Bar — Part 3
Editors: Sebas Tian, Speedphoenix
“Oh yeah,” Nell reached into her bag and started rummaging around. “I almost forgot, but I actually have something for you, Yuki.”
The item she ended up handing me was a letter.
“The hell’s this?” I cocked an eyebrow as I took it from her and read the text written on the envelope.
To My Beloved Demon Lord
“…” I paused for a moment before more or less repeating myself. “What the actual fuck?”
“It’s from Lady Iryll,” said Nell. “She told me to give it to you the next time I saw you.”
Iryll…? Oh, right. The princess I saved.
“What’s that, Master?” asked Enne.
“J-Just something personal. Don’t worry about it.”
I turned my back on the two girls I was travelling with in order to make sure they couldn’t read the letter’s contents before opening it and running my eyes over the page.
Dear Mr. Demon Lord,
I decided to write this letter as I thought of you while basking in the warm, early afternoon sun. I don’t think that a single day has passed where I haven’t longed to be by your side.
I’ve missed you so terribly that I’ve even tried sneaking out of the castle in order to visit you and tell you how badly I’ve wished to see you in person. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it very far. Father’s soldiers caught me in the act and brought me back home almost immediately. Father was so awfully angry he gave me a long lecture on safety. Still, I won’t give up. I’m going to keep trying my best to make it all the way to your home. But, I would be awfully pleased if you came to visit me before I finally succeed.
I can’t wait to see you again. I spend every night dreaming of the day you’ll finally kidnap me.
I could easily tell that the princess had put her all into writing the letter. The handwriting was neat and looked like it had been printed with the utmost care. Reading it led me to pause and freeze up.
There was a problem.
I didn’t know how I was supposed to react.
Iryll had sent me the type of personal note that could only possibly be described as a love letter. It was my first time getting one, so I simply didn’t know what I was supposed to think or how I was supposed to feel. I was, of course, happy to know that she liked me as much as she did, but that aside, I was just confused.
Silence aside, the only reaction I could muster was to get rid of the evidence before it caused any trouble. I slowly folded the letter back up and dumped it right into my inventory.
“I’m going to be here for a while, but could you make sure to write a response before I leave?” asked Nell.
“Do I really have to?”
“Not replying would definitely make Lady Iryll sad,” said the hero. “I can help if the problem is not really knowing what to say.”
“…Yeah, I’ll be taking you up on that then.”
Nell had immediately pinpointed one of my greatest concerns. I had no idea how I was supposed to respond to a love letter addressed to me by a little girl, and there was no way I could possibly consult either of the two I was travelling with. Telling them that I was agonizing over how I was supposed to respond to a kid indirectly confessing her love to me was no different from stabbing myself in the face with a rusty knife.
“Right.” I coughed to cover up my lack of composure. “So I know we kinda got off track, but what did you say you were doing here again, Nell?”
“Hmmm…” She paused for a moment to contemplate the ramifications of divulging her mission. “I don’t think His Majesty or Carlotta would be too mad at me if I told you, so I guess I might as well. But you can’t tell anyone else, okay?”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yup. I think it’ll be okay. Yuki’s an ally, and a reassuring one to have at that.”
“Okay. If you say so.”
Though she had stepped in to pull the brakes on the conversation if necessary, Ronia backed off the moment Nell confirmed her intentions. The speed of her retreat was undoubtedly a result of trust. Wow, Ms. Hero. Look at you, all reliable ‘n trustworthy ‘n stuff.
With the other girl’s complaints silenced, Nell quickly scanned her surroundings and made sure no one was listening in before starting to speak. “Honestly, it’s not really that big of a secret. I’m guessing you already know who the people behind the incident in the castle really are, right?”
The terms she used were pretty obvious as far as I was concerned, but they were a bit too vague for those that lacked context to understand.
“The incident made us realize that we couldn’t stay passive, so we started sending people over in order to gather more information. The only problem is that we couldn’t send too many. The only people that can really get by around here are those that are a bit stronger, so it’s just me, Ronia, and a few others. The reason only she and I are here right now is because we’re all working on different tasks.”
“Sounds like a pretty bold move,” I said.
Being the hero meant that Nell was one of her country’s most powerful and influential pieces. In fact, I wouldn’t have been surprised to discover that she was amongst the strongest human beings alive. Sending someone so important deep into enemy territory was about as risky as playing with fire. Though if you ask me, this seems more like a stroke of fate than anything. As far as tropes go, heroes are more or less destined to be sent to demon realms.
“I think so too,” said Nell.
“Was the king the one that came up with this crazy plan?”
Wow. I’ve really gotta give it to him. That man’s got balls of steel.
“So that’s why I’m here. Why are you here, Yuki?”
“Apparently, the demon realm’s king wanted to see me for something.”
“Really?” said Nell with her eyes wide.
“Yeah.” I nodded. “You remember how I crushed some dumbass’ plans or whatever last time I saw you? Yeah, so apparently, there’s a group of demons that kinda don’t really like me because of it. The king doesn’t really like the people who don’t like me, so he wanted to check if we could lend each other a hand.”
“I see… So does that mean that the people who don’t like you are…”
“Yeah, it’s pretty much what you’re thinking,” I said. “Do you know how the demon realm has been split into two main factions?”
“That was one of the first things we uncovered after getting here.”
“Good. That means I can keep this short and sweet. So basically, one of the two factions is the one the king is in charge of. The other is made up of my enemies, and I guess yours too. I hear it’s headed by a group of fiends.”
Hearing the details caused Nell’s expression to turn more serious.
“Hey Yuki, can I uhm… ask you to do me a favour?”
“Lemme guess, you want intel? Yeah, sure. I’ll pass on whatever the demon realm’s king tells me.”
“Really!? You will!?”
“Yeah, sure. Why not?” I said with a shrug. “The king said he’d tell me a bunch of stuff, but he never said anything about not leaking it. I can pretty much say whatever I want, so it’s all yours as long as you keep me up to date on what you’ve got figured out too.”
“Okay!” said Nell. “That works for me, but are you really sure you won’t mind?”
“What do you mean?”
“The people we’ve brought with us are good at what they do, but we don’t really have that many connections in the demon realm just yet, so we probably won’t really have that much information to share to begin with, so it kind of feels like you’re going to be getting the short end of the stick.”
“Don’t sweat it,” I said. “I already benefit plenty.”
Cross-referencing what I learned with what Nell learned might not have seemed like the best of ideas at first glance, but having a variety of sources meant that I would be able to be more confident in what I knew. Moreover, it also made me less dependent on the demon king and his lackeys. I didn’t know how skilled Nell and her friends really were at gathering information, but I believed it was safe to assume they were at least fairly competent.
Moreover, trading information more or less made Nell and I allies. Having weak allies probably wouldn’t help much, but Nell was far from weak. I assumed that most of the others dispatched with her were probably around Ronia’s level, which meant they were decently powerful, even with the demon realm’s standards in mind. Chances were, I would be able to count on them should anything ever come to pass.
“Is that all, Leila?” I whispered.
“I believe so, My Lord,” responded the maid with a smile.
Yeah, that’s right. You guessed it. All that smart sounding stuff? Nope. Not me. Leila had basically been whispering into my ear throughout the entire conversation. And in doing so, she once again proved that she was a master of negotiation and that her foresight far eclipsed my own. Yeah, you know what? I’mma just leave this kinda stuff to her from now on.
I was so impressed that I felt the urge to pull a Lyuu and submit to her while say something along the lines of, Wow Leila! Thanks for always tellin’ me what to do!
“Thanks, Yuki,” said Nell. “Knowing that you’re here to help makes me feel a lot less nervous and a lot more motivated.”
“No problem,” I said with a chuckle. “And I’d say that this is pretty much as good an opportunity as any other for you to start referring to me as Mr. Chic the Stylish Badass.”
“I think that’s probably the one thing I’d never call you.”
Oh, fine. Have it your way then. Though I felt the urge to grumble about it, I didn’t actually mind the fact that Nell wasn’t going along with my whims. In fact, I probably would have been more bothered if she had.