Dungeon Defense - Chapter 32
Empire Calendar: Year 1506, Month 4, Day 8
Bruno Plains, Army of the Crescent Alliance, Simple Prison
Why did I not think further into this?
Something that was in Paimon’s hand was passed on to the Imperial Princess Elizabeth much too easily. I simply thought that it was because Paimon was a traitor to the Crescent Alliance, no, because she was a traitor to our kind. However, how would it be if I were to change my way of thinking and look back at it?
If Paimon had already established a group within the human continent on her own. If she were neither simply on the demons’ side nor on the humans’ side, and merely moved according to whichever side benefited her the most.
Paimon was closely interrelated with the Keuncuska Firm. The Keuncuska Firm was a large merchant association that did not discriminate between races and had their reach spread out to various places across the continent. Adding to that, they had an ironclad rule where their executives were selected by their skills alone, disregarding their stratum and status.
⎯⎯⎯⎯What if, by a very rare chance, they were colluding with a republic nation?
Rank 9th Paimon. The person who loved the humans more than anyone else and ended up betraying her own kind. In the original timeline, she was a woman who was criticized as a bizarre whore and an uncommon betrayer of her own kind. That was the typical image I had for Paimon until now. The fact that Paimon was involved in the founding of the Republic of Batavia, be it from even 〈Dungeon Attack〉, it was a fact that I did not hear from anywhere······!
No, stay calm. Be composed. Although an excessively large variable had appeared in the path of comprehending the situation of the continent henceforth, this was something that I can still handle. Now then. Let’s calmly get a grasp of the situation.
“······The leader of the Republic of Batavia? What do you mean?”
“Oh dear. It seems you are finally showing a slightly grim expression.”
Paimon hid her mouth behind her fan and giggled. As if a refreshing music note was attached to the end of her sentence, she appeared to be delighted. No, I was certain that she was delighted. She might as well be bobbing her head side to side and humming a tune.
“Aah, this lady said it. This lady ended up saying it in the end. It was something that must not be told to anyone, truly. It cannot be helped. If you ask this lady ‘what can you possibly do’ in such a provoking way, then this lady’s head will quickly become heated.”
What was that?
“Ah. This lady is not blaming you, in particular, Dantalian. This lady merely spoke in the way which she wished to speak. Just that, since even a single moment would be fine, this lady desired to see the sight of your misfortunate face turning grim!”
Paimon smiled broadly.
A bright smile that did not have even a single ulterior motive.
I fell further into a haze. Just how far did her sincerity go and from where did her lies begin? Her intentions could not be read because of that fake innocent smile of hers. There was absolutely no chance that every single one of her words, which she had uttered, were sincere. Damn it, that was impossible for a politician. Since Paimon was different compared to any other person I had ever met, I ended up furrowing my brow.
“Well, it is fine. Generally, whenever this lady acts according to her emotions, the result strangely ends up better, after all. The Gods most likely adore this lady. Behold, this lady was even able to see your dazed face as a result, Dantalian. It is a profit.”
Oh ho ho.
Paimon crudely laughed over her fan. They say that laughter had a characteristic of becoming more degraded the more elegant it was, and this was exactly that case. While I was listening to Paimon laugh, I had a revelation.
There was no doubt about this.
Absolutely not like Lapis, the complete opposite of Barbatos, and slightly different compared to Farnese⎯⎯⎯⎯this woman in front of me was also a formidable maniac. Furthermore, she was also, perhaps, a natural maniac. A type of lunatic that I had yet to encounter or experience.
“Ehem. Although this lady wishes to enjoy this moment a little bit longer, should we get to the main topic? Even if this lady is referred to as the Queen of Mares, this is more difficult than one can imagine. Earlier, you obliquely hinted that you wished to leave soon, but it is at the point where this lady is the one who wishes for you to quickly leave. This lady’s magic is depleting in real time.”
Paimon smiled with her eyes. Her eyes were stretched narrowly like that of a cat.
“······Or should we meet separately later on and continue our conversation then? You must be quite exhausted after having such a heated discussion with Barbatos, Dantalian. It is fine if this lady shows you consideration, you know?”
This woman······ if she thinks she has the superiority, then she was the type of person who unhesitatingly teased the opposition by using that high ground!
What did she mean by ‘we must denounce the people in power’!? Are you not reveling in the enjoyment of authority the most!? This was why I despised hypocrites!
“Okay. This lady understands, so please stop looking at this lady as if she were some insane woman. Therefore, what should this lady talk about first? Mm. Yes, establishing a republic was not an easy task. Truly, there was a countless number of trials and errors.”
Paimon waved her fan pleasantly.
“However, this lady succeeded.”
The surrounding scenery changed to show a village. It was a peaceful fishing hamlet that was placed beside the vast ocean. Even in a place where several boats were shabbily settled on top of a mud flat, it gave off a scent which informed people that it was inhabited. Once Paimon drew an oblique downward line with her fan, time was fast forwarded.
Citizens gathered, a dock was built, and the dock developed into a harbor. As the heights of the buildings grew taller in real time, a pure white rampart formed and wrapped around the entire city like a white snake. Waterways flowed through various areas of the city, making it into a beautiful city of water.
There were 12 temples huddled up in the center of the town, every hour a bell from one of the temples would ring and the people, without having to even raise their heads, were able to discern the time of the day by the tone of the bell. The sounds of bells resonated endlessly and reached out far into the distant blue ocean.
“It took 150 years for the capital of the Republic of Batavia, Amstel, to be built.”
Paimon looked over the ocean. Paimon’s gaze was gentle as if she were watching over an endearing child.
“We mobilized the wealth, information, and military power we had accumulated during that time and started a war of independence. That took 50 years. With the pretext of inheriting the idea of the Old Republic, we started an extended war. That took another 50 years. Lastly, with the justification of accepting other races as official citizens, we started a war of liberation. This lady skillfully used the 7th Crescent Alliance expedition here. At last, after basing everything, the independence, expansion, and liberation, on the international treaty, we were acknowledged.”
Paimon silently spread out her arms. Before her eyes, forty ships drifted over the ocean waves and moved forward.
“A good 150 years. That was how much time it took to establish the League of Merchants, the Republic of Batavia, that consists of 13 cities.”
Paimon silently gazed at the scenery, which she had created, for a long time. I had no other choice but to follow Paimon’s silence with my own. Although I have experienced all sorts of things throughout my life, this was the first time in my life meeting an outstanding individual who had founded a single nation.
The nation was not a normal nation, either. Within the center of this medieval age where kings and barons still had immense influence, she had fully stuck a single republic nation on the map. After facing this feat, I did not have the decency to move my tongue unrestrictedly······.
“Earlier, you asked this lady in return whether a perfect society was possible.”
With an ‘Ufufu’, Paimon laughed and scratched her cheek.
“No. It is impossible.”
“Even if humans and demons are equally accepted as citizens in the Republic of Batavia, there is still contempt and discrimination there. Despite that, in this lady’s eyes······ it is a bit better compared to 200 years ago. It may be by a handspan. But perhaps, are the politicians, who are like this lady, not living for that handspan?”
With an endlessly modest and pure face, she spoke.
“This lady is able to say this since she has lived for 500 years now. Although time is excessively slow, so it sometimes deceives our eyes and occasionally disguises itself to appear as if it were not flowing, even now time continues to move by minutes and seconds that even a handspan cannot erase. Some people refer to that as the flow of history. Believers will most likely refer to that as a destiny which the Gods have predetermined.”
Paimon shook her head.
“However, this lady refers to that as simply the fulfillment of one’s dreams. Because life is cruel and abject, it will always disappoint us. Thus, the day may come where both you and this lady fall and all of humanity and demonkind become lowly. This lady will not request of you to overcome that nor will she ask you to be overflowing with hope and leap over every obstacle. Just that⎯⎯⎯⎯.”
Paimon stuck out her hand.
“Until that day arrives, will you not be together with this lady?”
I glanced down at her slender fingers.
Mare. A race that could control a person’s dream however they pleased.
As they teased and satisfied people with all sorts of pleasures, mares desired for eternal happiness within those dreams alongside the person they were with. However, this woman, who had approached me, refused to settle with just dreams and was personally pioneering a reality. In order to make the reality itself into a single dream and embrace it.
I nodded my head. There was no other individual who deserved to be called the Queen of Mares more than this girl who was in front of me.
“That is all fine, but I have a single question.”
There was one final thing which remained in my head that also weighed on my mind.
In the original course of history, Paimon betrayed demonkind. She loved the hero. Compared to the persona, which Paimon had shown me right now, and the appearance she displayed while on the path of history, which she was destined to go down, the two were much too different. Just how did she end up like that? I was so curious that I could no longer endure.
“Yes. You may ask this lady anything.”
“It will sound like a strange question. Your Highness Paimon will most likely be unable to understand the reason behind why I am asking this sort of inquiry. Regardless, it is a question that is personally quite important to me. I will be grateful if you provide me with a sincere response, if possible.”
“Those are quite peculiar words.”
Paimon opened her eyes wide.
“Now that this lady thinks about it, Sir Dantalian has always been far from normal. You are also going out with Barbatos······. Although it is not something which this lady should be saying. Mm, the human child, who you appointed as your acting general, seemed to have a severe flaw as well. She appears normal on the outside, but is the error on the inside?”
I casually ignored the slander.
“For example, let us pretend that there is an incredibly powerful human.”
“Hm. How powerful?”
“The person is simply immensely powerful. A hundred, no, a thousand times stronger than us. Only the corpses of demons will be piled up on that human’s path. Even the Demon Lord of Eternity, Baal, cannot defeat that person on his own.”
Paimon made an expression on her face that appeared as if she were slightly troubled. However, since I had requested beforehand for her to give me a sincere response, she did not make any unnecessary comments. Speaking moderately, a hero has yet to appear in this era. It was also obvious that it would be difficult for her to comprehend my speculation.
“One at a time, that human tactfully faces us Demon Lords separately. So that human is basically subjugating us one by one. If things continued to flow like that, then every last Demon Lord will end up falling in battle. If a situation like this were to occur, Your Highness Paimon, what would you do?”
Paimon tilted her head.
“Are the Demon Lords unable to form an alliance and attack ‘that human’ together?”
“Unfortunately, that is not possible. That person does not lead an army. They will meddle with our side while leading a small unit that consists of either them by themself or at most 10 people.”
“Hmm. In other words, with a gathering of barely 10 people, they are strong enough to defeat us Demon Lords one by one. So you are telling this lady to imagine such an absurd group, is that right?”
I nodded my head. The hero’s party was approximately 10 people so it was not far from the truth. After contemplating for a moment, Paimon responded.
“How about annihilating them politically through remonstration?”
“The greatest monarch within the human society places their complete trust onto that human and also supports them. They are a human whose political backing is firm.”
Elizabeth von Habsburg. The culprit behind picking out the hero, who was nothing more than a villager from a fire-fallow village, and raising them to be the figurehead of mankind. It was the same as how I had set forward Farnese as the figurehead of the Crescent Alliance.
“Mmm. Is the human society, perhaps, united into a single nation?”
“That is yet to be the case. Fortunately or unfortunately.”
The reason being, the day Elizabeth united the entire continent was after the extermination of every single Demon Lord.
“Within the situation that you are speculating, Dantalian, which nation does the monarch, who you claimed to be the greatest, lead? Is it the Empire of Habsburg? Anatolia? Surely it would not be Francia.”
“Yes, it is Habsburg.”
“If that is the case, then this lady sees a path.”
Paimon shrugged her shoulders.
“This lady will split humanity into two sides.”
“Although the Empire of Habsburg is mighty, they are located at the center of the continent. As much as that is the case, it is a nation that the surrounding countries are wary of just as much. This lady shall control the surrounding nations appropriately and incite them into being hostile towards Habsburg. That is right, if it is this lady, then she will instigate the Empire of Francia and the Kingdom of Brittany. Those are the places which this lady has placed the most numbers of spies in, after all.”
I was quiet.
Since the words were quiet, my thoughts became quiet as well.
In the original history, the hero and Farnese opposed one another. As the hero represented the Empire of Habsburg, Farnese acted for the Kingdom of Brittany.
Before I knew it, Paimon had continued talking.
“It will be dangerous if Habsburg were to keep growing like this. You all must actively cooperate in order to keep Habsburg in check. Throw out a bait, that goes along those lines, and do whatever this lady can in order to lure in one of the two nations. If both sides take the bait, then that would be the best case scenario. By doing so, this lady will induce a civil war between the humans. Once human society falls into chaos, that would be the opportunity. This lady will deal with that so-called powerful human in that moment.”
Was that the case?
“How is that, Sir Dantalian?”
“If it is this much, then would it not be enough to get rid of them?”
Was it you?
While the other Demon Lords were helplessly being done in by the Imperial Princess and the hero, in a future that had ended up like that, was the person who had plotted the division of humankind, the culprit who moved behind-the-scenes, none other than⎯⎯⎯⎯you?
I pressed my forehead. My thoughts were instantly organized. The plan which I had made for conquering the continent from this point on had changed. The X mark, which I had brandished over Paimon’s name on the map that was drawn within my head, had promptly disappeared. It would be too much of a waste if I were to be hostile towards, or tried to purge, this sort of individual.
Except, there was a thirst that had yet to be quenched. If she filled me in on even this, then be it the Mountain Faction or anywhere else, I will more than gladly squeeze in. Now, answer me this.
“Certainly, it is an excellent move. However, it is still lacking. Even that method ends up failing. Due to the fact that the monarch, who governs over the Empire of Habsburg, is truly the formidable mastermind, they are able to destroy both the Empire of Francia and the Kingdom of Brittany at the same time. In an incredibly short period of time, at that. Now it would be exceedingly difficult to split apart the human society.”
Paimon leered at my direction as if she were admonishing me.
“How can such a monarch possibly exist? Even the speculation that a human who is stronger than Sir Baal appearing is already a reckless suggestion that was difficult to swallow, but for there to also be a monarch who is powerful enough to nearly unite the entire continent with one action. This lady is not particularly complaining, but is that not impossible?”
“That is correct. Please think about it while taking in that impossibility as a premise.”
“Umm. Hmm. Mm······.”
Paimon chewed on the end of her fan with her teeth. By the looks of it, that seemed to be an old habit of hers. If you display that sort of habit, then your inner thoughts can be read by the opposition, making it an incredibly bad habit. Does she not seem so experienced at times that it makes it difficult for me to read her intentions, and yet, in times like this, does she not seem immature like some child? Truly, this woman was incomprehensible.
I wonder how much time had passed. Paimon laughed dejectedly.
“Well, what else can this lady do? If that is the case, then this lady will resort to even selling her body.”
“It does not matter whether that human is a man or a woman. Ehem, despite how this lady may appear, this lady is the Queen of Mares. If it is simply a single feeble-minded human, then this lady is confident that she will be able to capture them with ease. This lady will approach that human while pretending to be doing them as many favors as possible. This lady will then utilize all sorts of means and methods in order to make them fall in love with this lady!”
“Ah, is that, perhaps, also not allowed? Haa. This lady surrenders. It is this lady’s defeat. This lady is no longer able to think up of any more plausible ideas. No, in the first place, Sir Dantalian was the one who had brought forward too many absurd conditions. It is not this lady’s fault. Even if you were to ask this question to someone that is not this lady, they would all raise a white flag······.”
All of my questions have been answered.
⎯⎯ It is this lady’s first time meeting a man such as yourself.
⎯⎯ This lady shall bestow upon you the right to steal this lady’s lips, Mr. Self-entitled Hero.
All of those things were an act.
It was a desperate struggle in order to seduce the calamity known as the hero.
⎯⎯ Yes, this lady is a Demon Lord. This lady has deceived you, Hero. However, is that a problem? This lady loves you. Leaping over all sorts of favor and spite, be it race or status, enemy or ally, this lady simply loves you truly. Ever since the moment this lady had first laid her eyes upon you, and for all eternity.
⎯⎯ ······Demons and humans living together. This lady had started to dream of that possibility after meeting you. However, it cannot be helped, can it? Since dreams are similar to that of the fluttering of frail flower petals, this lady cannot blame you.
It was all a tactical deceit.
⎯⎯ Humans are truly amazing. Did you know that there is a country referred to as a republic nation somewhere on the continent? This lady heard that humans, fairies, and dwarves all live equally without exerting or receiving any discrimination whatsoever. The day where even humans and demons are able to live together harmoniously like that will one day arrive. Yes, this lady has no doubts about it.
⎯⎯ This is an already dying body. Could you not bestow upon this lady a final kiss?
Even when she was breathing her last breath, she implored love from her enemy. In the exact moment the shadow of death had enshrouded her face, the last thing Paimon felt was the hero’s lips. In the end, her death was the enemy’s breath and kiss. For that to be someone’s last moment, it was excessively cruel. Exactly what emotions were going through Paimon’s mind as she requested for that kiss?
Her love, affection, confession, blushed cheeks that appeared as if she were shy, the movement of her head as she shook it, the hundreds of lines she had spoken, and the thousands of body gestures she had made, what was going through the Queen of Mares’ head while she was doing this entire performance on her own? Just what sort of venom did she have to embrace in order to make her performance of affection, that was directed towards the enemy of her kind who was standing before her, possible······?
I will admit it.
From this moment on, you are no longer my political rival. A cooperator. You are a political partner like Barbatos. How could I possibly leave alone this rare model of an actor?
Your twisted lamentation. Your resolve that had soaked and tempered that twistedness and struck it with a hammer until it was stretched out properly. I had taken a liking to it. Even if I have to grab and drag both you and Barbatos by the collars, I will lead you two on top of the stage.
Be grateful. I am selecting you retired actors, who were once destined to merely meet your ends while playing supporting characters, to perform leading roles. The fact that you two treated each other as enemies had low importance to me. If you are going to fight, then fight. Except, exchange blows and slander one another in an area behind the stage where I cannot see. Since you both are now actors who will be performing with me, you have the obligation to be beautiful while on stage.
After making a decision in my mind, I moved my lips.
“Your Highness Paimon.”
“Please come visit me at my prison once the morning sun has risen. I shall decide my position at that time.”
Be relieved, Paimon.
You have escaped from my purge list.
However, you will have to be drenched in the blood of others just as much instead.
(TL note: Please do not read the English translation of Dungeon Defense on any site that is not my own. Readlightnovel is a site that steals translations from people without permission and receives ad revenue for it. Don’t be that guy who supports them.)
Empire Calendar: Year 1506, Month 4, Day 8
Bruno Plains, Army of the Crescent Alliance, Simple Prison
It was a day where the cold was evidently clearing up.
In each place, where the firm earth had melted and became soft, muddy water flowed over the ground as if it were oozing. The soil, that had compacted tightly because of the cold spring rain, was just barely able to become disgorged after it had received the rays from the spring sun. It was an unsightly spring since there were no flowers or trees in sight. It seemed as if spring had yet to arrive because of that. Amidst this season that felt as if it were still approaching, two people were approaching from the distance.
Two people were walking this way from the distance. The two noticed each other and stopped momentarily. They then resumed their way towards me while furrowing their respective brows.
The first side to open their mouth was Barbatos.
“Fucking Hell. Dantalian, what’s this bitch doing here? Don’t tell me you called her here. I advise you to tell me that you didn’t. Hurry up and chase this bitch away. If you don’t, then there’s a good chance that the answer, which I contemplated throughout the entire night to decide, will change in less than a minute.”
“Oh dear, this side is the one who should be making a complaint.”
Like a piano that had come in competitively during an orchestra performance, Paimon then followed up.
“This lady had personally received an invitation from Dantalian to visit around dawn. You coming here at this time is purely a coincidence, is that not so? If anything, if there is a person who deserves to be chased out of here the most, then would it not be you?”
“This bitch said some nonsense a couple of days ago about Dantalian being hers, but it seems she’s completely nuts now. Seriously, it feels as if the smell of shit is going to start flowing out of her mouth.”
Barbatos raised her middle finger on her left hand and made a V shape with her index and middle fingers on her right hand. One side was a gesture commonly used in the demon continent, while the other side was a gesture often used in the human society. Regardless, both sides contained the same implication of ‘respectfully, go fuck yourself’. By the looks of it, it seems Barbatos thought that gifting only a single ‘fuck you’ to Paimon would go against courtesy. That was why, in order to make sure that anyone would be able to tell that they were being given the bird, she had presented a ‘fuck you’ on a global perspective.
“Beasts that shit out of their asses are more aristocrat-like. There is nothing that can be done for a crazy bitch who shits out of her mouth. Listen carefully, whore. Dantalian is not your object. Regardless of whether you invaded Dantalian’s dream and raped him or not.”
“Haa? What kind of preposterous delusion······. Barbatos, although this lady does not have the duty to go along with your vulgar tone, this lady will at least clearly tell you a single fact. This lady did not engage in a physical relationship with Dantalian. Purely in a mental meaning, that is what this lady meant by having taken Dantalian. In other words, it contains a psychological context that is so pure that someone who is of a low birth like you cannot possibly be able to comprehend it. It is all your foolish misunderstanding and prejudice.”
“Look at this? A female is clearly emitting an air that she had bedded a male, so either my eyes are retarded or there’s absolutely nothing to misunderstand. Aha, or did you two, perhaps, copulate using the rear hole instead of the front? ‘That was what I had slightly misunderstood from the air that was floating around you two fuckers right now’, are you trying to tell me some bullshit that goes along this line?”
“It seems you are still unable to comprehend words. Is it your ears that are weird, or, as this lady had expected, is it your brain that is rotten? If your hearing is broken, then that is understandable. If your brain is out of order, then there is room for sympathy. However, if your personality is the thing that is corroded, then that is beyond redemption.”
“This underhanded whore······.”
“What will you do about it, gum-scab chest?”
The path that must be crossed in order for life to become a single melody was distant, but these two were able to extract tunes abundantly by merely crossing each other with swears. They were gifted singers to one another. Nevertheless, I had no other choice but to open my mouth and cease the performance.
“The two of you, please calm down.”
If possible, I wanted to keep watching over your argument, however right now was the time to cooperate, not fight. The two heard my voice and turned to look this way.
“I did, indeed, call the both of you here. It is fine to quarrel, but please do it after listening to what I have to say.”
“Ah, well, that bitch was the one who started it first since she screwed me over by refusing the military trial, right? For starters, let me receive an apology since it’s her fault and not mine.”
“This lady had advised you to not punish Dantalian in the first place. But you were most likely unable to hear this lady’s words since your ears, brain, and personality are corroded three times over.”
“Does this bitch want to die?”
“Go ahead and try.”
This is troubling. I sincerely want to continue listening to this.
Thus, I let them be for a single moment.
Once an hour had passed, the two of them were breathing heavily due to exhaustion. If I were to give my personal impression, then even if you combined all of the profanities that I heard throughout my entire life, that would still be lacking when compared to the profanities which I had heard during the past hour. Also, consider the fact that I did not receive only one or two obscenities from people. That was a remarkable achievement.
“Is it fine for me to talk now?”
There was no objection so it was unanimous.
I cleared my throat.
“I, as well, am fully aware of the wrongdoing which I have committed. A Demon Lord’s authority originates from the fact that they represent all of demonkind. However, the war speech, which was only bestowed upon Demon Lords, was stolen from them by a human. The Demon Lord, who should represent all of demonkind the most, had passed on the right to give the speech to a being, who cannot and absolutely should not represent all of demonkind the most; a human······. The demons would have no other choice but to carry suspicions. Why did a human child have to represent us? Has the Crescent Alliance lost its pride? In truth, was there no other talented individual out there who could represent us besides that human······?”
I shrugged my shoulders.
“Even if the commoners did not harbor any doubts, the problems continue. There are quite the number of Demon Lords who carry dissatisfaction towards the current system of the Crescent Alliance which is led by the Plains Faction-Mountain Faction-Neutral Faction group. Those people will be the first ones to take action in order to circulate doubt. They will claim that the current Crescent Alliance does not have the qualification to act for the demon race. Your authority itself will tremble.”
There were many discontented elements. Rank 1 Baal, Rank 2 Agares······. The Demon Lords with the highest amount of prestige did not take part in the Crescent Alliance. They were most likely making an implicit complaint.
“They are merely looking forward to the day we fail. The Demon Lords who have started this war are us, and the Demon Lords who will have to take the responsibility for the loss of the war will also be us. The right to criticize us will be presented to the Demon Lords who, from beginning to end, did not participate in the expedition.”
Barbatos and Paimon, they both fell under the category of being faction leaders. Although their respective political ideologies were different, because one side was a radical party and the other was a moderate party, they both had the same single common ground, the fact that they were both onboard the same boat known as the Crescent Alliance.
We were a group that shared a common destiny.
It would be troublesome if I did not make them realize this soon.
“Your Excellency Barbatos. Your Highness Paimon. We must become one and form an alliance as soon as possible. If we do not, then the only thing that will be awaiting us in the future is ruin.”
After the two of them had adjusted their breaths, they glared at each other.
“But I lived until now just so I could torture this bitch.”
“What a coincidence. It is also this lady’s life goal to trample over you.”
It took 30 minutes this time.
I beamed while the two panting people were standing before me.
“I understand that the two of you are alive because you have not killed each other yet. However, what about this? Does killing each other still have the priority even when there are backstabbers, who have been selling the two of you out, brazenly walking around your military camps?”
“For 400 years, the expedition of the Crescent Alliance has failed. During those 400 years, you all have endeavored in order to obtain victory, but the other Demon Lords in the back must have devoted themselves just as much in order to make you all fail. Surely, you do not believe that there would not be even a single traitor within your factions?”
Due to the immensely realistic remark, both Barbatos and Paimon became silent. There was probably something specific that had come to their minds. To a certain degree, they were conscious of the fact that there could be traitors, but they had purposely turned a blind eye to it. Doing that put them more at ease, after all.
Paimon slowly opened her mouth.
“······Dantalian, this is an action that can never be stopped once it has started. The entire demon continent will be split into two sides and a civil war will begin. It is unadvisable to make enemies in our rear when we are currently in the situation where the Crusaders are located right in front of us.”
“If anything, this moment is the golden opportunity.”
“Our forces had suffered a defeat just yesterday. It may have not been a crushing defeat, but a defeat is a defeat. ‘Surely in this situation where we had lost to the Crusaders, they would not attempt to purge the ones who, like themselves, are in the rear’, in the position of those traitors, a purge is something that is incredibly difficult for them to imagine.”
“A defeat on the battlefield is, on the contrary, a quick opportunity to clean out······.”
“Yes. That is correct.”
I nodded my head. While Paimon was calmly dwelling on my words, Barbatos scowled her face at me.
“Wait. Setting aside the traitors, what are we going to do about those Crusader bastards? In the end, a purge is just an act that cuts off your own flesh. We’re already in a state where we’re being pushed back, so we’ll reach a dead end if we become even weaker now.”
“It is fine. Currently, the side that is in more of a crisis is the Crusaders.”
Although I normally used informal language when speaking to Barbatos, no matter how you looked at it, I was an outstanding gentleman since I was going out of my way to use formal language because of the mere fact that Paimon was with us. However, similar to how someone would not notice some dirt stuck underneath their nails, Barbatos seemed to have not noticed my consideration.
“Recall the battle that had unfolded yesterday. Is something not strange? Regardless of how many disparate groups may be mixed in with their forces, the overall movement of the Crusaders was excessively poor. They rushed in the instant Farnese tossed herself out as bait as if they were all waiting for that exact moment.”
Barbatos’ eyes became narrow. She immediately understood what I was trying to say. That made the story quick. As expected of Barbatos.
“······Hoh. That means the speech that human child gave is showing more results than I expected. In order to hold the soldier’s wavering minds tightly, there was a need for them to kill that child.”
I raised the corners of my lips.
“The current situation within the Crusaders is probably severe. Even if deserters did not particularly appear, the soldiers’ morales have most likely fallen by themselves. On the other hand, there is a reason why only the officers and men of Habsburg, who are led by the Imperial Princess, are still firm.”
“Because the Imperial Princess’ speech was excellent.”
That was so.
Yesterday’s battle ended with the victory of Farnese and Elizabeth. Farnese’s victory revealed the divided appearance of the Crescent Alliance while Elizabeth’s victory reflected the dreadful morale within the Crusaders. There was nothing more miserable than an army where only a single hero has obtained victory.
“Moreover, multiple nations were nearly annihilated in yesterday’s battle. The credit of saving them goes completely to the Imperial Princess······. From the generals to the privates, there is most likely unrest looming over them within the Crusaders. Excluding Elizabeth von Habsburg, there is no one else who is dependable. I am certain that this sort of atmosphere is blowing violently through their forces. Furthermore, the leading members of the governments of the other nations would never forgive the spread of this sort of mentality. In the end, before long, the Crusaders will······.”
Barbatos and Paimon gazed at me, glared at each other, and then turned to look at me once more before nodding deeply. The word that came to mind within the three of our heads was coincidentally the same.
Our Crescent Alliance was not the only group that was going to arrive at an internal conflict. Even the Crusaders, while embracing a different reason, will leap into a state of civil war where the victorious humans will purge all of the humans who had been defeated. In other words, from now on.
“⎯⎯⎯⎯This, is a race against time. According to which army finishes their purge the fastest, and according to how quickly and efficiently they are able to carry it out, the outcome of the war will be decided.”
Paimon muttered quietly.
It was just as she had said. It was solely a race against time.
We had to finish our purge as soon as possible and project a single condensed military strength. Will the Imperial Princess Elizabeth be first? Will we be first? The fate of the continent will be determined according to that. I fumbled with the pocket watch that was in my pocket. Although a moment of time was a person’s everyday time and the time of war, from this point forth, time was simply a moment to slaughter our kind for us. There was no room for hesitation here.
“Identifying the traitors is simple. The two of you both, return to your respective encampments and criticize each other. The reason why we were defeated in yesterday’s battle was because the opposite faction had responded to the situation foolishly. You two badmouthing each other whenever you have the time to spare is a daily occurrence anyway so no one will suspect a thing.”
“After doing so, ‘Ah, how good would it be if there was a trustworthy ally?’, slip in this remark. In that moment, there will be a couple of fellows who will quietly approach you and offer to liaise you with a ‘Demon Lord who they personally know’. Those people are the traitors.”
Those who try to seize the opportunity of when the three factions are faltering in order to carry out a military takeover.
Those who act as the informant of someone specific and try to lure Barbatos and Paimon.
They were all parasites that deserved to be exterminated.
Barbatos and Paimon made their way through the dark curtains and came to visit me. Their faces, which were half in doubt when they left at dawn, were now grim. After a long moment of silence, Barbatos began to speak.
“······There were three people on my side. What about you, whore?”
“Four people. Although they were mostly youngsters with low ranks······.”
“Each one of them was an informant for a different Demon Lord. Sir Baal, Rank 3 Vassago, Rank 4 Gamigin, and Rank 6 Valefor······.”
“Wow. Fuck, that’s nearly the same as me. I got Vassago, Gamigin, and Valefor on my side. Those fucking bastards······. There really is no easy way to deal with these bat-like bastards.”
Barbatos gritted her teeth.
There are approximately 30 Demon Lords who are participating in this war. If 7 of them were informants, then that meant that nearly 1/4 of the entire army were traitors. For leaders, who led a faction, that was a ratio which they had no other choice but to grind their teeth with vexation about. Referentially, this was also a number that did not include the Neutral Faction. Paimon spoke in a worried tone.
“What will we do about Marbas? Since he has departed in order to pillage for supplies in the rear, he will be unable to return for a while.”
“With that old man’s personality, it’ll be a lot better if he isn’t present when we carry out a purge. For someone who looks so sinister, he dislikes shedding unnecessary blood, after all. Once he gets back after the situation is over, we’ll explain it to him then.”
Barbatos made an invidious remark.
“All right. Purge. The Imperial Princess will be after that and then you’ll be last, whore. Until then, I’ll cooperate with you.”
“That is something which this lady should be the one to say since we will be forming an alliance only until everything has been settled. Keep your neck clean until that moment arrives.”
Barbatos gave the middle finger and Paimon showed a V with her middle and index fingers. These two had quite the pretty relationship.
On this side of the cage, I watched the appearance of the two Demon Lords who had snarling faces and appeared as if they were about to tear each other apart. It seems that the moment to be released from this prison has almost arrived. It was short, but it was a beautiful life in prison.
I was still in this prison.
Empire Calendar: Year 1506, Month 4, Day 9
Bruno Plains, Dantalian’s legion
“Farnese, you definitely said that you could play music, right?”
“Mmm? Indeed, that is the case, Lord.”
Today was the day that hung at the end of the week which His Lordship had forewarned about.
This young lady adjusted her clothes in front of the prison. Different to other commanders, this young lady did not appoint an attendant. This young lady had to manage life on her own, but since this lady was going to consult with His Lordship about what she should do on this day, this young lady was receiving an inspection from His Lordship to see whether she had put on her military uniform properly or not while she was at it.
“This is related to music, but······. Oi, your mantle is crooked there.”
“There. Right there.”
“If Your Lordship only says ‘there’, then how is this young lady supposed to know where that is? What method is this young lady supposed to use in order to figure out where ‘there’ is, when it could be Your Lordship’s eyes or balls? Instead of only saying ‘there’, give this young lady some exact directions.”
“Haa, this troublesome child. I have always laid the right direction out for you. Come here so I can fix it myself.”
This young lady approached the prison and left the arrangement of her clothes to His Lordship. His Lordship pulled on the edge of this young lady’s clothes firmly. Tug, tug······ through the thick layer of cloth, this young lady could feel His Lordship’s hands entwining here and there. It almost felt as if it were this young lady’s first time experiencing the sensation of having another person help put on her clothes.
“So what do you mean by music, Lord?”
“Is it not your hobby to gather skulls and compose scores while those skulls are spread out around you? However, you have only written scores, never have I ever seen you perform them. What sort of conduct is that?”
“This young lady did not feel the particular need to play them.”
This young lady answered honestly.
Music was this young lady’s old habit. This young lady was gifted with an excellent sense of hearing to an accursed degree. As this young lady was unable to ever forget something which she had heard, it was indefinitely piled up in a certain corner of this young lady’s skull like oil. There were many, many days where the oil, that had accumulated like that, would occasionally become a mirage on its own and play in this young lady’s head as if it were an auditory hallucination. It was in those very moments that this young lady would compose scores.
“Since the sound had already flowed through this young lady’s head, what reason could there possibly be for this young lady to go out of her way just to perform and repeat the same tune?”
“I am saying this because it seems I will soon be able to leave this prison. I went through this precipitous state in order to protect you, so would it not be your duty to welcome my release from imprisonment? Any song would be fine when I come out so pick out the song that you can play best.”
“The commemoration of Your Lordship’s release from prison, is it······?”
After hearing the reason, it was logical.
Since this young lady has not even once performed for anyone throughout her entire life, devoting that first experience to His Lordship was sufficient enough to be a present. The fact that His Lordship had to spend a week behind bars because he had covered for this young lady was, as expected, this young lady’s burden. Referentially, since His Lordship was a small-minded male by nature, he would never forget a debt. Rather than living while in debt to His Lordship, being able to call it even after devoting some good-for-nothing thing like a first experience was much better.
Right when this young lady was about to nod her head, a question abruptly appeared in her mind and made its way through her lips.
“Lord, this young lady does not mind performing a complimentary concert, but this young lady has a question.”
“It must be nice to be curious about so many things. What is it this time?”
“Is this young lady Your Lordship’s doll?”
His Lordship’s hand stopped.
This young lady turned her head back dubiously. His Lordship was silently looking this way. His Lordship’s pupils contained a single black color so it was relaxing to stare into them. Black was this young lady’s favorite color.
“Who said that to you?”
“The Imperial Princess of the Empire did.”
“This young lady apologizes for telling Your Lordship this now. This young lady did not go against your order, Lord. Something like fighting against the Imperial Princess did not occur. However, after the previous battle was over, the Imperial Princess had called for this young lady. The Imperial Princess said this after calmly examining this young lady. Are you a puppet? Are you a corpse? Or are you both? She claimed that it was perplexing since all of the people, who Your Lordship tries to embrace, have only remains left.”
“The Imperial Princess said to pass on a message to Your Lordship. That, after meeting your doll, I, Elizabeth von Habsburg, think she is somewhat pretty.”
His Lordship listened up to that point and let out a sigh.
“Were you shaken by those words?”
“This young lady did not waver. Since this young lady is neither a puppet nor a corpse, she is a human who is living properly. Your Lordship had given life to this young lady. That is something which this young lady has never had a shadow of a doubt about.”
This young lady nodded her head.
“As expected, this young lady wondered if she were a child who was wrongly born into this world.”
His Lordship became silent. Even during muteness, emotions did not emerge in His Lordship’s eyes. His Lordship, for someone who mostly displayed trivial emotions to his heart’s content, never expressed even a shred of any serious emotions. Even though people were generally the complete opposite of that. Since His Lordship was quiet, this young lady continued speaking comfortably.
“This young lady can guess why Your Lordship scrapes together only remains. A ruin will not be lonely when within ruins. If there are only collapsed remains in one’s surroundings, then the wreckage is not something that had simply met its end there, but instead, it is something that feels as if it can continue to stay there and something that appears sufficient on its own. This young lady is able to consider herself to be a normal individual when within that place since Miss Lapis, Captain Humbaba, and the other witches are there. Your Lordship must also be like that in your own right.”
“Regardless, we are able to breathe by going into Your Lordship’s embrace, but what does Your Lordship plan to do? Even if Barbatos can hug Your Lordship, is she not incapable of shouldering you? Even if Paimon pulls Your Lordship in, is she not incapable of taking you in whole? Miss Lapis and, as expected, this young lady as well are worried that, on the contrary, Your Lordship may be the one to embrace those two······. Lord, is that okay?”
His Lordship scratched his forehead. After sighing a couple of times, His Lordship soon drew his brow together and flicked this young lady’s forehead.
“That is why I have been telling you to quickly become independent, you fool. Look at Lapis. Even if I do not give her any orders, does she not get everything done on her own? It would be great if you all were able to hastily follow Lapis’ example.”
“It feels like the horrors of the world would increase if people followed Miss Lapis’ example······.”
“What nonsense is the person, who should have already easily slaughtered over 10,000 people, saying?”
That was true.
His Lordship took something out from his coat. It was a masquerade ball mask. This young lady tilted her head, unsure of what His Lordship intended to do by handing that mask to this young lady.
“What sort of mask is that?”
“Tomorrow, we will purge every last traitor within the Crescent Alliance. When you perform your concert in celebration of my release, the majority of the Demon Lords taking part in the Crescent Alliance will gather momentarily under the pretext of holding a religious service towards the Gods. Those who are wearing masks will live, and those who are not will die.”
I see, a tool to identify friend or foe.
This young lady was curious as to why it was a music performance of all things. This young lady’s performance was bait to attract attention. The Demon Lords will take their seats and will all be watching this young lady. That very moment, when they have lowered their guards, was the prime opportunity to wipe out the traitors in one fell swoop.
“It seems it will be quite the special concert, Lord.”
“Of course, it is the day where I am being released from prison so it should be special, should it not? The preparation of the stage will be taken care of by Barbatos and Paimon. Do not be concerned and just perform. By the time you hit the last key, the bodies of traitors will be sprawled out there.”
This young lady nodded in approval.
“However, you have yet to answer this young lady’s question, Lord. Trying to go past it evasively will not work on this young lady. Please answer. Is this young lady Your Lordship’s doll?”
His Lordship clicked his tongue.
“It seems only your pettiness has increased needlessly. If you are curious about that, then come back after carrying out today’s battle. By the time you return, you will have figured out the answer on your own.”
Thus, this young lady set forth.
Today was a day where the short rainy season of early spring had ended and the sky had cleared.
Although there were pools of mud still stagnated here and there on the ground, it felt as if they were going to dry up soon because of the hot spring sun. Once the soil has become firm, the war will most likely resume in earnest again. Currently, be it the Crescent Alliance or the Crusaders, they simply sent out detached units occasionally and had minor battles.
This young lady led a single squad and wandered from this side to that side of the great plain. En route, we encountered enemy scouts and assaulted them, but they were barely a problem. It was at the moment when this young lady thought that today was going to simply end like how the past couple of days had. From the other side of the plain, a single group of enemy soldiers gradually rushed towards us. This young lady held her breath for an instant after glancing at the flag the enemy soldiers were carrying.
A pattern with a blue hydrangea and a buck.
The House of Duke Farnese from the northern region of the Kingdom of Sardinia.
The flag of the family that this young lady was born and raised in was there.
“Araa? For some small unit like that to try and pick a fight with us, they have a lot of guts. What should we do, General? If you tell us to wipe them out, then we will immediately.”
“General? The likes of us can only move if you give us a command.”
This young lady merely answered the Captain of the Royal Guard, Humbaba’s words with silence. Even while this young lady was quiet, time steadily flowed and the enemy soldiers gradually drew near. Then, the enemies soon stopped.
Shortly after, a single man came out from the center of the enemy group while riding on a war horse. The man, who was brilliantly wearing a blue set of armor and helmet, spread his arms out wide and shouted.
“Laura! My loveable child! This father of yours is here!”
⎯⎯⎯⎯By that one line, regardless of whether they were allies or enemies, every single common soldier stared at this young lady.
The bewilderment on the soldiers’ faces was evident. Especially the witches who were a part of the Royal Guard. The witches were aware of the secret behind this young lady’s birth. The fact that this young lady was the daughter of a slave and was also a child who was sold off as a slave.
Indeed, it was exactly on the third day, Lord.
Despite not having seen him, the Imperial Princess babbled smoothly as if she understood His Lordship, and His Lordship as well was able to accurately predict what the Imperial Princess would do because he understood her, despite not being able to see her.
This young lady carefully observed the elderly man. A deeply seamed face, a smile that appeared as if it were overflowing with goodwill towards people, without a doubt, this man was the biological father that had given birth to this young lady and had also violated her.
“I rushed here urgently after I heard the news that you were here. Aha, but what is this? This father of yours is a human and you are the child of a human, and yet, why is the place where you are standing at not among humans but in the center of demons? Laura, return to the place where you rightfully must be.”
This young lady’s father.
The place where she rightfully must be.
Was this young lady’s biological father referring to that dust-filled library as the place where this young lady must be? That small room where one had to offer their body once in order to receive a single meal? The name of the prison where this young lady had tried to disappear just like that by starving herself to death, but without fail, her father would break down the door and keep this young lady alive, and by keeping her alive, he kept her dead.
This young lady quietly closed her eyes. The sound of cicadas that could still be vividly heard were there, and between the bug cries that compactly resonated all around, a groan crawled through.
⎯⎯ Laura, uh. Laura······.
When this young lady’s father violated her, this young lady was silent.
She did not resist.
This young lady did not wish to raise her nails and leave her mark by ripping into his shoulder blades. People who do not want to disappear from the world are bound to grab onto something, but the only place that this young lady could grab was her father’s exposed back. Whenever this young lady’s father groaned slightly into this young lady’s thigh, stomach, and face, the thought that this human still fairly wants to live would cross her mind.
Since this young lady boasted an immense amount of beauty, it was not like this young lady was unable to understand her father. If there were a large rod attached to this young lady’s lower body and, after throwing a slight amount of this young lady’s ethical conscience away, this young lady had the ability to freely penetrate the most beautiful woman in
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