Interlude - Speeches From Each Side
“Uhh… okay! Got off on the wrong foot there, but try to forget you heard that part. Please.”
“Well, then. So what’s the idea again? A speech?”
“A speech. A speech, huh…”
“Okay, but honestly, I don’t really have anything to say.”
“I mean, I’m not exactly expecting much out of humanity.”
“Can you blame me? Why would I hold out any hope for people who lived such carefree lives until we got into this situation?”
“Lady Sariel put her life on the line to keep this world going, but humans forgot about that generosity until right this very moment.”
“How many years do you think it’s been since then? You should get some idea if you look at the logs in the Taboo menu.”
“Although I guess it didn’t help that a certain someone has deliberately erased that history to make sure everyone forgets.”
“But still, since I’ve been watching all this time, I’ve gone past anger and gone straight to disappointment.”
“It kills me to think that Lady Sariel sacrificed herself to save such idiots.”
“All those years ago, mankind made a choice to sacrifice her to save themselves. So it’s pretty obvious that you’re going to choose the same thing this time, too.”
“So I’m not expecting anything good, and I can’t be bothered to try and convince you.”
“But I will say this much.”
“We’re the ones who will win in the end.”
“If no one—not even Lady Sariel herself, in fact—is going to try to save her, then I’ll save her myself.”
“Even if I have to sacrifice more than half of humanity to do it.”
“If you people are planning to sacrifice Lady Sariel again, you better be prepared to be sacrificed yourselves, right?”
“So I’ll say this loud and clear.”
“I am Ariel, the Second Demon Lord.”
“Leader of the demons, and a true Demon Lord, not like the fakes who’ve been appointed by the system.”
“In order to free Lady Sariel, I will carry out the dying wish of the First Demon Lord Foduey, who aimed to erase humanity. I am declaring war on all of you.”
“Humans, please die for the sake of your goddess.”
<Pontiff of the Word of God, Dustin.>
My name is called.
When Ariel was called upon first, I suspected this might happen.
There is no human better suited to represent our faction than yours truly.
Thus, it was inevitable that I would be called next.
From the moment I predicted this outcome, I began preparing a speech in my mind.
But all of that was wiped clean from my mind by Lady Ariel’s speech.
She made no effort to collect votes, nor to curry favor. She simply declared that she and her comrades would win through their own strength alone.
Then she even declared war on all of humanity and told them to die for the goddess.
Her confidence is, quite frankly, resplendent.
I am sure my voice is already being broadcast to all of humanity now.
But I can no longer open my mouth.
For a few minutes, I remain silent.
“…We have been through many long years of hardship.”
When I finally manage to force the words out, my voice sounds terribly faint.
“There is so much…that we have built up in that time…”
I remember when I worked alongside my comrades to overcome the period of chaos after the system was first put into place.
When the first Demon Lord, Foduey, bared his fangs at us, and humanity was genuinely in danger of extinction.
When I fought alongside the first hero, and we prevailed over that danger together.
When my first life ended, and during my second life, I saw the times begin to change with my own eyes.
When I felt the loneliness of being left behind as a new generation took over, and fewer and fewer people knew of the world before the system.
When I created the organization called the Word of God, in order to give the masses something to turn to in their time of despair.
In each of these times, I always did what I truly thought was best.
But when I look back, I feel enormous regret, wondering if I could have made things better.
I’ve been reminded countless times that I am only one mere human.
Over and over again.
Try as I might to do what is best, I perpetually fall short.
But I keep moving forward, step by step.
I have built up so much.
Good deeds, evil deeds, and everything in between.
It was all for the sake of saving humanity.
“I believe in what I have built up all this time. And so…there is no need to say too much.”
Surely I could have given a better speech.
After the speech Lady Ariel gave, it would have been child’s play to use her words to turn more people’s hearts and minds toward my aims.
And yet I could not bring myself to say such things.
“I am Dustin, the last president of Daztrudia, and the first pontiff of the Word of God religion. All this time, I have shamelessly repaid our debt of gratitude toward Lady Sariel the Goddess with only hateful deeds and words.”
The rational part of my brain warns me that if I say such things, people will turn against me.
And yet in this final hour, I wished to express my true feelings without ostentation.
It has been so painful all this time.
I felt that my name should live in infamy for eternity.
…Yes, it is true.
I myself despised my own actions.
“And yet I made my choice. That I would save humanity, even if it meant returning a favor with spite. Which is precisely why I have a responsibility to see my role through to the very end.”
Since I made my choice, I must see it through, even if I hate myself for it.
“I will save humanity. No matter what it takes. And so…”
I take a deep breath.
These last words are heavy indeed.
“Gods, please die for the sake of humanity.”
An opposite declaration to Lady Ariel’s speech.
Surely there was a better speech I could have given.
But this is what I chose.
Now that I have said it, I cannot take it back.
Nor would I.
I will save humanity, all of mankind, even if I must sacrifice gods to do it.
<This concludes the speeches from each side.>
As soon as I finish talking, the Word of God echoes once again.
Like always, it is Lady Sariel’s voice, which I’ve become so familiar with.
But the next words are in a voice I’ve never heard before.
<Thus the stage is set. People of this world, the time has come. Make your choice. Take your actions. This is the final world quest sequence. Will the evil god accomplish its goals or not?>
Unlike Lady Sariel’s announcements, which are always mechanical and devoid of emotion, this one is bone-chillingly cold.
The words of this unknown speaker could give one goosebumps.
I can only think of one theory.
The god who Lord Black Dragon asked for help, who created the system for us.
<Well then, do your best to entertain me.>
The god’s words signal the beginning of the end.
The start of the battle to determine the fate of this world.