|Author: Kobayashi Homare||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 3530 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1603 words|
After all our hard work, we had managed to drive off all the demons holding the city hostage. Some of the demons had started attacking indiscriminately in the streets once their identities were revealed, but the rest of our team had taken care of that. The priests and spies, who I was the most worried about, had managed to keep the spell up without much issue. There had only been a few demons in the city, and they seemed afraid of fighting against priests, so we had been lucky about that.
Some civilians had gotten hurt, but there were no life-threatening injuries, and they would all recover eventually. The destroyed property and goods could all be repaired with money, so we essentially had a complete victory. Some of our allies fighting in some parts of the city had been mistakenly arrested by the guards who arrived late and confused, but they all got released the next morning.
Luvias had spoken to king Deutro directly, explaining the situation and assuring him that we meant no harm. Once he heard that the heroes he tried sending to a certain death had been the people who worked hard to rescue his grandchildren who were held hostage, he fell on his knees and apologized with his head on the floor. Showing such a humbling display from the king to a hero and adventurers in the throne room would have caused a lot of noise and rumors, but luckily it happened in his own private chambers so it was kept secret from everyone else.
As an apology, he wanted to make the entire incident public, explaining to the entire city what happened that night, but we stopped him. It was bad for the king to divulge information about his family and internal matters, not to mention it would make him sound like an overindulging parent who would send brave warriors to their death for his grandchildren. The number of citizens unhappy with his ruling would increase if he did that, and that would give the demons an easy way to infiltrate again, so he really had to avoid making it public. Instead, we suggested he announce we had been hired to sniff out a guerilla operation by demons in the city.
When the city and the rest of Strom heard that, they cheered our names loudly. They had been ravaged by demons recently, so they rejoiced hearing they had gotten the upper hand for once. They smiled and laughed, long life to the king, long life to the heroes, they chanted. Deutro heard all of it form his high podium, smiling content hearing his country happy.
Deutro wanted to organize a large banquet for everyone who helped with the mission, but we declined and most of us left the city. The priests and spies who maintained the spell had their own jobs to take care of, and they had been away for long enough. Only Bandit and Annero’s parties stayed in the city, meeting the king for the first time and explaining some of the other damage demons had done.
“Seems the priests from this country will get more work soon now. From what I heard, they wanna raise permanent holy barriers on the capital and major cities. I guess we’ll hang around until that is done.”
“Our countries are the farthest from the Haunted Lands after all, keeping watch here is the least we can do.”
Bandit and Annero decided they would stay for longer.
“Alright, we’ll head back home.”
I gathered all my things, and noticed the rest of my party was ready to depart.
“Yup. I know I say this every time, but I really got tired.”
“I feel like Luvias and Diaria had it worse. They each had to fight a demon alone.”
Her hat pulled down on her face, Ciel massaged her shoulder as she spoke. The demons she and Karin had fought were weaker than those Luvias and Diaria encountered, but in exchange they had moved all over the city looking for more fights. That had been exhausting in itself.
“I’m still trying to understand everything that happened.”
“I’ve noticed I’m lacking in many aspects, so Master, please continue training me as soon as we get back.”
Diaria and Luvias looked tired too. They had to evade capture from knights and guards on top of fighting the demons, and the days before they had suffered heavy mental burdens. From what I could see, I had the easiest time out of the bunch. While they all worked hard for the mission to succeed, I had let the most important demon escape, and I could not forgive myself for that. I had ignored it so far, but I was clearly getting rusty. I needed to pull myself together and train in earnest myself too.
(Not to mention…I have no idea what that demon will do with the information he obtained.)
At the very least, I doubted he would spread it a lot. If many people found out that a legendary hero was alive amongst them, it would cause issues for the demons. Something like that could trigger everyone to ignore their differences and band together with me as their leader, and the demons wanted to avoid that. I could see them manipulating a king or someone in power again, trying to use me for whatever they wanted. It was hard to think they would repeat the same plan so soon, but either way I could imagine things getting nasty.
(Even if I try going to kill the Demon King alone…nothing guarantees I’ll succeed. Not to mention that there’s multiple Demon Kings now. If they’re all equally powerful as the one from three hundred years ago, I’ll be tired after defeating one and that’ll give the others an opening to kill me. I’ll really have to gather a powerful force and only then fight them.)
It had been hard enough in the past, and I had no idea if I was still as powerful as back then…though considering my recent failure I obviously was not.
§ § §
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My name is Fuzzura, Master Aprila’s humble servant. I was also part of the team of demons who infiltrated Strom to manipulate them. Our plan was to threaten and take control over their king, Deutro, and make him order the heroes to fight the old idiot Trianf. But somehow the plan was leaked, and before we noticed the city was overrun with heroes, as well as priests casting holy magic over the entire place, ruining the mission.
Usually catastrophic failure like that was punishable by death. We had spent so long growing roots in the city and getting the king to do our bidding, but now only I remained, while all the hostages were freed. In a way, I really had no excuse or reason to complain if Aprila decided to kill me. But as luck would have it, I had obtained very valuable information that could overturn my failure. The hero we thought long gone, Brave, was still alive. He had changed his appearance, but that was him. This news could shake the entire demon world.
“Master Aprila, it’s Fuzzura, I’ve returned.”
The door opened without making a single sound, and beyond it I saw a woman resting on a gorgeous couch, a cup of wine in her hand. She had glistening green hair, and an unequaled beautiful face. Her slender legs and arms did not look trained for battle, but I knew first hand just how powerful she was. She was my master, Aprila.
“That was quick. I left you in charge of the mission in Strom, I hope you have good news.”
I had to gulp loudly before replying.
“The truth is…the mission failed. My deepest apologies.”
I bowed as deeply as I could, but carefully watched her reaction. She remained silent, only drinking from her wine glass until it was empty, then she threw it at me.
The wine glass hit my forehead before shattering. I could not dodge it, lest I wanted to incur even more into her wrath. I was used to bearing a certain amount of abuse.
“So? Do you have any shame returning here after that? Or do you not realize what your punishment will be?”
The moment I raised my head, my body froze feeling her murderous gaze on me, making me stutter on my words. I had felt something similar from Brave in the past, or maybe this was even worse? Regardless, this was not the time to think about that. I had to relay the information I got if I wanted to keep my head attached to my body!
“J-just hear me out, Master Aprila! There’s a serious issue which caused the mission to fail.”
I pleaded desperately, and I felt her gaze soften very slightly. At the very least she was willing to listen. I continued speaking as fast as I could, before her mind changed again.
“We ran into a crazy person in the capital. Brave, the hero who three hundred years ago defeated the old Demon King and split our world, he’s still alive!”
Her murderous gaze vanished soon after that. A strong feeling of relief filled my body and I fell on my knees, breathing deeply. Aprila stood up and walked up to me, lifting my chin up.
“Very interesting. Mind telling me more about that?”
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Somehow I had managed to keep my neck untouched. I thanked my luck as I began relating everything I knew about Brave.