Chapter 190: A generous(?) reward
Chapter 190: A generous(?) reward
“…This is the diagnosis of this time’s abnormality of the Spirit temple from the Kuzunoha Company. I who was in that place, think that it is safe to assume that there was no lie in their words.”
“Hm, a warped power that made even High Spirits intoxicated had occurred at the altar huh. This is clearly the act of someone.”
“Yes. As Shiki-dono said, it seems a catalyst that dissolves into the air was used, and it is some sort of strong ritual magic that lasts for several days. The crime was probably done…by someone from a power that’s hostile to his Majesty.”
“No doubt. In the first place, there’s no mobilization party from the hyuman side in this capital, and there were no unusual movements from the organizations and the temple of the Goddess. In that case, this one can only think that this was an inside job.” (Zef)
At that time when the night was soon and waiting for the banquet; the Demon Lord Zef,m several civil officials, his close aides the Demon General Io and Rona were there as well and hearing the report.
The ones reporting were two of the Demon Lord’s children.
Lucia and Sari.
They were guiding the Kuzunoha Company party to the Spirit temple, and were involved in an incident. The two were witness of the whole incident and had returned to the castle.
They have just finished reporting the details of it.
Sari responded to all the questions Zef did without hesitation, and Zef affirmed the answers of Sari as if he already knew the one pulling the strings beforehand.
“But two High Spirits were unable to wound Raidou once huh. So being called Devil isn’t just for show or a bluff. From what this one has heard, one of his attacks killed around 4 digits of common soldiers. Seriously, this one wished that was only excessive rumors. But to look at it exaggeratedly and realize that it was even higher than that…” (Zef)
“…The power of those people rival that of a large country, no, if we are to take it more prudently, it would be safe to assume that they have enough to be a third power in this war. No matter how out of control they were, those three were able to cut through that garden of maddened Spirits with those refreshing faces, and suppressed Behemoth and Phoenix.” (Sari)
“If one follower of his is on the level of a High Spirit, we can’t deny their uncommon power. But Rona, from your report, that person called Shiki was only on the level of being a powerful Lich, though?” (Zef)
Zef’s words were directed towards Rona who was at the side.
“Yes, it is certainly true that Shiki person is supposed to be possessed by Larva. In these several years, he hasn’t made contact with us though. This is unbelievable. The Lich Larva should have already reached the limit of the power he could have. There’s no way he would be able to defeat an Earth High Spirit no matter how strong he got. To go against Behemoth with the power of an undead is just…it would be like trying to extinguish a fire mountain with a torch. Something stupid and unbelievable. I can only call it reckless.” (Rona)
“There might have been moments when he barely made it out alive, but in the middle of it, Shiki-dono showed splendid swordsmanship and used several prohibited curse magic at the same time, as he dealt with Behemoth. Whether it is his close combat ability, or his powerful magic…I can’t believe he is a Lich.” (Lucia)
Lucia who was silent until now, reacted to the words of confusion from Rona, and spoke of Shiki’s fighting style.
“Sword…It gets further and further away from the image of Larva. It seems that the situation I had grasped was probably not the truth. I will be investigating Shiki once again.” (Rona)
“Umu. But do it in a peaceful manner. This one prohibits violent methods.” (Zef)
“And Sari, what did the Spirit-donos say? They returned to their senses, right?” (Zef)
“Yes. They said that they intended to test their abilities anyways, so it was convenient.” (Sari)
Io makes a short mutter of amazement.
“Mio-dono scolded them severely at times, but the conversation mostly proceeded in a calm manner.” (Sari)
“Fumu. Well, they did seem to have an interest in them, so this one did think that there was a chance it would happen. And?” (Zef)
Without touching the topic of Mio, Zef urges her to continue.
“In the end, they made a promise of giving them a call when they were in trouble; Phoenix promised to Mio-dono, and Behemoth to Shiki-dono.” (Sari)
“Kuku, is that so. Seriously, it is steadily getting out of hand, that company.” (Zef)
“It seems they spoke about some other topics afterwards, but we were told to check on the state of the survivors, and had no choice but to leave the place. We don’t know what conversation they had.” (Sari)
“It’s fine. Now then, it seems our plans here have stabilized more.” (Zef)
Zef had an expression as if confirming his thoughts.
Looking at this, Sari opens her eyes wide and speaks.
“Excuse my rudeness, but did his Majesty already notice the abnormality in the temple beforehand?” (Sari)
“…Umu. No, it was only to the extent that this one had suspicions of it.” (Zef)
“And the actions that Kuzunoha Company took as well?” (Sari)
“This one thought that you would be able to drag them along and have them interfere with it.” (Zef)
“…And their power as well?” (Sari)
“About that point, this one was expecting you two to bring out as much as you could. If the abnormality was to the level that this one thought of, this one was sure your group would be able to come back without any problems.” (Zef)
“Raidou-dono, that man, in a precarious situation where they were dealing with Behemoth, and Phoenix had intruded, he said it was ‘lucky’. That it saved them the trouble of one more dungeon. Your Majesty! Did you feel that much power in Raidou-dono?!” (Sari)
“…Fuh, ‘lucky’ huh. What scary words he says. No, this one didn’t think it would be to this extent. In the first place, this one didn’t think that the two High Spirits had gone mad as well. If this one knew the situation was to such extent, this one would have taken the army and subjugated it myself. This one had prepared for it as well. Right? Io and Rona.” (Zef)
Io and Rona assent at Zef’s words.
Sari breathed out in relief.
“I see. We only considered them dangerous people, so I was bothered about how much your Majesty had understood of them. Please forgive my rudeness.” (Sari)
“This one doesn’t think of it as rude. Don’t mind it. But the number one problem was as expected, the timing huh.” (Zef)
“There’s only a limited amount of people that know the date and time that Kuzunoha Company would be visiting the temples. In that case, it means that the people that have used that information to push a coup d’etat, are people that are close to this one. A Spirit rampage that even involved the High Spirits, from the details of it, it wasn’t an incident caused impulsively. People that were able to pull it off as a plan, had grasped a relative amount of information, and were trying to involve the Kuzunoha Company; guests that this one had invited myself.” (Zef)
Tension ran through the place.
The words of the Demon Lord were said as if someone in that place ‘might’ be the one responsible.
“Good grief, this is a problem this one would like to resolve by spring. Even if it isn’t a situation on the level of Kuzunoha Company.” (Zef)
“Your Majesty, as we have made our guests work this much, we also have to show some form of decency.” (Io)
“This one knows, Io. Regarding that, Rona had already told Shiki to a certain level. Right, Rona?” (Zef)
“Yes, I certainly did tell him. But wasn’t that supposed to be the reward for the friendly match?” (Rona)
“We will put a bit more color to it, and give them something that’s one step higher. From what I have seen, Raidou was a person that feels debt towards this type of gestures. This one doesn’t know if Shiki will comply to it, but there’s no doubt that his words hold the most weight to Raidou. At least, if we were to convince him, there will be no problem.” (Zef)
“That’s true.” (Rona)
“Even so, don’t do anything reckless. Maybe we should make it as if the state of affairs is complicated and give it to them. Looking at the circumstances, they shouldn’t think that the demon race is wealthy after all.” (Zef)
This Lord is facing the Kuzunoha Company, and creating a method that fits their personalities.
“Then about the friendly match—” (Lucia)
When Lucia was about to change the topic and was about to talk about the event that she herself would be involved in, the Demon Lord stops those words while maintaining his smile.
“Before that, there’s something this one wants to confirm with you two. Let’s hear your opinions now that you have accompanied them today. If this one were to tell you to marry Raidou, what would you do?” (Zef)
“No problem.” (Lucia)
Lucia was the first to make an instant reply.
“Instant reply huh. That was quite the quick change of heart.” (Zef)
“We can’t leave those people unchecked. Just like your Majesty has said, and just like what Sari has said as well; this is the truth. If someone like me will be of use, I will do my best to make sure that power doesn’t turn to the demon race.” (Lucia)
“Fumu. Sari, what about you?” (Zef)
“I…can’t marry Raidou-dono.” (Sari)
Zef looks at Sari with interest.
The people around were surprised by the rejection of Sari who was positive about the marriage.
“That proposal will most likely have a reverse effect on Raidou-dono.” (Sari)
“Why? No matter if it’s hyuman or demon, being given to marriage is a sign of a good relation. In times, it also serves to mediate the disputes of races, though?” (Zef)
“It’s because of Mio-dono. Compared to Shiki-dono, she is a person that moves honestly to her feelings. And she has feelings for Raidou-dono. That’s how I saw it. In that case, marriage wouldn’t be a nice topic for her. If Mio-dono alone were to think of interfering with the demon race in secret, it might create enormous damage.” (Sari)
“…Does she prioritize her emotions to that level? She is a close aide of Raidou, you know?” (Zef)
“She does. Compared to the demon race, the Kuzunoha Company seemed to give quite a lot of freedom. I think that something would happen before things were settled.” (Sari)
“Hm…that’s a bit out of expectations. This one thought that everyone below Raidou had to follow his will definitely.” (Zef)
“Also, Raidou is a lot more than what your Majesty thinks of.” (Sari)
“A lot more what?” (Zef)
“Childish. I felt like he was a late blooming man. At the very least, that’s the impression I have of him when it is peaceful.” (Sari)
“Childish and late blooming huh.” (Zef)
“Then wouldn’t marriage be an adequate plan? This one doesn’t think a childish person would be able to easily have fights of life and death, but…thinking about the talk that night, you certainly do have a point.” (Zef)
“But your Majesty, I have already planted a seed. Looking at him today, I think that there’s something that can bind Raidou better than marriage. Can you please leave it to me?” (Sari)
Lucia makes a rebuke.
Kuzunoha Company’s Raidou.
This is not a matter that can be left to Lucia or Sari who are still in the middle of learning.
This is something that involves the whole future of the demon race, so the strict tone of Lucia is proper.
“…Do you have confidence in it?” (Zef)
“Tell me in detail.” (Zef)
“…I will give the details after the people have been cleared out.” (Sari)
The gazes of Sari and Zef clash directly.
Both were serious, and created an atmosphere that cannot be interrupted.
After Zef took his eyes off first, Sari continued to look at him for a while and does a small nod. After that, there was silence where no words were spoken.
“Rona, this one told you this before, but there’s a traitor within the limited people around. Look for the traitor. Don’t let it affect tomorrow’s match.” (Zef)
“Umu. Io, this one will be doing a small modification to the friendly match. Keeping in mind the matter of the temples, this one wants to put more restrictions to the audience that will be spectating. Also, about the ones participating. Sari, you be on standby at this one’s room. Lucia, you can return, also, don’t come to tomorrow’s match. Looking at someone that has already given up wouldn’t serve as reference after all. This one will entrust you with the training of the units all day.” (Zef)
At Zef’s words, there were affirmative responses from each of them.
Lucia bit her lips, but didn’t object.
Because she has already seen the power of Raidou and Kuzunoha Company, it isn’t that necessary to look at the matches.
Leaving aside if such intentions of Zef had gone through, Lucia nodded and returned a response.
“After that’s finished, this one has to talk with Raidou-dono. Even though it was within expectations, these guests really do make things busy.” (Zef)
“It is great that you say this. Raidou-dono has practically saved this capital after all. You have accepted the friendly match and now this; no matter how many times this one lowers his head, it wouldn’t be enough.” (Zef)
“N-No no! There’s no need for his Majesty to do that. I mostly had my followers do all the work. It is truly great that Lucia-san and Sari-san are not injured.” (Makoto)
Zef is currently right beside me.
Right beside the Lord-sama.
The taste of the food is harder to feel than yesterday.
And while at it, I can’t even feel my stomach filling up.
It is being directly distributed to me, and the scale is smaller than last night, and has more people participating.
It is a method that’s not that pleasant for me.
“You even investigated the cause of it. It would be fine to be more prideful of it though. Hm, your cup was already empty. Sorry for not noticing.” (Zef)
“I have already been given a lot, so uhm…I will take more. Please, your Majesty as well.” (Makoto)
I look at the liquid that’s already being poured and just give up.
In this kind of situations, it is a matter of how to refuse it.
I thought that if I stopped drinking, it would be over, but Zef pointed that it was empty and began pouring more.
I give up.
“Thanks. Well you see, there’s few occasions where this one can drink with someone. It even makes me feel as if Raidou-dono is my very child.” (Zef)
What is this person saying so casually.
He is definitely not drunk.
After hearing the thought transmission of those two these morning, these all sounds like nothing but pretense.
“Don’t you already have two dependable sons? Ahaha.” (Makoto)
“Roshe and Sem huh. It is true that they are working hard. But what great teaching produces is mostly prodigies. Those two as well. As expected, someone with peerless talent like Raidou-dono just…doesn’t appear. Well Sari is still a bit young but how about it? If you want to have one of them, or even if you take both of them, it would make me have more peace of mind.” (Zef)
…The topic doesn’t change.
What’s with this person.
“Please stop the jokes. I am a hyuman.” (Makoto)
“If it’s someone with power, race doesn’t matter. I won’t go as far as asking you for a grandchild, you know? Hm?” (Zef)
Don’t ‘hm’ me.
I am not thinking about marriage in the first place.
“I really think that it is a good offer, but right now I am still unskilled as a merchant. So I will have to refuse.” (Makoto)
“Is it no good?” (Zef)
I was troubled in how to say it, but I decided to firmly refuse.
If I say it vaguely, he wouldn’t step back after all.
“No matter what?” (Zef)
“No matter what.” (Makoto)
Zef turns silent.
Maybe I soured his mood.
But this is too much.
I can’t just marry like this.
“Then there’s no helping it.” (Zef)
“It is regrettable, but it must be because my daughters couldn’t catch the eye of Raidou-dono. In other words, they lacked charm. If their power wasn’t enough, the result was obvious.” (Zef)
“I-I see.” (Makoto)
Talking about power here as well?!
Or more like, he easily stepped back.
I am happy, but it also makes me feel a bit uneasy.
Is this a Demon Lord quality, no, Zef quality?
“Even if Lucia looks that way, she has quite the well-developed body you know. When she doesn’t wear that armor of hers, she does have a womanly body. It harmonizes well when she has a dress on but…since she is a soldier, it is certainly true that she is lacking in terms of womanliness. At this rate, I feel like nobody might want her and it makes this one uneasy. If she is not to Raidou-dono’s taste, it can’t be helped.” (Zef)
With hyuman women receiving stronger blessings from the Goddess, it isn’t strange to have women soldiers, no, it is actually on the higher side. But when it comes to demi-humans and demons, there are difference in rates.
That there’s some is also related to the existence of magic, and a girl like Lucia-san who is at the top of the army is certainly something unusual.
I don’t know if they are blood related, but she is his daughter, and yet, what a way to say it.
Even if you say that, there’s no way I can nod to it!
Could it be he actually hasn’t given up yet?!
His expression is the same gentle smile so I can’t read him!
“This one does think there’s fun in learning from square one, but Raidou-dono isn’t at the age where you are able to enjoy that huh.” (Zef)
“Eh, your Majesty, uhm, aren’t you drinking a bit too much?” (Makoto)
He is definitely not drunk, and I can tell that the alcohol has nothing to do with it, but I blame it on the alcohol to make a follow-up.
“Then Sari must be no good either huh. She is truly at the stage where she will be turning into a woman. Even her body is immature. Is it that you don’t want to taste the immorality that can be achieved only at this point in time?” (Zef)
He is not stopping.
He will most likely blame it on the alcohol later, and the two who are the topic of the conversation have stopped their hands and are trembling.
That’s right, he is shouting with quite the loud voice.
Could it be that the Demon Lord actually likes to joke around?
I do know of Rembrandt-san who is a father with daughters, but he normally faces terrible consequences after he does things like this.
I will be running away but, you do have the resolve right?
I won’t be stopping it even if you ask for help later, you know?
“Honestly speaking, even if you talk to me about marrying Sari, it just doesn’t click. There wasn’t any noble or royalty around me that has married at an early age, so…” (Makoto)
Let’s go with the common sense.
I will at least try not to rub those girls in the wrong way.
“Then Raidou-dono, what kind of woman is your taste?” (Zef)
“My taste?! E-Ehm, a girl that is candid but has womanly gestures?” (Makoto)
“A girl that does her best in training?” (Makoto)
“No well, it is just a ‘what if’ though.” (Makoto)
What am I even saying?
I have drunk too much.
It is true that it has been a repetition of drinking all and being poured more, so I have drunk quite a lot of strong alcohol.
“Fumu, does that mean Mio-dono is that type of girl?” (Zef)
I get surprised by the nonchalant utterance of Zef and look at Mio.
I don’t know if she is listening to the conversation, but I feel like Mio’s back is unnaturally straight.
Should I confirm with thought transmission…no, confirming something like that feels wrong.
“W-Why is Mio mentioned now?” (Makoto)
“No well, she is such a beautiful woman after all. It is obvious that you have put your hands on her already, so this one just thought that it might be the case.” (Zef)
What’s that about obviously putting my hands on her?
I definitely have not!
“She is…a subordinate. Also, how to say it, we have a relationship close to that of family, so I have ended up saying something that I normally wouldn’t. I am sorry.” (Makoto)
I apologize for the words that the alcohol has made me say.
I am beginning to feel like I can’t lower my guard to any of Zef’s words.
It is tiring.
Even if this is a banquet, even when this is a drinking party where we are the spotlight, it is incredibly tiring.
“Hahaha, it is this one who has to apologize for saying such unsavory things. This one also apologizes.” (Zef)
So he is aware of it?
He is the worst, hey.
Saying that, Zef shifts his seat towards me, and closes himself to a point where his body is in contact with mine.
And then, from his pocket, he takes out something cylindrical.
It is not big.
It is a long and thin cylinder.
Ah, it is like the cylinders used to put in honorable certificates.
Does that mean, it is a document?
After that, he takes out a board that is slightly thick and places it on the table.
I don’t know the material of it, but there seems to be something carved on it.
It looks like paper money.
When I tried to confirm the details of what was engraved, Zef explained it to me.
“You see, this is a transit permit that allows you to free passage to all the towns and cities within the demon race territory. There’s a number of types for it, but this has the same authority that a few in the upper stratum of the demon race army possess. Specifically speaking, you can make contact with the central part of the demon race.” (Zef)
“I see.” (Makoto)
A transit permit. The quite impressive type at that huh.
Are the demons properly doing things like mobilizing the residents and refugees?
“And, this one here is…” (Zef)
Nodding to my words of understanding, Zef takes out a paper from the cylinder.
It is a high grade-looking paper.
It seems like something is written on it.
From where I am, I can’t read everything though.
“This is something that allows the Kuzunoha Company to do business tax-free in the demon race territory. This was issued formally, you know. It is well-known that this seal is something that only this one can mark, so problems and disputes will most likely not occur.” (Zef)
“Hm, Kuzunoha Company’s… Kuzunoha Company?!” (Makoto)
A permit to do business in the demon race territory?!
And no tax at that?!
“Umu. Of course, I will be giving you the transit permit as well.” (Zef)
That impressive transit note as well?!
Eh, is this possibly what Shiki said about ‘receiving something’?
Ah, no, is this because of the matter with the temple?
“Hm, this one thought that this one was showing a relative amount of good will though. Was it not enough?” (Zef)
“…I was surprised for receiving so much. It makes me wonder if I actually did something so impressive to receive all these things.” (Makoto)
“Didn’t you accept the friendly match? And not only did you resolve the situation at the temple, you also saved my two daughters. It is my gratitude for those.” (Zef)
Even so, I think this is impressive.
“Later, this one will be putting it in order, but there’s one more big thing.” (Zef)
There’s still more?!
Moreover, the normal procedure is to pass all the formalities before receiving the things. In other words, Zef has skipped all those procedures and has given me the things first.
It makes me think that he is forcing himself.
From the cylinder, Zef takes out one more paper.
This is…you are kidding, right?
“This is a map of our country, excluding the unexplored regions to the north. The major towns, and the paths are also recorded. This one does want you to understand that there’s classified information that’s not recorded here.” (Zef)
Just like Zef said, it is a map.
A map of the demon race territory that can be coupled with the hyuman map I have.
It is true that there are blank parts here and there, and even if he says there’s major towns and paths, there were parts where the path just suddenly cuts off on the way.
But it is clearly information that could be considered classified.
It is without doubt information that no other hyuman aside from me knows of.
By the way, Kaleneon is here as well.
Zef spreads out the map that has Stella Fortress at the southern tip, and then once again wraps it up and puts it inside the cylinder along with the business permit.
“Now then, these are already yours, Raidou-dono. If possible, this one wants you to put them to practical use, and circulate your goods to the other demon and demi-human towns. Of course, this one is also looking forward to Raidou-dono’s way of fighting tomorrow.” (Zef)
“Uhm, I will do my best.” (Makoto)
I have received incredible things after all.
No wonder Shiki told me to accept the match.
Even if we fight, our cards will not decrease that much, so this is clearly more profitable to receive.
“Please do so. Well then, from now on, let’s go without all the work and formality! Let’s begin from the talk about your taste in woman.” (Zef)
“Please spare me from that talk already!” (Makoto)
“Can’t do that. How can this one call himself a Demon Lord when this one can’t even reward properly the guest that has worked so hard at the temple?” (Zef)
“I have already received plenty!” (Makoto)
“No! At the very least, take one of my daughters.” (Zef)
We went back to square one?!
“Didn’t I refuse that already?! In the first place, that topic is mixed with work, you know!” (Makoto)
With the talking and alcohol, a night that felt like an infinite loop advanced on.