Tuesday, September 19, 2023 @

Volume 2 Chapter 34 Misty City at Night

 The progression of one person's story inevitably meant the progression of another's. While these stories should only be told when they intersect, their prologue began in a place far from Japan, in the glorious island nation of England—London.

 London's cityscape, despite being a major metropolis, still featured ancient buildings in use, a testament to the history and pride of England. Yet, it had modern aspects too, with vibrant artificial lights illuminating the city at night.

 Or at least, it should have been the true London.

 Now, the town was shrouded in a heavy silence. The lights were dimmed to the minimum, and there were no people on the bustling streets that should have been teeming with life. Instead, a tense atmosphere of fear, like the times when Jack the Ripper was on the loose, hung in the air.

 A few individuals walked down this street. They each wore a cross necklace around their necks and were clad in robes with armor-themed decorations.

 While there were many Christians, this group gave off a sinister atmosphere. They had an additional factor that made them even stranger: swords at their waists and long objects tied to their backs.

 Each one of them possessed ancient weapon that seemed to have jumped through time from the Middle Ages. They were exorcists belonging to the Church of England. Although they had their roots in demon exorcism, modern-day exorcists were knights tasked with hunting witches, purging heretics, and, broadly speaking, annihilating enemies of God.

 Throughout history, they had purged devils, destroyed magic, and eliminated heretics. The fact that overlapped with their faith created a deep-seated darkness that became the source of their power. In the single-minded pursuit of defeating the enemies of God, Exorcists could wield powers that transcended human understanding, even if it necessitated the use of magic—the very sorcery they detested.

 In essence, they shared the same core, but the forms differed.

 However, as long as the forms differed, it was acceptable. Nobody paid attention to the essence. All that mattered was the power to defeat enemies and the recognition by the people that it was God's work.

 In fact, because magic was practiced through faith in the Church, it could be considered an aspect of the truth.

 Oscar Crane was a genius Exorcist who had taken up the mantle at the young age of twenty. He utilized a divine art (理術/Rijutsu) and had defeated numerous God's enemies using it.

 Despite being male, he had long chestnut hair that he braided and a scar under his right eye, a testament to his many battles.

 Today's mission was to hunt down a monster that had been appearing at night recently.

 In London, a densely populated city, good and evil mingled within the people. When malice and hatred took shape for some reason, that was where monsters were born.

 Normally, Oscar alone would have been more than enough force, so he questioned why the Church had mobilized such a large number of people.

 And in the darkness, they encountered despair creeping out from another world.

 The darkness stirred, and what emerged from it was a goat skull. What seemed to writhe was the black coat worn by the goat, and various colored gems floated around its neck.

 It looked exactly like a devil, and for a moment, Oscar and the others froze in place.

 Among God's enemies, devils were considered particularly dangerous. Their power varied depending on their rank, but even lower-ranking devils possessed power that far exceeded human imagination.

 However, the Exorcists here were also experts in devil slaying.

 Therefore, the tension that ran through them was brief, and they immediately moved to eliminate the enemy without hesitation. They did so to eradicate the enemy. It was a step that led to the gates of hell, and it wouldn't be long before they realized that.

 With their respective weapons in hand, using Divine Art, they attacked the devil. However, they were surprised by the lack of resistance, their attacks passing through the devil as if it were smoke.

 It felt as if they were cutting through smoke itself.

 No, in fact, they had been enveloped by smoke without realizing it. Thick, sticky, and dark smoke.


 "Run! We're under attack!"

 "What is this, a sorcery?"

 Amidst the overlapping words, the Exorcists immediately used their own magic to purify the darkness and tried to escape. But it was to no avail.

 The smoke, which even consumed light, gave them no resistance and couldn't be shaken off. It felt as though the night itself were clinging to them.

 "Their favorite food is light. Life force imbued with light is nothing less than exquisite nourishment."

 Amidst the obscured vision, a sound reached them.


 Oscar pullet a pure white stake from his sleeve and threw it in the direction of the sound he heard. However, his strike only resulted in a high-pitched clang as it pierced a building.


 With poor visibility and an unknown enemy's location, the priority was clear: escape this situation.

 Oscar swung the crucifix sword in his right hand into the darkness and kicked the ground with all his might. However, the dark smoke offered resistance like mud and pursued Oscar with an unexpected speed. The darkness shifted shape, becoming an endless number of beasts, and their fangs latched onto Oscar one after another. There was no blood, no pain, but it was clear that his life was slipping away.

 "What... are these things?"

 His cries were futile, enveloped by the smoke. None of their attacks had any effect, and they couldn't shake it off.

 Oscar, who had exorcised numerous devils in the past, couldn't discern what this was. The noise, like metal scraping against metal, reverberated in his mind as his life was being drained away.

 While Exorcists tried desperately to break free from the situation, the goat-skulled devil looked down from above.

 Although its emotionless eyes stared out, there was a terrible indifference in the way it gradually increased the burden, as if it were viewing test subjects.

 Beneath its gaze, Exorcists fell one by one, weapons clattering to the ground. Oscar, too, finally couldn't stand and sank to his knees. The crucifix sword now served only as a staff, and his magic power was depleted.

 Gazing at the moon as if seeking air underwater, Oscar saw the devil, calmly poised.

 A deathly future was painfully clear.

 "Y-you b*stard...!"

 He attempted to at least make a final strike with his sword, but even that was captured by the darkness. Amidst the encroaching obscurity, Oscar locked eyes with his mortal enemy until the very end.

 "...God's judgment will definitely come!"

 It was a desperate utterance, the final words of a dying weakling. To the devil, it was meaningless, and the words were fated to be swallowed by the darkness.

 However, words could sometimes possess magic power. Sincere words that stirred feelings may pierce through foes like an ancient sorcery spell.

 So when it happened, Oscar initially believed that his words had truly brought forth God's judgment.

 The demon (mazoku) with the goat skull—known as 'Hard'—felt a sensation as though something had pierced through them.

 There was no need for confirmation; they understood. It was a severe blow that severed their life. A sudden and unimaginable reaping, a scythe of the Grim Reaper.


 As their vision blurred from side to side, 'Hard' murmured words of denial. They had made a contract with the souls of the dead in the underworld, gaining powerful magic in exchange for being unable to exist in the daytime world. Although they could only activate it during the late hours of the night, it was nearly invincible during that time.

 But the truth was that they had been killed—mercilessly, grotesquely, and unceremoniously.

 "It's... impossible..."

 Oscar didn't do it. His dying words had no such power. It was something else, something different.

 'Hard' tries to move their head one last time to see their enemy's face, but they are unable to do so. Their skull splits in half lengthwise and freezes from the cross section. When they fell to the ground, the skull shattered along with the surrounding darkness.

 The cityscape returned to its normal night, as if awakening from a bad dream.

 "What in the..."

 To Oscar, the devil's anticlimactic end left him momentarily stunned. He stood frozen, unable to even blink. He didn't know whether it was because the devil had died or because of the entity emerging from within the devil. He couldn't tell even that. But then...

 The Grim Reaper resembled a beautiful young girl.

 Her platinum-blonde hair seemed to have been combed by moonlight, and her crimson gem-like eyes made one lose track of time just by gazing into them. Above all, her cold, lifeless beauty, visible through the veil, seemed as though it had been crafted by a deity. Her jet-black dress, reminiscent of a wedding gown, only enhanced the girl's ethereal presence.

 "Ah... You are..."

 It wasn't a question expecting an answer, but he couldn't help but ask.

 Contrary to expectations, the girl slowly descended from the sky and stopped in front of Oscar, then softly opened her mouth.

 "I am Sharla."

 A clear, melodious tone that could rival an orchestra's performance. Her voice resonated in Oscar's mind more intensely than any orchestral music could.

 Sharla, Sharla. Unconsciously, Oscar repeated her name in his mouth several times. Could this girl be a messenger of God? No, there was no doubt about it.

 This beauty, the power that had saved him from a dire situation as a devout believer, what else could she be if not a messenger of God?

 Oscar immediately tried to perform a knight's salute, but even faster than that, Sharla took a step forward. Her beautiful face drew closer, causing Oscar's heart to race.

 Those few seconds felt incredibly long.

 Then, the girl's delicate lips parted, and she spoke.

 "Is this Japan?"

 Their meeting marked the acceleration of this story. However, the intersection of the two stories, Japan and England, is a tale for another time.

 Sharla-san is mentioned in Volume 1 Chapter 32, "A Clash of Emotions," as a member of the former Hero party.

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