“Gods are usually aloof, or rather, they have to be. Our followers die before us no matter how much we love them. Their lives are over too soon.”
I drank the sake and the sour taste spread in my mouth as I silently urged him to carry on.
“If you can’t be close to the one you’re supposed to love then you can’t help but keep your distance from them, and by keeping that distance, you will start feeling like these beings are ‘things who supply you with karma’ instead of followers. That is something that will happen. It’s not a good or bad thing. It’s just the way things are.”
“… Is that so?”
“Yes, it is. Do you think about the cows every time you ate them in your previous life? Did you think about the tractor driver from Australian farms every time you bit into a piece of toast? Never. Your mind will stop thinking about such useless things. That’s the way it works.”
“But cows and followers are different.”
“Cows and believers are different. You want to believe they’re different. You want to believe that there’s something in you that makes you think. Ideals and reality are different. A juicy, thick beefsteak will fill you up, but reading Thomas More or Karl Marx will not quench your thirst or hunger. Both humans and gods need to adjust themselves to reality.”
“So, you are saying that cows and believers are the same, Rilfis-san?”
“One has four legs and the other two. Their stomachs are also different, but in essence, there isn’t much difference between the two. No, I should say that there isn’t any difference between the two. It’s easier to live with if you see it that way. And those who don’t… are big fools.”
Putting cows and believers on the same level. I can’t do that.
Draco and Ruro are individuals. This isn’t about whether they give me karma or not. A believer is a believer; someone who should be protected.
The one who gives karma and the one who receives it. I don’t want to think of their relationship as a food chain hierarchy.
I can’t live my life wisely. Besides ―――
“Then, let me ask you something.”
“Oh, what is it?”
“… Why did you stay behind by yourself, Rilfis-san? If your believers, ‘the Warrior Clan’ are the same as cows, then why don’t you just leave them all behind and run away with the other gods to the Divine Realm or whatever.”
Rilfis laughed. It wasn’t a wicked laugh. It was an honest and cheerful laugh.
“Isn’t it obvious? I’m also a big fool.”
The air around the prairie was cold.
I let the cold wind blow against my body as Rilfis and I looked down on Ruro’s village.
“Look at that, Hirano.”
Rilfis pointed in the direction of a cloud of dust. It was the ‘Church’s’ army. There didn’t seem to be many people in the Church’s army. Infantry, maybe 1000, or a bit more than that. I was concerned about their supplies since it was a lot less than what I see the demon armies bring.
“That’s the ‘Church’s’ main force. Of course, that’s not all of them, but they are the core of the ‘Church’s’ army. There aren’t many of them, but their morale is abnormally high, and they are extremely strong. They’ve fought with the warriors from this region several times, but it was our complete defeat.”
The <God of Wind> squinted his eyes as he spat out the herb leaves that he was chewing in annoyance. He was holding a spear that was as long as a traffic light in one hand and had a large bottle of sake on his hip. He truly looked like a god of war.
“What do you mean ‘complete defeat’?”
“The ‘Church’ and the ‘Warrior Clan’ aren’t a good match. Their ways of fighting are completely different which is a big problem.”
Rilfis pointed to a herd of horses running across the prairie with his large spear.
“The ‘Warrior Clan’ have honed their cavalry tactics through battling with the demons for a long time. Most of the demon armies that cross the river are foot soldiers, so being on a horse was the best way to drive them away. Of course, they would also fight in position as well. The Walbolt Plains are vast, so it was convenient to be on horses since they can move fast.”
“But fighting as a calvary doesn’t work with the ‘Church’s army’.”
“Another problem might be that the ‘Warrior Clan’ relies more on individual skills than on cooperating with each other. The ‘Church’s’ infantry are quick to build fences and dig holes. A cavalry charge head on would cause a lot of damage, and if they go around, then they would be confronted by knights, mercenaries and other calvary called by the ‘Church’.”
So, this was an abnormal Nagashino battle.
The Nagashino battle was a legendary battle in which Oda Nobunaga’s firearms unit defeated Takeda’s cavalry, which was known for its strength.
Although people now questioned whether such a battle really took place, Nobunaga built an anti-cavalry palisade to stop Takeda’s cavalry from rushing forward. This was similar to what the ‘Church’ was doing. It was a basic way to fortify the field.
This was certainly an excellent tactic to use against a cavalry, but they needed one element to make this work.
“What weapons does the enemy have? Do they have firearms… I mean, guns?”
“No, they have crossbows. Do you know what those are?”
“Yes, a little.”
“You’re quite knowledgeable despite what you look like. I like you. I wouldn’t have known what crossbows were if I hadn’t used them to hunt kangaroos in my previous life.”
Rilfis also had a previous life. Every god in this world has a past life of some kind. It was weird. He said kangaroo, so he must be from Australia.
“I’m curious… I know the ‘Church’ doesn’t use them, but do we have guns in this world?”
Rilfis looked puzzled by my question.
“Oh, I guess Yoshinaga doesn’t explain things that aren’t important.”
“… What do you mean?”
“There are no guns in this world, neither in the Human World nor the Demon Realm. There’s no gunpowder either. ‘Those things cannot exist here’, was what was decided, and there are no ‘plans’ for them to appear in the future.”
What? What does that mean? I can understand if there are no guns or gun powder, but what do you mean there are no plans for them to be here in the future?
“The gods decided this long ago in a conference. ‘Gunpowder’, ‘paper’, and a few other inventions are ‘banned’. I believe ‘penicillin’ and ‘nitrogen fertilizer’ were also banned. The One and Only God, who wasn’t present at that conference, also conforms to these bans.”
“Why would… they ban ‘inventions’?”
“Ask your genus-god Yoshinaga-san about that. Anyway, they don’t have guns. They can’t make guns either. Neither now nor in the future. Isn’t that enough of an explanation for now?”
Yoshinaga-san said that I would have to attend a conference sooner or later. I had been so focused on Draco and the lower world that I hadn’t paid much attention to it, but I probably shouldn’t have put it at the back of my mind.
Although, I’m not even qualified to participate in them right now.
The gods must follow the rules that are established there. It wasn’t just a gathering of the gods. Perhaps I had unconsciously avoided thinking about the conference because of how important it was to von Malkund since she and Yoshinaga-san didn’t get along.
“Well, we can talk about that after the fight is over. It will be a tough fight. Either the ‘Warrior Clan’ will challenge the ‘Church’ to a decisive battle, or they stay holed up in the village.”
“Do they have a chance?”
“I’m afraid not.”
Rilfis’s tone was even cheerful.
“A field battle is a bad idea. The current chief, Ruro Banten’s grandfather, is no fool. He’s revising the old formation methods after all this time and making the young warriors learn how to use spears. He seems to be thinking about how the cavalry and infantry can work together. It isn’t a bad idea, but it’s too late.”
“Then the village siege…”
I began but realised that my question was meaningless.
“Do you get it? To defend against a siege, you must have reinforcements or have the enemy give up. It’s naïve to think that an army driven by religious fervour would give up so easily, and the ‘Warrior Clan’ doesn’t have any reinforcements anywhere. It’s just a matter of whether they lose quickly or slowly. It’s just the empty strategy of stalling to see how many more moves they can take until they checkmate.”
Something bothered me. What is it? What’s bothering me?
“They’re the ‘Warrior Clan’ that I trained. They may believe their end would be glorious, but I can’t bear to see them perish, so I have a favour to ask of you, Evil God Hirano…”
“… They do.”
“They have reinforcements. The most powerful reinforcements!”
I found the camp straight away.
The Demon army had established a frontline base on the banks of the Great River that flowed calmly between the Demon Realm and the Human World.
I flew straight over the temple without telling Ruro, not expecting to find it this easily.
It was a simple fort with a large fence surrounding the Human World side of the river, backed by a ford that can be waded, but most of the buildings inside were cloth tents and I could only see a few wooden structures. It was more appropriate to call this a large accumulation of supplies rather than a camp built to protect them from the cold. The unorganised supplies piled up everywhere made it look messy. It would be difficult to defend the camp if they were attacked, but Taibanka, who was in charge of this army, must have thought that the advance towards the Human World would fail if this place were to be attacked.
I arrived at the frontline base early in the morning. The morning dew grass was glistening in the sunlight.
Mornings in the Demon Realm which were covered with forests were pleasant but mornings in the prairie were also nice in a different way. I felt the cool, clear air fill my lungs when I took a deep breath. Of course, it was just all in my head. I don’t have any lungs, a heart or any internal organs now that I’m an Evil God.
There was hardly anyone around except for the sentinel soldiers. It was fortunate that I got back here at a time when everyone was still asleep. I had left after saying no to Kwon but now that I think about it, I should have told them my plan a bit before leaving.
I left without saying a single word even to the person who I should have spoken to. I needed to slip into the camp and act as if nothing was happening.
I made myself invisible just in case. My eyes met her as I carefully climbed over the fence so that no one would notice me. Or should I say, I accidentally met her eye?
“Welcome back, Master. You’re back early.”
I kneeled on the spot as Yoshinaga-san greeted me in a sweet voice with a big smile on her face.
“I’m noooot angry at all, you know~?”
She was smiling and she was furious.
She has been like this since high school. It isn’t scary when Yoshinaga-san’s anger shows on her face. I just had to stay silent and wait for the storm to pass, but once she starts getting angry with a smile on her face, then that’s when things go out of control.
This is the second time Yoshinaga-san has been this angry because of me, including in our previous life.
“I am extremely sorry. Please, please forgive me.”
I had honed my corporate slave skills from the time I worked in the black company, and this was my best dogeza, but Yoshinaga-san didn’t understand my sincerity. She was a formidable opponent. I was less nervous when I had to dogeza to the heir of a directly affiliated secondary organisation of the yakuza.
“I said I’m not angry at all. Or did you do something that would make me angry?”
“No, I didn’t. I didn’t do anything at all. Yup, nothing at all.”
I continued my defence while remaining in the perfect dogeza pose. I feel as if our positions of being the main deity and the genus deity are reversed, but I’ll leave that aside for now.
“It’s suspicious that you’re being so serious about this. Were you out with another woman during this critical time?”
“O-out with a woman?”
“Hmm? I was only joking… but you were?”
For a moment, Ruro’s green hair flashed through my mind. Wait, she’s my believer and she’s still a child. She has nothing to do with this. I’m innocent.
“I wasn’t out with a woman or anything. I was just gathering information.”
“Gathering information, were you? I was a little curious to see if Master had finally shown his worthiness since you have graduated from high school and became an adult before you met me again in this world, but… well whatever. You’ll probably avoid my questions and keep bowing on the floor like that.”
I looked up and saw Yoshinaga-san shrug in disappointment. That’s good. She probably wasn’t as angry as I thought she was. When I made her angry in our previous lives, it was a lot worse than this. I should consider myself lucky and thank the heavens and Yoshinaga-san.
“Anyway, I’m glad to see you back safely. I was really worried about you as your genus god.”
“I apologise for worrying you.”
“Enough with the apologies for now. Did you find out anything? It’ll be a little problematic if you didn’t bring back any information even though you made me worry this much.”
Getting a human believer. Defeating goblins. The ‘Church’s’ army approaching. Meeting Rilfis who knew Yoshinaga-san, and the plan to fight the ‘Church’.
There were many things that I had to tell her. Yoshinaga-san suddenly squatted down while I was wondering where to start. She lowered her eyes to be on the same level as me since I was still in a dogeza pose.
“Let’s eat for now. You’ve got a lot of offerings, Master. You probably didn’t eat anything good while you were out.”
She said as she offered her hand, and I gently held it. It was soft. It had been a long time since I held Yoshinaga-san’s hand. I wish I could come up with something witty to say, but I can’t seem to get the words out. I’ve become good at making small sales talk, but have I not improved since that day in high school?
“Let’s have breakfast and I’ll listen to your adventures in the Human World.”