50. Invitation (Continued)

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50. Invitation (Continued)

A large-scale Mass is being held in the chapel today.
A large-scale Mass with Gazaine in attendance―― Remembering Grandpa Ganash’s warning, I had the four children, as well as Nebil and a few other emissaries (they’re called Orochi’s faction or something), ingest diluted doses of the medicine I received from him.
According to [Appraisal], this medicine uses magical substances that neutralises the effects of hallucinogens.

Small sake cups full of “consecrated” wine were distributed throughout the chapel.
When I use [Appraisal] on the wine,

《〔Good Quality〕 Wine. The hallucinogen Mescaline has been mixed in.》

is what appeared.

Mescaline?

《Mescaline: A hallucinogen made by using knowledge from another world as the base. It does not cause physical dependence, but there may be a medium degree of emotional dependence. Processed with Shalha Vaux’s legendary class skill [Condition Setting] to ensure that there is no deterioration.》

Shalha Vaux is the name the owner of the historic remains, Mr Helmut Heydrich, used in this life (although he’s already dead).
I also wanted to investigate [Condition Setting], but I already used [Appraisal] twice in succession for Wine > Mescaline, so I couldn’t delve further.

Believing in Grandpa Ganash’s skills, I drunk the hallucinogen-spiked wine.
…Yup, there was no change in both my mind and body.

After it was confirmed that everyone had drained their cups of wine, the cups were collected and the Mass finally started.
Gazaine spoke of a large-scale operation that would soon take place, and then the Archbishop’s sermon took place.

A gigantic human face appeared in the smoke-filled chapel.
The face spanned three metres from the tip of the head to the bottom of the chin, and it could be seen through to the altar on the other side.
It was pale, like an apparition, but it looked unexpectedly young; it had the appearance of a young man.
So this is Archbishop Glutometsa.

《――Dear children of <Yatagarasu>… It is finally the end of Monguenues-sama’s suffering, the one who bears the title of the Evil God.…》

Glutometsa’s voice itself was clear, but it sometimes sounded inflated as though he was putting on airs.

Oops, let’s not forget [Appraisal]――
Hey, this is…!

While I was stunned by surprise, Glutometsa’s speech continues.

《――The underhanded techniques you’ve tempered until now…. If Evil God-sama is to be referred to as evil, then we shall willingly be referred to as evil as well…. Bearing this resolve, use your assassination techniques to…. In preparation for that moment in the near future, polish yourselves even more sternly…. I may be repeating myself but the moment is approaching… Dear children, absolutely don’t be negligent…》

The emissaries who had been dosed with the hallucinogen gradually grew more excited as Glutometsa continued to leisurely sing out praises, whereas I remained completely cool-headed.
Let me share Archbishop Glutometsa’s [Appraisal] results.

《Illusion. An apparition produced by Gazaine Munzer’s legendary-class skill [Illusion Magic] 9.》

◇◆◇◆◇◆◇◆

In short, there was no such thing as the Archbishop.
Securing the Archbishop when the religious organisation is overthrown was an important factor so I had trouble making the final decision, but since Archbishop Glutometsa = Gazaine, things will be settled quickly.

The four children didn’t experience an uplift in mood because they had taken the antidote. They were bewildered, but as I had instructed them beforehand, they didn’t make a big deal out of it.
Nebil and the others were the same.

Nebil was an especially good actor; he took the initiative to start a chant in response to the Archbishop, even though he was supposed to be sober.
…I wonder if he’s really sober.
Although Nebil’s foundations are excellent, he does make blunders once in a while.
Well, the incident with the Ususake Mushrooms was my fault though….

After the Mass ended and everyone left, only Elemia remained.

Elemia was kneeling at the altar, facing the statue of the Evil God with both hands clasped together in prayer.

“Evil God-sama… Evil God-sama…”

She addressed the god.

I’m worried, but now is not the time to speak.
I cast a backward glance at the praying Elemia, then used [Espionage Techniques] to sneak into the back of the chapel.

As expected, Gazaine was there.
Of course, there’s no way Archbishop Glutometsa would be there.

Sensing a presence suddenly appearing behind him, Gazaine turned around with a sharp gaze.

I greeted Gazaine with one hand and say with a cynical smile on my face,

“Hey, where did the Archbishop disappear to, Leader?”

“…So it’s you. Don’t startle me.”

Even though I appeared, Gazaine doesn’t seem shaken.
Instead, he makes a brazen smile and shrugs at me.

Gazaine knows that I don’t believe in the Evil God.
Just why does he let me free nonetheless?
Part of it might be because he finds it amusing, but that shouldn’t be all.
I’d like to draw out the answer to that soon.

There’s a risk, but me being obedient would probably seem more ominous to him.
You can’t obtain a tiger cub without entering the tiger’s den.
The other day I even slipped into a dragon’s lair, to say nothing of a tiger’s den.
I won’t get cold feet this late in the game.

That said, I need a smokescreen at least.

I showed Gazaine the wine cup that I had pilfered before coming here, and spilled its contents on the spot.

“Tch… A brat with sticky fingers.
Did you not drink it.”

My action caused Gazaine to have a great misunderstanding.

“It’s magnificent.”

“…What is?”

“This religious organisation.
I thought it was a thoughtless doctrine to have people sneaking around and killing people; however, I don’t know why but you have quite a splendid religion here.”

“As usual, those aren’t a brat’s thoughts.
But it’s the opposite.”

“Opposite?”

“Yeah.
‘Sneaking around and killing people’.
In order to have them do such things, a half-baked doctrine was no good.”

“I see.
You’re saying that a doctrine full of deceit and sophistry is necessary for that exact reason.”

“A religion is generally like that anyway.
Having them believe in an imaginary god and a heaven that doesn’t exist, and for them to forget about the cruel reality before their eyes is what a religion does.”

The representative of this religious organisation is an incredible atheist.

…I’ll say this just in case, but this is purely Gazaine’s personal opinion.
My grandma was a Buddhist, and yet she was kind to me and was adored by my cousins as well.
I personally have no religion, but I have no intention of denying people of such.

But before that, gods really do exist here in Marquekt.
They even have distinct blessings known as Skill and Levels.

“I think God exists.
Even the Evil God exists.”

“Those guys won’t save us.
They’re simply governors of the world.”

“…Even the Evil God?”

“Who knows.
According to one theory, the Evil God used to be one of the gods as well.
However, he abused his power as a god and was chased from heaven.”

“That’s a first.”

“Abusing one’s power and being chased from heaven, isn’t it kinda chic?
I will no doubt fall to hell when I die.
Since there’s no way someone like me will be saved by God.”

“Wouldn’t you be saved if you believed in the Evil God?”

“Heh. How transparent. You already know though.
The Evil God is the only god who would even give a scoundrel like me power.
Unexpectedly, the villains worship the Evil God not because of sophistication or capriciousness, but out of seriousness, you know?”

“……You too?”

“No way. I do sympathise with the Evil God though.
I believe in myself.
Even if the path leads me to hell… I will rely on my own power, and cut through that path.”

I suppose he’d even make a deal with the Evil God.

“Is it alright, that <Yatagarasu>’s leader of all people is declaring such things?”

“You don’t believe in him anyway, right?”

“……”

“I’m not really rebuking you.”

Gazaine hesitated for a brief moment.
It’s a rare occasion.
When it comes to speaking, I thought this man would chatter away.

And then, the words that came out of his mouth after he paused was truly something unexpected.

“――Won’tcha come with me?”

I was flabbergasted.
Gazaine advocated further.

“I don’t have the heart to settle with just being the boss of such an uncool religious assassination organisation.
Someday, I intend to usurp a country and become a king.
I have the power to do that much.”

Gazaine seems to gaze off into the distance.
However, there were no fragments of dream-like ambiguity in his eyes, instead there was strength, like he was focused on something that was there.

He had the serious expression of a man who was always looking for trouble somewhere.
I suddenly became embarrassed somehow, and tried to dodge the issue with sarcastic words.

“The Assassination King?”

“Don’t make fun of it. I’m serious.”

“So you have that much of a backing?”
Be honest, this organisation’s doctrine wasn’t something that your pragmatic brain came up with, was it?”

“……Another thought that shouldn’t come from a brat, as usual.
But that’s fine.”

“Oi, oi… How disgusting.”

“I know that it’s not in your character.
You are different.
Your power exposes those around you to danger.
At this rate, you, born with overwhelming power, will be unable to live normally, you know?”

“That’s a line I wouldn’t expect from a man who coerced me into coming here by holding my family hostage.”

“Hmph.
Stop with that unsympathetic manner.
You probably understand already though.
The ones who covet your power is not just <Yatagarasu> alone.
If you’re just aiming for the “dark side” of a society like ours, then it’s true that you might be able to strike back if you get stronger.
It’s just like you think, under that thick skin of yours.
However, the nastiest ones are actually those on the “surface”, you know?
They would pose threats under the guise of a sound argument and make use of you, saying things like ‘those with power have an obligation’.
If you reject them, they will immediately judge you as a risk factor and will either kill you or drive you out.”

“……”

I was unable to form a reply to Gazaine’s words.
I can’t say I’ve never thought about there being such danger.
Digging up the history knowledge from my previous life, I easily understood that Gazaine’s remark was not necessarily an exaggeration.

“――I can make a place for you to belong.
In public, this religious assassination organisation is indeed regarded as evil.
No, not in public; looking at it objectively, it is evil itself.
Full of deception, <Yatagarasu> is an automated instrument for assassination.
――But you know.
If I win, this is how it will turn out.
I will crush Santamana and establish my own kingdom.
The state religion will be the Evil God’s doctrine.
<Yatagarasu>’s emissaries will be reborn as clergymen instead of assassins.
By that time, you will probably have grown up too?
It would be fine to even entrust <Yatagarasu> to you entirely, after it has become a holy religious organisation.
If you say that the authority in this world is good, then I can even confer the rank of Marquis to you.”

“…You’re also good at making empty promises.”

“I have calculated that this is possible if you follow me.”

“Why?
I am certainly abnormal, but I’m no match for you in combat.
No, to begin with, there’s no way you can build a country with just one individual’s fighting strength.”

Gazaine couldn’t reply to my words immediately.
Gazaine’s gaze that was looking at midair, noticeably became stern.
It was as though someone’s figure had appeared in his line of sight.

“――I know another brat like you.
In order to oppose that brat, I want your power.”

“――A brat like me, you say?”

“Oh? So you’re interested.
In that case, let’s make this information into negotiation material.
If you follow me, I’ll give you information about them.”

Damn.
Did I bite off too much?

“You know, there’s a society in this world that is more profound than the underground, one that people are hard pressed to even call ‘the darkness’.
I had a peek into that society, albeit only a small peek.
As a result of that, I became able to zero in on those guys.
That’s why I know.
To associate with those guys who surpass reason, we also need to bring out beings that surpass reason or else.
I don’t know if you are someone like that, but you are the one with the highest prospects amongst those I’ve gathered.
For a time, I wondered whether Elemia was such, but although she is unique, she’s not special.
The one who I thought was special was, in the end, you alone.”

“…That’s a considerably unreliable story I hear.”

“In reality, it is an unreliable story.
I believe in my sense of smell.
That is all.”

“Don’t you resent me?”

“Resent? Why?”

“I killed a considerable number of <Yatagarasu>’s emissaries before coming here.”

“A foolish question.
You never did anything to incur the wrath of mankind.
It’s not like I have any remaining right to resent people.
If I had to say, I would resent the me of the past who underestimated you and only invested a small amount of combat strength.
Well, I do my best at all times.
Even if I reflect on it, I won’t regret it.
Constantly moving forward, moving forward.”

“Sounds like a tiring way of living.”

The me with no fatigue is like that but I unintentionally said it.

“Isn’t it better than stepping back and losing interest?”

“I suppose there is a mountain of corpses behind you as you continue to move forward.
Not only enemies, are supposed allies and emissaries also tools used by you to advance forward?”

“What, those guys die believing that they can go to heaven.
Nevertheless, they’re probably happier than me, who is set to go hell.
There’s no god who will save me.
That’s why I must obtain paradise with my own strength.”

Gazaine stood up after saying that.
Then, he walked off without turning back towards me.

“H-hey…”

“Hmph. Think about it.
Isn’t it tedious, accompanying them to play make-believe assassin indefinitely, even for you?”

I could only watch in dumbfoundment as Gazaine departed.


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