Dungeon Defense - Chapter 9
Chapter 5 – The Most Extravagant Circus (Part 2)
Amidst the uproarious atmosphere in the ballroom.
“…… The one with the highest rank amongst us, is myself. It would only be appropriate for a Demon Lord to be the judge of a conflict between two Demon Lords.”
I wonder if he had thought that he couldn’t remain as a spectator anymore, but rank 5th Demon Lord Marbas had stepped forward.
“Ivar Lodbrok. I shall be temporarily taking the role as the host. I’m sorry, but the weight of this hearing is too much for me to leave in your hands.”
“As you desire, your highness.”
The old vampire obediently backed off.
Marbas stood in the center of the hall.
The way his legs were standing firmly made it feel like he was a gigantic tree. His stability was remarkable. This bald man with a burly stature was knitting his brows a fair amount, as if he didn’t really find this situation to be pleasing at all.
“I am rank 5th. As the Demon Lord in charge of nobleness, I shall formally receive Paimon’s request. The accused is rank 71st. No name, Demon Lord Dantalian.
Marbas’ announcement weighed heavily on the surrounding.
His dignified voice would not allow any objections. The Demon Lords lowered their gazes, and the faeries floated into a line and carefully bowed.
“Excluding the people directly involved, intervention from a third-party is strictly prohibited. Dantalian. The one accused on this Walpurgis Night. Come forth and face your accuser.”
It would only be appropriate to obey the host.
Taking a couple of steps forward, I stood at the exact center of the ballroom.
Paimon and myself, we stared at each other while leaving a slight gap between us.
Like how duels would start between gladiators in the Rome Colosseum.
“Once both sides has finished their refutation, we shall decide on whose opinion is right by majority vote. First, I shall present the right to question Dantalian to the accuser, Paimon.”
Paimon grabbed both ends of her skirt and bowed.
It felt like time had stood still on the folds of her politely raised skirt.
“Thank you for accepting this hearing.”
Paimon slowly glared this way.
“Shall we confirm all of the facts first then? Dantalian.”
“As you wish, your highness.”
I bobbed my head in greeting.
In truth, it was the first time we were facing each other, and yet there were reserved no actions between us. Hostility was more explicit than goodwill.
“You, on the 8th month and 16th day, at the daybreak of 4 o’clock, murdered Demon Lord Andromalius in the Hermes’ Plaza of Niflheim. Is this lady correct?”
“That is correct. I admit this.”
“And, Dantalian. You, knowing full well that the other party was a Demon Lord, murdered him anyway. Is this lady wrong?”
“That is also correct. Ah, but if I were to respond more accurately.”
I raised my shoulders.
“I did not know he was a Demon Lord from the very beginning. While I was drinking beer in the plaza, some young greenhorn was beating up the elderly. I had wondered what kind of bastard it was. And it turned out it was a Demon Lord. I was a bit surprised.”
“…… In other words, you did not murder the Demon Lord on accident, but you had murdered him with the intention to do so.”
I shook my head.
“I apologize, your highness Paimon. But there is a slight misunderstanding.”
Paimon creased her brows.
“What kind of misunderstanding could be in this clear truth?”
“I’m referring to Andromalius. Swearing to the Goddesses, your highness Paimon, I would have killed that mongrel regardless of the fact of him being a Demon Lord or not.”
People started to stir.
Paimon frowned and warned me.
“……Dantalian. Today is the Walpurgis Night, and you are currently being accused of murder. How about making your way of speech a bit more polite?”
“Ooh. Excuse me, but I can not do so. Your highness, with a delighted mind, I will continue to call Andromalius a mongrel. Believe me. It was only appropriate for that bastard to die.”
“Honestly, it’s a bit regrettable. I should have gifted that fool with a more painful death. I had simply ended it by stabbing him in the throat with a dagger once. He really was garbage, roaming through the alleyways like a bum. It’s obvious as to how weak he was.”
The stirring grew much louder.
I was purposely exaggerating my words and making them more offensive.
Marbas had said that we would decide who was right by majority vote. As much as Paimon was the rank 9th Demon Lord, she had that many followers as well. So if a normal battle of votes were to happen just like this? As the person who doesn’t even have a single follower, my fate was certain defeat.
Thus, I had to make an ally.
The Demon Lord who hated Paimon.
The Demon Lord who preferred crude words over gentle words.
And most importantly, the high-class Demon Lord to have as much followers as Paimon.
That was so.
I was not responding to Paimon, but I was appealing to Barbatos instead. Now, watch me carefully. There’s a rookie here that should certainly suit your preference.
You want to get a shot in on Paimon, right? You should still have some piled up rage from losing in that argument earlier. I shall fulfill that desire in your stead. Barbatos. All you have to do is pick me during the majority vote. Albeit temporary, it will be an amazing alliance……
“Measure your words, Dantalian!”
“Andromalius was our kin!”
“I can only agree with half of your highness’ opinion. Andromalius was not simply one of our kin. He was a disgraceful member of our kin. Ah, everyone! Please! Let us be more honest.”
I quickly turned to look around.
“Just because that mongrel did not want to pay for his alcohol, he had assaulted the bar owner. The owner was an old dwarf who was so aged that his back was crooked. But, that’s not all. I had done some research later on and found out that the amount of citizens he had killed in Niflheim alone was 54 people!”
“There are even 12 kids included in that list. Did you all know this? That guy had whipped these kids to death simply because they did not lower their heads to him. But if you were to add up not only the casualties but the injured as well, then the total would be 327 victims. Do keep in mind, this is only the number of publicly known victims. Everyone. If someone were to tell me that that mongrel had raped a young girl and threw her corpse away in the sewers, I wouldn’t be surprised! Oh, Goddesses! Please order the devils of Hell to punish Andromalius for all of eternity!”
Paimon opened her mouth.
“On what nerve, before this lady…… Dantalian. This lady can accuse you again for contempt of court. Fix your tone immediately.”
The corners of my mouth contorted.
Let’s take a step back for now.
“…… My apologies, your highness Paimon. I would also like to apologize to all of the lords here today as well. I do not have the intentions to disgrace everyone here.”
I placed my palm on my forehead as if I was tremendously regretting the harsh statement I had just made.
Rampancy and honesty were two different things. Rampancy was the act of pushing yourself onto others and being a nuisance. On the other hand, honesty was the act of cooking yourself to look appealing and then serving yourself to others. As if you were telling them to ‘savor me’.
People liked honest and modest individuals. If I were to be well-behaved every once in a while, then the other party wouldn’t consider me as that much of an annoyance. With sad puppy dog eyes, I once again gazed around at the audience.
“Everyone. As you can see, I am nothing more than a fool who is unable to keep even a single thing precious to me by my side. Rank 71st. I am a no-named ricefish that has no commendable record or title…… That is my true essence.”
“However, despite being like that, I did not beat up an elderly man to avoid paying my bill. I did not assault 327 innocent civilians, and I did not kill 54 people among them.”
I lowered my voice by a notch.
Before I knew it, the ballroom had become silent.
“…… That was on the 8th month and 16th day. To be precise, four days ago. I had heard the sound of an old man crying out in the distance. And at that moment, I made eye contact with Andromalius. Your highness Paimon. Do you, perhaps, know what that guy had said the moment he looked at me?”
“…… To lower your gaze, is what I heard from a witness.”
“To be more accurate, it was, ‘What are you supposed to be? You aren’t going to lower your eyes?’.”
Several people around me clicked their tongues.
I made a bitter smile.
“What happened next was even more of a sight. Andromalius came over to where I was and assaulted my escorts. I had respectfully warned him to stop. And yet, Andromalius did not listen. He had then proceeded to hit my lover, who was also my vassal, and knocked her to the ground.”
I then pleaded.
“Your highness Paimon. What was I supposed to do in such a situation? Should I have dismissed my escorts and allowed myself to be under harms way? Or would it have been better to stay still and keep watch over my lover, while she was being struck and covered in dirt?”
Paimon did not answer.
The sensible and cultured Paimon could not behave boldly here. It was because she was caught in her own sense of justice that her mouth had stopped. She had checkmated herself.
The service time of showing humility and acting cute was over.
I slowly started to raise my voice.
“I will say it once again, everyone. Andromalius. He was a mongrel that did not deserve the right to even be referred to as a Demon Lord. Is it not the innocent civilians that were sacrificed that deserved to be consoled? Are they not the true victims that deserved to be compensated?”
“Because of parasites like Andromalius, the impression of all the Demon Lords became worse. Andromalius was not something like our kin! If it was truly for our race then, everyone! We were not supposed to follow the format of sacrificing 71 people for 1 man. We were supposed to follow the format of getting rid of 1 man for 71 people!”
Make him into the public enemy.
“Thus, I would like to ask. Your highness Paimon. Do you still consider Andromalius as our kin? Are you going to protect that larva-like Andromalius till the very end, while throwing away the rest of your race?”
A leading threat.
By making use of all kinds of rhetorical techniques.
I stared straight at Paimon.
“Your highness. Please answer.”
Paimon shut her lips tightly.
A terrified stillness fell over the ballroom.
It was then.
An applause could be heard from somewhere.
Barbatos was clapping her hands. People were looking at Barbatos with a blank expression. Seeing that, Barbatos tilted her head and smiled.
“What? His words are right.”
“I, too, honestly wanted to kill Andromalius since awhile back. But that worm-like brat did rather well staying out of my sight. Good job, rookie. Thanks for going through the trouble to exterminate that parasite in our stead.”
Barbatos continued to clap her hands.
And, following suit, one or two people at a time started to join in and applauded as well. Until eventually, the majority of the Demon Lord were giving an ovation. The amount of Demon Lords who did not clap and simply glared at me until the very end was 10 people. They were most likely Paimon’s followers.
[Your devilish performance has captivated the people!]
[Demon Lord Marbas’ affection went up by 1.]
[Demon Lord Barbatos’ affection went up by 2.]
[Demon Lord Zepar’s affection went up by 2.]
I’m sorry to say this, but you guys were just downgraded to the minority.
The judgement for hearings was purely done based on majority logic, and unfortunately, an institutional strategy that showed consideration to the minority did not exist. That was the limit to a primitive political system. If you think that it’s unfair then go develop democracy. Also, go start the French Revolution while you’re at it. Although it also felt like there was a high chance that a guillotine would cut off a Demon Lord’s head, oh well. There was a rule that progression was followed by the sacrifice of the minority. You could only accept your destiny.
“Be silent. I said that third-party intervention was prohibited.”
Marbas warned everyone sternly to be quiet.
“Especially you, Barbatos. That clapping just now was an act done to interfere with the hearing on purpose. Do not do it again.”
“Sorry about that, geezer. I was just purely moved. It’s been a long time since a useful guy came crawling out from the lowest ranking Demon Lords, they’re usually all trash. I didn’t have any intentions on insulting the prestige of the hearing.”
“I do not care about your intentions. I only care about the outcome of actions. Barbatos. As long as we aren’t in a relationship, do you not think that it would only be a waste of time to be considering the intentions of others?”
“Hm? Did you just indirectly confess to me, you geezer?”
“If you shut your mouth this instant, then I feel like love might spring forth.”
“What is this? I can’t miss out on my chance of getting a boyfriend for the first time in 500 years.”
Barbatos jokingly shrugged her shoulders.
I was able to get a basic grasp on what kind of relationship these two had. Barbatos was an incurable mischievous little sister, and Marbas was the older brother who had to deal with the constant stress of solving each and every immature antic of his little sister. The one to receive the most loss in this brother and sister relationship was the wholesome older brother. I knew it was so since I had experience dealing with 6 little sisters. You have my condolences, Marbas.
Marbas, as if he was shuddering, shook his head left to right.
“I shall end this hearing around here. As I told you all before, we shall decide with a majority vote on whose opinion is right. Now, with a show of hands……”
“Wait a moment.”
At that moment, Paimon spoke in a hurry.
Marbas raised a brow.
“What is it? Is there something more you’d like to say?”
“Yes, there are still some questions that this lady has yet to inquire Dantalian.”
Marbas took off his monocle and wiped it with a handkerchief.
Marbas’ voice became softer, as if he were talking to an old comrade.
“You and I have spent the past 500 years knowing one another. 500 years is quite the long period of time, don’t you think?”
“…… Indeed, it was a rather difficult period of time. Marbas.”
“As you would know about me, I as well, know about you. I will honestly confess as to why I did not hide my bitter mood throughout this entire hearing. Paimon. I know full well that there was no chance that you would sincerely want to protect Andromalius. If anything, it would be the complete opposite. It would only be appropriate for you to despise a man like Andromalius.”
Paimon became silent.
Marbas, after completely cleaning his monocle, put it on again. The golden frame of his monocle silently reflected the light of a candle.
“Tonight is the Walpurgis Night, Paimon. It’s the Walpurgis Night. At a time, this was a gathering that all Demon Lords were obligated to attend, but now it has lost its past virtue and we are barely able to have the majority of the members here. Baal, Agares, Vassago, and Gamigin…… In the now, where the entire continent is struggling with an unprecedented plague, where are the Demon Lords who were of a higher rank than myself, and what are they doing?”
Paimon lowered her head.
“Marbas. More than anyone else, you are the one to be the most committed to the demon-kind. This lady sincerely expresses her respect to you.”
“We respect one another. Therefore, the Demon Lords that did not attend this meeting— the ones that are located throughout the demon world, while being indifferent and only concerned for their own personal pleasures, let us avoid the situation where we are laughed upon by these Demon Lords.”
“Just for the claim alone that someone had tried to protect Andromalius during the Walpurgis Night is more than enough reason for people to ridicule us. Oh dear, I can already hear the mocking laugh coming from Agares. I shall ask of you frankly. Please do not worsen this predicament any further.”
Paimon bit her lips.
“……Let this lady have one more chance.”
She had placed her right hand on her chest and bowed deeply.
“Please, allow me to have this final chance.”
Marbas stroke his beard.
The Demon Lord who belonged to the 9th rank among Demon Lords had gone as far as to lower her head even after hearing Marbas’ speech. It would probably be difficult for Marbas to enforce his thoughts any further in this state. It was a problem of keeping face and maintaining formality. Eventually, Marbas gave a single nod.
Except, you will not say anything else besides that. Do what you want, but do not expect my help afterwards. It contained that kind of meaning. Paimon returned the nod and looked straight at me.
The first round was over.
She had the look as if she was telling me that the genuine second round was about to begin.
I spoke calmly.
“Your highness Paimon. There is something that I wish to tell you beforehand.”
“I have no emotion towards your highness Paimon whatsoever.”
Paimon narrowed her brows.
“What does that mean?”
“Even if your highness found fault in the incident with Andromalius, I understand your highness. In the end, I will bear no ill will.”
Despite everything, she was still a sensible and cultured individual.
Additionally, she had equipped a splendid pair of breasts on her chest. I worshipped the universe, revered the laws of nature, and praised beautiful breasts. Paimon, it was not too late to back out now.
I made a smooth smile.
“We could do a toast right this instant and reconcile.”
Step down from here.
If you didn’t want to be torn apart by fangs and bleed out, this was your final chance.
“This lady has requested for a hearing in order to distinguish what is right or wrong. I did not come here to drink wine with you.”
In response to my advice, Paimon had shown a clearly displeased face. As if she was bothered by the fact that someone who was merely rank 71st would even bring up such a thing.
I nodded several times to display that I had understood.
Occasionally, I’d have the suspicion that I was speaking in an alien language. Thus meaning, that I had a language system that was completely different from everyone else. I didn’t know why, but we would be able to understand each other, but that was merely luck on an astronomical chance, and in truth we were speaking in two completely different languages. For example, when I told them a line with the meaning of ‘if you don’t want to see blood then back away now’, in their language they would hear it as ‘please punch me in the face’.
I thought this was a rather strong hypothesis.
In my entire life I had given warnings like this hundreds of time, but how would one explain as to why not even a single person had ever respected my warning? There was always a justifiable reason behind why I had become a NEET.
I was the intelligent life form to have been born as a miracle by astronomical odds and preestablished harmony.
‘Don’t talk nonsense, big brother.’
‘Big brother is nothing more than a coward of poor quality.’
Of course, there were other people who had brought forward their own hypothesis.
Like a stubborn old professor from an academy who had made use his authority to suppress an original theory, so too did I listen without a word to whatever Paimon was clamoring about.
“…… This lady has employed an executive from the Keuncuska Firm as my exclusive consultant for quite a while now. That executive, not too long ago, had told this lady some rather alarming news.”
So there was a messenger going back and forth between Ivar Lodbrok and Paimon. How clever. Since olden times, it was only appropriate for remarkable schemers to not go anywhere personally, but to make use of a subordinate. That was why I had hired a charming and competent succubus recently. It was obvious, I was the greatest schemer after all.
“This lady believes that she doesn’t have to inform everyone of the recent calamity that is sweeping through the continent. The Black Death, this terrifying curse is taking the lives of both humans and demons indiscriminately……”
In addition, it was also filling my vault abundantly.
Hello, people of the continent. I’d like to give some words of comfort to the people who are struggling with the Black Death. Do not worry. With the simple payment of merely 10 gold coins, you could obtain the cure to the disease, the black herb. Save your life with money.
I did not think that this was an evil thing to do. If this went according to the original history in , the discovery of the cure was supposed to happen on 1507 on the Continental calendar, which was 2 years from now. People would die off helplessly for those two years.
Right now, people already knew about the effects of the black herb, thanks to my efforts. Except, since I had a monopoly over it, the only people capable of buying it were the minority of people; nobles, the rich, and bourgeois families. I planned to maintain this current market price for at least a year.
The majority of the poor commoners that were unable to obtain the money to buy the cure would die off. In this globally severe calamity, only the nobles and the wealthy will survive.
Of course, people would scorn me.
Like how Paimon was despising me right now.
It was fine to curse at me and call me a money-grubbing demon.
My plan was more profound than they could possibly imagine.
Despite how I was, I still planned to keep my civil duties as a person. Out of everyone in the world, it was a duty that only I could perform.
“…… Thankful to small mercies, there is a cure to the disease. Everyone. Do you all, perhaps, know who was the first person to discover that the black herb could treat the disease? It was Dantalian here. That was what the executive from the Keuncuska Firm had told this lady.”
People started to make a commotion.
Paimon spurred her voice.
“That’s not all. Dantalian had bought 30,000 black herbs before the plague had even occurred. This lady is unable to understand this part.”
“Dantalian. You not only knew when the Black Death was going to spread, but you had also gone further than that and knew what the cure to that disease was. The cure to a disease that had spread for the first time in history.”
Paimon raised her feather fan and pointed it towards me.
“How could one explain this? The answer is simple. Dantalian, you are the very culprit who had spread the Black Death!”
Paimon’s sharp thundering voice shook the ceiling.
People made a bigger commotion. The ballroom, in a bad meaning, started to get noisy. Was what Paimon had said the truth? Did someone create the Black Death artificially……? It felt like people were looking this way as if they were reprimanding me.
“Paimon. Slandering is not allowed in this hearing.”
Marbas spoke in a stern voice.
“The accusation that Dantalian is the culprit to have spread the plague. Are you making that claim while in possession of undeniable proof?”
“Dantalian, similar to this lady, had an exclusive consultant from the Keuncuska Firm. The procedure of buying the herbs was done through that consultant. The details on how Dantalian bought the cure, everything can most certainly be confirmed here!”
The clamour in the ballroom became more intense because of Paimon’s definite answer.
Marbas made a wry face and turned his gaze, and on that spot was the representative of the Keuncuska Firm. The vampire Ivar Lodbrok stood with a cane in his hand.
“Vampire. Is Paimon’s alleged statement the truth?”
“Ooh, honorable Marbas.”
The old vampire bowed his head.
“This one, because of a fearful mind, can not help but hesitate to judge whether something is the truth or not. However, if your highness so orders for it, this one can bring the evidence needed for this discussion whenever it is desired.”
“Are you saying that you can present the evidence right this instant?”
“Please give this one the order, and this one shall present it promptly.”
The rumbling from the people grew even louder.
‘Was all that true then?’, was the suspicion that had started to spread.
The people here were probably thinking along these lines. Paimon and Ivar were both individuals with an immense amount of authority. Surely, these two wouldn’t stubbornly insist that the plague was spread artificially for no reason. They had some type of evidence…… And thus, the people turned to glare at me as a result. Their gaze were filled with doubt.
It was at that moment, laughter could be heard.
At first, I couldn’t tell who was laughing. It was peculiar. I was still splitting up my concentration to focus on all 65 members in this ballroom. I couldn’t see even a single person who was laughing, and yet the laughing grew louder, and for some reason the eyes that were looking at me were becoming wider.
It was then that I had realized that the laughter was coming out from my own mouth. I could guarantee it, but this was not an act. I could not stop laughing. I spoke with a voice still filled with laughter.
“At most, I had endured my laziness and did my best. I could have not cared for something like a plague and have left it alone. That’s why I’m tired. It is determined that the reward for good will is always spite. Seriously, be it that world or this world, the worldly ways are always the same……”
“……What are you talking about, Dantalian?”
“I apologize, your highness Paimon. And to also my dear kinsmen. I had witnessed a part of the universe, so I was deeply moved for a moment. No matter where, people do not change. My decision to shut myself in a cave was quite the correct choice.”
Plato was wrong.
People were capable of digging further into a cave.
It meant that it wasn’t a one-way street to avoid people. (TL note: Allegory of the Cave)
Putting a smile on my lips, I turned to Marbas.
“Oh, honorable Marbas. I, of course, would like to declare my innocence. That is why, could you not allow me to have a short private conversation with the chief of the Keuncuska Firm for a moment?”
“A private conversation?”
“There is no need to be concerned. I may have said a private conversation, but it will be nothing more than exchanging a couple of lines. Why the chief executive of the Keuncuska Firm would be suspecting me, I have a general assumption as to what it might be. I simply want to see if I could solve this misunderstanding. It will not take that much time.”
“If it is just that, then there is no problem. I will allow it.”
“I thank you sincerely.”
I gestured for Ivar Lodbrok to approach me.
Ivar Lodbrok, with his head lowered, made hurried steps towards my direction. The vampire with a remarkable acting ability and splendid disguise immediately apologized as soon as he was near.
“My apologies, your highness. It is our firm’s rule to clearly make certain types of information public, if one of our clients were to request it. No matter what conclusion comes from this Walpurgis Night, this one swears that the Keuncuska Firm will assist your highness Dantalian till the very end.”
“Those are indeed reassuring words.”
On the other hand, Ivar Lodbrok’s expression was incredibly stern. Laugh a little. A Demon Lord like myself was laughing. If you shared your enjoyment then it would double. It would be polite to go along with this side’s antics.
Well, from the beginning, was it already a vampire that had lost all concept of what manners were? That was fine. I don’t particularly dislike teaching others. I shall patiently and earnestly tutor you personally.
“It is a shame that our first meeting is in this kind of situation.”
“This one thinks the same, your highness. If it means to regain your highness’ honor, then this one, Ivar Lodbrok, shall drag this old body and do whatever it takes to aid your highness.”
“Old body. Hm, old body, is it?”
“I’m sorry, chief. But I do not consider you to be old.”
“You still appear like you’re full of youth to me.”
“That……this one appreciates your highness’ kind words.”
Ivar Lodbrok made a confused expression. As if wondering why I was suddenly complimenting them in this sort of situation. It seemed our true vampire here was a bit slow-witted. To the very least, it was a type of student that tutors did not like to teach. A type of student who took 1 hour just to understand one math equation. If it were me I’d receive no less than 100,000 won an hour to teach this kind of student. But for this occasion, I think I’ll make it free of charge.
“No, no. I mean that I am truly jealous of your youth.”
Does he still not understand?
I was a teacher with a lot of patience. If I were to calmly explain each and every part, then I was certain that I would be able to make even a failed student obtain a great moral discovery and become proficient in a single subject. I did not easily throw away my hopes for people.
Thus, I leaned down.
I moved my mouth near Ivar Lodbrok’s ear.
Filling each and every one of my words with the goodwill from my heart—
I whispered softly.
“I’m curious as to how well your true body is doing.”
It was vividly transmitted that the other person had fallen into a speechless distress.
I very much enjoyed this sort of stillness. Finally, my poor student had grasped the laws of nature thanks to me. As the teacher who did his best to teach his student, I could only be proud.
Even the name of this law was straightforward.
The law of the jungle.
Realizing who was the hunter and who was the prey.
To make them regret how irresponsible they were for having plucked the mane of a lion.
Whenever I made fools, those who believed that they were the people in power, realize that they were nothing more than pork tripe on top of a grill, it felt like I was contributing to the nature of all things within this speck of dust in the universe and thus made me feel pleased. It would be fine to say that this was one of the very few pleasures in my life.
Ivar Lodbrok’s voice shook.
“How, do you know……?”
“Your blonde hair is quite beautiful.”
Another loveable silence fell before us.
There was no way that I wouldn’t know about this old gentlemen’s identity.
was a game played in the perspective of the human hero. That was why the hero was not able to have a close relationship with the demons. You went around slaying all kinds of demons anyways, so who would want such a thing?
Regardless, there was a unique vampire heroine who would surrender to the hero. She would overcome the racial gap between each other and fall in love with the hero. There was even a special route made specifically for her in the game.
The heroine’s name, Ivar Lodbrok.
That was so.
The true identity of this old gentleman with a wicked appearance was a heroine whose growth had forever stopped, leaving her with the appearance of a young girl.
That was why I was surprised when I first saw this old man, since their appearance from head to toe was completely different with their in-game character.
—That’s Ivar Lodbrok?”
—Yes. That man is the wealthiest person in the demon world, the owner of Keuncuska Firm, and a true vampire, Ivar Lodbrok.
I was able to mostly grasp what the hidden circumstances were.
According to the scenarios revealed in , Ivar Lodbrok’s story was like so: In the past she was incredibly loyal to a certain Demon Lord, but she was abruptly betrayed by the very Demon Lord she was serving and faced a near death situation. Afterwards, Ivar Lodbrok swore that she will never be used by a Demon Lord again and in order to fulfil that goal, she had begun to live her life while moving her conscience around her dolls, while cursing and scorning every Demon Lord.
Ivar Lodbrok betrayed the Demon Lord Allied Forces at a decisive moment, and was one of the main reasons as to why the hero’s forces were able to obtain victory. It was an exemplary case showing that it wasn’t too late for a noble person to achieve revenge even if it took 100 years.
As a person who had played through all of Ivar Lodbrok’s scenarios and her specific route— I, of course, knew of her real appearance, and also knew very well the fact that her real body was hidden under the snowy fields of the kingdom of Moscow.
It was a secret that Ivar had whispered to only the hero.
Since the hero wasn’t to appear until the year 1515 on the Continental calendar, in this current time, it was a tragedy that no one was supposed to know of.
Except for me.
“I am not concerned about something like your old body. I’m merely worried for the girl whose body is buried underneath a cold snowy field that is being ravaged by blizzards……”
“Aah, I truly am worried. I fear that wolves may appear abruptly and tear off her pitiful limbs. And who knows when villanous mountain thieves would appear and violate her body as they please. That’s so. For example, if I were to give a small signal.”
I snapped my fingers.
“There’s a possibility that a certain magic signal would be sent and a calamity would fall upon that girl’s frail body. Like a small cry would cause a massive avalanche. Chief, do not worry so much. It is fine to not look at me with such fearful eyes! I am simply pointing out the possibilities.”
Ivar Lodbrok’s body was trembling immensely.
It should be fine to stop treating him with this unamusing half-respect.
I changed my sarcastic tone to a clearly threatening tone.
“Oh pitiful vampire. Did you rage at the thought that Lapis Lazuli had betrayed you? ‘Let’s trample over this child who had dared to show her fangs to me’. Did you make that sort of decision? Aah, Lodbrok. You poor friend.”
“You had firmly guessed wrong. You were mistaken. Lapis Lazuli did not hunt me. Of course, she is a very admirable child, but is she capable of planning this kind of magnificent comedy……?”
I hunted her.
I kindly whispered in Ivar Lodbrok’s ear.
“From the beginning to the end, it was all your foolish misunderstanding. Lapis Lazuli had sworn her loyalty to you. But since she is a clever child, she knew full well that if she were to return to the firm, then under false accusation she would be purged. If the true miserable person was not that girl, then I didn’t know who was. Because of a single bastard bat, who lived their life thinking that they were a genius, she has fallen to being an exile.”
Ivar Lodbrok’s trembling became more violent.
I softly placed my hand on the other party’s shoulder.
“Thanks to you for making the wrong assumption, I was able to go through less trouble. Lapis Lazuli is a splendid child. I give you my thanks.”
“What does…… what does your highness want from this one……?”
“Oh. I simply want a slight bit of kindness.”
I gripped Ivar Lodbrok’s shoulder tightly.
“I truly did not release something like this Black Death. All you have to do is testify the truth. That is all.”
Do not present proof that would help make Paimon’s statement more persuasive.
It was a threat containing that meaning.
“Well……of course, you will also move around occasionally as my puppet. A price follows defeat, after all. Chief. I am an honest person. I will not place hypocritical words between us, like telling you nice things such as reassuring you that there will be no more misfortune from now on, and that it was fine to relax. Do you not think that hypocrisy is a discourtesy to others?”
“Many things will change.”
From the inside of your bones.
“I will give you many proposals that you cannot refuse, and you, in reality, will not be able to turn any of them down. You may occasionally have a sense of shame that you didn’t feel like a person, but like a beast trapped in a pig pen.”
Climbing up your spine.
“Occasionally you will display a rebellious spirit and resist against me. Shall I tell you how I will respond beforehand? Ah, I will not kill you. Really. I won’t even hit you. You can have my word. What I will do……”
To your skull.
“Is pluck the hair from your real body.”
Everything will be subjected to me.
“I will not take a lot. Every time you resist, I will only pluck a single strand of hair. Pluck, like that. Just playfully. That is all. How is that? Were you able to feel how generous of a person I was?”
“While appreciating your beautiful face. Pluck, pluck, pluck, pluck…… pluck.”
With a ‘hoo’ I blew into his ear.
Ivar Lodbrok shuddered like an aspen leaf.
This was why I couldn’t stop my enjoyment of threatening others.
“Hmm. I’m already looking forward to the day that you rebel against me. I can’t wait. But, I will endure it. I will gladly endure it. I have great patience, after all. You can feel relieved in that regard.”
Ivar Lodbrok clenched his teeth.
“This one…… will swear loyalty to no one.”
I patted Ivar Lodbrok’s shoulder lightly.
“Use this opportunity to learn.”
“People have to keep learning even if they’re old, you know. If one becomes lazy with their education then before they know it they’d have turned into a failure. A person must care and treasure their own body. Don’t you think so as well?”
Ivar Lodbrok could not respond.
If it was this much, then I believed that my sincerity was able to overcome the language barrier placed between us. Communication was this difficult. For me to have to resort to threats in order to make other people respect me, was that not tragic? When Oedipus had stabbed his own eyes, he was probably not as sad as I was now.
I straightened my back.
Then, I turned to look at the judge, Marbas.
“Oh, honorable Marbas. Our conversation is over. There will be no objections from myself if you are to continue the procedures of the hearing.”
“Good. Paimon, you can now prove the authenticity of your accusation.”
The hearing resumed.
Paimon, with a confident voice, called for Ivar Lodbrok.
“I understand. Lodbrok, please show the evidence.”
A frightening silence continued.
Ivar Lodbrok had not lifted his head since awhile back. Paimon had called his name several times, but he remained unresponsive. Because of the unexpected silence, a panicked complexion had appeared on Paimon’s face. As the silence continued, her perplexed state had slowly spread to the people around her, until eventually, the entire ballroom was enshrouded by a peculiar silence.
At last, Ivar Lodbrok opened his mouth.
“…… her highness Paimon’s statement, is a lie.”
It was quiet.
It was incredibly quiet.
The hall was not calm because everyone had understood Ivar Lodbrok’s comment. It was the complete opposite. It was because not a single person had understood what Ivar Lodbrok had said, so there was no response.
“What did you say—”
Therefore, the first words to come out were not of understanding but was a question instead.
“Just now, what did you say?”
“This one. Had said that this one cannot submit the evidence that her highness Paimon had requested.” (TL note: He’s pausing for a second.)
“What are you trying to say…… have you gone mad, Lodbrok!”
Paimon let out a roar.
The silence that had fallen on top of the ballroom quickly shattered. Like a rising tide suddenly turning into a tsunami on a calm beach, Paimon’s limitless rage came pouring out. The pride she had on her face had already long ago been washed away by the tides.
“You had told this lady! That Dantalian was the culprit to abet the plague, and that that girl named Lapis Lazuli was the one to have spread the Black Death! Are you trying to ridicule this lady with that petty tongue!?”
“……My apologies. This one is unable to understand what your highness Paimon is talking about. Has it not been 10 years since we had last met each other in person like this?”
With a smooth smile, I watched their quarrel.
There was something about witnessing people continuously shift the responsibility to one another that moved me deeply. Ah, I really shouldn’t live with other people. Ah, shutting myself away and spending the rest of my days in the corner of my room was truly the right way to live. It reminded me of these sort of life lessons.
You’re watching this too, are you not, Lapis Lazuli. I had promised you that I would show you the greatest circus performance in the world. On one side was the rank 9 high noble Demon Lord, and on the other side was the richest person in the demon world. And yet, the point that these two had reached was childishly tossing the responsibility to one another.
For you, who lived your life being treated unfairly because you were an outcast, I considered this to be the greatest stage performance just for you. Enjoy it at your leisure. Since I had specially directed and managed this performance for free. Despite how I looked, if I splurged for my subordinates, then I was a superior that did so extravagantly. It was fine to be moved.
“That is obvious since you had made contact with me using your subordinate!”
“This one is incapable of knowing what Torukel had told your highness Paimon. Regardless, there is one thing that this one does know. Evidence that his highness Dantalian had any personal involvement with the spreading of the disease is currently not in this one’s possession.”
“This, inferior and cowardly bat……!”
Paimon’s pretty face had contorted. As much as she was a beauty that appeared as if she was a piece of art, her enraged image was more terrifying.
“So be it then. You shall repay blood with blood! That is your Keuncuska Firm’s maxim, is it not! This lady shall very much keep that vow……!”
A blood-like aura began to seep out from Paimon’s body.
The concentration of magical energy was so thick that it was possible to see the shape and color of her aura. The fluctuation of the energy looked as if dozens of red tongues were waving intensely.
Paimon was not simply a Demon Lord, she was someone who had also gained the title of archmage.
Among the Demon Lords that consisted of 71 people, it was a feat that was only achieved by 4 individuals, and she was part of that 4.
“I shall act on behalf of vengeance!”
Paimon had shouted her dictum.
A dictum, in this world, was something that was passed down throughout history in each area of influential power. These were sacred vows that dictated that one would utilize everything, even one’s own life, in order to keep one’s pledge. Paimon was seriously intending to kill Ivar Lodbrok.
It was then that Marbas had stomped his right foot down.
The entire ballroom had shaken.
People stumbled as if they had been caught up in a small earthquake.
Marbas, with a menacingly cold air around him, glared at Paimon.
“—Cease your offensive actions immediately.”
Paimon made a pained expression.
“I said to stop this instant. You should be vigilant of forcing me to recite my dictum as well, Paimon. You are the person who requested for a last chance. Just to make myself clear, to me, one’s last chance means their ultimatum.”
Paimon clenched her teeth strongly.
Her magical energy did not die down, but it had started to rise more intensively.
“Just now, the chief executive from Keuncuska had toyed with this lady! Despite the fact that that chief had ordered his subordinate, Torukel, to show evidence to this lady, he was now trying to back down! This lady shall immediately execute that betrayer!”
“No matter who it is!”
Marbas roared out.
“Even if Baal were to come here, you cannot shed blood during the Walpurgis Night! You will preserve absolute neutrality while you are here! Unless you wish to turn myself and all the Demon Lords of the neutral faction, including 30,000 elite troops, into your enemy, then go ahead and try shedding blood here, Paimon! I will vow that on that day, the mountain faction, which you lead will be annihilated, and the land of the Demon Lords who are part of your faction will be cursed for 300 years, preventing even a single blade of grass from growing!”
An angry voice like a thunderstorm swept over the ballroom.
The candles which were floating in mid-air shook violently. Light and darkness fell upon people while being mixed up chaotically, the pillars of the building let off dust as it trembled.
People shrunk back. They were being overwhelmed by Marbas’ force.
Among the over 30 Demon Lords present here, the amount of people who were able to keep their backs straight were very few. At best, Barbatos was the only one to be nonchalantly sipping wine.
“Geezer—. If needed, us plains faction will provide you assistance whenever you want as well. Honestly, don’t you feel a bit apprehensive to go to war with only the neutral faction on your side? You and I could make a nice alliance.”
“Shut your mouth, Barbatos. I am not in the mood to jest.”
“I was just expressing my goodwill.”
Different to her, Paimon’s expression could only be explained as nothing but horrendous. From her lips, heated breaths were coming out like a cocktail of rage and self-control.
Paimon chewed on her own words.
“He’s the messenger that passed on the orders from Ivar Lodbrok! He is standing by outside the venue right now. I shall summon him this instant and prove that Ivar Lodbrok has ridiculed this lady!”
A brief moment of chilling silence drifted through the venue.
Marbas took off his monocle and stared hard at Paimon.
“Are you certain?”
“This lady is only making accusation following truth.”
“…… You are taking my final faith.”
Marbas raised his chin up.
“Send in the witness known as Torukel!”
The faeries, having received the order, busily made their way out of the ballroom.
I was submerged in sadness.
Think more calmly, Paimon. Whoever this Torukel was, he was still nothing more than a messenger. You can’t hope to get a proper testimony from that kind of person.
I understand that you respect every race including humans. To you, this Black Death would be a nightmare among nightmares. You most likely partook in this gathering while being resolute in finding the culprit to have cause such a tragedy. But the person that you thought to be your comrade, Ivar Lodbrok, had unexpectedly betrayed you. That’s why it was reasonable for you to be up to your head with anger. Despite that, you had to look ahead. Rage was always a shortcut to ruin.
Shortly after, an aged goblin entered the ballroom.
Paimon pointed at the goblin.
“Yes. That person is Torukel!”
She started her questioning with a voice still carrying anger.
“Torukel. You’ll be our witness. You, under the orders of Ivar Lodbrok, had acted the role of messenger. Is that correct?”
Torukel slowly looked around the room.
The goblin was supporting his body with a cane. There may have been many wrinkles on his forehead, but his eyes shone with intellect. I got the strong impression that he was not old, but he had simply lived for a long period of time.
The goblin looked at Ivar Lodbrok for a short moment and nodded. No words were exchanged between them.
Torukel carefully opened his lips.
“……It is an honor to be allowed in the presence of all these lords of demons. Keruk. This one, without a doubt, is an executive from the Keuncuska Firm, and am also of close relations with Ivar Lodbrok.”
As soon as Torukel readily revealed his own identity, Paimon’s face shone with delight. She most likely thought that she had seized victory. Like a machine gun, she started her questioning quickly.
“This lady shall get straight to the point, Torukel. You had told this lady that Dantalian had aided the spreading of the plague and that using some unknown means, he had a hand in the creation of the Black Death. Is this lady correct?”
“Yes. Of course, your highness.”
The audience started to stir once more.
Ivar Lodbrok shut his eyes tightly as if he was distressed. On the other hand, Paimon, with a triumphant air, smiled widely. It was the figure of an individual who had overcome ridicule and painstakingly materialized justice.
“What her highness has said is correct. I had most certainly claimed that Dantalian was the criminal behind the Black Death. However, that was a downright lie. It was slander without any evidence.”
It didn’t even take 10 seconds for the shock to solidify Paimon’s smile.
Torukel spoke flatly.
“This one had desired for the black herbs that were in the possession of his highness Dantalian. Of course, it would be impossible for this one, alone, to extort the personal effects of his highness Dantalian. However, this one was in the possession of two great sponsors. Her highness Paimon and the chief of executives, Ivar Lodbrok. Perhaps if this one were to use these two individual’s names, then it would be possible to get through the impasse. That was what I had thought.”
“Torukel…… just, what are you saying……”
Paimon opened her mouth.
It was a face of utter disbelief.
Torukel, using his cane to support himself, bowed deeply.
“My apologies. This one knew full well of your highness’ care for all the people on the continent. This one had used your highness’ merciful heart in order to incite hatred towards his highness Dantalian. His highness Dantalian was merely rank 71st anyway. This one had judged that once the hearing was open that it would end on the majority vote.”
“As it so had happened, his highness Dantalian had murdered his highness Andromalius and this one had seen that as a golden opportunity. To threaten his highness Dantalian with the atrocious crime of murdering a Demon Lord. Using that chance, this one had planned to snatch away all of the black herbs. But his highness Dantalian had surpassed this one’s expectations and was able to prove his innocence. How vexing……”
Torukel glanced at me slightly.
I gazed back at him with absolutely no emotions on my face.
Unintentionally, with a ‘tsk’, I ended up clicking my tongue. I could grasp what that aged merchant was basically trying to do. He was intending to foil this great circus performance.
The judge, Marbas, sharply inquired Torukel.
“Small goblin. You have admitted yourself that you had ridiculed Paimon in order to fulfill your own selfish desires. Do you understand your crimes?”
“Yes, your highness. This one knows when to admit defeat. This one had tried to gain great profit by using her highness Paimon and the chief executive of the Keuncuska Firm. And I had failed. That is all.”
The goblin shook his head.
“If there was something wrong that her highness Paimon had done, then it was having trusted this wicked and old goblin. Thus, since all faults completely lies on this one— although from a humble birth.”
Before anyone could do anything.
Torukel took a small blade out from his clothes—
“This one shall apologize with this insignificant life.”
—and stabbed his own throat.
▯Keuncuska Executive, Miser Goblin, Torukel Empire Calendar: Year 1505, Month 8, Day 20 Niflheim, Governor’s Palace We had failed.
I knew this as soon as I had entered the ballroom.
Even if I didn’t want to, when her highness Paimon, who was supposed to be expressing kindness towards me, was staring at me with a terribly contorted face, I had no choice but to come to terms with it.
…… I was prepared.
Merchants must always respect equal exchange.
Even if Demon Lord Dantalian was merely rank 71st, and even if Lapis Lazuli was merely an outcast half-breed, they too were lives that did whatever it took to stay alive.
A life for a life.
You had to put your own life on the line if you were to go after another.
It was a simple equation.
…… I dreamed for a world that was not controlled by hierarchy.
For merely being born as a Demon Lord you stood at the pinnacle of society. For being born between a demon and a human, you were treated like trash. That was the current state of the demon world. I wanted to change this……
Although some minute details were different, Ivar Lodbrok carried the same desire as myself. In this shabby world, Ivar and I were tied by camaraderie.
If one wished to change the world, then one needed money. That was why we had raised the Keuncuska Firm this far. Over the past hundreds of years, we had overcome an uncountable amount of hardship and adversity, and had barely reached the position of the greatest firm in the demon world……
I really did want to see it.
A bit more equal society.
I simply wanted to live in a place with less prejudice.
……I wanted to see a more beautiful world.
I could feel the cold metal piercing my throat.
As one would expect, I could vividly feel the warm blood that was dripping down the blade.
Strength left my knees quickly. My body fell over slowly, and little by little it approached death. I could feel all this clearly.
Ivar. Take care of the rest.
I was unable to see the world change, but if it’s you, then you should be able to live till the very end. You are frighteningly cunning and intelligent after all.
Except, I worry that there may be no one who could understand your madness. Do not stay in solitude. One day you will find someone who will stay by your side once again……
And finally, I turned to look at Dantalian.
There was no special reason to this. My line of sight had simply moved to Dantalian coincidentally when I had fallen down. However, after looking at the face of the rank 71st Demon Lord, I opened my eyes wide.
He was expressionless.
There was no bounds to how expressionless he was.
Despite having obtained a surprising victory tonight, there was not a single sign of Dantalian being delighted or overjoyed. It didn’t even seem like he was surprised by my suicide. As if it was obvious—he was staring down at me with eyes that appeared as if they understood completely why I had chosen to kill myself.
Was that it…… was that what it was……!
Seeing that expression, I immediately understood. Demon Lord Dantalian was not plain prey. Lapis Lazuli betraying our firm, and the murder of Andromalius, they were all schemes plotted by that man. It was not possible to know exactly what the plots were, but those eyes. Those eyes of a killer, surpassing logic, were more than enough to convince me. Dantalian was the puppeteer!
Aah, Ivar Lodbrok.
From beginning to end we were mistaken.
We had dived on top of a chessboard with no idea who our opponent was. Because of this, it was no wonder that we had lost so gruesomely. Have you realized, Ivar? Were you aware of the fact that that man was the true danger……
I wanted to open my mouth and warn Ivar. To please be careful of Dantalian.
But to my dismay, I did not have even a margin of energy left to move my lips. Rapidly. Life from my body dispersed silently. The vision in front of me faded to black.
I may have dreamed a beautiful dream, but I was unable to live a beautiful life. I have committed a fair amount of evil deeds. No doubt the Gods will drop me to Hell……
Ooh, merciful Proserpina.
Please show pity for this poor soul.
And then, I was enshrouded by eternal silence……
▯Weakest Demon Lord, Rank 71st, Dantalian Empire Calendar: Year 1505, Month 8, Day 20 Niflheim, Governor’s Palace The dagger easily pierced the neck of the old goblin.
The blade had impaled through his thin neck and stuck out from the other side.
The goblin’s small body collapsed to the floor with a thud.
A stillness fell over the room.
Red blood was flowing in the ballroom.
Paimon was merely staring down at the goblin’s corpse.
That goblin was a merchant that Paimon had trusted without an ounce of doubt. It was clear that for a long time, a very long time, these two had known each other.
I wonder if her knees had given out, but Paimon had sunk to the floor. The blood flowing out from the goblin’s neck formed a puddle and the end of Paimon’s skirt became drenched with that blood.
Like a broken record, she let out short moans repetitively.
It was a conclusion that she couldn’t have possibly predicted to have happened 30 minutes ago. Paimon may have only been moaning, but I distinctively understood the emotions that were grasping onto her heart.
That was why I had warned her.
To not cross the Rubicon River and reconcile with a glass of wine instead. But, without being able to realize anything, Paimon had raised a poisoned chalice. This was probably what a tragedy was.
I muttered in a voice that only I could hear.
“Spoiled the mood……”
You have really caused quite the chaos, you goblin bastard.
Originally, I was planning to direct a comedy. Ivar Lodbrok and Paimon were to blame each other. They would behave disgracefully and keep tossing the responsibility to the other person until the conference was over.
In the end, one side would eventually have their honor damaged and fall. That was the scenario I had written. People would have sent unreserved applause to the circus performance of a lion and a tiger fighting each other. However, this old goblin was a variable that I could not have possibly expected……
Torukel had bore all the mistakes of Ivar Lodbrok and Paimon on his own, and had brought them down with him. Paimon’s misunderstanding was because of Torukel’s trickery, and Ivar Lodbrok’s excuse was because of Torukel’s cajolement.
The two as victims. The one as the assailant. Except, no words could come from a corpse. The day that the truth was finally revealed will never come to be.
I sincerely give you my respect for that resolution of yours, goblin.
Ivar Lodbrok and Paimon had gone against me with a clumsy mindset. They did not risk their lives. But you were different. You came at me with all you had. Unlike those two, you did not forget about proper etiquette.
That was splendid.
I must admit. People like you were more than qualified to interfere with my comfortable life.
“—We shall proceed with the show of hands for the hearing.”
The only witness had killed himself and Paimon had lost her will. He must have judged that there was no point in continuing the hearing any further.
“The first issue is the murder case. The case where rank 72nd, Nameless Demon Lord Andromalius was murdered by rank 71st, Nameless Demon Lord Dantalian. The accuser has demanded 100,000 libra as compensation for the murder of Andromalius from Dantalian, and for Dantalian himself to be locked away in the Frozen Prison for 15 years.”
Marbas looked around the venue.
“Those who think Dantalian is guilty raise your right hand, the people who think he is innocent raise your left hand, and the people who are abstaining do not move your hands. The two people who are directly involved, and myself who has taken the role as the mediator, will not have the rights to vote.”
People promptly moved their arms after Marbas had finished explaining.
Among the 29 Demon Lords, the ones to have voted guilty were 9 people.
The people to have voted innocent was 19.
“I declare that Dantalian is innocent in regards to the first matter.”
Excluding Paimon’s followers, nearly every Demon Lord had voted innocent. In truth, it was an overwhelming victory. And yet, the aftertaste was still bitter. It was because of that old goblin’s noble sacrifice. I didn’t feel as excited as I was before……
“The second issue is about the Black Death. The accuser had claimed that Dantalian was the true culprit to have spread the plague. Those of you who think this is true, raise your left hand, those who think it is false, your right hand.”
The people to have voted guilty were the same 9 individuals.
The people to have voted innocent was 15 individuals.
“Since it has surpassed the majority, I declare that Dantalian is innocent in regards to the second matter. Thus, on the name of rank 5th, the Demon Lord in charge of nobleness, I, Marbas, guarantee that you, Dantalian, are free from all charges. Those of you who have any objections to this verdict must keep in mind that you’ll be challenging my honor.”
Applause erupted from one of the Demon Lords. It was Barbatos this time as well. She was even whistling as she celebrated the verdict.
“Hahaha! Serves you right, whore! Ever since you started raising your nose thinking you were all high and mighty, I was looking forward to seeing that nose of yours get crushed! Seeing as it has come to this, why not spend some ‘time(屍姦)’ with that goblin! You two will probably be a perfect match in bed!” (TL note: ‘time’ is a play on words here. It can be read as “shi-gan” in Korean, which means the passage of time, but here it is using a Chinese word that is pronounced the same but with a different meaning. It basically means ‘necrophilia’.)
……Although the direction of the celebration was horrendously vulgar.
Right now Paimon, with unfocused eyes, was staring down vacantly at Torukel’s corpse. To be able to openly laugh at a woman in that state, those weren’t normal nerves, but was immense brutality instead. It was impressive in another meaning. I gained the certainty that if I wanted to maintain a peaceful life, then it would be a good idea to not get involved with Barbatos.
Her chest was also flat.
Her chest was as flat as the Siberian fields—
It was important so I emphasized it twice.
If you were a logical person with refinement then it was obvious to prefer matureness over immatureness, abundance over lacking. Lolita complex is a mental illness, everyone. I hope you are able to go to your nearest mental hospital and get a suicide check-up.
“Now, we shall discuss Paimon’s punishment. Dantalian. Despite your innocence, Paimon had tried to accuse you. One must pay the price for failure. Suggest what you think would be the most fitting level of punishment.”
“A penalty, huh……”
I looked down at the floor.
In the past, court controversy had a meaning similar to that of a duel. Putting their honor on the line, both sides fought over what was guilty and innocent. If the accuser were to lose, then they would receive the very sentencing that they had declared for the other party. It meant that if you wanted to curse another, then you had to dig your own grave first. It was a tough legacy from the medieval period.
In this situation, Paimon would have to pay the 100,000 gold fine and be confined for 15 years in prison. Once again, I understood what kind of harsh resolve Paimon was carrying while stepping forward in the hearing. Was that so. It may not have been as much as the goblin, but Paimon had as well, in her own way, prepared to take responsibility……
Then, all of a sudden a choice box appeared before me.
[1. Forgive Paimon.]
[2. Reprimand Paimon.]
Seeing this choice box appear, it meant that this was a crucial decision.
Similar to having chosen to murder Andromalius, this was something that would greatly change the direction of the world.
Marbas pressed me with a low voice.
I glanced at the goblin’s corpse.
Torukel. You did not leave a will. But what you wanted to say was conveyed clearly. No matter what, to not let Ivar Lodbrok or Paimon be troubled. Those were most likely the dying words that you could not spill out from your own mouth. The part of life that was so-called sorrow.
As a means to express my condolence to you, those dying words of yours, I shall respect it.
“It is fine.”
“I said it is fine, honorable Marbas.”
I raised my head and faced Marbas.
I had a weak smile on my lips. It was in order to display a tired expression. Well, it had also been a long time since I had last used my brain this much, so I was actually a bit tired.
“Even if I was under false accusation and slandered, her highness Paimon was also in the sorry position of having been swept up in a plot, was she not? As it has already been proven to everyone here, the true culprit behind all these incidents was that goblin on the floor over there. He was a peerless villain. However, since he is dead, there is no reason to make someone else take responsibility.”
“In other words…… are you saying that you will not demand any punishment?”
“Yes, your honor. As the person directly involved in the hearing, and as the person to have survived the court of law by obtaining victory, with my just rights I shall request of this. Rank 71st, Nameless Demon Lord Dantalian hereby requests, for her highness Paimon to not be punished in any way because of this incident.”
“In the first place, this is the sacred Walpurgis Night. This is not a location for such vulgar words like punishment or penalty to be tossed around.”
The people around me made a commotion. They probably didn’t imagine that the very person to be accused would come out so pleasantly. They all had the same expression of surprise. On the contrary, once I had watched the goblin kill himself, I couldn’t have been more calm.
I did not want to become a person who went around talking about ‘acknowledgement’ and ‘respect’ all the time. I had thought to acknowledge Torukel the goblin. I had decided to respect his will. Then I must show it by actions.
To forgive Paimon here was, with no doubt, a politically dangerous decision. In the political world, just by the mere fact that you were enemies one could continue to take hostile actions. Today, disregarding the truth, the relationship between Paimon and I had clearly become ‘enemies’. To change this relationship into a different form will probably take a considerable amount of tiresome work. It may even be impossible.
That was what respect was.
To protect the other party’s words even if it meant that you’d have to endure harm.
I was confident that I would not feel anguish even if I were to go through hardship for respecting another.
If I used my second half little sister’s judgement as a basis, then I was in the possession of a devilish brain.
If I used my own judgement as a basis, then I was model student who knew etiquette.
“Honorable Marbas. The only thing that this one wants tonight is a single warm glass of honey wine.”
[1. Forgive Paimon.]
[2. Reprimand Paimon.]
As soon as I had finished talking, the choice box melted away.
Soon, the choice box was replaced by new lines.
Each individual letter was dismantled and put together to form new words. It gave the subtle pleasure like watching lego bricks being assembled on their own.
[A kind and merciful decision!]
[The continent is impressed by your magnanimity.]
[Fame increased substantially.]
The sentences glowed brightly in mid-air.
The words broke apart into sparkling particles. Then shortly after, after drifting through the air like a bunch of petals, they silently vanished off to somewhere.
Marbas was staring at me. His blue eyes would make one think of a serene ocean. I did not avoid Marbas and calmly met his gaze.
“To think of duty over resentment. In words, it sounds easy, but words have the tendency of becoming harder to adhere if they are shorter, and becoming easier to keep if they are longer. It is not something that anyone can do. Additionally, the amount of people to turn down the opportunity to lawfully vent one’s spite is a precious few.”
Marbas patted my shoulder. His trust was transmitted through his hand.
“You are remarkable, Dantalian. As the host of this Walpurgis Night, I’d like to give you my thanks. I look forward to the day that you are able to be rid of your Nameless Demon Lord status and become a monarch possessing a grand title.”
[Demon Lord Marbas’ affection went up by 9.]
Instead of responding with words, I lowered my head.
Marbas had said that he did not trust long talks earlier. So to go beyond short words and respond with silence was appropriate to go along with Marbas’ beliefs. Marbas seemed to have understood my intent. He nodded and patted my shoulder once more.
“……However, even if there is to be no official punishment, it would be irrational to not have even one word of apology. Paimon.”
Marbas turned around to look at Paimon. She was still sitting in a daze at the side of the goblin’s body. She was like a doll that had all her strings cut. Marbas spoke to her with a pained face.
“Apologize to Dantalian here.”
“Yes. That is the responsibility that you must carry.”
“Lied…… Torukel…… lie, d”
Paimon moved her body to get up, but failed. There was no strength in her knees, so she had simply slipped back down. Paimon lifted her head barely to look at me.
“Did Torukel…… betray, this lady?”
“That is so. Your highness.”
“Yes. I did not create the Black Death. I did not purposely spread it either. That was all a hoax created by that merchant, Torukel.”
Paimon slowly lowered her head. There was a moment of silence. I had no methods to know what she was thinking. Shortly after, with trembling shoulders, she muttered in a very small voice.
At first, we couldn’t understand what she had said. Like a broken radio, her words would come out then stop and then rewind to start again. This repeated. The sound of crying was mixed in like static. However, Paimon repeated the same words over and over again, until eventually we could hear her loud and clear.
“I’m…… so, rry……”
They were words of apology.
A pool of blood had formed on the ground which Paimon had fallen to. Something was falling there. They were Paimon’s tears. Each time a tear collided against the crimson puddle, like a pebble falling into a lake, gentle waves in the shape of rings would spread out.
“I’m sorry…… I’m sorry……”
A peculiar silence swept over the ballroom.
Paimon’s voice was most certainly small, but it felt like her words could be heard by everyone here.
It must have been hard to keep watching. A female Demon Lord, who I assumed was one of Paimon’s followers, rushed out and started to support the frail woman. Paimon was weakly dragged outside by the female Demon Lord. A group of around 15 people followed that female Demon Lord out of the ballroom. No one tried to stop them.
“There were many complications, but.”
Wanting to change the topic, Marbas spoke.
“It does not change the fact that today is still the Walpurgis Night. Although there are still some agendas remaining, we can push that to tomorrow. I shall be taking up Barbatos’ suggestion and offer a place to drink to everyone here.”
With a ‘clap‘, Marbas brought his hands together.
At once, faeries came in and began to serve all kinds of food and beverages. Elves wearing maid uniforms and tailcoats entered the room carrying chairs and tables. The ballroom had instantly changed into a banquet hall. I also had the honor of being poured a glass of honey wine from Marbas directly.
People of power were rare. People of power with common sense were even more rare, to the point that they should be announced as a near extinct species and rated EX on the charts. I, with the desire to preserve nature’s rare species, accepted the glass politely.
For the rest of the day, there was no occasion of Paimon showing her face again.
▯Weakest Demon Lord, Rank 71st, Dantalian Empire Calendar: Year 1505, Month 8, Day 21 Niflheim, Governor’s Palace The banquet did not end even past midnight.
I had never imagined that Demon Lords would be such heavy drinkers. Barbatos was especially amazing. She picked up an entire jug of alcohol and chugged it down in one go.
People cheered and applauded. It was insane. Also, Barbatos seemed to have taken a liking to me cause she kept forcing me to drink. If I tried to refuse slightly then she’d say, “Aaang? Are you trying to resist drinking the alcohol that I’m bestowing to you?” and got heated up. Was this not a barbaric person, or what?
Not being able to socialize with her any longer, I secretly withdrew to the hallway. Truthfully, I wanted to escape out the front gate, but there was the chance that I’d get caught by Barbatos.
Her outer appearance was that of a little girl but where was that tremendous amount of alcohol being consumed to? I couldn’t understand. In my opinion, I thought that scientist needed to go through her stomach as soon as possible. I was certain that a miniature black hole was in there…… The problem was that the science in this world was not advanced. As a result, it was impossible to find out. It was an unsolvable mystery……
My mind felt blank. I must have gotten drunk. I was walking through an empty hallway, and yet, everything in front of me felt like it was pulsating. Damn it. It was because that kid, born on the plains of Siberia, said “I’ll show you my hidden treasure.” and forced me to drink a concoction of 6 different alcohols. What did she mean by “Think of this as an honor. Not just anyone can taste this.”? Go drink yourself to death……
I could hear quiet footsteps behind me. Turning around, I saw that Lapis Lazuli was standing there. I courteously opened my arms.
“Ooh, Lala! My Lala! Your eyes are like azure and your voice is like a hymn sung in harmony!”
In actuality, I had spread my arms out in a bit of an exaggerated manner.
What? I’m drunk. It was beyond my control.
“…… Your highness moved too rashly.”
“What? I’m so great that you’ve fallen for me?”
“This one said that your highness has moved too rashly.”
“To the point that you want to smooch me? That’s great! If you knew how hard I worked to gain your affection, then you’d feel so sorry for me that you’d willingly offer me your lips.”
I shut my mouth.
Lapis Lazuli’s gaze pierced right through me.
“Your highness is reckless, irresponsible, and rash.”
“…… Are you not deeply moved by my victory?”
“That’s a bit of a shock.”
It was as shocking as the time I had received a confession from a boy in the same class as me during elementary school.
“Paimon is not only the rank 9th Demon Lord, but she is also the leader of the mountain faction that is known as the greatest faction in the Demon Lord Allied Forces. She is in command of many loyal followers and has a close relationship to people in power on the human side. In simpler terms, your highness has turned one of the most important figures of the Demon World into an enemy.”
“Wait. Wait a second, Lala.”
I waved my hands fiercely.
“……I am not reckless, I am not irresponsible, and I am not rash. These are words I’m hearing for the first time in my life. That’s incredibly insulting.”
“Is that so? What kind of plan is it that your highness had to turn the richest man and the leader of the greatest faction in the demon world, into enemies?”
“That…… that is……”
It was no use.
My mind was still intoxicated by alcohol so I couldn’t think straight. It wasn’t an unsophisticated scenario where I could simply talk about it while being drunk. This was like the most elaborate machinery in the world.
“That is, it’s tremendously……”
“Amazing…… and frighteningly great…… that kind of plan!”
“Your highness possesses quite the impressive persuasive ability. This one was so moved that this one had become at a loss for words.”
“My eyes and ears could be failing me at the same time, but your tongue sure is moving a lot for being at a loss for words.”
“It is a relief that your highness has enough rationality to notice that.”
Like a dreadful actor, I shouted up at the ceiling.
“I’m sorry, Lala! That’s right! I have gone completely mad! After being accused by Paimon and seeing that old bat laughing at me from the side, all my self-control ended up exploding! That’s why I showed them a lesson! I can not even begin to grasp how I could possibly repent for my tremendous mistake to our succubus lady!”
I turned my body around and bowed. It was the location completely opposite of where Lapis Lazuli was. Of course, there was no one there. Thanks to the moonlight coming in from the window, I could just barely make out the shape of the floor.
No, since I could see a bit there wasn’t absolutely no one there. A gray cat was perched on the window sill and licking its paw. I bowed deeper to the cat.
“I apologize, Paimon! I apologize, followers of Paimon and to the supporters of Ivar Lodbrok! I have refuted and crushed these people who you all so love very much! They accused me for a crime that I did not commit, they raised their nose high just because they had an authority as big as a finger nail in this large universe of ours, and they were individuals that didn’t know how to respect others, but everyone must have loved these two dearly anyway. Ooh, the Goddesses will rain their rage down upon me! Oh, Erbus, oh, Nemesis, the most terrifying Goddesses! If, perhaps, you are all up there in the sky—if you are doing nothing and looking down at me from your seats—”
I looked upwards like a prophet who was receiving commandments directly from God. My body moved seriously and my voice rang splendidly. I looked as if I was receiving the award for the best leading actor of the year.
“I may be too educated and overflowing with refinement to properly believe in Goddesses, so I can not say with certainty that you all do exist up in the sky, but, if by some astronomical chance, you all are really up there—Goddesses! Do not forgive this piece of trash Dantalian who has ridiculed the leader of the greatest faction and the richest person in the demon world and smite me!”
“However, if I were to speak subjectively—albeit, I do think that this subjective opinion of mine is objectively the truth and have no doubt about it, in any case, as much as I need to be a bit modest while in front of the Goddesses, I shall speak subjectively out of pure courtesy— If you agree with my personal opinion that Paimon and Ivar Lodbrok are both terribly unlucky and are both rotten pork tripe that are on the boundary of becoming unrecyclable— then you damned Goddesses! Please do nothing, do absolutely nothing, and allow me to live my life as I please! Since I am 1000 times more competent than some Goddesses that sit around and piss all day!”
The gray cat was surprised and looking this way with wide opened eyes. The cat must have forgotten that it was grooming its own fur since its front paw had frozen in mid-air. It wasn’t strange. It had the honor of being a witness to my powerful and grandeur confession of faith, after all. It was like someone was resting at the backside of a mountain and then suddenly Moses came walking down from the mountain top. I could understand the feelings of a cat. That was how much understanding I was overflowing with.
I settled my breathing.
Now the intoxication was dissipating.
I turned around and faced Lapis Lazuli. She was staring at me with her same as usual expressionless face. I lifted my index finger and pointed up towards the ceiling.
“Look at that. Nothing happened.”
“Thinking logically, we can derive three conclusions from this. First, the Goddesses has generously forgiven my reckless, irresponsible, and rash antics. Oh, Lala, you are indeed a very distinguished girl, and there is a chance that you’re more distinguished than I am— Of course, that is a topic of much debate— but clearly you are not as distinguished as the Goddesses. Thus, second, since the Goddesses have forgiven me, you must forgive me as well. That is what having a modest attitude means, after all. And finally, third, the Goddesses has admitted that Paimon and Ivar Lodbrok are similar to that of rotten pork tripe. Thus, the act of threatening them is theologically, juristically, and ethically not a problem. Now then. If you have anything to say against my absolutely perfect logic, then go ahead.”
A moment of stillness returned to the hallway.
We stared each other for a while.
Lapis Lazuli then opened her mouth.
“Is your highness done talking?”
“Does this one need to point out that your highness has used the beginning rhetorical technique of ‘using a false premise’?”
“Is there a reason this one needs to remind your highness how politically dangerous it is to intensely declare in a public place of one’s militant atheism?”
“There are none.”
“How does your highness think this one should react to the lord who’s logically, politically and theologically guilty?”
“I do not think anything of it.”
“This one had thought so.”
“Lala. I truly am unable to explain it properly because I am still intoxicated, but I assure you that I have already planned out a perfect scheme that’ll put you at a lost for words. I’ll explain it to you after a short rest, and then even you will admire it. So for now, let us return to our room, lay on the bed, and discuss the rest……”
“This one knows.”
“This one believes that your highness is devising a thorough plan.”
“That is, uh, what do I say……rather unexpected.”
“This one knows that your highness’ true nature is like that of a predator, a spider to be exact. Before taking one step, your highness looks forward 10 steps, and if there is no certainty of a perfect hunt, then your highness waits patiently. People may think your highness is a good-for-nothing deadbeat when they see your highness not move and they will laugh in ridicule for it, but in truth, your highness is simply waiting for your prey to get caught in the web for you.”
“……Thank you for the compliment?”
My head felt blank so I wasn’t very certain, but I think this was the first time Lapis Lazuli had ever praised me like this. Not knowing how to react in that moment, I creased my brows.
“Then why did you ill-treat me?”
“Since your highness’ mentality is so twisted, this one had judged that your highness required a vassal that would constantly be by your side and scold your highness.”
“Lala. I am a full grown adult. I do not have any reason whatsoever to get a new mother figure now and hear nagging……”
It was then.
Lapis Lazuli had casually grabbed my necktie.
In my short moment of confusion, Lapis Lazuli pulled.
I did not know exactly what kind of physical principle was hidden within this action, but the result was simple and obvious.
Lapis Lazuli had stolen my lips.
I could feel something soft on my lips.
I wonder if about 10 seconds had passed. We steadily drifted apart.
When two people split apart, it would feel unnatural even if they were to share hundreds of idle talk, but in this moment of silence, it felt perfectly natural to drift away. Once the kiss was over and we had regained our distance, I felt that that distance felt incredibly natural.
Lapis Lazuli whispered.
“I also do not intend to act as your highness’ mother.”
I spoke carefully.
“I admit that over the period of time I have said many salacious lines like kissing. However, that was purely to enjoy watching your embarrassed reaction, and thus had no deeper meaning. If, by chance, I had planted a misunderstanding due to that, then I shall sincerely apologize here and……”
“I know that as well. Your highness.”
Lapis Lazuli cut me off.
And once again, she pulled my necktie downwards.
“That’s why, please shut up.”
We buried ourselves under the dark hallway.
After the second kiss, who moved first, whose palm grasped the other’s body first, and who was the first to push the other into the darkest corner of the hallway, we could not tell. It had become meaningless to discuss the order.
The only thing I could remember vividly were her silently glowing blue eyes.
A gray cat meowed.
The cat bathed in the moonlight and stretched out tiredly.
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