— “We did it, right?!”
The voice of my friend that I can’t even remember well within the countless corpses in the battlefield.
The ones raising cheers of victory are the comrades that fought together with my friend.
Aah, that’s right. This is like the past of humans…when the world was overflowing with war.
There were endless reasons they could think up.
Countries would be born and perish; days where you would always prepare yourself for battle and take arms.
I am proud to say that I was someone who was fortunate to have been born as a warrior of a country with power.
“Aah, this victory has fortified our territory even more. The neighboring countries won’t be able to attack us carelessly.”
— “We were the ones…we were the ones who seized it! Finally…Finally peace will come…!”
We stopped the invasions of the neighboring countries over and over, and we finally defeated the empire that had the most power from within those.
A victory seized through the countless lives of comrades -countless lives of friends.
Even someone as silent as me couldn’t endure the overflowing feelings and cheered at this victory together with my comrades and friends.
We succeeded in showing the power of our nation by continuously winning and increasing our territory.
The world may still be battling over and over, but peace has been ascertained in the near future for our nation.
— “Hey, ————, what do you plan on doing from here on?”
“Even if you ask me that, I have been promoted to a general after this victory, so I will simply do my everything to protect this peace.”
— “I see. It is not like this peace will continue forever after all.”
“What about you? What do you plan on doing?”
— “I…am thinking of becoming a blacksmith just like the dream of that guy. He was spitting an ocean of knowledge while cleaning his weapons at night, right? The best ending would have been for him to have become a blacksmith though.”
“So you are inheriting the dream of someone else. Don’t you have your own dream?”
— “It was all about the peace lying ahead. I honestly had nothing. But I remembered that guy and…felt like doing something.”
All the people of mine nation had taken arms and fought.
But there’s no need for that anymore, and a lot of warriors let go of their swords.
The people who are specialized in that path will be the ones taking charge of the military from here on, and the civilians will watch over this.
It is not like I had a dream like my friend.
It is because battles were being done so much that the ones who could have dreams were limited.
I fortunately had talent in combat.
My achievements were acknowledged, and the king asked me to please continue protecting this country.
There’s no other path I want to aim for.
I accepted this as the fitting position for my own talent and my role.
“So this is your workshop, huh. It is cramped, but it has taste.”
— “Are you mocking me there?! It is fine for it to be cramped. It saves me the trouble of going somewhere to look for the tools!”
The people that I called friends all went their own respective paths.
Faces filled with life that I couldn’t see in the battlefield.
That figure of theirs trying to share the peace that they themselves have fought and won made me a bit jealous.
A few decades went by peacefully.
The other countries continued fighting, but mine nation didn’t get invaded by other countries and continued its peaceful days…or so it looked.
— “A tax increase again? We are not expanding our army anymore, right?”
“It is the decision of the king and the nobles. It will be a necessary expense for the sake of making the nation a better one.”
No one had the leeway to save up anything in an era of continuous wars, so there was a limit to how much tax could be collected.
But the nation began to collect tax with the populace beginning to amass wealth.
The nobles learned how to wet their own profit, and began to use all manner of means.
I could feel the rift of the social standings getting deeper compared to the time when we fought together as one.
— “Listen here. If so much tax is taken, I won’t be able to do my job properly, you know? The nobles are the ones who have more money than us.”
“Our country has become far richer compared to that time. We are not troubled with food and we don’t have to worry about invasions from other countries. We need the help of the people in order to maintain this rich and prosperous country.”
I tell him the speech I was told from the king and the nobles.
I can understand the point of both sides as someone caught in between the both of them. That’s why I should be maintaining an amicable relationship for both, but…
— “About that peace… I don’t know how to put it, but it feels more suffocating than before.”
“That…might be true.”
You can’t just readily wield your animosity towards compatriots. But there’s no one to vent those feelings on, and their displeasure is just accumulating.
— “Well, there’s no point complaining to you who is caught in between a rock and a hard place. That said, you are still using that axe?”
— “It is properly maintained, but it is questionable as a weapon an esteemed general should be carrying. How about getting a brand new one?”
“I don’t think there’s a need now that there’s no wars though. It works fine enough for training.”
— “Come on, don’t say that. Think of it as giving me work to do. I’ve got some skills, you know?”
“…Fuh! Right. Confirming your growth as an artisan doesn’t sound bad.”
— “Ooh, those are fighting words. Your valiant figure in battle always gave us courage. I will hammer the best weapon to pay you back! I will show you the accumulation of this Laxios here!”
Most of the citizens were comrades that fought together with me to protect the country.
It is because that notion still remains that they could swallow most of their gripes.
But it is not like that continued forever.
They eventually began to complain to the king to improve how they treated them. They colluded and raised their voices.
It at first were complaints through words, but it steadily grew more extreme, and it finally became an issue that the nation couldn’t just ignore.
“Suppress the citizens…? But if you subdue them with power…”
And then, me -someone who protects the country- had to take weapons in hand.
They are the people that fought through wars. Half-baked suppressions were not enough at all, and the nation itself had already changed into something no different from a war.
— “…Hey, ———. Is this the peace we won?”
Torn down cityscape, corpses laying about, the scent of fire and blood that remains in one’s nose; but there’s nothing to gain from the victory of this.
This can’t bring about any happiness.
The only thing that remained was the sensation of the axe that was given to me by my friend.
— “I would have rather died in the war if I knew this would be the result waiting for me. What do you think?”
— “…Sorry, that must have been a tough one for you. You may look unfriendly the whole time, but I think I can understand how you feel. There’s no need for you to say anything.”
My friend fought by the side of the people; I punished them on the side of the nation.
— “My bad. Can I request one thing of you while at it? I don’t think I will be able to die as it is. I will most likely be caught somewhere and end up as a decapitated head. In that case, I might as well…with that axe…”
“Are you telling me…to kill a friend…?”
— “…I am so happy. I can still be your friend, ———. Let me burn that figure of yours in my eyes one last time. I will feel as if I returned to those times…”
The sensation remaining in my axe is not disappearing no matter how much time went by.
The smile of my friend that I can’t even remember the face of would peek in a warped fashion when I close my eyes.
What should I have sought for? What should I have done?
The other countries saw the internal conflicts of the nation growing worse as an opportunity and attacked us.
We did fight back, but our country that reduced our numbers with our own hands had lost even the power to fight, and we already didn’t have the power to survive in the world of war once more.
I continued swinging mine axe despite that.
There’s no way there would be a reason for me to let go of this axe anymore.
There won’t be anything remaining for me if I don’t continue fighting until my own life is extinguished.
— “Oh, I thought there were only corpses here, but it seems like there’s someone who still has breath in him.”
I met Yugura when I thought everything would end.
Within that place where everyone was collapsed on the ground, covered in blood, there was a single person completely clean standing out in a bizarre manner.
— “Oh, oh, it is the face of someone who has accepted death. Well, that’s fine by me. How about monologuing since you are going to be dying anyways? I may be some stranger you have no idea of, but it is better than talking with corpses, right?”
“…I wished for peace together with my comrades…and fought.”
The peace we had won created further conflict, and nothing remained from it.
I expressed my mind towards Yugura at death’s door without feeling any doubts or being cautious.
— “I see. That happens often. People can’t go without making enemies after all. They may unite for an outside enemy, but once that’s gone, they will begin creating new enemies inside. That goes for both humans and demi-humans. Don’t worry. You will simply be dying the common death within the common laws of the world. There was nothing you would have been able to do as you are presently.”
“As I am presently…huh… Then, when would I…have been able to go against it?”
— “Aah, I didn’t put it right. It would have been impossible for you no matter how much you went back in the past. However, if you were to live from here on…is what I meant. You have simply been matching answers until now. Nothing will be solved unless you act with those answers you have obtained.”
“…I see. Right. But I don’t think…the current me would be able to accomplish anything.”
I could understand that that’s how things are.
But I will most likely die before I even reach the answer to how I can prevent a conclusion like this one.
Yugura said this just as I was thinking this.
— “Just become a Demon Lord.”
— “If you want to stop the battles between humans, just become their common enemy. Demon Lords are immortal beings. If you create strife eternally, humans will have no choice but to continue joining hands.”
“…I see. It makes sense. But even if you tell me to become such a being…”
— “You can become one…if you so wish. Do you have any regrets? Do you have the resolve to make the whole world your enemy? I shall grant that warped desire of yours if you form a contract.”
And so, I became a Demon Lord.
A being that doesn’t perish even in death, a being that continues living for eternity outside the laws of the world.
Yugura also gave me the power of Strife -a power worthy to let me become the enemy of the world.
However, it is not like the other Demon Lords had the same objective.
There was even a time when mine objective had begun to go awry because of the rampage of Black.
— “Sorry about that, but the humans might really go extinct if you were to move. I will have you sleep for a bit. You can act freely after you wake up. Humans will have gained a bit of power by then.”
“Yeah, let’s do that.”
Yugura had the Demon Lords go to sleep for the sake of the survival of humans.
He also placed a measure in order for the unwieldy Black to not take the stage ever again.
That’s how it should be.
I began to form an army of monsters after I woke up in order to fulfill my contract with Yugura.
I will become a threat to all the humans, take on all the hatred, and become an absolute obstacle.
All strifes will gather under me as long as I continue existing.
At the very least, the one who knows the sensation of this axe is already…
“It is truly stupid. An ideal that I would never want to sympathize with even if I were to comprehend it.”
“You bastard…what would you even know?! If battles don’t happen, humans will eventually—” (Scarlet)
“Aah, spare me from that. I have no interest. Your words won’t resonate in my heart.”
I couldn’t feel any will from the eyes of the man looking down on me. But those eyes were completely seeing through mine heart.
“There’s a lot of things in me like how the life of an important person to me has been taken away. But more than that, I don’t like your way of living in the purest sense of the word. It is just displeasing. I would want to correct you if possible, but your resolve is strong and your heart would never bend towards me. That’s why I will end it. You won’t be coming out of this cave…for eternity. Your strife will end today, at this very place -with no one sympathizing, and as a worthless attempt.”
This man is trampling on my desires as if they are worthless despite knowing what lies inside my heart…despite comprehending my resolve.
There’s no way it is okay for someone like this to be in this world.
But mine body has already lost its faculties due to the Mana Eater.
This being that I would be able to end by just moving a single finger of mine…yet, I can’t do anything to him.
“Your ideal will be trampled by the ego of a single individual you don’t even know the name of. Bye, Scarlet Demon Lord. Continue living in a hell of no worth.”
He turned his back just like that and began to leave.
Is it going to end like this? End?
Then, for what reason did I even become a Demon Lord? What did I achieve?
Don’t joke around.
If you are a human…if you are someone who has comprehended what lies deep inside mine heart…!
The Mana Eater tore away at my throat and poured inside of me.
I can’t even string up words anymore.
There was only one thing I could do: put all my emotions into a roar and curse him.
But he didn’t turn around even once and left.
It will most likely take a bit more time before the body of the Scarlet Demon Lord is completely disintegrated.
The danger would be the Mana Eater that has already flown all over to even the entrance of the cave.
I can’t see monsters on the way anymore.
What I can see in the surroundings is the immense amount of Mana Eaters.
Once the living creatures with mana are gone, the next thing it will attack is anything that moves.
But it is currently showing no signs of jumping at me.
Makes sense…since the mana flowing in my body is thinner than the mana flowing in the whole air of the Nether.
The Mana Eater is devouring even the mana in the surroundings.
It will be a while before I am a target for consumption.
That said, it probably won’t be like that if I were to move intensely or make a loud sound though.
I do have the Spirit that has a tiny bit of mana inside of me after all.
The Mana Eaters in the surrounding stopped moving and were slowly getting bigger as they ate into the mana of the surroundings.
If this continues, it will absorb all of the mana of the Gahne Nether, and it would turn extremely bad, but that part is fine.
There’s already signs of change in a part of the Mana Eaters.
(It is wondrous no matter how many times I see it.)
The Mana Eaters that had become a certain size began to move, stuck onto others, and their sizes gradually got smaller.
And then, the surroundings steadily became transparent and began to grow luminescent. This sight is reminiscent of the Black Demon Lord Killer Mountain.
The Mana Eater eats mana, enlarges, divides, and increases its numbers.
But once a certain amount of mana is absorbed and there’s other ones nearby, it most likely judges that there won’t be any more food.
They begin to stick onto each other, and change the surroundings with the mana they took in.
They are making the unnecessary ones into materials for their nest in order to not increase their numbers too much.
The reason why the Black Demon Lord Killer Mountain has turned into such a peculiar space is because of this nature of the Mana Eater.
At the time when I was learning about the Mana Eater, I wondered why the Mana Eater wouldn’t eat stuff like the trees that overflow with mana and shine even in the night if they are creatures that eat all mana.
And so, I reached the conclusion that maybe that space was created by the Mana Eater itself.
There’s a number of other things I learned.
The Mana Eater won’t increase their own territory more than a certain amount, and in the end just turns into one and grows more docile.
This is most likely the consideration of its creator to not wipe out humanity against an enemy that could increase their nest endlessly.
(You could say this fits Yugura Nariya.)
The Mana Eater was used in order to stop the Black Demon Lord. The Mana Eater was born with that intention, so there’s most likely no doubt that it was the White Demon Lord -Yugura Nariya- who created it.
If this was a monster prepared for the sake of stopping the eradication of humans, he must have restrictions placed on it -this is what I hypothesized, so I observed and experimented over and over the nature of it in the Simulated World of Gold.
The inside of the cave will completely become a nest of the Mana Eater, but the erosion of the Mana Eater will most likely stop at just the surroundings of that cave.
I have turned it into a place that no one can get close to, but if the Scarlet Demon Lord won’t be coming onto the stage ever again, you could say this is a good price to pay.
Even if the Scarlet Demon Lord revives in the future, it would be in the deepest part of the Mana Eater’s cave.
He will be eaten before he can do anything, and will repeatedly resurrect without even being able to move.
For the Scarlet Demon Lord who doesn’t have knowledge of special magic like the Black Demon Lord that summoned me, it would be impossible to get out of there and even leave his will behind for others.
(—Was this really for the best, me?)
I didn’t have the intention of using this method.
The reason is simple. There’s no way Ilias and Marito would allow that.
I have to capture the Mana Eater and have it attack the Scarlet Demon Lord all by myself.
It is a method that would definitely not be possible to do if there were a resident of this world nearby.
I wouldn’t have allowed someone to perform this with the resolve of dying along.
I would need to distance those people in order to perform this method. I would need to put them out of the stage.
But I was the one who yielded this method to me.
I relied on me who can perform all of this without feeling remorse.
I of course can comprehend this since it is about me.
But I still throw questions at myself despite that.
(—Even though I haven’t even confirmed if Cara-jii has died or not.)
Marito said at that time there were no other urgent reports to make.
He even reported about the matter regarding the parents of Ekdoik, so it would have been possible to think ‘there was no need to report’ about Cara-jii.
Then it is possible Cara-jii is alive.
No, you could even say the chance is high.
But, even if so, I escaped from that room and decided on using me.
(There should be a limit to being cowardly.)
The reason is simple.
If I were to hear the next day that Cara-jii had died, I wouldn’t have been able to take this method.
I wouldn’t have been able to take revenge using the Mana Eater with Ilias and Ekdoik as my bodyguards, and it would have turned into a situation where I would have had no choice but to leave the Scarlet Demon Lord be.
I was scared of that.
I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to do anything against an enemy I won’t ever be able to forgive.
That’s why I went off without even confirming the wellbeing of Cara-jii with Marito.
If I were to confirm that, it would be the end.
He would have strengthened the security around my room.
(It is fine even if you don’t tell me though. You are me and I am you after all.)
It is not like one or the other are the real ones.
This is simply a way of being where I can switch depending on a case by case basis.
I might have had more chances for exchanges if I had split personalities, but a difference is beginning to be created between me and me.
The reason goes without saying: those girls are changing me.
I have no intention of thinking of this change as bad. On the contrary, I even think it is good.
But relying on me, who hasn’t changed since the time on Earth, is hard to say is good for me.
Mediating properly is your job. It is impossible for me.
(Now then…the remaining issue is…)
There’s no worries of falling thanks to the light created by the Mana Eater.
I will most likely regret the pain in my whole body in the future, so there’s no worry about that one.
The issue is after I leave this cave.
There’s no Mana Eater outside the cave.
They will most likely show up a little later, but not now. I still have time to move away from here.
The issue is whether I can return safely.
I would definitely die if I were to go by feet from the Gahne Nether to Gahne with this body.
I would die if I encountered a monster on the way, and I would die if I ran out of stamina.
It should be safe to assume that Dyuvuleori has already retrieved Kutou, but Dyuvuleori won’t be able to approach this cave after obtaining the information.
Marito and the others should have at least understood that I have brought the Mana Eater with me.
“We are talking about Purple here, so she most likely has left Dyuvuleori on standby at the place where Kutou was. As for whether I can get all the way there…I don’t think so.”
“You get it well.”
I felt a shock as if a stun gun was pushed behind me.
I would have easily fallen with just a light shove though. Well, it makes sense that you would act carefully.
“…I am injured as you can see. I would like you to at least hold back, Raheight.”
I can’t get up at all, but I managed to at least confirm my back.
There were 3 unknown people there.
No, I can tell by instinct that one of them is Raheight in a new body.
“To think you would head to the Scarlet Demon Lord alone with no bodyguards. It is an action unlike you.” (Raheight)
“Not really. It was an action with a chance of victory.”
“I thought you went to the Black Demon Lord Killer Mountain to commit suicide or something, but to think you would use the Mana Eater. You really are one troublesome guy.” (Raheight)
“If you have been watching since then, you could have caught me at that time.”
“We were also interested in what manner you would make contact with the Scarlet Demon Lord. I thank you on behalf of Leitis for getting rid of one future obstacle.” (Raheight)
I managed to predict the encirclement of the Taizu knights and Gahne soldiers, as well as the actions of the Demon Lord side to slip by, but I couldn’t grasp the actions of Raheight and his group completely since I have not been able to read all their cards.
However, I was certain that they were going to make a move in some way in this battle between the humans and the Scarlet Demon Lord.
As well as the fact that they might try to capture me if I were to act alone…
It was unclear whether I would encounter Dyuvuleori or Raheight first, but it ended up like this, huh.
Well, this is the luck of the man that didn’t rely on his comrades.
“So, it would be better for you to finish kidnapping me if that’s what you plan on doing, but the Mana Eater will most likely jump out in an instant if they feel your mana.”
“Right. We are using a spell that keeps the mana down, but that will most likely just be a matter of time too.” (Raheight)
“Raheight, you are going to be bringing him all the way to Ritial-sama?”
One of the companions of Raheight raised their voice.
Judging from their tone of voice, it is most likely a woman, but I don’t feel emotions as if she were a robot.
She matches one of the subordinates of Ritial that Dyuvuleori and Purple encountered, but…in that case, she is the user of teleport magic, huh.
Looks like it is going to be hard to expect Dyuvuleori to pursue them.
“No, I have already consulted with Ritial-san about what to do with him. We will make use of him as a negotiation chip. Let’s move away from here first.” (Raheight)
“Got it. Also, use -sama. I am going to kill you.”
“I would just be switching bodies if you kill me, so please don’t make me use energy pointlessly.” (Raheight)
“Alright, I will kill you later.”
The one remaining man carried my body.
It feels like he has it rough, but judging from the personalities of Raheight and the woman that uses teleport magic, I can understand why.
…If I am to make them crumble, I would have to begin with him.
“Ah, please make him lose consciousness. Don’t talk to him at all until we pass him on to the one we will do the trade with. There won’t be any threat to him if we do that.” (Raheight)
I don’t hate people who can learn, but there won’t be a time when I will like Raheight.
I lost consciousness the moment I sighed.