Chapter 180 – Misanthropy(2)
“You didn’t teach him breathing techniques in secret, did you?”
“Jeez, please believe me, Captain! Do you think I have the skill to teach someone about citta?”
(TL Note: Citta)
The young dwarf was sweating profusely.
Breathing techniques were the first step of mana citta. The method itself wasn’t difficult, but whether you could do them properly or not was an entirely separate matter. There was a time where I acted like an unruly child as I tried to learn martial arts from Lapis. At that time, Lapis said this to me with cold eyes as she taught me about breathing techniques.
– Your Highness has absolutely no talent when it comes to things related to martial arts.
She declared. After that day, I obediently practiced shooting a crossbow. Luke was being praised as some sort of genius and prodigy with the stats that I had painstakingly raised. Life couldn’t be more unfair than this.
“I made him practice swinging his sword around 400 times and I suddenly started to hear that familiar hoo, hoo, sound, you know? When I listened more carefully, I realized he was doing a breathing technique. Damn it. You have no idea how surprised I was.”
“How could some mountain child figure out citta on his own?”
Jacquerie didn’t seem convinced. The young dwarf started patting his chest.
“Ah, why would I lie about this? I told you, didn’t I? You should see for yourself. Even if you torture me now, you’ll come to your senses once you see it for yourself.”
“I agree with Rekan.”
I decided to give him my support.
“If he is telling the truth, then would this not be interesting? Jacquerie, you should try taking care of Luke once.”
“……I understand. If it turns out that Rekan was lying, then.”
Jacquerie glared at the young dwarf as he continued.
“I will carry out strict military procedures.”
“Very well. You can cut my head off or whip me. I don’t care.”
The young dwarf received the threat pompously.
“But you’ll also experience the same thing I did soon.”
“Hmph, you’ll see. I do not believe in prodigies.”
Jacquerie, therefore, withdrew from doing top-level work.
Like this, a small uproar occurred because of the hero siblings, but that was nothing more than a ripple in a river. Even if the ripples were huge, the river was still going to flow to its destination. Our <Liberation Alliance> unit continued like that without stopping.
We were originally planning to go to the capital in order to join up with the Empress Dowager. However, I had changed our plans after I took control of our group. We headed for the northern region of Frankia.
The northern region of Frankia was renowned for its rich land. Different from the northeastern region, their reclamation work was done so vastly that you could see golden wheat from one horizon to the other. They also had the highest population. It would be fine to call it Frankia’s lifeline.
There are two Demon Lord Castles here.
We have to cooperate with them and flip Frankia over. If they attack from the outside while communicating in secret with us on the inside, then even the strongest of domains would inevitably fall.
“His Highness Leraje is a key figure within the Plains Faction.”
First, Rank 14 Demon Lord Leraje.
“He is the next strongest after Her Highness Barbatos and His Highness Beleth. He is a traditionally powerful individual. However, as you can see.”
Jeremi showed me a map. A detailed map of the geography within Frankia was drawn on it. It was the highest quality map you could use for military affairs. She was able to acquire this as the leader of the finest assassin group, but even nobles wouldn’t be able to lay their eyes on something like this.
There were areas on the map marked with thick crosses.
“Different from most other Demon Lords, his base is in the center of the continent. It is extremely difficult to build up your forces in such a position. Fufu, that is why His Highness Zepar has more authority within the Plains Faction than His Highness Leraje.”
Brother Beleth is Rank 13, Leraje is Rank 14, and General Zepar is Rank 16.
If things went according to their ranks, then Beleth and Leraje should be the ones competing for second-in-command. However, even during the last Crescent Alliance, the Demon Lords who were competing for second-in-command were Brother Beleth and General Zepar.
I felt uneasy. Someone weaker than them was being treated with respect within the faction. There weren’t a lot of people who would accept a situation like this peacefully.
“Mm, he must have a lot of complaints about the current situation.”
“Yes. His Highness Leraje was unable to join up with the main army during the last Crescent Alliance. His Highness Leraje had to attack the humans from the back with a detached force while the main army was fighting the human alliance vigorously on the frontlines.”
Thanks to this, the Empire of Frankia was unable to fight the Crescent Alliance with their full force. It was only a single Demon Lord, but Rank 14 was right below the strongest individuals. The monsters under his command totaled between 2,000 and 3,000.
Thousands of monsters were moving together and attacking the backline as a single entity under a Demon Lord’s command. This prevented all of the regional lords within the northern area of Frankia from moving. What lord would dispatch their troops when their domains could be turned into dust if they were to make the wrong move?
Leraje carried out his part splendidly.
“Despite all his efforts, he only has a few exploits…….”
“He definitely lacks in anything flashy. The flowers of war are the large-scale battles, after all.”
He carried out a role that was barely rewarded.
For example, look at General Zepar. He was assigned as the vanguard and got through the Black Mountains. All sorts of praises followed his accomplishment. This opened a path for the Crescent Alliance, showed the strength of the Plains Faction, and created an honorable start to the war……. What about Leraje?
In truth, Leraje managed to hold down half of the northern region of Frankia on their own. The number of human soldiers that were being held down by Leraje most likely totaled around 15,000 men.
He managed to handle 15,000 soldiers on his own and this was definitely a huge accomplishment when you look at the entire picture of the Crescent Alliance.
However, what he did was nothing more than guerilla warfare.
Leraje’s goal wasn’t to win battles. It was to prevent the humans from departing by making them constantly uneasy about when and where they might get attacked. Leraje would be busy intimidating the humans while the humans would be busy protecting their land……. This prevented any sort of large-scale battles from occurring.
So he naturally didn’t have a lot of major accomplishments.
This was why Barbatos couldn’t award Leraje that much even if she wanted to. If Leraje was deemed as the person who contributed the most, then the other Demon Lords would immediately complain.
– How are we third-rate contributors when we lost our precious men on the battlefield, but the Demon Lord who didn’t shed a single drop of blood is being treated as if he contributed the most?
– If it is like this, then why do we have to shed so many tears, sweat, and blood?
It was obvious that it would end up like this.
The other Demon Lords obviously know that detached forces are as important as the main army. However, what you know in your head and what you feel in your heart are two separate things.
They had lost hundreds of the monsters which they had raised for several decades, but that other person didn’t incur any losses at all. And yet they contributed less than him? Most people wouldn’t understand this. Distributing military merits is an unimaginably intricate task.
“Leraje might dislike me.”
“Hm? Has Your Highness met His Highness Leraje before?”
“No, this would be no different from a first encounter.”
I smiled bitterly.
“That person has been silently doing their own task and I am someone who had appeared out of nowhere and climbed up the ladder at a blinding pace. It would be unsurprising if they were saddened by this. They might think that there’s no point in working hard.”
“But, no one can possibly deny that Your Highness contributed the most…….”
“This is not a matter of rationality. This is a matter of emotions.”
Leraje will probably try to vent his pent-up sadness and frustration out on me. It would be like venting one’s anger out on a third party. This would only harm me. There was nothing of worst quality than a matter that involves emotions.
“I was thinking about using my position as Barbatos’ close aide to negotiate, but……Hm. It will probably be impossible to be the ass in the lion’s skin.”
“I see. Then what will you do?”
Jeremi sounded interested.
“Should we turn around and head south? There is a Demon Lord Castle in the southern region of Frankia as well.”
“No. The south is much too poor in comparison to the north. Even if we meddle with things there, we wouldn’t influence the civil war in any impactful way. We will be going north.”
“As I expected, I knew Your Highness would say that.”
Jeremi smiled widely. She was happy to know that I was willingly taking the difficult path.
Tsk, this damn perverted girl. Why are there no sane people around me? Only perverts are gathering around me as time passes. That old saying about birds of a feather flocking together was all a lie.
Jeremi pointed at a different spot on the map.
“Next is His Highness Ronove.”
Rank 27 Demon Lord Ronove.
“His Highness Ronove belongs to the Mountain Faction. Her Highness Paimon most likely ordered him to cooperate with us beforehand. You should be able to obtain his cooperation with ease.”
“I can only wish.”
Jeez, I really have no luck either. Why did the two Demon Lords belong to different factions? Their relationship becomes worse the closer they are. There’s a high chance that Leraje and Ronove are on cat-and-dog terms.
I let out a sigh. This sigh had become habitual.
Not only did I have to work together with a Demon Lord who is jealous of me, but I also have to mend the relationship of two Demon Lords. I didn’t have a good feeling about this. I should think up a concrete plan tonight about how I am going to make the two Demon Lords cooperate…….
I also have to deal with the lump known as the hero siblings. What is this? My peaceful days are being ravaged mercilessly. I want to live a calm life farming or something, but my surroundings won’t let me.
Laura, are you doing well? I already miss Laura’s cute moans. When I return, please gift me with four days of happy nights…….
* * *
We set up camp again on the road at night.
In the end, Jacquerie got so caught up with handling Luke that he neglected top-level work again. Jeremi and I had to make all the commands and the assassin group wound up having to prepare lunch and dinner as well. Preparing meals for about fifty people was a lot more of a hassle than I imagined.
“That snotty premature ejaculator!”
Jeremi fumed and claimed that this was all a part of that dwarf’s wicked scheme. Despite being someone whose emotions were usually as calm as a lake, this was one of those rare moments where she was genuinely angry. Both Jacquerie and Jeremi would usually go about things at their own pace, but that would all get thrown off balance once the two of them got involved with each other. A match made in heaven.
I laughed and tossed out a joke.
“Hey, want me to become your officiant later? I’m a priest of the Goddess right now, after all.”
I only tossed out a joke, but genuine bloodlust was sent my way. I flinched. The bloodlust of a trained assassin was quite literally overwhelming. I immediately surrendered and fled as soon as I received my stew. I thought I was going to die!
The sky soon became dark by the time I finished my bread and stew. I secretly paid the soldiers on night duty―I have to do this to keep things interesting for them and prevent wolves from getting anywhere close to us―and patted their shoulders. The soldiers on night duty were extremely grateful.
“Work hard. This may not be much, but a Demon Lord’s life is in your hands. Even if it is only for tonight, you all are a Demon Lord’s royal guards.”
“We are honored!”
“We will keep a strict watch and prevent even an ant from getting by us!”
As expected, money was directly linked with loyalty when it came to mercenaries. Their eyes changed the instant I slipped them a few gold coins. A miracle occurred where a sergeant had instantly turned into a vigorous new recruit. I gave them a grin and returned to my carriage.
Daisy was sleeping in the carriage.
The girl’s small body had its back turned to a corner. Two days had passed since the surgery, but she still showed no signs of waking up. Honestly, I also felt like it’d be great if she just kept sleeping like this forever. I rebuked myself.
‘There’s no way that would happen.’
If she was going to meet her end like this, then she would’ve never become the hero in the first place. It was a silly hope.
I laid a blanket out on top of the seat-cum-bed in the carriage and lied down. I was rather tired after practically riding a horse all day. My eyes automatically closed as soon as I lied down on the bed.
I could hear an owl hooting in the forest. It was a pleasant lullaby. I went to sleep while hoping to not have any nightmares.
How much time had passed?
I could hear a voice beyond my faint consciousness.
“As I thought.”
It was like a white curtain fluttering gently in the wind. The voice knocked on my consciousness.
I slowly opened my eyes. The shadow of a person and the darkness around us entered my vision.
A girl darker than the night itself was right before me. The girl was sitting on my body. She was looking down at me with emotionless eyes.
There was something sharp. A sharp dagger was being pointed toward me.
The feeling of sleep had yet to fully leave my head. My eyes felt heavy. Daisy muttered quietly while I was still failing to understand what was happening.
“As I thought, I cannot.”
She was holding a dagger in her two hands and holding it against my neck.
TL Note: Thanks for reading the chapter. Hello and welcome to another game of “Guess that Demon Lord’s Gender!”, featuring Leraje and Ronove, more ambiguous names! I know I used male pronouns for now, but it’s just something I defaulted to in order to make writing a bit easier. I do know Leraje’s gender now because of the early access chapters, but that still doesn’t change the turmoil I go through whenever a new Demon Lord’s name is mentioned. A true struggle indeed.
Welp, see you guys next time.