Dungeon Defense - Chapter 29
Empire Calendar: Year 1506, Month 4, Day 3
Bruno Plains, Army of the Crescent Alliance
The female and male dogs that I saw yesterday were mating today as well.
In the middle of the plain. While forcefully making those humans over there and the demons here into their audience, they were copulating in front of a massive army that was no less than two hundred thousand. The soldiers tossed stones at them and laughed. Although both the humans and demons were laughing, they were both too far away to actually hit the dogs, so within the field that couldn’t be touched, the mutts were able to mate freely.
⎯⎯ Do not throw stones!
⎯⎯ Behave, you scoundrels. The Gods are watching.
The noncommissioned officers lashed the bottoms of the soldiers. They cautioned them to not disturb the dogs. They said that it was imprudent. To me, it was vague whether the soldiers, who were throwing stones at the mutts when a war was about to unfold, were the ones who were imprudent, or the officers, who were going out of their way to scold the soldiers, were the ones who were actually imprudent. Do not throw stones······ stop throwing······. The sounds of stones being tossed and the sounds of urging resonated all the way to the far fields, and as it spread out far, it slowly extended the time of the field.
Farnese muttered flatly.
“They are late. Did you say it was the Imperial Princess Elizabeth?”
“That is right. Albeit, I expected her to come out right away.”
Us two, master and servant, were standing side by side and gazing at the human army encampment over on the other side of the plain.
The negotiation area where the Imperial Princess and I had played Go in this morning had completely burned down. The tent had turned into rubble and was sprawled out in the center of the field. The Crown Prince of the Empire and the descendants of the Margrave were most likely dead underneath those remains. Although we were unable to see the corpses from here, crows would occasionally swoop down and disappear between the rubble. I pictured in my mind the image of the crows pecking and eating away at the bare facial area of the Crown Prince who had his face skinned off. The meat which was earnestly skinned and cooked to a crisp most likely suited the taste of the crows.
Our speech had ended. It was now the Imperial Princess Elizabeth’s turn to give hers. Due to the fact that the Imperial Princess has still yet to show herself, the soldiers were passing their time with the mating dogs.
Every now and then, the soldiers of the demon army would jeer the lateness of the human army representative by shouting ‘Boo······’. Come out already, what are you doing, did they run away because they’re scared······? Despite that, the Imperial Princess did not reveal herself. Side by side, the copulating mutts, the corpse eating crows, and the soldiers that came here in order to go to war all appeared to be at leisure.
“Farnese, do you believe in God?”
“The Gods did not help this young lady even when her life was grim. Be it a God or a Devil, if they do not help this young lady, then what is there to care about? This young lady does not strain her nerves for needless things.”
Farnese looked this way.
“How about you, Lord? Do you believe in God?”
“Of course. It is difficult to find someone who is as purely devout as I am.”
“I see Your Lordship’s ridiculousness is bitter today.”
“I will see you after the speech is over.”
“For what reason does Your Lordship have to see this young lady later? This young lady is right before Your Lordship’s eyes at this very moment. Look at this young lady’s beautiful face as much as Your Lordship desires until you become tired of it. Oh, now that this young lady thinks about it, was Your Lordship not a eunuch who is unable to get aroused when looking at women besides Miss Lapis? Lord, this young lady apologizes. This young lady did not consider Your Lordship’s impotence. Since this young lady has ignored the situation of Your Lordship’s lower half, she cannot be truly referred to as your faithful subject.”
She’s quite elated just because she finished giving her speech.
Of course, in Farnese’s position, she must be delighted. Even if she had acted after having become my puppet, she was finally able to drop her name into the world. Her name will most likely be recorded in history as the revolutionist of the century. Different to Lapis and I, who pursued absolute authority, Farnese chased after reputation, and this very day was now her splendid anniversary day.
Similar to a young child who was delighted at having received a gift.
This girl known as Laura De Farnese was purely feeling pleased.
Despite the fact that she had actually driven mankind into an endless slaughter.
“This young lady’s speech was perfect.”
“To be exact, it would be correct to say that it was a speech that was achieved through the cooperation of Your Lordship and this young lady. Henceforth, the continent will be split into two ranks and the countryside will be strewn with corpses and drenched with blood. Is Your Lordship still worried about the woman known as Elizabeth despite that? Honestly speaking, this young lady is not afraid.”
I glanced at the plain spread out before us. There was no need to give an answer. Even if she were unaware now, she will see it for herself soon enough and will thus understand once she has witnessed it. Although there were many people in the world who were incapable of understanding something despite having seen it themselves, Farnese was my greatest pupil. She will be able to realize it well on her own.
The wind blew over the field. Woosh······. Due to the sudden shower that came down this morning, our vision could not reach out far and was forced to flicker within a close area. Everything was close. The rough palms of the noncommissioned officers which were striking the soldiers were close, the panting of the female and male dogs that were mating was close, and the violently flapping enemy flags on the other side of the field were close. Woooosh······. The wind blew for a moment, and the field became still after the drivel was swept away. I could sense that something was approaching.
“What are you referring to, Lord?”
“Watch well. That is your sworn enemy.”
Farnese tilted her head and turned towards the place I was gazing at. It was at the instant she had fully turned her gaze. Elizabeth’s speech started as if it were a gust of wind that was blowing from that side of the field to this.
⎯⎯ Soldiers of many nations, do not be fooled by the sweet whispers of the devil.
As if hundreds of thousands of soldiers were being guided by the wind, their gaze went towards the girl. We were unable to see the Imperial Princess herself because she was too far away, however, solely her voice felt endlessly near.
⎯⎯ They are all demons and monsters. Have you all not lost your parents, friends, and comrades to the wicked fangs of those monsters? Behold. For someone who is wearing the skin of humans, that girl is standing between those monsters. I refer to the ones who live alongside devils as a devil themselves so that child is certainly one of them.
I pulled out a portable telescope from my coat and looked out into the distance. My vision moved between banners and flags. As I was still unable to see where the Imperial Princess Elizabeth was, I carefully estimated her location solely by the sound of her voice which felt as if it were being whispered directly into my ear.
⎯⎯ The devil spoke. They claimed that we had killed our own people. Where can you find a lie that is as immense as this? The devil stated that you all are on their side and are their allies. Where else can you find a lie that is as massive as this as well?
⎯⎯ This is something that you all should ask yourselves. 400 years ago, who were the ones to put their lives on the line in order to protect the continent? 300 years ago, who were the ones to abandon their lives in order to protect mankind?
⎯⎯ 250 years ago, who were the ones to swing their blades underneath the white walls until the last man standing? 200 years ago, who were the ones to charge towards the monsters on the Plains of Ulm?
⎯⎯ And on this day, in order to fight against a hundred thousand monsters once more, there are people here who have thrown everything aside for their family, for their sons and daughters, and for the Gods. This is something you must ask yourselves! Who are these people!?
⎯⎯ That is so. These people are you.
⎯⎯ 400 years ago, 300 years ago, 200 years ago, and here on this very day, the ones devoting their lives in order to protect the continent are you, and solely you!
Elizabeth declared. She did not make any wasted breaths. Because there was no needless noise, it felt as if her voice was a melody that was slowly intensifying. The human soldiers were entranced by the tune and were all facing towards a single spot. With my telescope, I followed their gazes. She was calling for me.
⎯⎯ Oh proud officers and men of many nations, the ones who were always slaughtered by those monsters were you, the people. The places that those monsters always pillaged were the fields cultivated by you, the people. As the ones those monsters always stepped on were our fathers and mothers, every time we attempted to live peacefully those monsters cruelly trampled on our lives.
⎯⎯ Now a devil speaks to you. They claimed that they themselves have never threatened the people. I ask you all. Is that true?
The surroundings were still.
The atmosphere that was heated up by the speech given by Farnese earlier had settled down. The enemy forces that Farnese separated into peasants and nobles were once again embraced as one by Elizabeth, and the Imperial Princess started calling out each army that was gathered together.
⎯⎯ Boeotians. I remember. 400 years ago, on the rocky plains of Aulis, you desperately protected one of humanity’s lines of defense with your lives, combatting against thirty thousand monsters for more than three days. The great prince that led you, Peneleos, rests underneath the hill alongside your brethren.
⎯⎯ Tribe of Minyans. I remember. 300 years ago, at the region of doves, Thisvi, although a monster from the netherworld was approaching, you were able to protect your city with merely 400 men. Regardless of the city’s authority, the aristocrats, the citizens, and the slaves, you all became one and retaliated together. Humankind shall never forget your struggle.
⎯⎯ People of Aspledon. who could possibly forget the legendary battle that you all displayed 150 years ago!?
The moment she said that line, a single group cheered. The tribe known as Aspledon had given a fervent response.
⎯⎯ Hurrah for Aspledon! Hurrah for Aspledon!
It was from that moment on. Elizabeth’s naming was no longer a simple role call, but it was now a massive echo that shook the human army. Each time the Imperial Princess called out to a tribe or a city, the soldiers who were dispatched from those places would shake their flags fiercely and cheer.
⎯⎯ Locrians, the people who lived while cultivating the water from the honorable River of Cephissus! I remember. 200 years ago, you all beheaded no less than 2 dragons in Euboea. Even the Goddesses of Heaven must have been moved by your achievement!
⎯⎯ Locris! Locris! Locris!
Thud··· Thud···, the soldiers from a single army started slamming the butts of their spears against the ground. They were shouting while holding pride towards their homeland. They were most likely not ordered to do so, but the drummers lifted their drumsticks and started to pound heavily on their drums, which were made from cowhide. Bang······ Bang······. While the earth shook because of the roars, the air trembled due to the drums. Between the shaking and trembling, Elizabeth’s voice was free.
⎯⎯ People of Abantes! People of Alpheus! Your glorious battle is still engraved onto each and every stone wall of your stronghold. When I was six-years-old, while brushing my boundlessly young hand over the engraved names on those walls, I made a resolution. That I will remember the names of the brave men written here on these walls forever. Therefore, I shall call out to your ancestors. Adrastus, Menestheus, Elephenor, Styra, Opoüs, Scarphe, Augeae, Tarphes⎯⎯⎯⎯.
She had truly memorized all of the names and were calling them out one at a time. Her voice slowly became louder and louder. The shaking and trembling of the soldiers followed after her voice and rose up steeply.
Once the number of names she called out had reached over 20, the soldiers cheered, once the number of names she shouted out had reached over 30, the soldiers threw up their hats, and once the number of names she cried out had finally reached over 50, the entire army of humans had become one and were shouting together.
⎯⎯ Oh, mankind!
How beautiful, Elizabeth.
One piece at a time, you embroidered together the humankind that I had broken into fragments. If my speech was sharp and had sliced them apart, then you had applied glue to each severed side and gently pulled them together. Although I had incited their rage and hatred, Elizabeth led them by using their pride towards their homeland and with the illusion that humankind was one.
No one wanted to call themselves a peasant. No matter who it was, people would want to believe that they were only human. Before being referred to as a peasant, they wanted to be referred to as a human. Before discussing hierarchy, they favored their homes, and before leaping into a divide, they loved harmony.
Elizabeth knew that.
She knew the fact that love could be instigated as easily as hatred could.
⎯⎯ You all, who were called by thousands of names yesterday, are here today as Habsburg, Francia, Brittany, Batavia, Teuton, Castile, Sardinia, Anatolia, Moscow, Kalmar, and Bernicia. However, we know. We know that we were originally one!
⎯⎯ At times, humankind became disunited. At times, humankind resented one another. However, regardless of all that, we were still one. Whenever those monsters pillaged our loveable land and slaughtered our families and comrades, we always became one and struggled together!
⎯⎯ Scorn and hatred were unable to stop us. Even the strong canines of the monsters were unable to separate us. That is so, it is because we are human. It is because we were born as humans, and until our final moments, we will more than gladly desire to die as just humans!
⎯⎯ As our struggle was not towards mankind itself.
⎯⎯ Our struggle was solely for the sake of mankind!
Finally, my telescope discovered Elizabeth. It was as if the silver haired Imperial Princess were looking this way from the very beginning since it felt as if our eyes met each other across this vast distance.
Elizabeth unsheathed her sword and raised it. It was a silver sword. A single ray of light made its way through a gap between the murky clouds and made the Imperial Princess’ sword shine a bright silver. Every time Elizabeth shouted, the soldiers would respond by saying ‘That’s right’.
⎯⎯ Today, on this very day, mankind has once again reached a moment where everyone has become a single group. More than before, those monsters are stronger and more malicious. They know that they can only win if we were to be divided. You all must have heard well their false whispers. But how can one forget? The fact that humankind has always been one!
⎯⎯ That’s right! That’s right!
⎯⎯ For hundreds of years, those monsters put considerable efforts into separating us. But we remember. The fact that humankind has always been one!
⎯⎯ That’s right! That’s right!
⎯⎯ Today, they are once again trying to make us separate. However, we know. The fact that, on this day, humankind is surely one! As our ancestors have done so before, as we are doing so today, and as our descendants will do so tomorrow, humans will continue to forever exist as a single mankind!
⎯⎯ That’s right! That’s right!
Elizabeth placed her blade against her hand and cut her palm. The bandages were torn and crimson blood started to flow. She clenched the blood and shouted.
⎯⎯ I, Elizabeth of Habsburg, hereby vow. I shall always stand on the front lines throughout the defending war, which will unfold from this day forth. Whenever you wish to kneel before the ruthlessness of those monsters, I shall be directly behind you, supporting your backs. Whenever you are looking forward in despair, because of those monsters’ cruelty, I shall be standing right there!
Elizabeth opened her fist. The blood that had gathered on her palm scattered all at once and flew throughout the air. As if trying to repay for every single drop of blood, the soldiers shouted. Finally, ignoring their homelands, their roars mixed together chaotically and could not be understood anymore.
⎯⎯ Today, some will die and some will survive. Here, in this place, the blood of mankind will be drunk greedily by the Bruno Plains. Leave it be. Let the plains drink as much blood as it desires! If our thirst is quenched by doing so, then so be it. Since today will be mankind’s cruel carnival!
⎯⎯ Officers and men of many nations! The people, the descendants of your proud ancestors! Alongside me, will you prove to those malicious monsters once more that we are still humans!?
⎯⎯ That’s right!
⎯⎯ Have you finished strengthening your resolves to remain in the history of blood once more!?
⎯⎯ That’s right!
The horizon shook because of the roars. Flags were waving. The drummers continued to pound the cowhide boisterously. Like thunder that had no tempo or rhythm, the noise uttered by the human army of a hundred thousand soldiers shook the earth and the sky.
⎯⎯ For war!
⎯⎯ For war!
Following after, the soldiers chanted for war three or four more times. Elizabeth was able to wash the poison known as class strife, which I had spread throughout their army, clean. At the very least, it seems something like their fighting spirit falling apart will not happen today. How splendid. Surely, it was worthy of the girl who I had acknowledged to be my lifelong formidable enemy.
Farnese was silent beside me. The delighted frivolous atmosphere, which she possessed immediately after her speech was over, had disappeared without a trace. She was merely staring hard at the sight of the human army cheering. I had heard from somewhere that the temperature of one’s gaze was the same as their heart. If that was the case, then, in the end, Farnese’s heart was mostly likely frozen like winter. I stroked Farnese’s head.
“How was it? Are you still not worried?”
“······For 2 months, this young lady had prepared for today’s speech. If you include the time spent learning from Miss Lapis, then it is no less than half a year. That speech, this young lady, and Your Lordship’s strike.”
“That is so.”
I nodded my head.
“That Imperial Princess had toppled our blow in merely 10 minutes. She most likely thought of countermeasures promptly after she heard our speech. She devised a speech in her head without any previous preparations whatsoever.”
Farnese, the girl, who you and I must face from now on, is that kind of monster. If we are unable to take the Imperial Princess’ life, then in return, the Imperial Princess will take ours. As a result, the hero to have their name remain in history will be her. At most, the girl known as Farnese will be recorded as the failed revolutionary and defeated general.
With no emotion on her face, Farnese bit her bottom lip.
“······Elizabeth. Elizabeth Atanaxia, Evatriae, von Habsburg.”
Farnese pronounced the name of the woman, who was going to become her sworn enemy, in detail. Farnese’s voice was sanguinary. Similar to the way she had pronounced it, it was as if she intended to slice up the Imperial Princess’ body, in detail.
“I cannot forgive her. The one who will become the owner of this age is none other than this young lady. For that sole purpose, this young lady became Your Lordship’s vassal. How could this young lady possibly leave alone that sort of girl when she intends to obstruct this young lady’s ambitions?”
I was pleased by this girl’s murderous intent. That’s right. I wanted this sort of reaction. Because I wanted this kind of response, I threw away the other heroes of the future and chose Laura De Farnese.
No matter how radiant the opposition was, I needed that superciliousness that could consider something as a hindrance solely for the reason that that radiance was blocking their path.
A cruelty that didn’t waver even the slightest amount when before the bombastic pretext of protecting mankind, a personality that is capable of killing the things that must be silently killed, and if the opposition cannot be killed, then someone who can make do by killing whatever else possible.
As Farnese was a supercilious and cruel girl, the Imperial Princess, Elizabeth, was nothing more than an unwelcomed guest that was interfering with her enjoyable and peaceful time. Farnese was a psychopath. That is why I chose this child instead of anyone else······.
There were many people who would say it was lonely when the wind blew. There were numerous people who would leave after saying they have to go somewhere whenever the wind blew. However, child, who is as loveable as my younger sister, since the wind has blown, you and I are people who demand the flags to be raised. Even if Elizabeth were a storm that was similar to a calamity, to us, that was nothing more than a signal to raise our banners.
Farnese looked up at me. A faint tint of hatred could be seen in the pupils of this child who rarely displayed any emotions. It almost felt as if she were a child who just had her playground invaded and was pestering her father about it.
“This young lady shall kill that woman. Please allow this young lady to do so.”
I shook my head. Farnese furrowed her brow.
“Why not? Did Your Lordship not bring this young lady from the slave market in order to kill that woman? Your Lordship was right. This young lady understands now, as well. The fact that a woman like that cannot be killed by just anyone. However, if it is this young lady, then she will certainly be able to kill her.”
“Be patient. The time has yet to come.”
I slowly persuaded my best pupil. Although the curtains of the play have risen and the theatricals have begun, there were still many crises to overcome. In order to kill Macbeth, one must arrive at the fourth act first.
“Although taking the life of a single individual is a small task, it is something that I must do personally. There are thousands of humans we must kill, tens of thousands. How do you expect to properly subdue Elizabeth when we are surrounded by people that we must kill?”
“Your words are ambiguous, Lord. Please tell this young lady your true meaning.”
“I am saying that it is unwieldy to face the opponent in the front while leaving aside the enemy that is in the back.”
“We have an alliance with Barbatos’ Plains Faction, but that relationship is strictly limited to one where we merely use one another. Just because the benefit is firm, does not mean that even the trust is adamant. Moreover, the head that is leading the greatest faction in the demon continent, the Mountain Faction, is Paimon. That fellow is hostile towards us.”
Farnese narrowed her eyes.
“This young lady understands. It seems we must get rid of the bothersome things in the rear first. Since we would most likely have an upset stomach if we get too greedy, it would be best to rip them apart one bite at a time.”
“Bingo. That is how a lion hunts a deer.”
I lightly pulled on Farnese’s cheek. This was a physical contact which contained the meaning of praise. Albeit, Farnese did not like it and was groaning, ‘Uuuh’.
“Who do you plan on going for first?”
“Paimon is first.”
I answered immediately.
I had a deep ill-fated relationship with Paimon, anyway. From the very beginning, when I had aimed for the cure of the disease and had instantly accumulated great wealth, Paimon was vigilant towards me. Perhaps I should say that she was excessively vigilant. She had a lot of hostility piled up towards a dangerous son of a bitch like me, after all. To this very day, I cannot recall leaving alone even a single person who dared to hinder my life.
Fortunately, the gift that the Imperial Princess Elizabeth had given to me was resting in my coat pocket. A pocket watch. Memoria Artifact. The very item which contained the scene where I had to burn down a slave market in order to appoint Farnese.
Originally, Humbaba was the one who had recorded with this object, and she had sold it to Paimon. That pocket watch was in the Imperial Princess Elizabeth’s hands. It meant that it went from Humbaba to Paimon, and from Paimon to Elizabeth. What does this mean······?
The answer was actually simple.
“Paimon sold information about myself to the Empire.”
“She most likely informed the Empire that I was the true culprit behind the start of this war in secret. She passed on my personal information while she was at it. Furthermore, of all people, it had to be the Imperial Princess Elizabeth······. An underhanded betrayer.”
I chuckled slightly.
“Was she called a whore who would sell her body to peddlers? Barbatos’ words were indeed correct. In order to stop me, Paimon, that woman, sold not only her body but her soul as well. It is now her turn to pay the price drastically.
Without a doubt, I had done my utmost. Paimon, even if your side was the one to have attacked first, I treated you with courtesy. However, you not only interfered with every single thing I did, but your act of betrayal has been revealed, as well. You have clearly crossed the boundary.
Earlier, since the area behind us was a bit noisy, I had come down from the boulder. I discovered that Barbatos and Paimon were quarreling. I had no idea what was going on but Paimon had pointed towards me and declared ‘That man is mine from now on’. Due to that, a small fuss had occurred······.
Paimon most likely realized that her betrayal had been revealed. I am not sure how she figured it out, but she has a stifling information network. She knew that she was in peril since her disclosure was revealed, and that was why she had urgently tried to win me over by saying ‘Join my faction’.
It’s too late, Paimon.
If you were afraid of having your betrayal discovered, then you should not have committed it in the first place. If you had already carried out the betrayal, then you should have done whatever you could in order to not allow me to catch wind of it until the very end. If you were the former, then you would have been a kind person, and if you were the latter, then you would have been a sensible person. However, you were neither this or that. You were both unkind and idiotic. I am not foolish enough to let that sort of prey go······.
Farnese spoke in a low voice.
“Lord, this young lady is your sword. This blade will only be swung in the places that Your Lordship commands for it to be swung. However, is that fine? There are enemies in our front and a backstabber in our rear. Although people say that one must punish the betrayer before facing the enemy, similar to that reasoning, a logic where one must face the enemy forces before punishing the traitor, is also established. This is a formidable situation.”
I nodded my head. That was a good point. Indeed, it was worthwhile for Lapis and myself to invest our time in personally tutoring this girl. They say that a sparrow near a school can sing the primer, and that seemed to be the case.
(TL note: A saying in Korea that means “One can be influenced by their surroundings”)
“It is fine. I have something in mind in regards to that. Are we not holding out as Barbatos’ allies? Even to Barbatos, Paimon is an annoying political rival. If we throw out grounds to purge Paimon, then Barbatos will obviously dash in with no reluctance whatsoever.”
“Lapis should have started to slowly pull in the required chessman by now······. In any case, Farnese, until we deal with the betrayer, do not thoughtlessly face against Elizabeth. Even if you meet her coincidentally on the front line, avoid her peacefully. Do you understand? Absolutely do not fight her. This is an order to absolutely not fight her.”
“Oho? Look here. I see there is no response. Are you going against my order already just because you gave one speech well? If you have been given an order, then you should acknowledge it. What are you showing off for?”
“······I understand, Lord. I heard you well.”
Farnese pouted. It seems she fairly wanted to kill the Imperial Princess Elizabeth. I could not help but laugh. What a cute child.
Of course, it was not something that I was incapable of understanding. Before I fell into this world, I considered my father to be my archenemy and would constantly wish I could take his life a day sooner. With my index finger and thumb, I grabbed Farnese’s cheek and pulled on it.
“Sheesh, this repulsive thing. I live because of you, because of you.”
Farnese wriggled her arms.
“Let go, Lord. Generally, Your Lordship touches this young lady’s body without much thought too much. Please show some manners when interacting with a lady.”
“You may talk about being a lady once you have actually become one first. At the very least, I will consider changing my attitude towards you once your chest has become a bit bigger.”
“If Your Lordship is going to quibble over the smallness of chests, then is there not that much of a difference between Miss Lapis and this young lady?”
“Lapis is an exception.”
I coolly discarded her argument.
“Regardless of the situation, Lapis has the authority to acquire such a special exception. If you have any complaints, then go and become as smart and as pretty as Lapis, you gum scab. Of course, even if a hundred years flow by, it is most likely impossible for you to achieve such a feat.”
“Your Lordship really favors Miss Lapis······.”
“Is it not obvious when she is the sole person with the same heart as I?”
Lapis is my love.
Lapis is my sun.
No matter what anyone says, this was an evident truth that was as clear as the law of physics.
Like that, we, lord and vassal, came down from the boulder while taunting one another. At the bottom of the boulder, including Barbatos, Paimon, and the other Demon Lords who were commanders of an army corps, there were around 30 Demon Lords waiting for us. Since the speech from our side and the enemy side was over, the only thing that really remained now was war.
Among them, Barbatos was leaning back on a chair and waving her hand.
“Hey, self-proclaimed Mister Genius. Good job.”
“All I have done is carry out the sacred task.”
I bowed. Although in private, Barbatos and I were sex friends who spoke informally to one another, we were currently in the presence of others. Furthermore, we were within a military where the regulation of command and discipline was stern. It was obvious that I, who was rank 71st, would speak formally to Barbatos, who was rank 8th.
That was fine. Something like our relationship falling apart because I talked formally could not possibly happen. It was not simply because we had a friendly relationship when in private, but because Barbatos and I were allied politically. We have been allied until now, and we will most likely continue to be so for a while longer. Until we have defeated our joint enemy, Demon Lord Paimon, our trust was firm. It was fine to be certain of this.
“Sacred task. Sacred task, is it······?”
Barbatos smirked and crossed her white legs.
“That’s right. We gave you a sacred task, didn’t we? Dantalian, we passed onto you, the kid who was still lingering at the very bottom of the ranks of Demon Lords, the right to give the opening speech of the Crescent Army that was joining together for the first time in no less than 200 years. Not to anyone else, we gave it to you while considering your contributions to our army during this war.”
I stopped walking.
Barbatos was all smiles like usual. However, the atmosphere emanating from the Demon Lords of the Plains Faction, who were standing around her, was threatening. I instinctively made Farnese stand behind me.
The air felt menacing.
To be exact, Barbatos’ eyes did.
A rage which even laughter could not hide was lingering in her eyes.
“Huh? Why are you hiding her? Let’s see her face. You gave to her the right of speech which we specifically gifted to you, right? On your own discretion, without consulting us. I wanted to see how great of a girl she is since she was able to make our Mr. Dantalian give all of his guts and organs to her.”
“Her Excellency, Barbatos.”
She spoke coldly.
“Add ‘Her Excellency’, you dimwit.”
Barbatos’ pupils were cold. I couldn’t find even a single ounce of affection towards me within her gaze. The temperature of one’s eyes is the same as their heart, was it? If those words were true, then this was most likely Barbatos’ true temper.
“I’m one of the corps commanders that leads the Crescent Army of a hundred thousand soldiers. What? Did you look down on me since I slept with you all the time?”
“Did you think you could do whatever you wanted from now on just because you saved my troops when they were in danger once? Oh dear, Dantalian. You did quite the good job for sending out a human child as the representative of us demons. Did you think I’d praise you like this?”
Barbatos’ smile thickened.
“Dig out your ear holes and listen well, Dantalian, since I’m going to be naming off the crimes you’ve committed thanks to this single speech of yours. First, since you put forward some kid, who’s still wet behind the ears, as the substitute of us great demons, that’s racial treason.”
Barbatos raised her middle finger on her left hand.
“Since you had the gall to make a mess out of our military discipline when war is going to be upon us soon, that’s insubordination while also in the presence of the enemy. Since it wasn’t you alone who bullshitted, but you had worked together with the witches, who you appointed as your royal guards, to concoct the speech, that’s group mutiny.”
Following her ring finger on her left hand, Barbatos raised her middle finger on her right hand, as well.
“Since the Demon Lord, who’s on the lowest seat of the army, dared to informally commit lese majesty on the field of battle where the 12 holy gods will be watching over us, you’ve even committed blasphemy. Wow, Dantalian. Look at this. How many is this? Even if you only count the number of lese majesties, there’s four. Even if we sever your neck, we’d have to do it 4 times. That’s a rather crappy feeling, isn’t it?”
“Your Excellency, Barbatos.”
“Yeah, I know. The fact that you see this military as a playground where you can dick around however you want. Since I overindulged you all the time, nothing illuminates in my eye sockets now. Nonetheless, you fucker, life isn’t that easy.”
I wasn’t given even a single opportunity to give an excuse.
Barbatos snapped her finger.
“Grab that bastard.”
And the shadow moved.
It was similar to that of a beast’s mouth.
A pitch black liquid shot forth from Barbatos’ shadow, the dark mass then bared its fangs and rushed towards me. Each and every one of its numerous teeth was as thick as a person’s forearm. Gyaaaaaak⎯⎯⎯⎯the air screamed as it was torn. It was instantaneous. The beast of shadow grew in mass like a tsunami and it felt as if it were going to swallow me whole soon.
I wonder if my brain perceived that I was in danger. My surroundings started to move at a speed clearly slower than normal. Somewhere. I had to move somewhere and avoid it. Even if I were uncertain about what kind of liquid that black tsunami was made from, it was evident that it was not something as adorable as H20.
Up down left right. My eyes searched for a side where the shadow had even the slightest bit of less mass. It was at the moment I was about to escape to my right, I ended up realizing a single fact.
Farnese was standing behind me.
If I move from my position, then the shadow will promptly swallow her.
My head heated up and tried to distinguish my priorities. My safety or Farnese’s safety. My consciousness determined which one had the higher priority.
The very edge of my consciousness announced. I was more important than Farnese. There was no value in even considering this. However, a more elaborate and complex judgment refuted a step late.
‘Do the complete opposite. Protect Farnese and cover her.’
‘There’s no way that Barbatos would kill me abruptly. There’s no merit for Barbatos to do so. At most, all she’d do is injure me. But Farnese was different. In Barbatos’ position, it didn’t matter whether she killed Farnese as much as she wanted to or not. Therefore, Farnese will die if you move away right now.’
And Farnese is Lapis and my child.
End of judgment.
There were no more arguments. At that point, my consciousness ended the calculations there.
I stopped my movement that was about to make my body dodge to the right. As my realization was a bit late, my body moved as hastily as it was delayed. I turned around just like that and embraced Farnese. Since I hugged Farnese with my entire body, I was able to barely cover her completely. The small Farnese squirmed within my embrace.
Before she could even finish saying ‘Lord’.
I could sense the shadow of the beast sweeping over us in the air. With the breath, which Farnese let out, as the final trigger, our surroundings had returned to its normal pace. Now the method to dodge the attack was gone.
It couldn’t be helped. Whenever danger approached, I was someone who acted according to his priorities. I have been like this since a young age.
What can I do? I can only hope that Barbatos will go a bit easy on me. I hugged Farnese tighter and closed my eyes.
⎯⎯⎯In that instant, something similar to a breeze brushed against my cheek.
It seemed as if the shadow of the beast, that was going to enshroud us soon, had stopped somewhere in mid-air, and there were no more signs of something else approaching us. When I cautiously raised my gaze, I could see 7 black mantles swaying before me.
7 cone hats.
My royal guards.
The Berbere Sisters.
“You can’t do that, you can’t do that. It’d be troubling for the likes of us if our one and only master were to be injuuured.”
The group of witches, whom Humbaba was the head of, were raising their staves and fluttering the black mantles which I had gifted to them a while back.
The shadow beast was blocked by the staves and could not approach any further. It merely squirmed around creepily and was doing whatever it could to find another path by wriggling here and there. Every time it did so, the witches changed the direction of their staves slightly and obstructed the beast.
Grrrurrrg, grrrk⎯⎯⎯⎯a frustrated snarl flowed out from the beast’s maw. Without being fazed by it, Humbaba laughed.
“What’s this? Agilis’ demon? Ahahah? This is really an ancient familiar. I think it’s been around 300 years since I’ve last seen one. Should I say that’s indeed Her Highness Barbatos for you? It’s not only high-toned for the likes of us but since even the familiar’s grub is extraordinary as well, respect forms naturally in low people like us.”
Barbatos furrowed her brow.
“These girls. How dare you not know your place and.”
“Yeess, we interfered while not knowing our place. We apologiiize. Although the likes of us are the lowest of the low, we have a fatal disease where we’ll die if we’re unable to protect His Highness, Dantalian. By nature, this is a bullshit-like incurable disease, but weren’t the likes of us already infamous for being similar to bullshit? We hope that a greater being, such as Your Highness, is able to understand magnanimously.”
Humbaba laughed. The moment she did so, the other witches giggled as well.
As the confrontation lasted longer, more witches affiliated to my army started to gather slowly. Before I knew it, my Royal Guard of 20 witches was surrounding me without leaving a single gap.
“Ah, referentially, although the young ones these days are completely in the dark, us lowly ones know how to dispose of things like this, you know? Although we can eradicate it immediately, we’re ooonly waiting patiently because of our respect towards Your Highness.”
Grrrrk······ the shadow beast whimpered. Some sort of black liquid was dropping onto the ground.
The beast had shrunk down until it was unable to budge an inch and quivered as if it were asking its master what it should do now.
Barbatos clicked her tongue. The moment she snapped her fingers, the beast fell apart instantly. The black liquid seeped into the earth and disappeared like that.
“I left these things, which I should have killed before, alive because the sight of them groveling around was pitiful······. It’s impressive, Dantalian. Seriously impressive. Really, when you go insane it seems you go completely nuts as a group.”
Barbatos spat on the ground.
“Just how did you sweet-talk those decomposed maggots of souls to be able to make them as docile as pets? Hm? Your fiancée is a half-blood, your acting general is a human bitch, and your royal guards are witches, right? Looking at the medals attached to their heads, they’re all Quadriphyllouses, as well? Wow. You’re having all sorts of fun. You, do you know how many times those bitches have to spread their asses for Demon Lords in order to get a Quadriphyllous? Fuuuck. Oi, those bitches’ assholes are so worn out that I can hear them flapping loosely from here.”
Humbaba bobbed her head in agreement.
“Ahah. Her Majesty’s graceful words are quite right, master. In truth, we’re sad that we rank second in the demon continent for having loose rears. However, do not worry! We’ve vowed that, from this year forth, and until the day we die, we’ll spread our bottom holes for our master and our master only, after all! This is something to be slightly moved by.”
Barbatos grit her teeth.
“Damn witches. Since those bitches are so fucking perverted, they receive no damage even if you swear at them······.”
That’s something I keenly agreed to.
I let out a sigh and spoke to Humbaba.
“Thank you. It seems I am in debt to you now.”
“Ahah, what kind of debt is that supposed to be? Royal guards are something you have appointed in order to use them in times like this. But, if Your Highness really does feel grateful towards us, then please bestow upon us Your Highness’ royal grace later today.”
These girls don’t change even in a situation like this.
······Now then, I was able to get past the immediate crisis for now. What should I do from this point on? First, there was a need to find out why Barbatos was behaving so aggressively.
Ravens flew around and then perched on top of the witches’ hats and staves. The birds cawed. As witches were peasants so they could not dare make any complaints towards Barbatos, it felt as if the ravens were rebelling against Barbatos in their stead. Furthermore, the witches, whose bodies were completely concealed by their black mantles, appeared as if they were one in body and soul with the ravens. Over the cone hats and ravens, Barbatos shouted loudly.
“Hey, Dantalian! Are you really going to do this to me? Huh? Are we going to fucking slap each other and break up like this? Just counting the crimes you’ve committed now, fuck, racial treason, insubordination before the enemy, group mutiny, and even heresy! No one can complain if I rip your head off and check the color of your intestines right now! Offer that human girl over there to us and end it obediently while I’m still asking nicely!”
Was that it?
I understood why Barbatos was behaving ruder than necessary. By making Farnese bear the responsibilities excessively, Barbatos wanted to lessen the total amount of blame that came around to me. In Barbatos’ perspective, she was doing that for my sake. This was Barbatos’ own way of showing consideration, so to speak.
“My apologies, Your Excellency, Barbatos.”
I lowered my head.
I appreciate your sentiment, but I have to refuse.
“Even if this child is a part of the human race, she is a child that I have decided to raise and she is a vassal that I am responsible for. As I was the one to have appointed this child as my acting general, I am also the one to have sent her out to give the speech. If General Farnese made a mistake, then that is my mistake, and if there is something which General Farnese must take responsibility for, then it is a weight that solely I must bear.”
Farnese, who was being held within my arms, was looking straight up at me. I wonder if she was worried. I was so taken aback that I almost snorted out loud.
My father and I were different.
I didn’t shoulder people if I were incapable of taking responsibility for them from the start, and if I did take them in, then I would make sure to bear the burden until the very end.
Of course, if I take all of the blame instead of Farnese, then there will be a slight set back in my plan to remove Paimon. Nevertheless, I am an outstanding genius. I have a plan. I also have a card up my sleeve. If anything, a small obstacle will only make it more enjoyable for me.
With my right arm, I patted Farnese’s back. You are much too young to be worrying about my safety, kid. If you are a child, then behave like one and obediently be protected by an adult.
Farnese nodded her head slightly. She slowly rested her head against my chest. Even if we were not connected by blood or something else, the daughter that Lapis and I had decided to shoulder together depended on me like that.
That sight most likely displeased her. Barbatos spat out sharply.
“Haa, so what? Are you going to wriggle away like a serpent, without bearing any responsibility whatsoever, even though you went against military discipline right before my eyes? Why don’t you just piss in my eyes instead, Dantalian? Since I don’t want to witness military discipline falling apart even if I die.”
I shook my head.
“Even I know well how much emphasis Your Excellency puts on military regulations. I do not have the slightest intention to do something like avoiding my responsibility. I shall shoulder General Farnese’s wrongdoings as well. Your Excellency, please execute me.”
“I have requested for my own execution.”
I calmly looked around my surroundings. The atmosphere of the surrounding was rigid. For some reason, it seems Paimon was looking this way with a face that appeared as if she were concerned about something. Without immediately contemplating on what the meaning behind that expression was, I declared.
“Rank 71st, Demon Lord Dantalian. I shall renounce my authority as a Demon Lord and put myself on military trial here.”
Empire Calendar: Year 1506, Month 4, Day 3
Bruno Plains, Army of the Crescent Alliance
“Rank 71st, Demon Lord Dantalian. I shall renounce my authority as a Demon Lord and put myself on military trial here.”
The moment Dantalian uttered those words, the surrounding froze. It was the same for this lady as well. To request for one’s own execution through military trial, this is unprecedented. This······. This, goes beyond bounds.
Barbatos gazed at Dantalian abstractedly.
“A lord’s words are heavy. Words once spoken can never be taken back, Dantalian. This is a word of advice as your intimate friend and senior. I’m giving you a chance to change the words you said just now for the last time.”
“My sincerest apologies, Your Excellency, but I do not intend to alter my words. General Farnese is a child that this one loves. I would rather die than pass onto this child the burden.”
Barbatos’ face became void of emotions.
······Originally, in order to punish a Demon Lord, the confirmation of the crime and the severity of the punishment must be formally decided during a Walpurgis Night. In other words, a Demon Lord can only be punished during a Walpurgis Night. As every Demon Lord has the authority to refuse any other type of trial, this was one of the Demon Lords’ privileges. If this were not the case, then there was the danger of high ranking Demon Lords using the pretext of war to purge lower ranking Demon Lords during a military trial.
However, Dantalian had renounced his authority as a Demon Lord just now. That means he has fallen into a status where he is legally capable of being submitted to a military trial.
Racial treason, insubordination in the face of the enemy, group mutiny, and blasphemy, these were the names of the offenses that Dantalian had committed now······ each and every one of these were grave crimes. Among those, a normal soldier would be executed if they committed even one. But to have committed 4 lese majesties······. In the case that the military trial is carried out just like this, then Dantalian cannot avoid his execution.
“I definitely gave you the opportunity. Several times, at that.”
“And I have expressed myself clearly, Your Excellency.”
“You have no regrets, rights?”
“Yes, that is correct. I am at, all times, only concerned about Your Excellency, Barbatos’ safety and honor.”
Barbatos let out a sigh. Even she clearly knew what the results would be if a military trial were to be held. Because she knew so, she most likely intended to cover up this incident by merely whipping Dantalian a bit.
Even that seemed to have weighed upon Barbatos’ mind since she was about to go as far as to make that human girl take the majority of the responsibility instead of Dantalian. The minimum amount of blame to Dantalian. A punishment that is nothing more than mere formality would have fallen upon him. Even Dantalian should not be unaware of this. So why?
“Okay. Let’s open it, a military trial or whatever. As it happens, all the corps commanders are here as well. Isn’t that great? I, Barbatos, as the rank 8th and the leader of the Plains Faction, as the one who boasts immortality, shall hold Demon Lord Dantalian’s court martial.”
The ones in charge of military trials are usually the highest ranking person in one’s corps.
Since Dantalian is not affiliated with any other Demon Lords and had autonomously hired a troop of mercenaries, in this situation, the highest ranking person responsible for his corps are the military commanders. Thus, Barbatos, Marbas, and this lady. Just in time, everyone was gathered here before the outbreak of war······.
“Old man Marbas. Voice your intention to participate in the trial.”
The magnate of the Neutral Faction and the commander of the second army. Rank 5th, Demon Lord Marbas nodded his head slowly······.
“I acknowledge my participation in this trial.”
His expression was mixed. That man has a debt towards Dantalian.
Due to the loss of Marbas’ previous battle, there was a high possibility that the expedition of the Crescent Army itself would have broken down in failure in that moment. No, if Dantalian had not acquired victory, then without a doubt the expedition would have failed. He was feeling a millstone around his neck because of that.
If possible, he would have covered up Dantalian’s crimes······ a military trial was no good. This was something that was directly connected with morale. There was absolutely no significance in a military trial that pardoned high treason. For Marbas, who puts so much emphasis on legislations and regulations, it would be nearly impossible for him to raise Dantalian’s hand during a trial. No matter how much he tries, the best he could possibly do is throw in a blank ballot.
That, is the same for this lady, as well.
Regardless of whether Dantalian is the first person this lady has ever met in her life with the same ideology as her, regardless of whether it is this lady’s first time meeting someone who has the same mentality as her, kept in their bosom, this lady is currently the commander of an army of 30,000. This lady is standing in a position where she must worry about the morale of 30,000 officers and men. Something like throwing in a dissenting vote while other people are watching, this lady cannot do such a thing.
Because this lady is a person in charge.
Because that is the duty of a commander who leads an army.
What does this lady have to do?
What does this lady have to do in order to naturally get past the military trial without having to give a dissenting vote?
If it were not a military trial, then preserving Dantalian’s life is possible. In the end, every issue is settled through a vote during a Walpurgis Night. In other words, it was purely a fight of numbers.
As the head of the Mountain Faction, this lady can move 20 votes. If Barbatos were to utilize the 15 votes from the Plains Faction here, then even with that, this lady already has the majority. That is right. If it were not a military trial. If we can just pass this moment······.
“Oi, whore. Voice your intention to participate in the trial.”
“What? Are you ignoring me right now? Whore. Hello? Miss Whore whose mind is vast because her hole is ragged. Bitch, despite your looks you’re still an army commander, you know? If you’re aware then say that you’ll participate in······.”
If it is this, then it might be possible.
Although it is dangerous. Although it is an incomparably-dangerous gamble.
If it is this lady, then she can do it.
Since jumping into a gamble is this lady’s specialty.
This lady straightened her mind and raised her feather fan to hide her lips. The posture that this lady always assumes. By covering half of the face, only half of this lady is revealed. This is the most comfortable.
This lady spoke while staring at Barbatos.
“No. This lady will not voice her participation.”
⎯⎯⎯A stillness fell over the surrounding.
Starting from Barbatos, all of the Demon Lords gazed at this lady as if they were wondering whether they had heard wrong just now.
It was obvious. Until now, Dantalian and this lady had established an opposing relationship with one another for every single action we took. It may not be the case for Barbatos or Marbas, but everyone most likely never expected that this lady would be the one to exercise her veto.
That was exactly the reason.
Compared to the others, since this lady was a political rival who stood out the most when trying to get rid of Dantalian, that was why this plan, which this lady had thought up of, was valid.
“······Fuck, what is it now? Hey, did all of you guys get high today just so you could play a joke on me? The bastard known as my lover fucked up on his own and is now requesting for his own court martial, and now that whore over there is refusing for some fucking reason. Did you two go off somewhere and fuck while I wasn’t watching?”
“Please do not assume that everyone in the world is as vulgar as you. Of course, if they are born lacking the same amount of intelligence like you did, then there is nothing else that can be said.”
This lady showed a thin smile. A vein popped in Barbatos’ forehead, but that did not matter. I taunted her on purpose, after all.
“This lady has told you before, have I not? Barbatos, that man is no longer your toy and is now mine. This lady has the plan to pull Dantalian into the
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