A wave of energy washed out of Lev Castle.
The High Priest and Holy Knight Modrian locked gazes. The High Priest came to his senses first and nodded solemnly.
“Oh my God… This much magic…? Man, what the heck is happening here? Surely the demon king didn’t descend here, right?”
“Well…” Herald sighed. “To expel this much magic into the human world… It would have to be one of the top 100 at least, perhaps even the demon king himself…”
“Isn’t this too risky for a human?
“We… should go back and get help.”
“It’ll take time for people to get here! If he moves, the whole continent will drown in blood!”
“Look, everyone is affected. These knights are the proud representatives of our Empire!”
“I just mean—” Mondrian noticed the ray of anxiety flashing across the knights’ faces. “Damn it…”
“I understand your concerns, but you must maintain your composure. If the demon lord has indeed descended, we cannot deal with him with just the people here. Valuable lives would be wasted to no avail.”
Modrian grit his teeth. The High Priest may have dressed his words well, but Modrian knew that he was saying that entering the castle was certain death.
“Seiren…?” Mondrian and the High Priest spun around.
“It’s not the demon king.” The veiled lady gently shook her head. “I’m sorry, but you’re mistaken.”
“If it’s not the demon king, then this insane power is—”
“Believe me, it’s not the demon king.” She turned to the High Priest. “And we cannot leave, knowing that Sir Christian is here, can we?”
“First, let’s go inside. Hermes’s guidance led us here, after all. In an emergency, we will leave the bare minimum of soldiers and make haste.”
“Hmm…” The High Priest stifled a groan and nodded. “I am helpless. However, if you feel anything strange, you should leave immediately. God would never want to see your blood spilled in vain in such a place.”
“Then it’s decided. Let’s go inside.”
“Hoohhh…” Mondrian let out a long breath. “Let’s go!”
Joshua’s eyes fluttered open.
“Am I back?” He scanned the area.
Everything was the same. The basement still held its distinctive musty, wet aroma. The paladin was still unconscious.
The only thing that changed was that Joshua had used dark magic.
There was no trace left of Duke Altsma. Maybe it was all just an illusion…
Joshua’s gaze turned inwards. He began to consider the inside of his body. The traces around him—heavily damaged in places—told him that what he saw was not, in fact, an illusion.
This feeling… Joshua’s eyebrow twitched. He discovered an unknown force lingering in his body.
[Congratulations, bud! You’ve made a great subordinate!]
Joshua’s eyes blinked open.
[Death knights are completely subservient to their caster. Short of totally destroying their armor, they cannot be permanently killed until the sorcerer dies, halting the flow of magical energy.]
[As soon as the connection between the caster and the death knight is severed, the death knight should be instantly destroyed. But the caster isn’t dead. Transferring ownership should be impossible. This feat is only possible because of my magnificent self!]
Lugia sounded downright smug.
“Then… is he completely obedient to me?”
[The death knight’s caster isn’t nearby. Or at the very least, I sense no presence here.”
“The caster isn’t here?”
[If a top-tier monster like a death knight is almost destroyed, the caster will suffer tremendous psychological shock unless they’re using a direct pact with a demon. What this implies is—]
“Keep prattling and I’ll put you in the subspace.” Joshua scowled.
Lugia was shocked into silence, but only for a moment.
[Hmpf. How long do you think that I can be cowed by this threat? You are a brutish, contemptible human.]
Joshua silently lifted his hand.
[Nuh-uh. No. Put your hand back or your fingernails will fall out and turn floppy. Just do it and I’ll stay silent.]
“I don’t have time for this.” Irritation flashed across Joshua’s face.
If the Lich Heinz, presumably the sorcerer in question, was not here, Joshua needed to change his plan. He’d originally wanted to save Ash’s family from Heinz, but, with the root of the issue gone, it would be alright to postpone that for a bit.
Ash’s work could wait until he got back to Arcadia from Reinhardt. He’d have to visit Reinhardt just to get updated information.
Besides the Moon Gate, I can’t postpone the trip to Reinhardt. There’s too many influential people gathering there. I have no alternative except to wrap up the current situation as fast as possible…
[So it means that the caster is mad. I already said it, but regardless of what anyone else believes, that means that the death knight is entirely under your command, driven only by your magic.]
That was one less thing to worry about, then.
[Do you feel good?]
“I made a vow.”
Lugia’s counter question made Joshua think seriously again.
1That symbol… The carving on the basement entrance was probably made by the fallen Holy Knight. Given that he came from Hubalt, not Avalon, the images were rather simplistic: two bulging horns atop of an inverted triangle—the universal depiction of a dragon’s head—and above it, a star inside a circle.
At first glance, Joshua thought it was a magic circle. That was how everyone on the continent would depict it. But a magic circle over a dragon’s head? Magic and dragons were intrinsically bound together, but not in a way that was relevant to the situation.
Hubalt found magic even more distasteful than Avalon. Those of the Holy Empire regarded it as heresy against the divine intent. The rarity of magical swordsmen and the difficulty of controlling divine power and mana at the same time reinforced their beliefs.
So they don’t use magic circles. That leaves one possibility.
There was one item common to the Hubalt Empire that resembled that design: Hubalt’s native coinage.
Money—or rather, gold. Combine the two symbols and you get a golden dragon.
You would be a fool to consider dragons in an abstract context. After all, golden dragons were surprisingly abundant in Igrant.
“The crest of the Avalon empire…!”
That sent him on another train of thought.
The triangle—the wizard’s hat. The “1” numeral obviously meant “first.” Lastly, the cross on the head… It wasn’t misshapen—it was deliberately inverted.
The gold dragon signified the Imperial family of Avalon. The wizard’s hat, marked with the number 1, signified the chief wizard. An inverted cross signified heretics.
Putting it all together…
The chief wizard of Avalon is a black magician.
That meant that Duke Altsma was not turned into a death knight by the lich.
The robed man who appeared at the end of Duke Altsma’s memories—given that they were in the heart of the Swallow Empire, Evergrant should not have been anywhere near there.
I was too young to know about Heinz and Berbers’s activity in my past life, so I’ve been working off of historical documents. But I was relying on them too much. Joshua’s eyes fell.
If the Imperial family had intentionally altered those documents to say that the lich never set foot on the continent after the Eastern Massacre…
God’s revelation, conveyed to the High Priest of Hubalt, was undeniable. Heinz, contractor of Asmodeus, was in the continent.
So the question was why the Imperial family of Avalon wanted to conceal the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of its citizens.
[You have to think about something that simple for so long?]
Joshua frowned skeptically.
[Do you think you can wield the power of a demon strong enough to be the demon king—with no strings attached?]
[If it were that simple, I would have signed a contract with a dog or a cow just as easily as a demon king. The power you receive depends on the entity you contract with.
[In order to fully harness a demon’s power, you need a sacrificial offering. A blood sacrifice.]
[For a demon as powerful as Asmodeus, you would need at least tens of thousands of humans.]
The original text doesn’t explain how he went from vows→Christian’s doodles. It’s weird. ↩️
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