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Chapter 27 – The Demon King Who Was Supposed To Be Defeated
The barbecue wound down by nightfall, and the four of us gathered in the living room along with Pino’s group. We started talking as we relaxed with warm cups of tea. The topic, of course, was compensation for the curse-cleansing potion.
“You don’t have to be so nervous, I won’t demand something huge. It’s not an object either, just a little… favor. I think that’s the best way of putting it.”
“A favor, huh?” What exactly would she want to ask for?
Before she said anything about that, Pino smiled at us. “More than that… Hiroki and the others are a party of heroes, aren’t you?”
“I never told you anything about that! How did you know?”
“I asked the shop fairy.”
“Ah… I see.”
Pino was the one who taught us about the leaf of the Great Tree, so it was only natural that she’d have one herself. With it, she could meet the shop fairy. With a nod, she affirmed it verbally.
Maybe Pino is also on the Demon King’s side. She’s an alchemist on the Apricot continent, so it’s only natural to think she might be his ally.
While I was thinking about how to explain it, Ren told me to let him speak, to tell them the truth.
“I’m a Hero. Piznutt’s king ordered us to defeat the Demon King… but we have no intention of doing that. We haven’t even made real preparations for it. As you know, I was cursed, and Hiroki and Ruri were aiming to get the curse-cleansing potion for my sake… Lusha-san as well, of course. I was desperate.”
“Of course. Apricot grass is not so easily acquired.”
Pino added that it would have been even more difficult to get the information on it in the human’s country. “That country harbors a deep hatred for demons, in spite of the fact that demons look the same as humans. It makes me laugh.”
Pino’s cold voice made me subconsciously still my breathing.
“We have a different purpose. As I said before, it’s not about defeating the demon king.”
“Then what is your purpose?”
“To return to our country… to our home.”
Pino and others just stared at him, puzzled. She finally said, “That’s fine then,” as if there was nothing else to say. “As strong as you guys are, can’t you just go back to your hometown? Unless it’s like a very powerful dungeon or something.”
“You’re right, and I wish we could do that, but our home is not a place we can get back to just by walking.”
“…Huh? What do you mean?”
How great would it be if we could just walk home? Even if we become stronger, if we become great, or if we die ― we definitely won’t be able to return to Japan. We have to find the same kind of summoning magic, or something similar to it.
Ren smiled at Pino, who looked at us with curiosity. It’s indeed not possible to tell them we came from another world. [ED: Why not? Because the author says so.] Of course, I haven’t told Lusha, and I have no intention of telling anyone else in the future.
“We came from very far away, with magic. It seems a little difficult to just walk back. It’s one-way magic, so we’re looking for a similar magic in order to go home… That’s our purpose.”
Ruri spoke up as well. “I figured if the demon king was good at magic, he might know how. That’s why we only want to talk to him, not fight.” However, if we were attacked unilaterally by the Demon King, talking wouldn’t be an option anymore…
Pino listened quietly to Ren’s explanation. He doesn’t really want to be a hero. However, in order to find a way to return home, he can’t afford to break ties with the human country. He told them that our hometown was in a safe country ― and we just wanted to return, or at least for Ruri to return.
“Is that so. I thought you were just a spoiled hero, but yeah, it turns out we can’t know the truth without having a conversation.”
“You had such a hard time…” Hassan was tearing up a little himself after listening to the story, and talked at the same time as Pino. Was he the type who was weak to emotional backstories?
“Ruri is praiseworthy to be the only girl.” Liliana complimented Ruri, and said of Ren, “That’s admirable.”
“I’ve never seen a demon king, but… what about Pino and Hassan?”
“I’ve never seen him either. I rarely hear any rumors about him, either, and the portrait of the Demon King was originally sold in the city. I don’t know anything else about him.”
“Is that so…”
Liliana and Hassan seem to have never seen the demon king and tilted their heads. I thought Pino knew something, but she said, “I’ve never seen him either.” However, she did seem to be thinking about something, and it turned out I wasn’t entirely wrong.
“…but my master does know the demon king. He regularly visits the Demon Castle. I originally traveled around the world collecting materials, so I’m not too familiar with any one country.”
“Being a remarkable alchemist, it’s only natural for him to often deal with the Demon King. Or rather… it’s that the demon king isn’t the type to often come out in public.”
“Seems that way.”
Is there a reason the Demon King rarely shows up in public? According to Pino’s story, the Demon King was practically a shut-in, but… there were no rumors that were particularly bad, and even though there were strong monsters around, the public order in the Demon Continent wasn’t that bad either. As we spent time in the city, we realized that this was actually a very comfortable country.
It certainly would have been better to be summoned to this world by the Demon King.
“For the time being, I’m relieved that you guys didn’t necessarily need to defeat the demon king.”
“Yes. I just wanted to talk about our situation with them, and be friends.”
Ruri nodded to what I was saying, as well as Pino, who had come to understand our situation.
“I thought you were on the side of humans since you’re a hero, but that wasn’t true. The Demon King wouldn’t want to fight either, so I’m relieved it hasn’t become a whole mess.”
“It’s like it’s only the human king that wants to fight…”
“That’s exactly right.”
Pino shrugged, and Ren looked apologetic. It doesn’t matter to us who came from Japan, but it seems awkward that we’re still the same human beings as that human king. For now, I told them that we wanted to find a way to return home without defeating the Demon King.
“However, I don’t like the possibility that we could be called back by the king because we didn’t show any signs of trying to defeat the Demon King.”
“That’s true, too… I guess we have to go to dungeons, and say it’s training to defeat the demon king.”
“Yeah. If we go back without doing anything, he’ll be angry.”
I don’t mind being called back and blamed by that king, but I don’t want Ren and Ruri to take the brunt of it. Ruri nodded and seemed to agree that we had to earn some time. Just when we were thinking it would be troublesome, Pino interrupted the conversation.
“Therefore… I’d like to make a request to Hiroki!”
“Oh, that’s right. What is it?”
“I want you to deliver this to my master.”
Pino brought out a wooden box from the back of the living room, large enough that she needed to hold it with both hands. Since the cover was firmly nailed down, it seems unlikely that you’re meant to see what’s inside. There were quiet sounds of glass rubbing together, so there might have been potion bottles inside it.
I thought it would be easy for me to deliver it, but then Pino said she didn’t know where her master was.
“Maybe you just need to find my master somewhere in this vast Apricot continent and hand it to him, right!?”
As expected, it’s really hard! Or rather, it takes time. I felt a little impatient, but Pino shook her head. “I wouldn’t ask you to do that! The place my master visits regularly is ― the Demon Castle! So you just need to deliver it there!”
“If that’s the case then… Wha― the Demon Castle!?”
Certainly, if we’re there to deliver this package, we can go right up to the demon castle, without reservation…! At the same time, I also remembered the Shop Fairy might be a subordinate of the Demon King. I don’t know the Demon King’s ability, but since the Shop Fairy is so strong, I’m sure the Demon King will be even stronger.
If that’s the case, I have even stronger expectations about his being able to do summoning magic. “Okay, that package… I’ll deliver it to the Demon Castle!”
“I’ll leave it to you! Phew, I’m glad! The way to go there is really difficult, so it’s a load off my back if someone does it for me.”
Is the path to the Demon Castle that difficult? Come to think of it, I didn’t actually confirm how to get there yet. The way Hassan and Liliana were smiling bitterly at us, it must actually be really hard. Those two were strong, and yet they looked at us like that? I may have already accepted the package, but I started to feel like I’d been tricked into it.
◆ ◆ ◆
I turned over where I lay, hearing the birds occasionally chirping.
“…You can’t sleep?”
“Lusha, so you’re still awake, huh?”
“Yeah. I mean, so much happened today.”
“You got that right.”
Pino prepared a room for us for the night. It was a four-person room with four beds, and Ruri was sleeping next to the window. Next to her was Lusha, then me, and Ren was closest to the door.
“When I saw Liliana-san fighting, I thought it was amazing. That’s why I want to try harder.”
“That’s right. I was able to lift Ren’s curse, too. From this point forward, there’s still a lot to do.”
I looked at the dim ceiling, thinking that our next step would be the Demon Castle. We could leave at any time since we’d tucked our luggage into the magic bag. Actually, the four of us wanted to go together, but I decided to part ways with Ren and Ruri there. If they stayed with us forever, the soldiers in town would be suspicious of them. So, they’d say they were researching the Demon King and leveling up in the dungeon.
…Maybe, there might be a hint of how to return to our home in a high difficulty dungeon as well. We might be able to get a book about summoning magic from a treasure chest. Pino taught us that. She told us that in high difficulty dungeons, there might be a special book that can teach you about something in a specialized field, such as special items, magic, or medicine. In that case, we have no excuse not to go into dungeons.
“In this case, I ended up deciding to go to the demon castle, but… I’m sorry. It’s just for my own convenience.”
“No, that’s not true at all. I’m also interested in seeing places I’ve never been to. And it’s fun to be with you, Hiroki.”
Even in a dungeon that can take us to the brink of death, Lusha will surely keep smiling and follow me.
Lusha noticed the pause in the conversation. “Hiroki, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I was just thinking how I’ve been blessed with friends.”
I mean, Lusha is seriously too kind. When I came to this world, there were some disgusting people like the human king, but I also met a lot of good people like Lusha, and Freutz, and all the others who were kind and nice to me.
I want to cherish this relationship from now on.
“I’ll definitely protect you, Lusha.”
“No, that… look, I’m a vanguard, a Healer.”
“I see. Yeah, I’m expecting it! So I’ll defeat the enemy who attacks us!”
“I’ll depend on you for that.”
We both giggled in a whisper so as not to wake up Ren and Ruri. Our next adventure was about to begin.
The End of Vol 2~