「Though it sounds like a normal description but, if you look at it from a different perspective then――well, it does seem interesting」
「...I see, there are things like this too huh. The demon lord title itself may not have spread but in this situation, it’s hard to say that it’s off the mark and ignore it completely either」
「It’s troublesome but our opponent is the product of the words and thoughts of people after all. Taking into account the fact that the people in the art city like to use grand words so making a decision is that much harder this time around」
Shaw replied with a shrug to Merea’s confusion. For a short while after that, Merea turned his gaze towards the empty plate in front of him and became silent.
After showing that thinking gesture for a short while, he finally raised his head.
「...By the way, is there any other information attached to that situation?」
Hearing Merea’s question, Shaw turned his head from side to side seemingly trying to put the information in order.
「That’s right...for the most part, the clear information was――, Ah―...」
「Did you remember something?」
Merea asked in a slow tone as he tilted his head to the side.
「No, this is more of speculation than actual information so I would rather not put it out there」
「It’s fine, just tell us. As a proper piece of information. As far as the accuracy or authenticity of that information goes, members of〈Knowledge〉or me, myself, will definitely help out」
「――If that’s the case」
Shaw was afraid that he might end up directing the thoughts of the demon lords by putting out such speculation as information. Although he understood that, that was just speculation but a person who was slightly more gullible might just end up believing that information.
As a professional merchant, Shaw was intimately familiar with such speculative information and due to his nature, he would keep a doubtful heart on the matter no matter what the situation would be but there was no guarantee that others could do the same.
Merea felt that concern as well. Having guessed Shaw’s intentions, he still dared to say, 『whether we we believe it or not is above scrutiny at this point』. Those words made the line for information for the demon lords quite clear.
Shaw noticed Merea’s detailed attention to the issue and thought to himself,
――He’s unexpectedly capable even on this point. ...No, is it unintentional?
Thinking so, Shaw felt a sense of admiration. He, himself, was rather surprised about the fact that he couldn’t decide on whether intentions were intentional or unintentional.
――Not having me get hold of the authenticity of that matter is also quite appropriate as my superior.
As far as Shaw was concerned, that ready wit of Merea’s was something he was quite fond of. Although he might be misunderstood often since he managed to become the head of a trading firm at quite the young age but he didn’t hate the idea of working under someone else. It’s just that, he had no intentions of working for someone who didn’t have the capability to escape from the palm of his hand.
「Well then, this is also a rumor but――」
Having looked back at the current situation, Shaw felt some amusement at the thought of it but he quickly cut off that line of thought. The priority would be the presentation of the requested information.
「There’s a rumour that the fanatics of〈Saisalis Religious Nation〉are mixing into the nobles visiting Virgilia in order to carry out an expedition」
Merea ruminated about the name that Shaw had just brought out. It was a name he felt he had heard somewhere before.
After a few seconds, he vaguely recalled. It was around the time of the escape from the sacred mountain.
「I had mentioned it a little when we were on Lindholm sacred mountain but it’s the country that’s been chasing after me. It’s a city state with the pope of the religion of Saisalis at the very top」
Shaw’s tone showed obvious disgust when he mentioned the religion of Saisalis. Having noticed that clearly, Merea asked further.
「By the way, what’s the religion of Saisalis?」
「It’s an extremely normal, monotheism that can be found anywhere. It’s been present for quite a long time but recently, it’s started to change in rather unpleasant ways」
「What do you mean by that?」
「For one part, the god and the pope have practically the same identity」
Shaw suddenly laughed and continued.
「In the war era in the past, Saisalis had taken some really nice measures in order to maintain people’s ethics. With their doctrine being fairly tolerant, there were almost no situations where they attacked other religions. There were no situations where the doctrine would change by being tied to the locality in strange ways and if we were to put it in a particular way then at most it was on the lines of, 『If you don’t have anything to believe in then rely on this』 would be how they have always operated」
「It would definitely have less strength as a support compared to other religions with stronger doctrines but with the era being as it was, that point of making sure no one forgot those obvious ethics would have definitely helped a lot. Actually, if the religion of Saisalis wasn’t there then I feel that history itself would have changed」
Shaw who had been talking about that point suddenly had a serious expression on his face.
「That much? I’m not very familiar with the situation but I do feel like I can somehow understand the feeling that would well up in people’s hearts in such a situation」
「Haha. Well, 『the great people in the past said things like this. So let’s try believing in those words』 is more or less what it comes down to. It’s people’s freedom until that point. However――」
Shaw returned to the topic.
「I said so earlier as well but the religion of Saisalis is in the process of changing into something unpleasant. In the first place, it’s hard to think that the original religion of Saisalis would end up with something like the〈Saisalis Religious Nation〉. That’s not an original method of theirs. It’s just wrong to set foot in a place and create a holy land like religious nation」
Merea felt an unusually hot feeling from Shaw’s words. He felt like there might be some connection to Shaw’s obvious disgust with the current religion of Saisalis.
「Didn’t the believers oppose when they wanted to create a religious nation?」
「Several of them might have done so. However, the period for making the religious nation was perfect. ――It’s a 『turning point』. At the time that the upheaval of the battle between the vile demon lords of old and heroes was about to end, at the time when there was a temporary peace. In that era, someone did it」
Merea felt like he had heard the talk of that turning point several times already. It’s the talk he had heard from Flander quite a bit in the past. However, in recent times, since they all had their hands full with the matters of the current era, so they didn’t have much time to turn their attention to such matters.
「If the era stays peaceful then the number of people relying on the religion of Saisalis would reduce so, the people who thought that the peaceful era would continue just thought along the lines of, 『Someone is doing something strange』. ...There was also the fact that the doctrine was rather lax. The fact that the doctrine was lax could also be attributed to people not having any strong connections to it as well」
「If we talk about it specifically then it’s basically something along the lines of, do whatever you want, right?」
While entwining his arms together, Merea breathed a sigh.
「That’s true. Originally, it’s very existence was something that was considered negative. If the era was a war era then there might be a lot of people who would have a lot of problems with the religion of Saisalis setting up something like a country. That is exactly what our current era is」
「However, the fact that Saisalis religious country is still existing means that――」
「Yes, there was someone who used that foundation of theirs to cause a rebirth and recreate the religion of Saisalis. Even if we consider it impossible for the founder to be the current pope, time wise but it’s possible that either one of the descendants of the founding pope or someone closely related to them is the one holding the reins on the current situation」
Shaw smiled bitterly and added, 『it’s a rather common story of heritage』. Hearing that, Merea took a moment to organize the information in this mind. After a short while had passed, he spoke up again with a bitter expression.
「It’s rather complicated isn’t it? Even if the name is the same, it feels like the meaning of the name demon lord has just gone through it’s own transition to whatever could be considered as convenient」
「The fact that various things happened would be because of that turning point, righ? ...But, they really have done crazy things. I wonder if that pope, that Shaw mention, is trying to reach the point of at the same level as god?」
「I’m sure that is strictly protected. The pope himself doesn’t come out in public often so his guard is up pretty high. If they had created the Saisalis religious nation in order to protect themselves then that family can be said to have frightening foresight――」
It was right after that had been said. Merea, who had been listening intently so far, stiffened with his mouth half open. He seemed to have noticed something suddenly and he looked to be organizing his thoughts in a hurry.
That caught his attention. Since he believed in Shaw, he once again thought deeply on that information. Shaw as well, had stiffened up. Both of them seemed to have noticed something.
「Assuming they really did have frightening foresight and if they had created Saisalis religious nation in order to protect themselves then――」
They both realised that, 『that』 thought they had just come up with was nothing more than speculation. However, if they were to look at it as a whole once again, there was still a point that caught their attention.
It’s a speculation, it’s a speculation but――
「With that frightening foresight, knowing that an era where demon lords (heroes) would be hunted would definitely come up, a demon lord or a hero founded Saisalis religious nation in order to protect themselves. Though that’s also one possible line of thought but....I suppose I’m thinking too much into it」
「No, oddly enough, I had the same thought――」
Shaw seemed to be deep in thought with his hand on his chin.
「――However, it seems like it would be better to note that, 『it’s a guess based on a convenient interpretation』」
Shaw added that in the end.
「That’s true. Since the current era is one where demon lords are hunted so we’re able to think this way. It could simply be that they just wanted to fill their pockets」
「Yes. Though, there is still that information that they’ve been sighted moving towards the art city so there’s a need for us to investigate it properly some day」
「It’s quite amazing that those merchants managed to realise that they were believers of the religion of Saisalis」
「There is a fairly obvious mark on the zealots of Saisalis who are part of the rebirthed religious country」
「Hmm? What mark?」
「There’s a mark that they have on the nape of their neck. A mark symbolising a human 『eye』. It’s quite the decoration」
「I see. We should keep that in mind when we’re on our way to the art city as well」
「...Actually, at some point it seems to have changed into us going to the art city but Merea, isn’t it just you itching to go and selfishly deciding?」
Merea’s shoulders jumped and his body stiffened. Next to Merea, on his left, Marisa stared at him with a sharp gaze.
「Merea-sama? I hope you’re not thinking something along the lines of, 『I can go to the art city and at least temporarily get away from that mountain of paperwork』, right?」
「Th, there’s no way I’m thinking something like that」
「Re, really, really. Bu, but you know? Everyone is busy and we finally have some information as well. We don’t have any other information like that either and it’s not like it’s very far away either. Not to mention, as the head of〈Sword (Emery)〉it’s about time I did some work as well! ...something like that?」
Merea timidly looked towards Marisa and found her looking at him with an appraising gaze. Marisa turned her gaze away from Merea for a moment and looked at the demon lords surrounding the dinner table.
In those eyes, there was a look of, 『if you have anything else say it clearly』 prompting them.
However, no one spoke up in response to her gaze. Confirming that there were no replied, Marisa finally dropped her neat appearance and breathed a soft sigh before turning back towards Merea.
「Haa. ...Understood. Let us look at the situation and return. However, there is information on unrest in that region as well so, we shall go with several people as a group. I, of course, will be tagging along as well. In that way, we’ll be able to continue your studies on the way」
「The other members would be――well, since Merea-sama is the head, Merea-sama should be the one to choose. Once Merea-sama makes a choice and if there are any corrections then I’ll point it out」
「Huh? I’m the head right? Aren’t I being worked like an underling instead?」
「Have you already decided on an entourage that would only nod to all of your decisions, I wonder?」
「I’m sorry, please help me decide as I’m still scared of making such decisions alone」
「Yes, with pleasure」
Marisa replied with a bewitching smile. With a flowing motion, she took hold Merea’s left hand and spoke.
「However, when the time comes, I shall obey your orders with all my heart. If you tell me to die, then I have the resolve to kill myself. In addition, if you are on the verge of death then I will selfishly take action even if you haven’t ordered anything」
「That sort of situation will not come up and I’ll never give such an order. Also, I won’t allow anyone to die protecting me」
Marisa stared blankly at Merea who spoke such stubborn words. Merea’s eyes had a bright will in them and earnestly looked right into Marisa’s eyes. There was an unmistakable force in that gaze.
「Fufu――It was just a joke」
Saying that, Marisa looked down after a while. She moved her hand from Merea’s grasp and slowly stood up.
「So, should we consider the dinner party over with, with this?」
「Yeah, that’s fine. I’ll think about the matter of the art city and let you know soon」
「By your wish. ――Okay, please clear out your own plates and return them to their original places. The members of〈Sword (Emery)〉should note that they might be part of the expedition to the art city so you should make any and all preparations required as soon as possible」
Marisa clapped twice, causing the sound to resound in the dining hall. With the sound as the signal, the demon lords stood up with their plates in hand.
「Haha, I always think about this but we’re like a really large family aren’t we? With the place as it is, it feels like servants would come out and finish up all the work in a flash but in the end we end up doing it all ourselves」
「I’m fine with doing Merea-sama’s portion as well but you are so hopelessly bad at housework that I’m forced to let you do this as training」
「...By the way, how many plates have I broken so far…?」
「Ten plates in seven days. It’s gradually becoming lower as time passes though but the first day was especially bad wasn’t it? I think it’s quite an improvement with just the fact that you’ve stopped punching through plates with your thumb」
「My allowance gets hurt quite a bit with every plate…」
「If you have any objections then please direct them towards〈Wallet (Lister)〉」
「Since it’s completely my fault so I have no right to complain do I?」
Merea slumped back into his chair with an overwhelmed air and looked up at the ceiling. Marisa looked at that figure and breathed a short sigh.
「I will watch over you today as well so let us practice again」
「I’ll request that of you」
However, in the end, she looked at Merea with a gentle gaze as if she were an older sister watching over her younger brother.