‘Twas but a simple unfounded rumor.
That in this vast Demon World, there existed but a single Demon Lord who reigned over the forces over ice and snow, a force that didn’t exist among the original sins.
Not a single thing could stand before him, but without paying mind to the legions of Demons brought to their knees, he simply spent his perpetual existence on naught.
And of that supreme Demon Lord, the Demons whispered, and spoke of exaggerated tales.
… Of the Lazy King.
Seeing the young Demon nervously speaking on as if each work he spoke was true, I snorted.
“Ki ki ki, how pointless a story…”
A goblet dyed in a blood-like red.
I downed all of the viscous liquid within it in a single swig. It was a devilish wine made to bestow a drunken state onto the Demon Race, despite their high status abnormality resistance.
It was as if the liquid let off a fiery heat as it leisurely slipped down my throat.
That heat became power, as it expanded towards every nook and cranny of my body, my six arms and all.
“Still, Deije-san. I’m bein’ dead serious here. You heard ‘bout how the Dark Prison’s earth was sealed in ice, right? In all actuality, that Superbia Demon Lord who climbed to rank one was supposedly rising in power to restrain it, or something…”
“That so… Ki ki ki my commanding officer’s sure gotten high and mighty, has he…”
Of course, it’s not like a deserter like me actually witnessed anything.
But from the current situation, I have a good hypothesis. I can calculate it out.
My Avaritia aches.
And as if to hold it back, I started downing the goblet that had been presented to me again.
A high rank Demon, for argument’s sake, like me isn’t going to get dead drunk from drinking something like this, and as long as I willed it, I could blow away the drunken stupor in an instant.
My eyes reflected in the well-polished wine were shining with desire.
Ki ki ki, this is why Greed’s no good.
Something reeks. It reeks the hell of it. I’ve got a bad premonition stirring up even the depths of my soul.
It’s the same atmosphere I felt before the war of black and white that broke out ten thousand years ago. It’s flowing. The field’s going to change before my eyes.
This must be that which can’t be expressed in words, the intuition of a Demon who’s lived out his years.
It was the smell of treasure, and the smell of war.
The smell of death, and yet the smell of glory.
I offered a warning to my junior, a Demon who also governed Greed sitting beside me.
“Ki ki ki, well keep your shirt on, Zeta Adler. Don’t mistake your enemy.”
“Mistake… my enemy?”
Generally, those of the Demon race are all self-serving.
Therefore, we’re always surrounded by enemies. You can’t even be negligent around allied troops. That’s exactly why the ability to distinguish friend and foe is an indispensable skill. No matter how talented a Demon may be, they would be killed in an instant had they failed at that aspect.
Yesterday’s enemy is today’s friend. Yesterday’s friend, today’s enemy. It’s important to see the sides switch as well. Those that can’t do that, yet still persist to live long lives are either ridiculously talented, or perhaps blessed with good luck.
“Ki ki ki, exactly. Zeta, just how is that Lazy King related to us? Is he… our enemy?”
“… No, but…”
An instinct for strife sleeps within a Demon’s base nature. It’s a strong instinct. It’s perhaps the second strangest force within us, next to our sin.
And that often dulls out decision making capability.
“Then there’s no need to cower at him, is all. The Lazy King is… not our enemy. I would never be able to fulfill my Greed working at a place with hostility towards me. Am I wrong?”
“You’re not… wrong.”
Zeta nodded with an unsatisfied expression.
It’s fine if he doesn’t understand it yet. If he lives long enough, he’ll figure it out eventually.
It’s just that until he realizes that, it would be nice if my words remain in him if only by the slightest.
“Lazy King… huh. Just what are you thinking, Boss Leigie… Ki ki ki, this is no good.”
Leigie the Depraved.
Let alone General Class, he is a long lived Lord who existed back when I hadn’t even become a Knight Class Demon.
The reason for his existence would be summarized into a single word. Nothing.
A steadfast Demon Lord who wouldn’t take any action regardless of the times. An unchanging existence. Therefore, regardless of his high rank among the Demon Lords, there are few who know him, and those that have seen his figure are severely limited.
That’s why I fear.
On top of his experience, he has to have something hidden on him.
Of all else, he’s a Demon Lord. It would be stranger for him to have nothing.
Without having been told it by Zeta, I knew well enough of how Boss Leigie’s land had frozen over.
It had spread around the expanse of the Demon World as a sort of urban legend.
More than a year’s passed, but even if we still hear of it from those straining their voices in the corners of the bars, to us Demons who know of the insurmountable existences known as Demon Lords, it’s absolute absurdity.
That’s why even after just a year, everyone acted oblivious to it.
There’s also the fact that a more precise threat showed itself, but that’s not all.
It’s terrifying. An unknown power. Of those that know, and those that don’t, there are few to put the story to words.
Ignorants aren’t to speak.
Those crafty enough to anticipate the outcome keep their mouths shut. Of course, I don’t speak up about it either.
Apart from Sloth, a majority of Demons’ Skills are undergoing extensive research. If a land of ice and snow were to reveal itself, then the probability of it being in the unresearched Acedia would be high, and seeing from the land on which it transpired, it isn’t hard to imagine it was Boss Leigie that did it.
A large-scale Skill invoked by the idle lord… what sort of change has come about in his feelings, or what sort of circumstances erupted into it, I don’t even want to know.
Perhaps Supreme Commander Heard stepped on the tiger’s tail, or… oh, right, Heard was the Rank One Demon Lord now, was he?
Well, the thing I should be putting my mind to isn’t some absurd urban legend or anything. There was a much more precise enemy before our eyes.
Contrasting his age, Zeta showed quite a bit of promise. Unlike me, he had desires that caused him to take up humanoid form. A young male Demon with ashen hair, and eyes of the same color.
Even without having reached General Class, in the few years since he’d been born, he was already in the upper ranking of Knight Class. His wit showed decent prospects.
An Avaritia’s companion’s got to be either another Avaritia, or an Invidia.
Even if we hold the same sin, our targets are different. There’s some merit in association. Perhaps our affinity is even better than with Invidia.
“Well, rather than that, there’s something we should be focusing on, right?”
“Yes… that’s right. Deije-san.”
Zeta sent a glance around, as if he was mindful of the surroundings.
A run-down bar. Without even any music, there were barely any other Demons present. In the first place, there are few Demons out there that actually drink.
All that was there was a strange bartender Demon offering us drink, and a pitiful lower class Demon sleeping flat on top of a table. Both of then are too low in power to even consider comparing them to me.
Perhaps through fear, a sublime smile surfaced on Zeta’s face.
“The 『Angel』 came out again.”
“… How many times does that make it?”
“It’s already the third time within the month. They’re five of them in numbers. I’ve heard information they made an appearance at the Crimson Prison.”
A Demon’s natural enemy, and their predefined nemesis.
The vanguard of that white god’s attempts to invade the Demon World.
Their power specialized to kill Demons was so great, that it’s been said they were born for that very purpose.
Demons receive great power from the land of this Demon World, but they can put up an even fight even within this miasma. It’s not like I’ve fallen too low to take down a low grade Angel, but that doesn’t change how troublesome they are.
It’s because my subordinates aren’t as strong as me. They’ll be purified by the most average of Angels.
The Crimson Prison was one of the lands managed by a Lord Subservient to the Great Demon King. That is something that should be common knowledge to those heavenly messengers.
“Close to a hundred Knight Class and lower…”
“A hundred… is it…”
Doesn’t look like the top brass took the time to come out.
But with only five coming out, I wasn’t expecting them to. The top’ll only show up when it’s time for a complete war of annihilation.
That time ten thousand years ago was the same. At the start, it was low class Angels, then gradually intermediate level, and finally when high class ones were sent in, the King led a force of several thousands to combat them.
This generation’s Demon Lord doesn’t even know of that. No, she probably knows, but she didn’t experience it.
Even I don’t know about the Angels’ situation, but perhaps it’s something similar. A timespan of ten thousand years isn’t something to make too light of.
To Greed, War is but a single turning point. Ki ki ki, it’s something that brings up many a treasure chest.
With the low, and the intermediate, and the high, and even the Demon Lord Class Demons dying left and right, it all just starts flowing down.
Treasure of that level gets scattered all over the place. So our enemy isn’t just the Angels. Precisely because of their desires, similar Greed Demons may become even greater opposition.
What I seek… the resources I desire are finite. If it enters my hand, it won’t be goin’ to anyone else. If others lay hands on it, it’s not ending up in mine.
It’s a game of looting. Of Angels, of Demons, or Treasure.
And the necessary power is something I possess.
Libell isn’t here anymore, but in exchange, I have Zeta. Experience-wise, Libell came from the same time as me, but it’s unavoidable.
The first thing we need is to discern the enemy.
The number of angels. Their power. Their goal. Their actions are always focused onto some greater goal or another by the will of God. Knowing that or not will change our chances of victory.
“What became of those five Angels…?”
“They fled, it seems. The moment they caught sight of the Demon Lord’s main forces, they ran.”
“How rare of an army of God to pull back… those guys are supposed to stick to their doctrine, even if it may result in death…”
Angels are perpetual lives created from souls. Their sense of life isn’t all too different from ours, but there’s a single law. As they could only move in accordance with their grand design, their powers were severely limited when compared to Demons.
And it’s all so each and every one of those things can kill as many Demons as possible.
But this time’s pattern clearly differed from the norm. How troublesome. They should’ve just lived facing forward.
What could they be thinking…?
Has a goal more important than Demon slaying come down to them…?
… Well so be it. Whatever the case, the result is predetermined.
I’m a Demon of Greed. Then there’s but a single thing I have to do.
I don’t think I even have to say it.
A majority of the Demon World’s open plains.
Besides one part of it, there are few ups and downs. Nothing but ruined soil expands in every direction.
With a Demon’s eyesight, we can clearly see the emptiness leading to the horizon straight ahead, but among us, there are few who actually pay that fact any mind.
If you’ve got the free time to be pondering such things, go fulfill your cravings already. That is a Demon’s reason for existence, and the measure of their worth.
But at the same time, I know of those that have reigned over these lands for too long, gazing out over the endlessly desolate landscape. Perhaps that’s the standing that an eternal life would lead one to.
The Demon World’s lands are divided by the power they’re basked in.
Meaning it was a result of the influence of a reigning lord over many years, and the Crimson Prison’s land was once under the reigns of a powerful Demon Lord of Wrath. That Lord has long since been annihilated, and it was unified by one of the Pride Demon Lords allied with Kanon.
Vanity the Egoist.
The land ruled by the great skin-headed Demon, Vanity Seidthroan.
He was a taciturn man, and despite his base Pride, he never bragged. He was also a pure-born soldier who brought others to their knees with his pure might.
While they were Pride all the same, compared to the two Lords Zebul devoured, he surpassed them greatly in strength, and service.
While we’re all part of the same Great Demon King’s army, rarely do I get a chance to see other Demon Lords.
I’ve only ever seen him from afar, but his large build that surpassed even mine, and his black muscles as if they were forged from steel… as Demons are beings of soul, outer appearance and power aren’t proportionate, but unfortunately, from a glance, I could tell he clearly had the makings of a great ruler.
With but a glance, some part of me from within my soul fell into a sense of admiration, and he was a type I’d rarely had an opportunity to see in my years that surpass ten thousand. I don’t know his real strength, but based on the air he carried, among the many Lords in service to the Great Demon King, he’s likely at the forefront.
And in the first place, he was originally Demon Lord Rank Two.
If there are those that rise in rank, there are those that fall as well.
The fact that he dropped a place when Boss Leigie rose in rank was inevitable, due to Boss’s achievements, but at the same time, there are some Demons questioning whether he simply lost out to the Boss.
Rank and strength aren’t always coherent, but his strength was definitely within the top five of the Great Demon King’s army.
With pride as his attribute, it’s possible that if it just came down to strength, he surpassed some of those ranked higher than him.
If there was some merit in him putting a stop to his active service, he could rack up achievements whenever he wanted.
If he was to personally lead his army, he would lose freedom of movement. In exchange, he might pull up some unexpected treasure. Now is the time to observe. In that sense, me receding from Boss’s army may have been an inevitable choice, but there’ nothing I can say but that my luck was good.
The Great Demon King’s army is the strongest force in this Demon World. Even if the entire world’s yet to be fully unified, if Heaven were to choose a target to focus their attention on, then in would be none else but the Great Demon King Kanon Iralaude’s head. That’s something our side is also well aware.
The earth of the Crimson Prison was hot.
As if the Ira Demon Lord that ruled over it long past’s anger was being manifested into it, the air temperature in that land was close to fifty times higher than in the other territories, and even if it wasn’t enough to affect a Demon’s livelihood, simply standing there would make one soaked in their own sweat.
While gazing up at the blazing blood-red sun, I simply waited.
In one of the towns of the Crimson Prison.
The burning town, 『Grey Rock』.
It was a small town nicely situated on the border of Vanity’s Crimson Prison, and Heard Lauder’s Dark Prison.
The number of civilians wasn’t all too high, and at the same time, past aside, when both Prisons were taken under the Great Demon King’s control, it lost all strategic value. A pitiful scrap of a town.
Back when the Dark Prison was under the reign of some opposing Demon Lord, there was a platoon stationed here, but the place’s liveliness was not just something of a time long passed.
The reason I dropped by this forgotten town was to gather information pertaining to the Angel attack.
Even if I say that, when it comes to collecting intel, I’m pretty much a novice.
But that’s not a problem. There ain’t a single problem here.
I’m only capable of stealing, but among humans, and demons, and angels, there’s that thing called ‘the right person in the right place.’
The terrace of the dirty town’s only café was horribly quiet. Me aside, there was only one other customer present. That lone customer, perhaps due to the heat, was prostrated over their table with a khaki hood over their head. That state only further revealed the desolate atmosphere of the land.
As I sat back into my chair, Zeta Adler came at me, jogging.
For a male Demon, Zeta boasted quite a diminutive build. Looking from afar, it would be hard to believe someone of his delicate features would be capable of battle, but if you underestimate him, you’re in for a world of pain.
A Demon’s shape represents their true nature, the reality of their cravings. Zeta’s childish form was a shape made up in order for him to satisfy his desires. It was the form that best allowed Zeta Adler to sate his Greed.
But as a General Class, my heat resistance was quite higher than his.
This temperature must be putting him at his wit’s end, as he panted heavily, and wiped his forehead with his forearm while he gave his report.
“Haa, haa, Deije-san. They gathered just as you said. Just as the rumors went, the platoon of Vanity’s army that were annihilated did take a temporary stay in this town.”
“… That so…”
It was the most recent report of an angel assault breaking out.
Their numbers were five. The casualties a hundred.
The target of their assault was Vanity’s army. The attacked platoon was annihilated. Their numbers a hundred. It wasn’t that high a statistic, nor was it low.
Precisely because of the high heat of the Crimson Prison’s soil, there were very few settlements. Even if they numbered few, letting an army stay on standby required a considerable space to be prepared.
It wasn’t as large as the Dark Prison, but the Crimson Prison was a vast wasteland. Even if a flying dragon was used, it wasn’t so easy to cross it.
“For what reason did they gather here?”
“There wasn’t really a reason made public, but… well, wasn’t it just a restraint? Even if you say the army assembled here, Vanity the Egoist’s army’s supposed to number in the thousands… they didn’t even send any General Classes here.”
“Restraint… Ki ki ki, to keep Heard Lauder in check, is it?”
“He did cause quite a ruckus… the other Demon Lords are getting tense, I’ve heard…”
The Prideful Kaiser Heard Lauder crushed the armies of the higher ranked Demon Lords, and him becoming Rank One is still a fresh memory in my mind.
In the first place, Heard was an old Demon, and at the same as a General Class, his name was an influential one known to all.
Since he’d become a Demon Lord, his Pride made an alteration of rankings to be inevitable.
He crushed whoever opposed him head-on, and was one even feared by his allies.
The ones he had the worst affinity with were likely other Demons of Superbia.
The pecking order of pride is quite strict. That’s even more the case among their brethren.
It’s likely that Vanity never crossed blades with Heard directly.
There’s his pride and all. It’s natural for him to be vigilant… I guess.
Without any General class Demons, I don’t think such small numbers would serve to restrain that Kaiser or anything, but…
Among the Demon Lords, Vanity was of the moderate faction.
He didn’t frivolously advertise his Pride. That wasn’t his personality.
That’s why he had few chances to perform distinguished service, and Boss Leigie’s rank surpassed his.
Ki ki ki, the important thing’s to have skilled pieces to play.
“The battleground was also around this town. The army rose to oppose the angels that made a sudden entrance, and while both sides put up a good fight, the difference in power resulted in the Demons’ annihilation. It seems there were some casualties among the civilians as well.”
“… I see. Well, it’s not that there’s no precedent to Angels attacking Demon towns, but… the enemy numbered five, right? Five against one hundred… the gap must have been considerable.”
Fights between Demons aren’t battles of numbers.
It may have been clear when Zebul devoured my army, but quality was revered well over quantity.
The same can be said about battles between Angels. In that sense, a story of five Angels taking down a hundred Demons- while their luck may have been bad- was quite possible.
They failed to contain the forces attacking the town, and perished… I think the death count would actually have been lower if the let the Angels do as they pleased.
From what I can see, the population here isn’t high. While the Demon population was never as high as humans, even among our settlements, Grey Rock was a tiny one.
“Vanity noticed, and immediately sent out a larger force, but the opposition narrowly escaped.”
“… Ki ki ki, so they were made a fool of. The Demon Lord must be quite pissed now.”
“There’s talk that he’s prepared to send his entire army out at a moment’s notice… well, since they don’t know where the Angels ran off to, they can’t dispatch outside the territory yet, but… there’re intel his entire army’s been gathered at his 『Palace of Noble Truth』.”
The Palace of Noble Truth was the castle of Vanity Seidthroan.
Just as Boss Leigie’s base is his Castle of Shadows, each Demon Lord has their own stronghold.
The fact that he assembled his army at his own palace means the possibility of him personally leading it next they go into battle Is high.
That’s how serious he is. This is what it means to step on the beast’s tail.
However, there’s some part of Zeta’s story that leaves a strange taste in my mouth.
“… Hit and run… when did the Angels become able to use such tactics…?”
Generally, God’s personal holier-than-thou troops would never hold doubt in their own victory.
Therefore, they see no need in strategy. Those Angels were something like time bombs made of pillars of faith. Once they appeared, they would fight until all the Demons around them had perished, and until death, they wouldn’t cease their struggles. No, that’s how it should be.
“Ki ki ki, this really is a pain… has a competent leader decided to step forward?”
I don’t think something on the level of a leader would be able to change an angel’s movements, but…
Perhaps misunderstanding something, Zeta timidly asked.
“… Deije-san, could you be referring to the rumored Valkyrie who can kill Demon Lords?”
“No way. Even if she may be strong, I can’t think that an Angel would abide the orders of a Valkyrie, who they think of as an inferior race.”
Of course, I know of the noble revived heroic soul that killed a Demon Lord.
About three months ago, the topic of a single maiden swinging around her might became something like the talk of the town, and she was still an existence that made the Great Demon King’s army tremble.
If you’re looking at damages, she’s a much fiercer one than this force that only killed a measly one hundred Demons.
But I’m thinking of this case as a separate matter. Killing a Lord… if there was one capable of doing something like that, there’s no way the town would still be standing here like this.
While they both may be assassins from the heavens… that’s all there is to it.
“Deije-san, is something the problem?”
“Ki ki ki, of course, we’re going to be chasing the Angels. Zeta Adler, this is the critical moment.”
There’s no need to even think about it.
Right. This is the divide.
Only five of them have been spotted so far. So why not make them my stepping stones to glory?
Military service ain’t bad, but just following a commander the whole time makes Jack a dull boy.
In the first place, the heavens’ve been too quiet as of late. While Angels have been spotted here and there, they’ve all been lone riders. A few Demons would die off now and again, but it’s been a terribly long time since a whole platoon’s been wiped off the face of the earth.
This is the signal flare, and there won’t be a better opportunity than this instant.
History will speak.
It’s because no one has yet to lay hands on it that 『Usurping』 ever holds meaning.
“Still… taking on a group able to kill a hundred Demons, even for you…”
“Ki ki ki, what’s it to ya’? We have a trumpcard of our own. It’ll work out one way or another, and if it looks like we’ll lose, we’ve just got to run.”
This is the Demon World. To the end, it’s a world beneficial to us.
If we continue to pull back, we’ll never be able to do anything. If I won’t be able to get my hands on anything, then death’s a better option.
Balance. Right, what’s important is balance.
I looked over the town.
As its name suggested, the townscape that appeared to be constructed of gray stone was simple, but it maintained a form that made it unthinkable that Angels had launched an attack here.
“Zeta, we’ll be staying in this town for a while.”
“… Eh? There isn’t anything here, you know?”
I’m well aware.
I began explaining to the lad, who let of streams of sweat as he directed his eyes at me.
It’s definitely hot here. IT isn’t a place I’d like to overstay my welcome, but there are times when a Demon’s got to do what a Demon’s got to do.
“Ki ki ki, we’re going to discern the Angels’ power. Perhaps there’s something to learn from the traces left by their battle. It’s not like there’s no chance of them attacking this land again, either. Their end goal is the Great Demon King’s neck without a doubt, but we still don’t know the reason for this time’s assault here.”
“… I see. But is there really a need for an Angel to have a reason to kill Demons?”
“No clue. But whatever the case, there’s barely a trail to follow. Rather than setting off on a fool’s errand, it’d be lucky if we found some clue.”
As a General Class Demon, let me say it. If you don’t use your legs, you won’t get any treasure.
Usurping is a hunt. Pursue, and take. That is the meaning of greed. It’s proof, it’s validation.
Ki ki ki, why don’t I teach it to you?
This town is hot.
There’s a shocking lack of any clues.
Those two truths are slowly burning up my thought process.
It’s been a week since I started investigating Grey Rock, and with nothing being found, only the time had passed by.
The feeling of impatience. But still, there hasn’t been anny information of those five angels being sighted in any other land.
Did they return to heaven?
The possibility exists. There’s definitely the chance they were conducting brief recon.
In that case, that means we’ve been working for nothing.
I mean, the Rank Four Demon Lord is waiting on his throne with all preparations to take them down. No one normal would attack the same spot twice.
But Angels are nothing normal. The Iustitia they carry is just as sinful as the cravings carried by a Demon.
Today as well, there was only one other besides us in the café.
In my usual seat on the usual terrace, I wiped the sweat off my forehead, as I downed the lime-colored water in the tumbled glass in a single swig.
Before my eyes was Zeta, who was weaker than me, and thus more haggard.
“Ki ki ki, how interesting. For there to be absolutely nothing after all that…”
“It’s as if there’s not a single trace… it seems. Not even a speck of destruction…”
As expected of a former garrison.
It’s not like it was put to much use, and the structure here are overly durable, with barrier magic stretching over everything without a single crack.
I did check out the plaza where the battle supposedly took place, but there were barely any traces of a fight having taken place.
With this, I can’t even begin to imagine the Angels’ attributes.
But it’s not like our harvest was nil. I did figure something out.
“They can only use attacks to an extent not strong enough to break the barrier. As I thought, their abilities aren’t all that high. If you include affinity into the calculations, they’re Knight Class at best.”
“And you’re saying that just five Knights were able to take on a hundred Demons?”
Zeta’s tone indicated he couldn’t believe it as he looked to me with doubt.
“It’s not an impossible talk. An Angel’s power weakens a Demon’s… well, fighting in the Demon World gives some enhancements, so in the end, it comes down to personal ability, but…”
Vanity himself aside, his army’s nothing famous. So his troops simply being weak is also a possibility.
I mean, even if he may stand out himself, it’s not like an army’s competence is directly proportional to their Lord’s strength.
Well, still, whatever the case, the truth is uncertain.
I asked around. I personally checked out the battle site.
… There’s no helping it. There’s no use in wasting any more time.
… Should I just steal it?
A feverish dizziness shook my emotions as if my brain were being fried.
I’m a bit reluctant to do anything too rough in the Egoist’s territory, but… this world’s survival of the fittest, after all.
“… Ki ki ki, Zeta. There’s no helping it… do ya’ remember the faces of the witnesses?”
“… Are you serious? We’re within the territory of allied troops, you know…”
“Hey, if you put it like that, we won’t be getting’ anywhere. It’s adaptation. Change to fit the situation. Also… right, Zeta?”
Spending a week investigating on this land is taking this young Demon’s stress to its breaking point.
But in his current expression, I can barely see any fatigue.
I bent my lips into a smile, and pointed it out to my oblivious junior.
“… You’re smiling at the idea, you know?”
“… Kufu… well, if you put it like that, I guess there really is no helping it. ”
Putting it in a way that made it seem he didn’t care either way, my faithful junior laughed.
While I say faithful, his faith lied not to me, but to his own desire, the cravings he harbored.
A trait that indicated a Demon of the highest caliber. It sure is fun, looking after guys with talent at the job…
Zeta leisurely stood, and his expression had lost all traces of tiredness.
His ashen eyes letting off a strong light were the only things shining under the crimson blazing sun.
Despite the fact that all he did was stand up, it seemed as if his slim figure had suddenly expanded for an instant.
A display of power. He let out a deep breath, gave off a repulsive feral expression, and in contrast to all of that, he began shispering in a calm voice.
Avaritia Skills are based on a desire to take.
Looking back over others, and mocking, and shaming, and taking all of creation to your heart’s desire. Its true nature lay in causing loss to others.
Ki ki ki.
Take it all.
The fact that there’s something to be gained. The fact that someone has something to lose.
More oppressing than Invidia, more crafty than Gula.
Even though I have yet to become a Demon Lord, there’s a reason I’ve been able to live over ten thousand years of life.
The strong do not foresee their losses.
They’ll only notice after they’ve lost it.
The dreadfulness of Greed.
Zeta Adler, the Greed Demon arms let off a faint black luminescence.
An Avaritia Skill, 『Greed Hand』.
Its power wasn’t on the level of the 『Wave of Starvation』 possessed by gluttony, but it was much more atrocious.
Ki ki ki, but it’s all fine. It doesn’t take lives of anything. It at least leaves those behind.
“Zeta, finish up quickly. Ki ki ki, Before we even meet the Angels, I’d hate it to have to go up against fellow Demons. That would be a bit much.”
The sword Celeste I received from Boss Leigie was definitely a fiendish and unrivalled Demon Blade, but I’d still be at a disadvantage when the enemy’s at Demon Lord Class. I don’t think the Lord’ll pop up after we just steal a bit, but I don’t know Vanity’s nature. It would be best to remain cautious.
“I… I know that.”
Understanding that, Zeta nodded lightly, as he began searching for his target.
This town was narrow, and its population wasn’t high, but as it was the middle of the day, the streets were being put to good use.
Despite the Angels coming out, they were quite calm.
Demons were the dominant race of the Demon World. We barely had any enemies.
That’s why the lower one’s class is as a Demon, the more they begin to take needless pride in the powers they were born with.
Zeta approached a single passer-by, who seemed to simply be taking a leisurely stroll. Age-wise, he didn’t seem much different from the boy. A Young Demon.
But He was much too lacking in vigilance. Form my long life spent mostly in military service, I could see it clearly. From his attire, his gestures and all else, he was too taken in by his peaceful surroundings I was even surprised he managed to survive this far in the constantly-warring Demon World.
Even when Zeta approached, he merely made a bit of a doubtful face, and he didn’t seem to be putting up his guard at all. Perhaps it has something to do with Zeta’s height being lower than his own. I mean, he looked delicate enough, that it didn’t seem his hands could bring harm to other.
After the two of them were finally within arm’s reach of one another, the young male Demon finally raised his voice.
The young man’s movements ceased. While his eyes were fixed on a point directly in front of him, it didn’t look like anything was entering them.
Zeta’s bone-thin fingertips were rested on his forehead. His casually extended arm put an ent to it all to quick.
The man’s head wasn’t pierced or anything. It was merely touched. It was done delicately, so not the slightest of wounds was left.
Zeta let his mouth curve into a complacent crescent smile as he withdrew his hands. It was a matter of several seconds.
Besides the ones directly involved, there weren’t any witnesses. Or perhaps though people witnessed it, they pretend not to. It’s survival of the fittest. The meaning of that should be clear.
Zeta’s longing was memory.
Just as I desired, of all time and place, of all nature and creation, materials treasure, he was an Avaritia Demon who longed for others’ experiences, and memories.
Inevitably, the nature of his Skills developed towards an ability to steal them.
I don’t get what’s so fun about any of that, but I doubt I’ll ever be able to understand another’s longings. Just do what you will.
If it affords me some merit, then all the more.
“… It’s finished… kufu…”
His peculiar laugh seemed to be filled with good humor somewhere.
Perhaps it’s because he stole something directly related to his objective.
The Skill 『Greed Hand』.
It’s merely a Skill that snatches up the target of one’s desire.
In my case, it’s loot, in his, experiences. It instils one’s hands with malicious power to take from others, and among Avaritia Skills, it’s known to be the one with the most frequent of use. And at the same time, based on one’s wishes, it can become the strongest Skill of all.
Like how a General Class like me can only steal items, this Knight Class in front of me can do things much more malicious.
With his field of vision taken by ecstasy, he whispered to me with a drunken expression.
his eyes seemed directed ahead, yet he wasn’t looking at anything.
“I see, so this is… an angel… my natural enemy.”
“Ki ki ki, so you struck the jackpot on the first try? I doubt you even checked to see if he was a witness, did you.”
“You’re not wrong… but it worked out, so there isn’t a problem.”
Well yeah. For you, that is.
I’ll allow it. I’ll give you that much.
But in order for one to be able to continue pursuing their desires to eternity, there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed.
I met his eyes, which appeared to gaze at some distant country, with a strong look of my own.
“You made sure to keep it to a minimum, right?”
“… Of course. Just as you taught me, Deije-san… he’ll be able to move again soon enough.”
And as if he had been waiting for those very words, the frozen youth began to stir.
With a bewitched expression, he looked over his surroundings for a while, but after a while, he started walking as before. His footsteps were firm, and I couldn’t think of him as a recent victim of theft.
There wasn’t a scrap of evidence left behind.
A question or two may pop up from an aberration in his memories of his daily life, but that’s all. That’s all the memory is. The longer you live, the less your life actually leaves a mark on your memories.
Perhaps even my memory’s been stanched out before. Ki ki ki, it’s a repulsing thought.
From his half-asleep state, Zeta slowly returned to reality. Like that, he lowered himself into his seat again, and began his report.
“I was able to take them up quite easily, but… it doesn’t appear there’s any new information to be found.”
“… I see.”
I didn’t think he would be able to get anything new on the first try anyways.
In the first place, we spent an entire week here with no results. Otherwise, we wouldn’t think it such a fortune to actually find something out.
Life is average. If there are rises, there are also falls, but it levels out.
“It appears what we’ve collected so far is true, at lease. Five angels, yes, there were definitely five angels donning heavenly wings here. Their means of entrance was the sky. They attacked the town, were intercepted by Vanity’s troops stationed here, and the rest is history. That’s the extent of what the master of these memories saw.”
“… I see. So, where did these all-important Angels head off to next?”
“Who can say… It’s clear they made an escape through the sky, but he didn’t see the direction…”
It just isn’t going to go our way.
Well, I guess just confirming our information had some merit in itself.
Ki ki ki, I mean, that was just the first try.
Also, seeing is believing, and at the information gathering stage, the worth of obtaining the memories of those that actually witnessed it is unfathomable.
“What were the Angels’ means of attack?”
On my query, Zeta started to blink.
He tilted his head for a while, before slowly letting the words flow out. Usurping memories and making them his own meant that he was pursuing the experience itself.
His tone was filled with fear, as if he was talking about a disaster that transpired before his own eyes.
“Light… right, pillars of light. A few meters in diameter, giant pillars of light from the sky… the town burned, and the Demons were mowed down.”
“An Angel’s Iustitia Skill… I guess. Yes, I’m sure there was something like that.”
Just as Demons possessed Seven attributes, Angels also had a few classifications.
Iustitia was of those.
Anyways, I’m sure it was an attribute that specialized in offense.
I caught a glimpse of it ten thousand years ago, as a wave of their light cleared away the darkness of the Demon World, said to be unsurmountable.
A large-scale Angel attack… Having only Knight Class and below, Vanity’s army was at a great disadvantage there.
Rather than the platoon being weak, perhaps they were simply unlucky…?
“… How many wings on them?”
“The wings, you know. Wings. They’re the symbol of an Angel. You can determine an Angel’s power by their number of wings.”
To those that have ever tried to oppose the heavens, it’s something like common sense.
And their wings were those guys’ pride, so they never try to hide them.
“… I see. Then it’s one. No, perhaps I should say one pair.”
So only a single pair of wings.
They’re that great a force. Perhaps from low to intermediate level. If I were to equate them to a Demon’s ranking system, there’s a high probability they’re at Zeta’s level, or below. Well, Demons have a naturally bad affinity with Angels, so Zeta alone would have it rough…
With Celeste, they’d be easy prey. No, even without it, I think I’d make it through.
Even if they burned the place with pillars of light, there wasn’t a single sign of it in town.
In the end, their output isn’t enough to breach the barrier…
Next, there’s the possibility they have a larger force in wait…
But nothing’s going to come of thinking about it that far.
There’s no such thing as a safe battle. I’ll at least drink down the basic risks.
Of all else, even if they sent down an Angel or two, there’s still that monster Valkyrie roaming around.
This must be the turning point of the era. Thinking of the future, it’s not a bad thing to build up some anti-Angel fighting experience here.
Perhaps still looking over his gained memories, Zeta still had an absentminded expression as his eyes traced thin air. I issued some orders.
“Oy, Zeta. It’s time for some usurping. For now, we need a stronger trail. Since we’re already at it, why not just take all the memories you can?”
“It’s no good… It’s not coming out at all.”
Zeta had a fatigued expression as he retracted his fingers.
Before him, a female Demon around Media’s age stood in silence with an expressionless expression plastered on her face.
The sight of Demons with these frozen doll-like expressions is something I’ve already gotten used to.
In Grey Rock with few pedestrians as it is, a back alley a left turn of of the main road. Even in the middle of the day, it was dark, and let alone Demons, there wasn’t a single mouse here.
Even if we’re in the Rank Four Vanity’s territory, were at the outskirts of the outskirts. I mean, it’s quiet here, so it isn’t hard to aim for the gaps.
Zeta had already taken the memories of nine Demons.
A Demon’s Skills were their craving themselves.
But it’s not like they could be used endlessly. With this high heat and humidity, the area was incredibly discomforting, and the task at hand, that was akin to grasping at fog put a deep strain on his psyche.
Slowly, a scarlet light circled around his grey hair.
“… How ‘bout it?”
“Taking the memories was exceedingly easy, but… once again, she’s no good. She didn’t see it… no, she witnessed the event, but didn’t see anything past that.”
It’s a line I’ve heard eight times before.
I thought we were in luck when the first Demon we stopped had seen the Angels, but that was far off.
The Angels gave an overly flashy show of power. Each and every one of the nine we stole from so far had clearly seen their form.
But their objective, and the direction they set off in remained foreign.
All of the Angels were clad in a uniform gaudy glow. It’s a light with that dreaded power of god at its core.
And that’s good and all in the sense that it draws peoples’ eyes, but at the same time, it was a hated light, and no one willingly wanted to see them off.
No helping it. The enemies were envoys that personally crushed the army of the ruling Lord. It’s not strange for the civilians to want to run away.
It isn’t strange… but…
It’s ominous. It’s much too ominous.
My experience was going off like a fire alarm. It was much too quiet. There was much too much nothingness.
It was much too perfect.
Originally, the appearance of the Angels, in itself would be suspected as a ruse, but we could use Zeta’s power.
Memories tell no lies.
“… Oy, Zeta. Do you know whose report it was that said the Angels had come forth?”
“… Yes, it was the Order of Black member accompanying Vanity… the inspector’s regular report. I mean, the appearance of Angels is a serious matter… I heard they participated in the force Vanity sent out to pursue, or something.”
The Order of Black.
The Great Demon King’s personal vanguard, and her direct servants.
If it were for Kanon Iralaude’s sake, they would even turn against a Demon Lord. They were the King’s arms and legs, as well as her eyes and ears.
That girl Lize was the same, but the loyalty that order shows to the Great Demon King was the real deal. Since this member was charged with a Lord governing Pride, their loyalty must be first-class. I doubt that order’d ever make a serious mistake in dispatching personnel.
If possible, I’d like to take that inspector’s memory to confirm it, but I doubt that’s happening.
As an inspector, there’s no doubt they’re a General Class surpassing Zeta already. Unlike with material wealth, usurping memories depended on the individuals’ will, and mental resistance could drop its success rate. The low class Demons we stole from today aside, a General Class it too heavy a burden for the lad.
The one most anxious about the current situation must be Zeta.
When he’s personally taking in the sights, there’s not a single hint to be found. It’s as if he’s forced to open up an empty treasure chest over and over again.
As a young Demon, he’s lacking in experience. The situation where his instincts made him feel nothing but an indescript anxiety was probably the same as the feelings I harbored ten thousand years ago.
Ki ki ki, that’s right.
Then I’ll take up the place of the one who looked over me back them.
“… Zeta, calm yourself. This result is definitely beyond our expectations, but it’s in no ways an impossible occurrence. It’s not like we haven’t gained anything. At the very least… it all reeks, is what we’ve learned.”
“… I see…”
First, you’ve got to calm down. Regain a level thought process.
Demons are doomed to overestimate their own abilities. That’s why when an accident occurs, they often try to resolve it with brute force.
First, take some deep breaths. Breath, and focus. That is the strong point of Demons that possess not only strength, but also intelligence.
Think with your own head. That will often change your fate.
/there are times when you’ve got to take risks, and risk your life as well, but at the very least, now isn’t that time.
“Those Angels, they must have a smart one amongst them… no, even so, their numbers are much too small, and we still haven’t a clue on why they attacked this town. Why did they aim for such a remote region… what is their goal?”
Simply slaying Demons?
A hundred Demons. With their military service, their power was higher than standard Demons. I guess it’s enough or a reason for Angels to attack.
But that’s exactly why I don’t get it. Why did only five come?
Even if we may be enemies the Angels specialize in killing, this is a land that greatly raises our abilities.
Luckily for them, there wasn’t a General Class among the forces, so they could easily take on a hundred, but if one was there, then five would definitely be at a disadvantage…
If it was the same heaven as before, if it was the usual angels that would resolve themselves to kill the moment they met a Demon, then it would make a slight bit of sense, but this time’s folks… they retreated.
It’s mismatched. It’s all over the place.
The recklessness they carried to take on twenty times their numbers, and the wisdom they held when they retreated the moment the army came into sight. That gap births a sense of discomfort.
It doesn’t match the angels I’ve seen up to now.
Sensing my hesitation, Zeta offered a proposal.
“… As I thought, should we steal a little more?”
“… Can you?”
“Yeah… Kufu, my Greed is… not satisfied yet, you know…”
With a face that looked quite forced, Zeta smiled.
Abuse of usurping. The fatigue he’s been building up, and his physical enervation. I can see them all.
But this time alone, I can’t go about babying him.
We need to find our trail before someone catches onto the inconsistency in their memories, and leave the town.
Time isn’t on our side. We don’t know when or where an Angel’ll pop up again. We should finish up quickly as best we can.
But at the same time, I had a hunch.
That we wouldn’t find a single thing more from this town’s residents.
I returned once more to the soul-less café terrace. When someone of large stature like me is around, the targets tend to be wary.
My role was that of a thinker.
There’s no doubt there’s some cause and effect going on in this land. That Valkyrie aside, this is the only place that’s incurred large damage from the Angels as of late.
After retiring from Boss Leigie’s army, I’ve been around, but that’s the only real change I’ve heard about.
“… As I thought, it’s really no good… Hah. It feels like I’m opening empty chest after empty chest.”
After executing another usurpation, Zeta let out a deep sigh of lament.
Oddly enough, his words were exactly the example thought of previously.
As if it had become a mere routine, I confirmed it with him.
“That was the tenth, right?”
And just like me, he gave a form answer.
“Yes… Those that saw it have slight differences, but those past nine were pretty much the… same…?”
In an instant, Zeta’s face trembled.
He turned pale, and his mouth opened and closed silently as he sought out the words. It definitely wasn’t a normal expression.
I instinctively rose, and met his eyes.
They were pointed at the air, and tracing the low sky that hung over the Demon World.
My thoughts changed. From a looped circuit, to a straight path.
“Deije… sa… tha…”
“… Oy, oy, is this for real… What trickery is this?”
There was a figure.
The form of a person emitting brilliant white radiance in the crimson sky. The large single pair of wings sprouting from his back were pure white.
Loved by God, and produced by him. The opposite side of the spectrum of Spirits from Demons.
In an instant, he expanded his power.
The complete opposite of the miasma Demons clad themselves in, an aura that could even be called holy was deployed across the ground.
My body trembled. My genetic memory, the emotions of fear carved into a Demon’s soul upon looking up at their executioners.
No matter how I looked at it, the Angel wasn’t even a hundred meters away.
This is strange. Why haven’t I noticed him when he’s come this close?
Angels are Demons’ arch nemesis. Their specific positioning is one thing, but if they approach, I should be able to realize it at once…
I restarted my frozen mind with willpower. Fine. What I have to think of right now isn’t something like that.
I slapped Zeta on the back to unfreeze him.
I laughed out loud.
I sneer. A maliciousness great enough to blow away this holy feeling.
“Ki ki ki, just when I thought there wasn’t a trail to be found, the man shows up personally… I’m in luck.”
Luckily, besides me and Zeta, there wasn’t anyone else around. The town was frighteningly silent. There’s plenty of space. I can fight with all my might.
I swiftly counted the figures decorating the sky.
“Ten… is it? They’re friggin’ multiplying.”
Each one’s individual power was, as expected, nothing too serious. Even including their affinity, they were much weaker than I. If I kept down this instinctual feeling of dread in my soul, they’re opponents I could wipe the floor with in ten minutes.
I firmly plant my feet on the ground, and build up power. So I can react no matter when or how they try to come, I optimize my soul.
The flock of Angels was ominously quiet, as they looked down on us. What floated in their eyes was pure and utter scorn. The eyes of those looking upon an inferior species.
Ki ki ki, I’m being made light of.
Is this their main force?
No, that’s probably not the case. This is them testing the waters.
The fact that ten came out after five is proof of that. Are they measuring the power of Demons?
Well, come out in as many dozens as you will. Greed has its own way of doing these things.
Zeta’s made himself more than useful enough.
Mental and physical labor.
Investigations and battle.
From here on, it’s my role.
“Ki ki ki, fall back.”
I open up the subspace warehouse of Greed.
Because of that unpleasant Lord of Greed I fought a year ago, it’s mostly empty. But a splendid article’s been left hanging.
It was a blade of fire said to have burned a fire dragon whose power rivalled Demon Lords to death.
I easily pull out the sword I had become accustomed to. As always, its crimson steel let off an explosive amount of magic, matching the sun blazing above it.
Demon Blade Celeste.
Once upon a time, it was a supreme treasure bestowed upon a certain Lazy King.
While me being the polar opposite of God, sensing me give off similar waves, the doll-like Angels’ expressions warped cruelly.
“Ki ki ki, don’t worry too much about it. I’m Avaritia. I won’t go as far as to take your lives.”
If you obtain one, you’ll wish for ten. Once you know ten, you’ll lust for a hundred.
I can’t be satisfied with just ten measly angels. Bring on a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand.
You guys ain’t the target of my desire, but I’ll sip you up all the same.
I lightly waved Celeste. The magic that overflowed from the edge took on the the shape of a flaming dragon, that shot out to pierce the wing of one of them.
And as that happened, the Angell’s body was covered in fire. He did a tail spin as he fell to the ground.
A thunderous roar.
The Angel’s large build collided, and the café’s roof let off quite a racket before caving in.
Wrapped in flames of legend, and Angel didn’t move at all, and I didn’t feel any more power from him.
I licked my lips. Just as I thought.
… Just one hit, it seems. They really aren’t anything special.
Below Knight Class even. Even if I didn’t pull Celeste, they’re at a level I could handle.
I directed the blade at the remaining flock. As if pierced by the thrust I gave in the air, the Angels swayed in the hollow air.
Should I hold back?
At the very least, I’ve got to leave one alive, or we won’t be able to take their memories.
But do I have enough leisure to accomplish something like that?
Can I render them powerless without killing them? The positional advantage lies with the Angels ruling over the sky.
Celeste’s output is too high. I’ll end up killing them.
Should I leap, and hit them to the ground? Can I do it? Avoid attacks in midair?
The moment those thoughts swirled around my head, the Angels’ powers swelled up explosively.
From their bodies, like steam, power, magic, divinity gushed out. The growing golden holy aura, even from the eyes of a Demon like me, seemed divine.
My body felt the sudden elevation of my enemy’s power, and I could grasp it in an instant.
Their powers were now in the higher tiers of Knight Class. Were they holding back up to now? To quantify it, they individually increased two fold for all five of them. That difference was exceedingly large.
But still, my superiority hasn’t been shaken.
The nine Angels held out their hands, as if to seek answers from the heavens.
They were quite clearly preparing an attack. To match that, I took a large swing with Celeste.
The Demon Flames grilled my arms. It’s the compensation for raising the blade’s power output.
Raising the output several times for a single strike, a pillar of flames rose from me.
I endured the pain akin to my body being torn apart and got the power under my control when a pillar of light from the Heavens came down on me.
The intensity of the light darkened my vision. Celeste’s crimson, and the Angels’ white clashed, and the resultant waves caused the café, and the houses around it to sway.
The three tables lined up alfresco were shot away all at once, and they shattered upon hitting the wall. Hiding behind me, Zeta lowered his body, as he looked up at the clash of light and fire.
An Angel gave a vulgar chuckle.
That bearing makes it so I can’t see them actually governing any Justice.
And the laugh was the faster of the two.
I understood when I first saw their Skill. These guys… without a doubt, they’re nothing to that Devouring Lord.
Ki ki ki, no I guess I picked the wrong target to compare.
Back when my attack clashed with that of a certain Zebul Glaucus’, it was pure opposition. I didn’t hold back, and I didn’t have the leisure to do so.
No matter how much power I poured into it, I wouldn’t push forward at all, as if I was dealing with an absolute wall. It was as if the entire world was my opponent, and I wasn’t able to stop the fear in my heart, but these guys are different.
“… Well, I guess that all there is to it.”
I swung Celeste again. With just that, the dragon of fire’s force increased, and it swallowed up the light all too easily to scorch the heavens.
It shot through the very center of their formation, and a number of Angels were instantly burnt black before falling to the earth.
The laughter from the sky ceased.
An Angel’s form didn’t differ too much from a Demon’s. With shapes that took after the human race, their ivory-white vestments fluttered in the wind. Their glass ball-like colorless eyes followed their falling comrades. But in them, there wasn’t an expression of fear or impatience.
… Even when half of them had fallen.
… Just what is this feeling?
Even Angels are supposed to have emotions. For them to be this inorganic…
Feeling an unfamiliar sense of dread, I held Celeste aloft.
At the same time, the Angels spread out.
They flew out in every direction. I wouldn’t say their speed was higher than that of a Demon’s, but there’re no set roads in the sky. No obstacles either.
The air is their playground. Their mobility is exceedingly high.
The crimson blade cried out.
The directionless swirl of Mana flashes out once more to cover the sky.
Celeste is demanding fuel. Even if it’s a sword, it’s an article manufactured by Demons. A single blade birthed for the purpose of opposing God. Its personality is the worst.
The flames raging on left and right flew out at a speed that the heavenly wings were unable to surpass.
The Angels that split into five directions were burned, and one fell to the ground.
The difference in power was all too clear.
The difference in equipment, as long as I had Celeste was my overwhelming victory, and the situation transpired with that advantage on my side.
The moment I was able to bat down their Iustitia Skills so easily, my victory was certain.
I ignored the painful heat feedback from the sword, and licked my lips.
“… Something’s wrong with this picture.”
It’s not as if there was no resistance. And the presence of the Angel that fell to the ground had definitely faded out.
But, still… right, if I had to say, then I’m simply unsatisfied with it. I can’t see what their intentions were.
Perhaps this was what Zeta felt when he was fruitlessly nabbing all those memories.
I brushed away an arrow of light from up high with Celeste.
The Angel that had lay in wait to use a Skill was burnt to cinders.
… Three of them left.
An even greater chill than before came over my body.
“Deije… san… these guys are…”
“… Seriously, what trickery is this…”
Dazzling lights blocked out the sky.
The air was astir. On the power opposing a Demon’s base, a wave of divine magic made the world shake, as if it were crying out beneath it.
Enough to make that previous display of power look like mere child’s play. If I had to compare the scopes of power, it must be at least ten times of that before.
Meaning from when I first saw that group from before, it was twenty times higher.
It’s like an army of ten Angels becoming two hundred.
Against an opponent of this scale, even with a General here, I can’t make a definity judgement on the outcome.
But that’s not where the problem is. What I have to care about isn’t something useless like that.
The extent of how far their power had fluctuated from the starting point went against an Angel’s nature.
That was the strangest thing I had to put my mind to.
“That can’t be… it can grow that much? Were they hiding their true power? No, there shouldn’t be any meaning behind suppressing it all the way up to here…”
The Angel remnants numbered three. But every one of them was clad in a dreadful divinity.
Rank-wise, they had far surpassed Knight, and if they were Demon, they’d be in General range without a doubt.
I’m not sure when they appeared, but the three Angels drew white swords from their hips.
It’s a Skill I’ve seen some place, sometime before.
Right, those are the holy swords the Angels of Justice used in the war back then.
An Iustitia Skill
It isn’t a Knight-class Skill.
Emitting light, the heavenly wings flapped. Rise, glide, and descend.
The speed they came down was fitting of the term Godspeed. It’s been said that high ranking Angels move at the speed of light, but these ones are reasonably fast themselves.
Perhaps they thought they were at a disadvantage in a long-range battle. The demon-slaying sword of light entered my field of vision.
It was as if it were a coordinated attack. Only the prideful smiles plastered on their faces indicated that this action was nothing of the sort.
Their fighting style was crude. No techniques or anything. But only in power alone did they excel.
I don’t even have the time to let out a sigh.
“… Well, well, this is getting to be a pain.”
Against an Avaritia Demon, what’s more, against me, they contest with swordplay?
The sword of justice coming at my eyes went out in an instant.
In my lower-left hand, I could feel the sensation of gripping a new weapon. Upon seeing his weapon suddenly vanish from within his hand, the Angel froze up for a moment, and I slashed upwards at him with the stolen sword.
Even when turned against its wielder, the Sin Breaker showed its power without a moment’s regret.
I put strength into my lower body to stop his bullet-like kinetic energy. The arm that swung the sword felt a heavy burden.
As he already flapped his wings to retreat, while his body received a deep slash wound, he still returned high into the air.
As he shot up, I delivered a follow-up swing, and even with the light to his back, I could clearly see the face of terror dawn on him. Unlike when the others were burned up by Celeste, a look of despair swept over his face several times before he ceased.
With a thud, the power-less angel’s body rolled along the ground.
He was definitely strong. If I took that divinity head on, there’s no way I’d get away unhurt.
But that’s all. I just don’t have to take it head on. Generally, both Angels and Demons place an emphasis on offense rather than defense.
Meaning those rare exceptions that specialized in defense- such as Boss Leigie- aside, the rest of us had to dodge in order to survive.
But these guys don’t even have a sense for that.
It’s a complete mismatch. Their power isn’t matching their battle experience.
They’re not even measuring their opponent’s attribute, and their attacks are nothing but sheer stupidity.
That’s why even without weapons, I should be able to drop them easily. Using melee weapons against Greed is pretty much asking for them to be stolen. It’s because there are plenty of those sorts of Skills on the Avaritia Skill Tree.
It’s by no means a bad thing for me that the enemy’s weak.
While I may have the instincts for battle, I’m not a battle junkie like that Heard Lauder. If I can easily attain results, then there’s nothing better.
“… Two left.”
“Deije-san… you sure are strong…”
“The enemy’s just weak.”
I lightly returned Zeta’s words. They’re my honest feelings. This can’t be all there was to those wars with Heaven.
The remaining two were suspended in the air.
Male Angels. As if they had been mechanically mass produced, two similar face, four eyes in total, glared at me.
What was there was either hatred or sorrow.
Two high class Angels.
But I don’t get the feeling I’ll lose against them.
I’ll take down the first one, apprehend the second one, and have Zeta take his memories.
General Class or not, we’ll just take everything.
What’s the problem? ‘Tis but a simple matter. Compared to over ten thousand years of hell.
I gripped Celeste strongly again.
My arm had already become quite burnt by its aura. It’s compensation. The feedback to its wielder.
Those that use the blade to its limits are fated to be reduced to ash. It’s a legend with no proof to back it, but the blade was clad in a force devilish enough to give it some credibility.
I haven’t fallen enough to have to rely on it to that extent.
With a sneer an Angel raised a disciplinary voice.
It was an irritating high cry that howled in the back of my ears. Unable to bear it, Zeta covered his ears, and squatted on the spot.
The world was shaking. Rumbling. Oscillating.
But it’s not as if anything was truly moving. It was a wave of divinity great enough to give off that illusion.
The Demon World’s air was dyed. From jet black to pure white. Darkness to light.
Zeta’s eyelids convulsed at the abnormal situation, as he watched the figure of one of the Angels.
Just what the hell is this… I never heard anything about it.
No, could it be…
“It can rise… even further? Dammit…”
Making me see an illusion of the Angel’s body expanding, the passively released holy aura from them neither exceeded nor fell short of the pillar of light they released none too long ago.
Their rising power carved up the sky, and split the clouds.
The trembling of my body I had contained with the thoughts of battle started up once more, and I used everything in my power to put a halt to it once more.
The power I felt from the Angel completely surpassed mine at this point.
Vanity’s 『Abyss Zone』 eroded away, and shattered.
What expanded in its place was a pure and divine feeling. It was as if god’s blessings themselves were pouring down on the land in orbs of light, and a silver wind overwrote the lingering miasma.
From the increase in power, the Angel’s disposition went through a complete change.
From their meaningless holy aura, and expressions that gave off a somewhat manufactured feeling, to eyes in which dwelled strong fighting spirit.
“… Oy, oy, give me a break already…”
The Demon Lord Class doesn’t exist among Angels. But to identify those among them with Demon Lord level powers, the Angels of that rank were referred to as follows.
Demons and Angels were opposing souls.
Black and white. Darkness and light. Evil and good.
Therefore, through our very natures, we were always predestined to oppose one another.
Their existence was, among our natural enemies, the worst and greatest foe.
“Tsk, what the hell… a Lord descended to the Demon World!!?”
Lords have obligations. They have land. They have subjects. That didn’t change among Angels and Demons.
While Angels would occasionally drop by the Demon World, there’s barely a memory within me of a Lord coming down here.
I’m not sure if they were even listening to my words, as the Angel didn’t respond.
He merely silently pointed his extended finger, and gathered Mana into a single point of light.
My instincts as a soldier. My experience up to now made my body instinctively leap to the side.
In the next instant, the light was released. Its speed was close to pure light itself, and a high ranking Demon like me with enhanced perception couldn’t even follow its afterimage. It was overwhelmingly separated from that arrow of light aimed at me before, a power suited to a true Lord.
The light that missed me by chance bored into the café terrace, and after a brief moment, my body was assailed the lights and the sounds.
A thunderous roar rocked my eardrums, and my failing five senses were forcefully recovered with my anti-status-abnormality Skill.
I used my instincts to guide my falling body.
My field of vision spun.
I confirmed the form of Zeta’s injured body on the ground. It’s fine. Something of that extent won’t kill a Knight Class Demon.
I confirmed my own situation. It’s not like I took a direct hit from the attack, the shockwave from it merely hit me from behind, and this level of damage isn’t one that’ll hinder my movement.
Why, for what reason did a Lord of Angels descend to such a desolate place, I haven’t the slightest idea. I don’t even want to know.
My luck was in that I hadn’t let go of Celeste in that instant.
Greed Skills don’t have a high damage output. Losing the Demon Blade would definitely be a fatal loss.
And if I have this in my hands, then I stand a chance against a Saint Lord of Heaven.
My thoughts are become severely twisted from my chance meeting with my arch foe. The instincts shaking my very soul clear up my field of vision.
The light he shot from his finger. Its output and speed were definitely adequate for a Lord’s Skill.
I bent my legs to kill the impact, and corrected my stance.
My left hand held the 『Sin Breaker』.
My right, 『Celeste』.
As that fingertip pointed at me once more, I swung the Demon Blade.
The dragon of fire shot out to devour the Angel.
The light came down to annihilate me.
Celeste’s flames definitely had a wider scope, but the Angel’s blasts were all concentrated on a single point.
The light leisurely moved forward while ripping through the dragon’s innards. It was unable to stop its advance.
And as if to defend the gap in the Angel’s defense, the other Angel stepped forward.
In my fright, the power slackened for a moment. Using that, the light increased in speed.
I couldn’t even feel another presence that large until now, but the other one definitely gave off the same feeling as the first.
This can’t be… what’s the meaning of this? What the hell is going on!?
“Lord of Angels… two of them!?”
I could barely surmount the gap in power with one, yet I have to face both. The Lords that hadn’t shown their faces in ten thousand years were lining up as if I were having a nightmare.
I couldn’t discern a single thought from their expressions, and all I could really pick up was that they were determined to kill me.
It’ll only get worse at this rate. I leapt to the side, and the light finished its way through the dragon I lost control of to pierce the ground I was at before.
Even when I haven’t taken a single attack head on, my entire body was giving an aching pain.
Should I retreat?
Can I even retreat? Against these monsters?
Oddly enough, I began to recall when I withdrew from Boss Leigie’s army a year ago.
Fate. Is my fate going to cast me away here?
After having escaped that Demon Lord of Pride, Heard Lauder, I’m going to die here?
A sensation ran up from my toes to my head.
A dark heat pouring out of my soul gave strength to my body.
“K ki ki, interesting, ain’t it? If you think you can, then come at me.”
I held the Demon Blade above my head. The Lords of Angels cautiously took a step back.
Celeste’s flames were peerless. But in the end, a Demon Blade was still a sword at its base.
It was made in order to rend.
My soul continues to let off a dull pain.
I kicked the ground strongly, and thrust.
I twisted my body. I concentrated the entire kinetic energy of my frame into the blade, and threw.
The Demon blade became a crimson comet as it came at the Saint Lords. The magic it usually used to create large scale flames was all being concentrated on the tip, and this blow was definitely the highest I could release at the moment.
But without witing for the result, I ran over, and took up Zeta in my arms.
“Hah, hah… gu… are we running?”
“Ki ki ki, life’s only to be lived if you survive.”
Treasure and riches, you can pile up as much as you want as long as you live on. There isn’t even a point in equating them.
A high-pitched voice of song I took to be the Angels’ screams struck my ears. But without even learning of what effect it as supposed to carry, my status abnormality resistance activated, and erased it.
All that was left was to run. Angels possess frightening mobility, but if I take cover in a town, it will be a pain to search from the skies. There are plenty of places to hide.
And there was some merit to my flight.
There’s no way Vanity didn’t notice the fact that an Angel appeared here. In this case, his zone was even broken.
『Abyss Zone』 wasn’t just a Skill to offer enhancements to friendly troops.
It was an enlargement of a Demon Lord’s sense of perception. It let them sense if enemy troops even set foot on their lands.
If I can keep myself on my feet until the army arrives, it’s my win. If I’m found, I lose.
Ki ki ki, what a disadvantageous gamble.
While it may not be that wide, I’ll be completely out in the open on the main street. If they were to shoot that light at me from behind, it’s the end.
In the past week, I’ve gotten a map of the town into my head. Those guys shouldn’t be familiar with the place, and ironically enough, from our memory theft, we know all the points with few pedestrians, and bad visibility. Never thought it would aid in our own escape, though.
The moment I turned into a side alley, I noticed a figure collapsed at my feet.
With a khaki overcoat wrapped around their body, a Demon boasting a small build. At the same time, that form was one I’d gotten familiar with in this one week.
It was the Demon that was always hunched over the table at the café terrace. I was also there for quite a bit of time, so while there wasn’t a day I didn’t catch sight of him, I had started percieveing him as part of the background.
… Could it be this one was at the terrace?
Seeing the Demon still face down, and unmoving, I hesitated for a moment. But I didn’t have the time for that.
I resolved myself, and lifted the Demon up by the scruff of the neck.
I don’t really care, but leaving this one behind would go against my style.
I won’t call it good will, but if I had to say, it’s just a whim. In the first place, with my strength, carrying one or two doesn’t really make a difference, and because I cast away Celeste, I have an arm or two to spare.
I gripped his neck as if hoisting up a kitten, and when I lifted, the hood flew off.
Instinctively, I threw the Demon behind me with all my might.
Upon having the mass of Khaki chucked at them, the approaching Angels were brought to a momentary halt.
Atop my shoulder, Zeta cried out.
“W-what was that all about!? All of a sudden…”
“Like… hell… why…”
Just how should I express these thoughts racing through my head?
Terror. Surprise. Confusion. Amazement. All of them intermingled, but if I were to summarize it into a word, it would have to be ‘dumbfound’.
The two Angels whose presences I couldn’t sense.
The two Angel Lords.
The culmination of all the consecutive events beyond my wildest dreams.
Greater than angels, a miraculous nightmare.
I tried to open my mouth to convey it in words, but my thoughts wouldn’t come together. I didn’t know what to say.
I frantically moved my mouth, and what my seesawing emotions finally fell on was weariness.
“So even Boss Leigie’s… played his hand this time…”
I’m not sure what my mind was coming to, but the only image that floated in it was the form of a sluggish Lord of Sloth.