While I returned to the farm with Mariage, Puffer and the others stayed behind to continue recovering the weather-beaten automatons in the lab for reuse.
The orcs and goblins who came back one after another had automatons on their shoulders.
They must be the relatively undamaged ones they retrieved from the pile of wreckage.
“Even after your death, the remaining automaton followed the blueprint to produce its own kind, increasing its numbers…”
“Did it really continue my 10,000 Automaton Mass Production Project…?”
The creator is now just one giant doll head, sitting beside me, watching the scene.
“I changed my plan to become a giant automaton via a data transfer. It probably didn’t understand that I retracted my order. This is why prototypes are flawed!” he says, his voice strained. “But what are you going to do with all those inferior dolls?”
“We’ll reuse them as manpower.”
Mariage’s eyes flicker at my immediate response.
He reacts mechanically now and then, like so.
“Oh? You seem promising to have an eye for my invention!”
Is he happy his research is getting attention?
“But you’re all amateurs. Do you think you can easily utilize my research?”
“Even though No. 1 produced them in my place, I still designed those dolls. Their complex framework is incomparable to a water wheel or a carriage. It’d take a genius as good as me to maintain those dolls and make them work as ordered. And I’m sure not many people in the world can do that!”
A person(?) who wants to brag at every opportunity.
Well, I understand what he means.
The automaton’s infrastructure is based on this world’s magic technology, but it also seems to have an engineering aspect.
It’s too much for the average person in this world.
I can understand why Mariage is proud that no one but him is up to the task, but…
“That’s the 52nd.”
It’s easy to forget these days, but I have a gift from the gods: The Hand of Supremacy.
It can bring out the maximum performance of whatever I touch, including fixing automatons.
Recently, I’ve been blessed with friends and tools that I’ve been able to do a lot without relying on my ability.
It’s both a happy and a sad thing.
For that, it’s nice to have the opportunity to rely on Hephaestus’ gift once in a while.
Seeing his designs being remodified one after another, Mariage lets out a shout.
“How? You analyzed the framework I spent my whole life inventing so easilyyyyy!”
“Well, it felt like assembling Gunp*a…”
I decided to have the automatons do some simple farmwork first.
They obediently followed the instructions I gave on checking the weeds and crops for diseases.
“Wow… what humiliation to have my masterpiece used for field labor! They’re meant to change the world!”
Or so he grumbles, but he’s still somewhat frivolous deep inside.
“…Are they of any help?”
“…Are the automatons I made useful?”
“Ah. They do their work steadily and decently. The fact that they can make simple decisions is especially helpful.”
“Right? Right??? The judgment apparatus built into their heads is the main point!!!”
I knew it. His heart jumps for joy to have his work appreciated by others for the first time.
…Maybe the groundwork I prepared might be effective after all.
As to what kind of groundwork it is…
He’s already here.
You’re fast, Demon King. I literally just contacted you.
“I can’t help but rush over when I receive an invitation. Besides, I’ve always been in your debt…”
Mariage instantaneously reacts to the demon’s appearance.
“He’s the Demon King?! This… Typically-strong-looking man?!”
“Indeed, I’m Zedan, the demon king of this generation.”
Demon King dignifiedly interacts with the absurdly large, almost like objet d’art in bad taste, head.
The good thing about him is that he’s serious all the time.
“Are those the dolls you made that move by themselves?”
He carefully observes the automatons working in the field and says, “What magnificent technology. They move and think for themselves. If this becomes widespread, I’m sure it will revolutionize the world’s labor situation.”
“I’ve heard about what happened. As his successor, I regret that the Demon King of that time made a hasty decision. As rulers, we should take our people’s voices more seriously.”
“Oh, no… Just hearing those words is enough to repay my 150 years of hard work! It’s too great of an honor!”
As soon as he was praised, his attitude changed abruptly.
“In the current Demon Kingdom, there’s an organization for researching and inventing new magic. If you’d like, how about contributing your works there?”
“Demon King… How merciful you are! I’m not very talented, but I’m willing to do anything to help!”
He was given the cold shoulder in his lifetime but was eventually rewarded across generations.
His once-ignored hard work has been acknowledged.
Puffer, who had remained at the lab all this time, has returned.
In her hands are an automaton’s remains.
“Huh? Isn’t this too broken?”
The standard for automatons to be collected from the lab was that they should be relatively undamaged.
However, the one Puffer brought back is a total loss and seemed impossible for even the Hand of Supremacy to fix it.
“I didn’t bring it back for that purpose.”
“What is it for then?”
“It’s a special one since I destroyed it myself. It took me a while to find it.”
What’s the significance of this particularly battered automaton?
The answer came from none other than Mariage.
“Is that No. 1, the very first automaton I made…?”
“That’s right. When we first came to your lab, this was the one who greeted us. While you were busy doing your transfer and all the while thinking you were dead, it kept protecting that lab.”
When I asked what had destroyed it, she said Songokufon bombed it out of fear.
That crazy angel…
“I brought it here because I thought it was a special thing, or rather, companion, to you.”
It was created at the hands of an unfortunate genius, spent most of its life with him, and continued to serve its master even after his death. I thought I saw a glint of light in its mechanical eyes, close to crumbling.
“M… Ma… M4ster…”
Mariage is now its fellow automaton, and that too, only as a head after his body was crushed.
“Go0d morn!ng… Tod4y is a g0od day… L3t me make y0u breakf4st…”
“Right! I remember! You used to prepare my meals… You really listened to everything I said!”
“It is c0ld out her3… Y0u must return to y0ur qu4rters… And ke3p yourself w4rm…”
“You’re right. Let’s go home. I’ve been acknowledged. I have no more regrets. As long as I have you!”
“L3t us… Let us go home.”
A pale light shines down from the heavens.
As if guided by it, something like a vision emerged from the two dolls’ remains: a dull-looking man and a brand-new shiny doll.
The two stand side by side, ascending as if guided by the heavenly light before disappearing beyond the horizon.
At the same time, the life force disappeared from their bodies’ remains.
Everyone who witnessed the event understood that they would never move again.
“…They ascended to heaven?!”
I was shocked to see a phenomenon that could only be interpreted as such.
“…Wait, wait, wait! Can automatons even go to heaven?!”
“Dolls have souls?!”
“Did the alchemist not only transfer his memories but his soul as well?!”
“The first doll had a soul of its own???”
“Moreover, they went to heaven! Isn’t the underworld underground?!”
These comments aside, they are no longer in the living world.
All is well as long as they’re content.
24/07/23 update: so sorry to those who saw chapter 352. i schedule 1-1.5 mos worth of chapters in advance every month and forgot to set the date for 352 before publishing, haha (not haha)