The Wicked Emperor — Part 3
It was a shocking sight to behold.
“Take this, asshole!”
There was an explosion of blood as the man swung his blade. It was an odd blade, red as blood, curved, and far longer than any ordinary weapon. With just that one strike, the wyvern lost one of its arms. An angry scream erupted from the depths of the creature’s throat as it tried to cast a spell, but the man’s familiar, an enormous white wolf, leapt at the demidragon and bit off a piece of one of its wings before its magic could take form.
Again, the monster screeched.
There were only two of them, the man and his beast, and yet, the battle was as one sided as a fight between a man and a child.
The observer, the Rogardian prime minister, was frozen in place, almost unable to comprehend the battle taking place before his eyes.
The wyvern had been a constant pain in the empire’s side. It had settled in the mountains near the capital roughly one year ago, and wreaked havoc ever since. The roads near its domain had long become unusable and the economy had suffered greatly as a result. The resulting changes in the ecosystem had also caused many monsters to venture into human territory and cause damage therein. And though the demidragon itself didn’t often attack humans, courtesy of its location, it still did, on occasion.
Naturally, the country hadn’t simply stood by and allowed the creature to do harm. They had tried, on several occasions, to send in an army to rid themselves of the threat. But time and time again, they were thwarted. It escaped every time it sensed danger, often returning to devastate the troops when it was least expected. In the end, the previous emperor had ordered that it be left alone and ignored so long as it didn’t grow more aggressive. They had lacked the bandwidth to deal with it, at the time.
But now, that very same wyvern had been reduced to nothing but a punching bag.
The minister finally began to understand. That was what had defeated the empire. That was what had crushed Draggodt’s plans. Even though he was so wise and powerful.
That was their next emperor.
He had always known that races more attuned to magic were tougher than humans, but the man before him was not one that could even be considered within the same framework or context. He was even more than what they had described him as in the reports.
“What an abomination…”
It was the sort of creature that was never to be angered, never to be made into an enemy, the sort of abnormality it took to make someone as outstanding as Draggodt yield the throne.
The prime minister finally understood. That it was necessary to bind the abomination to the country as to dull his blade and prevent it from falling upon the people.
It wouldn’t have worked if the man were simply a beast, a monster without a mind, unwilling to negotiate or listen to reason. But the conference had proved that not to be the case.
The words exchanged between them had been little but bait to lure out the short-tempered minister of defense. The prime minister was well aware that, in truth, the monster of a man had remained level-headed throughout. He had seen it in his eyes, and he’d known for sure based on how the foreign royals had reacted. They seemed to trust him, to know that there was nothing wrong with allowing him to act as he pleased, and that there was no need to interfere. It was behaviour that would have been unthinkable had he simply been the scoundrel he had presented himself as.
He had known, from the start, that the man’s power was not to be underestimated. Just being near him was enough to make the government official break out into a fit of cold sweat, but back then, he had assumed that it was because the man was making use of some sort of underhanded trick, and that he would have to stay one step ahead of him if he didn’t want to be eliminated.
The demon lord had no need for tricks. It was exactly as he said. If he wanted to kill someone, they would be dead. Simple as that.
So why, one might ask, would he not go ahead and murder the whole country? The answer was simple. He saw more benefit in keeping Rogarde’s people around than exterminating them. The prime minister was well aware that the moment the Rogardians lost their worth, they would be slowly squeezed dry of all the resources they had.
They had to work towards coexistence with the other races. Because without it, the only future that remained was one of eradication.
And most important of all, they had to be genuine. Countering petty schemes with petty schemes could very well lead to a scenario where the demon lord judged the country as a whole as a liability, a massive pain in his rear, and hence a target for elimination.
First, they would have to address the discontent that arose from members of the other races parading around Rogardian cities.
With the war’s loss still fresh in the people’s minds, they were unlikely to act upon their impulses. But that would likely—surely—change with time.
Rogarde had never been a country to consider inclusion or acceptance, its interests and propaganda were directed instead towards forming a sense of unity among those that were considered “true Rogardians.”
It worked well during the war, but now, a sense of human supremacy was only a liability. It would only incite rebellion, protest, and terrorism. And if that were to happen, an unthinkable tragedy would be sure to follow, a future where the people were crushed underfoot without the slightest hint of mercy.
The demon’s previous parting echoed through the minister’s mind, “Obey me. Obey me, and you’ll be safe. No matter what happens. I promised the last emperor that, at least.”
He didn’t know if he was really telling the truth. But if he was, then Rogarde would have gained a powerful protector. So long as his condition was met. And an easy condition it was. Blindly following his orders was all that they needed to do.
“You were a wonderful emperor, Your Majesty,” said the prime minister.
Draggodt had protected the empire to the very end. And as one of the emperor’s beneficiaries, the prime minister knew that he could not simply have it destroyed on his watch.
The Demon Lord of the Wicked Forest would become Rogarde’s next emperor. The Wicked Emperor.
Gazing upon his new ruler, the prime minister made his resolve. As one of the individuals to have aided in starting the war, he would have to clean up after it. And the first order of business, as soon as he returned to the capital, would be to speak to several important members of the nobility and make any necessary arrangements.
It seemed like everything was going smoothly and the groundwork was already set in stone.
The empire had grown more obedient after I kicked the wyvern’s ass and put its corpse on display in the capital. I guess putting on a display of brute force pretty much always works, huh? Must be because it’s easier to understand than all that politics mumbo jumbo.
I was fairly happy with the results, given that I was much more keen on having them obey than I was willing to deal with any sort of rebellion. Here’s to hoping that the kings and whatnot do a good job of putting together a country that doesn’t really care about people’s races.
Either way, it looked like my business in the empire was over. I was, of course, planning to stop by so I could check on things every once in a while, but otherwise, I was hoping to take a more hands-off approach. My map would provide all the information I needed about monsters and enemy spies, so I was planning to quietly take care of all that without letting the Rogardians know.
Now onto the next item on the agenda. Time to take Leila’s teacher up on that offer she made and pay her a visit!