< Evade the Hero and Flee! 208 #24. Why Does it Have To Be Me? (5) >
The demon continent’s weather was getting gradually colder. Winter was coming. The cold weather that greeted us when we first crossed over from the human side of the continent was creeping over us once more.
“My dear child, don’t you think this is a good spot?”
In the meantime, my daughter and I were doing a very important job to commemorate our two years in the demon continent.
“Nope. The soil quality here is not good, dad. This land isn’t suitable for farming!”
“D-does that mean…?”
“Yup, next! Let’s check out the next land, dad!”
It was none other than real estate shopp… Oops, I mean, inspecting the farmlands.
“But this is already the 14th place we’ve checked out…”
“Dad~! You said we’re looking for a nice place to build our forever home, didn’t you! A good land will cut down on our hardships, you know!”
We had reached the point in time where I began thinking that retiring wouldn’t cause any major issues with the governance of the demon continent. The one hundred demon kings my dear hero/disciple had trained were doing a stellar job with raising more demon kings. The results they had shown so far were all very satisfactory.
Each newly-minted demon king obviously couldn’t control a hundred candidates like the hero had done, but they still could train at least three hopefuls by themselves. Even five candidates under the right circumstances.
One hundred demon kings soon increased in number to five hundred. Those five hundred demon kings then ballooned to over 1000 in the proverbial blink of an eye.
The future history books would most likely depict the hero as… someone like Abraham, I guess?
As a hero, he created one hundred demon kings. Then, those demon kings went on to create even more demon kings, then more and more would be created down the line, so…
“…So, the demon continent is in good hands.”
Mm… Of course it would be. Even with only one demon king, the demon continent had been chugging along fairly well, didn’t it? With a thousand demon kings now in existence, they should be able to deal with whatever comes their way, including the likes of the Evil God.
“Dad! Let’s go to the next location!”
“Alright, my child.”
My daughter had been searching for a fertile piece of land as if she was out shopping for a cute handbag in a department store. She didn’t just pay attention to the soil quality, but also to the overall terrain, such as the mountains, rivers and nearby roads.
My daughter went inside the carriage to check the list of lands she had been keeping an eye on. I felt quite content with this scene. Seriously now, I don’t know whose little girl she is, but she sure has grown up so well!
The metal bat grumbled. “You know, my little sis got your most annoying traits, master.”
“Uh-huh! Taking into account every variable and possibility, then carefully consider them! There can’t be a better habit than that in this world!”
“But, master! Have you forgotten about the Evil God thingy? Are you not ‘taking into account’ that little inconvenience, oh my dear demon king?”
“Yup, I’m not.”
The Evil God’s fragment was supposed to wreck everything as soon as making its appearance, whether it was on the human or demon side of the continent.
According to Belegrea, that ‘god’ thing was the king of all monsters. Magic didn’t work, while physical attacks were just as useless against that creature.
How many fifty-year-old-plus folks in this world would want to fight against a monster that could wipe out a kingdom or several tribes the moment it shows up? No one, I tell ya!
“This year is drawing to a close, isn’t it?” I looked away at a distance. “I always planned to retire at the age of fifty while working for the evil organisation, so this feels right.”
Of course, that was my plan, not the organisation’s. They would’ve never let me ‘retire’ in one piece, especially when I knew so much inside information about them!
“Oho, so… Master, you were planning to set off a very explosive ‘fireworks festival’ just before you retire, didn’t you?”
“More or less.”
Since ancient times, explosions equal art!
I worked tirelessly for the evil organisation, so the least they could do for my retirement would’ve been to participate in my fireworks demonstration!
“Those poor uncles. To think that they actually gave top wages to someone like my master…”
“Hey. Don’t forget that I worked tirelessly for them
I could confidently swear that I worked to earn my keep.
“Master, don’t forget that you also pocketed a loooot under the table too.”
“That’s just side income.”
What did it matter when I was only pocketing some extra benefits the organisation didn’t know about? Sure, some of those benefits accidentally included the family seals of some noble families, and kids like Ria had to infiltrate the organisation to get them back, but… Wasn’t that just another day in the evil organisation?
An evil organisation without double- or triple spies in its midst doesn’t deserve to be called evil, am I right!
“The big boss resting in the underworld must be waiting for you while shedding tears of blood, master.”
“Doesn’t matter, because I’m immune to curses.”
Honestly, the ineffective curses were not the problem here, but my legs getting tired from all this walking!
“Next is this one, dad! Let’s go!”
“Of course, of course.”
Although her work with the Chicken Department had overshadowed it a bit, one should never forget that my dear daughter was also in charge of agriculture. She might be young, but I trusted her wholeheartedly in matters like this!
“Alright, we’re setting off!”
I began driving the carriage according to my daughter’s guidance. Thanks to the well-maintained road network, we should be able to reach our next destination in around two hours, but…
But, Belegrea caught up to us by then.
“Tch! She’s supposed to be a demon king, so doesn’t she have work to do or something?”
“Master, that’s not what you should say!”
“It doesn’t matter to me since I’m about to retire!”
Demons lived for a long time, but I was just another human! Since it’s my wish and all, can’t you just let me retire in peace?
“My dear daughter?”
My daughter seemed to have already finished making her preparations since this situation had been repeating itself a few times recently.
“Keep going, dad!”
At her energetic voice, I whipped the horses even harder.
Just as the horses cried out from my abuse, the sound of something exploding reached my hearing.
Like an item battle from the KamXn Rider series, my daughter threw some kind of a magic tool behind the carriage and generated a smokescreen on the road.
“Get rid of that!”
However, Belegrea had seen enough of our tricks by now. She and her comrades used wind magic to quickly blow away the smokescreen.
“We will definitely take you back this time, Lord Marx!”
“Ganging up on me, is it! To think that you’ve already opened your eyes to the truth of our world to this degree!”
Getting fooled five times in a row seemed to help Belegrea mature as a strategist.
The chase seemed to be on, but for some reason, Belegrea cried out cutely and fell flat on her face. To think that she’d trip up like that when she could ride horses, wyverns and even griffons like a pro!
“Hihihihi~! I knew this would happen, so I used a magic tool to make the ground slippery, dad!”
“Oh, oooh! As expected of my smart child!” I was left in awe at my daughter’s proud declaration. Not just a smokescreen, but also magic to make the ground slippery, too? Using only one type of magic tool until this moment must’ve been a strategic move on my daughter’s part.
And so, along with the chaotic Neighing! noises, other demons following Belegrea’s lead all tumbled off their rides.
“My child, get ready!”
However, it was still too early to relax yet. If you only counted pure speed, then a swordmaster was so much faster than horses. We almost got captured last time after lowering our guard too early, so the same thing won’t happen again!
Still, we managed to delay all those pursuers. I glanced back and saw that Belegrea and her chums were having a hard time trying to get up.
The metal bat tutted. “They can just use magic to fly up, though?”
“Falling off your rides makes it rather hard to think about such things,” said I.
“Ehng? Was our lil’ Bele that easy to fool?” The metal bat asked herself while tilting her head this way and that. It might sound like she was praising Belegrea in the backhanded-slap kind of way, but I got this sneaking suspicion that our lady demon king would not be happy to receive such an evaluation from the metal bat.
…Including calling her ‘our’ little Belegrea and calling her ‘Bele’, which kind of sounded like ‘Bellend’ when coming from the metal bat’s mouth.
“Dad…? Up there…”
My daughter poked her cute face out of the small window between the carriage and the driver’s seat, then tilted her head. “What should we do about those?”
I followed her pointing finger and looked up at the sky. “Uh… Hmm. Looks like we’ll have to prepare anti-air measures next time.”
“Hiiing… Even though we still haven’t checked out lots of properties…”
Up on the sky… Those creatures up there made noisy squawks like a flock of seagulls, but they were actually wyverns. I counted at least ten wyverns flying up there, so it should be safe to assume that around twenty demons minimum were riding on them.
“… We should keep running.”
“But, dad. Didn’t you say it’s always better to surrender quickly?”
“Mm… I did, yes. But now isn’t the right time to give up!”
“Because we… still have Aru!”
“That’s right! We have her!”
“I knew it! It’s always up to me to save your butt!!!”
No one can interrupt my heartwarming family time with my daughter! That’s what I thought, but then…
“…Huh. Even I haven’t thought about this.”
“And I also can’t do anything about it, masterrrr.”
Right, that’s what I believed, but now this…
“Dad, this is one of those things, right? We raise a fuss, they’ll just let go, and we gooo splat?”
“That’s correct, my child. And what did I tell you to do in situations like this?”
“I must clamp my mouth shut and stay quiet!”
“Yes, indeed. You can attempt to escape only when you’re still alive, after all!” While saying that, I looked below me. The carriage must be around two, three thousand metres in the air. If we fell from this height, it’d be instant death, no question about it. In other words, we couldn’t afford to get smart here. “…Next time, I’ll make sure to install anti-air defence mechanisms in the carriage!”
Wyverns never approached us. They maintained suitable distances and activated magic spells to lift up our carriage in the air, then flew away with us in tow.
Once we reached an altitude where falling would mean certain death, the wyverns closed in to chain up our carriage, then began flying even higher up in the air.
Yup, even I couldn’t predict this kind of strategy.
“Dear. Demon. King…!”
We were brought back to the demon king’s castle.
Belegrea must’ve thought that the Demon God’s temple held too many of my allies and brought me to her castle instead. She glared at me while gritting her teeth.
I nonchalantly replied. “I’ve already resigned from that role, though?”
“Sire! You are the demon king upholding the Demon God’s will! You can’t just walk away willy-nilly like that!”
“However, the great and noble Demon God has…”
“Yes, she commanded you to continue working as the demon king!” Belegrea brusquely cut me off in the middle of my sentence.
I was puzzled by that. “Is that right?”
“Yes, it’s exactly right!”
What the heck? It hasn’t been that long since Demon God accused me of being a fraud and sent assassins my way, but now she wants me to stay as the demon king? A deity shouldn’t flip-flop this quickly, you know?
-But master, considering all the things you’ve done to her, this change in attitude makes sense, though!
-Hey, you. I’m no longer your master but your enemy, isn’t it!
-Eiii~, of course not! My master is the most entertaining human alive, after all!
What was that?! I’m beginning to get the feeling that you’d put the finishing touch on a certain notebook as I’m about to die, judging from how much amusement you’re deriving from humanity!
“Lord Marx, it’s about the emergence of the Evil God’s fragment. Despite its appearance on the human continent, we cannot lower our guards. No, wait! More than anything else… To think that humans dare call such a disgusting, abominable creature a demon king…!”
I figured Belegrea was really incensed, judging from how she was gritting her teeth like that. Well, humans used the term ‘demon king’ to denote a rampaging monster, so, in that sense, it seemed like an apt title to me. However, I did have to concede that the term meant something totally different to the demons.
“Do demons use a different name to call that creature?” I asked out of curiosity.
“Of course, sire! How dare humans use the noble, sacred title of the demon king to refer to some lowly fragment of the Evil God! Humans are despicable for calling the Evil God’s apostle the demon king.”
Belegrea grumbled passionately about how humans were trampling on the sacred title of the demon king. However, wasn’t I human? Since she’s calling humans with all sorts of demeaning things, didn’t that mean she was also insulting me?!
“Fine, fine. What is it that you want to say to me?”
Well, since she’s now a loyal demon king chosen by the Demon God herself, I decided to graciously overlook her transgressions.
“It’s obviously about the Evil God’s apostle, sire. According to the oracle, this evil creature was born in the northern regions of the human continent and is currently travelling South.”
“The northern region?”
It seemed that the drinking water in the land I used to live in was contaminated or something. Let’s look at the evidence, shall we? First, it was the sudden appearance of the so-called Four Heavenly Kings of the demon race. Then, my former disciple, who also happens to be a hero, jumped out of nowhere to interfere with my life next.
It didn’t stop there, though! An evil dragon showed up to kidnap some princess, and now, we even had the Evil God’s apostle on our hands, too!
Just how contaminated were your waters, oh the kingdoms of the northern region!
-Master? What is this feeling I’m getting? Except for the Evil God business, it feels like all those things were your fault, somehow?
-N-no, hang on! I’m not responsible for the evil dragon, either!
-Oho? Except for those matters with ‘evil’ in their names, are you admitting that all those events were your fault, then?
N-no, that’s not true!
Those Four Heavenly whatevers invaded the human continent precisely because the troops guarding the border failed at their jobs. And the hero tracked me down because the dang Goddess of Nature ordered him to do so. As such… I’m totally innocent here!
Belegrea continued on with her situation report in the meantime. “The Evil God’s apostle has completely obliterated the kingdom it first appeared in. I heard that not a single soul survived in that kingdom’s capital.”
“You seem to be up-to-date with the news from the human continent.”
“The matters involving the Evil God require action on the level of the religious orders, so our side is cooperating with the human temples.”
Ohhh… I didn’t know that.
“The Evil God is a dangerous entity that almost destroyed the entire world, sire. This entity’s fragments have come together to give birth to the Evil God’s apostle, and its sole purpose is to destroy everything in its path.”
“And so, you’re saying everyone must cooperate to protect the balance of this world?”
Honestly, I couldn’t understand this thought process. Humans and demons were always thinking about invading each other, after all. Wouldn’t the act of invading another’s continent be the very definition of upsetting the world’s balance?!
“And according to the additional information we received recently, the Evil God’s apostle has somehow corrupted the monsters in its surroundings to create an army.”
Belegrea ended her explanation with the revelation that the apostle was heading toward the demon continent for some inexplicable reason.
“The Evil God’s apostle, is it…?”
The first evil from the beginning of creation tainted the world and gave birth to the Evil God – or so said the history book I read in the empire’s library all those years ago. Evil was contagious. Not limited only to different races but also animals, monsters, and even spirits and gods, too. Evil tainted everything that existed and turned them into its allies.
That was the reason why the world feared the ‘evil’. And why it detested and hated the reawakened Evil God’s fragment.
“I don’t see a need to worry here, though?”
I wasn’t all that concerned about the Evil God’s apostle headed this way.
“Sire, do you know of a way to defeat it?”
“No, not really. However…”
Ria and the hero punk had already left this place and returned to the human continent. Sure, they swore to never reveal my current whereabouts, but keeping their mouth shut would be a tall order as long as they lived in the empire. Which meant…
“I’m guessing that the border region is teeming with the empire’s army right about now.”
“The empire? Do you mean… the Karuan Empire, reputedly the most powerful human nation in existence? But, sire… Even if it’s them…” Belegrea muttered while frowning a little.
But I cut her off in the middle. “Let’s be honest here. Even though there have been lots of casualties and destruction, an Evil God’s apostle never managed to destroy this world, right?”
“Well, yes. That’s true…”
“Some little apostle of the vanquished Evil God that can’t even do its job properly can never win against the empire, you know?”
The Imperial Princess was with the empire. Under that monster’s wings were more monsters busy churning out even more monsters.
-But master, they are your creations, though?
Sure, I will admit that that’s my doing. However, they all work for the Imperial Princess now, so the description of monsters under the wing of a big monster isn’t wrong, now is it?
“Forget about the Evil God’s apostle. The empire’s army might destroy the continent faster.”
I explicitly believed in the empire’s might. I believed in the strongest nation on the continent! And I believed in the Imperial Princess’s army that boasted the strongest might within the strongest nation on the continent!
Around three months later…
“The Evil God’s apostle has crossed the border!”
I got another chance to engrave deep into my heart the wise saying of our ancestors regarding how misplaced trust could come back to bite me in the butt.