Kumo desu ga, Nani ka? The Demon King and the Pope

A teenage girl (?) invites a man up to a room and they have a drink or two. All perfectly innocent…

The Demon King and the Pope

Author’s note: The pope’s point of view.

「Did it surprise you that I’d become the Demon King?」

On entering my private room, Ariel-sama took a wine bottle out from the rack as if familiar with the place, and then began to drink straight from the bottle. I had never invited Ariel-sama to this room even once, but since it’s her it wouldn’t be strange if she’s used to the layout of places like this I guess. Seeing her consume someone else’s drink without hesitation, I guess this is the pride of the absolute being who stands at the summit of this world. That wine is something precious that I’ll never be able to get more of, but I guess there’s no help for it.

「I certainly was. I am sure that Shiro-sama also kept quiet about it to surprise me. How naughty of her.」

Truly, I hadn’t even imagined that Ariel-sama would actually become the likes of the Demon King. Regarding the Nightmare of the Labyrinth incident, I first heard about it only when this person began to take action. That indicates just how significant the meaning is of this person becoming the Demon King.

「Oh. Rather than thinking that way, Shiro-chan probably didn’t mention it because it was a bother, or because she simply forgot, one of those two I guess? I don’t understand Shiro-chan’s thinking either, but there probably wasn’t any deep meaning regarding this.」

If Ariel-sama would say that, then I shall leave it there. I should have been able to discern that Ariel-sama had become the Demon King based on the fragmentary information. That I didn’t realise it is merely due to my inadequate imagination. Despite knowing the importance of information, I was a fool not to be able to determine the real situation from the gathered information. In no way am I criticizing Shiro-sama. In the first place, Shiro-sama is a person on the side of the demons. There is no obligation for her to inform us as representatives of the humans with regards to information on the demons.

「Well then. I am sure that you did not call me in order to gossip. Please speak about the matter.」
「Hmm. In my case, I would enjoy speaking about the old days though.」

Ignoring my urging, Ariel-sama tips up the wine bottle. Her slender throat heartily rises and falls, and the contents of the bottle empties.

「Pwah! Delicious!」
「Even amongst my collection that is an item of rare quality after all.」
「I am the Ruler of Gluttony in the end you know. I have a keen nose for the good stuff.」

In a good humour, she stirs the wine up even further.

「Dustin. Won’t you change your mind?」

Quietly, in a small voice that I almost fail to hear it, she enquires that. My response is a given.

「It is too late for that. Since the start, I never had the right to choose my answer. That is not something allowed for this fool who abandoned the Goddess, choosing to take the path where the humans survive. I have no right to choose another path.」
「I see.」

Silence. Only the solitary sound of Ariel-sama drinking the wine resounds.

「For those who know the past, it’s just us, Gyuri and Potimas now. The ones that I knew have sacrificed themselves, the lot of them.」
「Those personages were magnificent.」
「Magnificient or not, once they’ve gone there’s no meaning to it. Sariel-sama wouldn’t have wished for that.」
「Even so. Those personages, following their own conviction, continued to resist this world to the end. I am envious of them. Though even thinking that, is probably something unpardonable for me.」

Ariel-sama’s former comrades, were strong. Not just in combat ability, but their hearts. Perhaps it could be said that their strong hearts themselves were the key to their strength. The act of wanting to save the Goddess, that very belief.

However, they are no longer with us. They cannot even reincarnate. Because they sacrificed everything, including their very souls.

「Well, in the end, I too am about to take actions against Sariel-sama’s will, so I guess I have no right to talk about them.」

Ariel-sama said that as if seemingly lonely. Following Sariel-sama’s will, the only one to adhere to that until now, the oldest Divine Beast who continued to watch over the world. To take actions against that will, just how much conflict is within her I wonder. I cannot even imagine that.

「I will kill Potimas.」

A flat voice. It is said that when the urge to kill someone becomes too great, conversely one’s emotions become vacant. Potimas has gone too far. In spite of having already earned Ariel-sama’s wrath, he actually provoked her even further.

「Neither of us are able to compromise with each other.」
「Of course.」

Putting aside everything that happened in the past and joining our hands together, is no longer possible for us. Ariel-sama and I, have already walked too far down our paths of no return. While we accept each other, those paths can never reach the same conclusion. Even still, on just this occasion we are able to cooperate together. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, huh, a saying from Sajin’s world.

「Afterwards, shall we grandly kill each other or what?」
「I humbly wish to decline.」

Those words were said as a joke. However, that is a future that could well happen after the elves are taken down. We are able to cooperate for now. However, we’re still mutual enemies. No matter how far we go, we cannot come together. In that case, we must settle our dispute. For Ariel-sama to have become the Demon King, that was surely to put an end to a particular matter. Once that happens, I will only be an obstacle to Ariel-sama. In which case, conflict is inevitable. With the current Ariel-sama having decided to take actions against Sariel-sama’s will, the mere concept of being careful does not exist. I’m sure she will wage her entire soul.

Terrifying. Our chances of winning, is equivalent to none. Even so, I must oppose her. For the sake of all humans. I swore to protect the humans even if it meant committing blasphemy against the Goddess, in order to continue what I had begun long ago.

「Thanks for the drink.」

Ariel-sama places down the empty wine bottle. A wine bottle with a magnificent label, but without any content. To that thing that was like myself, I felt an empty laugh rising up.

Kumo desu ga, Nani ka? The Second Informal Conference ②
Kumo desu ga, Nani ka? 267