Unconscious students are lying on the hard ground of the Royal Spada Academy’s prided colosseum.
「W-what on earth is going on…」(Helen)
Helen, the eldest daughter of the Azrael family that is one of Avalon’s Twelve Noble Houses, whispers dumbfoundedly as she looks at the bodies that are scattered across the ground.
As if taking no notice of her trembling, a man’s cold voice reverberates throughout the circular space of the arena.
A man wearing the same black academy uniform as the other students is standing in the center of the arena. However, on the inside, that man is a monster with unimaginable power.
「I-I’ll go!」(Male student)
One of the followers that Helen has brought here in large numbers – no, one of Nell’s guards, steps forward.
A male student of the knight course, holding a standardized wooden sword used for swordsmanship training, gives a shout and begins his charge.
His stance and the speed of his movement can be called exceptional for a knight cadet, but –
A line of black fire flashes across the open space. A flower of purple lightning bursts.
The number of victims collapsed in the arena increases by one.
Helen’s beautiful, elegant face is filled with bitterness, impatience and some kind of fear. Everyone can tell how she feels, but everyone remains silent. Finally, nobody volunteered to step forward.
「What’s wrong? Are you done already?」(Kurono)
The man’s flat-toned voice expresses no dissatisfaction at the lack of challengers; he is simply confirming that there are indeed no more. But the black-and-red gaze that pierces straight through Helen is endlessly sharp and cold.
Kurono. That is the name of this demon.
The cunning man who deceived the beloved Princess Nell, and yet dares to desire the brilliant glory of being the hero of Iskia.
Helen has been wary of Kurono for a long time. To be more precise, ever since he instigated trouble in the dining hall. Kurono’s behavior is problematic in itself, but the most problematic thing of all is that the pure princess who is overflowing with kindness shows no caution whatsoever; in fact, she approaches dangerous people of her own will.
Helen knows that this has caused Nell’s older brother, Prince Nero, to sense that Nell was greatly at risk. That is why Helen felt no need to act up until now. Nero, the true, flawless hero, the one who will become the next generation’s king and lead the nation of Avalon, was constantly at Nell’s side. Everything could be entrusted to him.
However, when the knight that protected the princess was separated from her for a short while –
「Kurono-san isn’t that kind of person!」(Nell)
「Kurono-san is my important friend. Please stop speaking ill of him.」(Nell)
Helen would never forget the 24th of the Month of Platinum (Hakkin). Sensing that disturbing events were occurring, she made up her mind and scolded the princess, and that was the result.
Helen had never felt as much regret as she did at that point in time. Nell had already been caught in Kurono’s poisonous fangs.
Officially, she was nothing more than a school friend, a classmate to Nell. She had no way to stop Nell after that.
She couldn’t stop Nell’s participation in the tournament involving terrible cursed weapons, nor could she stop Nell from using the『Scale of White Wings』, one of Avalon’s national treasures, for Kurono’s sake.
And now she is in that state after returning from Iskia Fortress.
Of course, as Helen lives in the same women’s dormitory, she has visited Nell numerous times. And every time she saw Nell’s lifeless, doll-like eyes, she felt a deep sadness that was as if her heart was being torn to shreds, and one thought runs through her mind: Kurono cannot be forgiven.
What happened in Iskia between Nell and Kurono is still unclear, as Nell herself never speaks about it. But knowing that Kurono is the cause of her current state is enough.
This man who is the cause of Princess Nell’s sorrow cannot be forgiven. Helen was determined enough to throw away her pride as a knight to carry out this lynch-like attack.
Helen was burning with rage, but she had never underestimated Kurono’s ability. He has the achievement of defeating a Rank 5 monster to his name.
Even the exchange students from Avalon who have exceptional academic records cannot overcome their limits as students. There wasn’t even a sliver of a chance at any of them defeating Kurono one-on-one.
But no matter how powerful Kurono is, fatigue would accumulate if he fought battle after consecutive battle. Fatigue would weaken his attacks, slow his movements and affect his judgment. If he ran out of mana, not only spells but also martial skills would not function properly.
Even though these elite guards couldn’t match up to Kurono in strength, they were full of fighting spirit granted to them by their loyalty to Nell and their anger towards Kurono. At least one of them was sure to last long enough to land a blow.
However, there are only defeated guards in front of Helen. None of them have even been able to get in range of Kurono to connect with their wooden swords, let alone landed a blow.
Kurono is standing upright in a defenseless position, holding his own wooden sword in one hand with no proper stance. But once he attacks, his target would be struck down in one hit by his mysterious black lightning magic without any opportunity to retaliate.
Helen wasn’t bothered about the first couple of people to suffer this fate. An offensive spell powerful enough to defeat enemies in a single hit, cast with no incantation or casting motion, wouldn’t be possible to cast consecutively too many times. It was their aim to cause him fatigue, so having him use powerful magic was exactly what they had hoped for.
But it seems that Kurono wants to cut the number of Nell’s guards gathered here in half. Twenty, no, thirty of them are already unable to fight any further.
In other words, even after thirty consecutive battles, Kurono has a cool expression on his face without even having run out of breath. There is no sign of the mana emitted from his body growing weaker.
「Just what kind of stamina do you have…?」(Helen)
Kurono’s class is Berserker. Judging from the fact that he chose to use a wooden sword instead of a staff designed for use in practice battles, it is not a mage-type class.
With that being the case, he must have beaten the Greed-Gore to death with martial skills as his core method of fighting, with magic to support it. Despite being someone who has been acknowledged as a Rank 5 adventurer, the amount of mana he possesses shouldn’t be as much as that of a first-class mage.
Helen already understands that her assumptions were completely off the mark. But even though she understands this, there is nothing she can do about it.
What could be done against a berserker who can consecutively cast spells that defeat enemies in a single hit with an endless supply of mana? Even if this question was asked to people other than Helen who has lost her composure due to her frustration, none would be likely to give an answer.
Who would be able to come up with a way to overcome an undefeatable foe in a situation where running away is not an option?
Indeed, Helen is in the mental state of a general of a defeated army who cannot escape.
「Oi, if you tell me that’s all you’ve got, I’m going to go back, you know?」(Kurono)
As if growing tired of waiting in this long silence, Kurono speaks in a bored tone.
「W-wait! I will be your next opponent!」(Helen)
The Azrael house is a family of dragon knights who serve Avalon’s royal family. Helen didn’t possess the talent to become a dragon knight herself, but it has been decided that she would serve as a mage of the Knights’ Order.
If this is going to end in a pitiful, crushing defeat, then she wants to at least step forward and challenge Kurono herself before she falls.
As a noble, she has the resolve to bear full responsibility for this lost battle.
The one responsible for this duel is Helen herself. There was a rising discontent with Kurono among the guards, but as the captain of the guards, the cause of this suggestion/plan/action to purge Kurono is none other than her.
「You don’t have you push yourself, you know.」(Kurono)
It is unlikely that she looks very outraged right now. She has noticed it herself, the unconscious trembling of her body. There is no doubt that her facial expression is also full of fear, far from an expression of bravery.
Even so, she has steeled her resolve, but this man has even gone as far as to point out her fear. He is trampling over her determination; this is the act of a demon.
「If you tell me we’re doing this, then I’ll do it…」(Kurono)
As she trembles in fear of her imminent defeat, none of the guards can laugh at her for being a coward. Even though it is supposed to be a duel, it is nothing more than a mock battle. Nobody’s lives are on the line. Thinking about it normally, this is the case.
However, her opponent is a cunning demon who deceived the princess of an entire nation. Even though Helen is the daughter of a noble family of Avalon, challenging someone to a battle with an advantage in numbers is an outrageous act. In other words, it is no different from a criminal act. It is likely that Kurono is aware of this.
If it were possible to crush Kurono with strength alone, there would be no problems. It would be overlooked and hushed up. But what would happen if she were crushed by his strength instead?
Kurono has the opportunity to seize the initiative under these circumstances. Their positions would be reversed; this time, it would be his turn to do the threatening. No, that situation is already about to begin.
That is why Helen will at least make herself the only loss, as the perpetrator of this incident. That is her responsibility as a noblewoman, as a knight and, above all, as the captain of Princess Nell’s guards.
Helen has already prepared herself. She is prepared to be defeated; in other words, she is offering herself to Kurono.
As the daughter of a strict noble family, she was supposed to firmly protect her chastity until she married, but if the evil Tentacle Man so wishes, with her pure body, he can…
「Well then, everyone who’s left is free to all come at me at once, too.」(Kurono)
The demon murmurs.
「The difference in our strengths is clear now, isn’t it? If you don’t do that, it won’t be a fair fight. And also, this is a waste of time.」(Kurono)
Kurono whispers as if thinking about how truly disappointing things turned out even though he took the time to skip class to do this.
「What did you say…?」(Helen)
If they all attack at once, it might be possible – no, the moment after this thought occurs to her, Helen realizes.
This is a trap. There is no doubt that this is the demon’s plan to show them a glimmer of hope that they can win, only to plunge them into the very bottom of the depths of despair.
Helen cannot help but to admire the acting ability of Kurono that allows him to suggest this so naturally. It is likely that this is how he deceived Princess Nell.
But even though she understands this, she has no choice but to accept his suggestion. Either way, continuing to fight one-on-one will inevitably lead to defeat. In order to increase their chance of victory by even the most miniscule amount, they have no other choice but to attack with everything they have.
「… You are sure that this is fine? Since you have said that much, we cannot show you any mercy.」(Helen)
「Yeah, come at me as if you mean to kill me.」(Kurono)
As Kurono speaks with a calm expression that doesn’t show the slightest sign of being prepared to die, the anger that had been dying down reignites.
「Everyone, ready yourselves! Prepare to charge!」(Helen)
With this Avalon-style battle command, the guards’ fighting spirit that had been deteriorating returns in full force.
Even without Helen giving detailed orders, a battle formation is quickly prepared with those of the Knight and Swordsman classes at the front and the Archer and Mage classes at the back.
There are management cadets among the guards gathered here as well as those enrolled in the regular adventurer course. Naturally, they have no experience or training in fighting all together like this.
Even so, their battle formation has no flaws and in the blink of an eye, they have surrounded Kurono, ready to exterminate him. Each of them are displaying their exceptional skills.
Wooden swords are held firm. Incantations for offensive spells are loudly recited.
The arena is now saturated with mana and the intent to kill.
In the midst of this tense atmosphere, Helen, who is holding a staff with a fireball lit at its end, finally gives the command.
With vigor that is not at all inferior to that of real knights, the guards begin their violent attack – and in that moment, Kurono whispers a few words.
「Bullet Arts – Full Burst.」(Kurono)