Lord of the Demon Realm — Part 2
Editors: Sebas Tian, Joker, Speedphoenix
“That’s right!” said the demon king. “I want you to do something that none of the beastkin or demihumans I’ve allied myself with can. I want you to become a symbol of our strength, demonic strength. I want to be able to use you as an example and show all other demons that the strong believe in my ideals.”
Oh, I see how it is.
“So… what you’re really saying is that you want me as a decoy while you pull all kinds of bullshit behind the scenes?”
“Exactly! I knew you’d get it.”
Holy shit! This blackhearted son of a bitch just totally straight-up admitted he wanted to use me.
“Letting the fiends learn of our new, powerful ally will make them much more wary of our actions. Having you around will make their actions easier to predict. They’ll even need more time to make them. And the more time I have, the more cards I can play,” said Phynar. “In other words, I need you to attract their attention in order to make it easier for me to play my hand and constrain my foes.”
“Yeah, I figured it was something like that.”
Publicly announcing the fact that I had become one of the demon king’s allies was a surefire way to elicit the opposing faction’s curiosity. They were sure to investigate my origins given that I would have more or less appeared out of nowhere, and they were sure to spend precious manpower keeping an eye on me. I didn’t know much about the lord of the demon realm, but the bit I did know was enough for me to fully understand that he would be able to take advantage of the situation and throw a wrench into his foes’ plans.
“Alright, I’m pretty sure I’ve got a good general idea of what you want. But honestly, I don’t really care about this little civil war of yours.” I intentionally twisted my lips into a cruel smile. “I don’t care who wins. I couldn’t really give half a fuck about the death toll either. Numbers are just that to me, numbers. And it should go without saying that I don’t really care who dies either. I’m not about to jump into something dangerous for something I couldn’t give two shits about. And I’m sure you know that already. So how about you skip the small talk and tell me how you were planning to make this worth my time?”
It was true that the fiends were my foes. But that didn’t automatically make the demon king my ally. I didn’t need to cooperate with him; I could easily crush the fiends even without his help. And again, that was only assuming that they really were my enemies and that I wasn’t just being fed a bunch of lies.
“W-What, y—” The agent’s jaw dropped in an expression of shock. She opened her mouth to voice her indignance, but she was cut off before she could.
“Haloria? Silence, please.” Her boss flashed an intimidating smile and got her to shut up immediately. She even backed off a few steps in deference to his will.
“Of course I’ll be willing to make it worth your time, my friend,” said the demon king with his usual creepy rape smile. “I think of my allies as business partners. Cooperating is no different from starting a joint venture, and joint ventures only exist because they benefit all parties involved.”
“Good,” I said. “So how about you tell me a bit more about the details. What exactly have you prepared for me?”
“Well, there happen to be a few things,” chuckled the king. “The first is, of course, information. We’ll continue to send you updates on the enemy we share.”
“Yeah, uh, that much is a given.”
The only reason that I had even come to the demon realm in the first place was because I had been promised intel. Not delivering on it simply wouldn’t make sense.
“The second thing I have to offer is one I think you’ll be especially interested in,” he said. “I’ve heard a lot about your family situation, and I was made privy to the fact that you would be interested in taking your wife, your daughters, and your maids along on a trip around the demon realm.”
“Yeah, what of it?”
“If you help me, I’ll use my authority to grant you access to more than just the demon realm. I’ll speak to the demihumans and beastkin alike on your behalf and allow you to not only enter their territories but also visit areas the likes of which regular tourists would never be allowed to enter. Take areas considered sacred, for example. They would normally be off-limits, but I’m certain that a few magic words from me would be more than enough to grant you permission to enter them. And I can even get you acquainted with some of the other races’ higher-ups, if you would like.”
G-Goddamn, this motherfucker knows exactly what I want!
“I’ll even throw in plenty of information about all of the demon realm’s points of interest. The demon races may not all respect me, but I am still the throne’s rightful heir. My predecessor appointed me to the position himself, and as such, I have the right to let you into most places. And that’s not all.”
The tactician’s assault was masterful. He knew exactly where to hit me to make it really count.
“Keep talking. What else have you got?”
“My understanding of labyrinths is that they grow by feeding on all sorts of different things, and as a demon lord, I’m sure you would enjoy seeing your dungeon prosper,” he said. “I can provide you with sustenance for your labyrinth in whatever form you’d like it in. I would prefer to avoid turning my people into sacrificial lambs if possible, but I wouldn’t really mind if you insist.”
“Yeah no. I’m not exactly all that keen on sacrifices either,” I said. It was true that death provided the dungeon with exp points, but that kind of thing seemed a bit too evil for my taste. “How about cash instead?”
“Cash? That’s a wonderful suggestion! That’s a type of capital we wouldn’t have any trouble working with.”
“Oh, and just saying, I don’t mean I want your local currency or whatever. I want things that are inherently valuable.”
“Of course. What would you think of an entire room’s worth of gold, silver, and other valuables?”
“Let’s see… what else was there…? Oh, right! How about women?”
“Nah. I’m good.”
“Really? I heard you were quite the… connoisseur.”
“Yeah, no. That’s nothing but a misunderstanding.”
I mean, I know I kiiiinda let myself get a bit too far off the rails, but that’s just how men are. Totally wasn’t my fault. Totally. Besides, accepting that is pretty much no different from offing myself on the spot. I’m not exactly all that interested in reincarnating as a butchered corpse.
Though Lefi didn’t exactly fall under the canine classification, she had an exceptionally good nose. She would definitely find out if I cheated on her no matter how hard I tried to hide it.
“Well, in that case, what do you say to having the women switched out for more valuables?”
I spent a few moments silently contemplating his offer. I was more or less willing to accept it given that it didn’t really inconvenience me in any which way. I was probably going to end up crushing the fiends the moment they bore their fangs anyway. The demon king’s offer was more or less just a nice added bonus I got for doing it sooner rather than later. There really didn’t seem to be much of a reason to decline.
Of course, there was always the chance that he would betray me. His titles told me everything I needed to know about his propensity for treachery; I knew better than to trust someone labelled as a devious schemer. But uhhh… yeah, I’m not about to go down that rabbit hole. I can already tell that trying to figure him out is going to be an endless headache and a half. You know what? Screw it. I’ll just deal with whatever happens when it happens. If he ends up turning on me, then I’ll just take what I’m owed by force.
Though I was more than willing to resort to violence in order to claim my dues, I wasn’t exactly all that keen on making an enemy out of someone known for their tactical genius. Like figuring him out, dealing with his schemes also sounded like a rabbit hole I really did not want to bother exploring.
My final concern was that I didn’t know how strong my foes really were. My stats were pretty damn high. I was pretty sure I could bulldoze most of my enemies without any real issue. But there was always the chance that one of the people I was going to end up against would be as strong as the monsters that lived in the Wicked Forest’s deepest depths.
Moreover, like the Douchelord, I was still a living thing. They didn’t have to confront me head-on and brute force me to death. I could still be killed through the exploitation of my inherent weaknesses. Still, even that did have a bit of a strength requirement to it. It wouldn’t matter what they did if they were as weak as the bandits we encountered on our way to the capital.
You know what? I should probably make sure I check in with Leila before every fight. I’ll make sure to bring her all the intel they give me so we can have a few nice, long chats about risk mitigation. Yeah, that sounds like it’d be a pretty good idea.
Oh, and speaking of good ideas, I should totally wear the clown mask I was wearing back in that human city or whatever while I’m here. Wearing it will be kinda redundant if the fiend faction has already figured out that I was Clownman the whole time, but I might be able to mess with them a good bit if they haven’t. Oh, wait a second. Better idea, I’ll just get a new mask. That saves me the trouble of having to figure out if they already knew. I don’t have any other masks on hand, but I should be able to just make one on the fly if I find myself some mats. Weapon transmutation is preeeeeetty convenient, after all. Oh, and I should probably fake my character sheet real quick too. Alright, what should I name myself? I’ve already used Wye, so that’s definitely off the table. Heh. This is going to be fun. Time to be the mysterious masked man messing shit up in the demon realm! I can’t wait to hear the rumours. Everyone’ll totally be like “It’s a bird!”, “It’s a plane!”, “Wait, who the fuck is that!?” Oh man, this’ll be great.
“Oh, right.” I narrowed my eyes as I looked at the demon king. “There’s one thing I’ve been meaning to ask you. Were you responsible for all the shit that happened in Alshir?”
“Nope! Wasn’t me!” Phynar spoke in a cheerful tone as he explained everything as if it were just a matter of fact. “My plans are a lot more well thought out than that. If I was responsible, then you probably never even would have realized that there was something going on in the first place.”
Whew. That’s some confidence right there. I couldn’t help but react with a forced smile.
“Alright. That’s all I wanted to know,” I said. “I can’t give you an answer right away since I’m probably going to need to consult my maid, but I can at least tell you that things are looking up.”
“That’s wonderful!” said Phynar. “The fact that you’re considering it has already made inviting you well worth the effort and investment.”
“Me considering it has already made this worth it? I guess that means you really did have a backup plan or two in mind, huh?”
“Of course, but your cooperation saves me quite a bit of trouble.”
Yeah, I figured as much. Banking everything on a single plan sounds like a terrible idea. Especially if it’s something that you’re not even sure will work. No one would ever get anything done if they didn’t think up contingencies.
“Then I’ll be hoping for an answer tomorrow. I’ll have you presented with some of the demon realm’s finest delicacies tonight. Sleep tight, Yuki,” giggled the king. “I’ll be looking forward to working with you.”
“Alright, before I go, I just gotta say one thing. Stop smiling at me like that. It’s creepy as hell and gives me the fucking chills.”
“Awwww. How could you be so mean? Can’t you see that I’m just trying to express my affection?”
“Affection? Dude, gross! What the fuck!? Come on dude, at least leave it at friendship or something!” I said as my face twisted in disgust. “Not that I really have any intentions of befriending someone as devious as you anyway. As far as I’m concerned, we’re just working together. And that’s it.”
“It’s okay, Yuki, I understand,” he said with a smile. “Geez, you’re so shy.”
“I LITERALLY JUST TOLD YOU TO STOP THAT!”
I couldn’t help but feel as if he wanted to pillage and violate my donut hole, so I ended up shouting as I clenched my ass in fear. And with said shout as the closing remark, my audience with the king of the demon realm finally came to an end.