Chapter 236: The Demon Lord of the Shield
The shouts of justice from the brainwashed slaves fill the air, and I can no longer hear anything else.
I am getting the urge to burn them all with my Wrath, but I can’t really be inflicting damage on these people.
I’ll have to pay them compensation when all of this is resolved, and if they ask for medical fees… Should I just play dumb?
“Throw them off! With enough force to kill!” (Naofumi)
“They’re people Firo knows, so no!” (Firo)
Ku… she’s fine with leaving them on the brink of death, but she won’t kill.
It may be because she spends much more time in this town than me.
Her memory isn’t to be underestimated, so she can probably recognize the villagers.
But this swarm is making it hard to proceed.
“Naofumi sometimes makes some dark jokes, doesn’t he?” (Ren)
“Everyone usually understands when he does.” (Rishia)
“Right, we all know of Naofumi-sama’s kindness.” (Atlas)
“No idea what you’re talking about. I just want to end this and go home.” (Taniko)
The one who wanted to return was Taniko. She seemed to be fed up.
I don’t know what sort of misunderstanding everyone was making, but I was pretty serious there.
But correcting them would be a pain.
Fighting is also getting to be a pain, so I gather my comrades into a single area and deploy a magically strengthened Meteor Shield.
It seems that if I charge it with magic, I can increase its range.
I expand it to a radius of 5 meters.
With the barrier deployed, we drive all the enemies out of it.
Ren and Co. protect the barrier while we walk forward. But this is also a pain.
The slaves keep on breaching my defenses.
When that happens, the infiltrator gets knocked out and tied up.
It’s a common setting in Zombie franchises, but having to deal with it in a fantasy setting is annoying.
If the culprit was a vampire or something, then I might look forward to fighting them, but this setting isn’t fun at all.
And we reach and open a large door in the depths of the church.
The room looks quite important. It has multiple platforms of raising elevation.
In the center is a ceremonial altar, or perhaps I should call it a ritual altar.
I think that I remember being told that that point had geographic significance or something.
It seems we’ve fallen into a trap once more. The remaining remnants of the church and Itsuki’s former companion, Armor, are sitting on a high place, looking down on us.
“So you finally arrived, Devil of the Shield. I was getting tired of waiting.” (Armor)
“… Does the fact that you’re here mean that Witch is here too?” (Naofumi)
“Are you referring to our comrade, Princess Malty? Unfortunately, she is not present.” (Armor)
“Damn! By the way, am I right in assuming that you’re the primary culprit in inciting this ruckus?” (Naofumi)
“Ruckus? You call our crusade in the name of Justice a simple Ruckus!?” (Armor)
“Crusade? You sure love to joke, you terrorist.” (Naofumi)
I laugh as I provoke him.
Armor’s face dyes red as he visibly gets increasingly angry.
It’s because this guy has a needless amount of pride.
It’ll be easier to make him self-destruct with words.
“What was that!?” (Armor)
“Could it be that you’re a believer of the Three Hero Church sect? That heretical one?” (Naofumi)
“No, the Three Hero Church sympathizes with our Justice. They are merely our kindred souls.” (Armor)
“Is that so.” (Naofumi)
As always, he’s carrying a self-centered sense of Justice.
This Armor always had a stuck up attitude. Perhaps that came from his status as a noble.
Even so, he answered quite naturally.
I guess using his compatriots to provoke him won’t work.
“And, like, did I even do anything to make you mad at me?” (Naofumi)
Though the Three Hero Church has its own reasons, I don’t remember offending Armor or the rest of the Itsuki Party to that extent.
I’m sure that they do dislike me, but only to the extent where cooperation would be impossible.
I didn’t even interact with them much.
We were only in the same party for an hour or two on Cal Mira.
“Don’t play dumb. You use your power of brainwashing to obstruct our Justice!” (Armor)
… The hell?
Um… You’ve lost me, mate.
Let’s put aside the fact that they’re the ones brainwashing for now.
What exactly is his justice supposed to be doing?
“Let me ask for argument’s sake. What is your Justice?” (Naofumi)
He probably won’t say anything good.
“Our Justice is one where evil does not exist. It is to make a peaceful world based on our glorious ideals. And as such, we must Judge all evil with our power!” (Armor)
The thing that shocks me the most is that people with such a dictatorial mindset actually exist in this world.
Isn’t there something they find strange about calling themselves Justice in the first place?
I guess the result of Itsuki’s loss is starting to take root in them.
“And? What exactly did I do to get in your way?” (Naofumi)
“You… No, the Fake Heroes caused our party’s prestige to drop, and caused us to be pursued by the country. You all destroyed our status! Atone for your sins!” (Armor)
… So because of Itsuki’s loss, their prestige from being of a Hero’s party fell, and they were unable to reform the world and convince others to follow them as they pleased. And all fault lied with the Four Heroes?
What’s more, the fact that my peddling within Melromark helped raise the morale of the populace and was looked on as an act of good simply pissed them off further.
Oh, I think I’ve received requests from villages to send peddling carts over.
Because I made sure to regulate the pricing, I didn’t really pay attention to the orders themselves.
Because of my work, they were unable to gain ground, so they came to resent me.
Please just get over it. These people with broken thought processes are gathering against me.
I’m getting the urge to punch them into silence. And that will take a while with my attack.
“Devil of the Shield… No, Demon Lord of the Shield! We, the new Heroes, will defeat you!” (Armor)
With a flash, he takes a familiar sword out of his scabbard and takes the shield off of his back. He gets into a battle position.
So I’ve finally surpassed the stage of Devil, and evolved into the Demon Lord.
For a Hero’s enemy, a Demon Lord is standard fare, but no matter how I look at it, this situation is a bit off.
And why does he get to be the New Hero?
Just proclaiming it yourself doesn’t make it so.
If I lose here, will all the fault of this incident fall to me?
Now that I think about it, there’s no need for them to use my slaves in their rebellion.
They could simply have them rampage and then kill them in the name of Justice to earn fame.
Something similar will probably happen here as well.
They’ll kill all the Demi-Humans and sweet talk the Humans into silence and eventually abandon them.
Just how self-righteous of an organization are you making here?
“Evil, is it… Naofumi, what should we do?” (Ren)
“Justice and Evil are idiotic concepts. The reason we were summoned was to prevent as many casualties as possible from the wave. We can’t really choose the means.” (Naofumi)
“That sounds like something you would say. No, now I think you’re actually in the right. Next is… Ah, the person who was with Witch was that person.” (Ren)
Ren holds out his sword and glares at Armor.
Ah, so I was right.
Why couldn’t he remember until now anyways?
Well, the Ren back them thought Solo Play was cool, so he didn’t put anyone besides his own comrades to memory.
Not that I should be talking, but I bet he never looked at their faces more than once.
“Someone who would do things like this, even if they were deluded, even if they were seen as Heroes, will never be Justice.” (Ren)
“Yes, I think so as well!” (Rishia)
Rishia seems motivated.
For her to give such a definite response with her former comrade, Armor, as the enemy… Rishia sure has changed.
She would have trembled before him if it was the Rishia I first picked up.
“What course of action should we take, Naofumi-sama?” (Atlas)
“Should we just take them out?” (Taniko)
Atlas, Gaelion, and Taniko are also quite motivated.
“Mu… Is the one standing there Rishia? As I thought, you were a filthy traitor!” (Armor)
“What do you mean traitor? You were the ones who drove her out.” (Naofumi)
“…I … can’t accept anyone who would lead things such as this!” (Rishia)
Rishia boldly declares at Armor.
Did she just nonchalantly ignore me?
Don’t just treat me as a background character. I’ll smack you.
“There’s no way this is Justice!” (Rishia)
Ah, and the thing that caught my attention, armor’s sword and shield…
I remember the sword quite clearly.
It’s the one I saw at the Zeltburg auction, the Spirit Turtle Sword.
It was an item so expensive, I would never dream of holding it. Why does Armor have it?
He probably used the influence of the nobles backing him.
Or perhaps it was stolen.
Steal… Now that I think about it, there are plenty of Heroes who break into houses and look through the drawers and chests.
This is magnificent. He’s definitely a Hero.
But that doesn’t really matter. It’s not like that sword is mine.
But that Shield that looks like the counterpart of the sword.
Could that be…
“Oy! Is that Shield stolen goods?” (Naofumi)
“Surely you jest. I merely purified a wicked item manufactured by the Demon King.” (Armor)
Oy, that’s the Shield the Old Man and Imya’s uncle worked hard to make. The Shield made just for me.
I won’t forgive this! It’s time for judgment!
What do you mean purify, you thieves!?
“That Shield is mine!” (Naofumi)
If it’s used carelessly and gets scratched, its value will drop.
“That Armor is my prey. You guys go deal with the rest. There’s no need to keep them alive, so fight with all your strength, but don’t kill the brainwashed ones.” (Naofumi)