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“Oh? Is there still something you’d like to know?” Giliel asked, obviously playing dumb, when Renya urged her to go on with the story.
However, Renya glared at her with his expression still grim. For a while Renya and Giliel kept a glaring contest going, but in the end it was Giliel who averted her eyes first.
“I believe that I’ve already told you most of what is to be known, though.”
“Just a moment ago, you mentioned that defeating the demon king would be the minimum requirement, right?”
In response to Renya’s retort, Giliel’s expression distorted faintly for such a tiny fraction of a moment that one wouldn’t notice the change unless they were carefully scrutinizing her face. Going by that reaction, Renya concluded that Giliel was still hiding something, and when he put pressure on Giliel with an even scarier expression, she finally caved in.
“It’s something I don’t really want to talk about, you know?”
“Just get on with it and spit out everything. That way should still be much better than us not having heard about it later on.”
“Does the sight of a beautiful girl puking turn you on, Renya-san?” Giliel revealed a nasty grin.
Hearing the metallic clicking of the mouth of Renya’s katana, which he silently pulled out alongside the scabbard in a deliberately obvious way, Giliel waved her hands in panic and shook her head to hold back Renya.
“I’ll talk! I’ll tell you everything so calm down, okay?”
“Listen girl, if you don’t limit your jokes, I’ll really turn you into a filet.” Renya snarled while pushing the katana’s blade back into its scabbard.
Giliel answered him with an insincere smile.
The sight of a being that could be described as a goddess being threatened by a human wasn’t anything you’d be usually able to witness even if you wished for it, and thus the faces of everyone else present cramped up as they wondered whether it was really fine for them to watch this. But, considering it from the fact that they wanted to extract as much information out of Giliel as possible under the current circumstances, all of them didn’t comment on it while pushing everything on Renya and resigning themselves to his ways as they didn’t have any other means but leaving it to him.
“I’ll tell you, but don’t you already have a rough idea anyway?”
Gliel chose the method of answering a question with a question. Renya limited his response to a short snort. No one could tell how Giliel had interpreted Renya’s reaction, but either way, Giliel continued with her explanation just as requested.
“It’s no lie that you need to defeat the demon king at the very least, but that doesn’t mean that everything will be over with just that.”
“Are you～ saying there’s still～ something else we’d need to do～?”
Giliel nodded at the archduchess’s question, “I let it peek through in what I’ve told you so far, but there’s a mastermind behind all the current troubles.”
“No way, I hope you as our goddess are not telling us to kill a god by ourselves, are you?”
Due to the fearful words of the elven emperor, Giliel remained silent for a bit to sort her thoughts.
“Well, to be precise, he’s the supervisor of the demons. But for you people it might be no more than a difference in naming.”
Killing a god. Those three words cast gloom on the faces of everyone other than Renya.
Killing the demon king was still fine. Until now, demon kings had appeared and got killed in this world many times across history. Heroes also existed for that very reason.
But, things changed completely when it came to killing a god. In the first place, records of a god having been killed didn’t exist anywhere on this world, and thus they didn’t have any information how to actually kill a god and where to find them.
The feelings of the inhabitants of this world on this matter could be summed up with them being at a complete loss, even when told to kill an opponent who was so powerful that it remained unclear whether the heroes’ powers would actually work on such an opponent.
“Then again, I intend to somehow handle the supervisor from my side.” Giliel added in this gloomy atmosphere while scratching her head. “But even in that case, I’d still like all of you to take care of the demon king on this side.”
Giliel frowned at the question of the beastman queen, “You know about the barrier which Renya and his party broke when entering the demon country, right? Actually something similar to that has been deployed in our domain as well. Its origin very likely must be…”
“The demon king of this world, you mean?”
Once Renya voiced out his own thoughts as continuation of Giliel’s explanation, Giliel nodded gravely.
“Of course it’s not like I wouldn’t be able to break through that barrier, but as it’d require a significant amount of power to do so, it’s possible that it’d chip away too much of my power, possibly resulting in me suffering an embarrassing defeat against the demon supervisor once things reach that point.”
“You’re unexpectedly weak, aren’t you?”
Renya had merely tried to honestly state his unadorned impression, but for Giliel that didn’t seem to be very amusing, which explained why she was currently glaring at him while grinding her teeth in vexation.
Thinking about it normally, a goddess glaring at you couldn’t lead to a good outcome, but Renya remained calm, completely unperturbed by it.
“If you say that you won’t have confidence in beating that demon supervisor or whatever he is, if you have to destroy the barrier, then so be it. It simply means that this series of incidents won’t settle unless we manage to somehow deal with that barrier ourselves.”
“We don’t have any objections～ in regard to defeating the demon king～”
“Our side is fine with that as well.”
“Us as well.”
Now that the three highest authorities, ruling over the forces still remaining intact, had agreed to it, it could basically be seen as the consensus of the whole world. The dragonoids and demons had been left out, but since the demons were the race with the demon king to begin with, no one would ask for their opinion anyway, and the dragonoids had to fight for their own survival with the outcome still not clear as of yet.
“In that case we just need to consider how to defeat the demon king, but…that brings us back to our initial topic, doesn’t it?”
Renya had completely forgotten about it because of Giliel’s appearance, but one of the matters the three rulers had brought up with him was the current world’s military forces being somewhat too lacking to actually defeat the demon king. Even though the elven forces still were in a good state, the military forces of the humans, excluding the Trident Principality, couldn’t be counted on for the most part, and close to 40% of the beastmen army would be unable to fight right away. On top of that, the contact to the dragonoids had broken off altogether.
In short, the total available military forces had been reduced by far more than half, compared to the past military forces that had carried out the demon king subjugation. The number of heroes had luckily remained at four thanks to Emil’s appearance, but it was hard to believe that all of this would be enough for them to pass through the Miasma Forest and defeat the demon king.
“It’s not like people are growing on fields either.”
—————- End of Part 1 —————-
“Even if you make them, they require almost two decades to become usable.” The elven emperor responded to the remark Renya had spat out with a sigh.
Everyone’s gazes – colored with criticism because of the inhumanity of his statement – focused on the emperor, but the elven emperor himself nonchalantly warded those looks off, barking, “I’m just stating the truth here!”
“In a rather blunt way, though.”
Even Renya couldn’t bring himself to outright deny the emperor’s point. Considering it rationally, while excluding the emotional side, this reality was indeed a problem standing in their way. A method to replenish the greatly decreased numbers of soldiers within a brief interval of time wasn’t available.
“If this was a game, you could have replenished the soldiers out of thin air by merely paying money though.”
“Reality remains just that – reality. Please spare us the absurd ideas.”
Giliel was the only one reacting to Renya’s grumbling.
“An option like filling the ranks with homunculi that went through a growth boost is unrealistic as well, I suppose?” Emil suddenly came up with a rather disturbing suggestion.
Everyone stared at her with startled looks due to the very demonic idea. Noticing that, Emil shook her head with a bitter smile, “Even then we’d still need a cultivation plant for them. It’d also require a considerable amount of time, and we’d need to procure the necessary materials.”
“Would it be alright for me to ask what materials you’re talking about here, just for reference?”
“That’s…let’s see…35 liters of water, 20 kg carbon…”
“Ah, it’s fine. No need to go on as it completely smells of danger anyway.”
After stopping Emil, who had started to list the materials constituting a human body with a serious face, in the middle, Renya pondered.
No matter how I think about it, it’s going to be impossible to get the missing military forces from somewhere. However, given that we won’t be able to reach the demon king’s place without getting those military forces, it means the demon king’s subjugation will remain a pipe dream.
“Isn’t that a checkmate then?”
“I’d love～ to see you handle it～ one way or another, Renya-san～ How about you～ fight the demon king～ by yourself, or something like that～?”
“Don’t be unreasonable.”
Renya’s reply seemed to be quite unexpected to her, seeing how the archduchess yelped reflexively with a flabbergasted expression. Maybe because they weren’t the ones who had mentioned that proposal, the emperor and queen hadn’t been driven into a situation where they’d raise such a strange voice, but as they were apparently surprised by that revelation just as much, both fixedly stared at Renya’s face.
“The opponent is a demon king, okay? A demon king! There’s no way I could somehow handle him by myself, is there?”
“I totally feel～ like it’d somehow～ work out though～”
Everyone nodded repeatedly, including even Giliel, but Renya himself remained unimpressed.
“Even if we assume that I could somehow handle him myself, I’m not really willing to do so.”
“Could you～ tell us why～?”
“The demon king is a being of this world, and the heroes exist in order to defeat him, right? As an outsider, I don’t feel like intervening in a situation, where the roles are clearly set.”
If I kill the demon king myself, I’ll steal the role of the heroes who were supposed to do it originally. If it looks like the damage is going to spread to my direct vicinity, I won’t hesitate to get rid of all the sparks, but things should follow their intended procedures while being handled by those who are tasked with it.
Those were Renya’s thoughts on the matter.
“In short, you’re telling us that we must plan a way to somehow drop the demon king’s main body right in front of your nose, Renya-dono?”
“If you do that, he’ll perish alongside you and the elven country.”
“Though I believe～ the damage will only magnify with you being like that, Renya-san～ as we’re already in a situation where we～ lack military forces anyway～”
“It’s not like I’m saying I won’t help you at all. If you can’t get it done yourself, no matter what, I’ll lend you a hand. But, asking me to do something about it from the very start is unreasonable and misdirected, don’t you think?”
In the eyes of this world, the human called Kunugi Renya was an outsider. No matter how much power that outsider might possess. And even if he were able to defeat the demon king while keeping the damage as low as possible if he did it while using that power.
“Wouldn’t even the heroes lose their place in such a case?”
Renya argued that the chosen ones would lose face if they became useless because they got an outsider to defeat a demon king, despite them having been appointed as heroes to defeat the demon king. The people of this world placed many hopes and wishes on the title of hero. Thus Renya didn’t think that they’d readily accept to transfer those hopes and wishes to someone else just because another being that seemed to be more powerful existed.
“First, have the heroes depart and fight the demon king. That’s the order of things, right?”
“That’s～…certainly not wrong～”
“Kinda like a sound argument that doesn’t allow any objection.”
“Renya-dono, your opinion is very reasonable. It looks like we have taken things too lightly.”
The races’ leaders voiced their opinions, but among them, the emperor immediately asked Renya, “But Margrave, could we have you cooperate with the demon king subjugation as one of the inhabitants living on this world? How about it if you look at it like that?”
“Of course…I’m going to cooperate. Even I’d be troubled if the demon king were to throw his weight around any longer.” Renya answered the emperor while he felt like an alarm bell began to ring in a corner of his mind.
Among the three leaders present here, Renya was the most wary of the elven emperor. On top of not quite knowing what that man was thinking, Renya regarded his cunning as being on a completely different level, incomparable to the other two, probably because he had spent extremely many years reigning as emperor.
When that very emperor immediately retorted after Renya had shown his acknowledgment, Renya judged that he likely hadn’t been wrong in remaining vigilant of him.
“What would that cooperation entail? You surely won’t say that you hate getting your hands dirty while coercing us into bleeding ourselves out, right?”
“What is it you want to say?” Renya tried to find out the emperor’s aim before the situation could take a weird turn.
“Nothing special. Even if we continue talking any longer in this place, it’s not like some good ideas will appear right away. Therefore, us three, as rulers entrusted with many lives, must knead a plan to somehow get the heroes to the demon king’s castle.”
“Well, that makes sense, but what about it?”
“Don’t you think it’s only natural that we will form our plan while keeping your cooperation in mind to add it to our planning?”
Renya judged that the emperor hadn’t said anything odd as of yet. No matter what thoughts Renya might harbor about the idea of him fighting the demon king, the fact of Renya possessing a tremendous amount of mana and means of attack that would likely work against anything was something he couldn’t deny. Of course their planning would completely change depending on the presence or absence of Renya’s cooperation. This line of reasoning made sense to Renya.
“However, if we form a plan and announce it publicly, just to have you reject it, it’d make the whole planning meaningless. Therefore I thought we should ascertain your level of cooperation here and now, but…would it be fine for me to assume that you’d lend us your full assistance, except for fighting the demon king personally?”
The first question coming to Renya was what the emperor intended to make him do. To all appearances the emperor was obviously plotting to have Renya do something specific.
But, even if I directly ask him about his aim, he’ll very likely repel it by answering that they’re going to think about it from now on, Renya assessed. Hence he considered whether he should deny cooperation altogether, but even Renya was doubtlessly on the side of those opposing the demon king. If he were to reject the emperor’s words at this point, he’d likely lose all justification to complain if the others accused him of colluding with the demon king.
“If it’s within range of what I can handle.”
In the end, after having thought it over, Renya limited it to a reply that seemed to be the safest of all available options. It was a reply that also implied that it’d trouble Renya if they asked him to do something impossible, but in response the elven emperor became all smiles.
Renya started to immediately feel regret that he might have failed in handling it smartly, but now that he had said it out loud, he couldn’t take it back, leaving Renya with nothing but a bad premonition.
“Well then, we shall consider our plan from now on. Could we have everyone else step outside for the time being?”
“I’ll return to my domain. Please contact me through Renya-san if you have any business with me.” Giliel left those words and immediately vanished in a flash of light.
Taking Shion and Emil with him while thinking that he was no messenger boy and wondering what to think about a goddess who would come at one’s beck and call in regards to religious matters, Renya tried to leave the room, but was called out by the elven emperor from behind.
“Make sure to not forget your previous answer, okay?”
Renya felt a strong desire to hide himself somewhere until everything was over due to his bad premonition which just got much worse.
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