|Author: Kobayashi Homare||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 3321 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1443 words|
My name is Aprila, a Demon King governing over the five fragments of the Haunted Lands. Unlike the other so-called Demon Kings, I dislike using brute force for everything. A more smart and strategic approach fits me better, always making sure everything is as efficient as possible. Currently I had control over the northeast territories, while Trianf was on the southeastern ones. Piagio took over the northwest, and Dukite southwest. The middle was occupied by Agster, the Demon King who recently resurrected. I served him in the past, and respected him deeply back then, fearing his power.
But that was all in the past, centuries ago. Unlike when I was still young, now I was far more powerful than him, and I could easily wipe the floor with him. I doubted he could do much now, returning after his failure being cornered by the hero and almost letting the entire demon world collapse. But that was the least of my concerns now, more importantly, my servant Fuzzura had returned with concerning news, Brave was still alive.
A human hero, who appeared out of nowhere when we demons were about to conquer the entire world. He was a beast, able to use all sorts of magic and weapons, overpowering entire armies of demons and overturning the situation entirely. He killed renown demons one after another, his name spreading through the demons as an entity to be feared. I could not ignore his existence if he was still alive.
I ordered him to speak, and amidst a torrent of cold sweat and flustered words, Fuzzura related his encounter with Brave.
“We succeeded in taking hostages from both civilians and the royal family as per the plan, but Brave and his allies got in the way.”
From what he said, a single girl stormed the mansion he was staying in, and she turned out to be Brave. I knew Fuzzura was a bit dumb, but his skills were top notch, one of the strongest amongst my servants, so I was surprised to hear that a single human, a woman no less, had defeated him. That girl, Lapis, had also defeated Trianf’s Lacus before too, so there was precedent pointing at her being Brave.
“She destroyed my weapons barehanded, when almost no human can stand a chance unarmed. She has to be Brave! The way she looked at me and how she fought, they were identical to Brave’s as well. There’s a chance that Brave trained disciples and passed down his techniques, but I still think it’s unlikely I would run into his disciple after three hundred years.”
He had a point, no matter how much a modern human trained, they would never be able to do something like that. Humans were one of the weaker races out there, elves had stronger magic powers, while dwarves and reptids were physically stronger. Only Brave was an exception to that, and I could not imagine that any human could become like that with mere training.
“I see… If everything you’ve said is true, then Lapis has to be Brave under disguise. Still…why would he do that?”
“T-that’s something I couldn’t figure out…my deepest apologies.”
He bowed idiotically again as he replied. I could not really blame him, he was not bright enough to see through someone who used to be a hero.
“Well, I understand the situation now. Considering who your opponent was, there’s little point in punishing you.”
He looked relieved to have kept his life, smiling happily as he bowed again. But he quickly looked worried again, mostly because I turned a scornful look to him again, as if looking at an insect.
“Don’t misunderstand. I may not punish you now, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgiven your failure. Make sure you work hard to restore my trust in you.”
“O-of course! I’ll do anything you order!”
I watched as he practically rubbed his face on the floor, thinking what kind of mission I would give him next.
“Okay, you’ll go and spy on Lapis from now on then. Figure out why Brave changed his name and appearance, that might become his biggest weakness. The ring I gave you should keep your disguise intact even if a city is under a holy spell. But don’t do anything that stands out, or get too cocky, pretend to be just another human. If you can do that, I’ll forget you ever failed me. But if you fail…”
“I swear! I won’t fail again!”
Feeling my gaze again, Fuzzura turned pale as he swore to complete the mission. I then brushed him away, as if shoo-ing a stray dog, and he ran out of the room faster than when he entered. Maybe I had overdone it a little with the threats.
“Heh…to think that Brave was still alive!”
I still remembered those days of my youth clearly, that fear he instilled that had not vanished fully yet. Back then I had no chance if I tried fighting him, but maybe it would be different now. But I would still avoid having to fight him directly, if there was even a small chance that I could die, I had to avoid that fight.
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“I’ll have to carefully nudge him towards the other Demon Kings. And Trianf should be first.”
My room was devoid of other people again, and under the dim light I went to a cupboard to get another wine glass which I filled. The mellow scent wafting to my nose exhilarated my emotions more. As I took a sip from the red liquid, I smiled to myself. Things had gotten really interesting.
§ § §
The mess in Strom, from the infiltration of demons to the women and children held hostage, had been mostly taken care of, so we headed back to Surfour. Almost everyone thought they could all return to their peaceful lives, but at least my party was not so naive.
“We were lucky things went so well this time, but we don’t know when things might get worse. Master, please train me more!”
“Me too. It was a very close fight for me, so I’d like to be more confident in my skills for next time.”
Luvias and Diaria both had close calls this time, so they wanted to get better. Usually Diaria tried everything she could to avoid training, so to hear her willingly wanting to take part told me just how much danger she had been in. I glanced at the rest of the members, Ciel and Karin looked willing as well. In that case…
“That sounds good…I also let a demon get away myself, so I want to train a bit too. We should take a good rest and then go train together!”
“I’ve never seen Master train, this will be fun!”
“I don’t think any of us has, I wonder how she’ll train.”
“Maybe we’ll get a hint to the secret of her power…”
They looked rather excited for some reason, but I was not planning on doing anything flashy. I just felt like I had been getting too complacent on my skills.
“By the way, do you have any training spots in mind yet?”
Karin tilted her head slightly as she asked that. I began thinking about it, crossing my arms, but in the end I could only think of one place.
“I think the Dragon’s Nest will be good. We won’t have to worry about finding sparring partners there, and just staying there will temper our bodies. It should be the best training spot for us.”
All four of them seemed to disagree. I began getting nervous seeing them react that way.
“L-Lapis…the Dragon’s Nest? You mean that one place, right?”
Somehow Ciel seemed hesitant to get the words out, but I nodded.
“I don’t think there are other places called that, but I’m thinking of the huge sacred mountain in the center of the continent.”
Once they heard that, their concerned faces turned to despair. Karin stayed with her mouth open, Ciel held her head, Luvias remained silent with a frown, while Diaria hugged her stomach and cowered down.
“D-do you seriously want to take us to that place?!”
“We’re too young to die…”
“Mmm…I don’t know what I was expecting…”
“I think I’m getting sick…can I stay home this time?”
“Nah, it’ll be fine! If you want to get stronger, sometimes you have to take risks, don’t worry! I won’t let any of you die!”
Only I was smiling, all of them seemed like they were getting ready to step onto the afterlife.
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