“Origa-san, you married that man after all…” (Hela)
Putting her elbow on the counter, the Orsongrande’s capital’s guild staff member Hela exhaled from her nose with a puff.
Doing this job for more than 20 years, she remembered about Origa, who became a slave before Hela realized it and the young man, who had slaughtered adventurers in front of her eyes. That Origa married the young man who had now become an Earl.
“Even Kasha-san…” (Hela)
The two who had always hunted monsters together and who even served the same master after becoming slaves. I wonder how it feels to bereave the other part as one of a pair who knew each other so well, she thought while twirling her red hair through her finger.
The story Hela heard was that Kasha lost her life in the battle with Vichy. I thought she was plenty strong, but I guess she was swallowed up by the madness of the battlefield.
What does Origa feel as her friend?
“Whatever, even if I think about it, I can’t help it anyway.” (Hela)
As staff member of the adventurer guild she knows many people who lost their lives due to an error in judgement or being in a slump. It’s good if they come back, even if it’s only as corpse. There are also countless people who were judged to be dead after having not returned or who ended up getting eaten by monsters.
People who were close to her, people who she didn’t know too well and people who leave or come wandering in, as far as Hela knows she has met them as adventurers. There’s also plenty people where she can’t even remember their faces anymore.
“Be that as it may, today I have spare time.” (Hela)
Since the capital has many people, one might consider that there’s many adventurers as well, but unexpectedly that’s not the case.
Given that there’s few monsters in the suburbs where the most people live, those are areas where, against expectations, the main body of the adventurers doesn’t earn much.
The majority of them are country bumpkins who were merely attracted by the big city, veteran fellows who are gathering expensive equipment and tools to go on an expedition and people who want to secure a certain level of convenient life.
The information about the brutalization of the monsters has come in, but that incident hasn’t spread its influence as far as the capital yet.
“Ara, it fits well that you are free right now.” (Origa)
“Ue!? O-Origa-sa… sama!?” (Hela)
The one who came calling out to her who was just about to doze off was the person who had come to her mind a bit earlier. The dress she is wearing and which was carefully sewn by using a high-quality-looking fabric was an attire far more noble-like than one could imagine.
Showing an impish smile, Origa greets Hela.
“It’s been a while. I’m relieved that you don’t seem to have changed. Besides, there’s no necessity to attach -sama to my name. It’s not like I’m a noble.” (Origa)
“T-Thank you.” (Hela)
Even if she says so, generally, if you marry a noble, it’s a custom to treat them the same like a noble. Seeing that even beloved concubines are treated with quite the politeness, it wasn’t like Hela could talk to her like a friend.
And even without that, with Origa regularly visiting the royal palace and occasionally staying there for several days, the story, that she is close to Queen Imeraria, was something many people in the capital knew of.
Being the wife of the hero and being on friendly terms with the queen, she cannot afford to not treat Origa as important person. She has ability and authority at her back after all.
“Ah, right, so Origa… -san, what kind of business do you have with me?” (Hela)
By no means you plan to act like a fake adventurer this late in the game, do you? This almost slipped out of Hela’s mouth but she held back on the frivolous talk.
“It’s information gathering. You know about the monsters’ transformation towards ferocity, right?” (Origa)
“Ah, so it’s about that?” (Hela)
Grabbing the documents which were piled up nearby with a “Heave-ho!”, she spreads those out on the counter.
Reports of various types are written on the parchments. They seem to be documents for the staff members to look through.
“I haven’t heard of it much in the vicinity of the capital. It’s at a level of adventurers who have gone on an expedition having seen those occasionally. Thanks to that it hasn’t become such a grave matter around this area.” (Hela)
“Is that so…?” (Origa)
Origa replied with a serious face while looking through one after the other document.
“Is there something bothering you?” (Hela)
“Someone might have orchestrated the brutalization of the monsters behind the scenes. There’s such a talk as well.” (Origa)
“No way.” (Hela)
The general understanding of monsters is that they form groups in the same way as wild animals and that this behaviour is something unrelated to being controlled. Even guild staff members, who are deeply involved with monsters albeit indirectly, have no differing knowledge.
“It might not be a laughing matter. For example, how do you explain this?” (Origa)
Extracting one paper from the bundle of documents, Origa quietly held it out to Hela.
The following is written on the report: “En route heading towards the direction of Vichy from the capital, a certain adventurer group was attacked by something similar to a human-shaped monster and two adventurers died. The survivors were forced to retire as well.”
It was a document which Hela saw and ended up putting to the pile of similar reports.
“Are those demons or new types of monster? At any rate, I believe that the work of the adventurer guild won’t proceed with the usual monster subjugation.” (Origa)
“Paying attention to peculiar information, contact the castle if something happens”, Origa requested Hela to pass that message on to the capital’s guild staff members.
“… Origa-san, do you know something?” (Hela)
“I haven’t yet grasped the circumstances, but it will be alright.” (Origa)
Once Hela asked while having cold sweat, Origa showed a smile.
“There’s a hero-sama in this world after all.” (Origa)
While the demons were continuing the offence and defence with the monsters, they constructed this city which was enclosed by a strong wall. As they polished their combat techniques, the magic each of them possesses and their special skills, they dreamed of some day leaving this small world.
For that reason, they emphasized on their unity with their friends in this area and built a stable system of monarchic rule. The battle with the monsters also serves as training for their revenge against the elves who are just beyond the barrier.
Originally the demons were hostile towards humans and beastmen, but being imprisoned in the barrier for a long time and as the generations changed, their hostile spirit towards humans and beastmen faded as there were extremely few opportunities to get in contact with either. All of their resentment was turned onto the elves.
The cylindrical space, which was created by the barrier, is plenty large to ensure food by hunting and gathering. Many monsters settled in here and the demons, catching those and eating them, had no issues if it was only about surviving.
However, the definite existence of a barrier certainly inflicted stress upon the hearts of the demons.
“Saying all that, this is the current situation of the demon race.” (Phegor)
“I see, I understood it properly. Thanks.” (Hifumi)
Along the way, Hifumi, who grasped the demons’ situation to a certain extent due to Phegor’s explanation, thanked Phegor honestly.
At first Phegor didn’t feel overly comfortable with disclosing the distress of the demons, however Hifumi, accepting the details as they were, didn’t react as if looking down on the demons nor did he behave cautiously.
It might be good for him to know about it as background information, he judged.
“You are a strange one. Just when I wondered whether you have a more dangerous gaze than ferocious monsters, you express your thanks without hesitation. I wonder what’s going on in that head of yours.” (Vepar)
“I ain’t strange in that regard at all. Don’t stare this way too much. It’s sickening.” (Hifumi)
“Wow, how sharp-tongued.” (Vepar)
Due to Vepar walking while laughing with a pleasant, high-pitched tone and asking “What’s weird?”, Phegor reprimands her to cut it out.
“We have reached the castle. Since there are fellows who idolize you, have a bit awareness of the looks in the surroundings.” (Phegor)
“How foolish. Even if they yearn for my smoothed outward appearance, it’s only troublesome. Overdoing it with their own niceties, they are yet unable to become my friends because they yearn for me.” (Vepar)
“As usual, you always have something to say…” (Phegor)
The place they reached could be called a white castle. It was a building made out of warm, solid, white stone.
It’s much smaller if compared to the royal castle of Orsongrande. Although it also has a height of around a 4-storey building and with it having the impression of being clean like the Himeji Castle, it gives an exactly opposite impression for being called the castle of the demons for Hifumi. Those were his thoughts.
“We don’t like overly exaggerated and gaudy things. However, I believe this castle is adequately beautiful.” (Phegor)
Phegor explains proudly while Vepar yawns.
“Even if we wanted to be pompous, there’s simply not enough materials and space. Well then, let’s go, human-san.” (Phegor)
Vepar tried to nonchalantly take Hifumi’s hand, but smoothly evading the outstretched hand, Hifumi advanced towards the castle gate on his own accord.
“If there’s something to talk, let’s finish it quickly. I’ve become hungry.” (Hifumi)
“Mmh, geeze.” (Vepar)
Neglecting Vepar who was swinging her fist in frustration, Phegor also headed towards the castle gate.
“Then let me treat you to a meal after the talk with the king. I definitely want you to savour the cooking of the castle’s dining hall. Come on, this way.” (Phegor)
The job of being the king’s aide seems to give a person quite the high ranking after all. In spite of him guiding Hifumi who’s a human, the gatekeepers, who saw Phegor’s face, opened the heavy-looking double-door gate without saying anything.
Once passing through the castle gate, a path, with a stone paving laid out, is stretching out directly ahead. It continues straight to the entrance of the castle which was wide open.
There are demons who seem to be soldiers on patrol in the surroundings. Seeing Phegor, they stop and give a small bow.
“It’s been a while since I came to the castle.” (Vepar)
Vepar, who caught up, muttered.
Generally there are many facilities for the army and standby areas in the city for the sake of dealing with the outside invaders, the monsters. It appears that she won’t approach the castle usually as she has no particular business here either.
Phegor, taking along Vepar who is spouting information Hifumi couldn’t care less about, climbed the stairways without hesitation and led Hifumi to a single room.
“Could you wait here? I will come back once I talked with the king.” (Phegor)
“Got it. It will be even better if there’s something to eat.” (Hifumi)
Laughing unintentionally, Phegor promised to have someone bring a light meal and left the room.
“So, why are you remaining here? Go and do your job.” (Hifumi)
“Ara, isn’t it bad to leave our important guest alone?” (Vepar)
Once Hifumi sits down on a sofa, Vepar, who sat down next to him without leaving any space between them, smiles sweetly.
“Which reminds me, there’s a kitchen in this room where simple drinks can be prepared.” (Vepar)
Saying that, Vepar swiftly prepared a drink, which has an aroma similar to coffee, and placed it in front of Hifumi. Holding a cup with her own share in both hands, she once again sits down next to him.
“There you go?” (Vepar)
Extending his left hand, Hifumi took the wooden cup. Once he breathes in the rising, hot steam, he senses a mixture of a coffee aroma and a smell similar to dried firewood. The mysterious scent is tickling his nasal cavities.
“I wonder whether humans don’t drink it much. Drying a tree with a nice aroma which can be harvested around here, it is made by pouring hot water onto it after roasting the wood until it turns pitch black. Although there are people who dislike it, I like it very much since it has a soothing aroma.” (Vepar)
While Vepar is talking, Hifumi drinks a mouthful.
The taste is just like coffee, but because its aroma is different, it feels like a completely different drink.
“You are quite unusual after all.” (Vepar)
Vepar, who has drunk a mouthful as well, put down the cup and laughed.
“Usually one would be more cautious and wouldn’t drink something even if offered. In spite of drinking that without any hesitation…” (Vepar)
Vepar’s sight turns towards between her and Hifumi.
There she saw Hifumi firmly grasping the suntetsu with his right hand. Its sharp, pointed end is obviously aimed at Vepar.
“Do you plan to attack me with this small weapon if I make some odd move? Good grief, I’m not even sure if you are simply cautious of me or if you have faith in me.” (Vepar)
“It’s different.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi, who gulped down another mouthful, exhaled with a “Fuu~” to let the heat flow out.
“I have no intention to attack you. I plan to kill you.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi’s gaze firmly captures Vepar’s eyes.
“Something like being too cautions of food and drinks is oppressive and I won’t do that. I generally realize if there’s ill will in play. If by some chance I was done in by poison I missed to notice, that would just mean it was my limit up to there.” (Hifumi)
“Then, this is?” (Vepar)
Pointing at the suntetsu, Vepar tilts her head to the side.
“If you are hostile, I want to kill you without fail, I guess? It’s not my hobby to spend time on tormenting someone. Although it’s at a level of you getting killed by me in the instant you consider harming me, that will also be my biggest pleasure. I won’t spare any effort for that cause. I’m more afraid of being unable to kill than dying.” (Hifumi)
“And, even if you did me in with poison, I would be able to savour the satisfaction of getting my revenge in an instant”, Hifumi said and drunk the rest remaining in the cup.
Vepar held her arms as if embracing herself and entrusted her body into the back of the sofa. And, flapping her feet like a child, she displays a joyful expression.
“Though it’s about killing someone else, you haven’t a shred of hesitation if you deem them as your enemy! Although it’s me saying this, I do believe that I understand the charm of my own appearance. Are you able to even kill such a young woman, I wonder?” (Vepar)
“I don’t particularly care.” (Hifumi)
With only those words, Vepar was convinced that Hifumi had already killed a young woman.
“You are wonderful! I want to see your appearance as you are fighting with someone by all means.” (Vepar)
He noticed that Vepar used the word “someone” and not monster, but Hifumi didn’t go out of his way to say anything about that.
At that point Phegor returned.
“Thank you for waiting. Since the king was as gracious to grant us some time, I’d like you to come, but… Vepar, why are you grinning broadly?” (Phegor)
“It’s nothing. Leaving that aside, I will take care of him. Since it’s probably the first time he came to this city, I will show him around various places.” (Vepar)
“That will save me the trouble.” (Phegor)
“Yes, leave it to me!” (Vepar)
Phegor felt uneasy about Vepar recklessly getting close to Hifumi, but since Hifumi’s reaction doesn’t seem to be unfavourable, he decided to leave it to her.
And, advancing to the floor further above by Phegor’s guidance, they entered through a remarkably large door. In front of Hifumi, who stepped into the hall-like room, there was the figure of a boy who spread both hands and stood up from the throne.
“Welcome, human! My name is Agathion. I’m the king ruling this city of the demons.” (Agathion)
Agathion, who swiftly descended the 5-ary stairs, had a whole-faced smile on his face which had a grey skin tone characteristic for demons. He walked up to in front of Hifumi without any hesitation.
There were several soldier-like people within the room, but none of them tries to stop him.
“I heard from Phegor. I never expected a human to pass through the barrier and to arrive at this city! This will certainly be a momentous meeting which will remain recorded in the history of the demons. For the present I shall welcome you!” (Agathion)
“Is it good to have absolutely no vigilance like that? I still haven’t said that I will cooperate with you. I might become your enemy.” (Hifumi)
“That’s fine.” (Agathion)
Agathion, who showed a slight darkening on his face, lowered his gaze.
“It’s alright for you to be our ally or enemy. No matter which way you choose, it will cause the “change” desired by me.” (Agathion)
Due to the unforeseen development, Hifumi pursed his lips and stared at Agathion.