Chapter 269. The Wind of War (4)

Doppelganger magic was a form of demon summoning contained in the Demon King summoning document. Of course, rather than a demon, the doppelganger I used could only be seen as a minor alter ego with AI that copied my thought process. Even so, the structure of the technique was based on demon summoning, so it could not be called completely different magic. It was the magic of the so-called ship of Theseus. [1] 

"Why did you go and burn the Demon King summoning document?"

I couldn't help it back then. I happened to have run out of firewood. The trees near the village were so resilient that I would need to suffer for an entire day to cut one down. In addition, the freshly cut trees would burn poorly because they wouldn’t dry up. And if a paper like that exists in the first place, won’t the Demon King get summoned again?

"Well, luckily, thanks to you, the advent of the Demon King has been delayed." My aunt smiled lightly and manipulated the holograms to display a portrait of a mask that was half-black and half-white, like half-and-half chicken. Arwen was stunned to see the portrait.

"This guy's code name is Libra, and he's the Demon King worshipper who detected the doppelganger magic you used."

That Half-and-Half Mask was definitely the black magician who aimed for Hillis more than two and a half years ago. At that time, I was in Hillis's domain proclamation, and my senses were disrupted, so I lost him. I was too lazy to find him, and I didn't chase after him because I thought the capital would be destroyed if we fought without restraint, but I didn't expect it to come back to bite me like this.

"Should I have killed him back then?"

When I clicked my tongue, Aunt Talaria shook her head. "Arthur is not someone your grandfather, nor I can touch recklessly.”

My aunt's words were unexpected, and I remarked, "He was at least a madosa-level magician, but I didn't think he was that impressive."

Aunt Talaria nodded at my assessment. "Yeah, Arthur himself isn't someone we can’t handle. However, even if he dies, ‘Libra’ will not disappear unless the root of it, the Demon King worshippers, disappears."

If he falls, then a second or third Libra will appear? Talk about being a Demon King. Oh, is that why he’s a Demon King worshipper?

"Then, he's like a cockroach that can't be exterminated unless we destroy the place where he lays his eggs.”

It wasn’t a bad idea to be too careful because if I recklessly messed with them, the amount of annoyance brought by the Demon King worshippers wouldn’t be small.

My aunt smiled bitterly at my analogy. "Yes, but more than that... No, there's no need to tell you yet. Firstly, even if he has detected your doppelganger magic, that's all. The information hasn't been traced to you, and currently, I'm interfering with it.”

If the Big Mama Information Agency were directly interfering with the information, it would be fine to relax for now.

"So I’m not in danger of any immediate harm at the moment.”

"Yes, but don't let your guard down." Aunt Talaria turned off the hologram and handed me a bunch of papers as she continued, "First of all, here are the details of the Twelve Zodiacs.”

I got the documents and quickly scanned them before pointing out, "But there's very little information about Sagittarius and Pisces.”

My aunt sat on the edge of the table and said, "That's all the information we have on Pisces, and as for Sagittarius, I can't tell you.”

"You can't tell me?”

"Yeah, Sagittarius is very dangerous, so it’s better for you to remain unaware right now."

He must be an even greater monster if my aunt was describing him like this. It was different from two years ago when she gave me information on Aries and told me to avoid meeting him.

"Now, I'm asking you for the second request."

Her playful smile made me very nervous.

"You’ve already guessed that this alliance with the Fairies has failed and that war is going to break out, right?”

"So?"

"Ignoring the fool who was tricked into joining, it means that the people responsible for the kidnapping, Scorpio, and Capricorn, want war."

"That's definitely weird."

Capricorn wanted a war because he was anti-empire, but it was strange that Scorpio would desire one. According to Marsen, the person who fought Scorpio, Scorpio was Selina, the Witch of Greed. Yet, why did the Witch of Greed want war with the empire?

"Is war necessary for the resurrection of the Demon King? No, it's a distraction.”

My aunt smiled and nodded at my guess. "Right, we don't know exactly what they’re planning, but the empire must be getting in the way of whatever they’re trying to do."

"Or maybe they’re trying to distract Aunt and Grandfather." Since my grandfather and aunt were inside the group as spies, we should consider this possibility. 

My aunt opened her eyes wide and was lost in thought as if my words hit the mark. "It's... possible.”

My aunt contemplated with a serious face before she finished organizing her thoughts and smiled as if she found it interesting. "Okay, that's a good idea to consider. It seems Hestia isn’t recommending you as chief for no reason."

"No, anyone could have, wait, then the second request is...” I spoke, feeling anxious.

As if my guess was right, Aunt Talaria nodded with an insidious smile. "As expected, you’re quick to catch on. I’m going to need you to help end the war quickly.”

"How?"

My aunt shrugged at my question. "That's for you to find out. Use the Big Mama Information Agency whenever you need. Any information or funding will be provided free of charge."

I slammed the table and shouted, "This is tyranny!"

But I had no choice but to listen to her request.

* * *

In the middle of a pitch-black room, Libra lit a candle sitting on a table and spoke, "Not even wearing a mask, how careless of you, Scorpio."

Selina was wearing brown overalls and a beret that looked like something an artist would wear as she appeared in the candle-lit room. She smiled and waved her fingers jokingly when Libra rebuked her. "Ayy, what’s the big deal? It’s just the two of us here anyway. It's not like we don't know each other's faces. More importantly, it’s your fault for calling me here while I was in the middle of enjoying my break after completing the job."

Libra laughed dumbfoundedly, "Ha, you talk a lot for someone who failed." 

Selina grumbled, "Hey, it's not a failure. There's going to be a war. I even recovered the captured Capricorn and released him.”

Capricorn had returned to his country grinding his teeth, bearing a prosthetic that Scorpio made for his severed arm. He had to depart because a general responsible for leading the army could not continue to remain in a foreign country when there was a risk of war.

"That was the minimum goal, but you failed to kill Marsen, and he’ll get in the way later."

When Libra pointed out Selina’s barely-justifiable excuse, she shrugged as if she didn't care. "How could I have known someone went to the temple and rescued Palamut before Barbarian got there? I even pretended I was dead to lower their guards.”

The original plan was that if the half-dead Marsen dragged his injured body over and tried to force his way through the secret door to rescue Palamut, the trap would be triggered. However, even before Marsen arrived, someone rescued Palamut and delivered him to Marsen, making the trap useless.

"What? Did you try to kill Marsen on purpose?”

"Jeez! You surprised me!"

"Show some presence when you move about!"

When Sagittarius suddenly talked from behind the duo while hiding his presence, Libra and Selina were surprised and got angry.

Sagittarius scratched the back of his head in embarrassment. "Oh, I heard Scorpio died, so I came out because I was worried.”

"Oh, did you worry about me? That's unexpected." Selina smirked and put her hand on Sagittarius's shoulder.

Sagittarius smiled cheerfully and lifted Scorpio by the neck.

"KukKuk!"

The abrupt action left Libra frozen, unable to stop him.

"But why did you try to kill Marsen?"

When Sagittarius asked calmly, Scorpio struggled with her face white and clasped her neck. Sagittarius maintained his smile and asked, "Don't just choke, answer me. Hmm?"

As the space slowly filled with killing intent, Libra swallowed dryly and tried to stop Sagittarius. "Let's calm down first...”

"Calm down? What do you mean? The number of times I’ve been angry can be counted on one hand. Don't you think, Selina?”

Selina barely managed to open her mouth. "Sa, save me...!”

"Hmm, asking to be saved from only this, I guess the consequences of being cut in half by Marsen are great? Well, Heart Sword is essentially a fraudulent skill." Sagittarius smiled and let go of her neck.

"Kuk! Huk! Huk!" Selina was released, and she lost strength in her legs and sat on the floor, gasping for air.

Sagittarius casually took out his handkerchief and wiped off Selina's saliva from his hand. "Well, Marsen is alive, so let's leave it at this.  Even if friends bicker, they shouldn’t really go after each others’ lives. Right?"

Selina nodded urgently at Sagittarius's caring voice. Sagittarius asked, throwing his saliva-covered handkerchief into the trash can, "Oh, were you also the one who killed Drachen?”

Selina was nodding when she looked at the ground with a stiff head and expression. She couldn't raise her head under the unexpected feeling of heavy pressure and broke into a cold sweat.

"Puhahat! I'm kidding." The heavy pressure was suddenly released by Sagittarius's laughter as he said, "Drachen, that old man, did live a long time. What's the point of killing an old man on the brink of death? Don't you think so?"

Selina smiled awkwardly and agreed, "That, that’s right. When, when we subjugated the Demon King, that old man was already over 100 years old."

"He was a delightful old man. It's a pity that he died. The damn old man always said he wouldn't die before me. Funny old man, huh?”

Selina sweated, neither agreeing nor disagreeing.

"Even I think it was a boring joke. Sorry," said Sagittarius.

Sagittarius patted Selina on the shoulder and left the meeting place. "I'll head out first. It's not my cup of tea to attend a meeting I haven't received an invitation for."

Seeing the back of Sagittarius leaving with a lighthearted smile, Libra and Selina remained silent for a long time.

* * *

After separating from my aunt, I asked Arwen, "Flam ran away, and if my aunt and grandfather become preoccupied, you'll be alone. What will you do?"

Arwen was troubled by my question, and I went on, "At 14, it's a little early to stand on your own feet, but your magic skills are enough to be self-reliant."

Arwen grabbed my sleeve with anxious eyes. I smirked and patted Arwen on the head, saying, "I'm just talking about when you’re alone. I still have a lot to teach you, so I won't go anywhere."

Arwen seemed relieved, but she didn't let go of my sleeve.

"Then do you want to come with me? The boarding house I stay in is nice, and my workshop is a suitable place to live as well."

Gwalchavad's cooking skills were excellent, so she at least wouldn't suffer from a lack of appetite. Moreover, Percival's housekeeping skills were reasonable, so I didn't have to worry about laundry or cleaning. Above all, it was safer than the palace, so she could feel protected.

Nodding her head at my proposal, Arwen chose the former of the two.

- Boarding house.

"Okay, if that’s what you want. I need Mrs. Arscilla’s permission, but with my introduction, it shouldn’t be difficult.”

A certain feisty prime minister might assign some surveillance to Arwen for a month, but it’s not difficult to deceive their observing gazes.

Arwen and I headed to the boarding house. "I'm back."

After the sudden business trip, it felt like it’s been a long time since I came back to the boarding house. 

"Welcome."

It was Arcanta, not Mrs. Arscilla, who welcomed Arwen and me. Arcanta sat on the living room sofa, and Uncle Bloody and William sat on either side of him.

I didn't panic, and I bowed my head to greet the prime minister as required by court etiquette. "I greet His Excellency the Prime Minister and the general-nims."

Arwen awkwardly copied my greeting, and Arcanta waved his hand with a smile. "Hahaha, there's no need to stick to etiquette that much. Isn't home supposed to be a place to relax comfortably? My mother doesn't like it when people are too formal, either."

"Thank you for your consideration."

"By the way, you did a great job regarding the Fairy Tribe delegation. Thank you, I was originally only going to have you be an interpreter, but unexpectedly, I even left the overall work to be done by you. You worked hard, even having to send them off."

What's going on here? It was strange that Uncle Bloody and William were accompanying him.

I hid my inner thoughts, smiled, and spoke humbly, "No, I only did what I should naturally do."

"That's not true. You deserve some gratitude. I'd like to thank you again, Den von Mark."

There was an unknown sense of alienation from the prime minister's words. The prime minister smiled with his hands on his chin. "Or rather, should I call you the Denburg Blade?”

At the same time as the prime minister spoke, the atmosphere filled with tension.


1. Ship of Theseus, is also known as Theseus’s paradox, and is a question of whether an object that has had all of its components replaced remains fundamentally the same object.

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