“Well, let’s go sightseeing today . Visit the capital as you please, but don’t cause any trouble . ”
In the early morning, I told Dina and the others that we would be staying in the capital for a while . I was curious about the country founded by Merak . I was also concerned about the mixed-winged faction which was in the same situation as me .
Most importantly, I needed to confirm what was inside Merak, so we could not leave too early . Since learning that Megrez was a resident of this world, I had partially given up, but it was not like I felt there was no possibility .
The question was how to contact him… Unlike Megrez, I needed to consider the fact that he had not abdicated his throne .
After all, this was a country of flügels, whose lifespan was different . Unlike Svalinn where there were many different humanoid races, this country was completely composed of flügels . Unless there were a lot of antipathies, there would not be a change in political regime in merely two hundred years . In other words, he was harder to contact than Megrez who had retired .
“Solo action…There is no problem when considering combat power . ”
“Sightseeing…Where should I go?”
Libra and Aries had no particular objections, seemingly enthusiastic about sightseeing . No, I couldn’t tell if Libra was enthusiastic or not . On the other hand, Dina was easy to read . A joyful expression was evident on her face .
“Sounds good . I will check out the situation with the white-winged faction . I might find something interesting . ”
It was difficult for me to check out the white-winged faction, so it would be of great assistance for Dina to do it instead . Solo action would disperse our fighting strength, but there should be no need to worry about these people even if they encountered a bit of danger .
Even if the Seven Luminaries attacked, they could easily repel them . Libra and Aries had such combat capabilities . As for Dina…I did not know her strength, but she was smart enough to keep herself safe, so there was no need for concern . Besides, she could teleport, so she could just teleport over to me when in danger .
“Then, dismiss for now . The meeting place will be this inn . ”
That said, I left the inn . Dina left soon after for parts unknown . Aries ran off in another direction as well . Libra…oh, she was flying with jet propulsion again . I told her not to use that since it was too noisy . I really didn’t know what to do with her .
Now then, should I look around this town?
I left the inn and wandered around the town . I did not feel like I was attracting a little attention from the surroundings . However, wearing a red cloak that covered my whole body, it was natural to attract some gazes, so I gave up . It would be nice to have a slightly better disguise than this .
Considering Ruphas was female, I should wear men’s clothes instead . I was actually male anyway, so it probably wouldn’t seem too unnatural . Hmm? Oh, that was a surprisingly good idea . I should create a set of men’s clothes with alchemy later .
After walking for a while, I saw a building reminiscent of a Greek temple surrounded by pillars . Although it looked like a temple, its color was completely black . The pitch-black temple gave me an ominous feeling, but my curiosity got the better of me . So I stopped by the temple and decided to visit it .
I wondered if they worshipped an evil god or something . This was strangely exciting .
Concerning the deities of this world, Alovenus was the goddess of creation and also the only deity in this world . Although the demons claimed the name of divinity, they had nothing to do with the goddess . They probably used the name of divinity out of rebelliousness against Alovenus .
There were also five dragons that governed the attributes other than Metal and Water, which were governed by Alovenus . They never appeared in the game though . Online version aside, even TRPG and console games did not have them . They were phantom characters who only had setting pictures publicly released .
Well then, what was being worshipped here? Was it an independent religion? Or perhaps this wasn’t even a temple?
As I passed by other worshippers and entered the temple, I saw the idol within .
Hair that reached her waist .
Jet-black wings .
A unique fashion sense involving a coat over her dress .
This was undoubtedly me—Ruphas Mafahl . I was strangely looking at my own statue…
“Oh, how rare . Are you a traveler?”
A gentle voice spoke to me, who was staring dumbfounded . When I turned my gaze towards the voice, a smiling youth with reddish-black wings stood before me . His face was neither beautiful nor ugly, somewhat average I guess?
Unlike the beautiful elves, flügels usually had ordinary looks and generic faces . It wasn’t that the flügels’ beauty standards were not high when compared to humans, but there were still ugly individuals as well . However, since the flügels’ beauty standards were based on wing color instead of facial features, nobody would pay an individual’s face much attention unless it was overly ugly . In such a situation, the youth with a generic face and reddish-black wings…well, he must have a difficult life .
“You are quite surprised to see this statue, right?”
“Yes, I’m surprised . Does this temple idolize the notorious overlord?”
Upon hearing my reply, the guy with the generic face looked grim .
What? Was he unhappy because Ruphas was criticized? I was just telling the truth about myself . It was somewhat funny for him to be upset about it . When I thought so, a weird laughter nearly burst forth .
“Indeed, to the outside world, Ruphas-sama was an evil invader . But to us, she was a savior . ”
“Oh…Tell me about it . ”
Somehow this country…or rather the mixed-winged faction’s impression of me was different from the rest of the world . I wanted to hear more about his story . I thought that it could help me understand more about Ruphas .
“Do you know that the flügels are concerned with the whiteness of their wings?”
“Oh, I know it well . Since flügels claimed to be descendants of angels, white wings are considered to be the unique pride of the race?”
“Yes . However, not every flügel is born with white wings . There are those, like me, who have wings of different colors . ”
The beauty standards of the flügels were dominated by wing color, then followed by wing shape . Face and body are considered secondary, so people with wings of different colors were discriminated against .
Nonetheless, completely pure white wings were unheard of . Most of them were slightly gray, using white with a low lightness as the standard . Perhaps, light gray was considered passable .
Conversely, the darker the color, the more one would be estranged . Of course, my jet black wings were out of the question . Also, wings like his that were mixed with other colors were automatically out as well .
“Our situation was terrible . Currently, we have a town to live in and a certain quality of life, but it used to be really terrible . Other flügels do not even think of me as a comrade . When I walked down the streets, I was pointed at and mocked . People with similar conditions stick together . I was living miserably in the slums . Can you believe it? Because our wing colors are different, we could not get jobs and had to starve . ”
What he said was not unique to flügels . People discriminated against others over minor things, thinking that they were justified because of group psychology .
When one was in a superior position without the constraints of reason, even kind people could easily become evil .
The twenty-one subjects in the Stanford Prison Experiment were randomly assigned as guards or prisoners . As a result, the guards who were in positions of power went out of control and abused the students serving as prisoners, beyond the call of duty . In the end, after merely six days, the experiment was aborted because of a prisoner-student becoming psychologically traumatized . The student seemed eager to continue, claiming “It is different from what was agreed . ”
This was despite the fact that they knew the prisoners were innocent and that it was just an experiment . In other words, when men believed their superiority was justified, even kind people would become evil . Everyone had this quality in them .
As a result, discrimination intensified according to the easily noticeable difference in wing colors . There was no exception among the flügels who claimed to be descendants of angels . Whenever I heard this story, it felt overwhelming .
The descendants of angels…Hearing this was enough to stupefy me .
“We lived in fear every day, hiding in shadows . It was miserable…Those days were really miserable . But she was different . ”
He raised his head and spoke with a strong yearning .
“Her wings were black, but she was more beautiful than everyone else . Unlike those of us who could only curl up in fear, she proved the value of her existence with her own power . Then, she dominated the nations, forbade discrimination of the flügels under her rule, and treated us like people . ”
Ah, yes . Truly, when you were praised before your eyes, your back would itch .
I did not dislike being praised, but it would be uncomfortable if it was too much .
“Thanks to her, we were able to regain our pride . We are not a miserable existence…We could take pride in being flügels with wings of different colors . ”
“Isn’t this over-exalting her? Have you forgotten that the Twelve Heavenly Stars under Ruphas took away your homeland?”
“I have not forgotten . Rather, I think we reaped what we sowed . Betraying Ruphas-sama, subjugating her, then foolishly allowing the demons to make a comeback . I think it is rather merciful that we aren’t all killed . ”
…Ah, this was rather bad . I could clearly sense the hate overflowing from this hot-blooded man . It was enough to make him reveal his dissatisfaction to a suspicious traveler .
Yet I still had to listen .
To his…no, to the rage brewing in the hearts of the people of this town .
“Those words could be considered an insult to King Merak…What do you people think of your own king?”
My question stunned him . In the next moment, his eyes turned sharp and cold with an icy rage . It was ice because there was no outlet for the anger . However, if the subject was before him, it would easily burst into flames . The man replied without hesitation .
“He’s the lousiest foolish king…Being called a hero or whatever, it makes me laugh . ”
Aries was walking alone in the dark streets . He had neither a clear destination nor something he needed to investigate . Because there was nothing in particular for him to do, he was just pointlessly strolling around the town .
In the first place, happiness to Aries meant serving his master . Currently, doing what was useful to his master had a higher priority than anything else . For the master that he did not see for two hundred years, he wanted to do something to show his filial piety . He would not mind going the extra mile for that .
That was why he wasn’t really interested in strolling around the town . He would much rather return to his master now .
But I don’t want to get in the way .
Ruphas was obviously very interested in this city . However, Aries could get interested in a city founded by the hero who betrayed Ruphas . On the contrary, he would rather burn it all down right now . But since his master wanted a stroll, he would obey without causing trouble .
Therefore, there was not much that Aries could do . At most, it would be to avoid disturbing his master’s sightseeing and to eliminate the things that would likely get in the way .
Specifically, the Seven Luminaries of the demons . They were probably setting up something in this town . Or rather, they had no reason not to do so .
The survivors of the Seven Heroes—Megrez, Merak, and Benetnash—were the strongest combatants among the humanoids . The demons could not dominate the world because of their existences . That was why Mars of the Seven Luminaries manipulated Aries to attack Svalinn . Therefore, it was impossible for them to leave this country alone .
And so, here we are .
Aries strongly sensed that someone was following him from behind . No, was that person intentionally revealing his presence to let him know of his existence? Either way, he probably wanted to have a one-to-one conversation . In that case, he might as well go along with this invitation .
Aries walked along the streets to find an empty spot . Eventually, he came to an abandoned plaza .
Normally, there would be children playing here, but there was nobody now . It was not late at night, so there was no reason for people to avoid this place .
An anti-encounter barrier?
Among the seven attributes of this world, the moon attribute included magic that could prevent encounters . It was a simple yet convenient magic that allowed one to avoid encountering unwanted opponents . This magic was treasured by adventurers .
Two hundred years ago, Ruphas often grumbled about how nice it would be if she could use it too . Even if she could not use it herself, there were the Twelve Heavenly Stars around her that complemented her lack . This was especially true for the magic that she was not proficient in, which was supplemented by the Archer, the Maiden, and the Goat .
The Archer was in charge of offensive magic, while the Maiden was in charge of recovery and support magic . Finally, interference and disturbance magic were what the Goat excelled in .
“Come out already, Aigokeros . It is you, right?”
As Aries spoke, the empty space began to waver . Immediately after, a devil-like being appeared like a heat haze . It was a heteromorphic monster with a goat’s head, a human torso, and bat wings . Its lower body was fluctuating, as if it had no real substance .
One of the Twelve Heavenly Stars—Aigokeros of the Goat .
As the man that legends considered to be the devil personified, his dark eyes shone eerily to confront Aries .