Ein glared at Kain who was napping looking comfortable underneath a tree.
Even Kain’s authority as the rumored Hero-sama held no meaning whatsoever to Ein.
Ever since he came a few days ago, Kain secluded himself in the forest the whole time.
As for why, it was because this place was Ein’s──or rather, the Majuu (magical beast) Blackbirds’ residence, which was the race that Ein belonged to.
In this eastern forest that was distant from the central Arkverm which was famous as a tourist attraction, there were few members of mankind that came here to sightsee, and since this was a forest where Majuu (magical beasts) live, there shouldn’t be anyone that approaches it.
To have purposely come to a place like that, Kain was undoubtedly a weirdo.
「You, how long do you plan on staying in the forest?」
「Uーn. I have this whole week. It’s a bit troublesome over there right now.」
「So it’s about women.」
Hearing Ein spit that out, Kain groaned with an “ugh”. He didn’t want to admit it, but that was exactly it.
「I thought it would turn out like that someday. It’s a miracle you haven’t been stabbed until now.」
「H, hey! Could you not say it like I’m some sort of playboy!」
「You might not be a playboy, but there’s no mistake that you’re a lady-killer, right?」
「Uu……I can’t really deny that at this point.」
Kain was a bit relieved to have been recognized as not being a playboy, but it couldn’t be helped by the fact that he could be said to be a lady-killer.
Right now, the royal capital……or rather, the whole kingdom was wrapped up in a Hero boom.
The St. Altlis Kingdom which was the 「Hero’s nation」, and the young man that magnificently appeared together with the God of Life Philia.
He was worshiped as the Hero, and it took no time at all for that to spread throughout the kingdom.
His episodes as an Adventurer were dug up, troubadours sang about him, books that were extremely dramatized came out, people gathered in the Adventurer’s Guild to try and see him……all of that was still fine.
The problem was after that.
Kain was a son of the Stagius Baron House that was out on the frontier──In other words, he was a noble, but, in the end, since it was a Baron House out on the frontier, they would be luck enough if a third-born or fourth-born daughter from a higher ranking noble would be sent to the Stagius House with objective of taking them into their faction, and normally, they would have a position where no one would even look in their direction.
However, due to the Hero uproar, the signboard called the 「Stagius Baron House」 had abruptly started to shine.
After all, it was the House that birthed the Hero. With his grandfather also having been a former chivalric order member that was brimming with valor, it was a precious lineage that should have birthed a Hero. That is how they were evaluated.
Like that, the debate that since the rank of baron, which was on the lower side as a noble, wasn’t appropriate from him, should they make a new peerage of 「Hero Count」 or not ended up seriously going around the royal capital.
As for why that happened, it was because they had plans to make their own daughters to Kain.
At the Stagius Baron House, it was currently having requests for marriage meetings to the point that he would think that the estate would be buried with just the portraits of the applicants.
Not just that, if he went into town, every day he would get surrounded by women he didn’t know saying 「Kain-sama」 or 「Hero-sama」 and be unable to walk around.
That sort of thing didn’t happen in the royal castle that he became able to freely go in and out of, but Princess Elia would tag along with Kain, and King Aljuel, who has been particularly in a good mood recently, would suggest that Kain get engaged to Princess Elia at every chance he had.
Plus, after having learned about Kain’s situation, his two friends at the Edius Adventurer School──coming from both Sharon’s Tianot Company and Seira’s Necros Duke House, the 「how about getting engaged soon」 attacks became relentless.
Explaining the general situation, Kain smiled at Ein.
「But look, Ein, you might think about me, but you wouldn’t say that sort of thing, right?」
「What’s with you, did you think I liked you? That is some outrageous self-consciousness.」
Seeing Ein look at him with eyes that looked like she was surprised from the bottom of her heart, Kain burst out a *puh* and started laughing just like that.
「Right, right, that’s the part that is relieving. As things are now, there are fewer people that would say something that sternly to me.」
Indeed, the title of 「Hero」 had, for better or worse, given a strong influence to Kain’s life.
His days of continuing to hide that fact had passed, and now, Humans charmed by his title were gathering around him in swarms.
People like Sharon and Seira were probably attracted to Kain himself……but even that had become a bit painful to Kain, who was submerged in a storm of stale kindness.
In other words, it probably meant that he ran away while he couldn’t feel the weight of the people that truly liked him.
「……Well, occasionally resting is necessary. Things will become busy soon enough anyway.」
Kain turned his eyes to the sky, and let out a large breath.
「Wentas (Warped God), huh. Honestly, it’s scary.」
「What’s this? Now you’re whining?」
「Although it wouldn’t be allowed for the Hero, right now, I am just Kain after all」
Going “Haha”, Kain laughed with a complicated look.
Putting aside if it was the Kain who was just an Adventurer, a 「Hero」 who carried the hope of the world being faint hearted would bring about dark clouds to the world.
It would be different if he were as farsighted as Vermudol, but being a normal Human, it was only natural for Kain to feel the world as being heavy.
Putting aside if it was from the time when they met, the current Ein was able to understand Kain’s anguish.
Even though there was a clamor over the Hero or whatever, Kain held normal feelings for a man appropriate of his age, no matter where he went.
Before long, Ein, who was silently looking down at Kain, breathed out a sigh and spoke.
「If you are that tired, how about you just abandon everything and live in this nation? It probably work out right now, but once even the Wentas (Warped God) is defeated, you’ll probably be released from that 『obligation』.」
Kain went blank from that suggestion of Ein’s, and then he expressed a small smile.
「……Abandon everything, huh.」
「Yeah. If you say that you can’t live in a way that is like you, then that is also an inevitable choice.」
Being a bit surprised by the kind words that weren’t like Ein, Kain became silent for a while, and then muttered 「that, sounds fun too」.
However, he slowly shook his head sideways.
「But, that’s no good. I am carrying too many different things to do that. To abandon all of that, would be the greatest case of irresponsibility in history.」
「I feel like that isn’t something that you should exchange yourself for though.」
「But, I’m sure that even that included is a result of my choice. If I were to run away from that place, I feel like I would surely lose the qualification to choose anything anymore.」
Seeing Kain making a slightly refreshed looking face, Ein answered with just that.
Some of his doubt might have vanished.
However, in a manner of speaking, that was all.
The path that Kain was going on was surely different from what he had desired at the beginning.
Even after this, he might not ever go down the path he desired. Straying from the path that was paved with expectations of him should be extremely difficult.
「……If you ever want to run away, you can come at any time.」
「Eh, in that case, Ein, would that mean you would take me in?」
「I will disparage you to the point that you would think that returning to your nation would be a blessing.」
As Ein made another sigh over how Kain laughed with a “hahaha”, Zwei, who came after noticing Kain’s presence, threw a fruit at him.
With the scene of Kain reacting to that and throwing it back……Before he knew it, it wasn’t just Vermudol, but everyone was enthusiastically gazing at the crystal ball.
「How do you think that combination really is? For me, I think it’s pretty possible though.」
「I wonder about that. I think it’s a friendship that surpassed gender though.」
「It’s possible to make both of those conclusions, isn’t it. However, to think that Ein would be that touched.」
「Nino also wants to have a nap in the shade of a tree with Demon King-sama.」
「Rather, this crystal ball-looking thing is foul play……What kind of theories are behind it?」
When the Demon God cheerfully asked that, Ykslaas and Ichika properly answered, while Nino and Rokuna expressed their own thoughts.
Compared to the female group that was saying whatever they liked, Vermudol was making a serious expression.
Ichika looked into Vermudol’s face, looking worried.
「Vermudol-sama? Do you have a concern?」
「Nn? Ahh, at present, there isn’t anything grave enough to be called a concern, but」
Seeing Vermudol say that as if he had something stuck in his back teeth, Ykslaas expressed a question mark.
「What the heck, you’re not being clear. If you have something you want to say, isn’t it fine if you just say it.」
「Is that so? That’s true……」
Putting it simply, it was about Kain and Ein’s relationship.
He knew that the personal relationships surrounding Kain were having complications, but although it was through the crystal ball, it was his first time hearing Kain’s sentiments. It seemed that he was considerably tired from the noble society on their side.
The possibility of the Hero having his mind fall ill would definitely lead to grave problems in the future.
Even just looking at the Canal Kingdom’s case, 「Humans with power」 whose minds had fallen ill had the possibility of running with considerably extreme actions.
Even how 「Hero Kain」 would turn Vermudol into a foe once his mind fell ill would need to be taken into consideration.
Particularly in the case that he is brought into the St. Altlis royal family, there was no denying the possibility that he could become 「King Kain」……And before they realized it, it would be a war with the St. Altlis Kingdom army lead by King Kain who was the Hero. If that were to turn into that situation, it would be unbearable to watch.
「……So, we should think of a method to make Ein Kain’s wife, and bring him into our side?」
「Uwah, that’d be interesting. Let’s do it right away.」
「Hey, stop that. That isn’t something that should be done from just an idea.」
「However, I believe there is value in trying it. There is a need to consider the timing though.」
The Demon God instigated him, Ykslaas remonstrated him, and Ichika demonstrated an understanding of Vermudol’s idea.
Through this splendid combination, the 「Bring Kain in plan」 had been officially decided within Vermudol as a matter to consider……but if Ein were here, she would probably shout 「Please stop」. If her little brother Zwei were here, he might immediately go to challenge Kain to a duel.
「Still, fufu. If the Hero really were to come over to this side with that……Wouldn’t this Mazoku continent, really become the 『Strongest Continent』? Even that companion of the past Hero gets along really well with the Hero on this side, right?」
Thinking about Luuty and Sancreed, Vermudol shook his head.
「That is something that I can’t make a judgement on but……to begin with, from the moment I am around, something like military balance greatly collapses.」
「Pretty much. But, the world wouldn’t judge it like that. The 『Hero』 being an existence that defeats the 『Demon King』 is globally acknowledged after all.」
Indeed. Under the cover of the turmoil, the Demon King snatched the Hero──there would surely be Humans insisting that.
There was also the possibility that the Altlis Grand Temple, which was in the process of losing their influence, might clamor for a new Hero summoning.
「What a bothersome story.」
「It was like that from the beginning, right?」
In response to the Demon God’s teasing sounding words, Vermudol made a wry smile.
That’s right, the bothersomeness started from the moment he was born.
What he saw when he opened his eyes were the ruins called the Demon King Castle, and his only subordinate, Ichika.
Not having even proper tableware or food, let alone weapons or treasure, it was a state where he ate a soup that Ichika had made by only boiling water that had potatoes and salt mixed in using her handmade tableware.
The entire Dark Continent was in chaos, and there were countless 「self-proclaimed Demon Kings」 in the western region.
Once he suppressed all of that and stabilized domestic affairs with some drastic measures, events that would immediately make people say things like 「it’s because of the Demon King」 in mankind’s territory sprung forth in succession.
There wasn’t a single bit of information to use to try and search for the Gods, and when he investigated the Hero legends of the past, all he could find were fairy tales that tricked children.
There was also plenty of turmoil with the 「self-proclaimed Demon King」’s attack, and the Alva uproar.
And once he turned around, after ultimately getting firmly entangled even in the Canal Kingdom’s family troubles, now he was the world conference’s initiator.
Thinking about it from his initial objective of 「not perishing to the Hero」, it had turned into quite a lot of work.
「……But still, as a result, we still have the now. It still isn’t done, but the things up until this point have been excellent.」
「That might be true. It probably isn’t a bad result. I think it’s a satisfactory place to be, ya know?」
「Hn, you say that pretty condescendingly.」
Seeing the Demon God chuckle, Vermudol said 「Don’t get on the desk」, and removed the Demon God from on top of the desk.
Although the removed Demon God seemed dissatisfied with that, she grinned at Vermudol.
「Well, what I did doesn’t matter. Vermudol, you are in the process of creating a future where you 『don’t perish to the Hero』 at the end of your hard work.」
「And, so. Right now, where you are surmounting that, what is your next objective?」
That’s right, at the beginning, that was his objective.
A simple job of only perishing to the Hero──In response to the Demon God that told him that, he fought back as if to say “as if he would accept that sort of fate”.
He created the Zadark Kingdom, and awakened to his awareness as a King. From there, he moved not as an individual, but as a 「King」. “If I am to protect this nation, as if I could perish to something like the Hero”, that is the kind of awareness he shifted to.
And then, if that was accomplished……What was it that Vermudol needed to do from now on?
There was no doubt that what he should be focusing on was the future.
But, what was it that he should draw in that future?
Thinking that……Vermudol laughed with a “fu”.
「Oya, did you think of it?」
「Yeah, there was no need to even think about it.」
The Demon God muttered a “heeh” sounding like she was interested, but there was no telling if it would be an answer that would satisfy her or not.
However, Vermudol felt that that should be the future he should be aiming for.
「What I am aiming for, is this nation’s prosperity and stability……A path other than that, doesn’t exist.」
That’s right, Vermudol was the Demon King as well as the King of a nation.
A King──no, a leader is a position that constantly carries responsibility. Guiding others by saying “Since I am taking responsibility, I want you to advance through the direction I point out. The future is there” is what a leader is, what a king is.
A 「nation」 was a form of a promise. Vermudol’s promise to the Zadark Kingdom was, in other words, to construct a stable society for the Mazoku that were guided by the Demon King.
At present, that was accomplished……and even after this, it needed to continue.
「Uーn……Well, I suppose that’s reasonable.」
「Reasonable, huh. Well, naturally it is. It is something that you said after all.」
Seeing the Demon God tilt her head, Vermudol grinned.
「According to you, being the Demon King was a simple job of only perishing to the Hero. But, I desired more than that, and therefore, this nation was made.」
「But, there is nothing absolute or eternal in this world. If I……or someone that will follow after me, make a mistake, the possibility of 『perishing to the Hero』 will appear once again.」
That’s right, and then after the Demon King has perished, the Zadark Kingdom will also slowly advance down the path of collapse. It is because if they were to lose the support known as the Demon King, the Mazoku would have extraordinary difficulty in staying together as one.
「For this reason, I need to continue to protect the world of 『not perishing to the Hero』 that I obtained. I need to ascertain the state of the world, and occasionally intervene and adjust it.」
Hearing that much, the Demon God understood what Vermudol wanted to say.
「Ahh, I see! In other words, you want to say it like this.」
Becoming idle is simple. After falling as much as you can, you will surely perish to the Hero.
The Zadark Kingdom will collapse, and the world will once again accelerate its move towards chaos.
If you don’t want it to turn out like that, you need to stick to being diligent and being the strongest, and constantly be sensitive to the world’s movements.
Polish yourself, polish your nation, polish up the world. You aren’t allowed to say that you can’t.
Yes, that is it. In other words, it can only be like that.
Glancing over at the Demon God that said that so proudly, Vermudol nodded.
「That is how it is.」
The Demon God and Vermudol grinned simultaneously.
From the start all the way to the end, that part would not waver.
Even if Vermudol, who was an 「egg of a God」, were to become a God with some sort of impetus, that would not change. If one looked out over the numerous worlds, there were as many stories of an Evil God perishing to the Hero as there were stars in the sky, and there were also plenty of stories where a virtuous Demon King perishes to an evil Hero.
Therefore, in this world, as a Demon King──if he was to stay as the king of a nation, he needed to always continue challenging things.
Gaze at people, gaze at the world, continue to polish your senses. Unless you can do that, you cannot survive.
For better or for worse, perishing if your timing or luck is bad is a constant of the world.
However, manipulating both timing and luck, and drawing them in was the job of a king.
Even if it is impossible for a simple king, if he is both the Demon King and the king of a nation, it was possible.
「Ahh, I see. So that’s how it is.」
「I suppose it is.」
「Ahー……Well, up. I get it.」
Ykslaas, Ichika, and Rokuna……they nodded looking like they understood.
「If by any chance that I or the next generation Demon King shirk in doing that……」
That’s right, if he was unable to do that──there was only one conclusion that was prepared.
「It can only turn into 『a simple job of only perishing to the Hero』……that is what it means.」
For that reason, there was no end to the path that Vermudol should advance through.
Aiming for even further beyond and above……he could only continue advancing forward.