We had arrived in crystal room of the [Wind] dungeon.
Our purpose for coming here was to pick up Kuina and the others who were entrusted with the task of protecting the crystal.
To be specific, the ones in the crystal room were: Kuina, the strongest possible guard; R’lyeh Diva, stationed here to prevent any attack from the other dimension; and two Ocean singers who were R’lyeh Diva’s subordinates.
Upon arrival, I saw that R’lyeh Diva and her two subordinates were amusing themselves with a card game while Kuina sat in a corner, arms around her knees, and sulked.
Kuina sulked while R’lyeh Diva paid no mind, pretty much what I expected.
“Kuina, Ruru, everyone, thanks for your work. The [War] has safely concluded. Let’s go back right away, shall we?”
I said so with a smile on my face.
By the way, Ruru was R’lyeh Diva’s nickname since the latter was a bit hard to say. Giving them nicknames didn’t constitute as naming monsters, thankfully.
“I was about to get tired of waiting, patron.”
“…Ruru, I know there’s no way, but were you guys also playing during the [War]?”
“Of course not. I would never do such a thing. I’ll have you know that I properly watched the other side during the [War]. And, since there might be rude individuals that think we’ve let our guard down now that the war’s over and won, I’m purposefully making chances for them while also tightening my water network. In this side or the other, my ears hear everything.”
Ruru strongly declared so.
She, the blue-haired, androgynous and yet beautiful head of Avalon’s intelligence corps, acted like she was just playing around but was actually still working.
I’m so relieved.
“Kuina, Ruru, Ocean Singers, again, thank you for your hard work. It’s because you guys were here that we were able to go all out on the offensive.”
I spoke out my true feelings.
In a war against fellow Demon Lords, the most troublesome monsters were probably those that excelled in espionage and mobility.
No matter the difference between the main forces of the two opposing sides, if even one monster gets past the lines of defense, the crystal would be broken and everything would be over.
“Well, we didn’t really do anything. It was mostly the [Wind] Demon Lord and her monsters. Aside from that small push from Duke, even if we didn’t come, they would have won.”
It was exactly as she said. Majority of the work was done by Stolas and her monsters.
Even though the war ended before Ruru and the others could get to do anything, I would like to think they at least had an easy time.
The problem was Kuina.
From the moment we returned, she was pouting and glaring at me.
It’s been a while since the last time she was this upset.
“Kuina, come on, I can’t bear you looking at me like that.”
“…Oto-san, why didn’t you take Kuina? Unlike Rorono-chan and Aura-chan, Kuina’s only good point is fighting. Why is Kuina here if not to fight? Did you choose Duke and Aura-chan ‘cause they’re stronger than Kuina? Even after Kuina got a new special move and became stronger?”
She said so with a tearful voice.
I then recalled what Rorono told me: that Kuina was feeling insecure lately.
For Kuina, her raison d’être was being Avalon’s Strongest monster.
However, with the appearance of Duke and then Marcho, her confidence was crumbling.
“I trust in you, Kuina. And it is because I trust in you that I posted you here. Sure, Duke can be more powerful than you for a short period of time, but [Berserk] is such an unstable power. You’re strong and have stable powers, so you were more suited to defend the most important point in this war. As for why I took Aura with me, there’s the fact that she can be used for the offense, but more than that, she was there for my safety since she could use her wind to perceive everything, including possible threats to my life. So, you see, it’s just a matter of having the right person for the right job.”
Not a word I said was a lie.
It was out of the question to leave the defense of the crystal room to Duke. And even if Marcho was here instead of Kuina, I would still have taken Aura to the frontlines.
I had brought ten monsters to Stolas’s [War]: Kuina, Aura, Duke, Ruru, 3 Ocean Singers, 2 Darkness Dragons Graphross, and Kurayami the Tartaros—a black-furred werewolf monster—whom I borrowed from Marcho.
If I brought too much war potential with me, Avalon would be defenseless. After all, there was that possibility that the threat against Stolas was merely a diversion so that Avalon would send assistance and be left undermanned.
However, between Marcho, the aerial bombardment corps led by the Dwarf Smith who was Duke’s adjutant, and the golem corps led by Rorono, there was nothing to fear.
“But Kuina didn’t get to fight”
Kuina’s head might have understood what I was trying to say, but it seemed like her heart hasn’t yet.
Her appearance might have suddenly become that of an adult, but deep down, she’s still just a child.
While there some monsters who were already mature upon birth, there were some who were still childish.
Whichever they might be, I loved my monsters all the same.
After some thoughts, I approached the still sulking and unmoving Kuina and forcibly carried her in my arms.
“Come on, Kuina, let’s go back. To Avalon.”
Surprised, Kuina resisted at first and then calmed down right away.
She was still protesting though by turning away her face.
“Oto-san, you’re so mean”
Is she referring to me forcibly picking her up or is it because I had posted her here? Or is it both?
“Kuina, I’ve said this earlier but I’ll say it again: I have complete trust in you. I didn’t want to tell you this in front of other monsters, but out of all my monsters, the one I rely on the most is you.”
By saying Kuina was the one I relied on the most, I was also saying I didn’t rely as much on my other monsters. However, upon hearing what I said, none of Duke, Aura, and Ruru showed any kind of discomfort on their face. It was because they too recognized Kuina’s abilities.
“Kuina, I won’t apologize for this time. I did what I needed to do as a Demon Lord… but I will make you a promise: in the next fight, I will prepare a stage where you can take the lead and shine. I’ll send you to the most dangerous of battlefields so that you can get the chance to show the new power you gained from your special training. I’ll be expecting a lot from you, Kuina.”
Upon hearing that, she turned her still-looking-away face back to me.
And she was smiling.
Finally, she was back in a good mood.
“Understood. Kuina will do her best for Oto-san!”
While I still carried her in my arms, she wrapped her arms around me to form a tight embrace.
…when something pressed against me, I couldn’t help but think well, she surely has grown.
Needless to say, as her father, I must reflect on myself.
“Everyone, let’s go back home. Once we’ve returned, everyone that participated in this fight will be rewarded. The sky’s the limit. You can buy whatever you want from the shops in Avalon.”
Duke thinly smiled and then nodded. Meanwhile, Aura was thinking deeply of what she was going to buy. As for Ruru and the Ocean Singers, they had begun discussing the most expensive goods available in Avalon.
My beloved monsters were happy.
However, Kuina didn’t seem as happy as the others.
“Kuina, do you not like the reward?”
“…Kuina does, but Kuina had thought of a different reward if Kuina had contributed greatly in the fight. It’s a shame Kuina can’t have it.”
Something that Kuina wanted as her reward for the [War]?
I tried to think what that something was, but nothing came to mind.
When I looked at Kuina, she looked embarrassed but continued talking.
“Kuina was very envious when Rorono-chan had Oto-san all for herself for a full day. Kuina wants that too when Kuina has done a great job.”
I see, so that’s what she was thinking.
The increase of my monsters and the growth of my city meant a steady decrease in the time I had to spend with my girls. Kuina was spoiled more than the others, so it wasn’t so surprising for her to think of such.
“Oh, I see. But yeah, for your service this time, I can’t give you the same prize that I gave for Rorono. I’ll tell you what though, if you give an outstanding performance in the next fight, I’ll spend a whole day with you.”
“Okay! I’ll absolutely, absolutely give an outstanding performance next time! So, Oto-san, promise Kuina that too!”
“Yeah, it’s a promise.”
The two of us then linked our fingers to signify the promise we made. In other words, we made a pinky swear.
It was perhaps due to her joy, but Kuina was shaking her fluffy tail back and forth.
Honestly, if I could find a day to spend with her, I would do so without any conditions, but that would be unfair to Rorono.
I had to pay attention not only to Kuina, but all my other monsters as well. Being a Demon Lord is quite hard.
After we left the crystal room, we used a Transfer array provided by Stolas’s monsters. This array led us to the entrance of the dungeon. From there, we headed to an outside area devoid of people.
In order for the knowledge that we were going to Stolas’s dungeon to lend a hand not leak, we made use of her monster and even flew at a high altitude. As another precaution, I also made my monsters hide in my [Storage].
On the way home though, such precautions were not necessary.
And so, I took out the two Darkness Dragons from my [Storage]. Like this, monsters that disliked being in the Storage didn’t have to put up with it.
As for the still sleeping Stolas, she was affixed in the back of Enlil the Bahamut.
“Rozelitte and all of the [Wind] monsters, thank you for seeing us off. I’m sure Stolas would have been pleased as well. Without fail, your master will be healthy again and return in no time.”
“Please take care of Stolas-sama. Once she wakes up, please tell her that we are protecting her dungeon, so rather than worry about it, she should devote herself to getting better.”
“Okay, I’ll tell her that.”
Even after that, the many [Wind] monsters that were gathered here still talked to me. It just goes to show how much Stolas was loved.
After a while, things finally calmed down and we were able to leave.
“Well, let’s go”
“Yes, let’s go back home.”
Riding on the same Darkness Dragon that I was were Kuina and Aura. Kuina was in a good mood and was hugging me from behind. The fact that she was in a good mood made me happy.
As for Duke, he was riding on Enlil. Apparently, the two dragons had something to talk about.
And so, the Darkness Dragons and Enlil flapped their wings.
Pleasant wind brushed my cheek.
After a while of flying, my heart throbbed loudly and I suddenly felt hot.
I’ve missed this sensation.
“Oto-san, why are you staring at your hand? Is something wrong?”
“…it seems my magic power has finally returned. I can use the powers of [Creation] again.”
“Yay ♪ Kuina’s so glad! You can make amazing things again!”
Contrary to what Rorono might say, it was impossible for her to create something from nothing.
Our production of special chemicals that could be turned into gunpowder and weapon materials were dependent on [Creation] as some of those chemicals—like rare metals—could not be found in this world.
Due to the temporary loss of my magic power, Rorono’s research hasn’t made progress, while our weapon production and explosives production were put to a halt.
Upon the return of my [Creation] though, those would be resumed right away.
“Nice timing too. I’ll now be able to add more cards in my deck for the meeting with the [Black] Demon Lord two days later”
For doing whatever you wished, I will make you pay.