“It would be best if the Spirit King wasn’t hostile to us and was just a spirit. If there were some pressing reasons for what happened at that magic sword tournament…”
“Is there any possibility of that?”
“I don’t know. I’m hoping there is.”
As they exchanged these words, they walked through the cloud corridor.
After some time, they arrived at a break in the clouds.
They could see the ground as they looked down from there
On the other side of the break in the clouds, a lush green field was floating, and they could see a small castle on it.
Lay and Misa flew with and headed for the castle.
But no matter how far they moved forward, the castle never got any closer.
“I remember. They just need to stand at the very edge of the clouds and wait.”
Hearing those words sent by the , the two of them descend into the cloud corridor. Then they stood at the very edge and waited patiently.
Then, little by little, the platform of clouds extended toward the castle, like a bridge.
Lay and Misa walked slowly over the cloud bridge.
After a while, they reached the front of the castle.
Lay stood in front of the door and pressed his hand to it.
“I’ll open it.”
He pushed the door and it opened easily.
It was dimly lit inside. Most of the windows were blocked, and the only light came from a few rays of the sun.
Lay and Misa walked straight into the castle.
“Well, you’ve made it this far.”
The voice of the great tree of Eniyunien echoed through the castle.
“As a reward for breaking through the Spirit’s trials, I will allow you to see the Spirit King.”
A part of the window was opened, and a flash of sunlight shone through.
What was illuminated was a throne made of wood.
A man wearing jet-black armor and a mask was sitting there.
The man slowly opened his arms and clapped his hands as if to praise Lay and Misa.
The Spirit King stood up and walked a few steps forward.
“I would like to pay a visit to the Spirit King.”
Lay said proudly.
“Are you an avenger of the Demon King?”
The Spirit King did not speak; instead, it was Eniyunien who said.
“If you wish to speak to the Spirit King, then you must challenge him in a trial.”
Lay asked, clenching his teeth firmly.
“…What are the trials?”
“If you can fight the Spirit King and break his mask, you will pass the test. However, you are not allowed to use magic swords, holy swords, or magical tools. You can only use your own body and spirits.”
Glittering lights gathered, and more than a dozen swords appeared in the air around him.
“The Spirit King is the ruler of the spirits, and all the spirits of Aharthern are on his side. Even if it is only to break the mask, it is a feat that no ordinary person can accomplish. If you declare defeat, the ordeal will end there.”
“Can I use that sword there?”
“They are all spirits. There is nothing wrong with using them. As long as you can control it.”
The spirits that have been rumored and passed down as swords are not so different from demon swords and holy swords, unless they are half spirit and half demon like Lay’s mother. It can choose its owner, but it does not speak.
Even in front of the Spirit King, if Lay could lay his hands on one, he would be able to use it.
Lay smiled coolly and stepped forward.
“I’ll take the trials.”
“Very well. Now, let the trials of the Spirit King begin.”
* * *
Then I suddenly paid attention to my surroundings.
I was in a cloud. The white clouds had become the floor, the walls, and the ceiling, forming a vast room.
On the other side of where I had come up, there was a demon.
He was the Dark Lord Eges, a man with an eye patch covering half of his face.
“It’s called fate, isn’t it?”
The next moment, clouds in the area began to turn black.
Thunder rumbled, and with countless thunderbolts, the Hidden Wolf Gennul appeared.
The Hidden Wolf opened its jaws wide and let out a cracked voice.
“–If you wish to pass through here, you must undergo the Hidden Wolf’s ordeal–“
That was odd.
“It seems Lay and the others were able to pass through unimpeded?”
Again, Gennul’s voice cracks.
“If you don’t take the test, you won’t be able to pass–“
So the Spirit King was after Lay or Misa.
Or both of them?
If not, it would be strange that he didn’t impose the ordeal on those two.
“What are the trials of the Hidden Wolf like?”
Eges said in a sharp tone.
“–Catch me. Only the first one to accomplish it will be allowed through–“
An ordeal in which students compete against each other to catch the Hidden Wolf?
If it weren’t for the Dark Lord, this trial would have been easy to pass.
–Demon Lord Anos…
I heard something through the .
It was Eges.
He showed no visible reaction, his gaze fixed on the Hidden Wolf Gennul.
I return through the to him.
[Will you fight with me? I will let you go through the door.]
[Huh. What about you?]
[I’ll help my men who have been hidden by the gods. I’ll free the others as well.]
[Hmm. Do you have any idea how to help those who are in hiding?]
[If I knew, I wouldn’t have asked you to fight with me.]
[Mm-hmm. You’re right, it makes sense.]
After a moment’s pause, the Dark Lord Eges sends another thought.
[Let me hear your answer.]
I replied with a grin on my face.
“All right. We are wasting time here. Can we get on with the trials, Hidden Wolf, Gennul?”