforts to live while upholding my pride towards whoever it is.” (Miyukare)
“Right? Even this odd life will undoubtedly be enjoyable.” (Alyssa)
For the soldiers following in the back it didn’t appear as anything but two women calmly chatting, but only the veterans reliably felt the somehow frightening mood they already experienced before.
Hifumi had cuts and burns all over his body. Both his arms and legs were plastered with bruises as well.
And yet, he daringly walked forwards holding the katana with his right hand while the point of the katana and his fore-bangs were dripping with blood. If Origa or Vepar saw that, they might have judged it as lovely appearance.
With his hakama having holes all over, his skin is showing at his sides and the right shoulder.
“No one’s here… no, they are only hiding, huh?” (Hifumi)
Hifumi, who openly entered the castle through the door as if luring them, proceeds onwards while feeling the looks of several people.
Although the owners of those looks aren’t attacking, they are filled with plenty of hostility. They are probably comrades of the lot I killed outside.
“Why are you looking at me quietly? If you want to kill me, you should do so, right?” (Hifumi)
“I’d like you to stop provoking the soldiers.” (Phegor)
It was Phegor who made an appearance in the dark hallway ahead.
The smile he showed during daytime has vanished. His look is piercing in order to not oversee even one of Hifumi’s moves.
“You, eh? Agathion, whom I’ve seen during the day, sent quite the violent greeting. I’d like to thank you for that.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi planned to thank for that honestly, but Phegor took it as sarcasm.
“… Such an insincere remark. You have been invited by the king. Follow me.” (Phegor)
“Are you going to participate as well?” (Hifumi)
“Although the night has been filled with such amusements, isn’t that boring?” Hifumi laughed.
“You are quite calm, human. But, even that will only last until you stand in front of the king.” (Phegor)
Hifumi pondered whether he should kill Phegor who walks while having his back turned towards him, but he thought it’s fun just like it is now. In case Vepar really shirked away from the king’s seat, it might be necessary to place Phegor on the king’s throne instead.
The mental state of Phegor, who walks while stepping firmly on the stone floor with a hard sound resounding, can’t be read from his expression.
His innermost thinking was complicated.
He has absolute trust in the strength of the king. Moreover he has prepared a trap.
For Phegor, who knows the human’s strength to some degree, the appearance of the king is unnecessary. That’s what his honest impression is.
However, the strength of Hifumi, shown in front of the castle’s gate, deviated from the strength Phegor knew of humans.
(If I don’t steal that weapon by all means necessary…) (Phegor)
If that’s the king’s wish, he will throw down his life at any time.
However, I cannot afford to not live up to the king’s expectations.
He properly knows from the footsteps that Hifumi is following him.
Coming out from the not-so-long hallway, Phegor arrived at the targeted place.
Magic lights are shining all over in the cylindrical room which became a hall with up to 3 floors. The swaying lights produced a fairytale-like atmosphere.
“Yea, this is wide.” (Hifumi)
He heard Hifumi’s impression, but Phegor didn’t return any words.
Rather than that, Phegor is worried whether the device will work as intended or not. And, inside the hall, there was also the figure of Agathion who was seated on the throne placed on a platform.
“You did well to come here, Hifumi.” (Agathion)
“It’s still too early for good morning, I guess” Agathion showed a smile, but he doesn’t stand up like he did during the day.
He looks down on Hifumi while leaning on his elbow as if showing that he is the one ruling.
“Yea, thanks to you I was able to spend my time enjoyably. Let me thank you for that.” (Hifumi)
“That’s great. If I hear that, they float up in my mind as well.” (Agathion)
While talking with each other, Hifumi naturally steps forward.
He passed Phegor’s side.
Hifumi wondered whether something would start there, but being disappointed by Phegor as he turns nothing but his look at him, he concentrates on Agathion who is in front of him.
“Since long ago.” (Agathion)
At the time Hifumi came close to the centre of the hall, Agathion began to talk about something.
“Right, a number of our people of a previous generation created a village you can’t even call a nation. After the time they eagerly strived to survive in this barren area, the demons reached the point of using tools and weapons. Until then they we were yet another race that had overwhelmingly powerful magic and physical abilities. In fact that was sufficient for a long time until we were outwitted by the elves.” (Agathion)
“I see. Hearing that the demons from long ago didn’t use weapons, I thought it was a misunderstanding seeing the actual situation here, but now I got it.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi, who stopped, shook the katana he held in his hand.
“But you know, it doesn’t change the fact that the demon’s strength lies in magic. Sometimes those endowed with muscle strength, like Beleth, appear as well, but the powerful magic, we were supported with as special trait since our birth, can’t be copied by other races. It’s our power.” (Agathion)
Standing up, Agathion spread both his hands.
Hifumi looks at him wondering whether he intends to release magic, however he can’s see any sign of that.
“Like humans. Right, just like you. If we have powerful weapons, we will be able to fight properly. However, without relying on that, we are able to fight with just our strength. We are able to use such a powerful magic after all. For example, strong barrier magic like Phegor.” (Agathion)
Hifumi, who expected offensive spells to be hurled at him, looked in the direction of Phegor at those words.
Phegor was simply standing there with both his arms loosely dangling.
However, Hifumi noticed that the sky in his own surrounding had changed.
“This sensation is…” (Hifumi)
He saw a faint membrane gradually surrounding the vicinity.
“Phegor’s barrier magic is the same as what the elves are using to imprison us or even stronger. Originally he isn’t able to extend it to such a degree though.” (Agathion)
“I’m grateful.” (Phegor)
Agathion replied with a generous waving of his hand towards Phegor who bowed his head. And he chuckles as he watches Hifumi who was locked up by the barrier.
“It somehow seems that this weapon was endowed with powerful abilities. However, no matter how sharp it might be, it’s meaningless if it isn’t able to reach its opponent.” (Agathion)
At Agathion’s sign Phegor erased another deployed barrier.
It was the assembly of stones which are usually holding the ceiling with a barrier supporting the hall’s ceiling.
Removing the fixing installations in advance, the stones, which were supported by Phegor’s barrier, begin to crumble while being pulled by gravity.
Naturally large stones are falling one after the other onto Hifumi who looked up at its state from directly below.
While the broken stones are scattering with a thunderous roar and a cloud of dust, the debris is piling up within the cylindrical barrier.
“Powerless, isn’t he? That human.” (Agathion)
Agathion’s laughter mixed with the violently reverberating sound until the last piece fell.