Act 1-20.2 : Showdown Against Childhood Friend
「I-It seems that you’re not aiming for my life. Isn’t that right, Dark Knight?」
When he saw Rena’s light smile as she spoke to him, Kuroki dazedly got fascinated by its beauty. However, he knew that it was only a smile of relief since she now knew that he wouldn’t kill her.
「I came because there’s something I want to ask you, Goddess Rena.」
「Something to… ask me?」
「Yes. First, are you going to summon another person from the spirit world like me?」
That was one thing he wanted to know. The matter of her trying to return Shirone and Chiyuki back to their original world aside, he couldn’t help but be curious about the possibility of her trying to summon yet another person, a new hero.
「Ah, I see now… you’re mistaken about something, Dark Knight.」
「Then… eh, what?」
「I’m preparing to return the hero’s comrades. That will be more convenient to you, right?」
Rena thought that there was bad blood between Kuroki and Reiji. That’s why she thought that sending the hero’s comrades back would be more convenient to Kuroki. She didn’t understand why he came here and disrupted the ritual since his deep hatred towards the hero and his companions should have made him happy with this outcome.
「Our military forces will lose a great deal of power after we send the hero’s comrades back. Of course when they requested this, I had intended to summon other people to take their place. However, the Elios council forbade me from summoning other people from the spirit world. That’s why you don’t have to worry, I absolutely won’t summon anyone else.」
「Is that true? Then there’s something off here. As far as I know, it should be impossible to return summoned people to their original world, right?」
「Yes, you must’ve heard about this matter from Modes… But, you have no choice but to believe him. However, I’m not lying about the fact that I’m not going to summon someone else.」
「I understand. But then, it means that the hero’s comrades are in big trouble, right?」
「Sure they are. But, so what? It has nothing to do with you anyway.」
Upon hearing her cold-blooded answers, Kuroki grimaced then put on his helmet again.
Feeling the situation change yet again, Rena implicitly questioned his motives with a troubled face.
（I’ve confirmed what I need to know. Any further dialogue is unnecessary.）
Kuroki drew his sword as he leaped towards the first summoning assistant device. He swung his sword and sliced it from above.
Rena was speechless.
The top part of the assistant device slanted down as if to follow Kuroki’s slashing line, and fell on the floor.
Not giving Rena the chance to even utter a word, Kuroki headed straight towards the 2nd, then 3rd assistant device, slicing both off in the same manner as the first one. Once he reached the last of the four pillars and cut it down, Kuroki pointed his sword towards Rena, a murderous aura permeating his entire being.
「What are the hero and his comrades to you?」
Kuroki asked while holding back his anger. He couldn’t believe how appalling she was being. She was merely treating them as puppets; chess pieces that could be discarded at any time.
Rena on the other hand was utterly shocked by his question. She could feel the hidden rage within his tone, her expression changing to that of fear.
「… I see… that’s only natural since you’re a summoned person too.」
As if coming to a sudden realization as to why his reactions were different from what she expected, Rena uttered a statement with slight misunderstanding.
「Why… did you lie to them?」
「Because the performing summoning art was already… difficult… and now it’s all going to waste.」
Rena replied with a bitter smile.
Seeing her aggrieved smile, Kuroki thought that maybe she had no other choice; maybe she had to make up the existence of the reverse summoning ritual.
However, all of his conclusions were harshly demolished by her next words.
「I can’t help it! Seeing that repulsive thing—that ugly Modes… he went too far when he made a clone of me… Just imagining what he does with that clone makes me… 」
Rena exclaimed while averting her gaze filled with disgust.
「Even though we finally expelled him from Elios… he ended up doing THAT. How dare he?!」
Kuroki was at a loss for words. He realized that the origin of Rena’s conflict with Modes was a sort of psychological disgust. It was an utterly foolish reason and, unfortunately for him and the others, they were all summoned and thrown into battle for that silly conflict.
（Honestly, finding out the reason made me lose the will to fight. Her disgust must be so great to the point that she decided to start this needless and idiotic conflict.）
Kuroki felt his head pounding. He was certain that if Modes was a handsome and dashing man, a prince on a white horse liked by women, this kind of conflict would never have happened. But, unfortunately, Kuroki had to agree with Rena in regards to Modes’s outer appearance—it was really too ugly to bear.
（There are many stories in which the Demon King kidnapps the princess and then, a hero or knight in shining armor comes to save the damsel in distress. But reality can be cruel sometimes, huh?）
In the first place, there was no need to come to save the princess if the Demon King was a dashing and handsome man, adored and worshipped by many girls, nor would there be any conflict. After all, why would there be a need for a conflict if the princess was more than willing to become the Demon King’s s*x s*ave…
Though it was never mentioned in the stories, Kuroki had always thought that the Demon King who kidnapped the princess was most probably an ugly and annoying existence, who made the princess’s already difficult life even more sorrowful. However, in these same stories, it was also never mentioned that the Demon King’s life was spared by the supposed kind and benevolent princess after she was rescued. It was as if these stories were trying to implicitly show how much the princess abhorred and was disgusted by the mere existence of the Demon King.
（But, it’s still not a good enough reason for her to lie to Shirone and the others.）
Rena never told Shirone and the others the truth, that was the biggest reason why they chose to cooperate with her. However, if they knew the true reason behind the conflict, Kuroki was sure that they would never agree to participate in this battle any longer.
「Goddess Rena, I ask you simply tell the hero and his companions the truth.」
Kuroki got closer to Rena, a tense atmosphere enveloping the both of them.
「How about… you become my knight?」
But, Rena’s next words were beyond his every single expectation.
Kuroki let out a startled exclamation.
「Don’t you think that serving under a beauty like me is… far better than serving under an ugly man like Modes? That’s why you should become my knight.」
Kuroki was really confused when he heard Rena’s offer.
「Well, you might look like a dull man at first glance, but upon a closer look, you’re actually quite handsome.」
Rena continued on blabbering, ignoring the completely bewildered Kuroki.
Normally, he would be really delighted after hearing such an invitation from a transcending beauty like Rena. However, he couldn’t bring himself to agree now, not after knowing of her horrific personality.
「If it’s you, it’ll be no problem since you… are stronger than Reiji. So, what’s your choice?」
「In short, you’re telling me that I’m your next tool, right?!」
Kuroki didn’t miss the implication behind Rena’s words.
（Could it be that this enchanting Goddess really has such an extremely nasty personality inside?）
As Kuroki was pondering over that matter, a shadow of a person leaped up from the opened door.
That shadow barged into the room and slashed their weapon at Kuroki. Sensing danger, Kuroki retreated backwards to dodge the oncoming attack.
「I’ve come to save you, Rena!」
That shadow was Shirone.
「Sorry for not coming faster, those Spartois were blocking my way…」
Shirone pointed her sword at Kuroki while standing in front of Rena as if to protect her.
「You coward. How dare you point your sword towards a harmless and weaponless woman!」
Shirone shouted with an enraged look on her face.
If he was being honest, Kuroki didn’t want Shirone to look at him with that kind of look on her face. He felt a twinge in his chest.
「Get away from this place, Rena! Leave the rest to me!」
「A-y-yes… I understand, Shirone. I leave the rest to you…」
Rena, who was overwhelmed with Shirone’s spirit, quickly headed towards the door.
Just when Kuroki was about to chase after her, Shirone stood in between them yet again.
「I won’t let you leave this place! Your opponent is me!」
Shirone swung her sword filled with killing intent at Kuroki as she spoke.
Kuroki used his sword to parry Shirone’s attack.
Kuroki was really glad that Shirone’s swordcraft was as easy to read as ever. Parrying against her attacks was far easier for him, who was already familiar with her skills.
（How did things turn out this way? I have to take off my helmet and tell Shirone the truth.）
Kuroki parried Shirone’s sword again and retreated to gain some distance. Just as he was about to take off his helmet to explain the situation to his beloved childhood friend, he heard Shirone’s bellows.
「How dare you hurt Reiji-kun! I absolutely won’t forgive you!!」
Those words had shattered all of his expectations, he stopped his action of removing his helmet.
（D*mn it… Now I really can’t show my face to her. I had no intention to hurt Reiji but, it doesn’t change the fact that I wanted to fight him…）
Kuroki had fought Reiji to fulfill his duty of protecting Modes, but some part of him was actually jealous of Reiji and wanted to challenge him. He wanted to beat the cr*p out of that sh*tty hunk who was always surrounded and worshipped by beauties like Shirone.
As a result, he had ended up hurting the most important person to Shirone. That matter had always tormented him.
He never wanted to hurt Reiji, which is why he was now hesitating to reveal his face. He didn’t want Shirone to hate him.
He was now wondering for what reason he was still fighting.
He had always lost against Reiji and quarrelled with Shirone because of him. All of this had made him miserable. It was why he had done his best to change from his miserable pathetic past self.
He had increased the portion of his training and studying, and had put more effort to fix his previously gloomy appearance. However, even after all of this he had still lost— he couldn’t forgive his weak self; being weak was a sin.
Just as he had mustered the courage to challenge Reiji once more, he and his female followers had suddenly disappeared. Kuroki had felt dejected and lost at that time until he was summoned to this world as well. He had finally gotten the chance to have a rematch with Reji.
Of course, as always, Reiji simply couldn’t refuse the challenge.
To the world, Kuroki’s always uttered reason was a rematch.
But inside, he himself knew that what he always wanted was to gain some kind of proof of him being stronger than Reiji. He wanted to gain confidence in himself by fighting the one who had defeated him many times before. He no longer wanted to be consumed by raging jealousy.
That was the main reason behind Kuroki accepting Modes’s request and becoming one of his faction’s three great councilors.
「Not bad, Dark Knight! How about this!」
Shirone retreated as she spoke.
Suddenly, a pair of angelic wings appeared behind her, growing from her slender back.
Unbeknownst to Kuroki, Shirone had also manifested her ability upon coming to this world.
Shirone’s combat prowess rose to another level when her light wings unfolded.
「TAKE THIS! LIGHT WINGS’ ARROW!」
「WOAH?! O BLACK FLAME!」