Blame the horses.
Only a dozen or so men were following him. Draco was in a hurry and had no time to spare. Even his hands which were holding onto the reins were sweating.
“Milord, let’s take a break.
A werebear hunter said to Draco. Draco had hired him as a guide, but he was resourceful. His name was Dada.
“There is a spring near here. Let’s take a rest here.”
“Alright. That’ll be nice.”
One of the reasons why he had hired the guide was to learn the location of the spring. He had been informed that poison would be released into the river, so they couldn’t use water from the river.
Draco’s team was travelling inland. They were avoiding the area around Lau River where there was a road. They had to travel this way because they didn’t know when the poison would be released. While weaving their way along the side roads, they were gradually approaching the small village where they had planned on meeting up with the rest of the men.
The spring was an open area in the forest. Draco could hear birds chirping loudly. This was evidence that the forest was healthy.
But the sounds of the birds chirping were a nuisance to Draco since he was anxious.
“Here you go, Milord. Freshly drawn water. I’ve already tasted it for poison.”
He drank the water as he looked at Dadda, the werebear.
He was a middle-aged man and very hairy. He looked exactly like the werebear that Draco had seen in a painting in the past. He looked rough, but not unpleasant. In fact, it seemed that he kept his appearance this way on purpose.
“Have you been a hunter for long, Dadda?”
“If I had to choose an answer between long and short, then I would say it hasn’t been short. I may look like this, but I used to work at a castle.”
“You worked at a castle?”
“Yes. My whole family used to work at Pazan castle.”
Draco had never heard this before. He had never heard about Pazan employing werebears. Then, Draco realised that he was under a terrible misconception.
“I see, you worked there before the shapeshifters were forced to relocate there?”
“Yes, Pazan was originally ruled by <Fortress Drop> Gwab, King of the werebears.”
10 years ago, the shapeshifters lost a political battle in the demon capital and were forced to relocate to Pazan. Draco remembered this incident well. This area was ruled by the werebears before then.
“My family was forced to scatter because of their relocation. I became a hunter in order to eat, and now here I am.”
“You’ve been through a lot.”
“No, it’s all Gwab-sama’s fault.”
“How was it his fault?”
“The Evil God was angry with him.”
The werebears had an Evil God.
Draco didn’t know the Evil God’s name. He didn’t know whether it wasn’t passed down or if the evil priests just hid it, but their name was now in the dark. At any rate, it was certain that there was a powerful Evil God who guided the werebears.
“Gwab-sama was a Demon King who ruled over both the warriors and evil priests. He took the rituals seriously at first, but he gradually began to cut corners.”
It was a common story.
Demon Kings are chosen by blood. Some follow in the footsteps of their ancestors and let their talent flourish, but the opposite was also true in many cases.
Even so, they can overcome hardships as long as they had a nation to protect, excellent vassals and the blessings of an Evil God. At least, that was what those in the Demon Realm believed.
“Our Evil God was a very helpful God, and they used to appear before Gwab-sama a lot. But they began visiting less when Gwab-sama neglected the rituals, then finally even the substitute God left.”
“So that’s how it was.”
“That’s when the fall of Gwab-sama began. He lost the battle against the goblin shamans. All the children born to him died of illness, and to top it off, his castle was forfeited. It was sad to see that it was the shapeshifters who took over the castle.”
Draco didn’t reply to Dadda’s scorn.
Draco didn’t know about the Evil God’s blessing or luck, but he believed that it was unreasonable that the entire family was left out in the cold because of Gwab’s failure to perform the rituals.
Will the Evil God Hirano, who Draco worships, also treat him this way?
“Dadda, would you be willing to work at a castle again if you had the chance?”
Dadda quickly prostrated himself before Draco when he heard Draco’s muttered words. It was a magnificent prostrated form.
“If I may, please hire us, Milord. I cannot bear to end my life as a hunter. I, I, want to die on the battlefield as a werebear warrior.”
“I wonder if I, a demon, can save you all whom an Evil God has forsaken.”
“I do not mind if you do not save us. I just want a place to die. Give me a place where I can fight and die.”
Draco had never thought about a place to die.
He was determined to follow his grandfather and father’s advice and take the throne as the Great Demon King and rule justly. That was all he ever thought about. He continued to think this even after he was ridiculed as the <Dethroned Crown Prince>.
He never thought about dying. The expectations of those around him created the demon Draco. Expectations, envy and feelings have gathered together as if they were his clothes to create Draco, the <Dethroned Crown Prince>.
And yet, this werebear was telling him to give him a place to die. Could he do that? No, he must do it. If he is ‘Draco, the <Dethroned Crown Prince> then he must take this man’s feelings into consideration, take him as his vassal, put him in the vanguard and give him a place to die… mercifully.
“Alright, Dadda. Gather your people. I won’t let you die easily. Work as hard as you can.”
“At your will.”
When he heard that voice, his big back felt much smaller. Draco watched Dadda walk off and prayed to the Evil God, Hirano.
The birds’ chirping was no longer bothering him.
The sky below was clear. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I passed through the entrance of the Divine Realm and flew with Yoshinaga-san towards Alunaha. Yoshinaga-san’s flying looked much better compared to those who still weren’t used to flying. She was an athletic person in her previous life, but she was a member of the Go and Shogi Club.
“Master, the wind feels nice.”
“You can just call me Hirabon when it’s just the two of us.”
“I can’t do that. I may look like this, but I’m a stickler for rules.”
Look who’s talking! You’re the one who collected enough signatures required to change a school rule, forced the school to hold an assembly and twisted the rules by brute force because you didn’t like the uniform.
Still, the breeze felt nice.
Yoshinaga-san and I are planning on going to the Human Realm after returning to Alunaha and greeting Draco.
The Human Realm is actually not that far from the Demon Realm. West of Alunaha is a big river, and beyond that river is the Human Realm.
“Speaking of which, what are you going to use your war funds for?”
“To grant blessings.”
Yoshinaga-san began her explanation. She is very good at explaining things in a simple way.
It is necessary to expand my influence somewhere to prevent Draco’s demon army from suffocating to death in Alunaha. This was impossible to the south because of the mud-slurpers. The lizardmen to the east are stubborn. No one knew what the shapeshifters to the north were thinking, so there was only the west left.
The demons and humans are wary of each other, but that didn’t mean they didn’t interact at all.
Trade. They secretly exchange goods on the great river. Apparently, this was profitable since the products in the Demon Realm and the Human Realm are different.
So, the humans living on the other side of the river are tolerant of demons, though that probably wasn’t the only reason why they were tolerant of demons.
Many humans worship human deities, but Yoshinaga-san believes that there were mixed beliefs here since it was on the frontier, thus leaving room for me, an Evil God, to expand his influence.
“That’s why you need blessings. The humans in that area aren’t well off. If they have to worship a God, then they will worship one that brings them blessings. In other words, Master. If they come to worship Master, then it would be easier for them to talk to Draco, who also worships you.”
“I see, so the war funds are for creating those blessings.”
“Yup. You can make it rain or even heal people. If you do well, then your believers will increase quickly. Most of the Gods in that area are absentees.”
In other words, I was trespassing on someone else’s territory.
They will probably resent me, but I’ll insist that it’s their own fault for leaving it up to proxies. The fact that I got excited about this kind of thing hasn’t changed at all from my previous life.
Then, it occurred to me. Or to be more precise, the question that has been swirling around in my gut hit me in the face.
What is an Evil God? What are Gods in this world?
The people I dealt with in Malkund were no different from humans. They had greed, vanity, fear and were calculating. That’s why I won.
But it is absolutely not true that I was still exactly the same as I was in my previous life. I still dream about what I vaguely realized during that battle.
My emotions are restricted.
I can only imagine how I would have felt at a scene like that in my previous life, but I believe I would have probably felt disgusted and vomited. A being that spoke and looked much like a human being dying before one’s eyes. Can an Evil God give up after seeing that?
Standing above the demons and humans to perform miracles and gather faith.
I have no questions about that.
What is an Evil God?
“What’s wrong, Master? You look conflicted. Is my explanation hard to understand?”
“I understand blessings well. It’s just…”
I stopped speaking. I felt that I shouldn’t confide in Yoshinaga-san about this yet.
“Well, it’s not a big deal.”
“Hmm, weird Master.”
“I’m not weird.”
Yes, I’m not weird. I’m not weird, but why am I worrying about this?
A flock of birds flew below us.
For example, would I be sad if I shot those birds with <Lightning>?
I would probably repent if it was the previous me, but what about now?
“Yoshinaga-san, do you know everything that comes with the <Basic Evil God Set>?”
“Why’re you asking all of a sudden?”
“I just want to check something before I go to the Human Realm.”
“Oh. I don’t know There are ways to find out the superficial things that come with it such as <Lightning> and <Bestowing Luck>, but no one knows what the deepest, most fundamental aspects that make a God or Evil God means.”
“That’s a roundabout way of putting it.”
Yoshinaga-san grinned. Her smile was lustrous and sexy and reminded me of a cat.
“The God who solves mysteries was <spirited away>.”
“Yes, <spirited away>. There’s no one left to investigate the basis.”
Another strange word. What in the fuck is this world?
“Ah, it’s Draco.”
At that moment, Yoshinaga-san spotted Draco in the forest below.