The Hero’s Subordinate, the Demon Lord of Righteousness, Takes the Stage — Part 3
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
“How are we in terms of progress?” A haughty male voice played from the gramophone’s horn. It was spoken with all the pride and elegance one would expect from a member of the nobility.
“Far, sir. Everything is going smoothly,” answered a second, gruffer man. “They’ve taken the bait. It’s not a stretch to say that they were overjoyed to see us seeking their aid.”
“That is wonderful. But do they truly believe that they have a chance at success?” asked the first man. “I am merely asking to sate my curiosity. Whatever the case, the agreement brings us nothing but convenience.”
“They do not. They appear to think of themselves as sacrifices, sacrifices necessary to right all that is wrong with the current state of our country.”
“Then let us hope that they proceed with the best feet forward. For this country’s sake.”
“I’m sure they will, sir.”
The two men exchanged a sinister laugh.
“Excellent. It appears that the assault against the castle will proceed as planned. Let us move on and discuss some of the finer details.”
The recording continued to play, disclosing detail upon detail as the pair discussed their “perfect plan.” In spy movies, the heroes and villains alike often spoke in code due to the fear of being tapped, but neither Argus nor the person he addressed did any such thing. He knew not of modern technologies, and he likely considered his home to be one of the few places where it would be safe for him to speak without restraint. Thanks to his lack of caution, I was able to not only learn everything that there was to know about the scheme he’d concocted and come up with a wide variety of countermeasures, but also present evidence in the form of his very own words. If anything, wiring up his house with devices capable of recording his voice had turned out to be much more difficult than any other part of the process of screwing him over. Heh heh heh. You see how one sided this is, faggot? You see how you got totally cornered by some bullshit I pulled out of nowhere? This is why you should never oppose a demon lord. We’ve got more than just brute force over you. We’ve even got better tech.
“As I’m sure everyone here will agree, this is definitely you talking,” I said as I crossed my legs from my position on his back. “So? Got any more excuses? Or are you finally done trying to worm your way out of the grave I dug you?”
“H-How did you get that recording!?”
“How? How else? I snuck into your house and had it do its thing while you babbled on and on like a moron. Duh.”
“That’s impossible! There’s no way you could have possibly made it all the way to my study undetected!”
“Oh, right, you did have a bunch of alarms and stuff, huh? Yeah, my bad. I kinda busted it all.”
Bitch please. Did you seriously think that a few rudimentary systems would keep you safe? Glancing at his in-home security network with my magic eye provided me with all the information I needed to avoid and dismantle it with ease.
“T-Then that means the evidence you gathered is invalid! Y-you cannot present anything acquired illegally! A-and it is false to begin with! You must have somehow forged it in order to frame me!”
“Dude, you seriously need to learn when to give up.” I rolled my eyes as I shrugged off his nonsensical claims. “Look around you. Do you really think anyone here cares what you have to say anymore?”
He craned his neck upward, albeit with difficulty, and looked around the room—only to see a series of cold, hard stares. Nobles were notorious for being two faced assholes, so their expressions may not have revealed their true thoughts. But even so, it was clear that everyone present felt that there was no point in supporting Argus any further. Not even the members of his faction had raised their voices in his defence.
The only individuals not looking at him as one would a piece of trash were his closest buddies, individuals I’d seen frequenting his manor through my Evil Eyes. They were, in fact, not looking at him at all, as they were too busy nervously dripping with sweat.
High society was built around the expectation that one would take whatever path led to the most benefit. Thus, opportunists were rarely pursued for taking advantage of other individuals, even if said individuals happened to be engaging in acts that could only be described as criminal. The same, however, could not be said for the individuals’ closest allies. Those deeply involved with the perpetrators, those that offered true collaboration as opposed to a few small favours, were also sure to be punished in the case that the scheme was exposed. You know what, you assholes deserve this. This is what you get for trying to fuck with Nell. And me. Don’t worry. You’ll have all the time in the world to contemplate your mistakes once I put you six feet under.
“It appears that the circumstances have been made clear and that no one else has anything to say. Guards, take him away!”
The king spoke to the line in a deep, booming voice accompanied by an overdramatic sweep of the hand. His command led two of the men standing by the door to march over. They bowed to me, so I got off Argus’ back and allowed them to seize him by the shoulders, forcibly stand him up, and drag him away against his will despite his protests and struggles.
After travelling about halfway through the ballroom, Shithead apparently spotted someone he felt he could rely on.
“M-my Lord! Please, aid me! I have done nothing wrong!”
His eyes teared up as he desperately appealed to an older man who, though middle-aged, stood with his back straight as a rod—
“…I have nothing to say in your defence.”
—Only to be coldly shot down. The minister I’d been after, Jaynor Redrius, said not but that single phrase with an expression I was incapable of reading as he watched the guards escort his subordinate out of the hall.
“Wow, Minister, sure are cold, ain’t ya? Wasn’t he working under your orders?” I walked up to Jaynor and shot him a challenging grin.
Many nobles had stirred when I accused Argus. But the amount of noise came nowhere close to matching the commotion that followed my second accusation. Because unlike the baron, the minister was a key figure, one central to both military and government affairs.
“It is a pleasure to meet you, Masked Meister,” he said with a humph. “While I would love to claim that I have no idea what you are talking about, I doubt that I would sound very convincing given the current circumstances.”
He tried to play dumb, but unlike target number one, he did it with dignity. He faced me straight on instead of bothering with excuses or explanations. Unlike the other man, who was obnoxiously loud, Jaynor’s voice was quiet. It was almost like he was speaking in resignation.
“…A valiant response, Sir Redrius.” Again, the king spoke in a loud, booming voice. This time, it was such that he would be heard over the commotion. “Do you have anything to say for yourself?” He gave the man a sharp stare as he addressed him, one completely unlike the scripted glare he’d given Argus. It was one that indicated he was trying to discern the other man’s intentions.
“You certainly can be rather mean spirited at times like these, Your Majesty,” said Jaynor. “You know just as well as I do that this terrifying subordinate of yours has already cornered me. Nothing I say will fail to fall on deaf ears.”
“I suppose you do have a point. With that said, I am already well aware that, while Argus often appears to move between different factions, you are the individual to which he has truly sworn his allegiances. As his direct superior, you share in the responsibility of his crimes.”
It was a barefaced lie. In truth, neither the king or I had ever been able to find any evidence that definitively linked the two men together as anything beyond a pair of associates. But it was the best we could do. The route of punishing Jaynor for failing to supervise Argus was the only one we could take. Because, while the baron was easy to implicate, the minister was not. I’d kept my eyes on him around the clock. The king’s men had too. And yet, we were unable to discern anything beyond the fact that there was a possibility he could have offered Argus some sort of support. That was it.
I had to admit that his position as the Minister of Defence was not undeserved. He was much more wary than the Shithead. Even when the two met in person, Jaynor would always receive Argus not as a subordinate, but as a friend. And unlike the other man, he never said anything that could possibly implicate him of any sort of crime. It’s like he knew he was being watched. Hell, I’m willing to bet he did.
“I suppose I must. Very well, I will do as anyone in my position would and see myself out,” he said. “Please excuse my early departure.”
Jaynor waited for a second pair of royal guards to approach him and followed them out of the ballroom without any sort of resistance whatsoever. Normally, seeing him get taken away would have filled me with a sense of accomplishment. But this time around, it only roused my sense of suspicion. Wait. What? Is that it? He’s just letting himself get arrested? What the fuck is he thinking? I… what? I don’t understand.
Argus’ motivations were much more clear. My investigations immediately revealed that the baron was looking to further his own influence. Jaynor, on the other hand, was an enigma. Nothing I learned told me anything about his true intentions. That wasn’t to say I was unaware of his overarching desires. I knew that his beliefs were militaristic and that he was not satisfied with the current state of the nation. But I simply did not see what he had to gain from this operation. Or why he would back off so easily if he’d chosen to go through with something so risky.
All my logical circuits seemed to scream that he was up to something, that he still had a card to play, but I ended up dismissing the thought with a shake of the head. There was no point in thinking too hard about it. This ruse was over, and the damage to his faction was already done. You know what? Fuck it. There’s no reason to keep beating around the bush. I might as well sit down, talk to him, and confront him directly. And if he refuses to talk, I’ll just make him.
I wasn’t the only one harbouring suspicions. The king also continued to regard him warily as he left. But in the end, the monarch, like me, concluded that all was done. At least for the moment. Once the doors closed behind Jaynor, the old monarch turned back towards the crowd and clapped his hands together in order to get the attention of those still discussing the events that had just transpired.
“Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please,” he said. “I understand that we have certainly been made to experience a series of unexpected circumstances. However, I see no reason to terminate the ball over such a minor disturbance. The night is still young. I bid you to enjoy it as you see fit.”
Wait, did he seriously just call that a minor disturbance? God damn. I mean, I know he’s putting on a show to make it look like this wasn’t enough to even rattle him, but still, calling it nothing more than a minor disturbance is a biiiiit of a stretch if you ask me.
Though most of the party’s attendees were still feeling a bit rustled given the impact of my accusations, the orchestra, which took the king’s words as a cue to start playing, soon rectified the ballroom’s mood with its music. Shaken couples slowly recovered as they took to the dance floor and began to experience the event as it was originally intended. That said, those that actually began moving to the music were in the minority. Most had instead opted to discuss their observations and speculations as to what was to come with regards to Argus’ and Jaynor’s judgements and everything that was to follow thereafter.
“Might I have a moment of your time, Meister?”
“I too would love the opportunity to speak with the man known as our country’s saviour.”
I was approached by several members of the nobility, but I shrugged each off in favor of reuniting with a certain short-haired brunette.
“Great work out there.” She greeted me with a smile as soon as I reached her.
“Thanks. Wasn’t fun. Working through all that was one hell of a pain in the ass,” I groaned. “Like, seriously. This whole high society thing is just… ugh…”
I am soooooooooo glad I didn’t reincarnate as some dumb noble. Hanging around these pricks all day just sounds awful. No thank you.
“I had a feeling you’d say that,” she chuckled, wryly. “I feel the same way.”
“Yeah. But now it’s out of the way. So how about we do the thing?”
“The dance thing, of course.” I grinned as I took her by the hand.
“…Mmk.” She paused for a moment to redden up before returning my smile and nodding.
“Hehehe…” I led her onto the dance floor as I did my best impression of a sinister chuckle. “It’s finally time for me to show you that all that training I did wasn’t just wasted effort.”
“Okay, then let’s see what you’ve got.” She giggled.
After pulling each other close, we slowly began moving in time with the music and staring into each other’s eyes as we went round and round.
“Oh yeah, that reminds me. You seemed to have been getting plenty of attention from the guys,” I said. “Fucking assholes. They’ve got guts, hitting on a demon lord’s bride like that.”
“I think they were just interested in my title,” said Nell with a bit of a frown. “They were really persistent about dancing with me too. Turning down all their invitations was really getting to be a pain in the butt.”
“I know I don’t really know jack shit about noble society, so this might not actually be a big deal at all, but are you sure that was alright? Aren’t they technically higher up the food chain?”
“It probably wasn’t the best idea. They tend to be really proud, but…”
“I-I uhm… d-don’t want to dance with anyone but you.”
Omgwtfbbq. What is this adorable creature? Dammit, hero, you’re one cunning little vixen. That one landed right in the heartstrings. Dealing damage to demon lords is supposed to be hard, damn it!
“…I guess demon lords really are just weak to heroes after all,” I muttered. “That was a goddamn critical hit.”
“I-It was? You’re really tough, so I guess that means that I really am getting stronger after all.” She was a bit surprised by the outburst at first, but ended up playing along.
“That’s so not fair, Nell! I want a turn too!”
“Mhm… Not fair.”
We set out to continue dancing after laughing at each other’s antics, but both the princess and my sword butted in and raised complaints. Needless to say, I was ultimately pestered into dancing with both.