Some time has passed since Belial truly became an ally.
And a lot has happened during that time.
I had found someone to use [Rank Up] on, thus adding another member to my upper brass. Deciding on whom to use it on was a real conundrum for me and it might have continued being so until the skill’s deadline had he not volunteered himself for it.
He already was a reliable monster before, but ever since he became an S rank monster, he became even more helpful to me and my other monsters. According to him, he was deliberately holding himself back out of a sense of loyalty to that person, but he now didn’t have to fulfill such obligations anymore.
In the truest sense, he has become my monster.
Avalon also continued to grow during that span of time.
Last month, we held a grand harvest festival.
Seeing the citizens be overcome with great joy from the plentiful and high-quality crops they harvested from the lands blessed by the elves, I thought a celebration was in order.
When the merchants heard we were throwing a celebration, they immediately began thinking up of every possible scheme to earn profit. They even advertised the event to every corner of the world, hoping to lure in all sorts of people to come. Thanks to their efforts, the harvest festival became so much bigger of an event than I imagined.
Needless to say, it was a fun day.
After the festival, we introduced the use of paper money. Silver and gold coins were cumbersome and were thus inconvenient. By my estimate, the use of paper money should provide a noticeable boost in the city’s commerce.
We were still in the middle of laying the groundwork at the moment, but we expect it to be in circulation as soon as next month.
Of course, it wasn’t just me that has been working hard.
The other day, through a series of unforeseen events, Stolas found herself in a fight with another Demon Lord. She and her monsters fought this enemy by themselves and won. According to her, Enlil played a large role in the fight, but he wasn’t the only one: Phobos the Pegasus who had become stronger thanks to [Rebirth] also contributed a lot to get them that victory.
Furthermore, she had at last completely inherited Astaroth’s elite dragon army. It could be said that at the moment, she and I were tied for being the strongest among young Demon Lords.
As for Belial, as soon as he returned to his dungeon, he made an S rank monster through my [Creation] medal. The one he made was also a very powerful fallen angel. That monster was pretty much the exact opposite of my Fallen Angel Raphael, but the two of them strangely got along well. They quickly became close friends who would visit each other, hang out together, and even raise their levels together.
The new monster also allowed him to buy the Maelstrom for its corresponding B rank monster. So, Belial, who was already strong, got even stronger.
There was also Ronove to talk about.
After a lot of trial and error, his frog-shaped cakes got even more delicious, resulting in even more humans visiting Avalon just to try them out. Apparently, offers to open branch stores outside of Avalon had always been there, but he turns each of them down. According to him, he wanted his cakes to be eaten only here. I couldn’t help but be happy at that sentiment.
Of course, he was also giving his all as a Demon Lord. After a ridiculous amount of research, he finished his plans for his new dungeon. Because some of the dungeon rooms he designed needed an additional touch that couldn’t be accomplished through his crystal, we made a deal wherein I would be providing him with materials such as metals, as well as some workforce in the form of golems. I could have given it to him for free, but because he said he couldn’t accept charity, I wound up agreeing to being paid with some of the money he gained from the frog-shaped cakes.
Additionally, the members of the Procell faction had agreed to give each other our medals. Obviously, without a crystal, Ronove couldn’t produce medals and would have to give his share later. At any rate, as soon as he gets another crystal, he was going to make a monster using the [Creation], [Despair], and [Wind] medals and have that certainly powerful monster be the proof of his friendship to us. The part that he wouldn’t use his own [Viscosity] to make the new monster speaks volumes to what kind of Demon Lord he was: one who prioritized others before himself.
And then, there was the event today…
“Procell, I’m ready.”
“Alright, follow me.”
Stolas came to Avalon to get a custom-made dress. After she finished changing into that dress, we relocated to the dome in the residential area. Within the dome, a Darkness Dragon was waiting for us.
And so, Stolas and I mounted the dragon.
“Hold on tight, okay?”
“Okay. …Procell, did, did your shoulders get a bit broader?”
“Hmm? I don’t think so.”
“Oh? I just feel like you’ve grown a little more…dependable.”
The dress Stolas was wearing was an unrevealing black dress.
It was a mourning dress.
Of course, I too was wearing a mourning attire.
Today…today was the day Demon Lords born 300 years ago would vanish. Today, most Demon Lords would visit those dying Demon Lords to say farewell as well as thanks for all the help they had provided one last time.
Stolas and I were going to visit [Dragon] Demon Lord Astaroth, but Belial and Ronove were going to visit different ones.
The Darkness Dragon we mounted then flapped its wings and took off.
I noticed that the hand she placed on my shoulder for support was trembling, so I decided to place my own hand on top of it.
“Thank you, Procell.”
“…no need for thanks. I just thought it’s better like this.”
The Darkness Dragon continued flying under the starry night sky.
After a while, we arrived at the [Dragon] Demon Lord’s dungeon.
Usually, it was a dungeon full of adventurers, but today, it was deserted.
Which shouldn’t be so surprising given that Caesar the Emperor Dragon, Astaroth’s strongest monster, was on standby at the entrance of the dungeon. The only people he was letting pass were those who had close ties to his lord.
After Caesar let us through, another monster was waiting within the dungeon to guide us to the reception hall.
Even though I was not familiar with most of them, there were so many other Demon Lords in the reception hall. Astaroth, one of the three strongest Demon Lords, was truly beloved by many.
Marcho and Dan, the other two of the three strongest Demon Lords, also had many Demon Lords indebted to them. Apparently, those other Demon Lords had contacted the two to confirm their attendance to the two’s funerals.
It was only yesterday that the two officially announced that their lifespans have been increased, thus eliminating the need for such events. As one could imagine, there was much uproar over the announcement. To drag it out until the last minute, it was so like them.
“…uhm, Procell, this was not at all what I expected.”
It was being called a funeral, so I expected the event to be quiet, peaceful, and solemn. Like how funerals tended to be. However, the scene before us was of revelry and commotion.
Stolas and I, who were in our mourning attires, felt terribly out of place.
The one participating in revelry more than the others was [Dragon] Demon Lord Astaroth himself. He was surrounded by a crowd who, like him, were laughing and drinking.
Just when I thought that cutting through such a crowd would be quite difficult, I heard a noise from behind.
And when I looked, Marcho and Dan were there.
“Procell, Stolas, what are you two wearing? You’re ruining the celebratory mood, come on.”
“Marcho, don’t chastise Procell too much. His education, after all, is your responsibility. …Procell, Stolas, listen to me. It may vary from Demon Lord to Demon Lord, but most would prefer their last moments to be a grand celebration. I hope you two remember this for the next time.”
The two of them were wearing their usual clothes.
…or to be more accurate: the two of them were deliberately wearing their usual clothes.
When they advanced toward the crowd, the crowd noticed and gave way. Marcho and Dan truly were extraordinary.
And so, Stolas and I followed behind the two until we reached Astaroth.
“Ohh. Marcho, Dan, I’m so glad you guys came. But geez. I’m not saying you two should go as well, but we were supposed to be in this together. Geez.”
“Ahahaha, well, blame Procell! If he hadn’t bawled and begged ‘Marcho, don’t leave me’, you know I wouldn’t have changed my mind about going. But, hey Ast, when you’re on the other side, say hello to him for me, okay? Anyway, let’s party! Let’s go drink a lifetime’s worth!”
“That’s been the plan all along!”
Marcho and Ast laughed together and then clinked each other’s cup.
In stark contrast, Dan’s facial expression was awfully serious.
“Ast, I can still use my [Time] to…”
“I thought I’ve told you I don’t want it. I’ve lived my life as a Demon Lord the way I saw proper, and now I want its end to go the way I think proper as well. I want my last moments to be filled with laughter. And after I’m gone, I don’t want anyone to shed a tear, only smiles and laughs. I hope you won’t deny me of this.”
“What a stupid thing to ask, huh.”
“You’re telling me. Now, why don’t you drink, make merry, and send me off with a smile?”
Before a shadow could pass over his face, Ast laughed with a kakaka.
And so, their arms over each other’s shoulders, Dan and Ast drank straight from the bottle.
When the bottles were empty, which didn’t take long at all, Stolas took a step forward.
“Astaroth-sama, your child, Stolas, is here.”
“Oh, Stolas, my beloved child! I am so happy that you are the one given to me to raise.”
“I’m glad you’re the one that has raised me as well. Had I not been born to you, I know I wouldn’t grow to be this strong, educated, and prepared.”
Stolas and Astaroth looked each other straight in the eye.
Impressively, even after Stolas said such things, Ast was able to resist becoming melancholic.
In the next moment though, Ast hugged Stolas.
“Yes, you are indeed strong, Stolas. I know you’ll do fine even when I’m gone. And so, I ask you take care of the rest.”
The other Demon Lords who knew the weight of those words gasped when they heard Ast say it. And those who haven’t done so already then committed Stolas’s name to memory.
“Yes, count on me. I will succeed you.”
They ended their long embrace and look at one another again. Stolas then made such a beautiful smile.
Their bond was absolutely admirable.
In the next moment, Ast gave a resolute nod and then clapped his hands to gather the attention of the others.
As though the clap was some kind of cue, dragonewt-type monsters flowed into the room, and poured alcohol to the Demon Lords’ cups in almost an instant.
Meanwhile, Ast led Stolas by the hand and climbed up to a stage.
“Everyone, I’d like to thank you all for coming to send me off. Today, let us eat, drink, and make merry as much as we can! And I hope you continue to do so even after.”
Ast loudly announced so.
“I’d also like to introduce someone very dear to me to all of you. This here is my ward, my child, Stolas.”
Everyone’s attention was then diverted to Stolas.
While all the other Demon Lords tensed up, Stolas gracefully bowed.
“She is still a young Demon Lord, but her talents and strength are something to marvel. Moreover, by defeating my very own Caesar, her dragon Enlil became a [Dragon Emperor]. And then, she herself has gained the recognition of my dragons. For those reasons, I have come to the conclusion to bestow her my [Dragon] dungeon.”
In front of all these famous Demon Lords, Ast proudly declared Stolas as his successor.
Normally, such was too heavy of a responsibility for a one-year-old Demon Lord. After all, not everyone would accept such a decision. Some might harass or even attack the said young Demon Lord.
However, considering that it was Stolas, I was confident she would handle it just fine. And in the case that the challenge was too much for her alone, us as her friends and allies were more than willing to lend a hand.
“That is all I have to say about that. Now then, let’s go back to that partying!”
Not accepting any questions or complaints on the matter, Ast and Stolas climbed down and was once again surrounded.
The party continued… until the end finally came.
Blue particles began leaking out of Ast. It was exactly like when a monster was dying.
For being one of strongest Demon Lords, his final moments were a bit too short. But then again, no amount of time would probably be enough.
Needless to say, everyone’s attention was on him.
“I see, I see. So, this is how it ends…? Ahh, what a fun life it was”
With a smile that lasted until the very end, he waved at us and then disappeared.
Just like he declared, he did complete his 300-year life with a smile.
The silence in the reception hall was deafening.
“It’s so strange, isn’t it, Procell? I decided I won’t shed a single tear, but… I’ve always known Astaroth-sama’s going to pass away, but… I’ve prepared my heart for this moment, but… but why, why are these tears here… why…”
Seeing the tears in her eyes, I decided to embrace her.
“That’s only natural. You’ve endured until Ast was gone, but it’s alright now. If you want to cry, go ahead and cry. But sorry, we don’t have much time.”
“Yeah, I understand. Just give me a minute and I’ll be fine.”
Her head buried in my chest, Stolas forced out a reply.
It was unfortunate, but we had a big task to do.
This task was entrusted to four individuals: myself, Stolas, Marcho, and Dan. And the one that gave it to us was none other than Ast himself.
In other words, it was his last wish.
It wasn’t long before some of Ast’s monsters picked us up and relocated us to his crystal room via Transfer.
What we’re supposed to do from here on was to defend the dungeon.
Even though those that remained of Ast’s monsters were strong, they had just lost their Demon Lord, meaning that for today, at the very least, they would not be at optimal capacity.
Moreover, if some of the Demon Lords that attended the party earlier wanted to break Ast’s crystal and gain his powers, Ast’s monsters would be in grave trouble by themselves. After all, the reception hall the party took place in was in a deep part of the dungeon and was therefore close to the crystal room.
Ast didn’t mind if his dungeon was destroyed after he was gone, but what forced him to ask this of us was his concern for his monsters who chose to continue living but also didn’t want to serve another master.
At the moment, we were watching the events happening within the dungeon through the crystal. We were particularly observing the Demon Lords who took immediate action.
They had taken out monsters from their [Storage], and either immediately began going for the crystal or made Transfer arrays to call for reinforcements.
“Stolas, let’s do this as flashily as we can.”
“Yes. So flashy, it will reach Astaroth-sama.”
We also called out the monsters in our [Storage].
For me, it was Kuina, Aura, Duke, and Ruhe.
For Stolas, it was Enlil, Rozelitte, Masamune, and Phobos.
We had decided to keep them in our [Storage] instead of attending the party so that the other Demon Lords wouldn’t have a chance to analyze them beforehand.
After we had told them of our battle plans, we sent them out.
We also instructed them to cooperate with Ast’s monsters and fight as flashily as possible, enough to be a good offering for Ast.
At around sunrise the next day, we were able to drive away the last of the Demon Lords who aimed for Ast’s powers.
When we realized it was over, Stolas and I high-fived.
Throughout the ordeal, Stolas was at the head of the chain of command rather Marcho or Dan who were both more experienced than her. This was, after all, the duty of the one who has inherited the [Dragon] dungeon.
That said, Ast’s monsters were expected to defend themselves from now on, with only occasional visits from Stolas to check up on them.
After a light meal, I decided to take a nap. But then, I heard a voice in my head and quickly woke up.
It seemed like it woke Stolas up as well.
<<Celestial Children. The day for the new Celestial Children to leave their nests has finally come. Already, they could shine with their own light. At this point, giving them special treatment would only serve to hold them back from shining brighter. And so, I hereby announce that they have official graduated from being new Demon Lords.>>
It was the Creator’s voice.
In an indirect way, he said these two things: the rule protecting us new Demon Lords was no more, alongside with the guarantee that our crystals would be replaced. In fact, right after the Creator said that, I felt something around my body vanished.
<<I also have unpleasant news to share with you all. The giant stars that illuminated your path have fallen. However, there is no time grieve, my Celestial Children, for you must ascend and be the new lead actors. I believe that you will shine even brighter than your fallen brethren. Now, let us begin the [Evening Party]. Those aspiring to be the new lead actors, make yourselves known!>>
A floating sensation enveloped my body.
This was the clearest sign that the [Evening Party] has begun. Now that most of the oldest of Demon Lords has passed away, the hierarchy among Demon Lords has been reset. Much like what the Creator said, how one would conduct themselves in this [Evening Party] was crucial in securing their spot at the top.
“Stolas, let’s go. To our first great endeavor as adult Demon Lords.”
“Yes, let’s go. Together.”
Holding the other’s hand tight, Stolas and I were enveloped by light and Transferred away.
Out time as children and being protected was over.
The rule protecting us was gone, and we can’t rely on our guardian Demon Lords any longer.
I was anxious, I must admit, but more than that, I was excited.
We had tirelessly prepared for this day. If we just do as we planned, everything should go as smoothly as possible.
When the Transfer ended, we were once more in front of the gorgeously decorated Demon Lord Palace.
From here on, it’s our turn on the limelight.
I thought so and took the first step.
TL: Thanks everyone for reading all the way through. And yes, I am going to be working on the sequel.
Please consider supporting me. You can do this either by turning off adblock for this blog or via my Patreon page. Thank you.