“Oto-san, big news! Lots of strange humans came. They’re demanding the highest official in the city to meet them. They’re now being handled by the Mythological Foxes.”
When I was doing paperwork as per usual, Kuina came bursting in.
This was a day she was supposed to be helping the Mythological Foxes to tend the store.
“Is that so? It seems they’re right on schedule.”
The lord of the neighboring city had sent us a letter which said they were willing to protect our city of Avalon. In name, maybe, but in practice, they were aiming to rule over us. Their first move was the dispatch of this investigative unit.
“Thanks. Shall we go meet them?”
“The ones that came, are they Oto-san’s enemies?”
“Yeah, they are.”
Her face became serious as she tightly grabbed onto my sleeve.
“Today, I’m going to stay real close to you, Oto-san, always.”
“Yes, please. It’s reassuring to be with Kuina, the strongest monster.”
She exclaimed so and then triumphantly smiled.
Unlike Rorono and Aura who were both mainly for domestic duties, Kuina was geared toward battle.
There might be monsters stronger than her but the chances of them appearing were probably low.
There was no one I would entrust my safety more than I do with Kuina.
“You have to promise me one thing though. Unless I say so, don’t attack…except when an attack is capable of killing me.”
Like that, we left our home.
Along the way, we joined with Wight who was at the inn.
I had much need for his negotiation skills.
“Wight, I ask that you support me in the negotiations.”
“Though my skills might not be much, I will do everything I can to be of help, my lord.”
It was reassuring to have him around.
Taking the opportunity, I told him something I had in mind.
“To tell the truth, I was thinking of naming you but with our present circumstances, I can’t afford to lose the use of [Creation]. So, sorry but wait a bit longer.”
Originally, I was supposed to give him a name after the last war but decided to postpone it.
Unlike the naming for a [Monster of the Covenant] where the souls of the Demon Lord and a monster were joined to improve the both of them, regular naming gave magic power beyond what the Demon Lord had to the monster and thus enhancing that monster. The drawback to this process was harsh: the inability of the Demon Lord to recover his magic power for half a month, essentially weakening him.
For that reason, naming shouldn’t be done when a potential enemy was right on the horizon.
If I were to name Wight now, the chances of me getting killed would increase drastically. And, without [Creation], Avalon’s growth and our acquisition of fighting force would slow down.
“Just hearing you say that fills me with joy. I’ll wait for it at the end of this difficulty, then. Also, if possible, can you give me a stylish name, my lord?”
Wight smiled and I smiled back.
“Yeah, I promise. A name fitting for you who became a dragonewt. So for that to happen, we must deal with this troublesome ordeal as soon as possible.”
“Yes. Since these inferior beings don’t even know they’re trash, it’s all the more troubling.”
To that, Kuina nodded.
I only gave a wry smile and continued to head to the central plaza with the two of them.
What awaited for us there were as much as 20 human soldiers repeatedly questioning and shouting at the Mythological Foxes.
Apparently, the soldiers were told to wait while the leader of the city was being notified but got impatient and angry, shouting how long are you going to make us wait.
The scene of the Mythological Foxes being surrounded by these robust men was quite bizarre. If they were ordinary girls, they would have been frightened by these men already. Instead though, the Mythological Foxes seemed rather bored, trying their best to stifle a yawn.
Seeing the delegates like that, I revised my plan.
If there were any official among them that could be reasoned with, I would have negotiated with them in a somewhat intellectual manner but seeing as these soldiers were so focused on intimidating the girls, I decided to negotiate instead from a lower standpoint and flatter them.
“Oto-san, they’re strange. They’re scum but they’re talking to the Mythological Foxes as if they’re better than those girls. Do they wanna die?”
“It’s simple, really. They’re so weak they don’t even know how different they are from the girls.”
Generally, only upon belonging to the very top rank of adventurers could humans face B rank monsters in an even fight, and only by becoming as strong as heroes and champions could they finally be able to fight A rank monsters.
Meanwhile, high-ranking adventurers could fight, at the most, C rank monsters. As for the majority of adventurers, D rank monsters were their limit.
These soldiers were only as strong as high-ranking adventurers so of course the Mythological Foxes weren’t strained.
Moreover, other than the Mythological Foxes, Mithril Golems which were as strong as B rank monsters were also posted to prevent thievery. Plus, upon hearing the uproar, Rorono and her disciples, the Dwarf Smiths, also came.
Plainly speaking, even if there were a hundred of these soldiers, it wouldn’t have been an issue at all.
“Let’s go. I feel sorry for those Mythological Foxes.”
The Mythological Foxes were still putting on a smile but I could feel their irritation leaking out. If left alone, something unwanted was bound to happen.
As I thought such, young male adventurers appeared in front of the Mythological Foxes—as though to shield them—and shouted at the soldiers.
At the sight of that, I unintentionally smiled.
These men were adventurers who used Avalon as their base for going into the [Time] Demon Lord’s dungeon.
They probably protected the Mythological Foxes because they were infatuated by the girls’ beauty. In spite of this ulterior motive, challenging the soldiers fully garbed in armor took a fair amount of guts.
“Before I knew it, the humans have grown attached to our city.”
At first, the humans had some wariness toward my monsters but was now completely familiar with them.
As for my monsters, they still looked down on the humans but they were, to some extent, getting closer with the humans. It was a good trend.
I was glad I could confirm it in a rather harmless situation like this.
And so, I smiled to myself and walked forward.
“I’m sorry to have kept you waiting. Am I correct in assuming you gentlemen are the delegation that came from the neighboring city of Eclaba?”
I put on a face as gentle as I could muster and then looked at the Mythological Foxes, indicating that they do the same and remove any hostility they had.
And so, we humbled and deprecated ourselves.
Our goal this time was to buy time. To achieve this, we intended to charm the envoys into thinking we had no will to resist and then make them go for another visit because we could not come to a definite answer to their proposal.
“And you are?”
Each member of the delegation looked in my direction all at once. Some even placed a hand on the sword at their waist.
“I am the head of this city. I am named Procell.”
A middle-aged man who seemed to be their leader drew near me and then looked at me with suspecting eyes.
“You, the representative of this settlement? Even when you’re but a kid?”
Instead of referring to Avalon as a city, he regarded it as nothing but a settlement. This notion probably extended to all of them.
To them we were but a savage tribe in a savage land that needed to be managed by them.
“Yes, that is so. We have prepared a proper welcome for you; please follow me this way.”
“Hmm, you said Procell, right? Do you have a family name?”
“No, I don’t. I am simply Procell.”
At that, the delegation leaked out a chuckle.
To them, having a family name proved that one was an aristocrat. Or a very wealthy merchant that paid a large sum of money to get a family name.
Another reason for them to belittle me.
“Whatever, just hurry it up. I’m hungry after all that walking we did to reach this damned countryside. Serve us food and alcohol! I doubt you’ll dare but if you serve us inferior stuff, you know what’ll happen, right?”
“Of course. We have been informed of your visit so we have prepared a feast for you.”
I began to guide them to a mansion with a reception room rigged with various tricks and magical defenses that no one could see. Additionally, that room was also completely soundproof.
In the worst case scenario, we would dispose of them all there and spread the false information that they were eaten by monsters along the way.
“Say, that girl’s a beast-man slave, right? Tell its master that I’ll be borrowing it for a night. I’ll be taking real good care of it.”
The man pointed at a Mythological Fox and said those words. In reaction, my face somewhat stiffened.
Just what is this guy thinking of doing to my monster‑daughter?
“There are no slaves in this city. She is a splendid citizen of ours. So I’m afraid I can’t grant that request.”
“Is that so? How boring.”
“We have establishments like brothels here so please feel free to enjoy your nights there. They have professionals there with good looks and great techniques. I think you’ll find their services to be enjoyable.”
Thanks to the ease of getting generous clients, cheap taxes, delicious food, and even the presence of a hot spring, many prostitutes who worked away from their homes came to work at the brothel in Avalon.
I estimated that these prostitutes were enough to satisfy the delegates. However, should they demand that it had to be the Mythological Foxes, I intended to kill them right away.
I had decided beforehand that some things should absolutely not be demanded of us and one of those things regarded the safety of my monsters. Should they cross the line, I would show no mercy. I would never sell out my monsters.
“Really now? Of course, they’ll be for free, wouldn’t they?”
“Yes. We will shoulder everything to make your stay comfortable.”
At that, the man showed a disgusting expression on his face.
“Alright, it’s all good, then! I like your attitude, you know your stuff! HAHAHA!”
The man laughed as he hit my back.
At that, the fur on Kuina’s tail stood on end, showing her silent anger.
“Wait a minute”
For whatever reason, the man went toward the shop managed by the Mythological Foxes. As soon as he entered, he grabbed a sword made by the dwarves.
“Oi, you lot, come look at this. It’s amazing.”
“Commander, this sword..!?”
“With this sword, we can defeat any enemy!”
“Who would have thought we would find such a fine sword in this remote countryside!”
The soldiers were very pleased with the dwarves’ swords.
The day before, we took the sword made by Rorono—the very same high-quality sword used to attract customers—down and hid it as a precaution. If that was among the swords the soldiers had seen, it would have caused unnecessary trouble.
Anyway, as they held the mass-produced swords, the men of the delegation came up to me.
“Oi, Procell, give these swords to us! If you do, we’ll put in a good word for you to our higher ups.”
They said, greed visible in their eyes.
Their words were too frank and were even humorous.
“Yes, no problem. Rather, please carry them. They are one of this city’s specialty products.”
My answer pleased them to the point that they started doing practice swings right there and then.
After a while, the delegation finally arrived at the mansion.
After a simple inquiry—since this was an inspection after all, even if in name only—they stuffed their mouths full of food and drank as much alcohol as they could. After they were full, each member of the delegation headed to the brothel to have a good time.
I then guided them to their lodgings that I had arranged beforehand. The rooms they occupied were first class ones that cost three times as much as normal rooms. This was of course shouldered by us.
After assisting the delegation, I returned home and scrutinized the contents of their demands.
“I can’t accept these conditions. They’re far more than what I expected.”
I intended to compromise quite a bit right from the start but their demands easily went beyond what I could tolerate.
Thankfully, Wight was there to give an evasive response.
We can’t accept these exact terms but there’s still room for negotiations. If we can maybe loosen their terms a bit… were my and Wight’s opinion. However, I was convinced that regardless of what we would do, in the end, a war with the humans would break out.
It felt like the terms they gave were too demanding and too strict by design as though our refusal was assumed from the start. But if we did refuse their unacceptable terms, they would then have an excuse to have complete rule over us through military intervention.
But could all these really be fueled only by human greed?
Could there be a Demon Lord hiding with human society and using them?
If it was a war waged by the humans, even old Demon Lords would be able to lay their hands on me.
I couldn’t help but think along these lines.
“At any rate, I should focus on getting those soldiers to be pleased with their stay here so we could stall for as long as possible.”
Like that, I thought up of various strategies in my head.
In the morning of the third day since they arrived, I stood in front of our city’s gate to see the delegation off.
“You’ve taken good care of us in the past three days. For a remote settlement, this has been quite enjoyable.”
“I’m glad you’re pleased. For you who have come all the way to this remote place, we did our best to make your stay as enjoyable as we can.”
“Did you not think of anything this whole while? Don’t you have any sense of dignity?”
The leader of the delegation gave me a suspecting look.
I wondered then if I have overdone it a bit too much.
During their whole stay, these men did whatever they pleased. Normally, a city’s ruler would have probably been furious if outsiders behave as these men did. In truth, I lost count of how many times I wanted to kill them. Even so, I put up with it as though I was even glad of their continued stay.
“For us who seek to be under the protection of the empire and gain safety as soon as possible, we would not hesitate to do everything we can for you who would protect us in the future.”
I calmly said things I didn’t mean.
“Kuhahahaha, those are some good intentions! What a good dog you are. You’re the first one to say such an obedient reply to me. Well then, in order for you to receive the protection of the empire, pledge allegiance to our lord.”
“I would in a heartbeat if I could but certain adjustments within our city will have to be done first and that will take time. Once it’s finished, we will send out a message so won’t you graciously wait until then?”
“Hmm, I guess there’s that too… very well, Procell, you miserable dog… no, you who has respect toward empire, we will wait. You probably won’t do anything strange but don’t make us wait too long, hurry it up!”
I replied so and then showed him a smile.
The delegation left with more luggage than when they arrived due to the gifts I sent their way. With that, they returned with a pleased expression on their face.
I was sure the delegation would report to their lord that I, the chief of this remote settlement, was a coward and would do anything I was told with little to no threats needed.
“Now then, just to be sure, I better ready a fighting force suited for a war against the humans.”
A war against humans needed a different set of strategies and fighting force than when going against a Demon Lord in his dungeon.
Even if things don’t, in the end, come to war, the preparations done would absolutely not go to waste.
With this earned time, I’ll be able to prepare even more. I’ll show those soldier who the real fool is.
I was the type to harbour a grudge. I would never forget the humiliation I endured this time.