< Evade the Hero and Flee! 189 #22. Well, this is merely the beginning (4) >
#4 Their circumstance: A certain hero’s circumstance
I was sure of it now. This world? It’s gone bonkers mad.
“You’re number 128.”
I somehow managed to stay sane even in this bonkers mad world. While pretending to be unaffected by what was happening, I continued to hand out numbered tickets.
“Ah, ahhh… I’m 128…?” A resident of this mad world made a disappointed face after receiving the ticket. “Can’t I get an earlier spot, sir?”
The resident of the mad world looked at me with a truly desperate, pleading expression, but I replied with a stern, no-nonsense voice. “No, you can’t.”
Looking at that despairing face as if the whole world had collapsed, I thought that I might end up making the exact same face, too.
“Crazy. Insane. Every single one of them.”
“Ng, I have to agree with you.” Ria passing by me nodded at my quiet little muttering, her face devoid of any expression.
“Did the world go insane? Or is it us that lost our minds?” I spat that out in a distant, hollow voice.
Ria replied to me in a sharp yell filled to the brim with certainty. “How can you ask me something that obvious! Of course it’s the world that’s gone bloody insane!”
“But there are simply too many nutcases here for that. When everyone’s gone insane, the insanity becomes the norm, and the not-insane people end up becoming the outliers, you know.”
“W-well, I don’t have any clever comebacks if you put it like that, but… Even so…” Ria raised her head and dazedly stared at the skies above for a little while. Soon, though, she seemed to have made up her mind as she looked back at me. “If this kind of thing is now considered normal in this world, then I’ll gladly live on like a nutcase.”
I have to say, the way she resolved herself so heroically was very cool.
“Get back to work!”
Too bad, her cool appearance vanished in an instant with just one yell from the metal bat passing by us.
“What choice do I have? I don’t want to get hit, you know.”
My heart began racing just then… In fact, I thought you were really cool. No, make that very, exceedingly cool!
“Well, I get where you’re coming from.”
Still, I had to admit that Ria had a point there, considering who we were dealing with here.
“Can I make our escape, though?”
While rubbing the horn attached to my head, I began thinking about my chances of escaping from here.
It seemed impossible, though.
“The demon continent… And the one I need to escape from is the demon king…”
Now that was something completely unexpected.
The Demon God’s Blessing that not even the powerful demon races could endure and lose their lives… was granted to a mere human being! Not only that, said human being could now bestow a version of the Demon God’s Blessing, too!
“That can’t be right, though. That’s probably just the metal bat inflicting pain, isn’t it?”
In the human continent, the Demon God was viewed as the evilest deity in existence. The only one worse than her was the Evil God. However, according to all the demon race folks we met until now, the Demon God was worshipped as the greatest, most loving deity in existence.
That’s why… As long as the Demon God was not the Evil God or my instructor in disguise, she’d never let something that horrible happen to her believers!
“It’s just a coincidence… A disgustingly convenient coincidence at that…”
That’s right, it was just a sheer coincidence that the metal bat happened to be similar to that thing called the Demon God’s Blessing or favour or whatever it was called.
My instructor was a human being at the end of the day. There was just no way that he held such an in-depth pool of knowledge on the Demon God.
“However, we’re talking about my instructor here, and that’s a big problem, no?”
Although it sounded far-fetched, my instructor could have known everything about the Demon God’s Blessing already and made plans accordingly.
Even I knew that was logically impossible, but… Could anything that happened around my instructor be called ‘logical’?
First of all, he had been raising a Succubus in the territory of humans. Sure, she was half-human, but still. And when the Imperial Princess was hot on his heels trying to capture him, he unhesitantly chose to cross over to the demon continent.
No, hang on a sec. The instructor didn’t just cross over, he even became the bloody demon king!
“What if he really ends up conquering the demon continent…?”
I might have no choice but to live out the rest of my days in the demon continent in that case.
Just as I began shuddering at the chill crawling down my spine, my ears picked up on yet another horrifying scream ringing throughout the temple.
“Yup, this world has gone insane.”
…And I was back to square one.
I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to get hit by that metal bat. Why would you be willing to receive a numbered ticket to reserve your spot in the queue just for a beatdown? But, thanks to this arrangement, I…
I sneakily surveyed my surroundings.
I was currently working by the entrance to the Demon God’s temple. The temple’s priests were here, but my instructor was nowhere to be seen. But that was obvious, wasn’t it?
Those screams were produced only when the instructor was beating people up with his metal bat, after all.
In other words… my instructor wasn’t here. And the metal bat wasn’t here, either.
“So… Now is the best time ever?”
Indeed, this seemed like the most opportune time to run away without a second thought. The issue with escaping was with the metal bat showing up out of nowhere to beat the living snot out of me, though…
However, those screams were still coming from so far away. As long as those screams didn’t end, it indicated that the metal bat was waaaay over there.
In that case… what should I do? Obviously, it’s to put to practice what my instructor had taught me and consider every possible scenario!
First of all, how long has it been since Ria and the metal bat passed by me? It couldn’t have been five minutes yet.
What about the last numbered ticket that I handed out? It was number 128, wasn’t it?
How many people got smacked around by the metal bat during the morning session? If I remember correctly, it’s about twenty people!
How long did the metal bat take to beat them up? It depended on individual cases, but the shortest was around five minutes while the longest was over ten. At least, that’s how I remembered.
Which meant that the average length of the beatings for a single individual was around seven minutes or so.
And when combining all these data…? Even if I excluded the current victim, which was the first person in the queue, beating up ten people should get me a window of at least one hour long.
But we had more than a hundred people waiting in line for their chance to get beaten up, so it’s not gonna end any time soon due to the lack of volunteers!
“This… is a golden opportunity.”
I used only my eyes to scan my surroundings.
Ten armed individuals were standing around as the security guards of the temple. Meanwhile, around twenty-five priests were diligently cleaning the temple here and there. Aaaand, that was it!
This is… perfect!
“So, there’s the change.”
I paid the utmost attention to the scream.
It took nine minutes for the screaming voice to change! If the next dude endures for a minimum of five minutes, then I should be able to escape from this city, no problem!
Okay, now. Take it easy. Do it like nothing’s out of the ordinary.
I began leisurely stepping away from the area where the numbered tickets were issued. I was taught that only a rank amateur would start running in a situation like this.
The most important thing for me right now was looking relaxed.
By acting ‘leisurely’ as if nothing was wrong, I’d be able to fool the eyes of the surroundings.
“Oh, the subordinate of the great and noble demon king, can I help you with something?”
“Oh, not really… I was thinking of going to the carriage to get something I need since I was already on my way to a bathroom.”
There was no need to panic just because a mere priest decided to speak to me. After all, I was a subordinate of the ruler of this demon continent, the demon king personally selected by one and only Demon God!
I replied while looking down on him slightly. The priest bowed lightly before backing away.
The highest position in the Demon God’s temple was ‘archbishop’. However, my instructor was the Demon God’s proxy, which gave him the necessary authority to appoint cardinals on an equal footing as the archbishop.
In other words, Ria and I were destined to be cardinals in the eyes of these people! Oops, I mean, these demon race folks!
As such, this level of haughtiness was perfectly acceptable.
And so, I slowly made my way to where the carriage was, looking utterly relaxed and unconcerned. Once I reached a spot well out of view, though, I quickly hid myself.
“Hah-ah… Great. I’m halfway there now.”
As long as I escape from the temple, then I’d have done my job. In the contest of movement speed, my instructor would never be able to catch up to me. And as long as I successfully cross the border, it’d be game over.
My instructor escaped to the demon continent in order to evade the Imperial Princess’s dogged pursuit. So, he wouldn’t try to cross over to the human continent trying to capture me.
No, hang on. He’s now the demon king, so he can’t leave the demon continent even if he wanted to!
And so, I took a deep breath and was about to use the stealth technique I learned from the evil organisation, but then…
“Where are you going, sir?”
Belegrea showed up out of nowhere, unsheathed her sword, and pointed the blade at me.
“I asked you where you are going, sir.”
Dark-red aura began oozing out of her blade. Although there was no killing intent, I could still sense her strong will to cut me down if I make any sudden moves now.
“I need to briefly pop out and…”
“So, you were running away.”
I didn’t even have enough time to make excuses. That’s because Belegrea swung her hands, causing the crimson magical powers to soar through the heavens!
“What is the meaning of this, Miss Belegrea?”
“I made a promise to Marcus.”
We were supposed to be comrades of soul who shuddered together at the terror of the metal bat. Sure, I was a human while Belegrea was a demon folk but I still believed that we shared something special capable of transcending the racial lines. So, why was she doing this!
“The moment you escape will be the moment the demon race will enter a war against the human race. That’s why.”
“Hang on a minute?! Why does my escape suddenly have such weighty importance?!”
“Marcus told me that you will understand when I say these two words: Imperial Princess.”
It was right at that moment that a certain scenario quickly painted itself in my head. Me, escaping to the human continent. The Imperial Princess successfully captures me.
The Imperial Princess is asking me. She asks, where is my instructor?
And I reply to her, he’s become the king of the demon continent.
It might sound like a dog’s drunken howling, but the Imperial Princess knows my instructor well. She believes my explanation, and then…
‘Wipe them out.’
…Along with those chilling words, her army starts marching into the demon continent.
“W-what the hell?!”
Even a child from a rural village would not think that this series of events was even remotely possible. But those who know about my instructor and the Imperial Princess would come up with roughly the same conclusion as me.
I could easily picture the war between humans and demons now.
“E-even if that’s the case, I can’t afford to stay in this place!”
I yanked out my holy sword and cut down Belegrea’s sword. The longer I stay here, the sooner the metal bat would arrive.
What I require now is the resolve to go all the way!
I didn’t want to do it, but if she tried to block my path, then I… I shall cut her down mercilessly, even if she was the comrade of soul that felt the same pain as me.
“Even if you’re the daughter of the previous demon king, do you think you can defeat me?”
I defeated an elder dragon all by myself. There was no way I’d lose to a demon race girl who seemed to be about the same age as me.
Against my expectation, though, blood began travelling down my arm. That’s because Belegrea oh-so easily defended against my sword aura and even counter-attacked me!
“H-how can this be?!”
When I panicked at how easily she fended off my attack, Belegrea smirked and explained what just happened. “I’ve heard all about how you hunted down an elder dragon. But you didn’t do that through your own strength. You didn’t hunt an elder dragon with only your skills, but as the hero chosen by a god.”
“What do you mean by that?”
I began sensing that something was off here. It was hard not to when my holy sword currently couldn’t even output half of its normal power. No, make that a quarter of its normal power level!
“Regular demon race people don’t know this, but as the demon king’s daughter, I was privy to the history of our people. Among the knowledge I acquired was the information pertaining to the ones chosen by the gods, the heroes. Heroes capable of borrowing a portion of their gods’ powers! The existence called heroes borrow the powers of their gods and create miracles. However, there’s a restriction placed on the powers of the gods.”
“A restriction, you say?”
“That’s correct. And that is… the gods can only exert their influence in the continents they rule over! My father uncovered this fact and chose the path of peace even after uniting the demon race!”
Her series of super-quick attacks began forcing me back.
This was bad. If this kept up, then never mind getting out of here, I might get captured by Belegrea.
“What are you talking about!”
That’s why I must weaken her concentration. My instructor told me that I should keep talking to my opponent when stuck in a situation like this.
“It is as I said! Even if we invade the human continent, we’ll end up suffering a grave defeat at the hands of the heroes borrowing the powers of their gods!”
“How can this be!”
I pretended to get shocked while holding back my strength more and more.
Belegrea must’ve thought that she had the upper hand against me after witnessing my continued retreat. As proof, she became even more talkative than before. “I know I can’t become the next demon king through my own power. I don’t have the necessary confidence to defeat Aggreahrt! However, Marcus promised me. If I help him, he swore to bring peace back to the demon continent and immediately step away from everything!”
“Do you really believe that!”
“Marcus was personally selected by the Demon God herself. And he swore upon the name of our great and noble Demon God!”
“But he’s a human!”
“Indeed, yet he was still chosen by the Demon God!”
Wowsers, she’s been brainwashed pretty thoroughly!
Belegrea didn’t doubt my instructor one bit. She condensed the sword light and, almost at the same time, began stabbing forward in a straight line. Not stopping there, she even released the condensed sword light to cause a powerful explosion.
The explosive thrust forced me back well over twenty steps. Belegrea confirmed the hit, then got ready for another powerful thrust.
But that was the opening I’d been waiting for.
I was pretending to be losing to her while preparing myself. And as Belegrea performed her sword thrust once more, I grinned softly at her.
From the moment I began bleeding during our first exchange, I have been pouring all my attention at activating a certain magic spell.
The spell was called ‘Blood’. It allowed the caster to freely manipulate blood. In the world of magic, blood was one of the mediums that symbolised you, the spellcaster!
Even without any prior preparations, this medium was more than enough to let a single individual, namely me, teleport a short distance!
Before Belegrea could attack, my spell activated first.
We moved quite a distance away from the temple during our battle. By immediately escaping as soon as teleportation is complete, neither Belegrea nor anyone else from the temple would be able to chase after me.
This was one of the survival skills I learned from the evil organisation! Always have a hidden ace up your sleeve! For this very purpose, I’ve made sure to never use magic after becoming the hero!
Not even Hill and Selena suspected that I was an expert in magic!
While I was busy patting myself on the back, my eyes caught the sight of silvery something making a beeline towards me from afar.
Is that Belegrea’s explosive thrust? Could it be that my teleportation spell failed to activate?
No, that… wasn’t it. I knew the true identity of that silvery something.
That was not Belegrea’s sword, but…!
“You think you can run!”
That was the only word I could cry out after spotting a small fist surrounded by dancing silver hair flying straight at my face.
But that’s because all I could say afterwards was just a pain-filled scream of pure agony!