Chapter 41: Birth of a Hero
The ones who appeared were Albert, nine Stalker Demons with their faces covered by black cloths, and an expressionless Big Hawk.
Wait a minute, why was Big Hawk here?
There was no way he could have chased after me in such a short time …
“I knew I wasn’t wrong. You belong to the hero category just like me.”
Albert ignored my surprise and spoke with grand gestures.
“You might have believed that you had outwitted us but you are too predictable. This degree is within expectations.”
What a lie, it was just because Big Hawk was backing him.
The response was too late if this was within expectations. They had already lost half the battle when I succeeded in taking Al and Ademi away from that location.
“Albert, why is Big Hawk here?”
Albert blabbered on about various things after that but it didn’t seem like he would answer my doubts so I actively asked the question myself.
“That is …”
“That is because this Big Hawk is just a husk.”
Big Hawk’s voice sounded out, intercepting Albert’s voice as he tried to explain.
That voice had a bell-like ring to it that was pleasant to the ears so it was clearly different from Big Hawk’s voice.
” … I see, the last doubt I had has cleared up now. Even if you obtained the knowledge to make that drug from somewhere, I was wondering just how did you guys succeed in sacrificing 50 intermediate-rank demons. That was the only aspect that I couldn’t understand but so it was because you guys had a Contract Demon backing you guys.”
Big Hawk’s face distorted hideously.
“The one who made a wish to me. This being wished to become the King of Zoltan. That’s why I lent my strength. I took over the body of this incompetent man who lacked a single piece of intelligence and in exchange, I will become the King with this man’s ability and personality. This man’s consciousness is still present. This man will see and feel what I experience. He will be able to enjoy both gastronomical sensations and beautiful maidens.
There is just a minor flaw in which he can’t even move a single tip of a finger but I believe he is satisfied.”
Contract Demon. The Devil’s contract.
There were famous stories of contracts and demons that would grant your wishes.
The majority of those stories ended in tragedy. The foolish contractors’ soul gets absorbed by the Contract Demon’s Divine Protection and was used to raise their Divine Protection level or as material for their demon equipment.
The protagonist was this Senior-rank Demon. By exchanging contracts to fulfill the wishes of those apart from demons, they could utilize powerful spells that they normally aren’t able to … they would be able to exercise power equivalent to the Gods, capable of altering reality.
Senior-rank Demons possess skills that guarantee absolute obedience from lower-ranked demons. According to scholars on demons, Lower-rank Demons apparently also possessed skills with the effect of forcing obedience toward Senior-rank Demons. Not only their Divine Protection impulses, even their skills also bind them to that act.
Using that power, it probably summoned Axe Demons and used them as sacrifices.
And the fearful aspect was that the knowledge of that drug definitely came from this demon.
“Senior-rank Demon huh?”
Even though it was not a demon oriented toward direct confrontations …
(It is not an opponent that I can decently win against in a fight.)
In this situation, even without Ruti, if I had Danan or Yarandorara as my companion and still had Thunder Waker equipped, I would have more than sufficient chance of a perfect victory.
However now, I was alone. I didn’t have a single magic equipment, just a copper sword as a weapon.
It was not a condition to fight a Senior-rank Demon.
“Similarly, your side probably can’t decently win the fight either.”
” ……. ”
The expression on the giant-orc-figure demon did not change.
However, I was sure that my prediction was correct.
“If a Contract Demon actually took action, it should have been a lot easier to control Zoltan. Why did you not do that?”
” … Why do you think that was the case?”
“I know a little on Demon Study too. I have read quite a few papers regarding Contract Demons. The contracts of Contract Demons possess amazing power but at the same time, they have aspects that even the Contract Demons can’t control. Right?”
“The contract was to make Big Hawk Zoltan’s king. For that sake, you took over Big Hawk’s body, perpetrated all kinds of evil acts as Big Hawk … but your progress stopped at the Number two of the Thieves Guild. That’s certainly awkward.”
The Contract Demon’s face distorted slightly.
“It is not just for show that this is called the town of laziness. The mayor and the various guild leaders and even in the Thieves Guild that presides over the underground society, the top management here are all 100% decided by seniority.”
That was right.
In this town, the promotion to the top was depending on seniority.
After reaching a certain position, a person’s achievements, Divine Protection, and even personality were irrelevant.
The seniors are great and wise while the younger members relax and wait for their age to rise. There was no room for ambition.
“It’s because disputes were a hassle. Your turn would come even if you don’t work hard. That’s all that mattered. Big Hawk was the Number two of the Thieves Guild but it didn’t mean that he held the title of Vice-Guild Leader. It just meant that his ability was at that level. No matter how excellent he was, he would have to wait another 20 years before he could become the leader of the Thieves Guild.”
” … Sheesh, seriously, this town is beyond help.”
The Contract Demon covered his eyes with a single hand and shook his head at the deplorable situation.
“I have fulfilled similar wishes like this. With my knowledge and judgment and Demon Divine Protection, it should have been an easy task. I confess, I’m beat. No matter how many achievements I stacked, no matter how much rewards I prepared, they shook their head because it was a custom. Zoltan people are incredible sloths.”
“As you are bound by contract, you can’t discard Big Hawk’s body. The wish of the contract has already been cast. Failing to grant that wish will mean that you default on the contract after all.”
If that happened, the demon would have to release Big Hawk’s soul. In the case of a contract default, the demon will have to return everything it stole from the contractor and its Divine Protection level will drop by a few levels too.
In other words, it would take a big loss.
“That’s when Albert, another outsider in a similar situation, caught your eye.”
It was a well-known fact that Albert was friendly with the Thieves Guild.
There were a number of testimonies that stated Big Hawk was the mediator in his interaction with the guild and that he was his backer.
The Contract Demon could not use any power that Big Hawk did not possess according to the contract but that same contract ability can also allow it to cause miracles even in the form of Big Hawk.
The Contract Demon could no longer dodge the facts after I had said that much so it agreed with my words.
“Not anybody can be chosen as contractors. Unless they possess sufficiently strong intent while still harboring darkness in their hearts. To fulfill that point, Zoltan was the worst location. Even though everyone harbored some kind of dissatisfaction, they all gave up, thinking that it couldn’t be helped. The sin of sloth does have its own utility value but they are not suitable as contractors. It was my good fortune that Albert came here.”
Albert’s Divine Protection was The Champion.
A hero from birth. However, he was not able to achieve much.
Although he was not weak, he was only mediocre and could not pass as a B-rank Adventurer individually so he had to have a party assist him in his activities and was enrolled to form a B-rank party.
There were many factors for that; he did not have anyone around him who could teach him how to acquire the skills of the Divine Protection of The Champion, his own lack of talent as well as his poor spirit of cooperativeness.
But, the point that was important at this moment, was that he was not satisfied with his current circumstances.
After all, he was The Champion.
“In Zoltan, Albert could pass off as a B-rank adventurer. When Albert arrived, the B-rank adventurers in this town were the previous mayor, Mistome-shi, the Adventurers Guild’s executive, Garadin, Bishop Cien from the Holy Church, and Guard Captain Moen. Those four formed a party and found time among their busy schedule to cope with situations that required them. There was an extreme lack of manpower. Even if he was a little lacking in ability, they shut one eye as he possessed an ability close to that of a B-rank.”
Albert’s face distorted slightly upon hearing the Contract Demon’s words.
Even though it was the truth, those words were probably unpleasant to Albert.
I also heard from Moen that the situation at that time was terrible.
In addition to being busy with their main job, leaving aside Moen who was still active as a Guard, the remaining three were at an age that it was not strange for them to retire and they lacked combat training in their regular work. There were apparently countless incidents where they were faced with danger even when fighting against weaker opponents.
Albert became Zoltan’s hero.
“However, I utterly hate this Zoltan.”
“Despite having a problem in front of their eyes that required adventurers to solve, those trash decide to ignore it just because it was a hassle. Good-for-nothings that will complain non-stop once you looked away. Those are my companions? Those are B-rank adventurers like me? I will never recognize it! And myself living among such trash! A town that would make a fuss over the extermination of an Owlbear! And why would I feel heroic for such a deed! What has my life been for if I stagnate in this town!!”
Perhaps the more the people of Zoltan applauded Albert as a hero and the more he saw the figures of his companions enjoying life without any concern, the more it acted as a source for the darkness in his heart to grow.
That was when the demon took advantage of him.
” … But don’t worry, D-rank. I am a man who will become a hero. Even if I form a contract with a Contract Demon, I will not be complicit in an evil plot.”
“You say that after so many incidents had happened? There have been casualties.”
“A necessary sacrifice. My wish is for this Zoltan to be united and join the fight against the Demon Lord army so I need a town with combat ability and strong spirit to match that. The sacrifice of blood is needed for a revolution.”
“Against the Demon Lord army?”
“After listening to this, Red, you should understand that our and your actions are absolutely not evil.”
The Contract Demon continued on.
“Firstly, the current Demon Lord army is different from the likes of the previous Demon Lords who are the mainstream faction that attacked this Avalon Continent … we call it the Dazzling Continent … countless times. Because this Demon Lord has conquered many races, everyone is obeying him. The Demon races that have not been conquered and the Dwarf race that still maintain their power have colluded to form a resistance army and are fighting against the Demon Lord army … but the situation is not looking good.”
“I am obviously here to fulfill this Half-Orc’s wish but at the same time, I also want Zoltan that is in the backlines to actively fight the Demon Lord army as well.”
What the heck? The conversation has flown to a remarkable direction.
“Albert’s wish is to become a Hero that defeats the Demon Lord along with other heroes. The compensation for the contract is not his soul but his lifespan until he defeats the Demon Lord so I will support him until his battle with the Demon Lord. What do you think? Don’t you think it can be said to be a contract with absolutely no evil intent?”
“Is that true, Albert?”
“Yeah, it’s true.”
Albert answered while staring at me straight in the eye.
His eyes were burning with ambition.
“With the power I received from this demon, I now have the Magic Sword Vorpal Blade that can kill any monster! In addition, the Devil’s Divine Protection that can confer fighting ability even to those with trash Divine Protections! I will take control over Zoltan’s Congress and become the General. Then, I will turn this Zoltan into a military state and join the fight with the heroes!”
At that moment, Albert probably saw himself facing the approaching soldiers of the Demon Lord army as he stood side-by-side with Hero Ruti, the Martial Artist Danan, and the troops brandishing their spears in response to his shout.
“I am The Champion Albert! At this moment, I am not the leftover scrap Adventurer Albert who can only shine in the border town, but a person befitting of the heroic Divine Protection! I will become a hero who fights the Demon Lord! I will transform into my true self!”
I, who distanced myself from the Hero party, and Albert, who aims to be in the Hero party.
We were both outcast due to our combat ability but we were a complete contrast in all other aspects.