Bonds of Blood – chapter six

6

The Demon King’s labyrinth was shut off in the darkness of five hundred years.

It was an underground labyrinth, that had been dug out of dozens of layers of earth, deep underground.

Even in the Ancient Kingdom, it was called The Deepest Labyrinth.

The Labyrinth’s darkness was filled with lethal traps and magical creatures who lived for centuries with the sole purpose of keeping out intruders. There were more than just a few near-fatal devices.

But they couldn’t go back anymore. If they didn’t go forward, there would be no future for the King or the Prince.

And so, at last, Brook reached the deepest hall. According to the treatise he’d confiscated from his Court Magician, Wort, he knew this hall was named The Hall of The Demon King.

In this hall, The Demon King and his relatives were sealed. Summoned from the world of their homeland, they had been confined in a false space created with magic.

Unlike the rest of the Labyrinth, The Hall of the Demon King was lit brilliantly, with magical light.

Brook extinguished his magic ring that cast the spell Light, which had been their only source of light until now.

And then, he looked back.

The silhouette of the Princess of the Moon, Reena was there. She wore a pure white dress of soft cloth. During the journey through the labyrinth, the dress had gotten stained.

Her face was pale.

But that was only natural. The fear she’d experienced on the way to this hall, no ordinary girl would have been able to bear. But she bore it with thoughts of her brother. Brook had used those thoughts to invite his daughter to the place of her own death.

Brook was tortured by terrible self-hatred.

Just then, Reena suddenly flashed a smile.

“In the end, I’ll get to see my father’s greatness with my own eyes.” She squinted, as if such a thing made her truly happy.

At those words, Brook felt as though he’d been rescued. Returning his daughter’s smile, he said, “I am your brother’s father. I won’t be taken down by some demon like this.”

“I know it.” Reena put her hand over her mouth and laughed.

It was obvious just how ready she was. She had surmounted the fear of death. She looked as if she felt joyful, blissful, in throwing down her life for the brother she revered. The thoughts of a girl just beginning to know love were so strong, so single-minded.

Brook took his daughter’s hand and they advanced to the center of the hall. It was as if he was accompanying her at her wedding ceremony.

From here on out, there ceremony might be a true marriage ceremony for her. It wasn’t so different from being allowed to marry her brother, despite their blood ties……

In the center if the hall a magical sigil had been drawn, a double circle surrounding a pentagram. There were also huge double doors in the interior wall. Wort’s treatise said the Demon King would be called from the magical sigil and his relatives from the interior door.

The ceremony itself was extremely simple.

You offered your sacrifice in the center of the sigil and recited the Demon King’s summoning spell. The words of summoning worked best in Low Ancient. High Ancient wouldn’t work when invoking magic.

Brook accompanied Reena to the center of the sigil.

Naturally, his eyes met his daughter’s.

Reena was smiling. Except her eyes were filled with tears. Her whole body was shaking slightly. It seemed her young body, as opposed to her mind, was resisting its fate from here on out.

“Your clothes……” Brook said, his voice cracking.

Reena nodded and began slowly taking off the white dress she wore.

Soon, she was stark naked.

In the magical light, her young figure shone dazzlingly. Her youth still remained in the curves of her hips and chest, like unripe fruits.

Reena crossed her legs and hugged her chest with both hands, shy.

“……On the floor, lay down, and your eyes, close your eyes please,” Brook said haltingly.

Reena nodded crisply, and laid herself on the stone floor. And then she hesitantly closed her eyes. She put her hands straight down at her sides, and shifted her position to push her chest out just a bit.

Still, the hills of her firm chest hardly changed from their face up position.

While she was doing that, Brook pulled a short blade bearing the crest of the royal family from its sheath.

“Supreme God of Light……” Reena began to offer a prayer to the gods in a small voice.

Brook prayed too, from the bottom of his heart, that her soul would be carried up to heaven.

Brook fell to the floor on both knees and held the dagger in an underhanded grip. Adding his left hand on top of his right, he held the dagger at eye level. The well polished blade sharply reflected the magic light.

If he looked down, there was her white shining nudity.

Brook made sure of the position of her heart, at the same time killing his own. He threw away all awe at his performing this forbidden act, all pity for his daughter. He wouldn’t need even a fragment of these human emotions as the commander of a demon army, as someone who planned to control Lodoss.

Then he began to slowly recite the spell for summoning the Demon King……

“Demon King, come! Into this innocent maiden’s body!!”

At the same time the spell ended, Brook gathered his strength and swung the dagger down.

The steel blade slid deep into the girl’s left breast. The fresh blood that gushed out soaked Brook’s face.

In that instant, Reena’s arms and legs bounced, and her eyes and mouth opened. Tears leaked from her dark eyes, a moan of pain from her crimson lips.

“Na……” Her lips moved in the shape of her brother’s name, but her voice had disappeared.

And then, she passed away.

Brook closed his daughter’s hollow eyes.

In his cold heart, Brook stared at his daughter’s changed corpse. The body in front of him was already not his daughter. It was nothing more than a vessel to accept the Demon King’s soul.

Brook waited.

The advent of the Demon King……

Stepping outside the sigil, he repeated the demon summoning spell once more.

A long interval passed, but nothing changed.

If the Demon King’s seal hadn’t been broken, Reena’s death would become a useless one.

But his frozen heart didn’t even feel impatience.

And then, his time came at last.

Reena’s body, which shouldn’t have moved, began twitching, cramping.

A red light rose like a pillar from the sigil.

Brook suck in his breath and stared.

Reena’s body was trembling all over. But the shaking gradually subsided.

The light, too, disappeared.

The eyes opened.

They burned a deep crimson.

The mouth opened.

It let out something like a sob.

And then, the thing that had inhabited Reena’s body slowly got up. After that, it grasped the dagger that was still sticking out of its chest with both hands.

It yanked the dagger out in one go.

Fresh blood flowed out like a fountain. The white nude body was dyed a deep red, as if it was wearing a deep crimson dress.

The head lolled in a circle.

Their eyes met.

The eyes had returned to their original color. But the light that now inhabited those eyes was not that of his daughter. He felt an evil he didn’t think was of this world.

“You, are the Demon King……?” Brook said, intimidated.

There was no answer.

It’s long tongue licked up the red liquid that had splattered around its mouth. Then, it turned to Brook and came near him with a staggering gait.

But at the edge of the sigil, its movement stopped.

Lips stained the color of blood moved slowly. “Thou it is that has liberated me?”

It was Low Ancient.

The demons had been sealed in the era of the Ancient Kingdom, so they didn’t know any words that had come into existence in the Sword Age.

“Yes. It is I who have liberated thee,” Brook answered, puffing out his chest.

A blind exaltation enveloped his body. He had paid a huge sacrifice, but his goal had been achieved.

From here, Brook would organize a demon army, and go out to conquer Lodoss. He had five years to accomplish that goal. After that, the tyrannical emperor who dominated the demons would be toppled by the crown prince, prepared as a heroic vessel.

People would praise the Crown Prince. Taking revenge on a tyrannical father is the duty of a son.

And then, a thousand years of stability would be earned. After the Sword Age opened the curtain, the first unified country would be born on Lodoss.

“Demon King, obey me! Thou art bound to the body that you control through the bond of blood!!” Brook ordered in a loud voice.

The Demon King did not answer.

Still silent, it took a single step forward, going over the sigil.

“I have been liberated.”

The Demon King flashed a slimy smile and approached him sensuously. Even knowing that it was his daughter’s face, his daughter’s body, Brook’s spine tingled.

Embracing a demon king who had come into his daughter’s body had to be the hieght of immorality. But in playing the part of the tyrannical emperor, even that might be alright.

“Yes, I am thy liberator. I commandest thou through the bonds of blood. Thou shalt obey me!”

The Demon King’s mouth stretched wide, as if its face had been split open. It was an eerie smile. A brutal light dwelt in both black eyes.

“Indeed, thou art my liberator.” The Demon King’s speech was like a song. “And so, I am free!!”

As the words left his daughter’s mouth, Brook’s exaltation cooled in an instant.

“What did you say!!”

Brook himself didn’t notice it, but the words he’d uttered so reflexively weren’t in low ancient, but in the language used daily in Lodoss.

“Thou hast no blood bond to the body I control. And so……” The Demon King flung its eyes open wide. It turned to the void and shouted. “I am free!”

The shout felt as if it was directed at something impossibly far away, as if it was directed at the distant past.

“Idiot……” Brook shook his head violently, seeming to deny the Demon King’s words.

That was the sort of thing he shouldn’t have done.

The Demon King came right up in front of him. An ominous charm flowed from its entire body. That body was unmistakably his daughter’s. It was the image of her mother, his second queen……

“Are you saying that……?” Brook finally shouted. “Natasha! This is your revenge!!” Brook screamed.

Natasha’s curse had fallen on the land of Skard and its royal family. They would have a war now, with a matchlessly powerful demon army as their opponent.

They couldn’t but be destroyed.

The royal family, the noblemen, even the common people……

“I’m so sorry……” Brook crumbled right there, putting both hands to the floor.

Those same words echoed in Brook’s heart.

He cursed his own foolishness. Remorse broke over him in waves.

This was too harsh to be labeled just one of fate’s jokes.

But no one else had brought this on him. Only Brook himself was to blame.

Tying a free and unrestrained woman down as his second queen, who had done that?

And who’s clownery, who’s solitary role in this drama had now shut off the future of the one young man who kept his heroic abilities to himself?

“The accursed island, Lodoss……” Brook muttered the thought, as though he were spitting blood. “It certainly is……”

Brook lifted his face.

The Demon King was chanting something in an unknown tongue.

At Brook’s rear, a sound like a heavy door opening began to be audible.

In the Demon King’s hand he gripped a large hand-and-a-half sword. It was so huge as to be disproportionate to the body of an undersized girl.

The Demon King hefted it in one hand.

Staggering, Brook stood up. He put his right hand on the longsword at his hip. It was a magical longsword that had toppled many dozens of magical creatures, and it had a specially engraved blade that had been presented to him by Court Magician, Wort.

The Demon King and Brook turned to confront each other face to face.

Brook brandished his sword, gave it his all.

The Demon King didn’t even try to avoid the blow.

The demon burst wide open from left shoulder to breast, but no blood flowed. Perhaps the girl’s blood had already gone.

The Demon King flashed a demonic smile.

And then the great sword was brandished.

It was a cursed demon blade, later known as The Sword of the Demon King, or Soul Crusher.

But Brook knew nothing of that. Because in the next instant, his torso was separated from his neck.

In losing his soul thanks to the magic of the blade, Brook may have been fortunate.

The cries of unsaved souls have no voice in Hell……

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