A letter from the [Black] Demon Lord had arrived.
The letter talked about two main points.
First was that he wanted me to come to a meeting of just the two of us 10 days later at a specified place.
The second was that in the case I refused to meet or in the case that I told anyone that he made contact with me, [Wind] Demon Lord Stolas’s dungeon would be attacked.
At this point, I assumed a few things.
One was that the other party had always been waiting for me to lose my magic power. Another thing that I assumed was that somehow or another, information was leaking to them.
R’lyeh Diva, who headed our intelligence corps, had not reported anything, so it might be safe to assume that the information leaking wasn’t due to an enemy monster hiding in another dimension. Needless to say, an investigation was necessary.
My lead as of the moment was in the letter. Namely, the specified date of 10 days later.
Originally, when an A rank monster has been named, the Demon Lord to do so would lose their magic power for half a month*. However, thanks to Aura, my recovery period—which was supposed to be longer than normal since Duke was an S rank monster—was shortened to 8 days.
Now, knowledge of my recovery period becoming shorter was limited to just myself and Aura. If this piece of information was to leak to the enemy, the date of the meeting would no doubt be changed. Put in another way, if the date hasn’t been changed, that information still hasn’t been leaked.
If we could compare the patterns where information was leaked and where it wasn’t, the investigation would become easier.
At the very least, I could rule out that there is a spy in my immediate surroundings.
“And can the reason he can hold Stolas hostage is because he has those artificial heroes…?”
Originally, unless an old Demon Lord could reason out that they received some kind attack from a new Demon Lord, they were not permitted to attack the latter.
Among the monsters that we killed in the campaign to save Marcho, perhaps, some were monsters of his, and if so, he could justify attacking me. However, that reason shouldn’t be applicable to attacking Stolas.
But then again, the [Black] Demon Lord had a way to be exempt from this rule: his artificial heroes.
These artificial heroes were undeniably humans. They were theoretically stronger than an average A rank monster, but humans nonetheless.
Even though the [Dragon] Demon Lord had managed to destroy the training facility for them, there were still plenty of already-trained artificial heroes remaining. If the [Black] Demon Lord willed it, it was possible for Stolas’s dungeon to fall.
That being said, if he thought that just that much fighting force was enough, he was looking down at us too much.
I can lend support to Stolas, after all.
Even though there was a recent decrease in my fighting force—the Avalon-Ritters were all destroyed in the Marcho campaign, and Fel and Rozelitte returned to their rightful masters—I had gained more than I lost.
After making Marcho my own monster, her whole army became under me.
As of the moment, her focus was on rebuilding her dungeon, so none of her monsters were in Avalon, but if I felt like it, I could dispatch her whole army to Stolas’s dungeon.
“What is he thinking? Why is he challenging Marcho and me? He must know his remaining human army has no chance in winning against us. …No, even if he knows that Marcho survived, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s aware that she became my subordinate through [Rebirth]. Is that why he’s making light of me?”
If that hypothesis was correct, then there was a 90% chance that his source of information were some humans in Avalon.
On regards to Duke receiving a name, my monsters were not forbidden whatsoever to talk about it. Even if my monsters talked about it when they were buying their congratulatory gifts as well as the food and alcohol for the party, to most humans, the term naming would not make much sense.
To the humans being used for intelligence gathering, however, if the order given to them was to report anything strange, the enemy side would definitely know of my condition.
“If he’s using humans, then it stands to reason he doesn’t know about Marcho.”
It hasn’t been long since Marcho came here, and my monsters shouldn’t have what happened to her as their topic for conversation with the humans.
Following those patterns, since my monsters, other than Aura, didn’t know that my recovery time had become shorter, the human spies would have no way of knowing it too.
“What an incredibly aggressive enemy. Threatening us right from the start. Looking down at us, to boot. I’m not inclined to negotiate with him, to say the least.”
I wondered whether I could get along with someone who would threaten to harm Stolas, a good friend I owed a favor to.
At any rate, for the time being… just to be safe, I should make sure to keep the information about Marcho and about my recovery time, an absolute secret.
To defend against potential leakage of information, I thought that it was better to temporarily send Marcho back to her dungeon.
If I could make the [Black] Demon Lord remain unaware about those two pieces of information, there was a chance he could make a fatal mistake.
All that said, it was foolish to act solely on optimistic assumptions.
While I hope I’m right, I should also plan for possible counter-measures in the case that I’m not.
To that end, one card in my deck was necessary: Rorono and her talents.
I’m going to ask too much of Rorono again… I’m getting too spoiled by her.
In the evening, after finishing my scheduled meeting with some merchants in my residence in Avalon, I headed toward the [First Tree]. While recovering, that place overflowing with golden life energy was where I was going to be living.
When I arrived, I saw Rorono and something that wasn’t there when I left.
“Is this… the tent?”
I involuntarily spoke such oafish words.
In order for me to live in apple orchard, Aura asked Rorono to build me a tent. However, what I saw before me was more than what I imagined.
“I didn’t have time to build one from scratch, so I brought a prototype carriage.”
“That thing I mentioned… you really went ahead made that?”
“Only until halfway through. I became busy and had to leave it alone, but today, I did my best to finish it at least this much.”
Some time ago, I had the idea of someday going on a long trip using a carriage, so I asked Rorono to make one.
The carriage before me was twice as large as an ordinary carriage. Furthermore, it was made of a lightweight mithril alloy.
The ones to pull it weren’t the Silver Golems often seen in Avalon, but rather Mithril Golems. Compared to horses, golems had far greater pulling power. So, with them, weight was not as much of a concern. And since that was so, Rorono then had more leeway on designing the carriage.
That being said, considering that we would be the ones to use it, Rorono prioritized ensuring our safety first—by improving its defensive and offensive capabilities—before thinking about comfort.
“If it’s this, I’m certain master will be able to have a relaxing time. Moreover, I’ve also incorporated some parts that were made by my [Materialization]. For example, the gravity reduction feature used in the [Mechanical Warmaiden] helps reduce the weight of the whole thing. If you wanted, we can make the Darkness Dragons be the ones to pull it, thus making it into essentially an airship. I am proud of my work.”
Rorono said so with a proud face.
She then got closer and looked up to my face.
Always wanting to be spoiled.
“Thank you. I’ll be able to have a relaxed time here more than in any tent.”
I did as she wanted and brushed her head. When I did so, she smiled.
To say she overdid it would probably be boorish of me. After all, it would prove itself useful when we do go on a vacation via air travel someday.
“May I go in?”
“Mhm. It also has all the necessary furniture, so you can live here right away.”
And so, I went inside the carriage together with Rorono.
Upon entry, I noticed that the inside greatly resembled my bedroom. The difference was that this one was made under the premise that it would be inhabited by multiple people at once.
In addition, there were also such things as a shower room and a kitchenette, among others, inside.
It was luxurious beyond any ordinary carriage.
As Rorono said, it was already filled with all sorts of furniture. Aside from the spares for my residence, there were also new ones made by Rorono as well as ones recently bought in Avalon.
When I looked at the bed, I saw a fluffy fox tail jutting out of the bed’s sheet.
“Kuina, you were here too?”
“Yeah ♪! It’s hot spring time, so Kuina came along too!”
After revealing herself, Kuina jumped toward me and gave me a hug.
When I looked at her, she was in tatters. There shouldn’t have been any enemy in the [Crimson Cavern] that could drive Kuina that far, so I guessed that she was doing her best in some kind of special training.
While thinking so, I was snuggling against Kuina’s tail. But then, I wondered what Kuina meant by hot spring time.
“Ah, master, it looks like your meeting has ended, huh. Then, let’s go to the hot spring!”
The one to say so was Aura who appeared from an inner room.
She smelled like medicine, so I figured she was making some potions using the facilities that were on this carriage.
If there’s even a kitchen, I guess it’s not so surprising for this thing to have a potion making facility too.
“…I’m fine with going to the hot spring, but care to explain why?”
When I asked so, Aura looked back and forth between Rorono, who was behind me, and Kuina.
Based on Aura’s hesitation to talk, I understood that going to the hot spring had something to do with my treatment and that she hasn’t told Kuina and Rorono of my condition. Perhaps, all she told them was that we were going to the hot spring simply because it has been some time since we last went together.
“Aura, it’s alright; you can tell them. Also, Kuina, Rorono, don’t say a word to anyone about what you’re going to hear. It has to remain a secret between us four.”
Had there been no prospect of recovery, I wouldn’t tell even them, but now that there was, it was only proper to tell my [Monsters of the Covenant]—and later, Duke and Marcho—of my condition.
After all, their cooperation was absolutely necessary.
“Understood. Well, Rorono-chan, Kuina-chan, actually, when master gave Duke-san his name, master’s magic power circuit and magic power reactor were badly damaged… to the point he feared his magic power will never return. If it’s an ordinary monster, master’s magic power will return in about half a month’s* time, but Duke-san’s strength was just too much that it seemed hopeless for master’s magic power.”
“Oh no, that’s serious!”
Kuina exclaimed so while her fox tail straightened up and began to shiver.
“Mhm, it’s a pretty bad situation, but based on the way Aura and master are acting, it seems you have found a way to treat master. Is that right?”
Although Rorono looked paler compared to Kuina, she acted calmer.
Upon hearing Rorono’s accurate assumption, Aura nodded.
“Yes. I’ve realized that master can be healed by the powers of the golden apples, my own magic, and that of the life energy here in this orchard.”
Hearing that, Kuina, who had become teary-eyed, put a hand on her chest and then gave a sigh of relief.
As for Rorono, the colors on her face returned.
“As to be expected of you, Aura-chan! Marvelous! As a reward, Kuina’s fine with having her tail rubbed today!”
Kuina said so and then launched into a hug with Aura.
Gaining permission, Aura, hands trembling, then reached for Kuina’s fluffy tail.
The moment she grabbed hold of it, an ecstatic voice leaked out from her.
For Aura, someone who was a fanatic of cute and adorable girls, Kuna was the greatest target. However, even though Kuina liked hugging others, she was weak at being hugged herself and thus avoided it. It was to the point that she wouldn’t let anyone other than me touch her tail.
“Ooohhhh. Kuina-chan’s tail. So fluffy, so soft, and so warm. Such bliss! My hand’s being swallowed by the tail! Woahh.”
“Kuina… Kuina can take this…!”
Aura had a euphoric look on her face. And I couldn’t blame her. After all, Kuina’s tail was truly a nice thing. I myself was guilty of enjoying it on a daily basis.
“Going back on topic, the hot spring, whose source was something I and the High elves blessed, had healing properties itself. I admit that it might not be very monumental effects, but even so, I propose we all go there until master fully recovers!”
Still holding onto Kuina’s tail, Aura continued speaking.
She’s getting addicted to the tail’s charms.
“Mhm, good idea. From now on, I’ll make time for our daily baths.”
My treatment and going into the hot spring together with everyone were different matters. It was not necessary for me to take a bath with them.
…that being said, if it would please them, I thought it was better to not be a wet blanket.
Besides, as their father, there was a need for me to confirm their growth. Kuina had undeniably grown, with her appearance becoming all at once similar to that of a 16-year-old girl’s. Rorono too surely have grown, even if by only a little. And while I couldn’t really tell with her clothes on, I was fairly certain that Aura had grown as well.
“Well now, let’s go right away!”
“I’ll prepared apple juice and ice!”
Each then began to rummage through their belongings that were in the carriage’s shelves.
“You’ve already brought in your belongings here?”
“Anywhere Oto-san lives is Kuina’s home.”
“We all belong together!”
They were really all in on moving here.
Not that I was complaining. After all, I preferred living here with everyone than living by myself.
Also, I made a mental note to later tell Marcho, who was living in a different residence, that I would living here for a while.
Time passed and I continued to have daily baths in the hot spring with my daughters.
On the second day, I went in with Marcho. While hiding what the [Black] Demon Lord told me in his letter, I asked Marcho for strategies against him. I also asked Marcho to return to her dungeon for the time being. Considering that it was her, she would have been able to figure what was going on even if I didn’t tell her anything.
When she was about to leave, she told me—almost ordered me—to not cheat on her. Not that she had to worry about me doing something like that.
In other news, on the fifth day, even though my magic power still hasn’t returned, thanks to Aura’s efforts, the ability to use many of my Demon Lord powers have returned to me.
As of yet, the [Black] Demon Lord still hasn’t done anything.
It was very likely that he still wasn’t aware of my sped-up recovery or of the nature of Marcho’s rebirth.
At any rate, this day, I was set to depart.
I had already chosen the best members for this campaign and put them in my [Storage].
“Well then, I’ll be going now.”
“Take care, Oto-san!”
While Kuina was sending me off, I left Avalon. Picking me up in the [Plains] dungeon room was a high-ranking Griffon.
Today was the day I was going to spectate over [Wind] Demon Lord Stolas’s war.
Originally, my role was to be a mere spectator, but considering that there was no guarantee the [Black] Demon Lord would stay out of this [War]—it was possible he would loan some of his forces to Stolas’s opponent—I might be forced to do something more.
Even though I did as he asked and have not told anyone of the meeting that was set to take place four days later, I was not naïve enough to think he would refrain from doing anything to Stolas.
And so, while desperately hoping my countless preparations were for nothing, I rode the monster that Stolas sent. And then, while feeling grateful to Aura’s treatment, to Rorono’s tenacity, and to Marcho’s cooperation, I took off.
Now, let my preliminary skirmish with the [Black] Demon Lord begin!
*TLN: In this chapter, the raw says that it takes a full month—instead of just half a month—for a Demon Lord to recover after naming an A rank monster. I checked the LN and by Volume 4 chapter 4, it still says half a month. Considering the LN is generally the more polished work, I’m going with that. Either way, the math involved still works out.