DUNGEON DEFENSE - DUNGEON DEFENSE Volume 2 - Chapter 4 – Baroque Game of Truth or Dare
Empire Calendar: Year 1505, Month 9, Day 17
Dantalian’s Demon Lord Castle vicinity
“A person who appears to be a noble is escaping. Lord, is it fine to not pursue him?”
“Leave him be. That man is Margrave von Rosenberg. A high noble who’s contending for precedency in the northern region of the Habsburg empire. If I were to capture the margrave here, then the consequences would become needlessly big.”
There was no reason for us to distinguish ourselves more than necessary yet.
‘The rank 71st rice fish Demon Lord had suddenly captured the greatest margrave in the empire.’, this would become an excessively large scandal. Instantly gaining the attention of the entire continent. Factions earnestly vigilant towards me will appear as well. This was something I did not wish for.
The Earl of Rosenberg’s territory was located on the border area between the human and demon world.
In order for the demon armies to invade the humans, and the human armies to invade the demons, this was the path that both sides had to cross over first. If we were to thoughtlessly touch this danger zone, then we would be waking up a sleeping wolf.
Staying low was the right choice here.
“Although we may have won here, if you looked at it objectively, this is not an impressive victory. This was nothing more than 3,000 soldiers suppressing a mere 1,000. Adding to that, I have lost my Demon Lord Castle as well. If anything, the other demons will most likely ridicule me.”
A Demon Lord who had lost his Demon Lord Castle despite having an overwhelming advantage in troops by 3 times the amount.
I planned to make that into how people evaluated me.
In conclusion, while I was a parvenu who had luckily sold the black herb in order to become this prosperous, I was also disregarded as the fool among fools who had accepted a half-breed outcast as my lover. If this wasn’t a perfect disguise tactic, then I didn’t know what it was.
I laughed with satisfaction.
“That margrave has done quite the outstanding job. To think he would blow up my Demon Lord Castle…… I was hoping that he would at least pillage the herbs from my castle, but he had gone and done something beyond that instead. How splendid.”
“No matter how big the world is, the only Demon Lord who would be happy that their Demon Lord Castle was destroyed is your lordship.”
Miss Farnese spoke in a dumbfounded tone.
“Although this young lady thinks that the other Demon Lords will look down on your lordship completely.”
“I can only be grateful if they do belittle me.”
That was exactly what I wanted.
“Think about it, De Farnese. Margrave von Rosenberg could have easily mobilized a force of 10,000 soldiers. However, the actual amount of troops he had brought with him was merely 1,000. A military force consisting mainly of light infantry and cavalry, at that. How much could he have been underestimating me to have done this?”
But it was thanks to that, I was able to survive.
If the margrave had led a massive army of ten thousand soldiers to invade my castle, then I would have been helpless to defend myself.
Even if I was overflowing with money, it still required time to draft troops. It would require several months before we could gather enough troops to even come close to 10,000. If we were unfortunate, then we would have had to recruit troops for 6 months while staying on our toes.
Regardless, Margrave von Rosenberg had stopped mobilizing troops at one thousand. An escape route was created there. The margrave’s carelessness had allowed me to preserve my life.
“It is a rule that even lions put their all into hunting rabbits. That margrave did not know of this simple truth, which lead to his own demise.”
“To put your all into hunting a rabbit, is it……? That is quite the profound line. This young lady shall keep it in mind.”
“How commendable. As a reward I shall press your crown.”
“Ah—, ackackack—, but we won— We achieved victory like your lordship wanted, but why is this young lady being kneaded agaaaaain……?”
Give up. From now on, this little lady was my personal rice cake. I had taken a liking to this unbearably squishy feeling of her head. I shall dote on you as much as I did my second half little sister.
After the battle was over, we had captured a considerable amount of prisoners. Around 600 of the 1,000 enemy troops had lost their will to fight and surrendered. Since it was both myself and Miss Farnese’s first time dealing with post war matters, we were perplexed.
“Does your lordship have a facility to accommodate prisoners?”
“What do you expect from a Demon Lord who just had their Demon Lord Castle destroyed?”
“Mm. Since it would be troubling to let them go like this, let us just get rid of them.”
I shrugged my shoulders. I had no reason to refuse.
600 humans were dealt with on the hill that day.
While looking down at the sight of the slaughter happening before us, we shared a friendly conversation(is what it’s called, but read as kneading punishment). The prisoners wailed and pleaded for us to spare them, but we ignored it.
“Ah, now that I think about it.”
I remembered something important.
“De Farnese. You have not committed murder with your own two hands before, have you?”
“Mm? If you were to go into details then yes, your lordship is correct.”
“I recommend using this opportunity to experience the act of killing. The difference between killing someone in your head and actually killing someone is considerably vast. If you were to gain the experience beforehand, then you will not end up in a delicate situation later on.”
“Indeed. That makes sense.”
Laura De Farnese nodded her head and proceeded to go down the hill. She received a long sword from one of our soldiers and immediately swung it at a prisoner’s neck in one smooth motion. Because the neck wasn’t severed in a single hit, she had to swing the blade 5 to 6 times.
With the prisoner’s head in her left hand, Miss Farnese trudged her way back to where I was. She looked at me and tilted her head.
“This young lady didn’t really feel any noteworthy emotion?”
“Hou. It seems you have a stronger heart than I imagined.”
In my case, I was quite shaken up after my first kill.
I could still distinctly remember my shaking hands from having killed my two kidnappers. I was in my 3rd year of elementary school at the time.
Although, in truth, the person to have incited that kidnapping was one of my father’s concubines.
At the time, one of my kidnappers had screamed in terror, ‘I did nothing wrong! Your family said they’d pay me. Please forgive me!’
Perhaps I was more shocked by that statement than I was at my murders.
People blinded by love were bound to do something crazy.
My father had closed his eyes eternally unaware of the truth of this incident. I had purposely stayed silent on my side. It felt like I would be a snitch if I told him, so it was not to my liking. That was my view back then.
I did not want to borrow the hand of my father.
I would personally punish the one who threatened my life.
Since the lion does not ask the tiger to fight in their stead.
At the age of 10, was the moment my own fundamental sense of ethics was engraved into my brain.
“Lord. This young lady wishes to make this prisoner’s head into a skull and keep it.”
Miss Farnese hugged the head and spoke.
“For one reason or another, this is the first person this young lady has ever killed. It is a monumental event. Due to your lordship, this young lady was able to discover that making history on one’s own is much more enjoyable than keeping watch on the history of the past. Thus, this fellow’s head shall be the first sacrifice to carve this young lady’s name into history…… I desire to cherish it preciously.”
“Well, is it not fine? A hobby of collecting skulls is rather sophisticated so it is remarkable.”
“Mm, this young lady knew your lordship would understand.”
It was not like I understood her exactly.
I was respecting her.
After Laura De Farnese had given the order to clean up the postwar outcome—I had passed this task onto her because it was extremely tiresome to do myself—I went to look for Lapis Lazuli.
Lala was organizing documents in the quarters at the rear end of our forces. Once I entered the room, Lala stopped what she was doing and stared at me.
The moment I was about to open my mouth, she took the initiative.
“This one is disappointed.”
“—This one was disappointed.”
Lapis Lazuli put down the stack of paper.
And glared straight at me.
“Your highness had treated this one like a common lover. What this one desired from your highness was to be treated as a companion of authority, never did this one desire for a lovers relationship chained down to one another. Why did your highness carelessly try to steal this one’s game and prey?”
“……I am sorry.”
“Yesterday, did your highness say that your highness loved this one?”
I nodded my head.
“Does your highness still love this one?”
“Surprisingly, it seems so.”
Lapis Lazuli let out a small sigh.
“Let us establish rules.”
“By rules, you mean?”
“Do not ask for affection from this one, and this one as well, will not yearn for affection from your highness. The most important thing to your highness and this one is taking hold of power in the demon world. In order to achieve that, a cold attitude that is capable of going through blood and tears is necessary.”
“I agree completely.”
“…… Things have become a mess.”
Lapis Lazuli pressed her fingers on her forehead and closed her eyes.
“Love is nothing more than a weakness. The excess baggage of emotion that serves no purpose. For your highness to truly consider this one as a woman is a surprise. Before this one is a woman, this one is a mere peasant succubus who wishes to secure success.”
“Lala. I have something to say regarding this matter as well.”
I smiled faintly.
“I am not the only one with excess baggage attached to their emotions. Lala. You do as well. It is regrettable, but you are not in the position to be so confidently reproaching me.”
“This one apologizes, but this one is unable to understand what your highness is talking about.”
“Are you not in love with me as well?”
Lapis Lazuli slowly knit her brows.
“Is your highness sane? There is a limit to overinflated egos.”
“Think carefully. If I were to fall into being a slave to love, if anything, it would be beneficial for you. If I were to be bound, made to submit, and forced to kneel by each and every one of your words, then eventually, you will take a position more superior to Demon Lord Dantalian. Thus, on the day that I obtain the seat of power, you, having already placed me into your hand, would be the true greatest authority, would you not?”
Lapis Lazuli shut her mouth.
The smile on the edge of my mouth grew wider.
“But you did not do so. No, you were unable to even entertain that notion. Instead of feeling delighted at the sight of myself obsessing over you, you felt displeasure. Why do you think that was so?”
A long period of time passed.
A certain shock was contained within Lapis Lazuli’s blue eyes. As if she was witnessing an overwhelming natural landscape for the first time.
“……Your highness is right. This one had no reason to refuse your highness’ courtship. Why would this one……”
“That is because you love me.”
I took a step towards her.
Our gaze grew closer by that much as well.
“However, before loving someone else, we love authority more. Therefore, we love the person who also loves the same authority as ourselves. Like how a musician would be attracted to their lover who appreciated music. Like how a poet would be attracted to their lover who was infatuated by poems……”
Exactly the same as themselves.
Towards the person who strongly yearned for authority as much as themselves.
Towards the person who understood as much as they did on what authority was.
Us being drawn together was inevitable.
“Lala. I love the you, who loves authority.”
“Your cold tenacity, your merciless pragmatism, and your attitude that does not allow even the slightest bit of carelessness and tolerance. I love them all. However, at the moment you lose your pure aspiration towards your lust for power, I will love you no longer.”
“……This one understands.”
Lapis Lazuli’s eyes slowly became thin.
“The sight of your highness regarding something other than authority as precious, this one had felt disappointment towards that. Because this one had perceived that the part of your highness that this one loves was waning.”
Lapis Lazuli closed her eyes.
Slowly, as if she was trying to appreciate something.
“So this is…… my love.”
“That is so.”
“We are the same. The two of us both love authority the most. Therefore, when we see the other person disregard power, an uncontainable rage stirs inside of us.”
“What your highness has said is correct. Authority has the prime value. Nothing can be said against this.”
Lapis opened her eyes.
Lala’s usual cold gaze was there.
“Although this one does admit that she loves your highness, this one has to apologize. In the end, your highness is not more precious than authority.”
We are the same.
A step closer.
Perhaps it wasn’t appropriate to refer to this emotion as love.
It was not love.
It was not friendship.
The same kin.
The feeling of ascertaining the fact that a person perfectly akin to myself existed in this world.
Not like Laura De Farnese, who had only recently stood up on her own, but two people who have already discovered themselves and were completely developed. These two met and recognized who the other person was, and confirmed their kin.
Up until now, I was a unique race in my own world.
Only I existed, and I alone formed another type of humanoid race distant from other Homo sapiens.
But now, I had met Lapis Lazuli and discovered the second of my kind.
In other words,
Love for humanity.
We were currently perceiving a love for humanity that consisted of solely us two.
“Do you know what is the best part about being a Demon Lord? It is the fact that I barely have to sleep. There was a time that I had stayed up for four nights in a row agonizing over something. At the time, I very much disliked the idea of falling asleep and having my worries be cut off mid-way.”
Taking the final step closer towards her.
We had finally reached one another.
“Normal people would say that dreams are pointless. That among the things in one’s life, something like dreams was not needed. However, I’m a bit different. Dreams not only made my life feel useless, but it made it powerless as well. I have always been swept up in this emotion.”
“Even though it may only be by half, this one is still a succubus.”
Without anyone having to take the initiative.
She and I slowly drew our bodies together.
While I wrapped my arm around her back, she moved her own arm around me as well.
Like two venomous snakes coiling around each other.
“This one can control your highness’ dreams.”
“You shall make me perfect.”
“Yes. This one shall make your highness perfect. And this one as well, shall become perfect through your highness.”
Our faces grew closer.
Our breaths too, grew closer.
“You are my weakness. However, if we pay enough attention, if we do not forget what race we are originally from, then not a relationship where we reveal each other’s flaws, but a relationship where we cover each other’s shortcomings instead.”
Solely for a more mighty authority.
Solely for a more exalted authority.
Thus, not a fiancée, but—
The two of us were partners.
“Lapis Lazuli. I love you.”
“This one too, loves your highness. Lord Dantalian.”
Our lips met.
A virtuous sound effect rang in my ear.
[You’ve sincerely reached a communion with the other party!]
[Lapis Lazuli’s affection went up by 50!]
Instead of paying attention towards something like a notice window, I pushed further into Lala’s touch.
Her cool yet soft skin was pleasant.
A bit deeper.
While exploring each other’s warmth, while confirming each other’s existence.
I to myself, and her to herself, each person simply filled each other.
Like a dog chasing its shadow.
▯Weakest Demon Lord, Rank 71st, Dantalian
Empire Calendar: Year 1505, Month 9, Day 21
Niflheim, Governor’s Palace
“Barbatos. This morning you came here and told me this. That the only significance love has is that it reveals your weakness. That people don’t grow stronger through love, but they grow stronger after throwing it away instead.”
“Your words are half right and half wrong. Certainly, Lapis was my weakness, and I too was Lapis’ weakness. But that is it. While the two of us share love, we do not make each other weak.”
On the contrary, it was the opposite.
“We only make the other stronger without bounds.”
Barbatos fell into a silence.
While enjoying my wine, I spoke.
“Our love may not be warm, but it is cold. We may not be soft, but we are sharp. Even though we may be unable to accept something, we are still going towards something. We are firm, so we do not break, and in perfect order, we annihilate the enemy before our eyes. That is our practice. And it is also the reason why we had returned to Niflheim after defeating the margrave’s army.”
“What do you mean?”
“The culprit to have written that letter informing me of the invaders is none other than you, Barbatos.”
For an instant.
Barbatos’ face froze.
“Like I said, what are you talking……?”
“It was a simple test. The culprit always returns to the scene of the crime which they had succeeded in committing. I tried utilizing this old and antique saying once.”
With a soft gaze.
As if I was stroking her with my hand, I glanced at Barbatos from head to toe.
“Whoever it was that had sent me the letter, it was clear that the person held goodwill towards me. Since they did notify me of the fact that invaders were going to appear, after all. However, who could have known the detailed circumstances of Margrave Rosenberg, and had the capability of acquiring such information? Barbatos, how vast does one’s information network have to be in order to know the exact information of the dispatched troops? The culprit was without a doubt someone with great power.”
Someone powerful enough to be rank 8th.
Someone hostile towards the humans and thus constantly taking note of the military movement in the human side.
Someone who was well-informed of the situation in Earl Rosenberg’s territory, since it resides in the border area between demon and humankind.
“Yes. Barbatos. A person of authority such as yourself.”
Barbatos opened her mouth.
At some point, she had regained her mischievous expression.
“……Aha, ahahaha. I was curious as to what you were trying to say.”
Her voice was composed as well.
“Dantalian. Of course, I’m quite the freaking awesome person, just as you said. An information network in the human race, well, obviously I have that. Since you never know when those humans are going to try and start some funny business.”
Her acting ability was quite splendid. As a politician, it was the ideal. It wasn’t a coincidence that she was the leader of such a large political faction known as the Plains Faction.
Her usual exaggerated actions that appeared frivolous, her mixing of profanities into her words that made the ears of others feel unpleasant, and her wearing clothes with so much exposure that it made others troubled on where to put their eyes. These were all calculated actions.
A means to lure and manipulate another person’s mind as she pleased.
“But that’s all, you know? I’m not the type of person to write something trivial like a message. If something happens, then like right now, I’d spit it right in your face in person. Why would I send a letter like some narrow-minded fool?”
She had approached me as if she truly cared about my well-being, despite being a person who had absolutely no interest in my love life.
She acted as if she was sincerely listening to my story.
Therefore, I had said earlier.
That Barbatos was a good woman.
I have rarely ever seen a woman as politically thorough as this.
Barbatos was able to develop her acting ability through the extensive 500 years of her life. Certainly, it was a tremendous ability. Aah, it was at the level that would make even the greatest of actors cry. Although it wasn’t on my level, I acknowledged that it was right below my chin.
Original talent won over effort.
My aptitude for acting could only overwhelm your efforts.
“In the first place, if I did send you that letter, then there’s no reason for me to be denying it like this. Don’t you think so? In the end, you were saved thanks to that note.”
Barbatos shrugged her shoulders.
“Without that letter, you wouldn’t have known the margrave’s army was invading and would have just got done in. Therefore, the person who wrote that letter is your savior. Why would I throw away the free opportunity to put you in my debt? That’s because I really didn’t send it.”
Although it was plausible.
It was a shallow excuse.
“Barbatos. That’s because you didn’t send that letter with the intention of saving me.”
“Hey, fuck. I keep saying I didn’t send it, but you’re still saying that?”
“You wrote that letter with the intention to simply ‘test’ me.”
Barbatos had said to me.
— I was hoping that an actual useful rookie had appeared after such a long time, but isn’t he just a complete mental patient? Haaa, my fate is always like this…….
— How the hell do I make this retard function like an actual person…….
How could she have known that I was a useful rookie?
Was it simply because I was able to make money off of the black herbs?
Barbatos did not know the inner details of what exactly I had done to become wealthy. Was it merely thanks to luck, or was it because I had gotten Ivar Lodbrok in the palm of my hand? Luck and skill, which side was the source of my success was uncertain to her.
By the time Barbatos had brought up those words, she had already tested me using a certain method beforehand.
“After hearing the news that the margrave’s army was moving, Barbatos, you most likely wanted to see my ability once. You wanted to see with your own eyes if I truly was a useful personnel. You sent the letter, and then patiently waited to see how I responded to the invaders….….”
The result was a pass.
Demon Lord Dantalian had safely passed the test called Margrave von Rosenberg.
Now Demon Lord Barbatos had decided that she would recruit Demon Lord Dantalian into her faction.
Except, there was a large problem placed there.
“Do you perhaps remember? The words you uttered the moment you came here yesterday.”
“….….No. Since I’m not the type of person to particularly remember something useless.”
“Then remember it now. For this was not an unimportant occasion for you, not by a long shot. From the very beginning you had abruptly said to me this.”
— If you’re trying to break up with that succubus lover of yours, then I can help.
— In the first place, it doesn’t make sense for an outcast to be having sex with a Demon Lord. It’s not too late yet, so ask for my help.
Speaking frankly, this was a severely meddlesome thing to say.
But if you changed your view slightly, then this was an exceedingly obvious advice.
Because if the personnel she planned to scout to her faction was ‘a fool who had taken an outcast as their lover’, a great damage would be inflicted on the image of Barbatos’ faction.
Image management was a core part of politics.
In Barbatos’ position, there was a need to lead me into breaking up with Lapis no matter what.
“……Haa. I gave you that advice while being purely considerate of you.”
After hearing my words, Barbatos grimaced.
“You’re really a bastard who treats favors like shit, huh? What? Does everyone appear like coyotes aiming only for political gains in those eye sockets of yours? Your way of thinking is really terrible, Dantalian.”
“When you heard the news that Demon Lord Dantalian was slapped in the plaza by Lapis.”
I spoke in a low tone.
Barbatos sealed her lips.
“At the time you probably thought this. That a golden opportunity had arrived. You quickly approached me with the intention of striking while the iron was hot. Within 20 minutes after I was slapped, at that.”
— Go ahead and let it all out. Why did you two fight?
— Do you not see me applying ice still? It has only been 20 minutes since I was slapped by Lapis.
“Here in Niflheim, I am famous for my passionate love for Lapis. In your position, the headache this must have caused you must have been immense. For starters, you had to make them break up, but how you were going to accomplish in separating them, didn’t come to you.”
“At the report that I was slapped, you thought that ‘this is it’. There’s no weaker glass than someone who was just in an argument with their lover, and moments after they had went their separate ways. It would shatter if you tapped it with a hammer. You most likely assumed that if you played your cards right, then you could tear the relationship between Lapis and I with ease.”
Then Barbatos was cautious.
In order to not let her true intentions be obvious.
— Did you say your lover’s name was Lapis Lazuli? Damn she’s admirable. How the hell was she able to deal with you? If it were me, I’d have cut your balls off and ran away a long time ago.
This was the part where Barbatos was commendable.
She did not take my side, but on the contrary, had taken Lapis’ side instead.
As if to plant the misunderstanding that ‘breaking up on her account’ was the right choice.
— You two really should just break up.
She had adroitly disguised her words.
Initially, Barbatos must have been pleased that everything was flowing passively. Once Barbatos had heard that I tried to kill Lapis’ mother, she was certain.
This is finished.
Barbatos was convinced that a person who could tolerate a man who had tried to kill their own mother and continue their lover relationship, did not exist.
However, as her stratagem was progressing smoothly—she was faced with a problem that she had never expected.
“The instant you started to panic, Barbatos. Was the moment I confessed for the second time my love for Lapis. It must have been incredibly preposterous. I understand. You most likely never imagined there would be a person in the world whose love was as insane as mine.
“You had tried to convince me quite verbosely.”
—How is that love?
—That’s, not love.
—It’s fine if you two break up, but love…… is an emotion that’s more precious than anything else. It is something that other things should yield willingly to, to make way for.
“The emotion that I feel now is not love. Love is something more noble than anything else. More sacred. It is something that is softer…… By claiming so, you wanted me to point to my own emotion and say that ‘this is not love’, right?”
I smiled gently.
“I’m sorry that you were unable to achieve your aim, Barbatos. This is my payment for being my love counsellor throughout the night. I shall specially prove that this is another example of love.”
I raised a small bell and shook it.
Once I did so, the door to the reception room opened and someone entered. Barbatos was startled and turned to look towards the door. There, Lapis was standing with an emotionless expression on her face.
“Did your highness call?”
“Aah. You went through a lot of trouble standing in wait all night, Lapis.”
“It is fine. Thanks to your highness, this one has become accustomed to staying up all night.”
At the sight of us two conversing, Barbatos looked at us with a perplexed complexion.
“What is this……?”
“Lapis. It seems her highness Barbatos is a bit doubtful of our love. It appears she thinks that you hold a grudge against me for having tried to kill your birth mother. What do you think? Would you care to show it to her highness Barbatos as well?”
“Understood. This one shall present it immediately.”
Lapis bowed and left the reception room. Barbatos looked at me with eyes that looked as if she couldn’t understand. Well, wait a little. Lapis’ pace is unexpectedly fast so she will return momentarily.
A peculiar silence passed. Shortly after, Lapis returned. In her hands, she was carrying a silver platter that the maids used to deliver food.
“Now then, Lapis. Show it to her highness Barbatos.”
“Yes. Excuse this one.”
Lapis delicately lifted the lid off of the tray.
Barbatos’ eyes became wide.
While beaming, I clapped my hands.
“How is it? Is it not splendid? This is Lapis Lazuli. This is my first love, my mistress who may perhaps be my only love. Barbatos. Behold.”
On top of the shining silver platter was a person’s head.
The face of the old woman who came here half a month ago.
“That is Lapis’ birth mother.”
“Do you still not understand? She was murdered. By Lapis herself!”
I burst out in laughter.
The sound of laughter filled the reception room. Though this was quite the discourteous thing to do in the middle of the night, it was unavoidable. How am I to stop when laughter came from my chest all on its own?
“Lapis was not enraged because I had tried to kill her mother. She was upset because I had carelessly tried to step forward while forgetting my place!”
Barbatos’ complexion was still bewildered.
“What…… are you saying?”
“I’m talking about revenge, Barbatos. Revenge! Is it not obvious that one must obtain vengeance with their own two hands against the person who had ruined their life? Despite that, since I had tried to do as I pleased and achieve revenge in her stead, of course Lapis would be mad!”
—Why did your highness carelessly try to steal this one’s game and prey?
The line Lapis had said to me.
The words she had said while reprimanding me had that meaning.
Unable to contain my own laughter, I chuckled. It was a completely unseemly laugh. However, I wasn’t overflowing with the breadth of mind to be concerned with my dignity here. I wanted to enjoy this moment to the fullest.
“You understand now, right? On the 9th month and 3rd day, the day that old woman came to my reception room, Lapis had immediately chased after her and assassinated the old hag in secret. Aah, how lovely this girl is! How adamantly this girl had executed an equation of revenge! Lapis, I truly love you……”
“……Her highness Barbatos is watching. Please have some dignity, Lord Dantalian.”
“What of it? It becomes better the more love one shares.”
Lapis Lazuli let out a small sigh.
Now even that sigh was lovely. Truly, I really am the apostle of love. Even Goddess Aphrodite would look down at me and smile contentedly. To point at me and criticize that ‘I did not know love’, there was a limit to obstinately false propaganda.
“It’s not only the old woman. Lapis had even assassinated the maid that had insulted her. To my surprise, I found out later on that the incident was covered up as an accident. They said food got caught in her throat and she choked to death, but in truth it was poison. It is fine to marvel, Barbatos. Since our Lapis is truly a remarkable woman.”
“This certainly is indeed a problem, seeing that your highness’ drivel has gone beyond control. This one shall take her leave.”
“Ah, sure. Go and get some rest. Since we will not be sharing a bed tonight, you do not have to go out of your way to apply rose oil before you sleep—.”
After giving me a cold gaze, Lapis left the reception room.
Yes. I was self-aware of the fact that I was behaving fairly foolishly. But this was my first love. It was obvious that I would be unable to come to my senses and was infatuated with a girl. This was perfectly normal. I turned my head to gaze at Barbatos.
“I told her that if I were to be slapped in a plaza, while in front of many people, then the culprit to have sent the letter will come find me. And once I did, without a single bit of hesitation, she slapped me. Then we acted as if we had broken up.”
Lapis Lazuli was that kind of woman.
The partner that I loved was that kind of woman.
“—And so, Barbatos.”
“How was it? Oh maestro of love, who has had over 1,000 lovers over a course of 500 years. Oh Barbatos, who had said that if I listened to your love advice then beautiful women would give me fellatio even if I was just laying down. What is your impression on the new category of love which you have witnessed for the first time in 500 years?”
Barbatos went silent.
With her head bent downwards, her shoulders trembled.
Her shoulders shook a bit more violently.
“Ha……haha, hahah……ahaha– Hahahaha–……Heu, gehehe—eheuh, Keuhehe– Haa, heu, ha—haha, KAHAH! KUHAHAHA! HAHA, AHAHAHAHA—!”
What started as uncontrollable laughter had reached uncontrollable laughter of madness.
Barbatos shook her entire body as she laughed.
The laughter continued on for a long while. Barbatos snapped her head back up. A clear insanity flowed on her face. The rims of her eyes and the corners of her mouth were twisted in gleeful derision, and her white teeth shined with voracious greed.
“A masterpiece! This is, a masterpiece!”
This was the rank 8th.
The highest ranking necromancer praised for her immortality, this was Demon Lord Barbatos’ naked face.
“Aaang? Heung, euung? Dantalian, you were able to present me joy that went beyond my expectations. I’ve taken a liking in you. I’ve really, tremendously taken a liking in you. If perhaps, your goal was to bargain for my goodwill then I will congratulate you. Mm. Since I have certainly become fond of you.”
“I’m glad that you’re delighted.”
I shrugged my shoulders.
“As the actor who had provided you with this performance throughout the night, it is rewarding.”
“Performance? Puh, puhahaha. That was a performance? That was a stage that you calculated from start to finish? This retarded fuck. Are you saying that you did all kinds of shit just to incite laughter from me!?”
“You are Barbatos. The rank 8th Demon Lord. If it took only a single night to touch your sincerity, then I consider this a cheap price.”
If there was another object that I had invested on for this night, then it was the Year 1101 Balleleunium wine.
I had purposely acquired the finest quality wine in order to incite even the smallest bit of carelessness in Barbatos. In order to enjoy this most sublime wine, Barbatos had thoughtlessly allowed herself to get drunk. She had disabled the alcohol detoxification inside of her, on her own. The result was this comedy happening before me.
“Kakakaka! Yeah, it’s certainly a cheap price. You really do know your place. My inner thoughts that I’ve never revealed to anyone for 300 years, you were able to obtain within a single night, after all. But that’s foolish. Aah, there’s no doubt that it’s foolish.”
Her smile was so wide that it felt like the corners of her mouth would rip.
“I can’t overlook someone who’s figured out what kind of bitch I am, you know? Makes me nervous. If you spread a rumor like—I looked into it and found out that Barbatos is actually a bitch who raises internal organs and venomous snakes. Hm? The negative impact I’d receive won’t be small.”
“Now then, Dantalian. Quickly turn that smart head of yours. How should I deal with the bastard who has witnessed my naked face? My compatriots of the demon world only think of me as someone who’s pure and righteous, you know? In order to not disappoint those kids, I have the duty to rip your mouth out. Think well before I cut your tongue off, little Demon Lord……”
Barbatos slowly approached me.
A black mist billowed around her.
A mist formed by magical energy. The discerning eye to know what kind of magical effect that mist had was absent to me. Except, even I could tell that it wasn’t something good for my health.
“No, cutting off your tongue would be a waste. Your eloquence and voice would certainly be useful in demagoguery operations. Should I make you into my puppet? Would that be more efficient? For starters, should I kill you by slitting your throat, and then revive you into a slave that listens and obeys my commands alone?”
“That would be fun. Ah, while I’m at it, should I also make your succubus lover into a slave as well? I may despise succubi the most in the world, but in one way or another, I’ve taken a liking to you both. I’ll organize an arena where you two can kill and die to one another. But of course……”
Barbatos gripped my chin and raised it slightly.
Her golden eyes were exceptionally close.
“The story would be different if you pledge your loyalty to me.”
“I am a generous Demon Lord, Dantalian. I protect the people who come into my faction no matter what and until the very end. Albeit there may be a slight condition, that isn’t very important.
“……I’m rather curious as to what that condition is.”
“Hm. Not being able to leave the faction until you die.”
Barbatos smiled smoothly.
The insanity which was flowing on her face a second ago was nowhere in sight now.
But it wasn’t surprising. You did not determine how psychotic a person was by how quickly they revealed their madness, but rather, you determined it by how swiftly they hid their lunacy.
“Although, you actually won’t be able to leave even after death. Since I’m the greatest necromancer in the continent. If I put in a little effort then I could revive your corpse. That’s why, for all of eternity— you will join my faction and work until your bones are dust.”
“May I ask what your goal for labor is?”
“What a trivial question. Obviously, it was already decided on the extermination of humankind.”
A bitter laugh unintentionally slipped out from me because of the very Demon Lord-like response.
Still smiling comfortably like a Marian, Barbatos spoke.
“The demon world is too barren. Not only is agriculture barely possible, there is a limit to feeding all of our people while relying solely on commerce. Just the mere fact that those inferior humans are occupying that abundant agriculture belt fills me with rage.”
“Conquering the continent. Is that your goal, Barbatos?”
“No. My goal is providing the demonkind with a bountiful life. Dantalian, I may be a warrior, but before that, I am a single empress.”
Barbatos bit my right ear.
With a ‘crunch’, the feeling of my bones in my ear breaking transferred to me.
I felt the pain but I endured it. The liquid flowing down from my ear was probably blood.
“That Paimon bitch is declaring for coexistence with the humans, but honestly, that’s not possible. Look. Different from us, humans all look alike. Despite that, they are split apart by nations or whatever and are hostile towards each other. For our demonkind, who varies in appearance, language, and customs, to get along with the humans? That’s superb nonsense.”
“But us demons are different. Demons can come together as one under Demon Lords. It is possible for a countless number of races to cohere into a single group.”
“And therefore. That’s why we’re the sacred and inviolable representatives that symbolize absolute dignity, and members of an order of 72 who rule over all demons……”
“Exactly. Well done, our little Dantalian.”
While grinning, Barbatos pulled my ear.
She stubbornly pulled at the part where the flesh was torn and the bones were breaking.
“Since humans don’t accept the divinity of Demon Lords, there is no other choice but to exterminate them completely. That’s why those guys are like the foreign substance of our world. For the utopia of everyone becoming one and living peacefully, we have to wipe them out.”
“That is quite the extreme logic.”
“Logic is always extreme. The ignorant masses are terrified of that extremity and live under a vague but warm self-comfort. To them, the truth is like a cold snowy wind, so if they are hit by it on their bare skin, they will freeze and die. Therefore, they cover themselves with rags layered with hypocrisy and deception. Believing that those rags are clothes. But unaware that, in truth, that was their skin.”
“That is an impressive philosophy.”
“I’d be glad if you referred to it as an incredibly accurate philosophy.”
Barbatos stopped harassing my ear.
Her fingers were covered in crimson blood. She brought them to her lips. And her saliva and my blood were mixed on her finger.
“Hm. Your blood is considerably sweet. I see your eating habits are clean.”
“I personally think that eating nothing when possible is the correct eating habit.”
“That’s a good way of thinking. And it’s also correct. That’s much better than those swines that shove their noses into whatever they can. You were slightly like a swine, Dantalian. I’ll use this opportunity to tell you.”
“Do not carelessly mess with Demons Lords above the rank of 10.”
“You seem rather confident that you were able to crush that bitch Paimon, but make some air holes in your lungs. Despite her looks, she’s not an easy bitch. As if she didn’t appear like a whore already, she goes around opening her legs here and there, sheesh. If you make a wrong move towards her, then her lovers from all over…… it’ll be troublesome. Incredibly annoying.”
Barbatos clicked her tongue.
“You were just lucky. They let it slide that time since it was so clear that Paimon was in the wrong during the Walpurgis Night. I don’t know what’ll happen if a bunch of scary uncles approach you, you know?”
“I’ll offer this to you for the final time. Come into my faction, Dantalian. With your resources, you could contribute to the prosperity of all demons on the continent. Even if your personality is rotten to the core, that doesn’t mean you’re unable to work for a righteous cause. Don’t worry. I’ll even look over that succubus lover of yours. Although you’ll have to quash your engagement. Even I’m capable of being lenient if you decide to keep her as your concubine in secret……”
“I shall gift you war.”
Barbatos shut her mouth.
She furrowed her brows.
“You’re most likely hoping for war, Barbatos. A massive war is required in order to destroy humanity. The present, where the Black Death is running rampant, the military forces of the humans are continuing to decrease. You should have judged that if you wished to accomplish the unification of the continent, then now was the golden opportunity.”
As if I had peaked her interest, Barbatos smiled slyly like a cat.
“And if your assumption is true. Then what?”
“I do not assume. I merely see through.”
That was the difference between a theorist and a politician.
“The war that you desire. I shall bring it upon us.”
“Kakaka. What’s this rank 71st rookie saying?”
Barbatos laughed mockingly.
“Do you know what scale of war that I want? A war of extermination. A war to exterminate an entire race. A massive war where all the Demon Lords take part in, along with all the nations of the human world. It’s not something small a loach like you could offer.”
“The war that I will gift you is exactly that.”
“Haa? How would someone like you start a massive war……”
“Spread the rumor that the Demon Lords have spread the Black Death.”
A stillness fell on the reception room.
Barbatos let out a dubious voice.
“What are you talking about?”
“If you think about it, then it’s simple. The Black Death is currently sweeping over the entire continent. The regions that were successful in suppressing the initial spread is no more than a precious few, since the humans are less informed on plagues than us demons.”
A portion of cities were fortunate in preventing the spread of the plague.
It was thanks to the fact that I had discovered the black herb several years earlier than it was supposed to found. Some lords had utilized both their territory’s assets and family fortune to buy the black herbs en masse, and used those to protect their people.
However, the amount of lords who have done this were few.
The majority had used the expensive black herb only to protect themselves and their family. There were even people who bought the black herbs from me and distributed it for an exorbitant price. In conclusion, as the Black Death had done in , it was causing a countless number of lives to be lost.
The peasants especially were experiencing hell.
“Human society is slowly breaking down. The lords and temples that are unable to handle this accordingly. The dissatisfaction towards the nations and royal families are at the highest point in history—in this situation , if the rumor that ‘the Demon Lords caused the plague’ were to spread, then how do you think the monarchs in the human world would utilize this?”
Barbatos’ eyes grew wide.
Indeed, she was a smart woman.
She had soon grasped the intention that I was trying to convey to her.
“They will actively make use of this rumor. The people in the wrong are not the lords, the nations, or the royal families. They will zealously elucidate to the people that, the true axis of evil are the Demon Lords who had initially spread this atrocious epidemic.”
“Don’t tell me……!”
“We will inversely make use of that usage.”
By obtaining the merchant named Lapis Lazuli, I had gained wealth.
By obtaining the general named Laura De Farnese, I had gained military strength.
The only thing which I required now was a just and great cause.
“The lords in the human world will spread the rumor in order to extinguish the immediate flame, but they will do so while being unaware of how much terrifying force the Black Death will actually exhibit. As time passes, the humans will curse us Demon Lords. Despise us. Obviously, the voices demanding for the military forces to rise and suppress the Demon Lords will rise exponentially. And without fail, the point where the lords in the human world are unable to control the overheated public opinion will arrive. The entire human race will cry out for war and vengeance, and the lords will only be able to conform to them.”
The name of the Demon Lords.
“Blow the horns of Pruteni. Sound the whistles of Livonia. Beat the drums of Jötunheimr and make the entire continent tremble. Make the song of Selonian, Ratgallian, and Semigallian reign as the prominence of fear. A devastating war, Barbatos. If we can’t invade them, then we just have to make them invade us.”
I shall spread the name of Dantalian across the continent.
I delightfully watched Barbatos’ facial expression slowly solidify.
Smile more energetically. Is this not the entertaining part? I rather liked it when I smiled. It was surely the best when people lived smiling during the times they wanted to.
The occasion of myself becoming your vassal will never happen. But I will gladly become something like your business partner. Our immediate goal aligned. I shall put in some effort to become a sound business partner for you.
I stroked Barbatos’ cheek and declared.
“Show the humans what true hell is.”
Autumn was ending.
The leaves that must fall shall descend.
And the snow that must descend shall fall.
Let us start the season of Dantalian.