Late at night under the starry sky.
I sat next to Lilille on top of the World Tree's wide stump, and the desert was spreading before us, no matter where we looked.
Lapisia is sleeping in my arms.
Lilille stretches out her hand and strokes Lapisia's head.
"She has a cute sleeping face, hasn't she? She's just like I used to be".
I squinted while I looked at Lilille.
When I did this, Lilille tapped me on my shoulder.
"Why are you looking at me like that? My sister and I are twins, so isn't it just natural, that I'd resemble my niece! You've met Lupersia-neesan, haven't you? Aren't we looking alike?"
She straightforwardly gets close to my face.
Her face is shining like it would emit glittering particles. She looks just like you would draw a beautiful goddess in a picture. Well, she actually is a goddess.
I wonder, if this is her usual character.
"No, Lupersia was consumed by the curse and I could only vaguely make out her silhouette."
"Was she in such a terrible state?... Thank you very much for saving my sister."
"I also wasn't really able to speak to Lupersia. Even though she told me, that she'd entrust Lapisia to me, I didn't know how to raise her."
"You've accomplished quite a lot so far, given the situation. I think that this is really amazing. --You probably have lots of questions, right? I'll tell you everything you want to know."
Lilille neatly smiles.
I wrinkle up my brows.
"There are just too many things I'd like to ask... Let's start with something simple. How should I proceed with Lapisia's next level up. Next is 'Know the sky'."
"Hmm. My sister should have set this for Lapisia. It might mean, to teach her about the connection between the sky and the earth, don't you think? Something like that the earth won't be watered without the sky."
"That's quite vague, huh. Well, next question. There's no problem with me aiming to become a Valor God, although I am a god of a different world, right?"
"Yes, since you follow the rules of this world, there are no problems. Or rather, please do so."
--Perfect. Now I have the permission of two of the main gods. I can now do as I please!
"Where did you get your hands on the egg you have?"
"I got it in the east of the Daphnes Kingdom. It was lost and I picked it up. Greyhades had probably dropped it, because he then chased after me in a panic."
"He was a muscle brain, so he probably didn't understand the importance of the egg. I guess, that's why the commander of the eastern army was in the forest at the northern border."
"Probably, you're right"
I move on to the main subject.
"Next, what kind of guy is the Demon Lord? Where is he? You said that I'm far from defeating him and that even you can't win, so how can he actually be defeated? Can you tell me everything along those lines?"
At that moment, a dark shadow appears on Lilille's beautiful face.
"The answer to this will take some time, are you okay with that?"
"Ah, I don't mind. And please be as detailed as possible, so I won't overlook anything unexpected like today."
Lilille looked up at the starry sky and sighed. Her white veil swings swiftly.
"Understood. Let me first reveal the identity of the Demon Lord. The Demon Lord isn't just the ruler of the demons. He's also known as the Hero God Vanus."
"Eh!? --Isn't he the Demon Exterminating God who has gathered the most believers!?"
"That's right. It began after our mother gave birth to us and created the world."
"Your mother is the Creation God?"
"Yes. She's also called the Creator God. Under our praise, she worked very hard, created the world and increased the living beings. But because she worked too hard, at some point, there was nothing left for her to do. Mother now had a lot of time to spare, and one day, she brought a handsome man along. As her lover. That man was Vanus."
"Was he a human?"
"We don't know where Vanus was born. But we thought that he was a splendid gentleman who was very beautiful, gentle and considerate. Mother was also completely head over heels with him and granted him divinity. No one objected at that time yet."
"Did he approach her while hiding his true character?"
"At that time, a lot of problems arose in the world. The living beings increased too much and they started to kill each other. At times, large-scale wars with many deaths occurred, and the world, that mother had created under great pains, was about to fall to ruin. At this time, Vanus made a proposal."
"'How about creating one common enemy of all living beings, so they have to work together to oppose him?'"
"I see. That's the Demon Lord I guess."
"Exactly. We were half in doubt, thinking that this would be the same as to throw in the towel. What should we do? If we would let two countries, that were just about to start a war, be attacked by a horde of demons, would they really take each others hands without causing any suffering and reach the point that they'd cooperate?"
"Well, that's only natural. Once the wheels of war have begun to spin, it's not easy to turn back."
"So, Vanus changed his appearance and took reign as the Demon Lord, made the demons into his puppets and caused a sense of menace. The people were working together, their number increased and they acquired peace in the face of the looming threat."
"It's going well so far, isn't it?"
"Vanus, who got the credit for the achievement, became an agent of the gods. He became the Demon Exterminating God Vanus, established the hero system, and spread the creed to save the people from the despair that was caused by the threat of the demons."
I spoke while I stroked my jaw.
"So it's a complete self-made performance. He stirs up trouble and gets the credit for the solution. ...However, isn't he still just a simple god by only doing that? He's no threat."
"That's right. We were also optimistic so far. --But, before Vanus climbed the steps to become the Demon Lord, he received a 'certain authority' from mother."
"...I have a bad premonition."
"That was the 'Anti-Believer Setting'."
"Just like we are getting power from our worshipers, he additionally gets power from people who are hating, begrudging or fearing the Demon Lord."
"--Eh! Then, the people, who fear the Demon Lord and are worshiping Vanus are added to his power twice!?"
"Exactly. However, we were relieved that the management of the world went smoothly and thus were off guard. When we became aware, the whole world was already frightened by the Demon Lord and Vanus's power was far greater than ours and even greater than the Sun God's. Due to that twofold addition.
"Then, did he reveal his true nature?"
However, Lilille shook her head. Her white veil is feebly swinging.
"The next thing he did, was to cause an internal strife."
"The Sun God was originally a very strong god, and because of that, he behaved arrogantly. He was only thinking about himself and therefore was an unpleasant god who wasn't thought well of by the other gods. He was like that since the beginning of the world, spouting things like 'I'm great, so give all other continents to me, you can just split one among yourselves, this should be adequate'. I think you get the gist of it."
--*Ugh*. Something hurts within my heart.
"That's what Vanus aimed at. The Sun God became isolated after nothing but bad rumors about him made the round. What we didn't know at that time was, that Vanus was manipulating him by whispering things like 'You're the greatest, you should have way more believers' into his ears."
"At some point, the Sun God said to us, that we should even hand over the continent on which our believers were living. Of course, we refused. It turned from a violent argument into a brawl. The enraged Sun God instigated his believers to attack our continent to snatch it away from us by sheer force while we fought. No matter whether it was the fight between us fellow gods or the land war, the Sun God was far superior."
"He was amazingly strong, huh?"
"Thus, Vanus made a proposal for a way to defeat the Sun God. His way was to use a massive force of demons to diminish the believers of the Sun Faith. We acknowledged. However, he brought in too many demons and completely devastated the Sun God's continents. The Sun God, who had lost all of his believers and power, was sealed. We were shocked, that the Sun Faith was completely annihilated, but since it was a decision made by everyone, we believed the Sun God to be at fault and Vanus wasn't blamed for it."
"That's how he got rid of his strongest opposition, huh. It's so sly that it makes even me angry"
"After that, the gods were slowly eliminated or cut off one by one. The number of gods gradually decreased. Then, his evil clutches even reached Lupersia-neesan."
"Because of Lapisia, right?"
"Yes. When mother was told, that Lupersia went out with a human and had a child with him, he incited mother to kill the child. My sister refused, but we couldn't go against mother. Sister struggled alone, became isolated and turned into a cursed god. Many gods were petrified. Vanus said, that there would be no other way than to borrow the power of her child to suppress the curse, and she was sealed inside the coffin that Lapisia was sleeping in. But the curse wasn't lifted at all, rather it suddenly became stronger. Definitely Vanus didn't want the curse to be lifted from the start."
"I seriously thought that I'd die when she attacked me."
"You can be glad to be alive... as expected of you, Keika-san. No matter how optimistic we have been, we noticed that something was strange. But it was too late."
"The sinner system was already established and the human society was controlled from behind the scenes. Am I right?"
"Exactly. We told mother everything, but she shut herself in from the shock that Vanus has betrayed her. She forsook the world. ...After that, the only path left to us was to fight. We joined forces with the remaining gods and challenged Vanus to a fight."
"And then, you lost"
"Yes. Moreover, he used Lapisia's coffin to petrify the gods one by one through my cursed sister's petrification power. And finally he even got me. The world will die for sure if I am killed. Then, Vanus will have obtained the whole world."
"... I see. So everything went according to Vanus' scheme, huh. Why were you able to break the petrification?"
"Maybe because she went easy on me since we look the same or because the effect was weak since we are twins. Probably because of a combination of both."
"That's certainly a possibility. But there are still questions. Why couldn't Vanus catch you after you undid the petrification? Also, why was the coffin, that lets you petrify gods, installed inside the Tower of Trials?"
"The coffin was most likely not moved on behalf of Vanus, but by one of his subordinates of the Four Heavenly Kings. Actually, keeping it at such a place created a blind spot. I've searched for it for a long time."
"I see. You won't be able to come across it unless you aim to become a hero."
"Also, the reason why Vanus couldn't make any more moves is because I launched a surprise attack on him after I broke the petrification. I inflicted a fatal wound, but he just laughed while he spit out threads and secluded himself inside an impenetrable cocoon. It's called an 'Evolution Cocoon'."
"When was that?"
"About ten years ago."
"Oh. With this, the Demon Lord became unable to act, huh. Then, who is in control right now?"
"Evil Squid and the Necromancer Gerdolf of the Four Heavenly Kings should have been the ones in control, so it's probably just Gerdolf now. It looks like the demons are just maintaining the system, that was built up by the Demon Lord, to their best effort."
"It has caused various cracks, huh. Even though you were unable to kill the Demon Lord, it was sufficient for you to wander about."
"Yes. I searched my sister, looked for a way to defeat the Demon Lord..."
"You had it hard, huh. So, did you find a way to defeat the Demon Lord?"
When I asked Lilille, she somehow looked like she was about to cry. Her face was like that of a child, whose mischiefs were found out.
"Th, The truth is... I found one."
"Please tell me"
"This, can you promise me to listen to me without getting angry?"
"Hm? Why should I get angry? I'll think about it after I listened to you. Is it that serious?"
"Yes. Vanus is a god and the Demon Lord at the same time. Which means that he has to be attacked simultaneously with the god slaying 'Heaven Calling Holy Sword' and the Demon Lord slaying special skill."
"I see. So that's what you mean. The special skill is probably the hero skill 'Ultima Slash', isn't it? --Where is the sword?"
When I asked her, Lilille bit her lips while letting out a "*uu...*". Her well-formed face looked so distressed, as if she was about to cry."
"Please tell me. We can't prepare counter-measures otherwise, right?"
"Ugh... I'm really sorry-- The Heaven Calling Holy Sword is... inside of the Evolution Cocoon..."
My movements stopped. The wind that crosses the desert strokes over my black hair.
"...--Eh? --It can't be... you used it in your surprise attack!?"
"Yes. ...I didn't know that you have to use a special skill simultaneously and only pierced him with the sword. That's why, it is now together with him inside the cocoon..."
My thoughts stopped.
I perplexedly gaze at the peerless beauty sitting beside me.
A heartfelt embarrassment could be seen on her face while she moaned with a "*uu--*".
I reflexively stretched out a hand and pinched her cheek. Her white porcelain-like cheek is warping.
Just one hand wasn't enough, so I also grabbed her other cheek.
I pull her beautiful face, that can't possible be of this world, into a square shape.
"It, it hurts..."
I somehow reject her plea and play around with her soft cheeks.
Then, I exclaimed from the bottom of my heart.
"Yo...yo, you, just what have you done! --Are you stupid? Are you an idiot? *AAAAAA!!*"
"*Hyaa!*" I'm sorry! I didn't know *hyuu~*!"
"You gave the sole weapon that can defeat the last boss to the last boss when you didn't defeat him, it's a complete checkmate!!!!! With this, we can just call it 'Game Over'! This is at the level of 'Press reset and start from scratch!' Even the Creation God has abandoned the world and secluded herself! Isn't it completely irrelevant what we do now!!!!????"
The yell that comes from my heart echoes even far into the desert
"*uuu...u!* I'm shorryyyy! Everyone in the world, I'm shorryyy!"
Lilille's apology and regret are resounding in the night sky in vain.
After I had played with the cheeks of this goddess for a long time, I released my hands and dropped my shoulders.
"In other words, no matter how hard I try, and even if I'd master the 'Ultima Slash', I definitely won't be able to defeat the Demon Lord, huh... *aa~*, I want to return to the heavens~."
Just why have I tried so hard?
I've been completely ignorant since I came to this world, huh?
"I, I didn't think that I made that much of a blunder..."
"Aah, I'm done. You're on the same level as a clumsy girl. ...I take it back when I said that your 760.000 believers are too few. For you, even three would be a lot. You clumsy goddess."
"Th, that's terrible..."
Lilille, who had grasped her cheeks, had tears in her eyes.
I don't care.
I already had the feeling, that she might be a clumsy girl, when she headed to fight Barrier Muuk alone with the only plan of 'I let him drown' and then was about to die.
--*Sigh*. The Evolution Cocoon can't be opened due to its absolute defense. And at the time, when he comes out of it, the sword will be in the possession of the Demon Lord.
There already isn't anything I can do anymore...
I hung my head.
Then, I caught sight of the peacefully sleeping Lapisia.
She has an innocent sleeping face. I'm healed just by looking at her cuteness.
"... But, Lapisia is working hard without giving up. As a Mother Earth God. Although she wants to see her mother, she's desperately enduring."
So, I also shouldn't give up.
"We have no choice but to put up a struggle. ...Isn't there still anything?"
In a certain game, the hero's sword was destroyed and turned into a lump of orichalcum, but it became the original sword again after he reforged it.
It should be possible somehow.
--I see! Maybe we can just make another sword?
"I also despaired when I realized, that I had failed. But I was thinking, that there might still be a chance, no matter how small, and wandered about, creating high level Jobs and protecting the "Light"-attribute. Somehow, we have to do something..."
"That sword, of what material is it? Is it something special?"
"Yes. It seems that certain rare gems are compressed before the material is extracted, then the powder of a Holy Dragon Fang has to be added for the forging to succeed. But all mines of these gems are under the control of the Demon Lord and they also don't appear on the market."
"Is that so... but, I'm surprised enough, that you know the materials. I have Holy Dragon Fangs... hm? Rare gems? --It can't be, the former Edelstein Kingdom?"
"You know of it? As expected of a hero, they are indeed made in that country."
"--I see. I thought, that it was strange to attack and occupy a small country with no value, where just some gems could be found. So that was the reason. I have to get it back for Celica without fail. ...No, wait a sec?"
"Is there something?"
"It can't be, you now won't tell me, that the one who made the sword, was the Hero God Vanus, won't you? In that case it's checkmate. 'Please make the sword for us because we want to kill you', what comedy is that?"
"No, it's also possible for a skilled master blacksmith. But all the tools to forge the Holy Sword have either been destroyed or were thrown into different dimensions. They are the tools that the Creation god used when she created the world."
I laughed because I felt just too defeated.
"*Hahaa*. Rather than searching for the materials that might still be produced somewhere in the world or killing off the newly born master blacksmiths, it's definitely easier to destroy the few tools. As expected of the cunning Demon Lord. No matter how I think about it, it's a certain checkmate, hu--H!"
I looked at Lapisia's luggage, that Lilille was holding.
Or more precisely at the huge hammer, that was shining in rainbow colors.
Create ・ Hammer!!
"Could it be that the 'Create' doesn't simply mean, that the hammer is used to create something, but might the actual meaning be that it belongs to the 'Creator God'???"
I burst out into laughter. I had no choice but to laugh.
--About Lapisia's instinct. And about the subconscious Mother Earth God within her.
The one, who actually works the hardest to save this world is probably neither I nor Lilille, but Lapisia.
Lilille looks puzzled beside me.
"Hm, hmm!? What is it? Eh, it can't be!?"
I give a broad grin.
"Aren't you glad, Lilille? This world is still hanging by a thread. Be grateful to Lapisia."
I roughly explained the circumstances.
Lilille takes the hammer in her hands and examines it while she is perplexed.
"Ah.. it's true! This isn't an imitation made by humans! Letters and numbers are written at the bottom of the handle in mother's handwriting... This is without a doubt one of her spare tools!"
"Aren't you glad?"
While Lilille now really started to spill tears, she stroked the head of Lapisia, who was peacefully sleeping.
"Lapisia, thank you for the sake of the world. I won't care anymore if you call me 'Auntie'."
I stand up while I carry Lapisia.
"Well then, we know what we have to do. Let's go back!"
"Yes, Keika-san... Ah, but..."
Lilille spoke while she stood up and took the luggage.
"What is it?"
"You aren't strong enough as you are now. You need to have at least 100.000 believers."
"Hu, hundred thousand!?"
"Ah, since Lapisia is one of your believers, fifty thousand might suffice as well."
I looked at the palm of my hand. The number of believers has increased by the 500 elves, and the number of humans slowly increased to about 300."
"50.000... that leaves about 49.200, huh. I don't have a lot yet, but better than nothing. How much time do we have?"
"The Demon Lord should come out of his cocoon in... about one year."
"That's, really tight."
"I know... let's give it our best. And I'll also help you to spread your name."
"I see. Well, there doesn't seem to be another way. So, first things first, what we need the most right now is a master blacksmith rather than the gems."
"Eh? We need an enormous amount of gems. Even if we let a mine run non-stop, we won't make it in time."
I lifted the corners of my mouth and smiled.
"It's fine as long as we have even one gem. I mean, then we practically already have a whole bunch of them, right? "
I showed her the sleeping Lapisia.
"Ah, we can use Terraforming! That was a blind spot!"
"Exactly. And because I also already have Holy Dragon Fangs, this leaves just the master blacksmith. Don't you know of anyone excellent?"
"The Smithing God was petrified and sealed somewhere... And the people I knew are already dead."
"Is that so. Shall we ask Celica and the elves once we have returned?"
We went back down to the ground, that had become soil.
Lapisia's twin tails are tickling my arms.
Lilille's white habit was bathing in the night wind and beautifully swinging around.
Yuusha no furi
69: The truth behind the myth and the Demon Lord (Arc 3 Epilogue 2)