64. Halvin Village (5)
The Devil of Lania was feared all over the continent. He was known as a wicked Necromancer, but also as a being that used sacred, holy magic. In addition, he was the only one who could successfully oppose the Holy Kingdom.
His strength was absolute. His military force was overwhelming. As he had completely destroyed the continent’s strongest Holy Knights, there were countless mages who longed to achieve a similar level of power for themselves.
This was especially true because of the fact that the Devil of Lania had mastered Necromancy to a degree that nobody else had before.
One person had led thousands―even tens of thousands of Undead with that power. And as soon as that became known in the continent, the other existing Necromancers had been driven to increase their own power by any means in an attempt to match that strength. The temptation was like a devil’s delusion and was far too strong to resist.
As the strongest Necromancer in the continent it was only natural that, because of that reputation, the other Necromancers would try to follow in his footsteps.
At least, that was what Belve thought.
Lulu zoned out with his mouth closed.
‘Devil of Lania? What is he talking about?’
‘No matter how I look at him he’s just a crazy, old Necromancer. But he’s declaring himself to be the Devil of Lania…?’
Belve smiled contentedly seeing Lulu’s expression.
‘It seems like he’s shocked! It must be known to the demons as well just what kind of being the Devil of Lania is!’
“Haha! Are you at a loss for words because you’re so shocked? Well, this is only natural. Anyone seeing the Devil that makes everybody shake in fear, in person, would feel like that. Feel honored!”
Lulu was so dumbfounded at what he was seeing that his mind went blank.
Belve, completely ignorant of Lulu’s real thoughts, puffed his chest out in pride.
“I’m preparing to strike the Holy Kingdom for my―I mean for your Demon Kingdom so feel honored!”
Belve blinked at Lulu.
Lulu stared back blankly.
…Then he frowned.
The Devil of Lania was a term that was used to refer to Tom―the hero that had saved the Demon Kingdom and the savior of both him and his sister.
Lulu’s frown turned into a glare.
‘How dare he?! How can this lowly human pretend to be that kind of being! He’s really starting to piss me off! I almost want to throw up! He’s disgracing the name of an idol and a hero!’
“You said that you are the Devil of Lania? That’s bullshit! How dare you bring shame to his name, you lowly human?!”
“… W-what are you talking about? Bringing shame? Me?”
Belve looked shocked.
“I have never brought shame on the Devil of Lania! I haven’t! How would I even do that anyway?! He’s me!”
“You’re delusional! You don’t even know what kind of person the Devil of Lania truly is!”
“You’re talking as if you know the Devil of Lania.”
“Of course I know him!”
Belve’s countenance suddenly changed. He wrenched open the cage, grabbed Lulu by his neck, and hurled him down to the ground.
He aimed his staff down at him and glared.
“Really? You’ve met the Devil of Lania, have you? You’re the one talking bullshit! I’m the Devil of Lania!”
Lulu sneered back.
“Ha! Are all human mages these days such fraudsters? Lying to everyone and pretending to be people that they clearly aren’t? Like children? Ha! Do you really want to be famous that bad? How desperate can you get―keok!”
The staff pressed down on Lulu’s neck.
“… Your voice is nice to listen to but I don’t like what it says. I think I want to crush your vocal cords, actually.”
Belve narrowed his eyes. He gritted his teeth as he pressed down on Lulu’s neck. But Lulu noticed that the man’s hands were trembling anxiously.
“… You talk as if you have met the Devil of Lania before. What kind of being is the Devil of Lania you know? Maybe he was the one pretending to be me. Or perhaps…”
Belve closed his mouth and remained silent for a short while. His body shook as if he was enraged.
“Does he have the power to match his claim? I certainly do. There’s always a way to test these sorts of things.”
Belve looked and gestured toward his crowd of believers. They came forward and gave him a bowl of desert-rose herb.
“I-I don’t want to…”
Belve looked at the village chief and said,
“Oy, Village Chief.”
The village chief looked at Belve blankly.
“I will cure your granddaughter if you feed this guy this.”
The village chief’s eyes grew wide.
“I-is that true?”
“But only if your granddaughter, there, feeds it to him. What do you think? She can do it, right?”
The village chief looked down at Fran whom he was holding.
“I’ll do it! Let go of me!”
Fran tried to squirm out of the village chief’s grip, but she was drowsy, and her face was smeared with madness. Her gaze was fixated on the bowl of desert-rose herb.
“…Are you… really going to give us an antidote?”
“I will if your granddaughter feeds him the drug.”
Lulu gritted his teeth.
He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. It was absolutely vile and filthy. Belve was using others to do his dirty work because he couldn’t be bothered to do it himself. On top of that, he was using children.
The village chief didn’t hesitate.
Fran looked up at the village chief.
The village chief’s voice was shaking. It felt to him like he was forcing his granddaughter to commit a grave sin.
“T-this guy… if you feed him the tea of grace… you can drink it as well.”
The village chief nodded.
The necromancers in front of them were like devils. But they had never broken a promise before.
The fact that the village chief was safe was evidence of this. In Fran’s case, she only drank the drug accidentally.
If what they said was true, they could fix Fran.
Fran took the bowl of desert-rose herb. Fran looked at it absent-mindedly and tried to drink it but the village chief stopped her.
“Hurry! Feed the kid! I will let you drink it after that!”
“…I can’t drink it?”
Fran held out the bowl of desert-rose herb to Lulu as the village chief shouted.
Lulu glared at Fran.
“Liar! You said that you were going to let me run away! But how can you push me into a trap like this?!”
“It wasn’t a lie.”
The fire from the torch was crackling. Fran was reflected in the red blazing firelight and she spoke with a smile. Her eyes were blank and hollow.
“I will let you run away from this life! I will send you to heaven where God is!”
Fran shoved the bowl into Lulu’s mouth and force-fed him the contents.
“Kueeeeeeek! Cough! Cough!”
Lulu coughed and tried to spit out as much of it as he could.
His head suddenly went fuzzy and a feeling that he could only describe as his blood flowing backward overcame him. Everything turned white and his body shivered. Lulu’s expression slackened because of the feeling.
Belve smiled down at Lulu.
“It seems like the drug works quickly for demons.”
“… You’re out of your mind,” an unfamiliar voice suddenly called out from behind him.
Belve turned to take a look.
The believers were startled and stepped back.
A lightly armored priest in white was slowly approaching. But behind him were not Holy Knights or priests―as one might expect―but Undead Zombies instead.
“… What in the world?”
Belve stiffened in shock.
He recognized immediately that this group of Undead Zombies were the same ones that Belve’s student had taken away. But now they appeared to be under the control of this priest in front of him. Taking a closer look, he also noticed that his student was among them well.
The wrinkly old man was holding his staff up and his body was contorted unnaturally. He had been murdered and had become an Undead.
Lulu mumbled deliriously as he looked up at Tom with a faintly visible smile.
“And here I thought you were a priest. But, you two are partners. Ha! You’re bold, aren’t you? A Necromancer posing as a priest… How did you defeat my student? You seem much too young for that.”
Belve made a confused expression.
No matter how he looked at the priest in front of him he looked like he was in his twenties. Even though necromancy could be mastered in a short time and could give you incredible power, it was hard to remain young after mastering it.
It came with a lot of side effects. You aged quickly and your skin wrinkled, for one. And that couldn’t be stopped. So it made no sense to him how this priest could look so young.
“You’ve managed to retain your youth… Is there really a method…?” Belve trailed off.
“I see. Seeing how you’re with a demi-human it seems like you gained some sort of special power! There are many rumors about the Moon Rabbits… Perhaps there’s some truth behind them after all!”
Belve’s eyes were filled with greed. He sounded thrilled.
“Oy! Explain to me the principle behind your necromancy! Then I will forgive your rudeness and I will accept you as my student―”
Belve was cut off due to being mauled by zombies.
An Undead jumped on him, but the other necromancers hurriedly intervened. They performed defensive magic and formed a barrier blocking off the rest of them.
The group of zombies writhed and struggled against the barrier but couldn’t get through it. However, the barrier had come too late to stop the first one from pouncing.
This Undead, Belve recognized as his former student. It was doing everything in its power to try and kill him.
Instead of feeling angry or apologetic that his cherished student had become a zombie, however, Belve showed intense admiration and immediately made these feelings known.
In return for being strong, an Undead zombies’ movement was typically slow. But the Undead in front of him was really agile and also had some strength behind it. It was as if in addition to being a zombie, it had absorbed the power of a demon.
“Amazing! It makes me want to know even more! You! What are you?!”
Belve struck the stomach of the zombie going after him with his staff.
The Undead zombie’s body bounced off with a ‘pung’ sound and was blown over. Its chest exploded, pieces of flesh were sent flying through the air, but it stood up again without much difficulty, standing up with only a moderate sway.
“I’m just a Holy Knight passing through,” Tom replied, looking at Belve. “I dropped by the village to find some useful, talented people…”
Tom narrowed his eyes.
“It seems like there are quite a few of them around these parts.”
“… Are you talking about me? Ha! Ridiculous. You’re a Necromancer but you’re pretending to be a Holy Knight. You’re a fraud!”
“No!” Lulu denied. “That person is…”
Lulu shook his head trying to remain conscious.
“That person is the Devil of Lania! He’s not a filthy and disgusting human like you, you bastard…!”
“… The Devil of Lania?”
Belve frowned as he scanned Tom from head to toe.
While summoning and controlling the Undead, this man was wearing a Holy knight outfit.
Belve immediately burst into laughter.
“Ha, haha! Hahaha! I see! You’re definitely a fraud! Are you going around calling yourself the Devil of Lania to try and get famous? I’m sure you’ve heard some incredible stories but there is no reason to go that far.”
The rumors about the Devil of Lania were spread all over the continent.
Summoning and controlling the Undead by himself, using not only dark magic, but holy magic as well, which only Holy Knights and priests used, along with many other incredible things.
Wearing a Holy Knight’s uniform was not even close to being persuasive. If he wore a priests outfit instead, even while he was using dark magic in order to pretend he was the Devil of Lania, it would make a lot more sense. It would at least fool the idiots.
“Haha! You seem skilled but you haven’t thought this through. Your outfit is troublesome and isn’t convincing anybody! There’s no way that you’re the Devil of Lania!”
Tom ignored Belve and looked over at Lulu.
“Lulu… Who are these people?”
As Tom tilted his head, Belve spread both his arms and replied.
“I’m not a fraud, I’m the Devil of Lania! The devil who destroyed the Holy Kingdom and pledged allegiance to the Demon Lord of the Demon Kingdom! That’s my―!”
“Is he by any chance pretending to be the Devil of Lania?” Tom asked, still pointedly looking at Lulu and not Belve.
Lulu nodded, not having any strength to answer verbally.
Tom scratched his head.
It was a really strange situation to be in. Usually, there were countless people pretending to be a rumored group of power in the continent. It happened all the time. Regular knights called themselves Holy Knights, Adventurers called themselves Heroes, and now, apparently, Necromancers were calling themselves the Devil of Lania.
“…I guess that just shows how popular the Devil of Lania is. But, it’s kind of… well… what’s the word?”
Tom looked at Belve strangely.
Belve immediately looked furious.
“This is ridiculous! You don’t take me, Belve seriously? Did your head get big just because you’re a little bit competent? How dare you? Right in front of me…!”
“It’s me who’s dumbfounded. Why don’t you just stop impersonating the Devil of Lania? Because it’s troublesome in many ways.”
Belve’s face turned red.
He was repeatedly being looked down on and it pissed him off to no end.
He made the decision right then that conversation wasn’t needed anymore. All he had to do was beat down the person in front of him and then everyone would know the truth. He would even be able to find out about his magic through all kinds of torture.
‘After finding out about everything I will tear down that body and turn you into a taxidermy!’
“How dare you…?! Look down on me? I will squash you!”
Belve stuck his staff into the ground.
Magic circles with Runes engraved on them appeared on the cave’s ground and all over the walls, causing Undead zombies to crawl out.
Seeing Belve make the first move, the other necromancers joined in. They also summoned the Undead in a similar display of power.
The believers were stunned to see more than 50 zombies suddenly fill the cave and so they stepped back. But they were stopped by what Belve said next.
“Catch this bastard! If you do I will give you all the awareness of grace! I will lead you to the heavenly world!”
The believers grabbed their weapons upon hearing that and prepared for battle.
Tom scanned the room for a few moments with a flat expression. His eyes suddenly turned cold while scanning the zombies and believers.
“I really… am not impressed.”
It was none other than the drug that had ruined him.
The villagers had been deceived and were now being controlled because of that drug.
They had found hope after getting out of frustration and despair, but in the end, they had fallen into hell because of Belve.
Their trust had been betrayed.
‘That actually pisses me off quite a bit.’
It was like seeing himself in the past.
“…I can’t be carried away by my feelings when I work though.”
Hearing what Tom said the zombies summoned by the necromancers looked up and opened their eyes wide.
“But… for a bit…I guess it’s okay to let loose a little.”
The zombies screamed simultaneously and turned to attack the believers around them.
They targeted the weapons they were holding and crushed them. Then they beat the believers down and slammed them down on the ground.
“W-what the hell?!”
The Necromancers aimed their staffs at the zombies they had summoned in frustration and confusion. But even though they tried their best to get the zombies back under their control the demonic power that was put into them ended up disappearing instead.
“This is crazy…?! I can’t control them!”
“Magic…? It’s magic!”
“A magic ability that steals Undeads from their summoner?! Does that make sense to you?!”
Belve stiffened upon hearing his students’ shouts.
The zombies continued their attack.
All the believers were beaten down to the ground and the Necromancers were barely able to defend themselves with defense magic.
The zombies approached Belve.
“… He’s even capable of unknown magic…? I-it’s tempting me even more! B-but he’s too dangerous! How can a human like that exist…?!”
Belve gulped down dryly and stepped back.
“Alright! I just need to set everything on fire! I can investigate after your body has been turned into an Undead!”
Belve lifted his staff up high. A lump of flame came into existence and swirled at the tip.
“O-oh my goodness!”
“T-teacher! You can’t do that! If you use that in this small place…!”
“We’ll all die!”
“What are you talking about? I won’t die. Only you lot will. And nobody cares about that! Hahahahahaha!”
As Belve smiled and was about to unleash the fireball, the flame was suddenly pierced by a light sword, causing it to scatter and disappear.
Belve’s eyes grew bigger.
Swords made up of white light could be seen all throughout the dark cave.
They had been created by Tom’s holy sword.
The surroundings lit up in an intense light.
“Is this… Holy power?”
Belve started shaking and stepped back.
The zombies lunged and grabbed onto him.
Belve struggled while looking at the zombies.
“L-let go of me! You bastards…!”
Just as Belve was going to use his staff to spew out a wave of demonic power, the zombies grabbed onto it. In a moment, instead of demonic power, holy power was spewing out from the zombies’ bodies and this made the demonic power of the staff they were grabbing onto disappear completely.
Belve gasped the moment he saw that.
He felt a chill crawl up his spine and he broke out in a cold sweat.
Fear and astonishment were clear in his gaze. He mumbled blankly as he looked up at the Holy Knight approaching him.
“Are you by any chance… the Devil of Lania…?”
— Ω —