༺ Liar ༻
Should I tell the story of Ha-Tae Oh….
No, should I talk about the story of Judas?
How I, Judas, saved the world.
Because I had done some terrible things before eventually saving the world….I even had wanted posters in my name, and people cried out in fear when they saw me.
However, I voluntarily participated in the siege of the Demon King’s castle.
Of course, I didn’t do it because I was making some great, noble sacrifice on behalf of humanity.
It was because King Ordor had told me that he would erase all my criminal records and would never punish me, leaving me no choice but to accept.
It was the best option for someone like me, who was doomed to be executed if I was ever caught by the guards.
Likely, King Ordor thought that it would be nice if I was able to defeat the Demon King, and that I could easily be disposed of if I failed.
Why was everyone so calculating?
Why is it?
Every single party member of mine was in the same boat as me.
I was hoping for a 「Pardon」.
Brigitte was hoping for recognition from the 「Academy」.
And for the other two.
They joined the suicide mission because of their own greed for recognition and were lucky enough to survive, thus being hailed as heroes.
We had all become ‘heroes’ in the process.
Because I saved the world, I believed I could live a life of comfort, gaining many supporters from noble families and the upper society in the process.
In reality, everyone but me was able to live happily.
Brigitte had even become a professor.
But I couldn’t live happily.
Being a criminal, all I heard were insults calling me a barbarian.
Even those who praised me as a hero were shying away, secretly fearful of me.
It was all because of the rumors spread after many people impersonated me.
Additionally, people claiming to be my followers said things like “I swear! I’m Sir Judas’ right-hand man, I even went to the sauna with him!” as they extorted money from small businesses or committed other acts of evil.
Even though I had determinedly pursued them, there was no end.
Those people were gangsters, beggars, or scammers who all lived as though there was no tomorrow.
And people ended up despising me the same way they despised them.
I understood why they felt that way.
If I was an ordinary citizen, I wouldn’t believe anything that came out of my mouth either.
This continent, Pangea, didn’t have anything like Youtu** or the internet and rumors spread mostly through word of mouth.
I felt a little frustrated that I was being cursed at for things I had never done to begin with.
As a result, I constantly defended myself by declaring my innocence.
But I didn’t do so today, I even admitted to everything.
“That’s right. Everything you’ve heard about me is true!”
Why was I changing my stance?
There was a possibility that I would gain the love of a beautiful and sexy demon hunter!
What did a few minor accusations matter in front of her love?
Throw as many stones as you like!
“That’s right. I’m Judas the Barbarian.”
I spoke with bravado.
Then, Brigitte, who was listening carefully, jumped in surprise.
“J-Judas isn’t a bad person! He might look….a little mean, but he has a very kind heart!”
Brigitte was defending me…!?
Now that I think about it, Brigitte always defended me whenever the people cursed at me.
It was thanks to Brigitte and my other party members defending me fiercely that I was able to get a job of sorts after defeating the Demon King.
Though she would often grumble about me, saying things like “If you look bad when you’re a member of my party, I’ll look bad too.”
I knew Brigitte was a person incapable of evil actions─!
But now, her kindness was getting in the way—!
“Brigitte, you don’t know about the darkness in my heart. I’m a villain who has done all sorts of things befitting a barbarian! I’m trash that can’t be forgiven!”
“T-there’s no way that’s true! You must be mistaken! Hey, Cariote! Judas is a kind and benevolent person! You’ve seen how well Naru listens to him, right? Children only listen to kind people! Judas, you don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not! I’ll vouch for you!”
If this were an ordinary situation, I would have been moved to tears by Brigitte’s defense of me, but today, it was like a dagger to my chest.
At that moment, a solid sound resonated.
The source was Cariote, who had thumped the scabbard of her blade against the table, creating a loud noise.
“You don’t have to act so noisily, Judas. We know all the rumors about you are lies, and that you’re not a villain. You’re not a barbarian either, and your eyes are honest. You can’t fool my eyes.”
My eyes are honest?
Nobody has told me that before in my life.
“Just look at me! Can’t you see I look just like a barbarian with my black eyes and black hair—.”
As I tried to incriminate myself, Brigitte interfered.
“Hmph! You’re a demon hunter, but you also seem to have an eye for people.”
“I thought so.”
What do you mean “I thought so”—-!
I mean, they might be right, but why did it have to be today!?
What Cariote said next stabilized my raging emotions.
“Is that why you joined the expedition to the Demon King’s castle and stole my place by lying about your reputation?”
Her gaze pierced through me.
If it were possible to kill a person just with a glare, I would have likely died.
No, this was closer to hatred.
“Judas, I can tell you’re not without conscience based on that little girl behind you named Naru. If a child is following you that earnestly, you cannot be a villain, even if you are a demon hunter.”
“Thus, most of the stories about you are fake. I even investigated some of your so-called followers and found out they were all lying. I spent a lot of time on you, you faker.”
Nobody had called me that in a long time.
Still, what caught my attention was how long she had spent investigating me.
…Did she have a crush on me?
No matter how much I overclocked my Female Processing Unit, it didn’t seem like that was the case.
Soon, Brigitte asked a question.
“Are you being like this because you were excluded from the expedition to the Demon King’s castle in favor of Judas? Because you, Cariote, were relegated to the role of a scout?”
“That’s right. It’s insulting to see a faker like him take everything that should’ve been mine.”
Was this how she felt?
“Black Mage Brigitte, I accepted your request to search for a demon because I wanted to meet you guys in person. Now that I’ve met you, I can clearly see that my place was stolen.”
Cariote seemed certain.
Convinced that her rightful place had been stolen.
—Demon King Expedition—
Was she jealous of the recognition we had received?
If she had successfully joined our party, she would have become very famous.
Thus improving her fortunes and even her prospects of marriage.
It seemed Cariote believed that her future had been stolen by me.
She was far more ambitious than I had expected.
I thought the Barboi didn’t care about things like reputation.
At that moment.
Naru approached us with her head tilted.
“Are you fighting?”
“I’m just asking a question. Before that, did you say your name was Naru? This person you consider your father is a mythomaniac. He might even be lying about being your father.”
Naru widened her mouth in surprise.
Were people who turned into pillars of salt, when Sodom and Gomora were destroyed by lightning, as surprised as Naru?
Naru loved the existence known as ‘dad’ very much.
If someone insulted her ‘dad’, she would begin foaming at the mouth like a squirrel who had its acorn stolen, instantly going on the offensive.
What should I do if Naru attacks?
That foreign Barbaroi girl could hit Naru!
Do I have to fight her?
In this place?
Just as I was thinking that.
Naru let out a shout.
“Dad… is a liar!”
“Mom said so too! Mom said that Dad lied as easy as he breathed…”
As she spoke, Naru let out a pained noise and grabbed at her temple.
“Ugh… My head is spinningggg…”
Seeing Naru in distress, Brigitte placed a hand on her forehead.
“It seems like she’s struggling because she suddenly remembered something. Since it’s late, let’s put her to sleep. And as for you, Cariote, if you’re going to be uncooperative, leave.”
Beckoning Naru. Brigitte guided her to bed.
Within 5 seconds of Naru being underneath the covers, the sounds of her falling into a deep sleep could be heard.
* * *
After Naru fell asleep.
We refrained from raising our voices.
I thought she was the heartless type.
But it seemed she was far more sensible than I thought.
“I’ll apologize. I was too careless with my language.”
As I peered at the bowing Cariote, I couldn’t help but feel a faint sensation of surprise.
I shouldn’t be the one saying something like this, but I hadn’t expected a black-haired Barbaroi to be capable of an ‘apology’.
Perhaps she did have some level of social skills.
Without waiting for a response from us, Cariote quickly walked away.
Staring into the night sky, she let out a single deep sigh.
I too followed her and asked.
“What are you saying?”
“No, it’s probably your little sister.”
“You thought of someone when you looked at Naru, right? Probably your little sister.”
The wistfulness in Cariote’s eyes.
It was likely caused by her ‘family’.
I instinctively felt that she might have a little sister who resembled Naru in her hometown of Barboi.
And it seems like I was right on the money.
“I did think of my little sister.”
“I thought so.”
“I thought of my little sister, who died to a demon at the age of six.”
….Oh, holy shh….
All of a sudden?
I felt guilty for bringing it up at all.
While I was trying to choose my words carefully, Cariote spoke.
“I will kill the demon hiding within Freesia because it is my duty. Seeing past their disguises will be nothing for me.”
That was reassuring.
A cold wind blew.
Although it was supposed to be spring, the last vestiges of winter desperately tugged against my clothes.
As I was about to return to the laboratory.
Cariote asked me a question.
“In that final moment-.”
“The final moment?”
“—Was the fact that you slit the Demon King Sabranak’s throat all a lie?”
The truth was that I hadn’t slit his throat but ripped his heart out instead.
Cariote snorted in response.
“…Hmph, I thought so. Just looking at your skills now, you’re at best, silver or on the lower spectrum of gold. I’m curious how you were even accepted into the expedition to the Demon King’s castle.”
“Your instincts are pretty good. With my current abilities, I’d be lucky to be considered a gold tier.”
The demon hunters I had met generally all had a ‘sense’ for the opponent.
Cariote accurately was able to assess my current strength.
She was truly first class.
Was this the level of a platinum-tier Demon Hunter?
Hearing my compliment, Cariote tilted her head in confusion.
“Truly, the only thing that exits your mouth other than your breath are lies. Is Judas even your real name? Are you even a Barbaroi?”
“Since I’ve heard plenty of your questions, let me ask one in return. Earlier, you said that if I was the same person as in the rumors, you’d… give it to me or something like that.”
Because I made such a shameless remark and was casually scratching my nose, Cariote looked at me as if I was a madman. Soon after, Cariote nonchalantly replied.
“Isn’t it common sense amongst the Barboi for a woman to be taken by a strong and vigorous man? Being drawn to a capable male is the natural instinct of all beings. What’s so strange about that?”
“It’s not strange at all, but-.”
“You’re disqualified though. While you might be more handsome than I had expected, being handsome is pointless when compared to a strong person who might be ugly. I’m not interested in people weaker than me.”
When I was about to reply, Cariote quickly went back inside.
I had never heard that before.
…Was I considered handsome amongst the Barboi?
…What if I had resided in Barboi instead of the Ordor Kingdom?
What was the point of my suffering these past two years….
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