Why I Quit Being the Demon King Chapter 28

7. 결투를 결심하다 (2)

“We need to erase any traces of Darosh. I’ll need to investigate a bit more to understand what’s happening, but at the very least, we can’t leave any evidence that we’re involved.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll stake my life on ensuring that your will is done, my lord.”

Deus furrowed his brow at Alex.

Just what kind of card is that guy holding?

He was curious.

The way he speaks so earnestly… it seems it’s no trivial matter…

Could it be that Darosh has colluded with humans?

Watching Alex disappear into another dimension, Deus tilted his head and scratched it.

Thinking too hard about unnecessary things made him suddenly feel exhausted.

“Zeke!”

On his way out of the inner chamber towards the shop, he called out the name loudly.

“Yes, Lord Deus!”

“Get ready to go out.”

“To where may I ask?”

“The Hero Management Office.”

“What?”

“Hurry up!”

“Yes.”

Zeke, who was taking off his apron, cocked his head in confusion.

“Don’t forget your equipment.”

In the corridor between the inner chamber and the store, Zeke’s armor lay scattered.

At Deus’s command, Zeke hastily put on his shield, sword, and gauntlets.

As soon as he equipped all three pieces of armor, Zeke felt a wave of dizziness.

The shield, Doomsragoon, and the gauntlet, Doomsgauntlet, were crafted using dragon scales and the demonic realm’s technology.

The sword, Doomsrhino, in contrast, was made from the beast of the demon world called Rhino by dwarves who were proficient in mining.

All deeply related to the demon world, they seemed to negatively affect Zeke, a human.

But, Zeke was no ordinary human; he was a hero.

Instead, the power of the demon world caused a surge of rebellious spirit within him, filling him with courage.

Merely wearing the gear made him feel imbued with a power that transformed him.

“Indeed, this is truly magical armor.”

Zeke clenched his fist. The gauntlet’s sharp spikes emitted a ferocious blue light.

“Not cheap at all. Even just that is impressive enough. Let’s go, to register as a hero.”

Hero-related affairs were essentially under the jurisdiction of the Sanctum Office.

Heroes were, in essence, a gift from the gods.

The laypeople had no right to involve themselves in such matters. It was only natural for the holy representatives to oversee all related tasks.

“But why are we suddenly going to the Hero Management Office?”

With the shield slung over like a bag and the sword belted at his waist, Zeke looked quite alien to the eyes of the town’s people.

Occasional acquaintances couldn’t help but snicker.

“We need to get registered.”

“Is that an order?”

“Am I supposed to do it?”

“But we don’t have a rank yet…”

“Can’t we get tested?”

“That would cost a fortune if it’s done privately.”

“How much?”

“Five gold coins.”

“That much?”

“My wages are two silver coins a month. Five gold coins would be two years’ salary.”

“Is that all they pay you? That stingy bastard Alex.”

“No! He pays plenty.

I used to earn only half of that in a hotel. Although I used to fill in the gaps with tips… Now, I also make money from the night market stalls, so I’m earning enough.”

“Don’t you need to send your siblings to school?”

“Sometimes I get a bonus when I come back from an adventure. I have enough money now.”

“There’s no such thing as ‘enough’ when it comes to money. The more, the better. Anyway, I’ll cover the assessment fee, so don’t worry.”

“Really… thank you.”

“You don’t need to thank me. I’m doing it because it amuses me.”

The Hero Management Office was attached to the eastern side of Joerik’s central temple.

Stopping at the entrance, he looked up. The inscription on the plaque read:

-Humanity has survived on the sacrifices of heroes.

That short phrase aptly reflected the status of heroes in humanity.

“Sacrifice.”

Deus uttered the word shortly, and Zeke’s expression hardened.

“That’s what purebloods exist for.”

“Are you going to join the war with the demon world when it breaks out?”

“Yes.”

“But you’re a class F.”

Zeke scratched his head.

“I might not be of much help.”

Deus mentally counted the days. If he hadn’t quit being the Demon King, a war would have been scheduled in 20 years.

In the war between the demon world and the human world, which occurred once every 100 years, the survival rate for heroes was less than 1 percent.

Frontline heroes died without fail – all one hundred of them.

By then, Zeke would be in his mid-thirties.

“Aren’t you a bit too young to die?”

“Thoughts on death are the same no matter the age. Even an 80-year-old grandfather would feel regret when his time comes.”

“Is that so?”

Leaving behind a nonchalant remark, Deus stepped into Joerik’s Hero Management Office.

In Joerik’s castle, not everyone would recognize Zeke’s face, but at least in the Hero Management Office, he was known.

As he appeared, all eyes were on him.

But the respect that should be present was barely felt.

In summary, there was a bit of disdain and bureaucratic attitude.

That was roughly the world’s view of the hero’s families who, for generations, had only achieved the rank of thieves.

-Humanity has survived on the sacrifices of heroes.

Ironically, the very slogan they proclaimed came with little to no respect.

Deus approached an office worker.

“We’d like to register as a hero.”

“Please take a number and wait.”

The woman pointed with her finger towards the entrance, where there was a panel with sequential numbers listed.

Zeke pulled out a wooden tag with the number 46 from the board.

Deus looked around once more. There were quite a few people in the office besides themselves.

About half of them were clients.

From prosperous merchants to nobles, they were receiving a cordial welcome on the other side of the office partitions.

Occasionally, there were poor clients as well, so wooden chairs were provided for them.

Deus asked Zeke, who had come beside him.

“Do they discriminate even among clients?”

“The inside area is reserved for nobles. Commoners can’t be expected to see to matters in the same space, after all.”

Opposite the clients’ office was a space for heroes and their companions.

It too was fairly bustling, with groups of heroes looking for work.

Purebloods were rare, but there were quite a few half-bloods who had inherited the blood of heroes.

“Blood.”

Leaning back in the chair as he waited for his turn, Deus muttered.

“Sorry?”

Zeke sat up straight, resting his hands on his knees, gazing back at Deus with the proper posture of a hero.

“Having a high degree of pureblood doesn’t necessarily mean you’re good, right?”

Zeke was taken aback, not expecting to answer, his gaze stolen by a man.

Deus turned to look in the same direction. The man stood over two meters tall, with a huge net slung over his back.

Unlike the chilly reception on this side, the office workers attending to him were all smiley and amiable.

“Macont. He’s said to be the strongest man around Joerik. He’s not a pure-blooded hero, so no hero rank, but rumors say he’s close to a G grade.”

“Didn’t they say Hollyoak was A grade?”

“It’s actually Lexia’s father who’s the A-grade hero. Lexia hasn’t received her rank yet.”

“She might drop down a grade.”

“If it’s her, she’ll surely receive an A-grade or higher. She excelled in every aspect: swordsmanship, magic, horsemanship, monster knowledge, theology, art, natural science, literature, manners, and so on.”

“Natural science? Literature? Manners? Theology? What’s all that about?”

“They’re the subjects taught at the Hero School.”

“What does that have to do with the war against the Demon King?”

“Even I’m not sure…. They say we must learn them, so we learn.”

“Who says you must learn them? The gods?”

Deus curled his lip.

“Number 46, adventurer!”

Their conversation was interrupted by a call from the counter.

Deus got up from the sofa.

“Looks like things are twisted on our end too.”

“Sir?”

“Let’s go. It’s time for registration, hero.”

With an awkward face, Zeke sat down at the counter.

The office worker was a man in his 40s.

“Zeke von Hollybiche.”

“Yes.”

“At 14 years of age… education… elementary level completed.”

“Yes…”

His voice trailed off.

At that moment, Zeke thought of Deus.

Just knowing Deus was by his side filled him with sudden courage.

The staff member at the window was blatantly ignoring Zeke.

The Hollybiche family was well-known in the Hero Management Bureau for producing only thieves for centuries.

The belligerent persistence of the Hollybiche clan went on despite it being reasonable to sell the title to a wealthy, common branch of the family for a good price.

“Haven’t yet taken the suitability test, don’t know the pure-blood level… it looks like you don’t qualify for anything other than thief rank; is that okay?”

Zeke glanced at Deus for guidance.

At that moment Deus spoke up.

“What about this suitability test or whatever? Can’t we just take it?”

“There is a fee for the test, is that alright with you?”

“How much?”

“It’s five gold.”

Deus took five gold coins out of his pocket and tossed them.

The coins clinked and scattered across the counter.

“There, okay?”

“Just a moment, please. I will check.”

The counter staff sighed.

The story of Zeke finding a wealthy sponsor was already well-known.

Filled with embellishments, the story had grown considerably; a wealthy merchant of low social standing seeks to uplift themselves by sponsoring a poor hero – that was the general tale.

Across all times and cultures, the nouveau riche has been the object of derision, and this case was no different.

“It has been confirmed as real gold. Please follow our staff to the back room for the testing.”

Sitting in the empty testing room, Zeke and Deus could only stare at each other.

“What a long wait.”

“They must be preparing the diagnostic kit.”

“If I gave five gold coins to a restaurant, the owner would run out, bow, and offer to cook me personally.”

“Well, that’s just…”

“They lack service spirit. You’re a hero. Even purebloods should be VIPs, right? Regardless of rank, you’ve risked your life for humanity. You deserve at least a semblance of gratitude.”

“My father used to say, ‘Be proud as a hero, but not seek respect. You were born a hero, yes, but you’ve accomplished nothing yet.’”

“That does sound reasonable.”

Then, the door opened and an ancient man with white hair entered alongside the man who had led Zeke.

The old man’s title was Chief of the Joerik Hero Management Office.

“Zeke.”

“Principal Jebil.”

He was also the principal of the city’s elementary school for heroes, so he and Zeke knew each other well.

“Oh… I’ve heard so much about you, and yet it’s quite something to see you here. I remember when Zeke first enrolled at the school eight years ago. That year the winter was particularly harsh, so much so that at the entrance ceremony he wore…”

“Can we just get started?”

“Ah! This must be that merchant I’ve heard so much about.”

“Deus. You can call me that.”

“The name of an ancient god. Be careful; it’s very similar to the name of the Demon King.”

“What’s the big deal?”

Jebil took out some devices from the bag he carried.

Two crystal orbs, a small box, and a needle for drawing blood were placed on the table.

“The process is simple. We draw your blood, put it into this reader, and you place your hands above the crystal orbs.”

“Yes, Principal.”



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