< Evade the Hero and Flee! 186 #22. Well, this is merely the beginning (1) >

 

I dazedly stared at the road ahead while listening to the horses’ hooves clattering on the ground below.
The border region was still in the grips of the wintry weather – similar to the human continent in that regard – but the deeper we went in, the warmer it got.
Well, it’s true that some time had passed, and Spring was steadily creeping upon us, so that might have played a part in that.
“Hey, is this the right place?”
“Yes, it is.”
Belegrea poked her head out from the front part of the carriage and replied to my question.
Since the weather had become warmer lately, the window panels set up to block out the biting winds had been reverted back to how they used to be. Doing so had the additional benefit of not needing to raise my voice when trying to hold a conversation.
Well, Belegrea did try to escape through the open window this one time. But she got caught three seconds later and experienced three straight days of pure pain. After that… no one among our group decided it was worth trying their luck escaping from me.
“Which way should we take, then?”
“Sticking to the road we’re on will take us to our destination, sir. The road network itself… no, the whole city itself was constructed with the temple of our Lord Demon God in mind. As such, everything is organised the same in the demon continent.”
“As expected of the top deity of the demon race.”
Besides the Creator God that created everything in the world, including the God of Beginning, the Demon God should be the most worshipped deity on the land. Oops, I should also exclude the Goddess of Love and Devotion reputedly responsible for sealing away an evil god.
People in the human continent usually believed in different deities. According to Belegrea’s explanation, though, things were a bit different with the demons. They believed in various gods like humans but also worshipped the Demon God separately.
You could say that different religious orders in the human continent were on an equal footing, but in the demon continent, the relationship was more like in a pyramid shape. That was why a fixed amount from the donations various religious orders received would be sent over to the Demon God’s temple, according to her explanation. Of course, the Demon God’s temple received separate donations on top, too!
I muttered quietly. “Now that’s a wonderful system, alright.”
“Do you think so, sir?”
This little girl, seriously now? You’re aiming to become the next demon king, yet you can’t even recognise such a wonderful system?!
“Indeed. It’s probably the best system out there if you wish to embezzle a ton of money. As long as the god isn’t watching, of course.”
“T-the Demon God’s temple is a sacred location dedicated solely for the Demon God’s glory, sir! Who would dare to embezzle in that case?!”
“That’s why I added that ‘as long as the god isn’t watching’ clause, you know.”
“Even if Lord Demon God isn’t watching over us constantly, no demon out there will commit such a dastardly act, sir!”
No demon, eh? My foot.
A huge religious organisation boasted wealth that easily rivalled global corporations. While the devotees were voluntarily cooking inexpensive soups to distribute among the poor and downtrodden, the so-called pastors drove around in imported luxury cars and gorged themselves on expensive steaks. Such examples were a common occurrence.
Of course, there were quite a few small, newly established churches willing to borrow heavily to spread their gospel. Even so, the thing was…
“It’s inevitable that a corrupted person will appear once the organisation grows in scale.”
There was no power – authority – in a small-scale operation. An operation with no fame and no recognition… Such an organisation wouldn’t have much authority to speak of unless it was a shadowy organisation wishing to stay anonymous. Since there was no authority, there was no reason for corruption to bloom.
Belegrea asked back. “What do you mean by that?”
“Acquiring the authority of a minor organisation won’t do you much good. Sure, you’ll find one or two folks trying to act like tyrants in places like that, but idiots like them are small fries. Not big enough dreamers, if you will.”
Obviously, you couldn’t just assume that no one would be corrupt. Didn’t the Great Sage JiXXbo say this before? If five people gather, one of them is bound to be trash! [1]
In other words, one among the group of five could potentially turn out to be a traitor!
“It’s easy to deal with small-time idiots like that. However, the story will be different with big fish.”
“What do you mean by that, sir?”
“You’ll find big fish in big ponds. You can still find idiots drooling after their own benefits in small ponds where there’s not much to go around, so it’s inevitable that the corrupted will pop up in an ocean full of juicy benefits.”
“Does that mean… becoming the top of the food chain in such an abundant ocean makes you incredibly powerful?”
“I guess you do understand a bit, then? That’s right. A punk who fought and clawed his way to the top now finds himself with abundant prey, so it’ll be difficult to deal with someone like that.”
“I think I understand now. But what does that have to do with the system of the Demon God’s temple, sir?”
“Oh, it has a lot to do with it. You said that a fixed amount of donations from every temple in the demon continent is paid as tribute to the Demon God’s temple, right?”
“Yes.”
“You don’t even have to lift a finger, yet money just keeps rolling in. And since it’s the temple serving the Demon God, the top deity around here, people also donate generously to it. So, then. You just sit there doing nothing, but money keeps rolling in and in…”
“But… is that a problem?”
“I mean, think about it. You don’t do anything, yet your position means your wealth keeps piling up. Isn’t that super wonderful?”
Right, that was almost on the level of a dream job.
Become the head priest of the temple, and money automatically piles up in your bank account! Wealth, power, and even prestige – here was a position that helped you get all three!
I knew it! For pirates, it’s the Pirate King. And for the temples in the demon world, it has to be the Demon God’s temple!
“But sir, what’s the issue with wealth ‘rolling in’ without doing anything?”
“Since the god is watching, you can’t carelessly spend it willy-nilly. No, hang on a minute. It doesn’t really matter even if the god is watching. As long as the god watching you from above isn’t planning to punish you, you’ll use that wealth and political power to fulfil your ambitions.”
“There’s no way a devoted follower of Demon God would do such a thing!”
The way Belegrea yelled that out while trembling in indignation managed to capture my heart.
Good. Very good!
-Aha, so we finally have ourselves a new mommy for my little sis?
-Shut up. That’s not what I meant.
Belegrea’s figure began trembling even more noticeably now. A second ago, it was anger motivating her, but now? It’s fear.
“Heeeeiiiik…!”
That’s because of a certain face that peeked out a small window in the front of the carriage, which also happened to be the same opening Belegrea was using. And that face belonged to the metal bat.
“Hey, you. Go back inside. You might kill her at this rate.”
“Huuuiiing…!”
The metal bat let out a bizarre snort and went back inside.
I could hear her complaints in my head, but if I let her be, Belegrea might really die. So, I roundly ignored all those voices.
Hmm… Even if the metal bat couldn’t physically harm anyone, maybe three days of sustained beatdown wasn’t such a good idea for one’s mental health.
“You alright there?”
“N-no… A-ah, t-that’s not what I… Y-yes, I’m perfectly fine, sir!”
Yup, she’s not fine at all.
“Oh, well. We’ll brush that aside for now. You should go back inside and get some rest.”
“Y-yes…”
Belegrea’s face slowly retreated back inside.
There were still a few other things I wanted to ask her, but much of my curiosity had been sated by our little chat, so I should let her be for now.
“To the demon race, the position of the Demon God is almost absolute, is that it?”
I could understand where they were coming from.
Consider the tale of Zeus from the Greek pantheon. We all know him as the father of Greek gods and a perverted old geezer because he only appeared in tales from the ancient world. But, if he really existed and went around chucking thunderbolts out of anger while a beauty was stuck to his arms, then well, he’d be seen as the object of terror and worship.
Gods existed in this world. And they exercised their authorities.
Lying to such gods was a veeeery foolish thing, but…!
“Apparently, I’m excluded from that, right?”
I suffered various inconveniences after the Order of Nature and its hero got involved in my life. However, I got to learn a few crucial things from that experience.
For one, gods could not touch me. Not just no-touch, but they couldn’t even spy on me, too.
“If I abandon the hero somewhere appropriate, then it’d be perfect. But he still has his uses, doesn’t he?”
Indeed. The hero was a powerful combatant capable of killing an elder dragon all by himself. According to Belegrea, the dude throwing a massive tantrum to become the new demon king was named Aggreahrt, and he was the strongest fighter in the entire demon world.
That evaluation came from Belegrea, who was no immature little daughter of the previous demon king. Having seen her get beaten up by the metal bat, I could definitely tell that she was actually a swordmaster.
The vivid sword light she produced this one time when she freaked out still sent shivers down my spine whenever I remembered it.
Yet someone like her lost overwhelmingly against Aggreahrt. When the time comes to fight him, our hero will become a very useful card up our sleeve.
Well, the best-case scenario for me would be Aggreahrt and the hero killing each other during the battle, so… Ah, wait. Since that fool’s my disciple and all, I’d rather not see the hero perish that way.
“Keuh~euh… What a sincere and kind teacher I am.”
If he’s laid out in the hospital for the rest of his life, then I swear to find and send the most suitable people to look after you, oh sir hero. Besides, Belegrea seemed to be of an upstanding disposition, so she wouldn’t treat the hero poorly when he’s partly responsible for making her the next demon king.
If you’re a hero, then it’s a harem all the way! And the harem combination of heroes and demon race girls was one of the oldest traditional couplings in existence, so even our hero should be satisfied!
“And for that bright future, I should hurry up and finish setting up the safety mechanism.”
Belegrea was trustworthy.
Starting from the evil organisation, the imperial court, and the academy…
I lived most of my life in environments where I had to keep my wits about me at all times. That’s why I was confident about my people discerning skills not losing out to the best of the best.
However, no one could predict the future. Didn’t my ancestors say something about a trusted axe falling on your foot instead? Just because she’s trustworthy, that didn’t mean I should let my guard down!
That’s why I must complete a perfect safety measure that even Belegrea couldn’t do anything about!
“I welcome you to the Demon God’s temple, our fellow devotees.”
And I’ll be doing that right here, in the Demon God’s temple!

 

#1 Their circumstance: A certain archbishop’s circumstance

 

The number of gods overseeing this world was quite a lot. Even so, there could be only one greatest deity among them all, excluding the Creator God, of course. And that was the Demon God!
One of the creators, so noble that we mere mortals dare not mention their names, created the Demon God first while giving birth to this world! Or so I’ve been told!
The ones living on the human side of the continent argued that their god was created first, but I knew the truth. I knew that the Demon God was the first to see the world.
“And I must spread this truth even further afield, yet…”
The demon race already believed in this truth, but the foolish people in the human continent refused to see the light.
“What a bunch of idiots.”
This was why I, the holder of the highest office of the Demon God Order, decided to back Aggreahrt on a personal level. Well, once the demon race conquers the human continent, then we’d get to spread the true gospel of the Demon God to the uneducated fools in that part of the world.
“However, our great and noble Demon God also loves creatures like them…”
The benevolence of the Demon God, who loved those that didn’t even believe in him! To protect the Demon God’s vast ocean-like will, I was also doing my best to protect the sacred temple of our god.
“Lord Archbishop, sir! Lady Belegrea has reached our Demon God’s temple!”
“I see. In the end, she has chosen to come here, then?”
While I was praying to the Demon God for the peace and prosperity of the demon race, one of the bishops rushed into my office to inform me of Belegrea’s arrival.
“Are the preparations complete?”
“Yes, your grace.”
“Then, proceed as planned.”
“Understood!”
I couldn’t help but tut in dissatisfaction while watching the bishop rush outside the office.
All demon race stepping foot in our temple were servants of the Demon God regardless of their status. Yet, to think that he was losing his mind over the daughter of the previous demon king!
“Tch! To think that someone so lacking in faith is a bishop! Oh, my dear Demon God, I pray that you send us the next demon king to guide us, your foolish servants.”
At the current point in time, Aggreahrt’s faction was gaining influence within the demon race. In the beginning, there had been a lot of dissenting voices within his camp. However, Aggreahrt wasn’t so slow-witted that he’d miss the opening presented by the moderates swaying precariously after they lost their focal point called Belegrea.
“All of it is meaningless tomfoolery, though.”
Grabbing power like that would come to a crashing halt once the Demon God chooses the next demon king. To think that some people would go so far to obtain a throne that’s similar to bubbles waiting to be popped…
“I guess it can’t be helped?”
That was the allure of political power, or so I thought. Besides, the Demon King directly choosing the next demon king was an incredibly rare occurrence, anyway.
“Lord Archbishop.”
“Are the preparations complete already?”
“Yes, your grace.”
“I see. Regardless of what, she’s the daughter of the previous demon king responsible for peacefully ruling over the demon race. Being there to witness her final moments should be my duty, as well.”
I was well aware of Belegrea’s circumstances.
She probably came here after failing to escape Aggreahrt’s net closing in. With the last ray of hope clutched to her heart, no less. Even though a part of her brain was saying that going through with this ceremony might kill her, she chose to struggle until the end for all those people still believing in her!
“Oh, our merciful Demon God, I pray that the girl will safely return to your embrace.”
I offered my final prayer for her then stood up from the chair.
It was not possible for me to pray for her survival today. The Demon God’s Blessing was something bestowed only by the god himself. A mere servant like me could not butt in the Demon God’s decision-making process, after all!
“Let’s go.”
“Yes, your grace.”
This bishop coming to guide me was more devoted to the faith than the other bishop from earlier. He didn’t say a word and resolutely upheld the weighty atmosphere.
I followed him and reached the biggest, most sacred location in the Demon God’s temple.
“Oh, dear Demon God. Your faithful servant is about to carry out your sacred will.”
Before entering through the door, I offered one last prayer to the Demon God. I was aware that the ceremony about to take place would fail for sure. Even so, we were about to undergo a sacred ceremony meant to confirm the Demon God’s will, so I must devote myself fully to the process.
“…Mm?”
However, when I opened the door and stepped inside, I was not greeted by the figure of Belegrea but some random male human-like demon instead.
“And who are you supposed to be, fella?”
“The one to receive the Demon God’s will, of course!”
“Not Belegrea, but you?”
“That’s correct.”
I couldn’t help but frown ever so slightly just then.
She dares to use such a cheap trick?! The daughter of the previous demon king was someone even I have acknowledged, but to think that she’d send a substitute in fear of her own life!
“Fella, you might die here.”
“If that’s the will of the Demon God, then so be it.”
“Is that so?”
I spotted the composed expression on the human-like demon and couldn’t say anything else. According to the rules set by the Demon God, this ceremony to receive the Demon God’s Blessing could be undertaken by anyone.
“…We shall now commence with the ceremony!”
All the bishops in the temple, including me, the archbishop, began surrounding the random demon man.
“Oh, our Lord Demon God, bestow upon us your will!”
“Our Lord Demon God, bestow upon us your will!”
I started off the chant, prompting the other bishops to call out to the Demon God in one mind and in one voice. And our ardent prayer was heard by our lord, Demon God.
The sacred darkness signifying the Demon God had directly impaled the human-like demon right before us!
“Ah, aaaah…”
And so, yet another demon race’s child has returned to the embrace of the Demon God… huh?!
“Is it over?”
“HUH?!”
However, the human-like demon before us began looking around nonplussed as if nothing had happened to him.
“C-could it be?!”
“Yup, it is.”
And that human-like demon, no, the one who inherited the Demon God’s noble will, grinned widely and declared loudly for all to hear. “From this moment on, I’m the new demon king.”
And so, this was the sixth time a demon king was chosen through the Demon God’s Blessing.

 

[1]: I’m not sure what this is supposed to reference. A quick google search got me Jirobo, an antagonist from Naruto.

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