“We came over to you since we believe you might have ‘forgotten’ something.”
What exactly am I forgetting? I concentrated and tried to think through my memories. I’m good at remembering people. Otherwise, I would never have been able to work as a sales representative for a black company. But I have no recollection of ever being involved with these people no matter how much I squeeze my memories. Judging from the circumstances, they must be the subordinates of the One and Only God. That would make the most sense.
So, does the other side want to negotiate? Or are they just simply here to threaten me?
I know that a plan to revitalize this region with karma isn’t convenient for the One and Only God.
The gods who appoint others to do their work in the lower world have already lost their faith. Eulenspiegel, for example, even dashed out punishments and lost more of his believers.
If the ‘Church’ has been growing in power by exploiting this, then I should start by doing the same in places where they haven’t reached yet. They don’t have the entire Human World under their control even if they have a vast sphere of influence. At the very least, I have the chance to get Ruro’s village and the other surrounding villages to believe in me.
Did the One and Only God send these guys because they’re wary of me? Stop anyone that may use similar methods to them before they can start. It’s an effective method.
The two remained silent. Neither opened their mouths to speak. It was a standstill. I was glaring at the two men in black.
I won’t negotiate with them no matter what they offer. My methods aren’t wrong since they want to get me out of the way. At the very least, it means that they didn’t want me to do one of the things that I’m planning to do.
I will go through with everything even if they don’t want me to do it. This was the ironclad rule of fighting that Yoshinaga-san had drilled into me.
“You won’t understand everything if you don’t talk, Hirano-san.”
The midget raised his voice after growing impatient. The midget, who was trying to intimidate me by turning half his body towards me, was softly restrained by the tall and lanky man.
I see, these guys are pros at negotiating. One of them plays bad cop while the other plays good cop. The person most likely to win the other person over is the nice one. It was a good way to create ‘fake trust’ and get the best possible terms.
This duo must have been working together for a long time, judging from the way their breathing matched up.
Then, I felt strangely uncomfortable.
Perhaps I was wrong about them.
I know people who like to use this kind of method. More accurately, ‘I knew them very well’. If my predictions are correct, then I can negotiate with these guys.
I must negotiate with them.
“… So, who are you people who know my name?”
Both men responded to my words by reaching into their pocket, but strangely enough, I didn’t feel scared. I recognise their fluid movements.
“We apologise for not introducing ourselves earlier. We are from the ‘always smiling and low interest rates’ Limbo Finance.”
The tall and skinny guy didn’t take out a knife or a gun from his pocket, but a ‘business card’.
“Hirano Bonta-san. We are here to talk to you about your repayment plan.”
“I wouldn’t have put my guard up so much if you had just said that from the start.”
I smiled at the two debt collectors and sat down on a rock.
I invited them to sit but they probably couldn’t sit down in their suits. The midget offered me a cigarette, but I politely turned it down. The only bad habit he had was eating raw food and he had never touched a cigarette even before his death.
“500 million karma. This is your total debt.”
I nodded as the tall and lanky guy looked at his notebook for confirmation.
These two weren’t debt collectors from ‘this world’. They were debt collectors from ‘the netherworld’.
I certainly borrowed that amount when I, a black company salaryman, died to become an Evil God. It was a large amount of karma. I believe this firmly now that I know the value of karma.
I borrowed 500 million karma to become an Evil God. I need to pay that off and then earn another 60 million to go to paradise. I have to earn a lot of karma while living as an Evil God. Even hell depends on money. I heard that the fee for crossing the Sanzu River is six sen coins, but 60 million is quite an inflated amount.
By the way, the karma that I must have earned in my previous life as Hirano Bonta basically amounted to nothing after I took care of the paperwork. What the heck was I living for as Hirano Bonta?
“You are free to perform ‘bold miracles’ as you like, but well, don’t you think you should pay off what you owe first before performing miracles?”
Only the tall and lanky guy was talking, the midget just stared at me silently.
“Thank you for your polite advice.”
He was right. It was normal to pay back the money that you borrowed. The debtor who borrowed money is naturally in a weaker position than the creditor, but if the debtor grovels more than necessary then they will be at the mercy of the creditors. The creditor has reason for lending out money and the debtor has their reasons for borrowing money.
“The interest rate is 0.1% paid over 100 years. Well, it’s a ridiculous term, Hirano-san. We aren’t a charity after all.”
“So, the payments will be paid in lump every year?”
They were lending the karma at an extremely low interest rate that would cause any normal bank to faint, was of course because of the borrower’s special circumstances. Unlike humans whose life expectancy is only 100 years at best, these people are Gods. They can make a profit if the payments go over 1000 or 2000 years.
Not enough to live on but not enough to die from. It was a good business model.
“We paid you a visit because some time has passed since you’ve been transmigrated here and you should be used to living here now, and what good timing we have.”
“… You would sound more believable if you said that you came here because you knew that I have some extra income.”
I retorted and the tall and lanky guy smiled broadly. He had a reptilian smile.
I’m certain. These guys have a grasp of my financial situation. They’re going through so much trouble even though they’re from a different world.
“I see. Are you the kind of person who is used to borrowing money?”
“I’ll leave that to your imagination.”
I won’t deny it. My previous life was full of ups and downs.
I had a lot of run-ins with debt collectors because of the debt my parents owed and because of the debt my company owed. The obvious difference was that now I had a certain amount of karma that I could pay back.
The tall and lanky guy lit his cigarette.
The purple smoke from the cigarette slowly trailed across the frozen prairie.
“Hirano Bonta-san, I won’t say anything bad. You should pay back your debt even if it’s just a tiny amount.”
“That’s a bit sudden. I’ve become an ordinary god as well, so I don’t think you have to worry about future repayments.”
“Ah, we are not worried about how you will pay us. We hold you in high regard. We came to visit you because of this.”
If I make an early repayment, then I can reduce the total amount of principal interest. The debtors can get their funds back early. It looked like a win-win situation, but it wasn’t in my case.
I have about 17 million karma right now, but this was just extra karma I had made from betting Go and from the martial arts business. There wasn’t any guarantee that I would continue earning karma in the future.
So, my karma shouldn’t be used to pay off my debt, but to start the business of fertilizing this area, starting from Ruro’s village. By enriching the land, I will gain the faith of the people, raise my divine status and stabilise my regular income. Repaying my debt would become easier as people’s faith in me grows. That’s what I plan to do.
“I’m relieved to hear that. That makes it easier for me to say what I want to say,” I started.
“What do you want to say?”
“I’d like you to lend me more karma.”
The midget looked surprised for a moment before looking at the tall and lanky guy. The tall and lanky guy looked as if he had swallowed something sour.
It was hard for a god with the Upper First Rank, nearly the lowest god rank in this world, to repay back 500 million karma, but he wanted to borrow even more money. It was crazy.
“… I would like to hear you out, but unfortunately, it is impossible for you to get a new loan with your current income.”
“So, you won’t do a review? If you need me to write a proposal, then I can write one up.”
“Ah, no we don’t need something like that. It would be a waste of time for the both of us even if you prepare a neat document since you are only an Upper First Rank.”
“That only includes my income as an evil god. I can get the karma back quickly if I can gather faith in this region.”
I can’t back down here.
It was easier to increase 100 to 101 than to increase 10 to 11. It was better to have as much money on hand as possible. After all, I was going against a powerful rival, the ‘Church’ and acquiring some believers.
It would be dreadful if I were to run out of karma in the middle of my battle with the ‘Church’.
“Gods who borrow karma from us always say, ‘I will definitely repay the karma’. We aren’t that close with gods to agree to lend them more without question. We are a business that deals in small profits and quick returns.”
“It’s useless to argue. We at Limbo Finance are unable to provide you with a loan under the current circumstances. This is our company’s ‘established policy’.”
I felt uncomfortable with the tall and lanky guy’s strong tone. Something was weird.
It was logical not to lend to a god who only earns income from having an Upper First Rank. I completely agree that lending money to someone who doesn’t have the ability to pay is something only an idiot would do, but why do I feel that something is strange?
“… ‘Established policy’?”
The tall and lanky guy smiled vaguely at my mutter.
His eyes were telling me to guess. There is an internal policy that they can’t tell clients about. Given the circumstances, this probably wasn’t something to do with the Evil God Hirano, but a much bigger problem.
What am I trying to do now?
‘Enriching the land’ isn’t a problem. The tall and lanky guy hasn’t said anything negative about this. So, the only thing I can think of is―――…
“Ah, so you believe that I can’t win against the One and Only God when it comes to acquiring believers?”
It was understandable why they were reluctant to lend to me.
They can’t lend to me if they know that it wouldn’t be profitable to them.
No matter how fertile the land is, I can’t repay my debt if I have no believers. It may be their ‘established policy’ not to provide loans to those who oppose the ‘One and Only God. They have this policy because the One and Only God was that strong.
“… I would like to make a comment on this matter. It is possible for us to change our policy if there is a dramatic change.”
“So, Limbo Finance is ‘neutral’?”
“I believe more sentimental is a better word than neutral. After all, our transactions will decrease if we stick to the ‘established policy’.”
With those words, the tall and lanky guy stubbed his cigarette in his portable ashtray. He was surprisingly proper.
“I believed we would just greet you, but our greeting has turned into a long conversation. We shall take our leave for now.”
“See you later.”
“Yes, see you later, Hirano Bonta-san. I mean, Evil God Hirano-san.”
The two figures faded away like cigarette smoke and time began moving again.
I thought to myself as I watched Ruro walk away as if nothing had happened, I want to save this girl.
But I couldn’t save her just by making this land fertile. There has to be a way to save her.
My thoughts were all over the place. Then, I suddenly thought of Draco. I wonder how that Demon King would overcome this predicament.
Draco read through the report while sipping a cup of hot water.
His bedroom was bright even though it was late at night. The candles are good.
Candles made from beeswax, not mixtures of once melted candles that have been hardened again, are beginning to be distributed in Alunaha. The lizardman Shulicia had made it possible for Alunaha to buy the candles at a reasonable price in bulk from neighbouring villages. The items that had been brought at a dirt-cheap price from the scattered Evil Gods were starting to become proper products.
Draco left the decision making of such items to Shulicia. La Banan’s absence had placed a huge burden on Draco. La Banan had handled most of the smaller tasks, so Draco’s workload had increased. He scoffed at himself while working under the candlelight.
The problems are piling up.
Ri Gudang, who had shown his willingness to take the <Barbarian King’s> title, was gradually becoming cleverer. Draco couldn’t let his guard down since there were signs that Ri Gudang had formed an alliance with Palmyra, the <Succubus Princess>. This greatly restricted the distribution of goods from the north of Alunaha. Luxuries can be dealt with, but salt was a real cause of concern for Alunaha. He also had to think of other ways to preserve the increasing number of pigs other than just pickling it in salt.
He also had to take care of the shortage of troops. The troops under Draco’s command are getting stronger as they continue to fight the bandits under Ri Gudang’s control, but they lack numbers. It was probably impossible for him to rely on those who were conscripted. He couldn’t hope for any drastic changes in their numbers since the maximum number of conscripted soldiers was determined by the population of the villages.
Draco will eventually create an expedition to the north. It would be difficult to maintain the morale during a prolonged military campaign with soldiers who are inseparably tied to their home villages through agriculture. He also worried that losing troops in battle would directly lead to a decline in productivity.
He had many things to consider.
He stopped moving the hands that were flipping through the reports.
The paper looked exactly the same but there was one that had a different feel to it. It was a piece of parchment that the dark elf, Chunon used for communication. It appeared to be a boring financial report, but he noticed a few mistakes on closer inspection. The letter was written in code.
“… I see, so that’s how it is.”
The report was about Lana.
Draco hasn’t touched his draconis mistress yet. It wasn’t just because he was busy. Something was wrong. The beauty kept giving off that kind of attitude.
She had boldly asked him to take her in as his mistress, but whenever he asked her about her identity, she would evade the question. He also had to be wary of her since he was told that she had the <Dragon Lord’s> blood running through her veins.
He was convinced that something was going on, but it was a poor plan to throw her out. That was why he was waiting for information from Chunon.
Draco told the guards waiting outside his room to summon Lana to his room. Although his room was used for work, it was also a bedroom. There was nothing strange about calling a mistress here.
It wasn’t long after that Lana crept into the room veiled in a sweet scent. The only accessory she wore were ear earrings. This made her stand out.
She must have been getting dressed up every night even on nights when she hadn’t heard from him. Her appearance was fitting to share a bed with a noble even though she had been summoned on short notice.
And most importantly, she was beautiful.
Her face, slightly flushed, stirred Draco, but his purpose wasn’t to sleep with her tonight.
“I have come, as summoned.”