Out of the blue, we were invited by the [Time] Demon Lord to dinner. According to him, the invitation was his thanks both for the feast he attended in Avalon and for our contributions to Fel’s growth.
While those might be true, there was also the matter about our bet. Before the fight between Kuina and Fel began, the [Time] Demon Lord and I bet on whom we thought would win. The winner of our wager was going to get an answer from the loser on whichever question the former wanted to ask.
Naturally, we bet on our own respective daughter.
And so, Kuina and Fel fought. The winner of their match was Kuina, making me the winner of the said bet.
I was of course happy with the outcome, but a small part of me wondered what the [Time] Demon Lord was going to ask if his side was the one to win. Considering that he was the one that proposed that bet, there must have been something he wanted me to answer.
“Oto-san, what did you think of Kuina’s special move? Did you like it?”
After dashing toward me, Kuina asked so while looking up at me. As suggested by her energetically swinging fox tail, she seemed very pleased on her victory over Fel,.
By the way, we were currently in a guest room in the [Time] Demon Lord’s dungeon so that we could wait and rest while their preparations were underway.
“Yeah, it was amazing. I didn’t imagine the move you’ve completed to be that amazing.”
Kuina had produced beautiful, golden red flames. Far from being ordinary flames, they were the very concept of burning. In the fight against Fel, Kuina had used it to burn both light and time, a feat no ordinary flame could do no matter how hot it was.
Kuina had obtained, without a doubt, a terrific power. In terms of offensive capabilities, it was perhaps the strongest among all monsters.
“Kuina worked really hard!”
She then enthusiastically talked of her hardships on learning to use those golden red flames.
Oh. She’s wants to be praised, doesn’t she?
Having grasped what intent, I placed my hand on her head and stroke it gently. Based on her narrowed eyes, she seemed pleased.
Touching her hair and fox ears felt so good to me as well.
“Come closer, Kuina. It’s been a while since we’ve done some brushing.”
There was a bed on the room so I decided to utilize it.
I sat down, tapped on my lap, and beckoned for Kuina to come closer. In response, she jumped onto my lap with her fluffy fox tail wagging.
I grabbed hold of that tail and then used the brush made exclusively for her. That undid tangled-up hairs while also removing dirt and debris that were mixed in. At the same time, it stimulated the pores and improved blood circulation.
It seemed to be making Kuina feel good.
Ordinarily, I would also use high-grade oils and soap, but seeing as there were none readily available at the moment, I decided that brushing was plenty enough.
“Oto-san, it feels, great, ahh, there, yeah, it’s the, best–”
As though she was sleepy, Kuina lazily said so.
Like always, she’s such an adorable child.
And so, I continued on brushing her tail. It was to the point where I entered a trance, as though my whole life’s purpose was to brush Kuina’s tail.
Amidst that, I heard a clink and then a clank.
It was made by Rorono who was also in the room. She was disassembling the EDS-05 Claíomh Solais— Kuina’s shotgun. She analyzed each part thoroughly and then inputted whatever findings she had into her laptop computer. From time to time, she would add notes to the gun’s design.
“Rorono, how’s Claíomh Solais’s condition?”
“Fortunately, it’s mostly as predicted: it has withstood Kuina’s power. I did discover some points for improvement though, thanks to the actual data I’ve gathered. It goes to show that sometimes, you have to see it in action to realize some things.”
Rorono was a perfectionist.
As such, she was fully devoted to eliminating issues and developing improvements for her creations. Any new discoveries she made in one invention, she would apply to the rest if possible.
She was the world’s best alchemist largely due to her latent ability and racial bonuses, true, but it was also largely due to her diligence.
“I’m relieved you didn’t find any defects. That Claíomh Solais you made truly is a masterpiece, Rorono. I hope you continue supporting Kuina.”
It would probably upset Rorono if I put it into words, but I honestly thought that the Claíomh Solais was already the ultimate form a shotgun could attain.
“Yup! It’s far, far easier to use that any shotgun Kuina has used! It’s the best!”
Kuina—whom I thought had dozed off—praised the gun so with her fox ears fully erect. She seems greatly pleased with it, doesn’t she?
“However, that trump card, that [Magic Bullet], its burden on the gun was far greater than what I anticipated. After each time you fire that shell, I’d like you to submit it for maintenance.”
“Rorono-chan, does that mean that after firing a [Magic Bullet], the Claíomh Solais can’t be used again until you’ve done some maintenance?”
Worry apparent on her face, Kuina asked Rorono.
The weak point of her golden red flames was its short range.
To compensate for that weak point, Rorono developed [Magic Bullets] that could be loaded with those flames.
However, if Claíomh Solais could only endure one shot with those bullets, its usability—while still impressive—would drastically diminish.
“No, it won’t be that bad. Doing maintenance is more of a recommendation than an actual need. I think it’ll remain functional even after 3 shots. If by the second shot you notice there’s a drop in performance, the chances of it breaking down by the fourth shot are incredibly high.”
“It’s all good then! Those flames use a lot of magic power, so Kuina can probably shoot at most two!”
Kuina’s magic power was way beyond the norm, and even that description might be an understatement.
For her to be able to use those flames only two times, those flames must indeed consume unbelievable amounts of magic power.
“You say that, but you have the ability to store magic power into the furs of your tail, don’t you? If you really wanted to, you can use those flames a greater number of times.”
“Oh yeah, you did have an ability like that, Kuina.”
Each fur in Kuina’s tail was able to store magic power equal to the magic power of a mage-type B rank monster.
Whenever she was free, she would store her magic power into her furs. That way, she would have some stock for when the going gets rough.
Also, due to its nature of being excellent magic power batteries, Rorono would occasionally pluck some out so that she could use them as materials for her creations, such as the Avalon-Ritters and Aura’s anti-materiel rifle.
“Kuina does have some savings, but Kuina won’t use it! You see, when Kuina leveled up a lot, Kuina gained a new skill! Kuina’s currently a Celestial Fox, but once Kuina’s saved up magic power in 9999 tail furs, Kuina’s gonna become an [Aether Fox]!”
Wait, wait, wait. What was that unbelievable thing she just said? I’ve never heard about monsters changing their race, about them evolving.
“Kuina, this is the first I’m hearing this. It’s a pretty important information, you know?”
“I haven’t told you, Oto-san?”
“Nope, haven’t heard of it.”
In haste, I used my Demon Lord Authority and looked at Kuina’s stats.
When I did, I saw a skill that wasn’t there before. It was perhaps a skill she had obtained when I chose her to be one of my [Monsters of the Covenant].
“[Aether Fox Tribute Ritual]?”
“Yup! The condition for its activation is to use all the magic power stored in 9999 furs of Kuina’s tail! And that’s why Kuina’s saving up!”
If she turned into an Aether Fox, her strength would increase tremendously.
According to the entry in [Planet’s Memory] that I just searched, a Wild Fox could ascend into a Mythological Fox, a Mythological Fox into a Nine-tailed Fox, and then into a Celestial Fox. And then, there was the case of a Celestial Fox being reborn into an Aether Fox.
An Aether Fox was no longer just a monster; it was a being that has ascended into godhood.
“…so, you’ll grow even stronger, huh? I’m looking forward to that.”
As to be expected of a top-tier monster born from 3 A rank medals: nothing but greatness.
“By the way, how many tail furs have you filled with magic power so far?”
“50! There’s still a long way to go!”
“I’ll wait for it patiently, then.”
Just as Kuina said, it would take a long time before she could fulfill the requirement.
For the meantime, all I could do is wait, so I’ll do just that… then again, there might be something else we can do hasten the process of saving for magic power.
And so, I decided to actively cooperate. After all, it would make my already powerful trump card even stronger.
After a while, we were summoned by the [Time] Demon Lord, so we moved to the room he was in.
There, lined up in the long the table were countless cuisines. It was just like the [Time] Demon Lord to prepare such a feast, but if it was some strange Demon Lord, I would have assumed they were doing a joke that some nobles loved to pull.
“Oto-san, the food looks delicious!”
“Yes, but for some reason, it feels like I’ve seen these ingredients and dishes before.”
Kuina and Rorono had different reactions.
I knew what Rorono meant, and apparently, the [Time] Demon Lord did too since he spoke to explain.
“I guess it’s natural you’ve noticed. These ingredients were bought by my monsters from Avalon. Avalon sure is great, isn’t it? But then again, because it has everything, it’s very easy to unintentionally buy too much.”
Many high-class Demon Lords enjoyed human culture, so they always had currencies that humans use at the ready. These were typically from the money and equipment left behind by adventurers who had died within their dungeon.
“Dantalian, thank you for becoming a valued client of our city.”
“I’m just using something that’s useful. But do expect my continued patronage.”
At that, we both laughed.
Taking another look around, I saw that his monsters had already taken their seats. By his monsters, I meant Fel and the [Chronos Knights] in humanoid form.
As soon as Fel and I locked eyes, she beckoned me to come closer and then tapped on the vacant seat beside her as though she wanted me to sit there.
I wanted to humor her, but I also wanted to be discreet in front of the [Time] Demon Lord, given that incident with her before.
“What’s wrong, Procell? You can sit besides Fel if you want to.”
“Is it really alright?”
“Yeah. So long as you don’t cross the line, I have no complaints. If she’s happy, I’m happy as well. Or is it that you’re concerned about your monsters? Do you want to be seated near your monsters too?”
After pondering for a bit, the [Time] Demon Lord spoke again.
“Fel, why don’t you move to the other side? That way, Procell can sit near Kuina and the Elder Dwarf as well.”
I had noticed it before, but maybe he was actually the type to be considerate of others.
And so, Fel approached and then embraced me. Her wolf tail was wagging in delight.
“Uuuu… Fel-chan, Oto-san is Kuina’s Oto-san!”
“But he’s also Fel’s master!”
It was adorable watching the two glare at each other.
As though he felt the same, Dantalian, chuckled a bit before speaking again.
“Well then, let’s eat. Our head chef is a monster, but he’s quite skilled in cooking.”
“I can tell just by looking.”
Everything seemed delicious. From the fragrant smell, I was eagerly looking forward to each dish’s taste.
And thus, the impromptu feast began.
The dinner, mixed in with idle chatting, was fun.
I ate such fancy cuisines only occasionally, so the dinner was refreshing too.
I typically ate Aura’s delicious home cooking and food from bars and cheap restaurants, unless there was a special occasion or something. It wasn’t that I had no money, it’s more that I didn’t have much time. After all, fancy dishes tended to take a lot of time to be cooked and to be eaten.
After finishing our desserts, a special drink was brought out. It was a drink made from cocoa which was the latest trend spreading in Avalon.
As to be expected of the [Time] Demon Lord, he truly had discerning eyes.
Cocoa was just recently imported from a country across the sea. The plan was to make it one of Avalon’s flagship products.
I had no doubts that this drink and chocolate, which was made from cocoa, would be hot sellers.
By having a monopoly to those products, we would be able to attract and gather humans from all over the continent even more.
“Well then, Procell, I think it’s time to conclude our bet. So, ask whatever it is you want to ask. On my title as the [Time] Demon Lord, I would answer without any falsehoods.”
His demeanor and facial expressions were calm and composed, and yet the atmosphere changed suddenly, thus ending the idle chat around the table.
It was the majesty of a truly great Demon Lord, a quality which neither I nor the [Black] Demon Lord possessed.
“I want you to tell me about the [Black] Demon Lord. You’ve once expressly warned me to not underestimate him. I’d like to hear your exact reason as to why.”
The [Time] Demon Lord crossed his arms and pondered for a while before giving an answer.
“Hmm, let’s see, how do I put it? You’re aware that—save for some exceptions—the more versatile a Demon Lord’s abilities are, the weaker its effects tended to be, yes? Conversely, the more specialized one’s abilities are, the stronger its effects tended to be. Let’s take Marcho’s [Beast] as an example, shall we? Other than strengthening her body’s capabilities, it held no other functions and almost no use outside of combat. On the other hand, it’s safe to say that there’s no Demon Lord that could go toe to toe with her in direct combat.”
Even I was aware of what he just explained.
“The [Black] Demon Lord’s abilities fall under the versatile type. However, one of his abilities is much, much stronger than the rest. It’s actually enough for me to be wary of him and avoid any confrontations. What it does is…”
The [Time] Demon Lord continued and explained to me what that ability was.
“I see. Hence, the silver watch?”
The [Time] Demon Lord had once given me a silver watch as a reward. It wasn’t any ordinary silver watch though; it was actually a magic tool of the highest order for it contained within it his own abilities.
“I hope you’re not so naïve as to think that that much will be enough. If it was, I, the owner of the abilities held within, wouldn’t be so wary of that man. However, I do think it will lead to a breakthrough. Now then, I look forward to your display of skill.”
The [Time] Demon Lord said so and then laughed.
Without any doubts, he had provided me with valuable information. Had I not been I aware of this knowledge, I would have certainly been taken out without any sort of resistance.
So, this is what it’s like to fight with old Demon Lords.
“Thank you. It’s thanks to this information that I have any chance of winning.”
“No need to thank me. I am just honoring our bet.”
After that, we returned to idle chatter.
In a round about manner, the [Time] Demon Lord asked me about Marcho. Looking at him while he asked so made me giggle a bit.
I guess we should have another feast with everyone, Marcho included.
While thinking of such, I thanked the [Time] Demon Lord again and then departed.
Now that I knew the enemy’s hand, it was possible to make the necessary precautions and counter-measures. Of course, the enemy could very well be doing the same.
Alright, we’re now on equal footing. The real fight begins now.