Morning came. This day was the day of my meeting with the other new Demon Lord.
Lying on my bed, I opened my eyes and felt something warm on both my arms.
“…Oto-san, another cup…”
“…Master, brush my head…”
Hugging my right arm was the fox-eared beautiful girl Kuina and purring softly as she embraced my left arm was the silver-haired dwarf Rorono.
Both were wearing thin nightwears.
Kuina wasn’t just coiled in my right arm, her tail was wrapping around my leg too. It had such a soft feel to it.
I was using a king-sized bed so sleeping together with everyone was no bother.
The girls, soft and good smelling, were the world’s best hug pillows. I who was riddled with numerous worries was healed.
Ancient Elf was sleeping peacefully besides Kuina, by the way. Our sleeping arrangement each night was decided by way of rotation. Each night, the ones on my sides would change and it was only by chance that it was the two today.
I looked at my beloved girls’ sleeping faces and gently—so as to not wake them—brushed their heads. I once more I thought that I had to protect these girls and their happiness.
After eating breakfast, we made use of a pair of transfer arrays to go to an abandoned house in the slums of Eclaba city. Humans rarely came here so I figured that it was safe to lay down a transfer array here. After all, it was convenient in various ways to be able to directly move to the city.
“Kuina, you don’t have to be so vigilant like that.”
“No, today, Kuina is Oto-san’s guard and I can’t let my guard down. Even if the Demon Lords and their followers are forbidden to hurt one another, there’re a countless loopholes to that!”
What she said was certainly true.
For example, one could summon wild and rabid monsters and just relinquish his control over it. By doing so, those monsters were no longer treated as his followers and even if those same monsters ran amok and fought an enemy Demon Lord, the Demon Lord that summoned them would not be at fault.
Additionally, one could hire powerful humans and make them attack the enemy.
I had just thought of it but evidently, there really were a lot of loopholes to the rule.
Truth be told, Rorono and Ancient Elf also wanted to come but I instead asked them to stay and take care of things while I was gone.
There was also the possibility that the other Demon Lords had something planned and thus I wanted to reserve the majority of my fighting force to the city. And of course, there was the fact that the girls had their own jobs to do.
I brought Kuina along since guarding me had been her role all along.
She was highly versatile: from doing intelligence gathering—by making use of [Transform]—to head-on confrontations. Whenever going out of the city, Kuina was the best choice to act as my guard.
“Alright, I’ll be relying on you then.”
“Sure, I won’t let them lay even a finger on Oto-san!”
Thus, Kuina became even more pumped.
I smiled at her and then proceeded to head to the café that was the designated meeting place.
With the aroma of good coffee drifting through the air, the specified café seemed like an extremely high-class store despite coffee being a luxury in this city.
When I approached, a light-brown-haired young man on a terrace seat waved his hand.
He fashioned a stylish jacket from which I could feel magic power similar to my Demon Lord clothes, convincing me beyond doubt that this man was the Demon Lord that invited me here.
Nevertheless, he certainly had adapted to the city. I had heard from Marcho that there were many Demon Lords that were fond of indulging themselves in amusement mainly intended for humans but he blending right in in the city must be a special case altogether.
“Hey, glad you came. I’m the [Steel] Demon Lord, Zagan.”
“I’m the [Creation] Demon Lord, Procell. May I ask why you’ve invited me here?”
Unintentionally, I didn’t have the chance to make his acquaintance on the [Evening Party] so we first introduced ourselves.
According to the intelligence I had gathered, I had a rough idea on the ranks of the medals of the Demon Lords in my generation and I knew that his [Steel] was a B rank medal.
In a straightforward fight, there was little to no chance for me to lose against him.
“We met for only one purpose: to discuss [War]. Let me say this beforehand though: I am allied with two other Demon Lords. In short, the three of us are ready to [War].”
Is this the source of his confidence, I thought.
If they were to challenge me despite knowing of my strength based on the exhibition on the [Evening Party], they needed to at least be this prepared.
“You’re not surprised?”
“I have anticipated this much. So, did you come here today to use your superior numbers as a shield from me? Or do the three of you perhaps intend to declare [War] on me here and now?”
For his sake, I hoped Zagan understood that if they were to indeed go to [War] against me, even if their alliance won, their losses would be too great.
Considering that, it was then fully understandable if he made use of the might of their alliance as a shield to avoid [War] altogether.
“Pfft, ahahahaha! You really are something. Such confidence despite it all. But then again, if you were disturbed by this, negotiations would have easily broken down.”
[Steel] Demon Lord Zagan distorted his handsome face with a smile.
“[Creation] Demon Lord Procell, you’re strong. So strong that even against three Demon Lords, you still feel like you have a chance to win. A chance, but not a certainty… on the contrary, don’t you feel like the odds are stack against you? Anyway though, personally, if against you as the opponent, I need to be prepared to suffer some loss, something I would like to avoid if at all possible.”
“I wonder. Well, let me just say that I think even against a single enemy, you can never truly be certain you will be the one to win.”
I knew I mustn’t let my pride get the better of me for I still had no idea where he would spring his trap.
“That’s a good mindset, isn’t it? But what if I told you there is a sure way to gain victory?”
“And that is?”
I grew even more suspicious. He was talking to me as if I no longer was an enemy but rather an ally.
“The two I am allied with, I told them I should first talk to you and convince you to surrender. If in case you didn’t accept, they will declare [War] on you immediately. They’re prepared to transfer here at a moment’s notice. So just to be safe, will you surrender?”
Well, I’ve expected as much from three people teaming up.
“I have no intention whatsoever.”
“Seems about right. Then, my only choice now is to call the other two, isn’t it? But then again… after the two had declared [War] on you, I’m thinking I could declare [War] not on you but on the other two.”
I was a little surprised but then, I understood what this guy was suggesting.
“It would become a two on two rather than a three on one, right? This way, there’s hardly any chance for us to lose. After all, the other two are weaker than you… and I put together. It’s all but certain. Also, like this, we both would be able to clear the condition to break the crystals of other Demon Lords. On top of not needing to participate in another [War], we can also gain new medals.”
“But why would you do such a thing?”
“Because it’s much more profitable for me. We were afraid you, the strongest of our generation, would wage [War] on us so that’s why we came up with this plan but even if the three of us did defeat you, only one of us will be able to break your crystal. The other two will still have to go to war.”
I wasn’t aware of that rule. I knew only of when the victory conditions, like breaking the crystal, were met. If it truly were so, then his words made sense.
“Rather than fight a formidable enemy such as yourself wherein I would undoubtedly lose numerous monsters, I would much prefer to ally with you and defeat a weak enemy. Even you must see that this is much, much better than fighting us three. As a precaution for me though, I would like you to promise that you will not go to [War] against me, at least for a duration of a year.”
Such was [Steel] Demon Lord Zagan’s proposal. To be honest, I was surprised he went with a third option rather than the two I had thought up.
It was perfectly reasonable too. I had no doubts I would profit should I side with him.
Confident I would say yes to his proposal, Zagan kept smiling.
“I see, I get it. Then, [Steel] Demon Lord Zagan, about your proposal,”
Thinking of only the profits to be gained, I had no reason to refuse it but……
I was completely against it.
I didn’t know if it was because he was so surprised but Zagan was wide-eyed.
He was surprised even though it was obvious there was completely no way for me to accept his deal, all because of one glaring detail he overlooked.
And so, I decided to begin the real negotiations.