“Weren’t you being too unreasonable?” Kristina spoke up once they had left.
Her question wasn’t asked with any nitpicky nuance. It was just like during the actual event, where even though Kristina had been surprised and flustered by the sudden change in situation, she hadn’t gotten angry with Eugene’s radical behavior.
Seeing her react like this, Eugene felt quite impressed. If it had been an ordinary priest with him, they would have been enraged by Eugene’s radical actions, going so far as to rebuke him for cutting off a finger, and would definitely have cast some healing magic on Jackson, who was in pain and dripping blood, without his permission.
However, Kristina hadn’t done that. Although surprised and flustered, she hadn’t tried to stop Eugene’s actions. She hadn’t even try to cast any healing magic on her own volition.
‘If I had an ordinary priest with me…,’ Eugene mused.
But in the first place, Kristina was no ordinary priest. She was the Holy Empire of Yuras’s saint candidate — no, their actual ‘Saint.’ So, with Kristina’s actions on top of her background, and thanks to her appearance as well, Eugene couldn’t help but be strongly reminded once more of Anise.
“You have to be unreasonable when dealing with unreasonable bastards,” Eugene said as he glanced back at her. “Also, aren’t you being the unreasonable one by even asking that? If you converted the jewels I took out in front of him into cash, do you know how much that would be? As long as he got a good deal on just one of them, he would have had enough cash to drink and party with for a whole year. Since he tried to pocket one of them for free by using such a nonsensical excuse, don’t you think that he got off rather cheaply with just losing a finger?”
“Hm…,” Kristina hummed as she considered this for a few moments, then she smiled softly and nodded.
“Indeed. I understand what you are trying to say. You and I might now come from backgrounds where we have no shortage of money, but for ordinary people, the jewels that you offered must be of great value,” Kristina agreed as she lowered the hood of her robe. “On top of that, both of us grew up in a very poor environment in our younger days. As such, we both appreciate the value of wealth even more.”
Eugene nodded. “I’m glad that you understand—”
“However.” Kristina interrupted him. “Even taking all that into account, I still feel like cutting off that information broker’s finger was overkill. It would have been enough just to scold him, there was no need to go that far.”
“Would a bastard who makes a living by selling information in a place like this really back down from simple threats? Taking a single finger was instead the cleanest way to handle things,” Eugene insisted.
“What if he wants revenge for this?” Kristina asked.
“Do you think he’d be that stupid?”
“Sometimes anger can consume all reason.”
“Rather than abandoning all his fear and attempting something like that, that guy will probably just lie there, fantasizing about getting his revenge,” Eugene muttered as he turned away from her, looking forward once more. “Nevertheless, if he does try to take revenge on me, I’ll just have to make him regret taking such a foolish choice of action. As someone with enough ability to be confident in my chances, I would actually prefer if he did instead choose to try and get revenge.”
“Indeed,” Kristina muttered with a giggle. It seemed like she hadn’t just asked her initial question because she wanted Eugene to explain his reasoning.
“Sir Eugene, you are quite the unusual individual,” Kristina commented.
“Why do you say that?” Eugene asked.
“After all, isn’t Kiehl’s Lionheart clan one of the most prestigious families on the entire continent? However, your earlier behavior was so cruel that it was hard to believe that you were the heir of such a prestigious family. You were acting just like a hard-as-nails mercenary,” Kristina praised.
“Do you really see the children of prestigious families as the type to just laugh pretentiously and sip tea even as they’re getting ripped off?” Eugene asked rhetorically. “Let’s just be frank with each other. You can just say that you feel like I’m too unreasonable to be a young master from a prestigious family.”
Kristina smiled, “That’s what I said at the very beginning.”
Weren’t you being too unreasonable?
Eugene burst into laughter as he recalled the words that he had indeed heard earlier.
“Still, at least I didn’t kill him,” Eugene defended himself.
“Instead, you cut his hand off at the wrist,” Kristina reminded him.
“He needed to pay the price for his mistakes,” Eugene curtly declared.
Jackson had refused to talk about the elves.
‘I can’t say anything,’ Jackson had said as he begged for mercy.
* * *
Three hundred years ago, when the five Demon Kings had been trying to take over the world, the two races that had suffered the most damage were the elves and the dragons.
There hadn’t been many dragons in the first place, but then half of them were killed while fighting against the Demon Kings.
The elves were even worse off than the dragons. They had started gradually dying even before any of the elves could have fought back against the Demon Kings. This was all because of a plague — the ominous power of the Demon Kings proved fatal to the pure and untainted elves. The shocking pandemic that ensued, called the ‘Demonic Disease’, brought many of these elves, despite their long lifespans, to an untimely death.
Elves who felt sickened by the world, elves who had barely escaped being taken as slaves, and elves who had caught the Demonic Disease. Their reasons varied, but various groups of elves had all found their way back to the Samar Rainforest.
The elves who had been born in the forest and had then left for the outside world, all wished to return to their hometown. The elves who weren’t born in the forest arrived searching for the elven sanctuary that they heard was located deep within the forest.
The elves who had caught the Demonic Disease had an even more desperate reason for returning than the other elves. Once they were infected, they would only be able to persist for five years at the very most before dying, but those who returned to the Samar forest would be able to live for a much longer period of time.
Eugene didn’t know if it had always been like this, but lately, not a single one of the elves that had attempted to return were able to find the elven sanctuary.
Elves lived for a very long time, they were beautiful, and no matter how old they got, their natural beauty wouldn’t age. As such, there weren’t just a few wealthy merchants and nobles who were looking to enslave the elves.
For people like this, their eyes couldn’t help but light up with enthusiasm at the elves’ predicament, treating these wandering elves as their prey. If it was just a few years ago, this city may have been filled with numerous slavers and slave traders who had come here from abroad.
There were none. There might be a few who were continuing their work under the table, but the number of slavers and slave traders who were working out in the open had seriously dwindled.
This was because of the dark elves.
Starting from a few years ago, the dark elves had appeared in this city and formed a force that counter-hunted these slavers and slave traders. These vicious dark elves had sealed the mouths of the informants guild, and they were the only ones allowed to contact any elf that appeared in this city.
Because they wanted to turn these wandering elves into dark elves. They would persuade these elves who had come to Samar that no matter how much they wandered around, they wouldn’t be able to find the elven sanctuary. The elves already living there had hidden their borders, and were actively rejecting any of their people who came in from the outside.
But if the wandering elves became dark elves instead, they would no longer need to worry about slavers and slave traders. They would also no longer need to worry about a sudden onset of the Demonic Disease. In fact, it was even alright if they had already caught the Demonic Disease. Dark elves wouldn’t die from it.
“Are you familiar with the Princess of Fury?” Kristina asked.
Nights in the forest were both long and dark.
Kristina had no objections to living rough; she might be a Saint, but she was far from dead-weight. She gathered firewood on her own, started a campfire, and helped set up camp.
“I’ve heard of her,” Eugene confirmed.
It was Iris, the dark elf that he hadn’t been able to kill three hundred years ago. Fury’s adopted daughter.
‘I should have killed her back then,’ Eugene regretted.
Oberon had sworn himself to the Demon King of Destruction, and then died when his own son ripped out his throat.
Iris hadn’t subordinated herself to any of the other Demon Kings or demonfolk. While claiming that she was the Demon King of Fury’s legitimate heir, she had established her own platform in Helmuth, campaigning to become one of the new Demon Kings.
She made a valid case.
The vampires and the lycanthropes had submitted themselves to the Queen of the Night Demons, Noir Giabella.
Oberon’s son and the other beastfolk had continued to swear allegiance to the Demon King of Destruction.
The only ones who hadn’t subordinated themself to one of the other Demon Kings or demonfolk were the giants and the dark elves. However, the giants made no claim as to being the heirs of Fury, and instead lived among themselves in the backwoods of Helmuth.
In the end, only Iris now claimed to be the heir of Fury, while aiming for the throne of the Demon King.
“…Setting aside the power that she holds, the Princess of Fury… Iris, isn’t very well-considered in Helmuth.” Kristina continued speaking as she stared into the campfire. “Even in the Alcarte Diocese, where I lived, there was a lot of mockery being spread about Iris. As someone who wasn’t a pure-blooded demonfolk and instead something like a dark elf, they ridiculed her for not knowing her place and coveting the throne of the Demon King.”
“Well, the concept of a pure-blooded demonfolk is also ridiculous,” Eugene said with a snort as he chewed on his meat. “In the first place, in terms of pure-bloodedness, apart from the Daemons, what other race of demonfolk can actually claim to be pure-blooded? The Night Demons and the other demonfolk are all subspecies of the Daemons.”
“However, they were at least born as demonfolk,” Kristina pointed out.
Things hadn’t been that different three hundred years ago, either. Those like the vampires and lycanthropes — namely, those who had been ‘converted’ from humans and were considered part of the demonfolk — would be despised by the ‘pure-blooded’ demonfolk as being ‘Half-Demons’ or ‘hybrids’.
In contrast to the Half-Demons, the treatment of the Black Wizards by the demonfolk was much better. This was because there was a clear sense of hierarchy between them.
“As the foster-daughter of the Demon King of Fury, Iris is able to corrupt elves into dark elves even though she is not a Demon King,” Eugene continued the discussion.
That was why he felt such regret. If he had only been able to kill Iris three hundred years ago, the dark elves would no longer have increased in number.
“I’m aware of many high-ranking demonfolk in Helmuth who offered Iris their support, but she has refused any such support and insists on building up her own platform solely through her own strength,” Kristina added.
“How funny,” Eugene muttered as he even chewed off the bits of meat still stuck to the bone. “Even as she’s being despised by those ‘pure-bloods’, in the end, she too insists on being pure-blooded. With the elves already being so few in number, the number of dark elves is even smaller. Does she really intend to build up her own force from such a shadow of a race, compete with the other demonfolk, and successfully become a Demon King? She sure does dream big.”
There was no way that Iris could become a Demon King.
Eugene was well aware of the power that the demonfolk had held three hundred years ago. Iris was definitely strong, but there was no way that her strength could greatly surpass that of the other highest-ranking demonfolk such as the Queen of the Night Demons.
There was also no comparison between their forces. If a new Demon King was truly born from amongst the demonfolk, the closest to that position were the three Dukes of Helmuth.
Queen of the Night Demons, Noir Giabella.
Incarceration’s Blade, Gavid Lindman.
Black Dragon, Raizakia.
The three of them were so deeply entangled together that they were practically sick of each other.
‘But that’s exactly why, out of all of the demonfolk who were on the same level as them three hundred years ago, they’re the only three remaining,’ Eugene mused.
Jackson had spilled everything he knew about the dark elves as he kept weeping. He told Eugene that if he leaked any information about the elves, the dark elves were sure to kill him, so he begged Eugene not to question him about the elves.
In other words, Jackson had had no intention of giving them any info about the elves from the very beginning, but he had still been trying to pocket the information and brokerage fees.
‘It seems like Iris isn’t following the orders of the Demon King of Incarceration and the Demon King of Destruction,’ Eugene observed.
So when clashing with the dark elves, he wouldn’t have to worry about any interference from the Demon Kings. The only one that he really needed to keep an eye out for was Iris.
‘…At least there should be no reason for me to run into Iris here,’ thought Eugene.
He had been told that the dark elves took all the elves that they had managed to persuade back with them to Helmuth. The only one who could corrupt elves was Iris. In other words, this meant that she shouldn’t be in the Samar Rainforest and was instead still somewhere in Helmuth.
Their conversation had died, leaving only the sounds of the campfire burning and the insects chirping. Without saying a word, Kristina was sipping on a hot cup of tea. Eugene was cleaning up the last of the meat skewers.
“What are you planning to do?” Kristina eventually spoke up after a long silence.
“Do I need to get your permission?” Eugene asked as he chewed the last of the meat.
“What are you asking permission for?”
Kristina hesitated. “Although that’s not something I can really grant permission for… I will pray in your stead, Sir Eugene.”
“You’re going to pray for my sin of murder to be forgiven?” Eugene asked sarcastically.
“Not at all. Instead it will be a prayer of remembrance and purification,” Kristina said with a soft smile as she brought her hands together to her chest. “How could it even be considered a sin to punish the servants of the devil? However, they are all still life who were born and raised on their earth, as lambs who should have been led into the light. Our prayers are for the sake of illuminating their souls that have been corrupted by darkness, and guiding them back onto the path of righteousness.
‘It seems like all Saints are crazy people,’ Eugene thought, recalling Anise, as he swallowed his last bite of meat.
—Earth to earth!
In addition to her divine magic, Anise was also good at wielding her flail.
—Ashes to ashes!
Her brightly shining flail had smashed more than a few demonfolk heads into pieces.
—Dust to dust!
Although there weren’t many occasions where Anise had to put her flail to work, when caught in a scrum, she would lift her flail up with a helpless expression and go into battle.
—Brilliant light! Illuminate the darkness!
She would break heads with her flail, create a mist with her true holy water, and unfurl her gleaming wings. As she did all this while screaming out prayers, Anise looked more like a madman than she did a Saint.
“…By any chance, do you wield a flail as well?” Eugene asked cautiously.
“Huh?” Kristina asked.
“A flail, are you not familiar with them?”
“…I know what they are, but I prefer to wield a mace.”
“…A mace…?” Eugene repeated.
“Yes. Although they’re heavy, so I haven’t been carrying one with me…,” Kristina reluctantly admitted.
Eugene hesitantly offered, “…If you need one… just tell me. I have a few inside of my cloak.”
“Thank you very much”.
Just as Kristina had given her thanks with a gentle smile, something flew out of the darkness and fell to the ground, rolling straight towards them. Eugene and Kristina didn’t show any alarm, and just stared at the rolling object.
It was the head of the information broker, Jackson. The head’s tongue was sticking out, and its eyes had rolled so far back so only the whites could be seen.
“About that mace, will you lend me one now?” Kristina requested.
“No,” Eugene denied her, and just wiped his hands on his trousers as he got up. “Since you’ve said that I don’t need your permission, just stay here and pray.”
They had immediately noticed when someone had started stealthily approaching them. During their shared silence, the intruder had narrowed the distance, so even before Eugene had asked Kristina for permission, Eugene had already decided what he was going to do to them.
A question came flying out of the darkness, “Are you a slaver?”
“If we tell you that we aren’t, are you just going to leave?” Eugene responded with a casual tone.
“…I’ve heard that you’re going around asking about the elves,” the voice said as it drew a little closer. A dark elf came walking out of the darkness to face Eugene.
Eugene questioned the dark elf, “He was just an old man trying to make a living in this cutthroat world of ours. You didn’t need to kill him, right?”
The dark elf ignored his question, “The informant told me all about you. He said that you came to him suddenly and wanted to buy information about the elves.”
“But he refused to sell us any information about the elves,” Eugene noted.
“You don’t seem to be surprised. Have you already heard about us?” the dark elf asked.
Without answering the question, Eugene pulled out a folded handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his mouth. Seeing this needlessly fastidious act, the dark elf put on a puzzled expression.
“…Could it be that you don’t understand what kind of situation you’re in?” the dark elf demanded.
Eugene shook off the handkerchief a few times and asked, “Did you come here on your own?”
“I asked you if you came here on your own,” Eugene repeated as he tossed the handkerchief into the air. “You impudent bastard.”
Before the handkerchief hit the ground, it was blown away by a storm.
1. It’s been a while since they were last mentioned, so here’s a refresher. The Daemons are a horned demonfolk race. Considered to be the original demonfolk race, all of the past Demon Kings came from this race. ☜
2. Although the original text has Anise using the Western word for ‘mace’, a line later in the chapter has Kristina saying she prefers a mace(the Korean word) over a ‘mace’. After checking the wiki, a picture of Anise Slywood(https://w.namu.la/s/780c9a113b521937eb80191c2922d9db12a264db410336cfd38c76fbbae64d1dd73712fbc086709029c62e5946639c9edd4c951b959138f2fafba35477807a44a37c52c8173061d8d73485191d8f41f0f7d0ef1cd76f9c292af66ef70fec2994d68d7705882726ff6c853152a207735f) has her carrying what looks like a morning star. So the author appears to have made a mistake and used ‘mace’ when he actually meant to use ‘morning star’ or ‘flail’. ☜