Through Duke’s report, I learned of the anti-Procell alliance’s attack on Avalon while I was away.
Less than 30 minutes after they entered the dungeon room that specialized in defense and stalling, the attacking monsters were confiscated by the Creator as punishment for breaking the rule protecting us new Demon Lords.
What a harsh penalty. Really drives home how careful I must be to not break any rules, no matter how trivial it might seem.
Belial, who was beside me while I listened to Duke’s report, suddenly stood up.
Shock was apparent on his face. However, just earlier and just for a moment, his face was this inexplicable combination of irritation and joy.
“What, how!? I’m certain, that to protect me, you had to attack the other Demon Lords and thus forfeit the protection rule. So, how is it that they are being penalized for breaking that rule!?”
If this was the only reaction I saw, I would not hesitate in saying that he was caught in my trap and was nothing but a traitor.
“Well, couldn’t it be that the ones that attacked you and the ones that attacked Avalon are different Demon Lords? Or maybe, they attacked me before I attacked them.”
“But that’s impossible!”
“Why? Do you have any proof that those scenarios are impossible?”
“…it’s obvious if you think about it. Given the timing of it all, the Demon Lords that attacked me must be the ones that attacked Avalon. Moreover, based on how things unfolded, it’s now obvious that they only attacked me so that they can lure you out. I regret only realizing this when I heard Avalon was being attacked. What a fool I am. I formed an alliance with you so that I can help you realize your potential, but here I am, holding you back instead.”
Should I tell him? Oh, what the hell, let’s.
“When you asked for my help, I already suspected that their goal was to gain the justification to attack me. So, I prepared a trap that’ll let them think they’ve gained that justification. And that trap was the three knights.”
“What do you mean? They’re your golems, so they’re treated as your equipment; their actions are considered to be yours. Golems obey only the orders given by the owner, so if you gave them to someone else, they won’t listen to you. You might think that the new owner can just order the golems to listen to your commands, but that won’t work either because that’s too complicated of a command for golems.”
Belial’s points were correct.
To be a bit more precise, golems were treated as a monster’s equipment. As such, the experience points from the enemies they kill goes to the party of that monster. More importantly though, whatever their actions were, the monster was held accountable. Of course, this meant that the Demon Lord who had control over the said monster was also held accountable.
When and only when a Demon Lord had ownership over a golem could they command it, and even then, the commands couldn’t be anything complicated.
However, the three knights were no ordinary golems.
“No one is commanding the three knights. They’re no mere dolls. These children possess the ability to think and feel. They’re alive. What’s more, they’re incredibly loyal. I released them from our contract, and yet they’re still willing to cooperate with me.”
This trap wouldn’t have been possible using ordinary golems. It was only thanks to the knights’ miraculous ability to think and feel—to be alive—that we were able to surprise the enemies.
I could have transferred the ownership of the ordinary golems to Marcho, sure, but then a magic link between them would be formed. The presence of another’s magic power on them was such a great risk. So much so that I chose instead to believe that the three knights would remain loyal even when I relinquish my ownership of them.
“I-impressive. I never knew such a tactic existed.”
“I doubt learning of it is much use though. For one, this could only be done with the thinking and feeling three knights.”
Believing in the knights’ loyalty was the safer bet, but it was still a gamble.
It was only thanks to Rorono’s words that I felt confident about it: For the three knights, master’s their beloved father. And I their mother. They will never betray us.
“You know, using this method, you can attack older Demon Lords without worrying of being attacked back.”
“I don’t think I’ll be able to. The Creator is likely to ban this method soon. Maybe immediately after this affair, even. From I what I can tell, that fellow dislikes one-sided situations because they’re less fun to watch.”
A perfect example was when older Demon Lords gave [Steel], [Viscosity], and [Evil] some monsters. Not long after my [War] with them, an additional rule banning even non-guardian older Demon Lords from giving, without anything in return, monsters to new Demon Lords.
Things should progress similarly this time as well.
At least I was able to use it once, I guess.
“Oh, okay. But still, it’s so amazing. Your clever scheme managed to take down a whole lot of them. I have nothing but praise!”
“That was just a bonus. I had no idea the penalty would be this harsh. …my plan’s real goal was something else.”
Thankfully, this harsh and unforeseen punishment didn’t interfere with my real goal, thus allowing us to safely carry it out.
“Could you share with me this real goal?”
“To identify the enemy Demon Lords. As stated in the report, the enemy side that attacked Avalon had a lot of A rank monsters. It might be easy to hide one’s identity by using only small fries, but A rank monsters are different. They represent their Demon Lord. Moreover, devices which could capture events as moving visual images are installed and are active in Avalon, so even if some of Demon Lords might seem tricky to identify at first, we’ll should be able to eventually after repeated watching of the recordings.”
It was for this reason that we allowed Avalon to be attacked.
I have had enough of not knowing who my enemies were.
If I attacked them now that their elites were gone, crushing them would be easy. They would have their hands full trying to protect themselves that they should have a hard time backing each other up.
But if nothing else, this whole event was a great experiment to show how useful my newly made defense-focused floor was. In the span of 30 minutes and against a thousand enemy monsters, none of my monsters was killed or injured. Considering such a great result, it might be viable to transfer some of the monsters assigned to our defense force over to the attacking force. I’m so excited to get back and see the detailed report on the effectiveness of the defensive floor.
“Using the enemies’ trap to identify them and, at the same time, lessen their numbers… Procell-sama, just how far ahead do you think? I’ve clearly got a lot to learn from you!”
Right then, the Demi Lilith returned to the crystal room along with the three knights. So, all the enemies are gone, I take it.
I stood up and went to them.
“I thank you, my knights. It is because of the three of you that this plan worked. I am proud of you. …now, will you once again serve me?”
In response to my question, each of the knights bowed.
I proceeded to form a contract with them, and thus became their master once again.
They might be technically machines, but they’re unmistakably very important members of Avalon.
“Procell-sama, that device that, as you said, captures events as moving visual images, did you use it here in my dungeon? I mean, if you did, I’d very much like to see your golems in action again!”
“I was not able to. The recording device, you see, is just too big. It would have been a great hassle to bring it here. I might not have made it here in time if tried.”
That was a massive lie.
In fact, I was using the camera in my breast pocket to record what his crystal was displaying. Furthermore, in order to collect combat data, one was installed in each of the knights.
I felt no need or inclination to disclose such things to Belial right now, though. At least, not until I have returned to Avalon and thoroughly analyzed all the footage we have obtained.
The recording of the attack on Avalon should be enough for us to identify the Demon Lords involved. I had a reason to analyze the footage captured in Belial’s dungeon though: to see if he made his monsters slip into the enemy army.
If Belial was an enemy, much like the other Demon Lords, he would have wanted at least one of his monsters be attacked by the knights so that he as well could gain enough justification to ignore the rule.
Of course, it was a melee, so his monsters could simply have been caught in the line of fire. But if we see that those monsters deliberately get in the line of fire, the hesitation in branding him a traitor would banish.
“Oh. I expected as much. I mean, such a fantastic magic tool has to be big, right? Still, it’s a shame we can’t rewatch your gallant golems in action.”
“Don’t be, don’t be.”
Belial did not push the subject further.
“Anyway, Procell-sama, it seems like all the fighting’s over. At least, for now. So, what do you say to a celebration? Well, I say that, but my dungeon is not really the place for one. So, how about we go to your Avalon and celebrate there? I’ll cover the cost, of course! Ohh, and before I forget, let me return the Darkness Dragons you lent me.”
“If you insist.”
I said so and smiled wryly.
Belial has done nothing definitively, conclusively wrong today. If the footages of the attack on Avalon or of the battle on his dungeon reveals that his monsters didn’t do anything strange, then perhaps I could learn to trust him.
Whichever the case, it was time to go back to Avalon.
And so, I asked Tiro to activate the Transfer array she set up earlier.
Belial called out my name, so I turned around.
He looked like he was about to say something, but then swallowed the words before they ever come out of his mouth. In the next moment, he was smiling thinly.
“Meat or fish, which do you prefer?”
Noting to myself that this probably wasn’t what he wanted to say initially, I replied with meat.
…and then, I set up my last trap for the day.
Demon Lords as well as humans were rightfully fearful of information leakage. Against magic and monster abilities, Demon Lords could protect themselves to an almost perfect degree.
And yet, they were still vulnerable to technological espionage. Well, no one else but me can make them, so it’ll be stranger if they’re aware of them, and stranger still if they knew how to guard against it.
The trap in question was placing two small listening devices here in Belial’s crystal room.
They were small, but each one’s power could last up to 3 months.
Once an opportunity or excuse comes up, I would return to this crystal room and pick up these devices.
With that, all of my goals today have been accomplished.
Things were bound to get busy again tomorrow, but for today, we should celebrate Belial’s safety as well as our victory.
TL note: Yeah, the author changed the duration of the attack on Avalon from 15min to 30min. It’s such a small thing, I just don’t want to be called out.
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