Below the starry sky that had the strong presence of the moon and the stars, Zef and I had met alone.
‘Let’s meet with just the two of us’, was the proposition of Zef.
Thinking about the contents of what I wanted to ask this time, I felt like there was no problem, so I accepted the proposal.
“How many years has it been since this one has been alone with an outsider -no, how many decades has it been? It feels like this one has returned to my long past self, how nostalgic, and also fresh. What a mysterious feeling.” (Zef)
“I would have been fine with going to the capital though.” (Makoto)
“Sorry about that. When inviting someone to our place, there’s a lot of matters involved. Raidou-dono is an important guest of ours, and you are also a benefactor of ours. There’s no way we wouldn’t meet you. It took us to our limit just rearranging so this one could meet you as soon as possible.” (Zef)
Zef laughs with his usual smile that I can’t see through.
But his atmosphere is slightly different from when I met him because of the matters of the demon race.
We are outside after all.
“…And so, you had something to ask of this one, right? What do you want to hear? The secret weapon of the demon race? Or maybe, the time of our next invasion? Is it an objective like that?” (Zef)
“I have no interest in things like that. Please don’t make fun of me.” (Makoto)
In the first place, there’s no way there’s a person who would ask the Demon Lord himself about that.
Saying such a joke with a face as obvious as that, seriously, what a troublesome person.
“Hahaha! No interest huh. If you were to obtain a bit of information, you would be able to use it for trades you know, being a merchant and all. There should be a good amount of people that would believe it if it were to come out from the mouth of Raidou-dono, right? It is not like the hyumans are filled with only idiots after all.” (Zef)
“Please spare me already. I am not going to undertake complicated business like selling information.” (Makoto)
“So you won’t ride on it huh. What a shame. This one was going to mix truth and lies to throw them off though.” (Zef)
Zef laughs with a ‘Kukuku’.
Please don’t use me to sell your poisonous apples…
“If I were to do that, I would totally turn into the enemy of hyumans. It is not like I am in the side of the hyumans, but I am not in the side of the demon race either. Neither me nor the Kuzunoha Company.” (Makoto)
“This one knows. This one was just trying to see if you would yield a bit to our side, that’s all. Forgive me. By the way Raidou-dono, how’s Sari?” (Zef)
“Fuh~, Sari huh. Well, it seems like she is getting somewhat used to it now.” (Makoto)
“Hoh, so you are already in a relationship where you call her without honorifics. This one’s relieved… Have you done it?” (Zef)
“What do you mean by ‘done’?” (Makoto)
“Umu, is she pregnant already?” (Zef)
“What’s wrong?” (Zef)
“What are you saying? You are the father of Sari, right?!” (Makoto)
“Yeah, and Raidou-dono is the master of Sari. This one thinks it is a natural question.” (Zef)
The face of Zef was frankly saying ‘what are you getting all flustered about?’.
Why is it that when it comes to slaves, there’s so many people that think in that way?
There’s also slaves that simply work.
“She is not pregnant. There’s no reason for her to be in the first place.” (Makoto)
“This one didn’t think she was a girl that would be against it just because it is her first time though.” (Zef)
“I’m saying this just in case but, I haven’t sought for her.” (Makoto)
“What? Raidou-dono, as a young man, holding back your sexual desires won’t bring anything good, you know?” (Zef)
“That’s truly not your business.” (Makoto)
Why does the Demon Lord have to worry about that?
Moreover, the person he is telling me to put my hands on is his very daughter.
What a troublesome king.
“Even though this one was secretly expecting a grandchild around summer. Wouldn’t it just end up as this one jumping to conclusions?” (Zef)
“That’s the case.” (Makoto)
Zef looks as if he is really disappointed about it.
If he is just acting, then that sad sigh is in an incredible level.
“Anyways, Sari is doing fine.” (Makoto)
“Understood. Then…” (Zef)
“I have not placed a single hand on her, and I haven’t kissed her either!” (Makoto)
“No, I was just going to ask you what business you had today. Also, if she presses you, at least grant her a kiss.” (Zef)
“…Ah, geez.” (Makoto)
Why is it that I feel his face on the latter half had become even more serious.
“You went through the trouble of making an appointment with a Lord, so a part of me is looking forward to what kind of conversation you had in mind.” (Zef)
“Well then, there’s two things I want to ask you. The first is related to Kaleneon, and the other, how to say it…let’s just say it is related to the demon race.” (Makoto)
“It seems like it would be best to begin with the talk about Kaleneon.” (Zef)
“Right now, the town creation is progressing in the aforementioned land.” (Makoto)
“But the current state is that the people are not used to the climate and it is not progressing as expected. And so, I have come to ask of a demon that has survived through the harsh cold about the management of the land, development of it, and about the maintenance.” (Makoto)
“I see. But, Kaleneon huh. It is a land that has half-baked cold and snow if I remember correctly. I don’t think it would serve as much of a reference you know.” (Zef)
“But even in an ice field like this, the demon race was able to build a metropolis like that. Won’t you guys have some sort of knowledge about it? I am fine with only a bit, can you tell me about a solution?” (Makoto)
“Fufufu. Raidou-dono, even if we were to tell you the method itself and learn of the result it has brought, it doesn’t mean that you would be able to apply it in a sufficient manner. If you don’t know of its roots as well, you will end up in a dead end.” (Zef)
“I see…” (Makoto)
I want to do something about the strong blizzards that will be coming in the near future, so even if we can’t put it to practical use, it is fine for now.
“From what I know, Kaleneon is in a region we don’t have much experience in managing either. If it were in a harsher environment, we would cover it with a dome-shaped barrier, and would live in a lifestyle centered on hunting. But just as I said, that place is half-baked. The difference between summer and winter is so extreme that it actually makes it hard for us to live in.” (Zef)
It is certainly true that in Kaleneon, in the place where the town is located, the snow is gone by the time it is summer.
It is true that it is half-baked, but even so, as long as there’s land where cultivation is possible, I feel like there would be significance for the demon race in having people live in it.
If it were Limia, there would be a lot of land to talk about; why is it that they are expressly staying in a harsh land?
“In Kaleneon there was a fortress of the demon race and an army. Then wouldn’t you also know about the way they lived?” (Makoto)
“If it’s only on the level of gathering and hunting, yeah. If you are in need of that information, I will present it to you. But if you have taken a look around, I think you should already know; in Kaleneon, aside from the fortress, there were no proper towns, right? Also, in terms of inhabitants and common people, the numbers should have been quite low.” (Zef)
“Yeah. I heard that there were mostly people related to the army. Also, there was nothing resembling a town, and what was given maintenance was mostly the main road.” (Makoto)
“That’s right. This one felt like the Kaleneon fortress would one day be necessary as a relay location, so this one had people stationed there, but this one didn’t have any intentions of having a settlement in the impending future. It was mostly goods and troops using it as a teleportation spot to mobilize. It is sad that it can’t be used again though.” (Zef)
I am the one who seized the place, so I know that I am not in a standing where I can complain.
I feel like he had gotten me there.
…Just like how Zef said, the only place that seemed to be useable as a town in Kaleneon was the fortress.
There were a number of remains from villages and towns, but they were all from hyumans. They were destroyed pretty thoroughly, and it didn’t feel like it could be used in that state.
And the remains of the fortress are being used as the capital city of Kaleneon because of our own circumstances regarding the climate of Asora, so it is in the middle of being remade as a town.
The reason why the demon race was not treating Kaleneon as a country was probably because of what Zef said.
“…I see. So that place didn’t have enough appeal to go through the trouble of creating a dome barrier.” (Makoto)
I have seen it in the demon race towns. Those things require quite the amount of magic power.
It is not realistic to do it in Kaleneon as well.
If I don’t find some sort of closing countermeasure for the people living in that town, there’s no point.
“Sadly to say, that’s exactly right. With its location and climate, we didn’t find the worth of fighting again to reclaim it. The snow is a troublesome thing you see. If ignored, it will bury the paths, and crush the houses. Even so, just going by the simple method of melting it with heat will instead freeze it and become a new hindrance. If we are to go through the trouble of doing such maintenance, there’s the need of a merit that’s equally worth its demerits.” (Zef)
“The decision this one arrived to was to leave a few facilities there and leave it is it is.” (Zef)
“I see. Just in case, can I receive the information about the gathering and hunting?” (Makoto)
“Okay. It is already unneeded for us after all. Right, it would make this one happy if you were to put some flavor and hasten the time you commence the peddling in our towns.” (Zef)
“I will arrange for that.” (Makoto)
I don’t think there will be a problem in hastening the process.
To begin with, I have already hastened the preparations, so there’s no need for me to arrange anything anyways.
No, that’s not it.
They are already in a haste, so I simply don’t need to worry about it.
“Then let’s hear the other thing you had to talk about. It seems like that’s your real motive after all.” (Zef)
“You had the time for it. You should already have the contents of your topic arranged, right?” (Zef)
“…Let me ask your Majesty. If the reason for the demon race to fight the hyumans disappears, will the demon race stop doing war?” (Makoto)
“Can I have an answer?” (Makoto)
“…Of course, we would stop it. But Raidou-dono, that question is boundlessly pointless.” (Zef)
Zef who had broken the silence, let out a voice that was low and heavy.
He affirmed my question, but he also said it was pointless.
“What do you mean?” (Makoto)
“It is certainly true that if the reason the demon race does war against the hyumans disappears, the war will be stopped. But for that reason to disappear, it would also mean that the battle between hyumans and demons has reached some sort of conclusion. That’s why this one said it is pointless.” (Zef)
The reason disappearing…is equal to reaching a conclusion?
The demon race is oppressed by the Goddess and is being oppressed by the hyumans too, and because of that, they were driven to the poor lands of the north.
The rebellion that came from that should be because the demon race wanted to topple over the situation the Goddess had driven them into.
In that case, if the demon race obtains a wealthy land, the reason of the war should disappear.
Isn’t that right?
For example; a place in Kaleneon that has been improved, the demon race territory that is progressing with the domestic affairs, and also…maybe Asora.
It is not because I want to do this for the sake of the Goddess, but if those kind of things can stop the war, cooperating would be okay.
Honestly speaking, the current Hibiki is dangerous.
If the war continues, I think Senpai will probably lose her life at some point in time.
Then, I thought that it would be fine to give a part of Asora to the demon race.
Also, the moment the demon race enters Asora, they would have to agree and be involved with us no matter what.
Putting it badly, we can isolate them.
“I heard that the demon race began the war because they sought for a wealthy land. A rebellion because of the position they were in. Then, couldn’t it be said that the demon race has obtained a land with plenty enough wealth? In the current state, I think you can have a truce with the hyumans. The demon race has been able to proceed the war in an advantageous position after all.” (Makoto)
If needed, I can help in encouraging them to accept it.
The negotiation will be hard with the heroes of Limia and Gritonia fighting in the frontlines, but if it’s with the good-for-nothing country Aion that only has spies and Lorel Union which is an eccentric country that accepts Wise, I feel like the negotiations might be possible.
If there’s a country that nods even if a bit, I think there can be ways to tackle the situation.
“Regarding the land, it is just as Raidou-dono says. We were able to obtain a wealthy land. But…the Goddess and the hyumans still have power left. If we were to enter negotiations in the current state, it would be like asking them to gather up their strength and counterattack.” (Zef)
“Even so, the demon race has plenty enough power, right?” (Makoto)
“If you are saying that by looking at the current progress of the war, that’s a big mistake, Raidou-dono. Listen well, even if you stand in an advantageous position in tactics and technique at the beginning, even if not all, a part of it will flow into the opponent as the battle progresses. Right now when they are obtaining proper divine protection from the Goddess, the hyumans who surpass us in numbers will absorb the advantage. Our positions would take a reversal.” (Zef)
“No way.” (Makoto)
“The power of a God and the overwhelming difference in numbers; those two are not components that are as light as Raidou-dono thinks. Our current situation can be said to be its summit. Restraining the power of the Goddess and seeing through them to a certain limit, we do war with the hyumans. Doing this in the same way as we have until now is just…” (Zef)
The latter half of his words were as if he were squeezing them out. Zef’s eyes were giving off a sad light.
“You are saying that’s why you won’t stop the war?”(Makoto)
“We thought about killing our hateful sibling while the parent wasn’t present, but in the end, we didn’t make it in time, and the parent came out.” (Zef)
“That’s why we have no choice but to be cautious about the eyes of the parent as we have a moderated sibling fight. Now then, Raidou-dono, what do you think we should do in order to somehow kill that sibling?” (Zef)
“Ehm…In the first place, should you kill each other in a sibling fight? I just can’t imagine it.” (Makoto)
“That’s right. It is a sibling fight where the siblings hate each other to the point of killing. By the way, the parent is the ally of the other side.” (Zef)
“Sorry, I can’t bring myself to imagine it.” (Makoto)
“I see. Even if we were to kill the other side in an ingenious manner, that’s a death that the parent didn’t wish for; and even if we both were to shake hands with fake smiles plastered on our faces, the hatred between those two siblings won’t disappear. Well, in the end, no matter how many reasons we look for to do war, the main point would be that, is what this one thinks. And in reality, it has become a big reason of why us demon race continue to do war. The reason regarding the environment was simply the last push, but the thoughts in the depths of our hearts probably hasn’t changed at all since the beginning.” (Zef)
The Goddess is the parent, and the hyumans and demons are the siblings.
“Hate huh. As I thought, the Goddess is the root of it all.” (Makoto)
“That’s true, but no matter what the Goddess does this late in the game, the gap that has formed between the hyumans and the demons won’t disappear. For the demons, and for the hyumans as well; and of course, this one who told Raidou-dono about the disadvantages of the truce, is the same as well. Because this one thinks that that gap can only be filled with the blood of our opponents.” (Zef)
“…Are you saying you haven’t killed enough?” (Makoto)
“That’s right. Of course, there’s also the transition of the war’s state just like this one explained, but stating it in an extreme manner, that’s simply a front. We have already pushed aside the restraints of our parent the Goddess and swung our fists, so until we have spat out all our hate and flooded the ground with the blood of the hyumans, the demon race won’t stop.” (Zef)
“As a ruler, the thought of Raidou-dono can be considered as one choice. There’s probably rulers who would choose it. If it’s a kind ruler, they would definitely. But there’s also rulers that won’t choose that…rulers who can’t choose to do that. Just like this one…this one’s current self…if many of my people wish for it, this one won’t stop the war.” (Zef)
“…What do you think…I was thinking?” (Makoto)
Even though it was calm, the light inside the eyes of Zef felt like they could see through me.
There’s no way he would be able to know.
Because no one knows about the existence of Asora.
“Raidou-dono can prepare a new land for us demons, right? Maybe in the extremities of the wasteland, or it might be a place we don’t know of that is located somewhere at the other side of the north or west sea. This one doesn’t know that far, but you plan on having the demon race migrate from this continent, and you were wondering if it can end the war in this way, isn’t that what you were thinking?” (Zef)
You gotta be kidding, right?
Even to the point of readying a land, how?
I did think he would be able to guess till the point of helping out in the negotiations of the truce, but…
“Bull’s-eye huh. How scary. The Raidou-dono that said he didn’t have any interest in the war, seemed to have investigated about the reason of the war in detail after all, so this one just intended to probe a bit. Good grief, the eyes of Sari are impressive. A self-sufficient company huh. I see. If it’s only that, it can’t be called a country just yet, but…it can be said that it is already an organization that has surpassed the boundary of a company.” (Zef)
A self-sufficient company?
No, right now the important point is why he can’t accept the migration.
“…Why…wouldn’t you choose that?” (Makoto)
“Just as you said before, hate. Even if we were to receive that proposal, only a few would accept. Ah, there’s no doubt that the bunch who were involved in that incident will be mixed in the group. If Raidou-dono wants to propose it no matter what, this one can notify the people. Having our people chipped off will result in a pretty big disadvantage in the war, but when this one thinks of turning Kuzunoha Company into our enemy, this is for the best.” (Zef)
That incident…the one where Root did a mess?
In that case, he must be talking about the people that wholeheartedly believe in the Goddess even in that environment and situation.
That’s honestly rough.
Frankly speaking, I feel like their train of thoughts is different in a fundamental level.
“The believers of the Goddess, is it. How to say it, they are people with quite the assertion for peace huh. The type of people that think the opponent won’t attack as long as they hold their hands up high in surrender. It was also strange that they were so zealously trying to make the demon race -they are a part of- into the bad guys.” (Makoto)
“If the hyumans were like that, it would be easier to win though. Even this one doesn’t understand how their brain works. Do they even know what would happen if we were to declare ourselves as slaves to the hyumans that have been treating the demi-humans as a lower class for thousands of years and consider it common sense?” (Zef)
Ah, in that part, I am completely of the same opinion.
“Right. Well, regarding the land, it is not all advantages, so if it handicaps the demon race because of it, please just forget about it. I didn’t have those intentions.” (Makoto)
“Hahaha, that scare about them being mixed in there was just a joke. Of course, there are people within the demon race that are purely against the war. It is true that they are low in numbers, but it is people that have been tired out by this air of war that has lasted for decades. People that have grown tired of fighting, people that have grown tired of losing any more, people that have grown tired of taking away lives…many types of people.” (Zef)
“I see.” (Makoto)
Well, there’s obviously people like that.
It is certainly true that being within a group where the majority agree to the war, it would just be suffocating for people like that.
“Not believers of the Goddess, simply tired of the war and wishing for peace. This one doesn’t want to just cast them away. If it won’t be a source of evil in the system of the demon race, this one doesn’t mind having them saved at this one’s discretion. Currently, there are around 10 or so people that have a decent amount of authority, how about it?” (Zef)
“Even if you ask me that…what do you mean by having authority?” (Makoto)
“Giving the demon race land. In other words, Sari has been of decent help, so this time, you want to directly take in people to the company; that’s the real motive of Raidou-dono, right? Something like that, even this one is able to guess it. There’s no need to hide it. This one is genuinely happy about having the abilities of my race approved. The part about authority, it refers to the people that this one has to deal with in a near future. Well, it simply means that if you are thinking about saving them, it is best to hurry.” (Zef)
A few moments ago I thought he was incredibly keen, but now he has gone and done a wild pitch.
I am not really looking for the demon race’s techniques and knowledge, you know?
I did understand the point about authority though.
‘Their voices are big and conspicuous, so they have to be dealt with’, is probably what he meant. People that in the surface are obedient, but hold opposing feelings. If it is people that don’t have the ability to oppose the methods of the Demon Lord, there’s no need to hurry and deal with them, is what I think he means.
“No. I wouldn’t mind having more hands to work with, but…I simply thought that if this was enough to end the war, it wouldn’t be so bad.” (Makoto)
“…Half of it was just a front, right?” (Zef)
“Uhm, those were my whole real intentions.” (Makoto)
“Your Majesty?” (Makoto)
Zef turned silent.
“…You got me there. It seems like Raidou-dono has a thought pattern that this one can’t grasp. This one is ashamed. Placing everything under the basis of advantages and disadvantages as well as calculations, might be considered the influence of these times.” (Zef)
It felt like he was having a monologue. He muttered in a weak and grazed voice.
“Ahahaha, I am often told that I do things in ways that lack common sense. Especially lately.” (Makoto)
“There’s no need to be ashamed of lacking common sense. We are basically fighting the hyumans because of that. But this one understands now. Then, if that’s the case…won’t you please take those guys in?” (Zef)
“The 10 or so demons?” (Makoto)
If it’s only around that much, I don’t really mind. Moreover, if they are not believers of the Goddess and are simply tired of war, I feel like it is okay.
“Umu. From this one’s point of view, it is like this one is having you take care of the trouble for me, so it hurts a bit to ask you of this though. If the precedent of Raidou-dono and Sari didn’t exist, it wouldn’t have been a choice to begin with after all. If there’s work over there, you can have them work as colleagues of Sari, or if you want, you can have them in house arrest or confine them, this one doesn’t mind. If you wish to, this one can also limit it to only women.” (Zef)
“Please stop taking all subjects to that tangent.” (Makoto)
“So as long as they can work, the gender doesn’t matter huh. This was a verbal slip then.” (Zef)
“Regarding that matter, I will go back and discuss about it. Just that…even if I am to accept them all, I will have them go through the same contract as Sari.” (Makoto)
I obviously don’t think that because they are demons I can trust them.
“They are technically being exiled, so this one doesn’t mind. If they stay within the demons, their future would be even worse after all. But to go through that contract, we will require a part of Raidou-dono’s body. Is it okay if we are to receive cooperation in that?” (Zef)
“…The master won’t be me. If it is demons, I will have Sari take care of them, so it is fine if she is the master. Of course, it still hasn’t been decided yet.” (Makoto)
“…Raidou-dono, you are truly someone this one can’t grasp the depth of.” (Zef)
“Reading too deeply into things, reading my mind, and while at it, using the Kuzunoha Company to deal with troublesome people; I think that the depth of your Majesty is the one that is hard to grasp. Seriously.” (Makoto)
“…In the first place, Raidou-dono and this one can’t be compared. My depth is limited after all.” (Zef)
“No, nothing. This one is expecting a good response. But to act as a Lord with someone that is leagues higher and whimsical, my nerves can’t take it, seriously.” (Zef)
“Your Majesty?” (Makoto)
The only thing I could hear was ‘No, nothing’, but it seems like Zef found something funny and was laughing.
“Then Raidou-dono, this one will be waiting for your call in a near future. It is okay to call whenever you feel like it.” (Zef)
“Ah, yes. Thanks for going through the trouble of coming all the way here.” (Makoto)
“Please give my regards to Sari.” (Zef)
Zef was enveloped in a sphere he created with magic, and just like that, he floated up and flew away.
When I checked the surroundings, I could see that there’s a large mamono in standby not too far from here, so he will probably be flying until that point.
From there, he will mount the mamono and move to where the teleport formation is, and in that way, he will return.
Even so, Asora wasn’t exposed, but the offer of land was exposed huh.
Are rulers the kind of people that can tell those kind of things?
I didn’t feel that way in Limia, so maybe it doesn’t apply to all.
I don’t know what it is, but I feel like Zef is different.
“A war where they kill and are killed is not going to end that easily. Senpai said this as well, but Zef thinks in the same manner huh. If one were to endure or forget about it without killing, the chain of hatred would end. Migrating and ending the war in that way; a part of me probably wanted that to happen. Saying it with my own mouth right now makes it feel unrealistic. I am glad I didn’t tell Zef. I was about to amaze him by doing that.” (Makoto)
In the time when I heard the talk of the Neptunes, even I thought that if we were to kill all the Neptunes that were on the brother’s side, the hatred wouldn’t remain, and Serwhale-san wouldn’t have to worry about it in Asora. That’s how I thought.
To have an outsider telling him about a different way of calming down the hatred aside from killing, moreover, asking their very Lord to persuade them, that would be stupid.
‘Here, take this new land, now let’s stop war’, there’s no way it would go so smoothly.
As expected, it is not good to try thinking about stopping the war with such light thoughts.
For now, I will do our activities as the Kuzunoha Company, and drag down the Goddess at a point in time. It is fine to only think about that for now.
Even in my life as a merchant, I have now become able to safely participate in the meetings of the Guild in Tsige and Rotsgard.
Not only between customers, I have begun to understand the importance of having connections between merchants as well. Not by pushing them away when offered money, or when offered something and making implicit promises.
Lately, I have been learning how to deal with the nobles with this foreign country visits.
I am far away from being competent enough, but if I just continue working steadily, I can gather experience no matter the case.
My essentials are bad, and the wider I open my arms, the amount of choices I have to decide will increase in proportion, so I just can’t move forward the way I want.
That’s why it can’t be helped that I go by it slowly.
I will simply go forward in my own pace.
It may be this late in the game, but that’s how I thought.