『This is yummy.』
The pink-haired little girl bit into the strawberry shortcake with beaming eyes.
"This Mont Blanc here is delish too nodesu."
"Young organism, I recommend the pudding over here as well so I inform."
Tama, Pochi, and Nana are entertaining the little girl with sweets.
Since the little girl is speaking in Age of Gods language, I'm supporting their conversation with force magic, [Translate: Age of Gods Language].
We're in a newly created sub-space on top of the great desert.
I took her here instead of Solitary Island Palace because it'd be bad if the little girl's guardian, Demon God, were to raid the place.
The sweets are lubricant to make the little girl more prone to spill things out.
Besides sweets towers on top of many tables, this area is filled with Arisa-directed [Houses of Sweets], sweet aroma lingers in the air.
"And here comes Chocolate Fondue~"
When a maid robot--I mean a cooking-support living doll modeled after Lulu brought a magic tool that regulates the right temperature for chocolate with her, Tama and Pochi jumped out in joy.
Only me, and the aforementioned people above are here.
All other members are standing by in Solitary Island Palace for safety.
『Choco? It kinda looks like mud though...』
"Young organism, chocolate is justice so I tell."
Nana lectured the hesitant little girl how to chocolate fondue.
『It's so tasty!』
The little girl who timidly bit chocolate-laden biscuit beamed, Tama who was sitting next to her nodded as-a-matter-of-factly.
"Dipping with fruits here is yummy too nodesuyo."
'Chocolate banana is the strongest nanodesu', Pochi added.
--I think it's about time?
I talk to the little girl right as she's getting relaxed.
『Was it good?』
The little girl with sticky chocolate all over her mouth replied back.
The closer I see her, the more similar she looks to the picture of little girl at Rumooku Kingdom's Shadow Castle and the body that was inside the Cultivation Tube I found there.
Unfortunately, appraisal and AR readings of her only show UNKNOWN, and nothing more.
『Don't you get sweets at your place?』
『Nnn. We do get some, but only after meal and during afternoon snack time.』
The little girl answered while holding a spoonful of ice cream.
『Who's making the sweets for you?』
An image of a sexy pink-haired beauty came up in my mind.
"What kind of person (human)~?"
『She's not a human! She's a demon with a ruby-like horn on her!』
The image on my mind transfigured at once.
Tama and Pochi were surprised when they heard the word demon, but since it would have complicated things, I swiftly went around, blocked their mouths and made a hand signal telling them to keep silent.
『Is mother-san the wife of your master?』
『Nope, she's Lord-sama's servant. She's like the strongest demon ever, that's what she said!』
The girl is talkative.
I pretend to be impressed, 『Hee, that's amazing』, and poured more sugared blue tea for her.
『Were you instructed by your lord to do the things you did in the towers?』
『Un--wrong! Forget I said that! It's a secret!』
The little girl who reflexively nodded to my question denied in panic.
『I see, can't be helped if it's a secret.』
『Yep yep, can't be helped.』
The little girl who kept nodding reached out a parfait with a long spoon as if she was trying to brush it over.
『So what's Demon God-sama trying to do anyway?』
『No clue. It's like something really amazing!』
I guess the vague stuff don't have to be kept a secret?
I purposely replaced [Lord-sama] to [Demon God-sama] in the question just now, and the little girl replied back without hesitation.
As expected, apparently these little girls were acting on behalf of Demon God.
Tama's ears stood up.
At the same time, a voice resounded in the sub-space.
『Shall I give you the answer you seek then.』
Purple cracks ran on the sub-space boundaries, then a night-like deep dark purple silhouette showed up.
The pink-haired little girl said that cheerfully.
Tama took Pochi and Nana into the shadow.
『This would be our first time meeting in this world, wouldn't it, Demon God-sama.』
I talked to demon god who had assumed the form of a literal shadow.
Perhaps his 2-dimension-like solid-less figure comes from something similar to my masquerade mask.
Of course, appraisal results and AR readings show UNKNOWN.
『How carefree of you, unbefitting of a Sinner.』
『Hmph, you abducted a familiar of god. Of course you are prepared to receive a fitting punishment, are you not?』
『Please don't say abduction, it's just a misunderstanding.』
...What's this I wonder?
Something is bugging me as I talk to Demon God though I'm not sure what.
Is it because the way he talks is completely different than when I saw him in Realm of Gods, could that be the reason?
『We received reports about someone instigating monsters toward explorers in the towers, hence we launched a capture operation but the moment we realized that we had captured someone from the managerial side, we served as much delicious food as she wanted as an apology.』
I told demon god the excuse I had prepared beforehand with the help of Deception skill.
『Hmph, what a worthless excuse.』
I can't tell his expression behind the shadow, but his aura is like he laughed scornfully.
Demon God raised one hand, then the purple crack behind him split apart, countless little girls jumped out of empty air.
Every single one of these little girls looks exactly the same as the first one.
『Aah! She's eating cake by herself!』
『So nice. Gimme some too!』
All the little girls were armed with giant scythes and great swords, but the moment they saw cakes, they threw away their weapons and rushed toward the sweets on tables.
『Hey, ah, but that's mine!』
『Eeh, isn't it fine.』
『Right right, monopoly is bad.』
『Aah! All these small houses are made of sweets!』
『Eeh, that's so cool~!』
『Biscuit roofs. And jelly windows!』
They look like normal children when I see them enjoying sweets fervently like this.
Demon God who was gazing at how the little girls were doing turned his line of sight at me and raised his chin.
『Don't you have something to ask?』
Looks like question time is still in effect.
Now then, from whence should I ask--.
『What are you trying to do with the towers?』
Might as well go with a straight one.
『An update to the world.』
I'm glad that he's responding, but I still don't get what he means by 'update' here.
『Exactly what it says.』
Looks like he'll keep being evasive.
I guess I have to ask in more details...
『Is pitting explorers against stronger monsters a part of this update as well?』
I speak while looking at the little girls who are absorbed with eating sweets.
『Exactly. A certain level of tension is required for [Towers of Trials]. Those are no places for mindless fools to indulge in easy experience points.』
His method is a bit too extreme even if that's the goal though.
『You think it's too extreme?』
Since he asked as if he had read my expression, I gave my affirmation.
『Monsters taken by those girls from other floors are bound by [Purple-Blue Chains], which limit their activity range. One can easily run away from them so long one throws everything away. You merely need to keep an eye on the surroundings and be ready to throw away everything before fleeing.』
Which means explorers who are hoarding loots on easy floors for them will end up dead as long as they won't give up their greed huh...
『That dragon broke through that though.』
『I mean, that thing bites, hmph.』
『Those fangs are unfair.』
My Attentive Ears skill picked up some of the little girls' conversation.
Looks like even this [Purple-Blue Chains] Demon God mentioned isn't perfect.
『Then what about the instability of priests' holy magic inside towers?』
『It's a bug.』
『Even gods are not absolutely perfect. You can tell after seeing gods in their realm, can't you? There are flaws in the system that adjusts difficulty of faith in towers. Which in turn manifests into instability of holy magic. I will have it corrected soon, forgive me.』
Demon God said so shamelessly.
I can't read his expressions under the shadow, so I can't tell whether he's just making excuses or it's the truth.
I'll risk incurring his wrath and push a bit further here.
『So it's not like it's making use of tower system to snatch the faith directed to god.』
Demon God smiled profoundly when he heard me.
A red-purplish crescent-shaped smile formed on the purple-blue shadow.
『--That's some amusing thing you uttered.』
A cold voice that gave off an illusion of rapidly lowering temperature in this sub-space.
『Are you saying that I'm mimicking the Thief God whom gods despised?』
Oh right, one of the gods did say something like that.
『No, that's not what I mean.』
『Then pray tell what you mean.』
『After listening to testimonies of priests who had explored towers, I'm making a conjecture that perhaps someone is trying to steal faith in the towers.』
The pressure coming off Demon God got even stronger.
I guess saying [snatching faith away] again was a bad move.
Demon God swung his hand then a slate appeared in front of him.
I can't see it from here, but that slate seems to contain some sort of information, Demon God is operating the slate as if a tablet with one hand.
Looks like he's looking for something.
『Damn you Zaikuon...』
Demon God muttered.
That god caused another trouble again huh.
『I give you my thanks for this bug report.』
After saying that Demon God told the little girls, 『We're going back』.
『Eeh, but we're still eating.』
『Why not have some too Lord-sama?』
『It's good you know?』
The little girls raised an objection.
I could somehow tell an aura of being stumped coming from Demon God.
『Please feel free to take everything with you as a present.』
Demon God swung his arm, then shadow stretched out of him to form a web, swallowing sweets houses and sweets on top of tables whole.
『I shall overlook your sin this time as thanks for this hospitality and the report earlier.』
After saying that, Demon God stepped toward the other side of the sub-space along with the little girls.
Guess he's saying that he won't show any mercy the next time we make a move on those little girls.
『O Lesser Goods (Irregular). I will give you one warning.』
『Gods who have excess faith on their hands shall do wrongs. Take heed of their movement.』
『I'm ever so grateful for your advices.』
I bowed to thank demon god for his advices.
By the time I raised my head, both demon god and the cracks on sub-space had vanished.
After shutting the sub-space which had outlived its usefulness down, I came to the mansion in Blue Territory as a precaution against Demon God's tailing.
A gate Arisa created with space magic opened right in front of me.
"Master, are you safe?"
Arisa crossed the gate along with other girls.
"Yea, of course I am."
I conveyed my conversation with Demon God to the girls.
"Hmm [Update to the World] is it... That's deep."
In the end, he was gone before I could ask what it meant.
"Then does it mean the one who has been stealing divinity in the towers is God Zaikuon, not Demon God?"
"That's if Demon God wasn't acting."
We can't exclude the possibility that it was all an act to make me exterminate Zaikuon.
"Can't we put that on hold for now? More importantly, we should go inform all tower administrators about how the out-of-floor monsters being [Tower Specs] along with Demon God's advice."
It's very like Hikaru to prioritize life-saving.
"You're right. Can I count on you to contact the king and Echigoya Firm?"
"Yes, just count on me."
After saying that, Hikaru got into the gate that Arisa opened.
Looks like the other side of this gate is capital's mansion.
"It's safe to assume that there's a god who's trying to steal divinity then?"
We can't conclude whether it's really Zaikuon as Demon God said, or it's Demon God himself.
"Master, was Demon God really that strong?"
I'm not sure how to answer Liza here.
"At the very least, I couldn't fully grasp his real strength I think?"
"Eh really? Since 『Demon God Offshots』 were like that, I imagined he'd be even more fearsome--"
I realized what had been bugging me while I was meeting Demon God.
The three black thin stripes that were once summoned in the capital's sky--[Demon God Offshots], the soul-freezing dread I felt from it,
I could feel nothing like that from the Demon God himself I met today.
"What's the matter Master?"
I explained my suspicion to the girls who were surprised at me suddenly raising my voice.
"Which means, the demon god you met earlier wasn't the real body then?"
"Seems likely. Might be something similar to Dragon Blood Avatars Heavenly Dragon and Black Dragon used."
I open the Map to check out Markers.
The marker that should have been on Demon God has disappeared.
Same with the little girls.
I really can't let my guard down against Demon God.
"Still, for him to go as far as to give warning, I really don't get what Demon God is trying to do."
"He must be plotting something evil for sure."
At the princess's remark, Sera said something a Tenion Miko would say.
"Master, is Demon God a bad person, or just, so I ask."
"I can't say for sure at this point."
"Bad people should do what bad people do nodesu."
Pochi and Tama spoke out in place of my inner thought.
"If he's going to harm people, then we just need to crush him with all our might desuwa."
"That's a bit too violent though."
Zena-san and Mia denied Lady Karina's aggresive remark.
"Master, I would like to take Pochi and the girls along in my training, would you allow us to?"
"Yeah, of course."
Liza who had been keeping silent spoke.
Liza going on a drill is not unusual, but there's something a bit different about her just now. Looks like our discussion just now had an effect on her.
I sent Liza and the girls away with Unit Arrangement.
"Now then, guess I'll get back to the capital's mansion for now--"
I mean there's no sign of Demon God nor pink-haired little girls, should be fine if I go back for now.
Mia called me.
The surrounding trees are rustling noisily even though there's no wind.
I could hear someone's voice from the rustling trees.
I strain my ears
『Satou, help. Aze, bad.』
Blue Territory trees repeatedly tells of the crisis that befalls Aze-san.
"Arisa, I'll leave the rest to you."
Feeling impatient from even telling those brief words, I moved to Boruenan Forest with Unit Arrangement.
I'm coming for you, Aze-san!