< Evade the Hero and Flee! 203 #23. Policy Meant for My Dream! (10) >

 

What a miss! That’s just too bad!
If I only knew what might happen, I’d have recorded this with a magic tool or something! I should’ve played the BGM of ‘Tonight’s MC is [Pick Me]’ to this lovely 101 Dalmatians… Oops, I mean, 101 demon kings! [1]
“I guess it can’t be helped, then?”
Even I never expected the first round of the recruitment drive to end with exactly 101 candidates, after all!
“Next time, I might as well select males and females separately, and then make the girls sing, ‘pick me, pick me’ while the boys will go, ‘me, just me’.”
The metal bat suddenly butted in. “Master? I have no idea what nonsense you’re spewing now, but I can already tell this one thing. Whatever it is you’re saying, it… has freak-all to do with demon kings. Am I right?”
Tch! Pretty sharp, ain’t ya! No, hang on a minute! Even I don’t trust myself, so who would believe me in that case!
If one wishes to become a successful liar, one must fool themselves first. I can’t even fool myself, so how can I successfully scam other people?!
“Nope. Those things are vital to our causes. Building solidarity by making the candidates cry out, ‘Pick me, pick me!’ A non-living creature like you can never understand the importance of doing this!”
I confidently declared in order to fool the metal bat, but…
“I definitely don’t wanna know, though?”
…The metal bat curtly retorted straight to my face.
“E-excuse me…” Belegrea, our co-judge, addressed us with an awkward expression on her face as the metal bat and I began glaring and growling at each other. “It’s time to start the judging process.”
The metal bat and I went ‘hmpf!’ and turned our heads away to glare at the scene before us instead.
Which happened to be… The super-massive audition that will change the history of the demon continent!
Kaku-San-Sei, Million Demon Continent! [2]
Subtitle: Demon King Produce 101!
“Let us begin.” Belegrea got up from her chair and strode forward.
She followed my command and passionately memorised the speeches I had written. And now, she was capable of saying stuff that I’d like to say, greatly decreasing my workload in the process! As expected of the first demon king I had personally selected!
“Alice picked her, not you, master! You don’t even have the qualifications to cast a vote!”
“Hah! My daughter’s wish is mine, and my wish is my daughter’s. As such, whenever my daughter does something, it’s the same as me doing something.”
“Apologise! You better apologise to my little sis working hard today, too!”
“Uh-huh! I’m also participating in a project that will change the fate of the demon continent! Can’t you see that I’m also working as hard as my daughter for the future of the demon continent!”
For clarification, my daughter was currently searching for an environment suitable for raising even ‘better’ chickens. She said she’d also investigate other farm products along the way.
My daughter was the only minister in charge of two departments, and her jobs made her super-busy. So busy that the time we spent together was gradually decreasing!
“I must hurry up with the creation of new demon kings and enjoy my retirement with my daughter. Why am I still working this hard at my age, anyway?”
“Master, from where I’m at, it looks like Belle is doing all the heavy lifting for you, though?”
“Oii, at least try to say her full name. It sounds like Bellend when you say it.”
The metal bat pointed at Belegrea passionately explaining to the crowd the importance of the new project and how much Demon God was looking forward to the results.
“Master, you come up with all these things, but she’s the one dealing with them all.”
“I made her into the demon king. It’s only expected that she can do this much.”
“I think that girl wants to kick her past self for becoming the demon king, though.”
Someone occupying a high position is bound to get inundated with work. That’s just how it is. Of course, the one right at the top issuing all the commands is excluded from that logic.
You could say that this would be a beneficial experience for her. If she works hard and learns everything she can in her current mid-level position, then well, she might grow into a leader capable of ruling the entire demon continent with just a few words. After I pass on from this world, of course.
“But master, it doesn’t look like you’ll die?”
“Uh-huh! I’m still a human being. Humans die when they grow old.”
There’s no orderly queue on who will die first, but there was a limit to how long you can hold on to your life.
The longest-living swordmaster lived well past a hundred years old and reached a similar realm to other non-human races. However, I didn’t have a drop of magical power in me, so I would probably die in a similar time frame as regular civilians.
Of course, I have been diligently exercising until now, so maybe I might get to remain healthy for a little longer.
“Making my daughter sad is no good, though…”
Sure, she had the cat and Kkokko by her side, but the wound she received early in her life meant she always craved other people’s affection. I couldn’t help but worry if my death would make her cry her eyes out before collapsing from exhaustion.
The metal bat butted in again. “My little sis is riding high on her popularity lately, you know? Don’t you think other people, oh wait, we’re in the middle of the demon continent, right? In any case. Don’t you think other demons would console her, helping her get over the grief quickly and bring a smile back to her face?”
“Uh? That’s sorrowful in a different meaning, innit?”
Are you saying that my daughter would smile and focus only on the development of fried chicken right after my funeral? I actually ended up picturing her smiling face in my head, which landed a severe blow to my psyche.
“This is no good, but that’s also bad… Master, you just can’t make up your mind, can you?”
“That’s how all dads operate.”
While the metal bat and I chatted about the demon continent, no, what the future held for us, Belegrea was reaching the end of her passionate speech about the demon’s future as well. “I wish that all of you will serve the Demon God’s will!”
“Oh, oooooh!”
Loud cheering came from everywhere. I could hear many energetic roars declaring that they would definitely become the next demon king and inherit the Demon God’s will.
Ah, ahhh… Good. Very good! It always feels great when moulding the candidates filled with such passion and commitment.
Feeling satisfied now, I got up from the judges’ area and walked up to the podium where Belegrea was.
“Lord Marx?”
“I-it’s Lord Marx!”
“Even Lady Arcadia, the manifestation of Demon God’s blessing, is here too!”
Young demons looked up at me and the metal bat walking behind me with sparkling eyes. Even though I said ‘young’, some of them were undoubtedly older than me due to the differences in our racial traits.
For instance, I’ve heard that quite a few elders from the tribes inheriting the blood of dragons like the Flame Dragon or the Ice Dragon could live past well over one thousand years. So, that dude over there with the dragon head must be at least a couple hundred years old.
Dammit! I was already feeling down from the discussion over my natural death in 30 to 40 years! Aren’t there way too many bastards that make a mockery of my worries in front of me?!
“What we want is just this one thing,” I addressed the crowd with a voice containing just a hint of my resentment.
Honestly speaking, the first round of judging was fairly simple in nature. Most of the candidates should pass the test. If you thought about it, there was no need for me to spend too much time trying to judge them.
“The ability to appropriately judge the situation and a powerful combat strength.”
They were about to go through a filtering process, anyway. No need for me to shoulder the annoyance of judging them one by one since I had already thought of a better way.
“We only need individuals capable of following the great Demon God’s will.”
So, what I’m saying was…!
“From this moment on, you shall ki… Ahem, I mean, you shall now fight each other until only fifty-one candidates remain.”
The survival of the fittest.
We only had to pick up the survivors, that’s all.

*

#10 Their circumstance: A certain hero’s circumstance

“From this moment on, you shall ki… Ahem, I mean, you shall now fight each other until only fifty-one candidates remain.”
He said ‘kill’ just now. He might have corrected himself in the middle, but he definitely told them to kill each other!
I was entrusted with managing this weird event called the Best Demon King Audition as an equally weird-sounding role of a co-judge. And that’s why I got to hear what my instructor said just now!
“And now, hurry and fight!”
Unfortunately, I seemed to be the only one to hear the ‘kill’ part of the instructor’s command. With just one command from him, the atmosphere in the venue began shifting rather eerily.
Candidates, full of smiles and friendly chatter only a second ago, began sharpening their auras and gauging the capabilities of others around them.
“Insane…!”
All these people were willing to risk their lives and fight just because he said so? What on earth was going on here?!
“I would never do… Mm… Huh?”
When I carefully thought about this, uhm… Haven’t I done something similar to this before? No, my case was a lot worse, I think? Food was involved in my case, after all.
“Die!”
“How dare a mere weakling…!”
I bore witness to the demons crossing swords and hurling magic spells at each other from the closest vantage point. I was told that this test would be a simple demonstration of an individual candidate’s abilities, so how did it morph into a free-for-all deathmatch instead?!
“Senior!”
A blue-haired, red-eyed boy rushed up to me from the sideline.
“Rarel? What happened?”
This boy’s name was Rarel.
“I’ve brought you the message from the great, noble apostle of the Demon God, Lord Marx!”
Rarel’s voice was filled with respect and awe. So much so that this kid and the wannabe assassin following the Demon God’s wish to kill my instructor once upon a time couldn’t have been the same person at all.
As expected of the metal bat, then. To think that one could become a loyal servant just from a beatdown!
I asked Rarel. “What’s the message?”
“He said to observe the proceedings from the side and stop the test if you think we’ll see casualties.”
“Got it.”
I watched my much-younger junior at work bow to me and walk away before shifting my attention to the candidates. I wanted to find out if there were any ‘dangerous’ looking fellas among them.
“…And there are so many.”
Yup, there were many. Way too many, if you ask me.
These small-fries seemed to have gotten full of themselves after thinking that they were chosen to become a demon king. My instructor’s goal was to train one million warriors… And to think that the candidates would be this boastful for being selected among that one million!
“Not only that, their abilities are…”
…Pretty shabby, actually. With the candidates amounting to only this much, even the past version of me during the Howling days could’ve had a shot at becoming a demon king, too!
“Fail. Fail. Fail.”
My workload had increased to match their low levels. These idiots couldn’t even tell the difference between their capabilities and their opponents. As such, they went all-in even when fighting against weaker opponents than they were.
Idiots so weak that even a light little tap could kill them were giving their everything to attack one another. If I don’t intervene at the right time, I might end up removing corpses later on.
And so, as I began intervening one candidate at a time…
“…Mm?”
How should I describe it? For a brief second there, I saw a very familiar set of movements just now?
“No, hang on. Before all that…!”
No.1000… No, Mirua!
“Why the heck is she here??”
Rarel asked me in confusion. “Senior?”
“Hey, there’s something I gotta check out, so take care of these two for me, will you?” I tossed two young demon king wannabes under my arms to Rarel, then began chasing after one of the candidates.
The overall number had gone down a lot, and only around ten candidates needed to be disqualified for this contest to be over. While pretending to be removing the collapsed candidates, I got close to the suspicious one of the lot!
“Mm… What is your name, candidate?”
“H-hello, sir! I, I’m Kirellia from the Babelest tribe, which is a humanoid horse demon tribe! I’m 42 years old. The apostle, who chose me as the demon king…” The candidate began a round of non-stop yapping with a surprised look on her face.
Listening to this natural stream of explanations made one think that she was just another demon chosen to become a demon king.
“Mm… I see. Lady Kirellia, my bad for alarming you. You resemble another demon that I’m acquainted with, you see…”
“To think that I resemble a demon you know, Lord Swinn, the right hand of our great Lord Marx! I’m honoured!”
The way this candidate looked up at me with those sparkling eyes… Mirua always maintained a poker face that made it hard to gauge her true emotional state, and after considering that fact, this girl came across as a totally different person to me. And when I was tailing her just now, she behaved just as amateurishly as the other candidates here, too.
However, the most important test was this one!
“Have you ever experienced the Demon God’s blessing yet?”
“N-no, I haven’t had the honour yet.”
“Is that right? Well, it’s fate that you resemble my acquaintance, so come seek me out later in the future. I shall speak to the demon king and let you experience the Demon God’s blessing.”
“T-thank you very much!”
I came to a decision while watching the candidate hurriedly bow to me. Right, she merely resembled Mirua, that’s all. Someone with the first-hand experience of the wooden bat’s powers wouldn’t want to receive a beatdown from the upgraded version called the metal bat, after all!
As far as I know, Mirua has never got a beating from the metal bat. That’s why she might not know that thing’s true terror. But Mirua was a very crafty, cunning kid from the beginning.
Sure, the organisation she worked for had a weird name of ‘Kidnap Ast Squad’, but that shouldn’t distract you from the fact that she was still a leader of a small group of incredibly powerful elites.
Mirua was the underling of the Imperial Princess, the most influential individual in the empire. Her position meant Mirua held enough power to get her name on the list of the top movers and shakers of the empire.
That girl started off as a mere commoner, a tool of the evil organisation no less, yet she still managed to reach an unimaginable height of power. Someone like that had experienced the might of the wooden bat. And she was currently carrying out the mission of capturing our instructor. In other words, there was simply no way she didn’t know anything about the metal bat.
Can a person thank me for the prospect of getting hit by the metal bat even though they knew the truth?
That would be impossible.
“To commemorate that you resemble someone very close to me, I shall do my utmost.” I smiled benevolently after making up my mind and then patted the candidate on her head.
“Hehe…” The demon girl before my eyes grinned brightly at my gentle patting. Our surroundings resembled a war zone, yet only our location was overflowing with this gentle atmosphere.
Other demons glanced in our direction and began making dissatisfied expressions. But then…!
“Yes, yes. I shall take you to Lord Marx first, and then…”
Crunch-!
“Kkyack?! Uh? H-hey…?”
I grabbed the girl’s horn and roughly yanked it off her head!
“…And then, you shall confess everything after the metal bat does her thing with you.”
“Kkyack!”
The horn stubbornly refused to yield, but I still managed to pull it off her head in the end. This rather-familiar-looking horn was actually a fake crafted by those despicable dwarves!
“B-but, how…?!” Mirua was staring at me with a panicked expression on her face.
I smiled faintly at her. “This situation is just too absurd, isn’t it? When I thought long and hard about this, the conclusion I got was… This absolutely can’t be real.”
If one looked at all the evidence available, this girl could not be Mirua – at least, that should’ve been a natural conclusion. As for the odds of her being Mirua? It’s only around 0.1% or so?
“The ‘Mirua’ I know is fully capable of succeeding even if the odds are only 0.1%, you see?”
Mirua. When I first acknowledged her abilities, a corner of my heart started carrying this unspoken respect for her. She leisurely slipped past the empire’s magic bombardment. She used a method even I couldn’t imagine to survive. Her actions made her the object of my jealousy and yearning.
That’s why…!
“The moment I concluded that the girl before my eyes cannot be Mirua, the odds of her actually being Mirua went up so much higher.”
“Euhk…!” Mirua frowned deeply after realising that her too-perfect acting got her exposed, but her expression morphed quickly soon afterwards. “I’m gonna get mad at you later, you know.”
Ah, ahhh… That’s a bit scary.
Now that I thought about it, the first and the last time I saw Mirua get mad at me was back when Ria and I worked together to stop her from eating all those years ago. If my memory serves me correctly, she… started using the sword aura the following day, didn’t she?
Scary. Very scary.
“Looks like you’re trying to escape, but do you even have an escape plan?”
“Yup, I’ve already thought about it.”
Suddenly, Mirua’s figure grew transparent before disappearing completely from the view.
“Sure, if it’s you, that makes sense. The thing is, though…”
If you wanna talk about plans, I too have made lots of them. Actually, anyone can plan, too. And the disciples of my instructor had a tendency to come up with lots more plans compared to other people.
“Before you get the taste of the metal bat…!”
“Kuwaaaahng!”
“Hey! I captured a human spy!”
I couldn’t see her, but the moment those two sounds hit my eardrums, I acquired a new fellow slave… Oops, I mean, a comrade who will share the pain with me. Ria left already, so Mirua was just the right person to fill the void.

[1]: ‘Tonight’s MC is [Pick Me]’ is my poor attempt at translating the name of the opening song for MNET’s idol survival show called Produce 101 season 2. The song’s official title seems to be [Pick Me] but the actual lyrics during the chorus are: “Tonight’s protagonist is me, just me.” Confusingly enough, though, the female version of the same programme’s theme tune is also called ‘Pick Me’, but they are two different songs. Also, the ‘pick me, pick me’ part of the lyrics from the girls’ version of ‘Pick Me’ is sung in English.

[2]: Kaku-San-Sei Million Arthur is a series of Japanese RPG games released by Square Enix. I’m guessing this is the game MC was talking about in the previous chapter…

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