The State of Affairs
Editors: Speedphoenix, Joker
“Hey Nell. Long time no see.”
I called out to the approaching silhouette with a casual wave as I watched it approach through the forest. The map had told me that she was coming, so I left the castle in order to meet her at the entrance to my dungeon.
“How the heck did you know that I was h… you know what, I’m not even going to ask.” Nell blinked a few times, taken aback by the fact that I’d already been waiting for her. “Man, I know this forest is huge and all, but I can’t believe seeing you actually made me feel relieved. That actually makes me kind of mad,” she huffed.
Yeah, and that’s my fault, how…?
Unable to come up with a response, I instead shifted the topic. “It’s a shame you didn’t show up three days ago. You missed out on some real good barbecue.”
“I don’t really mind,” she said. “It’s just a barbecue.”
“Seriously. It was real good,” I said. “Anyway, I bet you’re tired. You want to hit up the hot springs first?”
“I’d really like to, but maybe next time,” said Nell, her tone grim. “I’m on a bit of a tight schedule right now.”
“Fair enough. Well, either way, come in and make yourself at home.”
I turned around and led Nell into the cave. A wave of nice cool air hit us right as we entered, and our footsteps gradually echoed behind us as we got deeper and deeper.
Only after a few minutes of walking did we finally arrive at a thick, heavy door, one that came with a sense of grandeur. Although the door seemed to give off an almost ominous aura, I opened it as casually as I would any other.
On the other side lay the usual grassy plain. Specifically, we were behind the castle and right beside the good old hot-spring endowed, Japanese-style inn or ryokan, depending on where you hailed from.
“Huh…?” Nell blinked a few times. “Wasn’t that door supposed to take us in front of the castle?”
“It was, but it wasn’t all that convenient, so I had it swapped.” There were a series of rattling noises as I opened a second door, the sliding door that marked the ryokan’s entrance. “Oh yeah, shoes off.”
“Huh? I uhmm… Okay.”
The hero was unable to accept the explanation I gave her at face value, so she more or less nodded along as she followed me into a room she was more familiar with.
I grabbed a pair of cushions off the stack sitting in the corner of the room and placed them on the opposite sides of a table. I sat down on mine, crossed my legs, and waited until she timidly followed suit before I started talking.
“Alright, why don’t you tell me what happened?”
“So to summarise,” said the hero. “It was apparently all just to buy time. The hoodlums with the magic weapon, the various cases happening around the city, and the undead assault were all just a part of a scheme meant to keep Governor Lurubia focused on his own territory. And it kind of worked. They managed to get the governor to keep the vast majority of its troops in Alfyro. But because you showed up and cleaned everything up, the governor managed to send a horse to the capital and report what had happened.”
She took a deep breath before continuing.
“Thanks to that, we were able to learn a bit more about the incident that happened in the capital itself.”
“Mhmm…” I made a noise to indicate I was still listening as I sipped from a cup of hot tea, one Leila had dropped by to serve.
Nell was here in order to provide an account of what she and the old man had learned about the case. In other words, she had come to fulfill the promise she made when I handed over the totally not suspicious looking necromancer I had caught back in town. The reason I’d been waiting for her was, again, because my map had told me that there was an intruder inbound. I had more or less already figured out her intentions the moment I realized it was her.
Long story short, the country that the old man served had happened to undergo a change in leadership. A coup.
And it had apparently all started because Prince Retard had found himself at his wit’s end. He had made far too many major mistakes in too short a timespan. And so, he did what any other dumb shit in his position would do and more or less led an armed uprising.
The reason he had found himself so cornered was twofold. The first was because he had lost the expedition force despite using greed to win his father’s subjects over. His promises of gold and glory turned up as nothing but hot air and dead soldiers. The second was a failure in a similar vein. He had abused his authority in order to force the church to deploy the ever valuable hero without consulting the relevant authorities (read: his father).
And, like the army, she too had vanished into thin air. Of course, Nell was fine. She had been with us the whole time, in fact. However, the church had declared her MIA. A part of it had been because the hero hadn’t made any reports. But, as she discovered upon her return, that wasn’t the only reason. The church had used her supposed death as an excuse to put more pressure on Prince Dumbfuck. Goddamn. This world be fucking scary.
But whatever the case, the end result was the same. Shit had hit the fan. Hard.
The prince’s reputation hit rock bottom. And, to him, it probably seemed like his brilliant future had slipped right outside his grasp before his very eyes.
He only had two choices remaining. The first was to put everything he had at stake all while trusting that he could somehow miraculously turn everything around. The second was to take everyone else down with him. And so, Prince Fuckwad did what any self-respecting, reasonable human being would. He went with choice number one; he chose to engage in a desperate sink or swim struggle that could allow him to either reclaim his “all that was his by right” or lose it forever.
Hence why he had attacked the city. Apparently, his territory’s proximity to the Wicked Forest resulted in the old dude’s forces, the soldiers and adventurers that inhabited his city, to be much stronger than the norm. Moreover, he was both loyal to the king and against the prince’s expedition plan to begin with. Thus, the prince had subjected him to an attack in order to direct his attention away from the capital while he seized control of the throne.
Apparently, he had done similar things elsewhere. He ordered attacks on all the other cities lorded over by governors that did not agree with his policies, paralyzing them and rendering them unable to interfere. But again, because the old man’s troops were of such a high quality, he had been hit much harder than anyone else.
And frankly, the prince’s ploy succeeded. The king had been declared missing, and the capital was now under the control of a force that he had charge of. Wow, shit for brains over there actually thought up something decent for once. The king being missing is some real nasty shit.
If the king was alive, then one could expect his supporters to rally his troops in order to rescue him. And if he was dead, then one could expect his supporters to march on the capital flying banners of justified vengeance. But since he was missing and not known to be in either of the aforementioned states, his supporters were paralyzed. There was no cause for them to rally under. And they couldn’t act without extreme caution.
The plan was effective, but it would only ever be able to buy so much time. Those that opposed Prince Dickwad would soon find an excuse to rally, but they would not be able to touch him so long as he put together a functional administration prior to their arrival.
There were many that didn’t want the prince on the throne.
And I was among them.
The prince had already prodded at me twice. I had no doubt that he would send an even larger force right to my doorstep should he gain full control over the country’s military. I doubted that I would be able to handle the entire thing myself.
There was a chance I would have to ask Lefi to lend me a hand. Yeah no. Fuck that.
You’d think this idiot would learn his lesson after having his plans to move on me bite him in the ass twice in a row, so he probably won’t come again, but I’m just going to go ahead and assume the worst. Not thinking about something isn’t going to stop him from actually doing that something. God damn it. There go my days of kicking back with my feet on the sofa.
Though I mentioned having to think up something, the truth was that I already had a little something up my sleeve. Y’know. Just going to give him a bit of irreversible brain damage and casually turn him into a comatose potato for the rest of his life. Nothing too special.
I had already identified the exact tool that I would need to do it, a golem called the puppet of possession. As implied by its name, it was an inanimate creature that was capable of allowing my consciousness to possess it. It was the perfect assassin. I could use it to eliminate the prince from a safe distance. Or at least a relatively safe distance.
The puppet would only function so long as it remained within a hundred meters of me so I couldn’t go too far. Still, it was useful. Like other golems, I could use additional DP in order to provide it with a specific set of skills. Heh. Oh, the possibilities.
In truth, it would be much faster for me to descend upon the castle and remove the prince myself, but that didn’t quite seem like as good an idea as it seemed. The castle was home to the royal family and was, as one would expect, situated within the capital. It was obviously fortified with all sorts of defences. And as I wasn’t exactly all that keen on tying a metaphorical noose around my own neck, I figured it would be a much better idea to send something else in my stead.
Unlike me, the golem was disposable. The only thing I’d lose from its death was a bit of DP. Farming up said DP was, in fact, one of the two reasons that Rir and I had been going hunting so often lately, with the other being the need to grow more accustomed to Zaien.
“So what does the church think of the prince?”
“We’ve got our fair share of misgivings about him coming into power,” said Nell. “He’s the stubborn type, so he’ll most likely put a lot of pressure on the church and try to force it to bend to his will.”
“I see.. So are you guys planning to do anything about him then?”
“We’re planning to rescue the king.”
“Even though he’s missing?”
“Yeah. I think we’re going to go through with it either way.”
I see. So the church is taking a bit of a firmer stance. Hmm, actually that’d probably work out in my favour if it went well.
“Sounds good. How about I lend you guys a bit of a hand?”
“Huh…!? Well uhm, I’d really appreciate it since you’re real strong and it’d be reassuring to have you but…” Nell gave me a dubious, probing look, as if to ask me why I would bother.
“The prince has been a real thorn in my side, so I’m not exactly liking the prospect of having him in total control. Chances are, he’ll probably shove his entire army right onto my doorstep,” I said. “So I’d much rather have the guy who was king before get back onto the throne. Doesn’t really matter if he turns out dead either, so long as the faction that opposes the prince gets back in power, seeing as how most of them were against invading the Wicked Forest and all that.”
While I didn’t lie to Nell, I hadn’t told her everything on my mind either.
There was a chance that they would use some sort of weird method I didn’t know about in order to track me down if I assassinated the prince. And if that happened, the whole country would likely be out for my blood even if the old king was reinstated. Going after the fiend that murdered a member of the royal family was only natural, especially given the fact that it was the god damned prince.
And if that happened, there was a chance I’d end up with a huge army on my doorstep either way. I wouldn’t be able to continue living in peace. Hence, working with the anti-prince faction was a much better choice, as the faction as a whole would take my place as the culprit responsible for his demise.
“Uhm… I don’t think anyone will trust you since you’re a demon lord. I know you’re a weirdo, but everyone else will probably assume you’re just like all the others,” said Nell. God damn, woman. Talk about throwing shade.
“No worries. I wasn’t planning on exposing my identity. Just tell them that I’m someone you happened to meet along the road and that I decided to serve you or something. I’ll even wear a mask, just in case.”
“I’m pretty sure that won’t work. We do have magical tools that appraise people, so…”
“Oh come on, don’t worry. It’s fine. I’ve got something in mind that’ll keep everything right under control. Trust me.”
The hero put on an expression of unease, to which I responded with nothing but a playful grin.
Editor’s note (Joker): Hey, guys! Joker here. Boy, talk about a shift in power. Looks like Prince Deadasfuck hasn’t learned his lesson, so Yuki needs to go over there and show him Daddy’s belt. Seems like Nell is just a tool to get there too. Wonder what she’ll do when she finds out. Should be fun to see, aye? All right, let’s take a look at the letter bag. *he reaches into the bag, feels around for a while, then pauses and puts his whole head into it. After a few seconds, he turns it over and shakes it. Bits of dust and lint fall out as he looks crestfallen* Oh. I see… No letters this time. Oh well. I guess I can go though and thank the ones from chapter 84 that I didn’t get to since Boss Young’un gave us 85 so fast. So thanks Zehd Cashew and zrxr for your questions. Remember, if you’ve got a question you’d like answered by me, leave it in the comments below and I’ll reply. Get noticed by your senpai today! All right, everyone. See y’all in the next chapter! *he goes to pick up the sack, but notices a weight in it. Excited, he turns it over and shakes it, only for the Demon Lord of all moths to come flying out and straight at him, the wingspan larger than his head. He lets out a high pitched shriek and runs off*