「Kuhahaha! I see now, so that’s the fate of the demon-general-kun!」(Susanoo)
Susanoo-sama is laughing loudly at this sight.
For now it seems that he is pleased with the feast.
The dragon being held by Susanoo-sama by the scruff of its neck stares at him with wide open eyes, as if startled by his loud voice.
That’s right, this is what’s left of the demon general Reft-san.
With his mind regressing to that of an infant, he has become an incredibly cute baby dragon.
He’s only cute in appearance though; he’ll just be difficult to bring up when I talk to the Demon Lord.
Really, I wonder what I should do.
When I heard that he was the demon general I reflexively ordered Tomoe to return him immediately, but after thinking about it carefully, I realized that it would be quite inconvenient to return him in his current state.
Why was one of only four demon generals in a remote country like Kaleneon, anyway?
Was the timing of me steeling my resolve so poor?
Is that how it is?
「His power has been consumed splendidly and now he feels like some kind of pet, doesn’t he?」(Susanoo)
「I am sure it is no laughing matter for Makoto-dono; you do know that you should not be laughing at this situation, don’t you?」(Daikokuten)
Daikokuten-sama puts in a word for me.
He’s nice, but he’s kind of scary as well, isn’t he?
Just earlier I asked him about the Yata-Garasu and he said something outrageous.
I heard that it’s an incarnation of the sun and crushes the eyes of the unworthy who look upon it, so I asked him about it.
“If you were made to hold the sun, it would be hot, no? I suppose it grasps and crushes* them unconsciously.”
That’s what I was told.
It’s on a completely different scale.
What does he mean by “grasps and crushes*”.
I was probably making a confused face as Daikokuten-sama elaborated with an analogy.
“It is like grasping and crushing* a lit cigar,” he said.
I grew increasingly uncertain of how I should respond to this.
Is that all it is?
「How are you intending to cut through?」(Athena)
Athena-sama asks with interest.
She struck me as a very serious goddess, but she looks to be the type who becomes lively with a bit of alcohol in her.
It seems that they have taken a liking to the Japanese alcohol.
Susanoo-sama praised it as well; it seems we managed to reproduce it quite successfully.
They acknowledged it as being delicious.
These three seem to love Japanese alcohol.
Tomoe seemed to be strangely happy about that.
「... I am thinking of recovering as much as possible, waiting for an opportunity and then letting loose on the demons’ territory.」(Makoto)
「Such a patient plan! Oi, Athena! Since you don’t have any present for Makoto, you should work here!」(Susanoo)
Susanoo-sama is making some kind of unreasonable request.
I’m not really expecting anything from Athena-sama, nor anything from Susanoo-sama or Daikokuten-sama, you know?
And they said they’d help me keep this place hidden from that bug goddess, which is more than enough.
Wait, did he say present?
I don’t remember receiving anything from Susanoo-sama or Daikokuten-sama though?
They’re not planning to leave me that Yata-Garasu, are they?
If they gave me something that huge, I’d be troubled.
「Yeah! If you restore his body appropriately and, you know, erase about a month’s worth of memories, there’s no problem, right?」(Susanoo)
You make it sound so simple.
I was prepared for a drawn-out battle anyway, since Shiki won’t be able to recover quickly.
Would it be possible for a god to heal him quickly?
「... Even though I’ve been drinking, that would be a simple matter. Mmm, if I were to give him a present, it might be best if I have him become completely obedient to me and grant him my divine protection.」(Athena)
「That sounds great, do it, just do it!」(Susanoo)
Don’t fan the flames!
... I mean, please do not fan the flames.
Also, it’s embarrassing to be called “Makoto-kun”, so please just drop the honorific or something, Athena-sama.
「To us, this is a foreign land, you are aware? If we cause too much trouble here, we would not be so different from that girl.」(Daikokuten)
「... You’re right.」(Athena)
「As Susanoo said, if you restore his body and erase his memories, there will be no problem. Some of the fear carved into his mind might still be left, but there is no need to be thorough enough to erase all of it. Susanoo, you are not even drunk, you should not be encouraging jou-chan*.」(Daikokuten)
「... Tch. It was going to turn out to be interesting, too.」(Susanoo)
「Err, Susanoo-sama. About this present, I don’t really...」(Makoto)
「I see! You’ve been hoping for it, Makoto! Don’t worry, we’ll definitely surprise you!」(Susanoo)
Susanoo-sama isn’t drunk, is he?!
Is he trying to make this kind of unfunny joke with that appearance?!
I definitely do not appreciate almost dying without even knowing by having a god’s power put into my body, you know?!
Neither Susanoo-sama or Daikokuten-sama have mentioned any details about the nature of this present.
Perhaps it was because the guests of honor, the gods, were slamming the drinks, but the night’s feast went down quite well.
I was happy that they enjoyed the festivities and the food.
The most memorable moment of the night was Athena-sama’s magic trick using the demon general Reft-kun.
“Be cured!” Athena-sama exclaimed in a high-spirited voice.
Reft-kun grew into a huge, majestic dragon, reminding me of the Naga from Hindu mythology.
That had quite the amazing impact.
The room burst into applause.
Would you call this a... magic trick?
Reft-kun’s mind was still in its regressed state, so his antics were popular among the inebriated people.
Athena-sama was delighted.
Susanoo-sama tried to confront her.
Daikokuten-sama stopped him.
For some reason, a karaoke competition started.
Pies flew across the room.
... It was really amazing, wasn’t it.
I didn’t intend to drink much, but my head was spinning by the end of the night.
I ended up being shamefully escorted back to my room by the gods.
This unusual feast apparently continued on until morning, thanks to the volunteers who worked all night.
I question myself.
I’m in a situation where my body has no strength whatsoever, and I question myself.
The earth is cool, huh. Wait, that’s not it.
Is this all I can do?
Was this the right choice?
I suppose it’s not even worth thinking about.
I’m lying on the ground like this.
I can’t even move a finger.
This is how it is.
In that case, was it a mistake to take on the businesswoman-like Athena-sama as an opponent?
Should I have chosen Susanoo-sama or Daikokuten-sama instead?
That’s not even funny.
I’m undoubtedly regretting that I could only do “this much”.
I couldn’t have chosen anyone but her.
The Yumi Azusa that the Eldwas made for me and the arrows that I haven’t given a name are rolling around in front of my eyes.
They’re not damaged.
As to be expected of top-level craftsmen; their work is on another level.
I’m pathetic, aren’t I.
I’m beaten and can’t move.
「Makoto, get some training from Athena.」(Susanoo)
Susanoo-sama made this suggestion to me after breakfast; of course I answered, “please spare me.”
The first reason for this is that my opponent would be a goddess, in other words, a female god.
“Well, would you prefer me or old man Daikoku? If we make any mistake in how much strength we use you’ll be getting a hands-on course on how to be annihilated, though.”
Since he said that with a serious look, I ended up facing Athena-sama.
And the results are as you can see here.
Tomoe, Mio and Shiki were watching right from the beginning and at some point Mio looked like she wanted to step in, but the other two stopped her.
Now that I think about it, this is the first time since coming to this world that I’ve been so exhausted that I can’t move a single finger.
I chased this feeling and was even “desperate” for it, but I’d decided not to think about it.
I’m aware that I just didn’t know what it would be like to be pushed to my very limit, so this is a huge benefit to me.
My saving grace is that I narrowly managed to say “thank you very much” before I collapsed.
The goddess Athena, the deity of war, Athena.
Her power lives up to her name.
She’s terrifyingly powerful.
I doubt that’s her original form, and that’s probably not her proper equipment either. I doubt I even managed to get her to fight me seriously.
If she was fighting me seriously, she might have worn a himation? Like the statues of her do.
I couldn’t put up a fight at all against office-woman Athena-sama.
I was, in truth, careless because of her appearance. The fact that I had started to feel a baseless sense of superiority over the bug goddess is also true.
However, my carelessness over the fact that she was a “woman” vanished with her first attack.
The spear didn’t pierce through my body, but it broke through my magic power armor* and I had to twist my body awkwardly to avoid it.
Even though I had it fully formed with maximum density right from the start, since I was facing a goddess.
That was the beginning of the battle.
With her halberd in one hand, she summoned javelins one after another to continue the battle at mid to long-range.
My response was to freely use the magic I’ve learned in this world, as well as my bow and my magic power armor.
Towards the end of the battle, I became desperate for even the smallest amount of magic power and took off my clothes and rings in exchange for a power that relied on Surehit*.
Athena-sama probably didn’t even need to go along with my plan, but she did.
And yet, the result for me is utter defeat.
Not a narrow defeat, but utter defeat.
After all, despite the fact that she was breathing heavily, Athena-sama quickly fixed her suit that had been ripped here and there and is now talking normally to Susanoo-sama and the others.
A big difference from me, who can’t move.
Most of my attacks were deflected by her large, round shield.
That shield floated in the air, sometimes changing shape and multiplying.
I screamed countless times that it was ridiculous and unfair.
I’ve started to realize a little just how the enemies who face me feel.
Even so, I landed some good attacks, but she used her arms to block and brush them off. In short, they were ineffective.
「... Well, using up all your strength at the end was a failure but you did well overall, Makoto. Honestly, you held on far longer than I expected. Until some point partway through the match, I was thinking this whole thing might have been unnecessary for you.」(Susanoo)
Moving just my eyes in the direction of his voice, I see that my three followers have all rushed over to me as well.
I’m glad the only ones watching were them and the other gods.
This is a little too pathetic to be showing to everyone in Asora.
Haha, at least that gives me some leeway.
「How surprising. To think that you were this tenacious. You have not fought many hard battles so far, so you were careless at the beginning. I was disappointed for a moment, thinking you should simply be cut down and finished there and then, but now I am relieved.」(Daikokuten)
Susanoo-sama and Daikokuten-sama are both demons, aren’t they.
I feel a strictness from them that’s comparable to my archery sensei.
「Indeed, but you fought bravely, Makoto-kun. Now then, let’s fix you up.」(Athena)
Maybe I’m still drunk from last night, but Athena-sama who adds -kun to my name is the kindest of them all.
「No, Athena-sama. That is not necessary. I have not felt like this in a long time, so I would like to stay like this.」(Makoto)
When I was on Earth I constantly felt this after practice, this deep fatigue that leaves me unable to do anything.
It’s a feeling that I haven’t felt even once since coming here.
It’s a feeling that was necessary for me in order to believe that I would be able to go further tomorrow than I did today.
So I would like to be immersed in this feeling a while longer.
「Makoto, this is a god. There were things you wouldn’t have known without facing one in person, right?」(Susanoo)
「In the unlikely event you ever have to fight that goddess, this experience will be necessary for you.」(Susanoo)
I can’t ask what they had done to the bug.
At the very least, they haven’t exterminated her.
「As punishment, we’ve put several restrictions on her, including limiting the extent to which she can interfere with the world and suspending the growth of her control. Even those are simply measures we took when Aniki entered the first stage of recovery.」(Susanoo)
「So Tsukuyomi-sama might soon make a complete recovery? That is good to hear.」(Makoto)
If that would come true.
I’d like to meet him again in my lifetime.
「Thanks. Aniki would be happy too. Anyway, we set things up to monitor her to make sure she doesn’t break those restrictions.」(Susanoo)
「If you want discipline, you put on a collar. Understandably, she wasn’t too happy about it, so I decided on a choker instead. When I tried to put this spiked collar on her, I spoke to these two. I told them that men will always be lenient towards women.」(Athena)
Athena-sama, you’re scaring me.
「We merely decided to leave behind that design in this case. Well, I understand what you are trying to say. You may have noticed this from the fact that we do not call that goddess by her name, but we are in a position where we must always give that a certain amount of consideration. If we ignore this fact, we will be no different from that.」(Daikokuten)
Like I thought, they are deliberately not saying her name.
I had kind of guessed that was the case, though.
In other words, that bug might be a goddess that I know.
I can think of a few candidates, but who is it?
「She still holds the power of a god. There is nothing you can do about that now, but there is the prior promise. If you were to become openly hostile towards hyumans, that goddess would take direct action against you, Makoto-dono.」(Daikokuten)
「If we’d arrived earlier, we could have taken care of things before that promise was made. But we won’t let things end like that, either. We have to at least give Makoto some experience in fighting against gods. If I had to choose between you, who has received divine power from Aniki and that underhanded goddess, you’re the cuter one.」(Susanoo)
「Thank you... very much.」(Makoto)
「Yeah. Remember, don’t use up all of your strength. Your calm method of fighting in the middle of the match was good. Make sure you’re always able to use that. Don’t be afraid of increasing your magical power, draw your bow. If you do that, you’ll be fine. And if the time ever comes, don’t ever break the choker. It won’t be damaged easily, but if that monitoring device is gone, that idiot might try to erase you by any means possible.」(Susanoo)
「Yes, that was not a fight you should feel ashamed of.」(Athena)
So my fighting was worthy of being praised by gods, huh.
Haha, I’m a little relieved.
I don’t want a future where I can’t raise a hand against that goddess.
Apparently I have the advantage in a battle as long as her choker doesn’t come off.
That’s information that I’m happy to know.
She probably can’t take it off herself.
If she could, it would be meaningless as a monitoring tool.
But with this experience.
I think I can exhaust myself again.
I still have enough of an image left in my mind.
「Well then. We’ll be heading back now. Get your followers to heal you up properly.」(Susanoo)
「Makoto-dono, you must draw your bow every day. Please hurry and discover the gift from Susanoo and myself.」(Daikokuten)
「It is unlikely that we will meet again in your lifetime. One day, when your life has come to an end, we will welcome you with open arms.」(Athena)
Well that was sudden.
Their arrival was also sudden, so I’m not too surprised.
「Well then. Please tell this to Tsukuyomi-sama. That I’m somehow staying alive thanks to the power that I received from him.」(Makoto)
「... Yeah, I’ll definitely tell Aniki that. It was really fun. Oh yeah, Aneki* likes Yata-Garasu too, so I can’t give it to you. She is a rare sun goddess and a very important deity, so it would be a pain to make her angry.」(Susanoo)
She completely slipped my mind, but even if I remembered I don’t know enough about her to make any assumptions about her anyway.
My fight with Athena-sama was reasonable, but maybe he’s trying to say that I fought really well.
Well, I mean.
She’d be happier if he brought Yata-Garasu-san back, so nothing more can be said.
Waving their hands at me, the three gods disappear.
As soon as they’re gone, my followers rush to my side, calling my name.
「Don’t worry about treating me. Sorry for being selfish. Just let me lie here for today. Give the people in Rotsgard a good excuse.」(Makoto)
I try to resist my fatigue pulling me into a deep sleep.
The gods aren’t here anymore, either.
My consciousness is slipping away rapidly.
Everything about this is nostalgic.
If I have to fight the goddess one day.
When that day comes, I will definitely rise up and bring her down.
I don’t want it to be a close fight.
Just you... watch... I’ll definitely... overwhelm you...
「Well then. Athena-chan, where does it hurt~?」(Susanoo)
「That’s sexual harassment, I’ll tell Kushinada-sama.」(Athena)
「The first thing you do is threaten to tell my wife!」(Susanoo)
「Save the comedy for later. Well, Athena-jou-chan. You actually cannot feel the left arm that you used for defense, can you?」(Daikokuten)
「... I can’t feel my right arm, either.」(Athena)
「Makoto-kun started pressuring you considerably at some point, didn’t he? We couldn’t stop grinning and wondered if you were going to summon your proper equipment, you know?」(Susanoo)
「... Would a human, no, a hyuman modified by that girl be capable of such things?」(Athena)
Athena folds her arm in an imposing stance.
Daikokuten taps his mallet lightly against her leg.
Athena collapses onto her back.
As to be expected of Shiva – no; as expected, Athena was faking her condition.
「Getting the idea from Makoto’s magic power armor and using your own magic power to directly move your own body is quite a feat. You’re controlling yourself like a marionette, aren’t you?」(Daikokuten)
「You used that to take the flow of battle out of Makoto’s control, huh? After that, he lost focus and made the bad move of using physically demanding attacks in rapid succession, effectively defeating himself. As expected of you, Athena, you’re showing the wisdom of your many years!」(Susanoo)
「I’m still young! I don’t want to have my age commented on by the likes of you two!」(Athena)
The gods are riding Yata-Garasu, on their way back to the world where Japan exists, where Makoto once lived.
Their topic of conversation is the battle between Makoto and Athena.
「Well, if he’s that strong, that Makoto. I’m sure he’ll have no problem if he fights the goddess.」(Susanoo)
「In all probability, he will have no problems. He is quite impressive.」(Daikokuten)
「Truthfully, I will admit in spite of my pride that I was overwhelmed. That boy already exceeds the human frame.」(Athena)
「Be that as it may, he is a hyuman. There are already two pure humans in that world. It was probably because it was helpful for shaping a future where the goddess has reached her limits, but the combination of humans and Makoto is extraordinary.」(Susanoo)
「It’s like a hammer and chisel, isn’t it. If the humans stimulate his potential even a little, Makoto will drive it in and open it. Disposing of the countless parallel worlds expanded by the two humans was truly troublesome. Makoto’s acceleration of the process played no small part in it, either.」(Daikokuten)
「The cleanup after that disposal work. You told Makoto that you’re giving him a gift but you’re planning to have Makoto to do it, aren’t you, old man? Payback for being made to do such troublesome work?」(Susanoo)
「Hohoho. It is good to be willing to go through hardships while you are young. Jou-chan told him that we would not meet again, but I wonder. I can see us meeting again.」(Daikokuten)
「... You want to bet on it?」(Susanoo)
「Of course. Jou-chan will not meet him, but I will. What about you, Susanoo?」(Daikokuten)
「I’ll meet him, I guess. He’s a walking box of surprises, I get the feeling he can make the impossible become possible.」(Susanoo)
「Wait, I haven’t said a word about making a bet!」(Athena)
「Hey hey, does the great Athena-sama not have confidence in what she tells others? Saying such vague things, are you the same as that goddess?」(Susanoo)
「Don’t worry, it’s not an important bet. It’s just for fun, for fun! Don’t worry about it!」(Susanoo)
Susanoo pats Athena on the back.
Athena is groaning with a look of disagreement on her face.
「I would like to ask two other things, would that be alright, jou-chan?」(Daikokuten)
「What is it?」(Athena)
「The first is about Makoto’s power. What kind of changes have been caused inside Makoto by Tsukuyomi-dono’s power?」(Daikokuten)
「Don’t hide it, alright? I’m well aware that you had an interest in it yourself and tried to get a feel of them from Makoto, you know? That’s why I had you face him in the first place.」(Susanoo)
「... He is now very cunning, but you should have guessed that by now.」(Athena)
「As I thought, you’re talking about that Asora place?」(Susanoo)
「Yes. The trigger was likely a contract with someone who can manipulate space, but it seems he has used a large amount of divine power to expand that tiny space into a whole world. The part of that power that was supposed to grow his abilities has been used up for that. It could be said that in a way, he is connected to that world.」(Athena)
「So. You’re saying that Aniki’s power manifested only as that strange interfering ability? That was quite an incomplete ability. It was called Sakai or something, right? Only its subtlety resembles Aniki’s style.」(Susanoo)
「No matter how long he’s existed, I have never heard of the moon god’s power contributing towards creation. This may be an example of new possibilities caused by interaction between people and gods.」(Daikokuten)
「I guess it was so Japan-like due to the effects of his homesickness. It would really have been a pain if the goddess found it, but...」(Susanoo)
Susanoo recalls his surprise at how much Makoto’s world resembled Japan.
「That is likely a large influence. We made sure that girl can’t interfere with it, so there should be nothing to worry about now.」(Athena)
Daikokuten gives a large nod.
Perhaps he is in agreement.
「Well then, the other thing. Surehit, was it troublesome after all?」(Daikokuten)
「... Yes. That was quite a nuisance. Especially because he immerses himself in the battle and forgets his emotions, fighting without any mercy. He fired at me relentlessly and by the time I couldn’t hold my arms up anymore, it honestly felt like I was facing a machine. I’m trembling now just remembering it.」(Athena)
「Dear me. It is good that the ability that he is developing is his talent with a bow. That is best for Makoto. He is already putting that Surehit to use not only with the bow, but also with his magic.」(Daikokuten)
Daikokuten suddenly narrows his eyes and looks at Susanoo.
His expression is reproachful.
「Hey hey, I just suggested a way to prepare Makoto so that if he were to ever fight a god, he could somehow manage, you know?」(Susanoo)
「... It is frustrating that we can do nothing but pray that this will be enough. I hope that the next thing we hear about that world is not a request for its destruction.」(Daikokuten)
「I feel the same.」(Susanoo)
「Me too. Worlds that were ruined by the involvement of gods are sad existences.」(Athena)
The three gods discussed Makoto.
The future in which he would be shouting at the gift that they left him is not so far off.