When I suddenly wake up, I see an open black space – no, a throne.
「This is the Avalon royal castle of the Elroad Empire, isn’t it...?」
「Precisely. Welcome, Kurono Maou. I have been growing tired of waiting for your second visit to this place.」
On the black throne that looks like someone has compressed pure darkness to build it, there sits a lovely child who doesn’t seem to belong in such a grand place.
The child is wearing military clothes that resemble a school uniform, and a large cape that reaches all the way to the floor. His appearance is exactly how it was the last time I was here.
Yes, the ancient Demon King, Mia Elroad, has appeared in order to bestow new divine protections upon me.
「I’m glad you’ve recognized my victory over the trials.」
「Of course; it was a splendid battle to behold!」
Wearing a smile that covers his entire face, the Demon King claps his hands in applause. The sound of a single person’s applause echoing in this incredibly spacious place only adds to its sense of emptiness. Could it be that he is being sarcastic with his praise?
「Certainly not; your simultaneous victory over the second and third trials was beyond my expectations.」
Never mind the sarcasm; I feel like he’s lying straight to my face.
「I’d like you to stop looking at me with such distrustful eyes. The trials are generated just as I explained to you before.」
Even as a god, he cannot interfere with fate; everything is the result of nature running its course. That’s what he told me.
「But I suppose I can’t blame you for doubting me. These trials placed your friends in great danger, after all.」
Indeed; the things I feared when I was awarded the first divine protection came true straight away.
I’m not reluctant to accept the trials. But I don’t want anyone to get involved in my battles with such dangerous monsters, let alone my friends and acquaintances – No, the Greed-Gore’s army killed a significant number of people at both the village and the fortress.
If those people died because they were caught up in my trials, then... No, let’s stop thinking about this. There’s no end to my doubts, and there’s no way to prove if I’m right or not.
What I need to be doing right now is thanking Mia, not doubting him.
「Thanks to the first divine protection, I was able to protect everyone. Thank you so much for giving this power to me.」
「Fufu, you’re a kind person, aren’t you? That’s how you even deceived my descendant.」
「I haven’t deceived her!」
What a shrewd way of looking at it. I genuinely deepened my friendship with Nell; that’s such an unfair way of saying it.
I don’t think Mia will listen to anything I say, though. He’s smiling maliciously.
「Actually, how do you even know about my relationship with Nell?」
「After flirting so much in front of everyone, I think it’s more unreasonable for you to expect me not to suspect these things.」
「No, I didn’t flirt with her, did I?」
「Well, the two of you did arrive at Iskia Fortress on the same horse.」
「We had no other way of getting there.」
「You did embrace Nell-chan after she Dispelled the monster army.」
「That’s because she was about to collapse from using all of her mana.」
「Ah, that reminds me, at the Grand Coliseum you left the arena holding Nell in a princess-carry, didn’t you?」
「I’m sorry, I got ahead of myself...」
Back then, I acted with no hesitation, but now that it’s been pointed out to me, it’s incredibly embarrassing.
「It’s fine; as a god and as her ancestor, I’m not so uncouth as to comment on the love affairs of others.」
「Call it friendship, please. Well, Nell is so kind and defenseless that even I might misunderstand it, though.」
「Mhmm, I won’t say anything.」
Mia decides not to comment. I wonder if there’s any further meaning in my words that sound somewhat like excuses. Still, there’s no need for him to avert his eyes so blatantly, is there?
「Still, to think that you were even watching the tournament.」
「I’m a god, after all. I see everything!」
I see, he has been solemnly watching over me from this throne room, or maybe from some truly godlike position above the clouds.
I’m sure he hasn’t been acting like a spectator enjoying the show while munching on popcorn.
「Well then, I suppose I’ll have you show me the proof that you have overcome the trials.」
Now it’s finally the real deal. It was explained to me before that certain parts of the monsters are needed as proof. This time, I’ve prepared the proof properly on my own.
This place appears to be in my dreams, but it seems that my Shadow Gate is still connected to reality.
From my open shadow I summon the body pieces that I dissected from the corpses beforehand.
「The Greed-Gore’s jaw and the Sloth-Gil’s spine, these are the correct parts, right?」
What looks like a lump of red rock plunks down in front of me – but this is actually the Greed-Gore’s jaw. To be more precise, it’s the lower jaw. The sharp, densely-packed, upwards-pointing fangs almost make me relive the fear of this mouth trying to devour me.
Though I say I dissected the jaw, it’s still covered in flesh and carapace; I simply separated it from the upper jaw.
The other piece of proof, the Sloth-Gil’s spine, is just clean bone, like a specimen.
Right after I shot the Sloth-Gil in the head, the purple lightning surrounding its body disappeared completely, leaving only the skeleton of a Lamia, a monster with a human’s head, arms and torso for the top half and a snake’s tail for the bottom half.
I just had to detach the lower part of its body from the bottom of its collapsed skull, a much easier task than cutting away the Greed-Gore’s enormous lower jaw. If Lily and Fiona hadn’t helped me with that, it would definitely have taken me a lot of time.
「I accept these two pieces of evidence, the『Jaw of Greed』and『Spine of Sloth.』」
Like the Wrath-Pun’s『Fist of Wrath』, they shine brightly before crumbling away. The『Jaw of Greed』shines orange while the『Spine of Sloth』glitters purple, and they both fade away as if being absorbed by Mia, who is sitting in the throne.
I have now offered these to him, which means my body should already contain the second and third divine protections. When I wake up from this dream, I’m sure I’ll discover some new abilities.
I can already imagine what they could be.
The Greed-Gore of Greed was a monster of the earth element, while the Sloth-Gil of Sloth was a monster of the lightning element. I’m sure I’ll be able to be able to artificially transform my black magical energy into these elements.
But the Demon King’s divine protections have other powers.
「Fufu, it seems that you understand what powers the next divine protections will grant you.」
「Yeah. As well as『Force Boost』, I learned a little about modern magic* from Nell.」
That’s right, if I base my spells on modern magic spell formulas, I’ll find the answers naturally.
「Well then, putting all pretenses aside, I suppose I can at least tell you their names. Using『Overdrive』is still dangerous for you; you need practice, don’t you?」
「Thanks, I’ll work hard – Ah, that reminds me...」
Hearing the word “practice”, I remember one more thing.
「Hmm, what is it?」
Mia tilts his head in an adorable way, just like how Lily does in her child form. I frankly express my concerns without hiding anything.
「Actually, I heard from Will that there’s going to be a victory parade when we return to Spada. I was wondering what I need to do.」
「I see, you did play a very important part in the victory, after all!」
Rescuing the students and defeating the Greed-Gore weren’t things that I achieved on my own, but I do realize that I’m the one who played the most outstanding role. And unlike with the Wrath-Pun, I did finish it off properly, too.
This incident was on such a scale that the king personally led the knights out to rescue the students. Since I was the one who led us to victory, I would be the main part of the parade. Will fiercely insisted that he would make me the main part of it, so I couldn’t refuse.
Of course, it’s not like I’m completely against it. I suppose if you’re a man, you aspire to be a hero.
「A victory parade, huh. That takes me back.」
Mia-chan says this with a distant look in his eyes.
I wonder if he’s reliving his old glory. To me, he just looks like a young child basking in the happy memory of going to an amusement park.
However, Mia is the legendary Demon King who, in the distant past, made many triumphant returns after victories in battle.
「I thought that you would have plenty of experience when it comes to parades, Mia, so I was hoping to get a piece of advice.」
「Yes, that was a good decision, Kurono Maou. Even though it’s a victory parade, the festivity can be embarrassing. You can’t let it get to your head and make a peace sign or anything like that, okay?」
「You made a peace sign?」
The Demon King turns his head away and exercises his right to remain silent. Ah, he made a peace sign. I’m sure he made double peace signs with a self-satisfied look on his face.
「Anyway! If you’re the main part of the parade, you have to act the part properly!」
As Mia boldly stands up from his throne, suddenly full of enthusiasm, I can’t help but to feel a little defeated.
He doesn’t have to get so serious, I was just hoping that he could teach me a little trick or something to help me prepare, but...
「Alright, well then, I will train you so that you won’t feel embarrassed no matter what parade you take part in! I won’t let you return until we’re finished!」
「A-are you serious...」
Thus, I gratefully receive the personal instruction of the Demon King in order to learn how to act in a victory parade.
But, well, I suppose the real thing will go perfectly after this. There’s no doubt that the people of Spada welcoming us will be cheering and clapping loudly.
「Now then, take one, here we go!」