Chapter 76: The Invitation from the Emperor
The situation was more complicated than we thought.
Initially, there was a war between the Demon King’s army and the Kingdom of Valkyria.
The Demon King said that the Valkyria side was the first to initiate the attack by kidnapping Behemoth of the SS-rank, one of the top monsters and the Demon King’s compatriot.
However, the attack itself was a plot devised by a third party disguised as soldiers of the Valkyria Kingdom.
The mastermind behind the war between the Demon King’s army and the Kingdom of Valkyria, was undoubtedly the Alburs Empire ruled by Rostam, the “Emperor Hero”, and a power on par with Valkyria on this extent continent.
「Yeah, that Rostam guy is capable of doing such an evil thing. Damn, I didn’t ponder this possibility before…」
「It’s also my fault. I should have acted more cautiously in distinguishing the details of the other nations. Because I didn’t know which human was a soldier of which country. I apologize again. “War Hero” Amines.」
「No. We are just the victims in this mess, Demon King. At least, our misunderstanding has been resolved. We should decide how to act now.」
From that point on, we sat down at the round table that seemed to be the conference room of the Demon Castle. We tried to sort out the situation, and we even came to understand the origin of the incident and who was the mastermind behind this chaos.
「What should we do? We have to get into the Alburs Empire to rescue Lily, right?」
I screamed involuntarily about our future actions.
To be honest, it did not matter if this mastermind was a hero of some Empire.
Now I was more worried about Lily who fought for us.
We should act as soon as possible to get her back. I glanced at Amines, who should have been worried about Lily as I was or even more.
「…Honestly, I don’t want to challenge the Alburs Empire in a direct battle.」
I heard an unexpected response from Amines.
「What! Why? You were so eager to fight an army of demons!! 」
「It’s different from fighting demons. There is no problem if we fight against demons, but if it is a direct war with the Alburs Empire, then my country will not win.」
The War Hero gave me an unbelievable answer after I witnessed her enthusiasm in fighting a large army of demons.
「Why do you say that? I’m sure the opponent is one of the Seven Great Heroes like Amines, and that alone doesn’t make a big difference in terms of force… 」
「No, you’re wrong. 」
Amines clearly interrupted my words and uttered unbelievable words.
「As of now, the Alburs Empire has “four people” of the Seven Great Heroes.」
That was an incredible number.
I had seen and experienced the abilities of the Seven Great Heroes up close.
Their ability was said to belong to the S-rank if compared with a monster. But when looking at Lily and Amines’ abilities, who actually confronted an S-rank monster, I thought that their skills belonged to the middle of the S-rank and SS-rank.
Would that be “S+”?
Those who could beat the Seven Great Heroes were those of the same hero class, or SS-rank monsters like my mother.
Yet, they had four special people. How could the Alburs Empire have more than half of the Seven Great Heroes?
「Wait a minute. Are you including Lily…? 」
「No. Lily doesn’t count, so it’s “four people with great strength”. If you think about it, including Lily, who is currently in the enemy’s hands, there are now five of the Seven Great Heroes in the Alburs Empire.」
I felt terrified by that number again.
And now I understood why Lily, who should have been so invincible on the battlefield, was easily captured by the enemy.
「…Then, can we cooperate with the Demon King’s army? If we do that, won’t it be possible to keep everything equal in terms of strength in a fight with the Alburs Empire?」
I thought it was a good idea, but Amines, and even my mother, were frowning.
「…That’s difficult. You’re the Cultivation Hero and I’m the War Hero.」
「Eh, what are you talking about? 」
「It’s the “Hero System”, Lord Kyou. 」
Instead of Amines, Fitis, who sat next to me, answered to my proposal.
“Hero System”? What was that? No, by the way, I felt like Lily was muttering about points before…
「Simply speaking, it is one of the social systems in this world. 」
This time, my father explained it to me.
「Do you think there are many people in this world with the title of hero? Kyou. 」
「Ah, yes. Many people have hero titles that seem to have been bestowed to them. 」
「That’s one of the systems that the goddess has given to this world. 」
Anyway, when we started this topic, I noticed that my mother’s facial expression suddenly became moody.
By the way, when I talked about the goddess before, she seemed to be very hostile…I wondered if there was something going on between the two of them.
「Actually, in this world, if you collect points called hero points; anyone can become a hero and get a suitable title. Furthermore, those who become heroes will be able to obtain proper positions and earn rewards.」
Ah, I see. In other words, was it like an aristocratic class that one could get on their own?
「By the way. Even after becoming a hero, if you don’t earn a certain amount of hero points, your current hero rank will drop. However, on the contrary, if you earn points, you can move up to a higher hero rank. Of course, the higher the rank, the greater the status, rewards, and support from the state.」
Eh, a ranking system to become a hero. I got the grasp of it.
「I see. So how can I earn those points? 」
「The points are from a lot of things. Making new discoveries for the world or producing beneficial results through research. In other words, it’s an act that is positive for the world. Well, but there is a quickest way to earn points. That is…」
「…Killing monsters. 」
My mother muttered with an icy voice. When I looked at her, I saw that she was smiling, but her smile froze my spine.
Ah, maybe I could understand why my mother was in a bad mood when we started this topic.
「You see. That’s the major way to collect hero points from all over the world right now.」
「Of course, that is to hunt and kill monsters. 」
Yes, I confirmed why my mother behaved that way.
My mother was definitely angry about the situation where they were hunted for points.
「I understand the hero system and points, but why shouldn’t we team up with my mother?」
「Don’t you know? The demons are a natural bad existence and threat to this world. In fact, humans are a resource for many of the demons. What would happen to you as a hero if you formed an alliance with the monster that attacked the human land?」
Ah, I see. I managed to understand the situation.
「In other words, if we do that, Amines’ position will become quite bad worldwide.」
「If my position becomes too bad, I may be targeted as someone evil and be put in the same category as monsters. Moreover, my hero rank will be lowered and the creativity and the position as the Queen of my country will be confiscated. So I want to avoid that scenario as much as possible.」
Certainly. I didn’t want Amines to lose her position, which she had a hard time getting.
Then, what should we do?
We could not attack them straight-on. So was discussing the matter the only remaining way?
Hmm, if I thought about it now, I acted impulsively when I heard that Lily was kidnapped.
If I thought about it calmly, it was basic knowledge to have the hostage returned through peaceful negotiations.
The opponent was not only a hero, but a human being. I was sure he would understand if we talked.
「Lord Kyou. As I said earlier, our wishes won’t come true if you decide to talk to that man.」
When I thought about a solution, Fitis stabbed my heart as if she had read my thoughts.
「Eh, why? 」
「That man is the most outrageous among all the heroes. He has an egocentric mindset that is worthy of the name of Emperor. He is a man with a strong temperament who thinks that the world revolves around him. If we try to negotiate, we don’t know what we’re required to do in order to please him.」
「Surely. I heard a rumor that he even made his real brother a puppet, thereby seizing the throne and becoming the present Emperor.」
What? That was a disturbing rumor.
Wasn’t this slow life full of unexpected and surprised things in order to sell a story!?
Ah, wait. I felt that this slow life was no longer a “slow” life.
「Then, it won’t be possible to negotiate…with the other side. 」
「That’s right. For that man, ruling another country is what matters to him. 」
「That’s not true. 」
On that moment, the voice of an unfamiliar boy echoed in the conference room.
Amines, including me, and even my mother, turned to that voice. We were all surprised.
We saw a small person with a white robe covering all over his body.
This person was about 150 tall. I could not tell if it was a man or a woman because of the robe.
I listened carefully to this person’s voice, but this person sounded both like a boy and a girl.
「Ah, hello. Nice to meet you, everyone. I’m Tsurugi, one of the Seven Great Heroes. I came here to deliver an invitation from the Emperor Hero.」
The person who called himself as Tsurugi turned his gaze toward me and Amines and threw a letter that seemed to be an invitation.
「The place, date and time are written in detail at the letter, so please come with a convenient number of people. It says that it’s okay to bring the Demon King as well.」
Perhaps, they had already assumed that we and the Demon King had already talked about forming an alliance. Yet, I was terrified by the statement “it’s okay”.
「Well then, we shall see each other on that day. Eh, ahh, that’s right. You are the rumored “Cultivation Hero”, Kyou-san, am I right?」
The next moment, the hero in a white robe, who called himself as Tsurugi, stood in front of me before I noticed.
What!? How did he move so fast!? Teleportation!?
「…I see. It’s definitely Kyou-san. 」
The person who called himself as Tsurugi had a melancholy atmosphere as he looked straight into my eyes.
My eyes seemed to be sucked into his eyes through the robe, and although I felt nostalgic for some reason, when I blinked my eyes again, the figure of this Tsurugi person disappeared in front of me and returned to its original position.
「Then, excuse my presence. Don’t forget to bring your “seeds”. 」
When I realized how the hero who called himself as Tsurugi invaded the Demon Castle, which existed deep in the area where monsters existed, the figure had completely disappeared.
「…Is that the rumored Tsurugi? 」
When I glanced at Amines, she seemed to be nervous like never before. Even cold sweat fell from her cheeks.
「By the way, what kind of hero is he? 」
「I don’t know. 」
「He’s the most mysterious of all the Seven Great Heroes. The gender, the title and ability are all mysterious. I don’t even know why that person is in the Alburs Empire right now.」
It felt terrified somehow. Moreover, I felt uncomfortable with the line he said when he left.
Why did he talk about the “seeds”?
It was something the goddess asked me to collect, and it shouldn’t have been publicly known.
With that in mind, the moment I picked up the invitation that rolled on the table, I broke the seal, looked inside, and everything made sense to me.
「…I see. Either way, I was destined to meet the Emperor Hero in the end.」
The way the letter was written almost seemed like an invitation for a duel… In any case my next destination was clearly written in the letter.
『I would like to talk about the three species that we have and the three species that you have. I look forward to your visit to my castle soon. – Rostam, the “Emperor Hero”.』
The journey to find the seeds of the six world trees entrusted by the goddess and to plant them.
The time to complete that mission was imminent.