「Hmm, what's the best way to define a devil. Well, they're monsters that bind human souls with contracts to obtain them.」
Louise explained to Kazane.
As Kazane had requested, Louise called Kazane to a corner of the deck to explain the situation. The other members weren't called because it would reveal Minaka's personal circumstances.
「They bind souls with contracts?」
After Kazane's question Louise started to speak with「For example.」
「A devil receives a wish from a human being and attempts to fulfill their desire. After that desire is satisfied the devil gets the contractor's soul」
「Once a human being becomes a contractor, also known as a devil user, the devil's power can pass through to them and increase their strength. This young lady contracted with a devil to try and strengthen herself. 」
Minaka hung her head with a despondent expression. She was currently in a reflection seiza.
「Well, since she contracted with an incubus, she didn't become abnormally strong. At best her magical power and physical ability were slightly increased, so naturally becoming the strongest fighter in the world was an impossible dream. However, there is something like a loophole in devil contracts. For example, even if it is different from the contract content, as long as the contractor is fundamentally satisfied the conditions can be fulfilled.」
Louise looked at Minaka with reproachful eyes. Guessing the intention Minaka's face became even more red and her head fell further.
「Ah, you mean addicting her to night practice?」
Kazane drew a conclusion from the situation, and Louise replied「Correct.」
「That's how it is. After a little more time this girl's purpose would have switched over. Her body would have been taken over by the devil, and her soul would have been forfeit.」
Minaka trembled from Louise's words.
「Well, but now that devil is inside this.」
So saying Louise took out a dagger. It was wrapped in a cloth with incantations written on it. It was likely for devil sealing, since it was similar to how they had wrapped Diablo's remains.
「It seems this guy was sleeping with her day after day.」
Louise said while shaking the sealed dagger, and Minaka's face and ears became bright red. Undoubtedly she was remembering the past. What was done was unknown, but there was no mistake that things happened.
「Well, think of this as learning the hard way that you shouldn't take shortcuts, but instead get stronger through diligent training. That way you can now do your best, because your grandpa is expecting that.」
「Yes. I am very sorry. And thank you for everything.」
Minaka deeply bowed her head and thanked Louise after her remark.
「Well, I'll be sticking around because of the tournament, so I'll give you another massage if you need it.」
Louise's continuing words made Minaka suddenly blush.
「Err...... that, please take care of me.」
It seemed she remembered something in the middle of saying that because her eyes briefly became intoxicated. Massages were scary.
「Yeah. So you said devils are Astral-type monsters?」
Kazane left Minaka alone and asked something she was wondering about.
「That's right. However, strictly speaking they aren't monsters. They don't have a core.」
「They're not monsters?」
That was the first time Kazane had heard that.
「Properly said they are an aggregation of human souls. A devil's personality is from the highest ranking soul, which dominates the assembly of souls. The history of devils is ancient, and I am told they have existed longer than the gods.」
「That's a very long time ago. Or perhaps I should say how could the story of them being older than gods even be reliably handed down?」
「The gods said it.」
(Ah, that's right, there are gods)
And Kazane remembered what she had heard a little while ago.
「However. Considering that their personality is only because all the other souls are inferior to them, if they were to eat a stronger soul they would obviously be taken over, right? That's why they make contracts; it is a necessary measure to establish a pecking order before they steal a soul.」
「If it is done that way they won't be taken over?」
「It seems that way. Diablo had already stockpiled an extraordinary number of souls, so in the end I couldn't kill him and had no choice but to seal him.」
So Louise said, but Kazane remembered that she had unexpectedly obtained Diablo's skill. At that time he should have been killed with the instant death magic of her second character. However, Kazane thought that Diablo hadn't really been killed because of Louise's judgement that if the astral body didn't disappear he wasn't really dead.
(Perhaps the instant death magic killed the highest-ranking soul Diablo with pinpoint precision, so maybe if Diablo revived it would actually be a different person?)
Kazane thought, but at the moment he was completely sealed, so there was no way to check that.
「So I'm assuming there are benefits to stealing souls?」
「There are. If Minaka's soul were stolen Minaka's swordsmanship could be used. If it was a magician their magic could be used, or if it was a bowman the devil would be able to skillfully use a bow. Naturally the person's knowledge is also obtained. Well, in order to avoid synchronizing consciousnesses too much a certain amount of probing seems to be necessary.」
「Hmm. Doesn't that feel a little similar to my ability to steal Skills?」
To Kazane's words Louise replied「Maybe so, but since you only get Skills isn't it different?」
「Mu, that's true.」
Kazane replied. Strictly speaking she obtained experience points as well. But that was the same for Yumika, and the same thing happened when one of Tiara's controlled summoned creatures killed something. But maybe I'm doing something similar to obtain Skills? ...... Kazane thought. Well, even if she thought about it there was no way to reach a conclusion.
Right after they talked a voice could be heard saying「We are arriving.」It seemed they had finally reached Resurrect City.
◎ Resurrect City - Noon
They disembarked from the Dragon Boat riding the Thunder Chariot pulled by Hippomaru-kun, and as usual its appearance was also conspicuous in this town. People still raised a commotion at that jet black figure, but the noise was a little different from other cities and was full of favorable voices.
「Hey now, some kind of big shot must have come.」
「They were saying this year's Grand Tournament gathering was poor, but doesn't this mean a terrific person came?」
「Hey, isn't that the Fang Spear Soldier?」
「Is he coming back ten years after winning the prize? He's also carrying outrageous spears, seriously dangerous.」
And, well, since the masses thought a big shot came to participate in the Grand Tournament they became very excited. By the way, just like they said Jinrai won the Grand Tournament ten years ago.
「I'm glad there's such liveliness.」
Inside the carriage Kazane was in high spirits from observing outside.
「Somehow I feel like we're just raising expectations.」
Yumika seemed to be depressed next to her.
「Is it really fine for me to come with you?」
「I don't care. As a devil hunter I can't just leave you alone.」
Minaka was also riding the carriage with them from the Dragon Boat. That was because Louise said she would require aftercare, so she needed to be nearby for a while. Louise said she would take care of her to a certain extent during the tournament.
「Well, don't worry about it, Minaka-san. Ah, do you want to eat a frozen orange?」
So saying Naoki handed her a frozen orange.
Minaka squealed because of its coldness. Stimulation was dangerous. She had become very sensitive.
「Naoki, you cannot do strange things to Minaka-san.」
「No, what are you saying, Aneki. Of course I won't.」
It was obvious that Minaka's cry just now caused Naoki's nostrils to flare in excitement, and he was very flustered by his sister's retort. Or rather, the surrounding gazes were painful. If the situation were observed through a harem lens, Naoki would be in the worst situation out of the members. Recently he was in a terrible situation where the time he spent with his beloved sister was less than the time she spent with Jinrai. It seemed that Naoki was surpassed by an old battle maniac.
◎ Arena Reception Desk
Hippomaru-kun stopped, and when Kazane and the rest got off the carriage the surrounding people that saw them stirred. Many veteran warriors knew about the Fang Spear Soldier, many adventurers from Minshiana knew about Kazane and the rest, and the names White Party and Ogre Killing Princess were whispered here and there. Since Naoki had also been given an Indestructible Cloak by Kazane only Minaka was not wearing white. Louise said she had business at the Adventurer's Guild and was already handling that by herself. It seemed they would help her with the process of dealing with the sealed devil.
At the reception desk Yumika, Minaka, and Naoki filed for the ordinary Grand Tournament, and Kazane applied for the summoning tournament. Tiara and Jinrai were abstaining. As expected Tiara wasn't going to publicly draw attention to her face, and it seemed Jinrai didn't want to participate because he had already appeared in the tournament before and cared about the subtle differences from actual battle. Although he also hoped his disciple would gain battle experience by fighting various opponents. Only fighting against Jinrai would naturally narrow her strategies. Although Naoki was jointly training now, it was better to accumulate a lot of different experiences.
It seemed that the Grand Tournament had already begun, and participants were currently going through the qualifying rounds. Yumika and Minaka would both be participating in a qualifying match tomorrow. Naoki didn't have to go through the qualifying rounds of the Grand Tournament because of his past results in various combat competitions in Hyvern.
In addition, because the number of participants in the summoning tournament was limited Kazane was also immediately qualified for the main competition.
◎ Resurrect City Adventurer's Guild Office
「Umm, this might be troublesome.」
There was accommodation prepared for tournament participants, so after visiting that Kazane had come to the Adventurer's Guild office together with Tiara to pick up Louise. However, when they entered the office Louise had a displeased face while talking with the receptionist. And after she saw Kazane and Tiara the first thing she told them was「This might be troublesome.」
Kazane thought something bad must have happened from Louise's serious expression, so she asked.
「Somehow, it seems there a lot of contracting devils, right?」
The receptionist nodded to agree with Louise's words.
「Devil contracts like with Minaka-san?」
「That's right. There are always a few people who try to get further in such competitions by using devils and they're usually easy to catch, but it seems that there are a lot of them this time.」
「So they can't be caught?」
The receptionist answered Kazane's remark.
「It is difficult. Even if you can discover a contract, summoning contracts are mediated by magical power as well. So the question of whether there's a devil or not can't be immediately answered.」
「Perhaps there will be something like Diablo?」
Tiara asked with a trembling face. However, Louise said「Not at all」while shaking her head.
「A big shot like that shouldn't appear in a fighting competition. That guy was one of the highest ranked devils.」
「But there are a lot of them?」
「That's right. I'm being requested to flush them out since I have the Devil Hunter title, and it's difficult for me to refuse. Ah, it's so bothersome.」
「Please don't say that. We have already dispatched all the Devil Hunters we have, and if they can fight under the command of the famous Louise Cancer everyone will gain morale.」
「Yes yes, I know that already. Jeez.」
Louise's cheeks puffed up, and she faced Kazane.
「That's why I will have to take separate action for a while. Can you ask Jinrai-kun to guard Tiara? He'll be free anyway since he's not participating in the tournament.」
「Yeah, I understand.」
Kazane replied, then told Louise the location of the inn before returning.
By the way, Minaka was currently added to the Jinrai・Yumika・Naoki training, so there was nobody there to return to ..... Just as she thought that she found Master there.