The Black Demon King 500 Part 1
Chapter 26: Storm of Gluttony
Kuroe, the Black Knight

“I haven’t been putting on armor much until now, but now that I’m wearing this, I find that I can move rather well with it.”

As we headed for the 203rd Colony, I found myself telling this to Sariel, who I was carrying on my back as usual, without actually knowing why.

“This is the regular piece of equipment for Armor Knights, so I believe its durability, maneuverability, wearability, and magical enchantment effects have been designed to exceed certain levels.”

“So it’s Elite-level equipment after all, huh?”

The armor I was wearing was a complete set of the standard Armor Knights’ full plate armor, which was probably quite expensive. I was walking down the road where the snow has begun to melt in some places.

We had already walked more than halfway there, and in fact, we would be arriving at our destination shortly. The full plate armor didn’t feel as clunky as I had expected it to be, sure enough, it didn’t feel as light as wearing just clothes, but it was lighter than its rugged appearance made it look like.

With my strength, it really didn’t matter if the armor’s weight actually matched that of the steel it was made of, but still it felt hard to believe it was so easy to move about and breathe with this thing on.

It allowed for smooth movement of my limbs, and the steel covering my toes felt like a perfect fit even after walking for a while. Moreover, despite wearing a helmet that completely covers my head, it doesn’t feel like it’s suffocating me at all. It does restrict my field of vision a bit, but it’s still not that bad. Well, it was made for combat after all, so it was designed to ensure as much visibility as possible.

In addition to the long halberd on my right hand and a heavy tower shield on my left hand, which were the standard issue for Armor Knights, I had a longsword on each side of my waist, and two more crossed behind my back for a total of four, and a spare halberd was also resting upright on my back, as if one could raise a flag on it.

However, the most distinctive feature of my gear was not the fact that I seemed to be overloaded with numerous weapons, but that my entire gear, weapons and all, were completely dyed in black.

Of course, this is the result of my Blackening. For the Crusaders, the divine silver metallic look was probably the best, but now it’s more about performance than looks.

I had a rosary hanging from my neck as well, but since it had also been dyed black, it now looked like a poor excuse of a crucifix, hardly befitting a believer of the Cross Church.

At any rate, the reason for me to be wearing such heavy equipment was to hide my face, rather than defending my body. Of course, I thought it to be a pretty unreasonable way to hide it, but there was really no other way to cover my face, so it would have to do.

If I were to be asked to show my face, all I had to do was to open the helmet’s face guard, revealing nothing but my face and my eyes –whose real color was already concealed by the Coloring Eyes I was wearing. The idea was to avoid revealing my black hair as much as possible.

In addition, Sariel was also covering her face.

Originally, religious habits used to have these white veil-like hoods called “wimples”, which would cover a nun’s hair and neck. Having Sariel wear one that was slightly larger than her size would make it cover most of her face.

Incidentally, this time I had given Sariel a weapon, just for caution’s sake.

She now had a rapier hanging from the right side of her waist. It was an elegant-looking weapon, made with pure Mithril silver and adorned with a large emerald. It wasn’t visible now that it was resting in its scabbard, but the blade had been enchanted with Wind magic, making it a first-class weapon in appearance and performance alike.

This rapier was actually the one Mashram was using when he attacked Reki. It was definitely the best loot I got from that battle. However, a rapier is not a very compatible weapon for me, since I’m more used to dealing with swords that can deal massive amounts of damage, and not so much with finesse-oriented weapons. Besides it would be a bit conspicuous for someone who looked like a mere Crusader soldier to be wielding such a refined weapon.

For that reason, I had it stashed in the church all this time, but it was finally time to make that rapier useful by giving it to Sariel so that she could have at least the bare minimum equipment.

Even after having lost most of her limbs, Sariel still retained most of her tremendous fighting ability, as evidenced by the fact that she killed a huge armored bear with nothing but her unarmed single hand. Since she had lost both of her legs, she couldn’t move freely, but if the Gluttony Octos were to come at her, the rapier alone would allow her to be the last bastion to protect the villagers if things were to go south.

However, if it comes to a point where we are swarmed by the enemy and Sariel were to be the only one remaining to defend the villagers, then our defeat would be almost certain, so it made no sense to rely on it from the beginning.

“Oh, there it is.”

After passing through a corner, a gray stone wall appeared in my line of sight.

It may have been a supply base now, but it was no different from the Qual Village I remembered. The Crusaders must have invested most of their resources in the construction of the Alsace Fortress and did not put much effort into the defense in this place. Well, it was just a place that was on the way to Alsace Fortress, after all.

The villagers who were walking at the front were relieved to have finally reached our destination.

Randolph, the head village head, was in charge of explaining the circumstances to the Crusaders. I was at the end of our caravan, like some kind of rear guard. For the time being, it was up to Randolph’s bargaining and acting skills to decide whether or not we would be granted refuge there, so all I had to do was to get ready for the enemy’s invasion.

Looking back, all I could see was the quiet scenery of the road stretching under the blue sky. There was no white fog, and no disturbing shadows lurking around. And my left eye wasn’t giving off any reaction yet.

“I wish this was all we had to do to avoid this crisis…”

Shortly thereafter, and thanks to Randolph’s ability to negotiate, all of the villagers –even me, despite my suspicious-looking black set of armor– were allowed to stay in the 203rd colony.

Although it was supposed to be a supply base, the truth was that it was still a village with a large warehouse on one of its corners. In the first place, the only thing that would ever attack this place would be wild monsters. The Spada army had no way to bypass the Alsace Fortress in order to launch an attack here, and the most worrisome remnants of the Daedalus army were said to have been nearly completely wiped out before the Galahad war.

Though it was publicly regarded as one of Sariel’s achievements, the former Seventh Apostle told me that all she did was to annihilate any rebels that would sporadically get in their way, and that she wasn’t trying to engage her enemy’s main unit or anything of the sort.

Apparently, the true goal of the rebels was to rescue the royal family who had been held prisoners in the White Sacrament’s 4th Research Institute, built at the ruins of Media, but unfortunately, it seemed that their plan hadn’t gone so well. Though the place wasn’t particularly well guarded, the fact that the Eighth Apostle Ai was among the adventurers hired for the location’s defense proved to be the rebel’s downfall, despite their attack having been on the scale of a thousand men strong.

Even a couple thousand rebels wouldn’t have been much of a problem for someone like her. Not only was she outrageously good, but she was an Apostle to boot.

Anyway, since this supply base had no fear of anyone trying to attack it, its only means of defense were the same old stone walls it had back when it used to be Qual Village, and it was said to have been enough for this place to remain safe to this day.

This place also doubled as a colony, taking advantage of its fertile soil to produce food.

It seemed that half of the people that had left their homeland of Sinclair were now occupying colonies, much like Randolph and the others, while the other half –most of them family members of the Crusader soldiers– was working at Crusader supply bases just like this one, as well as Alsace Fortress..

Due to the fact that it had a stone wall to defend itself, as well as the secondary role of a supply base, it seemed to be much more important than the 202nd colony I’ve been living in thus far. Taking a good look at its buildings, I noticed some of them near its central square were 4 stories high. There also were some decent-looking inns that had nothing to envy the Adventurers Guild, and a good number of shops on its main street.

I had visited the place once known as Qual Village only a handful of times, but it now seemed more developed than the village I remembered. The Crusaders’ ability to rebuild this place even after most of its buildings had been reduced to ashes in that scorched earth operation was astonishing.

Its church was much bigger than the one we had in the 202nd Colony, about twice as large. Had we had a church this big back there, Reki and Ursula could’ve each had a room of their own instead of having to share the same room, and Sariel and I wouldn’t have had to sleep together all this time. It almost made me want to complain to the Crusaders General Commander to have him improve the conditions for the place we had called home these past few months.

As I had those trivially envious thoughts, I realized that I had become completely used to living in the church.

At any rate, the colony’s buildings themselves weren’t the things I had to concern myself about at the time.

“How many soldiers are here?”

“There’s a company of about 100 regular soldiers. Then a platoon of about a dozen Armor Knights. A handful of Pegasus Knights for emergencies. They’re all supposed to be rear units so none of them could be considered elite. We have just the minimum defense here.”

When I quietly asked someone that, I got a very detailed reply.

If they were my opponents, I believed I was strong enough to win a battle against them all by myself. Since some of them could potentially escape, it would still be very unlikely that I would be able to bring them all to the ground, though.

But it wasn’t a big force.

At first, I thought I would be able to find some relief in the fact that there would be forces here I could rely on in case of an emergency, but now I was just disappointed that these would be the allies I’ll get when the time to meet the approaching Gluttony Octos finally came.

I had never imagined that I would find myself fighting alongside the Crusaders, but there was no other way. I had to use whatever resources I had at my disposal, and they had a military obligation to protect their own people. I could only hope that their best efforts would be good enough.

At the very least, I hoped that they would be able to protect our villagers, as we were part of this 203rd Colony for the time being.

The evacuation itself had been very taxing for all the villagers, especially the small children. Their legs would go on for only so long, and trying to overdo it could have jeopardized our evacuation.

Considering how far we’ve walked, we should reach the next village on our path in a single day. By simple calculation, it would take us a total of four days to reach the Alsace Fortress.

After being occupied by the Crusaders, each of these villages had been turned into colonies and assigned a number. Here in Daedalus, the former villages of Ills, Qual, Hezit, Watt, and Alsace, were lined up along the same road in that order towards the east. We have spent the whole day traveling between Ills and Qual, so we would be arriving in Alsace on the night of the 23rd of Ice Crystal Month.

The reason why I could think about such things even though I had basically entered a Crusader’s supply base –which was the same as having infiltrated an enemy base–, no one really paid much attention to me.

For the time being, they were content with believing that I was a priest who also acted as a knight to help evacuate the villagers on behalf of the deceased former priest.

Though right after entering the base, I could feel the eyes staring at me, probably because I was wandering amidst the local villagers, trying to position myself so that I wouldn’t come into contact with the Crusade soldiers on guard duty. But even then, no one said anything like “Hey, you, the suspicious black knight there, stop for a moment”. Perhaps Randolph was able to provide a good explanation. Either that, or perhaps the Crusaders had no time to spare interrogating a slightly conspicuous black knight,

After all, they had been completely defeated by the Spada Army, and now they were up against a large army of monsters. I guess the Crusaders would feel like this would be like adding insult to injury. And even though I wanted to find pleasure in the Crusaders’ misfortune, I couldn’t. We were all stuck together in the upcoming battle.

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