A figure dressed in a white lab coat hovered over the defenseless girl. Though we call her defenseless, that would be because she was sleeping due to the drugs he had prescribed. His pupils dilated, his breath ragged, he looked as if he was holding himself back. Involuntarily, words escaped his lips.
「My beloved Aiko! How much I want to hold you again!」
He reached out to her but stopped a centimeter short of her face.
「No, you are not Aiko… but you are her twin sister, so you must be the same, right?」
A twisted smile appeared on his face.
「I can hardly forget that night! If only she hadn’t made that phone call we wouldn’t need to…」
「What a waste. I went through the trouble of getting my idiot son to woo her and that’s how things end, huh… Well, not a big deal. I am looking forward to our time together “Aiko”!」
He spun around, hands outstretched, a mad smile on his face.
「Let’s have another “party”! I’ll call the same guests!」
He bent and gently kissed her on the cheek. And left the room in a hurry.
Saint Demon Confrontation Arc
088. Towards the second encounter
Hinata left the inner mansion.
When they confirmed that her presence disappeared, the four continued their conversation.
「What a pitiful child. She seriously thinks herself a hero?」
「Yeah… she’s far too inexperienced compared to the previous one」
「She wouldn’t even reach the last one’s feet!」
「But it is true that she is the strongest we have」
「But was this fine? To send Hinata without the princess’ permission?」
「She’ll be angry… but if we send Venus, Saturn, and Sun to comfort her, surely her displeasure won’t last…」
「Last time, all seven of us went and she still hadn’t completely recovered」
「But Hinata cannot be compared to that person…」
They said, exchanging glances.
Each one was confirming the other,
「We don’t know what that being is, but I’m glad it appeared」
「Indeed. Thanks to it, the princess has awakened」
「But we can’t leave it as is」
「No matter the cost, we have to recover that person…」
They said nodding.
What the Seven Celestial Sages deemed important was the true hero.
The current representative was far too inept.
Though she was as much a replacement as gathering bits of salt from the table for want of a full salt shaker, she was nonetheless the strongest material they have come across for the past few years.
But her heart was far too weak.
Obtaining mental strength and soul that far surpasses that of normal humans.
The weakness of her heart prevented her from achieving this.
She’s defective merchandise.
And she doesn’t even notice this herself. Also that her flesh has stopped growing.
She stopped growing two years after joining the church.
With her body frozen at the age of seventeen due to the spirit’s blessing, she can no longer age.
Even though she is loved by the spirits to such an extent, she could never get over her trauma.
Cool and logical.
Trying to save the weak–herself included.
But where she lacks the most is emotion.
She doesn’t love people.
Never being loved as a child has corrupted her heart.
Receiving the love of the spirits had not awakened her.
Regrettably, they could not expect a further awakening from her.
So as long as she scouted the power of the new demon lord, that would be enough.
「Have we reached an understanding?」
「Of course. If she wins–great, if she loses…」
「We’ll declare that she acted on her own」
「Right, and then we will grandly declare our recognition of the Monster Country Tempest!」
Hinata was a disposable pawn.
Good if she won, disposed of if she lost.
And they knew was how to avoid taking responsibility.
All was done for their dearest wish.
All was done for the … shrouded in darkness…
And soon enough the Sages’ presence faded into darkness.
＊ ＊ ＊
I soon found out that Sakaguchi Hinata has set off towards my Monster Country Tempest.
She’s bringing a hundred fully armed Knights Templar with her.
Without doubt, she only chose the strongest knights who would not hinder her in the slightest.
As expected of Hinata.
She immediately noticed that half-baked soldiers would be completely worthless.
But… I thought with regret.
That action identifies us a naturally dangerous existence and rejects any chance for future reconciliation.
Frankly, what is she aiming for in the future?
If you don’t seek to understand your opponent, your only option is to destroy them…
But that would inevitably lead to a great war.
Though modern Japanese knew how much blood has been shed in the name of god.
In the end, Hinata and the church are moving by forcing their ideals onto others.
Such actions completely disregard what the other party believes or has to say.
I do not believe any justice can be found in these acts.
Does Hinata not understand that?
I did realize she was a person who disregards what others have to say.
If the enemy is a monster, there’s no need to listen.
Does she believe that they would be able to display their true power when a war starts?
Just a thought, but I had been expecting her to act according to modern Japanese common sense, but doesn’t she completely lack it?
If she came over here when she was 15, does she not know the history of our world?
Moreover, I don’t know much about modern education, so how much do they teach these days?
At the end of the day, whether you can put your knowledge into practice depends on the person themselves.
Not knowing something is hardly an excuse and one that doesn’t matter to us at all.
There’s nothing we can do about the fact that she was given great power while still a child.
Besides, she declared us her enemies.
There’s no point in saying anything anymore.
I shake my head chasing these thoughts away.
I have to crush my enemy.
I gathered the department heads and went over the situation.
First, Souei reported on Hinata’s advance.
On my decree, he had sent spies into the major cities of the Ingracia Kingdom and Farmas Kingdom.
Obtaining information is the basics of wars.
When we sent an emissary to the church, I also sent spies all the way to the Holy Empire Ruberion.
But, to my surprise, a squad of knights suddenly transferred and departed from Ingracia Kingdom’s Western Saints Church headquarters.
Since entering it was dangerous, further confirmation was obtained by the power of gold, so whether the information can be trusted or not…
Seriously Souei… though I taught him the basics of being a ninja, he developed it to suit his own tastes.
Even I, who taught him, am surprised by how much it fits him.
Well, in reality, the most important points were taught by Fuze.
Though he probably taught him a bunch of devious things, so it’s not like anyone could accomplish this much. I see, I thought satisfied.
Souei sent out Souka and the other ninjas to various countries and is using natives to gather information.
And among the information they acquired was the fact that there were strangely too many Knights Templar in the Ingracia Kingdom.
What is strange about it is the speed at which people move to Ingracia Kingdom from the Holy Empire Ruberion.
No matter how many roads they make or how safe they are, they move far too quickly.
And, more people enter the Church than leave.
In the end, over the course of three days, a hundred templars had set off.
And the decisive evidence was the appearance of Imperial Guard Captain Sakaguchi Hinata.
She’s quite famous so information bureaus immediately found out.
The hundred soldiers naturally saddled horses and departed towards the Farmas Kingdom.
In other words, they are taking the fastest route towards our country.
They’ll be here within two weeks.
With that mind, I should praise Souei for obtaining the information that quickly.
He calmly presented his findings at this emergency department head meeting.
He has become truly reliable.
「As expected, you’ve obtained crucial data within a short period of time. Keep up the good work in the future」
「No, at this point I still have many things to improve」
When I praised him, Souei thus quietly accepted the praise.
Truly, a shadow.
His beautiful face is completely expressionless.
Now then, using the acquired information we can come up with a plan.
Though we have not been able to confirm that her party is in fact composed of templars, I decided to proceed with that in mind.
In that case, they are an army of 100 A ranked individuals. Led by Hinata.
Unlike the previous 15 thousand army, the current one is overwhelmingly more hazardous.
I am not planning on going out alone this time. Not planning on a suicide, you see.
So what should we do?
I asked the department heads for their opinion.
「How about we cut them all down?」
I won’t say who said it, but let’s just say that this person is an idiot.
Completely ignoring whether we can or cannot do it, she only mentioned the outcome.
That’s why she wished for such a useless unique skill.
「Fight them all head on? If we do that, there will certainly be casualties」
Yup. Benimaru seems to have abandoned prideful thoughts.
He seriously considers abilities and can accurately judge our fighting strength.
Well, he often trains with Hakurou so this is the evidence of his growth.
I always say that we should leave it to our general, but maybe that’s actually a good idea.
「How about we use my Hiryuu Division to attack them from the sky?」
「That might be a good idea, but they are templars. Each must be A ranked at least.
Even if we attack from above, we won’t be able to pierce through their barrier.
We might be able to stop them that way, but surely Gerudo would do better at that」
「As you say. My division is numerous. And if we just need to stop them, they won’t be able to harm us all that much」
That’s how the conversation proceeded.
Just when everyone was safe and sound. I won’t stand to see my friends die.
But our enemy is Hinata, and she’s dangerous.
When we last fought I was able to run away–my goal, but if we fought to the death I would have certainly died.
Moreover, she didn’t go all out.
Presently, only I can oppose her.
I can’t imagine myself losing, but I don’t know how things will go if the knights will fight along with her.
Moreover, the knights pose a different problem. How should we treat them?
Should we slaughter them all or let them go?
They are humanity’s guardians blessed by the spirits.
I can’t ignore the casualties created by monsters in this world. And protecting the villages and cities is the duty of these knights.
They prevent further casualties. Most of them hate monsters. And these templars are the embodiment of hopes, expectations, and prayers of every victim.
Such are the Knights Templar.
Maybe this time if I can talk to Hinata I can clarify the misunderstanding.
But unfortunately, as we are monsters, she treats us as the plague in need of immediate cleansing.
Not that I don’t understand their point.
Surely many of them lost friends, family, and lovers to monsters.
And it is true that many mindless monsters pointlessly rampage.
Monster Country Tempest prevents such casualties.
And, we displaced no monsters from these lands, it seems.
But in some other land a monster may be killing a human right now.
If we massacre all the knights, who would protect those lands?
I can’t just ignore my responsibility for those lost lives.
How annoying. It’s all because Hinata doesn’t listen.
That being said, there’s no way to make them trust us or to avoid battle…
Nor are they an opponent we can fight while holding back.
They are anti-monster experts. If we underestimate them we will be killed.
If we win with overwhelming strength maybe we could convince them of our good intentions.
Anyways, I want to win without producing a single casualty.
In that case, a personal duel.
If I defeat Hinata, the knight’s will will break.
What a pain.
Without knowing her true strength I cannot expect things to go according to plan…
「Alright, I decided. We will win without killing a single knight.
But that’s as long none of us fall in battle.
Which is why,
First, the Yellow Numbers led by Gerudo will form a defensive line around Tempest.
Do not permit a single knight to enter our city.
Benimaru, leading the Green Numbers, Crimson, and Yellow Numbers will be stationed inside.
Support whichever section is engaged in combat.
Listen up, Gerudo’s group is our primary line of defense.
If the enemy reaches it, annihilate them.
And, Gobuta and his Goblin Riders are our main force this time.
Yomigaeri will engage in battle directly. Even if they can’t win, they are immortal so they will slow them down.
Next, Gobuta and the Goblin Riders will support Yomigaeri.
Engage in a hit and run tactic to disturb their movements.
Don’t allow them to trap you in so focus on mobility.
Last, Hiryu will engage from the skies.
Rescue the troubled riders and close any gaps in our defense line.
And, engage with the intention of fighting a single one at a time.
It would be good if the templars can witness the whole battle.
Souei will observe the battle from the shadows.
Diablo will avoid engaging directly and observe from the skies.
If you see exceedingly strong knights, I’ll leave them to you.
Benimaru, I leave the final defense line to you. Gerudo, obey his instructions.
Also, should the enemy prove far stronger than expected and our chances of victory next to none, Benimaru, immediately begin the retreat.
Escape to High Orc settlements.
If I fall, Veldora will face Hinata.
That is all.」
I decided on what could hardly be called a strategy.
In a one-in-a-million chance that they invade our city, Benimaru’s and Gerudo’s will protect it.
I made the plan while considering all of their propositions.
I closed my eyes and ran a few battle simulations.
Frankly, Wisdom King Raphael believes this to be the course of action that produces the fewest casualties.
Actually, Raphael doesn’t doubt my victory at all.
This whole plan collapses if I have a hard time fighting her or lose.
Is Raphael okay?
I think this every time, but isn’t Raphael an exceedingly confident individual?
If anything, Raphael trusts me too deeply.
Well, the Wisdom King trusts my strength. Which I don’t trust–hence our greatest difference.
I look at the department heads hither assembled.
They are all looking at me.
「In other words, we decapitate all of them, right?」
In other words, we’re fighting without killing any of them and without losing a single one of us.
In the meantime, Rimuru-sama will bring us their general’s head!」
Seems like they got it.
For a second there I wondered if they’re all ailed in the head.
But if Shion understood, then everyone else did too.
I’ll punch the sleeping Gobuta later, so that’ll also be fine.
「Now then, just so that everyone understands, I will say it again.
If the enemy is stronger than I expected, if the battle goes poorly, escape.
I leave that decision to Diablo and Benimaru.
Also, don’t forget to share information via the Thought Network.
I hope we can all weather this storm safely. That is all!」
「「「Ay, your will be done!!!」」」
They all consented.
Now, we await battle.
In order to assure my victory, I’ve set some devices up.
These “devices” are nothing major.
Me aside, the department heads will have a hard time if the enemy sets up a holy barrier.
On a one in a million chance the knights erect the holy barrier, we will lose.
These devices prevent the barrier from working.
They were devised thanks to Raphael’s analysis.
The simplest such device would purify magical energy using spirits. But, you need a lot of spirit power for that.
And spirits of right affinity are rare. Furthermore, you would need four such high level spirits.
So, what is the alternative?
In the first place, spirits naturally counter magical energy… and there’s an easier way to achieve the desired results.
Open up a hole in the barrier.
To do that, create a large tunnel leading out of Tempest.
Of course, the exit to the tunnel is located such that Benimaru can easily hit it will all he’s got.
So it’s no problem even if they notice the tunnel.
The entrance will be laid at a spot on the battlefield we deem most appropriate.
Since the enemy is coming via Farmas Kingdom, we can easily predict their path.
I don’t want any casualties within the forest, so we’ll fight them on an open plain.
Other than that, I’m going to be liberal and reinforce the tunnel with Demon Steel.
And that’s when I thought of having Veldora guard the tunnels. And we’ll have him release his usual aura when the battle starts.
Thus we are prepared to counter the Holy Barrier.
Everything is in order.
Now, I am merely looking forwards towards the second encounter.
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