Spears lined up the ground like a forest.
The air was tranquil and serene in the open space at Weinschulz Abbey, the center of the ‘Church’s’ power in the frontier.
A group of monastic knights were sent here by the ‘Church’ to enlighten the frontier people. There were about 800 monastic knights and priest soldiers in this abbey, which may be enough for now.
Archbishop Ostbach, the person in charge of Ragimark district, stroked his beard in satisfaction as he looked at the orderly line of priest soldiers at the door. His hair and beard had turned white a long time ago.
He had been enlightening this region for 40 years. He will probably never see the Holy City again while he is alive. He has worked diligently to propagate the teachings because of his deep faith.
He wanted to spread the proper religion to all people.
Ostbach, who had been spreading the teachings of the ‘Church’ in this region with this desire in mind, now had to worry about his remaining time before he is called to be by the side of the One and Only God.
At the very least, he wanted to make sure that his successor wouldn’t have a hard time.
Ostbach was always careful about everything, so even his own death was within the scope of his plans. After all, everything that happened in this world was predestined by the One and Only God.
“I have news for you, Priest Banten.”
The priest whose name was called stepped forward.
Curios Banten. A convert.
He had red hair indicating that he was of a warrior bloodline who had taken root in the frontier. He had a muscular body and a chiseled face. Curios originally performed heretic rituals in the frontier as someone from the warrior clan. Ostbach persuaded him to convert.
He was now a devoted follower and has even received ‘miracles’ from the archangels.
“I received news from your village yesterday. Your daughter has gone to eliminate the goblins alone. This was probably a lie. Those weak-minded people without proper faith must have offered your daughter as a sacrifice to the evil demons. It is truly tragic and sad.”
Curios looked down slightly but didn’t say anything.
She may be his daughter, but she was a heretic. He couldn’t stand up for those who have not converted to the right religion. Ostbach had taught Curios and the other converts this and they accepted it.
“Priest Banten’s agony must be too deep to comprehend. Can we, as fellow believers, sit by and let this happen?”
“No! No! No!”
The angry voices of the priest soldiers shook the heavens. They were angry at the goblins who had taken the life of the daughter of their comrade, Banten, and at the heretics who had offered her as sacrifice.
“I thought so. So, what should we do?”
“JUDGEMENT! JUDGEMENT! JUDGEMENT!”
Banten, who had been looking down, joined in and his voice was trembling.
“Yes, judgement. Let the hateful demons be judged by the One and Only God! Let the hammer of judgement from the proper religion strike!”
Ostbach taunted himself as he raised his hands to inspire the priest soldiers.
All this was held together with a lie.
The isolation of Ruro Banten, the daughter of Curios, in the heretic village, and the villagers throwing her out as a sacrifice were all orchestrated by Ostbach’s subordinates.
All vices are tolerated to spread the right religion.
After this death, Ostbach must add his grey head to the line of criminals.
Why does that matter?
Fraud, scheming, deception and lies. He used all the tricks in the book to cover this frontier with the Church.
It was akin to grooming an innocent to his liking and was Ostbach’s reason for living.
He will crush the foolish demons that intruded into the Human World and burn the heretic villages while he was at it.
Those who beg for their lives and convert will be accepted and those who won’t, will be skewered.
It could be said that Archbishop Ostbach was insane. He prepared for his last journey with fear and despair swirling around the frontier. He will burn everything that stands in his way, friend, and foe alike.
This was the least he could do to leave a legacy for those who will be left behind.
His successor would surely have a hard time if Ostbach, who had been in charge of the Church’s frontier project since the beginning, died right now, but if he dies insane…
“DEATH TO THE DEMONS! ENLIGHTEN THE HERETICS!”
“DEATH TO THE DEMONS! ENLIGHTEN THE HERETICS!”
You could say he was arrogant.
To believe that he could rewrite the power structure in the frontier with a mere 800 priest soldiers.
But Ostbach didn’t doubt his success for a moment.
For everything in this world was predestined by the One and Only God.
I knew that the village was poor just by listening to Ruro’s stories while we were travelling.
It was quite a shock to me, having lived my entire previous life in modern, peaceful Japan, to hear that people were starving to death, and that she thought it was normal.
In other words, death was normal.
Her ancestors were a group of warriors who were called the ‘Spear People’ and had settled in the area adjacent to the Demon Realm. At that time, they constantly battled with demons and the area was prosperous thanks to the donations from the royal family and nobles from faraway places.
The two major products of this area, salt and horses, continued to enrich the region even after the demons stopped invading. The salt plains near Ruro’s village produced high-quality salt which could be sold at a reasonable price after it was broken off and moved.
It was not until Ruro’s grandfather’s generation that things began to go wrong.
The salt stopped selling, then it became difficult to find buyers for the horses as well. A superstition spread in the nearby towns claiming that if one consumed the heretic’s salt, then they wouldn’t receive God’s forgiveness.
“Yes, the ‘Church’s’ god.”
Then, salt came in large quantities from the north. Ruro’s salt was cheaper, but they couldn’t sell it because it was taboo to eat heretic salt according to the Church. Even the merchants who they had a close relationship with told them that they would buy the salt in bulk at a dirt-cheap price if they mixed the salt with the salt from the north. Ruro’s grandfather couldn’t do anything to sell their products.
They were also quite strict with horses.
Horses are only allowed to be owned by nobles and a few others and mules must be used for farming and transporting goods in the city where the ‘Church’ is worshipped. The pedigree of the horses are also strictly controlled and wild horses that have been trained can’t be sold. If they stop demand, then production will not exceed the supply.
Salt and horses.
Ruro’s village became instantly impoverished when their two sources of income were cut off. Even if the warriors switched their spears to ploughs and hoes, they wouldn’t be able to plow the fields well. And there is a salt field near the village. I learnt in my previous life when I worked for a trading company that soil cannot grow crops when it produces salt. Many lands have become uncultivable because of this.
I began to get a clear picture of Ruro’s situation.
Her grandfather was the village chief, but her father left the village as a follower of the ‘Church’. Her mother had already passed away. I wonder if the villagers took care of this girl to be a convenient sacrifice to be offered up when the village was in trouble.
It must be hard to take care of a girl in a village so poor that people starve to death, but the harder it is, the less reluctant the villagers will be when they must sacrifice her.
“We worked so hard to raise her.”
“We fed her even though we couldn’t feed our own daughters.”
Perhaps they had decided to sacrifice Ruro immediately after the goblins started stealing their livestock, or perhaps someone had pushed for it, but it must have been easy for the village to come to a consensus.
Am I going to send Ruro into a village like that?
“But I feel safe now.”
Ruro smiled as she said this. I don’t have to ask her why. To be honest, I don’t want to ask. I can’t turn away if I ask. That’s just who I am.
“Because you’re here, Hirano-sama!”
“I thought so,” I muttered and smiled vaguely in return. The feeling of pressure in my stomach was a feeling that I was used to in my previous life.
The expectation that was directed towards me; I wanted to meet them no matter what it took.
I don’t care if I can save her or not; I just want to help her. I have enough power to do so now. This is what it means to be an evil god/the God of Thunder.
They have suffered enough.
They have suffered enough from praying to gods and not getting any help.
“Yeah, don’t worry anymore. I will help you.”
I said as I pat Ruro’s head.
I find myself angry at Eulenspiegel for abandoning this child and calling an army of demons here.
Alright. I have a fair amount of karma now. I’m going to save Ruro with my karma, and not just Ruro; I will exterminate all the misery I can see.
Eulenspiegel and his fellow gods may sneer at me for being ‘two-faced’, but that’s fine.
Just like I had planned with Yoshinaga-san, I will be super ‘two-faced’ to the people of this region.
The people will have bread and children will have milk.
I will remove salt from the salt damaged areas, irrigate it and then grow wheat.
I will make it rain. I will grow grass and let horses be raised.
I can do those things with miracles.
I’ll pour my karma into this place and turn it into an abundant land, then the ‘Church’ won’t be able to influence this region so easily.
I will be ‘two-faced’.
For Ruro’s sake and for Draco’s sake.
I will use the karma I gained from betting and Ruro’s faith and make everyone happy.
I don’t care what the rules are.
I will do it if I can. That’s the way of the Evil God Hirano.
“… This is a problem.”
It was a low, male voice.
The world froze at that moment.
There were no sounds.
It wasn’t like the wind had died down. Everything around me had frozen as if time had stopped. The mood was so bizarre as if a DVD had just been paused.
Two men dressed all in black were standing in front of me.
One of them was tall and lanky and the other was short and fat. Both men were dressed in well-tailored, high-quality suits. The one who had spoken to me was the tall and lanky one.
“You are Hirano Bonta, are you not?”
His voice was professional and stuffy. His tone was extremely emotionless. I nodded slightly and looked him straight in the eyes. They were cold and inhuman. It was as if he didn’t see me as a human, I mean as a god. He was looking at me as if he was a hunter looking at his prey.
This time, the short and fat guy spoke.
“Listen, Hirano-san. I see you are planning on performing some bold miracles.”
They had been listening.
I glanced behind me to look at Ruro. She too was frozen in place. She looked lifeless as if she was a photograph. She was completely still like the landscape around her. The only people who were moving in this space were me and the two men in black.
“Yes, that’s right.”
“We can’t have that.”
Who the heck are you guys anyway? Are you subordinates of the Church’s One and Only God?
If they are, then the One and Only God is well-prepared. He sends his subordinates before an annoying god can gain power. If that is how he works, then I can see how he has increased his power in this world with so many gods. If these are his people, then he’s a frightening god.
If they can predict everything before a move is made, then I would be disadvantaged even in a fight. I waited to see what the men in black would say as I thought this. It’s better not to talk pointlessly at times like this.