Any Protagonist with a Harem is Sure to be One Filled with Shame
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
“Why?” He felt a sense of abject horror overcome him as his eyes slowly drifted across the miserable remains of a once beautiful hamlet. “What purpose is there in inflicting such wanton destruction?”
It was as if the settlement had been subjected to a world-ending disaster. The fields had been reduced to a mess of dead plants and upturned soil, the houses charcoal, and the mill a pile of rubble. The waterway with which the town supplied itself was no longer serviceable. The few canals still visible beneath the piles upon piles of debris scattered all over contained not even the slightest trace of liquid. Even the forest served to show that the village was no more, for it had begun encroaching upon the land and reclaiming it in nature’s name.
Him aside, there was no sign of any intelligent life to be seen—at least not in the present.
“I sense remnants, remnants of spells cast by members of the human race.” He spoke aloud as he gently touched the charred remains of a house whose inhabitants he had once known.
The spells had been cast by a large number of individuals; each of their magic signatures was distinct, but not entirely. They all carried a characteristic trait unique only to humans. At first, he suspected that the hamlet’s fate was the product of a war, but upon recalling that nothing of the sort had occurred, he realized that it stemmed from something much more sinister. The slave trade.
“To think that the humans would transfigure a settlement once so beautiful into a sight so grim. They are wicked, wretched and so incorrigibly deplorable that I struggle to name a people more iniquitous and sinful.”
For a moment, he seethed with bottomless anger, pure unrestrained rage, at the men who had ruined what he once held dear. But then, it vanished. His wrath abated as quickly as it had come. He had put a conscious end to it, for he knew that it was not the time.
Despite all the damages done, there was not a single corpse in sight. They had been buried. By the survivors. Knowing that some of the villagers had lived was what sealed his righteous fury and allowed him to recall that seeking retribution was not the first of his priorities.
“What of the blessed child? What has happened to her?” The question, which was directed at no one in particular, was accompanied by spontaneous generation. Several orbs of light, each a different colour, suddenly appeared in his vicinity. The numerous entities revolved around him, flickering and darting to and fro in a way that almost seemed to demonstrate that they had minds of their own.
“Was she taken by the humans?” He muttered to himself a question, followed by a firm declaration. “If that was the fate to which she has befallen, then I must seek her. For through the blessing I bestowed upon her, I know that she still remains animate yet.”
With his mind made, his staff in hand, and his determination unshakeable, he turned from the hamlet and began his search.
“You sure you’re okay with her staying a whole three days, Kingpin?”
“Of course. There’s no need for me to worry about her safety with the two of you by her side,” responded the monarch. “And my late wife would be quite cross with me if I was to be too overprotective to grant her even the slightest bit of freedom.”
“My thoughts exactly,” he said, as he echoed my laugh with one of his own.
“Isn’t that great, Enne?” asked Nell. “It looks like His Majesty’s going to let Lady Iryll come over.”
“Mhm. I’m very happy,” replied the sword, with a nod.
Her poker face remained present as usual, but my ability to deduce what she was thinking at a glance informed me that she was ready to burst with joy.
“I appreciate you keeping my daughter company, Zaien. She’s been incredibly happy lately, thanks to you.”
“…We’re friends. It’s only natural.”
“I’ve always been a bit concerned about Iryll’s lack of playmates. She’s never quite had as many friends as I would have liked her to, so knowing that you think of her as one has me overjoyed,” said the king with a happy, fatherly smile.
The impression I had of the king’s daughter was that she likely had many friends; the girl was one with more than enough energy to go around. But upon hearing the genuine relief in the aging monarch’s words, I recalled the fact that, unlike most others her age, she was a bonafide princess, which meant that her friendships were often tied in with politics and therefore far more complicated than need be.
“Thanks for waiting, everyone!”
For what she lacked in friends, Iryll made up for with the devil’s timing. The princess entered the reception room right as she became the topic of discussion. She was raring to go. The belongings that she was looking to bring with her had already been packed into the tote bag slung over her shoulder. It didn’t quite seem like she had enough luggage with her for a three day stay, and that was because she didn’t. Her bag only contained the essentials, as we’d decided ahead of time that lending her clothes was going to be much more practical than having her bring a series of bulky dresses.
Iryll wasn’t the only human heading back to the dungeon either. Nell was too. She had chosen to return home for the duration of the princess’ stay, as she wanted to update the other residents on her plans in person.
“Ready already?” I asked.
“Yes I am!” she said, with a vigorous nod. “Thanks so much for inviting me!”
“I certainly don’t mind you spending a few nights at Yuki’s home, but only under the condition that you be good,” said the king. “Do not cause any trouble and ensure that you do as they say.”
“Don’t worry, father, I will!”
“Good.” He nodded, then turned to me. “My daughter is in your hands now, Yuki. Take good care of her.”
“Sure thing, Kingpin. She’ll be back safe and sound before you know it.” After seeing the king nod, I moved on to addressing the girls. “Alright ladies, it’s time for departure. Channel a bit of mana into the tickets I handed you earlier, and we’ll have you at your destination in the blink of an eye.”
“Do you mean this necklace?”
Nell and Enne responded in brief while Iryll wondered aloud if I was referring to the accessory she’d been given. Her question was answered as soon as she posed it, albeit not by me. Following the other two girls’ examples had led her to vanish without a trace.
“Alrighty. Looks like they’re all set,” I said. “Thanks again for everything, Kingpin. Hope to see you ‘round.”
“The feeling is mutual.”
After giving the old monarch one last wave, I activated my own warp crystal and returned home via teleportation.
“I see that you have returned.”
The first person to greet us was Lefi. She made her way over to the point of our arrival with a series of slow, sluggish movements, amongst which was a yawn. Guess that means she was probably lazing around as usual. Hell, she probably only got up ‘cause she realized we’d made it back.
It was just past lunchtime, which, according to routine, meant she was likely the only resident indoors. The kids almost always headed outside to play as soon as they were done with lunch, while the maids used the opportunity to retrieve the laundry, which they typically hung out to dry after breakfast.
The first two that the dragon approached were the hero and the sword.
“You have done well, both in returning and keeping a watchful eye on our resident fool.” She gave each girl a light pat on the shoulder along with a couple celebratory remarks. “Has he done anything absurd enough to require my immediate attention?”
“Not this time,” said Nell. “I made sure to watch him closely enough to stop him from doing anything silly.”
“He was fine this time,” confirmed Enne.
“Oh, come on,” I complained, but didn’t bother actually joining the conversation. I knew that, at times like these, contributing wasn’t going to do much in my favour, so I let it go by with nothing but a few idle grumbles. “Just what do you girls take me for?”
Once she exchanged a few more words with my two companions, the dragon girl turned to me.
“Welcome home, Yuki.”
“…Thanks.” I was, for a moment, stunned into silence.
A pair of conflicting emotions raged within me. On one hand, hearing Lefi’s voice had immediately filled me with a sense of comfort and bliss. On the other, I was totally pissed at myself for feeling the way I did. It almost felt like the overly smug dragon had me wrapped around the tip of her finger.
“I see that you have once again failed to right the err of your ways.” The warm smile faded from her face and found itself replaced by a look of exasperation as she directed her gaze towards a certain unfamiliar princess. “Why is it that you insist on kidnapping a child each and every time I take my eyes off you?”
“H-hold on, Lefi, just calm down, okay? I know what you’re thinking, but you’ve got it all wrong. Iryll’s just one of Enne’s friends, and she’s only here to play.”
“Really?” She narrowed her gaze. “I see little reason to believe you.”
Iryll, who had read the mood and chosen to stay silent in order to allow us to carry out our family reunion, took the opportunity to join the conversation.
“Good afternoon! I am Iryll Glorio Allysia, I prefer to be addressed as Iryll!” The princess pulled up the hems of her skirt and delivered a picture-perfect formal curtsy as she introduced herself with gusto. “I’ve been blessed with the wonderful opportunity to spend several days here in Mr. Demon Lord’s realm, and I hope to remain in your good graces for the duration of my stay!”
“You are very polite, little one.” The silver-haired dragon smiled. “I am Leficios, but you may refer to me as Lefi. I am this fool’s wife,” she said, as she gestured in my direction.
“His wife? I thought he was going to marry Nell.”
“Yuki is a lustful man. His atypical disposition has led him to take for himself a total of three wives.”
I was by no means the horndog she claimed I was. I was only about as attracted to members of the opposite sex as any other guy. That said, as someone who had begun to embrace a polyamorous lifestyle, I was in no position to make any sort of argument against her.
“Mr. Demon Lord has three wives!?” The princess’ eyes went wide. “That’s wonderful! That must mean he really will marry me when I grow up!”
“Is that something he has already agreed to?”
“Yup!” The princess nodded energetically.
The dragon’s neck slowly twisted towards me in a near unnatural fashion. Atop her face sat a picture perfect smile. It was so perfect, in fact, that it seemed to manifest an aura of its own. It was like she had some sort of malevolent spirit standing behind her, one that symbolized jealous rage, one that any aware of Japan’s folklore would call a Hannya.
“Wow… So this is how castles owned by demon lords look…” Apparently, the pressure that radiated off Lefi’s form was undetectable by humans, as Iryll remained unaffected and continued to casually examine her surroundings whilst I was left trembling in fear. “It seems really comfy and lived in!”
Well, yeah. I know there’s a throne in here, and that it’s pretty fancy and whatnot, but despite its name, the true throne room is basically just our living room. If anything, I’d be more surprised if it didn’t seem lived in.
“The outside is even cooler,” said the resident sword. “Follow me. I’ll show you around.”
Lefi waited for the two younglings to leave before narrowing her eyes and speaking in a much colder tone. “I trust you will be explaining this to me in detail?”
“I-I mean, what else was I supposed to say!? She was the one asking, and do you really think I can bring myself to be cruel enough to break the poor girl’s heart?” I said in indignant panic. “Besides, it’ll be fine. Sure, she likes me now, but that’ll change by the way it grows up.”
I know for a fact that she’ll forget she ever liked me by the time she grows up. That’s just how that works!
After listening to a couple panicked but supposedly logical explanations, Lefi heaved a small sigh. “Yuki, I would like to inform you that you are but digging your own grave.” Her words were laced heavily in exasperation. “What are your thoughts on this matter?” After heaving another sigh, she prompted the other woman in the room to join her in lecturing me.
“I think you’re right,” said Nell. “You really have to learn to be more careful around women, Yuki. If you keep going at this rate, then one day, someone’s going to take advantage of you, use you, hurt you, and throw you away.”
“I-I’ll try to be more careful,” I said.
“I’ve no doubt that such an event is awaiting him,” said Lefi. “There is a need for me to remain by his side to ensure that it does not occur. He has always been far too kind to those of the opposite gender.”
“I know right!? He’s completely ruthless when it comes to men, but he always softens up the moment he has to deal with a girl. He even gave in to Ronia’s pestering and showed her his wings!”
“W-well I mean, there wasn’t any reason for me to turn her down, was there?”
If anything, saying no would’ve made me feel bad. It isn’t everyday you see a quiet girl like her getting so worked up.
“I see from his lack of repentance that this is an issue that will require the council’s attention,” said Lefi. “Let us speak to Lyuu so that we may organise the fifth Wives’ Conference.”
“I actually wanted to talk to you and Lyuu about something. Do you think that might be a good time?”
“Very well. Let us center the conference around you and whichever topics you wish to discuss.”
Alright, hold up. Did she just say fifth? When the hell did the other four happen?