Why I Quit Being the Demon King Chapter 23

6. Seeking the Dragon (1)

“I believe that is the case.”

“They created humans and the dragonkin as well.”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Pardon?”

“Why make them in such a way?”

“Well, I don’t know that.”

“You said you’ve seen it?”

“Do I look like I’m acquainted with a deity to you? I merely caught a glimpse from a distance.”

“Then stop pretending like you know.”

“It’s unjust! My Lord! When did I ever pretend to know?”

“Enough of that, just find out who our next target is. We need to find the scales of the Blue Dragon.”

“As expected, you prioritize Yuilgeum-nim’s task as the most important.”

“Of course. A patron’s wishes are sacred.”

“Holispruce. After Holycider, the closest D-rank warrior family near Joriks Castle.”

“Spruces, as in the family of evergreen trees.”

“Yes.”

“What kind of place is it?”

“Holispruce is situated by Laguna Lake. It’s a family that has been fishing for generations along the lakeshore.”

“Fishing? Then they must not be that wealthy. Can they really afford to slay a dragon with just that?”

“Fishing varies by family. The seafood from Laguna Lake is said to be worth a year’s budget for a nation. Holispruce controls one-tenth of Laguna Lake.”

“So you’re saying they’re fishermen who earn a tenth of a nation’s budget?”

“Not that they make all of that money, but in any case, they are incredibly wealthy.”

Deus folded his arms.

“Is being a warrior such a lucrative job?”

“It’s the other way around. For someone with the capability of a warrior, making money is hardly a big deal.”

“But he’s poor.”

Deus gestured towards Zieke who was working in a shop.

“Not every warrior can be wealthy.”

“There’s something unsatisfying about that. The kid is diligent and works well, so why would he be poor?”

“Raising a warrior costs a lot of money.”

“Weren’t they supported by the Sovereign Court?”

“That’s for warriors of at least B-rank or higher.”

“To become B-rank, you need money again, right?”

“Indeed.”

“So if you’re poor, you can’t become a warrior?”

“Scholarships exist to prevent that from happening, but usually, warriors born into poor families can’t focus solely on school, so their grades suffer.”

“It’s a mess.”

“It’s good for us.”

“Don’t subtly include me in this. I’ve quit being the Demon King.”

“Then let’s set off for the Holispruce family tomorrow. You’ve hired the staff, haven’t you?”

“Of course.”

“We have to earnestly make money. It would be embarrassing if we can’t make more money than a fisherman warrior with a side job, right?”

“Leave it to me.”

The next morning, the trio set off on horses.

However, after a full two days of travel, when they arrived at the Holispruce family estate, they were unable to acquire any dragon scales.

As they were about to return empty-handed, Deus’s mood soured.

“This foolish thing, what kind of a third-rate family do you fetch as a candidate?”

“I’ve been wronged. They’re not third-rate. They’re a D-rank warrior family.”

“Without a single dragon scale, they’re third-rate.”

“It’s more likely that they have one concealed.”

“How much will you bet?”

“Pardon?”

“You said they’re hiding it? How much will you bet that they have dragon scales? Bet a thousand gold coins.”

“Why is the conversation suddenly heading this way?”

“Tonight, we’ll break in and search. What if we don’t find any?”

Alex’s eyes shook violently.

“So…”

“Are you deaf? Will you bet a thousand gold coins?”

“Betting is not the right thing to do.”

“Yes, yes, yes. Then consider it a bet for a thousand gold coins.”

“If we find it, will you give me a thousand gold coins too?”

“Earn it yourself. I don’t have money anymore.”

“That’s not fair.”

“Is there anything like fairness between a master and a servant?”

Deus suddenly looked at Zieke who was walking alongside Alex.

His face was still naïve.

“Zieke.”

“Yes, Deus-nim.”

“Do I seem kind or evil to you?”

“May I answer honestly?”

“Speak.”

“An evildoer… to an extent. Of course, you’ve been kind to me in many ways…”

Alex intervened.

“An evildoer, for sure. Even one without any concern for his subordinates.”

“That so?”

Zieke responded again.

“Once again, I have no complaints because you’ve shown me much kindness.”

“Well, leave it at that… So, a sudden thought. If I needed dragon scales, what would I do?”

“We’d go around buying them,” Zieke replied.

Deus shook his head.

“That’s a special case because I’m commissioned by Yuilgeum. Usually, I wouldn’t bother with such troublesome tasks.” Alex blurted out.

“Well, if I needed dragon scales, I’d simply kill and take them. Isn’t that common sense?”

“Exactly. If they’re strong, trick them and stab them in the back. If weak, kill and take their scales. That’s standard.”

Deus’s comment was obviously intended to be humorous, but Zieke looked bewildered by the notion.

“But what if some annoying non-aggression treaty gets in the way?”

“You’d have to do it sneakily.”

“Sneakiness won’t prevent you from being caught.”

Alex’s expression stiffened.

“My Lord, that sounds rather serious.”

Deus turned to Zieke again.

“What would you do?”

“If it’s something that shouldn’t be done, then I wouldn’t do it.”

“That’s right. You’re a warrior. What about me then?”

“…You’ll make it possible to do, by whatever means necessary.”

“Yeah, by any means.”

Deus’s lips curved into a slight smile, seemingly pleased with the answer.

“Butler.”

“Yes, my Lord.”

“Tonight, we’ll sneak into Holispruce.”

“Yes.”

“The scales must be there; even if they’re from that last blue dragon.”

“I’ll look into it.”

“It doesn’t matter whose they are. We’ll sell them for a good price to Yuilgeum.”

The Holispruce family mansion was situated by the lakeshore of Laguna Lake.

If the castles nearby were designed around the lake view, then the Holispruce estate almost dipped its toes into the waters.

Half of its walls were submerged, forming a small dock.

On that dock were a series of robust large and small fishing boats, enjoying the nighttime respite.

“Lord Deus, I have a minor question.”

Zieke raised his hand to speak.

“What is it?”

“Earlier, you said you would sneak in, but aren’t we conspicuously using the main entrance?”

Indeed, Deus was confidently striding towards the main gate.

Alex had already gone ahead to Holispruce Castle to gather information, leaving Zieke alone with Deus.

“What’s the definition of sneaking?”

“To enter unnoticed, right?”

“So we’re moving quietly, aren’t we?”

Just then, two men holding poles walked toward them from the front.

Judging by their tree-trunk-sized forearms, they seemed to be fishermen, taking turns patrolling to protect the boats.

Zieke, anxious and sweating profusely at the possibility that these fishermen might react to their sneaky appearance, was taken aback when the fishermen didn’t even seem to see them.

After prodding the entrance bushes with their poles, they continued their patrol.

“You must have cast a spell!”

Astonished, Zieke looked at Deus who was by now already deep within the gate perimeter.

Deus had proceeded without him.

Zieke hurried to catch up to Deus who appeared to leisurely stroll along the grounds of the estate as if out for a nocturnal walk.

The Holispruce family, truly a local magnate, were leading a king’s life based on the vast resources of Laguna Lake.

“Did your family ever live so lavishly?”

Zieke forced a laugh.

“There’s a legendary tale that’s been passed down, but… as far as my grandfather can remember, we’ve always been poor.”

“Then it must be a lack of effort.”

“Perhaps. My grandfather and father both had a low rank as warriors.”

“So is this rank like a test you take?”

“There are tests, and the primary step is warrior university. Most of the skills and knowledge required for a warrior are learned there.”

“The warrior school has a university too?”

“Yes. I will ensure my siblings graduate from university.”

“No wonder you’re always struggling.”

“I’m living a diligent life.”

Watching Zieke laugh, Deus felt an unwarranted pang of guilt stirring in one corner of his chest.

He was using such a good-natured person to his advantage.

They reached the far end of the wharf.

In the pitch-dark night, a small lighthouse that reeked of oil stood as a beacon on the black lake.

The area clearly used oil as fuel for the fire, oil that bubbled up from the earth like a spring, was foul-smelling and inedible, and was only good for fueling flames.

“It doesn’t seem there’s a dragon around?”

After a thorough look around the large building, Zieke commented.

“Maybe they’ve already disassembled it and hidden it somewhere deep.”

Either way, it would not be easy to find it.

Deus leaned on the rail at the end of the dock, gazing out at the lake.

The massive black water writhed as if alive, and just looking at it was somehow satisfying, indicating that the color of the blood coursing through his veins must be similar.

“Kid.”

“Yes, Lord Deus.”

“Would you regret what I’m doing now, even if it seems like the deed of a villain? You’re a warrior, after all.”

At the question, Zieke flinched.

Selling weapons or slaying dragons, simply visiting warrior families to buy their dragon scales weren’t necessarily crimes, regardless of how they were phrased.

But this time was clearly different.

They were infiltrating a warrior family to steal dragon scales.

Even at a glance, it was theft, and considering the near-sacrosanct status of warrior families, it bordered on a serious offense.

Zieke was only fourteen.

Not that young, but also not an age to carry such heavy responsibility.

To be honest, Deus had asked half-jokingly.

However, Zieke’s expression, as he faced the evening lake breeze, was not that of a child.

“If it will help me raise my younger siblings well, even if it means going to hell, it doesn’t bother me.”

Deus turned to look at Zieke.

“Well, let’s go to hell, then. Alex!”

“Yes, my Lord!”

Alex’s shadow materialized out of the darkness, taking shape before their eyes.

“Did you find it?”

“Yes, it’s certainly there.”

“Right? You owe me a thousand gold coins.”

“Ha… Ha. It wasn’t a valid bet. You should know the basic rules of a…”

“Forget the basics. Start now.”

“Yes, sir.”

Alex traced a symbol with his hands, the spell already cast despite his half-hearted attitude.

A barrier formed, encircling the trio, and immediately afterward, Deus dived from the dock into the lake.

A soap bubble-like transparent field pulled both Zieke and Alex into the water.

Thanks to the barrier, they could breathe underwater just as on land.



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