Traveling Inn Rotting, Sinking Under Weight, Receiving the Blessings of the Earth
The sun shining with murderous intensity seemed like some other kind of celestial body to René, who was born in the northern part of Japan. It reminded her a little of the heat stroke mass-production equipment she had looked up to in the concrete jungle of her previous life.
The desert in early spring had yet to show its true strength, but the heat was already intense.
The group was in the middle of the desert.
They were far from any human settlement, far from any caravan routes, and any footprints leading to this place were hidden by wind magic.
The sand dunes formed by the wind were clearly contrasted in light and shadow, and continued on forever.
A number of small, crude tents, which looked like they were just a canopy supported by sticks, were lined up in rows, under which an army of odd-looking people (some of them beautiful) were relaxing. It looked like a refugee camp.
The huge body of a Mithril Golem, wrapped in cloth to prevent it from turning into a frying pan in the direct sunlight, caught attention. Next to it, hippogriff zombies, mummy-like and beginning to dry up, sat in sphinx-like poses.
Around the lined tents, a magic circle shaped like a hula hoop was carved in the sand, with magic stones placed at almost equal intervals.
The temperature inside the tents was kept at around 28 °C by the magic circle, which would make even the Environment Ministry smile.
“Since the ghoul forces are preventing bodily decay through consumption of corpse meat in the desert, our food supply is being rapidly depleted. We’ll need to resupply when we leave the desert.”
“Well, well, accidentally gathered data on how undead march through the desert. But perhaps we should refrain from non-stop forced marches. Let’s walk only at night until we’re out of the desert.”
René and Everis, dressed in desert traveler attire with sun protection cloaks, were in the center of the camp, holding a meeting.
Instead of chairs, they were seated on a sturdy coffin that could probably hold a pharaoh’s mummy.
“I apologize for causing a delay…”
Mialanze’s voice came from inside the solid, light-shielded coffin under them.
The desert was a place with a strong element of sunshine. Even with protective clothing, Mialanze’s limits were becoming apparent under the blistering sun, and they decided to stop and rest.
“Don’t worry, it’s fine. The humans in the group probably needed a break anyway.”
“Yeah, yeah. Trying to keep going non-stop with magic and potions to hide fatigue becomes increasingly tough.”
Most undead could continue moving indefinitely as long as their energy supply was sufficient, not feeling fatigue. However, living humans had their limits. Since escaping from Terra Ruale, the group had been on a non-stop forced march. Now might be the right time for a break.
“That’s right, Princess. How about we discuss our long-term plans a bit?”
“Here and now?”
“Well, we’ve been so busy that we haven’t had the chance to talk calmly for a while. We’ve had plenty to do even while moving, so…”
Everis reached into a storage magic item styled like a Japanese wrapping cloth, reminiscent of a thief. It was something she had been carrying even when she first met René.
From within the four-dimensional wrapping cloth that was supposed to hold a plethora of magical artifacts and gizmos from the atelier, Everis pulled out a pointer. Somehow, René was reminded of the Evil God-san she had encountered before.
“It’s easier said than done… We’ll need to destroy this world if we’re going to tighten the noose around the Great God, as the Princess desires. To do that, we need to control the earth veins all around the world and simultaneously cast ritual magic for world destruction. In other words, achieving world domination is practically a prerequisite.”
With a swing of the pointer, Everis projected a map of the world in the air. The pale blue light screen carried a faint scent of science fiction.
What appeared was a distorted continent of colossal size and several islands clinging to it.
This was the one and only continent that composed this world… “Pangaea”.
No one who had ventured to the ends of the sea ever returned. For both humans and monsters alike, this continent and its islands were the entirety of the world.
The map of this continent was covered with a tightly woven pattern, like the skin of a cantaloupe.
The flow of magical energy around the land. It was called “veins”.
“We have to destroy all of this…?”
“Yes. That’s why, practically speaking, we need to conquer the world. But it’s not that simple… Do you know that this world is balanced between the Great God and the Evil God?”
As Everis checked from the very basics, René nodded.
It was a story she had heard directly from none other than Evil God-san.
“When the human race is pushed to a crisis, the Great God gains the ability to support the humans with great power. Conversely, now that humans are very dominant, the Great God can hardly do anything, while the Evil God can do many things…”
“That’s right. As a result of that, Princess, you were born.”
Everis swung the pointer again, and the display on the screen changed.
Most of the continent was blacked out, with only a tiny portion at the southern end remaining white.
And that “white area” was surrounded by a multitude of black “protrusion” marks.
“About 400 years ago, the demons had almost conquered the Pangaea continent. The places where humans now lived, acting as if they owned the land, were all once inhabited by demons. Isn’t that amazing? The human race was confined to the floating island at the far south of Pangaea, called the “God’s Miniature Garden.” The other remaining human territories were separated from the continent and protected by the sea, forming several islands. You learned about this in the Temple school, right?”
“…I stopped going to school, but my mother taught me.”
Education was the responsibility of the temple. This was almost universal across the entire continent.
After all, the temples were able to receive knowledge and technology as divine revelations from God. The reason the human race, which had once come close to being wiped out, could recover and prosper without falling into the Stone Age was because the temples acted as arks, conveying knowledge.
Anyway, the temples taught not only knowledge granted through divine revelations but also reading, writing, and arithmetic. The role of education naturally converged in the temples as a result.
Eventually, René ended up being taught by her mother while using textbooks. Even those textbooks were of a considerable quality, to the point that, when compared to elementary education on Earth, they were quite impressive.
Now, of course, temple education naturally included history.
When speaking of history, most of it revolved around the battles between the human race and the Demon King’s army. As this was closely intertwined with the teachings of the Temple, they placed great emphasis on history education.
“The human race holed up in the floating island number only a few tens of thousands, including non-combatants. On the other hand, the invading forces for the floating island, comprising demons, monsters, and undead combined, numbered around 100 million. However…”
“They lost, right?” “
“Yeah, we lost! In human society, it was a grand spectacle of a comeback drama, with their plays, written works, and temple teachings culminating in a thrilling reversal! Well, from my perspective, who was actually there, I think it’s more accurate to say that while they lacked the decisive move and were unable to take the offensive, they slowly reversed the situation and it all collapsed.”
Sitting on the coffin, Everis kicked her legs in frustration.
Though cornered in the corner of the world, the humans had managed to overcome the demons with the aid of God.
This radiant victory was the temple’s most prized achievement. One might even say it was a license to act tyrannically.
And just as the Sengoku and Bakumatsu eras were turned into countless novels and dramas in Japan, there was no way such an interesting story wouldn’t be used for commercial purposes. René herself had watched plays several times, her heart stirred by the humans’ dramatic comeback.
However, the historical fact that, despite all their efforts, the humans ultimately couldn’t be defeat by the demon forces became a source of despair once she found herself on the side of destroying the world.
“Not being able to win against a difference in power of hundreds of times…”
“When the situation became that dire, the human race was drenched in Divine Protections. Incredibly powerful individuals emerged en masse, and even those inexperienced in battle could become invincible heroes when equipped with artifacts infused with the breath of God… Well, maybe that phrasing sounds a bit like an excuse. I also think I’m partly responsible for not being able to fully utilize the advantage in numbers.”
The witch sincerely expressed her regrets.
The self-proclaimed world-conquest Consultant, supposedly the only one of her kind in this world. Having been involved with the Demon King’s army in a position akin to a strategist, she was undoubtedly in a position to bear the responsibility for their defeat. So, well, I did feel responsible for the defeat, so I decided to stick with the Demon King’s army. But you know, being a human-born witch, I was already under a lot of scrutiny. Even I couldn’t put up with some situations for so long, so I ran away.”
“Did someone put thumbtacks in your shoes?”
“If it were a Rhinoceros Beetle Lulumonea, maybe that happened once.”
“…What is that?”
René made a teasing question, avoiding delving too deep.
Despite her lighthearted tone, it seemed like her loss of influence as a strategist due to repeated defeats and the harsh treatment she received had taken a toll on her.
Everis, usually breezy and carefree, had genuinely had enough. Despite being contracted to conquer the world, she had left the immensely powerful Demon King’s army, which was still formidable even though its reputation had declined, and come to the side of René, who was still nothing more than a “notable individual”. There must have been something significant that drove her to this.
Perhaps she had been transferred to some sort of “Career Development Department” and made to copy documents all day long.
“Though I left the Demon King’s army behind, my desire for revenge remains intact. If there’s a next time, I won’t lose. No, I won’t let them win. I won’t.”
With her e*otic purple eyes gleaming like a child’s, Everis smiled with a scheming expression.
“Yes, that’s right. For that purpose, we need to become stronger first.”
Under the blazing sun that glared with intensity, René made a vow.
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