It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (108/119), enjoy~
The inside of the “Spirit King Temple” was ostensibly divided into four sections, and five sections if you included the area that only the Princess Shrine Maiden was allowed to enter.
The central section was where the Spirit King was enshrined, the Baptismal Village ― a place where newborn babies and those visiting the “Spirit King Temple” are invited for the first time.
The east section was a place where apprentice shrine maidens are trained, a place where men are forbidden, and outsiders are not allowed to enter. The west section is the residential area for the shrine maiden knights and their apprentices, and this is where Hiro slept. The south section is a resting place open to the public, with lodgings and eating places for pilgrims and travelers, as well as a hall where ambassadors from surrounding countries are invited.
Finally, the north section.
It was located inside, yet outside at the same time, and once you pass through the only entrance, another world spreads out.
Trees grew thickly, small animals chirped happily, and the sound of the stream caressed your eardrums. If you raised your head, you would squint at the glare of the sun pointing to midheaven.
This was the Baptismal Palace, a sacred place that only certain people were allowed to enter.
In an open area near the entrance, there was a white desk. Tea utensils were placed on top of it, and a pile of sweets was placed beside it. In the midst of such an atmosphere of an afternoon tea party, two women were facing each other across the desk.
“I never thought I’d find a place like this in the Spirit King Temple ― clean air, pleasant breeze, warm sunshine, delicious tea ― it’s like I’ve wandered into another world.”
The woman with purple and silver hair smiled elegantly as she smelled the fragrance of tea. The gesture mixed with a hint of glamour could make even the same sex’s heart beat faster, but in her case, it was more of an absorbing beauty than an attractive charm.
“Ara, is my tea not to your taste, Princess Shrine Maiden-sama?”
The gentle air, similar to a spring breeze, flickered with sexuality around her charming and gentle eyes, caressed the bridge of her well-developed nose, and finally passed over her pale pink lips that were drawn in an arc.
Her delicate face was fantastic and seductive – but it was her white skin that caught the attention more than anything else. Fairy ― a heretic child who was forced to live as one of the Long-Eared People while being born as a Demon. There was only one such person in the Central Continent.
She was Claudia Van Levering, Queen of the Levering Kingdom.
“No, it has a refreshing aroma but a deep flavor. It’s very delicious.”
The one who responded with a bit of confusion was a woman with an innocent atmosphere.
As with Claudia, the smooth, lustrous skin that covered her ample limbs had a lustrous sheen from the sunlight. Her unparalleled beauty was enhanced by the scent of her sex appeal, and the soothing fragrance that emanated from her beauty was irresistible to the eye. Her long ears, a characteristic of the “Long-Eared Race,” were hidden from view by her sideburns, which were agitated by the wind. She was the guardian of the “Spirit King Temple” and the fourth generation of Princess Shrine Maiden, who was allowed to talk with the “Spirit King.”
“Fufu, as expected of Princess Shrine Maiden-sama, she knows everything. By the way, this leaf is one of the specialties of our country. If you are willing, I can arrange a deal with the “Spirit King Temple.” There seem to be a lot of women here, so I’m sure they would be very pleased.”
“Indeed, the apprentice shrine maiden will be delighted… I will positively consider it.”
“I look forward to your favorable response. If I may say so, our country also produces silver and copper. What do you think is necessary for the current small country of Baum?”
Claudia started off casually as if making small talk, but it clearly had a diplomatic element to it. It would normally be done in an official setting according to formality, but Claudia’s real intention was probably to get a statement on this occasion.
The princess shrine maiden frowned for a moment but quickly put on a calm face, took a sip of tea, and after a short pause, a smile appeared on the corner of her mouth.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t have the authority to do that since the Spirit King Temple is partly borrowed from the small country of Baum.”
As soon as Hiro took the throne of the small country of Baum, he separated the “Spirit King Temple” from the framework of the country. The “Spirit King Temple” had its own army of spirit knights, but they numbered less than a thousand. Hiro’s private army, the “Raven Army,” numbered about five thousand. If they were attacked from all sides, they would be helpless.
To the east of the small country of Baum, beyond the great sea, was the Eastern Archipelago, ruled by the Twelve Tribes, the founders of the Beast Tribe.
To the north was the Levering Kingdom of the Demon Race, which was gaining momentum under the leadership of Claudia.
To the west was the Great Grantz Empire, which is still the dominant power in the Central Continent, though it had been exhausted by repeated wars.
To the south, there was the slave state of the Principality of Lichtine.
“I see, so that’s why he created such a troublesome system?”
Claudia then nodded her head in agreement and looked at the princess shrine maiden.
“The Spirit King Temple is always neutral. I apologize, but we are not allowed to get involved in any disputes.”
When Hiro ascended to the throne of the small country of Baum, the surrounding countries all criticized him at once.
The Grantz Empire, a long-time friend of theirs, was no exception.
The “sacred land” of the “Human Race” that had been snatched away from them was to be reclaimed. In order to avoid the invaders who had gained a good cause, Hiro had separated the “small country of Baum” and the “Spirit King Temple.”
In order to prevent it from becoming a weakness for the country and prevent it from being used by other countries, he made the “Spirit King Temple” independent and gave it autonomy, creating a strange structure.
“I think I’ll just have to give up now that you’ve said that much. I’ll be patient and try to persuade His Majesty the ‘Black Dragon King.'”
Either she didn’t have any expectations from the start, or she wanted to make sure, but either way, Claudia quickly backed down.
There was a faint noise between them, the sound of a lawn being trampled, and they turned to look at each other.
“…We have another unusual visitor, don’t we?”
He is wearing a white cloak, an emotionless mask, and a black sword at his waist.
He removed the mask with his right hand and revealed a soft face.
His appearance was no different from two years ago; his face was so young.
His height has not increased at all, even though he was still growing.
It was as if he was the only one who had stopped the march of time, and nothing had changed.
“Your Majesty, the ‘Black Dragon King’ is looking as young as ever. I have Demon blood in my veins, so I age at a slower rate than humans, but…”
Claudia said and lifted her breasts up as if she were scooping them up.
“And yet, my breasts never stop growing. Even as a Demon, I have probably grown in places I’m not even aware of. But compared to that, you have not changed at all. Is there a secret to this?”
Claudia’s gaze is lustrous, and her wet eyes look up at him invitingly. But deep down, she had the light of a bird seeking its prey.
“Who knows, maybe it’s best to stay up late, eat as much as you can, and stay in your room being lazy. There’s no secret to it except to be lazy.”
It’s best to stay indoors. Hiro shrugged his shoulders and put on his mask again.
Claudia’s shoulders slumped in resignation as she tried to figure out whether to laugh or be taken aback by the response.
“I’ll be sure to ask you about that in the future… but then again, she’s still very attached to you, isn’t she?”
Claudia’s gaze turned to the shade of the tree behind Hiro. There was a figure of Luca sitting on the roots of a tree that rose from the ground.
If it were just that, Claudia would not have said anything.
However, Luca was mumbling something and watching Hiro from behind the tree. The sight was beyond creepy; it was simply terrifying.
“Hmm? You mean Luca?”
And Hiro’s unconcerned reaction, despite being subjected to such vindictiveness, had to be called abnormal as well. Claudia looked at Hiro as if she had discovered a mysterious creature.”
“Could it be that… you prefer sticky women like that?”
Claudia’s eyes widened slightly, and she looked into Hiro’s face. Her expression was bloodless as if she were a wife who had discovered her husband’s infidelity.
“What are you talking about…?”
“No, I’ve known something was wrong for a while. I’ve been wondering if you have any unusual hobbies, such as not paying attention to women who come near you, reading books without ever leaving your room, occasionally going outside to join sweaty men to kill monsters, or keeping women who want to kill you close by.”
Hiro snorted in response to the verbal assault and then opened his mouth to change the subject.
“That’s not the point now. Why are you here? I told you to wait for me in the visitor’s room if you had any business. How did you get here in the first place?”
As if she knew she wouldn’t get much of a response, Claudia shrugged her shoulders and started to answer Hiro’s question.
“I had been to the Spirit King Temple about an hour ago, but the shrine maiden knight told me that His Majesty the Black Dragon King was in the audience room. So I decided to take a stroll since I didn’t want to just wait around, but I have more senses than most people, don’t I? I sensed the strange atmosphere and walked on and found such a beautiful place.”
Claudia said this nonchalantly, and sipped her already cold tea.
When Hiro saw this, he put his hands on his hips and looked up at the sky in annoyance.
“So you met Princess Shrine Maiden, and you’re drinking tea here?”
“That’s how it happened.”
And it was the princess shrine maiden who nodded her head as if to say that she was right.
“Then, I think you’re done here. We can talk further in my room.”
Hiro turned his attention to Luca.
“Luca, please show Claudia to my room.”
“Why do I have to show this thieving cat around?”
Luca glared at Hiro resentfully, biting her thumbnail.
There was a root of misfortune between Luca and Claudia that they couldn’t get rid of.
This was nothing more than the fact that Claudia interfered with her best chance to cut off Hiro’s head in the battle two years ago. If Luca’s first wish was for Hiro’s death, then her second wish was for Claudia’s head.
“If she goes somewhere else again, you can do whatever you want.”
It was a joke, but Luca knew it wouldn’t go over well with her, so she jumped up and approached Hiro and the others.
“I’ll take care of it, then. If you don’t want to be disciplined, then shut up and follow me.”
“Fufu, it would be interesting to discipline a wild dog with its fangs pulled out in reverse.”
Both of them had a lot to say. They started to walk side by side as if they were checking each other out, creating an acrimonious atmosphere that could lead to a fistfight.
“You two go on ahead. I’ll catch up with you soon.”
They stared at each other, regardless of whether they heard it or not, as they disappeared down the hallway. As soon as the two of them were out of sight, Hiro turned his gaze to the princess shrine maiden.
“You’ve “seen” it from the start. What do you think their purpose is?”
Even though the question came out of the blue, the princess shrine maiden nodded in understanding and opened her mouth.
“It’s hard to say at this stage, but… I’m sure they’ve come to check something out.”
The goodwill ambassadors of the Vanir Three Kingdoms, whom Hiro had just met, surprisingly enough, were really just here to greet him. It’s hard to believe that they risked their lives to come all the way from Vanir Three Kingdoms in the southwestern corner of the country to the small country of Baum in the eastern corner just to greet someone. And she must have been “watching” the audience from here while she was with Claudia. This was because she had a special “eye.”
It’s one of the world’s three most secret eyes that have been handed down through generations of princess shrine maidens ― “Clairvoyant eyes” ― a mysterious pair of eyes that can see into distant places, capture people’s emotions in color, and have the power to see into the future.
“…Is it reasonable to assume that they came to see if the Spirit King is still here?”
“Maybe. No, I think it’s very likely.”
Hiro stroked the tip of his chin and exhaled heavily, feeling annoyed.
“I didn’t want the Vanir Three Kingdoms to find out about this yet…”
“It wasn’t something that could be hidden from the beginning. The power of the Spirit King was so great that it was almost a miracle that it could be concealed until now.”
The Princess shrine maiden’s words of consolation did not lift Hiro’s gloomy spirits.
“Luca was able to get into this place. It looks like the Spirit King hasn’t come back after all.”
Normally, Claudia would not have been able to visit this place. But that was only on the condition that the Spirit King’s power was still at work.
“Yes… He’s still in hiding. I’ve been trying to call out to him several times, but he’s never responded.”
“If I remember correctly… the “Spirit King” was already gone when I was summoned again. I believe so. Am I wrong?”
“Yes… you’re right. When Your Majesty the Black Dragon King was re-summoned, the Spirit King no longer responded to my attempts to talk to him.”
“Were you able to do so before that?”
“Just to some extent… No… right.”
The princess shrine maiden hesitated and turned her face down, making her speech unusually slurred.
“It may be better to be honest with you, Your Majesty the Black Dragon King.”
She looked up as if she had made up her mind, and her expression was somber.
“The power of the Spirit King was weakening as the population of the Human Race increased. Just before he re-summoned Your Majesty the Black Dragon King, he only had a little power left.”
After summoning Hiro again, the “Spirit King” had probably used up all of his power, but he no longer responded to attempts to talk to him. At the same time, the people who had been hiding in the underground started to move boldly, most likely because the “Spirit King” was no longer an obstacle.
“But before that, there must have been a trigger. The reason why the Spirit King’s power was weakened.”
In the days just before Hiro’s return to Earth, the power of the Spirit King was not weakened by an increase in population.
“I’ve been researching something ever since I came to this world, and I’ve noticed something.”
“…You have noticed something?”
“Yes, I’ve noticed two periods. The first is 500 years ago, and the second is 300 years ago.”
Five hundred years ago was the year of the discovery of the new races, the Flesh Eaters and the Marked People. And three hundred years ago was the year when the emperor was assassinated in an unprecedented incident, and the Black Death Village became known as such.
“I suspect that the Spirit King’s power weakened around 500 years ago and that he used up most of his power 300 years ago. Otherwise, there would have been no such incident as the assassination of the emperor.”
Hiro affirmed, holding up his index finger and looking at the princess shrine maiden.
“There is a more interesting story. From the time the Grantz Empire was founded until the emergence of the new race, the number of emperors was twenty-two. But for some reason, the remaining five hundred years saw an increase in the number of emperors with short reigns. And starting with the assassination of the emperor three hundred years ago, only a few of them have lived to the fullest.”
The more he investigated, the more he found out about the dark side of the Grantz family.
“In a certain place, I saw a man with red hair.”
In the tomb where Altius lay, he encountered the visions of the former emperors throughout the world, where a vast amount of information circulated. Among them, the four treasured swords that the man with the red hair was holding were burned into Hiro’s mind, and he could not get them out.
“I was really… surprised. He had the Flame Emperor with him.”
The princess shrine maiden’s eyes widened, and her shoulders trembled greatly.