It has been a while since I last came to Marcho’s dungeon.
I arrived here using the transfer array I had set up with her permission.
The only ones I brought along were my three [Monsters of the Covenant] and the crow monster that could use [Transfer].
It hasn’t even been a year since I was last here but I felt nostalgic.
I contemplated on whether to bring Wight as well since he also lived here before. However, since he was my staff officer, he was to be the one in charge of Avalon’s administration and defense whenever I’m not there and so, in the end, I decided to make him stay.
Anyway, we met with the Succubus in the residential area and petitioned for an audience with Marcho. However, we were asked to wait for a while. So, instead of idling, we chose to visit the house we used to live in before.
“It hasn’t changed, has it?”
“It’s exactly as we left it!”
Kuina cheerfully responded to my comment. The house we used to live in looked just like when we left it.
When Marcho inquired about what to do with the furniture, I asked her to keep it so them still being here didn’t surprise me. What surprised me though was that it was almost exactly as we left it; almost no dust had accumulated anywhere which was contrary to what I predicted. Somebody must have been cleaning it, I thought. I might just have caught a glimpse of Marcho’s thoughtfulness.
Anyway, Kuina and Rorono each went to the private rooms they used before and acted freely.
“I’m a little envious, actually. We moved to Avalon as soon as I was born so I don’t have a lot of memories in this place.”
Aura said so as she watched the two.
What she said was true since I made her just before I made Avalon.
“You don’t have to be envious. You just have to make a lot of memories in Avalon from now on to make up for it.”
Aura smiled and replied so.
After a while of relaxing about, the Succubus came to us. She was the one in charge of this residential area due in part to her ability to use [Transfer].
“Marchosias-sama is ready to receive you. It seems her previous audience dragged on; I’m sorry for the delay.”
“Don’t worry about it. We passed the time in a meaningful manner. More than that, her previous audience?”
The idea of her having a meeting with somebody other than me piqued my interest quite a bit.
“……Ah, please forget about that. I’m going to [Transfer] you now so please gather near me.”
The Succubus only openly changed the subject. She was most probably forbidden to talk about it so I decided to not push the matter any further and did as she advised.
“Yeah, take care of us then.”
“Here, I go. [Transfer].”
Like so, our consciousness faded away.
Upon completion of our Transfer, we surveyed our surroundings and confirmed that it was indeed Marcho’s room.
It was lined up with top-grade—but not gaudy—furnishings. And on the eye-catching throne that gave off an intimidating feeling was a white-haired, brown-skinned beautiful girl with a wolf’s ears and tail.
She had a grim expression on her face and looked as though she was thinking deeply. However, as soon as she noticed us, she casted that expression off in exchange for a softer one.
Her previous guest must not have been the most agreeable fellow.
“I’m glad you came, Procell. It’s been a while.”
“Yes, it has.”
“But it seems that while I wasn’t looking, you’ve grown big, Procell-chan. Your big sister’s moved to tears. You’re growing up so fast.”
“What am I, a kid!?”
I inadvertently said that out loud.
As I did, she looked at me and smiled.
“Yeah, you are. As far as I’m concerned, you’re still a child. You’re much too green for a Demon Lord. You may have grown but you still have a long road ahead of you.”
I had nothing to say back to her for I knew myself that, as a Demon Lord, I was still a novice.
“Geez, you really know how to mess with my rhythm. Anyway, let me say my thanks for finding the time for me today. Thank you.”
“It’s alright. I wanted to meet with you, anyways. Whenever I hear rumors about you, my heart would always skip a beat. You’re being absurd, I thought… But then, for your first actual war, you got yourself into a three versus one. Against enemies who have received three fully grown A rank monsters, no less. I thought my heart was going to give out back then.”
“I also think that I made a blunder there. I was a tad too obstinate back then.”
My chance of winning even against an alliance was rather high so I let myself get caught up in [Steel]’s plans. However, had I wanted to avoid it altogether back then, I would have been perfectly able to; there was nothing stopping me aside from my overconfidence and my obstinacy.
But then again, that was before I knew their alliance had received powerful monsters from their parents. Had I known this fact from the start, not even my obstinacy would have prevented me from avoiding that three on one war at all cost.
The only reason I won that war was because all of my monsters performed much better than I had expected. There was a lot I needed to reflect on in order to not make that kind of mistake again.
“Even though you don’t look it, you’re quite a bullheaded man, aren’t you? I as your parent am beside myself with worry, you know?”
“Yeah, sorry. I’ve been a bad kid.”
“Tell me about it.”
Macho and I looked at each other and smiled.
“Can we get to the main topic now?”
“Hmm, before that, I have noticed your greatest flaw, Procell.”
“Yes, and as a Demon Lord, it’s a fatal one.”
The shock given by those words was too much. Naturally, I recognized the flaw that I was still much too green but one that could be said to be fatal? I had not noticed such.
“Tell it to me please.”
“Yeah, okay. I’ll say it plainly: you, as a Demon Lord, lack majesty!”
She pointed a finger at me and then declared so.
To which I unintentionally and also impolitely replied Haa!?
“Ah, what a weird face you have. Listen, this is important. Majesty, reverence, or any such dreadful aura is necessary to a Demon Lord. If you don’t have any, you will be made light of by the humans and by your subordinate monsters. For that reason, practice drawing out your Demon Lord aura here and now. If you make use of this throne, even you will be able to bring it out. So, go ahead and sit.”
She stood from her throne and told me to sit there. And so, I sat on it. Her throne, through its appearance, did make me feel a little bit stronger.
“Give me a bit more villainous smile.”
“More, give me more confidence! …Yes, yes, I’m feeling it a little. Now, alright, let’s make use of those girls. Celestial Fox, Elder Dwarf, you two try standing beside your master and leaning on him.”
Kuina and Rorono both wore strange expressions on their face. After a short while, Kuina spoke.
“Kuina is Oto-san’s monster and will not listen to anyone’s command besides Oto-san’s.”
Rorono nodded in agreement.
Geez, these girls really are reliable.
“Oh, yeah, okay. This is a necessary lesson for you as a Demon Lord so, Procell, if you please.”
“Alright. Let’s just try this out once, okay?”
Although I was doubtful myself, I commanded the two to come closer.
“Hmm, act more spoiled? Ah, Celestial Fox, act sexier. Yes, yes.”
Marcho directed the two on which pose to take until, finally, she nodded in satisfaction.
“How is it, Marcho? Do we look intimidating now?”
I asked so but no answer immediately came.
Marcho just looked at us. After a short while, she began trembling and soon after, she burst into laughter.
“Ahaha. This is so awful. Yeah, you sure look intimidating but, but more than that… Pfft. You really are Lolicell! Ahahaha!”
She very rudely said so and I was slightly hurt.
“That’s enough for today. I take it we have accomplished being intimidating, at the very least.”
“Ahaha, yeah, yeah… I guess for going along with that jest, I’ll tell you your real weakness.”
Marcho and I exchanged positions and she sat on her throne again. After a while of putting on airs, she spoke. I was now more on guard; I wasn’t about to be made fun of again.
“Your monsters are strong, ridiculously so. Of that, there is no arguing. Any ordinary, inexperienced Demon Lord would be helplessly defeated when faced with a three on one fight. Your strength and growth speed is astonishing. …but then, that is all you have going for you.”
Those words rang true to my heart.
“You immensely lack intelligence gathering capabilities. Your monsters are great in battle as well as in production but that’s pretty much it. Moreover, you yourself extremely lack political strength. You see, first-class Demon Lords would have their monsters scatter everywhere to serve as their eyes and ears. They also have the cooperation of their fellow Demon Lords under their belt. And that cooperation isn’t limited to just the sharing of information, mind you. …that’s not the end of it. Some Demon Lords would even go so far as to infiltrate human countries and take control of those places’ governments. The scum I hate most is masquerading himself as the god of a religion that has a lot of believers in a certain country, effectively giving him reign over the place.”
My weaknesses were pointed out.
I had nothing to argue against her; she was right on the mark. It was only thanks to the blue bird I got from [Wind] Demon Lord Stolas as well as the crow monster I got from the [Time] Demon Lord that I had a way to communicate and travel, respectively. However, among the monsters that I myself created, there wasn’t any that could fulfill those roles, much less for intelligence gathering.
There were a lot of cases where information became more important than having numbers. A blind army might as well be a dead one, after all. To neglect gathering information was indeed a fatal flaw.
“Let me tell you how fatal your flaw is. I currently have a certain monster hidden within your city. If I know that you can harvest golden apples in your city, you can bet I also know about the absurdly strong weapons that your Elder Dwarf is developing as well as your plans for the mass-production of those beyond-normal golems. What makes it worse is that you haven’t even realize your secrets are being leaked out. Now, imagine what would happen if I were a hostile Demon Lord.”
I was shocked.
How can she know so much? Did she make use of a monster’s ability to see through all of my secrets?
It then dawned on me that if Marcho was able to do so, the [Time] Demon Lord could have as well, given his interest in me. My caution around the crow monster would then be all for nothing.
In addition to them, some other Demon Lord may already have eyes and ears deployed somewhere in my city.
“That’s frightening. I have truly taken things too lightly. I may have relied on my Monsters of the Covenant’s presence sensing abilities.”
“So long as you’re aware of your weakness, you, in particular, can make a monster to cope with that weakness, wouldn’t you agree? With your [Creation], you can choose the possibility you want from the countless others. Besides, you’re smart; I trust you’ll make the most efficient choice.”
Marcho, after saying so, pouted somewhat.
My [Creation] medals truly were enviable; they were just too convenient.
“Yeah, I’ll do that. I’ve decided on how to use my next [Creation] medal. Thanks.”
I had vaguely thought of adding another fighting unit but have now decided to gear the next monster to have intelligence gathering capabilities and let the Avalon-Ritters be the increase in our fighting strength.
“That ends Professor Marcho’s lesson on being a Demon Lord. We are both pressed for time so let’s end the idle chitchat now. Okay, Procell, I have the general understanding of your circumstances after reading your letter. It seems you are being targeted by the humans.”
“Yeah. A notification came demanding pretty much to be under the control of the lord of a neighboring city, a city called Axera(アクセラ). It is very likely that we will come to war with each other.”
Since I was going to borrow her knowledge, I told her everything without holding anything back.
“So what you want to know is their fighting force for when it does come to war, is that right?”
“Yeah. I want to know how many soldiers will be deployed if all we’re talking about is the city of Axera.”
“That city has a population of 200,000, give or take. Generally, a city like that would have at least 10 that belong to the hero class and about a hundred that belong to what is referred to as the highest rank for adventurers. After those, there should be about 3,000 in their army. These numbers are what they can gather internally without difficulty, mind you. When they begin calling for reinforcements from cities they are allied to, expect their numbers to increase even more.”
“I see. That gives me relief; I won’t be defeated with that amount.”
In terms of monster ranks, the hero class would be the A rank monsters.
So, if the strongest fighting force the enemy had were just 10 A ranks, I saw no problems; Kuina alone could wipe the floor with them.
The remaining 3000 small fries didn’t pose a threat either.
“Again, those numbers are assuming you will go to war with that one city. If you, by some chance, go to war with the entire country, their numbers will at least be tenfold.”
“I won’t let it come to that.”
I have been secretly preparing various arrangements with merchants to ensure the fighting would be limited with that one city.
“One other point, a warning really. Though heroes are regarded as equivalent to A rank monsters, that is on average. What I mean is that once in a while, a monstrously strong hero comes along so don’t lower your guard. ……Still, something has been bothering me. This upcoming war is a little strange. I feel like the humans are mobilizing far too quickly. Humans, you see, take an awful lot of time deciding on something, and even more time enacting it. If the city’s lord is acting on his whim, yeah, maybe, but all things considered, that city isn’t likely to be capable of doing so.”
I had also thought that. And so, I decided it was safer to assume the enemy had twice the fighting force.
“Thanks to you, my course of action is decided.”
“I’m glad to hear that. So, Procell, I’ve given you this much information, what do you plan on giving me in return? Fufu, I’m your parent so I want to treat you as kindly as I can but then again, you’ve already left my nest, right? Plus, you’ve rejected me back then. Given all these, should you really be this dependent on me? It can’t be that just because I’m your parent, you think it’s only natural that I help without anything in return, now can it?”
She put on a rather sad face and looked at me.
She’s really shrewd… no, she might be saying all these to teach me something.
That thought came to me but it didn’t bother me at all. It was my intention from the very start to compensate her, anyway.
“Your many advice, this time and those before, have been greatly helpful. So to properly give my thanks, I want to propose something.”
“…Oh, this is getting interesting. State your proposal.”
“The end of your lifespan is within the year but do you have no intention to live even beyond your lifespan?”
A Demon Lord has a lifespan of 300 years and Marcho was at her last year. My intended compensation for her was a life beyond those 300 years.
“Just what do you mean by that?”
“Exactly as I said. If you’d recall, I was given a power called [Rebirth] by the Creator. I have already used that power on Wight and made him into a powerful monster. It was then that I confirmed it: that power isn’t limited to just monsters. Whatever the being is, so long as they agree, they can be turned into a medal. Even Demon Lords, I’d wager. So, after temporarily turning you into a medal via [Rebirth] and then using that medal in a [Synthesis], I can extend your lifespan.”
I adored Marcho. As my guardian and as my friend.
And due to that, I felt that I didn’t want to part with her.
I believed that with [Rebirth], I could save her.
It was also greatly advantageous for me; it would be reassuring to have her brains and brawn on my side.
For these reasons, I proposed this idea to her.
She hid her face and said so.
“You have said something you shouldn’t have.”
She continued with a calm and yet angry tone in her voice.
“Just what did I say to make you that angry??”
“Your proposal is an affront to me, no, to all Demon Lords—except that bastard. Within my limited life: I’ve risked it all and got everything I wanted in return; and have made my mark upon the world. After my imminent death, I shall once more become a spirit. That is how it’s supposed to be, that is the golden path for us Demon Lords. I have no intention of throwing away my pride. You disappoint me, Procell. I never thought you would say something similar to what that bastard said. I don’t wish for a longer life. I have no regret in my life; I lived as I saw fit. You sully me with your conceit.”
I was greatly stunned. I couldn’t comprehend all of what Marcho was saying.
Seeing me like that, Marcho seemed to have calmed down a little. After taking a breath, she hid her eyes with her hand and spoke.
“Sorry, Procell. I don’t think I can calmly talk with you anymore; I might snap again. I guess the timing of your visit’s to blame. My head knows I shouldn’t involve you but I just can’t hold back my irritation.”
With that, I judged that any further talks would be for naught.
“Marcho, I’m sorry for making you angry but just let me say this: I want to be with you for a longer time. To part with you within a year’s time breaks my heart. I want you to continue living and so I proposed this. It isn’t my intention to make light of you or your pride. ……I thank you once again for your advice and information. Won’t you at least please take this? It’s my city’s prized apple.”
I passed the golden apple to Marcho. I wanted her to eat it so I brought some with me.
She didn’t reply but she at least accepted the apple.
“Well, I’ll go now. My city’s great, you know? We have delicious food, a hot spring, taverns to drink fine alcohol, even gambling houses. Recently, traveling minstrels have also come there and sing good songs for us. It’ll have to be until the fighting is over but please consider visiting Avalon. …I’ll do my best to welcome you.”
Right when I finished my speech, by Marcho’s command, the Succubus used [Transfer].
A moment before the Transfer process was complete, I thought I heard Marcho say in low, almost inaudible voice, I’m sorry.
I contemplated for a while. As Marcho had said, I might have wounded her pride as Demon Lord. However, I still thought her reaction was strange and excessive. It worried, to be honest.
Nevertheless, I had no time to spare and had to give all of my attention to the enemy before me.
I settled for the decision that if ever I had the time, I would go check up on Marcho. With my mind made up, I instructed the crow monster to use [Transfer] to return us back to Avalon.