Chapter 05: The Werebear’s Evil God
- That was all the soldiers that had been gathered.
Demons, goblins, kobolds, and werebears. It was rare to see such a mixed group of troops.
Draco was interviewing the soldiers in the plaza of a small village in the forest. He stood on a large rock in the middle of the plaza and gazed down at the soldiers.
The sky was so clear that it made him angry. If the heavens were to take Draco’s feelings into account, then it would be a thunderstorm or at least a torrential downpour.
Draco felt like that they had done a good job gathering so many troops in such a short time, but he also felt like it wasn’t enough.
Information was being gathered.
Dadda, who had gathered the werebears, was using the time until the rest of the werebears reached here to investigate the situation around Pazan. He was making the most of his abilities as a hunter.
“Taibanka, the enemy seem to number more than 2500.”
“That’s a lot. But they’re just a bunch of unorganised mercenaries. Their numbers can backfire on them.”
It was a strong statement, typical of Taibanka.
They were no better than the enemy in terms of leadership.
Aside from the 200 men directly led by Draco, who should be the core of the group, the rest were made up of farmers, villages, peddlers, and werebear hunters; each of whom didn’t have a platoon leader.
La Banan, who had followed Taibanka even though he could have stayed behind, was now organising the groups. He organised them on paper and then put them into groups himself. He seemed to like this kind of work.
The situation was bad, but it wasn’t like they didn’t have a chance.
“How do you think this battle will go, Taibanka?”
“Well, I think we can win if we play our cards right.”
“The enemy has 2500 troops, we have 500. The odds are against us.”
“There will be an opening since the enemy outnumber us. We have no choice but to exploit it. What we need is a surprise strategy. For example, if we divide our 500 forces in half.”
Taibanka had excellent tactics.
Draco especially favoured him out of the 20 captains because he wanted to develop his talent. Draco had no pawns, so he had no choice but to nurture them.
“The goal of this operation is to prevent the opening of the poison storage. We don’t need to face 2500 enemies.”
“Yes, you’re right. And we almost know where the poison storage is.”
The poison storage isn’t along the river. This was clear from Dadda’s investigation.
Draco and Dadda both agreed that the granaries that stood in a hollow a short distance away from Pazan were somehow suspicious. A large gutter was being built in a hurry from here to the Lau River tributary.
“We’ll lure Ri Gudang out and burn down the poison storage. That’s the only way.”
“We don’t know what poisons are contained in there. It might be dangerous to burn it down.”
“The Demon King Palmyra must have taken this into consideration since she placed the poison storage in a secluded hollow. The poison may not reach Pazan, or it might have little effect.”
“You’re right. That woman is careful.”
Palmyra’s face flashed through Draco’s mind.
No, not just her face. Draco even recalled her voice and even the scent of her breath.
“I would cut off that bitch’s head if I could.”
“We don’t have time for that. Plus, she’s a shapeshifter. Even if you were to cut off her head, it would just grow back. We have no choice but to burn her so that not even ashes remain.”
That joke was very out of character for Taibanka.
La Banan smiled wryly as he glared at the notebook. No matter how good a shapeshifter is, they will die if their head is chopped off. Palmyra, however, seemed to be able to survive even if her head was chopped off.
“Now, the only problem remains is who will do what.”
Common sense would dictate that Dadda and the other werebears, who were skilled in covert actions, should be sent to destroy the granaries. While they do that, Draco would use his small numbers to toy with Ri Gudang’s 2500 troops.
But Draco couldn’t pass this order.
“Milord, I hear that you are giving us a place to die, and I thank you for that.”
“Yes, thank you.”
There were about 50 werebears here. Dadda had told Draco that there were many more werebears hiding deep in the forest, but those here were the only ones who could respond to an urgent summons. Every one of them was looking for a place to die. They used to be reserve soldiers who worked at the castle. They were stripped of their status and forced to live as hunters in the forest. It was easy to imagine that they faced unbearable humiliation from this.
“I am sure the Evil God will return to us if we die to absolve ourselves of our sins. So, please disperse us everywhere in this battle.”
“I will do whatever it takes even if I’m left behind or become a sacrificial pawn. I beg you, Milord.”
Destroying the poison storage was also dangerous, but it wasn’t the battlefield that the werebears were looking for.
Draco himself wanted these werebears to help him with his future domination, but as a man, he also understood the anguish they were going through.
Life without pride, without honour and with almost being crushed by past glory must feel like a prison. It was like that for Draco. It was only by God’s grace that Draco was standing here today.
What should he say to these werebears who have been abandoned by God?
Fight and die.
Isn’t that what they wanted to hear?
And Draco could say those words to him.
“Dadda, I have a favour to ask of you.”
“You don’t have to ask any favours, Milord. Just say one word to us. Die, and we will die.”
“No, that’s not what I wanted to ask. I wanted to ask if you could destroy the poison storage?”
Dadda fell silent.
Blood rushed to his face, and he bared his canine teeth. It was the look of a beast without reason.
“Milord. Milord. Milord!”
“I know exactly how you feel. I understand it well, but this is important.”
“With all due respect, but you do not understand anything at all. You do not understand why my 50 brethren have gathered here right now. You don’t understand what coming here after saying our final goodbyes to our families and to life is like!”
It was a heart-breaking scream.
The other werebears and soldiers were getting irritated from this.
“I understand, Dadda. Let us ask the will of God.”
The will of God. Yes, the will of God. They are grieving because God abandoned them. Only God can help them get over that firief. Draco offered Dadda his sword.
“Take this sword and cut that rock.”
“This rock, sir?”
The rock was the one that Draco was standing on.
It was huge. It was large enough to hold an adult, so there was no way Dadda could cut through it with a sword.
“If I may Milord, I cannot cut this rock even though I’m a powerful werebear.”
“I thought not. But if you can, then it will be because of God’s will.”
There was no way he could cut it. The werebears talked among themselves. God’s will was measured. It was divining destiny. Such an opportunity had never presented itself to the werebears after they had been abandoned by God.
Now, he was doing it again.
“I understand. If it is the will of God, then we must obey.”
Dadda’s expression became still. He held his sword with both hands and swung it widely over his head.
He swung the sword down with a loud shout.
The heavens roared at that moment.
The rock cracked.
A bolt of lightning had come out of the blue.
A bolt of lightning struck the rock just as Dadda swung his sword down.
“No way, but…”
Draco spoke gently to the stunned Dadda.
“The Evil God has not abandoned you. The will of God has been shown.”
The werebears cheered and cried.
Draco saw the figure of the Evil God he worshipped in the sky amidst the pleasant noise.
It couldn’t have gone better. The rock I shot at with my <Lightning> broke cleanly.
It wasn’t rehearsed; I just went for it. I was so glad that the timing was right. It would have been a huge embarrassment if I had failed. I did great in tests in my previous life even with endurance tests. I’m really glad it went well.
“Well done, Master.”
Yoshinaga-san wiped my sweat with a towel as she spoke words of encouragement.
I didn’t realise this myself, but I was sweating from tension.
“The way you performed the miracle was excellent. You’re a splendid Evil God.”
“A splendid Evil God, you say?”
I tried my best to shake off the thought of what a ‘splendid Evil God’ may be. I had to do something right now that didn’t include thinking about that.
“See, Draco is looking this way.”
I was sure that our eyes met for a moment. I wonder if he could see me even though I am supposed to be invisible. I slowly went down to Draco’s side. Of course, I remained invisible.
“Draco, can you hear my voice?”
“As I thought, is it you Evil God-sama? Thank you for your <Evil God Lightning>.”
<Evil God Lightning>?
I don’t know when, but the miracle got a name of its own and it was a bit cool…
Speaking of which, I didn’t care about it right now since I have a lot of karma, but I just spent another 50,000 karma. I need to save, save.
“It’s alright. That’s what Evil Gods do.”
“I appreciate you saying that. By the way, I have something I would like to ask you.”
“We’ll stand out here. Shall we move to the forest?”
The forest was noisy with chirps and insect noises. When I appeared, Draco knelt down and bowed to me in a reverent manner.
“First, I am sorry that you have descended again at a time of crisis.”
“It’s alright. This is the relationship between you and I, is it not? I am Draco’s Evil God, and Draco is my follower. It’s alright.”
I was surprised that I was really beginning to believe this and not just acting.
At first, I had just wanted to watch as Draco unified the nations, but that changed as things changed. Was it because I was away for a short while? Or was it because Draco had even built a temple for me?
“What did you want to ask? You seem to be in a lot of danger.”
Draco spoke in a roundabout way, so I summarised everything from my perspective.
The nephew of the Demon King Benan, Ri Gudang, a goblin shaman, is working together with the Demon King in Pazan to pour poison into the river. If that poison is released, then a tribe of mud-slurpers, who are living downstream, may attack Alunaha.
Draco and his men must now attack the poison storage near Pazan to stop them.
I also learnt that those bear-like creatures are a race called werebears.
“Therefore, I have a request to make of you Evil God Hirano-sama.”
Now, what will he ask me to do?
I guess he’ll ask me to burn down the poison storage with my <Evil God Lightning>. Or perhaps, he might ask me to rot the rations of the 2500 army. I have a little karma now, so I can do quite a few things now.
“I want you to find an Evil God.”
“The Evil God of the werebears. Their king neglected to perform his rituals, so the Evil God hid themselves. I know it is not proper of me to ask you this, but this is beyond my power…”
Hey, hey, what are you talking about, you Demon King?
Isn’t this a crisis?
You’re going to let a mere 50 werebears attack the poison storage. And you have to attract 2500 enemies with a mere 500 soldiers. You have to stop the poison from getting into the river, don’t you?
Why are you asking me to look for an Evil God, who may or may not be there, just because of 50 werebears who have just joined your troops? What are you saying?
Do you want to die? You don’t want to be saved? You don’t want to win? Is that what you really want right now?
“Are you alright with that request?”
“I might not find them.”
“Then that is the fate of the werebears.”
“I am your Evil God. Is there nothing else you want in this hour of need?”
“There is not.”
Draco looked up. He looked somewhat cheerful.
“I thought this when I looked at the werebears. I am blessed. My Evil God is watching me.”
Watching. Someone is watching him, is what he means. Is that such a joyous thing? I don’t know since I’ve never been watched by anyone.
“The things in the Demon Realm are for demons to do. There is the will of God. I accept that as fate, but I don’t want to be dependent on it. We do not try what we can do but dream of what we cannot. This is not the path of one who inspires to be a Great Demon King.”
“That is a hard path.”
“I know. But I still do not want to have any regrets.”
His words hurt.
I realise it now. I am an Evil God and Draco is my follower, but Draco has the better end of the stick. I was happy that I am an Evil God and that he is using polite speech towards me.
How embarrassing. Utterly embarrassing. I tried my best to hide my embarrassment that was about to show on my face.
“Draco. I understand your resolve. I will do the best I can to find the werebears Evil God. This is the path you have chosen.”
This is Draco.
I nodded and soared to the sky. Yoshinaga-san followed me.
“Did you hear that Yoshinaga-san?”
“Of course. You’re not looking for a person, you’re looking for an Evil God, right?”
“Yes. Will you have me?”
“Of course, I will.”