Translator: Denryuu; Editor: Ryunakama
According to Lord Kuusela, that demon always ‘vanished’ from his room, which I was almost certain was via a ‘Gate’. Following the trail before it could go cold, I used the existing ‘Gate’ in his room and blinked to a quiet street filled with warehouses.
I was just in time to see a male demon about to assault Lyla.
Seemingly unfazed by my first blow, the demon crawled out of the hole in the wall.
「Just a human, huh?」
Lyla introduced him to me.
「He’s my younger brother — Linus Diakitep.」
「A corps commander… no way Dee can stand up to you」, I said to the slowly approaching Linus.
「I was wondering who would dare to attack me, but a human, of all things?」
「I wanted to capture you alive, but there’s been a change of plans.」
「A change of plans? I see. What will a human like you do to me, then?」, he taunted through a forced smile.
「I’ll kill you.」
I felt Lyla’s piercing gaze on me, but for only a moment.
「What exactly are you, human-like creature?」
「If I’m human-like, then to be killed by me makes you even weaker than a human.」
I had clearly hit a nerve. Linus took a deep breath to regain his composure, rendering himself impervious to any further taunting.
「Before you die, I want you to tell me what ‘Second’ is. Did you create it yourself?」
「What use is such knowledge to a dead man?」
「Hm. What a shame, then.」
I would deliver a few samples to King Randolph after this anyway. Even without Linus’s cooperation, given enough time, we’ll eventually know its chemical composition.
Once again, Linus began to cover his fists in magicka.
‘Magic Regus’, Lyla had called it a long time ago. I suppose that was what Dee had fallen to.
Activating my skill, I quickly shifted to his blindspot. He had probably seen me move, but lost track of me in an instant.
「That’s a powerful spell you have there.」
Hearing my voice behind him, Linus turned around in surprise.
「How did you… a high-order demon spell –!?」
「You think too highly of me. It’s just my Hazure Skill.」[T/N Note: ‘Hazure’ simply refers to the skill being ‘impractical’ or ‘a failure’. Thus, ‘Hazure Skill’ can be treated as a derivative of the general term ‘skill’, referring to Roland’s ‘Faint Shadow’ in this case.]
After having his left fist knocked away, Linus began to engage me in hand-to-hand combat. I felt a breeze by my ear and smelled crisp, burning air.
「Your experience, technique and creativity will never be a match for mine. Not in a million years. It’s almost as if you’ve never fought someone stronger than you?」
He was nothing more than a brat who only knew how to strategize on paper.
Despite him repeating the same attack many times in a flash, I still had ample time to think.
「I had no time to think properly when I fought the Demon King. Do you really think you can beat me?」
Fueled by anger alone, he would eventually run out of steam. Poor child, always looked down upon by everyone.
「A fine balance between offense and defense must be maintained in hand-to-hand combat. Did your mother not teach you that?」
His breathing pattern was disrupted for only a second, but it was enough for me. Grabbing Linus’s forehead with one hand, I slammed him into the ground headfirst.
「A completely one-dimensional attack — I expected no more from a one-trick pony like you. Even I can do that kind of magic, you know?」
I tried repeating what Linus had done earlier. As I channeled magicka into my right arm, he lay flat on the ground, staring at me in disbelief.
「Impossible…! Using ‘Magic Regus’ requires a level of finesse and attention to detail that no mere human could ever…」
「Such is the magic that you swear by. Do not look down on humans.」
I looked at Lyla.
「Linus」, she called out. 「Listen… you have no chance of beating him. Do you see this neck ring? It was him who put it on after defeating me!」
「Why are you on his side!? Don’t fuck with me! Do you have no pride as a demon, shameless wench!?」
「You’re one to lecture us on pride」, I said as I smacked him with my palm. 「That girl… no, Lyla tried to save even someone like you, you know? She has been tirelessly ensuring that every last straggler from the war eventually returns to the demon realm. It is a cause she believes in with all her heart.」
「Kuh…」, Linus spat as he gnashed his teeth in humiliation.
「I may be shameless… but after falling in love with this man, the boundaries defining ‘Demon King’, ‘demon’ and ‘human’ no longer mean anything to me.」
「Just as I thought! You’re not the Demon King! A person of your caliber should never have been one! I should have been the rightful heir all along…!」
「Some ‘caliber’ you have, lowly peddler of dangerous drugs.」
「Look, Linus, I’ve come to realise that humans and demons aren’t all that different. For demons like us to have looked down on the humans and even wage a war against them… was a grave mistake…」
「How dare you say that! Out of all people, you should be the last to say something like that! Do you know how many of our comrades sacrificed themselves…!? If you’re still following the path of evil, then end my life, right here and now! If you’re really the Demon King, then stop showing that blasted compassion –」
「You know, I think so too. That was the ideal — for a Demon King anyway. I grew tired of that life, Linus. That’s why I abdicated. I owe it to this man that I was given a new lease of life.」
Looking at Lyla one final time, she closed her eyes and nodded.
「Seriously, how did it come to this… not only did you defeat a genius, but you even changed her personality… just how strong are you!? This isn’t fun… boring, really…」
Just like how Almeria had overshadowed me, he too had always lived in Lyla’s shadow. While he chose to resign himself to a life of mediocrity, however, I had tried to find the light for myself.
And find the light I did.
At the same point where Dee had been struck, I pierced Linus’s chest with my left arm.
「We have both played boring roles in life.」