Arifureta - Chapter 153
Devil King's Invitation
Surely there were easily a few hundred bodies there. They covered the whole field of vision, a large number of monsters and Nointo. And then, Freed Bagua and Nakamura Eri seemed to be followed by the rest.
The two of them cracked jokes perhaps as an expression of their composure. After giving a backward glance at Kouki and the others, they were at a loss of words from the shock. Hajime narrowed his eyes dangerously. The string of his killing intent had been pulled until just before it snapped, what was left was only releasing the arrow of a sure kill.
Although Freed and his group should have been feeling the abnormal pressure of such a Hajime on their skin, even now, their composure didn't break. There was one reason. Because they were surrounded by 'the apostles of the true god' who had the exact same appearance as the current Kaori.
Inside his heart, 'As expected how unpleasant. What a bunch that are like cockroaches.' Hajime spat out that curse, but Kaori had the same appearance with the Nointo and twitched with a start, perhaps from a woman's instinct. Hajime quietly averted his thinking to search for a way to annihilate the enemy.
Previously, a mortal combat unfolded when Hajime faced one Nointo, but in the present, the spec of his body and weapons were raised using sublimation magic, so if it was one on one he should be able to finish Nointo without even using 'Limit Break'. He didn't feel like he'd lose even if he had to take on a large number of them at the same time.
Hajime exchanged glances with Yue and the others at his side for an instant. Now, when they were just about to release their killing intent to follow the saying of 'victory goes to the one who makes the first move'. As though to beat them to the punch, Freed opened his mouth once more.
’’Don't be so rash. Right now, I don't have the intention of indulging myself in killing each other with you. Though I greatly wished for you to grovel on the ground and beg for your life.’’
’’Hee, then, what are you coming for? I thought that you fell to despair toward the incompetent god who can only throw a tantrum and decided on suicide, though?’’
Hearing Hajime's ridiculing tone, Freed's eyebrows twitched in reaction.
What Hajime said as 'incompetent god' was, of course, referring to the god Ehito. With Nointo's presence here, Hajime's conjecture previously――that Ehito didn't differentiate the race, that he was the god of every race and how they all were his toy. And then, the god that the devil race worshiped was perhaps Ehito himself falsifying his name or possibly Ehito's underling――seemed to be spot on.
And for how much Freed understood about that truth...
’’... I won't be provoked by that. This too is for the command my lord bestowed to me. I am merely executing that command.’’
’’Is that so. And? Loyal dog Freed, what kind of present(command) you got?’’
’’... My generous lord will shut his eyes even toward the shameless acts of all of you. He is inviting you to his castle. We are the greeting for that. This impossible fortune for you to be able to have an audience with that honored person. You can tremble on your legs with excitement.’’
Freed's state showed quietness that they had never seen until now. It was unclear what he was thinking. While putting on a particularly expressionless face, Freed informed them of his words using a voice without intonation. Hearing Freed like that, Hajime unintentionally leaked out a taken aback voice. In various meanings, there was a lot of points that he could retort at. Even Yue and the others at his side sent Freed doubtful gazes.
’’That Ehito guy or Aruv something is a god, right? Why is he in a castle, huh?’’
Anyway, for the time being, Hajime asked about the most questionable thing. Toward that, Freed answered that question with a bland tone, however as though to show what an extremely great honor it was, he spread both his arms like an actor standing on the stage.
’’Aruv-sama is certainly a god――he is the retainer of Ehito-sama... but at the same time, he is also the king of us the devil race――he is also the devil king. He manifested from the divine world into this dirty world, passing through a long time, he handed down guidance to us the devil race for the sake of a great objective.’’
It appeared the true identity of the devil king was the god itself that was called as 'Aruv-sama'. Also, the truth how the devil king=Aruv-sama seemed to be a hidden matter that was known only to the extremely limited number of people. Freed was expressing joy that couldn't be hidden was sure because he was included in that really small number of people. From his way of speaking, it seemed he knew it only very recently, though...
’’... Great objective, huh. Then, how much the devil race is being made to dance I wonder.’’
’’What are you saying?’’
’’No? I'm praising the devil king-sama here just how awesome he is yeah.’’ (TN: The way they call the devil king here is using maou. But sometimes Hajime is also called using that word maou, so I'm using devil king to call this king of the devil race while to refer Hajime I'll use demon king.)
Freed who was sharp-eared noticed Hajime's murmur, but he was responded with a shrug and frivolous reply, as expected he got irritated and his temple twitched convulsively.
But, there with a tone even more frivolous than Hajime, Eri opened her mouth feeling that the situation was troublesome.
’’Hey, Freed. Don't just keep prattling on and on, finish it quickly. After all, I want to quickly pass a sweet time with Kouki-kun seee.’’
’’... I know.’’
It appeared that Freed was not thinking really well of Eri, he clicked his tongue while fixing his collar as though to gather himself. And then just when he was about to speak of something, this time the desperate voice that Suzu raised interrupted him.
’’Eri-! Suzu is-... that-, with Eri-’’
’’Hm? Whaaat, Suzu? You are carefree like usual huh... not, you don't seem to be like that I guess? What? I wonder if you want to vent your pent-up feelings? Well, if you want to cry then you can just cry as you like, can't you? For me, it doesn't matter thoughhh’’
’’Yo, you are wrong-. Suzu is just, wanting to speak with Eri one more time!’’
Eri looked down while chuckling at Suzu with her hand waving as though to drive away a dog, to that Suzu spoke desperately while her words got choppy. However, her words couldn't be formed skillfully in this too sudden reunion with the one she wanted to reunite with.
To such Suzu, as though to show that she didn't have interest Eri averted her gaze. Seeing that Kouki finally returned to his senses and asked regarding Eri's bizarre appearance with a hoarse voice.
’’E, Eri... that appearance, what's with that?’’
Eri who was talked by Kouki showed a full smile that was different compared to when she talked with Suzu. Although it was a warped smile that made one felt faint coldness somewhere in it.
’’Kouki-kun! How is it? It's lovely, right? You see, Maou-sama gives me a new power seeee. Because even though I just want to live sweetly with just Kouki-kun only the two of us, there are a lot of shitheads that become a hindrance even for just such a meager wish. It's fine! The trash that bothers Kouki-kun, allll of them will be cleaned up by me okayyy! We are going to live together just the two of us foorever and eeeeeeever okayy’’
Eri cackled while rotating in circles in the air with feverish tone and expression plain to see. The gray wings growing on her back that wasn't even black or white, giving off a dirty impression, were flapping together with Eri's motion, scattering grey feathers everywhere. The grey feathers dancing down in flutters fell on the ground, and then the touched spot was instantly disintegrated.
Without any doubt that was the same disintegration ability like Nointo.
’’Don't tell me, just like Kaori... no, that's Eri's body... you were given only the ability?’’
Shizuku who was glaring silently at Eri frowned while considering the situation.
But, before she could obtain the answer, *gyaki!* an ominous sound resounded. It was the sound of Hajime's partner got readied which everyone had heard so many times.
’’Anyway, it's okay to slaughter them all right?’’
’’... Nn. There is no reason to accept the invitation.’’
’’Blow them away and finish this desuu!’’
’’... As expected, with this many people having the same face lined up, even though I understand they are not me it's still eerie.’’
’’But, their way of inviting art too poor. To be this manner less, they hath to be chastised just a bit.’’
At the same time Yue, Shia, Kaori, and Tio, the four of them were also showing intent to attack. Yue and Tio raised their hand straight up, Shia shouldered her Doryukken, and Kaori spread her silver wings with a flap.
Hajime's killing intent was naturally directed at Eri too. Her grating cackling voice in the ear and ugly warped expression were getting on his nerve's. The wish of Suzu was in a corner of his head, so thinking that at the very least he was going to pulverize her four limbs, he aimed the muzzle of Donner. Schlag was aimed at Freed.
But, just before the triggers were pulled, something silver was generated in front of Eri and Freed like a shield. In front of the dubious Hajime and others, the silver thing had noise ran through and warped like jelly for a moment before it projected the scenery of somewhere.
A space magic. 'Hermit Mirror' ――a magic to project in space the scenery of the faraway place.
What was projected in the hermit mirror were several impressive pillars standing, red carpet spread on the floor in a large hall. From there the camera changed its viewpoint and the image moved.
What they could begin to see was a place like an altar with a throne put there. As expected the projected place was a castle ――furthermore it was likely the audience hall of the devil king castle. High ceiling, various beautiful design, and furnishings that were created in detail, all those projected the dignity of the devil king across the screen. The image further moved toward the side of the throne.
And then what began to appear was a large cage made from dark gray metal wrapped in shining reddish black magic power. Naturally, something was imprisoned inside it...
Dirty word reflexively flew out from Hajime's mouth. At the same time, Yue and others also made an expression that seemed like they were chewing a hundred bitter bugs. The people who were especially greatly shaken were as expected Kouki and others in the group summoned from an alternate world.
Kaori and Shizuku yelled with tone colored by uneasiness.
Correct, just as the two said, the cage inside the image was imprisoning their classmates, Aiko, and then princess Liliana who were supposed to be in the Hairihi kingdom.
AIko and Liliana were among the students where most of them were hugging their knees with uneasy expression, they were desperately nursing several students who were powerlessly lying down. Looking carefully, those collapsed students seemed to be the party member of Nagayama. Other than them, even a member of Ai-chan guard party Tamai Atsushi was also crouching with expression distorted in pain although she was not as bad as Nagayama's party.
Hajime immediately took out the 'Compass of Guidance' and searched for Aiko's whereabouts.
’’Chih, they are the real thing...’’
’’Hou, you have a really interesting item huh, young man. For a probing artifact, I'm feeling a really strong power from it. Can you ascertain the whereabouts of your important comrades with that?’’
The compass was pointing at a point to the south continent. It showed that Aiko was undoubtedly at the devil king castle of the devil race. Hajime who was convinced that it wasn't a faked image clicked his tongue, Freed who was showing interest at the compass was the first time since they arrived here that he was obviously displaying his emotion. In his words, there was a lot of sense of superiority put there.
From Hajime's attitude, Kaori and others also guessed that the image on the screen was the real thing and their expression turned bitter. And then in this kind of time, the first one to howl was Kouki. Kouki raised his voice in rage.
’’You coward-! What invitation with you taking our comrades hostage-! Return everyone right now-!’’
’’Ahahah, as expected from Kouki-kun! You are straightforwardly kind aren't youuu. You are so serious even for those trashes, I'm falling in love with you all over againnn’’
’’Eri, don't screw around. There is nothing for you by doing this kind of thing! Return back everyone, you too also come back to us!’’
’’Aaahn, you said come back to meee. Are you planning to kill me in agony?’’
’’Kufufu, wait a bit -kayy. Sooon, I will make Kouki-kun into only my Kouki-kun okayyy’’
Kouki's yell didn't reach Eri at all. In a glance, it looked like a conversation but it wasn't one at all. For Eri 'the Kouki inside Eri' was something fixed. Only Kouki who was convenient for herself was her Kouki. That distortedness seemed to have become even worse even compared to the betrayal of that day.
Kouki who understood that his words didn't reach gritted his teeth while his gaze returned at Freed. And then the moment when he was about to argue further,
A familiar gunshot interrupted him. Two streaks of crimson flashes soared straight at Freed and Eri. The flashes were going to instantly blast a part of Eri's body and Freed's skull, however, two Nointo cut in with afterimage left behind them and blocked the bullets with their large sword.
Different from before, a large crack entered the large sword with one attack, if there was one more shot the sword would break but it didn't change the fact that the attack was stopped, Hajime who irritatedly scowled was going to pull the triggers further.
’’Do, don't! Wait! Please, wait, Nagumo-kun...’’
The one who hindered that was Suzu. Her small body reached straight at Hajime's arm in a tackle. Hajime didn't even twitch with something like Suzu's weight, but looking at her dangling on his arm with desperate expression and voice averted Hajime's attention for a moment.
In that opening even while trickling with cold sweat, Freed barely kept his expression unchanging and opened his mouth.
’’... This madman. Are you not valuing the lives of your comrades?’’
’’Hah, you forgot already how I blew away your prided comrades before this in the same situation? Obediently following you will only get us all killed anyway. After all, your self-proclaimed god seems to desire to look at my painful death, isn't it?’’
’’You are saying, that in that case, you will survive just by yourself even by abandoning your comrades?’’
’’Don't make me say this repeatedly. Those guys aren't my comrade or anything. Besides...’’
Fearless smile and beastly glaring eyes were directed at Freed. Toward Freed who instinctively took a step back on the back of the white dragon Uranos, Hajime declared as though to say that his words were exactly the common sense of this world,
’’Even if I accepted the invitation after slaughtering you all, there won't be any problem, right?’’
Incidentally, if it was an invitation to the devil king castle then they would need one or two presents, Hajime laughed while making a gesture of slitting his neck. Everyone understood that he was saying he was going to bring the heads of Freed and others as the present. Kouki and others made shuddering expression thinking that the way of thinking of this guy was exactly that of a devil king.
Hearing that really arrogant way of talking, also feeling rage toward himself for stepping back even slightly toward such Hajime, Freed's expression distorted for an instant although he immediately smoothed over his face and lifted the corner of his lips with a scoff.
’’How high-spirited. In front of this many apostle-sama I cannot think of you as sane but... on this occasion, how about I put out one more card.’’
Giving a glance at the doubtful Hajime, Freed changed the viewpoint of the screen that projected Aiko and others. It seemed that besides the cage imprisoning Aiko and others, there was one more cage. It had the same built, but that cage which was quite small sized was something to imprison one or two people.
And then, the moment the people imprisoned inside there was projected,
Sound vanished from the world.
An abnormal killing intent to the degree that made everyone hallucinated like that was covering the whole area in the surrounding.
Those who could recognize that sound vanished were those in the classification as a strong person. After all the killing intent――or possibly it should be called as demonic intent already, against the torrent of that terrifying presence, in order for their instinct as a living thing to preserve their mind, the monsters that were Freed's subordinates immediately had their consciousness shutdown and fainted.
Even Suzu who was clinging to Hajime's arm felt that her consciousness was going far away while flopping down on the ground, she bit hard on her lips and somehow maintained her consciousness with that pain.
’’-――-――yo, you bastard, don't you care, about what's going to happen to that fish imitations-’’
Freed was putting his awareness at his breathing that felt like it would stop anytime while giving off warning with warped expression. He already didn't have any leisure to dress up any calmness.
'Fish imitation'――the two silhouettes that Freed called like that as well as the reason that drastically changed Hajime's presence were... Myuu and Remia.
At the center of the cage, the two were tightly hugging each other to confirm each other's existence. They couldn't hide their uneasy expressions, but even so, they stout-heartedly observed the surrounding without showing a tear.
Hajime had made preparation before they left Erisen so that not even the smallest chance could hurt Myuu and Remia. Artifact to isolate and hide the presences of the two and a detection artifact to warn Hajime in the case enemy appeared were left there. Barrier artifacts to buy time were also set at the city of Erisen and Myuu's house. Hajime didn't spend six days there just for show.
But, none of those was effective and Myuu and Remia were kidnapped. The preposterous strength of Hajime's artifacts and his bond with Myuu, without knowing those two things this was something impossible to happen, It was also something that no one would even think to carry out, to begin with.
In other words, there was only one person who could arrive at such idea and kidnapped the two with the perfect setup.
Hajime's gaze slowly flowed at Eri piercingly.
A presence that penetratingly invaded until the depth of the mind was crawling all over Eri's skin. Eri's body was shuddering with chills, his body temperature that was rapidly lowering naturally made her breathing disordered.
Afer Hajime pierced such Eri with his gaze for a few moments, his gaze moved quietly as though she was just a stone at the roadside. Immediately, Eri staggered in the air as though she was just released from a binding.
Regardless of being the source of the inhuman demonic intent, as though it was just a lie, Hajime's eyes turned calm and even looked sleepy, that mismatched strange gaze moved at Freed once more. And then, his mouth opened with a calm voice as expected.
’’... I'll accept the invitation.’’
With the demonic intent still gushing out without change, the words that were let out from Hajime's mouth made Freed's expression turned bewildered.
’’... I said that I'm accepting the invitation. Lead us on quickly.’’
’’-... Hmph, you should say that right from the beginning.’’
At the same time with the repeated words, the demonic intent was gradually settling down. Even while breathing in disarray, Freed made a sneer with an expression that recovered his calmness. Like that he jolted awake the fainted swarm of gray dragons with metamorphosis magic while beginning to chant the spell to open the gate toward the devil king castle.
While giving a glance at Eri besides Freed who was similarly drenched with a large amount of sweat while breathing roughly and Kouki and others who were released from their stiffened body, Yue tilted her head while looking up at Hajime.
’’... Is it fine?’’
’’... Yeah. If we know the place then we can use crystal key to connecting the space, but the time lag is too long. Besides, the other side should know too that we are in possession of space transfer power.’’
’’Perhaps, they have to make a countermeasure, aren't they?’’
’’It's troubling that there is the worst case. Unlike sensei-dono and others, Myuu and Remia art not able to buy the time to compensate for that time lag with their own strength after all.’’
Just as Tio said, if they felt like it they could use crystal key and the compass and teleported accurately to the devil king castle where Aiko and others were captured.
But, because it was a concept magic there would be time lag created no matter what until the magic was invoked, for the enemy side who knew that Hajime and co possessed space magic, it was unthinkable that they would miss that opening time lag.
Even so, if it was just Aiko and others, they were a cheat group so perhaps they would be able to endure and pull through that time lag using their spec. For that reason, Hajime chose an annihilation battle tactic before, but Myuu and Remia whose fighting strength was nonexistence... in addition, they were courteously entered into another cage then the story was different.
Thinking about the worst case, Hajime wanted to refrain from the forceful method.
’’... Now, I'll guide you to the location of our lord. Don't worry, if you don't make any mistake then surely you will be able to touch those half-assed living things once more. Although it's hard to understand just what is good for those filthy living things.’’
Freed completed the gate and at the other side of the connected space, there were a large terrace and townscape below visible. It appeared that they didn't teleport directly at the audience hall where Aiko and others were at, the gate was opened at the outside of the upper level of the castle.
Most likely the inside of the castle had a barrier spread to forbid intrusion. Even if it was an ally there was no doubt that they would be unable to directly teleport in. Thinking about the defense of the devil king castle that was only natural measure.
Freed's expression became disappointed looking at Hajime who proceeded to the gate while ignoring all of Freed's mocking words, then he seemed to notice something and opened his mouth.
’’That's right. Young man, before moving on let's have you take off your weapons.’’
Toward Hajime who was merely returning a silent gaze, Freed finally couldn't hide his joy from standing in a superior position and repeated his words with sneer mixed in them.
’’Are you listening? I told you to quickly take off your weapons. Aa, also, let's have you wear this shackle to seal your magic power.’’
The shackle that looked like handcuff was taken out with clinking sound, it greatly resembled the one that was once put on Aiko and Kouki and others. Even though Freed dressed up this as an invitation, yet the treatment was completely like a prisoner.
Perhaps because there was the threat of hostage, Freed sneered understanding that. He had the air like a religious fanatic since before this, but until now he didn't seem like someone with petty personality. Perhaps the repeated defeat had distorted his personality. Possibly there was something after the invasion of the royal capital that deepened the degree of his fanaticism and he lost all restrain...
In any case, Hajime's reply was decided.
’’... What did you say?’’
’’Don't make me say it the second time. I said I refuse.’’
Those words of Hajime without any enthusiasm made Freed's expression turned taken aback for a moment, but in the next moment, he directed a gaze as though he was looking at something that was hard to understand.
’’... Are you unable to understand your position? You all have no right to refuse. If you don't stay quiet and follow what you are told, that ugly mother and daughter――’’ ’’Don't get carried away.’’ ’’-... What did you say?’’
The clichéd speech that was threatening to harm Myuu and Remia if Hajime didn't obey was interrupted in the middle and Freed raised his eyes, a calm voice then reached him.
’’Do you think if you take Myuu and Remia hostage, then everything of me is sealed? Understand this. The card you used, is a double-edged sword.’’
’’Double-edged sword... you say’’
From Hajime, there wasn't any demonic intent or even killing intent like before. Far from that, he didn't even let out a speck of magic power, naturally, he also wasn't using 'Coercion'.
Nevertheless, when they noticed the white dragon Uranos had slightly backed away, even Freed himself who was riding on its back noticed how his hand was trembling in small shivers. Just what in the world... without even any time to question that, Hajime's words were spoken.
As always, it was a calm voice without a drop of anger or hate that could be felt from it, it was like the robotic voice of Nointo, but without regarding ally or enemy the voice was accompanied with reverberation that caused gooseflesh on the back.
’’The reason that all of you are still alive is also thanks to Myuu and Remia. ... Just try putting even a single wound at the two of them. ... Children, woman, old man, noble or the poor, there won't be any distinction, the race called as the devil... I'll make them extinct.’’
Freed gulped. Surrounded by hundreds of 'the apostles of true god' at the surrounding, and his lord was a living god, he should have rejected Hajime's words as impossible and merely a nonsense that would bring no problem at all. But, he felt a strange power that was hard to comprehend in that toneless voice and even for just a moment the thinking of 'he might be able to do it' flashed in his mind.
’’I don't know what is your objective that you do something like inviting us, but I have no intention to ride into enemy's main base bare handed. After all, like that perhaps everything will be over without us unable to do anything. Rather than falling into a situation like that, rampaging around in sink or swim is still better.’’
’’... You are saying you are abandoning those mother and daughter?’’
’’I'm not abandoning them. However, I'm only thinking that losing my weapons here will be related to abandoning them.’’
A scene that often appeared in the story was one where the main characters had hostage taken and they threw away their weapon just like they were told, but Hajime didn't choose that. He thought that it was out of the question for the helping side to be made powerless for the sake of temporary safety. Like that would only cause everyone to be done in at the end.
Therefore, in that kind of time, Hajime would choose to annihilate the opponent even if the hostage wouldn't come out of it with all their limbs intact. As long as the hostage alive then they could be healed. Then the way to kill the opponent with certainty was rational. The intense preparedness that wouldn't submit to irrationality inside Hajime made him like that.
Of course, that was something awfully misaligned from common sense, in some way that choice could also be called as wrongdoing. After all the maximum consideration and carefulness were demanded in the liberation of the hostage. Normally it was unthinkable to think that it would be okay as long as the hostage didn't die.
Not to mention if it was about someone that was an extremely important existence for themselves, it was normal for someone to hesitate and threw away their logic and belief.
’’... As expected, you are mad.’’
Therefore, the feeling that Freed harbored was such thing. Just when he took the initiative as the attacker and stood in the superior position, the opponent would abandon their base and came attacking instead. Furthermore, the basis of that action was which one would be able to annihilate their opponent first, it was a chicken race like that. Indeed, it couldn't be helped that Freed doubted Hajime's sanity.
Although in this case there was a lot of bluffing factor included inside Hajime's words. For Hajime, he didn't think for even a little bit of wishing Myuu to be wounded. If possible, he wanted to take her back unharmed. For that reason, as much as possible he wouldn't tolerate being separated from his weapons.
Therefore, he caused the opponent to have the impression of 'I don't know what he will do if he is poorly cornered too much' and tried to forcefully keep his card. Hajime had already shown a portion of that impression in front of Freed so Hajime thought that the possibility he could have his way was high. But for argument's sake, he was also thinking about what to do in the case that this was no good.
’’Then, while that madman is still not lining up a lump of woman and children meat of your fellow race in front of you, quickly take us in front of Myuu's location.’’
Freed couldn't answer. He understood that Hajime wouldn't yield, but to take an enemy in front of his lord while they were still armed was something hard to be pardoned as a pious servant.
Speaking the truth, the devil king Aruv told him to use the hostage to bring them to him, but he didn't give any instruction to Freed regarding the details like weapon or binding. Aruv wouldn't mind it even if Hajime was armed.
In other words, the demand for disarmament was Freed's own decision using his common sense, but as expected honestly nodding at Hajime's demand was a cause for hesitation.
There a Nointo, the 'apostle of the true god' who didn't say a word until now cut in.
’’... Freed. Stop this unproductive matter. That person won't mind this kind of triviality. Rather he will even think that this will be a good entertainment. Also, as long as we are standing by, there is not even the slightest chance he can do anything. The binding for the irregular is enough with the very existences of us.’’
Giving a glance at Freed who was still balking, Nointo faced Hajime with exactly the same voice and expression like when she faced him before.
’’My name is called 'Ahat'. Irregular, the analyze of the data of your battle with Nointo is already finished. Don't think that you can win the battle with us for the second time.’’
'Therefore, if you want to bring weapon then just bring it', it seemed that she was implicitly telling him that. Looking carefully, the 'apostle of true god' with the same appearance like Nointo introducing herself as Ahat, her eyes looked slightly shaking. Perhaps it was just his feeling, but to Hajime, it was something that looked like hostility or perhaps hatred.
'Don't think that you can win the battle with us for the second time'――those words weren't something from a simple doll, perhaps it was filled with more intense emotion.
But such thing didn't matter for Hajime. And so, he quietly turned his gaze away and headed toward the gate with cold eyes. It was clear that he was telling them to hurry and guide him.
Freed scowled at that arrogant attitude, but with the addition of the pressing from Ahat, he shook his head in annoyance and slipped through the gate.
Hajime and others followed from behind.
At that time, the only one who noticed Hajime's hand shining for an instance was only Yue who was beside him.
The large terrace that the gate was connected to had the space almost as big as a school rooftop, even with all of them stepping into there was still some space left. Nevertheless, that was also only after the gray dragons and the majority of the apostles flew to the sky.
The gray dragons flew up right after they came out, the apostles also went away somewhere leaving behind only ten of them. The ones remaining surrounded Hajime and others alertly.
At the same time with the gate behind them closing, Freed silently pointed his chin to urge them to follow him. Hajime also followed him silently.
’’Kouki-kun, that monster was terrifying you knowww, console meee’’
’’E, Eri-, you...’’
Right after they began to walk, Eri took Kouki's arm and she hugged him while beginning to prattle about such jests. Even though she had betrayed them and now she was taking their classmates, hostages, again, she didn't look apologetic at all and grinned widely while pressing her body close at Kouki.
She didn't even give attention to Shizuku and others around her. She also completely ignored Suzu who called her. Shizuku and Ryutaro were directing gazes overflowing with wariness, but they didn't try to stop her. They judged that right now it was better to not quarrel imprudently.
Eri was glued at Kouki, her mouth approached his ear, her breath was blowing into his ear and she whispered something with a face that looked like in heat, looking at her like that it was unbearable but even Kouki himself, he was thinking about his classmates and didn't forcibly shake her off.
Like that they walked through the long corridor made from stone crossing several corners, and then at the place they reached there was a large door filled to the brim with the dignity that was worthy of an entrance that was connected to the audience room of the devil king castle. Perhaps to show the authority there was a globe that appeared to be symbolizing the sun, a design that depicted several pillars of light pouring down from that sun was engraved there.
Freed sent a sign at the devil race standing in front of the door with his gaze. Thereupon that devil race quietly held his hand at a part of the door, right after that a heavy sound reverberated and the door opened to the left and right.
Behind the door, the scenery that Freed displayed using 'Hermit Mirror' spread out, ahead of the red carpet they could see a spot that looked like an altar and an extravagant throne. Just like the image, at the side of the throne, there should be cages set behind the large pillar.
Repressing their hot-blooded heart, they approached toward the empty throne. And a scenery exactly like the image they saw was there.
It appeared that the figures of Hajime and others were also visible from the other side. The classmates opened their eyes wide, Aiko and Liliana who also noticed the door opened also gulped loudly in surprise.
The two's expression was slightly clouded seeing how Hajime and others were surrounded by apostles, but looking at Hajime whose corner of the mouth lifted up in a smile for the first time since coming here, the two began to get teary eyes from deep emotion. And then, when they were just about to call Hajime's name with a maidenly expression that was obviously filled with special feeling...
The mother and daughter Myuu and Remia preceded them. And then, putting aside Myuu's 'papa', just what was with Remia's 'dear'? Such dangerous gazes from the two which contained that question went back and forth from Remia and Hajime.
Ignoring the two who were unable to know about time and place? Hajime's eyes gently slackened.
’’Myuu, Remia. Sorry, you two got dragged into this. Wait there. I'll get you two out immediately.’’
’’Papa... Myuu is fine. I waited believing in papa. That's why don't lose to the bad people!’’
’’My my, Myuu... Hajime-san. We are fine so please be careful.’’
Even though she was unable to hide her unease, but the moment Hajime appeared Myuu made a full smile and felt relief from the bottom of their heart. Looking at such Myuu, Remia also was concerned in an 180 to Hajime's calm atmosphere.
Freed was about to open his mouth to warn so they didn't make a racket as the pleased, but just before he could do that a voice resounded from behind the throne.
’’No matter what age, it still looks beautiful, the bond between parent and child. I understand because I also have experienced it. Although in my case, it was a relation between a niece and uncle you see.’’
The wall behind the throne slid open. From there who came out was a golden haired and crimson eyed good looking man. His age was past middle-aged. He was wearing jet black clothes and mantle with good quality and golden embroidery worked on the, and his hairstyle was all back. Several strands of his blonde hair that were dangling forward and his slightly opened shirt on his chest were strangely drafting off se* appeal.
Although what he drafted off wasn't only se* appeal. He also gave off the presence of youthful strength and the weight of a veteran. There was constant charisma in him that attracted those watching him. In all probability, this must be the devil king. And then, this was the guy introducing himself as the god 'Aruv-sama'.
Hajime wordlessly narrowed his eyes at the devil king that appeared while smiling gently. And then he was about to open his mouth but similar like Freed someone beat him to the punch. However, that wasn't by the devil king ahead of his gaze, but it was by the shell-shocked voice at his side.
’’... Li, es... how can...’’
Yes, not even noticing at Hajime's call, she was leaking out a hoarse voice as though seeing something impossible with a greatly shaken state, it was Yue. Her eyes were opened wide, piercing straight at the devil king.
Hajime was about to call once more at Yue whose state was obviously abnormal, but then he was attacked by a strange déjàvu. Yue's golden hair and crimson eyes. Those were...
’’Yaa, Aleytia (・・・). It has been a long time, isn't it? As always, you are so small and cute.’’
The words said to Yue by the devil king that interrupted Hajime's thought, those were filled by the affection that was really unthinkable for a first meeting. There, Hajime also noticed. The appearance of the devil king, compared to her beloved lover had a similarity somewhere.
Hajime murmured 'Don't tell me' inside his heart. That conjecture which he couldn't put into word was proved as correct by a word of Yue.
’’... Oji-sama...’’ (TN: Oji=uncle)