It is already the fourth time, so honestly, there’s no freshness in it anymore.
For now, the most I am is relieved that the one in front of me is not Root.
There was no assurance that it wouldn’t happen even if I didn’t have the intentions of doing it myself after all.
On the contrary, there are times when I intend to do things but it doesn’t turn out the way I want it to.
Serwhale-san is good to the point that I want to make him a follower, but there are things both of us have to consider, and couldn’t reach the point of a pact.
Becoming a follower means that, at the very least, he will be separated from his race.
That person is a Neptune, and he is currently the pillar of Asora’s sea.
It would be one thing if he were to just act together with me temporarily, but to form a pact and make him ‘my’ follower felt slightly bad.
Instead of establishing a standing for Serwhale-san with a pact, he said that it would be fine for him to just act as the representative of the sea residents and obey orders simply as one of the residents of Asora.
In terms of strength and standing, he who is the leader of the Neptunes, can even do something like being the manager of the sea, so turning him into my follower would actually be a waste.
There’s no Superior Dragon who manages the sea.
And from what I have heard, the Neptunes existed since ancient times in the sea and are strong.
The Neptunes are a race that makes me wonder if they are actually the replacement of a Superior Dragon for the sea.
“Makoto-sama, what are you thinking?”
Within the magic circle that was drawn for the sake of the pact ritual, Touda talked to me.
She noticed that I was spacing out huh.
We are enveloped by a red light and are waiting for that light to settle down.
Even if we call it a ritual, it is not as if the concerned party will be doing anything.
That’s thanks to Tomoe and the others who have advanced things promptly.
In the first time, Tomoe was the one who did the process, and in the time with Mio, I was unconscious.
At the time with Shiki, Tomoe and Mio schemed to mix Shiki with used rings, so I didn’t have anything to do with that.
I truly haven’t done anything in my pacts.
“No, I was just thinking that it has been a while since I have increased the numbers of my followers.” (Makoto)
“In order to not have Makoto-sama regret that decision, I promise to support you in private and public matters to the best of my abilities.” (Touda)
I feel like I am hearing a marriage pledge here.
Even so, every single one of Touda’s words didn’t register as sincere inside of me.
Am I growing distrustful?
If we form a ruling pact, she won’t be able to do anything drastic, and I do think that it would be impossible to attempt any vicious plans, but…
I probably can’t be relieved just yet.
I am simply accepting this to a certain extent.
Of course, I am also expecting her to become a fighting force in our defenses.
…That’s right, doubts.
Since I have noticed it myself, I can’t just pretend I didn’t.
The red light that is enveloping me and Touda had appeared as a wall between the space where Touda and I were facing each other.
The pact is finally over.
Signs that it has finished without any problems, and proceeded as always.
Now then, what shape will Touda take?
She looks human to begin with, so I guess her appearance won’t change much.
Since it is a ruling pact, I don’t think her human form will change.
I am the one that doesn’t need to change form, so the light at my side settled down before hers.
I silently wait for the light at Touda’s side to settle down.
I am thinking about calling her *Sakura*. <Sakura=Cherry blossoms>
It may be simplistic, but she is in a Shinto shrine where there’s cherry blossoms, and we are doing the pact in the day of the cherry blossom viewing, so I thought that name would be fine.
“Is this…my new body?” (Touda)
I was expecting it, but the naked Touda that was in a crouching position, stood up and muttered this.
What is this? Something is…
Touda casually stood up and looked at her lifted arms, and subsequently turned her gaze at her limbs.
I see, she looks young.
There’s not much point in the age of their appearance, but Touda looked quite older than me.
Right, like a girl in her mid-twenties.
And yet, her body had turned into that of someone around 10 years old.
Based on the indicator that I have created from the standards of this world with beautiful outward appearances, she is without doubt around 10 years old.
How to say it, this is a familiar sight.
Even when I look at the naked Touda right from the front, I was slightly moved by the fact that I wasn’t agitated.
“How are you feeling? Are there any problems?” (Makoto)
“Makoto-sama…I am feeling excellent. I didn’t think my power would increase this much with a ruling pact. It is a pity that my wish of fighting Makoto-sama at full-power will never become reality though.” (Touda)
She is in a ruling pact after all.
Even if she had my permission, she wouldn’t be able to fight with her full strength.
Tomoe and the others always complain about that a lot.
Saying that: ‘If I could bring out my full power, I would be able to last a little longer.’
Touda, who said this devilishly while laughing, probably feels like that too.
“Rejuvenation. There’s also the case of Shiki, so it isn’t something strange.” (Tomoe)
“He turned from bones to hyuman after all. If it is only turning your looks into a brat, there shouldn’t be much difference.” (Mio)
Tomoe and Mio were observing Touda with composure.
Tomoe looks slightly happy.
Well, that’s understandable.
Aside from the change in Touda’s looks and age of her outward appearance…there’s her hair.
The color of her black hair had changed into a dark emerald green.
Like the color of a forest.
But her specialty is fire, and she served a God of Japan.
And yet, green.
Her black hair still looked more connected to her abilities, but this one is unexpected.
“As expected, she didn’t deviate from her human form.” (Shiki)
Shiki seems to have been thinking the same as me. He looks at Touda with serious eyes as he mutters.
Touda confirms her own look, and after nodding a few times, she mutters a chant and puts on her shrine maiden clothes.
So there’s magic to change quickly?
“Well then, Makoto-sama, I wish to receive my name.”
“Right. Touda’s new name will be: Sa—” (Makoto)
I was about to say Sakura, but for some reason, I stopped.
Because a different name suddenly flashed in me.
What should I do?
Sakura is no good.
I was already feeling uncomfortable with it.
I feel like conferring a name like that to someone is no good.
Tomoe and Mio looked at me, who was hesitating in speaking, with worry.
“Sorry. Your new name will be: Tamaki.” (Makoto)
“Tamaki…is it.” (Tamaki)
“Yeah. Once again, best regards.” (Makoto)
Why did the name Tamaki suddenly appear?
There wasn’t a single of my acquaintances with that name though.
“Yes. Makoto-sama, senpais, from today on, my name will be Tamaki. Please take care of me.” (Tamaki)
Touda lowers her head deeply -no, Tamaki.
My new follower.
However, she is clearly a follower with a different implication to that of Tomoe and the others.
“…Then, Tomoe. I leave the rest to you.” (Makoto)
“Yes, I will properly teach her the rules of Asora. We will be using her in the future, so I will teach her about the Mist Gate as well—” (Tomoe)
“About that, it is fine to just teach her how to move around Asora with it.” (Makoto)
“What do you mean by that, Waka?” (Tomoe)
Without answering, I just wave my hand and turn my back.
“I will leave for a bit. If the cherry blossom viewing continues till the night, please let them, okay? I will also return when it is night.” (Makoto)
Telling them this, I disappear from the place.
I teleport to my room and make some half-hearted preparations before heading to the wasteland.
Teleporting to the place where there was a base once called Zenno, I flew to a certain direction.
Maybe because there are a lot of mamonos around here that can feel to a certain extent if it is an opponent they can handle, there were no encounters, and in less than an hour, I arrived at my objective.
“If I remember correctly, it was around here.” (Makoto)
As far as one can see, there’s reddish-brown ground with no change in sight.
The place where my parallel world life began.
It truly has nothing to the point of being funny.
And, even in this border of the world, I was able to reach here in a short amount of time.
That reality felt kind of amusing and made me want to laugh.
“Thinking about it, time has passed in the blink of an eye huh.” (Makoto)
A monologue that no one would hear.
Since coming to this parallel world, I was attacked by Tomoe, obtained something called Asora, was attacked by Mio…
Thinking so many times that I should change, I have reached this point without changing my foundations.
…That’s what I intended.
Before I noticed, I had changed.
At the very least, I have become a completely different being from the me in Japan.
If there’s hostility and are coming for my life, there’s no problem in fighting back, and as a result, I have taken lives, which is something that can’t be helped.
If it’s thoughts of only that extent, it might have been normal.
But the current me is different.
I now think that battles to the death are as normal as breathing.
At first, it was only towards people that directed killing intent towards me.
A little bit in the past, all the people that had the will of fighting and were standing in the battlefield.
And now, almost all the lives that have been born.
I have ended up thinking that it is only natural to kill and be killed.
Hyumans and demi-humans have been taking away lives just by being alive after all.
Adventurers being controlled by greed and getting killed by mamonos, mamonos swarming into a village and killing everyone in it; I have begun thinking that they are the same thing.
If it were in my time at Japan as a high school student, I wonder if I thought of lives this lightly.
Since when was it?
Since the time when variants ran rampant in Rotsgard?
Or was it the time when I was unable to fight back against the Goddess and was made to fight in the capital of Limia in the end?
Was it when I was visiting a variety of countries along with the demon race country?
I don’t know.
It might even be by the time when we were talking about raising animals like cows and sheeps in Asora and I had grown able to eat them like normal.
But, the time when I clearly felt this change was slightly after my conversation with Senpai in Limia.
My thoughts regarding the lives in a battle, I began feeling that my thoughts were totally different compared to many of the soldiers.
Honestly, I am beginning to feel like morals are something faint.
This is scary.
The surface of my thoughts should feel that morals and life are important, but deep inside, it feels as if it isn’t resonating at all. A bizarre feeling.
Maybe that’s why the times when I fall into deep thought have increased.
I have consulted with Tomoe and the others about matters of the company and Asora, but talks about me are a different matter.
Matters regarding what I should do with myself, isn’t something that should be consulted with someone else.
This is something that I should decide myself.
There’s no need for the input of others, no matter who it is.
“If the cause was because I have killed too much, I can’t turn back anymore. It would be something that can’t be helped.” (Makoto)
The result of me killing too much is that now I feel it is the same as breathing and it is something that’s closely related to me. If that’s the case, it is already too late.
Because it is already that way after all.
“Well, it is not like I can’t act normally. It is not impossible to act within reason, so that should be fine.” (Makoto)
No matter how much worth I find in life, I can still consider life as important.
Leaving aside people that I am deeply connected with, most people probably wouldn’t be able to notice.
“The problem is the other point. A problem that doesn’t concern only me. This one is the bad news.” (Makoto)
The other problem I noticed when thinking about myself.
That is…there’s something I have been purposely avoiding.
I do feel like I have been doing it unconsciously as well, and there are times when I did it purposely.
In other words, a serious illness.
“I have been running away from evil.” (Makoto)
The evil intent that’s directed at me from others.
The evil that’s distributed unfairly in society.
Even in Japan, and in this parallel world as well.
I have been running away from it.
If it came to facing it, I chose to shut down my thoughts and silence it.
Even in my future, I was simply thinking about succeeding the bow dojo of master and live a life where I taught the arts of the bow and continued training myself. That’s how I thought.
In terms of marriage, I was thinking that I would simply marry someone at an adequate age.
Of course, I didn’t have a specific person in mind.
If succeeding the dojo was not possible, I was thinking about possibly working as a civil servant at my hometown. Anyways, I only thought of it vaguely.
I couldn’t picture myself competing against people for things like promotions, and I thought that those things didn’t suit me.
There was no point in thinking about it, and I am no genius or prodigy, so I thought it wasn’t something that I should aim for.
…I was fine with life by simply having my bow and my hobbies.
That’s how it was.
This didn’t change even when I came to a parallel world.
At first, I thought that I was simply running away from the difficult things, but I was able to absorb things like the world’s history and the configuration of magic, so it is probably something different.
The evil of adventurers, the merchants’ evil; in this world where greed is covering its whole surface, there have been times when those schemes were pointed at me, and there were many times when I was involved in them.
At those times, even when I made countermeasures for it, I always coped with it in a half-hearted manner and ignored the root of it.
Or at times, I would just leave it to Tomoe and the others.
At the time with Rembrandt-san and the curse disease, it was specially dreadful, but even in that time, I wasn’t really that interested in the cause of it.
What I thought was that it wouldn’t be funny for people to die from something like that.
Even the strange accusations of Illumgand who was like a half-psychotic person, I didn’t pay him much attention.
Because he wasn’t someone that posed a threat. Even so, if he were to attack with force, I would fight back, that’s all.
I didn’t direct my eyes to the background of the story.
Because you know, no one would want to touch a muddy business like that.
If possible, you would prefer to just live your life without knowing.
If I had decided on things faster, would things have taken a different turn?
Even to this day, I still think about those trivial things.
Just how pointless this is. I have already understood this well since coming to this world.
“The eyes of Touda…of Tamaki, were the eyes of evil.” (Makoto)
I think it was a complex color of emotions.
Even if I call it evil, I think it is not only that.
There was clearly fear and good will as well.
But there was malice too.
How to say it, it was that strange atmosphere -that strong pressure. Now that I think back on it, I feel like it was similar to the sensation when the Goddess told me to do something unreasonable, and when I first met Rona and Zef.
That’s right. Those were the eyes of someone suppressing something.
‘The day has finally arrived where I see those kind of eyes in Asora’, is what I thought at that moment.
That it was already too late.
“…That’s why I won’t let Tamaki out of Asora. I will have her become a follower that will defend Asora to the very end.” (Makoto)
With that, her malice will not become that much of a problem.
We have formed a pact already after all.
I will have her manage the Shinto shrine and the temples normally, so it will be killing two birds with one stone.
“…Well then, let’s go.” (Makoto)
At the place where it all began, a resolution was made.
“Oh! Raidou-dono, it’s been long.”
“It’s been long, Rembrandt-san. Even though I am being rented a room, I don’t show up much. I apologize for that.” (Makoto)
“No need to mind. We also wanted to talk to you -no, consult with you about something, so I was thinking of asking you when you were available.” (Rembrandt)
I had gone to the Rembrandt residence in Tsige.
When I tried to make an appointment in order to meet him as fast as possible, I received an answer from the receptionist saying that they would make time for this evening.
To think that I would be able to meet a busy person like him in the very same day.
“Consult? Rembrandt-san with me? Could it be something happened to your daughters?” (Makoto)
I haven’t done anything strange to Sif and Yuno, and I haven’t informed those two about anything that I would feel ashamed of.
If it is a consultation from them, there’s no real need to be so formal about it.
“No, they are living a fulfilling everyday life. Thanks to Raidou-dono.” (Rembrandt)
“I am happy that you think that way.” (Makoto)
“Of course I do. And so, Raidou-dono, what is your business? It would be great if I can be of assistance.” (Rembrandt)
If he can be of assistance huh.
From what I know, he is the most suitable for it.
“You see…” (Makoto)
With a slight pause, I harden the resolve inside of me.
“Please teach me the evil of people.” (Makoto)
“…Hoh? Evil, is it. This is one strange request.” (Rembrandt)
“Evil, or how to say it, society, maybe? I don’t know how to describe it. I do have a clear image in my mind though…” (Makoto)
I could tell that the eyes of Rembrandt-san and Morris-san, who was beside him, had narrowed.
I think they understood the true meaning of my words.
“Until now, I have been having an idealistic view about merchanting, and…I have pushed through things with brute strength. But I am already in a phase where I can’t keep my eyes away. That’s how I felt.” (Makoto)
“But Raidou-dono has been able to bring about the best possible result in that way. There’s rarely any merchant who would be able to only look at his customers and be able to achieve as much as you walking such a path.” (Rembrandt)
“That’s right, Raidou-sama. You have expanded your business in a way that other people wouldn’t be able to and obtained the satisfaction of your customers. And even now, you are receiving direct calls from countries, and reached a level where your name has been remembered. This is something to be proud of.” (Morris)
Morris-san and Rembrandt-san gave consolation words towards my self-depreciating confession.
It is certainly true that my name has been remembered in other countries, and, I can’t say it but, I also have connections with the demon race.
Somehow, my life as a merchant is going well.
But that’s merely somehow.
“I am not thinking about changing the foundation of my methods. I simply want my company to become one that’s able to deal with conflicts not by coincidence, but by predicting and overcoming them. And I think I can’t continue averting my eyes from the evil of other people, even if only a bit.” (Makoto)
Look at reality, and learn more about the dirtiness of people that I have been trying not to see before but ended up seeing.
As a result, I might end up seeing not only hyumans but demi-humans in a dirtier manner as well.
In order to change the impression the companies, merchants, and nobles have of me, I can’t continue relying on Tomoe and the others for everything.
If I -their representative- continue like this, the company will simply be seen as a company that can’t be crushed.
In order to make people think that the very notion of touching Kuzunoha Company is a taboo, I as the representative am the bottleneck that is making it unable to realize this notion.
I have to throw away this naivety of mine.
How many times I have thought of doing this.
But finally…I have understood what I have to do to make this possible.
This time for sure, I will do it.
It was…naive of me, trying to avert my eyes.
“…And so, you wanted me to teach you about the darkness that I have been carrying inside of me as a merchant, right?” (Rembrandt)
“There are times when knowing leads to regret. I am certain that Raidou-dono is able to push away all those people that have petty emotions of defeat, and continue moving forward as you do, but…even so, you still want to learn? Even though you have fulfilled an important condition to make it possible for you to abandon thoughts and simply advance in an idealistic manner?” (Rembrandt)
“…Yes. It is not only limited in my merchant life, but also in my life in general. This isn’t something I can continue running away from.” (Makoto)
“If it’s you, it is possible… But well, Raidou-dono has decided this himself, so it isn’t something that others can just interject in huh.” (Rembrandt)
Rembrandt-san does a short sigh and shuts his mouth.
I also have no choice but to wait for his answer.
Rembrandt-san was pondering with his eyes closed, and when he nods, he opens his eyes and looks at Morris-san.
Morris-san quietly nods.
“…Understood. I will teach you what I can, about the thoughts that overflow in society, and its foundation. Whether it is good luck or bad luck, there’s a mountain of teaching materials regarding that in Tsige. However, this is a personal request of mine, Raidou-dono: Please continue your approach towards your customers as always.” (Rembrandt)
“Yes. Rembrandt-san, thank you very much!” (Makoto)
“But to think that Raidou-dono would say himself that he would want to become a normal merchant, I wouldn’t have expected it.” (Rembrandt)
In an instant, Rembrandt-san returned to his gentle expression, and strength left his body as he laughs.
“I-Is that so.” (Makoto)
“Even in Rotsgard, you have gained control by brute strength after all. I was getting more and more excited about your future, Raidou-dono. I didn’t expect you to stumble.” (Rembrandt)
“In my perspective, I have been stumbling quite a lot though.” (Makoto)
My business in the Academy didn’t give me the impression that it was going better than in Tsige.
“Different from here, there’s no assurance that the Guild will take your side after all.” (Rembrandt)
“That’s true. Compared to Tsige, I felt like forming connections with the Guild and the merchants was more difficult.” (Makoto)
Rembrandt-san let out a laugh that felt had a hidden meaning.
Morris-san also had the same expression as he nodded several times.
“Ah, and so, what is the business Rembrandt-san had? I still haven’t heard it.” (Makoto)
I felt slightly uncomfortable, so I changed the topic.
“Nothing big, Compared to the resolve of Raidou-dono, this is but a small matter.” (Rembrandt)
Maintaining his pleased expression, he placed his elbows on the table and linked his arms on top of his mouth.
Those gestures of his that felt like an act, had intensity.
I silently waited for his next words.
“There will be a revolution occurring soon in this country. I was going to consult you regarding that.” (Rembrandt)
“Hah? Revolution?” (Makoto)