I use my power to protect my believers.
The dark clouds enveloping the skies swirled and thunder rumbled. Perhaps they were responding to my stirred-up emotions. The thunderclouds begun to discharge, and a heavy shower descended on the area.
Lightning flashed and the roar of the thunder shook the air.
“Do not doubt god, Warrior Clan. I could blow away this village and its hill with a thunderbolt if I display my power.’
“Then so be it. The Warrior Clan isn’t so cowardly that we would give in when threatened.”
What stubbornness, what courage.
I have never met a person in my previous life who could bluff like this when lightning strikes in front of him. Ruro’s grandfather is a brave warrior. That’s why I want to protect him.
“I know very well that you all are brave. That’s why I have come to rescue you.”
“By sending your demons?”
“That’s right. They are still my believers even if they are demons.”
“No one asked you to do this.”
“Is this because of your pride as warriors? Do you want to perish with that feeling in your heart?”
The other man went silent.
He must choose between protecting his pride and the fate of his clan because he was the chief of the family. I was forcing the old man in front of me to make a cruel choice, but I won’t stray from this. I can’t.
“Choose. Either you all get killed by the ‘church’ as heretics, or you survive with the help of demons.”
There was no honour in either option.
All that remained was dishonour, whether they are killed as heretics or receive help from demons. They whole clan might be erased from existence with the former. Still, they had the right to choose. Dying was also a choice.
“I am here to help you, but I won’t force you to accept my help. It is up to you to reject the hand that is extended to you. Reject my help if that is what you wish.”
I lied. Draco would be troubled if they reject my help. Honestly, I would like to establish a relationship with them even if I have to beg. I would have gotten down on my knees without second thought in my previous life as a businessman. I may seem considerate, but I will be doomed if I can’t get them to agree to my terms. There were also no conditions under which I could make a concession.
I looked at the old man with as if I was wishing for him to accept without actually showing it on my face. The other man opened his mouth, shut it then opened it again.
“――― Let’s hear your terms.”
His hoarse voice had a tint of bitterness in it, but he had been swayed. I had passed the biggest hurdle and made him believe that my offer was worth considering.
“What do you mean by terms?”
“The terms for your help. I don’t believe demons who are no better than starving beasts will help us unconditionally. I’m willing to listen to their unreasonable demands. A thousand young virgins? Gold the size of a person? A hundred years’ supply of food?”
“Salt and horses.”
“Did you say… salt and horses?”
My answer caught him by surprise and the old man was clearly confused.
It seemed that he intended to use the impossible demands as an excuse. I get how he feels. He must have believed that if my condition was slightly unattainable, then he could use it as an excuse and once again weigh the choice between the path of destruction and getting help from demons.
But the scales don’t flip the other way again once they’ve tipped. Humans prioritise survival.
“I did. Of course, we will pay for them, but it would be better for you to negotiate those details directly with the demons.”
I smiled as I said tat. The rain stopped just in time. The clouds slowly parted, and the sun begun to shine through. I could see Taibanka and Lukshuna slowly advance their horses through the light.
It was a blind spot.
The negotiations between Taibanka a demon and Ruro’s grandfather a member of the ‘Warrior Clan’ was difficult for an unexpected reason. Language. There was no one who could understand the language of either side after more than hundreds of years without contact, apart from the ‘River Crossers’.
“Hirano-sama, this is our plan…”
“… <God of Thunder>, what did the demon say?”
I have apparently been hearing words as if I was reading thoughts that were being uttered since I became an evil god, but neither Taibanka nor Ruro’s grandfather have this ability, so I had no choice but to interpret for them since I could understand both languages.
“So, Taibanka the demon was saying that we should leave the village and fight in the field.”
“We can’t win against the ‘church’ in a field battle!”
“Hirano-sama, what has this old man been saying…?”
I looked pleadingly at Yoshinaga-san who was sitting in the treetop without manifesting and looking at me and grinning. Of course, she ignored me. I turned away angrily. There was no way she would help me since she was against gods showing themselves to non-gods.
She longer intends to interfere with me helping my believers, but I guess she still can’t bend her own policies, but if this situation continues then I would have to be the interpreter for the whole time, or we won’t be able to do joint strategies.
I looked next to me and saw Lukshuna and Ruro writing something on the ground.
“What are you doing, Lukshuna?”
“Ah, Hirano-sama. This kid Ruro is teaching me her language. I learnt a little from a River Crosser before as well.”
“I would doodle, point to it and ask, ‘What’s this’, and then learn the word they say, and rinse and repeat.”
“Oh, that’s a clever way to learn.”
“Kwon taught me this method. He has a lot of experience being a former River Crosser after all.”
“Oh yeah, why didn’t we bring Kwon with us?”
“We tried to ask him, but he couldn’t make it in time.”
Lukshuna scratched his nose in apology. This man didn’t cower even when he was speaking to an evil god. This kind of man may be suited for diplomacy with organisations that we haven’t negotiated with.
“We’re having Kwon gather some River Crossers that he knows. I heard they’re scattered everywhere, but I asked him to gather 50-100 of them.”
“What are you doing to do with them?”
“That will happen after we drive out the ‘Church’. We’ll form troops to carry large quantities of horses and salt for the first few times, but we can’t keep doing that. It would be a nuisance if we can’t communicate with them in their own language when we start establishing sale channels and conduct continuous business. He’s collecting the River Crossers for that.”
“I see. Then how do you plan on negotiating right now? Did you not consider that you won’t be able to negotiate properly without Kwon?”
“We have you with us, Evil God Hirano-sama. I believed your miracles could help us with negotiations. I’m grateful that you’re here.”
I patted Lukshuna on the shoulder as he smiled wryly. Lukshuna laughed and also patted me on the shoulder. We were almost like friends instead of a god and his believer.
Ruro stared at us dumbfoundedly probably because the relationship between a god and his believer was so ‘ordinary’. I was tempted to explain that Lukshuna was special, but this kind of clear faith was also pleasant. Like the ‘Church’s’ beliefs, people don’t think about what happens after death but believe in us because it is beneficial for them in the here and now. That way of thinking was also acceptable.
We all agreed on a tentative plan after nearly an hour of discussions.
We will abandon this hill and the entire army will march out to catch the enemy by surprise. We will create a standoff with the enemy somehow. The ‘Church’s’ army moved quickly. We had already finished preparing for battle, so the troops will move out immediately.
“Then, Hirano-sama, please take care of the rest.”
Lukshuna waved his hand in a carefree manner. He remained with the ‘Warrior Clan’. He was an easy-to-understand hostage. The fact that he was on friendly terms with me, the evil god, was a deciding factor on him staying behind.
On the other hand, the hostage sent from the humans was Ruro.
Ruro was the chief’s substitute in times like these since she was the village chief’s granddaughter.
“It’s finally time.”
Yoshinaga-san smiled at my side.
The makeshift allied forces that relied on a god to even communicate with each other. The enemy probably had better technology than us. We were fighting in a disadvantageous situation, but strangely, I didn’t feel like we would lose.
Yoshinaga-san was here and so was I. God Okri was lagging, but I won’t let him this time!
“What is it, Master?”
“… Let’s win.”
The ‘Warrior Clans’ descended the hill one after the other. The battle was about to begin.
It wasn’t his intention to besiege the castle city.
The siege with 2,000 men that he had trained first wasn’t supposed to take long. Ri Gudang’s winning strategy was to ravage the north of Alunaha with bandits and lure Draco’s army out of the city, then he would capture the city once it only had its citizens left.
But things went amiss.
The gates of Alunaha were tightly closed. Did this mean that Draco’s army had abandoned the villages to the north? Staying in the city instead of making the stupid move of dispersing the troops was the correct move to make. Draco probably had troops lying in wait somewhere in the vicinity. Those troops would disrupt Ri Gudang’s forces from the inside and outside. It was the perfect move to make.
“That <Dethroned Crown Prince>…”
Cartier nodded in response to Ri Gudang’s disappointed voice.
This meant that Draco allowed using people as sacrifices. It wasn’t something that Ri Gudang, who had forced Draco to make the sacrifice, should comment on, but this wasn’t a choice that a king should make.
“Have I misjudged him? Does he not have the qualities of a king?”
“I didn’t believe it was necessary to test him. I believed that he was someone who was born with the qualities of a king. That’s why I made my plan based on that assumption.”
“It looks like you’ve overestimated him.”
Ri Gudang took a deep breath and then exhaled. He was surprised at how irritated he was. The enemy’s abilities weren’t as great as he believed them to be. That should be cause for rejoice.
He had no choice but to use underhanded methods such as using bandits because he was dealing with Draco who possessed the qualities of a king. He could just attack Alunaha if his opponent is just an ordinary general.
It would be challenging but possible to capture a city without reinforcements if he included the 4,000 bandits and attacked it with 6,000.
“He’s the person who killed my uncle. He may have just seemed greater than he really is.”
“People say that small objects close to lights have large shadows. This means that you’re actually stronger than he is, Ri Gudang-sama.”
“Huh, Cartier. Are you flattering me?”
“I am not. If we make Alunaha fall, then you will be crowned the <Barbarian King> both in name and reality. Dismissing praise as flattery is an act of a petty person.”
He tried not to think about that before the battle, but if he were to kill Draco here then his merits would be so great that there would be no objections to him calling himself <Barbarian King>. The Big Four all had the ‘same’ statues, and even the <Northern Overlord>, the leader of the Big Four, wouldn’t be able to order him around if he becomes the <Barbarian King>. The Big Four can only be appointed or dismissed by the Great Demon King. It was the highest position for those who do not have the blood of the Great Demon King.
The dignified image of the <White-Haired Princess> flashed through Ri Gudang’s mind.
He wanted that woman.