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71: Desire to Monopolize

70: Morning Afterglow
72: Gadillas and Latias

Along with Gadillas, he walked down the corridor with Uros following from behind. Two guard knights followed after them.

It’s a little cute that Gadillas was proud of having Kuuga walk beside him.

The reactions of those who saw Kuuga were all similar. Look at Kuuga――there are no humans with animals ears and tails in this world――become stunned, then notice Gadillas and bow down. This series of actions were the same as if they were copies of each other that it’s quite funny.

After Kuuga and the others passed by, words would echo among friends in whispers, which was firmly caught by Kuuga’s ears.

“That person is the Divine Beast-sama…?”

“Who said that Divine Beast-sama wouldn’t become humanoid because it’s a fake…”

“Lies, he’s so cool…! He’s the type not commonly found here!”

“Ears! Tail! Mofumofu!”

There’s a certain possibility that the last one was like Edallion, so should he stop eavesdropping?

“Black hair…? No, certainly, Divine Beast-sama has black hair…”

“Oohh, nice black hair. Seems strong. So cool.”

“I envy black hair. He seems strong.”

The monsters of this world have the image that black = strong due the influence that the higher species usually have a black color. That’s why Kuuga’s black hair made him look strong, and the men gave him envious looks.

When he heard this, he instinctively tsukkomi with an “are you a child!” but Gadillas also said something similar which gave him a headache.

When he’s in beast form, it seemed like being strong = scary, so it’s a problem.

Black must be the most popular color since the order named after it was the most popular one in this world.

Perhaps because there’s a second Divine Beast in Jihak, they happily called him “our Divine Beast-sama” which was said unconsciously.

Even so, though the contents were both the same, why was the reaction so different just by changing his appearance? Many of the voices he heard have a positive reaction.

Of course, that’s not all since some people also looked suspicious. But they’re a small number.

Appearances were important, so that suddenly became distant.

They moved from Gadillas’ bedroom at the top of the castle to the dungeon, so they had to walk a considerable distance. During that time, he was seen by quite a few people, and it seemed like some people were observing this from a distance and making various rumors, so it’d only be a matter of time before those negative rumors disappear.

As they walked while attracting attention and went down the stairs to the dungeon, Restalion was waiting in front of the bars.

“Did you come in like that?”

“Ahh. This will eliminate some strange rumors.”

“…ah-“

Restalion showed a face at that. Gadillas wouldn’t understand but Kuuga read it accurately. Restalion didn’t want him to expose his nakedness in front of the prisoners. He had been so concerned about it that he even had a cloak in one hand.

It seemed like they listened to Kuuga’s advice from last time, and the guard was different. The person this time――well, he’s okay. He didn’t have a particularly strong feeling for Gadillas…on the contrary, he didn’t seem interested. He’s also the type to do his work seriously.

Guided by Restalion, they walked inside and arrived in front of the prison where the assassins were located. Those imprisoned here were the ones forced to work by slavery magic. It’s divided into two by gender with five women and eight men. It’s much less than he expected.

When he tried to ask Restalion if this was all, the other man seemed to have read the question from his face.

“About half of them committed suicide as soon as they were released from slavery.”

“――I see.”

After reading between the lines, Kuuga turned his eyes down.

If they had no weapons and were being held down, they would have bitten their tongues. Normally, some measures should have been taken to prevent self-harm when there’s a precedent of one person. Not doing that―― probably meant they let them die.

With his eyes open, Kuuga looked at the people behind the bars. To be honest, Zau was in a better state. About half of them have hollow eyes and it seemed like they grew up being denied the ability to even think about something strongly.

“It’s not perfect, but it seemed like they’ve been denied individuality…hn?”

Kuuga was observing them as he muttered that, but found something strange and tilted his head. Purple light circulated around the neck of some. It must be the spirit of darkness, the same as he’d seen in Zau. That meant, they’re in a state where enslavement magic was applied.

“Hey, didn’t you release the enslavement magic?”

“Ahh, I did.”

“About 5 people haven’t been released yet.”

“Huh!? Such a stupid thing, I witnessed them release everyone properly!”

Restalion was scared when Kuuga pointed that out. Gadillas, who also saw this, frowned suspiciously.

“How can you tell?”

“? You’d know if you looked at them… ahh, right, only I can see it.”

For a moment, he didn’t know why they were surprised, but Kuuga remembered that Merdechalan told him that only the Divine Beast could see the spirits when magic was being used.

Although it was said in a small voice, the two nearby clearly heard it in this quiet dungeon and both opened their eyes astonishingly.

“You can see…you mean magic?”

“No, I can see the spirits when magic is being used. I’ve always wondered what it was and I asked God. She told me that I could see it because I’m a Divine Beast.”

“…Restalion, get the permit.”

After hearing Kuuga’s explanation, Gadillas sighed deeply and gave instructions to Restalion. Getting the permit meant giving him permission to use the magic tool to release the enslavement magic here.

Restalion, who immediately realized his intention without any explanations, frowned with annoyance.

“Isn’t the previous permit okay?”

“No good. That’s a one time use permit.”

“So troublesome. Gadillas should also come. You have to sign on the spot.”

“…it can’t be helped. Kuuga, Uros, wait here.”

Both of them seemed to find it very troublesome. He knew they had to do that, but he wondered if it’s really annoying. They stared at each other as if to vent, then left the dungeon.

When the two guard knights looked at each other and talked with their eyes, one person remained here, while the other one chased after Gadillas.

The only ones left were Kuuga, Uros, and the guard knight.

“The slave magic should be released first.”

“Yes, otherwise, they can’t even say the name of the perpetrator.”

“Ahh, you’re right.”

Kuuga looked at one of the men who have the magic of slavery. The man sat while leaning against the wall and was staring at him ever since Kuuga and the others arrived. He had the strongest will among the 13 people imprisoned.

Kuuga crouched down on the spot, looking at the man.

“It’s a face that said we will use you again anyway.”

“!?”

“Well, you’re quite right.”

“!?”

The man didn’t speak, perhaps because he’s unable to, but many things were transmitted from his facial expressions. He seemed surprised at Kuuga’s words.

“Even if forced, the people involved in the assassination organization cannot be released as they are. Can you understand that?”

“…”

“Even if you say we’re using you, we just want to use your skills to protect this country. Not to assassinate an innocent person.”

Even though he explained it, it didn’t seem to resonate with the man. He’s just glaring at him as if he wouldn’t believe him.

Even if Kuuga said more here, the other man’s heart would not move. Even if he’s free, he’d be in a “troublesome” complicated state. In the first place, it’s not for himself but for his other companions that he’s glaring like this. He seemed to have a strong sense of companionship.

Kuuga turned away from the man and sat down near the bars, looking at another man who’s dazedly looking at him. He had no enslavement magic and was paying attention, but didn’t try to speak. Not just him, everyone in the prison was like that.

They must have been well trained. They’re not in a “waiting” stage, they simply didn’t want to voluntarily speak. Zau was better at that point, but he’s not very used to speaking words.

“What are you good at?”

“…good at?”

The man replied more easily than he expected. However, he couldn’t answer the question and merely slightly tilted his head.

The assassination organization’s development policy seemed to be the same for everyone, and they’ve been growing up with their individuality denied. They couldn’t go against the slavery magic anyway, so they must have thought it’s more efficient to develop their personality the same way, so they’d do as they’re told. He wondered if the trainer was just lazy.

However, it wouldn’t just disappear because they pushed it down. He’s troubled at how he could pull them out and let them assert themselves to some extent.

Kuuga, who thought so, decided to do it differently this time.

“Who’s the tallest among the people here?”

“Tall? …Koruu is the tallest.”

When he asked something he could see, he got an answer. He even politely pointed at the tallest person, and Koruu was so surprised that his shoulders shook.

“Then, who’s the fastest?”

“…Zau…ah, no, Gart.”

When he spoke of Zau, the man wandered his fingers looking for him, but he seemed to remember that he’s not here, so he pointed to Gart, who should be the next fastest. That Gart, with his long body, blinked owlishly at them.

“So what are you good at?”

When he circled back to his original question, he seemed to have realized what kind of answer he’s looking for this time, so he thought for a few seconds.

“…entering into gaps…?”

“I see.”

The man looked a little relieved when Kuuga nodded without laughing at his strange skill. If Kuuga denied it, the other man might not be able to give an answer while thinking for himself, so Kuuga had to be careful.

“Then, what about you?”

“…climbing a tree?”

“I see. What about you?”

“…healing.”

When he asked them one by one, he got various answers from trivial things to assassination matters. When someone told him he’s great at “scratching the neck just before he stabbed it”, Kuuga thought it was a joke and had to work hard to maintain his expression.

After roughly grasping the situation, Kuuga stood up and looked at Uros. Uros, who was silently watching over Kuuga’s actions, slightly wrinkled his brows as he understood.

“Kuuga-sama, this is…”

“Slavery magic sometimes cause your body to move when ordered, right? They’re basically passive because they grew up like that, so they’re not used to thinking and acting for themselves.”

By the way, he wouldn’t recruit them as they were. Before being assigned, he had to use something called contract magic, which was different from slavery magic. It seemed like this would be applied to Zau at a later date.

Contract magic prevented betrayal by not making them escape nor leak confidential information. It wouldn’t make them absolutely obedient nor make them unable to move freely aside from orders like enslavement magic did.

In other words, when receiving orders and executing them, all actions must be considered and done by themselves. In addition, although they wouldn’t go against the contractor, it’d be troublesome if they’re influenced by suggestions and opinions during the process.

“It’s not an issue if they could be recruited. There are individual differences in their condition, but… everyone needs education for the time being.”

Regarding the difference in condition, he thought that the original personality was also related, but it’s more likely that the main difference lies in the years they stayed in the assassination organization. Perhaps those who committed suicide still had their feelings, or were enslaved after they’ve grown up.

Zau, who was about to commit suicide, was still in a better condition thanks to his younger brother’s emotional support. The man who kept staring at him has a strong ego for another reason.

The other things could be corrected to some extent, but it would take a considerable amount of time to change their roots. For the time being, education was needed to make them better.

“While doing this, let the guard knights take turns.”

Although when he muttered that there’d be no option to not work, Uros seemed a bit confused.

“But what do you mean by education…”

“I want them to be independent, so why not let them live in a group somewhere? Naturally, they’d be divided in gender… Ahh, I hope there’s a quota where they can get points if they look for a job they can do and report it.”

He didn’t want them to be repulsed because he’s too strong, and he’d be troubled if they became too strong willed. Anyway, it’s a good idea to think and act for themselves through repeated learning and reflection.

“Do you mean a group life?”

“Yes… ah, by the way, the inner palace should be empty, right?”

“Ha?”

“I’m the queen and I don’t live there. If the previous generation also moved away from the castle, wouldn’t it be empty there right now?”

“…sure, there’s no one there right now, but…uhm, Kuuga-sama? Could it be…”

“It’s just right, so why not use that?”

“Please don’t use the inner palace as a vacant guest room.”

Good idea! Uros began to protest to Kuuga, who just brightened his expression at those words! He then received a disturbed look.

Since no one would be affected, Kuuga nodded with satisfaction at his idea that the place should be perfect for finding a job because it has a kitchen and a garden.

“If it’s known that someone has entered the inner palace, it will be troublesome if they’re mistaken as His Majesty’s side concubines.”

Normally, the inner palace would be where the queen consort of the king lives and not be treated as a vacant guest room. So Uros attacked from that direction, thinking that Kuuga wouldn’t be convinced by other methods of persuasion.

“…even though they’re not married?”

“Many people would make judgements based on the rumors without looking closely. Will that be okay? For them to be treated as side concubines?”

Kuuga, who had thought that he could win against Uros, closed his mouth. Uros nodded with a “did you finally understand” look to Kuuga, who showed a disgusted face, while inwardly delighted with his victory. Kuuga, who could see his thoughts, couldn’t make any further claims and sullenly looked away from Uros.

Gadillas couldn’t hold a woman normally in the first place. No, to be precise, if he held them, the life of the other party would be in danger. Because of that, the king chosen by the Divine Beast couldn’t leave an heir. For the distant future when the lifetime of the Divine Beast and King ended, the main royal family would continue to leave heirs. Therefore, it’s still the main royal family who’d seek to leave children and have side concubines.

Kuuga, and, of course, Uros, were aware of that.

He imagined it and reflexively thought “I don’t like it”. He tried to conceal his heart, but soon stopped and accepted that it wouldn’t be sincere to Gadillas. He realized that he also had a desire to monopolize him.

70: Morning Afterglow
72: Gadillas and Latias
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