|Author: Kobayashi Homare||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 2348 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1073 words|
He laughed vacantly after saying that. Usually it would get passed off as a mere joke, but it was hard to laugh about it knowing his palace was currently infiltrated by demons. Eventually we came out to an open space, with a flowerbed and a small fountain. The roof was open, letting the sun and blue sky pass through together with a soft breeze. There was a table placed in the center, so this was presumably a garden for the royal family’s use. The table already held some cups and snacks, and a group of maids and knights stood on one side. Apparently the king wanted us to talk here.
“Sit down, please. My house is yours, eat as much as you like.”
Even though he spoke like he wanted us to be the most comfortable, he was still the first one to pick up a cup of black tea and he emptied it in one gulp. He then signaled one of the maids to refill it.
“To be honest…there’s something I wanted to ask from you.”
“A favor then? What kind?”
“Mm…it’s a bit complicated to really explain…”
His gaze kept shifting, showing just how distressed and guilty he felt. His brow was drenched in sweat, even though he had barely moved other than walking here, and his hands were trembling. Eventually he collected himself and focused his eyes on us to continue speaking.
“I want you two to go into the Haunted Lands. I want you to defeat the Demon King that caused so much harm to my country.”
I was not the only one who felt like the air suddenly became heavy, making it hard to breathe and move. We were anticipating he would say something like that, but hearing it from his mouth still felt different. Sending us to kill a Demon King…it was far easier said than done. Someone with half baked skills would quickly die to the small monsters loitering there, and those who could survive against those could still be easily taken down by the demons. In a way, he was asking us to go and die.
I was still nothing compared to Master, but as someone known as a Hero I knew one day I would have to enter the Haunted Lands and kill the Demon Kings, and if anyone needed help I would swing my sword without hesitation. But if I gave a direct reply now, our strategy would get ruined, so I had to act more unsure.
“That’s…a bit sudden.”
“I know I’m asking for a lot. But my people are afraid, they can’t live without thinking demons might attack at any moment. It’s vexing to see, but I don’t have the power to do anything about it. If I was young like you I would take my own sword and go fight, but I’m far too old for that now. I know it’s a shameless request, but please, can you help my country?”
He lowered his head begging for my help, which almost made me instinctively agree, but Diaria elbowed my side to stop me. I was unable to breathe properly for a second, but that helped me rearrange my thoughts, and after a deep breath I looked at him again.
“Your Majesty, please raise your head. I understand how you feel, but my party isn’t here with me, so I can’t make any decision yet. We have to discuss everything and make choices together to be a functional group.”
“I’m sorry, we agreed that we would always take votes whenever deciding something.”
“Ah, I see. My apologies, I didn’t mean to rush you like that. It’s just…”
He was not willing to give up, but before he could decide on his next words, I decided to interrupt him.
“Your Majesty, may I ask a question? I understand Strom is currently vulnerable to the Haunted Lands, but why rush taking the Demon King’s head? Bordaule and most other countries are currently lending their help to rebuild Strom and restore some security, would it not be wiser to prioritize that?”
“I…I know. But it has to be this way, I want the heroes to go kill the Demon King first.”
He stammered as he declared that. He was sounding more and more suspicious with each sentence, but he was too flustered to notice.
“Excuse my brashness, but why exactly is that..?”
“It-it doesn’t matter! If you need to talk with your party, then please call them here as quickly as possible. You two can stay in the palace until they arrive. I’m sorry but my health is acting up again, you’ll have to excuse me.”
He forcefully tried to avoid any more questions from us, and before we could reply he stood up and left with his knights. Usually the host who invited guests is the last person to leave a meeting, doing otherwise is considered one of the rudest acts possible, but knowing his situation I could not blame him.
“…We couldn’t really do much there, huh.”
“Yeah, I guess that’s how tight their grip on him is. Having us stay here to call the rest might be a facade to feed us drugs or use magic to force us into making a choice.”
When I mentioned that possibility, Diaria, who held a cup of tea to her lips, slammed it on the table and covered her mouth.
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“Drugs..? Are you sure about that?!”
“It’s always a possibility. You can never know what someone who’s cornered like that might do. Even something that might sound too ridiculous can happen. When you’re falling you tend to cling onto anything no matter how dangerous.”
“Oh man…that’s so scaryy!”
Considering what he said before he left, the king would probably stop us if we tried to leave, but on the other hand now we had a way to freely investigate the palace. It was hard to say how much we could find out in the handful of days before the plan started, but it was worth checking the palace out.
“Let’s start by observing all the maids in the palace.”
“Sounds good. I’ll also check how the spirits are doing around here.”
The maids and knights had already left, so we also put that place behind us and began checking out different parts of the palace.