「… The ancient Demon King, Mia Elroad, isn’t it?」
「Welcome to the continent of Pandora, White Hero Abel.」(Mia)
As there is no meaning in concealing his identity any longer, the man in the gray robe removes his hood. His exposed face is that of a masculine, handsome man with shining blonde hair and blue-and-black odd-colored eyes. He is the second Apostle, who has traveled a great distance to the continent of Pandora after receiving the prophecy*.
「I never expected that I could witness this.」(Abel)
「The same goes for me. I never thought I would see a hero act like an assassin.」(Mia)
He faced the young child with black hair and red eyes. One of the black gods, the ancient Demon King, Mia Elroad.
「It is only in legends that heroes shine. There is no glory in the path I walk; there never has been, nor will there ever be.」(Abel)
「You’re a serious person, aren’t you. There’s not a single good thing that will come out of serving that kind of god, you know?」(Mia)
「I have known that for a hundred years.」(Abel)
The hero and Demon King both have cynical smiles on their faces.
「So, what will you do? Are you still planning to take this child’s life?」(Mia)
Mia asks this question while looking straight at Abel, not even glancing at Nero who has collapsed on the ground.
「It seems my guess was incorrect; there is no meaning in killing him now. And I cannot even touch him at this point, can I?」(Abel)
「As expected, it seems that becoming the second Apostle causes your perception to become extraordinary. If you had stepped forward one more centimeter, I would have been able to shoot you down for trespassing on the Elroad Empire’s territory.」(Mia)
This place is unmistakably a plaza in Spada’s academy district. But at the same time, it is also the dominion of the ancient Elroad Empire.
「An Apostle wouldn’t do something as foolish as stepping into the territory of another religion’s god.」(Abel)
Indeed, Mia is one of the black gods. The moment he appeared, that place turned into a god’s realm.
Gods cannot directly interfere with the real world that people live in. But naturally, in the world of the gods, they are able to exercise all of their powers without limit. No matter how strong a person is, there is no way someone with a mortal body can defeat a god.
Nothing about the plaza’s appearance or scenery has changed, but a phenomenon that transcends dimensions has taken place.
Beyond an invisible line that is a centimeter in front of Abel’s foot is the world of the gods, subject to divine laws. The place he stands is still within the real world that has been constructed by natural laws.
This plaza has now become a boundary between the realm of man and the realm of gods.
「Well then, I’d be grateful if you just leave quietly now.」(Mia)
「That was my intention from the beginning. If that prince is not the new Demon King, I do not have any other leads. I will leave Spada tomorrow morning.」(Abel)
「I’m glad you’re honest, so I’ll let you go with one Black Ballista.」(Mia)
With a carefree smile on his face, Mia finishes speaking. At that moment, the hero Abel’s chest bursts open. There was no incantation for an offensive spell or any casting motion. There wasn’t any sign of a spell being cast at all. In fact, the explosion was so sudden that it would be easier to assume that Abel had cast Apoptosis* on himself.
Burnt pieces of flesh are scattered across the ground and a cloud of vaporized blood rises.
A clean hole has been opened right in the center of Abel’s chest. It is large enough that Mia is able to see straight through it.
No matter how anyone looks at it, this is a fatal wound. Abel doesn’t even let out a single groan of pain as he collapses face-up on the spot he was standing.
The faint, ominous, black-red flashes and crackling sound coming from the corpse are the only traces left behind by the Ancient Magic spell called『Black Ballista.』
「… It seems I was not able to deceive the eyes of a god after all.」(Abel)
Abel’s voice echoes a moment later. His mouth is not moving. His voice is coming from the empty space directly behind the corpse.
「What an elaborate Doppelganger, to even produce a corpse.」(Mia)
「It is weaker to make up for that, however. I could not make even the smallest reaction to that attack.」(Abel)
As Abel’s voice speaks once more, the corpse on the ground is surrounded by a dazzling glow, and then it turns into light particles and vanishes.
At the same time, a completely healthy, unharmed Abel appears in the empty space his voice is coming from, radiating the same white light. His appearance is the same; he is still wearing a gray robe. Absolutely nothing about him has changed; it is as if nothing unusual took place at all.
「Now then, I shall take my leave, ancient Demon King. I will pray that we never meet again.」(Abel)
「Goodbye, white hero. If you meet your god, make sure to tell him to give up on Aria.」(Mia)
And so, Abel departs and Mia returns inside the obelisk.
Only the prince of Avalon, collapsed and getting beaten by rain, is left behind.
「Oi, what’s wrong Nero, do you have a cold?」(Kai)
Nero sniffs lightly as he tells Kai, the friend who is poking fun at him, to shut up.
「You did come back completely drenched last night. Where were you hanging around without even using an umbrella?」(Kai)
「Ah… Is that what happened?」(Nero)
「Are you still half-asleep?」(Kai)
Kai is making fun of Nero for once. Nero’s mind seems a little dull from having just woken up; he shakes his head in an attempt to regain his wits.
Huh, seriously, what was I doing last night again?
Nero remembers wandering into Spada’s town at night with an inescapable feeling of disgust in his chest, but in the end, he is mostly unable to remember what he did there.
All he did was wander the rainy town aimlessly, but he can only recall it vaguely.
In fact, he even gets the feeling that he didn’t wake up until the moment he sneezed just now. He clearly understands that his memory is cloudy right now.
Nero yawns and abandons that train of thought. What he should be doing now is not thinking, but eating.
This is the cafeteria in the Royal Spada Academy’s main building. In the morning, the boarding students gather here and eat their breakfast. It is quite crowded, but it is a rather more elegant meal than lunchtime, when the entire student body comes here to eat.
In the corner of his vision, he can see the Second Prince Wilhart, sitting at a table on his own in an incredibly refined manner. Everything is just as it should be; this is a normal scene of breakfast.
No, that’s not right. There’s still something that hasn’t gone back to normal… If Nell’s not, here, I –
「But man, I’m really glad that Nell is feeling better. With this, the sis-con onii-sama’s troubles are resolved!」(Kai)
Kai laughs cheerfully as he stuffs his cheeks with freshly-baked white bread with no regard for manners, but Nero’s retort doesn’t come.
「… Huh? What did you just say?」(Nero)
「Hmm? Why are you making such a scary face? You’re such a bad sport, Nero, though that’s nothing out of the ordinary. Look, speak of the devil. Oi, Nell, Safi, over here!」(Kai)
「It’s still morning, you’re so loud, you idiot. Don’t talk with your mouthful, actually, just don’t talk for the rest of your life. It’s unpleasant. Good morning, Nero, it’s a lovely day, isn’t it?」(Safiel)
「Don’t go saying so many bad things about people and then saying, ‘it’s a lovely day,’ as if nothing happened!」
Kai shouts in protest, but Nero takes no notice of even that.
He is captivated. Of course, it is not because of Safiel’s lovely smile and morning greeting.
He gazes at the young woman with white wings behind her as if he can’t believe his eyes.
「Ufufu, Kai-san and Safi are getting along well as usual. Ah, Onii-sama, good morning.」(Nell)
This is a reproduction of an everyday scene of Wing Road right before the open-field exercise. The foolish Kai, the foul-mouthed Safi, and the one watching their quarreling with a gentle, dazzling smile is –
Nell Julius Elroad. Nero sees his younger sister, who is smiling like a saint.
She is wearing not the négligée that Nero kept seeing her in recently, but the academy’s black blazer and red cape. He does not need someone to explain that she is attending the academy now.
「What is the matter, Onii-sama? You have such a blank expression on your face. Could it be that you are still half-asleep?」(Nell)
She says the exact thing that Kai did a moment ago, but the completely different nuance of her sentence is likely due to the elegance exuding from her beautiful face.
An ordinary man would be charmed by that smile, but she is Nero’s blood-related younger sister. He is accustomed to it rather than captivated by it.
Nero finally understands that the Nell before his eyes now is not the Nell who was bedridden with a sickness in her heart, but a Nell who has completely returned to her normal self.
「No, that’s not it, Nell! Are you alright now?!」(Nero)
The younger sister gives a cheerful smile as she responds to her older brother, who is so flustered that he has half-risen out of his seat.
「Yes, I am fine now.」(Nell)
As Nell gives a reply as if nothing had ever been wrong at all, though this was exactly what Nero wanted, he cannot help but to be dumbfounded.
The severe troubles in Nell’s mind have been resolved so suddenly without any intervention from Nero at all.
Nero cannot help but to feel more let-down than happy.
「I-I see… No, since you’re alright, it doesn’t matter…」(Nero)
Nero lets out a deep sigh, wondering just what he has been worrying for. He is curious about exactly what has happened to his sister’s body overnight, but he doesn’t care about the reason now.
Whether she is aware of Nero’s complex feelings or not, she takes her seat next to Safiel with an innocent look on her face.
「Now once Sharl comes back, Wing Road will have made a complete revival.」(Kai)
Kai speaks optimistically as he drains the potage that has been poured into his bowl. All of the members present have long since stopped commenting on the fact that he doesn’t use the provided spoon for drinking his soup.
「Sharl is receiving His Majesty’s training – er, rather, his guidance, so I suppose she will not return from the royal castle for another month or so.」(Safiel)
「Ah, I suppose she wasn’t forgiven for leaving the fortress by herself after all.」(Kai)
「Oh my, it is surprising that you understand that she was at fault for acting on her own.」(Safiel)
「Even I can read the mood and understand that much!」(Kai)
As Nero watches the noisy argument between the swordsman and the necromancer, his tension slowly returns to normal levels.
「It would be good if she got her selfishness corrected.」(Kai)
「His Majesty had quite the serious look in his eyes. I’m sure she’ll come back all depressed, so make sure you console her gently, on top of her bed.」(Safiel)
「Stop making those kind of jokes this early in the morning.」(Nero)
「No, Onii-sama. Such treatment really does give energy, so please do it for her.」(Nell)
An unexpected opinion. As incredibly difficult as it is to believe, it has come from Nell, the embodiment of purity.
Nero asks her what she means, but Nell simply giggles and smiles, leaving him speechless. For some reason, he experiences the same feeling as when he hears Safiel’s derisive laughter when she is hiding her evil intentions.
「W-well, for now, let’s just relax and wait until Sharl comes back. I’m not in the mood to go on quests anytime soon anyway.」(Nero)
「No, I have to get stronger so I can beat that guy, so let’s keep accepting more dangerous Rank 5 quests!」(Kai)
「Yes, I want to find the Wrath-Pun that slipped out of our grasp, too.」(Safiel)
「No, wait, you guys didn’t bring down the Wrath-Pun?!」(Nero)
The clumsy, bright interactions between companions.
There were so many things going on in Iskia that Nero hadn’t had the time to worry about things such as what had happened to Safi’s servant that had been taken over by the parasite. Nobody could blame him for not having heard about this before.
「Kai was so disappointing that… Even with me and Sharl there, he couldn’t cover us properly.」(Safiel)
「Oi, don’t mess with me! It’s because you said something reckless about how you wanted to recover it so I shouldn’t injure it too much –」(Kai)
「Shut up, a weakling who got knocked out by one punch from the Nightmare Berserker shouldn’t complain.」(Safiel)
Taking a blow to a sensitive area, Kai has no choice but to fall silent. He stays quiet, but the pace of his eating doesn’t change. An infinite combo of white bread being soaked in potage.
「I understand the situation, but –」(Nero)
「Onii-sama. I want to accept difficult quests and improve myself as well.」(Nell)
With Nell’s words, a majority consensus is reached.
Nell is showing a strange amount of enthusiasm considering that she is supposed to be recovering from illness. Nero’s worry for her is greater than his feelings of bother about choosing to actively accept quests.
「Nell, don’t push yourself too hard. Even in Iskia, things worked out well in the end, but we would have all been wiped out with one more mistake.」(Nero)
「Yes, that is exactly why, Onii-sama. I want to become stronger; I want to become more useful – After that battle, I have come to realize that I need to be stronger.」(Nell)
From time to time, Nell becomes incredibly stubborn. No, as her older brother, Nero knows that she has simply hardened her resolve.
Nell is certainly not a pure princess who has had a sheltered upbringing. She is studying abroad in Spada, acting as an adventurer and possesses a strong will to do what must be done.
That is why Nero has been supporting her decisions at times like these. No matter how troublesome or difficult it was. As her older brother, as a man, he responds to her wishes.
「… Okay, I got it. Well then, starting from tomorrow,『Wing Road』will resume work.」(Nero)