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「It’s a pleasure to meet you all. Now, let us begin the test without delay. Whether or not you are worthy to be my opponents...」
The Holy Knights, after witnessing its appearance, immediately scattered and took up a defensive stance. They don’t have the leisure to erect a barrier. They need to make a split-second decision. Their cautiousness was due to the arrival of the Arch Demon. Unfortunately there are no other teams that had the capability to erect a barrier.
However, this situation could be considered fortunate if you look at it from a different point of view. The opponent that came before them was only one in number. And in this squad was Arnaud Baurman, the strongest Holy Knight that leads an undefeated party. Arnaud sprouts a fearless smile and encourages his companions...
「Don’t be afraid! There enemy is only one. Even though it’s an Arch Demon, it’s not a threat to us!」
True. They already have battle experience against Arch Demons from the past. When fighting the heretics, there were some who could summon Arch Demons using the High Demon Summoning. Until now they had never lost once against these people. For Arnaud, he was confident he could come out victorious, even in a one on one battle.
「Everyone, spread out! Two sub leaders shall support me; the other members will set up a simple Holy Barrier. Begin!!」
The Holy Knights reacted immediately to Arnaud’s instructions. They were the movements of well-trained first class warriors. Having lived through scenes of carnage many times, they were confident in their abilities as the fort that fights to protect the human race. Without hesitation they dispersed. They moved into a pentagram formation and erected a Holy Barrier that confined the commander and the two sub leaders with their opponent, the red haired demon, inside the barrier. But eerie as this was, during that time there was no movement from the demon. Sprouting an evil smile, the demon looked on happily at the Holy Knights’ movement.
「Oi, What’s wrong? You’re not going to interrupt us?」 Arnaud asked, trying to provoke it.
「Why would I do such a thing? You are all working hard. I will not interrupt you.」
A response that was clearly underestimating them. Arnaud stood with composure facing his opponent, but inside he was truly boiling with anger. As an expert-class knight, he’s trained himself to have control over his emotions in these situations, as not to lose his sight in anger. But the opponent's response was humiliating. How can an Arch Demon be so impudent! Arnaud thought this, and being extremely thorough, he made sure to keep it as just a thought.
There was no doubt that this was a threat to his troops. He was trained as a Holy Knight, so he had a clear grasp of it’s true strength. In their present condition, five people would be enough to take down an Arch Demon. Provided that the opponent was a common Arch Demon. Arnaud calmly observed the demon in front of him to measure his opponent. The opponent in front of him now was not just a common Arch Demon. With an air of composure, it stood there elegantly. The cloth it wore was elaborate, as if it signified it was not just a lowly demon. The purpose of these clothes were to show that it’s level was high.
Where it’s concerned, the possibility that this demon has been “named” is very likely. A named demon in itself is a big threat. And yet, his opponent was a high ranking named demon. He could not be careless. Even if he’s angry at the opponent before him, he can’t afford to lose his composure and cloud his own judgment. Arnaud unsheathed his sword.
「Oh? Are your preparations finished?」
「Yes, sorry to keep you waiting. Shall we begin? But before that there’s something I want to ask you... your name.」
To the demon’s question, Arnaud answered. And he took that opportunity to ask the Demon his name. Although he might not get an answer, if he does, he could know whether the opponent was “named” or not. The opposing demon,
「Oh! How rude of me. My name is Diablo. Even though this name was granted to me by the His Highness  Rimuru, I forgot to introduce myself..... I’m still so inexperienced.」
Happily, it introduced itself. Arnaud felt a cold sweat drip down his back. Dangerous. His instinctive alarm rang at it’s maximum. Introducing itself without any hesitation. It means that the opponent was an existence that was already gifted with a name. If the master dies, it’s “Named” status will disappear as well. Also, if it introduced itself with it’s real name, then that name can be used to manipulate it. Therefore, not introducing oneself was common sense among demon-kin.
So it was named by the Demon Lord Rimuru. It seems that the demon was telling the truth. Was it even feasible for a Demon Lord to grant a name to the likes of an Arch Demon? But right now it was useless to harbour such doubt. Even so, Arnaud prided himself as the one called the Strongest Holy Knight. He was the right hand man of Hinata, the Leader of the Holy Knights. And he had confidence in his place as No. 2. Supported by such confidence, Arnaud smiles fearlessly.
「 My name is Arnaud Baurman, the strongest Holy Knight. Engrave it into your soul, the name of the person who's going to destroy you. Enjoy your trip to hell!」
At the same time he declared that, he performed a Spiritual Power Release and activated his Spirit Armament. Instantly, five colors of light dazzlingly glistened and wrapped around Arnaud’s body. He was a Holy Knight who possessed the five attributes of Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Space. For a normal person, possessing two attributes was rare, but he was loved by five. His title as the Strongest Holy Knight wasn’t just for show. During this time, the other Holy Knights also performed a Spiritual Power Release. Each were clad in armour of their own attributes. In the middle of the shining multicolored lights was a shining pentagram. A simple-type Holy Field was cast. It wasn’t full powered due to the short amount of time to perform the ceremony… but with five Holy Knights, it was effective enough.
Inside the barrier, besides the two skilled Holy Knights, was the strongest one, Arnaud. Against an Arch Demon, there shouldn’t be anything to fear. Fortunately, Arnaud held in his hand a new type of armament, the Demon Slayer: a supreme sword made by the Seven Celestial Sages solely to fight against demons. Against the flesh, the sword was endowed with the ability to tear apart the magic power in the monster’s magic power configuration, so that it can’t reconfigure again. In other words, it can suck out the opponent's magic power.
This weapon was developed with the purpose to inflict damage against “Dragon Types”. It was the only sword that had been developed to have the same power as Hinata’s sword. The decision to equip Arnaud with it was correct. With this sword, any type of demon would surely be destroyed. At that time, Arnaud had absolute confidence in his weapon, but...
「Well then, let us begin the test.」
The demon casually said so. And the meaning of those words were quickly understood.
「U, Uwaaaaaaaa!! Don’t come, stop it, don’t come!!」 「Hiiiiiiii! He- help!!」
Etc. The members stumble where they stand while unanimously shouting. As Holy Knights, these members should have been accustomed with this kind of thing. Just what happened? Arnad couldn’t understand. This- this overwhelming fear was… The coercion released by the demon before him. It simply unleashed its suppressed Demonic Aura. That’s all.
「Oh my? Only three people were able to pass the test? Well, I offer you my praises. To be able to endure my『Demon Lord’s Haki』... I will shall permit you to be my personal opponents!」
The Demon excitedly declared. The Pentagram Barrier disappeared in an instant. The other Holy Knights, whose minds had snapped, didn’t have enough energy left to maintain the Holy Field. Arnaud was sweating bullets. Trying to wipe it off, he couldn’t even keep up. He was desperately trying to comprehend the current situation. Unbelievable. He didn’t want to accept it. The demon before him, just now… what did it say? Certainly it had said『Demon Lord’s Haki』... He’d never heard of such an ability. With it’s aura release alone, it reduced the Holy Knights to this powerless state. Even for a Demon Lord, that shouldn’t be possible. No. It might be possible for one legendary class of Demon Lord… He didn’t previously think it was possible for a “named” to be of that class.
「You......, The heck..... are you?」
Trying to squeeze out the words, Arnaud asked in a hoarse voice. Mustering all his willpower, he kept his fear from showing. Calmly he drove away his negative thoughts. Somehow, he succeeded in maintaining his composure. With Arnaud like that...
「Kufufufufufu, I am Diablo. The faithful servant of Rimuru-sama. If I perform brilliantly this time, the one getting the seat of first rank will be me.」
Such an answer came. In addition, making him dumbfounded.
「While I’m at it, allow me give the answer to your next question. I am not an Arch demon like you had previously said. But a Demon Duke. Even though the difference is slight, please don’t make that mistake again.」
It added that in, more words of despair…
「It’s over, everything is over.....」
The female aid Sofia bent down, and began to weep like a child. Her mind has also snapped. Demon Duke… that was the legendary existence. It was ranked higher than a self-proclaimed Demon Lord. Their previous appearances in this world were not documented, so it couldn’t be confirmed. But this legendary demon now certainly exists. Just like a Common Spirit can’t be compared to a Great Spirit Class. And a Great Spirit Class can’t win a fight against a King Spirit Class, even if several of them banded together.
「Oh? What are you doing? You have passed my test but you don’t seem happy in the slightest!」
The demon called out to the female adjutant whose mind had snapped. This situation never crossed Arnaud’s mind. While shedding tears she tried to run away, desperately. To the demon who had called out to her, she was unwilling to make eye contact and shook her head in denial. As a Holy Knight, she was a brave and dependable adjutant that survived situations of great peril before. But for the first time, she was showing signs of fear. She had great knowledge in Demonology, as a countermeasure against the heretics. Because It’s best to know your enemy. Not only that, but she also studied Summoned Demons and Demon Summoning. Because of that, she was very familiar with Demonology. The fact that this woman was frightened stiff was proof enough that the existance before them was in fact, a Demon Duke. Therefore, measures must be taken against that.
「Can you still fight, Bacchus?」
He asked his other adjutant. His reliable partner and trusted right-hand man. Bacchus nodded with a pale face. To overcome this crisis with just them two they must make a breakthrough. After linking with Hinata, this demon would meet it’s end. Arnaud gathered up the resolve and concentrated on stirring up his willpower.
「Oi! Do you have to torment my adjutant and subordinates? Leave them alone! Your opponent is me!」
Arnaud shouted and conducted his attack with all of his might. From Arnaud’s left palm, a mass of light was discharged. That was the Holy Cannon. Among the magic types that Holy Knights are fluent in, was〈Divine Magic〉. It was a simple type of magic and the effects depend on the ability of the user. The attack has holy attributes and was able to inflict damage to any type of monster. However. The demon caught the ball of light and crushed it in its palm like it was nothing.
「Kufufufufufu. This is quite painful. My palm has gotten burnt. Then, next is that person’s turn?」
The demon said in a calm manner, like nothing happened. However, Arnaud’s true aim wasn’t to damage it with the Holy Cannon. While the opponent was taking the attack from the Holy Cannon, Bacchus took a roundabout path to get at it from behind and struck it in the back with his Great Axe. The Great Axe was called a Demon Killer, a magic weapon used to cut down Devils.
Even a Demon Duke couldn’t avoid taking damage from that attack. Moreover, the attack didn’t stop there. At the same time Arnaud fired the Holy Cannon, he also prepared his own Demon Slayer. 〈Spirit Beheading〉was an ultimate technique using the basic technique of 〈Fighting Sprit〉. By cladding the weapon in Fighting Spirit it can cut down anything. Fighting Spirit and Magical power can be applied on various techniques, but… Arnaud was the strongest Holy Knight. He clad his sword in his Fighting Spirit, and it glistened in fives colors. So, converting his five attributes of Spirit Power into Fighting Spirit, he fused them together and with it, clad his sword. The Genius Arnaud. It was because of this special technique that Arnaud was called the Strongest Holy Knight.
「Shut up, monster! Eat this and die! Ether Break (Kanji: Five Colors Spirit Virtuous Sword)!!」
A flash from Arnaud’s sword runs along the ground in a line. By using the Earth Spirit’s 『Weight Manipulation』, the user can decide on the swords desirable impact. At a speed that transcended the speed of sound, the sword’s edge reached Diablo. The strike was clad in Holy Attributes, an absolute killing power against monsters, along with the attribute to crush evil. A deadly sword that should cut down an Arch Demon with a single strike. It was impossible for even a Demon Duke to be uninjured. Not to mention he dealt the blow at the same moment it was being attacked from behind. A perfect surprise attack. Arnaud had no doubt it was the opponent’s certain death.
However, at the very moment Bacchus’ Great Axe would clash with Diablo’s head, Diablo lightly tapped his toe to the ground. With just that, the ground was upheaved and Bacchus, who was approaching from behind, was blown away into the air. Even so, Arnaud’s sword, exceeding the speed of sound with it’s imagined trajectory would still cut the nape of Diablo’s neck. It couldn’t be stopped.
He can do it! Arnaud was convinced of the victory he played out in his mind and put all of his strength into his hand that was grasping the sword. At the same time, he lightens the weight of the sword and then reverses it, driving it towards his target with double the power. Grasping the sword, he doubled its weight by several times by abrupting the generation inertia from gravity's force. This technique’s trait also doubled the sword’s momentum just before it collided with the enemy. For someone seeing this technique for the first time, it was impossible to evade it. Arnaud had certain belief in his victory. You could say it was a matter of fact. But, unfortunately… from the very beginning Diablo had no intention of evading it.
Arnaud's sword cut through the barrier Diablo had erected, and cut Diablo’s body. He felt the resistance. But… Arnaud immediately ran to Bacchus’ side. He confirmed Bacchus’ condition. It turned out that Bacchus was alright and was able to stand. Feeling relief, he switched his focus back to Diablo.
「Kufufufufufu. I see. What a wonderful technique. Especially the sudden acceleration the moment it makes impact. Even I had difficulty seeing it. And above all else… that attack that incorporates various attributes. Few would be able to withstand that attack. Splendid, truly splendid!」
He began praising Arnaud’s sword art. But Arnaud doesn’t feel the least bit happy hearing it. Obviously. Because clearly the demon wasn’t suffering any damage after taking his sword strike.
「Oi......... You didn’t suffer any damage at all?」
Though he didn’t want to ask, the words unconsciously slipped from his mouth.
「Oh? Does it seem that way to you? That is just an overestimation. I planned to offset only the Holy attributes with my magic barrier, but unfortunately I felt your strike. It seems my magic power had been deprived, just a little though. Thanks to... your sword; It seems to posses the ability to steal the opponent's magic power. I overlooked it. But even so, it is also wonderful!」
What it was not enough? It’s like it didn’t receive any damage at all from the technique. This wasn’t a joke. That ultimate move definitely hit it. An attack that possess various attributes and can easily pierce through several layers of defense barriers. And despite that... That attack was supposed to be the decisive blow. Arnaud’s chance of victory was nonexistent. And acting as the final blow to Arnaud were these merciless words from the demon:
「That's right. With this level of damage, I need to receive about 4.000 hits before I will be annihilated. But... a point of advice, I can recover about 40% of that damage in 1 hour. How is that? There is still some hope for you. Now then, shall we resume again?」
So it said, while spreading its hands. Next to him, Bacchus gave up with a sigh.
「Hey, Arnaud, It’s impossible. We can’t hold out like this. Though this might be better than doing nothing at all… I’ll buy you some time, so please call Captain Hinata. That's a Captain’s class with inhumane power, it’s not an opponent we can fight.」
He whispers to Arnaud.
「No, I will buy you time. You.....」 「You Fool. Your feet are quicker than mine! Above all, there’s hope if you and Captain are together. It is no good if it’s me!」
Bacchus shouted and pushed Arnaud away. Arnaud, hearing those words, bit his lip and started to run. But, the reality was cruel.
「Kufufufufufu. Oh my! Where do you think you going? My mission is to hold you all off here. I will not allow any of you to get past me.」
Forced to stay? For a moment he didn’t understand what it meant by that, but there in front of Arnaud, his companions who were previously on the ground, were now blocking his way.
「You guys, step aside!」
Arnaud shouted, but the demon pointed him to the harsh reality before him.
「Oh my! Your companions still seem intent to play. I only asked them if they would be so grateful to betray their ally?」
So it said. Arnaud looked at his companions properly. They each wore a blank expression, as if they were in some sort of trance.
「So- Sofia! Stop it! Come to your senses!」
Arnaud turned to face Bacchus who was vomiting blood while shouting to the other adjutant Sofia, who was sobbing in front of him. She had the same trance-like look on her face as the others, standing across from Bacchus who was holding out his sword.
「You bastard..! What have you done to my companions!!」
Arnaud glares at Diablo and shouts. The demon replies with a sneer.
「Kufufufufufu. What are you implying..... Nevertheless, I only tempted them. Because they feared me, they seem to have accepted it easily.『Temptation』, that is.」
Arnaud suddenly realized. There was a characteristic of monsters that were Demon-kin called the Temptation skill. To mesmerize the target. An ability that can manipulate someone’s mind as it likes. But, he’d never heard of a Demon that had the ability to mesmerize a Holy Knight. To save someone under this mesmerization you either have to defeat the demon who is manipulating them… or kill the person. To sum it up, the only thing that can be done now is to evade his companions attacks and defeat Diablo. If not, the only option left was to kill his comrades. He can’t go easy on the Holy Knights. Even subconscious, these guys were pragmatic. Someone who is mesmerized moves their body subconsciously. This was too much… their awareness was cursed through temptation.
This opponent was... This Demon was... clearly a Disaster Class. A threat that stood on equal grounds with a Demon Lord. Bacchus who was holding off Sofia, was strangled from behind by two Holy Knights. And just like that he lost consciousness. He had remained fainted, but now that meant Arnaud remained alone. To get through this situation alone… was not an impossible feat. Furthermore…
The red haired Demon’s gold oblong pupil glistened a bewitching hint of red as he held up Sofia with one hand. Suddenly, Sofia’s beautiful blonde hair turned a deep crimson red, as if it were soaked in blood. She showed an ecstatic look on her face. Her hair turned back into blonde. He looked at her suspiciously. Sofia lost consciousness and fainted. No way! His worry suddenly turned frantic.
「Kufufufufu. whoops, that was dangerous. I unintentionally turned her into a Fallen. If I do such things, there’s no way Rimuru-sama will give me the seat of first rank.」
Leaving Arnaud with these uncertain words, Diablo turns his head in his direction. What he’d just seen was the demon making the Holy Knight Sofia into its companion. He didn’t want to imagine what would have happened if it succeeded. The demon was for some reason concerned about his actions and stopped halfway through. Thus, Sofia was saved. But it was still too early to be relieved. After all…
「Well then, Let’s resume. Launch whatever attack pleases you. Until I get tired, I will be your opponent!」
Left alone without a single reinforcement and surrounded by five Holy Knights. It was impossible to escape this. Even so, Arnaud refused to give up. His last hope was held in Hinata defeating the enemy’s boss and coming to his adjutant. Arnaud prepared himself. The curtain on “Arnaud’s hopeless fight” has risen.