Mushoku Tensei (LN) - Volume 25 - Chapter 9.1

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The Armor

I HAD NOT LONG BEEN GIVEN LIFE in this world when my father spoke thus to me: There is one person in this world you must not make an enemy of.

I asked the reason, but my father would not tell me, offering only a vague response. Such memories of my infant years are fond and rare.

Time passed, and at the conclusion of the Second Great Human-Demon War, a certain saying began to spread: There are three people in this world you must not make enemies of.

Well, wasn’t that interesting? One had become three. Yet, when I first heard the specifics, I was overcome by laughter. Those three were the Dragon God, the Demon God, and the Fighting God. I couldn’t stop myself from asking back, quite genuinely, “Wouldn’t that be four people?” By rights, the Technique God ought to have been on that list.

Alas, few had seen the Technique God, and his very existence was doubtful at best. As a wise and all-knowing demon king, I knew that—be they three or be they four—the truth remained the same. There had in truth only been one person not to make an enemy of, and that was the Demonic Dragon God Laplace. He had always been the greatest of all until he was split in two in the Second Great Human-Demon War. Even afterward, he continued to tyrannize the world through fear. He was truly the greatest in the world. For my own part, whenever I encountered a youth drunk on their own strength, I told them, “There are three people in this world you must not make enemies of.” The North God Kalman especially took such a liking to it that he allegedly repeated it every chance he got. He was always so susceptible to the influence of others.

Ah, but if you asked today’s young people to name which three people they must not make enemies of, you may well end up with a different three. I expect some would even name North God Kalman. The threat of Laplace had faded. More than four centuries had passed, after all.

So much the better. Laplace was terrifically powerful. I’ve lived a long time, but I have never encountered a greater threat than he.

Yet the Man-God told me such a greater threat does exist, in the form of the current Dragon God—Dragon God Orsted. That would be the man to whom the great Dragon God Urupen passed his skills. They say he’s what, the hundredth Dragon God? I scarcely believed the line had continued for so long, but the great Urupen always did play fast and loose with numbers. The actual number of generations was likely irrelevant.

In any case, this Dragon God Orsted was supposed to be terrifically powerful, so much so that he surpassed the Demon God and the Technique God—so much so that he could even defeat Demonic Dragon God Laplace. I’d be hard-pressed to say I believed such a story. I myself fought Laplace once, and his gruesomeness was beyond my power to express it. A power greater than that? Inconceivable! Fwahahaha!

Yet, that cowardly god of men who looked down on all of us on this earth as scum, that model of arrogance whom even Laplace dared not challenge—he feared only this Dragon God. He took such pains to stop, nay, to kill that man with the fearful countenance, and yet he had never once succeeded. Would you believe it? He even came and bowed his head to me! Just that should be enough to make one believe it.

Now, was there anyone out there who could defeat such a mighty being? The answer to that was no. There wasn’t even anyone who could defeat Demonic Dragon God Laplace. I professed no great knowledge of the subject, but my father said that none have rivaled the Dragon God’s power for more than ten thousand years. Was it any wonder? Physically he was the strongest—wearing his invincible armor and wielding his unmatched martial skills, how could anyone ever best him?

Four hundred years ago, in the Laplace War, it was only narrowly and with the power of the Seven Legendary Heroes that Demon God Laplace was sealed away, and he only had half of his power then.

No, don’t tell me! You’ve a question about that, don’t you? You want to know why Demonic Dragon God Laplace isn’t around today. Why was he split into Technique God Laplace and Demon God Laplace, with Orsted inheriting the Dragon God name?

I have one answer for you. It was because another appeared, bearing the name of Fighting God. Another Fighting God, you say? Well, that just came down to a simple case of stolen identity. A man stole Laplace’s ultimate armor—the Fighting God Armor he’d crafted himself. This Fighting God Armor is terrifically powerful, you know. Such is the power it confers upon its wearer; you might think it was created specifically to vanquish a god. Admittedly, any ordinary person would die the moment they put it on… Not only that, but that armor would kill anyone who wore it for too long, no matter if they were abnormally skilled. Even Demonic Dragon God Laplace fought without it in the final days of the Second Great Human-Demon War. It was not an item to mess with.

But I digress. The thief obtained the power of the armor, fought the Demonic Dragon God, and they ended up taking each other down. Ironic, isn’t it? Defeated by the very armor he himself created.

“…Jeez, you talk a lot. What’s your point here?”

“That if we only had the Fighting God Armor, we might even be able to defeat Dragon God Orsted! That is my point!”

“And what if we don’t have it?”

“Then we shall surely lose. The young North God and the toothless Sword God may claim otherwise, but I, who have fought the Dragon God and survived, know better than anyone his strength.”

Geese was silent.

“Though I am an immortal demon, I expect I should die if I fought him, for he knows ways to kill even those of my kind.”

“Then what’s the plan?”

“We go and get it, of course.”

“Yeah, easy enough to say, but it’s not like this crazy armor is just sitting around in a basement somewhere, right?”

“They say it is kept tightly sealed and the journey there is treacherous!”

“Well, ain’t that a headache. Can’t pop in and grab it then, huh?”

“Fwahahaha. To me, it might as well be my basement!”

“Yeah, well, I don’t think it’ll feel like that for me…”

Geese sighed as though he were fed up. It was too late; before our eyes yawned the mouth of a great hole. We were in the middle of the ocean. Here and there, parts of a reef peeked out. Here, in a patch of ordinary, unremarkable ocean, lay a hole around fifty meters across. Water came welling up from it. That’s right, not flowing in—welling up. Who knew whence it sprang and to where it flowed? Those with the eyes to see it would also notice that the hole emitted a terrific quantity of magic. Of course, that included myself.

“This place’s full to bursting with some crazy energy.”

“You feel it, then!”

“I’ve raided an S-rank Teleportation Labyrinth and even that had nothing on this…”

“Fwahahaha! But of course! This labyrinth, you see, is different from other labyrinths. It is a mana collection point that spawned in the Second Great Human-Demon War. It is where a vast continent vanished, inhabited by the wandering souls of many millions of demons.

“This is one of the world’s three great labyrinths: the Devil’s Cave!”

From where he sat on my shoulder, Geese went, “Eep.”


Labyrinths were apt to spawn in areas of highly concentrated mana. The true nature of mana was still poorly understood, but it altered animals and plants and could sometimes even effect changes in inorganic materials. Labyrinths themselves were caves and ruins that had undergone such changes. As more and more mana accumulated, it brought about unfavorable effects. Monsters multiplied, trees grew thick, and sometimes sickness broke out. It was one thing for us demons, but a human body would wilt if exposed once to a great volume of mana. Though it seemed humans had grown unexpectedly hardy in recent times, for I now rarely heard of such cases.

The laws of how mana gathered were a mystery to me, but perhaps mana had some property where it was drawn to itself—monsters attacked humans to feed on their mana, and labyrinths absorbed the creatures that perished within them. This was why humans built their settlements and flourished in places where the mana was thinner. Towns and villages of the present day sprouted up in places where the concentration of mana was low. Even Rikarisu, where Kishirika’s castle once stood, was the same. There was nowhere else on the Demon Continent with such thin mana. Or at least, it had been so once before. Things appeared to be different now.

None of the above applied to Atofe’s fortress, by the way. I imagined she thought living in a place crawling with monsters would look the part for a demon king. My older sister was simpleminded like that.

But let us return to labyrinths. Labyrinths often spawned in places seething with highly concentrated mana—that is, so-called mana pools. The denser the mana, the vaster, deeper, and more enigmatic the labyrinth grew. Thus, labyrinths usually sprouted up within forests, wild places, mountains—places away from people. Such places started off rich in mana, and so were prone to the development of mana pools. Mana pools were naturally occurring, but they had a limited capacity. Mana pools that exceeded that set capacity were, in a sense, artificial creations.

Death. When a person died, mana remained. Under normal circumstances, the mana quickly dissipated or else was used to turn the body into an undead.

Should a great number of lives come to an end in a small area, the mana, through its property of mutual attraction, would not scatter but instead begin to converge. At the end of the Second Great Human-Demon War, the blast that occurred when Laplace and I struck one another down wiped out the continent, and together with it, multitudes of people, animals, and monsters. The mana it produced converged at the origin of the explosion and gave birth to a labyrinth. That labyrinth was the Devil’s Cave.

It was the worst of the worst, easily on par with the Pit of the Dragon God on Mount Dragoncry in the Red Wyrm Mountains and Hell on the Divine Continent.

“Phew… So, is this where we go down?”

It was perilous to venture into its depths. First, there was a vertical tunnel spanning around twenty meters that connected the entrance to the first level. The walls were waterfalls flowing in reverse, and behind them lived great swarms of sea snakes large enough to easily swallow a person whole. Even for me, it would take three days to properly clear the place.

“Did the Man-God say anything?”

“‘Jump.’ The snakes will go for any sucker who goes along the surface of the water, but if you fall through the middle, they don’t care.”

“Fwahaha. Then this shall be easy! Hup!”


I jumped! With Geese still on my shoulder, I leapt into midair and let momentum carry us into the center of the hole. Wind rushed about my body as I dropped down into the abyss. Ah, the sensation of dropping down was always a good one! Let me see, when was the last time I dropped from a high place? Was it when I jumped down the cliff in the Red Wyrm Mountains, or was it when I jumped into the great canyon on the Demon Continent? I cannot soar through the skies like Atofe or Kishirika, so it had been quite some time.

Ah ha, there were a great many eyes peering out from the water’s surface. Those would be the sea snakes. I supposed if I were to so much as brush the surface with my fingers, the snakes would immediately burst forth and attack. That’s right! They had an incredibly dull name: Fall Dragons. Humans had a bad habit of pinning the name dragon on anything with a head shaped a bit like a lizard, even when they looked nothing at all like dragons.

Now, while some monsters will always attack, sometimes you get beasties like these that lay in wait. Funny how that happens.

“W-whoa there! You can land properly, right?”

“Fwahahaha! Contrary to what you might think, landings are my specialty!”

“They’d better be!”

Such a skeptical man! Then again, Geese’s fears were justified. The bottom of the hole was dark, and it was hard to make out where we’d come down. I didn’t know myself yet, so I supposed he couldn’t help but worry I’d botch it.

“Light as a feather!”

I never botch anything. I hit the ground with both legs, using the springs in my knees to their full capacity to absorb the impact even as the bones cracked. My hip bone cracked as well. By using my internal organs for cushioning, I stopped the force from traveling through my upper body. Then I used six of my fingers to lift Geese up and killed the last of the force with my elbow.

It was perfect!


At least, I thought so, but Geese turned blue as all the air was knocked out of his lungs.

“Ack, ack…” After a few moments of silence, he gave a loud cough and started breathing again. How weak he must have been, to struggle to breathe after a little bump like that!

“I was right, was I not?”

“Yeah, well.” He seemed displeased but could not complain. His life had never been in any danger.

“Now, then.”

We were on the first level. Spread out at the bottom of the vast hole was an equally vast underground lake. Great pillars towered up to support the roof. Strange as it was to say, there was water pooling up on the roof as well. The place was inundated above and below. Just like the sort of riddle you’d find in ruins. Land was visible here and there, but the edge of the lake was lost to view. If we were to go any further down, we would have no choice but to immerse ourselves in the watery depths…

At the bottom of this lake, there were little crab-like creatures. I mean truly tiny, no bigger than your little finger. They accumulated at the bottom. At a glance, you might not think them any great threat, but when a foe dived down below a certain depth, they’d all strike as one, stripping flesh from bones in seconds.

Were I alone, I could endure it. Geese they’d turn into a skeleton.

None of the monsters from here on had names, by the way. If Laplace were still alive, the old dog would probably have come and named them one by one. They say he was meticulous like that.

“Fwahahaha! What will you do from here?”

“Gimme a second,” Geese said, then got down from my shoulder and closed his eyes. He turned three times in a circle, then raised his arm. “Guess it’s that way.”

“Fwahahaha! Fascinating! Some little charm your people use, is it?”

“Nah. The Man-God said if I did it, we’d get through.”

“Fwahaha! You asked for the answer? How very boring! When you explore a labyrinth you make a map, with all the minutest details, do you not?”

“I don’t have time for that!”

I imagined he did not. For my own part, I was rather partial to the kind of exacting work that would go into searching for the only path to the bottom of this whole sprawling space. Shorter-lived races always wanted to cut down on wasted time. Even though wasting time was what made that time so special…

“Fwahahaha! Then let us be off!”


I laughed, then put Geese on my back and started swimming through the total silence of the underground lake. I sensed something squirming around far, far below us, but I was sure they wouldn’t come up.

I swam like that for a long time. Around when Geese started nodding off on my back, I saw an island poking out of the underground lake. Tentatively, I went ashore and found it had a stone floor and, in the center, a staircase that led down.

“It took this damn long to get through the first level? At top speed? Just how big is this place?”

“Indeed…” As I listened to Geese’s grumbling, I narrowed my eyes at the staircase. Something about it was familiar.


After that, we went on descending level after level. Geese had the method of “clearing” each level memorized perfectly—these methods, shown to him by the Man-God, were utterly insane. I spent the entire journey wondering how we’d managed to get through one level, or why we hadn’t encountered any monsters on another. It was incomprehensible. Had Geese ever questioned it…? No, he wouldn’t. This man wouldn’t be alive today if he’d even once doubted the words of the Man-God. His gratitude to the Man-God must have been absolute.

“Fwahahaha! What’s such a grandiose door doing in the depths of a labyrinth?”

“Dunno. I guess even labyrinths have appearances to maintain.”

“Fwahahahahaha! Showing off, is it? That’s a good one! Fwahahaha!”

Before us was an enormous door around ten meters tall. It was about as big as the door that had been fitted on Kishirika’s castle during the Second Human Demon War. From when it was built to when it was lost, that door never opened even once. See, its excessive size made it damn difficult. Even beings larger than I used the side door next to it to make their way inside. That took me back! In those days, I’d go on about why anyone would make such an enormous door that didn’t even open, saying that we ought to melt down the metal and turn it into weapons for the soldiers.

But Kishirika shot me down with some nonsense about how “If a champion shows up and finds a run-down gate it’ll ruin my reputation as the Demon World’s Great Emperor.”

Had it ever been opened, in the end? Perhaps Laplace opened it. Though if he smashed it down, then that meant there was some meaning in its existence… Back then, I thought I was right about everything. Only now, when I stood on the side of the challenger, I wondered about that so-called authority of Kishirika’s… But no, in fact, I didn’t understand it at all! Fwahahaha! This door was clearly far too big! It just looked like a wall! A champion faced with this door wouldn’t try to force it open, they’d just go through the side door!

“They’re behind that.”

“It would seem so.”

I agreed with Geese. Labyrinths had grandiose things like this at their deepest point. The stronger the labyrinth, the stronger the inclination toward grandiosity. Amongst those I’d seen, the deepest point of the Black Steel Labyrinth was particularly magnificent with its golden door. Kishirika would have liked it.

Back to the matter at hand. What lay behind the door in the deepest part of the labyrinth was its guardian, so to speak. When we opened this door, a battle with the most powerful monster in the labyrinth would begin. Of course, the level of the guardian of the Devil Cave would go beyond my wildest imaginings… That was no trouble. Geese would have been told how to beat it. It might’ve been a hard fight, but we would emerge victorious in the end.

I suddenly lost the desire to laugh and closely examined the door.

“What’s up, bud? Haven’t lost yer nerve, have you?”

“Yes,” I said shortly. Geese turned back to stare at me.

“H-hey, now! What’s wrong? I can’t be hearing this from you. Yeah, we’re about to face the guardian of this hellhole labyrinth, I get it, we gotta take that seriously! But you’re an immortal demon king, right?! Like you’ve got anything to fear.” The monkey-faced demon’s tone was wry. Geese always put on a joking voice when he was trying to persuade someone. Then, when the moment came, he’d get serious and stab his words right into his mark’s heart. I suppose that was his brand of charm. No matter.


“Don’t tell me you’re actually intimidated?”

I was not, of course. In the first place, as an immortal demon, I had nothing to fear from battle. Whatever happened, I would not die. Fwahahahaha!


“Behold.” I turned. Behind us, death was everywhere. Flames erupting out of nowhere. Never-ending earthquakes. Cracks opened in the ground and swallowed up everything on the surface. Fallen about the space were the undead. Broken bones, ghosts that vanished like mist, and scattered pieces of blackened armor.

“Yeah, well, it’s a hellhole. If you got this far fighting proper-like, that’d be a story to hand down for generations. Only this time, well, I can’t tell anyone, and even if I did, no one’d believe it…”

“This place makes me nostalgic.”

Geese looked at me in shock. “Sorry? You what, now? You mean you’ve been here before?”

“Indeed. But not this place!”

It had been the day the Second Great Human-Demon War ended. In order to rescue Kishirika, I donned the Fighting God Armor and returned to the demon headquarters. That was when I saw it. Because of the incredibly high concentration of mana in front of Kishirika’s new castle, everyone who died there became undead before an hour had passed. I knew the faces of all of them. They were true warriors all, who had pledged their loyalty to Kishirika and had their power recognized by her—Kishirika’s personal guard. I expected they fought prepared to die, but in the end, they’d all fallen to the same sword. I knew, because they’d all been turned into headless Dullahans.

Visible vestiges of them had been left in the Undead I faced. I saw many of the same face; these undead had been generated as copies. I saw it clearly.

Now that I thought about it, the whole of this labyrinth had been familiar. First there was the stone spiral staircase that connected the first level to the second, then the structure like the inside of a fort. The room with a ceiling that shone as though it were full of stars; the weapon held by the man-shaped monster; the fracture in the collapsed exterior wall. The little flowers that no longer grew anywhere but here, where they bloomed at the side of the path; the monsters that were supposed to be extinct… I’d seen all of it before—I had a strong sense of déjà vu.

“Go on.” To quell my anxiety, I sat down. “Come now, sit down.”

Geese didn’t say anything, but he sat down in front of me. Sitting like this across from another man made me want a drink, but alas, we had nothing to imbibe. This wasn’t the sort of conversation to have sober, but oh well.

“Have you heard that the world used to look different to its current form?”

“That’s the thing where Golden Knight Aldebaran’s blow didn’t just take out Kishirika Kishirisu but sundered the continent and created an ocean, yeah?”

“Yes, that.”

That legend was treated as mere fiction these days. It was utterly unbelievable that one man could change the shape of a continent. People know, when they look out on the vastness of the world, that they are small, and nature is bountiful. I counted myself amongst them! The mountains, the ocean, all of nature was always magnificent and beyond our power to challenge.

“I can’t really see it, but you were there, right?”

“I was.”

Geese would be the same. That was why he listened like he did.

“In the days of my birth, there was no Ringus Sea.”

I heard Geese gasp. As well he might! Who wouldn’t make such a face upon learning that the ocean they had crossed only a few days past had once not existed? I suppose he believed it because the words came from my mouth.

“Mount Idatz, the Hills of Ares, the Mimishillan River, the Cabre Lake… Heard of them?”

Geese shook his head.

“They are all names of places that used to exist. Each had its own history. Mount Idatz, for example, was renowned as the mountain where the great elf swordsman Idatzleid perfected his art.”

“Uh, wow…”

He did not know. Idatzleid had died in the First Great Human-Demon War. He was an elf swordsman who had slain many thousands of demons. At last, in the decisive battle against Necross Lacross, one of the Five Great Demon Kings, he died a heroic death. No books containing that episode remained, nor anyone who could tell it. Even the mountain that had symbolized it was gone. It was natural for Geese to be ignorant of it. It felt as though all evidence that the man had ever lived had disappeared…and yet, I tell you, I remembered. The story of the great swordsman Idatzleid was very popular during the Second Great Human-Demon War. Not to the level that everyone knew it, but everyone who swung a blade had heard some version of the tale. No one knew it anymore.

“People, buildings, and not only those but even the shape of the land was gone. We lost everything.” When I said it out loud, I felt a tightness in my chest. “That is how much power is contained in the Fighting God Armor we are going to collect.” I thought of lost things and lost memories. I thought back on all the beautiful vistas that no one remembered. “It is the power to destroy the world.”

Did Geese understand how much might be lost from here on out?

“If, in the Biheiril Kingdom, it comes to the same conclusion it did last time, the entirety of the Divine Continent and around half of the Central and Demon Continents will be wiped out.”

Geese took this in in silence.

“The great explosion will alter the landscapes of the remaining continents as well. The Central Continent will cease to maintain its current prosperity. The Great Forest may become a desert. Millis could be swallowed by the ocean and the Begaritt Continent may be pushed even farther away…

“The races would be thrown together, and there would be conflict. Though it was not recorded in any history book, four thousand and two hundred years ago an age of darkness reigned for nigh on three thousand years. All the races wandered, searching for a land to make their own, fighting one another…”

Having said that, it was not until some years after that war ended that I awoke, so I knew little of that time. Fwahahaha!

I remembered how, after many years, the humans expelled the demons from the Central Continent and drove us over to the Demon Continent.

“Land changes, cultures change, ways of life change, and so conflict breaks out. Though it may be hard to get a sense of such things when merely hearing of them.” When I awoke, I was stunned. The world looked different from before. It had changed in every way. “It was a whole different world.”

The end of the world is less flashy than you’d expect. After a few thousand years pass, no one remembers the world that once was except for us immortal demons. I changed after that war. I became engaged to Kishirika and stopped worrying about trivial problems. We lived in contentment through days of peace. As such, I have only pleasant memories of the past four thousand and two hundred years—though I also forgot the bad ones where it suited me. Fwahahaha!

Geese was silent. In his position, he could not understand.

“With all that on my mind, I just had to stop.” Unlike Atofe, I am relatively quick on the uptake. But now that I had come to a stop, I wouldn’t move again until I was satisfied. I am, after all, a wise demon king. I cannot act unless it is rational. Fwahahaha!

Which is to say, I was waiting to be persuaded. This was where Geese’s smooth talking would be put to the test. This was a demon king’s trial.

“…Hey, bud.” After a period of silence, Geese spoke. “You’re an immortal demon, so I guess you look at the world differently from the likes of me.”

“I expect so.”

“When the land changes and cultures change, well. It probably does look like a different world to you.”

“Surely it would look that way to anyone?”

“Nah, it wouldn’t. No way.” Geese shook his head. “The way I see it, even if you don’t do nothing, just going to the neighboring country is like…heck, it’s like a different world. If you go back to your old country ten years later, it’ll look totally different. Like a brand new reality.”

Ten years, he said. I knew it in theory, but ten years really was a long time to most other races.

“In just ten years, there’s a lot that doesn’t change much, so you get moments where you see that stuff and feel at ease. Then you think about how you ain’t changed either and it really brings you down.” Geese spoke with the same nonchalance as he always had, but there was a weight behind his words.

“Destroy the world? You ask me, that’s an honor. After the world ends, I’d like to build myself a monument.” It sounded like a jape, but his tone was serious. “Only, if there’s that big an explosion, I guess I won’t be surviving that. Hell, I’ll probably die in an aftershock halfway through the fight.” 

Geese looked me straight in the eyes as he went on. “The boss—Rudeus, I mean—he’s an exceptional guy. Yeah, he’s got magic coming out his eyeballs, but like me, he can’t use battle aura. He doesn’t let it get him down. He tries hard and gets clever, plus he’s humble and he knows how to rely on folk. People don’t rely on him, mind. He relies on them. Even though you’d think he could do whatever he wanted by himself, a guy like him who can do basically everything. He can divide up tasks among other people and they’ll do it. There’s not many who can do that.

“Me, I’m not strong enough to take on the boss. I know that. See, this time, what I did was bring people together. It’ll be a fight on equal footing. Makes you wanna win, doesn’t it? Unlike the boss, I ain’t got nothing but this. I got the Sword God, the North God, the Abyssal King, the Ogre God, and now the Fighting God. Yeah, I borrowed the Man-God’s powers, but I reckon I’ve gathered as good a force as I could’ve. We’ll go in with a lineup like you’ve never seen before. I thought it up, I gathered them, and I’m going in to win. So it’s nothing to me if I die along the way. I’ve lived a shady sort of life, doing what the Man-God told me. That’s how much I valued my own skin—I’ve looked after it real careful, so no way am I gonna lose it, that’s how I felt. I thought it was the most important thing, but I also thought maybe there might be something else more important out there somewhere. Anyway, it ends here. I know I might die, but I’m not about to stop. So you gotta commit. My opponent’s Rudeus? Well, yours is Dragon God Orsted. Against an enemy even stronger than Laplace, seems about right that the world should end, y’know?”

Risking your life was an idea unfamiliar to me, an immortal demon. The Dragon God had the power to kill immortal demons—that was what had killed my father. Yet it didn’t seem real to me. Even Atofe was still going strong after being sealed away who knew how many times over. I was unfamiliar with death. Having said that, I knew that people with finite lives valued life. People like Geese held life especially dear. They wouldn’t do anything important with their lives, but they treasured them, nevertheless.

…That was just it. It was now that he had the chance to do something important that he was willing to give his precious life. There was nothing that obligated me to join him… I had decided to oppose the Dragon God. I’d decided to join the Man-God. Though I’d said never again to myself at the end of the Second Great Human-Demon War, I had plumbed the depths of the Devil’s Cave to retrieve the Fighting God Armor. Indeed, I had to commit. Just like Geese.

“Fwahahaha! Just so! Very well, let us go and obtain the world-destroying armor!”

“That’s what I like to hear! Let’s go!”

Dear me, I got a little tangled up in my thoughts! After that day, I ought to have known that it was better to plunge ahead without thinking about what might greet me. I was clever, but I was also foolish, and I thought that would make a man worthy of Kishirika.

Well, if so, I’d better get started! Fwahahaha!


I knew the defender of the labyrinth. He was one of those they’d called the Five Great Demon Kings during the Second Human Demon War. When I arrived at the site of the final battle, this man was already long dead. He had been the captain of Kishirika’s personal guard. His name was… No, I shall not give his name. This being had the same form, but it wasn’t him.

We were at the deepest point in the Devil’s Cave, so I’d been convinced we’d find someone the spitting image of Laplace. This was an anticlimax.

That this man—loyal but rigid and the type to rush headlong at everything—was the master of the Devil’s Cave… It was hardly living up to its name.

“O-oy! This guy looks nasty…”

“Fwahahaha! It’s true, he looks most fearful! He is no serious threat!” Standing before us was, of course, a headless knight. What had changed from long ago was that he wasn’t holding his head. He wore jet-black armor and was impaled with swords. Whenever he moved, the swords made an awful scraping noise. If memory served, he’d never been one for sticking himself through with swords. Which meant… Yes, I’d thought it obvious how he’d died, but of course, he’d fought to the bitter end. But not with Laplace. He’d led an army half-destroyed by Laplace against the humans. In the end, they’d cut his head off. When you’re not an immortal demon, you die when your head is cut off! I’d thought his body had been wiped out in that explosion, but it turned out he was here! Ah, such a touching reunion. Got me all choked up!

Now’s the time I’d have liked to share a drink and exchange old war stories. Back then, he and I hadn’t seen eye to eye at all, but nowadays! I was sure we could have enjoyed a drink together. Alas, we had to vanquish the guardian if we were to get the object we’d come for. I got straight to it. It’s not like he had a head to drink with anyway! Fwahahaha!

“Fwahahaha! Come and fight me, if you dare!” I raised my fists and charged forward. In the past, I might have balked before this demon king. The captain—now he had been a strong man, especially in single combat! He could even stave off Atofe. Atofe was immortal and had a bottomless reserve of endurance, so he could only ever stave her off, but still! He reigned supreme as the strongest of the Five Great Demon Kings. He was doubtless a power to be reckoned with. Scholarly old me never once picked a fight with him. He’d have sent me flying in an instant. Ever since those days, I’d trained and trained. Using the memory of the time I’d spent wearing the Fighting God Armor, I developed my own unique martial style and honed my muscles so that I could use it. I stayed with Atofe, who beat me to a pulp every day. I worked so that I could act with reckless arrogance too. Who’d have thought the day would come for me to show you the results? Fwahahaha!

“Nghuh!” As I approached him, firing myself up, his fist punched into me and sent me flying. I did three somersaults! My face had caved in. That would soon heal, though.

“Fwahahaha! This is bad! I won’t win like this!”

I got straight up again, fists raised, but the difference in strength was starkly apparent, as expected of the guardian of a high-level labyrinth! He seemed even stronger than I remembered…but no, he’d had this in him before. It was clear that, even with a bit of training and working on my personal fighting style, he still outmatched me. This wouldn’t be an easy battle.

“R-right then, listen up, you got it? He’s got a weak point!”

“Fwahahahaha! Ridiculous! A weak point, him?”

“Yeah, only what the Man-God says is…his weak point’s words! Catch my meaning?”

At Geese’s answer, I stopped moving toward the demon king. The second I stopped, he hit me with the flat of his blade and sent me flying backward.

As I flew, I thought.

Words? Even if I were to say them, he has no ears to hear any!

“…Ahah! I see!”

Words. Words?

It was true that he and I had long fought side by side in the Second Great Human-Demon War. Though we had not come to blows, we had of course exchanged words, and not a few promises. Many of them we had kept, and just as many we had broken.

Hmm, in that case…there are too many to choose from!

“I know not!” I took another punch. No, it didn’t count as a punch. His sword was so blunt that it couldn’t pierce my body.

Ahah, swords! That’s it!

“Long ago, he tried to give Kishirika a sword as an offering! The day before, he said someone broke it, but in fact…the one who broke it was me! I am sorry! I resented the idea of you rising any further! It was an impulse! Forgive me!”

“Gyaaaaah!” He lost it. Though he didn’t have a head, a cry of rage burst out from somewhere. So he could hear without ears! His race’s ears weren’t on their heads, back in the day, so perhaps they also didn’t speak with their throats?

But now wasn’t the time for such inquiry.

I’d been sorry that I wasn’t able to confess to my misdeeds, but then, all you could expect of a sword offered to Kishirika was that it would get used in a party trick and broken anyway. I didn’t feel all that bad.

“C’mon, you must have something else!” Geese barked. “Ain’t you the wise demon king?”

“There are too many possibilities! I can’t narrow them down!”

“Then just go through ’em all!”

So I did.

“Remember when your daughter—” 

“That glowing blue horse we found on Ruson Island! That—”

“When we defeated the human army in the Kohiba Hills—” 

None of my words got through to him. Every time I said something, his sword flew out and threw me away. If I were an ordinary demon, I’d have died a hundred times over. I called myself the wise demon king, and though I had my own opinions regarding wisdom and knowledge, well, it was damned impressive how the memories kept bubbling up. It was like I was the old me again, reliving my memories. I grew a bit nervous.

“Eh?” I’d gone through a little more than a hundred recollections when I noticed something.

“O-oy! He’s slowed down a bit, hasn’t he?”

The guardian, moving with a horrible racket as his armor screeched and his sword scraped, had lost some of his vigor to be sure. I did not know which of my words had found their mark, but one of them must have.

“Right, now’s ya chance! Don’t give him time to recover!”

No, that’s not right. So I thought as I looked at the loyal guardian. Nothing I’d said had been the answer. The guardian was looking at me like it pained him, like my stories had led him to remember something. Perhaps my old stories had allowed him to somehow realize that I wasn’t an enemy. He’d lost his sense of self, but he knew that I was not someone he ought to turn his sword on. Why did he try so hard to keep fighting? He was the guardian; that was part of it. Monsters were beholden to such roles. Surely it was some regret that had turned him into the guardian. Well, then. I knew what to say to him.

“We demons lost the war, but we were not destroyed, and Kishirika Kishirisu is alive and well. We shall fight another day. Put up your sword.”

The guardian stopped moving. Then, without a word, he slowly knelt, then fell forward. It was as though he was satisfied. He was saying that now he could finally rest.

“Even after becoming the labyrinth guardian, he was still bound by loyalty. What a stick-in-the-mud.”

I hope I won’t become the guardian of a labyrinth after the fight with the Dragon God, I thought as my feet carried me onward.


At the deepest point of the labyrinth was the throne where Kishirika had sat. It was currently occupied by a suit of armor. It was beautiful. The design was simple, with curving breastplate, pauldrons, and tasset. There was nothing special about it, but you could see it was miles apart from some mass-produced product thrown on the heap at your local armorer.

If it had been on display at an armorer, it couldn’t have failed to draw attention with its perfectly efficient design. Whatever metal it was truly made from, it shone gold, and in the dark it emitted a faint glow. The efficiency and the shining gold produced an awe-inspiring effect that fascinated anyone who saw it.

It was a bit smaller than the last time I’d seen it. No—there was no way the size had changed. When I first saw it, the awe it had inspired in me must have made it appear larger. Now, however, it appeared far more sinister.

“Th-this is the Fighting God Armor… W-wow… You can tell it’s crazy powerful just by looking at it.”

“Take care you do not touch it. It will suck you in.”

“R-right…” Geese then gingerly drew back his outstretched fingers.

“Fwahahaha! I jest! Nothing will happen simply by touching it!”

“C-c’mon, don’t scare me like that… Honestly, though, it feels like something would happen if ya touched it…”

The Fighting God Armor, built by Laplace as the ultimate armor. Nothing would happen if you touched it, but it cursed those who wore it, spurring them into battle. Remembering the old days was enough to give me goosebumps.



“I know not what I will become after I put on the armor.”

Geese was silent.

“I will do my best to protect my sense of self, but it will only be a matter of time before I am lost. Worst case…”

“Worst case? Yikes, what the hell am I supposed to do then?”

“Oh, no, you need only to get me to where our enemies are. I’ll handle things after that.”

“All right, sounds doable.”

“Fwahahahahaha! I am counting on it!”

“Cool. It took a minute, but now we’ve got all the force we need to win. The Abyssal King’ll disrupt them, then the Sword God, North God and Ogre God’ll go in first…and then, in the end, if the Fighting God takes out the Dragon God, then victory’s as good as sealed.”

Geese sounded pleased.

Very well then!

“Well, then, for the first time in four thousand and two hundred years, I’ll show our enemies what it looks like when I get serious!”

“Yeeyah! You got this, big guy!”


“Hahahaha!” Geese’s laugh of relief echoed off the walls of Kishirika’s former throne room.


“Much as I hate to do this when you’re in such high spirits, your time’s up.”

I was on my high-spirited way home when the Man-God came into my dreams to provoke me. What fun.

Ah, but what a peculiar place it was—white and empty. Where it could possibly be located had always been a mystery to me. You couldn’t wave it off with the excuse of it being a dream. The place was always the same, and from what I’d heard, that was true for the others the Man-God spoke to as well.

“Tch. What do you care about that for? So annoying.”

 Now, now, Man-God, settle down. You come out of nowhere saying ‘time’s up,’ but I haven’t any idea what that means. I might be the Wise Demon King, but I still need knowledge in order to understand.

“Abyssal King Vita got taken out right at the start. The Sword God and the North God found out and went charging in too soon. The Ogre God joined the fight, but then Atofe came to back up Rudeus and took the ogres hostage.”

Ahh… You got thrashed, then.

“This is your fault, yours and Geese’s, for dawdling down in the labyrinth that long. Useless! You should have wiped the floor with a labyrinth like that! What were you even doing? And Geese! All that big talk from him only for it to end up like this? What a moron I was to count on you!”

Bwahahaha. I see how it is. The forces you assembled got taken out, and you’re sulking. You might get called a god, but in the end, you’re just a man.

“What did you say to me?”

The thing about plans is they rarely go how you’d like. One look at the Sword God and the North God should have been all it took to guess they’d run in too soon. Especially Alec. The boy never knew how to heel, not since he was a runt! Perhaps things didn’t go how you wanted, but you ought to have anticipated that. But wait…your overreliance on seeing the future means you’ve never been one to expect any other potential outcome. This sort of thing happens all the time.

“…What’s your problem?” 

Bwahahaha! You’re only gonna get more wound up if you get that tetchy over every little thing! I must say, though, it’s unexpectedly refreshing to see you making that face! I like it! Once, a glimpse of that face might have shaken me—but now that I am lending you my help out of the goodness of my heart, I have nothing to fear! Bwahahaha!

“Give me a break. Sure, I can’t see your future, but I can still take away the things you hold dear…and I’ll manage it in places your eyes don’t reach.”

There’s that shortcoming of yours. You fail to get specific about those things I hold dear.

“Demon Emperor Kishirika Kishirisu.”

Oho… To be sure, the thought of you laying hands on her is not a pleasant one. But you mustn’t take all this so seriously! This is the kind of friendly banter that comes with being allies. Indeed, you and I are comrades now—brothers in arms. Taking out your irritation on your allies will only hurt their morale. You shouldn’t let on to your allies when you’re panicking—not when defeat is by no means certain. 

“Uncertain? You do know more than half the allies I brought on board are down and it’s only you left now, right?”

It is not certain. It isn’t over yet. After all, Geese and I are still here.

“What, there’s still something you can do?”

Oh, yes! That’s the thing about plans—you always want to think two or three moves ahead. Geese and I were able to anticipate that the Sword God and Alec would act like fools and charge in ahead. We have another plan.

“And are you sure we’ll win with this plan?”

Bwahahaha! Haven’t you been listening? There’s no such thing as a plan that’s guaranteed to win! On that note, our first plan aimed for a total victory, but this next one…doesn’t. The next-best plan is what comes after the best plan, you know!

“Don’t piss me off. Answer the question. Will it win or won’t it?”

We ought to be able to satisfy the conditions for victory, even if the victory is not total.

“You’d better.”

Well, even if I didn’t have another plan, I’d simply fight with everything I have.

“That would be pointless.”

Bwahahaha! That sort of thinking is why you’re in this mess!

“…And what’s that supposed to mean?”

Geese will give everything he has for you, and I mean to do the same. I don’t know about the Abyssal King, but let us assume he, too, gave everything he had. But what of the Sword God and the North God? What of the Ogre God? The Sword God and North God rushed in too soon. But if they had given all they have for you, if they had trusted you and us, whom you trust, what do you think would have happened then? Mightn’t they not have panicked and rushed in when they heard the Abyssal King had been killed?

The Ogre God said that the ogres were taken hostage. His job is to protect the ogres. As their leader, it is his duty. So when they were taken hostage, he had no choice but to prioritize them. But what if he had decided to give everything for you? Say he had cast aside his title of Ogre God and fought for you as just another warrior from the start. Wouldn’t he have continued to fight in your name, even after the ogres were taken hostage?

“…I don’t…there’s no point in ‘what-if’s.”

Bwahahaha! Life is one ‘what-if’ after another! People do things for one another and help others without hope of reward in order to turn those ‘what-if’s into reality! Indeed, just like Rudeus Greyrat does!

“You’re telling me to copy him?”

Your interpretations of what I said are no concern of mine. However, I shall give you a word of advice before I go. It’s not fair for me to always be the one taking your advice, now, is it? I am the Wise Demon King! I should return the favor every once in a while!

“Like I want your—”

Geese and I will likely die in this battle. But the fight will continue. And even if we win, it will not mean a total end to the fighting. You can see the future, so you think if you see yourself smiling in the end, that means you will have won. But others will come to threaten that shining future of yours. So hear me: if you want to have the last laugh, pay heed to the hearts of men.

“‘The hearts of men’? That’s the stupidest thing—”

And now, I bid thee farewell! Bwahahaha! Bwa, bwa, bwaaahahahahahahaha!

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