Chapter 109: Is Hell Hot or is it Cold?
After the appearance of the Demon Lord, a lot of announcements and notifications had to be made, and Warden’s Post was a beehive of activity – but that has nothing to do with us, so we’re already on the road – er, the path through the forest.
Hibiki-chan is sitting on Orvowel’s wagon, which has about 40% of its previous luggage gone.
Due to the state of emergency at Warden’s Post, it seems like the Wardens wanted to stock up while they could.
Although I thought that was pretty good fortune for Orvowel, the man in question is actually staring back at the half-empty wagon with furrowed brows.
Seems he’s upset that too many supplies from Nyl City were sold, and that he didn’t get to buy a lot at Warden’s Post to resell later.
I don’t understand merchants.
“Is it alright, coming with us to Ploids? This isn’t an escort quest for you guys, so you’re basically doing free work.”
The person Ragnall is speaking to is Desmond.
The elf twins Aislin and Aidan are also coming along with us.
As well as Tet, the green bird-monster.
“Hm… certainly, we were originally planning on taking an escort request on the way back, but with circumstances as they are, the other merchants are caravaning, so the speed will be much slower.”
“Just to save some time, huh…”
Ragnall sighed, like he couldn’t understand it.
Well, yeah, it’s Ragnall, so he probably doesn’t understand saving time versus making money.
Even though he doesn’t need it quite that much anymore… Oh, right.
I activated [Friend Chat] and sent a message to Seimei.
Since I’m with other people, it’s a text message. I had forgotten I could do that until the other night, when I contacted Seimei.
As for the contents?
[Can you ask Lor for some of Ragnall’s medicine and send it over? I’ll pay you back.]
“Oh? Jun-kun, what’s up? Let’s see… medicine?”
[Un. We were a bit delayed, so although he should have enough to get to Ploids, but who knows if there will be more delays.]
“Uuun, okay. I have some things to do in a bit, but I’ll ask him later.”
That’s right, I’m mail-ordering medicine-!
Our other-worlder – no, our gamer cheats are really super convenient.
We weren’t aware of the demon man until he made it into our room.
If it’s like this, then it’s likely that the Guards who were escorting us didn’t notice it either.
Hyde-kun’s Stealth is such a cheat.
Rather than waste effort to hide our MP auras, I’ve sent Hyde-kun to ‘pick up’ that older male demon and bring him here undetected.
Even though what we want to know really is completely innocent trivia, I can imagine how the ‘governor’ of this town would feel about nobles making social calls to demons.
It’s times like these when I can feel the weight of being an other worlder.
Like, let us just learn some common sense without getting all suspicious, mou~.
I apply Sound Barrier, and extended my hand to the seat opposite me at the table.
Although we’re at a more luxurious room in the inn, it’s the only inn in a small farming town, so the room is rather small and plain.
Or we’ve gotten far too used to luxurious rooms in our time at Carnus… I give a little inward shudder.
That said, there is still a sitting area at the foot of the beds, and that is where we are now.
The older demon looks a lot more composed today.
Although he still looks very suspicious of us.
“Well, well, welcome. Sorry for making you jump through some hoops. Even if we’re trading completely innocent information…”
I sigh heavily to punctuate my statement.
The demon man nods wordlessly.
After all, he knows better than we do about how much demons are disliked.
“So let’s start over. On my side, I’m Seimei, this is Masaki and Hyde, two members of my household. We are … hm? What’s my rank again?”
Although I’m kind of joking, Hyde-kun replies with a,
And Masaki properly plays the straight man, as expected, with a,
“No, that’s Honarary Baron, right? Please remember properly, Sei-chan…”
I wave my hand and say,
“Well, not like the exact rank matters too much all the way out here.”
The demon man makes a small frown, before saying,
“I am Usadhen. If I had to say, I’m something like the leader of the demons in Merivolt. You seem quite a bit different from last night’s matter.”
“Hm… well, the situation didn’t really allow for light-heartedness at that moment. If I acted like this, even if you didn’t want to kill me, you definitely wouldn’t want to trust me, correct?”
The demon, Usadhen, thought for a moment, then dismissed it.
Whether he agreed or not, he decided to move on to the main topic at hand.
“And, so? What was it that you wanted to know?”
Hyde-kun and Masa-yan are sitting to the side, trying to stay out of the way.
Even though I said they could ask questions if they wanted to too. Jeez, it’s not a negotiation this time, so there’s no need to be so stiff, ne?
“Let’s see… there’s a lot, but I guess the first thing I have to ask is about the girl’s condition.”
“The girl – ah, Hiwot. She’s sleeping peacefully and will probably wake this afternoon.”
“That’s good. Then, can you tell me why she was in such a state?”
Usadhen made a bit of a face, then said,
“Well, it’s true that most surface-dwellers are unaware of this. It’s a … how do you say it… [birth defect] … it’s a condition a demon can be born with where they are unable to convert magic power to be consumable. That is, they are only able to feed off of mana.”
Oh, I see. Us, uh, ‘surface-dwellers’ don’t make much distinction between MP and mana.
From what I understand, mana is the magic that animates our bodies, and MP is the usable magic that comes from excess mana.
For demons, however, it seems that they are qualifyingly different.
“Hiwot’s problem is even worse, since she can’t even convert the mana of animals or plants to be eaten. We figured she’d be able to survive for 10 dozen moons, even though she’d be in a constantly hungry condition, and it seems like now was her limit.”
Seems like demons are extremely sensitive to minute differences in magic.
I feel like, when it comes to researching the depths of magic, a demon researcher might be worth raising… ah, no, this isn’t about business right now.
“Then, after last night, how long can she live? Comfortably, I mean.”
“Now… un, it’s hard to tell after she’s gone through puberty. 8-10 dozen moons. If she gets pregnant … it would be better for her and her offspring if she doesn’t. Comfortably, however… a dozen moons. We demons don’t need to feed that often. Unlike food, abstaining for a while isn’t painful. In the first place, mana that we eat is utilized differently in our bodies than the mana that surface-dwellers produce.”
“So Ms. Hiwot was 10-dozen moons-old, but she looked like a 15-dozen moon-old human child.”
“Yes, we demons have shorter lifespans than humans, and even most beastkin. Puberty occurs at 8 or 9 dozen moons old, and we stay youthful until we are around 20, after which we quickly age and die within 5-8 dozen moons. … I say, is this kind of information truly what you wanted to know.”
But my goodness, saying puberty this and pregnancy that – I’m kind of glad we’re not in mixed company.
This Usadhen is very clinical in his descriptions.
Personally, I’m delighted since this means I got the best person to answer our questions, but after hearing the word ‘pregnant’, Masaki is squirming uncomfortably.
He’s still a brat, haha.
“So it seems that demons are pretty sensitive to changes in magic power – and mana – but what about the quantity of magic in the air? We knew someone who was extremely sensitive, to where my magic power nearly killed him, although he was a half-demon.”
“Ah… a misshapen one, is it? Demons who breed with surface-dwellers do it at great risk to their offspring. Most of the misshapen ones die early, due to great mana-consumption deformity.”
So it’s not just Ragnall. Most half-demons will be born with some, usually life-threatening, deformity. In a way, I can’t blame the demons for calling them misshapen ones.
Instead of finding half-demons revolting, though, the demons seem to view them with some pity, as well as finding their very existence foolish.
I can’t say if that’s … BETTER, but at least it’s not a torch-and-pitchfork mob type of situation.
“As for demons, certainly, the magic-enriched Deep Forest in the center of the surface world can be somewhat painful, but we would be hard pressed to find such an explosion of magic power … present company aside, of course.”
Oops. Looks like my MP was a bit of a trauma.
“Well, I wouldn’t want to try releasing my magic power completely, but even so, with how much I released last night…?”
“Maybe two or three times that could be withstood, but not comfortably, at all.”
Un. Okay. Never fully releasing my MP, ever. No wonder Ragnall nearly died.
“The half-demons aside, that girl’s condition, is it common among demons?”
“That… it’s certainly uncommon, but it’s not really rare, if by that you mean rarely heard of.”
At that, Usadhen gave a wry, sarcastic smile.
“Even though in Arcene, this condition would make her a superior being, it’s very inconvenient on the surface.”
Usadhen sighed, and his stiff demeanor seemed to sag; he suddenly looked very, very weary.
“… I’m not sure how to best ask this, but why come here, then?”
I finally asked the question we were all most curious about.
Usadhen looked up dully.
“Why… is it?”
“You’re oppressed heavily, your children are born into difficult situations, and you have little paths to any sort of success. So, why leave Arcene?”
Usadhen gave a short, dry laugh.
“Why, is it? Why… heh. Obviously, because Arcene is much worse-! Successes… what kind of successes are there that are better than living without fearing for your lives every minute?”
I’m a little shocked at the bitterness and underlying rage in the man who, until now, was calmly and precisely answering all our questions.
While I’m speechless for the moment, Hyde-kun asks,
“Then, what’s the demon world… what’s Arcene like?”
Usadhen sighed even more heavily than before.
“A cruel, cruel country. I said Hiwot would be regarded as a superior being, being unable to consume the mana of anything but peoples’ mana. Because she can only survive by devouring other people. Although there are some peoples raised for mana consumption, often, we prey off of each other. The lower castes are often hunted through the streets, and even people among the higher castes fight each other and prey off the losers.”
I’m not sure what my revulsion is towards, the human, er, peoples livestock or the fact that demons literally cannibalize each other.
“The crueller you are, the better you are regarded. It’s true that being able to give pardon and ignore others’ evil doings against you is a sign that you’re significantly more powerful, but unless you’re truly significantly stronger, letting your enemies live just means you’re waiting to get a knife in the back. Short of the Demon Lord, I doubt anyone could afford to ignore their enemies.”
“Along with such personal fighting, of course there are also factional fights amongst all the different Governors of demons and demi-demons, as well as gang fights and fights between… well, there are fights between factions in every level of organizations you can think of. There is not a single night where blood isn’t shed within your neighborhood, and often very near your doorstep. I don’t think I’ve gone ten moons without losing several relatives. We passive demons live worse than livestock, after all. What kind of future could we hope for our children?”
I suppose living in oppression versus living in fear of your lives… to be honest, the oppression here seemed pretty bad, but at least the demons only risk losing their lives if they attack or anger humans and beastkin.
That is, there is a discernable cause-and-effect relation to being killed.
It sounds like it didn’t matter what they did in Arcene. They were always expecting to die any moment.
The demon world … although I had thought I’d try not to think about it with impressions based on what we knew in Japan, it truly seems like a ‘Demons’ World’ from fiction and games.
<A/n: note that, although Seimei isn’t 100% aware of it yet, demon world and demon country are used interchangeably, because the small ‘world’ (dimension) is the country.
Fluvia 20 up>