Ovation for this holy knight!
Editor: Striker, Ulti
Darkness boldly stood in front of the door to the Demon King’s room, sword in hand.
Behind her was Mitsurugi, and after him followed the Spearwoman, the Thief girl, then Yunyun, Aqua, and Megumin.
──First, Darkness would charge into the room and use her Decoy skill to divert any attacks from the Demon King and his bodyguards.
While Darkness is drawing their attention, Mitsurugi and Yunyun will be our main damage dealers to take out the enemies.
The Spearwoman would act as rear guard to take out any enemies who got close, and the Thief girl would provide support.
Aqua would heal anyone who got wounded, and I managed to convince Megumin who had pushed her magic to the limit today, to stay in the back as our trump card.
If I determine that the Demon King’s attacks are too strong for even Darkness to handle, Yunyun and I will teleport us all away.
The ideal situation would be for Mitsurugi and Yunyun to take him out while Darkness is still up.
But if it becomes a battle of attrition──
“You are really underhanded, you know? Between our duel and that sneak attack you pulled off earlier, I’m starting to think that you just hate a head-on fight. You’ve been boasting about how you beat me to the four corners of the world, so it’ll reflect badly on me if you keep using such underhanded methods…”
I blended into the shadows as Mitsurugi lectured me.
“This isn’t underhanded, I’m just being prudent. Plus, there are fights that are worth taking even if I end up getting branded as a devious lowlife. After all, this battle would decide the fate of humanity…!”
I threw away the cumbersome armour and placed my bow and sword with the strange name on my back before drawing the magic sword from my waist.
──If it starts to become a battle of attrition, I’ll sneak into the room with the Lurk skill some time after everyone else went in, make my way over to the Demon King, and backstab him like I did with the goat-headed man from before.
“…Kazuma is saying all that, but he’s been pretty underhanded in all the battles we’ve fought so far, hasn’t he?”
“Shh! You shouldn’t say that, Aqua! He’s acting cool just before the battle with the Demon King!”
“Yeah, don’t press him on that. What will we do if he throws a tantrum and teleports home without us?”
Those three girls whispered from behind my back.
It’s really making me consider just teleporting back home…
“Everyone, please listen to me.”
Mitsurugi suddenly turned towards everyone else.
“…It’s been hard fighting making it this far. What awaits us is a battle that will decide the fate of humanity…”
As Mitsurugi started his speech, Aqua pulled on my sleeve.
“Kazuma-san, Kazuma-san, are we really doing this? After everything, we have gotten a little stronger, so we can just earn money the usual way. Defeating the Demon King to get rich in one shot doesn’t seem like you, as cowardly and cautious as you are.”
It sounded like she was making fun of me, but her uneasy expression told me that she was genuinely worried.
“…Who exactly was the one who said all that stuff about defeating the Demon King in the first place? I’m giving you a good telling off once we get home.”
Yeah, I held my tongue until now because of the various emergencies, but I’ll definitely scold her until she cries when we return.
“At the end of the day, you do want to go back to Heaven, right? Then, let us defeat the Demon King, gain the right to go back to Heaven whenever you want, then live your life happily after that. Putting on a brave front here or forcing yourself to go on is a death flag, so just do things normally. Especially you, you often do stuff that triggers death flags, so be careful.”
I thought back to those words Aqua said to me on the night she ran away from home.
“Kazuma, I think I had enough, so let’s go home. I miss Emperor Zell too, so let’s go home. I can enjoy a glass of delicious wine while letting your lectures wash over me, so… Let’s go home?”
I wanted to tell her not to just ignore our lectures, but now is not the time for that.
“…I want to go home.”
I can never forget how Aqua looked when she said those words while looking at the moon.
“Oh shut up! Even if you are fine with it, I’m not! If I don’t make it such that I can return you to Heaven at any time, it’s really going to weigh on me if anything happens!”
“What do you mean by return, you tsundere NEET!? Can’t you be honest for once in your life!?”
I pushed Aqua away to prevent her from strangling me. While we were doing that, Mitsurugi and his two hanger-ons seemed to be in high spirits.
“Fio, Clemea, there’s no need to be tense. Even if we lose here, we can always get stronger and come back for another go. I know the two of you are getting worried about plateauing and sneaking out to various places to train… Thank you for sticking by me all this time. Let’s defeat the Demon King and go home together!”
…Seems like Mitsurugi has concluded his speech.
The Spearwoman and the Thief girl were looking up at him with sparkling eyes, thoroughly moved by his speech. I wonder exactly what he said to them.
Come to think of it, which one of them is Fio and which one is Clemea again?
No, now is not the time for that.
“Hey, Aqua, you know the plan, right? The moment someone dies, we’ll retrieve the body and teleport out immediately. Don’t go out there and revive them on instinct, you hear? If you get downed while reviving someone, we’ll all be done for. Don’t revive them until we teleport to a safe place. You got that?”
As long as she stays alive, no matter how bad the situation gets, we’ll be able to recover from it.
The issue is if Aqua, who almost instinctively heals the injured and dead on sight, would heed my words…
“You don’t need to tell me that over and over again. Just trust me… But, Kazuma, I have a really bad feeling about this. And not just the usual bad feeling about you dying like a lemming, but something that can’t be reversed…”
“You idiot, don’t say any more! Why do you like hoisting death flags so much!? Just listen to me for once in your life. No matter who dies, don’t go out in front. Just support us from somewhere safe. As long as you are alive, we’ll be able to pull through as long as we have the bodies. Do you understand?”
I repeated, and Aqua nodded her head.
She’s always been bad at following instructions, but it should be fine after I’ve said this much.
“Looks like you’re done with your conversation… Now, It’s my turn. First off, I’m giving you back some of the stones, Kazuma. Just in case.”
Saying that, Megumin gave me five pieces of manatite from the rucksack that she’s been protectively carrying all this while.
Then, she turned to Yunyun and pulled out one more piece.
“Wow, what a huge manatite…! Are you really giving it to me? Megumin? H-Hey, Megumin? If you are giving it to me then let go already!”
Even though she offered the manatite to Yunyun, Megumin kept a firm grip on the gem.
“This is a really precious item that I got from Kazuma, so make sure to take good care of it. Only use it at the most critical of moments, you hear? This is something he gave to me, after all!”
“Okay, I get it. I get that you’re happy that you got a gift! You don’t need to boast about it this much! I’ll take good care of it!”
Yunyun stared at the large chunk of manatite she received with mesmerized eyes.
Aqua looked at the two of them with an expectant gaze.
“Hey, Megumin, what about me?”
“You don’t need it, do you? I’ve been together with you for a long time now, and I’ve never once seen you run out of mana… Ah, what are you doing!? This is very important to me! Besides, even if I gave you one, you’ll just hold on to it to sell later!”
Ignoring the two of them as they started fighting over the manatite, I stuck the pieces I was given in my pocket and hid in the shadows.
I activated my Enemy Detection skill, and immediately I received numerous signals from behind the door.
…I see. I did find it strange why the knights didn’t all gather in the same room to benefit from the Demon King’s buffs, but it seems like the reason they didn’t do that was because the room was already stuffed full to bursting and they couldn’t fit anyone else in.
…Just then, Darkness came up to me, giving me a bright smile despite this situation.
“Hey, Kazuma, do you remember the time I joined this party? You said ‘Darkness, we might look this way now, but we’re serious about taking down the Demon King.’ I never expected that to become a reality…”
…I can’t believe she remembered something that took place such a long time ago.
“Don’t say that. Reminiscing at a time like this is a death flag, you know? If you have to say something, talk about something happier to give me the motivation to see this through. Say, for instance, that I’ll be able to create a harem after defeating the Demon King in order to ensure that the blood of the Hero is spread as far as possible.”
“E-Even at a time like this, you are… No, this is more like you… Wait, after you defeat the Demon King? Defeat the Demon King…!”
Darkness gave me a wry smile, before suddenly letting out a scream like she just remembered something.
“Aaaaah!? Hey, Kazuma, do you still have that ring on you!? You know, the one that you stole from Iris-sama when you snuck into the castle way back then!?”
“Stop, Mitsurugi is here, you know!? Why are you bringing it up now!?”
“N-No, I can’t ignore that. You snuck into the castle and stole something from Iris-sama…?”
Mitsurugi, who was making preparations behind Darkness, frowned at me. It seems like he heard the entire conversation.
“Nevermind that! Most importantly, the ring! You didn’t lose it, did you!?”
“I didn’t lose it! It’s kept safely back in the mansion, right next to my precious porn magazines!”
It’s my sister’s precious ring after all. I kept it in my strongbox so I wouldn’t ever lose track of it.
“Por─! Don’t put the royal ring together with your porn books! Look, let someone else deal the finishing blow to the Demon King! …No, it’d be troublesome if Mitsurugi deals the finishing blow too… Argh, just let me have the head of the Demon King!”
“What are you rambling about all of a sudden!? Do you really want achievements so badly!? You always act like you have no interest in money, but you’re finally letting your greed show, you piss-poor noble!”
“I’m not doing this for such a stupid reason! As long as it isn’t you or Mitsurugi, I don’t care who deals the final blow!”
Just then, Megumin, who had been listening to our conversation, raised her hand.
“Then, let me take the title of the Demon King Slayer.”
“Megumin, don’t make things more complicated than they already are! You can’t use Explosion magic in that room in the first place! And it’d be a problem for you too if Kazuma defeats the Demon King! Aqua, you say something to him, too!”
“I’m more concerned about your armour than that, Darkness. I don’t know why you’re wearing such an evil-looking armour, but to my eyes, that armour is definitely cursed. I can remove the curse for you, but it is possible that the armour will vanish when I do that…”
Darkness grabbed Aqua who started chanting a spell and gagged her in order to prevent her from uncursing her armour.
It’s right before the final battle, but what is with this complete lack of tension?
“If you guys can kill the Demon King without me having to assassinate him, that’d be fine by me. More importantly, do you understand what you’re getting into? As far as I know, your magic resistance and physical defence is the highest in Axel. If you can’t withstand his attacks, then nobody will be able to defeat him.”
If both Aqua’s healing and Darkness’s high defensive capabilities are unable to defend against the Demon King’s onslaught, then we have no choice but to abandon a frontal attack and resort to Megumin’s long-range bombardment.
And that would only work if the Demon King decides to stay inside the castle even after his barrier has been taken down.
──Just then, Darkness tapped on my chest with her fist and gave me a smile.
“I’m fairly hapless in anything else, but you can rely on me when it comes to defence.”
She’s a modest person at heart, so it’s rare to see her say such a thing.
Up till now, she’s always kept a fairly low profile, quietly acting as our shield and staying out of the spotlight.
If she would normally act like this instead of getting excited all the time or losing her top, she would have been perfect.
“I’ve always wanted to be a knight, but I never thought that I would be able realize my dream of getting ravaged by the Demon King… Kazuma, thank you.”
“Give me back the feelings of gratitude I just had for you.”
Aqua, Megumin, and now Darkness too, even at the very end, these guys are…
After Aqua cast her buffs on everyone, we shared a glance and nodded.
──And Darkness kicked down the door!
“Demon King! Prepare yo─”
The moment the door was opened, countless bolts of dark lightning flew towards Darkness.
I couldn’t help but let out a gasp upon seeing this scene.
This is the same spell that Wiz used to blow a hole in the stomach of a dragon.
After taking a barrage of the very same spell head on, Darkness shuddered for a moment, before…
“Damned cowards who attack without even showing your faces! Is this what a Demon King does!? Name yourselves!”
Even while smoke was still leaking from her armour, she charged straight into the room──!
…Those spells she just ate would’ve definitely vapourized anyone else…
As I was marveling at just how tough Darkness is from my hiding spot behind the door, my companions rushed in one after the other.
Yunyun started chanting a spell, and a deep voice that made my chest feel tight the moment I heard it boomed from the room──
“Pardon my subordinates for their rudeness! Indeed, you do have a point. Intruders who have rampaged through my castle, I know not if you are heroes or mere fools, but this battle shall render that clear… Now, show me your power─”
The owner of that deep voice let out a scream.
The person who cast that spell just now must have been Yunyun. I could feel the heat from under the small gap underneath the door.
“Hey, Yunyun, I thought I told you to save that manatite for the most critical of moments! How could you make use of it right at the start of the battle!?”
Following that was Megumin’s angry voice.
It seems like she used the top grade manatite to deliver a most powerful opening blow.
This doesn’t seem like the kind of thing Yunyun would do. She must have been poisoned by a certain devil or perhaps some delinquent thug.
“…Crimson Demons, huh. As bold as usual…”
“S-Sorry! But a friend of mine asked me to ‘Go hunt down that damned annoying Demon King and give him a good few blows in our place’, so…!”
And this is the precise moment the honour student falls off her perch.
“My name is Yunyun! I’m an Archmage and wielder of Advanced Magic. As the foremost mage of the Crimson Demons and the future chief, I will show you the true power of the Crimson Demons!”
“Thinking about it, the Crimson Demons have caused me no end of trouble… Very well, show me what the future chief of the Crimson Demons is capable of!”
Amazing. The battles with the Demon King’s generals can’t even compare to this.
This is the Fantasy that I wanted, the decisive battle against the Demon King──!
“What’s with that cool act!? Normally you’re too shy to even name yourself! And you used the Manatite I gave you just for this entrance!?”
“Ow-ow-ow, what are you doing at a time like this!? Megumin, cut it out!”
I can’t see them from here, but I get the general idea of what’s going on.
Really, what the hell are you doing at a time like this?
Just then, the voices of several monsters roared in unison, drowning out the proceedings.
Darkness yelled out a skill of her own, almost as if in direct challenge.
“Let’s go, Demon King!”
Mitsurugi’s overzealous voice came next, followed shortly by the sounds of a swordfight.
The sound of spells getting thrown about and Darkness’s maniacal laughter, no doubt influenced by her armour, soon joined the cacophony.
After such noises persisted for who knows how long, I heard Megumin’s urgent voice break through.
“Darkness, you’re pushing yourself too much! You need to reduce the power of your Decoy skill!”
It seems like she’s been taking the enemy attacks all by herself.
But the stubborn woman who once refused to bow before the Winter Shogun himself would definitely not back down now.
This battle looks to be becoming a long one.
The number of enemies I detected hasn’t gone down at all, so at this rate it’s only a matter of time before Darkness goes down.
There were about ten enemies inside, the same as the amount of knights we faced just a short while ago.
If it weren’t for the Demon King boosting their power, we should have no issues taking them on.
──In other words, all I have to do is take care of the Demon King, and this battle will resolve itself!
My time has finally come.
It’s fine, this is a low-risk operation. It’ll definitely work!
I activated my Lurk skill and snuck into the room that is now filled with the sounds of battle.
I draped my cloak over my body and slowly made my way through.
It might seem as stupid as a child hiding under his bedsheets, but under such conditions, my skill would be usable as long as I stick to the shadows and press myself against the wall.
I thought back to the time when Chris taught me this skill.
She crawled into a barrel right in front of my eyes and told me it was the Lurk skill.
Creeping along the wall, I peeked through my cloak and saw Darkness standing right in the middle of the enemy.
She couldn’t land any of her attacks as usual, but the way she was vigorously swinging her sword around in wide arcs is causing most of her opponents to keep their distance…
Her Decoy skill directed all the underling’s attacks towards her, but even though she’s repeatedly taken hits from creatures boosted by the Demon King’s buffs, she still stands resolute and shows no sign of faltering.
“What is with this girl!? Is she a lump of iron or something!?”
One of the Demon King’s guards shouted in frustration.
Taking a glance around, three of them were dressed in long flowing robes and were most likely spellcasters, while four others were dressed in heavy plate armour.
There was also a gigantic, horned ogre-like creature, and a creature that looked like the Grim Reaper itself, a floating skeleton with a scythe in one hand clad in a frayed, black robe.
──And right at the far end of the room is a man giving out commands and directing the battle.
I couldn’t see his face clearly from here, but he must be the Demon King.
…And with him lies the chance for victory.
He doesn’t seem to be wearing any armour, so all I need to do is work my way around and attack him in the back.
I slowly crept forward──!
“What are you trying to do?”
Before I knew it, the Grim Reaper-looking guy was right in front of me.
Hey, what happened to my Lurk skill?
The Grim Reaper raised his scythe.
Aqua’s voice called to me.
I threw my cloak away and tried to draw my sword, but the Grim Reaper’s scythe bore down, and my vision drew ever closer to the ground──
I remembered what Aqua said when we delved into a dungeon together.
The Lurk skill doesn’t work on undead creatures.
When I came to, I could feel a spell being cast on me.
This place is the usual white room.
It seems like I got my head cut off yet again.
…I dumbfoundedly got to my feet.
“…What are you doing, Eris-sama?”
Eris responded by casting another spell on me.
I wonder what is going on. I did get Aqua to cast her buffs on me earlier, but I could feel Eris’s buffs taking effect on me too. I guess it really is true that spells of different sects stack with each other.
“Umm, Eris-sama, why are you casting spells on me?”
“Resist! …So you can return to battle the moment Senpai revives you.”
Eris answered while casting yet another spell on me.
…No, no, wait, wait.
“Give me a break, Eris-sama. I already failed. I didn’t even consider the possibility of there being undead in the room… And here I thought it was a really good plan, too.”
Saying that, I flopped onto the ground.
It worked without issues on Mammon, so I thought it’d work out fine here too…
No matter how lucky I am, there’s no way everything would just fall into place for me.
Dammit, the death flag that Aqua raised with her bad feeling really did come true for me.
I’m going to go complain to her about it when I get back.
“What are you saying? The battle has only just begun. Even as we speak, everyone is fighting with the Demon King… True, we are at a disadvantage, but… Ah! Darkness’s Decoy skill just ran out! Mitsu…? …Rugi-san is surrounded by enemies! …Oh, good, Yunyun just blew them away with Tornado.”
Eris stared off into the distance, intermittently giving me updates on what’s going on below, but I really wish she’d stop saying things that only made my heart ache now that I’m unable to contribute.
“We had a plan, the moment someone dies we’re calling it off. We’ll retrieve the body and teleport out immediately. Aren’t they getting ready to retreat?”
Eris tilted her head in confusion.
“No, they haven’t given up yet. If anything, Yunyun-san is getting fired up by Megumin-san’s encouragements. She’s saying ‘My lifelong friend and rival, help me avenge Kazuma!’ and waving her staff around in anger. Even now she looks ready to unleash Explosion in such a cramped room. And Darkness is off saying disturbing things like ‘I’ll kill you’ repeatedly…”
C-Cut it out, Megumin, don’t blow your top here…
And Darkness is supposed to be a young lady from a good family, so why is she so short-tempered?
I was wondering why they didn’t retreat, but, well, the one who died was me, after all.
If it was Yunyun, Darkness, or Mitsurugi who went down, we would’ve taken a huge hit to our combat ability and everyone would have no choice but to retreat. But it’s rare to have a shot at taking down the Demon King, so I suppose they aren’t willing to throw in the towel so easily.
If the situation really does become serious, I’m sure everyone would run away.
…Though I’m worried that they’ll forget the plan and just leave my body there…
N-No, it’ll be fine. They’ll definitely remember to retrieve my body. Right?
Eris gave me a smile as I began to get nervous.
“Now, it might seem a little harsh, but I’ll have to send you back out there. This is the first time I’ve broken a rule because of my own selfishness rather than at Senpai’s insistence, so I’m a little nervous, but…”
She says that, but she clearly looks excited.
“No, no, that’s impossible, Eris-sama. From what you told me earlier, Mitsurugi is having a tough time, right? What do you expect me to do by throwing me into a battle like that? I have the weakest class and have absolutely no cheats at all, you know? Actually, I have to ask, does Backstab and poison even work on the Demon King? I mean, in most games, instant death attacks and status effects like poison don’t work on final bosses.”
“…I doubt poison will work on the Demon King. Most likely, instant death attacks wouldn’t work either…”
Eris gave me a bitter smile.
So a surprise attack wouldn’t work anyway.
“Then there’s nothing I can do. My stats are also far lower than everyone else out there. The only thing I have going for me is my high luck… I don’t mean to complain too much, but don’t you think I’ve already done more than enough after being dealt such a crappy hand? Not that I mean to boast, but…”
Eris listened to my whining with a gentle smile.
“I was sent to another world with only the clothes on my back, and immediately, I had to sleep in a stable and perform hard manual labour when I lived my entire life in a modern house as a shut-in. And along with having to bail out my troublesome companions, I somehow ended up racking a huge debt that forced me to pick fights with strong opponents just to clear them. And even after that, trouble would come knocking at my door one after the other…”
My goodness, even at a time like this, I can’t help but whine and complain.
All those unpleasant memories came rising to the forefront.
“I don’t think it’s asking too much to get some kind of reward for all the troubles I’ve gone through. Come to think of it, I think my personality has twisted for the worse ever since I came to this world. I was never an upstanding specimen of humanity to begin with, but… I feel like I’ve gotten even worse since I came here…”
Eris quietly listened to my monologue.
After a short pause, she let out a chuckle and said.
“But, it was fun, wasn’t it?”
…That’s so unfair.
“…Well, I can’t deny that.”
Eris gave me a proud smile.
…Big Boss is really cute.
“It’d be really sad for Kazuma-san to be the only one who retired while everyone else has yet to give up, wouldn’t it? So I’ll make it such that you can jump right back into battle the moment Senpai brings you back.”
──I’m grateful for that sentiment, but…
“That wouldn’t happen. I’ve already told that idiot countless times not to move forward no matter what happens or who dies out there.”
“All the magic you’ve cast on me would go to waste.”
Eris confidently nodded in response to my mutterings.
“…Is that so? Then, I’ll continue. Haste!”
And continued as before like she never heard my words at all. Are all goddesses this bad at listening to others?
Just as that thought flashed through my head.
A voice that should never be heard in this situation echoed through the room──
──That was the voice of Aqua, who still refused to listen to a word I say right up till the very end.
What is that idiot doing, charging out to retrieve my body even while a fierce battle is raging round her?
If she dies, no one else will be able to get revived. Does she not understand that?
I even told her not to go out in front so many times.
And she’s so scared of the Demon King, too.
“Kazuma-san, we are really in a pinch, in more than one way. Megumin has started chanting Explosion Magic!”
I couldn’t help but bolt straight up after hearing the tidings of danger that Aqua brought.
Then, I turned to Eris, who seemed to be genuinely enjoying this.
“…Why does she never listen to what others say?”
“But that part of Senpai is a little cute, isn’t it?”
It’s not the slightest bit cute at all, and when I get back, I’ll definitely scold her until she cries.
Eris looked down at me, and in the most joyful manner I’ve ever heard her, said,
“Kazuma-san, you’re smiling, you know?”
…Well, I’m at a loss.
She’s wilful and easily caught off guard when she was Big Boss, but she is able to effortlessly grasp people’s hearts when she’s a goddess.
Plus, I can’t deny that I’m smiling.
──I stood up and slapped myself on the cheeks to refresh myself.
“Seriously, just who does that idiot think I am? Still, I’m surprised she managed to revive me in the middle of a pitched battle.”
While saying that, I walked towards the gate that led back to the world below.
“I’m sure it’s because Darkness is still holding out against the Demon King and all his guards by herself. Fufu, even the Demon King and his personal guards are taken aback by Darkness’s toughness. I really wish I could show you his dumbfounded expression.”
Eris laughed cheekily.
That’s only to be expected. Our prized Crusader is hard, after all.
She’s not only the hardest in Axel, but also the entire world.
I told myself that even Darkness is putting her life on the line in order to motivate myself, but I couldn’t help but let out a sigh when I think about the opponent I’m going to fight.
“The Demon King, huh…”
It really is a fierce battle against the final boss.
Why do I always end up facing down impossibly strong enemies?
Once again, I question if my luck is really that good.
I turned around in front of the gate, and saw Eris clasping her hands in front of her chest in anticipation..
“…Just so we’re clear, I don’t have any plans right now. I won’t roll over and wait to die, but even if I go back there, I don’t think I’ll make much of a difference.”
At my wavering words, Eris gave me a serious look and said.
“Then, I’ll give you one piece of advice. Right now, Senpai is on the other side. It may be difficult for you to believe, but Senpai is still a powerful goddess. She’s strong enough to be able to seal away the Demon King’s abilities for a short period.”
“Eh, really!? It’s like she’s a true goddess!…But, wait, she never said a word about that.”
“…S-She must have forgotten about it…”
…Is she really a goddess?
But she did once threaten to put a seal on my lower half that can never be broken by human hands.
And she also put a seal on the necklace divine relic that Iris had before Chris was able to steal it from her, right?
Then, perhaps this might actually work…
“…Oh, but, wait, the Demon King’s most fearsome ability is to raise the stats of nearby monsters. Will that ability be suppressed too?”
“That won’t happen. Her seal would only reduce the Demon King’s physical abilities, like his strength, physical defence and magic resistance. But there lies the true hint. Kazuma, you can use Teleport, right?”
…Oh, I get it!
“Once his magic resistance has been reduced to the point where even my spells can work on him, I can teleport him to Axel’s police station! Then I can have every adventurer in town surround him and beat him to a pulp!”
“N-No, you can’t do that! Right now, a small detachment of the Demon King’s army is attacking Axel! They are holding out pretty well for now, but if the Demon King shows up over there, the entire detachment will be strengthened and the town would fall in the blink of an eye!”
Dammit. Come to think of it, there was talk about a raid on the town…
“Then, what should I do…?”
Eris raised a finger.
“You registered the deepest part of the dungeon as one of your teleport points, didn’t you?”
And said, her voice full of anticipation like a little kid planning a prank.
──Oh, I get it!
“I see, I can send him to the deepest part of the dungeon and leave him to die! It’s a little dark, Eris-sama, but it’s definitely a good plan.”
“No, no, that’s not it! That place might be crawling with monsters, but the Demon King would be able to easily bend them to his will, and he’d stroll back out within a day… So I need you to do me a favour, Kazuma-san…”
I have a really bad feeling about this.
“Can you defeat the Demon King for me in a one-on-one duel?”
I’m starting to think that this girl is even more unreasonable than Aqua.
“No, no, no, no, that’s definitely impossible. If we really want this to work, it’d be better to send Yunyun, Aqua, and Mitsurugi to the dungeon along with the Demon King. Yunyun and Mitsurugi can take him down while being supported by Aqua’s buffs, and then Yunyun can teleport them all back. It’d have a far better chance of success than having me fight him one on one.”
Eris shook her head.
“In the first place, the Demon King can use Teleport too. If he were sent there under such circumstances, he would simply teleport back to the castle.”
“If that’s the case, wouldn’t he do the same even if I teleport him to the dungeon by myself?”
In response to my question, Eris gave me a smile.
“Fighting with brave adventurers and dying magnificently is also part of the job of being a Demon King. If he were to run away from a lone adventurer, he wouldn’t be able to call himself a Demon King anymore.”
…I feel like I heard something like that before.
I think it was when I was in that dungeon together with Vanir and Wiz.
Clashing magnificently with a band of valiant adventurers, before magnificently exiting the stage. That’s what a Demon King is, or something like that.
“B-But… Then, how about sending Mitsurugi and the Demon King alone instead? He seems like he genuinely wants to become a hero.”
…I’m ashamed to say this, but he’s definitely stronger than me in a straight fight.
“That would be unlikely to work. Mitsurugi can only use a sword, so I doubt he would be able to best the King of the demons inside a dark dungeon… But if it was you, with your mastery of various skills and ability to adapt to any situation, there might be a chance. Plus…”
Her eyes sparkled and she put both hands on her chest.
“Plus, for a single, powerless young man with the Weakest Class to defeat the Demon King… Wouldn’t that be far cooler!?”
I wonder what came over her.
Still, she does go down to the world to act as a righteous thief, so she might be the kind of person who likes these kinds of hot-blooded developments that often show up in manga and anime and such.
…Then, almost as if to encourage me,
Aqua’s half sobbing voice suddenly burst into the room, interrupting our serious conversation.
“…Seriously, she usually only sees me as a joke, so why does she always come running to me for help whenever things start getting serious?”
Saying that, I resolved myself to face down the Demon King.
“That’s definitely because Senpai trusts you… You really are a tsundere, Assistant-kun. Despite complaining so much, you are soft when it comes to Senpai.”
The smile Eris gave me wasn’t the serious and dignified one of a goddess, but the prank-loving one that often appears on the face of a certain friend of mine.
“You really are cute, Big Boss. After I defeat the Demon King, will you marry me?”
“That’s fine. Please break the news to Megumin-san and Darkness, Assistant-kun.”
Eris said with a smirk. Perhaps she’s getting used to my teasing.
“Seriously? Then I’ll do my best! I’ll go tell Megumin and Darkness that I’m marrying Chris!”
“S-Sorry, please don’t do that! The two of them will definitely get angry with me! It’s just a little joke, so please forgive me!”
Guess not. Despite looking serious and capable, Big boss still has quite a few weak points.
As I enjoyed her flustered state with a grin, Aqua’s voice once again broke into the room.
…She always gets in the way whenever things start going well. I’m starting to wonder if she’s interrupting me on purpose.
I’ll definitely tell her off when I get back.
“Currently, the capital and the town of Axel is under attack by the Demon King’s army.”
As Eris said that, she snapped her fingers, and the white gates before me slowly opened.
“In Axel, the adventurers that you’ve laughed, fought, and drunk together with are battling against a small detachment of the Demon King’s army, while at the capital, the Royal Knights led by the King himself, the adventurers from Japan, and the elite forces of the Crimson Demons are engaged in fierce combat against the bulk of the Demon King’s army──”
She said such with a serious face, but suddenly broke into a smile.
“And the brave young maiden who looks up to you as her brother, the chosen of the divine relic Aigis, is currently about to engage the Demon King’s daughter in a decisive battle with the support of a certain Axis cultist and Megumin’s Crimson Demon friends.”
I couldn’t help but turn back at this shocking revelation.
I don’t know what the exact situation is, but is it really so serious that Iris herself needs to take the field?
No, wait, what even is the situation in the first place? How did Aigis and Iris meet, and how did that armour agree to let Iris wear him? Leaving the Axis cultist aside, Megumin’s Crimson Demon friends could only mean her classmates, right?
“It’s a law of this world that, when a Demon King is crowned, the monsters of the world will slowly become stronger. Conversely, when the Demon King is vanquished, the monsters will gradually grow weaker… Kazuma-san, you understand what I’m trying to say, right?”
It’s really unfair to tell me that now, Big Boss.
Now that I know about this, I have no other option but to defeat the Demon King.
…No, she’s only telling me this because I’m already motivated to see it through.
Seriously, it would’ve been much easier to convince me if you’ve told me this from the very start. She really is too kind.
“Telling me that just made me more motivated. Even my sister is giving her all, so I’ll give everyone a hand by taking down the Demon King.”
──Just as I was about to step through the gate, Eris called out to me.
“Before you go back into the world, Assistant-kun, let me give you one final parting gift.”
It seems like her work as a Goddess is done.
My friend, Chris, extended both hands towards me.
I already had a load of buffs on me, but against the Demon King, I’ll take every advantage I can get.
“When it comes to this spell, I’m confident I won’t lose out to anyone! In the name of the Goddess of Fortune, I grant you the greatest of all blessings! Blessing!”
After receiving her gift, I can now say I am as prepared as I can.
My luck is already high to begin with, but now it’s been boosted to the stratosphere. My motivation soars similarly.
──I can do this.
With both Aqua’s and Chris’s spells upon me, I’m at my peak.
…That’s when that idiot who could never read the mood sent out yet another series of urgent messages, almost as if she wanted to be a wet blanket──
“Kazuma-san! Kazuma-san! Hurry up and come over! Hurry up!”
Chris and I traded a smile, after which, I shouted into the void.
“You really are helpleeeeeeesss!”
Seeing me shout, Chris joined in with some words of her own,
“Now, go forth…”
With the voice of a goddess, my Big Boss, and a dear friend of mine at my back──
“And defeat the Demon King!”
I stepped through the gate and leapt into the void──!
“Megumin, I don’t care, go ahead and kill them all! I’ll protect all of you with my body! I’ve already proven that it takes more than a single Explosion to kill me!”
“Very well, let us greet death together! And even if Darkness couldn’t protect me, after firing off so many Explosions in one day and trading lives with the Demon King at the very end, I can die with no regrets! It’s an honour to die with you all!”
“Wait, stop, Megumin, wait! Don’t blow up Darkness-san!”
The first thing that greeted my ears was a very disturbing conversation.
I opened my eyes, and met the gaze of Aqua who was looking directly down at me.
The warm and soft thing my head was resting on is probably Aqua’s thighs.
“Ah…! You’re finally back, Kazuma!”
Aqua squealed with joy upon seeing me return to consciousness.
I quickly sat up and confirmed my surroundings.
Directly in front of me is──
“Your majesty, please get behind us!”
“Hey, Crimson Demon! If you cast Explosion here, you yourselves will be caught in the blast! Do you understand what you’re doing!?”
Megumin, her staff shining with the mana of Explosion, waved it around to scare the Demon King and his men. In front of her stood a battered and bruised Darkness, having her sword somehow lost during the melee.
Standing opposite them is a pair of knights, protecting the Demon King behind them. Both they, and Yunyun, who was standing quite some distance away, were desperately trying to talk Megumin down.
Mitsurugi must have been wounded somehow. He crouched on one knee, while his two hanger-ons stood around him as if to guard him.
I searched for the Grim Reaper that foiled my attempt to sneak through, but the only thing I found was a large scythe and Darkness’s sword, broken in half, next to the puddle of blood that I left.
It seems like Aqua took care of the Grim Reaper that killed me.
Seeing me stand up, Megumin and Darkness let out a slight sigh of relief.
The battle is at a stalemate, and the Demon King’s guards don’t seem to have taken notice of me.
Though, I suppose that’s because the threat posed by Megumin is so high that they could scarcely afford to look away.
──As the Demon King’s guards are still trying to talk Megumin out of it.
“Kazuma, please start preparing to cast Teleport. We’re all getting out of here. Once Kazuma and Yunyun are done with their preparations, Megumin, just fire your Explosion through that balcony over there and we’ll all make a break for it!”
Aqua urgently whispered to me, but…
“Aqua, listen closely to what I’m about to say. Actually, listen to me for once in your life. Eris-sama just told me this, but you can weaken the Demon King, right?”
I relayed what Eris told me just now to her.
“…Kazuma-san, what are you talking about? There’s no way I can do something so goddess-like. Are you okay? Get a hold of yourself.”
“You get a hold of yourself! Have you forgotten what you are!? You’re technically a goddess, aren’t you!?”
“Oh right! I am a goddess! I’ll use the divine power of the goddess to seal the Demon King… No, wait, I can put a seal on him to lower his stats, but that’s all it will do. The Demon King hasn’t really taken an active part in the battle, so I don’t think weakening him will do much.”
“Once you’ve weakened him, I’ll take care of it somehow… You killed that Grim Reaper-like undead monster, right? That means my Lurk skill would work.”
Aqua’s expression changed to one of worry the moment she heard the word ‘Lurk’.
“Kazuma-san, you’re still planning on doing this? …Can’t we go home? Let’s just leave the Demon King to the guys in charge and live a leisurely life instead. If we don’t have enough money… It’s against my principles, but I can consider selling my art. Ah, but it’s only to get enough money to live on, okay? I’m not selling them forever. So…”
I thrust my right palm towards her, signaling her to stop talking.
Then, I gave her a serious look and said──
“Just watch. You’ve been with me for quite some time now, so you know that I always managed to get us out of such situations. Just trust in me one more time.”
“It’s because I know you for such a long time that I can’t trust you.”
…The urge to smack her upside the head rises.
I went out of my way to say a cool line for once, and she had to be a wet blanket. I grabbed her head.
“Enough! Already! Just prepare to weaken the Demon King!”
“Ow-ow-ow! It hurts! Okay, fine, I get it, I’ll do it!”
As I used my iron claw on her, I explained my plan for what’s going to happen next.
“You get it? Once you weaken him, I’ll once again use Lurk to get close to him. Once I’m in range, I’ll use Teleport to abduct him to the deepest depths of the deepest dungeon, where I’ll finish him off.”
“Wait, hold on, you are planning to fight the Demon King one-on-one? My unclouded gaze tells me that the only thing that awaits you down that path is death, you know?”
Does she not feel content unless she reduces my motivation to the negatives?
“I have plenty of tricks up my sleeves. If things go really bad, I’ll teleport back to Axel on my own. If the Demon King doesn’t show up here, you can go ahead and assume that I’ve defeated him. Even if I can’t defeat him, I’ll buy you as much time as I can. Use that time to take care of the guards in this room. Without the Demon King present, these guys would be heavily weakened, so you should be able to handle them, right?”
And if the Demon King does show up here after all his guards have been defeated, you can just gang up and defeat him.
But Aqua seems to grow more and more uneasy about my plan.
“…Kazuma, what happens if you drop dead in the dungeon? If someone as squishy as you were to die in a dungeon, you might get eaten by some hungry wandering monster, you know?”
“D-Don’t call me squishy… Anyway, if things get really dangerous, I’ll run away. Even if I used up all my mana, I can still use this manatite to Teleport out.”
More importantly, if I don’t act soon, the Demon King will notice that I’ve been revived and will be on guard.
“Fuhahahah! If I defeat the Demon King here, I will become the new Demon King…!”
“Megumin, calm down! Even if you defeat the Demon King, you won’t become the next Demon King! Your eyes look serious, but it’s just an act, right!? The adventurers in Axel told me that they will treat me to a meal when we come back, so I must come back alive…!”
Seems like the other side is still in a state of chaos.
…At that moment, my eyes met Darkness’s, who happened to glance my way.
However, she almost immediately averted her gaze.
It’s almost like she doesn’t want to draw the Demon King’s and his guards’ attention to my presence.
Is Megumin putting on such a flashy performance to direct attention away from me as well?
Perhaps they are still expecting me to Backstab the Demon King like we originally planned.
“Right, I’m heading out. Hey, Aqua, make sure you explain to Megumin and the others what’s going on after I teleport out. In particular, be sure to tell them that I’ll teleport home if I’m in any danger, otherwise they’ll definitely go crazy again.”
Saying that, I activated my Lurk skill, but Aqua grabbed onto the hem of my clothes and wouldn’t let go.
“…Hey, Kazuma, why do you care so much about slaying the Demon King?”
She uneasily asked.
But at the same time, she had a somewhat expectant look about her.
…She’s probably expecting me to say ‘for your sake’ or something equally cliché. Honestly it kinda ticks me off a little.
Her eyes were sparkling with anticipation, and she’s definitely taken in by the romance of a Goddess sending a brave Hero on his way.
“…I’m not doing this for your sake or anything!”
“Can’t you just honestly say ‘I’m doing this for you, my Goddess’ at a time like this!? …Tsundere NEET, if you really feel that your life is in danger, make sure you come running back to us, you hear? A beansprout like you would die instantly if you take a direct hit from the Demon King.”
Don’t call me a beansprout.
“I know, trust me. Do you honestly think I’m the kind of guy who would fight him till the bitter end? NEETs give up easily, so don’t worry.”
“I know. You’re a coward who gives up easily. I know you’re inept and easily led astray.”
…Can’t she properly support me even at a time like this?
“…And I know that at the end of the day, no matter how dire the circumstances, you’ll be able to find a way to resolve it, so go ahead and play with the Demon King. Just don’t die.”
With a wide confident smile, Aqua met my gaze──
──Using my cloak to cover my face, I pressed my body against the walls and slowly advanced.
It’s about as far as you can get from a brave warrior on his way to defeat the Demon King, but I’ve given up on looking like some cool hero.
As I drew closer to the Demon King, Aqua put her palms together and closed her eyes as if in prayer.
Shortly after, a bright light began emanating from her body, illuminating the entire room.
…She really does look like a goddess right now.
“Oh, my kin who live in this world…”
As sweat began dripping down from her temples, the glowing goddess started chanting.
“The Goddess of Water, Aqua, commands you…!”
The attention of Demon King and his guards were immediately drawn to this unusual phenomenon.
It seems like they wanted to interrupt her, but with Megumin’s staff still in the way, they couldn’t do anything.
Eventually, Aqua slowly opened her eyes and raised her voice to a crescendo.
“Place a seal on these tainted beings──!”
Just by simply shouting those words, a sense of calmness seemed to descend over the room.
Hearing the words ‘tainted beings’ made me stiffen up, but it seems that I’m not that far gone yet.
As the guards formed a wall in front of the Demon King to shield him from the light,
The battered and bruised Darkness activated a skill and charged straight into the middle of them.
“Protect the Demon King! Don’t break your formation!”
One of the guards shouted.
But the charging Darkness slammed into him, opening a hole in the wall that allowed the light to envelop the Demon King.
I looked over in Mitsurugi’s direction, curious as to what he’s doing. He was getting up to his feet after finally receiving healing from Aqua.
Good. They’ll be more than capable of taking out the remaining minions after I teleport the Demon King away.
As Darkness flailed around with her fists, attracting the attentions of the guards with her skill, I successfully managed to maneuver myself behind the Demon King──
From up close, the Demon King looks to be a particularly large old man.
There is a pair of horns extending from his white hair, but apart from that he would look indistinguishable from a regular human.
However, he was clad in his flashy, pitch black outfit, and his body was emitting a constant stream of black mist that strengthened all of his minions. Anyone who saw that would definitely say he’s a Demon King.
“It’s a bluff, that Crimson Demon girl won’t use that spell in such close quarters. Ignore the Crusader in your midst and focus on the man with the magic sword instead! And take care of the other Crimson Demon girl, too!”
A vein twitched on Megumin’s temple upon hearing what the Demon King said.
Hey, cut it out, don’t antagonise her! She’ll really do it!
“Dammit, how annoying… To think that a goddess would descend to this world… Is the true identity of the light that fell to the town of beginners really this dumb-looking woman…?”
The Demon King had his back towards me, staring at Aqua with an annoyed look.
…Should I change my plan and just stab him in the back?
No, if I fail, that’d be the end of it. Plus, Eris did tell me that poison and instant death attacks wouldn’t work on him.
Then I’ll just have to teleport him away…!
“To think it was the goddess of water of all people who descended…! Hey, aren’t you supposed to be governing some other world? Or did you come here to bail out your junior goddess and put on some airs while you’re at it?”
The Demon King angrily shouted.
But the actual reason why she came to this world is all because of me. I’m sorry.
──Argh, dammit, I’m scared after all.
The Demon King has his back wide open. The opportunity is right before me.
All I had to do was touch him.
Is there nothing that can bolster my courage? I just need the slightest push…!
──Then, despite still being under the effects of my Lurk skill, I feel like my eyes met Darkness’s for a moment.
No, our eyes definitely met.
And not just Darkness, but Megumin’s too.
They both quickly looked away, but their faces lit up with a slight smile of anticipation──
I look over to Aqua, who let her shoulders slump, knowing that her part is over and the rest is up to me.
…I don’t care for cheat abilities any more.
I don’t need a legendary magic sword, or a prodigious skill, or enough power not to lose to anyone.
So, Goddess Eris-sama──
So, Goddess Aqua──
Please give this cowardly shut in the courage to take on the Demon King──!
“…!? You!? When the hell did you get there!?”
While chanting my spell, I leapt at the Demon King and screamed.