Chapter 22 Where Will We Go? (Intelligence Gathering 1)
I cleared the hero exam, beat the scoundrel, and became a hero blessed by many people.
Small birds chirp while traversing under the blue sky of the royal capital.
Having had our breakfast, I and Celica are inside the inn room.
We're sitting next to each other on the bed, talking about our future plan.
Celica who's wearing a red skirt and a white tunic looks at my face. Her clear blue eyes and swaying blond hair look beautiful.
"What are we going to do after this Keika-sama?"
"Right.... I've thought up many things.... but first I want to hear Celica's opinion."
"Well.... I personally think that departing to the northern area where the demon king rules, and getting regions snatched by monsters back to people would be nice."
"Normally speaking, that's what we should do."
"I'm sure Keika-sama can win against any monster."
After examining Celica's idea for a bit, I say.
"But that method is rejected."
"Uu.... Why is it so."
"There's a possibility that regaining them is pointless."
"The demon king has spread his influence in this country's back. Even if we take back the region, another person under the demon king will just become the next lord of that region. It won't solve the fundamental problem."
"I-is such a thing really....!"
"For example the Tower of Trial. There's no doubt that those trials are thought up by the demon king. In order to kill excellent heroes."
"So that was the reason! I thought it was too difficult!"
"That's why, first we need to reform this country."
Celica's thin eyebrows are lowered, she looks sad. Her long blond hair weakly sways.
"Can we really do that.... If even the tower is affected, that means there is a great number of people who cooperate with demon king.... Does it mean that those people have to be replaced?"
"Nope, that's not correct. They're very likely cooperating reluctantly because they're being threatened or ordered by their superior. That's why, let's leave the northern region alone for the time being, and endeavor to become a dependable hero whose decision will be followed by people without question."
"T-then, how do we do that?"
Celica tilts her head to the side with swaying blond hair.
I put up a finger, and say while posing.
"First, let's travel around this country and save towns and villages that are in trouble. And once I've created a state where everyone will accept my decision, I will get the northern region occupied by the demon king back and appoint reliable people I pick up as the new lords. Once we've done this, we can finally say that we've reclaimed the human land."
"Y-you're amazing Keika-sama...! To have thought that far! I was naive. It's so wonderful. ...Aah, I'm really glad that Keika-sama is here!"
Celica hugs me with her whole body from the side.
Her blond hair spread, it smells like a flower.
Big round breasts are pushed on me along with her soft body.
The sensation of her breasts deforming is transmitted to me, to the point I'm thinking that she must be doing it on purpose.
When I look down, Celica's pretty face immediately comes in view. Her white cheeks are loosening from smile, her big blue eyes are moist with joy.
--She probably doesn't understand what she's doing herself because she's lost herself in joy.
Hence, my heart aches.
The reason why she wanted to go to the north is because her country is currently in a difficult situation, she probably wants to save her people as their princess.
Of course, my thinking is correct, reclaiming the region right now is futile.
For now, I have to harden my heart and carry out the plan.
Besides, this is also for my sake.
Getting some regions back has a weak impact for becoming a God.
If an unknown man defeated the demon king, it'd just end up with, "Dunno who he was, but thanks."
First I have to spread my name!
I'll have this whole country knows the name 『Hero Keika』. So do the neighboring countries.
Once every people know my name and feel familiar with me, I'll defeat the demon king.
You won't feel anything if someone you don't know appears on TV, but you'll feel proud if your friend does, right.
It's the same here.
Therefore, I have to do one... no, three things huh.
I stood up.
"Thus, first, let's gather some intelligence. There's some places I want to go."
"Yes, Keika-sama. I'll accompany you.... Anywhere."
Celica smiled and then she graciously stood up.
We left the room.
First, we went to a church.
If I used god's power without permission from the god of this world, I can't complain if they kill me.
That's why I want to meet them and tell them that I'm going to work as a hero--.
Those were what I thought when I arrived at this world.
But, my line of thinking has changed now.
Even the Mother Earth Goddess who should be quite powerful had become like that.
That means the other gods might be in a similar state....?
That's what I thought.
There's a huge church next to the castle.
It has a triangular roof and a stained glass.
Worshiping people are coming in and out.
It's clear there's a lot of believers.
--Kuh, I'm a bit envious.
I showed the 【Emblem of Hero】 and entered the church.
The air inside is chilly because the building is made of stone.
The chapel is vertically long. The floor is covered by carpet so people can pray there, there's an altar in the back.
I walk to right before the altar, Celica who's following me behind speaks.
"This is the the object of worship of God Vanus."
Behind the altar, there's a gallant statue of goddess raising a sword. It has bird-like wings on its back, it's like a sculpture of an angel.
I concentrate on that goddess statue, trying to Mind Talk--the so-called telepathy.
Conversing with our mind, just like when I met Lapisia.
Gods can talk to someone through their object of worship.
However, I couldn't connect. No matter how many times I tried.
I reflexively smirk.
As I thought this world doesn't have a god!
They're either sealed or incapacitated!
I can move freely now!
Even though I'm not a god of this world, there is no reason for the gods who don't even protect their own world to complain about me.
Lapisia can be said to be the god's representative, but she's already my believer. Kukuku.
As I'm smirking around, Celica calls me anxiously.
"U-um... Keika-sama? You've had a very evil look on your face, what's the matter?"
"It's nothing. I was just thinking. Probably about the way to defeat demon king and such."
"Probably.... Sometimes Keika-sama seems scary."
Celica looks at me not with blaming look but disheartened look. Like the eyes of a frightened puppy.
I shook my head.
No no. I can't let Celica lose her belief. I must not betray everyone's trust. I failed in Japan because I didn't take care of my believers, thinking that there's a lot of people anyway.
I gently hold her hand. Intertwining her slender fingers.
"Sorry for making you worry. However, there are times when you need to think about bad things if you want to find the best course of actions."
"I see.... so it's like that. As expected of Keika-sama."
Trusting light dwellt in Celica's eyes, she tightly grasped our connected hands.
And then, an old woman suddenly talks to me from the side.
"Keika-sama? ...Oh, Hero Keika-sama, good morning. It's an honor to meet you."
"Aa, good morning. You're really devoted praying here this early."
"Yes, I came here to give my thanks to God Vanus for the appearance of a wonderful hero. Keika-sama is the best hero I've ever seen in my life."
Even though I looked calm outside, I was disappointed inside.
She ended up thinking it was the work of another god.
U~n. Forcing my way through the current belief proves to be difficult after all. Guess it's only natural.
Well, this world adopts polytheism, so I will probably get added to the lowest seat once I've piled up achievements.
I'll work hard.
"I see. I'll do my best from now on too."
"Please take care.... Ah, please have this Keika-sama."
The old woman took out some candies from her waist pouch. Simple round yellow candies.
Looks like old women in any world carry and share candies.
My rule is to never decline an offering, so accepted hers.
And then I left the church with Celica.
We walk on the stone paved street while licking the candies.
"It was a really popular God."
"It is isn't it. As expected of the god who destroys monsters."
"Where's the next shrine?"
"Err, if I'm not mistaken, they told me that the Earth God Rupersia's Shrine is right after this alley. The Sky God Aduolus's Shrine should be beyond that street."
"No need to go to Rupersia's, let's go to the Sky God's."
"Yes, over here. Keika-sama."
There's a small shrine facing a small canal-like ditch.
My Wafuku's sleeve was pulled when I tried to approach it.
Celica lightly hit her mouth with her index finger.
"We're not allowed to eat and drink around the shrine, Keika-sama."
"This vicinity is already treated as a holy precinct huh. Sorry."
"I-it's fine.... Eating even a few candies takes time doesn't it."
Celica showed her neatly lined teeth, looking bashful
I hold her slender hand, and put my face before it.
"Then I'll be going alone. It'll be over soon since I'm just checking."
I spat out the candy on Celica's white palm without waiting for her answer.
"Hya!? W-what are you doing suddenly!?"
"You shouldn't waste food right. Then, I'm off."
I briskly went into the the shrine, leaving Celica who looked like she wanted to say something.
The shrine looks like a private house inside. There's only two room, each being only able to fit 20 people. There's a small bronze statue in one of those rooms.
I tried to talk with the god's statue, but no one responded.
Looks like there really is no god. I'll check them all just in case though.
I returned outside with light steps.
Celica is standing under a tree while looking troubled, "U~."
"Kept you waiting, let's go to the next one."
"Uu... Then how about this candy."
I hold her slender arm and put my face close.
"Of course I'm gonna eat it."
"Eating something you've spat out.... it's dirty."
"Celica's hands are very clean."
"Such a thing.... Hyaa!"
I push my lips on her smooth palm. I lick the candy with my tongue.
Celica twitches. Her red skirt is shaking.
She was trying to run away, but I grasped her slender wrist tightly as I lick the remaining candy to my heart content.
During that time, she kept leaking muffled screams like, "Hyau", or "An". Shaking like she's having a cramp.
I look up, Celica is biting the back of her free hand, desperately suppressing her voice.
Her pretty face is red-hot, her eyes are closed.
"What's wrong Celica? Are you alright?"
"Doing this outside.... I-it's embarrassing. Keika-sama."
Celica entreated with a spoiled-like tearful voice. She shakes her slender neck like she doesn't want it. Her blond hair bathed in sunlight filtering through trees looks captivating.
"I thought your hand would be sticky if I didn't lick it clean."
"I-it's fine already."
"Really. Then let's go to the next shrine."
When I release her hand, Celica looks worn out. She's walking unsteadily.
I take her hand so she won't get lost, while thinking just what is it this time.
Celica sighs with her fingers covering her cheeks.
Afterward, we went around various shrines and churches, and confirmed that there is no god.
--Yeah, now I can use my power freely!
Of course, I won't show god's power in front of people. They'd regard me as a monster.
I'll limit it to something a hero can do at most.
Also, for some reason, Celica who's walking with me looks exhausted.
We didn't walk that much though.
"Are you tired?"
"Mou.... I can't believe Keika-sama...."
I got surprised by what she said, I released our hands and patted her head.
Then her face reddens and she leans her body on me.
And then she rubs her head on me.
This princess sure behaves strangely at times, it's cute though. Is what I thought.