The Bathroom Goddess / The Bathroom Goddess Chapter 20

“Leave.”

With the man’s one word, the servant who had brought the alcohol immediately bowed, and disappeared.

The lights were all off.

He found the dim light of the moon just right for him.

Rotus flowers floated in the pond before him.

The pond itself was shockingly big.

As the man gazed upon the moon on the water surface, he brought the drink to his lips. And the corners of his mouth curved naturally into a smile.
Visiting this place always gave him a sense of reality about the size of what he had obtained.

His birthplace had been an impoverished village.

The crops wouldn’t grow well either, and the men of the village earned money by accompanying travelling merchant groups on particularly dangerous journeys.

Although the dangers of his job had brought him close to death, the man remained poor. Always――

But how about now.

A completely extravagant lifestyle.
When he thought of the ridiculousness of his being brought here and made King, he found his laughter impossible to restrain.

――But there was still a long way to go. He would make even larger things his.

The man was very clear about what he was going to do, as well as what he wanted to achieve.

The only concern he had was the naked, or very close to naked woman who occasionally appeared.

She certainly had a mysterious power. She had that container overflowing with water, and she could appear in various places.

But that seemed to be all.

She had mysterious powers, but the woman herself was just a regular woman. That was how he saw her.

Having saved his life, and led him to I’Jibro, that woman had gotten in his way three times.

Considering her support for Prince Hinoki of I’Jibro, as well as the Ottko Yu boy, he immediately knew that she was weak to children.

Not only that, from the fact that she couldn’t save the Prince herself and the fact that she even sought help, it was clear that she was far from omnipotent.

――As he recalled, he wrote something about crushing the kid’s finger each time she interfered, or perhaps something about cutting off his nose and ears…
Either way, it was things that only scum would say.

If she was a boring woman as expected, then she would probably stop meddling out of fear for Prince Hinoki.
When he imagined the face she would make when she saw the letter, his face betrayed another smile.

Feeling quite happy, he swirled his drink.
He liked his drinks strong enough that they felt like they burnt his throat.

After his first cup, he regretted sending the servant away.

Whenever he told his servants to clear out, he would always have them at a distance where his voice wouldn’t reach.

――Can’t be helped. Should I go to the kitchen, and threaten a cook?

The man stood up. And the moment he did, a white light shone above the pond.

“Here’s your order! The ultimate delicacy that goes with distilled wines, fruit wines, sweet rice wines, nigori wine, anything! Cured mullet roe cheese!”

Pitch black hair that ran down white shoulders. The woman appeared half-naked again, rambling energetically no sooner than she had arrived.

“Hell yeah! Got the right guy! It’s been a while!”

The man looked on in dumb amazement as the woman pumped a fist in joy.

――Why…

The man couldn’t believe that his assessment was off. He was proud to say that he was better at reading people than anybody else.

“Oh? What’s wrong? Ah, I know. Here, take these.”

The woman tilted her head in confusion for a while, before apparently remembering to pass over the dish in her hand.

“You wanted some snacks to go with your drink, right?”

“…Yeah.”

Only after he accepted it had he come back to his senses.

“What do you plan to ask of me this time?”

The first time he had just given her the earrings.

What on earth did she plan on asking this time…?

The man studied her carefully.

Her face showed no signs of terror nor fright. The man felt immense regret. He had no choice but to accept that he had completely misread her. She was not so fragile nor merciful that she would back down because of threats to that prince.

It was impossible to tell if she knew what he was thinking, but she smiled as though she had waited for that exact question.

“It’s simple. First, release Prince Hinoki. Second, stop your troops in Triht.”

He snorted.

“What part of that is simple.”

“It’s terribly simple. I can’t understand what part isn’t.”

Anger surged up at her carefree response.

“Then let’s say I release him. Are you telling me to send him to I’Jibro? Even if he’s a child, I can’t imagine a person who had his country stolen from him twice is fit to rule. He’s just going to get locked up somewhere again.”

It was impossible to let go of I’Jibro now. Doing so now would be the same as withholding reward from his soldiers. The man’s strong point was the army in his grasp. If he neglected his soldiers, then his footing would become shaky in no time.
But the woman flapped her hand dismissively.

“I’m not telling you to send him to I’Jibro, nor did I say to make him king.”

“What?”

“I’ve actually met him already. As long as you accept one condition, he’ll hand I’Jibro over to you.”

The man raised an eyebrow.

“What condition?”

“The guarantee of the position and assets of the I’Jibro commoners. If you seize assets from the nobles, you’ll have enough to offset the funds out used to take over I’Jibro, won’t you?”

Although it had fallen under his rule, I’Jibro was a bountiful nation, unlike Yohk’Zai which was nothing but sand. The fortunes of the I’Jibro nobles were massive. Just as the woman said, these funds would be more than enough.

Perhaps she guessed his thoughts, because the woman looked down and spoke.

“To Prince Hinoki, who should have been locked in that tower for life, do you know what his greatest treasure is?”

“Can’t say I do.”

“A map, he said. A world map. He would always stare at it and think to himself that if by some miracle he ever left that tower, he would travel the entire world. He has no interest in the throne. Instead, he despises it. Is it really that strange once you think about it? Because of that throne, he was locked up for a second time.”

The man sighed.
There were no demerits to following her idea, but he didn’t want to do as she told him to.

“Then what about Triht? That country is apparently frozen now. Wouldn’t their citizens be happier under our rule? At the very least, they would be able to live without starving. I’ll say this first, but I’m not giving them fire stones. That lot from Triht first asked us for aid, then the next time they began speaking nonsense about sending them fire stones. Those fire stones might not be worth much in Yohk’Zai, but they need to be handled carefully. Are you telling me to have them carried up those damned mountains for free?”

“It’s fine. I can’t say that they’ll give as much gold and silver as you want, but Triht can be of use to Yohk’Zai.”

The man furrowed his brows.

“It’s impossible for them to have anything like that.”

It was because they didn’t that they declared war with Yohk’Zai.

“Triht has exceptional blacksmithing. The Triht swords are currently very popular in Jebas. As you know, Jebas is a bountiful country that people often call a paradise. In fact, even their culture is a few steps ahead of other nations. And yet Jebas still can’t create a sword as sharp as Triht’s, and are trying to buy as many of them as they can.”

The man recalled the face of the young Triht king, who was the very model of honesty.

“That Setsugen is terrible at negotiations. If he had something like that, he should have mentioned it sooner. I’ll buy those swords. No need to deal with Jebas.”

The woman laughed.

“You must be joking. Who on earth would give fangs and claws to the very beast trying to hunt them down?”

“So you want to say that Jebas is safe, then? It’s because they’re so plentiful that they might be aiming for hegemony.”

“No need to worry. Jebas is a religious nation. Invading another country goes against the first of their 47 precepts. Even a king wouldn’t be forgiven if they violated this. Jebas is a sleeping dragon. And that dragon is holding Triht’s sword. You have no chance of winning.”

The man ground his teeth as he glared at her. She smiled triumphantly in return.

“Well? You don’t have any reason to confine Prince Hinoki or attack Triht anymore, do you?”

“Aye. Exactly as you say.”

When he spat that out, the woman’s eyes looked at him hopefully.

“Then-”

But he thrust the plate of snacks right in front of those eyes.

“But I think I’ll refuse. I do regret having to give these back to you though.”

His desires were not limited to just I’Jibro or Jebas. With those two nations in his hand, he could destroy even larger nations.

――It was no big deal. All he had to do was destroy Triht before they could complete the swords. He had the initiative.

The woman sighed sadly.

“Don’t misunderstand. I didn’t come here to ask you a favour.”

She stared right at him.

“I came here to threaten you. You have no choice except to obey. Isn’t that right――Karasu?”

“Karasu? Who is that supposed to be…?”

When he heard that name, his vision went blurry, and he only remained standing by force of will.
He couldn’t let her see his discomposure. He pretended to remain calm, but just how successful had he been?”

“Kyousui is healthy, by the way. She’s living happily with Huuron. Ah, that reminds me, I think she’s pregnant too. Doesn’t that make you happy as her older brother?”

Ignoring the man――ignoring Karasu――the woman continued to blather on and on.

With the snack dish still in hand, he sat down atop the gorgeous rug spread by the pond’s edge.

Tenuhg was still the Hero of Yohk’Zai to them. Even that cunning Teo Keh had blindly followed him too.
It was clear as day what would happen if the woman he himself declared as a goddess, went and announced to the world that he was an imposter.

“…How long have you known?”

It was pointless to resist any further. Having judged so, Karasu surrendered.

“I guess… since you gave me the earrings?”

“Hah. I really am filled with awe. So you knew everything from the start.”

“Not everything. I always thought it was weird when I realised that stains on the earrings were blood. You should have been wearing them for over ten years, so why would you bleed that much?

“My suspicions only grew larger after you gave me that mantle. Since it seemed expensive, I wanted to return it, and I was connected to none other than Kyousui… and a man with red earrings.

“You know, this window connects me to the person I want to see.

“That’s why I was puzzled about it.

“As for when I was sure that he was the real Huuron, it happened a little earlier when I met the Prince of Jebas.

“――Things you receive without paying back for will end up hindering you――

“I always thought that it was a saying of Yohk’Zai, but that’s not right, is it. The Prince of Jebas told me that it was a saying passed down in a certain village in Yohk’Zai.

“And I had heard this same saying from the man who had been with Kyousui.”

The earrings and mantle he gave as payments had completely divulged his lies.

“I guess the earrings really weren’t enough.”

To think that the dated aphorism from his home town would come true and actually hinder him…
A laugh of self-mockery escaped Karasu’s lips.

“Perhaps they weren’t.”

The woman simply shrugged.

“Just to let you know, Huuron won’t agree to becoming King.”

“I could tell that from a glance. Rather than his grandfather, he’s more like his father, isn’t he. That’s why you helped him escape with your sister, right? I doubt it was purely kindness and familial love that drove you thought.”

Karasu snorted again.

It was just as she said. When the soldiers turned up looking for Iyoh’s son, Karasu realised from Huuron’s personal history that this was an opportunity of a lifetime.
It wasn’t that he had no feelings for his sister, and Huuron, his childhood friend. But his desire for advancement had been a greater driving factor than his worry for them.

“So you can just keep living as Huuron, the King of Yohk’Zai. As long as you release Prince Hinoki, and make peace with Triht, that is.”

――I see. A threat.

Karasu sighed. How could he refuse.

“Ah, also, I also have a few things I want your help with. Don’t worry, it’s all really simple stuff.”

This woman’s ‘simple’ was always anything but.

“What do you want?” asked Karasu, a little wearily.

“Did you know that some of the underground water currents have changed? It’s causing problems in eastern Insen.

Worse, the arrijighock that the Ottko Yu use, actually feed on those Sunarabi, and have moved away as well.”

“Don’t tell me that since the arrijighock have followed the sunarabi to Insen, you want me to prepare that land for them? If you’re fine with me destroying Insen, I don’t mind helping out though.”

The woman shook her hands in panic.

“No, that’s not it! Why did you suddenly come to such a crazed conclusion.”

After giving a tired sigh, the woman continued speaking.

“The sunarabi aren’t going to Insen. A few of them have, but they’ll disappear from there before long. That’s what Mira told me… aah, umm, Mira is a helper I have in the Kingdom of Insen.
She’s a genius, but she’s also kind of a scatterbrain, but anyway, she’s definitely really knowledgeable and she was certain that the sunarabi wouldn’t be coming to Insen. By the way, do you know of the Witch in Black of I’Jibro?”

“Is it a story of a witch that takes away bad children? Like any other made-up story to discipline children?”

The woman shook her head.

“According to Mira, the true form of the Witch in Black is actually the arrijighock. In the past, the arrijighock appeared as far as the I’Jibro Capital. A number of children really went missing. But right now they don’t leave the Ottko Yu area in the north. And that’s not because the Ottko Yu tribe have been making them stay there.

“The sand, huh.”

Karasu answered it for her.

“Correct! The sunarabi that appeared in Insen hated mud. Both the sunarabi and the arrijighock can only live in dry land.”

There was water underground. He finally knew what she wanted.

“You’re demanding I give them a place to live?”

“You say it rather harshly, but yes.”

The woman grumbled with a frown.
Karasu crossed his arms and sneered.

“Even if I have I’Jibro, Yohk’Zai is still a poor nation. The lands I have to give are limited as well. If I invite tribes from outside, I’ll be finished even without your little tricks! Are you telling me to do a double suicide with the Ottko Yu tribe?”

“No. Of course it won’t be for free. I’ll have the Ottko Yu tribe work as well?’

“Work?”

“Yes, they used to use the arrijighock to dig wells in the desert. I’ll have them do it again.”

“Are you telling me to change desert into fertile land? We’ll starve before anything sprouts.”

“Of course I wouldn’t ask for the impossible like that. But you can at least create an oasis, right?”

Karasu frowned. There were a number of oases. While he had been lost in the desert, that oasis city he visited was one of them. Not only that, but there were merchants who travelled between the Capital to each oasis.
Though those journeys were never as tough as the ones Karasu and his fellow villagers had braves themselves, often using routes plagued with aridity and bandits.

“So let’s create oases and establish trade routes!”

While he was caught off guard, she pressed him further.

“Moonstones from I’Jibro, zhaltkane from Insen, hahanero and glass from Jebas, frostsnow grass from Triht, coconasso from Tohji, and zora bean from Sunayu. Don’t you think trade could improve the living standards of every country? Right now the Tohji King is after zhaltkane for his new wife, and Jebas is particularly hungry for moonstones. As for Yohk’Zai, they need hahanero to keep arrijighock away as well. Even the frostsnow grass that you made fun of has its share of demand. After all, it really does make cheap wine taste like fine wine!”

Karasu was taken aback as the woman insisted with clenched fists.

“So you’re going to establish some oases, use the soldiers you prepared to invade Triht to protect merchants, and in exchange you can tax them, or charge a bodyguard’s feed, or demand recompense.”

“And also,” she continued,

“It won’t only be goods crossing the desert. People can be moved too. Most urgently, we’ll be able to move skilled water engineers across the desert from Tohji, to help protect Insen from water damage. Mira of Insen, and King Cornou of Tohji. If the geniuses of the east and west rack their brains together, I think most problems can be solved. No, I’ll definitely have them solve everything.”

Just how on earth was this simple…

Karasu could feel a headache coming on. Bringing his cup to his lips, he drained the liquor in one gulp.

“So you plan to use me as a manservant.”

“Why are you always so harsh with your words. I’m telling you to join hands with everybody, so that everybody benefits together.”

With empty cup in hand, Karasu stood up again.
Pointing at the mysterious frame she was in, he glared at her.

“Then get out from there. Just like the people living here, live on the ground and crawl through the mud like the rest of us.”

“No.”

The woman flatly refused.

“Arrogance! How can you talk about joining hands with everybody. when you alone just spectate and give orders!”

Watching him spit out these words, the woman simply tilted her head in wonder.

“Goodness. Aren’t you the one that called me a goddess? Don’t you know that gods are completely selfish and wilful? All the more so for goddesses,” she declared quite plainly.

His eyes widened, and he was lost for words.

The people worshipped the gods, but the gods were never with the people.

“Ku… Kukuhahahaha!”

For some reason it all suddenly felt unbearably funny, and he began to roar in laughter.

The reason that he swapped places with Huuron was not simply because he sought riches.
He had wanted to test himself. He had wanted to see how far he could go.

But that would end as a fruitless dream.

Karasu reached out for the plate that she now held in her hand, and popped a small slice into his mouth.
The delicious taste of this new snack, tasted more bitter than anything before.

“Aye, you most certainly are a goddess. Now then, O cruel Goddess of mine. Shall we release that Prince first?”

Karasu threw away the cup in his hand, and began to walk forth.

――3rd King of Yohk’Zai, King Huuron

Before the outbreak of war with Triht, he made peace, and avoided bloodshed.

Through these actions, he revived the economy of not only his own country, but those of the neighbouring countries as well.
Together with his later exploits, these achievements caused him to be famed as the Sacred Kingdom of Yohk’Zai’s strongest and greatest king――

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