Black Demon King
“Welcome back, Master, Ms. Fiona.”
With [Maximilian] still fully equipped, I went on a shopping date with Fiona. Afterward, we returned to the temple to pick up Sariel, who should’ve been finished with her treatment.
In the quiet waiting room, Sariel sat on a chair all by herself. When she spotted us, she said something unexpected.
“Wait a minute. By ‘Master’, are you referring to me?”
Sariel’s apathetic and straightforward gaze seemed to pierce me.
Is it just my imagination, or was there a strong determination lurking underneath? One without hesitation or regret.
“I don’t think you need to be so formal…”
“I’ve received an oracle to do so.”
What is this, Freesia’s wisdom?
…Come to think of it, didn’t she refer to Mia as ‘Master’?
Perhaps, it was customary for the knights of the Elrod Empire.
“I seem to recall that Kurono Maou likes to be called that.”
What is she talking about? Where did she obtain that kind of information? What’s her basis? I’m not shameless enough to be open about having that kind of preference…
“In the work that was published in the literary club’s magazine, there’s a recurring story featuring a submissive maid girl who’d refer to the protagonist as ‘Master’—”
Maximum magic output!
Crimson lines covered the jet-black surface of my armor as I grabbed a hold of Sariel and peered into her face. For a moment, it was as if I was about to headbutt her.
“I’m seriously begging you, please don’t mention that stuff.”
“…I’m sorry. I didn’t realize it was confidential information.”
“Precisely. It’s top priority, classified information that you mustn’t ever disclose to anyone.”
The battle was concluded. [Maximilian] reverted to standby mode. I placed Sariel on the chair. Softly, gently, as if nothing had happened.
“Kurono, what was that?”
“Something about Literature Club, and a maid who’d call the protagonist ‘Master.’”
“Oh, don’t worry about that. It’s an old story.”
Indeed, it happened a long time ago. Back in high school, I’d mass-produce embarrassing light novels day and night. The phenomenon dated back to as far as… a year ago.
I wouldn’t call it my black history or anything. After all, I cherished all of my works, and had fun writing them. So, I had no regrets. To my past self, writing light novels was my everything.
Regardless, it was embarrassing if I got exposed in public. Not to mention, the other party was from another world. If Fiona called my hobby strange, and said stuff like, ‘I never would’ve guessed, Kurono. Such a turn off.’ I’d sooner just shut myself in [Maximilian] forever.
“Is that so? Well, do you approve of the way she addressed you?”
“Well, if her god told her to do that, it can’t be helped.”
“I see. I shall allow you to refer to Kurono as ‘Master’, Sariel.”
“Thank you, Ms. Fiona.”
Why would Fiona give her permission instead of me? Isn’t it rather strange?
“Then, please call me ‘Mistress.’”
Uh, could it be… Well, the thought did occur, but… Are we dating with the intention of getting married?
I didn’t have any particular objections to that, but—uh… when it was suddenly brought into my attention like this, I couldn’t help but get nervous.
“As expected, it’s amazing. I still want to bask in the feeling of being a lover.”
Fiona entwined her arms around mine, and drew closer to me.
Hey, be careful, Fiona. This gauntlet has thorns on it.
“Sariel, I’ve bought armor for you so that you can move on your own.”
“Thank you, Master.”
“Use your own feet to return home. Don’t make Kurono carry you ever again.”
The way Fiona drove the point home was strict. At the very least, she was still being courteous to a slave? I didn’t know how she drew the line between whether or not to forgive Sariel. Watching the exchange between the two made me uneasy. After all, there was no guarantee that a minor issue wouldn’t escalate into a major argument.
More than Sariel, Fiona’s words and every move terrified me.
Pretending to be calm and safe around her, I took out Sariel’s armor from the [Shadow Gate] for the time being.
The gauntlets and armor, which had been fitted for women, looked much slimmer than the ones worn by the heavy knight during the Gluttony Octo battle. However, since we weren’t going to enter the battlefield, it shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, I bought a relatively cheap one, with little to praise in terms of quality.
“[Violet Flash Blackening]!”
“How is it?”
“There’s no issue with mobility.”
To check her condition, Sariel used her steel, prosthetic leg to stand; waved his right hand, while also clenching and opening her fist. Her movements were so nimble that her limbs appeared to be her own.
If my limbs are missing, will I be able to use [Blackening] to move like her?
To begin with, I hadn’t tried to see if I could replicate the pseudo-lightning attribute. I should do my best so that Sariel wouldn’t end up teaching me about black magic…
“What is your plan after this?”
“Hm, there’s still a little time until sunset, but…”
Frankly, I didn’t feel like going out much today. Not only did I go to the royal caste in the morning for the tense negotiation battle, I also had to partake in a ceremony at the Pandora Temple in the afternoon. Let’s not forget my confrontation with the cursed armor. Physically, I was still fine, but mentally, I was exhausted.
“Let’s finish Sariel’s adventurer registration and go home.”
“Ah, I see, it’d be a good idea for Sariel to do it as well.”
King Leonhardt had personally ordered Sariel to fight in the next battle. As such, it’d be better to register her as an adventurer as soon as possible.
“I never thought that you’d become the fourth member of the [Element Master]…”
When I thought about it, it was actually kind of touching.
“She’ll officially become a member once her rank rises. Until then, she should work solo.”
“Solo? But is that okay?”
The implication was much deeper than that. Even if Sariel had officially been recognized, it wouldn’t be right to suddenly throw her out alone into the outside world.
“Neither Kurono nor I have enough free time to take care of her. We’ll have to prepare for the next battle as well. Maybe this time, we won’t be able to rely on Lily’s strength anymore.”
Certainly, it wasn’t the time to get hyped up with [Maximilian].
Although Sariel was the most ideal human resource in terms of fighting potential, I didn’t trust her as much as Lily.
“She has to earn her own keep, without relying on others. Whether she’s a slave or a knight, Kurono doesn’t have any obligations to feed her.”
“Sure, it’d be better if she could earn her own money…”
Fiona’s argument made a lot of sense. However, I felt slightly uneasy because it sounded as if we were pushing Sariel away.
“Don’t worry. Even if we aren’t watching, someone else will keep an eye on Sariel.”
Sparda’s assassin corps should be lurking around for a while…
I didn’t think it was a good thing, but since the circumstances demanded it, I had to give up on it. Besides, they were professionals. If I didn’t actively search for them, I wouldn’t even realize they were there.
“For now, let’s visit the guild, and if we obtain their permission, let’s have Sariel go on a solo quest. Is that alright?”
“Yes, Master. I have a general understanding of the activities of adventurers. I have no problem fulfilling my mission.”
Still, in the near future, I wanted to team up with Sariel and undertake a subjugation quest that matches our level. After all, I’d like to see for myself, the full extent of her ability after she became accustomed with her body, and fight side by side with her.
Fiona probably wouldn’t appreciate that, but I didn’t think she’d object. The situation wouldn’t allow Sariel and I to go on a quest alone, and I didn’t have the courage to do that either.
“Well then, shall we go?”
“Oh, speaking of which, Kurono, when we receive our bounty, there’s something I want.”
“It’s unusual for Fiona to want something. What is it?”
“I want a house.”
…That isn’t something you can ask so casually, Fiona.
That day, I had trouble falling asleep because I had to spend way more than I expected.
After returning to Sparda, I can’t just rest easy…
—The next day, 7th day of the Month of Pristine Water. Lily still hadn’t returned.
However, for the time being, Sariel’s identity was guaranteed by the Sparda government, and the immediate concern was resolved. When I woke up, I felt somewhat more refreshed than yesterday.
“Good morning, Master.”
After I was finished with my morning preparation, I went to the lounge and was greeted by Sariel, who was dressed in monastic cloth and apron. In her hand was a large round tray, on which hot soup and toast were steaming.
“Good morning, Kurono.”
“Good morning, Fiona, Sariel. Are you awake already?”
“Yes, I wanted to go out.”
Fiona answered while sipping tea, her appearance exuding the elegance of a noble lady. Even more amazing was Sariel, who managed to carry a copious bowl of soup and a plate stacked with toasts so high, I couldn’t count the layers. Even though it may seem a bit extravagant, the way it came all together was quite impressive.
In spite of that, Fiona didn’t spare her a word of thanks, and simply dismissed her. In response, Sariel bowed respectfully and withdrew to the kitchen.
…Am I the only one uncomfortable with this new morning routine?
“I wonder if I’ll ever get used to it…”
Since Sariel was a slave, she was treated like a maid and was entrusted with all the household chores.
For the past three months, I’d been living a normal life with Sariel, so I couldn’t get used to her new position. However, considering my position and situation, I thought that was for the best. For now, Sariel had daily household chores to keep her busy.
“Master, what’d you like for breakfast?”
“The hot soup is fine.”
Come to think of it, it was the first time I’d eaten Sariel’s cooking. I was somewhat worried about the taste, but seeing Fiona calmly eating without being particularly nitpicky, it must be delicious.
“What are your plans for today, Fiona?”
“There are still many things we need, so let’s go shopping. Also, we have to find a good property.”
Is that so? Is it safe to assume that I’d also be going with her?
“I was thinking of showing up to classes, even if just for a little while.”
“Isn’t it time to graduate?”
It’d be lonely, but there was some truth to it. I did attend decent classes, and learned the basics of modern magic and famous martial arts. Of course, those were just theoretical knowledge, and it didn’t mean that I could actually put them to use.
“Yes, I believe that in order to prepare for the next battle, it’s necessary to come up with a different action from what we have done so far. Only two divine protections remain. As such, prioritizing the search for trial monsters might be a good approach.”
It might be a good idea to leave Sparda and search in other countries.
For the time being, the crusaders were repelled, so the situation wasn’t as tense as before. We no longer had to be on the lookout for their attack every day. With some leeway, more time-consuming strategies, which previously weren’t feasible, could be implemented.
“Do you want a house because you want a more solid base?”
“Yes, it seems that we’ll have some time. Like any other witch, I want to have my own workshop so I can take my time to research about magic.”
I see, as expected of Fiona. Apparently, it wasn’t just for some silly reason such as wanting a love nest for us both.
“In that case, please look forward to it. Uh, thanks, Sariel.”
Sariel quietly served me the soup. It seemed like the bacon and leafy greens soup I made the day I returned to Sparda. Assuming that she used the ingredients and seasonings available in the kitchen, it should be safe.
“I’m glad it suits your taste.”
Sariel gave a generic response and didn’t sound particularly happy.
As for the taste, at least it tasted better than what I made, so I was relieved that I could leave the cooking to her.
I considered it lucky that I didn’t have to teach her how to cook from scratch.
Fiona was cold towards Sariel today as well. I earnestly hoped that in the future, she’d soften up rather than me getting used to her harsh attitude.
“Starting today, I plan to let Sariel wander around the town by herself.”
“Eh? She isn’t coming along with us?”
“I don’t think I need to explain why a maid shouldn’t tag along on our date.”
She seems to be in a bit of a bad mood…
“That’s not it. To suddenly allow her to go out…”
“She’s completed her adventurer registration, she’s free to walk around the town, and even venture to a dungeon if she wants to.”
Certainly, Sariel had registered herself as an adventurer yesterday. Even if the guild made an inquiry to the Sparda army, there was no problem since she had permission. An iron guild nameplate could be seen on her monastic robe.
“I’ll give you 300,000 Clans, so I’ll have you prepare the necessary equipment. Also, before I forget, the ingredients for dinner.”
As if having to prepare your own equipment wasn’t difficult enough, she also had to shop for dinner at the same time. As expected, Fiona was harsh.
“…Well, that should be fine. I don’t want to coddle Sariel, either.”
“It’s a rule. Well then, another cup of tea.”
Despite her steel armor, Sariel returned to the kitchen without making any sound. Given that she was there during our conversation, she probably didn’t have any complaints. No, from Sariel’s perspective, she had no say in anything.
“By the way, Kurono, I’d like to do another research today.”
It was unusual for Fiona to bring up the topic about research. When I asked what it was, she fished a book from her pocket.
It was compact in size, but reasonably thick. It seemed like a small dictionary. The binding was made of standard brown leather. At a glance, nothing particularly stood out from it.
“Some kind of magic tome?”
“It’s the Bible.”
I briefly went blank.
However, when Fiona flipped through the book she called the Bible, I found a list of characters that I’d become accustomed to seeing every day until a little while ago.
“’Genesis, Chapter 1, the creation of light—‘”
From there, a multitude of over the top titles lined up in the table of contents—all of them were familiar to me.
I had a similar book stowed in the [Shadow Gate], left by Priest Nicholas. The Bible of the Crusaders. In the country of Sparda, there should only be one of them.
However, Fiona held up the book that shouldn’t have existed in her hand.
“This bible was in the possession of the man who attacked the armor yesterday.”
Apparently, she found it when she was examining a nearby corpse. I was curious about Fiona’s thief skill, and how she casually scavenged corpses, but it didn’t matter right now.
“Are they crusaders’ spies?”
“No, if they were with the Crusaders, they wouldn’t have done such a meaningless and conspicuous act.”
The simple act of owning a Bible should be enough proof that they belonged to the crusaders. However, if they were indeed spies, their attack would’ve been for naught. From their statements during the attack, they seemed to view the existence of ‘curse’ as an evil entity that went against their doctrine. Nevertheless, it was still an extremist act of terrorism, aiming to eliminate it without any room for discussion.
Even if the Crusaders would try to destroy or purify a cursed object in the same way, they wouldn’t do so without thinking.
“Does that mean the Bible itself is circulating in Sparda?”
“Yes, and today’s research is to confirm that.”
Unexpectedly, the presence of a white shadow creeping up on Sparda made me feel cold even after drinking the warm soup.