< Evade the Hero and Flee! 205 #24. Why Does it Have To Be Me? (2) >
#2 Their circumstance: Certain demons’ circumstances
I looked up at the sky above. It was dyed in a golden hue. However, that light wasn’t cast by the setting sun. Oh no. It was an artificial light created by a living entity.
That’s the simple description, but, well…
“…This is hell.”
Yup, it’s basically ‘Hell’ here.
Sir Swinn was yelling loudly at us. “It’s only this much, yet you dare call yourselves demon kings! You noobs!”
The deluge of sword aura dyed the sky gold while raining down on the demon king candidates. A single hit in the vitals would be instant death. Unfortunately, the one firing all those golden rays didn’t seem to care.
“I don’t wanna die!”
“No need to panic! I won’t kill you! Yes, you won’t die! I don’t have time to train your replacements, after all! That’s why I won’t kill you!”
“Ah, aaaah… Dear Demon God… Why do you put us through this sort of trial…”
“What do you mean, why! It’s to create demon kings capable of carrying out Demon God’s will, obviously!”
“Aaaaaahk! Nooo! I give up! Becoming a demon king is a step too far for me!”
“It’s too late to give up now! Be the next demon king!”
Goosebumps broke out all over me while watching that. Those dodging the attack were too focused on their survival to do anything, yet the one attacking had enough leeway to retort to the desperate screams… Even though he was practically fighting 100 people at the same time!
“That… That is the true power of Sir Swinn? The instructor chosen by the Demon God… And the subordinate of the great Demon God’s servant, Lord Marx?”
For the first time in my life, I felt deep in my soul the true meaning of ‘difference in status’. But, what shocked me even more was…
A wolf-race demon male screamed and fell as the sword light pierced his thigh. But then…!
“Aha, a new patient!”
This whole place resembled a war zone, yet a frail-looking little girl who totally didn’t belong here quickly walked up to the wolf-race victim. And then…
“Aru’s hands are healing hands!”
Her small, cute hands rolled into fists, then she began punching the wolf-race dude’s thigh where blood was pouring out like a fountain.
The poor guy screamed until his throat went hoarse, probably because his wound was attacked.
“It’ll all get better with some spit and polish~!” The little girl didn’t stop her punching, however.
“That’s not spit, you knoooooow!”
Amid the golden bombardment, the humming of the little girl and the screaming of the wolf-race dude rang out tragically.
“Alright, treatment, finished~!” The silver-haired girl declared as the wolf-race stopped screaming, then dragged the poor guy out of the battlefield. Their destination was a pile of ‘corpses’ by the side.
“D-don’t come here… Nooo, don’t come near me!”
“Hiiiieeeek! I’m sorry! I’m sorry that I got injured! Forgive me for being so useless!”
I guess I should correct myself, then. That was not really a pile of corpses. Nope, it was just a gathering of victims that tasted the little girl’s beating. Except that it was apt to call them corpses as they were crawling weakly on the ground, their arms and legs limp and not functioning as intended.
“Here’s your friend! Catch!”
Just how did that small body of hers produce such physical strength? The little girl picked up the wolf-race dude with utter ease, even though he had a much larger body than her, then lightly tossed him into the pile. She then cheerily headed to the area of the golden bombardment with a happy grin on her face.
“That… That is the physical form of the great, noble Demon God’s blessing?!”
I was so shocked. That pile of ‘corpses’ was filled with demons that should’ve been literal corpses. The sword light pierced their arms, legs, and even their abdomens in some serious cases. If not treated on time… No, never mind that, without a highly-skilled healer on standby, all of those poor folks would’ve been having a nice little chat with the Demon God by now.
But that silver-haired girl’s punching displayed a truly absurd level of healing power that worked very quickly. The funny thing was, when the ‘patients’ were interviewed later…
<I finally found out how unforgiving the Demon God could be.>
<I learned why so many idiots finally saw the errors of their ways and turned over a new leaf.>
<Those who claim to hear the false god’s voice should receive the Demon God’s blessing. That’ll cultivate faith in their hearts. Faith that they should never, ever try to get cute with the Demon God, that is!>
<If that creature wasn’t the Demon God’s blessing but the Human God’s blessing instead, then I might have changed my religious affiliation on the spot!>
Rather than praising the Demon God, they all seemed to be scared of the Demon God’s blessing.
“Kuhahaha! Only half of you managed to survive this level of attack?! I received far worse training than this at the age of ten from Lord Marx!”
A voice filled with madness was accompanied by a series of explosions next. At this stage, it looked like not just the sky but the entire world was being dyed in the golden hue. Even though I was so far away, I still felt this way, so imagine what it would be like for those actually trying to survive the golden onslaught!
As the explosions rang out…!
“It’s party time~!!” The silver-haired girl cried out in elation and began rampaging around the battlefield.
It was all so shocking to me. Just what could possibly be the great, noble Demon God’s intention to put those poor folks through Hell like that? That’s what I used to think.
But my thoughts had to change really quickly – while watching the demon king candidates going through the same training the very next day.
“H-how can this be…!” I couldn’t close my slack jaw. That’s because I realised something while watching the demon king candidates. “Their… their statuses… are no longer the same!”
Indeed, they were no longer the same people. Only yesterday, all they could do was get hit by the bombardment but today? They were dodging the attacks splendidly!
“You scum instructor!”
“Kuwaaahk?! No, not yet! I can’t fall just yet!”
No, wait! The candidates even went beyond that and reached the realm of actually attacking the instructor selected by the Demon God herself, Sir Swinn!
“To think that you’d bare your fangs at me so soon! Quite useful tools, aren’t you!”
“Shut up! You don’t even know what it’s like to receive the Demon God’s blessing and the associated pain!”
“You never even experienced that hell before!”
“It hurt so much! I… I hate it. I haaaate it!”
What Lord Swinn said led to the candidates yelling and screaming and howling while pouncing on him. Some of them even began emitting dense killing intent.
“Hah…” Lord Swinn looked down on the candidates, and then… “I see. I was wrong.”
…He readily admitted to his sin.
“To think that I thought these weaklings were ready! It seems I’m still too naïve!”
And that sin was evaluating his opponents too generously!
“W-what is going on?!” I gasped out, unable to breathe at the incredible quantity of killing intent gushing out from Lord Swinn so far away.
This killing intent was so intense that several demon king candidates too close to Lord Swinn inadvertently dropped their weapons.
“Did you ask me if I know the pain? Did you really ask me if I have experienced Hell before?!”
The sound of Lord Swinn gritting his teeth reached this far where I was. He was genuinely furious right now.
“You only experienced it for a day, so how dare you…!”
Lord Swinn raised his hand towards the sky, causing the vibrations in the atmosphere to suddenly stop. And the complexion of every candidate became paler than ever before.
The calm before the storm!
That’s what I thought, and the others probably thought the same as me. This silence had to be the one you’d encounter right before a fierce storm.
Everyone must’ve felt it!
“It was only one day. One freaking day!”
Lord Swinn repeated ‘One day’ over and over again. Every time he did that, lights flashed ominously in the air to engrave runes in the sky.
I muttered in stupefaction. “…Magic circles?”
Just how quickly your brain must calculate magic formulas in order to create that many magic circles so fast?! Even before I could answer myself…!
One layer after another?!
More magic circles began overlapping on top of one another repeatedly. The demon king candidates on the ground below began shuddering in pure terror.
“I’ve experienced that for so many years, yet you dare to spew such ludicrous statements after tasting ‘it’ for only a day!”
His roar served as the trigger. Candidates began kneeling one by one.
Several magic circles overlapped each other to amplify their powers. And the amplified magic circles were performing truly, absurdly powerful gravity magic!
The overwhelming assault crushed everyone flat to the ground.
“You lousy fools, kneel before me!” Lord Swinn the instructor triumphantly roared while glaring at the candidates. “This… is the difference in our true levels!”
He even made a truly evil grin as he continued to roar. “If you wish to reach my level, then, at the very least…!”
The demon king candidates couldn’t even breathe properly, yet a certain existence seemed totally unaffected as she oh-so leisurely strolled around within that crushing gravity field.
“N-no, please no…!”
“I, I was wrong…! Please, please! Not that…!”
“Oh… Dear Demon God…!”
The existence that ignored the power of gravity magic and leisurely walked up to the candidates was…!
“Uheeheehee~! There are so many here today, too~.”
…None other than the silver-haired girl, currently humming joyously to herself while muttering, “Has anyone passed out yet~?”
“P-please, not the Demon God’s blessing…!”
“F-forgive me, please! I was wrong! Yes, I was terribly wrong!”
The Demon God’s blessing that turned these poor candidates into half-dead corpses yesterday was roaming around the field, waiting for someone to collapse from the magic’s effects.
Lord Swinn growled loudly. “Come talk to me again after getting beaten by the metal… I mean, the Demon God’s blessing for at least 100 times!”
With a snap of his fingers, screams exploded from the gravity field. Soon, the number of candidates passing out began shooting up, and…
“Uheeheeheet~! Blacking out from the pain, eh! You’re making this older sister so sad~!”
Wretched screams I heard yesterday began again.
…And so, another day passed by like that.
It had only been three days. No, to be more precise, it had been two days since the training began in earnest. But the demon king candidates before my eyes had transformed so much that I barely recognised them.
It wasn’t as simple as their status levelling up, though.
If the first day’s training levelled up the skills of these future demon kings, then yesterday’s training had utterly transformed their very essence into something else entirely.
“Rearguards, unleash the magic spells!”
Commanders had appeared in their midst. Well, that wasn’t all that surprising to see, but…
“Rearguards! Firing magic!”
But, it was surprising to see the others following the issued commands without complaints.
Demons were different from humans. They might be lumped together as one race, but different tribes had completely different appearances and characteristics. Some were physically strong, while some others were born with excellent magic-related abilities.
That wasn’t all, however!
Some demons with strong physiques might be born with great strength, while some others might possess high mobility. It was the same story for magical powers, too. Some were born with huge quantities of magic energy, while some others instinctively knew how to cast magic efficiently.
Unsurprisingly, everyone was very proud of their traits and their tribes. Such pride also resulted in them developing strong tendencies of looking down on other tribes that were different from them.
As such, the demon race’s army was made up of individual divisions consisting mostly of the demons from the same tribe. Some divisions might contain tribes of similar traits, but that only happened under unavoidable circumstances.
But then… An army consisting of demons from various tribes working under a single commander rarely happened unless the one giving that order was a demon king!
However, the situation right now was different.
“Hold on for a little longer!”
“Ten seconds left until the activation of the anti-Great Demon Sword defence magic spell!”
“Stay strong for a little bit longer!”
It wasn’t as if someone overflowing with charisma had become their leader, nor did a powerful individual make them submit through violence. No, these candidates were actively working together to find the best course of action. And they were diligently sticking to what they thought would help them survive.
This unity that transcends the deep-rooted tribalism…! And at the centre of it all, is…!
“I won’t get beaten up today!”
“Yes, we will all survive and return home alive!”
“We don’t need the blessing anymore, oh dear Demon God!”
…None other than the silver-haired girl, AKA the Demon God’s blessing!
“So, what do you think?”
As I began shuddering from tip to toe at this sight, someone walked up to me from behind and asked that question.
I looked back and gasped. “L-Lord Marx…!”
“Ahaha. It’s fine to drop the title and just call me Marx. All demons are servants of our great, noble Demon God. We’re all equal under her gaze. It’s just that we’re entrusted with roles that suit us the best.”
The one smiling and greeting me was the demon continent’s top ruler. The noble revolutionary who brought this wonderful revolution to the demon continent as per the Demon God’s will…!
Indeed, he was Demon King Marx, called the top demon king by every other demon king out there!
“Sire, I… I’m unsure about what to write in my article, sire. This has to be the first time in my career as a reporter.”
And Lord Marx was also responsible for summoning me here, a reporter, to write an article about the newest policy of the demon continent, the One Million Demon King project.
Marx asked, “Is there something you don’t understand?”
“Yes, sire. Just why are they so motivated? Honestly, I… I can’t understand it, sire.”
“Aha… Is that so?” When I confessed to my dilemma, Demon King Marx smiled warmly and offered a solution. “That’s quite easy to resolve, actually.”
He snapped his fingers, prompting the silver-haired girl to suddenly pop her head out from behind him. A sinister grin was attached to her lips.
“Allow me to help you understand, mister reporter.”
And just like what she did to the demon king candidates for the last two days…
“Time to understand. Aru Punch☆~!”
…The silver-haired girl began beating me up, too!