The Hero’s Subordinate, the Demon Lord of Righteousness, Takes the Stage — Part 1
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
The first thing I did after parting ways with Nell, Enne, and the princess was to jump into a group of armed men. Unlike me, they weren’t dressed in formal attire. Nor were they permitted on castle grounds. They were, by all accounts, trespassing in the king’s garden.
“Take this, asshole!” I grabbed the nearest intruder by the face, gave him a good squeeze, and catapulted him into one of his allies before any member of the group managed to recover from the shock of me appearing out of thin air. Admittedly, the way I opened was dirty, but even so, their inability to act was their problem, not mine.
“W-who the hell are you!?”
Rather than answering his question, I chose to give him a good old roundhouse kick to the gut before dragon punching the person beside him and sending the poor soul spiraling through the air.
“What the fuck is going on!? God damn it!”
Finally, only after watching four of their allies fall did they draw their swords and start swinging. There was a whole group of them, but the difference in our stats made avoiding damage as easy as counting to 1. I worked my way through the crowd with punches and kicks as I weaved between their attacks. The fact that I easily snapped their blades with nothing but my bare hands left them too dumbfounded to react before they were incapacitated.
“Do you understand what yo—” The man who seemed to be in charge attempted to reason with me, but I wasn’t having any of it.
“Shut the fuck up, retard! I don’t have time for your shit!”
After getting a running start, I lifted the lower half of my body and drop-kicked him in the face. With that, the last man standing fell, or rather, didn’t fall. My attack had buried his head in the wall behind him and locked him in place.
A few minutes was all it took for me to render the entire squadron unconscious at my feet.
“That was quite the rampage, Masquerade.”
A certain familiar lady knight greeted me in an exasperated tone. She, Carlotta De Maya was not only Nell’s boss, but as evidenced from the numerous men trailing behind her, also the leader of an entire order of paladins. I didn’t exactly know her well, but she wasn’t a stranger. She’d offered me plenty of aid and supported several of my endeavors when I first visited Alshir.
“Yeah, well, you’d probably feel like going on a rampage too if you were me. You think I can just sit around and take my time while a bunch of horny ass nobles are hitting on my fiancée? Fuck no! I’ve gotta hurry the hell back and spray the bastards until they buzz off.”
“The way you’re describing the situation almost makes it sound like you can quite literally see it happening.” She chuckled before continuing in a more curious tone. “And when exactly did the two of you get engaged? I wasn’t aware of you being so close.”
“Yeah, we weren’t, but then things happened.”
“Yeah, and lots of ‘em.”
“I see…” she chuckled. “I was hoping for a more informative answer, but I guess that’ll have to do for now.”
“Anyway, if you’re here, I’m guessing I probably wouldn’t be wrong to assume you’re already done taking out all the goons you were supposed to be in charge of, right?”
“Correct. We’ve subdued and captured every group you informed us of before they’d even realized that they’d walked straight into a trap.”
“Sweet. Then all that’s left is for us to take care of the few remaining guys hanging around inside the castle and call it a day.”
“I concur. No mercy will be spared for any who try to bring harm to Nell.”
We exchanged a pair of vicious grins as we began making our way back to the castle. As was made evident by our dialogue, we were in the midst of a joint operation. My investigations ultimately led me to conclude that most of the church did not, in fact, want to see Nell removed. There were only two major players that did, a pair of cardinals. One was the asshole I’d spied on, and the other was one of his close friends. Not even their subordinates seemed all that keen on obeying them, but I hadn’t known the extent to which their influence spread.
That was why an alliance with the church hadn’t come easily. Carlotta belonged to an order outside of those that fell under their command and she was the only influential figure in the religious organisation that I knew I could trust. Even the king had vouched for her. Still, my first attempt to approach her hadn’t gone so well as the person in question had not been present. She had been out on a job with no firm expected return date, so at the time, I’d given up on securing the church’s cooperation.
Fortunately, she happened to get back just in the nick of time, so I got in touch and asked for her help. Knight Lady immediately offered her assistance after hearing of the circumstances. It seemed that she wasn’t exactly all that keen on letting “senile old geezers run the church as they pleased.” The efficacy of her aid seemed to know no bounds. She was able to, in the blink of an eye, determine all those that would take our side, and those that wouldn’t. The overly-competent paladin even went as far as to immediately speak to and persuade everyone that needed persuading. Thanks to her, I was able to more or less throw the very concept of giving a shit about the church’s affairs right out the window. And that wasn’t even the end of it. She was even able to deploy a group of knights in order to help me with the task I had at hand: apprehending everyone involved. This referred to not only the groups of thugs that had been positioned near many of the city’s more important government facilities, but also the soldiers poised to arrest them.
The “genius plan” that my foes had conducted was a basic implementation of the classic match-pump approach. They had planned to secretly create a problem such that they could take credit for solving it. That is, all of the thugs gathered in Alshir today were only present because they’d been hired. Though I had no intention of referring to them as anything but some idiot’s lackeys, most of the ruffians were technically allysian soldiers, specifically ones that had sided with the prince during his attempted uprising. As they were just following orders, none of the men had been punished, even after the king had wrestled back his control over the country. But that didn’t mean that they had truly been forgiven. Their colleagues, along with others aware of their misdeeds, always gave them looks of suspicion and disrespect. And evidently, that was something that they were far from happy with.
That was likely one of the reasons that Argus had been able to persuade them to do his bidding. I wasn’t sure exactly how the conversation went, as it had happened before I arrived in Alshir. Whatever the case, it didn’t actually seem like the thugs were even aware that they’d been set up, which meant they were probably going to be silenced the moment they played their roles. Eh, not my problem. That’s what they get for making poor decisions and picking shitty allies.
If Nell took no part in removing the attackers and simply continued to enjoy the evening while her political opponents had their men wrap everything up, then it would be possible for them to use the incident as evidence to claim that she was unnecessary and that it was they who truly kept Allysia safe.
If their propaganda was to be spread to the public, then Nell’s position was sure to worsen. Because her country was too stricken by fear to blindly put its trust in her. The people needed someone or something capable of delivering certain victory. They needed a symbol, a symbol in which they could put their trust, a symbol that would never let them down so long as their beliefs held firm. If they knew of the extent of Nell’s power, then they would not have been anywhere near as willing to badmouth her. But they didn’t. That was why they spread the rumours they heard. And that was why learning that she’d simply ate, drank, and danced while the nation’s monarch was put under threat would shatter the little bit of hope they had left for her.
“I have to say, you’re quite the terrifying man.” Knight Lady spoke to me as we marched towards our next objective.
“What do you mean?”
“Your combat prowess is ridiculous. Normally, men of your caliber aren’t expected to have any other skills, but you’ve proven, through this, that you’re also highly proficient at gathering information. The fact that you’ve gathered this much information all by yourself almost leads me to suspect that you’re all-seeing.”
“…Alright, fair enough. I do seem kinda terrifying, if you put it that way,” I said with a bit of a smile. Knight Lady’s guess was surprisingly accurate. I wasn’t exactly all-seeing, but I was able to see and hear whatever I wanted so long as I deployed my evil eyes and evil ears appropriately.
The days that I’d spent in Alshir were busy. I was always doing something or another behind the scenes, regardless of whether I was learning etiquette, getting the art of dance hammered into me, or playing house with Enne and the princess. Toiling away at espionage ultimately proved itself an excellent investment. The retard I was up against had never even considered the possibility that I was good enough at sneaking around to hear him rant about his plans within the confines of his own home. The fact that he repeatedly divulged every last detail right in front of me had made me cackle on multiple occasions. Heh. That’s what you get for underestimating a Demon Lord.
That said, knowing was only half the battle. Not even I could single handedly wipe out all the rogues in the capital myself, at least not in a timely manner. There were far too many of them. Enlisting the help of the king’s men was also unfortunately not possible. The royal guard was too busy with security and had no time to spare for my antics. Fortunately, Knight Lady had swooped in at the last minute and saved the day.
“But I mean, honestly, it’s kinda par of course. Being a part of the hero’s party is supposed to be something reserved for the best, ain’t it?”
“You’re implying that you’re actually one of her subordinates,” said the paladin, with a knowing grin.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I casually shrugged off the question. “It looks like the royal guard’s run into a group of thugs just up ahead. There’s a second group of the retard’s men sitting a bit further away. Looks like they’re waiting around before stepping in and ‘helping out,’ probably ‘cause it’d seem suspicious if they popped out of nowhere the moment the battle started’.” I narrowed my eyes as I looked a bit further off in the distance. “What do you say we wipe ‘em out while feigning ignorance?”
“Gladly.” She glanced over her shoulder and barked an order. “Listen up, men! Anyone that isn’t a royal guard is hostile. Apprehend them all, regardless of what they say!”
The paladins serving under her, Nell’s coworkers and colleagues, raised their arms in an enthusiastic cheer as they picked up the pace.
I continued leading the group for a while. It took a few minutes for us to reach the point of conflict.
Though the king’s men had been caught by surprise, they were able to hold their own against the thugs-cum-soldiers. In fact, it looked like they were likely to come out on top even if we didn’t interfere, especially since other members of the royal guard were sure to reinforce them in due time. This current status was in part a result of the men being on high alert. The king had warned them that the castle would be attacked—albeit indirectly as to not allow any potential ne’er do wells to learn that we were onto Argus’ plans.
“Alright Knight Lady, I’m going to leave backing up the royal guard to you.”
“Roger that. Where are you headed?”
“Oh, you know, just over to the ball. I’mma take this opportunity to make the asshole behind all this shit aware we’re onto him, and then rub a bit of extra salt in his wounds for good measure.”
With that and a few more parting words said, I ran off. Though I mentioned heading to the ball, I wasn’t actually heading over there immediately. It was my second stop. My first was one with a much higher soldier population. I snuck behind the group waiting to make a dramatic entrance, and immediately did something that would have caused most unsuspecting onlookers to raise a brow and think me insane: I tiger kneed the air, followed it up with a command grab, and began spinning an arms around and around overhead.
If anyone with Magic Eye was to regard the situation, they would immediately come to realize that I wasn’t crazy. Or alone.
“Why can you see me!?”
“Did you think that such a pathetic attempt at concealing yourself would allow you to escape my eyes, fool?” I laughed maniacally as I picked up the pace and started spinning my arm with even more force.
After gaining enough momentum, I released the ankle I’d been holding onto and slung its owner into the midst of the enemy’s ranks. The speed at which he moved disturbed the formerly see-through man’s spell and rendered him visible right as he crashed into his allies. Hmm… looks like I got a third of them. Ehhh… was gunning for half, but good enough, I guess.
Those that hadn’t fallen to the initial assault drew their weapons and encircled me.
“Are you… the hero’s subordinate?” I was addressed by a guy whose face was suspiciously hidden underneath a full helm. His armour was a bit fancier than everyone else’s, which seemed to suggest that he was the unit’s commander. The only other noteworthy fact I gleaned was from his voice. He sounded like he was around the age at which most men went through their mid-life crises.
It went without saying that I knew exactly who he was, even in spite of the fact that his face had been hidden from view. My intel told me that he was one of the men serving under the asshole that caused the incident we found ourselves in on the way to the capital.
“Oh, looks like you guys already know me,” I said. “That’s right. I’m one of the hero’s most faithful underlings. And that’s why, as a dem—er, as one who believes in and enforces justice, I’m here to give a couple baddies a good old spanking.”
“If justice is your goal, then you shouldn’t be attacking us! We’re just here to help because we noticed that the castle was about to be subject to an assault!”
“That’s bullshit and you know it! You dickheads were totally just sitting around even though you clearly know that the royal guard’s already in combat!”
“That’s a misunderstanding! And completely unfounded! You have no basis for such a claim!” shouted the commander. “If you continue to antagonize us, then we will judge you as one of the intruargh!?”
I couldn’t be fucked to listen to him any longer; I already knew that he was far from innocent, so I shut him up with a fist to the face and jumped his men.
“What!? How dare you!” shouted one.
“You underhanded coward!” screamed another.
“Thanks for the compliment.” I flashed a snarky grin as I took the man out.
The soldiers were pretty well trained. They started fighting back as soon as I initiated, but still, they were far too weak. Even the Wicked Forest’s goblins were more of a threat. Though I was flinging their unconscious bodies all over the place, I wasn’t actually killing anyone given all the potential negative repercussions. I was instead making use of the techniques I normally used to play with the girls; all the control that I’d learned from doing my best not to hurt the members of my family allowed me to output just enough strength to knock each man out without any difficulty.
Back home, I was even frequently called upon just to crack eggs. Heh. They even call me the Demon Lord of Egg Cracking. You wish you were this badass.
“Alright, that just about wraps that up,” I said as I glanced towards the royal guards that Knight Lady had set out to assist. “And it looks like she’s done too.”
I still had a few things left on the agenda, so I left cleaning up after me to Carlotta, grabbed the commander by the nape of his neck and dragged him along as I headed off to the ball.