It’s been a good forty minutes since we set off. With the city behind us, we traverse roads lined by thick vegetation until we finally find Sasha, who just happens to be leaning against a tree trunk with her arms crossed in front of her. She must have used that rapid aging spell of hers, because she’s also presenting herself in her adult form. She seems to take notice of us and walks over.
“I’ve been waiting, High King. Pardon, I suppose I should be calling you Yuuto, shouldn’t I?”
Of course, she knows about my human disguise.
“…If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you already knew we’d be coming here.”
“I let my future sight inform me of the fact, actually. Quite the occasion, wouldn’t you say? I thought it might be pertinent to come over and greet you personally.”
“…Really convenient spell you got there.”
I don’t know why, but this doesn’t sit well with me. Guess I should’ve just cut to the chase and used my teleportation spell after all.
“It’s convenient, certainly, but I wouldn’t equate it to omniscience. I have to admit, having my true form revealed was something I hadn’t counted on in the slightest…”
Sasha punctuates her words with a little sigh. Guess she can’t read the future in its entirety after all, then. Sasha turns her attention to Rina.
“And you must be Yuuto’s younger sister. I’m Sasha. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“I’m Rina. My brother’s told me so much about you. It’s nice to meet you too, Sasha.”
The two shake hands.
“You know she’s six years old, right?”
Rina’s eyes grow round at the revelation. Oh, right. I never told her about that aging spell I’d seen her use, did I?
“O-Oh, you kidder. I didn’t know my brother liked joking around so much. Just look at her, she’s clearly a fully-matured lady and nothing else!”
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“I’m not joking. Isn’t that right, Sasha?”
At Sasha’s nod, Rina’s whole body begins to shiver.
“K-Kids these days, huh? They sure grow up fast, don’t they…?”
“No, Rina, that’s not it. It’s actually likes this, see…”
Rina takes a deep breath once I explain the situation to her. She looks reasonably satisfied with what I just told her.
“Oh, so she just looks all grown up because of a spell. And it’s temporary. That really caught me off guard…”
“Yeah, she got me good the first time I saw her, too. She was just way too natural as an adult, you know?”
Trust me when I say that her adult form actually suits her personality much better.
“I’ll take that as a compliment. I do have one request, however – I’d like you to keep quiet about me actually being six years old.”
“Oh. Did I screw up already? Since I told Rina, I mean?”
“Well, I suppose I can forgive sharing this with family. In any case, can I assume that your coming here means you’re ready to join up with me?”
I shake my head at Sasha’s question.
“Sorry, but I’m not about to do that. I’m a High King, you know. I have my status to think about. If my people even get a whiff of me getting all nice and cozy with humans, it won’t end well.”
“…I see. I suppose being High King comes with its own troubles.”
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“Still, I’m not against the idea of helping you out for a little while, at least. There’s really no downside to doing that if humanity winds up owing me a favor.”
I’d rather not think about how bad things could get if words about my help ever gets out, but I still have my own means of brushing it all under the table.
“A temporary alliance, then? Fine, let’s just go with that. That’s not enough to meet your end of the bargain, though. I was only going to tell you about the gate if you joined me right and proper.”
“You want that Demon Hand Mirror, don’t you? You can tell me where the gate is once we get our hands on that. Once you do have it, then there’s really no reason to complain, is there?”
“Very well then. It’s a deal.”
Well, getting her to agree was definitely much easier than I thought it would be. Who’s to say, maybe she already used her future sight to witness this exchange before it ever happened. She can be pretty shrewd like that, I’d say.
“Let’s also get something out there. I don’t trust you, at least not yet. Honestly, I’m not sure I believe that you know where this gate is supposed to be. Heck, I’m not even sure it exists.”
“Hm, that’s a little shocking, I must admit. Then again, I won’t deny the angel blood running through me. You’re not entirely wrong to doubt me like this. As far as you’re concerned, I might just as well be a spy sent by the Seven Angels of the Stars to retrieve the Mad Demon Hand Mirror and ensure its destruction.”
“…Yeah, no. I actually never went that far.”
“Well then. We’ve been standing here and discussing the matter for long enough, I think. We should head to the base; time’s running out. Follow me; I’ll show you the way from here.”
Sasha takes the lead and starts walking. I notice several instances where she seems to flinch a little as if she’s powering through some sort of constant pain. This must be that wound she talked about, the one that she received when fighting Ceal. The pain’s probably still vibrating through her left leg.
“That leg. I can use my Almighty Healing to take care of it for you later, if you’d like.”
“…Quite empathetic for a High King, aren’t you? The thought’s appreciated, but I’m afraid I have to decline. This injury helps me to foster the hatred I feel towards the Seven Angels of the Stars, to maintain it.”
“…Alright then. But even if you do get that hand mirror in your custody, won’t it be much harder for you to take them down?”
“I suppose so, yes. However, though I do keep preaching that a human should be the one to land the final blow to their ranks, I’m not too keen on being the one to do so. You’ll find plenty of humans who resent the Seven Angels of the Stars.”
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“Um, excuse me! I just thought of something…”
Rina speaks up, breaking the flow of our discourse.
“There are more people out who’ve had their souls stolen, right? Around four hundred or so? Why don’t we visit a few countries and ask their leaders for help? There shouldn’t be that many people who know about all these souls being stolen, but if we manage to raise a little awareness, maybe we can bring down the number of casualties.”
“And suppose that those same leaders are in cahoots with the Seven Angels of the Stars, what then?”
Sasha’s words are enough to make Rina’s eyes go wide.
“I’ve already tried to get in contact with those people, naturally. They were evasive, as clear as mud. It’s my thinking that the Seven Angels of the Stars are working together with various officials of various countries, that they’re relying on them for some kind of cover-up. It would explain why the common masses don’t seem to be all too aware of the incidents.”
A cover-up, huh? When my demons came to me with their report, I’d already surmised that the Seven Angels were working together with people of significant political influence. I see that Sasha’s come to the same conclusion.
“B-But why would they do that…?!”
“There’s one reason in particular as to why the humans haven’t been invaded by all of demonkind just yet, and that’s the existence of the Seven Angels of the Stars. It’s entirely possible that they used that as an excuse to make them eat out of the palm of their hand. Wouldn’t you say so, High King?”
Dragging me into this now? Seriously?
“For the record, I’m not interested in invading the human territories. Not even a little.”
“Fuhuh. All that power at the tip of your fingers, and you don’t have the ambition to apply it towards world domination.”
World domination, eh? It’s certainly a conceivable goal, given my power and all, but I have no intention of using that power for something like that. Nothing changes the ultimate goal I have in mind – establishing the peaceful coexistence of humans and demons.
“Anyhow, we can’t rely on other countries for help. That means we’ll have to take matters into our own hands.”
“B-But why go so far to gather these souls…?”
“I haven’t the slightest. That’s something you’ll have to ask the Seven Angels of the Stars directly, don’t you think?”
At some point during our discussion, we already made to Sasha’s secret base.