Draco appointed Taibanka as the general of the expeditionary force to the human world.
The force consisted of 2,000 soldiers and an additional 100 reinforcements will come from their allies, the Gonane. Also, the transport unit, which can’t fight, will have 6,000 people.
The soldiers were well-trained by Kwon. Their movements weren’t bad. This expedition will also test their abilities.
Perhaps Draco should go. He had this thought in mind but there were some things in Alunaha that only he could do. He decided to leave everything to Taibanka, who had followed him since he was defeated by the <Northern Overlord> and escaped to the south.
Occupying land wasn’t the goal.
There was no point in establishing a base in the human world and Draco didn’t have the strength to protect one. It would be a burden for them to take a stronghold they couldn’t keep. He had explained this clearly to Taibanka.
He wanted Taibanka to grow into a general who could make decisions like that. He was impatient and felt that what he lacked most at the moment wasn’t soldiers nor money but generals and officials.
The purpose of this expedition was to inspire awe among the people.
He left the method of how to do this up to Taibanka and his vice generals, Lukshuna and Kwon, who will be accompanying him. If he wanted to rule there later then they should decide the method carefully, but there won’t be a problem if he just wanted to ‘control’.
To rule required mercy and to control required fear. They could also seek friendship and trade with the humans, but it was unlikely that they would be able to easily establish amity between the demons and humans.
He saw off the soldiers from the walls of Alunaha. He wondered what Evil God Hirano’s opinion on the departing soldiers was. Draco heard that Evil God Hirano would follow the army into the human world.
“Draco, don’t overdo it.”
“I should be the one who should be saying that, Hirano-sama.”
The Evil God’s goodbye was quite simple.
He hadn’t explained anything in detail but perhaps the gods also have territorial disputes. This would make sense since God Eulenspiegel had asked Evil God Hirano for help.
Did Hirano not want Draco to be involved in this fight?
He looked at Hirano’s side profile. He had a good look in his eyes as if he had just broken through a barrier.
“I will walk with you,” this Evil God had said.
This was just like a legend.
But this was no legend. To be helped by a god isn’t ‘walking together’. Draco had no intention of walking down that path.
That wasn’t what ‘walking together’ meant.
Helping and being helped.
Draco didn’t believe that helping a god was a disrespectful act.
It would be much more disrespectful to evil gods if believers only worshipped them and pointed at them.
It was a mouldy form of faith like the ones the gods who are enshrined in the mausoleum of the Great Demon King House receive but he didn’t want to have a one-sided relationship with Evil God Hirano where he only took and never gave. It was this desire that pushed him to go on an expedition in the human world.
“No demon has crossed the river from the South Barbarian King’s fief in the south in 100 years.”
Hirano nodded at Draco’s words.
“The humans will be caught off guard, is what you’re saying?”
“It will be a surprise attack. Humans have a shorter life expectancy than most demons. It is impossible for them to prepare for 100 years for an opponent who is not coming.”
However, the situation was different in the north. The <Northern Overlord> often invaded the human world even before he assumed his current position.
“… I don’t think you should underestimate humans too much.”
“I am not, but it is also harmful to overestimate them.”
“If you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.”
“That is a good phrase. Is that your oracle, Hirano-sama?”
“… No, they are the words of a war hero.”
“I would like to learn more of his words.”
“Perhaps when the opportunity arises.”
The rear of the small packs left the castle gate.
They will continue westward from here, weaving through the forest then crossing the river. For most, it was an excursion into uncharted territory.
“Draco. I will go see the human world. I must know what it is like first.”
“And then you will start taking action?”
Draco only fought within the confines of the demon realm. He knew best that he wouldn’t win against the <Northern Overlord> like this.
If he couldn’t win with the power he had, then he had to change the type of power he had.
He believed that the human world had what he needed for this.
“It’s about time for me to leave too.”
“It may be arrogant for me to say this to you, O’ Evil God, but I wish you great fortune.”
“You too, Draco.”
Hirano dissolved into the thin air. Draco wasn’t certain if Hirano had finished what he had wanted to say.
He really is an evil god.
Draco began feeling that Hirano wasn’t an evil god as they exchanged friendly conversation. They had a mysterious relationship.
Draco continued looking in the direction of the forest even after the army had disappeared to the west.
The large forest was wide and deep.
He could see the demons going about their lives. Suddenly a strong gust blew as he watched smoke rising from a nearby village. It was a rare occurrence. It was a northern wind that rarely blew in this season.
“Oh, Draco-sama. You were here?”
“Lu Gun? How unusual. Don’t you have a military drill at this time?”
The <Half-Faced> Lu Gun, who had betrayed Alunaha’s Demon King Benan and pledged his allegiance to Draco, wasn’t participating in this expedition.
“I have something I would like to show you in private, Draco-sama.”
“What is it?”
Lu Gun took out a letter written on leather.
The solid wax seal had a mark that could only be used by high-ranking Goblins.
“I’m going to read it.”
Draco opened the seal and followed the letters with his eyes.
He couldn’t comprehend the contents of the letter.
He read over it three times and finally understood what it said. No, he had already understood it the first time, but the sheer absurdity of the contents had prevented him from understanding it.
“… You haven’t told anyone about this, have you Lu Gun?”
“Of course not, but there are indications that the same letter has been delivered to the main Goblins in Alunaha. Some people have been acting strange since morning, so I sent someone out to investigate this.”
“Even La Banan?”
Draco looked at the letter once again. The letter said, ‘The last will and testament of the previous Great Demon King has been found’.
The previous Great Demon King’s legacy was issued out by imperial edict before he passed away. There was no way a new one could be found after all this time.
But his so-called last will and testament was circulating. There should be a lot of items on this will if small items are also mentioned in it. Something Draco had in his possession was also an item from the previous Great Demon King.
This was a counterfeit imperial edict, in other words, it was fake.
There are those who do things that require an imperial edict to do.
Most of the fake edicts were probably made by the <Northern Overlord> Zardish. There weren’t many people who had the power to issue a fake edict. This, too, must be his doing.
He could have issued an edict as the <Crown Prince> or as the <Northern Overlord> and yet he had done so under Draco’s predecessor’s name. Draco was furious.
What was written in the letter was also problematic.
“It says, ‘I will appoint Benan, the chief of the goblins, as the <South Barbarian King> of the south’.”
“But Benan is dead.”
“His nephew, Ri Gudang has succeeded him as the Demon King.”
“But if it’s like that, then our own La Banan should inherit that position.”
“The <South Barbarian King> is the person in charge of the 24 Demon Kings in the south. I apologise for speaking out of turn, but they aren’t someone who will be your vassal.”
This edict was ineffective. The discovery of this edict didn’t mean that Benan could be the <South Barbarian King> before his death, much less La Banan or Ri Gudang. This fake edict was made with that in mind.
The problem lies in what would happen in the future.
Perhaps, Ri Gudang will use this fake edict to pretend to be the <South Barbarian King>.
When that happens, how will the small and powerful tribes, who have so far decided on a wait-and-see stance, react? Would they follow Draco or Ri Gudang? Some may decide to remain opportunistic, but the south will be stormy soon.
Sweat naturally oozed out of the hand that was holding the leather letter.
Taibanka and Lukshuna weren’t here. He must get through this predicament with all the strength he had left.
But for some reason, the thought of recalling the expeditionary force didn’t occur to him.
I moved a short distance away from the expeditionary force.
Eulenspiegel was whistling.
The unpaved road was unsuitable for a march and the rank walked slowly.
I called him and the Boy God smiled at me. The gloomy expression that he had on his face when I had first brought him to Alunaha was an act to draw sympathy. He currently had a charming smile on his face but there was something familiar about his expression.
“Thank you very much for preparing such a big army, Hirano-san.”
“I didn’t send them out. This is Draco’s army.”
“Draco is Hirano-san’s believer. So, you could just call them your army. It’s amazing that you could prepare such a large army in such a short amount of time.”
I was a bit angry that he hadn’t used any suffix in Draco’s name.
Of course, he is a God, so he didn’t need to use suffixes in people’s name, but I felt uncomfortable as if something important had been trampled over.
“Anyway, Eulenspiegel. We’re going to invade Walbolt with this army.”
“Till is fine. Till Eulenspiegel is my full name.”
“Alright, Till. What is the point of invading Walbolt with this army?”
I wanted to ask him this while Yoshinaga-san wasn’t around because she wouldn’t be able to remain rational while talking to him and would butt in.
“It’s ‘divine punishment’.”
“’Divine punishment’, you say? Do you really think the invasion of a demon army is ‘divine punishment’?”
“Yes, it is the most severe punishment one can receive.”
Eulenspiegel smiled without worry as he said this.
“I must make them realise what will happen when they believe in a ‘Church’. I must remind them whose believers they are.”
“I think the people have the right to choose.”
“… I disagree. Privilege and obligation are inseparable. Who has allowed them to live peacefully until now? To forget that then switch to a new faith is unacceptable.”
“People will die.”
“It’s a necessary evil. The demon army will be an army of justice for the humans in Walbolt. It is the tragedy that awaits them if they abandon their ancient beliefs. It will remind them of that.”
“There is no such thing as a just army.”
“To the Walbolt Gods, it is definitely an army of justice.”