He wasn’t joking. Draco looked straight at Hirano.
“My army will attack the human world, Hirano-sama.”
“… You can’t. I don’t know what your plan is, but I won’t allow it.”
Hirano’s expression changed. His eyes weren’t solemn, but his gaze pierced right through Draco. Only a person who has been through a lot of hardships can have that kind of menace in their eyes.
“Why not, Hirano-sama?”
“I swore that I would help you, that I would fight together with you by your side.”
“Yes. And I am very grateful for that.”
He didn’t want to invade the human world to repay the favour that Hirano had bestowed upon him.
That thought had certainly crossed his mind when he had first heard of this, but he concluded that attacking the human world would benefit him after much thought.
“Alunaha is isolated.”
“Even though I have the <Gonane> backing me from the south, my power right now is merely that of a single Demon King.”
“I guess so. One of the rival chiefs, you might say.”
Even the word ‘rival chief’ was a bit of a stretch. Draco didn’t even have enough strength to dominate a region. The 4,000 troops that he had assembled are simply not strong enough for him to try and dominate the region.
“I must find a way to break through this situation.”
“And the solution you came up with was the human world?”
“In a way, yes.”
With Alunaha in the centre, the human world is to the west, the <Gonane> is to the south, the Lizardmen to the east, and the <Succubus Princess> Palmyra, is to the north. Ri Gudang, who has degenerated into a bandit, continued to plunder between Palmyra and Draco’s territory.
“The Lizardmen are unsociable and belligerent. I will have to put off trying to deal with them right now. That said, it is hard to advance to the north.”
“Because you have to deal with both Palmyra and Ri Gudang?”
“Yes. Those two may seem hostile towards each other right now, but it is quite possible for them to form an alliance at some point in the future. It would be safe to assume that they are already working together.”
“Is that all? You’re sending troops to the human world in the west, where information is scarce, just because you’re reluctant to advance to the north or the east?”
“No, that is not the reason. I want to send troops to the west because of wealth.”
There are numerous adventurer merchants who are known as ‘River Crossers’.
There was profit in the human world even with the danger. The products in the demon realm differ from those in the human world and enormous profit can be made by trading those items. That is why there will always be ‘River Crossers’ no matter how dangerous it may be.
“We are going to do the same thing as the ‘River Crossers’ as a whole city.”
“Trade with the human world?”
“I want to gain a base for that goal. No, it does not have to be a base. It is fine as long as we can find someone with whom we can trade with in the human world.”
“You want to invade the human world for that?”
It was also for the sake of training the soldiers.
Soldiers who have real battle experience are stronger. His current force wasn’t strong enough to deal with Ri Gudang and Palmyra.
“Alunaha has 4,000 troops. I will send 2,000 of them to the human world.”
“Half of your total force?”
“If anything, the invasion would not be effective if we do not send that many troops.”
The demon invasion.
In the north-western part of the demon realm, the <Northern Overlord’s> army has been invading the human world from the north-western part of the demon realm but for the rest of the world, the humans and demons have mostly maintained peace.
“Are you serious?”
“Yes. I am not that optimistic about the current situation in Alunaha to make a joke.”
If Palmyra moves south… if Ri Gudang goes on a rampage… and if the <Northern Overlord> dispatches an army to pursue Draco.
There were endless possibilities. So, he must do what he can while he still can.
“Alright, Draco. I will let you do it.”
“I am honoured that you would approve.”
At that moment, alcohol and bowls were brought into the room. Elena had prepared them.
“Draco, come drink with me.”
The snacks were also brought in one after the other, but no one made a noise. It was a very quiet and modest banquet. The Evil God was pouring drinks for the priests.
“Oh, thank you very much. But is it alright?”
“It’s not every day that you get to drink alcohol poured by an Evil God. Just drink.”
An Evil God and demons drinking together at the same table. It was a strange sight. He was even under the false sense that the barrier between the Evil Gods and demons was extremely low.
Draco looked at Hirano as he drank his alcohol.
His expression was a mix of relief and anxiety, but he looked more relieved than anxious.
This kind of relationship between Evil Gods and demons was also alright.
I was annoyed.
Or angry, to be more precise… because of the thing that was spread out on the desk in front of me.
“… What is it, Master?”
“What is this?”
“What, you ask? It’s a map…”
Map. Yes, a map. The question was what was it a map of?
Yoshinaga-san had returned when Draco returned to the castle. She pulled this map from out of nowhere when I told her that he would be invading the human world.
“Why do you have a detailed map of Walbolt, Yoshinaga-san?”
“Hmm, well… I picked it up?”
“Of course, you didn’t. Who in the world would drop a map of the human world in Alunaha’s Evil God Temple?!”
“No, I mean, ehehe.”
I glared at Yoshinaga-san, who scratched her head and looked away from me.
Yoshinaga-san is usually hiding something terrible when she acts this way.
“It’s no use trying to cover it up with a laugh.”
“Hey, Hirabon, I mean, Master, you’re scary.”
“I’m going to ask you to explain yourself today. You started acting weird after Eulenspiegel’s arrival. Why are you so obsessed with the human world? What do you have against the ‘Church’?”
I regretted it after I said my piece.
I exploded since I felt frustrated at being left out. Meh. I didn’t mean to be harsh on her.
And yet, Yoshinaga-san looked as if she had steeled herself.
“――― Alright. I believe it’s better to tell you everything.”
Yoshinaga-san began mumbling after she said this.
“It has been 400 years since I’ve transmigrated here.”
“Yes, 400 years… It’s been a long time.”
This world and our previous world.
The flow of time between them wasn’t slower or faster than the other. They both ran on different times. It seems that those who died before Yoshinaga-san could be transmigrated after her.
“I was transmigrated as a Goddess who was worshipped by a small tribe of humans further north of here.”
“Was that when you were the <Goddess of War>?”
“Yes. That tribe was always fighting other humans, but they weren’t very good at fighting. They always lost. So, they came to worship me as the Goddess of War while I was meddling in their affairs.”
Yoshinaga-san looked up at the dome as if she was remembering something. She wasn’t looking at the dome; she seemed to be gazing at something beyond that. She looked lonely and as if she was missing something.
“You know my personality Hirabon. I manifested, inspired the tribe, and lead them.”
“Even though you told me not to manifest?”
“Well, that’s because I failed. I don’t want the same thing to happen to you, Hirabon.”
I see. So, Yoshinaga-san was comparing me to herself. That makes sense. She should have just told me directly then, but then again, being a pain in the ass was also part of her personality.
“There were still a lot of gods back then. The <Goddess of Gambling> had also transmigrated here back then, so we quarreled, and she got angry at me. I was summoned to a meeting every time I manifested or used miracles, and all my friends were made to pay karma as punishment.”
I think I heard a weird word.
“Yoshinaga-san, did you say ‘still’?”
“… Yeah. There were ‘still’ many gods around at that time. The Divine Realm has gotten a lot quieter now.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean it in different ways. There were gods who got bored and chose to ascend, and there were also those who went into hiding. But the most common god… was the <One and Only God>.”
The <One and Only God>.
The ‘Church’s’ God. The Church is a monotheistic religion. They only worship one god, naturally.
“You also saw gods who have faded into thin silhouettes in the Divine Realm, haven’t you Hirabon? They are those who have used up all their karma.”
“… I saw them.”
“They’re still here even if they’ve faded into thin silhouettes. When a god runs out of karma, they perish. Though they probably get reincarnated or transmigrated into the next world.”
That word ‘perish’ hung heavily in the air.
This was why the Evil God Okri laughed at me when I said I would save my believer. gods and evil gods perish when they run out of karma. I have earned my karma through gambling and whatnot, but…
“My tribe fought against the ‘Church’ because they couldn’t accept a religion that only believed in one god since they were a tribe that worshiped many other gods apart from me. I led the other gods into battle.”
“That sounds like you, Yoshinaga-san.”
“――― You’re right. It might just be like me to do something like that.”
Then, her voice trailed off.
She was probably thinking about how to word what she wanted to say next, but the words were stuck at the back of her throat. Or so it looked.
“――― We lost. We were annihilated.”
I couldn’t see Yoshinaga-san’s expression since she was looking down.
“I told them to fight and not give up until the end. Everyone wasn’t good at fighting, but they all exerted their karma and perished one by one…”
She sobbed while talking.
I can’t imagine how painful it must have been. I don’t want to think about my friends dying.
“Only I and one other person remained in the end. I wanted to protect my tribe even if I perished. That’s what I thought while I was fighting. I’m not bragging, but I was popular and had collected a lot of karma, so I was able to last for a long time. Then…”
“The other surviving goddess said, ‘You must not perish’…”
She couldn’t speak after that. I handed her a handkerchief and quietly left my seat.
Sadness. Regret. And hatred.
Yoshinaga-san must have recalled her past self when Eulenspiegel mentioned the ‘Church’. That’s why she felt she had to help him no matter what she had to do.
What would I Have done? Would I have done the same thing as Yoshinaga-san if I had been in her shoes?
I don’t know.
One thing is clear. I must fight the ‘Church’.
For Yoshinaga-san and for myself, and in the long run, for Draco.
I couldn’t overlook a huge force that was expanding across the river that separated the human world and the demon realm.
My gut was telling me that we shouldn’t just sit back and wait for whatever the outcome may be.
I will fight.
I can’t let Yoshinaga-san suffer any more than this.