A Demon Lord's Tale: Dungeons, Monster Girls, and Heartwarming Bliss Chapter 143
Messenger — Part 2
Editors: Speedphoenix, Joker
"The Embodiment of Philomathy? That's a fancy title. Do they really call you that?" I asked the maid. I mean, I can kinda see it. She's got one hell of a curious streak.
"How embarrassing," said Leila with a giggle. She pressed one of her palms against her cheek and leant into it as her face turned a slight shade of pink. "They used to call me that in my younger days."
Younger days? I couldn't help but cock an eyebrow. Wait, aren’t you even younger than I am? Err, on second thought, technically not anymore, huh? Discounting my life back on Earth, I'm less than a year old, which makes everyone that isn't a monster much, much older than me. Hell, even Illuna's older than me. I should probably tell her that and then act like she's my big sis or something for a bit. I'm sure that'd make her incredibly happy.
"L-Last I heard, you left the demon realm and visited a human territory in order to procure herbs that you couldn't find anywhere else," said Agent McHoodface. "Why is someone as knowledgeable as you all the way out here doing the work of a common housemaid!?"
The agent's reaction seemed to indicate that Leila was something of a celebrity. At the very least, she was accomplished enough to have earned the respect of someone working as one of the government's secret operatives.
Unlike said secret operative, I had an idea as to what had happened to Leila following her departure from the demon realm. She had probably been captured by slave traders and taken to the city I attacked while she was out looking for herbs.
"Well, such is life," said Leila.
"Huh? I don't see ho—" Hoodgirl tried to raise a doubt, but Leila cut her off.
"Such. Is. Life." The maid stressed each word individually. Though she was smiling, she gave off an incredible aura of pressure. It was obvious that she wasn't going to budge even the slightest bit.
"I-If you say so."
I was pretty curious as to the details of Leila's circumstances, but like my hooded friend, I was a bit too terrified of her to press the question much further, especially since it didn't seem like she would talk even if I did.
"And I believe that it might be in your best interest to get back to the business that you had with My Lord? Isn't that why you came all this way?"
"R-Right, please excuse my behaviour." The demon girl paused for a moment to regain her composure before continuing. "Please let me begin by introducing myself. My name is Haloria Laylott, and I serve a man also often referred to as a demon lord, the king of the demon realm. I'm here on his behalf today in order to act as his messenger."
"Nice to meet you, Haloria. I'm pretty sure you're well aware of this already, but I'm Yuki."
Agent McHoodface spent a few moments in silent contemplation before finally beginning to speak once more.
"Please allow me to begin by telling you more about the current state of the demon realm, the kingdom that we demons inhabit."
"The man that you defeated in Allysia was affiliated with the faction headed by a group of fiends. Like us, they also know that this is the area that you're based in, and they weren't very happy with the way that you ruined their plans and stepped all over their honour. They're sure to plot against you if left to their own devices," concluded Agent McHoodface.
"I see…" I gave a non-committal answer as I contemplated everything she had told me.
There was a lot of information, but it was all fairly straight forward. There didn't seem to be anything particularly complicated or convoluted. Long story short, the demon realm consisted of two major political factions. One was headed by the demon lord that ruled over the realm. Alright, you know what? I know people use it to refer to him and all, but calling him a demon lord is just going to make this shit super confusing. I'mma just call him the demon king or the lord of the demon realm of something.
The demon king's faction was more liberal. It consisted of thinkers that wanted to change the way demons thought, people that understood that the king shouldn't always just be the guy that fared best in combat. The fact that a single fighter couldn't win them the war against humanity was something that they had awoken to after the many dangerous scenarios they'd experienced in recent times. Their motto was reconciliation. Those that flew the demon king's flag wished to cooperate with the other races.
On the other hand was a faction whose leadership consisted mostly of members of the fiend race. They were more traditional and valued muscle over brain power. They wanted demons to continue valuing strength over all else, and they believed that brute force conquest was the way to winning the war. They were convinced that they could literally smash right through all their enemies with naught but overwhelming power. And in the past, they hadn't been wrong. Demons were powerful, both from physical and magical standpoints. And that was the problem. Their method had precedence.
Apparently, despite not knowing the details, I managed to royally mess up one of their plans when I paid my good friend the prince a visit. Though I didn't know the plan's details, hearing her describe the opposing faction had led me to think that they weren't exactly the type to come up with schemes anywhere as complex as the one I had unravelled. Of course, I questioned her about it and she told me that, although brute force was at the core of their values, they did still have a few thinkers. One of the demon races that supported their ideology was made up of individuals that loved to conspire.
The king's faction didn't find the current state of the demon realm to be in their favour. The older school of thought was more prevalent amongst the populace. But unlike his political foes, the demon king had the support of all the other races. Most non-demons preferred to have those that inhabited the demon realm as their allies as opposed to their enemies. As such, the two parties were about equal in terms of overall influence.
Hearing her out made a disturbing fact immediately apparent. A civil war was imminent, one that would engulf the entire country with ease. The current state of the demon realm was like that of a keg stuffed full of gunpowder with a lit match sitting right on top of it. It was going to explode. Period. Almost kinda reminds me of the history of the Balkans.
That was the exact scenario that the demon king wanted to avoid, at least at the moment. Having fewer supporters would put them at a disadvantage in the case of an all out war. Though I guess that's why they're trying to make friends wherever they can, huh? Why else would they send someone all the way out here? We're literally in the middle of nowhere.
"What do you think, Leila?" I turned towards my trusty maid after considering everything I was told.
"Let's see…" She too paused to think, but just a moment before once again beginning to speak. "The state of the demon realm, as she described it, is fairly similar to the state it was in when I left. However, from the sounds of it, the situation has gotten much worse in a very short span of time. However, that isn't to say that it doesn't sound realistic. Leading the situation to degenerate so rapidly seems quite characteristic of the fiend faction's actions."
I spent another few moments contemplating the situation after hearing Leila confirm that it at least didn't seem like a total fib. Still, it didn't change my stance. The truth of the matter was that I didn't care which faction came out on top. I didn't care which of the two had the greater chance at victory, nor did I care about the moral high ground. It just wasn't any of my business. Civil war? Sure, whatever, I don't care. Have fun. You think a give half a fuck? Hell naw.
However, assuming the agent wasn't lying to me, the fiend faction had already classified me as an enemy, which meant I was going to have to deal with the idiots eventually. I was inclined to believe her. I didn't exactly think highly of them. They tried to use Lefi as a tool, a means for slaughter. And for that, I would never forgive them. There was a good chance that they would attempt to attack me, us, as a means of "restoring their honour," so it was better for me to proactively address the problem by nipping it in the bud before the fiends tried anything funny. But again, that was assuming that the agent was telling me the truth.
"As someone we share an enemy with, we want you to become one of our allies." Seeing that I hadn't yet been sold, the agent immediately followed up with another appeal. "We were hoping that we would be able to rely on each other for help should either of us ever need it."
"I get what you're saying, but honestly, I'm not sure I can trust you just yet," I said. "But alright, let's just assume that I do go ahead and decide to help you. What's in it for me? It doesn't really sound like you've put much on the table at all."
"The most valuable thing we can offer you is intel. We have been observing the fiends and those that work for them in close detail." The agent once again allowed her emotions to surface as she pursed her lips. "Unfortunately, that's all we can really offer. I hate to say this, but we don't have that much influence right now."
“Ehhh." I shrugged. "Yeah, I kinda figured.”
"We would like you to meet our king as soon as possible in order to discuss aspects like the reward in further detail. I know that we're not really in any position to be asking this of you, but could you please do us the favour of visiting the demon realm and speaking with our demon lord?" said the agent. "The truth is that our king truly wished to visit you in person, but it just wasn't feasible. He can't leave the throne vacant for so long in times like these."
I couldn't really find any fault in the king's choice. We were way out in the boonies. Visiting the dungeon seemed like the type of task that would take a good bit of time given its remote location. The monsters that populated the Wicked Forest didn't exactly do would-be travellers any favours either. Escorting a VIP through the forest simply wasn't practical.
"You guys sure love being courteous to your potential allies, huh?"
To be honest, I was surprised by their attitude. I never would have thought that the king would ever consider going through so much trouble just to get that one extra guy.
"We don't normally go this far," said the agent. "This case is an exception."
"Yuki, demon lord of the Wicked Forest, we have heard many tales of the strength you wield. You managed to completely dismantle one of the fiend faction's ploys during one of your visits to a human city. You are powerful enough to inhabit the Wicked Forest, a hostile environment marked unsuitable for life, and you are even on friendly terms with its ruler, the Supreme Dragon. Your ability to maintain a dungeon in the territory of a literal living legend is enough of a testament to your strength in and of itself. It is clear to us that you are extremely powerful."
Hearing her elicited a grimace. You know, when you put it like that, I do seem pretty impressive. But please don't. Honestly, I didn't really plan for any of this. It all just kinda happened. That whole friendly terms with the Supreme Dragon thing? Yeah, all I really did was feed her a bit of chocolate. You're almost making it sound like we suddenly started getting along because she acknowledged me or something. And man, these freaking spies. How the hell do they know so much about me? I guess that whole secret service class she's got isn't just for show, huh?
"Our king would love the opportunity to meet you so long as he is given a realistic opportunity to do so," said Agent McHoodface. "We would appreciate if you would give us a chance to win you over. I'm sure that he'll offer you plenty of rewards and benefits beyond what we discussed today should you consider aiding him. That's just how much we value you as an ally."
"I see…" Again, I spent a moment contemplating my choices. Specifically, I centred my thoughts on the demon realm itself. "I mean, it does sound like a pretty good vacation spot."
“Huh?” The intelligence operative blinked a few times in confusion.
"I was just talking to myself. Don't worry about it," I said.
I mean, it's called the friggin' demon realm. It's sure to be filled with all sorts of stuff the likes of which I've never seen. Yeah, you know what? This is perfect. I could totally just use this as an opportunity to take everyone out on a trip. Errrr, wait a second. Nonononono, hold up Yuki. The hell are you thinking? Fucking retard. The only reason this agent is here to begin with is just 'cause her boss wants me to help them fix the whole instability issue. God, I'm dumb as bricks. Why the hell would I even consider bringing the kids if the whole goddamn country could go up in flames at a moment's notice? Yeah, fuck that. Sorry girls, but Enne aside, you're just going to have to watch the house. That means Leila's probably going to need to stay too so they can be taken care of. Lyuu too, I guess. I mean, I think she's at least kinda useful… sometimes.
That just leaves Lefi, which is pretty much perfect. I've been meaning to take her somewhere anyway, you know, for a honeymoon and whatnot. This looks like it'd pretty much be the perfect opportunity for just that. I should probably talk to her about it first instead of just going ahead and booking us in, but we've been pretty flirty lately, so I'm pretty sure she'll totally give me the okay. Oh man, I'm getting pumped. I'm really liking the sound of a honeymoon right about now.
I wasn't really all that worried about the dungeon. I had set a bunch of traps and gotten myself new monsters precisely because I had seen times like these coming. There was always the possibility that the fiends might launch an attack on me while I was away, but as he was now, Rir could easily handle them by himself so long as they didn't bring anything as absurd as the monsters that lurked within the deepest parts of the Wicked Forest's western region. He's gotten hella stronk.
I still wasn't absolutely certain that my foes wouldn't manage to pull something, but they were currently stuck in a deadlock with the demon realm's king. Their pride was important, but they just didn't have the resources to waste. Even if they did try to launch an attack, it wouldn't be one that really mattered.
"I'm thinking of agreeing to meeting your king and whatnot, but I'm going to have to check with my wife first."
"Wait, aren’t you a dungeon master? You have a wife!?"
"Yup. She's just the most adorable thing. I could probably brag about her all day," I said with a grin. "Anyway, back on topic, we'll probably have everything figured out by tomorrow. You can go ahead and borrow a room if you need a place to stay. Heading home and coming back tomorrow sounds like it'd probably be a huge pain in the ass, so feel free."
"I hope you don't mind me taking you up on that offer," said Agent McHoodface in a guilty, reluctant tone of voice. "I've been attacked by way too many monsters today already…"
Yeahhhhh. The monsters around here are assholes. They basically attack everything they see. I guess that must mean you were chased around until you finally managed to make it all the way to the dungeon, huh? Though I guess it kinda makes sense. They're only called monsters because they're violent and ferocious after all. Oh, and because they can terrify the hell out of people.
"Well, I guess that settles that then." I turned to face the maid. "Sorry Leila, but could you do me a favour and get her set up to stay the night?"
“Of course, My Lord. I’ll have it done immediately.”
"I-I think I'll be fine. I've caused you enough trouble already. Just having a roof over my head is already way more than I could have asked for. I couldn't possibly impose any further. I can just figure everything out myself."
Agent McHoodface panicked as she tried to tell Leila that she didn't need any assistance. It seemed that she wasn't all that keen on having a celebrity do the work of a common servant just for her sake.
"It's fine. My Lord has already given the order." However the ever nonchalant, reliable maid insisted with a smile and continued to do her job nonetheless.
And that was that. With her lodgings decided, the agent and I ended our talks for the day. You know, now that I think about it, how the hell does Leila know about the Demon Realm's Secret Service? I mean, I casually asked her 'cause I figured she'd know since she knows all sorts of stuff, but that's only because I'm used to having the internet. Knowing about things like the FBI back where I lived was totally normal because of the nature of computer driven data. But here, that kinda stuff doesn't even exist. The average person shouldn't know that there even is a secret service. She totally did though. She even knew about the stuff they did. How the fuck…? Goddamn Leila. Just who the hell are you!?
I had assumed that speaking to someone who knew of Leila's past would allow me to learn more about her identity, but it had ended up doing the exact opposite. The shroud that obscured her past had only grown thicker.