– Bang! Booboom! Boom!
“Hey, a bit! More gentle! Go more gently!”
I almost bit my tongue.
The speed was too fast and the slope of the mountain was much steeper than I had expected.
Boom, boom! My body was bobbing up and down despite having the weight of Christelle and the Imperial Prince on my back.
I was tightly hugging Demy with one arm while clenching the reins tightly with my other arm and lowering my body.
‘Demy also made this with his vines… holy shit. Isn’t that a cliff over there?!’
“Left turn, left turn! Ahhh!”
The demonic beast’s long tail and poison sting were shaking as it flew up in between the cliffs.
‘You don’t even have wings!’
My brain felt as if it was floating, I got chills even in my eardrums, and my heart felt as if it had fallen under my feet.
The T Express roller coaster in Everland was child’s play compared to this.
“Demy, it’s okay. At least big bro will be going with you even if we die.”
I knew that I shouldn’t say things like that to a kid. The words coming out of my mouth were not normal, but that was probably because of the crazy situation.
I looked down to see an endless dark valley with its jaws wide open.
I clenched my eyes shut and internally prayed to be saved.
Swoosh. The valley wind touched us as it passed by.
I could hear the two annoying pests breathing on my neck as they soundly slept.
Our bus safely landed on the other side of the cliff!
I didn’t have any time to catch my breath as I grabbed the second and final apple.
Things had gone according to my plan up until now.
At least my luck was extremely high thanks to having both MCs on my back.
“Here’s the extra fare!”
I threw the blue-gray apple to the front, which made the scorpion or centipede or whatever it is illusion beast accelerate again.
I gulped after feeling my body start to lean. This thing was crazy for apples.
The bastard had charged at us in the valley as soon as I threw an apple at it, and…
– Screech! Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech!
‘Wow, its shell is so slippery! I really don’t like it!’
– Kiiiiiiiiiii, kiiiiiiiiii!
It had followed the rolling apple like crazy until now.
It had not paid any attention to the fact that Demy and I were on its back.
The demonic beast charged through tall trees and grass at full speed, climbed up and down boulders all while clicking its claws nonstop.
At this point, I even felt some pity for its foaming mouth.
‘Did generations of this monster get haunted by a ghost that died unable to eat an apple?
– Kit, kit! Kiiiiiii! Kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!
The bastard’s reaction suddenly changed from before and it stopped.
I peeked to the side of its body to see if the apple got caught in between two rocks or something.
What I saw was, thankfully, something that was much better news.
I could see two large white tents at the edges of my foggy view.
They were the thousands of spectators on the wide plains in front of the Duhem Lord’s Castle.
The Sword of Wisdom from the Flaming Star seemed to have finally stuck the demonic beast’s nerve.
I was now certain that this bastard would charge straight toward the stadium with or without the apple.
That was good. The Great Clearance of Demonic Beasts was almost over.
I could hear faint cheering from the distance. I had no way of knowing whether the spectators noticed us.
I caught my breath for a moment and did my best to look behind myself.
I could see the demonic beast’s tail and poison stinger looking like the end of a brush while shaking behind the pink and black heads of hair.
“Demy, we need to take care of that.”
I whispered to him. I was sure it was that.
I had to make at least the minimum amount of preparations before waking up the two MCs and definitely before this damn stupid scorpion turned the competition into a mess.
– Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech! Grrrrrrr! Grr! Kiiiiiit!
My head jerked back. The bastard let out the most aggressive noises I had ever heard from it before charging forward.
I tightly clenched the reins and did my best to not lose my balance.
I quickly rummaged through the bag with my other hand.
[Please wake up now, both of you.]
He thought that he heard someone whispering those words.
Cédric Riester felt stiffness throughout his whole body as he slowly opened his eyes.
However, things looked hazy.
He couldn’t tell whether he was still dreaming or if he had regained his consciousness.
Even things like where he had last been or what he had been doing were not clear.
Everything was quiet. It was as if he was buried in a pile of ashes. He slowly moved his fingertips.
Flinch. The Imperial Prince jerked his body up as if he had been electrocuted.
Small flames were crackling and disappearing nonstop at his fingertips when he looked down at his left hand.
It was his bare hand.
He did not see the strong magic tool that helped him just barely block the unstable flow of his ether day after day.
His fingertips were like craters that could release embers at any moment without his glove.
He frowned. It was dangerous like this.
He was too much of an ominous presence.
He could finally see his surroundings. His surroundings were opaque and foggy.
He remembered that he had seen something similar to this before he fainted as well.
To be more specific……
‘Father. It was all my fault.’
‘You should not have sacrificed yourself for me. It should have been me-’
There was a person with long black hair and eyes as dark blue as the deep sea.
Prince Consort Alexandre looked as he had been on the day he left this world. He was even wearing the same clothes.
The way his eyes curled up gently and his considerate words were full of affection for his young son.
‘It’s okay, Sadie. It’s nice and warm thanks to your flames.’
It was the way he always looked whenever he appeared in the Imperial Prince’s nightmares until a few months ago.
His instincts told him it was an illusion. It was some petty trick by a damn demonic beast.
However, he had been unable to control his shaking emotions and raging wrath.
‘……How dare you.’
‘A damn demonic beast dares to bring my father.’
‘I will not forgive it.’
Everything had turned red after that.
The world had burnt up in red and the inside of his head was boiling to the point that he could not comprehend anything.
The Marquis’ land and mountain were completely covered in fire.
The screams of animals and what sounded like someone trying to console him mixed together, confusing his ears.
His cursed power had gone berserk. All because he couldn’t hold in his stupid anger one time.
He had killed numerous people. Killing just his father had not been enough.
However, there was fog once again.
He couldn’t breathe properly.
That painful illusion could return at any moment and turn him into a monster.
It will continue to do so until he burned up everything in the world until there was nothing left.
It will continue to do so until the valley that was now only dry dirt was covered in ashes like falling snow.
The Imperial Prince clenched his left hand.
“Your Royal Highness, I ask for your cooperation if you are done resting.”
He jerked his head up. Cédric looked up at the direction of the voice.
“Is your condition still not well? I’m sure I gave you plenty of ether.”
He could see blood on the pale forehead of this person that was visible through the gaps in his now messy golden hair.
He looked into the purple eyes that were sparkling like amethysts.
This guy was speaking in a concerned tone when he was the one who was injured.
The world suddenly turned chaotic as if everything had been a lie. His ears were finally working again.
“Your highness, I will take care of the entrance area!”
“Sarnez! Sarnez! Sarnez!”
The cheering of thousands of people who were riled up by the excitement of the Great Clearance slammed against his ears.
Then the sound of a heavy wave and Christelle de Sarnez’s voice struck him from the front and back.
It seemed as if he was at a crowded beach.
He was at least certain that they were not at the mountain he had burnt up. It felt as if he had been teleported.
“This is the stadium. We have descended the mountain. I am here so please feel free to use your powers as much as you like.”
“It is just water vapour that has fallen to the ground. It is just a normal fog. I cut off the scorpion demonic beast’s poison stinger so it can’t release that illusion f, damn it!”
A demonic beast that had cut through the fog attacked the prince’s circle.
The prince seemed quite shocked despite it not doing much damage.
Cédric watched him as he slowly got up.
His bones ached as if he had rolled down a hill.
– Crackle, crackle……
The prince must have heard the fire as he looked down at Cédric’s left hand.
It made Cédric’s heart ache.
‘This guy should know everything now too. He should have experienced the truth of my terrible curse as it happened right in front of his nose.’
“Are you scared?”
“No, it’s just that……”
He had a concerned look on his face.
“I left your glove behind, your Royal Highness. I completely forgot to pick it up.”
“It’s a fire so I think it would be nice and warm in the winter. You’ll never have to worry about your hands being cold.”
The prince smiled and adjusted the divine beast in his arms.
Bang! The demonic beast slammed against the Holy Domain once again. It looked to be a mix of a wolf and a lion.
Its mana didn’t seem strong, so it was probably one of the peons that reacted to the Sword of Wisdom’s ether and came down.
“Demy, do you want to do it? Should we go, ‘bad boy’ and scold him?”
The divine beast raised both paws.
The Imperial Prince silently observed green vines shooting up from the dirt of the plains.
The demonic beast was coughing in pain as it was choked but, oddly, he felt as if his breathing was getting easier.
“Young lady Sarnez will steal the victory from you if you continue to blank out and just stand there, your Royal Highness.”
The prince commented to him. Cédric finally blinked once.
“Ohhhhhhhh!” The spectators were cheering with excitement. He could hear water slapping around in the distance.
“Over there is the Sword of Wisdom from the Flaming Star.”
The prince pointed behind the Imperial Prince with his hand but he did not turn around.
The presence of the Sword of Wisdom was so strong that he could feel it even if all five of his senses were blocked.
However, nothing would be purer than the ether in the plate located in front of his eyes right now.
“I guess you really are not afraid.”
“I already told you that I am quite a strong priest when we were going up the mountain, your Royal Highness. I am not running away.”
The Imperial Prince let out a small breath. It almost sounded like a laugh.
He quickly reached his left hand out and placed it on the prince’s head.
A warm flame touched the bloody forehead.
The prince sounded anxious at the sudden development.
“Hold on. What-”
The Imperial Prince ruthlessly pulled at the prince’s ether.
The purple eyes were looking at him as if he was a madman.
“Why are you taking even more when I gave you a ton earlier?!”
“You were the one who said that you will not run away.”
‘I won’t let you go.’
His orange eyes were fluctuating.
This was his last and only chance.
“Seriously…… That shithead is a total crazy bastard.”
I was dizzy.
It wasn’t to the point of fainting, but I was certain that I had been left with just enough ether left in me to stay conscious.
I had twisted my right leg a bit when I was sent flying from the scorpion demonic beast earlier, so it was almost too difficult to remain standing.
I slowly lowered my body and sat down.
“Aigoo, my body aches.”
– Scrreech, screech, screeeech……
“Big bro is okay. The problem is that the damn Imperial Prince’s head is not okay.”
The Imperial Prince’s eyes definitely seemed crazy right before he left.
Demy groaned and crawled up my chest.
He seemed so concerned that I couldn’t help but laugh.
These injuries would be easily healed if a healing priest helped me.
It was a bit disappointing that you could not use healing powers on yourself.
“This is really the end!”
Christelle’s energetic shouts echoed throughout the stadium.
I kept my legs stretched out and only turned my upper body to look toward her direction.
I could see a figure energetically shoot up into the air in the middle of the dim stadium.
Her blue jacket fluttered in the wind.
There was an extremely long water spear floating at her right.
Her target was the scorpion demonic beast who already had its two claws melted away by holy water.
The floating Christelle vigorously flicked her whip forward. The spear shot forward at the same time.
The moment thousands of spectators gasped with sweaty palms…
The air shook a bit.
Then a large aftershock filled the stadium. I fell to the ground from my seated position.
I could taste sand in my mouth. I hugged Demy out of reflex and curled up into a ball.
“Cough cough! Cough, cough!”
Suddenly ingesting dust made me start coughing. I was dumbfounded as to what might have happened.
Was it a demonic beast? But all of the beasts other than the scorpion demonic beast were weak.
The Imperial Prince roasted all of the demonic beasts that had come from the first and second waves so only a small handful had made it down to the stadium……
“The Great Clearance is over.”
A familiar low voice pierced through the crowd. I got up even with my body creaking and looked for the owner of the voice.
I noticed that I could see clearly again.
The earlier blast seemed to have gotten rid of the fog.
“It’s his Royal Highness! His Royal Highness, he……!”
One of the spectators broke the tense silence and shouted.
The woman’s voice was cracking with excitement.
Astonishment, admiration, fear, and reverence spread through the audience like wildfire.
The man was standing where the Sword of Wisdom had been, arrogantly looking down at the plain.
I blankly looked at the Imperial Prince.
To be more specific, I was looking at the sharp, black divine item in his left hand.
‘Look at this bastard taking the prize even before he is declared the winner……’
“That’s cheating, your Royal Highness!”
Christelle laughed in disbelief as she shouted. She was rolling around on the ground as well.
The Imperial Prince moved the hand holding the sword to his chest, showing no reaction as to whether he heard her or not. And then…
The sword caught on fire from the end of its hilt to the tip of its blade. It was the exact same color as his eyes.