Chapter 3 – The Day Cherry Blossoms Fall
▯The King of Peasants, Rank 71st, Dantalian
Empire Calendar: Year 1506, Month 4, Day 7
Bruno Plains, Army of the Crescent Alliance, Simple Prison
In the middle of the night.
“This young lady has brought commemorative gifts, Lord. A lot of them.”
The gift that Farnese brought while saying that, the very first gift that the girl who had just turned 17, an age where it would only be appropriate for a girl to emanate a freshly sprouted feeling, gave to me, the person who was an existence which was closest to that of her father, was not something adorable like pocket money nor was it a traditional hand-written letter, it was simply a mountain of what appeared to be hundreds of human skulls.
Furthermore, they were skulls that had pieces of flesh still attached to them.
“This is a knight from Brittany. This here is the ringleader of the most successful free company in the imperial army of Francia. That individual, who this young lady obtained information about after having tortured prisoners, seems to have had quite the reputation. And this here is the brigade commander that is rather well-known in the Republic of Batavia······.”
With a face void of emotions, however, as if she were a child who had returned from her very first overseas trip and had brought souvenirs for her family members, Farnese displayed the skulls and presented them one at a time. She was able to differentiate them quite well. Although they all looked the same in my eyes and were heads that I wished she would put aside a little, for some reason, it seems in Farnese’s eyes it was as if there were colorful nametags attached to each and every head.
“I see. I understand well that you have a sexual orientation that has an incredibly eccentric and academical value in researching. Therefore, can you get rid of all those in an orderly fashion before I end up vomiting? I am much too normal to accept your preferences in their entirety.”
“Wait a second, Lord. This young lady has yet to reveal the real present. Be overjoyed. No matter how vast this universe may be, the only girl who would possibly gift Your Lordship with a commemorative gift is this young lady. This young lady is unsure, but would it not be because Your Lordship had done an incredibly good act during your past life?”
Farnese behaved pompously.
It was seriously a bit annoying.
Just who exactly does this child take after in order for her to act like that?
If she behaves like that, regardless of whether she’s pretty or not, I’m curious as to whether a man would ever be interested in her. Please do not live while only sticking to my side, you fool. I don’t have a hobby of living while a high-performance psychopath is occupying a corner of my home.
“Okay. In any case, that mind of yours, that wishes to not only give me the news of victory but give me a gift as well, is indeed commendable. So, what exactly is the real present?”
Farnese spread out her arms while making a ‘Tadah’ sound effect with her own tongue(I’ll add the fact that the action seriously didn’t suit her).
“Among these, this young lady shall permanently gift to Your Lordship the skull that you especially like. How is that? Is Your Lordship not so moved that you wish to build a library exclusively for this young lady?”
“I do not need it at all!”
I roared and stood up in order to press down on the crown of Farnese’s head. However, I realized that it was impossible. Regretfully, there were iron bars placed between Farnese and myself, moreover, there was also a fair distance between us. My body was obstructed by the cold iron bars with a clank.
“Did you come here while bringing something like that in a bundle as your first gift to your sublime lord? If you only consider the number of lessons I have given you, then the lecture fees alone would have been enough to build a temple. Come here and be hit a little.”
“······Surely, is Your Lordship not satisfied with these skulls? How troubling. These are excellent-quality goods which this young lady had handpicked sternly. But do not worry. Does Your Lordship think that this young lady did not consider Your Lordship’s fastidious sense of beauty? Knowing this.”
Farnese clapped her hands.
The moment she did so, soldiers approached while pulling along with them wheelbarrows. Surprisingly, the wheelbarrows were filled to the brim with human skulls. Although the rain had stopped, the sky had the same darkness as before so my sense of vision was limited, I could see a line of wheelbarrows, that reached the very bottom of the hill, heading up towards where we were. Farnese gallantly placed her hands on her hips and declared.
“This young lady collected anything that was a corpse on the battlefield and took only their heads. Now then, Lord. Please appreciate them leisurely until Your Lordship is able to find a head that suits your taste.”
“Like I said, please escape from the idea of gifting a skull to another person, you imbecile!”
This fellow was not right······. Seriously, she was really wrong······.
Farnese tilted her head and muttered, how strange, how could His Lordship dislike this amazing work of art. It appeared as if she was truly surprised.
To Farnese, art meant the moment when life and death flickered brightly. In that regard, the expressions made by the corpses on the battlefield must have been the pinnacle of art to her. Although I did not fail to understand that peculiar logic, I just did not have the amount of leniency needed to passively consent to it.
I let out a sigh.
“Are you jealous?”
“Mm? What does Your Lordship mean?”
“Different to you, the faces that can show expressions freely, I am asking whether you were that jealous of the people who were born normally and ordinarily free.”
In the distance, a flame was burning and crumbling. We were going to war while burning the corpses. The floating ashes flew around as if salting the sky, and going against that, black smoke rose upwards. Occasionally, the prisoners, who had yet to die and were latching onto their life strings for as long as they could, were slashed down and killed by our soldiers personally. Crackle crackle······ ah, aaack······ Each time the flames surged upwards, death throes could be heard with a slight delay.
Farnese put those screams behind her and stared vacantly at me. Her emotions were faint. When people say that the temperature of a person’s gaze matches that of their heart, then it felt as if Farnese did not even have anything known as temperature.
“I can guess the reason why you are unable to make expressions well. The more you made various facial expressions, the more your father must have gotten worked up. So you, as a type of self-defense, must have decided to get rid of something like expressions completely, similar to how a forest bug throws away its own intrinsic colors and hides within the woods.”
“Farnese, if that is the case, then that is something which you have decided. No matter how cruel or unfair it may be, as it is something that you have gone through personally, in the end, it is something which only you can solve. Even if you were to collect tens of thousands of corpses that possess expressions, the day your rage and scars are relieved will never come.”
“This young lady does not understand, Lord.”
Farnese spoke calmly.
“Your Lordship, you told this young lady on that day within the snowing pine forest. You told this young lady to kill everything which blocks her path, regardless of whatever it may be, to not be afraid, to not be restrained by the things which are not this young lady’s responsibilities, and to cut down everything that tries to restrain her. Your Lordship had told this young lady that if she cuts them down, then in that place is where this young lady’s life will be. Why is Your Lordship now advising this young lady to stop taking the heads of the enemies?”
With her finger, Farnese curled her side hair. It was a habit she showed whenever she fell into deep thought.
“Was this young lady’s treatment too cruel? War is already sufficiently cruel. Are this young lady’s methods too wicked? There is nothing more foolish than discussing one’s duties on a battlefield. Or perhaps, is it because a compassion, which does not befit Your Lordship, has surged······.”
“I told you to kill the things which obstruct you.”
I cut her words.
Although she has become eloquent due to having received education in rhetorics from both myself and Lapis, she still decisively lacked the ability to go against me.
“The thing that is obstructing you is not something like these skulls. Look carefully. Is the thing which impedes your path, not your own past?”
Farnese became silent.
As if the girl, who had slaughtered at the very least several thousands and at the very most ten thousand today, was being blocked by an invisible wall, she stood in place without being able to move an inch.
“Although this young lady does not want to admit it.”
By the time Farnese was barely able to open her lips, the sky had already become evidently dark and several torches were lit throughout the military encampment.
“Your Lordship is correct. Although this young lady was able to break free from the point where this young lady had deluded herself into believing that the sound of the snow was the cries of cicadas, this young lady is still bound by the chains of the past. And this young lady is unable to control that with her own will.”
Rather than words, Farnese’s utterance was closer to that of a small sigh.
“Whenever there is a face that is showing emotions before this young lady’s eyes, this young lady wishes to lacerate it with a sword. If there is a face that curses at this young lady among them, then this young lady wishes to display that face after having lacerated it. By doing so, this young lady wishes to savor the feeling of life by relishing in the fact that they are dead and this young lady is alive. What should this young lady do? What must this young lady do in order to change this?”
Farnese lowered her gaze to the ground.
This child was most likely pacing back and forth in her mind since she was unsure of what to do. She knew what she had to fix, but she did not know how to fix it.
However, that alone was already a large step.
Until just recently, Farnese was a mass of traumas. She had denied the fact that she was subjected to violence by her own father, she disguised the fact as a lie while not altering her facial expression even once, and she would only speak about her suppressed scars when she was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In comparison to those days, has Farnese not become much more mature?
Lapis said that Farnese was dangerous. I told Lapis that I would take responsibility and requested of her to leave it to me and wait patiently. While imprisoned in this cage and gazing at Farnese on the other side of the iron bars, I ascertained once more that my judgment at that time was not incorrect.
“I was the same as you.”
Now, it was no longer the time to dig but the time to lead.
“There was a father-like existence within my life as well. Moreover, in terms of filthy personalities, he was perhaps equal or worse than your father, never could he be considered less. My life was ruined because of that man.”
“······Your Lordship, as well?”
“That is so.”
I am able to confess since I have personally experienced imprisonment now. The answer of who’s the easiest person in the world to put in prison. It was my father. This was not a joke.
For starters, there were no two ways about the fact that my father was a beast that deserved to die. I was certain of this since my mother, who had loved him and loved him more until she finally loved even his innards, had tried to kill him.
Except, regardless of whether he was killed or not, until that day arrived, there was a lot of things I absolutely had to take. Even while my father was raising me, there had never been a day where I had starved. Was that alone not something to honestly be grateful for? Although I was raised by a dog-like father and grew up to be a son of a bitch, I was, fortunately, an honest human. I had no other choice but to acknowledge the reality that he had somewhat accomplished his duty as a father because of the mere fact that I had never starved ever since I was born.
That was why, instead of ending his life, I decided to be satisfied with just dropping his life into a bottomless pit. The fellows who are known as mercy and tolerance, as they call it. It turns out that even I was quite the gentle and dutiful son.
The method was simple.
I secretly sent in minors to the swap parties my father would often hold at his favorite villa. That was so. Even though he possessed four or five wives, he still enjoyed promiscuous sexual relations. Was he not deranged? There was no way someone could not show respect towards that exuberant sexual appetite. I believed that it was quite the waste that only I knew about my father’s personality, so accordingly, I had earnestly set up scarecrows known as whistle-blowers and secured evidence.
There wasn’t even a need for me to go out of my way to start an incident myself. Even in the places where I had no hand in, my father flirted with a lot of women. Among them, a small sexual harassment scandal occurred in a place that was unrelated to me. Truly consistently, it was another high school girl⎯⎯⎯⎯there was a reason why I would assert that lolita complex was a mental disease time and time again⎯⎯⎯⎯while being aghast, I poured the fuel, which I had gathered until then, into the incident that had ignited naturally. Even though I referred to it as fuel, it wasn’t anything special. I simply called them over quietly and said a couple of words to them.
⎯⎯ Young Master, why do we have to secretly install a camera here?
I told them that they didn’t need to know.
⎯⎯ Uh. I-Is this really okay······? Can I also trust that you’ll really give me a proper reward once this is over?
I intimidated them to silently believe in me.
⎯⎯ We’ve called together all of the defense counsels, Young Master. Do not worry. Even if the video were to be leaked, the situation in which the chairman’s family is also harmed will not happen. The fact that a high school student was involved is only a small obstacle, we will do whatever······ Pardon? Are you telling us to leave it be? But······?
If they had a complaint, then I told them to complain.
Making them unaware of the things which they had the right to know, making them have no other choice but to believe the thing which they wished to believe, and making them do the things which they must not do. Authority was originally something like that and I had a sufficient amount of authority.
I smiled towards them and spoke. ‘Why aren’t you responding?’. They all gulped and answered me, who was the successor of the company.
⎯⎯ Yes, understood······.
⎯⎯ As you wish.
The time to hunt had arrived.
When a lion hunts a deer, they do not become intoxicated by the distant fragrance of blood just because they had already tasted the blood of a deer’s neck once.
Even after my father was imprisoned and I had instantly purged all of his close aids, I remained vigilant. I intercepted information and distorted them. His whistle-blowers were unceasing and for some reason, genuine reporters abruptly started to surge from the rotten press. Aha, if it was like this then it couldn’t be helped so I ended up only shrugging.
Stay in prison forever.
That was my final wish and my father more than gladly complied to that small hope of mine.
It became so, consequently.
Four days later, my father died due to a heart attack.
I looked up towards the sky that had stopped raining. The vapor refused to dissipate, and instead, chillingly seeped into the earth. Farnese was silently staring at me who was in that state.
“Farnese. I may have succeeded overall, but I committed a mistake at the most vital moment. Although I prevailed in imprisoning that man, I could not possibly expect that he would die due to a chronic disease within four days.”
Four days, barely four days.
A time that was much too short to repay him for the resentment that had piled up throughout my entire life.
A mere four days.
I, who had run out immediately after hearing the news of my father’s sudden death, was devastated. Even as I was reading the note that he had supposedly written as a will, only a single thought was going through my head. The thought that this human, this butcher-like bastard, this unequaled venomous snake among venomous snakes, had seen through my entire plan and purposely used a chronic disease as an excuse to commit suicide.
I was unsure how my plan was uncovered. He most likely figured it out with his intuition. He was a monstrous man, after all.
Since heart troubles was a chronic disease he had for a long time, no one suspected his death. The opinion of the majority was that he had died because he was prone to death, and it was my own reasonable argument that he deserved to be killed but I was unable to do so. In the end, I may have succeeded in my revenge, but I had to live the rest of my life with this bitter taste in my mouth.
Good for you, father. You must feel lighthearted since you were able to screw your son over one last time in your final moment of life. That’s right, good job dying. Did you dislike the idea of atoning for your wrongdoing towards me that much? Did you want to portray to me the fact that you didn’t have even a single thing in your life that you had to atone for?
I let out a sigh.
“There is quite the valuable moral in my story. Do you know what it is?”
“No matter how damned they may be, since your father is still your father, you shouldn’t confine them thoughtlessly?”
“You fool. What were you listening to my words with? It is the complete opposite. Do not needlessly forgive the man or leave him alone, and without fail, kill him, the father who had ruined your life, with your own two hands.”
I propped up Farnese’s chin and stared at her clearly. The very first child who I had decided to take responsibility for after having come to this world. Although I rarely ever expressed this vocally, I consider you to be my adopted daughter. Because the sight of your life being twisted was the same as seeing my own life being twisted.
“The people of the world will most likely give you all sorts of advice. Forgive him. Adjust your way of thinking and change your life to be positive. Oh dear. Those are words that befit those people only. They may, perhaps, not even be correct words, either. In any case, you, have you not suffered things which you cannot possibly say out loud or things that are even more severe than that, by your own father? I can easily guess.”
“Lapis killed her own mother. It should have been the first time since she was born that she was able to properly meet her mother, but she simply chased after her on the spot and slit her mother’s throat. In that regard, I consider Lapis to be much wiser than myself. Think about it, Farnese. What will you do if your father dies by the hands of someone else before you are able to do it yourself? I am telling you to imagine that. Is it not dreadful?”
“Therefore, kill him.”
Using a tone that assured the answer.
“Punish your father with your own two hands. Get your revenge and end his life. No matter how vast the world may be, since there is no one else out there who has as much of a right as you do to get revenge, you must be the one to do so. The task which I was unable to fulfill because I was sloppy, I sincerely pray that you are able to accomplish it.”
As if I were placing a curse on her at the same time as I was bestowing upon her a blessing.
I gave my adopted daughter the answer.
“Once you do so, you will be free.”
Farnese wordlessly shuddered. That was a natural reaction. My words were ice. If one wished to digest ice instantly, then they required a strong stomach and tough teeth. And this girl, who was standing before my eyes, was the pillar that Lapis, the woman who possessed the strongest stomach, and I, who possessed the toughest teeth, had fostered together earnestly. Regardless of whether she grows tired of the cruelty of the acts she must carry out from now on, she will not decline it.
“······But, Your Lordship. There is a problem. Even if this young lady tries to kill her father, this young lady’s father resides in the kingdom down south. There are more and more people in the north who Your Lordship and this young lady must take the lives of, so when will we ever be able to advance south?”
Farnese pointed out a problem straight away. That meant that she fundamentally agreed to my words that instructed her to kill her own father. This was why I did not dislike children who my words got through to.
“In order to subjugate the Empire, we have to slaughter that Imperial Princess as well, but according to Your Lordship’s words, the Imperial Princess is the largest mountain. The act of even crossing that mountain is quite the distance away, so until that day arrives, how is this young lady supposed to endure the ravages of her past while in this purgatory? How are we supposed to know whether it would take us 5 years or 10 years? This young lady wishes to quickly become free.”
“It is good that you are honest. Each time I witness you slowly turn into more of an honest son of a bitch, it makes me feel so overjoyed that I might break out into a dance.”
“Although this young lady is severely worried since it seems as if her personality is decaying day by day due to Your Lordship and Miss Lapis······.”
“That is fine. Do not worry about it. All we have done is merely brought out what was already rotten. Since that is your true essence, do your best to love it.”
“Your Lordship has the talent to touch a chord with another person’s heart each time you open your mouth. A talent that can touch a chord with another person’s heart in an incredibly bad meaning, that is. Please hastily bite your tongue and kill yourself, Lord.”
I raised the corners of my lips.
“You will be able to kill your father within three days.”
Farnese knitted her brow.
“That is bizarre and inordinate. How could this young lady possibly be able to capture her father within three days?”
“You are not going to be the one to bring him, you foolish child. Have I not told you this time and time again? Please, if what is attached to that neck of yours is a head, then please use it. Think about it. Regardless of whether you have fallen into being a slave or not, you are still the descendant of the House of Farnese. A descendant of their family has betrayed mankind and latched onto the demons, but do you think they would sit around when their dignity as a noble family is on the line? Even if they tried to stay still, do you think the people around them would calmly leave them be?”
Farnese became silent. You could tell from her face that it was clearly a scenario which she had never considered. I made a tsk-tsk sound with my tongue and shook my head. This was why a child, who learned about the world from history books, had poor senses when it actually came to something important.
“Listen carefully. Listen well and learn well. Quite a long time has passed since the Imperial Princess Elizabeth had first obtained the memoria artifact. At that point, the Imperial Princess would have already gotten into contact with the House of Farnese. Four days have passed since you became the figurehead and gave that speech, but if it is someone who is as competent as the Imperial Princess, then no matter how severe the situation may be, they should be capable of resolving it within a single week. Therefore, three days from now. Regardless of what happens before an entire week has passed, the Imperial Princess will, without a doubt, pressure you by placing the Duke of Farnese at the front of her forces.”
“How can Your Lordship be certain of that······.”
“Dear Lord. To bring around someone like you as my descendant, I am the one who is misfortunate. Not only are you unable to think, but are you unable to listen as well? Kid, are the rumors that you are the descendant of the House of Farnese and the daughter of a whore not already widespread throughout the front lines of the Army of the Crusaders? Hm? Who do you think could have grasped your personal information so precisely and have also circulated malicious rumors about you, all within three days? Can it be anyone else than the Imperial Princess Elizabeth?”
“Therefore, do not worry about whether you will have to wait 10 years or not, but instead, be concerned about the immediately approaching three days. My foolish general, even a week is a time that is beyond your capacity. Fumbling through a single day and discovering the next day again, that is the level which you are still currently at. How impudent of you to try and discuss 10 years.”
“This young lady is starting to dislike Your Lordship more······.”
“That is because a sky is above your sky. I know that feeling well.”
“This young lady also dislikes Your Lordship who pretends to know that feeling well, as well······.”
“Oh? Then try winning against me. For someone who is unable to win, you must have quite the happy life since you still have some pride left. Is that brain of yours feeling peaceful?”
Farnese groaned without showing any emotions on her face. What a cute fellow.
Essentially, the desire for power was something that did not forgive anyone who was above themselves. I was the one who had awoken Farnese’s lust for power, and I was also the one who was actually occupying her sky. Due to that, in Farnese’s position, she had no other choice but to feel stifled.
“In any case, since things will be proceeding like that, keep that in mind. So even if the Imperial Princess suddenly brings your father in order to shake your mentality, do not be too alarmed. If anything, be delighted that 10 years was shortened to three days. Get your revenge and take his life. And······.”
It was at the moment I was about to add a few more words.
“⎯⎯⎯⎯Those are good words, Dantalian. Get your revenge and take his life.”
I heard a familiar voice.
The two of us turned our heads at the same time. From a corner of darkness that was blanketed by the night sky, lively, and yet, light steps were approaching from that direction. The owner of both the voice and the sound of footsteps came all the way to a place which was illuminated by a torch that was near the prison and stopped.
Pure white hair.
Yellow pupils that were like that of a lion.
“As it so happens, I came here because I wanted to say those exact same words to you.”
Barbatos was smiling there.
The pocket watch that was submerged in my clothes moved.
▯The King of Peasants, Rank 71st, Dantalian
Empire Calendar: Year 1506, Month 4, Day 7
Bruno Plains, Army of the Crescent Alliance, Simple Prison
“Hi, Dantalian. Mr. Self-Addressed Genius.”
The night was thin. The rain that had stopped falling during the evening still remained drifting somewhere throughout the air. Although the torchlight made the shadows flicker like steam, making the outlines appear faint, rather than standing on the ground, it appeared as if half of Barbatos’ feet were engulfed by a pitch black mire.
“Iyaah. It seems that life in prison must suit your body well. Look at the complexion on your face. That mug of yours, that has always been weighed down by exhaustion, has bloomed, it really has. You adorable kid. It wasn’t a waste of time to send you to prison.”
Even though it was vague and ambiguous, the occasion of Barbatos’ distinct presence fading away did not occur. Her voice, it was because her voice was clouded with laughter. Although it was easy for Barbatos to laugh, each laugh was viscous with the thickness which was built up from within her innermost heart. Every time she laughed, it felt as if I could see a well that had no visible bottom.
I knew she would come.
My mind was even ready for it.
However, there was one thing. If there was one thing that I did not predict, then it was the fact that Barbatos did not come here alone. Barbatos had arrived while dragging someone by the hair. My heart instantly became cold. I wonder if she had sensed the temperature of my gaze. Barbatos chuckled.
“Ah. Her? I was on my way here when I suddenly had an idea. When you and this girl were philandering a long time back, I gave you some relationship counseling, right? Nevertheless, I felt like you two weren’t spending enough time together recently.”
Lapis Lazuli. My love.
My lover, whose pink hair was beautiful and blue eyes were pretty, was feebly sprawled out there while in the nude and sullied by whip and burn marks all over her body. Barbatos tapped Lapis’ head.
“That’s why I used this opportunity to get a bit more acquainted.”
“Wow. Bastard, look at that face. You look like you might accidentally end up killing me, you know? Hm? Right, you already played around with me on the battlefield so why wouldn’t you be able to do something like take my life?”
You truly are.
She grinned widely.
“Is it your first time seeing a bitch?”
I shut my mouth.
The opposition had a hostage. A hostage was a tool that could be dealt with in whatever way that the opposition deemed fit. Therefore, it was a method to flaunt their power before me. In other words, as it was a bomb that could explode at any moment, it must be dealt with quickly and I must not rashly irritate the individual who was trying to flaunt their strength. Since I continued to not show any response, Barbatos made a long ‘hmm’ sound with her nose.
“Good. I like that you’re well-behaved. It seems you’ve realized your place. Well, since both you and I are in a relationship where we’ve seen everything that can be seen, I won’t make this long. Apologize.”
“Yeah. Apologize for changing the orator as you please, apologize for requesting a military trial as you please, and above all else, apologize for treating the lives of my soldiers like toys, as if the battlefield were a playground, Dantalian.
Barbatos uttered an ‘ah’ and added in something else.
“Oh right. I won’t permit you to give an excuse. Something like, ‘that wasn’t my intention’, or some rubbish like that. Whenever I hear rubbish, I feel as if the opposition is rubbish as well, but on the other hand, I also get the feeling that they’re treating me like trash. It could be my feelings that are messed up, but well, it’s not right. Something doesn’t sit well with me when that happens. If a person is a person, then they should show mutual respect. Both sides shouldn’t become sons of bitches, right?”
Barbatos hurled Lapis forward. Has she passed out? Lapis did not utter even a single moan and simply fell onto the floor.
“The way to apologize is simple. First, take the head of that human girl over there with your own hands. Next, slit the throat of this outcast here with your own hands. Finally, I’ll have to take one of your arms. How’s that? Simple, right? Apologies need to possess significance, sincerity, and cordiality, after all. Although someone impudent like you may not understand this that well, apologies were originally something like this. It’s difficult, right? Since it’s so difficult, that’s why you shouldn’t commit a mistake in the first place.”
“Four thousand people died.”
Barbatos stepped on Lapis’ head with her right foot. Barbatos was the one who boasted a great strength among Demon Lords. If at this very instant, she were to put even the slightest bit more strength into her foot, then Lapis’ head will most likely be crushed.
“It’s four thousand people, you know? Four thousand of just my soldiers alone were killed because of your and that bitch’s so-called fun and games. Does this not seem strange in your eyes?”
“Barbatos, everyone dies in war.”
“Yeah, but they don’t die like a joke. That’s the important part. The fact that a meaning is required in death. With that thought alone, people like us are able to go to war.”
Barbatos pulled a dagger out from her clothes. She then grabbed and lifted Lapis’ head again and placed the blade against Lapis’ cheek. It was at that moment that Lapis slowly opened her eyes.
Our eyes met.
Although we did not utter even a single word.
Both Lapis and I finished our conversation in an instant.
Regardless of whether she knew so or not, Barbatos continued her sanguineous-humorous attitude. Although only very slightly, the edge of the blade pierced Lapis’ skin. The scarlet blood that formed was distinct in my eyes.
“I didn’t particularly trust you since the very beginning, Dantalian. Trust has always been lacking in our relationship.”
“That is disappointing to hear. I was rather confident that we were able to pile up a rather nice relationship. Although I do not wish to make patronage with something that has already ended, I saved you and your forces once before, right?”
“The language of Habsburg.”
“I actually know how to speak some human languages, you retard.”
“There’s something pricking your conscience, right?”
I immediately recalled a sharp laughter in my head.
⎯⎯ Oi, would you look at that? Dantalian, what are they babbling about?
Before the war had yet to begin. During the time where both Barbatos and I were in the prime of burning the mountain range, each time we punished the fire-fallow villagers, Barbatos left the translation to me. That was because the proud Demon Lords did not believe it was necessary to acquaint themselves to the human languages. However, was that not the case? Did she know? Despite the fact that she already knew, she pretended not to and simply watched over how I interpreted their words. She had tested me in order to see whether I was trustworthy, to see how far she could trust me. Was that the case······?
At that time, I did not interpret the words exactly as how the fire-fallow villagers had spoken them. I treated the peasants with sympathy at all times. However, in Barbatos’ eyes, it must have appeared as if I were distorting information. A fellow who cannot be trusted completely. I could not argue if I were regarded as so······. However, I had something to protest as well.
“That’s right. There’s something that’s pricking my conscience. So what? You wanted a war to break out. So accordingly, I gifted you a war. You wanted to obtain victory. So accordingly, I gifted you a victory. I have presented you with everything that you desired until now. Despite that, are you distrusting me just because of some trivial translation mistakes? There’s a limit to having a narrow mind.”
“Hah, stop talking nonsense, Mr. Dantalian. Be it war or victory, that’s something we both wanted. Why are you trying to act all kind by saying you gifted something or whatever? Do you want to see a pretty blade mark left on this bitch’s neck?”
Barbatos placed the dagger closer to Lapis’ throat while talking sarcastically. Lapis gazed at me while being completely unfazed by that.
Ah, Barbatos. You’ve made a crucial mistake. Lapis was not my weakness. She was a great woman who absolutely would not forgive herself if she were degraded to something like my weakness. Lapis and I made each other stronger. I was able to remain alive and well because of her unchanging gaze.
“Your words are correct, Barbatos. You and I both yearn for war and crave for victory. Because that is the case, you must not kill my vassals.”
“Are you feigning ignorance? Or do you truly not know? Since you have experienced today’s battle, you should be aware of it by now.”
I spoke calmly. I put the truth that Barbatos never wished to hear on my lips. I more than gladly vocalized the reality that the Queen of Silver absolutely did not wish to face.
“My general and the Imperial Princess of the Empire are more competent than you.”
Barbatos’ body froze for an instant.
I could sense that her breath had frozen over. A silence fell around us completely. The moisture that had formed on an iron bar of my prison gathered into a droplet of water and slid down. Barbatos was quiet, so Laura, Lapis, and I simply endured the cold wind silently. Since there was no response for a long amount of time, I was the first person to open his mouth.
“You have already once been cornered to the point where you nearly faced defeat at the hands of the Imperial Princess. Although you claimed that it was because of His Excellency Marbas’ crushing defeat, if you were more competent than the Imperial Princess, then you would not have been forced into such a defensive position. Myself and my general. If Farnese here did not come to save you, then by this point, the Crescent Alliance would have had even our last remaining plain area stolen from us by the humans.”
“Furthermore, you were unable to predict the Imperial Princess’ surprise attack even today. If you knew how to speak the language of Habsburg, then that makes it even more of a costly blunder. Why was it that the imperial army of Habsburg could not be seen even though the armies of every other nation were gathered together, you should have been able to notice the threat that was approaching through the heavy rain. Although you had the opportunity to do so, you were unable to realize it.”
I apologize, Barbatos.
But you Demon Lords required some shock therapy. If time continues to flow by just like this, then you will never be able to predict the truth that all of demonkind will be annihilated by the humans. You were all overconfident in your own competence. My role was to shatter that arrogance of yours. Therefore, I told her this.
“That’s right, you said four thousand soldiers died? That is unfortunate. I give you my condolences. However, that is not Farnese’s mistake, that is not my mistake, and that especially is not the Imperial Princess’ mistake. All we have done is do our utmost in our respective positions, after all. Barbatos, the fact that you lost four thousand soldiers today······.”
“Is simply because you are less competent than us.”
Although it is incredibly regretful.
Barbatos, it turns out that even you, the individual who shines as brightly as the snowy fields do during a dark lunar night, are less competent than someone else. You may be able to perform a supporting role on the stage, but you cannot play the leading role. That is your limit.
Even you should have vaguely felt it yourself. The fact that your military personnel faced death because you were unable to notice the movement of the enemy troops. The fact that the life of your men solely hung on your own shoulders and that you are unable to shift the responsibility to someone else. You have become this enraged because you detested and regretted yourself.
Aah, Barbatos. Demon Lord whose laughter is merciless. The sacred and inviolable Demon Lord who calls herself the absolute majesty, the master among the counsel of 72 who leads all of demonkind. You were unable to manage this era by yourself. You were slated to go through quite the cruel seasons for the next 10 years. Moreover, the individuals who were destined to become the leading actors were already decided. Elizabeth von Habsburg, Laura De Farnese, and the hero that will one day arrive······. They will write an epic poem about the continent gathering together into a single empire, and you will become a song, that has already ceased and met its end, and disappear instantly.
“Let me live.”
I was here.
“I will give you war. I will gift you victory. I will present to you a future without defeat. I will show our demonkind warm fields. I do not care if you all take exclusive possession of the glory and honor, Barbatos. You all can take every last bit of something like pride and fame. I wish for simply one thing.”
“Spare me and my vassals.”
There was a silence.
Barbatos opened her mouth. With lips that no longer had even a shred of humor lingering on them.
“Can you take responsibility for them?”
I nodded my head.
Let us work together, even you have a chance, if we all grab each others’ hands then we can overcome anything⎯⎯⎯⎯I refused sweet words like these. On the other side of this plain, there was an Imperial Princess who was going to propine the worst nightmare in history. If I was going to stand against her, then I had no other choice but to become a nightmare as well.
And I did not find becoming a nightmare to be disgusting or see it as an arduous task, it was merely a joyous occasion for me. How fortunate was it that I was going to be the one to play that role?! You ought to be overjoyed, Barbatos. Although it seems you were regretful since 4,000 soldiers had died, I can continue to laugh like this even if I were to slaughter 4 million people. Welcome the fact that I am an honest son of a bitch. I shall lead you. I shall take the responsibility.
“Four hundred years.”
“For no less than four hundred years, the expeditions of the Crescent Alliance have continued to fail each and every time. The reason behind that was not because you were weak. On the contrary, it is the complete opposite. You all were a bit too strong.”
“······What are you talking about?”
“Look. Even if we are the Crescent Alliance, at most, only half of the Demon Lords that live in the demon continent are participating. Rank 1 to Rank 4 do not even take part in the expeditions. The only individuals among the highest ranking Demon Lords to engage in warfare are you, Paimon, and His Excellency Marbas. Despite that, we surprisingly have a massive army of a hundred thousand.”
Even if a nation were to scratch together whatever military personnel they could, it would be difficult for them to exceed a military power of 40,000. The Crusaders, a force that was created after every nation had united and squeezed out whatever military strength they could, had no more than a hundred thousand soldiers. Of course, that most likely was not their maximum strength. However, if you consider the fact that demons are stronger than humans on average, then in terms of military power, the gap between the Crescent Alliance and the Crusaders grew much further apart.
“I shall say this honestly. In all of the demon continent, the Demon Lords who sincerely wish for victory are all here participating in this war. To the other Demon Lords, the land that belongs to the humans is nothing more than a nest of bugs that they could easily crush if they put their minds to it.”
“If anything, the thing they fear are you guys.”
“······Demon Lords are afraid of other Demon Lords?”
That is right.
I have never thought that it was bothersome.
Becoming a king was the pinnacle of authority that had the role of guiding the people. However, there were a whopping 72 people who were standing at that zenith in the demon continent. I didn’t denounce the demon continent for being similar to that of a tribe nation for no reason.
The only reason why this idiotic society still held was because of the common enemy, in other words, it was because humanity was holding out. What would happen if humanity disappeared? Just as how Barbatos wished, what would happen after we are truly able to subjugate the entirety of the human continent?
“It is simple, Barbatos. After crushing all of humanity, the Demon Lords will, without a doubt, start a civil war in order to distinguish who has the most authority among themselves.”
Barbatos furrowed her brow. Indeed, she was a woman who had devoted her life to conquering the continent. She had not considered the feelings and positions of the other garbage Demon Lords who had no interest in something like justification and merely turned their attention to their own security.
“When that day comes, which Demon Lord do you think will have the advantage? Rank 1 Baal? Rank 2 Agares? Rank 3 or maybe Rank 4? No. That is absolutely not the case. No matter how powerful the individual may be, they cannot withstand the assault of a group. The group they fear the most.”
“Barbatos. Paimon. Corps commanders such as yourselves who utilizes other Demon Lords as your own military power. Demon Lords of Demon Lords. During the inevitable anarchy that will occur after the extermination of the human race, they have no other choice but to fear people like you, who move together as a group, the most.”
Indeed, this was a self-evident truth.
Because they know that it would be their turn next once the humans have fallen into ruin.
I was certain that the Demon Lords, who were not participating in this Crescent Alliance expedition, were desperately scheming to make the war fail.
The fact that the Crescent Alliance experienced failure after failure for the past 400 years was not a mere coincidence. At most, Paimon only tried to stop me, she has never attempted to mess up the Crescent Alliance itself. People, who were much more wicked and slyer than Paimon, were lurking in the rear of the demon continent.
“Traitors. We are overflowing with traitors. You accused me of having committed racial treason. However, something of my degree is actually humble. It is at a boundlessly moderate level. Although I screwed you over for only just 20 minutes during the duration of the speech, those Demon Lords screwed over their own kind for the past 400 years.”
“Do you now understand why you must keep me alive?”
Our enemies are all around us.
In the front, the unique hero known as the Imperial Princess Elizabeth.
In the rear, the powerful Demon Lords starting from Rank 1 to Rank 4.
They pressure, threaten, and intimidate us from both fronts until we finally end up facing mutual destruction.
I stuck my right arm out through the iron bars.
“We do not have the time to fight among one another. Take my hand. Let us take the heads of the traitors, and if we have some spare time, then let us sink the Imperial Princess’ ship as well. Once we have done all that, we shall establish a society which we govern.”
Despite being locked behind these bars, the people who must come to me have all come. From the very beginning, the people who had to be sent were constantly on that side. Because there was no need for me to go to and fro, I was free.
I was here in this prison.
(TL note: Please do not read the English translation of Dungeon Defense on any site that is not my own. Readlightnovel is a site that steals translations from people without permission and receives ad revenue for it. Don’t be that guy who supports them.)
▯The King of Peasants, Rank 71st, Dantalian
Empire Calendar: Year 1506, Month 4, Day 8
Bruno Plains, Army of the Crescent Alliance, Simple Prison
······Give me some time to think.
Barbatos left behind those words before departing. The only people who were left here now were Lapis and Farnese. Once Lapis was free from the position of hostage, she let out a light sigh as if she did not feel even slightly affected by the torture she had received.
“It seems this innocent one is the one to receive the wrath because of Your Highness. It has been a long time since this one had last tasted torture. Although this one had nearly forgotten the fact that she belonged to the absolute lowest social status thanks to Your Highness, this one has realized her position once more due to Your Highness’ doing as well.”
“······I am sorry. I took the matters much too easily. I did not think that she would involve even you.”
“It is fine. This one is used to it.”
I gave the words of apology, which Barbatos requested so much for but never received in the end, with much ease to Lapis. Lapis received a mantle from Farnese and loosely covered her naked body.
“However, Your Highness has done very well.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes. Even though this one was kidnapped, Your Highness’ unwavering posture was very advisable. To be honest, this one had worried that Your Highness may possibly fall into a panic, but it seems this one has no reason to be concerned from now on. Even if this one were to receive harm, this one is now certain of the fact that Your Highness will continue to advance forward. Please continue to do so. This one will do so as well.”
Lapis then headed past the torches and towards our military camp. If she walks around in that state, then there is a chance that she could be assaulted by common soldiers who have been blinded by their sexual desires, but it seems she was not afraid. Farnese, who had her mouth shut the entire time, muttered.
“As expected, Your Lordship is not sane. Does a woman like that truly hit the mark of Your Lordship’s preferences? She is a woman who will live coldly, love coldly, and die coldly.”
My acting general, who was in charge of my front, had badmouthed my lover, who was in charge of my rear. In a situation like this, a normal person would display an ambiguous attitude and try to gain a favorable impression from both sides.
“Mm? What is it, Lord?”
“You will never be able to compare yourself to Lapis with what little ability you have.”
And I was not a normal bastard.
I declared solemnly.
“How dare you not know your place and badmouth Lapis? Lapis is the first woman I have ever loved and will be the last woman I will ever love. If Lala were to say it, then I would even believe a prophecy about the world ending. However, if you said something like that, then I would probably just give you a spanking.”
I gave her a smooth smile.
“How is that? Has the hierarchy been clearly established in that sewer-like brain of yours?”
Farnese opened her lips.
“······They say that one must not get involved even if a crazy dog were to bark, but what is this young lady supposed to do when there are two insane dogs growling above her? Since both the male and female dog have gone deranged together, it seems as if this young lady is the only normal person in the world.”
What is this fool saying?
Your bullshit is bitter, my daughter.
“In any case, the prediction that this young lady’s father will appear on the battlefield soon. This young lady shall go back and ready her heart. If possible, please do not come out of prison forever, Your Lordship······.”
Farnese trudged away feebly. She was heading towards the same direction that Lapis had gone in. The two must be spending time together in the military tent that was peaceful since I was absent.
For some reason, as I imagined the scene of Lapis being the abuser and Farnese being the abused, my mind felt cozy. Those broken things that were in that single spot were my family, but it felt as if my mind went into each of their broken places and mended them to be flawless. I laid down on the bundle of hay and comfortably closed my eyes.
I had a dream.
Once I looked down, I saw that I was wearing shoes. I knew that I was in a dream by just that alone. It was somewhat intriguing. In the past, I attempted to have lucid dreams several times due to curiosity, but I have never been in a dream where my self-awareness was as sharp as this.
All I could see when I looked around my surroundings was an endlessly vast white world. Only a ground, that was like a drawing paper which had yet to be colored, was stretched out all the way to the horizon. And in the center of that, as if it were something obvious, Demon Lord Paimon was standing there.
I muttered unintentionally.
Paimon was a mare. Among mares, Paimon was the very person who was referred to as the Queen of Mares. Although my love, Lapis, had thinly inherited the blood of a succubus, I heard that the ability to control people’s dreams was granted to only a small minority of mares. Someone like Paimon could easily intrude in another person’s dream.
(TL Note: Mares and succubi/incubi are generally being treated as the same race here)
Once our eyes met, Paimon gave me a modest greeting. For a person who had just invaded another person’s personal space without having received the owner’s permission, her behavior was much too courteous, making it feel as if this woman was a guest who had formally received an invitation. That was quite the Paimon-like conduct.
“Welcome, Dantalian. To this lady’s world.”
I had a bitter smile on my face.
“Excuse me, but if my memory serves me right, then I have never sent an invitation nor have I received one······.”
Paimon showed a guilty face.
“······This lady apologizes. However, this lady believed that this was the best method to dispel the misunderstanding you have of this lady. This lady believes that with just a little bit more, even you will be able to understand her words, Dantalian.”
“Oh, truly Your Highness does not change. Since Your Highness is freely deciding what I will trust and distrust, I can only admire you.”
“Please forgive this lady’s discourtesy one more time.”
Paimon appeared to still have apologetic eyes. I wonder how many people were deceived and done in because of those innocent eyes. I shrugged my shoulders and went into the main topic.
“Very well. This is my first time dreaming a dream together with another person. Despite how I may appear, I welcome new experiences. So, what is possible here? Is anything possible since this is a dream?”
“Unfortunately, materializing every possible thing is impossible.”
Paimon shook her head slightly.
“Solely the things which this lady has seen and experienced throughout her life can be reproduced here. Like this······.”
Paimon waved her fan. Once she did so, tree roots started to wriggle underneath the ground before instantly surging upwards, penetrating the ground as it rose. It seems the tree was not only a single type of tree. Certain branches had white bark like that of a birch tree, and some other branches were encased in a brown layer of bark similar to the ones seen on pine trees. The tree grew bigger and bigger until it got to the point where it nearly blocked out the entire sky. Since the floral leaves were cherry blossoms, each tree branch shined a bright white color. The world was pink.
Paimon slowly stroked the bark of the tree.
“Like this, although this lady can make new creations by mixing together one feature with another, it is impossible to create something entirely from scratch.”
This was honestly admirable. Enviable, even. If I had the ability to fiddle with dreams, then I would be so elated by the fact that I could singe, boil, and burn my father every single night, that I most likely would never want to wake up.
“I see there was a reason why mares are known as the clan of the night. My concubine is a half-blood so she is unable to control dreams. It is a bit unfortunate.”
“······It may be more of a blessing. The fact that she is not a pure blood, that is.”
Paimon smiled sorrowfully.
“As you can see, mares are capable of creating an incredible amount of things within a dream. The lovers of mares are charmed by that. The most beautiful woman in the world, the most captivating scenery in the world, a feast of sweet and fantastical food. Everyone who pairs up with a mare starts to become more enchanted by the dreams that mares can show instead of the time they spend together with their lover.”
Paimon lowered her fan. In that same moment, the tree that was as grandiose as a world tree soon started to fall apart. Poof, as if a bunch of popcorn had popped all at the same time, the cherry blossom petals all fell while in full bloom. In the center of the descending petals, Paimon gazed upwards.
“In the end, people turn their backs on reality. An absolutely perfect dream and a pitiable reality······. It is clear what they would choose. They ignore their wives and steadily throw away their sons and daughters. Compared to their wives and children in real life, they have a more beautiful family in their dreams anyway. That is why the majority of mares do not share love.”
Since they will be betrayed, anyway.
Paimon muttered as she placed a handful of wind onto the petals that were flowing by.
Although I could see a single aspect of the girl who was standing before me here, I did not probe into it. I was not the person who had to take the responsibility. There was nothing more terrifying than embracing a past which you cannot possibly shoulder. I picked up a branch that had broken off from the cherry tree and spoke.
“That is an interesting ethnic tale. If there is time, I wish to leisurely listen to the love stories which Your Highness Paimon has experienced. However, is this the reason why Your Highness invited me here? In order to exchange love stories?”
Paimon turned her gaze and looked at me.
“Has thought of this since a long time ago. A woman who is closest to being perfect exists. The most beautiful scenery and banquet exist. If that is the case, then perhaps⎯⎯⎯⎯would it not be possible to dream of the most perfect and beautiful society?”
The most perfect society? What is this woman trying to say?
I couldn’t comprehend her. Of course, everyone lived while burying their respective ideas of what an ideal society was within their hearts. As I was not unaware of that, I was suspicious of the ulterior motive that was going out of its way to try and take out what was buried in my mind. Paimon, we are not close enough to leisurely share the scenery within our minds, is that not so?
Should I try sending a light jab?
“A perfect society, is it? Would something like that really be possible?”
“Yes, of course not. This lady is aware of the impossibleness.”
Paimon laughed nearly inaudibly.
“It is most likely absurd. It was futile in the past, and it is still impossible even to this very day. However, Dantalian, this lady is the Queen of Mares. A race that sows the dreams of the night into people. Even if this lady, who held that position, had allowed herself to have such a pious dream, this lady believes that it was not something which went excessively beyond her means. Sir Dantalian, in order for this lady to continue her life, similar to other people, this lady required a type of bliss.”
Paimon glanced down at the flower petal that had landed on her palm and lamented.
“Ah, it was a regretful dream. Yes, once this lady looked back at it after everything was over, it was an intoxication. However, what could this lady have lived with if that did not exist?”
“At first, it was 400 years ago. This lady believed that for demonkind as a whole, a society where Demon Lords were the rulers, was a society that was closest to perfection.”
Paimon waved her fan.
The scenery changed. I found myself standing in the very center of a battlefield which I had never been to before. Soldiers flickered like shadows, approximately a hundred thousand demons passed through our surroundings. Since they were phantoms that lacked physical bodies, they phased through both Paimon and myself like ghosts.
At the way front, there were three people who were leading this massive army. There was no one else whose figures were as distinct as theirs. They were familiar to my eyes as well. They were none other than the corps commander Demon Lords; Barbatos, Paimon, and Marbas.
⎯⎯ Oh, my army! You are all praiseworthy! You all have truly obtained a great achievement!
Barbatos shouted while her white cape fluttered in the wind. Different to her current self, she was wearing a silver helmet and a matching silver set of armor. Barbatos shined a radiant silver color due to the descending rays of the sun.
Paimon mentioned 400 years ago just now. If that was the case, then that means this was Barbatos from 400 years ago. The days where Barbatos had yet to turn into a necromancer and was waving around a sword as a warrior······. After examining her carefully, she was smiling in a way that gave off a completely different feeling compared to what she showed now. It wasn’t a sloppy smile that was caused by being perennial. It was a smile that resembled a mid-summer sun, a smile that confidently threw herself out to the world.
⎯⎯ However, there are still many things we must do! We are the demons of conquest. Our glory is not placed in yesterday’s victory, but instead, it is solely placed in the future where our great conquest is over.
⎯⎯ Cowards say that we have fought enough, that it is now the time to rest. However, what do we warriors say in response? Us, warriors who have surpassed both race and status, and have solely become one due to camaraderie. How will you respond?
⎯⎯ It is not enough!
Barbatos raised both of her arms and extended her nails like a cat. As if she were trying to claw and scar the entire world with her small hands until she was able to devour it all.
⎯⎯ It is not enough! We still lack too much!
⎯⎯ More battles and more blood! In order to make every battlefield, which we have fought on, into the land that our descendants will live in! Until each drop of blood, which we have shed, has turned into fertilizer for the land that our descendants will cultivate!
⎯⎯Aah, gentlemen! My proud warriors! We love our posterity infinitely. For that reason, we not only have no other choice but to fight eternally, but we are able to fight thanks to it!
A hundred thousand soldiers all cheered at the same time.
Demons, dwarves, and centaurs started to blow their horns as they pleased. The sound of drums resonated without any tune or tempo. Although the soldiers were in a chaotic state, on the contrary, it felt as if they were a coherent whole.
This was the magnificent form of the very first Crescent Alliance. The cries coming from the army echoed throughout the distant continent and tinged all the people of the continent with fear. These elite troops were led by the corps commanders, Barbatos of Immortality, Paimon of Benevolence, and Marbas of Nobility, all standing side by side.
⎯⎯ For eternal death! For eternal glory!
Barbatos turned her back and personally went forward to the front line. Her white cloak fluttered blindingly. Being driven by that movement that was like a hand gesture, the hundred thousand soldiers became a tidal wave and followed her.
“It was a glorious battle.”
Paimon muttered while gazing at the tidal wave of shadows that was pushing out into the distance.
“We had seized victory perfectly. With an army of 120,000, we defeated the Crusaders of approximately 260,000 at the time, repeatedly. We ruined a single kingdom within half a month, and two months after that, we completely destroyed another kingdom. The three of us were certain. The fact that we were invincible. That we would truly be able to build a nation for all of demonkind on this ground since we could never be defeated. Yes. We had unwavering faith.”
If it’s the war that had destroyed 2 kingdoms, then it wasn’t the first expedition but the second. Since I had read the history book, I knew how this was going to end. The second Crescent Alliance was recorded as the most horrendous failure in all of history.
Paimon closed her eyes.
“Until our kind betrayed us.”
“After we conquered the second kingdom, we immediately advanced deeply into the center of the continent. It was immediately after we had demolished the Crusader’s main force. Split the continent into two pieces before the enemy troops can reform. That was the larger flow of our plan. Perhaps, no, without a doubt, our judgment was not wrong.”
However, the Demon Lords who were in charge of the supply line in the rear had betrayed them.
Principally, supply lines were managed by low ranking Demon Lords. Demon Lords with low ranks had just as little military power as well. It was appropriate to concentrate them on the supplies instead of sending them out to the front. High ranking Demon Lords stood at the front lines, and low ranking Demon Lords supported them from behind······. An incredibly rational arrangement.
Nevertheless, they committed betrayal.
⎯⎯⎯⎯The scenery changed once more.
The brilliant army of silver, which I saw just a moment ago, had disappeared without a trace. Each soldier was ragged.
An army that was unable to eat properly because the supply lines had been cut. Even if they tried to obtain provisions through pillaging, the Crusaders were employing a scorched earth policy. Since even a proper way of pillaging was being prevented, as time passed, the massive army started to tire itself out as it continued to drag around its large size.
From every direction, detached forces from the Crusaders emerged and bit away at the Crescent Alliance. They were tenacious and rough like a pack of hyenas hunting down a lion. Even if they wanted to resist, it would only cause more time to be delayed. Barbatos bit her lips and gave an order.
⎯⎯Abandon our forces and retreat.
Tears of blood were flowing down Barbatos’ face as she muttered that command. Putting the scenery of the subjects, who she had led all the way here from the demon continent, being terrorized and slaughtered behind her, Barbatos fled. It was not solely her, but Paimon and Marbas as well.
That was Barbatos’ past.
The incident that had stolen the warmth from Barbatos’ heart.
“Sir Dantalian, can you guess how many out of 120,000 soldiers returned alive? ······This lady remembers it vividly even to this day. Even though 400 years have passed, this lady can still clearly see the scene where the three of us received the report from our adjutants together.”
Paimon gently opened her eyes.
“Twenty-six thousand and eighty-four.”
Out of the massive army of 120,000 soldiers.
“Only······ Barely twenty-six thousand and eighty-four people were able to come back alive and step on the soil of their homelands.”
Within the scenery of the dream.
Barbatos was silently shedding tears. She was absently staring out into an empty space as if she were a doll that had its strings cut. With a battered and worn out cloak, which was also filled with holes, wrapped around her body, she endlessly wept in silence.
Paimon placed her hand on top of that Barbatos’ shoulder. However, Barbatos was merely a phantom within a dream. Paimon was unable to stroke the shoulder of the girl who was once her comrade and simply drifted her hand over an empty space. Paimon stopped her hand and spoke to herself.
“Why did this happen······?”
The scene was swept away by a gust of cherry blossom petals.
Barbatos’ dim shadow, her distinct tears, and the plain that was vastly covered with the corpses of soldiers sprawled out, all disappeared and the world returned to being a white landscape.
“······This lady was unable to tell her that it was okay. This lady was unable to console her by telling her that everything would turn out better from now on. There is a chance that this lady may have already felt it by then. That we will no longer······ that the day where we are able to fight together will never arrive.”
Paimon gazed at my face.
“Last night, this lady overheard the argument you had with Barbatos. Dantalian, you most likely know the reason. The reason behind why the Crescent Alliance had failed time and time again.”
I nodded my head.
Towards the opposition who had, without reserve, spoken her mind up to this point, regardless of whether she was my political rival or not, I had no desire to give a cynical remark. Moreover, the person whom Paimon had shown to me the most was Barbatos. If she had brazenly belittled her, then I would have responded accordingly. There was no benefit I could possibly gain from badmouthing my political partner behind her back.
“Even if they are all Demon Lords, each of their power varies infinitely depending on their individual ranks. If the continent is united, then the Demon Lords, who were commanding, will naturally form a large group. In that moment, a war not between humans and demons, but a war between demons and demons will break out. And with an incredibly high probability, you will be the ones to win.”
(TL note: You = Crescent Alliance)
“That is precise.”
Paimon laughed sheepishly.
“This lady realized that truth one step too late. Until that moment, this lady believed that our supply lines had just been pillaged by the humans. Surely our fellow Demon Lords would not have betrayed us······ at that time, during those days, this lady could not imagine that possibility.”
Although after knowing that truth, Barbatos claimed a few good people and established the Plains Faction, is what Paimon added at the end.
“This lady had a slightly different way of thinking. The reason why this lady had devoted herself to war until that moment was because this lady believed that the unity of the continent was the sole path for demonkind. If we can just subjugate the humans, then the days where demonkind can live bountifully and peacefully will unfold before us. This lady was able to commit slaughter without hesitation because she believed that······.”
However, Paimon realized.
She realized the fact that, on the contrary, if the continent were ever united, then the land of demons will burn in a hellfire.
The fact that the instant the pretext known as the subjugation of humanity is over, then the warring states period will arrive and tear the demon races asunder.
For a single emperor, the entire demon continent will bleed and be split into two sides just to raise a single King of Kings. What meaning could there possibly be in such a thing? What was that continental conquest for? If the result of fighting for the demon race was the chaos of demonkind, then was that in itself not already an antinomy? Paimon pondered and continued to ponder······.
And she arrived at a conclusion.
“Humans, are a necessary evil.”
At a self-evident fact.
“We may also be a necessary evil to the humans as well. We need each other. If either side of humans or demons never existed, then we would have gone to an eternal war against our own kind much sooner.”
A correct deduction.
Paimon let out a sigh.
“Even if the continent were to be united or not, war will still break out anyway. Is that not strange? No commoner desires for war. If their life and assets are guaranteed, then be it humans or demons, they would more than gladly not jump into war. And yet, just why does war continue to occur? The answer is simple.”
Paimon whispered in a small voice.
“The rulers. It is solely because of the individuals in power.”
“Imagine if the people could decide on their own whether we should go to war or not. The people have to take upon themselves all of the hardships that happen during a war on their own. As they have to carry spears by themselves and commit murder, they have to cover the expenses consumed during a war on their own, and they have to bear the remainder of their lives in the cities and villages that will be completely devastated due to the aftermath of war. The people obviously will not easily approve the idea of war.”
A heated feeling started to flow from Paimon’s voice a little bit at a time.
“However, the individuals in power are different. They are not a part of the people. They are the owners of the people. They are fellows who will always bet whatever they possess on a wager if it means that they can possibly obtain a more substantial gain······. This lady came to the revelation. Be it humanity or demonkind, as long as society is being treated as the possession of the people of authority, war can never be stopped!”
Paimon’s pupils, that were as crimson as blood, silently glimmered with rage.
“How foolish were we······!?”
“How dim-witted were we Demon Lords!? We thought that we were working for all of demonkind. We believed that we were fighting for the commoners. And yet, look. The Demon Lords were not actually the ones to have fallen. Only a small minority of Demon Lords bled and died on the battlefield. The ones to have truly been sacrificed⎯⎯⎯⎯the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of things that were killed off, were not the Demon Lords, but the very demons whom we were trying to protect······!”
Paimon gritted her teeth.
“Despite that, we believed, we thought that it was a flag for demonkind. It was a hypocrisy and a deception······. Even if the continent were united, hypocrisy most likely will not disappear. In the end, deception will never cease in human villages or even demon towns. By blazing more splendidly, it is clear that it will burn that and this side of the mountain range, the human and demon continents, and the entire world. Within a war that would never vanish anyway, we were pushing them into a flame that could never be extinguished due to the single justification that we were authority figures!”
The scenery, once more.
Instead of a pure white space, a battlefield.
Instead of fluttering cherry blossom petals, scattering ashes.
Instead of a tranquil stillness, the screams cried out by humans and demons.
Slaughter, just endless slaughter.
“It was this lady’s mistake!”
With the burning world behind her, Paimon cried out.
“It was not the fault of the humans who had become commoners. It was not the fault of the demons who had become subjects, either. The delusion that an ideal society would unfold if we led the world and governed over society, that deep-seated grudge was the cause of every tragedy!”
That was why.
Indeed, that was why Paimon had suddenly started to cling to me. She knew what meaning the speech, which I had created, contained. She believed that she had discovered cordiality within the proclamation that I had prepared bastardly.
Demon Lord Paimon was a republican.
“Dantalian, the speech that human child had recited, this lady guesses that you are the one who had actually written it. A society where a minority of rulers have a monopoly over everything is wrong. Anyone. No, to be more exact, a society where all people have authority must unfurl. That is why this lady wishes to make a request of you.”
“Please come underneath this lady’s flag. The Plains Faction, Barbatos cannot shoulder you. You will be thrown away. You will be tossed aside. However, this lady is different. This lady is capable of understanding your thoughts. This lady can support whatever path you decide to take as much as you desire.”
Both of Paimon’s eyes shined with certainty.
How should I say it?
This is a masterpiece.
Using Paimon’s resolve here and controlling her to my desire was simple. However, if she appeals to me this passionately, then even I, who’s pessimistic towards the world, would have something I wish to slightly ask her.
The direction itself where Paimon was pointing the end of her fan was correct. In the end, republicans will be the ones to obtain influence. However, in order to say the single phrase ‘in the end’, just how much blood has to be shed?
It was not on the level of tens of thousands. It was not to the degree of something like hundreds of thousands, either. Millions, they had to be massacred millions of times and then some, at that. Is the simple term ‘in the end’ able to endure the weight of that blood? Of course, it is something that does not very much matter to me, Paimon. I am curious as to how resolved you are······.
“Your Highness Paimon, I apologize, but in my eyes, I can only see you as an idealist. I can positively say that in order to establish a republic society, as Your Highness Paimon has implied, then that in itself will require a countless number of sacrifices.”
“This lady thinks so as well.”
Did she really? Was she truly determined to let a certain amount of blood flow? Referentially, I am keeping in mind the possibility that it will take more than a million lives in order to defeat the Imperial Princess Elizabeth. Have you also swallowed down that much venom?
Do not worry. I am a kind gentleman. Regardless of my benefits, I was sufficiently ready to test your intensity.
“Think about it a little bit more. After achieving the unity of the continent, the people will shed a countless amount of blood. In order to accomplish republicanism, the people will have to bleed just as much as well. Either way, the commoners will be sacrificed. Is that not so?”
Whether we chase after Barbatos’ ideal or Paimon’s ideal, the people are going to be the ones to be sacrificed anyway. If that was the case, then Paimon, I am somewhat curious.
“Why is Her Excellency Barbatos incapable and yet Your Highness Paimon is?”
“If you are unable to answer this, then Your Highness is nothing more than another person in power as well. In order to achieve one’s goal, you will burn the world and lure the people, who are blinded by the flames, into being moths. Of course, I do not personally dislike that sort of thing······.”
I did not really fancy the fact that you were still pretending to be detached.
“Your Highness Paimon, I do not have even the slightest intention to criticize your idea in itself. I think that it is noble. However, is Barbatos’ unwavering will not beautiful as well?”
“Therefore, if you wish to bring me into the Mountain Faction, then convince me. If you are going to convince me, then do not simply preach about the rightness of your idea. Show me your plan. Unfold your blueprint. Republicanism, that is all fine. So concretely, how do you intend to shed only a small amount of blood? Is there a possibility?”
Paimon closed her mouth.
As expected, did she have no answer? Regardless, I was not disappointed by that. Why Paimon, who was my political rival, had relentlessly dashed towards me the moment the speech was over, I was satisfied with finding out just that. Furthermore, there was no one easier to exploit than an idealist politician who was filled to the brim with desire. This is something to look forward to.
I shrugged my shoulders.
“It seems it is about time to wake up from this dream, soon. As a matter of fact, I already have a previous engagement with Her Excellency Barbatos. It is fine. I do not plan to go around and say in public that Your Highness Paimon is a republican. Rest assured and······.”
Paimon was staring straight at me.
“If it is a blueprint, then without a doubt, this lady has established one.”
“Dantalian, this lady is not only slow-witted. 400 years ago, before the term republicanism could be applied to this lady’s ideal, this lady had already established a plan thoroughly.”
An amusing grandiloquence. I narrowed my eyes and tried to feel out Paimon’s intention. I gazed at her with eyes that looked as if they were asking ‘So?’, and pressured her to continue speaking.
“This lady thought that instead of a society that was like the one within the demon continent, where tradition was excessively firm, would it not be a bit easier to establish a republic within the human society? That in order to figure out whether a republic will work or not, this lady must test it out on the other side of the mountain range first.”
Don’t tell me.
Paimon’s face was steadfast. Her sharp eyes contained the fierceness of a revolutionary who had no doubts about the path they had to take. For the first time in quite a long while, I was at a loss for words and merely fumbled my tongue.
“What do you······.”
“The Republic of Batavia.”
“It is the sole republic within the human continent. Have you never thought that it was strange? The fact that within the continent, where kingdoms and empires are running rampant, there is a single remote nation that claims to be a republic? Dantalian, do you, perhaps, think that that sort of induced nation formed all on its own?”
A shock struck my head.
I felt that a truth, which no history book possessed and no one could have possibly known, was approaching. While carefully glancing at me, who was in that state, Paimon gripped both ends of her skirt and spoke. She bent her waist forward like a lady who was greeting her partner for the first time within a ballroom. With a gesture that was detached and elegant in all respects.
“This lady shall introduce herself for the first time, Dantalian, the man who is trying to become the king of peasants.”
A good-natured smile was placed on Paimon’s lips.
“This lady’s name is Paimon. A monarch of the 9th Rank and the one who had unduly been bestowed the title of Demon Lord of Benevolence. The representative of the dignified demonkind and one of the lords who occupies one of the 72 seats. And⎯⎯⎯⎯.”
“⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯And, the leader of the Republic of Batavia.”
TL Note: Thank you for reading this chapter! I was actually surprised I could get this done within a week.
For the people who are STILL complaining about the image resolutions, the image sizes are all 820×1200. Making it bigger won’t fix this for you guys. It’s WordPress’ fault that it lowers the resolution of the images on your mobiles. Moreover, like I’ve said several dozens of times now, turn your phone to landscape mode or just open the image in another tab. If you can’t be bothered to do that, then I apologize, I can’t do anything more for you. Unless you’re able to convince the majority of people who are actually fine with it, tough luck.