The [Black] Demon Lord, caged by Ruru’s water prison, looked at us with eyes full of hatred.
“It seems you’ve splendidly turned the tables on me.”
The [Black] Demon Lord had blown up the entire building “I” was in. This resulted to multiple collateral damage including the members of the royal family I was meeting with at the moment.
The attack used was a ceremonial magic prepared way beforehand.
By gathering as many of his followers in the three churches he had in the Axela capital, making them and his angel-type monsters pray a certain prayer, and gathering the required magic power from the many believers, they were able to ready and fire such a magic attack.
Even when on guard, we shouldn’t have seen it coming. And yet we had.
There were actually many things that tipped us off.
Aura—who had been to the capital before—had known of the existence of the ceremonial magic, for one. Couple that with the unusually high number of humans gathering in the churches of the Rigdolg Faith that day, it was almost certain.
The question then was where and when that magic would be activated. If I was in his shoes, I would aim for when the target would least expect it. Like that, we had expected the unexpected.
“You’re a far better actor than I thought. You fooled even a great Demon Lord such as myself.”
“It’s not that they acted like they knew nothing, it’s that they actually didn’t know anything.”
We knew his source of information was the humans, but we didn’t know how information was leaking to them. Given that, we moved forward assuming we were always being watched. For that reason and to be more convincing, the bait we used was a version of myself and Kuina that didn’t know anything.
“You see, the one you targeted weren’t the real us. They were illusions of us.”
To be more precise, they were copies made by Stolas’s [Omnipresence].
Quite a bit earlier, these copies changed places with Kuina, me, and the royal family. The copies themselves were left unaware of this switch, so they really thought that they were the real ones.
By the way, since they were copies made by [Omnipresence], their capabilities were all lowered. So, because her golden red flames became imperfect and her [All Magic Nullification] became weaker, the copy Kuina wasn’t able to defend against the ceremonial magic. Had it been the real her though, she would have withstood even that attack.
“So, it seems you’ve outsmarted me. One question then: why am I still alive? If it was me, I would have ordered that elf to blow the enemy’s head off. It’s rare for me myself to go to the battlefield, you know? And outsmarting me like this is rarer still. You won’t get another chance like this.”
Just as he said, a chance like this didn’t come often. The only reason he showed up today was to ensure that I would turn. Unless he himself was nearby, he couldn’t dye his target’s heart black and control them.
Of course, there was the option to capture me first and then turn me later, but that carried the risk of me being rescued on the way.
“I can kill you at any time. But first, some people that want to talk to you.”
“Hmp, what a trivial reason. First of all, don’t think you’ve won already… remember, this is my backyard.”
Right when he finished saying so, countless humans appeared in our surroundings.
Each one was most probably on par with an A rank monster. Most likely, they were artificially made heroes.
“Oh, is that so? Well, sorry to break it to you, but this place is also my backyard.”
When I snapped my fingers, ten gigantic silhouettes rained down from the sky and caused a thunderous sound when they landed.
When the dust settled, it became clear that the silhouettes were Avalon’s prized, tide-turning weapon–the Avalon-Ritters.
Equipped with an improved [Burst Drive] System, they could match an S rank monster even though it was only for a short moment.
They were a war potential that could take on not only the artificial heroes, but also the [Black] Demon Lord’s monsters that were lurking nearby.
“Oh no, Procell’s elite golems. Whatever shall I do?”
He sarcastically said so and then laughed.
“Balam, let’s be at each other’s throats later; I have a little show prepared for you.”
Hearing me say his cue, the king of the Axela Kingdom walked closer to the [Black] Demon Lord and spoke.
“Balam-dono, we thought we were getting along well, being helpful to each other… but why did you deliberately get us caught in the cross-fire? If it were not for Procell-dono’s plan, we all would have been killed.”
Right in front of the king, the [Black] Demon Lord sneered.
“It was time to discard cards, so I discarded what I should, what I didn’t need. Just what else do you think you are other than a mere pawn? Do you dare think you, a human, and me, a Demon Lord, are equals? King or no, a human is nothing more than livestock to me!”
Perhaps due to desperation, the [Black] Demon Lord was speaking frankly.
Or could this be arrogance brought by having a means to escape?
“I get what you’re saying, [Black] Demon Lord. So much so, I think everyone should know your thoughts as well. And so, let the show begin.”
The preparations were done; all that’s left was to begin.
And so, I retrieved and operated a small camera with an audio capturing mechanism. I had made such devices before, but they served little to no purpose within a dungeon, given that dungeon rooms and floors were each on a separate dimension and that only devices with certain magic could function between dungeon rooms as well as floors.
In this instance though, by transmitting whatever it had captured to the proper audience, it was doing wonders.
“Wha—what is this!? Is this your doing, Procell!?”
“But of course. I thought it would be best to reveal the true face of their exalted god”
Being displayed in the sky was the recording of the [Black] Demon Lord showing his ugly side: comparing humans to livestock and dismissing even the royal family as mere pawns. He had also repeatedly referred to himself as a Demon Lord.
To be more precise, we were using the [Divine Revelation]. I had sent the recorded video to the Dwarf Smiths that were on standby in another location. They then edited those recordings into the more streamlined version being displayed.
At any rate, this was sure to lower the faith of his believers.
His fanatics might not fall for it, but it should be enough for the regular believers.
This worked in favor of making the citizens of this city hate and hopefully abandon him and his Rigdolg Faith. Which would then eventually lead to the spread of my Holy Grail Faith.
“Master, I’ve been observing the city with my wind. Everyone seems to be in a daze. Except for some believers of the Rigdolg Faith, that is. They seem to going half mad.”
As expected, the impact of the transmission was great. Having information distribution abilities and persuasiveness unlike anything else in this world, this thing that Rorono made was truly amazing.
In just one moment, everyone in the capital knew of the [Black] Demon Lord’s cruelty and true nature.
Alright, time for the final blow.
“And now, his majesty would like to make a speech.”
I said so and then pointed the camera and mic to the king.
Right away, the video in the sky shifted from the [Black] Demon Lord to the king. At that, many of the capital’s citizens were surprised.
“My beloved countrymen, I imagine you all surprised at what you are seeing in the sky. This is the work done by the Holy Grail Faith. Through a mysterious method, I am able to send my form and voice to all of you at once. As for why I am commissioning their help, it’s because I have something that I would like to tell you all.”
Right after saying those words, the king took a pause. As expected of a king, he had a way with words.
“For so long, we have followed the Rigdolg Faith as our state religion. For so long, we have revered its god, Balam-sam—no, just Balam is more than enough. When in fact, he sees each and every one of us as livestock and usable pawns. He will kill us all—even nobles and royalty—if it fits his liking. I think such a being does not deserve to be called a god, but rather a demon! And I cannot let such a demon control our lives any further. So, from this day forth, I, as the king of the Axela Kingdom, hereby declare our separation from the Rigdolg Faith!”
I didn’t expect the king to go so far in his speech. I thought he was just going to assert his rule while still utilizing the Rigdolg Faith’s ability to unite his people.
Instead, he separated from them, even at the risk of making enemies out of them. But then again, if one ever wanted to break ties with royalty, attempting to murder them should be on the top of the list.
After the king’s speech, the [Divine Revelation] ended, and the [Black] Demon Lord, who had remained silent all that while, spoke.
“So, the reason you didn’t kill me right away was so that you can draw such ill remarks from me. You’ve done it now, you little shit.”
“Well, I’m not done yet, actually. Did you really think it will end after just one city?”
We had gathered enough materials.
After some refinement, we could produce an even more shocking video that would be enough to bring his influence to the gutter. In an information war, this video was going to be far more persuasive than any rumor I could spread. After all, his own face and voice was going to be in it. At the very least, it was going to sow doubt into the hearts of the humans.
“I won’t let it end like this. Procell, I am going to make you pay for your crimes.”
Those words of his served as the cue for the artificial heroes to take action, launching their attacks all at once.
“Kuina, protect me. Aura, take the royal family and withdraw from here.”
Hearing my command, Kuina readied her shotgun.
Meanwhile, Aura took the royal family into a carriage, told the driver to go, and served as its escort.
And then, I issued out one more command.
“Ruru, kill that scum.”
“Leave it to me, patron.”
Ruru extended a hand forward and then closed it tight into a fist.
Right when she did, the water cage holding the [Black] Demon Lord collapsed inward, compressing itself and all within it. The water cage became the size of a sugar cube. A bloody sugar cube.
“Sorry, patron, he escaped. His flesh has been crushed, but somehow, his soul was pulled elsewhere.”
“I was told his abilities were very versatile, but I didn’t think he could do even this.”
Inferring from what Ruru said, it seemed like that by dying, the [Black] Demon Lord’s ability activated and his soul was transferred into another body. In my opinion, there was no way the [Black] Demon Lord would be in perfect condition after that. And since it was such a risky move, the place he transferred to shouldn’t be too far.
As if to prove my guess, even though there was such a vast difference between our forces, the angel-type monsters were swooping down from the sky to aid the artificial heroes instead of withdrawing. The fact that they weren’t pulling back suggested they were doing their best to grab our attention so that the [Black] Demon Lord could fully escape.
When I was thinking of such things, I felt something from my shadow.
“You have a lot of nerve to do this, Procell. No other idiot has ever sullied my reputation like this.”
He’s sending his voice through my shadow? Talk about versatility.
“Well, I did say before that I hated you, didn’t I? In the first place, wasn’t it you that started this all by harassing me?”
He was the first one to escalate things by sending his believers to Avalon. Someone like that shouldn’t issue any complaints.
“…don’t you have any respect for your seniors?”
“I do. You’re just not worth it.”
Who would respect such scum?
For a moment there, his voice stopped. Most likely, he had distanced himself far away enough that his voice didn’t reach me through my shadow.
“No more half measures. We’ve come this far, let’s see this to the end… until either one of us falls, Procell.”
“Fine by me.”
It was practically a declaration of war. He was going to start attacking seriously from now on. If so, I had a proposal in mind.
“[Black] Demon Lord Balam, we could both do without the escalation of harassments. So, why don’t we settle this like the Demon Lords that we are: through [War]. Or are you scared? Are you only good at scheming things and not in head-on battles?”
“What a poor provocation, but I’ll play along. However, I would be the one to decide when it will be held. And I say we do it nine days later. The winner will be the one to destroy the other’s crystal… wait. You’re a new Demon Lord and would have your crystal replaced if it’s broken within the year. That doesn’t sound fair, does it? So, as an additional condition, if I win, you shall serve me for the rest of your life.”
“That seems disadvantageous to me. In that case, I’ll add a condition of my own. How about this?”
And so, I laid a trap. The best part was I knew he would accept.
“Very well. In 9 days, we would have our [War].”
Once a [War] had begun, there was no going back. After all, we couldn’t exit the white space our dungeons were going to be transported to.
After we both agreed to the terms, I heard a voice in my head. It belonged to the Creator.
<<Due to the [Creation] Demon Lord accepting the [Black] Demon Lord’s proposal, the [War] between them shall be held 9 days later. Shine brightly, Children of the Planet.>>
When I looked at my surroundings, the angel-type monsters and artificial heroes that didn’t leave were hunted down. In the end, the only ones left standing were Kuina and the Avalon-Ritters.
“Oto-san, Kuina contributed a lot!”
I praised her so and brushed her head. While I did that, I also wondered how stronger I could get within nine days.
The [War] being nine days away was most likely not a random choice. After all, it was just enough to deny me of making a new [Creation] medal. It seemed like he actually knew that detail.
“Normally speaking, it won’t be in time. Normally, that is… but if he does know things about me, he would know that my weakness is the other dimension and exploit it.”
For things on the other dimension, I primarily relied on just Ruru. And though she was strong, she was more geared toward intelligence gathering than battle. Moreover, she couldn’t use her trump card anymore. Since if ever she did, her body, along with her mind, would transform into something else—something grotesque—and never revert back. I just couldn’t let that happen to her.
He’s surely going for that. And because of that, I could catch him off guard using the reward from my previous [War]. At any rate, I should return to Avalon and prepare as soon as possible. The [Black] Demon Lord is a formidable enemy. I have to do my best to prepare in the short span of nine days in order to win.
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