The heading at the top of the Spada newspaper issue dated the 27th of the Month of Platinum (Hakkin) reads in large letters:
『His Majesty, King Leonhart departs to rescue Third Princess Charlotte!』
It is a sensational heading, but this information was known in the city of Spada long before it was printed in this newspaper.
In the early hours of the 27th, a great number of citizens witnessed the impressive sight of a combination of the first and second battalions of Spada’s army,『Braveheart』and『Tempest』, passing along the main street and leaving for the frontlines through the main gate.
And immediately following that, the Adventurers’ Guild issued an emergency quest titled『Reinforcement of Iskia Village and Iskia Fortress』, so the situation became clear.
A powerful Rank 5 monster had appeared with a large monster army under its command. Iskia Village had been attacked.
However, the most unfortunate thing of all was that the students of the Royal Spada Academy had been conducting the customary open-field exercise in the Iskia Hills where the monsters had appeared.
The Third Princess Charlotte mentioned in the headline was only one of the prominent names involved. The First Prince of the neighboring country of Avalon, Nero Julius Elroad, Kai Est Galbraith and Safiel Maya Hydra of the Four Great Noble Houses of Spada as well as many sons and daughters of other, lesser-known noble families were also participating in this open-field exercise.
Everyone thought that the king leading the army out himself was the natural course of action to take. The people of Spada prayed for their safety.
And then the good news, which all of Spada had been anxiously waiting for, arrived on the 3rd of the Month of Blue Moon (Sougetsu).
『The Nightmare Berserker saves the academy students in Iskia!』
However, reading that heading on the Spada newspaper dated the 3rd caused question marks to appear over the heads of many of Spada’s citizens.
And then there was the heading on the next page.
『A Fairy and witch bishoujo combo saves Iskia Village!』
This only served to add more question marks.
If one read the article, they would learn that the academy students including the princess were safe, that Iskia Village had been saved and that this『Nightmare Berserker』and『Fairy and witch bishoujo combo』are adventurers who played a very large role in the emergency quest being completed successfully.
Their detailed backgrounds were completely unknown, but even so, every citizen in Spada understood that a new hero among the adventurers had been born.
High-pitched calls and deafeningly loud cheering echo out in front of Spada’s main gates.
The day after the article declaring that the emergency quest has been cleared was published, on the 4th of the Month of Blue Moon (Sougetsu), the students, the knights that were dispatched and the rumored trio of the berserker, Fairy and witch finally make a triumphant return to Spada.
A crowd of ten thousand people has gathered to catch a glimpse of these new heroes. It is just like the victory parades that happen after the Spada army successfully repels one Daidalos’s invasion attempts.
Among the surging waves of people, there is a single woman wearing the uniform of Spada’s Adventurer Guild.
「Kurono-ku~un! Where are yoooou?!」
There are only two people in Spada who add “kun” to the end of Kurono’s name. One of them is, of course, the beautiful, famous, elite receptionist Erina.
In front of her is a large man who appears to be deliberately blocking her view.
She is even using the precious time of the lunch break given to her by the Guild to be here. Erina glares at the back of the man’s bald head reproachfully.
The Knights’ Order who is leading everyone else has already passed through Spada’s prided, sturdy main gates and is proceeding along the main road, where people are lined up on both sides.
They were one step too slow in this incident, but they did make short work of the army of monsters in the areas around Iskia Village.
The cheers for the knights contain honest feelings of praise and respect. Many of the knights smile and wave their hands at the citizens cheering for them.
「Oh, look! The academy students are coming home!」
Behind the Knights’ Order, a row of academy students emerges through the main gate, and the cheering grows louder.
「K-Kurono-kun, where are –」
「FAAHAHAHA! I have made a miraculous return from the land of Iskia! My dear citizens of Spada, make sure you remember this legendary homecoming –」
「NOOO! I don’t care about the Delusional Prince!」
As the huge man in front of her shifts position suddenly, there is a gap that Erina can finally see through. She sees the prince standing on the roof of the Dragon carriage, laughing loudly.
It is not a luxurious parade carriage for royal use, but simply a Dragon carriage owned by the academy, used for long-distance travel. Of course, there are no handrails on its roof. It should not need to be said that one should not stand on it while it is moving, or even climb onto it in the first place.
Seeing the Second Prince Wilhart standing on the roof in a brazen, imposing stance as if he wants to stand out no matter what, Erina shouts these disrespectful words without thinking.
The reason she is not being dragged away by Law Guardians right now is likely because many of the other citizens gathered here are having similar thoughts.
He is regarded in such a way that his name didn’t even appear in the newspaper headline,『His Majesty, King Leonhart departs to rescue Third Princess Charlotte!』In such a way that people forget that the King has a second child, a son.
「OH! They’re here, it’s Wing Road!」
「KYAAH! Nero-sama, face this way!」
「I saw it! Just now, Nero-sama looked my way!」
As if completely forgetting the disappointing display of the Second Prince, the crowd stirs and female voices in particular suddenly grow louder.
First Prince Nero Julius Elroad is riding his Unicorn down the main road with his usual sullen expression.
Seeing the embodiment of a prince on a white horse, his fans let out incredibly loud cheers. Even the women who had no interest in him up until now have their eyes drawn to him as they see him in person for the first time, and in the next moment, their hearts might –
「Hmph, foolish little fan girls.」
Women who already have a special someone in their hearts aren’t swayed in the slightest, however.
「Oi! Princess Nell isn’t there!」
「What, is she inside that carriage?」
In contrast to the women, the men’s voices are full of discontent and doubt.
Nell Julius Elroad left Spada to rescue her older brother and her party members who were facing a crisis, and exterminated the monsters surrounding the fortress in a magnificent way. This information was printed in the newspaper.
The beautiful figure of the white-winged princess who should be praised as another hero is nowhere to be seen.
Behind Nero mounted on his Unicorn are his party members, Kai Est Galbraith and Safiel Maya Hydra.
And behind them is a single carriage; the people can guess that Princess Nell is inside it.
Its windows are covered by thick curtains, making it completely impossible to see inside.
If she were merely using the carriage as a method of transport, she could at least smile and wave through the window. The Third Princess who belongs to the royal family should understand that this kind of performance for the people is necessary in these kinds of events.
However, the fact that she isn’t doing so indicates that there are some unusual circumstances. With the window covered, the citizens of Spada have no way of knowing what those are. The men who have gathered here simply express their disappointment at the fact that they cannot see the beautiful princess.
And then the group of academy students passes.
「Oi, where is that Nightmare something guy?」
「It’s the Nightmare Berserker! Call him by his proper class name!」
「I came to see the bishoujo combo.」
「Are the Fairy and witch not here yet?」
Is the rumored trio trying to make a grand entrance? Just as the large crowd begins to suspect that this might be the case –
「Oi, look! That’s the –」
The first ones to see, of course, are the ones gathered right next to the main gate. The rumored adventurers have finally appeared – or seem to have; this is all that the crowd further along can tell.
The reason they are unsure is because no cheer suitable for welcoming the return of heroes is coming from the crowd. Not even simple thoughts like, “they look strong” or “they look cool” can be heard.
In other words, the ones who could see them have gone silent.
「Eh, wait, what is this cold response...」
Erina raises her voice in confusion at this unexpected phenomenon. Just what kind of entrance would be able to make this excited crowd fall silent?
As she wonders, the man in front of her moves again, allowing her to see.
In that spot, Erina sees –
The creature letting out a powerful, terrifying cry is a single large, black horse – no, this is a true Nightmare.
Its mane is flickering with an ominous black-red aura, as if it is alight with the flames of hell.
Its pitch-black body doesn’t look alive in the slightest, but as it slowly walks forward, everyone can see the power and inexhaustible stamina that it possesses.
And the one riding this black Nightmare is –
This man is Kurono. Even though nobody can hear Erina whisper his name, everyone knows this.
The appearance of the man straddling the terrifying Undead horse is also terrifying.
He has black hair, a black eye and even the clothes he is wearing are all black. He gives the crowd the impression that he is infinitely dark, as if he is wrapped in darkness itself.
The only thing about him that isn’t black is his blood-red left eye and the bare right arm, where his sleeve has been destroyed.
The glint in the unusual black-and-red odd-colored eyes is sharp enough to scare away the demons of hell with one glare.
His expression is grim, as if his sworn enemy is right before his eyes, and he only looks straight ahead. He has a detached air about him, as if he cannot even see the large crowd that has gathered here. It feels like if one were to call out to him, he would cut them down in the next instant.
In fact, the right arm whose hand is gripping the reins of the Nightmare is as sturdy as a statue depicting a legendary warrior of Spada. The newspaper article contained incredible information that readers couldn’t decide whether or not to believe, such as「he dual-wields greatswords」,「he threw a thirty-meter-long monster」and「he killed a Rank 5 monster bare-handed」, but his appearance now is enough to make everyone believe that it is all true.
However, for Erina who is close enough to Kurono to call herself his friend, she isn’t surprised by his appearance.
「Eh, no way, that’s...」
What surprises her is that Kurono is surrounded by two girls, the rumored『Fairy and witch bishoujo combo』, no less.
Indeed, Kurono isn’t the only one riding the Nightmare; the two of them are riding on the same horse on either side of him, one in front of him and one behind.
The one sitting in front is the Fairy. However, it is more appropriate to call her a young girl than a bishoujo.
She has shining, long, platinum-blonde hair and white skin. With round, emerald-colored eyes, she is indeed beautiful, but she looks like she needs another ten years of physical growth to be called a shoujo.
But the two pairs of wings on her back show that she is a Fairy; her body does not develop at the same speed as a human’s.
The left hand that isn’t holding the black reins is wrapped around the Fairy’s small body.
The contrast between the evil-looking appearance befitting of a man belonging to the berserker class and the Fairy whose cuteness is worthy of the Fairy race is so extreme that the crowd is simply confused to see the two of them together.
One can only assume that the Fairy has been taken hostage, but she is wearing a childish, innocent smile and waving her leaf-like hand. The silent people lack the composure to respond to her.
But what catches Erina’s attention is not the small girl, but the other person sitting behind Kurono.
「I-I see how it is... Witch Fiona, you are the likely winner, aren’t you...?」
She is truly a bishoujo, a beautiful woman.
Anyone in Spada would say that her characteristic black clothing belongs to a witch. Erina has a good idea who she is, seeing her three-cornered hat and black robe.
Erina saw the information on the Guild Cards of Kurono’s allies submitted for Kurono’s Ranking-up procedure, and she remembers it accurately. She knows that the Fairy-class Lily, Witch-class Fiona and Berserker-class Kurono form the adventurer party『Element Masters.』
However, because Erina has never actually seen Kurono together with them, she had forgotten that they existed.
Thinking back carefully, she remembers seeing the distinct characteristics of the Fairy and witch at the academy district branch of the Adventurers’ Guild that she works at.
And now she finally sees this party together for the first time, but one glance tells her that their relationship is not merely that of allies – Indeed, Fiona is clinging tightly to Kurono’s back.
It is not simply because they are both riding on the same horse. Fiona is not straddling the horse’s back, but sitting elegantly with her legs to one side.
One arm is firmly wrapped around Kurono’s waist, and the upper half of her body that is covered in her black robe is leaning against his broad, sturdy back. She is like a princess who has been chosen by a prince on a white horse.
However, the mysterious-looking beautiful face that features golden eyes and light-blue hair looks blank and incredibly sleepy.
It is not the ecstatic expression befitting of a maiden in love. However, the fact that she is sitting behind Kurono as if it is only natural for her do so stirs Erina’s jealousy.
That witch shows no sign of interest in the crowd welcoming them and seems bored as she presses her body against Kurono’s back. Erina is a smart woman, which is exactly why she doesn’t want to think about how close the two of them have to be for Fiona to cling to him so naturally.
「Grr... I won’t lose either –」
「Oh, ooh! Is that the Greed-Gore?!」
「Uooh! It’s huge!」
As Erina begins feels strong hostility towards the witch who appears to be showing off her relationship with Kurono, the crowd stirs once more.
The Greed-Gore, a ferocious Rank 5 monster. As if to prove that it was the Nightmare Berserker’s fierce fighting that brought it down, its enormous corpse appears right behind Kurono.
Four Land Dragons are pulling a vehicle so large that it can barely fit through Spada’s largest gates.
The object secured on top of the special load-carrying platform appears to look like an enormous, reddish-brown boulder.
However, if one looks carefully, it clearly resembles a bipedal, carnivorous dinosaur. It has short front legs in place of arms, powerful rear legs that it used to travel across the ground and a long tail. However, the ferocious head that is supposed to be there is nowhere to be seen.
In the newspaper article, it was written that the Greed-Gore’s head had been cut off.
Everyone understood that the monster’s head belongs to Kurono as he is the one who defeated it, and at the same time, they feel renewed fear at the seemingly bottomless hidden strength that he possesses.
Even the people of Spada, whose culture places great value on strength, simply shiver in the overwhelming presence Kurono radiates.
「Kuu~ So cool! Kurono-kun is the coolest!」
With the exception of a small portion of Spadan women.