Campione! / Campione! Vol 11 Chapter 5


Chapter 5 – Milan Rhapsody
Part 1
On a certain night in April, Godou found out from the team of seven
attackers about the conflict in Italy.
Also, having failed their assault mission, the attackers apparently intended
to flee to southeast Asia or South America, presumably to lie low until
things cooled over.
“…I feel almost like a criminal.”
“Well, just similar circumstances.”
Hurting all over his body, Godou’s injuries healed as he spoke.
Whether bruises or internal bleeding, all recovered without a trace. The
pain vanished. On the other hand, the seven men who were caught up in
the [Boarj’s destruction were the ones who were left with injuries all over
instead.
After bidding the men goodbye, Godou took out a memo.
It was a memo that recorded how to make an international telephone call.
Godou looked at the section on calls from Japan to Italy as he operated his
cellphone. Even though the calling charges were expensive, Godou had no
choice. No matter what, Erica must be contacted — thinking that, he held
the phone to his ear and waited.
The loud ringing tone echoed in his ear. No one was picking up. Just as
Godou was about to give up:
‘Calling at such a time means that you have become aware of the
situation.’
Naturally, the voice Godou heard was Erica’s.
‘Let me clarify beforehand. Godou, your being a pacifist is one of your
good points even though it’s a lie.’
“What is going on?”
‘For the organization’s lower branch personnel to be deployed, and to fail
the mission regardless of their numbers, such clear mismanagement
reflecting poorly on the organization’s reputation should normally be
impossible. Nevertheless, given that you’re calling now, it is only natural to
assume you threatened them with a show of absolute force.’
“…Putting that aside for now, let’s cut to the chase. I heard those guys
mention a very strange order.”
Unbelievable how much Erica could deduce from a single call.
Erica’s wit and intelligence were impeccable. Godou changed the subject a
little forcibly.
‘It’s Salvatore Doni-sama. The sixth Campione. Born in Italy. He is the
alliance leader ruling over the magical associations of southern Europe.’
“Alliance leader… Something like a big boss?”
‘The description lacks elegance, but you are correct. However, Sir
Salvatore rules but does not administrate. Rather than ruling through
troublesome methods of domination, he keeps southern European magi in
line through fear and servitude.’
“The one I met at the airport in Palermo? Why are you telling me this?”
Godou brought up the greatest question occupying his mind, and Erica
replied gloomily:
‘That time, he asked you “Let’s have a duel?” It was not a joke. He was
completely serious. But Godou refused, so that’s the cause.’
Godou was rendered speechless by this unexpected answer and could
only say “Eh?”
‘Probably because he is interested in the Campione named Kusanagi
Godou and wanted to have a serious fight. But you coldly rejected him…’
“Wait a minute, Erica. These things you’re saying are a bit strange.”
‘There’s nothing strange about me. Strange are the things that go through
Sir Salvatore’s mind.’
“You really said an awful thing without any hesitation…”
Godou recalled the conflict with Bianchi.
At the time, Erica had subtly agreed that a certain Salvatore was an idiot.
“In other words, that guy is a fool with no common sense?”
‘Stated simply without the use of rhetoric, yes, that’s exactly it. Anyone with
the slightest courage and sense of justice who has spent any amount of
time with him, would express their impressions with the words “fool” or
“idiot” without hesitation.’
“Why would that kind of guy be treated as the boss!?”
‘It cannot be helped. Because he is a Campione. Undoubtedly, he is the
god-slaying warrior! Furthermore, stupidity and magnanimity are not
mutually exclusive.’
Erica’s serious tone of voice made Godou silent.
‘Indeed, he is a fool foreign to common logic. Nevertheless, he is also a
rare hero. Even if all the magi of the world challenged him with all their
might, there is no chance of winning against him. The one known as
Salvatore Doni, is precisely a monster of that level.’
After delivering this exceptional commentary, Erica continued further.
‘Hey Godou, if you intend to dig deeper into this incident — or rather, get
involved with us, it’s best for you to give up the notion. You should continue
living peacefully in Tokyo.’
Godou frowned to find his hidden wish suddenly exposed.
‘Visits like this one will happen who knows how many times so you should
dodge them appropriately. Given your power, even if you encounter
trouble, there shouldn’t be any difficulties, right?’
“Hey hey…”
Realizing the intentions of Erica’s faction, Godou was slightly surprised.
‘Listen well, this is a critical juncture in your life. Everything that happened
in Italy is just a dream. Please wipe it clean from your memory and
continue living a peaceful life.’
“That time with Melqart, didn’t you say I must make a stand and fight?!”
‘There was no choice then. But this time, we still managed to escape from
Sir Salvatore. So here’s my greatest advice: do not step foot in Italy — or
rather, Europe, ever again.’
Erica’s seriousness could be felt from her solemn diction.
‘Sir Salvatore simply cannot wait to start a fight should you come.
Furthermore, we of the [Copper Black Cross] have also received strict
orders to restrain you with all our power. You understand what that means,
right?’
“…Erica will become my enemy too?”
‘There’s no other choice. Even if you are also a Campione and stand on
equal terms with Sir Salvatore… We are an Italian association. We have no
choice but to prioritize the orders, and especially strict orders, from our
alliance leader.’
Erica spoke indifferently with an emotionless voice.
‘Hence, I guess our relationship ends here. In fact, my telling you all this
would also be considered inappropriate… But no matter, it would be too
heartless to go without saying goodbye.’
“Ends here? Wait a minute, Erica!”
‘Farewell, Kusanagi Godou. Even though our days together were short,
those memories will be vividly carved into the depths of my mind forever.’
The connection was cut. Even if he called again, she probably would not
pick up again. Godou sighed.
What should I do? Live like a hermit, as Erica suggested? It was indeed a
wise choice. Safe, peaceful and practical. But-
“What the heck. In this kind of situation, how can I leave you alone!?”
What Godou wished most of all, was to ask Erica what exactly he should
do.
A great plan had formed in his mind. But he needed detailed opinions from
others to make adjustments.
The reason he decided that, was because the only friend he had made in
Italy, was Erica alone-
By the time his plan was placed into motion, it was already the last week of
April.
Japan’s Golden Week had just begun. As a high school student, Kusanagi
Godou also obtained his long sought extended holiday. As for him, he
planned on using the entire time on the faraway land thousands of miles
west of Tokyo. Having waited so long for this time to arrive, he had to
spend another twelve hours on a flight.
The time difference was eight hours. By the time Godou arrived at Milan’s
Malpensa Airport, it was afternoon.
Forcing his body in spite of the dizziness and fatigue caused by jet lag,
Godou boarded the train. Even though this city only had three rail lines,
overwhelmingly fewer than Tokyo, the routes combined together in a fairly
complicated manner.
However, Godou no longer suffered from any language barrier.
Asking for directions from passersby or staff as he took the train, Godou
spent a little over an hour to reach his destination, the Milano Centrale
railway station. Godou only used it for the subway, but this was also a hub
where domestic routes and international trains converged. There seemed
to be a total of twenty-four platforms.
“As befits a place even more urbanized than Sardinia or Sicily…”
Godou exclaimed in his heart.
Having lived in Tokyo, Godou was not surprised by large metropolitan
cities. However, this was a place where modern cityscape coexisted
seamlessly with Gothic or Roman streets like Europe’s ancient capitals.
Also, this district offered nostalgic trams above ground.
Along the gray street, an orange-colored tram slowly arrived.
Godou searched for his target building amidst scenery that could not be
found in Japan. He also had the option of taking a taxi, but since many
unknowns lay ahead of this journey, being economical was important.
…As a side note, Godou also intended this journey to be self-financed.
After Godou contacted Old Man Zamparini’s for counsel, the old man had
prepared the plane ticket (first class too!). Receiving this present in a
panic, Godou had frantically tried to refuse on the phone.
‘Don’t worry about it. It should already be obvious, money is no object!’
Thus, Godou’s refusal was boldly denied, yakuza style. Accepting the
ticket with immense gratitude, Godou desperately begged and managed to
downgrade the seat to economy class…
The old man also informed him how far information on “Kusanagi Godou”
had spread in Italy.
The magi of Sicily and Sardinia only publicized your deeds in accordance
to Your Highness’ orders. Hence, on the Italian mainland, rumors about
Kusanagi Godou are only circulating in an unsubstantiated fashion. The
only exception being Erica Blandelli’s [Copper Black Cross].’
The old man proceeded to refuse Godou’s offers of compensation by
asserting “If anything happens, I too, wish to extend a helping hand…”
Furthermore, the one who told Godou about the building he was currently
searching for, was the other person he sought counsel from.
Video conferencing with Lucretia Zola whose home was always equipped
with a computer and network access, Godou went through a “strategy
meeting” with her.
‘If you wish to make contact with Miss Erica’s association, the [Copper
Black Cross], visiting the building of their headquarters is the most direct
way.’
“Does a secret association even have headquarters?”
‘Do know that it is an association with a long history and connections to the
lineages of the Knights Templar. The Order was not only a military group
but also the world’s first organization in the financial industry, the precursor
of banking. In order to rob them of their immense wealth, King Philip IV of
France even went so far as to disband the Order.’
“I see…”
‘As one of its descendants, the [Copper Black Cross] also plays the role of
a financial group to the outside world. In actual fact, it is a prosperous
corporation that manages several different businesses. Furthermore, its
representative, Mr Paolo Blandelli — namely, the uncle in custody of Miss
Erica, is the commander-in-chief of the [Copper Black Cross] as well as a
legendary knight.’
Thus Godou was informed by the beauty who possessed slothful airs and
a sensual body.
Keeping Lucretia’s words firmly in mind, Godou looked at the map as he
wandered through the business district around the central station. Finally,
he found the building he was looking for.
A grand fifteen-story building. The people who frequented the premises
were mostly men and women in suits.
A high school student, and especially a Japanese who was clearly of a
different ethnicity, would need to be quite bold to enter that building.
Nevertheless, Godou stepped inside without hesitation.
Walking through the impeccably clean entrance of the building, he found
the reception before him.
Godou smiled and spoke to the middle-aged woman sitting there:
“Can you relay this to Paolo Blandelli with utmost urgency: Kusanagi
Godou has arrived in Milan. I will enjoy myself a little in this neighborhood,
so do whatever your obligations dictate. If you want to take me to Salvatore
Doni, bring it on as if your life depended on it. Please inform him with this
kind of feeling.”
On Lucretia’s advice, Godou made up this instigating speech.
Having expressed his demands, Godou departed without waiting for the
woman to reply. Along the way, he even gave the security camera an
intense glare before leaving the building.
After that, he took a casual stroll.
Since he was here already, he might as well get a view of the scenery.
Godou thought as he walked.
Part 2
Godou got off the subway at Duomo station, four stops away from Milano
Centrale.
Duomo — a Catholic cathedral, in other words.
This was a sacred domain for people to pray for wishes and sing praises of
the Lord. In short, it was an elegant and majestic religious building. In
terms of interior decoration, this Duomo di Milano truly stood out from other
cathedrals.
“Well, ignoring basics and jumping directly into practical applications, it
doesn’t mean much anyway.”
With that, Godou began touring Milan’s standard sightseeing destination,
the great cathedral.
This was the world’s largest Gothic building, with almost 150(!) spires, the
tallest one over a hundred meters in height. There were also over 200
painted sculptures. Given its long construction period of five centuries, the
cathedral’s magnificence matched perfectly.
Godou had previously seen cathedrals on the islands of Sardinia and
Sicily.
But in comparison, this was definitely in a class of its own.
After sightseeing for a while, Godou realized he had yet to have lunch. He
was strolling along the main street and wondering what to eat when the
aroma of cheese wafted into his nostrils.
Following the scent, he found a delicatessen-like shop with a crowd of
people standing out front eating something like bread. Lining up
obediently, it took quite a while before Godou could enter the shop.
Everyone was there to buy the popular pizza, which explained the large
crowd standing around eating.
The semicircular chewy bread was filled with plenty of cheese and tomato
sauce.
Indulging himself in this unusual atmosphere, Godou finished his hot and
tasty junk food.
There was a kind of itchy and slightly unpleasant feeling on his neck.
Someone was probably watching him. Were they going to start an assault
out on the open streets? Godou surveyed his surroundings. The place was
packed and bustling.
Godou’s authority did not offer abilities that would not disturb the
surroundings.
Perhaps, a more open space — a place easier to act unrestrained in would
be better. Godou resumed walking once again. Luckily he already had a
destination in mind. As it happened, the next place would be rather ideal
for his purposes.
Castello Sforzesco.
It was the castle of the Sforza family ruling Milan in the fifteenth century.
During the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci had participated in its interior
design. The very spacious plaza in front of this castle was adjacent to
Milan’s top park — Parco Sempione.
Passing by the castle, Godou intended to enter the park
Standing before the castle, he waited for the traffic lights to change. Like
other major cities, Milan’s traffic volume was massive as evidenced by the
vehicles whizzing before Godou’s eyes. At this time, a large RV suddenly
accelerated and hurtled directly towards Godou!
“Huh?”
Godou stared in shock at the speeding heavy vehicle.
Then he realized. People in the European world of magic all seemed to
think of Campiones as equivalent to monsters. Furthermore, Campiones
were virtually immune to the magic they specialized in.
Using “force” on such an opponent, was naturally equivalent to the efforts
of ants.
Anyway, I should protect myself first.
Evade — no, attack. Godou instantly made his decision. At some point
earlier, the [Bull] had been unlocked. Though heavyweight fighters were
ineligible, man-eating tigers or RVs were perfectly fine as targets — this
usage condition was really way too strict.
In any case, Godou’s body instantly overflowed with monstrous strength.
He then thrust his arms forward.
Thrusting his hands into the RVs hood, he completely halted the vehicle,
and using all his strength-
“Yaaaaaaaaaah!”
With both hands, Godou raised the two-ton RV high above his head.
Raised in the air, the four tires turned noisily, fruitlessly expending power.
In the driver’s seat was a middle-aged man, his face convulsing from fear.
Godou set the RV upside down on the sidewalk.
Since the car’s roof was resting on the ground, the four wheels continued
spinning in the air. Upside down, the driver in the vehicle made a sign of
the cross as he mentally prepared himself for something.
People nearby were basically flabbergasted. They must be having a hard
time accepting this scene as reality due to its ridiculous nature. Whether
young or old, black or white or oriental, everyone at the immediate scene
was stunned. Except a nearby man muttering “Wow…”
However, there also existed people who did not seem particularly
surprised. At the intersection of the plaza before Castello Sforzesco, on the
roadside and various other places, there were indeed several men who
glared sharply at Godou’s brute strength.
In that case — with a clang, Godou opened the RV’s door on the driver’s
side.
“Excuse me. Do you belong to that Copper whatever association?”
He directed his question to the driver who was still sitting upside down.
Since he was speaking to an elder, Godou naturally used polite language.
“Anyway, I am going to the castle and will be waiting for you guys there.
Please tell your companions that.”
Since their numbers were many, it might be difficult to handle if he entered
the park as originally planned. In terms of overpowering large groups, a
wide open space would take less effort.
“Also, can I rely on you guys to help guide ordinary people in the city to
safety?”
Palermo’s Zamparini and his faction had been able to do it.
Erica’s fellow members should be capable of the same given their
immense financial clout. Well, it did occur to Godou that things were
probably different in Milan this time, especially since they were suddenly
asked without sufficient time for preparation, but he ignored these notions.
Listening to this request, the middle-aged RV driver nodded repeatedly.
Rather than a “brave warrior challenging the Devil King Campione,” he
resembled more of a “worldly man rashly sent to battle on orders.” Quite
pitiful, to say the least.
In any case, Godou left the RV and ran into Castello Sforzesco a couple of
dozen meters away.
Erica was sitting in a room, watching events unfold using magic from afar.
This was a popular scene in fairy tales, analogous to a crystal ball showing
distant happenings to a witch…
Currently, the images were shown to Erica in exactly the same way.
Except that object displaying them was a large slim LCD television.
Erica’s taste for the nostalgic preferred the old fashioned crystal ball.
However, her fellow Great Knights did not approve and hoped she would
turn to more convenient tools.
–The current location was the tenth floor of the [Copper Black Crosses
headquarters, a “lounge” reserved for the top echelons.
Only those who had attained the rank of Great Knight were permitted to
use this room. Furnished with a billiard table, darts, chess and other
entertainment equipment, there was even a private bar.
‘Yaaaaaaaaaah!’
From the screen, Erica could see a familiar youth in an active display of
vigor.
He lifted a large vehicle, opened its door, declared “fight at Castello
Sforzesco” and left. Very likely, he did not want to cause trouble for the
surrounding people.
In that case, there was clearly an option which did not require fighting-
Erica was secretly surprised that the youth overlooked this fact.
“Just as we were at our wits’ ends dealing with Sir Salvatore’s
unreasonable excesses, yet another Campione arrives? Reality is a
complete nightmare…”
The one lamenting was one of the Great Knights, Clarens.
Bearing a shaved head and a presentable face, he was a striking black
man from Holland.
Thirty-one years of age. Equipped with capability, experience and insightful
knowledge, he was in fact a leading knight of the [Copper Black Cross].
But because his nationality was not Italian, he could not inherit the
leadership title of the [Diavolo Rosso].
“It can’t be helped. The opponent is a god-slayer, a Devil King Campione
after all.”
The one complaining in an outraged tone of voice was Gennaro Gantz.
Despite being an unrefined man in his early twenties, he was a Great
Knight with substantial achievements in magic and swordsmanship. Hailing
from southern Italy, he was Erica’s competitor for the [Diavolo Rosso] title.
In spite of his young age, the beard covering his face allowed him to
convincingly pass for over thirty years of age.
“Without the kind of personality that insists on paying injuries back fivefold,
he probably would not have been able to oppose a god…”
“By Sir Salvatore’s decree, ‘You people must lead Kusanagi Godou to my
location by any means necessary.'”
Clarens groaned with a gloomy expression.
“For us to naively execute this command and battle the seventh Campione
would be truly absurd. While we pretend to undertake this mission, the
estimate for finding that man is also…”
“Currently, Sir Salvatore is refusing to leave Milan. Critically overseeing
things at this juncture, you’re not going to get away with phoning it in.
Because you are in the [King]’s presence… By the way, Clarens.”
In a manner unbefitting of a Great Knight, Gantz spoke up.
Even though Erica did not hold this aspect of Gantz’s in high regard, he felt
the same way about her. Gantz too, often grumbled about Erica’s facade of
deliberate elegance.
“How are things on the search front?”
“Sir Salvatore’s chaperone… Or rather, his butler Andrea Rivera is still
missing.”
Blurting out chaperone, Clarens corrected himself nonchalantly.
“His last sighting happens to be two weeks ago. Our [Copper Black Cross]
received the decree exactly one day before that.”
“Then isn’t the truth obvious!”
Gantz roared gruffly.
“If that serious man disappeared, Sir Salvatore surely must have thought
he could spread his wings!”
“Ah yes. The report about Rivera said, contact was lost on his way to the
Etruscan ruins at Bologna on Sir Salvatore’s orders… Very likely, the
incident started there. Maybe a group kidnapped and imprisoned Rivera on
Sir Salvatore’s instigation or something like that–”
Hearing the two of them sigh, Erica slowly opened her mouth.
“If that’s the case, then their interests are aligned with Sir Salvatore.
Perhaps in a few days, Sir Andrea will be found safe and sound.”
This was her first time to speak at the table. Presumably she had kept
silent because she was under “house arrest.” Hearing that, Clarens
frowned.
“Given the current situation, isn’t the battle between Devil Kings
imminent?”
“Even though Sir Salvatore does not ponder sufficiently, he is surprisingly
meticulous sometimes. Currently, he is dallying in Milan for the sake of
some momentous change.”
Salvatore Doni’s base, was the region of Tuscany in central Italy.
He did not keep a personal army, with only a handful of attendants and a
lone sword by his side, spending his easygoing days in leisure. Whenever
he needed subordinates to command, all he needed was simply make a
request to an association.
In this instance, that role was played by the [Copper Black Cross].
Citing “your Blandelli family’s daughter served as Kusanagi Godou’s
attendant” as his reason, he was impossible to refuse.
As a side note, Erica had not informed her fellow comrades regarding
lovers or anything of that sort. Due to Godou’s orders, those details had
not been disclosed to the magi of Sardinia and Sicily.
Hence, Erica also remained silent over the “lovers’ relationship” issue.
“But my lady. You already mentioned about the seventh Devil King whose
temperament requires reasons before he fights.”
Clarens addressed the young mistress of the Blandelli family as “my lady.”
For Erica, this bald-headed Dutchman was her teacher in tactics, strategy
and politics.
“That’s right. Though he is a person who doesn’t like to attack first, fighting
in retaliation is fine to him.”
“…Do you think he’ll turn to attack?”
Gantz wondered as he pointed at the young Devil King shown on the
television screen.
“That’s rather twisted of him. So he’s basically suppressing himself
currently. As soon as he finds any minor pretext to justify battle, his fighting
attitude will immediately escalate.”
“If that’s the case, all I can predict is a disastrous outcome…”
Clarens’ cellphone started ringing at this time, and he took the call for a
few dozen seconds.
“Bad news. Sir Salvatore has disappeared from his hotel.”
“I also have a very bad feeling about this. Hey, how are evacuation efforts
going in Castello Sforzesco and the surrounding area?”
The interior of Castello Sforzesco was being shown on the large LCD
screen.
A residence of nobles in the past, it was now a museum. Forty knights from
the [Copper Black Cross] had stormed into the premises in pursuit of
Kusanagi Godou.
‘You people must lead Kusanagi Godou to my location by any means
necessary.’
In order to execute this decree, Clarens had sent out a suicide squad.
In addition, they were secretly ordered ‘there’s no need to risk your lives,
just make sure you look like you’re trying hard.’ This was strictly
confidential.
“On standby over there and at the designated time, all parties were
contacted. Right now, police assistance is being used to seal the castle’s
surroundings and neighboring Parco Sempione. Also, within the castle–”
As Clarens watched the chaotic battle in the castle, he grumbled softly:
“There are not too many ordinary visitors since closing time is near. So that
should facilitate evacuation efforts. We have already sent a very sharp
team, so it should be handled well… That’s what I really want to believe.”
Godou’s chaotic tactics proved to be an advantage.
He made the most of his strength against the combat troops trying to
capture him. Using the [Bull]’s monstrous might to pick up a Gothic pillar,
he swung it in a manner like an electric fan. He also threw with one hand
marble statues that were taller than people. Seeing his enemies equipped
with projectile weapons — guns, he effortlessly picked up a 2m thick slab of
stone to use as a shield…
Nevertheless, the current battle was taking place between an amateur
against well-trained and experienced professionals.
In principle, the professionals should hold an overwhelming advantage in
this kind of fight. But in actual fact, the situation was the opposite, just as
Erica predicted.
“In other words, my lady… Is it time for the Campione to show his true
power?”
“Probably. He’s not going to behave himself indefinitely for sure. He
appears to be under control, but could show off his true power in a
moment’s notice. He may be an amateur in ‘combat’, but in terms of
‘tactics’ he is surprisingly talented-”
Scarcely had she finished speaking when the ominous predictions were
proven completely true.
Pictured on the television screen, in the air above Castello Sforzesco
appeared a gigantic pitch-black beast.
Part 3
Sprinting into Castello Sforzesco, Godou rampaged wildly using his
monstrous strength.
However, enduring to this point was his limit. He was gradually being
cornered.
During this time as he relied on his monstrous strength to hold out, all the
ordinary people and staff in the castle had somehow disappeared… Hence,
without further thought, he did it. Backed into this “It’s gonna get
dangerous!?” situation, he summoned the [Boar].
Blasting this castle away (together with the troublesome people), was as
easy as flipping a coffee table.
For this reason, the [Boar] suddenly manifested in the air above Castello
Sforzesco.
The 20m-long black divine beast landed in free fall, its belly violently
striking the roof of Filarete Tower in the castle’s center. This impact shook
the entire castle intensely.
Landing on the ground, the [Boar] resolutely smashed its head and body
against the castle walls to its heart’s content.
Naturally, the castle shook violently again. The stones and bricks used to
build Castello Sforzesco were continually smashed and sent flying. In short
time, the entire castle was on the verge of collapse. Not to mention those
roars.
ROOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAR!!
These terrifying howls carried sonic waves. Consequently, even places
that the [Boar] did not touch directly were spectacularly blown apart. The
whole castle’s complete destruction was simply a matter of time.
“If you value your lives, hurry and run!”
Godou yelled at the attackers in the castle.
Perhaps there was no need for him to do that, for they had already started
fleeing all at once. Indeed, they were running for their lives in complete
disarray. Oh well, all the escaping guys’ faces looked like they were about
to die. Even if they were not, they were definitely not retreating with any
sense of composure…
Following them immediately, Godou also ran out of the castle.
From awhile ago he had already been transmitting to the [Boar] thoughts of
“You don’t have to destroy so seriously!” Surprisingly, it actually seemed to
be taking effect slightly. It felt like the [Boar] rampaged slightly more
obediently compared to before. Godou managed to escape during this
time. As stones fell from ceilings while pillars and walls toppled, it was
already troubling enough.
“I thought I was going to die, really…”
Running out of the castle, Godou panted heavily.
Behind him, the [Boar] finally pranced about delightfully, unleashing its full
power. The red-brown Castello Sforzesco was gradually turned into a
mountain of rubble.
ROOOOOOOAAAAAARM The roars were deafening.
With a final majestic howl to declare victory, the [Boar] apparently
vanished, most satisfied.
Only the ruins of a completely destroyed ancient medieval castle remained.
Just as Godou was about to clutch his head and exclaim “How terrible” —
he stopped.
A blond young man approached. His handsome face was slightly familiar.
Despite a slender build, he had the body of a trained athlete. Dressed
sloppily in a shirt, cargo pants and sneakers, he was carrying a slender
cylindrical case on his shoulder.
This was Godou’s second encounter with Devil King Salvatore Doni.
“It’s been a while eh? You’re causing quite a riot, aren’t you? Kusanagi
Godou, you’re exactly the kind of man I imagined!”
As soon as their gazes met, Doni began to cackle with laughter, and he
even winked at Godou.
Amazingly, the “King of Swords” remembered the full name of someone he
only met once and even repeated it correctly. Godou could not have known
what a rare exception it was. However, he could surmise certain truths
without being told.
This man seemed to truly adore Kusanagi Godou.
“So you’re angry because I avoided a duel with you?”
Godou spoke gruffly and naturally found himself refraining from using polite
language.
He was clearly speaking to someone older than him, but what could be
causing this sense of being “peers”? Without any distinction of hierarchy,
this man was on a completely equitable level-
“That’s only a lie. I was simply pretending to be angry. But that’s how I
make everyone do as I wish.”
Doni glanced at the members of the [Copper Black Cross] standing ready
outside the castle.
With only a single look from Doni, they were already retreating. Even
though he was frequently judged a fool or an idiot, there was a surprisingly
majestic and kingly side to him.
Only fitting for the man feared by Erica and others. He was no simple fool.
“But anyway, this is wonderful. My instincts already sensed it last time. You
are basically the kind of man who’d keep running away unless I pursue
you.”
“Pursue? What are you talking about?”
“Hey, didn’t I invite you to a duel? But you refused outright. Clearly I was
hoping for ‘How about we go at it a little?’ ‘Great, let’s go right now?’ kind of
exchange.”
“Don’t talk about duels like you’re inviting someone for a game of Go or
Shogi, okay?”
“Ah yes, those are Japanese board games. My thoughts exactly. In my
view, drawing swords for a duel is no different from a Friday night game of
chess.”
Doni indifferently shrugged off Godou’s criticism.
He was exactly the kind of fool for which retorts were useless.
“However, it’s really great that you came to Italy. Even if I went to Japan
directly, you’d probably ignore me.”
“Wait a minute, even if I came to Italy, it doesn’t mean I’m accepting your
invitation to a duel!”
“How will it go? For you to go so far as to travel overseas deliberately, it
really feels like — you’re in for a fight, seeking an eye for an eye to redress
wrongs… That’s the kind of feeling, is that not?”
Unexpectedly right on the money. What a troublesome fool he was!
Godou could not help but stare at the sky, exasperated.
“You should have listened to me properly back in Sicily. Anyway, all sorts
of bad things were worth it.”
Doni’s gaze began to look rather strange. He seemed to be staring at
Godou with some sense of camaraderie like meeting a rare kindred spirit.
“Hey, let’s be more honest here, okay? You should argue more violently
against me. So let’s have a duel, it’ll be really fun for sure!”
Saying that, Doni opened the cylindrical container and took out the “sword”
inside.
–Sword!? Godou was rendered speechless. It really was a sheathed
longsword. Even though Erica and others could easily summon their
weapons through magic, Doni seemed to carry his sword personally on
purpose.
“I’m not great at talking so I can’t express my love through words. So let
me use my body to make you understand what kind of man I am. Godou, I
swear, I will surely make your heart burn with passion, and make you duel
with me!”
“What do you mean, you’re not great at talking? You just spewed out a
whole bunch of words!”
“Maybe I’m awkward with words instead? Whatever, my ability to argue is
really no good at all. Just as I thought, swinging a sword is way easier.”
Doni unsheathed the longsword with a swish.
The blade measured roughly 80cm in length and was double-edged with a
solid construction. However, it appeared to be rather inferior in quality,
especially compared to the likes of Erica’s magic sword Cuore di Leone.
Even a layman could tell that it was a coarse piece of mass produced
equipment.
Nevertheless, Godou shuddered when he saw Doni holding the sword.
He had not entered a stance, but was simply dangling the sword limply in
his right hand. The intent to attack or defend could not be felt at all. One
could only describe his appearance as slovenly.
Still, it was terrifying for no reason at all. Godou felt a great shock down his
spine.
Godou instantly bent over and spread his legs wide, like a baseball
infielder keenly defending the area between third base and the shortstop.
Rather than forethought he was guided by instinct which told him things
would be dire unless he entered his most familiar defensive position.
“Amazing. What excellent instincts. Even though we Campiones resemble
‘beasts’ to various degrees… Yours seem to be particularly sharp. That’s
really similar to old man Voban, yes.”
Doni leisurely expressed admiration, but Godou knew that was not all there
was to it.
Before coming to Italy, he had learned about this man from Lucretia.
According to her, this swordsman, known as the “King of Swords,”
possessed characteristic authorities of “the magic sword which cuts
through everything” and the “body of steel.” And now, Godou was about to
experience how terrifying he was, first hand!
–It finally came. Doni made a slash with his sword… Seemingly.
But Godou could not see it. Doni’s arm and sword shimmered like heat
haze and vanished. After becoming a Campione, Godou had been able to
rely on his ridiculous level of concentration to see through all sorts of
extreme speeds thanks to the effect of dynamic vision.
It did not work this time.
The sword disappeared ~ or rather, it appeared to disappear. In that very
instant, Godou jumped back obliquely.
If I didn’t do that, I would have died. That was what he felt for no particular
reason. Without any running start, he instantly jumped back as far as he
could.
Following that, most likely less that 0.1 seconds later, Godou’s former
position was sliced through by a straight horizontal sword sweep ~ that
was what he felt. Since he could see neither the sword nor how it was
swung, he could not be certain.
“Hahaha! Great. Those old men would always exclaim ‘keep training the
sword for 30 years’ or something the first time they see my sword, and just
as expected, it didn’t work against you. That’s only fitting for my kin!”
Doni was laughing cheerfully even though his target clearly escaped.
However, Godou finally noticed the shadow hidden in his pupils when he
smiled. This was the best evidence that the handsome blond man here
was no simple fool or natural airhead.
“Regardless of decades of training or any amount of talent, weak humans
remain weak. Naturally powerful beings will be strong even if they don’t
learn anything in particular. Yes yes, only by fighting these powerful
enemies can you really call it training!”
“Hey Salvatore Doni, tell me something. Was that magic just now or what?”
Godou questioned because his instincts told him it was something
different.
“In other words, do you use magic to confuse people’s eyes so that the
opponent can’t see the sword clearly?”
“Of course not. I don’t mean to brag, but I can’t even use magic at a super
basic level. I just don’t have the talent. It never sticks in memory.”
Doni returned to his slovenly posture with his sword and hands down.
No mistake about it, this was the stance of the swordsman, Salvatore Doni.
Like the pendulum batting style or the tornado pitch, these were essentially
original forms attained by geniuses who underwent unreachable levels of
training.
I won’t be able to keep dodging that attack for long — Godou believed for
certain.
Meanwhile, Doni casually walked towards the remains of Castello
Sforzesco.
The historical building had just been pulverized by the [Boar]. Even though
its original form was no longer, it had not been literally pulverized to dust.
The castle walls had collapsed and the central tower was toppled
spectacularly, but the remains still hinted towards the castle’s former glory.
In any case, Doni started speaking in front of the “half-wrecked” ruins.
“You have already displayed your authority, so let me show you mine. –I
hereby swear, I forbid the existence of things I cannot cut!”
Quiet mutters. At the same time, terrifying magical power burst forth from
Doni’s right arm.
Godou was stunned speechless. The exposed right arm of the blond
handsome man in the short-sleeved shirt had turned “silver.”
Brilliant shining silver. Not some kind of painted coating.
Unbelievably, Doni’s arm had turned into a silver sculpture.
“This sword is the blade which slices through all existence. Namely, the
invincible sword! Godou, this is my authority!”
No mere declaration, these spell words controlled magical power.
Using his silver right arm, Doni pierced Castello Sforzesco’s wall with his
longsword.
Instantly, Salvatore Doni’s authority activated. Magical power flowed from
Doni’s right arm to the sword and then to the half-wrecked castle wall.
Slice. Slice slice. Slice slice slice. Slice slice slice slice slice slice slice slice
slice slice slice.
A most extraordinary scene. With only a single thrust of the blade into the
wall accompanied by a clang, the half-wrecked castle was instantly carved
up by countless cuts.
These sword trails probably numbered in the hundreds if one could count
them.
But the chance to do so had already passed. Carved by countless sword
trails, the half-wrecked Castello Sforzesco proceeded to crumble and
collapse.
It was not pulverized.
Tiny — it was crumbling into fragments, cut to the size of pebbles.
‘Salvatore Doni’s authority of the magic sword could cut everything.’
Realizing that, Godou panted breathlessly.
A single sword strike had slashed a castle into tiny pieces. Struck by such
an attack, even a Campione’s ridiculously sturdy body would be sliced
cleanly in half, or die from being diced and quartered.
Given Godou’s situation, another troublesome issue was surfacing.
In actual fact, Godou had been secretly contemplating as soon as he saw
Doni’s sword skills — As long as he could activate the [Camel] incarnation,
he should be able to find a way to fight on equal footing.
The [Camel]’s ridiculous combat ability even won a fight against
man-eating tigers.
Using this incarnation required heavy injuries in the first place. But Doni’s
magic sword truly belonged in the realm of one-hit instant kills. If he tried to
take a hit to use the [Camel], Kusanagi Godou would instantly die on the
spot. In any case, relying on the [Ram]’s super recovery would also be
meaninglesS”
Godou trembled as Doni approached swiftly. His footsteps were truly light
and fleeting.
Due to his opponent’s exceptionally quick pace, Godou reacted an instant
too slow.
By the time he realized, he was already within the attack range of Doni’s
sword.
Then the sword vanished. That heat haze-like great sword.
It was already too late for Godou to dodge — was everything over? No,
there remained the [Raptor] which he had used to oppose Melqart’s
lightning.
Only usable when approached by a super high speed attack, the
incarnation of god speed.
Godou’s vision, senses and thoughts instantly accelerated. Conversely,
everything in the surroundings decelerated. Thanks to that, Godou was
finally able to see the movement of Doni’s sword. The blond swordsman
was attempting an upward slash towards the shoulder.
Relying on the [Raptor]’s divine speed, Godou stepped sideways to avoid
the attack.
As befitted the state of super acceleration. To think he was able to dodge
safely. Godou proceeded to send a punch towards Doni’s chest with his
right fist. Even though it was a fight between an amateur and a master of
the sword, given such a massive difference in speed, he should be able to
attack with impunity, right?
Thinking that as he attacked, Godou was met with great surprise instead.
The fist that should have smashed into Doni’s chest deviated greatly to the
right, hitting air. He had completely misjudged things visually. Furthermore,
Doni said to the surprised Godou:
‘Eh… Your authority’s pretty interesting. Not only can it summon a divine
beast, but it also allows acceleration similar to Alec’s. There are apparently
restrictions, but it does allow you to do many different things.’
Doni seemed to have figured out what Godou had done. He grinned
foolishly as he spoke.
His voice sounded like a shout from a great distance. A rather unbelievable
sound.
‘But too bad for you, if speed is all you’ve got, I can easily see through it.’
What!? Godou shuddered to see him speak so nonchalantly.
‘I have a slightly special way of training my vision. I gaze intently at falling
rainwater and focus on a single drop. Once that is done, the slice comes
next. If I can slice the targeted droplet cleanly into two, I pass.’
Godou was rendered speechless by this description which sounded like it
came out of some master swordsman novel.
Nevertheless, his instincts told him it was no lie. Given the monster here, it
was definitely possible. Be careful!
‘This sort of vision, I think it’s called the secret of the mind’s eye in Chinese
martial arts novels? I mastered it on my own, so I’m not too sure. However,
as long as I know the key concept is about cutting a target with the shortest
possible sword swing, it’s possible to do it with that kind of feeling!’
Doni smiled cheerfully as he thrust his sword straight forward.
From Godou’s view, this thrust was completely unbelievable.
Just as he looked like he was about to make a thrust, in the next instant,
Doni had already entered the posture of finishing the thrusting motion. It
was like watching playback in fast forward.
This was aimed at the center of Godou’s body — a thrust that attacked his
chest.
Using divine speed, Godou dodged sideways, trying to evade at full speed.
Nevertheless, it was a tad too late. The sword’s blade had already reached
the flank of Godou’s abdomen, piercing slightly.
Under normal conditions, this would be nothing but a mere scratch.
However, the power of the “magic sword” infused in the blade penetrated
Godou’s right flank.
“Gun–!”
Spurt! Blood gushed out as intense pain erupted from all over the flank of
his abdomen.
As Godou groaned painfully, Doni spoke as if nothing had happened.
‘If only I had slashed more cleanly, I would have sliced you into pieces
directly. Oh what a shame. But I’m not going to miss next time.’
In other words, he was confident he would not miss again — the confidence
to slice through divine speed.
The instant Godou realized that, he made his decision.
Continuing to fight like this would only lead to death by slicing. He could
not survive unless he made use of his divine speed advantage in a
different manner.
Enduring the intense pain, Godou ran at full speed.
Unconcerned that he was presenting his fleeing back to the opponent,
Godou ran as fast as he could. Even though Doni’s pursuit was terrifying,
Godou was not obliged to fight back since that would only slow himself
down… In order to survive, Godou continued running without even looking
back.
“Retreating to regroup while there is still a chance to escape. What
excellent instincts. Rather than careful consideration of the situation, he
smelled the flow of victory.”
After praising his opponent’s instincts regarding the tide of battle, Doni
stabbed his sword into the ground.
He did not intend to pursue immediately. Given the sort of extreme speed
equivalent to lightning, such excessive speed was impossible to sustain
indefinitely. Sooner or later, he was bound to slow down.
Just let those people from the [Copper Black Cross] chase him for now…
What concluded was merely the first round, but at least it offered the joy of
battle. Or rather, it would be better to say the real match begins here ~
Doni naturally twisted the corners of his lips.
Part 4
“So, the first round is Sir Salvatore’s overwhelming victory.”
After watching the two kings’ face off on the television, Clarens took out his
cellphone. Apparently he received a text. Gazing at the tiny LCD, he
grumbled “Hmm.”
“What’s the matter?”
“A report from the knights at the park. Sir Salvatore has issued orders of
‘Track down Kusanagi Godou.'”
“Come on, what a willful king who does whatever he wants…”
Gantz muttered after learning of the situation.
“It’s about time for us to head to the scene. Tracking down a wounded
Devil King could get dangerous. Not so different from wild beasts, which
are more deadly when hunted in their injured state. Ordinary knights
should keep their distance as appropriate.”
While the two colleagues discussed the situation, Erica did not join in.
Instead, she was immersed in her own thoughts.
(Godou, you’re really unlucky — Serves you right!)
The situation looked grim. Nevertheless, Erica maintained a calm
expression.
Were she to reveal her emotions like an open book, it would be most
unbecoming for a lady.
(I already warned you explicitly. But you ignored me and even came to
Milan. You’ve really made a complete fool of yourself this time.)
Harsh and hardly elegant words swirled within Erica’s mind.
With perfect self-control, she refrained from speaking her thoughts out
loud. Godou’s arrival in Milan was causing the [Copper Black Cross] a
great deal of trouble. In actual fact, if a little more time was bought-
As soon as Andrea Rivera was located and rescued, he could resume his
duties as Salvatore Doni’s chaperone. Then once Doni had enough of his
mischief, Erica should be able to regain her freedom. But Godou had foiled
this plan.
(He really is a dense block of wood!)
(Due to the Campione’s gag order, the events in Sicily fortunately
remained unpublicized. Perfect. Our relationship ends today. I’m not going
to deal with such a foolish person any longer. After all, being sliced by Sir
Salvatore is no different from being dead.)
(Yes, so be it, only death awaits.)
The blade wielded by Salvatore Doni, was truly a magic sword.
Even when it failed to cut an opponent into two, it inflicted magical wounds
which failed to heal easily. Furthermore, since Godou had already used the
[Raptor] incarnation, he was going to suffer backlash like last time. Then
after that, his only fate would be a pitiful death like a dog’s…
Unmistakably, death. Only death lay before Kusanagi Godou.
The instant she reached this certain conclusion, Erica frightened herself.
Her chest tightened as if something was pulling tensely, while her stomach
felt invaded by icy coldness — an unbelievable feeling.
The beating in her chest quickened immensely. Like a fire alarm, her heart
beat continued loudly nonstop.
He was going to die, right? Even if the [Ram] incarnation saved him from
the current crisis, he was going to remain unconscious for who knows how
many hours. Once he was discovered, it would already be~
“Hey Erica, weren’t you in the company of the Japanese king for some
time?”
Gantz’s voice made Erica jump in surprise. Naturally, showing
understanding of his words was nothing to be proud of.
Instead, she simply raised an eyebrow gracefully, making a face that
expressed “What are you talking about?”
“How utterly heartless. Couldn’t you say something about him being your
comrade, and ask us to offer him a bit of assistance or something like
that?”
“Watch your words, Gennaro!”
Clarens scolded quietly.
“Sir Salvatore only derived his convenient excuse as a result of our lady
assisting Kusanagi Godou at Sardinia and Sicily.”
“That’s true, I guess.”
“Since Sir Salvatore is already hostile towards him, we cannot cooperate
with His Highness the seventh Devil King anymore. For our [Copper Black
Cross], the most appropriate course of action is–”
Saying that, Clarens placed his hand against his neck and made a cutting
gesture.
“Kusanagi Godou will be slain by Sir Salvatore’s sword. Before the conflict
escalates any further, if only he could die without a fuss, that would be for
the best.”
He sounded like he was analyzing a chess game. Erica agreed completely.
Yes, it would be for the best. For Erica and the [Copper Black Cross], the
existence of Kusanagi Godou was simply a hindrance.
Though he may be [King], he was a Japanese who lived far away from
Italy.
Furthermore, he had no intention of accepting servitude and loyalty from
others. Precisely because of that, there was nothing to gain no matter how
much she devoted herself to him.
Not to mention, there was the ruling “King of Swords” in close proximity…
Clarens’ assessment was completely correct, reasonable, and more
convincing than anything.
-The truth was so obvious.
But why? Erica found herself rather strange. Once again, she felt her chest
tighten, as if she was about to face some kind of unbearable tragedy.
“But that king is Japanese! Japanese, yo!”
On the other hand, Gantz seemed to be objecting strangely.
“To me, Japan is a sacred land for pilgrimage! Well in fact, I happen to
have some DVDs with me, wanna have a watch? Now that’s real magic.
These masterpieces can teach us adults that valor must always be
tempered with gentleness. It’ll transform your very being.”
“I’m totally not in the mood for Japanese children cartoons…”
“…Yes, same here.”
Erica coldly declared and left her seat.
“Where are you going, my lady?”
“I’m feeling a little unwell, so I’m returning to my room to continue my
‘imprisonment’ there. Clearly, there’s no emergency requiring my
presence.”
“Don’t call it ‘imprisonment’ like we’re giving you a hard time.”
Gantz frowned while Clarens simply shrugged without taking offense. With
no one in her way, Erica left the lounge.
…Originally, Erica was indeed in a position requiring surveillance.
All things considered, she was the one who accompanied Kusanagi Godou
the longest, playing the role of his support. The possibility existed for her to
extend a helping hand towards Kusanagi Godou in his desperate time of
need — it was only natural for others to think that. But in actual fact, Erica’s
colleagues left her alone.
Undoubtedly. Unlike Salvatore Doni, no benefits could be gained from
Kusanagi Godou. Erica could not be unclear on that — that was what they
must have thought.
Erica wandered aimlessly and found herself at the ground floor lobby of the
headquarters building.
In the past, she always went home by calling for a ride to pick her up. But
for some reason she did not do so today. Walking out the building, she
began to stroll casually along Milan’s office district.
Along the way, Erica jumped in fright many times whenever a black-haired
oriental brushed past her. Clearly it could not have been the youth she
knew but she felt compelled to check the person’s face each time.
-Gathering her focus, Erica took out a certain object.
Just in case of emergencies, she had gathered this at the Zamparini
mansion and kept it in a glass jar. With this, she could track down the
location of…
“Where are you going, Erica Blandelli?”
A familiar voice. She turned around to find a tall man standing before her.
A handsome man with well-defined facial contours and a muscular body
reminiscent of the statue of David. Wearing an unbuttoned formal suit, this
man was named Paolo Blandelli.
Erica’s legal guardian and commander-in-chief of the [Copper Black
Cross].
“I’ve already mentioned this before. You are our precious treasure — one
who will inevitably stand at the pinnacle of our association.”
“Yes, I remember. Uncle.”
One could describe this as a conversation between uncle and niece,
except with a bit too much posturing.
For a long time now, Erica’s everyday interactions with her uncle had
become a habit like a rehearsed scene. The two of them left the bustling
main streets of Milan and came to a nearby park to talk.
“One more thing. Even though this goes without saying, you are equivalent
to a real daughter to me. It’s just that I’d be a little too young if I called
myself your father.”
Despite clearly pushing forty, Paolo still casually declared himself young.
High-minded and noble in spirit he may be, this was one area he showed
particular obstinacy.
Nevertheless, this facet of the heroic uncle’s always made Erica smile.
“Yes, I believe it is all thanks to Uncle’s love and edification that enabled
me to become the person I am today.”
“If you say it that way, even someone like me would get too full of myself.
By the way, Erica, looking at the way you are now, really reminds me of
myself over a decade ago.”
“Well, when Uncle was younger, in other words, during your days as a
youth.”
“I’m young enough as I am, so nothing prevents you from calling me a
youth. I hope you realize that some day. Anyway, enough with that.”
Erica simply expressed acquiescence. Paolo continued:
“Back then, I was still a reckless brat overconfident in my own abilities. I
only learned my lesson during a chance visit to England when I became
embroiled in unnecessary hardship and burden.”
“The hardship you suffered over there ~ was it Prince Alec?”
Legendary deadly battles were innumerable amongst the experiences of
Paolo Blandelli in younger days past.
He was most likely referring to the “Devil King’s debut” incident of then
sixteen-year-old Black Prince Alec of England, Alexandre Gascoigne.
He had crossed swords with the Black Prince himself as well as his right
hand man, Sir Iceman. It was even said that Paolo battled a primordial
demonic beast that the Black Prince had awakened, and stood in as the
Black Prince’s scapegoat to take care of a female devil who was targeting
the Devil King.
Uncle Paolo’s current renown was achieved through surviving countless
deadly battles.
“Ah yes, that’s right… Frankly speaking, given a choice I’d rather not deal
with that kind of man who brings chaos to the world. In every instance, by
the time I noticed, I was already embroiled in the commotions caused by
Alec… Well, the troubles caused by a particular princess are no small
number either–”
Distant events in the past. It was the reason why Uncle gradually stopped
respecting the princess who was known as the most exalted noblewoman.
“I realized through those years of experience. How terrible in character,
how troublesome and how willful these Campiones are… But due to my
frequent contact with these abnormal existences, perhaps I’ve lost a
balanced sense of judgment.”
Erica stared wide in response to this rare story from his “days as a youth.”
Uncle was not a man who liked to brag about his glorious exploits. In
particular, he had always kept silent about his days spent in opposition to
Black Prince Alec. Even though Erica felt he was being modest, it looked
like there might be other reasons as well.
“Erica, let me be straight with you. You are extremely precious to me,
whether personally or for the organization. I have no wish for you to suffer
by the side of those unreasonable monsters. It is enough for me alone to
endure that kind of hardship.”
The uncle looked straight at Erica as he spoke.
“If possible, I hope I won’t have to resort to force in order to play the part of
the stubborn insensitive father.”
“Oh my, you’re speaking as if I were about to abandon Uncle?”
“If I am mistaken, just treat everything I said as a joke. Nevertheless, I can’t
help but feel that, given the situation — so what is the actual truth?”
So that’s what’s going on? Erica could not find words to answer.
Was she still Erica Blandelli? Flawless in both elegant manners of
speaking and fluent conversation skills, seemingly brimming with talent
ever since the day she was born, Erica was unbelievably at a loss for
words for once, she was silent!
“Given your intelligence and eloquence, it should be a simple matter for
you to understand what I am saying.”
Hoo. Uncle sighed.
Indeed. It was clear and simple truth. Erica should choose the [King]
closest to the [Copper Black Cross], Salvatore Doni, and abandon the
young eastern Asian [King] whose future was uncertain.
Nevertheless, even though it was obvious.
Despite their short time together, as ephemeral as sparks, she could still
vividly recall every day she spent with the youth.
Everything that happened from the day they met up to this point. Such as
tracking down the oriental warlord, fighting the Phoenician divine king, the
whole story flashed before her eyes like kaleidoscopic images.
Erica took a deep breath and exhaled.
She reawakened her original indomitable spirit and glamor.
Holding her head high, she pridefully swept her hand through her lustrous
red-tinted blonde hair. Erica Blandelli must always be more beautiful and
striking than anyone else. For her own sake, and as much as she wished
to deny it, for that youth’s sake too!
“Yes. I completely understand what I have to do. However — it can’t be
helped. In spite of everything, I must go to his side.”
A resolute declaration.
“I don’t really understand the reason, but I want to help him. Although
these senseless emotions vex me so, they are still my authentic feelings.
Even if you give me a direct order, Uncle, you cannot force me to abandon
my feelings!”
“Reason eh… I’m sure you already know very well.”
“How can I know if you don’t say it out, Uncle!”
“Which is why I say, your current attitude speaks more than words ever
could… Come to think of it, I’ve never had this kind of ‘family conversation’
with you regarding this topic. A little later and you’d probably become too
jaded to listen.”
“You’re talking like I’m ill or something. That’s rather unbecoming whether
you consider yourself a knight or a gentleman.”
Erica turned away pretentiously and mocked cynically.
–Well, to be honest, it’s not like I haven’t realized what topic Uncle is
referring to. In fact, I can think of all sorts of things the conversation entails.
But admitting to it would be far too embarrassing.
Hence, Erica pretended she was completely unaware.
“In any case, I will be joining Kusanagi Godou’s faction. Since I am doing
that, I suppose there is no place left for me within the [Copper Black
Cross].”
Using summoning magic, Erica called forth her beloved garment.
It was a short cape with straight red stripes against a black background.
This surcoat was bestowed only upon Great Knights.
It carried protective magic that conferred defensive power equivalent to
armor.
But most important of all were its “rossonero” colors of red and black.
Wearing the association’s colors displayed allegiance unambiguously — To
a Great Knight, this cape was equivalent to a bandiera flag raised high on
the battlefield.
“I hereby return this, the mark of rossonero you bestowed upon me
personally. Please accept it, Uncle. This could very well be my final
farewell, but still, I must go!”
With one gallant motion she tossed away the cape she had worn for so
many years.
As soon as she saw her uncle catch it, Erica swiftly turned around and
began to walk away. She did not even look back once.
The uncle who said he would restrain her “by force” did not follow through
on his warning.
After all, he was the one who traveled from Italy to England many times,

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