２３． Those Proud Ones
TN: Recommended BGM–> Price of Freedom
Good day, this is Jilbagias who was ordered to kill the captured human race.
Finally, this day had come.
The day that I wished to never come.
Even I was surprised by how calm I was.
Maybe I had already prepared for this day when I made a pact with Ante.
But, contrary to that resolution, I felt that my body temperature had shot up, and then beads of cold sweat started to appear on my forehead.
The men were glaring at me.
Since they were captured by the demon king army, they must’ve gone through all kinds of tortures.
They were covered with grazes, and judging from their appearance, they didn’t even get a proper meal.
Restricted, surrounded by demon race, night elves, beastfolks, as they got dragged to the centre of the training ground… They must’ve realized that only a tragic end awaited them.
Even under those circumstances, they didn’t lose their hostility.
If not for those chains, they might be going on a full rampage right now.
Small fries Like hell they are.
If people like them aren’t hailed as heroes, then who has the qualification to call themselves a hero
「Choose the one you want to kill the most.」
Warg told me so while tapping the shaft of his spear on his shoulder.
「Jilbagias, take this.」
Platy gave me an obsidian knife.
It was enchanted with powerful magic.
It was much sharper and tougher than your average knife.
「When my father took me to my first hunt, he also gave me a stone knife to kill my prey.
And then, I made my first spear from the bones of my first prey.
This was the tradition that has been going on since ancient times amongst the demon race…」
Warg was closing his eyes with a nostalgic look on his face as he told me about how his first spear was still hung in his room even now.
I was standing still, looking at the knife in my hand.
Everyone in the training ground stopped whatever they were doing, and looked at us.
「De-virgin’s ceremony, eh.」
「How nostalgic, I did the same thing around that age too.」
「Ah, he seems to be 5 years old this year.」
「Eh He’s too tall for a 5 years old kid, right」
The demon race, beastfolk, and the night elf were exchanging such conversation.
「In my case, my opponent was a forest elf.」
「Heh, lucky you, my opponent was a deserter from the ogre race.」
「In the confusion, I accidentally killed a soldier from a hostile clan.」
「Mine was the human race.」
The spectators were enjoying this spectacle.
「Remember your first time, how you had a hard time just to behead someone.」
「Yeah, I remember it, you almost cried since you failed to cut the bone.」
「Stop… don’t make me remember that dark past!」
「I wonder what kind of method that His Highness going to use to kill his prey」
I became the focus of several hundreds of pairs of eyes――
I opened my mouth while trying to moisten my parched lips.
「Can I kill all of them」
「Do as you like.
You may slit their throat, or stab their heart.
It’s up to you on how you treat your prey.」
Then, these prey of mine…」
I had to make full use of them.
There were five of them.
「―― release them from their chains.」
I gave such an order to the night elf who stood behind the five.
「… All of them」
The night elf made a face as if telling me not to overestimate myself but, he still followed my order and released the chained prisoners.
「Jilbagias! The human race excelled in group fights!」
I ignored Warg who warned me from behind.
I called my beastfolk’s subordinate instead.
「I’ll need your help.
If even one of these people survived after this, send them back to the border alive.」
「They’re going to fight the son of the demon king after all.
It’s only natural to give them some sort of reward, right」
I’m looking up at the men who stood still after their chains were released.
――If possible, I wanted all of them to return alive.
All of them were valiant soldiers who didn’t even beg for their lives in such a hopeless situation after all.
I didn’t want those valiant soldiers to be executed like that.
But, no matter how much I wished for their survival, it was something impossible for the current me.
There was no way I could show an attitude unbefitting of the demon prince in the general presence.
I understand-in fact to the point that I feel sick of it- of my current status, and value.
Even if I bet my life to free these five, the demon kingdom wouldn’t allow that to happen.
On the contrary, as long as I acted like a proper demon prince, my blade would someday reach the throat of the demon king.
And then, overthrow this kingdom from the inside.
That’s why―― When it was limited to something that I could do for them.
I changed the rule from hunt to duel, offering a 『Prize』 in a seemingly impossible situation.
That was the only thing that the current me could do for them.
Naturally, I had no intention to be a good boy and kill the unresisting ones.
『You’re still going to kill them anyway, isn’t that for your own self-satisfaction』
Ante was jeering inside me.
『But then, killing them after offering the chance for them to survive is far crueler after all.』
Well, you could say that too.
『Killing without letting them suffer is a sign of benevolence you know.』
No, you’re mistaken.
If I was in their position.
I rather had a chance to receive a reward rather than die helplessly.
Killing them painlessly was benevolence you say Screw that.
Benevolence can go eat shi*t!
「Don’t think too badly of me, human.」
I spoke to those men as I readied my knife in the backhand grip.
「I might be equipped with a knife but, there are five of you.
So, do your best even if you’re unarmed.」
They must be able to do something, they’re five trained soldiers after all.
Even if they could only rely on grappling skills, they could use their superior number to surround me and take my knife.
When that happened, it was a checkmate for me.
「As long as we can kill you…」
A man muttering something.
「You’re going to let us go」
I loosen my stance for a moment and then declared to the entire audience.
「IF SOMETHING UNEXPECTED HAPPENs AND THESE PITIFUL HUMANS MANAGED TO KILL ME―― TREAT THEM AS IF THEY’RE STATE GUESTs AND SEND THEM BACK TO THEIR HOMETOWN! BEING ABLE TO TAKE THE HEAD OF THE DEMON PRINCE IS WITHOUT A DOUBT AN ACT BEFITTING OF A HERO.
DON’T YOU ALL THINK SO!」
The spectators were booing, jeering, and laughing upon hearing me speak to those men with a ridiculing tone.
Though Platy was looking at me with a composed look on her face, her folding fan was on the verge of snapping in two due to how hard she gripped on it.
Warg was―― Making a slightly displeased look on his face.
He might think that I was overconfident.
Garounya was flustered, she was stuck between my order to 『Not assisting me no matter』 and her raison d’etre to 『Protect me from all harm』.
Next is a show befitting our proud demon race.」
「Heh, that’s quite unexpected.」
He alone spits out such remarks.
「Did you just say, demon race’s prince」
The old soldier was glaring at me.
Taking my head will be your glorious achievement.
Now, remember, Our name is――」
「――【Our Name is Jilbagias】」
I’m reborn with this annoying name.
「――【Son of Demon King Gordesgias, The Demon Prince Jilbagias】!」
All the soldiers readied their stance immediately.
「【O God of Light, Grant Us Protection】」
「【O Abomination Words, Take This Light of Purification】」
「【May We Are Protected From The Curse of Evil Beings】」
They recited several arias at once and stood in a row formation.
The thin, feeble-looking membrane was wrapping around the soldiers, mixed with the soldiers on their sides―― Forming a solid shield.
I felt some sort of nausea attacking me.
Small fries my ass.
All of them were first-rate soldiers.
I wanted to cry seeing such splendid cooperation.
This is how the humans fight their battle.
Honestly speaking, their formation would be complete if they were armed with swords and shields.
Despite lacking in their individual abilities, the human race soldiers were trained to fight a group battle.
―― I really wish that these brave soldiers would win this fight.
And yet, I couldn’t afford to lose either.
I had no intention to die either.
Nor will I let them kill me either.
「――BE MY NUTRITION!」
That’s why I’ll use them as stepping stones to defeat the demon king.
「「DEATH TO DARK FOLK!!」」
The soldiers replied in unison.
There was no need to speak anymore.
Hunt or be hunted.
Our scramble for life was about to begin.