Thanks to Virium for supporting on Patreon desuuu
Retrieving the two heads of the Four Winged, Ardis headed to the ruins near the capital, looking at the sun which had already passed overhead. A land known for its past prosperity, and the fortress where the once prestigious lord, a rebel that had his last stand against the royalty.
The true identity of the 『Crimson Eater』 that appears in the fortress isn’t known. From what others say, it is the spirit of hatred born from the lord’s resentment that died in the fortress.
Ardis walked into the fortress with burnt walls. With piles of black chars scattered in the room, their original state can no longer be determined. Only the green grasses and vines are able to prosper in this place.
「Here should be fine. 」
Ardis found a wide space that would be easy to fight in, and took out a familiar apple from his bag and placed it on the floor.
『Crimson Eater』 would attack any red things. On the other hand, it also means that you won’t be in trouble if you don’t have any red on you.
The subjugation army that was sortied the first time had no way of knowing that. During the first subjugation attempt, the commander who was wearing a red jacket was the first one the be killed.
『Crimson Eater』 seemed to react to human blood as well, if you would get even a slight wound, then it’ll set its next target on you. Of course, it wasn’t as simple of a matter to solve with not wearing anything red and fight without being injured.
Even if it reacts strongly to anything red, it will counterattack when it was attacked. If that counterattack caused blood to spill, what happens after is the illustration of hell.
Because of that, the three subjugation attempts made by the army had all end in failure. The last attempt of the subjugation was made more than twenty years ago.
Taking a little distance away from the apple left on the floor as he waited. Water dripping, such sound entered Ardis’s ears. It was as if a body of water was dripping on the floor.
The origin of the sound slowly made its way to the entrance of the room that Ardis is in.
It was something shaped like a woman but entirely in red. It was definitely not a human.
The red body was translucent, it was as if a statue carved from a red crystal is moving. But contrary to the looks, the sound of its footstep was as if water splashing the ground.
「I don’t get it. 」
Is it a solid or liquid, or could it be like a soft jelly, in front of Ardis who was still pondering, the Crimson Eater crouched down to the floor and smashed the apple with both its hands.
「Well, it’ll be clear when I cut it. 」
At the same time, Ardis’s short sword took flight.
The short sword that arrived above the Crimson Eater swung down on what could be called its head with a fierce power. But it was a sound of metal clashing that was heard.
「It’s harder than expected? 」
The short sword that was supposed to behead the Crimson Eater was instead broken from the hilt, the blade deflected and stuck in the floor.
The Crimson Eater looked towards Ardis. Of course, it’s shaped like a woman but, it isn’t clear if the concept of head applies to it at all. But, at the very least, it showed signs that it had noticed Ardis’s presence. It seems that it had determined that Ardis was the one who had attacked with the short sword.
The Crimson Eater stood back up, and walked towards Ardis while swaying.
「It’s just going to break again if I don’t strengthen it. 」
Ardis drew his broadsword, and covered it with his mana. The sword was enveloped in a dim light.
Ardis aimed for the sides of the Crimson Eater and released flame magic. From right to left, the heat and explosion enveloped the Crimson Eater in an instant.
However, as if not noticing the flame attack on itself at all, the Crimson Eater continued walking.
「Flames won’t do. Then― 」
Continuing that, magic attacks of various elements of ice, water, earth, wind and thunder had been used but, none of them had any effect at all.
「Then, how about this? 」
A dazzling light manifested in front of Ardis, before compressed into a single point and shot out all at once. The streak of light headed straight to the Crimson Eater, penetrating its chest in an instant.
「Looks like that hurt right, ――then! 」
Ardis changed the properties of the mana enveloping his broadsword into the light element.
Ardis’s legs kicked against the floor. Closing the distance in just a single leap, Ardis swung the broadsword before the Crimson Eater even had a chance to react.
Splash, a feedback of slashing through water was felt through his hands. In front of Ardis who couldn’t comprehend the strange feedback, the Crimson Eater’s head was severed from its body. Then, the body that had lost its head lost its shape and collapsed into just a pool of red water before splashing onto the ground.
Shortly after that, the sound of the severed head hit the ground with a dull sound. On the other hand, there was the pool of crimson liquid flowing on the ground. Compared to the state when it was fully intact, it was clearly a weird outcome.
Ardis’s mind was in confusion.
「What is this……? 」
At the unknown feeling of disgust, Ardis took a step back unintentionally.
Dusk in the capital Gran. The main street of the capital is unusually noisy.
It was because of the black-haired young man who walked leisurely while attracting attention. Other than the purple headband on his forehead, it was a normal face without any special characteristics. From the light purple robe on him, people in the same business can tell that he’s a mercenary.
His age looked young, but it wasn’t that uncommon to see young men who ran from home aspiring to be mercenaries. Albeit that, the items that the young man had on his back were gathering attention.
There were four heads on the young man’s back.
No, looking closely, two of them which looked like a bird’s head are actually connected. But the one who realized that, the next moment, he realized again that calling something that size a bird is just too out of common sense.
「Oi, that……, could that be the 『Four Winged』? 」
「Ha? Of course, something like that wouldn’t be……」
「White body and two marks on it…… it’s the 『Bell Chaser』. 」
「Then is the red one 『Crimson Eater』? 」
「No no, that’s strange right! Why the hell is the heads of the Three Great Demons of Gran there!? 」
「Did he subjugate them? 」
「Don’t be foolish, they aren’t opponents a little boy like that can take on. 」
「Then what’s those heads doing there! 」
With various speculation thrown around, more similar lines covered their voices. Without giving an eye to the surroundings, the young man walked to the entertainment district leisurely as if showing off.
The name of the young man is Ardis. A sword magic user, it was this exact day that his name had started spreading in the capital.
While feeling the gazes and reactions the people gave him, Ardis arrived in front of the tavern which was filled with guests enjoying their drinks, before stepping inside grandly.
At the arrival of a new guest, the bartender welcomed him in a loud voice. However, the guests that realized Ardis’s arrival became eerily quiet. Between the silence that was never found here normally at this time, only Ardis’s footsteps resounded as he weaved through the tables.
「Oi, brother. Bringing those things to a place to drink is rude. 」
A bearded man who was drinking his beer from the mug beside the table he passed through raised a loud voice.
Of course, 『Those things』 that the man said was referring to the heads of the demonic beings that Ardis had on his back. Certainly, it’s unmannerly for Ardis to bring such things to a place to drink.
Although that Ardis had cauterized it to stop the heads from bleeding, it still doesn’t change the fact that they are heads. In a place that serves food, especially where guests are enjoying their drink loudly, it definitely wasn’t something Ardis should’ve brought inside.
Of course, Ardis had known that from the start. He wouldn’t have done this normally.
But today was different, he had to do this no matter what.
「Sorry. I will get out as soon as I’ve done my business. 」
「What business? 」
「I have something to hear from this man called Chezare. 」
In the silent tavern, everyone focused on a single point. They were all looking at Chezare who was sitting in front of the counter with an awkward expression mixed with fear and surprise.
Ardis walked to Chezare who was the star in the tavern, took out a copper and flicked it to him.
「Chezare, where do I take these to claim the bounty? 」
Chezare who had a pale face squeezed out his voice.
「Ah, N-no way……. Those behind you are……」
「Yeah, this white one is the 『Bell Chaser』, the twin head bird is the 『Four Winged』, then this red woman head is the 『Crimson Eater』. 」
The tavern which heard all of that became noisy all of a sudden.
「I-I mean……, I just told you about them this morning……. It hasn’t even been a day. 」
「Wouldn’t that much time be more than enough? 」
Ardis laughed as if it was a silly thing to say.
There’s probably nothing else Chezare can do but to be speechless.
They’re the demonic beings that even the army of Nagras Kingdom cannot defeat after few subjugation attempts over many tens of years. On top of that, it wasn’t one but all three. And it’s even done within the period from morning until before the sun had set completely, it wasn’t anything Chezare could comprehend.
「And? Where should I take these? 」
Ardis asked while having a smile akin to a villain.
At the receiving end, Chezare’s expression looked a little harsh. He probably had realized it too, the reason why Ardis came specifically to ask Chezare about it.
Of course, Ardis had known where he should take the proofs to get the bounty. But the reason why he had brought all the heads of the demonic beings here was to show Chezare.
Chezare is an outstanding information broker. He would definitely offer information befitting of the price.
But that is only when it’s a business, Ardis wouldn’t know if he can trust Chezare fully as an individual. With an opponent that Ardis knows that he can’t have a trustworthy relationship, he needed to show Chezare the merits of being on his side and the demerits of being his enemy.
Ardis’s strength had already been known by Chezare, and he should’ve thought that Ardis is 『Someone dangerous if antagonized』. That’s why Ardis decided to bring the heads of the demonic beings and show it to him the consequences of betraying Ardis, to change Chezare’s perception of Ardis as 『Someone dangerous if antagonized』 to 『Someone he wouldn’t think to antagonize』.
It is because Chezare understood Ardis’s thoughts that he made such a harsh expression.
「Where the soldiers station, or the headquarters of the knights should be fine. Well, it would’ve been fine even if you showed to the guards when you entered the city. 」
It couldn’t be helped that Chezare’s words had some thorns in it.
「Is that so, got it. Thanks. 」
Saying his thanks simply, Ardis turned around and left the tavern.
「B-Brother. Is that really the Three Great Demons’ heads? 」
It was the bearded man before who asked.
「Yeah. It might be unbelievable now but……. Well, you’ll know after a few days. 」
The Three Great Demons’ presences in the kingdom had been a long-time headache after all. Since Ardis had subjugated it, there’s no doubt his name will be known everywhere.
「Hey, the waitress there. 」
「Bring some drinks for everyone with this. It’s my apologies for the fuss. 」
Ardis called out to the waitress and handed over a bag full of silver coins. Opening the bag, it was filled with enough silver coins for everyone here to be drinking till dawn with spare.
「T-This much!? 」
The surprise of the waitress eventually spread throughout the tavern and it didn’t take much time for it to turn into cheers.
「Hey, brother! Is it really fine!? 」
「Serious!? Today’s free drinking!? 」
「Oooh――! Let’s drink! 」
The tavern, which was in total silence just a moment ago, became noisy in an instant from the drunkards. Ardis who was satisfied with the reaction he was aiming for tried to leave just like that and was stopped by the bearded man.
「Brother, what’s your name? 」
「I see, thanks for today. 」
The man grinned at Ardis, and yelled out at the tavern in a loud voice.
「Oi, you all! Today’s the treat of Ardis who subjugated the Three Great Demons! Let’s drink until the tavern is empty! 」
With the sound of cheering coming from his back, Ardis stepped out to the capital that was starting to be enveloped in the grey skies.