Chapter 50 – She Who Rules the Dead
The battlefield where Lucifer, the demon god with overwhelming power, and his wife, the ancient hero, left.
The Dahlia prairie has become a wasteland.
While standing alone there, offering a silent prayer for those who died on this battlefield, she appeared.
She emerged from a black hole-like space, a strangely dressed girl.
She was dressed in white and a long, scarlet undergarment.
Claude had never seen such a costume before.
She looked to be about 11 or 2 years old.
She had long black hair and lifeless red eyes.
She looked to be the same age as Charlotte, but there was a mysterious atmosphere about her that no ordinary person could emanate.
However, she appeared in the same space where Lucifer disappeared. Her true identity must be that of a demon race.
The girl with a melancholy expression on her face was holding a sickle in her left hand.
However, there was no sense of murderous intent, and the girl with the air of tranquility about her calmly announced, “I am the one who is going to kill you. I am Leviathan, one of the royalty of the Tenebrae demon kingdom, and master of the realm where the dead gather, called the Palace of the Dead.”
Despite her slender and pretty appearance, it seems that this girl is also a high-ranking demoness.
Even Claude, who has run through all kinds of battlefields, couldn’t see the extent of the girl’s combat ability.
While remaining vigilant, he also identifies himself.
“I am General Claude Duras, Commander-in-Chief of the military forces of the Granden Territory in the western part of the Elberia Empire. Though, by the looks of things, there may be no point in even identifying myself.”
“Yes, I know who you are. I’ve been keeping an eye on you for some time now. No hard feelings, please.”
Her language is similar to that of an old man.
However, the girl who calls herself Leviathan seems to be a human being from all appearances. Therefore, he felt a strong discrepancy between her appearance and his own, which made him feel a strong sense of discomfort.
“What do you want from me, Leviathan the Demon King? Have you come to finish off the opponent whom Lucifer failed to finish off?”
“He failed to finish you……? Hmmm… ……? Oh, I’m sorry. Well, yes, that’s what a normal human being would think. Indeed, I am not good enough to rebuke him, am I? What a pity.”
“What are you saying?”
The girl with a deep melancholy on her face let out a little sigh.
“I’m sorry. For Lucifer, the battle was nothing more than a sideshow. No, he didn’t even think of it as a battle. It was just a passing fancy. That’s the kind of man he is.”
She looked down on him a lot.
“I’m sorry you’ve been hurt so badly, but just think of it as being kicked by a wild horse and forget about it. As soon as I get back to Tenebrae, I’ll give him a firm talking-to.”
Claude was once again aware of his own physical condition.
His bones were broken and he was in extreme pain as if his internal organs had ruptured. Needless to say, it is a miracle that he is still standing.
With the blessing of the Great Goddess, the wounds have already begun to heal, but it will be some time before he fully recovers.
“Then, why did you appear here?”
“Claude Duras, the great hero. I am here to apologize to you, to atone for the damage Satan has done to this country, albeit unintentionally, and above all…”
As Leviathan spoke, a ghostly body emitting a faint light appeared from the depths of the earth.
It seemed to be exactly the same as the lower-level apparition that had attacked Granden.
They were over a few dozen, and finally more than a hundred, and they stirred as if they were clinging to Leviathan.
The girl, with a sickle in one hand, touched the astral bodies gently and looked at them with an expression of compassion.
She opened her mouth with a calm and gentle smile, unlike earlier when she seemed as if she was worried about this world itself.
She said, “Mm……mmm. It must have been painful. It must have been painful. Your name is …… Ilia, isn’t it?”
When he was astonished to hear the familiar name, Leviathan stroked the apparition she had called Ilaria.
“I can only imagine the regret you must have felt at such a young age. But you could have led your daughter to the battlefield and protected her. The way you risked your life to protect your inexperienced commander was truly magnificent.”
One by one, the other ghosts also clung to Leviathan’s body.
As if they were seeking salvation.
“Mm, mm. Let us go together to the palace of the spirits of the dead. Let me tell you your story there.”
The girl who speaks to the dead in a benevolent tone of voice does not seem to be a demon god with tremendous power.
However, there were words that Claude could not ignore.
“Wait. The name you call is that of our imperial soldier. What do you intend to do with the ghost of a dead man?”
“I only hear the stories of the dead and talk with them. After many years, the hearts of those who are ruled by these feelings of anger and sadness will be at peace, and they will begin the path that leads to the underworld.”
“I cannot overlook that. Calling for those of the empire to come to the land of the demons? That’s a load of crap.”
“……The dead have nothing to do with their country or origin. The most important thing to remember is that the dead don’t care about their country or origin. That is why I must heal them.”
“If the dead are to be saved, the best way is to purify them with the sacred arts. There is no need to lead them into the realm of evil demons.”
“I do not like that approach.”
Leviathan looked at Claude with lifeless eyes.
“The sacred art is indeed powerful,” she said. “And if they were all to be bathed in it, the dead would vanish in an instant. But that will not be rewarded. I reject the idea that it is enough to simply purify the dead without considering their feelings of grief and sorrow. This is exactly what the Holy Kingdom, Resta Flora, is doing. What arrogance to simply extinguish the dead without considering their feelings. Great hero, knowing this, do you will ever think the same way again?”
The words from the slender girl were so heavy that Claude was lost for a moment.
In the meantime, the ghosts surrounded Leviathan and clung to her entire body.
Suddenly, Leviathan slowly tried to swing the sickle in one hand.
Instantly, Claude leapt from his spot and swung the divine sword Revistra without hesitation.
“Was all your talk up to now just a joke, demon king over the dead!”
“No, it is not. Do not be hasty.”
Leviathan caught Claude’s divine sword with the fingertip of one hand.
The impact alone caused a crack in the ground where she was standing.
She did not go easy on him. On the contrary, the girl in front of him easily stopped the blow of the divine sword, despite the fact that he had struck a blow that was close to his full strength.
Leviathan looked at the frightened dead with concern, and then said in a calm tone.
“This sickle is my sacred weapon, and its name is Saturnalia. I don’t even remember how many years ago it was named after a ritual used to celebrate agriculture on another continent I once visited.”
Claude stopped pointing his sacred sword at the girl, who showed no hostility, and listened to her story.
“I named her after a pleasant custom, but I am also a majin. Once the destructive impulse takes over, every thought is colored by the desire to kill. I realize that I have killed countless people with this sacred weapon. No, it is not only the sacred weapon, but from the time when I was not in “this form,” I have been killing endlessly…”
The girl with a glimpse of deep regret speaks of her nostalgic feelings.
“I have killed too many people. Therefore, the victims hated me, and many dead people clung to me. And for hundreds of years I have listened to the vindictive voices of the departed. …… One day, when I visited a mysterious place, a girl told me, “Why don’t you listen to the voices of the dead that clothe you, and heal their vindictiveness?””
Leviathan put one hand on her own garment and added, “This garment is also similar to that worn by the girl.”
“If I wielded my power, the weak dead would be easily annihilated. But that will not do. She also told me that it was my role to heal those who had died helplessly from the overwhelming power of me and to avenge their deaths. As atonement for the crime of killing so many people, I was told to continue to do so as long as a being called me exist.”
“…… you have obeyed her words?”
“Yes. I was not of the nature to love killing for no good reason as long as I did not fall prey to the destructive impulse. So when I came to my senses, I had an indescribable feeling every time I saw my body covered in the flesh and blood of humans and their organs. The girl said it was nothing but guilt.”
Leviathan wields her sacred weapon.
It was a gentle motion, not one that hurt anything.
At that moment, the voices of the dead, who had been moaning in what sounded like pain, ceased.
“Then I decided to talk to them. The voices of the dead, which at first were only dim, became clearer and clearer, and I continued to talk with them for a long time. I thought that this eternal body was all for that reason, and I talked with countless others…As I spent many years in this way, gradually the feelings of hatred and resentment disappeared, and some of them departed for the underworld.”
A pale light overflowed from the sacred object called Saturnalia and enveloped the surroundings.
Claude remembered the divine sword of the girl who had attacked that temple, but he shook his head and decided to focus on the words of the demon king in front of him for now.
“It is said that this divine weapon has the power to put the dead to rest. I do not know exactly why this is so, but perhaps the lively and joyful scene lies deep within this blade. I believe it may reach the hearts of those who are ruled by resentment.”
“…… Is that how you will save all those who are scattered here, every last one of them?”
“Of course, through my dialogue and the power of Saturnalia. It may take time, but I believe that they will be saved if they spend their time peacefully in a place where they will not be disturbed by others. Therefore, Great Hero, allow me to bring this multitude of the dead back to the Palace of the Dead where I reside.”
The girl with lifeless eyes, however, did not seem to be lying.
The ghosts who had been screaming in agony have grown quiet, and they are not being forcibly restrained.
If only those who died in the war here could be rewarded for it. Even while thinking this, Claude wanted to confirm one thing.
“Leviathan,” he said, “you are a demon king. If you should be called upon to fight in a war with another country, will you go to the battle?”
“…… if it is inevitable.”
“Will you then use them as pawns in your war?”
Leviathan shakes his head at the question.
“These people do not have the strength to fight in the fierce battlefield,” Leviathan said. “There are those under my command who are skilled in warfare, and when the time comes for battle, they will be the ones to come to the rescue.”
“You have powerful undead dead under your command?”
…… “Abyss Daemon, the Dead of the Abyss. The name of the army of the dead that I lead. Once, they invaded Granden, which you guard.”
The story of the demon race’s attack on Granden sounded familiar, but the details were no longer recorded in any documents.
“I sent them in retaliation for the invasion by the empire. In retrospect, it was a foolish thing to do, but at the time I was still unable to fully control my destructive impulses and my memory is hazy. All I can clearly recall is the sight of the ruined fortress city with no one left alive. It may be none of your business now, but I apologize once again. I am sorry.”
“……It was a long time ago. If you mean no harm now, I do not blame you for it. I know that you will bring away those who have died here. But there is something I have not heard yet. What is your atonement for the appearance of Satan?”
When he asked this, Leviathan nodded and began to give details.
Claude listened to her words with his eyes wide open, and when she had finished speaking, he said to her as if he were trying to fill her in.
“Are you telling the truth?”
“Of course. I haven’t told Lucifer yet, but I will. He won’t stop me. He won’t even be interested.”
Claude did not ask what he would do if the Demon Lord, who controls the spirits of the dead, contradicted him on this unexpected proposal.
He did not want to offend her. If he missed this opportunity, there would be no way to help “them” anymore.
“I understand. I believe you. Please forgive me for my rudeness earlier.”
“I don’t mind. It’s no wonder you’re so angry. Now that we have agreed, I must return to Tenebrae in haste. Now, if you will excuse me.”
Leviathan then headed toward the black hole, leading the drifting ghosts, and suddenly stopped and turned around.
“The maid that accompanies you, by the way, is the “living dead,” isn’t she?”
“……Yes, that’s right.”
“It seems to maintain an ego and rationality so strong that it is almost impossible for the dead. It’s not something that could have occurred naturally. Who ‘made’ it?”
Claude could not answer that question.
“I have seen Elsa many times since my childhood. At that time, she was working as a maid in a certain noble family, just as she is now, but she was quite a good fighter. I even had her accompany me for training at one point. When I later met her again on the battlefield, she had not aged at all. I don’t know, she died once in front of my eyes when we ran through the battlefield together. She received the mighty breath of the dragon all over her body.”
Recalling the memory of that time, Claude has a pained expression on his face.
“But Elsa, who should have been left without even a bone in her body, managed to regenerate. Afterwards, I asked her about it, she said she was a dead person. In the end, she stubbornly refused to tell me anything more than that. That is all I know about her. But even if Elsa is no longer a human being, she is still my beloved family member.”
“I see. You are very kind, my great hero. I am glad to have had this opportunity to talk with you, even if only for a short time.”
With these words, Leviathan disappeared into the hole leading to the Tenebrae demon kingdom.
He had just revealed his killing spirit, but it disappeared completely while he was talking with her.
The only demon race he had heard of in fairy tales were those with cruel and inhumane personalities.
In fact, even Leviathan had attacked Granden in the past, so it was not surprising.
But are the demons really just cruel? The benevolent expression on Leviathan’s face showed another side of her.
Suddenly, Claude felt dizzy.
The fatigue of the battle so far must have hit him all at once.
Claude looked in the direction of the Tenebrae demon nation for a while, then turned on his heel and returned to Granden, the fortress city he was guarding.