We hurriedly returned to Eligor’s dungeon.
The Demon Lord herself was breathing roughly beside me.
“Phew, that was close. I was so surprised when you suddenly began the reset. We almost got crushed by the ocean, you know.”
“Sorry, I didn’t expect the collapse to be that quick either.”
I expected there would be more of a delay.
And honestly, I didn’t give it much thought because where we get sent after the collapse of a dungeon normally wasn’t an issue. However, this time, because the dungeon was built 2 kilometers below sea level, it was a big and fatal issue.
At any rate, the fact of the matter was that I managed to gain a crystal, which I could then use to build a dungeon.
“No use dwelling on it further. So, are you going to build your dungeon right away?”
“Yeah. As soon as I’ve gathered enough information, that is. The sooner I build it, the sooner I’ll be able to feed on emotions, after all.”
“Then, if you want, I could lend you some of my monsters to help you out. You’re strong, but defending a dungeon with just ten monsters is inconvenient, to say the least.”
“No, I’m good. Thanks for the offer though.”
…even now, I didn’t trust Eligor at all.
Moreover, if it was only about numbers, I had methods that could forcibly increase the number of my troops. As long as I could build my dungeon, and preferably have a couple of days of peace, we should manage.
“Alright, suit yourself. Any idea where to build it though?”
“None yet. I need to do some more research about your world first.”
When building a dungeon, picking its location was one of the most important parts.
After all, what good was a great dungeon design if no human ever visited? The dungeon should be placed somewhere it could gain a fair amount of attention, not somewhere so out of sight that no one even knew it existed. Moreover, the dungeon should also be placed somewhere easy enough to reach, not somewhere so inaccessible that even those that wanted to visit would give up doing the journey.
That being said, placing the dungeon in the middle of a high-traffic road presented its own set of problems, most of which involved the human rulers of the territory. The sooner they would take notice of the dungeon, the sooner they would take action. My dungeon being a city wouldn’t help, and if anything, it might make things worse because they could possibly view it as a foreign power trying to seize control of the territory.
As such, the information that the fox sisters had just wasn’t enough. I needed to gather more.
“Hmm. Well, let me know, okay? I’m very much interested in the kind of dungeon you’ll build.”
“You’ve been such a great help, so yeah, I’ll notify you.”
Sure, I’ll notify you, but only after I have enough defenses.
“This has been a good, mutually beneficial deal, wouldn’t you say? I got a medal that’ll allow me to make the S rank monster I really want, and you’ve obtained a much-needed base. Well, eventually.”
“I agree. I’m glad you’re the first Demon Lord I met in this world.”
“I’m glad I’m the first one you met too.”
We laughed and then shook hands.
After a couple more pleasantries, I announced that I was heading to her city.
And so, Eligor and I parted.
Now, time to buy supplies and gather information here in Eligor’s city.
At the moment, Eligor’s city was at its busiest period.
The main industry of the city was its women, but because of the many people gathered here, all sorts of stores were also open. And for someone who wanted to build a city, those stores were important.
“Ciel, take out a bag full of gold coins.”
So as to not attract unwanted attention, we entered a back alley.
One of the many reasons I put Ciel in my [Storage] was her ability to store all sorts of items within her body. Among those items were the regular metals dug by the tireless golems in my [Mines] back in Avalon.
The actual objective of those golems was to dig for magic metals such as mithril and orichalcum, but more likely than not, they would instead get regular metals such as gold, silver, platinum, and iron. Moreover, we primarily used magic metals for our equipment, while the regular metals were only used rarely. As a result of these factors, we were always in short supply of magic metals, but had a mountain of excess regular metals.
We put those excess regular metals in warehouses, but it wasn’t long before those warehouses were almost full. Thankfully, Ciel was then born.
Of course, the metals weren’t the only things stored within Ciel; if something was deemed useful, it was likely stored within her.
Because of this, she was really dependable whenever we needed to deploy as quickly as possible. Additionally, because her [Storage Space] didn’t care much for an object’s weight or size, as long as she was present, we could transport any object.
Ciel spitted out the gold bars we needed and then used the alchemy skill she copied from the Dwarf Smiths to transform the gold bars into gold coins.
She had already seen the gold coins used here, so it was easy for her to reproduce them provided she had enough materials. Given that she had several hundred tons of gold bars stored, I’d say that wasn’t a concern.
By the way, we opted to use my [Creation] earlier instead of this method because we were pressed for time.
“Done. This plump bag should do for now.”
“Yeah. Thanks, Ciel.”
A single gold coin could sustain a household of four people for a whole month, yet we had a bag full of them.
It’s a bit too much, isn’t it? Actually, with all the things we’re gonna buy, it might not even be enough. Now, time to make this bag lighter.
We were now done with the shopping.
We were buying things left and right, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that we caught the attention of muggers and pickpockets. They were a nuisance, but nothing more.
“So, how is it? Did you find anyone good enough?”
“Yup, sure did. He’s a stupid and incompetent noble. Plus, he has no wife or children. Exactly like you asked, my Demon Lord.”
I had given Ciel a task to do while we were shopping. That task was to consume the hair—stealthily of course—of anyone who seemed to have money, influence, and information. That mostly involved wealthy merchants and nobles.
Ciel’s [Trace] allowed her to mimic the appearance as well as the skills of anyone as long as she had managed to consume a body part of theirs. A secondary effect of her skill was that it also allowed her to acquire all of the knowledge that her targets had.
Using that, information gathering in this city full of influential people was easy.
“Alright, tell me more about that noble’s territory.”
“It’s located about a hundred kilometers from here. It has about three villages whose main industry is agriculture, but those villages are rather far from the territory’s two prosperous cities. Either city is about a day’s ride on a carriage from any of the villages.”
“I see. Building a city there doesn’t seem bad then. And, this noble, how much of a fool is he?”
At this point in time and with these conditions, it was as if the world itself was telling me to build a city there.
“He’s a womanizing gambler. As you’d expect from that, he’s deep in debt. He borrowed large amounts of money with full intentions on skipping the payment, but unfortunately for him, the big-time merchants he borrowed from have backing from nobles of considerably more power than him.”
“The typical noble, huh.”
A lot of nobles fancied themselves to be special humans. And because they were special, they believed they could avoid paying their debts, no matter how much it was.
However, merchants were no fools. Before they would lend money to such people, they would first make sure they had a backer that could force the noble to pay up. Moreover, merchants tended to avoid lending out an amount that exceeded the noble’s total assets. The word collateral might not be used in the transaction, but it might as well be.
Back in my city of Avalon, I was often used as a backer, so I was quite familiar with such deals.
“It only gets better from there. Instead of selling items in his collection to pay off the debts, he chose to raise the taxes of his subjects to absurd degrees. As a result, many of his subjects have died of starvation. Some, in order for them and their loved ones to survive, sold themselves into slavery. It didn’t take long for some to have enough and revolt. So, now that his income has plummeted to almost the point of nonexistence, he can’t even pay the interest on his loans anymore.”
“Splendid. That’ll give my city a great start.”
The people who choose to remain despite the hellish conditions of the land either had some kind of dire circumstance that forces them to stay; or firmly believe they would just experience the same fate if they moved out, or simply was too scared to try moving out.
Whichever the case, it made them easier to acquire and keep if I proceeded with building a city within that territory.
“I think I know enough about that land. Thanks, Ciel.”
“I’ve gathered and analyzed a lot more information from those merchants and nobles, you know. Go ahead and ask me anything pyufufu.”
Ciel was a great monster. Her tendency to be carried away aside.
“I think that’s enough information gathering as well as shopping for now. Let’s go pick up Cumin and Ahri, do a bit of prep, and then go to that noble’s territory, shall we?”
Baron Tutyre Farunde, a noble of the Arnburg Dukedom, isolated himself within his estate. Meanwhile, his private army were patrolling within the property. There was no way of knowing when the peasants would mount an attack, after all.
“…not enough. Still not enough for this month’s dues.”
The baron didn’t have enough money nor could he find a way to gain more in time.
Without any intentions of paying it back, he took on a high-interest-rate loan from a merchant. Unfortunately for the baron, that merchant was actually backed by Marquis Coltinara who in turn had ties with the royal family.
So, if he wanted to continue living, he had no choice but to pay back the merchant. That said, even the interest has become an exorbitant amount, so just making a dent on the principal amount was already an impossibility.
To make matters worse, his income has now plummeted.
The population within his territory was at less than half of what it was before all this mess, so the maximum tax yields were also halved. However, the actual amounts were nowhere close to that maximum.
Because the population has been subjected to the absurd taxes for so long, they were already wrung dry. Farmers tried so much to meet the tax imposed on them, they now didn’t even have enough seeds to plant.
Given that, even though he didn’t want to, the baron decided to start selling items in his collection. Still, there were things he wouldn’t part with if possible. One such item was the goddess statue that was on his desk.
This statue was decorated with several magic stones that resembled rubies.
The baron was greatly enamored with this statue. If he ever parted with it, he was sure that he would never get it back.
“How, how could this happen to me. Waaa, help me, please, anyone, even the devil, come help me”
Escaping from the marquis was impossible. And if his only way out was to sell even the goddess statue, that life didn’t seem worth living for him.
At this point, he would accept any help he could get. Even those from the devil himself.
While thinking about that, the door suddenly opened.
On the other side was a dark-clothed man and a blue-haired girl.
They looked young and feeble, but the aura they gave off suggested they were both battle-hardened individuals. From the baron’s experience of dealing with other nobles, he could at least tell when the other person was someone he needed to be wary of.
“Who are you people? How did you get in here? Guards, guards! Where the hell are you!!?”
“Pyufufufu. That many isn’t enough stop me. Didn’t even break a sweat!”
The girl said so and then laughed.
She seemed like a delicate girl, but she sent down chills down the baron’s spine. His every instinct was yelling. She’s not human, it said.
That was pretty much the feeling he got from the dark-clad young man as well.
If one of them claimed to be the actual devil, he wouldn’t doubt the claim.
“Come now, Ciel, you’re scaring him. Baron Tutyre Farunde, I presume? I have come to save you. I will take on all of your debts as well as your title of baron, your lands, your people, and everything else you have. Meanwhile, you shall have a new name, a new life, and enough money to enjoy that life. Let go of the things that only drag you down and take this chance to live a carefree life with your beloved goddess.”
The young man said so and then presented a large bag full of money as well as a stack of papers.
The baron had no idea how the young man obtained these papers, especially the official documents that bore the royal family’s seal. Most of these official documents were for adoption as well as for transferring one’s entire titles, assets, and liabilities.
There were also less prestigious documents. These included family registry of someone living in another country, the deed of ownership of a seemingly pleasant estate, and the profiles of the servants of that estate.
Seeing all of these things, the baron understood fully what the deal being offered to him was. This young man might actually be the devil himself, but the baron was completely fine with that.
“Finally, I can be free of this mess! I can be happy again!”
He was very much looking forward to his new life. As long as he had his goddess and some money, he didn’t care about losing the name and land that has caused him much misery.
And so, without any second thoughts, the baron signed all that needed to be signed, grabbed what remained of his treasures and money, and boarded the extravagant two-horse carriage the young man prepared. The carriage then ran like the wind as it disappeared into the dark night.
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