Why I Quit Being the Demon King Chapter 27

7. 결심하다: Deciding on a Duel (1)

Deus.

It was an irksome name.

Probably a grand law meant to signify fate.

Deus lifted his head from the pillow to look at Alex, who was giving a faint smile. In annoyance, he threw the pillow at his butler’s face.

“Enough, go and open the store.”

“Will you handle the dragon affair personally then, Master?”

Before he could affirm, Deus realized his knowledge about dragons was too scant.

Hesitating, he backtracked on his statement.

“Fine. I’ll look after the store, so you go find some clues.”

“Understood.”

“Start with those fungal molds.”

“I’ve brought Kero for that very reason. His keen sense of smell is capable of detecting scents from the other side of a star.”

After Alex departed, Deus took his place behind the counter.

Zeke, who had arrived early in the morning, had completed all opening preparations, from cleaning to stocking—meticulous in every job.

If we ranked by part-time work ability, not skills like swordsmanship or magic, he would surpass grade ‘D’ and remain unparalleled.

Around 9 a.m., other employees arrived.

They greeted Deus and began readying for customers in their respective areas.

With four staff members including Zeke at work, there wasn’t much for Deus to do.

Observing the growing bustle in the store, he sneakily stepped out to lean on a swinging armchair.

Basking in the sun, his body felt warmed through.

As drowsiness crept in, Deus surrendered his consciousness to the swaying chair.

He dozed, not sure for how long, until he sensed someone’s presence. It could’ve been that very presence that woke him.

“Lord Deus.”

It was Zeke.

“What?”

“There’s a transaction requiring your approval. It’s a sizable deal of 10 gold, which is difficult for us to process.”

By the standards Deus was accustomed to, 10 gold was a hefty sum—equivalent to the annual income of the upper class within the city walls. It was an enormous amount for a single transaction.

Deus waved it off.

“Handle it. You’re more than a mere part-timer—you’re a colleague, right?”

“Are you sure?”

Utterly unperturbed by the note, Deus sent Zeke back into the store with a nod.

“Colleague, huh…”

Deus repeated the word to himself, then looked up at the sky.

Soon, Zeke returned to present a receipt for confirmation.

“Just handle it.”

Resigned to his employer’s nonchalance, Zeke shrugged.

“You really are ill-suited for this, Lord Deus.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You’ve felt it all along—running a weapons shop doesn’t interest you.”

“It’s not like I have to be interested, right? I’m making good money.”

“True, but…”

“You too, right? You’re not doing this part-time job because you love it, are you? Isn’t what you really want to do… heroic stuff?”

Zeke forced an uncomfortable laugh, scratching his head.

“Well, I am a hero after all.”

“Look, I won’t give you the typical spiel about returning to school. You’ve got your reasons for living this way, think of it as debuting ahead of the rest. You won’t just end at journeymanship if you’re with me.”

“I know.”

“But as a hero, do you have a lot to do? That girl said so yesterday, didn’t she? Heroes shouldn’t be poor.”

“We fend off monsters attacking villages, escort travelers and merchants, sometimes even make deliveries on their behalf.”

“So you’re just runners with a fancy title ‘hero,’ aren’t you?”

“Is that so?”

“Do you want to get into that line of work later?”

“Well, yeah…”

“Fine, you’ll get into it eventually. We’ll nurture you up to at least a ‘B’ rank. That suits the work I need done perfectly.”

“What work… Oh, never mind. Please forget I asked.”

“Curious about what I plan to do?”

“Frankly, yes. To me, it seems you’re more than qualified to be a colleague to a ‘D’ grade hero. Yet you choose to stay with me, so it seems like you have some other plan in mind.”

“What do you think I really want?”

“I’m not sure.”

Deus smiled.

“Neither do I, man. Now go back to work.”

Zeke nodded awkwardly and returned to the store.

Alex came back after just two hours.

“You’re back already? If you don’t want to do it, you can quit.”

“That’s not it.”

“Then you mean to say you’ve already found a clue?”

“Actually, I have.”

“Is it because you’re exceptional, or is the situation that obvious?”

Alex just smiled, not answering.

“Come on then, report.”

“Yes, Master. First, have a look at this.” He opened a small jar that had been hanging from Cerberus’s neck.

“It’s a mushroom.”

“Yes.”

“Why a mushroom?”

“When mycelium grows, it turns into this kind of mushroom.”

“I don’t need a botany lecture. So, you’re saying this mushroom grew from the armpit of a dragon?”

“In summary, yes.”

“And why did you bring it? You’re not planning to eat it from your armpit, right? Forget it. Even you’ll get sick.”

“Do you want me to eat it?”

“So what did you find that brought you back so quickly?”

“You don’t recognize this mushroom?”

“Mushroom of the Dragon’s Armpit, wasn’t it?”

“Look closely.”

“I don’t particularly want to inspect mushrooms from someone’s armpit.”

“It’s not collected from a dragon! We traced the mycelium and found mushrooms of the same species.”

“And how am I supposed to know that?”

Alex sighed at his lord’s lack of cooperation and continued.

“This mushroom is named Infernal Jester.”

“It doesn’t look that menacing, though?”

“It’s not infernal in that sense. It literally grows in the underworld.”

“As in mushrooms from the demon realm?”

“Yes.”

Deus chilled for a moment.

“So, the mycelium that’s making dragons go mad… It’s an object from the demon realm?”

“Correct.”

“Is there something particularly distinct about this mycelium for realms like hell or heaven to be discernible?”

“That’s why I’m asking you to take a closer look.”

Deus reached out, and the mushroom levitated.

This was an ability called Demon Spirit Energy, characteristic of demon kings.

“Da-rosch.”

Three syllables slipped from Deus’s mouth.

“That twisted lizard bastard.”

Darosh was one of the seven demon dukes, a witch doctor with a lizard’s head skilled in handling plants and animals, particularly using venom from his body as a weapon.

Deus crossed his arms.

Things were taking a weird turn.

The one who planted the mycelium was unknown, but the mycelium itself seemed to originate from the demon realm.

To blatantly leave a name imprinted on the mycelium—it could be a trap, but given Darosh’s usual antics, it was likely his handiwork.

If the mycelium causing the dragons to rage was created by Darosh, one of the demon realm’s seven dukes…

“Crap, so the demon realm’s the culprit, huh? Trying to drive a wedge between dragons and humans?”

Alex scratched his cheek.

“Should we cover it up?”

“Would it really be that easy?”

“If we do our best, it might be fortunate that Eulyum hasn’t noticed yet.”

“That fox, she knows. She’s just telling us to solve it ourselves.”

Hurled by Deus, the mushroom plummeted to the ground.

“In the end, we’re the culprits. Making dragons go crazy and unleashing them on the human world. Then the humans go on a hunt, skin them alive…”

Alex inspected the mushroom again.

“These inscriptions are molecularly implanted. It’d be difficult for anyone else to forge.”

“Since when do you have to label the poison you make?”

“It’s a matter of pride.”

Deus sighed deeply.

“This is why you lose to humans every single day.”

He sank deeper into the chair’s backrest, feeling something uncomfortable.

“But why… Why do all this?”

“Do you mean why make the mushroom?”

“No, why use the mycelium to drive dragons to madness?”

“Well… Didn’t you say earlier? To break the peace treaty between humans and dragons.”

“But why leave something like a name tag?”

“It’s a habit of Darosh’s.”

“That doesn’t make sense. Whoever concocted this must have brains no bigger than an amoeba. Nothing but wriggling around all day, chomping down other cells.”

“It might seem counterintuitive, but the evidence is too clear; it’s hard to doubt.”

“Eulyum ought to know who Darosh is. You seem to recognize him.”

“Probably. For 666 centuries, he’s been fighting humans and dragons on the front lines.”

“Then she should recognize a sign like this, and Eulyum must’ve noticed the mycelium belongs to Darosh by now.”

“Not necessarily. Demon realm symbols might be clear to us, but not necessarily to humans and dragons.”

“It might not be wise to be so presumptuous about a dragon god.”

“Apologies. That was rash of me.”

Deep in thought, Deus frowned and crossed his arms, staying silent for a long time.

Witnessing Deus’s somber expression, Alex felt a surge of emotion.

‘He’s grown so splendidly, why would he renounce his dream of world domination?’

A stray thought flickered through Alex’s mind.

Maybe!

He hasn’t truly relinquished being the Demon King.

Is he masking his true intentions for a much grander dream?

A gamble that would shake all realms—mortal, demon, and dragon alike.

Could it be that he intends to grasp the whole world at once?

Was the meeting with Eulyum truly by chance?

Was it coincidence that he got embroiled in the dragons’ affairs, met the genuine golden dragon by chance, and coincidentally resolved their request?

Even this incident seemed to involve heroes of grade ‘D’.

Yes!

My lord must have sensed something brewing in the demon realm and started a massive gamble.

Could it be… Lord unwittingly instructed Darosh to scatter poison among the dragons…? It couldn’t be the lord!

‘Am I ruining his plans?’

Reaching this troubling thought, Alex felt a shiver down his spine.

“Lord!”

“What?”

“I apologize.”

Alex kneeled and lowered his head in a solemn act of contrition.

Deus, flustered by the sudden earnest apology, asked, “For what? Time for your meds? Did you have another outburst?”

“I was short-sighted, mere foolishness unbefitting of a duke’s stature.”

“I know. That’s why I dismissed you.”

“I’ll take care of this. I’ll cover it up, even if it costs me my life.”

“You’ve figured something out, huh?”

“Yes, lord.”

Deus exchanged the arm he’d been propped on and observed the back of Alex’s head.

‘How did this bastard catch on?’

A simple inquiry would reveal it, but pride wouldn’t allow it. Could he truly admit to not knowing what his subordinate had figured out?

Slowly, Deus nodded.

“Taken you this long to catch on; you truly are dense.”

“It’s an honor.”



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