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Chapter 037 – Brethren
Carol was watching the battle between Leonhart and Hunty.
The master and servant were at a plain that was some distance away from the Maou Castle. They could do it in the castle’s courtyard, but they chose to come to this location instead since it would be bad to make a ruckus; such was Leonhart’s judgment.
However, what Carol saw made her think. What the hell is this battle?
It wasn’t because she didn’t understand the reason for their fight. Hunty caught Leonhart’s eyes during the war last month, and he turned her into his apostle so he could fight her regularly. Carol had heard such a reason and she was convinced it was the truth. Also, although she used the word convinced, it wasn’t like she could go against what her master decided to begin with.
However, what she didn’t understand was the idea that Hunty was strong enough to give Leonhart an enjoyable battle.
Indeed, Leonhart fought her last time and had fun doing so. That was a fact, and Carol was happy that her master enjoyed it. She was fine with that.
However, she was still skeptical.
Carol reconfirmed her master’s capability in battle.
Her master was a majin, and not just a normal majin at that. He was a high ranked majin who possessed enough strength to be chosen as one of the Four Elite Majin, and enough wisdom to serve as demon army officer. On top of that, he was kind, popular, cool, loved to fight, yet had an introverted hobby centered around reading, and although he was normally a cool-headed person, he became so enthusiastic in combat, and the gap of those two traits was just—
…Oops, that’s not what I’m supposed to be thinking about right now.
She forced herself to let go of such thoughts. It seemed her train of thought got derailed for a bit.
Anyway, Leonhart’s combat ability as majin was in the top rank among majins.
Against such a person as him, even though Hunty had become an apostle, could she really give him enough enjoyment in their second battle? — Carol had such doubts.
But that was until the battle began.
Hunty disappeared from Carol’s gaze, then reappeared elsewhere.
That was indeed the Instant Movement. Carol saw how Hunty utilized such advanced magic against Leonhart.
As for Leonhart, who had to deal with it, a smile drifted across his face.
Carol puffed her cheek while a hazy feeling buil up inside her.
She continued to feel that way as the battle in front of her was about to be settled.
Leonhart was fighting.
His current opponent was Hunty, the person he’d fought a month ago, and already appointed to fight again now. The battle was started with, as expected, Instant Movement, which she used to go around and attack him with the sword she held.
If that was the case, it wasn’t that different from a month ago. However, there were several things that clearly changed. The reason for the change was, as expected,
…Her basic ability has improved as a side-effect of being turned into an apostle!
Her speed, strength, and physical abilities had improved. He was happy about that.
It was because physical ability, such as muscle strength, was the foundation of combat. Regardless of how skillful one was, one’s attacks wouldn’t be effective if their strength were poor. If the other party’s stamina was so poor that they collapsed after swinging a sword once, then not only were they unable to fight properly, but also he couldn’t even teach them any moves.
Therefore, when teaching others how to fight, the first things to do were to build up their stamina and to thoroughly improve their physique. Without enough power, it was hard to get a proper result.
In fact, the reason why the Demon Army could overwhelm humans was due to the demon’s greater physical ability. Although they differed in their species, most demons have greater physical ability than adult humans, with basic demon soldiers being about twice as strong on average. The difference was even greater for apostles and majin.
This was the reason why the majin was so mighty. Even an average majin could deal with a group of humans without issue. As for high ranked majin, like Camilla and Leonhart, it was even easier for them.
If their opponent was a normal human, they could just punch randomly and the human would still die regardless of where they hit, and they could easily do things like tearing their limbs apart with brute strength. On the contrary, even if a human managed to hit a vital spot on a majin that would normally be a fatal attack on humans, majins would still survive even if they took dozens of blows. Also, while it took some time, the majin possessed greater regeneration speed compared to humans and most other species.
Due to that, Leonhart’s standard for who to consider as a worthy enemy was quite high. It was because most people couldn’t even fight properly against him.
However, Hunty, the person in front of him, was different. Because her physical ability had improved when she turned into an apostle, the difference between them has narrowed. —Was there anything more pleasant than this?
As he became a majin and sought strength, the difference in power grew wider. There were only a few people who could reach his standard, and even fewer people that he could fight satisfactorily.
And now, someone who chased after him has appeared. He forcefully ensured that it would happen, and he didn’t know what would happen in the coming years. The difference of power was still not enough to threaten him, and he was still holding back as he fought her. However,
“As expected… you do have potential.”
“…Thanks for the compliment!”
He praised her future potential in a simple and casual manner, but all he got in response was a sword swing. The emotion and fighting spirit he felt along with the attack felt comfortable to him.
Hunty’s breathing grew labored after several exchanges, but her eyes weren’t dead yet. He could feel her intention to get a solid hit in once he showed any signs of an opening.
And as he thought, there was movement.
The location she phased back into from Instant Movement was to the right of his back. And it was quite close to the armpit as well.
Then she moved to aim at his right hand. Leonhart noticed her goal.
…So she is aiming for my sword!
Indeed, since it wasn’t a deathmatch, the battle would end once either side could no longer move or if one side were to surrender. If his weapon were robbed from him, or struck down from his hand, although he wouldn’t lose by just that, his pride would be wounded greatly. It would be very exciting to do so against a superior opponent. It made him laugh involuntarily.
“It would be shameful for a swordsman if they dropped their sword, you see!”
It was exactly because he quickly noticed her goal that he could trap her instead. Leonhart forced his body to twist. As he rotated to avoid Hunty’s attack,
“! It’s avoi—“
“I got you…!”
He used his empty left hand to grab Hunty’s wrist.
Leonhart was gripping the wrist of Hunty’s right hand.
She was then lifted and hung up by her hand. It seemed he’d seen through her goal of aiming at his weapon, and he reacted immediately. Leonhart turned toward her as he gave her a smirk.
“…Well, you got caught and can’t move anymore, can you?”
Since her arm was caught, she couldn’t escape using Instant Movement. She couldn’t interact with other things when she used Instant Movement. Therefore, Hunty took a short breath then,
“…I give up.”
She casually raised her left arm and declared her surrender. It was the right time to do so. In her current situation, he would be faster than her, regardless of what she did, and he could react accordingly. That’s why it’s over; she intended to show such intention, but,
“…? Hey, can you let me go?”
Leonhart was still holding her arm and keeping her suspended in the air. What’s wrong? Even as she about to ask that, with a nice smile he,
“Well, I don’t mind you surrendering, but… don’t we need a punishment for the loser—?”
Said such a thing.
What do you mean? The moment she thought that,
“I didn’t think of anything for today and I didn’t prepare anything either… I guess I will just clench it hard, but not enough to cause any lasting damage. Okay, let’s—“
He applied the grip strength of a majin to his left arm, causing Hunty immense pain.
“It hhuhuhuhuhuhurrrttttssss!! Wai- that hurts, seriously! This can’t be considered a joke, though…?!”
“Don’t worry, forget being injured, not even a bruise will remain… I already tried it before.”
“Already tried, you say…!”
As Hunty eked out her question in pain, Carol, who was watching the battle, looked off into the distance as she said,
“Ah~ … that really hurts, doesn’t it…? My condolences.”
“No no, this will break it! My bone will break!”
Even as Hunty jerked around in the air in her efforts to struggle, it seemed she was unable to escape, and she continued to be on the receiving end of a punishment where the resistance was useless.
Then a few seconds later, Leonhart’s grip finally loosened, and Hunty was lowered to the ground.
“That hurts… your damn idiotic power…”
Hunty gave Leonhart a resentful glare. Leonhart seemed to treat her gaze as if it was a passing breeze. Well then, he spoke shortly as he sheathed the demonic sword, folded his arms, and then with his usual expression,
“Alright, let’s have a meeting to reflect on this.”
“…Can’t you see your apostle still in pain right now—?”
He said this with a smile, but not only were things progressing too fast for Hunty, but also the way he was treating her was just awful; as such, she also spoke with a smile, even as a vein popped on her forehead, while emphasizing the fact that she was his apostle. Not only did he beat up his own apostle, he immediately punished her, then quickly proceeded to a lecture afterward. No matter what, wasn’t this going a little too far? She wasn’t asking to be spoiled, but she did want a bit of kindness at the very least.
However Leonhart ignored her comment and continued to speak.
“Well then. First off, I was wondering… didn’t your skill with the sword improve a lot compared to last time? It felt completely different.”
Suddenly, the questions she expected were asked and she scratched her head. Although she was wondering whether she should tell him, it was already halfway revealed to him anyway, and she doubted she could keep it a secret since they would keep sparring periodically.
Hunty’s eyelids lowered as she looked at Leonhart.
“…About that, it’s probably because of you, I guess.”
Leonhart didn’t seem to get what she was saying so Hunty told him more plainly about what she meant.
“—It’s because my skill with the sword suddenly improved once I became an apostle. I think it is the influence of being turned into one.”
Leonhart was somehow convinced by Hunty’s words.
The reason for that was clear. It was because he knew of some similar cases.
Leonhart looked back at one such case.
“…Now that I think about it, Carol was suddenly able to use a sword as well.”
“Ah, yes. That’s right.”
Carol obediently confirmed his observation. His first apostle was also the same. He already confirmed it when they went to the dungeon together, so there was no doubt about that.
“Me too… Now that I think about it, my sword skill has also improved when I turned into a majin.”
He thoughtfully placed his hand on his chin as he said that while recalling the memory of when he was turned into a majin, about two hundred years ago. A long time has passed, but he still remembered it since it left such a strong impression.
Hunty was also similarly convinced as she heard that,
“Then it is, as expected, the effect of Leonhart’s blood, huh… it improves one’s skill with a sword — the blood of a sword idiot?”
“…Don’t give it such a nasty name.”
“I’m happy to be able to use the same weapon as Leonhart-sama!”
Carol was the only one who was happy about it without thinking too deeply. But, well, it was only based on what has happened to them until now, and they couldn’t say for sure that was the case; perhaps it was better to not think too deeply about it like Carol.
Also, there was something they needed to be careful of, despite having such talent.
To convey that clearly, Leonhart looked back, not only at Hunty, but at Carol as well. He then spoke with a slightly serious tone and expression.
“Well, that’s fine. However, even if you have talent, do not stop training. Regardless what kind of talent you have, it will become useless if you neglect to train it.”
“…Well, I’ll do what I can.”
The two apostles gave their respective replies. Carol’s responses were energetic as usual, but Hunty’s sounded as if she was dissatisfied even as she reluctantly nodded.
…I guess she has a complicated feeling as her talent with swords grew due to my influence.
Leonhart could guess what Hunty was thinking. He didn’t know how accurate it was, but it shouldn’t be too far off. As expected, Hunty’s feeling as his apostle was still weak. Considering the things that lead up to this, and the fact it was only a month passed since, it couldn’t be helped.
Leonhart thought about it and prepared his next statement. —Perhaps the right time to say it is after the next business has settled.
Hunty would also prefer to deal with it as soon as possible, since she couldn’t avoid it either way. Therefore Leonhart took a bracing breath. Things would be troublesome for her as well.
“Well then, let’s do the reflection meeting as we return.”
“…That’s fine and all, but returning, as expected, means—“
Hunty wore an unpleasant expression as she asked for confirmation. Since she included as expected in her words, she could easily guess what was waiting afterward.
Therefore Leonhart spoke the words she expected.
“Of course, it is to Maou Castle. You still have to meet personally with maou.”
“…Hah, I guess that’s indeed the case…”
As Hunty saw how Leonhart said that with a smile, along with Carol, who thoughtlessly agreed, her expression darkened even as her worries grew.
Then, the three returned to Maou Castle once more.
However, this sentence seemed inaccurate to describe one of them.
—For Hunty Kalar, who has only been there twice by now.
“—So, this is the dining room. Since the demon soldiers that are stationed in the castle also use it, it’s often crowded at lunchtime. But most of the time, other people will be considerate and give you an empty seat. Because of that, it is recommended for the apostles and greater to take their meal in their room.”
“The cooks here are all skillful. They have a desire to improve, perhaps due to their good treatment. It was quite helpful for them to have the initiative to work.”
Hunty replied with a nod. Although she was grateful for Leonhart’s and Carol’s explanations, she couldn’t focus due to other things. The reason was,
…Hah, they’re all staring at me.
The gazes from the demon soldiers who were guarding the surrounding area.
Whether it was because she was a rare kind of demon or because the two people beside her were important, all the gazes around them were focused on her.
To be honest, it made her uncomfortable, so she’d like to get the tour over and done with.
If she’d known it would end up this way, she would’ve stopped Carol when she suggested to Leonhart that they guide her around Maou Castle. She already confirmed it with Leonhart before.
She knew Carol said it out of goodwill so she agreed, but she should have expected that it would turn out this way, so it was clearly her own fault.
Should she just ask her to stop right now? She felt bad for Carol, but she could return home once she finished her business with the maou anyway.
…Yup, let’s do it. Now that I’ve decided—
The moment Hunty was about to speak to Carol who was walking ahead,
“Next is this one!”
“Ah— wait a minute.”
She chased after Carol, who’d rounded the corner of the corridor. What a hectic girl.
Hunty also rounded the corner. At the same time, she heard Carol’s voice.
“—Oh, Camilla-sama. Good day to you… also, I see you’re here Shichisei!”
When she heard a familiar name that Carol mentioned, she felt like a question mark appeared inside her head. But rather than remembering it, it would be faster to see it with her eyes. —Therefore it was unfortunate that Hunty did not notice it.
Around the corner, there was a man and a woman walking as a pair. The man with impressively slitted eyes looked at Carol as he sighed in exhaustion.
“…Hah, Carol. Can you quit, err … treating me as a rival?”
“No! To become the demon realm’s greatest and most perfect apostle, I have to beat you!”
“Then I don’t mind if you just treat— oh.”
The man, who was likely to be Shichisei, moved toward Hunty’s direction. Then he seemed to notice the person behind her and called out.”
“—I see that Leonhart-sama has returned.”
“Hm, Shichisei, huh. Also, Camilla too.”
Leonhart called the name of Shichisei, who’d greeted him, and the name of the woman who was behind Shichisei.
Hunty finally remembered what that name meant. And in the meantime, the woman in the back quietly stepped forward.
The tall woman wore a set of dark clothes.
She wore a dark brown dress. She was almost as tall as Leonhart, but that wasn’t the thing Hunty was most surprised about.
The pair of horns that protruded from her forehead, the pair of large wings on her back, the long ears, all of those things emanated an overwhelming presence as well as indicated that she wasn’t a human. She had platinum blonde hair and neat facial features, with a feminine physique. All in all, it added up to a beauty that was far removed from that of humans.
That woman opened her mouth.
“Leonhart and Carol. Also—“
Her golden eyes reflected Hunty. And then, their eyes met.
Hunty felt her spine freeze.
It was because — she was familiar with her.
This wasn’t limited to Hunty alone. Everyone who belonged to the same race would know about her.
She then stared at Hunty for about five seconds, then,
“—Who, are you?”
An overwhelming pressure built around them as she said that question. And as Hunty felt that, as expected, she thought.
She was a high ranking person from her birth. Although her role was complicated, that fact didn’t change.
And the name of her existence — Hunty remembered it.
She was one of the Four Elite Majin, the platinum dragon majin, Camilla.
She was once her fellow brethren, the Living Crown, who still looked the same as she had in Hunty’s memories.
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