Shion told Renya that she had encountered an issue she couldn’t handle herself. Going by her words, Renya believed that it likely wasn’t a problem requiring physical force. After all, Shion should be capable of resolving any such matter with her own physical abilities.
Considering this wasn’t the case here, Renya could deduct that something of a logical or spiritual nature had happened in Klinge, or at least nothing that could be resolved with a brute force approach. While pondering what it might be, Renya had his hand pulled along by Shion.
At present it was difficult to imagine that anything overly troublesome would occur in Klinge. Of course there was the matter of Renya having gone to the demon country and brought back an entire city including its residents, lord, and retainers, but this piece of news shouldn’t have had enough time to spread yet, so it was hard to believe that it’d suddenly cause problems.
On that topic, even though the world might be fairly vast, not many people would be able to directly complain about this as a problem to Renya, even if it became a well-known fact. This was something Renya was aware of as well, but since it’d be no more than rubbing it in if he actually voiced it out himself, he refrained from expressly putting it into words – probably because his nature as Japanese was at work here.
“Could I have you give me an explanation of just what’s going on? Please?”
“You’ll understand as long as you come with me. Or rather, Emil is in danger if you don’t come with me.”
“…Give me the location.”
As soon as she noticed that the tone of his voice had dropped by several levels, Shion perceived how she was lifted up in Renya’s arms in the next instant. While witnessing how the scenery, which had streamed past at a speed that could somehow be followed by her eyes so far, suddenly accelerated to an extent that it became one big blur, Shion barely managed to squeeze out an answer.
“Your mansion, parlor.”
Renya had judged that it was a race against time, considering that it was an incident that Shion – someone who possessed strength that’d make anyone doubt whether she was actually human – couldn’t cope with and put Emil, a demon, in danger. As soon as he started to run at a speed that drew on all his power, he closed the distance from outside Klinge to his mansion in almost no time.
Klinge’s residents, who saw a shadow carrying another shadow zoom past inside the city, had rather kind and curious looks than ones colored with surprise for some reason.
“Though I had expected for them to make more of a racket…” Renya muttered while looking back at the way they just passed through while lowering Shion to the ground.
Despite having been transported at a fairly, unreasonable speed, Shion followed behind Renya with a steady stride, showing no dizziness, and answered, “Just moments ago they witnessed a city flying through the air. Besides, they are residents of Klinge.”
Certainly, compared to a flying city, their lord passing through the city at a mad dash might be nothing noteworthy.
Renya assessed, but then got caught on the latter part of Shion’s comment.
“What do you mean?”
“Since they’re residents of Klinge, they’re convinced of there being an explanation for everything occurring around them.”
Renya believed that there had to be a limit to flexible thinking, but rather than being baffled by his people’s adaptability, Emil was more important since she seemed to be in danger.
Of course it was impossible for him to run through the mansion at the same speed as through the city, but Renya still headed to the parlor mentioned by Shion as fast as he could. As soon as he arrived, he entered without even knocking on the door.
“Excuse me, it seems I’ve got the wrong room.” After leaving that short apology, Renya tried to close the door he had just opened.
The one who rushed out of the room before the door was fully closed and clung to Renya was Emil who was supposedly in danger, according to Shion.
“Can’t you wait just a sec!? Why are you running away for heaven’s sake!?”
“Idiot, this place is hell. That is no place where humans should intrude upon.”
“Aren’t you a brute to leave a single, frail woman all alone in that hell!?”
“Don’t mess with me. I’m sure someone like you is going to be alright. Even hell would pose no problem for you to live in.”
Renya tore off Emil and attempted to somehow flee the place. Opposing that, Emil put even more strength into her arms as she clung to him while bracing her legs to hinder him from getting away by all means.
Standing behind Renya, Shion folded her arms and pondered what she should do under these circumstances.
“Shion, help me to tear off Emil.”
“Partner, you won’t abandon me, will you? You won’t do anything like that, right!?”
“Uh, it’s difficult to decide whom to support here…”
In a situation where she’d earn herself resentment by one side if she assisted the other, Shion noticed that her longing and duty were in perfect balance once she weighed both options.
In other words, there exists only one action I should take here, Shion quickly decided.
“Sorry, you two.”
It was the option of fleeing the scene by herself. Shion had assessed that there was no other method to break the deadlock of being unable to help either side, but Renya and Emil reacted faster than Shion could.
“You think I’ll let you run away?”
“If we’re going to die anyway, we’ll do so all together!”
“Why are you two suddenly teaming up so smoothly!?”
Renya grabbed Shion’s shoulder after she had turned around to escape while Emil’s hand prevented Shion from leaving by grabbing her hand.
Renya was in the process of attempting to push aside Emil with one hand whereas Emil hindered his movements by still clinging to his body with one hand, both using their other hands to hold back Shion. Astonished by their speed and skill, Shion couldn’t help but to shout out.
However, even Shion very much wanted to leave this place as fast as possible. It wasn’t as though she could obediently accept being held captive just because they had grabbed onto her. She tried to somehow escape their hold by pushing Emil away with her left hand and Renya with her right.
“Renya, partner, please! Turn a blind eye on me!”
“How annoying. You’re kidding me if you believe that I’ll let you alone leave!”
“Partner, didn’t you say that we’d be together at the time of our death?”
The power of trying to flee, the power of trying to push away, and the power of trying to hinder the other two meshed with each other in perfect harmony, resulting in the three having become unable to move from the spot altogether.
A slow, female voice called out through the door, which Renya didn’t manage to completely close after opening it earlier, to the circle of three people which would likely collapse in an instant if just one of them were to disturb the balance.
Partly in reflex, Shion withdrew her hands, which had been trying to push Emil and Renya back, and stood on attention on the spot. Of course, situations where a balance of power broke apart had a tendency to mostly deteriorate in a bad direction, going by the common sense of the world. As a result it led to a situation where all three of them tumbled inside the room together.
What was even worse for Renya was that the three fell in a way of Shion and Emil trapping him under them. Renya swallowed the word he was about to unconsciously blurt out.
“Renya, if you had voiced out what you were thinking just now…even I don’t know how things would have turned out, ok?”
“That’s a taboo word, Renya. Got it? I mean, I’m still a girl, just so you know.”
“I know, I know, so could you hurry up and get off me?” Renya blurted out with a sullen look while believing that it was inevitable for him to end up thinking so, seeing how he was taking on their full weight to begin with.
In response, both girls slowly moved their bodies off Renya.
“Oh my, oh my～ Renya-san. Being pushed down by two beauties～ what a lucky man you are～” A slow, slurry voice that contained a smile.
Renya had an idea who the owner of that voice might be.
“Long time no see, Your Majesty. You seem as healthy as ever.”
The one Renya addressed with a voice full of resignation while still lying on the ground was the Archduchess Lydia Femme Fatale who was holding the supreme authority in the Trident Principality. She was squinting while laughing as she held a hand against her cheek, but her chest still had the same outrageous volume as when he had seen her last. Its majestic size stood out even further when he was looking up to her from the floor.
“Long time no see～ Margrave Kunugi～. Everything okay on your end～?”
“Well, yes, somewhat.”
“Huh～? You don’t really sound overly happy, though～?”
If the other party consisted of only the archduchess, Renya wouldn’t need to choose the option of turning about and running away all of a sudden. However, other figures were also sitting around the round table located in the center of the room.
“The heart of man is something fickle. I guess even Margrave Kunugi-dono isn’t excluded from this fact.”
“…Your Majesty Emperor Royce pas Tifalet…”
As he couldn’t afford to stare up to the archduchess for eternity, Renya got up just to meet the bright look of Emperor Royce pas Tifalet, the highest authority of the elven country, at the end of his line of sight.
The one sitting opposite of the archduchess with the emperor between them was a beastwoman with the tail and ears of a leopard and a dress that looked disheveled and messy rather than casual.
Renya tried to search his memory as he felt like he had seen her face somewhere before, but it only resulted in a frustrating state where her name lingered on the tip of his tongue but didn’t want to quite come out.
“Well, we’ve not spent much time with each other. You can’t recall my name, right?”
“I’ve remembered after hearing you speak, Your Highness Queen Lobelia Panther.”
Renya had finally retrieved the queen’s name, who had been kicking the Fang King at the beastmen’s royal palace, from the depths of his memory, but the queen shook a finger while repeatedly clicking her tongue. Renya was afraid that he might have been impolite by possibly making a mistake, but without minding that, Lobelia added a correction to Renya’s information.
“You’d’ve been right before, but now it’s different.”
“Has His Majesty the Fang King possibly passed on?”
“That moron is still goin’ strong. But, he stopped bein’ the king.” Lobelia left her seat while saying so, and introduced herself while lightly bowing on the spot, “Margrave Kunugi-dono of the Trident Principality, I’m meeting you with this name for the first time. I’m the sole rule of the beastmen, Lobelia Panther. If you’re going to address me, use Your Majesty the Queen, okay?”
“If my memory doesn’t betray me, the beastmen had four kings with each of them possessing influence. Or am I wrong?”
Going by Renya’s memory, the beastmen had a Fang King, High King, Black King, and Fist King. Each of them was supposed to reign over his own country while leading his own military forces.
Hence, Lobelia naming herself the sole ruler meant…, Renya arrived at a single conclusion-
“Did you slaughter all of them…?”
“Idiot. Even I wouldn’t kill my brethren to obtain authority. But, you see, I did something similar to that. I simply subjugated all four kings, and unified the beastmen under my banner.”
Renya had evaluated Lobelia to be far stronger than the four kings ever since he had visited the beastmen country, but at long last she had put down the four kings, who kept fighting each other all the time, by herself, and unified the continent. Even Renya was surprised by that fact. At the same time he thought that the same likely wouldn’t work with the humans.
You could say she was able to unify the continent by defeating the four kings herself exactly because beastmen solved every problem with nothing but simple physical strength.
“How nice～ A unified nation, huh～? Should I try the same～? Won’t it work out just fine with the current Trident Principality～? What do you think～?”
“Please do that somewhere where it doesn’t affect me.” It took Renya all effort to answer this to the archduchess who said something tremendously dangerous like it was nothing with a tremendously slow voice.
In reality, you could say that no country on the human continent currently possessed the power to oppose the combat forces under the Trident Principality’s banner. For this reason, Lydia would be able to achieve a unification of the entire human continent into one nation for the very first time in history, if she felt like it.
But then again, it’d lead to many pointless battles, even if they’d obviously be unwinnable for the enemies, since humans came up with troublesome ideas unlike beastmen, which would then very likely result in losing a lot of good things that didn’t need to be lost otherwise.
The reason why Renya chose to immediately flee after opening the parlor’s room was because he had seen these three authorities, who ruled over roughly 60% of the world, having assembled inside the room.
I see, I can fully understand that this is a dangerous situation where Shion wouldn’t be able to do anything, and even Emil would be hard pressed to avoid acting imprudently. However, you should have told me about this situation in advance, Renya glared at Shion.
Shion didn’t know what Renya was thinking, but it was a certain fact that he was glaring at her, and thus Shion averted eyes and entire face from Renya in a hurry.
“Enough of that. So tell me, why are you three dignitaries holding a meeting in my territory?” He spat out words no one would use on people above them, no matter how they evaluated those people.
Renya cast a glance at the three. At the very least, these three, who had apparently waited for Renya, weren’t the kind of people who would meet up without any reason at all, But Renya had absolutely no clue as to why they could have gathered in Klinge.
Representing the three rulers, the archduchess spoke up to Renya, who embraced an even more dangerous thinking than the archduchess, namely, that it’d be okay for him to go on a little rampage if it was for some silly reason.
“We came here together～ to consult and talk with you, Margrave Kunugi-dono～. Since ther other two～ had been invited over by me～, I’d be delighted if you could hear us out～”
Although her way of speaking was as slow as ever, it carried a very serious tone. And although she was smiling, her eyes were serious too. Guessing that they had gathered for a fairly important reason, Renya crossed the option of going on a rampage out of his mind, and after making Shion and Emil sit down on the chairs next to his which had been prepared at the round table, he slowly sat down as well.
“First off～, is there anything you think after seeing this lineup～?” The archduchess started off after waiting for Renya to sit down.
As told, Renya scrutinized the faces of the three authorities sitting opposite of him in order, and suddenly spoke up, “Breasts, horny pervert, and dumb muscle-head who fails at educating her husband.”
His words were indifferent, carrying no emotions or passion whatsoever.
After a moment of silence, the three rulers stood up all at once.
“Gotcha, you got yourself a fight, brat! Step outside!”
“Beastwoman, I shall assist you.”
“Guards～, you’re up～! Kill the demon king～!”
“Wait a moment!”
As the three country leaders got all riled up, Shion loudly slammed her fist on the table. The table barely managed to endure the impact, but the intensity of the sound and impact caused the three people to reflexively fall silent, freezing on the spot.
In the meantime, Emil grabbed Renya’s shoulder while sitting next to him, and shook him at full strength.
“Tell me, Renya, just why the hell would you suddenly start from a place that would buy you their animosity!?”
“How rude. I just gave an honest answer after being asked what I thought…”
“Look, if you really believe that always being honest is a virtue, you couldn’t be any wronger!”
Renya’s reaction towards Emil, a hero and demon, jolting him with all her power while rebuking him with a strained voice was merely limited to a worry that his clothes might tear. Ordinary clothes might have been ripped apart by now, exposing Renya’s upper body in the process, but the same couldn’t be said about Frau’s special clothes.
By the way, the instant Emil admitted Renya’s words to be true, she clearly revealed that she had been thinking something along the line of Renya’s train of thought, and just didn’t show it on her face.
“Renya, it’s not like mother and the others were asking you for such frank impressions. I think they just wanted to know whether you didn’t think anything about the three having assembled here.” Shion mediated with a somewhat soothing tone after having silenced the three most powerful authorities of their respective race by just hitting the table, but Shion also didn’t realize that she had confessed of thinking something similar to Renya by calling his impressions frank.
While the expressions of the three authorities in question were gradually becoming more and more threatening, Renya looked back at them completely undaunted, and then finally mentioned another thought occupying his thoughts.
“I don’t see the leader of the dragonoids anywhere.”
Since only the elven emperor, the beastman queen, and a human archduchess had gathered, it struck Renya as odd for no one from the Witenagemot, the highest authority of the dragonoids, to be in attendance. Renya himself was quite aware that this was the matter the archduchess probably wanted to touch upon, but he felt a pressing desire to drive in a witty retort before humoring her.
“Were they simply left out because of their exceedingly bad behavior?”
Renya hadn’t dealt with the dragonoids for such an extended period of time, but he had amply learned that they were the kind of beings you couldn’t get along with well. Although he didn’t feel inclined to jump to the hasty conclusion that this experience also applied to others, he chose his words in a way making it obvious that he considered the possibility for this to be the issue as highly likely, but the archduchess’ response completely diverted from Renya’s expectations.
“If that was all～ it’d still be alright～”
“What do you mean?” Renya asked the archduchess as her voice sounded somewhat dejected or tired.
The elven emperor picked up the ball for the archduchess, and explained to Renya in her stead, “First off, Albert-dono, the hero of the dragonoids, has retired.”
“You can actually retire from being a hero?”
Renya had believed that being a hero was something you couldn’t stop even if you wanted to, just like you couldn’t become one even if you wanted to, but considering it logically, the only beings capable of opposing the combat abilities of heroes, under normal circumstances, were other heroes. If a hero suddenly started to talk about not wanting to do the job anymore or going back home, only the other heroes would actually be capable of stopping the hero in question from doing so.
The faces of the other races’ heroes, Kurz, Lepard, and Grün, crossed Renya’s mind, but neither of them had the personality to forcibly hold back someone who wanted to quit. Rather, all of them would very likely encourage any hero mentioning that they wanted to retire.
In the first place, Renya had told Albert that it was alright for him to go back to his country if he wanted to before departing for the demon continent.
“He seems to have gone back to the dragonoid continent through a transfer gate, but since all transfer gates to that continent ceased working afterwards, we’ve become unable to get in touch with him.”
“Were their transfer gates destroyed?”
This was the easiest method to stop transfer gates from functioning. The transfer gates, which always worked in pairs, would lose their function as gates if one of either gates got destroyed.
“Most likely. Moreover, a hero can’t destroy a gate on their own judgment. In other words…”
Transfer gates were extremely crucial facilities as they allowed for information and goods exchange as well as people traffic. It was unthinkable that someone would destroy them on their own discretion, even if they might be a hero.
“That means the dragonoids either chose to sever the exchange with the other races and oppose the demons on their own, or to stay out of the conflict this time around by secluding themselves.”
Lobelia nodded at Renya’s deduction. This basically meant that the dragonoids as a race had dropped out of the war against the demons.
“I think it might be inevitable.” The elven emperor declared with a grave tone. “From the very start, the dragonoids have been hating the demons far more than us. Moreover, this time they not only blundered by having the territory under their influence stolen from them, but they also lost a substantial number of kin.”
“Well, it’s not that I can’t sympathize with that.”
“It’s only understandable that the dragonoids and their hero would loathe the idea to cooperate with us after hearing about a human noble heading out to save a demon.” The elven emperor’s eyes shifted away from Renya.
Following his line of sight, Renya noticed that the elven emperor was now staring at the person sitting next to him, Emil. And to be precise, the elven emperor wasn’t gazing at her body or face, but her hair.
“Oi Emil, your hair.”
Upon having it pointed out by Renya, Emil covered her violet hair with both her hands while yelping derpily. Of course, the beastman queen and the elven emperor had already seen Emil’s hair color, making it pointless for her to hide it at this point.
Renya had told Grün and Lepard about Emil’s true identity before going out to search for her, but he hadn’t considered at all just how far that piece of information might have circulated. Renya’s body stiffened up as he thought that they might get blamed or singled out over this, but the elven emperor immediately averted his eyes from Emil, and the beastman queen’s look at Emil didn’t contain a trace of interest in the demon girl to begin with.
As Renya thought that his worries had apparently proven to be groundless, the beastman queen said, “Well, it’s you we’re talking about here after all.”
Did they realize only now, or had they been informed by their respective heroes in advance? Either way, the two statesmen talked about it with a carefree attitude as if they had given up on it from the start, or rather, as if it didn’t matter anyway, not showing any surprise at Emil’s true identity.
“You okay with that?” Renya reflexively asked the two in disbelief.
Demons were supposed to be the enemies of all living creatures on this planet. Not only had Renya saved her, but he was even now keeping her close to him.
“Even if we told you to quit it, it’s not like anyone could enforce it anyway.”
“In such a case, let’s just say all is fine, and have Margrave Kunugi-dono take responsibility for everything that follows.”
“Honesty isn’t always a virtue, really.”
Renya ended up glaring at them in reflex, but the emperor and the queen warded it off without any concern, showing that they didn’t mind at all.
“Leaving that aside～, this comes with some problems～” The archduchess interjected, apparently having judged that Renya had now grasped the situation. “First off～, a loss in combat power～ as one of the four heroes has dropped out～”
Although there was a difference in actual combat prowess, it had developed into a situation where they had to fight the demon king with 75% of their combat power as one of the four heroes was now gone, if you made a simple calculation. This decrease in battle strength hurt.
However, Renya immediately replied to the archduchess, “It looks like Emil Rajah over here is the demon hero. I believe she possesses more than ample ability to fill the hole opened up by Albert’s retirement.”
Hearing the term demon hero, the three rulers simultaneously directed surprised looks at Emil. Going by their reaction, Renya could confirm his suspicion that the birth of a hero among demons wasn’t common knowledge among the other races.
“A hero and demon!? What kind of bullcrap is that supposed to be!?”
“No, wait, if I remember correctly, there were times in the past when heroes of unknown descent participated in the demon king subjugation. Assuming those were demon heroes, I could immediately agree with it as feasible.”
“So～, do you plan to cooperate with us～, Emil-chan～?”
Albeit lightly, Emil nodded at the archduchess’s question, who had probably thought that they should first confirm whether that demon hero would help with the demon king subjugation rather than being astonished at the fact of a demon hero’s existence.
“You see, I’ve incurred a debt with Renya, or I should rather say, with humanity. Besides, my partner is a human as well. On top of that, the demon king has tried to kill my family and people. So it’s become a tad difficult to choose the option of not assisting you guys.”
“So roundabout. Isn’t it fine to simply say that you’re going to help out?”
“Well, all things considered, I’m still a demon. That makes it quite tough to frankly declare that I’m gonna cooperate with you.” Emil smiled wryly.
Seeing that, all three rulers released a sigh of relief in their minds for the time being while making an effort to not show it on their faces. On top of managing to return to the same number of heroes before Albert quit, she was a hero whom Renya approved of as capable to fill the hole left by Albert.
“With this I feel like at least one heavy weight has been lifted from my mind.”
“Is there anything else?” Renya warily asked in response to the emperor’s muttering.
The beastman queen shrugged her shoulders, and told Renya, “It just means that the heroes aren’t our only problem. Normally, during the times of warring against the demon king, the four races would unite, invade the demon territory, and the heroes would weave their way through the gaps in the demons’ defenses to take the demon king’s head, but this method isn’t possible this time.”
With the means to enter the dragonoid country gone, the military forces of the dragonoids, besides Albert, couldn’t be counted on for the demon king’s subjugation. The traditional strategy of attacking the demon territory from four directions had become unavailable with the dragonoids’ drop-out.
“That’s not all. I’m sure you’ve already heard that us beastmen had some smaller domestic issues. Because of that…”
“Your military forces decreased, right? By how much?”
Soldiers would die during a civil war. This was very natural, and the beastmen were no exception to that rule.
“The casualties were rather low. But, as for the injured…I’d say we lost 10% and 30% are injured.” Lobelia answered with a casual, light tone, but what she said was actually quite grave.
If 10% among the beastmen who could fight had died and 30% got injured, effectively making it impossible for them to join a battle right away, it meant that the beastman army had lost 40% of its overall combat power.
“The elves…are the race with the biggest population to begin with, so we’ll be able to field almost all of our combat forces, despite having lost some of our brethren in smaller skirmishes.”
“The humans～, to be honest～, are a nest full of troubles～”
According to the archduchess, the Holy Kingdom, which would usually become the leading power, was mostly devastated. Moreover, the military forces owned by the Holy Kingdom and the countries that had formed an alliance with it had suffered heavy losses in the previous war. And even among the soldiers who had survived that onslaught, many had become unable to to sortie because of physical ailments or mental problems.
In addition, the Trident Principality, which had become the strongest power on the human continent in the Holy Kingdom’s stead, was overburdened from dispatching its soldiers all over the place to defend something or keep public order in other countries, the archduchess told Renya.
“Because it’s not like we wish～ the other countries to fall into states of anarchy～, the dispatch of troops itself～ can’t be helped, you see～”
If the number of soldiers decreased, problems in securing public order in villages and other smaller settlements would become a problem, not to mention bigger towns or cities. Accordingly it has resulted in the Trident Principality apparently taking over those duties, dispatching its soldiers not only to the neighboring countries but all over the human continent in an effort to maintain public safety, but because this lowered the principality’s military forces, the principality itself was gradually starting to run into a dire lack of soldiers, the archduchess explained.
“In short, you’re saying the demon king subjugation is the least of our problems?”
“I’m well aware myself～ that it’s not an issue～ that can be treated lightly～”
“The simple truth that you can’t use what you don’t have is hard to overturn.”
“If we fight with the intent of dying, our current numbers might match our former military forces, but something like the beastmen falling to ruin after us being able to kill the demon king would be quite a problem, to be blunt.”
Because Lobelia fully understood that they wouldn’t have any future if they didn’t kill the demon king, Renya couldn’t muster the courage to tell her to provide the soldiers with a resolve to lose everything. And given that even Renya, who didn’t hold much responsibility, was unable to do so, the rulers, who were in a position of shouldering the lives and livelihoods of their people, were even less able to mention anything like that, even if they were well aware of the possible consequences.
“In other words～, us wanting to consult with you～ is about borrowing your knowledge to see～ whether any other method to tackle this could possibly exist～”
Renya was about to immediately shoot it down with, “As if I would conveniently have such a nice plan at hand,” but considering that it wasn’t as though they’d have come to consult him without pondering about it beforehand, he could conversely conclude that they had been cornered quite a bit.
“There’s one more thing～ we need to consult you about～”
“You’ve still got more!?”
“I’d say that’s actually the real reason～. I mean we really～ don’t know what we should do about this～”
Contrary to Renya who unintentionally raised his voice, the archduchess looked up to the ceiling, not sparing Renya a single glance. Drawn by that, Renya also looked up, and immediately furrowed his eyebrows as he sensed something being out of place up there where nothing but a flat ceiling should originally exist.
Renya immediately grasped the true cause for his feeling of discomfort. The part of the ceiling everyone was watching tore apart. Of course it wasn’t as though the ceiling itself got destroyed, but rather, a rift opened up in the space close to the ceiling, and a faint light spilled out of that crack.
And then the figure of a person, beginning with the toes, slowly began to appear from within. While some kind of music could be heard from who-knows-where, the long, smooth legs of a girl came out of the rift. She was covered by a simple, snow white dress which had its hem loosely fluttering despite the absence of a wind.
The clothes covering her slender limbs were widely opened on the back. The three shining, feathered wings on her exposed back spread open as if to protect the girl. Her glossy black hair flowed down while being tied together into pigtails on either side of her head. Just like her clothes, the braids swayed gently too.
“Mortals, stand down. Mine name is Giliel. The one controlling everything in this transient world.”
Shion and Emil stared at her with their mouths agape, obviously having forgotten to close them out of sheer surprise. The three rulers weren’t as surprised as the two as they had apparently seen Giliel before, but their eyes were still pinned on the girl floating in the center of the room, tension coloring their faces. And lastly, Renya was scrutinizing the area below the girl’s feet for some reason.
“I have appeared before you like this as I am deeply grieving over the distress of this land. Therefore, heed mine words without the slightest sliver of doubt…”
The girl’s manifestation point was almost in the dead center of the room. Naturally the table surrounded by Renya and the others was to be found beneath her feet. The girl’s soles remained in a place where you couldn’t tell whether they were already touching the table’s top.
In short, the girl was floating in the air without being supported by anything, but Renya fixedly glared at the area around her toes with an expression that would make it hard for anyone seeing him to judge whether he had actually heard any of the girl’s words.
“What I wish to pass on to thou first is the caprice of a false god…umm.”
As she was floating while facing Renya right from the front, it was impossible for the girl, who had introduced herself as Giliel, to not notice Renya’s stare. At first she had spoken with dignity dyeing her voice and a solemn expression, but the dignity gradually started to fade out of her voice which instead increasingly got blended with a feeling of unrest.
“Umm, that is…could you not look like that? Renya-san?”
Of all things Renya used his hand to casually swipe the girl’s feet with a speed no one in the room could follow alongside a yell lacking any intensity. Shion and Emil, who were surprised from the start, and the three rulers, who hadn’t been overly surprised, became so flabbergasted due to Renya’s action, which didn’t even give the girl any time to react, that they threw their eyes and mouths as widely open as physically possible.
Moreover, for the one who had her feet swiped underneath, Giliel, it naturally didn’t finish at just being surprised.
What would happen if someone floating without any support had their feet knocked sideways? Giliel first hand demonstrated the question’s answer to everyone present. In other words, she ended up spinning around with her waist as center.
If that had been the extent of it, things might still have worked out one way or another, but maybe because she lost her sense of balance due to the abrupt rotation of her body and visual field, or possibly because she failed at controlling her floating power out of overwhelming surprise, Giliel slammed with her back on the table as if having fainted after spinning around once.
Of course, the wings on her back were sandwiched between her body and the table. Seemingly having nerves running through those wings, Giliel screamed in pain while a huge amount of white feathers whirled up in front of Renya and the others.
“I don’t really know, but do you honestly believe that this girl could be a goddess or anything like that?”
Unable to immediately get up as her wings seemed to obstruct her, Giliel wriggled around on the table. While looking at her, Renya slowly stood up from his seat, placed a hand on the katana hanging at his waist, and calmly drew it.
Hearing the sound of the blade sliding out of its scabbard, Giliel abandoned her attempts to get up in a hurry, held up both hands towards Renya while still facing upwards, and started to furiously shake them alongside her head.
“W-Wait a moment! P-Please wait, Renya-san! I-I’m telling you, i-it’s not like that!”
What had popped up in Giliel’s mind at that moment was the idea that Renya might possibly mistake her for one of the supervisors who had messed around with the world through their little game as had been explained by the little girl goddess. Being mixed up with them and getting punished for it would be terribly cruel even for Giliel, and thus her voice was oozing with desperation to at least avoid such kind of fate.
“Now then, something like classifying yourself as a goddess doesn’t mean shit to me. And since you’ve clearly introduced yourself as something like a goddess in front of me, you should know what’s coming for you, right?”
“Wait! I beg you, please put that away! If I’m cut by that thing, I’ll probably die! I’m going to vanish from existence, for real! Or rather, didn’t we talk as if you somehow understood the situation some time ago!? Please wait, okay? Okay!?”
Even Giliel couldn’t help but panic after seeing Renya draw his katana. After all, it was a weapon that was regarded as slightly dangerous even by the little girl goddess who was Giliel’s mistress. If Giliel, who was no more than her subordinate, were to be slashed by it, she’d doubtlessly end up in a far more wretched state than the little girl goddess.
“I’ve got no clue what you’re talking about. Either way, gods and their ilk register in my mind as nothing but annoying good-for-nothings. Let me filet you properly while regretting that you nonchalantly entered the range of my hands.”
“I don’t wanna be fileted! I also refuse to be turned into chicken wings! Don’t ready your katana while smiling cheerfully! Don’t point its blade my way! Please give me some time to explain! I’m begging you here, Renya-san!”
Giliel trashed around on the table. Naturally she’d start to look like a mess with her dress being turned over and rolled up at various places if she rampaged around like that while wearing such loose clothes, but Giliel currently didn’t have the leeway to worry about such issues. If she didn’t manage to somehow stop Renya from getting violent to secure herself some time to explain herself, she’d very likely get cut up cleanly just like a farmer’s chicken or fileted like a fish.
The rulers, Shion, and Emil apparently got touched by Giliel’s frantic pleading. The two girls on either of Renya’s sides restrained Renya’s shoulders and hands, trying to prevent him from brandishing his katana. In the meantime, the three ruler helped up Giliel who couldn’t do so out of her own power because of her wings.
“Giliel-sama, was it～? You’re not～ injured or anything～?”
“Oh, how very considerate of you. Thank you for your timely help, and no, I am fine.”
“Be careful, Giliel-sama. That man…isn’t someone who doesn’t understand words, but sometimes he’ll act spontaneously without considering the consequences. If you agitate him imprudently, you might earn yourself a fatal injury, even if he might plan to gently stroke you.”
“Yes, you are absolutely right. You have my gratitude for the kind warning.”
“Things might have gone differently if you had appeared a bit more normally, but I suppose that’s something like a god’s pride you can’t yield on, eh?”
“I guess you are right. I should have entered through the door in a slightly more normal way.”
While nodding and answering each of the rulers’ comments, Giliel somehow managed to get off the table and stand on her own feet. As her wings seemed to be a hindrance after all, Giliel folded them on her back the instant her feet touched the floor, and before anyone noticed, they had vanished altogether.
Renya sheathed his drawn katana back into its scabbard while observing the scene that didn’t appear like a chance meeting between goddess and man at all, no matter how you looked at it. Once he signaled Shion and Emil that they didn’t have to hold him back any longer with his eyes, both exchanged a look, and then released their hold.
“Aren’t you way too hasty, Renya?”
“Well, you gotta know that I don’t have an overly good image of beings calling themselves gods, really.”
From Renya’s point of view, the beings with the label of gods only included the little goddess that had dropped him into this world, and the supervisors of this world who misunderstood the world itself as some kind of game board. He regarded all of them as extremely worthless and retarded beings, so anyone might be able to understand Renya’s reaction if they knew about those circumstances, but neither Shion nor Emil happened to possess that information.
“Looking from the side, you totally acted like a criminal who tried to use a lethal weapon against an innocent girl.”
“Isn’t that a bit too mean, partner? As for me, I kinda feel like siding with Renya here, you see.”
Taking his eyes off the two girls who were actively exchanging their respective opinions, Renya shifted his attention to Giliel, who was still being soothed and consoled by the rulers around her. Noticing his look, Giliel’s body jumped with a twitch, and she moved several steps away from Renya.
Without looking offended by Giliel’s reaction, Renya moved his eyes from Giliel to the archduchess next, and asked, “Is it fine for me to assume that this over there is what you wanted to consult me about?”
“Rather, if there could be anything else as important～, I’d like to tell me right here and now～”
Contrary to the carefree tone in her voice, the archduchess’s expression was steeped with great perplexity. Even the other two – albeit not showing it as openly as the archduchess – seemed to be somewhat troubled.
“All of a sudden～ a girl calling herself goddess appeared～, so I was wondering what we should do about this～?”
Although Renya already had a reply ready, he pretended to ponder about it. If he were to answer right away, he had nothing but replies at hand which would very likely be taken as extremely halfhearted responses to the archduchess’s question, but when he considered it very closely, Renya realized that he’d be still told to think seriously about it even if he pointlessly wasted some time here, so he told her, “If you know a good doctor, how about introducing her to them?”
“Figures～, is what I’d like to say, but well～…”
Without getting angry and yelling at him to not mess around, the archduchess pointed at the ceiling where Giliel had appeared. The rift in space that spat out Giliel earlier had apparently vanished altogether, not even leaving a single trace of its previous existence behind. What the archduchess pointed at was the spotless ceiling.
“If someone made an entry～ from such a place～, I feel like sending them to a doctor wouldn’t do much good, you know～?”
Renya suspected that the archduchess bringing up the question what they should do with her meant that Giliel had already shown the same way of entering to the three rulers once before. For this reason, they didn’t look as surprised as Emil and Shion who had both witnessed that scene for the first time. And even though this method of appearing somewhat felt like a staged act, Renya assessed that it served the purpose to prove to the three rulers that Giliel wasn’t just some lunatic girl trying to feed them lies.
“So, what would be the best thing to do～?”
“Let’s see, how about having everyone get their eyes checked by a doctor?”
Renya’s reply, which insinuated that they should doubt themselves if the other party appeared to be faultless, caused an awkward smile to unintentionally appear on the archduchess’s lips as even she apparently hadn’t expected that answer.
“Oh, that option existed as well, huh～?”
“As might be expected, I don’t really feel like doubting my own brain. So let’s first check whether our eyes work normally.”
“U-Umm, you two? It’s just a guess, but…I think your eyes work normally, okay…?” Giliel butted into the conversation between Renya and the archduchess, who were looking at each other while smiling, with an apologetic expression.
Both the archduchess and Renya glared at Giliel as if asking her what she was blathering about. Overpowered by their looks, Giliel retreated once more, but then tightly clenched her fists as if to motivate herself, and spoke up once more, “Everyone, your eyes are working without any problems. It might be confusing due to the excessive suddenness, but my name is Giliel, the one currently managing this world and the one who was formerly in charge of protecting the Lost Kunugi Renya-san.”
“Eh～? Aww, geeze, Renya-san. Did you hit on such a cute girl before making a move on our Shion-chan～?”
“How about not slandering others? This has nothing to do with me.”
“Why have things turned out like this!? I beg you, please listen to me properly!!” Giliel yelled what sounded close to a desperate scream.
While wondering whether those were words a being calling herself a goddess ought to use towards humans, the archduchess and Renya shrugged their shoulders at the same time, although it wasn’t as though they had arranged it in advance.