The Hero’s Subordinate, the Demon Lord of Righteousness, Takes the Stage — Part 2
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
“…So the Masked Meister finally makes his entrance,” Argus spoke in a bitter tone. The unexpected circumstance he’d arrived at was not one that fell in his favour.
His reaction caused a chain reaction. Many other nobles began gasping in surprise and stating their opinions over the reveal.
“So he’s the Meister that everyone’s been speaking of as of late?”
“The man who saved the country itself…”
“I would have expected a much older and more accomplished man. His age has defied all my expectations.”
Because I had not only debuted in high society, but followed through on my plan to minimize the attention focused on Nell. By entering the room unmasked.
There wasn’t any point in wasting my time on any of them, so I ignored the countless stares coming at me from every which way and advanced through the parting crowd in order to make my way over to the king.
Upon arriving at a distance from which we could reasonably converse, I dropped the unconscious deadweight, whose armour clattered as it fell to the ground, and took a knee.
“And who might this be, Meister?” The king addressed me by my mask-based title to confirm my identity to those still unsure of Argus’ claim.
“He is the man in charge of the forces who wished to cause you harm, Your Majesty.”
Seeing my actions and hearing the respectful manner in which I addressed him caused him to put on an expression that seemed like something halfway between a smile and a cringe; he was as put off by the display as he was amused.
“…I doubt I will ever be able to grow accustomed to hearing you speak in such a manner,” he said, too quietly for anyone not in his immediate vicinity to hear.
“I wouldn’t worry about it,” said Nell. “He’s probably just messing around and half-doing it for fun, as usual.”
The king allowed himself to chuckle at the remark, albeit only momentarily. He soon returned to wearing the dignified mask that was his public face and solemnly nodded.
“Excellent work. But for what reason have you brought the enemy commander all the way here?”
“His presence is necessary, Your Majesty, as he will play a key role in capturing his allies,” I said. “Might I have a moment of your time such that I may reveal this incident’s perpetrator?”
“…Very well.” The king agreed after taking a moment to feign contemplation. “I suppose that there is no issue in providing you such an opportunity. It is only fitting given your contributions in quelling this attack.”
“You are too kind, My Liege.” I bowed my head prior to speaking to hide the fact that I was chuckling at the king’s willingness to play along with the little skit I’d put together.
With all due respects paid and the monarch’s decision made, I stood up, turned around, and directed a glare at a certain aristocratic fuckwad.
“Hello, ‘Sir’ Ladorio. It looks like we finally meet,” I said. “I’m Y—Wye, one of the men blessed with the pleasure of working under the hero.”
My words seemed polite, but my tone was far from it. Everything I’d said to him was covered in a layer of sarcasm and distaste. That, combined with my snarky grin, caused him to scrunch up his brow, but he held back his rage and returned my greeting with an amicable smile.
“It is an honour to be one remembered by this country’s saviour,” he said. “What can I do for you?”
“Well, you see, I couldn’t help but notice the crest on this man’s sword,” I removed the unconscious commander’s weapon, sheath and all, raised it into the air, and slowly panned it around the room in order to give everyone present a nice, long look. “And I was placed under the impression that it was yours.”
“…It certainly is.”
The piece of shit’s reply caused the crowd to stir. Nobles of all different ranks and allegiances began whispering to one another as they discussed the revelation. While he didn’t seem to mind his colleagues talking behind his back, he wasn’t pleased by the blatant accusation.
“He certainly is under my command, but I don’t see why you’ve not only knocked him unconscious, but even accused him of something so ludicrous. He, like the rest of my men, were ordered to stand guard in order to bolster the castle’s security.” The two-faced snake dropped his friendly facade in favour of a cold, scornful stare.
“Security? My good sir, surely even you are aware that the royal guard is already responsible for that precise task.” I, on the other hand, continued to smile.
“That goes without saying. However, I felt that bringing my men was in the best interest of everyone present for this event. I assigned them to their current posts as a contingency, as I happened to hear rumours of a potential attack.”
“And why, exactly, did you choose not to report the possibility of such an attack to a higher authority?”
“I did. I informed many individuals related to the military and its affairs that the attack seemed likely to occur and stated that I would be bringing my men along as a countermeasure. I followed all standard procedures and ensured that all my actions and decisions were well documented. I can even have these documents brought to you, if you so wish.”
While a part of me doubted his claim, his confidence led me to believe that it was more likely true than not. I shot a glance in the king’s direction in order to ask him if he knew anything, but his only reply was a small shake of the head. Hmm… he doesn’t know. I’m guessing that probably means this shitface over there used his connections. He probably had the guy that’s backing him help him out or something.
“And frankly, I am not sure what to make of this situation. I cannot believe that you would bring in one of my men and accuse him of leading our assailants. I am sure that there is some sort of misunderstanding at play. However, what you have done remains a fact. There will be consequences if I find that the circumstances call for them, even if you are Allysia’s saviour, for my men are innocent,” he said, shamelessly.
I struck a pose and pointed at him as would a lawyer. Normally, the term screamed would have been “objection,” but I wasn’t exactly a lawyer, so I’d taken a minor creative liberty.
“Uhm… Wow. He just made a really evil looking face,” said a certain onlooker.
Shut up, Nell! All I did was grin!
“Listen up, Shithead. I know you’re fucking retarded, so I’ll take this nice and slow and make sure I explain every step along the way. I should be the one talking about consequences here. Do you know what your men were doing when the royal guard started engaging the enemy? Sitting around and fucking watching, that’s what. They were literally waiting so they could make it seem like they made it just in the nick of time. All for that dumb little scheme you’ve got spinning around in that half functional brain of yours.”
“And what evidence do you have to back this claim? You can’t possibly expect your word alone to suffice, can yo—”
“You’re right. I can’t prove it. But I don’t need to. You know why? Because I’ve got evidence that you’re behind this whole attack in the first place.”
A dark laugh echoed throughout my mind as I watched him freeze up and turn pale. Heh. Fucking retard. Did you seriously think I was going to think testifying would cut it? You think you’re the only one with plans? Hell naw, bitch.
I opened up my inventory and pulled a crystal ball out from within it, one that sat atop a square-shaped cushion.
“This thing’s called the Crystal of records. Activating it causes it to record all the magical energy around its target and store it. Activating it again will project it into the air so you can see what it’s got saved.”
In other words, it was basically a camera capable of displaying holograms. Unfortunately, it was far from what I wanted in a device capable of snapping pictures. The magical mechanism through which it worked was imperfect. It not only produced poor quality images, but was also incapable of rendering them in anything but black and white. To make matters even worse, it was one time use. Each crystal could only store a single image.
The crystal was in fact not something I’d bought for the sake of exposing the noble stiffened before me, but rather a purchase I made for the sake of taking pictures of my family. Unfortunately, the image quality was so poor that I ended up giving up on the whole endeavour. In fact, I’d judged the item as useless and chucked the ones I still had left into the back of my dimensional rift. Finding it applicable in a circumstance like this one was something I literally never saw coming. Well, Camera, I admit it. You’ve done well. And don’t worry, the service you’ve done me won’t be going to waste. I hereby formally acknowledge you as an honorary member of my bag of tricks.
This wasn’t the only image capture device that I had access to. It was technically possible for me to use the catalog to purchase a much more modern camera, but it simply wasn’t worth it. Items that involved pieces of technology outside the scope of this world’s current understanding of science had ridiculously high price points. That was why I could afford things like cards or board games, but not consoles or computers. I don’t exactly have enough cash to just go around throwing it at luxuries like that. At least not yet.
“That said, explaining its functionality is only going to get us so far. So how about we do a little demonstration?” I turned to Nell and the two children standing beside her. “Say Cheese.”
“Huh? What? Wait!” said Nell, in panic.
“Cheese? Are you talking about the food?” asked Iryll.
“…Peace.” Unlike the other two, the sword knew exactly what was going on, so she raised her index and middle fingers to form a V right as I began channeling my magical energies through the orb in the palm of my hand.
After sucking up my mana, the device spent a few moments flickering. Once that was done, I once again poured my magic into the crystalline object, which caused it to make a sound not unlike a lightsaber as it projected the photograph it had taken into the air. The image clearly showed a flustered hero, a somewhat confused princess, and a photogenic sword girl.
“As you can see, it basically turns a scene into an image based on what was going on when it was used,” I explained. “Alright, I’m going to put this one away so I can keep it as a family heirloom.”
“Yu—Wye, please…” said Nell.
“He… certainly does never change,” added the king.
The two exchanged a pair of exasperated grins, which I proceeded to ignore as I grabbed another crystal from the subspace that was my inventory. I channeled magic into it the moment fished it out and displayed the image stored within.
“This is the evidence I was talking about earlier.”
Illustrated before me was a pair of men. The two were standing in an alleyway, and were clearly being wary of their surroundings as they discussed something in secret.
“The man on the right is one of the ones that attacked the castle. I’ve already had him thrown in the dungeon, so you can double check later if you don’t feel like taking my word for it.”
I’d left escorting the prisoners to Knight Lady after explaining the circumstances to her. Given her competence, I was fairly certain that everything was already all nice and sorted. Taking a picture was the route I’d chosen, but it wasn’t the only one available. There was actually a magical device capable of detecting lies. Making use of it would have allowed me to immediately prove that the fuckwad was guilty, but unfortunately, it was installed elsewhere and far too large to be moved.
“And on the left is the man he’s secretly whispering to,” I said. “And would you look at that! He sure seems familiar, doesn’t he? I wonder where I’ve seen him before… Oh, right! He looks just like the guy I brought with me. Weird, huh?” I took a moment to gloat with a smirk before continuing. “What’s the matter, Argus? Cat got your tongue? You look a little under the weather.”
The noble’s face twitched as he tried his best to remain calm. But he couldn’t. He knew exactly what this image represented.
“I-I have nothing to do with this! E-even if this image is not fabricated, it most certainly represents actions that my subordinate took of his own accord. I-I did not order him to do any such thing!” Beads of cold sweat dripped down his forehead as he stuttered out a series of excuses. “A-and this item is one that you have prepared! I-it is not possible for us to confirm that it truly does what you say! This is trickery, trickery, I say!”
Yup. I figured he’d cut the poor guy loose. Fucking disloyal piece of trash.
“Ehhh… you know what, fair enough,” I said. “But it just so happens that I have another piece of evidence I’d like you to examine.”
I walked over to the corner of the room and grabbed one of the items I’d asked the king to prepare in advance: the gramophone. I grabbed a record from my inventory and showed it off to the crowd as I wheeled the machine over.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” I set the disk in the device as I addressed the crowd. “I have for you tonight a very interesting recording, one that I wish you all to hear. It tells the tale of a certain pair of unfortunate souls deficient in spatial awareness, fools that failed to realize that they were not the only participants in their conversations. I would very much appreciate it if you were all to listen.”
Shitface immediately realized what I was getting at. He reached for the device in order to stop it, but I grabbed his arm, pushed him onto the ground.
“Now, now, I know that you happen to be incredibly excited, but you must be patient and wait like everyone else.”
After flashing yet another cocky grin, I plopped myself onto the man-turned-makeshift chair in an ultimate show of disrespect and started up the gramophone.