The White Town and the Black Town had reached a step away from collision previously, but the battle itself was avoided.
Nevertheless, if someone were to ask whether the issue was resolved or not, the answer was ‘unfortunately no’.
Indeed the collision was avoided, however, the underlying cause for hostility was not addressed in the slightest.
On the contrary, the relationship between the two sides only worsened. This was due to the fact that, regardless of being induced by the demon, people from the White Town had intentionally formed a volunteer army to attack.
And for this point alone, there was nothing that my group could do.
Merak was this country’s king. As such, as long as he did not brace himself and kept both camps under control, the danger of civil war would continue to be a possibility.
I said that with a self-satisfied look of a third party. However, the situation was such that it had developed to the state where we could no longer remain completely uninvolved.
Really, you reap what you sow. Considering I was the one who had ordered Libra and Dina to conduct in the way that they did, there was no room for me to feel regret. Notwithstanding, Merak’s stare was quite severe.
At the time, I was still hiding in the shadow and observing the situation, however, Merak’s line of sight was fixed on Libra.
Well, I guess, if the golem that was supposedly destroyed casually show up, then anyone would be suspicious of it.
As a side note, as golem could only be repaired by the alchemist’s skill, unexpectedly, the identity of the one who had repaired Libra would be limited.
An alchemist who would purposefully (in this day and age) climb onto the top of the extremely-hard-to-conquer tomb, who then repaired and brought Libra out of that place, and proceeded to release fake information about Libra’s destruction… Well, I guess the only individuals who could achieve such a feat in this age was Megrez or me.
Furthermore, the individual who would actually do something like that…. Un, there was only me.
Anyways, it was Dina who actually spread the fake information though.
For those reasons, it was within my expectation that he would arrive at such a conclusion.
“Golem over there…. Ummmm, Brudzewski XVII was it?”
“Nope, I’m Copernicus IV.”
“…………. Un, it really doesn’t matter which, but can I get you to come to the castle with me? Of course, if there is anyone that you are accompanying, them as well.”
Merak’s forceful wording left no room for rejection.
Yet, without even the slightest change in expression, Libra firmly stated her reply.
“I refuse. You do not possess the power to issue an order to me.”
“I, I would appreciate it if you don’t say it like that and come with me…”
The moment Libra replied in a firm manner, Merak became timid for some reason.
Didn’t you become sloppy too quickly?
At this rate, unless there was an order from me, Libra will most probably stick with a single phrase, “I refuse”. Merak was also unable to bring himself to be confident….. It couldn’t be helped, I guess I needed to take an action.
After I decided, I donned a robe (cross-dressed? Aah, I’ve stopped with that…) and showed myself in front of Merak’s group.
“Mah wait. It’s a rare invitation from the King. Why don’t we accept it this time around?”
“If that is master’s order, I have no objection.”
Once I came out, Libra easily agreed to go to the castle and went to stand diagonally behind me as if it was a predetermined position.
Dina and Aries also stood diagonally behind me and made a “this is everyone” appeal.
In truth, Aigokeros was inside my shadow, however, there was no need to go out of my way to let them know.
“I’m really thankful…. Well then, let’s head off. There are quite a few things I want to talk about.”
Although Merak was putting up a front because he was in front of his citizens, from the sight of his back as he walked in front of us, there was no feeling of any haki or dignity at all.
Even Megrez gave off a form of dignity, so what was up with this?
The feeling was so bad that Aries also asked “Is that person really Merak?” quietly. Merak really did not give off the feeling of a King.
There was absolutely no feeling of confidence or the sort being given off by him.
What about when he was in the game?
The Merak that I knew…. was always calm and stood in the position to remonstrate everyone else.
He was by no mean self-assertive or out-spoken about his views.
Nevertheless, he was also not someone that would be carried away by the flow. Indeed, when there was a clash of views, he gently listed out the pros and cons of each opinion for everyone else and guided others.
It was the same with the fight.
He was never the type to proactively stand at the front.
Flugels were a race that was suited to battle, yet they were also a race that had great compatibility to be backline support such as acolyte.
Therefore, there were battle types like me who helped themselves as well as complete backline support players. Amongst the two types of players, Merak was the latter.
He himself was neither proactive nor matchless.
However, the difficulty of the battle was completely different depending on whether he was at the scene or not.
Whatever the situation, he always sent the best possible support at the best possible timing.
He read the atmosphere… was how I would put it.
Strangely, before we could write down what and when we needed the support, he would always cast the support you wanted at the time you needed. He was that kind of a person.
He could always manage the situation, and he always knew what people wanted, that was what I had thought of him.
…..Was that just my overestimation?
Maybe it was “couldn’t go the front” instead of “could be seen a step away”.
Maybe it was simply “no confidence” instead of “reserved”.
Maybe he actually did not have any autonomy even though he looked calm and collected.
Maybe he just could not do anything by himself instead of being capable at reading the atmosphere.
Is that how it was?
Maybe I just thought that he was great on my own and had portrayed and pushed that image onto him.
If that was how things were, it might be a bit problematic.
I have only ever become a King in the game itself and thus did not know how difficult it was to be a king in actuality.
In other words, I was a total amateur. However much I became Ruphas Mafahl, I myself was still an ordinary citizen.
Notwithstanding, even someone like me knew that a King without confidence was nothing good.
Especially now when the fuse had already been lit, having a King that was not assertive was detrimental.
Even if it was a little forceful, it was important for the King to show his majesty and keep both sides down.
….At this rate, this country would really collapse without the demons doing anything.
—somehow, it pisses me off.
Even like this, can you call yourself one of the men that took me down?
“Please, have a sit.”
Merak led my group into what looked like his personal room then poured tea into cups for all of us.
I had only ever known and drank tea out of a can or a pet bottle previously, but even I could feel that it was a high-quality tea from the fragrance it gave off.
As expected from a King. He had been drinking some good stuff.
“It’s a tea made by the tealeaf imported from Draupnir. I think you will enjoy it.”
Again, it was a name I did not know of.
I took a sip of tea and shifted my line of sight to Dina who was sitting in the chair beside me.
When I took such an action, maybe she was predicting that I would do such a thing, she explained to me quietly.
“It’s a country of beastkin, made by the now deceased Beast King Dubhe. It’s been told the quality of agricultural product from that country is high.”
Country of scholars Svalinn, industrious nation of Blutgang. And now an agricultural nation of Draupnir, huh.
One way or another, each country was prominent at something by their own way of life.
“And this country?”
“By utilising monster tamers, dairy and livestock farming produced and exported out serving as their main source of income. It’s just, they never export out any bird meat.”
“Well err, I guess they’re kind of a bird themselves.”
It would be stating the obvious this late, but Flugels were humanoids with wings.
Although there was no official explanation as to the origin of the Flugels, the most influential explanation was the story of [Descendants of Angels].
In addition to that story, there was another explanation which stated them to be [Bird which was transformed by the mana].
In other words, it was a cruel explanation which viewed the ancestors of the Flugels not as the Angels, but more along the lines of pigeons, pelicans and cranes.
More explicitly, the Flugels were the Beastkin which originated from them. And those Beastkins, in turn, had gotten involved with the human to create the Flugels. That was the train of thought of some people.
Of course, the truth was unknown. However, if that was the case, it would not be strange for there to be more Flugels with mixed coloured wings. It was difficult to believe that only the white-winged birds transformed.
In any event, if that was the truth, then it would be strange for them to export out birds.
It would not be a forgivable act to turn their own ancestors into domestic products and sell them out.
“Anyways… isn’t it enough by now? Would you be able to take your hood off and show me your face?”
“Umu, very well.”
As there was no one else nearby, even if I showed my face in that place, there would be no problem.
I took off the hood that I was wearing as I was told and showed my face.
When I did so, Merak became teary and showed an expression that I could not decide whether it was joyful or sad. He then hung his head down.
“As I thought, it’s you…. Ruphas. It’s been a long time. You are, alive.”
Seeing that reaction, I was feeling slightly disappointed.
I had given a thought about it but… this guy… was not a player.
He had lived in this world from the very start and was an original inhabitant of this world.
He was not a mixed existence like me.
“On the other hand, you’ve changed a lot. You became quite weak in the short time I didn’t see you.”
“Is that… how it appears?”
Merak gave off a weak laugh to my sentence which could be taken as an insult depending on how he interpreted.
It was a pitiful smile which might be broken at any given moment.
“That’s not it…. That’s not how it is Ruphas. I’m weak from the start. I never had a King’s calibre.”
He grabbed and scrunched his own hair with both his hands and laughed at himself.
The appearance of him holding onto his own head was far from what one would imagine of a hero who was called the Sky King. It only gave off the appearance of a young man who had been beaten down to rock bottom.
“Back then, you were there. Alioth and Dubhe were there, and everyone had stood in front for me. I was just… someone that walked behind you guys.”
He must have really been tired, he was even speaking in a different first-person pronoun.
His mask as the [King] had completely fallen away, and the sight of it alone made me feel pity for him.
This was most probably his true face.
Timid and without self-assertion. A young and weak-willed man who matched up with his surroundings.
His previous appearance was nothing more than a mask he had frantically kept on.
‘And due to the appearance of someone he knew from the past, that mask was completely peeled away’ was how I would word it.
Though, I was me and not the Ruphas that he knew of.
“Is, is this person alright? I feel like even if we let him do whatever he wants, he might get a hole in his stomach and die.”
“Yeah… It’s also the first time I found out he was this weak-willed.”
Dina asked me a question with an astonished tone. However, it was also the first time for me to find out that Merak was this kind of a person.
This guy, was he really this weak to stress?
Megrez was also fairly driven into the corner, however, he was different from Merak.
Megrez sought abuse and disdain, but it could also be said that he was loved to the extent that he could wish for those yet still not receive them.
In other words, whatever people wanted to say, Megrez had properly unified his country and was loved by them. Megrez was all that.
However, if Merak did something like that, he might die from stress.
….It’s bad. 7 Heroes are super troublesome.
“I should not have become a King… you should have remained as the King. Aaa, why did I become an enemy and fight with you 200 years ago?…. I should have been the one to die…. At that time, I shouldn’t have won…..”
As I left him alone, he started falling further and further into a deep end, reaching to the point where he started muttering.
This guy is not good… he might really end up committing suicide.
Can’t be helped. I’ll give him some shock therapy.
I don’t like nor am I good at giving lectures, but, if Merak doesn’t hang on, this country will really collapse.
I stood up from my seat and rudely barged in front of him.
I then kicked the chair Merak was sitting in and made him fall onto the ground.
It was an act where if I had kicked the wrong place, it might have gotten ugly. Nevertheless, because his HP was well over 10,000, even if it had landed, it would not have done much damage at all.
It was weird to be saying at the time like this, however, it was a fantasy manzai.
“Shut up, fool. I’ve been listening for the whole time, but you’ve just been saying whatever the hell you want. You, you dare call me a clown that was accidentally defeated!?”
I was not the Ruphas that this guy knew.
However, those final few words I said back then (or more like typed) were also the words that Ruphas had said out loud, then she most probably would not feel regret about the loss itself.
Notwithstanding, to think that the winning side felt regret to the point of eventually muttering “it was wrong to have won”.
With such a situation, Ruphas would be turning in her grave and I also would not be able to stomach it.
If the winner said such a thing, then there’s no face remaining for the loser.
Hey, was I a clown that was defeated by mistake, huh?
There was no option but to think of it like that.
That was why I grabbed onto Merak’s collar and forcibly pulled on him to make him stand up.
“Be proud. Stand up high. You are the man who defeated this Ruphas Mafahl. I will not accept you acting pitifully.”
Exactly, there was no way I could accept it.
If the winner was this pitiful, Ruphas could not be saved.
After he was lifted up by me, Merak was looking dumbfounded. However, after a while, his well-featured face was distorted and started sobbing from both his eyes.
“….I can’t be your match huh, not against you. You haven’t changed… just like 200 years ago, exactly the same, still always full of confidence.”
“Even like this, I’ve changed a bit.”
I released Merak and let him sit on the chair.
Uncharacteristically, I spouted out arrogant things, but I did not think I had said anything wrong.
Having said that, after saying something so boastful, it was a bit embarrassing.
I could no longer just go back and sit on the chair again with how the things had developed, thus I decided to quickly leave the place.
“This country is yours. I will not help you further nor would I let you ask for help. For the rest of the problems, show me that you can sort things out on your own – The Sky King.”
As I quickly turned my back to him and left, Dina and the group also followed.
There was nothing more for me to say nor for me to do.
Even if we had solved the issue, the King would still be Merak.
In any event, unless Merak decided to believe in himself and acquire some confidence, something similar was bound to happen again.
“You won against me. Show me that you can solve something this small. Don’t turn me into a fool.”
Merak “But really, I don’t have the confidence to unify the country, and even if I try to act with dignity it’s just embarrassing, and everyone will hate me, and everything I do will be fruitless, and my luck is bad, and I lost to the Demon King, and Benetnash will call me incompetent, and she ignores my call for cooperation… and look I don’t look commanding… and saying “stand up” and “stick your chest out” is easy but… even if I get carried away with phrases like that… I’ll just be in trouble… and it’s not suited for me… and more like… I can’t… probably can’t… and more like impossible…” mumble mumble….
Ruphas “7 Heroes are supeeeerrrrr bothersomeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!”
(Author Note end) “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loupe”.  I made a note about having many types of King under Japanese before. This time, the “King” is literally “Country King”.  Haki (覇気), explained new chapters ago when I explained about “King” and “Ha”. This haki is exactly the word used in One Piece. Literally meaning, will, spirit or ambition.  (空気を読む) is a famous Japanese phrase. Literally meaning “reading the air”. But English equivalent would be reading the atmosphere. For this scene, it might be closer to reading the situation though.  Sound made in Japanese when you’re impressed. If I had to put it in words, it’ll be something like “is that so?” with a positive meaning and tone.  In chapter 17’s comment section I wrote a short explanation of all the “I” in Japanese but here is copy paste of the relevant part of that comment (also, for this line, Merak usually use Watashi, but now he used Boku).